Monday, January 26, 2009

Bicycling "Trash Talk"

Interesting dialogue regarding the debate about cyclists not paying their own way.

John Boehner, the Republican leader in the United States House of Representatives, made a rather unfortunate comment about the economic stimulus package currently being debated and cycling infrastructure on CBS's "Face the Nation" - a well-known political news program.

John Boehner states: “I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are necessary?” He stated. “But if we’re talking about beautification projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.”

You can see the segment on You Tube at 5:05

Unfortunate rhetoric regarding cycling from our country's leadership.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Greening the Games

Building off that last post, I almost forgot something I noticed on Friday as we were walking in Downtown Boise. The City is preparing for the Special Olympics World Winter Games and as a part of that event, they are asking that athletes and fans leave "no record on our environment". With the help of partners likeWal-Mart, Idaho welcomes international athletes to eat locally, ride green and recycle. Once again, I don't want to be too cynical, but I am really curious about what Wal-Mart is doing to make a difference in their stores. Green must be the new black in the marketing circles. It is interesting to see the condo development advertisement going up behind this, which is part of greening the City. Perhaps they can put a Wal-Mart in the ground floor of the building and give the City a supermarket for the residents they hope to attract.
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Marketing the Environment

  At the Annual Transportation Research Board meeting, I couldn't help notice the marketing associated with the environment. That and the Obama inauguration were the two big topics, could it be that they are related? Regardless, the first of the pictures is a campaign by Chevron entitled Will you Join Us? and centers on saving energy by biking, using less energy (unplugging computers?), going solar, etc. Is it just me that finds it strange to have big oil pushing this concept?
That being said, they are paying to advertise on transit, which helps WMATA pay for service and consultants, so I have to say thanks to Chevron, but I do so with a bit of a cynical perspective just wondering whether their intent is environmental or self-serving. There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that suggested that consumers (I consider my clients consumers of my services) are willing to pay for companies that they feel support the green cause.
  On the other hand, I saw these two banners in the subway that was designed to provoke the question, there's no such thing as clean coal. Here they have Chewbaca (or is this Bigfoot) holding a piece of coal. The alien is probably a clearer image, yet with the X Files still fresh in my mind I am not sure if they're not real.
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DC Bike Share

While at the TRB meeting, I had a meeting with DDOT to discuss the Transit Signal Priority project we have been reviewing for WMATA and I stumbled upon one of the Bike Stations that DC has set up as a rental system. This is set up to mimic what Paris did with the Velib.
  I heard several criticisms of where the stations are and about the bikes, but you know what I can't criticize. I am glad they went ahead with it. It is brought to the City by Clear Channel and I am not sure of what the relationship is (did the City pay them for this?), but all things considered, if it gets people on bikes, I am supportive of the concept.
  That being said, I think there membership is a bit prohibitive, especially for visitors which seems to be a nice market, so I hope they review that part of the system.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Portland's New Leadership

I attended the new mayor's inauguration party on Monday and you know the leadership is going to be different when the entertainment begins with March Fourth (the performance marching band) and followed up by the singing of Storm Large, and Luis from Sesame Street accompanied by the piano of Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini. They sang a song from Sesame Street which was a little surreal. This was followed by a performance by Wanderlust Circus and their self described freaks.

The promise of the next 100 days looks good, there will be a definite focus on transportation and I am looking forward to being a part of it.


1. Develop a four-year strategic vision for Portland’s transportation investments and infrastructure
a. Appoint a Transportation Cabinet
b. Initiate development of a strategic transportation investment plan as a component of the Portland Plan
c. Advocate for federal stimulus package
d. Conduct a snow and ice storm readiness assessment for the city and region; develop a plan of action for future efforts and investment
e. Provide leadership and support to secure passage of a transportation funding package at the State Legislature
2. Expand Portland’s transit network to provide transportation options and leverage development opportunities
a. Identify the local funding match necessary to secure federal funds for the Milwaukie to Portland light rail line
b. Release the draft of city-wide Streetcar System Plan
c. Advance the funding and development of a new Eastside Streetcar line
3. Enhance the safety and accessibility of bicycling for everyone
a. Announce the release of an updated Bicycle Master Plan for the city
b. Unveil the City’s first Cycle Track in a high-visibility, high-use location to promote safety and increase bicycle use
c. Identify 15 miles of Bicycle Boulevards for implementation in 2009
d. Complete the next link in the Bike Boulevard network on N Wabash, connecting N Willamette Blvd to the bike path along the Columbia River
e. Deliver on-street bike parking corrals in four or more high-demand locations
4. Improve safety and mobility on Portland’s roadways
a. Promote state legislation to give cities jurisdiction over speed limits within city limits
b. Identify funding for high-priority arterial paving projects
c. Support a Columbia River Crossing bridge project that truly serves Portland’s needs and interests
i. Achieve a high-quality, aesthetically appealing bridge design that is appropriate for Portland’s “front door”
ii. Secure world-class bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on (and accessing) the bridge
iii. Ensure the bridge supports the city’s land use and transportation goals as set out in the Portland Plan
d. Prioritize projects that offer high-impact improvements for moving freight
5. Showcase “green” transportation technologies
a. Develop a “Get Charged Portland” strategy to increase electric car availability and use

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year, New Challenges for Transportation

It's the first day of the new year so it is a good opportunity to think about new opportunities, challenges, and the hope of a new day. Having read Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat made me a fan of his thinking about the world. I was wondering about the new book and I scooted over to because Tom Urbanik mentioned he read his new one. Last week, I read his editorial page submission in the Oregonian on Christmas Day. He stressed the importance of training teachers, educating scientists and engineers, paying for research and building the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure — without building white elephants in this new stimulus package. His final point was that John Kennedy led us on a journey to discover the moon and that Obama needs to lead us on a journey to rediscover, rebuild and reinvent our own backyard.

Just when I didn't think I could agree with an article more, he comes up with this one: Very impressive thinking for just one week. So Thomas gets a link on the blog.