The Monday Roundup: America’s driving crisis, bike share for all, Utrechts new bike bridge, and more

Posted by on April 3rd, 2017 at 10:52 am

Welcome to Monday.

Here are the stories worth reading that you might have missed last week…

Bike share in Bed Stuy: As Portland looks to expand bike share (and cycling in general) beyond the central city, we should take cues from this New York City example of how advocates have increased bike share use in a majority black and low-income neighborhood.

The Today Show’s blame game: One of America’s most-watched morning TV shows was just one of many outlets that spread the “distracted walkers are at fault” meme created by a recent report from a USDOT-backed highway safety group.

22 percent rise in walking deaths since 2014: America doesn’t like to talk about the startling rise in walking deaths as a public health crisis, but this recent report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association should change that.

Engineering at fault too: Most policymakers and electeds want to blame the spike on careless humans; but it’s clear that our road engineering standards create an unlevel playing field.

Endurance legend dies: Mike Hall’s long and fast rides inspired many of us. He died after being struck by someone driving while competing in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race in Canberra Friday morning.

Low-incomes and traffic violence: A study in New York City has a finding similar to what we see in Portland — that more people die while walking in neighborhoods that have lower-than-average incomes.

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Cycling pays: Minnesota got $780 million in economic return from cycling in 2014 according to a recent study by the state DOT. The report also found that the cycling-related industry generates over 5,100 jobs.

ODOT ADA WTF: An Oregon judge made it final last week: Our DOT must replace 90 percent of the curb ramps along its highways and improve signals in order to meet ADA mandates and satisfy a lawsuit by disability rights advocates.

“Neighborways”: San Fran’s transportation authority has come up with a new approach to residential streets for one of the city’s downtown neighborhoods.

Politics, power, and safer streets: A traffic camera on a dangerous street in Brooklyn is doing its job quite well — and that has some powerful driving advocates determined to get rid of it so they can save a few seconds on their commute.

Paris not afraid to move beyond cars: We’ve been sharing links about Paris’ push to rid its city of smelly, loud and dangerous motor vehicles for years now. This article provides an update of their latest efforts. (Come on Portland! We should do this too!)

Yellowstone by bike: It’s a trend. Following Crater Lake’s foray into carfree days, more National Parks are offering biking-only days.

Utrecht’s new bike bridge: Behold the latest in Dutch infrastructure — the Dafne Schippers Bicycle Bridge.

Something good from Uber:The cost of driving ultimately needs to reflect its cost to our cities,” says the company’s head of transportation policy and research.

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

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53 Comments
  • Avatar
    Peter W April 3, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Also, the Westside Bypass is rearing its ugly head again, this time in Salem, on Wednesday. Help is needed to stop it!

    Westside /French Prairie Bypass Tollway bill, HB 3231, has been scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, April 5, at 8:00 am before the House Transportation Policy Committee.

    Send an e-mail to the Committee, at htp.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov and copy your own Representative (locate yours here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/FindYourLegislator/leg-districts.html).

    People are needed to testify on April 5 at 8:00 am

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      Smokey Bear April 3, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      I’m all for the Westside Bypass. It should relieve a lot of congestion in the downtown area and possibly on 26, 205, and 217. Of course if it goes through your farm you may not like it much.

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        Chris I April 3, 2017 at 12:50 pm

        There is no way to possibly route this bypass and not have to destroy hundreds of homes in Washington County. This is never going to happen.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 12:50 pm

          My conclusion as well.

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          wsbob April 3, 2017 at 1:06 pm

          Careful about being overconfident. The power of money is extraordinary, and in past, the determination to get a westside bypass built, was strong. I’m not in favor of it, but to not build it, compels a considerably different land use and community plan from that which has been the predominant model in the states for decades. Much different than just plopping suburbs conveniently located off to the side of freeways.

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      Teddy April 3, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      What character Tualatin has looks to be endangered if they build the bypass and my apartment looks like it is in the way of “progress” which is not good.

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    B. Carfree April 3, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed the piece on the efforts in Paris to reclaim the city from suburbanites’ cars. While there’s still a long way to go, it’s so nice to see some first steps being made.

    I particularly enjoy the framing of the issue. They note that the motorists are imposing harm on those they drive past as well as ruining the experience of what should be a wonderful city. This has allowed them to initiate those first steps towards restricting cars before they massively expand all other transportation services.

    Here, I’m afraid we would just throw up our hands and exclaim how we can’t impinge on suburbanites’ “right” to drive into the cities until we have an unattainably perfect public transit system in place, which we cannot pay to build while still subsidizing cars and trucks.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      An easy place to start would be a toll plaza on the I-5 and I-205 bridges.

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        Captain Karma April 3, 2017 at 12:47 pm

        Inbound tolls in the morning, outbound in the evening. Sellwood bridge, too.

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    wsbob April 3, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Not biking related, but to uber instead, somebody sent me a link to a NYtimes story on the ride-sharing businesses particular use of psychological measures to get the most work for the least amount of money from its drivers:

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/02/technology/uber-drivers-psychological-tricks.html?_r=1

    ..it’s a lengthy article, but was very interesting to me. Haven’t read it yet, but the headline for the article linked in today’s roundup suggests that uber advising about the costs of driving, is motivated by the company’s interest in improving its business…for uber, fewer people driving their own vehicles, likely would improve ubers business… .

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    Smokey Bear April 3, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    That article “How Engineering Standards for Cars Endanger People Crossing the Street” sounds like a bunch of whining. I am sure there are some unsafe intersections but most are just fine. Sometimes you have to wait a couple of minutes, but so do cars. Most of the time when I cross, I get across with 10 to 15 seconds remaining on the timer.

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      John Lascurettes April 3, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Pick one of the following: You …
      a) did not fully read the article
      b) did not comprehend the article
      c) are deliberately misrepresenting the crux of the article by focusing on one detail
      d) some combo of a, b, and c.

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        Smokey Bear April 3, 2017 at 1:42 pm

        The answer is:

        I read it and it seemed to focus a lot on one intersection near Fenway Park. Then they acted like it is unusual to have to wait 2 minutes at a major intersection. This is not unusual for cars – no reason it should be different for people. This article is total hype.

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          John Lascurettes April 3, 2017 at 3:59 pm

          Answer is D.

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          B. Carfree April 3, 2017 at 5:22 pm

          Hmm, any wait at an intersection for cars beyond 85 seconds causes the intersection to be given an F grade (and usually move right up the list for a remedy). And yet you say it is not unusual for cars to wait two minutes at intersections.

          I’ve got to call BS on this. A very low percentage of intersections actually get F grades. I guess motorists are just such whiners that if it happens once it’s simply too much to take.

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            John Lascurettes April 3, 2017 at 10:18 pm

            Yeah, had he actually read the article, or not misrepresented it, he would have read that the goad for vehicles at that intersection is to not have to wait more than 30 seconds.

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            Smokey Bear April 4, 2017 at 9:17 pm

            In downtown, where streets are small with few lanes, wait times are less. In the suburbs where major streets intersect there are many lanes so 2 minutes is not unusual. This is increasingly the case due to the need to pass so many cars per cycle.

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          Pete April 4, 2017 at 8:49 am

          Two minute reds are very unusual for cars on arteries, anywhere. What makes many of them seem like long waits is congestion that forces you to wait through several cycles.

          Furth’s point was that the intersection was redesigned recently and the pedestrian wait times increased, and even in the “Vision Zero” era we’re still focused on LOS for cars.

          Foot traffic is very high there because you have residences on one side of the Fens (designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, FYI) and the highest concentration of colleges and universities in the US on the other. College kids tend not to wait out long cycles and jaywalk instead (well, it’s not really called jaywalking in Boston, but rather is socially accepted practice unlike in west coast cities).

          “…it seemed to focus a lot on one intersection near Fenway Park.”

          Yes, that’s called a use case.

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      Pete April 3, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      I’m intimately familiar with that intersection (Northeastern is my alma mater), having lived on the Fens. Professor Furth is correct. While you can point to some intersections somewhere else that are perfectly safe, the article’s point is that MUTCD standards are ineffective at addressing pedestrian (and bicyclist) safety. I’ve repeatedly pointed out specific examples over the years, including California’s habit of placing crosswalks just around the corner from drivers in the middle of slip lanes.

      There are people more experienced with these standards than myself (like Paikeala and others), so I’d love to hear from them, but my take on MUTCD is that when every roadway configuration problem looks like a nail, a yellow sign makes an effective hammer.

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    Matt April 3, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    I like how the Today Show is able to blame cell phones and not see all the irony of their own reporting.

    – “Oh no I have to hustle (not walk) because the countdown started [and I don’t want to also get struck and killed]”
    – The unportected strip there is almost 100′ wide
    – The intersection is a pedestrian disaster; but let’s blame cell phones.
    – First example of a pedestrian on a phone is…oh wait, it’s somebody legally waiting in a perfectly fine spot without any distraction of a phone.
    – Second example – Woman legally in a crosswalk with an entire family, not on a cell phone. Nearly killed by a truck.
    – People aren’t walking due to an improved economy, nooo. They’re walking for the environment. Cars = economy. Walking = crunchy liberals.
    – No presentation of evidence that people walking and not paying attention are in any way to blame for the increase in pedestrian casualties.
    – Interview with officer (who likely spends majority of career in a car) that immediately victim blames with no evidence.
    – Areas with heavy amounts of walkers (NYC) doesn’t even make Top 10. Perhaps they don’t have cell phones in NYC?

    The report had not a single piece of actual evidence that cell phones in any way were to blame for pedestrians ‘getting themselves hit’; yet, the entire report pretends that’s the only thing that matters.

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      wsbob April 3, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      Aside from the macabre fascination some people may have in charting a correlation between traffic deaths of people walking and talking on cell phones, it’s a mystery why anyone would need a study to know that it’s dangerous to walk out across the street on foot, without watching for traffic.

      Apparently, there are some people around that truly believe that injury and death to people walking across streets and involved in collisions with vehicles, is always solely due to the fault of people driving motor vehicles. People on foot, are never…ever…at fault, to any degree whatsoever, for the collisions they may come to be involved in? If nothing else, that’s quite a perk for walking, compared to driving, or biking.

      Offers a great potential for criminal intent too, for those so inclined; walk along and fake a collision with the motor vehicle of someone driving, absorb just enough of a blow for a sprained angle, etc, the sue, sue, sue. People have done exactly this. Years ago, I saw an independent Japanese film, the subject of which was someone engaging in this sort of crime. Not that anyone in this day and age, in Portland, would actually think to do such a thing.

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        Matt April 3, 2017 at 12:51 pm

        Yet despite the thesis of the report being that pedestrians on phones are killing themselves; they didn’t find a single incident of an at-fault pedestrian to report on.

        Not saying there aren’t at-fault cases where pedestrians have died (I’d argue we’ve had a few even in Portland). The majority of deaths seem to come not from distracted/defiant/injury-seeking pedestrians; but rather, from distracted drivers.

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          Kyle Banerjee April 3, 2017 at 1:35 pm

          Since you were expecting a fluff news program to cite sources, I’m wondering how you know a majority are caused by distracted drivers?

          In cases where distracted driving is an issue, do you think pedestrians have any responsibility (at least to themselves) to watch out for large noisy chunks of metal that might hit them when they’re crossing the street?

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            Pete April 3, 2017 at 1:57 pm

            “to watch out for large noisy chunks of metal that might hit them”

            Or listen out for them, in the case of the blind. (My elderly neighbor who is blind said she finally figured out this weird sound she hears more of these days are electric cars; she grew up in Florida and thought there was somehow a new trend in street-legal golf carts people were using to get around! Needless to say, she’s never “seen” a Tesla…).

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              Kyle Banerjee April 3, 2017 at 2:29 pm

              Electric cars are not as loud as those powered by internal combustion engines, but they’re plenty loud. The golf carts are significantly quieter as they are much smaller and slower, but they’ll still be evident.

              I had a blind GF (totally blind from birth with RP, none of this partially sighted stuff) for 6 1/2 years and hung out with a bunch of other blind people for years. She watched and saw things too, just not with her eyes. She found it amusing how sighted people would try to talk without using words that hinted at the sense of sight.

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          wsbob April 3, 2017 at 8:35 pm

          “…Not saying there aren’t at-fault cases where pedestrians have died (I’d argue we’ve had a few even in Portland). The majority of deaths seem to come not from distracted/defiant/injury-seeking pedestrians; but rather, from distracted drivers.” matt

          It seems the majority of people in the U.S. drive, rather than walk, or bike, so just on the basis of sheer number majority road users, a majority of collision related deaths involving people driving and people walking, may be due to distracted drivers, rather than due to distracted walkers, people riding bikes and skateboards.

          The fact is though, and you seem to be debating this with yourself…that people on foot, bike, etc, frequently can be observed allowing their full attention to attendant danger existing on streets they travel, across or along as the case may be…to be distracted by other less important things, such as, looking at their phones, etc.

          The word, ‘meme’ is one of those trendy expressions I guess I don’t care much for at all. I wouldn’t even bring it up here, except that it’s been used in today’s roundup. Does it have a definite meaning, or is it just one of those sloppy expressions people have fun saying for awhile, without really knowing what the heck it means? Seems to be the latter.

          Here’s old school: ‘repeat something enough times, and someone will believe it whether it’s true or not.’. Distracted walking on the street isn’t one of those activities about which any uncertainty should be granted. It’s dangerous, and people do it. On many streets in many cities, people can likely see it happening first hand, without relying on some word of mouth tv morning show account.

          Are we going to quibble over whether in a given collision, the distraction the person walking was engaged in, was ‘the cause’ of the collision, and ‘the fault’ of that person? Or that of the person driving? Or will we recognize unequivocally, as we should…that distracting activity while using the road, to the extent that insufficient attention is paid to potential and real danger present, may lead to collision and serious injury or even death?

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        Kyle Banerjee April 3, 2017 at 1:58 pm

        wsbob
        Apparently, there are some people around that truly believe that injury and death to people walking across streets and involved in collisions with vehicles, is always solely due to the fault of people driving motor vehicles. People on foot, are never…ever…at fault, to any degree whatsoever, for the collisions they may come to be involved in? If nothing else, that’s quite a perk for walking, compared to driving, or biking.

        I thought that perk also extends to cyclists.

        If you’re in the water or the air, two very basic rules are that whoever is more maneuverable must yield to who is less maneuverable and that everyone must continually assess the risk of collision and take action to avoid it.

        For some reason, neither of those apply on land.

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          wsbob April 3, 2017 at 8:01 pm

          Essentially, the same rules apply on land. The bigger question is, at least for me, whether the vulnerable road user is willing to, or should be, nonchalant about their relative vulnerability, to without looking or listening for approaching motor vehicles, knowingly step out onto a road where they know motor vehicles pose potentially imminent danger to them? And then expect to not be held at all accountable for any collision that occurs as a consequence of using the road in this way?

          In the air or on the water, are captains of small aircraft or watercraft, entitled to cruise into shipping lanes and commercial flight paths without precaution, and then in those areas, expect the large craft to yield to the little craft?

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          Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2017 at 10:59 am

          In those other areas, you are expected to operate responsibly with regard to yourself and others and will get in a lot of official as well as unofficial trouble if you fail to do so.

          I’ve never heard of someone using some kind of vulnerability status as a justification for taking unsafe action, and am unaware of anyone who’d go out with someone who pulled such a cornball stunt even once.

          I won’t even ride with people who use bad judgment even if they absorb practically all the risk.

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            wsbob April 6, 2017 at 1:00 am

            “…I’ve never heard of someone using some kind of vulnerability status as a justification for taking unsafe action, and am unaware of anyone who’d go out with someone who pulled such a cornball stunt even once. …” banerjee

            I think that status is often brought forward by some of the people using the road as vulnerable road users, to try shift their responsibility for their own safety, onto people that drive; and generally for all vulnerable road users in traffic situations where motor vehicles are in use. Road use safety for vulnerable road users, can’t be placed entirely onto people driving, and realistically expect to have conditions for vulnerable road users become safer. .

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          El Biciclero April 6, 2017 at 10:34 am

          “If you’re in the water or the air, two very basic rules are that whoever is more maneuverable must yield to who is less maneuverable and that everyone must continually assess the risk of collision and take action to avoid it.

          For some reason, neither of those apply on land.”

          I imagine at least two reasons:
          1) Comparatively speaking, traffic is much less dense on the water or in the air, and there is plenty of space to “maneuver” into (especially in the air). On land, if I pulled my bike over and waited for all the “large craft” to go by before I could proceed, I would barely be able to go anywhere. Plus, many places I might “maneuver” into to avoid a collision would be the equivalent of running aground if I were on the water.

          2) On land, we can use things like “traffic signals”, and “brakes” to control vehicular movement. Sure, there are signals that can be used on the water, but brakes are much less effective, and in the air, well… So it could be argued that the differences in maneuverability among land-craft—even between cars and bicycles—are much less than the differences in maneuverability between, say, a barge and a speedboat, or a 767 and Cessna.

          Plus, as wsbob notes, these rules do kind of apply on land, captured in clauses such as “…shall not leave a place of safety and enter the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.” Also, self-preservation.

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          soren April 6, 2017 at 11:13 am

          “People on foot, are never…ever…at fault, to any degree whatsoever, for the collisions they may come to be involved in? ”

          outside of a limited-access transportation corridor, YES.
          no one should ever be at fault for walking in their city. whether the person driving is at fault is a different question but, imo, the only ethical approach is to assume that a driver is at fault until proven otherwise.

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      Chris I April 3, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      The report would be fantastic satire if they weren’t actually being serious. I mean, they literally showed a video of a guy standing on the sidewalk getting hit by a car that mounted the curb, while talking about distracted pedestrians.

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    Kyle Banerjee April 3, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    I absolutely love the idea of enjoying national parks by bike without cars. Crater Lake and especially Yellowstone are so overrun with vehicles that I have no interest in going to either except before roads open.

    Having said that, people who bike in these areas need to know what they’re getting into. The wildlife at Yellowstone are serious business and so many tourists do epically dangerous things that it’s a miracle that more don’t get themselves killed. As much as I think cars wreck the vibe, keeping the humans in safety cages strikes me a good idea. Those with common sense who want to get away from the racket/crowds can get backcountry permits.

    Likewise, Crater Lake is not a great place for unsupported novice cyclists. Except at the village, there’s no water and most people don’t understand how much water you can go through. As an observation, anyone who wants to ride that section will need to ride with traffic up and down the rim sand the best views are from the roads where there will still be cars.

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      Smokey Bear April 3, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      I went with a group to Yellowstone the winter after the big fire in the 80s. Rode in to the lodge in a snowcat. Then did day trips on cross-country skis from the lodge. Very nice to be there without crowds – except for the blackened trees. Life is tough for the bison in winter – not a lot to eat and it’s very cold.

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      Pete April 3, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      Over the winter I used Cycleops Virtual Training on a Kickr in my garage (between meetings ; ). When I did the virtual HD-video ride around Crater Lake, I remember thinking, “Man, even the videographer getting buzzed by so many cars makes it feel real!”. (Of course, I had to pretend I was getting bounced around on chipseal…).

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    Teddy April 3, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Hmm, I love seeing all the old cars around Portland, but it is true they are (somewhat) functionally obselete so I am torn. Less pollution and safer streets are nice to have though.

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      Kyle Banerjee April 3, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      The most environmentally friendly car is the one that isn’t built.

      It may or may not be beneficial to accept more pollution overall elsewhere to prevent a large number of point pollution sources (i.e. old cars) concentrated in a small area.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 2:33 pm

        It absolutely is more beneficial — it is easier to upgrade/replace/install controls on a single power plant owned by a regulated entity than it would be to upgrade an entire fleet owned by the teeming multitudes.

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          X April 3, 2017 at 5:49 pm

          Maybe Kyle was referring to the embodied energy of making a new car? It’s a lot even if you assume that the materials were recycled.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 9:55 pm

            >>> The most environmentally friendly car is the one that isn’t built. <<<
            It’s clear that’s what he meant.

            >>> It may or may not be beneficial to accept more pollution overall elsewhere to prevent a large number of point pollution sources (i.e. old cars) concentrated in a small area. <<<
            This is the part I was responding to. I was pointing out the benefits of concentrating the pollution at a single point rather than a million dispersed points.

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              Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2017 at 5:56 am

              Yes, but each car has thousands of components with complex inputs requiring resources/materials/energy from all over the globe.

              For example, a Tesla has zero emissions if you power it with solar. Except it still requires thousands of individual components for the vehicle that require resources/energy — and the mechanism to get solar energy also requires resources/energy.

              So it takes a long time to line out.

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                Pete April 4, 2017 at 9:01 am

                Another point is diversification. Centralized power generation by burning gas (or diesel) in a combustion engine not only localizes its pollution (smog), but MPG doesn’t improve over time. An electric motor still needs to be charged, yes, but it can be sourced locally or far away with sun, wind, hydro, combined-cycle NG, or coal-fired steam. CCNG plants are now pushing >60% efficiency (as opposed to ~40% with coal), and we still don’t know what improvements plant digitization will yield (naysayers say only 5% efficiency gains at best). Energy storage will also improve, and hopefully create drop-in replacements for existing EV batteries.

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                soren April 6, 2017 at 11:15 am

                “So it takes a long time to line out.”

                it is amusing that you criticize others above for posting unsupported statements and then proceed to do so yourself.

                PS: define “a long time”.

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            soren April 6, 2017 at 11:25 am

            “It’s a lot even if you assume that the materials were recycled.”

            Please define “a lot”.

            http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/11/Cleaner-Cars-from-Cradle-to-Grave-full-report.pdf

            https://greet.es.anl.gov/publication-c2g-2016-report

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        soren April 6, 2017 at 11:18 am

        “The most environmentally friendly car is the one that isn’t built.”

        The most environmentally-friendly bike is the one that isn’t built.
        The most environmentally-friendly human is one that isn’t born.

        (the perfect is the enemy of the good.)

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    BB April 3, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Mike Hall was killed by an automobile user, he did not just “pass away” as is being implied here.

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    Doug April 4, 2017 at 6:41 am

    I guess nobody can agree on anything, buy I give her a shot. Can we agree that EVERYBODY needs to watch where they are going. Looking at anything else while moving is inherently dangerous because it means we have to look out for you because you NOT are looking out for yourself. PRETTY BASIC. I run Lake Sacajawea in Longview and I had to avoid somebody on the path the other day that was reading a book (a big coffee table book at that) while walking around the lake. I think watch where you’re going dumbshit was my comment.

    You can blame infrastructure (that’s the trick on this stupid website) but if you aren’t going to watch out for yourself screw you, you get exactly what you deserve. Smart phone just seems so misnamed, when operated by such dumbasses.

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      Dan A April 5, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      Welcome. Watch your language. It reflects poorly on you.

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