Monday Roundup: Autobesity, e-bike manifesto, safe systems, and more

Happy Monday everyone. Greetings from California. I can’t wait to get home to Portland. I love being down here in Southern California with my family, but I miss home. And I’ve done sooo much driving in the past week! It really bums me out how car-centric things are down here.

Enough about me (for now)… Here are the most notable stories our writers and readers have come across in the past seven days…

Get tough on drivers: Like I’ve been saying forever, if we truly want to reduce the use of cars, we must take direct actions against drivers. Smart people agree that, “carrots alone are not sufficient to overcome the entrenched infrastructure and incentives, which today favors car use.” (Forbes)

Safe systems pyramid: A good overview of what Portland is trying to do with “safe systems” — that is, focusing less on changing individual behavior and more on creating a transportation system that reduces kinetic energy of vehicles. (Governing)

Two-way is the way: Oregon is full of one-way streets in downtowns that prioritize the speed and volume of car users over everything else. A growing body of evidence shows that we should convert those to two-way streets if we want people and economies to thrive. (Transfers Magazine)

Can’t cool down: Why do so few people use cooling centers during heat waves? “If you don’t have a car, you either have to walk or wait at a bus stop in sweltering heat, which might be more dangerous than staying where you are.” (Grist)

An e-bike manifesto: Yes, the author of this article is biased, but I find it hard to argue with their points about how the rapid growth of electric bikes is more than just a passing fad and represents a possible paradigm shift. (Electrek)

Council climate compromise: A report says Portland city commissioners Dan Ryan and Carmen Rubio met in private with oil company Zenith Energy to allow them to operate, despite council’s rejection of their permit. (DeSmog)

Housing, not drug use: This autopsy on what ails San Francisco is relevant to Portland, although I have a hunch our housing policies are in much better shape than theirs. In short: The main solution to homelessness is more aggressive housing production. (The Week)

This week in autobesity: A British outfit found that more than 150 car models are too big to fit in standard parking spaces. It begs the question: Will drivers of smaller cars ever revolt against drivers of larger ones for taking up their precious parking spaces? Or will the ire against these absurd behemoths remain only among cycling, pedestrian, and urbanism activists? (Guardian UK)

Free housing for cars: I read this essay waiting for some acknowledgment that this person’s auto-oasis during Covid was able to exist free on public right-of-way because it was a car, but it never came and it really speaks to a central problem with American cities: That we give away valuable space to cars for almost nothing, while we don’t have enough space for all the humans and other cool stuff. (Washington Post Opinion)

Good money after bad: If the idea of PBOT spending millions to operate car parking facilities downtown troubles you, wait until you hear the news that they’ll spend millions more to secure empty ones. (The Oregonian)


Thanks to everyone who shared links this week!

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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blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago

The Zenith Oil business is incredibly disappointing, and shows how hollow most of the climate commitments are for the local governments. All of the oil infrastructure is on landfill next to the Willamette, and will almost certainly undergo liquefaction when the big one hits and will thus cause a huge (avoidable) environmental catastrophe. It’s extraordinarily irresponsible to continue to allow that to persist, regardless of climate policy. But the fact that our city councilors are doing back room deals to expand that infrastructure just flies in the face of everything we ought to be focusing on.

Based on the way things go here, it just seems like earthquake resiliency is a buzzword used by engineers to prioritize whatever they want – not an actual guiding policy. Which is something I think you can see in the state level “seismic lifeline” routes – they are just the freeways. But in a lot of ways, freeways are uniquely vulnerable to earthquakes – since they have tons of bridges and ramps required for access. It doesn’t really make sense for I5 to be a seismic lifeline route if the Eastbank section falls into the river (due to liquefaction), or the ramps from the Fremont Bridge fall onto it.

Anyways, I’m not really an expert of seismology it just doesn’t feel like the threat of an earthquake is taken very seriously. So when it does get brought up (like for the IBR), it feels like an attempt to prevent reasonable dissent to the project. And an approach like this is really going to be evident when a big earthquake hits.

OregonRainstorm87
OregonRainstorm87
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I agree that it isn’t being take very seriously. Tilikum isn’t even really going to be the bridge savior that we need in light of predicted 9 earthquake looming over us….. what good will a very tall sturdy bridge be when you can’t use the ramps to access it…

“Westiders hoping to evacuate via bike over the Tilikum Bridge are out of luck: TriMet did not build the approaches to the car-free bridge to withstand liquefaction.”
https://www.wweek.com/news/city/2019/03/06/four-rumors-have-sprouted-during-portlands-earthquake-backlash-whats-the-truth/

John
John
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

One example of a real head scratcher (really, just bolstering the fact that Rubio and Ryan are both corrupt and probably bribed), was this quote from Rubio:

We don’t have the authority to rescind this. The decision was processed in the same manner as every other LUCS,

This is the biggest, most obviously absurd lie. If you didn’t have the authority to “rescind this”, then there was no decision. Then there was no need for any administrative process. But, there was a need for something to be done, which means, of course your hands were not tied.

There needs to be consequences for this.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John

Rubio and Ryan are both corrupt and probably bribed

The politics of personal destruction.

I don’t know the details of how the process works, but it may be that if they override a process that was handled properly to single out a particular applicant, they would get sued and lose.

You’ve identified their explanation as an “obviously absurd lie”, so you might know better how this works than I do. If so, it would be helpful if you could explain it.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Earthquake fearmongering in Portland was triggered, in part, by a dubious report prepared at ODOT’s behest. Who could have know that a freeway department has a vested interest in soliciting reports that justify more funding to upgrade and expand freeways?
.
When actual seismologists conducted a study to examine the impact of a M9 CSZ earthquake they found that damage to bridges along the I5 corridor would be :

The new analysis produced by researchers in the UW Department of Civil &
Environmental Engineering for the Washington State Department of
Transportation reconfirmed the predicted damage along the outer coast
and its post-quake isolation. But it concluded the great majority of
bridges in the inland I-5 corridor should remain standing…

…Eberhard explained, as you move inland from the Pacific Coast, the seismic energy decreases with distance. Additionally, he said the softer sedimentary rocks that happen to underlie the region’s biggest cities could absorb the high-intensity motions that are most damaging. The research team also determined that typical Northwest highway bridges were built much stronger than the minimum design standard.

https://www.opb.org/article/2022/12/05/some-freeways-may-be-useable-following-the-big-one-per-new-modeling-by-uw/

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

That model you are citing did not include liquefaction which is arguably the biggest single risk in the Portland area, as so much of the city is built on some kind of landfill. I also am generally unsure as to how much of that study is applicable to Portland, as it seems to be more focused on Washington than Oregon. But I don’t disagree that our various state DOTs more or less use whatever evidence they can to justify whatever they feel they “need” to do.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

did not include liquefaction

The CH2M Hill* and subsequent ODOT Bridge Seismic Committee updates also did not include liquefaction. Perhaps instead of giving credence to evidence-less fear, you should just stick to “I’m not really an expert of seismology”.

it seems to be more focused on Washington

They included the I5 bridge which ODOT views as the among the most vulnerable in Portland

* The idea that this consulting org has any kind of deep expertise in seismology is beyond absurd..

John
John
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

What is absurd is taking a future catastrophe that even your citation of a less motivated source says will destroy some of our bridges and buildings, and thinking oh we have a solid handle of the situation and should just act like it’s no big deal. This is exactly like the climate change skeptics thinking hey, I found one person to credibly predict a slightly different outcome, ergo the really bad scenarios are nothing to worry about.

We do not have a really great way to precisely predict how bad the earthquake will be, what side effects it will have that we didn’t consider (or did but thought “our bridges were built slightly above bare minimum standards). I’m not a seismology, but neither are you and even the seismologists would say there is a good amount of uncertainty. It’s a pretty big gamble to take a big unknown like that and assume it’s all going to be better than expected.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  John

This is exactly like the climate change skeptics thinking hey, I found one person to credibly predict a slightly different outcome, ergo the really bad scenarios are nothing to worry about.

Yeah…those who claim that we should use the scientific method and mathematical modeling to measure risk due to M9 earthquakes or associated liquefaction are just like climate change skeptics.

The UW team is currently studying liquefaction risk so we should have some actual science-based modeling soon.

We do not have a really great way to precisely predict how bad the earthquake will be…

The entire point of statistical modeling whether it be climate science or seismology is to give human beings a better understand of risk.

It’s a pretty big gamble to take a big unknown like that and assume it’s all going to be better than expected.

Perhaps instead of reacting based on anecdotes we should prioritize bridges that are most at risk-based on science-based modeling. This would require Oregon to actually fund studies by experts in the field instead of throwing more money at the select group of consusltants they always throw money (who are not experts in earthquake science).

John
John
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Hey, you and me both hope it won’t be as bad as some predict, and maybe with more information and study that conclusion can be reached, but even the best UW study is just going to show that it will be a very bad earthquake, and that has potential enough to cause mass destruction in this area.

Waving it off as fear mongering because our very best study of an imperfect science predicts with no certainty at all that we might barely squeak by less-scathed is just foolish.

Perhaps instead of reacting based on anecdotes we should prioritize bridges that are most at risk…

Yes, of course. Agree. My only point of disagreement is you throwing cold water on very real concerns about a very real threat in the context of huge stores of oil sitting next to a big river. It’s not something we should be relaxing about.

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Right, but the discussion at hand has more to do with the specifics of the geology and human history of the Portland basin – which is (in general) quite prone to liquefaction. In particular, almost all of the Portland basin is has a large amount of alluvial deposits (dating either from recent activity from the Willamette, or the Missoula Floods) which is generally more prone to liquefaction (compare Seattle to Portland). I5 in Portland travels along the riskiest parts of the region (the east bank of the Willamette), while it somewhat avoids the riskiest parts of Seattle (the Duwamish River area).

And I don’t need to be an expert in seismology to understand the risk of soil liquefaction during a major earthquake. Liquefaction, landslides, and subsidence were huge contributors to the destruction in Anchorage in 1964. Portland is a bit further (~100 to 120 miles) from the Juan de Fuca subduction zone than Anchorage is from the Aleutian trench (~75 miles) where that 1964 earthquake occurred which is good, but surely is still cause for major concern.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

And I don’t need to be an expert in seismology to understand the risk of soil liquefaction during a major earthquake.

Wow … to dismiss the relevant field of science and at the same time claim that you “understand the risk” of liquefaction in particular areas of Oregon is really something.

I’m done with this thread.

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

The relevant science you are citing is both not about Oregon and self admittedly incomplete! Surely it’s reasonable to expect that the level of risk when including liquefaction and subsidence would go up from whatever baseline they have established in the current model. Especially in parts of Portland that are identified by the state department of geology as being high risks for liquefaction! It’s straightforward and obviously bad that so much oil infrastructure is located directly on the Willamette on soil that is prone to subsidence and liquefaction in the even of a major earthquake.

And yes, I do not need a post secondary degree in seismology to have a basic grasp on how seismology and earthquakes work.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

that are identified by the state department of geology

Using a crude piece of software created by FEMA that comes with a big disclaimer that analyses may not be accurate (due to arbitrary assumptions and variables). If we actually cared about seismic risk why have we not funded actual science-based modeling? It’s curious that politicians and government staff who profess to “believe in climate science” do not seem particularly interested in what earth science has to say about these risks.

It’s straightforward and obviously bad that so much oil infrastructure is located directly on the Willamette on soil that is prone to subsidence and liquefaction in the even of a major earthquake.

I’m not arguing against this premise at all. In fact, it’s possible that science-based modeling might show greater risk than is commonly believed.

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I would say it’s not strictly necessary to have some high detail seismic risk map, as the areas that are prone to liquefaction should be fairly well known. It’s straightforward to find out which parts of Portland are on landfill by comparing older maps with newer ones, and the risks associated with landfill and liquefaction are well known and studied.

We don’t need some huge fancy model to know any of this, and we don’t need to have an exact seismic risk matrix for every building, oil tanker, and bridge in the state to identify (roughly) where the highest risk areas may be. Should the city wait until the USGS calls them up to partner on a detailed liquefaction risk study like they have done in San Francisco? Probably not. It makes plenty of sense to let a bit of common sense and extrapolation guide city-level policy concerning seismic resilience. The city should have policy that prevents oil from being stored in the riskiest area of the city (seismically speaking). If a new higher level study helps identify those areas more readily, fine. But using whatever data we have now is what we should be doing!

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

a bit of common sense and extrapolation guide … policy”

I guess all those tens of millions spent funding climate science were a complete waste then. We could have just used “common sense” and “extrapolation” to guide government policy instead of funding ever more complex models. Right???

“Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our [“common sense”] and nervously [“extrapolating”], our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

The common sense I am referring to is to let current data guide current policy. Waiting on the perfect seismological model to decide it ought to be illegal to have oil tankers on landfill in a seismologically vulnerable area next to the most important waterway in the state is stupid.

Do you believe that one more climate model predicting the extinction of 99% of species and the inundation of 75% of world cities would be enough move the needle on climate policy? Because in my experience, policy makers in the US care exceedingly little about a sane climate policy – regardless of the data. The money spent on this modeling is worthwhile, but it’s equally (if not more) important to have political entities that both understand and respect the results.

Maybe this is a result of the anti-scientific thinking pervasive in huge parts of American culture, but pretending that anything I’ve said here flies in the face of the general principles of scientific reasoning is a bit much. I’m using the current, publicly available data on one aspect of seismological risk to point out that our current policy makers do not care about acute risks unless it happens to align with a project they already wanted to do.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

current data

Describing FEMA’s “Hazus” software as data is wishful thinking. They themselves admit it’s not reliable. If you don’t want to fund academic science, at the very least we should fund DOGAMI to conduct well-designed research and statistial modeling instead of relying on this piece of @#$% software.

Maybe this is a result of the anti-scientific thinking pervasive in huge parts of American culture

There is no maybe about this.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

The idea that this consulting org has any kind of deep expertise in seismology is beyond absurd

Why is it absurd to think an Oregon based civil engineering firm would have insufficient expertise in earthquakes and geology to understand the risk?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Because they are not seismologists or, even, earth scientists.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

CH2M no longer exists, but when they did they had hundreds of employees. What is the basis for your statement that none of them were seismologists or earth scientists?

Charley
Charley
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

That’s some interesting research about the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake effect on bridges. Unfortunately, as the seismologist mentioned in the article, local faults and soil liquefaction could also destroy these bridges! I would not describe any reporting or research that explains this possibility as “fearmongering”.

Instead, I think drawing attention to these possibilities should focus minds on ways to limit their likelihood. One great way would be to phase out the storage of fuels along the Willamette River.

That’s why Rubio and Ryan should be held to account in the event of such a disaster. Not to mention the increased likelihood of oil train crashes and spills!

The decision is extremely disappointing.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Charley

Unfortunately, as the seismologist mentioned in the article, local faults and soil liquefaction could also destroy these bridges

I agree with this, of course. Oregon should fund actual earth scientists to conduct peer-reviewed studies*. It’s ridiculous that we are relying on an ~18 year report from a consulting firm with no particular expertise in earth science.

* Sadly, local and state governments have a long habit of avoiding scientific expertise and instead relying on “reports” generated by a small group of consulting firms to justify their “planning”.

John
John
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

instead relying on “reports” generated by a small group of consulting firms

Yeah, it’s because they have the neoliberal brain rot that makes them think a private sector firm is the best most efficient way to do basic science, a proven wrong time and again. Either brain rot or corruption. Many of our current failings an be traced straight back to this basic bad idea.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John

This isn’t “basic science”; it’s applied engineering.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Modeling the impacts of a M9 earthquake is not applied engineering and its hilarious and kind of sad that you believe this.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  John

neoliberal brain rot

The unwillingness to fund experts at our nominally state-supported universities is definitely neoliberalism.The continual use of a select group of “consultants” is worse than mere brain rot. Government bureaus/depts have long-term and overly close “relationships”* with these firms and know very well that they will receive reports that confirm their neoliberal biases. This behavior is both anti-democratic and an intentional form of self-dealing corruption.

* the musical chairs where government staffers are hired by private consulting firms/think tanks and then return to government (or vice versa)

PS
PS
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

You’re not wrong at all. The rub is, where else would we place those tanks that would withstand a seismic event like we’re supposed to have? It is a humility inducing situation to realize that we have built an entire fragile modern society on top of this seismic tinderbox. My neighbors thought I was crazy for seismic retrofitting my 1905 house, my neighbors now think it is crazy to keep 100 gals of water with food, shelter and other supplies in the garage. When I have to switch out the water, it feels crazy, then I realize how good water tastes after a few hours without and it is obviously worth it. The worse issue is knowing that all my neighbors are completely unprepared and 3 days in, it will be very obvious who does and does not have water/food/shelter.

I see the seismic lifeline routes as not likely for cars, but for alternative forms of transit, i.e. foot and bike. As you note, it is not likely there will be great distances without a collapsed bridge or other damage to the roadway that will make it impassable for vehicles.

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  PS

I don’t really have a good solution to the tank issue, but it seems like it should be a more urgent issue for city council. At minimum, the current infrastructure being built to reinforce the location of the tanks needs to be paused. As I understand it, the area around Lake Yard (BNSF’s main yard in Portland) is all landfill, and is extremely vulnerable to liquefaction in the event of a major earthquake. There are other industrial areas that may not be on such unstable ground. The industrial areas near Milwaukie, or the UPRR/205 area come to mind and might be more suitable – again not a seismologist so just spit balling here.

Seismic lifeline routes need to be multi-modal, as so much of our emergency response is automotive. But a corridor like Burnside just seems to be a better choice for resource allocation. There are far fewer bridges, ramps, and retaining walls to consider reinforcing. It’s a logical connector that people already use to orient themselves within the city.

Will
Will
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

DOGAMI puts the lowest risk for liquefaction north of Powell and East of MLK out to about Mt. Tabor. So all of the CEID is fairly stable.

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  Will

Yes, but the areas of the CEID west of MLK are of huge concern, considering that that’s where I5 is (a seismic lifeline corridor). Considering that the CEID is a mix of risk areas (liquefaction layer), I’d be a bit hesitant about using it for oil storage.

Will
Will
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

You’d have to consult the map carefully, but a big chunk of it is fine. All that being said, the correct mitigation strategy is to decrease the amount of liquid fuels that need to be stored period and to move the remaining fuels somewhere safer.

Charley
Charley
7 months ago
Reply to  PS

Moving away from liquid fuels is a great solution!! I’m sure it’s only partially possible, and then only over a significant time frame. Rubio and Ryan’s decision here surely doesn’t help.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  Charley

Yes, but it would be far more consequential if everyone in Portland decided to use less fossil fuel than if one FF facility has to move outside of Portland.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Every time someone buys an electric car, they are making a semi-permanent decision to use less fossil fuels.

jakeco969
jakeco969
7 months ago
Reply to  PS

You’re right, traffic won’t be moving. I remember trying to get home during the January 2017 snow storm and was very lucky to get across the river to leave my car parked downtown before grabbing the MAX the rest of the way since 26 at the tunnel was blocking everything. That was just snow and if the big one hits anytime soon it will be debris, buildings, casualties, broken water lines, felled electric lines, etc blocking the roads. Bicycles maybe, definitely foot, but where would people be going? If it is the big one there isn’t going to be any aid coming in for awhile. You’re smart to have supplies. My partner was down with her family near Ferndale, Ca when a large quake hit there in December of last year. Bridge closed for a bit, roads damaged, houses condemned, not too bad. Red Cross and Fema set up tents after a few days, but not near where the damage was. To get food and supplies we had to drive several miles. WTF?!? How does that make any sense?? Can’t drive, can’t get supplies. After a few days the local organizations set up areas, but that was only because the damage was no where near as bad as Cascadia will be.
Keep an eye on your neighbors should Cascadia happen. People who have had access to plenty their whole lives are going to go literally insane when they have to face an absence of all the things they’ve always known like water, food, heat, comfort, security and electricity. Hunger and thirst does things to a person’s mind and a big concern in how safe Portland is going to be after the big one. As much as I would like the response to be a fun challenge like this…..

https://bikeportland.org/2022/06/14/disaster-relief-trials-tests-mettle-of-bikes-and-their-riders-video-356638

I don’t really think it will be.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I don’t understand the zeal to ban Zenith. If you ever drive a car, or ride in a car or a bus or a train, you are supporting Zenith Energy.

Will
Will
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

The Zenith facility is a trans loading facility. It largely doesn’t store fuel for local use, but acts as a place to switch Canadian tar-sands fuels from rail to ship. Most of it goes overseas iirc.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  Will

Okay – so even less of a reason to be concerned about it.

Will
Will
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I wouldn’t say it’s less of a reason. It likely has a steady-state storage rate, and I’m disinclined to allow that to dump into the rivers. That notwithstanding, I don’t think we should be abetting other folks to burn fossil fuels just because they aren’t doing it near us.

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

“We should improve society somewhat”

“Yet you participate in society, curious! I am very smart”

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Our house is burning down but instead of calling the fire department (organizing for systemic change) we instead grab a tiny fire extinguisher and spray a window that is cracking due to heat exposure (spending enormous amounts of effort on a tiny facility owned by a infimitessimally small segment of the fossil fuel industry). Meanwhile whole regions are being erased by conflagrations (global south sacrifice zones) that dwarf the small number of houses burning down in the PNW (localism is nationalism).

cc_rider
cc_rider
7 months ago

Housing, not drug use:

I’m all for building housing, especially dense housing, but that article is really poorly written and comes to a conclusion that was not built in the article. I was actually surprised to reach the end of the article because the author didn’t provide anything to back up their claim. It’s a sad day for journalism that an article that is labeled as “In Depth” has the depth of a generic reddit post.

I’m assuming that the entire basis for the authors conclusion is that homeless people self-reported that eviction and job loss were the primary reasons for their homelessness. Self-reported qualitative data isn’t particularly useful, especially when its surface level. I’ve known lots of addicts in my life and they tend to blame everything but their addiction for things that happen to them. I have a sibling who is an alcoholic and it took him 15 years to acknowledge that his addiction was responsible for bad things that happened to him. I’m sure at least some of those evictions and job loss were probably due to substance abuse. We are not reliable narrators for our own lives, especially when it comes to things that we feel bad about. It’s easier to say you lost your job than say you couldn’t hold a job due to drug addiction.

There are lots of people who housing supports is all they need, but it’s not the majority of people on the street. Just living on the street itself is going to create new challenges. We need to triage people based on what level of supports they need so we can get an accurate metrics for what services we should focus on. We need actual diagnosis by professionals instead of asking people why they think they are in the position they are in.

Cyclekrieg
7 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I too felt the frustration of this article. It’s a vapid take on a complicated problem.

First, it is true raising housing costs do play a role in people losing houses. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t being intellectually honest. There are solutions to this problem (more on that in a moment).

But secondly, if we are honest about the role of housing costs, we should be equally honest about how use of and addiction to drugs plays a MASSIVE role in homelessness. Look, if X% of your time and effort, let alone money, is going toward drugs (including alcohol) that is X% of a cushion that is missing from your life, at a minimum. If that X% starts to affect things like personal relationships, jobs, decisions about your life, etc. then there is a multiplying effect. Yeah, it might only be 1% of your budget going to drugs, but it’s affecting one or all of the above, the actual percentage becomes much larger. Then if the loss of a job or relationships or whatever isn’t the wake-up call, the spiral starts and next thing you know, you are living in a tent under and overpass.

If you pulled up to any homeless encampment and offered free housing, free job training/placement and free services to anyone so long as they could pass a drug test, I doubt you could fill a Scooby Doo van with people that would qualify. Let’s stop pretending that the “greedy landlords” are the only problem here.

What is doable solution to the housing cost problem? Well, home trusts. This is an old solution, written about many times. Non-profit land ownership makes for lower-cost housing and that cools the market by its presence. I just did a search for land in the Portland area and there plenty of lots large enough for a buildout of such a neighborhood. Building two-flats or three-flats would rapidly allow more units, as rentals, standard ownership or CFD. And everyone that gets built is one more that would lower rents/ownership in the surrounding area.

What about the drug problem? Well, that is harder. But is starts with being caring, but not enabling. That needs to be love, but there needs to enforcement too. Yes, treat addiction as a medical problem. But also treat actions related to additions (theft, open drug use, etc.) as real crimes that need real consequences.

squareman
squareman
7 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Self-reported qualitative data isn’t particularly useful, especially when its surface level. 

… launches into a personally anecdotal rebut.

cc_rider
cc_rider
7 months ago
Reply to  squareman

It’s not a rebut friend. If you take another second to read the whole comment, you’ll notice what I gave was an example of someone with addiction lying to themselves.

What do I know, what with my background in public sector mental health data collection, I’m sure that this particular subgroup bucks the trend and has completely honest and self-aware assessments of how they ended up in their situation.

I’ve sifted through enough self-reported data that can’t possibly be true to not trust a simple question. You could get better self-reported data if you had follow-up questions and had a neutral party categorize the reason for homelessness.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Self-reported qualitative data isn’t particularly useful …

I’ve known lots of addicts in my life and they tend to …

I have a sibling who is an alcoholic and it took him …

Delicious cognitive dissonance.

cc_rider
cc_rider
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I’m not sure you understand what cognitive dissonance is, as I can assure you I’m not under any stress or discomfort. I’m sure you’re grasping at the idea that my statements contradict each other. They do not.

The statement ‘Self-reported qualitative data isn’t particularly useful’ can stand on it’s own. Anyone who has taken a basic research methods should be familiar with the pitfalls of using self-reported date

“Self-report studies have many advantages, but they also suffer from specific disadvantages due to the way that subjects generally behave.[6] Self-reported answers may be exaggerated;[7] respondents may be too embarrassed to reveal private details; various biases may affect the results, like social desirability bias. There are also cases when respondents guess the hypothesis of the study and provide biased responses that 1) confirm the researcher’s conjecture; 2) make them look good; or, 3) make them appear more distressed to receive promised services.[5]
Subjects may also forget pertinent details. Self-report studies are inherently biased by the person’s feelings at the time they filled out the questionnaire. If a person feels bad at the time they fill out the questionnaire, for example, their answers will be more negative. If the person feels good at the time, then the answers will be more positive.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-report_study

The anecdotes are what is called a supporting example. It gives less savy readers an example of how self-reported data can not reflect the reality of the situation.

I also wanted to give you the wiki page for cognitive dissonance so you can use it correctly in the future.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

jakeco969
jakeco969
7 months ago

This timely San Francisco problem article really highlights that the argument of Socialism/Communism/Whatever versus Capitalism is rapidly becoming obsolete and that the rise of Techno Feudalism is happening in real time. One big thing Marx got right is that the true struggle is between economic classes and the rich are really beating the crap out of the rest of us while we waste time and energy bickering over social justice issues that the rich aren’t concerned with at all.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/aug/26/silicon-valley-elites-buy-800m-land-new-city

The group Flannery Associates – backed by a cohort of Silicon Valley investors – has quietly purchased $800m (£635m) worth of agricultural and empty land, the New York Times has reported. Its goal is to build a utopian new town that will offer its thousands of residents reliable public transportation and urban living, all of which would operate using clean energy.

The San Fran article just substantiates the disparities between those that have a lot and those who don’t have enough.

 It has more than 285,000 millionaires, per a 2023 report from Henley and Partners, and also has 63 billionaires — more than any other city on the planet.

At this point a person’s personal belief in what their political outlook is doesn’t really matter, some are the new wealthy/tech lords, the rest of us are the serfs.

Not only is the cost of living increasing in the city, but the gap is widening, which researchers say is significantly contributing to the overall rise in poverty. If Silicon Valley were its own nation, it would be a “politically unstable country with extreme wealth inequalities,”

The idle rich are planning utopia cities/compounds while the rest of us who aren’t accepted, can’t buy in or don’t want to become residents will become those who work to maintain the infrastructure, produce the food for them, give our water and suffer the health effects that the new cities will export out to the hinterlands (just a guess on this last one, but pollution happens and i’m not thinking that the rich are going to want it in their back yard).
Monarchy and feudalism have been around a lot longer than brief flashes of light of democratic or republican (the political systems, Greek, Roman, French as examples, not our binary political parties) idea of one person one vote (granted, however that was defined at the time) and it looks like we as an American people are sliding back towards that abyss.
Hope this doesn’t come across as too crazy, but its becoming a crazy time.

PS
PS
7 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

1-SF elects virtue signaling leadership during the best economy they’ve had since the gold rush.

2-Virtue signaling leadership is actually incompetent at leading and demonizes the largely wealthy, young, educated, and non anti-social tech employee residents. i.e. people who use virtually zero city resources, but pay handsomely for the opportunity to live there.

3-The residents any city would kill for leave, or want to leave, while the city just goes on spending like everything is fine, except they are spending stimulus money not tax revenue, because every source of tax revenue is falling dramatically, see above for incompetent leadership.

4-The quality of life in SF erodes quickly and makes every suburban market in the bay far more attractive to live in, so the mass exodus from offices and residential begins.

5-The people who employ the model resident profile of typical tech worker realize they are the greatest asset to these firms, so they spend $800MM on land for the creation of a city that can provide for their needs and continue to cultivate new technology.

6-People who retain the ideology of demonizing tech workers fear they will be left out of the new city, but now they just have their city back from the evil tech workers, so what is the problem?

What did I miss in this entirely rational process of events that got us here? The people you should be mad at are the people in leadership roles that perpetuate the on the ground behavior of the most anti-social citizens. It just boggles the mind that there are still people who see drug addicts folded over, people screaming in the road, human waste everywhere, and think, “man, if only this person had four walls and a roof, that would fix it”.

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  PS

“man, if only this person had four walls and a roof, that would fix it”.

Couldn’t hurt. Having a home to go back to almost certainly would make many of the issues facing these folks much better.

Max S (Wren)
Max S (Wren)
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

It’s also a straw man argument. People aren’t looking at homeless drug-addicts and claiming housing will “fix it” like it’s a cure-all, it’s just the most effective strategy, pound for pound, and as you said, puts them in a better position to address other issues. I see it as a necessary component of any attempt to address homelessness; it won’t be enough for plenty of people, but it will help a lot of people, and it’s a good base to build other policies off of.

jakeco969
jakeco969
7 months ago
Reply to  PS

You were doing great until 5. The people associated with Flannery Associates don’t seem to be the “just trying to get by in a hateful world tech head.” No, they are the uppercrust and their new city won’t be able to support itself unless they figure out how to create food without using farmlands. What will the rest of us be to them? I am mad at what has happened to central California, but that has already happened. What im concerned with is an ever increasing gap in the money and morality between workers and wealth hoarders and how I will navigate that. You might think a rising tech world will lift all boats, but NAFTA was supposed to do that as well, used the same arguments and it only made most of the world poorer, more polluted and concentrated wealth and power. The same is coming true with this worshipful view that more tech will make the world a better place. It might, but a better world for how many?

PS
PS
7 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Any new city does exactly what all cities do, they buy food from farmers. SF doesn’t grow their own food, the central valley does and a fleet of semitrucks burning diesel delivers it to warehouses before it ends up at Whole Foods.

I don’t necessarily think a rising tech world lifts all boats, I think the leadership in SF took for granted the revenue provided by the tech workers and rather than making sure they would stay, they decided to exclude them from the conversation and its interesting that a $780MM budget deficit is all the sudden more important than what elementary schools are named after. Portland hasn’t been much different, unsurprisingly if you alienate the people who pay the bills, they will leave and that puts you in a worse position than you thought you were in otherwise, i.e. Multnomah county revenues tanking.

Since NAFTA’s implementation in 1994, the rate of poverty worldwide has reduced from 15% to about 8%, all while the global population went from 5.6B to 8.0B. Is that due to NAFTA, definitely not, but to suggest the world is so much worse now than then, is crazy. There are people in Africa who have the entire knowledge of the world at their fingertips and in 1994 they thought the Phoenix Suns won the 1993 NBA championships.

jakeco969
jakeco969
7 months ago
Reply to  PS

Do you think we should be replacing open land with another city? To continually replace land with concrete to move ourselves further and further away from who we are and who are ancestors were? Is all that money and time well spent when we are on the cusp of the coming environmental crisis?
I agree with you on the alienation aspect, but the truth remains that San Francisco and Portland both overwhelmingly voted for the politicians who have done the alienating, and are getting exactly what they voted for. So now after reaping the benefits of their poor voting habits they are going to literally cement over a whole bunch more land, ruining it for generations so they can what, elect more people to make the same bad decisions that have already been made?
I saw indentured servitude in China in 1990 and now the phrase is “forced labor”.

https://www.walkfree.org/global-slavery-index/country-studies/china/

To think the world is so much better than it was is insanity. Just go visit some places outside the tourist traps. I also remember a USA before NAFTA with a strong blue collar middle class who could live on a single income, buy a house, etc and now that is not possible. Personally, I would trade in a heartbeat “the entire knowledge of the world at my fingertips” for the world we had before tech became so intrusive and run so amok. A world of healthy food, human interaction, play, unstructured physical exercise and working/farming the food and animals we each ate.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/08/07/541671747/nafta-s-broken-promises-these-farmers-say-they-got-the-raw-end-of-trade-deal

“NAFTA was going to be so wonderful for American agriculture. Everyone was going to make money, because there were going to be all these exports,” says Hoff. “We were going to open the border [to trade]; the environmental standards in Mexico were going to rise; there was going to be prosperity for all three countries. But of course the opposite happened.”

https://cepr.net/press-release/twenty-years-after-nafta-mexico-has-experienced-lagging-growth-persistent-poverty-and-increased-unemployment/

 “But after 20 years, it’s pretty clear that although some billionaires did remarkably well, the Mexican people lost.

Fuzzy Blue Line
Fuzzy Blue Line
7 months ago
Reply to  PS

“ 3-The residents any city would kill for leave, or want to leave, while the city just goes on spending like everything is fine, except they are spending stimulus money not tax revenue, because every source of tax revenue is falling dramatically, see above for incompetent leadership.”

Tale as old as time. Things always go south quickly when you run out of “other people’s money.” I wish those of you with a Marxist/Socialist worldview would just start saying the quiet part out loud. Something along the lines of we need government to come in & forcibly take away private property & wealth to redistribute to those in need as determined by the government. After all that’s what’s really been happening in small doses in cities like SF & Portland which is why the wealthy are fleeing for the suburbs or even moving to red states. Doubling down on this failed policy will just accelerate the exodus.

PS
PS
7 months ago

100%, hence the desire to tax unrealized gains, or the latest proposal from Wheeler and Rubio to create a tax moratorium for 5 years on new capital investment in a newly formed opportunity zone in downtown. The idea that that tax relief will keep people and businesses downtown is hilarious and obviously they are grabbing at straws at this point.

John
John
7 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

And hey, as some would say, capitalism is a flexible system, so it’s completely compatible with serfdom and lords owning land that you get to toil on and export pollution to. How wonderful a system!

jakeco969
jakeco969
7 months ago
Reply to  John

Yes, that seemed to be the end state of that particular discussion, although the poster did not seem to want to take their argument to its logical conclusion.
Which is why we need to look past our definitions and see the ongoing struggle as those who have a lots against those who don’t have very much, however one wants to describe the systems.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John

Capitalism is completely compatible with serfdom and lords owning land

It is — it’s a very flexible economic framework. What make the difference is the laws you pass and the society you build on top of that. It’s not like socialist countries had no serfs working the land or were good stewards of the environment.

jakeco969
jakeco969
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Agreed, Mao has 40-80 million killed, Stalin has 6-20 million and according to an interesting examination of longevity between China and India,

The excess in mortality of capitalist India over communist China was estimated to be a horrifying 4 million human lives a year. So why isn’t India held up as a case study for the murderousness of capitalism?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/26/communists-capitalism-stalinism-economic-model

The one thing that can be agreed on with the horribly wide range of numbers available is that few of the dead were very wealthy and the vast majority were poor. Its really not about which system is better, its how the rich treat the poor and the model for that throughout history is not great. The larger the wealth inequity, the worse it gets.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

examination of longevity between China and India

Why would you attribute that differential to “capitalism” when it is much more likely to be a result of governance and policy?

Also, regarding imprecise death tolls, in both the cases you cited most of the dead were in rural areas, and it may be the case that no one is left to count the bodies when a whole village starves to death, compounded by the fact that those keeping the records had incentive to minimize the toll.

jakeco969
jakeco969
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

That article I have in the response uses that as a theory. It was one I hadn’t seen before and although it seems to be an attempt to say capitalism has an equal body count with communism it’s at least a working theory. Most likely a flawed theory, but interesting.
Completely agree with you that the rural deaths are likely undercounted. Urbanite contempt for the citizenry that provides them their food and resources is an age old problem.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

That article I have in the response uses that as a theory.

The Guardian would say that, then wouldn’t they? Some of their journalism is very good, but a lot of it veers into the land of opinion pretty quickly.

John
John
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Lol, if China and Russia have problems, it’s because of communism, but if India has problems, it’s definitely not because of capitalism and must be something else.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John

Russia and China’s real problems were totalitarianism, which seems to be the short-term end state of nearly every attempt to impose socialism.

It seems people are remarkably reluctant to voluntarily join a worker’s paradise without first being starved into submission.

Chris I
Chris I
7 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

The idle rich are planning utopia cities/compounds

Doesn’t sound like they are very idle.

steph
steph
7 months ago

The story on one-way vs. two-way streets analyzed the efficiency of automobile trips but didn’t discuss the experience of people outside of cars. I’ve always wondered what that kind of analysis would reveal. Personally, I like walking downtown because I don’t have to worry about traffic coming from both directions, so I can safely cross as soon as there’s a break in traffic from one direction, and I feel like it makes my walking trips more efficient. I would be interested to know if others feel likewise and if there is any data from a walking person’s perspective.

blumdrew
blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  steph

In general, one way streets were created to speed up cars and were somewhat successful in this. I find that two way roads are generally calmer and slower than one ways (though this of course depends on context!), and prefer walking along them as a result. For crossing, I do agree that a one way can be better in some circumstances, but not always. If the choice is between a two lane one way, and one lane in each direction things can be sketchy if one car stops and you don’t have a clear sightline to the other lane to see if they are stopping too. This always comes up for me crossing Belmont/Morrison at 16th.

Matt
Matt
7 months ago
Reply to  steph

so I can safely cross as soon as there’s a break in traffic from one direction

… for a certain definition of “safely”, that is. The driver (or cyclist, or scooterist, for that matter) who’s bad enough to be driving the wrong way on a one-way street is probably also bad enough not to notice you stepping into the crosswalk. Always look both ways.

dw
dw
7 months ago
Reply to  steph

Either way I have to look both ways before crossing. I have zero trust in drivers to read and understand “one way” signs.

Todd/ Boulanger
Todd/ Boulanger
7 months ago
Reply to  dw

Yes, a lot of drivers – especially in city center Vancouver (USA) – more than one would think, turn onto these one way streets each day. Only the traffic engineers know why this issue alone has not caused our leadership to return them to two way. [Another example, the city of Hillsboro came close to converting their one way couplet 10 years ago but stopped short for some reason.]

(It has become a daily “spot the idiot driver” game in many a retail businesses fronting these mid century (car sewer) arterials across the nation. Sadly, it is like those Russian dash cam videos that you end up doom watching with your hand over your eyes except for a slit peek.)

Clarity
7 months ago
Reply to  steph

My time in NYC told me that if you increase congestion (more congestion means slower cars means safer cars) and stick to 1-way streets, crossing the street feels very safe. You basically can just stroll across at any point without fear. But I can see how when traffic is faster, and as you add lanes, 1-way streets probably get a lot less safe. If I had my way every street would be 1-way but none of them would have more that a single lane, narrow enough to force people to slow down. But maybe switching to 2-way is a cheap harm-reduction strategy if you’re not willing to commit to actually reducing traffic.

Ben Waterhouse
Ben Waterhouse
7 months ago
Reply to  steph

In Montavilla, the one-way couplet absolutely makes life worse for anyone not in a car. The speed limit through the commercial stretch on Stark is 20 mph, but average speed is closer to 30. If you spend half an hour on the street you are guaranteed to see someone turn the wrong way. Crossing is miserable, because you have no visibility in the far lane. And traffic isn’t nearly heavy enough to justify the couplet. Let’s take it out, and pedestrianize Stark.

squareman
squareman
7 months ago
Reply to  steph

I love “jay” crossing one-way, one or two-lane streets downtown, for the reasons you cite. I do not like crossing anything larger than that, one-way or otherwise (e.g., SW Broadway, or the east-side Burnside-Couch couplet (even with a crosswalk on the latter one).

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
7 months ago

This week in autobesity: No need for the carparks to adapt to larger vehicles, they can just lower the max height to 5.5′ and no large vehicles will be able to get in.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
7 months ago

Any changes would by law have to be compatible with ADA and the vehicles used to move such users. Most parking garages pre-1992 are already out of compliance and many cities are finding it is easier and cheaper to knock down the old ones and build new ones with higher ceilings, wider walkways and larger elevators, with the ground floor tall enough for a 16-seat lift vehicle.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Another great idea stymied by the ADA, which is itself a very good idea.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I’m looking forward to the day that “morbid obesity” is officially listed as a disability.

mc
mc
7 months ago

I’m not quite sure the e-bike propaganda story qualifies as a “manifesto”. Especially when the author only attempts to provide a possible solution for one of the myriad of problems that e-bikes have that pedal bikes don’t such as:

Weight – Most e-bikes are on average twice as heavy as a pedal bike. That makes them a fair bit more unwieldy, especially for people who live on top of a flight of stairs or when you get a flat and have to push the bike home or load it into a vehicle to take to the shop.

Cost – The author talks about e-bikes under $1k, but e-bikes are more expensive to maintain. The average price of e-bike battery is approximately half the cost of a new e-bike. Not too mention the cost of troubleshooting, repairing if possible, and if not replacing replacing controllers, motors, led screens.

Over a few years, I’ve learned to do all the necessary maintenance, repairs and desired modifications myself at the cost of a $150 used bike tool set I got on CL.

Weather – It’s easy during the Summer to talk about an e-vehicle utopia b’cuz you see many of them out wherever you go, but when it’s wet, dark & windy w. lots of leaves, branches and other debris in the roads, there’s much less people joyfully rolling around on them.

Closed ecosystem – It seems to me, I’m not an expert in the bike industry, that most e-bikes are comprised of largely proprietary parts & accessories, so you don’t have a lot of options if you want to modify your e-bike in ways that’ better suit your needs. I can walk into almost any bike shop in town and find parts, accessories, tools and professional technical assistance on my bike.

In addition to this, we barely have the infrastructure necessary for pedestrians, pedal bikes and mass transit, now we’ve these personal e-vehicles in these spaces, often going much faster than other users, weaving in & out of other MUP & bike infrastructure users.

Anyway, I’m not giving up my simple pedal bike that just works, is simple & inexpensive to maintain, easy to put on public transit if needed and is simply a joy to ride and keeps me in relatively good shape & health.

Max S (Wren)
Max S (Wren)
7 months ago

Regarding the issue of cars getting larger, my understanding is that one of the drivers behind this is that US environmental regulations carved out more lax emission requirements for lighter trucks on the basis that certain occupations require these jobs, and so auto manufacturers pushed people to buy larger vehicles since it’s cheaper to make them compliant.

A friend of mine said suggested a law the requires owners of light trucks to have commercial insurance. His logic was that people who actually did need them for work would already have commercial insurance and so wouldn’t be burdened by these regulations, but it would disincentivize people from buying large vehicles they don’t need.

My question is, is there any merit to this idea? I searched around a bit but I couldn’t find anything about it and was wondering if there is any serious research around the its viability as a proposal.