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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.