Kickstarter reward #2: Miming the MAX

“We’ll email you a video of Becca lip-syncing the sound a MAX train makes when it goes by.”

It’s been a while, and our model has changed a bit along the way. But our mobile app is ready, and it’s part of big plans now underway at Portland Afoot and BikePortland to improve Portland’s transportation information and inspiration. Come celebrate by joining us at happy hour Wednesday, July 17, at Backspace on NW 5th and Couch, between 5 and 7 p.m.

You can also see Kickstarter Reward #1, and watch this space for more.

Have a drink with us! Our app is ready

“Mike and Josh will walk around downtown Portland for an hour, telling everyone how great you are (we’ll need a brief bio).”

Sometimes, a lot of things happen at once.

A couple weeks before we were ready to launch our mobile app in May, we wrapped up a plan to join forces with our friends at BikePortland.org. It was a big deal, and we decided we needed to do it right — we suddenly needed a solid, revised plan for how a mobile app could fit into our indie media empire.

Two months later, we’ve got one. That’s why I’m overjoyed to (finally) invite you to have a drink with us at Backspace next week, test the first public version of our simple mobile app, and talk about how Portland Afoot and BikePortland are going to keep working together to inform low-car life in Portland.

It’s right where this campaign started, at Backspace on NW 5th and Couch, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17. Come check it out — and don’t miss the video above, in which we present the first of many Kickstarter rewards to come.

Watch this space as we roll out the rest.

KATU covers our columnist’s carsharing experiment

Last winter, Portland Afoot low-car lifestyle columnist Cathy Hastie conducted a grand experiment: she parked her family van for two weeks and used Zipcar and car2go for all her auto trips.

The results were so interesting (and well-documented by Cathie, complete with her total costs per mile, trip hour and day) that local ABC affiliate KATU saw them and ran a 4-minute report on the endeavor in their newscast last week, complete with cost breakdowns and (AMAZINGLY) a bobble-head version of Cathy.

The information here won’t be news to people who are already familiar with carsharing, but it’s a charming look at Cathy and her husband’s low-car thinking:

 

KATU’s text version of the report is here, and if you want to sign up for the $200-credit Getaround share-your-car study mentioned at the end, you can do that by registering your own vehicle for sharing via their service.

Our mind-meld with BikePortland: The story so far

Vulcan mind meld (copyright Paramount Pictures and CBS)A couple weeks ago, we announced that Portland Afoot and BikePortland will be joining forces. Today you can see some of the first fruits of that: I’ve got a couple posts on BikePortland today and a new byline as that site’s news editor.

This seemed like a good occasion to share a bit about what’s happening and how this is going to work.

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Bus Riders Unite! names East Portland’s three most ridiculously bad bus stops

Update: Thanks to TriMet planner Jeff Owen, we’ve resolved an error in OPAL’s calculations that overstated the ridership at some of these bus stops. The numbers listed below are correct. –MA

Portland has a very serious problem with its bus stops.

For example, here’s a Google Street View image of the stop at Northeast 15th and Knott, which sees a total of 31 people per weekday get on or off the No. 8 bus:

empty bus stop with shelter

And here’s the bus stop at Southeast Powell and 122nd, where the No. 9 averages 249 ons and offs per day:

crowded bus stop with no shelter

To be fair, it’s possible that a third-party organization, such as the Irvington church in the first photo, pays for some of the amenities at its stop. But official TriMet policy recommends installing a rain shelter at every bus stop with at least 50 boardings per day – and it’s obvious that many, many busy stops fail that standard.

At a meeting last night that marked the capstone of a two-year Metro-funded project by OPAL‘s Bus Riders Unite! organization, about 30 East Portland transit riders used a Survivor-style selection process to choose the three east-side bus stops in deepest need of improvement.

They had a lot of material to choose from.

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40 awesome photos from Saturday’s transit game (including the awesomest of all)

Last Saturday, Portland’s transit system became a giant toy train set for 200 fun-seekers on 49 teams traveling the city in pursuit of points, $2500 in prizes and the answer to the mystery of the missing Faire LeSquare.

The day-long game, a celebration of Portland Afoot’s third birthday and its new direction, was the product of months of planning by dozens of volunteers and contributions from numerous local businesses, and it was a huge success.

Here’s what went down.

Around 9 a.m., game master Matt Cleinman took charge of the floor at Velo Cult (aka Game Central) as the dozen volunteers who staffed our headquarters showed up.

mattincharge

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Portland Afoot and BikePortland are going to take their next steps – together

BikePortland and Portland Afoot logosTomorrow’s a big celebration for Portland Afoot. It’s not just our third annual birthday party. It’s not just the day of our ridiculously awesome citywide transit adventure game. (We’re expecting more than 200 players crisscrossing the city.)

It’s also a celebration of the next step in Portland Afoot’s journey: We’re planning to team up with BikePortland.org.

You can read about this on BikePortland, too.

BikePortland publisher Jonathan MausPortland Afoot has worked with BikePortland, the region’s indispensable source of bicycle information and inspiration and one of the best local news startups in the country, since before we even launched. Jonathan, BikePortland’s founder and editor, has been a guiding light, a collaborator and often a mentor – never hesitating to welcome Portland Afoot’s voice to the public conversation with as much care as he welcomes every other. Though Jonathan and his wife Juli operate BikePortland as a mom-n-pop media business and Portland Afoot is published by a small 501(c)3 nonprofit, I think both enterprises prove that social entrepreneurship is as social entrepreneurship does.

A year ago January, in Portland Afoot’s annual report to the community, I wrote that Portland Afoot had achieved too many successes to abandon, but not enough success to survive without changing. Today, with 2,100 subscribers to our monthly, about 800 podcast regulars, 11,000 unique web visitors a month and $18,000 in revenue last year, that’s still the case.

At the time, I identified four possible roads: doubling down on our monthly, shifting to quarterly publication, going online-only and merging with another organization.

In the months that followed, we launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that allows us to continue putting out a magazine-style product – one that’s free on mobile devices, unconstrained by the rules, structures and marginal costs of print and mail. Tomorrow’s game is the culmination of seven months of work developing the software for that mobile edition – which will also be open-source and available to small publishers everywhere.

Now, Jonathan and I are going to start collaborating more closely. We’re not quite sure yet where we’re going, which channels we’ll use or what sort of news operation will result – but we’re sure that working closely together is the best way to make both organizations better.

We’re also sure that we want your advice.

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Parking in Richmond; or, The pros and cons of being awesome

lifestyle columnist Cathy HastieLifestyle columnist Cathy Hastie and her family own a house in southeast Portland’s Richmond neighborhood, the core of resistance to the city’s recent boom in no-parking apartments. She’s been thinking about this issue a lot – and has some advice for her neighbors.

A surge of awesomeness is wrapping itself around me and my inner southeast Richmond neighbors, whether we like it or not.

Mood to Move: Low-car culture with PDX's Cathy HastieMy husband and I moved into our home right off Southeast Division Street 17 years ago. A solitary furniture refinishing business remains where once there was a plethora of quirky low-brow shops and industrial businesses. Gone is the flaking red paint of the Laughing Horse revolutionary bookstore, replaced by Victory, a wine bar that most nights packs a house full of spiffy, shiny kids in non-prescription nerd-glasses and a corral full of bicycles. Closed is the metal engraving and etching shop. Ditto the discount furniture store and Rose City Reptiles. Division was a bit down-at-the-heels, but friendly and unique – never snooty.

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Mood to Move: Portland’s $134 million monument to me

Lifestyle columnist Cathy Hastie heard that a certain local civic engineering project was still awaiting a name. She’s decided to make a modest proposal – on your behalf, actually.

lifestyle columnist Catherine HastieThe solemn elk in the middle of Southwest Main street; the diminutive bronze of former mayor Vera Katz smiling upon Eastbank bikers; the plaid-shirted effigy of Paul Bunyan at North Denver and Interstate: despite these few commemorative statues, many of them celebrating non-humans, Portland is not a city overflowing with monuments.

So would it surprise you to know that there is a new $134 million monument under development in our fair City of Roses as we speak? A massive landmark built to commemorate and celebrate a local hero?

mood to move logo smallYou might cite the recent cacophony of commercial development as an excuse for missing it. But it is impossible to overlook, rising 180 feet into the heavens and stretching more than 1,700 feet long. Its skeleton is starting to fill a highly-prized spot of natural beauty on the Willamette River. Its massive foundation, like the hindquarters of a muscular sphinx, reflects the power and importance of the Portlander it honors. Its four elegant towers capture the heraldry of the offering, exalting this most revered citizen of our fine city. Who among us has tirelessly enacted feats of courageous and incredible ingenuity to merit this amazing, costly, time-consuming labor of love?

Humbly I will admit: it is a monument to me.

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Portland’s original transit network: a beautiful map from 1943

Via reader Hart Noecker (who blogs at Mismanaging Perception) and the great site Vintage Portland, here’s a sweet map of the mass transit system that made Portland what it is:

trolley-map-portland-traction-co-1943

The map, which according to its filename dates from 1943, is by the private Portland Traction Company.

On Twitter, our friends at TriMet Diaries pointed to this ZehnKatzen Times post, which explores a map very similar to this one – a 1940 edition that boasted of portraying "The World’s Finest Trolley System."

Hmm. Yep, Portland is still Portland.

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