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Welcome to the week. Here are the best stories we came across in the past seven days…
Carfree cold feet: Some business interests and other residents are raising concerns about a plan to make a major corridor in central Berlin carfree by 2019.
Bringing bikeways back: British bicycling journalist and author Carlton Reid is up another wonderful project: the resurrection of a network of bike highways built in the UK in the 1930s. And don’t forget to check his Kickstarter.
A day in the life: Urban researchers found that about 1/3 of riders in a study had a close-call and many were the target of dangerous driving and verbal assault.
Getting justice: Road rage is more common than people think. If it happens to you, here’s a tale of why it’s so important to get a license plate number and pursue a case against the perpetrator.
I’ll opt for the bike: New, peer-reviewed research out of New York City shows that amount of bus trips fell 2.42 percent with every thousand bike-share docks.
Equity, advocacy, and politics in LA: A former bike shop owner and active bike advocate tried to run for Los Angeles City Council; but it didn’t go well at all because his online persona was tone-deaf and offensive.
Money talks, bullshit plans: Highlighting this piece about Toronto’s progress on Vision Zero solely for this quote: “Vision Zero will not become reality because it’s written in a report. It must be written in the streets.”
Doing us all a favor: A man in Virginia fancies himself as a safety hero by erecting a sign imploring people in cars not to stop for people trying to cross on foot or on a bike.
Car culture exhibit A: Volvo is supposed to be all about safety. Yeah, whatever.
Complacency crashes: A study found that people were more likely to crash their cars closer to home. (FWIW this jibes with my personal belief that boring roads — roads that are straight, wide, unobstructed — breed distracted driving.)
Froome’s near doom 3-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome was the victim of a hit-and-run. And he tweeted it!
Dodge peddles death: Dodge’s new “Demon” is a racecar being marketed for use on our streets. This is a clear and present danger that should be illegal — says none other than Automotive News. And of course the National Motorists Association thinks it’s no big deal.
Hate to break it to you: I’m not sure what’s more ridiculous, the headline of this story — or the fact that so many people thought something would actually change by simply passing a “3-foot passing” law.
Unless this happens: A passing law is only as good (in part) by the enforcement that comes with it. Police in Texas are using a radar device that measures distance to catch dangerous passers.
City-sanctioned Strava segments: Good idea or nah? A city in Ireland has erected signs marking the start-finish of popular Strava segments.
Thanks to everyone who sent us suggestions.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hmmm…Having a tone-deaf and offensive online persona can prevent you from becoming an LA city council member. Better to run for President, where character doesn’t count.
trying to turn off the italics tag
Wow, the NMA’s position on the Dodge Demon is a must-read:
What a truckload of baloney.
“It has the same high crash test scores and is objectively safer to be inside of than the compact-sized joykills that Nader and his new friends at Automotive News appear to favor.” (my emphasis)
The NMA and its readers are dead-enders who will ride their petro fueled carnival in to the entropy ditch of history.
It’d be better for us if it was a literal ditch.
I don’t think that (even grossly overpowered) enthusiast vehicles are near the problem that run of the mill vehicles are. I believe this to be both because of their rarity and the fact that someone driving for entertainment is liable to more involved with and attuned to the driving experience.
For example the idiot in his massive (aptly named) Toyota Sequoia that drove so far across the lane of oncoming traffic that he hit the passenger side corner of an oncoming care and the car he collided with was split in half, and he was tossed out onto the street because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
I’m with Oliver on this one. The Dodge Demon is pretty low on my list of concerns. Yes, 808 horsepower, 0-60 in 2.3 seconds and the ability to do a wheelie (all of which are Guinness records for street-legal production automobiles) all add up to ridiculous. But only 3000 of them will be made per year, 2000 of which will sit in investors’ garages and not even ply the public roads. Most of us are unlikely to ever see one on the street. If you want to be outraged about a Challenger, consider the existing 707 hp Hellcat model, which is far less rare and only incrementally less fast.
Of far bigger concern to me about the vehicles
– Thanks to the SUV craze and persistent cheap gas (ironically, partly due to a drilling orgy resulting from the shortage of the late 2000s), the average passenger vehicle has climbed back above the 4000 pound mark.
– Especially in the West (bit less of a problem here in MN), a lot of people are using fullsized pickup trucks as daily-use passenger vehicles. Most of these exceed 5000 pounds, and heavy duty/super duty models typically weigh in at an outrageous 7000 to 9000 pounds. No one without a CDL should be allowed to drive a vehicle that big, but now lots of people use them to drop their kids off at school every day.
– Car ads on TV routinely show vehicles being driven well above legal speed limits, or (in the case of offroad-capable vehicles), in please where it’s clearly illegal for them to be. I’m old enough to remember when they always used to include a print disclaimer at the bottom of the screen saying the vehicle was being driven on a closed course and you shouldn’t actually drive that way. Automakers don’t even bother with that anymore. Even “tread lightly!” seems to be gone from ads now.
– Way too many people spend more time looking at their phones than the road, and even cars are now equipped with dangerously distracting touchscreens. One thing I can say for the Demon: anytime a Demon owner rolls out of their garage with the special Red Key (needed to unlock the drag-racing capabilities) they’re not likely to be looking at their phone on that trip.
And one more thing about Automotive News’ call for the Demon to be banned. You can be sure Dodge is loving the debate. Who knows, maybe they paid AN to write the editorial. After all, they’ve made the NHRA “ban” a big selling point in their ads already.
(And to be clear, the NHRA did this NOT because the car is “too fast” – as Dodge is bragging – but because under NHRA rules it’s fast enough to require a roll cage, 4-point seatbelts, and other special safety equipment which it does not have).
The muscle cars to keep an eye on are V-8 powered Mustangs-400ish horsepower, under $40,000 new, in most cases. Just search “Mustang car show crash” and watch the carnage unfold on video. They are starting to go on to notoriously careless third owners, so watch out when a Ford pony car is close by.
Though I’m not a fan of the muscle-car comeback riding the boomer wave, I’m more afraid of dashboard-based touchscreens running Android and iPhone apps – and those are far cheaper and increasingly prevalent.
Thanks for the historic bikeways.
What I don’t get about the road rage story is where was the proof? Why didn’t this just become a “your word against mine” case? Was it captured on camera?
It says the insurance company settled, so maybe it was a your word against mine type case but they were just concerned that it would end up costing them more to defend the case. Anyone know if we have a similar harassment law on the books in Oregon?
The credibility of the plaintiff, and the defendant’s driving record, would also have weighed in the insurance company’s decision to settle rather than litigate. If the defendant would have painted a particularly unsympathetic figure to a jury, when compared to a dad and this three year old cherubic daughter, chances are they say this as a loser.
when you’re a lawyer and a child is your witness you already have a strong case…
Of course most accidents occur closer to home. You are by far more statistically likely to BE closer to home. Twice as likely to have an incident because every trip is a coming and a going from….. home.
That was my first thought too, but it actually accounts for this:
“Roads within 11 km (6.8 miles) of home accounted for half of all travel and 62% of all crashes.”
So you are slightly more likely to be involved in a crash when closer to home than when further away.
I bet you are also more likely to be involved in a crash when driving a Dodge Demon than when driving a regular car.
Justice for road rage? As if. Every time I’ve called in a road rage incident that put me in danger, I’ve been hung up on and told I was wrong. I’ve even gotten pulled over for yelling at an aggressive driver — of course I was told it was my fault because I was the “crazy biker yelling at cars”.
I’ve given up hope that the state will ever be protective of vulnerable road users. I don’t bother getting plate numbers or calling anything in anymore. I even used to ride with a camera but no longer do so because it’s not as if it will ever help me.
Exactly. The only thing you can do as a vulnerable user is strike back quickly and get away before the cops show up and play the blame game.
I still use a camera on my bike, but it’s just so my wife will know who to sue….
I’ve got a motto, “Don’t bark at dogs.” As emotionally satisfying as it may be, on a practical level, it serves only as provocation and escalates situations.
It is even more relevant with aggressive motorists. When people do stuff to you, they’re doing it specifically to provoke you. They want to рiss you off or make you jump out of your skin. If you reward them by fulfilling the narrative they’ve planned out in their heads, they’ll keep doing it.
Better to give them nothing. Ignoring that you can’t know if they’re armed, chemically altered, sane, etc (if you consider what percentage of cars don’t harass you, logically the ones that do are well outside the norm), they’ll get bored and move on if you don’t respond.
That doesn’t mean you should do nothing. Filing reports and sending complaints makes a difference even if it might seem like nothing is happening in the moment. BTW, taking abuse can lead to other motorists calling people in or taking action on your behalf. This has happened with me a number of times.
You don’t understand. I have literally called 911 on aggressive drivers who tried to run me over and police have flat out refused to take a report the second I mentioned I was riding a bike. This was in Chicago, however, and several years ago. I generally don’t yell at drivers anymore.
I have yet to bother to call about aggressive drivers in Portland, however I don’t have high hopes for the PPB either.
Believe me, I get it. Many drivers and cops regard bikes as toys and in their eyes, damage done to equipment and even humans (even recklessly or intentionally at the hands of drivers) is seen as a self inflicted cost for engaging in an extraneous activity.
Realistically, you’re unlikely to get any kind of satisfaction from any particular call. But sensibilities are changing, a growing number of people take this stuff seriously, and repeated reports of the same driver causing problems do matter. I myself have called 911 only a few times in my life — only for stuff that’s way over the top.
I didn’t even call 911 in my favorite encounter with a hostile motorist. A couple morоns in a jacked up rig pointed a shotgun at me as they drove by. In all honesty, it wasn’t traumatizing — if someone’s idea of being tough is harassing a 140 lb shrimp in his underwear while they sit armed in a 2 ton steel cage, they need more help than I can give them. Besides, people who harass only want to intimidate, not kill you —
otherwise they already would have done it. Anyhoo, someone else witnessed the whole thing, called it in, and the cops had them in cuffs when I encountered them down the road later. Gave me a good chuckle. Still does, even though that was years ago 🙂
It wasn’t traumatizing FOR YOU. But you are far more steely-eyed than the average joe. I suggest trying on some empathy once in a while and see if you can make it work. Maybe imagine how you might feel if someone pointed a shotgun at somebody you care about. A child, a mother, a younger sibling, etc.
I understand that and know people respond differently. The only reason I mentioned that is that I wanted to direct focus to the funny part since negative encounters rarely work out that way.
I do think that calling in problem motorists is a good idea and that your best shot is to be as calm as possible in bad situations even if that is easier said than done.
Get a license plate number, note the location and direction of the driver “who is driving erratically and dangerously, as if they’re intoxicated”, and don’t mention you are on a bicycle.
That guy in VA who put up that sign encouraging motorists NOT to stop for bikes and pedestrians put up a sign which violates state law there, which requires just the opposite. That’s a lawsuit just waiting to happen. His logic is illogical.
he’s just lucky nobody was hit there while the sign was up or he’d be in the middle of a lawsuit…
One thing people should note is that there’s a big difference between a civil suit and calling the police. Civil suits have a lower standard of evidence-and with the increasing number of video cameras on bikes there are presumably a large number of bad motorist behaviors being captured now.
The point of the story from New Orleans is that in states with anti—harassment laws those records could become the bases of lawsuits against those drivers. That could change the terms of the game dramatically. Motorists, today, literally get away with murder on a regular basis.
Imagine if merely terrifying other people became severely inconvenient…
Re: Dodge Demon:
I’ve been offended by Dodge TV commercials for some time now. They are obviously targeted towards the testosterone overloaded young male drivers. Jeep does that too and I’m disappointed to see MB & BMW follow that lead.
Dodge had an especially poor one with a pack of cars out prowling for road competition.
Funny thing tho , if you read those “worst cars to buy in the US” articles, Dodge & Jeep usually rate on the bottom in quality/value/problems categories. 🙁
Ironically, the Dodge brothers started out manufacturing and racing bicycles.