Auto congestion is one problem that isn’t able to solve itself. (Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)
It’s not your imagination: auto traffic got worse in Portland last year.
One of the main reasons: it looks like almost none of the additional commutes that originated in Portland in 2016 happened on bikes, foot or public transit. Instead, of the 12,000 additional commutes Portland added in 2016, 11,000 happened in cars.
That’s according to the latest commuting estimates from the Census Bureau, at least. The citywide bike commuting rate slipped from an estimated 7 percent of commuters to 6.3 percent, the same biking rate estimated in 2011.
Traffic leading onto the Hawthorne Bridge into downtown Portland yesterday afternoon. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
In 2009, the City of Portland set a goal that many people considered fanciful: one in four trips by bike citywide by 2030.
Eight years later, that’s exactly the ratio of car-owners in the Portland metro area who claim they’d swap their car trips for bike trips “if traffic congestion gets bad enough.”
That ratio held across racial and ideological lines, and was only slightly lower in Clark County, Wash., than on the Oregon side of the metro area. But it wasn’t consistent by gender, age, income or education: women, older people, higher-income people and more educated people were less likely to say they’d switch to biking.
The past few weeks have been especially bad in terms of road fatalities in Portland. Within nine days between July 30th and August 8th we had four fatalities, which prompted me to run the numbers- so by the time you’re reading this, they have gone up.
Per-person car ownership is down 7 percent since 2007 and miles driven are down 8 percent. (Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland unless noted)
Last month, we wrote about the 38,501 additional cars and trucks that would be in Multnomah County right now if its residents still owned cars at the rate they did in 2007.
What does it cost to own 38,501 cars? Or more to the point, what does it not cost to not own them?
For that post, we focused on the amount of space those nonexistent cars would take up. They’d fill a parking lot almost exactly the size of the central business district, for example.
But what about the money that isn’t being spent to move, maintain, insure and replace all those cars, and can therefore be spent on other things? How much money have Portlanders collectively saved by having a city where car ownership (or ownership of one car for each adult) feels less mandatory than it used to?
While Portland celebrates a strong first day for Biketown, a new report about the factors that drive growth in bike sharing shows how Portland has fallen behind the leading U.S. cities in new infrastructure.
Minneapolis, New York City and San Francisco now have about 50, 20 and 15 percent more bikeways per square mile than Portland respectively, the report found. All three of those cities has seen faster bikeway growth than Portland since 2010, the year Portland passed its ambitious Bike Plan for 2030. In Minneapolis, bike infrastructure has grown three times faster.
These new figures were released Wednesday as part of a report by the National Association for City Transportation Officials, which examined the role quality bike networks play in making bike sharing safe and popular.
Everyone knows Multnomah County is growing, and that most new residents are buying or bringing in cars, too. In all, state records show, 8,709 more passenger vehicles are registered in the county than there were in 2007.
But a review of car registration statistics shows that if passenger vehicle ownership were still as popular in the county as it was in 2007, it would have had to find room for 38,501 more cars and trucks instead.
How many cars are we doing without? Well, if we built a parking lot to hold the 38,501 cars that didn’t show up and assumed a standard 325 square feet per space, we’d need about 287 acres of land. For the sake of scale, that’s everything between NE Killingsworth, Skidmore, Rodney and 16th:
Bike commuter Jim Parsons in Washington County. (Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)
The Portland metro area seems to have already discovered how to slow the growth of traffic congestion, the city’s bicycle planning coordinator said Friday. But it’s not investing in it very quickly.
Between 2000 and 2014, the three Oregon counties in the metro area added 122,000 new commuters. And inside the Metro urban growth boundary, less than half of that net growth came from people driving alone in cars.
We hear more often about commute trips, but people’s trips to stores, schools, parks and friends look quite a bit different. (All charts via Metro)
Metro is the only elected regional government in the United States. It’s also got one of the most interesting government communications teams in the country. Like MLB.com, Metro hires people to write journalism-style coverage of itself.
For its latest project, a four-part “regional snapshot” about transportation, the agency pulled out all the stops: original tilt-shift photography, narrative video, text drawn from at least a dozen interviews and a whole quiver of custom-made infographics. If you want a single overview on the basics of the region’s transportation situation, I’ve never seen a better one.
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