The Monday Roundup

Here’s the news that caught our eye this week:
– Another voice has joined the chorus pointing out that the federal government can create more jobs by building public transit rather than freeways.

– The 2010 Winter Olympics will be in Vancouver, BC, and the big question on the minds of many is how to handle transportation, with private cars seen as one of the least desirable parts of the mix.

– Here in green, dense Portland, the numbers show that most households still own and use a private car. What’s going on? A blogger tries to wrap his head around that in light of Portlanders’ fairly low transit use and walking rate, and eventually points his finger at the city’s massive amount of subsidized street parking.

– Speaking of parking, have you ever looked down at I-84 from the 12th Ave overpass at 5:15 and contemplated what a terrible commute that must be? Well, it’s far from the worst. Here’s a ranking of the nation’s worst gridlock spots.

– Desk jockeys and car commuters take note! No matter how much exercise you get during the rest of the day, sitting down all day is terrible for your health.

– The city council in Geneva, Switzerland, has voted to make almost 200 roads in the center city car-free.

– In bike-heavy Groningen, Netherlands, researchers have issued the results of a study on the effects of cell phone use while cycling.

– Many US American suburbs are anything but wealthy — and the challenges of serving their residents with transit are as difficult as the neighborhoods are sprawling.

– In Washington, DC, the city recently removed the ghost bike memorial for 22 year old Alice Swanson from the spot in DuPont Circle near where she was killed in a right hook crash; shortly afterwards 22 new ghost bikes materialized in the vicinity.

– A law to create greater penalties in traffic deaths of “vulnerable road users” is back on the table in New York State.

– From San Francisco, an inspiring memorial of pro-transit, anti-freeway activist Norm Rolfe.

– Also in SF, bike counts are way up since 2006 despite the three-year ban on building new bike infrastructure that was only lifted in recent months.

– Aaron Naparstek, founder and editor of Streetsblog, is moving on after building an empire of livable streets activist journalism.

– St Helena, the remote island to which Napoleon was once exiled, is now the place “where Ford Escorts go to die.”

– Portland’s bike-mounted cargo haulers are in the news! A profile of businesses who operate by bike; and the bicycle journey of a family’s giant dining room table.

– Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for — a roundup of freak tricycles from around Portland and the internet. Yeah!

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bahueh
bahueh
12 years ago

gree, dense Portland?
What Portland are you talking about?
I would have to disagree about car ownership tied to parking rates. I own a car…I never park downtown…as do most people I know.

jeff
jeff
12 years ago

FYI, The Alice Swanson ghost bike story was over 6 months ago.

Northwest Girl
Northwest Girl
12 years ago

As much as I do by bike (groceries, errands, out to eat, social visits, rides in the west hills for exercise), I own a car and I use it.

How else do I transport myself and my dog to the farther reaches of Forest Park for a run? Or when guests are visiting? Or any of the other myriad times when using the car is the way to go. I agree with #1. I live in NW Portland. I never park downtown. I use a car. Deal with it.

Erik Sandblom
Erik Sandblom
12 years ago

Groningen is in The Netherlands, not Germany.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groningen

Anyway, I like the Monday Roundup feature. Nice summaries and interesting choice of stories.

GLV
GLV
12 years ago

How else do I transport myself and my dog to the farther reaches of Forest Park for a run? Or when guests are visiting? Or any of the other myriad times when using the car is the way to go.

I would add going to the Gorge, to the coast, and skiing to the list…three of the primary uses I get out of my car. None of these are urban design issues. There are simply a lot of transportation needs that bicycles are not going to solve.

Elliot
Elliot
12 years ago

Elly, I think we’re all on board about subsidized street parking, but please read the Human Transit article again. Jarrett doesn’t discuss on-street parking, but garage rates instead. This is a very important distinction to make! The SmartPark webpage is probably a good starting point for people interested in beginning an intelligent discussion based on Jarrett’s article.

RyNO Dan
RyNO Dan
12 years ago

I am so disappointed ! I thought he was going to talk about subsidized street parking. (you can really tell that guy doesn’t live in PDX.)
Free on-street parking is a top-five subsidy provided to the motoring community. It’s also seems to be one of those unalienable entitlements that will be difficult to attack. But other cities have done it in the past, and we need to get cracking. Some possibilities.

1) No on-street parking on bus routes.

2) Alternating, single-sided parking in neighborhoods. Opens up space for bikes.
Get’s rid of the cheaters who park their third/fourth/fifth cars on the steet for years. ETc. Reduces parking availability = less incentive to drive.

3) Parking permit for on-street parking. Everyone pays. Guests can get a permit from strategically placed automated tellers. Home owners can clean out their driveways and park in them. No driveway ? Then get a permit. Exceptions considered.

bahueh
bahueh
12 years ago

Can I ask what exactly is wrong with owning/using a car for various things at various times?

Many here repeatedly advocate for finding ways to make people who own cars pay more and more…for what reason? to subsidize more bike infrastructure? to help pay for car infrastructure? or is it out of simple, misplaced and misdirected malice because some here feel as though their own sense of biking entitlement is somehow endangered?

Ryno Dan wants everyone to pay to park on public use roadways it seems…besides himself. Dan, not many folks in town have more than 1 car each…despite what you may want us to believe. And if you can to look around, PDX is not really laden with driveways for the most part…on street parking is a reality of how homes were built here between 1910 and 1950… maybe I should park on my front lawn to get out of your way?

Jackattak
Jackattak
12 years ago

Northwest Girl – You might want to look into Zipcar. It seems as though it would suit your needs much better than a privately owned vehicle.

My wife and I abandoned automobiles in 2008, live Downtown, have two 50-lb. dogs, and it’s honestly never been a problem for us to just be pedestrians in this town. Walking, bicycling, the bus lines, MAX lines, and Streetcar work for us 90% of the time.

For the other 10% we use Zipcar. It costs $50/yr. + $8/hr. and you never pay for insurance, parking, gas (you use the Zipcar card to pay at gas stations), etc.

RyNO Dan
RyNO Dan
12 years ago

Oh, and there are at least two Portland connections in the Trike pictures.

Northwest Girl
Northwest Girl
12 years ago

I know all about Zipcar. Thanks for the advice.

But no. A Zipcar isn’t going to cut it when I go to VT for two months in the summer, go skiing in WY, go backpacking in Glacier, have guests visiting from the East Coast, etc. All these trips have me using my car which gets 30 mpg. There’s no getting around it. I use my car. Doesn’t make me any less of anything. There is a lot of gray in the world, right?

cold worker
cold worker
12 years ago

i think focusing on the parking rates downtown doesn’t fully reflect what is meant by subsidizing parking. all business districts need meters on the streets. hawthorne, belmont, alberta, hollywood, etc. i know the article talks about downtown, but it’s not like that is the only part of town where you should have to pay to park.

if you don’t think portland is gree(n) i suggest you go live in just about any other US city. the density is a little trickier, what is dense anyways? i can’t speak to that.

Northwest Girl
Northwest Girl
12 years ago

Not to mention: do you know what a dog looks like after a 12 mile run in Forest Park during the winter? I’m not too sure Zipcar would smile kindly on even the best efforts to contain muck and grime.

ma
ma
12 years ago

Jackattack, zipcar makes sense for those who have car payments. But for those who own their cars, zipcar is a rip-off and is less convenient. $8 an hour and $69 per day is more expensive than insurance, maintenance, and gas on my paid-ff car.

BTW, that’s $2070 if you used a zipcar every day for a month, ouch.

Elly, like bahueh and NWgirl I also own a car and a bike. I’m a much as a proud car owner as much as I am a bike owner. Like most cyclist in Portland, we know how to balance car usage with pedal power (prob better than those who only own a bike or car). I know, it’s strange, but there is nothing wrong with owning a car in Portland. You should try it sometime.

JB
JB
12 years ago

NW Girl, I’m with you. I never thought of bikes as a legit form of transportation before I moved to Portland and now I ride all the time for in-town trips. I think the street designs and local culture make it easy for a newcomer to start riding. But I won’t give up my car. I try to get out of town at least 2 weekends a month, and pretty much all summer long. And for that I drive my car. Expecting everyone to ditch owning an automobile is pretty out-there. Unless all you do is tool around PDX, then that seems unreasonable.

Michael M.
12 years ago

Elly, so you are talking about subsidized on-street parking all over the city, but Jarrett is talking about subsidized parking garages in downtown. And yet, neither of you establish a link between either of these things and Portland’s lowish transit/walking rates.

Ever think that it might have very little to do with subsidized parking anywhere, and much more to do with jobs fleeing Portland, especially the central city? Have you walked around Portland’s central city lately? Noticed the “For lease” signs and empty retail, office, and residential space?

Portland and Tri-Met have invested millions in a public transit network that excels in transporting people to and from downtown, just as the trend is for fewer and fewer people to work downtown, and to have any particular reason to go downtown. The so-called “reverse commute” is becoming more and more common in the region (and not only this region).

I just got back (to the Hollywood area) from a visit to the doctor (whose office is downtown). Downtown was pretty sparse — of drivers, of cyclists, of pedestrians. There is definitely more auto traffic out here in NE, but there are many fewer places people need to get themselves to that are within walking distance of where they are, and Tri-Met’s service out here is not so comprehesive or as frequent to make up for it. So some of us bike, many more drive. Which is pretty much what the data shows.

Jackattak
Jackattak
12 years ago

Northwest Girl # 13 –

Easy…not sure why you’re sounding so defensive. I surely wasn’t trying to imply anything with the suggestion.

Why do people who own cars get so upset when someone makes a suggestion to the contrary?

If it works for you, it works for you. Certainly no one would disdain someone else for owning a car? I know I wouldn’t. Not owning a car works for me, but I’m not so daft as to think that my solution would work for everyone.

It was merely a suggestion. Sorry for offending.

Jackattak
Jackattak
12 years ago

@ ma # 16 –

Understandable. It was merely a suggestion to Northwest Girl as it sounded as if she didn’t use a car very often.

That’s where Zipcar is most useful. It’s specifically NOT designed for people who “use a car everyday”.

spare_wheel
12 years ago

I believe that every car trip I make is destructive, selfish behavior. I am doing my best to eliminate this behavior without resorting to defensiveness.

Northwest Girl
Northwest Girl
12 years ago

Jackattack #13: I thanked you for your advice.

John Lascurettes
12 years ago

While part of me wants to get behind the sentiment of getting rid of indirect subsidization of auto parking, I also fear it from another perspective. Get all those autos paying for the shoulder of the road too and we’re going to get even more of the sentiment that bicycles are not paying for the road (as untrue as that is) and that car drivers are paying for it all (which is laughably untrue).

Oliver
Oliver
12 years ago

Vermont, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon.

NW girl does have a point, arguing about a few local car trips to someone who flies so much is futile.

However, the point of that article was about the subsidization of parking and its detrimental effects on transit utilisation.

My car lives in its garage. I bike or take the max to work. Like NW girl and many here, I drive my car for entertainment/recreation and sometimes for errands.

However,

If we could get people out of the appliances they use to drive to work, (which, I suspect, constitutes the vast majority of vmt) then we could go along way toward solving the problems associated with it ($taxes$, pollution, CRC, traffic fatalities etc ad nauseum)

Doing this may require ending the huge subsidies for daily automobile use, parking included.

btw the article didn’t even mention the direct commuter parking tax credit which in Oegon can also be over $215 a month.

Brad
Brad
12 years ago

Something tells me that all here would be pissed if we suddenly went libertarian and eliminated all public subsidies. Bike lane tolls anyone? Sharrow fees? “Build It” tax on bicyles?

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
12 years ago

“Many here repeatedly advocate for finding ways to make people who own cars pay more and more…for what reason? to subsidize more bike infrastructure? to help pay for car infrastructure? or is it out of simple, misplaced and misdirected malice because some here feel as though their own sense of biking entitlement is somehow endangered?” –bahueh

Speaking for myself only, the main issue I have with free residential street parking is not really with free residential street parking–it is with folks who complain about “freeloading” cyclists and the cost of “bike infrastructure” while they take up 1/3 of the width of a residential (public) street to store their private auto for free. Part of RyNO Dan’s suggestion #3 was that exceptions would be considered–maybe one exception could be for those whose homes were built with no driveway?

wsbob
12 years ago

I’m not certain about this, but the city may already charge residents of some neighborhoods a small fee for a permit to put on their car indicating that it does in fact belong to a resident, and thus is free of on-street parking restrictions placed on other vehicles.

I would think though, that as a means of raising more revenue, the city would be very interested in raising that fee, or getting one established if it doesn’t already exist. Over the years, on street parking for motor vehicles has been steadily expanded by the city as a reliable source of revenue for the city.

Noah Genda
Noah Genda
12 years ago

Everyone has different transportation needs, me and most of my friends do not own cars and yes it can be a pain when you want to cut up to Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River. I guess my main thing is using the car as absolutely little as possible, the more bikes on the road will result in more options for bicycling and public transportation. Having lived on the East Coast for a while I have realized the public transportation in this city is not very great. I do live in Portland and work about 10 miles outside of town and I have not had a problem for the last 9 months getting to work on time every day on my bike. There are just so many people that automatically go to “nope, not gonna work I have places to be out of town” which only leads to driving more and discounting the biking option mentally. But, whatever, to each their own and I dont believe there is an absolute rule on the subject. After all for the last hundred years we have abandonded the bike for the car in the mainstream conciousness. Always remember you are in Portland, and it bikes, and with all causes there are extreme views on each side.

spare_wheel
12 years ago

“I drive my car for entertainment/recreation and sometimes for errands.”

Hopping into an SUV to buy a mega-sized slurpee is just as environmentally destructive as driving a biodiesel subaru to forest park. IMO, both automotive activities should be made far more expensive than they are now. Dramatically increasing parking fees would be a very good start.

Jackattak
Jackattak
12 years ago

A heavy duty gas tax would also help, spare_wheel.

john
john
12 years ago

“Hopping into an SUV to buy a mega-sized slurpee is just as environmentally destructive as driving a biodiesel subaru to forest park. ”

Hmm, speaking of an extremist view and blatant generalization.

jv
jv
12 years ago

# 30 “Hopping into an SUV to buy a mega-sized slurpee is just as environmentally destructive as driving a biodiesel subaru to forest park. IMO, both automotive activities should be made far more expensive than they are now. Dramatically increasing parking fees would be a very good start.”

As someone who owns multiple (4) vehicles, I have to largely disagree with you. Firstly on a technicality – Subaru does not yet make any diesel vehicles, so none could run biodiesel. Secondly I agree that DRIVING vehicles should be as expensive as possible for the majority of un-creative people. To me that means drastically increasing fuel taxes and biannual registration fees, and putting that money into funding other modes. However, raising fees to have a vehicle PARKED (ergo – not used) in residential neighborhoods makes no sense to me. I commute by bike every day, but use my vehicles often to visit my partner in the Gorge, see friends in WA state, go to the mountains, and often lend them out to friends in need of a vehicle temporarily. Motorized transport is immensely useful, and I am as enthusiastic about fixing up old deisel/veggie cars as old bikes.

When I lived in NYC (Manhattan) I still had my truck, and though it sure was a pain to repark every other day for street cleaning, it was much appreciated by my fellow community gardeners for runs to Long Island Nurseries and for transporting sweet craigslist finds around the city.

So go ahead and make parking downtown expensive – but I would never live in a condo and Portland really is not dense enough (yet) to justify expensive paid parking in other residential neighborhoods.

spare_wheel
12 years ago

“of an extremist view”
instead of sniping and running it would be nice if you could elaborate on why my statement was extremist.

“Subaru does not yet make any diesel vehicles”
ok…change subaru to volvo. not judging…i use my car on occcasion too. i just want the expense to be more aligned with the true cost/impact on society. if it were, even a small city like pdx would have a NY-style public transportation system.

jv
jv
12 years ago

The backbone of the NYC subway transportation system started well before the time of the automobile, not as a response to it. It is a brilliant system for many needs, but was still not a replacement for a car (or a cargo bike). NYC-style transportation exists purely because of the city’s density of approximately 27k people/square mile. Portland at aprox. 4k/square mile has along way to go…and even in upper Manhattan, most of the street parking is free, you are just limited to the time you can stay parked in one spot due to street cleaning. So parking is not expensive, it is just inconvenient.

I see a backwards logic about residential parking from a lot of people here– if it is cheap and easy to leave your car at home, but costs lots to bring it to work, that is the ideal situation. Anything else actually encourages people to commute by car. Employers should eliminate free car parking spots for employees – that should be the real discussion here. If we want to reduce car ownership, then lets raise car registration costs – incidentally, it is illegal to park a car with expired tabs on the street, so that would solve two problems.

ma
ma
12 years ago

@22: It doesn’t really make sense to berate other people (or yourself) for choosing to own a car, since the whole

Elly, if you think so, then why not moderate #32 post? It’s pretty clear that his inflammatory comment is designed to “berate”/insult towards a subset population and does not encourage respectful discussion.

joy
joy
12 years ago

@#36 I was thinking the same thing. Defiantly tasteless behavior. I’ve always thought that cyclists were above such ridicule.

daisy spokes
daisy spokes
12 years ago

Well that’s a disappointing conclusion. I didn’t read anything respectful with that post either. It wasn’t constructive, and leans too much into the bigotry side of the fence.

As a long time reader, I’ve seen you moderate comments when the insults start flying, so I don’t buy the hands off approach, in this case. His comments were insulting to motorists AND cyclists alike.

jim
jim
12 years ago

subsidized parking?
I guess bikes are the most subsidized since they pay nothing to park downtown.
freee ride

Jackattak
Jackattak
12 years ago

Gee Jim that’s probably because they don’t take up any worthwhile street or sidewalk space.

Why even come here with the anti-bike stuff? Is it just to troll?

GLV
GLV
12 years ago

they don’t take up any worthwhile street or sidewalk space.

Jack, that’s just not true. Those bike corrals downtown are in place of paid auto parking spots.

Jackattak
Jackattak
12 years ago

Good point, GLV. I think in my frustration I wasn’t thinking clearly.

Nevermind, then. I’m happy that the bikes are taking up car infrastructure. 🙂

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Jackattack-
sounds like a commie attack on freedom to use a car if needed. try and lug 500 lbs of tools on public transportation daily, or getting an 85 yr old mother to her doctor apt., dosn’t work. I am tired of people insisting on a bigger govt. that controls every aspect of our lives. I don’t want to be fined thousands of dollars because I haven’t bought health insurance. Not all of us can afford, nor want to live downtown in an expensive loft, good for you if that works for you but dont try and force your life style on the rest of us. I know you don’t like to hear all this , but this is still America and we still have freedom of speach, and nobody can tell me what I have to think.
Take your attacks off of American soil.

jim
jim
12 years ago

Jackattack-
sounds like a commie attack on freedom to use a car if needed. try and lug 500 lbs of tools on public transportation daily, or getting an 85 yr old mother to her doctor apt., dosn’t work. I am tired of people insisting on a bigger govt. that controls every aspect of our lives. I don’t want to be fined thousands of dollars because I haven’t bought health insurance. Not all of us can afford, nor want to live downtown in an expensive loft, good for you if that works for you but dont try and force your life style on the rest of us. I know you don’t like to hear all this , but this is still America and we still have freedom of speach, and nobody can tell me what I have to think.
Take your attacks off of American soil.