Electric vehicles and critical mass
Left: a slide from one of my presentations that depicts some of the elements (besides roads) of the system that supports automobility: fueling stations; repair stations; lodging; restaurants; maps.
The same thing was done for the automobile, and it took decades to create the necessary infrastructure, to the point where automobility is the dominant mode in the US.
In the comments on the recent entry on electric vehicles ("") Charlie made the point that DC could develop a greater preponderance of support infrastructure.
Separately, Barbara, a member of the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association, commented (and we had a separate e-conversation as well) about the various actions underway in Portland that in fact are leading to the development of a critical mass of users, infrastructure, and visibility and awareness.
Her example illustrates Charlie's point (and my own lack of vision...)
EVs won't solve all of our transportation problems, but reducing dependence on foreign oil is possible, and so is reducing auto pollution.
In case you aren't familiar, Portland OR is one of the leaders in rolling out EV's and EV infrastructure. Oregon Electric Vehicle Association has been active here for quite some time, and represents the individual driver population. Drive Oregon is a new organization, and is organizing and representing the commercial EV field. Locally, Staples has several all-electric delivery trucks. We have charging stations all over town, as part of both the US Dept of Energy's rollout program and the State of Oregon's rollout program. Downtown near Portland State University we have Electric Avenue, one-block reserved for EV charging only. And AAA has added EV-emergency-charging to several of their trucks in the area. ...
Each summer OEVA.org sponsors EV Celebration Day; typically it is a Saturday in July, and held at Pioneer Courthouse Square ("Portland's Living Room"). I believe the 2014 event will take place the weekend of July 5. It's a chance for the public to look at all kinds of EVs, private and commercial, from conversions to Teslas, and talk to EV owners.This is a great example of the point about building a system to support various modes being necessary for take up. Another element is how Car2Go, the one-way car sharing program, has introduced some electric vehicles into their Portland fleet.
It also demonstrates that Portland continues to be a leader in sustainable transportation, starting in the 1960s, when they decided to tear down a riverfront freeway and began to develop the foundations of its commitment to a new transportation paradigm focused on sustainability and quality places,.
Each step they have taken since builds on previous steps and they continue to expand this vision, paradigm, and practice.
Portland was one of the first cities in the US to begin building a modern light rail system, the first to deploy modern streetcars, a national leader in the development of bicycle infrastructure--they have the highest number of bike commuters in the US--the first to deploy a modern aerial tram as part of its transit infrastructure, etc.--so that each project is not only complete in itself, but contributes and strengthens and extends the sustainable mobility system.
With regard to Electric Avenue, which is a short term project, see "Electric Avenue experiment may continue" from the Portland Tribune and "Portland Plans for Transit All Powered by Electricity" from the New York Times. From the PT article:
"Electric Avenue has provided an important service to early adopters of electric vehicles, an opportunity for project partners to explore issues related to charging infrastructure in the public right of way, and a showcase for newly developed products," reads on Oct. 17 letter to the city from PSU.
Not that there aren't growing pains, even in Portland. Barbara writes further:
A current and unresolved issue is interacting with the different charging stations. Each vendor has its own approach to this. Some require you to use their card key; others have you type in your email address on the screen. As a result, users have to carry a LOT of different card keys so you can use whichever charger is available when you need it. Over time this may smooth out into one "BankAmeriCard" approach, but right now it's a hassle.
Another issue with EV charging is that while your EV is charging, if you leave the vehicle to eat or shop, attend a meeting, or whatever, and some other EV driver pulls in and wants to charge, sometimes that other driver UNPLUGS your car and starts charging their car. Users are trying to work out a way of communicating to one another an etiquette about this. But some people are just jerks and don't care how much they might be inconveniencing you by unplugging your car. Especially if you have already paid for a charging session (by the "session" not by the unit of time or KwH consumed). At least Nissan has a feature allowing your Leaf to notify your iPhone that you've been unplugged.
Updating my mobility shed concept for electric vehicle infrastructure. In my unsuccessful attempt to become a bike share mogul, we were working with a European company that developed the capability of integrating bike share into an intelligent transportation system platform, that could include parking meters, electric vehicle charging, e-bikes, other forms of bike parking, etc. But the contracting process used by cities militates against proposing something different from what is already being done.
But I need to update my writings on what I call the mobility shed ("Updating the mobilityshed / mobility shed concept") for electric vehicles along the lines of what they are doing in Portland.
Although it is "merely" another example of how to create the right conditions necessary to support behavior change, rather than addressing various elements in fits and starts and in a discoordinated fashion.
Other diagrams of a systems approach to transportation modes and integrated services.
German bike plan system diagram
Kyocera electric bike system diagram
Open parking system diagram for ITS