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Day: March 24, 2017

At TriMet board meeting, GM defends his advocacy for freeway expansion projects

At TriMet board meeting, GM defends his advocacy for freeway expansion projects

At the TriMet board meeting on Wednesday, the agency’s General Manager Neil McFarlane pushed back against claims that he’s a “freeway builder.”

Last month we shared news (first reported by The Portland Tribune) that McFarlane advocated for three freeway expansion projects in the Portland region during a speech to the Washington County Public Affairs Forum on February 20th. The comments were met with strong criticism by transportation reform activists who felt the leader of our region’s transit agency should not be stumping for projects that expand urban freeway capacity and make driving easier.

McFarlane’s comments, combined with growing political momentum to invest in these freeway projects, motivated activsts to air their concerns during public testimony at the TriMet board meeting. McFarlane’s comments also prompted a letter from a new coalition of nine major nonprofit groups — including AARP Oregon — that our region would only support a funding package that included as much active transportation investment as freeway expansion investment. That letter garnered a highly supportive response from the entire Metro Council.

On Wednesday, after hearing nearly an hour of public testimony from people concerned about McFarlane’s comments (and a range of other issues), McFarlane was given a chance to respond.

“I want to defend myself as being Neil McFarlane the freeway builder,” he said. “As the guy who’s been responsible — at one level or another — for five of our region’s six light rail lines and probably more active transportation investments than just about any other agency.”









“The next thing I’m going to talk about might surpise you a little bit coming from the transit guy here.”
— Neil McFarlane during a February 20th speech at the Washington County Public Affairs Forum

He went on to say that his remarks in the Tribune were true, but they were taken out of context. “It was a recognition of a need of a comprehensive transportation solution for this region.” McFarlane urged people to watch a recording of the video available online. “I’d encourage anyone to watch the tape,” he said. “In this era of false news reports, fake news, and alternative facts, I encourage people to look at the original source.”

McFarlane told his board and members of the public that his February speech also mentioned “the importance of sidewalks and active transportation improvements”. “I was just outlining a package,” he reiterated, “Not prioritizing one over the other.”

Since we also reported on his remarks, I went back and listened to the original source. McFarlane is right that he did talk about other things besides the freeway expansion projects — but those comments were not made in reference to a forthcoming funding package. In the part of his speech that dealt with the need to raise funding for transportation projects he only spoke about the SW Corridor transit project and the three freeway projects (I-5 at the Rose Quarter, I-205 at the Abernethy Bridge, and Highway 217 on the west side).

Here’s the relevant part of his February 20th speech:

“The next thing I’m going to talk about might surpise you a little bit coming from the transit guy here. I want to talk about the need to begin to address … there are three big bottlenecks in this region that it would be really nice to make some progress on… we’re hoping that the state legislature will add these priorities in the next year…What we’ve mapped out is a strategy to fund those four big projects.”

McFarlane said he is “optimistic we can get this done.” He said TriMet and ODOT have worked in tandem in the past. “On Highway 26, we built the light rail line and ODOT widened the highway… This is the way we have done things.”

You can watch McFarlane’s speech at the Washington County Public Affairs Forum here and his defense of those remarks on TriMet’s YouTube channel.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post At TriMet board meeting, GM defends his advocacy for freeway expansion projects appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Oregon House passes anti-speeding bill that still allows speeding

Oregon House passes anti-speeding bill that still allows speeding

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-13.jpg

Is it unreasonable to expect people to drive at or below the speed limit in our cities?
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon House Judiciary Committee passed a bill by a vote of 9-1 yesterday that will give cities the authority to issue speeding tickets to people who are caught on red light cameras. But it only applies to people driving 11 mph or more over the speed limit.

Lawmakers and law enforcement officials included that minimum threshold in the bill because they didn’t want the measure to seem unreasonable to drivers.

The aim of House Bill 2409 is to address an enforcement gap that exists in Oregon: Red light cameras have speed sensors but the speed data isn’t part of the citation process; and photo radar vans that watch for speeding aren’t allowed to cite for red light infractions. This bill combines those two technologies into one system.

“Just normally driving through a city it is not uncommon to have your speed creep up a little bit. Technically you’re violating a traffic law; but is it reasonable to issue a citation?”
— Jim Monger, Beaverton Police Chief in testimony for the House Judiciary Committee on February 16th

Because of the traffic safety implications, the bill has broad support from law enforcement personnel and it’s supported by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation. PBOT — who operates 11 red light cameras at 10 intersections — sees the bill as a part of their Vision Zero efforts.

While the law new will encourage safer and slower driving behaviors, one of its provisions is troubling: People will only be cited if they are going 11 mph or more over the speed limit. While this approach is standard practice from police bureaus (they do it because traffic court judges often side with drivers and dismiss tickets for driving just a few miles over), to ignore this type of unsafe driving behavior in state statute seems like a step in the wrong direction. Especially for a state where nearly 500 people were killed in traffic crashes in just one year.

There’s a strange dichotomy at work here. On one hand, our leaders want to improve safety by creating a new enforcement tool. And on the other, they don’t want to cause too much trouble for the people whose behaviors cause the unsafe conditions.









When the bill was discussed by the House Judiciary Committee on February 16th, Beaverton Police Chief Jim Monger urged lawmakers to support it. When one of them asked him why the bill won’t ticket people until they go 11 mph over the speed limit, here’s how Chief Monger replied (emphasis mine):

“The idea of issuing a citation of someone traveling at a lower speed of 9 or 8 miles per hour… frankly, I feel like you’d be very hard-pressed to find an officer — or even a deputy or a state trooper — that would issue a citation for that minimal amount. Just normally driving through a city it is not uncommon to have your speed creep up a little bit. Technically you’re violating a traffic law; but is it reasonable to issue a citation? So it gets to that reasonableness…. that’s why that particular number was selected.”

Wait. What?!

Tell people who have lost loved ones from speeding about what’s “reasonable”.
(Graphic: PBOT)

According to PBOT (above) there’s four times the likelihood of death or injury when someone walking or rolling is hit by a person driving 30 mph instead of 20 mph. And the risk doubles again from someone driving 40 mph instead of 30 mph. There are major safety implications to driving even 10 mph over the speed limit.

Chief Monger and the lawmakers who agree with him are normalizing extremely dangerous behavior. Common practice or not — why one earth would the state endorse driving “double digits above the posted speed limit” — especially while driving through a city?

Another provision in the bill says that law enforcement cannot deliver two citations “from the same criminal episode.” In other words, if you are cited speeding, you cannot also be cited for running the red light — even if you are guilty of both (unless your speed is 21 mph or more over the limit).

Judiciary Committee member Representative Jeff Barker (D-Aloha) said he likes that provision. A former Portland Police Bureau lieutenant, Barker said during the February hearing that when he was at the PPB it was standard practice to only issue one ticket even if two violations were committed. “We didn’t want to double-barrel people,” he said.

Do we want to make streets safer? Or do we want to appear reasonable and friendly to people who are making them unsafe?

From here the bill will make a brief stop at the House Revenue Committee before moving over to the Senate.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.





The post Oregon House passes anti-speeding bill that still allows speeding appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Weekend Event Guide: SuperSwap, architecture, trail work party, and more

Weekend Event Guide: SuperSwap, architecture, trail work party, and more

Welcome to the weekend! We’ve got a great slate of events and rides for your consideration…

Looking to score a great deal on bike stuff? The big SuperSwap starts tonight and PAZ is hosting a garage sale on Saturday. And on Sunday, cycling legend Victor Vincente of America (his actual name) will be in town signing his new book at Velo Cult.

Get all the details below…

Friday, March 24th

SuperSwap – 4:00 to 9:00 pm at Imago Dei Central City Gym (1400 SE Ankeny St)
Score great deals on bike gear and apparel from loads of excellent vendors. Hosted by The Athletic, expect vendors with hard-to-find used items and new products from companies (including Rapha!) looking to off-load samples and overstocks. Vendor booths available at reasonable prices and there are earlybird tickets available to avoid the huge crowds. More info here.

Saturday, March 25th

Trail Work Party (NW Trail Alliance) – All day at Stub Stewart State Park
Come out and help the NWTA complete an project to repair bridges on the super-fun Stub Stewart singletrack out in Vernonia. More info here.

Biking About Architecture – Portsmouth edition – 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at Darcy’s (4804 N Lombard)
Join residential architecture lover Jenny Fosmire for this educational and fun cruise through north Portland and discover cool new places. More info here.

PAZ Garage Sale – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at PAZ HQ (SE 16th and Woodward)
PAZ is a DIY hub that provides affordable workspaces for creators, builders, and lovers of bike fun. They’re selling lots of used bike parts and frames to help raise money to keep their space open. Come for the sale, stay to learn more about this awesome community resource. More info here.

Caddyshack, the sequel – 12:00 pm at I-205 path just south of Marine Drive
Looking for a fun social ride that will introduce you to new places and people? Head over to the I-205 bike path just south of Marine Drive and meet up with the always-enthused and welcoming Maria Schur. She’ll lead the 25-mile ride that will end at Velo Cult in northeast. More info here.









Sunday, March 26th

Bike Loud PDX Monthly General Meeting – 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Lucky Lab Brew Pub (915 SE Hawthorne)
Get plugged into important and exciting bike activism efforts at the monthly meeting of Portland’s all-volunteer Bike Loud PDX group. They’ve got a full agenda and new ideas and volunteers are always welcome. More info here.

Victor Vincente of America Book Signing – 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd)
Grab this chance to meet and hang out with a legend of cycling. 74-year-old Victor Vincente of America (born Michael Hiltner) has written a book about his interesting life that included professional road racing and pioneering accomplishments in BMX and mountain biking. He was profiled last year in Dirt Rag Magazine. More info here.

Did we miss anything? If so, give it a shout out in the comments.

For more fun events, including great stuff next week and beyond, visit our full events calendar.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.





The post Weekend Event Guide: SuperSwap, architecture, trail work party, and more appeared first on BikePortland.org.