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!

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!

Moving Back to Oregon to Work at Clackamas Community College

I’m excited to share that after submitting 127 job applications over the past seven months I have accepted a written offer to become the Transportation Systems Analyst at Clackamas Community College (CCC) in Oregon City! A short position description is below. The position is grant funded from Oregon Metro through June 30, 2019. Oregon Metro is offering the grant again and CCC plans to reapply for it.

Develop and implement strategies to expand transportation options and remove transportation barriers.  Refine and operationalize strategies outlined in the Transportation Management Plan.  Develop and implement transportation survey tools.  Gather and analyze transportation metrics for use in developing new transportation strategies.  Act as liaison with local, regional, and state government partners; work cooperatively to create transportation plans and projects that reflect the needs of the College.

Since CCC wants me to start working in June, I’ll be resigning from my full-time, temporary Urban Planner I position at the City of Alexandria, VA on May 18. I plan to move back to the Portland region soon after Memorial Day, which is in time to participate in Pedalpalooza. I’ll miss my East Coast family and friends. Thankfully, I’ll be able to catch up with many of them during my upcoming trips to Boston, Charlotte area, Erie, and Cleveland area. Since I was in grad school when I previously lived in Oregon from 2014-16, I’m looking forward to having more free time to explore the West Coast.

You may be wondering why I chose the below photo for the featured photo. Since CCC’s three campuses are located in three Portland suburbs and my new supervisor said no one has organized a group bike ride at CCC, my future job at CCC reminds me of when I co-founded and led the Cyclists Club at UNC Charlotte (UNCC). Even though I wasn’t hired by UNCC to work on transportation issues, I felt I was the de facto bike coordinator because this position didn’t exist. I’m excited to use what I learned working on transportation issues at UNCC to improve CCC.

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Ray organized and led slow Cyclists Club ride at UNC Charlotte on February 14, 2013

Since I took an Internet GIS course at UNCC during Spring 2013 and created the below interactive bike resource map with my teammate during this course, I’m planning to see whether CCC wants me to create a similar interactive map for CCC. While I’m impressed CCC’s transportation page includes walking, biking, transit, and carpooling, I’m looking forward to working with staff to improve it.

UNC Charlotte Bicycle Resource Page

Ray and Jacob created the UNC Charlotte Bicycle Resource Map in Spring 2013

You may have noticed that I focused on my UNCC experience before my Portland State University (PSU) experience. I did this on purpose because transportation planning and overall transportation behavior at PSU is so far ahead of CCC. PSU is a Platinum-Level Bicycle Friendly University, which is the highest level that has been awarded. While I offered during my interview that I could help CCC apply to become a Bicycle Friendly University, which is also open to colleges, CCC currently isn’t a Bicycle Friendly University. UNCC also wasn’t a Bicycle Friendly University until it applied for the first time in 2017 and was awarded the Bronze Level, which is the lowest level, so UNCC and CCC share many things in common.

Even though I want my ideas for CCC to be context sensitive, this doesn’t mean I can’t think about what I did at PSU. As this BikePortland post and the below photos show, Gerald and I organized a successful Bike PSU outreach event at PSU during Fall 2015. We organize this outreach event to start creating bike trains. Since we had difficulty finding a method to connect bike train participants while preserving their privacy and finding participants with similar class schedules that lived nearby each other, we weren’t able to start a bike train at PSU. I expect to have similar challenges organizing bike trains at CCC, but one big difference is I’ll be a permanent employee at CCC. I had to stop organizing bike trains at PSU when I graduated in June 2016.

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Ray and Gerald organized Bike PSU’s outreach event during Fall 2015 (Photo: Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

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PSU student participating in Bike PSU’s outreach event during Fall 2015 (Photo: Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

Yes, I realize I have focused mostly on biking and my new job involves working on more than just biking. As my previous post shows, I have multimodal transportation experience. My PSU team did our planning workshop project on walkability in Tigard, which is a suburb of Portland.

Since I’ve never been to CCC or Oregon City, I’m excited to explore a new area of the Portland region. Due to Oregon City being the first permanent Euro-American settlement in the Willamette Valley, first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains, and Oregon’s first capital (Oregon City was selected the capital before the creation of the Oregon Territory in 1848), Oregon City isn’t really new. I’m excited to learn more Oregon history by visiting the Museum of the Oregon Territory, which overlooks Willamette Falls in Oregon City.