YERTpod22: Moving the Right Way in Oregon

Dear YERTians,

We’re back! During the last couple of weeks each one of us managed to get knocked around by the flu or a serious cold or both. We used up our cloth hankies like they were paper! We made garbage by purchasing a bottle of chewable vitamin C tablets! We slept more than we’ve slept in months! We wondered why we couldn’t just detach our aching, stuffy heads and replace them with new ones! Perhaps it was a sign. Perhaps we had run ourselves ragged. Perhaps there’s just something in the air here in the South. Whatever the cause of our suffering, the video schedule suffered along with us – but now we’re all happily back to health with a brand new YERTpod!

This week we take a close look at Oregon. For those of you familiar with Vermont, we think you’ll find that Oregon is like Vermont except wetter, warmer, and with fewer secessionists. And, dare we say, better public transportation?

We explored public transportation in Portland and Eugene, and we’re now convinced that Oregonians are literally moving the right way – moving towards efficient transport that, in turn, moves them around sustainably. It’s all very moving.

Whenever we arrive in a city that’s doing all the right green things—bike paths, speedy public transportation, beautiful public spaces, and pervasive recycling—we begin to look for one thing: the 20 year city plan. Back in the 1970’s Portland had an opportunity to expand its highway system along its riverfront. Instead it chose the road less traveled— in fact, the road not traveled at all. Rather than build another monstrous road, the people of Portland elected to create more urban open space, light rail, an urban boundary, and legislation to help fund and build a comprehensive network of bicycle paths in and around the Portland area. According to TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch "someone was smart a long time ago, and we’re reaping the benefits."

Not to be outdone by its big brother to the north, the city of Eugene recently borrowed a page from Curitiba, Brazil‘s acclaimed urban planning handbook and took a quantum leap forward in its public transportation by building the United States‘ first Bus Rapid Transit (EmX) system that runs on specially designed diesel-electric hybrid buses with dedicated right of way. Somewhere a city planner is cheering in Portuguese.

Meanwhile, we’re cheering the city planners in Oregon.


Ben, Julie, and Mark (Your YERT Team)

P.S. And now for Breadcrumbs! If you want to learn more about the topics in this video, check out these resources:

1. EmX. Essentially, the coolest bus system we’ve seen all year, handily explained by Andy Vobora, Marketing and Communications Director at the Lane Transit District. That said, we haven’t been to Curitaba, Brazil, and you can compare the two for yourself– there is an interesting film about the brilliant public transportation system (busses included) created in South America, and we highly recommend that you watch the trailer here.

2. Bicycle Transportation Alliance. According to their website, the BTA is "working to promote bicycling and improve bicycling conditions in Oregon and SW Washington." We spoke to Executive Director Scott Bricker at the BTA about all things bikes – possibly the most efficient form of transportation! By the way, he’s not the only Scott Bricker leading bicycle advocacy for a major American city – check this out. What are the odds?

3. TriMet. This is a municipal corporation responsible for most of the public transporation in Portland‘s metro area. We spoke to Mary Fetsch, Communications Director for TriMet, and you can find all sorts of cool facts about this organization here. Facts like this one: "TriMet carries more people than any other U.S. transit system its size."


3 thoughts on “YERTpod22: Moving the Right Way in Oregon

  1. Oregon and Vermont are two of my favorite places. But when it comes to cycling, I just don’t feel safe anywhere on the east coast, even riding on the streets of ultra cool Burlington VT. Oregon has them beat. Here’s to the visionary planning of the left coasties!

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