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The Monday Roundup: Bike lane ROI, SUV insanity, emissions map, and more

Posted by on October 14th, 2019 at 10:45 am

This week’s roundup is sponsored by Portland-based personal injury law firm Forum Law Group.

Here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…

Bike lane ROI: A new study published by BMJ found that spending a paltry $1,300 to add bike lanes to New York City streets has the public health equivalent of one more year of life at full health for every resident. That’s an insanely good ROI!

Latest on CRC 2.0: The Columbian checked in on the state of a new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River and reports that BRT might be part of a grand compromise.

Beyond cars: I’ve been overjoyed lately with how “ban cars” has shifted from activist fringe to mainstream. Case in point: This NY Times piece on the success of the 14th Street bus-only lane says banning private cars in Manhattan is “less inconceivable” these days.

SUV insanity: Germany is leading the way in calling for the end of dangerous, gas-guzzling SUVs.

We should copy this: The City of Amsterdam is using cheap and simple methods like one-ways, narrowing, and barriers to further restrict car use in its city center.

“Controversial”? Really?: Bike Snob offers some excellent perspective on the current state of bicycling in America and how, like the Internet in 1998, it has potential to be so much more.

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Our “Stop Kindermoord” moment: Author Peter Norton takes a dive into a relatively unknown anti-car, traffic-safety movement in America in the 1950s. (Interesting to read this a few days after a 10-year-old boy was hit and killed by a truck driver while biking to school in Vancouver.)

What we see: The Oregonian’s Andrew Theen shared a bunch of interesting and worrisome things he’s come across on his daily bike commute — and the inner conflicts they stir in his mind.

Beyond two wheels: There’s no reason why cycling shouldn’t feel more open and accessible to people with disabilities. Here are some tips on how to do that.

Emissions map: NY Times published a detailed map of car and truck emissions for major American cities. Per person emissions are down 22% in Portland since 1980 and are up by 14% per person in Seattle by comparison.

Tweet of the Week: The BBC took a look at air quality on a typical school drop-off trip:

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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38 Comments
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    9watts October 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

    Per capita emissions declines are OK, but we need to keep in mind that what really matters aren’t ratios (relative metrics) but the absolute reduction in emissions.

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      Jim October 14, 2019 at 11:03 am

      Bingo.

      Another example – even if PBOT’s hugely optimistic mode share splits for 2030 are met, there will be many thousands more motor vehicles on our roads as compared to today.

      Per Capita x quantity of people = impact

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      David Hampsten October 14, 2019 at 11:51 am

      The NY Times emissions map automatically detects the cookies on your computer and zeros in to your local community. Might I assume yours went to Portland, and not to Greensboro NC?

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        9watts October 14, 2019 at 11:55 am

        I think we might be talking about Jonathan’s cookies. I was replying to language in the Monday Roundup: “per capita emissions are down 22% in Portland…”

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          David Hampsten October 14, 2019 at 12:02 pm

          When you brought up the article from the NYT website, where did the map place you? What metro area was immediately called out with figures?

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            9watts October 14, 2019 at 12:10 pm

            I didn’t.
            I read the headline.

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            Pete October 15, 2019 at 4:29 pm

            San Jose, CA down 13% overall, 33% per person since 1990. I don’t buy it…

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        Steve C. October 14, 2019 at 1:18 pm

        They’re probably just detecting the registered location of you IP address. Unless you did some other location specific action on nytimes.com and didn’t clear cookies. They’re not always 100% accurate either, may times my mobile provider will assign me Seattle ip addresses which confuses sites or apps that I don’t share gps location with.

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          Pete October 15, 2019 at 4:31 pm

          Pandora is often dishing me up Subaru commercials because I registered in Portland. ; )

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        Johnny Bye Carter October 16, 2019 at 1:45 pm

        It works by IP address. It went to Portland for me. Then I read your comment so I hopped on my VPN and changed my IP to New York and when I opened the page it went to New York by default. I block nytimes.com cookies, so they’re not using that to figure out where I am.

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      middle of the road guy October 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      Which is why I do not have much confidence we are going to avert severe climate shifts. Our behaviors and consumption patterns will be shifted for us though, thanks to Mother Nature.

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        David Hampsten October 14, 2019 at 12:17 pm

        I rather doubt we’ll do anything of the kind. Logically we should all move from more polluted places to less polluted places, but the vast majority of us do not ever do so, certainly not to Eastern Montana where there are few jobs and fewer protected bike lanes. Show me a place like Delhi or Beijing with deadly air pollution, and I’ll show you a city that is still growing by leaps and bounds. Apparently we are creatures of habit, who believe what we want to believe, even when faced with absolute proof of the opposite. Just look at the BBC video – being inside a car is the worst polluted environment we can be in, since fumes are forced through a grill from the tailpipe of the car in front of the driver, yet most Americans simply won’t believe it.

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      John Lascurettes October 14, 2019 at 1:29 pm

      Wow. Take a gander at Las Vegas. Total emissions up by triple digits, per capita down by single digit. Tragic. In contrast, San Jose is down on both by double digits. Bravos!

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        David Hampsten October 14, 2019 at 2:01 pm

        It’s based on 1990 pollution levels. It says that San Jose was a dirty filthy city in 1990 and it hasn’t gotten any better, whereas Las Vegas was a lot cleaner in 1990 than it is now (and much smaller.) Portland has gotten far more polluted since 1990, but its population has grown even faster than its pollution levels. Ditto with Seattle.

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          John Lascurettes October 14, 2019 at 2:15 pm

          Having gone to school in San Jose in the late 80s/early 90s, much of that pollution is coming from all over the Bay Area (looking at you in particular SF), especially in the summer. The high pressure systems that bring the summer heat would trap that pollution into the Santa Clara valley on three sides — any trip coming back from Santa Cruz or up into the Los Gato hills would reveal the thick summer soup that would be trapped into the valley. It’s part of why I grew to hate California summers. Meanwhile, San Francisco had its smog blown out by the incoming fog/marine layer every afternoon. People mistook that as San Jose being gross and not San Francisco. The whole thing made me very depressed in my early 20s as to how blind people were to how all that driving and pollution was killing us all and I wanted out!

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            Doug October 14, 2019 at 5:34 pm

            RE: Growing up in the South Bay Area
            Can confirm, the brown air could be so thick, you would be forgiven for denying that Mt Hamilton even existed. I used to joke that if a newcomer landed at San Jose International while asleep, the Diablo range would be a complete mystery. After the rare rainfall, the gym teachers would hustle their classes out to the track to do the quarterly mile run “while the air was still clean.”

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            Pete October 15, 2019 at 4:37 pm

            When people marvel at the amazing fiery sunsets here, they think I’m debbie downer for mentioning the PM levels are particularly high that day. I wish I had a dollar for all the vintage muscle cars I spy on “spare the air” days. When summer comes around, California is the last place you’ll find me… my wife is married to her job here though and retirement can’t come soon enough. A lot of us are taking to Zwift and Kickrs simply due to the considerate drivers and brown lung cookies we’ve otherwise grown used to.

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            Johnny Bye Carter October 16, 2019 at 1:50 pm

            I also lived in San Jose growing up and remember that you often couldn’t see the hills that were only 2 miles away.

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      John Lascurettes October 14, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      The Bike Snob piece is excellently penned.

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    9watts October 14, 2019 at 11:46 am

    “How “ban cars” has shifted from activist fringe to mainstream.”

    Let’s see how long it takes for this to become acceptable here in the bikeportland comments. There has (at least in the past) been an outspoken contingent who delight in abusing anyone daring to suggest this.

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    Mick O October 14, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I vastly prefer 1998 Internet and dearly hope that bike lanes never become anything like 2019 Internet.

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    PDXCyclist October 14, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    For CRC/ I-5 bridge, opting for BRT is not ideal because the bus will be back in mixed traffic on both Washington and Oregon sides. With a dedicated rail ROW, it will be much faster and a more appealing mobility option.

    It would be a poor use of planning to make it BRT only.

    At least make it light rail plus BRT on the bridge so CTran and TriMet can both benefit. Then past the bridge, light rail can diverge and buses can go back to mixed lanes or shoulders.

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      David Hampsten October 14, 2019 at 2:05 pm

      Does the author explain why the Washington state legislature is suddenly going to help pay for this project and not continue to make Seattle metro its priority? I didn’t see it.

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        Todd Boulanger October 15, 2019 at 6:24 pm

        As a former Transportation Benefits District commissioner for Vancouver, the bigger threat to local transportation safety, complete streets and facilities maintenance is …no surprise Tim Eyman again…per the November passage of i976 initiative that will roll back all of the local Transportation Benefit District and transit fees tied to MV licensing (except those already bonded by METRO it seems). [This topic has likely gone underreported in Portland’s press.]
        https://ballotpedia.org/Washington_Initiative_976,_Limits_on_Motor_Vehicle_Taxes_and_Fees_Measure_(2019)

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      Douglas K. October 14, 2019 at 9:03 pm

      BRT across the bridge is also a bad idea because it would likely mean extending the Vine south across the bridge to connect to MAX. That means a transfer penalty for Clark County commuters: ride the bus to downtown Vancouver, transfer to the Vine, then transfer again to MAX.

      Far better to extend MAX across the bridge to a transit plaza just south of downtown Vancouver, with a direct connection to all downtown C-Tran buses, including the Vine. It will be far more useful to commuters that way.

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        Todd Boulanger October 15, 2019 at 6:30 pm

        BRT is a great tool when done completely, but CTRAN (with the help of the City of Vancouver) has repeatedly chosen to not to install dedicated lanes for BRT, thus taking the “R” as in rapid out of most of the routes for Fourth Plain and the design Mill Plain routes. In many ways the Fourth Plain Bus [sans Rapid} Transit project is a great improvement over the old heavily used Fourth Plain (“aka Fourth Pain”) Route, but it is still just “Bus Transit” with new high capacity buses and prettier stations.

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    Champs October 14, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Germany can go after the SUV, but if its biggest automaker is greenwashing Dieselgate with electric cars bearing the slogan “dream bigger” then something’s got to give. I don’t think it’s going to be the increasing elderly and obese populations giving up easier trucklike boarding heights, much less cars themselves.

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      middle of the road guy October 14, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      It’s also ironic they have an Autobahn. Higher speeds are not conducive to lower emissions or better mileage.

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        Johnny Bye Carter October 16, 2019 at 1:59 pm

        I give them some credit for driving mostly manual transmission cars, which get better mileage.

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    Jim Lee October 14, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    The Dutch idea of the “knip” that does not stop access by motor vehicles, but only through traffic is most ingenious!

    Where could we use those in PDX?

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      matchupancakes October 14, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      If only there was a network of low-traffic, neighborhood streets in Portland with which the Dutch model could be tried out to keep local access for all modes and simultaneously promote safer conditions for active transportation and all others including children.

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        David Hampsten October 14, 2019 at 8:49 pm

        Actually, there already is. In East Portland there are several “super blocks” that Multnomah County city planners carefully designed (before annexation by the city in the late 80s) to be bike and walk-friendly but a twisted maze of local residential streets that usually lead to a school and/or a park in the center of the super block, with busy arterial roadways along the edge. It was considered “best practice” in urban design back in the 50s and 60s to do so. There’s also a few in the Beaverton area.

        Examples (among many):
        – The super block bounded by 162nd, 174th, Stark, & Division has Lynchview Park and Lynch Elementary at the center.
        – The super block bounded by 148th, 162nd, Stark, & Division has Parklane Park and Oliver Elementary at its center.
        – John Luby Park at the center of the super block bounded by Halsey, I-84, 122nd, & 132nd.

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    EP October 14, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    That Vancouver crash is tragic. Sounds like the boy rode into the path of the pickup, who didn’t have a stop sign. The guy driving the 4×4 Dodge Ram pickup truck was taking his child to school. There’s a lot of truth in that old driver’s ed bit about driving like a kid is going to run out of a driveway into the street, or ride through a stop sign, at any moment, especially in a neighborhood. I worry about the ever-increasing number of ever-larger pickups on the roads we all bike on. Survivability goes way down when you’re hit by that large and high of a vehicle. Drivers, slow down and stay safe.

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      Johnny Bye Carter October 16, 2019 at 2:03 pm

      Neighbors say that speed is a big problem on that road. The police say they don’t think speed was a factor due to stopping distance. With anti-lock brakes we’re getting a lot less skid marks to measure. It’s a really wide intersection so both parties would have to be going through there quickly without stopping to not see each other.

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    Todd Boulanger October 15, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Back to the CRC and the “compromise” proposal to swap out CTRAN BRT for LRT…I wonder how the new FEIS (or DEIS) will rank the current BRT that cannot reach its main downtown station (old 7th Street Transit Mall) because of ice / snow events? The current service to this station is also often blocked by bridge congestion traffic cascading as tailbacks into the City’s core and blocking this station. I assume the new CRC project would mitigate these issues for – at least for the first few years – but it is still more common problem with this mode as deployed in this region vs. LRT with dedicated “lanes”.

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      X October 15, 2019 at 7:48 pm

      We could make quite a list of places where local transit breaks down in winter storms. I think Trimet has made some progress but there’s a long way to go.

      I’ve been wanting to ride the Vine bus but maybe you just saved me some time. A good system implemented with half measures–sad.

      In Portland we have a couple of places where a freeway parallels a major surface street. I-84 / Sandy Boulevard and I-5 South / Barbur Boulevard. Could we ever free Sandy and Barbur from cars, or maybe just have a knip here and there? A BRT station would be a good place to send cars out. The center of the street would be a good place to put in a controversial bike lane, with flyover bridges to the crosstown greenways.

      Barbur is involved with the SW corridor Max project and it’s not likely we’ll get both trains and a kick ass bus system. Guess we’ll have more billion dollar transit throttled by the downtown stop lights and an old lift bridge.

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      X October 15, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      Bike lane ROI: that thing, the QALY, is hard to understand and I’m not sure your sentence cleared it up much. The extra year of life is shared out between all the citizens. So, 2¢ may be great price for a bite of a doughnut but who are you sharing it with?

      It’s a good public health measure but as a way to sell bike infrastructure–I don’t know. How many people want to give me an extra 7 minutes? I’m going to waste it anyway.

      Let’s sell mountain biking within city limits by telling people it will fill hotel rooms resulting in about $17.00 a night, each, in taxes paid by out of state tourists. That they understand.

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