Cycling, Transit and Sleuthing News and Updates

A few things going on with the sleuth activity as of late.  First and foremost I’ve setup a schedule I’ll be aiming for with Transit Sleuth TV. The idea will be to publish an episode every 3 weeks on Monday morning at 7:30am. This frequency is starting as of today, Monday the 7th. So the next episode I hope to publish on the 28th, parts are coming together already. For the latest episode, check out “To Orenco, Mobile Ticketing, Powell’s and Introducing Jonathan Scheff!“. Episode 1 is out too, check it out “Transit Meet n’ How to Carry Wine & Gelato“.

In upcoming episodes I’ll be covering PARK(ing) Day from a few weeks back, commentary included. I had a great ride out and met a number of excellent individuals; Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman, Hart Noecker and many others, Cheers & great job on the event!  Interviews with more Portlanders and their ways of getting around; jumping the bus, rolling with the MAX, or how to know a bike boulevard from a bike lane while pedaling along at pace. I’ll also continue the frequent coverage of trip tips & tricks. The aim is to answer the questions like, “how do I get my beer, unbroken, from store to recliner for the big game?” or “how do I carry 40 lbs of groceries home without busting the eggs” and one of my all time favorites, “where are the best” If there is something you’d like to see, leave a comment or ping me directly I’m totally open to new segments, stunts or other bits.

Transit & Biking Round Up

I’ve been reading blogs in the Portland area for a while now, specifically around transit and bicycling. Here’s a collection of the top sites and blogs with some additional sites I’ve researched and collected together. This is similar, and maybe I can light off some similar posts by others in the city that outline other sites they use for their day to day transit, cycling and related lifestyle matters.

If you know of any other blogs, websites or others out there that provide event information, helpful tips or other information please post a comment and I’ll get a page put together that is dedicated on Portland resources for this.

Portland’s Milwaukee Light Rail Project – Under Construction, Opening in September 2015

First let’s kick this blog entry off with a few pieces of context, such as:

  • What is the Portland Milwaukee Light Rail Line?
  • Where exactly does it go?
  • How much does it cost and what does that cost actually include?


“Opening in 2015, the Portland-Milwaukie light rail transit line will travel 7.3 miles between PSU, inner Southeast Portland, Milwaukie and Oak Grove in north Clackamas County.”

The best place to get information about the Portland Milwaukee Light Rail is to check out the project site. I have a few additional thoughts, pieces of information and other such things here in the post however.

Here’s a quick video intro of what the project is, what it connects and a little more information. It’s a short view.

The other key video to watch, which really gets down into where the line runs in detail and also covers the other things that will be built along with the light rail line.

The total cost of the Portland Milwaukee Light Rail (PMLR) Project is $1,490.35 Million[0]. In a follow up entry I’m going to bring up what exactly we’re getting for this huge chunk of cash. I’ll also do a break out of a few of the light rail stops and what those light rail stops mean to the neighborhoods they’ll serve.

After watching this project progress over the years it still leaves me with a number of questions. Many of these will be answered in due time, but it doesn’t stop me from being extremely curious.

  1. What buses will use the bridge instead of routes like the Ross Island Bridge?
  2. When the buses come across the bridge where do they get on or off on the west side? Will they continue on the new light rail part of the infrastructure on their way to the bus mall?  Will they turn off onto other surface streets in the area and travel in and out of south waterfront that way?
  3. Where’s the best house buying options in the area? Which area will increase in value the quickest? Which values may decrease?

More to come in the near future… cheers, Transit Sleuth.

[0] Portland-Milwaukee Light Rail Project Preliminary Engineering Report. Located at FTA: and local store: Portland Milwaukee Light Rail

Vancouver Translink

A few shots from my recent trip to Vancouver.

Skytrain Station. One inbound, one outbound, and one in queue. Click for full size image.

Skytrain Station. One inbound, one outbound, and one in queue. Click for full size image.

A lone cyclist along the viaduct.

A lone cyclist. Click for full size image.

A lone cyclist. Click for full size image.

After the Pacific Surfliner – Adventures in Los Angeles via Metro Gold Line

A short summary…

After a trip to Santa Barbara for a business meeting I headed back to Los Angeles on the 1:50pm departure of the Pacific Surfliner from Goleta, California. While waiting the Coast Starlight tore by at 79mph, which was pretty cool.

After the trip back to Los Angeles, upon arriving at Los Angeles Union Station I started walking from there to my hotel I’m staying at. However at the cross roads of 1st & Alameda I decided to cross back to the Metro Gold Line Little Tokyo Arts District Station and ride north to Pasadena. I traversed the ramp and swiped my transit Tap Card.

Once upon the Gold Line I actually went the wrong way first, but simply took a walk around and then boarded the next train going the right direction. Here’s a montage video of the trip to Pasadena.

…that’s it for now.

The Bridge Rises Above the Willamette

It’s looking good. Real good.

The new bridge going up.

The new bridge going up.

Whatever your view is on the politics of it, go check it out anyway because it is an impressive piece of architecture!


The Ongoing CRC Cluster Failure

So I was reading through some articles and somehow I’ve missed this one. It appears the politicians haven’t paid any attention to the state treasurer. The House & Senate didn’t say a thing to the state treasurer who testified that many problems still exist. To quote Wheeler,

“The project costs haven’t been nailed down,” Wheeler said. “There are a lot of question marks, including whether the federal funds will materialize. We’re concerned about the governance model if the tolls don’t pan out. The Coast Guard hasn’t signed off on the height yet, so we don’t know what revisions will be necessary.”

When asked if he’s given a seal of approval to the bridge,

“No, we have not.”

So it really makes me wonder what nonsense the pro-CRC crowd keeps chirping on about. They must seriously be well funded to have pro-CRC people shilling out on a Facebook Page and other presence points on the Internet (when obviously the PEOPLE of the area don’t want the thing).

To throw in another quote about the legislature, they seem to be aiming for union & business support, they’re obviously not asking the citizenry (who until recently has found it odd that this thing was still alive as a project).

“The Oregon Treasury deals in investment-grade analysis, the Legislature in superficial votes that curry favor with unions and the project’s supporters in the business community.”

Then in regards to the Governor. It just keeps becoming an even larger political boondoggle.

“The governor? He’s in bed with the wrong crowd.”

Then later on, a real summary quote,

“Let’s be glad the Legislature, so easily cowed or bought off, has moved on, clearing the way for a more aggressive review in Washington state and more thorough analysis by the Oregon Treasury.”

“When it comes to doing our job,” Wheeler said, “so that if we issue bonds, we have certainty that the bondholders will be paid back and the taxpayers won’t be at risk, that requires a deeper analysis than what the legislative process prescribes.”

So I guess Wheeler is looking out for the state. The political leaders recently elected to the legislature in Oregon sure as hell aren’t paying attention to those they represent.

Portland’s Light Rail Advocates

There are a number of people types when it comes to light rail in Portland. I’ve set out to put together a view of those types. First off, I’ll describe the two types I find myself fitting into.

Backbone Advocates” – Ideal: Light Rail is a great arterial back bone for a transit system.

These advocates see light rail as a great core service provider for moderate to heavy use lines. They’re often likely to want light rail (LRT) over bus rapid transit (BRT) in almost every scenario. The key reason, is because growth can congregate around light rail far better than almost every other bus option. A backbone advocate is also dramatically less likely to use a bus over or in lieu of light rail.

Cycling Transit Advocates” – Ideal: Light Rail are useful, buses are a pain, I’d rather just bike.

Ok, this category I fall into a lot. Buses are effectively useless and dangerous to cyclists. More so than the tracks in the street. Buses have been the vehicles that have killed almost a dozen of cyclists over the last decade. Many of them children, 5-12 years old. Beyond that, the bus carries two cycles at the most. None of the bus drivers barely know a thing about placing cycles on board. So effectively a bus carries 2 cycles, light rail – a one car train – can carry 4 on racks, and almost a total of 4-6 in between the entrances in the open area for a grand total of 8-10 per car. Most light rail runs with 2 cars, giving a total of 16-20 bikes per train. Buses can’t even remotely touch this. The last fact is simple – streetcars and light rail don’t merge onto you when you’re biking. That makes the rail based streetcar or light rail option the only real transit option for cyclists.

Derp Advocates” – Ideal: Light rail is nifty, I like the way it looks.

These advocates love light rail. They’re not sure they know why they like light rail, but they like it. They like how it feels and they feel X, Y or Z about it but usually can’t back up any of those reasons. These are the people that vote for light rail, and want it because it’s green or it looks pretty or some other non-functional, not really true reason to want light rail, but they love it anyway. These advocates are useful for their votes for light rail, but politically they’re as detrimental to light rail as any other thing someone may advocate for. Basically these advocates are the urbanized version of a dumb red neck that thinks the highways are part of the free-market.

Numbers Advocate” – Ideal: I can statistically prove why light rail is the superior option.

These advocates don’t care about passion or how one feels about something, they’re here to prove everybody else wrong and those that oppose light rail just can’t do simple math. They’re often harsh and introverted to the extreme. These advocates are huge political help when light rail comes up against the “it’s too expensive” or “it doesn’t carry enough people” or whatever other nonsense someone comes up with. These advocates are the ones who do analysis on every single thing they can find. Very useful for bringing up the argument of what light rail really does for a city, but not someone to advocate in front of the camera.

Car Hater Advocate” – Ideal: It aint a car, build it. End of story.

This advocate is simple. Sometimes a cyclist, sometimes a curmudgeon, or whatever they may be they are against anything car related. They often have a host of reasons, all very legitimate, but something society just can’t face no matter how true they are. This advocate doesn’t care how expensive a line gets, doesn’t care if it messes up existing traffic, and only cares about getting the line built. These advocates are politically damaging but often bring with them a number of other staunch advocates in the above categories.

Common (Wo)Man Advocates” – Ideal: I’ve analyzed what data I could find, looked at the benefits and negatives and this seems like a great option.

These advocates are the most important, politically and for ridership reasons. They are the people who will be the core ridership of the line and also will make a line politically feasible or not by discussing and carrying on conversation to build political momentum for a line. They may come to community meetings, they may not, but they’ll be talking about light rail at coffee shops, in the office, over the water cooler and anywhere else the topic comes up. They’ll talk about the pros and cons of the line and say they lean toward building light rail and riding light rail.

I Hate Traffic Light Rail Advocate” – Ideal: If they build other stuff for other people to ride on then I won’t have to deal with as much traffic when I drive.

This is the hypocrite, yet very important ally in the battle to get light rail transit systems built. These advocates, albeit horribly misguided in their notions of what does or doesn’t create traffic, are key in winning votes to get light rail built. Even with the facts around human behavior and induced demand, these advocates have some odd idea that transit will resolve the idiocy and failure of auto dependent roadways.


So this is kind of the bullet list of light rail advocates. Are there others? What’s your take? In a subsequent entry I’ll post the light rail haters list. It’ll follow the same basic premise. If you have any suggestions for those, let me know your feedback on that too, it’d be much appreciated!  😉