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The Monday Roundup

Posted by on March 21st, 2011 at 8:28 am

Have you heard that oft-cited factoid about Portland’s entire bikeway network costing about the same amount as a single mile of urban freeway? Well, it checks out.

Here’s the news that caught our eye this week:

- Conservative politics and bicycle transportation ought to go hand in hand, according to this article and this editorial in the aftermath of the National Bike Summit.

- The prominent banker who drove through the Critical Mass ride in Porto Alegre, Brazil last month has been charged with attempted murder, and his criminal record has been uncovered, revealing other incidents of reckless driving and domestic violence.

- In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a group of women began a group ride and are asking for better bicycle infrastructure.

- In Nigeria, an artist who portrays the aftermath of traffic crashes talks about the country’s traffic safety culture.

- Activists are asking the state of Illinois to begin keeping data on dooring crashes.

- In Singapore, a new initiative to battle bicycle theft includes high tech, tamper proof labels.

-The new mandatory, all ages helmet law in Northern Ireland is meeting with some resistance.

- If walking up or down stairs is more dangerous than bicycling, asks a blogger, then why don’t we wear helmets?

- Have you heard that oft-cited factoid about Portland’s entire bikeway network costing about the same amount as a single mile of urban freeway? Well, it checks out.

- For the cost of the planned deep bore freeway tunnel in Seattle, the state of Washington could buy each of its residents a bicycle.

- A suburb of Copenhagen has a completely segregated bicycle network that has no contact with car traffic.

- Profiles of fifteen U.S. power players in bicycle business and advocacy who happen to be women.

- In Denver, an entire coffeeshop operates from a cargo bike.

- In Vancouver, Canada, electric-assist tricycle cargo delivery is the backbone of a new, cooperative business venture.

- In the small town of Fazilka, India, rickshaw operators are working together to change the way they connect with customers.

- In Boston, a new carfree compost pick-up business is enjoying high demand.

- Want to go on an epic bike tour and worried your partner won’t want to join you? Here’s a handy guide to making it appealing.

- Video of the week: In New York City, a ride commemorates those killed while walking and riding bicycles there in the last year…

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  • k. March 21, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Conservative politics and bike advocacy going hand in hand? I’ll believe that when I see it. The article by Kathryn Moore is nothing but spin. If Republicans really support growing cycling buy putting real resources into it, let them show it. I’m not holding my breath.

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  • Kt March 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

    “Have you heard that oft-cited factoid about Portland’s entire bikeway network costing about the same amount as a single mile of urban freeway? Well, it checks out. ”

    Actually, I read that– it MOSTLY checks out. Please be accurate.

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    • Mike March 21, 2011 at 10:32 am

      Or – “It could check out depending on which estimates you use”.
      Of course that title wouldn’t really hook a reader.

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    • spare_wheel March 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      i don’t think the use of the vague adjective “mostly” improves the accuracy of that headline.

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    • Bjorn March 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm

      If you read it you would have seen that the “urban freeway” claim does check out completely, the only wiggle room is if you compare it to rural freeways, but since it is the mayor talking about options for Portland the correct comparison is urban bikeway costs to urban freeway costs. Why would any of our city leaders care what a mile of freeway halfway to pendleton costs?

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  • 9watts March 21, 2011 at 11:05 am

    So, perhaps it is slightly more accurate to say something like ‘Portland’s entire bike infrastructure is equivalent in cost to 1.5 miles of 4-lane urban freeway’ I think the point remains that in terms of what we get/got for our tax dollars in both situations is readily grasped and compared.

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  • RJ March 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Actually, we’re about to start building some new freeway. It’s the Sunrise project between I-205 and 122nd Ave., a two mile-long, two lane limited access facility. Price tag? $130 million.

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION1/sunrise/Sunrise.pdf

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    • matt picio March 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      That’s a little premature. There still is $30M in authorizations to get, and not all of the right-of-way has been secured. The project is fairly high-priority, and they’ve been talking about it for over a decade, but some of the ducks are not yet in a row.

      Interesting that the project page doesn’t mention any of the bike/ped improvements that ODOT presented to the Clackmas County Bike/Ped Advisory Committee a few years back. The local access conversion of what will become “old” 224 is supposed to have those improvements, along with a connection to the future Rock Creek Trail.

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      • adamdoug2011 March 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

        if there is anything that portland excels at, it is making great “plans for the future” and then begging the federal gov for money. when that fails, start complaining. repeat until satisfied.

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        • matt picio March 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm

          Except that’s not Portland – that’s Clackamas County, and it’s not even them – it’s an ODOT project. Please lay the blame where the blame lies. (ditto for the credit) It’s not all Portland – there is biking outside of inner NE/SE.

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  • adamdoug2011 March 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    thanks for the round up, Elly, even though my comments are not always delivered with the correct tone, you know I appreciate the work ;)

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  • Duncan Idaho-Stop March 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Since some wiggle room is required for the argument that all bike infrastructure costs the same as one mile of freeway, why not frame it in this equally impressive way:

    All of Portland’s bike infrastructure costs the same as the cheapest possible 3 miles of freeway.

    That way there is no argument whatsoever about the figures, and it still illustrates how fiscally conservative bicycle transportation is.

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  • wsbob March 22, 2011 at 10:45 am

    From the Oregonian Politifact article:

    “…. Their source for that figure was the Rails to Trails Conservancy. That group published the figure in a 2008 report on transportation. We asked the Conservancy for their original source and they sent us a document that offers a considerably wider price range.

    According to that document the cost of freeways (in 2006 dollars) breaks down as such:

    -Rural areas: $3.1 million to $9.1 million per lane mile; $12.4 million to $36.4 million for a four-lane mile.
    -Urban areas: $4.9 miilion to $19.5 million per lane mile; $19.6 million to $78 million for a four lane mile.
    -Areas with severe restrictions: $16.8 million to $74.7 million per lane mile; $67.2 million to nearly $300 million for a four-lane mile. …”

    Is it roads allowing 55mph and above that are being referred to here? Adams is quoted in the Oregon Politifact article using the word ‘freeway’, which would most likely mean high speed roads such as I-405, I-5 and I-205 as they pass through Portland, rather than slower speed, high volume thoroughfares such as Foster Rd.

    Bike lanes and other bike infrastructure are probably going to be seen by most people as best usable when located on neighborhood and downtown streets. Maybe the comparison should have used the costs to construct a mile of those types of streets instead of freeways, a traffic situation most people probably wouldn’t choose to ride.

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    • El Biciclero March 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      The comparison is just between the cost of “car infrastructure” (and “freeways” are mostly exclusively used by cars) and “bike infrastructure”. It doesn’t matter where costly motor-worthy road construction takes place; they are comparing cost of one vs. cost of the other. It would be the same if someone compared the cost of running two (three?) wars vs. the cost of funding schools; we don’t assume they would build schools on battlefields, it is just dollars for one compared to dollars for the other.

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      • wsbob March 22, 2011 at 11:43 pm

        I just think it could have been more relevant and more of a ‘support bike infrastructure’ incentive to taxpayers hesitant to support bike infrastructure, if the comparison would have been between roads that are functional alternatives to those more or less allowing only exclusive motor vehicle use.

        What Adams used for a comparison in his quoted statement, is one of those ‘Gee Whiz !!’ factoid remarks that grabs people’s attention, and then has them turn away once they realize it doesn’t mean a heckuva lot, since there’s no way bike infrastructure such as bike lanes and multi-use paths can much substitute for, or offset the user travel needs burden that urban freeways are subject to.

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  • John Landolfe March 22, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Sorry to jump subjects but I have to nitpick another headline: “If walking up or down stairs is more dangerous than bicycling, asks a blogger, then why don’t we wear helmets?”

    I know BikePortland.org is too busy to fact check every OTHER blog but I myself was curious, so here’s what I found:

    The blogger updates his post with:
    “Some people in the comments are getting a bit too interested in exact statistics for how dangerous stairs are. Actually, this isn’t really the point. ” Yes, yes it is. That’s the only reason you cite “statistics”, dude.

    Since I know several people with bicycle-related injuries and only one with a stair related injury, my grandma, I’m guessing the problem with his statement was he wasn’t adjusting for demographics. So, no, we don’t have to feel like hypocrites for not wearing a helmet on the stairs–unless you’re over 70.

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  • 9watts March 23, 2011 at 7:29 am

    wsbob
    since there’s no way bike infrastructure such as bike lanes and multi-use paths can much substitute for, or offset the user travel needs burden that urban freeways are subject to.

    I guess it sort of depends on whether you take the short or the long view. In the long run I expect that bike infrastructure, or I should say biking will substitute/take over from the automobile. Over that time frame/with that in mind I think this comparison is fully justified. But I’ll admit that I doubt Sam Adams agrees with me that the time for cars is about up.
    The smartest thing, if we could figure out how to pull it off, would be to gradually peel away lane miles for cyclists as we run out of cheap oil and atmosphere and stable climate.

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    • wsbob March 23, 2011 at 11:00 am

      “… In the long run I expect that bike infrastructure, or I should say biking will substitute/take over from the automobile. Over that time frame/with that in mind I think this comparison is fully justified. …” 9watts

      Seriously…how is this going to work? How do you expect that biking could, or will take over the kind of traveling that freeways provide for? Peak hour congestion aside, during many hours of the day, freeways still provide for fast, long distance travel by motor vehicle that isn’t likely to ever be matched by bike travel.

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  • 9watts March 23, 2011 at 11:12 am

    wsbob
    Seriously…how is this going to work? How do you expect that biking could, or will take over the kind of traveling that freeways provide for? Peak hour congestion aside, during many hours of the day, freeways still provide for fast, long distance travel by motor vehicle that isn’t likely to ever be matched by bike travel.

    Like many things we’ve grown accustomed to over the 20th Century, freeway automobile travel is a brief digression in the history of human transport. It was made possible because of cheap petroleum which we know to be just about over, and so what I’m saying isn’t that bicycling will somehow rise to the occasion and meet the ‘demand’ for freeway travel we’re so familiar with, but rather that this way of organizing transport is very nearly obsolete and that we’ll figure out how to get along without it. But I also predict that we’ll discover that bikes and trailers and some bits of infrastructure to accommodate these will do a very nice job of meeting many of the less negotiable transport needs. The other historic alternatives, which our nostalgic attachment to the horse rings in our curbs remind us of, won’t in my view compete well with the bicycle.
    Freeways won’t survive Peak Oil.
    Bikes and all their derivatives will fill the physical and emotional voids left by the no longer viable automobile. Just wait.

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  • wsbob March 25, 2011 at 11:58 am

    “…freeway automobile travel is a brief digression in the history of human transport. …this way of organizing transport is very nearly obsolete and that we’ll figure out how to get along without it. …” 9watts

    Like how? The travel needs of people today far surpass those of people living before the advent of the automobile. In that respect, bikes and bike trailers cannot adequately replace cars.

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    • El Biciclero March 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      For one thing, we might be forced to conduct a re-evaluation of what a travel “need” really is. 9watts isn’t saying that bicycling will replace all current freeway travel, but that “we’ll figure out how to get along without [constant freeway travel in cars]“. Maybe trains would fill a large part of it. Maybe high quality video conferencing would replace part of it–who knows.
      I think the “way of organizing transport” mentioned refers to that which prioritizes private autos above (FAR above) all other modes of transport combined. It is time to bump a few of those “alternative” modes a few notches up the org chart.

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      • wsbob March 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm

        I’ll make this comment for 9watts’s March 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm too.

        The entire Metro area’s development is based on the flexible travel abilities enabled by the personal car (certainly for communities farther flung as well…the state, the region, the nation.) Because of travel abilities enabled by cars…and other motor vehicles too, though cars have been the key element….people routinely travel distances to work, school, medical care, play, that would be considered impractically far by other travel means such as by bike, or in some cases, even by mass transit.

        Transportation needs for livable communities could eventually be met by ways other than residents relying on personal cars to serve their travel needs, but accomplishing this is going to require way more than having residents get on a bike or mass transit.

        Peak oil isn’t going to make that much difference to travel practices, as long as modern society works on the idea that daily mass migrations are key to a happy existence. Business, with the help of engineers will continue to somehow devise other energy source to keep the cars selling and rolling.

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  • 9watts March 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    ‘travel needs’ are emergent and a function of a whole bunch of things like technology, land use planning, income distribution, etc. I am not arguing with you that ‘today we are, most of us, here in the US very used to the ability, at least in principle, of going anywhere, spontaneously, and quickly too.’ But there’s no rule that says this can, will, or should continue indefinitely. The decline in this particular form of ‘travel need’ has nothing whatsoever to do with bicycles and everything to do with Peak Oil and the inability of our atmosphere to take up any more CO2 at the rates we’re adding it, without the climate patterns going berserk.

    Travel needs, so defined, are not an independent variable in this complicated world of ours. They are entirely dependent on the ready availability of cheap petroleum derivatives everywhere. When this ceases, our so-called ‘travel needs,’ most of them, and certainly those we’ve been talking about, will go out the window quicker than you can say .

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  • 9watts March 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Peak Oil

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  • 9watts March 25, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    wsbob
    people routinely travel distances to work, school, medical care, play, that would be considered impractically far by other travel means such as by bike, or in some cases, even by mass transit.

    Yes and no. Many of those distances only seem to us too far to cover by bike because most of us are unused to traveling those distances that way. But there’s no rule of distance that precludes many of us from acquiring those habits. When I was a kid I biked 25 miles round trip to high school by bike every day. Seemed far to me, too, before I got in the habit. I know lots of folks around Portland commute even greater distances by bike every day. Is that for everyone? Probably not, but many commutes also aren’t that far right now, and with the gradual or rapid disappearance of the ubiquitous automobile those commutes would shrink.

    wsbob
    Peak oil isn’t going to make that much difference to travel practices, as long as modern society works on the idea that daily mass migrations are key to a happy existence. Business, with the help of engineers will continue to somehow devise other energy source to keep the cars selling and rolling.

    That, I’m afraid, is utter nonsense. Many of us (our elected officials who make decisions about the CRC, the heads of automobile companies, city planners, and most others too) act on and would like to continue believing in some version of this happy fiction, but there is no shred of evidence to support either claim. I say the sooner we stop believing in the fossil fuel fairy the better for all of us & the better for our infrastructure.

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    • wsbob March 26, 2011 at 11:12 am

      This thread’s disappearing into the archives soon … . Still … .

      “…people routinely travel distances to work, school, medical care, play, that would be considered impractically far by other travel means such as by bike, or in some cases, even by mass transit. ”

      “Yes and no. Many of those distances only seem to us too far to cover by bike because most of us are unused to traveling those distances that way. ” 9watts

      There’s no ‘yes and no’ about it. Those distances don’t just seem too far to cover by bike…they are too far. People in general just aren’t going to be able to follow the model of the hardy utilitarian commuter cyclist. Advanced age and infirmity are just two reasons why this is so. There are numerous others.

      “… Peak oil isn’t going to make that much difference to travel practices, as long as modern society works on the idea that daily mass migrations are key to a happy existence. Business, with the help of engineers will continue to somehow devise other energy source to keep the cars selling and rolling. …” wsbob

      “… That, I’m afraid, is utter nonsense. …” 9watts

      I wish it were nonsense. I wish people would stop driving so much, or at least didn’t have to drive so much…but they probably will continue to have do exactly that for quite some time to come. A big reason for this, as I alluded to in my remark, is that travel means money. Money to be made by somebody or something. Alternative travel fuel or energy sources for cars will be devised so this money can be made. It might not be fossil fuel, but there will be something devised.

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  • 9watts March 26, 2011 at 11:40 am

    wsbob
    “There’s no ‘yes and no’ about it. Those distances don’t just seem too far to cover by bike…they are too far. People in general just aren’t going to be able to follow the model of the hardy utilitarian commuter cyclist. Advanced age and infirmity are just two reasons why this is so. There are numerous others.”

    Except that just yesterday I passed a older man biking along with one leg. He had stowed his crutches neatly on his bike. I was incredibly impressed. Others who are old or have physical impairments or who fit both categories are seen biking around Portland every day. These old and disabled people who bike to get around put a lie to this all too common notion that ‘biking just isn’t physically possible for me, because I’m too old or I’m too infirm, or….’ That is all too often nothing more than a cultural excuse for not giving it any serious consideration, a way of obscuring the fact that this just isn’t something they have tried, much less had a chance to grow comfortable with, and they can count on most of their peers to affirm this attitude. The persistence of cheap gasoline, of course, undergirds such statements, but not for long.

    “Alternative travel fuel or energy sources for cars will be devised so this money can be made. It might not be fossil fuel, but there will be something devised.”

    That is called wishful thinking. I see no evidence of this. Electrically powered cars and biofuels are both desperate attempts to rescue a technology that the earth cannot support any longer. Neither have any prospect of picking up where gasoline leaves off (but they will permit the rich to keep going like this for a while).

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    • wsbob March 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      Weren’t you talking about bikes replacing car for travel needs, rather than whether or not one-legged guys and other people with various disabilities can ride a bike? That’s what I thought you were talking about.

      So here’s a hypothetical situation to consider: I’ll just pick a number…Sixty Percent…on any given day, of the people on Hwy 26traveling between Portland and Beaverton/Hillsboro; Do you have some idea (whatever number of people is represented by that Sixty Percent.), that those people could realistically and practically be making that trip by bike instead? These people making up this Sixty Percent sample group would represent the full range of types of people that travel by car.

      So you don’t think alternative energy sources, adequate to replace gasoline powered vehicles will happen? Maybe you’re right…probably not. The point, is that many, many people are concentrating very hard to do exactly that, or the closest thing to it that answer peoples travel needs, because that’s where the money is. They will come up with something. Might involve some adjustments. Probably will.

      Assuming they can’t, will an inability to come up with an energy source allowing a direct transfer from gasoline to…whatever…lead to a situation where sixty percent or so of the driving public changes from cars to bikes? Highly unlikely….unless…community planning were to change dramatically in order to support practical use of that mode of travel.

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  • 9watts March 26, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    We should probably take this offline…

    (1) I followed your lead on the ostensible barriers to our fellow humans bicycling further regularly than they are accustomed to.
    (2) According to the film The Power of Community, Cubans weren’t that into bikes either once the Soviets stopped sending oil, but they figured it out.

    http://survival.50webs.org/pdfs_transport/cycling_in_havana.pdf
    “In the wake of this transportation crisis has come a huge increase in bicycles. In 1990, Habaneros used their roughly 70,000 bicycles mostly for recreation and sport. By 1993, Havana had 700,000 bicycles and 1000 cargo tricycles, mostly purchased from China. Today, bicycles are used mainly for commuting. Unlike in China, though, Cuba has not had a bicycle culture. No road space had been dedicated to non-motorized vehicles before the ‘Special Period,’ nor were there traffic signs or data.”

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    • wsbob March 27, 2011 at 12:51 am

      You can try start a discussion about this in the forums if you want. If I understand correctly, maus is paying money to keep the forums open, and not many people are actively using it. As you can see though, most recently, it’s just you and I that have been working to bring up various points on this subject, so it’s hard to anticipate you’ll find a lot of interest in the subject from people checking out the forums. Maybe though.

      Bike Forums has quite an active, generally civil and constructive ‘Advocacy and Safety’ forum. For some reason, discussion hasn’t taken off in bikeportland’s forum like it has at Bike Forums.

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