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The Monday Roundup: Misplaced bragging, JPow wins again, Volkswagen bailout & more

Posted by on January 11th, 2016 at 8:10 am


This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Lancaster Engineering, a Portland-based traffic engineering and transportation planning firm.

If you’re still sputtering up to speed after the holidays, have no fear, we’ve gathered all the best bike stories for you in one convenient place…

Pow!: Jeremy Powers rode to his fourth national cyclocross championship yesterday. And young Pacific Northwest product Logan Owen grabbed third.

“Success” story: A UK engineering firm chose an unfortunate Twitter illustration of that time they “successfully delivered another greenway project.”

“Bike Butler”: Indoor bike storage racks are getting more sophisticated.

$4.9 billion: That’s the annual economic loss from traffic-related deaths in Texas alone.

Legal logic: Humans “were created before the automobile,” wrote a judge in a 1919 court case in part of one of the most succinct explanations we’ve seen of traffic ethics.

Legalized walking: It apparently took a federal law, but kids are now allowed to walk to school alone.

Cliche check: The Guardian’s Peter Walker has a nice list of things to consider before writing an opinion column about biking.

Slow biking: Cities with thriving bicycling culture are “places where riding a bicycle is seen as walking with wheels, rather than running.”

Autonomous cars: They could bankrupt the insurance industry by cutting collisions 80 percent, acorrding to a new report.

Autonomous partnership: General Motors and Lyft are teaming up in a $500 million deal to develop self-driving technology.

Taxipocalpyse: San Francisco’s largest taxi company is filing for bankruptcy to restructure.

Medellin and Salt Lake City: Former NYC Transporatation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan tells Bicycling Magazine they’re her latest cities to watch.

Volkswagen bailout: House Republicans have been considering amnesty for the fraudulant automaker.

Taipei mayor: Ko Wen-je, 56, is taking a 230-mile bike trip in 21 hours.

Road rage charges: There seems to be a boomlet in “car as weapon” criminal charges in the UK.

Journalism award: The Fort Meyers News-Press is getting praise for a series that took bike safety seriously.

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.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • q`Tzal January 11, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Bailing out VW?!?

    Isn’t this the same political faction that balked at bailing out American automobile manufacturers in 2008-2009?

    I don’t expect that they’ve “found god” on this issue so I guess it falls back to “follow the money”.

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    • was carless January 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      And its not even an American company!

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  • 9watts January 11, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Texas: total cost of traffic deaths calculation strikes me as askew.
    Medical costs and lost work hours are the two factors included. I have to say if my daughter were killed on a road in Texas those would not be the first two costs I’d be thinking of as a measure of the loss.

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    • paikiala January 11, 2016 at 10:23 am

      Last I looked, a couple years ago, the societal cost of a fatality in the US was pegged at $6M. For 3500 Texas fatals in 2013, that works out to $210B.

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      • 9watts January 11, 2016 at 10:24 am

        Thanks for that figure, paikiala.

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      • B. Carfree January 11, 2016 at 10:29 am

        Also, the CDC estimated the annual fatalities due to the air pollution caused by cars at over 50,000. With Texas having about 10% of the fatalities, it might be fair to estimate their car-caused smog deaths as adding another 5000 to those 3500, bringing the annual cost of car-dependence to over $50 Billion for Texas alone.

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        • BeavertonRider January 11, 2016 at 10:52 am

          A very dubious way of calculating the cost of auto deaths. I mean, it results in a number, but it’s not very enlightening. Was this $4.5b ever actually realized? If not, then, at best, this is a theoretical number that grossly overstates whatever economic impact there may have been.

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          • 9watts January 11, 2016 at 1:14 pm

            But look where this conversation, these different sets of numbers has got us. We’re debating which of these (if any) is the best representation, the best measure of loss, and why we think one or the other. This is enlightening, at least to me.

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    • BeavertonRider January 11, 2016 at 10:49 am

      But you do recognize that the CDC was not intending to measure private, personal loss, but rather the economic impact of auto deaths, right?

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      • 9watts January 11, 2016 at 1:12 pm

        I realize what they are about, but in eliding all other measurable and immeasurable costs they are also suggesting that what is important here are the two costs they fished out of their hats. Without any qualifiers, I do not think this is valid or useful.

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  • Nick Falbo January 11, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Count me *out* of the “walking with wheels” camp. Bicycling shares some attributes with walking and some attributes with driving, but it is it’s own unique beast. I think it does us disservice to treat it as if it were equivalent to one or the other.

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    • Spiffy January 11, 2016 at 9:19 am

      plus, I bike 3x as fast as I walk…

      yeah, I’m a slow cyclist… but a fast walker…

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    • paikiala January 11, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Witness: US culture v. European culture.

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      • B. Carfree January 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

        Or perhaps it has more to do with the relative distances covered. In many/most European settings, bike trips are typically very short, on the order 500 meters. Of course that makes bikes a substitute for walking. I find it odd that one would even bother riding such short distances, but they do it. Actually, that appears to be happening with bike share systems in US cities, so I don’t think the culture thing is a big player in relation to speed.

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        • was carless January 11, 2016 at 1:32 pm

          500 meters? Thats about 8 blocks in Portland.

          I’d have to see a source to believe that.

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        • El Biciclero January 12, 2016 at 10:19 am

          “…Of course that makes bikes a substitute for walking.”

          That’s an interesting observation. Here in the U.S., we tend to think of bicycling (for transportation) as a substitute for driving. That, combined with the typically greater distances Americans tend to travel, would likely have the greatest influence on average biking speed.

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    • soren January 11, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      The authors of that piece would recoil in horror at a Williams rush hour commute.

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    • Sam January 11, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      I don’t quite agree with the “walking on wheels” wording, but we as cyclists need to not ride at ‘highway speed’ through high-traffic areas like the new cluster-flub around the N. Williams New Seasons or the Esplanade. Keep the speed appropriate to the setting please.

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    • Mao January 11, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      Anything under a mile I’ll just walk unless I’m in a rush. If I can’t bike faster than I run, why bother?

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    • wsbob January 12, 2016 at 12:14 am

      A funny thing about the ‘In praise of slow cycling’ story, and in comments here about that subject, is that examples of mph or kph speeds considered to be slow cycling, are not mentioned.

      It’s not too difficult to imagine what speed might qualify as slow cycling. Easily, 5mph would qualify. Some people can ride along at 3mph, approximately walking speed, and might consider doing so to be easier than walking. I can believe that in cities where urban street infrastructure has been provided to support it, there may well be people content to bike along at no more than 10 mph.

      In Beaverton or Portland that I know of, the kind of infrastructure that would support slow riding, really doesn’t exist other than in Portland on the esplanade and the waterfront, and maybe the Springwater. Going fast as in 15mph and faster, is more the standard.

      According to the vancitybuzz story, this higher bike speed traveled, suggests our area’s bike culture is less mature than that of cities where people bike slower. Is that true? The story writers hail from and use VBC’s bike infrastructure as a comparison point to several U.S. cities, saying their city has the slow bike supporting infrastructure, and that the U.S. cities don’t.

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      • Tacoma January 12, 2016 at 12:48 pm

        From wsbob – “According to the vancitybuzz story, this higher bike speed traveled, suggests our area’s bike culture is less mature than that of cities where people bike slower. Is that true?”

        wsbob – are you asking if it’s true that this area’s bike culture IS less mature or asking if it’s true that the story suggests that this area’s bike culture is less mature?

        I expect it’s true that the story SUGGESTS that this area’s bike culture is less mature.

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        • wsbob January 13, 2016 at 12:53 am

          T…I was asking people reading here, whether they feel, given that people around here tend to generally ride at least 10 mph, and often up to 25 mph or faster, our area’s bike culture is less mature than that of cities where people ride more in the mph range of people that walk…say up to 7mph.

          Our area’s biking culture is mature, but our area’s biking infrastructure has not evolved to complement the biking culture’s maturity. Many people around here have been riding for years…decades even. Many of them are very good at capably riding the roads here.

          There’s a lack of local leaders recognizing that some people of our area’s bike culture need infrastructure more amenable to riding slow, than main lane adjoining painted line designated bike lanes can provide. I believe there is growing in our area, a need for places in neighborhoods where if they choose to, people can freely bike slow. That those type areas don’t exist yet, doesn’t mean that the biking culture here is not mature.

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  • q`Tzal January 11, 2016 at 8:46 am

    main article
    $4.9 billion: That’s the annual economic loss from traffic-related deaths in Texas alone.

    main article
    Autonomous cars: They could bankrupt the insurance industry by cutting collisions 80 percent, acorrding to a new report.

    Just think: on a national scale how much money will be injected back into the economy in a way useful to those that can’t afford the automotive lifestyle or chose not to?

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    • 9watts January 11, 2016 at 9:46 am

      Are you talking about shifting to self-driving cars, or shifting away from cars?

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      • q`Tzal January 11, 2016 at 10:53 am


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  • Spiffy January 11, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Texas Death PDF: “If you’re sober, over the age of 17, and have children properly in their seat then there’s nothing more you can do to prevent these deaths.”

    that’s the take-away message for drivers…

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    • q`Tzal January 11, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      Well, yeah.
      I’m in Texas right now. Even their cities are like sparse suburban strip malls on 12 lane stroads. Mass transit is a joke at best but usually non-existent.

      Your only choice is a car or a proper Texan vehicle: an F-350.

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  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson January 11, 2016 at 10:06 am

    80% fewer car crashes and 60% fewer cars with self driving cars. Can’t wait for the future!

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    • 9watts January 11, 2016 at 10:09 am

      Are these the same people that predicted that the segway would revolutionize how we get around?

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      • Champs January 11, 2016 at 12:50 pm

        Possibly, but this time feels pretty different.

        Autonomous cars solve the problem of human fallibility combined with expensive, dangerous machines.

        Segways solve the problem of… bipedal locomotion? Walking is far cheaper than that debatable convenience.

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    • wsbob January 11, 2016 at 11:50 am

      Didn’t read the article yet, but autonomous car’s future ability to reduce collisions, and excessive mph speed, sounds like a realistic possibility.

      Think of how autonomous car computer systems might help to handle neighborhood greenway situations such as on Clinton St on which diverters are being installed to reduce use of that street with motor vehicles. Motor vehicles so equipped could be programmed to automatically drop mph speed to say, 15 mph tops for the specified zones.

      Unlike small personal vehicles such as the segway, or electric bikes, motor vehicles have comparatively huge batteries for energy storage, giving them great versatility.

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  • dan January 11, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Admittedly, I have not RTFA, but why would fewer crashes be a problem for the auto insurance industry? Fewer payouts, and eventually they can cut rates. I’m guessing the rate cuts will be preceded by enough foot dragging that this will actually be a windfall for them. Do they expect a substantial decline in car ownership and hence the # of policies they write?

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    • paikiala January 11, 2016 at 10:28 am

      I see insurance rates as one of the key drivers shifting the fleet from human operated to autonomous. Who could afford the premiums to drive your own car when the self-driving version cuts the insurance company’s risk by more than half?
      Then consider the penalties imposed on those that choose to operate a vehicle and make a mistake.

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      • B. Carfree January 11, 2016 at 11:03 am

        Once self-driving cars are on the road in serious numbers, I think it will only be a few short years until motorists who want to drive their own will have to undergo more rigorous training than our current mirror-fogging test. Shortly thereafter, I wouldn’t be surprised to see non-autonomous cars banned.

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        • Mao January 11, 2016 at 12:50 pm

          “non-autonomous cars banned.”


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          • LC January 11, 2016 at 1:01 pm

            Really, because I’m more scared of the uncontrollable crazed killing perspective of untrained and unqualified people operating heavy machinery in public who prove themselves, year after year, day after day, incapable of doing so without a mass number of casualties surrounding the convenience of conveyance, labeled an inevitable necessary evil.

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          • was carless January 11, 2016 at 1:34 pm

            That’ll happen right after they ban guns in this country.

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            • q`Tzal January 11, 2016 at 5:35 pm

              It’s far more likely that automotive insurance companies will just hike the prices for human driving policies.
              Maybe you’ll get a discount for a thorough driver training course with annual refresher classes.
              Maybe they’ll dump you for the slightest infraction that self-driving systems don’t make.

              No matter what some people will choose to drive manually despite superior automated driving systems and automotive insurance companies will make those “patriotic individualists” pay through the nose.

              To which I say: good!

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              • El Biciclero January 12, 2016 at 10:27 am

                The only thing that scares me about this, and other programs to discourage driving by making it more expensive, is that eventually, we’d only have the very most self-important, entitled, me-first one-percenters driving around on “their” roads. These are already the folks I fear the most when out riding; I wonder how life will be when they make up 100% of the human-controlled driving “public”…

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                • q`Tzal January 13, 2016 at 11:45 am

                  Yes, I agree, it does favor the ultra wealthy allowing them to continue to drive dangerously as long as they can afford to.

                  Of course they already do this NOW.
                  The advantage of a road network filled with self-driving cars is dozens of recorded camera angles per incident and traffic infraction fines can skyrocket because the average person won’t be affected by them.

                  If only the rich can drive only the rich can be affected by moving violation fines. As such the costs of such violations will skyrocket.

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        • dan January 11, 2016 at 1:31 pm

          As far as I know, all the current systems rely on cameras that follow road stripes and can recognize other cars, pedestrians, etc. That means that today’s autonomous cars won’t work on a snowy road or off-road (or on freshly-paved roads with no striping, for that matter). There may be engineering fixes for these weaknesses, but it seems to be that we’re not quite ready to talk about banning non-autonomous cars.

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          • 9watts January 11, 2016 at 1:34 pm

            I think the autonomous car thing is vastly hyped. Every(OBD I and II) car I know well enough to speak to this that goes into the shop with a problem that the onboard diagnostic system is designed to analyze eventually comes out without that problem having been understood much less fixed. Somewhere between sensor, computer, and mechanic the system that was supposed to be so clever breaks down. Autonomous cars will be a thousand times more complex, and I’m not holding my breath that they will somehow magically triumph over these messy trans-system glitches.

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            • q`Tzal January 11, 2016 at 2:57 pm

              And yet you are able trust this evil Interwebs technology that constantly has hiccups and failures.

              The fact of the matter is that you are demanding 100% perfection with a zero failure rate before self-driving automobiles are allowed on the road.
              This is not needed nor is it representative of the human cognitive failure rate on American roads.

              Technology is advancing much faster than you and auto makers seem to be able to conceive.
              The technology and hardware IS robust, survivable and easily redundant.
              Even if insurance companies DON’T price shoddy self-driving systems out of the market their failure rates will be lower than the human failure rate AND the consequences of such failures will be fatal far less often than human drivers are now.

              Eventually, in the future (how far none know), automobiles will be near perfect in reliability (nothing is ever perfect). In the mean time your holy war on the mere existence of cars misses the opportunity that self-driving cars offer in dis-entangling Americans love of owning cars from their belief that they must drive those cars.

              Putting a wedge between the physical conveyance itself and the American Romance of Driving is an important step to ACTUALLY getting rid of cars. Make cars a boring, disposable, interchangeable consumer good with no more emotional investment than what brand of cotton swabs you use. You have to allow car lovers like Jay Leno to convince themselves that cars are a dumb idea that belongs in the dust bin of history.

              Don’t let Luddite tendencies get in the way of your final goal.

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              • 9watts January 11, 2016 at 3:04 pm

                “In the mean time your holy war on the mere existence of cars misses the opportunity that self-driving cars offer in dis-entangling Americans love of owning cars from their belief that they must drive those cars.”

                Oh, OK.

                “Putting a wedge between the physical conveyance itself and the American Romance of Driving is an important step to ACTUALLY getting rid of cars.”

                I like that theory. But I think your sequence is backwards. You’re operating on the assumption that we must convince Americans to jettison the car. While that might save us some heartache and handwringing, I don’t think we need to do any such thing. I suspect that constraints will overwhelm any imagined preference changes long before the autonomous car will work its magic.

                Weaning ourselves would be less painful but we’re unlikely to swallow that pill, opting instead for the cliff.

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                • q`Tzal January 11, 2016 at 5:26 pm

                  In the same way that facts, science and rational thought does not convince climate science deniers there is no amount of direct reasoning or cajoling that will convince the average American driver to give up their car.

                  Now, you do seem to favor apocalyptic societal collapse as a way to get Muricans out of their cars and I agree: that would definitely get people out of their cars…. and homes and careers and basically every single thing that is a foundation of a stable society.
                  If you are rooting for that sort of change understand: it won’t just be the Car Culture that burns to the ground, a lot of things you hold dear will burn in that pyre.

                  On the other hand:
                  Actively making cars incrementally more boring, stressful, expensive and generally less fun WHILE making safer and more environmentally efficient transportation options more attractive would achieve the same desired goal while not making it seem as if some evil outside force (gub’mint) is mandating the course of action.

                  The illusion of free will is more important than actual free will. I suspect I’m paraphrasing something from Machiavelli’s The Prince.

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                • 9watts January 11, 2016 at 7:01 pm

                  “Now, you do seem to favor apocalyptic societal collapse as a way to get Muricans out of their cars”

                  That is not at all what I said.
                  There is a world of difference between favor and predict.

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          • Opus the Poet January 11, 2016 at 5:32 pm

            Self-driving cars us a combination of sensors including visual, IR, Sonar, and laser doppler so that bad conditions for one sensor system doesn’t bring the vehicle to a complete halt.

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  • B. Carfree January 11, 2016 at 10:21 am

    The most intriguing thing I found in the effects of autonomous cars on insurance was the findings of Barclays that self-driving cars will decrease the number of cars by 60%. If the miles per car remain constant and the autonomous cars actually do for safety what they are predicted to do, we may just get some of our roads back for human-scale uses.

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    • Spiffy January 11, 2016 at 11:20 am

      we get 40% of the roads back?! that’s a lot of bike lanes…

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  • Lynne January 11, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Re: Taiwan’s mayor riding 230 miles in 21 hours. That’s cool. But, even here in Oregon, there is a small group of cyclists who do that, but without the support. http://orrandonneurs.org. We are part of our national organization: Randonneurs USA (www.rusa.org), and up the chain to the international organization, the Audax Club Parisien. You don’t have to be a rock star speedy cyclist to be successful, just very, very persistent.

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    • B. Carfree January 11, 2016 at 11:06 am

      And a great many of us have been doing such rides since long before RUSA existed. We just called it cycling. It was considered a logical progression for people to develop from utility riders to distance riders. Back in the early ’80s, almost 10% of the residents of Davis either rode or volunteered at their annual double century.

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    • Tacoma January 11, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      Hey, Lynne! Love the Oregon randonneurs. I have got to get down for one of your populaires. Question – Riding 380k in 21 hours would put the mayor within the randonneur time limit for 400k, right?

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  • Tom Hardy January 11, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    I have been doing century rides since 1958 when I started high school.

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  • Tom Hardy January 11, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I rode from Whiterock to Whistler and back in 1994 on my 50th birthday. 14.5 hours for 168 miles with 20,000 feet of climbing going and 15,000 feet of climbing coming back.

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    • q`Tzal January 11, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      Ok, ok, ok… So first you say you’ve been doing this since 1958, then you basically say you rode uphill both ways?!?

      Was there snow?

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  • Dan A January 12, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    And….Katie Compton won her 12th consecutive US national CX title.

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  • Eric Leifsdad January 12, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Slow cycling – once 8mph travel doesn’t make you 3 times as likely to get hit, your city has finally matured? http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/slow-cyclists-more-likely-to-be-involved-in-accidents-on-the-roads-a3145856.html

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