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The Monday Roundup: Refugee rides in Berlin, backback biking tips and more

Posted by on November 30th, 2015 at 10:17 am

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

Biking refugee: “Soon I want to ride along the Berlin streets like the locals,” said a law student, pushed by warfare near her home in Syria to seek asylum in Germany, after a bike ride with a group of wecloming Berliners.

Highway origins: One hundred years ago this month, an auto-industry-backed road trip movie kicked off the 40-year campaign to build an interstate freeway system.

Backpack biking: If you must do it, here are two tips for doing it right.

Induced demand: Take it from California’s state DOT: new highways don’t cut congestion, they increase driving.

Predictive prevention: Microsoft scientists are developing software that can analyze video data in order to detect potential collisions before they happen. (In other words, they’ve figured out how to explain Vision Zero in a way that gets sci-fi fans excited.)

Bike architecture: The Guardian has a gallery of highlights from around the world.

Housing supply: A “tsunami” of 20,000 new apartments in Seattle are slowing rent hikes and might even start driving rents down in the central city where most new buildings are going up.

Walking awards: street-safety organizer Kristi Finney-Dunn, citizen activist Chris Smith, state Rep. Shemia Fagan, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon and Metro trail planner Mel Huie took home placques from Oregon Walks’ annual celebration and fundraiser.


Self-congesting cars: If we allow self-driving cars to circle the block during a shopping trip or drive home midday, we’ll be need fewer parking spots but still jam roads horrifically. (Don’t miss the smart comment thread.)

L.A. bikelash: The city seems to be retreating slightly from its bike-network vision, despite continuing political support.

Highway removal: Syracuse, Birmingham, New Haven and Buffalo are the latest cities to consider it.

Driving myth: The idea of the car as “a kind of beleaguered chariot of the poor … just doesn’t stand five seconds of examination of the actual facts,” says London’s cycling commissioner.

Driving drop: Despite the recent rebound in driving prompted by the stronger economy and lower gas prices, miles driven per person remains back at 1997 levels.

Development cliches: Here are “nine things people always say at zoning hearings, illustrated by cats.”

Breathing pollution: When you bike out of your way to avoid auto fumes, the additional distance offsets some of the benefits of not being near cars … so lung-friendly bike routes would be both car-lite and direct.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

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

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  • Charley November 30, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    What?! Increased supply helps satisfy demand, thus lowering price? Someone needs to tell Portland’s anti-growth/lower the rent crowd.

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    • Chris I November 30, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      But all the new houses are so expensive! There’s making more, new, expensive things can make the old, crappy things cheaper!

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  • soren November 30, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    A “tsunami” of 20,000 new apartments in Seattle are slowing rent hikes and might even start driving rents down in the central city where most new buildings are going up.

    Most of those apartments would be illegal in Portland due to repressive zoning law that bans multi-family housing development in much of central portland. Seattle, on the other hand, has some of the most progressive multi-family friendly zoning code in the USA. I am ashamed of how conservative and classist Portland’s housing policy is.

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  • GlowBoy November 30, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I think Portland would need a *lot* more apartments than are currently being built in order to stave off further rent increases.

    It’s going to take a long time to catch up from 50 years of bad zoning policy, resulting in no apartments being built until recently. What makes apartments affordable is that they are 10-20 years old or more. Portland does not have a decent supply of gently to moderately aged apartments. Seattle does.

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    • Charley November 30, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      We’d better get started building those soon-to-be-old apartments, then!

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    • wsbob November 30, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      “…What makes apartments affordable is that they are 10-20 years old or more. …” glowboy

      If apartments 10-20 years old and older are ‘affordable’ because they’ve become dumpy, or the general quality of tenant has declined, that’s not a good means to bring about lower rents.

      Building high quality, multi-family housing neighborhoods in the central city is a tough challenge. Proliferating older inner city neighborhoods with a lot of multi-family multi-story complexes or towers, doesn’t automatically make for a good neighborhood. And as always, property owners have to be able to charge enough rent so they can pay the bills and hopefully make some profit. I haven’t yet read the bizjournals story. If I do, it’ll be interesting to see whether, besides supply and demand factors, there’s reported in the story, any other sound business reason rents could go down because of more apartments being built.

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      • soren December 1, 2015 at 11:10 am

        “that’s not a good means to bring about lower rents.”

        speak for yourself, bob. i have zero desire to live in a twee pergraniteel (pergo-granite-steel) “luxury” apartment. i prefer dumpy.

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      • GlowBoy December 3, 2015 at 1:27 pm

        10-20 years old is not “dumpy!” Just moderately depreciated.

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    • Ian November 30, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      Why is rent cheaper in Portland then?
      Seattle is way behind the curve too

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      • GlowBoy December 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm

        Rent is cheaper in Portland than Seattle because incomes are lower and it is a smaller metropolitan area.

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  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson November 30, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    That guardian photo gallery is missing the Tilicum crossing!

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    • gutterbunnybikes November 30, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      Tilikum Crossing is a mass transit bridge with bicycle/pedestrian access – it isn’t and was never was intended to be “bike” specific. A point too often forgotten on this board.

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  • soren November 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    lung-friendly bike routes

    The chronic toxicity and cellular damage caused by vehicle pollution would never be accepted in a school or work environment.

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    • Bald One November 30, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      I thought the air pollution on bike routes was an evocative article, even if it leaves me asking more questions than it answers.

      With the freeways and major arteries, and heavy polluting cars/trucks/commercial vehicles seeming to be pretty commonplace around the center hub of Portland, this issue of air pollution clearly needs some more discussion and solutions.

      I think about it a lot when choosing routes, but it is always hard to factor in those few bad vehicles that can get you with a cloud of black fumes at a stop light or slow up hill. It’s hard to hold your breath riding up hill, and maybe worse to do it as it results in deeper breathing when you take a breath. One can try to choose between benzene/lead from auto exhausts and particulate matter from diesel exhaust. One of my new routes (over the new Orange line Lafayette Ped Bridge sometimes has me literally walking directly over the top (about 15′) of an idling diesel locomotive’s smoke stack – talk about holding your breath!

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    • Eric Leifsdad December 1, 2015 at 3:27 am

      Whenever I cross the highway, I wish for a bike gasmask with the filter intake faced forward, maybe with a fan for going uphill. That would really round out the “other” look when paired with a helmet and camera though.

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  • John Lascurettes November 30, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Predictive Prevention link goes to the cats article.

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  • mark November 30, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    “Protecting” neighborhoods from the “evils” of multi family dwellings hurts everyone else (except a few white hairs in that neighborhood) in the long run.

    Let’s just call it what it is: “protecting” neighborhoods from “them people”.

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    • Anne Hawley
      Anne Hawley November 30, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      Look at my picture. Now could we please stop generalizing about groups of people based on a physical characteristic? Thank you.

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    • wsbob December 1, 2015 at 12:26 am

      ““Protecting” neighborhoods from the “evils” of multi family dwellings hurts everyone else ((………..)) in the long run. …” mark

      For sure, there are plenty of residential neighborhoods throughout the world that aren’t built exclusively on the single family dwelling development style….two, three, four, five story complexes, and even higher towers. Those of them that are good neighborhoods: ‘why are they good neighborhoods?’. And does their being multifamily dwelling neighborhoods, necessarily result in lower apartment rents?

      It’s kind of exciting to read that cost of renting an apartment has gone down because ‘finally, there is a greater supply than there is demand.’. It’s possible I suppose, but I doubt it’s that simple, or that certain. How long will Seattle’s cost of renting an apartment, stay flat, or maybe even go down? Less to rent than elsewhere, means more people will be drawn to the area, depleting the ‘tsunami’ of new apartments. All filled up. Logical decision then for property owners: raise them rents.

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  • B. Carfree November 30, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    The juxtaposition of the L.A. story (removing planned bike lanes because of fears of impacting automobile traffic) and CalTrans acceptance of induced demand would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. Please don’t just laugh at SoCal and assume this isn’t going on all over Oregon as well.

    Road space in most urban areas is a zero-sum proposition. Any space allotted to active transportation is unavailable for sedentary transportation. We’re overdue to give active transportation equal or greater access to our public road space, at least if we take seriously the varied threats of climate change, cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, brain damage from particulates and such.

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  • B. Carfree November 30, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    The Lincoln Highway article is fun stuff. Many of parallels to the current state of cycling, including lots of aspirational labelling (the Lincoln Highway wasn’t a highway any more than LAB’s “Bike Friendly” locales are bike friendly) and infighting amongst various advocates. The parallel between supporters of farm to market type roads and other local pavement vs the long-distance road folks is similar to the dispute between the urban short-trip riders and longer distance riders, although I didn’t see any evidence of name-calling, marginalization and such amongst the car folks. I guess they were just more genteel than we are.

    My 50 mile commute used to be along the dregs of the Lincoln Highway from Davis to Sacramento. I always hated the two LH markers that I would see because they reminded me that it would be a long slog to undo the car-driven mistakes we have made. Forty years later, we’re no closer to success than we were when I started passing by those things. Perhaps it’s darkest before the dawn.

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    • Spiffy December 1, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      speaking of bike-friendly, the HUB on Powell is scary to get to via bicycle… plenty of bike parking, nice frames and bike part art to look at inside, but scary to get to since you have to be along Powell at some point…

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  • Aixe Djelal December 2, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Re: Biking Refugee – Excellent on so many levels: social integration, freedom of movement, building confidence and, of course, the sheer joy of cycling!

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