Portland

Portland, Oregon to join bike share movement

On the heels of the launch of Hubway, Boston’s bike share program, it appears Portland will be getting one its own.  Last week, the City Council approved in a 4-1 vote and $9 million dollar spending package, which includes $2 million for a bicycle share system. To date, Boston, Washington DC, and Minneapolis are the only major US cities to implement bike sharing systems.  San Francisco is scheduled to join the bunch in spring 2012 and New York City is narrowing down its set of proposals with expected launch in the same timeframe.

Portland Bureau of Transportation notes that bike sharing has progressed through three generations:

  • 1st generation: no-tech, unstructured approach found in Amsterdam in the 1960s.
  • 2nd generation: low-tech, moderate expense like City Bike in Copenhagen and Helsinki
  • 3rd generation: high-tech and more expensive ($500 - $5500 per bike), including use of Smart Card technology.  Allow tracking of bikes.

Portland’s system would likely be of the 3rd generation type.  Guangzhou and Hangzhou’s systems  and Barcelona’s Bicing are of this type as well.  Barcelona recently published a study indicating the safety aspects of its system – it claims 12+ lives a year are being saved as a result of the program.

-          Terra Curtis

 

Portland, Oregon to join bike share movement

On the heels of the launch of Hubway, Boston’s bike share program, it appears Portland will be getting one its own.  Last week, the City Council approved in a 4-1 vote and $9 million dollar spending package, which includes $2 million for a bicycle share system. To date, Boston, Washington DC, and Minneapolis are the only major US cities to implement bike sharing systems.  San Francisco is scheduled to join the bunch in spring 2012 and New York City is narrowing down its set of proposals with expected launch in the same timeframe.

Portland Bureau of Transportation notes that bike sharing has progressed through three generations:

  • 1st generation: no-tech, unstructured approach found in Amsterdam in the 1960s.
  • 2nd generation: low-tech, moderate expense like City Bike in Copenhagen and Helsinki
  • 3rd generation: high-tech and more expensive ($500 - $5500 per bike), including use of Smart Card technology.  Allow tracking of bikes.

Portland’s system would likely be of the 3rd generation type.  Guangzhou and Hangzhou’s systems  and Barcelona’s Bicing are of this type as well.  Barcelona recently published a study indicating the safety aspects of its system – it claims 12+ lives a year are being saved as a result of the program.

-          Terra Curtis

 

The "Transit Appliance"

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/16070894 w=380&h=214]

The World's First "Transit Appliance" from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

The “open” revolution is starting to show some really promising prospects.  Among them is Chris Smith’s Transit Appliance – a display platform for transit arrival times based entirely on open data, open software, and open hardware. Because of these features, the device is really quite cheap ($200), meaning it is feasible for these announcements to be provided by private entities like cafes, restaurants, or bookstores near transit.  After all, businesses would love it if customers stayed in their establishment for the maximum amount of time possible.  More time spent = more money spent!

Further, as Daily Wireless suggests, even publicly-provided transit announcers could leverage this technology.  Image touch screen tablets at your bus-stop – a potential gold mine for advertisers.  Besides all this, even if the solution doesn’t take off, it’s encouraging to see the open revolution making significant ruffles in the market.

-Terra Curtis

The "Transit Appliance"

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/16070894 w=380&h=214]

The World's First "Transit Appliance" from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

The “open” revolution is starting to show some really promising prospects.  Among them is Chris Smith’s Transit Appliance – a display platform for transit arrival times based entirely on open data, open software, and open hardware. Because of these features, the device is really quite cheap ($200), meaning it is feasible for these announcements to be provided by private entities like cafes, restaurants, or bookstores near transit.  After all, businesses would love it if customers stayed in their establishment for the maximum amount of time possible.  More time spent = more money spent!

Further, as Daily Wireless suggests, even publicly-provided transit announcers could leverage this technology.  Image touch screen tablets at your bus-stop – a potential gold mine for advertisers.  Besides all this, even if the solution doesn’t take off, it’s encouraging to see the open revolution making significant ruffles in the market.

-Terra Curtis

Portland’s People-Powered Pothole-Filling Movement

Courtesy Coast Pavement Services Portland, Oregon is known for its community appeal and they’ve recently demonstrated another example that confirms that reputation.  Concerned with the City’s inability to fill potholes on local streets, Ken VanDomelen, co-owner of Coast Pavement Services, decided to take matters into his own hands.

For a donation to a local charity, VanDomelen and his crew will come fill the potholes on your street for free.  The City, however, has spoken out against his endeavors, reminding citizens that only City-approved contractors should be making improvements to public roads. The article called to mind a lecture I attended this week given by Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus at MIT and colored author and activist.  Chomsky’s main theme in that talk was a call to action -- people must organize and band together in order to achieve the “collective good” goals that will never be achieved in our market economy.  We must agree to break our dependence on oil, to weatherize our homes, and to seek simple, low-tech solutions to environmental problems.

VanDomelen’s solution is a banding together.  It creates a community network of concerned citizens and engages them with the community at large through donations to local charities.  Unfortunately, this type of solution is often discouraged (often necessarily so) by the powers and structure of state.

Chomsky recognized this and notes that any such effort must be a revolution, a reclaiming of power by the citizens.  Ironically, the solution that evolved in Portland, the filling of potholes, encourages the exact opposite activity for which Chomsky advocates: driving.

-Terra Curtis

Some Cities Don't Need Corporate Sponsorships

Portland, ORIn two previous posts, I’ve highlighted initiatives by several corporations (Pepsi, GE, Philips, KFC, and IBM) to influence better design and function in cities and the services they offer.  But, as I discovered after reading a tweet by Portland, Oregon’s Mayor Sam Adams, corporations aren’t the only ones stimulating innovative solutions in cities. Portland created a collaboration of local governments, city agencies, a university, and a host of local and national businesses to establish CivicApps, a challenge posed to the developer community to create useful apps using open data from the City of Portland.  Various winners will be awarded a cash prize, ranging in size from $50 to $3000.

Last week, the winners of the first (of two) rounds were announced.  The “Best of Show” Award and $3000 prize went to the Andy Wallace for PDX Bus, an all-purpose iPhone app for transit riders in the Portland area.  Other notable apps include PDX API (an API that provides access to the CivicApps datasets) and a bike parking map.  Ideas suggested for further development included using sidewalk data to improve TriMet (the Portland Metro transit agency) walking directions and submitting community-contributed datasets for use in CivicApps.

If you have ideas for CivicApps, apply now!  The second round of applications is currently being collected.

-Terra Curtis