Welcome to Monday.
This week’s Roundup is brought to you by Cycle Oregon’s Weekender (July 13-15) — a two-day bike bash based at University of Oregon in Eugene.
Here are the best stories we came across in the past seven days…
A leap for dockless bikes: Jump, the company that makes Portland’s Biketown bikes (they used to be called Social Bicycles), has been acquired by Uber. Looks like either Uber has figured out that dockless, electric bikes are superior to cars in urban settings — or they want to snuff out a legit threat to their bottom line. Interesting times.
E-bikes OK in NYC: Mayor Bill de Blasio had come under fire for harsh treatment of e-bike delivery workers. Now he’s clarified rules to permit pedal-assist bikes and prohibit those that use a throttle (for speeds over 20 mph).
Bike libraries in Chicago: To increase access to bikes in low-income communities, activist Oboi Reed has launched a program that loans them out for free.
Bike urbanism primer: Fast Company has an overview of Mikael Colville-Andersen’s new book, Copenhagenize, which lays out his view that all the transportation tech we need is already available in the humble bicycle.
Music to my ears: When it comes to traffic crash reporting, “Journalists need to scrutinize driver’s actions as much, if not more, than the behavior of pedestrians or cyclists,” says the Columbia Journalism Review in this fantastic piece that rightfully calls out the police and the lazy media professionals who enable them for their biased and victim-blaming coverage. (Based on a research paper by Heather Magusin titled, If you want to get away with murder, use your car.)
What Boston is doing: Boston’s mayor has used increased parking fine revenue to fund 20 new city staff positions that will be dedicated to making it easier to bus, bike, and walk.
Flag this, PBOT: As Portland gets ready for the dockless revolution, we should learn what we can from Chicago’s research on best practices and regulations.
The future isn’t more lanes: In yet another example that the I-5 Rose Quarter and other regional freeway widening projects are bad moves, the CEO of Moovel says the future is in updating our existing infrastructure so that it can fully exploit new transportation-related technologies.
Biking so white: North America isn’t alone in grappling with the fact that cycling for transportation is still dominated by white professionals. UK-based New Statesman mag asks, “Why are there so few black and Asian cyclists in London?”
A vision in Seattle: Portland is already doing a lot of the stuff Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan lays out in her vision of transportation; but it’s happening under-the-radar. Having a mayor who’s transparent about their vision is almost as important as doing the work it takes to achieve it.
Speaking of mayors: Los Angeles-based transportation reform journalist Alissa Walker calls out “climate mayors” who like making lofty proclamations, but who have a harder time making the hard choices (like reigning in auto use) it takes to actually push back the needle of climate change.
Bike ban in Prague: Leaders of the Czech capitol say there’s just not enough room for bicycling in the dense urban core.
F*&$ you Mercedes Benz!: This abhorrent advertisement that glorifies racing on city streets and has the audacity to feature a vulnerable road user as a target should be illegal. Full stop. Crap like this a big reason why deaths of people outside of cars is going up in America.
Thanks to everyone who tweeted, emailed and tagged us on these important stories.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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“Crap like this a big reason why deaths of people outside of cars is going up in America.”
Sentences like this are a big reason that many people don’t take Bike Portland seriously.
Sorry John but I stand by that comment 100%.
Do you think ads like this impact our street culture and behaviors?
Yes it does impact our street culture and behaviors — that part I agree with. The problem with your statement is that garbage ads like this have been around for decades but you seem to imply that they are a big reason for the recent uptick in deaths. That doesn’t make sense.
I think it makes total sense that ads like this have a cumulative effect over time. Ads like this erode civility and — when coupled with a lack of enforcement and increase in in-car distractions — they lead to more people dying. That makes sense to me.
I think part of the reason I’m being harder on you is because of the standard you hold other journalists to when writing about transportation related issues. Maybe it’s not fair. In any case, I wish we had better coverage on the mainstream side so you wouldn’t have to carry all of the water.
Can you imagine if we had a piece like NY Mag’s in The Oregonian? http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/lessons-from-the-park-slope-crash-that-killed-two-children.html
Another way to look at this is that because
– deaths and injuries of those not in cars are going back up again, while deaths of those in cars as far as I know are continuing to go down,
we deserve an explanation. I don’t have one—except to perhaps point to the epidemic of distraction—but looking around for signs seems exceedingly worthwhile. Do you, John, have an explanation of this (recent) divergence?
Total number of deaths of vehicle occupants stopped declining around 2011 and have been rising since 2014. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/passenger-vehicles
Pedestrian deaths in motor vehicle accidents stopped declining around 2009 and have been rising since then. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/overview-of-fatality-facts
(Note: some tables are total # of deaths, others are deaths per 100,000 persons.)
Why is this – I don’t know, but some possible factors:
– The Great Recession reduced miles driven, which rose again during the economic recovery.
– More older vehicles may have been taken off the road before 2011 (remember “cash for clunkers”?), replaced by newer vehicles that are safer for the occupant but not for pedestrians.
– The market shift from passenger cars to SUVs may have made collisions more dangerous for pedestrians but safer for vehicle occupants.
According to this link the number of people inside cars getting killed is also going up as well, at least for the period 2014-2016
Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by type
Year car passengers # rate
2014 21131 6.6
2015 22741 7.1
2016 23793 7.4
Year Pedestrians # Rate
2014 4910 1.5
2015 5495 1.7
2016 5987 1.9
Year Bicyclist # Rate
2014 723 .02
2015 828 .03
2016 835 .03
Helpful, if dispiriting statistics.
Wonder if this ties to more people employed so more people driving. As well as gas prices drown so driving is more affordable.
Are there statistics based on fatalities per mile driven? If those numbers are static it would imply that this up tick is due to the above.
Yes, lower gas prices are directly linked to more deaths.
“GUANGQING CHI: A $2 drop in gasoline price can translate to about 9,000 road fatalities per year in the U.S.”
Imagine how different all news might be if it was paid for by people instead of by car advertisements.
Very true–and as a 63 year old who has watched this stuff for a long time, I’ll say that the addition of overt aggression to car ads is a phenomenon of the last 20 or so years.
Yes. I can’t recall specific ads off the top of my head, but my memory of past ads that show performance are things like a car winding through curves on a mountain road, or swerving dramatically around obstacles.
This one–with the ”You get the %$#@ out of the way” tagline as a pedestrian is shown running for his life to get to safety? How can you be more blatantly hostile than that? I guess the answer is…you show the driver’s face, but you show the pedestrian as a generic silhouette–like an insect in the way of successful you with your expensive car.
Car ads, maybe. But then again, hypercars you can buy are a more recent phenomenon. Truck ads have been worse for a long time.
In any case, getting outraged doesn’t help — it only helps perpetrate the exact attitudes it wants to combat by making cyclists even a bigger part of the joke.
You must have missed the Mopar (Chrysler) Rapid Transit System ads from the late 60’s early 70’s. They look very much like the current ads for Dodge performance cars.
I did not get that impression from JM’s statement…and I am one of the bigger parsers of words here.
“Crap like this a big reason why deaths of people outside of cars is going up in America.” I’m sorry but I’m not sure how you couldn’t draw that conclusion from that sentence. I would even go so far as to say that it was stated outright instead of simply being implied. I also happen to agree that the ad is problematic but making specious assertions regarding statistics does not help the cause.
Automakers have become much more – well, aggressive – in their depictions of aggressive driving in recent years. I remember when ads always had big “always drive responsibly and obey traffic laws” disclaimers on the bottom, and never showed the cars being driven in a way that appeared to be illegal. Racing was never depicted. You never heard tire squeals in ads, despite vastly inferior tires that made most cars squeal at even half a g of lateral cornering force. Now Dodge can show cars generating giant clouds of tire smoke and it’s okay. Cadillac can show the front of an imposing Escalade in a print ad, with the camera on the ground and the vehicle towering over the viewer, with a “YIELD” sign. All this is accepted now. Ironically, back in the time of muscle cars this was not considered okay.
Speaking of aggressive, look at car design. Fast cars look as aggressive as ever (admittedly, fast cars have always looked aggressive). But look at trucks. Today’s mid-size truck is yesterday’s behemoth. Small, light trucks barely exist. The typical truck today seems to be black with black windows, black wheels, huge grilles, huge engines…and the trend towards buying trucks instead of cars for the aggressive image seems (my impression) stronger than ever.
Yes, gasoline is far too cheap.
Ads definitely impact culture, but there’s also a flip side–culture impacts ads. In this case, a huge, mainstream company that’s undoubtedly very careful about what media it places its ads in didn’t hesitate to show a hapless, anonymous pedestrian comically scurrying for his life while the ultra-cool driver impatiently waits during the condescending, hostile tagline.
The fact that Mercedes felt fine presenting that message says everything about current culture. In the 50s and 60s, coffee and laundry soap companies didn’t hesitate to show husbands scolding and even spanking their wives for making poor coffee or leaving unsightly rings around their collars (and every person in every ad was white, excepting Aunt Jemima or the occasional porter or coffee bean farmer). Those companies wouldn’t dare show those ads today.
You could say the ads are evidence society is about as evolved about driving today as it was in 1960 about gender and racial equality.
Autocentricty is so prevelent and reinforced in America that it comes as a shock to some people when it is pointed out as Jonathan has done here. Car companies have sold cars for decades by preying on the subconscious weakness’s of its potential customers and this has in turn built up a set of assumptions and biases in society in general. Now that we are sitting on the precipice of climate chaos, energy depletion, urban congestion and auto related carnage we should be stepping back from this mindset and building up societal bias’s against the automobile and its trappings. This add did not ramp up the carnage by itself, but the fact that it exists means we are not moving in the right direction.
Facts are great, they help us be informed and inspired. Opinions are best left for the note from the ED.
I’ve always written the monday roundup with an opinionated tone. it’s an informal post where i clearly and often will share my personal take on the news. thanks for the feedback.
Clearly that was an opinion, JM wasn’t trying to sneak anything by you.
Here’s a fact: MB is proud of making a 4-door with over 600 HP. WTF streets is that supposed to run on? That there is some bullshit, honey.
it’s for the autobahn… to be driven by people that have gone through a more strict process to get their license than those in the US…
One could more readily afford a Tesla that would beat this car off the line.
Agree with John and Jonathan.
Another way to look at this is that this Mercedes Benz ad, and our current president both starkly reveal their/our shadow*, giving form to the darker impulses that exist both in the world and in each of us.
* used here in the sense that Carl Gustav Jung used the term.
Really disappointed to see any company willingly associate themselves with Uber in any way. If Uber’s acquisition of Jump means that Biketown contributes anything to Uber’s bottom line, then maybe I’m done with Biketown.
I was done with Biketown before a single bike showed up on our streets – given its contributions to Nike’s brand.
What you need to watch out for is any integration of the Biketown app with the Uber app, especially if in a nanner that disadvantages Lyft and other rideshare/taxi apps.
Uber bought Jump for $100MM to integrate bikesharing with ridesharing in the Uber app. In many cities, Jump operates the bikeshare. In Portland, Jump is not the operator – it supplies the bicycles to the operator Motivate – but I’m not sure if Jump supplies the app.
Uber bought Jump, formerly Social Bicycles, for about $100MM.
Jump does not operate Biketown. Jump sells the bikes and apparently some of the software purchased by Biketown. Biketown is operated by Motivate for the city.
In some other cities, Jump is the operator of the bikeshare in addition to supplying bikes and software.
Uber will probably try to integrate the bikeshare systems operated by Jump with the Uber app. The cities who contracted with Jump to operate those bikeshares may have something to say about that. In Portland, since Jump is not the operator of Biketown, there may be more obstacles to Uber’s goal.
Not sarcasm. I felt conflicted about Nike’s involvement, too, but as far as I know revenue didn’t flow back to Nike. They certainly got a brand boost from it, advertising from bikes riding around town, etc. But my money didn’t actually go directly back to Nike. With Uber owning the operating, they will actually get revenue.
Nike (or Uber) benefit from boosts to their brand far more than from the few bucks you or I might or might not contribute to the cause. I recommend Naomi Klein’s No Logo.
People who buy Nike are going to buy Nike already…even if they don’t sponsor bike shares.
How do you know it works like that?
As just one example for why it doesn’t work like that, let’s note that the biketown deal was worth $XX million to Nike. Nike is not a philanthropic entity but a multinational corporation. They don’t spend money for no reason.
I guess they don’t need to spend billions on marketing, then… you should tell them!
Fair point, I don’t necessarily disagree. It’s just easier to definitively trace revenue dollars on a balance sheet. Brand value is bit fuzzier on the edges, though as you say, potentially more lucrative.
For me the bigger concern is that Uber may not really be interested in becoming a bikeshare company and expanding their app to include bikes. It’s possible that rather than acquiring Jump for vertical integration, they may have bought it for anticompetitive reasons: to shut it down.
More likely they bought it to collect user data and to expand their client base.
Also Uber has a much worse reputation than Nike.
I was about to suggest that it was a wash as far as their malfeasance, crummy practices, etc., but since you got there first, let me ask you for evidence of your assertion that Nike wins over Uber.
Thanks for that excellent piece.
I’ll just note this quote from it –
Mayor de Blasio’s adoption of Vision Zero has cut the annual number of pedestrian deaths by 45 percent in less than five years.
Can we get a response from PBOT? What does de Blasio know that our elected leaders do not?
Re: “…cycling for transportation is still dominated by white professionals…”
While this may be true in Portland and some other cities, it isn’t true for every part of the USA. In southern California I saw many more Latino cyclists.
This report says 23% of bike trips were made by Black/Latino/Asia people in 2009, who made up about 27% of the population at that time:
According to the census, 43% of our local population is African-American, as are 55% of our cyclists and 90% of our transit users, here in Greensboro NC. LimeBike is getting similar numbers, except MUCH higher rates for cycling in black areas of town.
Might it be that in mostly white communities like Portland or Seattle, blacks feel intimidated riding through them? That they fear they’ll be unfairly pulled over by police for “cycling while black”?
Motoring is an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Also, does this thread contain the first reference in BP to C. G.Jung?
Thanks BP, this week’s collection of articles was particularly well chosen. Including the two insightful dock-less bike stare stories.
The Mercedes ad with its “You get the &^%$ out of the way” would look great on a bus alongside one of PBOT’s new “Slow down” ads.
My ‘favorite’ TV car ad portrayed a SUV driver wildly driving over concrete spacers and berms to get to a coveted parking space. Having witnessed a pedestrian fatality and numerous injury scenarios in real life parking lots, this had to have been the worst behavior modeling I’ve ever seen in a car ad
You’ll like this one then, just released for the new Mustang Bullitt:
It features two drivers racing for a single parking lot, one of them making a pass at 55mph.