Evaluating Minneapolis’ Stay Healthy Streets Initiative

I am back in Oregon City, which is a suburb south of Portland, Oregon. While I plan to write a post about what Oregon City and other suburban cities like Tigard (Oregon) and Bellevue (Washington) are and are not doing to provide pedestrians and cyclists with enough space for physical distancing, I want to write one more post about what I experienced during my 24-day workation. As a refresher, this post shows the walking and biking issues that currently prevent people from being able to do physical distancing.

Minneapolis’ Stay Healthy Streets Initiative

One of the reasons I visited Minneapolis is because I wanted to evaluate how Minneapolis planners approached their Stay Healthy Streets Initiative. Since humans make mistakes and no one could have predicted that a Stay Healthy Streets Initiative was needed in 2020, I valued learning from mistakes made in Minneapolis because this allows me to improve how I do my work. While it is difficult to see the below map (WordPress requires me to pay to install a plugin that would allow me to embed the PDF), my evaluation of the Stay Healthy Streets Initiative is focused on West River Parkway, which Stephan and I biked from Minnehaha Regional Park to Downtown Minneapolis.

Source: City of Minneapolis, MN

Confusing Public Info Signs

The below public information signs were both on West River Parkway. Since we wanted to bike on a parkway, the right sign states “Pedestrians Only” on parkways and the left sign states “Cyclists Single-File on Right” on parkways, I was confused about whether Stephan and I could bike on the parkway. We ended up seeing many people biking on West River Parkway, so we decided to bike on the parkway. I need to ask Minneapolis planners why the parkway uses are shown differently on signs along the same parkway.

Photos by Ray Atkinson

Construction Zone Has No Bike Ramp

Stephan and I encountered a construction zone on West River Parkway, which has a trail along the parkway. According to the left public information sign, Minneapolis planners knew that cyclists would be using the parkway because the trail is not wide enough to provide space for physical distancing. Due to this, I thought Minneapolis planners would have required the construction contractor to install a temporary bike ramp between the parkway and trail. While this temporary bike ramp may seem minor, it shows that planners are thinking about how cyclists will travel through a construction zone. I saw temporary bike ramps when I studied abroad in Denmark and the Netherlands.

Photo by Ray Atkinson

Dock Blocked In Minneapolis

Stephan quickly learned what happens when bikeshare users are dock blocked. While the below photo is a bad example, imagine all of the docks being full so no more bikes can be docked. This is called being dock blocked. Since Stephan and I were dock blocked several times, which resulted in us having to pay extra because we didn’t return our bike within 30 minutes, I doubt Stephan is going to use Nike Ride Minnesota (bikeshare) again anytime soon.

Photo of Nice Ride Minnesota by Ray Atkinson

Portland’s Hybrid Bikeshare Approach

While I have not used Portland Biketown (bikeshare) much because I live and work in Oregon City, I doubt it is possible to get dock blocked because Portland Biketown uses a hybrid approach. Since Stephan and I likely would use the pay-as-you-go plan when Stephan visits Portland (I invited him to visit) and this plan has an extra fee for parking at a public bike rack instead of a station, it is important to note that only the annual membership has no extra fee for parking at a public bike rack.

Source: Portland Biketown

Future Blog Post

As you may remember, I need to study for the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Certification Exam. While the coronavirus could postpone my exam again, I am scheduled to take it for my second time on November 21. Lindze and Allison, who both live in North Carolina, are also taking the exam in November. Even though we are three hours apart, our first virtual study session is this Sunday. My Portland area study group has not started meeting yet, so I am thankful to have study partners in North Carolina.

Unfortunately, I will have to reduce blogging while I am studying for the exam. While I already have thoughts about how I want to evaluate Oregon City, Tigard, and Bellevue’s approaches to providing or not providing pedestrians and cyclists with enough space for physical distancing, I am not sure when I will have time to publish the post. In case you are wondering why I am focusing on suburban cities in my next post on physical distancing, I am concerned about how much focus many planners have had on large cities and how few suburban cities are providing pedestrians and cyclists with extra space for physical distancing.

I am also excited to partner with Stephan to write blog posts about the perception of a minority group like American active transportation users (the focus on “American” is important because active transportation users are not a minority in every country) not receiving similar attention as minority racial groups during diversity, equity, and inclusion discussions. I should clarify that I support the attention that racism is receiving. The US has many diversity, equity, and inclusion discussions that need to be discussed.

Stephan and I also discussed partnering on a post about the difference between a crash and accident. The reason why this post is important is because many people believe car crashes are accidents. We will explain why this distinction is important. It appears there are plenty of posts to write later this year and in 2021 when I am done with the AICP Certification Exam in November.

Minneapolis at Eye Level

“Minneapolis at Eye Level” is a reference to “The City at Eye Level”. While I have had a layover in Minneapolis before, I was able to exit the airport during this trip. I have been catching up with Stephan and his family. Since Stephan has not biked recently, I was impressed that he was able to keep up with me as we used Nice Ride Minnesota (bikeshare) to bike from the Bakken Museum around Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) and along the Midtown Greenway. We planned to bike to Downtown Minneapolis but ended up not having enough time. While we did not make it to Downtown Minneapolis, we were impressed by Urban Ventures, 29th Street shared street, and the George Floyd memorial.

29th Street Shared Street

We did not realize the 29th Street shared street existed but we are glad we came across it when we exited the Midtown Greenway to find a Nice Ride Minnesota station. In addition to having a shared street, we were also impressed with the artwork.

George Floyd Memorial

Visiting the George Floyd Memorial was a powerful experience. Since I doubt the existing memorial will last through Minneapolis’ harsh winter, I hope Minneapolis creates a permanent memorial.

One-Way Trail Caused Difficulty for Transportation

We encountered difficulty biking back to the Bakken Museum along the one-way trail around Bde Maka Ska (formally Lake Calhoun) after biking along the Midtown Greenway. Since we could not find a parallel bike route, we biked the wrong way along the one-way trail. Several cyclists told us that we were going the wrong way but did not tell us where to find a correct bike route. I told Stephan that I believe the trail around Bde Maka Ska was made for recreational cyclists that wanted to bike the whole way around the lake. The trail was not made for transportation cyclists that wanted to bike from the Midtown Greenway to the Bakken Museum.

Future Blog Post

Stephan and I are about to head to Minneapolis again today to bike from Minnehaha Falls to Downtown Minneapolis along the Mississippi River. Since I fly back to Portland tomorrow, I likely will publish my next blog post when I return to Portland.

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?

Is The Clackamas Regional Center Ready for Dockless Bikeshare and Scootershare?

Is the Clackamas Regional Center ready for dockless bikeshare and scootershare? I have been asking this question ever since I moved back to Oregon last year.

Small Group Activity at APBP Conference

My fellow panelists from Chicago and Ottawa and I wanted to get help from our audience to answer the question. Before I share how we used an interactive group activity, the below photo shows my panel. While we had been emailing for months to coordinate our presentations and group activity, I met Maggie and Matt in person for the first time during the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Conference in Portland. I am not sure when our paths will cross again.

APBP Panel

APBP Conference panel from left to right (Ray Atkinson, Maggie Melin from Chicago, Matt Pinder from Ottawa)

We used a small group activity during our session at the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Conference in Portland last Monday. Our audience was large enough to form six small groups of about eight people per group. This was a good amount of groups for my fellow panelists and me to walk around to each group to answer questions and provide guidance.

APBP Small Group Challenge

Small Group Activity at APBP Conference

All of the groups agreed that it is not safe enough to bike or scoot in the Clackamas Regional Center. Since the Clackamas Town Center parking lots should be less stressful to bike and scoot through than being on the surrounding roads, every group pitched using the parking lots to provide a safe route for biking and scooting. Yes, everyone realized that the parking lots are privately owned so the property owner would need to agree to the plan.

Harmony Campus to Clackamas Town Center

Map of Clackamas Regional Center. Created by Ray Atkinson using Google Maps.

Average scooter trip

Preparing the Clackamas Regional Center for dockless bikeshare and scootershare

Even though I have seen scooters from Portland’s first and second pilot programs ridden and parked in the Clackamas Regional Center, Clackamas County does not have a scooter pilot program. Yes, I already discussed this issue in this April post. While Clackamas Town Center has a Happy Valley address, it is officially in unincorporated Clackamas County so Clackamas County would need to create a scooter program.

I also want to note that I have no solid evidence about how many scooters from Portland’s pilot programs have been ridden and parked in the Clackamas Regional Center. I asked the City of Portland for this data and they would only share the below map, which only shows scooter trips inside the City of Portland. While they realize that scooters from their program have been ridden and parked outside the City of Portland, they have not shared any data to help me with planning efforts in Clackamas County. Since the scooter companies want to avoid fines, they are likely not sharing data about scooter trips outside the City of Portland so the City of Portland likely does not have this data.

As the below document shows, which I found in Ordinance 2174, the City of Milwaukie annexed Harmony Road to SE 80th Avenue and Clackamas Community College (CCC)’s Harmony campus on July 16, 2019. If the City of Milwaukie decides to continue their scooter pilot after the current pilot ends next June and expand it citywide then the newly annexed area will be included in the scooter pilot. While CCC has not taken an official stance on scooters, I have already been talking with the City of Milwaukie so we can both be ready when Milwaukie decides to include Harmony campus in their scooter pilot.

Milwaukie Annexed Harmony Campus

Milwaukie annexed Harmony Road to SE 80th Ave and CCC’s Harmony Campus

Since Harmony campus is adjacent to unincorporated Clackamas County, many CCC and Clackamas Middle College (high school) students, faculty, staff, and visitors travel between Harmony campus and the Clackamas Town Center MAX Station, TriMet buses and the CCC Xpress Shuttle are not reliable enough to compete with the car, and Harmony campus may have to build more car parking if enough people do not shift to other modes, I believe Clackamas County will receive pressure to allow scooters in the Clackamas Regional Center. I am vice-chair of the Clackamas County Pedestrian and Bikeway Advisory Committee (PBAC), so I am helping Clackamas County staff prepare for this pressure. I will be presenting about this potential pressure during the PBAC’s September 3 meeting.

Studying for the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Certification Exam

While I appear to have an endless supply of ideas to blog about, I will need to shift my focus through November on studying for the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Certification Exam. I registered to take this 3.5-hour exam on November 10. Since I did not pass the exam on November 10, I plan to keep studying and take the exam again in May. I will continue blogging after passing the exam.

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.