May 4, 2020
TO: Suk Rhee, Director
Office of Community and Civic Life
City of Portland
FROM: Peter Apanel
RE: Grievance Against PBOT and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly
The last time I received an email from you in response to my original grievance against the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the South Tabor Neighborhood Association was on February 20, 2020. Of course, since then the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many aspects of City business, and understandably put my grievance on hold, but it has not disrupted PBOT officials who continue to pursue the very same false and specious actions that generated my original grievance.
In fact, those false and specious actions have increased exponentially, and it's clear that Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is now exploiting the coronavirus pandemic in order to pursue those false and specious actions.
My original grievance documented false and specious claims that Scott Cohen, PBOT's Neighborhood Greenways program coordinator, presented to members of the South Tabor Neighborhood Association's Land Use Committee meeting in October 2019, and in other communications before and after that meeting. And part of my original grievance was directed at the actions of South Tabor Neighborhood Association board members who failed to exercise any due diligence in order to document and expose the false and specious claims made by Cohen.
Specifically, Cohen attempted to falsely justify PBOT's plan to install traffic diverters on SE Woodward, a Neighborhood Greenway, by claiming that traffic diverters are no longer banned.
Previously, a ban on traffic diverters had been included in the City's transportation guidelines, and the ban cited basic traffic engineering principles which show that traffic diverters typically cause unacceptable levels of increased traffic and traffic disruption on adjacent streets.
In fact, City commissioners did vote to remove the wording in the transportation guidelines that banned traffic diverters, as of May 2018. But City commissioners clearly do not have the power to revoke the basic engineering principles -- or revoke the laws of physics, in general -- upon which the ban on traffic diverters was based. So, those basic engineering principles remain valid.
Cohen also attempted to justify PBOT's plan to install traffic diverters on SE Woodward based on PBOT's "Alternate Guideline." That guideline is not based on any traffic engineering principles related to safety. Instead, that guideline is based on a completely arbitrary and specious concept which maintains that any time vehicle traffic counts on a Neighborhood Greenway exceed 100 cars per hour in any one direction -- even for just one hour, on any given day, one day each week -- that creates a "high-stress" environment which discourages inexperienced cyclists from riding their bicycles on that street, and therefore justifies the installation of traffic diverters that disrupt traffic for thousands of drivers, 24 hours each day, 365 days each year.
Here's the math that shows just how specious -- even ludicrous -- the Alternate Guideline is.
At 20 MPH, which is the speed limit on SE Woodward, a car travels approximately 30 feet per second. So, if there are 100 cars per hour traveling in one direction, that works out to one car, on average, every 36 seconds. And that works out to cars being spaced, on average, 1,080 feet apart (30 feet per second times 36 seconds between cars). That's the exact length of three football fields, end to end, including end zones, or roughly four city blocks.
For PBOT to call that a high-stress environment is ludicrous.
Now, fast forward to this past week, on April 28, when Commission Eudaly announced her Slow Streets/Safe Streets Initiative. That plan would include the installation of traffic diverters on all of Portland's 100 miles of Neighborhood Greenways based on the same false justification for traffic diverters that Cohen attempted to use in South Tabor.
Eudaly's plan also recommends other major changes to Neighborhood Greenways which she attempts to justify by linking them to the coronavirus pandemic -- social distancing, in particular. But the justifications offered by Eudaly are just as specious as those in the Alternate Guideline, and she makes the degrading assumption that people in Portland are too emotionally fragile, just like those inexperienced cyclists, to adapt and function in a rational manner on their own.
Obviously, the basic engineering principles that ban traffic diverters haven't changed since October. And what was specious in October is still specious now.
So, moving forward, here is my question for you.
What needs to happen in order for the actions of PBOT and Commissioner Eudaly to be properly scrutinized and investigated for any violations of City and/or State laws and/or administrative rules?
And let me point out one legal issue, in particular.
If there is a licensed, professional engineer at PBOT who signs off on Eudaly's plan without accurately referencing the basic engineering principles concerning traffic diverters, that engineer is subject to disciplinary action by the State of Oregon that could include revoking that engineer's license for gross negligence and willful indifference. [ORS 672.200(2)]
As I stated in my original grievance, over the course of several emails that I began sending to you in January, these problems are documented, serious, systemic and ongoing.
These problems continue to get worse, and need to be addressed immediately.