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PBOT Director Leah Treat on pricing auto use, bike-only streets, and more

Posted by on April 17th, 2014 at 10:58 am

PBOT Director Leah Treat
PBOT Director Leah Treat last summer.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Nine months into her position as the Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Leah Treat appears to be finally ready to spread her wings. We’ve noted here at BikePortland that for someone in charge of one of America’s marquee transportation systems, and someone who came to town with such fanfare, Treat has been relatively quiet in laying out any sort of vision for what she wants Portland streets to look like.

But now, finally, we have reason to believe that might be changing.

Next Tuesday (4/22), Treat is slated to speak at the Sentinel Hotel as part of a partnership between the City of Club of Portland and the Oregon Active Transportation Summit. With the title of her talk being, Portland Transportation: Today & Tomorrow, this event will likely be the first major policy speech of her tenure.

Given all this, we figured it was a good time to sit down for an interview to learn more about what she’s been thinking and how her leadership might impact cycling and local street culture in general. Due to sickness (mine) and scheduling, we ended up chatting on the phone yesterday and we only had limited time. Even so, we covered some good ground and you can read our conversation below…

Have you been riding your bike into work?

Every day.

What’s your route?

“I think PBOT has been through enough visioning over the last several years that we don’t need to revisit that. We know what we value and what our business is.”

I ride from northeast, the Sabin neighborhood to downtown. I go north up to Going then across to Vancouver. I feel safer being in the large group of cyclists on Vancouver and I think drivers are used to seeing cyclists there. Then I go through the Rose Quarter and hit the Steel Bridge to the Esplanade. I’m trying to take the safest route possible. I used to go across [SW] Broadway [through downtown]. I rode Broadway because I really liked to get a hill climb in the morning to get energized for my day; but I got clipped twice and had several near misses on right hooks so I moved away from using Broadway. I would use the green bike lane on Broadway… And even with all that green paint I got clipped twice which scared me and so I decided to go to the Esplanade because it seems safer.

From a bike facility perspective, what’s the worst part of your daily route?

We need to work on the traffic signals at NE Holladay and Wheeler [at the Rose Quarter Transit Center] where the light rail station comes in. If you’re not the fastest cyclist in the world, you can get trapped in that. And the pedestrians there are really trying to get to the train and aren’t going to let a cyclist through. We’re looking at signal timing in that area.

Seems like you’ve gained some important insight into our bikeways from your daily rides, does it concern you that no one on our current City Council rides a bike on a regular basis?

[PBOT Communications Director Dylan Rivera, who was also on the phone call, interjected: "Those guys are so busy. They're multi-modal. They work 14 and 16 hours days."]

I was doing some meetings with First Stop Portland and Nancy Hales [wife of Mayor Charlie Hales] rides her bike everyday from Sellwood. I was really impressed by that. Martha Pelligrino and Nills Tillstrom [staff in the Office of Government Relations] ride every day. And [Mayor Hales' Chief of Staff] Gail Shibley walks everyday. As for City Council members themselves? That’s a good question. I would love to take them out on a ride.

In an Oregonian interview in November, you said the stagnation is just a “marketing issue”. If that’s true, why do you think our bicycling numbers have leveled off?

[There was a relatively long pause before this answer.]

I’d answer that in a different way. If we want to get more people to ride, we have to provide safe facilities to do so. Focus on people who are the ‘interested but concerned’ group. They’re the group we need to be targeting and their biggest barriers are safety. So we need to be installing infrastructure that makes people feel safe.

We are doing some great things: We’re doing a cycle track on NE Multnomah, and SW Multnomah is currently under construction; buffered bike lanes on Williams; and when PMLR [TriMet's new Tilikum Crossing transit/bike/walk only bridge] opens up it will add several miles of great new facilities for biking.

I think we’re doing the right things to grow our numbers; but I also believe we need to launch bike share.

In other cities it’s increasing the number of people who ride bikes. It’s also closing the gender gap, and we need to get more women out on the roads. The majority of our increase [in bicycle ridership] has been in the male population. Women need to feel safe. a lot of data shows that women are more likely to use a bike share bike than purchase one on their own for last-mile trips or errands around town or other things they would have relied on a car for because it’s not as expensive, women don’t know as much about maintenance, and so on.

Do you think women will feel safe riding in downtown Portland on a bike share bike?

I think so. I hope so. Those things [the bikes used for bike share] are tanks so it’s really hard to be a crazy cyclist zipping through town on a bike share bike. They’ll be on a pretty heavy piece of equipment. And downtown, it’s not protected infrastructure; but from my experiences, Portland has a really great street system downtown for bicycling. And cars, despite my experiences on Broadway, cars are very respectful of bikes. Cars are used to other modes being there.

Bike share has gone through some major delays and although it appears PBOT has a funding partner, can you tell us why no announcement has been made?

No. No I can’t talk about that. [laughs] I just can’t.

Speaking of riding downtown, what’s the latest on the $6 million project to improve bike access in the central city?

[Treat didn't seem aware of the project and Rivera interjected to say it's not on PBOT's radar or "imminent" at the moment.]

Policymakers Ride - Gorge Edition-23
PBOT Director Leah Treat riding the Historic
Columbia River Highway in August 2013.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’re focusing right now on the 20s network. We have a very small staff that’s dedicated to this work. They only have so much bandwidth and we’re putting that into those projects — the 50s [bikeway] and the 20s.

The 20s especially is probably one of the most controversial projects we’ve proposed in the last several years. It’s highly controversial. This whole nine mile stretch has a 3/4 mile hang-up on it. I’m confident we’ll get a solution and it’ll be a really great bikeway; but the argument over parking is driving the conversation on that 3/4 mile of bikeway and hanging up the project. What I’m hoping we’ll end up doing is focusing on the other 8 and 1/4 miles and get that installed while we work with the business community where parking is such a precious commodity.

Can you clarify what exactly the “hang-up” is on that 3/4 of a mile?

People are terrified that their businesses are going to shutter if they lose on-street parking. I don’t agree with them but I understand their fear of change and their wanting to protect that space. It could very likely be that those spaces are being used by their employees. We don’t know who’s using that parking and why they’re defending it so adamantly. The reaction is also coming from the two big developments nearby that have no or low auto parking. One of them has 400 units and the neighborhood is freaking out that they might not be able to park in front of their house so they’re bringing that angst to the 20s Bikeway conversation. So I’ve been trying to focus the conversation on values and what we want our neighborhoods to look like. That type of development is what we want. Those 400 new units coming in are bringing 400 new customers to those businesses. if they’re an economically viable business they’ll profit even more from all those people near their shops and restaurants and they’ll want to shop there because maybe they don’t have car [to take them further away]. I don’t know where we’ll end up.

“I want to start talking about dedicating entire roadways to bikes and peds because it would solve lot of issues in the central eastside.”

I’ve walked away from that conversation knowing how important parking is in that neighborhood and if we don’t make compromises we should be metering that zone. It’s [the parking is] obviously that valuable that we need to put a price on it. It’s highly valuable public space that we’re likely undervaluing.

Overall, I want to overhaul parking citywide, but we need to have a plan. If there’s not a scarcity of parking it doesn’t make sense to price it. It’s very hard to make the business case to price parking where there’s no scarcity. But where demand exceeds supply, we should have policy in place to allow us to properly value that right-of-way — residential parking permits, valet parking zones, congestion pricing, commercial loading zone permits, and so on. I think in order for us to have a credible conversation about parking we need to have plan developed and policies in place and our [pricing] algorithms figured out. We need to study that and we don’t have anybody on staff that has that capacity right now. In the next year we will be producing that capacity.

I’ve been here 9 months and I’m still constantly surprised by the lack of priced parking and how much free parking storage we give away.

Another project you’re working on is a two-year action plan. What’s the latest on that effort?

We awarded the contract to [planning firm] Nelson/Nygaard a few weeks ago. We want to take a look at, what are actionable items from management down to staff. I think PBOT has been through enough visioning over the last several years that we don’t need to revisit that. We know what we value and what our business is… Over the next two years, what are the time-specific deliverables we’re going to commit to and be very public and transparent about it? And there will be stretch goals and we might not make all of them. But that’s part of running a business, you re-evaluate and re-steer if you don’t meet your goals.

It’s about trying to deliver more transparency — people are dying to get it. They’re asking us: What are you doing? How are you spending our money? Part of the final product will be a dashboard on our website where you can interact with our data and look at our progress.

You’ve been here nine months now. Are there certain bike projects you’re dreaming about?

I’m sure someone has thought of this before, but I am really interested in dedicating specific roads to bicycles. You may have heard that I’m one of the Daniel Rose Fellows for the City of Portland. Our study area is the central eastside. One of the things I’d like to do and one of the outcomes of our plan for the central eastside is to dedicate a road to bicyclists and pedestrians and dedication another road to freight. That’s one of the biggest issues over there — how all the modes interact. I want to start talking about dedicating entire roadways to bikes and peds because it would solve lot of issues in the central eastside. I don’t know if it could be replicated elsewhere in the city; but that could be the pilot study area. Freight and business would be happy and users would be happy. We’ll see what I can get away with.

You’ve got a big City Club speech coming up on Tuesday. Sort of your first major public speech. What can we expect to hear?

I’m going to talk about bike share. I’m a huge advocate of it. And I want to talk about Vision Zero and safety issues. There will be a little bit about talking to advocates about how to be effective within in a government structure. I will also deal with the issue of, how do we move forward when our conversation has devolved to fighting over eight-feet of lane width?

Any bike events you’re particularly looking forward to this spring and summer?

Sunday Parkways. My favorite thing in the world is Sunday Parkways. Other than that, we get out as a family on the weekends. We bike pretty much everywhere. We just got my second son off of training wheels [her boys are ages seven and nine]. And the twins [five years old], they haven’t grown up in Portland and had opportunity to ride in these great protected networks before so they’re still on training wheels. I see all my neighbors with three-year-olds off training wheels! We just got the twins out of the cargo bikes.

Where do you ride on weekends?

We explore the parks and just hang out, and eat packed lunches. Taking four kids to a restaurant at those ages is a death wish. I’d much rather have them riding around and being active.

— Hear more from Treat at her speech on Tuesday (4/22). You can reserve a seat until this Friday.

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  • V$ April 17, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Light timing in the Rose Quarter? That’s the worst part about a commute to downtown? How about the fact that I’ve been nearly hit three times by a car running the stop sign at the 405 entry/exit? Put in a damn light!

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  • kiel johnson April 17, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Don’t we already have a bike master plan? Do we need to spend more time developing a 2 year action plan? John Keynes said about the economy, “in the long run we are all dead”

    By the time we have made a plan to do our previous plan, there will be new people in charge with another plan who need more planning, and we will all be dead before the anything happens with the first plan which has been changed by all the planning.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) April 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      For clarity’s sake, the two-year plan is for all of PBOT, not just bikeway stuff, paving stuff, ped crossing stuff, parking stuff, etc.

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    • spare_wheel April 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      We are 4 years into the 2030 bike plan and mode share has not even budged. I think it’s wishful thinking to believe that the incredibly meager infrastructure improvements under consideration are going to have any real impact.

      IMO, the only way we see 20% mode share by 2030 is to implement an anti-car plan. Anti-car plans not only improve health and quality of life but they can be relatively revenue neutral (e.g. feasible under today’s fiscal constraints).

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  • J_R April 17, 2014 at 11:27 am

    What I find amazing is that she says “I got clipped twice and several near misses on right hooks” and her reaction is to pick a different route. How about using her position to push for better designs and ENFORCEMENT!

    How about some dedicated enforcement actions by officers at these locations on Broadway and some tickets for failure to yield to a bike in a bike lane and maybe some careless driving citations, too?

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    • Tony April 17, 2014 at 11:40 am

      In my communications with PBOT, they claim that they don’t request enforcement. If that’s true, I think it’s a glaring example of stovepiping. These agencies should be talking to one another and working together. PBOT just installed speed bumps on SE Gladstone, west of 39th. In the years leading up to that, I’ve never seen enforcement there. This means that PBOT spent thousands of dollars to deal with speeding drivers with little effort (that I observed) on the enforcement end.

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      • davemess April 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

        When did those go in, I was just on that road a week and a half ago and I don’t think they were there.
        I always thought the roundabouts slowed down what meager traffic there already was.

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        • Tony April 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm

          Days ago. Maybe Monday/Tuesday.

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        • spencer April 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm

          they are still installing them, but traffic volume is already down. They should also put candlesticks in the bike lane around the islands to prevent people from just using the bikelane to drive down gladstone at 40 mph

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          • Tony April 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm

            I think candlesticks would just get knocked down, plus if there are no cars along the road with me, I’d rather go straight and leave the bikelane for a bit. I really think what they need to do is redo the angle of the bike lane so it’s not so last minute. It would cost them another parking spot each way per island, but so be it.

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          • Spiffy April 18, 2014 at 9:03 am

            yes, they just repainted the lines and they’re already wearing out from people rounding the corners around the traffic circles…

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          • Bald One April 22, 2014 at 2:19 pm

            I had several conversations with the city engineers at PBOT about these traffic calming islands on SE Gladstone in the past number of years. They are ineffective and not enough of a deterrent to slow cars down. It gives the road more of a monte carlo grad prix kind of effect for cars – to speed around the island because you can. The bike lanes actually divert enough into the gutter so that cars are allowed to pass cyclists inside of the traffic calming island space. This is ridiculous. City engineers told me they agree and didn’t like these “early versions” of design and wouldn’t do them the same way if they did it over. Guess what – they just completely tore up the street and re-did the whole area, but failed to change or even modify in the least the traffic islands. Same old same old. I guess the newly installed speed bumps will help, but why not make the traffic islands actually do what they are supposed to do when you have the chance to re-do something and funds are set to spend.

            Again, this article comments section has many of the complaints the city is quite blind to: stovepipe mentality in government, city too busy planning to actually get more hands-on with street level issues, etc.

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        • paikikala April 23, 2014 at 10:20 am

          neighborhood traffic circles are not roundabouts.

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      • Scott H April 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

        PBOT doesn’t request enforcement? That seems bananas to me. PBOT could install signage and traffic control devices all day long and it wouldn’t mean an thing if people think they law won’t be enforced.

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        • Tony April 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm

          Welcome to Portland’s concern for Greenways. They build them and then walk away.

          I know we disagreed about enforcement on that story on the parking spots, but I think the hammer needs to come down on moving violations. The lack of enforcement is nearly criminal. I’m on Gladstone between 42nd and 52nd and we’ve had 1 token 20 minute enforcement in the last 6-7 years. And that was 3 years ago. And how many PR driven enforcements in Ladd’s aimed at bikes? I promise the city this, if someone eventually gets hurt (or worse) on this portion of Gladstone, I will testify about all the futile calls I’ve made to 823-SAFE and PBOT. They really should just have an automated voice message that says, “Okay, you’ve called, now go away,” because that’s about how seriously they take those calls.

          This evening I’ll count half a dozen cars bypassing the diverter and countless cars doing 35 when the limit is 20. But who cares right? Portland gets to claim another Greenway on their website.

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          • Psyfalcon April 17, 2014 at 9:43 pm

            Time for a camera and some Youtube shaming.

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          • Spiffy April 18, 2014 at 9:07 am

            when did Gladstone become a 20 mph zone?

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          • Bald One April 22, 2014 at 2:10 pm

            Tony, I used to live right there. That is basically a school zone for Creston K-8 from 50th to 45th. I’ve seen kids nearly get hit by cars rushing through. It’s better now than it was before the diverter at 42nd, but still too much speeding of cars. I had requested enforcement a number of times, too. You should ask city to make that section a school zone – provides more visibility for enforcement.

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      • Resopmok April 18, 2014 at 6:56 am

        Those speed bumps are a reinstallation, they were there before Gladstone was repaved. Pbot is just a bit late in putting them back in.

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      • paikikala April 23, 2014 at 10:21 am

        823-SAFE coordinates enforcement with PPB, but you have to give a specific time of day so resources can be targeted.

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    • dan April 17, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      She got hit twice in 9 months? Either there’s something wrong with the infrastructure, or she’s doing something funky.

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      • davemess April 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

        I thought that maybe she was using “clipped” to describe something else?

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    • AG April 18, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Exactly! This is my and many others’ daily commute and its dangerous every day. If we all tried to get across the Steel Bridge it would be mayhem.

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  • kiel johnson April 17, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Us commenters kinda sound a little curmudgeonly. I think we just have high hopes. It is exciting that she sounds ready to take on free parking!

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    • MaxD April 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      I hope she will advocate for raising taxes on surface parking lots, too!

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    • was carless May 5, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      If you are a public servant, you can’t “take on” anything. You are beholden to your boss, who is a publicly elected official. The change we want can only happen by political directive from the mayor’s office.

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  • Tony April 17, 2014 at 11:45 am

    When you keep getting “there’s only a small group working on X” and that obviously translates into “there’s only so much money” I think the department should be more serious about additional revenue.

    In the 9 months she’s been here she’s noticed that we are neglecting to utilize a massive funding source in under priced and free parking. These street side spaces still must be maintained as actual roadway, so they aren’t cheap.

    It is a political bomb to take on parking pricing, but it needs to be done if we’re serious about solving our transportation problems. It’s not really acceptable to not have plans in place for when we get enough backbone on the city council to take this issue on.

    Putting the money into developing plans for managing parking supply is an excellent investment because it will pay for itself. I hope Director Treat recognizes this and devotes adequate staff and resources to doing so.

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    • Chris I April 17, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      It sounds like she definitely has the right ideas when it comes to pricing parking. We can’t price it when there isn’t scarcity, but it’s just as bad to not price it when there is. I was thinking about this Tuesday night as I hunted for a parking spot near NW 21st for about 10 minutes (my wife and I had been volunteering in Beaverton, so we were driving). Residents and businesses in these neighborhoods need to understand that as more people move in and property values increase, the value of the public ROW increases as well. If you were to sell street spots in Parkrose, you might get $20 a year. You would get hundreds of dollars a year renting a parking spot in NW Portland, so it is absolutely insane that we don’t charge for parking. I am less likely to spend money at businesses in NW and on Hawthorne because I can never find a parking spot. I think that the business owners don’t consider these factors.

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      • maccoinnich April 17, 2014 at 5:07 pm

        As far as I understand it, parking meters are being installed in most of the NW District this year. The majority of the areas will be metered, with 4 hours max (with permits available for residents). Along 21st and 23rd it’ll 2 or 4 hours max, depending on location, and metered for everyone.

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        • Reza April 17, 2014 at 5:19 pm

          Here’s the map: http://media.oregonlive.com/portland_impact/photo/nwdistrictparkingmanagementplan5-2jpg-1de1e77cd038fc0d.jpg

          I’m really glad they’re going to meter the side streets between 24th and 20th or 18th, and not just the main commercial streets on 21st and 23rd.

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          • maccoinnich April 17, 2014 at 5:23 pm

            Do you know what the logic was behind keeping the zone K area as is? It will be surrounded on 3 sides by metered parking.

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            • Reza April 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm

              Great question. Seems like stakeholders in Zone K did not want meters at this time, but they are apparently authorized under the Northwest District Parking Plan to receive meters should they request them from the City in the future. It seems like they realize the pressures that the district could face being surrounded by meter districts.

              Read about it here: http://parkingzonek.com/ZoneK1013.pdf

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          • Spiffy April 18, 2014 at 9:15 am

            good… now our employees will be forced to use our parking lot and will stop hogging on-street parking just because they’re lazy…

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          • was carless May 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm

            Wow. I didn’t think that I would ever live to see that happening – the neighborhood has been fighting parking reform for at least 20-30 years. I gave up visiting NW several years ago due to the terrible parking and biking conditions up there.

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      • Spiffy April 18, 2014 at 9:10 am

        I am less likely to spend money at businesses in NW and on Hawthorne because I can never find a parking spot. I think that the business owners don’t consider these factors.

        I’m less likely to drive to businesses in NW and on Hawthorne because I can never find a parking spot. I still go there via other modes because I like those businesses. I think that the business owners don’t consider these factors.

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    • wsbob April 17, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Charging for street parking is mainly a revenue source. Unless the money from it is used to create more room to park cars, charging doesn’t provide more parking. With paid parking, the people driving around the block because they can’t find a parking spot, will still be facing that situation.

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      • Reza April 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

        Not true. Managing on-street parking helps to encourage turnover which makes it more likely you will find a space. Garages can help but ONLY if on-street spaces are managed at a price that is high enough that most would rather head straight to the garage rather than circle around the block endlessly.

        NW has had discussions to build new garages forever but it will never pencil as long as on-street spaces remain free.

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      • Chris I April 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm

        So you don’t think that giving away a valuable commodity for free encourages people to use it? Have you read the studies about the SF Park system and its affect on parking spot cruising in San Francisco?

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        • wsbob April 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm

          “So you don’t think that giving away a valuable commodity for free encourages people to use it? …” Chris I

          What I was saying is that simply putting a price on street parking, isn’t increasing room on the street to park.

          Although in acknowledgment of Reza’s response to my comment, if there’s an appealing garage parking price, relative to that for street parking, some people that would otherwise park on the street, may choose the parking garage instead. I wonder how great the price differential between street and garage needs to be, to get people to choose the garage, over street parking.

          Charging for street parking is an additional low blow for people that have to live on the cheap, and have to drive a motor vehicle. Cost for street parking, is no barrier whatsoever, to people that have the money.

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          • TonyJ April 18, 2014 at 12:43 am

            Charging for parking isn’t a low blow for poor people. Making poor people pay for bundled parking in their housing is a low blow. If we’re really concerned about equity, there are ways we can subsidize parking for persons who need the subsidy.

            If we charge for parking and improve our bike and transit networks we will enable more people to get by without as much (or any) car use. Free parking is a handout to people who can afford to pay for it.

            Performance based parking does effectively “create more spots” as it reduces cruising by pricing as to create an empty spot (if you’re willing to pay) on every block face. If you won’t pay the price for the empty spot, then you need to drive far enough away that the price is something you’re willing to pay.

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            • wsbob April 18, 2014 at 8:56 am

              “Charging for parking isn’t a low blow for poor people. …” TonyJ

              Charging for parking on the street, is part of what I wrote was a low blow for people without a lot of money. Having off-street parking at people’s residence is a definite step up, and worth it to residents to pay something for.

              I suppose ‘no car’ housing could have the effect of creating more demand for street parking that doesn’t require a fee, or that’s less than garage or lot parking, thus helping to justify argument in favor or charging for street parking.

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              • TonyJ April 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm

                Off street parking is only worth it if you have a car and need a car. If your apartment building is required to have an underground lot, then you’re paying for parking you might not use (even if there are less spots than apartments). This is why we tried to fight parking minimums.

                By forcing everyone, including poor people, to subsidize parking we have driven up the cost of housing (and other things) close to the city center and other places where people work. If you are of limited income, then housing becomes more expensive, so you move out to where it’s more affordable for a developer to build a surface lot. By being forced out where land is cheaper, you need a car to get to work…

                If people paid for all their parking as a separate line item rather than being bundled in the cost of their housing, groceries, taxes, etc, people of limited means would have more money to put towards living in a more accessible area.

                I didn’t make this stuff up.

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              • Chris I April 21, 2014 at 7:49 am

                You seem to be forgetting that the poorest people in America are also the least likely to own cars. The majority of car-free households in Portland are very poor. The Lars Larson crowd likes to paint an image of low-car and car-free Portland as “greenies” or trendy yuppy types. This is not the reality.

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                • 9watts April 21, 2014 at 7:52 am

                  I think the reality is that (some) people of all walks of life don’t have cars. Renters are disproportionately carfree, it is true, but most of my carfree friends are homeowners and are anything but poor.

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          • was carless May 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm

            No, but it discourages people from driving, I mean, parking their car all day every day in the same spot.

            Charging for space by the minute/hour = $$$ = car parked there for less time = more cars parked there each day = more customers.

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      • Terry D April 17, 2014 at 9:02 pm

        San Francisco has been experimenting with smart meters that are attached to an ap with your smart phone. Thus, you know exactly where open spaces are and how much per hour since they are demand priced. This solves the “driving around the block” issue from a technology standpoint for many. It is working very well last I read about it.

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        • Spiffy April 18, 2014 at 9:20 am

          an app to look for a parking space? that’s almost the worst idea ever… people already in a hurry distracted by their phones while they’re driving… horrible!

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  • Alan 1.0 April 17, 2014 at 11:51 am

    “I see all my neighbors with three-year-olds off training wheels!”

    So, there are lots of used balance bikes in that neighborhood, maybe even a kick bike for her five year olds.

    Go, Leah! I like your ideas!

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  • spare_wheel April 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    “Focus on people who are the ‘interested but concerned’ group. They’re the group we need to be targeting and their biggest barriers are safety.”

    I have yet to see a single survey in OR/Portland that specifically surveys barriers to cycling for the “interested but concerned”. In fact, a recent limited survey by Jennifer Dill suggested that the majority were comfortable riding in sub-par standard bike lanes. And for the record, I think conventional door zone bike lanes are terrible infrastructure.

    I suspect that the biggest barrier is not cycling infrastructure but rather the relative ease of motoring and finding parking in Portland. I would also argue that it’s no surprise that the biggest jump in cycling mode share occurred when gas prices and an economic crunch discouraged motoring.

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    • Justin April 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      I’m not sure what part of this research you’re referring to, but you can see here on Page 31:
      http://ppms.otrec.us/media/1343164608500f10c0b01a0.pdf
      that adding a standard bike lane to a hypothetical street would make 2 percent of the “interested but concerned” very comfortable, and less than 40 percent very or somewhat comfortable. Adding a physically separated lane would make 43 percent very comfortable (and more than 80 percent very or somewhat comfortable).

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      • spare_wheel April 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm

        the average “comfort” score for the interested but concerned for a crappy conventional bike lane on a 25-30 mph street was 2.7 out of 4. in other words, most of the interested but concerned would be comfortable riding in a sub-standard conventional bike lane on williams.

        so much for the argument that perceived safety is the major issue holding back the interested but concerned…

        you would also think a funded investigator like dill would be aware that buffered bike lanes, not standard bike lanes, are the default facility on 30+ mph roads in pdx.

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        • davemess April 18, 2014 at 6:39 am

          Your last statement is not true at all. I think it meant to read “are standard for new facilities built in Portland”? There are tons of roads in Portland with unbuffered bikes lanes and 35mph speed limits (Pretty much any road around me in outer SE that has a bike lane fits that bill).

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          • spare_wheel April 18, 2014 at 7:56 am

            thanks for coorecting me: i did mean default for new facilities,

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  • jonno April 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    “It’s [the parking is] obviously that valuable that we need to put a price on it. It’s highly valuable public space that we’re likely undervaluing.”

    “I’ve been here 9 months and I’m still constantly surprised by the lack of priced parking and how much free parking storage we give away.”

    At the very least, these are the right noises to be making about street parking issues. Good to hear a city leader making these kinds of common sense statements.

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  • Jonathan Gordon April 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    She’s been clipped twice by cars and still rides her bike every day. LEAH TREAT IS A BADASS! I hope she is able to push through on her vision for pricing parking effectively. Thanks for the great interview Jonathan!

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    • Anonymous April 17, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Badass would be changing the street infrastructure instead of changing her route. Still riding her bike everyday despite getting hit is relatively normal, though. I want to see her vision bring Portland back to Number 1 again. I’m holding out for her speech on Tuesday.

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      • Jonathan Gordon April 18, 2014 at 9:50 am

        HA HA HA! I get it. You’re being ironic, right? I mean, posting anonymously about someone else’s courage. That’s hilarious. Good one.

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  • Babygorilla April 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    That’s the ultimate non-answer on the bike share question. Either there is a signed sponsor or not. If there is, then she can say there is without announcing who the sponsor is (it makes sense that they would want to coordinate logo / design / branding for a public unveiling which realistically would be months out given the time needed to secure bikes / facilities, etc.).

    If there isn’t a signed sponsor, then 1) PBOT falsified a grant application; and 2) PBOT erroneously paid ALTA’s invoice (reported by the Merc last week) for work ALTA hasn’t done yet and PBOT wasn’t contractually obligated to pay to ALTA.

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    • Oregon Mamacita April 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      ORS 162.117¹
      Public investment fraud

      (1) A person commits the crime of public investment fraud if, for the purpose of influencing in any way the action of the State Treasury, the person knowingly makes any false statement or report.

      (2) Public investment fraud is a Class B felony.

      Clearly, Mr. Novick and Ms. Treat have some explaining to do. The release of the grant money would presumably be an action of the State Treasury.

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  • Rebecca April 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I am very happy to hear these Shoup-y statements coming from our director. Nice to have someone with an economic understanding of this supply and demand situation steering the ship.

    If we’ve got the political will to put those ideas into practice, I’ll be even happier.

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  • dan April 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    If there’s not a scarcity of parking it doesn’t make sense to price it. It’s very hard to make the business case to price parking where there’s no scarcity.

    But there is a scarcity of roads / areas that are friendly and safe for bikes, pedestrians, and small children. So…maybe we should price parking appropriately to increase the number of places that are optimal for people, not for subsidized storage of private property.

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  • Anonymous April 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Is complete streets a lost idea these days? I don’t like making “separate but equal roads” for road share. Bike only roads vs. freight only roads. Isn’t that what trails and highways are for? What about a complete-streets movement that focuses on people first?

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    • paikikala April 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

      Division east of 122nd is a complete street, but not really safe to cross as a pedestrian.

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  • Stephanie B April 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Personally I love the idea of a street or two without cars. It sounds wonderful and it always depresses me that such a small change seems like a completely impossible thing.

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    • 9watts April 17, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      yeah, until the folks in their horseless carriages harangue you for biking one street over.

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  • Reza April 17, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Correction: I think she meant that she takes the Waterfront Path (west side) to work, not the Esplanade, since she specifically mentions riding the Steel Bridge.

    I’d love to hear what she has to say about this route once it gets sunny and hopelessly crowded in the summer.

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    • Spiffy April 18, 2014 at 9:28 am

      technically you can’t use the east side of the steel bridge MUP without being on the esplanade, if even for only 75′…

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  • daisy April 17, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I really wonder if folks would be so nasty to a PBOT director who was a man.

    This is a great interview. I’m thrilled we have Leah at the helm. Thanks to Bike Portland and Leah both!

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    • dan April 18, 2014 at 9:08 am

      Speaking only for myself: yes. ;-)

      Just a few years ago, a cyclist got doored on my street. The street was completely empty, and he had been biking within a foot or two of parked cars. I walked over to make sure he was OK, and he was fuming that it was the “second time this month” that he had gotten doored. I let him know that he was doing it wrong…

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    • Spiffy April 18, 2014 at 9:28 am

      no, I think they would be nastier…

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  • Terry D April 17, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Step 1: Get street fee passed so there is a baseline local funding source for streets like most major cities (please no fights since we know this will happen) paid by businesses and households.
    Step 2: Build out the 15 pedestrian crossings Novick is asking the extra $1 million for in this year’s budget to show the voting public what more funding will do, ASAP
    Step 3: use the parking demand study grant to come up with a tiered system to determine when a neighborhood commercial corridor is vibrant enough to need meters (demand priced), and residential permit parking surrounding it to avoid “meter avoidance.” I am going to a SEUL briefing on the parking study Monday night
    Step 4: Use the results of the parking study to start installing demand priced smart meters on appropriately gentrified corridors
    Step 5: Built out our active transportation system at a breakneck pace now that we have a revenue stream and are not fighting over scraps given to us from the Federal government (the 50′s and 20′s bikeways come to mind)

    Any questions?

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  • Trek 3900 April 17, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I’m pretty comfortable riding around Portland as-is. Same with driving my car. Sure it’s an urban area with congestion and obstacles but that isn’t going to change – it’s part of life in the big city.

    Instead of spending a lot of money paying goobermint workers to dream up improvement schemes let’s just maintain what we have and save about $100/month in taxes.

    Who’s with me?

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  • Spiffy April 18, 2014 at 9:35 am

    so Treat’s personal Vision Zero solution is to just ride somewhere away from the motor vehicles that crash into her?

    I don’t think that she completely understands the whole Vision Zero thing…

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  • Max April 19, 2014 at 9:19 am

    My question for Leah Treat:
    After having your bike stolen 3 times in 3 different cities, did you finally buy something better than a cable lock?

    http://bikeportland.org/2013/09/09/city-transportation-directors-bike-stolen-from-outside-office-93694

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