Postcard from Portland

By Jason Leach
Published March 31, 2009

I'm in awe.

I'm walking around Portland, riding free light rail transit and streetcar lines around downtown; and crossing the river into residential neighbourhoods filled with their own commercial strips, all facing the street like Locke South - only larger and better.

I stood on one of the bridges leaving downtown yesterday during rush hour and lost count of the cyclists after a hundred. Probably a couple hundred came by in 20 to 25 minutes.

New LRT lines are being constructed all across the east side and new streetcar lines are almost open downtown and on the eastside.

It's remarkable. Loads of people downtown, and the sidewalks are always wider than the road. There are stoplights every 50 feet with no timed lights. Trees, trees, trees. Constant litter clean-up.

The young people with me can't believe the cleanliness compared to home.

Hamilton has a lo-o-o-o-ong way to go if we're ever going to see this sort of scene at home.

When I return to Hamilton, I'll have to remember to:

  1. Stop walking across the road anywhere I want, knowing that cars will stop, and
  2. Quit stopping for crossing pedestrians when I'm driving.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By jason (registered) | Posted April 01, 2009 at 11:39:04

PS - I've got some nifty photos that I'll attempt to post on RTH when I return home. Did lots of walking and transit riding in Seattle and Portland. It's been a blast. City life is absolutely fun in a proper city. Cheers

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By Wiccan (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2009 at 15:04:32


Do us a favour and don't come back.

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By thisisgood (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2009 at 15:23:09

now c'mon - don't be so mean!

Just becuase you dress all in black and hang out in Gore Park doesn't mean you can push poor Jason around...

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2009 at 15:39:56

Jason >> I'm walking around Portland, riding free light rail transit and streetcar lines around downtown;

That's awesome Jason! Our local government should learn from Portland and make not only transit free, but also our taxes. I would gladly pay higher taxes if they were free.

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By A-Idiot (registered) - website | Posted April 01, 2009 at 15:53:17

"I would gladly pay higher taxes..." -A Smith

C'mon, don't abandon me now, we've almost won!


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By beancounter (registered) | Posted April 02, 2009 at 21:54:55

Thanks for that exciting report, Jason. It's good to know that there are models like this for other cities such as Hamilton to emulate.

And for the naysayers may I point out that the free transit lines (I presume that, like Calgary, only the ones downtown can be travelled at no charge) are not really free, they come at a very high cost. But along with the pedestrian-oriented sidewalks (yes, it seems like there is another kind) and the tree canopies, they are investments into a much more livable, exciting city, one not just for cars, but also for people.

Please consider distributing your comments and pictures to the decision-makers at City Hall and get them thinking some more about 21st century solutions to Hamilton's problems.

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By Tim Jacobs (registered) | Posted April 06, 2009 at 08:59:28

I can't wait to see those photos! Take lots, please.

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