Saturday, May 4, 2013

Survey Says . . .

The Metro Climate Smart Communities Online Survey was conducted between March 26th and April 8th 2013 by Davis, Hibbitts, & Midghall, Inc. (DHM Research), in partnership with Opt-In to help Metro form a strategy to meet the State of Oregon’s 2007 requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars,
trucks, and SUVs in the Portland Area.  Jim Redden’s article in the May 1st edition of the Clackamas Review, Put money in transit, roads, summarizes the survey results.  Responses came from survey respondents in Clackamas (12% of responses), Multnomah (63%) and Washington (25%) counties. The demographics of the panelists tended to be older, better- educated Democrats living in Multnomah County, so this won’t be considered a scientific sample of the tri-county area.  The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2014 with recommendations to be presented to the Legislature in 2015.

Only one in three participants of the survey were aware of Oregon’s law requiring the reduction of green house gas emissions, but 70% of the participants don’t feel that enough is being done about climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region.  The survey also noted that nearly 80% of the respondents drove alone either daily or weekly in the past year, but when questioned, they stated they would use public transportation more if it got them to their destination as fast as a car, was more reliable, and if it was easier to get to a stop.  Seventy five percent would also walk or bike if their destination was closer and fifty seven percent would walk or bike if there were more paths and sidewalks. 

Sixty nine percent of respondents were willing to pay more in gas, parking, and fees if the money generated was spent on repairing and expanding roads, public transportation, and bike and pedestrian systems.  The spending priorities for the respondents in the next ten to twenty years, in order of priority:  increase coverage, frequency, and reliability of public transportation; fix potholes, repair roads, and improve traffic flow; better connection of sidewalks, pedestrian paths and separate bicycle paths; investment in fuel efficient vehicles and electric vehicle infrastructure; expand roads and highways; incentives to locate more housing, businesses and services near public transportation stops.  Washington County respondents were the least willing to pay more (39%), perhaps because they already have a county-wide road tax.

The results of this survey were interesting, and I hope Metro uses this information when deciding ways to improve our region’s impact on the environment.  There is a lot that can be accomplished to improve our environmental footprint if we begin taking the right steps.  Funding is an important start, and raising the cost to drive is an excellent beginning to get us where we hope to be in the future.  Anyone interested in viewing the survey or to register as an Opt In Panelist for future surveys can visit the website at

Thank you Sravya Garladenne for review this post.


  1. Tessie,

    Very interesting post! Does Metro have plans to conduct another survey, with the hope of reaching a more representative sample of the region? As we talked about last class, the demographics of many survey respondent groups tend to be disproportionately white, with higher education and income levels. I'm curious about Metro's next steps and outreach strategies. Is the survey exclusively online? I noticed that one of the partners on the Opt In site is AARP, which is interesting to see given the predominance of older survey respondents.


  2. I'm curious what others think about Metro's approach with the Opt-In Panel. Metro will be the first to tell you the sample is not representative. But when findings are reported and picked up in 30 second news stories or tweeted in 140 words or less, is that caveat going to be lost in translation? On the other hand, random sample surveys are expensive and time-consuming to administer. In a time of budget constraints that limit quality data collection, is biased data better than no data? What do you all think?

    1. I think that when people opt-in to surveys such as this, they are more likely to have an opinion on the subject. With the random sample you can get the "no opinion" answer, if there is a response at all. I suspect the types of people that respond to the random sample survey (like me) are the same that would sign up to be a member of the Opt-In Panel.

  3. Regardless of whether the sample is representative or not, I'd be interested to see how the panelists would respond to an actual proposed tax. The idea of repairing and expanding roads, public transportation, and bike and pedestrian systems probably sounds appealing, but I'm not convinced people would actually want to pay when the tax became a reality.


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