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The Portland Aerial Tram’s impact on bicycling has been profound (and vice versa)

Posted by on January 27th, 2017 at 11:53 am

(Photo: PBOT)

All eyes will be on the Portland Aerial Tram as the beloved transit mode turns 10 years old this weekend. While the Tram deserves all the attention, a big part of its coming-of-age story is the symbiotic relationship it has had with cycling.

The tram and bicycles were an unlikely couple at the start but in the past decade they have become inseparable. At a lunchtime presentation in City Hall last week, Art Pearce, the City of Portland staffer who managed the project for the Bureau of Transportation, credited the Tram for putting bicycle access front-and-center in the South Waterfront District. He also confessed that no one expected the Tram and cycling to be such a perfect pair.

Pearce (who I interviewed before the Tram officially opened in 2006) is now PBOT’s manager of policy, planning and projects. He said the aim of the project was to “knit together” the “island” of the South Waterfront to the rest of the central city. “At the time, you wouldn’t imagine biking or walking from South Waterfront to downtown. It seemed so far away.”

“As a cycle commuter,” Pearce recalled, “It was literally the wild west down there at the time.”

Even so, Pearce advocated for bike parking at the base the Tram from the start. The design manuals called for eight spaces. Pearce said he had to “fight hard” to get 16 spaces. That was nowhere near enough. “From day one there were bikes everywhere… the demand surprised even me.”

Bikes parked at the Tram the first summer it opened.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

When I paid a visit in those first days of the Tram the bike parking situation was clearly a problem. Almost immediately it attracted hundreds of bike users who parked their steeds to every imaginable surface: fences, trees, benches. Pearce said the lack of parking caused upwards of 200 people a day to take their bikes inside the Tram pods, which led the City to consider banning them. “But we ultimately felt like that was the wrong direction to go.” (You can still easily wheel your bike into the pods.)

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SW Moody Avenue near the Tram.
(Photo: PBOT)

Instead of fighting against bikes, the City embraced them. “It was a pivotal moment,” Pearce recalled. “As a planner, seeing this demand reinforced for me that we needed to make the areas around the Tram as high-quality [for biking] as we can achieve.”

Pearce said demand for cycling due to the presence of the Tram led to bicycling (and walking) becoming a major priority in the 2009 South Waterfront Concept Plan. That plan set into motion the cycle-track on SW Moody Avenue, all those bicycle traffic signals, bike share stations, the carfree Tilikum Bridge and so on. There will also be high-quality bicycle access from the base of the Tram to the upcoming extension of SW Bond Avenue. (We took a deeper dive into the success of this multi-modal infrastructure surrounding the Tram in 2012.)

Looking back, Pearce says the lesson here is that, “Quality infrastructure can impact behavior. If you build the right infrastructure, people’s behavior will respond to it.”

No one is more familiar with that response than Kiel Johnson. Johnson owns and operates Go By Bike, the bike shop and bike valet service at the base of the Tram. Since he started the valet in 2012, the average number of users has doubled from 165 to 328 in 2016. And according to OHSU Transportation Options Coordinator John Landolfe, 24 percent of all Marquam Hill’s 10,000 or so employees who take the tram bike to campus. That’s just five points fewer than the number that take transit or drive alone.

(Data and graphic: OHSU/John Landolfe)

(Data and graphic: OHSU/John Landolfe)

Today the amount of bicycles parked at the base of the Tram is larger than anywhere else in America. Johnson’s record is 420 bikes at his valet alone — not to mention the hundreds of other bike parking spaces around adjacent buildings managed by OHSU. Johnson says he has space for 600 bikes in a space where you could only fit 20 cars.

Would all those bikes be there without the Tram to whisk them up the hill in just 180 seconds? Would the Tram be such a success (no one ever talks about its $57 million price tag these days) without being so easy to bike to?

And don’t forget, without the Tram there would be no OHSU in the South Waterfront to begin with. It was the promise of this “ski-lift in the central city” (Pearce’s words) that Portland used to woo OHSU to the area.

The Tram serves mostly employees, staff, patients and visitors of Oregon Health Sciences University. As the largest employer in Oregon with 17,000 employees, OHSU paid for the bulk of the $57 million project (the City of Portland paid only 15 percent of the cost and it’s currently the only form of public transit they don’t subsidize). The hospital and educational campus has 29 buildings 500 feet above the base of the Tram atop Marquam Hill. Since the Tram went in they’ve built five new buildings and have another three under construction — about $1 billion in total investment and 4,000 new jobs. Pearce said if it weren’t for the Tram, OHSU would have expanded their campus in suburban Beaverton instead.

If OHSU was in Beaverton the Tram would likely not exist. Neither would the Go By Bike valet.

Johnson from Go By Bike sees the bikes — and what he calls their “integration into the tram experience” — as a powerful force that transcends getting from A-to-B. “You have tourists in the Tram who look down and say, ‘What is going on down there? What’s the deal with all those bikes?’ Their first thought is never that all these people rode to work.”

“The biggest thing I want to celebrate,” Johnson continued, “Is the Tram’s ability to inspire people. It inspired me. It inspires all these tourists. That inspiration says, ‘This place is different, and it works.’ It’s this change of reality that’s important. You’re like, ‘Oh, maybe people can bike if we build this kind of infrastructure… As a city we need to continue to focus on building these places. Places that people want to talk about. It’s those places and experiences that give a city its vibrancy.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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68 Comments
  • Justin M January 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Interesting! I ride across the Tilikum and down through John’s Landing all the time on my way home. Did not realize so much of that great bicycling infrastructure was inspired by all the hospital employees biking to the tram.

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  • todd boulanger January 27, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    This has been great news and outcome for Portland.

    [Though it should not have been too surprising, as most of the highest demand/ turn over rates for paid bike parking in the US exist at points in the transportation system where bike riders cannot easily take their bikes with them due to time of day regulations or transit capacity limitations: Bay Area Caltrain ‘Bike Train Cars’, DC Union Station, BART etc…]

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  • rainbike January 27, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    While there have been notable exceptions, I see very few conflicts between cyclists, motorists and pedestrians in the South Waterfront area. It can get crowded, but everybody seems to get along. Figure out what elements are responsible for this and replicate in other places.

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    • Adam
      Adam January 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      The cycleway along Moody is a huge reason. As is the simple fact that South Waterfront is difficult to access by car and there’s really no way to use the streets as cut-throughs. Moody is currently the only way in or out, and all the streets in the neighborhood are no more than two lanes. South Waterfront also has excellent transit and cycling access combined with the density to support those modes.

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      • Bill Clinton's Ghost January 27, 2017 at 1:04 pm

        Accordingly, I feel undue glee and satisfaction at taking the lane there and making cars go bike speed when the separate bike lane was buried in snow.

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      • Paul H January 27, 2017 at 1:06 pm

        It’s difficult to access by car, and once you get a car down there the going is slow. There are no wide-open boulevards for careless drives to zoom down. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, the tracks, stoplights, crosswalks, and green paint will keep you focused (and slow). Of course, it does the same thing for cyclists. It seems one of the few places in the city where multi-modal doesn’t mean autocentric-plus-paint.

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        • Go By Bike
          Go By Bike January 27, 2017 at 3:38 pm

          Surprisingly, we get a few drag racers going up and down Moody every day. They aren’t able to get up too much speed because of the lights but they try! I think it has more to do with the expensiveness of the neighborhood than any design features, although some bends in Moody might have helped.

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    • Go By Bike
      Go By Bike January 27, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      That is one of the reasons we moved the bike parking to in front of the tram as well, to reduce those conflicts. The bike parking used to be behind the tram and people on bikes were constantly getting stuck in the streetcar tracks and running into groups of people getting off the tram. Bike parking placement and location is really important and something that doesn’t get considered enough in initial planning. The decision to move the parking was before my time but it was a good one! – Kiel

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  • NOMO January 27, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    $57,000,000 well spent!

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  • rick January 27, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    It is very nice, but the Tram hasn’t run 24 / 7 outside of snow storms. It it why the neighborhood has asked PBOT for a legit crosswalk on SW Naito Parkway at SW Whitaker in order to walk on the trails from Barbur to Terwilliger.

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  • rick January 27, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    What if OHSU had bought property by the Beaverton Transit Center in downtown Beaverton? It is the second-busiest transit center in the Portland area.

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    • Chris I January 27, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      It takes over an hour to get there from most parts of the City of Portland by transit. If MAX had a subway through downtown, it would have been a more viable option.

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  • Kyle Banerjee January 27, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve always found it curious that the tram allows bikes on it. Not that it’s a bad thing. They seem to be able to handle demand, and a few of my coworkers take advantage of that but ride down the hill.

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    • Matt January 27, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      That was the deal they made when they built the tram. Lots of people weren’t comfortable locking bikes up so far away from work. But now the bike valet is there, so it’s no big deal.

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  • Bill Clinton's Ghost January 27, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Does the Tram get you high enough up on the marquam hill to mostly coast down into Justin Beiberton?

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    • Chris I January 27, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      Most of the way, but you still have a few climbs and difficult roads with no shoulder or bike lane to ride on if you were to start at OHSU.

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    • Kyle Banerjee January 27, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      It is true that many roads don’t have shoulders or bike lanes in this area. But from a traffic perspective, it’s very easy riding. From a hill perspective, not so much.

      If you ride hills, it’s faster and more fun to ride up than take the tram.

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      • SE Rider January 28, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        Yes, those are some of the most popular cycling training roads in the city. It’s rare that I’m riding up that way and don’t see another cyclist.

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    • rick January 27, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      to coast down to where? It is a fairly intense bike climb from the Tram station on the hill to get up to Council Crest park and the unofficial greenways in the southwest hills.

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      • Kyle Banerjee January 27, 2017 at 3:03 pm

        Coasting is not exactly the operative term for descending Marquam. That’s a hill you bomb down if you’re going to bother to climb it.

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        • Adam
          Adam January 27, 2017 at 3:10 pm

          I ride my brakes the entire way down the hill. Not really into “bombing”.

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          • Kyle Banerjee January 27, 2017 at 3:19 pm

            You’ll have no rims or brakes if you do that on a regular basis unless you have discs. Especially in the wet, it works like grinding paste.

            Aside from the fun factor, I can’t stand the idea of all my work just being turned into heat. I like to use aerodynamics alone to regulate my speed whenever possible.

            But I get it. Not a good idea to go faster than you’re willing to crash.

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            • Adam
              Adam January 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm

              The bike I would do that on has discs, though I usually go out of my way to avoid hills. I rode down Marquam hill on a Brompton once and it was quite nerve-wracking.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 27, 2017 at 6:43 pm

                I’m sure it was. I imagine that bike is great in dense flatter areas, but I wouldn’t want to take it through some steep curves. If you did that in summer and rode your brakes continuously, you might even heat them up enough to glaze them since those small wheels aren’t going to dissipate heat well. That would result in a sphincter puckering ride.

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          • Bill Clinton's Ghost January 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

            Ditto Adam, I am not much of a hill climber, but I do like having my body weight slowly pull me down something – its nice to have a break to dry the sweat off.

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          • Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 27, 2017 at 4:31 pm

            I pedal as hard as I can, lightly caressing the brakes if needed in corners. I don’t let up until 6th hits Glisan.

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    • wsbob January 27, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      “…Justin Beiberton?” bc ghost

      Hah! …that’s funny. Or is it? Know the name, but not that familiar with bieber. I think the beav is too tame for that goofy kid.

      Like some others have said, it’s a stiff, but not too lengthy climb from the upper tram station, winding around on the curves of the Markham Hill complex to Fairmount Blvd. It’s worth it though. Very nice riding around the mountaintop. None of the routes further west, make for an entirely downhill ride, but either Huett or Patton are good riding.

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  • Tom January 27, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    The 10th Anniversary Tram Celebration will be going on from 10am to 3pm on January 28 at the base of the Tram. There will be activities for the kids, historical displays, presentations on the construction of the Tram and the future of South Waterfront, samples from local restaurants and more. There will also be guided walks, expert talks and special Tram Anniversary memorabilia.

    Here’s the presentation schedule:

    10:30 Talk Creating the Portland Tram
    Art Pearce, Portland Bureau of Transportation

    11:30 Talk Portland’s South Waterfront Community- building a vision, seeking connections, designing with nature
    Bob Hastings, TriMet and South Waterfront resident

    12:30 Walk South Waterfront Beyond the Tram
    Pete Collins, South Waterfront Community Relations

    1:30 Talk A Look into the Future of South Waterfront
    Steve Szigethy, Portland Bureau of Transportation and Geraldene Moyle, Portland Development Commission

    In addition, there is an 11am bike ride that starts at the Portland Opera Biketown station going down the Springwater, over the Sellwood Bridge, and up the Willamette Greenway to the base of the tram. The Willamette Greenway has been much improved over the past few months:

    https://www.facebook.com/events/379437669075958/

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    • Andrew N January 27, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      Very much hoping that they send a personal invite to Randy Leonard. Maybe he can clean up some graffiti while he’s down there, too. /s

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  • Champs January 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I feel the need to call out a few things in that photo captioned “SW Moody Avenue near the Tram.” Motorized modes have only one signal, pedestrians more; cyclists face as many as four. There are simple, dedicated, and direct ways not just to cross the intersection, but make your way to downtown; neither is the case by bike. While other modes are unobstructed, the Moody cycle track is often impeded by an overflowing turn queue. This place was designed from a blank slate, but for whom?

    Any success is despite itself. Imagine what people-first engineering could do.

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    • Adam
      Adam January 27, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      There’s only one signal phase for cyclists going straight though that intersection – same as for drivers. There is, or course, a second phase to turn left, but drivers cannot turn left here, so it’s not a fair comparison. I do agree that left turn queueing area needs to be bigger, though.

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      • Bill Clinton's Ghost January 27, 2017 at 2:11 pm

        There is the signal to cross into the PLEASE WALK BIKES (bullshit I will) section by the tram.

        2 singals for crossing on either side of the bridge entrance. 1 for making your way across the tracks.

        Another mixed with pedestrian signal that tries to get you to follow the connecter under the viaduct up, with no good way to access the lane on moody leading to the start of the waterfront path by YoMi Sushi.

        My girlfriend lives down there. With all the confusing “Bike friendly” engineering, I’m always happy to get back downtown onto mixed use roads with slow enough speeds to feel safe mingling with traffic.

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        • Justin M January 27, 2017 at 2:26 pm

          It can be a little awkward to navigate at times, especially if you want to turn left coming off the bridge. I’d take that any day over downtown tho. The drivers downtown are just mind boggling. You can be going at the same pace as traffic because of the lights, but drivers will still be FURIOUS that they’re behind a bicycle. I’ve been honked at by some of the angriest people I have ever seen in my life downtown, hell even when I am going faster than traffic by going into the transit lane for a minute. There’s no making these people happy. At least the south waterfront area, with all its navigatory flaws, is generally travelled by nice people.

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          • dan January 27, 2017 at 2:54 pm

            haha, they’re angry at you by going faster than them (they are, after all, in a CAR!) by “cheating” and traveling in the transit lane

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        • Adam
          Adam January 27, 2017 at 2:39 pm

          Oh yeah, I thought you meant only at the landing of the Tilikum bridge (i.e. what’s visible in that photo). Yeah, the two crossings under the MAX viaduct need dedicated bicycle signals. However, I have no complaint about the number of signals themselves, as they make it safer to cross busy streets and the MAX tracks. The path under the MAX viaduct and along Harbor Drive are really nice.

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          • Bill Clinton's Ghost January 27, 2017 at 2:59 pm

            Safter? Confusing design that motorists and cyclists don’t follow, sometimes willfully sometimes ignorantly.

            Give me an intuitive road any day, everyone does what everyone else is expecting, and things function safely.

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            • SE Rider January 28, 2017 at 3:02 pm

              Yes, I’m really surprised no one has been hit by a training running the lights yet.

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    • SE Rider January 28, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Both ends of the new bridge are just engineers run amuck. Just way too over-designed. So many signals, so many paths, so much paint and railings.

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  • Jim Lee January 27, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Note that it is free to ride the Tram down, but costs to ride it up. So you should grind uphill and ride the cabin down. The Saint Mary’s High School cross-country team figured out such a ploy out long ago.

    Voice from another era: While mayor, Sam Adams volunteered to be “rescued” from an emergency simulation on the Tram by the Fire Bureau. The cabin operator let down a line, a fireman with a bosun’s chair shimmied up, rigged Mayor Sam into the chair, and lowered him to the ground.

    Dude Sam has a lot more guts than I!

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  • Stephan January 27, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    OHSU has already the modal share that city officials aspire to have (at least if we take their various plans and visions seriously). There is a clear lesson here: create the infrastructure that favors public transit and bicycling over cars and you will get a high share of people commuting by bike and public transit. This includes ample parking space for bikes at the tram station, but crucially, it also includes limited and (relatively) expensive car parking space both at the SW waterfront and up on the Marquam campus.

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    • Kyle Banerjee January 27, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      What’s really going on is that there’s an 8 year waiting list for a parking permit (hunting permit, not dedicated) and the roads are hopelessly choked. They couldn’t handle more cars even if they wanted to.

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      • Stephan January 27, 2017 at 6:49 pm

        Same thing — making parking difficult and expensive. You can park in one of the parking spots at the SW waterfront and take the tram up if you do not have a parking permit. There is plenty of parking space but it costs money.

        Another perspective is that this mix is really needed to lift car-alternative modes beyond niche existence in Portland. Nice bike infrastructure alone won’t cut it. You would need to make using a car in the city an expensive hassle. And you need to create a public infrastructur that, like the airal tram, is faster than using a car and that work well with other non-car modes.

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  • Adam January 27, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Another unanticipated opportunity the tram created… the ‘4T Trail’. I visited this summer and walked/ hiked this route. It includes (from Pioneer Courthouse Square) – Train to the Zoo, Trail to OHSU (it’s signed but have a map along), Tram to riverfront, and Trolley (streetcar) back downtown. An enjoyable and inexpensive afternoon!
    https://4ttrail.wordpress.com/

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  • Peter January 27, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Take a look at the first photo and all of the bikes parked in front of the Go By Bike valet. Now go down to the tram an see how much non-valet bike parking they have. OHSU and Go By Bike have been slowly reducing the number of non-valet spots over the last year or two. Most of the bike racks are sitting in a pile behind their new office. Does anyone know why OHSU is reducing bike parking for people who don’t want to use the valet?

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    • rainbike January 27, 2017 at 10:08 pm

      Great question. I have noticed this too. There has been a significant expansion of the valet area in the past few weeks. I prefer the do-it-yourself mode, even if it means I have to be deliberate about removing all of my lights.

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    • Kyle Banerjee January 28, 2017 at 8:07 am

      No idea, but I’d guess that valet storage is more space efficient.

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      • SE Rider January 28, 2017 at 2:58 pm

        Until they get covered parking I’m not interested in using it. Plus I ride down from the hill (after taking the tram up) since I’m often only there for an hour and going somewhere else (besides the South Waterfront) after. Using the valet would add another 10 minutes to my return trip.

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        • Kyle Banerjee January 30, 2017 at 10:26 am

          It adds more than that. You have to walk through Kohler Pavilion, wait for the tram, wait for it to load, actually ride the thing, wait to unload, go to the valet, and then spend another couple minutes getting away (probably getting caught by a light).

          It is faster to pedal *up* the hill than it is to take the tram (though that requires a vigorous pace). Going downhill is a total blowout comparatively speaking.

          The tram looks cool, but it’s basically an elevator.

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          • Adam
            Adam January 30, 2017 at 10:44 am

            Hah. No way in hell I can beat the tram up the hill. I also seriously doubt I can get back down in under ten minutes.

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            • Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 30, 2017 at 5:27 pm

              Are we taking bets, Adam in tram and Kyle on bike?

              I’d be willing to let Kyle choose the timing so the tram has just left the station, which should be the maximum delay. Start at the tram/bike valet, but what endpoint? VA? Mackenzie Hall?

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          • Kyle Banerjee January 30, 2017 at 2:06 pm

            Our offices are right by the tram and my colleagues and I frequently need to go down the hill. I always take my bike — they know they don’t have a chance of getting there before me. Granted that beating them going uphill is much less of a gimee even if it’s surprisingly fast.

            You can walk from the bottom terminal to the top in about 25 minutes — I know this because I used to walk with a 65 year old woman at lunchtime. I don’t have too much sympathy for able bodied people complaining about being stuck on the hill forever when the weather is bad. There are a lot of ways up/down, and only driving is hopeless. Having said that, I did have to walk my bike down in one of the snowstorms. Still wasn’t that big a deal.

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            • Adam
              Adam January 30, 2017 at 4:43 pm

              lol you have got to be joking. The tram takes 3 minutes to get to the top of the hill — a gain of 500 feet at 22 mph. I know some roadies think highly of their bike handling abilities, but that’s simply superhuman.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 31, 2017 at 10:07 am

                You don’t need to go anywhere near that fast to beat the tram. People think of tram transit in terms of the time it spends in motion, but that’s the shortest part of it. If you just missed watched a tram leave, realistically, you’re looking at around 15 minutes total.

                The reason cycling is faster is that the tram has to unload, load, go to the top, unload again, and then you have to make it through the building — which takes another couple minutes if you’re one of the later ones to disembark. In addition, unless you started at the CH2 building, the tram will be a bit out of the way, the exact amount depending on your start and end points.

                If you just Google Map it and tell it you’re cycling, it estimates 25 minutes. I consistently take less than half the time Google predicts for cycling for the simple reason that I think their time predictions are for normal people riding hybrids. My bikes are much lighter and faster than what most people have, and I’m a lifelong athlete who has always been enjoyed endurance events, so my pace is respectable even if I’m only a ghost of my former self. If you look at some Strava segments for the area, you’ll see how little time it takes many people to climb the hill.

                It really isn’t as hard as it sounds, and if you ride this area, you’ll know that there are a number of people that move up the hill quite quickly.

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              • Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 31, 2017 at 1:25 pm

                Great. Can you meet on a Saturday or only on a weekday?

                I have $20 against the bike (e.g., for the tram). I gave my conditions in another comment.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 31, 2017 at 3:23 pm

                I can do either, and the wager is reasonable as is are the suggested terms. Weekdays are better for me, but I can also do many Saturdays.

                This particular Saturday is not looking great, but I think this is worth doing. As an observation, one difference between Saturdays and weekdays is that a lot fewer people are on the tram. This will noticeably affect load/unload times as well as the amount of time it takes to walk through Kohler.

                Again, the reason riding up is faster is not because the tram is slow, but because there is a lot of overhead associated with using the tram. The more crowded it gets, the worse this effect is.

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              • q January 31, 2017 at 5:03 pm

                “…there is a lot of overhead associated with using the tram”.

                True of all trams.

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              • Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 31, 2017 at 8:54 pm

                heh, the ‘overhead’ pun.

                Weekday sounds wiser for standard traffic volumes (of tram and roads). Lunchtime? Morning?

                Ideally we want Adam to be the ceremonial tram-rider but I don’t know his schedule.

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              • Kyle Banerjee February 1, 2017 at 5:55 am

                Lunchtime or morning would be perfect by my perspective. Either lunchtime or morning would work

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              • Kyle Banerjee February 1, 2017 at 10:14 am

                I think it would be fun for Adam to be the tram rider if he is available.

                To keep the test realistic, I’ll bring my steel workhorse equipped with rack and fenders — the same one I’ve been riding in the recent storms. If we do this in the morning, I’ll carry everything I take to work.

                Regardless of the outcome (which I expect to be close), I think this will show how practical human power is compared to what is unquestionably the best mechanized alternative on a route most people don’t even consider using human power on.

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              • John Landolfe February 1, 2017 at 10:35 am

                Footnote: If a Tram rider is tracking travel time, I recommending asking the Tram operator what speed they’re traveling at. They tend to run more slowly on weekends to accommodate tourists and families and more quickly during the week to accommodate commuters.

                Their average time would be the weekday speed since it runs many more trips for many more riders for many more hours.

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          • SE Rider January 30, 2017 at 2:11 pm

            A lot of that depends where you you’re coming from and going to. If I’m crossing the river at the new bridge, it’s really slow to get through downtown and THEN get up the hill. The tram is a lot faster in that situation, and means I’m a lot less sweaty when I arrive.

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            • q January 30, 2017 at 6:31 pm

              Yes, exactly. Obviously, it’s unfair to compare the actual tram ride time to a bike trip, unless you factor in wait time. But that’s still not accurate, unless you happen to be traveling from exactly one end of the tram line to the other.

              To be fair, you have to count walking from your starting building or location, waiting for the tram, traveling, then walking to your destination. In contrast, a bike may take you almost exactly from your start to finish, with no walking or wait time.

              It’s something public agencies seem to fail to do when pushing for expensive streetcar or light rail lines, versus other modes, even buses. The rail options win when you compare travel time from stop A to stop B. But when you factor in wait times, less likelihood that they’ll have a stop near your starting or ending point than a bus, walking and waiting times, etc. their performance looks much worse.

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    • John Landolfe January 30, 2017 at 8:57 am

      The valet parking has increased as demand has increased (an average of 16% annually for five years). To accommodate all three needs (valet, self-parking, and indoor parking), the valet has expanded, 3 indoor cages are available below ground and another at the CLSB building up the street.

      Self-parking has been added:
      –adjacent in the Gantry area
      –in the block directly southeast of the Tram
      –1 block north at 3030 Moody
      –in the Gibbs/Hooley Bridge Plaza

      The racks behind Go By Bike will be placed in better alignment this week. They were moved due to the new shop installation, then the constant storms followed by a fence installation at the end of last week has delayed getting them straightened out.

      That might be more details than you need but hope that helps fill you in. The area is in constant flux due to constant growth.

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  • q January 27, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    I’m glad the tram was built, but wonder if it would have been if the cost had been estimated accurately upfront. As I recall, the estimate that the decision to proceed was based on was something like $10 million.

    And I DO hear the $57 million price tag mentioned occasionally–not in reference to the tram itself, but as an example/warning that comes up in discussion of other projects, because it was such a dramatic increase. The equivalent would be if the Sellwood Bridge had ended up costing $1 billion.

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  • John Lascurettes January 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I think this was my favorite part of that article:

    Johnson from Go By Bike sees the bikes — and what he calls their “integration into the tram experience” — as a powerful force that transcends getting from A-to-B. “You have tourists in the Tram who look down and say, ‘What is going on down there? What’s the deal with all those bikes?’ Their first thought is never that all these people rode to work.”

    More of this happening please!

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  • mark smith January 30, 2017 at 8:51 am

    I am not sure why it’s a mystery to the PBOT rep. Looking at from an economic perspective, one can avoid all sorts of costs by riding to the tram. Money decisions typically trump all other decisions.

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  • Brett February 26, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    I commuted on the tram for 4.5 years as an RN at OHSU. Greatest commute ever, best when it was stormy and it was swinging. The operators were always really chill/nice people. I miss you Oregon, I’m a reverse transplant OR to CA.

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