When I was starting this blog, I got feedback from a number of potential contributors that just talking about “mobility” was a problem, that “access” was the more comprehensive way to look at the issues. I eventually compromised and put both in the tag line for this site.
I’m getting a similar education about “freight”. I’m coming to understand that the “movement of goods and services” is the more comprehensive way to look at this issue. This is particularly relevant as the Portland Freight Master Plan makes its way to the Planning Commission and then City Council.
On Tuesday I attended a lecture in the PSU Transportation Seminar Series by Doug Hunt, a Professor at the University of Calgary.
While Professor Hunt’s main theme was about the intracacies of modeling the movement of commercial vehicles, which make up perhaps 12-16% of all vehicles on the road (the rest being “household” vehicles), as context, he presented statistics about the composition of that traffic.
Only about two-thirds of commercial traffic is what a layman might think of as “freight”, goods being shipped in large trucks. The other third is transported in smaller trucks, vans and cars. Commercial services are almost entirely delivered in smaller vehicles.
So as we plan how our transportation system will serve the region’s economy, we would do well to think about ALL of the movements that contribute, not just tractor-trailers.
One response to ““Goods and Services” or “Freight””
Commissioner Sam Adams is talking about the importance of the “traded sector” for the regional economy. At first glance, we think of tractor-trailers full of wood chips, paper and other manufactured goods or trains of containers with french fries and alfalfa and wheat. But the fastest growing portion of the “traded sector” may well be the admin/management function of organizations such as adidasAmerica and Nike, which manufacture no products here.
Creating attractive and affordable communities convenient to these kinds of organizations may do more for the “traded sector” than any roadway capacity scheme.
What’s more, Adidas wise decision to relocate into close-in North Portland has made it possible for almost half of their employees to forgo driving to work alone, and has been a huge shot in the arm to the surrounding communities.
Ironically, widening I-5 “for freight” will dump more cars into North Portland, possibly compromising the livability that has made that area such a hit with adidas employees.
Lenny Anderson, Swan Island TMA