The Monday Roundup: Fakes, malls, Moses, and a dispatch from Rome

Posted by on July 20th, 2015 at 10:21 am

Western Bike Works-4-3

Most shops are just scraping by.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This week’s Monday Roundup is brought to you by Metro’s Bike There! Map, now available at local bike shops.

Portland and Rome: Sister cities? Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and First Stop Portland Program Director Nancy Hales are in Rome for a visit with the Pope. Mrs. Hales is blogging the trip and says (tongue-partly-in-cheek) our two cities have more in common than you might think.

Bicycles = America: Bicycles have had an incalculable impact on American culture, so says this New York Times article inspired by a current exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum.

Is your bike shop ripping you off? It’s a common meme among customers, but bike industry marketing pro Rick Vosper says it’s far from reality. In fact, industry sales statistics show they don’t make a nickel off the biggest item in the showroom: bicycles.

Revolving door: Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle is looking for a new Advocacy Director. The new hire will be the fifth person in that role in as many years.

Minneapolis is NOT MESSING AROUND: While Portland dithers, Minneapolis does. That city’s elected officials have done something the City of Portland can’t seem to bring themselves to do: They made a real (and funded!) commitment to protected bike lanes. “30 miles by 2020,” doesn’t exactly flow off the tongue but it’s exciting nonetheless — if you live in Minneapolis.

More from Minn.: And to add insult to injury, our livable city rivals in Minneapolis have just voted to relax parking requirements and allow “no parking” apartments.

Even North Korea gets it: Bicycling is on the rise in North Korea, and the government is responding by building new infrastructure.

Robert Moses defends himself: Moses, long an enemy of urban planners for his love of freeways, tried to defend his record in an essay titled Are Cities Dead?, published in The Atlantic in 1962.

Letting TIGER go: Advocates are raising alarm over a move by a U.S. Senate committee to end the TIGER grant program, an important source of funds that have made many major biking and walking projects possible.

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On the other hand: The League of American Bicyclists says the Senate Commerce Committee has passed amendments to the transportation bill that include “three wins for bicycling!”

One cop, 1,118 tickets to bicycle riders: If you ride a bike in Seattle, familiarize yourself with Police Officer Glen Mulkey. When you see him, ride the other way. As fast as you can.

Let’s talk about sweat: We agree with comic artist Bikeyface — sweat gets a bad rap. It’s America’s obsession with cleanliness that’s needs to take a cold shower.

E-bikes go postal: The Croatian postal service will start using e-bikes for mail delivery. And in an amazing Oregon-like twist the yellow and green bikes are called “FreeDuck2.”

Jan Heine, e-bike evangelist: Respected journalist and long-distance rider Jan Heine has proclaimed that “e-bikes are game changers.” That should settle it.

Fake bikes: Careful. That high-end carbon race bike you just bought might be counterfeit.

Racism a livable streets issue: We think a lot about how we use our streets, but should we talk more about who uses our streets — and how the color of someone’s skin influences how they’re treated while using them?

Shopping mall inventor regrets their impact: Did you know the man behind shopping malls blamed their offspring for destroying cities and said cars are as great a threat to public health as exposed sewers? Neither did we.

Undercover enforcement: The Oregonian shares the latest technology police are using to bust people who use cell phones while driving.

Nail, meet coffin: City Lab reminds us of five tired anti-bike arguments that no longer deserve our attention.

— 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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9watts
Guest
9watts

Bike shops not making money off sales of new bikes. Curious. Someone commenting here recently harangued us to buy a new bike already…
http://bikeportland.org/2015/07/07/guest-article-biking-cheap-145985#comment-6454703

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

What most bike shops don’t do is pay their skilled mechanics a decent living wage.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I suspect this is true, but quite apart from that, if you take your bike in to your local bike shop for them to work on it, a much larger fraction of the money you pay is going to go into the pockets of people who live here, who work in that shop.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

This is true of cooks in restaurants, and for many types of skilled workers in our modern economy. It’s a shame, but they’re not alone.

Pete
Guest
Pete

It’s not as if not being able to sell bikes that they have is somehow good for bike shops. They still need to sell bikes to get customers into the store, generate cash flow, and fulfill commitments to suppliers, among other things.

It’s great that some people are able to be satisfied with bikes they buy second hand. However there is most certainly value in what one gets in buying a new bike locally: getting a bike that is sized correctly, having a variety of options presented coherently to meet customers’ individual needs, warranty support, extended service agreement, etc.

Please don’t pretend you are making some kind of moral choice that is benefitting your LBS by not buying a bike from them.

Sincerely,
Guy who works in a bike shop

9watts
Guest
9watts

The conversation to which I linked was about what kinds of services or products to get at your bike shop. My suspicion, borne out by this article, was that buying a new bike through your local bike shop is not the win many people assume. If I read the article correctly, bike shop (owners) would do better if they focused more on service of the bikes that come in their doors than on selling new bikes.

signed,
Cheapskate

Pete
Guest
Pete

I would say that selling a bike isn’t so much a win as a not-lose. And while it’s easy to say that shops should focus on repairs to make money, my impression, based on working at a number of shops in Portland is that it is very difficult to profit on labor in a market as competitive as this one. With as many shops as there are, there will always be owners of “subsistence-level” shops who are willing to devalue their labor and make up for it by working extremely long hours and/or paying low wages to employees. If a service department charges rates high enough to be profitable, they are likely to be perceived as gouging and customers will go elsewhere.

I guess there’s always margins to be made on tubes.

9watts
Guest
9watts

How about getting out in front of this lose-lose situation and informing customers about exactly what their money buys them, how the microeconomics of bike shops works?

BIKELEPTIC
Guest

There are set mark-ups by the suppliers and distributors for what you can sell bikes and components for. I mean, you can go below the minimum, but then the company is losing money because they’re going below wholesale and they’re undercutting the entire market. (Which is what happens with some online dealers)

This is the exact same model for any type of industry. Like electronics for instance. The mark-up for computers/laptops is very little. When you walk into a electronic store (does anyone do that anymore??) and buy a computer is the company making any money on it? No. They’re barely selling it above wholesale. There’s no market in it. Models are constantly changing and they’re having to bring in new items all the time. Where the money is? Consumables, components, insurance & maintenance. In the bike industry. Um. Same thing.

So, if a bike shop wants to succeed, up-sell those water bottles & cages. Need a bell? Check out various clothing lines. Grab some goos and protein packs. Get the 1 year warranty. Come back for the 6 month tune-up. (Because we just pocket the cash if you never actually come back.) Things like that. It’s just business. But it’s local business.

Eric
Guest
Eric

Ah shucks watty’, you remembered!
I was (tounge-in-cheekingly) referring more to parts/accessories, but new bikes might as well apply too. That same day, I picked up a new hand-built rear wheel from Universal, so the wallet lightening was fresh in my mind.
And for the service argument, I never have a shop service any of my bikes, its not the cost, its the downtime that is a killer for me. Even thought I have more than 1 bike, being without any of them is like being without a child! I have a tools, I have the know-how and I have a garage.

Just pray I don’t get injured and am confined to bed rest for an extended period of time. Local shops will see a drop in sales, which could lead to a micro-recession in the local bike industry. That is when people like you Watty will have to step up. Are you ready to spend $10 on your bike? Are you!?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Are you ready to spend $10 on your bike? Are you!?”

I have acquired several lifetimes’ supplies of used 26″ tires from City Bikes. I can’t really explain it, but whenever I see what seems like a good bargain in their tire bins I grab it. When I bring it home, I discover I already have a dozen hanging on the wall. Maybe it has to do with vivid memories of the lean years before I discovered these bins, when I seemed to always be wearing out the sidewalls in my tires.

colton
Guest
colton

” I never have a shop service any of my bikes, its not the cost, its the downtime that is a killer for me.”

+1

soren
Guest
soren

>Then Koichiro told me that Japanese urban cyclists recently have won the right to ride in the streets, after having been banished to the sidewalks for decades. He was very proud of this fact. I wonder how much e-bikes contributed, because they really are too fast to ride on the sidewalk.

>With e-bikes, we’ll soon have a new constituency who will demand a cycling infrastructure that can be used at reasonable speeds, which allows commuters to cover significant distances efficiently. It’s a constituency that cannot be so easily dismissed as “fast and fearless”…

soren
Guest
soren

it’s hard to brand a japanese woman portaging groceries and children on her e-bike, a “fearless” speed-racer.

i find the idea that “e-bikes” might create a new constituency that demands faster and more efficient bike infrastructure to be fascinating.

Eric
Guest
Eric

They are not really very fast with only 1hp. What they do is flatten climbs by 5% grade and turn flats into 5% downhills. This means planners need to see 20-25mph as a safe and expected speed in long stretches, but they should (and don’t) do that now on a 5% downhill. Our roadways make speed safe for the driver while endangering others yet our bikeways make speed difficult and dangerous for the rider. Maybe if every designer at PBOT had an ebike, they would actually ride their designs. That said, I don’t expect to always be able to go 25 on a bikeway, but I need to average 12-15mph for the trip (or else I’m driving). I would gladly enjoy the Amsterdam slow ride and *never* stop, but a little speed is essential to pick up the slack (and usage) in the current infrastructure until we’ve built a full network. Note also that today’s passing space will serve us well for capacity when we finally get to a reasonable mode share.

Robert Burchett
Guest
Robert Burchett

One horsepower equals the two strongest cyclists you may know, for an added weight of maybe 25 pounds. Not much power when mixing with cars, but a lot for a bike mixing with bikes and pedestrians.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Plus a 40lb kid and seat/etc for us parents (the bike is 70lb), so we’re generally 300 total and then some groceries but the power restrictions don’t account for weight. I’m in southwest, so we don’t have any bike paths, and motoring on the sidewalk isn’t allowed anyway. Yeah e-bikes are too fast for sidewalks and too many of our bikeways are actually sidewalks and mixing bikes and pedestrians is already a bad idea. I don’t think they are inherently a problem for mixing with bike traffic. Besides, the problem I see in SW is a lack of bike traffic, which I hope e-bikes can help solve. Also note that a 250W assist is enough for a simple commuter setup but will still get passed by roadies (with no bells) while you’re putting in a moderate effort.

rick
Guest
rick

How does Minn. manage the snow in their new bike infrastructure?

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

When I lived there (and the infrastructure for cycling sucked) they had small plows. They have plows. Lots of plows.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

So much broken in Portland and the mayor is in Italy? What is the value added with this field trip?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“What is the value added with this field trip?”

Who knows, maybe Charlie wants to learn how to be bold? Francis is nothing if not bold.
http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

he should be ashamed of all those helmet tickets… he wouldn’t even stand out if not for that useless law…

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

The officer writing them or the bike messenger who has 17 from this officer alone?

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

the “top cop” writing the tickets…

Dan
Guest
Dan

He strikes me as little more than a bully, picking on people he can easily catch rather than going after people who would do harm to others.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this cop hates cyclists. I can’t imagine anyone devoting that much of their career to ticketing cyclists as being anything other than anti-cyclist.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Just imagine if he actively applied that bias to racial minorities…

Dan
Guest
Dan

If he’s mainly going after the helmetless, he probably already IS applying it to minorities.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I wonder to what degree Seattle residents are in agreement with Seattle police officer Glen Mulkey’s citing of people riding bikes, that are not complying with laws requiring their safe use on the road.

In addition to bike associated citations for not having required equipment, Mulkey cites for moving violations. Seattle residents and other people driving and using the city’s roads and streets, have been obliged to share the road with the people he has cause to cite. People obliged to drive safe, and trying to do so by following road use laws, may be finding themselves supportive of the officer’s citing of people not doing either when riding bikes.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Oh yes, the residents of Seattle are wonderfully supportive, as evidenced in this comments section:
http://mynorthwest.com/992/2785479/Seattle-cyclists-complain-they-get-ticketed-when-they-break-the-law

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Wow, it’s like they distilled the worst parts of O’live and put them in one place.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Doubtful that comments to the story at the site you provided the link to, are reliably representative of fair minded Seattle residents with regards to their police departments’ citing of people riding bikes for traffic and helmet violations (writer of the story is a ‘Jason Rantz’, radio station DJ. A name like that is a virtual invite to readers to rant, rather than think through what they’re really saying before posting comments.).

Perhaps a more important and reliable indicator of how Seattle residents feel about their police department citing people for biking violations, would be letters they may have written to city hall.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Yeah, read the comments in the story about Minneapolis above. Same attitude, even there. Can’t judge a city by it’s online newspaper comments.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Good story, some helpful information, and citation related numbers. Featured citation recipient is a bike messenger; doesn’t want to wear a bike helmet despite Washington’s ‘all ages bike helmet required’ law…so he racks up 2500 dollars of citations instead.

Mulkey has also written a lot of biking related moving violations. No information in the story about what types of moving violations, citations were written for.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

To be fair, Minneapolis has a long way to go with parking to have a city that rivals most of Portland in terms of livability, walkability, bikeability, etc. Being from that area and just having visited earlier this year, I’ll tell you that things are incredibly spread out, parking lots are EVERYWHERE, and their transit just isn’t up to snuff. Land use is still quite in the template of 10,000 sq ft lots and big-box stores. Their Midtown Greenway is impressive but I would venture to say that Minneapolis and Saint Paul, save a few areas, are quite inhospitable to bikes. Good to see them taking steps to improve this reality but they’re starting from way behind PDX in just about everything except dedicated bike infrastructure.

MNBikeLuv
Guest
MNBikeLuv

To be really fair, the reason for some of the parking garages in Minneapolis is due to previous parking minimums, which the update parking policy is hoping to address. Even then, Minneapolis isn’t as bad as a lot of major cities as far as parking lot.

Another thing to remember is that actual city limits of Minneapolis are rather small (almost a third of Portland). A lot of times people think, “Oh look at this giant Cubs store with its giant parking lot,” or, “Look a this stroad, oh how stupid of Minneapolis,” when, in fact, they are actually in a neighboring city, like Edina. If you look at raw density per a mile, Minneapolis is much denser than Portland.

Minneapolis isn’t Copenhagen and it will take generations of work to get as bikable as some of us will like it be. The hard work has started and, unlike some cities, Minneapolis is actually funding projects to make itself better.

LC
Guest
LC

” If you ride a bike in Seattle, familiarize yourself with Police Officer Glen Mulkey.”
.
I’m trying to, but there is no photo of this person in the linked article. Any help?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Busting cell phone addicts; those that insist on fiddling with their phones while driving: Excellent idea for police officers to go plainclothes in order to catch violators.

Is it “…mocking…” of homeless people for officers to dress up as freeway exit panhandlers, in order to catch unsuspecting drivers, on their cell phone? (Oregonian story quotes PPD officer Peter Simpson as saying the department would be concerned about such a ploy possibly appearing to make fun of homeless people.).

Hmm. General ignorance of, or even rudeness from people driving, towards people at freeway exits and so on, seems par for the course for people trying to make few bucks this way. Doesn’t seem like mocking the homeless for cops to dress as homeless to catch cell phone addicted scofflaws. Does sound a bit like mocking of fools behind the wheel that won’t stay off their phones while driving. Or not wearing seat-belts, so the story says.

are
Guest

win/win, pay the homeless to issue the tickets

John Lascurettes
Guest

Based on the photo from the story, it doesn’t look like they’re playing “dress up” as homeless people. They’re simply wearing casual clothes and standing with a cardboard sign that says in handwriting, “I am not homeless. Checking for seatbelt/phone violations.” Basically, they’re hiding in plain sight. I don’t think this is a case of violating the homeless in any way except that they may be taking some choice money-making spots at the best hours away from them.

LESTER
Guest
LESTER

wsbob
Good story, some helpful information, and citation related numbers. Featured citation recipient is a bike messenger; doesn’t want to wear a bike helmet despite Washington’s ‘all ages bike helmet required’ law…so he racks up 2500 dollars of citations instead.

It’s not a Washington State law.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Yes it varies by jurisdiction in WA.

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/bike/helmets.htm

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

True, there is ‘no state law mandating helmet use’. Though the fact is, that all ages, required use of bike helmets by cities and counties, is in effect over a large area of Washington state.

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/bike/helmets.htm

All of King County, in which Seattle is located. All of Pierce County, Spokane, and a bunch of other cities, including Vancouver, across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon.

Maybe, no citizens of those other areas of Washington, or their respective police departments, are as interested as Seattle is, in bringing about compliance with the safety measures associated with bike related laws in effect in the state.

Captain Karma
Guest

Doh! I need to remember to NOT read Oregonian comments.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Friends don’t let Friends click on oregonlive… resist the urge!

Jon M
Guest
Jon M

You know we’ve become a society of over-sensitice, hand-wringing, do-nothing wimps when youre concerned about offending others by the way you dress undercover cops. This is yet another sign of civilizational suicide.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Not so fast, Jon M. I too wondered about the impersonating aspect of this kind of ends-justifies-the-means policing.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/03/21/hawaii-law-allows-undercover-police-officers-to-have-sex-with-prostitutes/

JonM
Guest
JonM

Not sure why you’re saying not so fast to me. Is it not clear that there are people “concerned” that we might offend the homeless if we have police officers dressing as though they are homeless in order to do their work?

In other words, are we not seeing people wringing their hands because cops might dress as a homeless person?

Maybe I misunderstood your response.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Wow, dig that kickstand-headset linkage and the kid seat rain cover! Would love to buy similar technology for my xtracycle from a local shop (hello SW LBSs, yeah that’ll be me riding past with a bunch of parts bought on amazon.co.jp.) Right now, I’ve just got a poncho and some rope to cocoon the boy.