Monday Roundup: Heavy e-cars, a bike tunnel, the Amish, and more

Welcome to the week. Here are the most notable stories our writers and readers have come across in the past seven days…

EV-car weight warning: When a crash research expert at Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is worried about the weight of large electric cars — especially as it pertains to the safety of bicycle riders and walkers — you know we have a problem. (IIHS)

African women racers: The UCI will field a record number of female competitors from Africa during the upcoming road racing season, an excellent sign that could inspire a whole new generation to follow suit. (Cycling News)

WFH and parking lots: This national look at parking reform specifically mentions what could be a nail in the coffin on parking lots: the shift to work-from-home instead of the downtown office. (NY Times)

Amish and e-bikes: Given how simple, yet efficient battery-powered bicycles are, it should come as no surprise they have become a preferred transportation mode for many Amish people. (Electrek)

Dancing in the dark: New Strava data reveals that women ride, walk and run much less often in the dark than men do. (Cycling Weekly)

Boldly carfree: At almost five miles long, the new bike tunnel in Bergen, Norway will be the longest in Europe. (Euro News Green)

Consultants, costs, and concerns: A must-read about how the lack of institutional knowledge about transit projects at American government agencies is one of the main reasons it costs to much to build them. (Slate)


Thanks to everyone who shared links this week.

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Joseph E
18 days ago

The new bike tunnel is 2.9 km long, or 1.8 miles (not 5 miles as stated originally). That’s still quite long! The total route is 4.8 miles but only half is tunnel.

“Running parallel to the new light rail line that opened in November, the tunnel doubles as an escape route for train passengers. 
“Basically, it is an escape tunnel for the tram. But then there were wise minds who said that it is possible to cycle through this tunnel as well…”

squareman
squareman
18 days ago
Reply to  Joseph E

Came here to make the same observation.

Joseph E
18 days ago

This post (in Norwegian) has a map and aerial photo showing the bike tunnel route: https://www.hordaland.no/nb-NO/bybanen-utbygging/sentrum-fyllingsdalen/fylllingsdalstunellen/ – and here’s the approximate location on Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/opLuUAx7hAPQ4YfM9 and OpenCycleMap: https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/677727136#map=15/60.3525/5.3127&layers=C

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
18 days ago
Reply to  Joseph E

When I shared this news item with Jonathan…the other important item I pointed out is that this enhanced bike ped transport access was built for a small increase in cost since it upgraded the required emergency passenger access / maintenance tunnel for the light rail line. This can be a lesson learned for use in our regional DOT projects…I am looking at you IBR.

maxD
maxD
17 days ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

this is what Portland SHOULD have done when they built the streetcar viaduct from MLK to the Tillicum- it is almost criminally negligent that that doesn’t include bike/ped facilities.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
18 days ago

My spouse and I had the privilege of including Bergen on our honeymoon, with the extraordinary bonus of having a local friend that was more than excited to show us many of the regional sights. The tunnel infrastructure that is utilized in and around Bergen is spectacular, and an immense help getting people where they need to be. I’m not surprised at all that they would have produced a tunnel that’s only present competition is fairly close to their sister city. I especially appreciate the utility and creativity of using an emergency in this recreational way.

jakeco969
jakeco969
18 days ago

In regards to Dancing in the Dark, I’m surprised the author felt the need for Strava confirmation on something that seems pretty apparent. The linked article strikes a very optimistic tone that talking to other men will greatly reduce the incidents of harassments and assault.

squareman
squareman
18 days ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Things that can seem anecdotally apparent can be entirely wrong when the data is examined. This is confirming with actual data that the perception is not wrong. It’s a matter of avoiding confirmation bias. Even then, Strava has a peculiar dataset in that it relies on gearheads with means. So, grain of salt on its specific accuracy, but the wide-brush observations are likely close enough.

blumdrew
blumdrew
18 days ago

Concerning consulting costs in transit – this is what happens when every transit agency is run on an austerity budget. There’s no money to retain enough competent staff to manage large projects, so we end up spending far more than we need on consulting services/fees (the “honest graft” side of public works if you will). TriMet’s “Forward Together” plan was prepared by Jarret Walker and Associates – and while I think they do fine enough work it’s disappointing that TriMet can’t even re-design their own bus service without outsourcing.

A memory that worms holes in my brain is listening to a TriMet senior planner refer to Division as a “historic streetcar corridor” (when talking about the FX project) despite the fact that it never actually had streetcar service . The Richmond Line ran primarily on Clinton, and Division has “good street bones” owing more to being a survey line road than anything else. A throwaway point – but it represents the lack of institutional knowledge at TriMet to me.

Chris I
Chris I
18 days ago
Reply to  blumdrew

There is value in third-party type reviews. They don’t have the history/baggage of our local transit managers and advocates, and they have experience from many cities around the world. I think the Forward Together plan is a great idea, but yes, it would be great if Trimet was doing these reviews and restructures more often.

blumdrew
blumdrew
17 days ago
Reply to  Chris I

There is a big difference between “third party review” and “consultant redesigning the system”. What history/baggage are you referring to? I mean it’s good to have outside perspective – but from what I can tell, there are thousands of Portlanders with pretty good ideas for how TriMet should run things. Can’t they consult them?

Do the consultants share all the decisions behind each and every bus route change? I would think so. But by not actually doing the work of deciding each of those changes, TriMet loses the chance to have people on staff who deeply understand why certain routes are prioritized over others. When the region inevitably changes in the next 5 years, TriMet will need to go back to the consultants for a new plan rather than to their own staff. And in the long term, this means we pay much more money than we need to.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
17 days ago

That Norwegian tunnel is nice but in a place like Portland where lawlessness prevails, it would be full of trash, camps, and illegal activity.