Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back Cove Connection

As I learned via Rights of Way earlier this month, the long anticipated pedestrian/bicycle connection at Exit 7 has been completed. Hurrah! This short but valuable trail connects Marginal Way/Franklin Street/ The Bayside Trail to The Back Cove Trail. Here are a few photos of the $200,000 project that I took this past weekend:

Ignore the "Do Not Enter" signs, those are just for cars.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gifts for Car-free Portlanders

Here are a couple last-minute gift ideas for the car-free Portlander on your list. 

Regional Monthly Bus Pass

Good for unlimited rides on the Metro and South Portland Bus lines. Only $45. 

Photo via Rights of Way

"The first and only Portland Maine Bike Map highlights bike routes, lanes, and paths from Falmouth to Scarborough, Casco Bay to Westbrook - almost everyplace you can comfortably reach in an easy hour's ride from downtown Portland." $6.

Maine Running Company Gift Certificate

"At Maine's only running specialty store, you will find a welcoming environment where runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts of all abilities receive unparalleled service and support."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Living Without a....

This Google search autocomplete reinforces a general sentiment that a car is an inalienable part of people's bodies. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Portland Society of Architects - Mayoral Questionnaire

The Portland Society of Architects, a local non-profit that promotes progress and economic development of Greater Portland by encouraging innovation and vision in design and planning,  devised a great questionnaire for the city's mayoral candidates to complete. Nine of the candidates replied and you can check out the questions and their answers here. A few sample questions include: "What is the most important thing you would do to improve the quality of the urban environment in Portland?" And "In 20 years, what would you like to see or experience while walking along Stevens, Forest or Washington Avenue?"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation

The Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation, MaST for short, will be holding a general meeting on October 25th at Peloton Labs, 795 Congress Street. Check out the poster below and this post at the Portland Green Streets website for more info and to RSVP.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Metro Bus Rider Survey

The METRO is looking at some changes to the Route 1 service, according this rider survey I came across. Nothing too drastic is planned, but they would like some feedback from riders. If you are interested in completing the survey, you can email it to dbeck@gpmetrobus.comRoute #1- South Side MunJoy Hill Survey-9.6.11 REV.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Liberate Spring Street!

The Portland Society of Architects will be hosting a (members-only) event on September 20th concerning Spring Street. Check out this page for details. They summarize the situation by saying:
The city planners of the early 1970′s, fueled with Federal money, demolished the core of Portland in an attempt to build a suburban mall downtown. Now we are left with jersey barriers between High and Exchange St and a senseless highway that, except a few skateboarders, is only used by automobiles.
It’s time to fix this six block mistake.

The section of Spring Street that they are interested in liberating is the highway-like area between High Street (where the West End starts) and Middle Street (where the Old Port starts) is highlighted below:

This slightly unpleasant stretch of street was once similar to how it still is further in the West End. This highway-like section was built around the same time as Franklin Arterial and coincided with the construction of the Civic Center and Holiday Inn but also the destruction of several buildings and smaller streets. Although this stretch of road is not as offensive of Franklin Street post-urban renewal, I applaud the Portland Society of Architects for getting the conversation started on how to improve this area. Although it is   early in the process, I look forward to hearing the ideas that they come up with. Read more about this topic in this recent Daily Sun article.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bicycle Registration

Do you own a bicycle and live in Portland? You might as well register your bicycle with the city using this nifty website. You simply enter some contact information and information specific to your bicycle and you will be contacted in the event that your bicycle is recovered.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Go To: Gilsland Farm Audubon Center

So this is the first post in a new series called "Go To." This series will feature occasional posts looking at places to go within the greater Portland area that are easily accessible by foot, bike, and/or public transportation. Of course, you can also get to these places by car if you must.

Today's stop is the Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth. The address you can punch into your mapping system of choice is 20 Gilsland Farm Rd, Falmouth, Maine 04105. Here is the website for the center, which is part of the Maine Audubon. The red dot on this map indicates the location, which is quite close to downtown Portland:

How can you get here? It is a nice bicycle ride up Route 1 or you can take the #7 Metro Bus which goes right by the entrance to Gilsland Farm Road. 

What is here? There are 2.5 miles of scenic trails to explore, which feel like they are much further from Maine's largest city than they really are. Gilsland Farm is also the Maine Audubon headquarters, and features their teachers' resource center and Maine Audubon Nature Store. This is a beautiful area to explore, here are a few photos:

And  look, the Portland skyline beckons! I will have to go back here on a less hazy day for photos:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Portland to Boston for $1

A tip of my hat to Broke207, where today I learned that Megabus is now offering special $1 fares for one-way travel between Portland an Boston.

Megabus is a pretty well-known operator of low-cost intercity buses in the US and UK. Concord Coach Lines, which connects Portland's Transportation Center with Boston's South Station is Megabus's partner in this low-cost venture. The $1 deals are limited to a couple of seats on each trip and require booking in advance. Megabus and competitors such as BoltBus have similar deals between other cities with special reduced fares. So the next time you are heading out of Portland via public transportation, don't forget to check out the Megabus offer. I enjoy the legroom of the Amtrak Downeaster compared to the bus, but snagging a $1 ticket is a good trade-off.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Express Bus

As part of the big development proposal at Thompson's Point,which will be known as "The Forefront at Thompson's Point," the city may be getting some additional tax revenue for public transit. Per this Press Herald article from today's paper, the city council "decided to set aside 25 percent of the money the city will receive [in taxes from the development once completed], to be used for transit projects." 

City councilor, public transit advocate, and mayoral candidate David Marshall, profiled on this blog in 2009, pointed out while talking with the Press Herald that the money from this development "...would be enough to pay for an express bus from the Portland International Jetport to the Portland Transportation Center – next to the proposed Thompon’s Point development – and then on to the Maine State Pier." Here's a quick Google maps map of the route from these three public transit hubs: 

I'm not sure of this bus route would by managed by the Metro or not, but I think this would be a good route that would kind of combine two existing Metro routes, the #5 (The Maine Mall bus) and the #8 (the peninsula route). 

The #5 currently goes from the Metro Pulse on Elm Street and out to the mall, but also services the Jetport and Portland Transportation Center. Speaking as a weekday rider of the #5, I see a decent amount of people going directly between the jetport and the transportation center. Perhaps this new route would allow the #5 to skip over those two stops and make more frequent and less-congested trips between downtown and the mall area. 

The #8 is the peninsula route bus, which stops at the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal while meandering around the rest of the peninsula. One suggestion I would make, without in-depth research on the issue, is for this newly envisioned express bus bus is to also swing by Monument Square and the Metro Pulse in order to fully connect with the rest of the bus system. Either way, the fact that public transportation continues to be on the radar of our city council is a good thing. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Paint Your Own Crosswalk

This is a crosswalk across Elm Street, at Monument Square:

And with a bucket of high-visibility-glow-in-the-dark-annoyingly-bright yellow paint:

Of course, I wouldn't actually paint my own crosswalk. This random story from 2008 I came across details someone in Indiana who was jailed for taking matters into his own hands after the city decided not to paint a crosswalk.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Paint it White

It's nice to see the freshly painted crosswalks around downtown. If you have been outside this last week then you have probably noticed them too. I think they help alert drivers of pedestrian crossing areas better than signage alone.

There remains some places around the peninsula that are oddly lacking crosswalks. For example, the intersection of Free and Center Streets, which is at a pretty central pedestrian location directly between Monument Square and the Civic Center:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bus Stops on Google Maps

Two Google maps posts in a row? Not surprising when you consider that I enjoy looking at and analyzing maps.

Anyhow, not sure if these have always been here (maybe I've just been missing it at all these years), but I found that the Metro and South Portland bus stops and schedules have been integrated into my Google maps. I think these have been an option for Google Earth but I never noticed the integration on regular web maps until recently. They seem to be accurately placed and also link to a current time table of upcoming buses.

This isn't quite as helpful as I imagine open transit data would be, which would allow developers to build applications which track the real time location of Portland's buses, but it's a good step in that direction.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bike Rack Map

I recently happened to stumble upon this page on the city website that links to a map with downtown bike rack locations:

It looks like this map was made in 2009 so it doesn't include newer bike racks (I have a feeling that many more have been built over the last two years) and it only includes the immediate downtown area, but I still find it interesting. If I had a bicycle (I'm thinking about getting a new one) and was looking for somewhere secure to lock it up while I was out and about then I might be inclined to open up this map on my phone and find out where to go.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Regional Monthly Bus Pass

Starting this month, local bus riders such as myself can take advantage of the new $45/month regional bus pass. This allows for seamless transfers between Metro and South Portland buses. Here's a poster announcing the new pass:
I think this is a great move. I personally use my part-time student status at the University of Southern Maine to obtain a great discount for Metro fares, but this regional bus pass is something that could definitely attract some new riders. You can no longer purchase the $40 a month Metro-only pass, but the price increase of $5 doesn't seem to be too hard to handle overall. I imagine that perhaps someday in the future we could see further integration between local transit providers. In order to better serve the greater Portland population, it makes sense to integrate our transit services as much as possible and to perhaps have a unified transit organization someday.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Permanent Sidewalks

Spring is in the air, which means, among other things, that the time for re-painting the city's roads is near. In addition to painting yellow center lines and bicycle lanes, crosswalks are also re-painted at least once a year. In addition to saving some money on paint, I think 'permanent' sidewalks look better and help give the road  some character.

The type of crosswalk I'm speaking of, on Federal Street by Monument Square:

Example of a less permanent crosswalk on Congress Street:

There are some good examples of these permanent crosswalks around the peninsula, and I say there is always room for more. They of course are more expensive than painted crosswalks initially (perhaps depending on the material used), and do require upkeep (to keep the crosswalk accessible to all users), but they usually look more attractive and can be safer by not fading and being more visible to motorists.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snowy Neckdowns

According to the aptly named TrafficCalming.Org, a neckdown is:
"Neckdowns are curb extensions at intersections that reduce the roadway width from curb to curb. They "pedestrianize" intersections by shortening crossing distances for pedestrians and drawing attention to pedestrians via raised peninsulas. They also tighten the curb radii at the corners, reducing the speeds of turning vehicles."
This video on StreetFilms.Org (part of the StreetsBlog network) takes a look at the affects of "snowy neckdowns" in New York, a phenomena also common in Portland:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Senior Citizen's Transportation

I happened to see an article posted on the New York Times recently which mentions little old Portland, Maine. See here. The article is in the blog section called "The New Old Age," which appears to deal with topics related to the elderly population.

This article is about the Portland branch of the Independent Transporation Network. The ITN, as it is called, provides transportation options for senior citizens who are not able, or no longer wish to, drive and maintain their own automobiles. As they say in their overview section of their website, "few of us think, and even fewer plan for, the day when we'll have to turn in our keys." This is true, and I'm led to believe that there are many people who live in communities that also have not thought about people who want to go places without a car, such as people who are no longer able to operate a motor vehicle safely due to age.

Anyhow, the blog article looks at the transportation choices made by some elderly people here in Portland. The ITN system works similarly to a taxi service when combined with a carsharing service. Members pay a certain amount per year for membership, a pick-up fee, and a set amount per mile. According to the article, the cost per mile in Portland is $1.50, which they compare the the average cost per mile in a Portland taxi which is $3.60. It's more expensive than the bus, even without the senior discount, but certainly offers more convenience.

The article has a great quote by the network's founder Katherine Freund:
“The same impairments that make it difficult for people to drive make it difficult for them to use public transportation, where they may have to walk down stairs, walk on icy sidewalks, wait in the cold or the hot sun,” said Ms. Freund. “And now we’re living longer. We’re outliving all of our systems, including the transportation system.”
This seems like a really valuable service that could grow substantially as the population ages. Safe and efficient transportation options for the elderly will continue to be an issue for some time here, as Maine is already the state with the oldest population. I'd be happy to see some investment in organisations such as the ITN.


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