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The Monday Roundup: Breaking Away remake, that helmet story, curb zones, and more

Posted by on November 12th, 2019 at 9:47 am


This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Endurance PDX, a cycling studio and physical therapy provider conveniently located off North Williams Avenue.

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

This week’s sponsor.

‘Breaking Away’ remake?: The Indiana University newspaper says a group of students want to remake Breaking Away, the classic movie based on the Little 500 cycling race.

The helmet fiasco: What happens when concern-trolling, paternalistic, out-of-touch bureaucrats attempt to address dangerous roads that are killing a growing number of bicycle users? They propose a federal mandatory helmet law. The idea is so bad that the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has already issued a statement urging it to be taken off the table.

More federal shenanigans: If it makes you feel any better about how America’s federal agencies don’t give local governments enough authority over their own roads, the problem appears to be just as bad in Canada.

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Party culture and its discontents: An outdoor industry news outlet ponders the impact and root causes of ageism when it comes to the work culture and marketing of outdoor sports.

Your bicycle’s journey: The BBC put together a fun look at the history of bicycle production and how modern global supply chains take bicycles from factory to customer.

Mobility justice: In light of Commissioner Eudaly’s focus on racial disparities in the Rose Lane Project, read more about the national movement to put “mobility justice” at the center of transportation reform.

Sending help: Since it doesn’t seem like American officials have been successful implementing lessons learned on study trips abroad, a delegation from The Netherlands is in California this week to help hasten bikeability.

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Better curb zones: Columbus has become the second U.S. city to start a pilot using Curbflow, a technology service provider that optimizes curb zones to make them safer and more efficient. (Portland officials have met with company reps and are considering the same move.)

The wonder drug: We all know cycling does wonder for physical and mental health — that’s why medical doctors in some parts of the U.K. are starting to prescribe it to people with long-term illnesses.

Blind spot boulder: An innocent rock in an Omaha parking lot has become repeatedly victimized by reckless people unable to safely operate their large vehicles.

Uber sucks: Not sure what bothers me more: The fact that a private company’s untested and unregulated new product led to the death of an innocent road user, or the fact that most major media outlets referred to the victim as a “jaywalker”.

American in Copenhagen: Always fun to read how U.S. reporters are impacted after visiting one of the most bike-oriented cities in the world.

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

FYI, blind spot boulder link goes to: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/11/05/surprise-federal-panel-seeks-mandatory-helmet-laws/

Thank you again for the delightful writing, as always.

Josh
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Josh

Thanks for the round-up, as always. FYI the “blind spot boulder” link currently points to the helmet law story.

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

My favorite tweet last week was John Greenfield’s (@Greenfieldjohn) calling Uber/Lyft *private chauffeur* companies.

They aren’t “ride sharing” companies, except in rare cases.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

My favorite article on Uber this week:

https://www.businessinsider.com/uber-needs-buy-merge-lyft-survive-make-profit-2019-11

Hey, they’ll be fine! They just need to have a complete monopoly in their marketplace!

JEFFREY A BERNARDS
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JEFFREY A BERNARDS

One of the many transportation friendly options here in Slovenia is an app called Prevoz, it’s a people to people ride share, no money given to an uber or lyft company. It’s an actual ride share with someone who has room in their car going where you want to go anyway. It’s not someone driving around the block waiting to be called. I’ve used it to take my bike to the beach, did some biking and camping for a few days, then got a ride back with my bike. I still think if there’s public transportation that’s what you should ultimately support. I’ve put my bike on the buses & trains here too. Living the car-free, bike friendly dream in Slovenia.

Glenn II
Guest
Glenn II

I like good old “taxi.” One of those words like “coffee” that works almost worldwide:

https://www.indifferentlanguages.com/words/taxi

Alex Reedin
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Alex Reedin

Re: boulder story – https://jalopnik.com/evil-boulder-menace-somehow-manages-to-take-out-a-fistf-1839642818?rev=1572988470711

It’s interesting (though not surprising) that Jalopnik takes the tack of blaming the drivers for not paying attention. An alternative interpretation is that at least a sizeable percentage of adult humans (I would say it’s all adult humans) are incapable of operating motor vehicles (and especially huge SUVs) safely.

It reminds me of the attempts to inspire guilt in everyday people for their carbon footprint. The alternative approach is to note that systemic change, led by government, is what’s necessary to solve the problem, so individual actions don’t much matter either way.

Suburban
Guest
Suburban

While I agree that there is a solid percent of operators who can’t do so safely…I just lump in attentiveness as one of the criteria for safe operation.
Are you implying that some drivers are seeing the stone but can’t learn what the turning radius of their machine is, so they roll up on to it?
It may be that these folks don’t remember clearly seeing the boulder (moments before) , and then presuming none to be there- not unlike right-hooking a cyclist.

Lowell
Guest
Lowell

In defense of Jalopnik, they wrote the following line in a follow-up boulder blog:

“Will we heed the sage boulder’s warning? Or will we silence the rock’s call to a more sensible world, perhaps one where any jackass is not allowed to drive big, stupid cars on public roads just because they feel like it?”

Source: https://jalopnik.com/actually-the-suv-defeating-rock-is-good-1839669833

PS
Guest
PS

So it is just through dumb luck that hundreds of millions of people drive billions of miles every year and do not have an accident? I mean, I ride all the time, so I see super dumb stuff constantly, but to argue that there is no one capable of adequately operating a motor vehicle safely is pure hyperbole.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

As with all things, it depends on your definition of “safely”.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

Please leave Breaking Away alone. No remake will do it justice especially one with a SJW slant.

Asher Atkinson
Guest
Asher Atkinson

Re: Uber Sucks

While Uber’s untested and unregulated new product led (as in ‘contributed) to the death, most analysis of the facts from the investigation conclude the death was avoidable had the human involved been paying attention. Whether Uber should have had more than one operator in the car during testing aside, a human was present and responsible for monitoring the system and taking control as needed. To paraphrase findings:

“Investigators looked at the speed of the car, braking ability, lighting conditions, and the operator’s half-second reaction time once the victim as seen.

Had the operator been paying attention, they could have stopped the car 42.6 feet before the impact.

The crash would not have happened even with a driver whose reaction time was twice as slow as the operator present, had the driver been watching the road.”

In other words, this death can be seen as just another one of 1,000s of avoidable deaths that will continue as long as humans are the primary operators of large and powerful vehicles.

Forbes has an excellent analysis here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradtempleton/2019/11/06/new-ntsb-reports-on-uber-fatality-reveal-major-errors-by-uber/#d28d141781db

It concludes, ‘Each year self driving deployment is delayed will result in the deaths of people at the hands of drivers who did not have the opportunity to give up the wheel and make their trip more safely in a self driving car.’

Uber may suck, and there are certainly lessons to be learned, but the skepticism and feet dragging around safety innovation and progress results in more, not fewer, tragedies.

Wylie
Guest
Wylie

Just because you want safety innovation doesn’t mean that’s anything Uber has accomplished.

Glenn II
Guest
Glenn II

Safety doesn’t need to involve innovation/progress. In fact they might be somewhat opposed. Walking is the safest mode by far and also the least innovative. But when someone innovated to hitch horses to carts, the incidence of grisly injuries ticked upward. When humanity continued to progress innovatively through all the supporting and precursor technologies that eventually culminated in the internal combustion engine, injuries and deaths soared even higher. Progress didn’t stop there, though; we developed computers, and from there, smartphones. So now we have something to pay attention to, rather than the road, and the mind-numbing tedium that is our lives. If you kill someone… too bad, it’s progress!

q
Guest
q

You wrote, “In other words, this death can be seen as just another one of 1,000s of avoidable deaths that will continue as long as humans are the primary operators of large and powerful vehicles.”

No, this was a controlled test of an unproven product, and Uber–which had 100% control over who was driving–had a responsibility to put a professional driver in it who took his job seriously.

GNW_Paul
Guest
GNW_Paul

Obviously a hack for some tech company. Very bad logic.
1) Technology failed and ran down an innocent vulnerable road user.
2) human back-up operator for safety failed by inattentiveness
3) Blaim the human for the accident
4) Argue for technology to replace humans…..
DUMB
Correct answer – Fewer cars, more options, safer urban design (like very reasonable distances between safe crossings) and most vehicles using the urban roads at least being mass transit buses driven by professional drivers.