Time to Up Our Game Portland

Vancouver BC went from zero miles of cycle tracks just a few years ago, to dozens and dozens of miles. They now cover all of downtown.

Seattle is now building cycle tracks, bikeways, trails and bike lanes like mad. Almost like their light rail, it seems they’ve jumped into the game really late and realized they’re vital to maintaining and growing their urban core and holding onto people and businesses that drive the Seattle economy.

San Francisco, also now building cycle tracks and bike lanes all over the place. Again, a bit late in many ways but better late than never.

Meanwhile, the biking capital of the United States is in a holding pattern around taking real leaps forward in progress. Portland, Oregon is in desperate need to a true step forward. Yes, we have 6% of the entire metropolitan area cycling, we have almost 30-35% of all trips in the inner urban core taken by bicycle. But we have a host of problems because our bicycling is driven more out of a revolutionary culture of changing things for the better, increasing livability and sustainable living than any actual investment in infrastructure.

Portland’s cycling infrastructure, except for all of 2 or 3 streets, has shared roads. There is only two cycle tracks, one on Multnomah Avenue and one by PSU. Both are often parked on and blocked. When I say often, I mean 2-4 times per week. Often at the worst times, such as during rush hour. Multnomah Avenue is so poorly marked in one segment that it almost always has cars parked on it except on the clearest days. We also have a lot of bike lanes, which are pleasant enough for brave cyclists, but it doesn’t encourage those with children and many others to really mix with traffic out of fear and threats from motorists.

Portland is starting to fall behind.

On several of the bike lanes, such as near Chipotle where the streetcar turns one lady blatantly parked in the bike lane. When I asked if she knew it was a bike lane, I received a strident, dismissive and aggressive, “yeah I know that!” almost as if to say “screw off”. I stated, “well, you could get a ticket, even by me which would see you in court.” Maybe next time the more effective solution would be to bust a window and ride on. It seems like solutions like that would be better since nobody seems to really want to stand up and say what a warped, perverse, self-righteous entitlement motorists like this tend to have.

Portland is starting to fall behind.

All of this is truly frustrating. I’m however, far from depleted of energy, far form demotivated and if anything, this type of disrespectful obliviousness that endangers lives, shows disrespect toward one another’s fellow Portlanders just encourages me to do something about it. But one might ask, what the hell is the solution?

Well, I don’t have a billion dollars to give the city to build real cycle tracks. But I’d bet there is motivation to do something about it! There are others out there and I intend to begin rallying riders to get something done about it.

To summarize, I intend to see some cycle tracks get built in Portland sooner than later. I intend to make it a priority that we don’t end up with more dead and buried because motorists get their entitlement because “cyclists run red lights” and other such nefarious absurdities. Red herrings don’t save anybody’s lives, and it’s about time that we wrapped our heads around this issue and started taking some real action.

Portland is starting to fall behind. But solutions await.

What do we need? That’s simple, it’s absurdly simple.

  • The cycle tracks (the two of them) that exist now need real bollards, real separations. Not some petty separation that is covered up with a light dusting of leaves or debris. These separations can be at grade but would be best raised, when that can’t happen there should be physical obstacles to vehicles running across and into cyclists, pedestrians and others that traverse the sides of the roads. Already this year in Portland over a dozen people; children, young people in their early 20s and even elderly have all been killed by motorists. Some of the motorists were drunk, most were just driving along obliviously as happens far to often. None of these people however should have been killed. Almost all of the motorists have received no charges. Only two, apparently drunk individuals, have actually received charges. The fact that we could have prevented this from happening, arguably even prevented the drunk fools form killing people, is disheartening. Let’s get this fixed.
  • There needs to be cycle tracks implemented along every major corridor into the city. Bike boulevards are wonderful, but as arterials get congested with more auto traffic (from more cars traveling down arterials) the bike boulevards handle the run off of cars, making the street dangerous for residents and of course for cyclists. Simply, every existing boulevard should have a comparable route with a cycle track on it and there should be additional blockages to prevent speeding motorists from using these as secondary arterials. This isn’t even so much something for cyclists, as it is something to protect the schools, the residents and the children that live in these neighborhoods.
  • The cycle *highways* as some have called them are starting to form. These are a great stride forward, but not only a stride forward they are the way forward. The increase in business and activity along these corridors will continue to make malls and suburban development seem like the most absurdly idiotic thing that it is. So this, this one space, we are actually moving forward on. We however as a city could be expanding our efforts around this – cycle-tracks, or highways, as they’re sometimes called should be expanded to travel into every major corridor in the city. Cycle-tracks should funnel into them, bike lanes should funnel into them, and other routes should funnel into these prospective cycle havens. The prospects of increased business, activity, social gathering and community involvement increase dramatically with all of these corridors.

In the future I’ll add a few blogging bits about how to create better hubs of biking, transit, pedestrian and living areas in the city. Hopefully I’ll have a few ideas of how to prevent gentrification screwing over people too. So this is a start. We’ve still got a long way to go to make this city everything it should be. Join in the effort, I’ll see you there.

Chevrolet Tries In Vain to be Cool!

…and fails pretty bad. There are sites like Buzzfeed that go on about goofy pictures and everything. It puts a laugh on a few zillion faces a day. Recently however I noticed one of the “feed” items was a blatant advertisement from Chevrolet focusing on how lame one’s carpool is. I will admit, I’m stoked they’re suggesting people carpool. Sadly, it seems that’s a rarity except maybe in places like Seattle.

Some of the pictures and labels kind of bug me. First reason is because Chevrolet isn’t actually being very funny. Second is because they really think very little of their customers or people that aren’t their customers. Another is the ongoing assumption that Chevrolet has that anybody in their customer knows or understand anything about public transit or alternates besides being dependent on one of their cars. So let’s take a look at a few of these pictures that Chevrolet thinks is hilarious through their disingenious use of a buzzfeed article.

Being they’ve taken a picture of the busiest Japanese Subway station, one of the busiest in the world and labeled it “you think public transit sounds exciting!” Here’s my simple response to Chevrolet about this particular image/animated gif.

First off, being that I’m not cowering in one of your subpar cages – I mean automobiles – and I’m out there with the community it is rather exciting thank you. I’ve met people I never would have otherwise. I’ve met people outside of my racial group (which automobiles tend to limit because you hide away from ever speaking to anybody outside of your circles). I’ve met others that have very unique lifestyles compared to mine. I met and was able to help out Jared one day because he was super short on a few bucks, and I knew he actually needed it because I know Jared now. I know the smiling lady, if not by name, by the friendly hellos we greet each other with when we are boarding the same bus. I know the hipster fixie rider who likes to skip the uphill. So yeah, the public transit is sweet. I’m not hiding away in one of your crappy cars, so thanks for pointing that out.

…but alas, why is that funny? Oh yeah, because you’re being condescending and treating transit users as if they’re second class citizens and lesser than your “auto dependent” users.

Then there is the next picture about pooping. Ya know, cuz’ that’s ALWAYS so freakin’ hilarious! Again, followed by my immediate thought and response.

So I guess add to the array of reasons to speed Chevy, Smoky and the Bandit wasn’t enough. Jeezum, could you pick a lamer, ancient and more recessively inane thing to post as an excuse for speeding.

Genius. Oh wait, no, the opposite of genius. Stupid.

The last image didn’t bother me so much as actually gross me out. Mainly because I see the result of fast food everyday. I’ve eaten the non-food crap they sell maybe a few times this last year now. I’m impressed by how they still sucker everybody they do into eating the shit. But hey, it isn’t particularly dishonest, the population makes an active decision.

So I only really have one response to the image titled “Every single one of your cupholders has fast cups in them”. No, no wait. I’ve got a few comments.

  1. Holy moly that is just sad.
  2. Stop eating that shit people. For your sake and everybody else’s.
  3. Clean up your car, have more respect for your things. Jeez.
  4. Wendy’s?  Well, I guess at least it isn’t McDonalds… but when comparing a pile of crap to a pile of crap it isn’t much of a stretch.

Anyway, it isn’t so much the behaviors they’r eattempting to make fun of. Those are mostly sad. What really irks me about the car companies these days, especially Chevrolet in this situation, is they’re dramatic increase in disingenous advertising. Attempting to make things just appear as user generated content or otherwise. By mere action belittling and assuming idiocy on part of the consumer. Maybe it’s my desire to not treat people like idiots, to encourage people to do better, or a number of other characteristics that I have that would never allow me to push such an advertising campaign. There’s a million other ads that are legit, honest and straight forward. For example, regardless of the shadiness of whatever companies…  at least their ads are well put together and not a disingenuous mess.

…and…

…and…

Anyway. Chevrolet, just forget it. You’re cars are lame, the population has voted more than once. The company had to be bailed out even in spite of buyers deciding against your cars. Way to impose yourself on the population. Shame on ya, an embarrassment for all Americans.

Portland Milestone, 100th Bike Corral & The Largest Valet Bike Parking in The World

All courtesy of Streetsblog. I also saw the Seattle Bike Blog entry “Portland has upgraded 163 car parking spaces to create 1,644 bike spots” on the news and gotta say, that headline really points out what kind of boost to business a few bike corrals here and there have versus auto parking. Bike parking provides about 10x the parking for about … ? I’m not sure what fraction of the cost. If one had the same footprint – 163 car spaces removed and you had to make room for 1644 parking spots that would equal to about a 10 story auto parking facility. Which I’m sure would cost a bit more than the 163 parking places. So how much do people really pay for parking? I can only imagine the costs. To summarize, the United States has been getting the shaft by focusing on auto dependency in urban areas.

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Cuz’ The Northwest is Rocking the Cycling and Seattle is Starting to Lead the Pack!

Recently Seattle stepped up its game even more. Not only is a streetcar line soon to open between King Street Station, First Hill and Capital Hill but also a cycle track is going in on Broadway. I knew all about the streetcar line going in but holy moly I’d no idea they were getting a cycle track too. A trip will be scheduled and I’ll be aiming to bring some of the cycle track and streetcar action to you via Transit Sleuth TV once they’re both open! Here’s a sneak peek via Streetsblog.

The streetcar system is connecting three major points in Seattle, this is going to be a pretty big deal. Here’s a summary of the four places. For more official information about the streetcar service, check out Seattle Streetcar.

King Street Station @ Pioneer Square area to Chinatown then thru First Hill & Capital Hill

King Street Station is the Amtrak Station that has recently been returned to it’s proper magnificent glory of yesteryear. In some ways it is also the northern terminus for Sounder commuter rail service from Tacoma and the southern terminus for Sounder service to Everett. It’s a gorgeous station, worth a trip by itself. There are a number of other things in the Pioneer Square area of downtown Seattle that are worth checking out. This area along with King Street Station is basically the southern terminus of the line. The line then traverses part of the International District (or still commonly referred to as Chinatown in Seattle) and then turns in the First Hill area. It continues through the First Hill area and into Capital Hill, which is one of the dense urban areas of the city where music, art and livability thrive. It also is partly rooted to the future Link Light Rail Station for Capital Hill. This connection point is poised to be one of the busiest areas of the city in the coming years, easily transforming the very vibrancy and life of Seattle.

The Broadway Cycletrack

If there is a sure fire way to avoid streetcar tracks on a bike, it’s to have a cycle track right next to them! Seattle has planned for this and the Broadway Street segment is going to have just that. Here’s a cross cut view of the cycle track next to the streetcar and road traffic on Broadway.

Seattle Transportation Department also has more information about cycletracks going in around Seattle along with some information about ones elsewhere.

Detroit, More Grass Roots to Show Us How To Do It!

So Detroit has been notorious for hitting the bottom of the barrel. In large part because so many people that should have cared, gave up and surrendered the city. Also because the city was run inappropriately. The list of issues, concerns, screw ups, racism, discrimination, spite, infighting, bad culture, car dependency and other things that have sunk this once great city is long. Extremely long. One thing that is becoming apparent though, and if the citizens of the once great city have anything to do about it, is that the city has life and that life intends to live well. It intends to give the city a rebirth of sorts.

Of course, there are a number of completely idiotic things that the city is doing, such as taking money to expand an interstate. Note, the city is at about 600k people versus the 2+ million the infrastructure is designed for. However, as I was saying, even in spite of these completely insane moves that are further sinking the city government, the city’s people are breathing new life into things that truly matter. Here’s a video of some of the cycling community taking to the streets for critical mass, to help out kids and provide after school activities and more. It’s a very heart lifting video.

Also, if that isn’t enough, Detroit has lit off one very unique bus company too. (I previously posted this some months ago, but it’s worth mentioning again!)