The Monday Roundup: Save Afghan cyclists, Amazon ban, a good DOT, and more

Posted by on August 23rd, 2021 at 10:27 am

Welcome to the week.

Here are the most notable items found by BikePortland editors and readers in the past seven days.

Save Afghan cyclists: An inspiring group of female Afghan cyclists were viral years ago. Now they are in a desperate attempt to escape the Taliban and their US-based advocate says it’s time to step up and help them.

Bike shops vs Amazon: A Seattle-based bike component company is part of a growing movement to leave the Amazon behemoth and focus more directly on selling through local bike shops.

A good DOT move: Colorado’s department of transportation has released a rule that will require all new road projects to estimate greenhouse gas emissions and consider offsetting them on cleaner projects if they score too high.

BikePOC NW 101: Don’t miss this excellent Q & A with the three founders of BikePOC NW a group that has become a strong community through riding and friendships.

More thoughts on EV cars:Cars, however they’re powered, are environmentally cataclysmic, break the tethers of community, and force an infrastructure of dependency that is as financially ruinous to our country as it is dangerous to us as people.”

Advertisement

Sensitivity training: Drivers who get busted for traffic law infractions in Mexico City can be put into a “bikeschool” that puts them on the other side of the windshield and teaches them how to safely coexist with bike riders.

Protected bikeway study: A study from Arlington, Virginia credits the city’s robust network of off-street paths and protected lanes for making streets safer for bike riders during the recent bike boom.

DeFazio touts protection: Lane County Congressman and House Transportation bigwig Peter DeFazio led a bike ride with the mayor of Eugene to promote Biden’s infrastructure bill.

The problem with NEPA: America’s Environmental Protection Act doesn’t serve us well if it makes it harder to build environmentally-friendly projects!

Historic speed record: American Ashton Lambie has a new world record for the 4 km pursuit, pedaling a 64×15 gear to complete the distance in just 3:59.93.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

25
Leave a Reply

avatar
7 Comment threads
18 Thread replies
2 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
16 Comment authors
Jeff AllendamieneEugeneAlexidlebytes Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

A Good DOT: It’s amazing how many otherwise intelligent people still believe that an idling car on a congested roadway causes more pollution than a moving car.

Minnesota and Oregon state DOTs are also often cited as being among the most liberal and progressive in the country, at least here in the Deep South. Go figure.

Watts
Guest
Watts

How do you measure pollution? If it’s emissions/mile (which seems a reasonable metric), then an idling car is emitting infinite pollution while it isn’t moving. And stop-and-go is also bad — gasoline vehicles are inefficient at low speeds, and stopping and starting consumes a lot of energy and emits a lot of pollution.

So how is it that “otherwise intelligent people” are so wrong?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The total amount of pollution produced has more to do with how long the motor vehicle is running and how much energy it needs to do work, as well as the age and efficiency of the motor vehicle. A car moving along is using far more energy per minute of usage than when it is idling. In fact, many hybrid and electric cars simply turn off their engines when idling, even at signalized intersections.

To build the infrastructure needed to keep car idling to a minimum, we have to keep adding capacity. The added concrete and asphalt contribute directly to increased emissions just from the processes for making the materials, as well as laying them down, and the land lost reduces our ability to absorb the pollutants. And of course there’s induced demand which leads to greater congestion and idling.

Cody S
Guest
Cody S

People do not go sit in their car for a set amount of time, they get in their car and drive to a given destination. If you use time for your denominator then yes, a car idling is “cleaner” but that does not reflect human behavior. People drive to a destination which will take a variable amount of time. Congestion adds MORE time and which causes MORE pollution. Emissions / Distance is a better way of measuring this than Emissions / Time as you suggest.

Stop and go is more polluting and uses more energy regardless of whether the vehicle is fossil fuel driven, hybrid, or electric. Hybrids and electric cars recapture some energy through regenerative braking, but it’s still most efficient to not stop. It’s the same reason we all wanted the Idaho stop on a bike, it is more efficient to keep going than to brake and accelerate repeatedly.

I agree that we shouldn’t be building more infrastructure to cater to this for the reasons you mentioned, but it is wrong to say that idling cars are less polluting.

EP
Guest
EP

It’s a tricky argument that isn’t framed well. An idling car isn’t moving, so people view idle time as a waste/pollution. But, idling emits less pollution than driving down the road. The problem is, once the idling car starts moving, it’s replaced with an infinite line of other driving cars, which collectively make even more pollution. I’d rather live on a street lined with idling cars that never moved, then on a street where hundreds drive by hourly.
https://usa.streetsblog.org/2017/07/06/urban-myth-busting-congestion-idling-and-carbon-emissions/

Watts
Guest
Watts

Just so we can be clear on the claim, are you asserting that a car traveling from A to B will emit less pollution if it idles in traffic for a while along the way?

If so, I agree it will be a tricky argument to make.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

If the car is equipped with start-stop technology, as many newer car are now, it will in fact emit less pollution while idle.

From the article EP cited:

“Similarly, metro areas that had an increase in congestion (as measured by the Texas Transportation Institute’s Travel Time Index), didn’t see proportionate increases in CO2 emissions. The following panel shows how the change in emissions per traveler between 2000 and 2010 for an array of 101 metropolitan areas related to changes in congestion (left hand chart), changes in hours traveled per person (center chart) and vehicle miles traveled (right hand chart). There’s essentially no relation between increases in congestion and per traveler emissions; but more hours of travel and greater distances traveled translate very directly into more carbon emissions.

“There’s also another kicker to the speed/emissions relationship that you’ll never hear highway advocates mention. While its true that cars emit more carbon per mile while idling and in stop and go traffic than they do when cruising at 30 to 45 miles per hour, traveling at higher speeds is actually less fuel efficient and produces more CO2 per mile driven. Hence one of the strategies that we ought to employ is imposing stricter speed limits (say 55 miles per hour). This also means that the more we build roads that let people drive at higher speeds (60 to 70 miles per hour) the more we’re increasing global warming.

“This myth is busted: adding more capacity might reduce idling a bit, but it will actually induce more driving, which will lead to higher, not lower carbon emissions.

“And, a technological post-script: Automakers are now increasingly equipping their vehicles with stop-start technology, which automatically turns the engine off when the car stops moving, and then re-starts the engine when the driver takes her foot of the brake. This virtually eliminates idling emissions, not just in traffic, but at red lights too. Some 15 million European cars already have stop-start, a majority of cars sold in North America are predicted to have in the next few years. In addition, electric vehicles don’t idle when they’re stopped. So in the long run, if we want to reduce emissions from idling, a technical fix is in the works–no need to widen roads to address this source of pollution.”

EP
Guest
EP

No, this is all about the effects of replacing one idling car with many moving cars. As I said, idling (in place) emits less pollution than driving (moving). So, once you start driving, you start polluting more. Yes, you create more pollution if you stop and idle on some A-B drive. Some people therefore claim traffic jams to be a cause of pollution that needs fixing. The problem is, if you build more roads so someone doesn’t get stuck in traffic and idle, then you just create more capacity, and induced demand means more cars driving and therefore more overall pollution. Read that article I linked, it makes a lot of sense.

Watts
Guest
Watts

I think a fair summary of your argument argument, which is different than David’s, is “Any reduction of congestion will induce more people to drive, and that will definitely cause more pollution than letting vehicles idle.”

Since the number of new trips generated by reducing congestion is unknowable (and could be zero, or even negative if congestion is reduced by building a highly utilized and magically efficient parallel rail line, tolling, or reducing capacity elsewhere), I find your argument in the general case to be, at best, speculative, and certainly not strong enough to be persuasive.

That said, with the proper presentation of modeling and economic data, it might be possible for you to convince me that a specific instance of decreasing congestion by increasing capacity has the potential to increase pollution, but that is a wholly different proposition than David’s general claim that only an unintelligent person would believe that an idling car on a congested roadway causes more pollution than a moving car.

He’s just wrong.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

That said, with the proper presentation of modeling and economic data, it might be possible for you to convince me that a specific instance of decreasing congestion by increasing capacity has the potential to increase pollution

Here you go. They literally measured the increase in pollution after adding lanes to a highway project in Montreal. They even measured the pollution during the project and noted it went down because less people chose to drive. It’s a long paper but the gist of it is the net result of relieving congestion by building more roads is an increase in pollution.

If you want to reduce pollution by reducing congestion get people out of their cars by making alternative options more appealing and stop making driving so easy.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jat/2017/5161308/

damiene
Subscriber
damiene

There was also a PSU study that Bikeportland covered a little while back that showed the same thing – congestion was not a significant source of emissions compared to free flowing motor vehicles.

Folks in this thread are erroneously focusing on an individual example – one car going from point A to point B and comparing that car’s emissions when it’s stuck in traffic versus when it’s not. This framing tells us nothing useful.

In a system of congestion versus free flowing traffic, the free flowing traffic will move more cars, which ultimately is the biggest causal link to emissions. Congestion reduces vehicle miles traveled, which in turn results in less emissions.

In other words: Sure, the exact wording David used originally may not be literally accurate, but the point behind said words absolutely is, and has been born out by repeated studies, observations, etc – from from “speculative”.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

The Marmalade Mugabe administration made a public deal to withdraw from Afghanistan in March. Why didn’t people start leaving sooner?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Because Joe is a reasonable guy. Back in March everyone outside of the USA expected Joe to let the deadline pass as all his predecessors did and continue the war for another 20 years and another trillion dollars. They could believe Don to pull the plug, but not Joe. Which is why pretty much every world leader is surprised by Joe’s reaction – even former UK prime minister Tony Blair called his reaction imbecilic. The world’s reaction to the US pulling out of Afghanistan is kind of like the American government’s reaction to global warming – just as global warming is becoming dire, the west is becoming a desert, and record temperatures everywhere – both Joe and congress spend more money than ever to expand freeways and get more coal-burning electric cars on the road.

VS
Guest
VS

“Coal-burning electric cars” is a pretty dishonest characterization.

There is a declining use of coal to generate electricity in the US and renewable energy sources now produce more electricity than coal in the US. Are there carbon emission associated with EVs? Yes. But even the most anti-EV authors, such as the one in today’s news clips acknowledge that EVs produce 2/3 less carbon than an internal combustion engine. Other studies show a life cycle emissions reduction of 80% in parts of the country like Oregon that have high renewable energy penetration.

I appreciate articles that say we need to reduce driving and that sprawl is bad. Building new roads are bad. But replacing the existing fleet of ICE cars with EVs is a pretty damn good approach to accomplishing a big old chunk of emission reductions.

At the same time we need to do everything we can to get people to bike more, drive less and sprawl less. The scale of the climate crisis is so large, and the consequences so dire that your misleading snark is just plain unhelpful. Please stop.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Since you don’t cite your sources I regard your comments as suspicious at best. In 2019 “Renewables” produced about 17% of US electricity, coal was 23%, natural gas was 38%, and good old nuclear was 20%. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States Hydro is on the decline – there’s a water shortage in the west, didn’t you hear? And dirty coal, alas, is still popular on the East Coast along with nuclear. I don’t view burning oil, wood or biomass as any cleaner than burning coal, burning methane is barely better, while the production of solar cells involves lots of coal plus silicon (but not sand). And of course there the issue of lithium and other strategic metals, the processing of them, the toxic pollution as a result, etc. Energy production has always been messy, but then again so is producing bicycles and its parts, which by the way are predominantly produced overseas in low-wage countries with few protections for their workforces, usually using fossil fuels.

I’m OK with geothermal though, the more the better.

Telling people to drive less is a bit like telling people to avoid congestion and idling their cars, or to breathe less. I do agree with you about the need to reduce sprawl – shall we start be removing all of Oregon’s coastal cottages and woodland cabins, the dirty little secret of getting around Oregon’s nationally-touted urban growth boundaries and anti-sprawl measures? Maybe we could cut off all access to Oregon’s forested rural roads and fire roads, make the state into one giant wilderness?

VS
Guest
VS

You don’t know what you are talking about. Here are citations. Now stop the flippant snark.

2021 Government report beats a 2019 stat:

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=43895#:~:text=EIA%20uses%20a%20fossil%20fuel,hydro%2C%20solar%2C%20and%20geothermal.&text=Natural%20gas%20consumption%20in%20the,generation%20from%20retired%20coal%20plants.

And the reason is that renewable s in the US make up the vast majority of capacity additions: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=46416

Jim Calhoon
Guest
Jim Calhoon

Here is a great video electric bike vs electric car
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBSJQc15ztM&ab_channel=TFLbike

GAW
Guest
GAW

Save Afghan cyclists: An inspiring group of female Afghan cyclists were viral years ago. Now they are in a desperate attempt to escape the Taliban and their US-based advocate says it’s time to step up and help them.

We are not going to be able to airlift the entire non Taliban population out of Afghanistan. They will have to resist or be crushed. It’s sad but if billions of US taxpayer dollars and extensive training by the US and NATO failed to allow them to fight off the Taliban it’s now going to to be an uphill battle. I wish them the best!

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

If the “West” imposes sanctions on the Taliban regime and cuts off energy supplies to Afghanistan, and if refugees leave the country, will that reduce Afghanistan’s net greenhouse emissions and carbon footprint?

climate_realist
Guest
climate_realist

“Electric Vehicle Won’t Save Us”
“Why EV’s are false prophets in the fight for a better world.”

People who promote this kind of anti-science propaganda are the flip side of the “wind turbines cause cancer” climate change denier coin.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Mostly agreed. I do agree that automobile transportation will become close to zero carbon in the future. The problems are: (1) we won’t get there nearly soon enough, and (2) it doesn’t help with other problems like scalability/density/congestion/livability, which can only be solved by changing to different modes of transportation. But that said, people who act like battery electric vehicles are some kind of climate change solution hoax are definitely part of the problem.

Jeff Allen
Guest
Jeff Allen

Agreed. Another week, another click bait headline not even supported by the article itself. Disappointing.

ivan
Guest
ivan

The problem with NEPA:

“A transit agency is designed to operate transit, not build transit projects,” said Paul Lewis, the Eno Center’s director of policy. “And then once a decade we tell all the staff, ‘Go ahead and build a $3 billion megaproject.’ There’s not necessarily the support or staff in that agency.”

So true.

Alex
Guest
Alex

It’ll be interesting to see if 13th Ave in Eugene bucks the trend of protected bike lanes leading to higher ridership. Most local cyclists hate it because you have to stop at a signal every few blocks — the city ignored protected bikeway best practice & didn’t create left turn lanes for cars at most intersections, which means that cars end up with most of the green time while people on bikes wait. The signal timing has been tweaked since it opened so you don’t have to stop every block anymore, but it’s still a frustrating experience if you’re going more than a few blocks.

Meanwhile, the Eugene Weekly is wrong as usual. The INVEST act was stripped in the Senate and replaced with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs act, which has now passed and will go into reconciliation after the recess. As people who don’t read Eugene Weekly may know, the Senate didn’t include most of the progressive policy & funding that DeFazio’s bill had. There is a chance that some of it will be added back in reconciliation, but the INVEST act isn’t “in the Senate now” as the Eugene Weekly reported on August 20th.

Eugene
Guest
Eugene

You’re right that the infrastructure bill is mostly up in the air. With all the freeway emphasis, I’d bet it comes out a net loss for alternative transportation/climate.
As for 13th, their are light issues, but it’s a big improvement from the one way, narrow and disappearing and dangerous bike lane that it replaced. The biggest fault with the project is that it didn’t extend the last block and connect into campus. Car parking was a higher priority than human safety and the environment.