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The Monday Roundup

Posted by on September 19th, 2011 at 9:55 am

Here’s are some of the stories and other interesting bits that caught my eye this past week…

— As people in Seattle who care about road safety continue to cope with a tragic spate of fatal bike collisions, one alt weekly responded with a compelling manifesto, OK Fine, It’s War. Here’s a snip:

“The mindless repetition of this “War on Cars” falsehood—by car advocates harboring a phony, self-serving sense of victimhood—has led to a situation in which this “War on Cars” is acknowledged by most Seattleites to be real. Because of this regrettable specter, it is high time that cyclists, pedestrians, and their transit-­riding comrades openly publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of a “War on Cars” with a manifesto of and by the nondrivers themselves.”

— The New York Times says the war on the streets in Copenhagen is between people on bikes and people on foot (look for that column to stoke yet another anti-bike controversy in the Big Apple).

— Sick of getting wet when you ride or schlepping rain gear? Check out the nifty “Rainfish” invention from Hood River.

— In Minneapolis — the city that dethroned Portland as Bicycling Mag’s #1 Bike City — has got a little bike PR problem too. A full-time city bike coordinator position came under fire from a public who juxtaposed the hire against layoffs in the fire department.

— The “Regular people on regular bikes wearing regular clothes,” revolution has taken off in Fairhope, Alabama.

— Speaking of taking off, check out this spectacular crash during the Starcrossed cyclocross race up in Seattle over the weekend.

Sightline reports that gas consumption in the Northwest has been stalled out since 1999.

— 52-year-old international bike racing legend Jeannie Longo is pedaling away from doping allegations.

— Not everyone in New York City is bullish on bicycling, New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo is the latest to pen an angry screed at that city’s cycling progress. He frames spending on bicycling against spending on cops to keep kids safe on the streets (sounds familiar to the Portland Mercury’s “Blood in the bike lanes” messaging).

— After a man caught an assault on video, a Washington D.C. based advocacy group has launched anti-assault legislation that would, “create a civil right of action available to bicyclists suffering intentional assault, threat, harassment, or injury due to the bicyclist’s inherent vulnerable status vis-à-vis motor vehicles on the roadway…”

— Interbike, America’s largest bike show, wrapped up in Vegas last week and what did the local paper report on? E-bikes.

— With election season heating up, the SF Bicycle Coalition has released their list of preferred candidates. Here in Portland, the BTA’s organizational structure doesn’t allow them to weigh in on candidates, but fortunately a dormant group called Bike Walk Vote is ramping up. Stay tuned.

— Get ready for bicycling to hit theaters across America in a big way. Premium Rush is a new movie set for release early 2012 that stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike messenger in New York City. The buzz (which you’ll notice includes a Potland-specific reference) is already happening and the trailer is worth a watch…

— Fixies might be all-the-rage in American cities, but in China there’s news that regular everyday city bikes are (finally!) making a comeback.

— How did the police department of Milwaukee, Wisconsin react after four bike patrol officers were hit by someone operating a car in the span of just a few weeks? They’ll spend $10,000 on a new “LED safety light system” that will be mounted on all 87 bikes in the department.

— Author, businesswoman and former City of Portland bicycle coordinator Mia Birk wrote a solid piece in the Portland Tribune about why people on bikes break traffic laws and what to do about it. Now that’s how to frame/justify/make the case for bike-related spending and infrastructure improvements. I hope everyone at PBOT and City Hall take note.

— Speaking of things I wish we’d do here… The State of Massachusetts has asked all residents to participate in Car-Free Week, which is run out of an official initiative called GreenDOT.

— And finally today I share this amazing security cam video of a Cadillac that rammed through a bike shop in Mission Viejo California last week, narrowly missing several customers…

Come across interesting stories you’d like to see here on the Monday Roundup? Send them in.

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  • 9watts September 19, 2011 at 11:03 am

    about the Cadillac that rammed through a bike shop… One wonders if the fine for destroying the bike shop will be higher than if he’d killed someone?

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  • Randall S. September 19, 2011 at 11:12 am

    FYI: Nobody takes the Post seriously. It’s basically the Fox News of newspapers.

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  • Nick V September 19, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I might have gotten stuck on my high horse, BUT……

    1) Regarding the Seattle bike manifesto, “war” is a term to avoid when discussing bikes and cars since cars are faster, bigger, and heavier. A “discussion”, much like the one Mia Birk wrote for the Tribune, better serves cyclists’ needs.

    2) After watching that bike trailer, I have to wonder if non-cyclists will leave theaters after that movie thinking that cyclists are hipper-than-thou, throw caution to the wind, me-and-my-destination-first, mirror-bashing punks. Just sayin’……

    3) I went to the link which put up that security cam video and read that the driver was “elderly”. I plan on shredding my driver’s license by age sixty at the latest, and I really wish that there was a law requiring people 60 and over to go through driver’s testing EACH YEAR. No offense to anyone older than me, but whenever I see scenarios like this, it’s normally caused by an elderly driver who mistook the gas for the brake, had trouble seeing, etc.

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    • wsbob September 19, 2011 at 11:54 am

      “…I really wish that there was a law requiring people 60 and over to go through driver’s testing EACH YEAR. …” Nick V

      Perhaps you also wish there was a law requiring people with driver’s licenses 30 and under “… to go through driver’s testing EACH YEAR. …”, given that many people in that age category have their own age associated characteristics, such as maturity and disposition not yet fully developed, that lead to dangerous operation of motor vehicles.

      Perhaps you’re willing to pay additional taxes to cover the expense of an increase in the frequency for driver testing to have certain age groups tested on a yearly basis. Or perhaps you’d be content to simply shift that expense to the people that would be subject to the testing you propose, possibly making the testing prohibitively expensive to the point the people required to be tested couldn’t pay.

      Not that I don’t think people should possibly be tested more frequently for their physical and mental competency to operate a motor vehicle in traffic; it probably would be good if people were. Conditions and tendencies towards mental and physical instability affecting motor vehicle operation enter into age groups other than the over 60 group.

      Rather, I’m inclined to think that members of the public calling for more frequent driver testing upon having read sensational reports of a driver crashing through a store window and the like, wouldn’t really be willing to shoulder the burden of the expense and inconvenience that increased testing would result in. Nor would they likely be willing to apply testing requirements in a way that wouldn’t unfairly stigmatize certain age groups over others.

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      • Nick V September 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

        You raise good points, Bob, and I might be generalizing too much. But I’m only speaking from my own past experience and near misses. I voiced this same opinion to my 70-year-old father who also happens to take unnecessary and frightening risks behind the wheel no matter who is in the car with him. He was not pleased.

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        • wsbob September 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

          “…I voiced this same opinion to my 70-year-old father who also happens to take unnecessary and frightening risks behind the wheel no matter who is in the car with him. …” Nick V

          It can be a tough call, because not just a few drivers are bad drivers, simply because they never were really cut out to be good drivers. I don’t know your dad, or what kind of driver he’s been throughout his life, why he’s taking risks as you’ve noticed him taking, or whether risks he may be taking are related to aging rather than other possible issues; for example…emotional distress, nutritional imbalance, substance abuse. It’s worth encouraging him to check with his doctor about.

          JJJ down the thread a bit wants to believe I propose that everybody be treated equally because. Read Paul Hanrahan’s comment just below JJJ’s. Do a search of statistics from insurance companies related to incidence of traffic incidents and rates for the under 30 age group of drivers.

          Competence to operate a vehicle in traffic on the road is the basic principle to be addressed. There are significant age related issues affecting driving in both early and advanced age groups that the public might benefit from having greater attentions directed towards.

          It’s not necessarily true either that people become better drivers as they mature from age 16 to 30 or 50. What can likely be said to be true, is that people from those age groups don’t experience the same rate of reflex and sensory deterioration as people from say…70 plus age groups do. I think the public would strongly debate whether those things alone constitute the difference between a person being able to be a good, competent driver, and a bad, incompetent driver.

          I’m just going to guess here, without doing any research to locate facts I think exist in plenty to support the suggestion, that generally, as people age, they drive more conservatively, more cautiously, and possibly fewer miles per year. In other words, some diminution in physical and sensory ability that people may experience as they age past 60, is often balanced out by an increase in caution and care used as part of the driving they do.

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    • Otto September 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      Drivers under age 60 never get in accidents or do anything stupid in their cars? Just say no to ageism. By the way, it’s posts like yours that make cyclists look bad.

      It takes no moral courage at all to say you’ll “shred your drivers license when you’re 60″ when you’re still young and you have no idea what your circumstances will be by then. You certainly have no idea what another persons circumstances will be by 60 so you should just speak for yourself.

      Your point is practically moot anyway because of the numerical advantage boomers will have with the vote… another reason for cyclists to avoid pissing them off with comments like yours.

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      • 9watts September 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm

        boomers don’t bike? Huh?

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    • captainkarma September 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      I’ll take that bet! What date do you turn 60? You think it is in some far off fairyland or another dimension. I’ll bet you the price of a senior-citizen future trike bike that they will have to pull that license out of your cold, dead hand at about age 80.

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    • Spiffy September 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      a ex cow-orker of mine once mistook the gas for the brake… she wasn’t old, she was pregnant… totally my car and made some nice tire marks on the landscaping outside the office…

      yes, people should be tested for knowledge and skill a lot more often, and yes the drivers should pay for it, just like they should pay for the roads they use…

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  • 9watts September 19, 2011 at 11:20 am

    “it’s normally caused by an elderly driver who mistook the gas for the brake, had trouble seeing, etc.”

    not to mention that some elderly folks in this country drive those behemoth Cadillacs. In Europe the elderly if they drive at all often stick to the tiny cars. I’ve never seen one of those tiny-blue-haired-can-hardly-peek-over-the-steering-wheel-ladies driving over there.

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  • Paul Hanrahan September 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    The most dangerous group of drivers is still the young ones, 16-24, if I recall correctly.
    just sayin’

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    • Spiffy September 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      you’re right…

      it’s because there’s a lot of them and they’re inexperienced…

      the old people are dangerous, they just die off so there are fewer of them… they’re the next most dangerous group…

      more testing for all groups!

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  • JJJ September 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    That bike movie = recipe for biklash

    wsbob falls into the trap that everyone should always be treated equally, just because.

    You know what the difference between 18-30 year olds and 60-80 year olds is?

    The first group generally gets BETTER at driving every year.

    The second group gets worse. Further, someone who is 70 and has driven for 50 years THINKS they’re perfect (“ive been driving for 50 years and have never crashed!), but they dont realize that in the past 8 months their eyesite has declined rapidly, and reaction times have tripled.

    Thats the difference. And thats why the older you get, the more frequent testing should be

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  • Mike Fish September 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    That movie looks silly!

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  • Atbman September 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    JJJ
    That bike movie = recipe for biklash
    wsbob falls into the trap that everyone should always be treated equally, just because.
    You know what the difference between 18-30 year olds and 60-80 year olds is?
    The first group generally gets BETTER at driving every year.
    The second group gets worse. Further, someone who is 70 and has driven for 50 years THINKS they’re perfect (“ive been driving for 50 years and have never crashed!), but they dont realize that in the past 8 months their eyesite has declined rapidly, and reaction times have tripled.
    Thats the difference. And thats why the older you get, the more frequent testing should be

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    Let me see now. I’m 71 and, yes, I’ve been driving for umpteen years (m/cycle ’61-85 and cars/vans, etc., since ’67). In the last 8 months, my eyesight (long vision) has improved slightly (not uncommon) and my reflexes have, probably, got slightly slower.

    Fortunately, I don’t drive in a way which requires my reflexes to be lightning fast – I leave that to the 16-25 age group. As for accidents, well, I have had one collision – wing mirrors on a narrow, parked car street. The other, young, driver was clearly unjustifiably confident of her reflexes and width judgement. Sadly, she was about 4 feet from her line of parked cars, whereas I was about a foot from mine.

    On the other hand, the only time I’ve ever been knocked off my bike the driver was about 40. Of my near collisions on the bike, by far the majority were caused by younger drivers demonstrating the impatience and poor judgement which is statisitically more probable with them.

    I’ve no doubt that it is likely that there will come a time when age will cloud my ability to drive safely. I may also be in denial of that fact but I will have to wait and see if that’s the case. Of course, such a decline may occur fairly rapidly, just after I’ve passed my decrepid old beggar’s test. How about testing every 6, 5, 4, 3 months, just in case?

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  • Joe Wachunas September 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Where do I get more info on the rainfish? I can’t find a website anywhere for them.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      Hey Joe,

      the guy that’s developing the Rainfish doesn’t have a website yet. He’s really just in concept stages. I’m in contact with him and stay tuned for a Front Page post. He’d like to get more feedback from the community about the idea.

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      • Joe Wachunas September 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm

        Great! Look forward to seeing the finished product and reading your review Jonathan. If it holds up against wind and keeps you dry and is easy to put on and take off I think there would be a huge market for it.

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  • Kristen September 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    One cannot say that all drivers over a certain age need to be tested more frequently– I would say that all drivers, regardless of age, should be re-tested more frequently than they are. Currently, you aren’t required to take either the written or practical test again unless you fall into a risk-group (i.e. doctor says you have to).

    Besides, the most typical thing you hear about older drivers’ car crashes is illustrated by the following story:

    My older-than-me co-worker’s husband recently hit a tree in a parking lot. He had pulled into a spot at the local dog park, and was stationary but had not turned off his truck. Then his foot slipped of the brake and onto the gas, and he “got confused” and mashed the pedal down thinking he was still on the brake. He jumped the curb, rammed a tree and totaled his truck. Luckily, he and the dog were ok.

    Plural of anecdote is not data, but it seems like this happens a lot more frequently than it should.

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  • Dabby September 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Premium Rush is going to certainly bring a rash of scofflaws wanting to be messengers (again), and riding like they are messengers (in the movie) until they get a job as one.
    Then they generally will realize it is hard work and quit.

    But the backlash will still come.

    All, due to the trickle down theory, at the expense of the honorable profession of Bicycle Messaging…..

    Thank You Hollywood.

    For nothing…

    (Yeah, I know, I am going to watch it anyway, I have friends that are in it)
    But I am going to complain the WHOLE TIME!

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    • wsbob September 20, 2011 at 12:14 am

      “…the honorable profession of Bicycle Messaging….. …” Dabby

      It’s an honorable profession. Some people probably will be inspired by Hollywood movies to try fantasy ride like bike messengers. They ain’t none of them though, gonna top Queen Latifa’s character Bell William’s tricks in the opening sequence of ‘Taxi’.

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    • Hart Noecker September 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm

      It’s a movie, it’s not real. Premium Rush will endorse dangerous riding no more than Top Gun endorsed dangerous piloting or Titanic endorsed dangerous navigation.

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      • justin September 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

        Maybe. Or it can endorse dangerous riding the way Fast and Furious endorsed street racing:
        http://tinyurl.com/43mcrmy

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      • Dabby September 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

        Sorry Hart but I think you are wrong….

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  • captainkarma September 19, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    For some reason, i never worry about esteemed senior compatriots crashing into me and killing me when they do these “hit the wall” things. Probably because they *rarely* happen, but get way too much press when they do. In fact as a kid, I remember when someone crashed into the wall of a grocery store I was in. I wasn’t even close to being hurt.

    No, I worry very much more about some punk in his over-powered Japanese “race” car on the west side trying to show his (what?) Machismo? Skill? Ability to kill innocent pedestrains while wasted on who knows what? How old was *that* dude?

    I used to like to ride late nights until I found out through alcohol and drug addiction recovery training that probbly 50% of drivers on the road after midnight are impaired if not outright drunk or stoned. And under 35, because over that they are dead or in prison.

    I took my pilot training from a retired Air Force general in his 70s. When I first met him as my instructor, I was freaking out because he was so “old”. Turns out he had flown everything from Stearman biplanes to an F-16. Taught me how to strafe trains, haha. I felt FAR more comfortable flying with him than some 25 year old hot-shot topgun hotdog. Age is not a disqualifier. Pilots are trained, tested, and medically checked at least every two years. Maybe thats how it should be for drivers.

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    • GlowBoy September 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      Unintended acceleration incidents involving seniors are actually quite common. They happen almost every single day somewhere in America, and usually don’t make the headlines (unless it’s early 2010, and it involves a Prius or ES300 which may or may not have had its gas pedal stuck under the floormat).

      I personally have witnessed two of these incidents over the years, one in which I was rear-ended (in my car) and injured. So I DO worry about them.

      I agree that people shouldn’t just stop driving at a certain age, but they should be required to periodically recertify at some point. Of course with the Boomers now starting to enter the senior ranks, good luck getting that change passed. Too bad people don’t think about NOT DRIVING as part of their retirement plan: my own plan includes living in a place where I don’t have to drive.

      I also agree with you about the dangers of riding late at night because a huge share of the driving population is impaired.

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  • Ted Buehler September 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Drugs overtake cars as the #1 cause of preventable death in the US.

    http://www.latimes.com/health/la-me-drugs-epidemic-20110918,0,3886090.story

    (also in The Oregonian paper edition).

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    • 9watts September 20, 2011 at 8:51 am

      The ‘good’ thing about the car-addiction is that the habit will get kicked for us by Peak Oil, Climate Change, and related calamities. I’m not sure the same can be said/expected for prescription medications or other drugs.

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  • Seager September 19, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I like Mia’s article a lot, and I had read it earier in Momentum, but it leaves out WHY people on bikes break the law. It’s not because they are lazy, it’s because we are part of a disenfranchised population. Here is the comment I left on the story:

    I think a lot of the \”scofflaw\” attitudes that people on bikes may adopt is because they know they are part of a disenfranchised population. They know that in Oregon hitting a car or pedestrian with a car is a criminal crime, but hitting a person on bike is only a civil crime (a change that happened in the 70′s). They know that if a car driver kills a biker all they have to say is \”I didn’t see them\” and they will get off without even a ticket. They know that people in cars can harassed and yell at them, and that if they retaliate they will be the ones being arrested (I can cite all these with news stories in Oregon if needed.)

    So, lets think about the victim mentality. People on bikes know that the law is against them, that they are not protected, and that when they get on their bike they are less-than-human in the eyes of the law. They know that starting at a green light at the same time as cars is less safe then if they start a little early and get up to speed before the cars. They’re safety is in their own hands, they aren’t protected by the law. What motivation, then, do they have to follow the laws?

    Personally, I follow the laws because I agree that we need to change public perception. However, until killing a person with on a bike is a REAL PUNISHED crime, and harassing a cyclist is punished as well, we can’t expect many cyclist to \”turn the other cheek\” like you are asking.”

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    • wsbob September 20, 2011 at 12:23 am

      Mia’s article in the Tribune was o.k. It winds up though, in being more of a plea to the relative few of both motor vehicle and bike road users that aren’t, to start acting as though they give a d^#n about each other’s welfare.

      She’s even written up individualized pledges for members of each group to read and think about, that has them promising to stop screwing up road conditions for each other. If those people would stop screwing up road conditions for each other, the rest of us trying to get down the road would have a lot easier time of it.

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  • Spiffy September 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Premium Rush = Bicyclists are the new anti-terror squad, don’t fvck with them…

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    • Hart Noecker September 20, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      And nobody can tell me they didn’t smile when the girl busts the cars mirror off with the chain ;)

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  • captainkarma September 21, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Fairhope: slow bikes. Yeah well its too flippin’ hot & f-muggy there to do anything BUT go slow. I used to live right near there, awesome, most enlightened town in Alabama, which is way not saying much. Before you complain about ANYthing up here in PDX, I can tell you that we score very high on almost ALL quality of life issues, and Alabama, 49th out of 50 bad everything, with only Misseryssippi coming in worse at #50. In fact I hardly EVER rode down there it sucked so bad. Had my bike stolen by a crack head and didn’t bother replacing it because I didn’t want to die in Alabama. DO NOT WHINE. Maybe I did die and don’t know it, because PDX sure seems like heaven to me!

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