Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Portland Profiles: David Marshall

Welcome to the inaugural issue of 'Portland Profile," where you will find a brief but informative interview with Portland citizens that are living the car-free lifestyle that this blog promotes.

We begin this first profile by interviewing David Marshall. Dave is a member of the Portland city council and as you can see by the picture of him to the left, he is also a professional artist. He is well known around town as the chair of the energy and environmental sustainability committee and housing committee. A few other boards and committees he is involved in include, health and recreation, public art, Portland's Downtown District, Greater Portland Transit District, and the Creative Portland Corporation.

In addition to that, the fact that Dave Marshall lives a car-free life here in Portland makes him a perfect individual to profile on this site.

How long have you been living in Portland? How long have you been car-free?

During the summer of 1998 I moved to the West End of Portland and quickly learned that having a car was not necessary. Over the past 11 years I have been car-free for the vast majority of the time.

What are the biggest rewards and challenges, personally, to your car-free lifestyle?

Walking and biking everywhere has integrated exercise into my daily life. Extreme weather conditions can put a damper on your day, but that is one reason why we have buses and cabs.

Any ideas for quick fixes that would encourage people to get out of their cars and experience the city more?

A regional transit map will help people use transit by putting the schedules of the METRO, South Portland Bus Service, Casco Bay Lines, Amtrak, Cocord, Greyhound, and others on the same map. This a long awaited integration that will go public in September.

Another step that could promote more transit use is to get the regional transit providers integrated into Google Transit. This will allow customers to access all of the transit options through a lap top or a cell phone. The feature includes inter-modal connections and walking routes and times of travel. When I was visiting my brother in San Francisco I used Google Transit and it allowed me to navigate the BART, METRO, and bus services of several cities all with my cell phone. Check it out at

If you have some knowledge about other similarly sized cities, how do they compare to Portland as far as alternative transportation options?

Portland has a number of transportation options that are unique for a city of our size: the PWM International Jet Port, International Marine Terminal, Casco Bay Ferry Service, the CAT, Amtrak, two intercity bus services, METRO, and others. Our next step is to integrate our passenger transit providers with the METRO Bus so you can go from Amtrak to the Casco Bay Ferry Lines or from the Jet Port to the CAT.

Another Portland, in Oregon, is known for its proactive land-use planning and transit-oriented development policies. The city is also known for its high percentage of bicycle commuters and overall ‘green friendly’ culture. Could more transit-oriented developments and similar land-use planning work well in our Portland, at a smaller scale of course?

Portland, Maine has many potential Transit Oriented Developments. Plans have been completed for Bayside and the Eastern Waterfront and underway for Franklin Arterial and Forest Avenue. Other potential TOD's are at Thompson's Point and the Western Waterfront.

Do you own a bicycle? If so, have you mastered the peninsula’s hilly terrain?

By biking around Portland almost everyday, I learned quickly what streets are best for climbing hills. Pick a low gear and keep a steady pace.

The Sustainable Portland Report, available on the city website, was published in 2007 and laid out some great action steps and areas of accountability for the committee. Has the committee had a successful start and any idea when the next report (if needed) will be published?

Sustainable Portland Task Force developed the Sustainable Portland final report, which was completed last year.

A couple of years ago the
Energy and Environmental Sustainablity Committee was created as a standing committee of the City Council. This year as it's chair, we initiated an energy service contract and now that an audit of over 50 city buildings is complete we are working with AMERESCO to develop an investment plan. Once our city buildings have efficient heating and cooling systems, more insulation and weather stripping, and renewable energy sources we will save energy and money while creating green jobs.

Also the EESC moved Green Building Codes for city buildings and developments receiving tax brakes or grants from the City, which passed with unanimous City Council support. Through the budget process this year we removed 25% of the streetlights in the City to reduce over-lighting on suburban arterials to save $225,000 per year.

Next on the agenda for the EESC is to work with
ICLEI on a Climate Resilient Communities program plan for the effects of climate change. See here to learn more.

Helpful David Marshall links:

Thanks for your time, David! This concludes this informative interview. Would you or someone you know like to be in the next Portland Profile? Contact for more information.

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