Comment of the Week: Two views of on-street parking

Every once in a while a pair of comments are a perfect foil for one another. Both are reasonable, you nod in agreement with each of them … and then you notice they express opposite opinions.

That was the case with a pair of comments by TakeTheLane and dw, each writing in response to our Paved Paradise book review. I understand where each of them is coming from. Last week, happenstance brought them within inches of one another, today I’m putting them right next to each other. Why? Because their conflict is exactly what the book is about. It’s the problem parking experts grapple with. Although I didn’t emphasize him in the review, economist Donald Shoup figures prominently in the book. And Shoup‘s book was titled, The High Cost of Free Parking.

TakeTheLane goes first:

Perhaps residents of these structures built without off street parking should receive “free” public transit passes for each person. The cost could be included in the rent, or condo fees. This could help encourage residents to not own cars that take up all of the on street parking in a neighborhood. I take great offense when someone who is not visiting my immediate neighbors or me takes the parking spot under the shade trees that I take care of, and leaves their car there for days at a time. This did not happen before the multiplexes were built in my neighborhood. For 25 years I have lived 6 blocks from where the (new to me) Yellow Max Train line was built and on street parking is diminishing quickly.

And now dw:

This book is definitely on my list. I think that off-street parking, and the discourse it spawns when it comes to changing the status quo, is so fascinating.

There seems to be this black-and-white view that if you live somewhere with scarce parking you can’t own a car. I feel like taking away off-street parking can still influence the behavior of “I’m never giving up my car” people. When buying new cars, they are incentivized to buy a smaller car that is easier to park. I own a Honda Fit and when I do choose to drive, never have trouble parking because it’s so small. Households might also go for one car and a cargo bike instead of 2 or 3 cars if parking is constrained. Cars are bad but smaller cars are less bad.

You might also end up parking further away, which makes biking and transit more attractive options. I park 5-6 blocks away on the street but the bus stop is right across the street and the bike room is just downstairs. Even for folks who won’t or can’t stop driving everywhere, that 6 block walk is probably a good thing – they’re at least interfacing with their neighborhood on foot, rather than just through a windshield. Street parking directly adjacent to apartment entrances and spots in garages should be reserved for handicap-only IMO. Some people legitimately can’t walk 6 blocks and we should be planning for that.

I guess what I’m getting at is that we should be framing these policy issues as reducing driving rather than reducing car ownership. Most folks are not opposed to replacing car trips if the alternatives are more convenient than driving, but still prefer the security blanket of car ownership. I think most folks are on board with driving less, but not giving up their cars entirely.


It is important to BikePortland to provide an outlet for varying opinions, thank you TakeTheLane and dw for sharing yours. You can read what everyone thinks under the original post.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero is on the board of SWTrails PDX, and was the chair of her neighborhood association's transportation committee. A proud graduate of the PBOT/PSU transportation class, she got interested in local transportation issues because of service cuts to her bus, the 51. Lisa has lived in Portland for 23 years and can be reached at lisacaballero853@gmail.com.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

102 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
eawriste
eawriste
8 months ago

“I take great offense when someone who is not visiting my immediate neighbors or me takes the parking spot under the shade trees that I take care of, and leaves their car there for days at a time.”

What other private property can people leave for free on public land and feel offended when that space is not available? Remember, in some cities on-street parking was illegal until 1950. In some cities one is required to show proof of a private parking space prior to purchasing an auto.

Take the Lane represents the majority of people in the US (and Portland) who feel some ownership and entitlement to specific pieces of public land. Is there a difference between moving a utility shed into a park and calling it “your space”? When violence erupts over a public curb-adjacent street space, it is surprising to people. It highlights the demand for such a space and hints at the vast amount (e.g., pavement, air quality, sprawl, safety) everyone sacrifices to subsidize just one person.

occupy homeowner parking spaces!!!
occupy homeowner parking spaces!!!
8 months ago

I take great offense when someone who is not visiting my immediate neighbors or me takes the parking spot under the shade trees that I take care of, and leaves their car there for days at a time.

It’s not your parking space, and if those trees are planted between the sidewalk and road they are not your trees.

I own an EV (1st generation leaf) that I mostly use for trips that replace someone else’s car use. I love parking in shady spots directly in front of a homeowner’s house for extended periods of time. The more parking congestion in inner PDX neighborhoods, the better!

PS: Several neighbors have designated disability spaces in front of their homes so don’t @ me about this. I also support wholesale designation of many thousands of the best and most convenient parking spaces for people with disability.

Matt
Matt
8 months ago

While I agree with you that people should feel free to use on-street parking, no matter whose house it’s in front of, when you say “ I love parking in shady spots directly in front of a homeowner’s house for extended periods of time” [emphasis in original], I’m guessing you mean for days or weeks on end? If this is in Portland (a fair assumption, given the website name here), you’re in violation of Portland City Code 16.20.170(A):

No person may store, or permit to be stored, a vehicle or other personal property on public right-of-way or other public property in excess of 24 hours without permission of the City Engineer, the City Traffic Engineer, or the Bureau of Development Services. 

John
John
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I love it because that actually applies to everyone. You can’t park your car in front of your own house for more than 24 hours either! Now if only they’d start enforcing that.

Matt
Matt
8 months ago
Reply to  John

It’d sure be nice!

Iconyms
Iconyms
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Wow, I did not realize portland was that legislatively stupid.

So basically if I have a car and no private place to park it I better drive it every day so that it moves every 24 hours…. how much you bet that’s going to make me take many trips in a car instead of a bike??

Fred
Fred
8 months ago

You are wrong about the trees, occupy. The homeowner may very well own the trees, as well as the sidewalk in front of the house, but the city will ding the homeowner if the sidewalk needs repair or the trees need attention.

A homeowner owns everything up to the street but the city gets to tell the homeowner how and when to maintain that space. Nice arrangement!

qqq
qqq
8 months ago
Reply to  Fred

In Portland, property owners typically do NOT own everything up to the street. Property lines are almost always at the inside (away from the street) edge of the sidewalk, and sometimes in even further. You’re right the property owner must maintain the trees and sidewalk, but the sidewalk and land is City owned. I’m not sure who owns the street trees. I assume the City, but am not sure.

blumdrew
8 months ago

I take great offense when someone who is not visiting my immediate neighbors or me takes the parking spot under the shade trees that I take care of, and leaves their car there for days at a time. This did not happen before the multiplexes were built in my neighborhood

Something implicit here is that the people who live in said multiplexes (and are parking in that spot) are not considered to be you or your neighbors. I find this to be incredibly sad, that just because someone lives in a newer apartment that they are somehow not apart of your community of neighbors. I rent, and I might rent my entire life based on how expensive it is to buy. TakeTheLane is saying that because of this, I am less entitled to public space that they view as their own. This needs to be called out as what it is – ridiculous.

eawriste
eawriste
8 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Yep Blum. Implicit here also is the exclusion of “new” people, different uses and buildings to a neighborhood, a symptom of the nature of our zoning codes (all the yellow) that excludes most mixed uses from the vast majority of Portland proper. When we limit neighborhoods to light density residential, we make housing more expensive and require people to travel longer distances for things they both want and could easily get in their neighborhood (e.g., restaurants, laundry etc). That also increases the demand for cars because 1) neighborhoods are much less dense and 2) people have to travel further to get their needs met and often have cars to do this.

blumdrew
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Yeah the American tendency to strongly segregate uses that are actually pretty compatible from each other is extremely frustrating. It’s stupid that people can’t open cafes, bakeries, or bookstores on quiet residential streets where they could conceivably do quite well.

John
John
8 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

The few places where I’ve seen exceptions (I don’t know how those happen or maybe they’re in a legal grey area?) are some of my favorite places. There is this little coffee shop on NE Ainsworth that looks like it is out of what would have been a little garage. I like it, and for people who live right there is must be nice to have too. I don’t know why that one is allowed, but it’s annoying that it isn’t more common.

blumdrew
8 months ago
Reply to  John

If it’s the area around NE Ainsworth and 30th, that is actually zoned for mixed use owing to its history as the terminus of a streetcar line (the Alberta line). Lots of little pockets like that are just zoned differently because of a historical use – the corner of 15th and Prescott comes to mind (Irvington Streetcar line terminus), or the various places on Clinton and Ankeny

John
John
8 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I don’t know where you come up with these little tidbits about zoning, but yes that’s the place. Interesting. And the 15th and Prescott area has been another nice place I’ve walked (to have a beer when it used to be Grain and Gristle) and it just feels magical to have a nice stroll through a neighborhood and stop in for a nice farmhouse beer.

It’s just so frustrating that the only place we get stuff like that is the fairly uncommon historical remnants and anything zoned today would ban that type of use.

blumdrew
8 months ago
Reply to  John

Portland Maps is great, here is a link to the zoning map of the city. The corner of Knapp and Cesar Chavez is another fun little spot that’s zoned differently because of a streetcar (Errol Heights line), though it’s just a car repair spot. Almost all of the “little neighborhood spots” in East Portland are zoned for mixed use because the mixed use predates the zoning code, which typically is a result of a streetcar line. Belmont and 69th (Mount Tabor Line) and Fremont and 24th (Broadway Line) are good ones too.

And there are also seemingly non-streetcar related exceptions. Steele and 52nd, or Prescott and 72nd come to mind – both are isolated corner areas without a historic trolley. Though they are outside of the 1920s single family only ordinance area, and at least Steele and 52nd had a bus line.

It is indeed magical to walk to a neighborhood spot! Portland has done a good job with updating residential zoning codes to allow for common-sense stuff like x-plexes, I’d love to advocate more for allowing certain commercial uses as well in any part of the city. Especially bakeries!

eawriste
eawriste
8 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Take a look at the simplification of the zoning code in Japan in 1968 called the “New City Planning Law” which was one of the main reasons Japan has relatively affordable house pricing today, and much better mixed use neighborhoods. Portland has a long way to go in reforming its zoning code in order to make livable neighborhoods.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Hong Kong also has very mixed use neighborhoods and dense housing, and it’s not affordable at all.

People who think there are many Americans would live like the Japanese do in Tokyo are a bit out of touch.

eawriste
eawriste
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Here’s a typical neighborhood in Tokyo. Many of the same house designs can be seen in Portland. “Out of touch” meaning you don’t like it? Zoning practice in the Tokyo area has enabled the most affordable housing in almost any developed country.

I’m confused why you’re throwing Hong Kong out here (to disprove zoning has no effect on housing prices???). Hong Kong is a poor example in that case. It has a limited amount of land suitable for development. There is also a tax (~30%) levied on property transactions, which limits sales.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

a typical neighborhood in Tokyo

That looks like Buckman, one of those relatively dense inner-ring neighborhoods some people think should be razed for apartments. That’s very different than the Tokyo neighborhoods I have experience with.

I throw Hong Kong out for the same reason you throw Tokyo out — they’re similarly dense Asian megacities with very different housing and social cultures than Portland (and both places I happen to have visited residents, so know a little outside the main tourist areas), but which provide us some (perhaps dubious) purchase to bolster our opinions.

Hong Kong helps disprove the assertion that density leads to affordability. And if your Tokyo example were typical, that would be more evidence, showing you can have affordability with density found in Portland neighborhoods, especially in a comparatively tiny city like Portland.

Many Tokyo residents don’t live in houses like that, they live in tiny shoebox apartments, which very few Americans would seriously consider once they’re out of their 20s.

If you really want cheap Japanese housing, get out of Tokyo and into the smaller lower-tier, much less dense cities.

John
John
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

No they’re not, because we have places like that although few and far between, and they’re very popular places to live. We know people like them.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

It’s truly unfortunate that market urbanists keep on falsely attributing chronically depressed real estate prices in Japan to zoning and not to the collapse of the largest real estate bubble in history* (that led to decades of chronic deflation/disinflation).

comment image

In my experience, market urbanists resemble certain other political subcultures in their constant use of misleading narratives and outright disinformation.

* It will be “interesting” to see what happens in China in coming years.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Residential real estate prices in urban Japan:

comment image

blumdrew
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

This strikes me as a massive oversimplification. Which isn’t to say that Japanese zoning is worse than American, I’m sure it’s probably both better and more sensible. But like so many things have happened in Japan since 1968, including a massive speculative bubble and crash in the early 90s. I mean they have a 10+ year period of time called the Employment Ice Age that has had huge social and economic impacts – lasting to now.

Zoning matters, but it would be more sensible to compare American cities to other American cities since at least they share some level of cultural similarities. And oftentimes, the most affordable areas of the US do in fact have the least restrictive land use policy, though this usually means building sprawl. But economic context matters too – often far more. Is Milwaukee more affordable than Portland because of zoning?

If Portland allowed a cafe on every corner and a bakery on every block, it would surely become a more livable place. We should do that, or at least make it legal. But I don’t think this sort of zoning reform would do much for housing affordability, absent of other more drastic changes (which I would also like to see!).

Guy
Guy
8 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I hear you, yet I also feel conflicted about the matter. The problem with renting is, it deprives people of security of tenancy in your dwelling and neighborhood. Even with the most pro-tenant policies, there are still usually a lot of ways landlords can get rid of tenants, even if it means selling the whole property and potentially tearing it down and redeveloping it. And people without security of tenure in their dwellings and neighborhoods are disincentived to make major personal investments of time and energy in them, even including modest efforts like planting and maintaining trees and shrubs that beautiful and contribute to a neighborhood. None of this is the fault of the renters, but has everything to do with our economic and political systems.

blumdrew
8 months ago
Reply to  Guy

Yes, surely tenant-landlord relations in the US need to be rebuilt regardless of anything else.

But concerning being disincentivized to make investments in the area, I’m less sure about. Most of my neighbors in my small apartment complex (10 units) garden in one way or another, even in the pretty marginal conditions allowed by our landlord. People like to cultivate their own space, and usually only don’t if they are unable to – either because of an overbearing landlord or a lack of resources. I think the lack of resources is really the key factor to consider, rather than the ephemeral nature of the US rental market – especially since renters tend to skew less wealthy.

Maybe it’s a combination of the more ephemeral nature of renting and the general lack of resources. We ought to try and remedy both.

qqq
qqq
8 months ago

One offshoot to this topic is the situation where people put basketball hoops for their kids in parking strips, so they can play basketball in the street. It’s not legal, but to me the more there are, the better the street is to live on.

I’ve seen heated NextDoor posts from people who’ve parked in front of them and had parents or kids ask them if they can park somewhere else. The drivers were offended–“It’s a public street, they can’t reserve it…” and there was almost no support for leaving the space clear, even when there were other spaces a few feet away.

They were right that it’s public, and can’t be reserved, but I felt like the people pushing that were the same people in other posts ranting about renters in new apartments (or even neighbor in the house next door) taking up the curb space in front of their houses that they feel should rightfully be only theirs, and off limits to anyone else.

Iconyms
Iconyms
8 months ago
Reply to  qqq

I think that is illegal actually? –

C. Nonvehicular property stored for any amount of time in a metered space or regulated parking zone is a nuisance and may be summarily abated.

https://www.portland.gov/code/16/20/170#:~:text=A.,the%20Bureau%20of%20Development%20Services.

qqq
qqq
8 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

Yes, it is illegal. I’d asked PBOT quite a while ago and got this answer (referencing a different code section than yours):

“The parking strip is considered by city code to be a part of the public right-of-way and therefore needs to remain free of unlawful obstructions or encroachments that could be a potential hazard or block the public from safely passing through.
 
In short, having a basketball hoop in the public right-of-way (the parking strip in this case) is considered an unlawful obstruction and is in violation of Portland City Code section 17.44.010. 
 
Furthermore, as per Portland City Code section 17.42.030, the property owner adjacent to the basketball hoop is liable to any person who is injured or otherwise suffers damage as a result of the unlawful obstruction. 
 
Under the same section they are also liable to the City of Portland, its officers, agents and employees for any judgment or expense incurred or paid by reason of the existence of any such structure in the street area.”

Fred
Fred
8 months ago
Reply to  qqq

A car can park anywhere, but the basketball hoop is more or less fixed in place, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to ask a driver to park somewhere else so kids can play basketball.

Still, it is a “taking” of public space on par with parking a car on the public street.

qqq
qqq
8 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Still, it is a “taking” of public space on par with parking a car on the public street.

The difference being that parking a car is legal, while putting a basketball hoop in the parking strip (where planting a large tree is legal) is not, nor is (I believe) playing in the street.

Matt
Matt
8 months ago

I’m not seeing where they’re expressing opposite opinions. A little help, please? Maybe two specific pull-quotes? Or otherwise elucidate your interpretation?

surejan
surejan
8 months ago

Are there really so many cars being left for “days at a time” in neighborhoods where the car-owner does not live? This sounds like an exaggeration, right along with the shade tree they “tend to”. I’ve lived amongst these older long-time homeowners. I’ve seen and experienced their entitlement, harassment, and crocodile tears. There is no good reason why renters and condo owners should concede public street parking to people who will no doubt profit immensely from the sale of their property bought 25 years ago.That Max nearby increased their property value.The businesses nearby increased their property value. Let’s call this comment what it really is: gatekeeping.They reap the benefits of Portland’s growth but don’t want to sacrifice anything to make it more livable for a generation who contribute to it.They bought their property years ago and think everything about Portland needs to change except for their private little million dollar oasis. “Can’t those people just take transit so I continue to have plenty of space for my two cars, boat, camper, and all my kids and grandkids’ cars? Someone add a Max pass to their rent/HOA fees while I look forward to a lavish retirement.”

squareman
squareman
8 months ago
Reply to  surejan

Actually, I do take care of the lovely shade trees in my planting strip, and I take care of the sidewalk when the trees’ roots contort the sidewalk next to the trees. I’m obligated to. It’s okay. I still don’t complain about people parking under “my” trees, but I will call it in for a tow tag if a car I don’t recognize is parked there for over a week, especially if it’s janky, an oversized truck, or as big as a Winnebago. Being close to a shopping center, we’ve had our share of abandoned joy rides left in front of our house. Makes it hard to keep the street free of leaves in the winter.

Matt
Matt
8 months ago
Reply to  squareman

A Winnebego, you say? Legally, an RV can be parked on a residential street for a maximum of 8 hours in Portland, and during that time it must be servicing, being serviced, being loaded, or being unloaded. Portland City Code 16.20.120 (H):

Except when specifically directed by authority of this Title or when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, it is unlawful to park or stop a vehicle:

[…]

H.  When the vehicle is: a truck, a truck trailer, a motor bus, a recreational vehicle, a utility trailer, a drop box or storage container, or has two or more rear axles in the public right-of-way adjacent to or directly across from residential, public park, church, or school property, except:

1.  When loading/unloading property belonging to the occupants of or performing a service on the adjacent residence, for a period not to exceed 8 hours; or

2.  A recreation vehicle when servicing or loading/unloading the vehicle for a period not to exceed 8 hours.

(bolding added)

jakeco969
jakeco969
8 months ago
Reply to  surejan

Completely agree! Don’t forget the high odds they are retired on a TIER 1 pension wondering why all “those people” are having money problems.

Fred
Fred
8 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Wow – why the specific animus toward public employees? Remember that no one hired into public service after 1995 is getting a Tier 1 pension, and the state even greatly reduced the Tier 2 pension in 2003. So most public employees you see walking around today are going to be just as poor, or poorer, than the rest of us.

jakeco969
jakeco969
8 months ago
Reply to  Fred

You extrapolated a lot from my very specific statement. I have nothing against public employees at all. Most are hard working and doing what they can to get by and if you’re not TIER 1 you don’t have much to look forward to in retirement. I have a lot of anger against the people that created TIER 1 which is so unsustainable that they had to create TIER 2 and then OPSRP (TIERS 3) with plummeting benefits compared to TIER 1. They then fought tooth and nail (and won) to prevent TIER 1 people from having any reduction whatsoever in their extensive benefits, basically refusing to share their largess with fellow public employees who had the bad fortune to be hired after 1995.

Fred
Fred
8 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

I’m with you there, jake. Tier 1 is manifestly unfair and I agree that it’s especially galling how Tier 1 employees agreed with the plan to shaft everyone who came after them.

But let’s remember that public employees are a small % of the population and they make very little compared to employees who work in private corporations. That’s where the real money is.

jakeco969
jakeco969
8 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Agreed (thumbs up emoji) and I appreciate both polite responses.
I was struck by surejan’s comments and they made me think how different the world is for the people who bought into housing 25-30 plus years ago before things got crazy, how the TIER 1 employees have amazing benefits including relatively early retirement and I’m jealous/mad that I didn’t come to Portland right after school to join in the good financial times. I really enjoyed Portland back when, but financially times were already getting hard in the 2000’s.

Steve
Steve
8 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Tier 1 employees agreed with the plan? What are you talking about?

TakeTheLane
TakeTheLane
8 months ago
Reply to  surejan

It appears that you are assuming most people are nomadic. To those of us who have chosen our neighborhoods carefully and want to die in our original homes, rising house values only make the property taxes less affordable. Mine have more than tripled since I moved in. It is very depressing for me to look at this trend toward pushing people to live in high density boxes. Large beautiful trees continue to be taken down in my neighborhood to make way for more high density housing.

jakeco969
jakeco969
8 months ago
Reply to  TakeTheLane

Did you read that back to yourself before you posted it?

To those of us who have chosen our neighborhoods carefully and want to die in our original homes, rising house values only make the property taxes less affordable.

I chose my home carefully as well, and I was still gentrified out. What in the world makes you think that any of the rest of us don’t want what you already have? You think people like being nomadic? That being unable to afford a down payment for a home is lots of fun? That you and your cronies are the only ones deserving of a nice neighborhood because you chose well and had the means available?
I think I will stop here.

surejan
surejan
8 months ago
Reply to  TakeTheLane

You know what makes living in high density box even more depressing? A neighbor harassing you for parking legally in the street which you are equally entitled to. Especially when that neighbor has more space and property than you ever will, probably even a driveway, and expects you to sell your car and ride the bus and to accommodate them. Can you imagine?

Aaron
8 months ago
Reply to  TakeTheLane

Feel lucky that you even had the opportunity to choose your neighborhood and home, and even consider planning to live out your life there. The rest of us are living lease to lease with only 12 months of stability at a time. What you have is an incredibly luxury that many of us can’t even imagine being able to afford.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

I certainly am lucky, but I also chose to live in a very cheap part of (what was then) a cheap city, rather than go where I really wanted to (and where I could have landed a better job).

I’m not offering you advice, but when I do talk to young people, I generally tell them to get out of Portland and find some place new where they can afford to live more comfortably. Our country is filled with wonderful places that would benefit from their energy.

PTB
PTB
8 months ago
Reply to  TakeTheLane

How have your taxes tripled?? The slow rate of tax increases is….slow. Unless you’ve done major upgrades to raise the assessed value the city uses to calculate your taxes, I don’t understand how they’ve gone up so dramatically. I pay more in East Portland than some Boomer friends that bought close in in the 90s. They’ve been locked in to low (but steadily, slowly rising) taxes based on the measly sum they paid for their homes. I bought 6 years ago, for considerably more than any home in the 90s sold for, and therefore I pay higher than they do.

Tax Experts, tell me what I’m getting wrong or missing here.

dw
dw
8 months ago

Thanks for highlighting my comment. I want to add some thoughts I’ve had while reading everyone else’s comments.

I like the phrase “No neighborhood should have to undergo radical change, but no neighborhood should be completely exempt from change.” I do agree that TakeTheLane is being a bit of a dweeb about parking in front of their house (imagine being able to afford an entire house 6 blocks from MAX!!), however, I think that they are coming from a reasonable(ish) place.

Of course there’s going to be more cars parked on adjacent streets when large apartment buildings go up. Case in point: me. I live in a big apartment building and park my car on adjacent streets. I think this situation is more a consequence of only allowing denser housing on busy streets and polluted arterials, rather than some implicit failure of denser housing projects themselves. When you build housing a lot of cars tend to follow – this is not a fact of nature, but just the reality of our society at the moment. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to change that.

Go find a gentrification architecture building with scarce or no parking. Then walk like, 7 blocks in any direction and you’ll find ample street parking. If more x-plexes, ADU’s, and small apartment buildings exsisted within neighborhoods, rather than big complexes at the fringes, existing street parking could be better utilized. Sure, it would mean that more people might have to park a little further away. My response to that is; if homeowners are really so concerned about being able to park right in front of their houses, then they need to store their vehicles on their property. If your house doesn’t have a driveway then put one in. Otherwise, they need to realize that the commons exist for the common good.

I’m not saying we don’t also need big apartment buildings directly next to transit, but the bellyaching about parking, I think, is a result of our policy choices forcing dense housing development into little slivers along major streets.

Oh, and for those places where there truly is a dearth of street parking within a reasonable walking distance of destinations? Put a price on parking. Low cost parking permits could be distributed to residents (including those who live in the multiplexes, sorry TakeTheLane), and then everyone who is just visiting pays the hourly rate. Pricing works wonders for regulating availability of parking and might also help PBOT raise some extra cash.

My neighborhood doesn’t currently have paid street parking, but if the city did implement it, I would have no qualms paying for a parking permit.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  dw

I think this situation is more a consequence of only allowing denser housing on busy streets and polluted arterials

It’s mostly a consequence of letting developers externalize their parking issues onto their neighbors.

aquaticko
aquaticko
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Gee, if only transit was run well enough that 95% people couldn’t plausibly claim to need a car….Your beloved autonomous electric cars will help this problem to an extent–if they should ever materialize without wreaking havoc on their surroundings–but they and the urban spaces dedicated to them, and any non-autonomous cars, remain spaces that shouldn’t be forced on private developers, and shouldn’t be borne by a public that should be able to get around easily without one.

Quite plainly, we don’t need cars without first compromising our built environment to force their necessity on us. That this paradox isn’t the starting point for our conversations about these related issues is a mistake from the get-go.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

if only transit was run well enough that 95% people couldn’t plausibly claim to need a car

If only it were.

By the way, I would love this outcome, but no one seems to have any plausible ideas for how to make it so, so I don’t have any reason to think this will be the future.

My beloved automated taxis, on the other hand, are now available all across SF (and several other cities), and seem to have an excellent safety record compared to human piloted vehicles. And they could plausibly resolve most (but not all) of the complaints that non-ideologues have about cars (safety, human error, drunk driving, pollution, parking, etc.).

I’m not voting for a future, I’m evaluating what’s most likely.

Iconyms
Iconyms
8 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

I honestly wish I could figure out how to bike more instead of take the car but I haven’t been able to. When I had a commute for work that was an easy one.

However now with two kids 1.5 and 5 it unfortunately feels very rare that a bike or public transit makes sense.

Most of my trips lately have been either going grocery shopping or going bike or dirtbike riding with the kids.

All seem to involve the car, for groceries I need more room than I can get on a bike and I need to bring the kids, fitting two kids on a bike isn’t easy, plus depending on the destination often a stroller is good to bring.

Then for biking with them – having the 5 year old ride his own bike there aren’t safe fun places near us so we load up and drive the bikes somewhere :/

Maybe those big cargo bikes could work for groceries & strollers but they are more $$ than a car!! at least for an electric one which I think I’d need to actually make use of it.

eawriste
eawriste
8 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

My friend has a Bullitt. Not as much as a car, but certainly expensive. On sale though.

Iconyms
Iconyms
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Thanks! Wow $7-$6k seems very expensive to me even compared to a car.

I guess I’m used to buying very used cars. Got a minivan for $1800 that’s been solid for about 4 years now after a bit of work.

Hippodamus
Hippodamus
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You say they are externalizing the issue, but the real problem is that both you and them are externalizing the issue. If you need the parking, then you too are externalizing.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  Hippodamus

Perhaps, but that doesn’t change the situation that the developer is externalizing some of their costs onto neighbors. That someone else did this earlier (when it didn’t cause problems for anyone else) doesn’t seem particularly relevant.

eawriste
eawriste
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“That someone else did this earlier (when it didn’t cause problems for anyone else) doesn’t seem particularly relevant.”

I’m not sure if Hippodamus is alluding to zoning codes/land use, and if you, Watts, are accepting those as neutral. If so, the means by which cities were zoned was problematic at best. Much of what we see as geographical divisions between neighborhoods (e.g., Albina, Overlook) paved the way, literally, for massive freeways and displacement via redlining and other methods. Zoning was an explicit decision to exclude certain groups of people. So when you say developers are externalizing their costs, this is true in only the most trivial sense.

Because of the zoning codes in the US, ~3/4 of cities are zoned light residential (in Portland R7) or essentially “off limits” to redevelopment. This zoning fits hand in hand with minimum parking requirements since both (zoning and parking) were based on pseudoscience (see ITE Parking Generation Manual). And that seemingly benign decision comes with a very high price tag. That jacks up the price for rent, homes etc. For the most part developers have no legal requirement to build storage (other than for bikes). And they shouldn’t. I’m certainly not saying developers are “naïve” or “innocent”, but we’re not either.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

This isn’t an argument about zoning, it’s about externalizing the costs of car ownership, something I am generally against.

By all means, build your building without parking, but rent to people without cars and let your renters reap the savings as a reward for not having one. Don’t put the cost of your tenants owning a car onto your neighbors.

eawriste
eawriste
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“By all means, build your building without parking, but rent to people without cars and let your renters reap the savings as a reward for not having one. Don’t put the cost of your tenants owning a car onto your neighbors.”

Your implicit assumption above is that it is solely the developer who has a social (not legal) obligation to maintain the availability of private storage in a neighborhood. But that availability is only there because everyone implicitly subsidizes it. City leaders have decided to put the burden of cost on the public, not the private owner of a car. The actual cost of that public space is far higher, as reflected by the movement of many cities to either remove free parking, charge for that space based on market prices or simply removing public parking altogether and requiring people to have a private space prior to purchasing private transport.

Ignoring the constraints put on developers (e.g., zoning, parking fees) here means ignoring the actual cost of subsidized private storage. This decision is similar to pointing to cost of gasoline without recognizing the subsidies involved (i.e., $646 billion/year). What is the actual cost of allowing a specific group of people to store their property for free?

Private storage in the public realm is part of a social contract shared by everyone, not just a commodity developers are involved with.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

I’ll make my implicit assumption explicit: if you do something big that causes the commons to become severely overdrawn, the moral burden is on you to stop doing it. That would apply to a new industrial facility sucking up a huge amount of groundwater, to a commercial fishing trawler leaving few fish for the small-scale fishermen, or to a developer who builds a 30 unit housing complex where the tenants can reasonably be expected to have cars, but have no place to put them in a neighborhood that is already tight on street parking. You can make the case that in all those examples, everyone has an equal claim on the resource, but I don’t see it that way.

I realize this does grant some moral rights to incumbents that were using the resource before it became overdrawn that are not afforded to newcomers who contributed to the additional burden, but I also believe my view generally aligns with how most people interpret the “social contract”.

What is the actual cost of allowing a specific group of people to store their property for free?

Good question. What is the actual cost? In many cases, it’s essentially zero. In some, I’m sure it’s much higher than that.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

the commons to become severely overdrawn

Having the limited number of taxpayer-subsidized parkings spaces in a neighborhood overdrawn is good from a density and transportation decarbonization perspective.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

It’s not good if people have to drive around the block a dozen times to find a parking space, or delivery vehicles park in the bike lane because there’s no other place to unload.

eawriste
eawriste
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“Good question. What is the actual cost? In many cases, it’s essentially zero. In some, I’m sure it’s much higher than that.”

Here is where we differ by orders of magnitude (and I urge you to read some research, the cost of free parking or another book on the issue).

You’re saying the actual [immediate] cost to everyone in some cases is zero. It sounds very benign.

Providing a free public space that we all pay for periodic maintenance, paving, a space that encourages the free use of fossil fuels (which is already subsidized by the government), a space which promotes air pollution causing asthma and pre-mature death most often in vulnerable groups of the population. A space that puts us in the group of world outliers such as Georgia and Russia in number of road deaths per capita. This is a space that could be used for other purposes (e.g., separated bike infrastructure, trees, water retention, park, basketball hoop).

Stop and really let the actual value sink in. We have 2 billion parking spaces in the US. That’s around the size of Connecticut. We all pay for that because the ITE manual decided arbitrarily to require it decades ago. And we are only now realizing what that cost us.

You essentially ask: “What is the monetary value of that particular space at this moment (ignoring all other factors)?” My answer to that would be when you measure the monetary value of something skin deep, you end up with unintended consequences that cost you (and everyone else) a lot more in the long run (e.g., climate change).

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

The costs you’ve listed are maintenance, paving, “encouragement of pollution”, asthma and premature death, and, more nebulously, road deaths in general.

Paving is a sunk cost, maintenance is minimal (especially compared to converting the area to other uses, such as a swale), and the other costs aren’t really costs of parking at all (and in many cases, parked vehicles narrow the street and slow traffic, as well as buffer pedestrians from moving vehicles, and thus reduce the likelihood of a fatal crash).

If we compare the cost of maintenance vs the cost of converting the spot to any other use, I stand by my assessment of zero or near zero cost.

There are certainly cases where transitioning parking into some other use makes sense, but developers externalizing their parking costs would only make that sort of conversion harder. But that’s not what this conversation is about.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

So it’s absolutely OK for home/loanowners to reap the reward of government subsidized parking but not OK for tenants* living in the same neighborhood to do so.

At least you are making your biases clear!

*no skin in the game and no roots in the neighborhood according to NA types

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

My view has no bearing on whether somebody rents or owns their abode; it has to do with who is adding a new significant drain on a shared resource. My view would be the same if street parking was used predominantly by renters, and somebody built a new large condo development that offloaded their parking cost onto their renting neighbors.

My view is based on who breaks a previously working system.

Charley
Charley
8 months ago
Reply to  dw

I think you’re right: if zoning didn’t force development into “tiny slivers” we’d probably have a more diffuse pattern of growth. In that case, negative effects (like parking) wouldn’t be so concentrated, and the prospect of an apartment building going up nearby wouldn’t be so terrifying/enraging to homeowners.

If there weren’t such strong emotions around this, I think politically savvy and connected homeowners wouldn’t be as strongly incentivized to oppose multi-family developments.

I’m of two minds about parking on one’s own private property:

1. People should just buy houses with a driveway/garage if they care about parking that much! Better yet, if they care strongly that no one parks in front of their house, maybe they should advocate for a bike lane in front.

2. The housing market is $#!++¥ for buyers. After the stress of multiple failed bids on homes, buyers often settle when an offer is finally accepted.

So…
1. My profession requires that I live in a single family home (I’m a musician who plays a noisy instrument) and that I drive a car (I work all over town and do gigs down the valley, too).

I could say I’ve been “lucky” that my homes have all had off-street parking, but the reality is I would have gone nuts if I didn’t have a convenient place to park. That creates a strong incentive to prioritize the parking situation, and my family’s income allows us to pay for the pleasure. Parking concerns considerably narrowed my house search last year.

2. But not everyone has that freedom of choice, and people are just trying to make do.

That said, I am well aware that anyone can park in front of my house and all homeowners should recognize that fact.

mc
mc
8 months ago

F! cars! F! car parking! They both take up a tremendous amount of public space as they depreciate while they sit around for 90# of their lifetime.

Yeah, I’m one of the poor folks in this world, but I never have to pay to park my bike or make a payment on my bike nor have to pay for insurance to cover the death & destruction I might cause with it.

Cars are a fuq’n plague. I hate looking at them wherever I go. I hate hearing these dangerous a-holes racing them around town, I hate smelling their nasty gasses, I hate having to constantly think about them and pay attention to them lest I be maimed or killed by one of them.

Gawd, I so fuq’n tired of cars t to the point that I absolutely delight when extreme weather events due to catastrophic climate change that the auto & fossil fuel companies created leaves them burnt to a crisp or floating away.

Granpa
Granpa
8 months ago
Reply to  mc

Thank you for this post. I have been concerned that there is not enough hatred and profanity in public discourse.

Matt S
Matt S
8 months ago
Reply to  mc

Anger management can go a long way.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
8 months ago
Reply to  mc

I absolutely delight when extreme weather events due to catastrophic climate change that … leaves them burnt to a crisp

The fact that the car owners (human beings) most vulnerable to climate crisis catastrophe tend to be lower-income and people of color does not apparently matter much to those who gloat about them being burnt to a crisp. Nor is there much (any?) consideration for the car owners (human beings) who have also been burnt to a crisp in this numtot mantra of misplaced hatred.

Fred
Fred
8 months ago
Reply to  mc

I really like this comment b/c I think it’s the only one that addresses the problem of cars at the level that it really needs to be addressed.

The rest of us are talking about parking and shade trees and basketball hoops while the world is actually on fire. We fiddle while Rome burns.

qqq
qqq
8 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Parking, shade trees and basketball hoops are all central to the issue of cars.

Charley
Charley
8 months ago

The attitude that a person “owns” the street in front of their house is a great example of an unearned entitlement. It’s a public facility!

Does the homeowner living in the house have any more right to the use of that public space than the renter living in the apartment nearby? People get so upset about apartment dwellers using parking spaces. The fact that they don’t get upset about homeowners using these spaces shows the kind of entitlement that I think a lot of us find offensive.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
8 months ago

I’ve come across numerous communities all over the USA, particularly those with HOAs (Home Owner Associations), where the public right-of-way begins at the curb rather than at the inside of the sidewalk, that there are in fact many places where property owners also own their sidewalk and that grassy strip and trees outright, or it’s owned by a condo, an HOA, or a Planned Unit Development (PUD) rather than by the municipality. Some streets are even privately-owned and maintained, including I think Sam Jackson in Portland (or at least it was a decade ago). Such areas are not great places to live nor one I would choose to live in, IMO, but many Americans do in fact live in them – I think I saw on a previous BP post that somewhere like 40% of Americans live in such communities.

Fred
Fred
8 months ago

Kudos to dw for owning a Honda Fit, but the bottom line is that car ownership means increased car use. Really the only way to reduce *driving* is to reduce car ownership.

And if people continue to drive cars at the current rate, the climate is screwed – and we are screwed with it. We need a radical rethinking of how we get around, starting with a HUGE cut in VMT. However it happens, it needs to happen now.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
8 months ago

I live on the same block as a public library, and I watch my neighbors purposely park their cars to take up extra on-street spaces to prevent library users from parking in front of their houses. One affluent family converted their garage into an arts-and-crafts room for their two children, and now park their two vehicles (SUV and minivan) in such a way that they take up FIVE spaces on the public streets. My next door neighbor has one vehicle (SUV) which is usually parked offstreet in her driveway, but she leaves her yard waste, recycling, and garbage bins in the street throughout the week to prevent people from parking in front of her house. Another household with a garage and a long driveway sometimes park both their vehicles (one SUV, one hybrid) and deploy their bins to block off the entire street in front of their house (a 50′ wide lot) “in case” their young son might way to use the basketball hoop they’ve put up. (Because my home office overlooks the street, I know that most of these day, he does not use the hoop at all, and honestly, there is a full basketball court at this child’s school, which is only five blocks away, as well as at another park nearby, so even if he were training for the NBA, there are already free public resources aplenty to use). Between these three households, 150′ of public street are taken up at once, even though EVERY ONE of these houses has offstreet parking. Why is there no mechanism for preventing such behavior?

qqq
qqq
8 months ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

In Portland, it’s not legal to leave your bins on the street. I believe the regulation is you can put them out the night before, but must remove them within 24 hours of pickup. You can report violations here:

https://www.portland.gov/bds/code-enforcement/code-enforcement-phone-numbers
(scroll to “other types of concerns”)

There are some Airbnbs in my neighborhood where the long-term residents always park on the street to reserve the off-street spaces for Airbnb guests. It’s similar to your neighbors’ behavior. Not sure what you can do about that.

Arturo P
Arturo P
8 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Oh please Portland doesn’t even enforce parking laws on broken down sewage leaking RV’s. They will never respond to a complaint about trash cans being out too long. There’s a truck with a fender hanging off it (it’s not driveable) that’s been there 3 years near my apartment. POBT says it’s fine.

qqq
qqq
8 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

The City is inconsistent. Sometimes you get no action. Other times you do, especially with simple things. I’ve generally (certainly not always) had good luck.

Also, just the fact it’s not legal is valuable. People who won’t respond to a request out of neighborliness will often respond when you can tell them what they’re doing isn’t legal, and you can turn them in.

John
John
8 months ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Well on paper it is illegal to park in the same place for over 24 hours and I would assume these bad neighbors sometimes do that, if not frequently.

I think you can get information about it (and reporting it) here: https://www.portland.gov/transportation/parking/report-illegally-parked-vehicle

EP
EP
8 months ago

Someone in a new/spendy condo multiplex building in my neighborhood drove a huge, lifted quad-cab pickup, and frequently parked it in his tiny driveway, with it sticking out across the sidewalk and into the street, forcing people to walk in the street. Or, he’d park it taking up two spaces, and/or blocking fire hydrants. It feels SO GOOD to drop a dime on that behavior and see parking enforcement pull up and ticket them. They actually tow you if you’re in front of a hydrant. “THINK OF THE EMERGENCY VEHICLES!”

I haven’t seen the pickup in months, I think he either moved or bought a smaller car. A big part of this is vehicle size. There’d be a whole lot more parking available if your neighbor wasn’t parking their pointless huge vehicle on the street. Not sure how to regulate that, but it’s something to think about. Sadly most metered/painted/assigned parking spots around the city are sized for rather large vehicles.

Justin
Justin
8 months ago
Reply to  EP

A big part of it is vehicle size?? Their “pointless huge vehicle?” Are you kidding me?! Some of us actually, ya know, work (gasp!) in the trades and need a big truck to do real work like fixing YOUR plumbing, masonry, electrical, carpentry, painting, landscaping, and so many others. I swear to high hell you are so out of touch with the kind of real labor that is ACTUALLY needed for the functioning of the very city you live in and have the privilege of complaining about.

Not everyone can drive a Honda fit and work from home. You are so clueless.

Aaron
8 months ago
Reply to  Justin

You must not be aware of the actual facts. The Ford F-150 has been the best selling vehicle of any type in the US for 41 years and its physical size has been growing larger during that entire time. Only about 14% of Americans work in “blue collar” jobs, not all of which necessarily need the individual to own their own work truck to haul oversized materials to the job. The vast majority of large trucks are bought by the office workers who never use them for their intended purpose and actually would be much better served by a Honda Fit, that’s the problem.

The vast majority of Americans are working in service jobs or white collar jobs and yet they are still buying massive trucks that they can’t drive safely and are hogging all the on-street parking and other resources from the small sliver of people who buy those vehicles because they actually need them.

qqq
qqq
8 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Yes, the statistics I’ve seen are incredible. The majority (by far) of pickup truck owners rarely use their beds. A high percentage use them once per year or less. A huge majority of trucks equipped for off-road use have never gone off pavement. A huge majority never tow anything. A huge majority of trips in extended cab pickups are made by people commuting alone to desk jobs.

EP
EP
8 months ago
Reply to  Justin

Justin, you are so clueless with your “wHat AbOuT thE CoNtRActoRs” delusions. I am all for contractors having contractor vehicles, but it’s amazing how often even those vehicles are overkill. I’ve done a bit of work in/with the trades, and it’s always the older, wiser contractors that realize what they _really_ need, and have the appropriate, reasonably-sized vehicle for their trade. It’s the younger guys that get sold a huge monthly payment on the “Aw, man, you TOTALLY need this huge rig” BS from the auto sales guy. Despite your saying every tradesperson needs a pickup, it would seem the majority of plumbers and electricians are best served by a nice, secure full-size van with lots of storage for all the little parts. Masons and landscapers can use a pickup bed more, carpenters and painters appreciate the bed and a good ladder rack. But, all those trades also have skilled and smart people driving vans and smaller vehicles, and a lot of the other trades get by just fine with one of the smaller vans. Don’t get me started on the tradespeople that only work on one huge job site for years, haul nothing more than their hardhat/PPE and lunch, and “need” a pickup to commute to work.

Re: The “pointless huge vehicle” I was referencing; This neighbor lives alone, is some kind of fancy tech bro, and had a giant, shiny, never-seen-a-bit-of-work-in-its-life huge pickup truck. WITH all the off-road accessories, but nary a speck of mud, nor a scuffed tire sidewall. Thus it is a pointless huge vehicle.

I also have two other neighbors, who both bought THE SAME giant new F-350 pickup, in the same color, to replace their two small sedans. I think the trucks have done about zero work, as the owners park them in the driveway while they work from home. The only time I’ve seen the bed used on those is when one of them uses a stepladder to climb up in it to wash the roof of the cab. It would all be kind of hilarious if I wasn’t worried about getting run over by them. Those two pickups are also pointless huge vehicles, but in the context of this story, at least their matching pickups fit in their driveway.

Our roads have filled up with too many large vehicles that shouldn’t have been allowed to sneak through CAFE and safety standards and we need to close a bunch of loopholes and start regulating them off the road.

Also Honda Fits are amazing cars, can haul a ton, and have way more “work” capability than they’re given credit for.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  EP

Came across this a few weeks ago, and this seems as good a time as any to post it.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/04/28/what-does-your-work-truck-say-about-you

EP
EP
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

YES! That is a classic post and as timely now as ever. Thanks for sharing, I hope Justin gets a chance to read it.

jakeco969
jakeco969
8 months ago
Reply to  Justin

If you’re really using a 350 or lifted something or dually or spent extra on big tires there is a good chance you’re wasting money. Unless you’re an independent contractor sheetrocking by yourself there is a good chance you’d be better off with a van or even better a minvan with a trailer hitch for the few times you’ll need to haul bulk items. Easier to get to your equipment, protected from the elements and thieves and easier to maneuver around a job site. Also, if you’re independent your work rig is the first thing a client will see about you when you arrive and if you turn them off then you might not get any work from them and waste time setting up the next gig.

Charley
Charley
8 months ago
Reply to  Justin

During the pandemic I worked as a carpenter. Neither of us needed a massive pickup to do our jobs. I have a 2001 Tacoma: great for sheet goods, concrete, gravel, lumber, etc. My boss has a van: great for tools.

In town, the big trucks are just a combination of tax write-off and virtue-signaling. None of these people own a freaking ranch and need to haul three tons of cattle on a dirt road over a mountain pass.

Gimme a break.

EP
EP
8 months ago

A big part of this problem is that it’s just so convenient to store your private vehicle in the public street. Enforcement is lax in Portland, and even obviously abandoned/destroyed/torched vehicles still take days to get towed. I’ve known people that park close to the MAX, head to the airport, and leave town for weeks!

One solution to this is to have odd/even parking. I used to live in a snowy part of the country where EVERYONE had to move their car, and/or just park on the correct side of the street, which changed EVERY day, other than those great 31st/1st months. Some places assign it to a day of the week. If your car isn’t moved, it gets TOWED.

This is a great way to quickly clear out derelict vehicles, but also a pain when you forget to move your car. However, this can help force people to give up a car they don’t really use/need if the constant moving of a car is more of a hassle than it’s worth.

Look to other cities for solutions
Look to other cities for solutions
8 months ago
Reply to  EP

While Portland has grown in population and economy in the last thirty years, its leadership hasn’t really grown up with it. A real city tickets and tows cars quickly, like you say – before the snow plow, or perhaps more relevant for Portland, before the street sweeper, which in a well-managed city would be regular. Once the abandoned cars have been dealt with, towing is a source of revenue (and I hear PBOT needs some), it helps the populace feel like the city is paying attention, and it prevents many of the conflicts that this thread is debating. I’m all for moving to an AB street parking schedule.

Aaron
8 months ago
Reply to  EP

Couldn’t agree more. I used to live in a small walkable neighborhood in a car dependent city and the local laws required me to move my car weekly for street cleaning. I only drove when I really had to and every time I had to go out and move the car it was a hassle that made me consider how I could get rid of it. Ultimately it wasn’t feasible to live in that city without a car, so I ended up selling it and moving to Portland.

EP
EP
8 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

When I lived in the city with alternating parking, friends would always complain about having to move their car, and other friends would BRAG that they didn’t own a car and thus didn’t have to deal with the BS. Funny how at times the inconvenience of having something suddenly makes NOT having it the cooler/better option!

SD
SD
8 months ago

It is not fully appreciated that when people who can afford to travel to destinations for vacation go on vacation, they often go to places where there are no or very few cars. Meanwhile, people who cannot afford to go to low car environments to relax, spend everyday surrounded by the stress of cars. – Many of those cars driven by the wealthy people who have relaxing vacations.

Iconyms
Iconyms
8 months ago

imho it’s so so much harder to not take trips via car when you have young kids. I think by household this is around 25% of portland.

Before I had two kids I used to bike a lot more, probably 80% of my trips by bike. Now it’s totally reversed, 20% bike, 80% car.

Why?

  1. Buying more groceries, hard to fit on a bike.
  2. Hard to bring two young kids on a bike.
  3. Hard to have your kid bike with you on errands given extra dangers of cars, kids slower speed, less endurance and having it be illegal for them to have electric assist to help with their speed and endurance.
  4. Strollers are sometimes needed which is hard when combined with other shopping and kid carrying needs via bike.
  5. I love biking with my kids but not on my 35 mph street where everyone goes 40-45 so I end up putting all our bikes somewhere and driving us all to a safer biking area.

I’m sure a lot of people have solutions and ideas and maybe many can work around these but I haven’t found solutions that work well enough for me yet.

SD
SD
8 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

I couldn’t do one kid without a cargo bike or two kids without an e-cargo bike. The secondary market for these has really picked up making them more affordable. This summer, I saw a lot more around.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the times I’ve spent riding my kids around on a bike are some of the best moments of my life. There is so much to see and talk about and the simple joy of being outside together is the best.

There are probably a good number of cargo bikes that would be great for carrying kids sitting in garages that should be sold to people who want them. True, they don’t work for every trip, but there are so many trips that are done by car out of habit rather than necessity.

EP
EP
8 months ago
Reply to  SD

Cargo bikes are such a great answer to so many of the parking problems presented in all these comments. Especially issues of biking with kids! I’ve put a couple thousand miles on a bunch of them over the past few years, and so many great memories have been made that wouldn’t have happened with a bike trailer. I started with a Tom Labonty welded setup, and slowly worked my way up to nicer ones, now with an e-assist R&M. They DO require a bit of parking space, sort of what you’d think of for a motorcycle/moped.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  EP

A heavy expensive motorized cargo bike is well along the bike-car continuum. Not as fast as a motorcycle, but carries a lot more people and cargo.

I don’t mean that as a critique — I agree, they are a great solution for some people and situations.

EP
EP
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yep, I don’t use the ecargo bike exclusively, as I’ve got simpler bikes for other things. It’s amazing though, how well an ecargo bike works for a car replacement.

Given the monstrous-size of some of the “personal vehicles” at the bigger/higher end of that bike-car continuum, I’ll take more cargo bikes all day over any more SUVs/pickups!

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  EP

I’ll take more cargo bikes all day over any more SUVs/pickups!

I know I’m not supposed to say it, but I totally agree with this point. Bring them on.

Iconyms
Iconyms
8 months ago
Reply to  SD

Yea I’ve been tempted by an cargo bike, I tried an eike one but I found personally I couldn’t really crack 20 mph even with assist all the way – I think maybe this is the regulation here? My normal pace is 28-32 mph which to me feels a lot safer considering the roads I have to take are 35 mph.

Not to mention the crazy prices I think it was $8k !! which is 4x more than I paid for our minivan that’s far more useful.

I used to do a 45 minute each way commute on my bike and loved it. My kids love going on the bike and the oldest loves biking himself. Our favorite times so far though have all involved first loading the bikes into the van to drive somewhere safer and more fun to ride – like the gateway green bike park, or the bike path along the gorge.

I love 2 wheels, love biking with my kids, would love to sell the car etc. but it just feels so so far from actually being practical or making sense. 🙁

dw
dw
8 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

given extra dangers of cars

 but not on my 35 mph street where everyone goes 40-45

These seem like maybe the biggest barriers. These are more structural/policy than individual problems. You are already raising two young kids; it’s not on you to change the dangerous streets in your neighborhood.

Cargo bikes are expensive but not prohibitively so, so if the infrastructure was better that could be a solution. I’ve also seen people use those cool little single-wheel trailers where the kid has a seat and set of pedals they can use. Maybe when one is old enough to keep up with you hauling the younger one that could be a good way for you all to ride together?

I think it is reasonable to use a car for large shopping trips. Not everyone has a grocery store within easy walking or biking distance (though they should!!)