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The Monday Roundup: Textalyzer, dooring in Chicago, e-bike surge, and more

Posted by on May 1st, 2017 at 8:18 am

This week’s Monday Roundup is brought to you by the Weekender, Cycle Oregon’s two-day bike bash based in McMinnville July 7th-9th.

Welcome to another Monday in paradise. Hope you enjoyed the sun this past weekend and are rested and ready for another week of news, views, and other fun stuff.

Here are the most noteworthy stories we came across last week…

Vancouver tops in Cascadia: Sightline crunches the numbers (and several other factors) and finds that of the Big Three bike cities in Cascadia, Vancouver tops Portland and a rising Seattle.

Uber’s flying taxis: It’s absolutely amazing that entrepreneurs and rocket scientists will try anything to solve our transportation problems — instead of actually solving our transportation problems.

Musk’s latest: See above.

Road rage with guns is trending: Hate to say it, but this might be a strong vote in favor of not yelling at, or otherwise engaging with, people who drive like idiots.

Remote controlled big rigs: If you wondered why Mayor Wheeler and PBOT announced an autonomous vehicle initiative last month, here’s one reason why: private companies are moving into that field and we might as well be ready.

State funding primer: California passed a major transportation infrastructure funding bill that will pump $5 billion (with a “b”) a year into projects. With Oregon hoping to do something similar, it behooves us to study their methods.

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E-bike wave is here: Anecdotally they are surging in use here in Portland, and sales trends all over the country show a similar pattern.

Proof of phone use: A “textalyzer” device that police could use to determine if someone was using their phone prior to a crash? Seems like an idea worth considering.

Bicycling = big money: A new report by the Outdoor Industry Association says that Americans spend over $96 billion a year on “wheel sports”, part of $887 billion in annual outdoor-related consumer spending.

Dooring in Chicago: City data shows a 50 percent jump in “dooring” crashes. Whether it’s a reporting/enforcement anomaly or not, it has put new light on the issue.

Green wave, 2.0: The green wave (timing signals for bicycling speeds like we do in parts of Portland) is one thing; but this new “Flo” system in Utrecht is a next-level.

Thanks to everyone who emailed and tweeted suggestions this week! Keep them coming.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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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9watts
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9watts

Recreational Cycling = Big Money.

As with Travel Oregon’s surveys reported on here some years back, this (to my eyes) lopsided view, this equating the recreational dimension with the whole sector is worth unpacking a bit.

9watts
Guest
GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Minnesota’s DOT recently did such a study, finding $800M per year in direct economic activity (including 5500 jobs), plus an additional $100-500M in health care savings.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy
9watts
Guest
9watts

Thanks for that link. Very interesting.
I will note the stark difference between the two studies Jonathan has profiled here (Travel Oregon 2012, and the one in today’s Roundup) and this one from Minnesota, which starts with this sentence:
“MnDOT identified bicycling as an integral part of Minnesota’s transportation system…”

Although this report mixes in what they call ‘events’ which are quite clearly not about transportation, the fact that this report expands the focus beyond tourism and recreation is a welcome difference (to me).

Brian
Guest
Brian

I’m trying to understand what you are getting at here; help me out, please.

9watts
Guest
9watts

In my view, this country doesn’t lack for recreational cycling, for people spending money on this (see story above) or for much of anything related to this, except of course that in Portland we aren’t allowed to ride mountain bikes on public land close in.
But what we do, in contrast, lack is visibility, recognition, salience of bicycling-as-transportation. This country has a legacy of equating bikes with discretionary fun, with adventure, with kids. but *not* with serious transportation. To get past this legacy, to make serious inroads in the mindset that still refuses to adequately fund or give up roadspace to bikes-as-transportation I think it is necessary to *not*—as Jonathan’s headline implied—equate cycling with recreational cycling, because this further cements the long-standing association that we’re trying to live down.

I know Jonathan and I don’t quite agree on this point, but since you asked me, that is where I’m coming from. I think differentiating discretionary cycling from transportational cycling is useful and perhaps even necessary given where we find ourselves in these debates over funding and political significance.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Thanks for the elaboration.

9watts
Guest
9watts

De nada.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I appreciate both your position and your clear explanation of it. However, I disagree. My thinking goes along two lines:
1. All transportation modes are primarily used for recreation, be it walking, cycling, driving, trains or planes. This is simply because most of our transportation is not involved in getting jobs done but in going out to enjoy ourselves. Only 20% of all car trips are commuting. People may rationalize that that trip out at lunch time is for an essential transportation purpose (getting a meal), but that’s like my saying my Saturday century is for an essential transportation purpose (maintaining health).

Our problem in this regard is allowing motorists to pretend that their trips are essential transportation while people using other modes are just screwing around. We’re all mostly screwing around and should be honest about it.

2. Far too much of “transportation cycling” revolves around confining bikes to replacements for walking, as is mostly the case in many N. European cities (where the median bike trip length is too short to measure). Bicycles are actually very good at replacing car trips. However, it’s tough to replace varied-length car trips on a regular basis if one only rides a couple of miles at a time. Those “recreational” trips serve an important function in keeping the bike’s “engine” fit enough to perform when needed.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“All transportation modes are primarily used for recreation, be it walking, cycling, driving, trains or planes….Only 20% of all car trips are commuting.”

You appear to be confusing commuting with transportation. The two are not even close to the same thing. All my trips are, I would submit, in the transportation column. I’m sure that is going to be a different ratio for others, but I don’t even have a commute and I’d still consider my trips (walking, biking, buses, trains) to be in the transportation (I need to get from A to B) column.

“Far too much of ‘transportation cycling’ revolves around confining bikes to replacements for walking”

I’m not following this train of thought. Confining? Are you talking about infrastructure decisions? I was talking about the value of differentiating recreational (pretty outings, weekend rides, etc.) from the day-to-day trips that get people wherever they need to go (errands, after school activities, grocery store, post office, work, etc.)

“Those ‘recreational’ trips serve an important function in keeping the bike’s ‘engine’ fit enough to perform when needed.”

We can I’m sure slice this any number of ways, but my engine is just fine without recreational trips, thank you. And as I’ve tried to be clear above, I have nothing against recreational biking in the least. What I’m objecting to is a tendency to collapse recreational cycling and bicycling as a whole.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Our problem in this regard is allowing motorists to pretend that their trips are essential transportation while people using other modes are just screwing around. We’re all mostly screwing around and should be honest about it.”

This is a major perception issue that I think a lot of people have. I don’t know what the statistical numbers actually are for “essential” vs. “recreational” trips in cars, but the basic phony dichotomy of cars = serious, bikes = frivolous needs to end.

I’d love to see things re-framed as cars = wasteful (for a lot of trips), bikes = responsible. I don’t use a chainsaw to cut flowers or a sledge hammer to hang pictures; nor should I use an SUV to carry my kid half a mile to school or to carry myself a mile to Starbucks. Sure, chainsaws, sledge hammers, and SUVs are useful tools for many jobs, but are overkill for many others.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The “right tool for the job” kind of thing.

soren
Guest
soren

To extend your argument, I believe we need less of an advocacy focus on “bike fun” and more of a focus on boring, utilitarian transportation advocacy.

Brian
Guest
Brian

How about both? Use the turn out from the “fun stuff” to encourage and foster participation in the “boring stuff.” Getting the uninvolved to go straight into the utilitarian movement would be incredibly difficult, I would imagine.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Well I guess this is where we part ways.
For starters, I don’t think differentiating transport = boring and recreation = fun is a useful or even accurate way to frame this matter. I LOVE biking to get everywhere. And I don’t mind letting people who may have little experience with this sort of thing know that. The idea that we have to ‘trick’ those already persuaded that bikes are fun into considering bikes as also useful for getting places strikes me as not only weird but frankly elitist; and it certainly runs counter to how I’ve experienced cycling-as-an-activity all my life, and I know how millions of people around the world view bicycles and bicycling.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I meant the advocacy stuff is boring. Maybe not for everyone, but I would wager that most find attending meetings, writing emails, etc. as rather dull activities.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“we need less of an advocacy focus on ‘bike fun’ and more of a focus on boring, utilitarian transportation advocacy.”

Well, advocacy wasn’t my point. Rather that by failing to distinguish between the two, or worse, obscuring the distinction between (a) recreational cycling, and (b) all of bicycling we are shooting our [transportational advocacy] selves in the foot.

We can and should keep track of, advocate for, both. But given our particular history and the special conceptual difficulties we encounter when it comes to the public’s view of cycling’s importance or validity muddling the distinction is counterproductive in my view.

Chris Anderson
Guest

IMHO the best way to realize change of the sort you are suggesting (I basically agree with you) is not by downplaying recreational cycling or giving more air time to transportation cycling. But rather, to inject new perspectives that better position cycling as a whole as something that people do in the course of their daily lives. So things like biking to shops / cargo biking are good story tellers. Moms with kids on bikes running errands force many people to rethink their categories. I try to do my part by smiling in my nice clothes in the rain, and therefor bike fun like the Tweed Ride is instrumental in giving the vanguard things to rally around.

What you are talking about is poetics, and quantity is not very important in the poetic realm.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“So things like biking to shops / cargo biking are good story tellers.”

= what I would consider transportation(al cycling)

“Moms with kids on bikes running errands”

= ditto

“force many people to rethink their categories.”

agreed.

“I try to do my part by smiling in my nice clothes in the rain,”

rain = probably getting somewhere he needs to be.

“…and therefor bike fun like the Tweed Ride is instrumental in giving the vanguard things to rally around.”

If I’m following you, I think you just switched audiences (quite dramatically).

“What you are talking about is poetics, and quantity is not very important in the poetic realm.”

Can you elaborate? I’m not familiar with that term.

Chris Anderson
Guest

I mean by poetics what Plato did https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato-rhetoric/

And by the vanguard, what I mean is that there are people setting the example by shopping with their kids. And they can just do their business. But bike fun can give them some common ground and aesthetic expression (style) above and beyond the daily grind. Eg: It’s one thing to bike everywhere, it’s another to feel like you are hip, cool, fashionable, in-the-know, part of the it crowd, etc. for doing it. If enough of the people who bike for transportation feel like they are what’s hot and next and subject to generalized social approval, it will show in their demeanor. Creating a positive feedback loop.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I agree with all of that. However I had a very different audience in mind when I made my original point. People (many of whom do not live in Portland, and misunderstand, or resent bikes, and the perceived infrastructure benefits those who use them in Portland get that bear no relationship to what they feel is their utility). See Kathy Goss discussion below. These misunderstandings and resentments stem I think at least in part from having no experience with bicycling-as-transport.

https://bikeportland.org/2014/09/18/oregon-house-candidate-refers-bike-lanes-fringe-things-111104#comment-5522453

https://bikeportland.org/2014/09/18/oregon-house-candidate-refers-bike-lanes-fringe-things-111104#comment-5522476

Dan A
Subscriber
dan
Guest
dan

That makes me so mad. Sad that Uber says there’s nothing they can do…how about deactivating that driver?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Uber really hates that guy. Same dude that had the run-in in 2016 and got his glasses broken…

Pete
Guest
Pete

Down here in California he’d likely have been shot instead.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I noticed that parallel too, though saying Uber hates doesn’t really make much sense since Uber isn’t a person but a brand.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

yeah, I meant it tongue in cheek…also known as sarcasm. That guy seems to have issues with Uber drivers. And continues to end up on the losing end of these altercations.

Jon
Guest
Jon

This is a bit suspicious. One confrontation with him and Uber makes me concerned about Uber. Two confrontations in less than a year makes me wonder if this guy is trying to cause a confrontation.

Al Dimond
Guest

Maybe he rides along routes where Uber drivers park in the bike lanes. Whatever you think about the wisdom of confronting a driver about that, it is obnoxious behavior that deserves to be confronted.

SD
Subscriber

Its ok if people don’t feel comfortable calling out dangerous driving, but people who do call out dangerous driving should not be blamed for possible illegal retribution.
See something, say something.

Ray Atkinson
Guest

It’s great to see Utrecht catching up with Copenhagen. As this post shows, Copenhagen has had green waves for several years. It would be great to see something similar in the US.

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/08/the-green-waves-of-copenhagen.html

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

We have them downtown, but it would be nice to see them extended to arterials that have sufficient bike use.

Ray Atkinson
Guest

While I agree some signals (not sure how many) in downtown Portland are purposely timed to allow cyclists to get a green wave, there is no special infrastructure like there is in Utrecht and Copenhagen to inform cyclists about how to bike at the correct speed to get the green wave. Since Portland doesn’t have this special infrastructure, cyclists have to be lucky to bike at the correct speed to get the green wave. Do you understand the difference?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Sure. I’ve never found it particularly complicated to figure out that if I ride at a certain speed I don’t get red lights (unless a Max is near). I’d support adding some mechanism to alert drivers and cyclists alike to how to “ride the wave”.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

I remember the days when you’d approach a series of stoplights while driving along and seeing a sign next to the signals that read: “Signals set at 20mph.” Don’t see that too much anymore.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Fifteen years ago I had a truck driving gig that had me making regular deliveries in Corvallis. Their main drag had a 20 mph speed limit and the signals were set so that if you traveled at 18 mph you made them all. I could never understand why so many motorists, essentially all of them, insisted on driving between 25-30 mph so they could stop at each and every signal.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I think there is a conditioned sense of impatience (which leads to frustration and anger) in people.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I think this is true, and it has a dual nature: there are those that perform risky maneuvers because they are impatient, and there are those who feel pressured to perform risky maneuvers because they perceive that while waiting for a safer opportunity to do what they need to do, they are holding up some impatient person.

X
Guest
X

Or possibly the average personal motor vehicle is ridiculously over powered.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

It’s still like that in downtown Portland.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Because gas is too cheap?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I remember talking with the chief signals guy at PBOT about 10 years ago, back when I was still at PBOT. Apparently all the signals downtown can be timed and most are, specifically to encourage bicycling and slow buses. They were back then timed to 20 mph; if you went over this speed (as most drivers invariably did), then it was all stop-and-go, but for bicyclist traveling downhill or faster riders on the flats, it was great!

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Downtown signal timing is variable depending on the time of day and day of the week. At quiet times it’s about 18 mph, at busier times as low as 13 mph.

X
Guest
X

Also some of the signals are tweaked at commute times to feed the bridges

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I don’t know if trying to optimize lights to cycling speeds is even a good objective, particularly since there is such a wide variety of speeds among cyclists. Personally, I’d rather they keep the cars moving smoothly along since cars that are stopping and starting are less predictable and they get in the way to boot.

In any case, it’s easy enough to figure out when lights are going to switch. If they’ve got some dough burning a hole in their pockets, some bike lanes in an area that has none whatsoever strikes me a better use of those funds.

chris
Guest
chris

Interesting that the Vancouver > Portland > Seattle ranking correlates with order of miles of neighborhood greenways and not protected bike lanes.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

That is very interesting. When I ride in Vancouver, the protected bikeways are what make me feel safe. They have them all over the downtown core, and bridges.

Ray Atkinson
Guest

While I agree with your observation, Sightline’s cover photo is of a Vancouver protected bike lane and all the other photos are of protected bike lanes in Portland and Seattle. None of the photos show neighborhood greenways so I assume Sightline values protected bike lanes more than neighborhood greewnays.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The Vancouver photo is actually a “buffered bike lane” and not protected, though I agree that Vancouver has plenty of excellent protected bike lanes, often with real concrete barriers and not the wimpy candlesticks used in Portland and Seattle.

Ray Atkinson
Guest

The Vancouver photo shows parked motor vehicles protecting cyclists from faster motor vehicles, so I consider this a protected bike lane. While I agree that the protected bike lane would be better and more permanent if it had a physical barrier like concrete between the cyclists and motor vehicles, I believe it’s still considered a protected bike lane and not a buffered bike lane. Why do you think it is only a buffered bike lane?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Because the photo shows no barrier between the cars and the bikes, nor any barrier/bollard from keeping cars from using the lane as an HOV lane or for additional parking. If it was in Europe, there would be a bollard at the intersection (where a car is turning in the photo) and curbs in that white buffered area. If there are no cars parked there, what keeps a car with a distracted visitor from the USA from hitting the cyclists?

Ray Atkinson
Guest

I have biked in Copenhagen and several cities in the Netherlands, so I have seen European style protected bike lanes. Regarding your question, only paint stops a distracted driver from hitting a cyclist in a parking protected bike lane that has no motor vehicles parked in the parking lane. This is one reason why parking protected bike lanes need to be installed where motor vehicles are constantly parked in the parking lane.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Is this what we’re shooting for? Parking “protected” bike lanes? The ones I’ve seen in Portland are really uncomfortable to ride in. The one on Multnomah always has cars parked on top of the buffer, making the entire bike lane a door zone. Anywhere there is a driveway intersecting a parking protected bike lane, drivers can turn across it without being able to see cyclists hidden behind parked cars. If someone steps out in front of you, or there is junk in the bike lane, there is no way to leave the lane. If cars are parked all the way up to the intersection, you can’t get out to make a left turn.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Parking “protected” just creates different hazards. The only one I ever really ride in is the “original” PSU Broadway lane. Sure, you’re unlikely to get rear-ended (unless it’s by someone bending over to unload junk from the open passenger-side door of their car), but you have “just-for-a-second” drop-offs stopping in the bike lane, pedestrians milling about in the bike lane waiting for signals or saying good-bye to their drivers after being dropped off, or stepping off into you because they think they spy a break in car traffic over the tops of the parked cars. You have drivers swinging their front bumpers way into the bike lane to do a “sneak-in” parking job (instead of backing into parallel parking like you’re supposed to). You have the “slow” person riding down the middle of the lane dragging you down the back side of the “green wave” (with no way to overtake if they don’t move right next to the curb), and of course, the motorist who, despite seeing the lateral position of the other 25 parked cars they’ve passed, thinks those drivers have all done it wrong and insists on parking in the bike lane because it’s next to the curb.

Overall, it’s a gauntlet that I used to manage just fine without any bike lane at all. I mean, I guess if it’s only for two of the last ten minutes of my hour-long commute, that’s fine, but I’d hate to have to travel like that everywhere.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

That one is really poorly marked. I know a guy, ahem, who accidentally thought he was behind a line of cars waiting for the light, and tried to park in that bike lane.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

And really, how protected is it if you can just drive right onto it and not even notice?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Thank you for the clarification, by the way.

TonyT
Subscriber
TonyT

Since we have a Vancouver city right next door to us, I think you should default to “Vancouver, BC” whenever mentioning that Vancouver. It becomes obvious when you hit the article, but in terms of clarity on the BP page, that’s my vote.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Vancouver Wash dates from about 1800 or so, when the fort was first built as a trading post; Lewis & Clark recorded visiting it in 1805. Vancouver BC was founded in 1889. Nearby New Westminster is much older. Both are named for Captain George Vancouver of the Royal Navy, as was the island. He explored the area in 1792 and named Mt. Hood after the admiral who signed his officer commission, Sam Hood. McLaughlin, who later came back to the area, was his surgeon; Baker and Rainer were both officers on his ship.

BB
Guest
BB

None of that has any bearing on the subject.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Having lived in Seattle (about halfway between Vancouver BC and Vancouver WA), my perspective is that BC is the default Vancouver. Lots of Seattleites talk about making trips to Vancouver, BC. No one goes out of their way to visit Vancouver, WA.

BB
Guest
BB

This website is about bikes in Portland, OR, which is directly across the Columbia river from Vancouver, WA. Just because Vancouver BC is more of a destination for people who live in Seattle doesn’t have any bearing here.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

The comment wasn’t about Seattle. I could have said Medford, or Denver, or Boise, or Charlotte. Just showing what a bubble Portland can be. Anywhere outside about – oh, a 15 mile radius – the Vancouver in British Columbia is the more important one.

BB
Guest
BB

Again, this website is about riding bikes in Portland, Oregon. Not Medford or Denver or Boise or Charlotte, regardless of how you feel people in those cities think about anyplace named Vancouver.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Again, this just shows how privincial Portlanders can be. Outside the tiny Portland bubble – including to those Portlanders who’ve actually lived elsewhere – “Vancouver” means the Canadian city. The website may be about Portland, but the context of the headline was clearly the Cascadia region, not just Portland. Despite 18 years living in the Portland bubble myself, it did not even occur to me upon seeing the headline that Vancouver, WA would be a candidate. They should have just renamed it Fort Vancouver already, to eliminate the silly confusion.

You’re proposing a New Rule. I’m saying it’s not necessary, especially when the context clearly implies a world larger than the Portland metro.

Adam
Subscriber

Vancouver is one of my favorite cities in the world — it’s basically a grown-up version of Portland; what we’d look like if we actually executed all of our plans for increased density, better cycling facilities, quality public transport, etc., rather than just letting them rot on a bookshelf. We would do well to copy them.

Monkeysee
Guest
Monkeysee

They are so grown up in fact that they allow their community members to ride bicycles​ on trail networks in their largest Urban park. A park which appears to me to be much like our largest urban park. Hmmmm.

https://youtu.be/vWIogcJE1NM

Pete
Guest
Pete

Except that the arguments for lowering housing prices by increasing density get blown out of the water in Vancouver (BC).

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The notion that increasing density leads to falling housing prices is simply unsupported by any actual facts.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Two things about the relationship between density and prices in Vancouver:

– I don’t think enough time has elapsed to show the true effect of increasing density on prices in Vancouver. As we’re seeing in Portland, new housing is expensive. Developers only build if they can get a return. Portland basically prohibited apartment construction for five decades (early 60s-early 2010s). Likewise, Vancouver’s massive construction boom is relatively recent. Many of the older buildings can be expected to become increasingly affordable as they depreciate, if the industry keeps building new units to meet demand. Lesson: depreciated housing is affordable housing.

– Just because Vancouver is dense and expensive doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be any more expensive if it were less dense. Remember, Vancouver is ALL of Canada’s west coast: its LA (entertainment industry), San Francisco (diverse and lively) and Seattle (beautiful NW scenery and recreation) rolled into one city. Demand for the privilege of living there is staggering. Everyone in Canada wants to move to BC. No matter how many units you build, more people will come.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>> depreciated housing is affordable housing <<<

I am very dubious of claims that we need to build today to ensure that we'll have affordable housing in 50 years. I really don't think it works like that. If it did, we'd have more affordable housing around than we do, since much of our housing stock is old.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Here’s an edit suggestion: older housing, if it’s in a market with sufficient supply, including newer housing, relative to the number of people in/moving to an area, tends to be affordable housing.

Unfortunately, under the influence of the automobile and suburbanization, between ~1940 and ~1970, every last city in the U.S. (including zoning-free Houston) drastically restricted the density allowed for new construction and added extremely expensive parking requirements. These restrictions have stayed in force, and in many cases been tightened, until a few cities (under the weight of their popularity) started to loosen them a tiny bit in small areas in the last decade. So of course there are no U.S. examples of cities that have built lots of new dense development, relative to the influx of people and the desire and $ of wealthier people to live in larger spaces per person, and thus successfully keeping prices low. None have built much dense development to begin with (relative to the influx of people and the increased desire and $ of wealthier people to live in larger spaces per person) so it’s impossible to find examples that have led to low prices.

Given this history, saying that you want to see an example of a city that’s allowed enough dense development to become affordable is like saying in 1980, “Name an example of a state that has gotten gay and lesbian couples to be as stable as straight couples through all these gay equality laws. You can’t, can you??”

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Depends upon what you mean by “density”. Do you mean housing units per area? Or do you mean people housed per area? For example, the Pearl has more housing per area than anywhere else in Portland, but the number of people per unit is half that of “suburban” Powellhurst-Gilbert, with its families crammed into cheap housing (1.43 vs 3.08).

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

In other words, “this time is different, trust us… ”

At least you concede that there is no evidence that increasing density will lower housing costs, only a faith that the market will achieve a desirable outcome if only it’s released from the shackles that have held it back all these years. That is an argument more often put forth by libertarians and conservatives, and it’s usually wrong.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

There’s plenty of evidence, just not the specific kind you stipulated. For example, it’s well-established in the economics literature that U.S. metro areas with stronger limits on housing production experienced higher rises in housing prices over the last few decades, and all the tests that have been done are consistent with the regulatory limits causing the higher price rises. It stands to reason that reducing limits on housing production would therefore reduce the growth rate of housing prices. Whether it would go negative, I don’t know, but a housing cost growth rate lower than the growth in median wages would satisfy me.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>> metro areas with stronger limits on housing production experienced higher rises in housing prices over the last few decades <<<

Could it be that these places "with limits on housing production" are simply more desirable to many people, who might be less attracted to a "big city" environment of hardscapes and tall buildings?

Further deregulating the building market might well ensure a greater supply of Class A housing, but developers won't invest their resources into building less profitable Class B and Class C housing which would rent for less, until demand for Class A is sated (here and in other markets where a given developer might build). As long as Portland continues to import entire software development teams from the Bay Area, demand will remain high.

And in the meantime, prices of single-family housing will continue to race ever-higher as we have a larger pool of interested buyers wanting to graduate from their top-tier studio apartments and start a family, plant a garden, or simply move to a "more adult" housing situation. That will drive families who can't afford those houses (but for whom raising a family in an apartment is not attractive) out of the city, increasing the economic inequality we already have.

Left to its own devices, the free market will continue to maximize profitability by creating an ever-more lopsided housing supply. Not only will that not help us on the affordability front, it will set us up for a cascading series of crises down the road. And it will not result in a better city.

I believe we need a more carefully regulated market, with more affordability "baked in" than what we currently have. Absent another economic crisis, increasing housing prices are inevitable. Minimizing redevelopment of affordable housing may slow price growth, but until housing reaches some equilibrium point, prices will continue to grow.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

HK – re: people liking less-dense environments more –
Well, given that the places that experienced higher price rises due to restrictions on density increases had widely varying densities (all the way from low-density places like San Luis Obispo to San Francisco/NYC) I’d say “No, quite a number of people have tried to find plausible causes for this effect other than the level of regulation and haven’t come up with anything credible.”

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

As you note, places with high density (like NYC) are experiencing high price rises. If even NYC isn’t dense enough, what do you envision for Portland?

I do not oppose increasing density, but I want to do so in ways that do not damage the parts of the city that I like. This probably means no large apartment buildings in residential zones, preserving formal and informal greenspace, and generally preserving the “look and feel” of the city. There is definitely room to add housing and density within those general parameters, but simply removing the rules and hoping the “invisible hand” makes things work will give us neither affordability nor an attractive city. That said, I believe in self-determination, and if a neighborhood wanted to change their zoning, I’d be predisposed to agree.

Anyway, it sounds like you’ve got some literature to back up your statements, which I’d like to see, especially for the statement that the only plausible explanation for increasing prices is regulation. Could you please post a citation?

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

In my opinion, the affordable housing issue is related to the demolition issue.

When an existing house is demolished to build a new house or duplex, the new house/duplex units are more expensive than the original house. (That is pretty much unavoidable due to construction costs: figure $170 per square foot, the new 3,000 square foot structure costs $510,000 to build, plus $300,000 or more to buy the original house, plus $30,000 for demolition and permits, plus the developer’s profit margin.)

So that’s one older and likely affordable unit gone, replaced by one or two new and expensive units. Repeat that several thousand times across the city . . .

I would like to see Portland do something to strongly encourage re-use of our existing houses – including internally converting them to duplexes – and to strongly discourage demolition. Whatever happened to the demolition tax that was being discussed a year ago?

I’m not talking about replacing a single house with many new units (e.g. an apartment building). Or about a homeowner building a new house to live in rather than to flip. Those are different situations, in my opinion.

Basically, we have to realize that “new” is more expensive than “existing”, and that the most affordable house is the one that already exists. Many times, the reason why a duplex is affordable is not because it is so-called “missing middle” housing – it is because it is old. Build the same structure new, and it won’t be affordable.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Or, sometimes, as at 27th & Clinton, and entire complex is razed and rebuilt (and it’s big trees removed). I don’t know the details, but I am confident that rents increased in the process.

I will note that while the new building is not completely to my tastes, aesthetically, it is quite an improvement over what was there.

Pete
Guest
Pete

“depreciated housing is affordable housing”

Here in the SF Bay Area, depreciated housing is demolished to make way for (denser) expensive housing.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

To clarify the claim about the impact of regulation on prices (which I made in a bit of economics jargon, sorry for the lack of clarity), there is a portion (a large one) of the rise in housing prices over recent decades in primarily coastal metros that is correlated with regulatory restrictions on supply and not with other factors. The claim is not that regulation is the only determinant of housing price rises (which is clearly false), but rather that regulation is an important determinant of housing price rises, and that within the range of housing supply restrictions present in American metros, more-restricted housing supply causes faster price increases. Given the large amount of research that has been done, most all of it supporting this claim, I think the evidence for this claim is strong.

Glaeser & Gyourko are the acknowledged leaders in this arena. Googling “Glaeser and Gyourko regulation impact on prices” gets a variety of articles, here is one:

http://www.nber.org/papers/w8835.pdf

Yes, since 2002 the housing price rise has spread to a wider variety of metros and gotten more intense, but that article deals well with quite a lot of alternate explanations of location-based housing price rise which is why I link to it. Here are more though:

https://www.google.com/search?q=glaeser+%26+gyourko+regulation+impact+on+prices&oq=glaeser+%26+gyourko+regulation+impact+on+prices&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.8946j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Thanks for the link, it will take a while to digest. But so that I’m clear, your belief is that if we were to do away with all landuse regulations, the cost of housing in Portland would fall to the cost of production (the definition used by the authors of the paper). Would builders continue to cater to the top-end, or would they start building inexpensive units? Would giving developers free reign result in a better city overall?

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I believe that, if we had much reduced limits on density and required parking spaces, design review, etc. in Portland, the price of multifamily housing would fall to close to the cost of production. It would be better if it were done at the metro area level, but Portland is a sizeable part of the metro, and I’d guess it constitutes a majority of the multifamily market already. This change wouldn’t have a whole lot of impact on the prices of single-family homes, but I’d rather have one type of housing affordable and the other expensive than have all types of housing be expensive.

FYI – I think increased regulation on the pricing side is smart to increase stability for renters and avoid bubbles. It’s not a matter of “less regulation good, more regulation bad” – it’s a matter of “Is this government policy serving our needs, and if not, is there a change that could be made to improve outcomes?”

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Also – re: NYC – what’s relevant isn’t the level of density, but how much *more* density is allowed by law. NYC has very tight FAR, height, unit density restrictions relative to what exists there over almost its entire land area. So, adding additional housing units is extremely difficult. The very idea of “dense enough” doesn’t work – it’s completely location dependent. The idea of “Is much *more* density being allowed, and how much extra cost is being imposed on developers, and ultimately, new-housing residents through parking requirements, design review, etc. etc.?” is a lot more applicable.

To give an example, San Luis Obispo has no need to allow skyscrapers at this time, but if it allowed low-rise apartment and condo buildings with no parking requirements throughout the city, I am certain that rent and condo prices would fall considerably there.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Your vision for plentiful cheap housing for everyone who wants to live on the west coast but doesn’t want to pay Seattle or Bay Area rents sounds great. Have you thought about how much housing that would actually require, and what that would mean for our infrastructure? Maybe we would need to adopt the same demand-based planning for our roads to ensure we had sufficient capacity for all those new people.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Yep, increased population growth imposes costs on current residents (it also creates benefits for them – us – but let’s focus on the costs for now). Personally, I think bearing the costs is worthwhile, because the alternative is continuing the quickly progressing exclusion of poor and middle-class folks from the city. I want my children to be able to live in Portland, if they so choose. At the current rate, they won’t be able to make that choice unless they’re quite wealthy.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’m not worried so much about the financial costs, though they could be substantial. I’m really interested in how much new construction would be required to absorb all the demand as long as Portland remains the cheapest housing market on the west coast, and whether our city would be at all livable if we were to do that.

A supply-side solution to housing in Portland is utterly unworkable (and environmentally irresponsible), and I think we will do great damage to our city if we were to pursue it.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Liveable for whom? If a future Portland is “liveable” by your definition, but only affordable for people who make $200,000 or more a year in 2017 dollars, is that such a wonderful thing?

Also, people live happily in cities far, far denser than Portland. For example, Paris (more than 10 times denser than Portland).

https://www.google.com/search?q=portland+oregon+population+density&oq=portland+oregon+population+density&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.4928j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

https://thinkprogress.org/paris-denser-than-you-think-bba351f91437

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Paris is denser, and is a very pleasant place (at least to visit). Do you see a realistic path for us to become a new Paris? If we can figure out how to make that work, I might be on board. But Paris did not become what it is by slashing regulation and letting developers run amok. Nor is Paris known for its inexpensive housing.

Density has a strong negative correlation with affordability.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

PARIS HAS NOT SIGNIFICANTLY DENSIFIED FOR CENTURIES, HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY CLAIM THAT ITS DENSITY AND UNAFFORDABILITY ARE SALIENT TO THE IMPACT OF CHANGES IN DENSITY ON AFFORDABILITY?!?! I am done with this conversation. You make no effort to look for the truth on this topic, just ways to look for counterarguments that suit your predetermined beliefs.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’m sorry, but Paris is just so far off the mark. It is a beautiful and dense city, but it was also carefully planned and is very expensive. It is not a good model for Portland. We are simply not capable of planning at that level, and, even if we were, we could never afford to build it.

The fact is that I am unswayed by your faith in deregulation as an effective tool to create a city that is affordable, livable, and attractive.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>> Everyone in Canada wants to move to BC. No matter how many units you build, more people will come. <<<

This is my observation as well, and is why building more housing won't actually lower prices; it will only increase the number of people you can fit into your city (which may or may not be a good thing, and is a question we should be asking more often).

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

“… it will only increase the number of people you can fit into your city (which may or may not be a good thing, and is a question we should be asking more often).”

Hear, hear.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

As one of the Washington County commissioners explained to me, the developers in the area are the biggest campaign contributors to the commissioners’ campaigns (at least in WashCo), so that’s who they are beholden to. In our ‘democracy’ it’s pretty easy to buy the decisions you want.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Jamming ever more people into cities, towns and rural areas, isn’t particularly a good idea, but for a long time Oregon, I don’t think this happening, has been by way of direct choice made by elected officials, the public, or developers.

Does Beaverton, or Portland, Hillsboro, Tualitan, etc, really need more people to provide a greater tax base from which to draw revenue to provide systems for providing basic services those municipalities already are providing? Of course not. Local officials now, are simply in a position of having to keep up with increasing population, by competing with other municipalities across the nation for federal government funds with which they can help to expand services to meet the growing populations’ needs..

Developers are responding to greater market demand for housing. A surplus of housing, is of no benefit to them. As long as there are people out there with the money in hand to pay for expensive housing, which Washington County has because of hi-tech and companies like Nike and a bunch of other high wage offering companies, it doesn’t seem to me that there is going to be surplus housing at low prices to people with low incomes needing homes.

Very methodically, and steadily without many people living in the counties, my own county, Washington, for sure…realizing it, the high quality elements of livability that have characterized their home county, and to some extent, towns and cities too, have been converted to urban, suburban and industrial use in service to a growing population it seems most people are resigned to accepting as something that either will not, or cannot be stopped.

I see it happening, but what to do about it is a puzzle. One of the most obvious and difficult things to see, is how the surrounding mountain and ridgetops have been so easily surrendered to housing development. Now, instead of extensive tracts of luxurious green forest growth and quiet roads to drive an ride upon through them…there are extensive patches of asphalt rooftops which can be seen from down in the valley and from remaining viewpoints on the mountains and ridges across the valley to others. How sacrificing these scenic and natural resources for the site of expensive housing for people with high incomes,, significantly and justly addresses the need for housing of a growing population nobody seems to be willing to manage, is an ever continuing mystery to me.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

correction:

“….but for a long time in Oregon, I don’t think this happening, has been by way of direct choice made by elected officials, the public, or developers. …”

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Jamming ever more people into cities, towns and rural areas, isn’t particularly a good idea, but for a long time Oregon, I don’t think this happening, has been by way of direct choice made by elected officials, the public, or developers. ”

You may not be aware of this, but it is in fact SOP for elected officials, our laws and codes and statutes and priorities to attract, incentivize, subsidize in-migration, people moving here, working here, renting, buying houses. This is a huge problem, though it is rarely recognized much less problematized. Alternatives to Growth Oregon was an organization dedicated to raising these issues. I’ve mentioned them here frequently. Their website should give you an introduction to this subject: http://www.agoregon.org/page34.htm

P.S. Way too many commas, not to mention the other quirks that make comprehension needlessly difficult.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Campaign finance reform is a start.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…but it is in fact SOP for elected officials, our laws and codes and statutes and priorities to attract, incentivize, subsidize in-migration, people moving here, working here, renting, buying houses. …” 9 watts

I think elected officials accommodate growth, under obligation by the federal government: money. And also, business: money. I’ve heard of ‘no growth’ communities and small towns…can’t recall names of them off-hand, but I think they’re uncommon and looked dimly upon, as elitist, and maybe some other even less complimentary names.

I think it’s probably not so easy for a town or population to be ‘no-growth’, unless the town or the population has independent means of supporting itself. It’s a very tough situation, really. Even modest income people with a little land they’ve managed to save up and buy, to sell for something to ease retirement, want to be able to anticipate that the land value will appreciate, and that they might be able to get out of the land, a lot more than they paid for it. It takes growth for that to happen.

soren
Guest
soren

you know what helps lower housing prices?
regulation/taxation that reduces the subsidies that have contributed to a speculative frenzy and spurred the equity-rich (e.g. homeowners) to make the construction of affordable/public multi-family housing illegal in much of portland.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Zoning laws grew out of a “speculative frenzy”? That’s an interesting historical tidbit I was unaware of.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I have a hard time digesting singular focus on the correlation between the current price levels of homes (anywhere remotely desirable) and the supply and demand argument. Seems like the first assumption there is one home per owner, and I can assure you that’s not so common a scenario anymore – many homes aren’t even owned by local people let alone lived in by them. Second, a decade of interest rates dropping to what could be considered “free money”, homeownership encouraged by everything from mortgage interest deductions to Obama-era first-time buyer incentives to certain states’ property tax ceilings (i.e. California’s prop 13) indisputably factor in. Add baby boomers who bought houses en masse for $30K in places like California then sold them for $800K after the kids left to buy condos in the Pearl, and throw in a dash of scary stock market swings turning real estate into “real” investment opportunity, and it’s no wonder many folks my age have already retired solely on their rental portfolios.

BB
Guest
BB

This doesn’t address the fact that the older housing that is supposed to be affordable actually just becomes unreliable housing in that any older housing is directly in the bulldozer’s path as developers want to turn it into the new, expensive housing as quickly as possible. The demand for housing in hip west coast cities is becoming far more than these cities can accommodate regardless of density, so be prepared to either fork over more and more rent, or relocate, as density increases.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Vancouver (and Victoria) also has the mildest climate in Canada by a long shot. A significant problem withe real estate market in Vancouver is that a lot of Chinese investors park hundreds of millions of dollars into condos and real estate. Many of these are not lived in. This keeps the the supply tight and inflates the cost. Lat I hear, they were seeking ways to legislate this because the cost of housing has gotten so expensive that they are losing workforce and it is starting to impact livability.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

well that totally explains New York and San Francisco. All that old housing is totally cheap!

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

SF and NY aren’t expensive because they’re dense, or because their housing is new or old. They are expensive because they are San Francisco and New York. Do you really think either of these cities would become cheaper if you razed all the old houses and put up new construction in their place?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

They would probably get a fair bit more expensive, since someone has to pay for all that new construction, and the new housing would probably be more up-market than what it replaced.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

In fact open sprawl often leads to much reduced rents and house costs, as well as more housing choices. Land values rise near freeways and interchanges and fall in older blighted neighborhoods. The real advantages for density are reduced travel costs and time needed to travel, and more travel options, as well as much reduced costs for infrastructure maintenance, such as roads, sewers, water, and transit.

Pete
Guest
Pete

“The real advantages for density are… ”

At the expense of space. Not everyone wants to live in shared-wall scenarios with limited parking and nowhere to play with the kids and dogs. So yes, the ‘suburban’ options start out cheaper and invoke driving, and then increase in price but still don’t reduce driving, and eventually get touched by rail or other public transit, still leading to suburban users decrying “I have to fund them but they don’t meet my needs, so I have to drive and wait in traffic where my tax money should really buy me more lanes to use instead.”

Vicious cycle.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

The useful question to inform policy isn’t, “Are dense metros cheaper than non-dense metros?” There’s too many confounding variables (population, inmigration, wealth, regulatory restrictions on sprawl, geographic restrictions on sprawl like water, mountains) to make that analysis fruitful. I’d say the useful question is – “All else equal (including the presence/absence of an urban growth boundary), if you allow density rather than not allowing it, will that cause housing prices to increase less quickly than they otherwise would?” The economics literature I’ve seen says yes.

9watts
Guest
9watts

sounds suspiciously like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic to me.

How about this question: ‘if we grapple with the disbenefits to very nearly everyone of not just permitting but actively incentivizing and subsidizing exponential population growth, let us parameterize the housing cost/availability benefits that will follow.’

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

To me, that’s not really the right question. I’d ask what set of policies creates a city that is the most livable and maximizes the happiness of the people who are here. Cost of housing is certainly important, but we have other values as well (sustainability, vibrancy, etc.), and, unlike some others here, I prioritize those who live here over those who might move here in the future.

The problem with a supply-side solution is that 1) there are limits on how well it can work in practice, and I think those limits are fatal in a city like Portland, and 2) if we pursue it, we will damage many of the other things that we value about our city (without really solving the affordability problem).

My conclusion is that there is no way to forestall housing prices continuing to rise in Portland (even if we abandoned the UGB). Building more might make it more comfortable for those at the top end, but we cannot build enough to have those benefits trickle down to the lowest tiers. Just like road building won’t fix congestion, house building won’t fix housing prices, even though both seem like obviously apt solutions.

I support increasing density, but I know that doing so will increase the cost of housing. “We’ve never tried” is not a convincing argument. The world has lots of dense cities, but the list of those that are attractive, dense, and inexpensive is vanishingly short.

soren
Guest
soren

cities manage to address affordability by…drumroll…building more affordable housing. arguing for continued exclusion of rental housing from much of portland’s land is incredibly regressive.

soren
Guest
soren

“I prioritize those who live here over those who might move here in the future.”

it seems you also prioritize those who live here over those who are being displaced by unfettered capitalism.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Ah, you are mistaken. I am arguing against unfettered capitalism.

And we’re not building affordable housing. I have been arguing for preserving it where we can.

soren
Guest
soren

Most of the increase in inequality in wealthy nations can be explained by income derived from housing ownership. This is why land use policies that exclude renters are so perverse.

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2015a_rognlie.pdf

soren
Guest
soren

We are building many hundreds of units of affordable housing (through a variety of mechanisms) and could easily scale this up to thousands with the right incentives and funding mechanisms. Exclusionary land use policy is a major, if not, the major barrier to building more affordable housing in areas with appropriate infrastructure.

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/phb/60926

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The vast majority of property owners are former renters.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Oh, and I should note that anyone can build rental property in any residential zone. Though you keep claiming such restrictions exist, I am pretty certain you are incorrect. I can see at least 4 rental houses from my window, one of which was built in the last 5 years.

soren
Guest
soren

R7, R5 and R2.5 zones put a cap on renters in most of portland. Instead of rent control we have “renter” control.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

They put the same cap on owners. Sounds discriminatory.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Too bad we cannot copy their form of government and tax structure. Most income and gas taxes go directly to the province and not the central government in Ottawa, severely limiting Canada’s ability to fight pointless and expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, let alone build expensive empty freeways to the Yukon and Nanavut.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

True, but with climate change shrinking the ice-road season down to near nothing, Canada may end up building expensive highways to Nunavut after all.

mran1984
Guest

Great, now when do we mtb like they do?

Jon
Guest
Jon

Oregon should increase the gas and diesel taxes like California. It would not hurt to do what California does for vehicle registration also which is to base the registration fee on the value of the vehicle. If you register a new $50,000 BMW you pay a lot more than when you register a used $1,000 1994 Ford Escort. It would be a great way to make driving fees a little more “progressive”. Additional gas and registration fees don’t require any new tax collection infrastructure.

Monkeysee
Guest
Monkeysee

Are there property taxes on cars in Oregon? My home state has always had that.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

No, cars do not incur property taxes in Oregon. I haven’t heard of other states doing that, although many states have registration fees based on the approximate value of the vehicle, which might be considered akin to a property tax. Washington used to do this (when I lived there), but changed to a flat model a few years ago. Minnesota still does.

Last I heard, so does California. For all of its car-craziness, my understanding is it can be amazingly expensive to register a car there, especially in places like Los Angeles. I remember visiting a family in LA who had a modest sedan and minivan, both a few years ago, and was astounded to hear their registration fees topped $1000 a year. And this was 30 years ago. I was much more car-head back then, but even at the time it seemed like a good idea to me.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Out of curiosity I looked up what I just paid the CA DMV for my 2011 Acura: $177. Not sure if it’s different by city (I live in Santa Clara). When I lived in Massachusetts there was an “excise tax” for cars over a certain amount, and I suspect many states still have “luxury taxes” on expensive cars (not sure about CA).

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

“don’t require any new tax collection infrastructure.”

I’m very interested in the vehicle value-based registration fee in California. I didn’t spend a lot of effort, but wasn’t able to figure out how they’re doing the valuation. Is the DMV going to use a Blue Book value? Will they adjust for condition? Curious about the effort required to use this system.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The “textalyzer” device, sounds like an idea with some potential for countering distracted driving. It allows the police to, without touching someone’s phone, readily check whether they have been using the phone while driving, rather than conversation content.

The ACLU is worried, rightly so, about further invasion into people’s right to privacy, and maybe has concerns about illegal search and seizure too. The story loosely says though, that police in NY, already can search people’s phone records, but it’s a more involved, time consuming process than the textalyzer allows.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

To figure out what I was doing (i.e. swipes, using the screen, etc), the textualizer would need low level access to the phone. And if it works for the cops, anyone could do it.

Even if the goal makes sense, that’s a phone that’s so insecure no one should be using it.

dan
Guest
dan

Well, we let police have guns, I think we can let them have a textalyzer, as long as they only show activity (phone was swiped, characters typed, etc.) without revealing specific details like what was typed.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I like the idea of ticketing people​texting while driving, but I am very way of giving the government more tools for accessing our data. Just look around the world to see what happens when that technology is in the hands of a malevolent government.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Agreed. People are giving away their privacy left and right.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

And you believe a method that allows an unauthenticated user to determine exactly when swiping/typing/etc activity took place could not be used to determine what that activity is?

The issue is not with cops having access to limited and relevant info — I can believe that officers in the field could only see what they’re supposed to. I do not have that same faith about ordinary criminals or anyone else that wants to get into the phone.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Security is in the eye of the beholder. One of the most ‘secure’ phones on the market today is the iPhone 6. Cellebrite, the Israeli company that makes the ‘Textalizer’ quoted in the article, successfully compromised the San Bernadino shooter’s iPhone 6 for the FBI in just a few days.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

So with resources that were unlimited for all practical purposes, a crack team made worldwide news by breaking into a phone that has had both the hardware and OS updated since then. You’d think the cops would just bust into such an insecure phone themselves…

Pete
Guest
Pete

There’s no difference in ‘security’ in an iPhone 6 or 7 running iOS 10. The same crypto engine hardware’s been in use since iPhone 5; only the software has changed. Also, it doesn’t take “unlimited” resources to crack devices, only the right ones…

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

So what’s your point? According to the FBI director, the solution works only on iPhone 5Cs running iOS 9 and Apple vowed to fix it. This means they don’t have a method for iPhone6 or 7.

This was a one shot method that the FBI and LEO couldn’t even use on the same phone. They don’t even know what the method was.

Cracking good security is way harder than people make it out to be. Have you ever tried (I have)?

Pete
Guest
Pete

They all have the same TPM hardware, but few people know how to program TPMs, and iOS 10 remediated the vuln that Cellebrite likely leveraged (if the press tells you they stumbled on it by accident, I don’t believe them). That’s the irony… the gov’t essentially locked themselves on the other side of the door they paid to open. (People often think “encryption” when they think security, is my point, but key negotiation and management is where the vulns tend to be).

“Have you ever tried?”

Some history, for fun… I hacked a Vax PDP-11 in high school by discretely unclipping the OS drive – an 8″ floppy – while logging in, modernly known as an “escalation of privilege” attack, and then created a superuser account and played around by adding demerits to those who bullied me. (These days I’d just introduce you to people who are really good at it; I don’t claim to be).

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

But the bottom line is breaking into things requires compromising hardware or software. That’s way easier with small amounts of info on relatively simple hardware than the stuff they have today. That’s why the cops are so interested in this stuff — it’s too hard for them to get in right now

I see no serious privacy issue with what they’re asking, but I find it difficult to believe a cracking technique that yields what they want could not be used for more. Rather, I think the phones need be specifically designed to provide this information safely. A law requiring phones sold in the US to have such a feature would gradually penetrate the population not that many people would be willing to use gray market channels to circumvent it.

Your trick reminds me of a prank I used to play back in the day. Basically, you find where someone’s code is stored, change it so it does something bizarre, create remark filled with backspaces that backs over your bоgus code followed by their legit code so what happens isn’t what they see.

For example, if they have a line that says:

a = 1

You can put anything you want such as

a = 99 REM1

but they only see

a = 1

At the time, the only way to see what was going on was to print it out so they go nuts. I just tried it right now. You can still use backspaces to mask stuff, but some editors might render codes rather than backing over the text

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

This is an interesting thought exercise. We’re making a pretty big leap to think that the police have any such desire to fully investigate an act of driving violence in an attempt to charge a driver with wrong-doing. We have seen case after case where there is obvious evidence right of front of them that is willfully ignored, while they actively seek out ways to defend the driver and find fault with the victim.

Pete
Guest
Pete

When I followed the case of my neighbor Stan Wicka who was killed by Melanie Souza, detectives had pulled phone records and believed the witness statements that she seemed to be texting when she swerved out of her travel lane. It was actually the prosecutors who were willing to settle, since she was only 19 and it was her first offense. I personally think Stan not having family here to push the DAs for justice was also a factor.

Our other neighbor, a cop who knew the detectives investigating the case, explained that the problem with records is they can’t easily be timed closely to events, because they’re time-stamped down to seconds, whereas investigations just can’t pinpoint collision timing closely enough to correlate to specific driver actions, and if there’s a passenger in the car there’s no way to trace activity directly to the driver (regardless of who’s phone it is).

Anyway, she was driving alone, and she got a slap on the wrist… my opinion is you’re dead on.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Since I haven’t noticed in bikeportland elsewhere this week so far, regarding collisions, check out the story on today’s oregonlive.com. It reports on a collision from last august, as the story says, on Hwy 26 near the Vista Bridge. Location description doesn’t jive with my understanding of the area, because the Vista is quite a ways east, on Jefferson, rather than the highway. Maybe I misread, and the story said ‘vista tunnels’, rather than bridge.

Main part of the story: DUI driver crashes into a couple pedestrians, kills one, goes home without stopping, calls up the police and turns himself in. Had a .22 BAC. 9 months later, his sentence is a 30 day license suspension. Sorry, lazy today, don’t have the link to the story. Also, apologize if I’m relaying any of the facts incorrectly. It’s a short story, but worth reading, because it explains some, why the sentence of the person driving, was not more severe.

It’s important to know what the story does not say: ..whether the two people were crossing the actual highway…very dangerous at that point…or the Jefferson St approach to the highway.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“worth reading, because it explains some, why the sentence of the person driving, was not more severe.”

Not more severe than 30 days? I’m shocked. Even without reading the O’s take I’m going to register my chagrin. I’m not surprised that you took the sentence in stride, however.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Oooh….30 day license suspension! Basically a meaningless punishment. ‘If we catch you driving this month, we’ll slap you on the hand again!’

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Watts and Dan a…take a quick browse of the O story.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Earlier, I was trying to type on the tablet.

“…I’m not surprised that you took the sentence in stride, however. …” watts

watts, I have no idea what you mean by that statement, by it may be interesting to see if you can explain what you were thinking.

I think it could be worthwhile for people to read the Oregonian story on the sentence given for this collision, because it offers a little bit of detail on the technical limitations police offers and the rest of the justice system are confronted with when they seek to determine the circumstances of crimes committed, and the sentence that is justifiable based on the law that exists now.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Maybe you could post a link? I can’t find the story – thanks oregonlive (www’s worst search function).

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

That was not a good summary. Next time just give a link.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2017/05/drunken_driver_gets_30_days_af.html

Pedestrians dart across Highway 26 near the Vista Ridge Tunnel at 10:08pm. Terrible time and location to be crossing.

But aside from that fact, Brent McCune had a .22 BAC after having driven from the Broadmoor Golf Course in NE Portland to his home west of Hwy 217 in Beaverton, 19 miles away, and then waiting at his home for Police to arrive and test him. I wonder what it was when he started driving. And then he left her there to die.

“Multnomah County Circuit Judge Thomas Ryan followed the terms of a plea agreement in sentencing McCune to the 30 days in jail, three years of probation, 200 hours of community service, an evaluation to learn if he has drug and alcohol problems and treatment if necessary. McCune’s driver’s license also will be suspended for five years.”

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

My apologies for not including the link. I read the story on the tablet using wi-fi in a public place…so I didn’t have the link in the history of the pc with dialup I used to post the comment here. In the comment here, I just wrote the details as I recalled them, so I knew some might be in error. Dan…thanks for finding the story and posting the link.

From the story, is this excerpt offering some insight into the question of what offense or crime the person driving could be charged and convicted of:

“…McCune wasn’t charged with manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide because there wasn’t evidence that a sober driver could have avoided hitting 31-year-old Savannah Munden, said Deputy District Attorney Elisabeth Waner. …”

I thought the fact stated that evidence wasn’t available to suggest a sober driver couldn’t have avoided collided with the person crossing, was interesting. The kind of evidence that would have been needed to indicate that a sober driver, could have avoided colliding with someone in the situation where the collision occurred, is something I wondered about.

In the O story, is a link to the earlier O story from last august. It gives some better detail on where the collision occurred. http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2016/08/driver_in_fatal_hit-and-run_cr.html

Different writer, that story reports: “…Traffic investigators believe McCune was driving southbound on Interstate 405 onto U.S. 26 when he struck two people on the roadway, Simpson said. …”. In other words, east of the Vista tunnels.

Whether it’s connected, I don’t know, but people have camped with tents on those knolls above the highway and just west of 13th to the south of where the highway exits onto Market St . People tend to be traveling very fast on 405 when they take the exit Hwy 26. Driving east into town on 26 just before 13th, when they were there, the tents were very visible. Driving south on 405 and taking the 26 exit, I don’t think tents on the knoll would be visible. From this direction, most people likely wouldn’t expect that tents would be there, and of all routes to take, that someone might be trying to cross the highway to get to them.

“…McCune pleaded guilty Monday to hit-and-run driving and driving while under the influence of intoxicants. …” oregonian

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Considering there was no manslaughter conviction, this sentencing is beyond what we’re used to seeing. I have no complaints. I’m not sure it’s fair to expect any driver to dodge people dashing across a walled-in highway in the dark. There’s a reasonable expectation that this part of the highway will not be used for foot traffic, and there’s a way for pedestrians to cross underneath on 18th avenue.

9watts
Guest
9watts

were there any convictions for the DUII or the Hit and Run parts of this unfortunate occurrence? Both of those are or used to be considered crimes even when no on is killed.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

It was a plea agreement.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Also, I’m assuming that the 5-year suspension actually means that he won’t drive for 5 years. But that’s probably naive.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Generally bad situation. McCune did decide to turn himself in, despite having initially split the scene. Though it’s worth questioning whether it was out of a sense of honor and sense of responsibility that he turned himself in, or that he considered that the second person that ran over the victim, might have got his plate number, having him fear the police would soon be after him with nastier consequences likely.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Also, might have been hard to hide this:

Police arrived to find McCune’s badly damaged Jetta in his garage: The windshield was broken with cracks leading up to the driver’s field of vision, the hood was dented and blood was found inside a broken headlight, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Pete
Guest
Pete

The ACLU should be far more worried about what just happened to net neutrality.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

When it comes to intoxicants, every state (as far as I’m aware) has the concept of Implied Consent. If you get behind the wheel, it is implied that you agree to a search of your person for intoxicants if police have probable cause to conduct such a search. Failure to comply is a criminal offense.

If we agree to this with our sacred bodies, why would phones be even more sacrosanct? I don’t get why police don’t have the right and ability to search our phones for proof of immediately-recent distracted driving (which has been proven as dangerous as impaired driving).

I’m a big civil libertarian, but also – having learned to drive in a Drivers Ed state, which Oregon still isn’t, sadly – had it drilled to me as a young person that driving is a privilege, not a right. You drive on public roads, with tremendous potential to cause harm to others, and you may sacrifice some of your civil rights in the interest of not killing people.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

When I drive, I am not implicitly consenting to let the police rummage through my “papers”, the vast, vast majority of which have no bearing on the matter at hand.

A phone search would be highly invasive, and should require a warrant.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

To the question of why phones might be more sacrosanct, which do you really consider more private — a bit of body fluid or access to a device that can relatively easily access extensive personal, financial, and health data, can probably reset credentials for all your accounts, and can be used to impersonate you?

Unless you don’t use your phone the way many people do, your phone is more personal than your body or your house.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Police can search not only my body – which, YES, NOTHING is more sacrosanct than the body – but also my automobile, if they smell alcohol or intoxicants. If they suspect I’ve got intoxicants – legal or otherwise in the car – they can ransack it, including going through my papers.

In any event, this article is about an app that would address precisely your concerns, allowing police to view only recent phone usage that would be relevant to establishing how you were using it in the last few minutes of driving. No civil liberties violation here, move on, next issue.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Are you sure the police can search your car based solely on a suspicion?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Yes they can. It’s called Probable Cause. Remember when pot was illegal? Police would often search vehicles for (then-) illegal drugs if they smelled marijuana.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

And in most states they still do.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The U.S. Supreme Court defines probable cause as “where the facts and circumstances within the officers’ knowledge, and of which they have reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient in themselves to warrant a belief by a man of reasonable caution that a crime is being committed.” (from Wikipedia).

That is more than a mere suspicion.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I believe it is a lower bar than probable cause (reasonable suspicion) when it comes to vehicles as they can drive away. I would have to research the case law, to say for sure.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Not to mention, if you’ve been caught doing something illegal, like speeding, the officer might strike a deal with you in order to coerce you into giving consent. This happened to me once, when I was ‘caught’ sitting on a bench on federal land (unbeknownst to me) after hours. The officer threatened to charge me for trespassing and said I could spend a year in jail if I didn’t consent to a search, which of course I did.

KTaylor
Guest
KTaylor

Ugh – flying cars. There will be no peace anywhere.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Robot flying Uber cars, to avoid the robot e-bike delivery cyclists on the ground.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Looking on the bright side, if everyone is flying then there’s fewer cars to deal with on the ground.

Unfortunately, those things have to come down somewhere, and I’ve got enough going on with the 360 degrees I already have to monitor without making it a half-sphere of concern.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

Ugh – half sphere!

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Agreed. Boooo! Humans suck.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Er–that was in response to the flying cars post…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I’m getting my roof retrofitted to be carplane crash proof.

Julie
Guest
Julie

I lived in Portland for 12 years before moving to Vancouver BC just under 2 years ago and have found bike commuting here to be mostly great (though there are beautiful protected bike lanes that end in four lane roads and leave you riding on the sidewalk until you meet a greenway 1km later). It does seem worth mentioning that Vancouver is physically much smaller than Portland–44 sq miles to Portland’s 145–which means that getting around, say from all the way east to all the way west, or north to south, is much easier and changes the dynamic of commuting. It also means that Vancouver’s 193 miles of bike infrastructure impacts more of the city than Portland’s 350.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Ran some numbers from the article and from Wikipedia. The article writer can’t add, Portland has 339 miles of facilities, not 350, but that aside:

(For all, I excluded water area.)
Vancouver pop 631k; 44 sq mi land area; 3,272 people per mile of bike facility
Portland pop 632k; 133 sq mi land area; 1,865 people per mile of bike facility
Seattle pop 686k; 84 sq mi land area; 3,992 people per mile of bike facility

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

So we’re definitely rocking the most bike lanes per capita. Platinum, hallelujah!

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

There will always be a subset of the population who complain about nothing ever being good enough, even though in comparison to everything else it is pretty good.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

There will always be people who complain about the efforts of others, even though they benefit from those efforts.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Portland has 2.55 miles of bike facilities and 4,750 residents per square mile.
Seattle has 2.05 miles of bike facilities and 8,186 residents per square mile.
Vancouver BC has 4.39 miles of bike facilities and 14,352 residents per square mile.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Meanwhile, Greensboro NC, the most drivable city in America with the lowest traffic congestion per capita: Pop 288,000; 115 sq mi land area; 2,500 people/sq mi; 0.13 miles of bike facilities per square mile; Bronze status.

Tomas
Guest
Tomas

I am interested in the article regarding the ebike uptick in Colorado. Could someone help me please, but I’m baffled trying to see the story. The link takes me to a page that has two sentences regarding the article, followed by a shaded area that tells me I need to subscribe/spend $115 to see the “full article”. Huh? Again, if I am missing something on that page to see the article other than spending lots of dough to do so, could someone point that out to me. Much obliged!

Dan A
Subscriber
Bike Curious
Guest
Bike Curious

Green Wave on SW 2nd, is timed perfectly for my speed. Been getting a lot of practice giving jackrabbit drivers who alternate between gas and brake needlessly a “what are you even doing?” look.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

You’ll see the same thing in a car when going north on 12th. If you drive slow enough to time it correctly, you’ll have cars tailgate you, then swerve around and race to the red light, only to be passed by you when the light turns green. And then it will be repeated over and over again.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

“You’ll see the same thing in a car when going north on 12th.”

You’ll also see the same thing on a bike when going north on 12th.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Hello, Kitty
Thanks for the link, it will take a while to digest. But so that I’m clear, your belief is that if we were to do away with all landuse regulations, the cost of housing in Portland would fall to the cost of production (the definition used by the authors of the paper). Would builders continue to cater to the top-end, or would they start building inexpensive units? Would giving developers free reign result in a better city overall?
Recommended 0

I think you meant to say “free rein”, not “free reign”.

Oh wait. In other cities, developers rule … I see what you did there. Very clever, as usual, HK.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Actually, this being Portland, I meant “free rain”. Go on, help yourself. We got plenty.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

This year especially.