Monday, October 31, 2011

Traffic Engineers Dismissing Cycletracks

I am working on a response to this letter to the Editor posted in the October 2011 ITE Journal. This article doesn't help improve the perspective that engineers just want to move cars. To place all Amercian cities (or more to the point, streets) in the same class of homogeneous urban places is damaging. The new millennium has resulted in increased awareness that reducing trip distances is as important an initiative as any that a transportation professional should be engaged in to insure the sustainability of our communities and the vitality of our urban areas. These efforts are placing increasing importance on cycling trips where relatively short trips reduce the need for speed and make accessibility a priority.

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UPDATE: linked to this debate between Pucher and Forester that is worth considering.

NYC Mixing Zone for Cycletrack

There is interest in exploring cycletrack opportunities where we have excess road capacity in Portland. There aren't many locations where this is easy to do persay, but jumping off from Ronald Tamse's (Dutch Engineer) recent presentation, it's not a very far leap to find the right spots where there's space available. 

In order to transition back from a cycletrack into a spot where capacity is constrained takes care. You can maintain adequate capacity when making the transition if the signal timing is combined with geometric design elements like we produced on NE 12th Avenue. To this end, I think New York City is onto something for making a cycletrack work well at intersections. They take care to produce a "Mixing zone" at right turn opportunities that blend the facility in with the traffic. The diagram on the right isn't for the heaviest right turn traffic, but it seems to offer promise for retaining the auto capacity while providing opportunities for finding the right match. 

The research conducted by Portland State University about our SW Broadway cycletrack suggests that its an application that will work well in places where we have few conflicts with driveways. I first saw the Mixing Zone during a visit back in November 2010 and it seemed to work exceptionally well and I felt extremely comfortable when cycling in the cycletrack. It also eliminates the need for a specific phase for people on bikes, so you end up with a traffic engineering win-win. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2011

Traffic Signal Detection Confirmation Lights for Bicycles in the Netherlands (Delft)

I have often said that the Dutch have figured out most of our traffic signal design challenges. It's not that they are smarter than us, it is just that they come from the perspective of the cyclist. Meeting with Ronald Tamse this past week confirmed that. A video of his presentation is here.

There is a question that was recently highlighted on the Institute of Transportation Engineers' listserv, and on the same day I got an email asking about this, so rather than write this once and copy & paste, I figured by posting it here, google might pick it up and it can be part of the FAQ.  Here's the post.

In the summer trip to the Netherlands, I came across the following intersection confirmation indication for being detected as a person on a bicycle. The push button would also turn on a light that showed that you had been detected.

In Portland, we're planning to complete an installation where the detection from the loops is connected to the button and specifically the LED in the push button that offers confirmation. The downside of this configuration is that you will see a longer amount of time in the controller Walk & Flashing Don't Walk, then just the minimum green plus actuated time if you wired it separately.

UPDATED: October 31, 2011...

From: Vendor (email me if you want details)
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 1:56 PM
To: City of Portland
It is possible to light the LED on the Polara Bulldog buttons if you have the following equipment and wire everything accordingly.
#1           You would need to use the Latching Bulldog Control unit (PBCU) with BDL-3 pushbuttons.
#2           You then need to wire the output of the Bicycle detection loop amplifier in parallel to where the Pedestrian push button land in the controller cabinet.
#3           you would also need a 180 ohm resistor wired in series with the Detector loop amplifier output.

Please call if you have any questions.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Running Red Lights on Your Bicycle

Compliance at this signal is easy because the cycle length is very short.
UPDATED: October 28, 2011 - I had a similar experience (see video below from Joseph Rose) with a person on a bike this week as I was riding down SW Broadway southbound from the City Maintenance Shop to the Portland Building. The signal in question follows most of the signal timing principles in the Dutch CROW Manual (traffic is progressed slowly on the street, the cycle length is short, etc). Yet, the person in front of me decided to start about four seconds before the green expired on the side street. I can appreciate the argument that when the traffic signal makes me wait for more than a minute than it either

  • a) isn't detecting me, or 
  • b) isn't meant or designed for me and the person chooses to run the red. 

I can accept poor compliance where either of these cases are the norm. I didn't always obey signals before I became the manager of the traffic signals in Portland. Yet when we're making the signals work for bikes and the signals are changing so promptly... as an experienced cyclist, hopefully you are aware of this, and if you know it doesn't cost you much time to comply with the signal, please do. It's a good opportunity to move acceptance in the public forward, making it look like something any normal law abiding citizen would. do.

The blog post by Joseph Rose has a number of interesting comments and BikePortland posted about it too.

The problem with poor compliance is that I believe it may hold acceptance of bike infrastructure back in terms of acceptance at the national level. If I measure a bicycle compliance rate significantly lower than a motor vehicle, will that result in less acceptance by transportation engineers. I can sympathize with Mia Birk's perspective on stop signs, but I don't feel as comfortable with the same concept with traffic signals. It could be something I am too close to, but having worked with the Police surrounding safety and enforcement issues, it seems like improving compliance would lead to greater legitimacy throughout the community.

ORIGINAL POST: I am going to need some time to think about this before I write anything about it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Meaning of the Flashing Don't Walk at Traffic Signals - Pedestrian Countdown Timer Model Ordinance from Salt Lake City

What does it mean? It's all French to me. 

At the Workshop on Pedestrian Safety at Midblock Crossings I learned about the following ordinance of Salt Lake City, which was an idea I had that I think represents a better representation of what the Flashing Don't Walk means with the Countdown timers. 
Here's the complete section from their Code.
SECTION 20.  That Section 12.32.050, Salt Lake City Code, pertaining to pedestrian “walk” and “don’t walk” signals be, and the same hereby is, repealed.
            SECTION 21.  That Section 12.32.055, pertaining to pedestrian signal indications, be, and is hereby enacted to read as follows:
12.32.055 Pedestrian Signal Indications.
Whenever a pedestrian signal is in place and operating, the illuminated words or symbols shall indicate and govern pedestrians as follows:
A.            A steady white WALK or WALKING PERSON (symbolizing WALK) signal indication means that, exercising due caution, a pedestrian facing the signal indication may start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal indication.
B.            A flashing orange DONT WALK or UPRAISED HAND (symbolizing DONT WALK) signal indication means that a pedestrian shall not start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal indication, but that any pedestrian who has already started to cross on a steady white WALK or WALKING PERSON (symbolizing WALK) signal indication may complete crossing the roadway.
C.            A steady orange DONT WALK or UPRAISED HAND (symbolizing DONT WALK) signal indication means that a pedestrian shall not enter the roadway in the direction of the signal indication.
                D.  A COUNTDOWN CLOCK (displaying time in seconds remaining in the pedestrian crossing phase) in conjunction with the flashing orange UPRAISED HAND means that a pedestrian facing the signal indication may start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal indication, but only if such pedestrian is able to safely walk completely across the street or to a safety island before the COUNTDOWN CLOCK shows no remaining time.
Today, I am in suburban Washington DC at the Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center discussing Countermeasures at Urban and Suburban Midblock Crossing Locations. The primary focus of this research is to determine the location of Rapid Flash Beacons and other such devices to improve pedestrian safety. It is a national panel of nearly 25 people discussing opportunities to improve public safety and focus on these measures. The panel includes FHWA researchers, agency practitioners, and even public health advocates, so it is an interesting cross section and I look forward to bringing information back to the City on this.

This sort of treatment at intersections  has reduced crashes in the past ten years

At SE 80th & Foster Road we added a Rapid Flash Beacon, this is the sort of research that's being studied by FHWA's Research Team. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pedestrian Scramble aka Barnes Dance

The posting of transportation videos on YouTube is something that will make future engineers more innovative. Here's a great summary from DDOT and Wasim Raja, a colleague that I worked with (when he was with Arlington County, VA) in my previous endeavors.

This reminded me of the scramble I saw in Tokyo at the Shibuya District.

Transportation Research Board Paper Acceptance

Sirisha Kothuri, one of the City of Portland's interns over the summer wrote up a paper describing our work to use existing signal controllers to measure delay at traffic signalized intersections. While we were at it we figured out we could collect bicycle counts as well at select locations. Well, I am proud to announce that the paper: "Preliminary Development of Methods to Automatically Gather Bicycle Counts and Pedestrian Delay at Signalized Intersections" was accepted for the 2012 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. The authors include Sirisha Kothuri, Titus Reyonlds, Christopher Monsere, and Peter Koonce.

I am sure it will be posted at some point and I will update the post when I find it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pas Pa Blinde Vinkler: Watch the Blind Spot

Looking for a few examples of a Watch the Blind Spot Caution sign and came across the following on the Google machine today.....

Danish Description with nice graphic
Anti-Dooring Campaign
Campaign for Blind Spot awareness.

12th Avenue Overcrossing on Mayor's Blog

By taking the time to understand the situation on the ground, the project team crafted a proposal that balances a variety of functional demands and results in an all-around improved situation for trucks, autos, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Mayor Adams weighed in on the project, saying, “This is the type of project I expect to see more of in Portland. We identified areas that needed improvement, tested the proposed changes, used fact-based analyses to make improvements, and came up with a solution that works better for trucks, helps out two important manufacturing companies in the city, and makes the street safer for bicyclists and pedestrians going to school.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roads Going High Tech... and Bicycle Lanes Too

Today's blog from the Secretary of Transportation describes roads going high tech. At yesterdays, TransPort meeting (the Intelligent Transportation Systems Subcomittee of Metro's TPAC) we learned about how the Oregon DOT is going to implement some queue warning signs and additional technology to highlight where highway traffic is stopped and to reduce the speed limit accordingly. It's an exciting development for improving safety and improving our highways (specifically Highway 217 and ) as we seek to do more with our existing infrastructure. This specifically should reduce the potential of wasting capacity that can be restored if motorists are aware of the change. One can debate the extent of the improvements, but putting information in the hands of engineers can yield societal benefits. 

Not to be outdone, we're working to pull together information on bike lanes in a similar fashion. The link below shares where the map is and the progress on where we're counting and monitoring use of the system.

UPDATED: I recieved a comment about how we're detecting bikes and that's found here:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Portland enters day 6; city pulls plug on power

A new role for the Electricians at the City of Portland. Occupy Portland enters day 6; city pulls plug on power

New York City Bike Lane and Mixing Zone (Left Turn)

The following photos show the striping for the left side bike lane where there is on-street parking that is removed to make room for an exclusive left turn lane. To maintain as much parking as possible the amount of length for the left turn lane is kept to a minimum. The vehicles are presented with the teeth to indicate yield on entry. The green bike lane marking is dropped at this same point to indicate shared space with the traffic and sharrows are used in this space.

The second photos shows the Turning Vehicles Yield to Bicycles sign, which is in the MUTCD specifically for pedestrians, but it makes sense to call out bicycle traffic at this location because you have a left turn lane that conflicts with the left side bike lane.

The farside of the intersection is where I think NYC has offered the greatest innovation. The provision of the curbing for a pedestrian refuge presents an opportunity for yielding between the person on a bicycle and reducing the amount of time (potentially) that is necessary for the pedestrian clearance. To reduce the total time for the intersection, you'd have to do something on the nearside.

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Bike Box from the Left

I am reviewing a few photos in preparation for my volunteer teaching assignment at the initiative for bicycle & pedestrian innovation at Portland State University. New York City staff rolled out the red carpet during my visit, getting me a bike to use and providing a nice amount of time to show me some of their newest facilities.

NYC uses green more than Portland does, in this case a significant length of the bike lane on the left hand side has green thermoplastic.

In most cases, they have an exclusive turn lane adjacent to the bike lane. Here they have a separate lane, one on of the design treatments NYC has implemented in the U.S. first is a mixing zone for the turn lane, which I will add to another post.

They added the bicycle signals on the poles and moved the left turn signals adjacent to that signal head on an extension arm. There has been some debate within my colleagues about whether it is desirable to have the vehicle see the bicycle indication. The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices has discussed whether Red, Yellow, and Green is appropriate for a bicycle indication. That seems like an odd question given the extensive application in Europe and the compliance they have had. Granted the U.S. is different, but we'll continue to debate that in the coming years.
One of the specific treatments that has received negative feedback is the green across multiple lanes as shown in the third photo. There's some concern about how the green will be interpreted by a cyclist making that transition and whether they may be caught making that movement when the signal turns green, thus creating a potential conflict. It seems that is already an issue with pedestrians, but research is necessary for that.

One last photo of the corridor and the range of signals and how that's a bit confusing to look to the next signal and see the indications for the downstream movements as well as the intersection with the closest vicinity.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge - Day 22 Concluding Thoughts

There was a lot of good that came of the Bicycle Commute Challenge. The weather was very nice, that's one good thing. It was fun blogging about the events and I thought I was doing a lot until I read about the Co-Captains of the year....

Here's some great inspiration for next year.

1. Starting with a bang: first day ride in for the entire Sales team.
The Sales team ride in started the Bike Commute Challenge off in a strong way. Derwyn coordinated the route, which allowed each Sales Team member to join up where convenient. Pit stop included a pickup at Voodoo Donuts for the office. They all arrived to the office in a flying ‘V’ formation, much to the excitement to the rest of the Jama team.
2. Photo contest: building buzz for biking.
As motivation, Derwyn and Frank encouraged us to take photos during our rides and share them with the office. They asked us for photos of: “a live bird, any bridge, something that made you smile, a pet peeve, a Jama shirt being held or worn by someone else, and a bonus for a single photo with all of the items!”
3. Motivational masters that we could always count on.
Derwyn gave Jason new bike tires when he needed some. When he realized the wheel had the wrong gear settings, Derwyn told Jason to drop his bike off at his house. He replaced the gear cassette on the new wheel. Both Frank and Derwyn replaced flats, offered loaner bikes and picked up anyone who didn’t want to ride in alone.
4. Fun and friendly reminders to get on your bike.
Derwyn and Frank sent creative emails with just the right amount of poking and prodding to get even the laggards to bike commute. John, our VP of Marketing, says his favorite motivational moment was the captains explaining, “I couldn’t blog or Tweet or Facebook post about the bike challenge until I road in. Hitting a marketer where it hurts.” John got on his bike, had his kids ride in, and photo documented their trip. Derwyn also sent Jess a message who was working from home, and said, “If you don’t ride tomorrow… stay home. ”
5. Derwyn & Frank’s Bike Commute Finale celebration.
The bike pub tour will conclude our bike commute month. Locations include Rontoms, Green Dragon, APEX and The Hutch for karaoke. At APEX, we will have Jama’s version of Michael Scott’s Dundee Awards, complete with handmade trophy. Derwyn spent weeks building the custom design from all recycled bike parts to be presented to the individual who most embodied the spirit of BTA BCC. Both Frank and Derwyn noted, “a few disclaimers. Nobody should pedal while intoxicated (PWI). TriMet takes bikes. Bikes can be left and cabs can be taken. Sampling beer, wine & spirits can be done sparingly. Remember your helmet. Remember your bike lights. Remember your dry verbal wit lest you disappoint your fellow pub mates.”
6. The 52-mile adventure ride.
Frank organized a 52-mile commute to Jama’s offsite team building event for anyone who was up for the challenge. He let the others draft him and navigated the entire trip. He even helped fix a flat at the start of the journey. It was a crazy ride into Forest Grove, but great team building complete with a roar of applause upon arrival.
7. Post-ride blended breakfast.
To bring us into the final stretch, Derwyn offered to make his world-class smoothies for all bike commuters on September 29th. The smoothies got Mike to ride in after a 5-year “break” from commuting by bike. Derwyn even offered smoothies to new Jama hires who hadn’t participated in order to motivate them for next year’s
challenge. Always thinking ahead!
8. Frank’s Mystery Ride
This ride down memory lane took us on a Jama Historical Society tour of Portland with the ghosts of the Jama future and past. We saw all four past and future locations of the Jama office. Frank and Derwyn each shared stories, and Frank carried everyone’s lunch for them on a trailer he towed behind his bike. And brought beer.
Pit stop on the mystery ride
9. Continuous commitment to bike commuting.
Derwyn and Frank’s commitment to bike commuting extends beyond the month of September. They’ve helped secure a custom bike rack, made of recycled bike parts, for our new office to encourage continued riding. They also worked with a local bike shop to get a deal on loaner bikes for the office. That way, riders without bikes can borrow a bike to ride to lunch or to and from home as needed.
10. All Office Ride Day
Our Co-Captains had a dream – that 50% of the office would ride in on a single day. They encouraged everyone to participate with the perfect blend of motivation and fun. On that day, over 60% of the office road in from locations as far as Vancouver, WA. Cody, who had never ridden his bike to work before this challenge, is now planning on making the 30-mile commute by bike at least 2 days a week. He says he owes it all to Derwyn and Frank.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vancouver Sidewalk Sites

I enjoyed the various and diverse landscape of art and poetry as a pedestrian in Vancouver. I imagine this comes hand in hand with the amount of people that live in an area. Naturally, if someone lives in a neighbhorhood there is an inherent interest in making it more livable and beautiful.

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Walk21 Davie Street Walkshop

Gordon Price hosted the Walkshop on Davie Street that took us to the West End, the neighborhood that he lives in. We started at the Seawall, which is a very important backbone to the City's transportation infrastructure. It was great to hear Gordon talk about the history of the community and the challenges he had in getting developers to do the right thing. He has a lot of experience related to the use of the streets, the choices that were made at the local level, and the big picture, which he shared at the plenary session.

The seawall has a lot of use throughout the day and is a place where people go to get a break from the City. Gordon described how the City pulled together a lot of vacant land and worked with a developer on the master plan for this area. The developer chosen was not a Canadian or American (an Asian country I can't recall), which describes the density (most American developers probably wouldn't have had the same vision) and the layout which reminds me of something similar that I have seen in Japan, which I would describe as more complex.

As we walked up Davie Street, we found that the mix of developments was more diverse. There was a nice section of old warehouses that had been converted into live-work space. This area reminded me of the Pearl District and specifically on NW 13th Avenue in Portland. Both areas have links to transit (streetcar vs. subway). The planner from the City of Vancouver described that the docks are managed by the City, so they control the space and manage the cafes quite carefully to get the desired outcome of a livable space that attracts conventioners and people that are looking for a unique setting. The docks are wider than ours and thus they have an opportunity to do quite a bit more with the space than we have in Portland.

The outdoor seating was heated and sheltered from the wind. I thought the heating was unnecessary but definitely would have been appreciated by my wife.

There were quite a few big flat screens for watching TV and it brought the restaurant experience into the public realm.

They had sort of an odd take on garbage dumpsters and left them out in the open to maintain the district's gritty feel. This surprised me because as the owner of the public space they could have come up with a more creative solution (the Dutch co-locate them underground) to eliminate the use of space on the street.
As we walked north through the City, I was definitely the only one of the bunch taking photos of the traffic signals and the lighting, which is so similar but different in subtle ways.

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Vancouver BC SkyTrain's Canada Line

On a walkshop at Walk21, I had a chance to visit the Davie Street corridor to review pedestrian design and the interaction of sidewalk cafes and streets.

We took the Canada Line down two stops to start the tour. The tour was "staffed" by volunteers that helped us get oriented by carrying a red umbrella.

The train is underground through downtown which results in very efficient movement through the City. It is fantastic that there are no drivers along the alignment. I have to assume that the safety record has been good and they haven't had any problems. They must have some pretty sophisticated control systems to make this all work and it would seem that each train would have to have some sort of oversight using cameras. These trains are highly reliable and run constantly-up to a train every 90 seconds during rush hours. In the times I have ridden it I have rarely ever had to wait for a train.

The train stations are very well lighted. The focus of the light is all on the station as opposed to the rail alignment.

The train information in the station is excellent. The signs provide good information for customers. There is a lot going on in the train station beyond the real-time customer information including advertisements on flat screens and news segments.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Knitbombing in Vancouver

I came across this bike rack that was lovingly covered with knitting or a crochet coozie.
Another sign of someone having fun within the public right of way. One of the traffic signal locates staff found a stop sign that had a similar treatment in SE Portland.
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Monday, October 3, 2011

Vancouver BC Bicycle Left Turn from the Right

We have been studying an application like this in Portland associated with the Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail line. The application in Vancouver was on Burard where there is a heavy amount of traffic denstined to the bridge. In this case, it appears that they want to separate the heavy traffic destined for the bridge with those that desire to make a left turn across two lanes of traffic. To facilitate the maneuver, they provide space in the top of the T of the intersection to get out of the through bike lane and complete the turn on the next signal phase. A brilliant solution to a problem, essentially a jughandle where a right turn is made to make the left.

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Walk 21 Conference Venue : Everything is Going to be Alright

The folks at Walk21 have it figured out. When you have a conference pick a good venue. The conference reception was held at an Art Gallery well positioned to get people networking and finding ways to exchange ideas. There was a great number of folks mingling and talking about a wide variety of topics at the meeting.
I had a good opportunity to discuss some of my ideas for what makes a Walk Friendly Community with Carl Sundstrom, who is involved with writing up the standards for the rating system. Clearly, there are some elements of signal timing and engineering details that should be a part of any rating system and it is up to progressive communties to find ways to share their best practices with others.

Earlier in the day on the Walkshop around Vancouver BC, I had the good fortune to talk with Gordon Price, who was one of the Plenary speakers from the early set. It was great talking with him and I knew him from his earlier speaking engagements in Portland. We discussed the downtown pedestrian environment (he commented how he thought one way streets actually worked quite well in Portland) and I shared with him that we were progessing traffic at speeds of 12 to 16 miles per hour (he thought it was 22 miles per hour - maybe the metric conversion playing tricks on him). He said Portland was his second favorite City, which I am unsure if he was being honest about, but he seemed like he was quite sincere. I described the concept of quarter cycle offsets which is actually quite hard to explain as an elevator speech, it's something I should work on because it is a powerful outcome and a good reason to favor one ways streets in a downtown setting.

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Walk 21 Transforming the Automobile City

I am in Vancouver BC this morning attending the Walk 21 Conference and this is the insert in the Globe & Mail newspaper.
The consciousness around walking and car culture are very interesting and it seems that more people in Canada are aware of the urban conditions. I think this is primarily due to the fact that many of the large unviersities are in the urban context.

The program schedule started off with a fantastic array of speakers including the conference organizers and the City's Director of Streets, Neal Carley.

One of the speakers on the docket was Gordon Price, who was an elected leader in Vancouver who talked about Motordom and the Wars Between Pedestrians and Cars between 1920s and 1940s. He offered some wonderful context related to the growth of streetcars and the rise of the automobile.

He cited Vancouver's example of Construction of Streetcar by decade which was a steep incline to death in the 1930s when automobiles took over.
1889 to 1899 16.1 miles,
1900 to 1909 37.2,
1910 to 1919 50.2,
1920 to 1929 10.3

He highlighted the three elements needed in Vancouver and other communities as:
  • Sufficient density – single family homes and higher
  • Good mix of uses
  • Walkable distance (3 blocks to transit maximum)

Gordon Price highlighted the term "Motordom" in the book Fighting Traffic – The dawn of the motor age in the American City. He defined Motordom as an alliance of engineers, etc that “Socially reconstructed the purpose of the street”.
Detroit 1917 Campus Martius picture showing amazing mix of uses

A good example of this was the term "Jaywalker", where a Jay is a hick – a person that doesn’t know the rules of the City. Pedestrians "need" to stay in between the lines. So, in 1920s there was a war on the car because new drivers had problems with safety, but in the 1930s the car had won and we have been accomodating the car for the past eight years. Streets are places for movement of vehicles.

He highlighted that "the car is fabulous, we love it. It’s a freedom machine." Moving forward we have to figure out how we change the guidelines in the Transportation Planning Handbook by the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

He went on to discuss how ITE principles resulted in efficient, free, and rapid car traffic. What could be wrong with that? It’s universal. We have been focused on Auto-Dependent Urban Planning. The car isn’t going away, nor should it. It does things that the car can only do. BUT when you Design for Car, you get three things:
  • Big and Simple,
  • Flat, and
  • Uniform (limited chances for making a great place).

Once you design the roads, then you have to get parking. Motordom drove out all of the other choices.

It was an insightful presentation highly relevant to the audience.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

NE 12th Avenue: The Capacity of Two Approach Lanes at a Signal (4 vs. 3 Lanes)

The 12th Avenue Bridge is an overcrossing of I-84 in NE Portland. The history around the delineators on the bridge are part of the study the City completed to determine if there was sufficient capacity at the traffic signals to warrant restriping the existing four lanes on the bridge to three lanes that would accomodate space for a bike lane in the northbound direction of the bridge. The study was documented by BikePortland here and the final resolution was reported just this week after I gave an update on our performance reporting.

The Signals, Street Lighting, & ITS Division worked hard to synchronize the timing so that the capacity of the facility was maximized. We had an intern drive the corridor over 40 times to measure the before and after during the evening peak hours of traffic and more throughout the day to determine the morning and noon time conditions. All in all, it was a successful project for the City balancing the needs of all users with the interest in having the facility be safer for everyone.
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Travelling on Amtrak with a Folding Bike - My Bike Friday Tickit to Ride

I am heading to the Walk 21 Conference in Vancouver BC to give a presentation on the work we're doing in Portland to encourage pedestrians. I wasn't sure I wanted to take my bike because I was worried about the hassle of having the bike and dealing with it on the train. In fact, I woke my wife up while waffling on whether I wanted to bike to the train station. It turns out it is very easy to stick it in the luggage rack three seats from where I am.

Yet, the woman that checked me in this morning threatened that I might have a problem when I transfer from train to bus in Seattle. I asked her what was I supposed to do in the case they didn't have space for it on the train and she calmly said, it would have to be on the next available train to BC. That next train arrives at 10:50 PM! How would that work? Clearly, this is one of the barriers to cycling. People (front counter people, myself included) expect it will be difficult to accomodate extra luggage on board. In some cases, it is simply an issue because you're dealing with folks that aren't always inclined to help, because they can't appreciate the challenge. I imagine people with disabilities have a similar challenge (although I say that appreciating that travelling with a bicycle is a choice).

Regardless of your situation, it takes a sort of confidence to persevere and with any luck on this trip, it will be worth the extra cost (if any).

UPDATE at 1:05 PM... During the transfer in Seattle to a bus, the driver of the bus indicated that I need to have a bag for the bike or else he can't take it. I had to tell him I didn't have a bag, the website did not indicate that it was necessary, and the gate agent in Portland (the second one that I talked to) told me it would be fine under the bus. Here's the specific language from the Amtrak website:
Folding bicycles may be brought aboard certain passenger cars as carry-on baggage. Only true folding bicycles (bicycles specifically designed to fold up into a compact assembly) are acceptable. Generally, these bikes have frame latches allowing the frame to be collapsed, and small wheels. Regular bikes of any size, with or without wheels, are not considered folding bikes, and may not be stored as folding bikes aboard trains.
You must fold up your folding bicycle before boarding the train. You may store the bike only in luggage storage areas at the end of the car (or, in Superliners, on the lower level). You may not store bikes in overhead racks.
The driver made me sign a waiver. I wrote on the back of the ticket stub that he took: "Liability Waiver" and signed by name. When I handed that to him, he gave it back to me and asked me to put a date on it. Apparently, this makes it official that if anything happens to the bike he is absolved of all wrong doing. Not that it should be a problem.

In other news, traffic on Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle is pretty bad at 1:12 PM when a football game is at the Seahawks stadium. Too bad I am not on the train.
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