Vagabond Shark

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Archive for October, 2007

Climate Change, Transit Development in the News

Posted by Peter W on October 29, 2007

We’ve got to do something about climate change:

The planet is in danger of crossing a “tipping point” of irreversible damage to its atmosphere, climate, water and ecosystems unless governments can develop comprehensive strategies to promote growth and sustainability, warns a new report released on Thursday by an environmental advocacy branch of the United Nations.

(full article)

California is trying – with the recently passed Global Warming Solutions Act they plan to “reduce the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.” But hybrids alone won’t solve the problem.

We need to do a lot more if we’re actually going to reduce our emissions. We’ve got to reduce the amount we drive.

To do that, we need to build in a way that makes it easy to get around. We need to build more homes near jobs, and make sure people can afford those homes. We need to build neighborhoods with shops, services, good public transit, and parks – all within easy walking distance of homes.


It’s time to turn the Bay Area’s innovative talent to the question of how to use our land well. Instead of saying, “We have to drive, but maybe we should drive a different kind of car,” let’s ask, “How can we make it easier to get where we want to go?” Let’s envision a better way to live for people and the planet, and let’s start making it happen.

(see full article in the San Francisco Chronicle)

Luckily it isn’t just a few newspaper editors that favor smarter growth (more compact cities served by more transit).

Three-fourths of Americans believe that being smarter about development and improving public transportation are better long-term solutions for reducing traffic congestion than building new roads, according to a survey released today by the National Association of Realtors┬« and Smart Growth America. […]

As evidence of the traction the issue has gained in the last few years, nearly three-quarters of Americans are concerned about the role growth and development plays in climate change. Traffic congestion is still a concern to many Americans as it continues to worsen in most cities in the country. Half of those surveyed think improving public transit would be the best way to reduce congestion, and 26 percent believe developing communities that reduce the need to drive would be the better alternative. Only one in five said building new roads was the answer.

Eight in 10 respondents prefer redeveloping older urban and suburban areas rather than build new housing and commercial development on the edge of existing suburbs. More than half of those surveyed believe that businesses and homes should be built closer together to shorten commutes, limit traffic congestion and allow residents to walk to stores and shops instead of using their cars. Six in 10 also agree that new-home construction should be limited in outlying areas and encouraged in inner urban areas to shorten commutes and prevent more traffic congestion. […]

The 2007 Growth and Transportation Survey was conducted by telephone among 1,000 adults living in the United States in October 2007. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

(via Planetizen).

If Oregon is such a green state, and the majority in the US understands that better transit and smarter development can help combat climate change, why is Washington County continuing to build bigger roads that serve greenfield subdivisions on the urban fringe instead of focusing on better transit, more bike and pedestrian traffic, more compact centers, and urban renewal[1]?

1: Note that I mean urban renewal in the traditional sense: “renewing aging urban places”, not the Washington County Planning dept.’s definition: “supporting greenfield development in future suburban places”. If you don’t already know… the County is considering using “urban renewal” as a source of funds for the North Bethany development, which is a suburb on former fields at the North edge of the county.


Posted in climate change, hillsboro, north bethany, planning, transportation, washington county | Leave a Comment »

A simple request?

Posted by Peter W on October 27, 2007


There is a section of Walker Road just West of 185th Ave that I ride on often when biking to work. From 185th the bike lane exists until Walker hits NW 191st Ave, at which point something very strange happens.

There is a fairly new subdivision development there and it appears that when it was built the developer was required to do an “improvement” to add a turn lane and a stub of a second through lane on one side (why the thru lane you ask? Because they plan to widen the road to five lanes in the near future). Apparently, however, the developers weren’t required to think about cyclists and our need for space on the road.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in transportation, washington county | 2 Comments »

Public Transit, Public Art

Posted by Peter W on October 27, 2007

Seattle Bus Shelter
Originally uploaded by techieshark

This summer I went to Seattle and while I was up there I was amazed at some of their awesome bus shelters. The general color scheme matches their buses, and most shelters have different designs in the glass as well as unique designs painted on the wood paneling of the shelter. I think this is a great way to brighten the area, provide a more interesting & attractive environment for transit users, and artistically reflect the culture and history of the area.

Portland’s TriMet transit system has an art program but they seem to mainly focus on the MAX train stations. I think it would be great if we had more art incorporated into the bus system. I also wonder how Seattle and Portland’s public art incorporation into public transit compares with other cities.

Posted in art, transportation | Leave a Comment »

Gas prices up, but does anyone care?

Posted by Peter W on October 21, 2007

According to CNN, gas prices are up 60 cents from a year ago. The national average for a gallon of gas is now $2.80, up a nickle in the last two weeks. Over the same two weeks, the price of crude oil went up the equivalent of 18 cents, and as soon as refineries turn that into gas that price raise will be passed on to consumers across the nation.

All this makes me wonder – does Washington County or the cities in it figure in the rising gas prices into their models that determine the projected road capacity needs? Does this constant increase make them consider that we need to alter the kind of transportation system we have, and support more public transit, walking, and cycling? Or does the WCCC plow ahead on a new MSTIP to build more massive roads so people can drive more and so vehicle trip miles can continue to increase?

Posted in peak oil, planning, transportation, washington county | Leave a Comment »

Upcoming: Protest against Chinese Human Rights Violations

Posted by Peter W on October 21, 2007

Need a new kidney? Go to China! An investigation by a former member of the Canadian parliament found that in China, it only takes about 1 week for a kidney to become available for human transplant, while in Canada the average wait time is 32.5 months (in the U.S., the waiting time is similar, about 1000 days). Wonder how China is so fast? According to the investigation, its pretty simple – they take organs from live & unwilling victims – political prisoners. The prisoners are often followers of the Falun Gong religion, who are also tortured and killed for following their religion of choice.

Want to do something about it? Be here:

Portland Rally and March
Where: Pioneer Square, Portland
When: Oct. 26 (Friday) 4-6PM

(thanks for the info Jenny).

Posted in human rights | Leave a Comment »

Bicycle Naming Scheme

Posted by Peter W on October 21, 2007

Like most cyclists, I love my bikes and have a great deal of affinity with them. I have five bikes currently, and have had others in the past so it should come as no surprise that I name my bikes, partly out of affection and partly so I can refer to them more personally than, say, “my Cannondale R800”.

Here’s a list of the names I’ve used for my bikes and the ones I’m reserving for future use.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in bikes | Leave a Comment »

North Bethany School Costs Go Up

Posted by Peter W on October 19, 2007

The Beaverton School District has done new projections for the cost of providing schools for kids in North Bethany, and it doesn’t look good.

The first thing they’ve found is that people North of Hwy 26 have more kids:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in north bethany, planning, school, washington county | Leave a Comment »