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The Monday Roundup: Bad bike lane, Segway ban, tack justice and more

Posted by on August 1st, 2016 at 9:59 am

Come on Boston. You can do better than this.(Photo: Boston Globe)

Come on Cambridge. You can do better than this.
(Photo: Boston Globe)

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by The Portland Century, coming this weekend August 6th and 7th!

Happy Monday everyone. Here are the stories that caught our eye this past week.

Safety city: Portland is a national leader in teaching kids to ride bikes. So when are we going to build an entire play city for them to learn in?

Mobility panic in NYC: 18-month shutdown of major New York City subway line will be, “one of the largest transportation shifts in New York history.” Hope CitiBike is ready for the extra 200,000 trips per day.

What’s a few MPGs? Oh look, the U.S. auto fleet isn’t meeting its fuel-efficiency targets. Turns out the mandates from the Obama administration were really only “projections.”

Fatal collision in Battle Ground: A man died after someone drove into the back of him on Highway 503 about 20 miles north of Portland.

Bad bike lane in Cambridge: City crews in usually bike-centric Cambridge have cut a new bike lane in half to avoid a concrete block they say would be too hard to move. Of course the standard vehicle lane next to the bike lane retains a consistent width.

Sick of Segways: Two cities in Europe that are major tourist destinations have had enough with Segways.

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Still riding: A 90-year old man is riding the famous Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) because, “It’s just an enjoyable thing to do.”

Victim of success: A Washington DC program that gave seniors and riders with disabilities a simpler way to get around will be shut down — because people loved it too much.

Porsche tower: Given how common it is for people to crash their cars into homes, we’re not so sure it’s such a good idea to encourage folks to steer into their “personal sky garage”

Leg motors only: Turns out that the scandal over motorized bicycles in the pro road cycling peloton was a bit overblown.

Less accountable, less safe: A new study (funded by auto insurers) found that crashes went up 30 percent after red-light cameras were turned off.

Parking policy podcast: Here’s an easy way to take a crash-course in progressive parking policy: Listen to this great interview between urban policy expert Aaron Renn and parking guru Donald Shoup.

Seriously? The State of Oregon hired a major insider to audit the Department of Transportation — and then the Oregon Transportation Commission (ODOT’s governing board) was forced to cancel the contract after The Portland Tribune pointed out the absurdity.

Tack justice: It’s relatively common for bike haters to spread tacks on popular routes; but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of someone actually being caught for it.

Car culture clash: Guess what happens when a journalist and daily bike rider from Berlin is given the assignment to test-drive one of those behemoth Ford pickup trucks?

If you come across a noteworthy story and want to see it included here, feel free to send it to us.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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

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Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

The “Porsche Sky Tower” isn’t necessarily terrible- in 50 years cars will be museum pieces, hopefully.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Forty years ago, I shared that hope. In fact, my bike ride to a community college took me past the Hayward BART station where an old trolley was displayed in a cage. I looked forward to the day when there would be such displays of automobiles. Though much older, weaker, balder and wrinkled, I’m still waiting.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Those “displays” may be more like the scene where Taylor finds the statue of liberty buried in the beach sand.

Market Rate Parking
Guest
Market Rate Parking

Shoup makes good points about the high cost of free parking. But I wonder, if parking rates go up and only the rich fill up the spaces, then what is the public benefit? Granted, the city gets more revenue, but a valuable piece of public property is dedicated to the wealthy. The price of buying land and building and maintaining a street lane is probably far higher than even Shoup would ever charge. A true free market would be absolutely no public parking, only private lots and garages. In a pricey downtown like San Francisco, they would charge a fortune.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

You end up with denser, more walkable, bikeable cities. Fewer people are driving (primarily because it is too expensive), which makes walking, transit, and cycling much more popular.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It’s true that it would be a regressive system, but that is how anything that is economically rationed works. It sucks to be poor.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Compared to the current regressive system that penalizes those without a car….

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

People without cars are losers. I know this because I watch commercials and movies.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

In spite of my moniker, I’m selectively pro-car. I think they are fine tools for disabled people. In fact, I think the majority of parking spaces should be reserved for people with disabilities. As such, I find it to be just awful that a ride program for seniors and disabled people is being reduced so far in DC.

Even though I have friends who are missing limbs who enjoy getting around by bike, I recognize that they are a special bunch. We really need to re-allocate much of our car subsidies to serve these people instead of simply making cars the default choice of otherwise able-bodied people, imo.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Well said. Especially for SOV travel.

Abled
Guest
Abled

I see your argument. But it would probably be cheaper, better use of public space and better service to the disabled to offer a convenient system of subsidized drop off and pick up vans. Also, efficient public transportation can serve many people who are disabled and also can’t drive.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Ah, one of the promises of autonomous vehicles.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Yeah that sounds great. With poor to non-existent infrastructure for many citizens not so realistic. Would you want your family biking on horror corridors like 82nd or 122nd?

jered
Guest
jered

ALSO, given Portlands lack of MTB trails I can bike to cars are the only way to access trails – sad, sad, sad.

dan
Guest
dan

Yeah, but unlike bike commuting infrastructure, MTB trails are a nice to have…it’s like saying that there’s no good natural rock climbing in Portland. Anyway, isn’t there bus service to Mt. Hood / Sandy Ridge now, or did I imagine that?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

MTB trails can exist anywhere, unlike natural rock climbing. Our Parks Department just has no interest in allowing them.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

And, why not just get rid of all of our soccer fields, and turn them into parking lots? Then we can just bus soccer players an hour or two away to another town anytime they want to play soccer, and we’ll have more parking lots. Win-win?

Pete
Guest
Pete

Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard that line of thinking before:
http://usatodayhss.com/2016/santa-clara-youth-soccer-league-continues-battle-with-49ers-nfl-over-field-use

Paul
Guest
Paul

There is such a truly HUGE, humongous amount of infrastructure devoted to cars here and around the world. I think those in charge and who stand to gain will do much, kill even, to keep cars alive long past their sell-by date. I can see it already, in our attempts to go from gas to electric, and now to the infant stages of robotic, self-driven shuttle pods in which people don’t have to know how to drive.

Caitlin D
Subscriber

Knoxville’s Safety City looks awesome! I wish we had something similar in Portland.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Knoxville has MTB trails too.

Andy K
Guest

Red light cameras are pure genius. They reduce fatalities AT the signalized intersections where they are installed AND at signalized intersections throughout the entire city (if there are enough of them).

Gwenevere
Subscriber
Gwenevere

I might be crazy, and I can’t find anything online about it… but I distinctly remember going to a “Safety Town” at OMSI as a kid (Buckman Elementary, circa 1997-2000?). Does anyone remember that being a thing? Was it just a one-time exhibit and I happened to go to it?

I remember it being really cool and getting to ride little cars around a track while having to look closely and stop completely for bicyclists and pedestrians (aka our friends who were also playing in Safety Town!).

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

G,
PBOT formerly had one on a rubber mat that it trucked to different school gyms and rolled out.

Jason H
Guest
Jason H

“He was not wearing a helmet” Jeez Columbian, that is some old-school victim blaming there.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Surely they were referring to the driver. /s

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Same story reports the age of 18, as that of the person driving his car into the person riding the bike. If the paper is doing any blaming…and at this point with regards to this collision, I doubt it is…by the greater number of details about the person driving it provides, it sounds like the Columbian would more likely be blaming the collision on the age of the person driving…or that they ran into the person riding, from behind…or that it was almost 11:30pm.

I’d like to know why this collision occurred. Police investigation may discover some of the reasons it occurred. I also would like to know the cause of death, beyond the simple reporting that someone driving a car, ran into the person riding the bike. That means, including among other any other injuries discovered, whether any head injuries sustained, were within the limits of protection a bike helmet is capable of providing its wearer during a collision.

Dave
Guest
Dave

I will reflexively blame drivers for just about anything, but anyone riding on Highway 503 at night without randonneur-level lighting really is asking for it. I live in Vancouver, love to ride in north Clark County, and I speak from a place of knowledge.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Hi Dave, not to be overly sensitive about it, but I think “asking for it” is a little strong. It’s like saying that a woman is “asking for it” by the way she’s dressed. Nobody is asking to be run over, regardless of where or when they are riding, or how they are outfitted.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Washington has a basic speed law too. Sounds like it’s enforced as much there as it is here, which is to say ‘not at all’.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

It is enforced, when it is observed. The chief benefit of such a law is as part of the investigation after a crash has occurred. evidence of the speed of the vehicles is compared to conditions at the time of the crash to gage if the driver was following the law. It’s also not a bright line, but a squishy cloud – ‘too fast for conditions’.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Is that so? It’s so rare to hear follow-up in these cases that I guess I don’t really know if that law is being used.

Seems like it might have been applied here:

http://bikeportland.org/2011/02/12/man-killed-while-bicycling-on-tv-hwy-in-beaverton-47839

or here:

http://www.columbian.com/news/2015/may/27/bicycle-crash-battle-ground-clark-county/

or in a number of other stories I’ve read here.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“Bad bike lane in Cambridge: City crews in usually bike-centric Cambridge have cut a new bike lane in half to avoid a concrete block they say would be too hard to move. Of course the standard vehicle lane next to the bike lane retains a consistent width.” bikeportland monday roundup

Boston Globe reports that Cambridge’s transportation engineers, rather than simply city crews, found themselves having to devise the idea to pinch the bike lane in order to go around the concrete structure. Saying ‘structure’ rather than simply ‘concrete block’, because as the Boston Globe story reports, the structure contains “…a venting system for an underground pump room that’s connected to a nearby fountain and art display, and it couldn’t feasibly be moved. …”.

To todays’ roundup’s other point, whether the width of the main lane of the road could reasonably have been reduced in order to allow the bike lane to retain its width past the structure, a look at the larger photo on TBG’s site, may help to answer that question. My answer: possibly. Looks like a fairly wide main lane, 12′, maybe 13.5′.

But in the picture, look at the segmented lines on the pavement, to the left, ahead and behind, of the guy riding the bike: isn’t that a bike lane providing the opposite direction of travel? So…slimming down the main lane of this street at the point the structure is located, would effectively bring main lane traffic closer to people riding in the opposite direction bike lane. For people riding in the opposite direction bike lane, does that sound fun, or safe?

Maybe there’s better infrastructure ideas that could reasonably be used to get rid of the current bike lane pinch point, as well as maintaining safety and functionality for the other lanes of this road as well. If anyone reading here has got ’em, let’s hear ’em.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Good observations! IIRC, Main ST is already split with a divider previous to this and is one-way (like most of Kendall Square) in the direction the pictured cyclist is riding. Take a look at this Street View image from 2013 – it looks like they cut into the original island to add this lane: https://goo.gl/maps/JBM2CVySCCH2

Looking at the older image, my guess is that the block is more than just a concrete square, but provides some other type of lighting and/or watering and/or retention for the roots of those trees. My guess is that, while certainly not an ideal solution, it likely wasn’t so easy as “cut the block out of the way” and that several fairly smart folks scratched their heads over this. My niece lives not far from here so I’ll have to check it out in person when I visit her this fall.

Also, most of this original ‘infrastructure’ was laid out by colonial cows… 😉

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It provides ventilation for an underground vault of some sort.

Robert Burchett
Guest
Robert Burchett

Ok! Thumbs up on ‘possibly there was a better way to go about it.’ Could this be true of other bike lanes? 🙂

SE
Guest
SE

Lester Burnham
Yeah that sounds great. With poor to non-existent infrastructure for many citizens not so realistic. Would you want your family biking on horror corridors like 82nd or 122nd?
Recommended 2

Fully agree about 82nd, but 122nd ?? I ride it often and find your characterization “horror corridor” to be ultra hyperbole.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

I grew up in Knoxville and I’ve often wondered why we don’t have something like Safety City here but one thing I will say about Knoxville’s SC is that unless things have changed since I lived there, its not a public park so it sits completely empty most of the time outside of scheduled events.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Oh bloody heck – helps if I read the whole article. Vents you say! It’ll all be covered by snowplows in a few months anyway…

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Or maybe the plows will scrape it away, and the problem will be solved by spring!

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Vents for a fountain pump room that doesn’t operate in the winter?

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

it’s a very obvious metaphor for how pedestrians and cyclists get the leftovers.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Should have placed a little bridge there. Pinch problem solved!

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Mini ramp?