Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 13th, 2006 at 9:54 am
No one knows our downtown streets better than bike messengers. So you think they’d have a loud voice in any plans to drastically alter that landscape. After all, they’re are a group of road users whose lives (and livelihood) depend on safe and accessible streets because they sometimes have just a few minutes to deliver a package from one end of town to another. The impending construction of a new bus mall in the heart of downtown will have a huge effect on their daily lives.
Yet despite this, their voice and input has been completely absent from the public planning process.
I think messengers have a unique and important perspective to share so I asked a few of them for their thoughts on this situation:
“The timing seems very bad. Naito is torn up and all that traffic is being diverted to 2nd. From about 3PM on 2nd Ave from Market to Burnside is a parking lot. The Burnside Bridge is trashed for the foreseeable future. This makes Burnside proper and all its feeder streets within a couple of blocks pretty hairy also. Our reputation not withstanding bike messengers actually prefer moving predictable traffic. If 5th and 6th are off limits for all traffic and diverted to the already congested east side of downtown it will be havoc. The buses will be throwing their weight around to make their stops. The cars with no other street detour options will be dodging the buses. Then the bike messengers with even less options will be dodging everyone. Messengers will put up with a lot, but the bike commuters might just give up. Or worse just get really really mad and end up on the cover of the paper again. Which is also bad for the messengers. However commuters behaving badly and the professionals being punished is a different topic. Move the buses to the west side or better yet wait till next summer. We can’t work around this one very well. The courthouses and bridges are still going to be in the middle of the mess. The clients and dispatchers are still going to want their packages moving at inhuman (inhumane?) speeds.”
This messenger wishes TriMet reached out to them more, but also calls out fellow messengers to get more involved:
“as messengers i think that we have to be and are highly adaptable to any street changes…It would be nice if trimet had some person to get feedback from the messenger community as we all use the same streets whether it legal or not…it seems to me that a lot of delivery personnel just sit back and let the city do whatever it wants and then whine about it instead of doing something to impact it for the better. it is a lot of meetings and bureaucratic work but i think it might pay off in the end and also pave the way for the messenger industry to be seen as a viable solution to the city traffic problem.
I was a little dissapointed to not see any cyclists in the video clip. also from a logistics point of view, i think all the tracks on the street in the rain might be tricky but that is where the adaptibilty comes in. from trimets perspective, the use of the bus mall by cyclists is a huge liability and i don’t think having a train will make it any better but we are there and we have to use it no matter what. i don’t think they should legislate morality but i do think they should acknowledge our use of the street. until then, a coworker of mine was talking about making bike stickers that say “i share the sidewalk” to offset the “i share the road” contingent.”
I realize TriMet has given opportunities for public input, but unfortunately it’s not in most messenger’s DNA to get involved with advocacy…even if it could make their job easier or even someday save their life. I hope this changes sooner rather than later.
For any messengers reading this post, I strongly urge you to attend the TriMet Open House this Wednesday. If you want to learn all the info and brush up on any details, here’s everything you need to know.