Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fast Cars and Freedom: Portlanders Still Prefer Freedom & Privacy of Their Own Cars

As I pointed out recently this in this post, cars equal freedom. Just ask a 16 year old with a newly minted driver's license and a car key if you doubt me.

Now a new study shows most Portlanders seem to agree.
Census Bureau Data

Despite clear cutting a neighborhood to make room for light rail trains we can't afford, agonizingly slow street cars on newly created one way streets and fluorescent green bike boxes ("Bikes in front of cars" as Mayor Sam Adams puts it),  people in Portland prefer to drive alone to work. They like it that way. They like the privacy. They like the freedom.

And it seems that Portlanders like driving more than their LA counterparts.

According to the Census Bureau in its just released study, "Journey to Work,"highlighted in the Zero (here):

As has long been the case, the vast majority of the region’s residents prefer to drive alone to work daily. Public-transit usage actually dropped from 6.3 percent in 2008. Of course, the survey was taken at a time when the recession caused huge drops in TriMet ridership.

Emphasis added by the Zero's unbiased staff.  But why do people prefer cars? Probably because they're faster:
Driving is Faster (Census Bureau Data)

College Towns Have More Bicyclists--Sorry Sam


  1. Not just light rail .... faster than light rail!

    You can already take a C-Tran bus from downtown Vancouver and get to Pioneer Square faster than if you had started at the Expo Center and taken MAX. So, the new "improved" transit after they put choo-choo rails across the bridge...will have to move backwards in time. So, faster than the speed of light! Way cool!

  2. Call me crazy--and I'm sure some of you will--how do those bike commute numbers square with this story:

  3. If you love freedom, then you should love cycling to work. Free from traffic. Free from fuel costs sending money out of our region. Free from insurance costs. Wow, I could go on, but I'm not sure you'd be listening.

  4. I think it's clever when people point out that bicycles actually move faster than cars ... when you count all the hours we spend to pay for our cars.

  5. dolan,

    Most of your points are good ones. But bicycles are not free from traffic. They are instead vulnerable to traffic.

  6. Vancouverites (USA variety) and Beavertoners prefer the freedom and privacy. Your assertion that people in the city of Portland actually prefer this more than their counterparts in Los Angeles is false.

  7. I find it hilarious that you think POVs are "private" and "free." In fact, it's almost as hilarious as you referencing "light rail we can't afford" while ignoring the billions we spend (and want to spend) on inefficient car projects like the CRC.

  8. Bicycles don't fair well in inclement weather, either.

    Since bicyclists are no longer satisfied with equal rights to the road and instead want preferred rights to the road, they should be more than willing to pony up a yearly registration fee and carry insurance as do car and motorcycle drivers.

    I can't seem to find too many who accept that.

  9. Hi dolan,

    I am listening and I'm sure you can go on. You need to pay to have insurance, you need to pay for bike registration, and a tax to pay for the maintenance of the streets / bike paths you cycle other words, your fair share.

    To paraphrase Elizabeth Warren, you didn't get your free lifestyle without a lot of other people paying for it with their labor and what you have including your bike was brought here on roads you didn't pay for.

  10. Lew, I cycle in all weather, every work day. I take my kid to school in a trailer as well, twice a week.

    I pay for auto insurance to protect myself from uninsured MOTORISTS. I pay property taxes, and gasoline taxes when I drive.

    I pay for your free parking at grocery stores and department stores. I pay for your cheap parking when you park downtown. We will all pay for the fun you had burning cheap gasoline your whole life.

    I'll be surprised if this comment ever sees the light of day on this so called blog (echo chamber).

  11. I don't blame anyone for not wanting to take public takes FOREVER. I do have to drive to work, since I just live too far away to ride the whole way, but once I get into the city, I park and get on my folding bike. I can't very well cycle 50 miles down the freeway faster than I can drive it, but once I hit city streets and traffic, riding is definitely faster.

  12. Mike, see twjordan's response. You're making a false dichotomy. The vast majority of cyclists drive as well, and we pay just as much as you do for things we don't support, just like you pay for things you don't support.

    Lew, there are many of us who ride year round. Guess who wasn't stuck in traffic jams when Snowpocalypse came a few years back?

    Willy, cars are vulnerable to traffic as well. People are injured or killed every day in cars. Motorcycles are incredibly dangerous as well (and a motorcycle accident is far more likely to be fatal than a bike accident) but I don't hear you complaining about them.

    Funny thing, vehicle registrations in the Portland are down in the past few years among people under 25. Perhaps they're onto something.

  13. Hi dolan,

    What dichotomy? It was your contention about being free from traffic, free from sending money out of the region, and free from insurance costs. If most bike riders own cars and buy gas and insurance for them, where's the freedom from what you argued?

    As to twojordan's contention, he doesn't pay for Lew's free parking at grocery store or subsidized parking downtown. Businesses pay property taxes on those lots, water run off charges on their water bills, while fees and tax money subsidize downtown parking so you can ride downtown to shop instead of Washington Square. A benefit to him and you. His comment about cheap gas only betrays his bias against cars. Perhaps he thinks he's kinder to the earth by riding his bike, but since virtually everything he has or consumes has to be produced somewhere else and transported here by fossil fuels, the difference between his carbon foot print and Randy Leonard's white, cigar smoking, hummer driving male from Gresham is negligible.

    I'm not opposed to you riding your bike to work or anywhere else. But this is yet another attempt at changing peoples' behavior by the planner class for their vision of Portland. They do so by heavily subsidizing mass transit and bicycles which serves a small minority of citizens while piling up a 600 million dollar road maintenance backlog in the City of Portland. Another example is devoting 25% of available lane space on the I-5 bridge to bicycles. If you want Portland to be more like Amsterdamn, then pay for it.

    The 20 minute neighborhood concept might work for you, but not for most. Bikes are an affectation, not any real alternative to cars. Don't believe it, put it to the test. For 6 months have all public employees use public transportation or bikes to get to work and conduct official business with certain emergency exceptions. No flex scheduling, free bus passes, or compensation for the extra travel time. See how that works.

    Unfortunately the percentage of people in Portland under 25 is shrinking as the city's population ages.