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The Monday Roundup: Beast mode on a bike, transpo bill under Trump, no love for e-bikes, and more

Posted by on January 30th, 2017 at 9:39 am

This week’s Monday Roundup is brought to you by the Worst Day of the Year Ride, coming up February 12th!

Beast Mode on a bike: I’m not a fan of the NFL these days but I am a big fan of what Seahawks retired star running-back Marshawn Lynch did in Scotland on a bike last week.

Change or die: The neighborhood bike shop faces major threats from innovative options like mobile bike repair and e-commerce, so says the NY Times.

Phone blocker: A Dutch company has created a device that will block your cell signal while biking over 10 mph.

E-bikes lacking charge: Another sign that America’s bike culture needs a refresh is how we still haven’t embraced electric bikes. This LA Times article points to a lack of safe infrastructure and a macho cycling culture as just some of the reasons why.

NYC goes big for Vision Zero: Seems just a few weeks ago we shared a link about NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio not doing enough for Vision Zero. That was then, and now he’s announced an additional $400 million for the program — bringing the total funding up to $1.6 billion through 2021.

NYC voters looove Vision Zero: We’re not sure if this is related to the item above, but a new poll from TransAlt shows NYC residents — even those who mostly drive — overwhelmingly support safer street measures.

The problem with the Women’s March: Los Angeles-based Streetsblog writer Sahra Sulaiman explains why she didn’t take part in the Women’s March, and it’s an indictment on white privilege in the urban planning sector.

Race and enforcement: A survey conducted by an insurance company showed that white people have a much easier time than African-Americans in talking their way out of traffic tickets.

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Horrible irony: A man walking across the country barefoot to raise awareness of climate change was struck and killed by an auto user in Florida. Ugh.

The sexism in cycling is real: Former champion racer Nicole Cooke testified in a doping trial that the sexism in cycling manifests itself in the enforcement of drug use.

Motors in the peloton? A big new report that broke on 60 Minutes says the use of motors in the pro peloton is an actual real thing.

Profiling fears are real: Another piece of the racial discrimination puzzle is research that shows 20 percent of black and hispanic men say a fear of being unfairly pulled over prevents them from cycling.

No future for freeways: The Congress for New Urbanism has released a list of “Freeways Without Futures” and a guide on how to dismantle them.

Where the protests hit the road: A growing number of states want to make it more dangerous and difficult for people to block freeways and other roads during protests. “It’s time we get tough on people who block freeways,” said a state rep from Minnesota.

Trump and transpo infra: Trump’s team has unveiled a list of 50 “emergency” infrastructure projects. There are several transit projects on it, but none for Oregon.

But an infra deal looks unlikely: Given the growing public opposition to Trump’s other policies, a deal on transportation that includes Democrats looks extremely unlikely.

Undercover cops on bikes: In an effort to crack down on dangerous drivers, cops in London will go undercover by pretending to be mere bicycle riders.

Thanks to everyone who flagged great stories for us this week.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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58 Comments
  • Avatar
    Todd Boulanger January 30, 2017 at 10:03 am

    NYC Vision Zero – $1.6m new total is great news …for any small city (like Portland etc.), but the bump of $400,000 only brings the annual investment for ALL NYC residents (no visitors or NJ workers) to $47.62 per capita per year…that like what…springing for coffee and donuts for the office once a year?

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      fact check January 30, 2017 at 11:10 am

      NYC allocated$400,000,000 in additional funding for vision zero reforms.

      Portland’s additional funding for vision zero: $0

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      SaferStreetsPlease January 30, 2017 at 11:14 am

      That was 1.6 BILLION. And a bump of 400 MILLION.

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      paikiala January 30, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      1,600,000,000/8,000,000 residents = $200/4 years = $50 per year per person.

      An equal expenditure in Portland budget would be about $33M.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty January 30, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I’ve also heard that young women also have an easier time (as is supported by the article).

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty January 30, 2017 at 10:38 am

    After reading the article about sexism and drug enforcement in sport, my conclusion is that drugs have so profoundly fucked up elite-level sport that it will be very difficult to undo the damage. Maybe a person needs a powerful steroid to deal with a severe allergy, but it still gives them an advantage. It is neither fair to disqualify that person, nor allow them to compete. Given the individuality of disease and response to treatment, how can a committee judge what the proper medication/dose for a condition is?

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      Middle of the Road Guy January 30, 2017 at 11:29 am

      It is amazing how many of these world class athletes have asthma.

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      wsbob January 30, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      “…Given the individuality of disease and response to treatment, how can a committee judge what the proper medication/dose for a condition is?” h kitty

      Sorting out how various aids intended to treat or deal with a person’s health or physical condition, from how those aids might give unfair advantage in a competitive sport, is apparently very challenging.

      I think about the pro-golfer from some years back…casey, I think was his name. Excellent golfer, couldn’t walk the course, needed to use a cart….other golfers considered that a potentially unfair boost to his overall stamina and energy to play. Also, in the olympics, not the para-olympics, wasn’t there a sprinter that was an amputee, used those carbon fiber staves to run on? Not sure about that one. He could run like crazy. People couldn’t decide for sure whether the overall balance was fair or not.

      Medications and enhancement substances in pro sports, have become terrible. I wonder if it’s really possible to even separate the two from each other. To me, it seems what it all basically gets down to, is that some people can’t play, or shouldn’t play. Because they either don’t have the gift or talent to do it without outside aids. It can be hard to rely on having the people paying to see a good show, uphold that ethic.

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        Eric Leifsdad January 31, 2017 at 7:56 am

        Professional sports are a very serious game.

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    Kyle Banerjee January 30, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I have toyed with the idea of e-bikes for many years. I have ridden many and may someday get one. I do not believe the reason is infrastructure. Here is why I don’t have one:

    1) Range. These things are only good for short hops — I wouldn’t trust one for more than 20 miles once you allow for battery degradation due to age, temp, etc. Then you’re pedaling

    2) Cost. E-bike setups are expensive. And they weigh a lot, so bringing your theft target somewhere safe is that much harder. Maintenance costs more too.

    3) Speed. E-bikes are faster uphill provided that they’re not loaded down. If you have decent legs, they’re slower everywhere else. Even if you don’t have decent legs, the time savings you get are small.

    My concern would be that ebikes are not a good idea for people who lack handling skills and an outright rotten idea for multiuse paths. They are low power motorcycles and should be regarded as such.

    Where you do see good e-bike penetration is where it makes sense — people on heavy cargo bikes or kid haulers giving themselves a boost.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 30, 2017 at 10:42 am

      I have a colleague that uses an e-bike for a longer commute than she would otherwise feel comfortable tackling. I am still somewhat a skeptic, and share your concerns about use on paths, but, in this case, at least, an e-bike got someone riding who otherwise would not have. That counts as a victory.

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      Kyle Banerjee January 30, 2017 at 11:47 am

      I see the gateway drug argument. Especially given that some people live on steep hills where a bit of a boost would be attractive.

      I would be interested to know about your colleagues general experience aside from the easier pedaling. One issue in PDX is that cyclists in general move very slowly here. So when you put a less experienced cyclist with a totally different power curve in a gaggle of bikes, that could lead to issues. I don’t know that it does — just wondering what her experience is.

      I’m convinced that ebikes are a niche thing. BTW, I recently tested an electrified fatbike at Hoodoo. That was fun. Pedaling through snow is very hard work on anything but hardpack but a 350W boost changes the experience entirely. Still no substitute for climbing skins.

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        Eric Leifsdad January 30, 2017 at 11:43 pm

        I wasn’t riding for several years before I got an e-bike and was hauling my kid up the south end of Corbett. I started with a 250W hub motor (“Hill Topper”) kit, which was way too small to climb that 10% grade with ~300lb loaded. I had to go the long way around on LaView, but still became an everyday rider and upgraded to a 750W mid-drive xtracycle edgerunner.

        A strong rider might not be drawn to an e-bike because it’s only 1-5 extra riders pedaling along with you for an extra 10-50lb and they love that flick-ability. Haul 3 gallons of milk on your fixie if that’s what cranks your chain. But I haven’t found a regular person yet who didn’t think e-bikes were amazing after having ridden one. Sure, they are expensive and heavy, but 2% of the weight and 10% of the expense you would generally be spending on transportation. Fewer windshields is progress.

        The worst thing about electric bikes is they eliminate excuses. People hate them for that.

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          AnnieG January 31, 2017 at 5:45 pm

          I just purchased an e-bike last summer so that I could return to bike commuting. Why an e-bike? I’m a middle-aged woman (sadly NOT the typical bike commuter) who works in two different professional settings where no shower is possible and little storage for clean-up gear is available. Arriving super-sweaty just won’t work for me.

          Most importantly, I live in SW Portland. (In other words, I laugh when people call Portland bike-friendly.) I have serious hills to contend with (including that south end of Corbett) and hardly any bike paths/lanes to help me on my commute.

          Is it faster? Not much. I used to commute on my heavy, old mountain bike, and it took me about the same amount of time. But it feels so much safer to truck up a hill that has little/no bike lane at 15 mph compared with about 5 mph on my non-e-bike.

          So, it got me back on a bike. I call that a win.

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      wsbob January 30, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      What kind of speed are you talking about, in mph? E-bikes I’ve seen around, seem to have no problem doing 15mph, uphill or downhill…and for an ‘a to b’ commute biker, that’s not bad.

      Sure, for someone that likes to pedal their own, a fast 30 mph or even faster descent after a good workout climbing, is exciting, but I expect lots of people in the market for e-bikes, may not be interested in such a high speed. As r&d proceeds, range could very well get better. In my neighborhood out in Beaverton, there are many destinations within a 2 mile radius of Downtown, that an e-bike would work very well for, even with a battery capacity offering just a 20 mile range.

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        Kyle Banerjee January 31, 2017 at 10:26 am

        A legally configured ebike turns off the assist at 20mph. Except for up hills or against strong winds, this would actually be slower for me — I move significantly faster than ebikes I encounter on flats. I sometimes encounter ebikes on hills. Some allow the rider to go faster than me, others don’t depending on the rider, motor, and bike. Either way, there’s not much time savings though there is certainly an effort savings.

        If I rode one of those heavy cargo bikes, I might feel differently. I also may feel differently when my body deteriorates sufficiently.

        I’ve ridden all kinds of bikes including a number of ebikes. All of them had variable assist except one which had a throttle. They are amazing. But that’s what I didn’t like about them. If I rode one of those things, I’m pretty sure it would decimate my fitness.

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          Chris Anderson January 31, 2017 at 7:39 pm

          I have two e-bikes, one is a kid-hauler Bullitt, and the other is a Stromer. You are right that the assist stops at 20mph, but if you push it to 22mph, you are getting real exercise. Also, because the acceleration is so fast from 0-12mph, I never have any qualms about coming to a dead stop, even at the bottom of an uphill run. And my average speed is faster than when I am on a regular bike, even if my top speed is slower, because I never spend any time going slower than 10mph.

          It definitely eliminates excuses.

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          wsbob February 2, 2017 at 1:21 pm

          For your need for enjoyment, efficiency of travel and the level of fitness you value, sure…an e-bike doesn’t sound like it would do the job. Me either. For a lot of people though, it seems to me an e-bike could be an excellent travel mode option. 12-15 mph is more than fast enough for many people riding a bike. A checker that’s been at the grocery store where I shop, for years, occasionally rides an e-bike. Probably should use it more…says, gets tired pedaling, even with help from the motor. Without that assist though, might not get any workout. Imagine standing your whole working day behind a checkstand counter.

          I think many people just don’t really know about how great e-bikes are to ride, or more would be riding.

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      Paul January 30, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      For those of us who love biking but hate exercise, eBikes are a godsend. There’s a lot of bias in the biking community toward athletic people, but nonathletic people are important too, and getting more of them biking more is a good thing.

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        Kyle Banerjee January 31, 2017 at 1:25 pm

        I believe the primary focus should be on nonathletic people.

        One concern I hear repeated over and over is that people think others will judge them for being fat, slow, whatever. They find the idea of being out there intimidating.

        I always say that I know a lot of people including a number of bona fide athletes and what they actually think is that it’s awesome to see people out there and know how hard it is to get started.

        At the same time, it’s important for everyone to recognize that cycling is just like everything else in that the more you do it, the better you get. So when you start doing something, it’s not a great idea to compare yourself to people who’ve been working at it for a long time.

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      Alex Reedin January 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      1) A 20-mile round-trip commute is not a “short hop”, it is a very normal commute.
      Metro: “The average [one-way] commute distance in the region is just 7.1 miles.”
      http://www.oregonmetro.gov/news/you-are-here-snapshot-how-portland-region-gets-around

      2) Cost – this is a huge concern unless the e-bike replaces a car, which most car-to-ebike “converts” are unlikely to want to gamble on. But you get the same issue with normal bikes – people see even a couple hundred bucks as “a lot” for a lark which they’re not sure is going to be able to replace much of their driving. It’s a tough cookie to crack.

      3) Speed – umm… I think you’re not at all representative here, and I’m sure you know it from passing people around Portland. Most Portland bikers are going less than 20mph. Although I get passed on my ebike occasionally, I’d say I pass 90-95% of other people on bikes.

      I think the top barriers to car-to-ebike conversion are not speed or distance but (in no particular order):
      *People feeling uncomfortable/scared by car traffic
      *Lack of knowledge/info about ebikes
      *Lack of secure bike parking either at home or work
      *Lack of a place to charge at home, maybe at work if they live far away
      *Cost, especially given it’s a gamble/not sure it will work for them
      *Not wanting to commute in the rain and cold
      *The inconvenience, incompleteness, and unreliability of our transit system which is the natural backup mode of transport for most bikers

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      Andy K January 30, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      I will save my safety concerns for the millions of motorists who lack the handling skills to be on the roads.

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      X January 30, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      I borrowed an e-bike for a couple of days. Here are some advantages of riding e-bikes when moving in traffic with motor vehicles:
      –less speed differential between the bike and motor vehicles
      –quickly getting up to speed after a stop sign or other traffic control. That’s what kills average speed for a cyclist riding in traffic.
      –maintaining speed on uphills in mixed traffic.
      –arriving at a destination after some miles of travel in good form (not sweaty, not needing a change of clothes or a shower)
      –someday you look in the mirror and see an old person
      I’m okay, personally, with doing the work, getting warmed up and maybe a little sweaty, and also with getting there when I get there. It’s more important to know how long it takes to get there, than to get there as fast as possible. I’ve tried bike racing. Sucks. As a bike racer, I’m a decent runner. So far, the various penalties of weight, cost, range, and just pure loss of macho image have kept me from getting an e-bike, or converting a bike. But I’ll get there.

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      joe adamski January 31, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      You make valid points that apply to traditional cyclists. I do not see ebikes as interlopers, rather as folks at a different understanding for the time being. I commuted long distances on a mtn bike initially. Moving to a more efficient bike happened in time, but I would have bridled at someone telling me I was doing this commuting thing wrong. If something works better, an e-commuter will figure it out. They are still out there, not driving. Engage with them, don’t shun them.

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      Andy K February 1, 2017 at 9:48 am

      One more e-bike on the road = one less car. Awesome! We’re doing something right.

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        Dave February 1, 2017 at 10:57 am

        The best reason for them to exist!

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    Jim Lee January 30, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I have heard from at least one promoter that doping is prevalent at high levels of amateur racing, for the simple reason that testing and enforcement is expensive and inconvenient.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 30, 2017 at 10:56 am

      Is winning by cheating really that rewarding?

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        Middle of the Road Guy January 30, 2017 at 11:30 am

        Personally, if I could get drunk faster by drinking less I would. Is that cheating?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 30, 2017 at 11:42 am

          That’s why I only drink sweet, pure Everclear.

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          Matt S. February 2, 2017 at 8:06 pm

          But racing at the amateur level is like drinking lots of beer with no alcohol. There’s no money in amateur racing. It’s like playing poker for fun…

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      Jon January 30, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      I have been racing bicycles as amateur for over 25 years with some of those years as a semi-professional. Doping is not common in the amateur levels. There is no way I could have finished as well as I did if doping was common and I raced all over the west coast in open category and semi-pro categories. In ALL professionals sports there is a lot of doping and the most doping will be where the most money is involved. If you are a football player it is certainly the case that if you don’t make the NFL you will not make any money in football. If some trainer told you that if you took steroids you could make $10 million per year in the NFL and if you don’t you will be pumping gas in your hometown what are you going to do?

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      pengo January 30, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Look up Phil Gaimon. He’s a former UCI World Tour pro who’s finding, and taking, Strava records in the Los Angeles area that were set by an amateur who doped. Pretty amusing story.

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    Kyle Banerjee January 30, 2017 at 11:05 am

    The Dutch gizmo is weird. I agree that operating a phone while cycling is dangerous and see it all the time.

    But why would someone who engages in that sort of behavior get the thing? And the people who think such practices are dangerous and stupid don’t need it.

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      Bill Clinton's Ghost January 30, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Pokemon Go already does this, Fam.

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      GlowBoy January 30, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Can I disable the device and use my phone if I’m on a bus or a train? Or if I’m a passenger in car?

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        Kyle Banerjee January 30, 2017 at 12:24 pm

        What would be the attraction of the device for you? Why let an app drain your battery to prevent you from doing something you wouldn’t do anyway?

        My GF’s car has integrated GPS that cannot be programmed while the vehicle is in motion. It renders the device nearly useless because the passenger can’t use it either. So we just use our phones.

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      Dan A January 30, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      It sounds like it would prevent you from receiving calls while riding, which would be pretty dumb too. Currently I can hear that I’m being called, stop on the side of the road & have a conversation.

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      Pete January 31, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      Solution in search of a problem…

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    BB January 30, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Appreciate the london bike enforcement idea. If people thought they could be charged with assaulting a cop by the typical assault type behaviors that are currently given a pass, the world would be a much better place to ride.

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      B. Carfree January 30, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      A decade ago, before the great decline in cycling here in Eugene, a group of our cops would go out riding. However, they always made sure that the riders in the rear were wearing police gear, clearly labeled. When I asked them about this, they sheepishly admitted that they were afraid to ride as civilians.

      Perhaps that tells you something about why Eugene lost 30% of its riders from 2009-15. Oh, and among our now-missing cyclists are the cops. As far as I know, none of them are riding any longer and they certainly don’t go out as a group.

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    GlowBoy January 30, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Dreaming of the day when I-5 along Portland’s east bank makes the Doomed Freeways list…

    As I’ve mentioned several times on here, I-405 would be relabeled as I-5 (and capped through the downtown area). I-5 and the hideous Marquam Bridge would be demolished all the way from I-84 to the South Waterfront area. The short stretch of I-5 between NE Broadway and I-84 would be relabeled as part of I-84. A few ramps to today’s I-405 would need to be reconfigured (and exit/mile marker signs on I-84 across the state renumbered) but overall it’s very doable.

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    • Adam
      Adam January 30, 2017 at 11:59 am

      This is a terrific idea. We need to open up the waterfront to the people!

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      John Lascurettes January 30, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Been saying this for a while about the eastbank freeway. I would love, love, love for this to happen, exactly as you describe it.

      I lived in the Bay for the Loma-Prieta quake and at the time, it seemed unthinkable to take down the Embarcadero freeway. But nobody missed it (at all) when it was gone.

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        Mike Sanders January 30, 2017 at 2:08 pm

        The Embarcadero now has palm trees along its route, streetcars running along it, and is a popular ped/bike corridor. It’s become so attractive that footage of it is often seen when a SF Giants game is shown on TV. That in itself says a great deal.

        Another example is in NYC, where the elevated West Side Highway, a two-deck monster similar to the one that once ran near the Embarcadero, was removed and replaced by a ground-level boulevard called West Street. The Hudson River Bikeway now runs alongside a significant section of it near the WTC/Freedom Tower complex in lower Manhattan. It’s become popular with locals and visitors alike. Go look at the YouTube footage of northbound along that trail to the George Washington Bridge. Removing that monster made a huge difference in NYC. When the subway isn’t running, people follow the river. That’s a big improvement.

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          GlowBoy January 31, 2017 at 1:01 pm

          As much as we all love the Eastbank Esplanade (and I certainly do), just imagine how nice it would be if it weren’t under the (visual and audible) shadow of I-5 and the Marquam Bridge.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty January 31, 2017 at 1:11 pm

            And under the literal cloud of carcinogenic diesel exhaust.

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      wsbob February 2, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      “Dreaming of the day when I-5 along Portland’s east bank makes the Doomed Freeways list …” glowboy

      …speaking of big budget transportation projects, as another bikeportland story of this week has…getting rid of the surface I-5 on the Willamette east bank would be one of those. As would replacement of and removal of the daddy long legs Marquam Bridge. I wonder how many millions the estimate for such a project would be? Accepting guess estimates now.

      I don’t think kindly upon any earthquake, but one of the places I really rather not be if we should be so unfortunate to experience an earthquake, would be up top of the Marquam. Unstable looking, and ugly too.

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    John Lascurettes January 30, 2017 at 11:57 am

    The MN “Where the Protest Hits the Road” piece is missing a link.

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    Mike Healey January 30, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    One small point about the Nicole Cooke article, Jonathan. It wasn’t a “trial” but an appearance before a parliamentary committee – equivalent of a Senate or Congressional hearing

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    • John Liu
      John Liu January 30, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      That’s not a “small point”. Sloppy journalism.

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    Jim Lee January 30, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Had an interesting “doping” experience today.

    Last week my doc prescribed a short course of steroids to treat an inflamed foot. Worked great.

    Then today I zipped through my standard 18 set workout at the gym in 2/3rds the usual time!

    That stuff is extremely weird, and it is cheap. I’d not like to get hung up on it.

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    resopmok January 31, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Please note the Dutch phone blocking device activates at 10 km/h (~6.2 mph) not 10 mph.

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      Kyle Banerjee January 31, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      In other words, it keeps slow joggers from getting distracted…

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    bendite January 31, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    B. Carfree
    A decade ago, before the great decline in cycling here in Eugene, a group of our cops would go out riding. However, they always made sure that the riders in the rear were wearing police gear, clearly labeled. When I asked them about this, they sheepishly admitted that they were afraid to ride as civilians.
    Perhaps that tells you something about why Eugene lost 30% of its riders from 2009-15. Oh, and among our now-missing cyclists are the cops. As far as I know, none of them are riding any longer and they certainly don’t go out as a group.
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    I hadn’t heard that about Eugene. I lived there from ’94 to ’05 and commuted everyday. The ease of it essentially made the decision that we’d only have one car. It seems like you’d have to look for a reason to not ride your bike. I could get to work faster by bike then car, even back then. I’m sure that’s more the case now with the increase in auto traffic. Maybe building out north and northwest makes people think they have to drive?

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    Matt S. February 2, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Where I’m from, bike commuting is something you do when you can’t afford a car. I know Portland isn’t like this, but I think the machismo isn’t about viewing cycling as just a sport, but viewing a bike as a symbol of not making it. Being poor, bad choices. We had a thing in my town called a DUI bike. Old Varsity Schwinn with the drop bars flipped so you didn’t have to bend over. These guys usually pumped gas. I think the same machismo pervades the bike scene—“why would I want to ride a bike with a graphing calculator attached when I can drive my sweet jacked up truck that makes lots of noise!”

    It’s a pride thing and no it doesn’t involve rainbows.

    I don’t drive a truck and I ride my bike to work.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty February 2, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Fun sucks.

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