Monday, July 21, 2014

Can Alternatives to Owing a car be made More Convenient?

TriMet bus parked near MAX tracks (helping out...
TriMet bus parked near MAX tracks (helping out on opening day) in Portland, OR. Public domain photo, taken by the poster. Category:Transportation in Portland, Oregon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Honda Civic Hybrid used by Zipcar, a ...
English: Honda Civic Hybrid used by Zipcar, a carsharing service. Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Public bike sharing station (Bicing) in Hospit...
Public bike sharing station (Bicing) in Hospital del Mar, Barceloneta District (Barcelona, Catalonia). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you like me and have a large number of the chain store loyalty cards attached to your key ring that your rarely if ever use? One of the reasons that the stores use these cards is that there marketing people tell them that a customer that if a person has a loyalty card they will more likely shop at that store when they have a choice.

The problem is you get so many of these cards and many of them are nothing but a program to get access to your information so they can target even more advertising your way. There is not convenience for you as a consumer to have these cards unless you actually get something for your effort.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Is it the Pathway or is it the Urban Fabric?


TriMet is looking at closing a pathway that connects the Willow Creek Transit Center which is located just northwest of the intersection of 185th and Baseline on the MAX Blue Line. The reason behind the possible closure is because of crime and drug problems along the path so I decided to take a look at the situation first hand to see what the problems truly are here.

First here is a Google map of the area:


View Larger Map

The pathway in question goes south from the transit center to Baseline Road.
Looking from Transit Center toward Baseline Road
The picture above is looking from the Willow Creek Transit Center toward Baseline Road and instantly you can see two major problems with this pathway. The first is that there is high walls on both sides blocking views of anyone along the path and the second is that there is very little lighting along the path. In addition there is a child care facility to the left of the photo which is only open at certain times of the day and there is a single family residence located to the right of the photo.

Looking back toward the Willow Creek Transit Center from Baseline
The next picture is looking back toward the transit center from Baseline and once again you can see the problems along the path. Once again you have the fences which creates a canyon affect which is just asking for problems in addition to the bushes on the right that even further block the view of the path. While you want tree canopy to shade pathways and make them more walk-able in this case they combine with the high fences to further hide the pathway from the public.
Looking west along Baseline
Looking east from along Baseline

Once you get off the pathway you have more issues once you get to Baseline. The road is wide with narrow sidewalks and very few streetlights. As can be seen in the upper photo looking toward the west where most of the residences are you have fences that put even fewer eyes on the street. Looking east you have a child care place that is very auto centric and turns its back to the transit center then empty lot on one side of the street and a shopping center.

The problem with closing the path is that for people to residences located on either side of Baseline there it leaves a long walk. From the transit center you will have to travel out of your way and head north to Edgeway then head to 185th then south to Baseline with both of those streets being very pedestrian unfriendly. While walking is fine for many of us, we also have to take into consideration the elderly and those with limited mobility that will have a more difficult time reaching the center. The other alternative for these people will be to take the infrequent 88 bus that travels a short distance on Baseline to reach the transit center.

The problem here is not the presence of the pathway but the Urban Environment around the pathway or the lack there of. The pathway design creates a canyon and walled off effect that means that there is not eyes on the pathway. The solution is not to close the path but to find ways to make it safer which will require rethinking how it is laid out and the visibility onto it. Unfortunately it is just not the path that is the problem, the area around Baseline is auto-centric suburbia where pedestrians come last.

Hopefully a good solution can be found. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Looking for an Internship

English: A car of the Portland Streetcar syste...
English: A car of the Portland Streetcar system at the eastbound Portland State University stop, on Market Street at the South Park Blocks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some of you may remember when I mentioned I graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor's Degree. Well I immediately started the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program in September with a specialization in Transportation plus an Urban Design Certificate.

Well now I need to do 400 hours of internship hours to graduate so I am currently looking for one. You would think that I would have enough experience (especially after writing this blog for 10 years!) plus my business related background but as an older student sometimes it is difficult to find the right position.

Therefore I am checking with my readers to see if they have any leads on internships. If you have any possible leads let me know at jdornoff(at)pdx.edu.

Thank you and I will be written more in depth articles soon.
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Barbur Transit Center - The Good, Bad, the Ugly, and the Really Ugly and how it doesn't fit into the urban form


In my first entry on how transit centers fit into the urban form and how they can they can fit better into a strong vibrant urban form I showed a worse case example with the freeway based Parkrose-Sumner Transit Center near the Portland International Airport on the MAX Red Line. 

Today's entry is an even worse example and that is the Barbur Transit Center which is stuck between Interstate 5 and its predecessor Barbur Blvd which was once US Highway 99W. The Barbur Transit Center is currently the oldest transit center in the Trimet system having opened in 1977 and as you will see it is showing its age. The transit center is actually nothing but a glorified Park N' Ride lot as the area around the transit center is very auto oriented and hostile to pedestrians and is not designed to blend into the community or the community to blend into the transit center.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Trimet Parkrose/Sumner Transit Station - The good, bad and ugly


During my recent trip to the Portland International Airport for a trip to Los Angles, I took pictures of the three Red Line stations that only serve the Red Line to the airport. Unfortunately I was using a borrowed point and shoot which did not have the quality of my DSLR but the pictures will have to do. For these stations along with many others I plan to photograph soon, I will document what the existing conditions are, what the zoning is, what the plus and minuses of the station are, and what can be done from an urban design standpoint to make the station a better place now and in the future.

First up is the Parkrose/Sumner Transit Center which is the perfect example of why freeway based rail transit stations just don't work especially when all the conditions this one faces. That is not to say it is not a popular transit hub as it does serve several important bus lines but because of the freeway location will never be all it could be.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

3 Day Transit Only Trip to Los Angeles


A job interview in Los Angeles on December 20th meant I had to travel down there and get around the city. My choice was to use transit and avoid the use of a car for the entire trip. I could have taken Amtrak from Portland and it would have been about $50 cheaper than flying if I had to pay but I cashed in my frequent flyer miles and got a free round trip ticket to Los Angeles which included a free upgrade to first class on the trip back – bonus! My first preference would have been to fly into Burbank which is more convenient and has better transit access but it would have been 15,000 more miles for the ticket which is beyond what I had or wanted to spend so LAX would be the spot I flew into.

Red Line Train Arriving At Pioneer Courthouse Square with Siemens S70 cars

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How well does your trail work?

I am a walker, I love to do a lot of walking. While it may not show right now with the pounds I need to do I have walked more than 15 miles in a single day.


When I visited Portland before moving up here in 2010 and early 2011, and after moving here I would do walks suggested by Laura Foster in her books "Portland City Walks" and "Portland Hill Walks" which are two books I would highly recommend if you want to do sightseeing in Portland on foot.

However there is also times I like to walk off road trails because they tend to be quieter and I can do some hard thinking along the way. When I lived in Salt Lake City I would walk the Jordan River Trail that travels the center of the Salt Lake Valley and when I lived in Spokane, WA I would often walk the Centennial trail that traveled from Spokane to Couer D' Alene ,Idaho.

Here in Portland I live realtively close to the Fanno Creek Trail which travels from Tualatin to Portland along several different rights of way and sometimes in streets. I have walked part of the trail that is along an old rail line but have not attempted to walk the who trail until last week.

One of the problems with attempting to walk the entire Fanno Creek trail is the lack of a map that is easy to access. In fact I have not been able to find any map that shows the entire trail from beginning to end that is current. I had to piece together all the information in order to find my way.

Compare that to the Jordan River Parkway which has easy to access maps:
Jordan River Parkway

Or the Centennial Trail in the Spokane area:
Centennial Trail Map

Which is part of Google Maps

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Looking for a position...

Portland State University College of Urban & P...
Portland State University College of Urban & Public Affairs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have to apologize for not posting more frequently lately but I have been very busy between school and raising a family. I just graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Community Development from the Urban Planning and Public Affairs Department. In that time I took exciting classes such as Legal Aspects of Planning, Transportation Problems and Solutions, Urban Housing, Community Economic Development, Geology, Urban Economics, Real Estate Development, and many others.

I also had the opportunity to work on a variety projects including:
-Designed a Power Point Presentation to be used to demonstrate what to do in a natural disaster or other event that causes the area to loss its water supply.
-Created a Buy Local Campaign for the city of St. Helens, Oregon
-Wrote a history of Spokane, WA downtown revitalization attempts and recommendations for the future of the area.
-Wrote an evaluation of the Division Street corridor in Portland with recommendations for the future
-Did an evaluation of the Gray's Landing Low Income Housing project here in Portland.

Now I need to find a position where I can put my schooling and my extensive research experience to work. Looking for some type of Urban or Transportation planning position. Hopefully one of the my faithful readers will have an opportunity.

You can contact me at jdornoff (at) earthlink (dot) net.


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Friday, June 21, 2013

Now there is two...

LACMTA Metro Local #8407
LACMTA Metro Local #8407 (Photo credit: L.A. Urban Soul)

Today it was announced that North American Bus Industries better known as NABI has been purchased by New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg Canada for a grand total of $80 million dollars. Although the NABI factor in Alabama will continue to produce buses at this time (currently has 1500 buses on order), it bascially leaves to companies (New Flyer and Gillig) as the major suppliers of transit buses in the United States (plus a few niche players whose orders don't amount to much).

The biggest existing customer for NABI is currently the Los Angeles METRO who purchases most of their buses from the company, having had conflicts with several manufactures in the past although most of those such as Neoplan have already stopped producing buses or the US market.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Observations from a Chicago Trip


In April, I had the opportunity to attend the American Planning Association conference which was being held in Chicago which also meant that I would have the opportunity to explore its transit system for the first time.

For those that love exploring transit systems, Chicago is a great place to go. Not only does it have its famous "L" system which is operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), but also CTA buses, METRA Commuter trains which included diesel trains out of 3 stations in the Chicago Loop area, electric line that runs south from a fourth station, the last true interurban line the South Shore, PACE bus service and loads of private bus operations.

METRA Electric train at South Chicago (93rd Street terminus).