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The Monday Roundup: Urban trails, SUVs suck, go big or go home, and more

Posted by on October 28th, 2019 at 11:13 am

Welcome to the week. Hope your weekend was everything you wanted it to be.

Now let’s refasten our thinking caps and make this another great week of information and inspiration. Below you’ll find the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…

Let’s copy Knoxville: The dream of off-road riding in Portland is to improve/expand trails in existing parks and preserves and connect them all with paths and trails. Knoxville gives us a template to follow.

Go big or go home: I love the way this CityLab piece urges bicycle advocates to stop being so damn shy and start asking for big, marquee projects that will not only signal a level of political confidence and seriousness that’s sorely lacking now but — if built — would actually move the needle in terms of ridership.

Vulnerable users dying more: NHTSA released 2018 fatality stats and the numbers are not good — unless you’re in a car. The number of people killed while walking and pedaling went up 3.4% and 6.3% respectively. It’s disappointing (and related?) that NHTSA points out that a significant number of those deaths happened in the dark and among people who had been using alcohol.

Weekly SUV bashing: They kill the air and they kill people, which is why Fast Company asks: “Should we ban SUVs?”

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Regulating car abuse works: Oh look, people changed their driving habits after London established new rules and a pricing mechanism on car emissions.

Bikes for all: Great to see another seeing following Portland’s lead with an adaptive bike share program.

NYC signals: The Big Apple is taking the big plunge into something Portland has done for a long time: Use signal timing to control drivers and make cycling more efficient.

Oh, TriMet: Did you hear what happened when TriMet announced nine new fare enforcement officers on Twitter last week?

More rail please: There are rumblings about re-instating Amtrak service to eastern Oregon.

Tweet of the Week: (IMO Burnside is arguably the most important street in Portland. We have a chance to re-imagine it. We should dramatically reduce driving capacity.)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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86 Comments
  • Avatar
    dan October 28, 2019 at 11:31 am

    It is ridiculous to say that not enforcing Tri-Met fares is preferable to enforcement. If we think that free passes should be more available, then let’s make them more available. We don’t argue for less enforcement of unjust laws, we change the laws. Same thing here.

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      Matt October 28, 2019 at 11:54 am

      Who is “we”? I, for one, argue for both not enforcing unjust laws, and repealing said laws.

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      Dan A October 28, 2019 at 12:01 pm

      I support free/subsidized transit and improved service. It’s laughable that Portland will have more transit fare enforcement officers than we have traffic police.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 28, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      Is enforcing rules about paying transit fares “unjust” now?

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        dan October 28, 2019 at 1:01 pm

        That’s actually not my position, I’m just saying that the focus on “enforcement=bad” is misplaced. If the fare requirements are for some reason not appropriate, let’s talk about that, why we think that, who should pay and who should not, etc. No point having rules that we all agree shouldn’t be followed. Personally, given the negative experiences that some people are having on transit, I think that some more visible authority in the form of fare inspectors is likely going to be positive.

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        rachel b October 28, 2019 at 1:04 pm

        Everything’s unjust now.

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          Toby Keith October 28, 2019 at 1:50 pm

          It would be nice to have a usable transit system free of hair cutters, chronic masturbators, and pepper sprayers. But hey enforcement is bad.

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            Matt S. October 28, 2019 at 10:01 pm

            This fare enforcement is really homeless enforcement in disguise. Clackamas County will finally get their way.

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            middle of the road guy October 29, 2019 at 8:41 am

            But what would I do for fun then?

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      one October 28, 2019 at 1:45 pm

      Trimet should be free. Drivers licenses and gas taxes and auto parking should cost more.

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        Matt S. October 28, 2019 at 9:58 pm

        Say we double fees, parking, and taxes, would that be enough to provide current ridership with free transit? Furthermore, when people don’t want to pay $28 a day for parking and stop buying gas—then start to ride Trimet—where will the funding come from? I don’t think this funding model is sustainable

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          middle of the road guy October 29, 2019 at 8:43 am

          hang on, we need to make sure that any additional charges to folks who driver are Progressive. So only the wealthy would pay them – the less fortunate folks would get financial breaks.

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    Jon October 28, 2019 at 11:33 am

    Oregon has great vehicle pollution standards for passenger vehicles within the Portland metro area but sadly there is a giant loophole that that vehicles registered outside the Portland area and Medford DON’T have to be tested for emissions. Many addresses as near as Newberg are exempt from testing. I wish that the Portland area would do what London does and make all the drivers from outside the emissions test area pay a fee if they don’t pass the stringent emission standards. It does not take too many “super emitters” to pollute the air that we all breath.

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      Chris I October 28, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      The challenge we have, compared to London, is that we don’t really have a good bypass option. I fear that trucking companies would sue and win on the interstate commerce clause. There are no viable bypasses if we “emissions toll” I-5 and I-205, to standards that are higher than the Federal standards.

      That said, I would love if we did this.

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    mh October 28, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Does Fast Company have a paywall of some kind? I can’t open that article, or even their home page.

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      John Lascurettes October 30, 2019 at 11:40 am

      I don’t have any troubles loading it, but I have seen some sites get blocked from loading by my browser’s own content and tracking blockers (especially when following a link). If you have those enabled, try disabling them temporarily and see if the page loads.

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    bikeninja October 28, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    A simple way to get SUV’s off the street is to change traffic accident liability laws so that when a pedestrian is hit and injured by an SUV it would be the equivalent of being attacked by someone with a deadly weapon. In addition much higher liability limits would be required to insure an SUV to reflect the greater danger they pose to pedestrians. So to legally operate a Car with a pedestrian safe design it might require $100,000 of liability insurance while to operate an SUV it might require $500,000 of liability insurance and to operate a “lifted” pickup it would require a million dollars of liability insurance. Then let the market take care of things.

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      Familialawer October 29, 2019 at 11:17 am

      Interestingly some countries ( Laos, Cambodia) I’ve traveled to pin liability on the largest vehicle. Their systems aren’t perfect otherwise but I’ve always thought we should include vehicle size in the calculation for liability.

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    Al October 28, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    The link under “Use signal timing to control drivers ” actually leads to the “Advocates for resuming Amtrak service to Eastern Oregon” article.

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    Al October 28, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    OK, now that I ready the article, if I get to La Grand on a train, what am I going to do there without a car?

    The main problem with The Empire Builder train is that Amtrak lost right of way from Montana to the coast. This constantly delays the trains as they have to wait for freight to clear the line. You can’t plan a train trip and be a day or two late. No kidding. Being just hours behind schedule is a GOOD DAY. This needs to change for east-west passenger train service to be viable again.

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      turnips October 28, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Al
      OK, now that I ready the article, if I get to La Grand on a train, what am I going to do there without a car?

      good spot to start a ride through the Wallowas.

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        Al October 28, 2019 at 3:26 pm

        Sure, of course. I’m all for expanded train service.

        However, this alone will just wither because, for example, take the train to Pasco which is currently on the Empire Builder line and a comparable distance to La Grande. A round trip costs $100 and can’t be done in a day due to schedule. This means that you have to stay at least overnight. Comparably, I can drive there, get in a good bike ride and come back same day for about $40. I’ve done rides like this. It’s hard to sit in a car for4 hours after having ridden 80 miles and there’s a point at which it’s not fun anymore but my point is that both economically and practically, a car is still better and even if you have to rent one for the day, about the same cost as the train. You can make all of these plans but they don’t mean anything with gas at $3 a gallon. Changing that ONE factor enables so much and then you’d also have the tax revenue to do it with. The time to have done this was when oil prices were plunging in 2014. I lobbied hard for gas tax increases back then. There was zero interest at all levels of gov to do this. Now, a gas tax would be seen as an increase in people’s cost of living and politicians are even more averse to it. So the way to achieve this is to cut subsidies to oil companies which will pass on the cost and then tax their profits.

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          adventure! October 28, 2019 at 3:56 pm

          Maybe look at all of this from a different angle: It’s not about what a Portlander can do in La Grande sans car, but about what a La Grander(?) can do in Portland sans car.

          Where Amtrak exists in rural areas, like Montana, it’s a lifeline for folks who can’t drive and need to get from Cut Bank to Malta to see family. So a restored Pioneer service to La Grande would not only increase tourism (esp. for a cyclotourist like me that would like an easier way to get toward the Wallowas), but would be useful for the folks who live there and need to get other places. In the article linked, it mentions that there’s only one Greyhound a day out that way, and the nearest airport is in Pendleton, 50 miles away and over a pass. So they are looking for more options.

          As for Amtrak “losing the right of way” in Montana: It was never theirs to begin with. The rail has always been owned by a private company, first Great Northern, then Burlington Northern, and now BNSF. Amtrak has and still has rights over the line, which is enshrined in Amtrak’s creation in 1971. But freight traffic often (and illegally, per the arrangement with Amtrak) puts their trains first. This is what happened a few years back, with the increase of oil traffic due to the Bakken oilfield. That’s slowed down (and BNSF added capacity) so the day delays don’t often happen anymore. Anyways, passenger rail still should be prioritized over freight.

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            John Lascurettes October 30, 2019 at 11:47 am

            Thank you. It’s always good to think about the flip side perspective.

            Also, with regards to Amtrak, one of the best Wikipedia rabbit holes I ever went exploring down started on the Amtrak page. Read the whole thing, it’s a really good read. Then follow some of the links that lead to airports and their subsidies. Much like the oil and car lobby destroyed light rail and street cars, the airline industry and the (really) massive airport subsidies killed long-distance passenger rail in the U.S. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amtrak

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          Chris I October 28, 2019 at 7:50 pm

          We recently took the Empire Builder to Montana and stayed two nights at the Izaak Walton Inn ski resort. It was great, aside from the train being a few hours late going east. Businesses that cater to recreation would pop up along the line, as we see in Montana.

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          turnips October 29, 2019 at 12:17 pm

          I guess if it happens in isolation, the odds of success aren’t great. but it sounds like you’re arguing against expanding rail service as long as the other things that would complement it haven’t happened yet. that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

          the folks who are passionate about train service are advocating for more. good for them. the folks who are passionate about making it less convenient to drive across the state or country on somebody else’s dime are advocating for that. good for them. folks who focus on other important transportation issues are advocating differently. good for them. they’re all important.

          each piece that falls into place makes progress on other fronts easier to accomplish. so yeah, go ahead and work toward higher gas taxes and fewer subsidies for car infrastructure. that would be an easier lift with really good rail service and vice versa.

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        Bjorn October 28, 2019 at 4:18 pm

        Not everyone wants to stop at LaGrande. I’d love to take the train to denver, but currently if it is on time that trip takes over 2 days and involves a transfer that you very well may miss if the first train is behind schedule so it could easily take 3 days to get to denver. A more direct route like the old Pioneer route they are talking about even if it gets a bit behind schedule should still get you there in around a day.

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    bikeninja October 28, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Restoring Amtrak’s pioneer train is a great idea, not only is it a beautiful route but Boise is now a significant enough city that it deserves passenger rail service. As we have seen by the collapse of Thomas Cook Tours, many recent airline bankruptcies, and the penny pinching safety debacle at Boeing, air travel for the masses is out over the Wiley Coyote Cliff and waiting for it’s drop to the canyon floor economically. A sensible country would have a backup plan in place.

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      Dave October 31, 2019 at 10:35 am

      Even if the train wasn’t a more fun, less expensive alternative to air travel in some instances it’s worth subsidizing so that the airlines have some competition, somewhere. We see in their behavior the acts of bullies who know they have leverage over their victims and are enjoying it to the fullest. Amtrak does give them some competition in a few regions.

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    eawriste October 28, 2019 at 2:27 pm
  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson October 28, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    SUVs? oh you mean UAVs…Urban Assault Vehicles! Yes, vehicles should be have registration fees based on weight and emissions. Too bad GM didn’t go bankrupt. They build monsters.
    Amtrak Pioneer had an AM departure from Portland with stops at The Dalles, Pendelton, La Grande, etc.; the return trip was in the PM. Give it a stop at Hood River, maybe even Cascade Locks and you have a great way to access the Gorge for day trips, etc. Bring it back ODOT!!

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      adventure! October 28, 2019 at 9:56 pm

      Thankfully for now, the Columbia Gorge Express offers daily bus service from Gateway to Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks, and Hood River. And the buses accept bikes. So until the Pioneer comes back into service, you have a way!
      https://columbiagorgeexpress.com/

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        turnips October 29, 2019 at 12:22 pm

        limited capacity for bikes, and there can be some complications when it fills up with folks leaving Multnomah Falls, but otherwise it’s great. and cheap.

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          adventure! October 29, 2019 at 1:26 pm

          Agreed that the bike capacity on the Columbia Gorge Express is limited. If Amtrak restored the Pioneer and instated roll-on bike service, we’d probably get 10 bike spots per train.

          But if they did reinstate the Pioneer, we’d be talking one train a day each way, and it might not have the most convenient hours to get back/forth from the Gorge. Like, if it has a similar schedule to the Empire Builder, the train would leave Portland in early evening, and come into Portland in the morning. That wouldn’t be convenient for a day trip with bike to the Gorge.

          So even if there was a train, the Gorge Express bus is still going to have more frequency.

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          Matt S. October 29, 2019 at 1:34 pm

          Or you could completely reduce your green house emissions by riding out there and back; who needs an internal combustion engine that pollutes our air for the sole purpose of recreation

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            adventure! October 29, 2019 at 1:41 pm

            Sole purpose? Well, when the bus simply went to Multnomah Falls, you might be able to say that. Then again, the whole point was to give folks another option than driving to the falls and choking up the roads and parking areas, and being a danger for those of us who do cycle out there. One bus can carry several car loads of folks.

            But now the bus goes to Cascade Locks and Hood River, which are towns where people live. So people do use the bus as a form of…transportation.

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            turnips October 30, 2019 at 6:49 pm

            feeling salty about SUVs?

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              Matt S. October 30, 2019 at 7:24 pm

              No, just trying to highlight how ridiculous we all sound.

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                turnips October 31, 2019 at 10:13 am

                eye of the beholder, I guess.

                anyway, there are some really nice routes to ride out into the Gorge without taking the bus (or driving). some can be a bit hairy in spots depending on the season and day of the week, but mostly they’re real nice.

                as far as eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, well, black bean soup mix is a large part of my diet on tour, so my CH₄ output may be a little higher than normal…

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                GlowBoy October 31, 2019 at 11:30 am

                I don’t think it’s ridiculous to talk about people’s desire for recreation, and heaven forbid we still enjoy the Gorge while burning a little fossil fuel (but far less than when traveling by car), when we’re still at the point that Multnomah Falls’ parking lot is full every weekend (at least it was when I drove by it on Sunday!). Not everyone can bike out to the Gorge. For one thing, I refuse to do it because the route isn’t safe enough.

                A misdirected sense of purity is what’s ridiculous here.

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        turnips October 29, 2019 at 12:37 pm

        Anything smaller and you can’t do anything.

        I just… wow.

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          turnips October 29, 2019 at 12:38 pm

          well that clearly nested wrong.

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    EP October 28, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    That Knoxville article/video is great. I just was imagining something like that in PDX this weekend. I rode to Gateway Green from the 82nd transit center through my neighborhood mix of Hancock park, Dharma rain center trail, bible college clifftop trail, back of Rocky Butte downhill trail, then north on the path through the woods to Prescott and south to GG through Maywood on the 205 trail. So many of those pieces of the puzzle could have fun flow and technical features added. All of Maywood should be a pump track on the hillside… But then I thought of all the tents and campers I’d passed and realized it’d be a harder feat to pull off here.

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      Cyclekrieg October 28, 2019 at 7:32 pm

      I would argue Duluth, MN is better analog than Knoxville in some ways. First, geographically, it has a western hilly area separated from a flatter area to east by a river. Second, the Duluth Forest Preserve, though larger than Forest Park (sorry Marcy, several cities have natural areas larger/wilder than Forest Park), has the primary northern section that is much like Forest Park with the furthest south section resembling River View which allows a better comparison. Third, Duluth has a lot of trails open for mountain biking. 108 miles in the city, including the mileage of lift access bike-only trails at Spirit Mountain. Fourth, for all the “you can’t share trails” naysayers, Duluth has been sharing trails for decades without incident on some pretty flippin’ rugged trails. If one could get the commissioners and the Parks director(s) over to Duluth to show them how its done, they couldn’t build trails fast enough in Portland.

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        Brian October 29, 2019 at 10:29 am

        It might seem petty given all of the things happening in the world these days, but mountain biking in nature is important enough to our family that after living here for 23 years we are considering a move elsewhere (including back to the midwest). Having to drive an hour or more in any direction to access a decent trail is just not ok, especially given the potential places to recreate on a mountain bike right here within the city. At this point, I have lost hope in our decision-makers here in Portland.

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          Cyclekrieg October 29, 2019 at 5:47 pm
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          9watts October 29, 2019 at 10:17 pm

          “Having to drive an hour or more in any direction to access a decent trail is just not ok…”

          Society owes you your paeticular type of recreation, close in – or else….

          Should we, similarly, feel obliged to accommodate skydivers, snorkelers, speed skaters, snowboarders, BASE jumpers…? Where does this end? Why are particular (all?) flavors of recreation seen as rights?

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            Brian October 30, 2019 at 6:15 am

            The same slippery slope argument I have heard many times over, but usually it is in the form of “if we allow mtb’s then what about motorcycles and 4 wheelers?” Base jumping was a nice addition, I have to admit. Access to trails (that can be built and maintained by those who use them) is a reasonable request. I have never used the word “right.” It is a privilege that can be reasonably accommodated given our local, natural resources in Portland.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty October 30, 2019 at 8:58 am

              Probably best considered an “amenity”, and 9watt’s question best phrased as “why prioritize this amenity over others?”

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                Brian October 30, 2019 at 10:02 am

                Fair enough, but feel it has been discussed ad nauseam in these comments throughout the years. I doubt I will have anything new to say that will convince any naysayers at this point about “why mountain biking,” which is why I posted about considering other options.

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                9watts October 30, 2019 at 10:13 am

                I don’t think naysayer captures what I am trying to say.
                I have ridden mountain bikes exclusively since 1986, think they are the greatest two-wheeled invention, even raced them for a spell, love riding them anywhere:pavement, gravel, single track, touring cross country,metc.
                I am not objecting to mountain bikes, or the love of riding them. It is the idea that we/some groups is entitled to have that particular pastime accommodated close in that rankles. Especially when the ‘or if not then I’ll be forced to drive to recreate’ card is played.

                I like to roller blade. Where I live now there is lots of pavement. Growing up I never had a chance to learn to roller blade because I lived not near asphalt. It never occurred to me to think that someone, the state, owed me more asphalt closer to where I lived so that I could roller blade. The good thing about mountain bikes (in contrast to roller blades) is that they work anywhere, on any surface.

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                Brian October 30, 2019 at 11:06 am

                Are tennis players, dog walkers, hikers, soccer players, swimmers, kids using play structures, those who enjoy spreading a blanket for a picnic while looking at ducks, baseball players, outdoor movie-goers all entitled user groups that rankle you as well?

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                9watts October 30, 2019 at 12:24 pm

                Are members of any of those groups playing the ‘if you don’t provide this I’ll have to drive’ card?

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                Brian October 30, 2019 at 2:17 pm

                Every single group, I would safely assume. How many hikers head East and West every single weekend, for example.

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                Matt S. October 30, 2019 at 3:58 pm

                It’s interesting thinking about the square footage required to participate in certain sports and how many people the square footage can serve. For instance, a tennis or basketball court can serve hundreds of people in a single day in just 20000 square feet. Hiking or mountain biking requires dozens of square miles to serve its participants.

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          Matt S. October 30, 2019 at 6:27 am

          But what is an hour away is amazing! Post Canon, Browns Camp, Sandy Ridge, Syncline, Skibowl Bike Park, Timberline to Rhododendron, Black Rock…

          Then you got Bend, Oakridge, Alsea, Ashland, Corvallis

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    David Hampsten October 28, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    Burnside: How about a series of speed pillows high and wide enough that buses, semis, and fire engines can easily pass, but cars and SUVs/UAVs would need to slow or dodge to avoid, as well as red lanes and street markings saying “Bus & Freight Only”?

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      paikiala October 29, 2019 at 8:33 am

      3 car lanes with center reversible for peak hour direction. The remaining space for moving people efficiently. 68 feet curb to curb less 33 feet for 3 truck-capable auto lanes is 35 feet for walking, biking and buses.

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    Asher Atkinson October 28, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Re: Weekly SUV bashing

    And missing weekly is an actual definition of an SUV. I’ve followed the links over the past few weeks and find muddled discussions around improving safety and reducing emissions by banning ‘SUVs’, yet only discussed are various characteristics shared by many cars. Weight, dimensions, hood height, center of gravity, visibility, drive train, horsepower, torque, acceleration, emissions (particulate and greenhouse gas), fuel efficiency, on-board safety, vehicle age, driver demographics, etc. What actual combination of characteristics do the anointed feel should be banned and to what end?

    With a lot of actuary data from insurance companies, detailed accident reports, and a rich dataset of driver profiles and vehicle characteristics, it may be possible to construct a model predicting increased risk of specific classes of cars in a constantly evolving fleet, and it would be worthwhile to discuss the methodology, outcomes, and implications. That would be thought provoking journalism, and not the recent click bait targeted at those with good intentions, yet little interest in what it takes to construct an argument and enact law. Do I want safer, cleaner cars? Absolutely, but vague rants against ‘SUVs’ lead to neither.

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      Matt S. October 28, 2019 at 11:16 pm

      My Subaru Forester—which technically is a crossover SUV—gets better gas mileage than my Toyota Camry, which is a coupe.

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        Chris I October 29, 2019 at 7:58 am

        You can’t compare vehicles of different generations. The new Camry gets 40+mpg. Show me a non-hybrid SUV that does that.

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          Matt S. October 29, 2019 at 8:33 am

          Tesla X gets a MPGe of 93 city.

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            Chris I October 29, 2019 at 9:59 am

            Just stop. Your initial point is clearly wrong. SUVs use more energy because of aerodynamics and drive train inefficiencies.

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              Matt S. October 29, 2019 at 11:08 am

              What’s the alternative? Large vans, a sedan with a larger wheel base, station wagons? Reason we have a Subaru SUV is because we have a kid and two dogs. Anything smaller and you can’t do anything. We had a small Ford Fiesta, but there’s no way we could load up the dogs and everything we need to camp, we would have had to pull a small utility trailer or have a pod on the rack (would have really killed the mpg). There’s a reason SUVs are popular. What’s your stance on minivans?

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                Chris I October 29, 2019 at 12:13 pm

                We have a newer Outback, and I think minivans are great. We aren’t saying that people can’t have these things, but we should acknowledge that our decisions have an impact (fuel economy, pedestrian safety, etc) and pay more to drive. My beef with your initial post is that it wasn’t honest. You can’t compare vehicles from different eras. A 2019 Forester gets 33mpg highway, and a Camry gets 41mpg highway.

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                turnips October 29, 2019 at 12:39 pm

                “Anything smaller and you can’t do anything.”

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      Fred October 29, 2019 at 7:32 am

      This anointed reader would ban all non-commercial motor vehicles with engines that produce over 100 hp. Anything larger is completely unnecessary for non-commercial uses. How ’bout that?

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        Phil October 29, 2019 at 10:40 am

        As someone who drives a 100hp car, I can attest that this is plenty of power to transport 5 people at freeway speeds.

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        Asher Atkinson October 29, 2019 at 9:19 pm

        Good luck wishing for and working toward that. It’s an objective measure, so it’s a start, and more honest than going after ‘SUVs’. I will point out that a simple threshold for a single variable within a complex system won’t ensure any outcome, but your edict can make a few driving a sub 101hp vehicle feel better about their choice.

        Snark aside, I’m all for individuals pursuing their beliefs and if one believes banning >100hp cars (effectively banning all cars on the road today) can result in a better world, then I’m open for convincing. At the same time I’ll try to convince others that there are more practical, effective and defensible ways to achieve the same result without the heavy hand or need for red herrings.

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      middle of the road guy October 29, 2019 at 8:47 am

      Every group needs another group to bash. it’s an important aspect of tribalism.

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      PS October 29, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Comment of the week. Even though the article referenced the correlation between the incidents of pedestrian deaths and the increase in SUV sales, you wouldn’t think this crowd would need to be reminded so thoroughly that correlation is not causation. The actuaries at insurance companies cannot afford to be wrong, at least that wrong about the liability they are signing up for insuring drivers of such “dangerous” vehicles.

      Also, if MPG becomes the standard of which cars deserve to live and deserve to die, Portland would very much struggle, as Subarus are hilariously inefficient unless they have the CVT from just a few years ago.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 29, 2019 at 11:08 am

        I drive a Suburu because it tells the world I am in touch with the NW environmental ethos.

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        Chris I October 29, 2019 at 11:14 am

        Except that, in this case, there is causation here. Frontal area is critically important in pedestrian/vehicle crashes. It’s the difference between bouncing onto the hood/windshield and getting smacked with what is essentially a steel wall.

        https://www.clarkfountain.com/blog/2018/april/u-s-falls-behind-other-nations-in-vehicle-design/

        This may not be the primary reason for the increases in pedestrian fatalities, but it is absolutely a factor. This is basic physics.

        And regarding insurance rates: the issue here is that our society doesn’t properly penalize drivers who kill pedestrians. If drivers paid the full costs of the carnage they unleash on our society, you would see rates that vary more by vehicle type. We know that SUVs are more likely to kill children who run into the street, but good luck getting a judge to rule that the driver’s decision to drive an SUV resulted in the death of your child vs. the maiming if it had been a small sedan. That’s a difference of several million dollars, and a few cases like that would have insurance companies paying attention.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 29, 2019 at 11:28 am

          You are not “more liable” for causing an injury if you drive an SUV. It may be true that the injury you cause is more severe, in which case your insurance payout would be higher. That will drive rates for more dangerous vehicles higher. Insurance isn’t about punishment, but ensuring that injured parties can get compensation.

          Ironically, from a liability standpoint, death is often cheaper than severe injury.

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            Middle of the Road Guy October 29, 2019 at 11:41 am

            Who isn’t up for a good maiming?

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            Chris I October 29, 2019 at 12:19 pm

            These larger vehicles also have much larger blind spots, so, yes, you are more likely to cause injury in the first place, especially with vulnerable road users. The largest ones (and after-market modified ones) have bumpers higher than those of standard vehicles, which compromises the designed crumple zones, leading to more numerous and severe injuries.

            “Over 60% of backover accidents involve a truck or SUV. (KidsAndCars.org, 2018) (Source: https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/)”

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty October 29, 2019 at 12:25 pm

              If a particular vehicle is more likely to lead to crashes, the number of claims will go up. If the severity of injury is greater, the cost of claims will go up. If a particular vehicle attracts more reckless drivers, the number of claims, and perhaps their cost, will go up.

              These factors (which operate independently) will lead to higher insurance rates for certain vehicles. Insurance companies want to maximize their profit. They have a very strong incentive to set rates high enough to cover their expected losses, but not so high that they drive customers away. My guess is that they generally get it right.

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                Chris I October 29, 2019 at 1:53 pm

                The problem is that the primary cost for insurance companies are the costs incurred by the occupants of that vehicle. The insurance company is more likely to have to pay out for injuries to occupants riding in their customer’s vehicle. This is why the “cheapest vehicles to insure” tend to be larger, safer vans and SUVs. Just like vulnerable road users, drivers of small sedans pay dearly for America’s love of large vehicles. The “deadliest vehicle” lists are dominated by smaller cars.

                You and all of the posters above are missing the point here. In a world where vulnerable road users are often faulted for crashes and drivers only have to carry $100,000 liability coverage, we shouldn’t be surprised that rates are lower on larger vehicles. That doesn’t make it just.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 29, 2019 at 3:58 pm

                Insurance companies also pay out to injuries sustained by others (hence the name “liability insurance”). If you back your vehicle into a pedestrian, you pay for their injuries, even if they have their own insurance. You contract with an insurance company to help you cover the required outlay in the event of a bad event.

                Having coverage to protect other people and their property is mandatory; that covering your own property is optional. Insurance isn’t about “justice” (at least not in the punitive sense), but more about making sure people are compensated for injuries they sustain that are the fault of others.

                Is it in fact true that coverage for larger vehicles is cheaper than for smaller vehicles?

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      GlowBoy October 29, 2019 at 6:33 pm

      I agree, it’s hard to “ban” SUVs if you can’t define them. The lines have blurred in recent years, as companies as large as Ford prepare to stop selling “automobiles” entirely, and the crossovers being offered (a definition which commonly includes the Kia Soul and even the Niro, which are arguably still cars despite their shape) become more carlike. The Subaru Impreza and the Subaru CrossTrek are exactly the same vehicle except that the latter’s suspension is raised 3 inches higher, yet the former is classified as a car and the latter as an SUV. This isn’t just a marketing distinction, but also how they are classified by the federal government.

      It’s partly the government’s inability to classify vehicles that has led to the SUV craze in the first place: for many years vehicles classified as “trucks” (including vans and SUVs) had lower emissions, safety and fuel economy standards than “cars” even where the distinction was only semantic. Even today, if you go to fueleconomy.gov and look up vehicles, you will see more data for cars than for SUVs (no cargo space info on the latter, for example) for this reason.

      Personally, I think we need a serious carbon/energy tax (on the order of multiple dollars per gallon) and a weight-based registration fee for passenger vehicles. Put those in place and the market will sort itself out into a safer, more efficient mix of vehicles.

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        Matt S. October 29, 2019 at 6:58 pm

        “… multiple dollars per gallon.” If there’s a three dollar per gallon tax increase, that brings gas to approx $6.50. Remember it’s not just your normal consumers where gas tax will impact. My wife is a nurse who travels from hospital to hospital to treat people with cancer using a blood therapy machine. Raise the cost of fuel and you will raise the cost on people’s cancer treatment. You can extrapolate this idea across a whole host of industries.

        Taxing everyday folk through regulatory action will not be politically expedient.
        How about tax incentives to ride your bike more?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 29, 2019 at 8:27 pm

          Well, yes, sort of. If your wife uses 2 gallons of gas to get to each of per patients (unlikely), that will add $6 to her cost. If she were to pass that along, would anyone even notice compared to the other costs involved?

          You could make a more compelling costs by looking at low-value, long-distance trips where a $3/gal increase could be significant, like getting a pizza delivered from Idaho.

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          GlowBoy October 31, 2019 at 11:26 am

          Actually, a $3 gas tax increase would probably raise gas prices by more like $2 (google “Cost Incidence” or “Tax Incidence” if you do not understand how rising prices depress demand, spreading costs across the both the buyer and the seller) … but notwithstanding this widespread misconception, I’d be still be fine with $6.50 gas. Honestly, that probably doesn’t even capture the external damage (ecosystem damage from extraction, local air pollution, GHG, crash casualties, lifestyle diseases, wars and geopolitical instability) caused by excessive automobile use.

          You can come up with lots of scenarios where expensive fuel would have negative consequences, but if it cost twice as much we would be much more efficient at allocating our use of it. In scenarios like your wife’s it may still make sense for her to keep doing what she does. Or some hospitals/clinics may decide the increased cost of transportation justifies the purchase of a machine so your wife doesn’t have to go there. Or maybe your wife will be get a more efficient car to make these trips.

          The age-old “it’ll destroy the economy” argument made a lot more sense four decades years ago, when energy shocks did indeed have devastating consequences to our and the global economy. By ALL accounts, economists agree our economic health is vastly less dependent on low energy prices than it used to be.

          We can do this. Yes, there will be downsides to expensive energy. There are also downsides to cheap energy, and those increasingly appear to outweigh the former. If we don’t do this, 9watts’ scenario looks increasingly likely. Would you rather we sit around and wait for that to happen?

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      9watts October 29, 2019 at 10:21 pm

      Bashing SUVs is so 2004.
      This hair splitting was fun back then, but now we are on the hook to phase out all cars, all fossil fuel consumption. Let’s cut to the chase.

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    adventure! October 29, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Sole purpose? Well, when the bus simply went to Multnomah Falls, you might be able to say that. Then again, the whole point was to give folks another option than driving to the falls and choking up the roads and parking areas, and being a danger for those of us who do cycle out there. One bus can carry several car loads of folks.

    But now the bus goes to Cascade Locks and Hood River, which are towns where people live. So people do use the bus as a form of…transportation.

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