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The Monday Roundup: Fair road prices, Lance settles, sidewalk battles, and much more

Posted by on April 23rd, 2018 at 10:29 am


Welcome to the week.

Here are the best stories we came across in the past seven days…

Sponsored by the Safe Zone Helmet Mirror:

Scan for hazards of all types with the Safe Zone Helmet Mirror,
made by Portland’s Efficient Velo Tools.

Cycling’s other side: It’s a frustrating narrative that bike riding is for rich white people. This piece from the L.A. Times centered around a bike shop in south Los Angeles is a wonderful window into a part of the cycling world that rarely gets talked about.

Beyond traffic deaths: Streetsblog shares a report from World Resources Institute that finds if we want to reduce traffic deaths, we should tie the issue to other issues that have broader public support.

Speaking of which: The Wall Street Journal outlines the difficulty some cities are having in building protected bike lanes because people think the impacts to their driving convenience just aren’t worth it.

Bikeways rule in BC: But look what happened in Vancouver, BC. They built quality, protected bike lanes in the right places and now the opposition has “melted away.”

Must do it to get it: It’s an age-old question: Do the electeds who make decisions about biking and transit actually use those modes themselves? Does it matter? Here’s how it shakes out in Seattle.

Battle over sidewalks: A “pedestrian activist” in Seattle writes in Crosscut that dockless bike share bikes have ruined the walking environment and he wants stronger regulation — including a sidewalk biking ban — in upcoming city plans.

More good news from Canada: An increase in density in Toronto has led to more people taking transit and fewer people driving.

Record it all: A new helmet dubbed CycleVision has cameras in the front and rear to make it easier to create videos of your rides — in case something epic happens.

Slow down, “smart cities”: CityLab takes a much-needed look at the perils to all the “smart city” excitement and says it’s time to regulate tech in our streets.

New Vision Zero resource: Public policy researchers at Rand have released a new “Road to Zero” report that outlines where the U.S. stands in road safety efforts and how to get to zero deaths by 2050.

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Groceries by bike: A UK supermarket chain has launched a delivery service using electric cargo bikes. We think New Seasons should do the same!

Truth about decongestion pricing and “equity”: Elected leaders and candidates would be very wise to read this piece on how free roads (the status quo) are much more unfair than pricing them would be.

Don’t scoff at e-scooters: This is a well-written and calm view of dockless electric scooters that touts their vast mobility potential and the huge cultural and policy challenge they face.

A dedicated voice: Portland-area safe streets advocate Kristi Finney was profiled by Streetsblog for her relentless activism spurred by the death of her son Dustin in 2011.

Lance settles: The disgraced cycling hero agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit with former sponsor the US Postal Service.

It’s a trend: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that roads inside Central Park will be carfree starting in June. It’s a victory for activists who’ve been wanting this to happen for many decades.

Dems and density: Kevin Drum at Mother Jones argues against making cities more dense because it’s 1) too expensive 2) politically risky 3) makes traffic worse 4) and is just too hard to fight for.

More share, less scare: Turns out that the more engaged and aware people have to be at an intersection, the less dangerous and chaotic — and more enjoyable — it becomes. That’s what happened when traffic engineers in Amsterdam turned off signals at a very busy intersection.

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

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99 Comments
  • BikeRound April 23, 2018 at 11:07 am

    I commute to work by bike two days a week, but I think a sidewalk biking ban in downtown areas is perfectly reasonable. In fact, that is how New York City should resolve its disagreement over the use of electric bicycles: they should be legal in the city, but not bike should ever be on the sidewalk in Manhattan.

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    • eawrist April 23, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      2nd Ave with its gaps in the PBL in midtown means you either risk your life in traffic

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      • BikeRound April 23, 2018 at 6:54 pm

        Since there is a chance that you will be involved a fatal collision whenever you are driving a car, do you tell yourself that you “risk your life” every time you go out for a drive?

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    • John Liu
      John Liu April 23, 2018 at 10:59 pm

      Especially when the sidewalk biking is 28 mph e-bikes.

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      • eawrist April 24, 2018 at 4:04 am

        So the advent of the ebike explosion has taken a very odd course in ny. The vast majority of people on them are delivery workers. With their bikes they can make twice as many deliveries. Because they stand out to people, when they flaunt the laws or not, they become salient memories. So when the guy in a Toyota runs a red it’s just daily annoyance. But when an ebike runs a red it is an issue that becomes a memory. There is no evidence of a collision causing an injury or fatality (none that de Blasio could cite when he imposed the ban). Now that the state has new laws re ebikes I think the idea that any type of transport can be safe or dangerous. But ebikes are not inherently so. A person or bike on the sidewalk is not inherently dangerous at 5 mph. I hope our culture can figure this out. Bike share plus zero safe infra equals bikes on the sidewalk ban or not.

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    • GlowBoy April 24, 2018 at 9:09 pm

      … and a sidewalk biking ban is already the law in most larger Oregon downtowns.

      By the way, I like how they implemented the law here in MN: rather than having (or allowing) individual cities pass sidewalk-biking bans haphazardly as in Oregon, they created a state statute with a clearly defined criterion for where sidewalk biking has prohibited: any block face where more than half the addresses front up to the sidewalk without a setback. Obviously a law like that isn’t perfect, but it does create a clear standard and eliminates the tangle of local laws and poorly signed no-bike zones.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty April 23, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Regarding the congestion pricing article, the author argues that driving for free is a subsidy for the rich, and that tolls would make roads more equitable. I think he’s mistaken; if the rich drive more, reduced congestion would benefit them more, and, relatively, cost them less than a low-income driver.

    I do support congestion tolling, but I would not have the gall to say it would increase equity.

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    • El Biciclero April 23, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      I liked the comparison to a matching grant. The more one invests in driving, the more they benefit from free roads. If roads were priced, then maybe the “matching grant” would benefit the less affluent drivers by taking the form of discount congestion pricing. It could also make subsidized transit work better by making it faster, allowing some lower-income drivers to switch to transit for more or all trips. Improved public transit flow would definitely benefit those who can’t afford to drive at all.

      Of the three general categories (“‘affluent’ drivers”, “poorer drivers”, and “those who can’t afford to drive at all”) the current system clearly benefits the first category more than the last; between those two groups, priced roads would increase equity. The tricky part is allowing “fair” use of the road to the middle category: those who need to drive, but can barely afford it now.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty April 23, 2018 at 1:45 pm

        I dislike the comparison. Does the owner of an extended bed semihemi 4×4 raised pickup with ass-whomping bass and deluxe coal-rolling engine mod really get more from free roads than the driver of a used Hyundai? Given that the vast majority of our road funding is from vehicle fees/fuel taxes*, the heaviest road users are directly funding their own “matching grant”. Those who have no vehicle because they cannot afford one may not get much direct benefit from free roads, but they are not paying much for them either.

        *http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/About/Pages/Transportation-Funding.aspx

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        • Dan A April 23, 2018 at 2:44 pm

          “Does the owner of an extended bed semihemi 4×4 raised pickup with ass-whomping bass and deluxe coal-rolling engine mod really get more from free roads than the driver of a used Hyundai?”

          Yes. They get to burn more heavily subsidized gasoline and do about 20 times as much damage to the road as the Hyundai.

          https://streets.mn/2016/07/07/chart-of-the-day-vehicle-weight-vs-road-damage-levels/

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 23, 2018 at 2:47 pm

            I agree gas taxes should be higher, and heavier vehicles should pay more, irrelevant to the topic at hand as it is.

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          • Middle of the Road Guy April 24, 2018 at 10:07 am

            Burning more gasoline does not mean they are getting more from the roads, it’s still just one vehicle. But you are admitting they are also paying more through fuel taxes for using that road.

            The point is, everyone pays something different dependent upon their income bracket, how much fuel they burn, etc.

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            • Dan A April 24, 2018 at 9:57 pm

              “But you are admitting they are also paying more through fuel taxes for using that road.”

              Ha ha ha. You DO know that burning fuel that is subsidized far more than it is taxed is a benefit to the fuel user, not to society, right?

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        • Middle of the Road Guy April 24, 2018 at 10:05 am

          Kitty, the last time I looked at the ODOT budget, about 38% of ODOT funding (last 2 budget cycles) comes from fuel taxes and vehicle fees…a lot of the funding comes from the transport industry.

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          • Jamie April 24, 2018 at 10:18 am

            100% of those fees are passed through in the form of pricing. The consumer pays those fees independent of mode, the transport industry pays nothing.

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            • GlowBoy April 24, 2018 at 9:11 pm

              That’s not how cost incidence works. Ask any economist.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 11:33 am

            The link I provided above says the following:

            ODOT budget: $5.3bn this biennium, 23% federal, 77% state

            The state money is “state fuels tax, taxes on heavy trucks, driver and motor vehicle fees, and bond proceeds and Certificates of Participation”. Bonds will be repaid with a similar funding mix (presumably). That is almost entirely vehicle derived. “ODOT also receives funding for specific purposes from cigarette tax revenues, lottery funds, and a variety of transportation-related permits and fees,” which means there are some projects that are funded with non-transportation money, but only where specifically dedicated for a particular purpose.

            Further, “The federal government provides revenues from federal fuels taxes and heavy truck taxes to states and local governments.” Again, mostly vehicle derived.

            As a first approximation, ODOT’s entire budget is derived from the transportation sector, i.e. from road users.

            http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/About/Pages/Transportation-Funding.aspx

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    • Jon April 23, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      The author suggests using a portion of the revenue generated by tolls to help support the low income people that drive. That redistribution of funds would make tolls a subsidy for low income drivers and hopefully mass transit. The author has many great points and ultimately cost is one of the only things that cause people to reduce use of a scarce good. The faster we make automobile drivers pay more of the true cost of driving (pollution, health costs of sedentary lifestyles, real estate costs related to roads, etc.) the better off we will be as a country.

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      • Kyle Banerjee April 23, 2018 at 3:21 pm

        If we’re trying to charge for sedentary lifestyles and real estate costs, seems like mass transit users would also get dinged (though not as much as single occupant vehicle drivers).

        Sitting on public transit is not meaningfully more active than sitting in a car — especially if you have to sit significantly longer in transit than in the car. Housing located where people can go where they need conveniently/efficiently via transit are certainly worth more.

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        • Maria April 23, 2018 at 5:04 pm

          The Oregon bicycle excise tax is penalizing active non-car lifestyle choices, so it begs the question, are we trying to charge for sedentary lifestyles? It doesn’t seem so.

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        • Chris I April 24, 2018 at 3:22 pm

          You conveniently ignore the fact that transit riders typically walk significantly further than your average driver. Not many people have a bus stop right in front of their house.

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          • Kyle Banerjee April 24, 2018 at 4:35 pm

            Sure, but if someone is sitting on transit an extra hour per day, that additional bit of walking to the stop can easily be erased by whatever the driver does with that extra time unless it’s watching TV or sitting in front of a computer. In any case, walking a short distance to get a ride is hardly a meaningful source of exercise.

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            • BradWagon April 25, 2018 at 12:35 pm

              /carries my two year old son, his diaper bag, and my own backpack for a mile.

              I beg to differ.

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        • GlowBoy April 24, 2018 at 9:12 pm

          Absolutely wrong. Mass transit users walk far more, on average, than car users.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty April 23, 2018 at 11:39 am

    The Mother Jones article does not argue that density makes traffic worse, but rather that people oppose it because they think it will. That’s an important distinction.

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    • ktaylor April 23, 2018 at 12:36 pm

      It’s a flabby rebuttal, which is frustrating, because he has a point. Even NYC’s very solid transit system is having trouble keeping up with population growth. Beyond traffic, ALL services and amenities get swamped when too many people pile into an area too fast, and livability suffers as a result. The internet (especially smartphones) changed migration rates and patterns. Moving to a new place used to be a much bigger, scarier decision when there weren’t exact instructions online and a zillion preening vlogs from people who found the PERFECT place – more perfect than yours.

      There’s a problem with accelerated growth — the kind that’s too rapid for any city to assimilate. There’s also a problem with boutique growth — everyone moving to a given city because they feel they fit the brand. Both of these things either pancake or obliterate a city’s character, or turn it into a caricature of itself. Portland is a perfect example.

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      • turnips April 23, 2018 at 1:46 pm

        well, there’s density and there’s density. the article seemed to mostly concern skyscrapers, about which even many density boosters are fairly ambivalent. in the space between single family homes on large lots and low- to mid-rise multi-family and mixed-use buildings, on the other hand, the advantages of increasing density are harder to argue against. thoughtful incremental development seems to be the name of the game there.

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        • ktaylor April 23, 2018 at 2:30 pm

          Agreed, turnips – but thoughtful, incremental development is not what’s been happening in most cities recently, and even infill development can be blighty or overcrowd the amenities in a given area if not, as you say, approached thoughtfully and incrementally. Infill development doesn’t have to wipe out a neighborhood’s trees and greenspaces, but it often does. I’m not totally against development, but it needs to be balanced with livability. It’s not ridiculous to consider what the people already living in a place want.

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          • B. Carfree April 23, 2018 at 6:29 pm

            The single biggest part of livability (it seems to me) is traffic speed/volume. When a place is packed with people, we call it a party. When it’s packed with cars, it’s a nightmare. If we keep building low density in our culture of inadequate transit and poor physical health (little walking or cycling), traffic will remain a factor that precludes livability.

            Something has to come first to break out of our spiral; I’m all in favor of dramatically increasing density to break free. A street with a hundred people has no say. A street with a thousand residents can force diverters or even closure.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 23, 2018 at 8:40 pm

              Noise and greenspace are important too, as is an urban form that encourages people to know one another and form community. A party is great, unless you are trying to sleep downstairs, or want to smell the roses that are being trampled by drunk revelers.

              If you long for highly dense apartment living, you have plenty of options. You don’t need to knock down the house next to mine to so you can build there.

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              • GlowBoy April 24, 2018 at 9:16 pm

                Yes, you have plenty of options … as long as you’re willing to pay $1200-1500 for a studio. That’s the free-market way of rationing the artificially scarce resource known as apartments.

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      • John Lascurettes April 23, 2018 at 1:49 pm

        NYC’s subway failure is not due to congestion but lack of maintenance funding over many years. Now there’s no funds to fix what is breaking when it should have been done all along.

        https://ny.curbed.com/2018/4/6/17205794/nyc-subway-cuomo-mta-de-blasio-funding

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/20/nyregion/subways-new-york-lhota-mta.html :

        The Times investigation showed how even as delays have soared, financing for basic maintenance was slashed. And though the city is experiencing robust financial growth, the transit system has been steadily starved of the money it needs to operate the trains reliably on a day-to-day basis.

        Today, the subway system has the worst on-time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world.

        The problems are systemic, stretching back decades, with both Republican and Democratic elected officials — including Governors George E. Pataki and Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayors Rudolph W. Giuliani to Bill de Blasio — sharing the blame, that there are no easy fixes.

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        • ktaylor April 23, 2018 at 2:17 pm

          Well, that will teach me to cite an example I read about over a year ago. But I’d argue that problems spawned by lack of maintenance are exacerbated by rapid population growth.

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        • pruss2ny April 23, 2018 at 9:54 pm

          “…NYC’s subway failure is not due to congestion but lack of maintenance funding over many years.”
          fun fact…its not that they weren’t necessarily spending any money on maintenance, its just that most major cities got so enamored w/ pension promises to public works employees that now cities like NYC spend so much on pensions that they have little left in the till for maintenance…still mkt value of pension underfunding in nyc is >140bn….meaning the 6 isn’t getting any more reliable.

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      • rachel b April 23, 2018 at 3:37 pm

        “There’s a problem with accelerated growth — the kind that’s too rapid for any city to assimilate. There’s also a problem with boutique growth — everyone moving to a given city because they feel they fit the brand. Both of these things either pancake or obliterate a city’s character, or turn it into a caricature of itself.”

        I vote this comment of the week. Well said, ktaylor.

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        • 9watts April 23, 2018 at 5:45 pm

          I second that motion.

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    • Douglas K April 23, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      From the Mother Jones article:

      “Unless you have a real solution to increased traffic—and I’ll bet you don’t—you simply don’t have a solution for the most common complaint about dense development.”

      Dense development IS the solution to traffic, as long as you put the housing where it’s needed — which is, close to where the future residents work. Also, rent off-street parking spaces separately (no guaranteed parking with your apartment), make sure there’s car share services close by, site the dense housing on major transit hubs, have good bike infrastructure throughout the area, and put groceries and drug stores and restaurants and so forth in easy walking distance. Shoot for walk score of 100.

      Traffic comes largely from people who don’t have time-and-cost-competitive options for their trips.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 11:43 am

        The article talked about the perception of what the problem is. Let’s look at Richmond. We’ve added a lot of density along Division Street. Residents have great access to transit, very convenient to get downtown and CEID, and have many good local shopping and dining opportunities. The area is also well served by car “sharing” and bike “sharing” services. Walk score may not be 100 but it’s pretty darned high.

        Do you think residents would say the traffic/parking issues improved or became worse as a result of the increased density?

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        • Douglas K April 25, 2018 at 10:28 pm

          Was “density” the problem, or ultra-popular businesses like Salt & Straw drawing in vast numbers of people from elsewhere?

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 26, 2018 at 3:56 am

            Probably both. However, I would argue it doesn’t matter, since we’re talking about people’s perception of the problem. Do people lament the opening of yet another popular restaurant, or do they focus on the construction of yet another 30 unit building with no parking?

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  • Kyle Banerjee April 23, 2018 at 11:47 am

    “Turns out that the more engaged and aware people have to be at an intersection, the less dangerous and chaotic — and more enjoyable — it becomes.” (BTW, link was bad but was able to find multiple articles)

    My experience in other countries is this is absolutely true. To work, it requires everyone’s engagement and all interactions are continuously negotiated — this clearly was essential in the success of the Amsterdam experiment. If too many individuals feel they are more important or deserve priority, it falls apart quickly.

    This approach is the opposite of dedicated signals, space, and a presumption that cyclists and peds should be able to do what they like.

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    • 9watts April 23, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      Hans Monderman.

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    • John Liu April 24, 2018 at 1:07 pm

      There are big differences between Portland and the European cities where these uncontrolled intersections are successful. Driver and cyclist training, consequences for dangerous driving and accidents, prevailing speeds, degree of congestion are all very different.

      If we were to try removing signals from a heavily used intersection in Portland, which intersection would we choose as a test case?

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    • GlowBoy April 24, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      It also falls apart if a substantial number of users feel excluded from or marginalized by the process.

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  • mran1984 April 23, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    I prefer a ban, with enforcement included, on sidewalk camping.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy April 23, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      Opening up the sidewalks would certainly induce demand!

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    • Dave April 23, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      I could support that–as long as it was accompanied by socialized mental health care and drug treatment, and strong regulation of the renting and selling prices of property.

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  • Todd Boulanger April 23, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    It is interesting that the NYT article on the “car ban” for Central Park forgot to mention that the park started out car free…just from its very inception before mass motorization…so from the 1870s to 1890s it was car free already in the modern use of the word. (There were other terrorizing vehicles and operators back then …like the bicycle scorchers …)

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    • q April 23, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      Yes, and it’s something people forget about streets and cities in general. Portland had a car-free downtown for decades. So did every other city that predates around 1900. And pre-car photos show vibrant downtowns.

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      • Kyle Banerjee April 24, 2018 at 6:18 am

        It must have been heaven on earth. The “exhaust” from horses and livestock were fully biodegradable as was human generated sewage and both were handled responsibly in consideration for future generations. The air must have been pure as people relied primarily with renewable fuels like “clean burning” wood for energy.

        Sure, the native inhabitants had only recently been driven off the land and a natural area had been wrecked, and the city was a filthy area overrun by disease. But that city planners had the foresight to prevent the town from being overrun with vehicles which which only the richest people could afford, served mostly as playthings, and didn’t work demonstrates we should copy their example.

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        • q April 24, 2018 at 10:56 am

          Yes, of course life 150 years ago had all kinds of shortcomings. I was just commenting that many people forget that even most American cities were auto-free, and old photos show vibrant downtowns. So the idea of reducing cars in cities may be shocking to recent generations, but many people today had grandparents who lived in pre-car cities. It’s not that long ago.

          In Portland, as one example, those old photos show that almost every surface parking lot downtown used to have a building that contributed to the urban character–ground floor retail or business, upper floor commercial or residential use. Recently, those lots are finally being developed again, but Portland’s core in the 70s and 80s was plagued with surface parking lots.

          I’m not arguing horses are better than cars, etc.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 11:19 am

            One big difference between then and now is that now, most people arrive downtown with their cars, whereas then, they walked or took the street car, or simply lived there. We can’t go back to the days when everyone lived within walking distance of downtown (far too many people), and we are not making much progress bringing everyone downtown with transit, so we are left with the problem of dealing with thousands of cars that arrive in downtown each morning.

            It may be that at some point in the future we could get rid of our auto infrastructure downtown, but we have many important hurdles that need to be crossed first, such as making transit work for many, many more people, and finding places near, but not in, downtown to store all those vehicles during the day.

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            • q April 24, 2018 at 11:30 am

              Yes, certainly. There are also other components in the mix–adding housing downtown and close-in, making sure there are parks, grocery stores, etc. so it’s practical to live in the core…I dont’ see vehicle infrastructure going away much at all.

              My main thought is that the recent past had downtown streets without cars, and they had a pedestrian-centered character that can be an inspiration for focused projects today. The comment I responded to was about cars being removed from Central Park, and I’m sure that that campaign used photos from the past showing Central Park pre-car to inspire people to get them out of there again.

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            • BradWagon April 25, 2018 at 12:41 pm

              Take away the ability to drive or park downtown and I bet there would be a significant change in the support for and progress of increased transit.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 25, 2018 at 1:45 pm

                There would probably also be a significant increase in support for changing the political leaders who put that policy in place.

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  • turnips April 23, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t know that those two are opposites, but maybe they are. seems to me that separated travel space and shared intersections might be compatible. that certainly appears to be the case described in the article.

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  • Chrystal April 23, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    I love the idea of New Seasons delivering groceries by cargo bike!

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    • 9watts April 23, 2018 at 5:48 pm

      But then they’d have to admit they shouldn’t have built all that structured car parking. ;-(

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      • John Liu
        John Liu April 24, 2018 at 5:49 am

        And you’d have to pay even more for your groceries.

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  • idlebytes April 23, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Hello, Kitty
    Those who have no vehicle because they cannot afford one may not get much direct benefit from free roads, but they are not paying much for them either.Recommended 0

    Only 38% of the ODOT budget in the last 6 years came from direct user fees. The other 62% is paid regardless how much one drives. I’d say that’s a lot for the infrastructure just to get their food, materials and to use a much less space through other modes of travel then single occupancy vehicles.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty April 23, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      Are you saying that the 62% chunk is paid for even by people with no cars, or that it is fixed fees, such as car registration that are paid regardless of distance driven?

      A congestion fee is not a miles-driven fee; those with the most flexible schedules will, by design, pay the least. Does a lawyer or fast-food employee have the more flexible schedule?

      As I said before, I support congestion tolling. I just don’t buy the claim it somehow makes things more equitable.

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      • idlebytes April 23, 2018 at 2:55 pm

        I’m not disagreeing about the equitable comment. Just sharing the math I did back during the transportation budget discussion. 38% is my math on the 6 years of ODOT budget from 2012 through 2017. Which includes licensing, registration and the gas tax only, if I’m remembering correctly, I don’t have my numbers in front of me at the moment.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 23, 2018 at 3:04 pm

          It sounds like you are interested in more user fees, such as a mileage tax, higher gas taxes, etc. I would also support such proposals.

          When autonomous vehicles arrive, such schemes will be much simpler to implement, and will likely be more politically palatable.

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        • Stephen Keller April 23, 2018 at 4:05 pm

          The ODOT budget department has this document that shows (on page 1) their 2017-2019 revenue sources:

          http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/About/Budget/ODOT%202017-2019%20Revenue%20Sources%20and%20Uses.pdf

          The chart is confusing, but from my read of the explanation on page 2, the percentage of dollars not coming from directly from transportation-related taxes and fees is:

          9.9% – this is their $486M beginning balance (presumably this came from a mix of sources from previous years, so some of this is transportation taxes and such).

          36.3% – $1219M federal funds, $272M transfers to ODOT from other agencies, $52M general fund dollars, $121M lottery proceeds, $72M bond/COP sales, $46M all other revenue.

          stph

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          • idlebytes April 23, 2018 at 4:38 pm

            I don’t really think your numbers disagree with mine by much the only things I would include would be Weight and Mile Taxes and Transportation License and Fees since these are paid for by businesses and then by the general public in the cost of a businesses goods and services regardless if a person drives.

            This is my breakdown for the 2011-2017 budgets
            SOURCE: Total / percent
            Motor Fuels Taxes: $3,068,761,619 / 22.49%
            Federal Funds: $2,940,037,190 / 21.55%
            Weight-Mile Taxes: $1,669,597,618 / 12.24%
            Driver and Vehicle Licenses: $1,986,799,872 / 14.56%
            Transportation License & Fees: $291,267,254 / 2.13%
            Transfers To ODOT: $193,960,914 / 1.42%
            General Fund: $42,508,069 / 0.31%
            Lottery Funds: $271,591,815 / 1.99%
            Bond COP and Refunds Proceeds: $2,768,176,722 / 20.29%
            Sales and Charges for Services: $162,467,286 / 1.19%
            All Other Revenue: $249,499,581 / 1.83%
            AVAILABLE REVENUE: $13,644,667,940

            Driver Sources (Motor Fuels Taxes & Driver and Vehicle License): $5,055,561,491 / 37.05%

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            • 9watts April 23, 2018 at 5:52 pm

              I don’t trust ODOT’s numbers. Back when the BTA put together that info graphic on this very topic, ODOT said BOO! and the BTA crawled away with its tail between its legs. The crux, which I never thought was valid, hinged if I remember correctly on ODOT’s contention that bonds were user fees.

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              • Middle of the Road Guy April 24, 2018 at 10:11 am

                I remember that BTA document. It came across as deceptive to me – I can’t recall the exact detail at this point, but I do recall they made some incorrect assumptions and misrepresentations. I lost much respect for them after I read that publication.

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              • 9watts April 24, 2018 at 10:48 am

                Yes. It was not done well, but the caving to ODOT without a fight was in my view even worse.

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            • David Hampsten April 23, 2018 at 8:45 pm

              The bonds are paid for using future ODOT gas tax revenues; most (but not all) Federal revenue is also various gas taxes, including both federal and part of the excess surplus from other states such as NC. Your 37% is actually closer to 65-70%.

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              • 9watts April 23, 2018 at 8:48 pm

                “The bonds are paid for using future ODOT gas tax revenues”

                Hm. Interesting. Thanks for that tidbit. I’m going to have to cogitate a bit.

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              • idlebytes April 24, 2018 at 6:47 am

                The bonds are paid for by future money which unless the gas taxes increases significantly will still be only 37% from drivers. Federal money is most definitely not from gas tax as the federal revenue from the gas tax makes up about 1 percent of the total federal revenue. In 2015 37.4 billion gas tax revenue out of 3.2 trillion total or 1.15%

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              • idlebytes April 24, 2018 at 6:58 am

                Also I would point out that over 50% of the ODOT spending went directly to the highway division (which doesn’t include the DMV), the actual costs of driving as transportation are not just reflected in ODOT spending but also mitigating the pollution, emergency services and policing, and that a portion of the gas taxes are shared by everyone for the same reason everyone shares the weight taxes.

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              • 9watts April 24, 2018 at 12:21 pm

                And where does the money to pay the interest come from, and what benefit does the public get from diverting those funds to interest payments?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 26, 2018 at 11:05 am

                It is clear that there are many externalities involved with driving (and with most activities we do). As a general rule, I support integrating these into the cost of an activity. I would not make an exception for driving.

                I have always supported, and continue to support, a much higher tax to pay for the CO2 and other pollution that comes from burning fuel, both for automotive and non-automotive purposes.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 1:46 pm

              Why do you differentiate what a business pays to use the road from what an individual does? I guess I’m not understanding what your 38% represents (or why you exclude federal funds, which contain a big chunk of gas tax in them).

              What does your 38%/62% breakdown tell us?

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              • idlebytes April 24, 2018 at 2:14 pm

                I differentiate what a business pays because we’re talking about choice of transportation mode and how much you pay to ODOT regardless of the amount you drive. The 38% represents the direct fees people who drive for transportation pay or close enough. The business costs are passed on in the price of the goods and services that business sells to all of us regardless of how much driving we do for transportation.

                I excluded federal funds from it because the gas revenue is such a small percentage of federal revenue that it seemed unlikely it pays for all the federal funding for all the states. Looking into that portion more using 2015 as a reference it would appear 63% of the highway trust fund spending is paid for by federal gas taxes so using my numbers this would get the portion contributed by direct users as transportation to 50.7% with two caveats. One we would need to subtract whatever businesses are paying in gas tax/licensing and registration but I can’t find any information to calculate that. Two the ODOT budget just says federal funding it doesn’t say federal funding from the Highway Trust Fund or indicate how much if any is paid for using federal gas tax revenue I’m just making that assumption.

                So to sum up regardless of how much driving you do you’ll contribute to half of ODOTs budget. If I remember correctly 80% of that budget goes in some way to driver resources and projects. And then like I mentioned before there’s all the other hidden costs that aren’t reflected in ODOTs budget like emergency services, police, pollution mitigation and lawsuits.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 2:25 pm

                I fully agree that the cost of transporting goods is ultimately borne by the purchaser of those goods, regardless of the mode. In that vein, consumers subsidize all modes of transport that carry goods. Likewise, taxpayers end up paying all corporate income tax through higher costs of goods and services. So even if I earn nothing, I still pay income tax?

                What is the policy implication?

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  • X April 23, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Area wide congestion fees would go really well with discounts for commuters participating in some kind of organized ride-sharing program. In 2018 how hard would it be to make, yes, An App For That? Riders would be vetted before they got in the car, and drivers could be required to take a course / pass a test. This could be promoted through neighborhood associations, through large workplaces, through schools at all levels.

    We are leaving a lot on the table with so many seats in so many cars running around empty. There’s huge potential for ride matching. Before we spend a billion on freeways could we at least try this?

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  • Anti-Bike Rant April 23, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    Eugene’s supposedly “alternative” newspaper, Eugene Weekly, just published an anti-bike lane, anti-cycletrack, anti-bike path rant for Eath Day. The vehicular cycling nonsense wasn’t even labeled as opinion. I guess they’ll do the flat Earthers and global warming deniers next.
    https://www.eugeneweekly.com/2018/04/19/the-state-of-cycling/

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    • Chris I April 24, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      Those alt-weekly newspapers will hire just about anyone.

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  • True Congestion Pricing April 24, 2018 at 12:05 am

    Congestion pricing has an appeal. Drivers pay more of their societal cost. But even at $10 a trip, it’s nowhere near the true cost. Imagine if a private company had to buy up all the land for an urban freeway, build it and maintain it. Oh, and then pay compensation and mitigation for the pollution and noise pollution. And pay the medical bills of all those impacted by pollution or injured in car crashes. And pay for all the police on the road, and emergency services. And pay for all the over passes. And bridges, and stormwater impacts. And hire mercenaries and build aircraft carriers to maintain the supply of dictator oil. And buy all the land where it’s drilled and all the land across where its transported. And pay to mitigate global warming, etc., etc., etc. What would the “fair” toll be then? If it was any less than the true total cost, it would be a subsidy for the rich guy who gets to speed around on everybody else’s money.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy April 24, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Roads are a public good, but also suffer from the Tragedy of the Commons.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 11:24 am

        They don’t. The tragedy of the commons describes a problem where people try to grab as much of a public resource for themselves because it’s underpriced, so use far too much. If the roads suffered from that problem, we’d all be trying to get multiple cars out on the road, and driving every free minute, trying to capture as much road space for ourselves as possible.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy April 24, 2018 at 1:09 pm

          I disagree. It’s also about effectively using as much of a resource as possible without concern for the impacts of others. If you look at the tragedy happening in a temporal manner, I think it is appropriate. More people trying to use a limited resource to the detriment of others (slower commutes). Anyway, I (as always) appreciate your viewpoint.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 1:33 pm

            Driving at rush hour isn’t free — it comes with a fairly high price in time and frustration. Congestion pricing just attempts to translate that into dollars and cents.

            Who would want to drive during rush hour if they didn’t have to?

            Many of you have likely seen this, but in case you haven’t here’s a link. To be effective, tolls need to climb pretty high. There will be backlash. The saving grace will be if its WA voters complaining, and OR officials controlling the tolls.

            https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/12/07/states-governments-increasingly-turn-tolls-manage-highway-traffic-jams/930900001/

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            • 9watts April 24, 2018 at 2:52 pm

              “Who would want to drive during rush hour if they didn’t have to?”

              People who have never taken the buss, or thought to consult the schedule

              People who have invested tens of thousands of dollars in their car, which won’t amortize very well sitting in the driveway while they bike or take public transportation

              People who aren’t aware that some of their peers commute by bike

              People who have received further incentive to drive through parking vouchers

              And the list goes on.

              Want/don’t want and have to/don’t have to doesn’t begin to capture the complex logics by which people end up contributing to rush hour congestion.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 2:54 pm

                Those same people would be much happier driving at times that the roads were not crowded, and would do so if they could.

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              • 9watts April 24, 2018 at 3:46 pm

                And I’d prefer to keep smoking – and never get lung cancer.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 11:15 pm

                Most people do.

                >>> Surprisingly, fewer than 10 percent of lifelong smokers will get lung cancer. Fewer yet will contract the long list of other cancers, such as throat or mouth cancers. In the game of risk, you’re more likely to have a condom break than to get cancer from smoking. <<<

                https://www.livescience.com/3093-smoking-myths-examined.html

                I will say I'd never before heard that condom failure was related to smoking.

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        • GlowBoy April 24, 2018 at 9:44 pm

          The Tragedy of the Commons isn’t just about people grabbing as much of a scarce public resource as possible for themselves, to the detriment of all. It’s about people grabbing as much as they want for themselves, to the detriment of all: i.e., anytime an underpriced public resource is overused. I’d say rush hour traffic qualifies.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 11:27 pm

            Right… except people don’t drive at rush hour because they want to.

            But whatever… the analogy isn’t important. The roads are overcrowded, and a properly implemented tolling scheme will fix it, in the sense that it will transform a cost paid in hassle and aggravation for one paid in money. That transformation, like most, will benefit some at the cost of others.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu April 24, 2018 at 5:44 am

    Pedestrians, bicycles, e-scooters, and 28 mph e-bikes all sharing sidewalks already clogged with dockless sharebikes?

    I think Seattle may see a backlash.

    The safety aspect shouldn’t be blithely ignored in all this rush to boosterism for e-everything. Fast e-bikes in crowded cycling environments create dangers.

    As they are learning in Holland. “On the bike path you used to be [with] just like-minded people, people at the same pace. But now we see e-bikes, ordinary bikes, superfast electric bikes and bicycles. In short, it has become more dangerous.”. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/22/older-dutch-cyclists-warned-surge-electric-bike-deaths-police-netherlands

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  • Kagi April 24, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Love you, you’re the best, but please never use the phrase “centered around” ever again. Kthxbai.

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  • Scott Kocher April 24, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Totally off topic: where is the BP banner photo from? Is that a counterflow left turn (only?) bike lane?

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  • GlowBoy April 24, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    Hello, Kitty
    I fully agree that the cost of transporting goods is ultimately borne by the purchaser of those goods, regardless of the mode. In that vein, consumers subsidize all modes of transport that carry goods. Likewise, taxpayers end up paying all corporate income tax through higher costs of goods and services. So even if I earn nothing, I still pay income tax?What is the policy implication?Recommended 0

    To suggest taxes are passed 100% on to consumers is to make economics an even more dismal science than it is reputed to be.

    It’s also false. Taxes (or any other change in cost) drives a price wedge between the consumer and the producer. The consumer pays some of it, and the producer pays some of it. The exact distribution of the tax impact depends on the relative elasticities of supply and demand: how much more/less is the producer/consumer willing to sell/buy in response to price they get/pay? Generally, whichever party is less flexible ends up paying the lion’s share of the tax.

    In a multilevel supply chain (or an economy), a tax imposed at one point has its greatest impact on the supplier and consumer involved in that transaction, with smaller effects rippling up and down the chain, each involved entity paying a slice. The consumer in the taxed transaction has less to spend on other things and/or raises their prices slightly to cover part of the margin they’ve lost. But the supplier to the taxed transaction, facing reduced margin, is also going to be tighter on their purchasing, affecting those who supply them.

    So it is NOT correct to state that companies’ consumers pay 100% of corporate income taxes through higher costs of goods and services. Yes, some of that tax is paid by consumers in the form of more expensive products. But some of it is paid by the supplier in the form of lower profits. Oh, and by the way this is why oil companies fight gas taxes tooth and nail: you think they’d spend so much effort fighting energy taxes if they were 100% passed along to the consumer and it didn’t impact their bottom line? They know demand elasticity for the product is high in the long term, which means they’re the ones who’ll take it in the shorts.

    Google “Tax Incidence” for more info.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty April 24, 2018 at 11:30 pm

      That’s a good analysis.

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