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The Monday Roundup

Posted by on June 24th, 2013 at 10:11 am

Did you miss the best bike stories on the web last week? If so, peruse our roundup to catch up…

— Probably the biggest story of last week was a NY Times article about the “sea of bikes” that “swamps” Amsterdam. It’s a situation playing out in many Dutch cities — they can’t build bike parking fast enough. I say that’s a great “problem” to have.

— Across the pond in the U.K., there’s a debate going on about how the bike industry can have the most impact in growing cycling. Some bloggers say companies should spend more funding direct advocacy and less on high-end press junkets (or “jollies”).

— Exciting news for Amtrak users: There’s a push on some of their east coast lines to add a bicycle baggage car.

— The Seattle version of the Disaster Relief Trials was held over the weekend. Here’s a recap of the event from a local TV station.

— There were two flying bikes going around last week. One was from the Czech Republic but it didn’t even involve pedaling. I prefer this model from a group of British inventors.

— This headline from the Twin City Sidewalks blog succeeded in getting our attention: Why Bikes are the Guns of Transportation Policy. The post was inspired by news that a pro-gun group planned to set up at an open streets event.

— Outside Magazine featured an article on a bike touring family that rolls with three small kids and a dog.

— This Cadillac ad noticed by Streetsblog is a classic of American car culture. It features a fashion consultant in NYC who says she “can’t get anything done without a car” in Manhattan.

— In Toronto folks are wisely considering a streetcar-only zone on one of their downtown streets during rush hour. I’ll use this as an opportunity to point out how ridiculous and broken Portland’s downtown “transit” mall is and how it would behoove our local leaders to consider making it carfree.

— New York-based advocacy group Transportation Alternatives released a study claiming that 88% of people drive too fast in Brooklyn.

— In a strange twist, while I was in the Netherlands for a reporting and study tour, Bicycle Dutch blogger Mark Wagenbuur was in the U.S. on a similar trip. He shared his perspectives on U.S. cycling with a blog post and video that is well worth checking out.

— And speaking of perspectives, I shared a few Portland cycling tips with Canadian media outlet The Globe and Mail.

— And our video of the week is of famous road cycling pro Peter Sagan parking his bike:

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.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Chris I
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Chris I

Bicycle baggage cars should be on every Amtrak train. I believe Amtrak has a lot of excess baggage car rolling stock around the country (they don’t really wear out). They probably just need a minor refurb, and the addition of bike racks. This should be a money-maker for Amtrak, as these cars will barely cost anything to tow around, and they should be able to charge $5 or $10 a trip to add bikes. Having to box bikes is ridiculous. Every non-high-speed train I rode in Germany had a car with a large cargo area for bikes, strollers, etc. Many were simply part of a standard car.

http://velo-city.org/touring/envirofuel-files-wordpress.com-2008-01-bahn-bicycle-carriage-inside.jpg

wade
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wade

wow, cycling in the US looks really lame from the Dutch perspective.

Champs
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Champs

What I’ve seen of Holland’s shortage of bike spaces has to do with people using them for storage or abandoning their bikes. It’s like rusty cars on my street that never move or the tarp-covered mulch heaps that line Portland neighborhood streets.

That’s not parking, and it’s not a good problem to have.

Paul
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Paul

In order to grow cycling, the the bike industry needs to shift it’s stance from performance-oriented sports toys to something more commuter friendly. The great majority of riders don’t need the bike-equivalent of a Ferrari.

Granpa
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Granpa

The Dutch perspective reinforces a favorite BikePortland snobbery – the superiority of the upright bike. This anti-fashion of less efficiency and greater weight, may be seen as the ultimate for cycling Luddites, but the slower and heavier is not necessarily better. If you want to ride like Mary Poppins, fine but I will lean forward a bit so I can push harder. FWIW my fleet contain no carbon fiber bikes and no one could claim I ride fast.

And the anti-helmet turn of the article left me cold. Motor vehicles are a real and serious problem. A helmet won’t save you if you are crushed, but getting knocked down (or just falling down) and hitting your head will make a helmet a valid investment. Perhaps America’s perception that cycling is dangerous has some truth to it. Frankly the article could have been written by half the participants of this blog.

jered
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jered

was that Sagan or a stunt double? I know he came from Mt. Biking, but the car stunt is a little risky for such and expensive “asset”. More power to him if it was him goofing and having fun on the bike!!

Oliver
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Oliver
bendite
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bendite

I would guess that our bike rides, where ever we’re going and what ever the reason, are longer than the average Dutch cyclists, which might encourage us to ride faster.

Caleb
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Caleb

To those who find the Dutch man “parochial”, “condescending”, and/or “annoying”, can you please explain in detail what specifically made you consider him each way and why?

Caleb
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Caleb

JRB
What I find funny about all this is that as you and Dave are so insistent that Europeans are so different from us that they must be from a different planet, one of the Dutch commenters to the NYT article linked above said the reason pedestrians might find him rude is because he is in such a hurry to get somewhere when on his bike. That was exactly the point Davemess was making, that not everybody in the Netherlands cycles in the “Dutch” style. Just an observation in response to Mark Wagenbuur’s blog where Wagenburr bemoans how people ride here. I don’t understand why that prompts people to lecture those whom they perceive to be ignorant.

Neither lazyofay nor Dave insisted Europeans are so different from us they must be from a different planet. Neither one said anything indicating they disagree with davemess’s point that not everyone here is in a hurry just as some in the Netherlands may be in a hurry. Also, I think “bemoan” is a dramatic characterization of Wagenburr’s commentary.

How do you know anybody considers anybody else “ignorant”? Might you be the one “lecturing”?

Caleb
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Caleb

wsbob
Not with that exact phrase, ‘at fault’, but he definitely was otherwise saying he thinks people in the U.S., have the idea that biking obliges the use of hi-vis clothing, bike helmets and racing style bikes (rather than upright riding style bikes, city street clothes, sans helmets as many people in Amsterdam do), which he thinks keeps people in the U.S. from riding.

Yeah, but saying that is different from blaming people who use hi-vis clothing, helmets, and racing style bikes. JRB says it’s the individual who is solely responsible for the choice to ride, and Wagenburr never said anything to contradict that idea, so he can acknowledge and believe that idea while also thinking people have ideas of what bicycling obliges.

Dave
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In talking about Wagenbuur’s article, I think there are some important cultural differences between the U.S. and the Netherlands that may be causing some misunderstandings here, as well.

In the Netherlands, saying ‘cyclist’ is like saying ‘grocery shopper’ here. It doesn’t refer to any specific type of person, it simply reflects the action the person is performing at the moment, riding a bicycle. Because of this, you see all types of people on bicycles, in all styles of dress (including on racing bikes with lycra) – the entire variety that exists in the society at large.

The entire system in the Netherlands including law, education and infrastructure gives people riding bicycles *choice* of how to ride, and makes all of those choices safe and convenient. You can ride quickly, you can ride slowly. You can take direct routes, you can take more circuitous routes. All of them are easily available to anyone who gets on a bicycle.

In contrast, in most places in the U.S. neither of these is the case. The word ‘cyclist’ often means a very specific characterization of a person, and those characterizations are often adopted and propagated by people who ride bicycles. While it is starting to change, it is still the case that you can often spot a person in a store or walking and say ‘oh, they just got off a bike’ and be correct, because there is a particular style and type of dress that is *more* common among people who ride bicycles. I don’t think Wagenbuur is saying there is anything wrong with that style, but simply the fact that this style is prevalent implies that there is a more narrow demographic of people riding bicycles – because if everyone was riding, you’d see the entire diversity of style and preference in society on bicycles as well as walking and driving.

Similarly with people hurrying – I think his point here is that most U.S. transportation infrastructure forces you into either hurrying or getting off the road. I don’t think he’s saying that you should be *unable* to hurry, or that there’s anything wrong with hurrying, but that U.S. infrastructure mostly removes the choice to *not* hurry.

In terms of what will or won’t get more people to try riding bicycles, I think what he is trying to say, is that a greater diversity of people riding bicycles will appeal to a greater diversity of people. I don’t think anyone will object to the fact that to many people, riding fast and hard and dressing in sporty clothing is not appealing. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with riding fast and hard and wearing sporty clothing, just that different people have different preferences. But, when you see *mostly* people riding fast and hard and in sporty clothing, if that’s not your thing, it’s not going to appeal to you. General point being, if you see people from all cross-sections of society on bikes, you’re going to look at riding a bike as something anyone from any cross-section of society can do as a normal activity.

I also don’t think you can deny that, at least to some people, a helmet and high-viz clothing implies *dangerous*. I saw an insurance ad on a billboard last year that read “Like doing things that require a helmet?” Clearly they share that assessment that at least a certain number of people equate helmet with dangerous. That’s got nothing to do with an individual person’s choice to wear or not wear a helmet, because everyone’s circumstances and tolerance varies, but a safer environment (including infrastructure and law) lets more people feel at ease, and you see fewer people making the effort to protect themselves from their environment.

So, in conclusion, I think really Wagenbuur, by mentioning these sort of societal traits, was rather making a point about the root causes of those traits than about the traits themselves.