Welcome to the week. Hope you have had a great holiday so far, and I know many of you are still on winter break. We are back at the office but will still be on a limited schedule now through the New Year.
The Roundup is made possible by Showers Pass, makers of quality waterproof rainwear and gear that’s proudly designed and tested right here in Portland. Use code “bikeportland22” and save 20% at ShowersPass.com.
Here are the most notable stories our writers and readers came across in the past seven days…
When helmet hair is no joke: The lack of helmets that fit the hair types of many Black riders is a persistent hurdle toward moving cycling culture beyond its white-centric status quo. (African American Intellectual History Society)
Compact city: Portland has “20-minute neighborhoods,” but the Japanese city of Toyama is one of several in that country being hailed as a global leader in an anti-sprawl, “dumpling and skewer” approach. (The Economist)
Prison labor: A central California prison inmate started a bike donation program and refurbished 200 bikes for kids in need while he was incarcerated. (California Dept. of Corrections)
E-bikes for cops: If the Portland Police Bureau wants to beef up its downtown bicycle unit’s capabilities, they’d be wise to consider these recommendations. (Bicycle Retailer)
Sleeping with the enemy: The cycling world’s largest magazine glowingly reviewed Ford’s, $99,000 electric F-150 pickup truck, saying it’s the “ultimate e-bike accessory.” (Bicycling)
How to revitalize downtown: Portland leaders should read every word of this article which perfectly sums up how we must shift our perspective for central city planning away from business interests and office workers, and toward what people actually want. (Slate)
Car replacement ally: Global bike brand Canyon sees the opportunity to convert car owners to an e-bike lifestyle and plans to add more utilitarian models to its line-up. (Financial Times)
Highway be-gone: The Massachusetts DOT plans to remove a waterfront highway in order to turn 17 acres of land into new housing with walkable neighborhoods. (Streetsblog Mass)
IBR boondoggle: The editorial board of a Seattle-based news publication warns that the Interstate Bridge Replacement project should be seriously right-sized lest it ends up becoming a “boondoggle.” (Seattle Times)
Video of the Week: An electric cargo bike with a snow-plow attachment in the front. Someone in Portland should do this. Heck, the City of Portland should do this! I’m sure someone could figure out a leaf and gravel-sweeper attachment. Right?
Thanks to everyone who shared links this week.
Helmet Hair: I work with a community nonprofit that gives bikes away to inner city black kids and to immigrants and refugees here in NC. In general most kids and adults we work with will take the helmets we give them but never actually wear them (nor use the locks we give them), but the one group that keeps demanding helmets from us are black teen girls 10-16 who all have friends who have been in crashes. They too have issues with helmets not being designed to handle their beehives and dreadlocks. An XL helmet doesn’t really work well, as the forehead isn’t properly protected, and hair itself isn’t much of a cushion in a severe crash. At one point a helmet company had a helmet with a huge “pony tail port” in the back, but it was only available for a year or two in 2010 or so, never to be seen again.
If anyone finds a good solution for such a helmet, there are lots of nonprofits and public agencies willing to buy the helmets in bulk for giveaways.
Our community has a large Major Taylor bike club, 90% black and white-collar professional, all of whom consistently wear helmets (they keep their hair shortish), so the idea of helmet use being racist white versus black is all bunk.
At some point, we’ll run out of things to label “racist”. But the race hustlers are always working tirelessly to keep us divided.
I didn’t read every word of the article, but the message seemed logical and clear–that the helmets that are available don’t work for many black people because of their hairstyles. If it flat out said “bike helmets are racist” I don’t see that as a inaccurate description of the issue.
It reminds me of a common news subject–dress and grooming codes in schools that, for instance, prohibit hair styles such as cornrows or Afros. Yes, the rules also apply to white students, but white students are far less likely to want to have those hairstyles.
It’s also similar to poor product choices in other areas for black people, for women, for lefthanders, or anyone else outside the group the rule or product creators have in mind (although there are many cases where dress and hair codes were almost certainly created specifically to target black people while pretending they weren’t). Swim cap manufacturers are only beginning to offer racing caps that work for people with long hair. Women have been compromising forever trying to use products–clothing, running shoes, furniture–designed for men (people that are larger and heavier, generally). Lefthander are almost always overlooked. If someone described those products that don’t work for those people as racist or sexist (or handist?) I’d be fine with that, too.
I’m sure it’s possible to use those product or rule shortcomings to further division, but in the vast majority of cases (as with this article) I think people are just pointing out real problems they face in everyday life caused by their having needs ignored or overlooked by people who make products or create rules.
Who is saying the “idea of helmet use is racist white versus black”?
Please read my words carefully. I’m saying that the fact that there are not helmets that fit Black hair well is one result of a system dominated by the needs of non-Black (aka white) people. In no way am I saying racist white people have something to do with this in a direct way… But it is part of the systemic hurdles faced by Black people in what has long been a space culturally dominated by white people.
JM, the discussion on race was in the article, it wasn’t something you yourself wrote. Helmets have always been designed for people with short hair, black, white, or any other color – folks with a lot of hair have always complained about bike helmet design.
ok thanks. Sorry if I am over-sensitive to this topic. Just want folks to know what’s going on in case they parachute into these comments and assume you and others are referring to something I wrote.
This is probably for the same reason other headwear works better for people with less ebullient hair styles. I don’t think there is a racial dimension at all; it’s just a difficulty inherent in the nature of the problem of needing a tight fitting helmet when there’s a lot of hair to contend with.
How do the Legion guys make it work?
Giro needs to team up with Noggin Boss. Please, please google Noggin Boss.
Fire, wheel, the Renaissance, vaccines, flight, computers, man in space, Noggin Boss.
Cool! But do they make helmets?
You know, we could solve this whole issue if everyone had an Australian mullet: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-australia-64048499
IBR Boondoggle: The thing that really worries me about much of the press coverage and discourse regarding the IBR is how the “extra” stuff is being framed. The discussion seems to center around the inclusion of mass transit and biking/walking facilities as somehow radically pushing up the cost of the project. I don’t mean to minimize the cost of those facilities – building things means spending money – but the bigger issue is the miles of freeway widening that is being included in the project. Building rapid transit across the river is a no-brainer. Using the project to turn I-5 into some 12 lane monstrosity just feels so out of touch given our regions climate goals and the dozens of freeway widening projects elsewhere that have done little to “fix traffic”.
Helmet Hair: depending on the day, I’ve got a 3a/3b curl going, and wearing a helmet really does dictate how much hair you can grow. With a short cut, I am a down-the-middle medium, but there are definitely times I have to cram into the largest setting of a one-size-fits-most.
The Lazer fit isn’t best for me, but I do use that brand of helmets because the Rollsys system adapts easily enough that I bother to use one at all.
We have Asian-fit eyewear, and yet helmets…
Really? The one article y’all get hung up on is the one about helmets, that most worthless and unnecessary of cycling accessories?
And not a single comment on any of the several more relevant and substantive articles posted, such as the Slate article on downtown revitalization?
Small minds, people!
The Ford truck article is incredibly unserious. Even a middle class person could be working a week or more each month, for 5 years and 4 months, to finance that POS. That week could translate to 4 travel days and 5 days of riding, or 2 and 6 with a rest day. Time out of your life is a big cost of MV ownership.
MTBs aren’t considered suitable for approaches (!) but I think a person who needed to get out could get to some pretty nice places in 8 hours of riding. Also there are buses and trains but who puts their sweet bike on the front of a bus?