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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.

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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 – michael@bikeportland.org

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

78 Comments
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    soren December 21, 2015 at 9:59 am

    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.

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      dwk December 21, 2015 at 11:00 am

      You can’t prove a negative, there is no way of knowing how many accidents were avoided because the cyclist was visible. I will continue to light up and be as bright as possible.

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        9watts December 21, 2015 at 12:05 pm

        The tendency of people getting hit while sporting high viz does (bikers, flaggers, etc.) seems to cloud your hopes, but I also wear it when I remember.

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        Scott H December 21, 2015 at 4:47 pm

        Indeed! Much the same way we can’t count the number of bikes that avoided would-be theft because they were properly U-locked.

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      wsbob December 21, 2015 at 11:39 am

      I’m regularly provided with plenty of evidence…first hand words of appreciation from people driving…that vulnerable road users using bright colors and various other means of heightening their visibility to people driving, helps enable them to drive with greater caution towards vulnerable road users.

      That’s a good enough reason for me to take measures to have myself be more visible to people driving, when I myself am a vulnerable road user. I don’t feel I really need to know collision statistics in order to make a responsible decision about this.

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        9watts December 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm

        You’ve mentioned that here before. My interpretation of their appreciation is that it is just as likely that this reassures them that others (not members of their tribe) are being responsible, so they don’t have to (pay such close attention in case someone isn’t wearing high viz).

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          wsbob December 21, 2015 at 6:29 pm

          Sorry, but I can’t accept your interpretation as representative of the situation people driving, express appreciation for having help with from vulnerable road users. Your interpretation, unfortunately, sounds like nothing more than bitter and mean criticism of people that drive.

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            9watts December 23, 2015 at 8:53 am

            “bitter and mean criticism of people that drive”

            I think the onus is on you to convince us that people in cars celebrating the high-viz habits of vulnerable road users is not exculpatory.

            Implicit in the stance you defend so consistently here is the expectation that people not in cars adorn themselves in a manner that permits those in cars to devote no more attention to seeing them than they are used to doing, much less throttling their speed to the point where they could see them (with or without special attention-grabbing clothing) in time to avoid hitting them.

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              wsbob December 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm

              For anyone reading here, that may be wondering what watt’s fancy choice of the word, ‘exculpatory’ means, the word means this: ‘Clearing of guilt or blame’.

              So watts is saying he thinks people driving, want people biking, to wear hi-vis gear when riding, solely for the purpose of relieving people that drive, from guilt or blame for collisions they’re involved in, in which a person riding, also involved in the collision, was not using hi-vis gear.

              Sorry watt’s, but your reasoning doesn’t add up. If it were only bad drivers that were asking that people biking wear hi-vis gear, there may some substance to your thinking. People that are good drivers also ask that vulnerable road users use hi-vis gear.

              Encouraging people that bike to do things that will make themselves more difficult for people driving to see them, doesn’t sound at all supportive of biking.

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                Pete December 24, 2015 at 11:15 am

                Count me somewhere in the middle. When I ride at night I always wear hi-viz in addition to several bright taillights. I’ve never had anyone thank me for being visible. I have had people honk politely at me before cutting me off though, so that I won’t run into them.

                While waiting in a left-turn lane once I had an older couple roll down the window to tell me that they couldn’t see me in the shade because I was wearing black and I surprised them when I “popped out”. They went on to say that I was going to get myself killed by being “invisible”. I had signaled and ridden across two lanes to get into that left turn lane, and when I looked they were nearly a quarter-mile away (and moving slowly) and the only car within my sight at that time.

                Mind you it was an incredibly bright and sunny mid-day (!), and I note that neither of them were wearing sunglasses. I was wearing a black and white Pearl Izumi thermal short-sleeve and black lycra shorts with bright orange side panels. The jersey wasn’t even entirely black, and ironically I’d have worn my convertible hi-viz jacket if it hadn’t been dirty – solely for the thermal benefits (it was a cool early spring day). This was only a few weeks after my neighbor Stan Wicka was driven over in a bike lane (in the daytime) by a texting girl, and I remember Stan as having a bright yellow jersey when he rode, so I found the lecture particularly insulting.

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                wsbob December 26, 2015 at 12:20 pm

                “…I had an older couple roll down the window to tell me that they couldn’t see me in the shade because I was wearing black and I surprised them when I “popped out”. …” pete

                Nice of them to have made the effort to offer their impressions as to your visibility to road users when you were in the shadows. Very difficult visibility conditions can accompany bright sunny days. Condition such as, sun glare, and deep shadows.

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                Pete December 27, 2015 at 5:32 pm

                “Very difficult visibility conditions can accompany bright sunny days. Condition such as, sun glare, and deep shadows.”

                Exactly – this is why high contrast lenses should be made mandatory for all drivers on bright, sunny days. You should urge John Davis to get to work…

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      Pete December 21, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      I think it depends on your surroundings. If you’re in a dense, streetlighted urban environment, it may be true that hi-viz won’t make a big difference. Anecdotally, I ride in very shady suburban and wooded settings with lots of cloud cover, streetlights few and widely spaced, and the sun low in the sky these days. Yesterday I rode early, before (and during) a rain storm, and there were lots of other cyclists doing the same. I definitely noticed those cyclists that were wearing true hi-viz clothing from much further away, as well as those with flashing taillights and headlights. (I think most of us know there’s also a big difference between hi-viz materials that build reflectivity in and just bright-colored clothing).

      As far as who’s ‘at fault’ closer to home, the numbers vary widely (as does in how they’re gathered and presented):
      http://www.planningforreality.org/cyclists-at-fault-in-majority-of-car-vs-bike-collisions-in-california

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        Moleskin December 21, 2015 at 1:59 pm

        It’s hard to compare the statistics in the Guardian article and the PlanningForReality link you provide I think; the PFR statistics only cover stop sign or red light violations (the title of the PFR article seems misleading to me – it should perhaps include “at junctions” in there at least?).

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          Pete December 21, 2015 at 2:52 pm

          Good eye! The author of the PFR article is extremely biased against cyclists (this is well known). I was trying to find it, but a deeper analysis of the CHP data determined that in most of the incidents where the cyclist was at fault, the cyclist was drunk, riding the wrong way, or both (~70% IIRC). The CHP has also repeatedly come under fire for their handling of bike-related incidents; for instance: you are cycling at a good clip and can’t stop when a driver cuts you off, you are reported as being “at fault” because you have hit the rear or side of the car. If you are hit from behind by a car, you may also be found “at fault” for the collision not being Far To the Right. There are other examples… (I think it may have been calbike.org that did the deeper analysis of the incidents, but I’m not certain).

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            Moleskin December 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm

            Wow, interesting, thanks! I don’t know that website at all, but a brief scan made me a bit suspicious of the agenda though I’m equally not familiar with the issues discussed.

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              Pete December 28, 2015 at 9:25 am

              Just FYI, in contrast to the CHP data, here’s a report local to silicon valley that found motorists more than 50% at fault in collisions (and yes, the local police were involved in putting this report together):
              https://www.sccgov.org/sites/sccphd/en-us/Partners/Data/Documents/Bicycle%20Transport%20and%20Safety%20Final%202015.pdf

              Gotta love statistics! 😉

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                9watts December 28, 2015 at 9:34 am

                Pete,
                if I reading this right, Santa Clara Co. divides adult cycling into (a) commuters and (b) recreational riding. That strikes me as questionable, because at least for me neither of those two categories covers the majority of my cycling. I would say that 90% of my cycling is running errands, visiting others, going places, 8% is related to work but not commuting per se, and ~2% is recreational.

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    Tim December 21, 2015 at 10:14 am

    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.

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    soren December 21, 2015 at 10:17 am

    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.”

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      soren December 21, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Sorry about the bold

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        q`Tzal December 21, 2015 at 10:24 am

        I think the bold turn-off tag was missed between “Subsidized housing: and “The” in the main article.

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          John Lascurettes December 21, 2015 at 11:21 am

          Was going to say the same thing. It’s in the main body of the story that the bold was not closed.

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      wsbob December 21, 2015 at 11:49 am

      I expect that residents of cities nationwide, dislike road vehicle road users whether they’re driving a motor vehicle or riding a bike, disregarding or failing to use the road responsibly with regard to vulnerable road users, first and foremost, those vulnerable road users that walk, or are children. That’s a consideration that likely will be made, if a question of giving people that bike, special exception to having to stop at stop signs, ever again comes before residents of Portland, any city in the valleys, or the entire state of Oregon.

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        wsbob December 21, 2015 at 6:46 pm

        Sorry for the early morning run-on sentences. What I was basically trying to say, was that I think neighborhood residents generally tend not to like vehicle road users being less than considerate of people walking. Same of handicapped people and of children.

        That’s why neighborhood residents called on the police to do enforcement details at the stop signs regulating traffic on the popular route for commuter biking in SF…’the wiggle’. Also, one of the reasons that despite how attractive it is to some people that bike, the so called ‘Idaho Stop’ isn’t likely to be made a legal exception for people that bike, to the stop sign laws of Oregon, or any other state in the union, for quite some time to come.

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        Pete December 21, 2015 at 9:23 pm

        Residents of cities nationwide dislike others using their roads no matter what mode they use.

        I work from home now and visit offices across the country (and world). No matter what (USA) office I’ve ever been in, the subject of “bad traffic” almost always comes up (at lunch in Houston two weeks ago two colleagues were bitching about the Katy Freeway). I often fight to hold back a chuckle, and to those who notice I ask, “You do realize that you are the traffic, yes?”.

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          wsbob December 23, 2015 at 12:35 pm

          “…I often fight to hold back a chuckle, and to those who notice I ask, “You do realize that you are the traffic, yes?”.” pete

          They’re traffic, to what degree? Many neighborhoods, have among their residents, people that don’t drive much, if at all. You’re laughing at them for objecting to the fact that traffic congestion is adversely affecting the livability of their neighborhood, and their city?

          I think most people understand that the streets in their neighborhood are public ways, and generally welcome anyone within or outside the neighborhood, that conducts themselves with consideration for people living in the neighborhood. Street use such as racing along at unsafe speeds, disregarding stop signs and lights, is not neighborly behavior. This is basic understanding that seems to be lost on some people, including six of San Francisco’s supervisors.

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            Pete December 25, 2015 at 10:48 pm

            I’m sorry, but the people who bitch the most about traffic are being hypocritical. If they’re caught up in the plethora of single-driver cars that clog our streets during rush hour, they are indeed assisting in the cloggage. And maybe some don’t speed in their own neighborhoods, but speeding and distracted driving are pushing road deaths back up again – especially for those outside the car. In my neighborhood there are two sets of people who speed regularly: 1) my neighbors, and 2) people who have figured out they can bypass three sets of lights, probably informed by Waze.

            All around the bay area, and especially in SF and San Jose, pedestrians are being killed at a higher rate than in the past. The main point to the stop sign debate that you seem to miss is that statistics have repeatedly shown that bicyclists ‘running’ stop signs are not doing the damage on our streets that speeding drivers are, and the SF police is simply being asked to put their enforcement where it’s needed most, but instead they are doing ‘focused’ actions on bicyclists at certain innocuous stop signs that they know cyclists won’t stop at (the three-way intersection I showed you in the Wiggle video a while back, for instance). Redwood City police do it at a certain stop sign near Canada/Farmer’s Hill Road on Sundays, too. These are well-known situations, and they are known also by Mayor Lee and his supervisors.

            Look, you and I agree that cyclists should not get a ‘get out of jail free’ card for disobeying laws, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on modified stop rules, the same way that both motorcyclists and law enforcement have accepted lane filtering in California. You guys had your chance to catch up with Idaho and you blew it, now it’s up to SF to take a stab at it.

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              wsbob December 26, 2015 at 12:11 pm

              “…that statistics have repeatedly shown that bicyclists ‘running’ stop signs are not doing the damage on our streets that speeding drivers are, …” Pete

              Neighbors apparently do not like streets passing through their neighborhood being used by road users, including people riding bikes, that fail to stop at stop signs, for the deterioration that action causes to neighborhood livability, as well as safety.

              I think that objection is reasonable, and that enforcement of stopping at stop signs by the police for those reasons, should not be effectively eliminated, citywide or countywide, as could be the result were San Francisco supervisors to pass the proposal in question.

              It’s San Francisco: I’m curious to see whether the board does successfully pass this proposal, and if they do, whether or not the mayor will continue to feel he must veto the proposal. If a majority of residents countywide, support this proposal, that definitely would be significant. Somebody…take the challenge and show something indicating that they are so supportive.

              In response to issues of this type, is an example of where efforts of some biking advocates really work to undermine support from majority road users, for improvements to conditions for biking. If there’s any indication that a majority of Oregon residents favor some relaxation of enforcement of the stop sign law people that bike are subject to…it’s not visible.

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                Pete December 27, 2015 at 5:53 pm

                Mayor Lee will indeed continue to veto the proposal in order to back Greg Suhr and the LEOs he has to work closely with. It’s politics. But here’s the thing: if the ordinance were to pass, police could still do targeted enforcement to ticket bicyclists who are not yielding to pedestrians or traffic. Nobody’s right of way is taken away by an “Idaho Stop” law, and there still remains a legal requirement to stop when traffic is present.

                Again, what remains at issue is the enforcement priority, and the board of supervisors in addition to a majority of residents are telling the chief to focus on the top five causes of injury and death in the city. The citizens you continue to say are represented by the bicyclist enforcement actions were actually only a small vocal minority in the Haight.

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                wsbob December 27, 2015 at 11:16 pm

                “Mayor Lee will indeed continue to veto the proposal in order to back Greg Suhr and the LEOs he has to work closely with. It’s politics. But here’s the thing: if the ordinance were to pass, police could still do targeted enforcement to ticket bicyclists who are not yielding to pedestrians or traffic. Nobody’s right of way is taken away by an “Idaho Stop” law, and there still remains a legal requirement to stop when traffic is present.

                Again, what remains at issue is the enforcement priority, and the board of supervisors in addition to a majority of residents are telling the chief to focus on the top five causes of injury and death in the city. The citizens you continue to say are represented by the bicyclist enforcement actions were actually only a small vocal minority in the Haight.” pete

                SF’s mayor is accountable, at least, to residents of the entire city, not just the police department. Due to San Francisco and San Francisco county’s unusual form of joint governing, the city’s mayor may be accountable to the residents of the entire county as well…this latter bit is something I’m not certain of at this point.

                If a majority of the city’s residents favor the proposal that six of the eleven supervisors are supportive of, that’s news that’s not been reported. If there is such a story, I think it’s one people would want to read: Post a link to that story, or forward it to bikeportland’s staff for the next story here, on this subject.

                It most likely was a small number of vocal neighbors along The Wiggle (route popular with people biking.), rather than a citywide or countywide majority of residents that requested police do stop sign enforcement at that location. Does that mean residents citywide and countywide do not object to people biking being effectively given an exception to road user’s obligation to stop at stop signs? Rather than expecting or hoping people will accept such a notion at face value, there needs to be at least some proof that a majority of city and county residents feel this way. Show us that proof.

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                Pete December 28, 2015 at 10:39 pm

                “…people biking being effectively given an exception to road user’s obligation to stop at stop signs?”

                I suggest you acquaint yourself with the Idaho Stop Law and the verbiage of this ordinance. Nobody anywhere is being given any exception to road users’ obligations.

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                9watts December 28, 2015 at 10:42 pm

                This intentional misinterpretation is a recurring theme with him.

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    Evan Manvel December 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

    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.
    http://www.blueoregon.com/2011/03/costly-risks-crc/
    http://www.blueoregon.com/2013/09/costly-risky-crc-back-now-twice-risk/

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    q`Tzal December 21, 2015 at 10:36 am

    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.

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      Dave December 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Bravo, the elderly are now another group whose lives are endagered by our dumb-ass hick country’s gutter transportation culture. Sure wish we were willing to spend $ as lavishly on mass transit as on war.

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        9watts December 21, 2015 at 12:36 pm

        I agree with your over all point, but keep in mind that mass transit is not and will never be a substitute for the car. Bicycling and walking are potentially viable substitutes for the point-to-point convenience the car offers. This is a crucial distinction.

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          Chris I December 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm

          Walking and public transit are both extremely important for the elderly. When you combine good transit and an ability to walk short distances, you have something that is a viable replacement for both cars and cycling, and improves the health of the user.

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        q`Tzal December 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

        In America all members of society near public roads are endangered by the the entitled culture of driving that that states as a matter of “fact” that all people MUST drive.
        Because of this the “logical” extension of this point is that “we don’t need public transportation because everybody can drive”. This bit of reasoning is why we (as a larger society) don’t fund public transportation

        This of course ignores the elderly, handicapped and children. (*)
        Children are dependent upon their parents as a matter of nature and have no expectation of having been able to drive.
        The handicapped either were never able to drive (thus never becoming used to independent travel) or have acquired blatant disabilities that obviously limit or restrict their abilities.
        The elderly are a different matter. Where is your house? How far away is the grocery store? The doctor? The pharmacy? Friends and family? You build a life upon the assumptions of being able (effectively required) to use an automobile then time simply takes it away from you.
        But this doesn’t happen obviously, no, you lose the ability to drive safely slowly in ways that are not obvious to you. Finally the choice comes down to living or dying, all because we make an assumption that a 6 year old can see through.

        (*) it also ignores people who have had their driving privileges revoked <sarcasm> but they are criminals and in Murica we don’t care about them type `o folk round `ere. </sarcasm>

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      Pete December 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      I mentioned this before, but I was watching an interview on a public station not too long ago with a Ford marketing exec. She was saying one of their primary goals is to enable people driving well into their late years. I didn’t pay much attention, but I remember her talking about modern medicine and saying “the first person to live to 150 years old has already been born.”

      Reminds me of South Park’s “Grey Dawn” episode…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P7_t4-WsB8

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      B. Carfree December 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      I’m always pleased when an elderly person dies in a single-vehicle crash. It’s not that I hate old people, I’m well on my way there, it’s that I’m thankful that someone who is too old to drive won’t be taking anyone with him/her.

      I’ve had a few elderly motorists nearly take me out. On occasion, I’ve ended up in the same store as them. More than once I’ve sidled up to them and said, “It’s time.” Without fail, they ask what it’s time for. I tell them that, considering they nearly killed me a few minutes ago and still don’t recognize me, it’s time for them to hang up the car keys for good. None of them has taken this well, but I hope it starts the wheels in their minds turning so that when someone else tells them they may take it seriously.

      I’m reminded of an old Dear Abby column. Everyone knew grandpa shouldn’t be behind the wheel, but no one had the guts to tell him. At a family gathering, grandpa put his car into drive instead of reverse and took his grandson’s legs off. The letter writer hoped to give others the courage to confront elderly relatives before they, too, had a tragedy.

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        David Feldman December 22, 2015 at 8:04 am

        Okay, here goes: Car thieves have a skill that many of the rest of us don’t have. I need a key, like most people, to start a car–skilled thieves don’t.
        Don’t imprison car thieves, instead give them a list of makes, models, plate and VIN numbers of cars belonging to people who for whatever reason absolutely should not have access to a vehicle. Tell ’em do whatever they want with the car after they steal it, just keep the present owner from using it. Now, that would be a genuine community service!

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        wsbob December 22, 2015 at 10:48 am

        “I’m always pleased when an elderly person dies in a single-vehicle crash. It’s not that I hate old people, …” b carfree

        You’re always pleased when an elderly person dies in a single-vehicle crash. Pleased?

        I could respect your being relieved when other people aren’t killed in single vehicle crashes, but your being pleased when someone dies driving a motor vehicle and crashing, because they may have been too old to be driving, unfortunately seems part of the unconditional animosity directed towards any person driving, that some people apparently enjoy indulging in.

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    PNP December 21, 2015 at 10:42 am

    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.

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      Opus the Poet December 22, 2015 at 11:28 am

      That is a pretty good description of induced demand.

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    dan December 21, 2015 at 10:47 am

    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…

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      mark December 21, 2015 at 11:37 am

      Every person should be able to stop their vehicle to zero regardless of conditions in front of them. That is the law.

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        dan December 21, 2015 at 11:42 am

        I know that, and you know that, but do you think that most drivers know that? Or if they know it, that they observe it?

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          mark December 21, 2015 at 11:44 am

          I would hope they recognize that pedal right in the center of the car under the steering wheel.

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    mark December 21, 2015 at 11:37 am

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

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    El Biciclero December 21, 2015 at 11:45 am

    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.

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    GlowBoy December 21, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    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.

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      Granpa December 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      It pains me to say that gun deaths and car deaths are at levels that are acceptable to the society at large.

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        9watts December 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

        I might be tempted to rephrase that as thanks to shock radio and Oregonlive comment echo-chambers we have entered a phase of our public discourse where coarse, callous rhetoric gives the (I suspect rather false) impression that we as a society, a people, find this sort of thing acceptable. But as the clever survey question (recently featured here in the context of Vision Zero) asking people how many traffic deaths would be o.k. if the death were someone in their own family, the answer was predictably zero.
        The key I think here is to resist the temptation to mistake the gutter for the best we can do or what we’d like to make of our situation if we recognized that it was up to us.

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          Granpa December 21, 2015 at 2:06 pm

          Nice reply. Now if we can get gutter dwellers, click baiters and shock jocks to prioritize the public good.

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            9watts December 28, 2015 at 9:43 am

            “Now if we can get gutter dwellers, click baiters and shock jocks to prioritize the public good.”

            We could also ignore them, recognize the damage they (are capable of) inflict(ing), and marginalize their attempts.

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          El Biciclero December 23, 2015 at 12:04 pm

          “…thanks to shock radio and Oregonlive comment echo-chambers we have entered a phase of our public discourse where coarse, callous rhetoric gives the (I suspect rather false) impression that we as a society, a people, find this sort of thing acceptable.”

          I think there is a certain amount of “that only happens to other people” mentality that actually does make it acceptable for many. Maybe not acceptable, per se, but expected. If you asked “How many people would you expect to starve to death in the world this year?” you’d get a range of answers all greater than zero. If you ask, “How many of your family members do you expect to starve to death?” the answer would be zero every time. Does that mean starvation is acceptable to that person? I would guess not, but it shows that they feel like there is nothing to be done about the problem for those “other people”, and they understandably don’t really care as much about a kid in Eritrea as they do about their own kids. It is the notion of what can or should be done about a problem that I think gets people riled up. If we asked our imaginary person whether they would be willing to skip three meals a week so that a kid in some other part of the world could have only three meals in a week, would they accept that “solution” to starvation?

          Whether or not someone finds a certain level of violence of any sort “acceptable” or not is a different story from what they think should be done about it. As long as one’s own personal circle hasn’t been affected, an acceptable “solution” is usually one that promotes one’s preferred lifestyle. If your son or daughter gets run over while crossing in a crosswalk in a school zone by a speeding driver, the solution will be “More Speed Enforcement!!” To keep your own family from starving, you’re more willing to give up some of your own meals, as it were. On the other hand, if a homeless guy gets run over in an unmarked crosswalk by a speeding driver, the answer will be “What?” or maybe, “We should crack down on jay-walkers!” (even if the victim wasn’t jay-walking). You will be less likely to give up your license to speed than to crack down on “other people”.

          If you get T-boned in your Corvette by an inattentive driver who ignored a STOP sign, adding a signal to the intersection will look like the obvious solution. If a bicyclist gets T-boned by an inattentive driver who ignored a STOP sign, then we need to enforce stricter “visibility” laws—make those bicyclists be seen!

          Should we make stricter driving laws, or ban bicycles from the roads? Should we lower speed limits or crack down on jay-walking, “distracted” pedestrians? Should we spend money on [well-designed, convenient] protected infrastructure, or issue more stern warnings to bicyclists to watch the heck out! Can’t you see I’m drivin’ here?

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        Chris I December 21, 2015 at 3:11 pm

        Until it happens to someone you know.

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        Pete December 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

        Saw a news blurb that gun sales have jumped dramatically since the San Bernadino shooting, with a San Jose gun shop owner interviewed. He said there’s a huge jump in people coming in to ask what he recommends to keep themselves safe. When asked by the interviewer what he recommends, he said “I tell them to get a dog.”

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          El Biciclero December 28, 2015 at 4:21 pm

          The surge in gun sales after an “event” is always interesting. I’ve heard two explanations:
          * I don’t feel safe anymore; I’m gettin’ me a gun!
          * Well, now the government is sure to outlaw guns, so I’d better get one before they do!

          The second reason is more interesting, because what it reveals is that people are either extremely illogical, or they don’t really believe the government will really outlaw guns (otherwise they wouldn’t be able to keep any guns they rush out to buy), it will just make them harder to obtain. My personal theory on that reasoning is that the government knows that it is much harder to take away something already granted than it is to restrict new access to some commodity or resource.

          I wonder whether there isn’t a certain amount of this principle at work in transportation projects. Opposing forces want to hurry and build specialty infrastructure (car-centric OR bike-centric) just to get it done so that it then becomes hard to remove or retro-fit even if that kind of infrastructure falls out of favor and becomes harder to build in the future. This is sort of the problem we have now with streets where a road diet or total re-purposing might be beneficial, big-picture-wise; it always looks like a take-away from motorists and is therefore very difficult to sell. I just wish cities would decide what kind of infrastructure they want (ahem, can afford) to maintain, e.g., rails, “plain” streets, bike-only, bus-only, bike-ped (ugh), etc., and plan/build for that rather than attempting to cater to short-sighted “value extraction” interests.

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            Pete December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

            Interesting point about road infrastructure. From what I’ve seen there’s definitely a push among the people I’m on BPAC with to do road diets on more popular routes, which goes against the city council tendencies only because they take huge amounts of flack from drivers for them. I’m watching Portland’s neighborhood greenway progress closely, because we also have the opportunity to take that approach instead of the much higher impact of road diets.

            On the other hand, I get the sense that projects aren’t quite so proactive as you suggest. From what I’ve seen there are budgeting cycles for bike/ped funds, and they often get banked until regulations require them to be spent or lost, and then the latest “Master Plan” gets dusted off and a best-fit algorithm done based on affordability. Grants are often discussed, but not as often written for. What remains are the piece-part improvements we get accustomed to.

            One thing our engineer has been working with us on is phasing in bike lanes based on resurfacing/repainting schedules. After all, paint is cheap. To be fair, though, having a system to keep inventory of shortcomings and needed improvements is key to success. As we saw recently on Lombard, though, even when it’s there it’s not always accurate.

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        wsbob December 23, 2015 at 12:19 pm

        “It pains me to say that gun deaths and car deaths are at levels that are acceptable to the society at large.” granpa

        I don’t think society finds such deaths as acceptable, but is at a loss as to exactly what to do about them. Increasingly, it seems more people are coming to the conclusion that extremism in defiance of common morality and ethics, is a ‘reasonable’ way to address their personal issues. Feel bad?…so they think it’s fine to tank up on booze, drugs, and drive into a bunch of people, or blow up people at parties and at cafes. After awhile, even though those things aren’t acceptable, people do get used to them happening.

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      B. Carfree December 21, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      We had over a decade of declines in per person miles driven that ended in 2014. It is a crime that we don’t tax gasoline up to some moderate price, like $5/gal, and adjust the tax as the cost of oil changes. This turns out to be a capital crime, payable in the blood of the public.

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    mark December 21, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    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.

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    Champs December 22, 2015 at 10:32 am

    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.

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      Pete December 22, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      You don’t have to be car-dependent to live in Silicon Valley. (You do have to be wealthy, employable, and/or have bought a house more than ten years ago – I’m the latter two). The fact that almost everyone here (including myself) chooses car ownership is unrelated to whether you could get by without one. Yes, public transportation sucks here (relatively speaking), but my favorite quote is, “bike commuting is the best-kept secret in Silicon Valley.” I can introduce you to a few people who live car-free here – one even by choice! 😉

      But yeah, the $10K bonus is pure desperation, and as you pointed out won’t put a dent in home ownership here, though it may buy you three months of rent in a studio. Whatever housing affordability and wage disparity issues you think you have in Portland, they are way amplified here.

      Since they started to grow, Facebook and Menlo Park have been in a tug-of-war. MP has fought to balance allowing their expansion, which increases city revenue, and restricting it to preserve the city’s livability, which appeases their wealthy residents. Also, East Palo Alto started gentrifying before Zuckerberg hit puberty, even before Ikea razed an entire neighborhood there for a mall. Something about being down the street from Stanford probably had the most to do with it.

      Here’s another article on Facebook:
      https://momentummag.com/bicycles-as-business-tools-at-facebook

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    Anne December 23, 2015 at 10:17 am

    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.

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    Pete December 28, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    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
    policy.

    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:
    EMAIL SF MAYOR ED LEE (https://calbikestatefunding.good.do/sfyield/emailedlee/)

    If you don’t support this local law, we want to hear from you. Write us a note by
    following this link
    (https://docs.google.com/a/calbike.org/forms/d/1E4nczViS6M269ENAygCrgx3RxphwGYgPEDQVvyWY93o/viewform?usp=send_form)”

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