Council candidate competes for best transportation policy platform

Council District 4 candidate Chad Lykins on Friday, September 29th. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The new crop of city council candidates is looking really good from a transportation reform perspective. Keeping in mind that our current City Council is one of the weakest ever when it comes to understanding the vital role safe streets and transportation planning can have on the success of our city, the slate of about 20 or so candidates for 2024 is downright exciting.

A quick scan of the names reveals several that have been involved with bike activism and/or related policymaking. And we’ve already had four candidates show up and give speeches at BikePortland events! One candidate I’ve yet to meet, school teacher Tiffany Koyama Lane, told Willamette Week on Monday that having safe streets for people who walk and bike is a “basic right.”

But District 4 candidate Chad Lykins is on a whole other level.

“I will enact city policies that prevent special interests from rolling back improvements to transportation safety and carbon reduction.”

– Chad Lykins transportation policy platform
Lykins at the Broadway ride last Friday.

Most candidates don’t have platforms published on their websites yet, much less anything about transportation. But Lykins, founder of a small business that teaches young people how to play chess, has a detailed one. And he’s so confident about it, he messaged me last week to say: “We’re trying to build the strongest transportation platform of any city candidate. Can you have a look and tell me how we can improve it?” Then Lykins showed up to our Broadway bike ride on Friday and shared a bit about it in a short stump speech.

So I figured I’d take Lykins up on his offer. But instead of messaging him back, I thought it would be fun to post his platform here and have all of you weigh in on what he’s got so far.

Below is Lykins’ transportation platform (links are his):

The City of Portland’s Climate Emergency Workplan for 2022-2025 identifies transportation as responsible for 44% of carbon emissions in Multnomah County, the largest source of carbon of any sector.

The best way to reduce the carbon impact of transportation is by making it safer to walk, bike and take public transit. More than 60% of Portlanders say they would ride public transportation and more than 70% would ride bikes, ebikes, or scooters if doing so was safe and affordable. Portlanders are ready to commit to transportation if leaders will support them doing so safely. The Climate Emergency Plan adopted by the City sets clear priorities: “For more Portlanders to use climate-friendly travel options, our streets must prioritize people biking, walking and taking transit” (p. 8).

Though Portland Bureau of Transportation’s staff has been working toward “rapidly reducing the amount of driving in our community” (p. 6), those who lead PBOT have wasted public resources by attempting to spend money to remove infrastructure necessary both to public safety and to our climate goals.

Wasteful spending could not come at a worse time. PBOT is in a budget crisis that has worsened over several years. It has already lost 60 staff positions and is facing an additional $30 million in cuts. This is occurring against a backdrop of record numbers of traffic fatalities.

I will enact city policies that prevent special interests from rolling back improvements to transportation safety and carbon reduction. Specifically, I will propose legislation that prohibits the removal of infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit before (1) the completion of comparable alternatives and (2) validation that these alternatives function as well or better than the infrastructure being removed.

The underlying cause of PBOT’s budget crisis is dependence on fossil fuel consumption. PBOT is funded through gas taxes and downtown parking fees. Gas taxes are declining due to increased fuel efficiency, while downtown parking revenue is decreasing for a number of reasons.

Modest increases in hourly parking fees in highly congested areas can help reduce curbside crowding and increase revenue.

Entertainment districts provide another opportunity. These areas experience crowded curbs in the evenings, making it difficult to access nearby businesses. The city can help small businesses and generate substantial revenue by expanding time-limited parking in these designated areas from 7:00pm to 12:00am.

Portland must have a long-term plan for the way it funds transportation. As revenues derived from fossil fuel consumption dry up, PBOT will likely return to prior proposals for either a transportation utility fee or utility rate increases. I will make sure that any changes to our collective tax obligations do not place an undue burden on low-income residents or any other specific group.

What do you think? What would you change and what should it include if it really wants to be the “strongest”? If you were running for council, what key positions and policies would you be sure to include in your official platform?

Let the competition for the best transportation policy platform begin!

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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Adam Pieniazek
7 months ago

Require all city staff, departments AND contractors to immediately transition to walking, biking & transit for the majority of their transportation while conducting city business.

Prioritize clearing sidewalks, bike & bus lanes ahead of car lanes during snowstorms and other events.

Transition all trash & recycling pickup to using cargo bikes. Large trucks can still be used to consolidate all the loads from cargo bikes but bikes should be doing the pickup from properties.

Anywhere we can exchange using motorized tools for manual labor do so. An example, instead of leaf blowers hire an army of people with rakes.

Finally focus on creating completely connected and protected routes across the entire city. Instead of piecemeal bike lane construction create a cohesive plan that builds an entire network all at once.

I find Lykins’ platform lacking in clear concrete improvements that will occur. We know what the city’s plans are, how are we going to get them implemented ASAP?

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

Transition all trash & recycling pickup to using cargo bikes. Large trucks can still be used to consolidate all the loads from cargo bikes but bikes should be doing the pickup from properties.

I love cargo bikes, and e-cargo bikes (although I don’t have one), but this just isn’t going to happen. Even an e-cargo bike is going to struggle after picking up from one or two houses. It’s just too much weight.

Or are you imagining something like the truck stops at the end of a street and the cargo bike makes trips back and forth? That might work but doesn’t save much. Plus it has implications about heavy cans and requiring workers to lift them instead of the truck with arms.

I do think ideally people wouldn’t be producing so much damn garbage, and that’s a battle worth fighting. I think the default smaller cans and every other week pickup help. But this just seems like one of those cases where large trucks are actually the right solution. Maybe they should be electric or something.

100% on the rest though. A real sustainable future needs to stop using frivolous machines like leaf blowers (which love to blow debris in my eyes as I ride past).

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

Maybe they should be electric or something.

Maybe?

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Well, I say maybe because I’m not sure if they’re the best thing to electrify first. I haven’t sat down and done any serious thinking or number crunching about that. There is a limit to how fast every vehicle can be electrified, and a limit on lithium extraction, and there’s something to be said about getting the best bang for your buck on that.

Like, I think we should electrify where we can’t do something else more efficient. I think it’s true, this is probably a case where switching garbage trucks for electric makes a lot of sense. They have predictable and relatively short routes and do a lot of stop and go. Based on their size and routes, they might even be good candidates for non-lithium batteries. I was just hedging because I haven’t heard any counter argument to it and there might be some? Dunno.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

It’s not a question of “who do we electrify first”. They are parallel projects. We can essentially electrify everyone first.

Without a worldwide lithium czar, any planning we do at a local, state, or even national level to prioritize use is not going to be useful.

I’ve not heard a single scientifically sound reason to slow-roll electrification where it is possible (e.g. airplanes might not make sense just yet). There are economic reasons not to do so (why junk a diesel engine that is only 30 years old and still working perfectly well), but that’s why we need incentives and regulations to encourage people to get on it.

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I can’t tell if you’re disagreeing with me or just trying to add context. But to be clear,

There are economic reasons not to do so (why junk a diesel engine that is only 30 years old and still working perfectly well),

As well as limited budgets are some of the many reasons we might choose to electrify one thing before another. Definitely not everything can be done at the same time. Another example is how big an impact is it going to have? Are they driving all day? Just sometimes? Do they have short routes and long breaks where they can get away with smaller (less expensive) batteries? Are there alternatives like Adam suggests that might lessen the need for big trucks to begin with?

It’s not about planning use of lithium (although yes it is), but planning how we spend limited funds.

But again, I didn’t say don’t electrify them, just that I don’t personally know how best to spend money electrifying things.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

Most of the funds that “we” need to spend are by private parties, so the public needs to provide the incentive structure that will let them prioritize what/when/how/if to electrify.

There are lots of different “shapes” of policy that could be implemented — fuel taxes would encourage conversion of high-mileage vehicles, registration fees could prioritize older engines, etc., so I suppose I am talking myself into the idea that policy makers have some tools available to target certain kinds of vehicles.

But, given the relatively short time frame we need to do this in, I don’t think we need to spend a huge amount of effort on trying to fine tune things. We just need to get it done, and fast.

To that end, less adversarial approaches are easier to pass, so we’ll probably end up with a lot of subsidies/bribes. And I’m fine with that, even if those more focused on purity will complain about “subsidizing the polluters” and such.

I don’t care. Let’s go already.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Or they could run on low-carbon, low-emitting CNG.

Oh wait: they already do!

Too bad Trimet is too scared to power buses with CNG.

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

It’s not low-carbon! It puts essentially just as much carbon in the air as diesel. The problems with diesel are other pollutants, but as far as carbon goes it’s about the same as CNG.

CNG is a boondoggle to slow the move away from fossil fuels. Any conversion to CNG is a lost opportunity that we’re going to be stuck with for the life of the vehicle. We can’t afford to convert one single vehicle to that.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

Meanwhile, as of 2023, TriMet is still buying diesel buses. At least they’re planning to buy some electric ones next year, but still.

Adam Pieniazek
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

Yeah I envision recycling would be the easier one to start with since it’s usually lighter than garbage. And yeah we’d still have trucks waiting at spots for the cargo bikes to come and dump out their load (or dumpsters that could then be picked up later). It just seems like a huge waste to have a giant truck stopping & going every few feet to pickup a load that could be picked up with smaller vehicles. But you’re right that reducing the amount that needs to be trashed/recycled is a much better solution but also seems even less likely to happen.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

Anywhere we can exchange using motorized tools for manual labor do so.

Is that you, John Zerzan?

https://eugeneweekly.com/2021/11/11/from-a-to-zerzan/

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

Anywhere we can exchange using motorized tools for manual labor do so.

I used to think this too, but then I thought about it some more and realized that there are plenty of very good reasons not to do this. People are often the limiting factor in a project, and humans have spent an awful lot of effort and resources reducing our need for physical labor. Food calories are more environmentally costly than even fossil fuel calories. People get hurt doing manual labor, driving up economic and human costs. Mechanized tools often do a better job than a human powered one. Paying 5 (or 500) people to do the job that can be done by one with a machine rarely makes sense, especially when healthcare, retirement benefits, bureaucratic overhead, etc. are considered. And so on. I’ve barely scratched the surface here.

Adam Pieniazek
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I’d argue that there’s plenty of cases where that’s not true though. Leaf blowing is one. A leaf blower will move more leaves quicker but it’s also blowing away good soil and kicking particulates up into the air. And sure raking will require hiring more people but sure does seem like there’s a lot of people who want to work but can’t find work. Will agree that there are tasks that it’s better to use a motorized tool for but think we’ve swung way too far in that direction. Often see someone with a giant leaf blower strapped on their back blowing like 5 leaves.

Watts-off
Watts-off
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

sure does seem like there’s a lot of people who want to work but can’t find work

With historically low unemployment, you think there’s people lining up to rake leaves?

aquaticko
aquaticko
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

Something needs to be done about excessive leaf blower usage. I’m from New England, where the deciduous/coniferous tree split is like 70/30 to the PNW’s 30/70, and even with so many more leaves around, there’s FAR less usage of these noisy, polluting nuisances than I’ve observed over here. So much of the time, people are literally just blowing around dirt! This is just…not something that needs to be done.

I don’t know if we need stricter time limits on operation or what, but leaf blowing is completely out of hand, here.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  aquaticko

Aquaticko,

There is an organization in town named Quiet Clean PDX which is “working to eliminate gas powered leaf blowers.” They are good and effective, and are slowly getting the issue addressed by our local governments.

But this is just another example of Portland falling from being a leader to a lagger. When our noise ordinance came out it was considered ahead of its time (about 20 years ago, I think).

Today many cities in the US have already banned gas leaf blower use while Multnomah County has put together a work group to explore “an equitable, community-wide transition to sustainable alternatives.” Mind you, the County has the goal of phasing out county use of the things by 2025, they just need to study it a bunch before banning them for everyone else. (Even though there is already tons of information about this, and it’s a no-brainer.)

This substack by James Fallows nicely sums up the problem: https://fallows.substack.com/p/gas-powered-leaf-blowers-the-end

Here’s another article form USA Today:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/04/30/gas-leaf-blower-mower-bans-spread-us-fight-climate-change/11746893002/

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

I love the point about forcing PBOT employees to use bikes, but I’m guessing that would be a really tough one to implement.

I would like to see a policy, however, that requires PBOT employees to *use* the cycling infrastructure regularly. Create a “Cycling Corps” that earns a few bucks by biking and reporting *officially* back to PBOT about where attention is needed.

Adam Pieniazek
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Imagine it could be really easy to implement if, IF, we stopped buying motor vehicles for PBOT use and instead only bought bikes for PBOT use. Sure, there’s definitely some use cases bikes wouldn’t make sense for but far as I know PBOT’s default vehicle for employee use is a car not a bike, we just need to swap those.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

I would love to see you explain to a planner, perhaps older, unfit, or even disabled, preparing for an evening presentation in deep E Portland, or up the hills in SW, why riding out there after dark in the pouring rain on a bike that may not have been well maintained and hopefully fits them, with their maps, computer, projector, and other gear is “really easy”.

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Here comes Watts to explain why nothing can change, nothing can be done, there are no alternatives, difficult things are impossible, there is only the status quo and the only future we can look forward to is whatever the free market happens to give us as long as someone profits.

Also don’t believe your lying eyes, other places that have done something are… different… somehow. Even if other places are this place some time in the past.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

nothing can change

Things can and will change, but forcing everyone onto a bike probably can’t and won’t happen, and is not something we did in the past.

Drew Williamson
Drew Williamson
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

I like what you’re saying. But, and no offense meant, some of those just seem fairly impractical, as others have said. I’ll try below for more pragmatic, but still significant changes to help meet the moment.

Dedicated BRT system citywide which will be built out in the space of five years. And only take away from car space on most existing four lane roads in the city, center running alignment. Frequencies all day will be 5-10 minutes.

Implement congestion pricing region wide. Including 84 and 26. All revenue is directing to increasing frequencies on all existing transit lines.

Build out the network of urban bikeways described in the recent article.

Close the streets in central commercial zones of the busiest urban neighborhoods. Live humans only, no cars. Create 2-3 block zones that are fully pedestrianized. Accessible by small delivery trucks early AM or late PM via retractable bollards.

Here’s my most pie in the sky idea, that would probably never actually happen. Instead of expanding I-5, or any freeway in the central city, study removing the section of it on the east side to return the river to the people. Create a bypass from 84, using 405 thru the city, all of which would be capped. Develop all inner east side with affordable housing mixed in market rate. Create a whole new neighborhood with at least one grocery store at the middle of it.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

Henry
Henry
7 months ago

I’m really happy to have someone good to root for in district 4. Lykins is running what seems like a perfect platform on all fronts, and I would be happy to vote for him in a year as I live in his district.

Here’s my opinion on how he could improve his platform:
Acknowledging the transportation funding issue being tied to fossil fuels is important, but doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. Cars are becoming electric, and that means less revenue if funding is tied to gas consumption. However, there are a number of issues with electric cars that I would like him to address. They are generally heavier, which leads to more wear on infrastructure and higher risk in crashes (especially for vulnerable road users). There is currently no incentive (probably a dis-incentive) to have lighter, smaller cars. It would be great if his plan to address transportation funding addressed this in some way. Most states have addressed this by having higher registration fees for EVs because they don’t pay gas tax, but that does not address the weight issue, which is what is driving higher maintenance cost. I’m uncertain if anything can be done by city council (probably more effective to regulate this at a state level) but I want to bring this to his attention so we can look for solutions.

Also, with regard to parking, the city has done an amazing job adding parking kitty. Maybe there should be different parking prices based on the length of vehicles. If drivers have to input their license plate to park the system can charge them based on the vehicle that plate is registered to. Longer cars take more parking and should pay for that.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Henry

There is currently no incentive (probably a dis-incentive) to have lighter, smaller cars.

On the contrary — (expensive) battery size is directly related to vehicle weight in a way that’s fundamentally different than the relationship between vehicle size and its relatively inexpensive fuel tank.

Smaller vehicles can be (much) cheaper. It’s still early days. Someone will build small vehicles if people will buy them.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

PS: And what are electric cargo bikes if not small vehicles?

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
7 months ago

Definitely appreciate his interest. But, his proposal seems like an attempt to capitalize on a once-in-a-half century threat–that to the Broadway Bike Lane. Never before had such a proposal been made–to remove an existing bikeway–and it was apparently defeated by clear expression of displeasure by organized advocates and others.

The legislation that Portland needs is not that which “prohibits the removal of infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit before (1) the completion of comparable alternatives and (2) validation that these alternatives function as well or better than the infrastructure being removed”. That’s reactive and likely will never again be needed. We need proactive legislation that works to discourage driving in favor of walking, biking and transit.

If his biggest “pro-bike” proposal is that “we’ll ensure we don’t remove good stuff without replacing it with good stuff” then that just sounds like treading water…

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Steven Smith

 Never before had such a proposal been made–to remove an existing bikeway

Except for SE 26th.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Watts, you are on fire today.

Nick
Nick
7 months ago

I emailed a few of the candidates for my district (#3) last week about transportation policy and got a pretty disappointing reply from Sandeep Bali:

When I see empty bike lanes and idling cars stuck in traffic I wonder how effective the road diets are.

I’m all for bike commuters but I also support private motors vehicles and making sure traffic is safely flowing and not leading to idle cars increasing emissions.

Jimmie Green
Jimmie Green
7 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Wow, that sounds like a very balanced and pragmatic reply. Cool he responded as well. I’m definitely going to check out Mr. Bali.

BB
BB
7 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Denying reality is a great way to do advocacy….
The bike lanes are empty, is he making that up?
I rode up Broadway today at 9 am and saw 2 cyclists.
There seems to be a ceiling to cycling in the city which happened about 8 years ago.
Moaning and complaining because people don’t do what YOU want them to do is just fruitless..
Sorry…..
I ride everywhere, it does not particularly matter to me if no one else does but I don’t scream and yell that Cyclists should get more when the reality is, the infrastructure that cyclists have is NOT being used.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  BB

The city’s bicycling network is only as strong as its weakest link. Not many people are going to use a protected bike lane if to get to it they need to pass through a half dozen dangerous choke points. The reality is that nearly half of Portlanders say they would bike more if they felt safe doing so. https://bikeportland.org/2023/08/02/nearly-half-of-portlanders-would-bike-more-if-it-was-safer-and-cheaper-citywide-survey-says-377709

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

Not many people are going to use a protected bike lane if to get to it they need to pass through a half dozen dangerous choke points.

And yet many more were happy to do so just a couple of years ago. We all know bike riding has fallen off a cliff in Portland despite significantly improved infrastructure.

The reality is that people say things on surveys about imagined good behavior under hypothetical future circumstances that don’t mean a whole lot of anything in the final analysis.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Fortunately we have actual data to back up the hypothesis:

“A measured increase was observed in ridership on all facilities after the installation of the protected cycling facilities, ranging from +21% to +171%.” https://nitc.trec.pdx.edu/research/project/583

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

With results like that, given all the new infrastructure we’ve built, we should have new riders all over the place, and our mode share should be rising rapidly. Unless, perhaps, riders were switching from using parallel routes.

The fact remains that in Portland, we’ve all observed a well-documented inverse correlation between new infrastructure and ridership since the mid 2010’s, and that demands a good explanation.

Damien
Damien
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The fact remains that in Portland, we’ve all observed a well-documented inverse correlation between new infrastructure and ridership since the mid 2010’s, and that demands a good explanation.

“Cycling conditions inflation”. Much like worker wages have been rising since the 70’s yet below inflation, resulting in an effective net loss, so too has Portland’s disconnected and piecemeal infrastructure improvements not kept pace with the increasing environmental hostility brought on by increasing numbers of automobiles that are both increasingly large and operated by increasingly poorer drivers who increasingly give less shits about the commons.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Damien

“resulting in an effective net loss”

This is possible, except that the fall off on cycling started well before driving behaviors tanked.

I suspect this is a partial explanation.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Parallel routes were accounted for in the study: “Survey data indicates that 10% of current riders switched from other modes, and 24% shifted from other bicycle routes. Over a quarter of riders indicated they are riding more in general because of the protected bike lanes.” https://ppms.trec.pdx.edu/media/project_files/NITC-RR-583_ProtectedLanes_FinalReport.pdf

Yes, cycling mode share has dropped since the mid-2010s. (Other things happened during that time period that also affect bicycle mode share.) However, between the mid-2000s and mid-2010s mode share was increasing as the city built more protected lanes.* Did something happen in the mid-2010s that caused new bicycle infrastructure to switch from attracting new riders to repelling them?

* https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/NACTO_Equitable_Bikeshare_Means_Bike_Lanes.pdf

Screenshot 2023-10-06 at 6.07.18 PM - Edited.png
Watts
Watts
7 months ago

“Over a quarter of riders indicated they are riding more in general because of the protected bike lanes.”

It is amazing that a mere 0.8 mi of protected infrastructure could raise cycling rates of so dramatically.

It is probably worth noting at the study was conducted in 2014, which was pretty close to our peak ridership. It would be very interesting to see if those results could be replicated today.

What we do know, without any question, is that despite all the new infrastructure we have built, we have many fewer people riding then we did in 2014. I absolutely support building more stuff for cyclists, but I do not believe it will increase ridership. We need to attend to the larger factors that have led people to ride less despite improved infrastructure.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

We can do both. Believe what you want (as I’m sure you will), but handwaving away research findings because you personally find them hard to believe is not the attitude of a serious person.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

I am “waving away” survey-based research findings that contradict incontrovertible facts.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I should clarify that I don’t necessarily question whether or not protected infrastructure attracts riders, but it seems plainly obvious that there are more important factors driving ridership down even as improved infrastructure might be encouraging more folks to ride than would otherwise do so.

Focusing on infrastructure without attending to the more significant factors is not going to improve bike ridership numbers in Portland.

So I don’t necessarily question the research itself, but question the lessons some people take away from it, and it’s significance and addressing falling cycling rates in Portland.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Nothing’s stopping anyone from advocating for better transportation policy *and* better housing policy, for instance. In fact I encourage everyone to do so. But this is an article about transportation policy specifically.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

Well, I agree we can do multiple things at once. I just disagree with the false promise that infrastructure is the key to rebuilding mode share. I think it’s largely irrelevant.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

So we’re back to handwaving, I see.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This idea that infrastructure is irrelevant to mode share is just silly. Did building interstate highways and suburban sprawl have no effect on the number of miles driven? Amsterdam in the 1970s was just as choked with car traffic as any American city, but better infrastructure that prioritized walking, biking, and public transit changed that.

1mbp0oym6h281.jpg
Watts
Watts
7 months ago

This idea that infrastructure is irrelevant to mode share is just silly.

Since the early 2010s, we’ve have a well documented negative correlation between bike infrastructure in Portland and ridership levels here (and that’s not just handwaving).

Assuming that, in isolation, the correlation should be positive, there is obviously some much more significant factor at play. Attend to that, and ridership will improve, regardless of what we do with infrastructure. Don’t attend to that, and ridership rates will remain low, regardless of what we do with infrastructure.

I’m not spinning out some grand theory of infrastructure, I’m trying to account for (and hopefully reverse) the well documented fall in bike ridership here in Portland that has happened in spite of rapidly improving infrastructure.

Sure, we can improve the numbers to the right of the decimal place with infrastructure, but what happens to the left of the decimal is much more important.

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  BB

I too can pick a random road and say I saw no drivers on it. At any time of day. Your cherry picking is not very convincing.

The roads will never be congested with bike riders because bike riding is an efficient way to get around and will never have traffic jams. You can move an entire 10,000 person ride down any road in a matter of minutes.

There seems to be a ceiling to cycling in the city which happened about 8 years ago.

There is not a shred of evidence of this. This is complete utter nonsense. You can pick any point in the past where cycling in the city was even lower and just say “there appears to be a ceiling” there, and you’d be proven wrong by just waiting. There is absolutely no reason to think the ceiling was 8 years ago.

Bali’s comment is not acknowledging reality, it’s admitting a bad, stupid bias and I’m glad Nick brought it to light so hopefully he gets no votes from anyone reading that comment.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

Your cherry picking is not very convincing.

The “cherry picking”, as you call it, was just describing something everyone who (still) rides a bike in Portland knows and has personally observed. We all know that riding in Portland has cratered.

Calling it “bias” doesn’t change the reality that we can all see, including you.

dw
dw
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I disagree. My commute through east Portland has gotten much busier with people on bikes in the last year or so. Lots of folks taking their kids to school or headed to work. Cycling may have declined for 9-5 office workers downtown but I wouldn’t call it “cratered” until the next census and set of bike counts come out.

Or just be a doomer about it I guess

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  dw

The next census ACS just came out and Portland’s cycling mode share is now 3.2% (within the margin of error of 2021’s 2.8%). San Francisco now has a higher cycling mode share than Portland which is amazing considering how no other city was anywhere near Portland prior to the pandemic. Portland’s transportation cycling collapse is uniquely awful among major metropolitan areas.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Nope.
I ride daily, I’m in the industry. I see nothing of the sort.
Depends on the lens you’re looking through, I suppose.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

Nope.

The lens I look through is that a lot more people used to ride than currently ride.

This is supported by census data, city data, and the observations of literally everyone I’ve talked to about this (except for you, apparently).

What is a more accurate lens?

BB
BB
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

Cherry Picking?
Are the PBOT and the cities own counts and surveys that shows cycling dropping from 7% to now 2% cherry picking?
Are those surveys and actual counts “utter nonsense”
As usual you simply call names and become derogatory about facts.
Any person who travels in any area of this city can attest that cycling numbers are way down.
You apparently don’t live here or just like to argue.

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  BB

Yes cherry picking. Even when it was 7% you could always find a bike lane at some point in time and find no riders on it. Or one or two. This says nothing about either its importance or overall riding trends. I can find roads with nobody driving on them all day.

I commute in this city every day by bike and there are as many cyclists as cars on the streets I use, most of the time. You pointing to cases where you don’t see many cyclists is yes, just cherry picking. It doesn’t matter if ride share is 2%, that’s thousands of people who need protection and it’s a number we want to (and obviously can) be increasing. It is nonsense, arbitrary, and unsubstantiated to say that we’ve hit some cycling ceiling. There is no basis to say that.

If calling your argument cherry picking is “calling names”, yeesh, you must have a hard time talking to anybody.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

It is nonsense, arbitrary, and unsubstantiated to say that we’ve hit some cycling ceiling. There is no basis to say that.

I agree. We’ve shown that the ceiling is considerably higher than our current post-crater rates of ridership.

SD
SD
7 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Bali was pretty horrible when he ran for council in 2022. Not surprised that he hasn’t evolved much since then.

Chris I
Chris I
7 months ago
Reply to  SD

And with the expanded council, he has a significantly better chance of getting on now. Of course, with a diminished voice.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
7 months ago
Reply to  Nick

“I’m all for bike commuters but…”
means not really. And the whole idling cars argument is a tired talking point regularly used by freeway expansion advocates to justify more lanes.
Sounds like Bali’s platform will be appealing to fans of Lars Larson.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

It’s a myth on the right that idling cars emit CO2.

Daniel Reimer
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It takes only a marginal increase in vehicle traffic to offset any benefits you get from not having idling cars. Yes, a car sitting in traffic idling will pollute more, but you get even more pollution from increase VMT, which happens from increase road capacity.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0361198120923365

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

It takes only a marginal increase in vehicle traffic to offset any benefits you get from not having idling cars.

I agree with your underlying point, but I think the issue is much bigger than that. Of course constricting road capacity will reduce travel and thus emissions — emissions could be completely eliminated by blocking every road. No one would suggest doing that (except the Street Trust with their letter demanding the closure of every major street in Portland).

Idling cars tell us there is more demand to use a route than the capacity can support, and roads fundamentally exist to be used. As people here like to point out, there is nothing magical about our current road capacity. There is a fundamental societal benefit in a democracy to providing the infrastructure to let people do what they want.

I have never supported a highway expansion, but over capacity roads with idling vehicles are more than a “tired talking point” to be dismissed — they provide valuable information about unmet travel demand.

If transit fundamentally worked, that would be a better solution.

PS Increasing road capacity only increases VMT if the underlying demand exists. Removing parking and making SE Salmon 4 lanes isn’t going to induce anyone to drive.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Ah yes, democracy is when we let people with the most money and resources do what they want at the expense of public safety, the poor, and the environment. How very clear-eyed and rational lmao

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

I am unapologetically pro-democracy.

I am also not confident there is much of a class divide when it comes to how we want our transportation system to operate. East Portland seems much more conservative in this regard than wealthier inner SE.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yes, after decades of pushing poor people and minorities out of the central city, subsidizing sprawl, and outlawing density and walkability, working-class neighborhoods in East Portland are now attached to their cars. Those were policy choices, and we can choose to make different ones for the future.

Infrastructure costs money. Giving some people “what they want” always comes at the expense of not giving someone else what they want. Roads do not “fundamentally exist” to do anything. They are artificial constructions built to serve the needs of certain human beings over others.

Turning SE Salmon into a four-lane arterial wouldn’t induce any demand? That’s exactly what was done to 39th / César Chávez, and now look at the traffic there.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Here’s a view of SE 39th Avenue, formerly a two-lane collector street, before its widening to four lanes and the resulting induced demand for driving: https://vintageportland.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/se-39th-ave-belmont-1949/

a2000-025-2109-before-widening-se-39th-north-of-belmont-1949.jpg
Amit Zinman
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The truth is that faster cars produce more emissions, specifically from tires and brakes.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/07/09/tire-brake-tailpipes-emissions-pollution-cars/

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

The truth is that these things are curves, and the optimum is not at either extreme.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Nick

“I also support private motors [sic] vehicles…” Guess he doesn’t think climate change is much of a problem then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

JaredO
JaredO
7 months ago
Reply to  Nick

“When I see cars that are 80% empty, parked 95% of the time, and cars stuck in traffic I wonder how effective cars are at moving people.

“I’m all for driving but I also support people riding bikes and making sure people don’t die on our roads and aren’t encouraged to wastefully increase emissions by driving everywhere.”

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  JaredO

Is JaredO your real name so I can put in a vote for you? I want someone who says this. It’s a great framing. I’m sure it isn’t widely appealing, but who knows, it’s a really good point and maybe it would actually change some perspectives.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  JaredO

I’m voting for JaredO!

MelK
MelK
7 months ago
Reply to  JaredO

JaredO, you absolutely NAILED IT. It’s scary to me that we have a candidate who doesn’t understand that “support[ing] private motors [sic] vehicles,” “making sure traffic is safely flowing” (emphasis mine) and not increasing emissions are all in direct conflict with one another. Supporting private vehicle use means more of it, which increases emissions regardless of whether the vehicles are idling or not. Unimpeded traffic flow means faster speeds, making streets less safe for all users.

Another issue I take with his response is that empty bike lanes are a reason to revert to car-only streets. Leadership is building for where we need to be, not where we’re at. I’m guessing from his mention of reducing emissions, Bali doesn’t deny the role cars play in climate change and local air pollution. And yet he thinks infrastructure for other, less damaging modes should be removed, rather than expanded?

My vote will go to the candidates who look at empty bike lanes and ask how we can fill them, instead of going back to the transportation system that got us into this mess in the first place. The latter is just lazy thinking.

Nick
Nick
7 months ago

Most of the candidates have websites with contact information, there’s an official list here: https://www.portland.gov/smalldonorelections/everything-about-2024-election

Ralph Chang
Ralph Chang
7 months ago

The best platform for cyclist and pedestrian safety is assuring a robust and functional public safety system (911, traffic enforcement, police response, crime investigation and prosecution) for ALL citizens of Portland (and visitors). Currently we don’t have that. Don’t just reflexively vote for the latest and greatest “activist” who will just promote more “ideology over pragmatic actions” and the continue the resultant lawlessness we have seen envelop Portland over the last few years.

eawriste
eawriste
7 months ago
Reply to  Ralph Chang

Ralph I could not disagree more. The public safety system you cite is necessary for what occurs AFTER a crash, but rarely prevents them.

The ideology you support has maintained that we look at individual behavior and punish people who defy the law. This ideology has led to a record number of road deaths which peaked in the 70s and is increasing again. The problem with that outlook is our road system is engineered in such a way to increase the likelihood of death/injury–even for “safe” drivers.

Here are the list of road deaths for 2023 so far in Portland. Very few of the above public safety examples would have prevented those deaths. If the above public safety examples were lacking we would see road deaths in random locations across Portland. But road deaths occur primarily on a high crash network.

The vast majority of those deaths occurred on streets that are designed for and encourage speed. We already know based on decades of research what actually works to prevent crashes. Other countries have essentially eliminated road deaths by redesigning roads to reducing speed, separating modes, and installing speed cameras. Again, the measures above are necessary primarily AFTER a crash, but rarely prevent them.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Maybe we should improve our roads while also attending to illegal and dangerous behavior. You know, do both, just like all those “other countries” do.

dw
dw
7 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

This is a great comment and really highlights how enforcement alone isn’t a solution. However, in the Netherlands you get a ticket for texting and biking. So does enforcement not have a place? If folks would feel safer biking and walking if 911 and police response times were better, shouldn’t that be something to invest in? I know it’s not always as simple as “do both” but we gotta meet people where they are at, not wait for some magical protected bike lane utopia.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Ralph Chang

Please explain how additional police response, crime investigation and prosecution would have kept Jean Diaz alive.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

I doubt it was the first time the driver who killed Diaz drove drunk. If he had been caught and arrested earlier, he might have been deterred from doing it again (or might have been in jail), and might not have killed Diaz.

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This is the perfect illustration of how simple automated enforcement would have helped. You doubt this is the first time they drove drunk? Great. I agree, and it’s also probably not the first time they ever sped through the roads. An automated ticket every single time they do that would have likely gone a long way to influencing behavior. And at some point there should be (I think there is, but don’t know the details) a limit after which an automated ticket becomes revoking a license.

That isn’t to say, as the caricaturists may imply, that I think a person driving erratically should just be ignored by manual enforcement, and therefore end up as a DUI etc. But this call usually amounts to “lets flood the streets with cops to solve all our problems”. I’m simply suggesting that we could automatically get many or most of the supposed benefits of flooding the streets with cops for a lot less money and a lot less bias and other problems by vastly increasing the automated enforcement. An 80/20 solution, or 90/10 (we would have to try to find out).

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

Surely if that was an effective strategy, someone would have noticed by now… drunk driving and speed cameras have been around for a long time.

I would be open to evidence that speed cameras are effective against drunk driving, but I do not accept that statement at face value.

Ralph Chang
Ralph Chang
7 months ago

Is allowing people to speed and drive drunk without consequences what we want? If people know there are negative consequences for an action they will be less likely to do it. This is basic human nature and the reason civilized democratic societies have laws, professional police forces to enforce them and a justice system to assure culpability and dispense justice. The current nihilism pushed by the “progressive libertarianism” (anything goes) is NOT working. Yes less impaired drivers means less traffic deaths. It’s a fact.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Ralph Chang

It wasn’t “progressive libertarians” who announced to the world that PPB was suspending traffic enforcement: https://bikeportland.org/2023/08/08/portland-police-bureau-officer-admits-no-traffic-enforcement-messaging-was-politically-motivated-377939

MelK
MelK
7 months ago

About 20 years ago I lived in Fairfax County, VA for a year. The area I was in was 100% car-dependent: my house literally had a WalkScore of 0. About half the people I knew had DUIs on their records. Of the people I knew who had their licenses taken, some continued to drive and just hope they didn’t get caught. Most went right back to drinking/driving after getting their licenses back. My coworkers would warn each other about check-points to avoid getting caught, but the advice was always to choose a different route. I can’t ever recall a time when someone avoided getting behind the wheel after drinking because of a checkpoint.

I suspected the problem was automobile-dependence-induced car brain. The problem was worse among people who had grown up there, and parting ways with their cars was something people just couldn’t bring themselves to do, even when other options (taxis, DDs) were available. Prior to work parties where heavy drinking would be involved, I often offered to DD, and the only people who *ever* took me up on that offer–not exaggerating–were those whose licenses had been revoked due to DUIs.

So drinking/driving was largely enforced, but did that deter them? It deterred a few, for a very short while. But on the whole, no. After that I moved to Germany, where in five years I never once saw/heard of a friend/acquaintance drinking and driving. The conditions there: much stiffer penalties, but crucially–also more robust alternatives to driving.

I don’t think we should argue over an either/or policy, nor should we shoot down the prospect of addressing both issues (enforcement and better streets/mode share) as unrealistic. If we want better, we have to consistently demand better.

Daniel Reimer
7 months ago

Considering the general absence of any discussion about making our streets safer and less car dominated in the past few election cycles, I am very happy to see a candidate that is running on that platform. As a district 4 resident, he’s got my vote.

I really like how Lykins is looking at parking. Managing parking by price signalling is an effective tool that PBOT can most certainly expand it’s efforts in (in both expanding the number of parking districts and increases the cost in areas that are heavily used) and something like demand based pricing would be great.

As others said, there isn’t much policy inside his statement but the thing is there is already great city policies we just need to stand by them and follow them!

Mark Linehan
Mark Linehan
7 months ago

One point I’d like to see from any candidate is a city requirement that all local delivery trucks be EVs by some date. This is for deliveries that can’t be done by cargo bike.

Most trucks currently use diesel fuel, which is a significant pollution source. And their engines are much noisier than electric motors. Local delivery is a great use-case for EVs because the travel distances are not great and overnight recharging is practical.

Amit Zinman
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Linehan

The city needs to deny access to all greenways for delivery trucks, forcing them to transition to e-trikes.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
7 months ago

Chad, this is the best guideline for world-class cycling infrastructure: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2015/05/the-grid-most-important-enabler-of-mass.html