Portland has a new plan to persuade you to stop driving so much

Posted by on October 11th, 2021 at 2:49 pm

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This week at city council, Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty will ask her colleagues to adopt a new plan for how Portland promotes the type of trips that will create a more healthy and humane city — while discouraging ones that do the opposite. Given that the same council meeting will include adoption of the Pricing Options for Equitable Mobility (POEM) report, Portland city government is finally poised for a more aggressive approach to influencing transportation choices.

The City of Portland has a long legacy of encouraging people to drive less (what’s known as transportation demand management, or TDM). The Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) worked with employers to boost transit use as far back as the 1990s and created a Transportation Options Division within the agency in 2000. But while their work in this field has been laudable, it’s been almost 100% carrots and very few sticks. This has led to a worrying increase in driving in the past decade. According to U.S. Census data (in chart below), there were 95,211 more commuters in 2019 relative to 2000. Between 2010 and 2019, Portland added 46,174 solo car drivers — by far the largest increase of any mode. By comparison, Portland added just 2,707 bike commuters over the same timeframe.

(Source: U.S. Census/City of Portland)

Finally, with the political and public mood around the climate crisis and systemic inequities at all-time highs, a new plan provides a foundation for PBOT to shift their approach and change Portland’s troubling transportation trajectory.

The latest feather in PBOT’s TDM cap is the new Way to Go Plan (PDF) that will be at council Wednesday. The plan is notable because it organizes all PBOT’s best practices and ideas into one cohesive vision for the first time. Beyond just laying out a vision, the plan shares a detailed look at how PBOT plans to shift trips away from the outdated one-person-one-car paradigm and toward choices like bicycling, scooting, walking, and so on. The plan also includes a list of specific actions the bureau is working on and aims to complete within the next two years.

Keep in mind that since the publication of their 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, PBOT asks two overarching questions as they approach every policy discussion: “Will it advance equity and address structural racism?” and “Will it reduce carbon emissions?”.

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I think that first question has been challenging for PBOT to balance with any policy or program that seeks to change transportation behavior. For instance, they’ve known for years that pricing car trips is an effective strategy to reduce driving, but they’ve worried about a general unease from the public that it was in conflict with equity goals (it’s not). Now PBOT is saying out loud what some activists have been screaming for years:

“While encouragement approaches have a role to play — particularly when used at the right time to enhance major capital projects and programmatic activities — PBOT also needs to use stronger behavior change tools,” reads the report. They even make the point in a chart:

PBOT says the reason many Portlanders of color aren’t bicycling or using transit or scooters isn’t because they don’t like to. Rather, it’s often because there are structural barriers in their way like cost, general public safety concerns, and living too far away from destination and resource-rich neighborhoods.

To address these disparities and encourage people to stop driving so much, PBOT studied nine “strategic priority areas” and evaluated each one’s potential impact on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction and overcoming equity disparities.

The nine priority areas listed in the plan (in order of estimated impact) are:

Pricing – Fees, charges, and tolls—designed intentionally and equitably to manage demand.

Financial Incentives – … discounted passes, subsidies, and reimbursements — make using travel options more cost-competitive…

Direct Modal Services – Increasing the number, frequency, and reliability of transportation options, like transit, bike-share, scooter-share, car-share, and more…

Personal Security – People need to be and feel safe when taking transit, biking, walking, and rolling, so they don’t feel the need to travel in their own enclosed vehicle for every trip.

Right-Of-Way Management – Projects are built and road space is allocated to prioritize non-driving modes…

Land Use + Development – Neighborhoods and developments are planned… in ways that make it easier to walk, bike, roll, and take transit.

Employer Commute Programs – Working through and with employers to influence the ways their employees get to work…

Infrastructure Activation – New infrastructure… delivered in tandem with culturally appropriate community outreach, education, and other support.

Information + Encouragement – People need to know about their transportation options…

According to research conducted for PBOT by consultants from Fehr & Peers, making driving more expensive holds the most potential. “Converting workplace parking from free to paid is likely to result in a commute VMT reduction of 15 to 30 percent for employees commuting to workplaces where it is implemented, with a greater reduction in areas near high-quality transit and bicycle facilities,” reads a memo from the consultants.

A parking lot on SW 2nd Avenue in downtown Portland.

On the pricing front, PBOT says in the next two years they plan to (among other things): create a parking cash-out program for employers, create new parking meter districts, unbundle parking lots (charge a fee for parking even on privately-owned lots, something that has had excellent results in Seattle), create new fees for delivery companies, advocate for an amendment to the Oregon constitution to end spending constraints on revenue generated through taxes on motor vehicle owners, explore a central city “cordon” where car users would have to pay a toll to enter, and consider free or reduced parking for residents of “historically underserved neighborhoods” that would be paid for with a surcharge in other areas.

PBOT also says they plan to make the electric scooter share system permanent and increase the Biketown fleet to 2,500 bikes in the next two years.

When it comes to right-of-way management, the plan hints as a new “Healthy Back to School’s School Streets Program,” and making even more of the pandemic-inspired “Slow Streets” installations permanent.

This is a very promising new plan and we’ll be watching PBOT closely to see how/if/when they implement its recommendations. For more info, check out the council resolution which has links to the plan and appendix.

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

Well, I certainly hope we get a new logo, and a task force, and an opportunity for staff to visit other cities and countries to see how they do it successfully, and provide opportunities for city staffers to travel to conferences to highlight Portland’s success with this new program. How can success possibly elude us this time?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I admire your cynicism. They must have lost their old plan.

Rain Waters
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Rain Waters

lets drum up another riot or three. what the other commentor said about it as well.

Jack C.
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Jack C.

The ekow violence in Portland since mid-2020 has made bus & train riders wary of being trapped inside with criminals. It’s no small factor in ridership declines.

ActualPractical
Guest
ActualPractical

I used to go out of my way to take transit in PDX with my two toddlers (now preschoolers). It was just a way of life: they rode with my wife on the subway 2x per day in our previous city. Our first trip here in 2017 was 100% car free. I’d always convince everyone in our group to take our local 17, 77, and 70.

BUT after some REALLY scary encounters on MAX (~2019) I’m afraid I’ll never get back. It’s a loss…

SolarEclipse
Guest
SolarEclipse

Ok, this is PBOT. Where is TriMet in all this planning? It fine to say “feel safe when taking transit”, but if TriMet has no intention of improving safety then it’s a no-go.
Again PBOT says “Increasing the number, frequency, and reliability of transportation options, like transit”, but if TriMet isn’t saying it along with them then it’ll result in nothing.

And does PBOT really think the powerful parking owners downtown won’t fight their “parking fees” tooth and nail?

Sigh, so many words from PBOT, and I bet there will be very little results, if any, for many many many years.

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Guest
Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)

I had the same thought about TriMet service. Unless they offer more bus coverage and restore service on existing lines, most people in SW have no option but to drive. I’m often unsure of what “historically underserved” refers to, but there are many people who are currently underserved with transit, and that’s what matters when trying to reduce driving.

David Carlsson
Guest
David Carlsson

You are absolutely correct. I’m in SW Portland. The only Trimet route within a mile of my house is the #1, which runs exactly 3x in the morning and 3x at night to downtown Portland, Monday through Friday only. Transportation options can’t be ignored or minimized if this is to have any real meaning.

rick
Guest
rick

Rerouting buses 1, 45, and 92 would be nice. Make bus 45 go over the newish Sellwood Bridge,

OGB
Guest
OGB

This brings up a chicken-or-egg question, doesn’t it? TriMet has often said that routes were reduced or eliminated because too-few people used them and due to funding issues it wasn’t practical to keep them as they were. SW Portland is infamous for car-centric attitudes. More and more-frequent routes are needed, but so are more riders. Maybe the escalating price of fossil fuels will help.

Roberta M. Robles
Guest
Roberta M. Robles

TriMet executive board is appointed by the Governor, who has historically appointed transport officials who really don’t like us (bicyclists). They (TriMet and ODOT) have historically only cared about what the Governor thinks, because she appoints her friends who will always side with her, vs what’s right for the community.

Which is different then the Klamath Basin Transit District. The Klamath executive board is run by elected officials.

The entire transport network in Portland is run by Salem officials appointed at ODOT. It’s pretty bad that PBOT hired a Salem husband insider to lead it, and then they get to go on conference jaunts to DC where they roll out the red carpet like these appointees actually led the revolution. LOL jokes on you they about to roll on DC now with the infrastructure package aka rebuild the highways back better. If Lake Asleepo, Rob VanBrocklin wants it….I’m opposed.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest
Todd/Boulanger

When I look at the modal trend graph the growth in SOV use is much more stark if you do not ‘credit’ the initial drop but look at how far it has grown since 2005’s bottoming out…something like ~54K vs. 46k* by 2019. *”Between 2010 and 2019, Portland added 46,174 solo car drivers …”

I have long supported this package of actions …but I have to wonder if the outcomes are ‘positive’ enough given the state our regional is in…even with the “carrots + sticks”…it just reduces 2.2m metric tons vs the “business as usual” (aka “do nothing [by PBoT/ City]”. Or am I missing something?

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

Sometimes I worry about BP’s optimism and cheerleading for the city, which seems to be ‘the city that doesn’t work so well’ these days. Without some more critical voices, things aren’t going to change much. And this city has a tendency to produce weirdly overthought, overdesigned and overengineered programs and projects that may look good conceptually but don’t work so well in reality, partly because they are preaching to the choir, and the choir aren’t necessarily professional planners or engineers. My $0.002.

David Carlsson
Guest
David Carlsson

It’s also telling that the 2030 Bike Plan registered zero mentions. Perhaps the final nail in it’s coffin?

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

I’m sure that most of the so-called leadership in Portland will be resoundingly voted out of office before any of this can be implemented.

We need to focus on getting the city of Portland to base line civilization before rolling out the next trendy transit initiative.

The bike lanes we have aren’t even clear for people to use. This isn’t even about the camps; regular drivers are parking in in them now too because they know there is no enforcement. Come ride N. Williams some time.

You can’t punish driving if you don’t work to make cycling a viable alternative.

soren
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soren

Large cities with the lowest SUV/truck/(sedan) mode share all have fairly low cycling mode share. It’s transit and walking to transit that needs to be made a viable alternative, not cycling.

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Watts
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Watts

From experience, I know that Tokyo and Osaka both have a huge number of cyclists. I did not know that Delhi did as well. These numbers suggest to me that cycling may not be an essential part of a lower-car system, but it certainly isn’t incompatible with it.

Also these numbers are somewhat old, and conditions have changed (covid, Paris, telework, etc.) Cycling (or driving) might have take a bigger share of trips in some of these areas.

I strongly suspect the successful transit systems of the future will not look like the successful transit systems of today, which are built on a 19th century model of large vehicles/fixed route/fixed schedule.

soren
Guest
soren

These numbers suggest to me that cycling may not be an essential part of a lower-car system, but it certainly isn’t incompatible with it.

This was my intended point. Cycling is not essential to decarbonization of transportation (and may not even play a major role) but can and should be a part of that process.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

First, I agree that public transit likely is likely the biggest key to reducing single occupancy automobile trips.

But Tokyo and Osaka have 14% and 19% cycling mode share (or at least, they did like a decade ago). Do we really consider that low? I mean it’s 3-4 times the current rate here in Portland, right?

soren
Guest
soren

Of all the medium-largish to large metro regions I’ve lived in Portland has the worst ped infrastructure. IMO, we will not make much progress on bike mode share without making Portland a more ped-friendly city.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

This may be a first for me but I can safely say that I agree with Soren. I don’t think the future involves bike domination. It’s doesn’t take one long to see that Portland suffers from lack of walking infrastructure. Poor to little sidewalks. The subpar code for new builds to provide sidewalks is a joke. My working class SE hood has so many random sidewalks that will never be connected. It’ll look and feel funny when the almighty bureau gives us “alternative sidewalks” that are in front of these lifeless patches of concrete. This seems like one more “pat on the back” portland plans that will fail. I do truly hope that those five seats can get a refresh. They can’t seem to agree on much and nothing of purpose gets done besides headlines that are catchy but then get deeply gutted. On a side note, I’d be down for any gentrified districts to be the first ones to deal with this wild plan.

ActualPractical
Guest
ActualPractical

The catch is the level of density in some of those places isn’t even conducive to cycling. And near complete absence of our single family home plantations, means goods and services naturally cluster near users (everything and then some easily within 1mi. I’ve been and it’s a beautiful thing, but even NYC and SF pale I comparison despite being orders of magnitude more dense than PDX).

Cycling likely has a bigger place here as a result because you need cover longer distances. Due to flat topography and traffic, cycling is often comparable in time with driving. If parking was also an expensive pain it’d equal out even more.

I don’t necessarily refute the point but qualify that cycling likely has a bigger place here than other cities.

Simon
Guest
Simon

The new bike lanes on lower Hawthorne genuinely scare me. They present a hazard for cylists as well as for pedestrians. Right turning cars need to shoulder check as they turn to make certain there are no bikes entering the intersection. At the same time, a pedestrian walking the opposite direction as the right turning car may go unseen. And don’t get me started on car passengers lacking situational awareness when opening their door into the bike lane….

The layout is confusing even for longtime residents. I can’t imagine what it is like for a visitor from out of town or an older person driving.

Mass transit has a large role to serve – as others have observed.

ivan
Guest
ivan

FWIW, my experience of the new Hawthorne bike lanes are that right turns have red lights when the bike lane has a green one. Of course, cars can ignore the red lights, and for that matter bicyclists can ignore their own red lights. But at least in theory the a) separated signals, and b) lane-separated infrastructure is designed to reduce right-hooks. I do think it’s an improvement on what was there before (in which there was regular casual right-hooking, especially EB Hawthorne to SB 7th).

Part of it is just the streetscape of lower Hawthorne (and to a lesser extent lower Madison), though. There’s clearly no reason — even being generous to vehicular traffic — for a one-lane street that wide. Insofar as the changes are a road diet, I think it helps slow things down and make it somewhat safer.

AndWhereAreTheAntelopes
Guest
AndWhereAreTheAntelopes

I second the comment that a baseline of civilization will be needed before Portland’s non-car transit is viable. Having just spend several weeks in a large (foreign) city with an excellent and hugely successful biking and public transit infrastructure, the contrast is stark: We suck. Solution? : 1) there need to be barrier-protected bike lanes EVERYWHERE, regardless of cries of “but how will I/my customers park their cars!”, 2) mass transit should be frequent, safe and non-creepy….sorry utopian anarchist punk revolutionaries, the safe part means more, better trained police (preferably walking and riding their beats?) and a general reclaiming of the public space by the sane and functional 99.9 percent. My very non-professional 2 cents.

soren
Guest
soren

“there need to be barrier-protected bike lanes EVERYWHERE”

The ironic thing is that the two major cities with the highest cycling mode share (AMS and CPH) don’t have barrier-protected bike lanes EVERYWHERE. However, they do make it hard to drive and/or park, have punitive taxes/fees that target automobiles, and have incredibly robust legal protection of the rights of vulnerable traffic. The perennial call for “barriers” attempts to treat a symptom of our diseased transportation system when what’s really needed is a CPH-style cure (and the politics needed to get use there).

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Mike Owens
Guest
Mike Owens

Not protected by Jersey barriers, but separated by a highly protective curb and bollards. We have paint and plastic straws.

Zach Katz
Guest
Zach Katz

Extremely strong counterpoint:
http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2009/12/truth-about-copenhagen.html?m=1

TL;DR: Danish cycling is down due to lack of upgraded, protected infrastructure, and Dutch cycling is up due to constantly upgrading painted lanes to protected lanes (yes, even in Amsterdam).

soren
Guest
ZachKatz
Guest
ZachKatz

I stand corrected. However, after spending the last few weeks riding around the Netherlands and being totally comfortable even in the rare paint-only lanes (which I never use in the US), I still think concrete barriers are a crucial stop-gap solution for US cities until the much-needed legislation you mentioned (and the cultural shift that will result) is in place. Plopping down jersey barriers and concrete planters can be done much easier and faster than enacting a bunch of laws, and will result in the dramatically increased subjective safety necessary to increase mode share.

soren
Guest
soren

First of all, my post was more about disincentivizing driving, not a bunch of laws. I think the culture change to see widespread implementation of planters* is likely to be similar to that required to disincentivize driving.

In any case, we have seen where PBOT chose to plop down dozens of planters and what it suggests about their view of the transportation hierarchy.

*spaced planters are far less expensive than jersey barriers

Douglas Kelso
Guest
Douglas Kelso

In the past, I’ve suggested creating a “Willamette Bridge Authority” that would take over all the Willamette River ODOT bridges (Ross Island, Marquam, Fremont, St. Johns) and Multnomah County bridges (Sellwood, Hawthorne, Morrison, Burnside, Broadway, Sauvie Island). Toll all of them, and use the combined tolling revenue to replace the old bridges with earthquake-ready bridges, one at a time. Maybe even build some new bridges if they are needed (I’m thinking freight-oriented bridges at Swan Island and Linnton — with bikeways, of course).

I expect that tolling every Willamette River crossing would go a long way to helping meet PBOT’s demand management goals. The bridges are outside PBOT’s jurisdiction, of course, but they could certainly advocate for an integrated bridge tolling and management plan.

ivan
Guest
ivan

I’m with you, but I’d want the bridge authority to be under the control of the city. Otherwise it becomes a privatized public agency that easily gets swayed by industries with the dollars for lobbyists, like freight carriers or AAA. See PBA, CEIC, etc.

Also, you will probably have to pry the freeway bridges from ODOT’s cold, dead hands. (I’d be interested if there are any other U.S. cities in which a local entity controls interstate-signed bridges. I wasn’t able to find any in casual searching, and I’d guess not.)

I could see Ross Island being a possibility for ODOT handoff though, especially if they get to do so without doing the extensive retrofit/rebuild that is required on it.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

How does the city charge for parking on a privately owned lot? Isn’t that a sales tax?

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

To clarify, “Unbundling” or as I prefer to call it “Unburdening” isn’t *the city* charging for parking. It’s the *landlord* renting a car parking space separately from housing (or commercial spaces). So those who don’t need car parking aren’t paying for it in their rent. So you pay less housing rent, but then have to pay $X for a parking space if you want one.

It’s done in many California cities (Oakland, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Berkeley…), Seattle, and downtown Bellevue, at least. it happens often in larger rental markets without government requiring it, but the cities I’ve listed require it be done. Jonathan’s link above noted in Seattle renting spaces by the day created better incentives for behavior change. By reducing parking regulations, they also saved $500,000,000.

In Minneapolis, where they recently removed parking mandates, studios without parking are now $1000 instead of $1200.

Unbundling is an economics term (think paying separately for baggage on plane flights, or paying for various TV channels as add-ons).

As far as parking taxes, one approach is one would charge the owner of a parking lot on their income from that lot, rather than taxing the sale of parking. And the space isn’t sold, but rented, anyway.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

From the BP article: “PBOT says in the next two years they plan to…unbundle parking lots (charge a fee for parking even on privately-owned lots),” accompanied by a picture of a downtown commercial parking lot.

So there are 2 issues. I know what unbundling is. The vast majority of new residential development has far less than a 1:1 parking ratio, so I assume unbundling is already standard. What’s the real change here?

On commercial parking lots, even if “they” (PBOT) don’t charge a fee directly, you are suggesting an income tax on the entities that own them. How does that work, legally? Can income taxes be that targeted? Such a move by the city will definitely be challenged, so I hope someone has thought this through beyond the conceptual idea.

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

From the plan…
“Develop and implement a fee on privately-owned, off-street parking lots.”

“Inventory North American best practices of unbundling of parking in commercial uses in the city code”

The City knows better what they’re talking about; looks like it’s a fee on the lots themselves.

And looks like they’re looking at commercial unbundling.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

Thanks for actually reading the plan, which I didn’t do.

“Inventory for best practices” means they don’t know how this will work. I’m not sure how you came to the opposite conclusion. I won’t hold my breath while they try to figure out how to do this in a legally sound manner.

Mike Owens
Guest
Mike Owens

Thanks for the explanation and the hard work you and DLCD are doing on parking. At the last RAC mtg I asked about how changes to off-street mandates would impact efforts to increase protected bike/alt transit lanes? I appreciated your and Bill’s answer, however doesn’t removing mandates just increase demand for on street parking? (Public space needed for the bike/alt transit lanes?)Do cities like PDX need to codify citywide changes to on-street parking concurrent with land use change for climate-friendly cities?

soren
Guest
soren

The “work from home” demographic is also increasing and this category tends to be just as cage-centric as the single occupancy cage commuter.

“explore a central city “cordon” where car users would have to pay a toll to enter”

This is an hilarious euphemism for congestion pricing (which is not freeway tolling, ever).

The stick is badly needed but I see no evidence that this city or its politicians has the necessary conviction to financially punish cage driving (in a sharply progressive manner, according to my political preference).

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

So aggravating to see them talking about new infrastructure when we can’t even use many of our off-street paths. Hardesty is going to have a tough time getting re-elected.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Agreed on both points.

Dmayor00
Guest
Dmayor00

As a Washington resident that pays Oregon income taxes after commuting in, you could say I’m the problem. Oregon takes my tax dollars, gives nothing back in any form (no unemployment, no health care, no schools, and no new lanes). They also don’t use the tax dollars to build mass transit for my commute in any form. How is it fair to take our tax dollars, toll us, fee us to death, when Oregon / Portland should be thanking us for the billions in tax dollars we provide to the region.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

ODOT has spent a lot of money adding lanes to freeways and surface in the region. You may just not be paying attention. They are about to spend nearly a billion to widen I-5 through the Rose Quarter, and they want to spend $4 billion+ to re-build the I-5 bridges on the Columbia.

The rest of your income taxes support many government services that create the business environment that provides you with a paycheck. Everything from public schools to utilities.

Why aren’t there more jobs in SW Washington? That seems to be the main issue here.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Or why don’t Oregon employers hire more Oregonians?

Matt
Guest
Matt

Why did the proposed Columbia River Crossing, including light rail transit across the river, never get built? Well:

Unlike most Portland opponents — who criticized the project as sprawl-inducing — the major opponents on the Washington side of the river came from the right side of the political spectrum.

They focused their ire on light rail. They thought it unnecessarily drove up costs, and potential bridge tolls, while saddling Clark County with a transit system they didn’t want

–https://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/2013/07/what_killed_the_columbia_river.html

So it seems the blame for there being no mass transit for your commute, may largely belong to your own neighbors.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I am shocked! I say, I am absolutely shocked! I am a NC resident to pays federal income taxes into the long-ago bankrupt highway fund and indirect gas taxes through shipping forms like FedEx and UPS, and NC like many other conservative southern states has long subsidized liberal pansy welfare states like Oregon and Idaho who can’t seem to populate themselves enough to justify their overgrown state-funded highway systems. If Oregon seeks to continue to be a liberal tax haven for the eternally weird, it should either abandon its empty lands and enact a 10% sales tax, or else allow for unmitigated sprawl and expand its tax base.

one
Guest

Uhhh. What? Are you being sarcastic?

Also, “Something something liberal idaho” What?

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

“How is it fair…” I’m sorry you don’t see the situation you chose as fair. I’ll work hard to fix that for you.

(Anyway, you would get UI from Oregon if you were laid off.)

Jonathan K
Guest
Jonathan K

Don’t forget that your taxes are partially offset by the people doing the opposite commute (paying WA taxes and receiving “no benefit”). Not as many, to be sure, but not an insignificant chunk. Northbound morning traffic on the bridge is about 0.5x southbound traffic.

The big picture is that Clark county absolutely benefits from being adjacent to Portland. Look at the kinds of jobs that are available to Clark county residents (either in OR or WA) compared to, say, Yakima. Ditto for arts/culture/food. And don’t forget the easy access to an international airport.

ivan
Guest
ivan

Welcome to a federalized system of independent governments, aka the United States. This is how all cross-state commuting works, everywhere. Your choices are:

– move to Oregon and see local benefits from your taxes
– get a job in Washington and pay your taxes to your local community
– move to a country that has a single centralized system of taxation
– start a revolution?

Note whining about taxes in the comments section of a bicycling website is not in that list.

raktajino
Guest
raktajino

Fun fact: if Washington had income tax, there’d be a more reasonable compromise at tax time. NJ/NY commuters get to pick which state they pay income tax for.

I’m a reverse commuter to you and pay Washington unemployment and family medical leave taxes. (I also pay sales tax every time I buy lunch.) If I were unemployed or had to take medical leave, I’d do it via Washington. Is that not the case for you?

Jason Horman
Guest
Jason Horman

Honestly due to crime and lack of services there is no way in SE Portland I could give my car up. I can’t even walk to the mini mart without being harassed by homeless or potentially exposing myself to harm from the piles of trash in the sidewalks.

Tell ya what PBOT start by doing your job in clearing wrecked, stripped out cars in non whitebread communities. Maybe then I can feel secure riding my bike or even walking again.

Lin
Guest
Lin

MAX does not feel safe and is not clean. I choose bus over MAX. I don’t own a car. Transit must be safer and cleaner to get riders. When I am in other countries I never see public transit as off-putting as Portland’s MAX. Maybe because people can easily not pay it is a free for all:people sleep, leave garbage, bring unruly dogs, play play their loud music, yell, cuss. Scary.

Jonathan K
Guest
Jonathan K

Before the pandemic it was tolerable, not great. But yeah, it’s taken a nosedive since. I rode it from the airport recently and was appalled.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Talk is cheap, and big plans from PBOT are even cheaper. Someone please wake me up when PBOT (or anyone in city government) actually does something bold and effective.

Bueno Keno
Guest
Bueno Keno

I run a construction company. If you charge me to drive on the city streets that I already paid for with my taxes, I’ll just pass the cost onto my customers. Please explain to me again how charging people to drive on the street helps the poor that the liberal leadership claims to care so deeply about?

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

Who said this was about helping the poor? Not that that’s a bad idea, but I think the main point of congestion pricing is to make driving in certain areas at certain times less attractive, especially for people who have other options. The other part of the equation of course would be to make those other options, like public transit, more attractive at the same time.

Mick O
Subscriber
Mick O

[please delete my comment]

SD
Guest
SD

Shifting resources to non-car transportation is a huge financial benefit. Car ownership, repair, insurance, and maintanence is one of the largest expenses and shouldn’t be a requirement for work or school. Car transportation is also one of the greatest threats to safety in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods and prevents outdoor activities for adults and children. The pollution from cars is disproportionately high in these neighborhoods as well.

Trike Guy
Guest
Trike Guy

Not owning a car for the last 35 years is why my GF and I are going to be able to retire at a decent time and with a good income – the cost of cars (coming out of net dollars) would have eroded our ability to contribute to our retirement dramatically.

The (perceived) need of a car is an albatross around the neck of the working class.

qqq
Guest
qqq

“If you charge me to drive on the city streets that I already paid for with my taxes, I’ll just pass the cost onto my customers.”

People are regularly charged for public things they already paid for with their taxes–parking downtown on public streets, paying to reserve a public park picnic shelter or field, playing on a public school team…

And you should pass the cost on to your customers, just like other costs. That’s not a sign of a problem with the fees. It’s showing their logic–the people ultimately benefitting from your driving that causes the fee to be charged pay for it.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

People are regularly charged for public things they already paid for with their taxes–parking downtown on public streets, paying to reserve a public park picnic shelter or field, playing on a public school team…

Who decides whats already been paid for? The current road taxes don’t even come close to covering maintenance on the crumbling transportation system.

If you need $1 billion in taxes and you are currently are bringing in $750 million, you could just raise the existing taxes or create new taxes to bridge the gap. Folks aren’t ‘paying twice’ or something like that.

qqq
Guest
qqq

I agree. The “already paid for with their taxes” was paraphrasing the commenter I was replying to.

Chris
Guest
Chris

How about dealing with the Crime first.. nearly 70 people shot to death so far this year… probably past 70 by the time this is posted.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

When BikePortland, an extremely liberal platform and civic booster, finds its frequent posters united in criticizing our liberal city’s multiple failures, then a sea change is occurring. The curse “ may you live in interesting times” is upon us.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I’ve seen this on other platforms…as well as in discussions with my liberal friends. There is a shift occurring.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

When BikePortland, an extremely liberal platform and civic booster, finds its frequent posters united in criticizing our liberal city’s multiple failures, then a sea change is occurring. The curse “ may you live in interesting times” is upon us.

Haha, this was linked to on reddit which is were most of the conservative comments and support are coming from. It’s not organic.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

As the originator of that comment, I proudly admit to being liberal regarding the environment and equal rights. I am infected with the bicycling bug and feel a kinship with this blog’s participants. I am saddened by the widespread and steep decline of Portland and angered that right wing cranks are using my words to gloat over our liberal city’s problems

BikeJunkie
Guest
BikeJunkie

I agree with the cynicism here. It’s all fine and good for the city to spend $ on developing and marketing new plans. But the proof is in the pudding. The city refused to put proper bike lanes on Hawthorne, refuses to push back on highway expansion, and during the pandemic used barely effective- moveable barriers on low-traffic streets which have been kicked to the curb (literally).
We need deterrents to dangerous driving and cut through traffic
https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/episode-29-cul-de-sac-download-embed-share/
The only example which impresses me is the block on Clinton from SE 25th-26th which is now car-free. It’s interesting to note how little public input was needed to get that done compared to the diverters at SE 16th. It can be done.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I’m still trying to figure out how PBOT got out of the law requiring them to build bike infrastructure on Hawthorne…which got them sued before and they lost. Sued by BTA…

…Just like Hardesty having no idea about the yeoman work to create the 2030 bike plan, and PBOT not informing her I guess…I’m seeing the same things happen in other City/State meetings on climate. Higher ups at the gas and electricity companies are ALWAYS given a spot at the table. The outcome of our progressive efforts get lip service and non-binding pledges such as the Oregon Global Warming Commission 2020 plan to reduce emissions which completely failed. The advocates try to keep working with the city, and then time goes on and we redo it all over again. Just like this PBOT plan.

We have experts in public works in this city. We have a motivated populace. But I fear we are playing by skewed rules. I love that BTA sued and won.

And now there is a legal precedent…

If I broke the law when building a home slightly onto another person’s property, it would be my cost to remove and fix it.

Same should go for the city and Hawthorne, IMHO.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

I support congestion pricing, but details here seem a bit thin. This story gives the impression that this plan is little more than bureaucrats laying out a framework to give themselves permission to punish people. It seems to me that authoritarian crackdowns are emerging as a theme of the Biden regime, and our local apparatchiks want to get in on it.

soren
Guest
soren

authoritarian crackdowns

One of the most pathological features of USAnian culture/society is the pervasive belief that an “individual” has the inalienable right to harm other people via the negative externalities of their consumption choices.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

This belief is hardly pervasive. In fact only sociopaths believe they have an inalienable right to harm others. Most normal people have a kind of “golden rule” understanding when it comes to the fairness of their consumption of shared resources. What is pathological and pervasive, amongst the left anyway, is what you’ve demonstrated here- the belief that anybody who disagrees with you is a sociopath.

Matt
Guest
Matt

I take it you deny the Tragedy of the Commons?

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Given that, I support congestion pricing, clearly I don’t. That’s an entirely different argument to the one soren is making about the alleged nature or american individuals.

Do you hate the player or the game? I’d argue that the left, increasingly, just wants to hurt the players.

JG
Guest
JG

Most normal people have a kind of “golden rule” understanding when it comes to the fairness of their consumption of shared resources.

This is very naive. It might be true that “only sociopaths believe they have an inalienable right to harm others” (actively), but the truth is that most people–and I do mean the majority–are “too busy”, too ignorant, or simply don’t care enough to be bothered to change their habits of convenience that ultimately harm us all.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

You sound like a tyrant who’s lost the people and is now blaming them for it.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I agree with both of you, to a point. What would you call the pervasive pathological belief, amongst both major parties (but mostly the right), that the negative externalities of their consumption choices actually cause no harm to others, or even that they don’t exist at all?

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Well what’s that saying about how it’s hard to make a man know something when his livelihood depends on him *not* knowing it? I’d argue that this quality hardly only plagues the right.

It seems to me that a lot of these sub-optimal choices are subsidized by what is essentially an anti-conservative growth model- the pyramid scheme that is the US post war economy. I don’t think gleefully punishing the “bad” people is going to yield much, but I think arguing against the debt financing that this pyramid scheme represents is likely to find purchase amongst conservatives. That people should be responsible for the true cost of what they’re consuming rather than financing it on the backs of others is a conservative argument.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

This belief is hardly pervasive. In fact only sociopaths believe they have an inalienable right to harm others

Hahahaha whoah boy. I hoped you were laughing when you wrote that because I can’t imagine anyone believing this after watching millions of plague rats spread COVID-19 because they can’t stay home for a bit, get a vaccine, and wear a piece of cloth on their face.

PS
Guest
PS

What’s even worse are people who undoubtedly harm other people by their consumption choices and think they don’t. Do you have a phone or use the internet and live in the US? Congratulations member of the global 1%, you have contributed to near slave labor to have those services available to you. Do you consume food, particularly vegetables, boom, more negative externalities through supporting near slave labor and dangerous labor migrations.

Shawn
Guest
Shawn

How are you supposed bike to work when you have to wear a suit?

ChadwickF
Subscriber
ChadwickF

With all the twee, artisanal shops that Portland seems to attract, it always seemed a shame we didn’t get some sort of active/cycling-specific clothier and someone knowledgeable about riding in different types of clothing and conditions here.
Maybe we’ll get a BikePortland style section one day.

Alan Love
Guest
Alan Love

When I got into work today, I took off my cycling gear (regular clothes with a rain jacket), and put on my work clothes (standard office dress shirt and tie, don’t have to wear the suit jacket, but could hang it on the hook if I needed to). Mind blowing, isn’t it.

Matt
Guest
Matt

What sorcery is this?!

el timito
Guest
el timito
 Jason
Guest
 Jason

You don’t have to wear your suit on your bike. Although, I have seen a lot of that when I lived in UK; dress code there is much more formal. Honestly, it’s just a mental thing, but you may be thinking too much about a drop bar road bike. You can ride a bike with a relaxed posture. You could even ride an e-bike, which would mitigate “body odor”. Which isn’t an issue if you eat well and bathe.

SD
Guest
SD

E-bike.
I’ve done it many times.
It is a waste of a good suit to hide it in a car.

 Jason
Guest
 Jason

Correct me if I’m wrong. It looks like the financial incentives are only granted for commercial use. I.E., I as a cyclist with my own bike would not receive any incentives to not drive.

Don’t get me wrong, the package contains positive steps. I don’t think it will pull “Richie Rich” out of his Rolls though.

robert faass
Guest
robert faass

Charging for parking on private property: another attack on property rights…

Simon
Guest
Simon

Its amusingly ironic that the last “administration” had an impact on this subject by making employer paid parking as a perk less palatable to employers by excluding that benefit from tax deductibility. Unfortunately they did the same for mass transit passes as well….

Evan
Guest
Evan

I’ve seen lots of plans over the years, and I liked a lot of them. Will PBOT implement anything in this plan? Past performance is not encouraging.

vicky
Guest
vicky

sounds like more tax money for the working class and I am all for fewer cars on the road, however, think bicyclist should pay for license plate, no discounts, everyone pays. I am on SS and if they tax or charge for tolls etc more, I am going to be stuck in my house!! Just saying we need solutions, we all need to pay no discounts.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

How much should my 4 year-old be paying per year for his bicycle license plate?

ivan
Guest
ivan

Vicky, overlooking the unworkable bicycle-license suggestion (see Chris), you are right that the impact of downtown and/or congestion pricing could easily fall inequitably on working class folks. But you’ll see in the article above that the very next item is:

Financial Incentives – … discounted passes, subsidies, and reimbursements — make using travel options more cost-competitive…

Making driving more expensive and changing nothing else would indeed be a terrible outcome for low-income people. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that, and certainly the city isn’t. Increased fees for driving has to come with some sort of sliding-scale/rebate system based on your income.

And transportation options — fast, safe, low- or no-cost public transit; safe biking and walking; similarly sliding-scale bike/scooter rental options — also have to be built out so that there are legitimately better options than driving. This is the third item in the list above.

If you read many of the comments on this site you’ll see that many people who are in favor of making driving more expensive are also fully aware that there isn’t enough alternative infrastructure in place to just implement a tax and then make everyone figure out how to get to work. Neither the city nor the article are suggesting that’s the solution.

soren
Guest
soren

And transportation options — fast, safe, low- or no-cost public transit; safe biking and walking; similarly sliding-scale bike/scooter rental options…

Many low-income folk, including people living on fixed incomes like Vicky, have been pushed out to the infrastructure-poor metro periphery where none of those options are safe, comfortable, efficient, or in many cases available. Even if we spend money like we are in a crisis, these alternatives will not be feasible for many low-income people for years — perhaps even a decade or longer.

If we want transportation justice then we must subsidize the driving of lower-income people on a transitional basis (e.g. until we actually develop transportation options in the metro region’s infrastructure deserts). The flip side of this subsidy is that we should also have strong financial penalties for those who continue to drive even though they have ample transportation alternatives (e.g. people who have the privilege of living in transportation rich areas of metro PDX).

And, yes, I’m arguing that so-called “car-light” people* should pay increased taxes/fees to subsidize the driving of lower-income folk who lack decent alternatives. I don’t care what rationalization inner city folk have for driving a minivan, SUV#, truck, or (sedan), it’s time for you to pay your fair share for the damage you are doing to our community, the health of our neighbors, and to our shared ecologies.

* Yes, even smug “cyclists”

# This includes car share and TNCs “car-free” people

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

No discounts? Ok. So, if you look at the studies that incorporate ALL of the costs to society from motor vehicle usage – not just the cost to build/maintain the roads, but also the cost of cleanup from collisions (both with other cars and infrastructure), pollution (both air and noise), health costs from those collisions and pollution, etc. – then driving has been heavily subsidized for decades (i.e. getting a huge discount), while the costs of cycling are pennies in comparison, and can even be a net savings overall. So really, if you want everything fair and “no discounts”, drivers should be paying way more and cyclists should actually get paid a little bit.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Maybe Oregon needs a Department of non-Motorized Vehicles.

JMN
Guest
JMN

Increased costs of operating vehicles just don’t seem to be a deal-breaker for most people. See also the exorbitant speeding ticket/citation rates. They go up and up an so does driving (should actually be less $$$ and sliding scale IMO). Public transit and cycling just needs to be EASIER and FASTER. I would happily bike and transit from SE to St. John’s if it didn’t take over an hour. The Willamette ferry MIGHT end up being a viable option for someone like me when that begins, but not many have my same commute. To incentivize public transit, maybe offer a tax credit to people who don’t have a vehicle registration, free Trimet passes, and bike vouchers.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Those rich folks in NW get those already. Meanwhile East Co gets nothing. Talk about equity.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

How much does a parking permit cost in “East Co?”

 Jason
Guest
 Jason

See also the exorbitant speeding ticket/citation rates.

The bark is bigger than the (non existent) bite. PPB hides behind the veil of, “we can’t enforce traffic laws because then we’d be racially profiling”. That in and of itself is a highly suspect stance. Sort of a self acknowledgement of their corruption. Hey, novel idea, don’t be racially profiling people! … but still you know.. enforce the law.

Philips
Guest
Philips

I have exactly zero faith that anything will come of this or frankly any forward looking initiative in Portland. The group-think is too entrenched and we have no leaders just a bunch of hand wringing.

While I love the coverage of bike issues, BikePortland’s narrow focus on biking infrastructure seems completely out of touch at this point.

I am supposed to be clamoring for more separated bike lanes and bridges? Why? So I can watch them be trashed by homeless and “independent” contractors (Uber, Lyft, Amazon etc) with no accountability or enforcement or a city hall who wants to do anything about anything but more white-guilt navelgazing? God-forbid you have a nice bike, lest it be angle-grinded free and parted-out under the Burnside Bridge by “houseless” folks “down on their luck” and just need more handouts.

The transit/urban planning elite demand we take transit yet we never see them on the 72 or the 12. Hell on wheels, and they wonder why no one chooses transit.

I am deeply saddened by what has happened to lovely Portland over the last few years. Yet there are people moving here every day thinking this what passes as vibrant and edgy. Meanwhile the leadership is all at home on the couch on back to back Zoom calls and ordering in.

I for one am planning my escape.

drs
Guest
drs

Transit ridership rates are much higher for city employees than they are for the general public. But don’t let facts stop you, you’re on a great rant.

Philips
Guest
Philips

I am not talking about the rank and file municipal workers, I’m talking Jarrett Walker and David Evans & Assoc. Inc. who make a tidy living somehow managing to ignore the elephant in the room that transit sucks. In the US we focus all the spending on capital and little on ops and maintenance. All you have to do is ride in a MAX car if you don’t believe me.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

who make a tidy living somehow managing to ignore the elephant in the room that transit sucks.

As someone who hates TriMet, I’ve never once gotten the impression they think our transit system is optimal or even meets the needs of the community.

M
Guest
M

PBOT has been failing the city for such a long time. You can throw all the tax dollars meant for roads at bike and pedestrian only bridges and carrots as they say, but the simple fact is that the growth discussed here… The single driver growth and the meager biking and walking growth is not outpacing the population increase.

It seems like like “Of all the people who have moved here, the majority do drive and will drive. You want me to get to some shit area across the river, across the city, and across town for work when I live on one side and all the jobs are on the other side? Well, if your only offer to me for that is bike and trimet, fuck right now. It takes 45 minutes to get to work as-is because we won’t invest in roads for cars. Not for any other reason. Every day I drive i-84 I see options. That new god damn pedestrian bridge just put in nearish Lloyd Center. That could have been a pre-I-5 offramp to the Lloyd district. IT would have alleviated people getting onto i-5 just to get off at Broadway to access the area. It would have alleviated so much. We just smacked the most worthless piece of shit bridge there and called it a day. What a waste of $$. This fucking city, SMH

drs
Guest
drs

There is an exit ramp that allows you to get to the Lloyd district from I-84 without getting into I-5 first. You already have your wish.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

It takes 45 minutes to get to work as-is because we won’t invest in roads for cars. Not for any other reason.

Exactly! That’s why cities and regions like LA that have heavily invested in car infrastructure don’t have traffic congestion! We have countless examples of regions building their way out of congestion, from Atlanta to the Bay!

PBOT and ODOT do build car infrastructure, lots of it. They spend 95%+ of the budget on car infrastructure. The reality is that there is nowhere to build brand new roads that would ‘help’.

I know that you probably got linked here through r/portland, which makes sense. Conservatives on that forum are always whining about how PBOT and ODOT need to make four more car bridges over the Columbia, expand I-5, and build a west side bypass through Sauvie Island. You all don’t understand or wont acknowledge the reality that the people who live and recreate in these areas have enough political power to kill any of these projects. There will never be a west-wide bypass and I-5 wont expand in any meaningful way in Portland not because they don’t want to, it wont happen because road expansion, especially in a city, requires a politically powerless group of people, usually non-white people, that you can push out of the way. That doesn’t really exist here anymore due to gentrification.

Have fun sitting in traffic!

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

You drive I-84 every day and you have never seen “Exit 1 Lloyd Center?” Start getting off there and you’ll never be bothered by the new bike bridge again!

Glen Perry
Guest
Glen Perry

Complete and total Bs. Theyre gonna makee it so expensive to drive that only the rich will be able to afford it. The working class already has to work longer hrs just to be able to afford to live here now let’s extend the amount of time it takes to commute as well. So now we even have less time to spend with family etc. You’re crushing the heart of Portland.

Jack C.
Guest
Jack C.

Glad to see Hardesty doing something other than anti-police grousing. But it’s true that POC see cars as a relatively bigger status symbol than other races tend to.

Along with too much driving, people idle their engines far too much, even with signs telling them not to. It takes high oil prices to really give people a clue.

ActualPractical
Guest
ActualPractical

Tell this to the PBOT rep that subtly admitted the Broadway-Weidler couplet will persist for another generation (“rebuild” is on drawing board, so need to tick box with community [not] listening sessions).

There are so many basic things that could be done if even the least amount of thought or money was invested. I’m thrilled by the big projects like two new bridges! But life happens in between so…

How about…
– No travel lanes immediately adjacent to pedestrians?
– Banning parking immediately at corner creating 0 sight lines?
– 4-way stops and signalizing intersections to “set the pace” for cars and enable crossing of road barriers for all?
– Requiring license plates so traffic violence has at least 1% chance of resolution?

Common Cents
Guest
Common Cents

But where are we going to put all those electric vehicles?

EP
Guest
EP

*Nextdoor has entered the chat*

C Davis
Guest
C Davis

My question is and always has been: How does Portland expect elderly people to get around? My 86 year old mother is hardly equipped to take a bus, scooter, walk or bike to the grocery store or doctor, etc.? Instead, we’re going to be paying more and more to get somewhere with less and less disposable income. I am 66 and will never ride mass transit! I am a target! Nobody’s addressing the elephant in the room. Public transportation is unsafe and Portland has decided that everyone is wanting to bike, walk, etc. to get where they want to go. The suburbs are not set up for this.