Tuesday, August 15, 2006

BBC covers Portland's lowered car use: LRT as effective transit

BBC's Newsnight program tonight is covering Portland's trend away from car transportation and toward strong public transit. With Red, Blue and Yellow lines in operation, and with the South Corridor Project under way, Portland is very much changing their urban layout to be more accessible - and often more pleasant.

Last Saturday, I visited to look at the latest developments in the Pearl District and to introduce a couple of friends to riding Amtrak Cascades. Pedestrian density north of Burnside (where Powell's Books and much of the new mixed-use development has taken place) is quite high, extending north along the packed streetcar line. The Portland Saturday Market was, as usual, filled with people, as was Pioneer Courthouse Square. Between these two centers, we saw heavy circulation on MAX and on foot.

Newsnight will be discussing Portland's reduced emissions - they're in line with what Kyoto would have required of them. They've seen a 65% increase in the use of public transit in the last ten years, supported by strong transit oriented development and communities where many trips can take place entirely on foot or by bicycle.

Those of us in Seattle will be watching the same thing happen here as Link's initial segment opens, and we'll see the same public support that drove the South Corridor project drive University and East Link as people start realizing the power of having good alternatives to driving.