We know funding is coming for electric vehicles. Will Oregon put it all toward cars — even though there’s a growing awareness that electric cars won’t save us? Or will electric bikes and other smaller EVs get the investment they deserve?
Since the highly-anticipated, $1.2 trillion Biden Infrastructure Package finally passed last month, Oregonians have been wondering how we’ll spend our share. The State of Oregon will be getting an infusion of about $1.2 billion in federal funds over the next five years, and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has already kicked off a process to prioritize investments.
Oregon’s climate action policy puts a big emphasis on an expansion of electric vehicle use and ODOT announced this week they’ll use $52 million to install EV charging infrastructure. This money will be particularly focused on the “Alternative Fuel Coordinators” of Interstates 5, 84 and 82, and U.S. 26, 101, 20 and 97. When it comes to conversations around electrifying the transportation grid, there’s a risk that we pay too much attention to cars and leave e-bikes in the dust.
(Slides from Shawne Martinez PSU class presentation)
BikePortland has previously reported on Oregon’s Transportation Electrification Infrastructure Needs Analysis (TEINA), an assessment of Oregon’s EV charging needs. This report left a gap when it came to electric bicycles, and since e-bike riders say they often fear losing power without a place to plug-in, e-bike charging is a crucial area to focus on.
One advocate of e-bike charging infrastructure is Shawne Martinez, a southwest Portland resident who has logged 7,500 miles on his family cargo bike in less than two years. Martinez is a volunteer with Bike Loud PDX and he recently completed the vaunted Traffic and Transportation Class at Portland State University. Martinez chose the issue of e-bike charging for his final project in order to highlight how the vast potential of e-bikes will be tamped down unless we can alleviate range anxiety and provide reliable public bike charging.
That’s why we were very happy to see a mention of e-bikes in ODOT’s recent announcement. They cited surging e-bike demand and even linked to a New York Times article on the subject.
If you want to make sure ODOT pay attention to e-bikes, scooters, EUCs (electric unicycles), e-boards, and other forms of non-car EVs, you should provide input to the ODOT Climate Office and the Oregon Transportation Commission as they decide how the federal money will be spent. You can email the Climate Office at Climate.Office@odot.state.or.us and submit comments to the OTC here.