Monday Roundup: MLK’s dream, deadly drivers, social housing, and more

Welcome to the week.

Here are the most notable stories our community came across in the past seven days…

This week’s must-read: Just about everything you need to know about the current state of dysfunction in America’s traffic culture is included in this stellar article. Now, if only everyone who read it would change their behavior and/or tell others they should — we might actually make the situation a bit better! (NY Times)

MLK’s transportation dream: “His advocacy extended to various forms of transportation from buses to trains and his speeches and interviews helped to raise awareness of how transportation equity was a substantial part of the civil rights movement.” (Forbes)

Safety crumbs: In a bid to prevent doorings, automaker Ford is set to release a feature on its Mustangs that will warn drivers via audio and visual cues when someone is approaching from behind. (Momentum)

SF’s bike lane battle: I feel for San Francisco’s bike advocates, who’ve been forced to be both defenders and detractors of an innovative bike lane design on a very high-profile street. (SF Chronicle)

Tolling costs: The latest blow to ODOT’s efforts to start a tolling program to pay for expensive freeway expansion megaprojects is that the administrative cost to implement them is much higher than some expected. (Clark County Today)

Banning cars FTW: In Paris, more and more people are discovering that, “Getting people out of their cars and traveling by foot or bicycle has drastically changed daily life for the better.” (The Cooldown)

Promise of AI: It’s only a matter of time before cities begin to integrate AI-powered tools into transportation planning and engineering and California looks like they’re ready to lead the charge. (CBS News)

Affordable living: How is it that Vienna, the world’s “most livable city”, has so many truly affordable housing units smack-dab in its urban core? Because the city owns the buildings and the land. (The Guardian)


Thanks to everyone who sent in links this week. The Monday Roundup is a community effort, so please feel free to send us any great stories you come across.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago

Wow!! I thought that the tolling would lose a lot, but not 86%. That number is incredible. One can hope that this somehow strengthens Gov. Kotek’s resolve to continue to freeze tolling until something more workable that actually raises funds (such as increasing the gas tax) can launch. The frightening part is if Washington is any guide the tolling company will have a minimum income written into the contract (“ During the pandemic lockdowns imposed by Gov. Jay Inslee, tolling revenues fell off a cliff. The Washington State Legislature had to bail out the tolling facilities with general fund money. ”) which means that if part of the goal of tolling is to reduce vehicle trips and if that’s actually successful then the state (taxpayers) will have to pay the company instead of using the money for something worthwhile. What a mess!

BB
BB
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Somehow NY, NJ, California and other states can toll roads and make it work.
NY collection costs are 15%.
Florida of all places has the most tolls roads in the country.
Somehow a Red conservative state can make it work and not bitch and moan about it, but Oregon and Washington just can’t manage…

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

That Oregon drivers outside of Portland so badly want the bridge upgrade but are simply unwilling to pay for it, is why roadway officials out here on the East Coast keep assuring me that Oregon will ultimately 100% fail to actually build that bridge – state DOT officials are already lining up to collect the unused Oregon portion of the federal funds.

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

You do realize that tolling bridges between Oregon and Washington is not new. The Lewis and Clark Bridge (Rainer Or – Longview WA.) had tolls from 1930 to 1965 and the Astoria-Megler Bridge had tolls from 1966 to 1993. So who opposes the tolls more, people living in Clark County (Washington) or those who live in the Portland Metro area.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Calhoon

Yes, I do. I once worked for PBOT, mapping all kinds of stuff, and we had the original plans for the Interstate Bridges, complete with toll booths.

Your greatest opposition to tolls is neither Portland nor Clark County, it’s the folks who live further in from the border, in Salem, Wilsonville, Linn, Eugene, Centralia, Longview, and so on, the same folks who so badly want the bridges replaced (or rather their elected representatives who believe their constituents want such things – which of course isn’t the same thing.)

Michael
Michael
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

The tolling regimes elsewhere are much more widespread and long lasting, so they benefit from economies of scale and not having to pay a bunch of one-time startup costs.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

Texas is full of highway tolls. Folks hate congestion/ missed trips more than they hate paying to drive. Sadly, the active minority (and the DOTs messaging post Ike / Interstate System) has held back modern tolling and investment in our transportation system. Our grand parents and great grand parents understood tolling.

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

I’m pro tolling as a demand management strategy. If people continue to transition to electric vehicles, gas taxes will become less effective. I don’t like the idea of using tolls or gas taxes to add freeway lanes. But I think the implementation of widespread tolls is likely to lead to a reduction in sov vmt, which would be a positive. Even if the collection of tolls is inefficient add wasteful, the outcome would be good.

Now the idea of guaranteeing income to for profit toll collectors is as repugnant as the idea of Chicago selling their parking meters to a for profit company and guaranteeing their revenue. But just because Washington or Chicago implemented systems in ways that were a bad deals for residents and tax payers doesn’t mean that the ideas of pricing road use or vehicle storage are bad on their face.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

But I think the implementation of widespread tolls is likely to lead to a reduction in sov vmt, which would be a positive.

I would support that, given a couple of caveats: No diversion of highway traffic to local streets; higher efficiency at converting collected revenue into something other than additional bureaucracy; and use of the tolling money for something more positive than additional highway lanes.

As it is, tolling has morphed into a means of building more highways, it is likely to divert large numbers of vehicles onto surface streets, and > 80% of the money being used for collection is disgusting.

I wrote several letters supporting tolling in the early days, but it has become something very different than what I can support. I am now strongly opposed. I think most supporters are either highway builders or people who want to punish drivers, a very odd alliance.

I am neither.

BB
BB
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You don’t support tolling if they want a new I-5 bridge?
Why should the people who are going to be using it daily Not pay for it?
A new bridge will be needed at some point, tolling is a completely fair way to pay for it.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

You don’t support tolling if they want a new I-5 bridge?

I’d be happy with a new bridge. It’s the new highway infrastructure all around it that I don’t want (and is why the project is so expensive).

Why should the people who are going to be using it daily Not pay for it?

They should if we build it. Which we shouldn’t (unless it’s just a bridge). That would suggest tolling on the bridge itself (which happily permits no local diversion), but no one seems to be talking about that anymore.

A plan I would support: Put tolls on the bridge; see if it reduces volumes; build a replacement structure; pay for it with the toll revenues we accumulate for a few years. Make the toll collection efficient so no more than 5% of the revenue goes to the toll collectors, and the rest goes to pay for the bridge.

This is very similar to what I originally understood activists to be advocating for. Now we have The Street Trust advocating for tolls to build a giant highway project.

Tolls are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.

Count me out.

BB
BB
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

They are a means for people who use things to pay for them.
It’s amazing to watch people here turning into pretzels to defend driving cars around on roads for free.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

They are a means for people who use things to pay for them.

Not if 85% of the funds they raise go to paying to administer the tolls.

dw
dw
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

No diversion of highway traffic to local streets

I’m curious how this would work. Like how do you enforce that? People already use surface streets to try to bypass congested freeways.

BB
BB
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

There is No diversion for bridges so that argument is stupid.
We already have 2 toll bridges over the Columbia river in Cascade Locks and Hood River .
They don’t seem to bother anyone using them as far as I have heard. Most people expect to pay for things they use, I don’t know why this is a difficult concept.

Steve C
Steve C
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

There were separate tolling projects to be implemented independently. One for the bridges south and north of Portland. And also another with electronic tolling the length of 5 and 205 through Portland. The cost for traveling between toll points (multiple within the city and between the bridges) would incentivize the use of surface streets.

https://www.oregon.gov/odot/tolling/pages/i-5-tolling.aspx

comment image

BB
BB
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve C

Is there evidence that this occurs?
That people drive out of their way?
There are 800 miles of toll roads in Florida, hundreds of miles in New York, New Jersey, California…
Why do people in Oregon think they need to reinvent stuff that works fine elsewhere?

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

I’ve personally opted to drive out of my way on the untolled I-94 southeast of Chicago instead of the shorter and more direct I-90. I added more than a dozen miles to a trip to save a couple bucks. Who knows if I saved anything, though, because I wasted fuel on out of direction travel. I’m sure other people would do the same.

People make all sorts of decisions, rational and irrational, to save time or money based on their perceived cost of travel (cost being measured in terms of money, time, hassle, aggravation, and wear and tear). These decisions come in the form of routing decisions, travel mode decisions, travel timing, and travel avoidance.

Steve C
Steve C
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

Just adding some context. People are talking about two different tolling projects. One has no realistic diversion issue, while the other is at least conceivable, depending on the price of the toll and the hassle of surface streets.

If it cost $10 extra to hop on 205 a few exits vs taking 82nd or 122nd I’d consider the stroads. But if it’s pennies or worse a flat fee pass thing, I’d jump on the highway.

The planners admit as much, when they list as a project goal: “ Results in a minimal amount of traffic on nearby roads caused by drivers avoiding a toll.” They expect avoidance, and look to minimize it through the planning process.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

I’m not sure how you define “working fine” or how you know that Florida’s roads meet that definition. Or how, with 800 miles of toll roads, their experience would compare to ours with 10 miles of toll roads in an urban area, with lots of alternative routes.

[From another comment] People make all sorts of decisions, rational and irrational, to save time or money based on their perceived cost of travel (cost being measured in terms of money, time, hassle, aggravation, and wear and tear).

100% agree.

BB
BB
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

So the king of the forum could not do a simple google search to find out that they have a sunshine pass there, the system works great , they pay the toll, they rebate money to low income.
NY, NJ, it’s a fact of life.
Tolls are not some freak thing no one has done before,
Europe is full of them. It’s easy to drive there, you pay the toll. It’s a use fee, Too simple for you?

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

Too simple for you?

As I said, I would support tolling if it can be done in a reasonable way and the proceeds are used for reasonable things.

I don’t think we disagree here.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

The passenger diversion from the two Interstate Bridges would be to transit or Amtrak…or creating local retail options 😉

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

I’m curious how this would work. Like how do you enforce that? 

Put the collection points where diversion is impossible, such as the center of the I-5 and I-205 bridges. Elsewhere, make the tolls low enough that it’s not worth the effort to take surface streets.

dw
dw
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I think this is the answer. It makes sense to toll bridges to fund bridge construction, an have tolls be a congestion management tool elsewhere.

blumdrew
blumdrew
4 months ago

AI won’t fix traffic in California, since it already has failed to do so.

What I mean by this is that almost all mapping apps (Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, etc.) are driven in large part by algorithms that use a mix of machine learning and real time data to determine the fastest route right now. Those algorithms aren’t really distinguishable from “AI”, and given how widely used they are and how bad traffic still is it’s hard to feel optimistic.

That article talks about potentially warning for wrong way drivers, or dense fog, or predictive traffic modeling but all of those issues are things that we already have the tech to solve. The issue for the first two isn’t detection, but rather warning motorists. And the third issue. again, arguably already exists in some form and has not really moved the needle on preventing traffic jams or “predicting high risk areas”. Surely we know where the high risk areas are, and imagining that you can signal time your way out of traffic is peak traffic engineering (in a bad way!).

Al Dimond
Al Dimond
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

One particularly clear example of this failure happened a few years during the solar eclipse. Everyone driving back from spot turned on their mapping app of choice, which tried to divert people around traffic jams on the large freeways onto smaller highways, creating new traffic jams on these roads; the software then responded by creating new detours.

Could better software predict its own effects and proactively try to distribute cars around various alternative routes? Maybe. But in the end there are just too many cars, that’s what the “traffic” is. The solution is providing alternatives and making them attractive enough that people use them. In order to do that we have to decide to do it. It’s politics, not AI.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Al Dimond

It’s politics, not AI.

Agreed. What would it take to make the alternatives attractive enough that a critical mass of drivers would consider using them? And how do we pay for those improvements (and convince people to make the investment)?

I realize you don’t have answers to these questions. No one does. That’s why we have the transit we have.

blumdrew
blumdrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The US spends trillions on roads and neglects transit just about everywhere and pretends its some mystery that it’s not an attractive option.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

The US spends trillions on roads and neglects transit just about everywhere and pretends its some mystery that it’s not an attractive option.

We all know why transit is unattractive; we just don’t have an obvious way to fix it (given economic, political, and environmental realities). “Just do it” is a marketing slogan, not a viable solution.

blumdrew
blumdrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yes, the obvious way is to build political consensus and properly fund transit. That’s easier said than done, but also it’s not exactly not obvious

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

but also it’s not exactly not obvious

Such a consensus has escaped us for probably a century. Establishing such a consensus is evidently quite hard. It’s not at all obvious to me how to do it.

maxD
maxD
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Portland in the snow is a perfect illustration of the neglect of alternatives. For some reason, the MAX is shut down by snow/cold. The MAX should be the most reliable way to get around in all-weather. Rails *should* be reliable, but they are not in Portland because they are not prioritized. Cars get stalled on them, they are not plowed, whatever. Next: Sidewalks and bikelanes- they 100% disappear. Even the sidewalks between the MAX stations- I helped move a guy in a motorized wheelchair trying to connect form the yellow line to a red or blue line in last year’s snow storm. THe road had deicer, gravel and was plowed, the vital ped connection was simply abandoned. Portland prioritizes cars and pretends to care about transit, and the bike and ped networks.

blumdrew
blumdrew
4 months ago
Reply to  maxD

It’s more complex than that, especially since so many of the MAX issues (this time) relate to downed power lines and trees knocking out the power supply directly. Last year, almost all the issues were because of downtown Portland being in gridlock because of drivers though.

And I definitely agree that sidewalks and bike lanes aren’t ever taken seriously in adverse weather. In my home town (Madison), the bike paths get plowed and the sidewalks get cleared quickly. I wish we could do better in Portland – especially relating to leaf related stuff! It’s ridiculous honestly!

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
4 months ago
Reply to  maxD

Yes, a lot of this is that the planners / designers of the MAX did not plan (or more likley were not allowed to budget) for features that would allow the system to function dependably in both colder weather (heated tack switches, etc.) and heat waves (track expansion, catenary wire stretch, etc.)

Part of this is just the general psychological ‘malaise’ of transportation facility operations in a region that once had perfect ‘average’ weather…no need to plow the roads, no need to move in heat waves, etc.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

It depends on what you mean by “fix traffic” (and “AI”). AI could make driving (and being around vehicles) a whole lot safer. It could dramatically reduce the need for parking lots in urban areas. It could reduce pollution and CO2 emissions. It could even reduce the demand for travel. Those sound like pretty big wins to me, even if other problems remain.

None of these outcomes are guaranteed, of course, but all seem well within the cone of plausibility, depending only on incremental improvements of existing technology.

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Have you read the 1979 anthology “Car Sinister”? Several of its stories deal with cars with AI and it’s interesting to see the dread such an idea was compared to today.
Another great story from the anthology is

“ R.A. Lafferty’s “Interurban Queen,” where a pastoral America depopulates cities and disperses to rural living partly by building a fully realized set of local railways. Auto drivers are shot on sight because the “diabolical arrogance in them, the rampant individualism, the hatred of order” might be contagious. When a crazed driver of a secretly built “klunker” shows up to curse and froth at trolley riders, rifles are handed out to passengers so they can slay the dragon.”

Ever since I read that I’ve been a huge fan of the trolley idea connecting the country and doing away with urban life. Anyway, it’s a fun read of what mid 70s types thought of the auto and what it might lead to.

IMG_6915
jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Whoops, I forgot the site I took the quote from….
https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2018/09/17/recommended-reading-car-sinister

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Sounds like Rush’s Red Barchetta.

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I had to look up the lyrics and yes, very much so. A much more optimistic ending to the song compared to the stories that came out right around that time. I wonder who inspired who or if it was just a larger theme going on then I realized.

Dave
Dave
3 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

That book is a treasure! I first read it in 1980 and have sent a half dozen copies to friends over the years. Re Red Barchetta, the late Rush drummer snd lyricist Neil Peart was a cyclist himself and wrote about it–read The Masked Rider sometime.

blumdrew
blumdrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It could do a lot of things, but it probably won’t do any of the things you listed, and it definitely won’t do all of them. You aren’t even describing a mechanism that AI will manage to do any of those things, just listing generally favorable outcomes.

How will AI make being around vehicles safer?
How will AI reduce the need for parking lots in urban areas?
How will AI reduce pollution and CO2 emissions?
How will AI reduce the demand for travel?

For the first point, I’m skeptical that any system will navigate a complex urban environment better than a (coherent, trained, thoughtful) human. Can self driving work on limited access highways or in suburban Phoenix? Maybe.

The second point requires a future where both self driving cars dominate, and the concept of private ownership of those cars is non-existent. That’s like a double fantasy

On the third point, all the computing required to make self driving “work” is a net increase in global electrical use, and therefore emissions. Unless AI manages to create your last point, a reduction in overall travel demand. Which is incredibly unlikely given that a robot driver eliminates the worst part about driving – doing the driving. This will almost certainly have the effect of inducing more driving in the long term – not less.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

How will AI make being around vehicles safer?

By taking the driving out of the hands of drunk and distracted humans who aren’t particularly good at the job even when sober and focused.

How will AI reduce the need for parking lots in urban areas?

By enabling automated fleet (or non-fleet) vehicles that don’t have to park close to where their drivers are going (or at all).

How will AI reduce pollution and CO2 emissions?

By coordinating fleets better to reduce congestion. Also possibly by creating new form factors that people would be willing to use for specific trips, but perhaps not own (like an encapsulated motorcycle, for example).

How will AI reduce the demand for travel?

By bringing more services to the user, and making online meetings better. One example is Project Starline. https://www.theverge.com/2022/10/13/23400870/google-project-starline-3d-chat-booth-impressions

I’m skeptical that any system will navigate a complex urban environment better than a (coherent, trained, thoughtful) human.

It only needs to be better than a drunk, error prone distracted human to be a big improvement. And the software will learn from every mishap system-wide, improving all the time. How many humans do that? I’ll bet every automated vehicle now has a detector for humans flying into their lane. Is every human driver considering that possibility?

That’s like a double fantasy

We’ll see. If you think about the economics, it seems like the most likely automation scenario. If you’re the only human on the road, your insurance rates are going to be pretty high. Some people will probably own their own vehicles, but I suspect the price is going to be pretty high, especially at first, which suggests fleet ownership is more likely.

net increase in global electrical use

Compared to gas/coal powered today, or compared to a post-transition electric future?

This will almost certainly have the effect of inducing more driving in the long term

This will only happen if robot driven fleets really are significantly better/cheaper than the present situation. If this future comes to pass, fleets will no doubt implement demand pricing (like Uber) to help smooth the peaks.

Overall, making a service so good that everyone wants to use it seems like a good outcome to me. How else are you going to get people to stop driving themselves?

I could be wrong, and it’s not necessarily what I want, but the above seem like the most likely medium-term scenarios to me. I can see clear technical, political, and economic pathways to all of them. No one seems to know a clear route to a TriMet dominated future* or a bike/walk/rollerblade dominated one.

The most likely alternative to what I’ve sketched out above seems to be the status quo.

Let’s hope that’s not what we get.

*Most such scenarios seem to depend on some mythical “leader” appearing, like the Mule, who can persuade all of us to change our thinking. It’s not impossible, but not likely in my estimation.

blumdrew
blumdrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You are comparing the best case scenario for AI to the worst case scenario for human drivers. I am not bullish on autonomous cars being some foolproof choice, since streets are public spaces that can and should be complex places for humans to gather. I am bullish on autonomous vehicles that run on electricity that are coupled together – almost like a train – running on viaducts, embankments, cuts, and subway tunnels. If only a major city in our region had an example of that being successful.

And if you think that 3D AI powered meetings are going to take off and replace human interaction, I have an NFT to sell you.

Compared to gas/coal powered today, or compared to a post-transition electric future?

There will always be environmental costs for creating autonomous systems when looked at from the view of electrical production, and autonomous vehicles require a lot of energy for computation. Even in a 100% renewable world, with no fossil fuels or emissions, there are still costs associated with producing raw materials to create power plants.

Here is a clear route to a TriMet dominated future: 5x as many buses, a downtown MAX tunnel, and bus lanes on every road wider than one lane. Funded by increased taxes! What a concept.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I am not bullish on autonomous cars being some foolproof choice, since streets are public spaces that can and should be complex places for humans to gather.

You may turn out to be right, in which case we’ll be in the same place we are today. Let’s hope you’re wrong.

Here is a clear route to a TriMet dominated future: 5x as many buses, a downtown MAX tunnel, and bus lanes on every road wider than one lane. Funded by increased taxes! What a concept.

Who is leading that charge? Because if the answer is “no one”, it’s probably not going to happen on its own.

blumdrew
blumdrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

in which case we’ll be in the same place we are today

We will only be in the same place today if we continue to believe that we are just one more technological solution away from solving traffic, or road safety, or whatever forever. Advocating for some future tech to save us rather than real solutions in the here and now is worse than doing nothing.

There are lots of people advocating for better transit, myself included

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I want to be clear I am not advocating for anything; I am extrapolating from where we are today to predict what I think is most likely to come tomorrow.

If we get better transit before autonomous vehicles, that’s great. I just don’t
think we will.

I see a lot of work and movement and investment on the autonomous vehicle front. I don’t see similar investment or support for big tax increases to improve transit. If you do think a significant shift to transit is coming, I would love to know how you think will happen.

Damien
Damien
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Which is incredibly unlikely given that a robot driver eliminates the worst part about driving – doing the driving. This will almost certainly have the effect of inducing more driving in the long term – not less.

Bingo.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Damien

A robot driver also greatly reduces the worst part of walking and biking — the ever-present threat of getting run over by a careless driver.

Some readers often assert that if biking were safer, lots more people would do it. I don’t really believe that either, but if true, automation is the only plausible path I see to finding out in the medium-term future.

blumdrew
blumdrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Wow, I can get run over by an AI that doesn’t do a good job of recognizing human beings, and then get pinned underneath it for hours on end with no driver to hold accountable. What a reassuring concept.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

There was a driver to hold accountable — the one that struck the pedestrian.

blumdrew
blumdrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Who is accountable when it’s a robot driver?

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Probably the manufacturer of the vehicle, just like any other product that hurts somebody.

dw
dw
4 months ago

RE: Tolling costs

Richard Hiatt of Scappoose noted that far too much money has been wasted on mass transit and bicycle infrastructure, rather than keeping roads and bridges safe and reducing congestion. “People want the ability to freely travel,” Hiatt said.

Why did they feel the need to include this? Who is Richard Hiatt and what expertise does he have on transportation? Could they have taken the time to fact-check the claim that money is being “wasted” on bike and transit projects?

Clark County today generally does good reporting but they always have to include a reactionary “both sides” take, no matter how dumb it is.

For what it’s worth, I think tolls are a bad idea. If we had great, frequent regional transit, I think tolls would work as a congestion management strategy, but as it is right now many folks would be squeezed hard by tolling. I like the idea to raise the gas tax, but only if the registration fees for luxury EVs go up too.

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

That quote stuck out for me, too, as some uninformed, and uncontested hyperbolic opinion that was allowed to go without correction.

Hiatt says people want to travel freely? In privately owned autos that cost four to five figures to operate and maintain on an annual basis? On a highly subsidized street network? Consuming highly subsidized fuel? With massive and unmitigated externalities?

Sure, let’s complain about the cost of subsidies to transit and bicycle infrastructure without considering the cost of subsidized private motor vehicle systems.

I’m also in favor of raising fees on gas vehicles and EVs. But a registration fee does nothing for demand management, nor does it scale with increased usage and impact the way a fuel tax does. You need a mileage based fee, tolls, or cordon pricing to achieve the effect that you get from a fuel tax. Elevated registration fees would just help to continue to make EVs an elitist, freeloading choice.

Steve C
Steve C
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

At yearly or bi-yearly registration/inspection all you need to to do is add an extra per mile charge (delta between current and last registration odo reading) to the base rate. That takes care of the inducement to drive more with a fixed cost model.

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve C

Yes, but people are much more sensitive to fees that accrue on a more frequent basis and are required to be paid more frequently. People see gas prices posted on billboards all over the place, and the price they pay to fill up the tank is more visceral and immediate. If there’s a cost that people don’t think about until April of every year, they may not think about how that fee is tied to their consumption habits. If the fee had to be paid monthly, or if there was a running tally on the dashboard, that might be more effective.

You’d also have to invent an inspection requirement for EVs, as none is currently required. I’d be in favor of this, as I think all vehicles should be regularly inspected for compliance with safety features, display of registration and license plates, tire wear, and other things, in addition to emissions compliance and mileage (if you are going to charge on a per mile basis). But that would require a new system that most people probably wouldn’t be happy about.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

I would in principle support a safety inspection, but having lived in places that have them, they are really not the panacea one might hope for.

There is a huge amount of corruption in the system. A friend bought a car which passed inspection and within a week he lost his brakes on the highway during a panic stop. Ouch.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve C

At yearly or bi-yearly registration/inspection all you need to to do is add an extra per mile charge

Should I pay VMT fees to Oregon if I primarily drive in Washington?

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

I’m also in favor of raising fees on gas vehicles and EVs.

As am I, and you’ve pointed out the dilemma.

Either charge a flat-fee (objectionable), a VMT charge (either by tracking everyone’s movements or having Oregon drivers pay Oregon for driving in Washington, both of which are objectionable), or a fuel charge, which is much harder when the fuel is also used for everything else and is available from every wall socket.

By the way, automation/fleets solves this problem as well as the others I pointed out elsewhere. Send a VMT charge to each fleet owner every month, or tax their power consumption.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

Who is Richard Hiatt and what expertise does he have on transportation?

Apparently he is an Oregon state legislator from Scappoose Oregon (opposite of Clark County Washington) and has written several pieces of successful transportation legislation. Quite likely he is one of those people who got CRC2 and RQ funded by the state legislature. Or as we might say out here in NC, one of those white hicks from out in the countryside who knows how to f**k up the big city.

dw
dw
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I know where Scappoose is. Where’d you get that info? All I can find are records of his testimonies in opposition to a couple of bills, non of which have anything to with transportation.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
4 months ago

Per Tolling: I will make this suggestion again, ODoT should outsource its tolling program to WSDoT (either statewide or just bi-state facilities). WSDoT has a modern history of highway toll / electronic fee collection. This would remove one barrier to implementing this effort and can always be returned back to ODoT at a later date. Plus this might be an opportunity to create a single ‘e-purse’ for customers, thus much simpler for bi-state commuters. [WSDoT reports an 87% customer service approval rate.]

Per WSDoTs 2022 report that average toll fee was $3.22 and cost them 66 cents to collect on average. This is an average fee collection cost of 20.5% of gross revenue collected. https://app.leg.wa.gov/ReportsToTheLegislature/Home/GetPDF?fileName=FY2022-Toll-Division-Annual-Report_638efe7b-cad9-4532-b4e3-fed253309c65.pdf

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Steven
Steven
3 months ago

The NY Times article blames the increase of dangerous driving on the fact that Americans are “baseline angry and anxious” following the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as on the lack of reliable public transportation and walkable communities. it’s unclear how scolding people for their individual behavior is supposed to change that.