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The Monday Roundup: Sidewalk delivery robots, Tacoma teen Tazing and more

Posted by on May 16th, 2016 at 9:39 am

geo orbital

Insta-ebike.
(Photo: Geo Orbital)

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

E-bike wheel: The Geo Orbital replaces the front wheel of a conventional bike, is currently Kickstarting for $699 and will retail for $950.

Biker Tazed: A 15-year-old Tacoma girl who was bicycling through a mall parking lot was stopped for “trespassing” by a uniformed off-duty police officer working as a security guard. After she tried to bike away, he threw her to the ground by her hair and then used a Taser on her.

Sidewalk bots: Rolling package-delivery robots may be on the way, but whose pavement will they move on?

NYC bike parking: Driven by a Portland-style city mandate, it’s arriving in new buildings (often paid), and it’s popular.

Crash recovery: The BBC has a narrative about the process of trying (and sometimes failing) to get back on the bike.

SF housing: A San Franciscan manually entered 31 years of apartment listings in the San Francisco Chronicle to create a fantastically accurate model of the three main factors behind housing costs since 1948: population, housing unit count and total wages paid. (If you’re interested, I wrote a thing on Medium about some lessons from this data.)

Basketball biker: Sad Blazers fans can at least respect the fact that Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston bikes to work.

Big-kid bikes: Physiology and engineering students in Boulder are creating a bicycle optimized for people who weigh 300 pounds or more.

Optional viaduct: After predicting that the temporary closure of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct would increase commute times by 50 percent, traffic analysis firm Inrix now says additional delay on freeways turned out to be five minutes.

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Transportation futurism: Three overlapping technological changes will create shared self-driving solar-powered cars, writes David Roberts, and they’ll transform the U.S. over the next 50 years.

Streetcar tracks: They trouble British people who bike, too.

Bike survey: Six percent of Americans (and nine percent of Americans 18-34) don’t know how to ride a bike. (That compares to 40 percent who don’t have a driver’s license.)

Dangerous Metro: On Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he might shut down the Washington Metro due to its fatality rate of 0.48 per 100,000 weekday riders.

Dangerous metropolises: The next day, Foxx realized that the automobile fatality rates of every major metro area in the country are far higher and shut down the nation’s roads, too.

Infrastructure costs: The American Society of Civil Engineers says the country will need to find $1.4 trillion in new taxes over the next 10 years to cover decaying roads and transit.

Bike-path prosperity: A 25-mile path outside Ankeny, Iowa, has become a “bicycle-tourism mecca” and spawned a string of businesses that “pack in thousands of riders on busy summer weekends.”

Mother’s Day: 111 moms celebrated by shutting down 111th Street for 111 seconds.

Road love: It’s the emotion that’s missing from city streets, writes bike commuter Jason Gay, so he’s pledging to unilaterally embrace it.

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.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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32 Comments
  • Avatar
    rick May 16, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Bad planning and rent control has led to the housing crisis in San Francisco. Plus, neighborhoods bulldozed by freeways.

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    Jack G. May 16, 2016 at 10:02 am

    I’ve been looking at getting an electric bike for my commute, and I’m very dubious of many of the kickstarted projects. This geo wheel seems like it will be far more trouble than it’s worth. Why on earth would you want to remove the spokes?

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      bikeninja May 16, 2016 at 10:51 am

      I think the wheel design is to be able to make it super easy to install so the battery can be housed in the wheel. A real wheel with a rotating hub would not be able to spin inside the width of the fork ( 100mm) of a normal bike. So they came up with a design that spins the rim, but leaves the center with the motor and battey motionless. Makes a quick and dirty conversion easy but probably has issues in the long haul.

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        Eric Leifsdad May 16, 2016 at 11:12 am

        There are already a few fully-contained wheels with spinning battery/controller (most of them rear wheel single-speed) and they are a better idea than this spokeless nonsense. All the unsprung weight of a hub motor and without even the suspension of spokes? Nope! That extra impact on controller and battery can’t be good. Changing a flat tube? Hard cornering?

        You can get a hill topper front wheel with smallest li-ion pack for $699 already. You’ll spend 2 minutes with some zip ties because the battery pack hangs on your frame instead of inside the re-invented wheel.

        Something with no wires and less battery: zehus, flykly, copenhagen wheel.

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          GlowBoy May 19, 2016 at 10:06 am

          Clean Republic has made a similar well-regarded front-electric-wheel kit for several years now.

          When I still lived in Portland and looked into the e-bike option to shave 20 minutes off my commute over the West Hills, this one topped my list. I have unusual fit issues, and would have difficulty making an off-the-rack e-bike work for me as a daily commuter, so the idea of retrofitting my own bike was very appealing.

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        resopmok May 16, 2016 at 12:37 pm

        Like the fact that you now have 3 sets of bearings/bushings to rotate the wheel instead of one. It seems like the majority of the load will still rest on the set closest to the ground, giving it the shortest life span. I would think this is especially a concern for uneven pavement surfaces, considering there seems no real structure than can flex to help absorb shock and promote longevity of the bearing/bushing mechanism.

        I’m really not familiar enough with mechanical engineering to give an opinion about whether the specific design has accounted for all aspects of longevity, or whether it will end up being another fad. My gut tells me the latter, though.

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    bikeninja May 16, 2016 at 10:03 am

    I have thought the same thing about the package bots as the article. Over the last year various news stories have popped up about pizza delivery robots etc. These all seem to move around at slow cycling speeds and it is not apparent exactly how they would get to the customers house. Maybe it is not a bad thing if Amazon and Google end up championing seperated bike lanes, smooth sidewalk connections, and eliminating gaps. Sad to think that what it might take to bring harsher penalties to dangerous drivers is the legal backlash that will occur when they run down the property of huge corporations as opposed to vulnerable road users. Perhaps the robots will come equiped with lasers to preemptively blast dangerous drivers.

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    Jack G. May 16, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Streetsblog had a funny response to the potential DC metro shut down:

    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2016/05/11/usdot-to-shut-down-nations-roads-citing-safety-concerns/

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    Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 16, 2016 at 10:18 am

    The “40% of americans don’t have a license” link doesn’t seem to support that. It gives number of drivers, but not overall numbers. It might be possible to interpolate against census data, but that data is from 2000, so it would require getting the right census data.

    Here are better stats from FHWA: “In 2009, 87 percent of the driving-age population (age 16 and over) have a license.” I’d expect that percentage has dropped slightly but should be approximately correct.

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      Evan Manvel May 16, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Though there’s a huge part of the population that’s under 16. The quick google found 23.1% of Americans are under 18. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/00

      Presuming roughly 7/8 of those are under 16, that means 20.1% of Americans are under 16.

      Add that to the roughly 80% of those 16+ who have drivers licenses:
      http://www.umich.edu/~umtriswt/PDF/UMTRI-2016-4_Abstract_English.pdf

      And, back of the envelope, we’re talking:
      Zero x 20% of the population + 80% with licenses x 80% of the population =
      64% of Americans have drivers’ licenses.

      If you think it’s closer to 87%, then you’re talking 70% of Americans have driver’s licences. Of course, that doesn’t mean they drive — my mother-in-law, for example, and my mom, for another.

      Which all adds up to: more than a third of Americans cannot drive.

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 16, 2016 at 11:22 am

        The original quote, and my discussion, is about the percentage who have a license, not the percentage who drive. Certainly it’s different, but the metrics for the latter are difficult to find and hazy at best.

        It’s like talking about how many cars Americans have or how many parking spaces there are- entirely different that utilization, but much more concrete.

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          Todd Boulanger May 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm

          Bike Survey: And the other issue at hand…even for those 94% of adults who know how to pedal and balance on a bike, I would assume a high percentage of them (80%) do not know how to use a bike as a safe urban form of transportation: rules of the road, carrying a load, night time lighting, bikeway network knowledge, flat repair, etc.

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      lop May 16, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      2014 data (2013 in MA)

      http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2014/dl1c.cfm

      671 licenses drivers per 1000 residents, 844 per 1000 residents 16 and over.

      702 and 868 in Oregon.

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm

        so it hasn’t changed- my numbers gave 87%, yours give 86.7%.

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          lop May 16, 2016 at 4:06 pm

          Doesn’t the 87% refer to the whole country? The 867 I mentioned was just for Oregon, the national number was 844. And referring to the whole population – not just 16+, the number of licensed drivers dropped from 685 to 671. Seems a noticeable drop over 5 years.

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    S May 16, 2016 at 10:22 am

    >>Dangerous metropolises: The next day, Foxx realized that the automobile fatality rates of every major metro area in the country are far higher and shut down the nation’s roads, too.

    Uh-Huh , that ain’t gonna happen

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      Eric Leifsdad May 16, 2016 at 11:54 am

      It’s ok, the roads will be crumbled into single-track soon enough.

      Meanwhile, hugs are a good response to a near-dooring.

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      Todd Boulanger May 16, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      …these vision zero safety closures where implemented with an Executive Order from President Obama (I wish)…who then stepped into Marine One for his work trip.

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    bikeninja May 16, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Future PR Release: Amazon announces it’s new fleet of “peacemaker” security drones that will be tasked with protecting its fleet of sidewalk and bike-lane delivery robots. Automobiles which threaten or damage Amazon’s robots will be neutralized with one of its new eco-safe missiles.

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      lop May 16, 2016 at 4:02 pm

      When I was little that’s what I thought this sign meant. It made long car trips a little nerve racking.

      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_uNkopWSg5oY/TNp281ElUUI/AAAAAAAAA24/EVzX3E65LcM/s1600/Speed%2BLimit%2BSignage02.jpg

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        Dan A May 17, 2016 at 8:37 am

        Ha ha.

        Have you ever seen aircraft doing speed enforcement? I wonder how that would work? I’ve definitely seen these signs around, but they are so weird. And why would we need a warning if this was actually happening?

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. May 17, 2016 at 9:14 am

          There are markings on the road at one mile intervals. An officer in a helicopter can then time you driving your car from marker to marker to determine speed. Though, I’ve never actually seen this done.

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    Spiffy May 16, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Road love: as a driver it’s easy to forgive a slow rider in front of you… as a rider it’s hard for me to forgive lethally dangerous activity all around me… so no, I won’t be passing on any love to drivers until I can see at least 10 in a row not driving dangerously…

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    John Lascurettes May 16, 2016 at 11:59 am

    In other news, the famous “cutters” quarry, AKA Rooftop, form Breaking Away might be getting actively filled in. 🙁 No reputable news sources picking up on it yet that I can find, but here’s a quote from the Facebook posting:

    5/16/16 Update: Eyewitness accounts confirm that stone, dirt, and trees have been moved in what is perceived as an effort to keep unwelcome visitors out. While it sounds as though a few trees and bigger pieces of stone (including the one that gives Rooftop its moniker) have been pushed in, it is hard to be certain how much more material is anticipated to be thrown into the iconic void.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10107106256990889&set=a.10100403690966929.3020241.6800293

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    soren May 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    David Dansky of Cycle Training UK, who teaches cyclists how to regain confidence after crashes, says being overly cautious on a bike can put you in greater danger.
    After an accident, he says, very often cyclists feel intimidated riding in front of another vehicle, and so stick to the left-hand side of the road.
    “But when you do this your risk of various things increases significantly,”

    It’s sad that in the UK (but not Scotland) riding on sidewalks is illegal. The sidewalk is perfectly fine place for more cautious cyclists of all ages to ride.

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    Kyle Banerjee May 16, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Wheel design strikes me as a variation of the Copenhagen wheel which was supposed to take the world by storm but I haven’t seen it in the wild yet.

    Solid core tires are a lousy idea that people keep digging up every few years to foist upon less experienced cyclists. There are multiple reasons the concept never catches on.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 16, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      The Late Great Sheldon Brown has a fantastic write-up on solid tires that you think would be the nail int the coffin for their use, but apparently not.

      Airless Tires

      Of all the inventions that came out of the bicycle industry, probably none is as important and useful as Dr. Dunlop’s pneumatic tire.

      Airless tires have been obsolete for over a century, but crackpot “inventors” keep trying to bring them back. They are heavy, slow and give a harsh ride. They are also likely to cause wheel damage, due to their poor cushioning ability. A pneumatic tire uses all of the air in the whole tube as a shock absorber, while foam-type “airless” tires/tubes only use the air in the immediate area of impact.

      Pneumatic tires require pumping up from time to time, and can go flat, but their advantages overwhelm these difficulties.

      Airless tire schemes have also been used by con artists to gull unsuspecting investors. My advice is to avoid this long-obsolete system.

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