The Monday Roundup: Commute discrimination, cultural appropriation, Dutch inspiration and more

Posted by on September 4th, 2018 at 10:21 am

Welcome to the week.

Today’s Monday Roundup (that I realize is on a Tuesday) is sponsored by Cycle Oregon’s new Gravel event coming up October 5-7th. There are still spots left!

Here are the best things we came across in the past seven days…

Signs matter: New research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says lowering posted speed limits by as little as 5 mph causes people to slow down. Someone should tell ODOT.

Vision more transit: Research (funded by a transit group) finds that places with higher transit ridership per capita also have fewer traffic fatalities.

Not enough vision: Several counties in England are cracking down on visually-impaired drivers by taking away licenses upon failure of a basic eye test.

Snob scoots Stumptown: Don’t miss this very fun take on the scooter scene in Portland from none other than Evan “Bike Snob NYC” Weiss.

Scary numbers: A strong majority of respondents (62 percent) in a UK government survey said the top reason they don’t bike is that they don’t feel safe on roads. What that number would be in the US?

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“Commute discrimination”: A study in Washington D.C. found that employers were much more likely to call back job applicants who lived closer to the position — which tend to be more expensive.

Hit-and-run injustice: NY Times examines police crash investigation policies in light of one woman’s frustrating attempts to find justice after being victim of a hit-and-run.

Blatant cultural appropriation: A Czech bike brand has issued a statement and says changes are coming after criticisms for their over-the-top use of Native American imagery and culture in their marketing.

Hand signals: The New Yorker did a fun illustrated spread titled, “Cyclist Hand Signals and their Meanings.”

Going Dutch: This quality interview from Vox with authors Melissa and Chris Bruntlett is a handy primer on Dutch cycling culture and how it can inspire a revolution in America.

Happy streets?: An advocate with Washington Area Bicyclist Association laid out a fantastic argument for why we should provide less more space on our streets for the majority of people who don’t use cars: Because it would make everyone happier.

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

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38 Comments
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    Jon September 4, 2018 at 10:47 am

    It would be nice if optometrists had to report anyone with eyesight bad enough that they cannot safely drive. Social workers, doctors, nurses, school workers, etc. all legally have to report child abuse. Visually impaired drivers are at least as dangerous. It is far too easy to get and keep a licence to drive a 5000 pound vehicle that can go 80 or more miles per hour as we see every day.

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      John Liu September 4, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Agreed although not sure the test being used in the UK (able to read a car’s license plate from 70 feet) is appropriate.

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      Alice J Corbin September 4, 2018 at 11:37 am

      They are. And they do.
      It actually happened to a friend of mine.

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      Johnny Bye Carter September 4, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      The problem is in the renewal process. An eye test is not usually required to renew a license.

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    John Liu September 4, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Hey, any chance you might be covering this bikeshare conference? I’m really interested to hear about it.

    https://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/index.ssf/2018/09/portland_will_host_bikeshare_e.html

    “About 350 bike-share experts and industry representatives from around the world will be in Portland this week.

    The North American Bikeshare Association is holding its fifth annual conference, and Portland will play host for the first time.

    The organization is the only one of its kind. It represents cities, nonprofit organizations and private companies operating the on-demand bike rental programs popping up in cities throughout the country.”

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    David Hampsten September 4, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Vision More Transit: When I was a student working on my MURP at PSU, I had a professor Strathman who taught that whenever you did a correlation taking 2 seemingly unrelated items that are using the same variable on both the x and y axis, in this case “per capita”, you will always get a hyperbola and a very strong correlation. Since then I’ve used it many times to make very convincing, though basically untrue, arguments in the favor of my agencies points. Interesting that StreetsBlog is willing to publish this piece of academic GIGO.

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      John Liu September 4, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Yeah, what the heck is Streetsblog thinking? Even taking the data at face value, the correlation is not at all striking. A R-squared of 0.27 is not much above “uncorrelated”. The p-values are not shown but I doubt they indicate statistical significance. And if you unpack that data, you’d probably see that all of the R-squared comes from the handful of datapoints at the extreme lower right. Bloggers shouldn’t blog about statistics unless they take the time to examine the data and get informed about statistics.

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    bikeninja September 4, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Reader the scooter story gave me a business idea. According to Evan the biggest problem with the e-scooters was finding one near the end of the day that still had juice in it. It seems that the scooter bro’s would find it advantageous if they could purchase some kind of shaped foil blanket ( to act as a faraday cage) that they could drape over a scooter after it was stashed in an out of view location, so it would become invisible on the apps, so it would be available to ride home at the end of the day , or to take on an evening bar run.

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    Caitlin D September 4, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    That Bike Snob piece about scooters was fun 🙂

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      9watts September 5, 2018 at 11:47 am

      Agreed.
      Brilliant as he always is and with an exceptional knack for the clever phrase.

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      GlowBoy September 5, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      I agreed with absolutely everything Bike Snob said in that article.

      FWIW, I rode one Lime scooter and two Lime bikes today (tis was in St. Paul, the only city I spend time in that has both dockless bikes and dockless e-scooters — although Minneapolis will also soon have both, thanks to new dockless bikes from Motivate, the same folks that provide both cities with their docked system).

      For a short ride of a few blocks the scooter was kind of fun, but it cost just as much as the five miles that I rode on the LimeBikes. And the scootering, while novel, was not more fun than the biking. I think there’s plenty of room for both.

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        9watts September 5, 2018 at 5:41 pm

        “I agreed with absolutely everything Bike Snob said in that article.”

        And then there are the aspects he didn’t touch on.

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    Johnny Bye Carter September 4, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    “Commute discrimination”: I admit to being a commute discriminator. All skills being equal I pick the one that lives closest to the job.

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      John Lascurettes September 4, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      For a high-paying job, that might be okay — but the piece was specifically about low-wage jobs. So it’s particularly troubling that those that are already priced out of a city find it even harder to participate in that city at all.

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      bvt_biker September 4, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      Proximity to the job can correlate pretty well with the type of person who prefers to live locally, cheaply, and values their time. These are all qualities that I find very agreeable in a coworker.

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        q September 4, 2018 at 3:26 pm

        But someone who lives further away because they can’t afford the closer-in rents may have all those characteristics also. It could be that the person who lives further out would move closer in if they got the job.

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          Johnny Bye Carter September 4, 2018 at 4:19 pm

          They may have those characteristics, but they get chosen last due to the likelihood of them being late to work due to all the variables along their trip.

          Also, hiring that person means you’re adding to the rush hour congestion and making the city less enjoyable.

          I wouldn’t hire somebody that lived out of state if somebody local had the same skills.

          Too many negatives to hire the person that lives far away.

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            q September 4, 2018 at 5:03 pm

            I was just pointing out that someone who lives further out may have exactly the same values as the person who lives closer, just not the means to live closer.

            You’re saying there are practical reasons for hiring someone who lives closer to their job, which to me is more valid than making assumptions about values. But unfortunately for the person who lives further away because they can’t afford to live closer, they’re still less likely to be hired, which is the message of the article.

            The one thing that is a bit disturbing is your, “…hiring that person (who lives further out) means you’re adding to the rush hour congestion and making the city less enjoyable”. That seems awfully punitive for people living further out. Lots of people living further out may ride the bus or bike, and not everybody can live close in for various reasons. I’d guess you’re less likely to hire somebody with children, for instance.

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            John Lascurettes September 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm

            So lets say you were offering a job downtown, and this potential employee said they were looking to move closer in, but that step one was to find a job closer in — would you still say no? I mean, that’s up to you, but if they were the best candidate, you’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater if you go with another almost as qualified candidate just because they’re nearer.

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              q September 4, 2018 at 8:19 pm

              Exactly. It’s a Catch-22–you can’t move closer until you have a job, but you won’t get a job until you move closer. Add that to the experience Catch-22.

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    PS September 4, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Weird, no link to the KOIN article from yesterday that shows a 20% decrease in scooter ridership from week 3 to week 5? I was wondering why PBOT hadn’t sent out an instagram update since week 3. Is the novelty really fading this quickly?

    https://www.koin.com/news/local/multnomah-county/by-the-numbers-e-scooters-in-portland/1415855608

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      John Liu September 5, 2018 at 6:34 am

      No negativity about escooters here on ScooterPortland.org!

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      Chris I September 5, 2018 at 9:56 am

      Maybe you can just give the pilot a few months for things to settle out? We can expect an initial surge in popularity, followed by a winter lull, and a spring/summer resurgence next year.

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        PS September 5, 2018 at 10:45 am

        Mmm, okay, I bet even the bright minds at PBOT and the band wagon riders here, wouldn’t have estimated a 20% reduction from the 3rd week to the 5th, but whatever, they’ll all be gone in November, because as you note, ridership is going to plummet in the winter, so why have them all over the city.

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          q September 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm

          Are you sure of that? It’s not surprising to me. I think it was expected that lots of people would want to try them as soon as they came out, because they’re novel and fun, without becoming instant regular users. Portland already had the experience of that happening with the orange bikes, and being bikes, those didn’t even have the draw of being a whole new experience.

          Who knows, maybe the surprise wasn’t the drop-off, but rather the immediate popularity the first couple weeks?

          If we were talking about something boring, I’d think differently. If the City came out with a way to pay some type of bill online, I wouldn’t expect a bubble of people wanting to try it out as soon as they could: “I’ve always wanted to try paying my parking tickets online. My nephew tried it and it said it was fantastic! Can’t wait to try it out!”

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      GlowBoy September 5, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      Tourism tends to drop dramatically in late August everywhere, as families get their kids back to school. That may have had something to do with it. Also, didn’t it rain a little? In any event, there are not enough data points to say that enthusiasm for scootering has peaked.

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        PS September 5, 2018 at 6:51 pm

        Ah, at least we’re coming around to the reality that tourism will be a material driver for demand and a little rain will also reduce demand. That foundational assumption that they are replacing car trips is looking a bit less sturdy these days.

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          GlowBoy September 6, 2018 at 2:10 pm

          Not saying tourists make up even the majority of demand, but enough of a share that the seasonal dropoff in tourism might partially explain a recent reduction in usage. And anyway, just because a lot of shared scooters and bikes are ridden by tourists doesn’t mean they aren’t reducing car trips.

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        dwk September 5, 2018 at 9:35 pm

        They replace walking a few blocks…
        Go America!

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    Jim Lee September 4, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Why is appropriating “Dutch cycling culture” not cultural appropriation?

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      John Lascurettes September 4, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      I just hurt my eyeballs rolling them too hard.

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      Middle of the Road Guy September 5, 2018 at 8:50 am

      White Europeans don’t have culture.

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      GlowBoy September 5, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      You really don’t get that?

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      9watts September 5, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      What a fascinating piece that was. Wow. The Czech fellow reminds me of a lot of people (in Germany) I grew up with. The mention of ‘Karel May’ was especially poignant. A bestselling German author who wrote fiction in the late 19th Century featuring Native American characters. Always made me queasy. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_May

      “For the novels set in America, May created the characters of Winnetou, the wise chief of the Apaches and Old Shatterhand, Winnetou’s white blood brother.”

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    Robert Nobles September 4, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Biketown has been down for at least the last two hours as confirmed by my call to support. Been emailing them since 9:30 this morning and they still have not sent out a system wide message to users via the app or email last I checked.
    Late for work and missed dentist appointment.

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      maxD September 4, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      Robert,
      I gave myself 20 minutes to unlock a bike because of how shitty/unreliable the computers have become. After 25 frustrating minutes of trying and failing, I had to sprint back to the office and borrow a bike that thankfully did not get stolen during my meeting. I was only one minute late, but it was an important meeting. I even looked up bike stations on the biketown website to make sure bikes would be available. It showed 8 bikes ready to go. IT DID NOT SHOW that the entire system, City-wide, was not working! WTF biketown??!! There are so mny systems they could have in place for this: 1) notice on the webpage, 2) message send to display on all bike computers, 3) automated text sent to people trying to log in, 4) automated text to all members. I am sure their are more. This is such a failure.

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    B. Carfree September 4, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    I have to wonder how many of the people who claim to be afraid to ride bikes have been unduly influenced by so-called cycling advocates. Folks who claim that we need to build completely separate infrastructure are likely making those who are considering riding bikes look around and believe they can’t safely ride a bike because all, most or some of their routes will put them on regular roads. Worse, we’re now condemning even decent bike lanes (not saying most bike lanes are decent, but many are) as though they are some sort of death traps.

    Cycling requires a handful of easily obtainable skills. Even in the worst conditions, it’s no more dangerous than being in a car, and it is known to add years to lives. Why is this not the primary message of cycling advocates?

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