Alternative commuters find creative ways to travel

Alternative commuters find creative ways to travel

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by Keely Chalmers, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on April 25, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Updated Saturday, Apr 26 at 11:25 AM

Poll:
What kind of transportation do you use to commute?

PORTLAND -- If you're sick of sitting in all that traffic during your commute or just tired of paying those high gas prices, there are lots of alternatives.

David Cook recently traded in his four wheels for two. In the Portland area, cycling is a popular alternative to driving a car.

The problem, for a lot of folks, including David, biking to and from work is a challenge.

“We live at about 700 feet elevation so it’s quite a climb up from the river,” said David.

While the cycling infrastructure is there with all the bike lanes and designated bike routes, some people are simply not in good enough cycling shape to ride their commute.

Thankfully, David is getting a boost.

He’s now using an electric bicycle to commute to work.

“There's a throttle function on the bike that automatically boosts that gives you lots of power to go up hill immediately,” David explained.

David is part of a group of employees at Kaiser Permanente taking part in a pilot program to see if e-bikes can be used as a viable alternative means of commuting.

“It turns what might have been a car trip into a bike trip,” said Dan Kaempff, transportation planner with Metro.

Kaempff said e-bikes are already zipping through Portland's streets right alongside walkers and cyclists.

”You don’t have to drive your car if you don’t want to,” he said.

Car commute options

But if you do need a car it is getting both easier and more affordable to drive an electric car.  

“The payment on the car we lease is roughly equivalent to what I was spending on gas, so it’s like a free car,” said electric car driver Dean Vacheresse.

But finding alternative, money saving ways to commute doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up the gas as long as you're willing to carpool

“If you can find a co worker or someone who works near you to share a ride with... those are great ways to get to work,” said Kaempff.

If carpooling isn't your thing, there’s always car sharing.

Car sharing services like Car2go have become a popular choice for urban commuters.

For David, his choice to bike was made a lot easier with his new e-bike.

“It just makes it one less commuter, one less car on the street to occupy space and it makes me feel good, too.”

So how do people in the metro area travel to work?

According to figures from Metro:

  • 71 percent of people in and around the Portland area drive alone
  • 10 percent carpool
  • 6 percent ride transit
  • 3 percent walk
  • 2 percent bike (but that figure increases to 6 percent in the city of Portland)

That means a total of 21 percent of commuters get to work using some way other than driving alone.

 

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