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The Monday Roundup: David Bragdon, hands-free navigation & more

Posted by on February 3rd, 2014 at 9:11 am

Rails to Trails Conservancy meeting-4.jpg

Bragdon, left, at a Rails to Trails
Conservancy meeting in 2008.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Today’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Portland real estate broker Leigh Perretta. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, Leigh wants to show prospective home buyers a “love nest” in Linnton between the St. Johns bridge and Sauvie Island with river and mountain views that’s “just minutes from the City’s best cycling.” Contact Leigh via email for a private showing.

And now, here’s the bike news from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Bragdon in Gotham: Four years after he fled to New York, calling Portland complacent and analysis-obsessed, former Metro President David Bragdon is saying nuanced things about both his cities — and about the “mysterious blend of arrogance and humility” that makes great leaders. Highly recommended. (Including the forelock-themed graphic.)

Hands-free bike navigation: CycleNav, which attaches to your handlebars, is “the first navigation device that, when connected to a smart phone via Bluetooth, provides audio commands and visual light indicators to direct riders to their desired destination.” $60.

Fat biking matures: As fat biking becomes “a real live sector” of the mountain market, it’s going to need some rules, an industry expert told the annual Fat Bike Summit.

Flying bike lights: “The product design firm that brought the world the Sony Walkman” has a new idea: flying drones that soar in front and behind road bikers to alert nearby drivers to their presence.

Simple protection: A row of inches-tall “armadillos” was part of the recipe for boosting traffic on one London bike lane by 40 percent.

Truck regulation: Every truck entering London will soon be required to have side guards to prevent people from being dragged under the wheels.

Theft recovery: We Bike Eugene has a twist-and-turny story from a man who used elbow grease, the Internet, an ounce of deceit and a bunch of good friendships to recover his stolen bike.

Uber dangerous: Better not get hit by someone using Uber, the turn-your-car-into-a-taxi mobile platform — if they get distracted while using Uber’s phone app to locate their next fare, the company will try to avoid covering their liability.

The littlest lawmakers: “Another reason I think it should be the state sport is because it is awesome,” Alysia Prentice, one of a contingent of Delaware elementary school students who showed up to lobby state legislators to honor bicycling.

Amazing road diets: A before-and-after sliding photo tool is the perfect way to show off 25 of New York City’s most transformative road diets.

Enforcement machines: Six speed cameras near New York City schools have issued 900 tickets in two weeks to cars driving more than 10 miles over the limit. Each ticket is $50.

Pothole lawsuit: Following on a recent British case, an Arizona man has won a $426,000 settlement from his city after a pothole in a bike path caused him to crash.

Not so green: As China cracks down on exports of rare earth metals, the search for tomorrow’s Prius batteries is now tearing up part of Quebec.

Slow car growth: In Multnomah County from 2002 to 2012, “the number of registered vehicles grew by less than 1 percent, even as the population grew by 11 percent.”

Freeway slayer: It wasn’t visionary officials that made Vancouver BC the continent’s greenest city: it was an anti-freeway movement led by an immigrant garment worker. High Country News has the inspiring story.

Atlanta’s disaster: Snow locked down Atlanta streets last week, but is snow really to blame in a metro area so wedded to the automobile? A longtime Atlantan blames her own city.

Conference fatigue: Mikael Colville-Andersen is ruefully familiar on bike conferences: “So, what do you think? Anything new?” he asked 10 random colleagues. “They all replied, ‘no, not really.’ But the meatballs were delicious.”

Efficiency infographic: I’m not sure how this infographic calculated the “efficiency” of 12 different types of pedaled vehicles, but it’s a nice concept.

Speed compulsion? Whether they’re on bikes or in cars, many people can’t seem to stop for an Albany rail crossing where a train killed a young man on a bike last month. A yard worker says he’s seen as many as 10 people run the gates in a single hour.

Bikeway nomenclature: Des Moines is using a simple, intuitive name for its first neighborhood greenway: a “quiet street.” Brilliant!

Dropout Club alumnus: Not only was the late Pete Seeger one of the many famous people to drop out of Harvard, he was one of the many famous people to bike across the country. In 1938.

Can you guess why one of our videos of the week was banned from TV in Scotland? I’ll post the answer as the first comment.

And for some fun, check out this hilarious “How to be a Road Biker” video put out by NSMB.com.

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. Thank you.

  • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
    Michael Andersen (News Editor) February 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

    …the woman at the end of the video isn’t wearing a helmet.

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    • Glen K February 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      Also they were concerned that the rider was too far out from the kerb. But the advertising standards authority are now reviewing their decision, which is not surprising given the widespread backlash they are receiving. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-25960322

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  • Carl February 3, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Love the forelock-themed graphic.

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  • Criss Cross Crusade February 3, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Is this Trader Joe’s decision what Bragdon was talking about?

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  • lavie.lama February 3, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Wouldn’t having the company cover crashes caused by people using the app while driving encourage that behaviour? It sounds to me like like putting it on the driver is a good thing.

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  • Scott February 3, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    too bad the video was banned. I think its brilliant.

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  • CaptainKarma February 3, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Any drone coming near me or distracting me will be netted, hosed, napalmed, radio-frequency overloaded, and apprehended. Its owner will be litigated.

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    • q`Tzal February 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      If you’re hearing this transmission, you are the Resistance.

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  • longgone February 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Pete Seeger on a bicycle, painting farmsteads, during the depression….fantastic. R.I.P.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson February 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Great story from Vancouver. I once did a gig in Paonia, CO!
    Portland has made a pretty good recovery from the freeway madness of the post war, but we still suffer from the Marquam Bridge and Eastbank Freeway. Time for them to go!…add a lane to 405, call it 5 and tear the suckers out.

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    • dan February 3, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      The Eastbank without the freeways would be amazing – what a coup for livability. All the light industrial would get displaced though. Is there room for all those companies on Swan Island?

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      • wsbob February 4, 2014 at 12:07 am

        It’s the freeway that’s the problem, not light industrial. Perhaps arrangements should be looked at to keep it there. Gentrification is a big ugly beast that likes to raise its head whenever basic urban land use and development errors are corrected, such as big ugly freeways sited right across from prime downtown city waterfront.

        With a bit of recognition of intrinsic value inherent in continuing to have in the inner east side, a mix of light industrial, and affordable warehouse space for studios, the city could help to maintain a vitality that can go away when nearly all of close in land becomes designated for high income generation.

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  • Ted Buehler February 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    re: the Vancouver freeway fight — while the article may well be correct in claiming that it was largely the preservation of Chinatown that saved Vancouver from getting the Georgia/Venables freeway constructed, there is a much larger story in why the whole city is the only major metro area with a freeway-free city center.

    That lies first with the 1950s/60s funding model. The US federal government controlled the purse strings for transportation in the US. But in Canada it was the provinces. In the US, every city could build freeways with “free” money, that couldn’t be used for anything else. If a freeway was declined, all the $ went to other states. But in Canada, the cities were much closer to the provincial governments, and it was much easier to negotiate for declined highway funds to be applied to other projects in the same geographic area.

    Another element is that downtown Vancouver only had one major freeway proposed, and it was blocked. Many US cities have blocked freeways, like Portland’s Mt. Hood Freeway. But most or all cities the size of 1965 Vancouver had several freeways planned, and only some of those were blocked.

    And, after the 1970s, I suspect “smart growth” played a much more significant role in keeping the Georgia/Venables freeway from coming back to life as a zombie (like the CRC and many other freeways — 35E in St. Paul where I grew up, for instance) and eventually getting built. Vancouver could have just moved the freeway 8 blocks north to the industrial waterfront, or 8 blocks south along an existing RR corridor, but instead, the freeway died a peaceful death.

    Very interesting article, though, and it certainly supports its claim that it was largely a small group of members of a single ethnicity that acted, and caused a positive reaction of a much larger magnitude that their original intention.

    It’s a great lesson for activists everywhere. Form a clear position, rally the troops, be vocal, be logical, make a sympathetic case for the victims, and you too can shape the world, broadly and positively.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Todd Boulanger February 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Wow…sign me up for a drone escort …assuming I can upgrade to laser beam for safer lane “sweeping” and clearance of parked cars and other debris in the bike lanes.

    Having a drone escort makes me think of the old traffic rules that vehicles travelling over 5 mph had to have a flagger precede them in the UK.

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  • wsbob February 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    The wnyc story on New York City using speed violation cameras to crack down on people exceeding posted speed limits when driving:


    Sounds as though this is an initial effort after the NYC legislature apparently enacted a law allowing the use of the cameras for this purpose (link in the wnyc story, which I’ve yet to read.). May be too early for the city to look at data gathered to find how effective the measure is in actually reducing the rate at which people are driving over the speed limit.

    At $50, I wonder if that’s enough of a fine to be sufficiently effective in deterring speeding, and whether citation issued only for more than 10mph over posted, is too lenient; easily changed, most likely. If it works, could be this would help reduce the kind of speed problems occurring on roads in the Portland area, such as Barbur Blvd.

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    • q`Tzal February 3, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      My initial thought was that this fine is far too low as well.

      But then it occurred to me that if the fine was lower for red light cameras and fully automated speed cameras there might be less of a visceral outrage at the mere existence of a single automated ticketing device. Part of the push against automated ticketing devices is the sticker shock coupled with the assumption that the computer made a mistake. Anyone will fight a $250 ticket; will everyone fight a single $5 or $10 ticket? Probably not.

      So you argue back that “this fine is too low to punish law breakers!” and I’d agree if it was only going to be a single ticket. Most drivers are actually “reasonably” safe and aside from unintentional distraction related mistakes do not want to break the law. These people would be most worried about a ticket for that one time they stray over the posted speed limit. It is easy to see why worries of draconian punishment for 0.25mph over the speed limit is a major emotional component of broad resistance to automated ticketing devices.
      The trick that stops the dangerous drivers is setting these up every 0.25 miles to 0.1 miles and maybe every 100 yards in school zones and residential neighborhoods. If you only stray over the speed limit once you only get one ticket; if you are Speed Racer just tune your radio to the old timey cash register channel because that is the sound you are making as you endanger the public: cha-ching!, cha-ching!, cha-ching!

      Does this enable the rich to flaut traffic laws because they have disposable income? Yes, but this already happens. This low fine/multiple infraction scheme sets a price that just keeps adding in a definite concrete way just how much you are going to pay for your belief that you need to go dangerously fast. Perhaps even there could be a exponential scale set up so that multiple successive infractions get more and more expensive so as to more harshly fine those that are breaking laws continuously rather than just a single random event.

      None of this eliminates the need for traffic police but it does free them up to deal with more esoteric traffic infractions.

      Just an idea.

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      • wsbob February 3, 2014 at 11:08 pm

        “…So you argue back that “this fine is too low to punish law breakers!” …” q`Tzal

        Maybe you meant that statement as a rhetorical means of offering perspective on effectiveness of fine amount.

        Personally, at this point, I’m just wondering about the effectiveness of a relatively low fine imposed in this kind of situation. Not certain for a fact, but I believe people caught by Beaverton’s red light cameras, wind up with a citation that carries a fine somewhere in the amount of $250.

        I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of an instance where someone was issued a citation for driving one quarter mile per hour over the speed limit. 11 mph over the speed limit though, seems like too much slack. 7 mph is plenty, leaving people that drive with what should be a fairly easy, no more than 5 mph over the speed limit, to maintain. That limited margin would even allow for passing.

        This seems like a reasonable objective for in-city neighborhood streets, arterials and thoroughfares. On freeways, excessive speeds traveled seems to be an entirely different, out of control situation. I’ve no ideas about how a handle on that situation could be gained. I heard recently from a trooper, that Oregon state troopers are very much understaffed.

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        • q`Tzal February 4, 2014 at 12:57 pm

          See the problem is that it doesn’t matter whether I was being rhetorical or matter of fact realistic because there is such and overwhelming hatred of these automated traffic camera systems. The hatred is so irrational that there is a general presumption of guilt on the camera; that automated ticketing devices ate not just wrong but a source of evil.

          I propose a system that, while not ignoring traffic violations (as is the functional reality of understaffed police departments), attempts to replicate the slightly forgiving nature of a live human traffic officer by making INDIVIDUAL infractions less painful with the monetary equivalent of a slap on the wrist while still allowing for the draconian scaling needed to restrict the dangerous driving of scofflaws and combative drivers.

          But to be 100% clear: this scenario I suggest would only work if these cameras were EVERYWHERE on public roads.
          With multiple consecutive infractions comes multiple photographs of the driver’s face ensuring a solid identification, reliable convictions, lower court costs for the traffic court and higher punitive fines for the repeat offenders.

          There are so many problems with Americans’ driving habits but the easiest to solve is speeding and it exacerbates every other failing of people behind the wheel. If this hypothetical scenario worked perfectly there would still be people driving who don’t stop, don’t signal, get distracted behind the wheel (computers, smartphones, texting, radio, junk in back seat floorboards, misbehaving children, makeup application, showing off for girls) and any of a number of other dangerous behaviors.
          BUT, if the overall speed of all drivers was actually under what is safe for a section of road then the actual mistakes would be far less fatal.

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          • wsbob February 5, 2014 at 11:24 pm

            Great story! Thanks for that! (and the correction.).

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            • wsbob February 5, 2014 at 11:28 pm

              Whoops! was intended in response to Burr’s comment below in regards to Pete Seeger, biking, water coloring and camping out by way of the welcoming hospitality of countryside people. Thanks Burr!

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          • wsbob February 5, 2014 at 11:52 pm

            “…there is such and overwhelming hatred of these automated traffic camera systems. The hatred is so irrational that there is a general presumption of guilt on the camera; that automated ticketing devices ate not just wrong but a source of evil. …” q`Tzal

            I’m sure some people hate traffic regulation violation cameras, but am not so sure it’s widespread. Recently had an opportunity to ask a state trooper about speed cameras requiring the presence of a uniformed officer. Answer refreshed my memory that ‘not being able to face your accuser’, is a big complaint against non-attended automated systems.

            Feeling I’ve got, is that many people, whether they drive, walk or bike, love the increased use of these automated systems. Personally, after so many years of dealing with it, I’m weary of having to excessively worry about whether people driving and approaching a red light after the pedestrian crosswalk indicates ‘walk’, and I’ve cautiously started across…will actually stop. If their thinking about a red light camera helps bring them to a stop, maybe it’s an idea whose time has come.

            Same with excessive speeding. It’s just not that hard or unreasonable to keep a motor vehicle’s speed limit within 5 mph over posted, all things considered. I think many, many people driving the posted speed limit, have had it with people that want to sweep by them 10mph, 15mph, 20mph and more, over posted, unnecessarily intimidating, causing anxiety and increasing danger on the road. If necessary, use automation to slap them with tickets.

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  • Nick Skaggs February 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

    I’m gonna miss Pete Seeger. If anyone has a picture of him on his cross-country bicycle trip, please share it!

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  • BURR February 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Pete Seeger did many things, but biking cross country, as was falsely reported in many of his obits, was not among them. He did do a bit of biking around New York and New England, but his longer travels were by hitchhiking and riding the rails.

    Rik Palieri interviewed Seeger for the Digital Folklife a few years ago. Seeger told him he didn’t take his banjo on his bicycle trip, but carried a watercolor set on a summer trip riding through New England and New York State. He never went hungry.

    I’d sit in the cow pasture and paint a house that looked nice, put some pretty clouds in the sky, and often there was one there, and I’d knock on the door and I’d say, “I painted a picture of your house, would you like to see?” And the man’d say, “Hey, Ma, come look, somebody’s painted a picture of our house.” And then I’d say, “Would you like to have it?” And they’d say, “Well, gee, what do you want for it?” And I’d say, “Well, I’m camping out, and if I could get some food, eat some vegetables out of your garden, and it looks like it’s gonna rain tonight, could I sleep in your barn?”

    After that, Seeger got around by hitchhiking and jumping freights.


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