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The Monday Roundup: Norway’s billion-dollar biking network, Florida’s Uber subsidy & more

Posted by on March 7th, 2016 at 9:43 am

Overlooking Bergen, Norway.
(Photo: Brent Sigmund Olsen)

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by the Cycle & Sip ride. Hosted by Eola Hills Winery on March 13th, this event combines a beautiful ride with excellent wine and food.

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

National bike network: Norway just agreed to spend $1 billion to build “10 broad, two-lane, cross-country bike tracks in and near Norway’s nine largest cities.”

Uber subsidy: Altamonte Springs, Florida, will underwrite 25 percent of every Uber ride in an effort to boost transit ridership.

New group: “Black Girls Do Bike seems to be one of the fastest-growing bicycle organizations around,” writes Momentum in an interview with its founder.

Bike parking: Responding to its ongoing boom in biking, Vancouver BC tripled its rate of bike parking installation in 2015, adding 289 public racks in 12 months.

MPG ratings stall: A year of lower gas prices has stopped the country’s progress toward fuel efficiency in its tracks.

Artificial savings: By failing to include the cost of transportation to housing, federal housing subsidies are pushing many poor people into the boonies.

Parking and poverty: “We are poisoning our cities with too much parking,” writes Don Shoup in an explanation of how “free” parking hurts poor people.

Car-free cities: “The car century was a seductive mistake,” adds J.H. Crawford in an argument for car-free cities, part of the same WaPo series.

Social engineering: If you want people to change their travel habits, giving people the same tax benefits for transit tickets and parking helps, but what really gets their attention is giving the tax benefit only to transit.

Dehumanized drivers: After a Michigan man allegedly went on a murder spree in between his evening’s Uber fares, National Geographic says “as Uber and Lyft and other services race to enroll drivers in an employment model imitating that of long-haul trucking, it’s worth considering the possible effects, not just on riders, but on the health and well-being of drivers.”

Self-driving cars: Most Americans already want their next car to include some autonomous features.

Google crash: It took more than 1 million miles, but a self-driving car has caused a collision for the first time: a 2 mph impact with a bus.

Carbon tax: Washington might vote on the nation’s first statewide tax on greenhouse gases, despite opposition from legislators in both parties.

Clean-air lawsuit: The UK government faces sanctions from its own Supreme Court unless it reduces deadly nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel vehicles.

Bike benefits: As Silicon Valley startups pare back exectuve signing bonuses, one that’s been on the chopping block is the free $10,000 bicycle.

Bike lane pushback: Some San Diego retailers are resisting a plan to replace some auto parking spaces with protected bike lanes.

Regulated fun: Napa County now requires permits (including, potentially, the hiring of traffic cops) for pay-to-ride bike events.

Better measure: San Francisco now officially measures the environmental impact of a project not by how much it slows auto traffic but by how much new traffic it creates.

Two-wheel weather station: A Cleveland academic has rigged up a “research-grade weather station on a bicycle.”

Pronto purchase: Seattle City Council’s transportation committee voted 4-2 to recommend bailing out the local bike share system by taking it over.

Bike share touring: We’d missed this short 2014 film about three friends who rode bike share bikes from London to Paris.

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

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  • soren March 7, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Seattle City Council’s transportation committee voted 4-2 to recommend bailing out the local bike share system by taking it over.

    Until King Country repeals the discriminatory and unnecessary helmet requirement bike share in Seattle will continue to fail.

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    • wsbob March 7, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      King County and other areas of Washington state, have an all ages mandatory helmet use requirement; given that everyone riding a bike is required to use a bike helmet, the requirement isn’t discriminatory.

      As to how necessary people in Washington feel the mandatory helmet use law is, apparently many people in that state do feel it’s necessary, which probably is why the requirement continues to stand.

      If it’s true that the requirement is significantly figuring into the less than hoped for performance of the bike share system, Seattle might consider eliminating the helmet use requirement, or amending it to make it age specific, such as 16 and under, or 14 and under.

      The entirety of King County doesn’t have to drop the helmet use requirement in order to keep that requirement from being an obstacle towards greater use of the bike share system, if the requirement is in fact a big reason the bike share isn’t doing well.

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      • 9watts March 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm

        “apparently many people in that state do feel it’s necessary, which probably is why the requirement continues to stand.”

        How do you know this?
        Did people think that gay marriage was a bad idea until the day the Supreme Court said it was OK?
        What about the people in states where no helmet law obtains? Do you believe they feel differently than those in Washington State?

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      • B. Carfree March 7, 2016 at 1:02 pm

        The fact that only cyclists are required to wear helmets does make it discriminatory. Motorists are 12% more likely to suffer serious head injuries than cyclists on a per hour basis, and motor vehicle helmets are vastly superior at preventing these injuries relative to styrofoam hats, yet there are no requirements for motorists to wear helmets. Pedestrians are more than twice as prone to head injuries, but there’s no pedestrian helmet requirement.

        When activities that are statistically more dangerous aren’t required to adhere to the same safety equipment standards, the public safety argument falls flat. It’s simple bike hate tribalism that keeps these silly laws in place. There is a common (mis) perception that cycling is dangerous. Helmet laws reinforce this myth. The single most common reason given for not cycling is that perceived danger. Put it together: one of the primary reasons for and the biggest impact of helmet laws for cyclists is to suppress cycling participation numbers.

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        • wsbob March 9, 2016 at 10:48 am

          “… does make it discriminatory. …” b carfree

          As much as you may wish it were otherwise, I think the argument you’re suggesting, that Washington’s all ages mandatory bike helmet is discriminatory because people traveling by motor vehicle or on foot, aren’t required to wear helmets, would be a very, very hard one to successfully make to people supporting Washington’s helmet use law.

          It might be more possible to successfully make the argument, were travel by motor vehicle, bike, and foot, more comparable to each other. for example: if the maximum speed of each travel mode was the same (say 25 mph, essentially the top speed of a bike on level ground.). Motor vehicles travel much faster than 25mph…people on foot can’t walk much faster than about 4.5 mph.

          And also, if within the range of speed that bikes can travel, the potential for, say, head injuries for people traveling in motor vehicles, or walking, was comparable to the potential for head injuries of people riding bikes. I have a strong feeling the potential isn’t comparable, and, that the rate of head injuries associated with motor vehicle travel that you’re citing, is not occurring as a result of motor vehicle speeds traveled within the range of speed people generally travel on bikes.

          Even in the case of collisions between motor vehicles, where a fast traveling motor vehicle impacts a motor vehicle traveling speeds people on bikes generally do, the potential for injury to people traveling in motor vehicles is mitigated by an extensive list of safety features…car body, seat belts, head restraints, padded dashes, air bags, etc none of which bikes are equipped with.

          The argument you present may sound very good to people that would like a complete suspension of mandatory bike helmet laws, but it’s one that’s probably going to be very unpersuasive to people that support mandatory bike helmet use laws. Do those people in support of those laws, make the majority? I don’t know for certain, but it would seem so.

          If helping out the bike share system in Seattle, if it comes to deciding to do something about the mandatory bike helmet use law people riding bikes in city are subject to, that Seattle residents could be persuaded to suspend that law, based on the argument you present, seems very unlikely.

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      • Pete March 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

        “As to how necessary people in Washington feel the mandatory helmet use law is, apparently many people in that state do feel it’s necessary, which probably is why the requirement continues to stand.”

        The last thing I want is a number of people who know nothing about bicycling or bicycle safety determining what’s proper for me. Ironically, I can (and often do) legally kitesurf and ski/snowboard in Washington state without a helmet, and I know more people who’ve been killed or seriously injured doing that than bicycling.

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    • wsbob March 9, 2016 at 1:30 am

      “…Until King Country repeals the discriminatory and unnecessary helmet requirement bike share in Seattle will continue to fail.” soren

      Portland, which doesn’t have an all ages mandatory bike helmet use law, and which soon will begin implementation of its bike share system, will have some opportunity for indication as to what bearing bike helmet use not required for people over the age of 16, may have on people deciding whether to use bike share bikes.

      There likely is some percentage of total potential bike share riders, that would choose not to use bike share if the use of a bike helmet was required. Most likely, the number of people so deciding, would not be all potential bike share users.

      This raises the question of what percent of total potential riders there are whose need for the service bike share offers, is significant enough to them that they’ll make arrangements necessary to meet the helmet use requirement: for example, either rent a helmet from helmet vending machines such as Seattle has available, or buy their own helmet (new, serviceable helmets are available for twenty bucks or less.).

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  • Ian March 7, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Washington WILL vote on the nation’s first statewide tax on greenhouse gases. Either legislators will vote on it this week, or the voters will in November.

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  • Champs March 7, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Likewise helmet-mandatory Vancouver BC is “[r]esponding to its ongoing boom in biking [by tripling] its rate of bike parking installation in 2015, adding 289 public racks in 12 months.”

    Of course that’s BYO instead of sharing. When I bike to the store, I’ve got the Ortliebs in tow at minimum. Half the time when I walk, I can’t even remember a bag. Who’s carrying a helmet around because they *might* need one?

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    • Champs March 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      (in reply to soren)

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  • Pete March 7, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    I still really want to know if and when that Google car’s left turn signal came on!

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    • eddie March 7, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      I’m just waiting for the first fatality and the legal sh+tstorm which will inevitably follow. If those things hit the road I’m not going to feel at all safe cycling around them.

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      • Dan A March 8, 2016 at 7:02 am

        Which things? The 4000lb cages going 10 mph over the speed limit with large squishy things controlling them? Yeah, they make me nervous too.

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      • Pete March 8, 2016 at 6:08 pm

        Actually I live in silicon valley and have driven and cycled around them before (in autonomous mode, seemingly, due to driving at or below speed limits). In the early days you saw them all over but they were being driven; ironically often over the speed limit which many people do here. On two occasions I tried to position myself to the car’s right coming up on a slip lane to see what it would do, if it happened to be taking the right. It went straight on one occasion and on another the driver took over and jumped into a left turn lane and turned (unsignaled).

        I think autonomous cars are only one factor in a technology equation that’s already starting to change the nature of our roads; another being real-time traffic route optimization. If I were to guess at which of those two will be less beneficial to road cyclists, I’m gonna guess the latter.

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      • Pete March 8, 2016 at 6:12 pm

        Seriously, having worked on autonomous vehicles (fixed-wing aircraft, and previously stereoscopic imaging for an experimental heli and an off-road hummer), I really am fascinated with the complexities of how they are applying the ‘rules of the road’, and adjusting them in real time to changing circumstances (which we all do from time to time regardless of mode).

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  • K'Tesh March 7, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    After watching that video about the guys pedaling from London to Paris, I’m thinking that I should ride around in China… I wouldn’t have a long way to go to do it (walk out my door).

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  • Tim Davis March 7, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Amazingly enough, if you read the Norway article, you’ll see that this $1 billion bike highway plan is only a small part of the incredible things that a country of only 5 million people is doing to combat emissions, pollution, etc. I dream of having leaders both locally and nationally that have this kind of vision, boldness and political will.

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