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Old Posted Jun 14, 2008, 5:45 PM
RED_PDXer RED_PDXer is offline
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Originally Posted by JordanL View Post
I seem to be missing something that other people know though. How does getting rid of freeways/purposely making it less convenient to own a motorized vehicle make it any less trouble to use alternate transit options? I think the freeway's are ugly, noisy and intrusive, but I don't see the alternatives people are referring to.
Limiting sprawl makes taking transit much easier. That's a no-brainer. Instead of riding Line 4 from the equivalent of Mt. Hood, you're riding it from Mt. Tabor (a 60+ mile commute is not unusual in LA or other sprawled places). It takes you 30-40 minutes to get to work as opposed to 2 hours like it would in LA. A local bus is always going to be slow, but only taking it 3 miles as opposed to 60 miles makes it tolerable. Taking transit to/from downtown is feasible for just about everywhere in this region on regional transit. It takes about 1 hour at most from Gresham or Hillsboro to downtown Portland if taking MAX. On the other hand, if there were freeways on every corridor, neighborhoods would be disconnected from their main streets, small businesses would be less likely to thrive from local consumers, walking to your destination or to transit would be more cumbersome, biking would probably be considered far too unsafe for 99.9% of the population, and vast parking lots would be the most dominate image of our region. I won't even go into the environmental effects of those actions.

Of course it'd be nice to travel more quickly on transit than riding a bus in mixed traffic, but that requires more density and more transit ridership to justify that level of investment. We're investing in more MAX lines on certain corridors where the right of way and opportunity for TODs are more conducive to regional transit, but we're never gonna have regional transit lines on every corridor.

It seems like you're gripe is with the adequacy of our transit system, which is totally justified from where you are on Division near Mt. Tabor. I think there's a huge demand for transit connections between the whole of SE Portland and N/NE Portland and there's currently no easy way to serve that demand. For one thing, there are few streets that directly provide that type of trip. Transferring once or twice is necessary for most "suburb to suburb" trips at this point, but it doesn't haven't be in the future. We can invest in better transit, and use it more frequently.

In summary, there are two things going on here.. personal decisions and level of investment in non-auto infrastructure. If you really want a quick trip into downtown for work or otherwise, you could live close to a MAX station (like I purposely did) or close-in on a bus line. If you want a quick trip to work in general, you could move closer to work (for some people that's Wilsonville, Hillsboro or wherever those human factories are located). Most people have a choice and until recently, the decision to reduce the commute distance or locate near transit hasn't even registered for the majority of the population. Secondly, there needs to be more investment in "other" ways for people to get around to reduce the harmful side effects of "too much" driving and automobile dependence. This means better bike facilities, more intelligent transportation systems for transit (traffic signal coordination with buses), bus-only lanes, more MAX lines, more buses, etc. However, to justify spending more on transit and other modes, we need more people making personal decisions in support of these modes such as choosing to live in higher density housing near work/transit connections, commuting by bus, MAX or bike, walking to your neighborhood store instead of driving to a big box store 6 miles away, etc...

I can't spend all day speaking to the ill-effects of auto-dependence and sprawl, but hopefully this is step toward that understanding.
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