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The Monday Roundup: Self-driving cars and human sacrifice, Milt Olin settlement, freeway fails, and more

Posted by on June 4th, 2018 at 10:59 am

Welcome to the week. Here are the best stories we came across in the past seven days.

But wait! Here’s a brief word from our sponsor… This week’s Monday Roundup is brought to you by the Whiskey Run MTB Festival, happening June 9th on freshly-built singletrack in the forests of Oregon’s southern coast.

And now, on with the news…

Planning, privilege, and new voices: A fascinating read (and listen) from Streetsblog LA about “accidental planner” Monique López who went from front lines of environmental justice activism to the pearly gates of the planning field — all while being a queer, low-income person of color.

Just stop building them!: Fascinating (and quite unfortunate) to see state leaders in Texas stress out about how to pay for $32 billion in freeway megaprojects as if that’s the only way to solve their growth and congestion problems.

Adding lanes doesn’t work: Surprise, surprise! Curbed reports that a recently completed, 10-mile carpool lane on one of the busiest freeways in America (I-405 in Los Angeles) has only made commutes slower.

Settlement in Milt Olin case: A court has awarded Olin’s estate $11.75 million in a high-profile case of distracted driving. Olin was struck by a police officer who initially tried to blame Olin for swerving; but the court found that it was the officer who swerved while he was distracted with a device in his patrol car.

Don’t knock ’em: There’s one group of people who never seem to bash scooters: Those who have actually ridden them.

We’re making drivers worse: One of my fears about this “self-driving” phase we’re in is that we’re training people to be less attentive behind the wheel. This USA Today story only validates that concern.


Congress looking into it: Two U.S. Senators have asked automakers to explain safety protocols for their use of testing autonomous driving features on public roads.

Just kidding, they’re still deadly: Years after all the headlines about how driverless cars would fix all our road safety problems, the truth is leaking out. This study says it’s still cool if they only reduce 75 percent of the crashes. And this writer says we should just get over it and realize that self-driving cars will kill people. All in the name of progress, right?!

Fire safe streets: Access for fire trucks and vulnerable users does not have to be mutually exclusive reports Angie Schmitt from Streetsblog in a story based on a recent webinar hosted by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Citi Bike’s top riders: Not only has NYC’s bike share been a huge success at its five-year anniversary, its operators awarded riders with the most trips and miles during a party in Prospect Park.

Space for cars, but not people: Tom from Seattle Bike Blog uses a personal story to illustrate the absurdity of car-centric planning rules.

A rocket for Elon: Bike Snob NYC does not hide his disdain for tech titan and outspoken promoter of himself, Elon Musk.

Is biking elitist?: A great piece about a neighborhood in Chicago with a relatively high percentage of daily bike riders who don’t fit the typical mold.

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

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Jim Lee
Jim Lee

I’d like to see data and calculations that support immunity of autonomous vehicles to “accidents.”

And now the AV lobby is telling us that we always must be fully alert, aware, ready to respond in our AV. In other words we must act exactly as we would in an “ordinary” vehicle.

Scam, or what? Why bother?

Al Dimond

Naturally the Chicago Tribune (not just a print newspaper, but one that’s long been known as an establishment-conservative voice) is going to write a story starting with the assumption that anyone on a bike is a hipster or an “elite”. Real surveys and studies seem to show pretty uniform cycling rates across income groups — we shouldn’t be fooled.

Gentrification in Chicago neighborhoods tends to follow broader economic trends and bigger investments. Before the 2008 recession Pilsen was starting to gentrify, starting with galleries and hip bars mostly on its eastern edge (near Halsted), and it felt inevitable that it would gentrify quickly.

The “606 gentrification” story is probably overblown — the trail being built, and gentrification occurring, are more like results of common causes (or even a situation where early gentrification boosted trail efforts) than one causing the other. I don’t blame neighborhood activists for seeing it that way, as the overwhelming financial force of gentrification is a scary thing to confront, but we should expect more of a city’s main newspaper. Some of the city’s best parks, beaches, and trails have been on the south and west sides for decades without causing mass gentrification!


E scooters huh.

From the article.
“On that first ride, a few things became apparent. First, I was more likely to respect traffic laws on a scooter than on a bike..”
“Doesn’t riding in the bike lane annoy cyclists? Yes, of course. Cyclists are annoyed by most stimuli. ”
“I spent 20 minutes searching the neighborhood for a scooter so that I wouldn’t have to take a Lyft.”

Sounds like more bs techbro drivel to me. E scooters might be perfectly fine but consider the tone of the articles you link to..


Your Texas article appears to be behind a paywall.

Dan A
Dan A

Cop kills Olin with car after sending 9 text messages to his wife just minutes before the crash. Then he lies about the cyclist supposedly swerving into his lane and taking evasive action to avoid the cyclist, both of which never happened. Then he throws away the phone, preventing it from becoming evidence, he gets transferred to another department (to a job he asked for) and the county pays nearly $12 million in settlement. Cop is still employed with LASD.