Posts by Adron

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Getting to Krakow from Portland, Oregon

I arrived in Poland yesterday via Lufthansa (per United by Expedia purchase). The flights were good, the experience however has been a little lacking from the coordination perspective. Expedia has again sold me tickets where it is obvious they bulk purchase these and I’m on the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to seat priority. Beyond that United has been pretty decent, albeit they have done the following for better or worse over the last 36 hours of traveling.

  • First report via Expdia via United was that the first plane was 2 hours late that would take me to Chicago.
  • Being proactive I was at the airport 5+ hours early (also eating breakfast because Portland’s airport actually kicks ass and has decent food, prices, and service) and I decided to go see if there was any other way to Chicago.
  • United was kind enough to get me a seat on an American Airlines flight to Chicago, which left and arrived at almost the same time as the original United/Lufthansa flight.
  • Once rescheduled I received a 3 hour and 40 minutes late notice from Expedia/United.
  • Then I received a flight cancelled notification.
  • Then while in Chicago waiting to board the lufthansa flight to Frankfurt I got a 2 hours + late notification.
  • During this time the United staff also mentioned that my luggage would follow me on the American Airlines flight.

So by the end of that mess I was thoroughly confused about whether the flight had gone anywhere. But none the less I didn’t really care since I’d been able to mitigate the problem.

In Chicago I also went to board and had a minor heart attack. When I swiped my ticket I got a “Deny Boarding” message. I then went and checked with the counter staff and they scanned my passport again and I was able to board. I guess they just needed re-confirmation even though they also had staff on hand to verify that people had their passports on them.

That flight was on a 747-8 via Lufthansa. Excellent flight overall, with a good hot dinner and a simple breakfast served. The staff were great and were on the spot. I really enjoyed this flight, in spite of all the other mess that was happening.

When I arrived in Frankfurt I then went through passport control and got my Frankfurt stamp. It took about 2 seconds as there were no lines to even mention. Once I found the gate I had about an hour and half wait.

The crew then had us board the plane, which was an interesting logistical situation. We all exited the gate onto two 60 foot buses. The buses then drove all of us out to the plane that was about 400 meters from the actual gate. It was just sitting parked out on the tarmac. We all exited the buses and went up the steps to the plane.

Once onboard the flight was only about an hour. Nothing of any significance occurred during the flight. We came in over Krakow and got a perfect view of the downtown center, then landed at the airport. Upon landing we were all bused again, via two 60 foot buses, from the airplane to the airport inbound terminal. Which appears to be an under construction building seperate from the main airport. It also seemed odd they bused us barely 100 meters.

Once off the plane all the passengers waited for our luggage to leave through the customs control. After about 30 minutes they finally offloaded the luggage and behold, my luggage didn’t arrive. All I could think was, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I had multiple hour transfers, the flight legs were basically the same as originally planned, and somehow they’ve completely screwed up and misplaced my luggage. On top of all this I’ve no idea if it was United, American Airlines, or Lufthansa. I’ve got a tracking slip now and can only hope that they’ll manage to find it.

I’m also pondering how I should have bought insurance, because I just did the math and realized I had about $4k worth of things packed in there. A laptop, a stand alone bluetooth speaker, Missions Workshop bike cloths which are NOT cheap, and a host of other moderately expensive plugs, adapters, and other things for the computers.

Fortunately I’m generally prepared for entities to royally screw up like this, so I’ve at least got one change of cloths and my main laptops with me. So here I sit, thoroughly enjoying Krakow at this point, and just waiting for my luggage.

Sad, But Good news Maybe?

So maybe the city is going to finally get some diverters and make something happen to reign in the growing dangerous behavior of drivers in Portland. Here’s more info on the matter. I’d love to know what you think on the matter?

…or do I?  Naw, go ahead, throw in some comments on twitter or wherever I’ve posted this and we’ll dive into it.

Whatever you do say, don’t bring up the insane point that drivers are somehow more well behaved than any other type of road user. The evidence is stacked very high against such batshit insane ideas. Just look at those ticketing stats for ONE operation that was publicized.

– 18 Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian
– 14 Operating a vehicle while using a mobile communication device
– 7 Passing a stopped vehicle at a marked crosswalk
– 2 DWS [Driving While Suspended] (violation)
– 1 DWS (Misdemeanor)
– 1 Careless Driving
– 2 Failure to obey a traffic control device,
– 3 No operator’s license
– 1 No proof of insurance
– 4 Driving uninsured
– 1 Failure to drive within lane
– 1 Operating without proper fenders or mudguards
– 1 Expired registration tags, 1 Obstruction of vehicle windows
– 1 Speeding
– 2 Failure to register vehicle
– 2 warnings

If these tickets actually generated a profit (which if you’re confused about that, they actually don’t because the prices aren’t high enough to cover court costs and related admin duties for the vast majority of them) the city could maintain a self-sustaining traffic division with these kinds of behavior from so many. Mind you, at this rate of citations (and the likelihood many scofflaws were missed) this is still the minority of drivers. Many drivers actually do behave well and many drivers even will stop – as they are legally demanded – and allow you safe passage.

It’s the 15-20% of drivers that behave like scum and villains.  :-/

Seattle to Portland High Speed Rail

One of China's High Speed Rail Stations

One of China’s High Speed Rail Stations

Currently travel times between the heart of Portland and the heart of Seattle look something like this. Google maps reports driving is 2 hours and 44 minutes. That’s with no traffic congestion. Flying theoretically takes 45 minutes, but that isn’t really to Seattle, it’s to SEATAC, which is nowhere near downtown Seattle. Taking the train takes a mind boggling 4 hours.

But seriously, those times are all a bit deceiving. Because of the unreliable nature of American transportation infrastructure and systems we end up with dramatically different averages. Driving is sometimes as low as 2 hours and 15 minutes, but regularly more than 3 hours if either end has traffic congestion. The train, if you take the Amtrak Cascades takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes, but on some rare occasions it actually makes the trip in 2 hours and 55 minutes when there’s no freight congestion. Flying is a joke if you need to get to the downtown core of Seattle or Portland. Getting to either airport from the city core takes somewhere between 20 minutes to an hour or more for each city. Again, it depends on the traffic and the mode. Using light rail on either end is a 30-35 minute trip to get downtown. So in the best case scenario, with arrival at the airport at least 1 hour before take off we’re talking about a 3 hour trip minimum, if not more. Putting air travel head to head with riding the train. There’s also the bus, which can take a variable amount of time but often similar to driving.

Vision for American High Speed Rail (Click for a great article on American high speed rail)

Vision for American High Speed Rail (Click for a great article on American high speed rail)

Now imagine for a moment if we had real high speed rail service from Union Station to King Street Station in Seattle. At a top speed of 200 mph, with the same stops that are currently in place, the travel time between stations would easily be covered in about an hour an 15 minutes. Maybe plus or minus 10 or 15 minutes. But either way, it would clearly be the fastest way to travel between the cities.

Just think about that type of travel between these cities. Think about what would be possible…

Portland Living, Seattle Jobs

All of a sudden, with a system like that in place it would open up the Seattle job market to thousands of more people in Portland and even introduce the possibility of living in Portland and working in Seattle. That’s a pretty crazy thought when one stops to think about it. A commute from Portland to Seattle would be no more than what a current commute from Tacoma to Seattle is via the Sounder Commuter rail, or some of the express buses from Everett or far eastern Bellevue or Redmond.

Suddenly, Portland would have the possibility of dramatically more business with Seattle, and obviously vice versa. It leaves one with a question of…

Why don’t we have high speed rail between these two cities?

It’s really kind of insane, and is representative of our ongoing paralysis in intelligent economic development between key cities in this country. Portland and Seattle are a prime example of this exact paralysis. The public sector can’t get it done. The private sector isn’t even allowed to touch the notion. It’s pure idiocy all the way down the decision flow.

As I see many people who live in Seattle, who would rather live in Portland, but are stuck living in Seattle because of the better work & career options this high speed rail thought always comes to mind. Also I imagine there are some people that might want to live in Seattle and work in Portland, but probably not. The general crux between these two cities is that Seattle has the good jobs, and Portland has the good life.

Now while you’re thinking that through, just imagine if we really managed to get our act together and include British Columbia and connect Vancouver. We’d effectively move into the realm of a serious powerhouse world class economic region of the world. Livability, jobs, and career options that exceed the rest of North America by many degrees.

I’d wrap up on these thoughts with a simple notion. Let’s kick some serious regional ass and get some high speed rail built. There’s no region we shouldn’t move into the next level in a serious way! It could start with the cities’ mayors getting together to start applying some real pressure on the respective states and nations to get their act together. It’s well past the time we should start building up the Cascadian Region in some serious ways, let’s stop piddling around and make this happen!

Night Shots From The New Year of 2015

Fixing Bicycle Access in Downtown Portland : Time to Get Real

I recently sat reading a Bike Portland blog entry, as I do so often. This one is about a project manage position with the city to work on downtown bike infrastructure. Something that this city, especially with the volume of cycling traffic we have, sorely needs. I started to write a comment, but it got so long I realized I needed to write a blog entry, so here it is… Continue reading →

Thoughts from Oakland on Portland, To 2015!

This last week has been a whole host of madness. I’ve tried to kick off the new year with some solid riding, which I’ve been partly successful at. I’ve also started my planning around activism and advocacy for cycling and transit in Portland. There are a number of projects, but the top three I’m aiming to put effort into are as follows:

  1. I’m working with others to begin citizen observation and video recording of traffic scofflaws. Those that ignore diverters and other traffic control devices are on watch. Think of this as a neighborhood watch but with the prospect of actually pressing charges utilizing citizen citations. Those that endanger others through their actions are officially on notice.
  2. I’m trying to figure out a way, and would love any assistance, at figuring out how the city can crowd fund and allow citizen activists to actually help maintain infrastructure amenities. All of those downtrodden bus stops, MAX stations, and other areas that seem to be in disregard – I’d like to find a way that myself and others can volunteer to help out with these amenities.
  3. I’m starting efforts to organize and sustain more regular rides, both cycling and transit rides, that will culminate in various activities that might include: bonfires, camping, hacking (coding), hardware hacking (building cool stuff that does cool things), and possibly hardware build outs (like hacking bikes and building rigs of various sorts).

No bets yet, I hope I’m successful at all three, but I’ll be happy if I can knock out #1 and one of the other two.

Other Network Building & Learning Efforts

I’m also intending to actually meet, face-to-face, a number of individuals that I’ve been aiming to meet for years in the Portland area. Hopefully if I don’t accomplish the later two of my goals above, I can help others knock out a few of their goals for the coming year in activism and advocacy.

For now, cheers, happy new year, and all that jazz.

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Let’s Have Hunger Games for Cars!