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The Monday Roundup: Bike highways in London and Cleveland, blaming bad driving, a bike racing lifer, and more

Posted by on December 11th, 2017 at 9:07 am

Here are the best things we came across last week…

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

A bike racing “lifer”: Bill Elliston’s lifelong dedication to racing bikes and helping other people get into the sport is worth every word of this longform piece from Peter Flax at CyclingTips.com.

Meet Seattle’s top advocrat: Seattle’s chief traffic engineer Dongho Chang got a profile in the Seattle Times for his work to, “to make Seattle’s streets safer, more efficient.” (He’s also a fun follow on Twitter at @dongho_chang.)

Blame it on the rock: I’ll just leave this here: “Drivers can’t seem to stop hitting a giant rock in a suburban parking lot, despite it being an inanimate object surrounded by yellow-painted curbs.”

Fewer cars, more bikes: TreeHugger has a good roundup and overview of why most of the world’s great cities are making moves to restrict private auto use and promote cycling.

Cleveland’s big bike news: A “system of bicycle highways” in downtown Cleveland got a big boost with millions allocated for two physically protected cycle tracks.

Christmas traditions in the ‘Couve: Bike Clark County gave away over 600 bikes to kids at the 18th annual event that has been renamed after community leader Scott Campbell.

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Blame anything but cars: The always good 99% Invisibile podcast delves into the history of auto safety with a look at how automakers tried to ignore and obfuscate the role their cars had in thousands of deaths and injuries.

Bikelash sabotage: Victoria, Canada has been investing in bikeways and the city’s mayor thinks someone tried to sabotage her bike due to anger about it.

Free bikes post-fire: Sonoma County’s bike advocacy group rounded up 700 bicycles to give away free to people who lost theirs in recent fires.

Toll-paying psychology: People following our local congestion pricing efforts should read up on how people reacted to new dynamic tolling on a freeway in Virginia that reached a high of $40 during peak periods.

Enough is enough: Nothing that NHTSA, FHWA or USDOT says about traffic safety should be taken seriously until they get tough on automakers who are building even more distraction into their cars’ “infotainment” systems.

How London built support for real bike lanes: This must-watch Streetfilms vid not only shows the impressive transformation of cycling in London thanks to high-quality protected bikeways, it also explains how an advocacy group’s work to get business support helped make the lanes successful.

London Cycling Works: How savvy campaigning got 180 employers to support bike lanes from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Adding life to a “Boulevard of Death”: One of New York City’s most dangerous streets is undergoing a transformation thanks to lower speed limits, safer crossings, and fewer driving lanes. A model for PBOT’s work on outer SE Division?

And Streetfilms has a video on the “block-by-block transformation” of Queens Blvd:

— 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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Lo
Guest
Lo

Looks like Dongho Chang’s handle is @dongho_chang.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

My favorite quote from that story:

“We don’t want people to get to the destination as fast as possible, we want our streets to be efficient, and sometimes efficiency is actually going slower.”

I’m envisioning hundreds of traffic engineer heads exploding as they process that statement.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

only the dinosaurs.
Last I heard the average peak hour commute speed in the US is in the mid teens. It’s a legacy of the hurry up and stop system of traffic control we have. Slowing down to keep moving doesn’t make sense to most people. The bottleneck in the current system is stop lights. We overuse them in the US.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

The big inefficiency in transportation planning is accommodating peak demand. If you look at a 24 hour cycle, the systems (all of them – driving, transit, cycling) are very underutilized.

Personally speaking, stop and go traffic is MUCH more aggro than consistently moving…even if it is at a slower pace.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Stepping back a little more, isn’t the biggest bottleneck/inefficiency the allocation of an extremely high percentage of the available space and priority to low-occupancy private motor vehicle use? I’d imagine we could accommodate multiple times more movement of people and goods at peak hours if more than a tiny fraction of our road space and priority were dedicated to sole use by buses, freight, trains, bikes, and walkers.

Also, there are multiple constraints on the system, and multiple values to optimize – not just how much/many can we move in a given space/time, but how can we limit the harm caused by the movement and maximize the benefit caused by the movement? Our view of traffic “efficiency” should expand to accommodate moral constraints on carbon/noise/local air pollution emissions and injury/death/fear from crashes as well as efficiency in producing health, social connection, child/elder independence, and time for rest and rejuvenation.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Does anyone know who holds the title of City Traffic Engineer in Portland currently? I hazily recall that our longstanding CTE (I think) retired a few years ago but I don’t know who the current one is or what their approach is. We certainly don’t have the strong and sustained prioritization of safety and efficiency from our politicians and elections that Seattle has, but having at least some of the personnel pieces in place would help.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

According to this PBOT organization chart dated 04/12/17…

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/635375

… Lewis Wardrip holds the title of City Traffic Engineer, reporting to Steve Townsen, City Engineer/Group Manager, who reports to Treat. Another direct report to Treat is Art Pearce of Policy, Planning & Projects, which includes Margi Bradway for Active Transportation & Safety. Those two groups, and some of the individual direct reports in the gray boxes, seem to be the “personnel pieces” that should carry PBOT’s institutional memory as far as street safety and efficiency.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Officers noted that the rock was using its cell phone during all 3 incidents.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Besides that, police commented that the rock was not wearing a helmet or a reflective vest. Police remind rocks to remain alert for motorists.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Also, the rock failed to make eye contact with the drivers.

Paul H
Guest
Paul H

While a student, I spent a couple years working at a gas station. One of our seemingly unending tasks was painting: mostly curbs, but also steel bollards and the covers over the fill spouts for the underground gas tanks.

Whenever we painted, we used 3-foot heavy-duty orange cones to mark our wet paint. I lost track of the number of drivers who “didn’t see” our cones and drove right over them (and messed up our paint).

Mind you, these weren’t the little 15-inch cones you see marking off a youth soccer field; they were big-boy cones. I shudder to think of the scenario where the cone was a small child.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional death for children in the US. Hundreds are run down by cars every year.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

Yes! Ugh. This makes me think of riding Terwilliger right after restriping and seeing all those tire tracks swerving in and out of the bike lane. Does this kind of thing happen in Germany? Or any other country where you have to really be able to drive to get a license?

soren
Guest
soren

Bike portland commenters constantly excuse the dangerous lane positioning of rocks and boulders in Portland. For example, the boulders on SW main always position themselves to the right of cars and often get hit due to their dumb risk taking:

comment image

This crazy resistance to basic “personal responsibility” and common sense safety skills (by rocks and bike portland commenters) is one of the reasons that no one takes cyclists seriously in Portland.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Hmmm. Or it could be that people who come across as zealots are easily dismissed.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Given how people here tend to howl about even easily avoidable minor debris where a bike might hit it, folks shouldn’t be casting stones…

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Big difference. Debris or obstacles in the expected lane of travel, that could be dangerous to avoid because of fast overtaking motor traffic in the next lane over, or hard to see in the dark—again, in the lane of travel—is not at all the same as a landscape feature that is not in a travel lane and is demarcated by brightly-painted yellow curbs.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

…but I get it, “stones“…

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

The play was intentional and I was expecting someone to draw the distinction because it is relevant.

But for something does not need to technically be in the lane for it to be a hazard to cyclists or cars. When the too many people make exactly the same mistake at a much higher than expected rate of frequency, it’s a clear sign of bad system/infrastructure design that needs to be reexamined.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

This is a tricky issue. Separated can be may be very important and possibly essential in some areas, but I’m not convinced it’s a good solution for all places.

One thing I’d absolutely agree with is that anyplace that shows repeated problems deserves attention, and the magnitude/frequency of those problems as well as the opportunity cost and number of people affected needs to weigh heavily into prioritization.

Of all the heavily cycled areas that get a lot of airplay here, one place I’m surprised not to hear much about is Interstate near the Moda center. The tracks are a hazard (particularly in inclement conditions), and the traffic including the buses don’t play particularly well until you clear Larabee. I personally think that part of Interstate is much worse than the others that people mention here with some regularity.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

And I heard it was wearing earbuds, too.

Resopmok
Guest
Resopmok

Rock was found to be intoxicated by marijuana; it was stoned.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

When interviewed, the driver who hit the rock said, there was nothing he could have done. He saw the rock as he entered the parking lot and then looked up and it was right in front of him.

J_R
Guest
J_R

It was also noted that the rock was not wearing a helmet or reflective vest. Police remind rocks to remain vigilant in the presence of motorists.

Matt Meskill
Subscriber
Matt Meskill

The rock is also quite clearly not in a crosswalk.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Officers were puzzled by the rock’s choice to be present in a busy parking lot in the dark.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

I heart Rock.

Eric U.
Guest
Eric U.

I have used the congestion pricing lanes in Northern Virginia on 95. It was worth it, but during rush hour it can be hard to merge back in at the southern terminus of the lanes. I recall that the area that the new lanes refused expansion of the subway to their area because of an irrational fear of criminals coming out from D.C.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I mistakenly drove in an Express Lane last month here in California (used to be open at 7 PM but now it’s 8 PM). I received a ticket in the mail for $0.50. I can’t imagine what it costs to mail out as many of those tickets as I’ve since seen camera flashes behind other drivers using it without a transponder (and no, they’re not giving out speeding tickets – I guarantee that).

Yes, that’s definitely a challenge with HOV and Express lanes, and I suspect causes a significant ripple effect for the inner lanes.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I’ll find out next time… 😉

Matthew in Portsmouth
Guest
Matthew in Portsmouth

I wonder if the technology exists to automatically police variable HOV occupancy and dynamic tolling. What I mean by this is, I drive a Mazda CX-9 which can seat seven. Most of the time it seats one – me. I think that HOV 2+ lanes (i.e. driver and one passenger) should be changed to HOV 50% (i.e. at least 50% of seats being occupied, in my case that would be four of seven seats). All cars have a license plate and the technology exists to read those, which gives access to vehicle make, model and year – so the tolling authority would know that my car has the capacity to seat seven, and if I am in the HOV lane, I should have four people in my car. It is the counting of the four people that is the issue – there are truck scales that can measure weight as the truck is moving – so if my car is carrying weight equivalent to four average people that would be fine (scofflaws might load their vehicles up with freight to bring the weight up, but most people would not take the hit in fuel consumption). I haven’t seen any technology that could count the occupants as the vehicle passes a camera, but maybe it is just around the corner.

Opponents might say they’ll take seats out of their vehicles, but I think a law would be written to state that it is the seats noted for that vehicle make/model/year – so even if I took out the third row (which I mostly have folded flat) my car should still be counted as a seven seater. If vehicle weight is used to test occupancy people will argue that the system won’t be reliable because some occupants might be children or weigh more or less than average – for 95% of vehicles it would be sufficiently accurate.

The upshot is that I think HOV lanes should be for high occupancy, someone driving a 7 – 8 seat SUV should not get a free ride in the HOV lane because they have one passenger – if they have three, that’s a different story. I think that dynamic tolling should favor vehicles higher occupancy rates.

I would like to see the proceeds of dynamic tolling used to improve the speed and density of public transportation. In my experience, public transportation is most successful when it is faster and a lot cheaper than private transportation.

Matthew in Portsmouth
Guest
Matthew in Portsmouth

Google answered my question – there is a company in California that sells products that can count vehicle occupants in all weather at speeds up to 90 mph, and distinguish between humans, pets and dummies.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

This would not be a desirable approach.

First of all, large low occupancy vehicles such as pickups can take as much or more space than large SUVs. Also, large SUV’s don’t take significantly more space on the road than a small car when traffic is moving as the buffer around the vehicle needs to be considered part of the space.

Bjorn
Subscriber
Bjorn

The 40 dollar toll price might be a little misleading since any car with at least 2 people in it is allowed to use it for free. I have a feeling most of the cars are carpools with maybe a few people paying 40 dollars. I have heard they are considering making it free only for 3+ person carpools instead of 2+.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

The Giant Rock is similar to what I saw on hwy 26 friday afternoon. Odot had a large flashing sign placed to the right of the highway westbound just beyond the tunnel. It said ” Zoo Parking Lot Full, Use Overflow Lot”. This I assumed was due to the crowds driving to Zoo Lights. But the right hand lane of 26 was still jammed with a line of cars at standstill hoping the sign was wrong and they could still find parking, instead of continuing up to the Sylvan Exit and the overflow lot, or going to the sunset transit center and taking max. Ignore they giant flashing sign (rock) because the world owes you easy parking for your automobile.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Why anyone attempts to drive to Zoo Lights on the weekend is beyond me. The Zoo even gives you a $5 discount if you ride MAX. The elevator spits you out right at the entrance!

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Or they might not know they need to take different exits to access the overflow lot or about options in areas they’re not familiar with…

Mike Reams
Guest
Mike Reams

Regarding the ever-expanding infotainment systems: If you have the money to put in more computer-whiz-bang stuff to help the driver, you have the money to put in a camera that will record the drivers actions on a 30-second loop. If the car gets in a crash, the police can use this video to determine whether the driver was engaged in unsafe behavior prior to the crash. Disabling or blocking the camera could be used as evidence of driver misconduct.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Although that determination would be made by the same PPB who didn’t think that a commercially-licensed driver who cut the corner in the dark in a 25-ton garbage truck while racing to beat a train and not using his turn signal was deserving of a careless driving citation…

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Why you would say this is odd. You’ve been here for a while, so you know the Police don’t issue citations until after the DA has reviewed the case. It’s a double jeopardy thing. And the driver was cited.
https://bikeportland.org/2017/11/14/truck-operator-in-water-avenue-fatality-cited-for-dangerous-turn-failure-to-signal-254189

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A
Kate
Guest
Kate

It was interesting, I was riding in a car with some folks over the weekend who had a dashboard system set-up. I don’t think it plays movies or other entertainment stuff, but it does do the phone call, texting, mapping stuff on the dash. Anyhow- they were lamenting how the dash buttons are all disabled when the car is in motion and it has to be entirely stopped of any motion before you can do anything on the touch screen. I declared from the back seat what a relief it was to know that vehicle manufacturers are finally doing this. To know that they couldn’t be scrolling through music options or setting their map directions while inching along was a truly pleasant surprise.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Pretty simple to bypass that so you can watch movies while you drive.

https://www.sonicelectronix.com/cat_i962_factory-video-gps-bypass.html

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Or just use your cell phone or 3rd party electronics which work much better anyway.

The nanny stuff is annoying. My GF’s car won’t let you set things when the car is in motion. Apparently, it’s unsafe for the passenger to do this stuff.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Sorry, you can’t prevent egg-breaking without inconveniencing aspiring egg-caressers (along with the omelet-makers).

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I really do not want that kind of invasion of privacy. Similarly, I don’t think it should be a federal crime to disable the onboard GPS that is in cars nowadays.

FWIW, I do not think those kind of systems belong in cars. Heck, I still drive a manual because I find it keeps me more focused on the task at hand.

9watts
Guest
9watts

As usual you are not telling us what you think a good (alternative) approach would be. How about it?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I truly don’t understand the objection to GPS.

GPS tells you of streets, traffic conditions, the speed limit (as well as a warning if you’re over), and hazards long before you encounter them so you are more prepared for what is to come. Portland street signs are virtually impossible to read, and I can’t see how trying to figure out each and every sign is less distracting than knowing exactly how far you have to go, exactly what the weird transition will look like, about stalled vehicles or other conditions.

Reading a GPS takes only a fraction of a second and talking instructions reduce the need to look at the screen. It is a significant enhancement to safety like mirrors except for those who don’t know how to use them.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

Queens Blvd is a dream! Can’t wait till NYC DOT connects it to Jamaica! Can Portland Borrow NYC DOT for a few years?

Anne
Guest
Anne

And the $100million to go with it? ;o) Seriously though, I used to live in Elmhurst and remember the old Queens Blvd.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Regarding the article about Cleveland- where, precisely, is Portland, Oregon’s “extensive protected bike lane system”? I ride all over town and I’ve never seen one.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

In Medford awaiting influx of fire refugees. . .

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…An employee of the nearby bottle depot, which opened in mid-October, said the rock was placed there to prevent motorists from driving over the curb but it’s now going to be removed by Riocan, the company that manages the retail complex. …” cbcnews canada

The Sage Hill Rock, instead of a steel or wooden pole, isn’t a bad idea to dissuade people driving from cutting the corner too sharp. Nicer looking than a steel or wood pole, but it being only about 2′ high and out of place, not part of any designed landscape along with plants that people would be more inclined to notice than a single rock plopped into an asphalt wasteland, it’s not a big surprise that some people are failing to notice or remember the rock is there just before they turn.

Riocan ought to consider replacing the rock with a taller one that people driving can see from their driver’s seat through the passenger side window, just at the point before they make turns.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

My vote is for something like this:comment image

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Riocan ought to consider replacing the rock with a taller one that people driving can see from their driver’s seat”

Why?

Oh, right. You think that children should be taller too, and old people trying to cross the street a little quicker on their feet, and those dressed in muted hues should spice it up a little. I forgot.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Is anybody putting the Sage Hill Rock on a T shirt yet?

oliver
Guest
oliver

“Drivers can’t seem to stop hitting a giant rock”
We need more of these, everywhere. #teamRock #dontCut

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

#driverwasstoned

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

You mean like where zoobombers might ride?

9watts
Guest
9watts

Would society be safer, would more people be alive today if zoobombers didn’t cut corners, paid more attention?

#false equivalences

Brian
Guest
Brian

Great piece on the lifer, Bill Elliston. I loved the quote, “The only difference between the rides we do now and those a couple years ago are that we cover a bit less ground and have upgraded from recovery shakes to beer.” Thanks for posting.

Ken
Guest
Ken

I like the quote from the London video,
“I have the right to get to work, safely”

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

I’m surprised not a mention about CRC rearing its ugly head again. Seems that Washington now want to huddle with Oregon to get it done. Same problem though. No money and little interest in Washington’s Senate and Oregon’s just about everything.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I doubt WSDOT will have much money for the CRC any time in the near future. They will be paying off that Seattle tunnel boondoggle, and the freeway to nowhere in Spokane for decades.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Well in theory it’s WA residents that suffer from the current bridge so shouldn’t it be up to them to push for it? (obviously people in North Portland also get caught in it too)

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

When will Portland have a bike super highway? They could have built them with new max lines simultaneously ….but nope. Lost opportunity.

caesar
Guest
caesar

mark smith
When will Portland have a bike super highway? They could have built them with new max lines simultaneously ….but nope. Lost opportunity.Recommended 0

Do what London did. Get big business on your side and bring the forces of the market to bear on the politicians. London’s success shows that it can happen.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Clearly the solution to drivers hitting that rock is not to eliminate it entirely, but to replace it with a much taller, larger rock. We all know how ‘threat assessment’ works for those behind the wheel…