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The Monday Roundup: Selfies, BOD, anti-cycling psychology and more

Posted by on July 7th, 2014 at 11:01 am

The “cycle snake” in Copenhagen was made
to replace a few flights of stairs.
(Image: Dissing+Weitling Architecture)

This week’s news roundup is sponsored by Western Bikeworks who hopes to see you at the Seattle-to-Portland finish line on Saturday where you can pick up a souvenir t-shirt or score other deals.

Welcome back! We hope everyone enjoyed the long holiday weekend.

Check out the best bike links and news we came across this week:

Explaining bike brain: Portland Carl Alviani is making waves on the web this morning thanks to his thoughtful deconstruction of “why bikes make smart people say dumb things.”

Gas tax increase as our savior: As the federal transportation funding bill showdown gets more and more serious, there are hints that a gas tax increase might be on the table.

Build it and they ride: Speaking of running out of federal funding for transportation, a paltry $28 million in federal funds had a massive impact on bicycling conditions and mode share in Marin.

Bike share as public transit: We’ve been pushing for “bike-oriented development” around here for years, so it’s great to see former DOT commish for D.C. and Chicago Gabe Klein make the case. He argues that the success of bike share as a public transit option demands changes in public planning policy — and a dramatic re-configuration of public space toward active transportation.

Selfies plague Tour de France: Ugh. It appears that overzealous fans taking selfies while the peloton flies by (like the one below) have caused more than a few tumbles during the Tour’s opening stages in the U.K.

Critical Mass in Miami: Portlanders Elly Blue and Joe Biel are traveling the country on their Dinner and Bikes tour. A recent stop in Miami led to a story in the local paper about that city’s massive critical mass — which is interesting given how that topic has also been re-born here in Portland.

4,200 bicycle parking spaces at Utrecht’s new train station: The Netherlands raises the bar yet again. No other country has such high demand for bike parking at train stations (or anywhere else for that matter).

Copenhagen’s “Cycle Snake” unveiled: Not to be outdone by the Netherlands, the City of Copenhagen has finished its latest piece of high-profile transportation infrastructure: the “Cykelslangen” or bicycle snake. It’s a ramp that replaces a few flights of stairs; but “ramp” hardly does it justice.


Driving gets harder, biking gets popular: Beyond making infrastructure that respects cycling, the other secret to a recent riding uptick in Copenhagen, and one that has lessons for other cities, was a bunch of major construction projects that “rendered driving incredibly difficult.”

One arm, one brake, one ticket: A man in Cologne, Germany rides his bike with just one brake because he has just one arm. Unfortunately an overzealous cop decided to ticket him for not having the other one (the brake, not the arm).

Best bike share system in the U.S.? The bike share limelight is usually hogged by Citi Bike in NYC or Capital Bikeshare in D.C., but noted reported Sarah Goodyear explained why Minnesota’s Nice Ride system just might be the best.

Metering gas consumption: Smart parking meters in Madrid price spots based on the car’s age and model. Older gas guzzlers can pay as much as 20% higher rates than hybrids and newer cars.

Financial benefits of cargo bikes:: Mr. Money Mustache is a hot new personal finance blog with a huge audience. What makes the posts even better is that the author is an everyday bike rider who totally gets bikenomics and translates it to his readers in fun ways. His latest frugal foray delved into carrying large items by bike.

Trip data created by Human: Strava isn’t the only way to track cycling trips. Human, a popular smartphone app claims millions of users and they’re starting to share their trip data as well. As something used by more everyday riders, it might make a nice complement to the more performance/training-oriented trips tracked by Strava.

No gravity, no bicycling (as we know it): Our video of the week comes via the Cycling Science blog where we heard about some amazing new research about how gravity impacts bicycling. Watch the video and become enlightened:


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  • Bjorn July 7, 2014 at 11:06 am

    It seems obvious that in unmarked on street parking like portland has that vehicles should pay by the number of feet long they are as a large truck easily displaces a couple of small compacts, so they should pay 2x as much.

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    • oliver July 7, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Agree, I’ve often been annoyed that you can park nearly two of my cars in the space allotted for one vehicle downtown.

      Other than that charging people more because they choose not to purchase (or can’t afford) a new vehicle seems quite classist.

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      • John Lascurettes July 7, 2014 at 1:33 pm

        I asked a pair parking enforcement officers once if two smart cars could park in one spot legally (since they could both fit entirely in a marked spot downtown). They replied that it would be legal but that both would still have to pay for the parking. So smaller and more efficient gets penalized again.

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        • Psyfalcon July 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm

          Well, if the one that paid leaves, you’d then not have not paid for the car remaining. Seems prudent for both to pay, seems wrong to make both pay as long as there is one paid for in the spot at all times.

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        • Bjorn July 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm

          Speaking of smart cars, they really need to change the rules to allow for cars of that length to park perpendicular to the flow of traffic. A smart car is over 3 feet longer than it is wide and there is no reason not to let them park nose out to the street.

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        • Todd Boulanger July 7, 2014 at 8:02 pm

          …unless they were parking in an old metered (non pay station enforced space)…then they both could park for the price of one…like motorcycles.

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  • Champs July 7, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Nice to hear that Utrecht Centraal is getting a handle on parking. The situation was out of control when I visited there in 2009. The racks seemed more like a mausoleum or hospice for bikes in questionable shape than a place to park your bike.

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  • Pete July 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Just because raising the gas tax is (once again) on the table doesn’t mean we’ll ever see it in our lifetime. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen this come up… I could afford to pay for decent infrastructure! ;)

    OK so the comments in the article about the one-armed cyclist being ticketed are tacky and tasteless… but I’ve never laughed so hard!

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    • q`Tzal July 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      They have to raise it this time; there simply is no other alternative.
      Our paved road system cost an absolutely astronomical sum to keep at its current level of decay. Any major cut backs lead directly to an inability to move goods and employees; this leads inexorably to economic downturn.

      We are dependent upon a system of transportation that can move vast tonnage very quickly to maintain our standard of living. Sadly our freight rail system is stuck in the 19th century.

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      • spare_wheel July 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm

        our antiquated freight rail system moves the bulk of goods by land in the usa. much of what we move via truck could be moved via train — and it would be less expensive and immensely more sustainable.

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        • q`Tzal July 7, 2014 at 2:56 pm

          If you count coal, yes.
          Also trucks move a container from Atlantic to Pacific in 36-48 hours; not a single American railroad company can brag any better than 7 DAYS. Their single track lines are extremely vulnerable to day long delays caused by waiting on sidings and accidents.

          The problem is that after the 1st dotcom boom every company that could switched over to JIT warehousing, meaning they don’t keep any more stock on hand than is absolutely necessary for operations until the next shipment comes in.
          This frees up capital that used to be tied up in warehoused inventory.
          It eliminates the need for warehouses and all that entails: real estate investment, property taxes, insurance and labor to operate and administrate said warehouses.

          The American railroad system has been allowed to languish in monopoly protection since before 1900. While our federal Highway system is almost certainly over built the rail system, being completely in private control, is the exact opposite.

          It is easy for a techy to imagine a rail system that moves freight containers fast; like data packets fast. The problem is that it would require doubling or tripling main rail trunk lines and enabling individual cargo containers to route themselves (completely human free), join in to train groupings autonomously, split and rejoin at each switching junction without slow human scale decision methods from the late 1800′s.

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          • spare_wheel July 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm

            the current JIT model is predicated on cheap dinosaur juice and massive tax breaks to equity-subsidized unprofitable web commerce. warren buffet is investing in rail for a reason…

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            • q`Tzal July 7, 2014 at 5:51 pm

              It can be done without petrochemicals but the actual problem is Americans aren’t going to give up their profligate standard of living without a bloody fight.
              And it’s the freight movers (truck, rail & air) that are getting these ridiculously unethical subsidies.

              The mere concept that a person could be happy with less Things(tm) on a lower income is so foreign as to even be an alien concept to those immigrating here illegally because their high standard of living is equivalent to how a homeless person lives on the street in Portland. Our American(tm) brand of capitalism has infected the minds of the whole planet the concepts of “happiness is stuff” & “self worth is money”.
              We might just as well be Feringi from Star Trek.

              Hopefully high quality, efficient, cheap and ubiquitous 3D printing takes off soon; then we can get over shipping as much and get down to the intellectual property legal battle that’ll end civilization as we know it.

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              • spare_wheel July 7, 2014 at 7:49 pm

                rail is already so much more efficient than trucking than petrochemical use is negligible from a greenhouse gas/pollution perspective. (there have also been amazing increases in efficiency due to computerized/GPS signalling upgrades and the adoption of natural gas for locomotives).

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                • q`Tzal July 8, 2014 at 8:37 am

                  At no point did I say trucks were more efficient than rail transportation.
                  Truck freight transportation is most definitely NOT more efficient; it’s quicker and more consistently reliable delivery time frame. These are the values that our rail system fails on.

                  Our business economy has already passed the point of no return of setting the baseline for warehouse expenditures as low as possible. This means that eliminating on time delivery will directly affect the viability of the majority of all businesses in the US, not just web businesses. Attempting to rectify this impending economic crash would require direct investment in private businesses to build out warehouses that no longer exist. Imagine what happens to a dense walkable neighborhood when just all the Starbucks have to buy out the adjacent business to have onsite stock for >10-14 days of business: selling overpriced coffee, snacks and whatever else thet sell in a Starbucks (don’t drink coffee – I know, makes me a commie ;) )

                  I am far too enamored of the freight public transit system envisioned in the CarFree Cities plan. It not only includes freight transit (why is freight transportation always ignored in public transit vs traffic overcrowding calculations?) but is setup such that automation is easy to integrate.

                  I think a variable packet(cargo container) size derivative of the standard IP routing protocol (keeping in mind “joke” protocols like “IP over Avian Carriers“) where packet loss is traded off for packet delivery delay (there is no magic bit bucket for meatspace matter) would work.
                  I must stop before I give a 5 page dissertation of how this would work from group level hardware (level 1) to end user operation (level 7). When you grow up with engineers instead of normal people it sorta alters your brain.

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        • Todd Boulanger July 7, 2014 at 8:04 pm

          …and pipeline could take some of that bulk freight (oil) off the tracks for more room for people or solid freight.

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        • Pete July 7, 2014 at 8:43 pm

          The government believes this but has two challenges: 1) funding, and 2) safety; antiquated signal systems (look up PTC – Positive Train Control – which is basically an architecture to bring rail into the M2M/IoT era):

          http://www.progressiverailroading.com/federal_legislation_regulation/article/Federal-Railroad-Administration-budget-39highlight39-of-USDOT-spending-plan-Szabo-says–36139

          http://www.progressiverailroading.com/federal_legislation_regulation/news/Blumenthal-to-introduce-rail-safety-bill–40961

          The government also realizes that rail is vital to the fracking boom that’s going on in various parts of North America, hence you will continue to see it funded due to powerful lobbies. This may even explain why the current effort to raise the federal gas tax rate is more bi-partisan than ever…

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          • Chris I July 8, 2014 at 9:31 am

            Good. Trucks are not paying their fair share. The interstate system, funded primarily by SOV commuters and general fund dollars is a giant subsidy to the trucking industry. Trucks are doing most of the damage, and they should be paying a lot more.

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      • Ventura July 7, 2014 at 6:27 pm

        No alternative? Hopefully the Grand Oil Party doesn’t hear about Portland’s street fee idea…

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  • Terry D July 7, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    After the west Willamette MUP is built out south past the Tilikum to the Sellwood, we are going to need a Copenhagen Snake to connect it to the Gibb’s street overpass.

    Luckily, they can just chop off the eastern end when that elevator/stairs becomes a THE neighborhood bottleneck.

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  • Alan 1.0 July 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I’d expect some other features in true zero G biking, too, like not sticking to the surface and doing endless, full-circle wheelies in counter-rotation. Sure would be fun to try!

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  • Clem July 7, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I use strava to track the distance I ride but am no way into “performance” biking or training for anything. Am I doing something wrong? Any assistance would be appreciated.

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    • Alan 1.0 July 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Use terms like Lycra, helmet, stop sign and ORS 814.420 to improve your catch rate.

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  • Richard Masoner July 7, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Point of information regarding Mr Money Moustache. His blog is hot, but it’s hardly new. I mentioned him in 2011 shortly after he began the blog that year. Jonathan, I believe you might recognize his hometown :-)

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  • Josh G July 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    great video of the riding happening at the Lumberyard http://www.lumberyardmtb.com/blog/2014/07/07/vital-edit

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  • dr2chase July 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    “But Marin officials may have a bit more educating to do themselves as people who hear about how the bike program has curbed cars wonder why traffic seems worse than ever these days.”

    It would be interesting indeed to figure out if there’s cause and effect here — I think it is possible, since traffic jams aren’t linear in flow. If road segment A feeds B and C, and bicycle infrastructure eases up flow on the AB combo, perhaps induced demand on A would then overload C (i.e., A is shared by AB and AC, reducing AB traffic makes it easier to at drive at least the A segment of AC).

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  • Dwaine Dibbly July 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    The one-armed German man actually had a brake on each wheel. A hand brake on the front wheel and a coaster brake on the rear wheel. The paragraph above makes it sound like he only had one brake total. They police refunded his ticket once he proved that he had brakes on each wheel, but not until after they tried to fine him for a broken light (also proven to be not true).

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  • Todd Boulanger July 7, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    As for documenting the effect *of 66% percent bike traffic growth in Marin (the outcome vs. just the statistic*) it would be interesting to look into the volume of gasoline/ gas tax sales for the same communities…assuming there is no great reason to avoid buying fuel in Marin (vs. one’s job site) and to check on hybrid/ E-car sales. This might help to tease out the effect of regional traffic vs. local.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    For the “cycle snake” in Copenhagen…looking at the smart us of lighting placed under the handrail, I have often wondered why local landscape architects/ transport engineers do not use this trick more often…especially now that LEDs reduce the effort for bulb replacement. I have seen some older 1970s/ 80s projects in the US use this type of lighting for reducing light pollution on ramps at airports…like HNL’s.

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  • gutterbunnybikes July 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Zoe wouldn’t have to worry about taking the selfie had she worn a helmet.

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  • Jonathan Gordon July 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I was watching and enjoying that bricycle video when it dawned on me that I recognized the narrator’s voice. Yep, that’s Andy Ruina, my college Statics professor. That man is a genius! I love that last line:

    “So gravity, superficially the thing that makes it hard to balance a bicycle, is the thing that allows you to steer it.”

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