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Monday, April 27, 2009

Ooooooh, shiny!

It appears that public television has a documentary coming up on transportation infrastructure problems in America. And oh boy, we'll bet that the Portland streetcar segment will have the whole Chris Smith set dancing their superior dance.

What do you think the chances are that they'll discuss the upcoming cuts to Tri-Met bus service?

Comments (28)

From the linked article: Host Miles O’Brien examines the steps our country must take to keep our nation competitive in a global economy, while addressing the realities of climate change, diminishing natural resources and population growth
JK: Anytime you start by addressing three fallacies, the end result cannot be too rational.

But it will be interesting to see if they use my little speech about the streetcar destroying neighborhood livability by encouraging density and increasing traffic congestion by increasing the number of cars on the road and blocking traffic.

It appears that that's a MAX train, not a streetcar. But to the public TV folks, it's all shiny, green, and good.

Here's a game: Count the fareless square junkies getting ready to disembark at Skidmore Fountain.

Jack, since you introduced me to the Trans-Millenio bus system in Bogota Colombia, I have a new appreciation for how urban transportation can be managed at a reasonable cost with greatly improved efficiency. My son was there last summer and came back with high praise for the system. Let's send our Tri-Met folks to Bogota for a little education!

"transportation infrastructure problems in America"

So what are they going to say besides freeways bad and light rail good?

I'd love it if they would address the real infrastructure issues like sewer lines in the ground pushing 100 years old. However, the urban planning clones find this kind of thing boring and would rather play SIM city with light rail and dense condos.

Maybe they can address how they plan to power these toy trains when they get all the dams removed. Solar? Not likely.

Crows or Pack rats? Those creatures like the shiny too.
Power? How about wind?; from all the hot air used to initiate this nonsense.

This guy is late to the party - there was a Brad Pitt narrated episode of e2 transportation (http://www.e2-series.com/) back in December.

Note the "Mayor" title shown for Sam Adams, when at time of airing, he wasn't mayor yet.

Since their website is all flash (garbage) I can't link you direct to it, so follow the breadcrumbs:

Main > Webcast > e2 transport section > 12.22.2008 episode "Portland - A Sense of Place"

For what it's worth, they do have some rather beautiful shots of the city in that thing.

How about wind?

They don't like wind, it's bad for migrating birds.

I counted 13 people in the picture. I wonder if any of them paid their fare?

It's so ridiculous.

They always show the sea of tightly packed houses and complain that it what sprawl is doing.

Yet those pictures are of the neighborhoods Metro mandated and the pre metro/"smart growth" neighborhoods are all less dense and more attractive.

The examples are all across our region.

Old neighborhoods with green, open spaces, larger yards and high livability.

The new subdivisions/neighborhoods that Metro required are seas of roofs asphalt and concrete.

That's what planners call preferable.
Then throw in the publicly subsidized chaos of Villebois, SoWa, Beaverton Round, Cascade Station, Orenco Station, Gateway and Gresham station 'centers' that Metro mandates and the resulting mess is far worse than the Charbonneau that triggered the SB 100 central planning movement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charbonneau,_Oregon

But when there's this level of delusion http://portlandtransport.com/archives/2009/04/all_bikes_at_ci.html

"In Portland, bicycling is more than a way to get around - it's a way of life. According to the League of American Bicyclists, Portland is America's number-one major city for biking. A significant economic force, Portland's bicycle industry generated nearly $90 million and sustained approximately 1,000 jobs last year. Bicycling eases traffic congestion, improves air quality and enhances public health in the metro area. And by leveraging one of the community's most valuable public assets - the right-of-way space long allocated to cars - Portland is emerging as a model for sustainable urban living in the 21st century."

we're only getting more of the same.

The kind of "wind" to which I am referring is actually considered a viable form of energy when concentrated. Unfortunately I doubt that the principles promoting this particular enterprise of so called mass transit (trains and trolleys), can be corraled into cow sheds to contribute their methane to the greater global good. Too bad, as there is so much sh*# at city hall these days it could be a useful alternative energy plan.

Bicycling is a form of personal transportation, and shouldn't be lumped together with cozy developer/government schemes like light-rail and streetcars. Also, not all cyclists really favor the less-than-useful infrastructural "improvements" that Sam Adams is pushing for. The only thing that we really require are low-speed residential routes that parallel major streets and maybe a few shared lane markings (although I don't really care if those are present or not). The only real specialized infrastructure that bikes sometimes require are dedicated right-of-ways over busy highway or river crossings. For the most part, standard streets are sufficient for my purposes -- provided that they aren't busy 45 mph six-lane expressways. Local roads are built and maintained primarily by general taxes (especially property taxes), and already exist. Keeping them maintained benefits both motorists and cyclists.

Yeah, I bet the rough roads and potholes are even more fun on a bike.

And I'm still coming off my high from watching the Streetcar in "Sprawling from Grace" (available for instant play on Netflix) :-)

Oh give me a break. The Bike lobby has embellished every aspect of the bike mode to make it appear more of a contributing benefit to the transportation system that the minuscule mode it is.

It may be a "way of life" for a relative few but having the "League of American Bicyclists" call Portland America's number-one major city for biking does not equal the embellished "significant economic force" or the "easing of traffic congestion" or the "improvement of air quality" or "enhancement of public health in the metro area".

That whole spiel is right out of the PDC or Metro hand book for cooking things up and declaring yourself a model for utopia and to justify more of same.

The bike lobby and Mr. Smith's blog supported the Tram/SoWa and every other boondoggle that worsens traffic and wastes 100s of millions in tax dollars on private development and planner schemes. They are against any and all added capacity for motor vehicles, commuters and commerce.

Their advocacy has provided support and cover for the Metro/PDC/CoP/Port of Portland/TriMet cabal for many years.

That support and cover for upcoming projects continues today without regard for any prior failures.
Every single mantra that preceded prior boondoggles continues today in advance of the next ones.

The net result of the bike mode, when taken with their advocacy, has meant a significant economic detriment, worsening of traffic congestion, worse air quality and high risk of public health in the metro area.
Contrary to what they claim.
Outside of the central city a vast network of mandated bike infrastructure has devoured road surfaces, countless millions and efforts to relieve traffic only to be left essentially unused.
All seemingly justified by an occasional leisure bike rider or the perpetual fantasy of spurring widespread biking if only the infrastructure is expanded.
In many cases prior bike infrastructure, having never been utilized, has reached it's life expectancy and is now being replaced with even larger bike facilities with the continued fantasy uninterrupted.

If one just looks at the massive ped/bike facilities proposed for the Milwaukie Light rail bridge, Sellwood Bridge and CRC it is a lesson in tremendous excess at the expense of other needs, worsening traffic, economic costs and more pollution.

Sightline Daily sends:


10. Views: Viaduct tunnel's cost may fool us all

A professor at Oxford University in England has done a compelling series of studies trying to get at why big public-works projects such as bridges, tunnels and light-rail systems almost always turn out to be far more costly than estimated. The simple answer: officials lie.

Seattle Times 04/26/2009

Hmmm...I guess I focus too much upon riding to pay attention to what the "bike lobby" is doing, although I will say that not every cyclist favors the measures that bikeportland.org promotes.

Me, I'm not really in favor of expanding transit or highways. A new highway in Portland would require the destruction of various neighborhoods and the bulldozing of hundreds of houses, dividing and compartmentalizing the city. New highways create new congestion by prompting people to make more and further trips than previously. And rather than dispersing across surface streets, they bunch up around the highway entrances. Check out Forbes' "Most Congested Cities" report -- you'll find that congestion levels do not correlate either positively or negatively with either density or number of freeways.

In a world in which demand is soon to outstrip supply for both energy and materials and where the methods of resource extraction are becoming more energy-intensive and technologically complex, the wave of the future is low-speed, short-distance personal vehicles, not mass transit or highways.

Also, I'm not a huge fan of dedicated bike lanes. Low-speed, two-lane residential streets that actually connect do the job just fine, and experienced cyclists are usually okay with taking the lane on higher speed streets -- you can just go around us. Having to go around slower moving or stationary vehicles goes with the territory of transporting oneself -- I have to do it too, in response to pedestrians, slower moving cyclists, stopped cars, buses, garbage trucks, etc. If you lived in the midwest or northeast, you'd have to deal with Amish buggies too. Deal with it :)

I forgot the link for the Forbes report: http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/24/traffic-congested-cities-lifestyle-real-estate_congested_cities_slide_2.html?thisspeed=25000

Also, I find it odd that one who doesn't like air pollution or "boondoggles" would support expanded road or freeway capacity. What's wrong with 2-4 lane surface streets?

chriswnw: Also, I find it odd that one who doesn't like air pollution or "boondoggles" would support expanded road or freeway capacity.
JK: Freeways are for cars. Cars pollute less than buses. And efficient cars pollute less than even toy trains. The real boondoggles are light rail construction where you can spend a billion dollars for a transportation effect of 1/3 of one land of freeway as is the case of the West Side light rail. Or you could look at the over $30 per boarding cost of WES. Driving that distance costs about $3.75. Light rail costs too much & does too little.

chriswnw: What's wrong with 2-4 lane surface streets?
1. Freeways are faster than city streets. Contrary to city planner’s beliefs, time is money.
2. Freeways are safer than city streets.
3. Freeways move more traffic per lane than city streets.
4. Freeways allow car operation at higher efficiency for less pollution and less energy.
5. Freeways draw traffic off of neighborhood streets, making neighborhoods more livable.
6. Freeway’s increased travel speed increase your choice of jobs by bringing more jobs within a give commute time. Thus increasing your standard of living.
Unfortunately most city planners are too stupid to understand these basics of transportation.


Wind impact on bats is worse than on birds, and impact on birds is probably not worse than any other human activity would cause in the same area. Certainly bird impact of wind power farm would not be as bad as cats that would come with homes in the same area. Changes in climate because of CO2 are likely to create habitat impacts that would be far worse if we don't get off fossil fuels. Design and location of wind turbines can be tuned to limit bird and bat impacts.

See cautiously positive Audubon Society position at... "http://www.audubon.org/campaign/windPowerQA.html"

Freeways a light-rail were both used as harbingers of urban renewal and redevelopment, and are both used to fuel the quasi-utopian visions of urban planners. Learn about Robert Moses, whose ideas lead to the purposeful demolition of entire neighborhoods for the purpose of constructing freeways, stadiums, towers and convention centers, all of which -- excepting highways -- people who comment on this blog appear to oppose. If the Mt Hood Freeway were built, all of the houses in the Clinton St area would be seized by emminent domain and would have faced the bulldozer. Not exactly libertarian, is it?

I think freeways are fine for the purpose of connecting metropolitan areas, but I don't agree with your assertions. They are only true if traffic is moving freely, which only occurs under non-peak conditions. There's no correlation between density of freeway construction and lack of congestion. People drive to the extent practical. Creating more freeway capacity initially makes it more practical to drive more and further, at least until everybody else has the same idea and the new capacity fills up. It's called induced demand.

There's also no correlation between number of freeways and "standard of living", although "standard of living" is a subjective term. Vancouver, BC, which is one of the most high-priced cities on the continent, is completely lacking in freeways. If we were to to define "standard of living" more subjectively, I know that mine would be significantly diminished if Portland looked like this: http://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/moses_freeways.jpg My "standard of living" is higher in a city where jobs and amenities are located close by, making it unnecessary to travel 30-50 miles on a daily basis. An overabundance of freeways encourages merchants and businesses to locate themselves far away from where people live.

Cars pollute less than buses

Seriously? Want to put some statistics up for that? Because the last figures I saw showed a bus putting out about 10x as much CO2 as a car per mile, which means roughly that if the bus averages 10 passengers for each mile (and there are all sorts of adjustments that need to be made in there for length of trip, etc.) then the bus is putting out less pollution.

I miss the good old days when Karlock was the biggest wingnut posting here.

Seriously? Want to put some statistics up for that? Because the last figures I saw showed a bus putting out about 10x as much CO2 as a car per mile, which means roughly that if the bus averages 10 passengers for each mile (and there are all sorts of adjustments that need to be made in there for length of trip, etc.) then the bus is putting out less pollution.
JK: Yeah, Dude, seriously.
1. The average USA and Trimet bus carries 9, not 10 people.
2. The average trimet bus gets 3,792 BTU per passenger mile. Trimet data.
3. The average USA car gets 3,549 BTU per passenger mile Table 2.10, Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 25-2006
See portlandfacts.com/Transit/BusVsCarTEDB.htm
Case made.

Now lets look to the future, nationally:
Current efficient car: KIA Rio, 2,488 BTU / passenger-mile. For a bus to match that, they would have to increase the load 4160 (national BUS)/2488 or 67% to an average of 15 people, about 1/3 full. But the buses are less than 1/2 full during rush hour because they start empty and fill just before they reach downtown. Conclusion: it is unlikely the bus will ever match the small car.

Now toss in really small cars like in Europe at, say 75 mpg or 1061 BTU/passenger-mile and plainly buses will never compete.

If you bring up a hybrid bus, then I bring up a hybrid little car and that 75 mpg goes way up.


I miss the good old days when Karlock was the biggest wingnut posting here.
Posted by sherwood

JK: Well, Sherwood, maybe you should re-consider which of us is the wingnut. You are wrong on just about everything you claim, while I am fairly careful to have facts behind me.


So I don't suppose you'd have any objections to increasing the gas tax in order to encourage people to drive these fuel efficient KIAs instead of SUVs?

Chriswnw -

I might actually think an increase of the gas tax would be an okay thing if and only if the money was absolutely, 100% guaranteed to be spent on the roads. But somehow, they all too often find ways to divert the money to light rail/streetcar projects or closely associated projects. If all the money went to road development and road repair I would consider it, but I've seen them abscond with the money time and time again.

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