Opinion: Mapps needs new approach if he wants to change traffic culture

Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps in April 2023. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Monday’s city hall press conference about a troubling rise in traffic deaths was a disappointment. I think I speak for many of Portlanders when I say we were expecting a plan of action and more concrete reassurances that City Hall feels our pain and shares an urgency for safer streets. It was a press conference that should have had an easel with a poster full of a bulleted list of actions that the Portland Bureau of Transportation and its Commissioner Mingus Mapps plan to take in order to defend our streets from dangerous drivers and restore respect among all road users.

But while Mapps lacked a new plan, he didn’t lack a new priority: culture change.

“The next thing that I’m leaning into is, how do we bring about this culture change?” Mapps shared in an interview just before he was whisked back into City Hall by a staffer.

I pressed Mapps several times during the conversation to tell me something new and significant his office and/or PBOT would do to assuage the deep, visceral fear many Portlanders have around using our streets. He wasn’t able (or willing?) to answer that. Instead, he shifted his response each time to this new focus on education and culture change. So let’s delve into it a bit more…

“We need to develop a strategy to consistently do education,” Mapps shared. “My goal is to do an education event, basically, every Thursday, Friday, where we remind people that traffic enforcement is going to be out, and remind people that if you drive drunk or you drive fast, the risk of you killing someone is increases dramatically. I think that piece needs to happen a lot more.”

Mapps continued: “Has our infrastructure actually gotten worse in the last couple of years? Have we been ripping out bike lanes and sidewalks? No. What has changed in the past couple years, frankly, is our enforcement strategy and the way we use our roads. We have made significant progress and turned the corner on enforcement. And now the third leg that I’m trying to build here is the culture change piece.”

I agree with Mapps. Culture eats everything. And right now our traffic culture is so toxic and dysfunctional that it’s erasing all of PBOT’s infrastructure investments, overwhelming their educational campaigns, scaring away bike riders, and lowering the standards for behavior on our streets. The big question is: What is Mapps’ plan to actually create the cultural shift we need? How far are he and his team willing to go to make it happen? Is PBOT even equipped to do this?

To effect real, lasting cultural change (given Portland’s current funding, enforcement and infrastructure constraints), a strong way to start is with great communications and framing. The fact that at a press event where he hoped to debut a focus on culture change, Mapps slipped and used the word “accident” (which absolves road users from taking responsibility for their actions) instead of crash — and where he avoided any tough talk directed at drivers and his remarks fell flat with safety activists who are on the front lines of this crisis — shows he’s not off to a stellar start.

Culture is created by people. Our traffic culture is terrible because many people act terribly when using our roads. But instead of a stern and serious tone targeting those people, Mapps voiced the typical, government “pretty-please-act-nicer-out-there” tone. That should change.

If we want any chance of shifting culture, leaders like Commissioner Mapps must be able to grab the bulls by the horns and speak clearly about the threat we are facing. And that threat is drivers and their cars. I know that fact is uncomfortable for Mapps and that there’s political peril in being perceived as anti-car, but we need to acknowledge this truth if we want to make progress.

Consider the remarks from Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Ty Engstrom at Monday’s press event as an example of what not to do.

“People feel entitled on our roadways,” Sgt. Engstrom said during his remarks. “All motorists, all pedestrians, all bicyclists.” Then, after hearing loud boos and disagreement from some in the crowd, he continued. “You are right, there are motorists out there that are driving in a way that kills people. Absolutely. But there are also people that are on bikes or pedestrians that need to be also more careful with what they’re doing. So it is a shared responsibility and a culture change that needs to happen.”

Read that again. One type of road user is killing other people. The others need to be more careful. Therefore we all have a shared responsibility to change? I strongly disagree. There’s a vast imbalance in that statement and our city leaders must start to recognize it. Cars and their drivers are the force that kills and maims and instills fear. When I get into my car — I don’t have to make a decision to be dangerous — the mere act of stepping into a vehicle with such dangerous and deadly potential, puts me in that position every time I drive.

The way we talk about traffic culture must accurately reflect the issue. Ignoring that cars and drivers are the main problem will tie us to the same outcomes we’ve always had.

So, what would look like to take a stronger stance against this highly problematic subset of drivers who are trashing our traffic culture? Or, in Mapps’ own words, “How do we bring about this culture change?”

Here are just a few ideas:

– PPB and PBOT could share more media content showing the rampant lawlessness on our streets. I’m not talking about street racing or high-profile hit-and-runs. I’m talking about the everyday stuff that’s been normalized. Like when people just blatantly run red signals, block bike lanes, don’t stop for someone using a crosswalk, turn right on red despite massive signs saying not to, drive without license plates, speed down neighborhood greenways; and so on and so forth.

– Commissioner Mapps or someone on his or PBOT’s staff could walk or bike in a location known to be dangerous or stressful. Have someone covertly record him biking around or trying to cross a major street. Then share the content and his first-hand experiences with the public via social media or a blog post.

– Make quick infrastructure changes at locations where people often drive dangerously and where a high-profile fatal or serious injury crash occurred — then tell the media about the bad driver behaviors, why they are so dangerous, and why the installation was necessary.

– Set higher standards for city employees using fleet vehicles by installing speed governors or publicizing a “no pass” pledge on neighborhood greenways. That modeling could influence Portlanders and shift the way people think about speed and residential street safety.

Culture change is hard. Politicians usually avoid it like the plague. But Mapps, being out of options and feeling pressure to do something, has reached for it. Maybe we can help him grab it and do something that will make a difference. I’d love to hear your ideas.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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9watts
9watts
9 months ago

I like your emphasis, Jonathan.
The one thing I would add—and it is maddening to recognize that it never makes any appearance—climate change is dooming our fossil fuel drenched infrastructure. We can and must grapple with that today and every day. Planning for our happy motordom to continue indefinitely is just reckless and myopic. Getting away from the horseless carriage is urgent for a bunch of overlapping and self-reinforcing reasons. a more people will die/are dying from climate change than from bad drivers.

Middle o the Road Guy
Middle o the Road Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

We lost that battle 20-30 years ago. Can’t stop it now.

Damien
Damien
9 months ago

We lost that battle 20-30 years ago. Can’t stop it now.

“The battle” implies a binary: we did it or we didn’t. Won or lost. This is false.

In reality, we’re going literally by degrees – the warmer it gets, the worse off we’ll be. The less warmer it gets, the less worse off. 3°C is better than 4°. 2.5° is better than 3°, etc.

The takeaway: There is always a worse outcome to prevent.

cMckone
cMckone
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

But wait that doesn’t absolve me of any responsibility to examine my own habits! Like “no ethical consumption under capitalism”

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

And we’ve been wildly successful so far. The worst outcome is also the most likely.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

“We can and must grapple with that today”

We are grappling with it.

Not as fast as I would like, but much better than I expected.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Please support that statement. How are we grappling with this issue, and, more specifically, who is the we in your sentence?

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Electrification of vehicles is the fastest (non-fantasy) way to make a big dent in our CO2 emissions. The technology is proven, is relatively affordable, is popular (thanks to Elon Musk), and is being subsidized by the government.

But you know all that.

aquaticko
aquaticko
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

But Americans aren’t buying them because gas and fossil-fuel powered vehicles are wickedly underpriced, and our charging infrastructure is inadequate. The fact that hybrid vehicles aren’t even in double-digit percentiles means that people still don’t view reducing fuel consumption or cost as major priority, despite how much they wretch and moan when gas prices go up.

There’s also the issue that automakers have good reason not to want to sell affordable EVs at any volume: the smaller the sticker price, the smaller the profit margin. That’s part of the reason they’ve marketed crossovers/SUVs/pickups so hard for the past 2 decades; they make way more on them than they did 2000lb hatchbacks and 3000lb sedans.

“Americans want big vehicles”; yes, so would everyone else if they were cheap to run. The only significant global markets where American-sized vehicles are popular and de rigeur are the oil states–where gas will probably always be cheap–and newly wealthy countries like South Korea, where low motorization (vehicles per person are about half the U.S.’) high fuel costs, and abundant public transit everywhere continue to make car ownership to be the expensive, largely superfluous luxury that it ought to be.

There are a million excuses for why we’ll never have good transit in the U.S., and other than the idiocy of our politics, none of them are good. We bulldozed cities for cars before; we could certainly bulldoze car infrastructure to make our country–and planet–more liveable.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

I take that to mean that you think Biden’s plans will not come to fruition. I guess we’ll see. When automakers are not allowed to sell gasoline powered cars in major markets such as California and many European countries, they will reduce their investment in making new models and the options will stagnate. Options for electric cars will continue to improve.

The truth is that people like electric cars better than gasoline powered cars. This is a very good thing. Charging infrastructure is improving every day, and the adoption of the Tesla charging standard by major competitors will help make charging more available.

When I look around and see what is happening, I don’t see a transit renaissance in our future. But I do see more electric cars on the street everyday.

Electrification has a lot of upsides, and it’s happening quickly. I don’t know why people on this forum aren’t more excited about it.

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It would help with emissions problems, but it wouldn’t help with traffic problems.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

And the degree to which it helps with CO2 emissions is less obvious than the boosters would like to think.

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Exactly. I’ve been seriously disappointed with how unhelpful it is with CO2.

The problem is, while personal transportation is a big contributor to CO2, it’s not like it’s the overwhelming majority. Even if we did the miraculous and somehow made all transportation zero carbon, we would still have so much work to do. And so, the fact that EV cars are not anywhere close to zero carbon (they’re only marginally better), it just makes it hard to be optimistic that in 10 years we might slowly start phasing out our horrible ICE vehicles with a modest improvement that has a definite cap on how much it can reduce CO2.

That’s what’s wrong with EVs as a solution. They’re only a bit better and there is no way to make them improve.

What’s hard about climate change is there is no one big target, it’s a bunch of little things. At least transportation is one pretty big target, but I don’t think EVs are much of a solution. Yeah we should use them where large vehicles (like a car) are needed, but they don’t solve climate change.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  John

I don’t think anyone believes that electrifying transportation will, in itself, solve climate change. But it is a necessary step.

aquaticko
aquaticko
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It does have a lot of upsides, but even Biden’s goal of 50% electric by 2030–which seems wildly optimistic even just in light of new car purchase rates, generally no more often than 6 years; EVs only have 6% market share as of 2022–leaves a lot of wiggle room for sub-optimal environmental outcomes. If 50% of that 50% of EVs are 6000lb crossovers with 75kwh battery packs and another 25% are 8000lb pickups with 100kwh battery packs, data from the CarbonCounter website suggest lifecycle CO2 emissions in excess of my 50mpg hybrid midsize sedan. This obviously doesn’t touch on things like PM2.5 from brakes and tires, which are a lot more in those heavier vehicles.

I agree that most people will find EVs suit them fine if they’re not given a choice, which I’d say they ultimately shouldn’t be if they’re looking for practical daily transportation. The problem is still that automotive infrastructure is extremely resource intensive, and the land use resulting from it isn’t financially sustainable, as evidenced by firms like Urban3.

I can’t imagine that 67%–or even 51%–of affected people across the country would simply stand by while we appropriately priced all in the externalities of automotive dependency, even though that’s what truly rational decision making (to say nothing of environmental or socioeconomic justice) would demand.

Ujkl
Ujkl
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Do you actually believe that California is going to follow through with prohibiting gasoline car sales? Do you think the supreme court would allow them to do it if they seriously tried?

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Ujkl

Do you actually believe that California is going to follow through with prohibiting gasoline car sales? 

Yes.

Ujkl
Ujkl
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Great. Twelve years to go, and then we’ll all be saved by the start of the gradual phasing out of internal combustion engines. Thank goodness no further action is needed in the meantime.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Ujkl

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but many people are not waiting until 2035 to switch to electric.

I have never said, and do not believe, that electrification of transport will be sufficient, but it is necessary, and it is happening right now.

Ujkl
Ujkl
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I’m one of the people that has made the switch from ICE to EV. But I’m under no illusion that my personal consumption choice that is contributing to the single digit percentages of American EV adoption is going to move the dial. Nothing short of a wholesale restructuring of American land use patterns and power generation infrastructure is going to get us anywhere close to net zero this century. And given the increasing headwinds that renewable power and transmission projects are increasingly facing, along with long-standing distaste for compact development patterns, I’d say we’ve already lost the game. Expecting American consumers and utility scale producers to do the right thing of their own volition is a pipe dream, through and through.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Ujkl

Expecting American consumers and utility scale producers to do the right thing of their own volition is a pipe dream, through and through.

It is. That’s why we need to bribe them. Which is just what Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act does.

aquaticko
aquaticko
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Nah, it provides an incentive to people who make enough money that really, they should be buying EVs anyway. The fact that this isn’t an automatic choice for people of means–people making very comfortably into 6 figures (I realize the cutoff is 300k for a couple), with access to more than one car if they should need to travel very long distances on occasion–points out the issue. People don’t think they personally need to do much of anything about the climate. To those people, I’d like to introduce a phrase from philosophy: necessary but not sufficient.

Yes, it’s true that some singular upper-middle class person buying an EV instead of a gas car isn’t going to single-handedly stop climate change, but it is a necessary step. People rail against the original corporate deflection that is the carbon footprint, but it’s not completely irrelevant; we all need to do our part. The thing people don’t like is the sense that they’re sacrificing something while others aren’t, and that’s where my frustration (and disgust) with American culture sets in.

Many other countries around the world have long been more parsimonious with their resource consumption, and so the culture around consumption is less grotesque. Whether it’s the less important factor of aesthetic modesty which ends up glorifying excess to a lesser degree and thereby discouraging the conspicuous consumption that is our huge SUVs and pickups and RVs and boats, or the provision of easier access to a less materially-intensive lifestyle making that lifestyle seem like less an outre choice, no other wealthy country in the world (that isn’t just a petro-state) has such a fetish for waste, and so moderating consumption is just the mainstream, common sense cultural value that it should be.

Ergo, to fix this problem, we need that which is apparently a no-go in American politics: we need sticks. Carrots will only appeal to those who want or need them. There need to be penalties–by way of higher taxes on fossil fuel vehicles and much higher fuel taxes–that make people think, hey, maybe I shouldn’t be buying a 20mpg pickup if it’s going to just be my commuter car. (We need more sticks in land use policy, too.)

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

I would totally support a significantly increased fuel tax. Even better would be a carbon tax. As people shift to electric vehicles, maybe raising the gas tax will become more politically palatable.

aquaticko
aquaticko
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I highly, highly doubt it. Until people start connecting the dots that driving private cars (of small or larger gas or large electric varieties) is bad for the environment, and– much more importantly–start chastising each other for behaving selfishly when doing so negatively, existentially effects people who can’t do anything about being on the sidelines, it’s always going to be about “personal choice”.

Even as the world’s burning, some people don’t like being told to do other than they might have done on their own, even if it’s beneficial to them personally. Oppositional defiant disorder is a thing; 21st century America’s culture consists, at this point, of little else of significance.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

I agree that people don’t like being told what to do. So let’s not use that approach.

Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act uses a system of incentives to encourage people to do what we want them to. And that approach had enough bipartisan support to get through Congress.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Oh, is that what a “market based solution” looks like?

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

It’s one way, yes.

Beck
Beck
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

However, its not just the emissions. its the LIFESTYLE. And, the tire residue is killing the salmon. With suburban america at 90 percent EV, there’s still going to be an awful lot of sloth. Which contributes to depletion, indirect pollution (yes, shockingly, production of evs create a LOT of pollution, and global instability, etc. etc. But yes, self driving electric cars are the pablum.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Beck

Tire residue is definitely a problem we need to contend with, and I see no reason why it isn’t completely solvable through boring old regulation.

Somebody else’s sloth is simply not on my list of concerns.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts
socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“Electrification of vehicles…is being subsidized by the government.”

So much for “market based solutions” I guess.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

I would also support a significantly increased gas tax. I’m crazy that non-absolutist sort of way.

Matt S
Matt S
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Taking money from people and making them believe they are going to “fix” things is a sick farce.

SD
SD
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Climate collapse and heat adaptation should be in the forefront of PBOT’s mission. They should leverage this heavily in reshaping infrastructure to prioritize rational human movement in Portland. Heat islands are a large part of PBOT’s infrastructure.

The emphasis on linear climate changes such as increasing temperature over time or sea level rise are easy to grasp and support with data but do not capture the likely possibility of stochastic changes that will occur as specific elements that buffer climate collapse.

We should be pulling out all of the stops now while we are not yet in complete crisis. Instead, we have self-interested people in decision-making positions, like Mapps, that are more interested in a mundane, forgettable political career than trying to use their agency to find solutions, prepare Portland and create resiliency.

Sous vide for steak is 130ºF. We aren’t far off from fatal temperatures. It is a real possibility that children today or their children will die from heat related causes or starvation.

X
X
9 months ago
Reply to  SD

Right, we’re using our natural resources, industrial capacity and financial power to provide individuals with an electric version of a thing that needs a $100,000 parking space. That effort is going to pacify roughly half the US market about the same time the Thwaites Glacier collapses and inundates New York City and a bunch of other population centers that happen to sit within five meters of the current sea level.

We don’t know how much time we have.

Mark Linehan
Mark Linehan
9 months ago

I find Portland driving culture to be very bi-modal: a lot of drivers stop when I’m trying to cross a street while riding on a greenway. Other drivers ignore basic driving rules: blowing red lights and making unsafe turns. Overall, it’s better than the driving culture in NY state (where I used to live), but that’s not saying much.

The emphasis on culture is important. Last fall, I was knocked off my bike by a driver while I was in the crosswalk while the walk sign was counting down. It was at a spot where PBOT had recently spent a ton of money installing better bike infrastructure. I’m happy for that improvement, but I can’t expect PBOT to do make that kind of investment at the many other places in the city that need it.

What I can hope for is that drivers observe the traffic laws.Reaching the drivers that don’t do that requires leadership from the city and from PBOT. Not just a one-time news event, but a sustained effort to reach all drivers in the city. I bet that would cost much less than putting in the bicycle infrastructure that we would like all over town. Even if just half of those unsafe driver start paying attention that would be a substantial improvement and well worth the effort.

A
A
9 months ago

Thanks for this – I agree completely with your assessment of Mapps and with your ideas for the changes that ought to be made. I feel compelled to add one thing: Better driver education. Since my days with the BTA, I have long advocated that 1) we need to change road culture in America, and 2) that change begins with driver education. I’m not talking about billboards, borchures, and “an education event, basically, every Thursday, Friday.” We must make driver education rigorous and expensive (I know there are considerations here), and the foundation must lie in respect for all road users. Spain reduced their roadway deaths by 80% over the last 30 or so years. They did it with a combination of infrastructure and driver education, but what really made the difference was the latter.

EP
EP
9 months ago

I’m all for “quick infrastructure changes” and I want Mapps to be empowered to do so. But, it seems like Mapps’ new outreach approach might slow things down, or potentially turn them around.

I’ve been following the impending closure of the northbound lane of NE 72nd through rose city golf course to turn it into bike/ped only. A vocal minority seems to think writing Mapps will change things. This is after YEARS of planning, meeting, etc. I don’t want vocal NIMBYS stopping progress.

His office’s response to someone opposed:
“I wanted to make sure to circle back with you.
We very much appreciate your feedback on the changes to NE 72nd, you bring up some very interesting potential changes/ alternatives. My understanding of the current situation is that, while this project is likely to move forward, our newly appointed PBOT director is working on pulling together a community meeting in order to engage in some dialogue with the neighborhood. Keep an eye out for communications on that!
Best Regards,
Jackson Pahl”

What I got (in favor):
“Thank you so much for reaching out. We very much appreciate hearing all sides of these issues, as it is easy to be swept up when these conversations get tense.
This has brought up another element of PBOT’s process that we have been hoping to dive into more deeply with the newly appointed director of PBOT, specifically how we engage with community before we begin large projects such as this.
Again, thank you so much for reaching out, and I apologize for the delayed response.

Best Regards,

Jackson Pahl ”

PS please write his office to voice your SUPPORT of the 79s Greenway project through Rose City Golf Course!

Commissioner Mingus Mapps, who is in charge of PBOT: mappsoffice@portlandoregon.gov, (503)
823-4682
Jackson Pahl, Constituent Services and Policy Assistant, Commissioner Mapps office, jackson.pahl@portlandoregon.gov
Shannon Carney, PBOT liason, Commissioner Mapps office,
Shannon.M.Carney@portlandoregon.gov
Winston Sandino, Project Manager, PBOT,
winston.sandino@portlandoregon.gov
Mayor Ted Wheeler,
mayorwheeler@portlandoregon.gov

EP
EP
9 months ago
Reply to  EP

*70s Neighborhood Greenway, disregard “79” misspelling above.
70s Neighborhood Greenway: NE Sacramento to SE Flavel | Portland.gov

Karl Dickman
9 months ago

But there are also people that are on bikes or pedestrians that need to be also more careful with what they’re doing. So it is a shared responsibility and a culture change that needs to happen.

Every intersection in the state is a crosswalk unless specifically blocked by a “crosswalk closed” sign. Drivers do not stop for me consistently. I stand as close to the lane as I dare, I look the straight in the eye and I hold out my hand in the stop motion. If it’s dark, I turn on my phone flashlight and wave it around. Good luck crossing at a stoplight, because 1 or 2 or even 3 drivers will blow through the red and you won’t be able to cross. I was nearly hit halfway through the crosswalk on SW 6th and Taylor by a driver blowing through a red light. A bunch of people saw it happen and were screaming at him to stop. I caught up to him at Broadway and told him when he sees a red light he needs to stop. He made a big show of magnimously hearing me out but his message to me was bascially, “oh well, some times you don’t notice the light is red, whaddaya gonna do.” I’ve been honked at by people who came nowhere close to hitting me but I guess wanted to tell me they didn’t want me in the crosswalk.
I’m being as careful as I can be, short of giving up my right to use the crosswalk as allowed by law. Is Engstrom saying that I need to go further, and only exercise my right to use the crosswalk when the road is completely clear and there’s no chance of a collision with a careless driver? If so, that goes way too far beyond his framing of shared responsibility. It’s a blanket permission for drivers to ignore the law.
Now, maybe you say “he doesn’t mean you, he’s talking about the other pedestrians, the bad ones who are looking at their phones.” So what? I never look at my phone when I’m waiting to cross a street, I’m looking at traffic. The fact that some people look at their phones while walking doesn’t do a thing to address the problem that when I want to cross the street at a crosswalk, drivers won’t let me.

The Clear-Eyed Realist™
The Clear-Eyed Realist™
9 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

Is Engstrom saying that I need to go further, and only exercise my right to use the crosswalk when the road is completely clear and there’s no chance of a collision with a careless driver? 

I’m not sure about Engstrom, but where traffic speeds are high (such as Powell or outer Stark or wherever), I never start crossing until I’m sure cars are going to stop.

I’m less concerned about my legal rights in this situation than I am about getting killed. I don’t see it as my responsibility to do this; the driver is still responsible for stopping, but I’m not risking my life to make the point.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

Every intersection in the state is a crosswalk unless specifically blocked by a “crosswalk closed” sign. Drivers do not stop for me consistently….

This complaint is so 2018. In this post-pandemic era of disinhibited violence, I see drivers behaving recklessly just about every time I walk or roll.

…short of giving up my right to use the crosswalk as allowed by law.

A law that has never been enforced is not a right — it’s a farce. Even the so-called “progressive” city of portland has mocked the “every corner is a crosswalk” statute by intentionally allowing drivers to park adjacent to corners.

Arturo P
Arturo P
9 months ago

The good thing for Mapps that there is no way he can do a worse job than his predecessors, Eudaly and Hardesty. Unfortunately they left the bureau in shambles.

Steve Cheseborough (Contributor)
Chezz
9 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

Uh, no. Hardesty improved safety significantly in at least one neighborhood, look that up if you don’t remember.
Mapps had a big opportunity the other day and offered us absolutely nothing. That is not an improvement.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

Removing that deadly traffic circle on NE 7th?

JM
JM
9 months ago

I’m a staunch supporter of setting the example you want others to follow (like following traffic laws) and am amazed at the brazenness of people sometimes. There have been numerous times I’ve been on my bike slowing down at a traffic signal, when the cyclist behind me speeds past and blows through the light. I’ve also seen pedestrians casually walk across the street as if they have a protective force field around them.

But why am I shaking my head at that behavior? Because our streets are designed in a way that prioritize vehicular movement. We have to meander around a dangerous flowing river that means losing our lives if we get lost in its current. Sure, we can put some stones in the river to slow the flow a bit, but it is still dangerous.

I agree with Mapps we need a culture change. We’ve been needing it for some time now. But I’m not sure he grasps the weight, the magnitude, of the change. We can’t keep putting stones in the river, we need to completely alter our vision of what a city is. How it operates. How people get from here to there. Where we live. It needs to come from the government just as much as it comes from the people. Everyone needs to be on board, from law enforcement to activists, to politicians, to bureau directors, to all other stakeholders.

What could the streets look like if they weren’t for private vehicular transport and storage? How many buildings could be repurposed from empty garages to interesting spaces to visit and live in? How would our mental health change as we rediscover our neighborhoods on foot? And what would a world look like where instead of cars being the default, the one thing you need to survive in this country, they are merely a tool. One tool of many. One that doesn’t have a place in an urban environment.

But until we get there, I just want to feel safe riding around town.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  JM

There have been numerous times I’ve been on my bike slowing down at a traffic signal, when the cyclist behind me speeds past and blows through the light

Why do I run red lights?

In my experience, it’s far safer to run a red when there is no cross traffic than to wait for a green where some numbskull driver blows through at speed after my light has turned green. Morover, by running the light on a red one avoids the right hook on a green.

Surly Ogre
surly
9 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Better to be wrong and alive than to be right and dead.
If the intersection is clear, I am rolling through it.

aquaticko
aquaticko
9 months ago
Reply to  surly

*** Moderator: deleted first line ***

Do you drive on the other side of the road to get around stopped traffic because you might be rear-ended by someone being inattentive behind you, but you can see the drivers heading straight for you, so you can avoid them? It’s this line of thought that leads to the kind of every-man-for-himself chaos that simply does not work with cars. Ironically, it mostly works for pedestrians, and it can work with light bicycle traffic. But cars? Neither physics nor chance care for your “superior” driving skills and judgment.

Driving like you are is going to kill you or someone else. Stop.

Honestly, the thing that’s struck me most out here coming from the east coast is how in-my-own-little-world most drivers are here. I don’t know if it’s the ubiquitous deep-tinted windows or all the well-documented driver-comforting long/wide/straight stroads that lull you all into complacency, but you need to change your attitudes before you really hurt someone.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

Almost certain that surly was posting about cycling.

When I drive, for example, I almost always drive substantially under the speed limit and am scrupilously attentive to traffic lights and stop signs. Everything that I can do to make driving slower and more frustrating by following the letter of the law, I will do.

Sorry…not sorry at all.

SD
SD
9 months ago

It’s “groundhog’s day” at PBOT.
We’re back to education, which never works, again.

It is always so painful to watch the new PBOT commissioner trot out ideas that have failed repeatedly and everyone else rejected years ago. Even worse, to say these things at an important press conference as if they are new ideas.

This is so embarrassing for Portland and PBOT.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  SD

Mapps and PBOT are the ones who need education and a change of culture.

The problem is that our city and its streets are designed for the kind of dangerous car use we see; hundreds of thousands of people in cars everyday in Portland are going to change their behaviors with an educational campaign?

Truly embarrassing, as you said.

Crossing the Street Shouldn’t Be Deadly (but it is)

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  SD

I agree with you, but think of it from Mapps’ perspective. If you were in charge of PBOT and were running for mayor, what changes would you make? He needs to seem effective, but also can’t piss too many people off.

In a year and a half, PBOT will be in the hands of some unelected manager with minimal political oversight. What are the prospects for radical action then?

Steve Cheseborough (Contributor)
Chezz
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Our job is to try to make the streets safer. Not to help Mapps look good.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

Yes, of course. But you aren’t running PBOT.

surly ogre
surly ogre
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

zero prospect under an unelected city manager/administrator (who will certainly be under maximum political oversight) unless they have a three-year contract pain in full if they are fired by the council for doing their job.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  surly ogre

“unless they have a three-year contract pain in full if they are fired by the council for doing their job”

And if they have that rare combination of being a talented and proven manager and a committed transportation revolutionary.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  surly ogre

who will certainly be under maximum political oversight

By whom?

By a mayor who has no ability to discipline or dismiss the city manager.

By a fractious 12 member council that does not have any direct oversight role?

Moreover, the belief that an unelected city manager will … somehow … be less reactionary than the feckless city councils we’ve had in the past is pure hopium.

Will
Will
9 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Article 4. The Mayor
Sec. 2-401. Duties.

(f) Appoint the City Administrator, subject to Council confirmation, and give direction to the Administrator. The Mayor may remove the Administrator and must advise the Council before removal. The Council may remove the Administrator for cause by the affirmative vote of at least nine (9) Councilors. If the office of the Administrator is vacant, the Mayor must fulfill the duties of the Administrator until the office is filled.

Mike Fearl
Mike Fearl
9 months ago

At least he’s got new ideas: Lean In! Cheryl Sandberg did that ten years ago and it was trash then. I’m filled with confidence that he’s not just bullshitting. /s

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike Fearl

What are those new ideas? I didn’t hear any,

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
9 months ago

The day after the press conference, I was using a marked crosswalk to cross SE Powell at Creston Park. Several vehicles had already stopped for me to use the crosswalk (there is no light, so the presence of a pedestrian in the crosswalk is the indication to stop), when a CITY OF PORTLAND truck barrelled through the crosswalk. I reported this to the city with exact location, time, and description of vehicle, and was told they could not identify the driver because they have so many vehicles on the streets. I suggested they communicate with EVERY city staffer who drives a City of Portland vehicle, notifying them to stop for pedestrians in crosswalk, obey all speed limits, and all traffic laws. Either this city staffer doesn’t know the law or doesn’t care about observing the law. I got no response to this request. Commission Mapps actually cited Powell as one of the most dangerous roads in Portland but claimed he could do nothing about it because it’s not the city’s jurisdiction. Yet EVERY VEHICLE DRIVEN BY A CITY EMPLOYEE IN THEIR WORK FUNCTION is within the city’s purview. Bottom line: if the city cannot “change the culture” by having its own employees obey traffic laws, what can they do?

Middle o the Road Guy
Middle o the Road Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

I particularly enjoy how the city lectures us about climate change, but ma t city vehicles sit idling for long periods of time when they are not moving.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago

That is not the prerogative of city vehicles/employees. With smartphones and A/C so ubiquitous this has become endemic. I see/hear it now all over the place.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

The city council signed “climate emergency” and “100% renewable” declarations but the city of portland has failed to make substantial progress towards these goals and you defend them?

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I don’t think I was defending them; I am however inclined to give some public servants the benefit of the doubt -for a while at least.

Carrie
Carrie
9 months ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Egads Lois. I was going to chime in with my example of a PBOT employee not fully stopping at a greenway stop sign and scaring me as I rode by, but yours is much, much worse.

mc
mc
9 months ago

NO! NO! NO!

The problem isn’t cultural, the problem is that there’s NO CONSEQUENCES FOR ILLEGAL & DANGEROUS DRIVING.”

Yes, almost every time I ride my bike someone casually or accidentally going through a red light, a stop sign, trying to make a left turn in front of me. When I used to drive a car, I never wanted to get a ticket for a traffic violation b’cuz it was expensive and put points on my license that might lead to restrictions or suspension.

The motorist who hit me in x-walk in 2018 on my way home from work, broke 3 laws in front of many eye witnesses in cars who were stopped at the x-walk just a few feet away from were I was hit. The non-traffic division cop that responded wrote no citations.

Not issuing citations to motorists by the PPB has been going on for a long f#cking time.

If Mapps wants to have an “educational campaign”, hold class in the street and issue a citation every time someone casually violates motor vehicle traffic laws. Motorists are maiming & killing people without consequence.

The only culture change needed here, is if you break the law, endanger or hurt other road users, either willfully or through ignorance of the law, you’re going to feel some pain through citations & fines.

The laws are there to keep all road users safe, when you don’t abide by them, you make the roads unsafe. You want safe roads, enforce the laws that make them safe.

Any kind of safe street system re-design is gong to take decades & billions of dollars. Educating motorists about they’re legal responsibility to operate a motor vehicle safely and according to the laws can start NOW!

Middle o the Road Guy
Middle o the Road Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  mc

Part of “culture” is which behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable. Generally, society ma!es the unacceptable ones painful in some aspect.

We don’t have much of that now.

Scott Kocher
9 months ago

PBOT is engineering. PPB is enforcement. DMV is education. Those agencies have no teeth and no authority outside their assigned role. If Cmr. Mapps wants to go down the hall to lean on PPB or to Salem to help DMV to do a better job he can do that on his own time, but it’s not the job we hired him to do. And it’s not harmless. Refocusing on “culture” takes his energies and public attention away from addressing PBOT’s failures to meet its most basic responsibilities.

Fred
Fred
9 months ago
Reply to  Scott Kocher

I had the same thought, Scott. It’s actually ridiculous that Mapps is trotted out to address unsafe driving behaviors. Yes, PBOT’s infrastructure decisions for the past 100 years have enabled those unsafe behaviors, but Mapps can’t change the infrastructure overnight.

I loved Eudaly’s practice of putting those large flashing signs at the scene of any fatality and letting them flash at drivers for 30 or 60 days. Pure Portland performance art that changed nothing.

mc
mc
9 months ago

In a quick Google search, I just came across this KOIN News article, ‘Changing behaviors’: PPB’s Traffic Division returns after a 2-year hiatus’
“Since its return, it has issued more than 1,800 citations and warnings.”

“One driver was cited for going through a stop sign on Portland’s eastside. Traffic Division Officer Michael Abramson said “he didn’t even tap his brakes.”

“He first said he thought he stopped, then he said he was distracted talking to his kids in the backseat,” Abramson said. He then told the driver, “’I’m going to work with you though. There’s an option to take a high risk drivers safety course.’”
Abramson says a big goal of his work is to change driving behavior for the better.”

Yes, you change behavior through consequences. Those behavioral changes create a new culture that is safer.

Reference – https://www.koin.com/news/portland/changing-behaviors-ppbs-traffic-division-returns-after-a-2-year-hiatus/

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  mc

That’s just one person, and who knows if the safety course will even work. Check out this video to see how a community changes driving behavior through changes in infrastructure: Crossing the Street Shouldn’t Be Deadly (but it is)

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
9 months ago

I thought it had been demonstrated to everyone’s satisfaction decades ago that the way you change culture is by changing how people behave, not the other way around. People didn’t stop smoking in bars because we changed the culture. But today no one would even think about lighting up in a crowded room. Its part of the culture.

In any case, people are killed by motor vehicles. They are designed to drive 90+ mph or more and are operating on city streets designed for 45+ mph but only safe at 5 mph for anyone not in them. They have bumpers to protect them and other motor vehicles but do nothing to protect humans not in them.

If we start talking about what we can do to make motor vehicles safe for pedestrians we will start getting somewhere. We should begin by preventing them from accelerating at more than 1 mph per second. Then prevent them from operating above pedestrian speeds on city streets. Finally require they have sufficient padding to protect anyone they bump into. Suddenly zero deaths is part of the culture.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

The smoking comparison is spot-on. The first step to fixing the harms caused by car dependency is admitting we have a problem:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2022/09/02/driving-is-the-new-smoking-lessons-from-americas-public-health-victory-over-tobacco

eawriste
eawriste
9 months ago

This is such a fantastic article, and this is weird: I was essentially about to write that article as a post. Notice if you read this we are still in the “Admit you have a problem” phase. There are quite a lot of parallels. For example, we have a lot of research on safe street design, the cost of parking etc., but that evidence and best practices are rarely used in community meetings, or disseminated in any meaningful way in the media. The moment where the surgeon general reads “Smoking and Health” in 1964 has yet to happen with respect to transportation.

The meta-review (love it) indicated two of the most effective means for addressing smoking as a public health problem:

1 Increasing cost
2 Banning smoking in specific places

Notice education was included, but was clearly not as effective based on the data.

The big part of this that I found interesting was convenience. That means redesigning streets to target the movement of people and the modes we want, not based solely on car counts.

So what’s effective? What could Mapps/PBOT be doing tomorrow?

1) Under the increasing cost category: traffic cameras.
2) Under the banning in places category: redesigning streets to exclude/limit car use. With smoking this included laws that limited smoking indoors and x feet from a doorway. With street design this means using existing materials (e.g., boulders and paint) to redistribute space to create a separated network in a short time span. This is the part of the solution that is largely MIA with Mapps and PBOT.

But then again we are still in the denial phase, waiting for that surgeon general to make his talk.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

We are not in a “denial” phase. We are in an acceptance phase. People are being killed and we consider it an acceptable price for the value of using an automobile.There no doubt was value from smoking, but it is not remotely similar to the value people get from using an automobile. If we want to stop vehicles killing people we need to dramatically reduce their value. That will come only at great cost to everyone, not just a handful of recalcitrant users as in the case of tobacco.

Higher tobacco prices quite explicitly targeted young people. It worked in part because it made starting smoking more expensive for young people targeted by tobacco companies..When a pack of cigarettes cost 30 cents, the same price as soda at that time, it was easy to get the young people hooked on a pack a day habit. But if they didn’t get hooked when they were young, they usually never got hooked.

High prices slowly reduced the number of smokers and with it the political costs of raising prices even further. It didn’t hurt that tobacco taxes provided a revenue stream and declining use required higher taxes to sustain that same revenue stream.That turned into a death spiral for the revenue stream, but also for tobacco use in general.

eawriste
eawriste
9 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

Article from the Atlantic

“The critical reason, which is the last event in the crash causal chain, was assigned to the driver in 94% of the crashes.” Most people would agree with this quote from the NHTSA 2021 memo. This is the most popular statistic circulated by the media as well as by DOTs and PDs across the country. That’s why education and manned enforcement resonate so well with so many people as a potential solution for this epidemic, and why Mapps proposed both.

The problem with that statistic is in the actual memo that was released “Although the critical reason is an important part of the description of events leading up to the crash, it is not intended to be interpreted as the cause of the crash.” What does that mean? In essence we ignore things like existence of separated infrastructure, lane width, car height etc.

“Blaming human error alone is convenient, but it places all Americans in greater danger.” A lot of people benefit from this narrative (e.g., insurance companies, politicians, police departments, even individuals) attributing driver error to crashes. So when we say we are willing to accept road deaths, I’m doubtful a lot of people actually understand what that means. Road deaths are easily preventable with data based designs (e.g., PBLs) and methods (e.g., speed cameras).

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Yeah, it also benefits drivers to believe in the human error narrative because it allows them to think of themselves as careful drivers who would never make that mistake.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago

Tobacco smoke kills many non-smokers *and* people who smoke. Healthy air is really a “shared responsibility”.

Matt Villers
Matt Villers
9 months ago

Unfortunately there’s no amount of education & enforcement that will keep us safe on streets that aren’t designed for safety. Even the most well-intentioned drivers can and do make mistakes, and they’re bound to do so on streets that were built to prioritize speed and convenience at the cost of safety.

The effect of education and enforcement is equivalent to adding more chambers to the revolver to make russian roulette safer. Sure it’s worth doing, but it’s a mitigation measure, not a solution.

If we really want traffic deaths to end, we need to be honest with ourselves that slapping a 20mph sign and some cameras on a street that was designed for 50mph isn’t going to get us there. Changing the design must remain the ultimate goal, even if it takes time and effort and intermediate steps to get there.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Matt Villers

There is no street design that is safe with several tons of steel traveling on it at 20 miles per hour. Particluarly when those tons of steel are controlled by fallible human beings. Things may improve when vehicles are all self-driving. But given our cultural priorities, it is doubtful they will be designed for the safety of non=passengers.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

“it is doubtful they will be designed for the safety of non=passengers.”

I think the prospect of lawsuits is going to take care of that problem. I think people are going to see automated vehicles as a fundamentally different thing than cars today, more like products that are under direct corporate control.

And with all the sensors those things pack, we’ll have a much better idea what actually happened.

One of the great things about robot cars is that they will offer us a unique opportunity to reset expectations.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

If lawsuits would take care of the problem we would already have solved it. I think once vehicle’s are totally predictable that the more likely cultural change is to entirely blame the crash victim for causing the collision by acting in an unpredictable fashion.We don’t blame trains for killing people who are on the tracks.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

“If lawsuits would take care of the problem we would already have solved it.”

I think you are not accounting for the shift that will occur when one company is responsible for both manufacturing and operating a vehicle, and all details of a crash are known. I believe that automated cars will be available primarily through a taxi model, and so drivers of vehicle design are much different than if you are trying to sell a vehicle that matches a person’s self-identity.

If the vehicle designer is likely to be found liable for any fatal crashes, there is a strong incentive to make sure that if everything else fails, the vehicle will be as minimally dangerous to those that strikes as possible. That is a very different incentive than governs things today.

Your train analogy is interesting. We do blame people for being on the tracks, but we do not have laws that say the train must stop for pedestrians. We do have such rules for cars, and cars operate on public property, not private property.

David
David
9 months ago

You make some great points . I drive down 122nd every day. And every day I have to dodge someone going the wrong way in a bike lane or just plain riding in the middle of the road and crossing ( not at an intersection). I worry that I may hit one of these people. Today a bike rider hit the button on a cross walk and 3 blocks away I saw the flashing lights and I stopped to let him cross the four lanes plus the middle lane. I was the only one. But I thought wow that worked. My beef is with @pbot. On Glisan from 102nd to 148 the traffic pattern changes 4 times. On Powell at 122nd there are now 5 stop lights. It is confusing and dangerous. I drive these streets everyday and it is still confusing. If I’m trying to figure out which light is mine I might not see the guy on the bike. That scares me. And it should scare the guy on the bike too.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
9 months ago
Reply to  David

Sorry, not buying this argument. I’ve driven both locations numerous times recently. What has changed is that drivers can no longer blow through on autopilot; you actually have to think about what you’re doing, which ALL drivers should be doing ALL THE TIME. But if it’s so confusing for you that you’re sincerely afraid you’ll hit someone, I’d suggest you shouldn’t be driving.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

You both seem to be saying the same thing. One is saying its confusing, the other is saying you have to pay careful attention. A design which requires people to always pay careful attention is inherently unsafe.

aquaticko
aquaticko
9 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

Tell that to all the little 1 lane roads with no clear zones, terrible visibility, and lots of pedestrian/cyclist traffic. This isn’t designing so that “people” pay attention; this is designing so that drivers do not feel welcome, and accordingly drive very slowly; “20 is plenty” (as they say in the U.K.) suggests that even lower speeds should be considered acceptable. Vehicle-to-non-vehicle accidents are unusual and almost never fatal on the slow, curvy little backroads of Britain, the cramped residential side streets of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, and the old city centers of continental Europe.

Automobile-hostile streets need to become the norm across the U.S., immediately if not sooner.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

Drivers are on auto-pilot for much of what they need to do in the car. If we build better infrastructure, drivers “naturally” adapt to the safer roads. It’s been studied and proven over and over again in European cities.

mc
mc
9 months ago

that threat is drivers and their cars. I know that fact is uncomfortable for Mapps and that there’s political peril in being perceived as anti-car,”

I understand that there are some very outspoken “anti-car” people & groups in Portland but people who drive cars are being injured, killed and having their cars damaged or destroyed. This keeps up and everyone’s auto insurance is going to go up too.

Motor vehicles are inherently dangerous, that’s why we have licensing, age restrictions, physical health requirements, insurance, motor vehicle laws and enforcement of those laws.

If we can’t talk about motorists egregiously breaking laws and killing people w/o concerns of “anti-car” perception than either public / transportation safety has become way too political.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
9 months ago

Lets be clear, motor vehicles are not inherently dangerous. They are dangerous because they are designed primarily for speed and second for the safety, comfort and convenience of the people traveling in them. The safety of the public is far down on the list, somewhere below their esthetics. That is the cultural decision we have made.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

There was and is a concerted effort to foist cars and car-centered infrastructure upon us; like all technologies the “decision” to adopt automobiles was ensconced in an economic context. “Detroit” wanted and got everyone to buy their product with the help of our pay-to-play officials. Check out this 1950s pro-car propaganda.

Steve Cheseborough (Contributor)
Chezz
9 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

“We” have not made that decision. It benefited car, oil, insurance and road-construction industries, so they lobbied and bribed politicians to fix it for them, and propagandized us to believe it was fine.
“We” must overturn that decision.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

People don’t like their cars because of propaganda, they like their cars because they give them the ability to travel quickly from place to place when they want to go with some modicum of privacy and comfort.

aquaticko
aquaticko
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Sure, but in cities/regions that are well-planned–i.e., not North American cities–people can travel place to place just as well (or better) without a car. Public transit–yes, even buses–can be comfortable, and especially with work-from-home, we’re up to our ears in privacy. Lacking public places to gather is a far more serious deficit here, even if our culture tells us it’s not.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

“people can travel place to place just as well (or better) without a car”

Yes, it is true that a city can be designed to work with transit better than most American cities do. But we have American cities, and they’re already built, and we have to deal with the reality that that presents us.

Most Americans find that transit does not serve them well, and we can see that by the fact that most choose not to use it.

In another post you wrote that what can be built can be unbuilt, and while that is true, it would require huge amounts of money and political will, neither of which is available at even a tiny fraction of the level required. Most people don’t even think this is a problem that needs solving, much less one that it deserves the level of investment and commitment that would be needed to address.

I see no reason to think that our current form of public transit has much of a future.

What we need is a form of transit that people would want to take, and would find preferable to driving.

aquaticko
aquaticko
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

What we need is a form of transit that people would want to take, and would find preferable to driving.

There is none that works well with how our cities are designed. Cars and mass transit both require and propagate urban planning and design that work to their specific modalities, and the two do not work well together. Autonomous electric vehicles that function as car shares are, if they are a form of “public” transit, still wildly inefficient for that purpose. We built our resource-intensive public infrastructure around private transportation vehicles; public transportation vehicles (buses, trains) are as poorly suited to that paradigm as cars are to transit-oriented cities.

I’m not saying I think there is the political will for significant change. At this point, to be honest, medium-term doomerism seems like the only logical belief. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t bug me to see people who still have hope advocating for illogical things.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

“Autonomous electric vehicles that function as car shares are, if they are a form of “public” transit, still wildly inefficient for that purpose.”

It depends what you are optimizing for. They are likely to be less energy efficient than a world where everyone takes transit, if such a world could ever exist, but they are likely to be more energy efficient than TriMet is today, and they could be very efficient from a human time and energy consumption standpoint.

Again, I agree that if our cities had a different design, different transportation solutions might open up. But we are starting from a place where almost all American cities are optimized for individual vehicle transport, and automated cars can leverage existing infrastructure and serve existing land uses. We can still use buses and trains where they make sense. We can still change land use where it makes sense. We can still build more pedestrian and bike friendly roads where they make sense.

I think medium term optimism is just as warranted as medium term pessimism. We may be on the cusp of a technological revolution that will allow us to reorient our entire relationship with cars, addressing currently intractable problems with safety, parking, urban land availability, pollution, noise, accessibility, crime, and more.

Surely that is a reason for hope.

Matt Villers
Matt Villers
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Automation is vaporware unless there’s massive government intervention to tip the scales. Even if (and it’s a big if) all the safety issues can be addressed, the cost of adding the tech to formerly human-operated vehicles is substantial, and I don’t see a lot of people tripping over themselves to spend thousands extra on what’s already the second most expensive thing in their lives for the perk of not being in control of their vehicle.

The bigger problem is that even setting aside that and the question of energy efficiency, and the question of safety, car-centric transit also fails from the perspective of space and cost efficiency.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever spent time living in Southern California, but public transit is virtually non-existent there and as a result it’s common to spend 2-3+ hrs *every day* sitting in stop-and-go traffic. There’s nothing convenient or comfortable about that – it’s pure misery.

Meanwhile, the cost of a car has exploded to the point that in many parts of the country it’s comparable to housing. Supply is unable to keep up with demand, and it’s sending the price of cars through the roof. This *will* be reflected in the cost of any sort of car-sharing or taxi services, automated or otherwise. Those who can afford those immense costs may have something to be optimistic about, but what of those who cannot?

And the beautiful thing is that both of these problems get solved in the same way – by ensuring viable alternatives exist. Portland streets avoid being a California-style traffic hellscape precisely because the breadth of alternative options allow people to replace 200k+ car trips a day.

The fact is that even if you prefer to drive, your life is better when fewer people are driving. When’s the last time you were happy to encounter another car on the road?

TBH I feel like if they want political will they’d get a lot of mileage out of framing the issue that way: Pictures of endlessly jammed freeways, interviews with drivers who spend hours in traffic daily, a comparison of going 20mph on a street with a bus/bike lane vs 6mph in bumper-to-bumper traffic. “Support car alternatives because they get other peoples’ cars off the road and out of your way”

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Matt Villers

I’ll keep this short, but try to hit the highlights.

Safety: So far, it looks very good (not counting Musk’s fake automation, which is a menace), and may be why SF is expanding the area and conditions where it is allowed to operate.

Cost/space: The most logical deployment model seems to be fleet/taxi service. If the uptake is there, there’s no reason why smaller vehicles won’t be deployed.

Traffic jams: They suck, but are much better when you can do something else other than drive.

Alternatives: Keep on advocating for conventional transit; By addressing the many shortcomings in buses, I think driverless taxis will prove much more popular, but we can keep operating buses along as there are riders. They’ll eventually be driverless as well, and could adopt more dynamic routes, which could make them much more useful. Personally, I’ve largely given up on transit (not because of coming robots, but because of fundamental inadequacy), but you don’t have to.

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

These completely miss the point! Bumper to bumper traffic does not go away when you add in automation, it just doesn’t. Just as many trips happen, maybe more if it gets any more convenient (i.e. “you can do something else”). And for a taxi fleet to work, they need to be shuttling around all the time (i.e. sometimes empty), not just point to point, which means more cars on the road.

You may think it’s hard to imagine better mass transit. It is hard. No harder than the conversion to car-oriented transit which was vastly more expensive than what it would cost to go back. But crucially, it’s the only solution. The ONLY way to avoid California-style 6 lanes bumper to bumper traffic is to stop adding roads, start replacing car lanes with bus lanes and rails. That’s it. That is a necessary condition to addressing climate change, traffic, safety, all of it. It is a fundamental requirement. Any head in the clouds dreams of automation are cope or denialism.

Damien
Damien
9 months ago
Reply to  John

Just as many trips happen, maybe more if it gets any more convenient (i.e. “you can do something else”).

Herein lies the critical point for why technology cannot solve a behavioral problem: Whatever we gain in efficiency from technology, people simply consume more to compensate. There is no future without a lot of misery that doesn’t involve curbing consumption. It’s a Physics 101 problem

Will
Will
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

Right, the economists call it Jevon’s Paradox. For things like individual automobility, our demand will always be higher than what can be spatially accommodated in an urban area. Other modes of travel (by foot/bike/public transit) can be consumed much more readily before running up against the same spatial constraints.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Will

William Stanley Jevons, and even more so Ivan Illich, had loads of great stuff to say about these dynamics. Both worth reading at length.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

It’s a Physics 101 problem

Which can be solved with an Econ 101 problem.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

To clarify, since editing is broken, I meant “the solution to an Econ 101 problem.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  John

You may think it’s hard to imagine better mass transit.

I can imagine it alright, I just don’t think it is feasible, financially, politically, or even environmentally (given current conditions).

And in case it isn’t clear, I am not advocating building/expanding roads (I have done more than many folks here in service of stopping the Rose Quarter expansion and Columbia bridge projects).

Nor am I advocating against improving transit. I just don’t think it can achieve the goals it needs to achieve without moving to smaller vehicles, available more of the time, serving more origin/destination pairs… and pretty soon you end up at automated taxis. Which have the additional strength of not needing to convince a skeptical public to trust the government and commit to paying for something they don’t see themselves using, and might start being more broadly available in 10-15 years, which is basically tomorrow in the transit planning world.

But I am always interested in other perspectives. Please share your ideas for other how we achieve your vision of a functional mass transit system that politicians might be willing to champion and the public might be willing to pay for.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“Automated cars can leverage existing infrastructure…”

Yes, our currently crumbling road infrastructure will easily accommodate thousands of new EVs that don’t pay gas tax or parking fees, along with all the existing cars that will still be driven because the roads are already built. And when the roads need repair, we can just go even further into debt to cover the cost. (Yes, that debt could have been used more productively to build out an efficient mass transit network, but that’s just too infeasible as we all know.)

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

Buses need roads as well, and they also don’t pay gas tax and parking fees, so more transit wouldn’t solve the problem you are describing.

build out an efficient mass transit network

I would love an efficient mass transit network. Seriously. I just haven’t seen any realistic ideas for how to get one.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

More transit by itself won’t fix the street maintenance backlog, but it will enable more productive land use. More productive land use will pay for better street maintenance, among other public goods.

“U.S. urban population densities would be 27 percent lower without transit systems to support compact development, causing these cities to consume 37 percent more land area in order to house their current populations”: https://www.planetizen.com/node/75650

Individual robotaxis replacing personal cars will have the opposite effect, encouraging more sprawl and yes, more highway expansions, just as cars already do.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

You seem to be arguing what should be, and I am arguing what I think will be.

I don’t necessarily disagree with your vision, it’s just not clear how or if your vision is possible given political and economic constraints, whereas my vision seems inevitable.

Maybe if you think of robotaxis as small buses with flexible routing and scheduling you’ll like them better.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Sure, and maybe if I think of a day-old Big Mac as a filet mignon I’ll like it better also. But it isn’t, and I won’t. The problems of personal vehicle use don’t go away just because someone else (taxicabs) or no one else (autonomous cars) is driving.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

What is it about buses that you like and taxis that you dislike? Is it purely a question of size? Most buses drive around mostly empty most of the time, which seems kind of wasteful. Is it the flexibility of the route? The fact you can get one when you want one?

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Besides the land-use benefits I already mentioned, one thing I like about buses compared to self-driving taxis is that they already exist. Yes, they are sometimes underused, as are most private cars. The average car driving around two-thirds empty seems a lot more wasteful to me: https://css.umich.edu/publications/factsheets/mobility/personal-transportation-factsheet

“If you consider greenhouse gas emissions from the full life cycle of each transport mode…As soon as you reach the average of nine passengers the benefits become clear.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-11-21/can-we-please-stop-pretending-cars-are-greener-than-transit

“Transit, when it is well utilized, then, produces important benefits for the community: air-quality improvements, less land consumption than an auto-dependent transportation system, lower energy requirements, and lower accident costs…There is no monetary market for these broadly distributed public goods produced by mass transportation.” https://www.britannica.com/topic/mass-transit/The-benefits-of-urban-mass-transit

“By providing more walking and biking opportunities and making some journeys by car shorter, the land use effect of transit produces land use benefits: an aggregate 8 percent decrease in VMT, transportation fuel use, and transportation GHG emissions in U.S. cities.” https://www.planetizen.com/node/75650

“Urban and high-speed rail hold ‘major promise to unlock substantial benefits’…which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, congestion and air pollution.” https://www.carbonbrief.org/eight-charts-show-how-aggressive-railway-expansion-could-cut-emissions/

“The benefits also include less urban sprawl, better air quality, and fewer traffic accidents. And a strong public transit system is better for an area’s poorest residents, who can least afford a private car.” https://climate.mit.edu/explainers/public-transportation

“Access to fixed-route bus transit should be a component of the economic development strategy for low-income communities not only for the access to jobs that it provides low-income workers but also for the benefit provided to businesses that hire these workers…researchers estimate that the turnover reductions amount to 4 or 5 percent of a bus system’s 2010 operating expenses in these areas…” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-30/good-public-buses-can-dramatically-reduce-employee-turnover-for-local-business

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

Yes, buses already exist. But ability and resources to use them to provide the level of transit service we agree we need does not.

I’ve deleted a much longer response because this conversation is starting to feel frustrating and useless. I mostly agree that mass transit that worked well enough to draw people out of their cars could be better (though not necessarily so). When I really think about what it would take, I end up with smaller vehicles being more generally available, but only running where and when needed. The better the service gets, the more taxi-like it becomes.

I’m predicting the future by extrapolating from current trends and conditions, while you seem to be arguing for some different future that doesn’t really grow from the present. The “best” future isn’t ahead of us; it’s probably going to be the one that follows the most logical set of incremental steps.

If TriMet (or Metro) figures out the magical formulation before Cruise and Waymo do, great. But I’m not seeing much momentum or innovation coming from them, and they currently have neither the political nor financial resources to make the sort of really big moves that will be needed to make your vision of the future a reality. My vision only requires technical success before the tech companies get tired of funding the effort.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Future predictions based on the assumption that current trends and conditions will persist are often wrong. Remember “the end of history”?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_of_history

Another faulty idea is that what we need is “innovation”, rather than established systems that we already know to be effective. (See any of the links I posted above.)

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

People don’t like cars because they give them the ability to travel quickly from place to place, they just like having the ability to travel quickly and conveniently from place to place. Decades of lobbying and propaganda have convinced Americans that the only practical way to do that is in a car.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

“Decades of lobbying and propaganda have convinced Americans that the only practical way to do that is in a car.”

For many people, the only practical way to do that is in a car. That’s just the way things are today, and wringing our hands about the decades of lobbying and propaganda that brought us to this place* doesn’t change where we are. We have to deal with reality as it is.

*A characterization I don’t accept, but we don’t need to argue about that here.

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“the way things are today” in this respect is only like 50 or 60 years old. The way things are could change. And why are they the way they are? Because of that very propaganda, bribing, and lobbying pushing for cars to be the only option. The only practical way to get around is in a car because monied interests made it that way relatively recently. There is nothing to say we can’t fix that.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  John

The way things are could change. 

Things undoubtedly will change. If some new Robert Moses figure is able to capture the public imagination and muster the financial and political resources to rebuild Portland and other American cities so that they are oriented around current forms of mass transit, more power to them.

I just don’t believe it will happen.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

According to a recent poll, over half of all car users said they would like to use public transportation more often if it were more convenient (or simply available). There just aren’t that many “car people”:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/03/19/study-most-car-owners-wish-they-didnt-have-to-drive

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

Great. Let’s make public transportation more convenient and more available. I question the feasibility of doing that, but TriMet has had a whole team of people working for decades to prove me wrong. And I hope they do.

But note that people often say they would do things under hypothetical circumstances that they don’t end up doing in real life.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

TriMet doesn’t exist in a vacuum. They need funding and support from political leaders and the public. Our current state of car dependency is the result of policy choices. It’s not natural or inevitable.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

“It’s not natural or inevitable.”

Maybe not, but it is where we are.

I believe TriMet feels less relevant to people than it ever has. It is hard to generate political or popular support to invest in a system that even many former users have written off. The recent bond measure attempt offers some clues about the public’s willingness to pay to expand and improve the system.

The only thing I can see that would reverse the fortunes of transit in Portland would be a general return to work downtown. I have no idea if that will ever happen.

For random trips around town, driving (or bicycling) works better for most people most of the time. I don’t know how TriMet could ever compete for those trips.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Most people do not travel randomly. They go where the popular destinations are. Making those destinations accessible by transit is the purpose behind transit-oriented development and making buses and trains more frequent and reliable.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

Most of those destinations (inside the city at least) are already accessible by transit. It just doesn’t actually work all that well unless you are going to or from downtown, or have lots of time to kill (as we’ve already discussed) and don’t live in SW.

And yes, let’s run transit more frequently. I have no problem with that. I don’t know where they’ll find the drivers and the money to pay them, and I don’t think it will increase ridership much, but sure.

I’m willing to bet that TriMet has thought about this a lot, and understands both the operational and service issues at a pretty deep level.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

By “accessible” I mean able to be accessed quickly and conveniently from anywhere in the city at most times of the day. The situation you describe is the opposite of that.

Yes, TriMet needs more money to pay transit operators. That’s where the public and politicians come in, by increasing the funding available for transit. Just understanding this isn’t enough; we need action.

To me it’s just common sense that more frequent transit service helps ridership, but a quick search turns up some evidence:

“According to a new study by researchers at McGill University’s department of urban planning, transit agencies are repelling riders by shrinking routes and schedules on buses in particular…What seems to determine whether people ride transit is how well it compares to other options, in terms of cost, frequency, reliability, and connectivity.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-04/transit-ridership-depends-on-bus-service-study-finds

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

As I said several times, I believe many people have given up on transit. We see this in cities all across the country. To get political leaders to invest heavily in new transit service will require public support.

You and others repeatedly assert that transit is our future. I’m not sure how you get there from here.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Which parts of the study I mentioned do you disagree with?

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

I don’t doubt the basic formulation of the study: better service leads to more riders. It’s how to operationalize this that’s the trick, and how many riders can you get for a particular increment in service.

TriMet knows this far better than we do. If they thought they could build out their service to dramatically increase their ridership, they would certainly be out looking for the resources to do it. If they made a convincing case, I’d support them.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

TriMet serves us, not the other way around. We don’t have to wait for the agency to get around to proposing bold action. Metro could take over governance of TriMet anytime it wanted. All that’s missing is the political will.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

It will take bold action by one agency (Metro) to save us from the lack of bold action by another (TriMet)?

And why would that help? Metro will face the same political and financial realities that TriMet does.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

That’s why we have elections.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago

Is that what you call multi-millionaire- and corporate- funded campaigns that ensure low-income people will not have a voice?

PS: I’m going to make a prediction: There will be a massive increase in private political funding of Portland’s municipal elections in 2024.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

The idea that we had no responsibility for the decisions government made makes it impossible for us to change anything. All we can do if we have no responsibility for the decisions made is complain to no effect. If we are responsible for the decisions, then we not only have the “right” but the duty to change them.

aquaticko
aquaticko
9 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

It’s not a binary. The faults in America’s democracy are pretty well-known and documented at this point, and it really, really can’t be denied that it was a municipal, state, and national project to make America the land of the car. You’re also right, though that people have a responsibility to do better, even if for now that can mean something as relatively trivial as buying a smaller or more fuel-efficient car and driving it more slowly, and driving it less or not at all if it’s feasible.

Dan
Dan
9 months ago

Lots of good points here, and I agree it’s disappointing to not see a list of actionable goals from the city.

One quibble, though….the word “accident,” as it’s used generally, doesn’t “absolve road users from taking responsibility for their actions.” Accidents have causes, and people can be blamed and held responsible for their role in causing an accident. The obsession over this particular word looks strange, incomprehensible even, to someone outside the bike advocacy bubble. It’s not helpful to the greater cause of making our streets safer.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Dan

I agree. Let’s focus on the core issues and monumental tasks before us and not worry so much if someone is using the “right” language. We need allies at all levels of society; shouting down (censoring) people we disagree with or who just don’t “get it” may just alienate them.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
9 months ago
Reply to  Dan

Yeah I agree with this. Accidents are caused by poor street design. Sustainable safety (Dutch term) means that when people do inevitably make mistakes (read: accidents), the consequences are minimized. “Accidents” happen even on the safest streets in the Netherlands! For example, I saw one: A car driver hits a moped driver who was making a stupid u-turn. Because the street (a busy arterial!) was decked out with traffic calming (in a way few, if any, American arterials are), the moped driver just gets bumped and drove away angry and cursing, rather than being killed. Of course, more serious crashes/accidents do occassionally happen there, and in many cases, the streets are then re-engineered to be even safer, but the point is, people will always make mistakes, street design should be forgiving of that, and so in this context, insisting on calling them crashes doesn’t quite seem to make sense in a way that’s tricky to articulate.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Dan

Merriam-Webster lists the first meaning of “accident” as “an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance”. Hard to assign blame for something unforeseen.

A Vox article from 2015 pointed out that we say “plane crash”, not “plane accident”. Safety professionals have been objecting to the word “accident”, with its connotation of an “act of God”, since at least the 1990s:

https://www.vox.com/2015/7/20/8995151/crash-not-accident

The AP Stylebook has instructed journalists to avoid the word “accident” anytime “negligence is claimed or proven”, instead preferring terms like “crash” or “collision”:

https://www.planetizen.com/node/85469/ap-style-guide-favors-crash-over-accident-sometimes

As for Mapps, PBOT put out a blog post earlier this year discouraging use of the word “accident”, emphasizing that “crashes are preventable and predictable”. The word “crash” appears 130 times in the city’s Vision Zero Action Plan , while “accident” doesn’t appear at all. So there is an obvious inconsistency in Mapps’ public messaging versus the agency he is overseeing:

https://www.portland.gov/transportation/vision-zero/news/2023/3/23/why-we-say-crash-not-accident

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

“Hard to assign blame for something unforeseen.”

Why is that? I’m guessing that most people who drive their car into a tree would have slowed down if they had foreseen they were going to crash. But it is clear who is at fault.

The body responsible for investigating (and assigning blame for) airline crashes is called The Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention. Maybe they didn’t get AP’s memo.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yes, someone driving recklessly is clearly at fault. The results of reckless driving are hardly “unforeseen”.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago

I think what you are saying is that people understand that driving faster increases their risk of crashing (as do a whole array of factors), but if people knew they were going to crash, a lot fewer would.

This is a stupid argument. It is easy to assign fault to accidents, and we do it all the time in all sorts of contexts. Everyone understands what a “traffic accident” is. Jumping on people who don’t use your preferred word is not going to advance the cause.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Of course most drivers don’t get behind the wheel intending to crash. But US engineers continue to design streets that mix high speeds with complex traffic movements and people outside cars. The results are predictable: an increase in traffic deaths that other rich nations aren’t seeing. I’d hardly call that an “accident”.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago

If you’re interested in this issue, please watch

Why Bad Street Design is Both Costly and Deadly” (13 mins.)

It succinctly discusses all of the issues we’re faced with in Portland around traffic fatalities and PBOT.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Dusty

Actually its part of the problem. It a treatise for modern traffic engineers still wedded to the notion that there is an engineering solution to solve any problem. Its not that we don’t have crummy streets that contribute to making the problems worse. But they are not their “cause”. Re-engineering them is at best a way to mitigate the problems created by a transportation system built around unsafe motor vehicles.You can narrow streets and slow traffic down because drivers feel less comfortable, but not slow enough to make the street a safe space for people who are walking or biking.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

I agree that after all of our cities have been destroyed by cars and their infrastructure, “[r]e-engineering them is at best a way to mitigate the problems [my emphasis] created by a transportation system built around unsafe motor vehicles.”

It seems demonstrably false, however, that “[y]ou can narrow streets and slow traffic down because drivers feel less comfortable, but not slow enough to make the street a safe space for people who are walking or biking.” There are many, many examples of safe streets where people walking or bicycling among cars. Autoluw” is a Dutch urban planning concept meaning “nearly car-free”.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
9 months ago

PPB and PBOT could share more media content showing the rampant lawlessness on our streets. I’m not talking about street racing or high-profile hit-and-runs. I’m talking about the everyday stuff that’s been normalized. Like when people just blatantly run red signals, block bike lanes, don’t stop for someone using a crosswalk, turn right on red despite massive signs saying not to, drive without license plates, speed down neighborhood greenways; and so on and so forth.

Yes! A thousand times this!

Things like street racing and drunk driving are unacceptable and should be addressed, of course. But “the everyday stuff that’s been normalized” is more widespread and, for me, scarier—by orders of magnitude—largely because it’s become normalized.

Liz
Liz
9 months ago

We need to get rid of right runs allowed on red lights. It will take a decade or more to really change the culture so start now! If we start now, the newest drivers will start learning it and eventually older drivers will come around. Also, no parking within ten feet of a stop sign. This is what makes crossing neighborhood streets so dangerous.

Susie
Susie
9 months ago

Mapps is a hypocrite. He does not listen to the public or businesses on Division or elsewhere. He pledges lies.

Susie
Susie
9 months ago

I see PBOT and PDX vehicles all over the place. They obviously aren’t taking public transit or bike riding. They are making our streets unsafe, wasting money that could be used in much more needed areas . And sorry but so that people can ride bikes. The majority of people that do ride bikes in SE PDX dont use the bike lanes or crosswalks. What a waste. . Fill the potholes. The current leaders have ruined Portland. Good job.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
9 months ago

I like Mapps. A lot. He is smart and has the potential to do good things in this town. He was handed a sh@t sandwich when he started heading PBOT. Also he has no control over our police force. I think he would make a good mayor. Or definitely better than what we have, though that’s a very low bar. I also don’t necessarily totally disagree with some of the criticism to date. Jonathan raised great points. So in danger of playing both sides, I’ll just have to say I look forward to the next mayoral election.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Why would Mapps make a good mayor? What are some positions or policies of his you favor?

Surly Ogre
Joe Bicycles
9 months ago

Mapps needs to change the identity of Portland. He needs to start saying “Portland is a safe city”. And then he needs build safe infrastructure, safe intersections and repeat that and other actions that make the city safe and be consistent across the city.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago

Let’s be honest, even attempting to change traffic culture* would require taking substantial political risks and Mapps wants to be Mayor.

* I don’t think any single person or institution could possibly begin to change traffic culture. This type of transformation of core american beliefs would require a society-wide upheaval in a nation that has always been ruled with an iron thumb by oligarchs.

Damien
Damien
9 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I don’t think any single person or institution could possibly begin to change traffic culture. This type of transformation of core american beliefs would require a society-wide upheaval in a nation that has always been ruled with an iron thumb by oligarchs.

I hate to say it because it points to the only realistic, personal solution as cutting losses and getting the hell out of the country (which is my not-too-distant plan), but I often find myself thinking along these lines: Any time someone talks about culture here (Portland or the US broadly) in decline, the free for all in the streets, etc., my initial thought is: Well, duh. This is the logical conclusion of the founding American principle of “rugged individualism”/”I got mine &^%$ y’all”. 200+ years in the making. Halted briefly by the New Deal, turbo charged during the 70’s/80’s neoliberal New Deal backlash, and made uncomfortably clear to so many during the pandemic that they were in the “y’all” category.

I do think, with specific regards to Portland streets, that we could buck that overall culture trend if the local political will was there. We could build the necessary infrastructure and direct the necessary enforcement.

But we won’t, with this government. With a new one? …still unlikely, but I’ll wait to see it before I declare that a dead end too.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

For better or worse, Mapps is probably the last chance for big things at PBOT and elsewhere, and I think we agree on chances of that materializing.

Whatever inertia there is for the status quo now will only increase. The current council will hire the city manager, so you know they won’t be a firebrand, and after that you’ll need a council majority to do anything, which means 7 people will have to agree on any new initiative, formally articulated and carefully laid out by people who do not have a direct line to bureau leadership.

Whatever you think Hardesty’s orange barrels, she was able to do that on her own. It’s hard to imagine anything even that modest making it through the gauntlet championed buy one or two city councilors with a level of public skepticism that that program had.

If you do give up and leave the US, you’ll find that other places have problems too, many of them more significant than the ones we face.

Damien
Damien
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Whatever inertia there is for the status quo now will only increase.

As will, then, the unraveling of society. The unraveling is a consequence of the status quo. That’s what bugs me most about your stalwart defense of it*. I know you don’t agree with the outcome (nobody does, it’s awful) – but it is the logical outcome.

If you do give up and leave the US, you’ll find that other places have problems too, many of them more significant than the ones we face.

This is true, of course – the US is hardly the worst place to be. But I’ve lived abroad for a number of years and for all the faults of the countries I lived in, they weren’t terminal at a core cultural level**. “Rugged individualism” is. It’s a great philosophy for budding frontier societies, maybe, but mostly, I suspect it’s just a way for rich folks to justify hoarding their wealth, while providing enough copium to the “y’all” faction not to revolt (to quote my favorite economist, “The Hamptons are not a defensible position”). A more basic flavor of “trickle-down economics”, if you will.

But it does not scale, and has no place with today’s population/density. Neither does the over-consumption you frequently defend on BP* – and while that one is human nature, there are places that at least recognize it as a nature that needs to be tempered and managed, rather than celebrated as it is in the US. If we can’t change the culture and politics of over-consumption and a technological answer to what is a behavioral/cultural problem is a fantasy, then in your own words, all we have left is catastrophe or totalitarianism. I’d prefer to watch that from the outside and hope wherever I land follows suit slowly enough to do so after I’m dead and buried. Because it’s actively happening before our eyes here.

* To be clear, I know you’ve said you agree with me on this, but you put all your energy pushing back against any mentions of changing this. Someone mentions an idea to change the status quo? I can predict with great accuracy that Watts will be there to push back. There’s enough predictability there to almost fall into redundancy – something worth reflecting on. To be clear, I obviously have zero idea and make zero assumptions about what you do outside of BP. In fact, please consider all my second-person commentary as directed to “the character Watts as played on BikePortland” to appropriately depersonalize.

** I fully recognize I could scope out what I believe to be the most functional, sustainable democratic country and have it get wiped out by some climate disaster or an errant Russian nuke. But I figure I’m more likely to get wiped out by a driver on Portland’s streets, so that’s a wash for me.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

I don’t *think* I defend over consumption. I certainly don’t intend to. I’m struggling to think of what you could be referring to. I strongly support a carbon tax (which I realize is never going to happen), and that could reduce consumption quite a bit.

I think the biggest schisms between me and most BP commenters are that I come at issues from a place of optimism, the idea that things really aren’t as bad as the folks here say they are. And I (generally) like market based solutions, rather than governmental fiat, mostly for practical and democratic reasons (I’m liberal but not libertarian). Also I strongly believe that the sorts of us-vs-them thinking that pervades so many of the comments here is destructive.

What I really want is for people to sharpen their arguments so they have a chance of convincing skeptical folks (and maybe even me). I am fundamentally persuadable on most issues, given a good argument and convincing evidence. There are a number of issues where I have changed my mind based on discussion here.

Damien
Damien
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I don’t *think* I defend over consumption. I certainly don’t intend to.

I believe both of these statements, sincerely. My engagement with you comes from a place of respect (I wouldn’t bother otherwise). I believe you’ve got a blind spot where it comes to “telling it like it is” – you stick to that enough that it for all pragmatic purposes becomes de facto energy for keeping it like it is. The thing is, that doesn’t really need doing. Other than the most fresh/misty-eyed idealists, we all know how it is. We can just look outside for that.

I think the biggest schisms between me and most BP commenters are that I come at issues from a place of optimism, the idea that things really aren’t as bad as the folks here say they are.

You may be correct, but I also wonder if this is another blind spot. The character Watts as played on BP must certainly be a middle-aged, financially secure white man – only an important distinction insofar is that this is exactly the demographic that still has room to be optimistic. For whom the levers of power have been built, and so naturally will have less reason to doubt those levers. It comes to mind every time I see someone (and you’ve done this in some flavor or another) comment on an article about students (literally) yelling at people in power about how the right way to lobby power is politely, reasonably, etc. Now I actually mostly agree with that, but I recognize that the demographic for whom power is built for has a very different experience lobbying that power than those for whom it was not. A young woman of color could say exactly the same things in exactly the same way to a legislator as a middle-waged white man and get very different results. I suspect you know that, intellectually, but I wonder if you really feel it.

What I really want is for people to sharpen their arguments so they have a chance of convincing skeptical folks (and maybe even me).

Here’s my ask of you: Don’t wait. Argue for them yourself – pitch in with ideas how you’d think best could get some (we all know to be likely very unrealistic) idea off the ground. In other words, don’t block the energy – help steer it more productively. Your support for a carbon tax is a good example of that, though I feel it only comes up after back-and-forths about how some other thing is politically impossible.

My two cents, anyway. I’m still trying to learn the lesson from Eitan Hersh’s Politics is for Power and spend less time commenting online altogether, but here I am.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

Your reply, Damien, gets my vote for CotW. nicely put. I have struggled over the years to find the words to say what you just did, and very well.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

Don’t wait.

I don’t. In my real life, I weigh in on political matters where I can, and usually on the same side you would.

I could post more often encouraging folks to “vote”, “write”, “call”, “meet”, (and I do from time to time), but I generally don’t think people care much. In another thread I offered to write to the mayor about traffic safety if others did as well, and no one responded. Much more fun to stage an embarrassing and pointless protest in front of City Hall that makes bicyclists look like buffoons.

My way may not achieve big results, but that way doesn’t either, at least not if it’s being done by 15 bike-helmeted protestors (if we got 1500, we might get somewhere). When you vote, write, and call, no one knows whether you’re a financially secure middle aged white man or the proverbial internet dog. Those levers are available to everyone. And having recently attended a somewhat contentious meeting with only one black person in the room, when he spoke, everyone listened carefully and deferentially. So even the historically marginalized can have more power than just another white face.

What people here want are big, sexy, bold actions overthrowing the status quo, especially when they involve getting rid of cars, most of which simply aren’t going happen.

What will work, and is generally working, is steady incremental improvements that are both achievable and boring. Those alone won’t, of course, solve the big problems in the necessary time frame, but technology, economics, and capitalism are on our side for once, at least for the types of issues folks here care about (principally climate and safety).

I think your post was excellent. I even joined 9watts in giving it a thumbs up.

PS I don’t advocate for a carbon tax here much because I know many others here inexplicably don’t like it, but mostly because I try to eat my own dogfood and not to advocate for ideas that I know can’t be achieved. But if I had the power to implement one, I would in a heartbeat.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

PS I don’t advocate for a carbon tax here much because I know many others here inexplicably don’t like it,

There is an extensive literature, as reviewed in the IPCC AR6, strongly suggesting* that a cabon tax would have little effect on GHG emissions unless it was priced in excess of $100 per barrel of oil (equivalent). Moreover, carbon pricing has been extensively gamed when it has been implemented in existing (captured) systems. In the context of our existing economic system, carbon taxes are to mandates, what “offsets” are to renewable energy generation.

* “strongly suggesting” is a phrase scientists use when there is very strong evidence that something is true.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I did some googling, and I can’t find any of this extensive literature. Can you point me to any articles (ideally directed towards an informed but non-academic audience) that explains why a carbon tax won’t work?

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Ah yes, the famous democracy of the market, where “one dollar, one vote” means fewer than 30 rich people have as many “votes” as the poorest 3.8 billion:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/21/world-26-richest-people-own-as-much-as-poorest-50-per-cent-oxfam-report

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

From your posts one might think you believe there’s no possibilities for change or any progress whatsoever.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Dusty

Not at all. I have a relatively high level of confidence that things are changing, mostly for the better, and I see progress on many fronts, both technical and social.

I just don’t see much hope for the things people champion most vocally on this site like defunding the police, building concrete barriers along major arterials, or getting people to abandon cars for mass transit.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Installing (temporary) concrete barriers seems to be no problem for the city when it comes to harassing unhoused people:

https://www.koin.com/news/portland/homeless-campers-out-concrete-blocks-in-near-oaks-park/

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  Dusty

Nonsense, the invisible hand of the market will snap its fingers and a new technology will save us all. All we have to do is be optimistic and don’t change a thing, don’t make anyone uncomfortable, and certainly don’t do anything to interfere with market solutions, which we all know are altruistic. As we all know, the most profitable solutions also benefit the environment and societal stability.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

If you do give up and leave the US, you’ll find that other places have problems too, many of them more significant than the ones we face.

It’s a matter of choosing which problems you’re comfortable with. Trust me, the pros and cons matrix for each of the countries we’re looking at has different issues weighted and the US ends up very low on the rankings.

Someone else would probably weight them differently and end up with a different ranking.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Damien

There’s going to be 12 new city councilors elected in 2024; let’s get the pro-transit sanity people on there. They’ll be 3 councilors each from 4 quadrants — big changes coming!

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Mapps seems like another visionless, opportunist like Wheeler; his statements without a plan illustrate this. Mapps is on the council less than one term but wants to be mayor?

A cultural change about car traffic as an approach to reduce its death and destruction is a fantasy. Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure is what’s needed to stop the carnage. We can start with city-wide speed limits of 10 MPH and car-free Greenways.

Fred
Fred
9 months ago

Set higher standards for city employees using fleet vehicles by installing speed governors or publicizing a “no pass” pledge on neighborhood greenways.

Wait: are you saying that city (and other gov’t) employees aren’t already monitored when they are driving fleet vehicles?

In-cab cameras are already standard for most corporate and commercial fleets, and they record EVERYTHING. A safety manager can know in *real time* when an employee is speeding or driving dangerously in any fashion – like if a driver brakes suddenly, the safety manager will see it and will talk to the driver about the behavior that led to the braking (following too closely, for example).

Companies have installed these cameras to cover their butts. When a company vehicle is involved in a crash, they can see immediately who caused the crash – and it had better not be the employee.

If city and other local gov’t fleets don’t already have in-cab cameras, that needs to happen – now. And really it should be standard for all drivers, everywhere. When you can’t get away with driving dangerously (no one will insure you, for example), you won’t do it.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I’d prefer less implementation, indeed, rollback, of tech from the Surveillance-Industrial Complex

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I would be astonished if the union would not push back against that, hard.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Fred

We run Samsara in our fleet (delivery vehicles from Sprinter Vans to 53′ Trailers and a fleet of Nissan Rogues for sales people and others).

First benefit – our insurance is a lot lower so long as our aggregate score is good enough.
2nd – we get to coach the behaviors that lead to crashes. Our aggregate score is in the high 90’s for this reason.
3rd – When a collision does happen we have a very clear idea of what happened.

  • The cougar suddenly appearing in front of the van headed to the coast
  • The car running a stop sign right into our salesman’s path.

For those who object to the surveillance – the drivers of these vehicles are driving company vehicles on company time – there is no right to privacy.

It also stops the old park and goof off thing or, worse, salespeople going home and doing non work related stuff when they’re supposed to be working.

Why *any* company (public or private) with fleet isn’t running something similar is a mystery. The cost savings for us is huge.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

The scary, Big Brother infrastructure of surveillance capitalism is anti-democratic and about control, domination, and profits for the owner class, as it always is, as your post illustrates:

“we get to coach the behaviors”
“there is no right to privacy.”
” [people]…doing…non work related stuff when they’re supposed to be working”

Justified because
“our insurance is a lot lower”
“The cost savings for us is huge”

Just sayin’.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Dusty

So, you think people should be paid to not do their jobs? That people who are getting bonuses and profit sharing shouldn’t care about how well the company does? (that’s all of us, by the way – from warehouse picker on up).

Interesting.

Good luck with that.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
cc_rider
cc_rider
9 months ago

You can’t use reason to convince someone out of an argument they weren’t reasoned to in the first place. The “fair share” quip is no different than someone who consistently goes 10+mph over the speed limit complaining about how cyclists need to follow the law “like everyone else”

Dangerous driving isn’t some thought out action where the driver is doing a cost-benefit analysis. It’s just baked into our culture and as a result baked into our roads and laws. It’s reflected by things like the legislature baking 10+mph of criminality in the speed camera law or a truck operator negligently ending the life of a pillar of his community only to have the cops that showed up literally reported the truck operators story as the facts of the case and refused to talk to other witnesses.

A couple of weeks ago I was doing a mid-week ride on Sauvie. I was riding down the road with a car approaching me in the other lane. I noticed a car coming up from behind. Anticipating motorist stupidity, I prepared for this person to pass me dangerously. Well, in this case they went fully into oncoming traffic and, upon noticing the other car swerved back into my line. I was able to hard brake to keep them from killing me. They then immediately started braking and turned on their turn signal to go right into a U-pick farm. I’m guessing someone going to a u-pick farm on a weekday isn’t alone, and I’d say there was a good chance they had kids in their cars. Do you think someone who would risk not only my life, or the life of the people in the oncoming car, but their own life and the people in their car would even give a mild shit about how much a pole costs?

The only solution to this problem is to make it extremely hard to drive dangerously and make the consequences for dangerous driving sever. Two speed tickets should equal a two year driving suspension. Driving on a suspended license means jail. Make it easier for citizen citations and put speed cameras every where. The culture change will follow.

cc_rider
cc_rider
9 months ago

You write “the only solution to this problem is…” as if there’s only one solution?

There is only one solution to this problem. The one and only thing that will reduce speeds is to make it physically impossible to drive fast. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Asking people nicely to do the right thing when do the wrong thing is easy and feels good has literally never worked once in human history.

Come on folks, no major systemic problem like this will or should be distilled down to one thing

This isn’t actually a complicated problem and really can be distilled down. I’m for traffic enforcement, but that to me is only going to, hopefully, deter some of the worst behavior and leave the negligent masses alone.

It’s extremely clear that the way to reduce traffic fatalities is to create a built environment that discourages dangerous driving with heavy punishments for those who still break the law.

I think we’ll do much better if we aren’t so quick to criticize ideas.

What are you talking about “quick”? This ‘culture change’ nonsense is the same crap PBOT and PPB have been pushing for 20 years. ‘Culture change’ is supported by people who want to maintain the status quo specifically because it doesn’t work. One speed bump is worth more than all of the news conferences, ZeroVision, and Slow the Flock down sides that PBOT has ever produced.

Dusty
Dusty
9 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Yes, to this: “make it extremely hard to drive dangerously”

“Slower Driving, Safer Driving” video

Carrie
Carrie
9 months ago

– PPB and PBOT could share more media content showing the rampant lawlessness on our streets. I’m not talking about street racing or high-profile hit-and-runs. I’m talking about the everyday stuff that’s been normalized. Like when people just blatantly run red signals, block bike lanes, don’t stop for someone using a crosswalk, turn right on red despite massive signs saying not to, drive without license plates, speed down neighborhood greenways; and so on and so forth.

While I’m not a huge fan of “education as a solution” when it comes to the massive danger on our roads compared to 10 years ago, I really do like this idea. I’d add to the list: pictures of folks parked too close to the intersection. This blocks both sightlines AND pedestrian (aka ADA) access to the sidewalks. We see this all over town — it’s illegal, it’s dangerous for everyone, and it’s ridiculously selfish of the person who parked there because they didn’t want to drive further to find a place to store their vehicle.

Andy Palmquist
Andy Palmquist
9 months ago

Great point on city vehicles. The amount of laws I see city vehicles casually breaking is somewhat breathtaking.

Kittens
Kittens
9 months ago

Mapps , Wheeler, et al., are not LEADERS, they are followers begging for people to consider this or that pathetic call for cultural – or the more en vogue – “systemic cultural change” for a given crisis. Sorry guys, the city of Portland is not likely to solve homelessness or bad driving single handedly. So what are you going to do about it? Put up some educational billboards and slick infographics informing people of the dangers of driving recklessly? Hollow, pointless, ineffectual grandstanding. A true leader leads and does what is right even when it hurts and in this instance it would require a 100% focus on enforcement, penalties and consequences. Vision Zero should have always been Vision Zero Tolerance; for speeding, failure to obey traffic control devices, aggressive driving, missing plates, theft, vandalism, noise pollution, racing and intoxication. Period. Why is this so hard to understand??? I don’t care how many lines you paint, signs you post and informative PSAs you do, until I see people being held responsible for their wantonly homicidal disregard for anything resembling the law, I will not feel safe biking/walking in Portland.

Craig Harlow
Craig Harlow
9 months ago

As far as enforcement goes, traffic culture is in no small measure influenced by our perception of those enforcing traffic law.

Since even before the political polarization arising from the trump presidency and the George Floyd protests (and those that followed), there seems to be a now well-established cultural divide that places officers — or our perception of them — in opposition to the citizens they’re meant to protect and represent.

As long as the city continues to draw the majority of its officers from *outside* the city, the perception — and the reality — is likely persist and to deepen that law enforcement itself is part of the culture problem that Mapps is purporting to tackle.

2018 https://www.portlandmercury.com/news/2018/09/27/23211988/hall-monitor-commuter-cops

2021 https://www.portlandmercury.com/news/2021/07/26/35300061/new-data-shows-most-portland-police-officers-still-live-outside-portland

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Craig Harlow

Ending restrictions on housing density in the city would go a long way to fixing this problem IMO

Grennie Schaltz
Grennie Schaltz
9 months ago

We did that. It just screwed up street parking.

Meanwhile bicycle mode share is at the lowest it’s been in 20+ years, if I remember correctly. Despite all the “car free” apartments that have been built, people want to drive. This won’t change in our lifetime

9watts
9watts
9 months ago

people want to drive. This won’t change in our lifetime”

I am starting to sound like a broken record but I think it (still) worth pointing out that your statement quoted here is premised on the idea that our *Preferences* will carry the day.
In an Empty World, and for much of our lived experience as Colonizers, this has been a reasonably good assumption (much less so for the rest of the world who got to do our bidding so our preferences could be always be met). But in a Full World this is not at all assured and I would suggest even unlikely going forward. I think *Constraints* will take over and the question of how much driving will occur in the future will have much less to do with preferences and much more to do with constraints. In other words we will no longer be in charge of these decisions as we have been accustomed to.
COVID, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Wildfires are some examples of where constraints displace preferences. The residents of Lahaina, or Joplin or Paradise I am quite certain, would have preferred to have not experienced the complete destruction of their towns, but their preferences didn’t hold sway.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago

“It just screwed up street parking…”

Good. More, please.

“This won’t change in our lifetime…”

Not with that attitude it won’t.

qqq
qqq
9 months ago

Many–but far from all–people moving to parking-free residences ARE still keeping their cars, and that IS making parking tight in their neighborhoods. But they’re also choosing that over moving to buildings that have off-street parking.

Meanwhile, the City just closed one of its largest parking garages due to lack of demand–pointing out that it was regularly over 90% full at peak times in 2020, but now only 29%.

Willamette Week has a new article about 15 failing large office buildings, either already foreclosed on or on their way.

I can drive downtown and often find an on-street parking space within a block of my destination. That used to never be true.

Millions of people are working from home now, and one main reason they give for not wanting to go back to working in the office is they don’t want to drive.

Fewer people are getting drivers’ licenses as soon as they’re eligible by age.

A huge proportion of shopping is now online. Goods are being delivered, but the shoppers aren’t driving, and that’s an attraction of online shopping.

Other than perhaps online shopping, hardly anyone was predicting these things even recently. People NOT wanting to drive is a factor in everything above.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  qqq

and one main reason they give for not wanting to go back to working in the office is they don’t want to drive.

They don’t want to drive, or they don’t want to commute? For all my criticisms of transit, the one thing it does relatively well is get folks in and out of downtown during commute hours.

The reduction in commuting hasn’t led to less driving, but it has led to less bus riding and bicycling.

qqq
qqq
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

They don’t want to drive, or they don’t want to commute? 

Many people who no longer commute drove to work, and they did not like driving to work.

The reduction in commuting hasn’t led to less driving, but it has led to less bus riding and bicycling.

I suppose it’s possible that they’re driving so much more to non-work places that their driving has not decreased overall, or that all people who work at home now were the ones who took the bus or biked to work.

Grennie Schaltz
Grennie Schaltz
9 months ago
Reply to  Craig Harlow

The Portland Mercury is no longer a credible source. They went off the deep end in 2020 and have doubled down since. The layoffs and talent drain have really taken their toll over there, and all that’s left are fringe activists. Sorry, but the Merc’s days of semi-relevance are thoroughly gone.