News from May 2008

Surveying the Streetcar

Occurred May 10, 2008 (Permalink)
Interstate 205 at NE Glisan
Interstate 205 at NE Glisan

The Portland Department of Transportation (offsite) has been asking recently for surveys of potential routes for streetcars through the east side of the city. So far they've proposed a number of corridors, mostly through southeast, and assigned the work of determining the community impact to each quadrant's advocacy group, in my case SE Uplift (offsite). I volunteered to bike the "Glisan Streetcar" route, which is basically 19-Glisan along E. Burnside, NE 28th, and NE Glisan out to Gateway Transit Center.

PDOT has already done the work to figure out where they could run a streetcar line; to us, they supplied a workbook containing questions about the impact that a streetcar might have on the areas that it would serve. Most of these questions were traffic related--how many cars, bicycles, pedestrians, trucks do we see? What is the situation with car parking? Do bicycles or pedestrians have a hard time getting around? Evidently the argument for streetcars is that more people take them than would take a bus serving the same alignment; electric streetcars emit less pollution than diesel buses; and streetcars can hold more people than trolley or diesel buses.

For my run, I chose to take my bicycle and pedal along the route, stopping every five blocks, answering PDOT's questions for each place where I stopped, and photographing each stop. In this manner I accumulated a large photo reel of pictures of an ordinary street in Portland, and all the things that I saw along the way--people out for a jog, cyclists, buses, trucks delivering freight, people going to restaurants, etc. An interesting way to survey city life on a Saturday afternoon, though with an admittedly transportation-focused eye. Full report later when I get to cobbling one together from my notes.

Folklife NW

Occurred May 25, 2008 (Permalink)
Estonian Folk Dancers
Estonian Folk Dancers

The Scottish Country Dance demo team was invited to perform at this year's Folklife NW festival, so I carpooled up to Seattle with the Gertzes to wear my kilt and dance around a bit! Folklife is a 4-day festival in Seattle that features many many different kinds of folk dancing, dance lessons, music from all over the world, ethnic food, etc. It was awesome--I practiced Scottish and Irish dancing, learned that Contra dancing is very similar to Scottish and Irish and that I therefore could participate in them without too much confusion, and towards the end I took some lessons in Lindy Hop and Western Swing. Perhaps I'll try picking them up later this year back in Portland, though the Irish stuff has given me plenty to learn about.

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