The Monday Roundup: Black history by bike, EV cars no silver bullet, Speedvagen at SBT Gravel, and more

Posted by on August 16th, 2021 at 10:16 am

Welcome to the week.

Here are the most noteworthy items BikePortland editors and readers came across in the past seven days…

Barcelona seized the opportunity: With 20 acres of their city reclaimed from cars and 20 miles of new carfree green spaces, Barcelona leaders have turned the tragedy of Covid into a massive public health and livability success story.

Harley’s amazing e-bike: With a focus on design, venerable brand Harley-Davidson could be the “Apple of e-bikes” with their new line that gives a nod to 1970s-era Schwinns.

E-bike rebate: In a bid to combat climate change and encourage less driving, a small town in Colorado has a proposal to give residents $200 if they purchase an e-bike. Portland should do something like this!!

City pays for crash: A San Diego man who crashed and was severely injured due to a poorly maintained road won a $1.75 million settlement in a lawsuit against the City of San Diego.

EV cars no silver bullet: There’s a reason we cringe when politicians tout electric cars as the answer to our climate change problem: because they alone cannot reduce enough emissions fast enough — and they take the focus away from the real answer which is getting people to drive a lot less.

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Racial education by bike: A historian in St. Petersburg, Florida was shocked to learn about the Black history in her neighborhood so she’s planned a series of group bike rides in hopes of making others more aware of how race and racism has impacted the city.

NFL player loves his Portland-made Speedvagen: Former Super Bowl participant Dhani Jones got written up by CyclingNews prior to racing SBT Gravel and we were so excited to see the beautiful, custom Speedvagen under his arm.

Car ads kill: “These seemingly ‘harmless’ ads… have real-world consequences,” says former ad industry executive-turned safe streets activist Tom Flood in this opinion piece for Streetsblog.

Video of the Week: Do your homework on the latest federal transportation policy sausage-making with this video that features Beth Osborne from Transportation for America and other experts:

Thanks to everyone who sent in links this week. We appreciate you.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Jeff AllenEl BicicleroJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)Hubba Hubbacmh89 Recent comment authors
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Dan
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Dan

That Dhani Jones interview is great! Former NFL linebacker knocking out 150-200 miles a week…

Lowell
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Lowell

It’s become the common argument among liberals, both those in political office and those living across the street from you, that we don’t need to do anything about climate change because electric cars are here and they will save us.

We are doomed.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

Mining and refining the materials to give everyone a 4000 lb rolling living room on wheels will surely be climate neutral as long as we burn the gas portion of ancient stored sunlight and make electricity to charge batteries as opposed to burning the liquid fossil fuels created millions of years ago. ( not).

Watts
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Watts

While it is true that electrification of transportation alone isn’t nearly enough to address climate change, transit in its current form (even if buses are electrified) just doesn’t seem like the answer either. Transit in Portland is designed to get people downtown, and not nearly as many need that right now. Transit is itself energy inefficient and expensive to run (especially at current levels of utilization).

We need some new thinking about how to get people where they want to go (or reduce the need for them to go at all). Until we’ve figured out a better solution, switching cars to electric (accompanied by cleaning up our electric production) is an urgent need.

I wish Portland would embrace bikes again, but they were never a realistic solution for more than a sliver of the population.

cmh89
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cmh89

We need some new thinking about how to get people where they want to go (or reduce the need for them to go at all). Until we’ve figured out a better solution, switching cars to electric (accompanied by cleaning up our electric production) is an urgent need.

Switching to electric cars in any meaningful time frame is such an absurd lift that it’s kind of amusing watching neo-liberals drag it around as some panacea for climate change.

The natural resource extraction required alone would destroy huge swathes of the Earth and release huge amounts of carbon. Not to mention that moving to electric cars aggressively would have the affect of taking otherwise working vehicles off the road prematurely, which is also a negative for the environment.

Improving the transit system is the easy way. Electrification of the fleet is not only harder, but its nothing but a pipe dream sold by folks who want to profit off of it.

I wish Portland would embrace bikes again, but they were never a realistic solution for more than a sliver of the population.

No, bikes are a realistic solution for most of the population at least some of the time. We need to call a spade a spade. We live in a society where carbon intensive lifestyles are heavily subsidized and when we start taking even the smallest amount of that subsidy away, people whine that they need to drive.

Obviously there isn’t an elected official in the metro area with an ounce of backbone, but what they really should do is acknowledge that cars are over and openly move to prioritizing every other mode of transportation. Our transit system doesn’t just have to go downtown, but when we heavily subsidize motorist to make it cheap and easy to drive yourself, why would the demand ever exist to expand transit?

Bike + Transit + Walking/scooting should easily meet the needs of most of the population if we were dedicated to solving the problem.

Buuuut, this is America, we aren’t going to do anything that even mildly inconveniences folks bread and circuses. Let’s see if Biden can get gas back under $3 again!

Watts
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Watts

There probably isn’t an elected official anywhere in the US that has “an ounce of backbone” by your standard.

I cannot even begin to fathom what it would take for a region like greater Portland to stop using cars. It would either require a ridiculous amount of additional transit, which would be very expensive (drivers & vehicles) and highly inefficient in terms of energy per passenger, or it would require greatly contracting the city and abandoning everywhere that transit is infeasible (where would those people go, and what would happen to their property?)

It’s just not going to happen, despite your assertion that, along with walking and biking, it could “easily” serve our needs.

Even the Dutch don’t survive on walking/transit/biking — they drive 79% of their mileage, and almost half of their trips of any length are by car.

I do agree that we need to radically increase the price of gas. Even that would be political suicide, but it is at least something that, on a technical level, could be done.

https://english.kimnet.nl/binaries/kimnet-english/documents/publications/2020/11/03/cycling-facts-new-insights/KiM+e-book+Cycling+facts-ENG.def.pdf

cmh89
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cmh89

There probably isn’t an elected official anywhere in the US that has “an ounce of backbone” by your standard.

Ha, I hope you don’t think the members of the Portland city council represent the height of integrity and competency. This region has particularly ineffective leadership

I cannot even begin to fathom what it would take for a region like greater Portland to stop using cars. It would either require a ridiculous amount of additional transit, which would be very expensive (drivers & vehicles) and highly inefficient in terms of energy per passenger, or it would require greatly contracting the city and abandoning everywhere that transit is infeasible (where would those people go, and what would happen to their property?)

What you can and can’t fathom shouldn’t be a barrier for us. There would be cost savings from not using as many cars as well as user fees for using transit. We already have a mediocre transit system that is under-utilized because we subsidized car trips which are faster. If TriMet plugged some holes and increased frequency we’d easily be able make it into the ‘good’ category of transit.

And please, no one outside of oil lobbyist and republicans believes the lie that transit is more inefficient energy wise than single-occupant vehicles.

It’s just not going to happen, despite your assertion that, along with walking and biking, it could “easily” serve our needs.

On that we agree. Americans are addicted to convenience and like any addiction the easy path is self-destruction. There are no logistical problems with moving towards transit, there is just the ‘I don’t want to walk two blocks so I’m going to drive’ problem.

What’s really not going to happen is we magically electrify all of our cars, climate change goes away, and we can all go back to driving two blocks to the store. What will happen is that neo-liberals dangle non-realistic changes to our system that are supported by folks who don’t want their life to change and the climate gets continually worse.

Even the Dutch don’t survive on walking/transit/biking — they drive 79% of their mileage, and almost half of their trips of any length are by car.

Cool? I’m not sure how this is relevant, but fun fact! Maybe this comment was meant for someone else? Someone who is arguing the Dutch are some model society?

I do agree that we need to radically increase the price of gas. Even that would be political suicide, but it is at least something that, on a technical level, could be done.

Raising the cost of burning gas does nothing when we people can afford to pay it.

maxD
Guest
maxD

Great point, Watts! I have always that we should re-think “alternative transportation” from the ground up. Our current system of light rail/buses only connect major destinations to downtown, and they seem to be designed almost exclusively for commuters. What about kids traveling independently? Could we have a MAX car just for 5-14 year olds (K-8th grade?) with a=or without a parent? What about transporting stuff- in Ecuador you can throw all kinds of crazy stuff into and on top of buses and trains. What about transportation to recreational destinations? Why not let dogs on trains and buses? Basically, our train/bus system is so limited, I cringe to consider giving up my car. I have been a bike commuter since the late 80’s, and I have attempted a lot of errands on my bike, but have a kid/dog/cat plus occasional ice storms makes we want to keep my car. Most of our vacations are in the region and they all start with a car ride, unfortunately.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Personally, I would never let my cat borrow my car. He’s crazy enough when he’s out on his bike.

El Biciclero
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El Biciclero

“…but have a kid/dog/cat plus occasional ice storms makes we want to keep my car.”

Nothing wrong with “keeping” a car–just don’t drive it. If everyone (I know…) only drove when there was literally no possible other way to do necessary tasks, then we’d already be way better off. When my kids were little, I would ride them to school on our cargo bike, or just walk with them. Riding a bike “the back way” into the school parking lot and dropping them off was way faster than driving and waiting in the drop-off line. Now they’re old enough to ride or walk themselves. We don’t have pets, but when I was a kid, only vet trips and the occasional camping trip ever resulted in our dog/cat seeing the inside of a car.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Video of the Week: zzzzzz…

The message is important, but the delivery is so boring…

Matt
Guest
Matt

A $200 rebate to buy an ebike? Sure, I’ll support that, but only after instituting a $1000 rebate to buy a normal bike.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Before or after paying the sales taxes? (Or in Oregon, paying the $15 “fee”?)

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Fuck the bike tax!

Hubba Hubba
Guest
Hubba Hubba

Based on the prices of e-bikes that I’ve seen, $200 isn’t even that much help! E-bikes are expensive!

Hubba Hubba
Guest
Hubba Hubba

The article on muscle cars cited NO statistics indicating that Challengers or Chargers are more frequently involved in speed contests or accidents caused by such contests than any other cars. It listed 10 or 12 cars involved in a mass racing bust and only one was a Charger or Challenger. That article had a video of a White Infinity driven by “36 y.o. career criminal Devin Haywood” hitting a vehicle at high speed that resulted in the deaths of 4 teens as well as the death of Haywood himself.

From another article on the car crash: “Police said Haywood, who was known as “Telz,” had a history of reckless driving. He also faced federal and state charges over the past 17 years, beginning with drug and weapon arrests in 2003. He served four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to selling 5 grams of crack cocaine in 2005.

In 2018 he pleaded guilty to a felony drug possession charge and was sentenced in February 2019 to a year in the Westchester County jail.”

You might ask yourself: “Why was a 36 y.o. career criminal not in jail”? I’ll bet that some libs let him out of jail – so how did that work out for y’all? I assume you woke folk are aware that libs across America, including in Oregon, have been letting criminals out of jail IN DROVES using COVID as their excuse. Expect a great deal of tears to result from this stupidity.

Stop blaming cars, guns, and other inanimate objects for tragic events they are used in, and start blaming the criminals who use them in criminal acts. THEN you might see some reductions in these problems. Hubba Hubba

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Stop blaming cars, guns, and other inanimate objects for tragic events they are used in, and start blaming the criminals who use them in criminal acts.

I know that you are probably extremely angry and full of white male grievance, but you should know that no one is blaming an actual car for wreck or a gun for a shooting.

Guns and cars are just tools that make things easier. Some people use them to make their lives easier, some people use them to hurt others. The point of something like gun control or limiting horsepower on a vehicle is to make it harder for criminals to use these tools to hurt others.

Hubba Hubba
Guest
Hubba Hubba

Criminals do not follow laws. Gun laws only inconvenience law-abiding people who would not commit gun crimes even with zero laws. Criminals will do whatever they want no matter how many laws there are.

Jeff Allen
Guest

Jonathan, friends, I find myself saying this every other week it seems, but here I go again: THERE IS NO SILVER BULLET, PERIOD. Furthermore, every time folks who are part of the solution throw down on each other, the bad guys win. Would you please stop already.

Even the headline you link to says, literally, “To solve climate, we need electric cars—and a lot less driving.” So literally the opposite of your headline.

Reposting a longer piece begging us to, as Sinead O’Connor once famously said, “fight the real enemy.”

https://forthmobility.org/news/efficient-equitable-transportation-strategy

PS Electric cars reduce GHG pollution 60-80% today, and that’s based on numbers from Union of Concerned Scientists and validated by many others. No, they don’t solve all our problems, no, they are not the ‘silver bullet,’ and yes, we also need better walk/bike/ped/transit/etc. But those are the facts.