“Community feedback has influenced our thinking and direction around e-bikes.”
— Matt Noble, ODOT
At a press event Tuesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown spoke about her commitment to climate change while standing in front of a new EV charging station in Woodburn. The occasion was to mark a milestone in Oregon’s efforts to build out its portion of the West Coast Electric Highway — a network of charging stations between Canada and Mexico that aims to relieve range anxiety and further bolster the switch to electric transportation.
As loyal readers of this website know, conversations around EV charging are almost exclusively about electric cars. But this event was different. In fact, in video of the event, I couldn’t even see a car in the frame. I could however, make out a different type of vehicle parked next to Governor Brown: a bicycle.
Why? Because all 44 Electric Highway charging stations currently open in Oregon have been outfitted with a 110 volt outlet to provide free charging for electric bike (and other type of EV) users! ODOT has heard our pleas and they’ve responded!
The chargers are installed along I-5, I-84, U.S. 101, and a few other highways. Once the final phase of the Electric Highway is completed in Oregon later this fall, there will be a total of 47 stations available — and all of them will include an outlet for e-bikes. (Find station locations here.)
EV advocacy group Forth provided the bike for Tuesday’s event.
ODOT’s share of this project will be $4 million when all is said and done — just one part of the state’s $100 million commitment to EV charging infrastructure. When we reported on that investment two weeks ago we hinted that ODOT had plans to address e-bike charging needs, but we weren’t aware they included all stations along the Electric Highway.
The agency has come a long way since December 2020 when we first raised a red flag that their transportation electrification plans were too heavily tilted toward cars and seemed to leave out bikes altogether.
Currently, e-bike users like our columnist Shawne Martinez, have to either search for publicly-accessible outlets in businesses and other public spaces during long rides, or buy a special adaptor that can be used at standard car-charging stations.
These upgrades to include a bike outlet are a relatively small but very significant sign of progress that begins to level the playing field for car and bike users.
ODOT spokesperson Matt Noble confirmed with us today it was much more likely to happen because our community spoke up. “Community feedback has influenced our thinking and direction around e-bikes. Whether that’s through reporting like yours or through direct engagement like our recent TEINA study.”
Noble also shared that because e-bikes and micromobility vehicles were already on ODOT’s radar, it made this upgrade to chargers by their private contractor EVCS possible. “When we were negotiating the details of the upgrades,” Noble said. “The idea to add the 110 volt charging for e-bikes was a no-brainer and something we both supported. EVCS took the extra step to provide it for free.”
Thanks for listening ODOT! We hope future EV charging projects continue to include the needs of electric bike (and scooter and skateboard and other types of small, low-impact EV) users!