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The Monday Roundup: Dockless bigotry, TriMet’s dirty diesels, the 199 year-old bike, and more

Posted by on January 29th, 2018 at 10:34 am


Welcome to the week. We’ve got a lot to cover; but first let’s look back at the best stories we came across in the past seven days…

Worst Day of the Year Ride is Feb 11th

On February 11th, jump on your bike, wear your silliest costume, and embrace Portland’s winter weather at the 17th annual Worst Day of the Year Ride — a benefit for the Community Cycling Center.
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Cars vs bikes, literally: Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi is meddling in the business of dockless bike-share companies in what looks like an effort to tame their growth.

Better boardwalks: We love this brilliant, modular sidewalk expansion method from London. Where could we put wider sidewalks to use in Portland?

Funding boost: Jump Bikes (formerly Social Bicycles), the bike share company that provides bikes and tech for Portland’s Biketown bikes, received an influx of venture funding after winning an exclusive permit for dockless e-bikes in San Francisco.

Effective bike marketing: If you want your city to make real progress in getting more people on bikes, you need to internalize and implement these eight rules from Modacity.

Hey that’s cool: A paper on robot-controlled bicycles from researchers at Caltech (PDF) included this cool graphic (below) that shows the tire marks of 800 bicycles being pushed until they fall over (aka ghostriding).

Tire marks of 800 bicycles being pushed until they fall over.
(Image: Caltech)

Riding indoors without shame: “Traffic” author Tom Vanderbilt has come to not just tolerate riding inside. Because of Zwift and “smart” trainers, he actually loves it.

TriMet’s dirty buses: Did you know our regional transit provider is behind-the-times when it comes to using electric buses? Climate Solutions says 60 percent of TriMet’s trips are still taken on diesel buses and they want the agency to make a full transition to electric.

“Petextrian” is the new “jaywalker”: Both terms blame the victim and are pushed by the same forces that want to maintain a status quo that offers unfettered access for the most dangerous and harmful urban road users — people who drive. This must-read from The Baffler lays it all out.

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Race-based complaints: “Black Urbanist” writer Kristin Jeffers calls out dockless bike share critiques that she feels are rooted in bigotry.

Wrong side, ACLU: The Americal Civil Liberties Union has inexplicably joined a lawsuit that bans the use of photo radar cameras to catch speeders. That’s dangerous and it shows the org’s “windsheild bias” says Streetsblog.

Wrong side, Sierra Club: Another example of a “progressive” org that doesn’t understand transportation and livable cities is the Sierra Club: They oppose a California bill that would encourage transit-oriented development.

Cities for kids: Financial Times breaks down what makes a kid-friendly city. No surprise that it’s all about density, proximity to parks and streets built for people, not cars.

Freeways and poor neighborhoods: This story about a poor area of Orlando that’s encircled by toxic freeways is heartbreaking — and a great example of who the City of Portland should not support any expansion of I-5 through the central city.

More inspiration: London’s walking and cycling commissioner says their protected bike lanes move five times as many people per hour than regular lanes. Best part of the article is the lead photo that looks a lot like Naito Parkway and Waterfront Park (hint hint PBOT!).

Portland’s Naito Parkway could should look like this. (Photo via The Guardian)

199-year old bicycle: A collector uncovered an extremely rare and completely fascinating “hobby horse” bicycle which was first patented in 1818.

Existing traffic is a tax on the poor: Here’s a solid argument in reply to concern trolls who say congestion pricing is regressive and unfairly targets the poor.

— 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

I love this part from the Baffler article, “pedestrians could bully self-driving cars into gridlock.” “Put another way: Pedestrians, long shunted to the margins of America’s transportation system and left to fend for themselves, would now be empowered to walk when and where they please, reclaiming their equal right to move about the city.”

I think this is a likely and desirable outcome of self driving cars, so perhaps they are a good thing.

Smarty Pants
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Smarty Pants

Could not open the FT article on kid friendly cities and density. What makes a kid friendly environment is low density with large yards for the kids to play in. High density is not friendly to kids or anyone else (except maybe for rats).

On congestion pricing, it will force many low-income single parents out of their homes because they will no longer have a relatively inexpensive way to get to their job.

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

I’m for speed cameras, as I think the benefit outweighs the intrusion, but I’m still glad we have organizations like the ACLU that put up a fight against systems that automate law enforcement.

So I wouldn’t necessarily say they are on the “wrong side”. That is almost like calling a defense lawyer unethical for representing someone that is clearly guilty! They have some decent points (and some weak ones too).

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I think an answer to the privacy concerns of Traffic Cams as brought up in the article about ACLU lawsuits, is for cities to come up with another catagory of moving violation that is enforced against the vehicle and its owner and not the driver like a parking ticket. This would eliminate the need to photograph the driving, and instead the camera could just point at the license plate zone, or in the future low range RFID tags could be attached to license plates eliminating the need for cameras. These “car based” moving violations would be for things like violating 20 mph speed limits etc. And would not go against a drivers record but just need to be paid like a parking ticket. Cops could still enforce the entire suite of moving violations as they do now.

Dave
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Dave

I am hugely in favor of speed and red light cameras–we have almost 100 years of proof that motor vehicle operators–call them motoring primates, maybe–should not and can not be treated as fully human. Want your human/civil/legal rights? Don’t drive. Isn’t 30K deaths a year enough to start rethinking this stuff?

John Liu
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John Liu

On the “congestion pricing is not regressive” point, note also that modern congestion pricing is done with electronic toll technology, so it is feasible to provide discounts to the lowest-income drivers.

Alex
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Alex

Wow – the sierra club being on the wrong side of a cycling issue?! I’m in shock.

Anne
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Anne

That London sidewalk article: though the extensions are certainly colorful, it seems that (in the photo anyway) the sidewalk already there was wide enough. Also, Portland sidewalks are 2 squares wide! I was amazed by this when I first moved here. Maybe not everywhere but most places I’ve walked. The only impediment is overgrown shrubbery.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

RE: TriMet bus electrification, I think an important question you have to ask is whether you would rather spend money on expanding service or new electric bus purchases.

They cost about 2x as much and up until recently TriMet’s fleet was well above avg age (18 years old). Now they are almost all 8-years or less. They are testing 4 new all-electric buses in a couple years. The hybrids they bought in the past yielded no cost savings and cost a fortune to maintain. They also got very poor mpg.

And of course Seattle is going electric, they already have a ton of infrastructure.

I am not saying we can’t expect better but we have areas of East Portland emerging with very poor transit coverage and high demand right now, while all the hipsters and millennials move to inner neighborhoods and don’t care about surge pricing or paying drivers less than minimum wage. That, to me, is a more prescient issue.

CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

While trying out an electric bus concept, Tri-Met could maybe try some more more innovative designs, allowing for more narrow footprints in congested areas. This would hopefully allow for less congestion by better enabling human-scale mobility devices (bikes, scooters, feet) to maximize use the public thruway. Well, it was a nice thought.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Good idea–there are Portland neighborhoods that can make a Subaru Impreza feel like a tractor-trailer–why not have more small buses running more often?

CaptainKarma
While trying out an electric bus concept, Tri-Met could maybe try some more more innovative designs, allowing for more narrow footprints in congested areas. This would hopefully allow for less congestion by better enabling human-scale mobility devices (bikes, scooters, feet) to maximize use the public thruway. Well, it was a nice thought.Recommended 0

Tom Hardy
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Tom Hardy

A couple of years ago (4 years) I was in San Antonio and there were a large number of both fueled and electric Jitneys. Fare was only a quarter. some were on rails and some were wheeled (tired) All had rollupable windows, but they were usually down. No air conditioning but the shade was good. I thought then that Portland should have something like that, although it would be an administrative night mare. BTW they were making money in spite of the large workforce. Or maybe because of it. Their administrative overhead was about half the size of Trimets’.

BB
Guest
BB

Not red-light cameras, but on the topic of video surveillance: Seattle just removed a bunch of cameras that were installed five years ago under the guise of “port security” – but instead of pointing the cameras at the port, port facilities or the bay, they were pointed the opposite direction at nearby residences instead. The cameras were never officially activated and the whole thing cost $5 million.
http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/coming-down-never-used-seattle-police-surveillance-cameras-wireless-mesh-network-being-removed-starting-today-in-west-seattle/

9watts
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9watts

The Fortune article about congestion pricing in NYC not being regressive reminds me of an all too common misunderstanding that appears here in the comments. Most people focus on the cost, the fee, rather than on what the fees are then used to accomplish. By always and reflexively shooting the messenger we never get a chance to find out all the salutary things that can flow from this kind of re-levelling of the playing field, this reallocation, this Ecological Tax Reform (there are many names for this).

dave
Guest
dave

I guess you missed the story that the electric buses currently being produced are lemons:
http://krqe.com/2018/01/26/company-responsible-for-art-bus-problems-was-not-citys-first-choice/

Probably smart to wait until things are worked out before wasting millions of dollars.

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

I would be more concerned about Didi trying to take over Chinese bikesharing companies like Ofo if it were happening here and if dockless in the USA were limited to Chinese companies. Ofo certainly is a big player here, but of the three major players I observed in Seattle a couple weekends ago, only one is Chinese and subject to Didi’s monopolistic behavior. The other two – Lime and Spin – are US based, and frankly I found their bikes a lot more reliable than Ofo’s anyway. If this kind of behavior were happening in the USA I’d be up in arms though.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

In reality, there is zero reason to every photo the driver. The car commits the act. Period. Send the bill to the owner. If they don’t pay, get a judgement. Just like a parking ticket. Do they ever need a face for a parking ticket?