No Car? No Problem

By: Chelsea Ware

Who wants to pay for campus parking and gas on top of high tuition prices and overpriced textbooks? I know that I sure don’t! Before I moved to Portland I would drive almost every day, but here I have realized that I no longer need my car. In fact, I enjoy not having my car with me. There are so many other options when it comes to getting around!

Portland State offers discounted three-month TriMet passes that allow students to ride the MAX, bus, and streetcar with ease. Additionally, the streetcar is free downtown for students even without the paid pass; all you need is your student ID.

On September 12th of this year, the Tilikum Crossing, also called the Bridge of the People, will open for use. At more than 1,700 feet in length, it is the longest car-free transit bridge in the U.S. The bridge will allow MAX trains, buses, streetcars, cyclists and pedestrians to efficiently cross the Willamette without congestion from cars. Additionally, MAX will soon have a new orange line that crosses the bridge and allows for access to more stops.

Car sharing services like Car2Go and Zipcar also make it easy for students who don’t have a car but want to go further than the city limit for a day trip or just for errands. A low one-time startup fee and no monthly payments make it a breeze to use the plethora of smart cars that Car2Go has parked around campus and the general Portland area. You are only charged for what you drive and you can park the car anywhere in Car2Go’s home territory when you are finished. Zipcar has a monthly fee (price depends on the plan you pick) but allows users more flexibility when it comes to choosing different sizes and models of cars. It’s great if you need a larger car for the day. The Zipcar parking lot next to Safeway by campus makes it easy to pick up and return the car, too.

Biking to and from school is also a great option. PSU makes it simple by offering bike rentals and parking. The PSU Bike Hub is a phenomenal  resource for students who might need bike repairs or to rent other forms of biking equipment.

What do you guys think of these car sharing services? Do you think it’s easier to live downtown without owning a car?

Finally, a Place to Call My Home and People to Call My Family.

homeI have lived on campus for three years, and in three different locations. Living in the city was a drastic change for me. I grew up in a rural area where I had no neighbors, surrounded instead by acres of orchards. While living in the city brought me new experiences, it was expensive and at times lonesome for me.

I have had a total of seven male roommates, have lived alone, and at one point, I lived with five roommates. One can just imagine how things went living in a place with five guys. We were all single, young, and a bit naive  Yet, throwing parties, going out, hanging out as a group, and goofing around just wasn’t for me. At the end of the day, I would always feel alone or being left out of something meaningful.

My mornings, evenings, and my life are now spent with my new family. I moved in with my girlfriend this past summer into her sister’s house in Oregon City. It’s a full house; there are two cats, two dogs, her husband, her sister in law, and her 2 year old son who, I like to say, is the king of the house. It’s a great welcoming and friendly environment. I often hear the little boy call out everyone’s name from across the house. I get up every weekday at 7 to get ready for my day and help my girlfriend get prepared as well. I see the cats walking back and forth, and I hear the dogs in the yard barking for attention.

At 22, I love my new home, my girlfriend, my new family, and myself. I have left behind my single, lonesome, and confused life. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Bike to PSU!

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Clint Culpepper, Bike Hub supervisor, took a few minutes out his busy day to tell me about the upcoming Bike to PSU Challenge.

What is the Bike to PSU Challenge all about?

Clint: The Bike to PSU Challenge is our annual push to get more students and staff of the university to try bike commuting. This is our sixth year, but last year was definitely our best with over 800 participants logging miles and over 25% of them were new commuters.

What’s in it for me?

Clint: This year we have some fantastic prizes that will be given out throughout the Challenge. We have panniers and racks from Ortlieb, one-of-a-kind backpacks from Chrome, lights, caps and shirts from Knog and two trips on the Outdoor Program’s bike touring trip. Team captains will also get a T-shirt from the Challenge. We are most excited about two big prizes; Portland Design Works has given us enough of their Radbot 1000 taillights to give one away every day of the challenge and we have five Linus bikes to give away.

What advice do you have for those who have been thinking about commuting by bike, but haven’t taken the plunge?

Clint: For new riders, we recommend checking out the variety of free maps that the city of Portland has published. The city has done a fantastic job of creating safe routes around town to make it easier to get to and from campus. The Bike Hub has all of these maps available and our staff is more than happy to help people discover a route that works for them. It can be very intimidating for new riders, and one thing that we’ve found helps quite a bit is riding the route on the weekend or another day that they don’t have to be at school. This will give them the time to relax and sort out any worries that they may have.

I’m in! How do I sign up?

Clint: You can sign up at biketopsu.com. The registration is pretty easy, and from there you can sign up as a solo rider or as a team captain. If you would like to join a team that has already formed, the captain of the team can send you an invitation e-mail.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Clint: Biker Breakfast! Every Wednesday we’ll be rewarding riders with free donuts and coffee from Coco Donuts at the Urban Plaza, Smith Center, and Cramer Hall.

Look for me biking up Broadway every day in May on my bright yellow Jamis, aka “The Taxi”.

Commuting by Bike is a Daily Adventure

Bikes outside of Lincoln Hall.

The 2.6 mile ride from my apartment in Northeast to campus takes me 20 minutes on a good day. Add an extra five to 10 minutes when it’s raining. After attaching my panniers, which are stuffed to capacity with everything I’ll need for the day, I head west on Broadway past the car dealerships, checking out the progress of the new streetcar line.

Crossing the Broadway Bridge, I slow down, looking right and then left, taking in the panoramic view of the city. Faster cyclists whiz past me dinging their bells or calling out, “On your left!” Now that I’m on the other side of the bridge, I pick up speed and race past Union Station, and if I time it right, all the way to Burnside without stopping. Now I am extra alert. I’ve had several close calls at this intersection.

This is the most challenging leg of the ride. Downtown is a roller coaster of hills and an obstacle course of car doors, potholes and pedestrians. I talk out loud to the cars around me; “Do you see me? Are you going to stop?” I spin uphill to the intersection of SW Broadway and Jefferson; I am panting and sweating profusely. Only one more hill to go before I’m there. The construction in front of Lincoln Hall forces me out into the traffic lane, where cars are not always happy to accommodate my presence. Outside of Cramer Hall, I lock up. I made it.

What’s your commute to campus like, road warriors?