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The Monday Roundup: ‘Petro-masculinity’, prostate health, deadly e-bikes, and more

Posted by on November 9th, 2020 at 9:17 am

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

Sponsored by:

Splendid Cycles (407 SE Ivon St) BIG Year End Sale. Get big savings on electric cargo bikes from Tern, Larry Vs Harry, Xtracycle, Riese & Muller, and more!

You should care about down there: It is a fact that for men, cycling impacts prostate health outcomes. Should you be concerned? This article from Road.cc is a good primer on the topic.

Austin, the new Portland?: While Portlanders argued and ultimately failed to pass new funding for biking and walking infrastructure, Austin voters greenlighted $460 million and could be on its way to overtaking us as America’s best cycling city.

Trucks and guns: Noted legal and car culture expert Greg Shill makes the case that vehicular assaults are popular because they are a legal way to harass and intimidate that are much less likely than guns to attract enforcement attention.

Fossil fuel culture: Virginia Tech researcher Cara Daggett has coined the term “petro-masculinity” to help us understand why big trucks and fossil fuel extraction are so closely intertwined with the conservative belief system of American men.

E-bike safety: Dutch authorities are likely to implement technology that would automatically reduce power to e-bike motors in dense residential areas due to a rise in deaths from crashes.

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Protest planning: Portland’s progressive planning is part and parcel to our proclivity for protesting, says local urbanism expert Jarrett Walker.

Rust belt road safety: Pittsburgh is looking more like Portland as traffic calming measures like plastic wands and narrower streets are integrated into street projects.

Ironclad promise: Road safety and mobility justice groups in Mexico have achieved the extraordinary: a constitutional amendment that includes the passage, “Every person has the right to mobility under conditions of safety, accessibility, efficiency, sustainability, quality, inclusion and equality.”

Black People Ride Bikes: A bike club in Baltimore is helping sustain the pandemic bike boom by creating a welcoming space for Black people who love to ride.

Overcoming obstacles: It’s not just a lack of good infrastructure or fear of drivers that keep people off their bikes. Streetsblog highlighted a series of interviews with people who ride despite disabilities and discrimination.

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

Great news about Mexico. Mexico City’s car culture and street design makes LA look like Copenhagen.

dan
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dan

Really? I’ve only spent a few days there, but I was favorably impressed at the amount of physically separated bike lanes I saw. Granted it’s a much bigger city than Portland, but they have miles of protected bike lanes in their CBD that frankly put us to shame. They also have bollards installed in places that would be rejected as “too dangerous for motorists” here.

Zach
Guest
Zach

True, there are some good bike lanes in the CBD—and the Sunday Ciclovia is amazing. I spent most of my time in Roma/Condesa though, and there’s nearly zero bike infra there. Combined with the crazy amount of four-lane one-ways *everywhere*, drivers that flat out do NOT stop at crosswalks, and shockingly, many major intersections with no pedestrian light (you have to look at the traffic light, which doesn’t always make it clear if it’s safe to cross), I found CDMX to be pretty terrible as far as walk/bikeability goes. SO much potential, though (flat and perfect weather).

SD
Guest
SD

“E-bike safety” article.
– Now do cars and trucks.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I’ve never seen a major US city as hilly as Pittsburgh – it makes Seattle and San Francisco look flat. Most of its residential streets are narrower than Portland’s (which are themselves rather narrow), so they really need the traffic calming.

Downtown protected bike lane on Penn Street.
https://www.google.com/maps/@40.443775,-79.9982456,3a,75y,90h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sf7juO82-1tEx3MDCCyj62Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!5m1!1e3

Dave
Guest
Dave

David, the behavior of the driver is pretty well linkable to gender around here (Vancouver, Wa.) The overwhelming majority of drivers on lift-kitted pickups w/flags flying in the bed are male around here. If you drive in the Northwest in a normal passenger car, these are the drivers whose behavior is that of a constant dominance gesture–speeding and tailgating for intimidation. Again, a majority male group of drivers. These rednecks can no more drive in a civil way than your brother Andy can ride up a hill slowly!

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

There are a good number of women that drive trucks…what is the name for them?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Yeah, “The ‘Petro-Masculinity’ of This Weekend’s Trump Highway Rallies” is a distressingly sexist article. It makes me wonder about its male author and the publication’s editors. I’m surprised JM endorsed it. Most of the SUV owners I know are women who more often than not feel safer is such monstrosities, whether they are Democrats, Republicans, or non-affiliated, and continued cheap gas allows them to drive them everywhere. It’s all a matter of perspective, of course, as I feel safer on my bicycle.

Skid
Guest
Skid

A stock SUV is not the same as the oversized diesel pickups lifted w/big off-road tires on fancy rims that the Trumpers like so much. I hope that puts Petro-Masculinity in context for you.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

still, they are both inherently more dangerous than a pedal or e-bicycle or a small e-car (or subcompact conventional car for that matter).

Matt
Guest
Matt

If they have the same mindset, then they can be described using the same term.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Why is an oversized SUV necessarily masculine? Most ships have feminine names and are most often referred to as “she”. Where did this social construct come from, creating an identity of large trucks exclusively with conservative men, even when ownership and use is otherwise?

squareman
Subscriber

Sexist or not, aggression and strength are both attributes mapped to men in American society — this is what makes it “masculine.”

Physically, SUVs are intimidating (aggression) to someone one the ground. For those women you say feel protected inside of one, it’s strength. Look no further than 99% of all marketing of SUVs and large trucks to see that attributes of strength and Power are pushed as the primary attributes to make the sale. Many ads even go as far as implicitly showing the intimidation factor (Dodge/RAM tend to be the worst offenders on this).

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Is it masculinity that is being pushed by SUV advertisers? Or is it what Americans prefer to consume when buying an SUV? That is, are advertisers trying to develop an artificial demand for such products, or are they simply fulfilling an existing desire by male and female SUV consumers?

squareman
Subscriber

Advertising is always about developing artificial demand. It’s weird that you ask that. Also, it’s been reported and documented here and elsewhere numerous times that American auto sellers push SUVs and big trucks over passenger vehicles because the profit margins are much higher for them (and the regulations for safety and pollution are lower).

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Which is clearly sexist, because men often earn more than women. So maybe we can have some empathy for these poor Petrolsexuals, who have been preyed upon by the auto industry to be manipulated into buying big trucks.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Are you saying that trucks should be priced in day-dollars, to equalize ownership possibilities across income levels?

PS +1 for “petrosexuals”, a demographic category I was heretofore unfamiliar with.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I would go so far as to add that there should also be racial-equity pricing models available for large trucks in addition to the gender-equity options. Less tough guys would buy them if women could afford them as well. Because you don’t want to drive the same vehicle an Abuelita does.

Fred
Guest
Fred

I dunno about any of these stereotypes. I see women driving large SUVs more often than I see men driving them. Safety is *huge* for women, esp when hauling children, which would be a compelling reason to drive one.

Pick-up trucks are driven mostly by men – I’d say 90%. But I still see women driving them occasionally.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Don’t you love it when post-modernism is used to counter Progressive stereotyping?

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

the vehicle or the person operating it?!?!

PS
Guest
PS

Austin segregated the active transit piece as a separate proposition and funded it from general obligation bonds on an uncrowded ballot. Doesn’t take a transit activist or political guru to see why that one passed and ours didn’t.

Alain L.
Guest
Alain L.

Thanks for pointing this out, there was a lot of problems with the Metro Transit proposition. Would be interesting/useful to see active transit broken out from “transit”, which in the Metro case was also funding road projects/expansions that see large SOV use.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Austin is quite a bit bigger than Portland, nearly 1 million residents in the city alone (but only #4 in the state), it’s the state capitol of the second biggest state, it has one of the largest universities in the country (U of Texas), and it is far more wealthy per capita. It’s also a liberal island in a very conservative state.

Portland’s main advantage over Austin is that Portland has far better and more frequent inter-city rail service to the region and to rest of the country (as well as Vancouver BC), which is important if you want to have a car-free lifestyle that allows you to use your bike as your main mode of transport. Austin only has once-a-day service each way on Amtrak between San Antonio, with connections to LA and New Orleans, to the south and Dallas/Chicago to the north.

PS
Guest
PS

The Portland MSA has 2.4MM people, Austin has 2.2MM people. Portland MSA median income is $78,400 and Austin is $76,900. Sounds pretty comparable to me from a starting point. Now politics may certainly differ, and to call Austin a liberal bubble, probably is true relative to Texas, but I bet their liberal politics are A LOT different than what we consider liberal politics here. Like I noted, the idea of taxing corporations as a funding source for our proposition even though “transit activists” told us everything was fine, was probably the death knell as most folks know that just turns into lower incomes and an effective sales tax, so…

Tim
Guest
Tim

Oversized trucks, guns, and attitudes are not petro-masculine or any other form of masculine. They are the symptoms of insecurity and weakness. My question is why are so many men (and less commonly woman) so insecure that they feel the need for big tires and aggressive looking guns?

-just don’t get it.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

When Hello, Kitty rolls up on their trike, you better be ready. Hello, Kitty makes even the most confident a bit insecure.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Hello, Kitty Rules!

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Perhaps they just display it in different ways (often in the context of Darwinian fitness).

Men get things that make them look tough or wealthy (I can protect you and provide for offspring) and women do things to make them look more “available” (like fake breasts, face-lifts, etc.).

Sociobiology is a fascinating area of study! It’s not always an insecurity as much as it is a subconscious strategy. We all do it to some degree – some just more overtly than others.

squareman
Subscriber

So you’re talking about succumbing to one’s own lizard brain.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

That’s what most people do most of the time, even if the conscious brain shows up a bit later to say “hey, that was my idea!”

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Man, if you think all are decision making is rational or conscious, I have a self-help book I’d love to sell you 🙂

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Think of the “reptile brain” as the background operating system. Think of the neocortex as the user interface/apps. Then there is the limbic system which kind of an interface between the two. All three parts drive decisions making and very little of it is actually “conscious”.

There’s no “succumbing” – it’s one’s nature.

Skid
Guest
Skid

Those trucks are just showboats aka pen15 extensions

Matt
Guest
Matt

Yeah well my neighbor’s wife drives a diesel Ford Excursion (the really BIG one). She’s well under 5′ tall and says she wouldn’t drive anything else. Watching this tiny woman driving what amounts to a bus (and usually by herself) is hilarious…and sad at the same time.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I take it you’ve actually measured?

Skid
Guest
Skid

I call the lifted diesel truck fetish “Peterbilt Envy”.

What’s funny is that off-road racing trucks sit as low as possible to have a low center of gravity so they don’t want to tip over.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

what about the big trucks at the Dakar rally? They seem to have a pretty high CoG, unless they are weighted in a way that’s not entirely visible.

JGC
Guest
JGC

Have you ever seen a SCORE off road truck up close. They do not ride close to the ground. Most trucks use 35 inch tall tires some use 37 inch tall. The lift is around 8 inches or higher to allow long wheel travel for jumps. Its the suspension that keeps them from tipping over.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

Sorry, but Austin is too hot, humid and hilly to seriously challenge PDX except maybe as the Fred capitol of the US…

Fred
Guest
Fred

Nothing wrong with Freds. 😉

PTB
Guest
PTB

I don’t know about the hilly part. That’s not how I remember my time there. But the heat and humidity, and the incredible amount of the year it sticks around, is too much. A day time ride anywhere, even the mellowest roll to a cafe or something, means you’re *soaked*. I’m not a big sweater typically, but that humidity there was enough to get the sweat flowing. Pass, no thanks. I was only there a year and that was plenty. The heat really blew my mind.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

The Law of Inverse Proportions: The bigger the tires on the pickup, the smaller the dick on the driver.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Thanks for sharing the link to the article about the potential link between prostate problems and cycling. I wish the article would make a distinction between regular upright bicycles and recumbent bicycles and tricycles. Many older men ride recumbents for this very reason: less pressure on the prostate and more comfortable longer rides (2-3 hours). There are two shops in Portland (Recumbent PDX and Rose City Recumbents) dedicated to serving this population, so it’s a sizeable group and you might want to check it out. Thanks.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I don’t think we’re going to get men’s health right, with respect to cycling, until we learn the difference between the prostate and the perineum. Almost every article I’ve ever read on cycling and men’s health focuses on prostate health, which is bizarre. It’s the perineum we should be worried about.

The prostate is an internal organ. The concern is about putting external pressure on the perineum, which contains sexually important nerves and blood vessels that may be compromised by a nosed saddle ramming up against them on a bike ride.