Content Type: News Item

Despite efforts to get more people biking, North America still has low ridership numbers.

The problem? Biking is hard.

A new NITC report by John MacArthur of TREC offers a solution to that problem: e-bikes. 

Many people surveyed say that having to pedal up hills and arriving at their destination sweaty are major deterrents to commuting by bike, even when bike lanes and other facilities are there.

Researchers have put a lot of thought into ways to get more people riding bicycles by improving bicycle infrastructure, land use and public engagement. The efforts are largely due to concerns about congestion, climate change and public health.

Comparatively little research, however, has focused on the bicycle itself.

MacArthur and co-investigator Jennifer Dill teamed up with Drive Oregon, Metro and Kaiser Permanente Northwest to provide Kaiser employees with electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes) to use for a trial period of ten weeks. The goal was to see if e-bikes might help overcome some commonly cited barriers to cycling.

The study, Evaluation of Electric Bike Use at Three Kaiser Permanente NW Employment Centers in Portland Metro Region, took place in Portland, Oregon from April 2014 to September 2015. A total of 150 Kaiser employees participated in the study. Fewer than 10 percent of...

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Content Type: Blog entry

Over the last couple years, electric bicycles (e-bikes) have been gaining momentum. E-bikes may play an important role in addressing cities’ transportation and public health problems by getting more people out of cars and onto bicycles. But as the number of users increase, so too will potential conflicts (actual or perceived) with other road users, causing policy questions to arise.

The current state of e-bikes regulation varies dramatically across state and local jurisdictions, causing confusion. The confusion stems from the wide variety of devices and technologies on the market, perceived overlap of legal entities’ jurisdiction over the device, outdated or absent laws and regulations, and inconsistency of terms used to describe e-bikes. This confusion creates uncertainty for manufacturers and dealers and makes riders wary of embracing e-bikes.

One of the biggest concerns people have about e-bikes and their use, especially on shared-use paths, is speed.  Currently, the Consumer...

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Content Type: Professional Development Event

Room 315 in the Engineering Building (the ITS Lab)

Abstract: This seminar will describe the results of a recent study for the Australian National Road Authority (Austroads) which reviewed emerging types of private vehicles, including everything from Segways and mobility scooters to three wheel cars and micro/mini cars, and their implications for road system management.The emergence of some of those vehicle types presents real challenges from the perspective of safely managing their integration into the road system even though they present some real opportunities from the perspective of improving the sustainability of the transport system. Although the analysis is largely from an Australian perspective, some of the general insights which came from the study are transferable and one of the key recommendations (regarding moving towards more performance based than prescriptive based standards for vehicles) has potential international application.

Content Type: Professional Development Event

Room 204 of the Distance Learning Center Wing of the Urban Center on the Portland State University campus

Abstract: A variety of types of electric bicycles are now available to consumers in America and around the world. While there has been strong uptake of these vehicles in China, there remains uncertainty in other markets about their ultimate potential as a transportation mode. The technology is evolving in ways that are likely to better meet traveller's needs and the growth of this mode presents both opportunities and challenges. Since they have implications for transportation policy, planning and operations it is appropriate for the transportation profession to consider these vehicles carefully. This seminar will review developments and emerging issues with this form of transportation technology.

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Content Type: Professional Development Event

The video begins at 9:18.

Abstract: When it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), Oregon has all the right ingredients: the Governor's support, the necessary infrastructure and investment by major manufacturers; but is that enough to ensure success? George Beard, Portland State University's conduit to Portland General Electric (PGE) and other EV partners, will provide a briefing on the status of EV deployment and adoption in Oregon. His talk will examine remaining barriers to EV adoption and the conditions in which key parties can overcome them. Can the professionals who are working on EVs, including planners and engineers, have any impact on the most important measure of success: consumer acceptance? Sit down, plug in, and find out!

Content Type: Professional Development Event

The video begins at 1:47.

Abstract: In transportation planning and engineering, market segments or groups of individuals with varying attitudes and travel behavior are often identified in order to define a set of policies and strategies targeted at each segment. Examples include residential location choice studies, electric vehicle adoption and the marketing of public transit options. Defining market segments is common in the marketing literature, typically based on observed socioeconomic characteristics, such as gender and income. However, in addition to these characteristics, travelers may also be segmented based on variations in their observed travel and activity patterns. The activity-based approach to travel demand analysis acknowledges the need to analyze the travel patterns of individuals, conceptualized as a trip chain or tour, as opposed to individual trip segments. This has implications for identifying markets segments based on travel patterns which needs to distinguish between the sequencing and timing of travel choices and activities, in addition to the actual travel choices and activities. One approach that holds promise is pattern recognition theory which has wide applications in image analysis, speech recognition and physiological signal processing. In this study, pattern recognition methods are applied to observed daily travel and activity patterns from Oregon to identify travel market...

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Content Type: Professional Development Event

The video begins at 4:13.

Wei Feng: Impacts of Economic, Technological and Operational Factors on the Economic Competitiveness of Electric Commercial Vehicles in Fleet Replacement Decisions

Electric commercial vehicles (ECV) have the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and pollution in urban areas. In addition, ECVs have lower per-mile operating costs and potentially lower maintenance costs. However, the initial purchase cost of ECVs is significantly higher than the purchase cost of a conventional diesel vehicle. From a purely economic perspective, there is a cost tradeoff between the low operating and maintenance costs of ECVs and their high initial capital costs.  In this paper, a fleet replacement optimization framework is employed to analyze the competitiveness of ECVs. Scenarios with different fleet utilization, fuel efficiency and sensitivity analysis of ten additional factors indicate that ECVs are more cost effective when conventional diesel vehicles’ fuel efficiency is low (8.2 miles/gallon) and daily utilization is more than 54 miles. Breakeven values of some key economic and technological factors that separate the competitiveness between ECVs and conventional diesel vehicles are calculated in all scenarios. For example, in low conventional diesel vehicle fuel efficiency and low daily utilization scenario, ECVs are more competitive when their purchase prices...

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Content Type: Professional Development Event

The video begins at 1:12.

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Summary: Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are well established in China and other Asian and European countries but have yet to realize their potential in the United States, although recently the number of e-bikes has been growing. Research on the economic, operational, and safety issues of e-bikes in the U.S. is limited. This research aims in part to understand if different bicycling technology, in this case electric assist bicycles or e-bikes, can reduce barriers to bicycling and encourage more bike trips and longer bike trips, and increase the diversity of people bicycling, including people with a disability or chronic injury to bicycle. Some of these barriers include trip distance, topography, time, and rider effort. E-bikes typically resemble a standard pedal bicycle with the addition of a rechargeable battery and electric motor to assist the rider with propulsion. To answer these questions, we conducted an online survey of existing e-bike users on their purchase and use decisions. Results from 553 e-bike users across North America are analyzed here. Results suggest that e-bikes are enabling users to bike more often, to more distant locations, and to carry more cargo with them. Additionally, e-bikes allow people who would otherwise not be able to bike because of physical limitations or...

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Content Type: News Item

In 2009, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the Copenhagen Wheel, a device that converts an ordinary bicycle into a hybrid e-bike.

An e-bike is considered a motorized bicycle under Massachusetts law. This means that once the 13-pound, 26-inch Copenhagen Wheel is attached to the rear wheel of a bicycle, the resulting vehicle requires a driver’s license to operate, must be registered with the DMV, and its rider must wear, not just a bike helmet, but a motorcycle helmet to be in compliance with the law.

Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, are well established in China and other Asian and European countries but market adoption has been slow in the United States.

Part of the reason could be that the law is often nebulous where e-bikes are concerned.

NITC researchers at Portland State University conducted a policy review revealing the current state of legislation regarding e-bikes in the United States and Canada.

The report, Regulations of E-Bikes in North America, provides a summary of legal definitions and requirements surrounding the use of electric-assist bicycles in each of the 50 states, Washington D.C. and 13 Canadian provinces.

No two jurisdictions are exactly alike in their legal treatment of this relatively new mode of...

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Content Type: News Item

With the emergence of electric vehicles (EVs) as an environmentally friendly alternative to the internal combustion engine, OTREC researcher Robert Bass decided to investigate some of the uncharted effects of their growing prevalence.

Bass is interested in measuring and understanding the impacts that electric vehicle charging stations have on their cities’ power distribution systems.

Electric Avenue, located on the Portland State University campus where Bass is an associate professor, is the perfect research opportunity: a row of EV charging stations along Southwest Montgomery Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue in downtown Portland, Ore.

Launched in August 2011 as a joint project by Portland General Electric, PSU and the City of Portland, Electric Avenue is intended as a research platform for understanding the impact EVs have within the larger context of the city.

Nonlinear loads such as EV chargers can introduce power quality issues to a city’s electricity distribution system. Bass, with PSU undergraduate student Nicole Zimmerman, set out to measure the power quality effects of EV chargers along Electric Avenue.

Power quality manifests in several ways; for this study, the researchers focused on...

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