Many Portlanders who use our streets outside the relative safety of a steel reinforced cocoon are growing impatient with the timid designs coming out of our transportation agencies.
Two posts last week — showing latest plans for Metro’s SW Corridor light rail project and PBOT’s Outer Division project — brought out an unusually high number of critical comments from some of our smartest and most engaged readers (and importantly, ones who don’t usually express such disdain).
I highly recommend reading the comments on both of those posts if you want to understand the widespread frustration in the community about the lack of willingness to constrain auto use in order to make cycling and other modes a more viable option.
One comment in particular stood out to me. It was written by reader “Kittens” in response to learning about the City of Portland’s latest designs for the Outer Division project:
“I honestly can’t imagine that the elite planners of this naive design have spent much time in East County beyond the obligatory focus groups and minority outreach sessions. They fail to grasp the basic understanding of what is going on out on outer division st. The sad truth is of the matter is that people are driving like jerks on purpose, not by accident or that they didn’t know the rules of the road or that they didn’t have enough lights or paint.
What we are talking about here is a willful disregard for the safe operation of automobiles, which, though increasingly common throughout all quarters of our city, is most prevalent in the wide open spaces outside the core.
We are living in a new age, one where the automobile, once a symbol of freedom and independence has become a weaponized phallus engorged with rage, a mobile terrorism device and menace to life beyond itself.
Bring on the Jersey barriers, tire teeth and retractable bollards protecting bike boulevards, impervious to lift kits, loud pipes and ragers with relationship issues.”
This comment struck a chord with me because I think it accurately identifies a major problem in Portland: We are not doing enough to defend our streets against the scourge of dangerous drivers.
While PBOT and TriMet and other agencies aim to “balance the needs of all road users,” the historical imbalance continues. Our system is so tipped in favor of driving that the time for “balance” is long gone. Unless we want drivers and their cars to rule our city, it’s time to tip the scale the other direction. We must do more to curtail the amount of driving people do — and the recklessness they’re able to do it with.
Thanks for the comment Kittens. Your prize is a free loaf of bread compliments of our friends at Grand Central Bakery.
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