The Monday Roundup: Cost of cars, transit crime conundrum, Slick Devious, and more

Welcome to the week.

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Before we share the most notable items our writers and readers came across in the past seven days, please take a look at the services of one of our new advertisers — Used Dutch Bikes, a source for authentic Dutch bikes delivered to your door.

Low-car politics: Milan is experiencing an open streets renaissance (thanks in part to former NYC DOT chief Janette Sadik-Khan) and the politician who pushed cars out of the city center is wildly popular. Coincidence? We think not.

We’re back: Time Magazine named Portland one of the world’s greatest places in large part because of our new carfree bridges. The city that has shunned cycling, now basks in glory because of them. You’re welcome Portland!

Pedaling propaganda: Portland’s very own cycling TikTok influencer Jenna Phillips got her due with a profile in Business Insider!

Transit crime conundrum: Excellent, must-read piece in Governing addresses the problem of progressive cities not doing enough to create safe and clean conditions on transit and why a hesitancy to use police might be hurting more people than it’s helping.

Cost of cars: This (relatively) new research published in Ecological Economics found that, “motorists underestimate the full private costs of car ownership, while policy makers and planners underestimate social costs.

Gas station ban: Petrol stations are fossil-fuel infrastructure and some cities are moving to ban new ones; but are the political stakes of starving cars too high?

He’d get my vote: The man who created the “ciclovia” open street events in Bogota, Colombia that inspired Portland’s Sunday Parkways and who critiqued Portland city leaders for being too timid on reducing car use during a fiery speech here in 2008, is running for mayor of Toronto.

Preach David!: “If we want to embed genuine freedom in our infrastructure, we need bold investments that provide Americans with mobility options — instead of doubling down on car dependency,” says former Metro President, now Executive Director of Transit Center David Bragdon in a guest op-ed in The Hill.

The point of planning: Noted former Streetsblog writer and author Angie Schmitt thinks the urban planning profession should have made more noise to maintain access to public facilities and other spaces during the pandemic. (I agree! And it’s why I was so disappointed that PBOT severely cut back on Sunday Parkways-like events when we needed them most.)

E-bike boom: The gap between what politicians and city leaders do for electric cars versus electric bikes is even harder to swallow when you realize that e-bikes are outselling e-cars in America right now.

Video of the Week: I came across this amazing gem of a TriMet promo this week and hurt my chin when my jaw fell to my desk

Thanks to everyone who sent us links this week!

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SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
2 months ago

Here’s an idea for TriMet that could help make the rides safer and doesn’t involve armed police . . .
How about putting something in place that only allows paying passengers on the trains/busses? A gate that requires a current fare/scan to go past? A person that scans? A bus driver that can deny someone boarding? Any number of options. (No, I’m not going to come up with a solution for every possible permutation.)

Does it cost money to do? Absolutely. But I wonder if it’d pay for itself in the long run by helping make a safer ride and maybe, just maybe, people would come back.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Or make transit free for everyone.

Bjorn
Bjorn
2 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

I am not so sure that the problems with safety on the bus correlate to fare payment as strongly as you seem to think they do. Is there even any available data on this?

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  Bjorn

I am not claiming safety on the bus strongly correlates to fare payment. I’m wondering if numbers would provide more safety.

bjorn
bjorn
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

My reply was to @solarEclipse who seems to posit that if only people who could afford fares were on the bus that it would be magically safe.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I’m wondering if numbers would provide more safety.

I doubt that TriMet ridership is so low because fares are too high.

kernals12
kernals12
2 months ago

You know what’s more expensive than a car? Not having one.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

As someone who’s been car free for 35 years and been part of a car free household for over 33 years I’d have to disagree.

Someone is sure to point out that having kids changes that. I’m sure you’re right, but I have to ask: In a world with almost 8 *BILLION* people on it, are your genes so special that they need to be passed on?

I’m guessing not.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

 are your genes so special that they need to be passed on?

There’s a little more to the decision than that.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yep – I was poking at kernals who’s a troll.

Needlessly inflammatory perhaps, but it made me smile.

kernals12
kernals12
2 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

You also forgo the ability to move the suburbs for cheaper housing, or buy your groceries at Costco. instead of getting away for some free entertainment in the countryside on the weekends, you need to shell out for museum tickets. You will not be able to see your relatives nearly as often. If you lose your job, you’ll probably need to move. And you miss out on the joy of driving.

pigs
pigs
2 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

Costco isn’t all that much cheaper. Only for select things that Costco takes a loss on like milk/chicken/food court, etc. And then you have to account for price of membership. But sure, grocery stores in areas that allow you to be car free are a little bit more expensive.

“Free entertainment in the countryside”. Just because you own a car does not mean its free to drive. The cost of gas, depreciation due to mileage, insurance (if you pay by the mile), congestion charges that will be implemented in Portland soon… vs the one time cost to use a car share program or a bus ticket.

Are museums only to be enjoyed by people without cars now? Museums are a constant fee, and arguable cheaper if you are able to walk to it vs paying for parking. Try driving to the zoo, its so much more expensive than to take the MAX.

“miss out on the joy of driving”. Not everyone likes to drive you know.

kernals12
kernals12
2 months ago
Reply to  pigs

My car gets 45 mpg. Driving is basically free for me.

pigs
pigs
2 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

And what about parking? Insurance? Vehicle depreciation? Registration? Vehicle maintenance?

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  pigs

Insurance and registration are fixed costs, and I drive my vehicle so infrequently that it is causing maintenance issues. Driving more would likely reduce my maintenance costs. Parking is generally free.

I think that people who try to discourage others from driving generally overstate the cost of driving, especially because they neglect the value of my time.

I have an efficient car, and my per-trip cost is very low. I generally only drive when the cost of the alternative (in time and/or cash) is much higher.

kernals12
kernals12
2 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

If you’re renting a duplex for $1000 a month, you must be in a very bad neighborhood

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

Wrong – I moved to the burbs for cheaper rents 10 years ago, no big deal.
Wrong – I can easily go to Costco should I need bulk crap. The bigger deal is I need to borrow the company card to do it. (8 stores within 5min ride from me).
Wrong – A ride *in* the countryside is entertaining.
Wrong – Seeing my relatives is easy, many in town, a brother farther away who I can meet up with for rides (we meet at the midpoint) and the rest of my family is out of driving distance. That’s what the Red Line to PDX is for. Heck, back in the day my grandmother lived in a retirement community a decent ride from me. I still rode over to see her every weekend.
Wrong – Plenty of jobs within my ability to commute to them. Heck, my job moved nearly 3 years ago out beyond easy transit and I decided to stay (I like the challenge of our current endeavor). The funny thing is, the desk I’m typing this from is just a few miles away from where my Grandmother lived.
Wrong – the only time I really enjoyed driving was taking my Mom’s Spitfire out on back roads (because taking a small, light, underpowered vehicle through technical maneuvers is fun – oh, wait, that describes descending a curvy road on a recumbent trike too).

Just so we get this one out of the way – my commute time is longer than a car. You’re right, by 30 minutes each way. Heck an hour a day, what would I do with that. Oh, wait, I’d go to the gym to work out to stay fit. But, since I rode 20 miles with hills this morning, I don’t *NEED* to. WHOO HOO – win for me!

I realize you’re just a troll – and obviously a pretty good one, you got a substantial post out of me – but this was fun. Let’s do it again sometime.

Oh, the thousands I save by not having a car translates to substantially more in pre-tax dollars into my retirement. It’s the reason I’ll be able to get out of this country to a place where the laws are more conducive to *living* than here.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

Strong disagree. Do you have any data that backs you up?

kernals12
kernals12
2 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

You can save even more money if you gave up your expensive house and lived in a tent

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

Maybe a smidge hyperbolic, but you *can* save a significant amount of money by living in a smaller space than so many Americans aspire to (or are told they *should* aspire to).

When I hear my co-workers talk about how much they pay on their electric bills I often chime in with ours (never above 50% of the lowest person – a single man with a modest house, often lower than 33% of my co-worker who lives with his partner).

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

I’ll play.

What’s your electric bill, and what utilities does it include? My share of my last bill was under $25, including hot water and dryer. Last year, when my household was larger, it was about $13 (hot water not included at that time). I live in one of those old, inefficient single family houses.

If I moved to an apartment, I am nearly positive my electricity consumption would rise, perhaps significantly.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

How are you heating that?

Our heat is electric.

My share (2 family household) was $35 last month.

We actually hit right around average kWh/mo for a unit in a building with more than 5 units in the western census region (that’s with my GF working from home)

Apples to Apples – 2 people living together with similar household incomes (4 of my office mates, 3 of my GF’s work mates). All the ones dwelling in houses spend way more per month/per capita. I know this because it’s high enough that they complain about it (and not having money).

Further, based on conversations with several of them they don’t hold out nearly as much into retirement (if at all – try to convince a 25yr old to put it away now), their liquid savings are far lower than ours and they stress about money differently than we do (they stress about paying bills, paying off college etc. We stress about getting enough put away to get away from here).

All this despite the fact that, in the last 6 years we have hit our out-of-pocket maxes on our health plans 3 times: my MGN (hospital for 8 days,$750/mo for chemo), her needing emergency surgery for an implant rupturing (used for reconstruction after a mastectomy) and me needing cataract surgery.

Back to the original point: cars cost money. Far more than most car owners realize. A car is an albatross around the neck of the poor, the working class and even lower end middle class folks like us.

Most of the savings that allow us to do so well are tied up in being car free. Some in being in a small space. Some in other choices we make.

The car free choice is made difficult to nearly impossible for many in this country by the way we built our cities and the intransigence of elected officials as well as the users who aren’t impacted by it (or just think they’re not).

I used to argue for better choices WRT these things because I wanted others to be able to benefit like we do (I can do it even without good infrastructure, so it’s not for me).

Now I just want to leave.

55 now, maybe when I’m 62. Just keep swimming.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

Neither of those amounts I quoted included heat, but winter gas bills hover somewhere around $50 unless it’s really cold, probably a little less now that we have electric hot water. We wear sweaters.

I fully realize that my operating model is an outlier, but it also shows what’s possible.

Yes, cars cost money. Just not nearly as much as some claim. I haven’t done the full calculation on my cost-of-ownership, but it’s low enough that it just doesn’t register, even to someone who’s pretty thoughtful and budget-conscious. Though I rarely use it, I can’t imagine giving it up.

Alice O'Connor
2 months ago

And I’ve never been asked to present a medical record to enter a restaurant before.

The absolute horror of being asked to share your vaccination record in the midst of a global pandemic. This infringement on Angie Schmitt’s constitutional liberties to help protect vulnerable people is a step towards serfdom. These kinds of authoritarian interventions of our liberties for the “greater good” put us on the path towards fascistic motorvehicle licensing requirements or carbon fees.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
2 months ago
Reply to  Alice O'Connor

The ridiculous vax requirements were based on the totally wrong assumptions that these “vaccines” prevented you from catching or spreading Covid, which they clearly do not.

carrythebanner
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Perillo

Vaccines greatly decrease your likelihood of catching COVID, and greatly reduce its severity if you do. They don’t and never will offer 100% protection on their own, but they are an incredibly effective defense and especially effective when paired with social strategies like distancing, staying home when sick, etc. New variants introduce new problems for unvaccinated and vaccinated folks alike, but moreso for the former.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Perillo

Not any more. Pre-Delta they were very effective at preventing infection as well.

BA4 & 5? Not nearly as much, but still better than not.

The real way to prevent infecting others if you’re carrying the virus is to mask. The reduction in transmission percentage (based on 15minutes face to face, indoors) is huge.

You can tell the people in the world who have no regard for anyone but themselves – they ride buses, trains & planes unmasked.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  Alice O'Connor

No I don’t support segregationist vax policies that end up heavily impacting people of color.

David Hampsten
2 months ago

Great video!

Shonn Preston
Shonn Preston
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Moda center and a vague fareless square reference…pre 2010? Shame there wasn’t a bike involved. Just to date the video with which type of bike racks the busses had? Yea, not a bad little piece of creation.

David Hampsten
2 months ago
Reply to  Shonn Preston

Yeah, I’m not sure of the year either, good catch on the fareless square reference. There’s a Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, and Orange Line. Judging from the old transit mall bike racks and trash bins, I’d say no later than 2012. It wasn’t until the last few years that any public agency would be willing to release a video with swearing, so I can understand why it hasn’t been previously released.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Does this guy have any affiliation or approval from Tri-Met? Not that I can see.

Steve C
Steve C
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

The BMW song/video? It was posted in 2019 and looks like an art project probably not anything to do with official trimet. A HOP card info sign is visible at 1:34, so 2017 at the earliest.

Funny enough I’d heard the “BMW” commute in reference to Bart, Muni, Walk for Eastbay to SF commutes.

qqq
qqq
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

That video took me immediately to the opening sequence of the Bob Newhart show from the 70s, that shows Newhart walking from his downtown Chicago office to catch a commuter train, taking the train, then getting off and walking to his apartment–quite similar to the video.

In the 70s showing someone commuting that way was simply showing a slice of typical life (in Chicago anyway). It’s a bit sad that In contemporary Portland, making promotional videos showing the same thing makes sense because it’s something so outside of typical for so many people here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-PLEhiOeVA