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The Monday Roundup: Pro-bike business group, NIMBYs, poop, pot, and more

Posted by on June 26th, 2017 at 7:30 am

Here are the best stories that came across our desks this past week…

Business group embraces bikes: While Portland’s chamber of commerce dropped off the anti-bike cliff last week, a business association in Vancouver BC has realized it’s much smarter to work with bike advocates.

Driverless cars to the rescue!: Is there anything cars can’t do? The media and corporations want us to think they’ll cure congestion and even help us reach vision zero.

Family 411: Bikabout shared a bunch of family biking equipment tips and online resources nationwide.

Winning over NIMBYs: Listen to their input, don’t blame them, and learn how to mitigate their fears — these are just some of the tips from Vancouver-based planner Brent Toderian for overcoming anti-density voices.

Faster with foreign fecal matter?: Don’t let the “poop doping” click-baitey headline fool you, there is something interesting going on with one woman’s research into the impact of a certain microbiome found in the stool samples of elite bike racers.

Charting cycling’s rise: The lastest article from noted bike researchers John Pucher and Ralph Buehler offers a concise summary of positive trends for cycling in major cities — along with three reasons to be optimistic about the future.


Transpo bill on life-support: Oregon’s big transportation funding package is in “peril” as lawmakers try to cobble together a coalition of competing interest groups it needs to pass.

London watch: We’re watching London closely because their mayor has set out bold policy ideas like road pricing and banning auto parking in new developments en route to a bike/walk/transit mode share goal of 80%.

Bias plays role in street safety: The research from PSU-based transportation scientist Tara Goddard on the role of implicit bias in street safety and road culture is as fascinating as it is important.

What’s up in Forest Park: Portland Monthly published a solid roundup of the changes facing Forest Park right now.

Driving high: The debate over the impact of marijuana use on driving has begun. Reuters has the scoop on two studies with competing findings.

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

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  • paikiala June 26, 2017 at 8:31 am

    When autonomous cars and human drivers begin sharing the roads, which do you think will be making the most mistakes, breaking laws, following too close?

    If you’ve seen the video of people driving in a circle to illustrate how the slow down wave develops, there’s a new one where one autonomous vehicle was included in a group of 26 driving in a circle. The one autonomous vehicle was able to cancel out the slow down wave.

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    • Eric Leifsdad June 26, 2017 at 9:10 am

      One good driver is all it takes. Of course, leave a safe gap like that on a multi-lane road and someone will pull into it.

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      • Spiffy June 26, 2017 at 1:20 pm

        I’ve found that some people will do all sorts of dangerous and illegal driving to get into that safe following distance you leave in front of you… even passing on the left of the left lane of a freeway in stopped traffic…

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    • B. Carfree June 26, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      I’ll answer your rhetorical question with another rhetorical question. Once we have significant numbers of autonomous cars on the road, which will get more press coverage and calls for action from politicians, the 110 daily roadway deaths caused by human drivers, or the relative handful caused by autonomous vehicles?

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  • VRU June 26, 2017 at 8:59 am

    The media and corporations want us to think they’ll … even help us reach vision zero.

    The absolute horror of fewer serious injuries and/or traffic deaths!

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  • monkeysee June 26, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Poop doping. Back and forth forever. “))((” .

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  • wsbob June 26, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Good article by Ben Tepler in pdxmontly about Forest Park. Some good history about the park recounted, quotes from people involved with management and maintenance of and future development of the park. Some writing on the question of using this park for mountain biking. From this story, a quote from Jocelyn Gaudi of the mountain biking enthusiast group Northwest Trail Alliance:

    “A lot of people narrow us into one specific segment of adrenaline-fueled, aggressive riders. We’re still working to change people’s ideas of what mountain biking in an urban environment is today.”

    I believe that relative to ideas about possibly using Forest Park for mountain biking, Gaudi’s impression of how people view mountain biking, is not accurate. After many years of seeing first hand, in the media, tv and film, and having to think about what mountain biking is, it seems to me that more and more people likely are increasingly aware that mountain biking is not the one dimensional type of riding that she is assuming they think of mountain biking as being.

    Continuing on that thought, a major problem relative to questions about possible future use of Forest Park for mountain biking, is that mountain biking enthusiasts themselves have been decidedly unwilling to limit the type of mountain biking that might eventually happen in this park, to those types that that aren’t adrenaline fueled and aggressive.

    Their general suggestions have included ‘alternate day trail use (only people walking one day, only people biking on other days.), and trail design that would somehow inherently limit speeds traveled and danger posed to people walking. Neither of which could really confine mountain biking types to one that is compatible with the purpose and function this particular park was conceived to provide generations of this city with.

    No tangible willingness to limit mountain biking type to that of very leisurely family style tour riding through the park. People that mountain bike, most likely have their own ideas about what kind of mountain biking they’d like to be doing, and it seems to me there’s a very good chance a good number of them are looking for something at least a little more exciting, at least some of the time, probably on a regular basis, than the type of mountain biking meeting the description of ‘leisurely family style tour riding’.

    How might the people of Portland, reconcile the wish by mountain bike enthusiasts, for the type of riding those mountain bike enthusiasts would like having available in Forest Park? True, it’s a relatively big urban natural area park at five thousand acres. It’s also a natural area park whose trails continue to be vehicle free, which in this day of urbanization and mechanization, is an increasingly important and valuable point of distinction.

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    • Spiffy June 26, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      does a stroller count as a vehicle? I’d say it does as it’s purpose is to transport people, and there’s a lot of strollers in the park…

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      • wsbob June 28, 2017 at 12:47 am

        spiffy…creative thought you came up with there! I’d say anyone willing to ride their mountain bike at the 3-4mph speed most people push their child in a stroller, would likely not be subject to the opposition mountain bikes they way they’re typically ridden, are subject to.

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  • Jason H June 26, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Completely un-scientific observation but since pot legalization I feel like I have seem MANY more drivers at dusk and even full dark on well lit roads with no lights on at all. Pupil dilation (which lets in more light) is a common response to marijuana intoxication.

    I wonder if it seeming brighter out from the dilation combined with impaired judgement are the cause of this apparent increase. Cyclists just beware at dusk to not just look out for vehicle lights before pulling into a motor vehicle shared traffic lane, there might be a stoner in a car with no lights blending right in with the roadway.

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    • Lester Burnham June 26, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      But but but…weed is safe!

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    • Matthew in Portsmouth June 26, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      It could also be that many/most new cars have an auto on setting for their headlights, as I have. I leave mine on all the time, but occasionally someone else, like my husband, or a mechanic or valet, will turn the thing off, and I may not notice because the streets are well lit. I don’t use pot in any form. The arrival of medical marijuana may have been coincident to the arrival of a critical mass of auto on lights in cars.

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      • Jason H June 26, 2017 at 2:52 pm

        Yeah, or DRLs, or dash lights that are always on in newer vehicles., seen plenty of that,but that is another syndrome. I’m talking about vehicles with NO lighting on whatsoever long after it’s dark enough for a competent driver to notice.

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        • Pete June 28, 2017 at 12:19 am

          I drove up I-5 and out I-84 on Monday night, and when I got into Portland area I noticed quite a few drivers without lights on (saw one pulled over on I-84 after they passed me doing about 80). It’s funny you say this, because it struck me as odd, having never seen so many people driving in the dark with their lights off. Actually wondered if it was some new trend in Portland!

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    • wsbob June 28, 2017 at 1:01 am

      I expect that well lit streets on dry nights when the pavement isn’t very black and reflects back a lot of light, sometimes will leave some people driving, not realizing their headlights aren’t on. A very few times over years, this has happened to me for a few moments. Didn’t turn the light switch all of the way, so the dash lights/parking lights were on, but not head and tail lights. I could see the road well enough, but of course, the headlights not being on, makes vehicles far less visible to other road users.

      Within the last few months on the section of Canyon Rd between West Slope and Sylvan, on a couple different occasions, at dusk, I saw a car without its headlights on, blasting up that steep, curvy section of this road. In the same direction, there were other cars around it too, on this four lane road posted for 40mph. Driving the opposite direction, I gave the quick ‘headlights off-on’ signal to try send the message, but it didn’t seem to have been understood.

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  • jh June 26, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    The thing that never gets mentioned with autonomous vehicles is that it ultimately means a ban on anything non-computer controlled on the roadways. Your bike? It’s unpredictable. Can’t be on the roadway. Those joggers/walkers? Nope. Can’t be on the roadway. With the lack of signals comes the lack of crosswalks that are controlled by those signals. Meaning we’ll have to handle street crossing somehow using newer tech.

    This article even gets into it, stating that it’ll only REALLY work when everything on the road is controlled autonomously. (And thus, not by humans.)

    I’m all for Vision Zero and fewer serious injuries and/or traffic deaths, but a future of autonomous vehicles only means that only people with autonomous vehicles or access to them are allowed to travel on the roadways that we’re all paying for. It can turn into a very insidious form of control.

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    • B. Carfree June 26, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      “a future of autonomous vehicles only means that only people with autonomous vehicles or access to them are allowed to travel on the roadways that we’re all paying for.”

      Before it got to the point of unconstitutionally kicking humans off the roads, we’ll probably just be required to carry a communications device, like 90% (rough guess) do currently. Said device will simply communicate our presence to the autonomous vehicles so they can avoid us.

      We may end up with a vastly superior situation for the price of allowing various incarnations of Big Brother access to our location on the right of way. At this point, I think I’m ready to compromise in order to get my fellow citizens out from behind the wheel (where most of them don’t belong).

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      • Bill Stites June 26, 2017 at 3:36 pm

        In the Wall Street article, they don’t even mention pedestrians. Now if the tech in these cars – and the algorithms that run them – will truly accommodate peds then we may even get jaywalking back. But I wouldn’t count on it.

        Shit, now I have to turn in my hi-viz vest for a hi-metal jacket … want to be very sure to be sensed by the radar, lidar, and hudar [OK, I made that up] on these vehicles.

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        • jh June 26, 2017 at 5:09 pm

          If they work better with fewer “human driven cars”, because of the lack of predictability, then I suspect peds fall into that same line. Nobody wants to say that for these things to actually work the best, they need to be universally coded and communicative and all follow a standard that is common between them. A human , even a human with a communication device that they can latch on to, can be observed and can feedback, but they’ll never be predictable.

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        • Paul June 26, 2017 at 10:19 pm

          The jaywalking thing is actually correct. When all cars are autonomous, we won’t need crosswalks anymore. Crossing the street anywhere will be completely safe.

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          • Eric Leifsdad June 27, 2017 at 9:07 am

            Maybe you’ll get a text that same moment to notify you of your jaywalking citation thanks to facial recognition and plenty of cameras in those cars.

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      • Paul June 26, 2017 at 10:20 pm

        I certainly hope that human drivers are banned relatively soon. It’s the only way to make streets safe. And there’s nothing unconstitutional about it, any more than driver’s licenses are unconstitutional.

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        • Eric in Seattle June 27, 2017 at 8:48 am

          The bar here is pretty low. Human-driven cars kill 30,000 people a year, and injure many times more. It’s hard to imagine that self-driving cars could be much worse. Of course, the first time an autonomous car is involved in a horrific collision we all know that there will be a big outcry to ban them.

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    • Shuppatsu June 26, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Never fear, we’ll just have autonomous bicycles!

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    • resopmok June 26, 2017 at 8:03 pm

      Since autonomous automobiles will reduce traffic so much, there won’t be nearly as many roads needed which are dedicated solely to that form of travel. Therefore, we can close most of them to motorized traffic creating far fewer points of conflict; seems reasonable to me anyway.

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      • OregonJelly June 28, 2017 at 1:55 am

        How does an autonomous automobile reduce traffic at all? When I say traffic, I mean traffic count.

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  • B. Carfree June 26, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    I kind of enjoy articles like the one purporting to chart a rise in cycling since the ’90s in cities, but then I ride through these cities and am unimpressed. Multiples of tiny numbers are still tiny numbers, and the data is compounded by only considering the center of the metro areas. Those suburbs have been expanding and swamping any increase in city-center cyclists, thus one can see data showing large increases in cycling mode while experiencing roadways choked with massively increased numbers of cars.

    Also, there are many, many cities that are seeing decreases in bike use. To name a few on the West Coast, Eugene, Roseburg, Sacramento and Davis. Some of those have added a significant amount of separated facilities over the years, but people are still leaving their bikes hung up and driving.

    Perhaps the solution is a bit more complex than merely doing some separation. Perhaps, in an American context, agitation for separation is actually counter-productive. Arguing for separation because cars are dangerous to others just might not be a great way to entice people onto bikes when there aren’t separated facilities door-to-door and the fixed costs of driving are high relative to the per trip costs.

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    • Eric Leifsdad June 27, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Note Sevilla and Bogota are charted with much shorter time spans than the 25yrs shown for Portland and most others. Also, network network network.

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    • Kyle Banerjee June 27, 2017 at 10:47 am

      B. Carfree
      Perhaps the solution is a bit more complex than merely doing some separation. Perhaps, in an American context, agitation for separation is actually counter-productive. Arguing for separation because cars are dangerous to others just might not be a great way to entice people onto bikes when there aren’t separated facilities door-to-door and the fixed costs of driving are high relative to the per trip costs.

      The whole premise of separation is that bikes don’t belong on the roads — it’s hard to come up with a more anti cycling message.

      Separation makes no sense as a general strategy. Until we perfect teleportation, cyclists and vehicles are going to need to turn left and right to and from roads, driveways, etc. Peds will also need to cross these paths. This means everyone’s paths must cross frequently. Physical separation on the straights can actually undermine safety for these inevitable conflict points.

      The focus needs to be on making the constant conflicts manageable and helping people navigate them, not eliminating them. Otherwise, people will just be persuaded not to ride. If I believed half of the stuff I read on this blog, I’m pretty sure I’d be driving like everyone else.

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      • Dave June 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm

        True–even bicycle lighting has that now; Busch & Mueller head and taillights for example.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 27, 2017 at 10:32 am

    On the “NIMBY” article: I don’t like labels like “NIMBY”. Labels are lazy.

    That said, the article is interesting:

    “The city has to be able to virtually guarantee the quality of the outcome from the urban design, livability, multimodal perspective. And a lot of cities have not set up the culture, the structure, the capacity, the training, or the tools to deliver quality. So when NIMBYs express a fear of change over density, they’re often right.”

    “The third piece is amenities and a diversity of housing types, to make density not just compact, but livable and lovable. It’s the difference between cramming people in and creating great neighborhoods. So, amenities such as parks and green spaces, public and people places, heritage preservation and integration, community and cultural facilities, civic facilities, even things like incubator space for artists. Amenities are the things that give communities heart and vibrancy. It also includes housing diversity: rental housing and public housing.”

    “It is somewhere between a disappointment and travesty that cities are creating massive amounts of value through municipal decisions around density without leveraging some of that value to pay for the things that cities are struggling to afford, the amenities that make density livable and lovable.”

    “I don’t buy an absolute not-in-my-backyard, but I also don’t buy the argument that we should get rid of our zoning codes and have at it, build as much as we can. Both of those are the extreme.”

    It feel like in Portland, we have the “build, baby, build” mentality but not enough of the other things he describes.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty June 27, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      It’s the usual overreaction to the crisis of the day.

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    • wsbob June 28, 2017 at 1:26 am

      People as part of the populations of cities, as residents and as leaders, trade off and surrender a lot in the interest of higher density. I guess what is ‘livability’ is relative. Lots of people in Portland and cities in the valley, have expressed their thoughts and feelings about having lived in surroundings they enjoyed and could afford, only to eventually lose that either by the dramatic changes resulting from high density, or outright displacement.

      It’s a complex problem. Looking at the affects of changes from situations beyond those confined to individual neighborhoods, I can’t escape being aware of the profound changes to the countryside, further outlying neighborhoods, and what those changes represent in terms of loss of livability to people of the entire community.

      How big is their backyard, and how much say over how it changes, should people of the community have? It to me seems a tragedy that so much area of the mountainsides surrounding cities in the valley, have been allowed to be developed for suburban housing, literally blocking views from the road down into the valley, with a near continuous wall of residential front yards that have displaced woods and ravines.

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  • Jim Lee June 27, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    HAL 9000 was autonomous…Stop Jim, please stop, Jim!

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty June 27, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      I’m sorry, Jim. I can’t do that.

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