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The Monday Roundup: Car-free McKenzie Pass, anti-crosswalk enforcement & more

Posted by on May 5th, 2014 at 9:03 am

A centuries-old lava flow encroaches on the foothills of the North and Middle Sister of the Cascade Range in central Oregon

Two of the Sisters.
(Photo: Mary Harrsch)

Good morning! Our roundup of the best bike links on the web this week is sponsored by Western Bike Works, longtime BikePortland sponsor and one of the city’s best bike shops.

Peaceful mountains: McKenzie Pass, between the Sisters, is car-free but open to bikes until at least June 16.

Crosswalk ban: A group of Tacoma activists, 15 of whom have personally been hit by cars, have been painting crosswalks without permission “to get the attention of the city.” It worked! The city is now threatening to prosecute rogue crosswalk painters.

Lucky growth: Portland’s urban growth boundary attempted to halt in-migration but ended up creating precious infill. That’s one insight from a fascinating Oregonian interview with urbanist author Benjamin Ross, who speaks at Powell’s tonight.

Safer stop law: In Boise, where the Idaho Stop law lets people on bikes at red lights start pedaling before a green, bikers are 30 percent safer than their peers in Sacramento, Calif.. Maybe that’s because the law “allows cyclists to choose the safest time to cross the street.”

The scofflaw myth: British writer Helen Blackman has a great breakdown of the “othering” process that leads people to see bike users as lawless while tolerating car users who break laws.

Quiet wounds: Seven years after she was nearly killed while walking across the old, auto-centric Times Square, the executive editor of the New York Times still walks with a limp and recalls her crash every time she sees a white delivery truck.

Faded phosphorescence: Remember those glow-in-the-dark Dutch roads we shared in the Roundup a few weeks back? BikePortland reader GlowBoy called it: They faded.

Afghan racers: The Afghan women’s cycling team is breaking some gender barriers, but its 25-year old assistant coach still rides in full-length workout togs on the hottest days, with her husband cheering. NPR has audio.

Universal access: When Antwerp’s city council asked residents to avoid biking on one of the city’s busiest roads, more than 1,000 residents took the streets in protest.

Freeway tolls: It’s time to repeal the federal law against tolling Interstate freeways, President Obama says. Mysteriously, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts disagree.

Transportation bill: The League of American Bicyclists has a first-rate summary of Obama’s transportation proposal as it relates to biking.

Biking’s patron: Former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., “perhaps cycling’s greatest supporter in congressional history,” died in his sleep Saturday. He was 79.

Skewed data: Oregon’s experiment with using Strava’s athlete-oriented biking data to inform policy decisions is “like buying customer data from Whole Foods and using it to understand the grocery shopping behaviors of everyone in the city,” argues Chicago writer Echo.

Return on investment: Spending the next 40 years adding “physical separation on main roads and bicycle-friendly speed reduction on local streets” would greatly boost biking rates and thus “yield benefits 10–25 times greater than costs,” a New Zealand study just concluded.

Ungreen manufacturing: Bike maker Specialized ran the numbers on the amount of energy and water consumed to make their bikes. It’s a lot (though probably a lot less than a car).

“The perfect crime”: If you kill a person with your car in NYC (as in Oregon), the Freakonomics podcast explains, you’ll probably get off free, in part because you’re simultaneously eliminating a key witness.

CRC reboot: Oregon legislators who are skeptical of freeway projects are notably absent from Washington Republicans’ invite list to a proposed summit that would start from scratch on a rail-free Interstate 5 bridge replacement.

Chicago bike share: Chicago’s huge bike sharing system has found a lead sponsor: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, which just offered $12.5 million to get its logos on the 3,000 bikes for the next five years. (For comparison, Portland is counting on a total of $5.5 million from private sponsors over the first five years of a system it would launch with 750 bikes, and Seattle is getting $2.5 million for the first five years of its 500-bike system from its lead sponsor, Alaska Airlines.)

If you’ve been waiting for the day when your tall bike is going to show them — show them all! — you need to check out your video of the week, via Gawker:

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.

  • 9watts May 5, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Othering. Excellent piece!

    “Cyclists are disliked for transgressing social boundaries, for not doing what’s “normal”, for questioning a consumerist culture and a lifestyle that relies completely on the motorcar.”

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    • q`Tzal May 5, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Don’t discount the consumer success angle.
      So much of our economy relies on wasteful consumer spending that old fashioned frugality would cause a fairly disruptive employment shift even if there would still be enough jobs after such a transition. Corporate propaganda tells us to fear & reject frugality as something only “losers” do.

      But what I think is worse is how we in America have inextricably linked “personal success” with “SEE HOW MUCH STUFF I HAVE!”. Do you have the right car, clothes, house, stuff to prove that you have lots of money; monetary worth being the only “important” measure of personal worth in America.

      On some unconscious level everyone knows they would be the same person with less stuff, a smaller house, a cheaper car or no car. Just by being physically present to bring their least refuteable internal guilt and fears to awareness you have made them feel icky & bad about their lifestyle. Since you are the cause naturally you will be the target of their ire; it doesn’t help your case if you are a minority.

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      • 9watts May 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

        “we in America have inextricably linked “personal success” with “SEE HOW MUCH STUFF I HAVE!”.”

        That would be the Middle Classes, primarily. They are the ones so concerned with the impression they make on others, with their status in society, with how they compare with others, etc.

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        • q`Tzal May 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm

          There is this wacky paradigm in the Deep South where people will live in rundown broken shacks or equally decrepit mobile homes, only buy 2nd hand clothing, refuse all government assistance (for political purity & pride) and yet still find it CRITICAL to buy a BMW, Escalade or equally ridiculously overpriced status symbol.
          This is not limited to a specific racial ethnicity but seemed inversely related to overall wealth of all: the more poor a person is the more profligate vehicular purchase price is.
          Luckily for my time growing up there I was already too weird for ANY amount of money to make me appear normal.

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  • 9watts May 5, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Ungreen Manufacturing –
    I suspect this will get a lot of play here. An interesting report. We could have predicted that aluminum and carbon fiber and other high performance materials would rank high on one or another scale.
    “The results of the LCA show that carbon fiber composite consumes significant amounts of water, aluminum bicycle manufacturing uses significant amounts of energy, and chain manufacturing produces significant amounts of recyclable waste…”

    What I found disappointing were the timid and somewhat obtuse recommendations, which (having been sponsored by Specialized may not be surprising) omitted any mention of the obvious:
    – relocalize production
    – steer clear of energy or water intensive materials
    – identify and encourage longer product life (maintenance, durability, eschew obsolescence, etc.)

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    • Dave May 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Picky, picky, picky, picky picky! What would you rather see–someone who isn’t motivated to ride a bike unless its carbon fiber, 13 lbs., and just like the one Alberto Contador rides, or someone who never rides at all? Also, Specialized is a HUGE contributor to cycling and cycling advocacy.

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      • 9watts May 6, 2014 at 10:11 am

        I don’t think you are hearing what I’m saying. I don’t see this as an either/or; nor do I harbor any illusions that Specialized is likely to follow any of my list of recommendations. Nevertheless I think it is worth thinking about this important topic–here on bikeportland–in a more expansive manner. Why limit the conversation to the way it is framed in this report?

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      • 9watts May 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

        “Specialized is a HUGE contributor to cycling and cycling advocacy.”

        I’m not impressed by that. Philanthropists often spend money to balance some other thing they do/have done. It is a familiar model, but doesn’t in my view excuse or exonerate Specialized here for ignoring the elephant in the room: their bikes do–but don’t need to–have large ecological footprints.

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  • Dan May 5, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I’ve been wondering about the illegal crosswalk thing in my area. Washington County does not install crosswalks; they have a policy that allows others to hire their own traffic engineer and then pay to install it themselves. The same is true for curb cuts connected to trails. You want it done? Pay for it yourself!!!

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  • spare_wheel May 5, 2014 at 10:43 am

    The protest in support of right of way on a major arterial in Antwerp is a stark contrast to Portland’s advocacy apathy.

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  • scott May 5, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Tall bikes are still dumb.

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    • Anonymous May 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm


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    • Randall S. May 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      There’s a simple solution to that: don’t ride one. Problem solved.

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    • q`Tzal May 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      I’ve always thought the most dangerous thing about tall bikes is getting on and off.
      In this dudes case he needs to factor in “will a sideways water current knock me down? “. Often in these relatively shall flash floods (<24”) it’s the swift perpendicular current that slams autos around stranding people and blocking roads.

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    • matheas michaels May 8, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      like you!

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  • Joe May 5, 2014 at 11:17 am

    awesome tall bike dude.. haha

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    • q`Tzal May 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Kinda surprised not to have seen kids on jet skis.

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      • CaptainKarma May 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm

        …and drinking beers…. ( I too have “done time” in the deep south….which is why I heart PDX)

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  • GlowBoy May 5, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I probably won’t be able to do McKenzie Pass this year, but I did it last spring during the car-free period. And it was awesome.

    As for other Northwest roads that are known to open to bikes before they open to cars in the spring:
    – No word posted yet on the Crater Lake National Park page, but last year they said they would have at least one car-free weekend at the beginning of the season.
    – North Cascades Highway in Washington is expected to open to cars this Thursday. No word on the WSDOT page about bike access.
    – Chinook Pass in Washington is expected to open to cars by Memorial Day weekend. Again, no word about bike access, but since they’re currently trying to free snow removal equipment that got stuck in an avalanche, I’m guessing it’s not passable by bikes quite yet.

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  • Spiffy May 5, 2014 at 11:51 am

    CRC reboot: I don’t see any mention of rail-free…

    In fact it states: “our goal is to reach consensus on a plan that would meet with broad approval from citizens on both sides of the river and would address important transportation needs for generations to come.”

    to me that seems to indicate that it would have to have light-rail… all the advanced civilizations use it…

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) May 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      You’re right, “rail-free” isn’t in the piece. I decided to include it because that’s the stated goal of both Pike and Rivers according to past Columbian coverage. In the context of a statement from a Republican state rep from La Center (Rivers), “generations to come” isn’t code for “low-carbon,” unfortunately.

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    • dave May 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Given the virulent opposition to light rail in Clark county, “broad approval from citizens on both sides of the river” is pretty easily understood as “auto lanes only”.

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  • GlowBoy May 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    R.I.P. Jim Oberstar.

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  • J_R May 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I clicked on the link to the article about the rogue crosswalks in Tacoma. I find it interesting that Tacoma seems more interested in prosecuting those putting unauthorized paint on the streets than in enforcing the law requiring motorists to yield or in prosecuting motorists who run down pedestrians. Is this screwed up or what?

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  • dave May 5, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Nothing “mysterious” about big chains liking free-to-use interstates. If people travel side/back roads they might end up using local businesses instead, and if freight haulers have to pay a toll they might have to tack a nickle onto the cost of a 1000 sesame-seed buns.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson May 5, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Michael, the UGB was not created to stop “in-migration,” despite Gov McCall’s famous or infamous comments. It was created to protect valuable farm and forest land. It has certainly limited sprawl into those lands and happy for us, spurred greater re-investment in built up areas of Oregon’s towns and cities. Ah those visionary Republicans of old!

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  • Opus the Poet May 5, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    The link to “the perfect crime” article gives me a 503 error.

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  • Dave May 6, 2014 at 7:18 am

    And, Pike and Rivers are both part of Clark County’s rabid anti-transit jihadi faction. Neither has ever seen a bus or a foot of rail that they didn’t hate.

    Michael Andersen (News Editor)
    You’re right, “rail-free” isn’t in the piece. I decided to include it because that’s the stated goal of both Pike and Rivers according to past Columbian coverage. In the context of a statement from a Republican state rep from La Center (Rivers), “generations to come” isn’t code for “low-carbon,” unfortunately.
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