Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Advocates mount effort to keep transportation hierarchy in city policy

Posted by on February 24th, 2015 at 9:35 am

green hierarchy

Created in 2009 for the city’s Climate Action Plan, it’s
maybe the city’s single most progressive statement of
transportation policy.

The City of Portland says (PDF) its new 20-year comprehensive plan is informed by three city documents that created a prioritized ranking for transportation needs.

But it’s an open question whether the “green transportation hierarchy,” as it’s been known since its creation in 2009, will be fully enshrined in the 20-year comprehensive plan as it previously was in the Sam Adams-era Climate Action Plan, Bicycle Plan for 2030 and Portland Plan.

Members of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee are making it one of their top requests to the city to keep the chart in place and intact.

hierarchypullquote

The chart is, of course, just a chart. As recently as last summer, the city was proposing to spend $30,000 to narrow a sidewalk in a commercial area in order to preserve three on-street car parking spaces next to an unused offstreet private parking lot.

But the transportation hierarchy is seen as a powerful enough idea that some freight advocates have urged for the “commercial vehicles” category, currently ranked below “public transit” and above “taxis,” to be removed from the priority list.

Policymakers Ride-37

Both are important, but where should they fall on the planning hierarchy?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

“Commercial vehicles kind of don’t really fit into a green hierarchy. or if you did put them into a green hierarchy they’d probably fit at the top of the pile,” said Corky Collier, executive director of the Columbia Corridor Association of freight customers. “They’re moving a lot of goods and services very efficiently.”

In the end, Collier said there’s no hierarchy that can usefully weigh moving a 150-pound person against moving 150 pounds of commercial goods.

But biking advocates like Ian Stude, chair of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, and Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, argue that the interests of commercial vehicles often need to be weighed against other priorities.

Advertisement

“The green hierarchy is not just about environmental green,” Sadowsky said Tuesday. “It is about keeping traffic moving, about successful business districts and about safety.”

The conversation comes as the city’s Planning and Sustainability Commission is asking for public input on the city’s 20-year comprehensive plan, which this year is due for its first update since the 1980s. As part of its outreach process, the city is asking residents and other stakeholders to sift through 83 pages of online transportation project lists to select their five most important projects.

For example, there’s project 40109, a neighborhood greenway on NE 14th Avenue between Halsey and Lombard, expected to cost $774,000 and be built sometime in the late 2020s or early 2030s, or project 50015, “Gateway 99th/96th streetscape improvements,” which would “reconstruct primary local main street in Gateway Regional Center.” That’s expected to cost $4.9 million and happen in the next 10 years.

Like the city’s Bicycle Plan for 2030 (which was one of many documents the city used to help build this list), there’s no money attached to these plans. The purpose of this ranking is to help the city decide which projects to try to find money for.

If you’d like to participate in the city’s “top five” exercise, you can find your favorites in the project lists on this page and emailing them (with your name and home address) to PSC@portlandoregon.gov and TSP@portlandoregon.gov. Alternatively, you can submit comments through the city’s map app, or testify in person at a hearing this evening or by mail. Here are the city’s instructions (PDF) on how to do those things.

That’d also be a way to share feelings on the city’s transportation hierarchy.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

23
Leave a Reply

avatar
9 Comment threads
14 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
14 Comment authors
9wattsChris AndersonpaikialaPorterStoutinwe Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

A compromise would be to transfer the goods at a facility outside the city from large 55′ trucks to smaller ones which can better navigate urban streets and have smaller blind spots.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Freight distribution seems like a good candidate for driverless vehicles. Small loads, distributed/gathered widely from/to a central freight managment center. Containers off-loaded into dedicated spaces in the parking lane, freight zones, instead of truck loading zones. Airlines already containerize luggage going a particular direction/flight path.

Eric Iverson
Guest
Eric Iverson

It’s nice that they want opinions, but to do the email option will require a TON of reading and investigating. The Map APP is nice but how will they weight these opinions vs. email vs. showing up in person? I’m guessing in reverse order as I list them.

PorterStout
Guest
PorterStout

I’m wondering why the Transportation Hierarchy reproduced above puts walking above cycling? I like to walk and I walk a fair amount, but it can’t compare with a bicycle if we’re talking about actual transportation. Commuting, for example, is for me 15 minutes via bike vs. an hour walking. And carrying something, like a laptop or my lunch, is much easier. I don’t think walking can claim any environmental benefits over cycling either. So why is it at the top? I didn’t see an explanation for it in the Climate Action Plan just now.

Daniel Costantino
Guest
Daniel Costantino

I’m afraid this feels like public involvement for peanuts.

What’s the use of adopting a green hierarchy as policy without shifting the general conversation regarding transportation funding at meeting users’ needs in that order? It looks like a policy whitewash: “we wish we could do it this way, however because we’re used to fixing potholes we’ll fix potholes”.

After all, we can’t even advocate for bicycle and pedestrian project by their name, we’ve had to rename them “safety projects”.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Keep in mind even the 20-year comp plan doesn’t legally bind the city to actually follow any of its guidelines, at all. Its kind of just a guidance document that, because of the input and involvement by BPS, PBOT and other bureaus means that many of its facets will be followed. But there isn’t anything in it that actually requires the city to implement it.

Opus the Poet
Guest

The transportation hierarchy is seen as a powerful enough idea that some freight advocates have urged for the “commercial vehicles” category, currently ranked below “public transit” and above “taxis”, to be removed from the priority list.” Yep, that is a real good idea, go from the middle of the list to nowhere on the list. That will ensure you get lots of funding /snark

rick4redelectrictrail
Guest
rick4redelectrictrail
inwe
Guest
inwe

I’d love to see someone put forward a solid, feasible plan for after-hours use of the MAX and Streetcar lines for moving freight; from airport and suburban distribution facility to central city staging area to light neighborhood delivery vehicle, whether that be van or cargo bike.