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The Monday Roundup: Black urbanism, Baltimore’s vision, what biking looks like, and more

Posted by on July 20th, 2020 at 11:03 am

Welcome to the week.

Here are the most notable stories we came across in the past seven days…

Big Biden energy: Transportation reform advocates seem cautiously optimistic about Presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s $2 trillion energy plan that would create a new Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Department of Justice (among other things).

What biking looks like: The pandemic-fueled bike boom and fight for racial justice have helped break many molds, one of which is the idea that riding is only the domain of the “stale, pale and male”. When Conde Nast Traveler does a piece about “the women finding joy in cycling this summer,” you know we’re having a moment.

Re-imagining traffic enforcement: A Seattle nonprofit that advocates for “safe and healthy streets” is forming a task force to imagine policing streets without armed officers. Is there any similar group in Portland doing this? If not, why not?

More electric car caution: There are many reasons to be skeptical of politicians and programs that herald the “electrification of the fleet”, including new research that shows harmful pollution caused from the erosion of car tires.

The Berkeley experiment: This California Bay Area city took a big step forward in their plans to create a new type of traffic enforcement model by passing an “omnibus” police reform ordinance that includes a new transportation division that will take over traffic stops.

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Fall dominoes, fall: City Observatory has a recap of all the recent bad news for ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter project.

Black versus white urbanism: Alissa Walker uses a rail-trail project in Atlanta to illustrate how white urban planners often make “improvements” that, “have almost universally failed to consider one thing: the effect they will have on the Black people who already live in those cities.”

E-bike for kids: Now that so many parents have bikes with motors, the little ones can get an extra boost to keep up with them!

New normal: Baltimore city planners have a new design guidebook and say the coronavirus crisis and urgency for racial justice have given them, “A tremendous opportunity to center equity and public health in how we rethink public spaces.”

Go for a ride: A woman who worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis in New York City needed a break so she flew to Portland, grabbed a bike off Craiglist and rode 3,500 miles across the country.

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

Can anyone here help define “black urbanism”? I’m coming to understand that “white urbanism” refers to adding bike lanes, upzoning, building swish new apartments, and de-epmhasizing automobile use. But “black urbanism” (if it’s really a thing) seems to be just an opposite reaction, primarily focused on avoiding anything that might trigger gentrification (especially bike lanes, upzoning, swish new apartments, and less car use), similar in effect to the false stereotypes about older white homeowners.

Is there more to it than that?

Roberta
Guest
Roberta

I would call Black Urbanism: Where policy decisions are centered on Black culture (public art), Black economics (accessibility) and Black FEMALE safety. Accept that these demographics have a different experience on the streets. How do we improve the experience of young Black females on the streets? Super difficult to put your head into that urban emotional head space as Black Urbanism. At least that’s the objective in my head. I volunteered at Sabin and seeing how the young Black female students experience the world informed these opinions. They are the bicycling unicorns, everybody else will follow.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

What would be some examples of urban planning policies that take account of “different experiences on the street”, especially those of young black females, that would differ from what a “white urbanist” policy might be?

You used the example of black art, but that doesn’t really strike me as something that falls under the rubric of “urbanism”, or as something that a “white urbanist” would take any issue with.

Are there other policies/practices you could cite?

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

I would second most of what Roberta has said here as examples of specific responses to thoughts below.

As with most things white v black, this seems mostly about power: it’s not so much about the specific improvement; it is about who asked for a change; it is about when they asked for a change; it is about whose request for change was honored (and when); it is about who was in mind when thinking of the project’s end user; it is about what benefits and impacts (and for whom) were measured.

Taking bike lanes as an example: they’ve long been marketed (by advocates and government officials) as a gentrifying tool. They still are marketed that way today. Bike lanes attract the “creative class”—the right people—to the street to spend money, to live, to increase property values and rents. There are clear beneficiaries to whom this pitch is designed to speak to and to motivate. It’s not that black people don’t bike or that bike lanes wouldn’t be designed exactly the same way if their interests were at the center of discussions. It’s that there would likely have been a more complete accounting of the benefits and burdens of bike lanes with additional measures brought to bear to shift the benefits and burdens so they didn’t fall so heavily on black folks.

Charley
Guest
Charley

I just double-checked your link to Better Hawthorne. I see no evidence that this website represents an attempt to use bike lanes as a gentrifying tool. Can you explain why you used it as an example? I do see a lot of marketing on the website that claims Better Hawthorne would increase space for safe walking during Covid, as well as increasing safety for crossing the street, etc. Are these things we should avoid doing, because of the risk of increasing rents in the surrounding neighborhood, and thus the displacement of people of color? Is the solution to keep neighborhoods less safe, so wealthier people don’t move into it? Thanks for any answers you’d like to give.

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

Second bullet point of the “Healthier Hawthorne will…” subsection on the front page reads as follows:

Help local businesses by making it safer and easier for people to bike directly to them (many studies show that protected bike lanes are great for business)

This links to a CityLab article referencing local research findings that people walking and biking spend more money on main streets than average.

This talking point and approach is specifically about attracting a different clientele to a street—a clientele more desirable to businesses because they have more money to spend at stores, feeding into the cycle I described in my earlier comment and connected to the intellectual lineage of bike infrastructure as a tool to effect neighborhood change explored in detail in the academic article I linked to.

It’s fine to celebrate that more people will feel safer and more comfortable accessing businesses by foot, rolling, and biking. It’s not fine to trumpet these benefits and ignore the now-well-known impacts, choosing not to wrestle with and address what making environments comfortable for wealthier white people often means for other people in those spaces. Dr. Destiny Thomas has a fantastic explanation for why this kind of stuff doesn’t benefit people of color as much and she doesn’t even have to account for the gentrification and displacement that such measures can exacerbate to make her case. Please take a few minutes to listen from where I have the video started. TL;DR: there’s a lot more to safety for folks than “is there a sidewalk to walk on or bike lane to ride in.” If you’ve got the time, listening through the whole presentation has given me much to think about.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Thanks for the link!
I really appreciated she says “There’s no problem with any of those amenities,” referring to bike lanes, greenspace, sidewalks, etc. But she lost me when she said that for generations, “being outside is innately harmful,” due to surveillance, pollution, and police abuse, and that this history is a “Crisis that we have got to resolve before we start dropping interventions onto the ground.” WHAT?! Like, people living in that neighborhood have to wait until the USA solves all these problems, before any safety improvements should be allowed in these neighborhoods? We can’t address the poisoning of Black bodies with pollution if we do not address the cars that produce pollution in many neighborhoods, for one. Furthermore, I’m all for dreaming big, but what if the USA doesn’t solve racism? Do majority Black neighborhoods get NO street improvements? Should we be building more freeways through, just to make sure???

She gets back on to firm ground when we says we need to stop housing speculation. I don’t know of a mechanism that prevents a Black homeowner from selling a house in a majority Black neighborhood to a wealthy white buyer offering a higher price than a competing Black buyer, but it does seem like there are regulations that might help Black people and Black businesses stay and thrive in these neighborhoods.

This gets to my main feeling about this, and encapsulates my problem with so many articles and editorials about this subject. There are so many good solutions to our country’s history of violence against Black people: reparations, voting reforms, defunding the police, prison abolition, affirmative action, etc. These solutions go directly to the heart of the matter! They’re all big lifts, but hopefully we’ll make some progress on them. I get that transportation activists want to be anti-racist, and are looking for ways to help. That’s all well and good. But the physics of greenhouse gases or speeding autos doesn’t depend on race, while the legal system, housing discrimination, and implicit bias all have direct connections to race in America. Why aren’t we focusing on tackling these root reasons for the seven-year-old to want to stay inside? Why are we instead trying to protect the seven-year-old by making sure that the street outside has as many cars as possible, a substandard sidewalk, and no bike facility? That’s better???

There’s more for me to watch, but it’s late and I’ll check it out tomorrow.

Charley
Guest
Charley

As to Better Hawthorne, that quote doesn’t mention anything about the race of the people involved, but I guess we’ll take it as a given that if the people that businesses would like to attract are going to spend more money, the operating assumption is that they’re probably white. Given that, I can see that if a number of businesses on
a given street are arguing for safe bike access that could be seen as an attempt to improve their income, and thus improve their financial situation, and replace BIPOC with white people. I guess if you view it that way, merely trying to improve your business makes you is a cog in the gentrification machine! Would you rather that they make their businesses unattractive or difficult to access? It would probably make the area less comfortable for wealthier white people. Would that be anti-racist? Or, maybe more directly to your point, how would a business owner who wants to be a safe destination for a person riding a bike “wrestle with and address” the centuries-old violence against Black people? Isn’t that a big ask of, say, an ice cream shop or a florist? Or are you just saying that they should be nice to Black people when they come in? Put up a Black Lives Matter sign? I’m not sure about the intended scope here: is it ethical to run a business and try to improve it at all, if there’s a chance that, in bettering the neighborhood, rents increase and Black people move somewhere else?

The feeling gnawing at the back of my brain is the anger at powerful people and institutions who have gotten very good at pitting the disadvantaged and minorities against each other- even different kinds of minorities. For example, Black people pitted against users of active transportation. We’ve seen it in national politics in how union members in the Midwest have been pitted against immigrants, or in how female athletes are being pitted against trans athletes. We’d be so much stronger working together! But the focus in Urbanism right now seems to be the idea that Urbanists can’t do anything right, and therefore should just not do anything?! That makes no sense!

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

Thank you for thinking and engaging on this so deeply, Charley.

First, we agree on many things:

>The urgency of the climate change situation and the simple fact that (especially locally) we need people to drive GHG-emitting vehicles less if we want to do our part to curb climate change.

>That we can’t fully address the “poisoning of black bodies” if we don’t take on tailpipe emissions

>That there are many good and well-known remedies to racial disparities, though more work needs to be done to understand the dimension/magnitude of the disparities and the proper dimension/magnitude of the solutions.

>That people who can spend more money is often code for white because of this country’s history

>That there is likely an element of those most powerful pitting constituencies against one another to fight over table scraps while they are living high on the hog

I sense a lot of frustration with the perceived implications of the priorities of black people when it comes to the allocation of resources in urban planning. It must be frustrating to hear that your priorities and your definition of safety are not really those of a constituency long disenfranchised—that their experience of the same physical space is so significantly different from yours. But if you accept that their experience differs so significantly (and it sounds like you do), you should also accept that bringing about safety and well-being for black folks is going to involve different things.

To start, let’s stop jumping to straw men constructs of what all this means (e.g. “Why are we instead trying to protect the seven-year-old by making sure that the street outside has as many cars as possible, a substandard sidewalk, and no bike facility?”); it does not help to polarize the conversation in this way. Let’s be curious together; let’s start by deconstructing the straw men.

Prioritizing black and brown people:

>doesn’t mean business owners can’t advocate to improve businesses

>doesn’t mean property values can’t/shouldn’t go up

>doesn’t mean we can’t build bike lanes, complete streets, or other amenities that appear to attract wealthier white people (but that can also be good for people who aren’t wealthy and white)

>doesn’t mean we have to solve racism before we can do any other climate change work (though solving climate change can and should be used to solve racism)

>doesn’t mean we must preserve space for driving and parking or even double down on the current system

But right now, the windfall of our current approach has not primarily been enjoyed by the black and brown folks living in this city. That is what needs to change. You are right that there isn’t “anything about race of people involved” mentioned in Healthier Hawthorne or the city’s approach to changing people’s behavior through changing their physical environment. As a society, we have said that something is racist if it is explicitly discriminatory. And we have done a good job of branding speech, practice, and policy that is explicitly discriminatory as such and banishing them as the morally vacuous and abhorrent expressions that they are. It is now time for us to evolve our understanding of what is racist: if we truly believe that all people are equal but we are still seeing life disparities that fall along lines of race, racism is still in place, whether anyone is being intentional about its existence or not; it was never enough just to eliminate explicitly racist acts. Racist must be a label that applies to acts (speech, practice, and policy) that entrench or do nothing to dislodge disparate life outcomes that fall along the lines of race (Dr. Kendi has much more to say on this). Figuring out what that looks like in our individual lives, in the work we do, and in the institutions that serve us is work for each one of us to do and work for us to do together.

This is a lot of what Dr. Thomas means when she says, “you’re assuming that [insert amenity] will benefit everyone, even people who have never been invested in, and that’s simply not the case.” People of color are not as well-positioned to take advantage of the interventions you and many others on this blog champion. The objections you are hearing from black people in this space are not mainly about the amenities themselves; they are about the intentional and disparate positioning that causes and has caused interventions to result in displacement, harassment, over-policing, higher commission of and exposure to crime, higher incarceration rates, longer commutes, higher exposure to pollution, higher exposure to the impacts of climate change, lower generational wealth, lower educational and professional attainment—and on the list goes. To the extent that objections you are hearing are about specific amenities, it is often because the amenities coming into their neighborhoods are not things BIPOC folks have asked for. Meanwhile, there are long lists of things they have been asking for that would benefit, enrich, and stabilize them in their condition that have not been granted (e.g. black folks have been asking for community investment and stabilization of the kind we are only now considering since at least the 1960s (hell, white people have been asking for that on behalf of black people that long)).

So it is messy and frustrating. But hopefully I’ve made clearer why you’ve been hearing some of the things you have. And why an infrastructure-only approach to securing safety is a mixed bag for people of color in a way it’s not for others. I don’t have all the answers; I’m no oracle. I don’t imagine I’ve even managed to answer many of your questions. But I’ve hopefully offered a perspective and resources that with additional rumination can lead us all to ask better questions and get to answers that uplift us all.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It is frustrating to have concrete proposals answered with very abstract and tenuous yet adamant objections. What I respond well to are concrete counter-proposals.

We have to do something (or nothing) on Hawthorne. Let’s make sure there is a low-racism option in the mix so we can compare it to our other options and the value they bring along other dimensions, so we can make the best decision we can.

If the Better Hawthorne proposal is racist, what would a non-racist rebuild look like?

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

I’m actually with you on this. The reason I got involved in the realm of equity work is because I got tired of running into “equity concerns” while trying to implement things I thought had absolutely no connection and getting no clear guidance on how to move forward in a way that addressed equity. I too would much prefer an actionable answer that allowed an informed decision than something vague. But here we are.

If you feel the “objections” I and others have made are “tenuous”, then you may as well stop reading and disengage on the topic. It doesn’t seem like you think this is an important issue, which is your prerogative.

You speak of frustration. What is also frustrating is asking to be treated fairly at the hands of police, asking for help to solve crime and gang violence in your neighborhood, asking for help to solve drug abuse, asking for investment in jobs and education programs, asking for permission to improve your home and community, asking to halt community-destroying urban renewal, asking for community stabilization—and then to be met with silence (and worse) for decades. And then comes a flood of white people, public resources for them to nest, and public investments that change the environment to make them comfortable—and folks asking “but how do I make my bike lanes not racist?”

It is a question that needs to be answered, but do you see the above through-line that makes answering it complex, not to mention kind of absurd? We are talking about addressing needs that are of totally different kind and magnitude; in the face of such monstrous problems and disparities, bike lanes miss the mark as a solution and a discussion of them doesn’t really feel relevant. Now, being on the other side of things, I understand the lack of direct answers I got on the topic in a previous life. And it doesn’t come from an intellectual bankruptcy but from the staggering size and complexity of the problem—to the point where it is hard to know what actions will and won’t reinforce current disparities; that is where some of the vagaries and paralysis come from; “knowing the right thing to do” has too often led all of us the wrong way. Getting here has made me realize I shouldn’t feel chastened because I defined a complex problem and I don’t have a specific solution in hand.

I’d like to puzzle one out with folks that accept or are at least comfortable with the premises I’ve laid out here and elsewhere in the comment section and/or the lived experiences of people of color. But I don’t know that this is the place for puzzling. As others have said before me, the internet generally and this place specifically have become places that don’t encourage intellectual exploration, risk taking, or being wrong.

Maybe a just a little bit of napkin math puzzling, though…

First, we need to know what our north star is: a future where identity is not a reliable predictor of one’s station in life. To the extent we are dismantling this, we are doing anti-racist/equity work.

Secondly, I referenced the Healthier Hawthorne design concept not because the design concept itself was racist but that part of the rhetoric used to convince people it is worth exploring is just the most recent local example of the idea that infrastructure investment is a tool for attracting different people than are currently there—in this case, a person able to spend more money at businesses. I argue that designing infrastructure to serve that end can be problematic in situations where you have destabilized communities who can be displaced by economic or social factors. I don’t know (but don’t think) this is the situation with Hawthorne.

But let’s focus on Hawthorne’s equity bonafides anyway.

Another connection to equity could be the extent to which this project impacts transit, which connects the lower income areas of FoPo and Lents with jobs on Hawthorne and downtown. This could go both ways—if you slow transit, you negatively impact these riders, if they are indeed using transit through this area, but if you make it faster and/or improve the service in some other way, you may make FoPo and Lents marginally more attractive to people who have a choice about if they live near good quality transit. It seems silly to make transit worse or not improve it if it is easy to do so. So we should then look at what needs to be done (perhaps beyond the confines of a transportation project) to make sure the benefits of the improvements can be shared.

We could continue through the different groups of people who use or could use Hawthorne as a result of a different design and measure the benefits and burdens and then choose an option that casts those benefits and burdens in an anti-racist way. And if the benefits and burdens can’t be cast in an anti-racist way while still supporting the goals of the project, the scope of the project needs to be broadened to encompass measures that can ensure the project chips away at disparities, which will probably involve community stabilization measures.

I’ve tried to leave it general-ish but slightly actionable for application elsewhere. Feel free to puzzle further or tear it apart or leave it. We’ve much work to do.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Thanks Kana O. I’ve learned something from this thread.

I like the direction you’re going with enumerating impacts on existing residents, bullet point by bullet point. It feels like a process that we can follow to reach a more anti-racist design, and that feels like positive progress. I will be happy to join/listen to that kind of discussion any time (even if I can’t offer much to it).

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

Thanks MaddHatter.

The ideas you lay out in the thread below are both more succinct and specific than what I’ve written above; you definitely have something to offer in this dialogue.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The objections are tenuous, and by that I don’t mean that racism is unimportant, just that the complaint is difficult to assess because it is unclear what it really means in terms of project variables that can be adjusted.

While I do not agree that “spending more at local businesses” is racial code for anything, I disagree even more strongly that a proposal should be judged on the racial or non-racial arguments made by a single proponent, especially when they are not particularly credible in the first place. If we allowed that, I could eliminate any proposal I disliked by claiming fascists would like them. Maybe fascists would like better bike lanes, but that’s no basis to oppose them. Likewise, an unsubstantiated claim that riders will spend more money in local shops than drivers is not particularly relevant to an objective evaluation of whether protected bike lanes are a good idea. At most, the veracity and consequences of such a claim demand closer study, but it should not be taken at face value.

You did make one concrete point, which is that the speed of buses through the corridor is important to folks living in Lents. I’m not sure I would agree that this is a racial issue, but it is not important that we see that the same way in order to evaluate and consider the impact on corridor travel times to people using Hawthorne to commute.

I don’t know what Better Hawthorne’s impact on corridor travel times would be, but it seems a reasonable question to ask. To me, how a street performs for more distant users is less important than how it works for more proximate stakeholders, but this is a philosophical view we can discuss (it’s how I approach every project, and I acknowledge it has limits).

In the end, if you feel the consequences on through-travelers is an important factor to consider, ask the planners to evaluate it and add it to the mix. It has merits that can be discussed and stakeholders can provide input on how much weight to give it. It’s a legitimate issue that can be evaluated alongside issues and factors raised by others.

Charley
Guest
Charley

First, thanks for taking the time and writing clearly about the subject. Also, Better Hawthorne’s effect on transit is a useful example. Here’s the problem I see: if better transit times from Hawthorne to Lents have a marginally positive effect on the livability of Lents, won’t it have a marginally positive effect (increase) on rents in Lents? Won’t it, then, have a undesirable outcome, if we’re trying to maintain low rents? Don’t we want to maintain low rents in order to prevent people from being displaced- i.e., gentrification? I realize this example has less clear of a race angle, but I think it’s a good example of the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” world that urban development is living through.

I totally understand that Urban Development has been a methodology of intentionally harming Black communities. It may still be, in places. And I’ll assume as a given that white urban planners have harmed and still are, through ignorance and implicit bias, unintentionally harming Black communities. But if we start digging deep into second and third order effects, we can find that Black people are harmed by just about anything anyone does! For example, buying gasoline contributes to the pollution from oil refineries, many of which are intentionally located near Black neighborhoods. On the other hand, buying padded bike shorts made with Spandex in order to ride a bike to work puts money into the hands of the Koch Brothers, whose successful anti-government lobbying effort has prevented many policies that would have helped Black communities.
_
The solution to this ethical quandary is really simple: to assume that we are all individually corrupted, complicit, stained by the injustice and racism on this planet, and we cannot wash that away. There’s nothing you can do to be free of this guilt. So just let go! Now, with that done, we can look to see what’s the central cause of the harm, and work to address that cause! Hint: the central cause is not bike lanes or wide sidewalks.

Black people end up harmed because of so many huge problems that we should be tackling head on. I know everyone wants to play a part, but sometimes I do wonder if, instead of flogging our white selves and coming up with feel-good “solutions” in our professional domains that don’t really, really help, we should be pouring our money, effort, and time into truly un-$@#&ing our political system in favor of equity. What about statehood for DC and Puerto Rico? How about making sure that the Supreme Court isn’t packed with white Catholic conservatives who love nothing more than striking down affirmative action programs?

It’s a measure of our broken politics that, instead of George Floyd’s killing catalyzing a shift to policies that would help Black people immediately and powerfully, we’ve been limited to smaller, more symbolic actions (these may be important, and many represent sincere attempts to honor the emotions of Black people). When a single party, representing a minority of voters, can put a hold on somethings so clearly, dearly needed, our country no longer looks like a democracy.

So, I get it. We allies don’t have the power to make big changes, and some of BLM’s most vocal allies will probably even sit out the election in November, because they’re not satisfied with Biden, or think the Democrats are just the same, yada, yada, yada. So, trying to figure out how to make urban planning anti-racist is probably all that some people feel like they can do. But there are bigger, more direct solutions than tying ourselves in knots, trying to avoid rent increases or angry NIMBY citizens who have figured out a way to shut down any argument. We should focus on those bigger solutions. It may even be that this relentless breaking down of things that actually work (greenspaces, bike paths, neighborhood improvements), sours the project of anti-racism for some people, because it’s a pretty big logical stretch, and the movement starts to look less attractive if all it can accomplish is elevate the innocuous to horrific, and then try to tear it down.

Examples:
– Unless we can abrogate the reality of supply and demand, improvements in neighborhood quality will spur rent increases, which hit Black people harder than whites. The solution is not to hold back neighborhoods from improvement somehow, but to lift up Black people’s economics. If Black people have just as much income and wealth as white people, we wouldn’t be in the position of trying to hold communities together by refusing to improve them. Reparations would be a start.
– Surveillance on the streets is a problem, but making narrower sidewalks with poor lighting and walls that obstruct views is not a solution. The problem isn’t CPTED, it’s cops and Karens. So, we should increase penalties for calling the cops on Black folks minding their own business, and defund the police to begin with.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

The solution is not to hold back neighborhoods from improvement somehow, but to lift up Black people’s economics.

I don’t think anybody is advocating withholding improvements or trying to make the situation even worse in predominantly poor or Black communities. I think they are asking for what you just said yourself there: lift up the community, don’t force it out. And do it as part of one and the same project that’s making the improvements, so both happen together. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

The “improvement is bad” argument is a straw man. And the goal isn’t “keep rent low”, it’s “don’t drive out existing residents”. Keeping rent low would be one way to not drive out existing residents, but it’s not the only way, and improvement projects need to consider how to improve AND not drive out existing residents, even in the face of some potential rent increases.

Lance Cerny
Guest
Lance Cerny

In addition to what Roberta and Kana said, there is also an aspect that is probably more accurately described as “historical preservation” than “urbanism”. Identifying culturally significant places and things and seeing that they are preserved to act as anchors for the community in danger of getting gentrified out.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

There are many natural allies for things such as historic preservation and a cautious approach to redevelopment. Presenting this as a racial issue may make it harder to build the alliances needed to prevail on these sorts of issues.

qqq
Guest
qqq

Possibly, but in some historic preservation efforts, race is a central component. For instance, N/NE Portland has buildings that should be preserved because they housed black businesses, clubs, and institutions when the area was the hub of black life in Portland. Other than for that reason, the buildings may not be particularly notable or worth preserving.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

We preserve things all the time for their cultural importance. Saving a building was important to the black community is not racializing the issue of historic preservation; it’s doing it properly. I can’t imagine any historic preservationist would disagree.

qqq
Guest
qqq

I gave an example of race being a central component in some historic preservation efforts. I didn’t say it was “racializing the issue…” whatever that means.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

You gave an example of how community importance was central to historic preservation efforts.

qqq
Guest
qqq

And race was the defining feature of that community.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Thank you to Roberta and Kana O. for the clear, helpful explanations.

Charley
Guest
Charley

That’s one of the best ways I’ve heard yet to help with this issue. Honestly, I’ve been pretty unconvinced as to the racist intent of putting bike lanes or other safety improvements into majority Black neighborhoods. It has seemed like safety improvements, as best we understand them, should be at the heart of how we work on improving Black neighborhoods. I mean, wasn’t it racist that our cities dis-invested in safety in those neighborhoods in the first place? I never believed that the solution, as was offered in the case of North Williams and other Albina/Mississippi projects, was to increase motor vehicle parking, increase motor vehicle travels lanes, and reduce the mileage or width of bike lanes.

Your suggestion offers one way out of this mess. You’ve framed it in the positive, and it’s actually actionable. It could also help bypass anti-bike sentiment that derails constructive progress.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Painted bike lanes, the 5-7 foot wide kind, were never about bicyclist safety, even if they were sold to us white mamil suckers as such. They were always meant to keep cars away from the curb and gutter, the weakest section of the roadway, or away from parked cars and the accumulated garbage on the roadway. Honestly, how much safety is a painted line ever going to give you?

The issue isn’t so much of what infrastructure improvement was made and when, but rather did the existing community ask for it? Did they have an active voice in designing the final product, or were they ultimately ignored?

On a certain level in many cities it is about white versus black. More generally it’s about the establishment versus the disenfranchised. But even more specifically, it’s about a central bureaucracy that tends to be overwhelmingly white and predominantly male who decide what decisions the elected bodies can make, which tends to be dominated by the rich and influential, especially property developers, realtors, property lawyers, and others who will be materially benefited by keeping control over local government, transportation, land use, and regulatory functions (including police.) The rest of us poor schlocks – Black, Latinx, Indo-European, Asian, First Nations, etc – are left out in the cold. The best we can do is advocate and agitate.

Charley
Guest
Charley

As the recent flap about the safety rail on the Historic Columbia River Highway makes clear, even if it’s just “a painted line,” space on a roadway makes a big difference in our experience riding bikes. Do you think ODOT shouldn’t bother to listen to cyclists? Is it no big deal to put a safety rail on that shoulder that cyclists have been using?

I’ve been hit by a car before, and the psychological benefit of riding in a space that the city has designated for my safe use should not be undervalued. If I need to ride to a destination on a busy street, I’ll feel far more comfortable in a bike lane. If that’s true for me, even though I’m relatively strong and fearless, how much more true for more skittish people? And if they prefer a safer space, too, how much more likely that they’ll actually ride a bike somewhere if there is some kind of bike lane? I’m not a purist in terms of the quality of our infrastructure. Wider, better separated spaces probably are safer from cars in a physical sense, but more importantly, we need to get people riding, because the experience will inform how they vote. The more pro-bike voters, the more pro-bike policies. We have to think big and we have to make as many improvements as we can, even as small or symbolic, as the those improvements might seem to some of us.

As to the question of who’s asking for these improvements, I think it’s clear: in the question of the example I gave, the people living in the neighborhood who used the smaller, substandard bike lanes on Williams were asking for the improvements. It’s an uncomfortable place to be: whose lives matter more? The white, Black, and other people whose bodies are at risk while riding bikes on Williams, or the Black people who don’t like bike lanes because the bike lanes are associated with gentrification, and they don’t want to lose parking spaces or fast motor vehicle travel lanes?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Frankly, the notion that a painted line provides no safety is hogwash. Drivers all over the world rely on exactly this to keep from killing one another in high-speed head-on crashes (where the metal skin of a car provides little protection).

The rarity of bikists being hit from behind while in a bike lane attests to the efficacy of “just paint”.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Then why are protected bike lanes any sort of priority? If standard bike lanes work as well as you say, why should we be spending our valuable tax dollars (and our advocacy efforts) to get any protected lanes built?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Psychology? Comfort for new cyclists? Personally, high-speed roads like Greeley excepted, I’m not spending much of my advocacy effort on protected bike lanes, and given the number of them I see around, I don’t think we’re spending much tax money on them either.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Is there infrastructure that would make a Black female feel safe while at the same time not making a neighborhood more desirable and thereby triggering gentrification?

Can you give some examples of what this looks like in practice? The article mentions the BeltLine and makes a casual reference to rent increase but then wanders away into just the general problems of systemic racism, which are valid but don’t help the reader understand how Black urbanism could have avoided the problems, real or imagined, that are associated with the BeltLine project.

IMO it’s the same thought that bike lanes on N Williams caused gentrification around the street. It’s not that the bikes lanes caused gentrification, gentrification, unfortunately, causes bike lanes because the affluent white policy makers ignore BIPOC communities until the time is ripe for gentrification. A great example of this is the the area around 82nd/I-205.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Yes! This is the problem with so many articles about the subject. “Here’s a nice thing some planners did in a neighborhood. . . whoops now more people (white people!) want to live there (we’ll carefully ignore the possibility that we may have confused causation with correlation), and the rents are going up. Those planners must be racist!”

That’s just SUCH a stretch of logic. And even if it were true, the only solution seems to be making sure that majority Black neighborhoods truly suck, so that white people won’t move in. Isn’t that just the same as the bad old days of making neighborhoods suck because Black people live there? Has anyone figured out how to abrogate the reality of supply and demand? Has anyone figured out how to legally make a neighborhood safe, healthy, attractive, and racially segregated?

There are so many good solutions to systemic injustice: reparations, affirmative action, prison abolition, etc. These solutions go directly to the heart of our country’s history and culture of violence against Black people. I understand that urban planners want to be anti-racist right now, just like everyone else. That’s great, but I don’t think the solution is to revert to 1960’s era big cars and big streets style urbanism. Why insist on safer, greener infrastructure for white people only???

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Yeah, even in the comments its circular. Just “It would better because it would be better”.

I think at least a portion of it is just guilt. Urban planners are passionate about improving neighborhoods but their work has the inherent effect of driving out the current residents of the neighborhood they want to improve. They then are caught in a trap of “We want to make things better but if we do it actually makes things worse, so maybe we should just keep things broken but we really want to make things better”.

Oh well

Charley
Guest
Charley

Agreed. I think every neighborhood should be nice and safe, and this goal is sort of separate from the broader anti-racist solutions that are real and meaningful. It’s an emotional conversation, and there’s got to be a way to have it without hurting Black people, but we can’t lose sight of reason: it’s Police and banks and the legal system and implicit bias and on and on. . . not bike lanes, not wider sidewalks, not greenspaces. The solution in the domain of traffic safety cannot be to do nothing regarding traffic safety. That’s madness.

If I’m wrong, and bike lanes actually are an affront to any community that doesn’t want them, then we’d have to stop putting them into white neighborhoods that don’t want them, too. Again, madness.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

It’s not that hard, I think. If you’re going to build bike lanes and green spaces and wide sidewalks and so on, look at the people who live there already. What impact will those things have on them? If one of the impacts is “housing will become unaffordable and they’ll be forced out” then you can’t just shrug and say “oh, well”. That’s the difference. Instead, you have to grapple with what to do about that problem. Maybe those bike lanes and sidewalks need to include some business loan assistance to the existing businesses in the area so they can expand, improve, and hire more people? Maybe there are some levers within zoning and housing codes to support existing residents? If a lot of the community rents, maybe you need to have a discussion with landlords about what can keep those rents from spiraling. What are those bike lanes and sidewalks going to do to transit and other existing services on which community members rely? Concrete answers will depend on the particulars of each community and project. And you won’t get answers without involving the community. But those are the kinds of questions that must be answered and not ignored. Those are the kinds of questions we’ve not been very good at answering in so many of our efforts to date.

I’m on this journey just like many others, but that’s what I’ve been learning so far.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Those are solutions that more directly tackle the big problems! Great!

What should PBOT do, though, when it sees an opportunity for a safety improvement in Albina/Mississippi? PBOT doesn’t give business loans, write zoning code, rental regulations, or determine mass transit policies. (PBOT also can’t regulate predatory banks that give crappy loans, punish businesses that won’t hire someone with a Black coded name, or stop cops from harassing Black people, etc). PBOT paves roads, paints lanes, etc. Maybe PBOT should just sit this one out. . . don’t want anyone to get offended.

Part of my thinking about this subject is due to the experience of seeing the neighborhood rise up against PBOT over the Williams Avenue bike lane expansion: the public meetings generated a list of problems over which PBOT had no control or authority, and which a wider bike lane would neither solve nor exacerbate. Have you ever seen Parks and Recreation? Have you seen the public meetings scenes? It was all well and good for people to voice negative feelings about the City, but the main effect was to delay necessary safety improvements, and force the City to spend a lot of money on more meetings and planning. There was a little public art, right? Maybe that’s not meaningless, but is this a good way for a City to grow?
I can read it one of two ways:
1. The more charitable read: a community which does not have many levers of power is essentially handed a lever when asked to comment on a City project. When they’ve been treated so poorly, and lived with so little power for so long, simply being afforded an opportunity to shout “NO!” might be expected, no matter the project, the scope of the project, or its degree of relevance to the real problems of the community. Even if PBOT is a wildly inappropriate agency to petition for redress for centuries of nation-wide oppression, it’s the only agency likely to show up in the neighborhood in the form of progressive, well meaning, sympathetic public servants, asking for input, and sensitive to claims of racism.
2. The less charitable read: people around Williams did not want bike lanes for the same reason people in most neighborhoods don’t really want bike lanes, regardless of race (loss of parking, scofflaw bikers, those bikers don’t pay road taxes bs, etc). However, they were able to game the City’s good faith outreach by connecting the project to a legitimate but unrelated list of grievances.

(You might notice that I’ve not mentioned an interpretation of the controversy in which the community rationally assessed that widening the bike lane would somehow raise the rent. A rational observer would note that there was already a bike lane in that location, and
the PBOT proposal concerned its width, as well as removal of parking and travel lanes (this really got people angry, which reminds me of Read #2). A rational observer might also have noted that the neighborhood had been getting more expensive for a long time- for a long time, it was the least expensive, least developed neighborhood that close to downtown. It was like a secret that cannot be kept).

So, do you see the reason for my skepticism that PBOT in particular, and urban planning in general, is a weak or inappropriate venue for solving racism?

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

You raise a good point about PBOT’s limited power, but imagine you’re an affected resident and PBOT’s limited and well-intentioned efforts will ultimately force you to move, increase your commute or maybe force you to find a new job, and lose contact with the community where you’d finally begun to feel safe and at home. Do you tell PBOT to go stuff it? Or welcome the improvements and start packing your things? That’s a horrible choice, and complaining about how it’s a terrible choice has fallen on deaf ears for years. Meanwhile PBOT says “solving that problem is beyond our scope” and you’re forced out in the end anyway.

Sure, lots of things are beyond PBOT’s scope, but that *cannot* be the end of it unless we’re comfortable perpetuating the status quo and its record on racial impact. If PBOT acting as an island of an agency is part of the problem, then PBOT needs to stop acting like an island and start getting the rest of government involved. If the rest of government can’t establish some common goals that multiple departments work together on, then the rest of government needs to get itself sorted out or be voted out. “That’s not my problem” just isn’t acceptable anymore.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Thought experiment: had the area around the Foster Transportation and Streetscape Project been a majority Black neighborhood, would the street improvements have gone through? Remember the vocal opposition from Foster Fuel and Euro-Trash Furniture? What if they were important Black-owned businesses in a historically Black majority neighborhood? Can you imagine the city pushing past that noisy opposition in that case? It’s an example of a good project that may make the community greener and safer. All citizens deserve this kind of investment, no matter their race or neighborhood. What’s the future of urban planning if planners start bypassing Black neighborhoods because it’s not worth the risk?

James S
Guest
James S

Im not an expert on black urbanism, but I do know about hispanic urbanism.

One of the big differences is how white american people see small business. No, I dont mean the local restaurant that pulls $10m a year, I mean the street vendor who wants to set up a folding table in the park to sell some homemade items. White urbanism sees that as something that needs to be regulated out of existence. Earlier today, I attended a public meeting where (white) people were demanding stronger sign ordinances to stop the horrible scourge of sandwich boards local businesses were using to advertise. I can’t imagine the heart attack if someone tried to set up a churro stand.

In fact white urbanism in general includes tons of regulation. And when police are tasked with enforcing the regulation, guess who gets targeted?

Further down the conversation, someone asked why a black woman would be opposed to safety “improvements”. Well, perhaps a black woman is worried about crime and sexual harassment. But while “white urbanism” might call for more police, the black woman might prefer no police were added because she knows her innocent brother would be constantly harassed by them.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Well, I think fewer police sounds great! That’s an actual solution to an actual problem!

Folding tables with small vendors in a park might be very nice! Except, if we follow some of the logic here, that would be racist, because apparently greenspaces are racist. Maybe a wider sidewalk would allow for a churro stand? Actually, wider sidewalks are just to make white people feel more comfortable. Again, racist. So, sorry, there’s no space for a churro stand. This is the problem with the arguments I’m hearing so far.

(This video explains why wider sidewalks and greenspaces can not be implemented until the history of racism is somehow solved: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy1qspuVnkw&feature=youtu.be&t=1613 )

James S
Guest
James S

“apparently greenspaces are racist”

There’s no need to throw out ridiculous red herrings like this.

That being said, everybody likes parks. But when a park is built with ten tennis courts and zero basketball courts, it’s sending a (racist) message.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Maybe you haven’t heard it before, but I was parroting the now very common shorthand “such-and-such is racist.” I wish it were true that this is a red herring. Unfortunately, it is not. If you’d like specific examples that don’t merely use the common shorthand, but instead go into great depth as to why greenspaces are racist:
https://brownpoliticalreview.org/2015/11/the-whiteness-of-green-spaces/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy1qspuVnkw&feature=youtu.be&t=1613
https://newrepublic.com/article/157870/racist-gatekeepers-american-land

Charley
Guest
Charley

And I agree entirely that building parks which intentionally don’t have basketball courts is sending a racist message.

James S
Guest
James S

The first article mostly talks about how park investments are in richer (whiter) areas, while poorer area do not get the new parks. That is true. The point isnt that parks are racist, it’s that the investments and power is.

The second article is a much broader look at the history or public park space, which is also factual. A common example is in NYC, where Robert Moses build new parks only accessible to people in private cars, while ensuring public transit (ir, poorer, less white people) could not access those spaces. So same issue. The parks arent racist, the people who built them were.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Maybe you and I are observing different media! I hear people say “that’s racist” fairly regularly. It’s a shorthand for the longer, more verbose descriptions you’ve read in those articles. “They only put parks in white neighborhoods? That’s racist!”

What’s interesting is that we’re now learning (you watched the video, right?) that it’s racist to put a park in a black neighborhood, because doing so makes white people more comfortable, and thus will raise rents and gentrify. Great. So it was racist not to put parks in Black neighborhoods before, but now it’s racist to put a park in a black neighborhood. In other words, “that’s racist.”

Just in case I’m not being clear with my sarcasm: I do not agree with this position. I do not think that locating a park in a Black neighborhood is a racist undertaking. In fact, I believe that Black people should have access to bike lanes, parks, wide sidewalks, etc., and that the idea that urban planners should refrain from advocating for such amenities is a step backwards.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

I tried to warn you so many times. . . .enjoy your sacred diver city

squareman
Subscriber

Wut? ( ⧉ ⦣ ⧉ )

squareman
Subscriber

Seriously, what is even being said here? ‘Cause I don’t get it. ¯\\_(ツ)_/¯

squareman
Subscriber

Did you mean “sacred driver” — if so, to what story or comment is that in reference to? Your comment is bare without context.

Or is “sacred diver” a really bad Ronnie James Dio reference and non-sequitur?

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

diver city = diversity

me thinks

squareman
Subscriber

Thank you, I appreciate it. That totally went “whoosh” over my head.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Maybe Rain Waters been down too long in the midnight sea?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Electric cars may marginally make “tyre” (silly Brits) wear worse because they are heavier, but they also reduce particulate emissions from degrading brake linings because regenerative breaking doesn’t involve wearing of components.

And, of course, EVs have no local combustion-related emissions, greatly reducing urban pollution, and their increased efficiency reduces pollution everywhere, which makes them more attractive for protecting human and environmental health.

EVs are hardly a panacea, but they are a big improvement over the status quo.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

in Seattle, research has shown compounds in car tire particles is responsible for salmon mortality BEFORE spawning. Sigh,

pruss2ny
Guest
pruss2ny

HK
i think in praising EVs u point out 2 of their biggest flaws:
– no LOCAL emissions just means a wealthy urban society is likely foisting emissions onto a less wealthy rural society that is paid to produce the power.

– “increased efficiencies”? i understand we are horribly inefficient at transfering power to a battery format and then into a car…not to mention the batteries eventually are replaced and become toxic waste themselves

not against the dream, just not convinced b/c i can’t get past the reality

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Local vs remote emissions: If the energy source is coal you might have a point, but we’re phasing that out. Solar and wind are growing, and emit many fewer pollutants at the point of generation. Gas powered vehicles offer no hope for generating their energy at or near the point of use, or of upgrading themselves as our generation technology evolves.

Increased efficiency: Yes; electric cars are far more efficient despite transmission and storage losses.

EVs have several advantages over conventional vehicles: Energy efficient. EVs convert over 77% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 12%–30% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.

https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml#:~:text=EVs%20have%20several%20advantages%20over,to%20power%20at%20the%20wheels.

As I said above, EVs are not going to fix everything, but they are much better than our current generation of technology in terms of pollution and human health.

pruss2ny
Guest
pruss2ny

(deleted…i was being tedious…apologies)

B. Carfree
Subscriber
B. Carfree

I have a lot of trouble wrapping my head around our being able to green up the grid if we maintain anywhere near our current level of wearing cars while transitioning them to electric.

I guess that’s my biggest issue with the e-car rah rah. It comes across as a push to keep the car-intensive lifestyle. The not insignificant, but still relatively small compared to our needs, reduction in GHG emissions over the lifetime of an e-car vs ICE car (the big embodied emissions cut into their reduced operating emissions) are overwhelmed by the way car centric roads/lifestyles/planning negatively impact everyone’s ability and desire to walk/bicycle/ebicycle/scooter/skateboard/whatever.

Jeff Allen
Guest

Just posted long response at the top, so here I’ll just say that even Amsterdam still has hundreds of thousands of cars and is pushing to electrify them. We need to do all of the above. And a ~80% reduction in CO2, which is what EVs provide, is not what I would call insignificant…!

pruss2ny
Guest
pruss2ny

honest question: are u saying EVs, regardless of source of power, provide an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions? or are u saying EVs powered by solar/wind?

Jeff Allen
Guest

Well first it’s not me – it’s UCS analysis. But they found average EV in the US on average grid power is 75% less CO2, yes. In Pacific NW it’s even better b/c our grid is cleaner. And nationwide, those figures have gotten 10% cleaner in just the last 2 years, b/c grid is getting cleaner.

Jon
Guest
Jon

With regards to electric vehicles, fossil fuel powered vehicles have tires also so they emit combustion products, brake pad materials, tire particles, and require engine oil changes. Electric vehicles don’t emit any combustion products in our neighborhoods and don’t use friction brakes very much. Electric vehicles are an improvement over fossil fuel powered vehicles and are much more efficient. Barefoot walking is the lowest impact way to travel and impact increases until you probably get to private jet transport. Perfect should never stop us from trying to improve. Every fossil fuel vehicle replaced with an electric car is a win. Replacing a fossil fuel vehicle by human powered bicycle is a much bigger win.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

Determining if electric vehicles are more efficient than fossil fuel burning vehicles can depend on the energy source used to create the electricity used to charge the battery. In the best case of an EV in a warm climate charged from an electric grid mostly fueled by hydro power it might well be true. But in a worst case of an EV in a cold climate charged with electricity coming from a coal fired power plant the total efficiency of the EV may be much lower given the limited efficiency of the coal plant, the grid losses getting the power to the home, and the charging losses, plus the extra energy that EV’s need to dump in to heating the passenger compartment that comes from waste heat on the fossil burner. Getting rid of cars is a much bigger win than spinning our wheels tying the future of transportation to plastic lithium and cobalt battery cars.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Coal generated around 40% of US electricity 10 years ago. This year it will fall to about 21%. Even on the least renewable grids EVs are better than any non-hybrid vehicle. Don’t fall for the coal powered EV myth: https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikescott/2020/03/30/yes-electric-cars-are-cleaner-even-when-the-power-comes-from-coal/#69469f542320

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

The math is simple, a modern petroleum automobile engine is about 30% efficient ( 30 percent of chemical energy in fuel turns in to power in engine). An average coal fire power plant is about 35% efficient, then there is a 5% loss in the grid, a 12% loss in the battery charger cycle for the car and the efficiency of the electric motor at 90%. So that results in a final thermodynamic efficiency for the EV when charged with coal powered electricity of 26.3%, and that does not count the extra losses from using electricity to heat the cabin. So despite what you read in the sustainability articles, the efficiency ( I made no claim about emissions, that is trickier) is better for the modern fossil fuel powered car than for the EV powered by coal electricity.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s a good thing that very little of our energy is generated from coal, then!

Jon
Guest
Jon

Gasoline combustion engines only turn 17-21% of the energy in gasoline to useful work turning the wheels. Producing gasoline is only 80% efficient. When you go from taking the fuel out of the ground to moving a vehicle a certain number of miles down the road a EV is at least 2X as efficient as a gasoline car using the California grid back in 2016. Electrical power is getting more efficient much faster than internal combustion engines.
https://cafcp.org/sites/default/files/W2W-2016.pdf

Jeff Allen
Guest

See longer post above, but very smart people who do this for a living have studied this extensively and tend to disagree with you. More to the point, as others have noted, coal is a rapidly declining % of grid power sources, so EVs are the only car you can buy that gets cleaner every year – not dirtier like a gas car!

9watts
Subscriber

Craigslist bike for 3,500 mile ride home link isn’t working for me.

9watts
Subscriber

That electric pedalless bike for kids… can we talk about that—the pedagogy, never mind the ecological footprint? A $950 electric toy for a 3-yr old who can’t handle pedals yet, and who is going to outgrow it in 18 mo. Really?

Matt
Guest
Matt

That’s not an “e-bike for kids”. E-bikes have pedals. This conveyance is nothing more than a miniature electric motorcycle. Be the first kid on your block to own one!

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

Back in the 80’s and 90’s we had little battery powered contraptions for kids to ride. They sometimes looked like a motorcycle, or a car, or a tractor. One brand name was Power Wheels.

JGC
Guest
JGC

There still around. Plenty of trucks and jeeps for the next generation of auto users. And much cheaper than the E-Balance Bike. I think parents should just opt for a Strider bike.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

I am surprised that the Baltimore post pandemic city guidelines did not address one of the biggest bottlenecks to post pandemic urban life, the elevator. I think this is not as big a hurdle as some people think and we just need to replace our old fashioned closed indoor elevators with open-air, construction style elevators with mesh sides, problem solved.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Or the stairwell, for those of us trying to get exercise in larger buildings or to our apartment flat in a building without elevators. Talk about heavy breathing in an enclosed space with poor air circulation.

Jeff Allen
Guest

Sorry to be coming late but a couple of facts about electric cars and microplastics discussion may be helpful. First, electric cars in the Pacific NW are like driving a 100+ MPG gas car, if such a thing existed, even accounting for all the electricity used, and are far cleaner and more efficient everywhere in the US: https://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/are-electric-vehicles-really-better-for-the-climate-yes-heres-why and see the compelling graphic.

Second, yes, plastics from tires are a problem. It’s complicated but unlikely EVs create more of them. On the one hand, they do use more efficient softer low rolling resistance tires; on the other hand, they use a lot of regenerative braking rather than brake pads. Of course, EVs don’t leak oil all over the street, much less require oil refining, etc.

Lastly… big picture here. We absolutely need to push for safer walking and biking, better transit, better land use, road pricing and demand management, and other strategies to make our communities less car-dependent… AND if we care about climate, we ALSO need to make sure that those hundreds of millions, if not billions, of cars trucks and planes that will still remain, are electric. Oh and yes, we still need to keep working to clean up the power grid, too, so that 100+ MPG equivalent car keeps getting even cleaner.

There are powerful and well-funded interests trying to turn us against one another, and to confuse these issues, hoping we will fight amongst ourselves while 99% of all transportation continues to depend on fossil fuel-powered internal combustion vehicles.

If folks would really like to deep dive head over to our website at http://www.forthmobility.org for more info on electric cars, bikes, trucks, and yes, even planes 🙂

-Jeff

X
Guest
X

For those who haven’t followed the links, Mr. Allen isn’t selling the idea of electric cars, he’s selling electric cars.

Jeff Allen
Guest

Actually, you’re wrong about that. We are a trade association and advocate for electric mobility – cars, e-bikes, electric trucks, tractors, you name it. But we legally can’t sell cars, even if we wanted to. More to the point, to make sure we’re 100% clear about my motives, I’ll just note I spent ten years running the main environmental advocacy group in the state and am a year-round bike commuter…but that’s also why I cited UCS data, so you don’t have to take my word for anything 🙂

CourtneyCyclez
Guest
CourtneyCyclez

I was literally wondering about e-bikes for children. I love it!