Friday, January 11, 2013

In Media: Friday Newsbits on Transportation

In his Thursday "connecting the dots" column, Dick Hughes spends most of the piece writing about transportation:
Drive-thru fast-food joints, coffee stands, banks, etc., must be among the most environmentally irresponsible businesses around....

I’m referring to drive-thrus where you wait in line, with the engine running or being turned off and on, and you pull ahead as each vehicle is served. Think of all the exhaust, especially toxic carbon monoxide, being spewed into the air....

But the reality is that many Oregonians, including me, are ecological wimps despite our reputation to the contrary. We prefer using pollution-creating drive-thrus to getting wet in the rain (although most of us have waterproof skin). Or we perceive ourselves as too busy to park and walk inside — although that might be faster than using a crowded drive-thru....
One of his conclusions is about staggered work times:
I’d bet that most of Salem’s traffic congestion could be eliminated if public and private employers radically changed their work schedules and fewer people were on the roads at the peak hours.
So what about that $800+ million "solution" to congestion you were writing about in December? Won't it just encourage more driving and drive-thrus???

But will the SJ connect the dots?
Wednesday's Salem Weekly had a couple of nice pieces.

Curt Fisher's got a crisp piece on the Downtown Mobility Study and the question of two-way traffic downtown.

Yes, the City should swing both ways!
And Helen Caswell writes about the recent letter from 1000 Friends of Oregon about outdated population and traffic projections.

The Third Bridge Alliance updated their header image to show, I guess, the dire congestion conditions just outside the Chamber of Commerce in the afternoon rush.

Congestion is a function of time, not just width of road!
But maybe that's an example of the way we need to shift the paradigm, looking at solutions in the dimension of time, not just solutions in the dimension of space with more asphalt.


Walker said...

We don't need a "radical" change either ... A media scareword. If the top employers (state agencies and Salem hospital) applied some insight, not only could we eliminate rush minute but also get higher productivity, greater employee satisfaction, and better employee health.

State government has really backslid terribly on commute trip reduction programs, and is basically deciding that it would rather jam the bridges twice a day than figure out how to deploy technology to support telework. There is such a leaden inertia crushing state government on ths. Management would far rather rent more space and spend money on moving bodies and cubes around than on telework and flextime, despite the myriad benefits.

Ultimately what we need is a "commute tax," where state and local government employers have to pay ODOT a fee based on workforce size, office size, and commute distances -- a fee that goes into a fund that agencies can tap to pay for telework IT tools and training for managers on how to deploy telework (get the work done without having to drag people into an office daily for the roughly one hour a week when you actually talk to them), but also to pay for incentives for employees. The more intelligent the incentives, the more the agency can be a net beneficiary from the fund, instead of a net payer.

Curt said...

"Market parking rate" sounds better than "commute tax" to me.

Walker said...

I put it in quotes because it's not a real tax, in that only govt agencies would pay it, to another agency, with a 100% rebate, so the agencies that impose a lot of commuting demand on society would be payers, and agencies that reduce trip demand aggressively would be rewarded budgetarily.