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The Monday Roundup: Car control goes mainstream, bike thief rage, war on cars rebuttal, and more

Posted by on January 13th, 2020 at 7:06 am

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This week’s Monday Roundup is brought to you by River City Bicycles (706 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd), serving your everyday cycling needs for 23 years.

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

Car control now!: Trucks and SUVs have gotten absurdly large and deadly. Martha Roskowski lays out the problem and offers steps to solve it.

“Blind zones” kill: And this is one of the first mainstream media pieces I’ve seen that exposes those aforementioned dangers with excellent and irrefutable graphics.

All politics is local: The Trump Administration wants to weaken NEPA, the federal law that regulates the environmental impact of large transportation infrastructure projects, because they believe environmental impact statements create too much red tape.

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Clarion call from Chicago: Courtney Cobbs says the Windy City’s mayor needs to stop “coddling drivers” and build a network of protected bike lanes. Someone should copy/paste her essay and submit it to The Oregonian.

Whose streets?: The new OurStreets app (from makers of a Twitter bot that tracked drivers’ citations based on license plate numbers) will use crowdsourced data on dangerous and disrespectful drivers to target solutions and trouble spots.

Bike thief rage: A California couple let their anger at bike thieves get the best of them by setting up bait bikes and beating would-be thieves with bats.

Stop freaking out: Lots of folks I know found a bit of solace from their climate change anxiety by reading this piece in the NY Times about how to stop stressing and start acting.

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Economic impact: $390 million in health savings, 81,000 jobs, and $8.2 billion to Washington’s economy every year: That’s the economic impact that bike trails and paths have in Washington state according to a new report.

Too many drivers: It’s simple. If leaders want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they must push projects and policies the reduce car use.

Be like Edinburgh: This city in Scotland wants to be carbon neutral by 2030 and making parts of its downtown carfree and boosting investment in biking and transit are pillars of its plan to do so.

Fairer future: Sara Wright from Oregon Environmental Council responded to that misguided “war on cars” editorial in The Oregonian by saying our problem is too much money being thrown at the status quo, not our investments in active transportation and transit.

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

“get the best of them ”

This reads like bike portland is attempting to provide an excuse for what appears to be assault with a deadly weapon. It should be noted that this blog promoted calls for the murder of bike thieves as part of a conference. If bike portland is going to be quick to take injury at calls for violence against people biking, perhaps it could make some sort of minimal attempt to not appear hypocritical when doing so.

Another Engineer
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Another Engineer

A few of us have been using the Safelanes.org app to compile violations. Downside is they only report to enforcement in SF.

Matt
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Matt

If you aren’t aware that there’s a blind zone in front of your car, you are absolutely not competent to be driving a car. It’s terrifying just how many dangerously incompetent drivers are out on the roads we’re cycling and walking on.

AB
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AB

The front blind spot thing is why I think station wagons and minivans should make a comeback in a big way. The front blind spot on a sedan-like wagon is so much less dangerous and the cargo capacity is pretty much the same (or better than) most “compact” CUVs. Most of the popular CUVs are basically jacked up hatchbacks and wagons playing pretend anyway.

The reason everyone wants CUVs is because there is essentially an arms race among drivers to be the one who gets to see over and above all the other traffic and it provides an air of safety. They are easier to get in and out of and harder to get blinded by pickup truck and SUV headlights as well.

I have seen several studies that show pedestrian danger increases a lot if the front edge of the hood is above 30″; I think this as well as the front blind spot test should be considered in the safety rating system such that high up trucks and CUVs are essentially barred from the highest safety ratings that everyone looks at.

Fred
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Fred

I thought Sara Wright did a terrific job of rebutting the “war on cars” piece in the O. She used the word “bike” exactly once in her essay, which is very smart b/c it takes the focus off of the “us vs them” angle that the O’s “war on cars” piece took.

The O should do a better job of tamping down the “us vs them” trope, but they seem no better than Fox nowadays. I wish we had a better local paper.

Matthew in PDX
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Matthew in PDX

I am not convinced that anybody, including farmers and contractors, need these monster “light” trucks. I grew up in Australia, and also lived in New Zealand for a year. Neither of these countries have large inventories of these large vehicles (and I can assure you that many Australians and New Zealanders would love to have them). The standard farm/contractor vehicle in those countries is the ute, known in the USA as a coupe utility. Essentially it is a version of the standard GM/Ford/Chrysler sedan built with a truck bed. When I was younger, utes were a little smaller than the current Ford Ranger. Ford/GM/Chrysler also built “panel vans” which were like two door station wagons with no back seats or side rear windows. For example, the typical Ford Falcon was available in four body styles: sedan, stationwagon, utility (coupe utility) and van – each with the same front profile.

When I look around my neighbors, work colleagues and acquaintances, very few of us have a need to own large SUVs/trucks (full disclosure, I drive a Mazda CX-9 SUV), rarely, if ever are we toting enough people or stuff to justify these vehicles. If they weren’t available at low/moderate cost, we wouldn’t buy them. If there were a Mazda 6 stationwagon, I would likely be driving that rather than the CX-9.

Johnny Bye Carter
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Johnny Bye Carter

Bike thief rage: So how exactly ARE we allowed to subdue thieves? I think a bat sounds like they got off easy.

Jim Lee
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Jim Lee

Matthew in PDX
I am not convinced that anybody, including farmers and contractors, need these monster “light” trucks. I grew up in Australia, and also lived in New Zealand for a year. Neither of these countries have large inventories of these large vehicles (and I can assure you that many Australians and New Zealanders would love to have them). The standard farm/contractor vehicle in those countries is the ute, known in the USA as a coupe utility. Essentially it is a version of the standard GM/Ford/Chrysler sedan built with a truck bed. When I was younger, utes were a little smaller than the current Ford Ranger. Ford/GM/Chrysler also built “panel vans” which were like two door station wagons with no back seats or side rear windows. For example, the typical Ford Falcon was available in four body styles: sedan, stationwagon, utility (coupe utility) and van – each with the same front profile.When I look around my neighbors, work colleagues and acquaintances, very few of us have a need to own large SUVs/trucks (full disclosure, I drive a Mazda CX-9 SUV), rarely, if ever are we toting enough people or stuff to justify these vehicles. If they weren’t available at low/moderate cost, we wouldn’t buy them. If there were a Mazda 6 stationwagon, I would likely be driving that rather than the CX-9.Recommended 10

Interesting.

I lived in OZ many decades ago and tried to scope the car culture there. Also a brief visit to New Zed Land.

Most rural work was then done with trailers on ordinary cars. Australia is a continent the size of the lower 48 states with the population of southern California: a small market with limited capabilities of production. NZ is even smaller.

GM Australia built “Holden” cars there: unique vehicles with cheap components made possible by GM’s enormous purchasing power. The rare (large and powerful) American car was extremely costly due to tariffs and conversion to right-hand drive. NZ, with no national automotive industry, once required purchasers to have full “overseas” funds to buy a new vehicle, which led to amazing ingenuity in keeping (really) old things running.

“Panel vans” long ago were built in the US too, being called “sedan deliveries.”

Congratulations on driving Mazda. A small but excellent company.

was carless
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was carless

People are really shocked when they buy a giant SUV whose main design feature is a gigantic nose and front grille that you can’t see over?

Pete
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Pete

Mentioned this again not too long ago, but certain vehicles are allowed to be depreciated by a businesses for a tax credit (I believe it’s up to $45K IIRC – used to be called the ‘Hummer loophole’). My friend traded his Suby for a Chevy Silverado and more recently a Ram diesel to take advantage of this (and he actually gets better gas mileage in the diesel than his old turbo Suby did). My own company has a massive fleet of Ford and Ram 4wd trucks used to service wind farms, and I’m sure they chose the tax-advantaged models but they are appropriate for the work they’re actually used for. Much different than what we see similar-sized rigs on downtown streets used for, to be sure!