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The Monday Roundup: Flight shaming, phone detection cams, bicycle insurance and more

Posted by on December 2nd, 2019 at 9:31 am


This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by WashCo Bikes, who reminds you to support their Adopt-a-Bike program as it ramps up to serve hundreds of kids and families in Washington County.


Welcome back from the holiday weekend. Hope you enjoyed a few slower news days (I certainly did).

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

Induced flight demand: Airports are fossil fuel infrastructure, so why do we continue to expand them? (This is very relevant to Portland since PDX wants to expand a road leading to a new parking garage.)

Helmet debate distractions: The League of American Bicyclists goes beyond the helmet-debating headlines to offer a breakdown of recent traffic safety recommendations made by the NTSB.

SUVs and the planet: The latest United Nations report on climate change directly calls out America’s epidemic of SUV driving and calls for policies that discourage the purchase and use of large, inefficient vehicles.

Big trucks suck (for most people): Calling them a “grotesque addiction” this automotive journalist says large trucks and their popularity in the market are irrational and unnecessary.

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Caught on camera: Australia has rolled out special traffic cameras that aim to detect the use of phones and other distracting devices while driving.

What he said: Nationally recognized transit consultant (based in Portland) Jarrett Walker wants everyone to know that he doesn’t want to be called a “bus advocate”.

Bicycle coverage: Japan is experiencing a boom in cycling for fitness and many local governments are responding by requiring riders to have bicycle insurance.

Safer suburbs: The Washington Post dives into the growing awareness that suburban cities should also consider Vision Zero to tame dangerous streets and drivers.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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bikeninja
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bikeninja

Our addiction to commercial air travel is even more ridiculous and harmful than our addiction to motorcars. At least the one can imagine that motor car transportation has some kind of future with electrification and renewable energy but commercial air travel is a creature of cheap fossil fuel. The latest round of airline failures ( mostly europe) and the cost cutting debacle at Boeing are sure signs that ,from an economic perspective, air travel for the masses is on its last legs. Why we are still dumping so much money in to air travel infrastructure makes no sense. One day these enormous airports with massive parking garages will be our civilizations equivalent to the statues on Easter Island.

matchupancakes
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matchupancakes

I’d encourage everyone to read Jarrett Walker’s article. It succinctly summarizes the limitations of single mode advocacy and centers the discussion as people-first with freedom of mobility choices.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Has anyone here driven in Australia? I have, and I can report that there are already speed cameras and red light cameras everywhere on the roads, even in rural areas. Those policies have created much safer road conditions (7.4 deaths per 100k vehicles vs 14.2 in the US. Source: Wikipedia). And it has the added benefit of not giving racist police officers an opportunity to use a traffic stop as an excuse to violate someone’s civil rights, something which is a huge problem in Portland. You just get notice of your rather large fine in the mail.

They also use random roadside breath tests effectively to stop drunk driving. For example, the RBT checkpoints are set up at 8pm on a Friday night on major roads leading out of the entertainment district in central Sydney. This is a practice that the US Supreme Court has said is constitutional because of the extreme public risk of drunk driving.

No doubt, the mobile phone-detecting cameras will now lower Australia’s roadway death rate even further below that of the US over the next few years.

Only a short time driving in Australia (for example) will show you that there are simple, cost-effective ways to make Portland’s roads much safer. And only a brief reflection or bit of research will also show you that these solutions are never given serious consideration by policy-makers in Oregon. Why?

X
Guest
X

Bicycle insurance for “several hundred” ¥ a month? That means, $10.00 / month, more or less, for liability coverage at a pretty high level. It’s cheap because the very sad and unfortunate event of a bike rider seriously injuring another person is rare.

If this is possible in Japan it should be possible here. And, insurance should be built into rental bike and scooter rental rates here too. ¡Duh!

middle of the road guy
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middle of the road guy

I love the comment about needing a cowboy costume.

It’s like those monster trucks are being marketed to guys who think they need to prepare for WW3.

Wylie
Guest
Wylie

The truck problem is a thing even among cyclists. I think performative masculinity is a really big piece of the equation here and I was sad to see this idea only received a quick mention. I’d love to see surveys that compares willful adherence to masculine social norms with likelihood of owning a truck.

It’s curious the writer also says he doesn’t want a “nanny state” but concedes that it is a reality that the trucks are contributing to the destruction of our environment and persuasive appeals have been useless. It would seem that in order to avert the destruction that we actually have to have a government that tells people “no, you cannot have a truck as a personal vehicle” along with other sweeping changes. And that wouldn’t be bad because we’d be saving ourselves from the abyss.

chris
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chris

This conception of SUVs is dated. SUVs have shrunk. The most popular SUV models, according to sales figures at goodcarbadcar dot net are the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CRV and the Nissan Rogue, in that order. They’re no bigger than sedans and their gas mileage is slightly worse, but comparable. Sales of full-size SUVs like Chevy Tahoes, the type that you saw everywhere on the streets 15 years ago, are actually very low in comparison. 124K RAV4s vs 26K Chevy Tahoes in Q3 of 2019. Those tiny Subaru Crosstreks that Portlanders love driving…those are SUVs too, and they’re smaller than a Toyota Camry.

I own a Subaru Outback because I go mountain biking two days every weekend (weather permitting) and am getting into snowboarding, and it’s ideal for mountain conditions. Apparently you would have me either give up my favorite hobby and never leave the city, move out of the city, or take a Honda Fit to the mountains?

That said, the most popular vehicle in the U.S. is the Ford F-series pickup truck. Those are indeed oversized and fuel-inefficient. If you want to go after a vehicle, go after that one.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

The Dude
Has anyone here driven in Australia? I have, and I can report that there are already speed cameras and red light cameras everywhere on the roads, even in rural areas. Those policies have created much safer road conditions (7.4 deaths per 100k vehicles vs 14.2 in the US. Source: Wikipedia). And it has the added benefit of not giving racist police officers an opportunity to use a traffic stop as an excuse to violate someone’s civil rights, something which is a huge problem in Portland. You just get notice of your rather large fine in the mail.They also use random roadside breath tests effectively to stop drunk driving. For example, the RBT checkpoints are set up at 8pm on a Friday night on major roads leading out of the entertainment district in central Sydney. This is a practice that the US Supreme Court has said is constitutional because of the extreme public risk of drunk driving.No doubt, the mobile phone-detecting cameras will now lower Australia’s roadway death rate even further below that of the US over the next few years.Only a short time driving in Australia (for example) will show you that there are simple, cost-effective ways to make Portland’s roads much safer. And only a brief reflection or bit of research will also show you that these solutions are never given serious consideration by policy-makers in Oregon. Why?Recommended 3

I lived in OZ decades ago.

University of Sydney Medical School drew surgeons from around the world because:

1. Fortified beer led to early organ destruction.
2. Horrific road carnage provided many relatively young and viable organs for transplant.

And then there was the bizarre “right of way” law…but that would require several thousand words to explain…

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

124 RAV4s do much more damage than 26 TAHOES.

One can argue that US mileage standards have made global warming worse by putting many more cars on the road.

q
Guest
q

I knew a guy who did exactly what the truck article said. Instead of buying a truck, he made himself a cowboy outfit out of paper. It worked great, and gave him the same feeling as driving a truck. Unfortunately, the sheriff arrested him for rustling.

Dave
Guest
Dave

As a suburb dwelling walker and cyclist, the best things we can do are–as cyclists–overindulge in lighting and visibility. We are in a golden age for great bike lighting–buy the best and most you can afford and don’t look back. As a pedestrian in a ‘burb that doesn’t give a damn whether walkers live or die, I trespass with relish, if there isn’t a sidewalk where I’m going I take the lawn, the flower beds, whatever it takes. I’ll plant my feet where the sidewalks ought to be and really don’t give a damn whose property I’m stepping in.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Pete
OK, I’ll bite. How do mileage standards increase the number of vehicles on the road? (And by “on the road” I assume you mean registered and not ‘at a given time’, as the latter is a function of people actually driving them).Recommended 0

Drive farther on the same money spent for gas.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

The Port of Portland, a state agency, should be working with ODOT and WSDOT to improve rail service between Eugene and Seattle (and Vancouver BC). A good place to start in our neck of the woods is a new rail bridge over the Columbia River that can accommodate both HS Rail and Commuter Rail. How about some 21st century infrastructure! I-5 is last century stuff.

turnips
Guest
turnips

chris
Apparently you would have me either give up my favorite hobby and never leave the city, move out of the city, or take a Honda Fit to the mountains?Recommended 6

pretty easy and pleasant to take public transit to the mountains. cheap, too. you can nap or read. be drunk or high. give your full attention to the people you’re traveling with. it’s nice.

you have clearly decided that the convenience of operating your own (rather large) automobile outweighs the negative consequences to yourself and everyone else. that’s a fine decision to make, even if I would prefer that you choose differently. everybody makes decisions like that all the time. the relative importance of one’s own enjoyment and the wider ramifications of personal choices will be different for everybody. again, that’s fine.

but just own it. don’t act like the only alternative to your choices is giving up all your fun and dooming yourself to austerity confined to the city. because that is not even close to reality, even if Subaru’s marketing department would like you to believe otherwise.

Al
Guest
Al

Hello, Kitty
At ~$80 per barrel equivalent, the military would be all over this for making jet fuel (and even ship fuel) at sea — that’s cheaper and safer than refueling at sea with big vulnerable tankers. I know they’re interested in the technology, but don’t seem to be using it. If they were, I’d expect the sector to be much more robust than you suggest it is.What’s missing in this picture?Recommended 0

What’s missing is that you need acres and acres of land to capture the sunlight. Think of the area photovoltaic solar farms need. Why would the military be in this business? You would still transport the resulting product the same exact way that regular fossil fuels are transported except that this can be produced closer to areas of consumption to reduce the energy required to transport it, unlike fossil fuels which can only be derived where deposits exist.

9watts
Subscriber

Huey Lewis
Yeah, and I was told not to go because I was killing the planet. It seemed like a scolding to me.Recommended 4

Flying is killing the planet. The fact that you either don’t know this or are in denial about it is troubling. As Pete is fond of remaining us, it is not the only way our consumption patterns and habits are killing the planet, but it is a very important one. The question of what you or I or anyone does with that knowledge is where things get interesting and where, in theory, conversations like this can be helpful or unhelpful.
Your performance here a year ago struck me as frustratingly misguided. As turnips points out, making a big noise about your personal entitlement to particular quanta of fossil fuels, trashing anyone who pointed out that flying is problematic, reveals more about you than about the predicament we face. These are tough individual (and collective) decisions, and it will be much more useful and interesting if we struggle with this together rather than throwing tantrums.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

Pete
The greener than thou attitudes on this blog have gotten completely bonkers.

Among various forms of `othering`, indeed, and while not a new fad, it does seem to be on a resurgent cycle. I read some advice I liked just the other day, about how to approach this very sort of conflict, by Jane Goodall:

If you go out there being aggressive and pointing a finger, you don’t get anywhere. If you watch two people begin talking from opposing sides, and then one gets a little bit finger-pointy, you can then see the eyes of the other one turning in as he or she tries to refute what’s being said. And in the end, neither listens to the other. And they get more and more aggressive, and nothing’s accomplished at all. Except possibly to make it worse. I got lots of opposition from animal rights people for even talking to the people in the labs. But if you don’t talk to people, how can you ever expect they’ll change?”

dwk
Guest
dwk

There are 17 comments on this topic by ONE person….
It is nice that you allow such diversity in your comment section.
A real reflection of the community.

SD
Guest
SD

A humble suggestion to anyone considering buying a truck, SUV, minivan or even a relatively low mpg Subaru:

1. Honestly count the number of times that you truly needed an oversized or overpowered vehicle in the past year. (- not what you imagine that you will be doing in the future.)

2. Calculate the cost of that vehicle versus buying the smallest, cheapest, most efficient vehicle plus the cost of renting a vehicle for the few times you really need it.

3. Finally, compare the environmental costs between the two, and for extra credit, consider the risk of killing someone in a collision.

*most people with the means spend way much more than they need to on their personal vehicles.