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The Monday Roundup: Road rage shooting, Amtrak’s bike upgrade and more

Posted by on June 23rd, 2014 at 9:19 am

Site of an extreme road-rage incident.
(Image by Google Street View)

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

Worst road rage ever: After a man on a bike confronted a man in a car who he felt had buzzed him, the man in the car allegedly pulled a semiautomatic handgun on him and opened fire as he drove away. Yes, this was in Florida.

Bikes on trains: Amtrak is testing a new baggage car that can secure unboxed bicycles.

Freeways’ failure: It seems like it ought to work: when a road becomes congested, add more lanes. Sadly, this works exactly as well as a Soviet bread line. Wired debunks our intuition and spells out the actual way to fight congestion: tolls.

San Diego’s big leap: In the last year, San Diego added 39 lane-miles of buffered bike lanes. (For comparison, Portland has less than 8 miles citywide.)

Gas tax jobs: The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates that a failure to find new federal transportation revenue before the Highway Trust Fund goes broke in August would cost the state 4,700 jobs related to road construction.

Gas tax hike? The first bipartisan proposal to raise gas taxes and index them to inflation has been introduced in the Senate with support from Rob Corker, R-Tenn.

Egyptian advocacy: Instead of taxing gas, Egypt subsidizes it. That’s why its president has begun urging more Egyptians to bike, to save the country money.


Walkability ranking: A new report from Smart Growth America ranks the Portland area as the country’s 7th most walkable. Why not higher? Our suburbs are still deeply car-dependent, the report says. DC ranks first because of its success on this count.

Harbor skyway: It’s apparently a year and a half behind schedule, but Copenhagen’s $6.6 million, 235-meter long, 4-meter-high elevated harbor bikeway is about to open.

Helmet ruling: Germany’s Supreme Court has ruled that bike users injured in crashes can’t be held partly responsible if they weren’t wearing helmets. (Also, it’s nice to see that Portland-designed Nutcases are helping Germans look stylish when they do choose to helmet up.)

Helmet “alarmist”: Transportation blog Systemic Failure looks at the background of one of the scientists behind a deceptively presented new helmet study and concludes that he deserves the title “crackpot.”

Women’s biking hurdles: Data-news site FiveThirtyEight reviews the research about why women tend to bike less than men. Safety and appearance play roles; so does the need to carry children.

Drunk driving: 37 percent of Americans who drink alcohol admit to having driven when they shouldn’t have.

The strangest thing about your video of the week may be that this car was apparently allowed to be there. (Thankfully, the person on the bike was only “slightly injured.”)

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 Quiglery June 23, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Then there’s that brain surgeon in England who said bicycle helmets are essentially useless because they’re too flimsy. I agree with him.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Jane June 23, 2014 at 9:35 am

      And then there’s the personal experience of helmeted head on pavement contact destroying the helmet yet I’m still here making the grousing of anti helmet hipsters make no sense whatsoever.

      Recommended Thumb up 30

      • spencer June 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm

        x 4 for me

        Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Mij June 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm

        If you destroyed what Mike thinks is “too flimsy” to protect your head and are still here to tell the tale, that’s hardly compelling, right? If it’s flimsy, then of course it broke. If you were wearing a DOT motorcycle helmet and the same thing happened, that would be remarkable.

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        • Jason H June 23, 2014 at 2:43 pm

          Aside from the fact that Jane might have just been metaphorical, I’m not quite sure you understand the design principles of a cycling helmet. A helmet is “destroyed” in any decent impact because it is designed to be a “single use” device, where the EPS foam structure absorbs the impact forces so that your head experiences both a slower and less severe blow. Once the EPS absorbs one impact it cannot protect again the same way so you need to toss it and get a new one.

          As I posted below I’ve used up 3 helmets in the last 6 months and none of them actually broke apart from even heavy blows. The EPS had noticeable cracks in each case but the internal structure and shell kept every helmet intact as one “piece”. Would I skydive or motorcycle in a bike helmet? No, of course not, but for the need, the typical bike crash forces and the necessary lightness and ventilation for comfortable cycling, I firmly believe bicycle helmets are safely and correctly designed.

          Recommended Thumb up 9

          • Mij June 23, 2014 at 2:49 pm

            I use bicycle helmets, I just don’t rely on dubious logic for their use. Breaking something that is seen as flimsy is hardly proof of it’s efficacy in the mind of someone who thinks their flimsy. I don’t use logic to argue with religious folks either. Same thing.

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            • stacia June 23, 2014 at 3:52 pm

              this is like saying that a car hood crumpling in an impact is a sign that the car is weak or unprotective. it’s SUPPOSED to crumple in order to absorb impact. the car is totaled but its passengers are alive. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/safety-regulatory-devices/crumple-zone.htm similarly, a bike helmet is SUPPOSED to break/crush/dent in an impact. the helmet is totaled but your head remains intact. it worked BECAUSE it broke, not in spite of its brokenness.

              Recommended Thumb up 8

            • wsbob June 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm

              “I use bicycle helmets, I just don’t rely on dubious logic for their use. …” Mij

              Nothing dubious in the logical, possible outcome of the helmet cracking instead of the skull of the person wearing it. If use of a bike helmet saves the wearer from losing a patch of their hair and scalp in a crash, for many people, that alone would probably be enough logic in support of wearing one.

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              • gutterbunnybikes June 23, 2014 at 9:29 pm

                http://www.waba.org/blog/2013/06/feds-withdraw-claim-that-bike-helmets-are-85-percent-effective/

                They help in some instances, mostly low speed falls.

                But on a whole for adults, If you’re going through three of them in 6 months, you need to learn to control yourself and your bike, and please stay well behind the rest of the pack.

                Might I suggest a recumbent tricycle?

                Recommended Thumb up 4

                • 9watts June 23, 2014 at 9:44 pm

                  great waba piece. Thanks for posting.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

                • wsbob June 24, 2014 at 8:54 am

                  “…But on a whole for adults, If you’re going through three of them in 6 months, you need to learn to control yourself and your bike, …” gutterbunnybikes

                  Could be, then again, maybe not. Sometimes, people that are good riders have a string of bad luck, a series of falls in close succession, and never again for years.

                  No crash is really the same, so the dynamics of a fall from a bike are very difficult to appraise before they actually happen. Analyzing to what extent the use of a bike helmet will help reduce injury in the event of a crash, is a speculative thing.

                  At any rate, the controversy surrounding use of bike helmets is unfortunate. Their obvious ability to offer some help in reducing injury from impacts to people’s head resulting from crashes, is so simple to recognize. The people that fall all over themselves trying to build absurd rationales to complicate and block that easy recognition, aren’t helping things.

                  I figure the people that can wear a bike helmet are lucky. It’s people that can’t wear them because they’ve got big hair or fussy hair do’s, or heads that no helmet really fits, that are the unlucky ones.

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                • davemess June 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm

                  I don’t know if you’ve done a crit before.

                  Recommended Thumb up 1

      • CaptainKarma June 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm

        I agree with Jane. It’s my head. I’m using a helmet. Don’t want to be a drooling comatose TV game show watcher in a nursing home because I fell over and hit my head when that damn cat ran out and insisted upon being run over by my front wheel. True story.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • F.W. de Klerk June 23, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Hey good for you. Let’s see his data.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • q`Tzal June 23, 2014 at 10:24 am

      Is bicycling becoming “1st world” mainstream enough that news sources previously apathetic about bicycle issues are now foolishly wading in to the quagmire that is Helmet Wars?

      I feel like I’m seeing a lot more of these stories recently from non-bikey places.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Jason H June 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      You agree, which means it’s your opinion, and you’re 100% entitled to it, but a string of bad luck/high training miles this winter/spring led me to crack THREE Lazer helmets, and I’m talking about significant crashes, one of which left me on crutches for 3 weeks from bouncing off my hip AFTER the helmet impact. Every helmet maintained it’s structure and prevented even a mild concussion in every case. Call me in-agreement with empirical data rather than opinion. ;-)

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • dr2chase June 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm

        Do note, you were training. That means a different bike, different posture, higher speeds, probably different roads as well. Even the Dutch wear helmets when they are doing that sort of thing — but they also seem to be aware that not all biking is equally risky.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Adron @ Transit Sleuth June 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

    There’s a ton of WTF there?!?!?! Especially with the car in the pedestrian/bicycle path. What’s the point of separated path way when somebody is driving on the path?!?!

    Florida. I’m still an advocate of that state leaving the country. Seriously, doubt any nation would want it as it’s such a horrible partner state for pretty much everything these days. :( #failure #florida

    As more people will get emboldened to be “a-holes” in that state the pressure will grow as the body count does. It’s unfortunately the only way that state will straighten out the wonky and broken laws.

    Tolls: Yes please, may I have many more that actually cover infrastructure costs? This would be one of the most honest ways of paying for infrastructure in existence, still kind of amazed the US has ignored it for so long. It’s actually a very *American* thing to do, but I digress.

    …good round up. Now, for Portland to get it together on cycle-tracks and buffered lanes. :)

    Recommended Thumb up 10

    • davemess June 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      I love the guy commenting on the article, who says, “this is why I carry”. I think the article went over his head a little.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Rob Chapman June 23, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I hope those new Amtrak cars make the cut. That would be good for everybody.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • 9watts June 23, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Raising the federal gas tax. Yeah. About time.

    Depressing that something this paltry, overdue, logical is ‘news’. Let’s hope it come to pass.

    Recommended Thumb up 15

  • q`Tzal June 23, 2014 at 10:11 am

    1st story
    Worst road rage ever:….. . Yes, this was in Florida

    I missed the memo: when did Florida become armed road rage central?
    Why not Texas whose state mascot is a full ammo clip or Los Angeles who invented road rage shootings?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • davemess June 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Doesn’t help that Florida is continually rated one of the worst states to bike in.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • q`Tzal June 23, 2014 at 5:32 pm

        Assertion accepted.
        At what point of logic does that instantly translate to armed conflict?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • davemess June 23, 2014 at 5:47 pm

          A certain high profile case involving “stand you ground” probably doesn’t help their reputation either. Nor does traditionally being known as a pretty conservative state.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • was carless June 24, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      1980 or so?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • q`Tzal June 23, 2014 at 10:19 am

    main article
    Gas tax hike? The first bipartisan proposal to raise gas taxes and index them to inflation has been introduced in the Senate with support from Rob Corker, R-Tenn.

    Egyptian advocacy: Instead of taxing gas, Egypt subsidizes it. That’s why its president has begun urging more Egyptians to bike, to save the country money.

    That Michael Andersen is clever.
    He posted these two stories adjacent to see if he could get readers to question whether American gasoline is subsidized more per gallon than our federal gasoline tax brings in per gallon.

    You devious editor you ;)

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • spare_wheel June 23, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Per NACTO’s guidelines, buffered bike lanes provide benefits which include:

    *Provides greater shy distance between motor vehicles and bicyclists.
    *Provides space for bicyclists to pass another bicyclist without encroaching into the adjacent motor vehicle travel lane.
    *Encourages bicyclists to ride outside of the door zone when buffer is between parked cars and bike lane.
    *Provides a greater space for bicycling without making the bike lane appear so wide that it might be mistaken for a travel lane or a parking lane.
    *Appeals to a wider cross-section of bicycle users.
    *Encourages bicycling by contributing to the perception of safety among users of the bicycle network.

    Buuuutttt…I thought buffered bike lanes are *mere paint on the road* that do nothing to encourage cycling, offer zero protection, and are worse than nothing??/????

    PS: It’s pathetic that we only have 8 miles of buffered bike lanes in PDX.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

      I’m not aware of anyone who claims that buffered lanes are bad. This month’s PSU report found that riders perceive them to be less comfortable than curbs, bollards or planters, but more comfortable than a simple stripe: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/page/-/uploads/GLP/barrier%20separation%20types.PNG

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Pete June 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm

        I suspect spare_wheel refers to the outcry from this site that a buffered bike lane installed on a popular stretch of road in the western `burbs recently caused because it wasn’t a cycle track, but I also suspect you know that… Frankly I hate trying to take the lane through planters and bollards. ;-)

        Recommended Thumb up 3

      • spare_wheel June 23, 2014 at 3:51 pm
        • Michael, BikePortland June 23, 2014 at 8:32 pm

          As usual when we tangle, SW, you’re right and I’m wrong. :) Thanks.

          Anyway, the science seems very clear that people prefer buffers to no buffers.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Dave Thomson June 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm

            People’s preferences are not science…

            Recommended Thumb up 1

      • gutterbunnybikes June 23, 2014 at 9:13 pm

        Actually bike lanes separated or not, haven’t been proven to be any safer than not having them. They are built to give people the illusion of safety which does increase ridership (a good thing), and that is basically why I support them getting built, despite the fact I feel less comfortable riding in bike lanes than I do when I take the lane.

        The all the studies that have come out in favor of them say the actual increase is safety is minimal at best. Those against provide stats that they actually increase the number of collisions at intersections.

        A pretty good basic (and balanced) write up:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segregated_cycle_facilities

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Peter James June 23, 2014 at 9:44 pm

          I’ve never once been yelled at while riding in a bike lane but I have had a number of nasty interactions with drivers on so called bikeways, lanes with sharrows.

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          • gutterbunnybikes June 24, 2014 at 5:34 am

            Yelled at isn’t a collision….My guess is most of us get yelled at just as much as when we drive an automobile. The only difference, is that you hear the yelling on a bike, and not so much in a car.

            I’d love to go into why I personally don’t like bike lanes. But it is too big of a subject for a rely thread.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jason H June 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    How you miss this one in the roundup? ;-) Craziest bike/car road rage story ever! http://www.cyclelicio.us/2014/ride-report-two-dui-maniac-vs-cyclist-results-in-dnf/ Heard about this one from Molly at PBS.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Pete June 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Quite a story!! Sounds like Chuck’s last name is Norris…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd Boulanger June 23, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Regarding Amtrak’s new baggage carriages:
    - they look to have a bike capacity of 6 bikes total (3 per set)

    It is great that cyclists now have the option of checking a bike without a box…which can be difficult to find in some regions / unmanned stations.

    This is still too few slots given these trains are for regional trips: Chicago to LA / NY to Florida, etc. Amtrak’s new Cascade trains moved from 6 to 10 (?) rack spaces for a trip that is 20% the length of the routes these new cars serve.

    …imagine if the the owners of cars checked onto the Amtrak Auto Train to Florida had to bring along a “box” or a “u-haul car harness” for securing their car within the train…not too many cars would make it to / from Florida on the train.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • GlowBoy June 23, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    “A new report from Smart Growth America ranks the Portland area as the country’s 7th most walkable”

    Interesting reading. The study assigns the US’ 30 largest metro areas (containing 46% of the nation’s population) to 4 broad levels of walkable urbanism.
    - The top “level” includes DC, NYC, Boston, SF, Chicago and Seattle.
    - The next level, topped by Portland, is essentially mid-sized metros from 2M to 5m people, including a number which rank fairly high in common livability indexes or are often seen as “up-and-coming”: Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Philly and Denver.
    - The bottom two levels, including cities ranging from LA to Detroit to Las Vegas (with Phoenix coming in dead last), most of which are not known for high livability ratings or (at least historically) being very forward-looking in terms of urbanism and avoiding the promotion of car transportation.

    Really, I think being in this “Level 2″ is good company, with most of our “neighbors” in this ranking being decent cities. Of course the metros in “Level 1″ are spectacular cities, and several completely trounce us in terms urban vitality, no question. The Level 1 cities are great places to live … if you’re rich, or at least lucky enough to have a high paying job. But my perception is they are (except possibly for DC) very expensive places to live, especially if you actually want to live in a highly walkable location. If you need to work for a living, you may still be better off in a Level 2 city.

    The study touches on affordability, but only barely: “Further research is needed to determine how walkable urbanism influences housing
    in terms of prices, rents, affordability, and the propensity to rent versus. own.” Even in Portland, what we’re seeing is that our highly walkable neighborhoods are quickly becoming very expensive: witness the over-$1000studios going up in several parts of town. It’s a lot worse in the Level 1 cities, but it’s still a problem here.

    How do we create highly walkable neighborhoods that people can afford? You’d think the higher density – greater supply – would help keep prices under control, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. I think it’s possible that what’s really happening is that despite big growth in higher-density housing, it still represents a tiny share of the available housing in a metro area, and demand for it still greatly exceeds supply. I suspect that the real answer to the problem of creating affordable walkable neighborhoods is to build a lot more of them. And, as the study mentions, to really satisfy demand they need to start happening more in the suburbs.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Peter James June 23, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Wow, prices to build anything is getting out of control. I would have sworn that was a typo when I saw that it cost over six million dollars for just over 200 meters of an elevated bikeway. Insane. I’d love to see the breakdown of costs for that project.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Chris I June 24, 2014 at 9:36 am

      You have to factor in the cost of living and currency exchange rates. A beer at a bar in Copenhagen will set you back the equivalent of $8-10 USD.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dr2chase June 24, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Those Amtrak bike racks are underwhelming. For most bicycles (not necessarily the finest and nicest bikes) a flat wall with a bungie is good for five bikes:
    http://dr2chase.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/img_0103.jpg
    (That’s a Caltrain bike car, go to the high-res if you want to study the bikes before you declare that people would only do that with crappy bikes). All that fancy stuff removes flexibility and adds cost.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jn June 25, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Disappointed to see Bike Portland engaging in geographical bigotry (“Yes, this was in Florida.”) Also disappointed to see commenters approving of this attitude. Let me remind you there have been two mass shootings in the Portland area in less than 2 years. There are disturbed people everywhere.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • 47hasbegun June 25, 2014 at 7:24 am

      Were those mass shootings a result of road rage targeted at cyclists, though?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

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