Deal With It—Commuters Need Cars

By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

How did you get to work today? If you’re like 80% of Portland-area commuters, you rode in a car. And, on your way to and from work, you probably grumbled about how much worse your commute has gotten.

Over the past five years, the region has added nearly 180,000 more commuters. Most of them drive to work and they’re congesting our roads.

In normal times, transportation authorities would add capacity to the road network and improve streets for safe and speedy commutes.

But, we don’t live in normal times. Last week, Portland commissioner Chloe Eudaly declared to a packed council meeting that the city was not going to build more roads. This is nothing new; it was the same no-new-roads promise Mayor Ted Wheeler made early in his term.

Their solution is to pack more people on public transit and get more people to bike or walk to work. But their solution is doomed to fail. Despite a surging growth in commuters, TriMet ridership is down while so-called “active transportation” has stagnated. The most recent data show only a little over 5% of commuters bike or walk.

After decades of trying to get people to abandon their cars, our leaders need to understand the automobile is an amazing technology of freedom and improve our roads to support that freedom.

Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Comments 5

  1. Avatar for Jeff Fish

    Jeff Fish

    3:50 pm - November 15, 2019

    Thought I would let you know the I was in a meeting with PBOT Director Chris Warner about 2 weeks ago in which it was stated by him, or some of his staff, that the current pedestrian/bicycle commute to work was about 6-7 %. They are working on attempting to increase that to 25% with the “improvements” like reduced lanes on Glisan, Halsey, Foster and other roads, as well as other changes causing the reduction in the use of automobiles.

  2. Avatar for John Baxter

    John Baxter

    4:17 pm - November 15, 2019

    I’m sure there is a trend to living in cities and walking/biking to work. But it defies the imagination that so many “experts” think a majority of the! population of a major metropolitan are can or will ride a bike 25-40 miles to and from work. The only way to eliminate cars in cities would be to come up with a billion dollar public rail system of some sort–perhaps raised monorails or underground vacuum tunnels that would allow high-speed energy efficient trains. A d just who is going to pay for it?

  3. Avatar for Judy Black

    Judy Black

    5:24 pm - November 15, 2019

    Thank you for addressing this problem! As a senior living in East Portland most of my life, I have noticed and experienced the problem you’re describing increase dramatically during the past several years, and commuting isn’t the only problem! Portland was always a liveable city when common sense conservatives had political control of the City and State. I hope we can return to sensible, conservative values before it gets worse. I’m not about to give up my automobile!

  4. Avatar for Mary Starrett

    Mary Starrett

    12:10 pm - November 16, 2019

    The war against the automobile rages on. Thank you for calling it out.
    Mary Starrett

  5. Indivisibility of Cars and Commuting – Cars Blog

    8:56 pm - January 24, 2020

    […] 80 percent of Portland-area commuters drive or ride in a car. The title of his blog says it all: Deal with it—Commuters Need Cars. He […]

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