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?

CRC – Part II

Columbia River I-5 Bridge

Columbia River I-5 Bridge

The Aug. 11th, Vancouver’s, Columbian editorial, “It’s time to move forward“, was insightful and accurate. Like many, I was prepared to accept that the Columbia River Crossing was dead. However, it looks like there may be a glimmer of life left in the idea. More than $170 million, countless man-hours of expert engineering data, and nearly a decade of time is invested in this project. Our State and Federal leaders must exhaust all avenues before giving up. And so I was elated when I discovered Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is working on a last ditch effort, “Oregon Lite…CRC”, http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/08/crc_lite_oregon_should_build_a.html, to still work with the CRC project and breath life into this extremely important project.

What surprised me (yet again) was the apparent anger and resentment by the Republican coalition of the Washington state Senate to even consider another idea. Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, made reference to Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber as, “uncooperative”, for even bringing forth this unique idea. Our leaders should be looking at all ideas to fix a problem — not to kill a possible solution. Such attitudes and actions tell me people’s own agendas, or egos, seem to have more value to them than looking for compromise that can address this big problem that faces the largest roadway on the Western side of North America — Interstate 5.

To value ego over the possibility of a good idea to help find a solution to the I-5 crossing is not good leadership. It is not leadership at all.

We can and must do better.

Crossing the Columbia

InterstateBridge

In the Portland metro area there are only two ways by car to cross the Columbia River, the I-5 Bridge and the I-205 bridge. And that’s it for the foreseeable future now that the Washington state legislature has rejected funding a new bridge via a Republican controlled Senate coalition. Is there an issue about this commute to PSU that affects students and their decision to attend the university?

The current I-5 Bridge was built in 1917 with a twin section completed in 1958. As the only drawbridge on the entire length of Interstate 5, it has the only stop sign on this important freeway. Hundreds of thousands of cars cross it daily going either north or south, and 60,000 vehicles alone travel from Vancouver to Portland per day for employment. It is a crucial connection for greater Portland and the entire West Coast.

The design of the bridge, although an engineering achievement in 1917, is now being used far beyond its design capabilities. The bridge’s wooden pilings are not set in the bedrock beneath the river but in the sandy bottom, thus increasing many times, the damage an earthquake could cause. Hours-long traffic snarls occur on a daily basis.

How amy PSU students find commuting to the university hindered by this ancient bridge? How many students find they must attend another university because they simply cannot rely upon a commute to Portland utilizing this old bridge with its traffic nightmares?

Students, faculty or staff of PSU, what do you think?


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What would you do?

I am a student here at PSU just like you and I would like to know what you would have done?

Yesterday Feb. 13, I took MAX into PSU and returned from PSU, just like I do 2x per week. But this trip, I encountered a very uncomfortable situation on MAX that could have ended up with violence, or at the least, a very tense moment which would have left me and some other passengers in varying states of trauma.

On my trip into PSU, around 3:45, Max stopped at the 82nd street depot and picked up some people. Three of these were youths- probably 16-19 years of age, male. But these three were very loud…I mean they were shouting well above the normal din of a busy MAX commute. One chose to run up and down the car, jump up and grasp the stainless poles and swing around. His friends would cheer him on. At first I just ignored this rowdy behavior. But…it did not stop. When, like me, most people were ignoring this rude behavior the youth escalated his behavior. This signaled a change to me. This young man, encouraged on by his two peers, began to try and provoke a response from the rest of us. He began to make “charges” at some people, as if he was going to purposely make contact with people. I looked around and some of the passengers were now worried…you could see it in their faces. I was sitting next to a window and had a young lady sitting beside me. She was becoming upset. I decided to do something. I made an effort and caught the eye of one of the young people who was cheering on his physical friend. He was maybe five feet away. Our eyes met. I was not smiling. At first he looked seriously at me and then he did something I did not expect. He laughed. He laughed right at me. I felt the blood rush to my face. I felt my fingers curl into tight fists. I began to feel my legs move…but then I stopped. Was this action I was about to take going to solve anything? Instead of helping, protecting the others around me, could I actually be escalating this (now) dangerous situation? Luckily I did not have to contemplate those questions very long for we were pulling into the Lloyd Center depot and the youths made their departure.

When those three young men left the MAX car you could almost feel the sense of relief that blew through our section of MAX. Whew! But I was shaking. Really physically shaking. Not from fear but from anger and adrenaline. The young lady who sat beside me softly put her hand upon mine and just smiled up at me. And I felt better.

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.

Living in Downtown Has its Advantages

Coming from a small but rural town, I’m used to having stores, restaurants, and other places beyond walking distance. It’s very common to see young teenagers get their license and start driving to high school and elsewhere, I certainly did when I had the chance. Most cities have the same layout, where you need a car to get around. But Portland is small compared to other cities.

Powell’s bookstore, restaurants, Pioneer Place mall and are all within walking distance. Our public transportation makes it easy to travel one side of the city to the other. The street car makes it easy for me to get around. The street car, along with the MAX line and TriMet buses, are vital to many students and PSU commuters.

Without fail, the streets and public transportations are full with people every weekday who are ready to start a new day. It is nice to live near PSU so I don’t have the hassle of waiting for a bus or the Max and taking up some of my time commuting. It is expensive to livedowntown, but the experience and the independency are invaluable. I have been living in Portland for more than two years and I’m planning to stay here for a few more years.

What do you think: Are there more pros than cons living downtown?

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?