This week’s roundup is sponsored by Willamette Valley Cyclists, a nonprofit that needs our help to build a pump track in McMinnville!
Here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…
A bad example: Bend police issued speeding citations to two of their own in separate crashes. Both offending officers were responding to emergencies while going too fast and struck and injured innocent road users.
Who’s biking in SF?: U.S. Census numbers paint a picture of cycling in San Francisco that is overwhelmingly white and male.
A coastal adventure: Don’t miss our friends Maria Schur and Madi Carlson showing how carfree adventure is done in the latest episode of Oregon Field Guide on OPB (fast forward to 12:42 mark for the segment).
Transit and public health: As coronavirus fears spread in Seattle, this article has tips for transit riders.
Ask before your draft: Sucking the wheel of a stranger is really rude and if you don’t understand why please read this.
Ride-hailing’s dark side: Despite technologists’ fantasies, Uber and Lyft are having a negative impact on our environment by causing about 69% more emissions than the trips they replace.
Why riders die: Bicycling Magazine took a closer look at NYC data to find out what caused fatal crashes and why it matters.
Carfree works: Guess what? After years of controversy and fear, San Francisco finally made Market Street carfree and it’s been a huge success with none of the doomsday scenarios coming to pass.
Are freeways next?: Activists are cheering a court decision that stopped a new runway at Heathrow Airport because it doesn’t align with the Paris climate agreement.
Mayoral candidates on transportation: At a recent debate hosted by the Columbia Corridor Association, Sarah Iannarone, Ted Wheeler, and Ozzie Gonzalez were asked how Portland streets could become more efficient for trucks and buses.
Subsidize the right things: A bill at D.C. city council would level the commute subsidy playing field by allowing employers to offer payouts to people who walk, bike and take transit.
Video of the Week: Portland rapper Aminé’s latest video is an ode to Portland and includes scenes of him and friends riding down Alberta Street on Biketown bikes
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On ride sharing and climate, it is interesting to recall the boosterist frenzy not so long ago right here in the bike Portland comments.
Drafting: The article isn’t about drafting. It’s about stalking.
Case in point, “a random man hung about 25 feet behind me for a solid hour”. Not drafting. This isn’t a bike thing and I’m sure it happens with other activities like running, hiking, kayaking and others.
Obnoxious close following does happen with running for sure, but what’s unique (OK ok I know it’s not truly unique but it’s definitely more prevalent) about biking is that there’s a built-in “excuse” to legitimize the behavior, whether the person is actually getting a power benefit or not. So while it’s easy to point at the runner that has been shadowing a woman for two miles and say “that’s creepy behavior, it’s inappropriate and you should stop “, the same callout of a road cyclist gets you “quit being such a baby, it’s totally a thing.”
Completely agree. Really a poor choice of article to exemplify why drafting is bad. It’s not, everyone wins when you do it. The only issue is having some random wingnut on your wheel. But the maths of drafting show that even the lead gets a small boost.
Now as far as stalking goes, that guy should be arrested. Creeping on ladies that can’t outrun you because you’re on an e-bike. That should be a crime. I get the feeling he was “enjoying the show”. Which is pretty gross, when you don’t have consent.
I think maybe it’s the other way around – a poor choice of a headline to represent the content of the article.
Yeah I thought the same thing. There’s no benefit in “drafting” from 25 feet behind, and no need for it in the first place when you’re on an e-bike. The initial speed adjustment displays a certain intentionality as well. This could be an inept suitor or a voyeur who has never heard of the internet, but I think I’m ready to say it was just as creepy as she thought, and worse! Whoever told her to cheer up gwumpy gus, I gotta presume they feel complimented on their wealth & taste when someone steals their wallet?
And jeeeeeeezus how about the other guy who “[peeled] off only when we hit a town with cars and people around.” Reminds me of a wolf pack or something. Except easier to take out with pepper spray, loud screaming and a kick to the nuts. Be safe & decisive out there and learn to disable a person.
I agree that the article was about stalking. I know that I, personally, try to be conscious about how my behavior could be perceived by those nearby. As a middle-aged white man, I make sure that if I am biking/walking etc. in the near vicinity of others, I give them plenty of space. I also don’t care if a woman passes me on a bicycle, there is a very good chance that she has a higher level of fitness/expertise than I do. Some guys though, can’t stand to be “chicked” (it’s a real, albeit highly sexist, term apparently).
If I ever catch anybody drafting me, I’ll tell them bluntly to either fall back or pass me. I have zero tolerance for it. Do you know me? Do you and I have some sort of prior arrangement? No? Then stay off my wheel.
I actually had one guy try to justify it by saying he had been racing for years, as if that were something I’m supposed to care about.
That said, kind of weird that they used a photo of mountain bikers on an article about drafting. Mountain bikers don’t draft each other, as it would be really stupid to. That’s a roadie thing.
As a women who frequently bike commutes alone, if you are sitting on my wheel, expect me to brake suddenly and pull over.
I don’t know you, I don’t know your capabilities, and I don’t know your intentions.
People who wheel-suck and justify by saying they used to race are idiots– often the person they’re sucking off of hasn’t raced before and doesn’t know how to run a paceline. If you’re the wheel sucker, you’re creating a dangerous situation.
And you’re a jerk.
Climb the switchbacks to the top of Syncline some time and you may change your mind.
I have climbed to the top of Syncline. Not sure why one would draft off somebody there. Never would have occurred to me.
I won’t brake-check, but I will let off and give them an opportunity to pass. If they don’t take it, I will stop pedaling, wait until they brake, and then hammer down to get some distance. Once they lose the draft, they have trouble catching up.
The behavior described in the article is something else, entirely. They were mountain biking for one, and the Perp had an e-assit bike. This is just stalking.
Had a guy on an e-mtb draft me on my way home once. He was cruising along on a lower assist level, and I was moving at a decent clip so passed him (tried to be nice and call out well before I passed, gave him ample room, etc…). But as I’m going by, I see him hit a button, and it must have been boosting his assist level because then suddenly he’s stuck on my wheel. And I really mean stuck, less than a foot away. I do the “ease up then accelerate a bit” thing, and he’s just sitting right there, in his work clothes with rack and panniers. I figure he must do some road biking as well since he seemed so comfortable that close so gave him an elbow flick after a half mile or so, but he never moved, just sat right on. I look back and give him a “wtf?!” kind of look but he acts like he doesn’t see me. I was in a bit of a hurry to get home so just kept going with him glued to me for another couple miles before he turned off but seriously, why would you think that’s ok? And not even taking a turn when you have a motor helping you?
Honest question: Why do you care?
The leader won’t or may not know to call out hazards, braking, turning, etc. The danger here seems obvious. Have you ever ridden in a pace line?
Because I don’t like being crowded, bro. You’re invading my bubble and putting me at risk unnecessarily.
Agree that in general unannounced / unexpected drafting is a bad practice. But anytime someone makes an effort to get in front of me, then slows down once they’ve passed as though I vanish once I’m behind them…yeah, that person is going to get drafted. Same goes for someone who shoals me when I’m stopped at a traffic control device.
That sounds passive-aggressive. If someone passes me and slows down, or shoals me and slows down, I pass them. I’m not going to sit on someone’s wheel unless I’m in a group ride. They aren’t going to call out turns, hazards, slowing/stopping, etc. It may feel good to draft them and save some work, but you are risking a crash.
I leave myself an out because I agree that inattentive riders are liable to do unexpected things. This isn’t full on roadie “3 inches off the back wheel” drafting, it’s more like “casual wheelsuck while making sure I have an exit if they step on the breaks / turn without signaling”.
And yes, it is definitely passive-aggressive…what can I say, it’s Portland 🙂
I read Molly Hurford’s entire article in Bicycling magazine about people who she describes as having been drafting behind her. In reality, none of the three incidents that she talks about involve drafting since she was not breaking the wind for the other riders. She talks about someone on an electric bike riding behind her for 45 minutes, someone else riding behind her for a “few miles” on a gravel ride, and finally, a cyclist riding behind her on single-track for a “solid hour.” Using these imprecise terms, such as a “few” or a “solid,” leads an astute reader to suspect that she is greatly exaggerating these incidents–at the very least, we don’t have any accurate measurements of how long exactly somebody was behind her. Further, she doesn ‘t even make any effort to try to figure out why the other rider was behaving the way that he did. The man on the single-track was probably behind her because he was riding his mountain bike in the wilderness and he could not get past a slower moving cyclist.
If she was really that uncomfortable, in any of these cases she could have pullled over and pretended to read something on her phone and wait for the other rider to pass. Most of all, this Bicycling magazine article was an astonishing waste in terms of opportunity costs: it dedicated 3,200 words to some minor issue, when the space could have been used to address the undeniable tragedy that in 2019 we broke yet another record for the number of pedestrians and cyclists who died in traffic collisions (6,590 pedestrians and 857 cyclists). That is 7,447 lives needlessly lost! The number of women intentionally murdered while riding their bikes is very small, whereas the number who die in traffic collisions is quite large. If Bicycling magazine wishes to improve the welfare of women, it should focus on the more salient issue.
Oh, so women now have to measure the precise distance and time over which they are followed? And women also have to perform psychoanalysis on the person behind them to determine their motivations for engaging in what is obviously creepy behavior? No. None of those pieces of information that you are accusing the author of being imprecise with is relevant to the basic fact that following someone at a close distance for 45 minutes is incredibly creepy. And do you really think that someone who is creeped out by someone following them would really want to pull over and stop when there’s no one else around? What you are doing in your post is putting the onus on women for what misbehaving men are doing. And nice whataboutism regarding pedestrian and cyclist deaths. Yes, those are important issues that should be discussed, but we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Magazines on cycling have articles on many different topics that don’t pertain to pedestrian and cyclist deaths. The fact that you’re singling out this specific article makes me question your motivations.
The fact is, women have every reason to feel afraid in our society. The danger that women face in our society may not be specific to the cycling community but it includes it. Any steps we can take to make women less afraid are in my opinion worth it, especially given the gender gap in cycling even in Portland where there is only one female cyclist for every two male cyclists. Yeah, looks like your “minor issue” isn’t so minor anymore. Do we want to make cycling accessible to everyone regardless of background or do we want to continue burying our heads in the sand regarding a very real issue?
Also, one minor note: I don’t think “solid” in this context is all that imprecise. A solid hour in this case means not half an hour, not most of an hour, but a full, unbroken, solid hour or more.
Oh, and can we seriously not agree that a “few” miles is at least a “couple” miles longer than a guy ought to be closely following a woman they don’t know? I mean what level of precision is really required here?
Am I allowed to feel uncomfortable if I am followed by a group of urban youths?
No. Just rural youths.
If you can determine that the group is composed mostly of wastrels and ne’er-do-wells, then yes.
Maybe the magazine could publish guidelines on how many feet a man has to be behind a woman so that she does not feel uncomfortable.
Yes, Bicycling.com should definitely offer more detailed guidelines on how not to act like a predatory creep. But in the absence of such specificity, maybe we could just err on the side of an excess of consideration?
You are part of the problem.
Yeah, passing on single track does require some communication as the front rider probably needs to slow and pull aside. If I feel like someone is coming up on me, or kinda sitting back- i’ll say “let me know when you want to pass”. In this case, I probably would have slowed up saying, “i’m going to let you pass” and pulled aside so the implication was that they need to pass and move along. If they said, “your pace is fine” i would have probably said no – i’m going to stop and have a snack. see you later. That kinda forces them to move along unless they are going to really double down on their creepiness.
My thoughts exactly! If a mountain biker is right behind you, it is most likely because he wants to pass anyway.
As a man I actually appreciated her bothering to consider all the non-creepy explanations. Because as a normal ordinary non-stalky man I actually was pretty sure the most plausible explanation was the creepy one.
I don’t think we should spend too much time worrying about ride share companies. Like many of the other money losing tech unicorns ( hello WeWork) they are creations of an easy money financial era. With the recent glut of IPO failures and the oncoming financial train-wreck caused by the Corona Virus they will soon disappear in to the financial history books along with Webvan, Pets.com and Enron.
Except for the destruction they leave in their wake.
Taxi driver suicides? This being just one of the more obvious repercussions.
You may be right that this situation is self correcting. However, the normal, expected government response to economic contraction (or even growth-slower-than-expected) is to push down interest rates. In extreme cases the result is negative interest. That’s right, there would be a fee for parking your money in a bank. We’ve had easy money since the recession because some companies are too big to fail, whether zombies or not.
The taxi driver situation is doubly sad because many of them were victims of a predatory speculative lending bubble in the price of taxi medallions.
Yes, the fed can push down interest rates, but as the We Work styles losses add up even the dumbest investors will avoid putting more money in to cash burning machines like Uber, Lyft or Tesla. Because these business’s have no real financial floor ( because they have no earnings and no prospect of earnings) the fluctuation in value to the downside is nearly limitless. Without additional rounds of financing these operations will soon be insolvent and shut down.
Amine’ that video is HOT!
Way to show off that PNW love.
Yeah, that video was great – they thought of everything!
I (cis woman) have been drafted about a dozen times in the past 2.5 years of commuting up and down the Springwater Willamette. I detest it. 11/12 times it was a dude. Once it was a woman. Guess which single time the drafter asked first and then complimented and thanked me for the pull (tough headwind that day).
It’s rude to do it without asking. Just don’t. Or don’t be an antisocial leech and just ask!
Then again, nothing makes me get home faster than challenging myself to try to drop him…
How do you know it was a woman?
Because when she slingshotted past me at Spokane Street she yelled “Nice pull, thanks! Also sweet vag, it’s just like mine!” and then gave me the secret Woman Power hand signal.
Wait…. There is a secret Woman Power had signal???
I love this response so much I want to learn to do needlepoint so I can stitch it onto a pillow.
Cool – so we can usually tell by looking.
I’m not certain why you can’t take her word for this? Perhaps ADD also noticed the different bike geometry along with a lot of other clues to determine that this was a woman? I don’t think this is a battle worth fighting as even in the best case scenario, you’d have won nothing.
This story is informational, it’s not like ADD is laying down specific claims against a specific person that warrant a greater level of scrutiny. So let’s take her word for it…it’s not like men don’t make women uncomfortable all the time (intentional or not) and I’m sure on bike, it’s no different.
These scenarios are something, at least for me, to be cognizant of going forward.
Unless this is a facetious question, how can we know the gender identity of anyone in any part of this story? Why be creeped out over being followed by maybe-a-man? I think there is more than just ADD’s gender assumption in this discussion.
I saw the crowd of Aminé’s latest video shoot on Alberta St and wondered what was going on/
My springwater rides usually elicited someone trying to hold the wheel. While not possible for everyone, I found it highly entertaining to ride them off my wheel. This in turn eliminated the unsolicited drafting. If you cant drop them, soft pedal until they pass. As for the behavior described, it seems odd. Ironically, every time I try to warn a lone woman that I’m behind them, they cant hear me above their headphones.
Per the SF Bay area article – on the demographic of bike commuters* being overly white, male and wealthy…if this is so (and I know its generally true) … THEN “WHY” did it take so long to make Market Street (and other important links) car free / bike friendly post 2000?! 20 to 30 wasted years.
(*Pre-2000 this same demographic described commuter cyclists – the same – those same white/male/ not so wealthy, who were also Forester-ites / Vehicular Cyclists…who found any bike lane or traffic calming abhorrent. (I had many a debate with them in the 1980s/1990s/ 2000s about why we needed roads friendly to novice cyclists.)
My wife once accidentally “stalked” a rider at night. It was decades ago. I called her from work to tell her I was heading home. She said she’d hop on her bike and meet me. I started to get worried when I didn’t see her in the expected area (25 mile mostly rural commute).
It turned out there was another guy about my size riding between those two cities that night. He also had two lights on his handlebars and one on his helmet (rare set up in those days). Weirder still, he had a weak red generator-driven tail light and a big bright flashing amber light on his waist (super rare). She saw him approach, turned around, then caught his draft as he flew by. After five miles or so, he turned to her and asked if she was lost. It did explain why “I” hadn’t even said hello.
I doubt if he was creeped out, but who knows?
We need a deeper analysis of traffic deaths here too like the NYC cycling analysis but for all fatalities. I suspect the uptick in is more because of vehicle type than a failure of our transportation departments to make our roads safer. Despite the lack of any real data people heap all the blame on PBOT and use the increase in deaths as an excuse for why we should roll back recent changes that have slightly inconvenienced drivers. Even people running for council seats are doing it. Making unsupported claims that lane and speed reductions aren’t working so we should stop doing them all together.
How a lane reduction on Halsey at 102nd is supposed to improve safety at 42nd is beyond me but that doesn’t keep people from claiming the changes aren’t working or are even making things worse.
There is also the possibility that the general decline in civility, the increase in anxiety, the more or less conscious, creeping sense that we are screwed, that our society is failing us, could play a role in how carefully, how considerately we drive. I think the purchase of an SUV in this era could signal many unsavory things, from a devil-take-the-hindmost attitude, to a culture war stance that is most crassly manifest in the coal-rolling subculture. Anger has always been part of the driving experience, always played a role, but I think it may be evolving, taking on new forms.
I agree 100% that nonconsensual drafting/wheel sucking/following/stalking is not okay, but I disagree with the choice of reasons focused on in the article.
1. Gender should be irrelevant. I’m an able-bodied cis-man, and I still hate uninvited drafters. Both because I don’t like to have to constantly worry about getting rear-ended in the event that I should have to brake suddenly, and because I simply desire a reasonable amount of personal space.
2. The e-bike aspect is also a distraction. Whether you’re creeping on me with the help of a motor, or purely by your own efforts, doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want you close enough to smell my farts.
3. Whether any tangible aerodynamic advantage is created or not (as inferred by the relative sizes of the riders, the following distance, and the speed of travel), is likewise irrelevant to my discomfort.
In other words, I’d hate for somebody to read the article and decide, “Well, if I’m a man drafting another man, not riding an e-bike, and we’re doing 20 MPH into a headwind, then surely it’s fine that I’m drafting a stranger without first obtaining consent.”
Gender is not irrelevant, though. It’s at the heart of that article, which is why some people have pointed out that the headline is a bit off the mark. I’ve also heard other women describe very similar experiences, so I think it’s worthwhile.
If you want to read an article that details the etiquette of bicycling behind strangers in more general terms, I’m sure that’s easy enough to find.