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Monday, May 24, 2010

They come right out and say it

One of the biggest laughs we've had recently is when the mayor of Portland announced that, because the city's broke, it would stop hiring consultants. Ha! Ha! Here's another $185,000 out the window, for yet another consultant for yet more bicycle projects.

Nothing new there, except for the key sentence in the description of the work: "The plan emphasizes creating conditions to make bicycling more attractive than driving for short trips and completing a bikeway network that attracts new riders." In other words, if you drive a car, we're going to make your life miserable. What a town.

Comments (62)

EPCOT for cyclists. I hope they bring their American Express Cards.

Why can't PBOT do this with staff they already have? Haven't they been working on bike projects for decades now?

I think there's a lot more in the works we haven't been told about...

I remember reading several years ago in one of the local papers that there was a plan afoot to actually barricade neighborhoods to prevent people from leaving them except by foot, bicycle, or mass-transit. At the time I thought it absurd and intolerable, but with recent offenses by BP and political fallout running high, and Portland's tacit 100% approval of anything the Mayor wants by twice refusing to so much as initiate a recall election, I'm afraid Portland is in for some serious history-making and experimental social engineering, and likely, a rough ride.

Best of all, if the Ecotopia experiment goes all wrong there will be no one to hold responsible since the perpatrators were 'only fulfilling the will of the people' and can probably be counted on to blame any failures on conservative or corporate 'enemies of the state'.

Urban planning, at its core, is behavior modification. What I've found most fascinating about planning education and those practicing it is the ongoing denial that that requires an explicit ideology.

In other words, planners (and politicians who like to pretend they are planners) are ideologues who think that, because they've presented "alternatives" and done "due diligence", they're being unbiased. But urban planning is one of the most ideologically driven activities of local government.

If nothing else, the hubris required to do some of these city planning activities with a straight face is astounding. The history of planning in Portland is largely a history of fads, followed by a long stretch of attempts to undo the damage done by chasing them.

Like, say, the fad of developments like the Pearl. In 40-50 years, the Pearl will be a head-shaking curiosity--but the perpetrators will be long gone, retired or dead, and a few dozen "ideas" beyond it. Urban planning has a short, short memory.

"barricade neighborhoods to prevent people from leaving them except by foot, bicycle"

They already do that it's called Sunday Parkways.

I wonder how many proposals were received in the 3 week period.

It really does not matter as this is going to Alta Planning.

Let's see ... Temps under 50, rain, a brood of kids, one infant ... Let's get on our bikes to for a short trip to Freddy's!

Gee, Sam, you're right. Cycling is lot more attractive than driving for short trips.

As a taxpayer I do not want to see the City spend any dollars on bike lanes. I have two reasons:
1. Bike lanes put cyclists out in the street endangering their lives by exposure to auto traffic.
2. We don't have the money for this.

There goes our sewer savings....already spending it!

And the jokers will be voting on a new city budget on Weds. The Trib is reporting that the discretionary general fund revenue is projected to fall by $5.3 million and that t city needs to cut one-time spending by between about $13.7 million to $17 million. But hey why not burn money on unnecessary consulting while the bureaucrats fiddle? Does anyone out there really have a clue?

Yes, "planning" is about getting people to do things they probably wouldn't do otherwise - simply because most people are "status quo seekers." I don't especially like being told what to do but, I have to admit, deep down, I think planning's necessary.

As for bikes - they are "the way of the future." Y'all just need to read Jeff Mapes' book. As an illustration, I happen to know that one of the previous "anti-bike" poster's son is a bicycle advocate in L.A. Ha!

After a little reading up on 'politburo' and 'gosplans' of the former USSR, and the not-too-hard-to-imagine vison of the condo boxes taking over neighborhoods and starting to resemble suburbs of Moscow, the bumper sticker reading "People's Republic of Portland" maybe isn't a joke? Or is it?

(I can't believe I misspelt perpetrators above)

I don't especially like being told what to do but, I have to admit, deep down, I think planning's necessary.

Planning as a profession and separate, distinct "department" of government is largely a 20th century invention. Many American cities don't have a planning department, believe it or not. Somehow, they survive, build, provide services, balance their budgets, and deal with problems.

But in some cities--like Portland--planning is overdone ad nauseam. There's a social science bent to it that believes if only enough polls, measurements and statistics are extracted, then the Perfect City can be planned. But the problem I mentioned earlier--ideology--gets in the way of that.

And of course, this all skirts the issue of what really pulls many of the strings in government--money.

I think what bugs most people about urban planning in general is the ideological bent of it. There's a perception--often an accurate one--that the ideology is one pushed from the outside in. Few cities want to become "cosmopolitan" or "international" per se--they just want a strong, well-connected community that allows them to live their lives.

..simply because most people are "status quo seekers."

This kind of thinking--that somehow people are all "rational" and seek always their own self-interest first--has been disproven time and time again. Yet it's the cornerstone of Capitalism.

Commuting in the inner eastside this morning, I noticed that essentially every street is being worked on at once. That isn't really much of an exaggeration.

Another hilarious observation this morning: coming down Sandy, towards downtown, where they tore up the big five-way intersection, and replaced it with a new block.

On this new block where Sandy now ends, a fairly sizable homeless camp has popped up. It's very noticable, dead ahead as you come down Sandy. Is that the new "lynchpin" they were looking for?

Planning is absolutely necessary. Look at any of the examples of ancient water delivery systems. Finite space/resources + population growth = planning. To say "urban planning has a short memory" is nonsensical. I agree that the city should be able to plan a flippin bike path without a consultant, but a private side consultant is probably more efficient, sine they have to bid competitively, etc. Portland actually has a pretty sophisticated vehicle network. And there are some very good reasons to incentivize bike riders. I think European models are worthy, as they've been around a lot longer in far more cramped spaces that here in the US. And, $185K isn't that much, really...

Look at any of the examples of ancient water delivery systems.

You're using "planning" in its most general meaning. That's not what "urban planning" is, per se. And those Roman viaducts, for example? They were "planned" and implemented by engineers with slave labor.

Finite space/resources + population growth = planning.

Except when they don't, as I've said. a quick search will clarify for you how many cities don't employ a planning department.

but a private side consultant is probably more efficient, sine they have to bid competitively, etc.

Wrong on both counts. Private consultants are more expensive in the short *and* long term, and many public projects are not "competitively bid". That's a common fallacy.

I think European models are worthy, as they've been around a lot longer in far more cramped spaces that here in the US.

Europeans, ironically, tend to drive as much or more than Americans. And Amsterdam? Auto ownership there is at an all-time high--and the health and life expectancy of an Amsterdam resident is--gasp--about the same as the US average. Isn't that strange?

Bikes are a 19th century technology. They aren't going to solve our problems. People have real things to do. They have children. They have large things they need to haul for work or home. They place a certain value on their time.

Portlanders who are constantly goobing over their bikes are a priviledged class. They have the time and flexible lifestyle to bike everywhere. They can afford to live in the inner neighborhoods that make biking viable.

Recently, the cycling community was asking "why aren't more black people and other groups out biking?" Because it's for single 24-year-old yuppies, you nimrods. Open your eyes.

Speaking of budget: All those civillian clerical and administrative positions cut at the PPB wont' make that much of a dent when someone still has to do those tasks. Now we will still in effect lose sworn officers because who else will have to shore up the gaps for the missing staff? That's right. Trained officers behind a desk instead of on the street. = Same net effect.

I think we just need one discrimination lawsuit from someone disabled - or who claims the city is somehow violating ADA - to end this madness.

Recently, the cycling community was asking "why aren't more black people and other groups out biking?" Because it's for single 24-year-old yuppies, you nimrods. Open your eyes.

That won't help when your head's up your...

I'm doing some planning, too – to move the hell out of the COP and take my employees and my payroll, my fat property tax bill and unnecessarily bloated water/sewer bill with me.

This is all a joke, right? Where's Alan Funt? Step out from behind the tree, Alan. Please.

Out here in Aloha (Kinnaman between SW 198th and 209th) the lack of curbs, sidewalks and bike lanes makes any non-car commute hazardous to your health so I support non-car choices for short trips; right now it's in the car all the time for me and I wish it was not.

However the key word is CHOICES; meaning you make biking and walking MORE attractive by providing the needed infrastructure, not by making driving LESS attractive.

Cars get you where you need to be faster than bikes and they shield you from the weather.

And $185 K for a consultant eff that.

'people have real things to do'
ah snards , if those real things are driving to big box stores to
buy plastic things from china , or drive your kid across town to 'play dates' , those are not Real Things. We played on our block as kids , climbing trees and such , and yes we rode our bikes , to our friends homes.
I see dozens of young parents a day in NW riding to kid's school , grocery store , and even to the pub ! It would be cool if you all would stop bitching about bikes , and thank them for being One Less Car in your way , polluting your lungs. Your car is MUCH more heavily subsidized than any other mode , do you have to have all the money.

billb, please please improve me! I want to live the life that YOU think is best! Make me a better person, Bill!!!

I would much rather have one more car in my as opposed to one more bike in my way.

It will be awarded to Alta in all likelihood. Mia Burk used to work at the City. Why are there no revolving door restrictions on consultants?

Urban planning, at its core, is behavior modification...

Yes, it is, and when planning mandates a life-style change that only the better-off can afford, in a country where 'people vote with their feet' it turns into nothing more than shameless demographic engineering, sadly, something Portland has some historical experience with.

With a current city government that sees the Columbia River as its private Berlin Wall, and Portland east of I-205 more and more turning into a 'relocation zone', the only thing that will stop this madness is either a massive Federal civil rights or an ADA lawsuit.

if those real things are driving to big box stores to buy plastic things from china

The largest manufacturer of bikes coming to America is China and SE Asia. This includes nearly every "American" bicycle company. The majority of bicycles in America were sold at "big box" stores.

and thank them for being One Less Car in your way , polluting your lungs.

The several hundred thousand tons of aluminum and steel going into bicycle manufacture decimate forests and streams in South America, Asia and America, pollute the air, extract finite resources, and create centuries-long ecological problems.

Just like cars.

But I'm guessing you don't have a problem with that--because bikes are "less bad" than cars, right?

"those are not Real Things."

Glad we have billb to tell us what is real and what isn't.

Actually, ecohuman, quite a few bike frames are US made, including some rather nice, high-end ones from smallish outfits right here in Oregon: Burley, Co-Motion, LandShark, to name a few. And yes, there really is no difference between 2 lb of metal going into a bike frame, than 2,000 lb (and more) going into a car. That's really a compelling point. I suppose, too, the methane produced by a cyclist bears comparison with a car's exhaust.

Really, people. For those who choose to do it, biking is practical, cheap, healthy and environmentally benign. For those who don't, having some people on bikes is a demonstrably positive contribution to the problem of congestion on the roads, and thus an indirect benefit to motorists. Both groups benefit when efforts are undertaken to make biking more attractive. That says nothing, of course, about the idea of making driving less attractive, or the idea of hiring consultants to work for public servants at taxpayer expense, neither of which is so self-evidently a Good Thing.

billb, ""It would be cool if you all would stop bitching about bikes , and thank them for being One Less Car in your way"

Sure but that has nothing to do with the problem.

The role of bikes in out transportation system is entirely infinitesimal.

Yet we are witnessing an irrational exuberance which inflates it's role to mean more than it does or ever will.
Meanwhile, as the pretending rolls along, our planning is being crafted and policies implemented according to that fantasy role of bikes.

All the talk about "encouraging" more bike use through policies and more bike infrastructure is not going to lead to Portland becoming Amsterdam.
Outside of the central core it's even more irrational to anticipate anything but relative rare use of bikes for anything other than recreation.

The idea that these few bikes are reducing congestion is preposterous.

Even the greater numbers of bikes in the central city, crossing the bridges or in use downtown have no effect on congestion at all.
Only through creative figuring with every bike replaced with another car and all being driven at the same time could any case be ginned up for their impact on congestion. And that's ridiculous.

It's one thing to accomodate bike use to a reasonable level.

But taking anything to radical excess is foolish.

What is hilarious is that the "planners" forgot the history of the automobile.

The "planners" would like you to believe that big oil went to the government, got permission to buy up all the streetcar lines just to shut them down, then forced the government into building massive freeways, so that our only "alternative" (to use their buzzword) is to drive. As a result, the long distance train went kaput and had to be rescued by Amtrak (itself designed to shut down within five years).

What really happened was that the citizenry was so fed up with the railroads which had a near monopoly on most long distance travel (and when I say "long distance" I mean more than a couple miles), unless one happened to have access to a riverboat system. The "alternative" was horse-and-buggy, but that didn't really work for a trip more than a couple miles. It worked for farm-to-market but that was about it. Need to go to the "city" to see the Doctor? You went by train. Need to go to the bank? You went by train. Family? Train. And you were at the mercy of the railroad that served your town, and the railroad's schedule, and the railroad's service.

The first automobiles were toys for the rich and famous; common folk didn't have them. Too expensive, too often broke down. Until Henry Ford came about, and finally a car that anyone could afford.

Just one problem: The roads were those used by horses-and-buggies.

Oregon was the first state where VOTERS chose, in a free election, to tax themselves on the sale of gasoline to build roads. Other states followed. The citizens demanded roads. The governments complied. The railroads didn't see much need to improve service, until finally ridership began to drop.

One by one, railroads started buying up new equipment. Streamlined trains. Electric trains. The Southern Pacific replaced its old, once or twice a day steam train and rickety passenger equipment with the Red Electrics between Portland and Corvallis; the Spokane, Portland & Seattle built the Oregon Electric from Portland to Eugene. But the citizens didn't trust the railroads. U.S. Highway 99 was built - and 15 years later, the Red Electrics stopped running; the OE just a few years later. The rails remain to this day, carrying freight - but not passengers.

The Cascade and the Shasta Daylight are long gone; so are the City of Portland and the Portland Rose, and the "Pool Trains" and the North Coast Limited and the Great Northern Empire Builder. Not because of big bad oil, but because citizens were fed up with poor monopolistic railroad service. Fed up with fare increases. Fed up with late trains. Fed up with fewer connections. It could take weeks to get a reserved seat on some trains.

The "planners" want you to think that travel by train is romantic. Hardly. Yes, on the extra-fare trains where you could ride in a Pullman car, it was a nice trip. The average Joe didn't ride those trains; they rode trains with old, obsolete equipment; they often didn't have a dining car (and if they did, the staff were often surly); and trains made every stop, in every town, no matter how small. The "planners" want you to think that trains are all "high speed"; the reality is that most folk - even to this day in Europe - don't ride the "high speed" trains; they ride trains that function just like a TriMet city bus.

And the "Streetcar Conspiracy"? It's so full of lies, I'm surprised that the story still exists. (Let's just start with that "Big Oil" never owned the Red Cars of Los Angeles; the Red Cars (the former Pacific Electric system) was last owned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority - a government agency - which shut the system down; Portland's streetcar system stopped running a full decade before Los Angeles, and was NEVER owned by "Big Oil" (National City Lines) or any subsidiary or sister company to NCL. And the big federal lawsuit? NCL was found guilty of just ONE charge - conspiracy, with regards to monopolizing the purchase of buses from White Motor Company. The fine? $50. That's right. NCL was only found guilty of sourcing all of their buses from just one company, which happened to be a part owner, instead of allowing other companies to sell their buses to the company.

The "Planners" don't want you to know that.

The "Planners" want you to believe that the big bad railroads never existed; that rail is the only way to go, and we all should just get rid of our cars, and move into one of the new dense developments.

Which, of course, financially benefits the developers, who have direct ties to the "Planners". Which leads me to wonder if there's some kick-back arrangement, which would mean there is a conflict of interest...and if all of this urban renewal crap is nothing more than fraud, deceit, and scamming Average Joe.

Just like...Al Gore, and his Global Warming bunk. He's sure making money off of it.

Planners created highways and suburbia. Which is funny because generally the people who loathe Peal-District style planning *love* highways. "They" especially love the highways that steam rolled through beautiful urban neighborhood in every America city.

Urban planning is not a bad thing, nor is it a good thing. It's been going on for a long time, just its current form is fairly contemporary.

There's good and bad planning. You can't just look at all the bad examples and say all planning is bad.

Portland and the metro region is host to both, imo.

Why can't we just leave it at that?

Erik H.

That's an overly simplistic view of railroads in America.

Roads gained traction over the railroads because they became a public entity that did not have to pay taxes on its property or its holdings and rigged the "market" because railroads were and still are a private enterprise.

How can we effectively compare two modes of transportation if one mode pays property taxes on their land and one does not?

Besides land grants, freight rail has received little in terms of subsidies and is largely a private industry.

Still on the topic of freight, the trucking industry is heavily subsidized.

I would argue passenger rail would be much more developed today if we did not shut down and we let free-market forces dictate our economy.

Bikes are great - I ride mine to work when the weather is decent. Healthy, cheaper than gassing up my car - I have nothing against cycling. But this is ridiculous. Cars are not a choice, they are a necessity. People who work in Portland but live farther than they want to ride a bike, folks with children, people who don't want to be wet/smelly and don't work for someone with an on site shower/dressing room, etc. - cars are essential to the day to day lives of a majority of citizens, including myself (I'm not running my post-work errands on my Trek if it's pouring out, sorry Sam). This city is disgusting, all these "tolerant, progressive" policy makers who know what's best for everyone are going to keep running the quality of life here into the ground.

Some excerpted gems:
Background: The Vancouver/Williams couplet has been studied for infill development and for traffic safety.

Oh goody. Another develop-able couplet! For safety, of course, but maybe a bit of infill development{pork for condo weasels}.

A North Williams Business Association is in the process of forming and is interested in 'branding' Williams for bicycle use.
And the Business Association WANTS it! See, we really are Business Friendly
Of course, if the business association is composed of companies like Pedal Bike Tours on N Williams, it isn't like we'd be picking and choosing winners, now would we? Imagine, getting the city to drive customers past your bike business on your own bike branded thoroughfare, all on PDC's dime!

12th Avenue Banfield Overcrossing Bikeway Improvements
... bikeways all have bike lanes, but the overcrossing does not.
Background: Pedestrian impacts could be significant in this project.

Screw the drivers. They are just polluting the air anyways with their driving. PBOT should really mean Portland Bicyclists Over The Rest

N Willamette Boulevard Bikeway Improvements Background: Residents have previously appeared to lack interest in removing the on-street parking from this section of Willamette.

Translation, If we give you 185G, can you figure out a way to cram this down the throats of those neanderthals ?
And finally,

For the three study areas it is desirable to determine the feasibility of potential separated in-roadway bikeway designs in advance of developing design concepts to present to stakeholders and the public.

Who are the stakeholders and why do they come before the public who will be having the stake driven into the their wallets to pay for this stuff? Aren't we all stakeholders? Are some stakeholders more equal than others?

One last thing, I am not anti-bike, really, I used to commute by bike exclusively, until my children came along. I need to maximize my day for them and for me, and riding down Killingsworth in a rain storm with my asthmatic daughter just ain't gonna cut it.

If the mayor would just propose not tearing up the entire east side for the shiny unaffordable toys, and just fix the roads, add a touch of real capacity for cars. Just maybe, he could try making what we have more efficient.

This ain't SimCity 3000, Sammy. Unless, 3000 AD is when maybe the UR bill will be paid off.


What nonsense. We can't even have a conversation with you doing this.

You're equating the expansion of the highway system and pre Metro era of the 20th century to today's massive planning bureaucracies?

That's just BS and a lame attempt to defend the current regime as no more than historical planning.

The whole new urbanism, smart growth, TOD's, urban growth boundary, government central planning behemoth is an enormous regime

with all sorts of left wing political, social and environmental agendas driving it.

The insane cost, regulatory excess and foolish pursuit of their utopia at out expense is an outrage.

Why is it that you loyal central planning fans always talk theoretically.

We have been paying the enormous cost of Metro and many 100s of planners at other agencies such as the PDC to produce mountains of plans that deliver what they did not anticipate. And most often it benefits the fat cat shakers and movers that are called partners.

They aren't my partners. Are they your partners?

Stop talking in theories and point to what is actually worth spending millions more and repeating in the region.

From Gresham to Beaverton, SoWa to Wilsonville, Cascade Station to Hillsboro the examples of costly failed visions are many.

And it remains to be the money pit approach of throwing more money at old failures in hopes of arrival someday to that place.

Right now Metro and Gresham are still throwing millions at the centers and corridors they began 25 years ago trying to make it all work.

What is it all after all those years? Just another car oriented rat race suburbia. So what was all the massive planing and countless tax millions for?

Do I really need to drag you out of your theoretical world and walk you through each and every one the region's planning flops?

Yeah there's good and bad planning.

Kruse Way /0 tax money good - SoWa/ $100s millions bad

Charboneau/0 taxes- Villebois $100 million bad

I could go on and on of course but that's reality not theory.

Why can't we just leave it at that?

Because the waste of tax dollars is not affordable

Roads gained traction because of the freedom and flexibility of the automobile.

Your rail arguments above are too asinine to respond to.

And again that's why it's impossible to have a conversation.

You're too loopy.

There once was a Mayor named Sam,
Who hadn't met a scam he couldn't stand.
He sponsored them all,
To the great city's downfall,
And furthered the insiders' grand plan.

Go by credit instrument!

"Yes, "planning" is about getting people to do things they probably wouldn't do otherwise - simply because most people are "status quo seekers." I don't especially like being told what to do but, I have to admit, deep down, I think planning's necessary."

Yes, "planning" is necessary. However, one does not have to be inculcated with the warped philosophy of the degreed, credentialed planner types currently doing urban/city/land use planning in Oregon. The products of most of the public planning programs at our universities act more like members of a cult than wise public servants seeking to help enrich the lives of the citizens they serve.

Planning is a fundamental business function. Lots of people, with different philosophies and backgrounds, are capable of creating, overseeing the implementation of, and revising plans for our communities and municipal activities.

We would have much more practical and effective planning if Oregon governments would seek greater diversity in the skills and knowledge of the people performing this function.


I am grateful you continue to shine the bright light of truth on the hypocrisy and lies of our elected officials. If the Oregonian wasn't enabling these many abuses and shenanigans, they might have actually seen their readership increase.

If the European sovereign debt crisis isn't fixed in the next few days, I expect it to spillover into the U.S. municipal bond markets and select emerging markets.

What will the State of Oregon or CoP do if nobody wants to buy their bonds? The quasi-state agencies will be in a world of hurt when they see their funding cut in half. Ditto for all those non-profits/consultants/contractors that are dependent on government contracts or subsidies.


"What nonsense. We can't even have a conversation with you doing this.

You're equating the expansion of the highway system and pre Metro era of the 20th century to today's massive planning bureaucracies?"

Me doing what? 1950s highway-suburbia planning was far grander (and more of a top-down directive) than Metro/Portland style planning.

I think you should touch up on your history, unless you think Bragdon was/is more powerful than Robert Moses was during their respective tenures. The leveling and bifurcation of existing neighborhoods for the Federal Interstate system is largely known to people.

You do realize when you drive through North Portland on I-5 -- that used to be a neighborhood. The actions of these highway plans were far more impacting on neighborhoods than couplets, condos and street car lines will ever be.

My mere point was people railing against the entire planning profession because you disagree with the outcome is misguided anger.

Planning exists, has existed for some time and will continue to exist. That doesn't mean it will stay static, either. Its values will change and the profession will adapt accordingly.

I think if one provides a cogent argument as to why urban/regional planners are wrong, then your message is much more effective.

Planners are wrong all the time, but they are right in many ways, too.

It's been *Pin The Tail On The Donkey Taxpayer* though. Planners have been the court jesters in that charade -- alas, the joke's on the rest of us.

Go by free kick!

Some good points made. Thought I'd weigh in. This is what is so infuriating about Sam Adams- his reckless spending and quite frankly, robbing of the water bureau to fund his pet projects creates serious backlash against biking/bikers, most of whom do pay water bills, and are therefore just as impacted by his rash and crazy decisions.

I, for one, am super-irritated at his view that city bureaus that provide basic services that we MUST HAVE can be casually used as a sort of bank for this, that and the other. So please know I am no Sam Adams fan, in any way. He has absolutely no financial sense whatsoever.

I have 2 points.

1) I must pipe up and say that it is possible to bike, be a parent, buy heavy things, and get around without a car. We do not own a car and do all of the above with bikes. We do live in inner northeast, and work downtown. But we are by no means rich. HA. Far from it. The reason we are in the inner city is because we wanted to be close-in and so made the decision to buy a fixer-upper and live in it while we slowly fixed. I do truly mean fixer-upper.

We got to our car-free state sort of by default when our car got totalled. We then decided to try and do without it and see how it went. We found that a combo of biking, walking and the bus did fine. We also belong to Zipcar and use it a few times a month. We save a ton of money on gas, insurance and car payments and are in better shape than we would be if we still drove. And by the way, we are both 40 with a small child.

However, I am aware that a particular arrangement of events has made our car-free life possible- the fact that our commutes are possible without driving, that we live reasonably close to stores, and are healthy enough to be able to bike. Its not possible for everyone and it is unfair to think so. Which brings me to point #2.

I would much rather see public funds put into supporting and building up transportation that truly everyone can take, be they poor/disabled/in suburbia/etc. We already have it. Its called the bus. Its cheap and works great (when it works!) and is not being diminished and chipped away at. It goes nearly everywhere. You can access it even if you are disabled. I am in favor of making sure this lowly and non-glamorous way of getting around is truly supported BEFORE we support other forms of transportation that not everyone can access. Cars AND bikes fall into that category.

I am not saying that everyone should take the bus. Nor am I saying everyone should bike. I'm just saying lets make sure our most vulnerable citizenry- the ones that cannot access bike, nor car, because of poverty or disability- have transportation options before we fling "extra" money around.

If we really did have have "extra" money (which considering the state of our sewers we most certainly do NOT)how about putting that "extra" money into increased training and safety for trimet? How about extending its routes, and restoring them to where they once were?

I am aware that its a whole different budget stream and this is all a pipe dream. But in the government in my head, that's how it all should work.

I just have a sneaking feeling that the car/bike rivalry thing is a convenient distraction to focus on while our basic services get chipped away. Sorry this is so long.

Thanks, b.p.! Bus. That's what made Portland work, once upon time. Not the nitwits who drove down to work at city hall, ate cucumber sandwiches for lunch, and ordered around the street dept. and other folks who actually tried to do work that mattered to everyday Portlanders. It all started to go nutz when they barged in that hammered copper statute to put on Graves' teeny-windowed prison of a city hall.

Anymore, I think *Portlandia* is reaching down to pick up a quarter off the sidewalk.

Sad, sad, sad....


The whole bike versus car thing is tiresome. We need a crack bus service, electric bikes, electric cars, and lots and lots of segways, solar panels, radiant heat flooring, mondo insulation, and every plot of wasted space devoted to kitchen gardening.

Every time I think of the Gulf of Mexico, I get a clammy feelng in my gut. We need to dump every gaz-guzzling monstrosity into the pit at the end of time.

BOYCOTT GASOLINE, and don't even bother with bicycles, would be my motto.
Just need to come up with a rather large sum of money for the Nissan Leaf.

Sing the body coal or nuclear? We're f'd. *Civilization* has only had electricity for less than 150 yrs. What a bunch of Fahgahwees....but then....

"In other words, if you drive a car, we're going to make your life miserable."

Mission Accomplished!

Where's a picture of Bush in a flight suit when you need him?


The interstate highway system was (arguably) the single largest contributor to U.S. economic development in the past 60 years. To even mention it in the same paragraph as "couplets, condos, and streetcars..." is misleading. Even ignoring the direct economic impact, the mobility of labor is a good thing for working people, and those of us who enjoy driving to our vacation destination.

Progress will always have an impact, as will waste, fraud, and corruption. You prefer neighborhood integrity over freeway construction, but that debate ended 50 years ago, and you're side lost.

Here's one cogent example why "Planners are wrong": the OSHU Tram. Many on this blog predicted it would function as a giant Park & Ride for the Pill Hill campus, and we suggested the biotech jobs and affordable housing were merely a canard. We also knew the cost estimates were wildly understated, and we suggested the CoP would inevitably subsidize the operating/maintenance costs. Check, check, and check.

The committments made to the neighborhood (Gibbs Street Bridge, privacy from above, a park) remain unfulfilled. The new bus mall is also a disaster, especially if you need to drive on a multi-modal street and you're from out of town. PGE Park remodel: another huge waste of public funds. So the genius that is Sam Adams signs up to repeat this travesty with a larger budget and a more obscure league.

Disaster, piled upon disaster, all while the taxes/fees, water/sewer rates, and vacancies in Portland commercial R/E continue to rise. The planners are rearranging the deck chairs, and nobody sees the icebergs ahead.


Same old song.

Like I said, it's impossible to have a conversation with your ridiculous comparisons.
You also keep diverting into the canned rhetoric used to justify all of the current planning.

The installation of our interstate freeway system has no comparison to our current mixed use/rail transit/lunacy.
Again you don't refer to the actual plans and development we have witnessed from the planning regime.
Instead you try to turn the topic to sins of accommodating the automobile.

Citing the disruption of neighborhoods to put freeways in is not a valid comparison to the massive bureaucracies we have now and what they produce.

Next you'll be decrying the Glenn Jackson Bridge and 205 as a planner's debacle equal to the Round and SoWa?

I wonder how many people that decry the Interstate Highway System realize that the very computer they are typing on probably wouldn't exist without it.

There has been no greater force for technological and societal advancement than increasing speed of transportation of people and goods.

We got to our car-free state sort of by default when our car got totalled. We then decided to try and do without it and see how it went. We found that a combo of biking, walking and the bus did fine...We also belong to Zipcar and use it a few times a month.

Then you're not "car-free"--you just rent a car when you want to drive somewhere, and ride a bus too (which is a motor vehicle, and pollutes heavily since diesel bus exhaust is largely unregulated).

In other words, you bike sometimes. It's a nice option--I do it too.

I'm just saying lets make sure our most vulnerable citizenry- the ones that cannot access bike, nor car, because of poverty or disability- have transportation options before we fling "extra" money around.

I agree.

Roads gained traction over the railroads because they became a public entity that did not have to pay taxes on its property or its holdings and rigged the "market" because railroads were and still are a private enterprise.

Even if you use that argument, the railroads use vast amounts of public services - do you believe that railroads should get those services for free? That railroads should have unlimited police and fire protection, utility services - without paying property taxes for that service? Does Union Pacific Railroad have a fire department right here in Portland - where is it, and I want to see their fire trucks.

The highway system is public use; just like a park, library, or school - or even your beloved WES or MAX or Streetcar system. Do you argue that they should pay property taxes - after all, libraries have put a lot of book stores and video stores out of business. There used to be a lot more private schools. And many "gated communities" have private parks; in fact Lake Oswego has some private parks that are only open to its residents. When I drive a vehicle on a road, I pay a number of taxes that go to supporting that road. True, those taxes don't go to the Oregon State Police (which I don't agree with, but it was a voter approved measure back in the '70s) or the local fire department (the theory is that local residents see value in having their fire department respond to vehicle accidents which involve motorists taking advantage of businesses in the community which do pay property taxes).

And even still...Amtrak doesn't pay property taxes; shouldn't Amtrak therefore be profitable, especially since it's known that Amtrak does not pay its fair share of trackage rights? With all of the cost advantages Amtrak has, it SHOULD be profitable - but it can't even make money selling a 35 cent can of Pepsi for $2.00 in the cafe car. Likewise, TriMet should be raking in the dough because it has so many cost advantages (not to mention near monopoly power) compared to private bus companies.

The market is not "rigged" as you claim. Railroads, like all utilities, pay extensive property taxes. Look at PGE's or Pacific Power's financial statements. Look at Qwest's or Verizon's or Comcast's or Northwest Natural's statements. They are oftentimes the largest property tax payer (or in the top payers) in the counties that they operate in - just like the railroads - because they have extensive land holdings and fixed plant. Are you against the City of Portland - and other's - attempts to create citywide wireless networking to circumvent the incumbent telcos? Are you against the City of Portland's plan to install solar panels to encourage residents to get off the grid? You should be - you should be fervently against all attempts for the City of Portland to encourage free wireless networking AND solar power, because they are creating an unfair playing ground against the utilities - JUST AS YOU CLAIM THE HIGHWAY SYSTEM CREATED AN UNFAIR PLAYING GROUND AGAINST THE RAILROAD.

Jack thanks for looking out.

The INTERSTATE highway system was built to move military (and cars and freight) INTER cities--between cities.

The posters above ignore any alternative investments that might have been made--trains rather than tractor trailers; denser urban development rather than sprawled suburban development. Put simply, just because I invest a dollar in IBM and it is worth $1.20 later does not mean that investing that dollar in IBM was the best thing I could have done.

But that's beside the point, honestly. The posters above are glossing over what happened INTRA city, the massive destruction of urban neighborhoods in the name of urban renewal.

We could have easily had today's interstate highway system while at the same time retaining healthy urban neighborhoods. We did not--planners like Moses made clear choices when they hit cities.

It's misleading to equate what happened IN cities to what happened BETWEEN them.

Thank you, Paul G.

It was the intent of highways to go around cities. Eisenhower was absolutely appalled when he saw them actually level entire neighborhoods.

I'm not arguing against highways, but their implementation utilized more top-down planning than your local City of Portland planner. It's disingenuous in the name of US history to state otherwise.

Suburbia/highways is one giant social engineering project, just like street cars and bikes are.

paul and ws

We aren't ignoring anything.

Well maybe your fantasies.

Are you really this nuts?

Spit it out. Are you saying we would be better off if our freeways stayed out of our cities?

Out of all the wasted public money on "urban planning" it is weird that public spending on bicycles and bike lanes seems to draw the most fire at this site....compared to the street car, SoWa, Port of Portland, stadium scams, "urban renewal", etc........spending on bikes and bike lanes is nothing....and that supposed $600 million is an unfunded pipe dream spread over 30 years...not going to happen....

.....and as far as bikes being an inconvenience....WTF? how many times have you all been stuck in traffic? like every day? bikes are part of the traffic congestion solution......and FYI, critical mass is dead in this town...us bikers grew up, have jobs, and have better things to do anyways.....

I'll agree that the planners, consultants, leaches, and certain politicians have attached themselves to bikes and certain segments of the "bicycle community." I am not happy about this, it's given us a bad name and has set us up for the current backlash. I kinda liked biking in the 90s better...it was a little more low key....

anyhow...I'll chime in with those who would rather have our transportation dollars spent on busses....

you are right- the term, "car-free", is a bit of a misnomer. The correct term would be "free from the hassle of owning a car" but that's a bit of a mouthful, so the commonly accepted term is "car-free". But people who don't own cars certainly benefit from and use cars from time to time- they just aren't the primary conveyance. For daily getting around, we mostly bike.

Make no mistake, I have nothing against cars, I drove nearly daily for close to 20 years! I'm just pointing out that for us, not owning a car is great! My point in posting is to show it is indeed possible and for people in our boat- middle-aged parents who both work, buy heavy groceries, and so forth. We even hauled home a christmas tree a few months ago.

Before I ditched the car and tried it, I was one of those people who would say, "but we have a kid! Its impossible! Way too hard!" Trust me, I am not even a very sporty/athletic person.

So I have to push back a little when I hear people say that not using a car, and mainly biking, is an option for thin, unencumbered 24-year-olds. Take it from me, a slightly overweight, encumbered 40-something. Its a lot easier than it seems, otherwise, I wouldn't do it...I'm pretty lazy.

Erik H:

Most railroads have their own private railroad police, authorized and regulated at different state and federal levels:


No fire trucks that I know of. But even so, a simple car accident draws the usage of the fire engine in most cities. What a waste of taxpayer dollars considering user fees for automobiles do not go towards police and fire protection, which autos are at the trough for.

In a fair world, fires caused by trains would be repaid to public agencies and accidents caused by autos would be repaid by gas-tax user fees -- not property taxes.

Amtrak does actually pay indirect property taxes. It has to pay fees on the private railroad lines it operates on. I'm not going to hold Amtrak up as a beacon of service because they are in an unfair market, too.

Comparing electric/phone utility companies is different. Railroads are competing with highways (which do not pay taxes on their holdings).

Other utilities are competing with one another -- which all pay taxes on their holdings. If Comcast had to pay taxes on their property and Verizon didn't, then that would be unfair.

And that's the exact situation with railroads and highways. We create unnecessary congestion on our highways to suit the trucking industries' lobby, and make railroads compete in an unfair market.

If you can't see the glaring uncompetitive nature of our transportation market, then I don't know what to tell you.

The rest of your comment is one giant red herring. You always bring up non-entities to distract from the topic at hand for some odd reason.

Its a lot easier than it seems, otherwise, I wouldn't do it...

Yes, it is...when the conditions you have are in place. The entire urban economy, however, is largely dependent on job that require a significant commute. Only a fraction of Portland job are downtown and in the inner east side. You live in the inner east side--and I'm guessing tht you work either there or downtown.

So, in fact--it's not easy at all for the majority of Portland residents, even those living in the city's core. It's a myth that it is. I'm all for those in the core driving less. I do. But extrapolating that "lifestyle" onto the rest of the city, and making it an explicit part of policy, is a fantasy of local government based on little reality.

Does this mean I'm "pro car"? Not really. I'm "pro ecology", if anything. Urban environments aren't sustainable in their current form; I think focusing on transportation modes is like arguing which deck chair--reclining or straight back--is most comfortable on the Titanic. The entire paradigm needs changing. Bikes aren't going to do that, or even be a meaningful part of it. They rely on the paradigm to exist.

it is weird that public spending on bicycles and bike lanes seems to draw the most fire at this site....compared to the street car, SoWa, Port of Portland, stadium scams, "urban renewal", etc.....

You really don't know what you're talking about.

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