Wednesdays Videos & Photos

Here’s a few video passes from Wednesday. As yesterday’s, this one has a few blank seconds between each clip.

Here’s a few photos from the day.

Ballard, Sound Transit Sounder, and Recovery Day

Monday was a whirlwind of an adventure. Tuesday then needed to be a recovery day. I’d planned to start out and pick up the other bike (Pop Rocket I rode to Kent, this was Blue that needs picked up). But I didn’t even get around to that. It really did turn into a mostly chill day of relaxation.

A little bit of logistical fun playing the game Transport Fever. But then later in the day I did get down to some of the tracks where the Sound Transit Sounder route comes through Ballard. Here’s a few shots of the 5:35pm departure from Seattle heading to Edmonds on its way to Everett.

Here’s some of the video. There are three segments, so hold on when the screen goes black for a few seconds in between.

That’s it for the moment. Off to more explorations today.

Cap n’ Hominy, Bike, LINK, NOLA Bowl, Walkin’, Biking, Green River Trail, Interurban Trail, Sound Transit Sounder

I wrote this absurdly title, but really it’s just a Monday like any other where I don’t have any predefined thing I’m supposed to go do. So the day went like this.

Today started off with a good breakfast. Cajun egg, hominy, and a cappuccino. It’s good to know how to cook the things one likes, otherwise, the food would be boring. The egg and hominy I had some Cajun seasoning, mixed in with some butter, and a touch of salt and pepper. This combination just creates an egg with expansive explosive taste. Not that it’s hot and spicy, just a flavorful combination for something that generally tastes like bland air paste.

Once I wrapped up breakfast I jumped on my pop tart bike and headed to my office maker space. There I tidied up my backpack to just the items I’d want for today’s adventure. With laptop, camera, and related items all packed I rolled down Ballard Avenue and on toward the Burke Gilman Trail.

The weather out today is about as perfect as it gets for cycling. It’s slightly cool out and the sky is clear with the sun at an angle that doesn’t leave one burnt. The air has that crispness to that just makes it easier to breath, keeping the muscles fueled appropriately. I had my water canister with me, as this time with this amazing weather I wasn’t going to let myself get dehydrated and end up feeling lousy the next day! After all, tomorrow I’m planning for another transit and bike combo adventure!

Brunch and The Hills!

I rolled onward toward the University District LINK Light Rail Station. My plan was to bike over this direction, which takes approximately 25 to 30 minutes and then board the LINK, which depending on waiting time of less than ~10 minutes will get me to Capital Hill with a mere 6 minute ride. Thus, maximum trip with wait would be 16 minutes and minimum would be about 7.

I boarded the elevator into the bowels of the station, and exited to board the train on the eastern side of the platform. I racked the bike in the appropriate place and sat down to wait for departure. In just 3 minutes we left, which meant my trip and wait time would make it 9 minutes. With my combined ride, which I now knew the travel time of 28 minutes and 45 seconds, I was looking at total trip from Ballard to Capital Hill of about ~37 minutes. Not that bad considering I wasn’t really trying nor taking the fatest route, just the most convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable route.

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My Strava Capture of the ride to University District to catch the LINK

The Lost Lake of Capital Hill

Once I arrived at Capital Hill I exited the LINK station and rode down along 11th toward 10th between Pine & Pike. You see, there’s a lost lake there. Ok, it isn’t really a lost lake, it’s a nifty open 24 hours a day joint that has this kitschy feel to it like a mix between a diner, rustic lodge, and a lounge on the flip side of the space. Brunch and good conversation was had with my friend I’d planned to meet there. Once we were done eating at this lost lake, we opted to take a walk considering that absolutely stellar weather outside.

An aside: Before I go on, I made a mental note and am going to put this in my calendars for the rest of my life. Remember, diligently remember not to schedule any travel whatsoever during the months of October, November, and December, unless of course it is to the northern lands of Europe into Scandinavia or the Netherlands. Those are the only two places that get a pass from me. Otherwise it isn’t worth leaving Cascadia to visit other places as this is the premier perfect weather time of year. At least, in my personal preferences of weather. Slightly cold and growing colder is my perfect cup of tea.

Alright, back to the adventures that laid before me. Upon deciding to walk through Seattle a bit, specifically Capital Hill, First Hill, and on toward Yesler Terrace on down into Chinatown. Well, maybe it isn’t chinatown now and instead it’s International District, considering how few Chinese people actually live there it actually makes more sense. It isn’t just a politically correct rename, but actually a more factual identifier to those that live in this part of the city.

Here’s a few pictures from the walk, as we strolled through Seattle University.

At some point, it was time to start riding. I headed south out of the city. I rode along 6th down onto the trail that runs beside the LINK route out of the city. It’s a nice trail, albeit it ends abruptly with nowhere to really travel once one gets further into the heart of SODO. There I scouted for and rode along a few disappearing sidewalks. This area of Seattle, simply put, it no place for pedestrians or anybody that isn’t basically in some type of motor vehicle. It’s a pretty wretched area. One could argue, “oh but it’s an industrial area!” But that’s just nonsense, just because trucks drive around doesn’t make it a necessity to make it so inhospitable to human activity. People still need to eat, there’s still places to eat, and there’s even some park space and parkway space in the area. So the idea that it’s dirty because it’s an industrial area is just kind of stupid.

I continued onward into a region with no sidewalks, no clearly marked or clearly safe areas to ride. I just followed the premise that if the route was minimal or no traffic, I was going to travel along that route. At some point, and I’m not really sure what area delineated where SODO ends and Georgetown starts, but I passed over a bridge which smelled like human waste and then I was clearly in Georgetown. From there I crossed the oddball intersection that leads into the area, went along the main street of the breweries, breakfast joints, and coffee shops, and onward down the wrong road.

I had to backtrack, as I wanted to be on the road that divided the Boeing Airfield from Georgetown. Found it, and traveled along there until I found a bike rack in from of Brothers Sisters and locked up. Here I got a few pictures of planes and other transit moving through the area. Namely, I saw a whole slew of King County Metro Route 60 buses plying along as if a herd of buses.

Beware, Rant Arrivin’ Soon

After Georgetown I traveled along that absolutely shitty road, debris and all, that runs parallel to the Boeing Field airport. This road is honestly an insult to anything remotely humane. It’s just a sewer of cars, a trash pit of poor design, and turn outs that threaten the lives of anyone that has to work along the route. It is simply a trash fire pit of shit. I hated this one part of the trip with the hate of a thousand suns. Seattle, Boeing, clean this trash pit you call a road up. It’s a goddamn disgrace to the city! I mean, this is a road that visitors to our fair city travel down to see the high tech, futuristic development of aircraft from Boeing and related entities. As they travel to arrive at this awesome museum, they have to travel through the travesty that is SODO, and worse, that is this wretched road.

Alright, I digress. Obviously Seattle will get to it when Seattle gets to it. Ugh. Here check out some photos of planes and buses I got while I was on the edge of Georgetown near the airfield!

I turned on 16th, traveled through a cute little commercial neighborhood strip of South Park. Then along another entirely unsafe road leaving that little commercial area. Finally, after riding through this unsafe and disgusting area that is and ought to be considered blighted and an insult to all people of this city, I arrived at the Green River Trail.

Green River Trail

The Green River Trail basically interlines along with the Duwamish River. It starts at the area where the Duwamish River is allowed it’s natural flow instead of the straightened stretch that exist into the Puget Sound. The area is beautiful, and the winding nature of the river has a calming effect to it all. It’s not really traveled much during the day, so as I rode along I saw very few people actually on the trail.

What The Ever Living Hell ya Negligent Motorist!

As I approached the segment of the Green River Trail that I would exit and then merge onto the Interurban Trail I rode upon this car wreck. I could see clearly what had happened, the driver, who I assume inattentively came barreling off of I-405 to the off ramp area, missed things, side swiped a van, and hit the separator that sent the vehicle with such force airborne, over the fence and into the blackberry bushes. Honestly, this type of wreck shouldn’t just be a ding on the insurance, but the driver should have to serve some type of “I’m a negligent asshole who can’t act appropriately when utilizing a 2-ton (or more) death cage.” I mean, seriously, the motorist got the vehicle over the fence and trail into the bushes. The motorist could have easily, as so many motorists do more than 35,000 times a year, killed somebody through this negligent inability to maintain their vehicle!

Interurban Trail (South)

At this time I cut under the I-405 on the trail that diverges and sends one to the Tukwila Train Station. I was pondering catching the Sounder there if it were coming soon, but since I had plenty of time between now and when the next Sounder Train arrived I could easily make it to Kent. At least, I assumed I could. So off I went down the Interurban Trail.

The Interurban Trail is basically a trail, broken into the north and south segments, built on the old interurban line that used to run north and south out of Seattle to Tacoma in the south and Everett in the north. It’s always such a shame to think about the hugely beneficial connectivity we’d have if the respective leadership at the time hadn’t tore up the line. It was basically straight, could easily have run 79mph FRA commuter rail into and out of the city in a vastly superior alignment than today’s Sounder configuration.

But, poor myopic leadership is gonna be poor myopic leadership. Grumble.

But again, I must digress, the trail that now has replaced much of the Interurban line is gorgeous, so at least we get some amazing use out of it in that regard. It’s absolutely superb for biking. On that note I trekked down from Tukwila Station all the way to Kent. Along the way there are numerous Union Pacific rail stubs that are still used today to collect various businesses cargo. It’s something that is pretty interesting to see from the sleuth’s perspective.

Finally I arrived in Kent and swung into Johnny Rockets for a burger and shake. After a ride like that it was supremely tasty.

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Kent… sort of. But WTF is Kent?

Here you can see in the photo above where Johnny Rockets is compared to the Kent Station Parking, BECJ Credit Union, more parking, some more parking, some other… oh gawd the disgusting myopia of suburban design with a wannabe town center mall thingy in the center.

Whatever I’ll move on. The train station is over there in the upper right here in the map 3d photo. It’s cool that the train station also has a pedestrian overpass from the station over to the… oh, the damned parking lot.

This is another example of extremely shameful design on so many levels. 50’s era myopia and the perverse irony is I go eat at the retro 50’s era burger joint. The more I look at the photo the more I’m sicked by the absurdity of Kent’s layout and design and I’m not even sure why they have a Sounder station when the area is clearly anti-pedestrian, anti-active transportation, and just about as auto-focused as one could get without pulling a sidewalk-less 50s’ era suburb out of the actual 50’s.

As I sat there and ate I looked into Kent’s history and related things more. The first thing I did was pull up a map that explained a lot of things about how Kent is laid out. Look at this city border.

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A generally unmanageable, non-urban, tax sucking sprawl zone. What is it with those squares of Kent over there acting like islands even? What. the. … wow. Just wow, so much bad about this.

Alright, whew, I had to stop looking into Kent’s history and layout. Kent’s basically a living example of why city Government is burning this country to the ground right now in myopic, dystopian suburbanite hell while the feds are burning it up from every other direction. But enough of all those happy thoughts, onward to the trip home. I got some nice shots of the Sounder, coming south bound and north bound.

In the photos above, if you look closely you’ll notice that it’s actually two different train sets. On the departure of both it becomes obvious, as one set as the cab car without the facade of a crew cab that looks like an engine front. The other has the standard cab car that looks just like a regular passenger car.

After the two trains, which were train bunched (using the bus bunch term there for trains, generally I suppose the train is just “delayed”). The first of the two had a medical emergency, which I believed equated to someone getting sick and puking, so they got off at Tukwila after a quick clean up. Only about 16 minutes late – err, I mean delayed – whatever the wording is. So after that train, and the next just a mere 3 or 4 minutes later arrived and departed the north bound train, now delayed about 2 minutes, pulled into the station here. It was operating in push mode, which means the engine is pushing it from the rear.

I boarded and off we went. That’s when I started this somewhat long blog entry about the day. After a pleasantly uneventful ride of about ~30 minutes we pulled into King Street Station and I grabbed my bike and headed for the stop where I’d catch either the 40, or if I was timing it good enough, one of the 17x or 18x express buses. As I arrived at the bus stop, an 18x pulled up and I didn’t even have to stand and wait any. I just walked right up, after confirming with the driver of course, and mounted my bike. Jumped aboard, paid, and got one of the ideal front facing seats on the bus.

With the express it’s about a ~28 minute ride to downtown Ballard. Which is where I was heading. We left, and the trip went seamlessly along the bus dedicated lanes, and then off off 15th and under the bridge onto Leary. Minutes later I arrived in Ballard and wrapped up this adventure. It was a good trip overall, learned a few dozen things about Kent, didn’t get killed by a negligently errant motorist, enjoyed a lot of fresh air and a bit of exercise to boot. All that and the burger, train ride, and related items where a pleasant icing on the cake!

Until next trip, happy transiting!

A Video in Video Trip to Golden Gardens

After moving to Ballard the first time in 2017, I decided I would take a ride down to Golden Gardens Park and use a couple of my GoPro Cameras to capture the ride. Here’s the video in video shot put together with some music.

If you’re curious, I mention the three GoPros, but I’ll elaborate on a few of the other tools I used post-ride. The editing software I used is Screenflow 7, however I’ll admit some future videos plus additional segments I’ll be putting together with Adobe Premier Pro in addition to Screenflow 7. All of this done on the latest MacOS running on one of the latest Mac Book Pro Laptops. If you’ve got any suggestions, questions, or otherwise, let me know in the comments and I’ll answer ASAP. Cheers, and happy trips!

Hop Fastpass, Getting to the Party

Even though Trimet is seriously late to the party (by almost a decade or more in some ways) with the Hop Fastness, let’s talk about why this is actually a good thing for the area. First, the issues with this form of payment.

Almost every major city in on the west coast has had a card payment system of this type for years now. They however didn’t just magically turn their payment systems on and install things to swipe them on and have them work. Oh no, there are long and storied tales of corruption, delay, and massive failure before they all became successful.

Here’s a few things to read up on ORCA, that’ll give you the lowdown on the many issues the Seattle area transit services fought through.

…and for some serious stories, a little searching and you’ll find a whole host of catastrophe associated with Clipper Card implementation in the Seattle area.

Even Yelp has threads on the matter of Clipper Cards!!!

Here’s the Wikipedia article on Clipper Card.

Los Angeles also has a card, but that’s enough of that. You get the idea, simply put there has been massive issues implementing and getting these interagency cards enabled. Fortunately they’ve done all the research and fought the battles. So hopefully when the Hop Fastpass is put into service Trimet will have a well oiled service offering come online. If Trimet does run into a few minor bumps, just keep in mind the colossal issues the other agencies on the west coast have had!

When I read the recent post on the Trimet Blog I do get excited about the simplified approach to paying fare. In all seriousness, this is the ideal way to handle payments. The card just keeps a certain amount on it, there’s a daily limit, and it just automatically rings up some more funds if it runs low. That way you don’t have to ever fiddle with transfers, reloading cards, fiddling with a phone that has a dying battery, or carrying around a paper ticket that expires! This can really save everybody a ton of time.

There are many other things that this card will enable, and I am looking forward to it. May my sleuthing become even easier and everybody‚Äôs fare paying become seamless! ūüėČ

Portland Transportation Political Contemplations

I’m sitting in San Francisco right now. Thankful that Portland doesn’t have these political problems or transportation nightmares to deal with. However we have other things that are just as important and dear to our Portland hearts as any of San Francisco’s great political issues.

Warning: There is a free use of language and there are sections that quote data, which may ruffle your features and the safe place you feel you may be in society. I do not apologize at all for that, get over yourself instead. Cheers!

Biking

Biking in Portland has run into a number of issues. From losing its mojo, to losing our bike capital status (or just the sign), to things just generally going wrong. For me, I feel like enough Portlanders have travelled and seen real bicycle cities, and as the news and stories of these great worldly cities comes back it makes any US city look like a transportation catastrophe. It only takes a trip to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, even Krakow (Pt 1, Pt 2), or one of hundreds of European cities to see a system that truly works in comparison to any of the cluster-fucks we call cities in America. San Francisco is a joke, New York putters along, Boston is piddly, and even great Portland seems like biking is merely an afterthought. Everything is focused on the mighty automobile everywhere, fuck anybody and everybody else the moment they step from their iron cage of plastic comfort.

However, amidst and in spite of all this, biking in Portland is still basically as good as it gets in the United States for any major city (there is still Davis, but that’s another story for another time). Seattle is¬†quickly closing the gap, San Francisco – if its mayor would get a spine – would and could likely close the gap, and other places like New York City and even relatively unknown¬†cities like Indianapolis are also closing the gap. Simply put, making bicycling a distant second class citizen to the automobile is hot in America. That’s what I want to talk about here, about Portland, and about making it a truly first class mode in America. How do we do this?

First step isn’t to make driving harder, the first step is to make cycling easy for the 8-90 audience. Grandma that just rocked her 90th birthday should be perfectly safe biking, and¬†not just be safe but feel safe. The same goes for a mother or father letting their 8 year old child go barreling down the street on a bike. Right now, we aren’t even close yet on the “feel” part. Sure, statistically the city of Portland is one of the safest places in America to cycle. It is after all safer to cycle than it is to be in that iron and plastic cage called an automobile. (In turn, note for idiots claiming it’s dangerous to bike a child to school, it is in fact MORE dangerous to drive a child to school in an automobile, matter of fact you endanger your own child AND others even more – so parents don’t even get on that bullshit high horse – those bikey parents are kicking your ass on responsibility and such. If anything ALL parents should give those parents driving their children around a stern eyeing for selling us all short and doing us all a disfavor while endangering everyone, but I digress… another topic for another day)

To make biking this safe, there needs to be real cycle-tracks and protected bike routes (NOT paint PBOT, come on, this is NOT fooling anybody into feeling safe, the uptick is barely a 10% difference on the numbers (just bike commuters), we need a 10% uptick on ALL the numbers (i.e. all commuters)). When I talk about cycle-tracks and bike routes I mean things like this.

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Bike lane, seperated from the road, and the bus doesn’t merge onto the cyclists… note it is boarding passengers at this moment.

There is no need for the bus & cyclists conflict that Trimet forces on us all. It forces us to play the leapfrog nonsense all over the place, when in reality the city and Trimet should work toward better bus stops that allow cyclists to go inside the stop and remove the conflict altogether. Our city and transit officials do us all a disservice by not useing KNOWN SOLUTIONS to resolve this issue. Here’s a prime example of how to build a bike lane & bus stop together that prevents conflicts.

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There are many articles on the matter as it’s as easy to implement as a bus stop with a sign! ¬†Here in Holland (Amsterdam), the British get it,¬†even Seattle gets it (it’s an article about St Paul with a picture of a Seattle bus stop), and of course we actually understand this in Portland too, here’s two of the bus stops that do it right (out of the thousands of stops we have about 3 that I know of that get it right, get it safe, and remove the conflict)

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The SW Gaines and Moody Streetcar Stop. Done right.

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Aerial via of the Hawthorne Bridge (Madison St side) stop that was recently redone to be designed correctly. Conflicts massively reduced now.

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Google Streetview of the same bridge stop. It’s simple, crude, but very fucntional.

Other examples of what cycle tracks and related infrastructure should look like if we intend for the 8-80 (or 8-90) crowd to actually partake. If we want to see 30-40 or even 50% of trips in the city taken by bike, here’s what we need to see for infrastructure.

This shows bike routes, cycle-tracks, and other infrastructure mixing in suburban environments, urban environments, and amidst transit, pedestrians, and more. Below are a few more of seperated infrastructure, clear paths, and related bicycling options as seen in Amsterdam.

It’s easy to do, it is not a complicated thing. We, in Portland as Portlanders, can do this but we have to actually do the work. We have to fight for and get this put into the standard way we build infrastructure. Bicycle infrastructre needs to stop being some secondary modal option and be a priority premier choice that it is.

Transit

The second thing we need to get straight in Portland is a double edged sword. Transit is expensive (often as expensive as buying everybody private¬†automobiles) but for an urban environment is generally worth the expenditure in every way.¬†It pollutes the air less, doesn’t require thousands upon thousands of square feet for parking or multi-story parking garages wasting space in the urban core, and the list of benefits continues. There are however a list of benefits that US transit doesn’t benefit from that it should, that much of our European counterpart cities do benefit from.¬†Let’s talk about how to remedy that for Portland. I won’t talk about how Europeans do it, just how we can fix it up spiffy in Portland. These are a few, and the most high priority, of the items Trimet and the city of Portlland need to work on.

Transit Priority & Reliability

This is a huge issue I have and I know about every single other rider in the system has right now. Buses and trains simply do not show up on time, or simply do not show up. On top of that they’re often randomly delayed throughout the day. Buses of course have little that can be done to fix their timeliness, as they’re held to the whim of the automobile and the selfish single occupant vehicle being operated by the single motorist. The trains are often delayed these days because of reasons ranging from “it broke down” to “something flooded because the drain wasn’t cleared” to “ugh, we’ve no idea what’s going on”.

The later excuses are unacceptable, but also giving priority to automobiles over transit is also just as unacceptable. Honestly, giving priority to automobiles over transit isn’t just unacceptable, it’s downright ignorant and stupid. We can do better and should do better. So this boils down to two major solutions that need implemented.

  1. The MAX infrastructure needs brought up to a good state of repair. Once it is brought up to a good state of repair, the MAX System should be held to at least a 95% of better on time arrival.
  2. The bus system should have more lanes and light priority to circumvent the cluster-fuck called automobile dependence. Transit users (and anybody else) not in a car shouldn’t suffer because of the massive number of selfish SOV motorists out there clogging up the roadway. We can’t continue to build or prioritize these people.

Frequency and Connectivity

Currently the frequent service routes in Portland run every 15 minutes, and some routes during a very narrow band of time (re: rush hours) run at a greater frequency than 15 minutes. We need to fund better frequency than that if we want to actually provide a real alternate and realistic option for people to stop being SOV motorists. Currently, I can’t even blame about half of them, selfish or not it is there only choice because transit simply isn’t frequent or reliable enough to utilize right now. This absolutely must change if people are to be expected to change their horrible auto-dependent habits.

We can and should do this, it’ll take some funding, albeit a very small amount, espeically if Trimet will ever get it’s coordination and funding straightened out. A small 0.001% or 0.002% addition to what they currently collect on the income tax would likely be enough to bump up almost every single major route that is currently at 15 minute frequencies to 7-10 minute headways instead. This would be huge for ridership and efficiency. However I will admit, before this can be done we have to do something about the reliability of vehicles arriving on time based on the current scheduling. Currently it does no good to add frequencies if everything will just get bunched up.

The later part of increasing frequency and connectivity is getting that connectivity done right. This is something that should and could be improved dramatically by insuring better transfers and in some cases, reducing transfers by extending, enabling more coverage in routes that already exist. Transfers decrease ridership in a huge way, nobody likes to transfer, especially with our current transfers which are usually¬†ridiculously bad. Especially from routes that are not frequent. If need be some routes should hold, to insure that the connectivity with freuencies 20 minutes or more don’t get disconnected. Those are the transfers, that when they fail to meet, end up making another SOV motorist instead of a transit rider. We need these to complete, every single time they need to complete.

Connecting Towns & Neighborhood Cores

Discover_the_Southwest_Corridor_Plan_comment_map___MetroTigard, Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro, and other town cores are connected (some of this is in the works for the southwest and the Powell & Division Corridor). However many neighborhood cores are not connected yet. We still need these core areas to have reasonable transfer points and criss-crossed transit service connecting them.

 

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Take for example Alberta, it has great service from the 72, that connects in a somewhat reasonable way to the 8, 17, 75, and some others. However Alberta Street is under threat of losing the 72 and the 72 instead going down Killingsworth. Compounding this horrible idea is that the bus stops for the 72 are enhanced, beautiful, and artfully rebuilt transit stops. This would be a horrible loss for Alberta Street. The 72 should stay in place and if anything, Killingsworth should just get some of it’s own service.

Some of the many other things are covered pretty well on Trimet’s Website. Most are not resolving the major issues listed above, but instead great ideas for what they can do with what they have. That’s great, but we need to push for better transit solutions if we’re really expecting to clean up Portland, provide a better future for the children of today, or if we’re just fine with shit standards and just above sub-par baselines that US Cities tend to have. I think we can do better, dramatically better, and I’m going¬†to pushing for such in any and every way that I can. I hope to meet and see you all out there pushing for a better future for Portland (and its surrounding metro area – re: Hillsboro, Gresham, Beaverton, Tigard, Vancouver, etc)

In closing, if we want to really improve our city and decreases our auto-dependency and increase our standard of living, the options are simple:

  1. Make biking a top tier modal option. No more second class citizen nonsense.
  2. Improve transit priority to top tier mode, and give priority to it over other modes Рlet it move more people in a timely way.
  3. Make transit reliable and frequent with reasonable and numerous connections.

That’s it, three major changes. ¬†Cheers!

…and of course, I’d love to know if you’ve any other ideas of what should be fixed. Also anything about what can be fixed with what we have at our disposal today, how can we push Trimet and Portland to have better transit and biking service and infrastructure?

Seattle to Portland High Speed Rail

One of China's High Speed Rail Stations

One of China’s High Speed Rail Stations

Currently travel times between the heart of Portland and the heart of Seattle look something like this. Google maps reports driving is 2 hours and 44 minutes. That’s with no traffic congestion. Flying theoretically takes 45 minutes, but that isn’t really to Seattle, it’s to SEATAC, which is nowhere near downtown Seattle. Taking the train takes a mind boggling 4 hours.

But seriously,¬†those times are all a bit deceiving. Because of the unreliable nature of American transportation infrastructure and systems we end up with dramatically different averages. Driving is sometimes as low as 2 hours and 15 minutes, but regularly more than 3 hours if either end has traffic congestion. The train, if you take the Amtrak Cascades takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes, but on some rare occasions it actually makes the trip in 2 hours and 55 minutes when there’s no freight congestion. Flying is a joke if you need to get to the downtown core of Seattle or Portland. Getting to either airport from the city core takes somewhere between 20 minutes to an hour or more for each city. Again, it depends on the traffic and the mode. Using light rail on either end is a 30-35 minute trip to get downtown. So in the best case scenario, with arrival at the airport at least 1 hour before take off we’re talking about a 3 hour trip minimum, if not more. Putting air travel head to head with riding the train. There’s also the bus, which can take a variable amount of time but often similar to driving.

Vision for American High Speed Rail (Click for a great article on American high speed rail)

Vision for American High Speed Rail (Click for a great article on American high speed rail)

Now imagine for a moment if we had real high speed rail service from Union Station to King Street Station in Seattle. At a top speed of 200 mph, with the same stops that are currently in place, the travel time between stations would easily be covered in about an hour an 15 minutes. Maybe plus or minus 10 or 15 minutes. But either way, it would clearly be the fastest way to travel between the cities.

Just think about that type of travel between these cities.¬†Think about what would be possible…

Portland Living, Seattle Jobs

All of a sudden, with a system like that in place it would open up the Seattle job market to¬†thousands of more people in Portland and even introduce the possibility of living in Portland and working in Seattle. That’s a pretty crazy thought when one stops to think about it. A commute from Portland to Seattle would be no more than what a current commute from Tacoma to Seattle is via the Sounder Commuter rail, or some of the express buses from Everett or far eastern Bellevue or Redmond.

Suddenly, Portland would have the possibility of dramatically more business with Seattle, and obviously vice versa. It leaves one with a question of…

Why don’t we have high speed rail between these two cities?

It’s really kind of insane, and is representative of our¬†ongoing paralysis in intelligent economic development between key cities in this country. Portland and Seattle are a prime example of this exact paralysis. The public sector can’t get it done. The private sector isn’t even¬†allowed to touch the notion. It’s pure idiocy all the way down the decision flow.

As I see many people who live in Seattle, who would rather live in Portland, but are stuck living in Seattle because of the better work & career options this high speed rail thought always comes to mind. Also I imagine there are some people that might want to live in Seattle and work in Portland, but probably not. The general crux between these two cities is that Seattle has the good jobs, and Portland has the good life.

Now while you’re thinking that through, just imagine if we really managed to get our act together and include¬†British Columbia and connect Vancouver. We’d effectively¬†move into the realm of a serious powerhouse world class economic region of the world. Livability, jobs, and career options that exceed the rest of North America by many degrees.

I’d wrap up on these thoughts with a simple notion. Let’s kick some serious regional ass and get some high speed rail built. There’s no region we shouldn’t move into the next level in a serious way! It could start with the cities’ mayors getting together to start applying some real pressure on the respective states and nations to get their act together. It’s well past the time we should start building up the Cascadian Region in some serious ways, let’s stop piddling around and make this happen!