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The Monday Roundup: Cars or cafes?, bike repair subsidies, transit demographics, and more

Posted by on May 4th, 2020 at 10:22 am

Welcome to the week. Here are the most noteworthy items our community came across in the past seven days…

Bike repair subsidies: France will provide about $75 per person to keep their bicycles tuned up and rolling in a bid to sweeten the cycling pot post-lockdown. Imagine the economic boost this could give bike shops!

Equity and open streets: Chicago’s main bike/walk advocacy organization has cited equity concerns as a reason to resist calls to limit driving access on some streets to create more distance and safety. Here’s what social justice and other community groups think about the idea.

Cars or cafes?: Maybe Portland would get more traction for carfree streets if we approached the issue like Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius, which plans to remove auto parking spaces so cafe owners can set up physically-distanced dining tables in streets.

Paradigm shift is nigh: “The pandemic offers a glimpse of what one possible carbon-neutral future could look like,” writes the Christian Science Monitor in an article on making cities more bike-friendly post-pandemic.

Make the boom last: The one and only Carlton Reid drops essential reading on why biking boomed in the 1970s and how to make sure America’s renewed interest in cycling sticks this time around.

COVID-19 advocacy: Washington-based bike advocacy group Cascade has issued a four-point plan and is calling on its members to sign a petition and contact elected officials to make sure bicycling is supported during the pandemic and emerges from the crisis stronger.

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Transit demographics: A fascinating look at who’s riding transit still reveals a lot about urban transportation behaviors and mobility justice.

Mapping quarantine: What does your personal map look like during the ‘Stay Home’ order?

Choosing cars: We can count on the evil auto industry to play on fears of the virus to sell cars. They’re already licking their lips.

Deadly trucks: When an auto enthusiast outlet raises the alarm that NHTSA doesn’t do enough to rein in dangers of massive trucks, you know the issue is (finally!) gaining traction.

‘Big Bike’ strikes again!: The National Motorists Association (an actual, real thing) is on the case of how the bike lobby is taking over cities nationwide with anti-car policies.

No driving test: The DMV in Georgia has dropped the final driving test requirement for teens because it can’t be administered with distancing requirements in place.

Paris gets it: The mayor of the French capital is not messing around when it comes to seizing the moment to change the future of mobility in her city for the better.

Bikenomics: Forget health, happiness and clean air – the positive economic impact of active mobility makes for a very strong argument.

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

This open streets vs equity conversation seems to be largely about misinformed notions of opportunity cost, probably on both sides.

To the extent implementing an open streets program removes potential resources from measures to address the present’s most dire needs—especially needs of those most vulnerable and affected by the first- and second-order impacts of COVID-19—open streets should be viewed as something of a luxury.

However, to the extent that resources that might be used for open streets implementation are not fungible in a way that can support the aforementioned dire needs (a proportion of the resources that is likely considerable), open streets also represent a solution to a pressing COVID-related need that is also expressed by some equity communities and perhaps should not be so cavalierly dismissed by equity advocates.

But on the advocates’ side, open streets to provide safe space for physical distancing probably also shouldn’t be framed or celebrated as a way to push an agenda without going through some kind of process. Permanent changes of this magnitude definitely need a discussion.

And explicitly say it’s not being enforced to set some at ease; we don’t enforce most infractions of our traffic laws, anyway.

Phil
Guest
Phil

I can’t believe that Georgia is giving out licenses without a driving test. That is insane.

dan
Guest
dan

Re: Jalopnik, they are an auto enthusiast outlet, but they’re also pretty urbanist and progressive. They are against hooning on public streets, for instance. Calling out the dangers of monster trucks is pretty on brand for them.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Your average suburbanite car-user should be just as concerned about these monsters on our roads. The dissimilar mass and frontal-area of new SUVs and pickups is incredibly deadly to occupants of average-sized vehicles. Your crumple zone doesn’t crumple if the bumper/grill completely bypasses it and hits your window or windshield. If you scan Oregonlive for fatal crashes, you’ll notice that many of them sound like this:
“Driver in xxx sedan failed to yield and was hit by xxx pickup/SUV on xxx highway”.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Hello, Kitty
One way to start is to stop using overloaded terms like “equity” and use other words to describe the concept, such as “fairness”. Try framing the discussion in ways that don’t align to a well-hewn and politicized narrative, and challenge us to think along new axes.On the 7th/9th topic, for example, the conversation was nominally about bike access. Underlying that was a racial narrative, but beneath that could have been a conversation about democracy, and the role of the public in shaping policies for streets that many of us feel a sense of ownership over. One key question was whether people living in a place longer should have a different voice in the process than newcomers. Why or why not? That conversation could have led people to a different place, perhaps challenging them to think more deeply than their initial reflex, and might have better prepared us for the coming conversation about PBOT’s street-closing plan.Recommended 1

Ban “equity,” inclusion,” et cetera and soon no virtue signaling would be possible!

9watts
Subscriber

Sounds a lot like Make America Great Again….

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Empty and jingoistic.

Rod B.
Guest
Rod B.

As a person of color and a daily bike commuter, I detest it when “equity” ends up being used to keep the transportation status quo and do nothing. When the Great Reopening happens, people will be hesitant to crowd onto buses and light rail. Making it easier for more people to feel safe biking to work could be critical to reopening more workplaces without having people rely on cars. Many cities are working on repurposing street space for bikes so that getting to work by bike is an attractive option for way more people than before. Portland should be one of these places. Sometimes leadership is needed. Such as now.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Rod B, you’re so right–read the website bicycle retailer.com. There was a recent article on a couple of East Los Angeles barrio bike shops, both going great guns right now partly with regulars enjoying the lack of traffic and partly with new cyclists who usually use the bus but are. now afraid to!

todd.boulanger
Guest
todd.boulanger

as for “Big Bike”…I think there is a bigger threat not yet identified by the true news: it is “Deep Bike”…all those transportation technocrats that remain and have served through the Clinton, Bush, Obama administrations and now are doing great harm during the Trump administration! They must GO, as they know engineering, statistics, public administration process and how to use it!!

David Hampsten
Guest

It’s that darn Portland bicycle conspiracy, all those MAMILs with skin in the game from the billions being raked in with their bicycle tax!

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Re: “Big Bike” and “War on Cars” BS:

Ever notice that so many of our projects to make things better for bikers and walkers, even ones that have minimal impact on cars, run into local opposition from people you wouldn’t think would care so much?

I’m beginning to suspect a lot more of this than we’ve realized is actually Astroturf. NMA and/or associated organizations might actually be funding our on-the-ground opposition. I have no proof, but resistance to bike/ped improvements is too organized for this not to be the case. Maybe NE 28th really was an instance of one or two concerned business owners going around completely on their own initiative to collect signatures from every other business on the avenue. But what if someone had a little incentive? I give you two recent examples here in the Twin Cities.

– In my own neighborhood, Minnehaha Parkway is a modest-paced boulevard that winds through south Minneapolis next to lovely Minnehaha Creek. The Parks & Rec Board, which owns the road, is proposing to install a few barriers to prevent through traffic on a mile-long section – where there is a parallel arterial just two blocks away. You’d think well-off nearby residents would support this, since they could still access their houses, but their picturesque boulevard would become quieter, more walkable – and more private? Nope, every other house near the parkway sports a “Save Minnehaha Parkway!” sign (with a subtitle, “Before It’s Too Late!”). There are easily hundreds of these professionally printed signs. When these sprouted last year, I might have thought it was the work of a dedicated activist, until …

– This spring the first-ring suburb of Saint Louis Park proposed bike lanes on a half-mile section of Wooddale Avenue, an important connector linking one of its commercial districts with nearby Edina. Alternatives included either removing a couple dozen parking spaces or about a dozen mature trees. Ultimately the trees have won in the latest version of the proposal, which means some people will lose parking in front of their homes (as far as I know there are no businesses fronting this stretch – it’s all houses). And guess what? Just a few weeks after the city council floated the proposal, “Preserve Wooddale” signs have popped up on half the houses along Wooddale and in nearby neighborhoods. Like the Minnehaha signs, they’re professionally printed.

– I can’t also neglect mentioning the yard-sign war over our recent 2040 Plan, which has made us the first city in the country to abolish single-family-home-only zoning. These towering structures known as – gasp, triplexes! – are now allowed on every residential lot. Although the Plan got enough support to easily get passed by the City Council, you wouldn’t know it from yard signs. I paid Neighbors for More Neighbors for my pro-2040 sign in my yard, which is massively outnumbered (like 20:1) by “Don’t Bulldoze Minneapolis!” signs (subtitled with something disingenuous like “don’t let developers win”) all over the place. Guess which side printed up thousands of signs AND gave them away for free? Somebody’s paying for that.

It was only with the signs in SLP that I finally noticed the pattern keeps repeating: the more-cars side has lots of yard signs, the fewer-cars side has almost none. Maybe there’s money funding these supposedly grassroots movements. One more thing: overlooking our busiest freeway interchange (interstates 35W and 494) is a billboard that for years has carried messages like “Tired of congestion? Tell your legislators we need more lanes!) Nevermind that the problem isn’t a shortage of pavement: both freeways are already 8 lanes each at that location, and 35W becomes 14-lane monolith towering over the neighborhood just two miles to the north. Guess who pays for this billboard? Good old Koch Industries.

I’m just saying a few thousand yard signs probably cost less than the permanent lease on a billboard. We need to start following the money, and daylighting those who fight us.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Follow the money, as you say, and you’ll end up at orgs like Sightline Institute. On the other side, you’ll inevitably find mostly neighborhood-level donors, which makes sense. People don’t spontaneously organize to promote a pro-growth building agenda, but they do to defend their neighborhoods and homes.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s definitely not outside of the realm of possibility:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/climate/koch-brothers-public-transit.html

Dave
Guest
Dave

If the remaining Koch bro dies of coronavirus I’ll start believing in god and join my local synagogue.

todd.boulanger
Guest
todd.boulanger

GlowBoy – try to call up the company that made the signs near you…there may be a printers mark on your local example – they may tell you who contracted with them. It cannot hurt.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Great tip. I might try that.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Thanks for the NYTimes/Koch Brothers link, Chris I. Americans for Prosperity is the same Koch group sponsoring the billboard here, so not surprising they’re doing the same thing in many other places.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

“Maybe Portland would get more traction for carfree streets if we approached the issue like Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius…”
Like this?:
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/TRANSPORTATION/59158

Roberta Robles
Guest
Roberta Robles

The most fair solution is to PUNISH drivers who hit people with the same aggression that we went after drunk drivers. The State of Oregon is not protecting us.

Complaining about BikeLoudPDX being to loud in being who they are is not helpful. We dont need any expensive HARD infrastructure. We need the state of Oregon to come down on drivers who hit pedestrians with JAIL time, license revocation and close to bankruptcy. We need to go after these drivers with the same aggression as drunk drivers.

In terms of whose been here longer, well some of us have been listening to the same empty promises for decades.

Stop blaming BL, at least they are willing to push the conversation forward. Sadly I see BikePortland continuing to be softballs on the matter. Publish what you feel. We keep coming back, dont worry about causing a ruckus. That is movement where we can get behind. Until then stop giving any transportation department any more money until they protect us. And no sorry, the equity argument doesnt work on drunk drivers and it doesnt work for traffic victims either. Equity should mean protection, not softball TDM programs that maintain the status quo.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

For next week’s Monday Roundup. This was gut-wrenching. 🙁

https://www.outsideonline.com/2411290/cyclist-hit-by-car

B. Carfree
Subscriber
B. Carfree

That certainly mixed my emotions. Since I fell down and went boom last October, I’ve had more moments of self-pity than I want to admit to. I haven’t been able to ride since New Year’s and likely won’t until after the 4th of July, but I know I will ride again (slower every year, and that’s just fine since my vision is slightly worse every year and so I need to slow down anyway to enjoy the sights).

I’m crying over what happened to the author but feeling guilty for being a baby and whining over a relatively trivial inconvenience that I caused myself while also being uplifted by his awesome push to force his body to be able to do as much as it possibly can after so much trauma.

Maybe this article, or some similar story from a surviving parent who has lost a beloved child, should be required reading for renewing a license to drive. If a motorist can read this without being driven to tears or at least a moment of reflection, s/he has failed the test and can’t renew.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

I’m sorry you crashed! Sounds like it was pretty bad if you’ve been off the bike for so long. Injuries always suck, even if they could have been worse. Hope you’re back on the bike soon.

David Hampsten
Guest

I have a general question for everyone: My city is apparently willing to create pop-up bike lanes on many of its multi-lane arterial roadways, but they’ve run out of orange cones to do it, from all the actual construction projects around town. Other the bales of hay which they’ve already ruled out, what other cheap and plentiful materials would you suggest we line our streets with that is cheap, movable, and yet recognizable by motorists as being off-limits?

Roberta
Guest
Roberta

We’ve had good luck using hay bales as cheap barriers. I would only use them after June in the summer, due to moisture In Oregon. IDK where you are so hard to say what will work for temporary barriers. Hay bales turn into mushy danger zones for cyclists after a while, so not a long term solution 🙂

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

other items: https://goo.gl/maps/9TnndsVRqLrnZJxq9

Many home improvement stores sell half barrels for $40.
Planters in a painted buffer work: https://goo.gl/maps/5hRkZZSM4n3XDVHQ6

paikiala
Guest
paikiala
todd.boulanger
Guest
todd.boulanger

David – it depends on what you have at hand…I have been thinking about suggesting the use of parked cars…placed in strategic locations at the ends of each block to block off half a lane (allowing cyclists/ pedestrians to get by but not cars…just move the parking lane out with a diagonal / parallel parking. No engineering permits are needed to park under used cars on overwide streets…perhaps just a supplemental type 2 barricade with an official note. There are a lot of cars stored on streets now that are not moving much.