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The Monday Roundup: Convercycle, anti-speeding tech, a climate warning and more

Posted by on December 17th, 2018 at 7:30 am

Happy Monday everyone. Are you ready for the “atmospheric river” on tap to hit Portland tonight?

If things get crazy outside, at least you’ll have some great stories to read. Here are the most notable items we came across in the past seven days…

A walking tipping point? This NY Times opinion piece about how cities are finally coming to their senses after decades of building only for cars is positively heartwarming.

More highway cops in Oregon: Looks like state lawmakers might reach a big deal to rebuild the depleted Oregon State Police this coming session.

Anti-people planters: No one is taking credit for a mysterious row of empty concrete planters on SW 1st under the Morrison Bridge that appear to be aimed at preventing people from sleeping there.

Getting rid of highway relics: Saying private cars in cities will be the “cigarettes of the 21st century,” NY Mag has some advice for how New York should deal with the aging Brooklyn-Queens Expressway: Demolish it and move on.

Nifty rig: The new “Convercycle” is a bike that converts from standard urban commuter into long-tail cargo bike.


Climate change warning: Outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown tells NPR that the threats from climate change are real and present and that most politicians are completely clueless about it.

Climate emergency: The mayor of London has declared an official emergency to battle climate change and is pressing other government officials for money and attention to deal with the issue.

Speed limiting tech: The EU is considering devices that would set the speed of cars to the posted limit and lobbyists for carmakers are fighting it.

Setback in Seattle: A judge has thrown up yet another roadblock on the path to closing the infamous “Missing Link” segment of the Burke-Gilman Trail, saying a recent study of the project didn’t do enough to analyze economic impacts.

Drinking and homicide: Utah wants to lower the legal BAC threshold to .05 instead of the national level of .08. The state also plans to introduce a new felony of “automobile homicide” if you drive recklessly while drunk.

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

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  • billyjo December 17, 2018 at 7:50 am

    You really want to be compassionate with the homeless, and letting them sleep under a bridge might sound like a good situation, but the whole thing just becomes a huge mess, and the people living there become a security issue for the parking lot. Who wants to park next to a huge homeless camp. Would you lock up your bike there?

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    • Lester Burnham December 17, 2018 at 8:18 am

      The way Portland has handled the whole homeless situation is a huge mess. Hot air from city hall about “affordable housing” blah blah blah. Things have only gotten worse. And you are right, allowing people to sleep and defecate on sidewalks is anything but compassion.

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    • Al December 17, 2018 at 9:04 am

      Anti-homeless “upgrades” aren’t dealing with the problem of homelessness. They are simply pushing the problem into someone else’s back yard while adding to the degrading treatment of those afflicted.

      Unfortunately, the problem can’t be solved by any neighborhood, community, city or even state. It will require a concerted effort from all of these but let’s not waste money on abusive counter productive measures in the meantime.

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      • Homer December 17, 2018 at 4:07 pm

        All you homeless advocates might change your mind once your neighbors are running chop shops (revving engines and spraying foul-smelling paint all night) and junker trucks parking outside your house and the drivers come up knocking on your door to see if you’re home. I wonder if Eudaly thought at all about public safety when she legalized living out of your car in the streets. I know some women who are afraid to go out at night because of these homeless camps. I for one refuse to use any bike paths anymore because of all the camping.

        I have compassion for those sleeping outside and would be happy to pay higher taxes for service to support them, but I am frankly sick of having our public spaces unusable, bike paths and sidewalks impassible and dangerous at night, and a complete lack of enforcement for open air chop shops. I say bring more of these planters – it’s been so nice being able to use the sidewalks again.

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        • Al December 18, 2018 at 8:14 am

          What part of “pushing the problem into someone else’s back yard” didn’t you understand?

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    • matchupancakes December 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      At least we have about a dozen concrete chamberpots now underneath the Morrison Bridge… A bandaid of a “fix” to not having enough housing for everyone and universal access to restrooms and healthcare for all.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy December 17, 2018 at 1:56 pm

        “Self fertilizing planters”

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      • Doug Hecker December 17, 2018 at 10:12 pm

        Sounds like a better option then the Lou’s. I see people in the city blocks pissing everywhere because the Lou’s are a great place to use IV drugs.

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  • Eric Leifsdad December 17, 2018 at 9:00 am

    I have never wanted to shorten the longtail for the sake of ride quality. Fitting on a bus bike rack maybe.

    It’s too bad you have to unload the cargo first, maybe something that converts from a longtail to a tallbike would be able to keep the cargo in place.

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  • 9watts December 17, 2018 at 9:20 am

    “personal cars in cities the cigarettes of the 21st century, offensive to most, beloved by some, and perennially hard to kick.”

    Hear, hear.
    And note that as written this would include EVs: Traffic jams, parking demand, risk to life and limb, to name just the most obvious, are not limited to the gasoline varieties.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy December 17, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      How would be transport good around the city though? I’m legitimately curious to what a good solution would be in that case. It’s not easy to move pallets around.

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      • 9watts December 17, 2018 at 2:03 pm

        Lots to be said about this.

        Pallets were to my knowledge invented to work with fork lifts, pallet jacks, lift gates (hydraulics). Before all of those we had other ways of moving stuff. And we will again.

        Nothing preventing us from using people to move things, and draft animals too.

        Solar charged pallet jack? Lots of possibilities.

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      • Johnny Bye Carter December 17, 2018 at 2:13 pm

        There are plenty of vehicles that aren’t personal cars that can carry goods around a city.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy December 17, 2018 at 3:01 pm

          True, but I have also seen arguments for pedestrian only zones. Does that include or exclude delivery vehicles? Buses?

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          • q December 17, 2018 at 8:14 pm

            Could be any of many possibilities.

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          • X December 18, 2018 at 6:20 am

            Retail >> delivery of course. Portland has a thriving trike delivery service (B-line) even with a somewhat fragmented network of bike routes and motor vehicle hegemony. There are many different ways to accomplish delivery. It might raise costs in the short run but lots of truck drivers would be happy to lose the aggravation of unloading downtown.

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      • Chris I December 17, 2018 at 2:48 pm


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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty December 17, 2018 at 3:34 pm

          Big fleets of horses (the stabling of which would make our parking problems look quaint) would produce piles manure that would be mucking up the streets when it’s wet, and blowing around when it’s dry. Horses can be dangerous as well. There’s a reason why cars, even though dangerous and heavily polluting by today’s standards, were seen as a savior in larger cities.

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          • austin December 17, 2018 at 4:54 pm

            It was a typo, he meant “hoses” – push everyone around with jets of water.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty December 17, 2018 at 5:09 pm

              Like a water propelled hyperloop?

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          • David Hampsten December 17, 2018 at 7:26 pm

            Robo-horses operated by electric monks

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      • I'm as Glenn as a bird now (how'bout you?) December 18, 2018 at 12:27 pm

        Deliveries are a pretty small portion of existing traffic counts, so you use the very same vehicles, duly permitted as delivery vehicles. They have plenty of space to do their job and get there on time, using only existing infrastructure, once you get all or most of the (unpermitted) frivolous single-occupancy private vehicles off the streets.

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    • Doug Hecker December 17, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      What has Portland done about cigarettes? Wonder what would happen if we made a pack $15 and gave 10 cents for each cigarette butt they turned in.

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      • X December 18, 2018 at 6:22 am

        See ‘Plastic Bank’

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  • eawriste December 17, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Thank you for posting the article on the BQE! Polly has mixed feelings about it as well.

    278 reminds me of an equally awful and somewhat redundant road in Pland that will sometimes admit they want gone, but have no ability to do anything about. What would happen if that stretch of the BQE were removed? People would use the Carey tunnel. What if I5 were removed? People would use the 405.

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  • B. Carfree December 17, 2018 at 11:06 am

    While I’m pleased to see that the governor’s budget calls for an expansion of our depleted state police, I’m disappointed that the legislature doesn’t seem inclined to dedicate funding out of the gas tax to state police patrols. This just exacerbates the free ride that motorists get. If we can’t get motorists anywhere near obeying the law on the roads we have, we shouldn’t be giving ODOT billions to build more roads, imo.

    In his last months before being (rightfully) shoved out of office, Governor Kitzhaber proposed returning state trooper funding to the gas tax, but never followed through. We should also fund emergency medical response out of gas tax funds, since such a high percentage of the calls they answer involve motorists. Let’s stop externalizing the actual costs of our societal driving addiction.

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    • 9watts December 17, 2018 at 11:16 am

      What are these gas tax receipts of which you speak?

      Did you read in last week’s Monday Roundup that Washington now blows more than 70% of its gas tax receipts on interest payments? That would be going straight from gas buyers into the pockets of the banks and accomplishing nothing useful for the public. Oregon, as far as I know, is following in Washington’s footsteps, and frittering away the funds so raised on servicing debt.

      With friends like these, who needs enemies?!

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      • Middle of the Road Guy December 17, 2018 at 1:59 pm

        Completely agree. What the hell is happening here?

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    • Johnny Bye Carter December 17, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      “If we can’t get motorists anywhere near obeying the law on the roads we have, we shouldn’t be giving ODOT billions to build more roads, imo.”

      If this were a private company whose facility created 40,000 deaths per year I’d hope that it would be shut down quickly.

      But this is the government and there’s not a lot you can do about it because the laws protect them from their own negligence.

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      • bikeninja December 17, 2018 at 4:17 pm

        Imagine if you built a playground for the neighborhood kids ,but in short order they were misusing the equipment in all possible ways ,causing frequent injuries, mayhem and death to many of the kids in the playground. But instead of some kind of supervision ( enforcement of the rules) you decided to build more playgrounds that were exactly the same and cut back on supervision even more. That is pretty much where we are today with happy motoring.

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        • Doug Hecker December 17, 2018 at 10:21 pm

          And somehow we think that infrastructure is the answer?

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  • B. Carfree December 17, 2018 at 11:26 am

    I remember Governor Moonbeam. He put a bicycle division into CalTrans. He was progressive and, while imperfect, was a leader ahead of his time. Governor Brown, by contrast, is an active enemy of bicycles. He wouldn’t even sign a simple safe passing law. It’s hard to stomach his holier than though commentary on climate change while he has actively caused so much harm in terms of transportation emissions.

    As a young politician, he was great. He didn’t age nearly as well as many of us had hoped. However, one thing he did maintain was an ability to stubbornly ignore criticism, which can be a form of political courage. For all my disagreements with his position on cycling, I do respect him for bravely stating his positions. In many respects, Governor Jerry Brown will be missed.

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  • John Lascurettes December 17, 2018 at 11:49 am

    That convercycle is an interesting concept, but it’s not exactly fender friendly. That’s definitely a kickstarter I will be sitting out but I wish them luck. I love seeing new innovations like this.

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    • dan December 17, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      Yes – I don’t necessarily want one myself, but it’s brilliant.

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  • B. Carfree December 17, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    The judge who blocked the bike path in Seattle because of a possibility that there will be insurance premium increases might want to consider how large those increases will be if we don’t tame the GHG emissions of cars.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy December 18, 2018 at 2:47 am

      Same could be said for what we provide for the homeless.

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    • GNnorth December 19, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      We are fortunate the judge blocked this, again. The first thing to do is stop calling it the “missing link” up here, that’s the local slang for trying to create the narrative and then call out those who do not “believe”. This is basically an age old tactic from the right-wing reminiscent of the first Iraq war back in 1991 and right onto the 2K version as well.

      Am so glad I ride my daily 20+ mile commute to work w/o Seattle transportation planners figuring out ways to screw up my commute, safety is the last thing on their minds when it comes to cycling.

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      • Q December 20, 2018 at 3:02 pm

        Another “avid cyclist” telling us how it is, wonderful..

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  • X December 18, 2018 at 6:46 am

    The Convercycle–hmmm. The design looks interesting, it’s a clever use of the space frame for a cargo holder. I’m still skeptical though. I know somebody who would break that thing three times in a week but he can also weld.

    Often the limitation of a cargo bike is not the maximum weight but the available volume and the maximum dimensions of the cargo. Also it needs a removable floor or a proper bag. Ride half a block and your wine is gonna go right through those paper bags.

    Even when folded the Convercycle wouldn’t fit properly on a bus rack I think? Or it would block the other space.

    If you need a transit-friendly folding bike, Brompton FTW.

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