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The Monday Roundup: Mayoral challenge, ‘Breaking Away’ & more

Posted by on January 6th, 2014 at 6:15 am

Minneapolis’ Betsy Hodges throws the gauntlet.
(Photo: Stubble Magazine)

Here’s the bike news from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Minnesota challenge: In her first official proclamation in office, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges declared that her city’s “winter bicyclists” are “just plain tougher and much better looking the bicyclists from all those wimpier cities.” (Is Charlie Hales going to take this lying down?)

Strong mayor: Cyclelicious’ Richard Masoner says the newly former mayor of Santa Cruz, meanwhile, calls her rig the Mayormobile.

Streaming movie: Road-bike classic Breaking Away has joined the Netflix streaming library.

Axelrod Gaffe: President Obama’s political mentor apparently doesn’t get out much. “Does any other city have these goofy rental bike stands – people riding without helmets, even in dead of winter?” he tweeted on Saturday. “Or is that unique to Chicago?”

Dangerous work: Police in Ghana saved an alleged bike thief from being burned to death by an angry mob.

Cold case: Police surprised a Swedish woman by contacting her to say they’d located a three-speed bike that was stolen from her 20 years ago. Now she’s hoping all the others she’s lost will turn up. “This was the first one that was stolen so it would at least be in the correct order,” she said.

Non-dangerous travel: Easy as Riding a Bike has an inspiring photo gallery of people doing things on bicycles that it says are not inherently dangerous, such as listening to music, riding with passengers or towing luggage.

Westside freeway? The long-shelved Westside Bypass, a 1989 proposal for a new freeway linking Wilsonville to Hillsboro, is back in discussion with a major Washington County study now seeking public feedback.

Tigard populism: The Oregonian previews the March vote in which Tigard could block the high-capacity transit plan that officials have been counting on to remake the Barbur Boulevard corridor unless there’s a public vote in its favor.

New MAX stations: Inner southeast Portlanders might want to attend these coming open houses about planned MAX stations in the area.

Mountain bike death: Craig Steven Lyle, 54, died Saturday while mountain biking near John’s Peak outside his home town of Central Point, Oregon.


Driving tips: If everyone who moved to Portland were simply issued a copy of Elly Blue’s six tips for driving near bikes, it’d save everybody a lot of anxiety.

Irresponsible grownups: Here’s the Onion’s fake-news take on a real-news report that “adults were actually far more likely to text or talk on the phone while driving than teenagers.”

Car sharing: Next time someone tells you bike share is only good for people who don’t own bikes, ask them why more than half of New York City taxi users own cars.

Imprint grips: You’ve got a few days left to get in on a Kickstarter for hold-their-shape handlebar grips, starting at $34 with shipping.

Defending “urbanism”: Portland’s Jarrett Walker kicks off a series on urbanism buzzwords with a defense of the word “urbanism” itself.

Tax confusion: Though we can’t disagree with The Oregonian’s editorial about the stupidity of increasing the federal tax deduction for parking at work to $250 a month while cutting it to $130 for riding transit, it’s a little scary that none of their editors seem to be aware that no local transit pass combo costs more than $130, so the policy doesn’t affect Portland tax bills directly.

Corporate citizenship: New member of the National Bicycle Dealers Association: Amazon.com. The online retail giant ponied up $360 to become an “associate member.”

E-bike mag? This could be a promising startup.

NYC safety: On his first day in office, New York’s new mayor went out of his way at a press conference to call out “traffic fatalities” as “a huge public safety issue.”

Trottenberg interview: Brooklyn Spoke’s Doug Gordon gives a close read of a 2011 interview Jonathan did with the woman who just became New York’s new transportation commissioner. “The initial signs are nothing if not encouraging,” Gordon concludes.

Insta-tandem: You only need to watch the first 40 seconds of your video of the week to get the idea, but I’m not going to say the rest of it isn’t strangely compelling:

Vigurvant_Yep Yep from Kristjan Holm on Vimeo.

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

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  • Mike Quigley January 6, 2014 at 8:04 am

    At 20 below most bicycle tires disintegrate. What are those winter riders in Minnesota riding on?

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    • glo January 6, 2014 at 9:32 am

      I wouldn’t say tires disintegrate at those temps at all.
      -20 is the coldest weather I’ve ridden in and I was only worried about losing my toes!

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    • q`Tzal January 6, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Sorry no, please try again.

      I bicycled 4 winters in Omaha, Nebraska and temps down below -25F and a day down to -29F with -55F wind chills are quite doable. Learning to dress appropriately was the hardest part for me because so few people there tried.
      Once it gets real cold the riding gets easier. Midwinter is the best when the high temperatures never get within 10 degrees of thawing/freezing so the roads dry out and anything that falls blows away in the plains infamous winter winds. I’d take off the studded tires and switch back to regular road tires.

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    • Paul in the 'Couve January 6, 2014 at 10:06 am

      I’ve ridden in -34 F multiple times and I’ve never seen any tire, bicycle or automotive “Disintegrate”. They do lose some flexibility. At -25 and below both cars and bikes ride much more harshly.

      Around -25 and below however for both cars and bikes, grease and oil get very stiff. The grease in the hubs works out pretty quickly. Headsets will stay very stiff, rider actually needs to use hand pressure to return wheel to straight after a turn.

      Brake pads (rim brakes) get very, very stiff, very poor modulation on braking. Freezing cables can be a problem. In preparation make sure cables are lubed recently, get the bike inside and thoroughly dry before the cold hits if possible. BUT, once it is cold, leave the bike outside DO NOT haul it in and out, going in and out creates condensation.

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    • Terry D January 6, 2014 at 10:45 am

      I never had that problem with tires I used to ride year round in Madison.

      I have to say though, If all you do is read newsfeeds and local news reports, Portland DOES look like a bunch of weather whiners. I have a group of travelers from Minneapolis staying with me right now……and I told them about last night’s 11pm local news report where they spent the first FIVE minutes talking about the “frost and ice” that was on the road Sunday morning and the “cold” because it dipped to 25. I have lived in Portland for 15 years and when I see stuff like this I still laugh.

      Midwesterner’s ARE more afraid of biking during rain though…so it is all relative.

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      • Psyfalcon January 6, 2014 at 10:52 am

        That frost was thicker than the last year’s biggest snowfall!

        Actually, I found my new car’s ABS does work on a bridge when someone pulled out in front of me. Couldn’t tell the difference between traction control on or off though. I’ll need real snow or a closed course for that.

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      • Oliver January 6, 2014 at 11:53 am

        I never speak ill of heat or sunshine, so I allow myself to complain about lousy weather. It’s usually limited it to grousing about the rain and darkness though.

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    • Champs January 7, 2014 at 12:19 am

      Kenda Klomdike tires, in my experience. The studs might be failing, but the tread has plenty of life. Still sitting on a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires that have never seen ice, they’re even more highly recommended.

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  • davemess January 6, 2014 at 8:21 am

    The Axelrod comment is especially confusing (frightening) given how successful DC bike share has been? Honestly you can’t go down the street in DC without seeing one of the bikes. How this has escaped him for years is mind numbing. And scary that these unobservant, out of touch folks are running our country!

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    • Hart Noecker January 6, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Fortunately, he got tons of blowback. Rahm Emanuel’s one word reply was, “Wow.”

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  • q`Tzal January 6, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Once you’ve ridden in deep sub zero winter air with a 25-35mph wind with 45+ gusts it makes a single day of riding in Portland’s cold rain seem like a vacation.

    But that’s just one day. Cold air comes and goes along with the snow and super high wind speeds in the plains. In Portland the badge of honor comes from sticking with year long riding through the continual day in and day out slog of rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain. It gets monotonous and the high point of your day become when your wet clothes dry out.

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  • dan January 6, 2014 at 11:02 am

    -20 F and below sounds cold! I’ve skied / snowboarded around minus 10, and that’s manageable with enough layers, but ski boots are a lot warmer than any shoes I usually wear biking.

    Mayor Hodges has a great sense of humor — I look forward to Charlie Hales’ response.

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  • wsbob January 6, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Re; this story mentioned in today’s Roundup about the Westside Bypass: http://www.oregonlive.com/washingtoncounty/index.ssf/2013/12/what_are_washington_countys_lo.html

    …is another, older, back in March, story consisting of an interview by the Hillsboro Argus(satellite edition of the O)with Hillsboro’s ass’t city manager, that gives some idea of how that city is looking at and preparing to handle movement towards accommodating transportation needs resulting from anticipated…and sought after…growth in the area:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/argus/index.ssf/2013/03/hillsboro_reframes_westside_tr.html

    Basically, my read of the story, is that Hillsboro ass’t city manager Rob Dixon’s remarks indicate the city is aware that continued efforts to possibly build the bypass, have received unfavorable response. The city seems to hope to counter that reaction, by suggesting its’ interest in future area transportation infrastructure, is for that of a much broader multi-modal type that would include and serve areas beyond Hillsboro.

    Last Q/A from the story:

    “…Q. How would you characterize the city’s progress? Are you idling? Stalled? Inching forward?

    A. Listening. Listening to input from our community stakeholders and business stakeholders and governmental stakeholders. And that’s not inching — we are actively listening. ” oregonian interview with Rob Dixon

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  • GlowBoy January 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Go Betsy! Keep nipping at Portland’s heels, and don’t let us get smug and complacent!

    It is pretty impressive that MSP manages to maintain its #2 position, considering the winter weather, the radically greater sprawl, and the (slowly decreasing) paucity of bike lanes there. Then again, the far greater preponderance of separated bike facilities is really nice in the winter when 4000 pound cars are sliding all over the place.

    I will say that I don’t usually see a LOT of bike commuters there in the dead of winter (to be fair, I’m usually there during the Christmas/New Year’s break when not many people are commuting anyway), but I still see cyclists around – even when it’s snowing. Tough day today though, with a low of -25F and a windchill around -40, but today’s weather is a 10-year outlier and not the norm.

    I spent my first quarter decade in Minnesota, witnessing everything from -41F ambient temps, -60F windchills, sleetstorms and 3-foot snowfalls to tornadoes, floods, humid 100+F days, 100mph derecho winds and 7-inch rainstorms. Sometimes it really does seem like Mother Nature Is Trying To Kill You there. I don’t remember biking a lot in the winter and I suppose I rarely ventured out on a bike when it was below zero, but I did sometimes ride in the cold and I don’t remember any problems like shattering tires and parts seizing up. Things worked sluggishly at those temperatures, but they still worked.

    In defense of Portland riders, I seem to remember an overwhelmingly positive attitude in the comments to BP’s Cold Weather Open Thread a few weeks ago. Admittedly teens and twenties can seem downright balmy in the middle of a Minnesota winter, but it still meets my definition of “cold”, so people here aren’t THAT wimpy. (And given the winter skills of many drivers around here, being extra careful on ice and snow is justifiable here). Of course, when I see people with balaclavas and scarves wrapped around their faces when it’s 50F out, sometimes I wonder.

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  • Evan Manvel January 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    You write: “…the stupidity of increasing the federal tax deduction for parking at work to $250 a month while cutting it to $130 for riding transit… no local transit pass combo costs more than $130, so the policy basically doesn’t affect the Portland area.”

    I don’t agree with that reasoning.

    Yes, Portlanders lucky enough to receive a transit benefit won’t be taxed for those benefits.

    But Portland taxpayers are still paying more to make up for the over-subsidization of car parking (both across the country and in Portland itself). That is, every tax dollar forgone (by not taxing the benefits given to car drivers) means we have to make it up elsewhere; hence we’re subsidizing those activities.

    Smart thing to do is remove the car parking tax subsidy and allow people to cash out their car parking benefit.

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  • Robert Ping January 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    I used to deliver newspapers in Colorado when I was 11-13 years old, right through the winter. It often hit 10-20 below with wind chill, and the only problem I had was my wool gloves freezing to the handlebars – I would just leave them there while I put the paper inside the storm door. You couldn’t throw papers in that weather, the rubber band would crack in mid-air and the paper would disappear into white…

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