So What’s Your Take on Graffiti? Is it Art? What About Mold?

There’s a very interesting point to be made in this Instagram photo and the comment that goes along with it.

Get That Graffiti! (Click to navigate to the original Instragram Post)

Get That Graffiti! (Click to navigate to the original Instragram Post)

There always seems to be a thin line between graffiti, tagging, art, mural and related things in public. One person’s art is another person’s disgust it always seems. So where does one draw the dividing line between a crap building and a good building, one that is blight and one that is not? In the picture, it’s obvious that the real problem is just as much the mold as the tags that were on the wall. It just makes one think, “what’s ok and what isn’t?” I’m always pondering how we could improve things in Portland.

I’ve always drawn differentiations between graffiti as something that is masterful, tagging as something done in disrespect and is trashy, murals as something the community has done and is similar in many ways to graffiti and art can be almost anything. Albeit there is one place where any types of markings are dangerous and uncalled for. Don’t tag the freight cars, there’s important information there. There’s also murals and other montages that have been put on the sides of trains before. Then there is the dreaded advertisement that ends up on the side of trains and such.

So what are the divides? How would you identify each of these divides? What offends you, bothers you or gives you a smile to wear on your face?

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.

Multnomah Street, Illegal Parking and Street Vandelism – Who to Call?

Alright fellow Portlanders, transit riders, bike riders and pedestrians – and hell, motorists too! Who does one call when people are illegally blocking the lane, illegally parked and blocking the cycle track, have vandalized or destroyed the road and amenities around the road to get these things fixed? Can I just volunteer to fix these things?

On NE Multnomah Street the city installed a cycle track from 15th all the way down to the Rose Quarter. Some of it is indeed just a bike lane, but much of it is a wonderfully relaxing cycle track. Except when motorists screw up and park inside and on top of the cycle track itself. How does this happen? Here’s a photo of a recent issue I encountered when riding that forced myself and Kristen @kristenmozian into the road. Which is fine in many ways, I’ve no problem taking the lane. However I tend to prefer not riding in the road with motorists if I don’t have to.

The cycle track with 6+ cars parked in it. (Click for full size! Also, plz excuse the distortion, a Nissan Pathfinder drove by while I was taking the panoramic shot)

The cycle track with 6+ cars parked in it. (Click for full size! Also, plz excuse the distortion, a Nissan Pathfinder drove by while I was taking the panoramic shot)

If you look to the left side and right side of this photo, you’ll notice not a single automobile is parked in the actual parkings spots. All indicating non-locals confused about what they’re doing. Another confusing matter, is all of the little plastic bollards are stripped from the street. Possibly because people have driven over them or what not. We really need some clearly marked METAL bollards. Ya know, kind of like they use when they actually intend to have real parking and divisions that are clearly marked. Here are some great examples of Bollards that actually count.

Here’s a map of where the obstructions were today. Between #1 and #2 was the roadway where the cars were parked in the cycle track. At #4 was were planters where moved from the yellow area into the cycle-track lane. At #3 was were more bollards have been knocked down or vandalized making them either invisible to motorists and cyclists or almost invisible. Which brings me to the next few points on this corridor.

NE Multnomah Street, with the obstruction and vandalism points. Click for full size image.

NE Multnomah Street, with the obstruction and vandalism points. Click for full size image.

The Planters Are Out of Place!!

This is a problem for motorists and cyclists. The planters on Multnomah along the bike way are also knocked out of place in a few places. The planters act as the primary division between the road and the cycle track. If the city wants people to bike who ordinarily wouldn’t come near a bike lane in the regular road, this isn’t going to help if one of the main cycle tracks in the city is treated as some back water country road. So that leaves me with some questions…

Questions!

  1. How does one get these things fixed?
  2. Is there a hotline?
  3. Is the city actually responsible for these things?
  4. Is there a way to start a drive, donate to or otherwise get these bollards upgraded to the point that they’re actually worth something?
  5. Maybe get a volunteer community group together to monitor and make sure the city stays on top of these problems?

I’m open to getting these things fixed, I’m open to volunteering and donating cash to make it happen. But if they aren’t going to get fixed in a serious and legitimate way (re: see the REAL bollards above) then I’d rather just get some critical mass events going to piss off the status quo. It seems Portland really is starting to need a solid re-awakening of its rebel spirit, because it’s become a place that is assumed to be ahead of the curve, but the city has started to just rest on its laurels.

Not good Portland. Let’s get going and kick some ass and get things back into gear. We’ve got progress to make toward a better future. As it is, we’re dumping crap on the next generation and shortchanging the city!

Reading Portland Transport, The Roman Candle Bakery Came Up…

There’s an article over at Chris Smith’s blog Portland Transport on “Repeating the Sins of Other Modes“. I left a comment since I’m intimately familiar with the area now. I’ll leave it to you to read the article (even you guys that were jack asses and got banned from commenting can at least read it). Here’s my comment however on Division Street and the immediately few blocks where the Roman Candle Bakery Co. is located at.

“Ah, very cool you stopped by there. It’s a great joint. I live barely a block away and am there regularly. The bike racks are routinely consumed by the employees of Roman Candle and the other businesses that are located in that building (there are more than the two you can see from the street). In addition there is minimal parking for bikes near the car-free apartments also, which has street level businesses. Matter of fact, let’s lay this out real quick.

Roman Candle*, Pok Pok, Whiskey Soda, Caffe Pallino, Kuava House, Detour Cafe, Artigiano, Salt & Straw* and other businesses along this street ALL have significant numbers of employees that bike to work. All stats that the city has zero way to measure – pumping up bike commuter numbers even higher than they appear in trending analysis. The #4 brings nobody to work that I’ve observed to any of these businesses. It does however bring customers. The irony is, there is this big complaint about the supposed lack of auto-parking in the area, which may one day exist. Currently though the only REAL shortage of parking is for cyclists along this route. During the course of the day all the parking, corals, bike racks on sidewalk and more are routinely filled up along with all the signs and posts of sorts along the way.

The cycling traffic in this corridor is only posed to explode even more with the Clinton Street bike corridor connecting directly to the bike highway over the new transit/ped/bike bridge.

Anyway, that might shine some insight on this area. It’s heavily, HEAVILY trafficked by bikes.

A few more tidbits.

One thing I noticed about people – that are obviously not Portlanders – is they tend to come in two different ways to the area to eat, drink and be merry. The Vancouverites who can’t seem to put one foot in front of the other come by car. People from New York, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities almost always come by cab. On Friday and Saturday night Pok Pok has an almost unending stream of Taxis bringing 1, 2, 3 and sometimes 4 or 5 people to Pok Pok. The line doesn’t end until late and the businesses across the street also routinely have taxis dropping people off. This is a great thing considering many, if not all partake in good beverages over there. Usually not to the point of “drunkiness” but it sure beats em’ trying to drive to and fro.

Overall, in the near future it appears that two major things will have to happen at some point.

1. Something is going to need to be done with the automobiles on Clinton that use it as a thruway to 39th. They speed and more than a few end up just blowing through the stop signs and pass dangerously, ESPECIALLY during rush hour when Clinton Street is packed with an unending stream of cyclists going by. I do mean unending too. Often spaced side by side or one after another, sometimes packed together. But from about 4-6pm the road should be primarily cyclists, the motorists pose a dangerous risk and are not following the intended corridor of Division.

2. Transit service is going to need bumped up as well as bicycle amenities along this corridor. If the apartments that are car-free are truly going to attract people without cars (which there is reasonable estimation that a number of people there will actually be car-free) they’ll really need to have some bus service, and right now the #4 is not particularly frequent nor is it reliable. Maybe that’ll change one day but right now… damn it’s frustrating when there is commonly a gap between buses that exceeds 30 minutes when they’re supposed to be *frequent*.”

So go leave a comment over there or leave one here, whatever the case. What would your solutions be to the pending carpocalypse of parkingocalypse in the Division street area? I’m real curious what you think of the pending issues with the Clinton Street bike boulevard corridor. A street which is by all means paid for with general budget funds with not a penny to be seen from the gas tax. Do bikes, the most numerous and efficient users of the street get a little protection or do the corridor runners get precedence still? Sharing is all grand (not really for many) but when you’re routinely threatened because the cars can’t “get around” ya through the small road and they start playing chicken with the oncoming traffic, things are about to get super sketch.

A West Side Re-Exploration of Orenco Station & Neighborhood

Paul Peterson @emptefilms & I @transitsleuth went out to Hillsboro to check out how Orenco Neighborhood (town?) has developed. You can read more about Orenco Station via the Wikipedia Page. As described on the wiki page, “is a neighborhood of the city of Hillsboro, Oregon, United States. The planned urban town center was designed as a pedestrian-friendly, high-density community built in conjunction with TriMet’s Westside light rail. It was built on land formerly owned by the Oregon Nursery Company, land home around the turn of the 20th century to Orenco, a company town. During the Great Depression, the company went out of business, and much of the nursery land became vacant until re-development began in 1997. Orenco Station is near the intersection of NW 231st/NW 229th Avenues and Cornell Road, centered on the Orenco Station MAX stop.

There’s also a basic web presence at http://www.orencostation.net/ that provides some current commercial information about the neighborhood.

The stop that anchors the entire neighborhood is simply named the Orenco / Northwest 231st Avenue Stop. The station has a park-and-ride lot with 180 free parking spaces (for 24 hours at a time) and bus connection to line 47-Baseline/Evergreen. The station also includes bike lockers and bike racks. A block north is the site of the Hillsboro Farmer’s Market’s seasonal Sunday marketplace and the core of the Orenco Neighborhood.

Keep reading and subscribe to the blog (RSS) or the video channel, an upcoming episode of Transit Sleuth TV will have more about Orenco and the development there.

I Was Asked, “What do you do to fight…?”

What do I do to fight to improve our lives, our communities our city and our society? That was the question, paraphrased. My response,

“I don’t drive, don’t consume any oil products directly and try to minimize air travel and use rail or other means for longer distance trips when possible. Minimizing oil usage is difficult in these times since it has been pushed into the cornerstone of so many daily products: from diapers to the automobile.

I also make a point to support local co-ops that provide freshly grown food within 50-100 miles of where I live. I cook, sometimes eat out and eat foods that aren’t genetically modified. I’m actively involved in groups working to stop lawsuits to eliminate organic foods (Monsanto has tried in numerous states to sue any farmers that don’t use Monsanto’s genetically modified seed). I will work with and help anybody else as I can to stop these types of lawsuits, these absurd notions of “patenting life“, etc.

I stay in reasonable physical condition merely by living healthy, eating well and staying active. I cycle, I walk and generally I live actively. It goes a long way in making a happy life.

I work diligently to promote better lifestyles than the consumption based, debt oriented, auto dependent fiat currency based modes that are currently – for now – prominent in the United States.

I work in community groups to support children being able to ride their bikes to school, to ensure that neighborhoods are built reasonable with walkability – i.e. human beings in mind – so that no matter the limitations at least 99% of the populace can get to a grocery store, to a school, to a nearby park safely without the necessity of a car or other transportation requirement.

I work with economic development groups to align job location (albeit sometimes companies just don’t give a flying hoot) a reasonable distance from where the workforce is. It’s insane to think anybody travels more than 5-10 miles to work. Nobody should have to travel more than 1-3 miles to work. In the coming years, it will become economically, environmentally and emotionally unreasonable to do such things. In addition, if we keep transforming the way we live utilizing what we’ve learned from history – and trying new techniques to live, locate, get to work and other such ideas people in general won’t find it acceptable to travel such egregious distances to work anyway. (Imagine gas at $15 bucks a gallon, reflecting a more realistic unsubsidized cost of exploration, losses, costs, etc, then tack onto that the cost of roadways actually being reflected in tolls and other taxes to maintain them, we leap from a few pennies a mile of direct taxation to about a buck a mile of costs/taxation, etc). Meanwhile transit, biking and walking are all exponentially cheaper, easier to manage and more resilient to these high costs – especially for the general population.

I also produce and attempt to write on a regular basis an effective way to live without all the incredulous waste and servitude of a debt based, auto dependent lifestyle (sometimes here, sometimes elsewhere). In addition to writing I also work with videographers to put together other material that shows how easy it is to live well, without making huge changes. Just by merely thinking through the day better and stepping away from the “regular” lifestyle.

I petition and advocate at Government (because I won’t work for them), I work with companies, especially companies that give a hoot (and there ARE a LOT of them), I work with individuals and I work with my local community neighborhood groups & others to do the above things.

Simply, I try to right the wrongs, educate and improve what we as a society are doing today. All while trying to repair the damage that is already done. I do so through no use of force, only through passion and education. So maybe, if it isn’t my children, somebody’s children can have a better life. Because the immediate next generation (and the millennials) have been handed a lump of coal.

…so that’s what I mean by fighting.”

This all got me thinking. Maybe I should update my manifesto a bit. Thus, an updated Manifesto.

This thinking also got me wondering, what other things could I do? What do you do? How do you squelch the apathy and improve things in your community?

Cheers, Transit Sleuth.

Keeping Things in Context, “PBOT, Police stepping up enforcement of traffic laws”

Light Rail MAX

Light Rail MAX

From some city stats that get a call out on Bike Portland in ‘PBOT, Police stepping up enforcement of traffic laws” ‘.

  • To date in 2013 there have been 23 fatal traffic crashes in the City of Portland. There were 31 in all of 2012.
  • At this time last year, there had been 17 fatal traffic crashes.
  • Breakdown of 2013 fatalities: 14-motor vehicle; 3-motorcycle; 6-pedestrian; 0-Bicyclists
  • 12 of the 23 fatalities have involved impaired drivers with BAC’s ranging from .15 – .25%
  • Of the 6 pedestrian fatalities, motor vehicle drivers have been at fault in 4 of them
  • There were 4 traffic fatalities in 6 days from July 5 to 11. Two involved speeding and impaired drivers.
  • Driver/pedestrian distraction or inattention: 4 of the 6 pedestrian fatalities could have been avoided if the pedestrian and/or driver were focused on their actions
Streetcar Plying the Streets at Night

Streetcar Plying the Streets at Night

Just think about those stats for a minute. Draw some connections and think about what you’re doing. Riding a bike, driving a car or walking. Remember you need to keep an eye out as a motorist for everything since you wield an instrument of death. The data shows already that drivers have killed 6 pedestrians, technically 4 of them were involuntary manslaughter! 2 were inattention on behalf of the pedestrian, still however, they were killed by drivers.

There has been 17 fatal motorist on motorist crashes. This is a horrible number considering 2012 only had 31 for the entire year and we’re technically driving less than we have in years in the United States. Of those, 3 of them were motorcycle riders being killed, I’ve checked – it was again the standard situation. Motorcyclists, unfortunately have the same issue as cyclists do, except dramatically higher speed which doesn’t help mitigate issues being how poorly trained most US drivers are.

Cyclists killed nobody. I don’t think a soul has been killed by a bus, MAX, streetcar or train so far this year in Portland. So far we’re doing good in that category. The only killers out there, are again just the drivers.

So keep an eye out everybody. Statistically, watch out for the cars. Drivers, watch out for the cars. Pedestrians watch out for the cars. Cyclists… watch out for the cars. Basically, watch out for the cars and we should see a drop in fatalities.

In other news, it’s beerfest time, so I’m going to just on the Trimet #4 and hit up some beer and fun downtown. Cheers, and watch out!