The Monday Roundup: Activism in D.C., memorial signs in L.A., progress in the U.K., and more

Posted by on April 29th, 2019 at 1:28 pm

Welcome to the week. Getting a bit of a late start; but hold on to your hats because we’ve got an exciting week ahead.

But first, here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…

Sponsored by:

Distraction up: Latest results from distracted driving survey conducted by the Institute for Highway Safety is not great.

Just a mix up!: The mayor of Yakima, Washington drove her SUV 30-feet into a Rite-Aid because she claims to have simply mixed up the brake and gas pedals.

Enough is enough: D.C. cycling advocates have moved from grief to action following the death of a well-known activist.

Memorial signs: The city of Los Angeles has a new program that will erect permanent road signs at the location where people riding bicycles were killed. (There was a bill in Oregon for a similar program in 2008 but it failed to gain necessary support.)

Framing matters: New research how people perceive traffic problems and potential solutions from a U.K. sociologist finds that, “Cycling stigma combines with the weakness of anti-car narratives to reinforce controversy obstructing active travel policies.” Yep.

Chalk it up: A federal appeals court ruled that when parking enforcement officers use chalk on peoples’ car tires it’s a violation of the fourth amendment.

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Phoenix likes deadly streets: Cities often deserve criticism for not living up to lofty Vision Zero proclamations. But in Phoenix, elected officials don’t even care enough to make the proclamation in the first place.

Not so clean: A research institute in Munich, Germany has found that the (coal-powered) production of batteries used in electric vehicles creates more CO2 emissions than diesel-engine cars. (UPDATE: A commenter says this study has been debunked.)

It’s the infrastructure, stupid: Another week, another example of “build it and they will come.”

Too much brake: About 1,000 electric Citi Bikes have been pulled off the streets of New York City after reports of front brakes that were poorly adjusted and caused crashes. Some people have lawyered-up to recover damages.

Tweet of the Week: Did you hear what happened on an I-205 overpass?

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

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57 Comments
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    Jim Lee April 29, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Anyone driving a car with auto trans and not braking with the LEFT foot is headed for a crash.

    And Poission distribution rules–out VZ.

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      Johnny Bye Carter April 29, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      While driving a car the left foot should only be used for the clutch pedal.

      I think everybody understands that they won’t actually reach vision-zero, but the goal is to aim for it.

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        jered bogli April 29, 2019 at 3:53 pm

        UNLESS you are driving a rally car, in which case you can use your left foot to brake. ONLY if you are driving a rally car.

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          WestRiver April 29, 2019 at 4:10 pm

          Yes! Unless you’re a race car driver (a good one at that) on a closed course, don’t be left foot breaking. Please.

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      Middle of the Road Guy April 29, 2019 at 1:59 pm

      +1 for the Poisson reference! Still brings back nightmares from grad school statistics.

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      El Biciclero April 29, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      Did you mean “not braking with the RIGHT foot”? I think two-foot automatic driving is how these “oops, mistook the gas for the brake” incidents happen. Only because I’ve made enough “i”/”e” typos to notice it.

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      Q April 29, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      Why do people who don’t know what they’re talking about consistently feel the need to give “advice” to others?

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        q April 29, 2019 at 10:27 pm

        Um, I think you need to learn how to spell “adviece”.

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          Q April 30, 2019 at 8:41 am

          ad hominem attacks regarding spelling or grammar are indicative of a lack of anything useful to add to the conversation. Just as bad as handing out wrong advice.

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            q April 30, 2019 at 10:05 am

            You didn’t realize I was supporting your comment by giving advice that was obviously ludicrous (I thought) to show how correct your comment was?

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    Johnny Bye Carter April 29, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Just a mix up!: “No citations will be issued because it happened on private property and it is a civil matter, Janis said.”

    Citations can be issued here. The parking lot was likely open to the public, which means most traffic laws can be enforced. Even the basic Due Care laws probably apply here. The damage to the building itself will be a civil matter. Failure to control your vehicle while causing property damage seems easy to cite for.

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      Chris I April 30, 2019 at 10:57 am

      How is this not careless driving? Why does “careless driving” even exist if you can’t charge someone for HITTING A BUILDING WITH THEIR CAR?

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    Johnny Bye Carter April 29, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Chalk it up: I see WAY more (parking) tickets in her future.

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    Johnny Bye Carter April 29, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Too much brake: Many people don’t realize how well disc brakes work and grab them hard out of habit only to end up over the handlebars.

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    bikeninja April 29, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Looks like the German study proves what i have long suspected, that electric motorcars when all the energy inputs are considered are no better for the environment than old fashioned petro burners. Sorry EV Fans, if we really want to save the earth, old fashioned pedal bikes are the answer.

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      Middle of the Road Guy April 29, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      Again, we are in agreement!

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      Al April 29, 2019 at 3:01 pm

      German study on electric vehicles assumes a combustion engine vehicle lifetime from several decades ago which is such a large error that I question the motives for this “study”.

      “Given a lifetime of 10 years and an annual travel distance of 15,000 kilometres, this translates into 73 to 98 grams of CO2 per kilometre, scientists Christoph Buchal, Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn noted in their study.”

      There are now enough high volume EV models out to show that they last well in excess of 10 years and 100,000 miles. In fact, even modern combustion engine cars have become reliable enough to exceed these numbers by a wide margin. This ONE assumption matters a lot because for an EV, the energy inputs are front loaded into the production of the vehicle.

      It is true that the source of the electrons you put in your EV matter a lot in terms of your vehicle’s carbon footprint. Note how quickly Norway, with primarily a hydro power source, has adopted EV’s. Every EV there is a car taken off the roads as far as carbon output is concerned. Oregon is a lot more like Norway than Germany.

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        soren April 29, 2019 at 3:29 pm

        “Oregon is a lot more like Norway than Germany.”

        Oregon: ~32% of electricity consumption from coal.
        Germany: ~35% of electricity consumption from coal
        Norway: ~0% of electricity consumption from coal

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          Albert April 29, 2019 at 4:32 pm

          If you’re a PGE customer, it’s ~21% coal now and supposedly they’ll stop using coal after 2020. At least their main coal plant is being shutdown. You can also pay a little more and all your power will be generated by renewables.

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          Al April 29, 2019 at 10:18 pm

          We’ve had this discussion before. It depends on whether you look at power production or consumption.

          PGE will end coal production at Boardman, the sole coal fired plant in Oregon within the next couple of years. Pacificorp has some coal capacity OUTSIDE of Oregon that it uses to serve Oregon customers. PGE is the dominant provider of energy. Oregon sourced energy is primarily hydro. Unlike Germany, Oregon not only does not have ANY coal mines but it has no coal reserves or past history of coal mining. Do you know of any coal miners in Oregon?

          Personally, I’m on PGE’s Green Source plan ensuring that only soot free electrons go in my EV’s battery.

          I understand why bike people would have antipathy towards electric cars, but as much as I love biking, you’re not going to convert America into Copenhagen by disparaging EV’s.

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            soren April 30, 2019 at 9:11 am

            I don’t have antipathy to EVs. In fact, I have a 2012 Leaf parked outside of my home.

            If we were serious about EVs as a mitigation method we would ban sale of ICE vehicles, implement a rapid phase out of all existing ICE vehicles, and dedicate enormous resources to rapid decarbonization of energy. None of those things is happening.

            IMO, magical thinking surrounding EV adoption is being used to avoid addressing the systemic changes needed to *BEGIN* to address the ongoing climate crisis.

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              Dead Salmon May 3, 2019 at 9:48 pm

              The US Senate voted on the Green New Deal. Not one Senator voted for it, not even the sponsors. They know they’d be tarred and feathered if they told people to give up their ICEs.

              EVs can’t replace ICEs yet. Range is too limited. Electric grid infrastructure does not exist to move that many electrons. In a small European nation, perhaps, but not here.

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        Johnny Bye Carter April 29, 2019 at 7:12 pm

        The last 2 cars I owned had well over 200,000 miles on them.

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          Dead Salmon May 3, 2019 at 10:01 pm

          I saw a very nice looking green Honda CRV for sale a few days ago for $1,900. I was interested until I saw that it had 308,000 miles on it! Said it ran good! 🙂 My Civic has over 250K, so I’m looking for a replacement. Can’t be an EV – have to drive cross country occasionally, and most of that not on freeways.

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      soren April 29, 2019 at 3:39 pm

      “old fashioned pedal bikes are the answer”

      even if portland hit 25% cycling mode share this would, at best, result in single digit declines in its green house gas pollution*. the willingness to believe that one small change is “the answer” to a systemic catastrophe is a form of denial.

      * transportation may represent ~40% of GHG emissions but a large fraction of this comes from aviation and trucking

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        bikeninja April 29, 2019 at 4:55 pm

        You have misread me, I just mean pedal bikes are the answer to the question of bikes vs EV Cars. I in no way believe that along would solve our problems. Many, Many Many more huge changes are needed to save our future on the planet.
        If I were the King of the World I would do the following.
        1) cease production of all fossil fuel cars immediately, but provide government support to manufacture parts to keep existing vehicles running for 5 more years.
        2) phase out commercial aviation in 3 years. Air travel is only possible because of the cheap dense energy provided by fossil fuels, so it is ultimately toast, phase it out now and avoid the collapse later
        3) Phase out capitalism over the next 5 years. Our current system of money, interest, debt etc is only possible with growth and we much achieve a steady state of resource use quickly and then decrease it. Part of this will require a debt jubilee as most debts become unpayable as growth stops
        4) Triage and shrink suburbia as it will no longer be serviceable without cars, start an ongoing project to return this land to farming.
        5) redirect all the energy saved from the above to solar, and wind generation plus build out an electrified rail system to every nook and cranny of the country.

        Pedal Bikes are the easy part.

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          soren April 30, 2019 at 8:50 am

          Thanks for the clarification. I don’t think we have time to replace capitalism — it must be co-opted if we are going to implement the unprecedented changes needed in the next 20 years or so.

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    igor April 29, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    The “Build it and they will come” link wasn’t working for me. This one did:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2019/apr/26/if-you-build-them-they-will-come-record-year-for-cycle-counters

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      soren April 29, 2019 at 3:53 pm

      The Jalopnik piece does not address the IFO study; rather, it addresses a very misleading Wall Street Journal piece that extrapolated from a coal-dependent energy mix to all EVs.

      The Union of Conserved Scientists report you cite is actually consistent with the IFO study in that Electric Vehicles have poor mpge in regions where coal is major component of the electricity mix (as it is in Oregon).

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        was carless April 30, 2019 at 12:29 pm

        Your energy generation mix in your region used to charge your EV has a huge part to play in the lifecycle CO2 impact of your vehicle. Much more so than the manufacturing energy that goes into producing the vehicle, which are estimated to be around 1.3-2 times those of ICEV production(source: page 25, 38 of https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/electric-vehicles-from-life-cycle). For a whole lifecycle assessment, that may mean a 50% lower CO2 footprint than an ICE vehicle.

        Look at page 18 here: https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf

        This website can give you a good estimation for EV charging comparison:
        https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/ev-emissions-tool

        For instance, in Portland I get this for my car:
        102 GRAMS OF CO2e PER MILE
        A 2015 Nissan LEAF (24 kWh) charged in 97222 produces about as much global warming pollution as a gasoline vehicle getting 107 miles per gallon.

        A gas car would get an equivalent of 382 grams CO2/mile @29 mpg

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          soren April 30, 2019 at 2:07 pm

          The union for concerned scientists calculator does not use portland numbers it uses an estimate based on half a dozen states. See map here: https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/11/Cleaner-Cars-from-Cradle-to-Grave-full-report.pdf

          In fact, large swathes of Portland have some of the highest coal usage in the nation — ~65% of the power mix. Charging and using electric car in these areas would be akin to driving a small SUV.

          https://twitter.com/thehill/status/1123319863441752064

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            Jon April 30, 2019 at 7:45 pm

            Did you read the report you linked? The first page says: “From cradle to grave, BEVs are cleaner. On average, BEVs representative of those sold today produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, even when the higher emissions associated with BEV manufacturing are taken into consideration. Based on modeling of the two most popular BEVs available today and the regions where they are currently being sold, excess manufacturing emissions are offset within 6 to 16 months of average driving.”

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              soren April 30, 2019 at 8:44 pm

              While you were pulling out that quote did you glance at the map in the report that showed low mpge in areas where much of the mix is coal (e.g. like Portland)?

              FWIW, I charge my EV with RECs which mitigates some of Portland’s awful energy mix.

              “On average”

              Where have I even hinted that I disagree with this?

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            Al April 30, 2019 at 8:56 pm

            soren, if you “don’t have antipathy to EVs” and want, “to address the ongoing climate crisis” then what are you doing telling people people that buying an EV, “would be akin to driving a small SUV.”? Especially since that isn’t even true!!

            There’s being realistic and then there’s being realistic to the point of being defeatist and then there’s what you are doing. You’re scoring on your own goal!

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              soren May 1, 2019 at 10:23 am

              then what are you doing telling people people that buying an EV, “would be akin to driving a small SUV.

              It’s ironic that you claim that I’m lying when you concoct a quote and attribute it to me. This is what I actually wrote:

              “In fact, large swathes of Portland have some of the highest coal usage in the nation — ~65% of the power mix. Charging and using electric car in these areas would be akin to driving a small SUV.”

              I linked to evidence to back up this claim elsewhere but I’ll spell it out in detail:

              The UCSUSA life cycle analysis shows that the SPNO, RMPA, SRMW regions all have coal use that is substantially lower than that of large swathes of Portland [#@$]. You can click on the EPA power profiler [#] and Pacificorps electricity mix [$] to confirm this. Figure ES-1 in the UCSUSA report shows that the MPGe of an EV in these regions would be ~35 mpg (I believe they used a leaf in their estimate) [#]. Many small ICE and hybrid SUVs now get 33-39 mpg.

              Citations:

              # http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/11/Cleaner-Cars-from-Cradle-to-Grave-full-report.pdf (Figure ES-1)

              @ http://www.epa.gov/energy/power-profiler (click on SPNO, RMPA, SRMW regions)

              $ http://www.oregon.gov/energy/energy-oregon/pages/electricity-mix-in-oregon.aspx (Click on pacificorp power mix and on power mix for purchased electricity)

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                Jon May 1, 2019 at 2:15 pm

                All the Portland zip codes I used including ones in Pacific Power’s region in north Portland show coal as less than 25% and renewable sources as more than 50%. Which specific zip codes show the high coal sourced electricity that you cite in the EPA power profiler?

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                soren May 1, 2019 at 4:15 pm

                The UCSUSA web tool is based on the mix for the entire multi-state NWPP “eGRID” region. It does not reflect the power mix in individual regions or states.

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              soren May 1, 2019 at 10:37 am

              “to address the ongoing climate crisis”

              to do this we have to stop lying to ourselves about our green house gas emissions.

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              soren May 1, 2019 at 12:54 pm

              “There’s being realistic and then there’s being realistic to the point of being defeatist and then there’s what you are doing. You’re scoring on your own goal!”

              As a long-time EV owner I’ve come to to believe that EV infrastructure is joke, that EVs are largely restricted to wealthy folk, and that little effort has been made to decarbonize the fuel that EVs run on in OR. IMO, what’s defeatist is believing (in the absence of evidence) that the status quo is a sustainable.

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                Al May 1, 2019 at 2:04 pm

                Not only are EV’s much cleaner than combustion engine cars but they will continue to improve. The EV you buy today will be much much cleaner in 10 years time AND it will last longer which is very significant because it not only reduces the environmental burden of making a replacement car but also makes the vehicle accessible for lower income folks to own down the road.

                Of course, more progress needs to be made and we should be pushing for more progress at a faster pace all the time. It literally can’t come soon enough because it’s already too late to avoid negative effects of climate change. However, we still need to recognize just how much the situation has changed in the last decade alone. For example:
                https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2019-04-29/report-us-renewable-energy-production-set-to-outpace-coal-in-april

                I hope that you put as much effort into dealing with the problem as you do dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on what other people who share your goals write and say.

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    X April 29, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Counters and bike infrastructure: Little bits of bike lane don’t move the needle. Long and _continuous_, reasonably safe bike routes between places people live and places they need to go, that’s what makes the numbers mount up (and why are DOTs unable to find and maintain reliable bike counters??).

    Is it just me, or the bike route to the Portland airport poorly signed and sketchy? Maybe they’ve fixed it since I tried it.

    Good disk brakes are much easier to control than rim brakes. They are strong, yes, but respond in a linear way. They’re reliable in all weathers and require little maintenance. E-bike throttles, on the other hand, are kind of a mess but I have less experience with those.

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      was carless April 30, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      There are also enclosed drum and roller brakes for bicycles that are weather-resistant. Shimano and Sturmey Archer make a large number of them.

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        X May 1, 2019 at 11:42 am

        A Shimano roller camming _drive_ hub that I had failed disastrously, the hub shell cracked. That would be really scary if it happened with a brake. I was disappointed by the only drum brake I’ve ever used, but it wasn’t either of those two brands. I wouldn’t use a drum brake on a front wheel in any case.

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          GlowBoy May 2, 2019 at 10:40 am

          I had a 20″ wheelset with Sturmey drum brakes (front dynamo, rear cassette hub) built up a few years ago for my folding bike. They work great. I’ve always been underwhelmed by the Shimano roller brakes, in some cases finding them to be dangerously weak. The Sturmeys aren’t as powerful as V or disc brakes, but they’re in the ballpark. They stop fast, yet are oddly difficult to lock up. ONLY real practical downside, besides limited availability and the need to spend $ to build them up in a custom wheelset, is removing and installing drum-brake wheels is quite a bit more of a hassle.

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    Jon April 29, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Here is a pro electric site that points out a few flaws:

    https://electrek.co/2019/04/22/study-electric-cars-dirtier-diesel-debunked/

    “They are also making many other mistakes, like using the flawed NEDC driving cycle, which is being phased out. They assume unrealistically optimistic numbers for diesel emissions, and unrealistically pessimistic numbers for electricity emissions.

    One of the biggest mistakes they are making is that they are comparing the full production and lifecycle of an electric vehicle, including the emission from the electricity uses, against the production and lifecycle of a diesel car without accounting for all the energy used to produce the diesel and supply it to the cars.”

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    Jim Lee April 29, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Using one limb to do two different things greatly increases the chances of doing one thing when intending to do the other. You guys have matters exactly wrong. Odds are when you get to my age you’ll regularly be driving into garage doors and store fronts.

    The reason high performance drivers brake with the left foot is simple–it greatly increases control of the vehicle. Even ordinary drivers can benefit from learning how to do it, starting from rest on a hill, for example: easing on the gas while easing off the brake means you never will “front-end” the vehicle behind.

    With a manual transmission one can have the same effect by using “heel-and-toe:” throttle and brake operated simultaneously with the right foot, clutch with the left; useful for downshifting while staying on the brakes. This one takes extensive practice.

    I think why so many are misinformed about left-foot braking is that carefully modulating brakes is a surprisingly sensitive learned behavior. It takes a while to develop the touch with either foot, right or left. Just like learning to relax one’s legs COMPLETELY on the upstroke of a fixie, and losing the feeling of going over the bars.

    Or learning to twitch the bike upright coming out of turn four at Alpenrose.

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      BikeSlobPDX April 30, 2019 at 11:43 am

      Jim Lee — “Using one limb to do two different things greatly increases the chances of doing one thing when intending to do the other. You guys have matters exactly wrong. Odds are when you get to my age you’ll regularly be driving into garage doors and store fronts.”

      I’ve been driving for over forty years, and only recently switched to an automatic. In all that time, I never mistook the gas for the brake. Pretty sure switching feet now would make a greater risk of stomping with my right foot when I wanted to stop in a hurry.

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        GlowBoy May 2, 2019 at 10:44 am

        The vast majority of unintended acceleration cases (including the one I witnessed as a bystander, although not the one in which I was injured) happen within two minutes of the driver getting behind the wheel. The driver has just sat down and isn’t settled into position, and in every instance swears after the fact that they were pressing the brake pedal as hard as they could, yet the car accelerated out of control.

        I suspect that two-footed driving might actually reduce these incidents by helping drivers get better positioned, but I certainly can’t endorse the use of the left foot on the brake pedal. Ever.

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    X April 29, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Jim Lee:
    “. . .Even ordinary drivers can benefit from. . .easing on the gas while easing off the brake. . .”

    I’ve mostly failed at religion but I did pray a little when I saw left-foot braker in the fast lane with the brake lights flashing on at random whilst doing the usual 5 to 7 mph over the limit.

    That convinced me to drive the speed limit for a while.

    Could we switch and talk about whether handbrakes should be set up with the right lever controlling the front brake? Maybe that’s the problem with the e-bikes.

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    Eric April 30, 2019 at 9:00 am

    I’m curious about the LA law that requires signs for locations where there were fatal collisions with bicyclists.. is it more important to make drivers aware of the danger, or would these signs have an adverse effect in making cycling seem more dangerous and thus discourage people from biking?

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    Matthew in PDX April 30, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    “Chalk it up” – I think the obvious response to the Federal Court’s ruling on the long standing practice of chalking car tires is to eliminate timed, free parking. In places like Portland, it makes absolutely no sense to allow free parking in areas where it is sufficiently scarce to warrant sending enforcement officers. All those spaces should be paid, the officer would immediately be able to tell, without touching the vehicle, if the driver had paid (ticket in the curbside window) or not, and if not, issue a citation.

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