Sunday, April 15

Step It Up - Cutting Carbon Emissions

Yesterday about 25 wonderful folks came down to People's Coop to join the Step It Up bicycle tour. Some people came from as far away as West Linn and Vancouver. The ride was sponsered by Exchange Cycle Tours and showcased examples of how individuals can become more energy efficient and reduce the impact that each of us has on Global Climate change. We started at Peoples where we learned a little about each other and what role bicycle transportation has on ecological respect.
After this Sarah talked to us about People's Coop, what it is, and how the building contributes to the health of the city. We learned about the building's rainwater catchment system, recycled materials, the cob wall, and the passive heating system. Sara shared the advantages of being a part of a community store like Peoples.
We then rode through Ladds Addition which is a neighborhood designed to reduce automobile speeds and foster a bike & pedestrian friendly environment. We continued to Northeast Portland where we met up with Brian Bacon and learned about the green features of his residence. The house has 1200 square feet of windows on the south side which heats up the concrete floor and keeps the house at a warm temperature. He shared the effort he went through to use recycled materials throughout the house. The driveway is used for a garden rather than for an automobile, and the highly insulated walls keep the heat where it's supposed to be. After a brief tour of this wonderful house, we were off again to the west side where we stopped at the EcoTrust Building and met Jen Marlow. Jen had set up a large canvas and some non-toxic paints for us to paint our wheels and create a mural of bike tracks. This was hugely fun and we created a truly wonderful painting. From there it was off to the finale at the Step It Up rally downtown. The irony was palpable that we arrived just as a woman was paying the meter for her car. However we put 20 bikes in the parking space behind her and caught Eric Sten talking about improving Portland's environmental status through energy efficiency and sensible transportation. There were so many incredible people and innovative ideas floating around. I feel that we really made an impact and raised awareness for ways in which people can be the change they want to see.

Thursday, April 5

Sellwood Bridge update

Last night I attended the 4th in a series of meetings on the Sellwood Bridge design. As I covered in a previous post, the Sellwood Bridge project will offer several options for users of the bridge to bring their comments to the county. Unlike other transportation improvements, there is a lot to be thankful for on this project. First of all, since the leading agency is Multnomah County and not ODOT, we can be sure that intelligent transportation modes will be fully accomodated. Mia Birk is on board as an advisor and her comments are well respected by the committee. Secondly there is a very strong interest by residents to ensure that bike/ped transportation as well as transit are comfortable and efficient. The current estimates are that bike traffic across the bridge will be 10 times higher by 2030. This shows a great willingness to respect us as users.
The main focus of the meeting was to hear input regarding the bridge's cross-section, and how the crossing would be routed. Residents had a great many comments and there was some very heated discussion. While Ian was giving his presentation, several outspoken residents started making comments which were requested to be afterwards. Control was almost lost when a number of attendees started shouting out comments and questions. Some of the questions were not even about the bridge itself, but about Tacoma and it's traffic. I was impressed with how well Ian kept his cool and calmly got everyone to follow the public input process.
I feel comfortable with the results that we will be getting from this effort. There are a lot of good people involved, and Multnomah appears to have it's priorities well setup. I only hope that the bridge will be completed before material and construction costs spiral up beyond the range of accessability.
If you haven't filled out the survey, be sure to put your input to the city to support intelligent solutions.