Monday Roundup: Musk scams, urban doom, and more

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Welcome to the week. We hope you had a nice holiday.

This week’s Monday Roundup is made possible by Showers Pass, makers of quality waterproof rainwear and gear that’s proudly designed and tested right here in Portland!

Here are the most notable stories our writers and readers came across in the past seven days…

Pipe dreams: The worst thing about Elon Musk ghosting cities after promising to build tunnels to “solve congestion” is that some city leaders actually fell for the grift and delayed real solutions. (Wall St Journal)

KGW strikes again: Our local NBC affiliate has once again offered a stinging critique of a non-car project because a business owner is afraid of how it impacts car users. (KGW)

But wait, there’s more!: Musk is the subject of a DOJ probe for allegedly misleading people about just how “self-driving” his Tesla cars are. (Bloomberg)

Car replacement: If you’re skeptical of anecdotal evidence about the e-bike revolution, there’s also serious research that proves how electric cargo bikes can easily fill in the role of many cars. (Science Direct via David Zipper)

Rebates in CA: Now that Oregon has an active e-bike rebate bill, we’re keeping closer tabs on how the policy is going in other states like California, whose rebate program is slated to start next year. (Electrek)

Just one year: The American justice system meted out just a one year sentence to a Coloradan who admitted driving carelessly and then killing another road user. (Daily Camera)

Go by train: Two weeks ago we shared how a group of activists in Amsterdam rode bikes onto the tarmac to stop private jets from taking off. Now France has taken the admirable step of banning domestic airplane flights between cities that have a rail connection. (Daily Kos)

The City that pays its enemies: Don’t miss this exposé from former leader of Business for a Better Portland’s Ashley Henry about the problematic budget arrangement between the City of Portland and the Portland Business Alliance. (Medium)

“Urban doom loop”: The urban ecosystem that has thrived for the past three decades has been given a massive shock thanks to covid and the vast increase in work-from-homers — and dwindling public transit revenue might be one of the largest victims. (NYT Opinion)

Video of the Week: Local ride organizers Evergreen Gravel Racing have created an excellent film about one of our region’s best all-terrain routes


Thanks to everyone who shared links this week.

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Michael Mann
Michael Mann
1 month ago

re. the KGW article: “…a guest’s door got hit by a bicycle” = victim blaming at its finest. And was the cyclist injured? Hello?

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

Ya that really bothered me too. A guest opened their door into an active travel lane without checking and probably injured someone and damaged their property. If they had opened it in front of a car it wouldn’t even be mentioned because obviously it’s the guest’s fault.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  idlebytes

Except in this case the cyclist is on “the wrong” side of the vehicle. If PBOT had placed an auto lane between the loading zone and the curb, the reaction would have been the same.

This is a facility design issue, not a bicycle vs. car issue.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

The real problem here is not a clueless hotel manager, but rather that PBOT put the bike lane right through a hotel loading zone. It’s a fundamentally bad design; most people don’t expect traffic between them and the curb in front of a hotel. And if the protection is insufficient to protect riders against car doors, then, well, it’s insufficient.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Doesn’t change the fact that the cyclist didn’t run into a door. The passenger doored the cyclist.

I hate parking “protected” bikelanes. There’s just one of the reasons (stuck between a curb and a car, no room to cheat outside of the door zone).

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

A cyclist was doored from beyond a protected lane. Blame the driver, blame the hotel manager, I don’t care; they are a symptom. The underlying blame should be on PBOT for building a design that made this sort of incident inevitable. And it will happen again.

Passengers in parked cars just don’t think about vehicles traveling between them and the curb, especially when unloading at a hotel. Many have never been in Portland before and don’t know how where the bike lanes are. Any design that bases someone’s safety on something that goes against a lifetime of conditioning is simply broken.

So sure, passenger is at fault for a potentially apocryphal incident we know nothing about. Hotelier is victim blaming. But what matters is that PBOT’s design is inherently dangerous, and they should have known that.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Exactly. For many guests, stepping out of a car at the hotel curb (now not quite the curb) is literally the first step they take in the city.

It’s a dangerous design, doomed design.

And not great for biking, either–aren’t people biking required to yield to people getting in and out of cars (on a bike lane meant for commuting at that)? And in this of this dooring, maybe the rider DID yield, saw that nobody was ahead of them, and proceeded, only to have a door flung open by someone who had no idea to watch for bikes on the passenger side.

It would be like putting a bike lane in the same space as the clearance area at the passenger side of an accessible parking space. Oops, that’s what NYC just got sued for (recent BikePortland article).

Isn’t a main tenet of Vision Zero to avoid designs that guarantee dangerous conflicts?

I really like the new lane configuration as a pedestrian, but when I walked past the Heathman last weekend, it looked really sketchy for safety. I don’t know the solution, but I think it may have to involve keeping bikes on the street side of any drop off zone.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

It was DC, and not NYC, and no, cyclists are not required to yield to people getting in and out of motor vehicles, the motorist and their passenger are required to yield to the cyclist, they are not in a crosswalk, they are opening their door(s) into traffic.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Nope, I’m not buying your argument. Even thought it may in fact be a poor design, hotels don’t get priority access to public right of way for the convenience of their guests. The hotel has other less hazardous locations to conduct their business and they need to figure out how to manage this part of their business in a safer way.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

The situation by the hotel was a lot less dangerous before the city took action to make it more so.

And while you are proving your point, people are going to get hurt.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Personally I would never ride in that bike lane, I would be riding in a traffic lane to the left of those parked cars. The same goes for the previous door zone bike lane to the left of the parking lane.

But again, ORS 814.420 comes into play once you leave the bike lane. I suppose you could argue to the cop and/or judge that the bike lane is unsafe to use due to the hotel’s curbside activities, but that’s really something you would never have to do if ORS 814.420 wasn’t on the books.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

Ride over on the left and be “preparing for a left turn”.

Of all the streets downtown, Broadway is the one that most needs good bike lanes (perhaps the only one). That’s why this situation is so frustrating to me.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

Hello? This is not a new story, the Heathman Hotel’s valet drop off area has been in direct conflict with cyclists on Broadway for at least the last two or three decades now, and I’m sure there are old stories on BP that will confirm this.

Also, for what it’s worth, this is a Gordon Sunderland-owned property, you may recall him as a Trump toady and discredited former US ambassador to the EU.

soren
soren
1 month ago

Does Oregon have an active e-bike credit program? As far as I can tell it only has a proposal for legislation (as per bike portland coverage).

Power has delivered on her promise: In the 2023 legislative session, Oregon will have the opportunity to enact a government-funding e-bike purchase incentive program.

LC 1994 was prepared by Power and her staff and has since been handed off to Representative Dacia Grayber (D- 35 Tigard), who will sponsor the bill this coming session.

The City that pays its enemies: …

City government has been dominated by the PBA for many generations. The PBA can better be described as the puppet master of city government.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago

Ashley Henry’s article is excellent. In the late 90s and early 2000s PBA more or less coerced the City under Vera Katz to not install bike infra on the rebuilt bus mall and crack down on Critical Mass rides, while at the same time fighting against city code requirements for secure bike parking in downtown office buildings. The PBA has also opposed Better Naito and other alternative transportation projects in the downtown core.

Either the PBA needs to go, City Hall needs to grow a spine and some cojones, or both.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

When I served on the PBOT Budget Advisory Committee 2009-2015 we were all fully aware of the financial relationship between PBA and the city, and the various quid pro quo subsidies – this is old news. Late 90s/early 2000s sounds about right for when this started, but I’m sure Mr Ankeny and Captain Lovejoy were doing it too. We heard of similar but smaller arrangements between the city and various familiar nonprofits, even bike-related ones, each of the seven district coalitions, and of course most if not all the neighborhood associations – not as much money of course, but the same corrupt principal.

The reality is that all governments are corrupt to some extent – it really boils down to how much corruption you as a taxpaying individual can accept versus how much well-functioning government you are willing to personally manage. Most people are not willing to personally manage any level of governing aside from voting and jury duty, so they let things slide, trust overworked mid-level bureaucrats to make the decisions, and so on. And you get the city you pay for.

In the community I now live in, all 9 of our city councilors are in cahoots with various consulting contractors, many with family ties or former business associates – very illegal – but also highly tolerated as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. It’s the same thing in state and county governments.

In response, the City of Portland will form a 19-member stakeholder advisory committee made up of various nonprofits and business leaders, all of whom benefit from the current levels of corruption. Wanna guess the result?

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I was on the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee between about 1991 and 2003 and no one at the City I worked with openly admitted to the financial relationship between the City and the PBA; meanwhile PBA reps were routinely placed on project-specific Advisory Committees like the one reviewing the city bike parking code and all they did was hamstring the process.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 month ago

It sounds like the Heathman needs to stop relying on the city subsidizing their operation and find a way to invest in a private drop off zone. Plenty of other hotels have them.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I’m sure that will happen, right after the city stops “subsidizing” everyone else who uses the public streets (except apartment parking, which seems to be ok for some reason).

But while that’s getting sorted out, PBOT needs to fix this segment of the bike lane if they don’t want people to get hurt.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

LOL, three decades and you’d think the Heathman would finally get a clue.

Jimbo
Jimbo
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

So your solution is to remove bicycle infrastructure to accommodate a single hotel that should invest in an unloading zone but won’t. The interests of the rich tourists and a selfish business far outweigh the locals and tourists who use this lane to cycle around our city. Of course PBOT needs to accommodate every single businesses particular whims with taxpayer dollars when they could solve the problem with their own money.

PS
PS
1 month ago
Reply to  Jimbo

Where would they “invest in an unloading zone”?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Jimbo

“So your solution is to remove bicycle infrastructure”

No. I would not remove bicycle infrastructure from Broadway. I have no idea why you would think that. But I would not put a bike lane through a hotel loading room. That’s just daft.

I think it would make a lot more sense to route cyclists around the outside of the loading zone so the conflict between vehicles and cyclist is where people would expect it to be. If that didn’t work, I would consider moving the bike lane through the other side of the street, which would also make it easier to make a left turn towards a Hawthorne bridge, which is something many cyclists do.

Does anyone know if the bicycle advisory committee gave their thumbs up to this design?

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I agree that so-called “protected” bike lanes – where parked cars provide the protection – are really problematic. I don’t like them, for all of the reasons you mentioned. I prefer to ride in a bike lane that is on the driver’s side of parked cars.

I wish we could find a way to address the needs of the “protection” crowd while actually improving cycling infrastructure. Everything PBOT does seems like a hack.