With obesity rates and health care costs on the rise, experts are looking at how our transportation choices affect the health of our communities. The good news is that transit not only encourages people to walk or bike as a part of their daily routine, it also helps reduce car crashes and air pollution.
So why is transit so good for our public health?
It encourages daily exercise: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults get at least 22 minutes of moderate physical activity per day to reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, stroke and diabetes. By walking or biking to the bus stop or rail station, it’s easier to meet or exceed this goal.
It supports safer streets: In communities with good pedestrian infrastructure (things like wide sidewalks, safe crossings and bike connections), cars travel at slower speeds and there are fewer crashes. And residents of transit-oriented communities typically drive less, anyway.
It helps make our air cleaner: Transit takes cars off the road, which means less pollution and fewer cases of asthma, lung disease and lung cancer. Here in the Portland area, TriMet service eliminates more than four tons of smog-forming pollutants every day.
It reduces isolation: Particularly for seniors and people with disabilities, transit helps reduce isolation by providing access to grocery stores, medical services, jobs and schools.
“For the last 60-plus years, we’ve literally built our society around the automobile and getting from point A to point B as quickly as we can. Because we choose to drive rather than walk or cycle, the result is an inactive, sedentary lifestyle. Not coincidentally, obesity also became a public health issue during this period.”
— Sheldon H. Jacobson, University of Illinois researcher
I help TriMet communicate about the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project by coordinating the project website and managing project social media (in addition to general writing and copyediting). I'm also a mean cook who likes to improvise recipes—ask me for one the next time you see me on the 8-Jackson Park/NE 15th.
When Transit Police Commander Mike Crebs walks into Vestal Elementary School on 82nd Avenue, smiling and sporting a black uniform and badge, the students tend to see him as a kind of celebrity.
Mike spends his lunch hour on Fridays at the school as part of the Big Brothers program, where he sits and talks with his high-energy “Little” and plays kickball and foursquare. Mike’s been a Big Brother for four years, and is in his second year with his Little Brother, Norman.
Mike has worked with youth since his days on the force in Salt Lake City as a school resource officer, and then taught here as part of the GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program, in which officers take a proactive role in preventing crime. He also sits on the Board of Governors for the Boys and Girls Club.
Mike says this experience has helped him in his job running the Transit Police Division, a partnership of 17 police agencies working together to keep riders safe. Mike oversees 58 officers in four offices in a three-county area. Youth make up 17 percent of all rides on TriMet’s system, and Mike acknowledges that much of the disruptions on the system are in part caused by youth.
“Kids have so much energy. Adults, when they’re on the bus, they just want to read. But a teenager is a little more boisterous.”
“Do we blame the kid?” he asks. “I don’t think so.” But there’s a line he draws between a kid just being a kid and when to intervene. According to Mike, that intervention works best before it’s ever needed, whether it’s by being a Big Brother, a commander or just a member of the community.
For Mike, being a Big Brother is an opportunity to provide “one more asset for a young person—whether that be a parent, coach, teacher or neighbor—that one person who might strike a chord.”
Okay, we knew y’all were smart and savvy, but we had no idea you were such a photogenic bunch!
Last month, we took a camera down to Pioneer Courthouse Square to capture pics of some TriMet fans. Dozens of riders stopped by to say hi (and say “Cheese!”). We met families, visitors, commuters, students and everyone in between, as they got on or off buses and trains downtown.
We had a blast, and we wanted to share some of our favorite mugs. Click on the graphic to start the slideshow.
We’ll be having another photo shoot soon, so stay tuned to find out when and where!
I'm TriMet’s manager of marketing and rider communications. I oversee the agency's web and mobile initiatives and help build useful and usable online tools for riders. I also moonlight as a musician in my spare time.
On September 5, 1986, MAX Blue Line opened with service between Portland and Gresham.
It was among the first light rail lines in the U.S., and it really was the “line that started it all” in the Portland area. MAX has since expanded to 52 miles and serves all three counties in the Portland metro area.
Since the decision to build MAX, the Portland region has gained an estimated 66,000 design and construction-related jobs and $2.6 billion in earnings in Oregon. In addition, more than $10 billion in development has occurred within walking distance of MAX stations.
Many of you have expressed concerns about fare enforcement on the system, particularly on MAX. We’re listening. In addition to expanding the number of staff dedicated to checking fares, we’re shifting our focus from education to enforcement. That means riders caught without a fare now get a citation instead of a warning—even first offenders.