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: [Read more…]
This PBOT graphic shows where they want to make transit better.
UPDATE: The plan was adopted 3-0.
At 2:00 pm today (6/20) Portland City Council is set to hear public testimony on the Enhanced Transit Corridors plan. The move will allow the Portland Bureau of Transportation to move forward with design and development of projects aimed at making transit faster, more reliable, and ultimately more competitive than driving. [Read more…]
TriMet’s latest design for stations in the Division Transit Project.
As TriMet inches ever closer to the final design of their $175 million Division Transit Project, the agency once again needs feedback on how best to handle bicycle users at new bus stations. And with protected bike lanes becoming a more common feature citywide, whatever TriMet decides to use could become the new standard.[Read more…]
As the Portland region grows, so too has the popularity of the Columbia River Gorge. That’s a good thing; but not if too many people visit it by car.
Thankfully, Oregon’s tourism and transportation agencies understand this. Two summers ago, faced with congestion and overflowing parking lots, the Department of Transportation launched the Columbia Gorge Express bus service to encourage people to experience the Gorge without a car. That’s been such a huge success they’ve upgraded service and features each year.
Now comes another piece of the puzzle: ColumbiaGorgeCarfree.com, a website funded in part by a grant from Travel Oregon.
The site (still partly under construction) features carfree itineraries for popular Gorge destinations. As of now, there’s a turn-by-turn guide to hiking the popular Dog Mountain trail without a car. The itinerary comes with a detailed map and is based on biking and walking the four miles from Cascade Locks to the West End Transit (WET) shuttle bus stop on the Washington side of the river. If you can wait until May 25th, the Columbia Gorge Express will carry you and your bike from the Gateway Transit Center in east Portland to Cascade Locks.
This new website is the work of Heidi Beirle and a, “geeky team of transportation professionals.” Beirle is a carfree tourism consultant who also works with the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce.
If you’re keen on going to the Gorge carfree this season, keep this website handy. And if you want to make bus service to the Gorge even better, please take the latest Columbia Gorge Express survey.
Riders board the Columbia Gorge Express. (Photos: ODOT)
Despite an early end to the season due to the Eagle Creek Fire, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Columbia Gorge Express bus service was a hit once again this past summer season.
Jake Warr from ODOT’s Rail & Public Transit Division manages the program. He got in touch with us to share an update on this year’s usage stats and a photo of the newly upgraded buses.
“The second season of ODOT’s Columbia Gorge Express pilot service further confirmed that public transit to the Gorge is in high demand,” Warr said. “In fact, before the Eagle Creek Fire forced an early end to the season, the service was on pace to beat last year’s ridership totals. A few tweaks from the 2016 season helped accommodate and support this ridership growth, including the use of larger buses and the option to pay fares with cash.”
Here are the stats based on ticket sales and rider survey:[Read more…]
From SE 82nd Avenue to the Gresham city limits near 174th Avenue, the agency is planning to pay for a vertical barrier, mostly a series of concrete curbs, to protect the bike lanes that will have been recently widened and buffered by a separate City of Portland project. And when the Division bike lanes pass bus stops — as they would at 87th, I-205, 101st, 112th, 122nd, 130th, 135th, 143rd, 148th, 156th, 162nd, 168th and 174th — they’ll often be wrapping to the sidewalk side in order to reduce bike-bus conflicts.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Growing Transit Communities Plan is slated for a hearing (and possible adoption) on September 6th. Now is the time to learn about it and consider sharing your feedback.
The plan is primarily focused on improving access to TriMet bus lines 20, 77, & 87, which include some great safety and connectivity projects for people walking and biking. However, hidden in the document are two corridor studies that have the potential to significantly increase transit connections for East Portland residents. [Read more…]
Since then, Kessler has built a website and socialmedia presence, garnered headlines, built up an email list (he has about 140 people signed up already), and even tabled at the recent Sunday Parkways event.
“The vast majority of comments we received [at Sunday Parkways] were supportive,” he shared with us yesterday. “We heard over and over from folks how well bus priority works in other cities they’d lived in and visited.”
Much to Kessler’s surprise, he said many people who stopped by his booth had already heard about his efforts. One of those people was Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. “We were excited when he pulled up and grabbed a card.” [Read more…]
TriMet buses idle in congestion on the Hawthorne Bridge heading into downtown Portland. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
“It is time for @trimet and @MultCoBridges to open the outer lane on Hawthorne for transit only. This is utterly absurd.” — Alan Kessler on Twitter
Transit riders all too often forgotten victim of Portland’s congestion crunch. While we frequently hear tales of woe from people who drive in the daily gridlock that plagues much of our city, for some reason the news media and politicians don’t have the same empathic ear for people who use buses.
Since buses (and to a lesser extent streetcar and MAX trains) share the same lanes as cars and trucks, these (potentially) efficient and egalitarian workhorses of our transportation system are made to wait behind single-occupancy cars. This is infuriating to many transportation reform advocates, urban planners, and people with a grasp of basic mathematics.
Traffic in Portland is especially bad this year not only because driving is still way too attractive (it’s free, perceived as very safe, and often the fastest option), but also because of numerous construction projects. Case in point is Multnomah County’s project on the Morrison Bridge which prompted The Portland Mercury to report that it would “ruin your summer” if you drive. “Your options,” they wrote back in March, “Begin riding your bike, or figure out at whom you should direct your outrage.”
A graphic on the Portland Bus Lane Project website.
Unfortunately, if traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge directly south of the Morrison is any indication, it looks like way too many chose the latter option.
The result has surely caused outrage — but it’s not just people in cars that are mad. The daily backups on the Hawthorne leading into downtown frustrate transit fans too. One of them is Alan Kessler. Kessler is a lawyer by day and transportation reform activist on the side. He’s an active volunteer with Bike Loud PDX and other groups. On May 4th he was biking westbound on SE Madison approaching the Hawthorne Bridge and posted a video to Twitter with the message: “It is time for @trimet and @MultCoBridges to open the outer lane on Hawthorne for transit only. This is utterly absurd.”
Kessler’s tweet sparked a robust discussion. So much that he’s decided to start a grassroots campaign to see if the idea has legs.
Since his tweet, Kessler has launched the Portland Bus Lane Project. So far it consists of a website and an email list. A meet-up of interested activists is being planned2. He’s also invited Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson to meet him outside her office just a few blocks away from the bridge to take a closer look at the issue.
“Watching buses idle with a few dozen cramped people inside while another dozen individuals in cars block their path is just absurd,” he shared with me a few days ago. “The idea that this is a system that someone designed, that so many people subject themselves to daily, and that is killing our planet. It’s absolutely absurd.”
This hierarchy was adopted by city council as part of Portland’s Transportation System Plan.
Kessler points to Portland’s adopted planning documents that are supposed to prioritize transit above single-occupancy cars. “But this is a painful example of that not happening,” he points out. And he’s not just thinking about the Hawthorne Bridge. Bus-only lanes have been pushed for by Kessler and others on Outer Division for many months now. Metro and TriMet tried to create “bus rapid transit” on the Powell-Division Corridor last year, but were too afraid to constrain single-occupancy vehicle capacity to do it and the plan fell apart.
“If transit really is at the top of the inverted pyramid [a reference to Portland’s “transportation hierarchy” adopted in the Comprehensive Plan], and cars are at the bottom, then it should be easy to find the room to make this happen.”
What might happen to all traffic on the Hawthorne if we made this switch? It’s hard to say because don’t have precise figures about the current split of cars and buses. Two years ago, in a story about how biking and walking traffic was bursting at the seams of the Hawthorne Bridge’s sidepath, we reported that about 10 percent of all the traffic on the bridge is bicycle users, another 10 percent are on foot, and about 30 percent are in transit vehicles (leaving about half inside cars). A former member of the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee told us, “We would like to see the council consider the possibility of lane reallocation.”
“I am certainly not against bus priority on the bridge, but I have always felt that Southwest Madison and Main are the more severe problem.” — Jarrett Walker, transit consultant
Jarrett Walker of Human Transit, a highly regarded bus and transit consultant, told us this morning that attention should be paid to the streets that lead up to the bridge. “Bus only provisions are needed especially for bottlenecks. The urgent problem is often on the bridge approaches rather than the bridge itself,” he said. As an example, he added that MAX light rail on the Steel Bridge is “reasonably reliable” even when it mixes with other traffic. That’s because the bridge itself isn’t where congestion happens and the MAX has a dedicated path on the approaches.
“I am certainly not against bus priority on the bridge, but I have always felt that Southwest Madison and Main are the more severe problem,” added Walker.
If you’d like to get involved with Kessler’s project. You can sign up for his email list at Portlandb.us.