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The Monday Roundup

Posted by on November 19th, 2012 at 9:46 am

“[Mayor of Toronto] Rob Ford… told the Toronto Sun he “listened to the taxpayers and [did] what they wanted me to do.”
— blogTO on the removal of Jarvis St. bike lanes.

— Like them or not, each week it seems like there are more signs that e-bikes are gaining a serious foothold in the U.S. bike market. Bicycle Retailer reports that NuVinci is so bullish on e-bikes that they’re positioning their new Harmony auto-shifting hub as a perfect complement.

— Repeat after me: Mandatory, all-ages helmet laws are a bad idea. File away this first-person account of a woman in Australia who got her license suspended, her property impounded, and was treated like a criminal for not wearing one. The saga spurred her to say, “The only proven thing helmets protect us from are fines.”

— If you thought bike-friendly housing was a Portland thing. Think again. The Denver Post reports that bike repair rooms are popping up in apartment complexes in Denver too.

— Despite valiant protests to stop city crews from ripping them out, the bike lanes on Jarvis Street in Toronto are gone. In their place? Metered auto-parking. Could this, would this happen elsewhere? Are their any bikeways you feel strongly enough about that you’d get arrested for?

— Portland is full of bicycle talent. Check out what noted blogger John Prolly has to say about his new, carbon-fiber Argonaut road bike — made locally by Ben Farver.

— Has Amsterdam reached peak bike? An article published by Agence France-Presse features officials from Amsterdam saying that the city has become overrun with bicycles and that it’s become “dangerous,” “a mad house” and a “big problem.”

— And more from our cycling idols… Copenhagenize points out that the mayor of Copenhagen has overseen some car-centric policies of late and has earned the nickname “the Lord Mayor of Car-penhagen.”

— With so many people catching the cargo bike bug around here and around the country, Lovely Bicycle’s post, “When do we need a cargo bike?” was very well timed.

— And still more bike stories from Sandy, the NY Times reports that Citbike bike share equipment was damaged by the flooding.

— In the debate over which vehicles we should promote and design our streets for, leaders, planners and the public often lose sight of just how damaging motor vehicles are to the health of our natural environment. Check out this post and video from Sightline that documents stormwater runoff from a street near Alki Beach in Seattle. Yuck. Please drive less.

— Wondering why there’s so much focus on “women on bikes” these days? Here’s a review of City Cycling, a new book by Rutgers University researcher John Pucher,x who is one of the people largely credited with opening eyes to the cycling gender gap.

— If you missed Ian Karmel’s “Portland as Fuck” screed in the Portland Mercury, it’s worth a read (and so are the hilarious comments).

— We don’t hear much about Philadelphia when the big bike cities are being discussed; but a newly passed “complete streets” bill — which includes new laws against dooring — might help move things forward.

— Freakonomics tried to prove that driving is more environmentally friendly than taking the bus; but then Streetsblog pretty much destroyed their argument.

— In the UK, a new study shows what I believe to be an increasingly important concept for politicians, planners and advocates to understand: People that primarily drive in cities actually want more dedicated bicycle infrastructure.

— There’s a lot of talk about who President Obama will pick to replace outgoing US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. Governing has a good run-down of possible candidates.

— And last but not least today… The perfect holiday gift for the bike lover on your list: Bicycle taxidermy.

And now, two videos worth your attention:

Official BikeCraft event promo (the big event is December 1-2!):

Bike Craft 2012 from Filmed by Bike on Vimeo.

And our friends in Eugene, the MacRhodes family, have put together this fantastic video of biking with their little ones:

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  • Al from PA November 19, 2012 at 10:26 am

    The article on Amsterdam is interesting–

    The big problems in Amsterdam:

    Abandoned bikes. Eyesores everywhere, rusting, getting in people’s way, vandalized. All they need to do is send out city sanitation workers to bust the locks and cart them away–to the dump or wherever. At this point, after so many years of seeming neglect, it will be a Herculean task. In some places there’s one open space to 3 or 4 abandoned bikes. When I see this I think that people don’t respect bikes enough. When bikes “win” they’re no longer “cool,” they move to the status of taken-for-granted object, and no one seems to care if their carcasses litter the landscape. They’re invisible.

    Mopeds. For some reason they allow motorbikes on bike lanes if (I think) they have under a 50cc motor (blue license plate). They can zip through traffic faster if they’re in with the bikes. But they’re in practice just as fast as cars, and a real hazard. I couldn’t believe the passivity of cyclists before this menace. It seems that’s changing, though. (Is this the future of e-bikes?)

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    • Chris I November 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

      That article is complete garbage. The author apparently doesn’t understand anything about cycling, and didn’t do a whole lot of research.

      I agree with you on those two points, though. Those are the biggest problems. I was buzzed by several mopeds, one came within inches of my handlebars while passing at about 30mph. It is unbelievable that they allow this behavior to occur.

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    • Chris November 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

      The mopeds in the bike lanes is crazy. I was amazed they condone this act. It is very dangerous.

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    • wsbob November 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      “…All they need to do is send out city sanitation workers to bust the locks and cart them away–to the dump or wherever. At this point, after so many years of seeming neglect, it will be a Herculean task. …” Al from PA

      Seems like a great, potentially legal opportunity for people that otherwise steal bikes, metal, and other things. Maybe officials could somehow work out an arrangement with independent contractors, as seems to me done here in the Beaverton and Portland with abandoned or neglected cars: After a period of time, the City tags the vehicle, and a tow operator hauls them away.

      I suppose though, with unregistered/plated bikes, a remedy like that comes to the problem of how to be certain the bike that’s been tagged really is abandoned, and not just opportunistically tagged by a thief.

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      • q`Tzal November 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

        Parking enforcement goes by daily and applies a thin braided steel cable to the frame (of obviously abandoned bikes) with an attached weather proof tag that display the following items:
        (1) official notice that this bicycle has been registered as an abandoned bicycle
        (2) contact information to dispute this (maybe your employer has no indoor bike storage)
        (3) on the back a QR code (because it is essentially open source and thus implementation is free) that represents a randomly generated encrypted ID code that references a database that only parking enforcement have access to. The database of would include a physical description of the bicycle in question, maybe even a photo, to reduce abuse and false positives.

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        • John Lascurettes November 23, 2012 at 11:48 am

          Pretty sure this is exactly how Portland parking enforcement handles it. I’ve seen two bikes near my work get green tagged before being cut loose and freed. Ironically, it wasn’t until one of these bikes got tagged that it almost immediately lost it’s fenders, seat, etc.

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  • Max D November 19, 2012 at 11:05 am

    How is mandatory bike helmets for bike riders different from requiring helmets for motorcycles, or seat belts for people in cars, or car seats? These things protect individuals from injuries and protect society from the burden of caring for people with head injuries.

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    • 9watts November 19, 2012 at 11:44 am

      One way I think they are different is that seatbelts protect the wearer from injuries and/or death typically caused by speed and risks emanating from the car itself. A bike helmet, as I’ve understood it, statistically seems more likely to protect the wearer from the seatbelt-equipped objects rather than something inherent to the bicycle. Not that there aren’t single vehicle crashes where a helmet also does some good, but the experience in the Netherlands, where basically no one wears a helmet and the injury and death rates for those riding bikes are miniscule compared to ours here in the US suggests there’s something to this.

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    • Pete November 19, 2012 at 11:50 am

      Moto helmets are NOT the styrofoam we call bike helmets. Seat belts are an entirely different beast – when I was young voters repealed mandatory seat belt laws three times in my state before the insurance industry lobbied the federal gov’t to withhold funding for states without these laws. I personally choose to wear a helmet when I ride, but I certainly don’t want to see bicycling become as regulated as the auto industry.

      Also, given what I’ve seen in my ER, I’m guessing society’s cost of caring for head injuries is insignificant compared to the costs of obesity and alcohol/drug abuse.

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      • Chris November 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        I also agree it should be an individual choice for adults, but to be clear, moto helmets use EPS foam just like most bike helmets. The EPS is however thicker in moto helmets.

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    • wsbob November 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      There are numerous basic differences between transportation modes that bikes, motorcycles and motor vehicle are, that make a case for mandatory use of helmets for motorcycles and seat-belts for motor vehicle, but not necessarily for bicycle use.

      To me, 16 and under, or maybe…14 under mandatory bicycle helmet use laws seem reasonable, but not all ages bicycle helmet use laws. Why it is that Australia came to enact an all ages mandatory bicycle helmet use law, and why it continues to have such a law, is a story I’ve never run across, even having done a fair bit of online searching. If the New South Wales blog writer, Sue Abbott tells that story somewhere on her blog, I haven’t found it yet.

      http://freedomcyclist.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/stand-against-helmet-hubris-no-brainer.html

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    • Spiffy November 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      motor vehicles kill their operators… not so much with bicycles…

      what other things do we do where we wear protective gear to protect us from dangers external to what we’re doing?

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    • My Magic Hat November 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Max, don’t overlook where this story takes place.

      When it comes to bike safety, Australia tends to be the leading example of what NOT to do. This is the same country where a renowned Professional Lawn-Bowler (you read that right) attacked a cyclist in traffic and was applauded for it. And it also happens to be a country where, as a car driver, you are allowed to fling your door open into traffic to maim a passing cyclist, and the Cyclist gets the ticket – assuming they survive their injuries (I swear to God, I’m not making this up). So much for protecting society.

      Obsessing over helmets is horrible misdirection away from things that are actual safety concerns. It’s a lot like having a flooded basement and telling your kids that they have to wear hip-waders if they want to go down there, and then doing nothing about the flood itself. Short sighted? Yes. Effective? Maybe, if you just don’t want anyone to go there. Stupid? Absolutely. Your kid’s aren’t any less likely to drown in hip-waders, so just fix the goddamn leak already.

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      • JAT in Seattle November 20, 2012 at 9:11 am

        renowned professional lawn bowler?… I hate to disabuse you, and yes lawn bowling is popular in Australia (amongst the retired set), but Shane Warne, the bowler in question is a cricketer, a fast bowler – the equivalent of a power pitcher in baseball.

        Sue Abbott fancies herself the Gandhi of helmet laws, the more preposterous her treatment by the authorities the more it suits her purposes.

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  • Dave November 19, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Re Amsterdam–We should be so fucking lucky!

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  • Pete November 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Thanks for Prolly link… now I’ll *never* get anything done at work!!!

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  • dwainedibbly November 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    The MacRhodes family video gives me confidence that there is hope for Humanity. Thanks for the post!

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  • Spiffy November 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    (and so are the hilarious comments)

    sarcasm noted…

    the only thing hilarious in those comments were how much they reminded me of OregonLive comments…

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  • Aaron November 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Sooo… The writer in Australia broke the law on purpose and is annoyed about the consequences? Boo f-in hoo.

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  • GlowBoy November 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    So true, Spiffy. I found way too many of the comments disturbing and not at all hilarious. Usually from a Merc story on biking I expect a few jerkoffs, but only a few. he number of biking-hostile comments is pretty high on this one. Makes me wonder if a link to the article from somewhere else has attracted a higher than usual number of cyclist haters to comment.

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  • John Lascurettes November 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Regarding the list of top candidates for the new Transpo Secretary, I’d love to se our beloved Blumenhauer get the post – but then, I’d simultaneously hate to lose him as an effective Representative in Congress.

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