Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

The Monday Roundup

Posted by on February 15th, 2010 at 2:38 pm

– China is forging ahead in building high speed rails for sleek, fast trains, while the Obama administration warns of the US falling behind.

– What if every time there was a crash involving a car and someone on foot or on a bike, the person behind the wheel of the 2,000 pound machine were held automatically liable? Some countries already work that way.

– A glimpse into the complex world of where highway subsidies come from and why they are becoming increasingly unaffordable.

– Is population density really necessary for a place to have a high rate of bicycling? Or is it more about infrastructure?

– Perhaps not surprisingly, many people seem to believe that they are very safe drivers, even when they are sending text messages from behind the wheel.

– In Seattle, wrangling continues over filling a contentious gap in the Burke-Gilman bike trail; also, activists are growing concerned that a freeway bridge billed at six lanes may end up including ten.

– What’s the least well-known source of waterway pollution in our region? Copper wearing away from auto brakepads and getting mixed up in stormwater run-off, of course. Fortunately, there’s a push for alternatives.

– Tampa, Florida has invented an innovative way to add lanes to a freeway, much to the delight of highway activists.

– Fort Worth, Texas has just committed to a bike plan more ambitious than Portland’s.

– Streetsblog San Francisco reviews the sometimes sedate, sometimes sordid history of the policing of Critical Mass.

– In the Netherlands, the bike parking crisis continues to escalate, especially near train stations.

– An art student in Oxford, UK has been drawing attention to local potholes not with spray paint but by planting them with primroses.

– In New York, the trial period has ended and the mayor has announced that pedestrianized Times Square will become permanent. The heavily designed NYC version of the bike staple is starting to crop up.

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  • Jackattak February 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    My goodness why can’t a politician with some cojones just stand up to all the drivers and pass something like Strict Liability in Oregon?

    With something like that here, the streets would be leagues safer for those of us who use the streets without the security of a 4,000-lb. steel cage.


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  • tony February 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    jackattak, that’s what I’m saying!

    You have a version of it when you rear-end somebody in a car, why not all car vs. non-car accidents.

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  • Jeff February 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    It’s not really strict liability (which is a good thing) when you consider two points from that copenhagenize site:

    – Strict liability entitles a crash victim to compensation unless the driver can prove the cyclist or pedestrian was at fault.
    – Strict liability would be a matter of civil rather than criminal law so would not affect criminal prosecutions.

    The first, especially, is critical. If someone (vulnerable roadway user) maliciously or wantonly causes a collision, they should be strictly at fault (both civilly and criminally), not a driver operating their vehicle safely and legally.

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  • Jackattak February 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Jeff –

    Agreed. Strict Liability isn’t my usage…it’s the usage of Copenhagen and the Netherlands.

    And I agree with you, obviously. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would stand for a no-holds-barred, “the driver is always wrong” law.

    I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about the criminal implications of the law as I am about the civil implications of the law, particularly with the news as of late with all the talk of lines not continuing through intersections and whatnot (not to mention lack of good pedestrian/cyclist insurance).

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  • middle of the road guy February 15, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Automatic liability is a bad idea.

    I think it would make the cyclists less safe, as they are now less liable for their actions and safety.

    You can have someone make a claim, and the potentially innocent party having to prove the accuser is either lying or not accurate.

    This is one of the problems with the court system today….anyone can sue. it’s essentially placing liability on the other.

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  • Kt February 15, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    In the comments of the CM article, there is a person with very well-reasoned and well-written thoughts. His “handle” is “Benjamin”. I urge everyone to read his comments.

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  • tony February 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    middle of the road guy:

    I guess it’s a bad idea if you ignore the reality that the majority of car/bike accidents are not the result of cyclist negligence. I certainly am not out there trying to kill myself.

    It’s only a “bad idea” because people can imagine themselves “accidentally” killing or maiming someone and they don’t want to be held accountable when they do.

    Driving is a dangerous act and should be treated as such by people doing the driving.

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  • wsbob February 15, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    “- Strict liability entitles a crash victim to compensation unless the driver can prove the cyclist or pedestrian was at fault.” Copenhagenize.com/’Strict Liability’/feb 03

    This sounds like ‘guilty until proven innocent’. I’ve heard that the U.S. military operates on this principle regarding questions of guilt or innocence. In civilian society, would this really be a fair way to assign compensation to people with injuries and damage occurring in collisions between bike and motor vehicle?

    Kt, how about a link to ‘Benjamin’s’ comments so people don’t have to sort through all the crappy ones to read them?

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  • Red Five February 16, 2010 at 6:22 am

    I could see a lot of scammers throwing themselves into cars to score some quick cash. Let’s leave this law in Dopenhagen.

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  • Kt February 16, 2010 at 9:37 am

    WS Bob, some of “Benjamin”‘s comments directly respond, without quoting, to some of the other comments– the whole thing is worth a read, I think.

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  • tony February 16, 2010 at 9:53 am

    wsbob and Redfive,

    Since it’s not criminal guilt, the presumption of innocence does not apply. It’s not that the driver wouldn’t have any chance to fight the charge, but they’d have to prove it. Think of all the pedestrian deaths where you read that the driver “didn’t see them” and was released on the scene. I think the current situation is far too lax.

    I also think that the few crazies who might be willing to kill themselves for money aren’t dissuaded, or even stymied, but the current lack of protections for pedestrians and cyclists. That’s a BS argument, and you know it.

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  • Jackattak February 16, 2010 at 10:13 am

    @ Tony –

    Agreed and well said. This law is far overdue in our country, driver’s majority be damned. People are dying and being injured nearly daily (daily?) with little to zero repercussions to the drivers of these vehicles and/or recourse to the vulnerable users.

    This law isn’t going to make me go bounding into the street. Rather, it’s going to make Mr. Wheeler think twice before getting behind the wheel.

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  • Anonymous February 16, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I don’t think automatic liability would help that much. What would help is doing away with the term “accident” and requiring jail time for anyone at-fault in an injury collision. Also, toss out “didn’t see them” as an excuse. If you didn’t see them, you weren’t looking. (ok there are exceptions to that but generally it’s still true.)

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  • wsbob February 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Tony, of course, it was Red Five and not myself that suggested ‘scammers’ could exploit the ‘strict liability’. I’m sure they could, but that’s not what I was thinking of.

    I’m thinking of collision situations where clear responsibility for a collision may be vague or not easily tied to either motor vehicle driver, persons riding a bike, or pedestrians; In a simple word: ‘accidents’.

    With a concept such as ‘strict liability’ in force as law, motor vehicle drivers could wind up bearing the burden of responsibility and expense for a situation they they may not have had much control over.

    In a collision with a motor vehicle, a pedestrian or cyclist doesn’t have to only be coincidental contributors to the collision, but have to actually have been proven by the motor vehicle operator to have caused the collision in order for the motor vehicle operator to shoulder only their portion of responsibility for the collision?

    If ‘strict liability’ does not mean ‘guilty until proven innocent’, what does it mean? ‘Heavier vehicle pays’?

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  • KruckyBoy February 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    ‘Strict liability’ is ridiculous. Every day at SE Clinton and SE 21rst bikers blow through the 4 way stop, very frequently causing near misses with motor vehicles.

    All vehicle operators are responsible for their actions. Period. In my opinions ‘Strict liability’ is absolute and utter crap. Let’s evaluate all accidents in a professional and without bias.

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  • tony February 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm


    I was just combining a response into a post, didn’t mean to put words in your mouth.

    I can’t argue with your assessment there, I guess the difference is that I think it’s the right way for it to be.

    I certainly understand the frustration of motor vehicle drivers and the sometimes dangerous actions of cyclists. I’ve yelled at other bikers for splitting lanes, passing on the right, and running lights. That said, I’ve come to the conclusion that the real burden of change needs to be on the people in the bigger vehicle, because they’re the one who’s going to be OK while the more vulnerable party is going to be injured or killed.

    If you’re driving a car downtown, you should never be driving so fast or not paying enough attention that you’re going to hit someone. I’d say unless someone is literally crouching behind a car to jump out into the path, you should be able to stop. Why? Because you are in a deadly machine driving around people and bikes and strollers and other cars.

    It’s taken me a while to adopt this position, but I don’t think that there’s any other way to get the point in car driver’s brains that THEY need to be more careful, regardless of anyone on the street’s actions, because THEY are in the car. People are far too cavalier and far too distracted because the penalty for killing someone is pretty much nil.

    There’s no promise of “innocence before proof of guilt” when you’re dealing with a civil case. As I mentioned above, we already accept that if you rear-end someone, you’re assumed guilty. Just like if you are in an accident while you’re making a left turn, presumed guilt.

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  • BicycleDave February 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I would argue there is no such thing as an accident when a car is involved. Automobiles are heavy machinery and inherently dangerous. The act of getting behind the wheel of a car is a choice. When the fault of a crash is ambiguous then the responsibility for the choice to operate an inherently dangerous vehicle should apply.

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  • Florida No Fault February 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    To be honest, it doesn’t matter how many lanes they add to the freeways in Florida, there are always going to be delays!

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  • q`Tzal February 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Subject: pedestrianized Times Square
    Have bikes been allowed in this area?
    Was it resurfaced or was the original road surface left as is?
    If the road surface was left alone this would be an interesting real world experiment on the decreased maintenance costs of road surfaces when heavy vehicles are removed.

    If the original road surface was left
    and heavy bicycle traffic still used it
    and Broadway required minimal repairs the whole project would seem to empirically prove (to the government and thus general public) that bicycle traffic has a negligible financial effect on roads. This might help to quell some of the “bikes don’t pay their way” echo chamber.

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  • wsbob February 17, 2010 at 12:55 am

    First item for the bikeportland staff: Is a technical problem responsible for article such as the Monday Roundup disappearing into the ‘older posts’ page already? After all, this is only Tuesday…it’s not as if this is a particularly old thread.

    Tony, I realize you weren’t intending to put words in my mouth, but I did want to clarify to everyone reading that my reservations about ‘strict liability’ wasn’t related to scammers.

    How this idea of ‘strict liability’ works out in those places that use it, and the reasoning and community discussion that led up to its implementation in those places is something many of probably will be looking to learn more about, myself…for sure.

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