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City now issues anti-dooring window decals to taxi, Uber, and Lyft operators

City now issues anti-dooring window decals to taxi, Uber, and Lyft operators

dooringdecallead

(Photo: PBOT)

The latest front in the City of Portland’s ongoing war against traffic injuries and deaths is the windshields of taxis and other for-hire vehicles.

The Bureau of Transportation just unveiled a new window decal they’ve begun to issue through their Private For-Hire Program. That program regulates all permitted taxi and other transportation network company (TNC) operators like Uber and Lyft.





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The decals, which operators are not legally mandated to display, say “Look Before You Open” and they include a symbol of a bike rider and a car with a clever exclamation point on the car’s door. The decal’s orange color fits with PBOT’s Vision Zero branding effort which this new initiative is part of. Here’s more from the city’s Private-For-Hire program manager: “Portland’s Vision Zero initiative should be everyone’s initiative and the private for hire industry is no exception. At the regulatory division we are doing our part by providing free decals and education regarding Vision Zero. We will encourage our industry partners to join us, and together we will work to achieve our established goals, one vehicle at a time.”

Back in November we reported that the city is also requiring taxi and TNC operators to take special vision zero training.

For more on PBOT’s vision zero efforts, browse our past coverage.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Hit by Uber driver? Portlander watches as car that hit him drives off

Hit by Uber driver? Portlander watches as car that hit him drives off

Park Blocks 5

SW Park Street, a bit south of the incident described.
(Photo: Marilyn M)

Here’s a troubling incident that doesn’t directly involve a bike, but certainly could have.

Less than a month after Portland became one of the first cities to legalize Internet-based ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, it calls into question the street culture that such services could be creating.

According to a local lawyer, it seems to qualify as a hit-and-run. Police are declining to investigate.

Here’s the account from reader John E. (emphases mine):

Walking to work going East on Alder St, I came to the intersection of Park and Alder about 8:00 AM. Park is a single lane street with parking on both sides. As I get close Car 1 pulls up to the stop sign and is going to turn right and stops. Car 2 (Uber) pulls up next to it as if it is going straight and stops to the side of Car 1 but slightly further back. The two cars are side by side stopped where the red truck in the attached picture is. Both are stopped and traffic is coming from the same direction as me so I start to cross the crosswalk and then Car 2 makes a move as if to attempt to block the view of Car 1. The driver of Car 2 was staring down the driver of Car 1 and seemed irritated with him. In doing so he was looking the wrong direction and moved about a 2 feet forward and struck my right knee hard enough he knew he hit something as he looked panicked but again, I’m okay.

Right after being hit I was a little panicked and my first reaction (later regretted due to a sore hand) was I smacked the hood. I quickly passed through the intersection to get to a safe spot. The driver rolled down his window apologizing but I was angry, scared, panicked, disturbed and really just not sure what to do. I knew I wasn’t hurt so I thought about starting to walk the next 2 blocks to work and then saw that the car was driving past me and never looked over at me so I just kept walking towards work. The driver was a white male about 30 years old (give or take 5 years). I know it was an Uber due to the U sticker in the front windshield. I wished I would have gotten the license plates but it all happened so fast. I went back to the spot and the hotel at that intersection said they had cameras that might have caught it but their facilities person was on medical leave and no one else could help. Macy’s down the street had a camera facing the street but they refused to help unless the police requested it. So I went to the police station and they laughed me off since I wasn’t hurt and told me “good luck.” I didn’t notice if anyone was in the backseat and am not sure if a pickup or dropoff just happened.

Uber sent me an credited me $25 which I wasn’t seeking or had asked for. It was kind but would have been insulting had I actually been hurt. The reason I reached out in the first place was only to try to report the driver so they could hopefully remove bad drivers like that from the road (or at least their employment). I honestly didn’t even expect any response from Uber but was glad they at least responded to say they would investigate it. At this point I’m more upset with the response from the Portland Police but from your website and some others I’ve read it sounds like that is the norm.

John is definitely right about that last bit, at least. In most circumstances, Portland police won’t consider issuing a citation, let alone an investigation, unless an ambulance ride is involved.

But there’s also supposed to be an exception for hit-and-run cases.

Note that despite John’s hunch, it’s not certain that this person was on the job driving for Uber, or even if this is the same person who sometimes uses that car to drive for Uber; all we know is that there was an Uber sticker in the window.


Also, this was admittedly a slightly ambiguous situation: even John describes himself as not “hurt.” But according to lawyer Charley Gee of the local firm Swanson, Thomas, Coon and Newton, this probably qualifies as a hit and run under Oregon law.

Since violation of ORS 811.705 Failure to perform duties of driver to injured persons is a felony the appellate courts have interpreted the statute to have a knowingly mens rea (criminal mental state) which is the highest intent to prove. The main case on hit and run is State v. Corpuz 49 Or App 811 (1980), which found that the state must prove the driver knowingly committed hit and run (as in they knew they hit someone and left) but also includes the following:

“The burden is on the driver involved in an accident to stay at the scene and verify that no one was hurt or in need of assistance or to risk severe penalty. We decline to put the burden on the state to prove that a driver knew another person was injured. The state need only prove that defendant knew, or prove circumstances from which it can be inferred that he knew, he was involved in an accident which was likely to have resulted in injury or death to another person.”

State v. Corpuz, 49 Or. App. 811, 820, 621 P.2d 604, 609 (1980).

So in this matter, if the collision was one where a reasonable person would consider likely to have resulted in an injury, then the driver needed to stay at the scene and affirmatively verify that the victim was not hurt. Just looking out your car window and seeing the fact that the person walking is not immobile after the collision is not sufficient.

So if John’s description is accurate, this seems to have been a felony that no one is willing to do anything about.

Uber hasn’t responded to an emailed request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The real question in this incident isn’t about liability or even criminal activity per se. It’s about whether it’s socially acceptable to cruise away after causing an incident like that. And though it’s unquestionably true that this sort of thing happens regularly in Portland, it may make sense for someone — the police, Uber, someone — to hold commercial drivers to a higher standard.

For the moment, we’re glad John is OK, and we’re not looking forward to the next version of this story that we might hear.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org


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Big day at City Hall affects pedicabs, taxi safety and backyard homes

Big day at City Hall affects pedicabs, taxi safety and backyard homes

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Commissioner Fritz.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A flurry of end-of-year activity at Portland City Hall Wednesday led to changes in three different stories we’ve been tracking on BikePortland.

With Commissioner Amanda Fritz playing a key role in all three votes, the council agreed to delay changes to pedicab rules that would have required pedicab operators to hold driver’s licenses and have a year of continuous driving experience; to require a one-time “defensive driving” training for taxi, Lyft and Uber workers rather than retrainings every two years; and to allow small accessory dwelling units to be built near the edge of properties as long as they’re no larger than the garages that have long been allowed near property lines.

“Worst of all is the appalling disregard in this ordinance for pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists.”
— Amanda Fritz

Fritz and her colleagues Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman had pushed on Nov. 24 to postpone the effective date of new pedicab rules until the pedicab industry could confer with city staff. An amendment to this effect by Fish was approved unanimously then, and was (the city said) reflected in the code approved today.

On taxi safety, Fritz and Fish cast votes against the new rules, with Fritz citing “appalling disregard in this ordinance for pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists injured” by drivers of Lyft, Uber and other so-called “transportation network companies.” The ordinance passed 3-2.

And on backyard homes, Fritz cast a lone vote against allowing garage-sized residences to be built without five-foot setbacks from property lines. She was outvoted 4-1.

Here’s what happened in a bit more detail:

Pedicabs
Filmed by Bike 08-29.jpg

No car required.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

As we reported Nov. 18, Portland’s effort to rewrite its code for “private for-hire transportation” was prompted by the illegal arrival of Uber last spring. It resulted in the city hastily rewriting its rules for pedicabs without notifying local operators that it was doing so.

Among the proposed rules: pedicab operators would have been required to hold driver’s licenses and have “at least one year’s worth of continuous driving experience in a United States jurisdiction” before certification as a pedicab driver.

Even city staffers overseeing the code rewrite didn’t seem to be aware that this was what the code said. In this exchange with Fritz from a Nov. 24 hearing, Novick advisor Bryan Hockaday said “we did not intend to have any changes” for pedicab companies before conceding that apparently changes had been made.

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Fritz, Fish and Saltzman persuaded the council to preserve the status quo for pedicabs and also for non-emergency medical transport companies, which are also covered but were not consulted about the rewrite.

Because of the difficulty of revising code on a tight deadline, the council left the proposed code language in place, but PBOT spokesman John Brady said in an email Wednesday that the council had included a clause saying that the new rules for pedicabs and NEMT companies didn’t apply.

Taxi, Lyft and Uber safety
Riding Portland's urban highways-8

One safety training and done.

As we reported Nov. 5, Portland’s new rules for taxis and transportation network companies require drivers to complete a “defensive driving” course. The city describes this requirement (which isn’t common on Uber or Lyft drivers around the country) as part of its Vision Zero effort.

But that provision will replace a stiffer one that currently applies to taxis.

“The problem is it’s a one-and-done training requirement, instead of the current mandate for taxi drivers to do a defensive driving course every two years,” Commissioner Fritz explained in an email Wednesday. “Also, the TNCs get to start driving then take the test in 30 days, despite testimony that more accidents happen when drivers are new.”

Fritz also took issue with the fact that the city requires only $50,000 of liability insurance coverage for TNC drivers when they are on their way to or from a job.

“I am baffled as to why any of you would consider your own life, or that of the person you love most in the entire world, to max out in value at $50,000, less than half of one year of our salaries,” said Fritz, whose husband was killed last year in a multi-vehicle collision on Interstate 5. The Mercury has the full text and video of her emotional address.

Fish voted with Fritz against the new rules. Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick voted for them but said he doesn’t think the $50,000 limit is acceptable but hopes to fight it in the state legislature instead of city council.

“Uber and Lyft have made it clear that if any jurisdiction tried to depart from this agreement, they intend to declare war,” Novick said. “If you’re going to pick a fight with a $50 billion company, you’re probably smart to look around for some allies. So I’m going to do that.”

Backyard homes

Sally Spear, right, lives in a backyard home in Northeast Portland with her daughter’s family.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

As we reported Nov. 20, Fritz is not a fan of a proposal to remove a five-foot setback that applies to small homes but not to garages of the same size.

City code has long allowed structures to be built in R-7, R-5 and R-2.5 zones that are no more than 15 feet tall at the peak and 10 feet tall by 24 feet wide on any wall close to a property line, as long as they are “garages” designed to hold a motor vehicle.

A code change discussed for most of this year proposed to remove that special status for car storage, allowing structures like backyard rec rooms or large bike sheds in similar buildings. Fritz said she supported those uses but not another scenario: if the home included a bedroom and a kitchen sink, thus qualifying it as a detached accessory dwelling unit.

Fritz said she’d asked the people at two recent community meetings about the measure and “by a 20-1 margin people do not, in general, support this. I have given both arguments for and arguments against, as I read them in my emails, and did not state my own preference, and it was quite stunning how many people are quite concerned about this. And I believe that it’s going to have backlash against accessory dwelling units.”

She predicted “an explosion of these built as Airbnbs.”

Mayor Charlie Hales, the only other council member to comment on the issue, said he was “sensitive to the concerns” raised by Fritz but said there was “such demand for this kind of housing in the city that we should try to make this work.” He, Fish, Saltzman and Novick all voted for it.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org


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New rules would require Portland pedicab operators to drive cars and carry car insurance

New rules would require Portland pedicab operators to drive cars and carry car insurance

Filmed by Bike 08-29.jpg

A night ride.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

“Half my guys don’t even have driver’s licenses — in fact, I don’t have a driver’s license.”
— Kyle Kautz, owner at PDX Pedicab

Three weeks ago, a task force convened by Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick released a new set of regulations for “for-hire vehicles” like taxis, Lyft and Uber.

Also included in the new rules: pedicabs — but the rules for those seem to have been written mostly with copy-paste buttons.

The result: According to code now under review at city council, car-free Portlanders would need not apply for pedicab jobs.

The new city policy would require anyone applying to operate a pedicab to hold a driver’s license and to demonstrate “at least one year’s worth of continuous driving experience in a United States jurisdiction immediately prior to the date of the application’s submission.”

The second requirement, also included in the proposed taxi code, is presumably intended to keep very recent immigrants out of driving jobs, but the requirement of “continuous driving experience” would have more serious implications for the pedicab industry.

Moreover, every pedicab company must now hold “motor vehicle liability insurance” for each of its vehicles. (Local pedicab companies already insure their operators, passengers and vehicles with business liability insurance, but motor vehicle insurance falls in a separate category with its own premiums.)

The driver’s license requirement was first reported last week by the Mercury.

The policy also forbids pedicab operators from having a “felony conviction of any kind,” even as the city is considering forbidding most employers from asking about prior criminal records during the interview process.

Kyle Kautz of PDX Pedicab — he said he uses “Papa Bear” as his official job title — said the driver licensing rules as written would, if enforced, force him to drop half the people on his team.

“Half my guys don’t even have driver’s licenses — in fact, I don’t have a driver’s license,” said Kautz, whose company owns 11 pedicabs and contracts with 20 to 30 operators during peak season. “I have guys who have never driven a car before.”

Kautz does own two trucks to move his company’s cabs to out-of-town events like University of Oregon football games, but he said has sometimes hired someone simply to drive the truck down because so few of his colleagues drive.

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Kautz and another local pedicab company owner, Ryan Hashagen of Portland Pedicabs and Icicle Tricycles, said they found out about the new rules days before the council passed them after months of deliberation with representatives of Uber, Lyft, and local taxi companies.

“The pedicab companies and operators were told repeatedly that there’s no bother in showing up to this set of meetings right now, we’re all going to be included in a second public process down the road,” Hashagen said.

Random bike scenes, Portland OR

At the Mississippi Street Fair, 2005.

That may yet happen. But if it will, Hashagen and Kautz haven’t been told when.

Hashagen and Kautz both compared the proposed regulations to a set of rules proposed in 2009, but later dialed back, that would have required pedicab operators to have driver’s licenses and personal insurance policies, and also to carry fire extinguishers in their vehicles.

That process led ultimately to a city plan to draw up a separate section of proposed code for nonmotorized vehicles like pedicabs and horse carriages. The draft was approved unanimously by the city’s taxi advisory committee. But just before the city was preparing to take up those changes at the council level, Hashagen said, Uber arrived in Portland illegally and progress on the nonmotorized vehicle code project stopped.

Kautz said that he doubts his business or his operators are in immediate risk of being shut down.

“I really don’t think they’re going to enforce it,” he said. “They barely enforce half the laws.”

But he said that if these rules are in place during next year’s festival season, they’d disrupt a service that he said has “become a part of Portland.”

“If that happens, my guys are going to be like, ‘Nah, not working for you any more,’” Kautz said. “They’re not going to take the time to take that test. And there’s too many people in this city that don’t have driver’s licenses.”

The day after the first reading of the ordinance on Nov. 5, Portland’s recently hired Private for-Hire Program Manager Mark Williams said in an email to BikePortland that “we don’t have anything etched in stone yet, but we do plan on amending certain sections that are relevant.”

Williams didn’t respond to a follow-up request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, PBOT spokesman John Brady said in an email that the council “will take it back up on November 24th. The second reading and vote is for December 2nd. That is the date that the regulations would become final.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post said the regulations had already passed their second reading.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org


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Portland will require cab and Uber drivers to take Vision Zero safety training

Portland will require cab and Uber drivers to take Vision Zero safety training

Riding Portland's urban highways-8

Eyes on the street?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

At their best, Lyft and Uber are better cab companies, one more piece of a system that enables low-car life.

At their worst, they’re a system for subsidizing an army of people driving around town with their eyes glued to GPS screens.

Portland’s new regulations of for-hire transportation companies, released last week, include an interesting change that’s supposed to target the problem: the city’s first mandatory safety training for drivers of taxis and “transportation network companies” like Uber or Lyft.

“There will be thousands of drivers from both the taxis and TNCs that will undergo this training,” city spokesman John Brady said in an email Wednesday. “We are forecasting that they will give over 3.6 million rides next year. So training them in the basic Vision Zero principles and specifically as they relate to people who walk and people who bike represents the chance to spread the Vision Zero message to a sector that is central to Portland’s transportation system.”

This intriguing detail was first reported by the Mercury. We asked Brady if there are any other details yet.

Not really. It’s not clear whether there will be a written or other test involved, or what exactly will be taught.

“At this time, we don’t have the set content for the Vision Zero training,” Brady said. “This will be defined once the regulations become permanent.”

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Per the new regulations, here’s a summary of the city’s current safety training rules for cab drivers:

Drivers must pass a City-administered knowledge and within 6 months of issuance of a driver’s permit, drivers must certify completion of City-approved driver safety and customer service training. Permits automatically revoked if not successfully completed within 6 months.

And here’s the new language agreed to by a city task force that was convened by Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick.

Drivers must successfully complete trainings administered and/or
approved by PBOT within 30 days in the following subject areas:

  • PFHT Code provisions and rule
  • Vision Zero principles of traffic safety
  • Portland-area attractions
  • Customer service

If this isn’t the first such set of rules in the country that specifically calls out Vision Zero (the concept of systematically finding and eliminating the public factors that contributed to every road death), it’s one of them. Earlier this year in San Francisco, a collision between an Uber driver and a person biking called attention to that city’s stricter safety training requirements for taxi drivers.

The new rules will also apply to pedicab operators.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org


The post Portland will require cab and Uber drivers to take Vision Zero safety training appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Uber launches ‘UberPEDAL’ on-demand bike rack option in Portland

Uber launches ‘UberPEDAL’ on-demand bike rack option in Portland

uberpedal

Carsharing service Uber announced a new bike rack option this morning. Dubbed “UberPEDAL” the new system will allow Uber customers to request a car through their app that can pick both them and their bike.

Here’s more from Uber:

Whether you’re not able to ride because of a flat, a torrential downpour, or consuming one too many beers, Uber now has you covered. At the touch of a button and with a $5 surcharge, you can request an uberX equipped with a Saris bike rack (fits up to two bicycles), and in minutes your car will arrive, ready to take you and your bike where you need to go!

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Uber says during the launch period only a limited amount of drivers will offer the bike racks. The company says you’re most likely to find one in their core service area downtown.

The racks Uber is using are made in Madison, Wisconsin by Saris.

Uber has been operating in Portland for about a month now and they say over 3,000 people have signed up to drive and over 70,000 trips have been taken.

To learn more about UberPEDAL, join Uber staff at Velo Cult Bike Shop & Tavern (1969 NE 42nd) tonight from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. They’ll host a party with live music, free bike inspections and an appearance by Pedal Powered Talk Show host Boaz Frankel.

Uber’s focus on bike riders follows the lead of another carsharing service Car2Go. As of this past March about half of Car2Go’s 500 Portland vehicles are equipped with bike racks.


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Language Matters: Three rhetorical tricks bike advocates could learn from Uber’s Plouffe

Language Matters: Three rhetorical tricks bike advocates could learn from Uber’s Plouffe


(Video courtesy Willamette Week/Tech Fest Northwest)

Language Matters is an occasional column about the ways we talk about bikes and biking.

When bike believers get political, they often struggle with talking points. People who know the argument for biking in their bones can forget that those who don’t ride won’t be convinced without words.

David Plouffe has never struggled with talking points.

The Obama campaign manager and strategic advisor turned professional Uber evangelist was in town last week to speak at the annual Tech Fest Northwest conference, and his 13-minute stump speech on behalf of his current employer was a rhetorical sight to behold.

Leaving aside the debates about Uber itself, it’s worth taking a minute here to admire the work of a very talented communicator. His arguments (which preceded a somewhat less controlled sit-down interview with Willamette Week editor Mark Zusman and Mayor Charlie Hales) were meticulously sculpted, sometimes shameless, and definitely effective. Though it’s a little hard for a journalist to applaud them, they definitely made me wonder how much more effective bike advocates could be if they stole a few tricks from this bag.

4:45 – “A quarter of our trips so far start or end within a quarter-mile of public transportation. We see this all over the world where we’re operating. We are an augmentation of public transportation.”

Much like the words “hope,” “change,” and “Kennedy,” the phrase “public transportation” polls very well in American cities. And as Willamette Week reported Friday, Plouffe’s most prominent theme was to associate Uber with public transit every way he could.

Does he have a point? Well, maybe. Does the fact that a quarter of everything in urban areas probably happens within a quarter-mile of public transportation make his rhetoric any less effective? Nope. Plouffe’s tactic here is to find a statistic (any statistic) that tells a story about Uber complementing and improving public transit. In the world of bikes, where there’s a century of strong evidence that this is definitely true, this story is much easier to tell.

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7:33 – “Thirty percent of our trips so far in the U.S. start or end at a small business. A small business. [Note: It might be worth listening to the video just to hear the way he delivers this sentence.] Many of them small businesses that are off of a public transportation line. So it was harder for them to get traffic. Now they’ve got people being dropped off at their doorstop, whether it’s a retailer or a restaurant, and in an easy, seamless way.”

What’s a “small” business? We don’t know. How “many” of them are away from public transit lines? Plouffe doesn’t have that data, but it doesn’t stop him from telling a story with it. Are Uber trips any more or less likely to land at small businesses than other trips? No matter. Again, the factoid is there to lend truthiness to the actual underlying truth, which is simply that people use Uber to get places and getting people places they need to go is generally good for the economy.

That’s not a controversial point. But the idea that a transportation system could ever include a meaningfully large number of trips by Uber — or by bicycles, or by skateboards, or by any other vehicle that doesn’t currently fit into most Americans’ daily lives — is something that many people struggle to accept. Plouffe’s factoid is mostly useless in its own right, but used here it adds a graspable bit of specificity to this abstract concept.

11:30 – “All it would take is 15 percent of Los Angeles residents to carpool, and you’d never have a traffic jam in Los Angeles again.”

When Plouffe said this, an audible gasp went around my section of the auditorium. That’s how effective it was.

This factoid is actually the mirror image of the other two: it’s true on its face, but the underlying idea is bogus. Would a 15 percent drop in traffic end congestion in L.A? Yes. But the moment that happened, Los Angeles would become way better to drive in, so more people would choose to drive more, and the roads would fill up again.

The difference by the end of that scenario, of course, wouldn’t be less congestion. It’d be something harder to explain: more capacity. L.A. streets would be as jammed as ever, but they’d be carrying 15 percent more trips with almost zero public cost.

Sounds like a best-case scenario for another type of transportation I could mention.

Rhetorical moves like these are definitely a dark art, and Plouffe got away with them in part because of the halo of goodwill that any member of “the Obama family” (as he referred to himself in his first few sentences) has in Portland. But if bike advocates are serious about winning battles for public investment, they could almost certainly learn from a pro like Plouffe. For better or worse, he knows how the game is played.


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Portland’s low-car transportation web ranks 7th nationally, study says

Portland’s low-car transportation web ranks 7th nationally, study says

abundant choices

Image by the Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG.

When the news went around last year that Helsinki was planning to “make car ownership pointless within 10 years,” it was misread in some quarters as a plan to remove cars completely from the Finnish capital.

But Helsinki’s actual plan was to use a combination, or “web,” of smartphone apps, carsharing, bikesharing, ridesourcing, taxis and mass transit — and, of course, walking and biking — to remove the need for people to own a car.

The mistake was telling, because the whole point of these new, rapidly growing tools is to stop “using a car” from the same thing as “owning a car.” Once we can break the link between car ownership and car use, the theory goes, many more people will opt out of the all-you-can-drive buffet of car ownership and instead use cars only for the sort of trips that cars are actually good at.

sustainable mobility trends

Image and data: EMBARQ via Sustainable Cities Collective.

Enter U.S. PIRG’s new report on the “Innovative Transportation Index,” which ranks 70 U.S. cities based on the number of different services available in each of 11 categories:

  • Fixed-location carsharing like Zipcar
  • Floating-fleet carsharing like Car2go
  • Peer-to-peer carsharing like Getaround and Relay Rides
  • Ridesharing (aka carpooling) like Zimride and Carma
  • Ridesourcing like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar
  • Taxi hailing like Curb and Flywheel
  • Bike sharing
  • Static transit data that helps you plan trips by bus and train
  • Real-time transit information that helps you monitor actual bus and train arrival times
  • Multi-modal apps like RideScout and CityMapper
  • Virtual ticketing like GlobeSherpa’s TriMet tickets mobile app

Portland was marked as offering at least one service in every category except ridesharing and bike sharing but made up for its most unusual gap (bike sharing) by offering a relatively unusual service (virtual ticketing). The PIRG ranking broke ties based on the amount of competition within each category, which is what pushed Portland one step above Denver, Minneapolis, San Diego and Seattle, but one step below Boston, Los Angeles, and New York.

It was in April 2007 that Alan Durning of Seattle’s Sightline Institute named “car-head,” the misconception that “automobile” is basically a synonym for “transportation,” as the mental condition that causes many of our cities’ problems.

That was two months before the Apple iPhone went on sale. The eight years that have followed have brought us within reach of eradicating car-head, at least in big cities. We’ll be eager to see what happens next.

The post Portland’s low-car transportation web ranks 7th nationally, study says appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Portland’s low-car transportation web ranks 7th nationally, study says

Portland’s low-car transportation web ranks 7th nationally, study says

abundant choices

Image by the Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG.

When the news went around last year that Helsinki was planning to “make car ownership pointless within 10 years,” it was misread in some quarters as a plan to remove cars completely from the Finnish capital.

But Helsinki’s actual plan was to use a combination, or “web,” of smartphone apps, carsharing, bikesharing, ridesourcing, taxis and mass transit — and, of course, walking and biking — to remove the need for people to own a car.

The mistake was telling, because the whole point of these new, rapidly growing tools is to stop “using a car” from meaning the same thing as “owning a car.” Once we can break the link between car ownership and car use, the theory goes, many more people will opt out of the all-you-can-drive buffet of car ownership and instead use cars only for the sort of trips that cars are actually good at.

sustainable mobility trends

Image and data: EMBARQ via Sustainable Cities Collective.

Enter U.S. PIRG’s new report on the “Innovative Transportation Index,” which ranks 70 U.S. cities based on the number of different services available in each of 11 categories:

  • Fixed-location carsharing like Zipcar
  • Floating-fleet carsharing like Car2go
  • Peer-to-peer carsharing like Getaround and Relay Rides
  • Ridesharing (aka carpooling) like Zimride and Carma
  • Ridesourcing like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar
  • Taxi hailing like Curb and Flywheel
  • Bike sharing
  • Static transit data that helps you plan trips by bus and train
  • Real-time transit information that helps you monitor actual bus and train arrival times
  • Multi-modal apps like RideScout and CityMapper
  • Virtual ticketing like GlobeSherpa’s TriMet tickets mobile app

Portland was marked as offering at least one service in every category except ridesharing and bike sharing but made up for its most unusual gap (bike sharing) by offering a relatively unusual service (virtual ticketing). The PIRG ranking broke ties based on the amount of competition within each category, which is what pushed Portland one step above Denver, Minneapolis, San Diego and Seattle, but one step below Boston, Los Angeles, and New York.

It was in April 2007 that Alan Durning of Seattle’s Sightline Institute named “car-head,” the misconception that “automobile” is basically a synonym for “transportation,” as the mental condition that causes many of our cities’ problems.

That was two months before the Apple iPhone went on sale. The eight years that have followed have brought us within reach of eradicating car-head, at least in big cities. We’ll be eager to see what happens next.

The post Portland’s low-car transportation web ranks 7th nationally, study says appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City makes deal to legalize Uber, sharpening deadline for safety requirements

City makes deal to legalize Uber, sharpening deadline for safety requirements

Riding Portland's urban highways-8

Uber inside?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

If Portland’s street safety advocates hope to put special requirements on Uber drivers, they’d better move fast.

On Thursday afternoon, city officials reached a deal that will make Uber and similar ride-summoning services legal by April 9. In exchange, Uber promised to suspend its service in the city starting on Sunday.

According to Willamette Week, the first local outlet to report on the city’s deal:

Uber has informed Hales that it will suspend operations in the late evening hours of Sunday, Dec. 21.

In return, Hales has pledged to write new taxi regulations — or give Uber and other ride-sharing companies a temporary agreement to operate — by April 9, 2015.

“They have agreed to a three-month timeline,” says Brooke Steger, general manager for Uber. “We will be stopping pickups in Portland for the duration of that time. This is a temporary pause. We will be back.”

Hales will announce later today that the city is convening a task force to examine possible revisions to four city rules on cabs and ride-sharing. Those issues are the cap on the number of taxi licenses, the set fees taxis must charge riders, the number of cars available to people with disabilities, and safety requirements, including that drivers carry commercial insurance and receive thorough background checks.

Hales’ staffers tell WW the last item — safety assurances for passengers — will be the city’s top priority during the next three months.

The city’s transportation bureau will also oversee a study period, lasting one or two months, to see how Uber’s arrival changes the taxi market.

Mayoral spokesman Dana Haynes said Thursday that the task force “hasn’t been put together yet. When we do have one, we’re going to tell them to move fast.” Haynes said Chris Warner, chief of staff to Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, is leading this process for the moment.

Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said Thursday that he planned to contact Warner and also Hales’ lead transportation staffer, Josh Alpert, about the issue.

“Is Uber willing to do some of the things that the Taxi Drivers Association of New York are doing? Those that have high levels of crashes are getting their medallions removed.”
— Rob Sadowsky, Bicycle Transportation Alliance

Sadowsky said the BTA would “love to see” the city require Uber and similar companies such as Lyft provide strong contingent insurance coverage for Uber drivers who might cause a collision on their way to pick up a fare. This requirement was a major part of the deal struck by Seattle last summer to legalize Uber.

Sadowsky also suggested that Uber drivers might be required to have commercial drivers’ licenses, or that the city might have some way of directly receiving complaints from passengers about Uber-style services — for example, if drivers are failing to pick people up in certain neighborhoods. And he raised the idea that private for-hire vehicles might be required to autodetect whether they’re speeding, or to pay into the state’s new per-mile tax instead of the gas tax.

“It’s interesting, when I was at the New York Vision Zero conference, how much people were talking about Uber,” Sadowsky said. “Is Uber willing to do some of the things that the Taxi Drivers Association of New York are doing? … Those that have high levels of crashes are getting their medallions removed.”

Sadowsky added that he feels there is “a really valid use to this model” in helping people lead low-car lives or get home safely after drinking.

“I used Uber when I was in Pittsburgh and it was so easy,” Sadowsky said. “It’s not like this is black and white, Uber’s horrible or Uber’s great. It’s a new industry.”

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