Alma Haus Press is about seeking knowledge and then pondering upon what has been learned. When we feel passionate about a subject we will research it more, or just let our passion out on the page, sometimes in prose and sometimes in poetry. We offer to present others' work here, with permission, but do not offer monetary compensation. Learn more about us on our mission page.
1 May 2022
This is Portland, Oregon!
May Day! May Day!!
Can someone please send help?
One night, late December 2021, while wandering around the Internet, hoping to find how I could put in a word, a complaint, to the federal transportation agents about how we're being treated in Portland, Oregon. At one point, I was asked to do a survey, something about helping me to find my answer… at https://www.transportation.gov/about. I just now revisited this link, as this is something I do right before posting a URL. The page has been changed and has a posted date of change as March 28, 2022. A lot of web sites change with regularity. Many of my web site pages haven't changed much since when they were posted. I don't change my front page as often as I like, but then life is busy and I don't have a staff to help me in my missions.
It was late. Quiet. I let my passion out through the keys. The following was my comments that I left in their block. If I change a word or add a phrase, I'll make it a new color so you can tell. Otherwise, know that this is late night writing... on the fly... and it may make you bat an eye, because it has run on sentences, is rather non linear in fashion. No real paragraph seperation until I put it in this HTML format. I have no spell check on this editor that I'm using now. Pardon my errors.
The question on the Federal Transportation website page was something along the lines of what can we do for you (probably since I kept wandering around). Probably I had a spell checker, most places do these days if your computer supports it. But, grammar checker... not likely... it's all on me. Let me confess, I do love using the little ... dots ... following ideas and thoughts so that the reader will get the pause that I feel as I write along... Especially when the format seems to not favor paragraph making. The ones I make here are to make easier reading, but my original essay doesn't have a single paragraph. Enough. Without further ado, here's my essay.
I'm looking for how to ask if the Department of Transportation has a way to help Disabled Veterans in a town where we are not valued. Considering that the ADA is being used all over to add this crosswalk, and that pedestrian crossing.
While they're at it, most of our streets are being narrowed in favor of bicycles who use these streets during fair weather and on whims. Being left out are the car drivers, like myself. We are the elderly and the infirm, and the anxiety ridden. As a disabled veteran, I fit two of those categories and may become infirm in the future. At the present time, I don't want to think of me or my mate trying to walk any distance at all because the bus leaves us adrift. That happens here.
I feel that the streets in my town are being changed without regard to considerations to MOST of us in this town. I pay huge gasoline taxes when I purchase gas, as do many others here. I don't see anything for this money. I'm 68 years old and have served my country 8 years of that life and lived under the roar of the jets for 25 of those years.
I feel anxious and upset as I drive through Portland. Several reasons now. For one, our traffic is worse than abysmal. The long delays getting over the bridge on I-5 going over to Vancouver (or returning to Portland) is outrageous. Traffic becomes stalled out at 2 pm and doesn't clear until 7 pm or maybe later if there's been too many bridge lifts or any sort of accident.
That is one of two bridges serving Portland that go over the river Columbia between Oregon and Washington. The Build Back Better plan could sure help us on this part... but, we have so many other connected problems that it won't do us any good to have a good bridge built ~ the talks always break down because the bicycle and mass transit peeps always try to ramrod their way into being superior in the negotiations. They take the high road when it's obvious that peeps can't be forced to take the bus and they won't give up the car so easily.
So, what we get is a boon dongle... No traffic out and no traffic in. Traffic on all the side streets leading to the "freeway" are plugged because our streets have been narrowed down to one lane and bicycle paths. You can't go around the buses, so that determines the traffic flow. Idling cars cause air pollution, duh!! This is not rocket science. It is an obvious problem and no one in this town seems to be able to get control of it.
So, then, we have the homeless encamped on the by ways of these highways. These folks are doing things like crossing the highways at night and getting run over. The PBOT and the ODOT bicker over who's gonna do what. And. if you chat up the random PBOT driver parked on the street having lunch you may find out that they are surprised to have gotten a job considering he's not related to anyone else there and most everyone in the department, he said, are related to one another. No wonder nothing gets done... and if you do a little digging you'll find that PBOT has had bad actors in their ranks who abuse and haze newcomers in their midst and have even been sued for such abuse as they locked one worker in a room tied up and left him there a long time.
Such activity should have been publicly punished, but they hushed it up, and kept it from being a bigger deal. I was able to find the story on the internet and shared it with Mingus Mapps, one of our new commissioners, before I knew he isn't in charge of that agency. It should have caused heads to roll and not just one person to resign. I'm appalled at the activity that is going on, but then, I'm digressing from my real reason for coming here.
I want to challenge, and/or complain about/ the way that our city is being restructured without any sort of real input or concern for emergency services. These streets are being designed in such a way as to inhibit the flow of fire trucks, or ambulances to get around on the streets. The white (or orange) plastic (petroleum based) sticks they have put up in the lanes keep cars from getting into bike lanes... gosh, what do they think... that these invisible, fair weather bicyclists are going to be hit by vehicles who have a right to transportation around town the same as the bicyclists.
When I was a kid, they warned us to “Look out for cars.” Here, they warn cars they must watch out for EVERYONE in addition to dodging the obstacle courses they’ve put up for us. Perhaps this sort of "brother's keeper" assignment is causing resentment from some townsfolk.
Now, I'm getting postcards bragging about how the local city is going to make the area I live in be more friendly for bicycles, pedestrians and mass transit. Leaving us drivers out is glaring. There is not a care in the world for those of us who live the ADA world of staying in our house. Hermits. Unable to ride bicycles, and living in a rainy area that would make us sick to try and ride them, at our elderly age due to balance issues. We don't make good pedestrians and the bus trips cause my anxiety to go out the roof... just thinking of it makes me shiver and cringe.
It's not fair to make me go up in front of people and ask for my rights. I do well with writing and talking on the phone, but I stammer and stutter when trying to communicate my feelings to strangers in person. The mistreatment I had from my superiors and my fellow airmen caused much of my disability. I shouldn't have to explain that to people to get my needs met.
I need to feel safe in my city to drive and go places... but with carjacking becoming more prevalent, I still don't have an inclination to ride a bus or sit in a traffic jam waiting to be attacked. I've had that experience (being attacked) more than once in my life and I won't be having it again. I will defend myself if need be, so mostly I stay at home.
Is that what we all have to do? Yes. Pandemic... I've been vaccinated three times now and I still don't feel safe leaving home. Now, I can't feel safe or valued in my car. I have insurance. I pay fuel taxes. I don't drive often enough to fuel my car up more than once every couple of months. But, when I want to travel across the I-5 Bridge for a medical appointment, I don't want to fear sitting in a terrible traffic jam like we have every day.
Sadly, this town gets structures and then doesn't take care of them. The camping in town isn't happening any where else to this extent. It's improving recently, but the expense is unreasonable and the methodology is to be questioned. I don't think building little sheds for people is the answer.
Right now, We have huge encampments of white gangs. Kindred Spirit, the Brood and others perhaps not as organized, are mostly self described prison gangs and they've populated the whole long bicycle trail along Marine Drive. What was once a lovely drive has become an outrage.
That street borders the Portland AirPort and runs parallel to Columbia river. The city says they can't do anything because it belongs to the Port of Portland, but the Port’s not taken any responsibility for it. The Port may think it's should be the Corps of Engineers' deal because they built the dike that hides the trail from the road.
Where is the logic in all this gangland grab of our public lands? It's going to end up being where gangs will stop traffic and demand tolls to get through their areas. Just wait and see. If this isn't fixed soon... and I mean all these problems mentioned above, it will be shades of Escape from LA.
I feel that several of my rights are being taken away without even a howdy do. My right to move smoothly around this town has been removed without asking me. My right to live in a safe and secure neighborhood is being removed. More and more homeless are coming here. Why? Several reasons I think, but can't easily prove. I do know that it's apparent that most of these neo gypsies don't have the tradition of a clean camp. They're not prior military. Most appear to have been hoarders when they did have a home.
There are methods to solving problems like these and no one is using them. I think we need help. The local government isn't going to call for help. They are already ashamed, as it should be, or feel overwhelmed. To this old Grams, it seems that the children are running the school house and they don't have the skills and the maturity to do so... The life skills and the institutional ideas just aren't there.
Many seem to think that they have an original idea. Oh, yes. They do. It's called put Porta Potties all over town... if that's not an invitation to just come and squat where ever, nothing is... I'm sick to death seeing these Potties at the intersections of our best neighborhoods and right in front of businesses that are just trying to survive the Pandemic.
Call and complain. I've heard it's impossible to get to a real person. And, when you do, perhaps it was like when I called TriMet and asked about the care and cleaning of the bus stops and why aren't there trash cans near the bus stops any longer. The hateful response was unbecoming of a public servant. I asked her what sort of maintenance and cleaning schedule do they have on their stops. She asked me which of their stops should they check. I may have hit a sore spot because she was quite rude to me suggesting that I should tell her which of the bus stops I was talking about. I told her there were so many of them that I couldn't specify which one. I again returned to the idea of a schedule to check these stations, thinking of my military training. I really wasn't rude, I promise.... but... That's when she hung up on me.
Great service. Why would I want to ride a mass transit system that has no more interest in keeping their spaces clean and well maintained than to mistreat a potential user. I don't like nasty areas in which to hang around. I don't think anyone in their right mind wants such a routine. Perhaps if the city took care of their parts first, others would be more inclined.
The way that all this is turning out, the rich will ride in cars and the poor will take a bus.
I don't believe that this is a fair way to sort out the future. Hydrogen. Look into that. Also, how about wind power generated by the cars driving by. They do that wind power thing along their roads in Turkey and other European countries. Find it on the internet. I did.
We can convert our fuel engine cars, our combustion engine cars into hydrogen electric cars. Skip expensive, short term batteries. Some peeps are doing this already. Check it out. Scotty Kilmer, on YouTube, talks about it. Others talk about it. Why do we have to wait until the fuel companies ruin our water and underground wells with their fracking? Why do we have to wait until 60,000 wells are capped off from their methane leaking. Leaking. It's doing bad. The methane eats holes in our atmosphere in fairly short order. Why aren't we using it instead?
Our transportation needs to not ruin the lives of old folks like me. Elderly have lots of tales to share. We know lots of things. Don't let these youngsters out here in the West push us around and make us be afoot with our canes. Easy prey for the gangs that are freely roaming here. Our police have ceased work. They don't protect any one any more. They show up and investigate shootings. That's what we see on the TV. They patrol the streets in some urban areas, but not always with good results.
Right now. It's a power grab. The police claim that our state legislature has put a law in place that keeps them from doing their job... if so, they need to tell us what law that is. We're being held hostage here. Maybe I need to complain to the Justice Department, too... I don't know where this is all going to go.
Hope is about to go away.
But one issue could be addressed... Tell these guys, that If they're gonna make these bike lanes, then make them good enough for golf carts so ADA peeps can get around, too. More important than that is the recognizing that these "safety barriers" are actually causing barriers for emergency vehicles. It's been made easy for the bicycle traffic of only a few per day while causing an emergency hazard when we need to have fire trucks, ambulances or police come through our areas. For instance, check on Greeley Avenue from Rosa Parks Avenue to the I 5 South onramp. It's an obstacle course for cars and emergency vehicles. For more instances of graffitti and disarray under the I 405 bridge, just continue through to where the Broadway Bridge takes off to the West side. Notice how you're squeezed off by the Max Train line. They'll be no emergency vehicles on this street. The long congestion line through there at peak traffic time is disgraceful.
Furthermore, it's outrageous to keep us waiting for another bridge across the Columbia. The money has been spent for all the studies. Get on with it. Tolls are NOT the way. We're already being robbed at the gasoline pump. Our legislature just having added 38 cents to a gallon the week before the war in Urkaine began. The fuel taxes were already high. Think we'd forget? Don't bet on it. We know that our governments are getting funding from our fossil fuel use. But the government is not doing much to help us get past our traffic problems.
It's sad to see how the city of Portland (Or is it that passing the buck thing again, they'll say it's the feds or the state ODOT who is responsible. Let the baby sit in a dirty diaper because it's not your job.) A few phone calls could be made. is letting the abutments of the I-405 Bridge (the Fremont) deteriorate by letting weeds grow in between the concrete blocks. Trees are starting to form in crevices. I pass by these places on the road up to Mississippi Avenue on Interstate Avenue, driving past the PBOT yard under that bridge. The city peeps are right there!!! Why can't they take care of these minor things? Why must they wait for them to become major?
In the military we weren't allowed to be like that. These plants wedge the blocks apart over time. The city is also using the underneath of these bridges for the storage of their vehicles. It was just such a world in Georgia when that bridge burned up and they found that the cars under the bridge helped to contribute to the fire that ruined the bridge. Shameful, but they tried to blame the whole thing on an old homeless man who was camped there. If that's an issue, why are they letting encampments grow up under our bridge?
So many things related to transportation here in this town are being ignored and let go. We have criminals who live under these structures who prey upon those who live around the areas. Taxpayers and renters. All are prey. Now, our streets are more noisy because these same creeps are cutting the catalytic converters off cars, and nothing happens to them. If we switch to hydrogen cars, we don't need those expensive converters, the end product will be oxygen and water
We surely do need more oxygen given the constant cutting of trees and the fires in our valleys. It seems: We can't get no satisfaction. Maybe there's hope yet... Can you help an old grandma military veteran who wore out two sets of combat boots... She'd like some hope for how this town might have some of its major problems fixed. An investigation might be in order.
For sure, I think the old and/or disabled in this town need some respect that we're not getting. I know many of these city people drive cars. Why do they always smugly leave us out of their equation. Now, they've made it be where bicycles can legally run stop signs (supposedly if no one is coming, but I find that's not usually the case.), but what I see is that cars are taking up the habit, nice cars with bicycle logos on them. Maybe they forget themselves when they get in a car... maybe they're making new rules for themselves.
What got my goat was the most recent PBOT postcard...(scan of it is posted below, both sides), The omission of us drivers in that postcard was enough for me to see that a new ADA plan could be in order here. Can you help out those of us who have been shuffled aside for an agenda that really isn't inclusive at all. Lip Service. I know that phrase. I've experienced it so many places and in so many ways.
Let's see if an essay can get any results. How will I know? Some algorithm somewhere knows who I am. I've written enough of these sort of missives that if you really want me, you'll find me. I'll gladly give up any writing credit for some serious action on the behalf of those who are being pushed aside. ADA 12.28.21~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PBOT survey 1.31.22 ... Online Open House... on a postcard invitation... I took a scan of it... both sides... as I was sent more than one... It says it's Open to all citizens... but it's obvious that it has a stated agenda about who their plan is to benefit... and, guess what... wait... YOU GUESSED IT!! It ain't drivers...
"Commited to meaningful access" Indeed!! Only to tell you what they're doing, not to include you in their plans... What I include below are my comments only. Verbatim. No changes unless marked with my special font color. I'll try to resist doing that. I'm so opinionated that it's easy to write more.
My entry in the first comment block on Online Open House Survey:
I once was able to walk along the Peninsula Crossing Trail near my home. Now, no way. Now, it is trashed. Now, it is filled with dangerous campers who drive their crashed vehicles up into our parks. You have placed Porta Potties around our town. Only in certain areas... I know that we're being discriminated against. We drove around town and it's obvious. North Portland and outer Southeast has the greatest amount of neglect.
I don't bicycle. In college, I was an avid bicyclist. For six months that's all I had for transportation. I took my clothes to the laundromat on my bicycle. I did my grocery shoppping with my bicycle. I wrote editorial to college newspaper about the poor conditions of the road for bicyclists, but that was the early 1980s and I'm way past that. Today, I am a disabled veteran, and elderly. You are doing nothing for me. You have not considered my needs at all. I feel unsafe around people. You have made no allowances for drivers. I feel safe in my car. I can drive just fine, but you are making me feel unsafe by pressing me to take a trashed out transit system where I have to be next to other people who may be murderous. You leave your bus stops trashed and the people at your office are rude when one calls about such things. You don't represent most of the citizens' interests in this town and you are pressing your beliefs and methods on everyone else.
You make huge buses that can't safely turn corners instead of designing buses made for our streets. Put those big buses out only on peak routes at peak times and send your little buses around during the less busy times.
You don't take care of your side ways and by ways, leaving trash for those who pass. You want us to put our little bodies out there to be assaulted by these people who are trashing our streets. You have no concern for the elderly who want to care for themselves and take their own cars. You make us idle and avoid all these new painted lanes and ugly sticks. What's to happen when the emergency vehicles come around these streets and they can't pass the cars because you've blocked all the extra roadway???
2nd comment block:
Using transit is not an option for me. I am Disabled American Veteran. I want to use my car. I am a good driver. I was once a school bus driver and I was trained in the military how to drive. I don't like being around other people. It's high anxiety. In this time of Pandemic that desire to keep away from people has become stronger.
The disgust with how the city is being run is growing. I don't know what will become of Portland. I’ve lived here since 1986 and this is the worst it’s ever been.. I've been for drives around town lately and find that not all sectors of the city are being so trashed. Why is it that North Portland, Marine Drive and Outer SE are being so neglected? I saw where there's none of this trashed out area in some sectors of town, but right here in the heart of the "Gateway to Nature" we're not getting any help. Old RVs and such line our streets and nothing is happening to clear it out. Under the I405 bridge at Mississippi Ave.
Then, what’s that big trash pile across the street from the Lyft inspection… at N Graham and Mississippi… TRASH PILE!!! And, right across the way is the Portland City vehicle lot…. All kinds of city employees see this all the time, but nothing is done about it. Go into Alberta Street, along Fremont Street toward Sandy, this area and lots of other places near there are clean and tidy... but not our spaces. Peninsula Crossing Trail... Going Street at Greeley... Marine Drive… NE 33rd, Delta Park… I don't understand why Portland is letting squatters converge on our natural areas and act like all is well… It’s okay, we’re all for it…
Well, it ain't okay and we’re not all for it… going into the ditch we are… willy, nilly, fast and silly… Now, who else can I say all this to?
In the next and last block...
Responding to the question:
Do you have any other thoughts.
Do I ever?
As a disabled person who is NOT being served by your plan to "improve access to community destinations, improve the safety of our streets, and support walking, biking and transit use."
Well. I kept thinking that you're supposed to represent EVERYONE, especially the frail, the elderly and the disabled. Well. You're not.
You're not addressing the needs of people who drive. Responsible drivers. You don't represent us. And, guess what. We're the ones paying all the transportation taxes. You are by definition excluding an important part of this society. You are neglecting people who are described in the ADA ... I am disabled. Yet, my needs are not being addressed by your plan. My needs are being ignored by PBOT.
Your plan does nothing to help Emergency vehicles find their way through traffic to get to us when we need them. Your plan does nothing to help us get to our doctors up on Pill Hill or across the Vancouver bridge for appointments to the doctor and dentist. Your plan is discriminatory to us old people. Your plan does little to quell my fear of being on a transit transportation system.
When I was young, I went downtown on the bus and sold my advertising. I wore out soles of my shoes walking downtown. But, today, I would fear for my life. Today, I wouldn't feel safe on those trains and buses. I can't deal with strangers who are abusive and get in my face. It wouldn't be good. Your plan says nothing about cleaning up the Tri Met bus stops. Your plan says nothing about the rudeness of the employees at Tri Met when you call there and ask about their bus stops.
Your plan doesn't address how our sidewalks are taken up with tents, trash and peeps who are incoherent in their world. PS ... just to show how you don't even include us in your Commute question... and many others, I'm sure... It should ask ... What part of town do you try to get around in? My needs are to be able to go up to the hill for VA appointments or across the I5 Bridge for Vancouver appointments. I'm sure there's lots of elders like me who feel the exact same way.. Just they may not be savvy enough to fill out your form here... which I must say isn't the most straight forward or easy.
Your form keeps deleting what I've written, but I saved it off into a file. I'm not sure if what I write will stay here long enough to get to you. But, I will have it and it may appear somewhere else I put it... and.. btw, it is ILLEGAL as well as UNKIND for you to inquire as to what a person's disability is, so you should not make that a question in future.North Portland In Motion
Well, if you're walking or riding a bicycle they want your opinion to back up theirs. Otherwise, PBOT acts like you're non existent and what you think doesn't matter. To PBOT, it's obvious, OLD PEOPLE DON'T MATTER. That's the attitude I get... and so, thusly, Old Veterans don't matter either... so, I was looking for a place to express my thoughts... and found a couple. Now, posting this here, this makes three places.
Wondering if I'll make any impact. Time will tell. Hope I live long enough to see it. Whoop! Whoop!! Miss the old days. When Portland was clean and tidy and the street sweepers ran once a month instead of once a year. by Bridget E. Smith.
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