Maimed, Dismembered or Otherwise Injured

A lot is written about the 35k, give or take 5k per year that die needlessly from automobile wrecks throughout the United States. We are one of the more dangerous countries to drive or be around drivers in. Of those numbers 5k, give or take 1-2k, die needlessly while walking down the street and being impaled, smashed or otherwise killed by errant motorists. But there is an even bigger number out there, that number is the people who have been maimed*, dismembered* and now live with a permanent disability because of an errant motorist.

In the NHTSA Fact Sheets (linked below) the year 2012 alone, there were 184k recorded injuries, a 2 percent increase over 2011. In 2012 this was one of the leading causes of injure to 15-20 year olds (and a leading cause of death). There were more people injured by motorists in the United States than killed and injured combined from combat and operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last 5 years. Of these injuries the average insurance cost for treatment skyrockets to about.

The CDC points to a cost of $14k average per incident for bodily injury. That’s well beyond the basic average wreck that only claims damage to property (the car) of about $3-4k.

In the NHTSA “Not in Traffic Surveillance” the number of injuries hit an average of 91k per year between 2008 and 2011. It’s easy to make an educated guess and assume, the injuries still are very close to 91k per year today. These injuries are caused by absolutely irresponsible motorists, by not braking appropriately and rolling into or over people, a large number of people just walking away from their car without insuring it is stopped. The number of injuries from this behavior are enormous for the simple ease of preventing it.

For all of the deaths, related injuries and their respective costs, the numbers are staggering. Oregon is hit with a cost of $422 Million per year. This doesn’t even include the indirectly related costs that are often just as high. Washington hits a mighty $665 Million. These two states, which I included because I commonly point out how much better these states do than the other states, still do very poorly in these categories. Those are some serious numbers to think about, on top of this whole mess we call our transportation system in the United States.

So how does Washington and Oregon measure up compared to other advanced nations like the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, England or Germany? I’ll take a look at that data in the near future. Cheers, and seriously, be careful out there and have some respect for that motor vehicle you’re around, controlling or parking.

References & Definitions:

Just Daily Portland Trips

A few weeks ago I took a trip around Portland and snagged some photos. I used a varying arrange of modes; streetcar, light rail, bus, bicycle and my own two feet. This is a pretty standard trip that could easily be told in pictures. Which is what I’ll do now, tell the small part of the day along with a respective picture. For all the pictures go here:

Here’s a shot of the streetcar traveling north up MLK. I always like to sit on the right hand side where the two seats face each other. That way I can easily see out the front of the streetcar as we’re rolling along.

Looking Out the Front of the Streetcar (Click for full size image)

Looking Out the Front of the Streetcar (Click for full size image)

I got off near Lloyd Center and snagged a few shots of the light rail trains coming by going east toward Gresham, Clackamas Town Center and the airport and in the other direction those coming into Portland.

Green Line bound for City Center (Click for full size image)

Green Line bound for City Center (Click for full size image)

As things go I saw a number of cyclists among the streets along with the proverbial onslaught of motorists driving their cars.

Cyclists and Motorists (Click for full size image)

Cyclists and Motorists (Click for full size image)

…and then something I see about 1 out of every 7 or 8 trips. Some dipshit motorists that have run into something. In this case someone obviously ran the light and hit the other motorists. Fortunately it appeared that nobody had gotten hurt but I only imagine, everytime I see this sickening situation, how many people might have been killed. In so many places a small negligent act that results in this outcome could have resulted in innocent people being killed. Everything day no less than 13 people, and sometimes as many as 15-20 people are killed by motorists while they simply walk down the street. Sure, one might say callously, that’s a lot number of 300 million people, but consider that this number is about 20-30x higher than in Europe. It really shows that we can indeed reduce these killings. Don’t even get me started on how many motorists other motorists kill, it’s an even higher number at 95-120 people per day and motorists maim another 400-1000 people per day.

Truly unacceptable.

Black Wrecked Car (Click for full size image)

Black Wrecked Car (Click for full size image)

The White Honda Smashed (Click for full size image)

The White Honda Smashed (Click for full size image)

…and more in the near future. Stay safe, think and happy travels. Cheers!

Portland Meeting w/ The City on Street Deaths, Maintenance and What To Do

Thursday night at 6:30 kicked off a public meeting at the Sunnyside Environmental School. This topic concerns everybody from the motorist who wants better roads and roads to last to the cyclist who wants to be able to ride peacefully down a greenway into work to the pedestrians who would like to walk down the street with their children and not fear that one of them may be killed or maimed by an errant driver. Ok, so a few stats to start this article off. The first are few from this image and derived information (ie, I did some simple math after speaking with one of the street engineers on hand and also others that work for the city, they know this material very well).

Portland General Fund (Click for full size image)

Portland General Fund (Click for full size image)

First thing to note, because it escaped me for about 2 seconds until my friend Tony pointed it out, public safety actually translates to police and fire. So let’s just put that out of our minds as anything that we’re allowed to be “flexible” with. But the real kicker, is we get down to actual road budgets in the general fund. The transportation and parking budget is a mighty whopping 2% at $8.7 million dollars. When it comes to road maintenance and other such things, that isn’t a lot to work with. Now keep in mind there is still the gas tax, which in Portland isn’t a huge amount of money but it adds a few million more. But a lot of that goes to other roads too. ODOT takes a cut, the Feds of course take a cut of gas taxes, etc. The gas tax however is NOT a large amount of money and does NOT fill the gap between needed roadway work and related things. The simple fact is, gas tax plus general budget funds don’t really cover but about 20-30% of our roadways. More on that in a moment. The second image I took is of a little budget pie chart split out.

Pavement System (Click for full size image)

Pavement System (Click for full size image)

Up in the left hand corner (click if you can’t see it in the regular sized image) of the image you’ll see a few stats.

  • 4,827 lane miles in Portland’s road system. (that’s 1 lane that is 1 mile long, it does not include ODOT roads like 82nd, Powell and others, nor does it included Interstates (federal/state/ODOT) or related roads that happen to come into Portland)
  • 1,871 of busy streets. These are basically arterials where there are buses, trucking, etc. These are the arterials, sometimes including neighborhood arterials like Division, Hawthorne and other such extremely busy streets.
  • 2,971 lane miles of neighborhood streets.
  • $5~ about 5 billion in value.
  • 52% of busy streets are in fair or better condition.
  • 46% of neighborhood streets are in fair or better condition.

Simple Math, We’ll Have to Give Up Some Roads Soon

As I spoke with one of the city engineers about this information I asked, “based on the budget or even doubling the budget, how many lane miles can the city of Portland maintain?” He did some quick math in his head. I then confirmed that number based on some extremely conservative estimates the city could maintain about 1300-1500 miles of roads. As shown above on the chart, there are 4,827 lane miles in Portland, which leaves somewhere between 3,327-3,527 that can’t be maintained. Looking at things another way, Portland has enough money to cover most of the maintenance of the busy streets in the city but not the neighborhood streets. The city has 3,327 to 3,527 miles of streets that will continue to fall into disrepair.

But what about the unpaved streets? They measure approximately 60 miles of unpaved streets in the city. Most cities have somewhere around the same to dramatically more unpaved streets than Portland. Many of the streets are short blocks that lead immediately into a paved street, alleviating much connectivity issue. All of the unpaved streets are used rarely by anybody but the people that live on the street or a few others that might pass by. Emphasis on a “few”. So the question really is, “so what about em’?” With that I’m going to drop this point for a few, because while a few people fuss about 60 miles of unpaved streets there are 3,327-3,527 miles that are merely years away from becoming unpaved. Priorities here people, priorities.

So there seems to be some options here that are going to take place no matter what we do. No significant money is going to become available. The feds aren’t exactly swooping in to save the disappearing gas tax revenue. It’s up to the cities, and the only options on the table for streets are to let some of them disappear from the cities list of streets to maintain. In New Orleans I recall seeing those notorious signs “This Street No Longer Maintained”. That sign meant the city of New Orleans was done with that street, it was up to the local community to do anything with it. Most people on the street and surrounding areas were actually fine with that. They didn’t care.

What to do with all these streets we can’t maintain? As road budgets get strained even further there is going to be increasing pressure to abandon the notion that a street must be provided to every single doorstep in America. It just isn’t possible, never was, and never will be.

So the question is, with well over 3,327 miles of of road miles about to be left untouched, why keep wasting them as mere roadways. What should we do with them? Some neighborhoods have even reclaimed low yield streets and planted mid-road gardens, turned them into neighborhood parks and other such wonderful additions. Why not officially start declaring some streets as off the books and let the neighborhoods really, truly take back their streets!

There’s a lot of potential in this issues to reclaim the streets and make our neighborhoods more livable, safer for our families, friends and children and make our city more efficient in the process. What are your ideas for these 3,327 miles of roadway?

NOTE: The Oregonlive also published a wrap up with some good quotes from attendees @

US Oil Imports Falling

It was reported just today that oil imports are falling in the United States. I might add, it’s about damn time. After years of cold war nonsense, illogical Government manipulation from subsidies for exploration to dictatorial control about where we are or are not allowed to buy oil from the resource has been poorly utilized and poorly brought to market.

Today when I read the USA Today article on falling oil imports. The article brings up a single point as to why our imports are dropping, which is “Experts largely credit new drilling techniques that have unearthed vast troves of previously inaccessible oil embedded in shale deposits in states such as North Dakota and Texas“. This again, brings up my frustration with so called experts. Especially experts that are likely some oil company employee spouting off how everything is fine and dandy. Well, here’s a few major reasons why imports have decreased and why we’re able to use more oil locally.

The first one, just to cover the bases, is the huge sacrifice the country is putting into shale derived oil. Even though we’re ruining massive volumes of drinkable water to mine this oil, it’s increased the amount of oil we’re producing in country by a fair bit. But that brings up the other huge reason why we’re able to use this new oil and decrease our imports. Let’s talk about all of these reasons, that combined, are making as much or more of a difference than the new shale oil we’re getting.

Driving is down by a large enough percentage that fuel usage has decreased across the nation. This isn’t a mere blip on the radar anymore either. As “US Driving Continues to Decrease“, dramatically “Study: Fewer Young People Getting Driver’s License” and some posit why “Fewer Teenagers Have Driver’s Licenses … Because of Gas Prices and the Internet?” but have no evidence. We know though that driving has decreased and continues to decrease. This started happening before the Great Recession and continues today.

Meanwhile more and more continue to move into urban cores, closer in suburbs and places that don’t require 100% auto-dependence. Some places of course, are still a disgrace to intelligence or intelligent lifestyle options like Houston, Texas or Phoenix, Arizona. However even those places have seen dramatic market demand for more livable, walkable, bicycle and transit friendly lifestyles. Albeit they’re orders of magnitude more difficult to attain in those cities. However others have seen a skyrocketing increase in demand; San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles even and many many others.

So why has our oil imports decreased? Sure, we’re producing a little more oil in country, albeit at great cost (shale oil is NOT cheap), but we’re also starting to live in a much more intelligent way than we have the last 50 plus years.

Here’s to hoping the United States continues to improve in this way.

Division Street is Looking Great! Let’s Destroy Division Street!

There’s new construction on Division & 32nd that has the road torn up and down to one lane. The construction gaurd is polite, offers me immediate passage across the street to the bus stop. I’m one of the many lucky souls in Portland that lives within a hundred feet of a bus, light rail, passenger rail or streetcar stop. Today I’m boarding the trusty #4 Route Bus into downtown Portland.

As the construction gaurd flips his sign from stop to slow, the traffic from the western direction, which is where my bus is arriving, starts to trickle through. I stand at the bus stop prepared to board. I check my smart phone to insure that I’ve purchased a day pass. I verify that I have and count the seconds. One car, two car, three car and four. The bus then pulls through and stops gingerly in front of me.

I step aboard to prevent any lingering wait that the cagers surely draw frustration from. The driver is already smiling and greets me with a “it’s really running the gauntlet today”. He refers to Division Street as a whole. From 39th to 10th or so it has been under construction from many months, if not more than a year now.

Division Street Grows Into Something Worthwhile

Four years ago Division Street was nothing but a small two lane arterial that switched into 4 lanes at random places. It is a residential street with front yards and children playing nearby. Now it is under immense pressure to become consistent, to grow in a smarter way than just acting as a naive arterial only for cars.

Division has grown sidewalks for the length of the street from 8th all the way to 82nd. Before there were gaps, dangerous gaps. Division has gone from inconsistency of two or four lanes to a solid two lanes from 82nd to 8th. At 8th is where something new is sprouting in the Portland & Milwaukee Light Rail Line. Between 12th and 30th there are fixes to and dramatic additinos of bioswales and other road amenities. These amenities are known to increase pedestrian and motorist safety. Between 60th and 82nd the lanes have gone from an unwieldy and dangerous four lanes to two, consistent with the rest of the street. Along the sides now are buffered bike lanes and other amenities for bus pull outs, timed traffic lights and other small items that help the flow of all traffic, not just cars.

Slowly Division itself becomes something, with bioswales and a consistent two lanes for its length. Service on the road is getting an increase in just a few more weeks. The #4 Trimet Bus is increasing back to what is referred to as frequent service. This means 15 minute frequency or better throughout the day. Beyond frequent service there is also going to be an increase for rush hour.

Slowly the auto dependency of Division is becoming less violent and fading into a small nuissence that provides a meager enabler for the street. Already today, actively there are three transportation means that already rule over the automobile when looked at as a whole; public transit, biking and walking. Not only have these modes become the dominent form of transport for customers to the growing businesses along Division. These modes, now dramatically safer with the taming of traffic violence, are once again becoming of dominant use to those teaching, attending and maintaing the schools in the area. That’s thousands and thousands of trips that no longer rely on the automobile, decreasing the auto-dependency of those that now have this new freedom.

A True Place

Some screamed when all of this started. Capitalism was at play in a huge way taming the automobile here. Some hate that, some love it. The city gave liberty to developers and stopped forcing them by regulation and law to build parking. If they saw a reason not to or demand didn’t dictate they simply didn’t have to build apartments with parking. Some of the residents saw this as a massive problem. With multiple apartments open that are without parking, there is still no shortage of parking. With the largest of the apartments without parking ready to open in the coming month or two, there still is a growing sense that this will become an enabler to the area versus a detractor.

Along this corridor the city has seen a dramatic increase in businesses opening up. This is in addition to new homes, apartments and other domiciles for people to live in the city. Almost 5x as many businesses, many local, now exist compared to just two years ago. Most of these businesses are now doing a brisk trade too. When auto-dependency ruled the street the businesses popped up but then immediately suffered. These businesses, many catering to the automobile, had not only been hurt by the auto-dependency but also hurt the existing businesses that were there before. The street was a ghost town as the 60s and 70s rolled in.

Let’s Destroy It All

Years ago the shortsighted advocates of auto-dependency wanted to pave all of Division, forcefully relocate the residents, destroy the homes all the way out to Clinton Street and possibly as far as Lincoln street in some cases on the other side. What they wanted to do, to be sure anybody could drive as fast as possible from downtown Portland to I-205 and the suburbs was build a new Interstate. They wanted to destroy all of this under the false guise that it would somehow make the neighborhoods better if they have more auto-dependent access. We know now, and thankfully didn’t make this mistake, that Interstates and increased auto-dependency do not increase livability or the quality or value of one’s neighborhood. If anything it pushes people further away and creates a massive thing that most people don’t actually want to live anywhere near.

As I ride through and down Division today to run my errands, enjoy an espresso and head into downtown for a few meetings I’m extremely happy that Division and most of the respective southeast neighborhood wasn’t destroyed to make way for an Interstate. The thousands of people that live here and enjoy an extremely high standard of living would have been left with a dwindling and disused neighborhood. A neighborhood that would have had little hope for repair. Now the neighborhood is anything but that. The number one reason why is because the city and the people of the city didn’t allow an Interstate to be cut through the area!

Until later, happy riding.

Al Said Phoenix Has No Traffic Problems

Here’s the specific Twitter thread that started all of this, it wasn’t 100% Al but one started from snark and brought to full bore through the might of Twitter.

First off, my immediate response is, “…are you kidding me?” Ok, after I recovered from laughing right out of the chair I was sitting in, I thought “alright, I’ll give Al the benefit of the doubt, cuz Al is actually awesome!” So here’s some of the things I found, which made my falling out of the chair laughing incident all that much more reasonable.

Knowing Each City

Before diving straight into the stats to determine if Phoenix, Arizona actually has traffic problems or not we should get to know the city. In addition to Phoenix, since Al is always giving Portland crap about all sorts of stuff, I figured we’ll follow Portland’s stats for that matter too. So let’s get to know some basic stats about both cities. First we’ll take a look at Phoenix.

Phoenix is located in Arizona consuming 517.948 square miles. The entire metro area consumes 16,573 square miles. Phoenix, it is safe to say, is a sprawling expanse of a city. The city was incorporated on February 5th, 1881. In the 2010 census the population of Phoenix in the city limits was 1,445,632 with a density of 2,797.8 people per square mile. In the metro area of Phoenix there are 4,263,236 people making it the 14th largest metro area and the 6th largest city.

Portland is located in Oregon consuming 145.09 square miles. The entire metro area is 6,684 square miles. Portland, is sprawling in some areas, but dramatically smaller in physical land mass compared to Phoenix. The city was incorporated on February 8th, 1851. In the 2010 census Portland in the city limits had a population of 583,776 with a density of 4,375.1 per square mile. In the full metro area there are 2,289,800 people making it the the 24th largest metro in the country and the 28th largest city.Now, let’s take a look at Portland.

Bring Out The Traffic Stats! First stat. So before I even get into actual delays or anything, let’s talk about the most serious statistic of all.

Traffic Fatalities

How many people are killing each other on the roadways of Phoenix. I’d consider fatalities a number one problem with traffic, specifically auto traffic. So let’s get some insight. Let’s give a look see if Phoenix has traffic problems related to fatalities. The first results made for some mixed answers, at first, looking at the Google results it looked horrible for Phoenix.

Traffic Death results for Phoenix on Google.

Traffic Death results for Phoenix on Google.

Then the first article I pulled up here, talked about traffic fatalities falling.  Only (notice it states ONLY, as if have hundreds killed is a reasonable thing to have occur) 807 were killed in 2009 after dropping from 938 in 2008.  Maybe my laughter wasn’t valid and I had incorrect information. Maybe Phoenix’s plans of highway expansion had made the city safer and my assumptions were incorrect. So far, this is great, the traffic killing was decreasing. But wait, when did Arizona roads deaths increase? In 2011 they increased again to 825 people killed. This was however all state fatalities and not Phoenix fatalities. I kept digging around and then found a jackpot of information about Phoenix Traffic Collisions of 2010. Phoenix in 2010 had 121 fatalities from 108 collisions. However it appears motorcycle fatalities are listed different, that amounts to 19 fatalities, which fortunately is a huge drop over the year before. Then continuing on to see other related fatalities that for some reason aren’t inclusive of the collision stat for some reason, are 49 pedestrians. Of course, another that wasn’t included in the core fatality stat was the 8 cyclists killed by motorists. Go figure, America, home of the “we can’t add up numbers right and stuff” statistician. Either way, I combed through it and think there were some other stats, but am going to go with these numbers for now and dig up Portland’s. Here’s how it looks so far for Phoenix in 2010.

  • Motorists killed by motorists: 121
  • Cyclists killed by motorists: 8
  • Pedestrians killed by motorists: 49
  • Motorcyclists killed by motorists: 19
  • Light Rail Killing Anything: 0
  • Cyclists Killing Anything: 0
  • Pedestrians Killing Anything: 0
  • Motorcyclists killing anything: 0

Now it’s Portland’s turn. I right off found tons of information from Google about bicycle traffic and bicycling in Portland, but almost nothing on the first page of Google results related to traffic wrecks and such even though I was looking for wrecks specifically. This is, considering how Google works, actually a good thing for Portland. I finally found a document on Oregon’s Crash Summary. On page 5 there are Portland stats, putting the fatalities for 2010 at 24. But I knew there probably were other bits, as these statisticians are devilish about the details so I kept digging. It looked like, and I won’t even go into these stats, that statement at over 300 fatalities Oregon has more than it’s share per capita versus Arizona. That doesn’t bode well in a comparison, but we’re again, not comparing the states – there are LOT of other outliers in comparing the two states and how people create traffic in each. So back to Portland itself. I found the bike fatality rate at BikePortland, with the wonderful total of zero. This is fortunately a common stat in Portland and I hope it stays that way and we can keep dropping the numbers for every mode. So digging through another BikePortland entry I finally dug up a stat difference that the Oregon book didn’t seem to account for. One listing was for 26 dead in 2010 and the origin state stat document showed 24. It’s clear however, that the pedestrian deaths are over 50% of all fatalities, all killed by motorists. This is, very unfortunate and shows that motorists, once again should truly have a dramatically onus put on them to drive safe and responsibly, as motorists seem to kill each other and non-motorists far too often. Anyway, the stats for Portland.

  • Motorists killed by motorists: 7  (I’m going with this, I continued searching and this seemed the most consistent stat)
  • Cyclists killed by anything: 0
  • Pedestrians killed by motorists: 15
  • Motorcyclists: 4
  • Light Rail killing a pedestrian: 2
  • Cyclists killing anything: 0
  • Pedestrians killing anything: 0
  • Motorcyclists killing anything: 0

When looking at Phoenix and asking, “does Phoenix have a traffic fatality problem?” compared to the US and compared to Portland. The average fatalities in the United States are 10 per 100k people. In Phoenix it is 10 per 100k.  In Portland that rate is about 4 per 100k. These specific stats are available via the NHTSA Report for 2010.

Results for Phoenix Traffic Fatalities

  • vs. the US Average : No, Phoenix is doing just barely better then the country as a whole.
  • vs. Portland : Yes Phoenix clearly has traffic fatality problems, Phoenix is doing horribly compared to Portland. Portland is 60% below the fatality rate of the United States & Phoenix. A dramatic improvement over the country and the city of Phoenix.

Commute Time

What stat is something that should be compared next? Let’s take a look at average commute time. In Phoenix the average commute time was 25.3 minutes. In Portland the average commute time was 25 minutes.

Results for Phoenix Metro Traffic Commute Times

  • vs. the US Average : No, Phoenix is doing the same as the rest of the country’s average, which is 25.4 minutes.
  • vs. Portland : No, strangely enough, Phoenix isn’t particular doing bad, nor is Portland, we’re just about average.

Now even though it is hard to imagine Phoenix having an urban core, it actually does. The urban core in Phoenix is a traditional grid layout with a growing density. Here’s a map with great information about the commute times. If we take a look at this and look at the urban core, we find that the urban core of Phoenix has a commute time of 19.1 minutes.

Travel Options

This is a pretty easy measurement. What are the modes and travel options in the city? Does Phoenix really have options?


Phoenix has a transit system that is made up of buses and light rail. The light rail system carries a reasonable number of people. However, when one gets down to the specifics the travel times, frequencies and accessibility (i.e. how far one has to go to transit and how many are with X amount of distance from transit) leaves many Phoenix Citizens without transit as an option. So either way, even though many thousands of citizens in Phoenix can’t even get to a bus or the light rail, we’ll say they can. So from a transit perspective Phoenix has buses and light rail.

Just to recap, Portland has Phoenix handily beat in regards to transit options. With a greater density and frequency of services all around. We have buses, light rail, streetcars, and technically we have commuter rail. Albeit I’m not sure if I’d even count the WES, so we’ll leave it off and just go with the fact that we do have 3 heavily used modes: streetcars, light rail and buses.

In the rest of the country there really isn’t a national assumption of any type of transit. So it’s barely a comparison, any city is going to beat the options you have in the general areas of the country. However, most US cities, especially the size of Phoenix have dramatically more coverage, service, hours of operation and a number of other features and modes than Phoenix does.

Results for Phoenix Metro Transit Options

  • vs. the US average : No, Phoenix has vastly more choices than any rural area.
  • vs. the US urban average: Yes, Phoenix is very limited in modes, with very little coverage compared to the average US city of 4 million people or close to that number.
  • vs. Portland : Yes, Phoenix fails miserably compared to Portland. The ridership, coverage and in other ways Phoenix fails horribly in regard to options.


How about cars? Do citizens have access to cars? I did a few things to figure this out. First I figured out what the median income is in Phoenix. In 2010 the median income was a fairly sizable $55,054 for Maricopa County, but for the city specifically it’s as low as $43k! It appears that this is dropping these days too. Just for comparison, the US median income in 2010 was about $51k albeit dropping pretty rapidly. By 2012 it was down to about $48-49k, but to keep things conservative and make sure Phoenix has every available change to prove itself to not have traffic problems, we’ll go with $51k. Of course, we have to have a Portland reference in there, which in 2010 the median income was $40k.

Now all of these amounts are actually pretty irrelevant if we don’t know what these things can buy. The median transportation percentage, for these states is both just below 12%. So looking at that, people in Portland spend $4920 per year on transportation and people in Phoenix spend $5160 per year while the US median is $6120. The overall costs of things vary in large degree between Phoenix and Portland and getting a final cost of living comparison is really difficult. It primarily depends on what you want for your money. The same goes for Phoenix versus the rest of the country, but in this comparison we’re just looking at the cost to get around based on medians.

Results for Phoenix Metro Transportation Costs, based on Auto Median Cost

  • vs. the US average : No, Phoenix is actually cheaper than the US average. This is to be expected comparing an urban area with the average American landscape.
  • vs. the US urban average: Yes, Phoenix is more expensive than many of the urban landscapes in the average US city.
  • vs. Portland : Yes, Phoenix is more expensive.

Inter to Intracity Connections

The city of Phoenix has two options for coming or going, you either have to fly, but or auto. There are no other options in or out of the city.

The average US City, especially in the million plus person range, has air, bus, auto and rail transport options on average.

Portland has air, auto, bus and rail but also has river options. Some might say, “nobody takes river transport”, so that’s fine we’ll just leave that off. Which still gives Portland an easy victory in this category over Phoenix.

Results for Phoenix Inter & Intracity Options

  • vs. the US average : No, Phoenix has the standard mode of auto and bus, plus it has air.
  • vs. the US urban average: Yes, Phoenix has less options than the average US city.
  • vs. Portland : Yes, Phoenix also has less travel options out of the city versus Portland.

So you do the math, do the factor, does Phoenix have traffic issues? Hell yes it does. Are they worse than average US traffic issues? Not really, but then of course I’d say anywhere in the US has vastly more traffic issues and commuting concerns than Portland does based on these averages. As for automobile delays (which are extensive for EVERY city) the only real option is the city that provides for real alternatives and livability close to work, home and play. Very few places in the United States actually provide that.