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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It will never happen in Portlandia

Down in L.A., they've embarked on a major traffic signal synchronization project that's actually cutting traffic congestion:

After 30 years in the works, the plan went live in February, and the results of the change are trickling in. Average driving time has fallen — it used to take 20 minutes to drive 5 miles, but now it just takes 17.2. And, the average speed has gone up: from 15 miles per hour to 17.3 mph, the Times reports.

The goal is to raise the travel speed by 16 percent, and reduce travel time by 12 percent, L.A. authorities said when they first introduced the scheme.

Around here, of course, they'll do just the opposite. More air pollution for us all to breathe, more wasted time, more frustration. But the sights and smells of gridlock really arouse the Earl the Pearl and Streetcar Smith types -- the people whom everyone wants to emulate. And who somehow get to tell us all how to live.

Comments (16)

Obviously, the goal in LA is NOT to make any car trip as painful as possible as it is here in Weirdlandia.

Before light rail, the synchronizaiton of traffic lights downtown in Portland was pretty good. Now it's not, but it doesn't matter much -- no one seems to be in any hurry to get anywhere.

Traffic planners around the country will never understand why Portland axed the Mount Hood freeway. Please include me in that group.

There is something magical about driving down 4th ave with a bike rider directly in front of your car all the way from 405 to Burnside. It teaches patience like no other endeavor.

Gibby, that story makes no sense at all. That stretch is gently downhill. The downtown speed limit is 20 mph, easily achievable on a bike on that gradient. The lights are set for something like 17 mph. There are three lanes for cars. And even if you somehow missed a couple of the signals, it might take you something like six minutes to go from one end to the other. You must be really cranky.

Gibby, I hope that patience comes in handy when people needlessly nitpick your comments.

Allen, in a perfect Portlandia world you would be correcto. However, the bikes in front of me seldom choose to glide along at a timed speed. It's either 4mph or 18mph, with constant lane changes, and often with no warning. The fact that they are so much more vulnerable than a person in a car makes them less tolerable for their poor driving habits. Not picking on people with tight pants, just saying they take some patience and this is a city that would never look to change or fix it in the interest of a better automobile experience.

Pancho...I mostly love Allen's comments

I detest going downtown.
We have essentially left the area permanently.

Hey Gibbles,
Just stop driving around.

"The state wants you to drive less, and Metro has to make that happen".


The Portland über-ego wants desperately to be different, even if it means being stupid or self-destructive. Besides, it pays off big for selected insiders.

On Interstate, we did the exact opposite. Making the timing of the lights as painful as possible. Portland likes idling cars belching exhaust.

It's an interesting thought that LA willingly pursues such a program because they see the consequences of their pollution in the air. Here the pollution doesn't hang in the air, so we can act like forcing cars to slow and idle is not a pollution problem. But it still is.

Given that Irony has taken up permanent residence in Portland, better timing of traffic signals would reduce pollution, gas consumption, carbon releases, and would be a decent plan to deal with global warming. Oh, wait - the 90% or so of people driving will be giving up their cars any day now. Never mind.

Just about any transportation project PBOT comes up with involves slowing down traffic even though they don’t know what the average speed of traffic is or if drivers are for the most part are not going faster then the posted speed. A car traveling at a constant speed produces less emissions than in stop and go traffic or when accelerating or decelerating. Adding blocks of new traffic signals (like with the eastside Burnside couplet), busses stopping at curb extensions and obstructing other traffic, speed bumps, much of the so-called traffic calming, etc all stack up to create more emissions.

The UGB plan has contributed to extreme congestion and worse air pollution. We weren't told about this result, only bought into it because we were told we would become like LA and sprawl!
Take a drive out to Happy Valley, farm land filled with housing and groves of trees removed from hilltops. Wouldn't it have been better to leave those hilltops with trees in tact and build on the other side if need be?

Remember, Portland doesn't want you to use less gas, because that means they would get less gas tax money to spend on pet projects. So by messing the timing of the lights up they force you to use more gas for the same amount of driving so they have more money to play with. (Unless like me you make a point to never buy gas in Portland. I try to buy all my gas in Vancouver, but if for some reason I'm not going to make it there I still go outside of Portland. (Gas is cheaper in Vancouver anyhow.)

Good point. They are in a kind of catch 22 then, if they need the gas tax money but want us out of our cars.
Maybe this is why they are instigating other ways of getting more tax dollars, we need to keep an eye out as our city now has lobbyists down in Salem as I recall regarding taxes.

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