Monday, May 26, 2008

Views from the Burnside Bridge

I had to take the car into the shop and once there, I walk across the Burnside Bridge to work.  
As I took a look over Interstate 5, I was shocked at how many people were using the facility and the scope of how large it was as compared to the Bike facilities. It is an amazing decision to build something so large and perhaps we don't have that same fortitude to build something like this in Portland because of the environmental issues that are associated with the road building.  
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Green Bike Lanes in Brooklyn

We came across these bike lanes in Brooklyn on our trip to the Five Boro Ride. With all of the excitement over the bike boxes in Portland, it was great that we came across these walking from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Museum or Art.  
There was nothing special about the intersection treatments other than the approach was green. It seemed like a little bit of a strange application on this neighborhood street.  
Why are they green? The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) preferred green as opposed to the blue that Portland used in the initial study because blue is reserved for Americans with Disabilities.  
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I-5 Columbia River Crossing Project Article in Willamette Week

It is great that Portland has such an integrated transportation/environment to media system. It seems like every three weeks there is a huge article on the issues. It is great to see that the concept of induced traffic is alive and well. Although I don't agree with the concept like I used to. I think it is more like a system. Increased road capacity leads to land use patterns that utilize that capacity, i.e. people buy homes that are to their liking (reasonable commute, land for the kids to play, "safer" communities, newer parks, nice schools that leave the poor neighbors behind, lower taxes because they don't pay for the infrastructure like museums/libraries/Convention Center if owned by the City/etc, further from their work because the commute isn't that bad, and then later when it gets bad the community asks for improvements so that they don't have to move.

So at the end, you have travel that increases not because of the additional capacity persay, but rather becuase of the land use that follows the roadway capacity. The challenge is you need a certain amount of capacity to address freight and other important societal needs. I am not sure what the right answer is, I guess it would have to be improve the bridge, but make sure there is high speed transit and auto capacity (properly priced), and of course bicycle facilities.

Anyway, here's the excerpt: In fact, if you build it, however, they will drive…more.

There’s a concept transportation planners call “induced travel,” which means more road capacity results in more traffic.

While the precise relationship between capacity and demand remains under debate, CRC figures show if a new bridge were built without tolls, the number of people crossing the Columbia would increase dramatically, versus the no-build option. Figures show that without tolls, a new bridge would carry 225,000 passengers a day by 2030, while the current bridges, if left in place, would carry only 184,000. The difference of 41,000 is the “induced travel” generated by the newly built capacity.

If, as the task force proposes, the new I-5 bridge is tolled, and an adjacent light-rail, bicycle and pedestrian bridge is built, that combination would reduce traffic by 47,000 car trips, leaving only a small net reduction—6,000 trips from the no-build scenario (see chart below).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fight Global Warming with PediCabs

I saw this in NYC and thought it was a nice way to send a message with the right medium. Rather than advertising on a taxi cab, why not be part of the solution with your marketing. If only everyone thought this way, we'd be in a lot better shape.

I must admit though, I likely miss things that I could be doing better and then there is always conflicting advice. The best resource on this topic that I have seen is the book written by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
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Friday, May 16, 2008

World Carfree Conference

I have been helping organize a few sessions at the World Carfree Conference in Portland. The program is coming together and I have nice flashbacks to the ITE conference that I hosted last year.

Monday, May 12, 2008

American Commuting Patterns and Travel Trends

An excerpt from the Transportation Research Forum.

Alan E. Pisarski, Author of Commuting in America III
Feb. 13, 2008

Alan Pisarski's remarks were based in large part on the third edition of this book Commuting in America III, published in 2006. People travel on the earth's surface for many reasons – to get to work, go on vacation, transport freight, and provide private and government services (power, water, police protection, etc.). Commuting is a shrinking part of surface transportation. Daily trips to work have not increased per capita since 1975, while family/personal business trips have doubled and school/church trips have increased.

Three major trends will define future commuting.

Replacing the baby boomers in the workforce – Where will the workforce come from?
Continued expansion of metro areas – the doughnut metro with the focus on the suburbs
An affluent time-focused society – we value our time at $50 an hour and the value of goods moved triples.
Mr. Pisarki's listed his "Top 10" factors that will shape commuting:

#10 – Single-occupancy vehicle travel growth slows: It's currently about 80%, but trend-setting metro areas such as Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Phoenix, and Atlanta have shown drops in single-occupancy vehicle travel

#9 – Regional swings in carpooling and transit use from 1990 to 2000: Carpooling dropped dramatically in the Northeast, but grew by a large margin in the West. Transit use declined slightly in three regions, but increased in the West.

#8 – The growth of automobile ownership among African-Americans: From 1990 to 2006 the percent of African-Americans owning automobiles rose from 70 percent to 80 percent

#7 – Immigrant roles and patterns: Immigrants make up only 14 percent of workers, but have an impact on certain commuting modes. Carpooling is popular with immigrant communities, but drops off the longer they live in the United States. They are also more likely to use mass transit.

#6 – Older workers: while the percent of people over 55 who are still working is going up, many work from home. After 55 more people start taking alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles.

#5 – Increases in extreme commutes (longer than 60 minutes): In 2005 10 million people took longer than 60 minutes to get to work. Major population center states such as New York, New Jersey, and California ranked in the top 10 in longest average commute, but West Virginia, Louisiana, and Mississippi were also in the top 10.

#4 – The "donut" metro: The largest job growth has been in the suburbs. The largest percent of commutes are within suburbs. In addition 7.5 million people commute to the suburbs both from central cities and another 7.5 million from rural areas and exurbs to the suburbs.

#3 – Continuing growth of working at home: This is one of only two "modes" of commuting (the other being driving alone) that has shown continuous growth since 1980. Today working at home includes 4 percent of workers.

#2 – Workers out before 6 a.m.: The rush hour spreads out as a larger percent of people start from home before 6 a.m., and the percent that commute between 6 and 9 a.m. shrinks.

#1 – Increase in workers leaving their home county to work: More than one-fourth of worker now leave their home county for work. The Washington, DC, metropolitan area leads the nation in this trend.

In response to a question, Mr. Pisarski said that there are huge forces working against mass transit growth: the spreading out of the population away from central cities, increasing wealth, aging population, and continued preference for automobiles.