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The Monday Roundup: MAMILs not so bad, auto pollution reality, and more

Posted by on January 2nd, 2018 at 12:53 pm


Big plans: Berlin is the latest city to unveil a bold infrastructure plan that will vastly improve bicycling conditions. By 2025 the city will aim to build 62 miles of “cycle superhighways” and 100,000 new bike parking spots. Existing bike lanes will be “rigorously protected by bollards.”

Welcome to 2018! Hope everyone had a fruitful and fun holiday.

Here are the best stories we came across over the past week or so (keep in mind I haven’t kept up as carefully as usual since before Christmas).

Why governments run transit: Forbes zeroes in on the “elephant in the room” of Uber’s story: The company’s inability to make money.

Not rocket science: To reduce congestion, the tourist town of Whistler slashed transit fares and increased the cost of car parking. And it worked.

Love live MAMILs: Often mocked and reviled by more utlitarian-minded riders and planners, here’s a rare article that sings the praises of those Middle-Aged Men in Lycra.

Learn from masters: Like when Luke went to the Dagobah System to visit Yoda, you can still apply for a spot at the Planning the City summer school in Amsterdam and learn all the Dutch tricks.

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Sucking in what cars spew out: Overuse of cars is an epidemic plague that’s ruining our health and scientists are finding out the pollution it creates is even worse that we thought. And by the way, switching to electric cars won’t solve the problem.

Perspective from people with disabilities: One quarter of the bike commutes in Cambridge, London are made by people with disabilities, underscoring the fact that city planners must think proactively about accessibility for all riders when they design infrastructure.

Aging and access: With 80 percent of older Americans living in the suburbs, the weaknesses of our our automobile-first transportation networks become even more apparent.

Dockless bubble bursting: CNN reports on a shakeout of dockless bike share companies in China and there’s also talk of a possible merger of heavyweights Ofo and Mobike.

Dockless haters in D.C.: Residents of an upper-income neighborhood in Washington D.C. are fed up with dockless bikes in their neighborhood and have resorted to calling police on people who use them.

— 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 welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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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bikeninja
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bikeninja

The article on the isolation of the elderly is just another justification for James Howard Kunstlers thesis that America’s 83 year experiment with Suburbia will go down in history as the ” greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.”

9watts
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9watts

That Uber article is fantastic. Wow.

Down with rapacious capitalism.

“While Uber’s business model has created enormous value for consumers…”

See this is what is wrong with how we measure things. What does that even mean, “for consumers.” Uber drivers are also consumers, and so are taxi drivers, and everyone else, and this development has done nothing valuable for any of them, as people. Grrr.

Matthew in Portsmouth
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Matthew in Portsmouth

As a defiant MAMIL, I really don’t care what people think of the way I dress. In fact, I gave up caring decades ago.

bikeninja
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bikeninja

Seems like the health, fitness and lifestyle benefits of middle aged men cycling are obvious ( I am one) but I don’t think there is much future in doing it while wearing clothes made of fossil fuel based plastic.

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

Has anyone in Portland or the BP Blog done the Amsterdam bike course? Is it any good? I’d love to hear some testimonials – it looks intriguing.

B. Carfree
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B. Carfree

I can really relate to the old people driving problem. I moved my mother to a cottage three doors down from me because her dementia is too much for her partner to handle. She had agreed to give up driving when she came, but after she arrived she changed her mind, or at least the part that remains. We have literally everything one could ever want, except a bike shop, within a mile of our house and she is fully capable of walking, but a lifetime of driving for recreation had created a desire that could not be denied. After just a few months, she moved back to the southern part of the state and is someone else’s problem now.

On the in-law front, we tried for fifteen years to get my mother-in-law to leave her suburban house. Even when it was clear that neither she nor my father-in-law could safely drive, she fought to remain. We barely got them into a retirement center (a really ritzy place, btw) before she suffered a soon-to-be fatal stroke. Father-in-law has kept one car, just so it’s available when one of his daughters visits in case she needs it.

My personal experience with the geriatric set is that it’s not just the car-based set-up of our housing, it’s also a psychological thing with that generation that equates driving with not just transportation but with independence. It all seems so perverse.

q
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q

The article about the high number of disabled cyclists is interesting. I’d guess a lot of people would think of “disabled cyclist” is an oxymoron, and that includes people who are designing infrastructure.

I’ve seen several recent examples of really disheartening blunders involving the most basic aspects of accessibility on new paths in Portland, and equally disheartening responses when I reported them. When we’re at that pathetic level for the most basic things (not providing code-compliant handrails on ramps, or tactile warnings where pedestrian paths enter vehicle areas) I’d guess there’s almost no consideration being shown at all around here when it comes to designing infrastructure that works well for cyclists with disabilities.

mark smith
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mark smith

I used to live right above I-84 right across from Providence. There was one blessed hour we could open our windows. It was when someone flipped there car across the the median. It was a blessed hour. Freeways are a blight upon society and should be capped where people live next to them.

rachel b
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rachel b

Living on SE 26th between Powell and Division, I regularly wiped black soot off our window sills. We had good air filters but my asthma got worse and worse as traffic on SE 26th became more thick w/ big diesel trucks, cars, heavy beverage delivery trucks (for the masses on Division), etc. Just one of the reasons we moved away. Surrounded by trees now and I breathe (literally) my thanks, every single day.

Jon
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Jon

One point of clarification: 1/4 of disabled people commuted by bike, not 1/4 of all bike commuters are disabled in the article about Cambridge, UK.

John Liu
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John Liu

The problems with dockless bikeshare were previously discussed on BP. In addition to blocking sidewalks and littering the city with randomly parked or abandoned bikes, dockless systems will undermine the Biketown system. Biketown is a good system, it works and is being extended every year. Let’s not allow it to be taken down by VCs and their half-baked dockless systems losing money in pursuit of big valuations.

soren
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soren

Joanthan wrote:

switching to electric cars won’t solve the problem.

However, the article quotes a researcher who states that switching to electric vehicle would “certainly reduce the public’s exposure to engine-related emissions”.

I’ve never understood the antipathy towards electric vehicles from people who bike.

Are EVs a panacea?
No.
Are they better than breathing tailpipe emitted “particulate matter, carcinogen-laden soot…”
Most definitely.

caesar
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caesar

EVs offer all kinds of clever benefits, but as Jonathan and others have pointed out, by making driving cheaper and quieter and socially acceptable in new ways the potential for congestion(to name just one externality) to increase is not easily dismissed.

Interesting point. Are you postulating that people who currently do not drive at all (and therefore do not pollute the air and degrade quality of life via automobile) will somehow be enticed to start driving by purchasing a new, more “socially acceptable” automobile, thus increasing the burden of cars on our already congested streets and roads? Has that phenomenon been reported in any significant numbers by any credible source? I suppose it might be happening here and there, but the number of people in that category will probably be very small and as such easy to dismiss as a significant source of additional pollution and social malaise. More probable is that increasing numbers of current drivers will abandon their ICE cars (once EVs drop in price a bit more and driving ranges are extended with better batteries) and will switch to EVs. In fact, every person that I know (n = about 12) that now drives an EV switched from a gasoline powered vehicle that they no longer own. Sure, those old ICE cars are going to end up being driven a few more years by somebody else who was going to buy an ICE car anyway, but the increased number of EVs on the road isn’t equivalent to increased number of vehicles, only different (cleaner) vehicles.

“EVs will not singlehandedly solve environmental air pollution, but neither will bicycles over their service life” Can you elaborate? I’m not following how you think the two are equivalent. EVs are massively complex pieces of machinery with large, expensive, environmentally problematic batteries that in fact have a (measurable) service life, not to mention all the other rare metals and parts needed. Bikes can be made of wood if it comes right down to it, and my bike is going strong after 30 years. The only thing that needs occasional attention are drive train components and brake pads. Tiddlywinks by comparison.

I was trying to point out the irrationality inherent in dismissing EVs simply because they do not singlehandedly solve the problem of pollution /infrastructure degradation of our cities. Much like it would be ridiculous to dismiss our attempts at increasing bike ridership simply because that would also not singlehandedly solve our problems. We are all (well, most of us here) strongly supportive of more bike riding, more bike infrastructure, etc. Because it helps, because it’s a step in the right direction. Just like EVs: The more that current ICE drivers switch to EVs , the cleaner our air will become. Sure, traffic congestion may not change much, but at least there will less lung cancer and emphysema and asthma to worry about. And less of those stupid-loud modified exhausts screaming down our streets.