These comments are painful because the concerns are completely valid ones that I identify with, while I also support Occupy Portland's core ideas.
I agree the parks' damage is unconscionable and OP (including me, even though I never camped out) should shoulder responsibility for repairs. I also believe that in most cases the City experiences major cost overruns on all types of projects and can not be counted on to project nor deliver realistic figures. Our city's bloated bureaucracy and climate of excessive spending (e.g., inflated service/maintenance costs, the kind of riot police response that's already expensive and the readiness to use physical force that causes the City to pay out hefty lawsuits) is itself a problem that needs addressing. Moreover, I agree the original message of OP has been obscured, although the massive peaceful turnout early Sunday morning suggests otherwise.
If OP is going to gain the support of completely reasonable people like yourselves, who don't want undue burden placed on already-tight City funding and would like to see constructive action and dialogue rather than meaningless confrontation, the movement has to radically reorient its tactics. I've written an open letter to OP on the topic, which I have been attempting to spread around. I hope anyone interested will take a look at it and provide any input or ideas they have.
"JoeC: That's a whole lot of logical gymnastics to support those claims. "
1. 30% of drivers currently travel over the speed limit on N Williams (which poses a substantive danger to those walking along, parking on and otherwise using the street).
2. Bicycle traffic currently composes 35% of the traffic on the street, yet is allotted 15% of the street surface.
I walk up and down this street every day, 7 days a week, and can confirm from firsthand experience that the way it is currently structured is not safe for its users. Outside my front window, I see accidents waiting to happen (and at least two have in the last month, just at the closest intersection). Regardless of the fact that auto usage is down and alternative transportation up nationally and locally, a trend that is likely to continue in future, N Williams ought to be safer for all and better reflect its existing usage.
Of the options, one that had the most support at a previous SAC was a separated cycletrack. The cycletrack as proposed would involve removing a lane of auto traffic, but NOT the removal of any parking. Moreover, this very article--the one you are commenting on--even says, "There's also—officially—lots of extra parking, with 721 spots along a street [that] has an average daily need of only 287."
So, parking will NOT be affected if a cycletrack is implemented.
Secondly, auto accommodation & travel lanes are not proportionately linear (ie, just because one goes down does not mean the other will). As an engineer from PBOT made clear at the last N Williams SAC, changing the light at Williams/Shaver from fixed to actuated (that is, from timed to triggered) would allow it to accommodate the same number of cars with one fewer lane. It would simply disperse the traffic more evenly in that segment of the street.
So, traffic would NOT be affected if a cycletrack is implemented.
Unlike you and Colin, I actually live in this neighborhood--on Williams itself. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the actual statistics and specifics of the project before perpetuating misinformation and misconceptions of what this project would actually involve. All of this information is readily available online.
And your complete commitment to in no way, shape or form contribute to the conversation constructively nor attempt to help foster better ties between Portlanders of all income levels and ethnicities is also duly noted... sir.
If current project proposals would neither a) take away existing parking spots nor b) reduce the ability for N Williams to accommodate the same amount of auto traffic... where's the argument?
I think it's extremely important to point out a few aspects that are clearly missing from this conversation.
1. The N Williams project is intended to adjust the street to meet its CURRENT usage needs. Not its projected needs, nor its imagined needs. The reality is that there are more people walking and biking along this street than it can currently accommodate in a safe and orderly fashion.
2. Any adjustment to the street will make it safer for everyone to use--those driving, walking and biking, regardless of ethnicity and income level. Currently, the dangers faced to all by the speed and frequency of auto travel on the street--where 30% of drivers go over the speed limit, and cars constantly leapfrog one another--is one of basic safety, not changing demographics.
3. Much of the current congestion on N Williams is from those seeking to bypass traffic on 5-North. If N Williams is changed to better reflect its status as a neighborhood collector (and not an arterial), all the WA-plated traffic backing up on it during rush hour will likely evaporate, and locally-based auto usage will not be impeded.
4. Contrary to popular belief, traveling by bicycle is not the domain of the latte-sipping elite. Statistics have shown that on average nearly 1/3rd of those who bike are in the lowest income quartile, whereas among the top 3 quartiles bike usage is evenly divided. (Hint as to why: what costs more, a car or a bike?)
5. Based on basic principles of urban planning, the placement of major arterials, highways and thoroughfares does more to divide, displace and alienate communities than any improvements in walking/biking infrastructure, which in almost all cases improves the quality of life and basic safety of ALL neighbors. (The historic inner N/NE African-American community in Portland is home to the monstrous 5 freeway, which literally cut the heart of the black community in half when it was situated there, Interstate, the current thoroughfare that is Williams, and the hotbed of speeding that is MLK.)
6. The African-American community is one disproportionately afflicted by diabetes and obesity-related illnesses and health complications. Therefore, they are among those who could benefit most from any improvement to active-transportation infrastructure that encourages further usage of the same. (Maybe this important truth is the key to overcoming the "us vs them" mentality at play on both sides of this issue. Perhaps through bike programs for youth, pastor encouragement of active forms of transportation among their congregation, etc., these two completely complementary camps may bridge their considerable divide.)
7. The process of gentrification currently undergoing in the neighborhood has more to do with past and present practices and policies--official and unofficial-- at City Hall and at the state government level (e.g., discriminatory lending practices, disinvestment, aggressive hospital campus growth--like Legacy Emanuel's and Kaiser's, both in the neighborhood--or the racism being rectified at FHC of Oregon: http://is.gd/xHPnnS ) than it does with small, cost-effective PBOT restructuring of neighborhood streets to, again, accommodate EXISTING usage levels.
Veganism is not elitist, vegans aren't sissies, and vegan food is not inedible.
I find it highly ironic that in response to a post about what is essentially discrimination, people taking issue with the discrimination are mindlessly prejudiced themselves.
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