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The Monday Roundup: Winter biking tips, Merkley’s EV dreams, deadly trucks, Rapha woes, and more

Posted by on December 10th, 2018 at 10:14 am

Welcome to the week! Here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…

Winter biking: Lynda Lopez shares her experience trying to stay joyful while riding in very cold temps. Don’t miss the comments full of great winter riding tips!

Sensible subsidy: The Canadian town of Banff offers its residents a subsidy so they can buy studded bicycle tires and keep riding in winter.

Minneapolis FTW: Our friendly rival city just laid down the gauntlet: Their newly passed comp plan outlaws single-family zoning. Woah.

WashDOT head gets it: Someone needs to get WashDOT’s Roger Millar on a train to Portland ASAP to tell our leaders that making it easier to drive on freeways by expanding them is a waste of money.

I-5 bridge meeting: State lawmakers from both sides of the Columbia river will sit down for talks on how/if to replace the I-5 bridge. Is this is a serious attempt to start talks? Or, as the article reports, just a last-ditch effort to avoid paying a $140 million bill owed to the Feds in planning fees from the CRC debacle?

Merkley’s EV push: U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley isn’t just eyeing a run for president, he’s also keen on phasing out the sale of gas-powered cars.

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F*** these trucks: Jalopnik sounds the alarm about the trend in truck design towards absurdly large front-end grills. Everyone who cares about traffic safety should be alarmed by this.

Meanwhile, in the EU: EU lawmakers have passed new regulations that will make cars safer — not just for people inside but for those outside as well.

Rocky road at Rapha? A UK retail industry publication reports that Rapha — a high-end cycling apparel brand with its North American headquarters in Portland — lost $25 million in sales in the first six months of 2018.

Fareless country: In a bid to reduce congestion and entice commuters out of their cars, Luxembourg wants to make transit free for everyone.

Truth hurts: A stinging satirization of bike un-friendly Los Angeles has been served up by The Onion, who says that city has created lanes where bicycle riders can roll around in agony while recovering from being hit.

A lost voice of cycling: Paul Sherwen, a well-known and respected commentator of the Tour de France and other major cycling races, has died.

Tweet of the Week: Watch to the end…

Thanks to everyone who sent us links!

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

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9watts
Subscriber

ZEV has a nice ring to it, but if we hope to substitute electric for gas powered vehicles we have to face up to the fact that we currently produce most of our electricity from fossil fuels, and are struggling to drive down the share of our electricity so produced without taking transportation into consideration. If we also wish to electrify our transportation system, this will necessitate a substantial expansion of the electricity sector, which will not automatically come from clean renewables, even as we may hope and wish it to be so.

It will be physically impossible to try to maintain the present level of energy consumption by merely shifting to renewables. What we need to do is first scale back our consumption by 80-90% and then switch what is left to renewables, which, let’s not forget, are themselves made of and with fossil fuels every step of the way.

9watts
Subscriber

The article on Roger Millar highlights something else we would do well to pay more attention to:
“About 71 percent of the state’s gas tax revenue is consumed by interest payments to pay off previously completed projects…”

ODOT is following in the footsteps of WAshDOT in this regard.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Thrilled that Minneapolis passed the 2040 Plan. I wasn’t sure whether or when it would finally pass, or in what form, but it’s the law of the land (so to speak) here now. The original proposal was watered down only slightly, still allowing triplexes (as opposed to fourplexes in the original version) on [i]every residential lot in the city[/i]. From what I’m hearing we’re the only city in the country (other than Houston, which has no zoning) that has abolished single-family zoning.

Although that aspect of the plan got the most attention, there are several other aspects of the plan worth mentioning:
– The zoning plan is much simpler than before. Previously lots had both a “base” and an “overlay” zoning code, with dozens of possible combinations, and I personally found it difficult to understand the system. Now there are just 13 zoning codes, all readily understandable to most people with an interest in urban development.
– Most of the residential lots on the city are still limited to 3 units, at least on standard-sized lots. In about half the city that limit applies regardless of lot size, while in the more “core” half of city larger buildings will be allowed on large lots.
– Maybe the more impactful change is that multi-unit buildings will now be allowed along nearly every transit line, with greater density on busier routes and near major transit stations. 7 of the new 13 zoning codes apply to these areas to allow a fine gradient of what’s allowed where.

So let’s make clear, since many people will panic at the headline: the city has NOT abolished single-family housing, by any means. Bulldozers are not going to start leveling whole blocks of SFHs, and multi-unit apartments are still not going to be allowed on most interior blocks away from transit. It’s just that residential blocks can now contain townhouses, duplexes, triplexes and accessory dwellings, where they couldn’t before.

It’s also worth noting the political process. In our 2017 municipal elections we threw out a whole bunch of old-guard city councillors (our city council is much larger than Portland’s, with 13 wards) and elected a slate of new blood. The demographic change to the city council (2 of the new members are transgendered – one male, one female, both black) got the most press, but what a lot of people didn’t notice was that most of the new concillors are strongly pro-urbanist, pro-transit and pro-density.

In other words, democracy worked. We got what we voted for.

It also helped that supporters of these changes actually got somewhat organized into a group – called Neighbors for More Neighbors – and this is a potential lesson for Portland if you really want to defeat the NIMBY minority and strike a blow against exclusionary zoning. Get organized! Although the opponents of the plan had a lot more yard signs (probably because they gave away their signs for free, whereas you had to make a $15 donation to NFNM to get one of their signs), they still lost.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

By the way, for anyone who wants to geek out on the new zoning code, here’s a color coded map of the entire city:
http://www.startribune.com/find-out-how-your-block-could-change-in-minneapolis-2040-plan/489889431/

Matthew in PDX
Guest
Matthew in PDX

My impression is that a substantial number of truck owners rarely use the flat bed of their truck and rarely, if ever, tow anything. Trucks are a popular choice for reasons other than their utility, although many will tell you they need the utility of a truck to carry stuff to their office job and work on their 5,000 sf suburban lot. While the Ford F-150 remains the single most popular motor vehicle on the road, we are going to have a problem. Most F-150 drivers could have their needs satisfied with a Ford Ranger, but their wants are what is driving sales.

In Europe trucks aren’t as popular, not because Europeans don’t desire the bigness, but because the fuel taxes make driving such large, thirsty vehicles prohibitively expensive.

To cut the number of trucks on the road is going to be very difficult. American have resisted increased gasoline taxes, and automobile manufacturers will fight tooth and nail any attempt to regulate the types of vehicles consumers may own and drive.

Adding standards for pedestrian safety may be the best way to reduce the size and number of trucks on the road. That and making sure that motor vehicle owners carry enough liability insurance to adequately compensate any person injured as a result of their negligence. When I lived in Australia, there was a compulsory scheme in each state that provided AUD 20 million in liability coverage for each registered vehicle. The amount was so large because the liable driver/registered owner is responsible for the medical care of those injured (the single payer government medical system does not accept responsibility for car crash victims except as a last resort). I think addressing the liability insurance issue could be a game changer.

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

Impressed!

And I couldn’t agree more that encouraging density along key transit lines is a crucial move for the future. I’ve been keeping a close eye at the MAX orange line in SE, and have cringed far too many times at “misses” in development. Two storage facilities popped up in prime spots (ok, one is a bit close to the stench of the Darigold facility to entice even me), and other absolutely prime spots just seem to be lingering there. SE 17th should be the next town hot spot!!!

Steve Sanow
Guest
Steve Sanow

I once drove across I-80 in Iowa in a snowstorm, having grown up there it was what we did. Front wheel drive and all season tires was all that was required. Along the way, we started noticing that all the vehicles (there were many) that had gone in the ditch or median and couldn’t get back out, or had rolled over, were trucks and SUVs. I have owned several S-10 light trucks and they served every need, including towing, moving house, hauling dirt, economically and efficiently. But I wouldn’t drive them in bad conditions. Cars are safer all-around, something the auto industry specically lobbied to get trucks exempt from.

PDXCyclist
Guest
PDXCyclist

Jonathan–the WashDOT article is great and love the head of their DOT but it’s from July. Not sure if that counts as “news.” I’m guessing you ran into the article on twitter by someone who recently posted it and may have missed the date.

yarp
Guest
yarp

And the ‘tweet of the week’ is video from a trial that happened in Feb of 2017…

yarp
Guest
yarp

The woman also only served one night in jail.

q
Guest
q

Truck design is just sad today. “Mid-size” trucks today are as large as full-size ones of a few years ago. Large ones are caricatures. American manufacturers are destroying what used to make trucks desirable–simple, inexpensive, utilitarian alternatives to poorly designed, expensive cars.

My guess is manufacturers noticed people were buying trucks who didn’t really need trucks, and decided to start “styling” them to appeal to what they thought people wanted. So they’re making them look more “trucklike”, in the process killing what made them appealing to all but overcompensating poseurs who will never haul anything or leave pavement.

I know a lot of contractors and tradespeople, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they all seem to be driving either traditional utility vans, or new, Sprinter-type vans. Those are the vehicles that now have the utilitarian characteristics that trucks are losing.

I heard about a Ford executive bragging a few years ago that Ford truck buyers have the highest incomes of all truck buyers. Then people pointed out that that was because Ford had priced everyone else of their customer base.

It’s almost pathetic to me seeing the bandwagon owners who hop down from trucks now. Even people I know who still have legitimate uses for full-size trucks are becoming embarrassed by them.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Phill Liggett and Paul Sherwen have been the TV voices for the Tour de France for over three decades, starting out at the old Outdoor Life Network, now NBCSN. They were a terrific pair, making the TDF (and bike racing in general) understandable to millions. In part because of that, we now have the Tiur of California at the start of each Grand Tour season. Replacing Paul’s insights (he was a racer, too) to work with Phil will be very hard. It’ll be a different feel in France next summer. Let’s give Paul a bit of love, too. Take a bow, Phil. You’ll be much missed.

David Hampsten
Guest

I remember biking in ND. Snow, ice, slush, biting wind. Horrible. Riding on packed snow at minus 20 makes the same sound as walking on Styrofoam. And walking out the door to a sudden 90 degree drop in temperature sure cleans out the sinuses.

However, as for the woman in Chicago, you do the best you can in the conditions you have. I did in fact bike in temperatures as low as -20 degrees, dressing in 3 layers all over including Gore-Tex to keep the wind out and Thinsulate gloves, with a snowmobile helmet with extra holes for ventilation (I sounded like Darth Vader in it.) I had a wired Cateye cycle computer that was good to zero degrees. 2.5″ tires with sheet-metal screws in the knobs, lower pressure, and the same screws on the bottom of my boots, to deal with ice and packed snow.

Riding in slush during the spring was even worse, as the slush would freeze and jam up the chain, miking my bike an effective 1×1 gear. I still get stomach cramps thinking of those rides of horror, 4 miles between home and work each way with black ice on every corner, during the long dark of winter.

Which is why I was happy to move to nice tropical Portland (and now sultry North Carolina, though ironically we have 6 inches of ice-crusted snow outside right now…)

psyfalcon
Guest
psyfalcon

I want a truck, but they’re not making one I want. I do not need to tow 7000lbs. I need it to fit in my garage, I want to put my motorcycle in it, and my pedal bikes. I’d prefer to keep garden compost out of my hatchback.

I justifications are probably similar to most people buying trucks. I could rent a truck for the 3 times a year I carry compost or want to take my motorcycle out of state, but if I am already owning a car, what does a truck cost me over a car? Maybe $500 – 1000 in gas if I dont drive much. Bought new, they cost more than a small car. It would be convenient to not worry about picking up a rental, and putting the bike on the rack every time. ..

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

92-year-old holocaust survivor killed by driver in Hillsboro. As described in the Hillsboro Tribune:

“Officers from the HPD responded to a crash involving a car and a pedestrian on Northeast Century Boulevard — to the north of Northeast Brighton Street — at 4:57 p.m., said HPD spokesman Eric Bunday.

Wiener, who was 92 years old, was wearing dark clothing as he was struck by a southbound Honda Accord, Bunday said.

“Dad was struck by a car at high velocity and was killed instantly; the medical examiner assured us he felt no pain,” Wiener’s son Ron posted on his father’s Facebook page. “He was heading to the grocery store, was dressed in dark clothes on a dark, rainy night, and crossed in the middle of the street. The driver simply did not see him.”

The 50-year-old driver of the Honda Accord remained at the scene of the crash and cooperated with investigators. He will not face any charges or citations, according to Bunday.”