The Monday Roundup: Cycling paradise in Africa, stick shifts for safety, and more

Posted by on April 1st, 2019 at 12:55 pm


This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Treo Bike Ranch in Eastern Oregon, who reminds you that it’s time to plan your 2019 trip! Let Treo pick you up from Portland and whisk you away to an all-inclusive cycling vacation on quiet backroads.

And with that bit of business out of the way, here are the most notable stories we came across in the past seven days…

Brilliant: A Dutch bike company created a pop-up bike parking area inside of a “car” to make a point about how we use public space.

Not all roses: A NY Times dispatch on how Copenhagen, a city revered for its cycling mode share, is grappling with the challenges of climate change.

Autonomous safety: Volvo’s latest safety gambit is to use in-car cameras to detect driver drunkeness or distraction and then slow the car down and pull over if necessary.

Greenways make you healthy: A study in Vancouver (BC) showed a strong correlation between people who lived near bike-friendly greenway streets and physical activity levels.

Idle hands are the devil’s playthings: Stick shifts encourage less distraction because you don’t have a free hand for your phone, food, or whatever.

Let’s fix ODOT: Here’s a look at the top things DOTs get wrong and what we can do to fix them.

Thanks for reading BikePortland.

Please consider a $10/month subscription or a one-time payment
to help maintain and expand this vital community resource.

African wonderland: A strange set of circumstances have turned the Eritrean city of Asmara into a “cycling paradise”.

EU steps up: The EU has endorsed a plan that would lead to all new cars being outfitted with speed-limiter devices by 2022.

Sub-human: New research shows that about half of people who don’t bike view bicycle riders as “less than fully human” and are more aggressive towards them as a result.

Boo-hoo-hoo: As the screws turn on the most environmentally damaging, inefficient form of transportation, some people are really sad about it.

Black Girls Do Bike: A chapter of this fun-loving group (which also has a Portland chapter) is alive and well in suburban Chicago.

It’s all about parking: This is a good overview of the nasty fight over a protected bike lane project in Seattle.

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

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

48 Comments
  • Avatar
    SilkySlim April 1, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Placing a bet know that a mountain stage in the 2030 Tour de France will be won be an Eritrean. Asmara is at like 7,500′ elevation (that 2k’ feet higher than US training mecca Boulder!).

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    colton April 1, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Of course lost in the “pop-up bike parking area inside of a “car”” story is that sometimes cars do haul 8 people.

    Likewise, my experience with approaching a bike rack with an xtracycle or big dummy locked up is that this pop-up bike parking would accommodate one or maybe two, depending on how the bike(s) are locked up. Maybe this can be improved, but that’s how I see those riders securing their bikes to bike racks.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Avatar
      John Lascurettes April 1, 2019 at 1:20 pm

      Change “sometimes” to “occasionally” or “rarely” and I’d agree with you.

      Recommended Thumb up 16

      • Avatar
        colton April 1, 2019 at 2:07 pm

        Either way works for me

        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sometimes

        sometimes adverb
        some·​times | \ ˈsəm-ˌtīmz also (ˌ)səm-ˈtīmz
        \
        Definition of sometimes

        (Entry 1 of 2)
        : at times : now and then : occasionally

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Avatar
          Aaron April 1, 2019 at 2:26 pm

          Put down the dictionary and step slowly away from it. John was not talking about Webster’s definition of the word so much as the practical reality that the vast majority of the time cars do not carry 8 people. At least not with great enough frequency that it would justify pontificating on that rare possibility. It is far more likely that a parking space-sized bike rack would accommodate 8 people than would a single parking space. Don’t distract from that story by mentioning the rare exception.

          Recommended Thumb up 18

          • Avatar
            colton April 1, 2019 at 2:42 pm

            “the vast majority of the time cars do not carry 8 people”– I never said it was common (that was inferred by John and you)

            I’m only pointing out 2 of the flaws in the premise of the parking argument. (have you noticed any others I didn’t mention?)

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Avatar
              Chris I April 1, 2019 at 2:58 pm

              And sometimes those Xtracycle bikes have 3 people on them (mine often does). We should be talking about averages. The average car carries something like 1.3 people in most metro areas during peak road usage. 8 is an insane outlier; likely less than 1%.

              Recommended Thumb up 8

            • Avatar
              John Lascurettes April 1, 2019 at 4:04 pm

              The vast majority of passenger cars on the road are not capable of legally carrying 8 people. Even most SUVs are limited at 7. More common pragmatic limits are 4, 5, or 6 on passenger vehicles (and sometimes only 2, and less frequently only 1).

              Recommended Thumb up 8

              • Avatar
                Racer X April 1, 2019 at 8:34 pm

                And “better yet? – in the near future – cars will also carry “0” as in Zero people…as in Zero Occupant Vehicle “ZOV”…or 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 passengers.

                Recommended Thumb up 1

              • Avatar
                John Lascurettes April 2, 2019 at 11:07 am

                Yes, as autonomous vehicles circle the block looking for a place to pull over and pick up their Uber customer.

                Recommended Thumb up 3

              • Avatar
                David Hampsten April 2, 2019 at 12:50 pm

                Or sometimes deliver 1.3 packages and sometimes 8 uber electric screwdrivers…

                Recommended Thumb up 2

            • Avatar
              Liz April 1, 2019 at 5:16 pm

              …It sounds like what John is saying to you, is that you pointing out that some cars can hold 8 people, sometimes, is just….entirely irrelevant. It reads like whattaboutism, or at the very least, a non-pertinent distraction away from the headline topic, which is a discussion on the fact that most cities allocate way too much land/parking space to cars.

              Please correct me if I’m wrong, but is there actually a direction in which you’re trying to push the conversation by making that comment? It does not appear so.

              Recommended Thumb up 20

              • Avatar
                colton April 2, 2019 at 10:31 am

                “Please correct me if I’m wrong, but is there actually a direction in which you’re trying to push the conversation by making that comment?”

                Yes, there is.

                Mostly it revolves around the ridiculous over-simplification of the problem.

                We bicyclists only look good when compared to cars. Oh, and we look pretty smug while we do it.

                From a transit user or a walker’s standpoint, the bike parking is just as wasteful as the car parking.

                Recommended Thumb up 3

              • Avatar
                Chris I April 2, 2019 at 10:43 am

                “Just as wasteful”.

                Have you learned nothing from the extensive conversation above?

                Recommended Thumb up 3

              • Avatar
                9watts April 6, 2019 at 9:19 am

                “From a transit user or a walker’s standpoint, the bike parking is just as wasteful as the car parking.”

                That is some curious logic. Have you been to a train station in Europe? Seen how they do bike parking? I’m guessing not.

                Recommended Thumb up 2

              • Avatar
                Liz April 8, 2019 at 10:12 am

                I don’t know Colton, the only over simplifying I see in this thread is what is coming from you. With sincere respect to you, I don’t care about how smug I look or that you think as a cyclist, I only look good when compared to cars. I find that….overly simple.

                First off, I look good at the time because I’m cute. Second off, I “look good” (appear law abiding? nice? safe? what does “look good” even mean to you?) not only when compared to cars, but to many folks driving them, too. The reason for that, if we assume that by “look good” you mean “appears law abiding and safe”, is because I operate my bike safely. If by “look good” you mean “appears nice” or “never gets in a car’s way”, then I’m sure I don’t meet your looking good standards.

                So, if that makes me smug….I’ll take it! Also, my bikes are real cute too.

                Recommended Thumb up 1

              • Avatar
                colton April 8, 2019 at 3:02 pm

                “Have you been to a train station in Europe?” (9watts)

                At least 6 in the last year as I was being conveniently wisked around Spain, Italy and France via mass transit in ways we could never imagine here. I didn’t see any unusual bike stuff at any of the train stations or anywhere else, for that matter, other than a lightly-used bike share system in Rome. Biking in general seemed much less common than here in Oregon. I gather you have plenty of experience throughout Europe, so I’ll defer and assume I didn’t get a proper perspective?

                What I did see in Europe was dedicated right of way and signaling for public transit, dense housing and many walkers. I was quite comfortable letting my kids navigate independently both by public transportation and by foot. It’s always refreshing to go to a place that has great local AND regional mass transit in large as well as moderately-sized cities. The US just fails here.

                I also saw many dedicated pedestrian plazas that the locals would invade after work to meet up with their friends for a drink and dinner before going home to their houses — all on foot.

                As for your comment Liz: I’m sure that you and your bikes are lovely! Besides your ribbing, did you intend to refute that walkers and transit riders see things that cyclist marginalize? That they would utilize, for instance, a parking space in ways other than bike parking? That was the gist of my latest comment and why I don’t think cyclists wear their smugness well by the standards of a walker or a transit rider.

                Perhaps this gives a better visual of how a ped might see things:
                https://www.streetfilms.org/no-room-for-peds-on-nycs-8th-ave-so-they-walk-in-protected-bike-lane/

                Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    John Lascurettes April 1, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Sub-human: New research shows that about half of people who don’t bike view bicycle riders as “less than fully human” and are more aggressive towards them as a result.

    I certainly feel that aggression on a near daily basis.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • Avatar
      Middle of the Road Guy April 1, 2019 at 2:49 pm

      And we had a gentleman last week who dismissed the Humanity of drivers. “othering” goes both ways.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • Avatar
        John Lascurettes April 1, 2019 at 2:55 pm

        Agreed; however, I’ll worry about it most when “othering” drivers by a cyclist starts killing or maiming drivers.

        Recommended Thumb up 25

        • Avatar
          John Lascurettes April 1, 2019 at 3:22 pm

          There’s also far, far fewer adults who ride but have never driven than the other way around — by orders of magnitude.

          Recommended Thumb up 14

          • Avatar
            Middle of the Road Guy April 2, 2019 at 8:19 am

            Now you are engaging in moral relativity.

            Recommended Thumb up 3

            • Avatar
              John Lascurettes April 2, 2019 at 11:10 am

              I sure am. Your point?

              Recommended Thumb up 4

            • Avatar
              9watts April 6, 2019 at 9:22 am

              This endless string of false equivalencies… What do they sum to, MotRG?

              You know full well, or I think you do, that these inversions you are fond of don’t begin to capture the actual dynamics, power asymmetries, not to mention the asymmetric consequences.

              Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Avatar
        Chris I April 1, 2019 at 2:59 pm

        Some very fine people on both sides!

        Recommended Thumb up 13

      • Avatar
        Dave April 2, 2019 at 11:15 am

        As someone who has cycled American roads for nearly fifty years, I call “othering” as they like to say here, not hatred or bigotry but a salubrious, survival-promoting cycling strategy. It should be in the text of a cycling manual–rule 1–American drivers are not to be considered human until proven otherwise. That’s not bigotry, that’s wisdom.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Avatar
        El Biciclero April 2, 2019 at 12:40 pm

        “Othering goes both ways”

        It sure does. Predators and prey both use it to determine appropriate courses of action.

        Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Avatar
    Johnny Bye Carter April 1, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Brilliant: Couldn’t we do that here? What’s the law saying we can’t park a bike rack?

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Avatar
      John Lascurettes April 1, 2019 at 4:01 pm

      I’d suspect the statutes wouldn’t work in favor of this here. Namely, even if you could register plates and tags for an immovable bike corral, you’re still not allowed to legally leave your car in a parked spot beyond the maximum time allowed — even if you keep feeding the meter. Nor are you allowed to store this “vehicle” indefinitely on the street in non-metered zones.

      It’s more of a permitting situation for us. Examples are our actual bike corrals (which go through some civil process) and our pop-up Parking Parks every year (which are permitted for that day).

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Avatar
        Todd Boulanger April 1, 2019 at 8:39 pm

        Perhaps there is a middle ground…as long as you park your well marked bike corral in a non metered zone (like residential areas in SE/NW) and be sure that the corral vehicle(s) have turnover every ~72 hours per code. At worst you will have to move the corral a few 20 FT leaps among a few unmarked curbside “stalls” along with bike turnover in the rack to be supper legal. Best have some detachable dolly wheels on one end.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

      • Avatar
        Todd Boulanger April 1, 2019 at 8:46 pm

        As for the Dutch Bike Parking as a Car Pop up…it was worth it for the advertising bang. (As Union the bike company in NL really needs the boost…it was so out of fashion since the 60s back when I used to travel to the NL frequently I only ever saw their newer bikes when I rented bikes from the railroad company.)

        Perhaps in Portland one should just make a corral into a legally OR plated “trailer” that can park on the street. (Though this might also make it easier to steal the parked bikes.)

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Johnny Bye Carter April 2, 2019 at 9:55 am

        I’m wondering if we might have a similar loophole in the Portland City Code around parking in metered spaced. Most of the code has to do with vehicles. And there are laws allowing storage boxes. So we may need a permit, but it seems that it could be done.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • Avatar
          John Lascurettes April 2, 2019 at 11:16 am

          Pretty much what I said. You’d need a permit to do it, not a plated car stand-in.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Johnny Bye Carter April 1, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Idle hands are the devil’s playthings: Automatic transmissions also contribute greatly to the accordion effect of traffic because instead of slowing slightly by letting off the gas or downshifting you’re instead hitting your brakes and causing many people behind you to do the same.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

    • Avatar
      El Biciclero April 1, 2019 at 5:11 pm

      Also, “idle creep”.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Avatar
    Matthew in PDX April 1, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    I know that I became a much better driver after I got back on my bicycle and started riding a lot. Perhaps the judiciary should start sentencing those aggressive drivers who pass the courts to time on bicycles. Not that I was ever anti-bicycle, but having once I’d been around a lot of cars on a bike, as a driver I have become more aware of everyone and everything around me.

    When I learned to drive, it was considered inferior to obtain your license on an automatic transmission. The jurisdiction where I got my first license treated automatic licenses as legally inferior, and if you did your practical test in an automatic, and passed, you could only drive automatics for the first year, unless you resat the test in a manual. I would happily buy a manual car, if they would sell a non-sports/muscle car model.

    Recommended Thumb up 11

    • Avatar
      Johnny Bye Carter April 2, 2019 at 10:00 am

      “I would happily buy a manual car, if they would sell a non-sports/muscle car model.”

      I would have happily bought a Subaru with the biggest engine, if they didn’t offer it in automatic only. Want a manual transmission in a Subaru? You can’t buy the one with the most power. And in the 90’s they offered their only sports model with a automatic only. So not all car companies are doing it right. I don’t think any BMW should be an automatic. People are lazy and if you want to sell them a huge waste of metal then you have to give them lazy options that they want.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      mh April 2, 2019 at 1:15 pm

      I just bought one, but it’s 10 years old and I still had trouble finding it. Manual transmission and a dashboard that is not a huge navigation screen, both exceedingly rare.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    David Hampsten April 1, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Black Girls Do Bike. It’s nice to see such a positive story from Chicago on this blog.

    Black women bike here in Greensboro NC a lot too. Very common, but mostly commuters and recreational riders rather than roadies. In fact most of our cyclists are black, though most roadies, scooters and mountain bikers on expensive bikes here are white (but by no means all.)

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty April 2, 2019 at 4:11 am

    I agree with the article about stick shifts; if I’m shifting with my right hand, that means I have to hold my phone with my left, which makes it more difficult to use (it’s harder for me to text left-handed), and I have to accelerate more slowly so I have more time between shifts to drink from the beer I hold between my legs. That slower acceleration makes me like totally a safer driver in a standard. Gotta go… the light just turned green.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Avatar
      GlowBoy April 9, 2019 at 11:36 am

      Another benefit of stick shifts, besides keeping your hands busy, is they eliminate unintended-acceleration incidents. When your left foot is anchored to the clutch pedal and you’re choosing your gears with large arm movements, your right foot simply doesn’t get the gas and brake mixed up. And even if you did, your car can’t accelerate out of control if you have the clutch in.

      Full disclosure #1: I have witnessed UA-caused collisions twice, including one that injured me, when the driver of a (rental) Tahoe behind me mashed the gas pedal while I was stopped at a red light.

      Full disclosure #2: I still drive a stick shift. In this day and age that makes me a 1%er, but I do like the higher level of involvement that it demands.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Donald Hathaway April 2, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Middle of the Road Guy
    And we had a gentleman last week who dismissed the Humanity of drivers. “othering” goes both ways.Recommended 6

    oh god, more bothsidesism huh??

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    Eric Porter April 2, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    The car stick shift thing is interesting, and true. Even more involved is riding a motorcycle, where one hand does the clutch, the other does front brake and throttle, and one foot shifts gears while the other controls the rear brake. But auto bikes are creeping in… Motorcyclists are probably some of the more aware people on the roads, for a lot of reasons. Basically another example of why people on two wheels are more aware.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Dardanelles April 2, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Had a guest speaker in a class a few years ago who shared his experience with the Eritrean Cycling team in Isreal, working for recognition and acceptance in their country of refuge. Their facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Public-Figure/Eri-Tel-Cycling-Team-443938672409160/

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar