Special gravel coverage

The Monday Roundup: Froome’s double, drivers trapped in Florida, cycling ‘magic’, and more

Posted by on September 11th, 2017 at 9:34 am

Welcome to the week.

Here are the most noteworthy stories we came across over the past seven days…

Pothole leads to payout: The City of Los Angeles will pay a man $6.5 million to settle a lawsuit that blamed them for a pothole that caused him to crash his bicycle and sustain serious injuries.

Smarter bikes = safer bikes: A Michigan tech company wants to build software into bikes and bike parts that allows them to “talk” to computer systems inside cars in order to warn of the presence of bicycle riders (and vice versa presumably). Trek is a partner in the venture.

Froome does the double: Professional road racer Chris Froome cemented his legacy as an all-time great by winning the Vuelta de Espana and the Tour de France in the same season.

Bikes save the day: Look what transportation mode people are turning to in Houston when all else has failed.

More laws for bike users: Following the death of a woman who died after being hit by a bicycle rider, the UK government is looking at extending dangerous driving laws to bicycle operators.

An indictment of cars-first cities: Last week it was the 500,000 or so cars abandoned by Houstonians fleeing the flood. This week it’s the utter failure of Florida’s freeway-only, cars-first evacuation plan. Say it with me: In a future of climate extremes, our transportation systems must be more resilient and continuing to invest in single-occupancy vehicle infrastructure is the worst decision we can make.

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Kids on transit: A father of five who lives in downtown Vancouver Canada has to mount a legal campaign to continue to let his young children use the bus on their own.

Dutch walk anywhere they want: While U.S. cities still criminalize walking in the wrong place, the Bicycle Dutch blog shares that the entire concept of “jaywalking” is nonexistent in the Netherlands.

Levees in Portland: Don’t miss this Willamette Week piece on the sorry state of the Columbia River levees that protect Portland from flooding. While you read it consider that 1) our legislature found hundreds of millions to widen freeways and 2) those levees are what the Marine Drive bike path are built on top of.

Autonomous cars as cure-all: The U.S. House passed a bill that will allow companies to test autonomous vehicles. The move raised concerns from cities and states who want more power to regulate AVs on their streets.

Bike to work primer from WaPo: This article has a good roundup of recent health/safety research and profiles of people who bike to work. If you already ride, it might be a good link to share with a friend who’s on the fence.

Cycling is “a piece of magic”: This article in the NY Times is more proof of the immense benefits a city accrues once leaders figure out that cycling is the best transportation investment they can make.

China passing (on) gas: The BBC reports that the Chinese government is researching a plan to ban the sale of gas and diesel-powered cars.

NYC Century horror: A disgusting and horrific scene when a drunk driver slammed into several people who were participating in the NYC Century ride.

This pallet-grabbing bike trailer is awesome:

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

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  • Champs September 11, 2017 at 10:06 am

    So help us if Sky moves beyond grand tours and figures out how to suck the excitement out of the classics as well.

    I need more of this pallet trailer and fewer Murdoch robots in my life.

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    • Ryan September 11, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Kwiatkowski is dangerous in the classics (he beat Sagan at the line to win MSR this year) but I find him to be one of the more exciting Sky riders.

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    • Ian September 11, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      Gilbert vs Kwiatkowski at Amstel Gold the last 2k was so boring. Sky totally sucked the life out of it.

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      • Matt Meskill September 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm

        Then other teams need to figure out a way to beat them. It’s that simple. And yes I know Sky has a big budget but Katusha’s not far behind and they do much worse. It’s not all about the $$.

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        • Dan A September 11, 2017 at 3:58 pm

          You’ve got to have a good ‘program’.

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  • bikeninja September 11, 2017 at 10:16 am

    I was thinking all weekend of how much more effective evacuation by bicycles would be than cars. It is easy enough to do the math, with only two main highways north and millions of citizens it is not possible to evacuate enough people in cars. If one lane of the highway was cleared for ,bikes only, millions more people could safely have gotten out of south florida, leaving the other two lanes for those not capable of cycling. Imagine that in the future, disaster planning revolves around having a bike, knowing how to ride it, and staying in good enough shape to ride it to safety. Not relying on personal automobiles is one of the reasons the Cubans have a much better record of getting people to safety than we do. You are 15 times more likely to die in a hurricane in the U.S. than in Cuba.

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    • MJS September 11, 2017 at 11:22 am

      While it would be feasible to get to a shelter and back, it’s probably unrealistic in Florida when almost the entire state is under evacuation orders and a hurricane is slated to go up the spine of the state.

      Miami to Tallahassee is 482 miles by car; I doubt very few people would have the skills and the time to ride a bike that far to evacuate. Even Tampa-Fort Pierce is something like 150 miles if you had to cross to one side of the state from the other.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu September 11, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Residents evacuating from hurricane zones may have to travel many hundreds of miles to get out of the danger zone and reach available hotels or family/friends. They have to evacuate children, parents, pets, and their most precious keepsakes and vital documents. They may have to carry food and water as stores on their way may be empty. They will be of all levels of physical fitness and often elderly. They may only have a few days’ notice of the need to evacuate. It may already be raining and windy.

      The idea that millions of people in these circumstances should be expected to evacuate from a hurricane by bicycle is, to be frank, laughable. It’d be a deathmarch,

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      • John Lascurettes September 11, 2017 at 11:53 am

        It’s a matter of urgency. If the authorities want to give passenger vehicle drivers two weeks lead time to get out of town, fine. But when it comes measured in dozens of hours, it’s irresponsible to tell everyone to “get out now” in their own cars. In fact, individual cars should be banned (with some waived exceptions) at that point and everyone should have to get on government provided busses (trains would be preferable, but I doubt Florida has many). If everyone is stuck on a freeway, they’re all creating a more dangerous situation for everyone else. That’s not okay.

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        • John Liu
          John Liu September 11, 2017 at 12:52 pm

          I partly agree on the buses. I would like to see bus evacuation provided for the lowest income who don’t own cars, can’t afford gas or hotels, have no realistic way to evacuate.

          But moving a million people would require 20,000 or so buses. I don’t think FEMA or a state can get their hands on 20,000 buses and 20,000 bus drivers on short notice. Not with our current approach of spending hugely on recovery while skimping on preparation.

          On the lead time, hurricane track forecasts have a very large error range. Even 120 hours out, the range of error is something like 200 miles, which is bigger than the distance between Florida’s east and west coasts. Hence many east coast residents evacuated to the west coast, only to find the hurricane running up the west coast of the state instead of the forecasted east coast track. Two weeks out, the forecasters can’t even be confident what state a hurricane will strike. So evacuation orders are, necessarily, last-minute things.

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        • MJS September 11, 2017 at 1:42 pm

          Oftentimes you may not get an evacuation order until 24-48 hours out, if that. Hurricane Charley in 2004 was documented as a Category 2 before it entered the Gulf of Mexico; it blew up to a Category 4 and did a dogleg right before the predicted landfall.

          Relying on the government to execute an evacuation by public transport of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people within two days or less – and then find somewhere to house them for an unknown length of time (days or weeks at best, months at worst) – is not feasible. At best it would be a disorderly evacuation as everyone would be fighting to get on the first buses, which would tie up law enforcement even more than they already are in those circumstances. I agree that evac by car isn’t efficient – but at least people who have been through those scenarios and have hopefully planned accordingly.

          It’s more efficient (both in resources and for execution time) to overbuild the capacity of proper public emergency shelters and direct people to them when the emergency is declared.

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      • bikeninja September 11, 2017 at 12:22 pm

        The idea is not to evacuate the elderly and infirm on bikes but to use the much higher transportation efficiency and density of cycling to free up lanes of the freeway for those who really need it. As climate changes ramps up and automobile ownership ramps down continuing to rely personal cars as the main form of disaster evacuation will be the true death march. We must develop integrated disaster plans like the Japanese or Cubans and get over the wild west notion that we can all jump in our motor cars and head for the hills.

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      • BradWagon September 11, 2017 at 12:50 pm

        I could tow my son and supplies in a bike trailer a couple hundred miles in a few days in an emergency. The tired argument that “not everyone could do it so why even try” is what’s laughable.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 11, 2017 at 1:04 pm

          Reserving half the capacity for the 1% of Floridians who could make that work for them is what’s laughable.

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          • B. Carfree September 11, 2017 at 9:20 pm

            60% of the residents of Florida are between the ages of 15 and 59. Even if one in six of those is disabled, that still leaves half of the population who should be able to ride to safety. I’m not saying it will be comfortable or unchallenging (unless folks start living much more active, healthy lifestyles), I’m just saying they can do it. I’d hazard to guess that many of the people outside of this age range could also manage to ride to safety. (This would also be the biggest randonneuring event in history.)

            Let’s not forget that the premise of this thought experiment is the data that trying to evacuate everyone in cars FAILED. Luckily, Irma didn’t strike in a worst-case way or there would have been more deaths caused by relying on cars first, last and only. If we restrict the use of personal cars to only those who truly have no other means, then there will be adequate road space and fuel for them to evacuate. If we do it like we just did it next time, and every time after that, there’s going to be some horrific and unnecessary deaths.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 11, 2017 at 9:56 pm

              50% of Florida’s population should be able to embark on a multi-day multi-hundred mile unsupported evacuation bike ride with children and supplies in tow, on short notice, in a Florida summer, where not making it in time would mean being stuck without shelter during a hurricane?

              I have to ask… are you serious?

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              • B. Carfree September 12, 2017 at 10:21 am

                And why would all 50% who are between the ages of 15 and 59 have children in tow when the average household size in Florida is 2.63? Seriously, please answer with something not pulled from a windshield perspective.

                Good grief, just because there are SOME people who could not make the trip, which I acknowledged, and that most people would find the trip unpleasant, which I also acknowledged, that does not mean that substantial numbers of people could not evacuate under their own power.

                Speaking of power, as e-bikes get more common even more people would be able to evacuate. Even my 300 pound friend who is 72 wouldn’t hesitate to ride 200 miles in a day on his e-bike; I know this because he has done just that.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 12, 2017 at 10:47 am

                I’m not saying that no one can evacuate this way, only that it is a small enough number that it isn’t helpful when planning a large scale evacuation. I would be astounded if even 5% of the population could pull this feat off. I’m not even sure I could, and I’m pretty fit. I rode the STP, but that was well supported, I didn’t have a trailer, and there was very low humidity. And no f’n mosquitoes.

                How many people do you think actually did evacuate this way? If it were practical, then certainly at least a hundred people across the entire evacuated region must have done it. Right?

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          • BradWagon September 11, 2017 at 9:35 pm

            Yeah I wasn’t really agreeing half the freeways should to be sectioned off… just that advocating and providing some level of planning and support for those that could do it would be a good start.

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        • Chris I September 11, 2017 at 1:49 pm

          That’s an argument for building parallel networks of off-street multi-use paths. These could be used in evacuations by anyone that wants to use them and is able to. Closing vehicle infrastructure when it is needed the most is not a viable option.

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          • Mike Sanders September 11, 2017 at 2:50 pm

            Many bike paths in FL are, in fact, designated as evac routes. The East Coast Greenway thru the Florida Keys and metro area Miami, for example. I do like the idea of requiring ped/bike paths alongside major highways. We did that with I-205, but only as far as Oregon City. The SW Max project, if it becomes reality, would have one along the 99w/I-5 corridor between Portland and Tigard.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 11, 2017 at 3:03 pm

            Indeed. And during better weather, they provide excellent camping opportunities.

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        • colton September 11, 2017 at 2:11 pm

          You are an animal, but most people I know brag when they do a single century on a weekend with their carbon fiber bike, good weather, flat roads and substantial training.

          I don’t believe calling an argument “tired” makes it necessarily inaccurate, nor does it prevent someone from attempting to try what you can do.

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          • BradWagon September 11, 2017 at 9:33 pm

            Well a century at even moderate effort is still an accomplishment… the trek I proposed would be a survival epic told for years, not just water cooler talk on Monday morning haha.

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    • John Lascurettes September 11, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Tangentially, this makes me think of post-apocalyptic shows like Walking Dead and survivors’ seemingly endless supply of available petrol and working motors. I have yet to see a dystopian story where the survivors get around more by bike (if they use vehicles at all).

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      • bikeninja September 11, 2017 at 12:59 pm

        I have been waiting to see a zombie movie or show where the uninfected are fleeing the zombie outbreak in their cars on the highway but are stuck in gridlock. The slow moving zombies overtake the gridlocked cars traveling less than walking speed. The zombies pull the motorists from their cars one by one as they move up the highway adding to the size of the zombie hoard as they go. Only the cyclists survive to repopulate the world.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 11, 2017 at 1:07 pm

          Walking Dead showed the aftermath of an incident like that.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 11, 2017 at 1:08 pm

        In The Road, people mostly just walked.

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        • Brian September 11, 2017 at 1:35 pm

          With shopping carts. At least who were “free.”

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        • John Lascurettes September 11, 2017 at 2:36 pm

          Yes, The Road did it well (also loved the cameo by La Tourelle Falls). Still, the one time we see a vehicle, it’s a truck, not a bike.

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      • 9watts September 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm

        disaster relief trials.

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      • Chris I September 11, 2017 at 1:50 pm

        That might be the most unrealistic part of The Walking Dead. They have been driving around in brand new Hyundai SUVs for the better part of, what, 6 years now? How are they getting these new vehicles, and where is this gas coming from?

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  • Dan A September 11, 2017 at 10:44 am

    NYC Century: Prepare for NYPD to start a crackdown on cyclists in that area.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty September 11, 2017 at 11:55 am

    The jaywalking in NL article pictured several people crossing streets where they wanted. All of the streets pictured were streets that, here in the US, people would cross mid-block without a second thought.

    I’d be more impressed if they showed people crossing major streets like the equivalent of Powell midblock. In that situation, according to the article, Dutch driver’s aren’t required to yield.

    In practice, crossing behavior in Europe is not much different than it is here.

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    • BradWagon September 11, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Do streets like Powell even exist in NL? I would guess not very many if any. Only adds to conversation regarding prioritization of transportation modes if surface street freeways aren’t built to begin with…

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 11, 2017 at 12:59 pm

        Big arterials? They absolutely exist in NL.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 11, 2017 at 1:54 pm

        Hi BradWagon,

        Here’s a shot of a big CPH arterial just outside the city center from a trip I took there a few years ago. Note that it has a raised cycle track.

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        • BradWagon September 11, 2017 at 9:43 pm

          Looks nice. And I suppose I should have clarified that I of course assume there are major roads in bicycle friendly cities, but from my limited time in Europe I have not seen them cut through dense and often residential parts of town like Powell, Burnside, Sandy, *insert almost any road in east Portland here*, etc.. But it appears my assumptions may be misplaced.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 11, 2017 at 10:11 pm

            This is not in NL, but rather in that bicycle intolerant country of Germany; this just happens to be a street I know well in the center of Stuttgart.


            Residential/commercial area in the city center, no bike lanes, generally more hostile environment than even Powell.

            I could point you to streets like this in several European cities, though not in NL which I don’t know quite well enough.

            My point is not that we are doing better than Europe — we are not — but rather that we tend to idealize far-away places, overlooking their sometimes considerable problems.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu September 11, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Right. In Copenhagen, where I spent the holidays, pedestrians cross streets much like they do in the US. People aren’t blithely strolling mid-block across the major arterial streets which have plenty of auto and truck traffic. I do think the crossing infrastructure (signals, cross walks, islands) is better than on Portland’s arterials west of 82nd . . . we have a long way to go in that regard.

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      • USbike September 11, 2017 at 10:14 pm

        The street design is definitely a big factor on how people cross. You also much more rarely see people cross such roads in the Netherlands, simply because it can be very difficult to do. But there are also cultural factors at play. The Danish, as a society, are much more orderly and obedient to traffic rules than the Dutch. This is based on my own personal experiences in both countries, but also from talking to both my Danish and Dutch friends and colleagues. The difference in attitude about this is quite impressive and surprising. But then again, they are very different cultures. Even though they are often linked together by foreigners due to both being very bike friendly, there are also many differences in their biking cultures.

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    • Chris I September 11, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      The behavior is the same, but whole authorities respond to it is quite different.

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  • John Lascurettes September 11, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    “Smarter bikes = safer bikes”

    Please, no. The beauty of operating a bike is its simplicity. We’ve dumbed down the responsibility that drivers have to take so much over the years and we continue to do it. Now, suddenly, every bike would have to have supplement the car’s equipment by adding this extra doo-dad to the bike? You know the first bike rider, riding a classic steel-only bike, that gets nailed by a driver with the technology installed would be chastised for not being properly equipped with the right equipment, when the real issue is with the metal behemoth on the road and how the operator of that vehicle drives it.

    Put an impaling spike on the steering column of a car and see how much more care the driver would take.

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    • Spiffy September 11, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      I once heard somebody say that drivers will stop crashing into things when they relocate the seating so that the drivers legs hang over the front bumper…

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      • 9watts September 11, 2017 at 1:24 pm

        first cousin to the idea of affixing a six-inch spike to the center of all steering wheels rather than an air bag.

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    • wsbob September 11, 2017 at 8:59 pm

      “…Put an impaling spike on the steering column of a car and see how much more care the driver would take.” lascurettes

      Why wait? How about if you step forward with your idea, and have one installed on any motor vehicle you have occasion to drive?

      Smart bikes that could someday have technology to communicate their presence to smart cars, sounds like a great idea to me. I don’t see it happening anytime soon, at least not before autonomous motor vehicle technology becomes better adapted to common use, and their use on the road becomes commonplace. If smart bike technology can eventually become a real thing that can help make riding a bike in traffic with motor vehicles become safer, that would be a good thing.

      An example of a benefit, might be a bike and a big truck near each other on the road in the early hours of the morning. Proximity of the bike to the truck could be indicated to the driver of the truck by a flashing light on his instrument display or other even more conspicuous location in the vision field of the person driving. In the event that for some reason, the person driving does not see the person biking near the truck. Or, your funny idea about impaling spikes on steering columns doesn’t go over too well, and it doesn’t ever become installed in trucks or cars.

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  • Mike Healey September 11, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    No laws on jaywalking in the UK. You can cross on an official pedestrian crossing, near it, away from it, against it at red, mid-block (no such phraseology here), in fact anywhere except motorways.

    By the way, went on my own, by train, from Launceston (Cornwall) to Royal Leamington Spa (changing at Snow Hill station (Birmingham) at just turned 9 (1949). At Launceston station, my dad (ex wartime army) asked a soldier in uniform (a stranger) to keep an eye on me and help me change trains. I’d been to Snow Hill a couple of times (age 6) and remembered where the right platform was, so the stranger didn’t need to find out for me.

    Nobody batted an eyelid. I had the right ticket, was on the right train, so why should they? Mind you, in 1949 trains were packed – innocent times, I guess.

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    • 9watts September 11, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Took Trimet by myself at 5 (1976). No one batted an eye then either.

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    • B. Carfree September 11, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      I still remember being nine-years-old and having two tickets to the Raiders, courtesy of the people I babysat for (bar owners who often took game tickets as payment for booze). Myself and another kid I had just met had no problem hopping on an AC Transit bus in the suburbs that got us to one of the game-bound buses. After the game, we somehow got on the wrong bus. When we explained where we wanted to go to the driver, he stopped at the next stop, gave us transfers and told us to run to the bus across the street before it left and transfer to another bus at some stop I have long since forgotten.

      We got home just a little later than planned and never felt in any danger. Of course we also rode our bikes on those same urban/suburban streets, often very long distances (50-100 miles). Looking at the historical crime numbers, kids today would be even safer (as long as they stay out of cars). I’m saddened to tears that children today can’t do what gave me so much joy as a child, like day long hikes in the hills without supervision.

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      • 9watts September 11, 2017 at 9:39 pm


        great story.

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        • BB September 13, 2017 at 10:19 am

          My favorite part was the nine year olds riding centuries to get around town. All obviously quite accurate.

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  • Dave September 11, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Sky could not suck the life out of the Vuelta–Alberto Contador raced like he always has–with soul and enthusiasm.

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    • Pete September 16, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      I even thought they had let him go on up the hill alone, until I saw Froome and his crony try to reel him back (I’m glad they failed). He’s had a mixed bag for a racing career, but glad to see him go out in style.

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  • Bjorn September 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    While I agree that his kids are plenty old enough to be navigating a bus ride that doesn’t even include a transfer it is beyond comprehension how someone with 5 kids can claim to care about the environment…

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 12, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Twenty is plenty.

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  • Matt Meskill September 11, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    “a” not “de.” Vuelta a Espana.

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  • Mike Sanders September 11, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Last October, I read an online article about surviving a zombie disaster. It was written with tongue in cheek, but one item in it caught my eye: Zombies are attracted to noise. A bike, being almost silent, won’t attract a zombie’s attention. But a car engine will. Think of the movie “Zombieland,” for example. The survivors used abandoned cars (and in one case, a motorcycle). They never once ride bikes. They did hike when necessary, however. And there’s another advantage: on a bike, you have more choices, like leaving the road to escape across farmland, for instance.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 11, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    I love the concept of the bike pallet lifter…though I will suspend judgement as to its true utility until I see how well it can load a preloaded pallet. The other difficult design aspect (and affects utility) is that the quality of most pallets is getting worse as time goes on unless a user were to stick to plastic or other reinforced/ multi-use pallets.

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  • B. Carfree September 11, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    I keep seeing articles about cities and states having to pay out large sums for road defects (and one from NJ where the state avoided liability because the cyclist was on the shoulder and the judge ruled the state had no responsibility to keep the shoulder rideable). How long until legislatures start changing the law to allow road owners to leave hazards in place.

    I see bike tunnels that are poorly designed and built (sometimes very recent constructions) that collect and hold slippery mud and water. In an obvious attempt to avoid losing a lawsuit, the city I live in posts them with warning signs. At present, such signs probably won’t cut it in court, but small adjustments to the law can change that.

    Soon, gaping holes that are impossible to see because of poorly aimed, over-bright, LED streetlights will be a “rider beware” situation. At that point, cycling is probably done for, since the only thing keeping many road owners at all on the ball is the threat of losing large lawsuits. Take that away and no road will be safe to ride on in a few years.

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    • GlowBoy September 12, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Yeah, it’s a pretty dangerous thing to be demanding big payouts when someone on a bike gets hurt because of substandard infrastructure. Will lead to governments closing many of them down, banning bikes from some streets and/or opting not to build in the first place, for fear of liability.

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