Infill and higher density, in our current high growth economy, can only intensify our traffic problems. Moreover specifically to District 14 there are no future plans whatsoever to tackle the East county commuter traffic that clogs all of our streets and no thought to make bicycling truly safe.
As an alternative to today's ineffectual programs, I propose we create a system of GREENBELT TRANSPORTATION CORRIDORS that include space for IMPROVED VEHICLE MOVEMENT, SAFE SEPARATE BIKE PATHS and ELECTRIC TRANSIT. This will of necessity be a gradual and long term process since it requires major changes to the built city.
GREENBELTS include a wide natural strip to buffer housing and other people activities from heavy traffic. This is equally important in small cities and Portland. There is nothing good, healthy or beneficial about living in close proximity to heavy traffic. We are building new housing on major thoroughfares, not to mention freeways, even though there is no way to justify it morally or academically. Our mania for development at all costs in every possible space leads us to create truly awful places to live. That kind of development is no better for the city as a whole than it is for the individual.
As long as we have cars we need to provide safe, non-destructive places for them. Some people advocate placing hurdles before vehicle use as a means of controlling or minimizing traffic, but that translates into frustrating congestion for all, and worse, the attempt on the part of many drivers to use residential streets as bypasses. Also, our current development philosophy which strives to fill every lot with a building of the highest monetary value is encouraging us to develop our busiest streets with commercial activities that can only make traffic worse. They not only add hazards from cross traffic but also increase the total volume and fundamentally orient the city towards increased car use.
Thickly forested greenbelts, even with heavy traffic nearby, would remove most of the evil effects of traffic – noise, pollution, danger – from adjacent housing or commerce, not to mention greatly improve the city's aesthetics, not to mention provide room for SAFE SEPARATED BIKE PATHS.
Narrow painted bike lanes are better than nothing but biking will never achieve it's true potential until the state is covered with a system of safe, totally separate bike paths. Greenbelts provide space for bike paths in urban areas. In rural Oregon, space for separate bike paths is created by expanding the right of way on rural highways and purchasing a corridor on permanent stream beds. This land acquisition, or securing of easements, can be undertaken over a long period of time and kept to the minimum space required to build the bike paths. As little as ten additional feet of right-of-way on the typical rural highway would suffice to make biking 100% safer and more enjoyable.
Taken together the creation of separate bike paths in both urban and rural areas could turn Oregon into a haven for bikers and an international destination for eco-friendly bicycle tourism.
Expand LIGHT RAIL and STREETCAR routes and switch to ELECTRIC BUSSES. Enhance the environment with clean, quiet, efficient electric transit. Diesel busses can never provide the ambiance that will lure people out of their autos and into public transit. They're as loud inside as out. Witness the transit mall, it's the noisiest, smokiest place in downtown. Investment in electric transit is an investment in the future.
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