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The Monday Roundup: Catching distracted drivers red-handed, counterfeit bikes & more

Posted by on March 17th, 2014 at 9:25 am

The late Jake Owen.
(Family photo)

Here are the bike-related links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Distracted driving: If your advocacy for making streets safer needs a jolt of energy, you should read the first three paragraphs of this story about a proposed Maryland law that would make it easy for police to check whether people involved in car crashes were using the phone at the moment of impact.

Fake bikes: The world of counterfeit branded bicycles sold online is dominated by “very sophisticated organizations who launder money they gain from drug dealing, from prostitution, from slavery,” the mainstream bicycle industry warns.

Tolerating danger: “The Federal Highway Administration’s proposal on safety performance measures allows states to fail to meet half their own safety targets without consequences.”

Bike heroine: It’s the 100th birthday of the oldest Dutch advocacy group for separated bike infrastructure. Its leader was a woman, but her husband’s name had to be on all the documents because women weren’t allowed to perform legal actions.

Stop digging: As the federal highway trust fund gets ready to start bouncing checks this summer, more than half of states’ road spending still goes to construction rather than maintenance.

Technocracy is not enough: “Unfortunately now we not only have to focus on doing things right, but also we need to focus on doing the right things,” says Gil Penalosa of the challenge facing the world’s mayors. The brother and collaborator of Bogota’s most famous mayor now runs the Toronto-based nonprofit 8-80 Cities.


Monstrous game: If you haven’t seen T-Rex and Utahraptor reflect on the nature of driving yet, you really should:

Automotive history: Collector’s Weekly brings the story of the automotive takeover of U.S. cities, and its recent retreat, to amateur history-lovers.

Seattle greenways: As Portland has nearly eliminated neighborhood greenway funding, Seattle is ramping theirs up — though it’s only expecting to add 6.2 miles this year, compared to Portland’s 18 miles at its 2010 peak.

New leaders: National advocacy group PeopleForBikes has chosen six new cities where its Green Lane Project will help build protected bike lanes over the next two years: Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Portland spent the last two years as part of the first round of six.

Better barriers: A horrific auto crash at Austin’s South by Southwest festival prompts The Atlantic’s Sarah Goodyear to consider how cheap it is to protect temporary pedestrian plazas with portable steel posts.

The freeway wishlist: It’s “pretty common” for a big local project, especially a big local freeway project, to be shelved as “buildable but not fundable.” That’s what the Columbia River Crossing is, for now.

Third bridge? The drive-a-lot community is assembling its Plan B for the failed freeway deal. Is the drive-less community ready with theirs?

Bikeshare application: Paris’s bike sharing system has given the city a new tool to use in high-pollution emergencies: it can make all bikeshare rides free for a couple days.

Finally, the British Automobile Association takes a creative tack on the public service message (“If you don’t use your mirrors, you don’t know what you’re missing”) in your video of the week:

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  • Bjorn March 17, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Speaking of distracted driving, this morning I was listening to the radio and a guy who won a trivia contest admitted that he had done so by using his phone to google the answer and then called the station all while driving on the I-205…

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  • Joe March 17, 2014 at 9:46 am

    so many ppl do not use hands free still, phone on your lap is not hands free.

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    • dave March 17, 2014 at 10:00 am

      Handsfree is useless anyway. The problem is not that you’re holding something to your ear while driving – the problem is that you’re having a conversation trying to decipher language from a crappy low-bandwidth signal.

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      • GlowBoy March 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm

        Agreed, studies have shown that handsfree doesn’t reduce the danger. Just think about it – the act of holding an object in your hand isn’t what’s dangerous here. Having a conversation with someone who isn’t present occupies a HUGE part of your brainspace, and unlike talking to a passenger the conversation doesn’t ebb and flow with the driver’s need to focus attention on what’s happening in front of them.

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      • Tom March 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm

        Hands free actually makes the problem worse, not better. Hands free encourages the driver to spend more time on their phone, but the risk per unit time is the same. Total risk is much larger then. Dashboard tablets with 4G are in the pipeline, coming out in 2015 and may soon be standard. These will come with a wide variety of apps. The automotive industry is pushing to have the driver distracted almost 100% of the time with multimedia entertainment in their dashboard. If we want to do something about this, the time is now. It won’t do much good after they have sold millions of cars like that.

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  • Chris I March 17, 2014 at 10:20 am

    The “third bridge” advocates are living in a fantasy world. A new toll-free crossing is not going to happen, because we don’t have the money. If Vancouver residents want another bridge, they will need to pay for it. Oregon residents who know what it takes to fund projects like this are not interested. The people that want a third bridge don’t want to spend the money that is needed to fund it.

    Oregon’s focus needs to shift to maintenance, safety, and seismic upgrades. Reducing the carnage on our roads will save our region trillions of dollars in the long-run. Every injury and death on the road reduces economic productivity, raises insurance rates, and reduces quality of life. Why does it seem that no one in the mainstream realizes this?

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    • GlowBoy March 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      We already have a serious problem with a lot of our new housing being built in places like Clackamas County, far from the region’s biggest employment centers. Building a new bridge way out there are at 192nd East sounds like the worst recipe for more sprawl and congestion.

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      • davemess March 19, 2014 at 1:22 pm

        Yes. I just don’t get it. So a bunch of drivers come over this bridge from Clark County and go where? Get on 84 to go downtown? Yes, I totally see that working out well. 205 has way better flow than I-5, so why would you want to build a bridge that alleviates 205?

        I think they’re all just grasping at straws.

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  • Peejay March 17, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I said this earlier at the first article about the death of the CRC: we have to be out front with plans for the inevitable reboot of this project, and we have to get it right while also appealing to the powers that be.

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  • Jen March 17, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I would love to see “Jakes law” passed nationwide. I was hit by a driver too distracted to notice a stop sign. This weekend I watched a driver blow a red light and slam on her brakes halfway through a pedestrian/bike filled intersection while she was playing with her phone. I don’t think people take driving seriously enough, due in part to there being no real repercussions

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    • Chris I March 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      Did anyone go after this lady and inform her of her carelessness? I find Portlander’s passive-aggressive attitudes to be less than helpful in these situations. When people do things that risk the lives of others, they need to be called out / publicly shamed.

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      • PorterStout March 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm

        Or / pushed into a bucket of acid. Really, you’d only have to do it a couple of times.

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      • jen March 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm

        Several people were quite vocal with her about putting down the phone and paying attention to driving.

        I think I’m becoming more extreme in my thinking that people who are driving a car and injure a vulnerable road user should be prosecuted for attempted (unless they actually kill someone) manslaughter. Its not enough to excuse all the “accidents” that occur daily.

        I”m not certain if the woman who hit me was even given a ticket. Although I called the cops to get an accident report filed, there was no citation given at the time.

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  • CaptainKarma March 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I was rear-ended at a stoplight by a young lady who had been texting. Yes I passively-aggressively let her go, thinking she had the snot scared out of her, and there was no damage to my car. Not the next time, though.

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    • JV March 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Wait, why exactly did you let her go?!? Was there damage to your vehicle? That is not passive-aggressive, that is passive indifference.

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    • spare_wheel March 18, 2014 at 8:06 am

      thanks for enabling.

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  • Joe March 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    ok ban all cell phones in cars simple fix.. done!

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  • Ted Buehler March 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    From the Metro update on the CRC link — once again, Bob Stacey gets it right:

    “… Stacey said. ‘It’s time to look at how do we separate this out from a megaproject to a series of problems being solved.’”

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  • Christopher Sanderson March 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    This was embedded in that article about Jake’s Law: “An exception is Utah, which treats texting drivers involved in fatal crashes the same as drunk drivers. They can face up to 15 years in prison.” Man! Go Utah! Who’d a figured?

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    • q`Tzal March 17, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Lots of rural high speed (speed limit on I-84 in Utah is 80mph) highways with their own high tech employment suburbs. Tech workers there drive longer distances, faster and generally are fiddling with more gadgets than non-tech workers. I’d have to guess that this led to a spate of texting collisions at such high speed that it more resembled a NASA rocket crash test than an automotive crash.

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  • Dave March 18, 2014 at 10:01 am

    The “third bridge” fantasy is being pushed by two right-wing, anti-transit jihadist wack jobs on the Clark County comission. I won’t name names, but I like to call one the retard, the other, the crook.

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  • Anne March 20, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Omg that mirrors video was AWESOME!

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