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The Monday Roundup: Tokyo’s ‘High Line’, Bikes mean business, no cops needed, and more

Posted by on April 19th, 2021 at 9:51 am

Welcome to the week.

These are the most noteworthy items our community came across in the past seven days…

Fear anywhere is a threat to safety everywhere: An absolute must-read from Jay Pitter on the need for larger advocacy coalitions and why cycling infrastructure is just one small part of truly safe(r) streets and public spaces.

Give us 82nd Ave please: KGW has a story on House Bill 2744, which would hasten jurisdictional transfer of “orphan highways” like 82nd Avenue away from ODOT and into local control.

E-bikes for clunkers: France has launched national program that gives people the opportunity to trade in their used, gas-guzzler cars and gives them a grant to buy an electric bike.

Tokyo freeway to become a park: A major expressway in Tokyo will be decommissioned and turned into an elevated linear park similar to New York City’s High Line.

State of play for Biden infra bill: Bloomberg has a great overview of where things stand on the Biden Administration’s attempt to re-think transportation investments.

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2030 ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) ban in WA: The Washington state legislature has passed a bill that would ban sales of gasoline-fueled vehicles by 2030; but only if a new tax on vehicle miles traveled (to make up for lost gas tax revenue) gets passed too.

Las Vegas cycling crackdown: Las Vegas Police Department officers rolled up on what appeared to be a large group bicycle ride and physically and verbally assaulted participants.

Never go back: City governments should never go back to the pre-pandemic status quo on our streets that gave too much space to drivers and their cars says former NYC DOT commish Janette Sadik-Khan author Seth Solomonow.

Bikes mean business: New research published in Transport Reviews journal says that according a review of 23 studies, adding active transportation infrastructure near businesses generally has a positive economic impact, “regardless of whether vehicular parking or travel lanes are removed or reduced to make room.”

No cops needed: Author and law professor Sarah Seo helps us understand how we can do traffic enforcement without police and why we need to do it now. Seo also got an opinion published by the NY Times calling for an end to traffic police.

Video of the Week: Filmmaker Jeff Kendall-Weed visited Portland and put together this fantastic video of the people and trails that make Rocky Point such a fun place to ride:

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John D.
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John D.

Some interesting discussion related to the challenges of getting Bike/Ped infrastructure built in heavily auto-oriented areas in Washington County (Cedar Mill in this case). https://cedarmillnews.com/article/county-leaves-ped-bike-safety-on-the-table/

Listened to an interesting podcast with former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn talking about the important advocacy that is going on right now with the review of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (first review in 10 years). https://usa.streetsblog.org/2021/04/15/talking-headways-podcast-call-it-the-manual-undermining-terrific-community-design-mutcd/

One of the examples from the podcast was this story from Idaho shows how the MUTCD is failing our cities by preventing safety improvements. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2021/03/30/video-how-the-mutcd-cuts-off-food-access-for-pedestrians/

Chris Anderson
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Is the Las Vegas link correct?

Phil
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Phil

“Living and working in downtown, I have seen this large group of cyclists many times. I have yet to see them follow all the laws as any other vehicle is supposed to. Just cause there are hundreds of cyclists doesn’t mean they can roll red lights. I’m glad the cops finally did something as one can’t say anything nowadays for fear of being retaliated against. Hopefully in the future they’ll think twice before acting as if they are invincible just cause they’re with their gang. If they want to roll red lights and ride on the sidewalks, they should have to pull permits.”

This comment on the Las Vegas article made me want to respond with “Now do cars,” but I didn’t want to bother creating an account.

Jon
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Jon

It would be nice to see a trade in program for old cars that could get you a credit for an e-bike in the US. It would be even better if there were some way to bring some of the production of the ebike components or drive systems to the US so that the credit was not just a economic bonus for Chinese production. I bet for a lot of low income people an eBike would be a great boon for expenses. Most people don’t realize how expensive a private car is.

soren
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soren

“Tokyo freeway to become a park: A major expressway in Tokyo will be decommissioned and turned into an elevated linear park similar to New York City’s High Line.”

The High Line project replaced a rail line and represents a textbook example of how market urbanist eco-gentrification accelerates inequality by selectively displacing and traumatizing lower-income people.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0169204619314574

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02723638.2018.1502515?journalCode=rurb20

I expect the Green Loop (TM) in Portland will have similar consequences for the pockets of deeply subsidized low-income housing in old town and adjacent neighborhoods.

maccoinnich
Subscriber

The High Line replaced a freight-only line that last saw a train in 1980.

As for the Green Loop—even if were to raise the prices of regulated housing, how would it have any effect on the prices in “deeply subsidized low-income housing”?

eawriste
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eawriste

Yeah, it’s great to see research on it, but the High Line was a freight-only line built as a safety measure to keep people from being run over. It went into disuse in the 80s and was built into a tourist park in the late oughts. It nice, but has no functional transportation use. I’m sure it had an effect on property value, but it’s like saying a heliport improved my multi-million dollar estate. No one I know could ever afford an apt in Chelsea or anywhere on the West side when the High Line went in.

The Green Loop might likely have an effect on property values, but its primary purpose is an active transportation corridor, not tourist attraction.

soren
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soren

It’s illustrative that you throw out such a “gotcha” question after repeatedly claiming that I opposed housing affordability (because I criticized RIP (as a Trojan horse). Now that P:NW leadership have quickly pivoted to lobbying for subdivision of multifamily lots into single family homes I hope more people see how YIMBY advocacy is just a re-brand of exclusionary zoning. Is a detached ~$600,000 single family home (*cough* “cottage cluster” *cough*) still a working class plex apartment, Iain?

But to answer your “gotcha”, many subsided tenants live in market rate units. For example, Portland slumlords in old town are notorious for giving tenants with vouchers double digit rent increases despite supposed review by HAs.

The substantial amount of subsidized housing in old town in substandard market-rate buildings is a prime target for gentrification (redevelopment is an exception for Oregon’s weak eviction protections). Even worse, there is a long history of housing authorities/non-profits using increased property values as a justification to lobby for permission to sell tax-favored buildings. Non-profit/social housing in urban cores of HCOL cities has been disappearing for generations.

maccoinnich
Subscriber

I’m not even entirely sure what your first paragraph is about—it certainly doesn’t relate to my comment—but it’s not a “gotcha question” to ask a follow up regarding your first comment.

There isn’t very much privately owned unregulated housing left in Old Town. The Westwind Apartments were among the last—and they were bought by the City in 2018. (And even if there were, keeping people living in run down housing is a pretty bad affordability strategy.) The housing stock in Old Town is largely owned by mission driven nonprofits like Central City Concern or Innovative Housing, who have long term affordability covenants with the Housing Bureau.

But more fundamentally, why would the Green Loop raise rents? Aside from the fact that the N Parks Blocks are in the Pearl, not Old Town, the N Parks Blocks south of Glisan already exist and the extent of changes that have been proposed are to replace some vehicular parking spaces on NW Park Ave with a two-way bike path (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/749022). That’s hardly the international tourist destination that is the High Line.

Cyclekrieg
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Cyclekrieg

Jeff Kendell-Weed – Great guy who makes your local trails look scary to the very people you need to convince to build more. Video: [runs through a roster of local Portland agencies who aren’t approving trails] Also the Video: Look at these sweet big air jumps and too-fast-for-sharing riding! Also, 90% of the MTBers in Portland: “Why can’t we get cool trails like [insert name of place here]? Our leadership at the city and parks level is so unfair!” Maybe that leadership is seeing videos like this and going “nope”.

What I suspect is that a lot people don’t know (want to admit?) is that Dr. Thompson and the rest of the anti-mountain biking cabal shared this same video with all the commissioners and key people in the Parks department with a whole different spin. If you don’t think that isn’t being shown on a loop like a scene from 1984 to every group Marcy Houle speaks at with ominous warnings of the forthcoming hiker holocaust on Forest Park trails if MTBing is allowed there, your not paying attention.

One of my favorite Onion articles ever was entitled something like, “Gay Pride Parade Sets Gay Rights Back Twenty Years”. Maybe this video could be retitled, “Setting Portland MTB Access Back 10 Years”.

If you think that might be harsh, thing about it this way: if some milquetoast boomer in an oversight role at the Parks department only sees these types of videos (with or without the Pravda style propaganda of Hoyle, et. al.), what are the chances they would dare to allow MTB access in that park by your house?

Matt
Guest
Matt

Did you actually watch the video? Because he mentioned that every jump on the trail also has a rollable bypass option. I watch JKW’s videos all the time and he’s an extremely talented rider. His channel is not “MTBing for beginners” (mostly–he does have a few coaching videos). Your comment is like complaining that an Evel Knievel video makes motorcycling look too dangerous.

Cyclekrieg
Subscriber
Cyclekrieg

I absolutely watched the video. And not complaining about JFW’s abilities or the abilities of those included in that video. Nor am I saying there isn’t a place for those types of trails. But again, the issue I’m pointing out the connotative dissidence of going before the decision makers in a city trying to tamp down (unwarranted & untrue) fears of harm from mountain biking, either personal conflicts or damages to the environment, and then participating in a video that contains the very images that stokes those fears.

Let’s be clear. Other places that have urban mountain biking have exactly these types of trails and experiences. But either a) its easy to get trails in locations (in contrast to Portland) or b) they started off with the “wheels on the ground” trails and after proving MTBing wasn’t going to kill everyone or jack up the park, move onto the “wheels off the ground”. Here is far less talented rider than JKW on these very types of trails in a city: https://youtu.be/qFx-zzJdwnw

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

Why can’t land support different users side by side? Sandy Ridge does that. There are hiking only trails on the lower part at the Barlow Wayside Park and then there’s the mtn bike park above.

Cyclekrieg
Subscriber
Cyclekrieg

Its totally doable. And most cities in the USA do exactly what you are suggesting.

But if Portlanders want that, what would seem the most likely way to get that? Would videos of fun trails through a wooded area that don’t seem too “scary” to certain demographic or videos of everything that demographic is scared of?

Perception is reality when it comes to working with governmental bodies.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest
Todd/Boulanger

Per the Tokyo KK Expressway Line:
I wish the “anti road tolls” lobby would develop more tools than just “we all pay” for ongoing costs…like the Tokyo example…where tenant rents from the retail stores below the road go towards maintenance and operating costs. The tool box has to have more tools now that gas taxes have not been raised nor coverage all direct users effectively.

plm
Guest
plm

Loved the video! Sadly I’ve given up hope that any meaningful improvements to access in Forest Park will happen in my lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still fill out every questionnaire and attend every open house, but the relationship forged between Weyerhaeuser and NWTA is really exciting and hopefully a model for future projects on other managed timber acreage. FWIW after watching the video I got the confidence to hit that fern gap and the hip on SMA. The root gap is still a little out of reach, maybe next time