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The Monday Roundup: E-bikes for clunkers, carfree Tempe, carmakers are evil, and more

Posted by on November 2nd, 2020 at 11:02 am

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

They knew: Maybe not a huge surprise, but new reporting confirms that Ford and GM knew about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions from their vehicles and not only did nothing, they worked to hide the truth and doubled-down on fossil fuel guzzling vehicles. (I will still never forgive Obama for bailing them out.)

“Diary of a new cyclist”: London resident Sarah Berry shared a heartfelt message to the people in cars who put her in danger.

E-bikes for clunkers: Smart program in Lithuania gives people a $1,200 subsidy for trading in an old car that they can put toward purchase of a new e-bike.

Gov’t issue bike tires: People in Oslo, Norway are so keen to keep riding in icy winters they gobbled up 4,000 studded bike tire subsidies in the first week they were available.


Harley’s e-bike: It’s not news that a non-bicycle brand has come out with an e-bike. What is news is how much better e-bike designs from non-endemic brands are getting. It shows how serious companies are taking the e-bike market.

The story of Rad: Excellent profile of Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes CEO Mike Radenbaugh shares his rise from battery-bike tinkerer to bike industry disruptor.

Scooter resurgence: Lime’s CEO says the pandemic-influenced cityscape has helped illustrate the value of e-scooters as a serious mobility option.

Safety for whom?: After NHTSA declared October “Pedestrian Safety Month”, the nonprofit America Walks had to inform them that much more of the focus needs to be on driving behaviors.

Vehicular violence run amok: In a weekend that saw several Trump truck caravans and many incidents of rampaging drivers, President Trump celebrated an incident on a Texas freeway when his supporters tried to ram another driver.

Tempt me Tempe: With 761 apartments and no car parking spaces, Culdesac Tempe is being called the first-ever carfree neighborhood in America built from scratch.

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David Hampsten
David Hampsten

Culdesac looks like any North American city but without city street – but it also seems to be designed to later have streets easily retrofitted without affecting building footprints. It’s a lost opportunity to create a truly permanent car-free community, like the medieval cities of Europe. And the author seems to totally unaware that much of the US was once upon a time developed without cars in mind – without cars in anyone’s mind for that matter, pre-1914 – but for the pedestrian, horse, and (later) bicyclists and public transit.


More vehicular violence, and especially more threats of vehicular violence, mostly from people supporting a certain candidate. I’m more than a little concerned about what may ensue after the election – and heaven knows how it may turn out. Anyone who thinks they can predict the outcome is either insane or lying.

I will issue a warning, though, from Minnesota. It’s not as solidly Blue as the national media tell you. We may have the longest blue streak in America – 9 straight elections voting for the Democratic candidate – and it may end this year. Even in the oft-discussed scenario of a Biden victory by flipping Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania back into the blue column, Minnesota could act the spoiler, throwing the whole thing to Trump.

The reason Minnesota has always gone Blue – and the reason it may go Red this year – is the our northern mining region known as the Iron Range. Formerly a hotbed of labor activism and the deepest Democratic stronghold in the state, but no longer. Economically stagnant for decades, they’ve suddenly seen increased prosperity as Trump’s steel tariffs pushed up prices of domestic iron, and mines and mills have reopened. And Trump promises many more jobs, knocking down environmental regulations that have been blocking copper-nickel mines that threaten water quality in the pristine Boundary Waters, the most heavily used wilderness area in the country.

Not only does the Iron Range appearing to be going strongly Red this year, but turnout is massive – higher than turnout in metro areas across the country that otherwise offer hope for a Biden victory. I don’t think the statewide polls that show Biden up by several points are accurately accounting for the turnout up north. Maybe the revulsion many feel towards Trump is strong enough to offset the red shift up there, but I can’t say for sure. Also, a federal court just signaled on Thursday that they may disqualify late-arriving absentee ballots, which this year lean strongly Democratic.

I know there are a lot of other swing states to keep an eye on tomorrow night, but folks, keep an eye MN. We’re more of a swing state than most of the national media, relying uncritically on statewide polls, realize. Even Nate Silver hasn’t drilled into our weird intrastate regional shift. But we’re getting several visits per week from both candidates. They know something’s up here. I hope we can still deliver electoral votes for Biden, but as with everything there’s an awful lot of uncertainty this year.

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter

They knew: This happened with Big Tobacco, and they ended up paying a lot of money and we have warning labels on their products. Can we expect the same from the car companies now?


Interesting we’re finding out that not only did GM and Ford know for a long time of science that was bad news for them, and tried to suppress it, but that this behavior goes back much further than we thought. Much like tobacco, lead paint and big sugar, these companies knowingly misled the public for decades about the dangers of their products.

Sowing uncertainty, publicly attacking scientists and funding studies cooked to show results contrary to their own scientists’ findings.

Science is real. But too often manipulated by big money.


Don’t worry, Tempe does not tempt me.


I like the train tweet, but they leave out the fact that we can still run trains when the oil is gone (no longer economic too get out of the ground) and what we have are a transportation system running on wind, solar and hydro. Commercial aviation is strictly a creature of cheap abundant fossil fuels. The sooner we get going on creating efficient passenger rail the less likely we will be have to travel on stage coaches or the like.

Lenny Anderson
Lenny Anderson

The NYT reporter on the new TOD development in Arizona should pay a visit to Orenco Station, an empty cornfield when MAX opened in ’98. Which reminds me that very smart Joe Cortright should recognize that all that under utilized land along Barbur in the SW Corridor will fill in with lots of housing, much of it affordable, once MAX opens there. Just what we need. If you don’t believe it, take a look at N. Interstate. Vote YES on the Metro transportation measure!