The Monday Roundup: Shattered parents, bike tree mystery & more

Posted by on November 18th, 2013 at 9:10 am

The parents of Allison Liao.
(Video still by Streetfilms.)

Here’s the bike-related news from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Child killed: The parents of a 3-year-old New York girl killed by a man who rolled his SUV over her in a crosswalk (and then received two traffic tickets for doing so) spend four minutes giving the most persuasive and heartbreaking speech I’ve ever seen about the misplaced priorities of American streets. It’s wrenching, and also motivating.

Bike mystery solved: Seattle’s KOMO-TV has tracked down the 50-year-old origin of a child’s bicycle that was carried into the air, swallowed by a tree and transformed into a minor tourist attraction.

Lego bikeway: Not ready to build permanent protected bike lanes in your city? Web publisher and urban design consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen has officially moved into hardware: his new product, the Copenhagenize Flow, is a modular, temporary elevated bikeway made from recycled plastic and wood that costs about $100,000 per kilometer, a tenth the price of the real thing.

Typhoon scouts: Philippine recovery workers are using scouts on bikes to assess the catastrophic damage of Typhoon Haiyan.

Who needs stoplights? Signalized intersections are “less a way of increasing safety than a way of maximizing the value of vehicles with high top speeds … a kind of backdoor subsidy to automobile ownership,” writes Matt Yglesias, who argues that stoplights are unnecessary at busy intersections.

Hit and run penalty: After a string of hit-and-runs, Ireland is considering upping its penalty for leaving the scene of a crash from six months in jail to up to 10 years in prison in the case of a fatality.

London protest: After seeing five bike-related fatalities in nine days, Londoners are organizing a die-in demonstration Nov. 29 and gathered 18,000 signatures in 24 hours calling on the city’s mayor to “vastly accelerate” his existing plan to invest more than $1 billion in bike infrastructure.

Seattle infrastructure: Our unofficial sister city is on the cusp of funding a few downtown protected bike lanes.

Measuring exertion: Former world biking champion Cadel Evans will pedal hard inside an MRI scanner to give scientists a close look at what an elite athlete’s heart and lungs look like at full sail.

Bikes and liberty: In Egypt (not entirely unlike in 1890s America and Europe), bikes are a symbol of freedom for women and girls to move about the city without harassment. Some joined a ride in Suez this month organized by a group called “Tomorrow.”

Bikes and oppression:The bicycle agenda is coming to resemble the feminist agenda from the 1970s,” shudders the Weekly Standard magazine. “Everything that was ever off-limits to the aggrieved minority must be opened up.” The article also uses a remarkable chain of assumptions to conclude (despite easily available evidence to the contrary) that “bicycling is a rich person’s hobby” and that auto drivers are therefore oppressed.

Deadlier traffic: U.S. traffic deaths are up for the first time in seven years, and 72 percent of the gain came from incidents involving people on either motorcycles or foot. Bike fatalities jumped, too, with more than half happening not at intersections. Slightly less than a third of crashes involved intoxicated drivers.

Dutch liability: The Economist has a pithy summary of the extra burden on drivers in Dutch law: “before you turn, you have to check carefully in the mirror to see whether there’s a cyclist there. That’s it. … Does this result in rampant injustice to drivers when accidents occur? No. It results in far fewer accidents.”

Helmet sharing: You can, at long last, get bike helmets from a vending machine. The program, which costs $2 for up to 24 hours or $20 to buy, is being offered by the Boston affiliate of Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share.

Suburban bikesharing: A federal grant looks likely to add 75 more stations to Chicago’s Divvy system (another Alta affiliate), making it North America’s largest and adding 20 stations to two close-in Chicago suburbs.

Chicago shift: “Anyone visiting downtown for the first time in a few months will find a city transformed,” writes Crain’s Chicago Business of the city’s new bikesharing system and downtown protected lanes. “Chicago has become a bike city.”

Bankrupt bikemaker? PBSC, the City of Montreal-backed company that makes Alta Bicycle Share’s equipment, is in so much financial trouble that Vancouver, BC is publicly reconsidering its bikeshare contract with Alta. Alta has no plans to change suppliers for Portland, Willamette Week reports.

E-bike sharing: The University of Tennessee is testing an all-electric bike sharing system.

Total safety: The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition might have the most diverse set of collaborators of any Vision Zero campaign in the country: it’s looped the DMV, AAA, law enforcement, and city and state officials into its effort to completely eliminate road deaths that are caused by roadway design or user error.

Separating traffic: Top Gear presenter and auto enthusiast Jeremy Clarkson says he’s “constantly irritated by cyclists” and therefore a big fan of Copenhagen-style biking, because forcing bikes and cars to share road space is “like putting a dog and a cat in a cage and expecting them to get along. They won’t.”

Bike-friendly Congress: Portland’s Congressman Earl Blumenauer says the “next goal” of the Congressional Bike Caucus that he co-chairs is to get their own employer, the House of Representatives itself, certified as a bike-friendly workplace.

Finally, your video of the week is a music video — yes, a music video — about the havoc that 228 apartments and condos will supposedly wreak on downtown Lake Oswego. My favorite part might be where he raps about his fear that 500 more residents downtown will make the sidewalks too crowded to walk around on, but there are many excellent passages to consider.

Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that the chorus won’t still be in your head four days later.

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: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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Peter W
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Peter W

Driving as welfare:

“If the federal gas tax had kept pace with inflation, it would be about $5 a gallon by now. Instead, Congress has opted to subsidize driving; transferring something like $50 billion in U.S. Treasury IOUs to the Federal Highway Trust Fund since 2008 in order to fill potholes, resurface roads and shore up bridges.

The gasoline tax used to be the purest form of “user fee” in AutoAmerica. You drove, you bought fuel, your fuel taxes paid for the roads you used.

These days, however, driving is just another form of welfare. You drive, you buy as little gas as possible and the feds borrow money to fill the potholes in the gas-tax shortfall.

Is this any way to run a modern transportation system?”

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20131117/COLUMNISTS/131119695/1109/sports?p=2&tc=pg

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Great article.

Naturally, the first comment whines about bicycle riders not paying their fair share. Well, I’d gladly pay the penny per hundred miles or whatever the cost of bike wear-and-tear on the roads might be. It would be interesting to figure out what such a tax would amount to.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

I have yet to see any bike projects funded by only what cyclists have been taxed for.

Bicycle infrastructure piggybacks off of other infrastructure funded by autos.

When people talk about what cyclists ‘pay into’ the system, it generally has to do with savings (which is not actual money you can do something with) or it is somehow leveraging other funding efforts.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

middle of the road guy
I have yet to see any bike projects funded by only what cyclists have been taxed for.

Nor are motor vehicle projects funded only by motor vehicle user fees.

Bicycle infrastructure piggybacks off of other infrastructure funded by autos.

Roads piggyback off non-user funds (property, b&o, general funds, etc.) no matter what mode uses them.

When people talk about what cyclists ‘pay into’ the system, it generally has to do with savings (which is not actual money you can do something with) or it is somehow leveraging other funding efforts.

You’re right in implying that motor vehicles consume far more public resources than bikes (arguably more than their share considering that user fees do not cover the costs) but I think that what most folks around here mean by “cyclists pay into the system” is that cyclists pay taxes which end up funding roads, including taxes they pay through motor vehicle user fees (since most bicyclists also own cars).

A few references on road funding and mode use are in this thread: http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?p=25354

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

Bike Friendly House:

‘When the League of American Bicyclists released its nationwide list of “Bicycle Friendly Businesses” this month, the State Department, the International Monetary Fund and the National Park Service were among the 20 D.C.-area businesses recognized.

If Rep. Earl Blumenauer has his way, the House will join the certified list of cyclist-friendly federal workplaces in 2014.

“That’s our next goal,” said the Oregon Democrat, who is a founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Bike Caucus. Blumenauer, an avid bike commuter, shows his zeal for two-wheel transportation on his lapel with an ever-present neon bike-shaped pin, and he wants to continue to raise the profile of sustainable transportation around Capitol Hill.’

http://www.rollcall.com/news/bike_caucus_wants_house_certified_as_bike_friendly_workplace-229114-1.html

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

If the current House of Representatives legislative strategy holds we can expect only salting of fields, poisoning of wells and clueless musings by the guilty of “what happened here?”

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

Attitudes in the north chicago suburbs must have chnaged. Admittedly, Evanston

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

has Northwestern, but when i used to ride there the suburb to the north had a “bike only on sidewalk” law. I rode as fast as a could to get through and hoped not to get caught.

TOM
Guest
TOM

I was in Chicago last August. I’d guess that 95 percent of the bikes that I saw were WallyMart/Target specials. Very few helmets. Lots of wrong way riding. But there were bikes locked to front fences on the sidewalks at night. Guess theft of those things must be low ?

It was like being in a different bike universe for this old Portlander.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Correction for link to extremely annoying Standard article entitled “Drivers Get Rolled: Bicyclists Are Making Unreasonable Claims to the Road–And Winning”:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/drivers-get-rolled_766425.html

Mike Ardans
Guest
Mike Ardans

Or, just read the comments page on any bike related Oregonlive article, same rehashed car centric tripe, with delivery so vitriolic you can almost feel spittle on your face.

Colton
Guest
Colton

That video of “L-O” just brings tears to my eyes…

pdxpaul
Guest
pdxpaul

Where can I send money to get those apartments built?

LL
Guest
LL

The L-O music reminds me of the drivel you hear in Costco churches on Sunday.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

+1 for “Costco Churches”

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“Dutch liability: The Economist has a pithy summary of the extra burden on drivers in Dutch law: “before you turn, you have to check carefully in the mirror to see whether there’s a cyclist there. That’s it. … Does this result in rampant injustice to drivers when accidents occur? No. It results in far fewer accidents.” Monday Roundup

To avoid being subject to potential injustice of the ‘strict liability’ principle, the driver looking in the mirror, would have to be sure to correctly determine the speed of said cyclist, if the cyclist doesn’t happen to be there just before the driver proceeds to start turning, but traveling swiftly, proceeds alongside the motor vehicle after it begins to turn.

dan
Guest
dan

The demands on the driver no different from turning left across oncoming traffic. When crossing a lane, you’re responsible for not hitting other vehicles…doesn’t seem to be setting the burden too high.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

You’re saying that turning left across oncoming traffic, is no different than turning across a bike lane with traffic approaching from behind. I think many people would disagree with your idea on this.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

please explain.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Explain what?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

How is it any different from changing lanes on the freeway? If you are moving into the fast lane, you can have traffic moving up on you “in your blind spot” with a potentially significant differential speed.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“How is it any different from changing lanes on the freeway? …” Chris I

In many different ways that almost never would involve interaction between motor vehicles and bicycles. Not always, but often, greater speeds and greater distances are characteristics of freeway lane changes. Even when lane changes occur at slower speeds…or higher speeds…and with closer proximity between vehicles, motor vehicles present a much larger image for visual detection by other drivers making lane changes, than do bicycles.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

So, only a minor difference. The slower speeds of the vehicle-bike interaction negate the “size difference” you seem to be concerned about.

I don’t know about you, but as a driver, I have no problem checking my right mirror and blind spot for a cyclist before I turn right on surface streets, just as I do when I check for cars passing on the right on the freeway or on a multi-lane surface street.

You are setting the bar too low for drivers.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…You are setting the bar too low for drivers. …” Chris I

I don’t agree that the difference between changing lanes on the freeway, and crossing a bike lane is minor. I would say the difference is at least substantial, and perhaps major.

What the bar for drivers is, that you mention having been set, I don’t know about because you neglect to mention what it is you’re thinking of.

People driving and preparing to cross bike lanes, are of course obliged to take what means are necessary with the vehicle they’re driving, to see that the bike lane is clear, and that they’ve accounted for their vehicles blind spot(s). What stretches the limit of their responsibility, and which ‘strict liability’ may not account for, is their lack of control over the actions of certain types of people riding in the bike lane.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“..their lack of control over the actions of certain types of people riding in the bike lane.”

What types of people are those, and what actions would these be? Outrageous actions such as proceeding straight ahead in a clear, separate lane? There’s not much variety available in the “actions” one can take in a bike lane; it’s pretty restrictive. About all you can do is go or stop. Maybe you mean things like not yielding to right-turning drivers even though it is their duty to yield to you?

Any driver with properly adjusted mirrors can see what’s coming up from behind in the bike lane. If the driver isn’t sure about a cyclists speed, then they need to wait until they are sure. What I seem to notice is that most drivers who check their mirrors (already a minority) do so way too late, assuming they won’t see anything, and then either ignore what they see because they weren’t really looking, or find themselves already crossing the bike lane before they realize they are violating someone’s ROW.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Any driver with properly adjusted mirrors can see what’s coming up from behind in the bike lane. …” El Biciclero

You go ahead with that rationalization, keeping in mind that compared to people driving cars, people riding bikes are the vulnerable road user.

Putting themselves in hazard zones that are intersections where motor vehicles are adjacent to the bike lane, possibly about to make a turn across the bike lane, is not a wise move for vulnerable road users, ROW or not. Everyone that rides in traffic should know this.

A suggestion made to people in the U.S. that by way of ‘Strict Liability’, they would be assumed to be ‘at fault’…let alone ‘liable’, for any collision between their vehicle and somebody on a bike, virtually regardless of the actions of the person riding, might be worth making, to see what the range of reactions to that idea would be.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Ok, wsbob, I’ll expand the quote and attempt to explain my question further:

“What stretches the limit of [drivers’] responsibility, and which ‘strict liability’ may not account for, is their lack of control over the actions of certain types of people riding in the bike lane.”

When I asked you, essentially, “what ‘actions’ are you talking about?” you kind of replied–if I read your response correctly–“riding in drivers’ blind spots”.

I’m here to tell you that that answer is ridiculous. I’ve been in drivers’ blind spots thousands of times–due to their actions. I’m in at least 15 drivers’ “blind spots” within a block or two of riding in a bike lane: every time a driver overtakes me, I’m at least temporarily in their “blind spot”. Also, “blind spot” is an excuse. With properly adjusted mirrors, a driver’s blind spot (depending on vehicle) is practically nil. With poorly-adjusted mirrors, a driver has to turn their head to check where their mirrors don’t cover–just like they have to do every time they change lanes!

I don’t see how my previous answer was a “rationalization” of anything. As others have tried to point out, you and many others seem to be conflating legal responsibility with self-preservation wisdom. Nobody would argue that a smart cyclist is going to try to make themselves visible and be ready to take evasive or preventive action when a dangerous situation arises. But to hold vulnerable users strictly responsible for evading, while not holding drivers responsible for infringing on VRU right-of-way–that is what is backwards and wrong. The only thing people are arguing against here is the cultural attitude that says “in the event a collision does occur between a motor vehicle and a VRU, if the pedestrian/cyclist didn’t go far, far above and beyond their legal responsibility, and they weren’t agile enough to dive out of the way, and they were dumb enough to try to go anywhere without a car in the first place, then they deserve to get run over.”

Dimitrios
Guest
Dimitrios

wsbob- “You go ahead with that rationalization, keeping in mind that compared to people driving cars, people riding bikes are the vulnerable road user.”

Once again you’re back to resorting to jungle law (referring to your stance on lighting/reflective equipment for vulnerable users in spite of legal responsibility). I think everyone knows that cycling is more vulnerable than motoring. There are legal responsibilities in place that Chris I is discussing, and your retort is essentially “those responsibilities won’t save you”. Duh, not interesting. This seems to be the final back-against-the-wall hail mary response when someone’s got nothing left. Most discussions I’ve had with motorists end up there when they realize there is no legal defense for their actions.

The truth is that on paper, the legal responsibility for motorists is relatively high compared to the perception of responsibility. Any education to close that gap is met with “yea, well, you’re vulnerable so buzz off”.

Dimitrios
Guest
Dimitrios

Correction: El Biciclero rather than Chris I.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Duh, not interesting. …” Dimitrios

If you find measures that sometimes are called for to save yourself from injury or death, to be “…Duh, not interesting. …”, fine…it’s your choice to use them or not, as long as it’s just your life you’re fooling with.

TOM
Guest
TOM

was surprised that I could not find a followup to the Miriam Clinton hit-and-run story in BP, since the sentencing was only 3 days ago. (or am I just blind ?? )

If anyone else is interested —>>
http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/11/lake_oswego_driver_sentenced_i.html

Miriam Clinton, a hit-and-run driver in an Aug. 16 crash that critically injured a Lewis & Clark College student, was sentenced Friday to three years and four months in prison.

Clinton, a 29-year-old waitress from Lake Oswego, will also have her driver’s license suspended for five years after she is released, Multnomah County Circuit Judge John Wittmayer said.

BIKELEPTIC
Guest

I am really curious about the Helmet Sharing machines. I can’t find any information on the website. If you just get one “for the day” when you return it; is it put in a hopper so maintenance can come by can sanitize all of the returned ones and check for any issues before they are regurgitated? I would be afraid of malfunctions or lice on getting a used helmet. I don’t even like trying on helmets in shops that don’t use hairnets. Also I can’t find a photo of what the helmets look like. $20 to own? I assume they’ll be similar to the cheap $5 trauma nurse helmets.

BIKELEPTIC
Guest
stacia
Guest
stacia

The linked article says “Returned helmets are removed from the machine and taken for inspection and sanitization.”

John Lascurettes
Guest

Clarkson’s piece is about the best pro-cycling (and a plea to fund the facilities) from a car head that I’ve ever seen.

Paul Souders
Guest

Oh wow the Liao’s video is crushing. “Is it worth it?”

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

That line about the driver getting two tickets, and their daughter getting the death penalty was a pretty powerful one.

My Prayers go out the their family.

Dave
Guest
Dave

blockquote cite=”Anne Hawley”>
Anne Hawley
Great article.
Naturally, the first comment whines about bicycle riders not paying their fair share. Well, I’d gladly pay the penny per hundred miles or whatever the cost of bike wear-and-tear on the roads might be. It would be interesting to figure out what such a tax would amount to.
Recommended 1

I’ve thought for a long time–charge EVERY vehicle a weight/mile tax, same amount of $ per pound of vehicle weight. My customers’ 15 lb carbon race bikes, my 28lb touring bike, every 3000 lb. car. What could be wrong with that?

Opus the Poet
Guest

What is wrong is road wear is proportional to the 4th power of weight, not linearly proportional. Based on a 350 lb. GVW bicycle (moderately loaded cargo bike or fat guy riding a Workmen bike) a Smart Car is 1100 bicycles, a Cadillac Escalade is 8000, a half legal max semi (40k pounds) is 10,000,000 bicycles, and a to-the-max semi (80K pounds) is 160,000,000 bicycles. That is what a weight-based vehicle tax should look like.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…I’ve thought for a long time–charge EVERY vehicle a weight/mile tax, same amount of $ per pound of vehicle weight. My customers’ 15 lb carbon race bikes, my 28lb touring bike, every 3000 lb. car. What could be wrong with that?” Dave

I suppose, nothing to people attracted to Byzantine means of attempting to approximate fees for use of infrastructure.

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

Hey, I’m glad to see my old advocacy compatriots (SVBC) doing some nice coalition-building! Thanks for sharing.

varner
Guest
varner

Wow. I’m surprised to learn that Lake O has heart. And soul. Who knew?

dan
Guest
dan

Yeah! Lots of unintentional hilarity in that video…pretty interesting what they consider old, charming and worth preserving in LO (shopping center from maybe the mid-90s?). If the condos get built, maybe they’ll need to reconsider their position on light rail to LO 😉

Robert Burchett
Guest
Robert Burchett

ah, this is such a quibble, but there is a basic misunderstanding in that bike-in-tree bit. It is just not possible for a tree to lift something up. They don’t grow that way. The bike was hung in the tree and the tree grew around it.

This canard is, um, evergreen.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

“The Weekly Standard is an American neoconservative opinion magazine published 48 times per year. Its founding publisher, News Corporation, debuted the title September 18, 1995. Currently edited by founder William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Standard has been described as a “redoubt of neoconservatism” and as “the neo-con bible”. Since it was founded in 1995, the Weekly Standard has never been profitable, and has remained in business through subsidies from wealthy conservative benefactors such as former owner Rupert Murdoch. Many of the magazine’s articles are written by members of conservative think tanks located in Washington, D.C.: the American Enterprise Institute, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Hudson Institute” -Wikipedia

TOM
Guest
TOM

During that video, I was starting to tear up along with Allison Liao’s mother.

thanx for reporting that, Michael.