Archive | Equity

Your Questions For Neil, “Round 5”, Part 4 – Potpourri

And now, the final segment of our video interview with TriMet’s Neil McFarlane. This episode, “Potpourri”, featuring a variety of your questions.

Topics include:

  • Bikes on MAX cars – are there ways to add capacity?
  • Bike parking and bikeshare at MAX stations
  • TriMet’s take on carbon emissions – what will it take to get to net zero emissions?
  • Hybrid buses, past present and future, and electric buses
  • Weight of buses, number of wheels, and damage to roads
  • The new e-fare system (announced officially just before we recorded the interview)
  • Equity in the fare payment system, especially for cash-only users

Thanks once again to the Portland Opera for tolerating the mayhem of our intrepid video crew in their conference room.

Segment Navigation:

Eleven Reasons Portland Transport readers should come to the 2013 Weston Awards.


Hey, folks! My name is Aaron Brown, and I’m currently serving as Board President of Oregon Walks, the state’s pedestrian advocacy organization that’s been busy working to make streets safer for walking in the state since 1991. I’ll ask you to please excuse my remarkably obnoxious, buzzfeedesque title and format of this article, but I really wanted to extend a personal invitation to readers of Portland’s wonkiest, most wonderful blog to attend our third annual Weston Awards, to be held this October 26, 2013. I thought this enumerated list of reasons might convince you to swing by the North Star Ballroom next Saturday. Here we go!

  1. Every transit trip begins and ends with a walk. I’d imagine many readers of this blog are brought to the table of livable communities advocacy by their interest in transit options in the Portland region. The previous successes and ongoing advocacy of Oregon Walks are an often-overlooked but enormously crucial component of making transit a more effective, more viable, and more desirable option for getting around town. TriMet recently conducted a Pedestrian Network Analysis report highlighting the need for more safety, sidewalks and places to walk, and support of our organization helps us work with TriMet, Metro, and local jurisdictions to stand up for that all-important last-mile, or even last-block.OrWalkLogo_RGB[1]
  2. Making conditions safe for walking is a social justice issue. Thanks to the work of some remarkable, inspiring advocates and community organizers, the topic of safe streets in low-income and communities of color in East Portland has gained tremendous traction in recent years. This was reflected most recently in the unconscionable traffic fatality of 5-year old Morgan Maynard-Cook, who was walking on a stretch of SE 136th without sidewalks. Our organization is steadfastly working to make streets safer for all road users, and our initiative to do so implicitly helps communities that are less-likely to own automobiles, live on safer streets.
  3. Our work for empowerment and advocacy broadens the livable communities tent. As I presented the Oregon Walks letter to City Hall regarding SW Barbur last week, I noticed that I and the other twelve folks who testified were white men. This obviously points to some larger systemic issues about participation in our democracy, especially as it relates to transportation and planning decisions, and I’m proud to say that Oregon Walks is uniquely poised to help bring more folks to the table to stand up for livable, walkable communities. As an example of our work to promote social empowerment be sure to check out…
  4. PhotovoicePIC1-500x352[1]…our Photovoice Project, which will be on display, because it’s seriously rad. Thanks to a grant from the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund,  Oregon Walks has hired the wonderful Casey Ogden to implement a project in partnership with Adelante Mujures, in which Latina Women in Washington County are empowered to take photos of their unsafe streets and present them to elected officials.  The project, titled “Walking: paravida, familia, y comunidad,” represents the epitome of the next generation of walking advocacy, and I couldn’t be more excited to show their work to our Weston Awards audience.
  5. We’re all getting older. When I say that Oregon Walks is bringing new partners to the table, I’m proud to say our organization is partnering with some newer allies who are increasingly concerned with community design, access and mobility. Amongst our Weston Awards winners this year are Donna Green, who ran the City of Portland’s Senior Strolls program, and Bandana Shresthra, the Community Engagement Director with AARP Oregon. With these groups and others such as Elders in Action on board, Oregon Walks is eager to help us design and advocate for communities that will be ready for our region’s ever-shifting demographics.
  6. What better way to celebrate Walktober! We’re in our second year of celebrating Walktober, our monthlong collection of walking. Did you see our recent article in the Oregonian? Why not spend your Saturday evening walking to the Weston Awards? Go ahead and get off the bus a few stops early to enjoy a couple blocks of walking through North Portland.
  7. Did you ever feel so strongly about traffic laws you’ve felt like you practically wear them on your sleeves? If you swing by the Weston Awards, you’ll have a chance to pick up a limited edition, MUTCD-compliant Crosswalk Stop tshirt, as put together by our friends at Lancaster Engineering.
  8. Good Grub! We’ll have food from a handful of restaurants located on Mississsippi Avenue and beer from Thunder Island Brewing, the Cascade Locks-based brewery recently profiled by Michael Andersen over on BikePortland.
  9. We Need a New Executive Director. And your attendance (especially when you bring your checkbook, *cough*) will help us bring new staff on board. If you’ll excuse the pun, we’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill as we look to hire the next Executive Director to succeed the indefatigable, voraciously talented Steph Routh. We’re really excited to begin the recruiting process for our next hired staff, and we won’t be able to bring in the best and the brightest without your help.
  10. 22127a[1]The opportunity to thank a living legend in person. Ray Polani is the wonkiest, most wonderful nonagenarian you could be so lucky as to meet, and Oregon Walks is giving him a lifetime achievement award for his incredible work to support walking-friendly neighborhoods in the region. Check out this August 2013 interview in the Catholic Sentinel, where he calls the Columbia River Crossing “a disaster” and mentions the importance of designing communities for walking. Chris Smith called him “the dean of transit advocates in Portland,” and next Saturday is your chance to thank him in person for a tremendous career of advocacy. We should all be so lucky as to be thinking about transportation in Portland at age ninety.
  11. Biggest reason you should attend? The Westons are fun. Look, I’ve been to my share of gala dinners and events. Last year’s 2012 Weston Awards was, by far, the most enjoyable fundraiser I’ve ever attended. We’re a nimble, scrappy organization doing everything from sitting on planning committees, holding walking events, empowering new communities and supporting legislation all the way up to the state and national levels, and we know how to have a good time. And what better way to celebrate Halloween, the Sidewalk Holiday, than to attend a fundraiser for our state’s pedestrian advocacy organization?

Please buy a ticket! The Early Bird Price is in effect through the end of the weekend. If you’re unable to attend the event next Saturday but you’ve found any of this piece persuasive or enjoyable, consider making a donation, from $500 t0 $5. Any help at all is appreciated.

The Weston Awards
Saturday, October 26th, 2013
6:00 – 9:00pm
North Star Ballroom
635 N. Killingsworth Ct., Portland

Building Biker’s Paradise – and the Rest of Portland


Late last year, I was on a podcast talking about the Comprehensive Plan update and was asked about tips for where the best places to live in the future would be. Intuitively I answered “inner SE and inner NE are going to get even more awesome”.

Last week, my intuition got validated by some data. Roger Geller, bicycle coordinator at the Portland Bureau of Transportation, has been analyzing data from the Oregon Household Activity Survey. He’s been looking at how cycling has grown from 1994 to 2011 and how it will need to grow to hit a 25% mode share by 2035. The answer varies quite a bit by geography.

You can find Roger’s white paper and the slides he presented at Metro last week online.

The graphic above shows Roger’s estimate of the mode split in different parts of town to meet the Portland Plan goal of getting single-occupancy vehicle trips down to about 40% of all trips.

A note on how to read the graphic – it refers to the trips generated by households in the area of town. So if I drive to 82nd Ave from my home in NW, that trip is assigned to “West PDX” where I live.

“Inner East”, the area I intuitively suggested was “going to get even more awesome” has a lot going for it on the path to becoming “Biker’s Paradise”. First, the majority of Portland’s population lives in this area, and therefore it generates more than half the trips. But densities are consistently moderately high, there are lots of services available as destinations, and it’s proximate to the jobs center in Portland’s central city.

That’s a perfect mix for leveraging the Portland Plan goals of making walking the preferred mode for trips under one mile and cycling the preferred mode for trips under 3 miles. There are a LOT of trips of this distance by folks living in this area. That’s why Roger can project more than one-third of trips by bicycle in 2035 for households in this area.

But what about the rest of the city? Outer East is challenged by lower average densities, a lack of destinations and a long distance to employment areas (downtown and various industrial districts).

Southwest is challenged by hills and the lack of a grid system.

I’m actually hopeful that we can outperform some of Roger’s numbers for cycling in these areas, but equity is going to demand that if cycling can’t perform as well, then we need to disproportionately invest in transit in these area.

I’m hopeful that electric bikes may boost the cycling numbers, conquering the hills in Southwest and the longer distances in Outer East. But here’s my recipe for how to optimize the results in each area:

Outer East:

  • Build sidewalks!
  • Improve frequent transit network with more frequency and addition of north/south lines
  • Encourage more mixed used development and commercial centers (we’ve already started this with zoning on 122nd)
  • Encourage development of jobs centers in Gateway and Lents so there are employment opportunities closer to the population


Inaccessible Accessibility: low-income households and barriers to the “new American dream”

Speaker: Arlie Adkins, PhD Candidate in Urban Studies, PSU

Topic: Inaccessible Accessibility: Low-Income Households and Barriers to the “New American Dream”

In many ways, the resurgence in demand for housing in highly accessible and walkable neighborhoods can be viewed as a triumph of planning and policy efforts to reinvest in walkable urban neighborhoods that support active travel. However, increased demand has resulted in price premiums that can make location-efficient housing choices more difficult for low-income households. This research uses data from a survey of recent movers in six U.S. cities, including Portland, to explore the extent to which households of different economic means are able to choose housing locations that match their accessibility and transportation preferences.

When: Friday, June, 7, 12-1 p.m.

Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204

Portland State University
Spring 2013 Friday Transportation Seminar Series

Sharing the Benefits




One of the keys to equity in transportation investments is to make sure that all sectors of a society share in the benefits. For cycling, one of the best looks at this is the Community Cycling Center’s “Understanding the Barriers to Cycling” report (PDF).

It looks at the very specific needs of different groups. For example, at Hacienda, a housing development in NE Portland, bicycle theft is a big issue. So secure storage is a barrier.

At New Columbia, the issue was keeping bikes in good repair. That’s why it was a special pleasure to attend the grand opening of New Columbia’s “Bike Hub” tonight. The hub is a project of the Community Cycling Center and a variety of public and private organizations, including the Portland Development Commission. The structure itself was a design-build project done by college students (a joint program including PNCA) in just a few weeks.

In addition to the basic repair shed, the project also includes a bicycle-themed sculpture. And at tonight’s festivities there was an open-air repair clinic.

Here’s to keeping those bikes working!