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The Monday Roundup: Bunny hopping the patriarchy, BRT in ABQ, Vision Zero not enough, and more

Posted by on December 4th, 2017 at 11:04 am

Here are the most noteworthy stories that came across our desk last week…

Bunny-hopping the patriarchy: Cyclocross pro Ellen Noble’s rise as a voice for women’s equality cycling is just as impressive and important as her race results — many of which she earns while confidently bunny-hopping barriers.

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Tigr Lock, a strong and lightweight solution to protect your bike from thieves.

Deep dive on biking’s gender gap: “In order for cycling to become a truly competitive mode of urban transit, we also need to address its issue of gender inequity,” says Eillie Anzilotti in this excellent longread from Fast Company.

Bikes are the best EVs: The NY Times correctly points out that e-bikes are a much more sensible cure for what ails America’s transportation system than e-cars.

Car culture kills: Car skeptic Lloyd Alter from Treehugger looks into a case where a driver admitted to being distracted, killed another person, and was still not held accountable for the death.

BRT in Albuquerque: A city in New Mexico has launched a modern and fast bus rapid transit (BRT) system before Portland. And — surprise, surprise — it was controversial but it works and people like it! Oh, and transit expert Jarrett Walker calls it a “breakthrough” for U.S. cities.

Lessons for Naito from London: As we ponder a permanent “Better Naito” project this spring, tuck away this gem of a find from Michael Andersen that explains how one of London’s main protected bikeways moves people five times as efficiently as its adjacent auto lanes.

London making progress: With big increases in cycling due to its protected bikeway network, London’s Mayor is doubling-down on policies that make driving less convenient: “We need to be bolder in encouraging people to reduce their reliance on cars,” he says.

Safety goals are not enough: Sweden pioneered Vision Zero 20 years ago and now they’ve launched the “Moving Beyond Zero” campaign to promote biking and walking.

Always look eye? Not so much: The Bike Snob takes down the common traffic safety admonition to “make eye contact with drivers,” saying that it usually doesn’t work and relying on it can actually have tragic consequences.

We aren’t doing enough: Noted environmental scientist, author, and activist Bill McKibben writes for Rolling Stone about how incrementalism is failure when it comes to combating the imminent threat of climate change. The exact same thing holds true when it comes to transportation reform.

Curbs are the key: How cities are using curbzones is such a hot topic right now that it earned a feature story in Wired Magazine.

Bike share bubble burst?: Has supply of dockless bikes in China finally outstripped demand? These shocking images of “a bike share graveyard” seem to suggest so.

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

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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. Thank you — Jonathan

93 Comments
  • Eric U. December 4, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I used to try to make eye contact until I did that with a motorist who seemed to be tracking my position. And then almost ran me over when they pulled on to the road I was riding on.

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    • John Liu December 4, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      The BikeSnob article says making eye contact is helpful but not a guarantee of safety. That can be said for just about any defensive cycling practice. All of these practices help; used together they make the difference between riding without incident for decades vs frequent accidents and close calls.

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      • 9watts December 4, 2017 at 1:20 pm

        “All of these practices help; used together they make the difference between riding without incident for decades vs frequent accidents and close calls.”

        Hm.

        Not sure I agree. Can you say Hit From Behind?
        Your way of framing the issue elides the role of the (all too often distracted) pilot of the auto. Why the verbal contortions to avoid the obvious: without cars no carnage?

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        • John Liu
          John Liu December 4, 2017 at 2:08 pm

          Because I ride on the actual real streets of today, in which bikes and cars share the road and will be doing so for a long time.

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          • soren December 4, 2017 at 2:17 pm

            When I ride a direct and efficient route I almost never see someone on a bike. Where exactly do you see this “sharing”?

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            • John Liu
              John Liu December 4, 2017 at 2:56 pm

              Well, I rode to work this morning. NE Broadway, N Williams, N Vancouver, slough trail, N Whitaker, through Delta Park, then over the I-5 bridge and finally some streets through Vancouver. It was dark and early, but I still saw about 15 cyclists until the slough, 5 more after that. All were on regular roads, except the Delta park/bridge bit.

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              • soren December 5, 2017 at 8:22 am

                Riding in a narrow door-zone bike lane is “sharing”?
                If so, it’s strange how little used these “shared” facilities are in most of Portland.

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            • David Hampsten December 4, 2017 at 3:43 pm

              And of course cars share with each other. And sometimes they share too much and crash into each other, or into us. It all about sharing.

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              • Pete December 4, 2017 at 6:18 pm

                Don’t forget cars sharing with those storefronts that jump in their way!

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              • Dan A December 5, 2017 at 8:43 am

                Those store fronts were probably looking at their phones.

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          • 9watts December 4, 2017 at 2:24 pm

            Oh.

            And what about all those people smashed to bits by folks in cars? Were they not biking on the *actual streets of today*?

            Your statement implies that vigilance amounts to a force field; and that those who get smashed by distracted or vengeful automobilists weren’t paying enough attention.

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            • John Liu
              John Liu December 4, 2017 at 3:07 pm

              I think you are the one looking for a “force field” and complaining that there isn’t one. There never is; there never will be. Even in Copenhagen, a few cyclists die each year. You can fantasize about a future Portland where there are no cars. I, and most of us, ride my bike today. So we need to know how to be safer today.

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              • 9watts December 4, 2017 at 4:05 pm

                “I think you are the one looking for a ‘force field’ and complaining that there isn’t one.”

                ?

                you must have me confused with someone else.

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              • soren December 5, 2017 at 1:33 pm

                “So we need to know how to be safer today.”

                John, you have a tendency to confuse your opinion with fact.

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              • Dan A December 5, 2017 at 5:14 pm

                The counter to that is that we don’t need to know how to be safer today. Is that what you’re saying?

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      • q December 4, 2017 at 2:42 pm

        They MAY make the difference, or they may not. The closest call I’ve ever had on a bike was a women in an oncoming car at the bottom of a hill I was heading down. I made eye contact as she was waiting to turn, then she turned directly into my path, keeping eye contact.

        The closest call I’ve had standup paddling, the captain of a 40′ commercial boat made eye contact with me, then slammed me against a dock.

        I agree with other comments here. In many of the cases we read about of deaths or injuries to cyclists or pedestrians, the victims did nothing wrong other than being in the street–and sometimes not even that.

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        • Andrew Kreps December 5, 2017 at 2:27 pm

          For more on how people who look at you don’t “see” you, we need to go back about 40 years.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurt_Report

          It was a study of why motorcycle vs car crashes were happening at an alarming rate- a vast amount of that research can also be applied to bicycle vs car crashes.

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    • shirtsoff December 4, 2017 at 11:31 pm

      Honestly, I find the best “eye position” is to aim your head upward and at the far horizon straight ahead. It makes your intent and direction boldly clear. The “make eye contact” strategy makes it seem as though you’re scanning for others to overcome you and by their overconfidence willing to cede the position to them. When my chin is tilted upward and my eyes are eight blocks ahead I tend to have less “conflict”. Take of it what you will but that is my personal experience.

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      • mark December 5, 2017 at 8:52 am

        I have similar results.

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      • q December 5, 2017 at 11:14 am

        Your strategy makes sense to me, but I hope if you get run over that the police report doesn’t mention, “Witnesses stated that the cyclist was riding with a head position not conducive to making eye contact with the car”.

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  • BradWagon December 4, 2017 at 11:27 am

    I also find that eye contact with drivers does very little to change behavior. I actually avoid looking directly at someone if they seem to be driving unpredictably around me. They can’t wave me through when I don’t have the right of way or wrongly infer I will wait for them to cut me off if I’m not paying them direct attention. Although, once right of way has been established and they are still inching slowly towards me I give them a very deserved stare down.

    This of course isn’t to say we shouldn’t be aware of when a driver may not see us and that we shouldn’t always watch vehicles and anticipate their movements… however, drivers merely see other cars on the road, they don’t regularly make eye contact with other drivers, the same is adequate for predicable cycling/auto interactions in my experience.

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  • BradWagon December 4, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Re: China Bike Share

    Yet another example of capitalism and social needs (in this case, transportation) being an extremely wasteful relationship. Uber, Bike Shares, etc… all examples of companies desires to profit off a basic social need creating waste, inefficiency, and economic barriers to use. Such industries should either be regulated to be non-profit only or simply done away with in favor of government “utility” programs that register and supply bicycles to citizens that want one.

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    • Jon December 4, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      I remember the good old days when telephones, airline travel, and taxis were well regulated by benevolent government agents and safe from the evils of capitalism and competition. It used to cost almost $50 to take a cab from the airport to home. Two weeks ago Uber got me home for about $30. In 1974, it was illegal for an airline to charge less than $1,442 dollars for a flight between New York City and Los Angeles. Today you can find flights less than $300. Calling someone on the telephone in 1985 used to cost $.50 per minute if they lived outside your local area code. Today I pay $.05 per minute to call anywhere in the country at any time.
      There are plenty of problems with capitalism but price competition is not one of them. I think that part of the problem with transportation is that we subsidize some modes a lot so that people don’t have a good idea of how much it costs to travel by road. Gas taxes need to at least double before drivers can begin to say they pay for road with gas taxes but nobody wants to pay.

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      • Chris I December 5, 2017 at 8:27 am

        Uber is a bad example, as their business model as it currently exists is not sustainable. The “fare” you pay only covers about half of the operating costs. Uber is using VC funds to subsidize fares, and banking on driverless vehicle technology to eliminate their biggest operating cost to become profitable.

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      • BradWagon December 5, 2017 at 8:36 am

        You seem to think that cheap prices are a good thing for long term sustainability… I don’t think we’re looking at the topic with the same goals in mind.

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      • BradWagon December 5, 2017 at 8:37 am

        Agree with you regarding true cost of driving / subsidization.

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    • Ken Sponsel December 4, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      Yeah, Bradwagon, I think the problem isn’t capitalism, it’s greed and wastefulness, and those both exist in every economic system where humans are present.

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      • BradWagon December 5, 2017 at 8:38 am

        Which is why we need to eliminate selfish human nature from basic utilities of society.

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    • Al Dimond December 4, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Let’s not forget there are entire cities (also in China) that got planned by some authority, built, and never used. Plans and predictions often go wrong, whether they’re the product of central planners or capitalists.

      And back in in the Soviet Union some industries and railroads managed to bring in extra funding by shipping the same loads back and forth to eachother. Calling to mind the joke about an economist and an accountant eating frogs — surely inspired by similar occurrences under market regimes. Bad predictions, irrational exuberance, mis-aligned incentives… these things aren’t just a matter of overall ideology, avoiding them takes care at every level, and of course humans fail regularly.

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      • David Hampsten December 4, 2017 at 10:03 pm

        And most communities in the US that were founded by railroad companies (mostly in the West and Midwest, but some in the South too) were also planned is a cookie-cutter sort of way, with Main Street crossing the tracks at a right angle, the grain elevator, court house, school, churches, nice homes, and civic amenities on one side, the poor “on the other side of the tracks” with the dump, jail, flophouse, and smelly factory. Some succeeded, many did not. Capitalism sucks, but all the other systems are even worse.

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      • BradWagon December 5, 2017 at 8:44 am

        Those cities in China were built because of one reason and it wasn’t urban planning. Hint: it was lucrative government contracts for the contractors.

        I agree that even government regulated programs needs be based on real world demand and that competitive pricing should still play a role in that but… a government knowingly giving non-market rate contracts for projects that have no realistic demand seems the opposite of that in just about every way.

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  • bikeninja December 4, 2017 at 11:41 am

    After reading Bill Mckibbens article it is very sad to reflect that now in Portland we are fighting over expanding a highway for cars, when what we need to be doing is figuring out how to eliminate 20% of the private automobiles from the road each year for the next 5 years until they are all gone. As hard and devisive as that it is, anything less will a catastrophic crime against our children and future generations.

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    • soren December 4, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      Climate-change denial is a liberal/progressive problem too.

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      • bikeninja December 4, 2017 at 1:49 pm

        Very few people recognize and are willing to take the action and personal change needed to save the planet from catastrophic climate change. Many republicans just deny that it exists while most on the other side of the coin wait for government action, magical electric cars or Elion Musk to save us while being unwilling to make any more personal sacrifices than the Republicans. As the great author Kurt Vonnegut once said, ” We could have saved the Earth but we were damned cheap.”

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        • Pete December 4, 2017 at 6:27 pm

          Yes!! Thanks for sharing my favorite Vonnegut quote here with our granfalloon!

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          • David Hampsten December 4, 2017 at 10:04 pm

            And so it goes.

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      • q December 4, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        I’ve never heard it stated like that, but it sums things up very well.

        Something I haven’t liked over the years is the use of “sustainability”, “green”, recyclable”, etc. to remove the guilt in buying things, especially buildings and cars.

        So you’ll see a building and the people who design it and move into it get awards and praise for being socially responsible because they have, for instance, bought special floor-to-ceiling glass that insulates better than standard glass, but only a quarter as well as any crappy standard wood-stud wall with standard-sized crappy windows–maybe a wall that was there already but got torn down to build the new place. And it may be a second home they drive their energy-efficient car to 100 miles each way, each weekend. And it’s generally not conservatives who are handing out or receiving this praise.

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        • Ken Sponsel December 4, 2017 at 2:26 pm

          I totally get your sentiment. It bugs me when something is presented as “high efficiency” while ignoring its embodied energy.

          My old Subaru getting 20mpg is more environmentally friendly than a new Tesla, because it already exists and doesn’t require mining lithium.

          You should be relieved to know that the new building construction you alluded to does have mechanisms built in to avoid the problems of wasting money on new materials when the old was good enough.

          If you’re doing a building retrofit, you do an embodied energy analysis; if the new stuff requires more energy than leaving in the old stuff, you leave in the old stuff, even if that’s a 2-stroke Detroit Diesel generator (extreme example).

          If you’re building a new development, you don’t get points towards the certification/award if you fail to 1) build within existing infrastructure, 2) near transit, 3) provide carpool parking at the front door, etc.

          tl;dr
          There’s a very high bar in the new constructions aiming for winning awards where they have to prove the new building actually saved energy instead of just “operating more efficiently” and incentivizes building occupants to use public transit, carpool, bike or walk (literally anything but single occupant autos)

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          • q December 4, 2017 at 2:54 pm

            Yes, it does seem some of the awards programs are improving, and there is some value to them. On the other hand, all awards programs tend to lag behind reality. So maybe they’ve caught up to the idea that encouraging use of transit, walking, or biking is good, but if a development is set up to help people work at home, are the at-home people viewed (as far as points are concerned) as positive, or would they score more points if those people were convinced to work 5 miles away and get bus passes?

            And the fact remains, many awards programs still have the counter-productive effect of tending to help people feel good about consumption (as you clearly get).

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            • Dan A December 5, 2017 at 8:55 am

              Working from home a couple of days a week (that’s all I’m currently allowed to do) is a HUGE positive. The only energy I consume while working at home is a single LED bulb and my computer.

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              • q December 5, 2017 at 11:19 am

                It is the overlooked component of sustainability–eliminating the use altogether. Like I said, I don’t know what all the various awards programs’ scoring systems are now, but at least in the past you’d often get points for incorporating an energy-efficient or “green” version of something, but no points for not including it at all.

                So bus passes, energy-efficient hot tubs and small garages would get you points; staying home, having no hot tub, and no garage get you nothing.

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        • John Lascurettes December 4, 2017 at 2:31 pm

          Also known as greenwashing.

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          • q December 4, 2017 at 4:02 pm

            Yes, it was remarkable quite a while ago when everyone who bought granite countertops went from buying them because they were swanky and elegant to buying them because they were a natural and sustainable.

            The worst ever was Dwell Magazine praising a guy for using perforated pressboard panels for flooring. They said how if he spills something on it, he can simply pull up the damaged panel, recycle it, and pop down a new one. They didn’t mention that if he had any conventional wood, linoleum, vinyl, tile, etc. floor, he could have just wiped the spill up and left the floor intact.

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            • Chris I December 5, 2017 at 8:30 am

              Is it better that I pieced together a granite kitchen counter from remnant pieces at The Rebuilding Center?

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              • Dan A December 5, 2017 at 5:20 pm

                It depends. Does The Rebuilding Center pay fair wages? Do they hire and promote fairly? Are they locally owned, and do they promote green transportation? Do they use sustainable practices and renewable engery? Do they tolerate sexual harassment? How were those remnant pieces acquired, and how were they delivered? So many questions….

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              • q December 5, 2017 at 6:26 pm

                Yes, many counter issues and counter arguments.

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        • soren December 4, 2017 at 2:37 pm

          IMO, a common refrain from Portland progressives is that they can continue to live essentially as they are now while only making easy marginal changes to their lifestyle.

          * Instead of demanding a movement towards mass/active transit, many Portland progressives sing the praises of personal electric vehicles or car sharing.

          * Instead of addressing the sharp increase in local burning of fossil fuels, many Portland progressives focus their opposition on export facilities.

          * Instead of acknowledging that local housing and industrial energy use is incredibly inefficient, many Portland progressives champion community gardens and composting.

          * Instead of reducing their consumption of meat and dairy, many progressive Portlanders sing the praises of pigs fattened on hazelnuts while purchasing factory-farmed animal products.

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          • Toadslick December 4, 2017 at 2:59 pm

            I wholehearted agree with so much of that, except that I don’t see community gardens as standing in opposition to increased housing efficiency. I feel like they compliment increased density, giving shared outdoor space to people who might not have a yard of their own.

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            • soren December 5, 2017 at 8:05 am

              i’m not opposed to community gardens but view these as a “thing” that, at best, only has modest impact on the ongoing global tragedy of the commons.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu December 5, 2017 at 5:37 pm

        Are you stating “fact” or “opinion”?

        Since your response to others who have views contrary to yours is to chide them for what you call a “tendency to confuse your opinions with fact”, shouldn’t you preface all your own posts with “Soren’s opinion is” or “Soren represents that the facts are [and citations follow]”?

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        • soren December 7, 2017 at 8:07 pm

          perhaps you missed the part about liberals/progressives. i thought it was fairly obvious that my political commentary was an opinion. statements of fact about safety vs political opinions…

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  • Toadslick December 4, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    I’ve found that explicitly not making eye contact can be useful for interactions with Portland drivers, especially for the times when they try to be “nice” despite having the right of way. I don’t have to negotiate with a driver’s gesticulating through a tinted and glossy windshield if they see that I’m not even looking at them.

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    • soren December 4, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      The stress and unhappiness of driving is hard to watch so I also try to politely ignore the facial expressions and/or gesticulations of people driving

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      • B. Carfree December 4, 2017 at 10:09 pm

        I always think of how embarrassed I’d be to be seen driving, so I make a point of not noticing the poor souls who find themselves behind the wheel. Who would want to be seen doing something so awful?

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    • 9watts December 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      c.f. Hans Monderman – walking backwards and with eyes closed into traffic, whose movements and level of attention his removal of signage helped focus.

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    • q December 4, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      When I lived in Rome for awhile, I learned that a popular strategy for pedestrians was to NOT look before crossing. If you looked, and a driver caught you looking, then that meant he knew you were aware his car was there, which gave him the right to continue.

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    • Brian December 5, 2017 at 10:00 am

      I used to ignore the “being nice” gestures, as well. Now, if someone stops to allow me to cross a busy intersection, I take them up on it. I figure if more and more people do this, traffic will occasionally be slowed for at least a little bit of time on those busy streets. I can see the point that it may lead to unpredictability in some situations, but I believe that a transportation system in which people do more cooperating than competing is a good thing. So, wave me through.

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  • John Liu December 4, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    We’ve discussed the dockless systems. Thousands of discarded bikes littering streets and blocking pedestrians, and bankruptcy of vendors, was a predicted outcome. I continue to think that allowing uncontrolled, unregulated dockless systems will not only become a blight, but will take down our Biketown system.

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  • billyjo December 4, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    How does it work when the driver is trying to make eye contact with you, so that in their mind you see them and know to get out of their way?

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    • Toadslick December 4, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      As people who ride bikes, we’re supposed to assume that drivers don’t see us, and act accordingly cautious. To me, that pendulum should swing both ways, and drivers should drive as if we do not see them and have no idea what they will do next. It should not make a difference whether or not we’ve made eye contact.

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      • Kyle Banerjee December 6, 2017 at 4:55 pm

        This is exactly how it should work.

        A lot more drivers do what they should than people admit here. If they didn’t, the number of cyclists that get hit would skyrocket.

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        • 9watts December 6, 2017 at 5:59 pm

          “A lot more drivers do what they should than people admit here. If they didn’t, the number of cyclists that get hit would skyrocket.”

          Wow.

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        • q December 6, 2017 at 7:07 pm

          I think most people here have realistic views of drivers’ behaviors.

          Obviously, if more drivers drove worse, more cyclists would get hit. You could also say if more drove better, fewer cyclists would get hit.

          On the other hand, bad driving is a huge danger for everyone on the road. And other things that some people talk about in regard to safety–such as riding defensively and infrastructure–would be less important if people drove better.

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          • 9watts December 6, 2017 at 7:10 pm

            Thank you, q.

            As usual you managed to say it better than I did.

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            • Kyle Banerjee December 7, 2017 at 6:06 am

              COMMENT DELETED AFTER A READER REPORTED IT AS MEAN. KYLE, PLEASE BE NICER TO OTHERS ON THIS SITE. THANKS – JONATHAN

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          • Pete December 6, 2017 at 8:39 pm

            My wife and I are prone to dulling our minds with the “Live PD” TV show. On more than one occasion the host has said, “Before hosting this show, I never would have imagined just how many people drive without licenses and insurance.” Because more people driving creates jobs, we culturally don’t seem to think this is a big problem.

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    • Dan A December 5, 2017 at 8:57 am

      “get out of their way”??

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    • Pete December 6, 2017 at 8:45 pm

      As many years as I’ve been riding (and aware of that ‘eye contact’ advice), it’s actually rare that I do, because quite frankly, it’s actually rare that I can see the occupants when I look at a car, what with speed, road glare, and car density where I tend to ride. Drivers should never assume that a cyclist sees them, and when I’m glaring at someone’s car, it’s because I’m intently focused on preserving my life… believe it or not, it’s not personal and I’m not being smug.

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  • Ken Sponsel December 4, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    The Albuquerque brt looks brilliant.

    Jonathan, could we get a form letter email going to send to Portland city commissioners to build these types of brt instead of the proposed SW MAX? (Perhaps as an alternative to all future lite rail?)

    I dream of the day can make my commute to tualatin, by bus, in the 25 minutes it takes to drive. (Current time is 75 minute ride plus 20 minute walk…)

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    • John Lascurettes December 4, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      How much more capacity could be added to the MAX red/blue line if the existing railway were converted somehow to BRT? And never a completely closed down line due to mechanical failure, one bus can always go around another.

      I realize it’s not feasible or pragmatic in any way to convert all that railway to roadway — but I do wonder how much easier that system could have responded to changes in rider demands.

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      • bikeninja December 4, 2017 at 3:12 pm

        If we took out the tracks and drove buses through the west hills tunnel they would not be able to go around each other.Though mechanical reliability is a real world problem it does not have to be. Trimet could achieve the reliability needed for maximum transit volume by implementing best practices in preventive maintenance. Near perfect on time records have been obtained in Japan for decades, we just have to want it bad enough to make it the top priority.

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      • Ken Sponsel December 4, 2017 at 3:24 pm

        Or to ice/snow

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      • John Liu
        John Liu December 4, 2017 at 7:46 pm

        MAX can add almost any arbitrary amount of capacity by running more trains at higher frequency with closer spacing. Might require some technology that keeps trains from getting too close behind each other. Downtown, might have to change signal phases and traffic patterns to accommodate more frequent trains.

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        • GlowBoy December 5, 2017 at 8:31 am

          BRT does not have more capacity than light rail. It just brings the bus up to light rail’s level. Converting the red/blue line to BRT would accomplish very little (and would require either expensive ventilation upgrades in the West Hills tunnels or expensive battery-electric buses).

          The advantage BRT has over LRT is (somewhat) lower development costs. TriMet absolutely should pursue it for future routes, but it makes no sense to convert existing rail routes to it.

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      • Chris I December 5, 2017 at 8:33 am

        It would cost a lot to tear out the tracks, and would cost significantly more in the long run because BRT has higher operating costs (1.5x to 2x more than light rail).

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  • encephalopath December 4, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I think there is only one situation where “eye contact” makes a difference when riding a bicycle: when you are right straight through an intersection and a driver approaches a stop sign on your right. If the driver never turns his head to the left to look in your direction then you are for certain unseen and at risk. The same situation puts me on high alert when driving.

    There’s no guarantee that you are seen even if the driver does “look” in your direction but the no look is a big indicator of a possible blind pull out.

    Opposite direction eye contact in a left cross situation? Useless. Eye contact with people in parked car to anticipate dooring? Not even possible.

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    • Dan A December 5, 2017 at 8:59 am

      I frequently make eye contact with tinted windows, but I can’t tell if the windows can see me or not.

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      • q December 6, 2017 at 10:05 pm

        Me too. Sometimes I detect a bad-tempered vibe, almost like having a chip on the shoulder, but usually I just get a glazed look.

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    • Kyle Banerjee December 6, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      It sounds like you may be confused about how the eye contact method works.

      As the name of the method implies, it works by making eye contact. Turning heads doesn’t qualify. Don’t feel bad about being confused because the person who wrote the article is also confused about what it is.

      Only eye contact is eye contact. It is a form of two way nonverbal communication and is only possible when both people involved are using it simultaneously. Looking in your direction or even directly at you is not eye contact. There are many cases when the eye contact method can’t be used — for example, whenever both people can’t see each other or one person isn’t paying attention or doesn’t know how to use the method.

      It is very effective and many if not most drivers also use it. Because there are many circumstances where it cannot be used, one must adjust one’s methods to actual conditions.

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  • Todd Boulanger December 4, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Portland city politics and planning process is built to for incrementalism…better or for worse. I too admire that great leaps forward that strong mayors (NYC, CHI, etc.) can easily make when they are done for bicycling and traffic safety…

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  • SE December 4, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    eye contact ?

    I frequently cross 82nd at JCB going East . It’s 4 lanes and a wide center. Often cars coming the opposing direction from 205 will stop momentarily and try to sneak a right hand turn across the marked crossing that I’m in.

    Usually when I see this, automatically give them a disapproving shake of my head (like I did when the kids were young). About 75% of the time the driver sees my “no-no-nod” and stops.

    Of course I can’t bank on that move working, but many times it does. 🙂

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    • encephalopath December 4, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      The disapproving shake of the head is my favorite method of reproach. Don’t even have to say a word.

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      • bendite December 4, 2017 at 10:45 pm

        I wonder if they can read my lips while I’m shaking my head.

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      • Kyle Banerjee December 7, 2017 at 5:24 am

        Given they wouldn’t be able to hear you anyway, probably best to stick with nonverbal methods.

        More overt methods such as nodding, pointing, shaking, positioning, whatever do not require eye contact and do work. The one thing eye contact gives you is you can tell for certain if the driver sees you and hasn’t already given you some other sign via movement, signaling, pointing, nodding, etc.

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  • Jim Lee December 4, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Patriarchs invented indoor plumbing.

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    • Al Dimond December 4, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      Maybe so, but if their society had been organized in a way such that more people (particularly women and people from lower classes) had opportunities for intellectual and professional development there’s a decent chance someone else woulda got there first. Not to get too down on ancient Rome, considering their accomplishments in their time, but social hierarchies based on the circumstances of a person’s birth are not to thank for the progress of civilizations; they’re one of the things progressing civilizations transcend for their own good and that of everyone in them!

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  • B. Carfree December 4, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    BRT looks good on paper and I believe that if it is implemented and operated properly it can be a game-changer. However, since Eugene has added BRT it has seen the modal share of commuters on public transit fall by nearly 50%. That tells me that like many things, BRT isn’t necessarily a game-changer. It has to be done well.

    Some issues with Lane Transit District: It’s board isn’t local, it’s appointed by the governor. Heck, for years the chair was an owner of the local gravel company that makes money by keeping people in cars destroying the roads. Eugene is also a small city where taking away low-ridership routes to create high-frequency BRT routes can have a dramatically negative effect until there are some dense housing developments put in place along the BRT routes.

    It’s not just what, it’s how. That applies to bikey infrastructure as well, imo.

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    • John Liu December 5, 2017 at 8:41 am

      How do you think BRT would work best in Portland?

      I was thinking modern, comfortable, high capacity, articulated buses (like the C-Trans buses being used in Vancouver WA), running on the major east-west corridor streets, in bus-dedicated lanes with signal priority where needed, on express routes with widely spaced stops. Passengers should be able to get from, say, Division/162nd to downtown in 40 minutes with no transfer. Or from the farthest points of NE Sandy to downtown in 20 min.

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      • bikeninja December 5, 2017 at 10:14 am

        I was thinking the more likely BRT service we will have in our post-Trump distopian future will be those 2 part bus things they have in Cuba. We can take all the monster pickups that no one will be able to afford to drive once gas is $10. per gallon, and hook them up to old 5th wheel flatbed trailers. Then nail down some benches or lawn chairs and presto, low cost mass transit.

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    • GlowBoy December 5, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Absolutely true, B.C. We have two BRT routes operating here in the Twin Cities now. One is an abject failure in terms of ridership, and one is a smashing success.

      Our Red Line is more of a “real” BRT route, running a mostly-highway route that effectively has dedicated ROW. But despite checking most of the boxes to satisfy the BRT purists, and having one of the highest average speeds of any transit route in town, it’s considered by nearly everyone to be a total ridership failure. That’s because it connects two suburbs on a route with very little ridership demand. In other words, despite being fast it doesn’t go where very many transit riders want to go.

      On the other hand, our A-Line is an “arterial BRT” route. It isn’t “pure” BRT in that it doesn’t have dedicated ROW even at intersections and it doesn’t have 100% signal prioritization. And even though it runs through only moderate-density parts of town (an L-shaped route roughly comparable to a route up Sandy Blvd from Hollywood, then down to Clackamas along 82nd), it is a huge success.

      While not satisfying the purists, it does have BRT features: stops only every 1/2 mile, payment on the platform, simultaneous boarding and deboarding through huge front and rear doors, some signal preemption. And it is massively successful: much faster, and far busier with riders, than the milk-run route it mostly replaced. It only cost a few million to develop and about a year to build. We will be adding one new aBRT route almost every year for the foreseeable future. The next couple of routes on the table will be on much busier and denser routes than the #84/A-Line corridor, so I expect plenty of success to celebrate in the near future.

      So at least here, the verdict is in: “true” BRT functions like light rail, connecting far-flung suburban areas at much better speed than conventional buses, but at less cost than light rail. And aBRT works as a wonderful upgrade to existing

      Once the SW corridor is done I think the PDX metro will have built out most of its opportunities for these kinds of routes. It’s time to look at upgrading the existing arterial-based local bus routes to aBRT. In much of Portland (and Minneapolis/St. Paul) local routes tend to be about the same speed as a bicycle, or even slower in core areas. aBRT is considerably faster, enough to pull a lot more people out of cars.

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  • Ken Sponsel December 5, 2017 at 10:33 am

    ^^ This. Glowboy is on-point.
    The cost has already been spent on the existing MAX lines, so no sense in converting them to BRT. However, new MAX lines should not be built to connect far flung burbs.

    I think hybrid BRT/local loop routes would be great. We already have the roads, so no need to lay down rails. The BRT sections could be routed along roads that need a road-diet and take a few zigzags between dense areas needing service, in ways a rail line never could.

    I’m imaging outer neighborhoods being linked with outer suburban commercial parks without having into downtown Portland to transfer to an express bus and without miles of walking.

    As it is, I can get anywhere across the Trimet serviced region in half the time, if I just ride my bike, vs public transit. Sweaty, but at least I can get to work on time.

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  • Toby Welborn December 6, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Sitting in the Albuquerque airport as I type this and can say first hand that the BRT is awesome.

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