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Sauvie update: Saltzman not playing politics; Mercury says Potter is “flat out wrong”

Posted by on April 9th, 2008 at 3:56 pm

“It’s nice spin… but it’s flat out wrong.”
–Portland Mercury News Editor Amy Ruiz, on Mayor Potter’s comments about the funding for the Sauvie Island Bridge re-use plan

The situation with the effort to re-use the Sauvie Island Bridge span in Northwest Portland is changing by the hour.

The two late developments of the day are an article by the Portland Mercury that delves into the funding picture and an update from Commissioner Saltzman’s office.

In her weekly “Hall Monitor” column due out tomorrow, Mercury News Editor Amy Ruiz dissects the funding picture and politics around the issue.

Ruiz’s column, “Dishonest Objections” focuses on Mayor Potter’s now infamous comments at last week’s City Council meeting — where his unexpected appearance and “no” vote was seen as a major setback to the project.

Potter’s comment that he’d, “rather invest that money in sidewalks, in safe ways to school, and in paving streets and reducing traffic congestion and improving traffic safety throughout the city,” earned him some media coverage and likely spurred critics Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams.

However, in her article, Ruiz contends that “It’s nice spin… but it’s flat out wrong.”

Ruiz then breaks down the $5.5 million that was slated for the project:

Two million of the Sauvie Island bridge funds come from River District Urban Renewal Funds—tax increment money collected in the neighborhood, for use in the neighborhood. River District money can’t be spent for sidewalks in SW Portland…

Another two million is from transportation “system development charges” [SDCs] — fees that developers pay to help offset the cost of new transportation facilities…The city has a list of 43 projects to spend the money on over the next 10 years—”capacity-increasing projects for future users,” according to the city ordinance—and the NW Flanders crossing is on that list. Potter should know that—he voted to approve the slate of projects last October.

[For more analysis of this project’s SDCs, read comments on my previous article from one of Commissioner Adams senior policy directors here and here.]

Another million in the bridge project budget is from a pot called “transportation enhancements,” a program the state administers, giving federal cash to “innovative projects” that “strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, or environmental value of our transportation system.” Like… a salvaged steel bridge for cyclists and walkers.

Finally, half a million in Adams’ proposal would come from his Safe, Sound, and Green Streets package—or from community fundraising, if that street fee proposal doesn’t eventually pass.(Hey Potter! If you’re so concerned about “reducing traffic congestion and improving traffic safety”—two of the core tenets of the $464 million street fee plan—then why the hell did you oppose it?)

So there it is; the complete funding picture. Read Ruiz’s entire column here.

As Ruiz acknowledges at the end of her piece, all attention is now on Commissioner Saltzman. With Commissioner Sten no longer in his seat, it means any future resolution or ordinance that comes up in Council must have at least a 3-1 vote to pass. With Potter showing no signs of supporting this project, Adams must have the support of Saltzman.

Saltzman’s Chief of Staff Brendan Finn
on the I-5 bridge in July 2007.
(Photo: J. Maus)

I talked with Saltzman’s Chief of Staff Brendan Finn a few minutes ago to get a feel for how the negotiations were going. (You might remember Finn from an article I wrote about him back in January.)

Finn was guardedly optimistic that his boss could work out an agreement with Adams. Finn said the deal is alive and that Saltzman wants to see the project happen. “At this point, we’re still working on it,” he said.

Finn strongly denied allegations that Saltzman is playing politics with this project. “If anyone knows Dan, they’ll know he’s always been extremely critical of sole-source contracts…and his decision on this had nothing to do with the merits of the project. He feels that we simply cannot afford to lose taxpayer confidence in how we manage the city’s finances.”

Will Adams and Saltzman be able to reach a compromise and get a resolution back in front of City Council? We should (hopefully) know the answer to that question before the end of this week.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • DJ Hurricane April 9, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    So, with Potter so obviously and publicly wrong about something that a Mayor should so obviously have a better grasp on, is Potter a liar or just incompetent?

    And since Saltzman has now forced the City to pay a higher price for the bridge than it was going to – because the contractor will want more for it if it is not guaranteed the money for the installation contract – I wonder how we\’re supposed to feel confident about Saltzman\’s management of the City\’s finances? Hint: Get it done, Dan!

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  • Steve April 9, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    I wasn\’t aware the Merc had a \”News Editor\” sounds almost journalistic. Seems like a lot of wasted effort to write up an opinion taking a position that most assume they would take simply because it is the Merc.

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  • encephalopath April 9, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    \”…is Potter a liar or just incompetent?\”

    I don\’t think in Potter\’s case that those two thing are necessarily mutually exclusive.

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  • drew April 9, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    …am incompetent liar…?

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  • Crash N. Burns April 9, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Topic aside. It\’s interesting that her column is called \”Hall Monitor\” since The Mercury is really nothing more than Portland\’s high school newspaper. For cool kids.

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  • Former 49er.. April 9, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    A close friend of mine worked on Potter\’s Vision PDX project. Based on many conversations with my friend, Potter is highly incompetent and surrounds himself with educated, but inexperienced, social climbers. Personally, he\’s so obsessed with the \”means\” that he has no idea what the \”end\” is (ie. Vision PDX). If he had his way, there\’d probably never be an \”end\” to any issue. Potter needs employment in some major \”bureaucrazy\” where process trumps results or should just take up knitting and do the world a bit fat favor..

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  • Jeff April 9, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I actually think the Mercury\’s political coverage has been awesome this season, and Amy\’s coverage of all topics City Hall has been well researched.

    Just because you publish fart jokes, doesn\’t mean you can\’t also cover the news seriously.

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  • Citizen Gregg April 9, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    \”Just because you publish fart jokes, doesn\’t mean you can\’t also cover the news seriously.\”

    Oh man, that\’s a Homerism if I ever heard one.

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  • Matt Picio April 9, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Amy Ruiz does some really well-researched stories. Say what you want about the Mercury, but Ruiz\’s journalism is on-par with or better than the vast majority of Portland journalists.

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  • Nighttime MAX Driver April 9, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    There was a time when we used to think Potter was just slow. He never had much insight, he never said much, and he certainly didn\’t do much. But he seemed like an honorable guy.

    What we learned, however, is that Potter is the kind of guy who holds a grudge. He deeply resented people around him that actually got things done.

    Saltzman has always had a disappointingly modest agenda and an inaccessible style. He was vulnerable when Fritz ran against him but she\’s so pious it becomes literally painful to contemplate voting for her. (She\’ll self-destruct against Bissonnette in November too.) Saltzman, however, rarely ever deeply irritated anybody. And he often aligned himself with the mayor.

    Sten began hugely ambitious as Boy Wonder but lost some high-profile battles along the way that knocked the wind out of him. He had grown weary of the public spotlight and would not have run for reelection but for the PBA trying to decapitate him. By the time Potter got elected Sten\’s ambition was reduced to just one issue, affordable housing, which is an issue Potter could grasp. And let\’s not forget Sten\’s timely endorsement of Potter in the spring of 2004 made Potter viable for the media, which in turn made him viable for the rest of us who rely on the media.

    Leonard single-handedly crippled Potter\’s ability to do anything with the PDC (with key support from Sten and Adams). Randy is a master politician and he\’s had PDC on the ropes for 3+ years. Leonard and Potter dislike each other, but it\’s not personal.

    The greatest irony is that, aside from Saltzman, Adams has been most supportive of Potter\’s anemic initiatives. That Potter is so obsessed in outrage by Adams\’ unabashedly bold style and ability to get things done shows how poorly he\’s been guiding the city for the last three years. Go back and look at the votes; Adams cast key votes on multiple occasions in support of a Potter goal where Sten and Leonard would have no part in it. Potter\’s disgust for Sam is rooted entirely in style not substance.

    Potter has always been incompetent as mayor. His actions to deny Portland the street fee program as well as the Sauvie Bridge prove him to be a liar as well. You can\’t possibly believe what he\’s saying at face value. Amy Ruiz once again has the story before any of her peers in the local journalism business: not only is he incompetent for not recognizing who his friends are on council, he is dishonorable for lying about his motives.

    Even if you dislike the Sauvie Bridge idea, I figure you should support it just to stick it to your mayor, the incompetent liar.

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  • Paul Cone April 9, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Way to tell it like it is, Nighttime MAX Driver.

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  • jj April 10, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Yeah, and Sam has played this completely open, right? Cobbled together funds from here, from there, from anywhere he can scrape a few dollars. Brought it up under emergency provisions rather than considering it as a regular agenda item.

    Potter may be going cuckoo on this one, but this is pure Adams posturing as well.

    The whole thing is phony baloney, which seems to be the way things are down in Stumptown these days.

    And Sam\’s bike groupies just eat it up.

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  • kg April 10, 2008 at 7:03 am

    I love comments like this, \”And Sam\’s bike groupies just eat it up.\”. Or maybe they\’re are people who want to see the project happen. Only losers decide issues based on the personalities pushing them.

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  • BURR April 10, 2008 at 7:04 am

    The Mercury and the Tribune actually have better coverage of issues like this than the Oregonian or the Willamette Week ever will.

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  • Russell April 10, 2008 at 7:28 am

    jj #12 – where do you think funding comes from for projects? Oh, wait, if you look at almost any major project here in Portland you will see that it comes from a patchwork of funding sources. Most projects fall under a few different funding areas and it makes sense to disperse the burden over the different funding options. Future projects may have less funding options to draw upon so you do not want to draw too heavily on any one fund when you have numerous options.

    Secondly, the emergency amendment to the proposal was in place because Kuney was asking for a decision right then. Since it got rejected, Kuney has seen the degree of interest in the project and have slowed down the process to try and help the city reach a decision.

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  • DJ Hurricane April 10, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Let\’s be honest, like Nighttime MAX Driver: The only reason these haters are even bringing up the Merc or Amy is that they\’re trying to distract from the real issue – Amy has exposed that there is nothing to their BS objections. They\’re fake. False. Not real.

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  • KT April 10, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Hey, now, Former 49er in #6:

    Don\’t be dissing knitting!


    Kg, #13: Voters decide who to vote for based on personalities, which shape an individual\’s politics. Does that mean that every registered voter in America is a loser?

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  • Steven J April 10, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Heh…well put Max driver.

    I\’m not a particular fan of moving the bridge to NW, frankly I think many have simply fallen in love with the romantic notion of relocating it, not really considering how it would really look.
    Hunting gophers with a Howitzer comes to mind for a 30\’ wide bridge for bikes & Peds.

    You just know fools are going to try and drive across it too.

    At least the London bridge is still over water.

    If Potter really was interested in \”improvements\”, why not negotiate with Kuney to stay within budget constraints?

    And for the record, I\’m no Adams groupie.
    That fool is behind the \”back in angle in parking only\” along SW 10th here where I live.
    I get to breathe the direct exhaust from cars backing in, warming up, and leaving, My friends\’ cars getting backed into, and at least 30% more horn honking from drivers & streetcars.

    No…I think Adams spends more time trying to \”look good\” than actually giving a crap.

    Potter may act like a 3yr old, but Adams is far more Dangerous.

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  • kg April 10, 2008 at 8:50 am

    KT – Yes. You should vote for a candidate because they represent you\’re point of view or you believe they are going to represent your interests. And yes the majority of US voters apparently are losers which explains why we have had a loser in the White House for 8 years. You\’re not in High School anymore so grow up.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 10, 2008 at 8:54 am

    RE: Sam Adams, Sauvie and Politics

    Folks, ask yourself if it makes any sense at all for Adams to be putting himself behind this project.

    Think about it.

    First, he tried to pass a street maintenance fee/tax at the same time he\’s running for mayor. That doesn\’t make much political sense, but he felt it had to be done.

    Now, he\’s putting his political neck on the line for a project (Sauvie) that is a very easy target of ridicule for his critics… yet he\’s doing it anyways.

    Don\’t think it\’s a risk?

    Did you see the ridiculous op-ed in the Oregonian on Sunday?… the one with the cartoon of the Tram carrying bikes over I-405?

    I\’m sure his mayoral campaign advisers are losing their minds… yet he\’s doing it anyways.

    Tell me, how could Adams\’ support and work for this project be considered political posturing?

    If anything it\’s a huge political risk… that Adams is willing to take because he knows how unbalanced and unsafe our current transportation network is and he wants to make it better.

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  • blogmayor April 10, 2008 at 9:06 am

    I\’d like to see an engineering analysis, with accurate costing, of several alternatives (including old Sauvie) for a Flanders/I 405 crossing, which we do need, but not urgently.

    This is the way we got our excellent Three Bridges on Springwater, designed by Gary Rayor, a world class engineer of pedestrian and bicycle crossings. How about a larger version of his magnificent McLoughlin arch over I 405?

    I have identified the basic problem here: The Sauvie-at-any cost fans are a bunch of knee-jerks, because they do not ride fixies, which have that wonderfully smooth and powerful stroke that requires constant force on the lower leg, and not the herky-jerk motion of the freebie. This category obviously includes Scott and Sam.

    For a fixie analysis of the Sauvie proposal see my web site, blogmayor.com

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  • Curt Dewees April 10, 2008 at 9:34 am

    \”The Mercury: Portland\’s high school newspaper for cool kids.\” That\’s awesome! They should print that under their nameplate next week.

    What\’s even cooler is that the Merc is distributed free, so even nerds like me can pick it up every week. I\’m going out to get today\’s issue right now!

    The fact that most people don\’t expect \”serous\” journalism from the Mercurury gives them a lot of freedom. Reporters like Amy Ruiz and Scott Moore (City Hall reporter before Amy) can write whatever the hell they want and just tell it like it is … a technique that often leads to a more honest and truthful form of journalism than you\’ll find in some of the older, more \”established\” media.

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  • maxadders April 10, 2008 at 9:39 am

    I know what\’s behind this mess: brakeless fixies!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 10, 2008 at 9:40 am

    I\’ll also pile on the Mercury love-fest.

    Ruiz, Matt Davis (although he\’s a bit crazy at times!), and before them Scott Moore are doing great work.

    Some folks might wonder why I feature Ruiz\’s column front and center… yet I didn\’t even mention anything about a hugely negative op-ed in the Oregonian last sunday.

    It\’s not that I\’m trying to only write positive things about this project… it\’s because that O op-ed was just a hack job and the writer does not have a good grasp on the facts or the larger context of the issue.

    Curt\’s point above is a good one. They do write with probably more freedom and they definitely take more risks than any other news outlet in town (including mine sometimes).

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  • Jessica Roberts April 10, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Amy\’s local issues reporting is the best I\’ve ever seen anywhere. The Merc is lucky to have her.

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  • steve April 10, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Jonathan said-

    \”Tell me, how could Adams\’ support and work for this project be considered political posturing?\”

    Free publicity. His name is tagged onto this story wherever it is discussed. If it goes through, he will be seen as progressive and innovative. If it fails, he can cast himself as the scrappy underdog battling incompetent Potter.

    Hey, you asked!

    That said, your coverage of this and some of the comments have brought me around. I now fully support this project. I still understand and agree with many of the complaints and see no need to mock and deride the people who have them.

    I hope this passes and encourage everyone to keep up the pressure. Write some letters folks! Hound Saltzman, his concerns are valid but easily assuaged.

    Let us all hope that whomever our next mayor is they are better than the trainwrecks of Vera and Potter!

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  • steve April 10, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Jessica said-

    \”Amy\’s local issues reporting is the best I\’ve ever seen anywhere.\”

    I think you need to look around a bit more then! This site alone makes that comment look a bit naive.

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  • Matthew April 10, 2008 at 10:55 am

    \”Amy\’s local issues reporting is the best I\’ve ever seen anywhere.\”

    I disagree, there is a Jonathan Maus guy that writes about bicycle issues that I think is better. 😛

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  • Craig April 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    The Mercury\’s coverage of Obama and Hillary\’s visits was very detailed. (Amy sure can type fast!) People going to KGW\’s website had to settle for blurry photos from a cellphone.

    Sure, parts of the Mercury are useless and annoying, but so is the Automotive section of the Oregonian.

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  • Potestio April 10, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    The funding sources for this project may be available to a large degree, and they may be valid sources to tap, however, the larger questions are whether this project makes sense for the neighborhoods it purports to serve or is the best use of the funds in general given all the possible bike related projects the city should consider.

    Look at it sensibly and ask, do we need this connection?

    Everett and Glisan cross I-405 with bridges and bike lanes. Johnson and streets north of Johnson connect under I-405. Johnson and other \”alphabet\” streets north are marked as bike boulevards.

    Flanders connects to Westover but not to the streets of the north west hills, nor to the Esplanade…so in terms of connectivity it does not improve on connections already served by Everett, Glisan or Johnson. I think Bike Boulevards should serve at the scale of the city and this route does not meet that criteria.

    If we desire to enhance bike access in places of highest potential use, then the streets north of Johnson are better located for such consideration…the highest concentration of future residences and employment will be north of Lovejoy in the Pearl district, the Terminal One development, and the Conway Development. Bike circulation patterns and safety issues in these areas are very important to consider given the numerous closed roads, rail tracks, and long neglected street pavements.

    The proposed bridge, if built of concrete, would achieve the same objective as moving the Sauvie
    Island bridge but for considerably less money. The excess money could be used to extend the Everett/Glisan Bike lanes to 23rd, fill dangerous pot holes on 23rd, Burnside, and other streets or for other bike benefiting projects. Why expend more money than necessary on a bridge?

    The pretense that recycling the Sauvie Island Bridge is a sustainable act is ridiculous. It will require an expenditure of energy and materials to repair, move and install. Recycling the steel is sustainable as well. If one really did the math, I think the answer would demonstrate this is not a win for the environment–that a bridge specifically designed for its proposed function and siting would be a more efficient, hence sustainable, means to achieve the stated objective of crossing I-405…but again remember this bridge is redundant and neither moving or building a bridge is a carbon neutral act.

    I further object to the idea that this bridge will be an \”audacious…legacy
    minded…new landmark on the city skyline\”as the Oregonian\’s writer
    suggested. If this bridge was such a landmark, why did we not restore it in
    its place?

    I do not think the bridge is attractive. It is an ordinary highway bridge. It will look grossly out of place moved from its original location spanning water and placed in this concrete urban context.

    As a design statement it is a dud.

    If we want something to be proud of, why not have a competition for Portland designers to propose a crossing? Why not celebrate our creative community…we have a wonderful model of the integration of technology and art exemplified by our hand-made bike building community–why not challenge architects, designers, engineers, etc to propose a world class design that is sustainable, artistic, innovative? That brings together technology and art?

    I ask the cycling community to see this project in its political context.
    This project is a present to the cycling community to garner support for the Burnside-Couch Couplet. Along with the newly proposed Burnside Trolley, and the wider sidewalks on lower Burnside, these sustainable oriented ideas are being grafted onto an out-dated auto based traffic engineering project.

    While neighborhood and business associations in NW and NE are asking to have couplets de-coupled (NW 18th/19th, and NW Broadway/Weidler), PDOT is pursuing a city destroying couplet for Burnside-Couch and dressing it up like Bridgeport Village. By linking bike and trolley projects to the couplet, they hope to achieve consensus on a project that will irrevocably disconnect the city\’s two sides, four quadrants and innumerable neighborhoods.

    The couplet and the environment it will create will force out the emerging, local and innovative businesses that are currently energizing Burnside. I doubt anyone who reads the Mercury will be happy strolling the Burnside/Couch couplet with its Pottery Barns and Starbucks….Thus, I doubt they will find much reason to be anywhere near the Flanders crossing at I-405.

    Portland is at a very fragile state of development…We need sound planning that integrates all transportation modes…pedestrian, rail, bikes, and motor vehicles…that respects and enforces existing urban patterns, that celebrates design…great design, that is a sound use of funds…Portland needs a better framed debate…not another project based argument or a politician\’s ribbon cutting opportunity.

    Richard Potestio

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  • Jesse Beason April 10, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    The current Sauvie Island bridge can no longer accommodate heavy (with all those blackberries!) freight; thus the need to replace it.

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  • Brad Ross April 10, 2008 at 1:40 pm


    I have largely stayed out of this whole argument. But I have to say you captured my thoughts completely. It makes no sense to me why we need a new at Flanders when you have one on Everett and Glisan. People are saying those crossings are dangerous, well fix them. Also, if you add a bridge at Flanders, you\’re going to have to add traffic lights on both sides of it. Thus creating more conjestion and potential for accidents.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 10, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Rick Potestio,

    As has been mentioned countless times on this site (and others), the money set aside for this project cannot be spent to fill potholes or anything else. It has been allocated specifically for this project.

    Also, please remember that just because you (as an experience bike racer for many years) don\’t find the existing crossings difficult, doesn\’t mean they are safe and comfortable for others.

    Brad Ross said:
    \”It makes no sense to me why we need a new [bridge] at Flanders when you have one on Everett and Glisan. People are saying those crossings are dangerous, well fix them.\”

    Do you have any idea how much it would cost to \”fix them\”?

    Do you know of the timeline when the job would be completed?

    Do you know if the \”fixes\” would turn those crossings into safe and comfortable crossings for a wide range of bicyclists, not just seasoned racers and commuters like yourself?

    Do you know of some engineering methods that are able to both calm high-speed auto traffic and provide a comfortable environment for bikes — all while maintaining existing motor vehicle traffic volumes?

    The point is… there is no \”fix\” on the horizon for Everett and/or Glisan.

    In the meantime, we have a high-confidence cost estimate on a project that will be completed by December, offers twice the width of any other option, has identified funding sources lined up, and has overwhelming community support.

    Just thought I\’d share all that in case the only thing you\’ve read about this project is Rick\’s comment.


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  • Brad Ross April 10, 2008 at 2:16 pm


    I\’ve been riding my bike across those two bridges for twenty years now. They are no more or less dangerous than any of the hundreds of other intersections in PDX that cyclists deal with eey day.

    I see by your comments that this project is your baby and you love it. But it\’s a bastard baby.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 10, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    \”I\’ve been riding my bike across those two bridges for twenty years now. They are no more or less dangerous than any of the hundreds of other intersections in PDX that cyclists deal with every day.\”

    Exactly! We need more safe intersections! I completely agree with that.

    And yes, I do love this project and feel that it would be a shame if politics and misinformation are what killed it — instead of sound objections (which I am still waiting to hear).

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  • Matt Picio April 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    blogmayor (#21) – \”accurate costing\” does not exist. Cost estimation is a voodoo science based on \”best-guesswork\”. The number of factors that can affect cost are innumerable, and sometimes events happen that are legitimately unforseeable that affect costs drastically. Other than pure luck, the only way to get most projects to come in on or under-budget is to have a creative individual or team cut costs by thinking outside the box, or by ruthlessly monitoring and controlling expenses. That\’s a lot harder than it sounds.

    Potestio (#30) – Everett and Glisan are not pedestrian-friendly. Johnson is not a bike boulevard, it\’s a low-traffic street.

    Bike boulevards have had treatments applied to reduce auto traffic, and other improvements that have not been implemented on NW Johnson. See http://www.bta4bikes.org/at_work/bikeboulevards.php for information on what a bike boulevard is.

    Flanders connects to Tom McCall waterfront Park and Naito Parkway. Users can then take the Steel or Burnside bridges across the river. I\’m not sure what you mean by \”serve at the scale of the city\”.

    The proposed bridge doesn\’t yet exist. There are no specifications for it at present, the cost is indeterminate as is the timeline. We don\’t know that it would be cheaper, we only know that a 15\’ concrete span would likely be cheaper if there were constructing it right now. Concrete prices have risen drastically in the last 2 years, as have steel prices. In fact, nearly every raw material has risen drastically in price over the last 24 months, which makes sense since energy prices have risen in that same time period. The Sauvie Island bridge price is basically fixed – it\’s already built, and since the steel span itself has no major structural defects, it could potentially last another 100-200 years if kept treated with a rust preventative.

    Why expend more money than necessary? Because monetary cost is not the sole issue, nor even the most important one. It\’s environmentally responsible to reuse the bridge. It prevents new strip-mining for materials from occuring. It saves the energy needed to scrap the Sauvie bridge, as well as the energy needed to extract and process the materials for a new concrete bridge. This community (Portland, not just cyclists) has a history of not using disposable items, of being sustainable, of buying organic, of being responsible – because it\’s the right thing to do, and because it maintains our quality of life. If cost were our sole concern, we\’d have no art, all our buildings would be plain boxes, all our bridges would look like the Marquam bridge (or the I-205 bridges, heaven help us).

    Recycling the steel is *not* sustainable – reusing it is. Recycling takes as much energy as it does to process new steel from raw iron – the reason why the industry does it is because they don\’t have to pull the metal out of the ground and process the ore. Just because it costs a fraction energy-wise doesn\’t mean it\’s sustainable. If I make $1,000 a month, and I spend $1,500 a month rather than $4,000 a month, I\’m still going to go broke when my savings runs out – it just takes longer. Recycling the Sauvie bridge *is* ridiculous – reusing it is not.

    Brad (#32) – Fixing the problems at Everett and Glisan may cost a lot more than $5.5M. If so, are you willing to help pay it?

    matt picio

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  • Crash N. Burns April 10, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    My love for Brad Ross and Rick Potestio continues to grow, and grow… (Hey guys, is it \’cross season yet?)

    This \”hater\” did say \’topic aside\’, but hey, as long as the porn and prostitution ads keep the Mercury free then it\’s still a good rag.

    I do wish Amy Ruiz the best in her journalism career and hope that she can continue to provide objective reporting for a larger publication in the future.

    (re)nominating this topic for \”page two\”

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  • Nighttime MAX Driver April 10, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Rick Potestio, congratulations. You are quite impressed with your own opinion, however short-sighted and foolish it may be. The BTA hands out Alice Awards for individual contributions to the common good of bicycling; you deserve precisely the opposite.

    It doesn\’t even matter whether you\’re right or not (you\’re not). The mere fact that you would contact the Oregonian condemning this effort, upon which David Blowhard – excuse me, David Reinhard – would seize to further his own right wing, anti-bicycle agenda is stunningly stupid on your part.

    Let me say this really clearly: your selfish actions suggest you are no friend of bicycling in Portland.

    [NOTE from Editor: Nighttime MAX Driver, please be careful at your tone with other commenters. Let\’s keep it clean and resist the personal insults. Thanks. — Jonathan

    Right about now your temperature is rising, you\’re eager to defend your view, you\’ve thought about the merits of the Sauvie crossing at Flanders so carefully, and – of course- you\’re entitled to your view. How could you possibly deserve such a lashing?

    Because you don\’t get it. This is not at all about what you think is best for Portland. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save a bridge and relocate it in the only place it makes for non-motorized passage between two neighborhoods poorly connected but otherwise well-developed to accommodate bikes.

    Everett and Glisan crossings work for you? So what? It\’s not about you. It\’s about everybody. The data shows conclusively people don\’t feel safe riding across either crossing (not to mention Burnside or Couch, which are even less hospitable). In both instances the bike lanes drop shortly after the crossing. In the case of Glisan, a cyclist has to share the lane with buses – far from ideal.

    Did you ever stop and think that it\’s not just about you? That getting your neighbor on a bike more often instead of a car might require something different than what you\’re comfortable with?

    You didn\’t. It\’s all about you.

    And you were exploited by a right-wing bike hater in the Oregonian because you had no foresight, no wisdom. Blowhard gets paid to write hate, and you fed him.

    You blew it because you didn\’t think about anybody but yourself. And you got had and hurt us all in the process.

    It doesn\’t even matter what you say in response. Whatever you say in your own defense, it\’ll be about you. Speaking for myself, I don\’t care about your opinion; I care about seeing more people on bikes, fewer enslaved to their cars because I think it\’s a matter of global security. If we can\’t create conditions that encourage people to find courage to step on to a bike, we\’re SOL.


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  • John Reinhold April 10, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    It will look grossly out of place moved from its original location spanning water and placed in this concrete urban context.

    I say this is exactly why we should do it. It will be unique. It will be something people remember, a landmark people find their way by. It will be something that will end up on post cards, and will be featured in bike rides and other events.

    The bridge by itself is nothing spectacular, but the history of the bridge and the reuse in an unexpected setting is quite spectacular.

    How many things have been torn down or thrown away in the past because we thought they were nothing special? And then later on we were like \”Man, I wish I had saved that…\” They simply do not build bridges like this anymore, so they are getting more and more rare. I had Star Wars and GI Joe and Transformer toys that I thought were completely common, nothing special, and not worth saving… Boy do I regret that now. Did anyone ever think the Atari 2600 would be a collectors item?

    The city is so full of shiny new things. We need to keep a few of the old things around too….

    Sometimes, appreciation of our city and our surroundings has intangible benefits that can\’t be tallied by an accountant. Sometimes it is more important to think holistically, and not just about the bottom line.

    High Fructose Corn Syrup and Hydrodgenated/Partially Hydrodgenated oils are both cheap and plentiful. But they are also toxic to the human body… Cheap purely functional infrastructure designed only around the pocketbook are toxic to the city.

    I will repeat what I said in testimony at City Hall.

    No one takes pictures of the cheap concrete bike/ped bridge over SE Powell at 9th except to maybe report graffiti.

    We need more structures that we point to and say \”THAT IS PORTLAND!\”

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  • brettoo April 10, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    As Matt said so eloquently:
    \”Because monetary cost is not the sole issue, nor even the most important one. It\’s environmentally responsible to reuse the bridge.\”
    It\’s ironic that the mayor spent so much time on finding out the city\’s vision, and then when confronted with an actual concrete (and steel) example of Portland vision in action — sustainability through wise reuse — he closes his eyes. Whether it\’s from a penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude or political gamesmanship, it\’s such a shame that he didn\’t lend what little credibility he has left to a project that really is visionary, in the sense that it provides greater long term benefits (as Jonathan, Matt and others have outlined) than the alternatives. On the other hand, it\’d great that we have a chance to elect a real visionary to replace him.

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  • BURR April 10, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Matt – I was on Johnson near Jameson Square earlier this evening, and it is in fact marked with the bike boulevard \’circles\’. The multitude of stop signs belie the nature of the street, however; and I am not aware of any \’improvements\’ that would truly elevate Johnson Street to Bike Boulevard status.

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  • wsbob April 10, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    MAX Driver, it\’s exactly right that people deciding which way to go on this span should be thinking about the range of different kinds of bicycle riders they hope to bring to the streets of Portland. The widest cross-section reasonably possible should be the objective.

    I hope to see more families with kids, and people in their 70\’s, maybe even 80\’s out there. On Flanders with a great bridge, they might, but on Everett or Glisan? No Way.

    A modern styled bridge might be exciting and beautiful, but I\’ll bet the Sauvie span will look great over I-405. Even road weary motorists will finally have something interesting to look at on that boring stretch. It\’ll be a nice lead-up to the Fremont.

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  • Potestio April 11, 2008 at 12:57 am

    OK, I go out for a (self indulgent) glass of vino (or two)and come home…to read some debate! Trashing me!

    Jonathan, I greatly appreciate that you love this project and do not object unknowingly.

    We should all recognize the unique opportunity we have to debate this project and the great forum you provide here and show each other some respect.

    Let me state also that I will sign my name to my opinions, and not hide behind a nick name, and that I will respect another person\’s opinion and not digress into name calling and other such counter productive behaviors.

    I do think that politics is central to this project and that it is part of a larger and more problematic transportation plan for the city. This transportation plan that has not had the benefit of urban planning and design as its foundation….I think that this and many such projects are premature without a comprehensive urban plan in place…I have stated those concerns and will continue to do so.

    I am interested in the highest realization of creating a \”sustainable\” (not my term, but one people seem to understand) city and have some very definite opinions to express about how that can be accomplished.

    Now, to address the responses to my comments….

    Funding…I stated with qualified terms that I think the money is better spent…I did not state where the money comes from. But, from what I have read, it is cobbled together from a variety of sources, and few if any, to my understanding, are specifically dedicated to either Flanders street or a bike bridge. I believe some or all the funds may be (re)allocated to more important projects.

    Pot hole filling (of which there are many on Everett), is just one of my suggestions…in my letters to the Oregonian and City Commissioners, I suggest other uses such as extending or completing bike lanes on Everett and Glisan.

    I further state that (if a bridge is to be built) I believe a more sustainable and economic solution would be to build a bridge designed for the specific Flanders location/function…and I challenge the city to create an opportunity for doing something creative.

    SO, I first question the use of funds on a basis of highest and best allocation; then I question why more money be spent than needed…suggesting the excess of +/- 3Million difference between a concrete span (could be cool, ask Calatrava) and the recycled Sauvie Island Bridge be allocated for other projects; finally I suggest that if any funds are to be spent on a bridge, that we do so investing in our creative community.

    I may be an experienced bike racer (racing community please quit laughing NOW!)…I am a more experienced bike commuter, with about 41 years on the bike in Portland, Boston, and New York…and elsewhere. I\’ve had my share of \”encounters\” with motorists….I have friends and family that are not experienced cyclists and nephews who are just learning to ride a bike…riding with them is the most nerve wracking experience anyone can have as you are hyper aware of the dangers and their lack of experience riding. I am sure all parents can relate.

    I have gone to a lot of memorials for very skilled racer/commuter cyclists who did not make it to the next meeting or the next race.

    So I am thinking (contrary to cynical popular belief)about general safety. I also obey all traffic laws, and signal prolifically to all motorists, because if my experience has taught me anything, it is to trust no one or any situation.

    Calling me selfish or suggesting that I am un-aware or the dangers of riding either for my self or others is an insult, as I am sure it was intended.

    Regarding safety of the intersections at Everett and Glisan—here Jonathan gets to the heart of the bike/car problem and the political/bureaucratic problem….

    The assertion that the crossings on Glisan and Everett are dangerous enough to justify a new crossing on Flanders are not in my opinion true. They are safer than many in the city. I have been going to work and home on these streets for years…when the bike lanes were first installed on Everett, which at 15th has an entrance to I-405, motorists were completely indifferent to cyclists…now they are extremely cognizant that cyclists are there and wait for cyclists to go through before moving on themselves. Humans do learn and most of them care! That does not mean that cyclist can just blow through, mentally citing their rights to the bike lane…the prudent cyclist stops, waits, communicates with hand signals, and proceeds with extreme caution.

    First, these are signaled intersections. Second, they have marked bike lanes. Third, I do not think they were chosen for bike boxes. Fourth, motorists are very familiar with bikes at these intersections.

    But these are also couplet streets with freeway entrances/exits. Couplet streets and freeways encourage faster moving vehicles. Faster moving vehicles are bad for cyclists.

    I would love to see these streets de-coupled. Bike safety is as much about slow motor vehicle speeds—streets with head on traffic create more cautious motorist behavior and slower speeds…adding bike lanes and more bikes to the streets will slow traffic further and heighten awareness. These intersections could have bike signals.

    I do not agree that fixing these intersections is expensive…compared to allocating millions of dollars to a new crossing…which will coincidentally, cross the the same traffic coming off or going onto I-405. The Flanders intersection will need a signal and will be structurally the same as the other two, less the freeway on/off ramps but with the same cars.

    If there is a place to lay the blame for the timeline these projects take, I would suggest you question PDOT or PDOT\’s boss…last I read there is a very long line of overdue street improvement projects–heck, SE still has dirt streets. When does outer SE get some love? And what about 23rd??? Seems there is some fence mending to do there with the business and neighborhood communities…wish there could be some street mending too.

    I also cite the fact that the north/south cross streets that Everett, Flanders and Glisan connect to are amongst the most bike unfriendly in the city. 18th/19th are high speed couplets with bike lanes…speed kills. 21st and 23rd are extremely busy, narrow, do not have bike lanes, and have very serious pothole problems…so no matter how \”safe\” the east-west route is one choses…the north -south routes are not \”safe\”…I wonder how the Flanders proposal will effectively improve the overall experience and safety for the NW rider?

    Regarding my statement that Everett and Glisan are bike lanes and Johnson is \”marked as a bike boulevard\” I suggest you go ride the street…it and others north do have the bike boulevard markings…The markings are the same as those used for bike boulevards on the east side. Also Overton and Raleigh are designated as a bike boulevards on the streets or the map I referenced on line…AGAIN, I suggest that the bike lanes be extended to 23rd on Everett and Glisan. I suggest that the markings and maps be complete, and consistent. I suggest where the funding can come from.

    Per my statement about criteria for bike boulevards…I think they should connect to a large context and not be dead ends. Flanders on the east end dies into Steel bridge ramps…not the esplanade…(I will check it again tomorrow) and on the west ends at Westover…I think my description of the situation is accurate.

    One writer suggests that the bike bridge will encourage more biking by families, and elderly…this is very similar to the comments voiced by Bill Hoffman of PDOT in an Oregonian article. There are very few families in the NW and Pearl…and few elderly in this city ride anywhere. That is a noble and hopefully attainable goal…but I don\’t think this is the bridge to that future.

    I think there may be some agreement that this bridge is not a beauty. But that does not mean the alternative is a lifeless slab of concrete…again read what I said…competition, technology and art, local creative community…do I need to quote myself? YES, much has been lost…I suggest one stops by the regional section of Powells Books and look at \”Heritage Lost\”, Nineteenth Street\”, The Classic Houses of Portland\”…look up the work of Minor White….walk around NW especially 19th street and wonder about the Victorian mansions that once graced that street…or the iron fronts that once lined Front, 1st and 2nd….Thinking about what has been lost is very sad…I have seen alot of it come down…an protested as vigorously as I do here…But this Sauvie Island bridge is neither cool, nor beautiful or interesting. (all in the eye of the beholder). Saving great or even good architecture and infrastructure is a very important value…but I think Portland can do better than recycle its trash in this way.

    If one really wants to take on a design challenge and rally against banal concrete spans, one should oppose the proposed I-5 bridge.

    Thanks for reading
    train for cross!

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  • John Reinhold April 11, 2008 at 5:41 am

    Burr: I don\’t think the circles imply \”Bike Boulevard\”. I think the circles are used on any designated bike route, as in the ones that show up on the \”Bike There\” map and the like…

    I think more of a replacement to the old bike route signs that used to be around.

    But I could be wrong…

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  • Portland Mercury and Bike Portland? April 11, 2008 at 8:51 am

    This is not a personal attack, but Curt Dewees and Jessica Roberts, come on, as someone who knows both of you well, please don\’t disdain your reputation by being Portland Mercury followers – that just about makes me want to vomit, as much as I like both of you

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  • wsbob April 11, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Potestio, You might consider cutting back on the wine. Maybe you could divert some of that energy towards getting city hall to provide specifics in terms of illustration and cost estimate for the concrete version of the Flanders span that some people seem to think will be so much better and so much more fiscally responsible than using the Sauvie Island Bridge span at Flanders St.

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  • steve April 11, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Real productive Bob. This gentleman has obviously put more thought to this issue than any of us. Including Jonathan.

    I do not agree with everything he says, but he certainly deserves more respect than he is being shown.

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  • Potestio April 11, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Hello all, This is all I am going to say…I am going for a bike ride.

    John\’s point (44) illustrates mine. There is a lot that needs to happen…maps, street markings, terminology and the like are not consistent, and not complete. Bike lanes only cover 5-6 block portions of Everett and Glisan and do not even extend to those on Broadway…We have planning and work to do to complete the system we have started and I think that should be the priority.

    I would like to revisit the bigger picture. I ride the Everett-Glisan-Flanders corridor every day. I ride all over town. Compared to other parts of this city, my corridor is not heavily used…its no Hawthorne, no NE/SE 28th. The bulk of residential and businesses, now and in the future lies north, and is better served by other streets nearer these concentrations of activity. So while it would be great to have all streets bike dedicated, I think we need to be clear about the priorities.

    There has been alot of call out for a less selfish view of this matter…GREAT…lets not focus on just bikes, lets see how we as cyclists need to interact and coordinate with other public street users….Trolleys for example are probably better suited to the elderly than bikes…

    Because we have not done the coordinated planning necessary to really address all citizens needs, because organizations/efforts supporting varied modes like rail (the trolley in particular) pedestrian, bike, and auto/freight are not communicating well enough with each other,because there is not a coordinated planning effort led by the Planning Bureau, we are ending up with current and potential conflicts that could be avoided….for example….consider the Trolley line on Lovejoy. It would have been fine on another street…since it does not cross the river, it did not need to be on Lovejoy–which connects to the Broadway Bridge. Bikes do cross the river, and Lovejoy would have been the logical street to serve for bike lanes, boulevards or whatever you want to call them.

    Similar concerns regarding the potential conflicts in choices of streets for trolleys and bikes on the east side are being voiced now…

    Regarding our lost heritage, had Portland retained its original trolley routes, once amongst the most extensive in the country, our discussion of bike routes would be very different, and our carbon footprint far lower.

    Had we retained our trolley system, walking to it and from it, all our citizens would likely be healthier and happier.

    We have done a fine job of saving scores of bungalows in our old neighborhoods…but the communities that inhabited them, that filled the schools and trolleys, supported the local business, have all gone…as families have shrunk from prewar sizes to the average size today, so has the population, and hence the density, of these neighborhoods. As the population has dropped across inner east side in particular, we have lost the infrastructure and services it supported. Look at the trolley tracks that emerge from the asphalt. Look at the empty schools.

    Its not enough to save the artifacts of an earlier time (Sauvie Island Bridges, old houses, empty school buildings)..it is also important to understand their reason for being, the context in which they were created. What we need to restore is the community.

    I firmly believe that the Flanders bike project is an outgrowth not of need per se along its route, but as an aspect of the Burnside-Couch Couplet (I have a 2005 draft report in front of me)…As I have stated, the real issue is not what the city can do for cyclists on Flanders, but what it will do to the heart of our city on Burnside, Couch, Sandy and the neighborhoods that border these streets.

    I fear that by focusing on the bike bridge, we are losing sight of larger and more critical issues. I do not think, as I have said, that any one of the Mercury reading, Le Pigeon eating, Stumptown drinking, bike riding, Portland enthusiasts (or anyone else) that read and write in this blog realize or will patronize the future Bridgport Village makeover that is headed our central city way.

    I want to see our city develop in a way that is really progressive….I have seen how cities in Europe are creating car free zones, installing bike share facilities, hiring the most talented (not the most connected, hence the competition system) architects and designers to create incredibly beautiful infrastructure…bike and ped bridges (see Calatrava, Paris ped Bridge, London ped Bridge) rail stations, (London, all of Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland).

    I think Portland can and should do better and should be aware that \”being Portland\” is a higher value than what this project represents. There was a day when Portland was world famous for its transit system. There was a day when buildings such as the iron fronts and victorians, the modernist icons of the Commonweath Building, Memorial Coloseum, Yeon Visitor Center, St.Thomas More Church, and so many others were known world wide…lets pick up and head where that Portland was going.


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  • jonno April 11, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Potestio (#48) –

    I\’ve read your full comments and what I draw from them is that you seem to be against doing anything unless it is the perfect something. Unfortunately, that sounds like a recipe for paralysis or an excuse for inaction.

    The Sauvie bridge project is planned, funded and ready to go. It slots right into a larger neighborhood plan. We can actually get something done right now, and it disheartens me that you (and others) are demanding a return to the drawing board armed only with conjecture and opinion. At this late date, despite your claims to support cycling in the neighborhood, I don\’t think you\’re helping much.

    This project is a textbook example of \”plan for tomorrow, build for today.\”

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  • Andrew April 11, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    One thing this brouhaha has brought to the surface is that while there have been extensive (and wonderful) bike improvements in the central city, NW and eastside… SW Portland has received very little. Most neighborhoods don\’t even have sidewalks.

    There is an effort now to create local improvement districts… but many residents are understandably miffed that they are being asked to pay $1000 each just to get basic infrastructure that other neighborhoods have had for decades.

    Now would be a good time for Adams and other boosters of bike infrastructure to announce how they\’ll invest in SW, too.

    And don\’t get me started on the $40 million investment planned spending on rebuilding the I-5 north offramp to serve South Waterfront.

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  • Aaron April 11, 2008 at 3:10 pm


    2) While procrastinating on the internet, i stumbled across the Portland Mercury\’s Blogtown PDX, and honestly, Amy Ruiz\’s coverage of the City Council Election is unparalleled. If it strikes you as sad that the only place Portlanders can get daily detailed coverage of city hall is on the WEBSITE of the alt-weekly with all the phone-sex ads on the backpage, well, frankly, i agree, it is sad. That is more a reflection on the misplaced priorities of the Oregonian and other traditional media sources. I hope Amy plans on sticking with the Mercury for years to come, if only so I have a clue what the heck is going on.

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  • wsbob April 11, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I\’ve been under the impression that a big reason for introducing infrastructure that enables people on foot and bikes to get around downtown and its close-in neighborhoods, is to revitalize the city. To repair what was damaged by short-sighted modernistic ideas of the last century that emphasized cars over people.

    The marvel of the automobile, highways, and shrewd marketing of suburban land by real estate agents and developers is the reason inner city communities went away. That\’s changing. That explains why people are supporting improved pedestrian/bike infrastructure everywhere, rather than more highways and 6 billion dollar river crossings.

    Putting in or re-establishing good pedestrian/bike infrastructure in all neighborhoods as resources allow isn\’t just a sneaky way to make things cushy for those people at the expense of people that drive motor vehicles. Pedestrian/bike infrastructure is essential for sustaining the city\’s viability for all people that live, visit and do business here. There\’s room for only so many cars on the streets.

    What is it that Rick Potestio and others object to so strenuously about re-using the Sauvie span at Flanders is? As I read it, everything he says supports having much better pedestrian bike infrastructure, just not, according to their preference, necessarily at Flanders using the Sauvie span. Well, fine. Lets see something finite, ASAP, in terms of what the new, supposedly better looking concrete bridge will look like and cost, before telling us flat out that the Sauvie span re-use idea isn\’t a wise decision.

    Here\’s some simple facts: Many, many people are not cyclo-cross riders. We\’d be lucky if half of a America rode a cruiser bike, let alone a cross bike. If you think you\’re going to persuade them that Everett or Glisan is just fine to ride, you\’re sadly mistaken. Send them all the way down to Lovejoy if they\’re originating more or less from downtown?

    People get old. Even messengers, even cross riders, hipsters, and Lance Armstrong. All of those people will one day be extremely relieved to be able to hop on a streetcar instead of walking 10-20 blocks. Young people with families also want better pedestrian/bike infrastructure. They don\’t want some kind of \’safe enough\’ Evertte Glisan pedestrian roulette to risk their lives over.

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  • BURR April 11, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I for one agree with Rick, the Flanders route is part of the Burnside – Couch couplet plan, a plan we would be better off without. Couplets are designed and built for no other reason than to increase motor vehicle carrying capacity. Decoupling Everett and Glisan, as suggested by Rick, would be a great idea, and would probably be a lot easier to accomplish than eliminating the freeway. In the meantime, some of the energy focused on the Flanders street bridge should also be focused on defeating the Burnside – Couch couplet plan and working to decouple not only Everett-Glisan, but also Broadway-Weidler and several other notoriously bicyclist unfriendly local couplets.

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  • steve April 11, 2008 at 5:12 pm


    The people you speak of will never ride. It is too cold. It is too wet. It is too hard. It is too slow. It is too inconvenient.

    When polled, people say it is because of \’safety\’ that they do not ride. I am unconvinced that is the truth.

    I still think we should be doing everything possible to discourage automobile usage. If we want to make the Downtown core safer, we can do it for FREE.

    Ban vehicles Downtown, or charge a fee to enter the district. Now it is safer and you are bringing in some income to boot. This wishy washy crap will never work.

    We can not build a bridge over every street. We can not get lazy people to heft themselves over bridges. Deal with it.

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  • blogmayor April 11, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I am confused. Does Scott and Sam\’s proposal involve disassembling old Sauvie and moving the pieces by truck, or barging the thing up the river intact and bodging it through NW?

    I have examined both in detail and both have major problems. Neither is doable in any realistic way. Read blogmayor.com.

    Scott and Sam tried to ram their proposal through Council as an emergency ordinance, but If they did not do at least as detailed an analysis as mine they have a lot to answer for.

    Scott Picio (36) has no idea whatever about engineering; accurate costing is a the core of the discipline. \”Thinking outside the box\” is the hopeless bromide that brings us things like the Performing Arts Center and the Aerial Tram, both of which started out being low-balled for $15 million and ended up costing us loyal taxpayers more than triple that. Even if Scott and Sam can demonstrate that moving old Sauvie is technically feasible, it\’s a $12 million project it\’s a dime.

    Curb the emo, people. All is moot until engineering feasibility is proved and accurate costs are established. Let\’s hear Scott Bricker and Sam Adams get technical and quantitative.

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  • brettoo April 11, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Many of these ideas for discouraging car use, restoring streetcar runs, even fighting the Burnside Couch couplet don\’t depend on defeating the Flanders bridge and may in fact be complementary to it. I\’m all for congestion pricing, more streetcars, tolls, car-free streets and so on. But the vast majority of Portlanders, much less politicians, will never go for these sticks unless there are carrots like the Flanders bridge as well — infrastructure that makes riding convenient and safe as in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and the other bikey towns that should be our models. We need both carrots and sticks to create the incentive that will put more butts on bikes.

    I personally know several Portlanders who want to commute, who don\’t much mind cold or wet weather (I\’ve ridden with them in such conditions) — and who absolutely will not ride on car-crammed streets, even with a bike lane, because they feel unsafe. They\’re not lazy or stupid, just cautious, and I don\’t fault them because they\’re less willing to ride on sketchy stretches than you or I are . The events of last fall certainly made them more so. Even my friends FROM HOLLAND who were visiting Portland last summer and who bike everywhere in Utrecht refused to ride in Portland because the absence of separated cycle tracks felt dangerous to them.

    I\’m convinced that the combination of $7+/gallon gas and a few other disincentives (congestion pricing, gridlock, ending the hidden subsidies to car culture), compact development, and most important, providing welcoming infrastructure like separated cycletracks, streetcars (when for whatever reason that\’s more convenient than biking) and the Sauvie Flanders bridge will cause a massive shift to bikes (catchy phrase, that) among the vast, non spandex but pro-alternative transportation crowd. I\’ve seen it first hand in the Netherlands. And I really appreciate the fact that Jonathan and other bike vets here can see beyond our relatively small hard core group to what could be possible in a truly pervasive bike culture. I think this bridge is part of that bigger picture.

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  • wsbob April 11, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Blogmayor and others interested, these articles are from Adam\’s website:

    Sauvie Isl Br ..save it or scrap it

    Is the Sauvie Is Br worth saving/

    Steve, I haven\’t been to Holland, but I\’ve heard from people that have been there, that people widely ranging in age regularly ride about in that country for day to day purposes besides recreation. From television and prints in magazines, an image that forever will be in my mind is of the city streets of China almost completely filled with people of all ages on bikes during the morining commute. Of course that country of late, seems to have possibly bought the notion that cars are a better way to go, so maybe everyone riding a bike will go by the wayside in that country.

    People, including me, whine and bitch about Oregon\’s gloomy wet weather, but I think that it\’s likely that if conditions were more hospitable to walking and biking to shops, schools, churches and so forth, many, many more people than are now, would be doing so.

    I\’ll say that on personal experience, because I\’ve walked a lot more this last winter than I ever have before. I note what I see when I do walk. Among my observations are that easily the worst thing about walking about in town, in the cold and rain(which isn\’t that bad when you\’re moving briskly) especially alongside the fast roads in the burb where I live, is the noisy, filth splashing cars rushing by. If they were gone, or at least distanced somewhat from where people bike and walk, many people that don\’t now, might consider walking or biking to the store instead of cranking up the car to go a half mile or as little as 4-5 blocks.

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  • blogmayor April 12, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Thanks to wsbob for digging up the 2006 piece on Sam\’s web site that explains–moving the freaking bridge up NW Everett! Interesting that back then Sam was in favor of the scrap heap, showing that he can be quite reasonable at times.

    Of course they would have to take down MAX\’s catenary lines to get across 1st. Fred Hansen will not be amused.

    A new arch bridge by Gary Rayor would require but a fraction of the steel in old Sauvie, which would be recycled by Schnitzer into concrete rebar.

    Any way one approaches it, this bandwagon is insane.

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  • zilfondel April 12, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I think Rick Potestio has an excellent point in his comment:

    \”I do think that politics is central to this project and that it is part of a larger and more problematic transportation plan for the city. This transportation plan that has not had the benefit of urban planning and design as its foundation….I think that this and many such projects are premature without a comprehensive urban plan in place…I have stated those concerns and will continue to do so.\”

    Even the streetcar and MAX alignments seem to be more \’ad hoc\’ – following the path of least resistance, politically and financially.

    In regards to the Flanders alignment… in reality, this isn\’t exactly the prettiest or most-used street in either NW Portland or the Pearl District.

    True, many of the bike boulevards in SE Portland are likewise along little-used \’leftover\’ streets in how they are used, is this really what we want to be doing? Relegating bicycling to second-tier status?

    The Burnside-Couch couplet seems to be much more thought out, and does address cycling on Burnside, the city\’s most important street.

    So… are we just going to compromise for a Flanders bridge? Is it actually doable? Are people really going to ride it? Keep in mind that it does not connect to the waterfront.

    Personally, I think that its about time that Portland started to create more car-free pockets for pedestrians and cyclists, such as was done in the 70s and 80s when the city created Pioneer Courthouse Square and closed off the South Park Blocks to traffic.

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  • Rear Admiral Blah April 12, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Here is what I posted on one of Amy Ruiz\’s columns about this issue:

    Reading this post and your column, I think it\’s time we put the spin squarely where deserved. But first, let me ask you a quesiton. Just yes or no, please:
    Do you honestly believe that the residents of two neighborhoods with plenty of urban improvements deserve a bridge (that they could live without) more than the residents of east Portland deserve SIDEWALKS?

    While you thoughtfully slither around that question, let me point something out to you. I\’ll try to be at least as clear as the blinking neon sign you seem to need: The city has been promising us improvements for YEARS, and have never delivered (why should they? don\’t they all live in the Hills anyway?) Now there is money, and it should be spent on a bridge that nobody needs? HELLO! Unglue your ass from your desk chair and drive out here – or better, bike out here (I dare you) and tell me what use that bridge has for kids who literally walk in the street to get to school. I don\’t know if you lack in basic human compassion, or if you\’re just trying to kiss Adams\’ ass. Either way, supporting this bridge would make you an idiot. The Mercury should fire you and let Matt Davis have your job – at least he seems to know something about social justice. You\’re spinning an equity issue into an Adams vs. Potter issue – and anyone doing that does it at the expense of the people who would actually benefit from a better use of this money.

    Now – all of that said, let\’s go back to my initial question. I\’m dying to know, Amy: yes or no?

    And: for those of you who think that the money can\’t be spent in east Portland: stop drinking Sam\’s Kool-aid. A good portion of it can, and should.


    Rear Admiral Blah (retired)

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  • wsbob April 12, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Blah, you\’ve named yourself well. How anyone posing questions in as obnoxious and deliberately insulting manner as you have ever expects much in the way of a civil answer, is something I don\’t understand. If that kind of tone is were allowed to represent East Portland residents, it would make the job of getting improvements that much harder.

    I think the answer of why downtown and close-in neighborhoods have received improvements over the years is multi-faceted, but has a lot more to do with the city\’s primary economic objectives than it does with competition between officials. Downtown and close-in neighborhoods is where the city\’s largest economic activity is, so many people are going to recognize that it\’s essential to prioritize keeping those parts of town working optimally in preference to the same attention given to outlying neighborhoods.

    That doesn\’t mean that basic improvements in your neighborhood shouldn\’t have been attended to long ago. Maybe some of your energy might be well spent in organizing your neighbors to get improvements for your neighborhood closer to the front burner.

    That alternatives to using the Sauvie span would still be significantly cheaper for the capacity that the vintage span offers is not at all certain. As far as I can tell from reading news reports, designs or bids for those span options have not been submitted.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 12, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    My basic problem with practically all these \”improvements\” is the same: they all require a rather astonishing amount of time and energy while continuing at best to create only tiny, precarious islands of connectivity and often dubious safety in a sea of disconnectivity and hazard — which meanwhile there are no comprehensive plans or proposals to address in any humanly useful timeframe, at least at this point.

    I\’m reminded of the comments someone made when the city added the \”extra\” lane to the westbound bike lane onto the Hawthorne Bridge, and someone at PDOT read off the litany of credits for getting it done, and some wag on this blog commented something to the effect of: \”Wow, what a sobering thought to realize how many hands are required just to repaint a single bloody stripe on the road! It gives one pause to imagine what would be required to do anything more substantial than that…\”

    What is the alternative? Maybe in this particular case there isn\’t one. I\’ve already heard the argument that the funds for these things are all tightly earmarked already anyways, so our hands are mostly tied. Great, just great. But that is still not enough to get me unduly excited.

    I WOULD get excited about something that seemed more comprehensive, that at least opened up a pathway that clearly led to the kind of radical changes needed — even if we could still only take baby steps along that pathway. Right now, I just don\’t see it emerging out of any number of further projects like this one, certainly not at any rate that one could reasonably extrapolate for continued construction of such projects into the future.

    That\’s why I\’m more interested in the perhaps equally quixotic but at least more logically grounded approach of traffic safety law reform.

    I say this because there is no way as far as I can tell that an entire separate, parallel infrastructure of any significant extent could ever be built for bikes or pedestrians that would allow them to get to the majority of destinations currently accessible to motor vehicles.

    Thus, the ONLY serious alternative for addressing the connectivity problem, in the big picture sense, is to ensure that the existing roadway infrastructure can be safely used by multiple transportation modes, WITHOUT massive re-engineering of the entire system.

    Therefore, we must shift the legal burden for traffic safety back onto heavy machinery operators, where it has always been for all other forms of heavy industrial machinery with the remarkable exception of the automobile.

    As I see it, such a shift can be accomplished gradually, over time, by much the same gradually tightening legal gauntlet applied to careless and dangerous motorists in general as MADD successfully applied to the specific case of impaired motorists.

    I think that this strategy, when combined with the more modest pace of small connectivity improvements like the one discussed here, actually could stand a chance of creating a safe and accessible road infrastructure for all users, well within our lifetimes.

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  • wsbob April 13, 2008 at 10:02 am

    A safe, accessible road infrastructure is in the process of being created, now. That\’s what a lot of this contention over the \’how, what, and why\’ is a due to. For people used to an established way of doing things, new ideas have to be convincingly introduced to them. To get their support, they have to know how they fit into the overall picture and how it benefits them and who they care about.

    It doesn\’t pay to give in to frustration and wind up being vague and contradictory when trying to identify and resolve issues. It\’s fine for the east county guy to stand up for improvements in his hood, but he doesn\’t have to do it in way that alienates those he wants support from.

    There\’s nothing wrong with the basic proposal of putting in a pedestrian bridge crossing at Flanders. Modern span, re-used Sauvie span; either could be good. Knowing which one is the better choice could have been much more easily resolved had city officials brought to the table, a better idea of design, cost outlay for the modern bridge. Every single one of them on city council let the public down on that count. That sort of thing is definitely not a good way to successfully build connectivity.

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  • steve April 13, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Bob said-

    \”A safe, accessible road infrastructure is in the process of being created, now.\”

    I say, no it is not.

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  • blogmayor April 13, 2008 at 11:55 am

    How many times do I have to repeat this?


    Cut the whinging!

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  • wsbob April 13, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    For whatever reason blogmayor referenced it(now he seems to be short for words and doesn\’t explain why he did), here\’s a link to a nice summary of that book.

    R Hurst art of urban cycling, summary review at bikeseattle.org

    For myself, I don\’t think obliging people to adapt to existing, precarious motor vehicle based roadways is a successful means of encouraging a wide segment of the public to move to biking and and walking as a way to get about town to meet their day to day needs. The people of Portland need a good pedestrian bike crossing on Flanders. It will be a part of the gradual process of connectivity that has been taking place for at least 20 years in the metro area.

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  • blogmayor April 14, 2008 at 9:02 am

    wsbob is really smart, which is why he is voting for me as Mayor. I had hoped he and others would find the April 6th post at blogmayor.com where I quoted Robert Hurst\’s prime directive:

    “The cyclist’s best chance is to gather all the responsibility that can be gathered. Hoard it from those around you. Have faith that you will do a better job than they will, and make it so. Don’t trust your fate to the police, the planners, the pedestrians, or the paramedics. Don’t leave your fate to the stars. Definitely don’t leave your fate to the drivers.”

    Sure, we all want better facilities for cycling. It is impossible to imagine commuting now without the improvement to the side paths of the Hawthorne Bridge, for which BTA deserves huge credit. But if we do not take care to ride safely there and elsewhere we will all be killed.

    When I am Mayor (HA!!!) the present pace of improvement to cycling infrastructure will continue. But I also will organize a Citizens\’ Safe Cycling program, the entry fee to which will be a copy of Hurst\’s book in one\’s hands:

    \”Instead of highlighting the difficulties and frustrations, instead of obsessing about conflicts, get out there and show the nation how EASY it already is to cycle in the city….Put the superiority of the bicycle on display. Be responsible, unflappable, and polite. Ride with style, grace, and intelligence. Ride with fear and joy.\”

    Also, ride a fixie and build your own wheels.

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  • wsbob April 14, 2008 at 9:38 am

    \”wsbob is really smart, which is why he is voting for me as Mayor.\” blogmayor

    Wishful thinking on both counts. Never went to your website bm…don\’t know what the april 6 post is all about. Hurst\’s book is fine as a survival guide for cyclists, but I think reading it would scare people away from cycling. Better to continue working on making streets safer for everyone, including people on bikes to use. Let\’s get some sort of bridge on Flanders ASAP!

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  • kg April 14, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    I think Flanders would make an excellent bike blvd. It end at Westover if you go right you can access Cornell ect and if you go left you\’re in Washington Park (after waiting to cross Burnside. At the river there would need to be improvements to the access to waterfront park but if you go any further North the challenges increase quickly (Think Post Office and Train station). However I would like to see how 16th would be addressed in the installation of the Sauvie Island Bridge. Would this be a stop light? It is hard to judge how big of an improvement this would be without seeing the solution to the 16th street crossing. If a bridge were to be designed specifically for this location could it go over 16th?

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  • wsbob April 14, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    \”If a bridge were to be designed specifically for this location could it go over 16th?\” kg

    That\’s a good point kg. Might it be better if 16th at Flanders dipped to go under the 16ths present grade level? So, the dip would run from Glisan to Flanders. That sounds like big money.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 14, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    I always come back to the law, because right now, the roads are NOT safe for anyone, as attested to by 42,000 deaths per year, overwhelmingly on account of errors, incompetence, and negligence on the part of motorists.

    Thus, it seems very clear to me that the real safety problems and substantive insecurity felt by people on the roads — all people, whether motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, parents — can best be tackled by educating people about the laws and principles of safe motor vehicle operation, as well as creating powerful deterrents and incentives to ensure respect for them.

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  • blogmayor April 14, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Don\’t want to turn this fine thread into a safety screed, but a couple of wonderful people from last year still would be with us if they had not placed their fates in the hands of reasonably competent and professional motorists. We need both good infrastructure and self-reliant cyclists to make our way in the world.

    Suggestion: let\’s congregate at Elly\’s Flanders Street do on Thursday, then take up the issue on that thread. 1700 sharp at 15th & Flanders.

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  • wsbob April 14, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    That\’s all fine Gramsci, but it does not adequately address the probability for human error inevitability occurring from overy idiosyncratic street infrastructure. If streets are to truly aid the safe and efficient movement of pedestrians, people on bikes, and motor vehicles, street infrastructure has to be designed specifically for that purpose.

    Effective design is not predictably successful as an accident. Education, laws and enforcement alone cannot compensate for glaring motor vehicle biased street infrastructure. Maybe it has worked in places like Japan or China, in some instances, but culturally, I doubt U.S. citizens are yet ready to be receptive to that kind of collective adaptation.

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  • wsbob April 14, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    substitute: \’overly\’ for \’overy\’. That\’s just too weird…I had to correct it.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 14, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    wsbob: You may be right. We\’re kind of on virgin ground here since, with the exception of impaired drivers, there has yet to emerge in the US any successful efforts to hold motorists strictly accountable for the safe operation of their machinery. But I say: It\’s about time.

    The automobile continues to be the exception to the rule for the way we regulate heavy machinery. That exception could be eliminated. Or it might prove, for cultural reasons as you cited, impossible to eliminate.

    In that case, though, I don\’t think the mere existence or design of certain infrastructure would be to blame. Rather, it would be the reverse: the infrastructure was so designed for cultural reasons, and the same cultural reasons made it impossible to change the exceptional status of personal automotive machinery.

    Remember: No matter how the streets are laid out (and for that matter, how slippery they get due to inclement weather, etc), the driver has a brake and an accelerator. Under ordinary circumstances, he has very fine control of his velocity, and can add or subtract reaction time at will by applying that control. And not only does all driver education emphasize this, but most drivers are also quite aware of these facts as well — even the not so well trained ones.

    The combined cultural and legal changes that I\’m arguing for will certainly be helped or hindered by a host of other factors, among which will certainly be the availability and attractiveness of alternative modes, the cost of fuel, etc, etc.

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  • wsbob April 14, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Agree with most of those points Gramsci. I think back to what I was told about Tokyo, I think it was, many years ago…for sure it was Japan; drivers in that city don\’t get 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th chances and so on. They are introduced from an early age to the fact that they either learn the techniques and driver disposition or they don\’t drive, period. Don\’t know if that\’s valid yet today in that city. Maybe someone can confirm.

    U.S. citizens wouldn\’t accept those limitations. Driving, to many of them seems to be almost like an extra \’right\’ on the bill of rights in this country.

    U.S. citizens also wouldn\’t take readily to the co-operation and submission required to stuff train cars full of people during rush hour. Easier, more comfortable to drive. (I\’ll even concede that. In fact, I think trains should be made to be far more comfortable and safer then they are now, to attract riders; stereo, cocktail cars, cars with sports on tv.

    As far as I\’m concerned, in certain respects and from a cultural standpoint, personal automotive machinery or single occupancy vehicles, represent a devolution of transportation infrastructure in the U.S. Long ago, it may have seemed like a good idea for everyone to have their own car, on the road morning and late afternoon, and in-between. But now, it\’s just terrible. A big, ugly, dangerous mess. ( I think your said something like that, in a slightly different way).

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 14, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Yes, there is a sense of entitlement to drive motor vehicles. However, some people cannot drive them, for financial or other reasons. Their numbers are growing. And I predict that, in the competition between people who feel an \”entitlement\” to drive their motor vehicles, and people who feel a mortal danger at the hands (or, wheels) of the former, the latter will win out.

    It is one thing to feel motivated by a sense of entitlement to something that is a creature comfort and status symbol. It is quite another, however, to feel intense fear for one\’s personal safety on a daily basis at the hands of people who seem to be actively irresponsible and arrogant on the roadways. An army of ten of the former might only just match the potential energy of one of the latter.

    I can say this just based on my own personal anecdotal experience: I know that, since I became an all-weather commuter cyclist, I\’ve learned more about the vehicle code, chapter and verse, have attended more events related to road safety and regulation, written more letters, had more conversations on the subject, and spent more time and money on these issues than I probably would have in a whole lifetime of motor vehicularizing.

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