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The Monday Roundup: Chicago’s Loop links up, car seat problems and more

Posted by on December 21st, 2015 at 9:15 am

Bus Rapid Transit -Washington

Chicago’s new Washington Street.
(Image: CDOT)

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Holly Go Bikely, handcrafted, bike-inspired jewelry made right here in Portland.

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

Chicago buses: The city’s new downtown bus-only lanes, which include some protected bike lanes too, are opening this week.

Car seats: They aren’t tested at more than 35 miles per hour, but medical workers never insist that you to avoid freeway driving with your infant.

Auto-dependent age: Fatal collisions are deeply concentrated among Americans over age 85, but American seniors who don’t drive face social isolation, shorter lives and worse health.

Freeway park: Seattle is looking seriously at a downtown park that would cap Interstate 5.

Retractable bollards: These peekaboo posts are a common Dutch tool that hasn’t really been adopted much in the United States.

Emissions-free compost: An Austin company will haul away your organic trash by bike for $4 a week.

Traffic deaths: Their continuing drop means that Americans are now just as likely to die by firearm.


Collision causes: Very few major injuries of people on bikes result from dark clothing, missing lights or traffic signal violations, according to a UK study. It’s almost always about street movement — and among adult bikers, it’s almost always the fault of someone driving.

Induced congestion: A $2.8 billion widening of Houston’s now-23-lane Katy Freeway into the world’s largest highway hasn’t stopped travel times from soaring, three years after opening, to longer than they were before construction.

Catastrophic bikeways: A former British treasury chancellor in the House of Lords says bike lanes have been “doing more damage to London than almost anything since the Blitz.”

Seattle waterfront: The whole idea of Seattle’s new freeway tunnel was to eliminate a barrier to the waterfront, but the city is now planning to replace its viaduct with an eight-lane surface highway that might not even include transit lanes.

Danish parking: Even Copenhagen, where only 10 percent of households drive daily, has three parking spaces per motor vehicle.

Blocked housing: The more people want to live in a neighborhood, the likelier it is to get rezoned for less density, especially in overwhelmingly white areas — even in Bloomberg’s New York City.

Subsidized housing: The mortgage interest deduction has no effect on homeownership, goes mostly toward paying rich people to own bigger homes and dwarfs federal housing subsidies for poor people.

Living close: Facebook is offering $10,000 bonuses to employees who buy or rent homes within 10 miles of its headquarters.

Autonomous cars: California’s first set of rules will still require a licensed driver behind every wheel.

Commute alerts: A London company is working on an app that would wake you up early if traffic is bad.

Road rage: A London man claims that a bus driver accelerated toward him and crushed his bike after he leaped clear after he “stopped directly in front of the rail replacement bus as it came to a halt in traffic in order to get the driver’s attention following an earlier near miss.”

Health grant: Fourth Plain Boulevard in central Vancouver will get $250,000 from Kaiser Permanente to improve biking and walking.

Illegal proposal: A man who stopped freeway traffic to ask his girlfriend to marry him has received a criminal charge for what might be the least violent crime in history.

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.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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Pete9wattsEl BiciclerowsbobAnne Recent comment authors
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Very few major injuries of people on bikes result from dark clothing, missing lights or traffic signal violations, according to a UK study. It’s almost always about street movement — and among adult bikers, it’s almost always the fault of someone driving.

As I have stated many times here, there is very little evidence that hi-viz or lights have a measurable impact on the safety of urban cyclists. IMO, the incessant appeals to common sense when it comes to “safety” prophylaxis are a symptom of bike stockholm syndrome.


Regardless of where you stand on gun issues – More firearms deaths than traffic is blatantly untrue. Far more people are injured or killed by drivers than shooters. Traffic deaths are up and except for some select populations, firearms deaths are down. Over half of firearms deaths are suicides, the majority of the remaining deaths are related to drug and gang violence. Therefore, gun deaths are concentrated in a relatively small population of the clinically depressed, gangs and drugs, and abusive relationships. If you don’t belong to these population groups, you chance of dying by gunshot is minuscule. The same can not be said for dying by driver.


More from the London study:

“The main cause of crashes seems to be ‘failed to look properly’, whereas very few cyclists are injured or killed acting illegally, such as failing to use lights at night or disobeying traffic signals”

Portland should pass an Idaho stop ordinance as part of its Vision Zero reforms.

To quote SF Supervisor Mar:

“When there’s an anti-bicycle bias within the police — and it’s not just one or two cops—it’s counter to Vision Zero…Unsafe bicycling is an issue but compared to the culture of speeding in cars, it’s like night and day.”

Evan Manvel
Evan Manvel

As a side note on the Katy Freeway — the addition of single occupant vehicle and toll lanes to the Katy Freeway cost $2.8 billion. This was $1.63 billion more than the original 2001 price tag of $1.17 billion, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Megahighway projects almost always run hugely over cost.


As a hypothetical elderly American driver you are much more likely to killed by your own driving.

Loss of visual acuity, loss of fine motor skills, dementia, physical inability, increased likelihood of impairing prescription drugs and many more. Yet despite all of the practical safety reasons the elderly should NOT drive the inability to travel in a 1st world nation with a 3rd world public transportation system puts the elderly at the mercy of anyone they can BEG for a ride everywhere.
So the elderly drive, far past when their health and skills would dictate the should no longer, because not to do so is almost its own death sentence.

So really, the elderly in America stand to be the demographic with the most to gain in quality and quantity of livable life span from self driving cars if a functional public transportation system isn’t built.

In the transition from here to there there will many confusing situations where autonomous vehicles are rear-ended by impatient human drivers and no one will be able to easily guess if it was a slow, cautious and safe computer driving system or just a slow and cautious elderly driver who might not be as safe.

Human in general suck at speeds over 25-30mph.


The Houston freeway story is no surprise to anyone who’s been on 26 before and after the lanes were added. It’s just as backed up now as it was before there was a third lane in each direction. Traffic is like a gas: it expands to fit the available space.


The guy who stopped traffic on the freeway to ask his girlfriend to marry him may not have been violent per se, but it certainly had the potential to cause serious accidents when a typical tailgating driver failed to realize soon enough that the car in front had stopped. In my book this is just as dangerous and self-centered as driving 40 mph on a greenway…


To think how many Portlanders (well, Vancouverites and Greshamites) believe that a Katy freeway would solve all their problems.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero

I would love some strategically-placed retractable bollards. Even if they only went up on weekends. Emergency vehicles could carry transponders that would lower any bollards in their path. It’s kind of funny that the article mentions the danger to bicyclists of having bollards in the roadway when in these parts, the only places we like to put bollards are on MUPs, where most drivers already know they don’t want to drive.


Even if one accepts the interpretation of the numbers that guns now kill as many people as cars, it appears to be only have been a temporary situation and is probably no longer the case.

Indications are that traffic deaths are up again for 2015, after having bottomed out in 2014. For much of the 21st century, improved vehicle safety and reductions in impaired driving were enough to outweigh the increase in distracted and aggressive driving, and the drop in driving post-2008 helped to perpetuate the decline.

But now people are driving more miles due to cheap fuel and a stronger economy, and continue to drive distracted at higher and higher rates. Improvements in vehicles’ safety systems are no longer enough to mask the problems, and those of us not in cars are paying the highest price.


You know…maybe I am being a total hypocrite here…but could we avoid talk of firearms? Seems like such a polarizing issue…and it doesn’t move things forward.


The pretense: it’s a $10k bonus to promote home ownership and active transportation.

The reality: it’s a stunt. If employees move to Silicon Valley (for all that $10k will help), they will be car-dependent and not rely on Facebook’s controversial coach service. If employees don’t move, then Facebook can claim that it tried to prevent gentrification.

One way shifts the cost of transportation, the other shifts the blame for gentrification. Facebook is simply throwing its employees under the (shuttle) bus.


Seems like Chicago’s new Loop Link is still a work in progress. After enduring months of construction-related hassles, it’s finally up and running in a week when downtown is filled with people who aren’t used to being downtown and co-existing with high density traffic. We’re hoping it won’t take too long for everyone (passengers and peds, bus drivers, cyclists and everyone else) to adjust to the new operation and that there will be enough enforcement for things to function fairly smoothly in the near future.


wsbob: CA’s statewide bicycle lobby just weighed in on the Bike Yield ordinance. They may appreciate your perspective using the last link provided. For those interested in supporting opinions, there’s a link for that too.

Over their two-day crackdown last summer, the SFPD spent 114 officer-hours ticketing
people biking. During a four-week period that included the crackdown, the SFPD
invested zero hours on traffic enforcement at Market and Octavia, one of the most
dangerous intersections in the country. These misplaced priorities conflict with the
city’s adopted “Vision Zero” goal of eliminating traffic deaths and severe injuries.

To refocus police priorities, our local partners at the San Francisco Bicycle
Coalition are pursuing a city-wide Bike Yield Law, which would make “citations for
bicyclists for failure to stop at a stop sign the city’s lowest traffic enforcement
priority, provided that the bicyclist first slows to a safe speed and yields the
right-of-way to any other vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection.” Though the San
Francisco proposal references the Idaho law that permits people approaching an
intersection on a bike to treat a stop sign as a yield sign, and a red light as a
stop sign, SF’s legislation would not override state law which requires people on
bikes follow the same rules as people driving. The law discourages “policing for
profit” and targeting people who rely on bikes. Encouraging the Police Department to
focus on preventing dangerous behavior keeps them focused on the city’s Vision Zero

To be clear, the California Bicycle Coalition is not pursuing a state law change at
this time. But we welcome San Francisco’s experiment to provide in-state data on how
such a change reduces collisions and improves safety, and if it encourages people to
bike more.

We support our local partners at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and their
pursuit of a local Bike Yield Law. If you do too, email Mayor Ed Lee asking him to
support the law today with our easy email system:

If you don’t support this local law, we want to hear from you. Write us a note by
following this link