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The Monday Roundup

Posted by on February 1st, 2010 at 10:52 am

Here’s the news that caught our eye this week:

– In last week’s round of federal investment in high speed rail corridors, the Pacific Northwest has been assigned nearly $600 million. Portland will use $8 million to fix Union Station’s leaky roof, and Washington State will use the rest for track installation and repair.

– Use of hand held cell phones while driving has been illegal in Oregon for a month. And has this made any difference in public safety? Unlikely, say the experts, since hands-free devices are just as dangerous.

– How does one humble citizen, or group, or organization get their voice heard at the state DOT? Here’s an excellent primer.

– A new study has found links between foreclosure risk and car dependence, measured by neighborhood vehicle ownership levels.

– A U.S. planning firm has released its street design manual for Abu Dhabi—which it hopes to set a new standard in design for “multi-modal” cities.

– The old gray lady herself weighs in on electric bicycles.

– In California, the traffic control department has issued various rulings that pertain to bicycle traffic.

– The Washington State legislature is currently considering a complete streets bill.

– In North Carolina, a ring of lawyers has been convicted of altering court records to let alleged DUI offenders off the hook.

– In West Virginia, the auto dealers association has made a public statement supporting the coal industry.

– In the outer-east reaches of Portland, a lone voice in the wilderness calls for help—or at least for other bike commuting families to show themselves.

– In South Africa, says this essay, cultural attitudes can be a major deterrent to bicycling—particularly for women.

– Scotland is considering legislation that would automatically place fault on the person driving in any bike-car collision.

– In the U.K., a carfree vacation resort has experienced a wave of bicycle thefts.

– Caspar the commuting cat has hopped on his final bus. Read a touching tribute here.

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Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

In reference to the California news…

It is interesting that the AAA has two seats on the CTCDC in California (one each for northern and southern districts).

This seems an inappropriate professional and technical duplication on a single committee for a for-profit (?) membership based corporation. [Similar the the CRC task force: WA and OR AAA had separate seats but none for BTA/ BAW.]

A better and for fairer option would be for the northern and southern AAA branch representatives to rotate in a single seat for motorists and the open seat be set aside for a rotating representative for non-motorized road users.

Kt
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Kt

I hope Oregon uses more than $8 to fix the roof at Union Station! 🙂

Elly, I think you forgot “million” after the $8. 🙂

cyclist
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cyclist

$8.00 buys you two rolls of duct tape, that should be plenty to fix the leaks in the roof. It’s good to see our government being cost conscious in this economic climate.

shawn.
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shawn.

And if you go to Dollar Scholar on Hawthorne, you could get EIGHT rolls of duct tape for $8! Now only if they sold some tarps…

q`Ztal
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q`Ztal

Spray foam covered with black plastic bags < $8.00

Dan Kaufman
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RE: hands free devices. They don’t cause a blind spot and allow drivers to use both hands – common sense tells me that is safer.

Seager
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Seager

#7,

Common sense and research findings don’t always agree. You make a valid hypothesis, which I used to agree with, but research has shown otherwise.

skyc
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skyc

The problem isn’t cell phones per se, it’s distracted driving. When you’re holding a conversation your reaction time goes down, whether you’re holding your cell phone, using a hands-free phone, or talking to someone else in the car. Or reading the newspaper, or watching a movie…

BicycleDave
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BicycleDave

Hands free or not it is actually more distracting to carry on a conversation over a cell phone than it is to have a conversation with a passenger. That’s because when you have a conversation over a cell phone much of your attention is consumed by imagining the expressions on the face and the environment of the person you are talking with. From NYT:

One possible explanation is that a cellphone conversation taxes not just auditory resources in the brain but also visual functions, said Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. That combination, he said, prompts the listener to, for example, create visual imagery related to the conversation in a way that overrides or obscures the processing of real images.

BicycleDave
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BicycleDave

In other words hands free use of cell phones does nothing to address the inherent attention deficit of carrying on a cell phone conversation. So it does not surprise me at all that laws requiring hands free cell phone use have no effect on safety. To increase safety all cell phone use for drivers needs to be banned. Among other things.

Spencer Boomhower
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Spencer Boomhower

Seems like digging around for a headset or earbud, and trying to plug it into a ringing phone before it stops ringing would cause a major – if momentary – distraction, even if it does even eventually lead to hands-free cell phone use.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

The hands on cell phone ban in SW Washington has been a big failure…from what I see on the streets of Vancouver.

There seems to be as many or more drivers still driving distracted (a lot of Oregon plates too) even 1 year after it became law in WA. The WA legislature is considering a bill to make use of cellphone without a hands free devise a primary infraction vs. a secondary infraction. I think OR learned a bit from our experience up here. I hope handsfree [non emergency] use of cellphones becomes illegal for drivers in future updates.

Steve B
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My thoughts on the cell phone law and it’s ineffectiveness is plain and simple: even if many tickets are issued, most drivers continue to talk on the phone. In New York State where a cell phone ban took effect in 2001, many drivers are still seen with a phone to the ear.

I don’t think many folks take the law seriously, even if they do receive a ticket.

jeff s
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jeff s

I swear the original Boregonian article last week on Amtrak Cascades funding mentioned using some of the $600 mil for expanding service between Portland and Seattle…but there’s nothing about it in the blog link.

Am i imagining this?

matthew v
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matthew v

from what i understand the washington state hand held cell phone ban cannot be the primary reason for a traffic stop, just a auxilliary or secondary cause? can someone correct or fill me in? is it a inforcement issue?

Pete
Guest
Pete

California outlawed handheld use but you wouldn’t know it. I got right-hooked last week by a lady on an iPhone (ironically in front of Apple’s headquarters). Managed to keep the bike up as I bounced off her rear tire (taking the turn with her) but she was ticked off that I stood in front of her in the parking lot and wouldn’t move until she hung up the phone.

Had the discussion about the conversation being distracting with a friend last week (after this happened) and he made a good point that if the other person is in the car with you at least there’s another set of eyes to see that you’re going to hit something!

She
Guest
She

Sounds like time to move for a complete cell phone ban in Oregon! Let’s go for it!