Bike Portland Explodes Again, Webtrends Ad in the Crux

There is so much going on over at the Bike Portland Blog in regards to this conversation of taxes for roadways, who pays what, and how much, and etc., etc., etc.  The conversation is long, often tired, and of course tons of things devolve into ad hominem attacks all over the place.  I decided it was time I weighed in, since this is a topic dear to me, as it really makes me rather irate how many people know very little or nothing about how our infrastructure is currently built, maintained (or not), and deemed worthwhile.

Fact #1 The Road System is NOT a product of free-market economics, it is an operationally socialist government mechanism by almost every definition.

Just to start off with the first FACT, our road system is NOT a product of free-market economics, open market, fair market, or anything of that nature.  By morale compass alone Republicans and Libertarians, if they honestly do support free-markets, should absolutely DESPISE our road system network.  Less than 1% is privately owned, maybe 5-10% of it even has a decent return on investment, and about that same 5-10% actually gets appropriately funded and maintained.  Our road system in the United States of America is easily a prime example of socialized (socialism/socialist definition available) ownership and operation by the Government of an industry function, or at least something that in the past was largely an industry function in the United States.

With that fact, that our road system is a socialized operation, one can see obvious reasons certain things are so convoluted in bureaucracy.  The road system is allocated, funded, and maintained as a pull politics bartering tool within the White House and state Governments.  The Federal Government has even used the road funding mechanisms to black mail states such as Louisiana to push through economic trade regulations that don’t meet intra-state commerce clauses.  A prime example is the Federal Government putting thousands and thousands of bars, restaurants, and other establishments in Louisiana out of business by forcing the state to push their drinking age up to 21 from 18.  The point of this being that this encroachment of state rights was done through black mail by our operationally socialist government road system.

Fact #2 The road system is NOT primarily paid for with gas taxes, which fall drastically short of funding our entire road network.

Gas taxes make up enough to fund primarily the Interstates, and at that, they don’t complete 100% of the budget and often require additional sources to meet 100% of budget costs.

 

Should all citizens continue to fund the massive subsidies provided to drivers?

Finally Moved, Still No Car, and Many Fold Transit Increase

Well, finally we are moved from SE 21st & Powell on the east side of the river to the south west side of the river, immediately downtown.  Just slightly east of the PSU campus, right back where Jo & I originally moved to when we left the wretched city of Jacksonville.

We now have access to almost every line TriMet operates.  In addition we’re smack right in the center of everything so we actually have decreased our need of transport and increased our access to transport.  Kind of like a win, win, and WIN.  We’re both stoked on many levels, the only thing that may bother us is the blatant obliviousness of college students wondering aimlessly about in disregard for daily life at PSU – but that’s also one of the MOST entertaining parts of the entire area!  : )

All in all, it has been an INSANELY busy last few weeks, or wait…  forget that…  last few MONTHS!

With that said the transit meetup is coming up on the 5th, so anyone reading this make sure to navigate to the blog entry and comment on where we should meet at.

Last Weekend on the #9

This will be the last weekend we use the #9 as our primary transit mode into downtown, because by next weekend we will be downtown.  We’re heading out at the moment to get some lunch at Isabel’s in the Pearl.  This place has superb food, excellent quality, and downright great prices by Pearl standards!

Here’s our trip path at 23 minutes.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=3137+SE+21st+Ave,+Portland,+OR+97202&daddr=330+NW+10th+Ave,+Portland,+OR&hl=en&geocode=Fb1GtgIdJ5aw-CkdmrPYfgqVVDFxjDaN8wIlTw%3B&mra=ls&dirflg=r&date=11%2F15%2F09&time=12:56pm&ttype=dep&noexp=0&noal=0&sort=&tline=&sll=45.513054,-122.663727&sspn=0.027577,0.049138&ie=UTF8&t=k&start=1&ll=45.512968,-122.664374&spn=0.027291,0.039757&output=embed
View Larger Map

By next weekend our trip will be as follows at 15 minutes.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=222+SW+Harrison+St,+Portland,+OR+97201&daddr=330+NW+10th+Ave,+Portland,+OR&hl=en&geocode=%3BFX6qtgIdogiw-Ck9QO7wAQqVVDHCuJy1aOHaYw&mra=ls&dirflg=r&date=11%2F15%2F09&time=12:56pm&ttype=dep&noexp=0&noal=0&sort=&tline=&sll=45.512968,-122.664374&sspn=0.027577,0.049138&ie=UTF8&t=k&start=1&ll=45.517715,-122.681236&spn=0.021049,0.036478&z=14&output=embed
View Larger Map

Off to some grub now.  Coming soon will be some of those controversial questions getting thrown around again, so be prepared!

Spontaneity @ Floyd’s Coffee

Jo & I met after work about 5:00pm at Floyd’s Coffee in downtown Portland, specifically at 1st & Couch.  Map location included below (thx Google maps).

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=118+NW+Couch+St,+Portland&sll=45.500158,-122.644726&sspn=0.01492,0.033023&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=118+NW+Couch+St,+Portland,+Multnomah,+Oregon+97209&ll=45.523853,-122.671745&spn=0.003728,0.008256&t=k&z=18&output=embed
View Larger Map

While sitting there we decided tonight ought to be a good night to go catch the new 2012 movie.  Being that Jo and I, thanks in large part to Portland, have become theater snobs we wanted to go see it at a local theater we could get beer and grub at.  We had checked earlier in the week to see what was playing, and St Johns Theater was going to be opening the movie tonight.  This theater ROCKS!  It serves beer, pizza, and the normal items expected at a movie theater.  The difference is it is local, serves local pizza and beer, and isn’t one of those corporate theaters that is…  I won’t go on about how or why we don’t like those big theaters.

So we did a quick scoping of the bus trip, and realized we where a block away form a single seat bus trip right to the theater!

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=118+NW+Couch+St,+Portland,+OR+97209&daddr=8704+N+Lombard+St,+Portland,+OR+97203&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&dirflg=r&date=11%2F13%2F09&time=7:50pm&ttype=arr&noexp=0&noal=0&sort=&tline=&sll=45.556732,-122.717285&sspn=0.119236,0.264187&ie=UTF8&ll=45.556973,-122.716084&spn=0.06736,0.090157&t=k&start=0&output=embed
View Larger Map

It was definitely going to be a trip worthy of a movie adventure!  So at 7:09pm we’d board the #44 Bus to St Johns.  That would get us to the theater at 7:44pm, in perfect time to get tickets, get some seats, sip on a few pitchers of beer, and nibble at some pizza.  The movie stands at a whopping 2 hours and 38 minutes, which will put us out the doors, happy with beer & pizza in our bellies at about 10:50pm.  I did a check of what our options were for departure at that time.  The ideal one for Jo and I is another single seat ride from St Johns all the way home.  This trip will be a long 76 minutes on the #4.

For some of those auto bound individuals out there in the world, they may read this and think, “why the hell would anyone want to travel about an hour each way to see a movie?”  First off, many people travel an hour by car to see a movie.  Depending on their own stupidity and the conditions in which they live, it isn’t entirely uncommon.  But in a car that is an hour of time that there are simply two options; talk and carry on or listen to the radio.  At least those are basically the two legal options.  I suppose one person could read, or do something of that sort.  But the even more likely scenario is that people end up in their SOV (single occupancy vehicle) alone, limited to the radio and talking to one self, driving to meet others.

On transit Jo and I get many more options.  We can listen to our headphones, talk to others (there ARE interesting people on transit, which people would realize if they got out of their cars and met their neighbors), I can spec out a Space Marines Army, Jo can knit the gauntlets she is making for Alex, we can talk among ourselves, read a book, watch a movie on the bus (yup, there are these things called iPhone & iPods, that play video! gasp!).  [Image to the right is one set of gauntlets Jo made, if you’re interested just click on the image.  It links to ravelry which you can join for many patterns and such]

All things that are basically illegal or impossible to do in a car.  So really, when it comes down to it, the bus ride is just hanging out, while the car ride is wasted time.  More of one’s life drained away in fed radio media, limited activity, and often spent fuel, more waste, and all those other negatives to boot.

Jo & I don’t have that issue.  Just FYI, we’re free of those limitations.  So maybe the real issue isn’t why we limit or work so hard to use transit, but why do people try so hard and limit themselves to just auto transport?  Really, it boils down to the eye of the beholder.  If we want to even further distance ourselves from the noose of the automobile we can use our bikes, which again, some would be astonished, but they shouldn’t be.

Anyway, a drink awaits me, and some chilling on the bus, and a movie.  Kick ass. 🙂

Complete Itinerary:

Walk 0.15 mile northwest from 118 NW Couch St to NW Everett & 2nd (Stop ID 1612)
7:09 p.m. Board 44 Mocks Crest to St Johns
7:44 p.m. Get off at N Lombard & Baltimore
Walk southeast to 8704 N Lombard St
Travel time: 41 minutes (including 6 minutes walking)

Movie:  2012   -   2hrs 38 Minutes

Walk northwest from 8704 N Lombard St to N Lombard & Baltimore (Stop ID 8480)
11:07 p.m. Board 4 Division/Fessenden to Gresham TC via Portland city ctr 
which continues as 4 Division to Gresham TC
12:16 a.m. Get off at SE Division & 20th
Walk 0.4 mile south to 3137 SE 21st Ave
Travel time: 83 minutes (including 14 minutes walking)

Taking a Survey

Jo and I, while checking out the new apartment in downtown on Sunday, decided to swing by Powell’s to find some books.  We arrived with no fuss via the streetcar and went about our business.  As we walked through though I noticed a table where TriMet was taking a survey of drivers, riders, or whoever.  I decided I was a perfect candidate to take the survey so went back after walking by to put in my two cents.

First off, I have to complain.  Whoever setup the survey setup a broken survey, but I get the gist of what TriMet was trying to get to.  The key points were as follows:

    1. What type of stop do people prefer.
    2. What type of vehicle/mode do people prefer.
    3. What is the wait time people allow before driving.
    4. What type of seating to people prefer.
    5. What type of security do people prefer.
    6. Walking vs wait time.
    7. How important is vehicle/mode cleanliness.
    8. How important is driver friendliness.
    9. What of the above is more important to you.

I might have forgot one or two.  Here’s my take on how and what I prefer.

1. I don’t care about the stop, and personally am bothered by the wasteful amounts of money TriMet spends on some of the stops.  Especially for the streetcar.  There are lots of streetcar systems, some with better frequency and ridership, that basically have no real curb or stop of any sort.  The extra time it takes for these fancy stops in mixed traffic modes is just annoying.  Forget it, non-functional.  Give me a marker and a schedule and I’m a happy rider (maybe a shelter in places where the traffic may splash waiting riders, etc)

2. This is easy.  In order based on Portland’s available modes:  Light Rail (Type 2 & 3, Type 4, and Type 1), streetcar (2nd gen, 1st gen), and bus (high floor bus, others…)

3. As long as I have transit tracker, I’ll schedule around the bus.  Without transit tracker the bus better have a 10 minutes or less frequency, otherwise I won’t use transit.  The simple rule I go by, is I’m not standing at a stop for an extended amount of time if at all possible.

4. I’d prefer plush, but I really don’t care.  The seating TriMet has is just fine.

5. Security is not TriMet’s responsibility.  Saying it is, the fact that TriMet is somehow forced to be responsible, is a direct violation of logic.  It is stupid to have TriMet setup this way, the plain fact is society allowed police departments to be setup for the purpose of personal security.  It is THEIR JOB to enforce security within society.  The police, not TriMet.

On another point that I have contention with.  Anyone that relies on others for their personal security endangers themselves and those around them.  Always, ALWAYS be prepared to flee, defend, or otherwise take charge of your personal security.  If you expect others to do this for you, you might as well give up.

6. I’ll walk up to 10 minutes if it is an infrequent trip, and up to 8 minutes for a daily commute.  For multiple trips during the day I won’t walk more than 2-6 minutes to a stop.  Once at a stop I prefer not to wait more than 5-6 minutes at most.  This is of course resolved by simply timing my walk & wait times with Transit Tracker.

7. Cleanliness only gets to be important to me when things are really dirty.  If a mode is dirty, I will turn around and call a taxi if it is too bad.  Otherwise newspapers, mud on the floor, water, etc is not a big deal.  Human or animal feces, other rancid items, or overpowering stenches will have me in a taxi without a second thought.

8. I get along with the fact that many drivers are not much more than blank faces and spent as human beings.  But I commend and LOVE when a bus drivers enjoys, loves, and thrives as a driver.  I like it when I hear a driver make announcements and chats with riders.  Al M, Dan Christensen, streetcar driver Fred, and others come to mind.  These drivers are GREAT!  This is VERY important to me.  It is (and Al may hate this statement) to me the last semblance transit has to the private existence it started as in this country.  The streetcar operator stories, the human elements, these are the things that draw transit into the very human existence that it is.  Put simply, this is the one thing that buses have over light rail and the “modern streetcar” of Portland.  The human-less, face-less experience on light rail and streetcar is frustrating.  Here Portland is building a human city versus a car city and we have these faceless transit modes.  But I will choose the financially reasonable option that provides more for society than the human face of the bus, only because the community is still involved in the ride, but I’d rather have both features.

9. The most important aspect of transit to me is complex.  It however boils down to something that isn’t the actual transit itself.  Instead it is the lifestyle that it allows.  The car-free, worry free, relaxed lifestyle and relaxing trip enabled by transit service.  The ability to get home and not be strung out or mentally warped and skewed from commuting via the automobile.  The zoning changes and more compact and connected communities that transit also enables (more so than automobile based zoning).  So overall, it is the lifestyle, not particularly the transit.  But one really doesn’t go without the other.

So what are your priorities?  What are the most important things for you in the transit service you use (or don’t use)?

[11/14/09 – Correction:  I stated “and personally am bothered by the wasteful amounts of money TriMet spends on some of the stops.”, which is a faulty statement.  TriMet does not and did not fund any of the stops for the streetcar, the City of Portland, or more specifically the non-profit subsidized Portland Streetcar spent the money on those stops.  I still am bothered by their spending taxpayer money
(and lots of it) on stops that are ridiculously overbuilt.]