Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on November 18th, 2013 at 9:10 am
Here’s the bike-related news from around the world that caught our eyes this week:
Child killed: The parents of a 3-year-old New York girl killed by a man who rolled his SUV over her in a crosswalk (and then received two traffic tickets for doing so) spend four minutes giving the most persuasive and heartbreaking speech I’ve ever seen about the misplaced priorities of American streets. It’s wrenching, and also motivating.
Bike mystery solved: Seattle’s KOMO-TV has tracked down the 50-year-old origin of a child’s bicycle that was carried into the air, swallowed by a tree and transformed into a minor tourist attraction.
Lego bikeway: Not ready to build permanent protected bike lanes in your city? Web publisher and urban design consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen has officially moved into hardware: his new product, the Copenhagenize Flow, is a modular, temporary elevated bikeway made from recycled plastic and wood that costs about $100,000 per kilometer, a tenth the price of the real thing.
Typhoon scouts: Philippine recovery workers are using scouts on bikes to assess the catastrophic damage of Typhoon Haiyan.
Who needs stoplights? Signalized intersections are “less a way of increasing safety than a way of maximizing the value of vehicles with high top speeds … a kind of backdoor subsidy to automobile ownership,” writes Matt Yglesias, who argues that stoplights are unnecessary at busy intersections.
Hit and run penalty: After a string of hit-and-runs, Ireland is considering upping its penalty for leaving the scene of a crash from six months in jail to up to 10 years in prison in the case of a fatality.
London protest: After seeing five bike-related fatalities in nine days, Londoners are organizing a die-in demonstration Nov. 29 and gathered 18,000 signatures in 24 hours calling on the city’s mayor to “vastly accelerate” his existing plan to invest more than $1 billion in bike infrastructure.
Seattle infrastructure: Our unofficial sister city is on the cusp of funding a few downtown protected bike lanes.
Measuring exertion: Former world biking champion Cadel Evans will pedal hard inside an MRI scanner to give scientists a close look at what an elite athlete’s heart and lungs look like at full sail.
Bikes and liberty: In Egypt (not entirely unlike in 1890s America and Europe), bikes are a symbol of freedom for women and girls to move about the city without harassment. Some joined a ride in Suez this month organized by a group called “Tomorrow.”
Bikes and oppression: “The bicycle agenda is coming to resemble the feminist agenda from the 1970s,” shudders the Weekly Standard magazine. “Everything that was ever off-limits to the aggrieved minority must be opened up.” The article also uses a remarkable chain of assumptions to conclude (despite easily available evidence to the contrary) that “bicycling is a rich person’s hobby” and that auto drivers are therefore oppressed.
Deadlier traffic: U.S. traffic deaths are up for the first time in seven years, and 72 percent of the gain came from incidents involving people on either motorcycles or foot. Bike fatalities jumped, too, with more than half happening not at intersections. Slightly less than a third of crashes involved intoxicated drivers.
Dutch liability: The Economist has a pithy summary of the extra burden on drivers in Dutch law: “before you turn, you have to check carefully in the mirror to see whether there’s a cyclist there. That’s it. … Does this result in rampant injustice to drivers when accidents occur? No. It results in far fewer accidents.”
Helmet sharing: You can, at long last, get bike helmets from a vending machine. The program, which costs $2 for up to 24 hours or $20 to buy, is being offered by the Boston affiliate of Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share.
Suburban bikesharing: A federal grant looks likely to add 75 more stations to Chicago’s Divvy system (another Alta affiliate), making it North America’s largest and adding 20 stations to two close-in Chicago suburbs.
Chicago shift: “Anyone visiting downtown for the first time in a few months will find a city transformed,” writes Crain’s Chicago Business of the city’s new bikesharing system and downtown protected lanes. “Chicago has become a bike city.”
Bankrupt bikemaker? PBSC, the City of Montreal-backed company that makes Alta Bicycle Share’s equipment, is in so much financial trouble that Vancouver, BC is publicly reconsidering its bikeshare contract with Alta. Alta has no plans to change suppliers for Portland, Willamette Week reports.
E-bike sharing: The University of Tennessee is testing an all-electric bike sharing system.
Total safety: The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition might have the most diverse set of collaborators of any Vision Zero campaign in the country: it’s looped the DMV, AAA, law enforcement, and city and state officials into its effort to completely eliminate road deaths that are caused by roadway design or user error.
Separating traffic: Top Gear presenter and auto enthusiast Jeremy Clarkson says he’s “constantly irritated by cyclists” and therefore a big fan of Copenhagen-style biking, because forcing bikes and cars to share road space is “like putting a dog and a cat in a cage and expecting them to get along. They won’t.”
Bike-friendly Congress: Portland’s Congressman Earl Blumenauer says the “next goal” of the Congressional Bike Caucus that he co-chairs is to get their own employer, the House of Representatives itself, certified as a bike-friendly workplace.
Finally, your video of the week is a music video — yes, a music video — about the havoc that 228 apartments and condos will supposedly wreak on downtown Lake Oswego. My favorite part might be where he raps about his fear that 500 more residents downtown will make the sidewalks too crowded to walk around on, but there are many excellent passages to consider.
Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that the chorus won’t still be in your head four days later.