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TriMet GM boosts e-bikes as leaders weigh in on congestion pricing

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TriMet GM boosts e-bikes as leaders weigh in on congestion pricing

Urgency for brand new transportation funding choices has by no means been better.
(Picture: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“The vary of e-bikes is exploding proper now. I actually suppose it’s a new variable within the dialog.”
— Doug Kelsey, TriMet

Even earlier than the Covid-19 pandemic took a cleaver to municipal budgets and dramatically impacted mobility patterns regionwide, congestion pricing was already a sizzling subject. Now there’s new urgency across the concept of charging folks to make use of roads.

At present Metro, the Oregon Division of Transportation and the Portland Bureau of Transportation are concerned in separate — however associated — discussions about if and the best way to implement tolls.

On Thursday Metro’s Joint Coverage Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) was briefed on the Metro Regional Congestion Pricing Study (to not be confused with PBOT’s Pricing for Equitable Mobility or ODOT’s I-5 and I-205 tolling efforts).

(From Metro’s Regional Congestion Pricing Examine)

Metro Planner Elizabeth Mros O’Hara introduced the research to JPACT members and mentioned, “The logic behind congestion pricing is absolutely easy. When you cost motorists a charge to make use of roadways and use the cash on the issues that you just care about, persons are more likely to change their conduct.”

That change in conduct can have wide-ranging impacts not simply to budgets and mobility, however to well being outcomes. Mros O’Hara informed JPACT members that after Stockholm applied congestion pricing, acute bronchial asthma instances for younger youngsters in adjoining areas dropped by 50%.

Clackamas County Commissioner Paul Savas.

Metro is exploring whether or not or not 4 various kinds of pricing methods can assist the area’s transportation priorities: A automobile miles traveled charge the place drivers pay for each mile they journey; A “cordon pricing” scheme the place drivers would pay to enter a pre-determined space (like downtown Portland); A hall pricing strategy the place drivers would pay a charge to drive on a specific street, bridge, or freeway; or good, old style parking pricing.

Clackamas County Commissioner Paul Savas expressed issues about equity based mostly on his view that individuals he represents don’t have the identical breadth of transportation alternate options as those that life in Portland. “The transportation choices in Portland are unbelievable in comparison with what now we have in Clackamas County,” Savas mentioned. If viable alternate options to driving usually are not in place earlier than tolling begins, Savas added, “It feels extra like extraction of {dollars} than it’s a change of conduct as a result of there aren’t any choices.”

“65 to 75% of our of our inhabitants leaves the county on daily basis and doesn’t have entry to these alternate options,” Savas defined. “All they’ll do is drive a automotive.” If folks haven’t any different choices however to drive, Savas warned that any pricing scheme would stay “extremely unpopular and extremely controversial.” “I simply need to simply put it put that on the market that that this can be a large deal, and it’s going to be extremely, extremely politically charged,” he warned.

TriMet GM Doug Kelsey.

TriMet Normal Supervisor Doug Kelsey echoed Savas’ issues. He shared the instance of Copenhagen and Stockholm the place congestion pricing has already been applied and the place viable alternate options to driving are effectively established. Kelsey mentioned the potential of pricing “is completely immense” however that to achieve success we should spend money on alternate options beforehand.

Kelsey then introduced up — quite unexpectedly — the potential of electrical bikes and biking on the whole. “I actually encourage us to additionally contemplate e-bikes in right here. The vary of e-bikes is absolutely… it’s exploding proper now. I actually suppose it’s a new variable within the dialog.” “However even with out e-bikes,” Kelsey continued, “the Copenhagen’s and the others of the world, they actually factored biking in…not simply transit.”

“The e-bike phenomenon, I believe, is right here to remain. And it’s simply going to be nothing however progress. So I wouldn’t underestimate or encourage us to be as a part of our consideration to factoring the space and energy that e-bikes would possibly have the ability to deliver,” Kelsey mentioned.

“This isn’t ideological. That is existential.”
— Chloe Eudaly, Metropolis of Portland

Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.

Portland Metropolis Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is a giant fan of congestion pricing; however she stays involved about its equity. She additionally thinks e-bikes can play a big function in permitting extra folks to maneuver round with out having to drive — and pay new tolls that include it. “We now have a full e-bike fleet [as part of the newly expanded Biketown bike share system] and we’re deploying that fleet in east Portland, which is tremendously increasing bicycles as a viable transportation choice for commuters throughout town,” she mentioned.

Eudaly reminded JPACT members that each determination they make should remember the fact that 40% of greenhouse gasoline emissions in Oregon come from transportation emissions. “This isn’t ideological,” she mentioned. “That is existential.”

Eudaly mentioned tolling has potential to assist the area obtain each local weather and income objectives; nevertheless it should be carried out rigorously to not unfairly impression individuals who depend on automobiles. “The Metropolis of Portland, regardless of how dense it’s, regardless of our nice transit system, regardless of how walkable and bikeable lots of our neighborhoods are — now we have an extended option to go earlier than we might contemplate implementing congestion pricing on our roadways,” she mentioned. “There’s numerous work to do, folks want alternate options, however that is completely the time to start out contemplating these choices.”

Metro plans to proceed learning choices by means of the tip of 2020 and determine on subsequent steps early 2021.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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