Walking and Biking in the New Normal

I did not expect to write this post when 2020 started. This shows how quickly the coronavirus has impacted our lives. I wish I knew when the new normal would start so I could create some consistency in my life. While I am not sure how many months physical distancing will last, it appears that physical distancing will shape the new normal. Since I have struggled to maintain at least six feet from other people when walking and biking, how can tactical urbanism be used to quickly and cheaply create spaces that allow people to maintain at least six feet from other people when walking and biking?

What is the issue?

Before share how my question could be answered, I want to make sure you understand the issue that I have been experiencing. Spencer Boomhower at Toole Design Group created this video that shows the issue.

Source: Spencer Boomhower at Toole Design Group

While I do not live in Portland, I have experienced similar physical distancing issues when I visit Portland. Portland’s Safe Streets Report shows some of the major challenges that the Safe Streets Initiative is trying to resolve. The below four issues match four numbers on the below photo.

  1. a need for additional space for walking
  2. a need for wider sidewalks
  3. transit stops without space to safely wait for the next bus
  4. a need to reinforce physical distancing guidance to support local businesses
Source: Portland Safe Streets Report

I believe maps are also a great way to show the issue. I found sidewalk width maps for New York City and Washington, DC. I used to live in the DC region, so I am more familiar with the DC map. As the below map shows, many sidewalks in one of the most walkable cities in the US are too narrow for physical distancing.

While I thought about using Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) maps to show whether bike lanes and trails are also too narrow for physical distancing, LTS analysis is not limited to bike lane and trail width so the LTS maps would not have been accurate for showing whether more space is needed for physical distancing. Due to this, I decided to show the below graphic from this International Transport Forum COVID-19 Transport Brief. The red lane on the left shows the pre-coronavirus existing bike lane. The red lane on the right shows how much space is needed to provide people with enough space for physical distancing.

How can tactical urbanism be used to resolve the issue?

While a long-term solution could be widening sidewalks, the coronavirus is killing people today due to the lack of space to physically distance from other people. I believe quick, inexpensive tactical urbanism projects are needed to resolve this emergency issue. As the below graphic shows, Portland’s Safe Streets Initiative shows how tactical urbanism projects can be used to resolve the emergency issue. Hopefully, some of these short-term projects are converted to permanent projects.

Since I have not seen a Safe Streets Initiative in any Oregon suburbs, I hope Portland’s initiative will encourage other cities throughout the Portland region to create safe spaces for people to do physical distancing. I have been advocating for Oregon City, which is where I live and work, to create a Safe Streets Initiative so I can safely do physical distancing when I am walking, biking, and waiting for the bus. I have learned through my advocacy work that people in suburban cities frequently say “we are not Portland” or “we do not want to become Portland”. Due to this, do you know of any suburban cities that have implemented a Safe Streets Initiative?

Future Blog Post

The coronavirus is also impacting my vacation plans. I was hoping to visit South America for the first time on this two-week Colombia trip. Since the coronavirus forced Colombia to lockdown, I have not scheduled my Colombia vacation yet. Due to being furloughed every Friday until the end of July (extended to Labor Day if the laws get extended) because of the economic crisis created by the coronavirus, I actually have no summer vacation planned because I would be ineligible to receive unemployment benefits from the CARES Act and Oregon Work Share if I took a vacation. While I am nervous about doing my first workation, I plan to continue working remotely as I visit family and friends in Colorado, North Carolina, and Minnesota from after work on July 9-August 2. What would you like to see me write about during my workation?

Completed My First Plan As The Project Manager

I am excited to share that I completed my first plan as the project manager when the Clackamas Community College Shuttle Service and Access Plan was completed last week! My project proposal was selected in January 2020 through a competitive process by a six-person Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student team from Portland State University. I worked with this MURP team through last week to produce the below plan.

Since the plan gives you plenty to read, I am going to keep this post short. As the below tweet from one of the faculty advisors for my MURP team shows, the coronavirus forced all of the plan’s student engagement to be converted from in-person to online. The online engagement caused many historically marginalized communities to be left out of the plan’s engagement process. In order to include these communities in the plan implementation process, I need to do in-person engagement when most students are allowed to return to in-person classes again.

I have not forgotten to write about what I discussed at the end of this post. I should have time in the next few weeks to write about walking and biking in the new normal. Even though most infrastructure in the US is not made for physical distancing, I hope everyone is finding ways to stay safe!

Opportunity to Encourage Healthy Travel Behavior in Post-Coronavirus World

As a transportation demand management (TDM) professional, I have been preparing for the new normal. The below illustration captures the current situation in the middle and two potential choices for the new normal. Since most non-essential workers are working from home instead of driving, the new normal will be the perfect opportunity to encourage these workers to try healthy modes of transportation. I do not want to return to the old normal where most people drive alone. What would happen if we went forward instead of going back to the old normal?

Transit and Driving by Returning to Old Normal in the New Normal

Due to continued physical distancing (purposely not using social distancing) after stay-at-home orders are lifted and likely safety concerns about riding transit that will prevent “choice” riders from returning to transit, the new normal where most Americans return to driving alone will likely have more traffic congestion than during the old normal. Since most stay-at-home orders in the US have not been lifted, I decided to review Chinese data to understand what could happen in the US. Yes, I realize China had a lockdown and the US never had a lockdown (stay-at-home order is not lockdown).

While I have not seen post-lockdown data from China yet, the below graphs show that private car usage has dramatically increased during the lockdown. The top graph, which comes from this Institute for Transportation and Development Policy article, shows that many bus and subway riders before the lockdown started using a private car during the lockdown. I am concerned that few of these motorists will decide to return to riding the bus or subway after the lockdown ends. This could result in China’s air quality being even worse after the lockdown than before the lockdown.

Unfortunately, transit may not have enough space or frequency to allow these motorists to ride transit again. As the below figure from this International Transport Forum’s COVID-19 Transport Brief shows, physical distancing will limit the passenger capacity of transit for the foreseeable future.

While transit agencies say the recent service cuts are only temporary, I am concerned that the service cuts will become permanent as the budgets for transit agencies do not quickly return to pre-coronavirus funding levels. Since Oregon transit agencies depend on payroll taxes, I am especially concerned about their budgets because of record unemployment claims. I keep hearing transit agencies compare the current situation to how they cut service during the Great Recession. As the below graph shows, 2020 has had more weekly unemployment claims already than any week during the Great Recession!

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/30/business/economy/coronavirus-unemployment-claims.html

Walking and Biking in the New Normal

Since this post is getting long and I need to eat dinner before an evening event, I plan to stop writing for today and move this section to a new post. Thanks for reading my blog!

Silver Lining As Transit Plan Process Is Impacted By Coronavirus

I cannot believe this is my first post of 2020! Since I was supposed to be taking the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Certification Exam again on May 23, I was not expecting to have time to blog again until after May 23. Due to the coronavirus, my exam was postponed until sometime later this year. While I am hoping that it is postponed until November, which is when the next exam is normally scheduled, my postponed exam date has not been scheduled yet. This means I can start planning a long summer vacation and continue blogging until I need to focus on studying again.

The coronavirus is impacting many people throughout the world. If this global pandemic is anything like the 1918 influenza pandemic (I will not refer to it by the racist name, especially because the flu likely did not originate in Spain) then the second wave of the coronavirus could be worse than the first wave. While I am trying not to be too political, I am concerned that the Trump Administration will prioritize restarting the economy over health concerns. Restarting the economy too early could result in a second wave of the coronavirus. Before I share how my transit plan process is being impacted by the coronavirus, I am thankful to be healthy and alive when thousands of people are dying from the coronavirus. I am also thankful for people who are risking their lives to prevent the pandemic from becoming worse.

What is my silver lining?

My silver lining is having the opportunity to experiment with conducting a fully remote student outreach process for Clackamas Community College’s first-ever transit plan! Since I am concerned that students will not engage as much through remote outreach environments as they would have through in-person outreach environments, my silver lining could still have negative results. As a silver lining for my silver lining, my consultant team and I will know how to improve our remote outreach process in the future.

I will admit that I was unsure whether it is feasible to complete the transit plan that my consultant team and I started working on in January before the global pandemic is over. This is mostly due to the fact that I have never done a fully remote outreach process for a planning project. Many other planning processes have been delayed by the coronavirus. While I asked my consultant team whether the completion of their spring term classes and June graduation from Portland State University were going to be delayed because of the coronavirus, nothing ended up being delayed so the transit plan still has to be completed by June 8.

Due to the fact that many students do not have access to reliable internet and computer access at home (CCC’s computer labs and all libraries are closed), especially in rural areas, I have been very concerned about excluding many historically marginalized communities from the student outreach process for the transit plan. While the 200 Chromebooks given to students at the start of spring term does not resolve this barrier, it allows more students to continue their classes and participate in my outreach process.

As the below work plan from March 11 shows on pages 14-15, the entire student outreach process was going to be through in-person environments. I still cannot believe the work plan was only created a month ago! Since all campus buildings are locked for the foreseeable future, CCC Xpress Shuttle service (plan is focused on CCC Xpress Shuttle) is shutdown for spring term, all spring term classes are online or canceled because they were not able to be offered online, and my consultant team and I have to work from home, the entire student outreach process was quickly converted to remote environments.

My consultant team used creative skip logic in the online survey that they created in Qualtrics. Due to this, I had difficulty deciding which remote outreach tool I am most excited to learn how to use. Since my consultant team created the online survey and I am creating the Remix map for our presentation to the Associated Student Government (ASG) at their May 6 meeting, I am most excited to learn how to effectively use Remix for remote outreach. As the below screenshot shows, Remix allows students to submit comments about the proposed new CCC Xpress Shuttle stops.

Preparing to use Remix for remote student outreach

Future Blog Post

While the coronavirus may impact what my next blog post is, I plan to update you on how the fully remote outreach process went. I plan to also share the completed transit plan. Since the revised Memorandum of Understanding for the revised outreach process was just signed last week, I cannot believe that my next blog post will likely be about the transit plan being done. In case you are wondering, a real-world transit plan is not usually completed in five months!

Which Certification(s) Should I Pursue?

I have missed blogging over the past nearly three months. Since you may be thinking that I exhausted all my ideas to blog about, I want you to know that I have thoughts to share. I felt the need to stop blogging because I needed to concentrate on studying for the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Certification Exam, which I took and barely failed on November 10. In case you are curious about how comprehensive the 170-question (only 150 questions are scored) exam is, it covers the following five major topic areas:

Fundamental Planning Knowledge (25% of exam content)
Plan Making and Implementation (30% of exam content)
Areas of Practice (30% of exam content)
Leadership, Administration and Management (5% of exam content)
AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (10% of exam content)

While I thought Planning Prep’s free practice exams and questions would help me prepare for the exam, I learned the hard way that the exam questions were very different from the practice questions on Planning Prep. This website was created in 2001 and the exam has changed several times with the most recent change occurring in 2017, so I am not too surprised that Planning Prep has not been able to keep up with the exam changes. I learned helpful planning knowledge while using Planning Prep, so I see a silver lining. Hopefully, Planetizen’s $255 AICP Exam Preparation Class will better prepare me for the exam. Since I do not want to forget what I studied for the past two months and want to stop stressing about the exam as soon as possible, I plan to retake it in May 2020. I will have to keep putting my blog on hold so I can prioritize studying again.

As the title of this post shows, my decision about whether to keep pursuing the AICP was not an easy decision. This decision has become harder over the years because I have learned that other planning-related certifications exist. I was only focused on the AICP when I was evaluating where to attend grad school. Even though there are other planning-related certifications, Portland State University’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program only promotes the AICP on its website. I graduated from PSU’s MURP program in June 2016.

Which certification(s) should I pursue?

Since I thought it was automatically assumed that all MURP alumni would pursue the AICP like I believe all engineers pursue the Professional Engineer (PE), I have been surprised to learn that many MURP alumni do not plan to pursue the AICP. While I still plan to pursue the AICP, I wanted to share other certifications that I may pursue in the future.

My job involves working on Transportation Demand Management (TDM) projects. The Association for Commuter Transportation is launching the TDM-Certified Professional (TDM-CP) in Spring 2020. Since many TDM professionals are planning to pursue or have the AICP, will our profession consider the TDM-CP as prestigious as the AICP?

TDM-CP Promo Image

Another planning-related certification is the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU)’s CNU-Accredited (CNU-A). My review of comments on Cyburbia comparing CNU-A to AICP shows that many planners view the CNU-A as a scam and the AICP as credible. Since both certifications have similar processes, it appears the main reason why the CNU-A is viewed as a scam is it was launched after the AICP.

CNUa-High-Res-300x300

Since I manage public engagement projects, I am considering the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2)’s Certified Public Participation Professional (CP3) or Master Certified Public Participation Professional (MCP3). These certifications are also pursued by planners that have the AICP.

IAP2 Certification

Michigan State University’s National Charrette Institute has a Charrette Certificate Program that looks similar to the IAP2’s certification program. As you may remember, I helped manage the planning, execution, and follow-up for a five-day intensive community planning charrette for the City of Alexandria, VA. Since my dad graduated from The Ohio State University (alumni really do emphasize “The”) and my maternal grandma watches OSU sports when I visit her, I doubt they would enjoy me going through a Michigan State University program. I guess it could be worse. The program could be through the University of Michigan, which is OSU’s archrival.

NCI

While I do not use GIS as much as I used to during previous jobs, I have thought about pursuing the Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) someday. Since I do not have four years of full-time GIS experience yet, I do not qualify to apply for the GISP yet.

GISCIlogo

Before I started studying for the AICP this year, I took three project management courses at Clackamas Community College. My teacher has been encouraging me to keep taking courses after I pass the AICP. He has been persuading me to pursue Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

pmp

I am exhausted just thinking about all of these certifications! Most of them require an exam and the application processes are not cheap. Since it appears most planners see the AICP as the most prestigious planning-related certification, I plan to start with this certification. Do you think I should pursue other certifications after I get the AICP or is one certification enough?

Planning for People Over Cars in Downtown Oregon City

Since I am the Transportation Advisory Committee’s representative on the Downtown Oregon City Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Implementation Working Group, the City of Oregon City invited me to join this group on a tour of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project and Downtown Oregon City. In case you are unfamiliar with the Willamette Falls Legacy Project, I recommend watching the below video.

Even though the working group knows we need to prioritize people over cars because there will not be enough space to park all the cars on the Willamette Falls Legacy Project site, I found it interesting that the first thing the tour guide showed us was where cars would be parked on the future site. The tour guide even shared a specific location for the interim on-site surface parking lot and an estimate on the number of cars that could be parked in this lot.

While I assumed the tour guide was referring to parked cars because most people in Oregon City drive, he only said “parking” so I asked the tour guide to clarify what type of parking and whether there would be parking for bikes. My assumption was correct that he was only referring to car parking when he said “parking”. Thankfully, he said there would also be parking for bikes because the City requires bike parking. However, he was unable to provide a specific location for bike parking and how many bikes could be parked.

According to the below diagram, car “parking supply at full build-out of the site is estimated at 1,150 spaces off-street, and 85 spaces on-street.” Even though the City requires bike parking, I could not find any diagram for bike parking. This shows me that the project vision prioritizes car parking. On a positive note, minimum car parking space requirements may be reduced by up to 50% because the site is part of the downtown parking district.

In addition to being excited to hear about the potential for a 50% reduction of car parking, I was excited to hear that City staff are considering whether to remove mandatory car parking minimums in the downtown parking district. While I am sure there will be internal and public resistance, City staff want to give developers the flexibility to decide whether or not to include car parking in their projects. City staff said the mandatory car parking minimums have prevented many downtown developments from being built because the projects could not pencil out. As the below map shows, there is an international movement to remove car parking minimums.

While I was not satisfied with the tour guide’s answers, I was told that we would discuss bike parking more at a later point in the planning process. Even though I am used to bike parking being an afterthought in Oregon City, I was still frustrated that I had to ask for “parking” to be clarified and request that bike parking be discussed. Do Dutch and Danish planners have to ask for this clarification or do their tour guides automatically specify which type of parking?

As you know, I will be presenting on a panel at the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) Conference in Portland on August 26 from 1:45-3:15pm (here is the agenda for August 26). Several Dutch and Danish planners that I have communicated with will be at this international conference, so I plan to ask them the above parking question.

Ray’s Behavior Change from 2009-2019

While I now get frustrated about having to clarify “parking” and request that bike parking be discussed, this shows how much I have changed over the past ten years. As I wrote about in this 2014 post and the below 2009 article shows, I used to advocate for cars by supporting the widening of North Carolina Highway 3 in Kannapolis. I said the below statement during my senior year at Northwest Cabarrus High School and just a semester before I started at UNC Charlotte. I was actually one of the few residents that supported the widening project. As this article shows, most people opposed the project because they wanted to maintain the rural character along this section of Highway 3. They felt widening Highway 3 would bring too much dense development and traffic congestion. Since I tell people that I was raised in a suburban area, it feels weird to see the articles described my home as being in a rural area.

Not everyone was opposed to the idea of a wider N.C. 3. Ray Atkinson lives about a mile off of the highway.
“I think it’s good to plan for growth,” Atkinson said. The N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis would benefit from the proposed improvements, he added.

Front Page_Hortizontal3

Kannapolis Citizen article from January 28, 2009

Translating My Kannapolis Experience to Oregon City

Even though most people on the Willamette Falls Legacy Project and Downtown Oregon City tour saw me as the bike advocate, I am curious how much their perception of and interaction with me would have changed if I shared my Kannapolis experience. In addition to advocating for cars in Kannapolis, I experienced the closure of Cannon Mills (aka Pillowtex) in 2003. I have followed the redevelopment of this closed mill site into the North Carolina Research Campus. The redevelopment has also included areas beyond the closed mill site in Downtown Kannapolis. This redevelopment had such a large impact on me that I studied it for my high school senior exit project in Fall 2008. The Willamette Falls Legacy Project and redevelopment of Downtown Oregon City reminds me of my work in Downtown Kannapolis.

High School Senior Project

Mrs. Andersen, who was my high school teacher and advisor for my senior exit project, and I looking at a 1950s map of Kannapolis, NC in Fall 2008.

Translating My Tigard Experience to Oregon City

I also see similarities between my work in Tigard and Oregon City. As this 2016 post shows, my PSU planning workshop team consulted for the City of Tigard and worked with State of Place to conduct a walkability study in the Tigard Triangle and Downtown Tigard. The Downtown Oregon City TDM Implementation Working Group plans to work with City staff to conduct a walkability and bikeability study in Downtown Oregon City. I plan to write a future blog post about this study after it launches.

Car-Free Vacationing

While I recently returned from a ten-day family vacation, I already feel the need for another vacation because my family vacation was stressful. Exploring Philadelphia was fun but being stuck in my parents’ van for seven days and dealing with my parents’ unwillingness to effectively communicate with their in-laws was not relaxing. It felt awkward to tell my boss and others that I did not have a relaxing vacation because most people assume you return from vacation rejuvenated. The main reason I was willing to give up a relaxing vacation is that both of my grandmas are in their 90s. I am not sure how many more times I will get to share experiences with them.

Thankfully, I still have opportunities to have relaxing vacations. A cool benefit of working at Clackamas Community College is three-day weekends during the summer term, which is from the last week of June through Labor Day. In addition to getting every Friday off during summer term, I only have to work 36 hours Monday-Thursday to get paid for working 40 hours. Since not everyone gets Friday off, I have missed off-campus meetings that are scheduled on Friday. The meeting organizers update me after the meeting so I stay informed.

I found writing this post interesting because I started writing it in 2015. I have 46 draft posts that I have not published. The Willamette Week link I inserted in the 2015 draft no longer sends people to an article about taking the bus to hike in the Portland region. The below photo is from the 2015 article.

Map showing it is possible to hike by using transit

Map showing it is possible to hike by using transit

As the below map shows, transit services to the Columbia River Gorge have greatly improved in the past four years. The Columbia Gorge Car-Free website helps me plan my weekend vacations without using a car. While I visited The Dalles for a Transportation Options Group of Oregon meeting, I was not able to stay in The Dalles long enough to really explore.

Gorge Transit

Map of transit services in the Columbia River Gorge. Source: Gorge TransLink

Since I want to do more than hike in the Columbia River Gorge, I am excited to see that the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail is almost completed! I will be able to take transit from Portland to the Columbia River Gorge to hike and bike. The below videos explain the history of the 100-year-old Historic Columbia River Highway, what is being done to convert it to a trail, and how the local communities feel this new trail will impact their communities.

Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Source: ODOT

I am also excited about the Salmonberry Trail, which will someday allow me to bike from the Portland region to the Oregon Coast.

I also enjoy traveling beyond Oregon. I can use Amtrak, Greyhound or BoltBus take car-free weekend vacations to places like Seattle, Vancouver (BC), and California. I will be presenting on a panel at the Association of Commuter Transportation (ACT) Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Forum in Seattle on November 12-13. This provides me a great opportunity to explore Seattle and Vancouver during the weekend before my presentation. November will be a busy month for me because I will also be taking the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Exam.

ACT-2019-TDM-Forum-SEATTLE

Source: Association of Commuter Transportation

Since my 29th birthday is in September and my work projects should be less busy in September because there will be no CCC Xpress Shuttle service most of September, I am thinking about taking a long vacation in September. The PSU Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Travel Program has a nine-day Costa Rica Unplugged tour in September that includes exclusive discounts of up to 15% off per trip! The trip is limited to 18-35-year-olds. I prefer to avoid tourist traps so I enjoyed reading how this trip has “Local Guides who make tourist traps a thing of the past.” The tour starts on a Saturday and ends on a Sunday, so I thought I would only need to take five days off work. Since the tour does not include roundtrip San Jose flights and each flight takes a day, I would need to take seven days off work. Unfortunately, I do not have this many days saved so I will need to think about this trip next year.

I would enjoy learning about how other people plan car-free vacations. Have you tried to plan a car-free vacation? Where did you go? Did the transportation services connect smoothly or did you experience barriers? Would you do it again?

Ray’s Family Vacation to Ohio and Pennsylvania

I find it interesting to think about a place before visiting it for the first time. While I had a layover in Philadelphia as I was flying to the British Isles in 2003 (yes, I was 12 years old), I did not leave the airport so this does not count as visiting Philadelphia. I flew to the British Isles through the People to People Student Ambassador Program. Even though I have not really visited Philadelphia, I feel a strong connection to it because I cannot think of a better city to celebrate Independence Day. I also helped plan where to install Indego bikeshare stations in Philadelphia during my internship at Toole Design Group. I did the planning and GIS work in Toole’s Silver Spring, MD office, so I did not visit Philadelphia during this project.

While I know where the Indego stations are, I struggled to decide where to stay in Philadelphia because I wanted to avoid staying in the tourist areas. I wanted to find a racially diverse and affordable neighborhood where I could experience being a local. I finally reserved an Airbnb in the Lower Moyamensing neighborhood in South Philadelphia because this neighborhood appears to be far from the tourist areas and near racially diverse neighborhoods.

South Philly Race Map

Racial Dot Map of South Philadelphia. Source: https://demographics.virginia.edu/DotMap/index.html

I realize I am white but being surrounded by only white people in Oregon City feels weird and gets exhausting. While I often hate on the South because of the bad political and religious decisions, I miss the South’s racial diversity. Since I have not seen many non-white people for months, I would not be surprised if I experience culture shock in Philadelphia.

Oregon City Race Map

Racial Dot Map of Oregon City. Source: https://demographics.virginia.edu/DotMap/index.html

I also expect to be shocked by the weather in Philadelphia because the high in Oregon City has only been in the 70s with low humidity. Philadelphia has highs in the 90s with high humidity! Since I was shivering during Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride last Saturday evening, it would have been nice to have warmer weather in Portland. Yes, I biked nude in public through Portland’s streets with 10,000 other cyclists. This was my fourth World Naked Bike Ride. While many people have told me they think it is weird to be naked in public, I enjoy seeing how people decorate their bodies to protest automobile dependency. Since many people have body image issues, it is an amazing experience to feel comfortable enough with friends to be naked together.

It’s getting late and I have to work tomorrow. While I wanted to finish this post before departing on vacation, it appears I will have to finish writing it later.

Reflecting on my 1st year at Clackamas Community College and 2nd-year goals

I was planning to write this post on June 11, which was the day I started working at Clackamas Community College (CCC) in 2018. This was my first-ever full-time work anniversary. I moved back to Oregon to start this job so this also means that I have been back in Oregon for a year. Since I have been busier than usual and was involved with leading my first request for proposal (RFP) process, I had to postpone writing this post. I am going to use this 2018 post to help me write the below post. I want to share the below photo before diving into how these people helped me this academic year.

Successes

I spent most of the 2018-19 academic year applying for two grants. Since I received a $150,000 grant from Oregon Metro, my job is secure through June 2022. I also helped the City of Oregon City apply for and receive a $150,000 grant to build upon their 2017 Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan. The City asked me to serve as the Transportation Advisory Committee’s representative on the Downtown Oregon City TDM Implementation Working Group. The Oregon Metro grant will help fund this group’s work.

The other large grant I applied for and received was a $273,083.25 Oregon DOT grant. This grant funds the expansion of the CCC Xpress Shuttle through June 2021. Thankfully, the grant will be available again in 2021 so I can pursue the grant again to continue the expansion indefinitely. The shuttle expansion includes summer term service for the first time ever and extended evening service year-round when school is in session. As a result of the RFP process, which selected WeDriveU as the new shuttle operator, I have been able to improve the shuttle service. WeDriveU works with Tripshot, which provides the shuttle service with real-time ETAs. The shuttle service previously only used paper schedules and General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data.

I want to thank Amy Cannata, who is the Grants Administrator, for helping me apply for the grants.

Struggles

While I had many successes during my first year, my reflection process also needs to include things that could be improved. I have been struggling to plan and fund an on-demand shuttle from rural Clackamas County to Oregon City. Even though I tried to convince Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) teams from Portland State University (PSU) to select my workshop project proposal, no team selected my proposal to create a Rural Access Plan for how to improve access from rural Clackamas County to Oregon City.

I also did not receive a $50,000 Transportation Options Innovation Grant from ODOT to fund the on-demand shuttle. This grant required a plan for guaranteed long-term funding when the short-term grant funding was exhausted. Unfortunately, I was unable to guarantee this long-term funding so ODOT was unwilling to provide short-term funding for the on-demand shuttle.

While I did not receive the Transportation Options Innovation Grant, ODOT provided me with a silver lining. Since I manage the CCC Xpress Shuttle, ODOT was able to provide me with free access to Remix. This includes free training and customer support. With help from Remix, I am self-teaching myself on how to use Remix for a variety of transportation planning.

My 2nd-Year Goals at CCC

I am constantly asked about providing transportation options to reach the Wilsonville campus and from rural Clackamas County. These are my top 2nd-year goals. Thankfully, Wilsonville’s SMART received a grant to subsidize vanpools to and from Wilsonville. We are planning to launch vanpools this fall between the Wilsonville campus and the other two campuses in Oregon City and Milwaukie.

In order to plan and fund the on-demand shuttle from rural Clackamas County to Oregon City, I am realizing that I need to take a different approach. Since the shuttle needs long-term operation funding, short-term grant funders will keep asking me to provide proof that I have a plan for guaranteed long-term funding. One way to show this proof could be to show that the shuttle is in adopted transit plans. The shuttle is not in any adopted transit plans so I have started the processes to include it in as many plans as possible. These plans will be used to decide what transit projects are eligible to receive long-term funding.

A work-related personal goal is achieving my American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification. Since I have a master’s degree in planning from a Planning Accreditation Board-accredited program and two years of full-time professional planning experience, I am eligible to apply to take the AICP Certification Exam in November. I applied before the Early Bird Deadline, so I should know by August 5 whether or not my application was approved.

Future Blog Post

Since my North Carolina-based family is planning a July 4-14 vacation with me to visit my grandmas, other relatives, and friends in Ohio and Pennsylvania, I plan to write a post about this. I will be in Philadelphia for my first time from July 4-6. In addition to celebrating Independence Day in Philadelphia, I plan to check out Indego because I helped plan where to install the bikeshare stations during my 2014 internship at Toole Design Group.

After I take Greyhound from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, my family will pick me up in Pittsburgh to take me to Erie, which is where Grandma Atkinson lives. My family will then visit the Cleveland area, which is where Grandma Stoodt and my other Stoodt relatives live. Since Columbus won the USDOT’s 2016 Smart City Challenge, I asked my family to visit Columbus so I could meet with City officials working on making Columbus a smart city. I fly back to Portland in the evening on July 13 and return to work on July 15.