Several important details of the Cincinnati Streetcar came into focus in recent weeks. Included is a component of the operating agreement that will take advantage of rising property values in funding the system.
New York magazine examines the latest wave of skyscraper development in New York City for the possibility that they might embody the highest outcomes of form and function.
After a failed attempt to increase the fuel tax, itself a form of carbon tax on gas and diesel sales, Gov. Jay Inslee seeks to use revenue from carbon permits purchased by stationary sources in a new cap-and-trade program to pay for transportation.
Washington D.C. is ready for a change in parking policy. The District Department of Transportation announced plans, so far mostly conceptual, to launch the parkDC value pricing system next summer.
A peak under the hood at "Ground Truth"—the operation behind Google Street View.
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In between the airport connectors and mixed-traffic streetcars are some public transit proposals that would be potentially high-performing. This is a list of potential lines in the US that don’t get nearly the exposure that they deserve. The basic rule of this post is that if it’s being built, or is on an official urban […]
In part one of a two-part series, I introduce MoMA's latest Issues in Contemporary Architecture exhibit and offer a definition of Tactical Urbanism.
SPUR didn't give a grade to the Bay Area on housing affordability in its most recent issue of The Urbanist, but it does provide a thorough overview of the current and ongoing efforts to make housing more affordable in the region.
The non-partisan Eno Center for Transportation has had it with futile attempts to raise the federal gas tax and the never-ending transfers (bailouts?) from the federal general fund to keep roads and transit funded. "Pay as you go" no longer works.
The new TOD Index provides solid information on Transit-Oriented Development impact and benefits. It indicates that home values near rail stations outperform the national market, yet they are also more affordable for residents.
Who wouldn’t want the many benefits that a thriving digital workforce can bring? Growing wages, agile thinking, and jeans and ping pong in the office! Oh, but wait...
Traffic on SE Clinton.(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)
As we wrote beneath the last Comment of the Week post, BikePortland has decided to be the only blog we’re aware of that pays for great comments. The person whose thoughts we select for this feature gets a crisp $5 bill in the mail, as a way for us to appreciate the site’s amazing discussion community. So watch your email — we might be in touch.
Street safety matters to cities. So does street comfort. But only one of those issues will land you in court.
That’s the insight shared this week by BikePortland reader paikiala, responding to the discussion on Wednesday’s post about a guerrilla traffic diverter installed on Clinton by anonymous activists.
Paikiala, who often weighs in with thoughts about a city’s perspective, was responding to another reader who asked why “safety issues” stemming from Clinton’s high auto traffic hasn’t awoken the city’s fear of a lawsuit.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
Here’s paikiala’s data-rich reply:
You’ll need to clarify what the safety issues are, or perhaps you mean the fear of safety issues? There is no need to worry, because frequently the City is sued regardless of the events of a collision simply because of the deep pockets and distribution of responsibilities that typically result from trials. This is also why the City, prudently, negotiates settlements to avoid going to trial. That said, much of PBOT’s efforts go into making roads safer.
‘Safety’ is a subjective word. In the last ten years there have been twelve reported bike involved crashes on Clinton between 12th and 50th, representing 12% of the reported crashes. Of those 12, 7 (58%) were blamed on motorist errors while 5 (42%) were blamed on cyclist errors – all crashes involved injury to cyclists.
Clinton has been retrofitted more than once (three times in the last 20 years) to alter the patterns and behavior of users. This process is happening all over the city on an annual basis where problems are occuring as resources permit. Citizens of portland see their local street or commute problems, while City workers see the problems of the City as a whole. The perspective is different.
What guidance are you citing? If you mean the most recently adopted ideal plan, true. But most streets fail to meet new policy every time new policy is adopted. It takes time to massage current systems into the new paradigm.
Lastly, regardless of those that say ‘do both’, daily PBOT front line staff is faced with choices. Say you’ve got $80k today to do what you want with for traffic safety in Portland. Do you add 2-5 diverters on a single greenway (that’s not so bad), or do you add one rapid flash beacon ped crossing (without refuge island) on a busy road in east Portland? You choose, and be prepared to defend your choice in court.
America’s tradition of litigation has been a huge shaping force behind the scenes of our society. Sometimes that’s for the better and sometimes it’s not. But as the bicycle advocacy priorities in this country have shifted further from safety and closer to comfort, it’s clear that there are some things litigation may no longer be able to help with.
The post Comment of the Week: Lawsuits, the quiet pressure behind city decisions appeared first on BikePortland.org.
Kyle Carlson.(Photos by M Andersen/BikePortland)
Kyle Carlson was a couple hundred feet up the hills of Northwest Portland when he mentioned he used to ride all the way home without switching out of his biggest front gear.
“I compromised,” he said. “Now I just never use my smallest gear.”
Carlson, an electrical engineer for Daimler Trucks North America, might have the most intense bike commute in the country’s bikingest state. After rising at 4 a.m. on summer mornings in his family’s Hillsboro subdivision, this single father of three bikes 26 miles to work on his Marin 29er hybrid. Then he bikes 26 miles home.
During the rainy months, he takes it easier on himself, rides only three days a week, and sticks to a 19-mile route — though that one heads directly over the West Hills.
“I like my heart beating,” he says.
Carlson is not, in general, a wordy man. His habits tend to speak for themselves.
Another of his habits: As part of his “5:2 diet,” on two days a week he eats only 600 calories total. He currently does this on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These are also days that Carlson bikes to work, a task that he says requires about 2,500 calories.
It’s easier than you’d think, he says.
This year, a whole month of 52-mile daily round-trip commutes were enough to net him the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s annual prize for the most miles of any participant in the statewide Bike Commute Challenge. Here’s a map of his summer commute, which he takes every weekday of September in honor of the BCC:
And here’s his winter route:
On a Tuesday last month, I joined Carlson for the shorter of those two. We started at 4 p.m. at the secure bike parking area that Daimler added to its parking lot last year. Carlson said the quality and visibility of the structure has been a big factor in the rapid growth of biking at Daimler.
“In September, it was all full,” he said.
A bike had been Carlson’s main transportation when he was a teen in small-town Idaho. He rediscovered bike commuting as an adult while working for Boeing in Seattle.
“Only 16 round trip,” he said, “no big deal.”
Still, it was enough exercise for him to lose some weight at the time. That caught his attention. He moved to Wichita for a while, then back to the Northwest for the job at Daimler Trucks’ North American headquarters in Portland.
“When I started getting overweight again, I was like, you know, riding a bike worked last time,” he recalled. “And then the Bike Commute Challenge happened and it all just kind of clicked together.”
“The first day I rode, I rode a mile to the MAX,” Carlson said. “The next day I said, ‘I bet I could ride my bike from the Rose Quarter to Swan Island.’”
Each week, Carlson would get off the MAX one stop further from Swan Island.
The turning point came a few Septembers ago. Daimler, working with the Swan Island Business Association, had set up a map for employees to indicate where they lived in order to share commutes. Carlson decided to see if he could find a biking buddy for the long ride.
“I put my pin in,” Carlson said. “And a couple days later, I got an email that was like, ‘Howdy, neighbor.’”
The email was from Steve Taylor, a stranger who happened to live less than a mile from his house and had the same yen to ride. It was after the two started biking in together that Carlson was able to get religious about his commute.
Taylor’s company helped most, he said, when he was lying in bed in the dark, early in the morning.
“If I don’t get up, I’ve got to call him, got to let him know,” Carlson would tell himself. “We just started inspiring each other.”
Taylor and Carlson still ride together sometimes. They’ve taken bike tours together, too, and shown “three or four” other people the way to bike in from Hillsboro.
“When people are looking for something to do and they see people riding, it just kind of clicks sometimes,” Carlson said.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
Carlson said Daimler’s rapid growth in biking — last year, the company led the state in new Bike Commute Challenge participants — has been driven by heavy staff turnover that followed a buyout during the recent recession.
“That brought in a much younger crowd, and it just fueled the surge in riding,” he said. “46 new riders. That’s crazy. In one year!”
Carlson’s own homeward commute from Swan Island involves navigating a couple of the industrial area’s parking lots…
…and up Going Street’s wide sidewalk, which was greatly improved in 2010.
Carlson said he used to illicitly ride the private Cement Road to Swan Island but stopped after taking a spill and realizing. He also switched, at some point, from taking the mixed uphill traffic lane on Going, shared with semi trucks, to taking the sidepath.
“I just thought, I’m a single parent,” he said.
At the top of the hill, Carlson likes to vary his route a bit. We took the Michigan Avenue neighborhood greenway down to Interstate…
…and over the flyover to the Broadway Bridge.
I asked Carlson for his advice on extreme commuting. Some tips from his experience:
Get a bike fitting. Carlson got one during the most recent Bike Commute Challenge. “That was amazing,” he said. “You may think you’re comfortable. A bike fitting is the best way to check.”
Choose where to put the cushion. “You either get the padded shorts or the padded seat. You don’t do both.” Carlson opts for the seat.
Gear up. Carlson wears Showers Pass rain pants and jacket in the winter. He always rides with water, a spare tube, a glueless tube patch kit, a bike multitool, a general Gerber multitool, brake pads, a shifter cable, a brake cable, a small pump and tire levers.
Keep building the music collection. Carlson listens to his Zune music player most of the way. He’s used a series of “10 free songs” cards to build a library of 300 to 400 songs &mdash “everything but classical” — which he said is enough for his needs.
Teach the kids to cook. Carlson’s youngest is 14, something he says has been important to his ability to bike-commute. He’s got each of the three cooking the family one meal a week.
Over the West Hills and through the multi-use paths along Sunset Highway and onto the bike lanes that line Washington County’s wide roads, Carlson sees few others riding, at least during the rainy months.
It’s a long ride, but Carlson is in good spirits as he nears his neighborhood. Next year, he’s thinking he’ll finally buy a new bike, possibly a Surly Long Haul Trucker or maybe a cargo bike, and head on the longest trip of his life: seven weeks across the country.
He’s also thinking next summer will be the time he hits his target weight, 200 pounds. That’s down from 320 before he started to ride.
“I made kind of this deal with myself,” he said. “If I get myself to 200 pounds, I’ll get a tattoo.”
A few years after that, his kids will be out of high school and he’ll start thinking about moving. I told him I assumed he’d finally move closer to Swan Island at that point.
Carlson shook his head slightly.
“I’m not sure I’ll move closer,” he said. “I’m thinking I might move a little farther out.”
“Who knows?” he said. “I might go on a trip and say, ‘I’m done with this.’ I might walk to work.”
The post The Friday Profile: Kyle Carlson, Daimler Trucks’ 52-mile-a-day iron man appeared first on BikePortland.org.
Bike lanes are hot right now in cities all over the country. As more and more cities build more and more miles of bike infrastructure, which projects are exemplary?
National Geographic details the effects of the "Minute 319" agreement that will return water to the Colorado River Delta.
The person in the truck was legally required to turn left at this intersection; but a weak design — coupled with a bad decision by the vehicle’s operator — led to an abrupt merge in tight quarters with other road users.(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
Now that construction of the North Williams Safety Project has nearly wrapped up, it’s time to address how specific parts the new design are working — and how they’re not. There are several issues I plan to look into in the coming weeks. The first is a driving behavior and design concern we’ve observed between N. Knott and Stanton. These are the two blocks where Williams is split due to a median diverter island installed many years ago to decrease the amount of Legacy Emanuel Hospital visitors from driving through the neighborhood.
Even before the big redesign of Williams that took the right-side bike lane and put it on the left side, this location was always a tricky pinch-point. The new design has done nothing to make it better. While the pinching effect of the median is not as bad (and bicycle riders no longer have to deal with a bus stop), the northern part of this section — at Stanton on the south side of Dawson Park — has gotten much worse.
The good news is that we’ve just heard from the Bureau of Transportation that they’re aware of the issue and some fixes are on the way.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
The issue here is that the left standard lane is supposed to be for left turns only (like other sections in the new design where there are two standard lanes). PBOT’s intention was that people would only use the left lane if they wanted to turn left onto Graham or on Stanton. Unfortunately, the design is not strong enough and it fails to communicate proper use.This is all you see approaching the split. It’s not clear the left option is left-turn only.
What happens in reality is that many people use the left lane to swoop by other people when there’s a back-up, or they simply use it because it’s there. Then, as they get to Stanton, instead of turning left (west), they try to merge back into the right lane. This behavior is not only illegal, it’s also dangerous.
At Stanton, the bike lane goes from being curbside to being to the right of a curbside parking lane. This transition puts the bike lane directly in the path of people who suddenly realize they want to continue straight. The illegal merging at Stanton from the left lane to the right lane puts drivers directly in conflict with bicycle riders in the bike lane.
Also adding to the stress at this intersection are many people who illegally nose their vehicles out from Stanton in an effort to find their place in Williams traffic. That behavior forces other road users to leave the bicycle lane — putting them in even more direct conflict with people using the left standard lane (as seen in the image below).View of Williams looking south from Stanton. Another view of Williams looking south from Stanton.
After seeing this problem several times myself and hearing about others with similar concerns, I reached out to Williams project manager Rich Newlands.
Newlands said he was “definitely” aware of the issue. “We realized some time ago that what is in place does not communicate the approaching forced left at Stanton strongly enough, and hence through traffic ends up abruptly cutting back to the right.”
That was nice to hear. But even better, is that PBOT is already on the case. Newlands said there’s a contract change order pending that will do a few things aimed at more strongly communicating the left-turn-only mandate at Stanton.
Here’s what PBOT is doing to fix the problem:
- Two more left turn arrow pavement markings will be added in advance of the existing one (which is right at Stanton).
- Two more signs that will say “THRU TRAFFIC MERGE RIGHT”.
- They’ll extend the existing 8-inch lane striping for the left turn pocket.
These changes should be installed any day now. If they don’t work and the illegal driving behaviors continue, Newlands said PBOT, “has discussed going to a more physical barrier to eliminate the ability to cut back to the right at Stanton.”
Interestingly, what’s out on the street now does not mimic the plans in the project’s final report (published in August 2012). On page 16 of that report the left turn lane doesn’t start until north of Knott, which seems like it would make people less likely to think it’s a through lane. The design in the report also includes “left turn ONLY” pavement markings way before the median island and “shark’s teeth” yield markings which are not present in the final implementation.From Page 16 of PBOT’s Final Report: North Williams Traffic Safety Operations Project (August 2012).
I’ve asked PBOT for an explanation and will update this post when I hear back.
If you ride this stretch of Williams, please keep us posted on whether or not these changes help. Your feedback can help PBOT do what’s necessary to make sure bicycling conditions are as low-stress as possible.
The post PBOT hopes new signs, markings fix tricky Williams Ave intersection appeared first on BikePortland.org.
Aaron Renn responds to a column in the Kansas City Star lamenting the political inequities of Kansas City's urban setting relative to nearby rural communities.