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The Monday Roundup: Testing the Idaho stop, the origin of helmets and more

Posted by on May 18th, 2015 at 10:45 am

salmon street stop sign

Look both ways.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Here are the bike-related links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Idaho stop: Bicycle Quarterly’s Jan Heine created his own private code of conduct for the last six months: he treated red lights as stop signs and stop signs as yield signs while biking around Seattle. What he learned was pretty interesting.

Bike to Work Week: It makes biking feel like “paying your taxes or calling grandma on Mother’s Day,” writes Bike Snob Eben Weiss in Time.

Research shortage: Biking and walking get approximately as much federal research funding annually as chicken trucks.

Seattle role model: That’s Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett back on a bicycle — this time to launch his new foundation to fight childhood obesity.

Rolling coal: New Jersey has explicitly outlawed the practice of modifying one’s engine to spew soot.

Blame ratio: A Vancouver BC study found that in collisions where fault could be determined, people biking had the right of way 93 percent of the time.

Two less cars: A study of social costs and benefits in Copenhagen found that every kilometer driven costs society as a whole 17 cents, whereas every kilometer biked saves society 18 cents.

Paid parking: The Oregonian catches the broader public up on the city’s evolving concepts about charging for street parking outside downtown.

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Mode share: The Census’ commuting figures may be a very low estimate for the share of total biking and walking trips, according to a new study from Minneapolis.

Vancouver streets: The City of Vancouver’s Commission on Street Funding has launched an online tool to gather input about how to address its soaring projected pavement maintenance backlog and balance paving against other needs.

Bike helmets: You can thank the original celebrity motorcycle crash victim: Lawrence of Arabia.

Quantifying roadkill: More than half of all known vertebrate species in California were reported as roadkill at least once in the last five years.

Self-driving cars: Google’s autonomous vehicles have been involved in 11 “minor” traffic collisions since their creation six years ago. Google claims they caused no injuries, that the self-driving car was never “the cause” and that the collisions involved 1.7 million miles of driving, including nearly 1 million in self-driving mode.

Car-free shopping: After New Zealand politician Dick Quax said “no one in the entire western world” uses trains or bikes for shopping, people around the western world coined the hashtag #quaxing to share photos of themselves disproving him.

Carless nightmares: In much of the United States, especially the fastest-growing cities, living without a car can mean sleeping five hours a night so you can get back and forth from your 10-hour hospital shift.

Housing shortage: Except for the neighborhood immediately around 122nd and Division, the median-income black household can no longer afford to rent anything in Portland larger than a studio apartment.

Bus-rack fatality: Last month in Detroit, a man was killed by a bus that ran over him while he struggled to remove his bike from the front rack.

Email etiquitte: Bicycle anthropologist Adonia Lugo has some advice from moderating two listservs about bikes and equity; she’s only had to evict one participant so far.

Path investment: The old rail line that’s often called the country’s best bike path, Minneapolis’s Midtown Greenway, has helped draw more than $200 million in private development to its area in the last decade.

And your video of the week is a look at Philadelphia, the biking capital of the Northeast and the country’s bikingest city of more than 1 million residents:

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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Bjorn
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Bjorn

The only quibble I have with the writer of the Idaho Style Stop piece is that the Boise Metro Area has over 600,000 people living in it. We know that Idaho Style Stops work in cities because Boise is a city and we have over 3 decades of data. One of the arguments against the Idaho Stop bill that we worked to pass was that just because it works in Idaho doesn’t mean it will work in Oregon, but Boise Metro would be the second most populated metro area in Oregon if we transplanted it here.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I have a major quibble with his assertion that cars turning right on red don’t represent a hazard for pedestrians. This is one of the leading causes of death for pedestrians in NYC and many other big cities. Everyone has experienced a driver come up to the intersection, look left at the oncoming traffic, and then proceed with the right turn without once looking for pedestrians crossing to their right.

I support the message of the article, but he is just flat out wrong on the right turn on red issue.

are
Guest

to be fair, it is not the right turn on red in itself that presents the risk to pedestrians, who generally will not have a walk light at that moment. the problem is right on red has conditioned motorists to believe they need only pause and then execute a right regardless whether the light is red or green. in other words right on red has indirectly removed pedestrians from the motorists’ calculations altogether.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

“who generally will not have a walk light at that moment”

Chris I was talking about the people crossing with the walk signal left and right in front of the car, not the ones about to cross in the same direction…

are
Guest

fair enough. nonetheless it is the conditioning of motorists over time to seek their opening in cross traffic rather than consider pedestrians. often putting the motorist in the crosswalk, as ted notes.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I firmly believe this, that generations of drivers are now conditioned for this, and that ‘slip lanes’ have helped. Sunnyvale, CA just removed a slip lane at Homestead and Hollenbeck because too many peds were getting hit. So much for LOS…

ted
Guest
ted

Sometimes when I approach a crosswalk I see a car completely blocking it, with the driver looking the opposite direction, waiting for a gap in traffic. From experience I know he is not likely to wait for a large enough gap that will allow him time to turn and check for pedestrians before gunning it. This means to cross the street I have to dance behind him or wait, which is likely to mean a delay of two or three minutes as I have to wait for the next cycle, having missed my chance to cross legally because of a vehicle blocking the crosswalk. ROR is a disaster for pedestrians, and should not be in place in cities that want to promote a walkable environment. It conditions drivers to stop in the crosswalk, not before it. There are intersections in cities where ROR won’t be a danger, but they should be treated as the exceptions they are, not the default.

That’s the law in NYC. Right on red is illegal, except where signed to permit it.

I’m not sure why you think right on red, which in NYC is red light running, is a leading cause of pedestrian deaths though.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/nyc_ped_safety_study_action_plan.pdf

In New York City, the failure of drivers to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk is a major factor in pedestrian crashes; 27% of pedestrian KSI crashes involved a pedestrian crossing with the signal and the driver’s failure to yield. (A very small proportion of pedestrian KSI crashes involved red-light-running.) Although drivers must yield to pedestrians under state law, this violation is commonplace in New York City and may not be widely known by drivers to be the law.

Tait
Guest
Tait

Cars pull forward into the crosswalk when they can’t see oncoming traffic from the left side, which is usually because of poor clearance lines, setbacks that are too small, greenery or on-street parking obstructing the view. When the sight lines are good, this problem tends to go away. (Maybe intersections with poor sight lines should just disallow right-on-red.)

Pete
Guest
Pete

This, and another thing I’ve noticed is that there ‘used to be’ stop lines painted a few feet before crosswalks. Granted I’ve moved around a bit, but i notice that’s not the case for most of what I see where I live now. Maybe it’s to save money, but doesn’t seem to incentivize drivers to come to a complete stop and look both ways before proceeding right on a red light.

J
Guest
J

NYC does not allow right hand turns at stoplights.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I have the same quibble. In discussions of the Idaho stop law, I’ve often heard the opposition claim that Idaho’s experience is inapplicable “here” (wherever “here” happens to be) because Idaho has no cities.

But Idaho does, indeed, have a metro area of significant size. (Not only larger, but more progressive, diverse and “bikey” than many people assume). And from what I’ve seen on my numerous visits to lovely Boise, the stop law does, indeed, work quite well there.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Despite Idaho’s experience with their law allowing people on bikes to roll stop signs, in all the decades since it was implemented, no other state in the union has had interest in that law, sufficient to implement it as their own.

Doesn’t appear that anywhere close to a majority of state’s residents, of any state, are asking to have Idaho’s law for their own state, or even talking about the law.Unless Idaho Stop enthusiasts, of Oregon, can figure out some way to impose the law on Oregon, despite residents lack of interest in, or dislike for the law, it’s probably not going to happen here.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

It actually was 1 vote away from being sent to the governor for a signature in Utah a few years ago and there has been momentum for it in several other states. Unfortunately tabloid scare tactics have created enough FUD to block it most of the time but it isn’t true that there hasn’t been interest in other states.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…but it isn’t true that there hasn’t been interest in other states.” Bjorn

As I wrote earlier, insufficient interest on the part of residents of other states, to implement Idaho’s stop law in their own states.

To most people on the street obliged to safely operate motor vehicles where people as vulnerable road users are present, I don’t think data from Idaho’s experience with its stop law has much to do with their feelings about whether or not they would it to be law in their own state. Rejection by most people, of the Idaho stop law is likely much more personal and basic.

Allowing people that bike to roll stop signs, shifts additional burden of responsibility for avoiding close calls and collisions with them, onto people driving, wherever and whenever the judgment of people biking is in err with respect to determining the way is clear of traffic before proceeding through stop sign regulated intersections.

People being obliged to drive motor where vulnerable road users are present, already is a potentially dangerous situation, even with people with their bikes, like all other vehicles in use on the road, being obliged to come to a full stop at stop signs.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

There is only one problem with your safety argument bob, and that is that the data shows that there is no safety issue here. Injury and Death rates remained unchanged after the law was changed in Idaho. We don’t require pedestrians to come to a complete stop before entering an intersection, and doing so would probably have little impact on injury/death rates. These types of scare tactics saying that people who are driving will suddenly have to avoid lots more collisions and close calls are largely why the bills have trouble passing, but they have no basis in fact. In reality the data clearly says the opposite, that people on bikes are generally capable of slowing and yielding the right of way when there is a reason to do so, and coming to a complete stop has no safety benefit.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“There is only one problem with your safety argument bob, …” Bjorn

Ask around and I think you’ll find that most people having to drive where people riding bikes are present, share all or many points of the perspective on the Idaho Stop I have been detailing for bikeportland readers in my personal comments here.

Bjorn…the disadvantage of the Idaho stop is not simply in its being a safety issue, but a burden of responsibility issue as well, particularly on people that drive. Most people driving, aren’t going to just run over someone on a bike that goofs up in rolling a stop sign; they’re going to make the effort to avoid a close call or a collision.

Time and again, some people commenting to bikeportland are wont to emphasize their feeling that people driving motor vehicles, should be obliged to bear greater degrees of responsibility for consequences and avoidance of close calls and collisions with vulnerable road users.

Fine, to some extent: Except that when efforts are made to enhance vulnerable road user’s safety on the road amongst motor vehicles, not only by declining to implement Idaho’ stop law, but also…through encouraging implementation of laws that would require education, training and certification for people riding bikes in traffic…and, tail lights rather than simply reflectors…people seeking support for the Idaho stop in Oregon, and expressing comments accordingly here at bikeportland, won’t help.

Help out people that drive, with enhanced visibility of people on the road biking, and they may be more inclined to consider approval of a law that would offer people biking the convenience of being legally allowed to roll stop signs. That would be a start. Just asking periodically, Oregon voters to give people that bike, an exclusive legal right limited to bicycles, to roll stop signs, does not seem likely to come about very soon if at all.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I recently learned that the law actually is spreading and that there are now a number of towns in Colorado that also have the Idaho Style Stop Sign law.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…a number of towns in Colorado…” Bjorn

Spreading like wildfire. I seem to recall you’ve mentioned in past that you live in Vancouver, Washington. Nice town, beautiful state. Based on Idaho’s experience with its stop, perhaps your town and its residents would be interested in being the next town to adopt the ‘bikes are free to roll stop signs’ stop?

With your legislative experience and familiarity with the Idaho’s experience with the law, maybe they would warm to the idea. By its ‘all ages mandatory bike helmet’, Vancouver would seem to be a town that places a higher than average priority on safety of people biking. If residents there were to be of the opinion as you are, that Idaho’s stop law is safe, and places onto people that drive, no unreasonable burden of responsibility for the safety of people that bike, passage of such a law in your town may be manageable. Give it a try and keep bikeportland readers posted.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…a number of towns in Colorado…” Bjorn

Spreading like wildfire. I seem to recall you’ve mentioned in past that you live in Vancouver, Washington. Nice town, beautiful state. Based on Idaho’s experience with its stop, perhaps your town and its residents would be interested in being the next town to adopt the ‘bikes are free to roll stop signs’ stop?

With your legislative experience and familiarity with Idaho’s experience with the law, maybe they would warm to the idea. By its ‘all ages mandatory bike helmet’, Vancouver would seem to be a town that places a higher than average priority on safety of people biking. If residents there were to be of the opinion as you are, that Idaho’s stop law is safe, and places onto people that drive, no unreasonable burden of responsibility for the safety of people that bike, passage of such a law in your town may be manageable. Give it a try and keep bikeportland readers posted.

ted
Guest
ted

If an Idaho stop bill passes in Oregon will pedestrians still have to wait at red lights when no cars or bikes are coming?

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

Yes, because the Idaho Stop applies to bicycles only. All other road users would continue to use the road the way they have been.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

“Google claims the[ir AI vehicle] caused no injuries, that the self-driving car was never ‘the cause’.”

Damn those Google cars sound just like the conventional driver, ‘its not my fault”, I wonder if we will hear “I did not see them”, when the first cyclist or ped will be hit by an autonomous AI vehicle.

It brings up a whole new definition for getting “Googled”, as in ‘that car just Googled me’ and now I am in the hospital. (Go ahead stand-up comedians, this first one is on me. Just send me a pair of tickets to the green room when you make it big on this riff.]

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

We should be comparing collisions per million miles for self driving cars vs human driven cars, not expecting perfect performance. From what I can tell the google cars are crashing at a lower rate than the average american regardless of who is at fault, and as long as they continue to trend down over time it seems like an improvement over the texting drivers that populate my commute.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

While your attempt at humor is Fozzy Bear-esq(1) I think some critical thinking and rational analysis of media fear mongering is in order.
GOOGLE CARS’ 1 MILLION MILES WITH 0 ACCIDENTS UPSETS MEDIA

Skepticink article
This is terrible journalism designed to upset you. Google’s program and the data we have are cause for great optimism, and at this point, only optimism! I make no claims this can not change, but right now, we’re golden. Here’s why.

1. The machine driver caused zero accidents. I know I said this already. It bears repeating. None. No times.

Watching how hard and how fast they(the media) bend over backward, how they squint at the facts in seeming desperation to find some way to be afraid of the future leads me to suspect the cultural shift to a world with machine drivers is scary because it is different, and because Americans fear change just slightly more than giant spiders that drool Ebola.

Every Google self-driving car accident was caused by human error
SELF-DRIVING CARS CAN’T AVOID ACCIDENTS ON CALIFORNIA ROADS

AP article
Because the cars are required to record and store the last 30 seconds of a data before any accident, reconstructing what happened should be easier, at least.

The View from the Front Seat of the Google Self-Driving Car

Medium article
If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car. Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.

Rear-end crashes are the most frequent accidents in America, and often there’s little the driver in front can do to avoid getting hit; we’ve been hit from behind seven times, mainly at traffic lights but also on the freeway.

Everyone of these self driving cars runs on LIDAR and video cameras.

Even if only 10% of vehicles are autonomous vehicle systems that will put so many vehicle cameras on the road that odds are very good that very soon there will be video of everyone of these dangerous interactions.

Google will very likely reward users for the sharing of video your vehicle recorded of the public space outside your private vehicle cabin. I can easily imagine Google offering a service that collects all video that “witnessed” an incident, processes and synthesizes a 3D video model for police to “walk through” afterwards.

Very very shortly self driving cars are going to unintentionally force human drivers to be better.

(1) I too am guilty guilty guilty

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Ever been rear-ended by by a Ford Probe?
wocka wocka wocka

Spiffy
Guest
q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Engineers Unveil New Driverless Car Capable Of Committing Hit-And-Run
From self driving car AI: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. It was just a mood swing, been been feeling down. Towanda! Could I have some premium gasoline as a pick me up?”

soren
Guest
soren

Jan Heine found that Idaho stopping was safe, fast, and did not cause conflict but still returned to car-centric cycling.

Am I missing something?

Cheif
Guest
Cheif

I wonder if I’m missing something as well.. Riding in Seattle I experience on a daily basis people in cars pulling up next to me attempting to explain some made up rule they think exists and feel they can enforce across the board despite them not being police and despite whatever rule that random person has invented. I can only imagine the sanctimonious attitude elicited towards someone who chose to break actual (though of questionable validity) laws that actually exist.

soren
Guest
soren

I commuted by bike in Seattle just about every day for ~7 years and never once experienced this.

are
Guest

his stated rationale, expressed to people who challenged him, was he was conducting an experiment. if he unilaterally adopts an illegal practice outside that protocol, he has no “defense” except his own judgment. or unless the experiment never ends. “champs” for one finds that defense insufficient.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Finally…a person for all the helmet-haters to direct their hate!

TK
Guest
TK

Eben Weiss’s column on Bike to Work Week has some interesting observations, but overall I’m shaking my head wondering what would make Mr. Weiss happy. Should we have no bike awareness advocacy? So what if some people can only be encouraged to ride once a year. I would far rather share the road with car commuters who have occasionally ridden the same road on two wheels than with those who have no awareness of biking whatsoever.

dave
Guest
dave

As a longtime Bike Snob reader, I’ll venture a guess: good infrastructure, fair enforcement of traffic laws, and general “normalization” of bikes in cities. An outreach program that gets a few thousand people to ride to work once or twice and where their takeaway is “that sucked, never again” is not terribly constructive. An urban environment where riding a bike feels safe and normal, on the other hand, will make hokey outreach programs superfluous.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Parking meter rates may not have increased since 2009, but I’m pretty sure the fine for a parking violation has,

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

they increased in July 2013… not sure about before that…

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Self driving cars record video; imagine what happens to police behavior if Google stores self driving car video with blue or red strobe lights.
Tagged with time & place an interested party could easily query a database of video a soon get multiple overlapping POVs.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

it says it only keeps the last 30 seconds up to a crash, but I think they’ll be able to store a days worth of data…

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

The bottleneck is the wireless network throughput but a Bit Torrent strategy combined with limited local buffering will work.

I feel bad for the good cops.
I know some people get in to it to Actually protect and serve. Maybe they read too many superman comics and have an over developed sense of the selfless nobility helping the weak and innocent.

But like every good aspect of Life(tm) it gets ruined by a minority.
Structurally, if we want to be fair, we will end up having to treat police incidents as “guilty until proven innocent under consideration” and have a constant anonymous and random “jury of their peers” (other police from as far away as legally and randomly possible) review these cases individually, privately and totally anonymously so as to encourage harsh judgment of fellow police officers.

Champs
Guest
Champs

Herr Doktor Jan Heine’s response to my usual statements about the Idaho Stop was unsatisfying. I officially give up on seeking the logic behind this because there isn’t any. It’s always about the Meggs study, the one study that says it is safe. This is the bar we set for research on our personal safety.

Speaking of affordability and the Midtown Greenway, I just looked up rentals in the neighborhood around where I lived along there and noped out of there. $1/sqft, abandoned warehouses, shattered glass from car breakins… those were the days.

Andyc of Linnton
Guest
Andyc of Linnton

At my house we just say that we’ll be moving in to the Spokane,Wa. neighborhood of Portland soon enough.

are
Guest

your objection on heine’s page was if motorists should not be permitted to exercise independent judgment at regulated intersections, why should bicyclists. paraphrasing here.

heine’s response was because the stop signs and stop lights were put there to regulate automobiles, which are inherently dangerous machines. again paraphrasing.

why is that response unsatisfying.

if there were no automobiles there would be no need for these devices. presumably you allow that a pedestrian need not pause at an intersection regulated only by stop signs. the difference is the cyclist is not on the sidewalk.

a pedestrian is well advised to pause at an intersection regulated by a signal, because motorists are being encouraged to blow through without regard to anything other than the green light itself. but laws requiring pedestrians to wait out a red light when there is no cross traffic are dumb. and again, the only difference is the cyclist is not on the sidewalk.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Drivers, apparently, don’t even have to look for people in the middle of the road and directly in front of them if they believe a red light is green. It’s quite amazing, really.

Enter an intersection with your wits about you, whether you have the light or not.

Tait
Guest
Tait

The Oregonian parking article is confusing on the issue of permitting cars (the “sticker option”). It sounds like they’re saying Portland will charge $34/yr for cars registered “around” Portland just because they can, on top of the normal metered parking cost? Or is the sticker meant to be instead-of paying for metered parking?

The former seems a little unfair, not to mention difficult to enforce. (Are meter readers going to be running DMV registration checks on the plate of every parked car on the street to pull up its registered address?)

If the latter, then $34 doesn’t come anywhere close to covering the cost. Downtown, $1.60 * 3744 hr (that’s 11 hrs/day for 312 days a year + 6hrs/day for 52 days a year) would be almost $6k a year, and you’re going to let them have it for less than half of one percent of the nominal price?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I think the $34 would be to park a car anywhere in the city. You would still need to pay for metered spaces.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy
Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Another fee, another City of Portland cash grab. No thanks.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Maybe it was last week the article on Google car recognizing hand signals, but I was wondering if it was programmed to recognize the ‘take the lane’ signal that some motorcycle riders and bicyclists use (that is not official). Just a thought…

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Just read in the Oregonian this morning: some of you may remember an Oregon ballot item from some years back, having the public decide whether or not to build a bypass between Newberg and Dundee, to, in theory, relieve the huge motor vehicle congestion that plagues those towns due to 99w somewhat coincidentally having been geographically positioned to serve as their main street, as well as a major route between Portland and points west.

Something I do not remember from the discussion around the subject of the bypass, is whether it had been decided then, that the bypass highway, would not be equipped with sidewalks and bike lanes.

There is an expectation that the bypass will divert a big percentage of 99w truck traffic congestion away from the town’s main street/99w. That’s the reported, implied rationale for not equipping the bypass with sidewalks and bike lanes. Kind of a shame considering the bypass highway, with its ten bridges, may, at points, have nice overlooks down onto the Willamette River. The no sidewalk/bike lane design of the bypass, brings to mind the design of Barbur Blvd, which also has a problem in terms of functionality for foot and bike traffic.

http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2015/05/newberg-dundee_bypass_in_orego.html

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Link to another Oregonian story from today, whose subject could be of interest for a future Monday Roundup:

http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2015/05/hillsboro_trails_plan_would_mo.html

Jest of the story, is that Hillsboro is actively interested in substantially expanding the number of miles in its trail system within the city. Conspicuously absent, to some people, most likely, is that there is no mention whatsoever, as to whether there have been requests for mountain biking trails to be included in planning in the expansion, or of plans to provide trail for mountain biking within the city.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Tualatin Hills Park & Rec, in Beaverton, told me they were looking for sites to develop for mountain biking or cyclocross back in 2012. At the time I was asking about Pioneer Park, a tiny little park that had some fun little single track loops in it. They ended up covering the path in blacktop and gravel, unfortunately. I assume they are still looking for sites.

There is an awful lot of land out here that is just being used for overly large parking lots, undeveloped green space, or corporate landscaping.