Citing two TREC studies, Congressman Jimmy Panetta of the 20th District of California and Congressional Bike Caucus Chairman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon have introduced the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act to encourage the use of electric bicycles, or e-bikes.

The E-BIKE Act creates a consumer tax credit that:

  • Covers 30% of the cost of the electric bicycle, up to a $1,500 credit
  • Applies to new electric bicycles that cost less than $8,000
  • Is fully refundable, allowing lower-income workers to claim the credit

The first TREC study referenced, The E-Bike Potential: How E-Bikes Can Improve Sustainable Transportation, found that if 15% of car trips were made by e-bike, carbon emissions would drop by 12%. This finding was based on a Portland, Oregon case study. The researchers also created an Electric Vehicle Incentive Cost and Impact Tool which enables policymakers, public stakeholders, and advocates to quickly visualize the potential outcomes of...

Read more

Saddling transit-oriented developments with parking requirements better suited to typical suburban developments can make housing and office space near transit scarce and overly expensive. That’s one implication of a recent NITC research report "Trip and Parking Generation at Transit-Oriented Developments" examining driving and parking at these centers.

It makes sense that transit-oriented developments—dense, walkable centers close to transit that combine residential, commercial and office uses—would generate fewer car trips and need less parking than other development types. But until now, no one has found out how much less parking.

NITC researcher Reid Ewing of the University of Utah took up the challenge and reveals the answer in a report: a lot less. The developments Ewing’s team studied generally generated less than half the driving, and required fewer than half the parking spaces, than standard guidebooks predict. They presented some of their findings Jan. 10 during the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C. Learn more about the conference or download the paper.

Ewing’s team studied transit-oriented...

Read more

States can reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a broad range of approaches, but none will have much luck without continued support from leaders and the public, according to NITC program research from the University of Oregon. In a conference paper for the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C., a team led by Rebecca Lewis took a close look at the efforts West Coast states have made to reduce emissions from the transportation.

Cutting transportation emissions depends on three variables: vehicle efficiency, fuel carbon content and vehicle miles traveled, or VMT. The paper focuses on the last leg: cutting driving. While more efficient automobiles and alternative fuels have come on the market in recent years, a growing population and longer commutes can wipe out any emissions gains from shifts in fuel economy and fuel type.

Washington, Oregon and California have all passed statutes to cut statewide greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by 2020. The approaches vary in their targets, plans and strategies.

Lewis and her team present the research in a poster session Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in...

Read more

Prof. Kelly Clifton had planned for students in her “Theories And Methods Of Travel Behavior” course to give final presentations March 11. But the course had just wrapped up a unit on public policy.

Clifton, a TREC researcher, instead offered a rare opportunity: the class spent its final course meeting grilling U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Oregon’s senior representative and a major player in transportation policy.

DeFazio used the session to field questions about his work on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and to get ideas for solving problems before the committee from some of the country’s most respected transportation students.

Topics included alternatives to the gasoline tax, health, performance measures and behavior modification. Around 25 students attended, including some from outside the travel behavior course.

As the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeFazio looks for ways to deal with deteriorating infrastructure. Faced with questions on the intersections between transportation and disciplines such as health and education, DeFazio acknowledged how much struggles in one area affect others.

“There’s a whole host of things we’re not investing in,” DeFazio said. If properly funded, he said, programs such as Safe Routes to School can improve all the disciplines they touch.

But the federal...

Read more

With various governments encouraging people to drive less, economists have wondered if such goals can have the side effect of harming the economy. In most cases, the answer is no, OTREC researcher B. Starr McMullen concluded in a research report.

  • Click here to read more about the research and to download the report.

It’s more than an academic question: driving and the economy do tend to rise and fall together. McMullen, a transportation economics professor at Oregon State University, examined the relationship between the two by looking at which happens first—a change in driving or a change in economic activity.

In general, economic growth leads to more driving, not the other way around, McMullen said. That’s particularly true for metropolitan areas, the very places most likely to pursue policies that reduce driving.

“The more economic activity you have, the more VMT [vehicle miles traveled] you’re going to have,” McMullen said.

On the other hand, if there are policies to reduce VMT and driving decreases, “you’re not going to have the economy fall apart," as some have suggested.

If a state sets a goal to reduce VMT or transportation emissions, it...

Read more

The second Oregon Transportation Summit followed in the footsteps of last year's inaugural summit, bringing academics and transportation professionals from a wide range of disciplines together to share their work. This year's summit drew even more people than the first.

New Yorker writer Peter Hessler gave the keynote address, reading and recounting stories from his book "Country Driving." Sometimes somber, often hilarious, Hessler's presentation enchanted the luncheon crowd at Portland State University's Smith Memorial Student Union Sept. 10.

Joshua Schank of the Bipartisan Policy Center gave a frank assesment of performance measures in transportation and the chance for change in a deeply divided Congress. Terry Moore of ECONorthwest gave a detailed and entertaining local response.

Popular breakout session topics included the Transportation Planning Rule cagematch, performance-based desicion-making and transportation governance.

Learn more about our other research on e-bikes here.


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....

Read more

Pages