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The Monday Roundup: Street design tool, anti-theft booby traps & more

Posted by on August 12th, 2013 at 9:44 am

Screenshot from

Here’s the bike news that caught our eyes this week:

Street planning tool: This amazing interactive street design tool, designed for touchscreens, is perfect for quickly visualizing different ways to allocate road space for a given width.

Booby-trap your bike: Forgot your bike lock? The next best thing might be to foil a would-be thief with one of these quick mechanical modifications.

Wall fixture: A wall-mounted steel loop for bike locking is available from a British company for less than $100.

Bend organizes: The new advocacy group Bend Bikes had its first community outreach forum last month.

Bike lane language: Just before it became clear that Rahm Emanuel wasn’t going to meet a target of 100 miles of protected bike lanes in Chicago by 2015, his department of transportation changed its internal definition of “protected bike lane” to include bike lanes with painted buffers.

Cardboard cop: In the other Portland, a cardboard cutout of a police officer near a bike rack has helped cut bike theft 67 percent. It may be more about the reminder than the illusion: a new U.K. study finds similiar results from posters of peering eyes.

Merkel at Eurobike: The German chancellor visits the big trade show of a €50 billion business that “is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead.”

Concert bike valet: Want to save on parking costs, music venues? Offer bike valets.

Dirty electric cars: A former plug-in advocate makes the case that electric cars aren’t greener, especially compared to non-car alternatives.

Carbon tax works: British Columbia’s five-year-old carbon tax has cut emissions (including a 17 percent drop in personal fuel consumption) and let the government lower other taxes without harming the provencial economy, a new study has found. Oregon is considering a similar program.

Overstaying welcome: A Vancouver BC property that touts its “green commuting” program threatened to confiscate a bike commuter’s vehicle after she violated an umarked 15-minute limit on a bike rack. Longer-term parking would endanger “the professional image of the building,” the company wrote.

Too many bikes in Europe? There’s no denying that European streets are short on space. The question is whether bikes or cars are better ways to use the space there is.

Roman road: The bike-loving mayor of Rome is converting a street near the ancient Colosseum into a pedestrian-only space.

$21 per commute: That’s the benefit to the Australian economy every time somebody bikes 20 minutes to work, the Australian government says. (Numbers here.) That’s why they’re now requiring “safe separated cycle ways” on every future urban road project.

Federal green light: Looks like the Federal Highway Administration is finally preparing an official endorsement of protected lanes.

Safe passing: Austin police are enforcing a law that requires three feet of clearance when passing a person on a bike, on foot or at a construction site.

License requirement lightened: In Los Angeles, driving without a license is no longer a criminal offence, just a traffic infraction. It’s a “quality of life crime,” the deputy chief explains.

Misdemeanor DUI: “In Eugene, You Can Kill a Pedestrian While Driving Drunk and be Charged With a Misdemeanor,” reports We Bike Eugene.

Citi Bike competition: A price battle between a local rental shop and NYC’s bikesharing system shows how one specializes in recreation, the other in transportation.

Bikes don’t hurt business: Two commercial districts in Seattle that swapped auto parking for bike lanes saw retail volumes increase or stay flat.

What caused the Dutch biking boom? A mass protest movement in the 1970s against road casualties led to dedicated bikeways, which made biking normal. Smart BBC analysis.

NYC protest: Last week, 100 New Yorkers gathered ouside City Hall to resist a string of pedestrian fatalities, carrying signs that said “Not one more killed.”

“Deadly weapon”: A New York Post columnist demands safer streets, too.

Speed is good: Breaking the law is good for New York’s economy, says AAA.

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.

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  • Heidi August 12, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Didn’t see this story of a bike designer building a bike for 80+ MPH speeds in the lineup. Saw it at the Guardian site last Friday. Ironically you have to watch a car ad to be able to watch it, at least when I went to the site just now to get the link.

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    • Anne Hawley August 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Thanks! Excellent video–and I couldn’t care less about super-fast bikes or anything. But good engineering and good filmmaking are both kind of a thrill nonetheless.

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  • Nick Falbo August 12, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Streetmix just got seriously awesome. You’ve got to celebrate when the advocates can now make concept illustrations with the same visual quality as the pros.

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  • Emily G August 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Very interesting article and video from Bicycle Dutch about updating a 1960’s residential area in Utrecht, built around cars, for modern needs like livability. Mostly done by concentrating car traffic to a few roads and calming the rest. Cycle tracks were only added to the main arterial roads and behind bus stops.

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  • longgone August 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    The bike thievery deterrent article is fun….
    My fav-o-rite method for keeping my fixed wheel close to the coffee shop window is using a cork cut into a wedge attached to a thin strip of velcro.
    I pull up, dismount, act like I am checking the presta valve, while wrapping it around the tire and rim real quick…position the “wedge” at six o’clock, and walk away.
    If some one tries to ride off on my bike, the wedge rolls up and gets stuck in the fork crown, toppling them over the bars introducing their face to the sidewalk.
    It has worked no less than 4 times in the past 15 years or so.
    I learned it from an old track racer who traveled the country doing roller races in the ’30s for extra cash.

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    • osmill August 12, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      Presumably the old track racer was using something other than Velcro. 🙂

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      • longgone August 14, 2013 at 7:56 am

        Oh yes.. the velcro is my modification to Henry’s design. In the late mid 70’s when he taught me this neat little trick, his had a clip/spring like bit made out of part of one of those old metal pant leg protectors.
        He used to take great pleasure in parking his bike where adolescent kids would be tempted to swipe his bike.
        He was kinda cantankerous, at times.

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  • dwainedibbly August 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    AAA is a terrorist organization.

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  • AndyC of Linnton August 12, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I’ve been fantasizing for a tool like the one has provided for a while now.
    Tried my hand for a bit…still got some issues to work out, but hella fun!

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  • TOM August 14, 2013 at 11:12 am

    first thing that I remove from a new bike is the kickstand, and just tie up to something unmovable, but my bikes do like to roll. So I improvised a “parking brake” . they are those heavy rubber wrist bands that are issued at concerts or for Live Strong. 2 loops around the bars leaves enough room to pull some out and secure over the closed brake handle. Both brakes are locked ON. Bike WILL NOT move. Sometimes I get on and forget and the bike goes nowhere ….sure it would confuse a thief for a couple of minutes.

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  • anonymous August 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Regarding the “Unclean at Any Speed” article in IEEE Spectrum you refer to in your “Dirty Electric Cars” link, they received so many comments that there is a followup article:

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  • Terry Nobbe August 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Regarding “Booby-trap Your Bike”, I’m sure most cyclists are aware there’s no shortage of effective methods of attaching your bike lock to your bike frame, rack or handlebar. A strong u-lock is a very effective theft deterent, I’ve not lost a bike due to theft. There’s some very clever bike thieves that can simply lift a bike off the ground and carry it away if necessary.

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    • q`Tzal August 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      I read those “booby trap” ideas an honesty thought they were a joke that wouldn’t slow down a meth head on a full blown LSD trip.

      Also, when I think “booby trap” I’m thinking of a taser rigged to the handlebars and seat such that as soon as the bike is ridden away the thief completes the circuit, falls off and soils them self.
      Police aren’t needed after that.

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