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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.

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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

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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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BrianC
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BrianC
bikeninja
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bikeninja

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.

Buzz
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Buzz

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.

bettie
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bettie

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.

Dave
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Dave

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

B. Carfree
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B. Carfree

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.

Dave
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Dave

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.

Al
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Al

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!

John Liu
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John Liu

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.

X
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X

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?

Alan 1.0
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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.

9watts
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9watts

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.

Mike Sanders
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Mike Sanders

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.

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

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.

rachel b
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rachel b

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.

q
Guest
q

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.

El Biciclero
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El Biciclero

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.