Splendid Cycles

The Monday Roundup: War on Waze, Seabulls, e-bike subsidies, and more

Posted by on May 14th, 2018 at 9:32 am

Sponsored by: NW Trail Alliance

Grab your friends and family and head to Portland’s bike park on June 2nd for the Gateway Green Mountain Bike Festival and Take a Kid MTB’ing Day!

Welcome to Monday.

Before we delve into another week, let’s catch up with the best stories from the previous one…

Residents only: A town in New Jersey has taken the awesome step of restricting access on some residential streets in order to get them off the Waze app and prevent drivers from cutting-through. It’s either this or physical diverters on every street. Take your pick, city leaders!

Pendulum to buses: It’s a constant swing in media coverage of transportation: Fawn over AV, infotainment systems and driverless tech, then remind folks that — “a big moving container of people on a fixed route” — aka the bus — has worked all along.

Pendulum to bikes: Same as above, except for bikes.”The Vehicle of the Future Has Two Wheels, Handlebars, and is a Bike,” says tech media giant Wired.

Dockless changing the game: It’s no coincidence that Portland’s free Biketown experiment happens as private dockless bike share operators are knocking on our door. Now a bike share system in Los Angeles is considering halving its fares due to dockless competition.

Sevilla’s success: The lightning-quick development of a protected cycling network in this Spanish city can be traced to a single political poll where 90 percent of respondents demanded better bikeways. That and other important nuggets explain how Sevilla built its network in just four years (or, about the time it takes Portland to select a community advisory council).

Uber’s AV blind post: The auto industry has never cared about the safety of people outside its products — so we shouldn’t be surprised about the latest reporting about the death in Tempe.

Advertisement

The good Waltons: Instead of decimating economies with a retail concept that encourages a race to the bottom, these Walton heirs are doing something cool: Putting their money into mountain biking.

A terrible trend: The auto industry is willfully making cars more dangerous by adding more distractions. This industry is out-of-control and must be more highly regulated. Who will stand up to them?

A different future: A new report by Tony Dutzik of Frontier Group, The Future of Travel Demand and the Implications for Policy and Planning, is a solid foundation for a new approach to transportation investment. Dutzik makes the point that assumptions used to sustain our continued freeway-and-road building mistakes are based in assumptions that no longer reflect how people live and move.

LAPD’s cop out: Police in Los Angeles are very concerned about a rise in careless and distracted walkers who they say are causing their own deaths.

The real problem: What gets lost in the “distracted pedestrian” and false equivalency of “we all have to share the road,” is the fact that the reason so many people are dying is huge SUVs with massive engines and weak headlights driven by selfish people on roads that are dangerous by design.

Where bike lanes end: A blogger in Albuquerque has coined a new term to describe suddenly ending bike lanes (SEBLs): Seabulls.

Peak divisiveness: This story about a Seattle city councilor who was physically assaulted for supporting a “yuppie” bike trail shows (among other things) how successful the media and politicians have been at turning people against each other for their own monetary gain.

Coast to coast NIMBYism: Curbed reports that, similar to Portland, the biggest impediment to making streets safer is unfair and drawn-out public processes that gives too much power to hateful people whose only aim is to maintain the status quo (aka NIMBYs).

E-bike subsidies: We missed an opportunity in the big 2017 transportation package to create a subsidy for electric bicycles. Here’s a story about politicians in the U.K. who are pushing for that policy.

Twitter Thread of the Week: DC-based transportation engineer Bill Schultheiss on those ridiculous large trucks:

Thanks for all the suggestions this week. And thanks to all the great transportation reporters out there who create these stories.

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

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

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

84 Comments
  • BrianC May 14, 2018 at 9:38 am

    This is the definitive take down on trucks:
    https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/04/28/what-does-your-work-truck-say-about-you/

    Cheers!

    Recommended Thumb up 9

    • John Lascurettes May 14, 2018 at 10:38 am

      Love how the article picked up on the minivan advantage in the article. I’ve long known that my minivan has better cargo capacity than most “work” trucks I see on the road and it drives a lot better than a truck and has better safety features.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • B. Carfree May 14, 2018 at 11:21 am

        I never know whether to laugh or cry as I pull away from a big-box hardware/lumber store with more material on my (admittedly large) bike trailer than any of the jumbo pick-ups are carrying. At least most of the drivers of those things give me a kind word when they see me attaching a red flag to the rear of the load.

        Recommended Thumb up 8

    • mark May 14, 2018 at 11:15 am

      That was a great read. Nailed it with clear examples.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • BB May 14, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Too bad the author completely invalidates himself with statements like, “Back when money was tighter (I only had $700,000 in the bank but at least my house was paid off)”..

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Ken S May 15, 2018 at 7:45 am

        If you’re an independent contractor and you finance projects with your own bank account, $700K is very tight.
        You pay for materials, your employees, your own expenses, and then hopefully make more than enough to break even.

        Based on the guy’s list of previous vehicles, he’s very frugal. It would follow that he bought (or built) a house within his means to minimize his dependence on loans and help his business thrive.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Chris I May 15, 2018 at 8:43 am

        You need to understand the author and the website for some context on that statement. It is financial advice targeted at middle-to high-end income earners. He argues against “lifestyle creep” and encourages early retirement and philanthropy. He also argues for active transportation and community building.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • BradWagon May 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm

          He also might be the most off-putting condescending snob I’ve ever read…

          Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Todd Boulanger May 14, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      Nice read…and photos to boot! I love the photo example of using a standing drill press to drill a small hole that a hand egg beater drill (ala 1920s) could do. (Priceless, kinda like the “bicycle of drills” for most trips.)

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • bikeninja May 14, 2018 at 10:05 am

    The fishermen assaulting the council member is especially ironic because the largest threat to the fishermen’s income and lifestyle is the C02 belched by autos. In addition to climate change this greenhouse gas acidifies the ocean. Other real threats to the fisherman’s livelihood are overfishing by factory fleets, pollution and runoff ( much of it from roads and parking lots) and the scourge of plastic hauled home from the big box store by autos then dumped in the ocean. I think the threat that yuppies on bikes pose is far down on the list.

    Recommended Thumb up 22

  • Buzz May 14, 2018 at 10:24 am

    There should be a weight, height and fuel economy restriction on all vehicles allowed in the urban environment. Dumb-ass jacked up pickups and giant SUVs don’t qualify. If that’s what you want to drive, you can just park it outside of town and walk, cycle or take public transit to your final destination.

    Recommended Thumb up 33

    • Stephan May 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      I can only agree! One additional thing to consider: I was biking with my 6-year old daughter on one of the greenways when such a truck approached us from behind, and it was totally terrifying for her. We ended up stopping at the side of the street to let the truck pass us — us, on bikes, who are supposed to have priorities on streets like that! These types of vehicles are simply incongruent to a city where people walk and bike. But what are going to do about it? Nothing.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

      • Dan A May 14, 2018 at 1:39 pm

        My neighbor has TWO F-350s, and no regular cars. I have no idea what he needs two huge trucks for — I’ve never seen him carry anything in the back of either truck, and the 2nd truck is just used by his wife to drive the toddler around. The only thing I know for sure is that the trucks seem to need a lot of time to warm up. He’s always starting his truck 20 minutes before he gets in it.

        Recommended Thumb up 9

        • Chris I May 15, 2018 at 8:45 am

          Insanity. History will not look kindly on our current culture. It is really sad to experience first-hand.

          Recommended Thumb up 2

        • q May 15, 2018 at 8:52 am

          Willamette Week ran a story years ago where they interviewed every Hummer owner in Portland. One woman said she understood it didn’t get very good mileage, but she tried to make up for that by making sure the snacks she bought for her kids were organic.

          Recommended Thumb up 5

    • GlowBoy May 14, 2018 at 6:30 pm

      20 years ago – before SUVs were more than a niche vehicle I was telling anyone who would listen that driving a vehicle in excess of 4000 pounds should require a CDL. Something with that much mass should demand a higher level of driver skill and training than (what was then) an ordinary car; my reasoning was that such a requirement would (1) deter a lot of people from buying such large vehicles, and (2) ensure that those who did would be better drivers. Well, the number of people who would listen turned out to be pretty small, and I gave up on that crusade a very long time ago.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • X May 15, 2018 at 10:55 am

        Portland’s marked parking spaces are incredibly ample. If we’re going to have such a thing they could all be three feet shorter. Suddenly there would space on the block for sightlines at the corners!

        Recommended Thumb up 2

  • bettie May 14, 2018 at 10:33 am

    I’m wondering if all the negative reporting in the bicycling community is causing its own downfall. I keep reading about crashes, deaths, thefts, aggressive drivers, self-driving car malfunctions, and how unsafe our streets are that no wonder many women don’t want to bike to work if at all. Sure, it’s good to be aware, but seems like negative reporting gets more attention.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • John Lascurettes May 14, 2018 at 10:54 am

      I post a lot of “drivers, please don’t do this” from my daily GoPro videos on my commutes. It has the effect of some people saying, “your videos make me never want to try bike commuting” which is opposite of what I’d like to do. Yet, I am still trying to educate my driving friends about things like checking the bike lane next to them before changing lanes or turning, signaling, not blocking bike boxes or parking in bike lanes.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • Kyle Banerjee May 14, 2018 at 11:47 am

        That they would be frightened is the logical outcome.

        In a best case scenario where some people who see the videos improve their driving habits, these situations will still be common and everyone knows that. When they imagine themselves under the circumstances depicted, it’s not going to look pretty.

        People won’t ride unless they feel equipped to handle circumstances they expect to encounter. They need to envision themselves succeeding, and that requires them to feel like that can anticipate and respond appropriately in these situations. Encouraging fear accomplishes the exact opposite of that.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • John Lascurettes May 14, 2018 at 12:33 pm

          I’ve been trying recently to also post more pleasant clips that show the joy of riding. And also, to dispel the thought that the altercations are “normal”. I reiterate that I am a strong-and-confident type that is taking high-speed roads with lots of traffic, and that alternate routes are available that have fewer conflicts. And for me, it’s the difference between a 3-mile, 10-minute commute with lots of conflict points and a 3.5 mile, 18-minute commute with very little conflict. I choose the quicker route most commutes because I can.

          Recommended Thumb up 2

          • Kyle Banerjee May 15, 2018 at 11:15 am

            This illustrates a lot of practical issues.

            In your example, your commute is half the distance for the average person. Virtually all new riders would want to take the low conflict route. Between fitness and equipment differences, my guess is that many would be slower than you — over 30 minutes each way being a realistic number for many of them. Then they overdress so they feel a need to change and get cleaned up which also adds time. Double that for the return trip, add in some weather, and the idea becomes a hard sell.

            Much of Portland is served by public transit. Assuming you live in one of those areas, what’s the realistic commute time — maybe 45 minutes each way? BTW, almost all of my women colleagues have complained to me about harassment on public transport at some point. Nothing that would lead to safety concerns (yet), but enough to make the experience unpleasant for them.

            Again, that’s for half of the average commute and it doesn’t get better as things lengthen.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

    • B. Carfree May 14, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Another part of the negative reporting that I believe holds us back is how so many “advocates” insist on being helmet nannies. It creates a sense among people that cycling is a very dangerous thing to do. It’s high time we stopped such nonsense and pressed the message of how riding a bicycle can be an important part of improving our health and life expectancy.

      At the very least, maybe we should be pressing the message that one is more likely to suffer brain damage while in a motor vehicle than while riding a bike, per hour, so why don’t motorists wear helmets? And don’t even ask about walking…

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • soren May 14, 2018 at 11:52 am

        and don’t forget the hi-viz, “bike like i do”, and “you are making us all look bad” nannies.

        Recommended Thumb up 9

        • Kyle Banerjee May 14, 2018 at 12:17 pm

          Openly denigrating and expressing hostility towards owners of pickups and SUVs (the most popular vehicle types) won’t them to become cyclists.

          Nor does celebrating situations where motorists are inconvenienced.

          Recommended Thumb up 10

          • Bikeninja May 14, 2018 at 12:33 pm

            But darn if it doesn’t feel good.

            Recommended Thumb up 10

            • John Lascurettes May 14, 2018 at 12:41 pm

              There is a certain degree of passive hostility of even operating a “work” truck or large SUV on the road as a normal passenger vehicle on the regular. Talk to most people who drive them as passenger vehicles and they’ll tell you they do because it makes them feel safer.

              Recommended Thumb up 13

              • Dan A May 14, 2018 at 1:44 pm
              • bikeninja May 14, 2018 at 3:23 pm

                It is beyond comprehension to me that we don’t have national vehicle safety standards that require a standardized bumper height for all vehicles ( large trucks included). These should apply to all vehicles regardless if they are fresh from the factory or modified by the owner. That we have not had such a simple and sensible law for a long time tells us all we need to know about the priorities of the auto/truck industry and the sway they have over public policy.

                Recommended Thumb up 9

              • John Lascurettes May 14, 2018 at 3:55 pm

                Growing up in the suburbs of California, I remember this used to be a thing. When the local high schoolers started doing lift kits on their Broncos and trucks, they’d get pulled over by the bored suburban cops and hassled a lot. The cops would pull out their measuring tape even. Same thing for lowered muscle cars. My only guess as to how this changed over time was that as manufacturers started making larger and larger trucks and SUVs, they started lobbying for relaxation of some of those bumper standards. I have no real idea though. I just know that bumpers are higher and more aggressive than they’ve ever been, and that’s a visibility issue over the front of the hood of most large vehicles.

                Recommended Thumb up 6

          • soren May 14, 2018 at 1:21 pm

            i believe that society SHOULD discourage behaviour that endangers others (directly or indirectly). this attempt to “personalize” a moral-political position by falsely labelling it “hostility” is an ad hominem.

            “Nor does celebrating situations where motorists are inconvenienced.”

            imo, the negative externalities of automobility are far more than an “inconvenience”.

            Recommended Thumb up 20

            • Kyle Banerjee May 14, 2018 at 3:15 pm

              JONATHAN: Please delete the earlier comment

              Uh huh.

              I’m sure pickup and SUV drivers will hang up their keys and start cycling when they find out they’ve earned the scorn of a handful of activists with years of riding experience who think they’re subject to perpetual danger and abuse.

              Recommended Thumb up 6

              • X May 15, 2018 at 11:02 am

                ???

                Recommended Thumb up 0

      • El Biciclero May 15, 2018 at 9:41 pm

        You know what your problem is? You’re not Just Like Me.

        For some reason, I’ve really been noticing lately that lots of people tend to react to “different” ideas in the same couple of ways: by creating a straw man out of a mostly moderate position, e.g., “I try to avoid driving as much as possible.” To which the reply is something like, “Oh yeah? Well how do you think your precious bike parts get delivered? If you outlaw driving, how will you get your food? Huh? Did you ever think of that?”

        Or by somehow linking all your problems to whatever “different” thing it is you do, e.g., “My toe hurts.” “Well, that’s because you don’t eat meat. Your body needs the complete protein and vitamin B. You probably have a vitamin deficiency, that’s why your joints hurt all the time.”

        Whatever.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Anne May 14, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Welcome to the concept of “if you have a good experience you tell one person, if you have a bad experience, you tell 10”. I think Jonathan does a good job of reporting positive things. I love his weekend events listings.

      Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Dave May 14, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Big trucks and rolling coal=proof beyond needing to doubt that someone’s parents are brother and sister.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • X May 15, 2018 at 11:08 am

      I agree with the general sentiment but the specifics are a little over the top. Got pickup owners in my family (well-used ones)

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • B. Carfree May 14, 2018 at 11:17 am

    I love the term “seabulls”. I’ve always used the clunky term “bike lanes to nowhere, but seabull isa grand improvement that I’m going to shamelessly steal.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Ken S May 14, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      I know, right?!

      Can we get the same kind of rollout as the “20 is plenty” signs?
      I’d buy a trunk full of signs and post them all over portland metro.
      “WARNING! Suddenly ending bike lane ahead!”
      “#stopthesebls”

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Dave May 14, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Citylab has a great article on Seattle’s Metro bus system. Two points: If you build it they will come, and if you get as many cars as possible out of their way the buses will run faster and more promptly and more people will use them.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Al May 14, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Uber detuned it’s AV system’s pedestrian awareness and then without testing this out on a closed track under controlled conditions, decided to take it out on public roads. Then they reduced the number of technicians in the vehicle from 2 to 1 making the “driver” also monitor the AV system. This is insane!

    Every executive at Uber tied to this project in the org chart should be facing criminal charges now!

    Recommended Thumb up 13

  • John Liu May 14, 2018 at 11:41 am

    We think closing neighborhood streets to everyone except the residents is “awesome”? But we call neighborhood resident groups “hateful people” when they disagree with us on how to improve those streets? The spin in this Monday’s Roundup is confusing.

    Recommended Thumb up 16

    • Paul H May 14, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      The powers-that-be moderated out my original post along these same lines, so I’ll just add that I completely agree with your distaste of closing streets in that manner.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • GlowBoy May 14, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      “Residents only” is the wrong way to do this, and probably doesn’t pass legal muster. What about deliveries? What about friends and relatives visiting said residents? Gated communities can impose these kinds of restrictions, but you simply cannot close off a public street to people who live on it.

      What you can do is impose traffic-calming measures, particularly diverters that lengthen the routes of those who might try to use the neighborhood as a cut-through, as well as chicanes, speedbumps, curb extensions and the lot.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • John Lascurettes May 15, 2018 at 10:22 am

        Yes, I questioned the legality of the “locals only” on publicly funded roads (especially if they take any federal money at all). Also, it walks a very tenuous line between trying to protect public safety and stoking the NIMBYism fires.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • X May 14, 2018 at 11:56 am

    SUV s are dangerous, in part, because their lights aren’t bright enough? That’s hard to believe. Poorly aimed, perhaps. It’s more plausible that motor vehicle users are overconfident because of all the devices and layers of protection they have. And then, vehicle designers add distractions. What good are lights when the driver’s attention is focused inside the cabin?

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Ken S May 15, 2018 at 12:47 pm

      I’d second that observation.
      I’ve seen so many cars drive through my neighborhood, either with highbeams on or misaligned lamps pointing to the sky.
      Modern LED or Xenon headlights are bright enough to see 3-4 city blocks.

      The drivers either don’t know or don’t care that they’re blinding other people with their lights and, if they’re the “don’t know” group, unaware of how a vehicle’s lights function, it’s reasonable to assume they have other gaps in knowledge or attention, i.e. right of way laws, using your blinkers, remembering to check blindspots, etc.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Alan 1.0 May 14, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    On that Rawstory article about Seattle’s “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman trail, Tom Fucoloro has more coverage: https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2018/05/08/shipyard-manager-admits-he-had-men-shove-cm-obrien-over-his-support-for-the-missing-link/#more-483533.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • 9watts May 14, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    e-bikes need a subsidy?
    why?
    I thought they were selling like the proverbial hotcakes the world over, presumably in most countries without subsidy.
    Getting rid of the hundreds of billions of annual subsidies to oil and gas and coal seems like a more promising strategy if we’re interested in fiddling with subsidies.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Al May 14, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      I think the point is that they should qualify as zero emission vehicles which already get subsidies.

      But the wider picture is that subsidies are a lot easier to enact than end. In fact, even raising the prospect of a sunset on a subsidy in years to come is far fetched especially in the sectors of agribusiness and energy. Western “democracies” have been captured by the very industries people passed laws to regulate.

      Virtually all human problems today are the result of political decisions of the past.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • X May 15, 2018 at 11:20 am

      Right now I’m mulling an e conversion for my principal bike, putting way too much brain sweat into it even though I know the year one cost is less than I will spend on drinks or my semi-useful phone. If government has a point it is to do the things people can’t do for themselves, or perhaps, to prod them to do a thing that will absolutely pay off but just doesn’t seem quite that attractive up front?

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • 9watts May 15, 2018 at 12:55 pm

        We don’t need e-carrots, we need sticks to make it more apparent that the car is not long for this world. Does every policy choice have to have a subsidized goody dangling from the stick? What is wrong with fingering the automobile, without concomitant enticements?

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • Ryan May 16, 2018 at 12:45 pm

          I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but try catching a fish using the traditional baited hook approach and then try swimming around with a club and see which way is more successful.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • 9watts May 16, 2018 at 12:49 pm

            Fish catching doesn’t tend to end well for the fish. Not sure about your metaphor applied to the policy realm.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

          • q May 16, 2018 at 2:05 pm

            Doesn’t subsidizing e-bikes means someone who trades in their bike for an e-bike for commuting to work gets rewarded, with the reward paid for by people who continue to bike or walk to work, or work at home?

            Maybe the e-bike subsidy could be paid for by the bicycle tax.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

        • X May 17, 2018 at 8:40 am

          I resist trends and hate jargon. But I put it to you that there is a chance to stimulate early adopters who will make e biking trendy and create a virtous cycle of more bikes, and fewer cars, on the streets. Those bike riders, by virtue of herd immunity, will make it physically and emotionally safer for other bikers to join them. The herd will demand safer facilities and more legal protection from motor vehicle operation.

          Check, check, check on any policy suggestion you might have, $9 gas, tougher driver licensing, foot down stops for cars, you name it I’ll salute it. It’s just that those things are hard to legislate right now. What is possible right now is for consensus politicians to fiddle with a small piece of their budget and perhaps start a trend. The model is not fishing or beating horses, it’s seduction.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Mike Sanders May 14, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    And then there was a Republican candidate for Governor in California who argued in a debate the other day that the high speed rail project now under construction between San Francisco and Los Angeles should be abandoned and the money, he argued, should be used for widening I-5
    down the Central Valley. He called it a boondoggle that will never be finished (it’s behind schedule and there are cost overruns galore). “You can fly between SF and LA for a price a lot cheaper than the billions we’re wasting on a high speed rail line to nowhere,” he declared. You’ll likely to hear those kind of arguments against a Portland-Seattle high speed rail line, if the longstanding proposal ever gets off the ground.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Chris I May 15, 2018 at 9:05 am

      The best we can hope for for PDX-SEA is “higher” speed rail, in the 125mph territory. This can be done with a 3rd mainline and selective bypass tracks, for less than a few billion. This would get the travel time under 2 1/2 hours, which would be competitive with flying and much faster than driving. Fully grade-separated true HSR will not happen in the NW any time soon.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • 9watts May 15, 2018 at 9:11 am

        “hope for”?

        and why would we want that?
        Trying to emulate air plane speeds in ground transport is a 20th Century fantasy. Maybe we should ask why we have such unslaked appetites for long distance travel.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • q May 15, 2018 at 10:39 am

          It would allow people in Portland to do weekend getaways to Seattle without driving or flying, so they could go to restaurants in Seattle instead of Portland, and maybe stay in a neighborhood in a house that’s been converted from housing into an airbnb hotel room, while an equal number of people could get on the train in Seattle, and come to Portland and do the same thing. The people from Portland could go to a movie in Seattle, and the people from Seattle could go to a movie in Portland. Each group could drive around in Ubers. That would boost the economy.

          Recommended Thumb up 6

          • 9watts May 15, 2018 at 12:49 pm

            Thank you for that, q.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

        • Chris I May 15, 2018 at 12:39 pm

          People like to travel. I’d rather have them on a train than on I-5 or in an airplane. Rail travel has lower emissions than driving or flying, and significantly lower fatalities/injuries than driving.

          I don’t know about you, but I’m not content to experience the same city for my entire life. Some of us like to travel, and we want to do it responsibly.

          Recommended Thumb up 5

          • 9watts May 15, 2018 at 12:52 pm

            I like lots of things too, but does that mean we should spend public dollars trying to help everyone toward that end? And when do we get to the end?

            The reason I think we’re having this discussion is that we get/got into trouble with everyone liking to do ever more things, ever further away. There is such a thing as too much. The idea many here seem to subscribe too, that we just need to find a clever, efficient, technical solution to the problem of the day, and then everything will be fine is just ridiculous.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

          • q May 15, 2018 at 1:17 pm

            You can take a Bolt bus to Seattle for $17. You can also already take a train. There are a lot better ways for society to spend several billion dollars than to provide a fast train for people who don’t want to take a slower train, a bus, a car or an airplane. You’re not stuck in Portland your whole life it the fast train isn’t built.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

            • Chris May 15, 2018 at 9:24 pm

              The interstates that Bolt Bus operates on are subsidized, and that 3-4 hour bus trip for $20 isn’t getting very many people out of personal vehicles on I5. If we want to prevent sprawl in our cities, we need to have high speed connections from city centers.

              Recommended Thumb up 2

              • 9watts May 15, 2018 at 9:51 pm

                Lots of unstated assumptions in your post.

                “If we want to prevent sprawl in our cities, we need to have high speed connections from city centers.”

                That is kind of absolute, wouldn’t you agree. This assertion hardly captures either the range of possibilities or the interactions we know about, much less those we understand less well. You may not have thought of this, but it is thought that one of the best ways to incentivize sprawl would be the exact kind of fast, convenient long-distance travel you suggest. It would remove one of the main still existing barriers keeping folks with enough money from living even further from their jobs or entertainment than they already do.
                Incidentally, Jeg used to make absolutist statements here in the comments along these lines: https://bikeportland.org/2015/03/04/guest-post-progressive-portland-developers-policy-plan-affordable-infill-135242#comment-6232951

                “The interstates that Bolt Bus operates on are subsidized,”
                What is your point? We pump tons of public dollars into roads, and airports (ever checked how much jet fuel is taxed here in Oregon!?)
                https://taxfoundation.org/combined-effective-commercial-jet-fuel-tax-rates-and-fees-state/
                #whataboutism

                “and that 3-4 hour bus trip for $20 isn’t getting very many people out of personal vehicles on I5.”

                ? Maybe those who do ride those buses are not your peers? Kind of a weird statement.
                In my experience, Bolt buses in the I-5 corridor are fuller than the Amtrak/Pointe/MTR Western buses. Maybe if gas weren’t still so heavily subsidized, buses would be fuller? Lots of variables to consider.

                Recommended Thumb up 1

              • 9watts May 15, 2018 at 9:58 pm
              • q May 15, 2018 at 10:00 pm

                You’re thinking the high speed rail wouldn’t be tremendously subsidized? Not many people are going to abandon driving if their train tickets aren’t heavily subsidized, especially when you factor in the time and expense of getting to and from stations, and the constrictions of train schedules. And how does connecting two cities 175 miles apart with faster rail reduce sprawl?

                And again, there are so many better ways to spend literally billions of dollars. Think of what a billion dollars spent in Seattle and Portland could do to improve walking, biking, and transit in each metropolitan area. And there’d still be billions more left for other things.

                Recommended Thumb up 2

  • GlowBoy May 14, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Re: Infotainment systems. I first became really aware of the danger of distracting infotainment systems when I rented a Ford with their abysmal new (and widely criticized) TouchMySync, or at least it was called something like that. The depth of menus you had to wade through to access basic functions – not to mention the ridiculous number of menus you even could wade through (should I even be able to make my dashboard lighting one color and the cabin lighting another color?) – made me realize it was hard not to be a dangerous driver in the thing.

    But at least that system was operated by physical push buttons next to the screen. Now most of the automakers are switching to touchscreens, which are more dangerous. At least you can feel out a physical button with your finger before you press it. That’s important, because with a touchscreen you have to take your eyes off the road several times longer for each interaction than you would for a physical button press. That might take you up from a small slice of a second to a second or two, and that’s too long.

    Over the weekend I rented a car with Apple CarPlay in it, and although this was much improved over earlier touchscreen systems – particularly in that the screen had really huge icons that you could more easily find and tap without taking your eyes off the road for as long – it’s still a touchscreen. I’m still of the opinion that they should be banned outright in motor vehicles’ infotainment systems, but as the article says no one’s willing to stand up and demand change.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • B. Carfree May 14, 2018 at 7:08 pm

      I just saw a commercial for a car that had a special button on the steering wheel to help the poor motorist stay in her lane while driving. The example was the supposedly stressful situation of passing a truck that is to the right and a car to the left on a freeway.

      Has it really come to this: people need a computerized assistant to hold their lane in a thirteen-foot wide lane? And these are the same people who buzz by cyclists with millimeters to spare and think it’s all good. Also, how many other special little buttons are there and how much of the driver’s attention is going to get diverted to selecting the right button?

      No wonder motorists are banging into each other (and inanimate objects) right and left out there.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • X May 15, 2018 at 11:30 am

        There must be something in the water. Our automobile industry can’t decide to do anything about keyless cars that make it possible for people, not hypothetical people but actual people who are still dead, to leave a car running in their garage and fill their house with poison gas. “Three beeps should be enough!¡!” They are OK with killing a number of their own customers evidently. So who cares about people outside the car?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rachel b May 14, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    OMG…. The Waze smackdown made me giggle with glee! I want us to start looking a lot harder before we allow companies to leap, in future…instead of always having to scramble for some way to claw back reason and restore order. How driver-commuter needs were ever allowed to take precedence over the needs of (formerly) peaceful neighborhoods/residential areas boggles my mind.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Kyle Banerjee May 15, 2018 at 6:31 am

      Who actually believes there will be any equality in how this tactic is deployed and used to benefit a small number of individuals belonging to the same groups at the expense of others?

      People live everywhere, but for some reason, those who don’t have the privileges that allow them to treat public property like a private resource don’t count. Also, since environmental concerns appear so often on this site, since when does drastically increasing the amount of time people spend idling help air quality?

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • billyjo May 15, 2018 at 8:41 am

        it’s not so much as treating the road in front of their house as private, it’s treating the road as intended. For neighborhood traffic. side streets weren’t designed to carry through traffic.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • Kyle Banerjee May 15, 2018 at 9:43 am

          Measures such as diverters are called for to prevent inappropriate use of roads. People zooming down low visibility side streets is dangerous as well as annoying.

          However, there is no right to expect that nothing will change in a major metropolitan area. What constitutes appropriate shifts with time, and that change needs to be managed rather than resisted outright.

          The same people wind up bearing the brunt of change and paying the highest rent so that another group can enjoy disproportionate benefit. Many of them have to live further out, commute much further for lower wages on roads that are much harder to ride even on the best days. And then they get dumped on here for being selfish when they do the only thing that makes sense for most of them.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • X May 15, 2018 at 11:34 am

        Why have city planning if it can be subverted by an app? If traffic is slow, guess we need more pavement. Simple.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Kyle Banerjee May 15, 2018 at 1:29 pm

          It’s not subverted, and the whole point is we don’t need more pavement — we only need to utilize what we already have.

          People have relied on traffic cams for decades and traffic reporting for much longer. 40 years ago, many people used CB radios for crowdsourced traffic reporting and routing. All of this is about using alternate routes to make it home when crashes, broken water mains, police actions, downed trees, or whatever is hosing things. Waze is just the modern version of that with much more complete information.

          In cases where traffic sensitive navigation introduces specific problems, let’s fix those. Trying to undermine a useful service that people rely on is doomed to failure. In the highly unlikely case of “success,” a workaround will pop up shortly — probably with even worse side effects.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • X May 17, 2018 at 9:01 am

        Sitting in an idling car is not something that the government makes people do. It’s a choice they make. It seems you found an alternative, after all. We know that particular choice doesn’t work for everyone but there are others: move closer to your job, find a job closer to your home, take the apartment that is closer to a transit line or your local school, etc. Idling cars: straw man.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • q May 14, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    I’m still not getting the attraction of “driverless” cars that aren’t fully autonomous. If you have to sit in the driver’s seat and pay full attention at all times so you can override the automatic controls, in order to be safe, why not just drive a standard car?

    I guess the answer is that they do have an advantage for the driver who DOESN’T pay attention to driving. But it’s unrealistic to think that people won’t exploit that the cars will drive themselves (albeit not always safely for those outside the car) and will be texting, eating, reading, napping, etc. instead of being ready to take over the controls when needed.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • El Biciclero May 15, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    In the LA Daily News article about pedestrian fatalities, I think the most telling quote is the statement about “older” people crossing streets:

    “They think they have more time than they do.”

    This statement takes as obvious fact that drivers cannot be expected to slow down, let alone stop, for crossing pedestrians. It places the assumed onus on the pedestrian to only cross when there is a big enough gap that speeding traffic won’t be forced to moderate their behavior one iota. It is clear who we believe rules the streets.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • 9watts May 15, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      Good eye.
      Ivan Illich is turning over in his grave.

      Recommended Thumb up 2