Three Things to Uplevel in Portland

1. Holy bananas that mix of people is lopsided.

Like 80% of the city is made up of mostly people of “Western Europen” decent. As in, 80% white, not even caucasian white, it’d be increasing diversity to get some actual people from the Caucasus region here! Mix this city up some, it needs the perspectives. I know Portlandia is working on it, and this country will get it diversified, just would be nice to do it before I’m 90! It’s an awesome city, everybody should be getting full return on the place, it’s great!

I know one doesn’t just click their fingers and BOOM a city becomes diversified. A city has to open itself up to becoming a community for many people. Open up refugee paths, open up migration paths from various places, and especially be ready for other Americans of all backgrounds to roll into town. Above all though, work on – and I know Portland is generally good at this for the typical hipster white fella – work on bringing everybody into the various communities. Have dinners, have street potlocks (street parties? what does one call these?). I know this happens some, but do it on a bigger more regular scale. For example, item 2.

2. More Full Time People Space.

More people space and less car space. Portland could afford to just close down some streets and just turn em’ into concrete permanent street fairs or something. Kind of like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, albeit slightly less alcoholic insanity would be fine too.

I also don’t mean just another park, or adding on to the convention center (which is another silly thing the city keeps attempting to do, I suppose to line somebody’s pockets?). I mean street spaces, walking spaces, spaces for music, spaces for gathering, spaces for all sorts of things in the actual city. Not shoved off in some neighborhood. I know Portland can do it. The emphasis is push more cars out get more people in. It’s better, there are more than a few examples out there.

3. Bike Infra Upgrade.

Portland is well past the period of *beginner* bike infrastructure. It’s time for Portland to really hunker down and uplevel that bike infra. Get to Copenhagenizing that bike infra in place and cut out this painted stripes on shit for cars nonsense. Also see point 2, and then once that’s emphasized for people, then push for upleveling the bike infra.

Well, that’s it for now. Got favorites for what you’d like to see added?

Sunday Transiting Sunset Hill to Greenwood to Downtown Seattle and Around

A few Sundays ago I did something I haven’t done in ages. I took a walk to 85th and 32nd northwest. That’s slightly further up the hill in the Sunset Hill Neighborhood.

There on the corner sits a coffee shop called Cafe Fiore, A solid, 3rd wave, high quality style coffee shop. It often has little pastry items and few Top Pot Donuts. Once I arrived a few observations immediately came to me. The line was in the ~20+ minute range. Almost every seat outside along the sidewalk, all 12 or so of them were packed, and every seat inside was taken up too. Clearly I wasn’t going to be able to sit down, relax, and think introspectively.

I looked to my right as I crossed the street to Cafe Fiore, starting to contemplate where I would, or could, go instead. The choices aren’t numerous at this point, as I was on foot and the only option is to get a bike-share e-bikes bike (what the hell does one call these things really?), otherwise it’d be a 20+ minute walk to the closest establishment that would have anything to eat let alone something breakfast and coffee related. I pulled out my phone and checked if there was one of these limebikes.

Not within a 15 minute walk.

But wait, duh, the King County Metro Bus Line 45 ends right here, there is a bus sitting 50 feet from me. Sometimes before coffee I’m a bit stunted. I checked the next bus departure time on OneBusAway, that was in 4 minutes, “JACKPOT!” The bus travels from here, 85th and 32nd northwest, all the way to the area where the university stadium and light rail station are located. There are hundreds of places to go get some breakfast, coffee, or whatever I want between here and there!

I boarded once the bus driver returned from her short break. The driver, as Seattle area bus drivers are, was friendly and appeared to be having a pretty good day. She wore a big smile as she drove us off toward the next stop.

Seattle streets, if you didn’t know, are a range of surface materials. Some of the streets are black top, a vast number in the city are cement, and there are a lot of bus pads that are cement. A bus pad is where the bus stop has a custom pour of cement laid out since the buses are so heavy. A bus after just a couple of months starts to destroy black top, as it’s very weak, and cement is super expensive. So to save money the bus stop itself – or wherever a bus or heavy vehicle stops frequently – is paved with cement to prevent damage and increase the time between needing to pave the street.

In addition the era in which cement was poured is a determinant on ride quality as is the age of the black top. Suffice it to say we get a wobbly, slightly bumpy ride on the black top that has regular stopping on the surface after about 3 years. The cement however, lasts a good 1 to 5 years os ro before ruts, imbalanced segments of cement, or cracks and holes become commonplace. Let me tell you though, this whole segment along 85th is well past it’s prime and has uneven cement segments, poorly repaired black top interspersed within that, and is just endless shakes, wobbles, and heavy vibrations.

As with most routes in the city, it’s almost unbearable to read, work on a laptop, or otherwise. It’s one of the things I miss the most about Portland’s transit. The road surfaces – and obviously the smooth riding light rail – is the majority of the routes vs. this violent vibrations nonsense. Luckily for me, this doesn’t both unless I’m trying to use a laptop or sip a drink. Otherwise it’s just a wobbly massage of sorts.

Greenwood

I didn’t stay on the bus long. The bus ride along 85th was about ~6 minutes. Eventually we arrived near the Greenwood Towncenter area where 85th and Greenwood cross. Here sit a bunch of shops, food options, a giant Fred Meyer, and other assorted options. Also a great bike shop, which I plan to get to in a later post, it’s a MUST VISIT!

I crossed Greenwood on the south side of the intersection with 85th. Then turned at 85th south on Greenwood, walking down the east side of the street. I wasn’t sure entirely where I’d go to get some morning food and coffee. I didn’t need to go far though. I found Chaco Canyon. It’s titled as an “Organic Cafe” so seemed it’d fit the bill. I like it, but the added information one might need to know is that this is a largely vegan, sometimes vegetarian “Organic Cafe”. Thus, not merely an “Organic Cafe”. Lot’s of tasty grains and kale to your hearts content, ya know, if you like being healthy and all. Nice place with a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy a bite to eat along with a coffee.

Ok, coffee snob time though. This is no 3rd wave, or 2nd wave coffee, it’s something in between. They’ve got an espresso machine which is slightly used, seems a bit ill-maintained, and temperatures weren’t achieved giving the overall roast a funny taste. I know it was funny because the roast is a Stumptown roast I know well, and with it’s preparation it ended up just being a bit off. I added almond milk too, for a theoretical cappuccino, but it ended up just being a latte since the proportions were completely off. I’d recommend the Chaco Canyon for eats, and will likely go back myself, but don’t get your expectations up about a solid cup of 3rd wave espresso. It might even be better to opt for a tea option which looks pretty appealing, along with their home made chai.

I left after eating my bowl and writing up a bit of this blog article. I walked another block up the street and found the Bake Shop. I went in, at first to just look for a moment. But opening the door I was greeted with a wonderful “Hello, welcome in!” and immediately felt like maybe I would find a thing or three to pick up. I perused the bakery display and found an amazingly, wickedly, sweet laced, euphoria inducing, vanilla flavored macron. Ordering that and another cappuccino I sat down. It seemed like I could rightfully expect an actual cappuccino here!

I got both items and wow, that macron was superb. The cappuccino was on point, the roast a little on the bitter side but good, angled more toward the Italian roast. To summarize this stop, I enjoyed the hell out of everything! Yum!

Bus Observations, Weekend Riders, Happy Waving

After that treat I walked back toward the KC Metro 5 bus stop across the street, thinking I had 7 minutes. But the bus was pulling up and I had over a block to converge still. Clealy that bus wouldn’t be caught. I was a little perplexed, rarely are the tracker apps off by that much. I realized my folly however, I’d been looking at the D Line arrival at 85th street way over on 15th! How had I managed to do that, yikes! I corrected it, and found the next 5 was arriving in 12 minutes. Not bad, good headway, so I’d just turn around and walk up Greenwood heading south to the next stop. I turned and off I went.

The air out this day was nice, with a temperature of about 70′ fahrenheit. About 85-90% cloud cover, which is providing an excellent environmental condition to stroll down the street in. Simply put, I’m loving the weather on this day! The sun glare was slightly minimal today too, which is always a nice bonus. Sometimes even with the cloud cover the sun glare is intense.

As we rode onward a few scenarios occurred which always just make the morning bus ride, especially on the weekend, that much better. A little camaraderie among riders if you will! I’d boarded and the 5 rolled onward.

A few minutes into the ride a couple boarded. They walked back to near where I and another individual behind me had taken seats, the 2 seats side by side, but we were both just sitting along, with the row seats empty. This couple, the woman sat down, and the man looked about for a seat to sit upon but instead just stood by his friend. The person, and I, at almost the same time, turBus Observations, Weekend Riders, Happy Wavingned and said, “oh sit here I’ll bounce over to another seat, then you two can sit together”. The other passenger and I looked at each other, then at the couple so they could decide where they’d go and we swapped about and the couple sat together and I sat with this stranger. We said hello, and in normal Seattle freeze etiquette smiled and enjoyed our ride forward.

The beautiful thing about that, is to know that other people are paying attention too. That others also are watching out for each other and it isn’t just me, or just that one person. The beauty of transit during these times of the days is that it’s full of good people going about their lives trying to do right for themselves and right by others. Seattle is wonderful for this and full of these good people. We sometimes miss this because of the stupid news endless giving the anti-social, hateful, and miscreant homeowners (i.e. not all homeowners, just those loud hateful ones) far more voice than they should ever have.

A little further the 5 turns and passes a Cafe Vita. In the window of the cafe a small child waved happily at everybody on the bus. It was the kind of exuberant, curious, and happy smiley with a wave added that the riders on the bus, myself included, all returned a wave – and I suspect a number of smiles – toward the child. The woman sitting with the child noticed and smiled back at everybody as she chuckled at the child’s exuberance.

Languages

Later on we rolled toward the Aurora Bridge and two babushka joined the bus and sat down, speaking Russian. I know of enough Russian word usage now, not enough to know the exact phrasing, but enough to pick up a lot of sentiment in conversations. These two women, dare I say, were happily discussing their families. I have come to realize, that it is very common among Russians, similarly to southern Americans, to get all up in the business of their families and routinely up in the business of their friends. It’s somewhat hilarious and in some ways, for those that are into that lifestyle, a happy thing to see. They continued their conversation.

As we rolled further onward into the city, with just minutes passing. The conversation in Russian continued, a conversation in Spanish began, with a conversation in French starting just a few seats in front of them. I listened enjoying the sing song chaos of cacophony of these conversations. They weren’t being loud, just conversational level, and with my hearing the way it works, it all flows in that crisp precise but chaotic way into my ears.

As we rolled over the Aurora Bridge and onto 99 just north of downtown Seattle, I  I’d gotten my laptop out. I typed away at the keys while the bus had some of those violent Seattle road shakes from the poor cement surface. Seattle routes being the garbage they are. But I worked through it, with frequent use of the backspace and delete keys. At some point while my fingers put words onto the screen I decided I was just going to ride into downtown Seattle to make the transfer to the 40 bus for my trip home.

The 5 entered the city through the new confluence of the Aurora Tunnel and the surface streets above. We exited there, and it was a lovely view to see the construction as those streets were being turned back into a more pedestrian friendly, usable, urban, people focused streets instead of the highway car sewer that it was. We cross Denny, kind of the gateway street to downtown, then cut left onto 3rd Avenue in the Belltown Neighborhood. The driver stops at Pine & Pike eventually.

The next stop is tranquil, especially on a Sunday. There are two women waiting with one man standing about halfway down the block smoking. It’s almost a scene out of a zombie movie besides the few of us waiting. In just a few minutes the northbound 28x arrives. It isn’t my 40 bus, but this one interlines with the 40 bus north and I could easily just transfer further up the route. The timing of the two also makes it easy to do as transferring to the trailing 40 is usually just 1-4 minutes different. On a nice day like today, even missing the trailing bus would be just fine.

I decide to go for the 28x, largely because then I could escape the infrequent yet annoying puffs of cigerette smoke spewing from the guy smoking halfway down the block. Generally I don’t really care that much but if I have a solution to rid myself of the smoking problems, I’m game so let’s do it! Off the 28x zipped, north out of the city the same way the 5 had just come into the city. But as soon as we cross the Aurora Bridge we immediately loop off, around, and down into Fremont. As we turn onto Leary I pull the stop cable and get off the bus.

With that this transit adventure story ends. Until next time, may your transiting be most excellent!