(Photo © J. Maus)
This guest article was written by Dave Feucht and it originally appeared on his Portlandize blog. Dave, 31, does IT work at the OHSU School of Dentistry up on Marquam Hill and lives in the Kerns neighborhood in northeast Portland.
His story is a follow-up to news of road projects that are currently limiting access to Marquam Hill and the South Waterfront.
The medical university that I work for is largely on top of a hill, with really only two good routes to get to it from the main part of Portland. There are, I believe, thousands of employees here every day, not to mention thousands of patients going up and down the hill each day.
One of the roads that comes up the hill has been cracking and was badly in need of repairs, in order to not slide down the hill, so the City of Portland closed this road off, starting on July 11th, and going through the end of August. That means all the traffic that would normally use this route is going to be diverted to the other route, and it has been clear already in the last week that this is problematic, at best.
In order to try to make this as painless as possible, the university has been offering more encouragement for staff and faculty to not drive to work during this closure. We do have a building and some parking off of the hill, but as you may remember from previous posts, one of the main roads that leads to that area is under heavy construction, and automobile access is also restricted there at the moment.
So what’s the solution? Offer larger monetary incentives for those who commit to not driving to work during the road closure, take about 8-10 car parking spots in a parking lot and offer bicycle valet parking at the bottom of the hill, which both adds a large section of parking to the already large offering, and offers secure parking so that people concerned about their bikes getting stolen don’t have to take their bicycles up the aerial tram (leaving it open to haul more people), and in general, encourage everyone to remember that the patients come first, and they need to be served here and have access to the services they need.
The results on the hill are that traffic has indeed been bad, but passable. If you can imagine those hundreds of bicycles instead being automobiles, and the hundreds of people riding buses also in private automobiles, you can imagine that there would simply be no option but to come to a screeching halt.
It’s a great reminder of how choosing not to drive if you have the option can make things so much better for those who really need automobiles, including our freight into and out of the city. Providing real opportunities and incentives for people to not drive when they are able clears up our roads and makes them passable.