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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Maybe the Portland traffic couplet fiasco isn't so funny

The guy whose building's been slammed into by cars three times in the past year isn't laughing:

Sorry, Bud. You've just been Blumenauered.

Comments (29)

No, it's really unfortunate that the generation advocating all of these transit improvements also tends to be the one that experienced ADHD as children. That's the only explanation I can come up with for the fact that once they get the MAX lines in place they start talking about moving them underground as the next step. If this would only keep them occupied and from introducing unconstitutional resolutions in city hall---such as last night with the Office of Equity proposal---maybe it wouldn't be so bad. But I guess we are preparing for a whole new population of refugees coming to Portland.

Most of them from Berkley, apparently.

I wonder if the designers/planners could be sued for malfeasance or some other torts action by the property owner whose building keeps getting hit. Torts never was an interest much to me but I am betting someone out there reading this might have an idea, Nonny? Buehler?

Is that a bicycle of some sort in the trunk of the car? If so, the accident is clearly the building's fault.

"not knowing when the streets turn from 2 way into 1 way" could be a problem sez the city rep.
Gee ya think???
And whose fault is that? The building's fault of course, if the city could possibly assess blame.

Will the next city plan be to pave the road for demolishing the "problem" building?

Couplet + Typical Horrifically Bad Portland Drivers = Disaster

The planners can't/won't take responsibility (no matter how bad the design)if alcohol is continualy involved in the accidents....

Three cars in a year? Surely it's just a coincidence. No pattern there.

Evidently, couplets don't fall under the traffic "calming" department. Prolly the same department that does curb outs, eliminating parking spots and bringing the pedestrian up close and friendly with the cars, bikes and buses zooming by.

So who was responsible for these curb outs?
Created more congestion, and safety issues... particularly a problem for people from another area driving here and not aware of these and where they might pop up.

I can't believe no one has mentioned driver responsibility. I have care, custody and control of the car. If my car plows into something, it's on me and me alone. Blaming the road is just ignorant. I've been driving for almost 40 years and NEVER once crashed into anything. If you go off the road and crash, it can not possibly be anyones fault but your own. I guess personal responsibility is out the freaking window now. The road is clearly marked.

HolmWrecker is right. It certainly is the motorist's fault both for the crash and more importantly for wrongly choosing to operate a motor vehicle inside Portland city limits.

Isn't the latter the whole point of deliberately designing confusing and dangerous "safer for pedestrians" improvements? Isn't there a study that the city follows that says the more dangerous and confusing the safer?

If they dared the car-haters who plan this stuff would designate the centers of intersections as child play zones and tell motorists to please be careful and share the road, but that would be too obvious and would generate backlash.

I'm waiting for the first cyclist or pedestrian to fall in front of a streetcar and get decapitated or dismembered. Think I'm making that up go find some big city newpaper archives from the 1920s.

Curb extensions are confusing - or dangerous? Large white signs, arrows, and painted lines showing a curve in the street are confusing? Not driving onto the sidewalk is confusing? I think motorists these days are stikingly limited in their abilities.

It sounds like fast and straight is all motorists are capable of handling these days. Vancouver knows how to do it. 164th Avenue on the east side. Seven lanes wide. No shoulder. 40 mph traffic running 1-2 feet from the curb. The sidewalks are empty. The crosswalk sign is flashing 5 seconds after it turns on. It's car heaven.

I seems that the real issue is that our angry motorists feel that anyone not in a car is beneath consideration as a user of the public right-of-way. I can't tell if it's just blind narcissism or simple bigotry against those liberal/poor/colored people who don't drive like Real Americans.

PdxMark, the point isn't that driving is virtuous and cyclists and peds deserve no consideration.

The point is that we still have to be realistic and admit that nearly everyone drives. Is that ideal and great for the planet? Probably not. But we collect our tax dollars in order to pay for services to keep out city functioning. Planning our city like 50% of people walk and bike when it is really less than 10% is not good planning. "Planning" by definition should be to prepare us for the reality that is coming, not someone's fantasy.

50 years from now a large large majority of Portlanders and Vancouverites will still be driving. The difference is that Vancouver will have acknowledged this inconvenient truth and built new major arterials roads (7 lanes, 40 mph), while we'll spend the next 50 years neglecting our street system because driving is "bad." Which city is the "city that works" in that scenario?

Snards, new arterial roads like 164th in Vancouver were built on basically rural spaces. Which neighborhoods do you propose be bull-dozed to improve the commute to/from Vancouver/Greasham/etc? Short of riping up blocks and blocks of inner Portland, new arterials in a fully-built city don't happen.

So how to keep people moving if there's no room for more roads/cars? Multiple transportation modes is one option. Transit works for some people for longer distances, but for trips under 3 or 4 miles, many people in Portland choose to bike. For trips under a mile, many people choose to walk.

So how close to reality is that 50% of transportation budget for bicycling you tosseed out? The oft-quoted number is that over 20 years Portland has spent about $60M (or $65M) on all bicycle-specific facilities. The 2011-2012 transportation budget is about $220M (from portlandonline). If we guess that the budget has doubled over those 20 years (a bald guess on my part), the average annual budget might have been $165M (110M of 20 years ago, plus half that). For that $165M average, about $3M/year was spent -- less than 2%. And what do we get for that?

Almost 20% of vehicle crossings on the Hawthorne Bridge are bikes, IIRC. Overall mode share might be up to 10% or more, using your numbers. So for under 2% of budget we get 10% of people transported, including people on some of the densest inner city routes. That seems like a good investment.

All that said... I think the Burnside/Couch couplet is dumb, too...

I think Portlanders should be riding bikes----b/c they certainly don't know how to drive. Are they aware that there are other people, frequently behind them, that actually need to get somewhere and don't have the time to smell the roses along the way. Most people are clueless about right of way laws, think others can read their minds when they need to change lanes, don't realize that a yellow light also means stop (if you can), believe that a horn is a means to express hatred and not a warning device. I could go on.

Yes they should be bicycling since they are too dangerous behind a steering wheel. But since it take so much time to bicycle somewhere what about the people who accomplish a lot in their days, and then have enough wealth to be charitable. Ever think of that?

PdxMark, I didn't mean to imply that we can put in new arterials. What I meant is that we need to be very careful of preserving and enhancing our auto facilities to the best of our abilities, specifically because we can't build more.

That's why things like putting in bioswales, and taking out car lanes for bikes, and tying traffic in knots with this new couplet intersection, are even MORE harmful here. We need to be thinking about how to preserve our limited auto capacity for the next 100 years. Not how to subtract from it.

Bikes and walking won't replace cars. Just won't happen. People have lives. Businesses have shipments coming in and out. Customers have to get there and have a place to park. People have kids too young to ride a bike. Four family members need to be in four places at once. People run late.

Biking and walking won't replace cars. Anyone who suggest they will is engaging in supposition and futurism. And therefore we have to plan for cars. Just like the one you regularly drive. Am I right?

I got no dog in the bioswale fight... and agree that the B-C couplet is a mistake... but I will stand up for non-car travel modes.

There is no reasonable basis to say that anyone is proposing that bikes or walking can replace all cars. That's a red herring.

By many measures, though, walking and biking ARE replacing cars for many short in-town trips in Portland. That doesn't work for everyone, everywhere, but every person who can and chooses to walk or bike reduces the car congestion problem and the parking problem. With a fixed amount of road space, that helps. And the numbers in Portland who bike and walk are significant.

As illustrated by the budget numbers I posted, a little bit of spending on biking and walking returns several times that in reduced car congestion. No conceivable road building in the city can do that for any amount of money. Why would any driver oppose that?

In a PBOT study from a few years 80% of bike commuters said they'd be driving if they weren't biking. The little amounts of money that facilitate bike traffic on non-arterial bikeways/bike boulevards utilize our grid street system without hampering car traffic on arterials.

On roads and streets without parallel non-arterial routes, designated bike lanes hardly ever reduce car travel lanes. For one exception I know of, Holgate, I don't know the traffic counts to know how big a deal that was. The other, currently being considered on Williams, relates to alot of bike traffic that is overwhelming the single bike lane and making the mix of car/bike/bus traffic a mess.

In both cases, they are trying to balance the usage of the road surface for all people... including non-drivers. In either case, striping a bike lane doesn't permanently diminish road area. (As an aside about Williams, it looks like the daily bike count is 3000, daily car count is 6000, and with car parking included, the space currently allocated for cars is 6 times the space for cyclists. That doesn't seem balanced.)

In all these cases, supporting multiple modes gives people options - and non-car options are the only way to increase the number of people moved with the fixed amount of city roadway that we have and the large space requirements of cars - either parked or being driven.

As another example, 20% of vehicles crossing the Hawthorne Bridge are bikes. If 80% of those people were driving, car traffic would go up 16%, but with bicycling there has been a 16% reduction in car traffic without diminishing at all the car capacity in that corridor. Bicycling is reducing car congestion at very little cost.

I agree that cars are necessary for many people, but they aren't necessary for everyone all the time. The trick, as with all engineering problems, is balance...

Now as for that CRC... I'm still not clear how it will change the daily radio report that southbound I-5 is slowing at Delta Park... Or how it will be paid for... But our No-Tolls friends sure don't want to pay for it just because they happen to use it...

it looks like the daily bike count is 3000, daily car count is 6000

It looks like somebody doesn't know how to count (or is cooking the numbers). Do you really think there are fully half as many bikes on Williams as there are cars? Get real.

I'm a general contractor and when I drive in my truck for work I see down into cars. You can't belive the change in tbe number of people holding a smartphone (ironic) in their lap and texting/Youtube/whatever from just a year ago.

This is another major change in this area from just a year and when you combine it with the change in traffic patterns you see the accidents.

Watching for road signs and or buildings vs. watching their phone...I submit that it is inattention to what is in front of their car that is causing the building collisions.

Not just a correlation- I say distration from devices is the likely causation.

PBOT DOES use bogus or partial statistics to make it's propagandist claims. I saw this first hand several years ago in my old neighborhood when over several months a neighborhood arterial first got traffic counters, then calmed with circles, speed humps and 'Bicycles Only', then traffic counters again, and then there it was in the the O... how they were patting themselves on the back for their "award winning" driving elimination programs that had successfully gotten X many drivers out of Portland on that particular street by encouraging biking instead. The problem with that claim was I lived exactly 1 block parallel and our traffic dangerously quadrupuled afterwards and never went back down. I no longer trust any single thing they claim because they lie whenever they can get away with it. It's called information or perception management, i.e, propaganda.

PdxMark, speaking of Jack's "cooking the numbers", take a look at PBOT's PDF file on 2011 and previous year's instructions for their supposedly scientific, accurate bike riding bridge counts. The PDF specifically states to take counts "only on good weather days" and only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and that is during the summer months. The 20% of all trips are by bike for all days of a year is bogus.

Bike counts that I have taken this summer from 5 to 6PM has been averaging from 6 bikes per minute with a 10 minute peak of 18 bikes per minute. These numbers don't equate to 20% of all trips are by bike, even in the summer months and certainly much less for the other three seasons.

I haven't personally done vehicle counts so I need to rely on someone who says they have - but I have biked on Williams at rush hour - and during that time I think there are as many or more bikes than cars. Does anyone else here who's driven or biked Williiams at rush hour have a sense? If you've driven Williams at rush hour, please explain to me how you can tell how many cars are in front of and behijnd you relative to the number of cyclists you drive past...

So 50% is not preposterous to me for a daily count. If not 50% what are the correct numbers/ratios on Williams? 20% bikes? 1% bikes? Anyone? Does anyone here have any actual data other than belief in a conspiracy of the eggheads? Any data at all? Are these Portland traffic engineers a part of or separate from the climate science conspiracy?

Mr G - What were the traffic counts before and after on your street and the calmed one? Did 100% of the diverted traffic cut down your street? Did the cut-through traffic persist more than a month or two after the traffic change? How much less traffic do you deserve to have on your street than the people who live 1 block away from you?

lw - It sounds like you were doing a traffic count on the Hawthorne Bridge, is that right? What were the car counts at the times of your bike counts? I thought car and bike counts on the bridges were done with roll-over counters, which would give more complete data than temporary manual counts. I'll look more closely at the counting protocols...

My street was 1/2 the width of the former arterial and the answer is no, 10 years later the traffic count and run over pets remained the same.

I cannot believe any claims out of PBOT. They are liars and people who refuse to see it cling blindly to a faith. Taking targeted measurements specifically in areas that coincidently happen to be popular with those who've recently moved to Portland specifically to live in a cycling neighborhood, like N Williams or SE Clinton, and only on sunny days, and only during the brief summers, will produce targeted statistics valid only under those specific conditions and any attempt to claim they characterize the city as a whole is an error at best and an outright lie at worst.

I have been fortunate enough to have the same job for 20 years in a heavily employed area mysteriously ignored by TriMet and too far to bike to and have driven both directions every day right through a heavily biked arterial in SE, and guess what? On sunny days in the late spring and in summer, I see a lot of cyclists maybe 20% of the vehicle count. But during the rest of the 9 months of the year when it's 45 degrees or colder and it's wet and cold and miserable and dangerous to cycle, I see maybe 2 or 3, or ZERO. It only takes eyeballs and regular observation over an extended time period to get an estimate of reality. I'd love to see an independent party NOT hired by PBOT to do an accurate analysis and call out the city on its claims, but I wouldn't be surprised if that weren't somehow against city code.

I am not a paranoid conspiracy believer and I have lived here as an adult for 35 years and something's very wrong down at 4th and Jefferson.

"By many measures, though, walking and biking ARE replacing cars for many short in-town trips in Portland."

By what measures? What data exists to confirm this?

What is the bike count on the Hawthorne Bridge or Williams in February? If it is less, how are those summer bikers getting to work in the winter?

Williams is 2 car lanes and 1 bike lane. I know the bike lane is crowded at peak hours and maybe there is some way to widen it or something. But how does switching to 1 car lane and 2 bike lanes make sense when you've acknowledged that car count is at least twice the bike count?

If cars use 6 times the space on Williams as bikes, maybe it's because a car is six times bigger than a bike.

It's not the amount of the budget that is dedicated to bikes that matters but the level of disruption from these improvements. Taking out a driving lane on Williams may cost 2% of the budget, but it is 100% a pain in the arse.

(To be clear, I commute by bike at times, and I generally like the bike boulevard solution on lower traffic streets. We just need to designate our arterials for cars and then protect them for that use.)

PdxMark, please don't include me into the "paranoid" category. I try to base my posts based on facts.

For example, in breaking down my bike count post above it makes CoP and your claim of 20% bike trips on Hawthorne bridges very suspicious. I'll be very generous on calcs.

Using 18 bike trips/minute for 30 minutes for portion of rush hour=540 trips.

Using 12 bike trips/minute for 15 minutes for portion of rush hour=180 trips

Using 9 bike trips/minute for 15 minutes for portion of rush hour=135 trips

Two rush hours= 1710 trips

Using 2 bike trips/minute average for all the remaining 22 hour=2640 trips

TOTAL Bike Trips=4350/day
TOTAL Hawthorne motorized count=35,750

PERCENTAGE of Bike Use on Hawthorne for
Summer Months= 12 PERCENT..not 20 PERCENT

It is very unlikely that yearly bike use approaches even 12% usage.

I began suspecting PDOT (PBOT) summations, traffic counts and studies after years of reviewing their numbers. Several years ago PDOT issued a traffic study for the CTLH Neighborhood (now SW Portland). They stated SW Macadam was below capacity and could accommodate an extensive upzoning, increased density, heights, etc. because the capacity was there. CTLH commissioned there own study from a Seattle Traffic Engineering Co. that totally refuted the study. They discovered "F" level of services at four intersections and areas along Macadam. And they differed extensively with assumptions being made by PBOT.

PBOT has been extremely good at using "studies" to argue any side of an issue on transportation. Name the outcome they politically want and they'll make the "study" work. Now it's on bike usage.

lw - Thanks for your information.

Here's what I found about the difference between two-hour manual counts and 24 hour "hose counts." From a posting by Roger Geller here:

"We have people standing at corners ticking off each cyclist that passes a spot over the two-hour peak period (4-6pm). We make a relatively standard assumption that the two-hour peak represents approximately 20% of all daily traffic at that location. This assumption has been repeatedly borne out by our hose count data at several locations, which
gives us bicycle counts..."

To me, that factor 20% for rush hour seems at least plausible on a two-way street -- 20% AM rush, 20% PM rush, 60% the rest of the day.

I'm not sure I'm convinced by your Hawthorne Bridge sampling. I think hose count data is used on the bridge, which is pretty reliable. Steve Duin in his column earlier this year hit the same 20% number - starting from the perspective of a bike-sceptic.

I do agree that the 20% number probably represents summer commute times. Looking back at the report, it says so quite clearly. It also has data showing the March bike traffic as being 1/3 the summer peak.

Snards - The data on short trips is my personal observations of commercial districts in N, NE, an NW Portland. In addition to PBOT traffic counts, Geller cites two other indicators to assess bicycle use in Portland - the US
Census/American Community Survey and an annual survey (conducted on a range
of topics) by the city Auditor’s Office. He adds that the "city auditor’s report come out reporting that 8 percent of city residents identify the bicycle as their primary means of transportation to work and another 10% identify it as their secondary means of transportation to work. This is based on a survey of, I believe, more than 20,000 city residents and, according to our Auditor’s Office is +/- 1% for the city-wide numbers at the 95% confidence level." (see the first link). He doesn't cite specific Cencsus information in the linked article.

None of this is a refutation of the notion that most bike infrastructure moves a good percentage of people in a way that reduces car congestion at a relatively low cost.

Back to the point of the original posting... even those vaunted suburban streets don't prevent cars from crashing into buildings...

Have a good weekend all...

PdxMark, trusting hose counts would be like trusting a 60 member frat house down in Eugene not to ride over a hose endless times, then not to stomp on it to the beat of the Gadda-Da-Vida, then not ride bikes over it endlessly. A very accurate count, huh? I'd never do that.

Or it might be like the Fair Housing Council recently hyping, concealing, torquing discrimination surveys.


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Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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