(Image: Sightline Institute)
Here are the great bike links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:
Gas-tax realism: Washington state’s Office of Financial Management has just released what a Sightline Institute analyst calls “far and away the most responsible official traffic forecast I’ve seen from any government agency, ever.”
Sidewalk blocked: Saying there’s not enough parking in the area to “support” it, angry homeowners have blocked installation of a half-block sidewalk in Tulsa.
Texting alarmism? Does texting while driving get more blame than it deserves? Traffic fatalities actually correlate far better to a different statistic.
Seattle bike share: The 500 bikes in Seattle’s Pronto Cycle Share carried 4,000 trips in the system’s first week. Helmets, required by city law for all rides, are available for
$13 each free from bins next to each station.
Foggy toll: The most famous bridge in the United States might be one of the first in the world to charge a toll for people biking and walking.
Reflective chic: A New York designer has made a wardrobe of clothes with reflective accents “that would look as good on the bike path as on the runway.”
Unionizing bike share: The workers behind Citi Bike have voted to join the union that operates NYC’s MTA.
Low rider: Now that‘s a fender:
London intrigue: A group of “old men in limos” are publicly supporting the British capital’s plan to build a 2.5-mile Dutch-quality bikeway even as they work quietly to kill it, claims a Guardian contributor.
Self-braking cars: The person-spotting, auto-braking technology available in a few high-end cars is making its way to mainstream Ford sedans.
School safety: When did Edinburgh start leading the UK in cool transportation initiatives? Their latest is a complete ban on cars within 300 yards of 11 primary schools during drop-off times.
Aging in motion: Too many Americans choose their retirement homes without considering the fact that eventually they’re probably going to stop driving, says the New York Times.
Bridge breakup: The left-right coalition that killed the Columbia River Crossing isn’t uniting around alternative plans.
Cargo families: Amy Subach of the PDX Cargo Bike Gang evangelizes her family transport of choice in one of the first few issues of True Parent magazine.
Purple Line? Looks as if it’d be surprisingly easy to start running a direct, evening-only MAX line between Portland Airport and Clackamas Town Center.
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.
Tulsa’s mayor clearly has his head stuck inside an orifice…
I just don’t know if it’s his own, or his landlords.
I’d advocate for people shutting down the entire auto lane and seeing how that works. Better, setting up in LL’s driveway and denying him access to something he wants.
On the other hand, good for citizens of Tulsa who refused to let their local government ram things down their throat.
I’m so glad we don’t live in a democracy…
Yeah we got the joke the first time.
I guess so? We’re talking about sidewalks though, basic human mobility. A sidewalk isn’t really the sort of thing I think of when I think of the horrible shit politicians try to “ram down our throats”.
I wonder if they know that the vast majority of crimes in Tulsa are committed by people driving cars…
The “not enough parking” to support a sidewalk deluded reasoning angle suggests that this is a low traffic road.
If this neighborhood is so convinced of their low use & low traffic charm then they really don’t need government money to maintain their paved road.
Their road should be removed from the cyclical pavement maintenance budget. It no longer conforms to basic standards of equal access for all users including ADA compliance. If you’re feeling diplomatic or forgiving you could just transfer fiscal responsibility from the state/county/city to someone else with a smaller budget; it’d be horrible for notice of said transfer to simply get lost or forgotten.
Cost almost nothing to run MAX from the Airport to Clackamas? If only. It would actually be very expensive, because the configuration at Gateway would require trains to switch directions, plus there’s only a single track section through there for the Red Line, so it can’t handle any more frequency. Without major track work, I don’t see this happening.
Thanks, Zef. I’ve rephrased.
i predict that by 2041 we will have self driving car2gos everywhere, car ownership will be in massive decline, there will be abundant empty parking garages, and people will still want to ride bicycles because they will always be the healthiest, cheapest, and most fun way to get around.
I’ll subscribe to that! But hopefully your prediction doesn’t go the way of the Flying Car!
I don’t think it’ll take that long.
Wouldn’t be to sure about that. Jetsons flying car anyone? http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/10/google_self_driving_car_it_may_never_actually_happen.single.html
Not Roundup material really, but I noticed a couple weeks ago, that Performance Bike shop in Beaverton has on display now, and is selling the ELF, the electric assist trike with upright seating, and semi-enclosed fiberglass body. Dropped in to see it yesterday. Looks very well built and finished. Employees said they sold one a couple days ago. If you travel out or through Beaverton at all, keep your eyes open for it on the road.
I wanted to get a close look at that thing when they had their event at Edgefield… unfortunately I wasn’t willing to wait in a line just to look at it… both demo units they had were in full use so there was no place to just check it out while it sat…
Performance Bikes in Beaverton is a 10 minute walk from the Beav transit center, a little less, one stop west, from Beaverton Central stop. They’ve got the ELF situated front and center in the shop, in good light. Very convenient to look at it from all sides, get into and out of the seat. I talked to several people working at the store, about it. As to their impressions about actual use on the road, they were straightforward. I didn’t ask to take it for a spin.
One person working at the shop, related to me that the person that just bought one, on a before buying test ride, took it out on Saturday, the day of heavy wind and rain we just had. Said to them, he was very satisfied how it performed and kept him dry under those conditions.
I’d say it’s definitely worth a look. How it’s actually going to work out on a wide range of actual road situations people biking have to deal with, I can’t easily say. For some road situations, I think it’s going to work very well. For short stretches, maybe even on roads with heavy traffic, like Cedar Hills Blvd past the mall.
It has turn signals, brake lights, headlights. Not quite as tall as a SMART car, but may be as long. With that gear, and its size, roads where it can be used primarily on the main lane, rather than the bike lane, make the most sense to me. Pedal it, with e-assist to make it go, but otherwise, it’s more like a lightweight, micro car, than a bike, or a ‘bent’.
Cool – I’ll keep a look out for it. Remind me again – how is it different than a human-only powered bicycle (according to the oregon vehicle code)?
Ebikes aren’t going away. For the first time, I’ve noticed two new ebike commuters on Patton Road in the west hills; a man on a white one and a woman on a blue/black one. I think it’s awesome for people who want to commute by bike but previously thought that a Category 4 climb prevented them from doing so.
Correction on Seattle Bike Share – helmets, which cost Pronto $13 each, are available without charge next to each station. Future plans are to charge a $2 rental fee for helmets.
Thanks, Evan. Fixed.
I didn’t see any rationalization for WA’s forecasting. One of the major drivers of VMT (sorry) has always been, and will likely always be cost of travel. For political reasons I won’t get into detail on the price of gas is now going down, and will continue to be ‘affordable’ for the foreseeable future. I can’t see how this will do anything but incentivize people to drive at least a little more (then factor in population growth, etc., – is WA state shrinking?).
The cost to drive is more than the price to fuel the vehicle. Cars take up space, so one major factor in the cost to drive is the delay associated with congestion. Cheaper fuel doesn’t change congestion for the better. If you’ve driven between Portland and Vancouver BC most any day of the week, but especially on the weekends, you know the traffic congestion is only getting worse. Tacoma to Olympia (30 miles) can take a couple hours on bad nights. You should also consider how the young are not choosing to drive (my 19 year old doesn’t even want a license and we can’t afford to add him to our insurance).
Technology is making ownership and routine operation of an automobile an economic burden that can be avoided.
While the dream of telecommuting from an old fashioned employer is still seemingly far off the lackluster and rapidly changing economy is making it moot.
Our youth are increasingly staying at home with parents or friends longer allowing group utilization of a single vehicle more efficient.
The lack of jobs for even the most highly educated and the industry wide commoditization of every worker as an expendable flex time worker has unceremoniously kicked an entire generation out to scrounge for for a living by any means possible. Sometimes this means multiple part time jobs, sometimes home craft work and sometimes Internet based businesses that never needed a physical office anyways.
All of these and a myriad of other factors (like 2-3 solid decades of Captain Planet-esq proselytizing about NEEDING to save the environment from ourselves) have led to a generation of people that don’t want a car, may not need a car and can’t get a job to support the expense of a car.
And we are happier for it.
Or, you could just look at the data. Traffic counts in Seattle have been trending downwards for 12 years. And they’re not alone. Read up on Sightline’s “Dude Where are My Cars” series http://daily.sightline.org/2014/04/08/another-look-at-declining-seattle-traffic/
In short, we’ve got a large group of people aging out of driving, young people with less interest in driving (and better choices), high costs of driving due to congestion, parking, etc. (not just gas prices), etc.
What hasn’t had any rationalization is WA’s previous constant traffic growth forecasts.
I’m curious… how is it that congestion is increasing but traffic counts are going down? I’ve heard the same thing in the Portland area as well.
It’s completely possible; though I’m not sure congestion is increasing (it’s just really high in Seattle).
That is, it’s possible that *total* traffic counts are flat or falling, but traffic counts during rush hours are up, hence leading to increased congestion. I haven’t looked at those numbers.
Of course, roughly half of congestion isn’t caused by base traffic – it’s related to things like crashes, weather, road construction, Joe Biden visiting, etc. It’s amazing how much congestion can happen due to a crash.
have fun here: http://trafficwaves.org/
One possibility for this particular forecast from Washington’s Office of Financial Management is to be conservative in terms of revenue.
Being conservative on the revenue forecast helps to minimize the political fallout if or when projects have to be delayed, helps avoid starting the planning, engineering, land acquisition phases that must be started years in advance of construction. Environmental studies in particular end up being wasted if they are deemed to be “too old.”
As others have stated, with falling gas prices of late we may see a resumption in the upward trend in auto use and with purchase of trucks, SUVs and other inefficient vehicles.
I wouldn’t start celebrating the permanent, long-term decline of driving based on this forecast.
Agreed, this isn’t a time to celebrate that a definitely future of falling or flat traffic growth – yet. The OFM used data from WSDOT, however, to make the forecast.
The OFM has always had the incentive to be conservative, for political fallout, but they haven’t, as they’ve been told by WSDOT that traffic counts will always climb.
WSDOT has used those projections as a reason to build huge mega-projects, only to incur huge debt that undermines the state’s ability to maintain its roads and improve safety (while giving certain people jobs). Of note, WSDOT’s old director has been hired by Parsons Brinkerhoff, which runs or is involved in most of the mega-projects in Washington.
So, the forecast is just that — a guess at the future. As Yogi Berra said, predictions are hard, especially about the future. But the (demonstrably erroneous) past forecasts now cannot be used as a political bludgeon to funnel most of the limited resources into new multi-billion dollar roads.
Good points. The last time we saw bike commuting jump on a measurable level nationwide was when we saw gas prices do the same, around the time China’s energy demands spiked. I remember watching a news segment about it on CNN, and an older fellow from Chicago made the comment that “you know the world’s changing when the Americans are riding more bikes and the Chinese are driving more cars.”
I read somewhere not too long ago that pickup truck sales in this country reached an all-time high. I wouldn’t bet on lower VMT to be much of a significant trend, at least not nationwide.
Regarding texting alarmism. My work gives me the heads up of whats coming down the line regarding automotive distraction. There are big changes that are already designed and being rolled between now and the next few years that will completely change the situation regarding distracted driving, and not for the good.
Center consoles are being replaced by screens which will be filled with apps. The apps will be largely for entertainment and to relieve driving ‘boredom’, but disguised as information. This is the so called Infotainment. Unlike texting while driving which may be self limiting just due to the physical challenge , infotainment will be made easy to use, and unlike the radio it will be interactive. The mental distraction (which is the thing that matters) of texting will still be there, but the ease of use and wide variety of apps will mean the mental distraction can be ongoing for the entire drive. The total risk of collision will track the total time mentally distracted during the drive, which the new technology will allow to drastically increase. Look for the infotainment apps to start using gamification in order to complete with other apps for attention, and further increase utilization. Also look for the release of so called “safety” features such as heads-up windscreen displays which will only increase the level of mental distraction while also increasing its utilization.
What I believe we need are proper safety studies for the new technologies before roll-out, not years after. These studies have been done before for alcohol and could easily be repeated for infotainment before roll-out. They can involve for example setting up a cones course and testing for driving mistakes while using infotainment vs control groups and repeating various levels of intoxication as a further control. The results of each technology or app could then be correlated with a level of intoxication, which then is already correlated with a known level of risk.
Look for the automotive industry to NOT do these kinds of proper studies. Infotainment will be a multi Billion dollar industry all on its own, and will be looking to invest huge sums to squash anyone speaking out for safety. This would not the first time the automotive industry has launched a PR campaign (jaywalking, anti-transit, etc etc), and they know what they are doing. They have Billions to spend on PR firms, to buy “experts”, to fund studies they have custom designed to achieve the results they want, to hire all the lobbyist they want, and to plaster the web with articles. You only need to look at how much money Google spent on lobbying for their glasses as a clue. Look for cues in articles such as labeling people calmly calling for the proper safety studies upfront as “alarmists using scare tactics”. Look for them divert attention on to other safety issues instead (there are plenty), to call the issue ‘complex’, and to manipulate past data on texting to support gamified infotainment, which will be a completely different animal. We have been fooled and manipulated by the massive automotive industry before, and I just see the same thing happening again.
And, when suggesting legislation to our representatives, remember that the US constitution and Bill of Rights don’t have the word “automobile” in them anywhere.
When this “infotainment” is viewed in court as an irresistible nuisance and victims (or survivors) of a distracted driving collision win in court, only then will these hazards be removed.
Sadly true. Not terribly long ago I worked for Wind River, an Intel-owned company doing significant work on infotainment, and actually met another software geek at a competitor’s company based on a similar comment here on BP. He will also attest the semi and software companies are going all-in to court auto manufacturers with all kinds of connected systems, many of them highly distracting. I saw the trend nearly a decade ago when touch screens led to soft buttons which led to the whole economy of scale behind smartphones. Oh how I miss tactile feel!
The sad part is much of the same modern technology could be applied to solving many of the problems talked about here on BP, but the money maker is really in content delivery which vies for the driver’s attention. It’s the last bastion as we’ve already captured the audience pretty much anywhere else they go… well, maybe not asleep but I’m sure that’s next.
MAX doesn’t need to invent new lines, it just needs to follow BART by using colors for guidance, but focus on the endpoint of the line. For the handful of people who actually care if their train from PDX goes past Beaverton, that’s a really big deal. This can’t be more confusing than the line change announcement sometimes buried in the crackle of other announcements you can’t hear over the crowds at Gateway.
“The most famous bridge in the United States might be one of the first in the world to charge a toll for people biking and walking.”
It might be the second in the world to charge a toll for people biking and walking across. We only have to look beyond the horizon to our friendly neighbors in Cascade Locks to find a bridge that charges a toll to active transportation users.
Back in the 80s-90s, someone absconded with the toll funds that were to be used to pay off the Bellevue/Omaha to Iowa bridge across the Missouri. So, they extended the tolls indefinetly (tolls were to end when the bridge was paid for), and started charging bicycles 50 cents each way. What if I didn’t HAVE 50 cents on me? Grr.
Isn’t that bridge privately owned and as such is not able to be officially regulated and monitored like a taxpayer owned property would be?
OAFB 98-03 55thMCCS
The Atlantic Beach Bridge on Long Island charged tolls for peds and bikes way back in the 60s and 70s. It was only a nickel, but a nickel was worth more then and it was still a toll.
Tulsa is perhaps the least bike/ped friendly city in the country. They are doomed!