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?

Philadelphia at Eye Level

“Philadelphia at Eye Level” is a reference to “The City at Eye Level”. I am on a Greyhound bus from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to be picked up by my family on their way to Erie. My family is driving from North Carolina. We are going to visit my grandma in Erie then my other grandma in the Cleveland region. Since I want to learn more about Columbus’ smart city projects, my family agreed to visit Columbus before taking me to the airport next Saturday.While the Greyhound bus has WiFi, it isn’t working to access WordPress on my laptop so I am writing this post on my phone. Due to this, I expect to write a short post. Since I want to focus on being with my family when I arrive in Pittsburgh, I do not expect to write a blog post when I am with my family.

Philadelphia’s Street Grid

Since typical neighborhood bike routes in other US cities have many turns, I was impressed that I was able to bike for miles in South Philadelphia without having to look for where to turn next. As the rose diagram in the below diagram and this link show, the entire Philadelphia street grid is not easy to use. However, my focus was on how easy the street grid was for biking, walking and riding transit. I did all of these modes in Philadelphia.

Due to the fact that most Americans are automobile dependent, I feel comfortable stating that the most direct streets in the US are prioritized for motorists. While this is still common in Philadelphia, I was shocked by how many designated neighborhood bike routes used the most direct streets. Unfortunately, these routes have stop signs or signals on almost every block so I was forced to constantly stop. I saw many local cyclists proceed through these intersections without stopping. I believe there were local cyclists because they were not riding an Indego bikeshare bike. Since Portland purposely flips the stop signs on the neighborhood greenways to have the stop signs be on the cross streets, I was amazed by how much of a difference this simple change makes on the biking experience.

In addition to critiquing the designated neighborhood bike routes, I critiqued Indego. Ever since I helped plan for Indego’s launch in 2014 during my transportation planning internship at Toole Design Group, I have been wanting to visit Philadelphia to see my work on the ground. It was an awesome experience!

While biking helped me move through Philadelphia faster, I found it easier to explore the city by walking. The Magic Gardens on South Street were amazing to explore! They also have rich and controversial history. Since Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar did not own the vacant land that he used to create the magic gardens, the gardens were almost destroyed when the developer that owned the land decided they wanted to build on the land. Thankfully, the community cared enough about the gardens to preserve them.

I also found this cool bar!

Mapping a Nation: Shaping the Early American Republic

A major reason why I wanted to visit Philadelphia was to experience and learn more about its rich history. While many cities have rich histories, I doubt any city can compete with Philadelphia’s Independence Day history. As a geographer and planner, I was amazed by the Mapping a Nation: Shaping the Early American Republic exhibit at the American Philosophical Society! I could spend hours reading and researching all the notes on this 1757 map for the British government. Museum staff said surveyors often spend hours reviewing this map. Since maps were used to remove Native American claims to land, I wish the exhibit included maps drawn by Native Americans.

My Greyhound bus is about to arrive in Pittsburgh, so I need to publish this post.

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.

Making a difference on the Oregon City Transportation Advisory Committee

I serve on several advisory committees throughout the Portland and Charlotte regions through my job and as a volunteer. Yes, I still serve on the Advisory Council for Sustain Charlotte’s Transportation Choices Alliance even though I no longer live in Charlotte. While most of the committee members that I serve with understand their important role and how to make a difference, some of my fellow Oregon City Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) members have struggled with this.

In case they read my blog, I want to give them hope for how they can make a difference on our committee. Since we volunteer on the TAC and some of my fellow volunteers feel the City Commission is the only group that can make a difference, I hope this post shows them and other volunteers that it is possible to make a difference even when you have limited voting power.

Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay appointed me to my first three-year term on the TAC in January 2019. Since I have lived in Oregon City for less than a year, I am still surprised that I was the only new candidate that was appointed to the TAC. Even though there were three open seats and four candidates, an incumbent and I were the only candidates appointed to the TAC. The remaining open seat and another open seat were filled in March 2019. I got to interview the candidates and vote on who would fill the seats. This was an awesome experience!

Even though all of the other TAC members are much older than me (some of them could be my grandpa), I am the only transportation professional and car-free member so the other members and Oregon City staff have expressed appreciation for my valuable experience. Since the older members have lived and worked through decades of Oregon City’s rich history, they have their own valuable experience to share with me. As a millennial, it feels weird to share that older people can learn from my experience when they have lived and worked much longer than me.

In addition to helping Oregon City and Clackamas County prepare for electric-assist dockless bikeshare and scootershare expanding from Portland, I am making a difference on the Oregon City TAC through the following two topics.

Canemah Family Friendly Route

While the route signs and markings have already been ordered, which means I was too late to make changes, Oregon City staff told the TAC that the Canemah Family Friendly Route is the first pilot project and they are open to making changes in the future. In order to explain my proposed change, focus on the bike symbol in the two below signs. Since I want Oregon City’s Family Friendly Route to be as successful as Portland’s Neighborhood Greenway, I feel the Family Friendly Route’s bike symbol needs to show the target audience of relaxed, family biking. The current bike symbol shows a racing or training cyclist because the cyclist is leaning over and looks stressed to beat their personal record time.

In contrast, the bike symbol on Portland’s Neighborhood Greenway shows a relaxed cyclist because the cyclist is sitting more upright. This is how I see a family biking together because they are not trying stressed to beat their personal record time. Do you see the difference between the two bike symbols?

Family Friendly Route Sign

Oregon City’s Family Friendly Route Sign

Portland Neighborhood Greenway Sign

Portland’s Neighborhood Greenway Sign

Crash Instead of Accident

While I was nervous to publicly call out Oregon City staff for saying “accident” instead of “crash” when referring to a deadly pedestrian crash involving a truck in Oregon City, staff thanked me for correcting them and explaining why they should say “crash” instead of “accident”. The staff even said they will try to use “crash” in the future. The reason why this is important is calling it an accident assumes no one, including the government for design issues, was at fault and nothing can be done to prevent the crash. Since the crash could have been prevented, it needs to be called a crash instead of an accident.

Future Blog Posts

As I stated in my previous post, my one-year work anniversary at Clackamas Community College is in June and I will have been back in Oregon for a year in June. I plan to write a post about how my one-year goals went and what my two-year goals are. Since my North Carolina-based family is planning a July 4-14 vacation with me to visit my grandmas and other relatives in Ohio and Pennsylvania, I plan to write a post about this.

Transportation Logistics for My Family’s 1st Hawaiian Vacation

Welcome to 2019! I cannot believe my ten-year high school reunion is this year! In case my NC family and friends are curious whether I plan to fly back to NC for this reunion, I will decide this after learning what day the reunion is happening and whether I have enough vacation days available.

Adventure Cycling Association’s The Greg Siple Award

I applied for the Adventure Cycling Association’s The Greg Siple Award, which closed yesterday. If I receive this award then I may not have enough vacation days available to attend my high school reunion. Both of the Outdoor Leadership recipients receive a four-day Leadership Training Course of their choosing and a ten-day (some tours are shorter and some tours are longer) Self-Contained Tour of their choosing within 18 months of taking the Leadership Training Course.

gs-award_slider_greg-siple

Source: Adventure Cycling Association

Following the Leadership Training Course, recipients are required to complete the outreach project that they proposed in their application. Recipients are also required to write two blog posts, which will be posted on the Adventure Cycling Association’s blog. One post will be about their experience taking their educational course and one post about the outcome of their outreach project. Finalists will be notified by February 8 and asked to submit a short video recording or do a live interview (no more than two minutes) in response to one question. Winners will be notified by March 1. I am excited about this potentially life-changing opportunity!

Ray’s 1st Hawaiian Vacation

My last post discussed my work goals for 2019. While I need to be less of a workaholic and depart work before my boss tells me to leave, I have been planning a nine-day January 19-27, 2019 Hawaiian vacation that will force me to not be a workaholic. My parents and twin sister, who still live in North Carolina, will be meeting me in Hawaii. Since my brother is in graduate school and working a new job, he cannot take nine days off for this vacation.

Since Hawaii has six major islands, I decided to visit more than one island. I will start and end my vacation on Oahu Island. My dad’s optometry conference is on Hawaii Island (aka Big Island), so I will fly there and back from Oahu Island. Flying between islands is expensive and my dad would have had to pay for three people, so he decided that my parents and sister will only visit Hawaii Island.

Coordinating my flights to and from Oahu Island around my dad’s conference schedule were made more complex by the fact that our rental home on Hawaii Island is not easily transit and bike accessible. This means I cannot easily use transit or bike to and from the Kona International Airport. My dad, who rented a car, will have to pick me up and drop me off at the airport.

Unfortunately, car-free transportation logistics get even worse on Hawaii Island. Unlike Honolulu, which has bikeshare, no city on Hawaii Island appears to have bikeshare. I even tried to rent a bike on Hawaii Island through Spinlister, which just relaunched today. As the below map shows, Spinlister has no bikes available on Hawaii Island, which is the southernmost island.

Spinlister Hawaii

Source: Spinlister

While transit exists on Hawaii Island, it does not appear to be as reliable as what I am used to in the Portland, OR region. The below map looked great until I reviewed the bus schedules. My family will be staying in Waikoloa Village and my dad’s conference is in Puako. Since the car rental company only allows my dad to drive the car and my dad needs the car to attend his conference, my mom, sister and I will not have a car for several days. I hope transit proves to be more reliable than what the schedules show. If not, we will be spending more time that we want in Waikoloa Village. I could rent another car so my mom, sister and I can explore Hawaii Island while my dad is attending his conference.

Hawaii Island_bus_route_map

Source: County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency

Even though I chose to have fewer days on Oahu Island than Hawaii Island because I wanted to spend time with my family, I may explore more on Oahu Island than on Hawaii Island. This is mostly due to how much easier it should be to travel throughout Honolulu and Oahu Island. Honolulu has direct (no transfer needed) bus service from Honolulu International Airport to my Waikiki (Honolulu neighborhood) hostel. Since I received a $20 off code, I reserved a free bike in Waikiki through Spinlister. Honolulu also has Biki, which is a dock-based bikeshare system. Ride Sharee operates a dockless bikeshare system in Honolulu.

Honolulu Biki Bikeshare

Source: Biki

Since many tour companies provide affordable transportation from Waikiki to throughout Oahu Island, I do not need a car on Oahu Island. While I am still stressed about transportation logistics on Hawaii Island, I am feeling prepared for transportation logistics on Oahu Island. If I do end up needing a car in Honolulu, my second cousin lives in Honolulu with his wife and baby. He offered to pick me up and drop me off at the Honolulu International Airport. He has also been helping me plan my Hawaiian vacation. I expect to be busy or relaxing on a beach in Hawaii, so I plan to wait until returning to Oregon to write a reflection post about how my vacation went. What do you have planned in 2019?

Does bike lane legally continue through the intersection?

I usually write posts mostly from my viewpoint because I want my blog to be mostly from my viewpoint. I am making a rare exception with this post because I am not a legal expert and my last post happened to be about Bend. While I read BikePortland almost daily and many of their posts fascinate me, I chose to make a rare exception to write about this post because Jonathan Maus thoroughly researched the legal issue and it raises questions about what I experienced in Bend.

Before I read Jonathan’s post, I thought it was common sense that a bike lane legally continues through the intersection. I am shocked by Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Adler’s ruling.

Judge Adler ruled that he saw “no authority” to support the contention that bike lanes continue through intersections in Oregon.

While I have never had any personal legal issues while biking, do I need to start leaving the bike lane and using the travel lane when going through intersections in Oregon to prevent my legal rights from being lost? As comments below Jonathan’s post explain, I am not the only cyclist in Oregon asking this question.

I also found the below statement interesting. Even in bike-friendly Oregon, it is believed that people do not treat bike lanes like travel lanes. As someone who bikes daily in Oregon, I agree with this perspective. While neither type of lane physically (no paint) continues through the intersection, I have not seen anyone questioning whether the travel lane legally continues through the intersection. Why does the same not apply to the bike lane?

Prosecutor Andrew Steiner said many people today do not treat bike lanes like vehicle lanes, though they are.

Since I am a geographer, I would normally have started this post with where the bike lane is located in Bend. I felt readers needed the legal and culture details to fully understand the bike lane legal issue, so I postponed sharing the bike lane location. While the below Google Maps screenshot shows green lines for where the bike lanes continue through the intersection at NW Wall St and NW Olney Ave, the white bike lane paint does not actually continue through this intersection. The white bike lane paint stops where the intersection begins and restarts where the intersection ends. The same is true for the travel lanes.

Bend Intersection

Location of the bike lane legal issue in Bend, OR. Source: Google Maps

Portland had a similar legal issue

Unfortunately, Bend is not the only Oregon city to have experienced this legal issue. Portland had a similar legal issue in 2009. As this BikePortland post discussed, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Pro Tem Michael Zusman found that the collision did not occur “in the marked area comprising the bicycle lane.”

You are probably as confused as me after reading this post. Since I do not want to change how I bike through intersections in Oregon, I hope I can trust what Jonathan wrote in his 2018 post.

Let’s be clear: Even though the legal definition of a bicycle lane (ORS 801.155) doesn’t specifically address intersections, the legal protection of a bicycle lane absolutely does continue through an intersection even if the markings do not.

Jonathan’s viewpoint is shared by former Portland Police Bureau Captain Bryan Parman.

“We all know that lanes continue through an intersection, we just don’t lay down a bunch of criss-crossing lines because it would be confusing.” He also said, “It’s a poor ruling in an individual case but it doesn’t change the way we do business.”