“Who’s running Portland right now? You. Pick a problem that really matters to you. Seek organizations addressing it and give them anything you’ve got: time, money, intellect, energy, even tweets. But don’t sit this out. You must engage.”
How can you “engage” in transportation advocacy? You’re in the right place, since one of our missions here at BikePortland is to get you inspired and informed enough to have a valuable role in local policy and project decisions. But you need tools. Our activism editors Catie Gould and Emily Guise of BikeLoudPDX have put together a list tools they use to sharpen their activism skills.
On the evening of April 7th, Alex Hubert was crossing to the MAX platform to catch a northbound Yellow Line train back home when he was struck by a car. There was no police alert on Twitter. There were no news reports. But I was there.
This post is about my attempt to learn more about the safety issues at the intersection and find out why they haven’t been fixed.
“Right now we have a second-class transportation system for folks that have accessibility issues and it just plain isn’t fair.” — Adrian Pearmine, DKS Associates.
Seniors and people living with a disability who need accessible transportation across the Portland region have dealt with a patchwork of inadequate services for years.
A new initiative called Mobility for All hopes to change that by creating a one-call, one-click regional transportation information system.
Today, many communities in the Portland Metro do not have accessible or frequent transit, requiring residents with special needs to reserve rides days in advance in order to get around. Service varies significantly in rural communities, and getting across the region through multiple service providers can be daunting. One of those options, TriMet’s privately operated LIFT paratransit service, was recently under fire at a Workers Rights Board hearing in May for inadequate scheduling systems and long wait times for riders among other complaints from employees and community members.
It’s a scenario familiar to anyone biking in a city: you’re riding down the bike lane, when suddenly you’re forced to brake and swerve around an unforeseen obstacle blocking your way. At best, this is annoying; at worst, it is deadly.
Reporting these issues can be extremely frustrating. In Portland, there is no way to send a photo to the Parking Enforcement number, and callers rarely know if a ticket was ever issued. Reports to the 823-SAFE hotline can take months to be reviewed and disappear into a database that is not publicly accessible. This leads people to resort to social media, which raises only temporary awareness.
A new website aims to fill the gap. Since Bike Lane Uprising launched in September 2017, it has received over 2200 bike lane obstructions reports. Christina Whitehouse, an industrial designer in Chicago, has been surprised by how quickly it has taken off. The site allows people to submit incidents of bike lane infractions which are posted online and entered into a database and mapped. As more people contribute, Whitehouse can create heatmaps to identify conflict zones, trends, and notify businesses that are repeat offenders.
There are not many professions where you introduce yourself and get a stream of complaints in response. I design office printers for a living, so this comes up a lot. On the plus side, years of complaints about ink prices and paper jams prepared me well to have an opinion about transportation issues, and be ready for other people’s advice on what is wrong with my perspective.
Just wearing a Sunday Parkways shirt once got me on the receiving end on a stream of complaints about PBOT, bike racks, and so on.
In general, I think transportation is a wonderful advocacy area because it is so accessible. Everyone experiences it — and therefore everyone is an expert. Well, not really. But everyone who calls City Hall about the lack of parking considers themselves experts, so you might as well think of yourself as one too.
PBOT includes a variety of new tools in their ETC plan; but not all of them play equally well with bicycle users. We wanted to get our hands dirty and learn more about what types of stations we currently have — and how future designs could be better. About 30 people showed up for the ride to learn and share what they know about bus stop designs. Here are some takeaways: