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The Monday Roundup: Block parties, SUV ban, power of pedaling, and more

Posted by on September 16th, 2019 at 9:54 am

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

But first, a word from our sponsor: Now through October 15th, get 15% off all new bikes and 20% off bags and rain gear at the Community Cycling Center’s end of summer sale!

Racing in Africa: Something special is happening in the formerly war-torn country of Rwanda: Organizers are cultivating a culture around professional cycling and they hope to host the World Championships in 2025.

Block party vibes: I was nearly moved to tears by this amazing coverage of 65 block parties in New York City.

Needs to be said: This piece in The Outline about about America’s dysfunctional transportation culture and how cars and their drivers have “destroyed civilization” is terribly on-point.

Big car ban: In Berlin, politicians want to ban big and fast SUVs following the death of four people who were killed after a man drove his Porsche Macan onto the sidewalk and ran over them.

Enforcement: Maybe I’m just too sensitive, but seems to me if you’re in charge of transportation safety in Portland it’s probably not a great idea to state publicly that there’s “no consequences” for breaking the law while driving.

The ‘War’ is on: Burgeoning safe street activism in New York City has the National Motorists Association sounding alarm bells.

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Effect of protection: After a bikeway in Washington D.C. was updated and physically protected the number of reported blockages by auto users was dramatically reduced to zero.

Micromobility rankings: Honolulu’s preponderance of short trips helped it rank first in a new report from Inrix on micromobility potential. Portland came in 7th.

Seeing the light: Another American journalist has his mind blown after biking in The Netherlands and writes home about it.

Power of pedaling: A new study shows that indoor cycling can have about the same impact as drugs when it comes to decreasing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

AV advice: The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has released their Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism.

Screens kill: If federal regulators care about traffic safety they should preemptively ban this Byton M car and any other vehicle that has a distracting screen that spans the entire dashboard.

Bike activism in the U.K.: Interesting dispatch from the front lines of bike activism in the U.K. in this New Yorker column about a group called Stop Killing Cyclists.

EV taxes: I’m not a big EV fanboy or anything, but it still bothers me that so many states are charging more taxes to EV owners than folks who use gas-guzzlers.

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

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Matthew in PDX
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Matthew in PDX

Chloe Eudaly and Joanne Hardesty are both right. Chloe is right to say that there is little to no traffic enforcement in Portland and Oregon, and Joanne is right to say that racial profiling pervades traffic stops.

I think that this is a really good reason to have speed and red light cameras. I know that cameras can’t test for DUII, but cameras also don’t discriminate between rich and poor, white and non-white.

Given that Oregon bans sobriety checkpoints, unless we can get that ban repealed by the legislature, I think we’re going to be stuck with drunks behind the wheel. Another reason not to venture out after dark.

Doug Hecker
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Doug Hecker

In terms of Chloe’s comments, we truly do need more enforcement. It’s sad that I can’t get a speed camera van to move from the bottom of SE 52nd (near Johnson Creek) to SE Flavel Dr without a bunch of hurdles and steps. What’s the point in the camera vans if they only show up at the same places at random times? I can almost list off 7-8 places they frequent. And while I think people somehow think they are indiscriminate, all photos still get reviewed by someone so it’s not 100% pure, but really, what’s the big deal in moving them around? – From someone who suffers from SE Foster being made “safer”

bikeninja
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bikeninja

I agree that Honolulu has the greatest potential for micromobility trips in the U.S. Partly because of its climate, density and topography put also that it is such low hanging fruit with such an undeveloped non-car infrastructure that is just begging to be updated, without too much effort. Also, as a place that is on the very end of the oil supply chain it will feel the effects of the oncoming end to happy motoring first. I always think about what a true paradise Hawaii would be if they had the foresight to ban private automobiles many years ago like a giant version of Mackinac Island.

PATRICK
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PATRICK

There is a speed camera on Beaverton Hillsdale Highway (SW Portland) that I regularilly drive. I am IMPRESSED on how well the drivers have been educated in driving the speed limit. Previously, this area had 50-60 mph speeds, now it is 40mph OR BELOW! It is well posted, and it has a radar speed indicator for the traffic to see how fast they are going. In this particular case it has been working extremely well.

BikePortland
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BikePortland

I can’t wait until the National Motorists Association starts a future article with the following paragraph:

In our experience, we have never seen the likes of what is going on in New York City with the war on houses. Not only has the city become one giant burglary trap with over 3.5 million housing units that we are not allowed to burglarize, soon the city/state plans to implement charging for real estate in the entire city.

Matt
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Matt

It would have been irresponsible for her *not* to point out that people are constantly violating traffic laws with impunity. The first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem.

Hello, Kitty
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Hello, Kitty

I saw the block party article too, and also thought it was great. I really enjoyed that each neighborhood had its own character, and thought the article was a great way to celebrate that diversity. Street parties are a great way to get to know your neighbors.

Hello, Kitty
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Hello, Kitty

RE Vehicle fees:

>>> Illinois proposed a $1,000 fee on EV owners earlier this year. After an outcry, it was reduced to $250. (Still, that’s $100 more than an owner of a gas-powered car would pay, on average.) <<< [numbers were not provided for other states]

So the EV user would pay $100 more than the gas car driver to register their vehicle. Illinois gas tax is currently $0.38 per gallon, and the federal tax is $0.184 per gallon (so low!) for a combined total of $0.56 per gallon. Therefore, to substantiate charges of unfair treatment, the gas vehicle has to use less than 178 gallons of gas per year, which translates into being driven 5,357 if that vehicle gets 30 mpg. Given that most cars are driven more than this, it seems the EV user is still paying less tax than the gas car driver.

A $1,000 fee (as originally proposed) might smack of unequal treatment, but not $250.

And in Illinois, 41% of the electricity comes from burning coal, so I'm not sure how much better, from an environmental standpoint, an electric car is than a gas one. From a hating cars POV, they seem about equal. Electric cars are heavier, so they do more damage and are more dangerous than gas powered cars.

If it were up to me, EVs would not pay any fees at all, but if if they're going to, the rate in Illinois seems about right.

Pat Franz
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Pat Franz

“no consequences” for breaking the law while driving… seems like “Vision whatever”.

El Biciclero
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El Biciclero

I thought it was kinda funny that ride-share “contractors” were mentioned (twice, I think) as one of the “problems” with NYC traffic. Does the National Motorists Association know that these drivers are, um, motorists? In cars? Where’s the advocacy, man?

Asher Atkinson
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Asher Atkinson

re: Big car ban

Politicians in Berlin calling for a city-centre ban on “tank-like” 4x4s is a good example of populist impulses to just do something in response to a tragedy, although the policies have little or no relationship to circumstances of the tragedy.

In this case, the driver is suspected of having a medical emergency, perhaps an epileptic seizure, and the car driven is almost identical in size, weight and drive train to a current model Subaru Outback. I point this out not because I’m a fan of big fast SUVs, or apathetic to pedestrian deaths. I just want to see social prescriptions, like a ban on a class of vehicle, discussed in the context of the problem they are trying to solve.

X
Guest
X

It seems like Portland was taken unawares by unpermitted on-call ride share vehicles and also by the disposable scooter rash. Why not get out ahead of autonomous vehicles by requiring them to be used in autonomous mode only in prepared guideways on designated streets? A paint stripe in a scannable color or pattern would both guide the vehicle and cue other road users that some vehicles are no-handsing it.

We don’t have to be AV early adopters. Let’s put some effort into frequent, fast and safe mass transit.

Carrie
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Carrie

Dan A
You don’t need to able to put non-car lanes in the neighborhoods to make Honolulu more amenable to walking/biking/etc. The metro core of Honolulu, Ala Moana, & Waikiki are flat and should be very suited to active transportation, but made intimidating by the presence of massive couplets like King & Beretania, or Ala Moana BLVD, or Kalakauau cutting right through the middle the most pedestrian-dense part of Hawaii.

But how do you get there, as a resident, from where you live? I bike commuted somewhat regularly from near the UH to downtown (on King & Beretania & sometimes Ala Moana part of the way, no less) and often walked the last 0.5 miles home. I absolutely agree we could get a significant percentage of rental cars and tourist traffic out of vehicles with better options between downtown/Ala Moana/Waikiki (the walk & bus options on those parts of the island actually are quite good already). However, even riding from the back of Manoa to the UH includes some significant elevation and narrow roads (with no street parking, so there’s not even that space available). Back to my original point — I don’t think the Oahu where most people LIVE is as flat as people would like it to be. And the great weather is actually pretty hot weather for commute cycling.