Tag Archives: light rail

Picture-Perfect Portland?

Portland is one of the most-praised cities in contemporary America. But is the hype real? To some extent, it actually understates the case.

Portland didn’t invent bicycles, density or light rail — but it understood the future implications of them for America’s smaller cities first, and put that knowledge to use before anyone else. The longest journey begins with a step, but you have to take it. Nobody else did. In an era where most American cities went one direction, Portland went another, either capturing or even creating the zeitgeist of a new age. Continue reading

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Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland by Rail, Bus, Streetcar, and Foot: Part One

I grew up during the grunge era, with Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder for role models, and the notion that a city could simultaneously spawn and embrace musical icons of social and political dissidence and the bourgeois haughtiness of, say, Frasier Crane, always fascinated me. Seattle was the only major coastal city in the U.S. I hadn’t yet spent time in; I was ready to fall in love. Continue reading

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from Human Transit: Think Tanks, Binary Thinking, and “Bus vs Rail”

I’ve had the opportunity of late to sit in on a variety of local transit oriented conversations at county, institutional, neighborhood, and individual citizen levels here in Florida, and the experience has been educational. Transportation quickly loses its meaning in such talks and instead becomes both code and symbol for underlying fears and desires. When the topic of light rail came up one older gentleman shook with anger and declared that nobody would take his Cadillac away as long as he was still breathing. Charlton Heston was evoked not only by the gentleman’s tone and syntax, but also by the violence of his near-non sequitor. Fear so dominated his mind that he was unable to even have the conversation. Perceived symbols of various isms, cultures, and histories inevitably raise the temperature of any discussion. Continue reading

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