Have We Ridden Together? We Ought To…

Biking... (Guess where this is?)

Biking… (Guess where this is?)

I was just reading about a new way to measure cycling success. It wasn’t based on data or anything of that means. It’s much more simple then that. The measurement is just a mere notion of how many people you’ve met while biking. How many people you’ve introduced to cycling. Simply, how much more experience you’ve had in life from cycling.

Biking...  (can you guess where this is?)

Biking… (can you guess where this is?)

It made me ponder all those questions and ask myself, “have you ridden with me?” Because if not, we really ought to have a ride sometime. Do you ride? Even if you don’t, brush the dust off of that bike and let’s roll off to somewhere. Let’s take a ride to grab a beer or watch the river or catch some music or just shoot the shit. There’s more than a few things to do, more than a few places to go in Portland. If you’re not in Portland there’s still a good chance we ought to ride, because wherever I go I’ll likely have a bike, and we should take a ride.

Seriously, ping me @transitsleuth, let’s ride. If there is any hesitation, ping me anyway and I’ll fix that hesitation for you. First round is on me…  cheers!

Biking in Copenhagen...

Biking in Copenhagen…

Portland’s PMLR Project, Where I’m Moving (One of These Days)…

First point of context. The PMLR stands for the Portland-Milawukie Light Rail Project. The name is somewhat misleading, because it is dramatically more than merely a simple little light rail project. I’ll add more context to what exactly it is over the blog entries following this one. For now, I want to detail a particular chunk of the area where the PMLR is being built that I’ve decided I’d like to live one day.

As I’ve been traveling back and forth between southeast and downtown Portland I’ve made many trips through the inner southeast industrial area near OMSI. The Tilikum Bridge is going in just south of OMSI and a number of streetcar, light rail, road, bicycle and pedestrian amenities are being added to the area. It’s rather exciting for a future prospective resident of the area surrounding the line.

The Tilikum Bridge looking west almost a year ago.

The Tilikum Bridge looking west almost a year ago.

Currently I’m still pretty much a downtown urbanite Portlander and also have spent a few years living on the inner east side near Clinton (closer to Division for a year and closer to Powell for another year). But with the addition of the PMLR I intend to buy a house and move somewhere near the first 2-3 stops of the line on the east side of the river. At least ideally. Basically, somewhere in this area:

A simple map of the area around the PMLR where I'm intending to buy a home.

A simple map of the area around the PMLR where I’m intending to buy a home.

Here’s a map from Google Maps that shows more detail specifically where I’m looking and where some sweet spots will be in relation to the PMLR. There’s a bunch of others, but these are my picks so far.

The prospective areas I'd like to move to, rated by priority choice (at least at this time, maybe that'll change)

The prospective areas I’d like to move to, rated by priority choice (at least at this time, maybe that’ll change)

The areas that have ? marks in them have planned development, mostly towers or higher density housing stock. This could be cool, but also could be super lame, I’ve no idea nor is anything certain in that area. I’d also like to not look directly at an interstate or major highway of any sort. The further from a primary arterial and the closer I can be to people and places that depend on bicycles, transit or walking the better.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to add a lot more information about the PMLR and why it’s acting as a major impetus to actually move to the area and buy (of course, depending on a number of other things that take place in the next few years in this nation and based on the actions that this date kicked off).

Anyway, enjoy, the countdown has begun. Trimet even posted a massive countdown clock!

PMLR Countdown Site (Officially 358 days from opening!)

PMLR Countdown Site (Officially 358 days from opening!)

A Cascading Seat Post Collision and The Green Line

I sat pondering as I waited for departure, how I’ve ridden the Green Line more in the last 2 months than I have in the last 5 years. Mainly because I can get on at 5th and Madison, closer to where I call home these days, and get out to Hollywood District that anything to do with the Clackamas connection the Green Line was built for. But I digress…

I’ve been riding transit a lot more these last few days because I had my seat post and saddle stolen off of my bike last Friday. In turn I took the saddle and post off of my fixie, which wasn’t the right seat post size. This caused a problem itself, mainly that the seat wouldn’t really stay put. I rode the MMR (Midnight Mystery Ride) anyway, just standing up the whole time, but that’s an easy fix. When I got home I pulled the seat post and seat from that bike and set it to the side. I then retrieved Mona, my Surly 1×1 with fatties and sick disk brakes, but the rear tire was flat so I dropped it at my girl friends place and took transit home. Monday however I was also able to pick up a new Brooks Saddle and a proper seat post.

So my current situation is: Surlac, a Surly Crosscheck which is my main ride, has no seat or seat post installed yet. Mona, my Surly 1×1 custom with fatties, is up in NOPO, my fixie is without an installed seat post and saddle, and my other two fixes either are missing a front wheel (stolen) or have shredded tires (flats). All in all, pretty insane to have that many bikes in some strange state of disrepair.

With that being the current state of affairs I am now currently riding, and hacking as usual, the Green Line out to Hollywood Transit Center. Then it’s off to Case Study Coffee for more hacking and a good coffee brew or three. Always aiming for the daily 4 cups of coffee and a couple pints of water and beer. Ya know, because healthiness. :o

Other than that, my Green Line was on time, by other buses, streetcars and light rail over the last few days were all on time. So no complaints, no problems and good times. Albeit bike thieves should all be put to death. But that’s neither here nor there.

A New Day of Transit Sleuthing

As I Ride the Yellow Line and think about things I need to get done, one thought resounds as I hack away on the light rail. The air conditioning blowing on a hot day like this is nice, the thought of the 190+ blog entries that sit in my queue incomplete because I’ve been somewhat demoralized about so many things related to transit and other matters as of the last few years. Even though transit, bicycling, low car options and other life improving realities exist in Portland, New York, Seattle and so many other places in the US, it seems sometimes like meager and nonexistent progress. The vast majority (albeit shrinking) of Americans still are not just auto-users, but auto-dependent. In other words, just to live and sustain their lives in any way they must have an operational car at almost every hour of the day. Without it they would suffer immensely.

These people in America, the vast majority, have this one vast single point of failure that the nation spends hundreds of billions of dollars (excluding any military expenditures) on to make it as pain free and easy as possible. Yes, that’s hundreds of billions per year. With that it just seems that the nation is hopelessly spiraling toward a future of ongoing problems related to the automobile and no solutions in sight.

But I’ve stepped back recently and started to look at the progress we do have for what it is. Progress in a long story of resolving the massive catastrophe that is auto-dependence. Portland is still, albeit some steam being lost in the last 2-3 years, moving forward as a leader, if not the leader in alternate modes of transportation and increasing options for everybody. The city, when compared to other cities in the country is doing a spectacular job still!

With that thought I realized I really ought to get back to doing what I really love to do, which is blogging the movement forward that Portland is regularly making. Not just Portland though, all of Cascadia with a few notes on other places I visit. I enjoy, so I really ought to get back to it. I just have to endeavor to avoid the negatives that come with following these topics to closely at the political level. For in the politics, there’s a whole metric shit ton of horrible politics based on fear, uncertainty, doubt and an altogether feeling of loss and failure. I’m impressed to this day that some can move forward through the process with all the workings against making progress. To them, I commend them on their efforts.

With that, I make this as the day I officially resume blogging. It won’t be everyday, but I’ll see what I can do. After all, I have over 190+ blog entries that I just need to wrap up!

Cheers, have a safe trip and enjoy the ride (everybody on all the modes)!

Today Marks a Very Decisive Day For Me…

I’ve decided to pursue very specific actions in reflection of the current actions of certain people in the United States. At the same time to prepare myself to make the final decision for myself in the coming few years.

A simple declaration with far reaching implication for myself and for Transit Sleuth. I will maintain updates here on the site. Until then, time to get working on preparing for those choices.

Proposed Additions to Trimet Service and Modifications

This last week Trimet released information regarding what bus service will look like that serves the new Portland Milwaukee Light Rail line area of operations. There are several specific bus lines that will have some added service enhancements and changes to the routes: 9, 17, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34 and 99.

Here’s a little cut of what the current routes look like and the area they cover.

Current Route Service Area. Click for full size image.

Current Route Service Area. Click for full size image.

One thing to note, is that all routes are to maintain frequency service levels. So if it is a 15 minute frequency or a 30 minute frequency, we can expect it to stay at those service levels. The differences in almost every route is an increase in net area of service, and slight alterations to the route that will make the service more reliable. Here’s a map of the proposed changes.

The Proposed Routes. Click for full size image.

The Proposed Routes. Click for full size image.

Out of all the changes there are two that will be the biggest changes of all. One I had no idea about and the other I’ve been looking forward to since initial discussions of this line many years ago.

Tilikum Bridge Changes

The Tilikum Bridge is the first transit, cycling and pedestrian only bridge in the city (probably in the United States west of the Mississippi I’d suspect, but I’d love to be corrected about that). The bridge is interconnecting many different points of transportation and hubs on both sides of the river. On the west side of the river it will connect to OHSU and the south waterfront, interconnect the streetcar, several bus routes and also connect the buses and light rail to the Lincoln Street Harbor Structure.

By funneling many of the buses onto the harbor structure and across the Tilikum Bridge Trimet will be making the bus routes dramatically more reliable and also increasing their speed into downtown. With the general frequency of each of these routes there may be some morning congestion between the MAX, #9 and #17 buses but overall the #9 and #17 will be much better off than trying to ply the streets with auto traffic across the Ross Island Bridge.

The #28 Does What?!?

The other change, which I’d not even realized was on the table, and I’ll admit complete ignorance about the route, is the #28. Honestly, I didn’t even know Trimet had a #28 route. So if anybody has any thoughts on this route I’d love to read them.

On that note, since I’m completely uninformed and have zero experience with this bus I intend to, in the coming next week or two, go and ride the bus for it’s entire current length. Likely during rush hour, but maybe in the middle of the day, I don’t know as I’ve no idea about its schedule either. So thoughts or if you’re interested in riding, let me know and we’ll take a trip together to sleuth out this route.

Trimet’s Complete List of Changes So Far

Here’s the complete list of changes so far. Trimet is still looking for input to determine the best changes and ways to serve the customers along these routes. So if you have any contention with this list or would like to see any other changes, get in touch with them at any of these meetings or communication means.

  • Line 9-Powell
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • The proposed routing change would shift the line from the Ross Island Bridge to the new Tilikum Crossing and then connect to the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at OMSI/SE Water Ave, South Waterfront/SW Moody Ave or Lincoln St/SW 3rd Ave stations, plus all stations on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
  • Line 17-Holgate (no change to Broadway leg)
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • The proposed routing change would shift the line from the Ross Island Bridge to the new Tilikum Crossing and then connect to the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
    • Riders can transfer to the new MAX Orange Line at five stations: SE 17th Ave & Holgate, SE 17th Ave & Rhine St, OMSI/SE Water Ave, South Waterfront/SW Moody Ave or Lincoln St/SW 3rd Ave stations, plus all stations on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
  • Line 28-Linwood
    • Maintain existing days and hours of service (weekdays about 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.).
    • Increase frequency from about every 70 minutes to about every 35 minutes.
    • New route into Downtown Milwaukie via Linwood Avenue, Johnson Creek Boulevard, Tacoma Street, and Main Street (including service to Milwaukie Park & Ride); continue south from SE Jackson Street as Line 34.
    • Riders can transfer to the new MAX Orange Line at SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek or Milwaukie/Main St stations.
  • Line 31-King Rd
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • Maintain existing route to Downtown Milwaukie, where route would turn around.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at Milwaukie/Main St Station (about a five-block walk from SE Jackson Street).
  • Line 32-Oatfield
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • Maintain existing route to Downtown Milwaukie, where route would turn around.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at Milwaukie/Main St Station.
  • Line 33-McLoughlin
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • Maintain existing route to Downtown Milwaukie, where route would turn around.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at SE Park Ave and Milwaukie/Main St stations.
  • Line 34-River Rd
    • Maintain existing days and hours of service (about 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.).
    • Increase frequency from about every 70 minutes to about every 35 minutes.
    • The routing between Oregon City to Downtown Milwaukie remains the same, and the line continues service north from SE Jackson Street as Line 28-Linwood. Line 28 would serve the Milwaukie Park & Ride, SE Tacoma/Johnson Creek Park & Ride and Clackamas Town Center.
    • Riders can transfer to the new MAX Orange Line at Milwaukie/Main St Station or at SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek Station via Line 28.
  • Line 99-McLoughlin Express
    • Maintain existing frequency for the weekday rush-hour only service.
    • The proposal would add service from Downtown to the south during the morning commute and from the south to Downtown during the afternoon commute. Service in both directions during weekday rush hour runs between about 5:30 a.m. until 8:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.
    • New route into Downtown Portland via Sellwood Bridge with limited stops on Tacoma Street, Macadam Boulevard and Corbett Street to existing route on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall. The route change would occur when the Sellwood Bridge is open to bus traffic. In the meantime, interim routing is being reviewed.
    • Transfer to MAX Orange Line at SE Park Ave, Milwaukie/Main St or SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek stations, plus stations on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking into these routes more and will have a few opinions and thoughts about it. Overall, this route, the bus changes, the amenity additions along the entire route and more are the biggest win for the Portland area in a number of years.

What Infrastructure Would you Want To See in Oregon and Portland?

I’ve been pondering what ideal wins the infrastructure czars (you know, the Governor of the state, mayor of Portland, Bend, Eugene, Salem and all the other leaders of Oregon) could and should push for these days. With the recent and still ongoing absurdity of the I-5 Bridge to the epic nature of the new bridge in Portland that is Bike, Ped, Bus, Light Rail and Streetcar only bridge, it begs the question. What infrastructure would be awesome to have added to Oregon, and specifically Portland, Eugene, Salem and other such cities and towns? What is reasonable and what would actually be a good return on the effort and investment for the state? What is a good investment to direct a good and effective future path for the state? That’s just the beginning of the questions though, one could write a thick book of endless questions.

But with that in mind, here’s a few I’ve been thinking of just recently.

  1. Rail service enhancement into Vancouver from Portland. Rail service that could be used for, but doesn’t necessarily mean passenger service initially. The bottleneck on either side of the Columbia River is a problem space, however with some solid double tracking, or even triple tracking from Portland north through Vancouver to the Battle Ground area and even out toward Camas we could get some serious benefit from this. Freight could be handled by rail into the city and out of the city more easily, putting intermodal points at locations that better serve Portland and Vancouver instead of so many trucks driving into and out of the cities via interstate. The other notion would be, at some point, with appropriate access real commuter rail service could be offered easily from points north like Battle Ground, Camas, and other locations and have them funnel through Vancouver’s station and into Portland. We’re talking about 15-30 minute commutes. Light rail will never accomplish this, bus service won’t accomplish this, only passenger rail could accomplish this. As the current service, albeit not effective as commuter rail, already serves the corridor from Vancouver to Portland in about13-16 minutes, pending they get a slow order or not. Regardless, for bang for the buck, subsidizing a rail infrastructure expansion here would go far beyond any other motorized infrastructure investment in the area.
  2. Cycle track system, not just a few cycle tracks. Not faux bike infrastructure but real bike infrastructure. Let’s put 20-30 million into it every year for the next decade, then let’s see where we get an truly reevaluate that. For the $200-300 million it would cost to get Portland true bicycle infrastructure on a world class scale similar to Amsterdam, it would easily give us the ability to hit the 25% mark for cycling. This in road bike infrastructure however is a joke to most people, and seriously, it still just exacerbates the more neanderthal drivers to freak out the less assertive cyclists. Very frustrating to see such an opportunity go down the drain. As for that investment, we already know the more cycle oriented parts of town are doing crazy good business, have healthier, happier and more effective citizens then the auto oriented areas – so seriously, we need to get our ass in gear in this regard.
  3. BRT – Bus Rapid Transit needs to be put into play in a number of areas from Eugene to Salem to Portland. BRT would be highly effective in acting as core arterials feeding the existing light rail systems, and as systems feeding directly into the city cores. BRT should be implemented as true BRT, not the faux junk implemented in Seattle, but as dedicated – possible to upgrade to LRT or even heavy rail in the future – with regular 5-7 minute service for more than 10 hours a day. Ideal points to connect in Portland would be Gresham down Powell to downtown Portland, 39th street north and south as a feeder from St Johns out and down to Hollywood and into Milwaukee, and another possible great route would be to setup a core run somehow on Barbur and put some traffic calming into place so motorists stop killing pedestrians and other motorists on that arterial. BRT could play a huge part in future build outs, especially since we need to bulk up ridership with frequency more than “luxury light rail”. Light rail is still needed, but with the completion of the Portland-Milwaukee Light Rail, we’re good for the next 10-20 years for rail infrastructure as our corridor backbone. Let’s get to feeding it as we should to make it easier and faster to use.
  4. My last thought is actually a huge way to spend a little money and over time save millions upon millions. There are untold miles of roads in Portland that we can’t afford to maintain, along with roads in Salem, Eugene and every major city and even more road miles in rural parts of the state. We should designate some of these roads as either toll roads, no longer maintained roads (i.e. close them unless a private entity wants to take responsibility for them) and especially in the city let’s figure out which roads we can cut out, stop maintaining, turn into parks, do turn outs or cut offs to improve neighborhoods and decrease costs or one of another zillion options. Simply, we have too much road infrastructure for a limited budget at the national, state and city and county levels. Let’s scale back appropriately. If motorists want to pay more to have more infrastructure, let’s actually foot the bill instead of continually pawning it off to bonds of various sorts that often end up in foreign hands. Our current road funding models are just insane, let’s budget what we can afford instead of living so far past our means. This would economically, environmentally and socially be logical as well as getting people to face the reality that we’re overbuilt on debt and poorly run infrastructure – we can do better.

That’s my top 4 that ought to have something done sooner than later. I’d love to see what your top choices would be. Leave a comment or three with your thoughts, I’ll put them into a larger write up that might even be put forth to implement. Cheers and happy riding!