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City of Portland set to lower bike commute mode share target

Posted by on July 21st, 2017 at 2:52 pm

How the pie is sliced now and our goals for 2035. A slide from PBOT’s presentation to the Planning Commission in June.

For the past eight years one of the strongest organizing principles for Portland-area bike advocates has been the stated goal of having 25 percent of commute trips made by bike by the year 2030.

Now, in what appears to be a sign of backpedaling, the City of Portland wants to decrease the bike commute mode share target to just 15 percent — a 10 percent reduction.

The change comes as the City redefines several “system performance measures” in stage three of its Transportation System Plan update process.

“Even in 2035 there are too few jobs too far from housing to get as far as we would ideally like to go.”
— Peter Hurley, PBOT

As word about this change leaked to the public, many people were perplexed and concerned. With a current bike commute mode share of 7 percent (according to 2015 U.S. Census figures), it’s no mystery that getting to 25 percent in just 13 years would not be easy; but that’s what goals are for right?

Why are they doing this? We’ve heard several rationales.

Asked for official comment, PBOT Communications Director John Brady said that the source of the 25 percent figure was the Climate Action Plan, whose drafters took the number from the Bike Plan. But, he says, the Bike Plan’s 25 percent number was actually for all trips, not just work commute trips. (According to PBOT, work commutes make up just 12 percent of all trips.)

Brady added both of the targets — commute and all trips — were “aspirational”. “They were not based on an evaluation of whether land-uses, investments, and policies would support those targets.” Now that PBOT has done more analysis of where people live and work, their modeling shows it will be all but impossible to reach 25 percent bike commute mode share by 2035 given current trends.

“When you conduct an analysis of trip distances from home to work, the proposed land uses, aggressive new bicycle facility investments and policies, then it becomes clear that they may support a doubling of bike commute mode share to 15 percent,” Brady says, “but are not sufficient to support a 25 percent bicycle commute mode split by 2035.”

In a presentation on June 13th to the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, PBOT Senior Planner Peter Hurley explained what he referred to as a “reset” — not a downgrade — of the bike commute goal. “Based on our charts [of distance from work and likelihood to bike], even in 2035 there are too few jobs too far from housing to get as far as we would ideally like to go [in terms of bike commute mode share],” he said. Hurley added that regional travel demand models also, “Showed unfortunately pretty low bike mode shares in 2035.” (Although he cautioned the current modeling tool isn’t a reliable way to predict mode share.)

Advertise with BikePortland.

Chart from PBOT presentation showing drop in bike ridership as commute distance increases.

When questioned about his confidence in the analysis by Planning Commmissioner Chris Smith, Hurley said the trip distance numbers made it clear to him a decrease was necessary. “I think we can make some progress through the investments in bike network connectivity,” he said, “I think we can actually move the numbers significantly… But when we looked at all the relatively small bike projects and how much they’d contribute… the ones that don’t take a lane or that don’t take any parking… those make major changes in improving bike access; but not necessarily the longer trips.”

“With an aggressive investment strategy and a congestion measure that focuses on moving people, the doubling of bike mode share in the next 20 years is in the realm of possibility,” Hurley added. “But quadrupling it? Unless we have some policies that aren’t currently on the table that’s probably not a possibility.”

For context, the drive alone commute mode share now is about 58 percent and PBOT’s 2035 target is 30 percent. To help reach that goal, the plan is to double biking to work from 7 percent to 15, and increase transit commutes from 13 to 25.

Another component that has influenced the City’s mode share thinking is that for the first time (as per a recommendation from the Planning Commission), the City of Portland is including “Work at home” as a stated goal. They’ve proposed a work at home target of 10 percent.

For PBOT, this shift is in line with their efforts to make performance targets “realistic and achievable” says Brady. “To do that, we link these targets with better data and more rigorous evaluation of the data, including more evaluation of the projected performance of future transportation investments and policy changes.”

PBOT is due to bring the TSP updates back in front of the Planning Commission on September 26th.

Today is the last day to comment on this stage of the TSP update. If you want to share your opinion about this “reset” of the bike commute mode share number, you can email comments to TSP3@portlandoregon.gov.

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

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184 Comments
  • Cory P July 21, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    What about skateboard commuting? Can’t they even give us a 1% target? ( I think we’ve already met it )

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    • rick July 21, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Recently and upcoming repaved roads might help ?

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  • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    “the source of the 25 percent figure was the Climate Action Plan”

    “their modeling shows it will be all but impossible to reach 25 percent bike commute mode share by 2035 given current trends.”

    This is the smoking gun. Extrapolating the past or even the present into the future is not a useful approach when it comes to something so cataclysmic as climate change. Climate change is nonlinear.

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    • GlowBoy July 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      Good point. If last week’s New Yorker piece on the probability of severe climate change effects is right, we may see start seeing catastrophic consequences (major sea level rise, uninhabitable tropical zones, toxic sulfide gas discharges from the ocean, tropical diseases run rampant, etc.) well before 2035.

      On the other hand, as you point out we’re still talking about probabilities, not certainties. We could end up on the low end of the projections, or (as some are predicting) the sunspot cycle could temporarily suppress the effects of climate change. It’s possible (not saying probable) that we’ll get a reprieve, and that people still won’t feel the urgency by 2035.

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      • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 3:28 pm

        “We could end up on the low end of the projections…”

        Sure. And most of us are probably consciously or unconsciously banking on some version of this, but this is no way to make policy; this is wishful thinking.

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        • GlowBoy July 21, 2017 at 7:17 pm

          Sure. Of course, if we end up on the high end, most people won’t have jobs to commute to.

          Then again, the more likely probability in the middle of the bell curve is still pretty bad, and should be motivation enough to target drive-alone mode share to 30% or less by 2035.

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        • Kyle Banerjee July 21, 2017 at 9:55 pm

          So the climate projections are real, but cycling projections that don’t reflect wishful thinking are not?

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          • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 10:01 pm

            Several different things going on here.

            (1) every reputable climate prediction from the past few decades has turned out to be, well, optimistic. Change is happening faster and consequences are/are expected to turn out to be more severe than previously assumed.

            (2) cycling projections that are generated by looking in the rearview mirror cannot take account of the kinds of disruptive change we are almost certainly steering toward. How this modeling error will play out is unclear, but I think it reasonable to assume that things won’t turn out well for the auto-dependent. Ergo it seems reasonable to anticipate a turn to bikes occurring in a nonlinear fashion.

            Those are some of my thoughts. What about yours?

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            • Kyle Banerjee July 25, 2017 at 12:23 am

              Calling an expectation that there will be a huge shift towards cycling wishful thinking would be putting it mildly.

              Little will change until cars make a lot less sense for people than they do now. I spent the weekend in Buffalo NY. Cycling infrastructure is surprisingly good there and conditions are excellent. I literally saw no cyclists, even if I’m sure there are a few someplace.

              Outside a small group, people don’t even like driving short distances in inclement weather and they lack the fitness or even desire to ride. For all the rideable area we have in the PDX area, relatively few people ride, and that tiny number plummets whenever conditions aren’t excellent.

              If gas gets too expensive, something will change. Bikes will probably pick up a little more action then, but I wouldn’t count on a tectonic shift in that specific direction. Expect more efficient mechanized ways of getting around.

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              • 9watts July 25, 2017 at 7:00 am

                “If gas gets too expensive, something will change. Bikes will probably pick up a little more action then, but I wouldn’t count on a tectonic shift in that specific direction.”

                You seem to be operating on the assumption that past fluctuations in gas prices are a good guide to how much they might spike in the future. This is like that dufus at PBOT who went on record (here) saying that a gas tax hike wouldn’t raise very much money, without specifying what kind of a tax increase he had in mind.* This kind of conversation is needlessly obtuse. Let’s clarify our terms instead.

                Exponential growth on a finite planet will come up against limits sooner or later. And there is no reason to think that the arrival of those limits will be experienced as a smooth transition, and the chief reason is on display here in the bikeportland comments every day: we prefer to be in denial about the tenuousness of the arrangements** on which we rely, that make our lifestyles possible.

                * https://bikeportland.org/2014/04/18/businesses-and-bikeways-city-reveals-more-details-on-street-fee-104800#comment-4725165

                ** cheap gas around the corner, climate stability

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      • bikeninja July 22, 2017 at 9:50 am

        According to many climate scientists we may now be entering a period of great climate nonlinearity with many positive feedback loops kicking in. An ice free arctic will greatly increase ocean warming, then warming tundra will trigger great methane burps etc. We are also seeing the great glaciers of Greenland be undercut with warm water from ocean currents and deep meltwater rivers in ways that were not expected. By 2035 we could be deep in to catastrophic climate change and anyone promoting personal automobile transportation will be about as popular as Ebola.

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  • Barry Cochran July 21, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Of course, if the earthquake hits before 2035 and breaks all the roads and bridges, that will make a significant dent in the numbers commuting by car.

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    • Scott H July 24, 2017 at 11:34 am

      That will make a significant dent in the numbers commuting.

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      • Dan A July 24, 2017 at 12:43 pm

        If nothing else, it will shake things up.

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  • Doug Klotz July 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    So, having failed to upzone enough land near job centers to even allow the close-by housing to be built, due to the political pressure of those single-family-homeowner “likely voters”, the city must now lower the goals for getting people to bike to work. The demand is obviously there for large amounts of housing within 2-3 miles of the Central City, for instance, the largest job concentration.

    But the city failed to do any significant upzonings of single family to multifamily (or Mixed Use, where much multifamily is being built), or multifamily to higher density multifamily, in this area, so, many of those who want to live close-in and bike or take transit, won’t be able to find smaller and/or inexpensive residential units available there. This unsatisfied demand has driven the prices up in these bike-accessible inner areas, so that being able to bike to work is a luxury that many can’t afford. And this is on top of the failure to broadly re-allocate auto lanes to bike lanes and to transit-only lanes, which could also help increase non-auto mode share.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 21, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      Upzoning areas close to downtown doesn’t mean affordable housing will be built there. The Pearl is an upzoned area close to downtown; how’s that working out?

      The city needs to develop job centers that are not downtown. Lloyd is one, Gateway is another, Milwaukee is possibly a third. Those areas are all connected to each other and to downtown by MAX and for the most part by freeways. Then all that “close-to-job” housing demand pressure wouldn’t all be concentrated on a single small area. You’d see East Portland and other not (currently) close-in areas getting investment and attention, both public and private. Housing there has a chance of being affordable, because the starting land values are much lower than in close-in areas. More walkable, rideable, vibrant retail and commercial areas would develop, 82nd would finally become a multimodal street, 70th and 102nd would be the new cool, affordable close-in areas, and people living in Gresham would have an easy bike commute to the Gateway job center.

      High housing demand concentrated on a small area produces very high land values and expensive housing, no matter what you do. Upzoning won’t change that, not enough to help most people: it will just shift units between different tiers of “expensive”. Subsidies for affordable housing can’t change that, not enough to help most people: our quarter-billion dollar affordable housing bond is expected to produce less than 2,000 affordable units.

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      • Alex Reedin July 21, 2017 at 5:21 pm

        “High housing demand concentrated on a small area produces very high land values and expensive housing, no matter what you do. ”

        Not true; public housing in Singapore has been very effective at building housing affordable to the masses (80% of Singaporeans) in a city whose density dwarfs Portland’s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_housing_in_Singapore

        Also – multi-centric development makes transit less efficient for the trip-to-work. Also – Portland’s been putatively trying for decades to develop Gateway and it’s still… really low-density. Also – we have a TON of land zoned for single-family only within 3-4 miles of downtown; we haven’t even tried upzoning that land in order to provide sufficient multifamily units to drive down prices to what’s affordable to middle-class Portlanders.

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        • John Liu
          John Liu July 22, 2017 at 7:25 am

          The affordable Singapore housing you reference is publicly built and owned.

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          • Alex Reedin July 22, 2017 at 8:18 am

            Yup… Seems like a great idea to me.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty July 22, 2017 at 8:41 am

              America does not have a great record with publicly owned housing, sadly. It’s more s problem with implementation than the basic concept.

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            • John Liu
              John Liu July 22, 2017 at 10:58 pm

              And not gonna happen. That kind of public money isn’t there.

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              • Buzz July 23, 2017 at 10:53 am

                Sure it is. All we have to do is reallocate our military budget.

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              • Alan 1.0 July 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm

                What? Not happy with your personal $40 stake in the USS Ford? How ’bout if you could deduct from it your $15 bikaholic tax?

                [snarcasm at the world at large, sympathy with you, Buzz]

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      • rachel b July 21, 2017 at 7:41 pm
      • Adam
        Adam July 21, 2017 at 9:07 pm

        The Pearl is an upzoned area close to downtown; how’s that working out?

        Quite well, actually. The Pearl has the highest percentage of affordable housing in the city.

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      • maccoinnich July 21, 2017 at 10:39 pm

        The Pearl has well over a thousand units of regulated affordable housing, with more under construction. Throwing your question on its head: how much affordable housing is there in exclusively low density neighborhoods such as Laurelhurst or Ladds Addition?

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      • Michael Andersen July 22, 2017 at 6:18 am

        Good argument here for focusing all upzones on unaffordable, exclusively zoned areas like Laurelhurst, Irvington, Eastmoreland and Multnomah. No harm, no foul.

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    • wsbob July 23, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      “…upzone enough land near job centers to even allow the close-by housing to be built, …” doug klotz

      The word ‘upzone’ sounds like it means to knock down long standing, quality single and two floor single family dwellings, and low height older apt buildings, to be replaced by towers. For Portland, in what job centers? Downtown’s office buildings? NE Portland’s Emanuel Hospital and Addidas? What percent of people working in Portland, really want to live in the kind of neighborhood you’re suggesting, I wonder. If they can help it, probably not a great percent. If there were hundreds and thousands of available low cost, definitely below market rate, and at affordable or low income rate tower units in the central city, maybe they’d be interested. More likely, I’d bet they seek to avoid tower living and even apartment living if they possibly can.

      1000 units of low income housing in the Pearl? That’s nothing, set against aspirations of providing housing for people locally, so maybe they’ll start riding a bike, or walking to work.

      West of Portland, in Washington County, around the big hi-tech centers, Orenco, Quatama, Nike and other stations along the light rail, there are no tower residences. Increasingly, there are multiple family low height apt and condo buildings, four and five stories high. Are these type residences resulting in a great percent of the people getting jobs nearby, and choosing to bike and walk to their jobs? Maybe…if so, I’d sure like to know if the percentage has risen to more than eight or fifteen percent mode share of all road users. If it’s happening, seems like that would be big news.

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    • Fred July 24, 2017 at 7:54 am

      You can’t just “upzone” single-family properties and expect a rapid transformation in neighborhoods. People buy single-family houses b/c they want the type of lifestyle afforded by a single-family home – their resistance to upzoning is always going to slow down that process. If you’re going to transform Portland neighborhoods to increase density, that process is going to take a long time. I’m much more interested in getting more people who live in single-family neighborhoods onto bikes. Why aren’t they biking now? – a big factor is the lack of dedicated bikeways. Most non-cyclists are afraid of getting killed by cars, so until you remove that fear, people are gonna drive.

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      • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 8:02 am

        “Why aren’t they biking now? – a big factor is the lack of dedicated bikeways. Most non-cyclists are afraid of getting killed by cars, so until you remove that fear, people are gonna drive.”

        You may be right, or it may be considerably more complicated than that.

        You’ve lined up a whole lot of nested assumptions. I could submit an entirely different list:
        Most non-cyclists have no experience cycling for transport, are habituated to rely on the automobile for basically all of their transportation needs, so until you dramatically increase the cost and/or decrease the convenience of driving, people are gonna drive.

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      • Alex Reedin July 24, 2017 at 9:08 am

        Biking is low on the list of reasons I want to upzone wealthy, white, close-in single-family areas. Affordability, reducing displacement through targeted policies like inclusionary zoning with occupancy prioritized to current/former n’hood residents, allowing a lifestyle where people buy/own less stuff (carbon), allowing people to live in the Portland metro area where they make more money than they would with the same skills in a lot of the country (at least, the portions that have more-affordable housing currently) and thus have a better life (materially speaking, which only has a happiness impact up to an income of $XX,XXX), and avoiding sprawl pressure are all probably ahead of biking IMO. I agree it’s a big hill to climb, but so are high-quality bikeways honestly.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm

          Upzoning won’t magically make inner Portland affordable and diverse. Probably the opposite, as the remaining housing that is affordable gets redeveloped into something a bit more posh. Upzoning decreases diversity, unless you claim more wealthy white people living in inner NE has increased racial and economic diversity there (which, arguably, it has).

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          • Alex Reedin July 24, 2017 at 8:18 pm

            Wait… Building tons of 20-50 unit apartments with 2-10 affordable units where one $400,000-$800,000 single-family home stood won’t increase the economic and racial diversity of lily-white inner Portland? I beg to differ.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty July 25, 2017 at 1:18 am

              I’m sure developers would never build in such a way as to dodge the affordable housing minimums, especially when building lot-by-lot.

              Did it work in N/NE Portland?

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              • Alex Reedin July 25, 2017 at 9:50 am

                Well, most of N/NE Portland’s gentrification and push-out of Black families was already complete simply by the changing of tenants/owners of existing, mostly single-family residences by the time multifamily construction began. So you can’t really finger redevelopment for THAT example of displacement. And, there wasn’t inclusionary zoning in place when the redevelopment that has occurred in N/NE Portland happened. And yes, the current ordinance is sadly easy to bypass by building 19 units and needs to be changed.

                But I forgot, you don’t really research facts if you can twist reality to match your preconceived notion about the best policy. So I’m going back to not responding to your comments.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 26, 2017 at 1:31 am

                We do appear to agree that the market, will not, without a mandate, build affordable housing, and that developers will find ways to avoid the mandate where they can.

                I don’t see how you can conclude that opening Ladd’s Addition to apartment development will generate affordable housing. It just doesn’t make sense. How many developers are going to build 20+ units on a 50×100 lot? Unless you think they will somehow find a block of neighbors willing to sell simultaneously at 800K apiece so they can aggregate the very expensive land in order to build a bigger building that will be subject to the affordable housing minimums the developers so badly want to avoid?

                I think the only way we’re going to get any meaningful affordable housing built in Portland near the city center (at least until our current real estate bubble bursts) is to build public housing. The best we can do, short of that, is slow down the rate of loss.

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              • Alan 1.0 July 26, 2017 at 1:40 pm

                Hello, Kitty
                I think the only way we’re going to get any meaningful affordable housing built in Portland near the city center (at least until our current real estate bubble bursts) is to build public housing. The best we can do, short of that, is slow down the rate of loss.

                Build more centers.

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  • Alex Reedin July 21, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    OK, my main responses to this are:
    A) The 25% by 2030 goal assumed that the infrastructure in 2030 Bike Plan would be complete by then, which we are not even close to on track to do as far as I can tell. Why is all the blame for the “reset” put on the locations and the modeling and not the de-funding of active transportation? Why can’t we at least be honest with ourselves about our political history?
    B) What about e-bikes? I know for myself that the effect of an e-bike on the distance I’m willing to go on a bike has been transformative. E-bikes seem like a bona fide trend at this point. Are they at all accounted for in the modeling? I’m guessing they’re not.

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  • Adam
    Adam July 21, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    First the bike tax and now this. Portland is falling and falling hard. The rest of the country is paying attention and Portland will soon lose its status as the leader of cycling for transportation. Of course, our politicians and advocacy organizations (you know the one I mean) will carry on like nothing has happened. If Portland actually cared about their goals and not just maintaining their image, they’d pick up the pace with project build-outs. Our glacial pace is killing us. It’s taking over three years just to get a protected bike lane on Naito that gets ripped out every September. Who else does this? Other cities build cycling infra and then just leave it. Nice words alone aren’t cutting it anymore.

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    • mran1984 July 21, 2017 at 11:17 pm

      That plastic bollard that can take you out, but has zero chance of stopping a car. The orange bike coming at you is operated by someone who is on their phone, or taking pictures. They have no idea where they are going. The four across pedestrian group waddling with no idea that others may be moving around them, ugh. Three miles is not even riding…take the bus.

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      • Chris I July 22, 2017 at 12:39 pm

        You are hardcore.

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  • BradWagon July 21, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    That second chart shows 60% of not “Active Transportation” trips to work are less than 10 miles. 2014 Census showed entire Metro area has average commute distance of 7 miles and 25 minutes. (Funny, my old bike commute was 7 miles and took me right at 25 minutes.)

    Said it before and I’ll say it again. The issue is not distance, its lack of safe efficient routes and an unwillingness due to, at its root, the general low cost and ease of driving.

    10 miles is of relatively flat riding is easily done within an hour, especially if more direct, traffic free routes existed. The above graphs and basic cycling experience refutes this idea that jobs are too far away. They aren’t, but the route to those jobs are completely inadequate to support cycling and the cost of driving is way to low to push people towards alternatives.

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    • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      “The issue is not distance, its lack of safe efficient routes and an unwillingness due to, at its root, the general low cost and ease of driving.”

      Don’t forget habituation.

      I don’t think it is cost or safety or infrastructure but the simple fact that most people don’t think of biking-for-transport as for them, haven’t tried it, don’t know many well who do, and consequently have no idea how to start. Besides they already have a car, and with most of the costs of that sunk, amortizing these by choosing to drive the marginal trip makes a certain amount of sense.

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      • BradWagon July 21, 2017 at 3:47 pm

        Totally agree, just couldn’t think of a way to say this that wasn’t essentially “they are being lazy, selfish and unimaginative about ways to reprioritize things in life”.

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        • Fred July 24, 2017 at 12:41 pm

          Anyone been to the mall lately? 70% of US population is overweight or obese. It’s gonna take a major cultural shift to get them onto bikes. 15% is half of the non-overweight population.

          Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010 2, 3

          More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
          More than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese.
          More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity.
          About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
          More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese.

          https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity

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          • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

            I see fat people biking all the time.

            If memory serves me there was an article (recent Monday Roundup?) here that encouraged fat people to do their best to ignore people who ridicule their biking.

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          • BradWagon July 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm

            This is based on BMI right? I ran 16 minute 5ks and averaged 18mph on 2-3hr road rides when I was technically overweight (6-2, 200). Total BS that “overweight” people can’t accomplish even mild physical activity. And guess what, I started riding by bike every day and cut out a substantial amount of my carbs and am no longer “overweight”. I ride between 100-200 miles a week of commuting and training and still have yet to dip under 180 which puts me on the heavy end of the “Normal” weight range for my height of 144-194.

            Don’t use some ridiculous metric that has very little correlation to physical fitness as an argument for why people can’t partake in the most energy efficient form of human transportation ever created. I can count on 1 hand the number of people in my 100+ person office that legitimately couldn’t ride a bike 5-10 miles due to physical fitness reasons. Other people don’t drive because ultimately they think driving is better for some reason or another. Let’s start addressing those reasons.

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      • Reality July 24, 2017 at 9:24 am

        Distance and proximity absolutely is a major factor, especially for families. When multiple trips must be made throughout the day, sometimes with passengers, cargo, etc the ability to get places under different circumstances is a major factor for choosing a mode. The more complex and non-routine one’s travel requirements are also have significant implications for being able to bike as a primary mode.

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        • BradWagon July 24, 2017 at 10:59 am

          Sounds like what you describe as “circumstances” and “travel requirements” are actually the main factors. You didn’t seem to detail why the distance on it’s own is a problem… just that moving families and poorly planned trips during the day are difficult. To which I would say, of course, so lets improve things allowing for easier trips of all kinds.

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        • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm

          “Distance and proximity absolutely is a major factor, especially for families.”

          Maybe, or maybe not. We can imagine what sort of obstacles might exist all we want, but unless and until we interview people of all walks of life who do what you’re saying is difficult or impossible we won’t actually know. In our car-drenched society, concluding from those who aren’t what their reasons are is simply not a useful approach, if we are interested in understanding how to gain on this problem.

          “When multiple trips must be made throughout the day, sometimes with passengers, cargo, etc the ability to get places under different circumstances is a major factor for choosing a mode.”

          No. I submit that the mode choice predates all of these minutiae, however interesting they are.

          “The more complex and non-routine one’s travel requirements are also have significant implications for being able to bike as a primary mode.”

          A reasonable sounding assumption, except that there are readers of bikeportland who bike commute unbelievable distances and haul unimagined loads with their bike trailers. More bulky and further than people who habitually get into their cars would consider, or be able to, by car.

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    • Beeblebrox July 21, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      You’re saying that an hour bike commute is acceptable? Not even close. The standard metric for a desirable non-auto commute is 30 minutes. Anything more than that, and people will drive if they have the means to do so.

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      • BradWagon July 21, 2017 at 11:51 pm

        That’s interesting, I have the means and I don’t. In fact when people ask how far I ride and I tell them it takes me about 45 minutes just about every single person says “oh that’s not too bad”. If 30 minutes was the “metric” you’d think people would react differently. But maybe they just don’t quite comprehend 1.5 hours on a bike everyday…

        I know not everyone would find it acceptable across the board… just likely doable for quite a few people. I bet given some encouragement 25% of people in each of those distance groupings would also find it doable. Heck I even know of other people besides me that belong to that >10 group.

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    • Bdog July 22, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Doubling the percentage of bike commuters (already the nation’s best) is an aggressive & realistic goal. Regardless of the infrastructure, vast numbers of people will not commute 10 miles by bike. Makes more sense to expend resources on public transit, encouraging telecommuting & (hopefully) congestion pricing to reduce solo car trips.

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      • Adam
        Adam July 22, 2017 at 10:14 am

        I’m not buying it. If the city didn’t make any effort to get to 25%, what makes you think they will do anything to get to 15%?

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        • Bdog July 22, 2017 at 12:34 pm

          If you don’t think the city is making “any effort” to increase the percent of bike commuters than I don’t think you’re paying attention.

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      • 9watts July 22, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        “Regardless of the infrastructure, vast numbers of people will not commute 10 miles by bike.”

        There’s that preferences thing again. When it comes to climate change we’re not talking about preferences but constraints. It makes no sense to speculate what people will settle for if you realize that the premise of catastrophic climate change means that all bets are off/we’ll likely be more than happy to make do.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 22, 2017 at 10:52 pm

          In the world you describe, Powell will be a 4 lane bike boulevard. Why are we wasting our money building bike facilities today?

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          • 9watts July 23, 2017 at 6:33 am

            There is plenty of truth in that. The crux here isn’t the infrastructure, but the human toll, the anguish of those who have not been prepared to switch how they get around. We are sleepwalking into a disaster, but we could easily start preparing now. I’ve long lamented what to me seems like PBOT’s abject failure to include the possibility of a dramatic decline in the viability of the SOV in all their plans.

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      • BradWagon July 24, 2017 at 8:42 am

        Good thing we don’t need a vast number of people to commute 10 miles by bike then, just a significant amount of those commuting less than 10 and a reasonable number of people going more than 10.

        Still though, I disagree, given the right infrastructure and incentives vast numbers of people are fully capable of commuting 10 miles by bike. If they can spend 30-45 minutes in a car they can spend 45-60 minutes on a bike with a little adjustment to lifestyle.

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        • Bdog July 24, 2017 at 9:31 am

          I just think you’re vastly over-estimating the willingness and ability of an obese society to make MAJOR changes to their lifestyle without significantly restructuring our entire transportation system. It goes way beyond PBOT’s ability to control and would take a huge commitment at the national level that would undoubtedly be extremely unpopular politically (e.g., vast increase in gas tax, higher car registration and other fees, congestion pricing, increased tolls, etc etc).

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          • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 9:33 am

            With constraints you need none of that long list of conditions or commitments. However if preferences are the relevant framing then sure.

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            • Bdog July 24, 2017 at 9:56 am

              Hypothetical “constraints” aren’t especially good at motivating people. In Oregon, even worst case climate change scenarios wouldn’t effect our transportation system much. The biggest factors here would be warmer temps and more extreme precipitation which doesn’t sound like an especially compelling reason for more people to get on their bikes.

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              • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 10:09 am

                “even worst case climate change scenarios wouldn’t effect our transportation system much.”

                We don’t appear to be talking about the same thing.
                Sea level rise, crop failures, new diseases, the inability to afford oil, asphalt, concrete, never mind harness the fossil-fuel drenched capital necessary to turn those materials into infrastructure or maintain it are just a few of the possible ways climate change can thwart a smooth continuation of what we’re used to.
                https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/7/11/15950966/climate-change-doom-journalism

                “aren’t especially good at motivating people.”

                This is an interesting question – the role of motivation. On the one hand it would be prudent to persuade people to do certain things to avert disaster; on the other—if we can come to agreement on where our priorities are inexorably taking us—then we will recognize that motivation is only a part of the equation: In the absence of motivation to change our reliance on fossil fuels, we’ll hit the wall sooner and with greater human costs.

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          • BradWagon July 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

            I am very aware how unwilling even fit people are to even making minor changes to their lifestyles, let alone the physically unhealthy or those actively against lifestyle changes. Did you not recall the goal was 25%… are we saying more than 75% of trips are being make by obese people that would need major lifestyle changes to ride a bike?

            The goal was not to change everyone, it was 25%, a number which is entirely possible given the correct incentive.

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      • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 8:53 am

        “vast numbers of people are fully capable of commuting 10 miles by bike.”

        I’d like to think so too. How much more useful and interesting would it be if we explored this hypothesis, catalogued the impediments, worked to overcome some of them, instead of reflexively agreeing with each other that it is impossible.

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  • pdxhobbitmom July 21, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    “the ones that don’t take a lane or that don’t take any parking”
    What is Hurley talking about? Are we not even considering projects that remove a car lane or a parking lane? Is that what he means by policies that aren’t “currently on the table”? Seems really lame to me.

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    • Chris M July 21, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      I wonder how they are expecting to halve the drove alone mode share without constricting car infrastructure at all.

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  • pruss2ny July 21, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    i hate myself for typing this, and you can too…but a reduction from a targeted 25% mode share to a 15% mode share is a 40% reduction in the target, not a “10% reduction”. It’s perhaps a 10 percentage point reduction…but it really undersells the dramatic cut that it represents to label it a 10% reduction from the original target.

    Not entirely trying to be tiresome…but a jump from current 7% mode share to a 10-11% mode share would truly be fantastic and would represent a stunning trajectory that would get way undersold as merely a 3-4% increase.

    clearly a drop from 25% target to 15% target may get passed as “a more rational target” but perhaps belies a dramatic cut in how important they view bike share in the future.

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    • BradWagon July 21, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      I would imagine he was referring to total trips with the 10% figure. But you make a good point, hits a little harder that way.

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    • John Lascurettes July 21, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      I made the same point below before reading all the comments.

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    • Scott Kocher July 22, 2017 at 11:00 pm

      How big a retreat? By my math, going from 7% to 15% instead of 7% to 25% isn’t backing off the goal by just 10% or even 40%. Seeking to gain of 8% instead of 18% is abandoning more than half (56%) of the mode share the city hopes to achieve.

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  • soren July 21, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    “With an aggressive investment strategy and a congestion measure that focuses on moving people, the doubling of bike mode share in the next 20 years is in the realm of possibility,” Hurley added. “But quadrupling it? Unless we have some policies that aren’t currently on the table that’s probably not a possibility”

    Policies?

    Portland *gutted* funding for active transportation immediately following passage of the 2035 bike plan. If Portland had allocated a fraction of the funding described in its bike plan over this period, I think it is likely cycling mode share in PDX would not have stagnated for 8 years.

    A case in point: Vancouver BC doubled its mode share in only 4 years while spending only modest sums (as opposed to cuts here in PDX).

    https://bikeportland.org/2016/05/06/vancouver-biking-doubles-passing-portland-with-downtown-protected-bike-lane-network-182716

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  • Andrew N July 21, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    I hate to keep beating the same dead horse, but our political leadership has completely failed us over the past decade. Maybe it’s just another reflection of the complete dysfunction at all levels of our flailing democracy but the moneyed, milquetoast west hills functionaries on council are doing us no favors. This mode share failure (sorry, “reset”) is just another nail in the coffin of what Portland could have been. At the very least, we need a new city councilor or two who are passionate about the interplay between active transportation and land use (and, of course, climate change) to sit next to Eudaly, with her single-minded, complimentary focus on affordable housing. I also hate to say this…but I think it’s time for a new PBOT director, someone willing to make some NOISE, although I wouldn’t be surprised if only a take-no-bullshit personality like Sadik-Khan could save us from our bullshit selves at this unfortunate juncture. Happy Friday!

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    • Eric Leifsdad July 21, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      We have plenty of affordable apartments out along Barbur and everybody who lives in them parks their car for free. They’ll sit in traffic for 30 minutes, but a 30 minute bike ride is too long?

      We could try giving people a real bike network to ride on before saying they won’t. “Not enough room” is 30 lanes for cars to/from the southwest and not a single continuous bike lane. Induced demand works both ways.

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      • Chris I July 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm

        And we have thousands of cheaper apartments east of I-205, where it is flat, but we have zero safe/desirable east/west routes out here.

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        • Eric Leifsdad July 23, 2017 at 12:17 am

          30 minutes seems to be the minimum estimate for ~10 miles in rush hour traffic from there to downtown. Just get cars out of the way on Division or Powell and it would be a nice straight shot downhill in the morning. 20mph e-bike green wave anyone?

          Maybe PBOT shouldn’t design so many 8mph bikeways. We need to at least average 12mph to beat the bus.

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  • soren July 21, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    PBOT Senior Planner Peter Hurley:

    “Based on our charts [of distance from work and likelihood to bike], even in 2035 there are too few jobs too far from housing to get as far as we would ideally like to go [in terms of bike commute mode share],”

    A decade ago someone in Copenhagen could have fashioned similar charts showing that ~50% bike trip mode was similarly impossible. The idea that the relationship between likelihood to bike and distance to work is static and not affected by infrastructure improvements, connectivity improvements, and roadway redesign seems ridiculous to me.

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    • Alex Reedin July 21, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      Also, that slide is absurdly misleading. Its title is about bike trips, but the data is about bike + walk trips combined. One color of data is about work trips only, the other color is about all trips. Both of those errors are in the direction of making biking look less practical for work trips than it really is. I suspect that an accurate slide would have a first-glance message of, “Man, a large percentage of people’s trips to work are within a distance that many people already bike!” rather than, “Wow, biking is only something that’s going to work for a small percentage of workers.”

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    • Bdog July 22, 2017 at 9:54 am

      It isn’t ridiculous. Even in Copenhagen, 95% of bike trips are less than 7 miles. There’s only so much even good infrastructure can do.

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  • John Lascurettes July 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    For the past eight years one of the strongest organizing principles for Portland-area bike advocates has been the stated goal of having 25 percent of commute trips made by bike by the year 2030.

    Now, in what appears to be a sign of backpedaling, the City of Portland wants to decrease the bike commute mode share target to just 15 percent — a 10 percent reduction.

    Clarification: it’s 10% less of total commute trips, but it’s a reduction of the ride-share target by 40%. Lame, lame, lame.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 21, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    This is very disappointing.

    Small bike projects that don’t remove traffic lanes or parking won’t get us to 25%?. The answer is to do big bike projects, not to give up.

    Transit isn’t good enough to attract people currently driving? The answer is to make transit much better, not to give up.

    Housing is too far from jobs for a bike commute? The answer is to create new job centers closer to where the housing is, not to give up. (See comment above.)

    It seems like the “planning” here isn’t as much planning as simply forecasting what will happen if the city doesn’t do anything to change current trends.

    That is a passive, vision-less approach that leads to a bad place.

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    • David Hampsten July 22, 2017 at 12:55 am

      I’d recommend separating the planners (and their passive culture at PBOT & BPS) from the plan. The 25% goal is lofty, but I think still quite reasonable, given a set of reasonable possibilities that others have gone into detail on: Climate, changes in technology, electric bikes, land use changes, etc. Don’t let the passive and under-performing planners and leadership at PBOT discourage what you believe in – the 25% goal was put in there for various reasons, all of which continue to be sound, even during this temporary period of cheap gasoline.

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      • Bdog July 22, 2017 at 9:56 am

        The 25% goal was not “sound” nor realistic. Doubling the percentage of bike commuters is very aggressive.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 22, 2017 at 3:43 am

      Well said!

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    • Michael Andersen July 22, 2017 at 6:14 am

      Yes, definitely the answer is to make it legal to put jobs near homes. But making it legal to put homes near jobs? Woah woah woah, let’s not get crazy here.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 22, 2017 at 7:06 am

        If only there were a way to build apartments near the city center. I’ll bet if there were, we’d see tons of new development almong streets like Division.

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        • Alex Reedin July 22, 2017 at 8:12 am

          If only apartment dwellers were seen as deserving of peace and quiet (if that’s what they want from their home), then we would have made it legal to build apartments not just on Division and Hawthorne but also all the streets in between.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 22, 2017 at 8:38 am

            Is it actually true that modern apartments have a lot of street noise? I lived in an ancient craphole of an apartment on Division for several years, and never thought street noise was a problem. A new building, with insulation and double pane windows would be much quieter yet.

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            • Alex Reedin July 23, 2017 at 5:03 pm

              I dunno about modern apartments, but any apartment facing a busy street has a lot of street noise if you open the windows, which is an important low-energy summer cooling technique around here. And, my new-construction single-family house has a lot of road noise with the windows closed.

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              • Adam
                Adam July 23, 2017 at 10:15 pm

                my new-construction single-family house has a lot of road noise with the windows closed.

                As does my 90 year old house.

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          • Adam
            Adam July 22, 2017 at 10:19 am

            What’s peace and quiet? I live on SE 52nd… Diesel buses, Harleys, and pickup trucks with broken mufflers go by all day and all night.

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          • soren July 22, 2017 at 12:09 pm

            The streets “in between” already have many, many apartments and plexes.

            Perhaps hello kitty would care to explain they want to continue to exclude housing that is such an integral part of our neighborhood’s (HAND and Buckman) historical character? It’s not as if we have a surplus of more affordable rental housing…

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty July 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm

              Your faith in the free market, unshackled from government regulation, to solve the affordability crisis, is surprising.

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              • soren July 23, 2017 at 12:42 pm

                i don’t think i even mentioned regulation. but, as you know very well, i am a fervent supporter of regulation that discourages owned-housing in favor of social housing (e.g. IH, non-profit/cooperative, social, and public housing). sadly, the exclusionary single-family-only housing policy you routinely champion gives loan/home-owners a huge economic incentive to protect their equity-wealth from “those people” (e.g. the majority who rent in Buckman and HAND).

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm

                99% of homeowners were once “those people”. There is no “us” and “them” here. I don’t know why you think homeowners fear and loathe their many neighbors who rent. It’s just not so.

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              • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 1:06 pm

                Perhaps not fear and loathe, but many seem unfortunately to still hold plenty of prejudices, misconceptions, etc.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 24, 2017 at 1:10 pm

                What sorts of prejudices and misconceptions? I don’t think I know a single person, children side, who was never a renter.

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              • Adam
                Adam July 24, 2017 at 1:14 pm

                Plenty of homeowners in my neighborhood complain about renters taking “their” parking spaces away from them.

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              • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

                “What sorts of prejudices and misconceptions?”

                Goodness. How much time do you have? The list is long, very long.

                Renters aren’t invested in the neighborhood as homeowners are;
                renters are transitory;
                renters are inconsiderate of their neighbors, don’t keep the property neat;
                renters will grow up and buy a house eventually;
                renters don’t participate in neighborhood events/associations/etc.;
                renters have too many cars, as Adam suggested, take away my (homeowner) parking spot(s);
                renters have loud parties, trash the place;

                “I don’t think I know a single person, children side, who was never a renter.”

                I’m not understanding what this has to do with prejudices of homeowners? If we go back far enough, most of us pooped in our diapers had tantrums, and rode bikes around the block, too.

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              • Dan A July 24, 2017 at 2:17 pm

                We have an overly large house in our cul de sac in badly need of repair that has been rented out a couple of times. Because it is large (3200 sq ft) and a cheap rental, it attracts a large number of people, and a large number of cars to go with those people. That has been our biggest complaint — the current family showed up with a fleet of junkers and parked them all the way around the cul de sac. They parked a car under our basketball hoop, a broken down junker in front of the mailbox, a covered wagon (no joke) on their front lawn, and a big white moving truck on the corner of the street by our house where our son tries to cross to get to school. We had to get the HOA involved, and eventually they moved all of the extraneous cars elsewhere.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 25, 2017 at 1:24 am

                That’s quite a list of misconceptions. Are you sure they are all false?

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              • 9watts July 25, 2017 at 6:22 am

                Like with any list of stereotypes there will no doubt be an element of truth to them, but the point I’d make is that most homeowners who’ve ventured those in my presence have no idea whether any of them are (more) true for renters in our neighborhood than for any other category of biped. My interpretation of what is going on with such lists of reprehensible characteristics is that they say more about the ignorance of the person expressing them than about the world we actually live in.

                I learned right here on bikeportland some time ago, for instance, that the tenure of the average renter in our zipcode was in fact slightly longer than the average tenure for homeowners. This may no longer be true given where rents have been headed, but I think it suggests how thin the grasp is of those making all these anti-renter judgments.

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              • 9watts July 25, 2017 at 6:32 am

                And in all fairness, I was responding to your claim that

                “There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ here.”

                In my experience/neighborhood there is a very much an ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Sometimes it is more overt, but if you pay attention, remain sensitive to cues, it is undeniable. Read Nextdoor.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 25, 2017 at 8:38 am

                Having a shorter tenure, whether right or wrong, is not an indictment. It is true that renters tend to be less involved in neighborhood associations, again, not an indictment. If renters have longer grass, it’s probably their landlord’s fault. Speaking for myself, I have been less involved in neighborhood-oriented civic activities when I have been a renter, in part because it was my intention to move along at some point in the future. Again, not an indictment, but rather a logical response to my situation.

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              • 9watts July 25, 2017 at 8:45 am

                “renters tend to be less involved in neighborhood associations”

                I too have observed this. What we don’t know, though, is how all the constituent factors contribute to produce this result. If we’re going to indict renters are second class citizens and rely on this kind of observation when making those judgments, we need to understand these dynamics much better than at least I do.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 25, 2017 at 10:14 am

                My Nextdoor is mostly lost dogs, found cats, stolen cars, and piles of stuff being given away. I can’t recall ever having seen an anti-renter rant, though it is evidently different where you live.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 25, 2017 at 10:20 am

                It’s not an indictment, just an observation. I believe there are entirely rational and respectable reasons for this choice. Most people do not participate, and they aren’t second class.

                At least we agree that this “misconception” is actually true.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty July 22, 2017 at 4:18 pm

              I should add that I have no objections to dividing existing larger houses into duplexes as long as the fundamental integrity of the architecture is preserved. But I have no illusions that that will increase affordability.

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        • Michael Andersen July 24, 2017 at 10:44 am

          Yes, and we’d also see tons of new development along streets like Fremont, Knott, Lincoln, Glisan and Chavez, if it were legal.

          Those buildings on Division are part of what got us from 6 percent biking to 7 percent biking (and they’re also the reason their hundreds of residents haven’t already priced other people out of their crappier apartments and so on down the line).

          With this downgrade, Hurley is saying that we haven’t legalized enough Division Streets to make it to 25 percent.

          Groningen:
          https://www.google.com/maps/@53.2116129,6.5534002,3a,75y,87.53h,95.36t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sxandhlPLD1yG36NQhwnyFA!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo2.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DxandhlPLD1yG36NQhwnyFA%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D122.60514%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656

          Copenhagen:
          https://www.google.com/maps/@55.6969713,12.5448061,3a,75y,272.62h,92.43t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s1nI0–_FFq6AJhNjTD7lrg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

          The protected bike lanes are great but they are not the biggest difference between these cities and Portland.

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  • Matti July 21, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    E-bikes could make long commutes feasible for people that are not athletic or inclined to use a conventional bike. Subsidies or tax breaks, as was done when hybrid cars were introduced, would encourage e-bike use. I don’t own an e-bike, but I think there is a big future for them in our urban transportation system. And there are probably ways to accommodate the higher speed of e-bikes. Imagine dual-lane bike facilities with a fast and standard lane side by side…

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    • Kyle Banerjee July 21, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      The same could be said for motorbikes.

      Having no protection from the elements, no ability to haul people or cargo, no safety cage, and having to wear a helmet is a factor for many people.

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      • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 9:39 pm

        The fact that it is a factor, though, is mostly cultural, habitual.
        Plenty of places around the world where people use motorbikes like we use cars – to haul families, cargo, livestock, lumber, you name it.

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        • Kyle Banerjee July 21, 2017 at 9:45 pm

          Out of necessity. Given other options, people choose differently with not so many exceptions

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          • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 9:52 pm

            I disagree.

            The most interesting cases are the exceptions to what you are here assuming.

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          • Kyle Banerjee July 21, 2017 at 9:59 pm

            They may be interesting, but they are still outliers.

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            • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 10:02 pm

              Yours is a static view. They may be outliers today, but tomorrow they may be recognized as the vanguard. This can go very quickly. In a previous life I studied outliers as a way to understand possible pathways to avoid the crash landing.

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              • Kyle Banerjee July 21, 2017 at 10:12 pm

                Yah, all those people in India and China abandoning cars rather than trying g to get them

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              • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 10:14 pm

                Preferences and constraints are two very different things.

                Preferences revealed under current conditions (whether in China or Gresham or Paris) don’t tell us very much at all about what can happen under the type of constraints I’m talking about.

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              • Kyle Banerjee July 22, 2017 at 2:04 pm

                What we agree on is that it’s cultural/habitual. Lots of people want to modify human behavior on a mass scale. It tends to not work so well.

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              • 9watts July 22, 2017 at 8:56 pm

                Your framing again presumes that we have the luxury of doing nothing, of continuing on our merry way.

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    • Eric Leifsdad July 23, 2017 at 1:13 am

      I own a few e-bikes. In my experience, higher speed or passing is generally not an issue except where PBOT has drawn a 5ft sidewalk for bikes and given no thought to speed, visibility, etc (plenty of these situations on moderate downhills anyway though.) Granted, my most powerful bike generally has kids on it, and the other two are 250W hub motors: one 20in folder and one 29in where the motor tops out at ~13 and 17mph (respectively). Some help up the worst of the hills really extends your range because it’s easier to maintain a moderate effort than to recover from a sprint. A 250W hub motor with tiny 24V battery pack on a road/hybrid bike will let you ride up gentle trolly grades like Barbur or BHH at 15mph as if you’re tootling along on flat ground and it’s not too bad for climbing La View at ~8mph with a 40lb passenger even. For around $600, such a 10lb kit can be added to most existing bikes. It’s a mild assist, but enough to get over the discouraging hills, and your bike still feels like a bike. Why health insurance plans haven’t already bought everybody at least one of those is beyond me.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 21, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Speaking as a transport planner this was the correct reaction to what we have been seeing for the last 10 years at the CoP / PBoT…the chickens came home to roost due to a lack of leadership and investment from the top …perhaps this will trigger collective soul searching at the top to unleash creative bootstrap projects at all levels vs spending the energy on bike spin. I was hoping for 25% but hitting 15% citywide will transform new bikehoods…

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    • Alex Reedin July 21, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      I think the number is probably in the ballpark, but what galls me is the unwillingness to say, “We haven’t been implementing changes at anything close to the rate in the plan.”

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  • rachel b July 21, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    The bar is too high! Lower the bar so I can get an ‘A!’

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    • Adam
      Adam July 21, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      This reminds me of the time the mayor of Chicago promised 100 miles of protected bike lanes during his first term. When halfway through, it became clear that he was nowhere near this goal, he tried to change the definition of what a protected bike lane was to include “buffer-protected lanes” (i.e. only paint).

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      • David Hampsten July 22, 2017 at 1:04 am

        Yeah, they do that here in NC too, call buffered bike lanes “protected”. They also keep moving the target year for our 100 miles of new bike lanes out every year, originally at 2020, now at 2022. However, we get on their case, talk with Council, do our advocacy, and while they try to not implement new bike lanes, they still stay on track, in spite of themselves. The key is to separate their words from their actions.

        If you in Portland (and elsewhere) want to really get your infrastructure and that 25% mode split, stop talking with the (passive) planners, and start talking with traffic engineers, design staff, and the folks who pave and paint the street (but be careful, they are very sensitive people). It’s far more effective.

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  • Beeblebrox July 21, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    It’s the land use. Portland has jobs that are concentrated in relatively few centers, and far too much single-family low-density zoning close to those centers. This means most affordable housing is located very far from jobs centers. Most people are unwilling to ride more than 3 miles to their job, so most people drive or take transit. Plus most households are two-earner households, and often locate in between the two jobs, which often means both people end up driving to work.

    Given all that, it’s not surprising that 15% is a more realistic number than 25%.

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    • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 10:54 pm

      “Most people are unwilling to ride more than 3 miles to their job”

      That made me laugh. Have you polled people?

      My impression is that most people I know have never seriously considered a bike as their way to get around, regardless of how far away it is to their job. Even if they own a bike it is not how they would get too work because that is what their car is for. And for those who do bike commute, the 3 miles cutoff is likely not all that hard and fast.

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      • Y July 21, 2017 at 11:20 pm

        Your impression and Beeblebrox’s poll…

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      • Beeblebrox July 23, 2017 at 8:24 am

        It’s a nationally recognized metric based on observed behavior. You can laugh at the truth if you want.

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        • Alex Reedin July 23, 2017 at 8:56 pm

          “Nationally recognized” – this is the problem. When you’re already the nation’s leader, looking to the rest of the nation for data/engineering standards is a recipe for no further progress.

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        • 9watts July 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm

          “observed behavior.”

          Where to start? The first problem here is that they’re attempting to measure something that is all mixed up with a thousand different variables. Why people cycle to work, never mind how far, or what their cutoff for distance would be are all questions that are multi-dimensional, difficult if not impossible to capture in a survey. The number who bike commute is already quite low, and to presume to derive a meaningful distance threshold in this manner strikes me as absurd. But I’d like to see more of how they went about this.
          If for no other reason than to see the error bars.

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    • BradWagon July 24, 2017 at 8:50 am

      We need to stop giving in to current distance preferences and behaviors… this is what we are trying to change. Instead let’s look at what is theoretically possible (hopefully much more than 3 miles) and talk about how to get there (infrastructure and incentive).

      We can’t say “let’s double the amount of people bike commuting!” but also just resign to the status quo of “well obviously not for people that live further than 3 miles from work”.

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      • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 8:54 am

        +++

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      • Kyle Banerjee July 24, 2017 at 11:10 pm

        Why give in to reality? People gripe about even driving such distances and even those who do ride don’t do it except when it’s nice outside and they don’t need to lug much.

        Should be no trouble getting people riding further distances when conditions aren’t great…

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        • BradWagon July 26, 2017 at 4:42 pm

          Never said it would be “no trouble”. My point is that perception and lifestyle is a major sticking point, I would say as equal or maybe even more so than infrastructure for most people. A good way to change that culture though is making driving harder and biking easier, which a 25% goal would pressure the city to do.

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        • Adam
          Adam July 26, 2017 at 4:47 pm

          even those who do ride don’t do it except when it’s nice outside and they don’t need to lug much

          Uhh, what? You’ve never noticed those of us who ride all winter or people lugging bags full of groceries by bike?

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        • Dan A July 27, 2017 at 7:47 am

          Sorry, I’m generally a fair-weather-season rider. Let me know when the police stop excusing VRU deaths based on the weather, position of the sun, and lighting conditions.

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  • Jim Labbe July 21, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    I was struck by how low the bar is for increasing walking. 1% increase over 17 years is the best we can aim for?

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    • Bdog July 22, 2017 at 10:01 am

      The 25% goal was not “sound” or realistic. Doubling the percentage of bike commuters is very aggressive.

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      • soren July 23, 2017 at 12:53 pm

        One could say the same thing about the 15% goal given current trends. I mean, FFS, we have seen essentially no significant change in mode share for almost a decade. The insultingly casual way in which PBOT discarded this aspirational goal (that was an integral part of the Bike Plan and Climate Action Plan) speaks volumes about PBOT’s attitude towards cycling and active transportation, in general. It is time for both Treat and Saltzman to go.

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        • Bdog July 24, 2017 at 9:27 am

          Fair enough, but I think the issue of finding alternatives to solo commuting goes far beyond anything PBOT can control. Comparisons to Copenhagan, for example, are pretty ridiculous– Europe is a very, very different environment than the U.S. Our entire society was built around cars, and that’s not something even glittering bikeways can easily overcome. Until owning a car is far more expensive (including much higher gas taxes) and inconvenient than just driving solo everywhere, things will not change much. Even at the state level, MOST of the new transportation money is going to highway/road construction. This is a heavy lift.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty July 22, 2017 at 3:46 am

    I hope y’all submitted comments expressing your disappointment as testimony on the TSP. I sure did. It may not be too late: tsp3@portlandoregon.gov

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  • Mossby Pomegranate July 22, 2017 at 8:20 am

    At least they’re being more realistic. Major parts of this city are hell to ride around. I know even “fearless” riders who are rethinking their bike commuting the way the city has been going lately.

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  • bikeninja July 22, 2017 at 9:57 am

    As long as we are basing the future on statistical trends lets look at statistical trends in declining middle class income and trends in the increasing cost of purchasing, fueling and maintaining an automobile. If we extrapolate these trends out to 2035 only a very small portion of the population will be able to afford to drive a personal car. This is not a happy prospect for most people, but we better think about how to deal with this in a rational way because thinking that the average wage earner will be motoring to their job at the Amazon warehouse in 2035 is nonsensical or will require a revolution in the allocation of American GDP going to wage earners ( would be a good thing in my book, but opposite all current trends).

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  • El Biciclero July 22, 2017 at 10:10 am

    I haven’t read all the comments in detail, so this may have been touched upon already… I’m actually kind of fine with gerrymandering the percentages, as I think the key one is drive-alone trips. If that target were “hard”, and enough trips could be redistributed (or eliminated in the case of “work at home”), I think we’d still be better off.

    The funny thing is—and correct me if I’m naive, because I am—don’t we have enough knobs we could twiddle to make that happen in pretty short order? suppressing drive-alone trips seems technically easy, but politically hard. Congestion pricing, market pricing for parking, no more lane additions for “congestion relief”, higher (make-a-difference higher, not pennies-a-gallon higher) gas tax…? If funds collected from “right-pricing” driving alone were funneled into just one thing: adding and improving bus service, so that a transit trip from the suburbs into town by bus/train was comparable in time (and way, way cheaper in price) to a car trip into town, doesn’t that start a virtuous cycle of switching trips from car to transit? Doesn’t then fewer cars make bike travel safer and free up road space for protected lanes and such?

    No, we can’t just tell people to quit driving, but if driving got much more expensive (turn down the driving knob) at the same time as alternatives became much more attractive (turn up the transit knob), wouldn’t that do a lot? Too bad the knobs are seen as glowing, red-hot political death poison burny…injury…self-destruct thingies.

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  • Rich @ Cynergy E-Bikes
    Rich @ Cynergy E-Bikes July 22, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Seems that these planners have left electric assist out of their formula. Their analysis assumes that riders are only willing to go a few miles. E-Bike riders are willing and able to commute 5-15 miles. We have several customers with commutes over 10 miles on way.

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  • Bdog July 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    That has nothing to do with the distance people in this country are willing to bike on their daily commute (the 50% figure refers to trips within the city center). The best bike infrastructure in the world isn’t going to make most Americans bike 10 miles to work each way.

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    • soren July 23, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      A bike commute from 82nd and Division to downtown Portland is ~5 miles.

      The problem is not distance — the problem is that people who bike are excluded from direct/convenient routes and are forced to interact with life/health-threatening motorized traffic.

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      • Mike Sanders July 24, 2017 at 7:56 am

        Another part of the problem is that we need to be more aggressive in getting crosstown ped/bike paths built. Especially true in places like SW, NW, and suburban Washington and Clackanas counties. People would be more willing to E-bike 10 miles across town if the infrastructure actually existed. A ped/bike bridge or ferry across the river between Linnton and North Portland is a must. Water ferry/taxi between Oregon City, downtown Portland, St. Johnson, and Sauvie Island would help a lot. (NYC just introduced a bunch of new passenger ferries between key points, which are becoming quite popular thanks to the mess at Penn Station this summer – and yes, the finger pointing as to who should pay for cleaning up the mess is already starting in earnest.) With Federal support at a standstill under Trump, state and local governments have to fill the political and leadership voids. Aiming for more and safer pad/bike options, not less, should be the goal. And expanding Max and streetcar systems is also a must. The conservative idea that we must adopt a buses only policy for all future transit system expansions is shortsighted and illogical.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 24, 2017 at 8:36 am

          I agree, and an a bit dismayed to see one of the great potential corridors, SE 20th/21st turned into an emergency route, which will just make it harder to create a N/S bike corridor there. It’s flat and direct.

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      • Bdog July 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

        I think the reasons more people don’t bike to work is far more complicated than just building protected bikeways. You’re really talking about transforming our car culture which is a heavy, heavy lift.

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    • BradWagon July 24, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Good thing we don’t need most people doing that then… just a good portion of those traveling under 10 miles to do that.

      But regardless, 10 miles of conflict free riding is very doable for most able bodied people. Yeah, currently people don’t want to do it, so what can we do to change their minds? Stop giving up to current preferences and start considering what we can change to get people doing what is possible (hint: infrastructure and incentive).

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      • Bdog July 24, 2017 at 10:08 am

        Bikeways are great, but a pretty small part of the heavy lift involved in upending the way our entire society and transportation system is structured. Maybe you could start by writing a polite letter to the oil/gads industry and car manufacturers pointing out the error of their ways.

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        • BradWagon July 24, 2017 at 11:07 am

          Bikeways are nice but not necessarily required for efficient bike travel. For what it’s worth I don’t equate conflict free to mean 100% off street.

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          • Alex Reedin July 24, 2017 at 11:33 am

            Having had a beverage container thrown at me from a moving vehicle on Foster this morning, I would really appreciate some efficient bikeways, please! 🙂

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            • BradWagon July 26, 2017 at 4:38 pm

              Oh, as would I! However, large parts of my commute are on “paint only” bike lanes that disappear often and I get through a majority of my commutes without notable conflicts.

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  • Chris I July 22, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    I’m waiting for the announcement that they are changing “Vision Zero” to “Vision 50” or “Vision 100”.

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  • Champs July 22, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I’d like to see how transit ridership is going to double. TriMet boardings have been flat at best for years.

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    • Chris I July 22, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      This would only be possible if they added bus-only lanes on all major arterials, built MAX on Powell, SW Corridor, extended the yellow line into Vancouver… no funding for any of this.

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    • Beeblebrox July 23, 2017 at 8:28 am

      Ridership is highly correlated to the sheer quantity of service hours. TriMet did a massive service cut in 2009 and have just recently restored that service. I think ridership will rise dramatically with the new service hours paid for by the new transportation bill.

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      • Chris I July 24, 2017 at 7:10 am

        Not if gas continues to sit around $2.50/gal and the buses are stick in traffic with everyone else…

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  • Kittens July 22, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Two things:

    1: I love how they just *casually* mention people are living too far from work yet the city literally does nothing meaningful to curtail the rampant destruction of affordable housing near major employment centers. The rent increase cap passed recently was a step. But more and more people are going to be living out in Estacada and Longview and commuting in because of all the speculation going on in Portland. And who shall be paying for MAX to Longview? And the massive road projects required to cary these workers?  But just keep permitting those mixed use mini-rises all over the city hoping developers will all the sudden want to start building lower-profit/unit projects for anyone other than the rich flooding in.

    2: City and Metro need to take extremely aggressive action to expand access and usability of transit. Right now, we are at or near capacity during commutes and the roads can not support more throughput on bus lines unless planners make hard choices for transit over other modes: eliminating tons of parking on thoroughfares, reducing SOV travel lanes, jump lights, BRT with semi-dedicated ROW and — obviously — a transit only crossing to replace the Steel Br.

    What we got aint working. Portland is descending into traffic hell almost every day and it’s causing untold stress and wasted productivity for all.

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  • bendite July 22, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Chris I
    And we have thousands of cheaper apartments east of I-205, where it is flat, but we have zero safe/desirable east/west routes out here.
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    You think it’s zero? When I lived in Portland I commuted 10 miles from around SE 31st and Burnside, out to Gresham near Division. I found the rise very easy and pleasant, with just 2 or 3 hot spot intersections. It reminded me of riding through residential areas of Eugene.

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    • bendite July 22, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      *ride

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    • Chris I July 22, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      I ride the routes a few times per week. North of the Springwater, there are no route options that would attract your average rider. We will never break 5% modal share if things stay as-is.

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  • Peter W July 23, 2017 at 9:13 am

    > Now that PBOT has done more analysis of where people live and work, their modeling shows it will be all but impossible to reach 25 percent bike commute mode share by 2035 given current trends.

    We should get more info on the variables which, in their model, influence cycling. Even in “bike-friendly” San Francisco, a transportation model developer told me the models (at least until recently) determine bike rates based solely as a function of trip distance, ignoring things like comfortable bike facilities such as Vancouver BC’s protected bikeways that Soren mentioned above.

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    • El Biciclero July 23, 2017 at 10:22 am

      “…given current trends.”

      This, too. Sure, given the current trends of over-emphasizing ease of car travel and failing to invest in safe bike routes and transit, and failing to “right-price” car travel—basically, “given the current trend of making bike and transit travel as difficult and inconvenient as possible, we just see no way of increasing their mode share.”

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      • Bdog July 24, 2017 at 9:37 am

        Right, but you have to factor in the difficulty of completely upending the way our transportation system is structured, including the push back from major players at the national level like car manufacturers, construction companies and the oil and gas industry. Folks here seem to think PBOT alone could easily accomplish this transformation and it’s just not realistic.

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        • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 9:42 am

          “the difficulty of completely upending”

          Or it could implode by itself once either of the two crucial ingredients that prop up our system disappear: cheap oil and a stable climate.

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        • El Biciclero July 25, 2017 at 9:51 pm

          Well, not that it has to be “upended” all at once. A modest increase or reallocation of budget toward so-called “active transportation” year-over-year should be achievable.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 23, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Also, the models reflect the assumptions you make when setting them up. Especially with cycling, which has always been an afterthought.

      With the right inputs, you can make your model say anything.

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  • Bjorn July 23, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    A reduction from 25% to 15% is a 40% reduction. 10% would be 25 to 22.5 percent.

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    • Reality July 24, 2017 at 9:25 am

      Correct. You beat me to it. It is a 10 percentage point reduction, but a 40% reduction.

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  • Andrew Kreps July 23, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Based on that “active trip distance” graph, I’m in the 0.1%. So, yay?

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  • Stephan July 25, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    1. What is PBOT’s plan to get the city to a 15% bike share? Because bike share has been flat, whether they try to achieve 15% or 25%, one thing is clear: they won’t unless they change their approach.

    2. Instead of modeling and forecasting, how about taking some clues from places in Portland where you got the desired modal share? OHSU pretty much has that. Part of that might be distance and a different demographic, but it seems to me that creating attractive car alternatives (tram, bike valet etc.), and making parking expensive / inaccessible while subsidizing other forms of transportation is hugely important.

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