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The Monday Roundup: Racist Strava segments, racist event name, racist cities, and more

Posted by on June 22nd, 2020 at 10:26 am

Center graphic from BlackSpace.org.

As we continue to evolve our thinking around racial justice, policing, and the built environment, it’s vital to know what new and leading voices are saying about these topics.

Here are the most noteworthy items our community came across in the past seven days…

Black urbanists unite: A broad movement of Black, Indigenous and people of color from across the professional urban planning industry have come to the forefront to change the way American cities are designed and built. Their goal according to this article in Curbed, is to “end anti-Blackness in cities.”

“When a Black person loses their life in a hit-and-run crash, it doesn’t become the highlighted media story.”
— Tiffanie Stanfield in a Q & A with Streetsblog

Racist segment names: San Francisco resident Nehemiah Brown called out Strava for offensive segment names and the company responded quickly by deleting them.

Spatial anti-Blackness: Amina Yasmin issued a clarion call to everyone who designs and plans cities to acknowledge the anti-Black racism endemic in the field and work to eradicate it.

Race promoter fired: Jim Cummins, promoter of the massive “Dirty Kanza” race, was fired after posting to his personal Facebook page that the shooting of Rayshard Brooks was justified. The episode has renewed calls for the event to change its name as advocates have pointed out for months now that “Dirty Kanza” is a racial slur against the indigenous Kaw people.

Bike sales skyrocket: This bike boom is very real (and it’s all about the family/newbie bikers) with new data that shows April sales went over the $1 billion mark for the first time.

Activist to watch: “The truth is, when a Black person loses their life in a hit-and-run crash, it doesn’t become the highlighted media story. You barely hear our stories.” Tiffanie Stanfield is leading a charge to raise awareness of hit-and-runs through her nonprofit Fighting Hit and Run Driving (H.A.R.D.),

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New biker guide: You know we’re in the midst of a bike boom when the venerable New York Times publishes a guide on how to become a “cyclist”.

Design justice: Among the many movements that have emerged after the murder of George Floyd is a push to end CPTED (“sep-ted”), or crime prevention through environmental design, because it can lead to more police interactions. Some equate it to stop-and-frisk or a “broken windows” style of enforcement.

Bye, “jaywalking”: A columnist for the Guardian says it’s time to abolish “jaywalking” laws in America.

Ireland gets it: It took a former bike shop owner being elected to a major political office for Ireland to create an “astonishing” transport budget that will include 53% of funding for transit and 20% for biking/walking.

Time for HSR?: To boost the economy and stave off carmaggedon, some experts think it’s time to get serious about high-speed rail. The money ODOT wants to waste widening I-5 in the Rose Quarter could provide a nice kickstart for a Portland to Vancouver BC line!

Micromobility’s moment: Streetsblog points out some very positive signs that point to the resurrection of shared bikes and scooters in cities.

Access and car culture: Hate to say we told you so, but as this article in E&E News points out, “Car ownership has emerged as critical in determining the ease of getting tested” at drive-thru sites across the country.

Are we ready?: As people emerge from lockdown, driving traffic and the harmful emissions that come with it are surging. Has Portland done enough to prepare for this?

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Charley
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Charley

I’m interested in this CPTED. I’m curious if anyone can provide evidence (anecdotal or scientific) as to the racist effects of design features such as lighting around building entrances and pathways, lots of windows, planting trees and shrubs on private property, or locating car parking behind buildings as opposed to in front of buildings. Honestly, having windows is . . . nice? Windows reduce need for daytime artificial illumination (and the carbon footprint that comes with that electricity), right? Illuminating the entrances to buildings at night makes it easier for people with vision troubles, right? Trees and shrubs sequester carbon, create habitat for wild animals, and provide shade for pedestrians, right?

I’ll admit to a bias here- that it seems like some of these features are just nice to have, affect people regardless of color, and are not an affront to a racially egalitarian society. If we put parking garages and parking lots in front of every building, build offices with no windows, fail to illuminate entrances to the building, and refuse to plant trees and shrubs, aren’t we kind of making our cities full of hard-to-access bunkers?

I’m open to changing my mind, but I’d like to see some evidence. The alternative world of concrete from center-of-road to second-floor sounds unwelcoming.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I’d like to learn more about this CPTED concept. I thought I was fairly aware of urban planning and transportation design strategies, but hadn’t heard about that or its racial impact.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I can’t imagine anyone living in these places unless they were forced to.

If implemented, my guess is that those relegated to living in such depressing conditions where it would be harder to look out for their own safety would disproportionately be people of color.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Which places?

David Hampsten
Guest

About 10 years ago I was introduced to the concepts of CPTED at a Hazelwood Neighborhood Association meeting (in East Portland), when police and parks officials explained about cutting back brush along trails and improving lighting so that walkers and joggers could see potential assailants earlier, so that there would be less cover for would-be attackers. The concept makes intuitive sense, but I haven’t ever looked up to see if it has been “proven” to be so in reputable publications.

About 8 months ago at a Bike/Walk NC conference in Winston-Salem (it feels like years ago now) we had a very articulate black presenter explain to all us white folk (98% white in the room, she had a point) why CPTED wasn’t that great for blacks: Many poor blacks lack much privacy in their houses, so they often make calls and conduct their business in their cars, parked in their own driveways or on the street in front of their home, but in way too many instances their white neighbors will call the police on them, thinking they are doing something illegal (they are not), because they are “hiding behind the shrubbery”. She also gave us several anecdotes, including that of a popular bike trail that happens to pass near a local historically black public university (WSSU); for the mostly black students on campus, the trail has a reputation for lots of muggings, drug deals, and rapes, even though there’s never been any reported; for the many whites using the trail, it’s a great safe place to run, walk, and bike, very popular, with lots of meadows, benches, rabbits, etc – very CPTED and inviting to whites (and Asians, Latinx, etc), but not apparently to local blacks, or at least those who live on campus.

Charley
Guest
Charley

It seems to me that the problem is not CPTED, in the cases you mention: white people should just not be calling the cops on black people sitting in their own car in their own driveway!

I’m curious about the bike path having a bad reputation among black people. Was her argument that black people would feel safer from mugging and rape if there were fewer benches, less lighting, and more bushes crowding the trail?

To be clear: I’m all onboard with ending systemic racism, BLM, Defund the Police, etc. I just don’t see how CPTED is the same thing, and I’m not sure how Mr. Lee’s bullet point “Cease all efforts to implement defensible space and CPTED crime prevention through environmental design tactics that often promote unwarranted interaction with the police” would play out in real life. He doesn’t list any examples! Would Ahmaud Arbery be alive today if we outlawed CPTED? If windows are bad, we should all live in bunkers? If subdued lighting near building entrances is bad, we should fumble around in the dark?
More CPTED practices, from the Wikipedia article:
Design streets to increase pedestrian and bicycle traffic
Avoid too-bright security lighting that creates blinding glare and/or deep shadows, hindering the view for potential observers. Eyes adapt to night lighting and have trouble adjusting to severe lighting disparities. Using lower intensity lights often requires more fixtures.
Use a locking gate between front and backyards.

Mr. Lee claims that CPTED “promote(s) unwarranted interaction with the police” but, unless he really believes that the solution to police killings is fewer cars and pedestrians, brighter lighting mixed with dark shadows, easier entry into backyards, etc., he should narrow his focus. So many of the other ideas in the article are stellar! The CPTED thing just looks overcooked, to me.

David Hampsten
Guest

Statewide conferences tend to be amateur affairs, as was the one I attended 8 months ago in Winston-Salem NC. Most lectures are either “here’s a bunch of solutions for a series of hypothetical issues” with no actual cases, or “here’s a problem and now you guys need to go fix it.” Clearly the CPTED lecture was one of the latter. We had only one or two lectures of “here’s the problems we encountered and here’s how we solved them.”

About the path: There’s already a huge (and amply justified) fear among blacks in the south of running and walking for exercise (are they running away from the police?), but especially doing it in an area popular with whites (and by implication with Asians and Latinx). Will they be harassed by other runners and walkers? By the police? The person presenting was saying that such paths really ought not go through black areas of town, as blacks won’t use them in her opinion. (The city says otherwise, they have lots of statistics that many blacks do in fact use such paths, even in white areas.)

IMO, I believe it boils down to how we (as whites?) see blacks: Are they millions of individual human beings each with individual beliefs, wants, opinions, and personalities? Or are they a large voting block, a homogeneous group or community that we (and others even within the black community) try to manipulate, cajole, form alliances with, or oppose as part of a movement?

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

To the extent CPTED facilitates “eyes on the street” (a core tenant of the design practice) and to the extent those are white eyes on black/POC neighbors (as is so frequently the case in Portland’s gentrified and gentrifying neighborhoods), CPTED is a design philosophy that in practice exposes black/POC Portlanders to the biases of their white neighbors, perpetuating racist outcomes—the results can often be along the lines of the Amy Cooper debacle. Or along the lines of two anecdotes relayed to me by friends from the last few weeks: one where the cops were called on a black family playing dominos in Dawson Park because they didn’t look related and weren’t wearing PPE; and another where the cops were called on a black man walking through his side yard to the back of his house to give a key to a new tenant in the neighborhood he’d lived his whole life. In these cases, CPTED principles (which have existed long before the acronym and formal practice) were at play and “eyes on the street” were in effect. How safe did that make the folks going about their lives in their own neighborhoods feel?

For all that, I don’t think CPTED is a toolkit we should throw out. We do have to admit the software is buggy. We do have to acknowledge that it has been a weapon to make people of color uncomfortable and stand out in the spaces it is applied. We do need to consider that CPTED is not applied in a neutral, “racially egalitarian” context and that its success is dependent to a large extent on the judgement of the brains behind the eyes on the street. Given the history of such tools (enforcement, CPTED (traffic diversion has been a CPTED tool in Portland), housing policy, etc.), if we continue to use them, we should hand over control of their implementation and dedicated resources to the communities that have been most harmed by them.

Like enforcement, CPTED (aka creating environments where people deemed suspicious feel uncomfortable) is too often a solution too far down the line, a bandaid for other social ills that should be directly addressed—both the material conditions that plague the houseless and people of color and the bias that causes white people to define those suffering from aforementioned material conditions as suspicious themselves.

qqq
Guest
qqq

Thanks for several insights. Another example of why CPTED should be scrutinized but not dismissed–some of the worst places to live in the U.S. were/are public housing projects built for minority residents, which would perform horribly if evaluated for conformance to CPTED practices. On the other hand, some of the CPTED practices that WERE used in those same projects created hostile, barren environments. The image in my mind is people with children living several stories up from outdoor play areas. Parents can’t see their kids from their windows (CPTED failure), their kids can’t go out to play without going into an isolated elevator or stair shaft (CPTED failure) but then once on the ground have a windswept, barren, empty plaza (CPTED success) to play in.

qqq
Guest
qqq

I also agree CPTED can be used as a weapon, but maybe more often it’s used as an excuse. For instance, the best public restrooms from a crime prevention standpoint are no restrooms at all. A lazy designer or public client may use “CPTED,sorry!” as an excuse to not provide needed restrooms. Similarly, a park might be designed without the type of quiet, half-hidden areas that people seek and need in those spaces, for the same reason. CPTED can be used by the lazy designer or client as an excuse to avoid the challenge of designing safe versions of some types of facilities by simply eliminating them from the project.

Charley
Guest
Charley

I see. Here’s an example from NYC of CPTED that, again, fails to seem racist to me. It’s an interview with Ifeoma Ebo, Director of Strategic Design Initiatives at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice: https://centerforactivedesign.org/engaging-communities-for-safer-public-spaces

Charley
Guest
Charley

Yes! There are too many big problems, crying out for solutions, for us to latch onto unrelated issues. Ms. Cooper calling the police on Mr. Cooper while he birdwatches, yes, that is racism in action. This is the example Mr. Lee gives in the article, which is odd to me, because I don’t think CPTED had anything to do with it! The solution is not to leave building entrances unlit, board over our windows, or surround all buildings with parking lots (all verboten in the CPTED book, as I learned today). I don’t think any one of those things would have helped Christian Cooper or George Floyd! Instead, we need real reforms to the police departments, as well as redirecting a large part of their bloated budget in favor or the social good. And we need real penalties for calling the cops on people who are just out and about. Karen is the problem- not the window she’s looking out.

James S
Guest
James S

Yeah I’m not a fan of saying CPTED is similar to stop and frisk at all. Especially because one of the core points is tailoring it to the community.

I get that some people are associating “eyes on the street” with the “karens,” but where do more random rapes happen, in isolated alleys or in front of big windows?

Rod B
Guest
Rod B

I think we should think twice and make sure Black Portlanders are a key part of the discussion before we ban front windows and porches (to prevent “eyes on the street”). I don’t think Portland streets would be better – or even more equitable – places if we banned front windows and required existing front porches to be boarded up when someone remodels their house. Black neighbors have told me they like “porching” and feel porches are neighborly. Streets lined by blank walls would be sad. Maybe the better thing is to have people stop calling cops when they see Black people, reform the police, reduce police use of guns to being a last resort, etc.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Exactly! To be clear: Black lives matter. Defunding the police makes sense. If “eyes on the street” leading to bad encounters with systemically biased police forces is the problem, then the solution would be reforming/defunding the police and cracking down on white people who call the cops frivolously.
Is Mr. Lee instead saying that the solution is to visually occlude possible view? Am I crazy? Does someone have an example of what that would actually look like????

qqq
Guest
qqq

I agree with your whole message. However, where are you finding planting trees and shrubs is a CPTED strategy? The only time I’ve heard of them mentioned is that they’re something to hack up or avoid, so people can’t hide behind them. A classic CPTED space to me has bright lighting, and a dearth of plantings (like your concrete-to-the-second-floor description).

Charley
Guest
GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Thank you. I had absolutely no idea this was part of the groundbreaking 2040 Plan we adopted last year. Even if I had, I would have thought it was a good thing at that time, and regrettably I probably would not have thought to consider its disparate impact on people of color, in terms of how it would interact with white people often being far too quick to call police on “suspicious” Black people simply living their lives.

Thank you Kana, David and others for a very illuminating discussion. Once again, it’s hard to see George Floyd’s murder and Amy Cooper’s 911 call happening on the same evening as mere coincidence.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The idea of removing “jaywalking” laws is interesting. Would that change who has the ROW when someone is crossing mid-block? Would it effectively make the entire street a crosswalk?

It’s hard for me to see what the traffic ramifications of such a change would be, and the article made no attempt to explore it. Would safety go up or down with more people crossing mid-block?

PdxPhoneix
Guest
PdxPhoneix

as with all things right now. it is probably about how people of color are stopped for jaywalking more than white people. All in all I’m not sure it would be a good idea… people don’t seem to pay much attention to it now, & if no penalty… why wouldn’t they just cross wherever/whenever they felt the need.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

This sounds a bit like the argument against the Idaho Stop law (as far as removing penalties making it worse/more dangerous). I’m a bit skeptical to how many lives have been saved by having jaywalking laws. There is a bit of self-preservation involved. I’d wager that most that decide to cross when it’s not safe don’t really care about jaywalking laws/penalties or think they’ll be caught in the first place. Similarly, I doubt most people avoid crossing at unsafe areas because of those laws. Heck, I’ve talked to several people that don’t even use unmarked crosswalks on certain streets even though they’re legal crossings, simply because they don’t think drivers will yield.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

There was a time where we were getting frequent stories about people killed who were crossing busy streets mid-block, so we know it’s dangerous, and that “self preservation” is not enough to prevent all such incidents.

Does a legal prohibition reduces the number of people who undertake the risky decision of whether to “jaywalk”? I have no idea. It obviously did not protect those who were killed doing it, but may have deterred (and thus saved the lives of) others. It may also be that legalizing the practice will force street designers to reckon with the possibility, which might make streets safer. But that also sounds like wishful thinking.

The most obvious remedy (as is seen elsewhere, including lots of urban areas in Europe), is fencing to prevent people from crossing where they’re not intended to. I hate those fences, (and I’m sure they’re expensive) but they do seem to be effective.

Generally speaking, I favor repealing laws that don’t serve the public good.

matchupancakes
Guest
matchupancakes

I agree. Fencing prioritizes the movement of cars at the expense of everyone else with decreased mobility and accessibility options. “Uncontrolled intersection” or mid-block crossings still remain the most frequent form of collisions involving pedestrians on 82nd Ave today and account for the majority of traffic deaths on the corridor (pg.10).

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/730782

Everyone benefits from spaces designed for all as opposed to a simple, dominant majority. Maintaining highway conditions through the middle of neighborhoods with fencing is an expensive remedy to avoid addressing unsafe speeds of people driving through. The fence at the NE 82nd MAX station penalizes vulnerable populations using transit and relies on legal permission from the state to reduce speeds even when continued harm to life is known and guaranteed to continue. (pg.15)

https://bikeportland.org/2010/02/19/a-view-from-other-side-of-the-rogue-wall-on-82nd-29755

The crazy thing about the improvements outlined in the plan to improve mobility, accessibility, and safety for people walking, using mobility devices, riding transit, or cycling is the paltry cost each amounts to compared to the enormous bill estimated for the roadway at $500 million to $1.5+ billion. All this is to say the fencing is a bandage for an expensive problem that jeopardizes the livability of future generations and still results in neighbors’ deaths.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

You can eliminate jaywalking laws that prevent midblock or against-the-light crossing, without giving pedestrians full right of way in those situations. Even if pedestrians still have to yield to traffic in those scenarios, you can at least legalize the crossing when no one is coming.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Are there other situations where pedestrians have to yield to motor vehicles? I’m not sure what the ramifications would be of creating situations where motorists are not required to stop for pedestrians… it might just muddle the message about where/when they do have to yield.

qqq
Guest
qqq

I believe pedestrians must yield to vehicles when walking in the street in most situations. Besides crossing against a light, crossing (within 150′ I think) of a legal marked or unmarked crossing, it would include walking in the street in the same direction as traffic, walking in the street if there’s a sidewalk or shoulder…I don’t think those are legal even with no vehicles around.

However, a driver is still required to avoid hitting pedestrians who are in the street illegally (at least I hope!).

I agree muddling can be dangerous, but it already exists. For instance (following up on GlowBoy’s comment) it’s already legal (I believe) to cross mid-block as long as you’re 150′ from a legal crossing, and you yield to cars (that is, when no one is coming).

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I guess one could view GlowBoy’s suggestion as simply reducing the existing 150′ buffer to 0′. Sounds pretty modest.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I’m not even sure all midblock crossings are illegal. It’s already “muddled” in that sense.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Maybe things are fairly binary for pedestrians, with so many situations where you have the right of way over others, or may not walk at all.

So think of it as when you come to a stop sign as a motorist or cyclist: you may go – you don’t have to wait for a light to change – but your right of way is subordinate to everyone else’s so you have to wait until it’s clear. That’s how it should work for pedestrians when they don’t have the top right of way.

HJ
Guest
HJ

My thought is that it would be akin to the Netherlands where drivers have to take responsibility. Could it be frustrating as a driver? Sure, but I think putting the onus on drivers is probably a good thing. Far too much of our system is set up completely car centric. This would be one way to push back at that.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

I think it would be wiser to push for efficient , double track, electric rail with good frequency and speeds equivalent to Amtrak’s Acela service. This type of rail is cheaper to build, requires less real estate and could be put in place in much shorter time. Much of the perceived ” need for speed” is to compete with airlines. But in the Covid and Post-Covid world that will be less of an issue. If we had frequent, efficient, 100 mph rail service to the Bay Area with HVAC isolated 1 and 2 person compartments compete with work desks and high speed internet it would be a total winner right now. Covid marks the begining of the end for cheap air travel for the masses. The structural damage to the industry caused by the pandemic will cause it to become much smaller and more expensive to survive. To maintain a part of the long distance mobility we enjoyed before the pandemic, modern but practical rail service is essential.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Good point that rail (and bus) travel can far more easily protect people from virus transmission than airplanes, where people are crammed far closer together. Also much more easily adaptable to laminar-flow ventilation, should that become necessary in the long run, either to a long-running COVID pandemic or another worse one coming our way.

Whenever I ride Amtrak I’m struck at how much legroom there is. Just to use the tray table in front of you, after folding it down you have to extend it way back towards you. It really is a nice way to travel.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The problem between Portland and Seattle is that the existing rail lines are very congested with freight. We basically have 2 options:

1. Adding 3rd mainline to create capacity and passing tracks for higher speed diesel passenger rail. A few bridges would need to be replaced, and stations would need to be upgraded for level platform boarding. The existing Cascades rolling stock can do 125mph, where track geometry permits, at least. This would get travel times from PDX-SEA down to about 2:30, which is competitive with flying and faster than driving.

2. Build a new line with dedicated ROW. This would permit greatly increased service, since the trains will not be competing with slow freight for space. This would also be electrified since you won’t have double-stack freight trains plying the rails. Once you’ve set out to do this, the incremental costs to go to high-speed are not significant. Building a dedicated ROW electrified line for 125mph would be silly. We would definitely have slower sections due to topography and developed areas (we don’t want to have to tunnel all the way through south Seattle or N Portland, for example), but the Greenfield sections in between the cities should be built for 200mph. This would get you to Seattle in 90 minutes.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Per the Access and car culture: yes, this has been pretty common here in Honolulu too…with both COVID19 testing and food pantry handouts generally being very car centric…few walk up sites are announced and those that exist generally do not have sun/ rain protection while one waits in a parking lot pop-up site. BUT Hawaii Pacific Health / Straub does have at least one pedestrian walk up testing option that I have seen in town.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

One thing about food pickup sites that has emerged here in Minneapolis in the month since George Floyd’s death: these originally impromptu sites, now more organized, are mostly not oriented toward people waiting in line in cars.

In addition to serving the usual population without enough money to buy all the food they need, they are serving people in adjacent neighborhoods who be able to feed themselves but lost food stores in their neighborhood – and also lack transportation to buy food elsewhere.

At these pickup sites (the one I’m most familiar with is Holy Trinity Lutheran, a block off Lake Street), three days a week you will see hundreds of people in line, standing distanced on the sidewalk, and many of them walking home afterward with their groceries. The traffic jams would be a mile long if everyone lined up in their cars.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Per the “High-Speed Rail” (HSR): investment and upgrades to the Portland to Vancouver BC rail route would be a great outcome from COVID19, and WSDoT rail has made a lot of these investments already through Vancouver and other segments one the last 10 years. The investments in OR and BC have lagged.

THOUGH one of the critical regional bottlenecks is the Portland segment…there most likely needs to be a new “Central Station” location in Portland that does not require it to do the slow backtrack twice across the Willamette to the existing station AND there is the 1910 rail bridge across the Columbia River.

Furthermore, I would not classify the proposed work as true HSR (220 to 250 mph)…given the global best practices it would be more like ‘medium speed rail’ due to the Amtrak Talgo (Pendular & Tango 8) train’s performance speed limit of 125 mph. The Cascade route has even lower operational speeds (30 mph to 79 mph). Once the region’s proposed Ultra High Speed Rail work proposed is completed the Amtrak Cascades would become the “milk run” connecting the smaller stations bypassed by the UHSR service. https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/planning/studies/ultra-high-speed-travel/ground-transportation-study

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

The slow backtrack from the central station is only required because of the byzantine rail ownership system. When I was a kid you could climb on the Burlington Northern Passenger Train at Union Station and blast straight up the riverfront, over the railroad bridge and straight up the cut to the bridge over the Columbia. We will never achieve world class passenger rail ( or even get up to the standards set by Albania or Bulgaria, without some form of unified or public ownership of the tracks. Our current rail system dates from the 1800’s where the federal government handed out massive grants of land to the railroads as a reward for building track,making them kind of feudal lords of transportation. That is one of the main reasons we have such a backward rail system, and it must be changed if we are too move forward.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

I mistyped – the movement of the Amtrak train is not really a “back track”. But it still requires two slow crossings of the Willamette River.

David Hampsten
Guest

IMO, HSR in the Pacific NW suffers from two main deficiencies: the boggy BNSF rail corridor between White Rock BC and Vancouver BC; and the lack of any Republican Party representation in your senate delegation for either Oregon or Washington, as the Republican-controlled senate and Democratic-controlled House have to agree on any HSR funding package. Given the latter constraint, I’d say a Midwestern or SE corridor is the most likely to get bipartisan support (if any). California & NE corridor are Democratic, so they’ll die in the Senate; Texas is Republican, so the Dallas-Houston route will die in the House.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Riding from Portland to Seattle requires just one crossing of the Willamette. The trains travel through NW and cross just south of St. John’s, before moving through a cut to the Columbia Bridge (just downstream of the CRC).

It looks like a new station could be built next to the river at the grain terminal just north of the Steel Bridge. Trains from here could go north towards Swan Island, go under N Portland in the existing tunnel, and then over the bridge into Vancouver. This would cut a few miles and one bridge crossing off of the route.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

The national discussion of ending the use of the term “jaywalking” is long overdue.

It was a loaded term when the highway/ engineering industry started using it institutionally in the 1920s to push for street designs that pushed non motorized customers off most new streets. I always find it interesting that those that complain about “jaywalkers” or push for enforcement almost never focus on the most frequent “mid block” street crosser – the driver of a car that has just parked at curbside or they are returning to their parked car. (TNC ride pick up and drop off has made this a bigger problem recently.)

And it is interesting that the earlier form of the term – Jay Driver – has fallen from wide use and favour…even though the effect of jay-drivers is greater on traffic safety of all road users.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/why-is-it-called-jaywalking

Suburban
Guest
Suburban

I cross the street wherever I darn well please. I have been ticketed, and that only inspires me to do it more often. This is the type of infraction I encourage others to do, particularly in Oak Grove and Clackamas county in general.

Eric in Seattle
Guest
Eric in Seattle

High speed rail might be nice, but we could get way more bang for the buck with a more incremental approach. We already have the Talgo trains being (under)used on the Amtrak Cascades. If we had a dedicated (that is, not shared with freight) right of way and the design allowed the current rolling stock to run as fast as it is designed it would be a great improvement. For corridors like Portland, OR to Vancouver, BC this would make air travel unnecessary. Something like this could be replicated in other corridors (San Francisco to San Diego, Dallas/San Antonio/Houston, etc) could be done at a much lower cost (or possibly the same cost but covering more riders) than full-on HSR. Corridors that prove very popular might be upgraded later, but in the mean time we could have regional rail travel in lots more places for a much lower cost.

David Hampsten
Guest

EIS: “If we had a dedicated (that is, not shared with freight) right of way and the design allowed the current rolling stock to run as fast as it is designed it would be a great improvement.”

You’ve summed up succinctly the main issue. In most corridors there’s only so many possible surface rights-of-way that don’t cost a bajillion dollars to acquire, be it in the Pacific Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, or even in Europe. However, the other option, which is used heavily in Germany and Italy, is to tunnel parallel through mountains, creating a discontinuous rural subway that is usually unconnected with regular rail lines, which often avoids issues of crossing expensive private property and the need for bridges over highways and rivers. Tunneling is expensive, but so is building bridges and highways, or going to court to acquire private land.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Unfortunately Amtrak’s recent rerouting of the Cascades line in Tacoma, intended to shave quite a few minutes off the trip, encountered fatal disaster on its inaugural run. I haven’t kept up: have they started running on the new route again, or still on the older waterfront route through south Tacoma?.

The other obstacle to running the trains as fast as designed (which I believe is 130+ mph) is the large number of grade level crossings. I believe Amtrak is limited to 80 mph anywhere you have a grade level crossing.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

They were going to try the Point Defiance Bypass again this year, but I think Covid has delayed things. They also don’t have funding for increased service (which was the whole point of the bypass). On top of that, WSDOT is using the NTSB’s outrageous conclusion about deficiencies in the Talgo design as cover for a crash that was 100% their fault (and Sound Transit). They are now working to procure replacement trainsets, although this will take some years.

FRA permits 110mph operations with quad-gate protected crossings (no opportunities to drive around gates), and Amtrak does this in Michigan. This could be done on the Cascades route, but there are very few areas where it would pay off, and freight traffic will still be the biggest barrier to time improvements.

Once you build for 125mph+, you are already spending a huge amount for exclusive ROW, and you should just build for high-speed electric operations.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

CPTED? Really? Instead why don’t we focus on holding fathers responsible. Maintaining the family unit. Stressing education. Read a book. I don’t care what color you are those things will generally keep you out of life and death situations with the police. CPTED is just code for “we don’t really want to address the real problems in our communities”.

9watts
Subscriber

Your comment, Toby, is just code for “we don’t really want to address or acknowledge the ways racism operates in our communities.”

Roberta Robles
Guest
Roberta Robles

You guys are awesome sauce! Thanks for the staying in the fire. Theres only one way through. The new birth of a new city will be on two wheels. Or some other gadget go wheels for the oddly abled.