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The Monday Roundup: Banal traffic, JSK for hire, activist kids & more

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Welcome to the week. Here are the best bike and transportation stories we came across last week…

The banality of traffic: “As far as I’m concerned, the only thing worse than spending hours of your life stuck in car traffic is spending even more hours of your life talking about it,” writes Bikeyface’s Bekka Wright, introducing a comic that rings true.

Child activists: You haven’t seen a street demonstration until you’ve seen a street demonstration performed almost entirely by children under the age of 12. The year was 1972, the kids were Dutch, and the 8-year-old with the microphone was chanting “cars go away.” It worked. (Tip: skip to 7:10 in the video.) (Update: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow highlighted this video in a piece about gun reform on Friday)

Too rich to blame: A 16-year-old Texas boy who was driving his dad’s pickup at twice the speed limit and triple the legal blood alcohol limit and killed four people (two of whom had stopped on the roadside to help fix a vehicle) will get 10 years’ probation. “A psychologist for the defense said the teen suffered from ‘affluenza,’ a condition where a person feels shielded from problems by money, having led a life of privilege paid for by his parents.”

Specialized backpedals: After widespread anger, bike manufacturing giant Specialized struck a deal to let a small Canadian bike shop keep using the word “Roubaix,” a region in France whose name Specialized claimed to be an off-limits trademark. Here’s the founder’s letter of explanation and apology.

Armstrong post-Oprah: “The Gulfstream is gone,” the former racing champion sighs in a new interview. “I’m on JetBlue and United. So I spend a lot of time on airplanes with other people and in terminals or just traveling around and going to restaurants or whatever.”

Bike polarization: “The bicycle is emerging as a new conservative front in the culture wars,” argues a persuasive and foreboding trend piece in the Boston Globe.

NYCDOT’s Janette Sadik-Khan: Coming soon
to a city near you.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Traffic laws work: A multi-state comparison of traffic death trends has found that — surprise! — harsh penalties for intoxicated or distracted driving, restrictions on young drivers and seatbelt laws substantially reduce fatalities.

Less effective helmets: Bike helmets tend to reduce the severity of head, face and neck injuries by people on bikes, but apparently less than they used to, a new survey has concluded.

Brakeless bike ban: Bicycles without brakes are now banned from trails and bike paths in Ventura County, California.

Mandatory reflectors: In England and Wales, new rules would require every bicycle, even those with lights, to have a rear reflector and two on each pedal. Also, police would get more power to fine bikers who break rules of all sorts.

Legal victory: A Massachusetts town has agreed to pay $27,500 in legal fees and acknowledge that a man had the right to ride a bike in the middle of a busy traffic lane. The case resulted in “the first federal opinion anywhere” affirming that this is sometimes necessary for safety.

Exporting NYC: Revolutionary New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan will join a new “government in exile” funded by her outgoing boss Michael Bloomberg that will offer free consulting services to cities who want to apply New York’s lessons to their streets.

Curb-separated lanes: Chicago, the city whose 50-odd miles of new protected bike lanes have given America lots and lots of white plastic bollards, is moving upscale.

Road diet works: The Ashland City Council unanimously voted to make permanent a formerly controversial road diet on North Main Street.

OTREC timeline: The PSU-affiliated transportation research center is seven years old, and it’s racked up some impressive accomplishments. (Nice work, all! Next time maybe ask PNCA for some help with the infographic…)

Bike share trouble: “Something is going badly wrong with London’s bike-share scheme,” writes Atlantic Cities: after prices doubled, ridership fell 30 percent (averaging 17,000 per day in November) and its lead sponsor pulled out. It’s a sign that “creating a system isn’t enough … you need an extensive, safe cycle network.”

Bike share triumph: Something is going very right with New York City’s bike share scheme: Last Wednesday, when the temperature barely rose above freezing, ridership was 19,000.

Bike share exclusivity: NPR reviews the evidence that very few poor people use bike share systems and concludes that nobody really knows what to do about it. However, Darren Buck has a terrific summary of things various cities are trying.

Carbon savings: Hitting national targets for carbon reduction would add £85 billion to the British economy, thanks to advantages like less congestion, cleaner air, noise reduction and other benefits of increased biking and walking.

Parking-free apartments: There’s a nationwide boom in apartments without on-site parking, even as Portland “pulled the rug out” last year by banning such buildings in much of the city.

Unaffordable parking: Underused and underpriced on-site parking lots add about $246 a month to the rents of apartments in Seattle, the Sightline Institute calculates.

Bike salmon rampant: The New York Post accidentally makes the case for more bike lanes.

Ignoring homicide: New York City has a new online crime map. So why doesn’t it include vehicular homicides? Why, because they’re perfectly legal, jokes Eben Weiss.

Finally, I’m pretty sure a few of the jumps in your video of the week were photoshopped.

But wait, there’s more! Check out this Rachel Maddow segment on traffic safety and gun reform:

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.

Correction 11:50 am: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the new Ventura County law.