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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 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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Chris I June 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

    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.

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  • wade June 24, 2013 at 11:38 am

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

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    • Champs June 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

      I just thought he was parochial and condescending.

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      • Chris I June 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm

        That doesn’t make him wrong.

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        • Champs June 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

          There’s nothing wrong with wearing spandex just because not for’s

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          • Chainwhipped June 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm

            Spandex make for bad paradigm it does. Haughty making “cyclists” seem.

            Amsterdam + Bike + street clothes = Just some guy going somewhere.

            Cincinnati + Bike + street clothes = DUI

            Wear spandex when it’s appropriate. Fine, Super, OK. I like that kind of “real” bike ride, too. I can be fun and rewarding and I wouldn’t trade my awesome road bike for the finest Duccati in the line. But If you only ride a bicycle in your stretchy pants and tap shoes, I pity you because you’ve missed the point.

            Public perception matters. If the only adults we see on bikes are in spandex, it paints a picture of a privileged class – and one that most people, like it or not, do not identify with and really don’t care to. If we want to change that, we have to be willing to dress for the destination instead of the trip.

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            • lazyofay June 25, 2013 at 11:30 pm

              You obviously have never ridden a Ducati.

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            • lazyofay June 25, 2013 at 11:35 pm

              Ducati with one “c”, btw.

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      • q`Tzal June 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm

        It’s easy for him to seem condescending, we are trying to build a working 21st century active transportation system with stone knives and bear skins.

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        • wsbob June 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

          Reading his blog post, I didn’t find that Mark Wagenbuur/Bicycle Dutch was condescending, but he seems to not really understand why the U.S. has fewer people riding than does the Netherlands.

          Some cities in the the U.S. are making efforts towards enabling greater numbers of people to ride, but to do so, they’re having to re-purpose bits of land in cities and outside of them that have been inherently suitable for high speed motor vehicle travel, housing, business and other uses, and to large extent still are…into widely usable infrastructure for people wanting to ride bikes for transportation.

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  • Champs June 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    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.

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    • wsbob June 25, 2013 at 9:24 am

      There’s nothing particularly beautiful about motor vehicle surface parking lots, filled or empty…they’re ugly, but the result of bike parking practices in Amsterdam as shown in the picture accompanying the NYtimes article, is uglier. Ideas for better types of bike parking facilities and practices that don’t result in the kind of ugly scene shown in that picture, is something many people likely will be interested in.

      Many people may have difficulty adjusting to the idea of not having the convenience of being able to park their bike at any available tree, post, railing and so on, but that could be one place to start, at least in areas where at times, many bikes have need of being parked. In some areas or situations, limiting parking to parking lots, structures, and on the street at the curb, could possibly help cities towards increasing the availability of bike parking without it becoming an ugly mess.

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  • Paul June 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    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.

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    • Joseph E June 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      A Ferrari is downright practical compared to the racing bikes sold to sports cyclists. Most Ferraris have: 1) headlights, 2) taillights, 3) Fenders, 4) Space to carry a passenger or a few bags of groceries 5) An integrated lock 6) A sound system 7) Tires which are usable on rough or wet roads…

      Jan Heine talked about this:

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    • BicycleDave June 25, 2013 at 12:32 am

      The bike industry is not stupid. They’re just responding to the market. Most Americans don’t realize how useful bikes are as transportation.

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    • takeaspin22 June 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

      In the last 5-10 years, every major bike manufacturer has been developing and selling urban/commuter bikes. There are lots of boutique manufacturers that only offer those types of bikes. There are more types of bike models available now than any time in recent history.

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  • Granpa June 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    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.

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    • davemess June 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      After reading it, I agree with you.
      So what if I actually want to get somewhere faster? If I am obeying the law (being safe) and have the fitness to go faster than someone else, why is that a problem? a moderate pace for someone in shape is obviously going to be faster than a person who is not.

      So what if I want to wear different clothes from what I wear at work. Somedays I can commute 1:45 on the bike, and it’s rainy or hot and I want to keep my work clothes somewhat presentable.

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      • JAT in Seattle June 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm

        Going fast on a light bike with a well balanced weight distribution and moderately aerodynamic riding position in clothes other than a playful frock or tweed breeches and fedora? My god what an elitist!

        Sure being parochial and condescending doesn’t make one wrong, but it does make one annoying.

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    • longgone June 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      I do not give two Hershey’s squirts what people ride in or on, as long as they are riding.
      Tweed vs Lycra..
      Drop bars vs Left bank bars..
      Who really cares?… Do you REALLY care? Why fuss and fight over it.
      Euro will always seem aloof to American Prairie Scorchers.
      Culture wars…meh.
      Just ride yer ‘friggin bike.

      “A Huffy in motion is inherently more important than a Guerciotti hanging on the wall”

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  • jered June 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    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!!

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    • davemess June 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      It’s definitely him. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. Have you followed his other exploits at all?

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    • Caleb June 24, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      I once lost a windshield to a friend thinking he could ride over my van the way so many other bmx riders had done in videos. Wah, wah.

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  • Oliver June 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm
    • Chris I June 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      That literally just gave me chills.

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  • bendite June 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    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.

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    • Chainwhipped June 25, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      That may be, but we position ourselves that way, don’t we? Case and point: Suburbs.

      If we look at even American cities – specifically parts of these cities that were built and developed prior to the automobile’s rise to prominence, everything is much closer. Cities that developed after WWII tend to be very spread out – think Boston VS. Pheonix.

      The car made our travel needs more complicated. It’s something we did not “need”, until we had it.

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      • wsbob June 25, 2013 at 10:24 pm

        People living within American cities may not have needed motor vehicles so much, but to people living outside of the cities, living in rural America…beginning in the early years of last century, when a much greater percentage of Americans lived in rural areas rather than the cities…the arrival of affordable motor vehicles was very much needed.

        That need, and the fortunes and misfortunes of the national economy, contributed to the revision of planning for communities. People in the U.S. have wanted their place out in the country or out of the city in the suburbs away from where they worked. Now they’ve got it and it’s very hard to change away from that planning model.

        In Portland, I wonder what percent of daily commuter cyclists are riding in the slow, so called ‘Dutch Style’, on upright riding style bikes, how far they’re riding each direction, and what elevation range exists on their route.

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  • Caleb June 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    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?

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    • JRB June 25, 2013 at 8:24 am

      Hi Caleb, I wouldn’t say condescending, but I would agree with parochial and to a lesser extent annoying, and that only because I strongly disagree with him. He seems to think the dutch way is the only way and feels free to criticize folks for the bikes they ride, what they wear when they ride and how fast they ride.

      According to the author, if you don’t ride in the “dutch style” you are hindering the growth of cycling in this country. What a load of crap. There are substantial differences between most places in the US and the Netherlands in terms of topography, length of commute, safety etc. which leads to people cycling differently. So what, Vive le difference!

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      • Anne Hawley June 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm

        I would just like to offer the other perspective: if I hadn’t discovered Dutch style riding, I would not be a daily bike commuter. An upright bike meeting my commuting and errand-running needs was THE key to my trying it. It was a revelation to me, four years ago, to discover that I could ride at a moderate pace, in office clothes rain-or-shine, with my stuff on a rear rack or in a front basket. I don’t know how many other people I’ve influenced to think about bike use, but if the number of conversations my grocery-laden bike (my ONLY bike) has prompted outside New Seasons is any indication, I’d say quite a few.

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        • Emily G June 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm

          Yep, me too! Upright, step-through bikes and discovering that a rain cape over a skirt, tights & boots is the most practical rainy day outfit are what made me a year-round rider.

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        • JRB June 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

          Anne, you misread my intent. I am not criticizing any style of riding, Dutch or otherwise. Different strokes for different folks and all that. What I responded to is Mark Wagenburr’s assertion that some of us are doing it wrong and therefore diminishing the appeal of cycling here in the US. If some one refuses to give cycling a try because some riders wear lycra and ride fast on fast bikes, that’s his or her problem.

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          • Caleb June 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm

            I think you misunderstood Anne’s intent, because I don’t believe she was working under the assumption you were criticizing the Dutch style, but instead was just speaking to what she considers the merits of the Dutch style as if to say Wagenburr wasn’t necessarily as you characterized him. If so, I am glad she made her post, because I disagree with your assertion that Wagenburr asserted anybody is doing anything “wrong”.

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          • Anne Hawley June 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

            I’m pretty sure I didn’t misread you, JRB. You said “According to the author, if you don’t ride in the ‘dutch style’ you are hindering the growth of cycling in this country.”

            My point, which was admittedly implicit, was that the cultural preference in the US for racer-style riding hinders the growth of cycling in this country. It kept me from trying it for years. It excludes at least as many potential riders as it attracts. If the mix of styles visible in the streets doesn’t include “Dutch style”, bike commuting will continue to hinder a whole lot of us from giving it a try.

            It’s not that all bikes must be Dutch bikes to attract the interested but cautious, it’s that SOME of them probably have to be.

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            • JRB June 27, 2013 at 7:59 am

              Anne, I am glad that you found a style that works for you. I am firmly of the opinion that the more people on bikes the better. I don’t think we are disagreement as to the author’s point in his blog post, which is that fast riders on fast bikes who wear “bike” gear are at fault for some people not riding. I reject this. If an individual chooses not to ride, for whatever reason, he or she is solely responsible for that choice.

              My strong reaction to the blog post and some of the comments posted here on BP stems from my frustration that with all the obstacles to growing cycling in this country, how people ride is what some choose to fixate on.

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              • wsbob June 27, 2013 at 11:17 am

                “… My strong reaction to the blog post and some of the comments posted here on BP stems from my frustration that with all the obstacles to growing cycling in this country, how people ride is what some choose to fixate on.” JRB

                Yes. That whereas, often in U.S. cities and towns, infrastructure supporting the use of bikes for transportation is nonexistent or marginal at best with 4-5 wide bike lanes directly next to speeding motor vehicle traffic…some people nevertheless seem to think the reason more people aren’t commuting by bike or riding in general, is due to not enough cyclists dressed in their street clothes and riding upright riding style bikes.

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              • Caleb June 27, 2013 at 11:27 am

                Unless they say “the reason”, I would suggest we only assume they consider it “a reason”.

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              • Caleb June 27, 2013 at 11:18 am

                I think you may be fixating on people’s “fixation upon how people ride” more than they actually fixate on how people ride. Wagenburr’s post and video pertained to much more than just how people ride, after all.

                How have you concluded Wagenburr’s blog post “point” is that riders on fast bikes who wear bike gear are “at fault” for some people not riding? He never said anything was “at fault” for some people not riding, but instead was just presuming other types of riding will attract more people to cycling.

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              • wsbob June 27, 2013 at 11:31 am

                “…He never said anything was “at fault” for some people not riding, …” Caleb

                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.

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            • Caleb June 27, 2013 at 11:23 am

              Saying the cultural preference in the US for racer-style riding kept you from trying it for years simplifies the situation, because your ability to choose to cycle or not is independent of the cultural preference. Cultural preferences don’t exclude or attract, but rather people become disinterested or interested based upon their perceptions of the cultural preferences and other factors.

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        • mikeybikey June 25, 2013 at 3:40 pm

          I would like to add that my spouse had no interest, zero, in taking up cycling around the city until she read about family biking and saw people riding upright, in regular clothes and with kids in tow. I commuted on a road bike for over a decade before stumbling on a traditional dutch opafiets. There is no going back.

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        • wsbob June 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm

          Ann…glad you find the Dutch, upright riding style enables you to be comfortable riding, in comparison to the lowered upper torso riding style typical of bikes with drop handlebars. Everyone should ride the type of bike they find best meets their needs, in the riding style that makes them most comfortable as it helps them accomplish what they want to do on a bike.

          If you’re still checking in on comments to this Monday Roundup, I wonder if you might explain what’s a typical length ride on your upright style riding bike, and how much climbing your route involves. It seems to me that for people living in Portland’s close-in neighborhoods whose routes around the neighborhood or into downtown don’t involve a lot of climbing, the Dutch style bike with its upright riding style may work out fine for them if that’s the type of riding style they prefer. Further distances with considerable climbing: maybe not.

          If the Dutch riding style, regular clothes-no lycra, no helmet is the ticket to interesting more people in riding that works for them: Sure, more people on upright bikes providing examples of that type of riding to inspire other people to bike, is good.

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          • Anne Hawley June 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm

            My commute is 4 miles each way. Yes, it’s mostly flat. Yes, I live in NE Portland and work downtown. Yes, my situation is perfect. That is not the point of my original comment.

            If my commute were much longer or hillier than that I wouldn’t have started bike commuting in any style, on any type of bike because I’m pushing 60, non-athletic, and uninterested in cycling as a sport. When I decided to start, I was also considerably overweight.

            I didn’t say and didn’t mean to imply that people shouldn’t ride in lycra or with drop bars. I only intended to convey that for years, when all I noticed on the streets of Portland was what looked like bicycling as a competitive sport, it appeared to be a closed world to people like me. Whether that seems like a barrier to someone else isn’t the point. It was a barrier to me. Conversations with other women in my general bracket have convinced me that it’s a barrier to them, too. The lowering of that barrier has nothing to do with the number of lycra-clad cyclists on the city’s streets, just the proportion.

            In other words, seeing more various riding styles makes bike commuting look possible and desirable for a wider variety of people. I hope this is now clear.

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            • wsbob June 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm

              Your point that you discovered it was possible to ride an upright style bike on the street, which helped you convince yourself to start riding, is clear.

              What some people seem to overlook, including guys such as Wagenbuur, are bigger, important reasons that people in the U.S. have been primarily riding in the racing style, rather the Dutch style of riding. Simply…the infrastructure supporting the Dutch style of riding hasn’t much existed in the U.S.

              There may be a growing movement towards that kind of infra in the U.S., like in places such as some of Portland’s neighborhoods, but it’s far from being there yet. Biking on the street has been, still is, a kind of competitive ‘sport’, but cyclists commuting and whatnot, mostly aren’t competing with themselves as in a race; they’re having to compete for road space with motor vehicle traffic. Where there isn’t good infra for Dutch style upright bike riding, I’m not sure much of an increase in that type riding is going to happen.

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              • Caleb June 29, 2013 at 8:54 am

                Given how much Wagenburr’s post and video emphasized infrastructure, I don’t think we have reason to believe he is overlooking what you say he seems to be overlooking.

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      • wsbob June 25, 2013 at 4:53 pm

        Mark Wagenbuur/Bicycle Dutch, seems like an o.k. guy, but thoughts expressed in his article suggest he doesn’t have a good grasp of the type travel needs U.S. citizens have, and why…or how biking for them, is or isn’t able to currently meet those needs in the U.S.

        It’s too bad that Wagenbuur doesn’t try examine these things. Instead, he offers his opinion: “…that cycling is not seen as transportation in the US by the general public. …”. Expanding very briefly on this, he says he believes Americans consider biking something done mainly as recreation, for which they dress up in hi-vis, somehow feeling under enormous pressure to wear bike helmets while riding.

        Fact is, while the U.S. doesn’t have a 30-40 biking mode share, as Amsterdam apparently does, maybe 7 to 15 percent of U.S. citizens do ride bikes for transportation. Ask members of the U.S. public whether they consider bikes to be a form of transportation, and I think many, many of them will say bikes definitely are a type of transportation. Not necessarily under current infrastructure and lifestyle circumstances, the form of transportation they would, or can choose to use for their day to day travel needs, but definitely, a form of transportation.

        The U.S. is not Amsterdam or the Netherlands. It’s not Copenhagen or Denmark. Travel needs of people in the U.S. are very much different than those of people overseas. Wagenbuur’s theory, or opinion that the reason more people in the U.S. aren’t riding bikes is due to not enough people riding upright bicycles rather than racing style bikes, is incidental at best, to the actual reasons the U.S. doesn’t have a larger bike transportation mode share than it currently does.

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      • Caleb June 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm

        Thanks for answering my question, JRB. May I now ask if you consider everybody you strongly disagree with to be “parochial” and “annoying”? And why you characterize his observations as “criticizing” people? And where exactly he said not riding in the “Dutch” way hinders cycling in America? And if you think he can’t tolerate different ways of riding?

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        • JRB June 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm

          Caleb, if you disagree with me, why don’t you you just do your best to counter my statements instead of reacting in a passive-aggressive manner by thanking me and then immediately asking whether I consider anyone I disagree with to be parochial and annoying. I am far from the only person who found Wagenbuur’s blog post off putting for the reasons I mentioned, so unless we are all hypersensitive there must be something there. To assist you in understanding our point of view, I have pasted some relevant sections of Wagenburr’s post below.

          “But the outfit of the average rider in the US gives cycling an image of a ‘dangerous activity’. On top of that, traffic makes that cyclists seem to be in a constant “hurry”. Not surprising that cycling this way only appeals to a small group: the younger and fitter adults, mostly male…

          I found it very interesting to also see a very different type of average rider in Davis (CA), a university town with a lot more cycling and a lot more relaxed cycling. There the bicycles were far more of the upright variety and people were cycling in normal clothes without all the superfluous safety measures. Good to see that this is also possible in the US. This relaxed type of cycling obviously attracts a far wider range of people, even without specific cycling infrastructure…

          A necessity in my opinion if there is to be a good future for cycling in the US. The image of the ‘cyclist’ would have to change from the more racer type of cyclist to the more ordinary person on an upright bicycle. If a combination were possible of more riders like the ones in Davis, and more cycling infra of the quality I saw in Chicago (or better), then cycling will appeal to a much wider range of people. That is the way forward for cycling in my opinion, not only in the US, but everywhere.”

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          • Caleb June 27, 2013 at 11:08 am

            What you perceive as passive aggression is not that. Nothing required you to answer my question, but you chose to do so. I therefore was thankful you committed your time and effort to answering my question, and expressed my thanks. The question which followed was a sincere question separate from the thanks, and you have apparently conflated the two. Now I believe I made a similar mistake when I thought you attributed his being “parochial” to your strong disagreement. Sorry.

            You and others made claims, and my counter to them was asking you to explain why you think those claims are true, because I couldn’t tell exactly where the differences in some of our opinions stemmed from, and some of the claims were entirely up to opinion while others were not. But since you asked for more, I’ll try to explain my initial perspective on those claims.

            You found Wagenburr “annoying” because you strongly disagreed with him, but I don’t consider people “annoying” when I strongly disagree with them. JAT in Seattle says being parochial and condescending makes one “annoying”, but I don’t think people who are parochial and condescending are “annoying”. How do we know when something is “annoying”? We know by taking note of whether we are “annoyed”, so all something being “annoying” requires is one person who is “annoyed” while perceiving it. Thus something can simultaneously be both “annoying” and “not annoying” depending upon who is perceiving it, and an individual’s regard of something as “annoying/not annoying” is subject to change in accordance with other aspects of that individual’s worldview.

            Something being “annoying” depends more on our own mind and emotions than on what that something is, and when we describe something as “annoying”, we describe nothing about that thing, but instead just indirectly express something about our self. In order to alleviate our “annoyance”, we can try telling a person he/she/it is “annoying” with hopes he/she/it will stop doing what “annoys” us, or we can try changing our thinking contributing to our “annoyance” with hopes we’ll stop being and/or becoming “annoyed”, or we can try both.

            I ask questions hoping others will lean toward trying to change their thinking, because while I witness many people trying the first option, I rarely hear people talk of the second option which I have witnessed throughout my life as more directly affecting my “annoyance” (without the possibility that others with earnest “good intentions” will be hurt by my calling them “annoying”). Additionally, I’m under the impression that firmly believing something is “annoying” can be one factor contributing to our “annoyance”. Since childhood I have enjoyed many beneficial relationships thanks largely to questioning my perception that others were “annoying”, and I hope others might benefit similarly in the future.

            So when people say, “he is annoying”, I might ask, “why is he annoying?”. And when they say, “he is annoying because he does SYMBOL”, I might ask, “why does him doing SYMBOL make him annoying?”. And when they say, “him doing SYMBOL makes him annoying because OTHERSYMBOL”, I might ask, “why does OTHERSYMBOL make him doing SYMBOL make him annoying?” And I might continue like that hoping they might eventually realize they are partially to blame for the “annoyance” they experience, especially if I believe they never intended the person they consider “annoying” to receive their message.

            Moving on…

            “Parochial” is somewhat similar to “annoying” in that one’s outlook being “narrow” and “limited” depends on arbitrary standards for “narrowness” and “limitedness” since “narrow” and “limited” are relative, comparative, abstract terms which describe objective conditions. Everybody has a scope/outlook more “narrow” and “limited” than the world we exist in, so if “parochial” refers to having a “narrow/limited scope/outlook”, then I would say everyone is “parochial” and the question is just “how parochial” we are.

            If everyone is somehow “parochial”, then just like simply labeling someone “annoying” tells us nothing about that person’s constitution, “parochial” alone tells us nothing about a person’s constitution, so when people label a person “parochial” without citing any of that person’s relevant implicating behavior, I wonder how much of their conclusion comes from consideration for what that person actually is as opposed to what they presume about that person.

            You began to explain why you consider Wagenburr “parochial” by saying “He seems to think the dutch way is the only way and feels free to criticize folks for the bikes they ride, what they wear when they ride and how fast they ride” and “According to the author, if you don’t ride in the ‘dutch style’ you are hindering the growth of cycling in this country.” However, I didn’t reach the same conclusions and thought you were conflating various things, so I asked more questions both for further clarification and with hope that if you were conflating anything, you would recognize that and stop.

            He never said the “Dutch way” is the “only way”. In fact, he hardly mentioned anything as being “Dutch”, and in neither writing nor the video did he claim anything qualitative about the “Dutch way” compared to any other way. I therefore perceive no reason to believe he thinks the “Dutch way” is the “only way”.

            In writing he mentioned the bicycles people ride three times, saying 1) the average cyclist rides what the Dutch would call a “race bike”, 2) bicycles in Davis were far more of the upright variety, and 3) shared bikes may change the image of cyclists. In neither instance did he equate any type of bike with any quality, or link any type of bike with any character trait, so I don’t believe he was criticizing people for their bicycle choice in his blog post.

            In the video he mentioned bicycles people ride just two times. The first time he just mentioned “the type of bikes” here as one factor making American and Dutch cycling “very different”. The second time he said more upright cyclists would be “very positive”. Never did he say, however, that any bicycles other than the upright are “negative” or anything like that, nor that any people choosing other bicycles were any certain way. Again, I don’t believe he was criticizing people when mentioning bicycles in his video.

            In writing he mentioned what people wear four times, saying 1) the average American cyclist wears hi-viz and a helmet matching their “race bike”, 2) helmets are much more common here than in the Netherlands, 3) the average US cyclists’ outfit gives cycling an image of a “dangerous activity”, and 4) wearing “normal” clothes is more common in Davis than other parts of the US. In the video he mentioned what people wear three times, saying 1) “the way people dress” contributes to US and Dutch cycling being “very different”, 2) the lack of cycling infrastructure is “probably” why some people “still” wear lycra and helmets, and that 3) more cyclists in “ordinary” clothes would be “very positive”. In all these instances, he did not ascribe any quality to the clothing choices, nor any character trait to the people choosing the clothing, so I don’t believe he was criticizing people for what they wear.

            In writing he mentioned the pace people ride at once, saying cyclists seem to be in a constant “hurry”. In the video he mentioned cyclists’ pace to say 1) it looks like they’re riding a race, 2) they’re trying to outrun other traffic, 3) it seems like a chase, 4) there is less racing in Davis, and 5) the type of cycling may change from the racing type to a more relaxed variety at the introduction of shared bicycles. The only conclusion he portrayed through the comparison of the “racing” type to the more “relaxed” type was that more people can identify with the latter. He did not claim the former was any certain quality, nor comment on the character of anybody who chooses the former, so I don’t believe he was criticizing people for how fast they choose to ride.

            He never said not riding in the “Dutch style” makes you hinder cycling’s growth in this country. Yes, he mentioned many conditions consistent with the “Dutch style” as being things which can encourage cycling, but he did not claim those things are the only way to encourage cycling.

            I understand many of his statements are generalizations and/or suggestive, and based on that can imagine why you and many others were put off in reading his post. However, the number of people ascribing to a view has no bearing on that view’s accuracy, and it’s my impression that you and others have been making presumptuous inferences pertaining to his thoughts and feelings and basing conclusions on those inferences as opposed to limiting those conclusions to his words.

            Sidenote: I find it unfortunate that our language pairs “hyper” with “sensitive” without referencing at all which sense is “hyper”. You used the word referring to a situation in which heightened senses correspond to the existence of nothing, but my philosophy tells me it would make more sense that the “hypersensitive” would recognize there is “nothing there” as opposed to “something there”. I take that as one indication we come from fundamentally different perspectives.

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    • davemess June 25, 2013 at 11:17 am

      His complaining about helmet use, I found to be condescending. His insistence that Americans were in a “hurry” was kind of humorous, and I find it hard to believe that there aren’t any people who commute quickly in the Netherlands.

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      • Dave June 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm

        If you had ever been to the Netherlands (or really to many places in Europe), you’d understand the difference, and how much it feels like people here are in a hurry. Trust me, it’s not silly, it’s really a huge difference.

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        • JRB June 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm

          Actually, I have been to many places in Europe and it is a huge difference. That’s one of the many charms of traveling. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with how some people choose to bicycle in the US or that their choices are somehow hindering other people from trying cycling.

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          • Dave June 25, 2013 at 3:29 pm

            JRB, I was replying directly to davemess (not you) regarding his skepticism that people in Netherlands are in any less hurry than people here – a point which you just agreed with. I said nothing about whether either was right or wrong, just that there was a huge difference.

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            • JRB June 25, 2013 at 3:57 pm

              And I was replying in general to your condescending and lecturing tone in assuming that davemess, whose view I share, has never been to Europe and therefore can’t understand, as you do, the differences between how people ride there and here. Davemess’ point is that not everybody is in a hurry here and not everybody is moseying along there. Do you really disagree with that?

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              • lazyofay June 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm

                I will gladly defend Dave.
                There are many examples in which many European cultures differ in regards to daily life from America. Try to get something to eat in Barcelona between 2 and 6 in the afternoon. Go ahead.

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              • JRB June 26, 2013 at 8:07 am

                I have to wonder if folks are being intentionally obtuse. I can only respond by saying “no duh.” It may surprise you, but many folks besides you and Dave have been to Europe and were astute enough to realize that folks approach life differently there. What makes you think we need that pointed out?

                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.

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              • Caleb June 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm

                A person sharing his/her/its observations under the assumption one has not been to the Netherlands or other parts of Europe does not inherently involve a “condescending” or “lecturing” tone. I believe you may have misunderstood Dave’s intent, because I don’t believe he was disagreeing with what you say davemess’s point was, but instead only with davemess’s characterization (as humorous) of Wagenburr’s generalization of US cyclists.

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      • Caleb June 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm

        Thanks for answering my question, davemess. May I now ask why you consider his talk about helmet use to be “complaint”? And why you consider that “complaint” to be “condescending”? And why you believe he was “insisting” Americans are in a hurry?

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  • Caleb June 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    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”?

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  • Caleb June 27, 2013 at 11:40 am

    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.

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  • Dave June 27, 2013 at 11:57 am

    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.

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    • longgone June 28, 2013 at 11:53 am


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