The Monday Roundup: Walking school buses, bikes at Best Buy, Williams Avenue soul, and more

Posted by on September 7th, 2021 at 9:37 am

Welcome to the week.

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

Walking school buses: Great to see this concept get more attention as more cities realize the vast benefits of walking to-and-from school together

Where are all the electric delivery bikes? Cargo bikes have many advantages over trucks and vans when it comes to urban freight delivery, but U.S. cities must do more to discourage the latter if they want the former to reach their potential. European cities have already figured this out!

Smarter on the charter (review): Portland’s form of city government doesn’t work well and the charter review effort wants to change it. Here’s a very helpful breakdown of what you need to know about the issue.

Get them into permanent shelters: A bright spot in the effort to get people off the streets, says this op-ed from homeless services advocates, is funding from Metro’s new Supportive Housing Services Measure that is finally starting to bear fruit.

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Simple and smart: Using Apple’s AirTag technology, a young engineering student sells a $17.99 bike theft tracker that easily attaches to your bike in the form of a reflector.

The soul on North Williams Ave: Learn about the cultural legacy of Williams Avenue in this OPB story about The Albina Soul Walk.

Bikes are now technology products: In an interesting sign of how far the e-bike and electric micromobility market has become, Best Buy now sells a line of transportation products.

Poll on walkable neighborhoods: A new Pew Research poll reported by Vice shows that many Americans say they’d rather live in places where destinations are not within a walkable distance.

Thanks, Elon: Oregon State Police say a woman who was drunk hopped into her Tesla and expected it to drive her home by itself. You know how this ends.

Video of the Week: A South Korean handcycling champion shares with the BBC why the sport means so much to her:

Thanks to everyone who sent in links this week!

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

Regarding the Pew Poll on walkability: it was really a question about house sizes. According to the poll, the choice was whether you’d prefer to live in a community where houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores and restaurants are several miles away; or a community where houses are smaller and closer to each other, but schools, stores and restaurants are in walking distance. In other words, the question was whether you wanted a big house and a big yard or a small house and small yard (or apartment). Is it really surprising if, given that choice, most people would prefer having more space?

The question also showed a marked increase in preference for big house and big yard between September of 2019 and now, which I don’t find all that surprising given what’s happened in the intervening time. I wonder if the numbers will change once the pandemic is a few years behind us.

Bread
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Bread

I am not sure anyone expected nor intended it to be “surprising”.

What it does, though, is help solidify the known-trends and provide a “baseline value” that can be monitored as we move forward.

Like you say, it is not surprising. Our culture is firmly built around the car, and there is considerable historical and societal reasons for that. We have fully normalized and internalized car culture.

However, car culture in its present form not sustainable. We need to move away from it.

It is not a “universal constant” that a population would break this way on such a poll. Our result is a product of our built-environment. We will need to make other ways of living “the path of least resistance”.

This poll gives us a starting point by which to judge those future actions as more or less successful in providing appealing incentives to live in a more sustainable way.

Jason
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Jason

The delivery bike sector is a really rich space for e-bikes to operate in. Even in Portland (it’s a bike city right?) there’s so few of them. I would think this would be the sort of place you could find a lot of people to do that work, and a market to provide service to.

Doug Hecker
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Doug Hecker

Drove by a tesla yesterday on 84 and the “driver” was shaving. No hands on the wheel.

sam
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sam

bestbuy has sold ebikes before

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

Smarter on the charter (review): Has anyone come across any city that residents think is working really well? Every city I’ve lived in, residents bitch about how poorly the city government works, how corrupt the district representatives are, the lack of transparency from the (unelected) city manager’s office, blah blah blah.

Watts
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Watts

The grass is always greener, right? I think there is nearly universal agreement that Portland’s government is not working, but it is hardly clear that the problem is the structure rather than the people we’ve elected. Everyone wants to try something different, but there is no evidence that any of the proposed alternatives would work better if we continue to elect people like we have recently.

I don’t think the structure is the problem. I think we need bolder leadership.

Middle of the Road Guy
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Middle of the Road Guy

I mean, there was a time when things DID get done with the same structure, right?

Jason
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Jason

I mean, there was a time when things DID get done with the same structure, right?

Perhaps, but consider the evolving political environment, introduction of new protocols and controls, eventually any structure will break down and need to be rebuilt or updated.

damiene
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damiene

Everyone wants to try something different, but there is no evidence that any of the proposed alternatives would work better if we continue to elect people like we have recently.

I don’t think the structure is the problem.

At some point, I think it’s safe to say the structure is partly responsible for the leadership outcome (and I’d argue that “some point” is pretty well behind us).

One of the things I spend most of my civic time on is electoral reform, most specifically the very way of voting itself (you’ll see me championing STAR voting not infrequently whenever it’s relevant in BP comments), but there’s an important caveat to that work: A better voting system, much like a better system of city government, does not guarantee better results. It’s just that the inverse does prevent better results: Plurality voting mixed with at-large mixed executive/legislative positions will continue to deliver what we’ve continually been getting. Cue quote about insanity and different results and all that.

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

If the ODOT director was directly elected rather than appointed by the governor, or you had something similar to Mississippi where the 3 regional transportation commissioners are directly elected, do you think you would get better results at the statewide level? Similarly, if Portland voters directly elected the police chief like they already do for the county sheriff, or the PBOT director, do you think the city might get better results?

damiene
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damiene

I don’t believe changing the seats or the election of certain seats will change much as long as they remain single-member districts elected with plurality voting. Multi-member districts, yes (though that doesn’t fit every case – we only have the one police chief, after all). Non-vote-splitting/no-spoiler voting methods like STAR and approval, yes. Again, no guaranties – but these alternatives would enable better options to come along.

More directly to your question, I wonder personally if opening up more positions as elected ones is the answer – the average voter isn’t an educated expert in most things. But as long as we have solid ways of electing the people who will pick out those positions, I think that’s fine (I fully include myself in this, by the way – for example, I always skip over State Treasurer because I don’t know a thing about finances at that level nor do I have the time or wherewithal to change that ignorance, so I can make no significant distinction between candidates).

At the end of the day, changing the system won’t change the voters. But it would be nice to have a mayor with actual majority support or a city council that isn’t individually elected by basically the same 51% over and over again.

soren
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soren

a woman who was drunk hopped into her Tesla and expected it to drive her home by itself. You know how this ends.

Blaming an individual for some random person choosing to drunk drive and crash their car is bizarre when Musk is guilty of crimes against humanity (ATMO) by hoarding billions of dollars that could have been put to productive use.

If the desire was to highlight Musk’s penchant for fraudulent claims this is exactly the worst case to do so.