What do global warming, the end of “cheap oil” and the Legislature’s refusal to raise gas taxes the 12th session in a row have in common? Together they are creating the perfect storm for transportation as we know it.
Storms sink most boats but they also give rise to great surfing for those who anticipate and are prepared to ride out the waves instead of fighting them. Every community in the US is facing the same storm in one form or another. No place has enough money to build its way out of congestion, and Portland is no exception (compare congestion numbers at the Texas Transportation Institute’s website).
No place except maybe Texas has oil to meet its local needs (US production peaked in 1970’s and the world production peak is fast approaching) and burning all this fuel to accomplish errands we could do on foot, by bike or on transit is having major impacts on the survivability of our species.
How do we keep commerce flowing if the roads are clogged with commuters? When gas goes to $5 a gallon what will people living in north Clark County (where they can still buy a 1 acre lot in sprawlurbia) and commuting to Hillsboro do? Can bikes really save the world? If everyone wants to live in the city, where will they live? And just as fundamental to our sustainability, where will people of lesser means live if the well-to-do continue to bid them out of their conveniently located homes?
These are themes that I will be exploring in future contributions to this blog. Stay tuned!