Splendid Cycles

Column: Fellow bike lovers, we need to talk about car shaming

Posted by on April 27th, 2015 at 10:05 am

Taz Loomans.

Bike elitism can show up in lots of ways. One way is car-shaming.

Do you own a car? If you don’t own a car, do you use car sharing more than once a month? Do you accept rides from people? Do you use a car to travel around the state? Do you use a vehicle when you move to a new home?

If the answer to more than two of these questions is yes, then according to some people, you don’t qualify for the exclusive car-free bike-only club.

Of course, this isn’t a formal club. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t routinely excluded from it.

We can’t start from a place of making car-users wrong. We have to start from a place of making bicycling welcoming, open and appealing to everyone, whether they use cars or not.

Some people will tell you that using cars is immoral and that people who use cars are failing in their duty to a healthier planet. This judgement renders 99 percent of the people in Portland as immoral and failing. Even if those people are living in East Portland, where the bike infrastructure is abysmal and it is simply dangerous to ride your bike. Even if people have to take their kids to a daycare 20 miles away from their work. Even if they are not physically able to ride a bike, or if they don’t even think of it as an option in our car-oriented city.

There are a million reasons why people choose to drive and all of them are legitimate. Yes, all of them. That’s where we have to start as bike advocates. We can’t start from a place of making car-users wrong. We have to start from a place of making bicycling welcoming, open and appealing to everyone, whether they use cars or not.

I’m a red-blooded bike commuter. I don’t own a car. I get around primarily by bike, with the occasional use of bus and car sharing. I myself have been guilty of bike elitism, lording over family and friends who drive a lot how much more sustainable my lifestyle is, how much fitter I am because I bike and how much money I save.

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But I hadn’t been on the receiving end of this moral snobbery until I moved to Portland and encountered folks that are way more bikey than me and whose transportation carbon footprint is a fraction of mine. I finally understood that the sustainabler-than-thou attitude is more damaging to the cause than helpful — simply because like any other elitist ideology, it excludes and elevates a certain group over another.

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
—Brené Brown

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change,” says Brené Brown in her book, I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame. Shaming other people who use cars is only going to serve to disempower people and ensure that the bicycle movement remains small.

Car shaming excludes those who use cars in their daily lives yet are interested in biking and want to replace some car trips with bike trips. It excludes people who don’t have the wherewithal or interest in bicycling everywhere all the time.

Aren’t these the people we want to welcome to our club, after all?

BikeStation Long Beach-6.jpg

(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

I share the belief that automobile use has caused a variety of damage on our planet, ranging from greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change to obesity to social isolation. And I love riding my bike and the fact that cycling is a kind of antidote to the damage that cars have done on our planet and humanity over the last seven or eight decades.

But as bicycle advocates, we have to hold ourselves to the ethic that we espouse – the ethic of a better world for all. We aren’t going to achieve this by excluding people from our bicycling community that we judge to be not car-free enough.

The only way forward is inclusivity. This means casting a wider net for invites to bike-fun events, it means hosting more events for beginners who don’t own all of the bells and whistles of cycling, and it means welcoming everyone, even if they drive to an event with their bikes. Inclusivity is going to lead to more people riding bikes, which will lead to more bike infrastructure in places like East Portland, which will lead to fewer car trips for people in the outer reaches of the city, which is good for all of us.

Taz Loomans is BikePortland’s subversiveness columnist. Read her introductory column here.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Dave April 27, 2015 at 10:12 am

    I drive–and car-shame myself when appropriate. Shaming isn’t always wrong. Elitism isn’t always bad–sometimes it inspires others. Deal with it.

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 27, 2015 at 11:48 am

      There is a huge difference between shaming done by a coach, trainer, parent then there is by some ‘hole stranger on the street.

      When strangers do it,it usually isn’t going to do a thing but cause anger and frustration.

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    • Kristen April 27, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      Why must you (along with thousands of Internet commentators) add the “deal with it” part? It’s unnecessarily confrontational for something that should be a civil discussion.

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      • B April 27, 2015 at 2:53 pm

        My thoughts exactly…especially when on this topic. How many people respond in the positive when told to “deal with it” when shame is the used as the main change agent. Now reverse that and consider how many people respond to that messaging negatively…Dave, whose side are you on? With that kind of messaging it seems like one would be driving people to drive more.

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    • Dan M. April 29, 2015 at 10:18 am

      You better be elite before you act elitist, otherwise you’re just a hypocritical phony. If you’re not conquering the west hills daily in rain, sleet, snow, and wind then you should probably shut your mouth. And if you are doing that, you’re bad ass enough to not have to open your mouth.

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  • Middle of the Road guy April 27, 2015 at 10:18 am

    well stated!

    But this will likely go over as well as telling someone to “check their privilege”. Nobody likes to be called out and forced to realize that their ‘moral superiority’ isn’t superior.

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  • 9watts April 27, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Great post. I don’t agree with all of it, but look forward to the discussion.

    Habituation is real, but we bipeds are not above recognizing the problems that arise from our having been habituated in certain ways. Some of your phrasing comes close to eliding this:
    “There are a million reasons why people choose to drive and all of them are legitimate. Yes, all of them.”

    Like most everything else, this default position to drive is not something we’re stuck with. We can all do something about it. We can start anywhere. It is 2015; the Paris talks are only a few months away. I have a hard time agreeing that all driving is legitimate. Much of it is simply rationalized by looking at our peers who also drive, and who look, symmetrically, at us for confirmation. This is not productive, and the carfree alternative is usefully championed as a counterweight to this echo-chamber of rationalization.

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    • El Biciclero April 27, 2015 at 11:23 am

      “I have a hard time agreeing that all driving is legitimate.”

      In fairness, Taz didn’t state that all driving is legitimate, but that all reasons for driving are legitimate. I don’t necessarily agree with that statement either, but I do think it’s closer to true than saying “all driving is legitimate”. Reasons can be abused, however by turning them into excuses. For example, it may be that I have to show up to work at my law firm looking well-groomed and sweat-free to meet with clients, and my 9-mile, hilly commute just doesn’t let me do that. That’s a reason to drive to work, but it becomes an excuse if my building has a shower and I could keep suit jackets, pants, and shoes in my office.

      But then there are “reasons” that just don’t fly. Case in point, your point about habituation: If my reason for driving is that I just don’t think about it, then that’s not necessarily a “legitimate” reason.

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    • Kyle April 27, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Sure, you don’t *have* to drive anywhere in a single-occupancy vehicle. But there’s situations where our public transit and/or bike options just don’t cut it. In my case, I’m not going to bike 16 miles to a massage appointment only to show up all sweaty and sore. Taking the bus would mean eating up ~1.5 hours round trip out of my work schedule, and MAX is more than a mile from each end of my trip.

      Not to mention IKEA runs…

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      • Gary April 27, 2015 at 12:15 pm

        For the sake of discussion, why is your massage 16 miles away? Not picking on your choice of massage therapist, in particular, but that seems like low-hanging fruit (compared to say, a job) as far as living in a way that allows us to practically choose to bike.

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        • James Sherbondy April 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm

          Perhaps Kyle is a massage therapist and it IS his job?

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        • davemess April 27, 2015 at 1:09 pm

          Except then you’re limiting everything in your life to an X mile bike able radius. That’s a pretty big nonstarter for the vast majority of the population.

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          • Eric April 27, 2015 at 2:11 pm

            If your driving habit’s carbon footprint is as big as a house’s… what’s a non-starter?

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            • davemess April 27, 2015 at 4:48 pm

              The fact that this is a country founded on independence and freedom. Cars and driving aren’t anything close to illegal.
              Thus most people will have a huge problem with that.

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              • Eric April 28, 2015 at 6:34 pm

                founded on not paying taxes, but yeah.

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              • davemess April 28, 2015 at 7:32 pm

                You don’t call that independence and freedom?
                Tomato, tomatoe.

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              • El Biciclero May 1, 2015 at 10:04 am

                …founded on not paying taxes without representation in the government collecting the taxes, not “not paying taxes”.

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            • matt picio May 1, 2015 at 7:34 am

              “If your driving habit’s carbon footprint is as big as a house’s… what’s a non-starter?” – That depends on what the rest of your greenhouse gas footprint is. Cars are #3. Agriculture is #2 (mostly, but not entirely, meat production – or specifically the grain grown for meat production). #1 is electricity production – i.e. air conditioning, heaters, dryers, lighting, and electronics. The mere fact that you’re typing and posting this on BikePortland means you already have a footprint equal to someone who drives a car but doesn’t use a computer.

              This is the first world – *every* choice has an impact, and it’s a shame that we shortcut each others’ advocacy by adopting a holier-than-thou attitude towards our fellow cyclists based on specifically car use.

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        • Kyle April 27, 2015 at 3:34 pm

          I used to live a few miles from my massage therapist so it was an easy choice. She knows me well (for several years now) and does amazing work, so it’s worth a longer trip for me rather than finding someone closer and starting the process all over again.

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  • SilkySlim April 27, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Great points, definitely something that hits home with me. I was once the shaming type, but have worked hard to drop that from my lifestyle. BUT, I still find myself dropping some subtle hints here and there. “Weird, I’ve never had trouble parking exactly in front of my destination!” “There was traffic today, must have missed it completely!” “Gas prices changed? Who knew?”

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  • ricochet April 27, 2015 at 10:30 am

    The hard part with cars is that people often take them for granted, which breeds impatience, which breeds agression on the road- and which hijacks road design in favor of the mode to the exclusion of all else.

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  • hotrodder April 27, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Great post.

    I’ve always been an avid enthusiast of cars. I’ve also ridden bikes pretty much my whole life, (I’m into my second half-century) and I continue to commute on a bike every day all year long in spite of owning two cars – one, a garage queen that gets driven on nice days or for specific journeys, and the second, an old pickup that I use like an old pickup. I’ve bought and sold and given away so many bikes I couldn’t possibly remember all of them, and I appreciate them all, my cars and my bikes for many of the same reasons, the functionality and the engineering and the way they make me feel.

    There are a million reasons why people choose to drive and all of them are legitimate.

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    • Brad April 27, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      Huge thumbs up to the garage queen. I love some vintage 60’s/70’s muscle.

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      • gutterbunnybikes April 27, 2015 at 3:32 pm

        Alot of hot rodders are also vintage bicycle guys too. Typically lots of great old bicycles at hot rod shows too.

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    • jered bogli April 27, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      YEAH!!! Stuff with wheels. I’m in the same boat, a beat up daily driver, a garage queen/track car, 25 years worth of bikes for every occasion, skateboards, whatever all stuff with wheels = fun.

      I went bikepacking this weekend and had to walk a mile through a field because the Oregon Trail Rally was being run on the same roads that make gravel riding so much fun! I was just bummed we got there between stages and didn’t get to see some full speed rally driving happening!!

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      • KristenT April 28, 2015 at 12:51 pm

        I may have seen you! I was driving one of the competition cars, and I agree, those roads are all simply amazing.

        Lots of rally people are also bike people (it’s great physical conditioning, which you need if you plan on driving at max warp and still control the car), and a bunch of us drove as lead and follow cars for the Gorge Roubaix.

        I own 2 cars– the rally car, and my Forester. I also own 2 bikes. I can’t haul rally tires from the mounting place to the cars on a bike. But I can commute to and from work by bike, so I do. My reasons for driving are as legitimate as my reasons for riding, and I don’t car-shame my friends/co-workers/relatives for their choices.

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  • q`Tzal April 27, 2015 at 10:47 am

    But… But…
    We’ve built the entire American environmental movement on the principal of shaming people and organizations until they bury their heads in the sand and pretend science and reality aren’t real; stubbornly refusing to listen to anything we say because we have been Liberally applying moral shame for several decades.

    Are you saying we should stop?
    That we might be somewhat to blame for planting the seeds of today’s invasive vine of vitriol?

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    • soren April 27, 2015 at 11:48 am

      If I warn someone of a hazard am I shaming them? I don’t think environmentalism is meant to evoke shame — it’s meant to evoke concern and possibly even alarm.

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      • q`Tzal April 27, 2015 at 8:15 pm

        Socially the environmental movement has set up a blame paradigm for those Not Green whereby the only choices that are “valid” are the two extremes.
        () admit you’ve been as complicit in the destruction of the planet as a soldier killing children with their bare hands. Also you will be poor as you Must divest all your dirty investments.
        () pretend the problem doesn’t exist. This has the most direct advantage of the person never feeling guilty allowing them to continue believing themselves to be paragons of virtue. The continuing be rich thing is actually a second place consideration.

        The mental and emotional anguish of admitting guilt is THE stumbling block set both by the environmental movement and car shamers.

        By making any proposition a Fundamentalist philosophy you are directly responsible for creating your opposition and forcing them to be as vehemently and irrationality opposed to you as you are to them. This makes it impossible for any normal person in the middle (with a life outside your passionate philosophy) to do anything other than be branded as an earth killing infedel.

        Your passion and excitement scares people who don’t understand it and serves only to further entrench your opponents.

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    • Gary April 27, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      Fair point, but I’ll quibble on the details. Once we had an environmental movement that shamed government into taking action by instituting an effective regulatory system. Then, those people and organizations decided to buy off that government and prevent further fixes to new and additional environmental problems. Now, we’ve resorted to shaming those doing the damage, because we don’t have the spine to regulate them.

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      • gutterbunnybikes April 27, 2015 at 12:54 pm

        If anything the environmental movement (at least 20 years ago) was set up as failure, because it was largely based on shaming. A large part of why I stopped working in the movement in the 90’s was I was getting a lot of flack for cutting my hair and wearing normal clothes in efforts to not alienate the “regular” people. I was called a sell out, nark, Freddie what ever.

        The message was so much you “have to” and you “must” with little to no reasoning behind it. It was – and still is too diverse of a group, and most factions really lack a good elevator pitch.

        Surprising to hear I’m sure, I use to get blank stares at meeting and gatherings with the Sierra Club, and EarthFirst! etc. everytime I suggested to stop saying “Save the Earth” and replace it with “Save the Humans”.

        My reasoning of course was that the Earth doesn’t care if humans are on it or not, and that the only ones on the planet that do care, well- were the humans, and perhaps a few species of animals and plants that wouldn’t survive without us, but they don’t vote or march. And in the case of corn, largely the argument fell on deaf ears (couldn’t resist I apologize).

        The message of saving the earth, doesn’t work and didn’t work. And much like getting people to ride bicycles, you need to make the reasons for those not riding match the needs of that person, and there is no cure all one plan of attack that will convince everyone.

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  • Electric Mayhem April 27, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Well said. Starting the conversation with an attitude of respect is more likely to get people to listen. If you think about the people walking around in Pioneer Courthouse Square with signs emblzened with “SINNERS!” you understand how not to start a conversation.

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  • Anne Hawley April 27, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I’m probably a little guilty of car shaming in my heart. Mostly, though, I’m just smug, as SilkySlim said above. Easy parking, daily exercise, low expenses, and kind of a pass on the Sustainability Guilt-o-Meter.

    But hey! Remember offspring-shaming? How many people piled on Car Free Emily for having too many kids?

    We’re Americans. We virtually all have enormous carbon footprints by social design, and virtually all of us could do better. Not a lot of room for throwing stones.

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  • John Thomas April 27, 2015 at 10:57 am

    How is this even a valid topic for this site? Nice to see bikeportland go the Joseph Rose route for clickbaitingly bad inanity. Maybe you should cross post to KATU to get the page views up even higher. I’m sure the folks in Clark County with nothing to do during the day would be happy to oblige.

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    • q`Tzal April 27, 2015 at 11:43 am

      It is a valid topic for this site because the “car hating” morality slamming against EVERYONE that ever touches a car is blatantly harmful to the greater effort to get that majority to not hate people on bicycles unilaterally.

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    • Gary April 27, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      How is this not a valid topic for this site? You’ve stated it as if your conclusion is a given, care to elaborate? I think it’s completely valid.

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) April 27, 2015 at 12:53 pm

        John, if it helps you think about the ways that we think this is a valid (and interesting) topic, Taz first pitched this subject to me as an answer to the question “should it be socially acceptable to drive to a Pedalpalooza ride”? or something like that. Though that exact situation isn’t mentioned in the final piece above, I think it’s a good summary of the relevant subject she’s trying to get at here.

        Also want to say that for me personally, the section in which Taz confesses to “lording” her habits over her family members struck home. I do that more than I like with my sister and though she’s a good sport about it, it definitely hasn’t helped her appreciate the joys of biking and walking. This will hopefully help me approach our differences better.

        Anyway, I liked this post too.

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        • soren April 27, 2015 at 3:04 pm

          “should it be socially acceptable to drive to a Pedalpalooza ride”

          This is the only obvious example of shaming that I could think of. IMO, it also makes no sense since encouraging people who normally drive to join a Pedalpalooza ride would seem to be bike advocacy in its purest sense.

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    • paikiala April 27, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      Breathe, people. John T is clearly the person this article was meant for. No one else would take such offence. (BTW, offence is a always taken, never given).

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    • Todd Hudson April 27, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      The title “Subversiveness Columnist” is as equally inane.

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      • q`Tzal April 27, 2015 at 7:51 pm

        And soooo passé.
        I was subversive before it was cool and we didn’t use electronic networks run by the establishment. We photocopied our zine and stapled it everywhere without permission.

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  • Granpa April 27, 2015 at 10:57 am

    I have a PU truck and rather than calculate miles per gallon, I am more of a gallons per month user. the truck sits unused for much of the time. As a homeowner the truck works. Also I am a motorcyclist. Oregon is too beautiful not to explore. I value the experience of that exploration so much that I would gladly pay more for it in the form of a gas tax. That said, the daily commute is by bike.

    The notion of car shaming is amusing. I could easily see a driver dismissing the high minded scolding by a bicyclist as the rant of a zealot. Shaming may work for some, but a proven way to influence people is through their pocket books. Increase the cost of fuel to change behavior.

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    • Brendan April 27, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Little side note here. That’s two people who are bike-minded that own pickup trucks for occasional use. I don’t own one and when I need one it’s a huge pain. I feel like a pick-up truck sharing program would do well. Zip car has a few, but not enough. And U-Haul is just awful. Maybe one of the peer-to-peer car rental sites has some?

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) April 27, 2015 at 1:00 pm

        Yep, there are a couple shared on Getaround in inner E: 9-10/hour, 72-80/day.

        What’s awful about U-haul? Seems like they’re often cheapest for in-town day jobs.

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    • barb April 27, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      rise in fuel prices changes behavior momentarily…then people get used to it and adjust. Gas at nearly $5/gallon meant a momentary bump in biking and transit. People are very compelled by the freedom of choice and privacy and comfort of a private vehicle.

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  • Jim April 27, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Good article. I wonder what a lot of holier than thou cyclists will do when they’re past 50? I’m reasonably fit, but age takes it toll in ways exercise and conditioning will not fix. Skeletal problems like arthritis, joint issues, bad backs, etc. There are a myriad of things that can happen to the body that will absolutely preclude them from riding any kind of bike, or if you’re lucky, drop you into the recreational riding zone, like me.

    So then what? Electric cars? They’re a toxic nightmare of their own.

    As far as a cyclists carbon foot print, we still have one. Creating, and shipping a finished bicycle to you local shop creates a carbon foot print that’s all ours. Think of where many bikes or components are made, in countries that have next to no pollution or fair labor laws. We’re a part of that.

    So the holier than thou attitude needs to go. No ones hands are clean.

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    • soren April 27, 2015 at 11:42 am

      “No ones hands are clean.”

      The goal is to reduce GHG emissions, not eliminate them, so the fact that no one’s hands are clean is irrelevant. (The perfect is the enemy of the good.)

      “Electric cars? They’re a toxic nightmare of their own.”

      Lithium ion electric cars are not particularly toxic. In fact, they are less toxic than the lead-acid batteries used by conventional internal combustion vehicles.

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      • Jim April 27, 2015 at 11:46 am

        I see, it’s irrelevant to you. And any kind of battery is toxic. To make, to recycle, and extremely expensive to replace.

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      • Buzz April 27, 2015 at 12:12 pm

        Electric cars are not emission-free or even necessarily more environmentally friendly than their gasoline powered cousins; they run on whatever your local electrical company uses to generate electricity, whether it is coal, natural gas, nuclear power, bird-killing wind power, rare earth element-intensive bird and tortoise-killing solar power or salmon-killing hydropower.

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        • soren April 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm

          An electric car charged with PGEs green source plan contributes very little to GHG production in aggregate. (I see electric vehicles as a key driver of our ongoing switch to renewable electricity.)

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          • PorterStout April 27, 2015 at 1:29 pm

            Hear hear! Electric cars can run on 100% renewable-sourced electricity, and that doesn’t include “salmon-killing hydropower.” Mine does as does the rest of our house, and at not that much higher cost, and still way cheaper than gasoline. And it’s a bit disingenuous pointing a finger at Li-ion batteries as a toxic disaster when these same posters probably used one in posting their messages. The only difference between the one in my car and the one in your hand, and on your desk, and on your nightstand, etc., is size. Let’s not go overboard here either, my car’s battery capacity amounts to between 300-400 laptop batteries.

            I feel like I have to give this explanation at least as often as, yes, actually I do pay a lot of road taxes even though I’m riding a bike.

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            • Eric April 28, 2015 at 9:18 am

              Or 10 electric bikes instead of 1 electric car?

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      • Pete April 27, 2015 at 8:59 pm

        Whose goal is to reduce GHG emissions, exactly? Maybe that’s a goal in your value system, but not exactly the primary driver of many people who ride bicycles, even for just transport.

        You do realize how many servers it takes to post a message on the Internet, and how many other servers are informed of the page refresh as an opportunity to serve new ads, yes? I’ve got news for you, they’re not all powered by wind and sunshine and hydro-power dams (that kill salmon). The predominant source of electricity in this country is still coal, soon to be overtaken by natural gas. Posting comments to BP has a GHG footprint all its own.

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        • 9watts April 27, 2015 at 9:20 pm

          “Whose goal is to reduce GHG emissions, exactly? Maybe that’s a goal in your value system, but not exactly the primary driver of many people who ride bicycles, even for just transport.”

          People can and do disagree with all kinds of mandates, goals, requirements. But that diversity doesn’t make them any less valid or urgent. GHG emissions requirements are raining down on us from all directions. Most of the requirements are not yet formulated; we’ve barely begun to come to terms with this issue.

          Take earthquakes. We who live along the Cascadia Subduction Zone know that we should take precautions, bolt our bookshelves to the walls, put our shoes under our beds, store water and food somewhere nearby, etc. because we’re due for another edition of the Big One. Now, as you say, very few of us have acted on those urgings or adjusted our lives to this fact, but that low level of commitment has no effect on the probability that we’ll experience the earthquake. Same for GHG emissions. The only difference is that this problem is global and the probabilities of doom are likely higher/the effects may be felt sooner.

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          • Pete April 28, 2015 at 9:07 am

            My point:
            “The fact that no one’s hands are clean is irrelevant” is not true; all tradeoffs have their own footprint associated with them, and an electric car might be a fantastic option to shift pollution away from city centers for people who drive a lot, but doesn’t come without its own footprint (just like some of the carbon bicycles from Taiwan that I ride, that I’ve been ‘shamed’ for on this site before).

            For my lifestyle, an electric car would have a higher footprint than my fuel-efficient Honda for several reasons:
            1. My car was built before electric cars were available and the (environmental) cost to replace it would not be reclaimed over the life of the car – given how I drive it and how little I drive it.
            2. 100% renewable options are not available where I live, and what little there are get lost in transmission inefficiencies due to the distance from the source.
            3. CA pollution standards on this car are the strictest in the world. Its hydrocarbon output is likely much lower than that of the coal-fired Boardman plant that charges many Portland electric cars.
            4. Range on electric cars is useless to me for the distances I drive.
            5. I work from home when not traveling globally for business, and they don’t make electric long-haul jets just yet.

            As for your earthquake analogy, yes, you do have some mandates for seismic that are built into your homebuilders’ regulations, but I’m willing to bet 99% of the readers on here have taken virtually no steps to fit their housing for earthquakes as it’s not required. If you guys get hit with a 5.0 tomorrow, that would change quickly – after the fact. Another analogy is plastic bags. While Portland now embraces using reusable bags and banning those evil GHG-producing plastics, back when the ordinance was first passed (and I lived there not here) poll after poll showed that 70+% of Portlanders were against not having the choice (kinda like helmets).

            So while I don’t disagree with the laudable goal of reducing impact, it’s not why I ride a bike, and again, I’m betting not why most people do.

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            • 9watts April 28, 2015 at 9:52 am

              “So while I don’t disagree with the laudable goal of reducing impact, it’s not why I ride a bike, and again, I’m betting not why most people do.”

              We’re confusing two separate things here, Pete.
              (1) whether or to what extent people choose to ride a bike out of climate motivations, and
              (2) whether we are on the hook to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels.

              I was focusing on (2), and noted that it is not affected by adherence to (1).

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            • gutterbunnybikes April 28, 2015 at 10:48 am

              Your first point is a very valid one in the course of the environmental impact of EV’s. I’ve often wondered what the cradle to grave difference is between keeping older cars going that isn’t up to EPA emission standards to the buying and the assumed life a modern EV.

              But there are so many unknowns, replacement part availability for older cars, how technology changes to EVs might make today’s obsolete faster than standard mechanical technology, electric grid fuel supply, the list goes on forever.

              I often think that considering the Model T gets around 20 mph, if automobile tech peeked then as far as cradle to grave environmental impacts of the automobile go.

              They were simple machines with huge stocks of replacement parts and not so complicated that the home user couldn’t fix them at home with some basic hand tools and a free afternoon. Especially when you consider that the raw materials were pretty much locally sourced in and around the Great Lakes and east coast which lessens the supply side impact environmentally considering most the freight was trains and ships.

              And we had to live with our own manufacturing filth then, unlike today where we are more than happy to let Asia take the brunt of it for us now.

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        • soren April 28, 2015 at 10:48 am

          “Maybe that’s a goal in your value system, ”

          I never claimed that “my value system” is a primary driver for anything or anyone. I was responding to another commenter who commented on GHG production and electric cars. I happen to be interested in both topics so I responded.

          “but not exactly the primary driver of many people who ride bicycles, even for just transport.”

          Where is this coming from? I don’t believe this and I never state this.

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      • 9watts April 27, 2015 at 9:06 pm

        “The goal is to reduce GHG emissions, not eliminate them”

        Up until about six years ago you may have been correct. Today this statement is no longer accurate. The realization that we must leave the remaining fossil fuels in the ground changes everything. Energy efficiency, long the favored mantra of the left, has very little to offer now that the objective has shifted.

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        • soren April 28, 2015 at 7:21 am

          Up to a third of GHG emissions are associated with agriculture.

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        • PorterStout April 28, 2015 at 12:48 pm

          “Energy efficiency, …has very little to offer now that the objective has shifted.”

          I beg to differ! E.g., it would be senseless to put PV on a house that was still using 100 W incandescent lamps. Get the loads down first, then move to renewable sources. Efficiency is the enabler for ultimately going off-grid. Efficiency has a huge role in eliminating carbon emissions.

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          • 9watts April 28, 2015 at 1:27 pm

            “Get the loads down first, then move to renewable sources. Efficiency is the enabler for ultimately going off-grid. Efficiency has a huge role in eliminating carbon emissions.”

            We’re drifting a bit here, but since you begged to differ…

            The reduce demand; then shift to renewables mantra has been around for forty years. Our demand for fossil fuels in the US and worldwide is higher than ever (small dips for recessions notwithstanding).

            Efficiency has not eliminated any carbon emissions. It may have played a role in reducing the RATE at which they go up, but that is something that as I said above has very little bearing on our current situation in which the objective is not to stretch out what we have left over more decades or centuries but to leave it in the ground. Efficiency as a guiding principle is out of phase with that, is not relevant. What we need are methods, strategies, case studies of doing without, of what in some circles is called fuel substitution.

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          • soren April 28, 2015 at 1:30 pm

            The savings via efficient and conservation are immense and largely untapped. For example, my ARM-based laptop uses 1000% less energy than the laptop I owned 10 years ago.

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            • 9watts April 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm

              Yes of course, but as a society (which is the relevant parameter here) our fossil fuel combustion has not declined alongside those object-level transformations. Has you use of electricity of gasoline of natural gas of oil declined by 1000%? I doubt it.

              Energy efficiency is a perniciously enticing framework for making sense of this predicament we’re in, but it has not delivered the goods.

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              • Black Butte Porter April 28, 2015 at 7:51 pm

                Fossil fuel use has not declined because we are driving MANY more miles in the USA than in the past. Total fossil fuel use is fairly flat because of efficiency.

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              • 9watts April 28, 2015 at 7:59 pm

                We can quibble about the slope of all the lines and the time frames over which we’re measuring this or that fuel, but at the end of the day the promise of serious reductions remains unfulfilled. And the strategies we’ve relied on to get where we are today do not provide guidance for how to get there from here.

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      In part that is large reason why every bicycle (but one an early 80’s Peugeot) in my barn is nearly as old as I am the rest are all early 70’s or older.

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    • Eric April 27, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Electric bikes. Tadpole trikes. Velomobiles. Ride the bus.

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    • Trikeguy April 27, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      Well, if it’s back/neck/wrist pains – they get ‘bent 🙂

      That said, when, during discussion the life choices I’ve made and my reasoning for them come up I will frequently hear “well, that wouldn’t work for me because of x,y and z” and I say “sure, I know my lifestyle isn’t for everyone” and leave it at that.

      Honestly, as low as my footprint is, someone can always beat it.

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    • Anne Hawley April 27, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      I’ll be 60 this year and I’m holier than nobody, but I did just get back from Fred’s with a bag of potting soil and some planter on the maiden voyage of my brand new trailer. The implication that a) 50 equals old for everyone, and b) that age is a universal barrier to active transportation is simply counterproductive. And the hidden implication that driving remains appropriate as we age is also worth examining. Many of us will continue to bike for many years. Maybe not as fast or as far, maybe not even as often, as when we were younger, but we’ll be able to choose two wheels at least some of the time.

      I feel strongly that the age=disability narrative needs to fade away. Especially since, as mentioned, I’m about to embark on my 7th decade.

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    • Tom Hardy May 30, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      I am over 70 and am down to 150 miles a week. Yes age does take a toll.
      Car shaming should be to pass the info to the insurance company and DMV. serious car shaming should be at the point of injury of near impact. This would leave a visible and repairable permanent mark on the vehicle.

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  • Lester Burnham April 27, 2015 at 11:25 am

    You could go on and on. How much of your bike comes from Asia…how much pollution was created making the parts and shipping it all here? Or that MacBook and iPhone that the all cool people must have? Shame all you want, fingers can always be pointed right back at you.

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    • Jim April 27, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Which I stated right at the end of my comment. No ones hands are clean.

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      • The Odd Duck April 28, 2015 at 12:33 am

        One of are biggest problem is humans tend to bread like rats and we need to get a handle on this first.

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        • El Biciclero April 28, 2015 at 11:29 am

          Ah, there’s the offspring-shaming: people with children are rats now?

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  • soren April 27, 2015 at 11:28 am

    I’ve never seen nor experienced car-shaming even though I drive. If anything, I have the opposite problem when people learn that I bike commute: the unwanted “I wish I could drive less” apologia.

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    • davemess April 27, 2015 at 11:52 am

      Have you read this site?

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      • soren April 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm

        Can you provide some examples? In fact, it would be nice if Ms. Loomans could also provide some examples. As I said before, I’ve personally never been “car-shamed” or seen someone “car-shamed”. Probably the closest thing I’ve seen is ride organizers urge participants to not drive (something that makes no sense for bike advocacy, BTW).

        PS: Hoping that Portland lives up to its climate action plan is not shaming. Nor is hoping for slower traffic speeds and/or road safety improvements.

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        • davemess April 27, 2015 at 1:13 pm

          In the last few weeks there have been multiple discussions on this site about cars offering not practical purpose to society and cars being inherently designed to kill people.
          If that’s not car shaming I don’t know what is.

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          • George H. April 27, 2015 at 2:12 pm

            In the last few weeks? You mean in the last several years. I constantly have to remind myself that the militant anti-car gospel and overall divisiveness reflected in the comments section here is not representative of the entire bike community in Portland.

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            • davemess April 27, 2015 at 4:50 pm

              I agree with you completely, but it is still quite prevalent in the comments on this site.

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          • soren April 27, 2015 at 2:58 pm

            “cars offering not practical purpose to society”
            “cars being inherently designed to kill people.”

            the point would have been better made without “war on cars” exaggeration.

            differences of opinion on traffic safety and transportation policy are not attempts to shame. my household has two cars and i certainly do not view those who urge low-occupancy vehicle disincentives as “shamers”. perhaps an angry response to an alternative/minority point of view is sometimes perceived as “being shamed”.

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            • 9watts April 28, 2015 at 1:59 pm

              “differences of opinion on traffic safety and transportation policy are not attempts to shame.”

              Precisely. This is getting pretty muddled. Identifying the car-as-menace on a blog is not the same thing as deriding my uncle’s over-reliance on his car to his face. Cars *are* a menace; I would think it hard to argue that this is not so. But what anyone does with that fact is where it gets interesting.

              (a) shout it from the rooftops = piss lots of people off
              (b) discuss it on blogs = deepen one’s understanding
              (c) avoid the subject = learn nothing

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  • El Biciclero April 27, 2015 at 11:29 am

    One kind of shaming I would have no trouble with is bad-driving shaming. If somebody is going to use their car in an immediately dangerous way around me, they’re going to get any shame I can manage to convey in the moment. It almost worked with drunk driving, but that seems to be making a comeback.

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  • Kyle April 27, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I would love to see a similar article to this one in local media, but framed from the opposite perspective. “We need to talk about bike hating.”

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  • davemess April 27, 2015 at 11:51 am

    I’m always a little fascinated by the “shaming” aspect. I know sometimes I feel superior to someone because I biked somewhere, or I rib a friend or coworker about how they could have biked. But do people that feel pretty hardcore about this, just have strong animosity against their friends, coworkers, and family that don’t subsist by bike riding?
    To me that is the easiest way to get out of the “shaming” mindset. Just look at your parents or your sibling. Do you dislike them because they don’t exclusively bike to get around?

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  • El Biciclero April 27, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    “…beginners who don’t own all of the bells and whistles of cycling…”

    Bells: cool
    Whistles: illegal

    …just so any beginners aren’t misled.

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    • paikiala April 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      bells and whistles pl n
      1. additional features or accessories which are nonessential but very attractive: my car has all the latest bells and whistles.
      2. (Banking & Finance) additions, such as options or warranties, made to a financial product to increase its market appeal

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      • El Biciclero April 28, 2015 at 10:14 am

        Yeah, but since lots of bikes have literal bells, and there’s that Portlandia sketch with the “bicycle rights!” character, who has a literal whistle, it seemed that there were two literal things that mapped neatly onto the “bells and whistles” idiom, creating an opportunity to inject a little bit of dry humor by putting forth an unexpected analytical conclusion noting the legality of bells on a literal bike, but not literal whistles, even on a figurative bike, but since nobody really rides a figurative, idiomatic bike…never mind….

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  • Eric April 27, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I feel sorry for people who believe they have to drive 20 miles to daycare or a spa appointment. Yes, you’re expected to burn 2-3 gallons of gasoline per day because everyone else does it, but that is just peer pressure. Electric cars don’t change the driver+cargo/vehicle weight distribution and congestion. Electric bikes eliminate most excuses and the majority of the weight is alive or cargo, which is a much more efficient use of energy. (Maybe we should call it “Living Transportation” instead of “Active Transportation”.)

    Wasteful and unsustainable lifestyles may not deserve shame, but we really must stop subsidizing such nonsense. Carbon tax, fuel tax, congestion charge, parking fees, … “If it costs too much, maybe you’re doing it wrong.” — is that shaming?

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  • Champs April 27, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    I’ve never had so much as a driver’s license. This even factored into the breakup of my marriage, which led to craigslist and a driver who would deliver me and a U-Haul to Portland.

    Driving is not an ethical or religious matter to me. Tim was no shabbos goy, he is a like minded person who just happened to own a house in the ‘burbs and had a mountain bike that doesn’t get (way out) to the trails by itself. My lifestyle preference is to do all I can with two feet. His is to travel on the cheap. Differences mattered as much as similarities in our relationship.

    But so it goes with almost any clique. There are those who judge by their food fetishes, sexual orientation, green bonafides, race, etc., and holier-than-thou combinations thereof. Some of these are innate, but being overbearing is always a choice.

    Sometimes that choice is correct. Personally, I love riding pavement, but I hate racers because they’re jockish and competitive. You can’t blame them for that. This is what racing is about, after all.

    With biking, not so much. I don’t kid myself into thinking the world would be a whole lot better if every private car were idled and crushed. We’d still have lots of vehicles running farms and ferrying people/goods to and fro. So help me if we put all of those drivers on bikes. That would be enough for me to lease a Hyundai.

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  • kittens April 27, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    slow news day?

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  • Dan April 27, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    I frequently find myself ‘phone shaming’ people when I see them talking on the phone in the car.

    And last week I asked the passenger in a Range Rover to shut off the engine, after it had been idling in front of my house for 10 minutes (the driver returned another 10 minutes later). Is that ‘gratuitous fuel burn shaming’?

    It came back to bite me on Sunday though, when a car ‘bike shamed’ me for being on their road. I was riding on the shoulder of Helvetia Road, and a driver laid on his horn as he passed me, because I had the nerve to make him move to the left a couple of inches. Shame on you, silly bike person! Go find a bike path!

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    • Anne Hawley April 27, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Texting while idling seems to be epidemic! I had to ask someone to stop it the other day in front of my house, and I see it way too often. What is it about starting your engine before taking out your phone? It’s not as lf today’s cars need to warm up.

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  • Todd Hudson April 27, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    While getting older, I think I might have contracted Self-Righteous Outrage Disfunction (SROD), and am losing the ability to shame people who don’t emulate my ideals. For example, I’ve lost the desire to reproach motorists who dare to drive to work. I no longer tell high-paid IT transplants to check their privilege, and gentrification doesn’t make me as enraged as it used to. I should talk to my doctor about this.

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  • Kristen April 27, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    It happens all the time in the comments section with people calling drivers cagers and making otherwise unflattering and stereotypical comments about people driving cars.

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    • Kristen April 27, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      Oops, this was meant to be a response to Soren at April 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm

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    • Granpa April 27, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      I think the “cager” title is given in pity rather than derision. People locked in a moving can while cyclists and motorcyclists travel as participants in the landscapes, reveling in the experience like a dog with his head out the car window.

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      • canuck April 27, 2015 at 2:35 pm

        Please…..with that kind of twisted logic you should be working for Cirque de Soleil.

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    • soren April 27, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      If unflattering stereotypes are “shaming” then I shame corporations, political organizations, and holders of various beliefs on a routine basis. When I think of shaming I think of “humiliation” or “mortification” rather than irreverent stereotypes or unflattering terms. But if this point of this piece is that we should not use unflattering language or stereotype others…well I agree…at least in theory.

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  • barb April 27, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    “Didn’t encounter this moral snobbery until I moved to Portland”….that’s the bigger topic here. We Portlanders excel at shaming each other. People who don’t recycle, people who smoke, people who don’t bring their own bags. I give the stink eye to people in big SUVs or people who idle, Electric vehicles shame me, and when I’m on my bike I like to show off to whoever is not biking. There is a lot of sanctimonious holier than thou around here and I am just as guilty of it as anyone. I will try to ponder my own attitudes towards others. My Dutch relatives would laugh at this discussion. “To each his own, one does what one can” is probably the better attitude to take.

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    • davemess April 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      Interesting, I’ve actually found this to be one of the more tolerant and accepting cities to smokers (which are also more prevalent here than other places I have lived).

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      • pat lowell April 28, 2015 at 8:27 am

        Me too!!! I was shocked at how many smokers there are here, and I lived in freakin’ Texas for years.

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  • slow malenky lizard April 27, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    “There are a million reasons why people choose to drive and all of them are legitimate. Yes, all of them.” What a load of nonsense

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  • Eric April 27, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    You and I would get along great.

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  • Joe April 27, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    nope I don’t own a oregon drivers lic.. yup ppl think I’m crazy.. lol

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    • invisiblebikes April 27, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      No one “owns an Oregon Drivers license” it’s a long term rental agreement and can be revoked for millions of reasons… unfortunately all of those reasons are hollow, left to be managed by lazy, over paid, under skilled egomaniacs… or the DMV

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      • J_R April 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

        I wish it were true that it could be revoked for millions of reasons. Multiple DUIIs don’t even seem to result in permanent revocation. As if that would do any good.

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      • Dan April 27, 2015 at 5:47 pm

        I renewed my license at the DMV last Thursday. Overheard this conversation (not word for word)….

        DMV lady: Oh, your license has been suspended for a LONG time.
        Driver lady: It is? An officer pulled me over a while back, but he let me go.
        DMV lady: Yes, it says here he gave you a ticket for having a suspended license.
        Driver lady: That’s weird, why did he let me go?
        DMV lady: Oh, that happens all the time.
        Driver lady: What do I need to do about it?
        DMV lady: You need to pay this fee.
        Driver lady: I can’t afford it.
        DMV lady: Oh, well, I wouldn’t worry about it. I mean, your license is ALREADY suspended, so it can’t be suspended again.
        Driver lady: Okay, thanks, etc.

        Driver lady leaves DMV and drives off.

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        • q`Tzal April 27, 2015 at 7:55 pm

          Now THAT’S comedy!
          Kinda reminds me of a Monty Python skit.

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  • Dan April 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I think some people should be ashamed not BECAUSE they drive, but because of the WAY they drive. I have nothing against considerate drivers.

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  • rachel b April 27, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Cars were great when hardly anybody had them. Driving was fun when it was just you and a handful of others on the road. Typical for humans, not a lot of looking before leaping on the whole auto-centric society deal.

    I used to enjoy the act of driving (manual, not automatic!) a lot. But I do everything within my power to avoid it now–esp. in Portland. In fact, the miserable state of Portland’s traffic was the final goad for my husband and I to get rid of our ancient Honda Civic HX and go entirely w/ legs (walking and biking) and TriMet and the occasional rental. It’s been nearly two years and we haven’t missed our car at all. Lucky for us to be so conveniently situated that I can say that, I know.

    I don’t think people are evil for driving cars. But I can’t fathom why anyone who lives close to or in urban centers wants to nowadays. It’s misery. I work for a civil engineering firm that does a lot of roads work and one of the frequent topics of conversation is how we’re going to squeeze a bajillion (I exaggerate. I hope.) more people in here in relatively short order, with everyone bringing their cars along. It’s just not doable. And that’s not even factoring in our pathetically needy infrastructure.

    The only answer is that we have to get people to stop driving or at least to drive less. I don’t know how to convince drivers of that if they aren’t already seeing the writing on the wall, miserably inching through and around Portland every hour of the day on endless road-ragey commutes. Our air quality grows worse and worse but no one seems to really notice or care. There’s this myth of Clean Green Portland that doesn’t reflect our abysmal air pollution rankings (esp. as regards diesel emissions). Our city is a parking lot with engines running much of the time, now. But people still drive.

    Is that shaming? I have to say, I’ve got nothin’ but shaming for folks who just cruise, no destination, because they like to drive or love their cars, or that’s how they like to listen to music, etc. etc. I think we underestimate how much aimless driving we do. People drive WAY more than they have to or need to. I think that if we had to, we could all manage to get everywhere we needed to go quite well if something like rationing came into play. Some drive on even days, some on odd, i.e. Just that little would make a major difference in traffic and air quality. One of our best and most horrific qualities is our adaptability. We’d do fine.

    We no longer live in an age where it’s viable for everyone in a city like Portland to just get in a car and go, no matter the reason. We shouldn’t even be selling cars that aren’t super fuel efficient. It’s a luxury we no longer have the room for, or the air for, given our numbers now. You should have a very good reason indeed to drive nowadays.

    Of course, if you car-shame and bike everywhere and then you fly, well…. 😉

    Thanks for the column, Taz Loomans.

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    • paikiala April 27, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      ‘miserable state of Portland’s traffic’????
      Portland traffic is easy. Try Seattle, SFO, LA, Atlanta.

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      • rachel b April 27, 2015 at 6:13 pm

        I see this sentiment oft repeated. If I try them and agree those places have bad traffic, will you concede it can also be bad here? Because it is. You know, we’re nationally recognized for having one of the worst traffic situations/commutes now. And even if we weren’t–what’s the point? Happy it’s better for you than wherever you came from but–again–it had deteriorated enough for me and mine that we got rid of the car. And we did live near and drive in NYC for four years of our lives, so we know traffic. A dream compared to Portland now, in my humble opinion.

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        • paikiala April 28, 2015 at 11:13 am

          Some of the worst traffic??? Provide a citation that doesn’t include the Texas Transportation Institute. VTPI had debunked their work.

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          • rachel b April 28, 2015 at 11:44 am

            Please forgive me for just pointing you (and anyone else) to Google rather than pulling up links. Again–what’s your point? If it’s less bad than, say, Seattle, does that make it good? Does that change the fact that it’s worsening and will worsen yet more as more and more people pile into Portland? I’m not sure why you’re focusing on this point. It’s bad enough, it’s bad, it’s getting worse. It was bad enough for us to ditch our car. We didn’t do that because of some feeling–we did it because we discovered how much more difficult and time-consuming and flat out aggravating it was to drive from point A to point B than it was even a few years ago. More people = more cars = more traffic.

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    • davemess April 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      “But I can’t fathom why anyone who lives close to or in urban centers wants to nowadays.”

      Traveling anywhere outside of the city (or even just on the other side of the city)

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      • rachel b April 27, 2015 at 6:06 pm

        But…IS it convenient to drive in Portland anymore? We didn’t think so, hence the car purge. Kids, I get–but when you live in the city or close-in, there are alternatives (good mass transit, biking, walking). When you’re needing to travel distances, it’s more of a challenge but still doable and–in my opinion–far more pleasant than driving here anymore. I have to haul gear fairly regularly and for that I usually rent a zipcar or take a cab. I can haul a surprising amount of gear in a rent-a-Prius. Now we have the Uber option too, apparently–I have a dumb phone and haven’t availed myself of it, yet. I stand by my puzzlement, davemess–driving here, in my opinion, is more trouble than it’s worth.

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        • Mindful Cyclist April 28, 2015 at 1:03 pm

          Traffic is pretty bad here at rush hour times. But, after that, I would say it is pretty easy for the most part. I have a sister that lives in Tigard that I go and visit. There is no way I can go down there and visit her and my niece and nephew without riding a bike way out of my way or dealing with climbing a lot of hills. I have a good friend in Vancouver I go visit and watch Timbers and Blazers games with that I could bike to, but just easier to get in the car on a Saturday evening.

          I am like you. I hate the traffic and it is what really, more than anything else, got me back on my bike. It is really just not that bad, though, during non-peak times here.

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          • rachel b April 28, 2015 at 2:23 pm

            “Pretty easy” for how long? I disagree, by the way. Portland morphs, throbs and grows seemingly by the minute, these days. But the bigger question is, do we just relax in that and knock on wood and think “glad I’m not driving in L.A!” That’s setting the bar pretty low. I don’t want to be the proverbial frog in a pot.

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            • rachel b April 28, 2015 at 2:28 pm

              …and the “it’s SO much better than (where I came from)…” thing from many newcomers scares the living daylights out of me. What?! How much worse does it have to get before they’ll consider it worth worrying about? Not reassuring in the least.

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            • davemess April 28, 2015 at 7:35 pm

              Some Portland arterials have actually seen a decrease in traffic counts over the last decade. Look at the numbers for Barbur for example.

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            • Mindful Cyclist April 28, 2015 at 8:36 pm

              My point is this: I just looked at google maps and if I were to hop in my car right now, it projects driving to my sister’s place in Tigard from my place near 60th and E Burnside would take 21 minutes. Taking tri-met, the quickest trip is about 85 minutes. I ride pretty fast and think I can beat the 90 minute suggestion from google about biking there.

              So in response to your response when Davemess stated it was about convenience, that was my point. I was pointing out at non-peak hours (like right now as I post this), traffic is not a huge hassle.

              And, “pretty easy for how long?” I have no clue. But, for right now, it is still “pretty easy.”

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              • rachel b April 29, 2015 at 12:15 pm

                Hi Mindful–I understand what you’re saying. Please bear with me (and forgive my earnestness!). My post was not meant to be an indictment against using a car in the way you’re describing, given current conditions. As I mentioned–for now, when I have long or transit-awkward trips or trips that require hauling stuff (usually off hours) I too resort to driving–renting a car or getting a cab. I just have an admittedly allergic reaction over hearing “it’s pretty good now,” especially with all the extreme and rapid change I’ve witnessed in Portland.

                Some of us who’ve grown up here and lived here all our lives are more than a little shell-shocked. I recognize that many have come here to escape areas that are (gud forbid) even more congested and teeming with humanity, so it can look “pretty good” to them–though the change has seemed overwhelmingly profound and distressing to someone like me. A red flag goes up whenever I hear “it’s pretty good” because that’s what I said six short years ago, and look what happened in the interim. I never imagined such rapid change, and I was already braced for rapid change. I watched Woodstock Blvd. go from a trickle to a parking lot in six short months. Ditto SE 26th, south of Holgate. I watched formerly two-car navigable neighborhood streets—in weeks!—turn into one-car tunnels. It was mind-blowing.

                So I do worry whenever I hear Portland traffic described as “pretty good” because it seems (and this doesn’t reflect intention, I know) to give short shrift to the fact that it’s gotten markedly worse, exponentially, over the years, and logic and projections tell us it will continue to do so. The only variable as I see it is that it can go even faster, this growth, given the drought in the SW and the likely influx of climate refugees the state hasn’t entirely factored into their projections.

                I didn’t mean to direct my concern over all this to you personally. I realize you were just, plain and simple, saying why you need a car, given our current, not-ideal city set-up. It’s your bad luck that it triggered my worrywartedness. As I mentioned–for now, when I have long or transit-awkward trips or trips that require hauling stuff (usually off hours) I too resort to driving (rent a car) or getting a cab.

                I just want us now, before things get any worse, to at least start thinking of it as dire enough to do something about it. I fear that if enough people think it’s “pretty good” now, nothing will change and we’ll just careen by default into increasing traffic hell. Car sharing, carpooling, odd-even driving days, restrictions to car usage in general seem like things we should be implementing and mandating now, along with improving mass transit options and bike/ped facilities. Because we’re going to have to do it at some point—we simply can’t cram another million cars+ onto our roads in the next 20 years. It’s impossible. And I don’t want to wait ‘til we’re more like Seattle and L.A. before thinking it’s no longer pretty good.

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 28, 2015 at 9:00 am

      “One of our best and most horrific qualities is our adaptability”

      Well said.

      This statement is so true on so many levels, regardless of topic or issue.

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  • Chris I April 27, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    It’s all about picking the right tool for the job. 1/2 mile to the park? Use your feet. 3 miles to the grocery store? Ride your bike. Weekend in Seattle? Use Amtrak. Skiing up on Mt. Hood? Drive a car.

    The problem is that way too many people choose the car for all of their trips. If everyone were a bit smarter and more thoughtful, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

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  • Alexis April 27, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    In my experience, car shaming (or more frequently, car “snark”) comes from a place of privilege.

    I am privileged that I can support myself on one full-time job. I am privileged enough to afford to live within a bikeable distance of my job in a neighborhood that encourages biking through infrastructure. I have able-bodied privilege that allows me to ride without pain. I am privileged enough to afford healthcare that keeps me healthy enough to ride and healthy food to give me energy to ride.

    If you share any of these privileges and still feel the need to judge or shame those who, through life experiences you have no knowledge of, feel the need to drive, well, you need to check that privilege.

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    • soren April 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      Being wealthy enough to own and operate a functioning car is also place of privilege.

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      • davemess April 27, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        I don’t think you’re realizing how cheaply you can get a functioning car these days.

        That AAA $9K yearly expense is a farce.

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        • Chris I April 27, 2015 at 6:52 pm

          It’s not a farce; it’s an average. You know how averages work, right?

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          • davemess April 28, 2015 at 1:29 pm

            Insult aside, it’s an “average” (and it’s a calculation, which probably uses averages, and not a poll) of very skewed data points:

            “Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Your actual operating costs may vary.”

            What percentage of the population is buying new vehicles?
            This paper (while very dated) shows that about 70% of car purchases in the 90s were used cars.

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      • Mindful Cyclist April 28, 2015 at 12:55 pm

        Or being wealthy enough to live in a place that is located on a frequent service bus line or not having a 1.5 hour bus ride is also a place of privilege.

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    • Anne Hawley April 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      Completely agree. My list of privileges pretty much matches the one you give here, and I’m keenly aware of what a unicorn-esque sweet spot I occupy. I’m grateful for it, I’ll take credit for a few good choices along the way, but the idea that others should be able to do as I do is not rational.

      Every driver can choose to be more considerate behind the wheel, however.

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    • Dan April 27, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Lots of families live within walking & biking distance of our elementary school, and choose to drive there in droves. We used to drive our son there, a whole HALF MILE, until I finally convinced my wife a couple of years ago that he could just walk to school every day and he would be fine. He walks with his little brother now, and they have not been driven to school since.

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      • Eric April 28, 2015 at 7:50 am

        May is walk/bike to school month. Schools should close the street, our at least try to encourage or mention the possibility of getting out of the box.

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        • Dan April 28, 2015 at 8:23 am

          The Safe Routes to School Coordinator we talked to suggested that instead of a month long challenge we should just do it for a DAY. OMG, like, a whole MONTH where we encourage people to walk or bike to school. The horror.

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      • gutterbunnybikes April 28, 2015 at 9:11 am

        Use to be that kids just walked, biked, bused to school.

        Bus service isn’t available for kids within a mile of the school, charter schools have no bus service at all. Coupled with the current trend in helicopter parenting and the trigger happy protective services, the conditions have been set where there isn’t much in the way of options for getting kids to school other than driving them.

        What is your option as a parent now? Kids are taken away and parents going to trial for letting the kids walk a few blocks from home to the park or the corner store by themselves. Do you take the chance on a daily route where one overly zealous parent, teacher, or passerby decides to call you in?

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        • Eric April 28, 2015 at 9:21 am

          Oregon law requires children under 10 to be attended. It isn’t very specific and probably needs to be rewritten.

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          • gutterbunnybikes April 28, 2015 at 11:08 am

            And that is my point. I was walking to school in 1st grade. Incidentally my parents a week ago sent me a picture from the local paper of me walking home from school in first grade while reading a book (I still remember the book a Roberto Clemente biography).

            Funny that nearly 40 years ago an uncommonly nice early spring day justified a front page picture of a kid reading a book while walking home from school, and that today – that same kid would make the front page when CPS comes and takes him away from his family and prosecutes the parents.

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    • felix April 29, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      You must have gone to Reed eh?

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  • Mark S April 27, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I believe that human overpopulation has been more harmful to our planet than anything else. Fewer people, less need for automobiles, more freeways, sprawling suburbs, cutting down forests, and ultimately, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions & global warming.

    If we can substantially cut the current population, not just decrease the growth rate, eventually everything else will take care of itself.

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    • Oregon Mamacita April 27, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      And how would we cut the current population?

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      • resopmok April 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm

        We can’t cut the _current_ population, and Mark didn’t say to do that either. And, you can’t make the choice for other people, but as with any action, we can make the choice for ourselves. My partner and I have decided that we simply won’t have children. The more people who consciously make that choice will ultimately lead to a lower world population. Leadership by example is always the strongest type.

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      • Mark S April 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

        Wars, plagues, starvation, birth control. Lots of ways to cut the current population. I am doing my part by not producing any children to add to the problem. Consequently, I am able to be retired at age 59 & can spend more time riding my bike.

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        • Oregon Mamacita April 28, 2015 at 10:30 am

          Mark S., I am honestly a bit confused about your position and respectfully request clarification. I doubt you are in favor of wars & starvation as a “way” to “cut the current population.” Do you favor individual choice and availability of birth control, or do you see a need for gov’t to actively discourage child-bearing? And what does “cut the current population” mean?

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    • Granpa April 27, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      That sir, is the crux of the biscuit

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    • Pete April 27, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      I always get a kick out of the ZPG argument. What exactly is overpopulation, anyway? What is the inflection point at which human consumption no longer adds to environmental damage? And what makes the ZPG advocate so sure that it’s human scale that drives this environmental destruction and not human behavior? And what about the damage caused by the existence of the ZPG advocates themselves? If they were all to commit suicide, would the planet suddenly start to heal itself?

      Obviously, the inflection point is somewhere just a little above the current population number, or the ZPG advocate would start to ponder mass genocide. Glad you and I made it in just under the curtain!

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  • Spiffy April 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I shame drivers… not because I want them to bike, but because I want them to stop endangering my life…

    I shame them for running stop signs and talking on their cell phones…

    usually I shame them when I’m a pedestrian, but also when I’m a driver or cyclist…

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  • Jon Wood April 27, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    If you have ever been on the receiving end of car-shaming, you know the difference between it and a civil discussion about carbon footprint goals and choices. Sharing our decisions and encouraging others to be conscious about their choices is more likely to promote positive change.

    Some disorders are invisible. As an older person who has lived a relatively active life, I thought I was exempt from arthritis and extended periods of fatigue. Not so.

    Car-shaming may cause car owning cyclists to censure themselves. Some Portland bike commuters own cars, but clam up when car ownership is being ridiculed. As someone who has been active in social change and alternative culture movements for some time, I can tell you shaming and judging people is not a particularly effective way to promote positive change.

    I applaud people who are consciously car free. Thank you for this article Taz Loomans and BikePortland.

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    • soren April 27, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      “If you have ever been on the receiving end of car-shaming”

      How were you car shamed?

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  • soren April 27, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Thus far, the only specific examples of “car shaming” are:

    1. Ride organizers urging people to not drive.
    2. Commenters on BikePortland pointing out that people driving cars injure and kill people.
    3. Commenters on BikePortland advocating for reduced low occupancy motorvehicle use.

    Meanwhile in PDX:
    *The vast majority of people do not cycle for transportation.
    *Our local politicians are either anti-cycling or afraid to mention cycling in public.
    *98%+ of our transportation funding goes to stuff other than cycling infrastructure.
    *Mainstream media coverage of cycling is uniformly negative.
    *Existing bike transportation infrastructure is neglected.
    *Cycling mode share decreased last year and previously stagnated for many years.
    *No major bike infrastructure projects are in the pipeline.


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    • Pete April 27, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      4. Commenters on BikePortland pointing out that people driving cars injure and kill the environment.

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      • soren April 28, 2015 at 7:26 am

        How do you kill the environment?

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        • Dan April 28, 2015 at 8:27 am

          I don’t know. Maybe ask the polar bears.

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        • Pete April 28, 2015 at 9:08 am

          It starts with the ozone layer, from what I’ve been told.

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        • Eric April 28, 2015 at 8:33 pm

          Drive your car through it.

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      • Tom Hardy May 30, 2015 at 12:36 pm

        The percentage of cycling commuters may have decreased slightly. But has anyone counted the percentage of California and Washington plates on cars running around in greater Portland? Huge percentage.

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    • Taz Loomans April 28, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Examples of car shaming:

      1. Several friends of mine have commented that they do not feel welcome in the biking community because they drive to work or because they live in a car-oriented part of town. And they definitely do no feel welcome to group bike rides if they have to drive part of the way to get there.

      2. A friend of mine doesn’t go to a bikey party if he happens to be in a car and it is inconvenient for him to go home and get his bike. He feels ashamed of showing up in his car in certain circles.

      3. Another friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that people who don’t own cars but who use car sharing and accept rides more than 3 times a month should not be using the term car-free but should use the term car-light. This, to me, is an unproductive and elitist distinction. Apparently, there are different levels of car-free and you aren’t good enough until you reach the very pinnacle, which includes not even accepting rides in other people’s vehicles.

      4. I personally have felt shamed, if not outright, but just by the tone and astonishment when I mention that I go on road trips in a car and use car sharing. I have even felt ashamed to admit that I use the bus instead of biking. Yes, automobile-shaming does exist in some circles and it’s very counterproductive because no matter how much you do, there will always be someone doing it better and admonishing you for not doing “car-free” well enough.

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      • 9watts April 28, 2015 at 3:47 pm

        Those examples are very helpful. Thanks.

        “they definitely do no feel welcome to group bike rides if they have to drive part of the way to get there.”

        But I wonder at what point it is up to the person who is driving to a bike ride to take responsibility for this situation? From my perspective, the underlying challenge here is to wean ourselves from this dependency. This is necessarily going to proceed in fits and starts. I have a hard time imagining this monumental effort coming off without the occasional nudge. They shouldn’t be jeering, of course, but perhaps we need to get better at finding a compassionate tone in which to talk about these issues, understand the challenges that present themselves to your friends. What exactly is making it difficult for them to bike to the bike ride? If we don’t talk about this we’re not going to learn anything.

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        • davemess April 28, 2015 at 7:39 pm

          It’s usually distance, time, family, or a host of other things.
          If I want to do a group ride/race/event on the other side of town (a 60 minute ride) and I have something else to do that will occupy me up to 30 minutes before. My options are drive there and make the ride or don’t go to the ride.

          It’s cool that people are willing to sacrifice like this and limit themselves to smaller radiuses. Many people are not willing to make that sacrifice.

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      • 9watts April 28, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        “A friend of mine doesn’t go to a bikey party if he happens to be in a car and it is inconvenient for him to go home and get his bike. He feels ashamed of showing up in his car in certain circles.”

        The way you invoke these examples makes it look as if he can’t participate because, well, he finds himself in a car at precisely those times. But what if he instead were to realize… well these bikey parties keep happening; I still want to go; how can I reduce the chances that I’m always in a car when I hear about them? I am not ready to let him off the hook so easily.
        As the old bumper sticker goes: if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. The bikey people, apparently, stand for getting there by bike. He, apparently, is drawn to this. So, figure out how to already be on a bike, eh?

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        • Taz Loomans April 28, 2015 at 5:57 pm

          If you want to spend your life deriding people for the way they got to your party, that’s your business 9watts. I for one want to welcome everyone to my party and not have a bicycle vs car checkpoint at my gate. Do I think cars are damaging to the environment? Yes. Do I think the solution is to create an elite society of those who bike and exclude those who don’t? Nope. I think the solution lies in knowing we are all in this together.

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          • 9watts April 28, 2015 at 6:36 pm

            I guess we must have different friends. I’m not interested in deriding anyone, and have a bit of a hard time imagining how this social filter/elitist thing works in practice, to be honest.

            There’s got to be some middle ground where we can talk about all of this without stepping on each others’ toes, articulate a social goal: figure out how to wean ourselves off the automobile, without so many hurt feelings. This isn’t going to work if we all just try to sort this out for ourselves, never challenge each other to go beyond our comfort zones, share strategies, hold each other accountable.

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          • soren April 28, 2015 at 8:42 pm

            If someone chooses to go to a “bikey” party I I have little sympathy for their hurt feelings when a “bikey” person points out that they did not use a “bikey”.

            I am now remembering why I avoid Portland “bikey” events like the plague. I like bikes and bikes as transportation but I really really do not like defining myself as a “bikey” person.

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      • soren April 28, 2015 at 7:05 pm

        I’m sorry that you and others were exposed to this kind of intolerance.

        “biking community” or “bikey party”

        I love bikes but I’m not a member of the “biking community” and have no desire to every be initiated as a member of the “biking community”. 😉

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      • Oregon Mamacita April 29, 2015 at 9:10 am

        Taz, I like your stuff. Here is one quibble and please reflect upon it: why should you feel “ashamed” to take the bus? Since when did the bike become the symbol of moral virtue? Move around how you want to move around, and ignore the “bike supremacists.”

        My whole take on the activist bike riders is that they are buzz kills. Biking should be fun and freedom- not a forced choice.

        Rather than reading Mia Birk, try reading at least the first chapter of the autobiography of Sonny Barger (Hells Angels). Great stuff on how he loved to ride bikes as a kid and how the Hells Angels influenced the design of one of my first bikes- which had a banana seat and “ape bars” just like a custom Harley chopper.

        Yeah, there’s a part of me that admires the Angels. Two weeks ago I thought of Sonny when a bunch of spandex clad DBs riding two-three abreast tried to force me to the side of a bike path. One guy gave me this little hand gesture of “move over.” Arrogant and ill-advised.

        I held my ground and one guy cursed me in a high-pitched voice (too tight shorts?). I laughed to see them forced into slowing down and riding single file. Did they see my one finger salute? Don’t know.

        Be a real rebel. Tell ’em off. Feel no shame.

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        • eli bishop May 1, 2015 at 9:26 am

          “My whole take on the activist bike riders is that they are buzz kills. Biking should be fun and freedom- not a forced choice.” THANK YOU. and the comments here are only reinforcing why I don’t participate in a lot of bike events anymore.

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  • Jmak00 April 27, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Typical liberal malady. A liberal’s disagreement with you inherently means that you act with malice, that you are evil, that you are a meanie. The self-congratulating most tolerant among us are not at all very tolerant. They cannot tolerate black conservatives, female Republicans, gay Republicans…all of whom are traitors in one way or another.

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  • Black Butte Porter April 27, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I’ve driven cars over 400,000 miles. I have enjoyed many spectacular weekend backpacking trips in the western USA thanks to driving a car. Couldn’t have done a tenth of it on a bicycle. I do bike but not for a weekend backpacking trip 200 miles away. Come to work 4 am Friday, leave at noon, hit the trail head at 4 pm, arrive at an awesome alpine lake 7 pm, just in time to pitch camp before dark. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice…………

    Once I was at Image Lake on Miners Ridge. A guy comes in to set up his camp about 9 or 10 pm – just as it was getting dark so I helped him set up his tent. Said he left Beaverton that morning. Try that on a bike! (That’s a 16 mile hike with 4,000 feet of gain after about 260 miles in the car.)

    Bikes are great – rode mine today. Cars are awesome. Will be a sad day when our standard of living has gone so far down that people cannot enjoy the things we old folks have enjoyed. But it’s probably coming.

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    • Dan April 28, 2015 at 8:38 am

      Remember when everyone in China used to get around by bike? There is an exponential shift to cars there, and China is now GM’s biggest market.

      I hate to link to fox news, but:


      We currently have 8x the level of car ownership that they do, but guess what’s going to happen to gasoline once China has anywhere near the same level of car ownership as us? With their 1.36 billion people?

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      • caesar April 28, 2015 at 8:43 am

        “…guess what’s going to happen to gasoline once China has anywhere near the same level of car ownership as us? With their 1.36 billion people?”

        We will all have succumbed to global carbon monoxide poisoning well before we cross that lovely milestone.

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  • SW April 28, 2015 at 7:36 am

    >>Even if those people are living in East Portland, where the bike infrastructure is abysmal and it is simply dangerous to ride your bike

    I’m a long time EP rider, and while there are a lot of faults out here …. it’s not really THAT bad.

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    • eli bishop May 1, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Yes. Yes it is. Hello, Powell.

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  • Trikeguy April 28, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I don’t think you’re realizing how cheaply you can get a functioning car these days.
    That AAA $9K yearly expense is a farce.
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    To suggest that a cheap car is inexpensive to own is to lack understanding that the main cost of ownership of a vehicle is *not* the purchase price.

    I’ve read some great essays along the lines of “what people don’t understand about being poor” – and one of the recurring themes is “my cheap car broke down and fixing it made me late on my rent/not fixing it caused me to lose my job/other catastrophic results.

    It’s not that I’m fortunate enough to live where I don’t need a car – it’s that I *PLAN* to live where I won’t need a car. I grew up on a small farm, over 5 miles outside a tiny town and over 20 or 25 miles to the nearest real grocery store. I made a conscious decision to live where I didn’t need to drive for 20 minutes plus just to go to the library.

    When my GF and I moved (very seldom, I hate moving /shudder) we started with the near transit, walking distance to necessary stores, easy to bike out of criteria and went from there.

    If you’d ever seen our finances you’d never again suggest that not owning a car wasn’t a large part of the rather huge % of our gross that goes into our 401k’s.

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    • davemess April 28, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      “When my GF and I moved (very seldom, I hate moving /shudder) we started with the near transit, walking distance to necessary stores, easy to bike out of criteria and went from there.”

      You do understand that for many in Portland this type of location is outside of their financial means (even if they gave up their “expensive” cars), right?

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  • Black Butte Porter April 28, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I forgot 1 car – my total miles driven is closer to 600,000. No, cars aren’t cheap to own. Just a rough back of the envelope calculation:

    Say you buy a used 2007 Civic for $8,000 cash (no financing cost), 30/40 mpg city/highway, and keep it 10 years, driving it 10,000 miles per year and it’s half highway, half city miles, and gas costs $4/gallon. Assume the car is in good condition mechanically – no hidden costly problems.

    car cost ~ 800/year
    city gas ~ 667/year
    hwy gas ~500/year
    maintenance ~ guesstimate $700/year average, and includes battery once every 8 years, car washes, oil changes, routine maintenance, etc.
    insurance ~ guesstimate $1000/year (check with your agent – this may be low)
    tires – guesstimate $60/year
    parking – guesstimate $25/year assuming you rarely pay to park -best case
    license/smog test – $60/year guesstimate
    traffic tickets – $40 average – unless you are a bad driver then assume more
    Total so far: $3,852/year – some years your total will be quite a bit less but if in one year you have to have major mechanical work (timing belt for example) and replace tires then your cost for that year will be higher.

    What costs did I forget? One, is that if you had instead put that $3752 into investments, you would have made money on it – BUT you would have missed out on a lot of fun rides – it’s a trade-off. The conservative view would say it’s best to save and invest the money – the liberal view would say you may not live forever so use your car to have some fun while you are here.

    Of course at any time if you have an accident, a major breakdown, get a DUI, etc then your costs are going to go much higher.

    Here’s a website that will calculate the cost for you but it assumes 15,000 miles per year driven:

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    • Trikeguy April 28, 2015 at 11:22 am

      My dad has actually kept all the records necessary to calculate his ¢/mile over the years (yes, he’s a bit OCD about that – especially once computer personal finance packages came along). Based on his experiences I’d say your 37¢ / mile is in the right ballpark

      Here’s his comment on that
      note that he lives on the coast a long way from anything resembling a big town.
      Also note that he figures the resale value in.

      I always keep track of the per-mile cost of our cars. Our 2008 BMW wagon is cheaper to run than the Toyota RAV4 I sold to Barbara and Mike (.51 vs .53). First, we got a big discount with the overseas delivery (lower initial cost and lower import fees for a ‘used’ car and one round-trip ticket to Munich — we were going to Germany anyway), plus the resale value is so high for a BMW. (Good for a Toyota too.) It will be interesting to see how the X3 pencils out. It should be pretty good. Since Mother died our transportation costs are way, way down. That extra 10-12k miles per year really added up. The cheapest car we ever owned was the Datsun 510. I think it was about a nickel a mile. Helps to be able to buy a car for $1989 with a no-interest loan from the bank I worked for.

      Couldn’t live over here without a car. Probably move back to town in 10 years.

      10 years? He’s going to be 71 this year. Hmmmm

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      • Chris I April 28, 2015 at 1:32 pm

        I just sold a 1999 pickup for $300 less than I had bought it for 2.5 years earlier, and I only had to dump about $600 into repairs during that time. I put 17,000 miles on it, and got about 26mpg. By far the lowest cost of ownership I have ever experienced, and definitely an anomaly in the car world. I think the $0.37 per mile figure is pretty accurate for a normal used car.

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 29, 2015 at 7:34 am

      You forgot one of the biggest ones. Depreciation. Not nearly as big of a factor on a used car, but for most new cars it is easily one of the biggest expenses on the purchase.

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      • Black Butte Porter May 1, 2015 at 12:01 am

        Isn’t that included in the $800/year car cost on the first line? It may be a little higher earlier than later, but for an 8 year old car it is not that significant.

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  • Black Butte Porter April 28, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Quote: “We currently have 8x the level of car ownership that they do, but guess what’s going to happen to gasoline once China has anywhere near the same level of car ownership as us? With their 1.36 billion people?”

    One possible scenario is that oil companies will discover big oil fields in China and they’ll be OK for another 50 years. Another scenario is that oil companies will discover big oil fields in Russia and they’ll sell the oil to China and make a lot of money. Perhaps they will be having this same discussion in 50 or 100 years. Could happen.

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    • Dan April 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Another scenario is that China flexes their financial power and buys up all of the gasoline in the middle east, while we go into a massive energy crisis. But yeah, who knows what’s going to happen.

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  • Black Butte Porter April 28, 2015 at 11:59 am
  • Taz Loomans April 28, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I can smell cliques a mile away because I was a nerdy awkward overweight brown kid in high school and most cliques did not want me as a member. For most of my adult life I’ve managed to avoid cliques. But when I came to Portland and joined the bike community because Im passionate about biking, it felt like one big clique to me! It wasn’t very open and it seemed to skew towards the extreme. It wasn’t a community I felt I could live up to even though I don’t own a car and I bike a lot. Biking is way too important to reduce it to being a clique. Biking is so awesome it can be a tool for bringing people together instead of setting people apart from each other.

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  • Ryan April 28, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Shaming doesn’t work. When people are aware enough of how many problems caused by cars and the car-based infrastructure (and in a position to give up driving) they do. I gave up driving last year and it’s been a great weight off me.

    I haven’t missed having a car once.

    Regardless, the only legitimate reason for driving in Portland is to go mountain biking!

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  • Jmak00 April 28, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    I just have to wonder what world the “advocates” in this thread would prefer…this all seems so creepy. It appears that many want others to forego a car altogether and will shame others and seek to abuse the State’s authority to attempt to restrict or ban car ownership. And because they “feel” it would “help” something. Creepy.

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  • Trikeguy April 29, 2015 at 9:28 am

    “When my GF and I moved (very seldom, I hate moving /shudder) we started with the near transit, walking distance to necessary stores, easy to bike out of criteria and went from there.”
    You do understand that for many in Portland this type of location is outside of their financial means (even if they gave up their “expensive” cars), right?
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    You presume to know an awful lot about my financial means in the >28 years since I went car free.

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  • Velowocky April 29, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    The single best source of improvements to biking in the next fifty years will come from automobile technology. Specifically driverless technology. The entire transportation structure is going to be completely upended when the actual behaviour of vehicles can be managed. No other measure will come close to making biking safer. But as long as driving is viewed as bad or wrong by bike riders, the group who should be the most vocal advocates for the technology are standing in its way.

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    • 9watts April 29, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      Let’s check back in in about five years, see whether the end of cheap oil or driverless technology has made a bigger difference.

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      • Velowocky April 29, 2015 at 2:42 pm

        The US is now a net energy exporter, oil is incredibly cheap, natural gas is booming, automotive and commercial battery costs are tumbling faster than almost anyone could have predicted. I haven’t studied the whole peak oil argument but it seems to not have a lot to do with driverless which is being funded and developed by some huge interests. It’s just a question of time to maturity for the technology and I can’t see why the bike community isn’t aggressively pursuing the potential.

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        • Oregon Mamacita April 29, 2015 at 3:50 pm

          There is no “bike community” anymore than there is an “auto” community. Just a bunch of adults who have an affinity for bikes based on all sorts of different reasons. I think you make an interesting point. I expect that the love of cars is so pervasive world-wide that all sorts of interests want safer, cheaper, cleaner and prob. self-driving cars. In my crystal ball in a decade I see people having a little smart car for trips to Freddies and a different car for highway trips and camping.
          Some bike activists have a complex agenda that includes zero population growth, being like the more conformist, white cultures of Denmark & Holland, and a strong interest in big rectangular buildings replacing single family homes. Those folks are anti-car period.

          Well, so far driving technology is improving and bike use has flat-lined for years. I suspect time will prove you right, but I am a minority on this blog in many ways.

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          • soren April 30, 2015 at 8:40 am

            Amsterdam is far more diverse than Portland.

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        • Black Butte Porter April 29, 2015 at 5:51 pm

          The US is not a net energy exporter – not of petroleum fuels anyway. Our daily consumption is about 19 million barrels per day – our production is about 13 million barrels per day. We import about net 6 million barrels per day. Just one source of many:

          All the happy talk about cheap, plentiful oil is BS. We are better than we used to be thanks to fracking and the fact that we are getting more oil from places other than the middle east, but we are probably in for a world of hurt in a few years or decades as world wide consumption drives prices up and huge US debt drives value of the dollar down.

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          • Pete April 29, 2015 at 9:04 pm

            Great point, though there are some variations on a theme. The crude we produce from fracking here is far more useful than what comes out of the middle east, but OPEC reserves are tremendously higher than any other faction by far – hence the geo-economical warfare we feel as cheap gas prices right now (which many people mistakenly believe to be a good thing). The byproduct of the North American process, though, is a high production of natural gas. We’ve realized that for both national security and competitive reasons, we can shift platforms to natural gas (and preserve profit margins – or even increase them). Power generation can move from coal (with a reduction in sulfurous pollution as a side benefit). Locomotives can (and soon will) move from diesel, ironically to ship crude from the middle of the country to be exported at the ports.

            We produce copper, iron, lithium – even helium which is fast becoming a precious commodity. OPEC produces – and relies upon one thing: crude oil. I have a much harder time buying the “peak oil” argument as a result, and tend to believe the analysts who say that OPEC can get us pricing the crude that produces gasoline down to $20/bbl. This is literally geopolitical economic warfare, and we built the system that caused it.

            Unfortunately, I believe one big way to get people to use bicycles is to make it financially attractive, and this doesn’t bode well for that. Even in Silicon Valley it’s hilarious to me that the nonsense of sitting in traffic for an hour to go ten miles (in your fancy leased BMW) is more attractive than riding a bike in year-round 70-degree weather on flat, protected bike paths. But yet, there it is – other people have also pointed out: gas prices drop and hybrid/electric sales plummet while pickup/SUV sales boom.

            Humans is such funny critters!!!

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  • carye bye April 29, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    meant to say: “bike only for 90% of all my trips in town and for fun.. the other way I usually get around is public transportation/bus”

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  • carye bye April 29, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    I wrote another response earlier which I haven’t seen pop up yet (though my editing comment has..?)

    but I have now seen the added comment from Taz with her reasons for feeling car shamed. In my post I asked for some examples of car shaming. I Hope my full other post goes up, but I commented while it was loading maybe, and maybe lost it?

    okay….back to this post

    Number 3 of examples Taz posted refers to me.

    3. Another friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that people who don’t own cars but who use car sharing and accept rides more than 3 times a month should not be using the term car-free but should use the term car-light. This, to me, is an unproductive and elitist distinction. Apparently, there are different levels of car-free and you aren’t good enough until you reach the very pinnacle, which includes not even accepting rides in other people’s vehicles

    I posted on my own facebook page ” Who here in Portland is Super Car Free?” This post was from the fall of 2014 after coming home from a trip around the country for two months and ended up having to rent at least three cars to complete the journey. I had also gone on car vacation with my folks and was in a lot of cars in town visiting friends. I was super eager to get back into a Car Free lifestyle here in Portland and find out who was on my same page. I was looking for fellow cyclists like myself who don’t enjoy using cars for getting stuff done. I explained that super car free meant to me not even borrowing cars for everyday stuff even once a week and maybe only using or getting in a car a few times a year. That’s the folks I was looking for….

    I was not intentionally car-shaming I was looking for people trying to live like I do. But apparently I struck a chord.

    I run a facebook group and I always tell people that not all posts are for you. and to just let it go by without commenting. This is a case where those who weren’t to the level of car free I was looking for should have just passed on by. there was no need for folks to feel shame or bothered, the post just wasn’t geared towards them — just like if I was looking for deep sea divers or super strict vegan… etc. We all start somewhere, and sometimes we get to a new level and are seeking out a new support group.

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    • shamer April 30, 2015 at 9:00 am

      “the post just wasn’t geared towards them — just like if I was looking for deep sea divers or super strict vegan… etc.”



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    • Taz Loomans May 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      Carye, thank you for your explanation. I see that your FB post was not meant to shame people who are not completely car free. I retract that as an example of car-shaming after hearing the intent behind it.

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  • carye bye April 29, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    I got slack immediately for saying super car free, as if I was superior or elite was the word used as it is in this column. and I said no, super means “More”, like super size.. not superior.

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  • Black Butte Porter April 30, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Quote: ” I haven’t studied the whole peak oil argument but it seems to not have a lot to do with driverless which is being funded and developed by some huge interests.”

    Be careful in your driverless car – in case it is hacked:


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    • Pete April 30, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      True, but many modern drive-by-wire cars use the same CAN bus as the media system which can be used to plant a trojan and gain network access via the wireless modem used by the manufacturer’s remote monitoring services. UCSD/UW students demonstrated this hack a few years back and were able to accelerate and brake a BMW 3 series from a remote server. Granted, this required some physical access and dedicated research, but people would be blown away if they knew how vulnerable so many critical control systems are these days.

      Cybersecurity is a tough game: you’ve got to build systems to protect all possible attack surfaces, yet an attacker only needs to properly exploit one vulnerability to gain access. From an investment standpoint, you can spend a huge amount of money on security, but the only tangible results you see are the absence of any incidents.

      “So what is my ROI on this security budget?”
      “Yes, when nothing bad is happening, everything is working.”

      (So now you know what I do for fun/work… ;).

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  • 9watts March 26, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Whatever happened to Taz? I felt her posts were excellent at starting lively and at times even boisterous conversations. I hope she returns with more.

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    • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Paging Taz?

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      • Alan 1.0 July 18, 2017 at 10:29 am

        Her byline link at the top of this article has a link on to her own blog, http://bloomingrock.com/, where she tells us that she moved to San Francisco this year, and links on to her recent writing.

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        • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 11:33 am

          Thanks, Alan 1.0.

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