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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another brilliant idea

Why stop at parking meters? The car haters of Portland have a better idea -- just turn the parking spaces into "parklets." I wish I were making this up, but I'm not.

As we gradually become less reliant on single-occupancy automobiles, there's going to be a lot of real estate in our rights-of-way and elsewhere that is currently dedicated to parking that can be put to higher uses.
The bike people declare war, then cry when the drivers treat them with contempt. All part of the theme park, I guess. With Streetcar Smith as an amusement unto himself. Glad I'm not a retailer thinking of moving here.

Comments (41)

I ran into one of these people - some actually believe that personal, motorized transportation will cease to exist one day.
It may, but not for the reasons they think.

Great, so the business gets a new park out front, and the people living nearby get the business' customers parking in front of their house. It's a win... um, lose.

"As we gradually become less reliant on single-occupancy automobiles"

I love how the cultists just state that as a given. There is zero evidence that we are becoming less reliant on automobiles.

They'll only go away in the places that regress.

The cultists forget or never learned that the very civilization they depend on was for thousands of years built first with horses, then later machines.

Stupid people generally destroy what they don't understand.

Oh goody, stagecoaches will be making a comeback. What are we going to do with all that horse manure?

Or perhaps the pedal powered omnibus. . .

I've long been done with downtown and other areas of the city that are user hostile.

I support select North Portland and St Jons businesses. Janzten Beach, too.

I try not to spend money in this city or county. In 12 years I'll be able to leave.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure the auto will survive this vicious assault. However, I think there's some serious safety problems with putting people that close to the traffic. The parking spots actually act as a very good buffer. A bike lane and a bioswale would probably suffice. Just get rid of the car lane altogether. And no, I'm not being facetious. Pay for it with a parking garage at the end of the street, though. You have to offer convenient parking (though not the MOST convenient possible) or you'll kill the very businesses that would benefit from the aesthetic improvements.

None of them are planning on getting old, obviously.

According to this PDF, Portland vehicle miles traveled per person have remained pretty stable since 1990. With population growing, it seems that we are driving MORE as a city rather than less.

Bad premise, stupid solution, welcome to Portland, Mayor Sam Adams, transportation director.

Boy, it's hard to beat this one for a fine example of whatever it is some people have around here.

Lenny says:

"Note that Mississippi Avenue between Fremont and Skidmore has a very generous ROW with relatively narrow sidewalks. There is plenty of space for wider sidewalks and curb extensions with bioswales AND an urban renewal district to pay for it. A street design with narrower traffice lanes would "enforce" a 20 mph vehicle speed limit and allow bikes...of which there are many...to mix freely with other vehicles. It would then be easy to trade out some vehicle parking for even more green space, cafe seating, and other worthwhile uses."

Typical passive-aggressive hipster garbage. Huck has a great idea about the parking garages, but the big proponents of "parklets" don't want to pay for it nor allow garage construction. Besides, the parklet people don't worry about longterm effects on shopping. They'll move back home to Pennsyltucky, and tell everyone at the breakfast table about how they stood up to Da Man with those parklets while Mom pours them another bowl of Count Chocula.

Huck, you should look into the history of the "Eugene pedestrian mall". Universally acknowledged as a failure and finally converted back to auto access. Closing off Alberta would kill it. Utterly.

Hey, let them do it. That much better for retailers outside of downtown. Besides it'll give the people driving hybrids/electric cars somewhere else to go, downtown is about dead now anyways.

They really don't have a clue how much they are screwing up stuff, so bless them.

I've always wondered what that Lenny character's deal was. He's so overly-enthusiastic about smart-growth/TOD stuff (miles even beyond Streetcar Smith--hard to believe) that he almost seems like a satire.

That site simultaneously induces laughter and higher blood pressure, I find. Some of the stuff there is so ridiculous, but becomes scary given the inclinations of many of our elected/appointed officials.

Hey, I'm glad someone else remembers the Eugene pedestrian/bicycle fiasco of the 1970's. That was a dead zone of homeless, addicts, and predators for a long time before they finally put things back the way they were. I'm almost positive there were other mid-sized cities around the country that tried the same thing with similar disastrous results, but I can't name any off the top of my head. Them was the granola years, "down with the establishment", "back to nature", "all natural", "wholistic", etc.

Sadly though, that was some 35 years ago, and we now have a new young crop of fearless leaders who believe they can implement a dumb idea better than their predecessors.

Snards, I don't think you can do it in very many places. It would divert traffic through neighborhoods that aren't designed to handle it. That said, you also would have to limit it in length. You'd have to have the parking every few blocks. However, lots of cities around the world have some of the greatest promenades ever, and it's because cars aren't allowed. Most of said places have nice weather year round, though. Anything here would have to make walking in the cold and wet a reasonably comfortable experience, which would of course be the "fat" trimmed off the budget to make room for all the other cost over-runs, which would make it worthless 6 months a year, resulting in boondoggle status. This is PDX.

My general shtick is that I'm really open minded about all the progressive transportation ideas. I think there's something to be said for a population that is willing to fail repeatedly in earnest pursuit of a better way. I think that even if some of the decision makers who benefit from all the schemes are disingenuous, the community support that they rally is genuine (if somewhat delusional, some times - I mean that, it's not all looneys, there's some really smart people working on every boondoggle in the country). However, we do seem to be perfecting the waste without seeing much of the return thus far.

Since Ms. Hamilton has take two parking spaces from a public owned street for her exclusive use for her business, at minimum she should be charged and money given to the general fund.

If I wanted to set up a food cart with a deck in the two spaces would the city look the other way? Where are the ordinances and public hearings that allow for this?

Huck, I guess I admire your positivity. But at $40 million for an aerial tram, or $1.5 billion for light rail to a suburb where barely anyone lives, or countless millions funneled from schools to urban renewal schemes, this "trying and failing" isn't cheap.

And like 90% of the city, I drive a car regularly. I don't think that getting rid of parking constitutes the "pursuit of a better way". I think it's a much worse way.

I don't think many people will disagree that the internal combustion engine is dirty and bad and will go away someday. But give me something else instead or else give me my horse back. I don't want a 'beneficent and powerful' government telling me where I can go, what time I can go there, and then charge me a fare for it. That's too much restriction of mobility for a healthy society.

It is the malady of our age that the young are so busy teaching us that they have no time left to learn.

Whole streets in major cities in Italy, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and probably other European countries were closed to cars decades ago to create pedestrian-only shopping areas. Of course, those cities died, and the counties that did this no longer exist.

In my opinion, throwing around words like cult completely misses the point and perverts the issue. It's use is pejorative, and is rather recent in human history. Here's one reference:


So, you can see, I can also, by changing my frame of reference, consider the auto a cult as it involves, or did involve, some sort of worship and project it on a negative plane, if I wish to do so. It falls somewhere between a non sequitur and an ad hominum.

Until the advent of individual motorized transport, the horse occupied the slot that the auto does, or at least did, enjoy. A symbol of power and an ego trip. Unfortunately, the auto is not a really good substitute.

I expect that in order to have both great public and private transportation, the auto will be wholly redesigned and become an integrated part of the transportation system, and not stand apart from the rest of it. All we have to do is to find a substitute symbol for power and ego that can be possessed. That may prove to be the most difficult part!

I love how the cultists just state that as a given. There is zero evidence that we are becoming less reliant on automobiles.

I don't think the people that peddle the "automobile-dependency" school of thought can really understand the backwardness of their thinking until they try and live without a car for a few years. I did for 3 years (4 counting the year I got around on a motorcycle) and you come to realize how greatly limited your mobility is. I've been in school for two of those years and for the rest I had jobs that allowed for easy bicycle commuting. While you eliminate costs of insurance, fuel, car payments, maintenance, etc. you greatly increase many other costs, a big one being time (not to mention all the additional impracticalities of the concept for working parents with kids). I lived in SW for a while so I could be close to PSU which was either expensive or shoddy and always in an apartment. Grocery stores are pretty expensive in the downtown area (I now do big shopping trips in my cage at Winco and Sprawlmart). With the big cuts in bus service around here, trying to coordinate a transit trip when the bicycle is too impractical becomes a real challenge. The really ironic thing is that Portland has become, and will continue to be, more "auto-dependent" in the coming years. TriMet's financial implosion and slashing of service (primarily bus of course) has resulted in a steady decline in transit trips into the downtown area over the last few years, which has always had the strongest commuter transit ridership.

"Automobile-enabled" or "car-liberated" is probably a more accurate term. The day I got another car felt rather liberating.

Cars are here to stay. We aren't going back, period.

Imagine for a moment if modern cars really became unworkable (peak oil, blah blah), and one day everyone suddenly couldn't drive. Think about the vaccuum that would create, and the amount of demand there would be for a replacement. The economic incentive to get a workable alternative engine to market would be unstoppable. That amount of demand for a replacement would be measured in the hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars in the US alone.

So many private companies would fall all over themselves trying to fill that demand that some alternative to the current engine would exist probably within two years. These would be put into CARS and everyone would go back to driving/parking/needing highways, etc.

What wouldn't happen is everyone suddenly saying "Oh, well I guess I'll just never drive ever again. What a mistake to move to this suburb." There will be a technological fix that keeps everyone driving. And that is why there will always be cars, and getting rid of car facilities in the city is childishly short-sighted.

I've always thought that we would probably trade internal combustion engine vehicles for more efficient/hybrid/electric/fusion powered vehicles, but ultimately we will still have individual vehicles. Like other posters have noted, carting kids around to activities, getting groceries, etc. just doesn't work for the most part. Over the years, I've had to get to ball games to referee via public transportation, and it can add 1-2 hours each way. I can't see how anyone thinks that is an efficient use of resources - unless you're unemployed and/or have no life.

Snards, there are also other reasons cars will be here for a long time. I love my car. The stereo sound, the heated seats, the new car smell, and the complete ease of getting from point A to point B. If there is nowhere to park I'll go where there is parking.

I hate bikes. They hurt my the center of my butt, I don't like getting wet or sweating, and I never feel safe when I'm on one. I'll bet there a few others in Portland like me, even if they won't admit it.

I can't see how anyone thinks that is an efficient use of resources -

Consider all the resources required, all of them.

Don't ask why, but the end of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Hemingway, comes to mind.

"Don't ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee".

Maybe I'm thinking of all the tolls in our driving future, or maybe the tolls that drive our future.

Was just looking back at the 2010 City of Portland bike count.

They only count on Tue-Wed-Thu at 7-9am or 4-6 pm in Jul-Aug-Sep. (times 5 for daily count) What happened to the other nine months?

The counts are by "volunteers" and transportation staff.
Is there a slight conflict of interest here?

We are committing 620 million future dollars based on this. INCREDIBLE!!!

Portland is NOT Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Madrid or anyplace else in Europe.
Portland is a mid sized, spread out, badly managed, and debt ridden city in the USA!
We drive cars here and the general population which is aging rapidly, will continue to drive individual cars to get to where they need to be. The oil supply will see me through my life time, I am old.
I already have one replacement joint and will probably have at least one more before I am sent off to assisted living prison. I am NOT going to be riding a bike, or skateboarding, or taking a bus or even walking very far; not now not ever. Period.
I WILL BE DRIVING as long as I can, and until the state takes away my license. If I live to be as old as my mother I will probably have a license to drive delivered to me in the mail until I die at age 98!
Maybe I can take out a few of those planer/bike riders before I die. Watch out... Mr. Magoo is on the road!

The problem with those who think cars are going away is they just want them gone so they can be right.

But they aren't going anywhere and all of their pushing to adapt society to a carless furture is as asinine as Milwaukie Light Rail.

Newer cars have very little environmental impact so the global warming alarmisim was a gift to those eager to demonize the automobile.

But peak oil and AGW are fabrications and the automobile will remain and evolve with technology.

New engines, fuels and energy sources will keep them advancing and becomng better than ever with more and more people having newer models.

It may not be too many years before oil begins a faster trek towards becoming obsolete.
That will happen long before we run low or out of oil. Despite the left's attempt to make it happen by locking up and prohibit known and new discoveries from being used.

Ya just can't beat the comfort, ease, freedom and flexibility of the automobile with transit or a bike.

From some web thing.

"cheap natural gas and new potential oil from unexpected quarters may do to Obama’s new energy hopes what it did to Carter’s: undermine and expose them to ridicule."

If oil production really peaks (we've been waiting for a peak since after the 70s oil embargo), all the 20 and 30-something hipster car-haters will have much bigger problems to worry about before they can celebrate in the vacant streets. Freight delivery costs will skyrocket, meaning the price for every conceivable consumer good will drastically increase. Basic costs of living would send most of the anti-car fanatics into poverty. Now do we want gas prices to arbitrarily increase? Just accounting for Portland's anti-auto planning up to the present, additional freight delivery costs because of the sharp increase in traffic congestion since the early 90s are literally in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Sharp increases in fuel costs would push that into the billions, which would mean sharp increases in prices of everyday commodities.

The internal combustion engine is not perfect, but the vehicles it powers allow for us to live in the wealthy society that we do. The engine can always be improved, but reducing society's mobility will drastically and negatively impact our quality of life.

Many people who commute by bike, VOTE in the city. Many car commuters VOTE in the burbs. Politicians count voters.
Portland might not die from the current infection of bike mania. But, it appears to be ailing.

I would say the hysterical, detached responses on this post are completely indicative of the "car-cult." Geez, talk about defensive. The whole concept was about blocking off parking in short sections of popular shopping districts - this would be a miniscule impact on the overall parking infrastructure in the city, like 1%, and most of the responses jump from A to Z in one step - the anti-car agenda, peak-oil, a car-less future! My god, this is what my comment about civics was all about. Take a deep breath people, you're all diminishing your own good arguments about fiscal responsibility.

Disclaimer - I totally get worked up and go off the deep end about my pet peeve issues, so I expect and appreciate when you can come retrieve me from my future ledge.

Everyone remember that the bike/pedestrian "only" crowd is tiny and insane. There is a very large number of people like me who drive a lot (for a living, in fact), but also ride my bike all over the city, and really embrace the stormwater/aesthetics/safety of bioswaled bike lanes, bike boulevards, and pedestrian improved sidewalks. Last time I checked my tax bill, these issues are not what break the budget around here, by any means.

The internal combustion engine is not perfect

By a long shot.


The IC engine powering personal transportation is throwing away around 2/3 of the theoretical efficiency available to it. Designers have known this for years.

As a side note (mine) the theoretical efficiency is related to ambient temps. If the climate is warming, that efficiency drops, causing more waste, more consumption....

It's an interesting read, despite the equations, which are not too difficult.

Jeez...sensitive much, folks? Might be time to break out that Wall-E DVD. It's been a while since I've read this many justifications for continuing the destructive path we're on. Ever thought of choosing to live near where you work/shop/live? The only case above that makes sense to me is the referee who has to make a bunch of different games. In my future, he gets an electric assist for his bike so he can get there on time. The rest of you get to pedal. You'll live longer.

Oh well, Jack poked the wasps' nest. Guess we should expect to see a bunch of bees fly out, stingers poised.


TriMet's...slashing of service (primarily bus of course) has resulted in a steady decline in transit trips into the downtown area over the last few years

Bob T:

The worst part of that is that while claiming to "do what the market won't do", they'll cut service on a certain route and say, "We're not going to serve these people any longer, and you know what? We're not gonna let you do it, either".

Bob Tiernan

"I ran into one of these people - some actually believe that personal, motorized transportation will cease to exist one day."

And then those people will complain about the cyber traffic jams and atomic pollution as we beam everyone around the world a-la Star Trek.

I live in the west county area and my wife and I have quit coming into portland to spend any kind of money...for shopping, dinner or anything. And the lack of parking is a big part of that. Along with the crappy streets, lousy transit system and general presence of derelicts and "colorful street people". If they want to turn the city into a large playpen for bicycling kids working for non profits, fine. But there goes your businesses, your tax base and your livability.

Huck, there's more than "miniscule" impact when parking is taken off a public street.

In my case on a narrow, almost one-lane Portland semi-improved street, nearby neighbors have confiscated ROW with landscaping, large boulders to inhibit parking in front of their homes. This has made it impossible in some areas for two vehicles to pass, and when the school bus comes by vehicles have to back up to a wider area to be able to pass.

The fire truck really presents a problem. If someone parks slightly out in the remaining street the fire truck can't even get to a fire.

Because I have retained parking next to my property, all the neighbors with their extra vehicles and visitor vehicles park in front of my property and walk a block to their friends houses. There are consequences, and it's negative more than positive.

lw, that isn't even on topic. What you describe is either an alley, or barely a road... not a commercial street. That sounds like a mess, and you know who you should call to deal with it? The government, and a lawyer. Good luck.

I don't want a 'beneficent and powerful' government telling me where I can go, what time I can go there, and then charge me a fare for it. That's too much restriction of mobility for a healthy society.

You mean, like the prevalent attitude towards those big capitalistic pig railroads back in the late 1800s/early 1900s - dictating where one could go, at what times, and providing substandard equipment on many trains and with filthy depots to board at?

The pro-rail supporters often fail to cite much of the reason for the support of the private automobile was exactly targeted AGAINST the railroads - they were clear monopolies, who had substantial power over private citizens at the time. When you look at Amtrak - you are looking at a shell, a tiny minority of the passenger rail system of the first 60 years of the 20th Century - the remnants of the "streamliners", the "name trains" - the first class trains that few rode on, but the railroads spent many dollars on promoting and running. The average citizen rode a second class train with old equipment (often with non-working HVAC systems) and certainly no dining cars...

It is hilarious to listen to the high speed rail supporters - I spent an entire month in Germany and rode many trains. Admittedly - I did ride an ICE (InterCity Express) train one time - between two stations within Hamburg. Never on the high-speed lines, though. I rode plenty of second class trains and commuter trains. I even rode on a train with Soviet-era equipment with roll-down windows!

The private automobile is, ironically, power to the people...and yet those who claim to be in support of individuals' rights are the first to line up in favor of a higher power to dictate your travel rights, and eliminate your choice to travel - in fact, assigning your travel privileges to a third party. What's next - public utilities that are rationed, with those in political favor getting a higher ration just as those in political favor get better transit service (i.e. "Free Rail Zone", light rail investments, new light rail stops) while those with less political favor get reduced transit service (old buses, fewer bus lines/fewer trips, no late night/weekend service)?

Huck, you're wrong, it's on topic. The street is a SW CoP arterial street, even designated as a bikeway on the new Sam's BikePlana. Plus, it has been used by ODOT and PDOT as a detour route when I-5 construction or accidents have occurred. You need to know Portland a little better.

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