Monday Roundup: Sunak’s rampage, businesses that love bikes, and more

Welcome to the week!

Here are the stories you should know about, from sources you can trust…

School pick-up lines are a policy failure: A school in Austin, Texas has taken its staff of traffic duty because drivers have become so aggressive while waiting to pick-up their students. (KXAN)

Bikes are good for business, actually: It was refreshing and inspiring to read about how business groups in major cities nationwide are embracing more bike and pedestrian-friendly urban design; yet it was bittersweet knowing that our own Portland Metro Chamber has typically been more of a car advocacy group. (Bloomberg)

Covid’s impact on cycling: A new report from a Big Data analytics firm shows strong growth in cycling nationwide since 2019, but the numbers show a notable decline in Portland. (Streetsblog USA)

UK wrong way: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak thinks car drivers in his country have had it so rough he wants to dismantle what he views as anti-car efforts like low-traffic streets, lower speed limits, and bus priority lanes. (Guardian)

E-bike threat: An opinion piece from New York City that paints a scary picture about heavy electric bikes endangering pedestrians. (NY Post Opinion)

Transit provider bails out bike-share: Houston’s transit provider, METRO, will spend $10 million to launch its own bike share system in order to prevent a degradation in service. (NPR Houston)

Large truck threat: As the data begins to line up more and more, it should be harder for the automotive industry to deny that their predilection for huge, aggressive truck and SUV designs is killing more Americans and needs to face smarter regulation. (Associated Press)

E-cargo bikes at auto dealership: Toyota says it’s no gimmick as they plan to sell an electric cargo bike model at hundreds of stores in France. (Forbes)

More green-ways: Colombia introduced the world to open streets and inspired our Sunday Parkways — now they’re leading the way with “green corridors.” (BBC)

Don’t drive, please. We’ll pay you!: Cities are so desperate to reduce driving that a program being piloted by LA’s version of TriMet will pay people up to $600 to not drive their cars. (LA Times)


Thanks to everyone who shared links this week!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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cc_rider
cc_rider
2 months ago

I’ll truly never understand conservatives. Conservatives killed the UK’s economy for the foreseeable future. Conservative policies have led to record high fuel, food, and energy prices. Yet conservatives still vote for people like Sunak because he will address their perceived slights like having to drive 20 mph and get punished when they break the law.

Hopefully Scotland can break free and rejoin the EU. The English are on their way to not being able to afford to own and drive cars anyway, might be a boon for biking and public transit to be honest

Fuzzy Blue Line
Fuzzy Blue Line
2 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

“Conservative policies have led to record high fuel, food, and energy prices.”

I don’t know if your comment is only intended to take a swipe at UK conservatives or ALL conservatives (but I’ll venture a guess). Just in case you’re keeping score at home fuel, food, and energy prices are all up by large percentages in the US as well since 2020. But of course that’s all due to failed conservative policies as well or Covid or both. Take your pick 😉

cc_rider
cc_rider
2 months ago

Just in case you’re keeping score at home fuel, food, and energy prices are all up by large percentages in the US as well since 2020.

Yes, the United States is also run by conservatives. Luckily the Democrat party is slightly less conservative than the UK’s Conservative party. We still have a far-right coalition that can poison most legislation due to our broken system of government.

But of course that’s all due to failed conservative policies as well or Covid or both. Take your pick

The UK is doing worse than the United States, Germany, France, etc.. We all experienced COVID. Germany is/was more reliant on Russian energy yet Germans pay 17% less per kilowatt hour.

Of course, thats just the tip of the iceberg for the British Conservatives. The real travesty comes with the Conservative gutting on the public service system. The British pay more to live and receive less in services than they did ten years ago.

Aaron H
Aaron H
2 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

The general populace didn’t vote for Rishi Sunak. To your point, they did vote for Brexit and they did vote for Boris Johnson, albeit indirectly, but they didn’t vote for much else that happened since. In a parliamentary system of government, people elect the members of parliament (MPs), and the MPs vote for prime minister. The last general election in the UK was in 2019. Boris Johnson who became prime minister in 2019 resigned, was succeeded by Liz Truss, and then Truss resigned and was succeeded by Sunak. Votes happened in parliament for those prime ministers, but no election took place, not for Truss or Sunak. Right now, the polling is showing that Labour is ahead. Of course, because of that, it wouldn’t be in Sunak’s best interest to call an early election before the one scheduled in 2025, so he probably won’t.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron H

In a parliamentary system of government, people elect the members of parliament (MPs), and the MPs vote for prime minister.

This is true in general, but the vote for Sunak and Truss was a different process altogether involving not only the MPs in the conservative party, but also the thousands of dues-paying members of the party:

Wikipedia: The principles of the procedure for selecting the leader of the Conservative Party are set in the party’s constitution, while the detailed rules are agreed by the 1922 Committee executive in consultation with the Conservative Party Board. Nominations for the leadership are invited by the chairman of the 1922 Committee, who acts as returning officer. When nominations close, a list of valid nominations is published. If there is only one valid nomination, that person is elected. If two valid nominations are received, both names go forward to the party membership, whose numbers equate to about 0.35% of the UK electorate. If more than two nominations are received, a ballot is held within the Parliamentary party. An exhaustive ballot system is used to select two candidates to go forward to the party membership.

Damien
Damien
2 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Hopefully Scotland can break free and rejoin the EU.

My fingers are crossed for breaking free and not joining the EU – while certainly better than the British government, the EU is still a neoliberal/austere institution.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Damien

If you are not Scottish, why do you care whether they are part of the UK or the EU or whatever?

Matt
Matt
2 months ago

Thank you for acknowledging the dangers of ebikes in an urban environment. My friend who is a trauma nurse at OHSU says she’s seeing a disproportionate number of ebikers showing up after nasty crashes. If it handles more like a motorcycle than a bike, then I think it should be regulated like one too.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

An e-bike is just a slow electric powered motorcycle. Or a fast motorized bicycle. We don’t have neat categories anymore; it’s all a spectrum.

surly ogre
surly ogre
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I agree Matt, e-bikes can be a danger in an urban environment and I have heard about people riding electric scooters getting into nasty crashes too. E-bikes need stronger regulation, for sure.
Thanks Jonathan for also acknowledging the dangers of cars and trucks in an urban environment. It seems to me that we need stricter controls on class three and perhaps even class two ebikes AND the people who operate them. In a similar way, we need stricter controls on horsepower, vehicle weight, and operator age for all internal combustion engine vehicles operated on urban and suburban streets.

dw
dw
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

What I think is interesting – anecdotally, of course – is that people who already use bikes for transportation tend to go for slow, pedal-assist only class I ebikes. Myself included. Folks who are already biking have fresher bike handling skills, knowledge of traffic rules, and more situational awareness. Lots of guys who haven’t ridden a bike since they were 12 go for the 750w amazon special that they ride 30mph in flipflops.

IMO the main draw of ebikes should be how they can help you with hills – not speed. I stay around 10-14 mph and am perfectly happy.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  dw

If you have a longish commute 10-14mph isn’t even close to enough.

Right now I’m riding the Red Line MAX from Beaverton to Goose Hollow then riding the 15miles to work. (pretty flat, just a short climb to 14th, a slow roll through town because of the new light timing at Broadway, then the long flat run to the Milwaukie MAX station, a gentle climb up Lake, up Harmony and up Sunnyside – probably not more than 200ft of climbing all told).

1.5hours at 10mph
65min at 14mph
55min at 16+
50min at 18mph

With Monday legs and luck at the lights I can hit 50min. Today it was about 55min – missed McLoughlin, 82nd and Hwy 212 lights 🙁

I’m 56 now, but the day may come when I can’t keep up that pace, at which point I’ll be adding an e-assist. Not for hills (a little for hills) but to keep my average speed in the 17-18mph range.

Of course, 250W will be more than adequate. Since I probably don’t produce more than about 200W average over that run spiking to 275-300 for short stretches where I want to get through quickly.

dw
dw
2 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

I would argue that’s a pretty long commute on a bike. Definitely out of the range where “normal” folks would be hard-pressed to get out of the car. For those situations, that’s where better transit is the solution. My commute is about 5 1/2 miles but entirely uphill in the morning. So the e-assist keeps me from showing up to work in a puddle of my own sweat.

SD
SD
2 months ago

Downtown businesses, like many businesses, are in constant competition for the attention of customers. Why would any business want to cede that attention to the inside of a car? Are some downtown businesses so selfish and egocentric that they think people only come to see them and that the health of surrounding business ecosystem is not important to their success? Make people get out of their cars and see each other, see the parks, the sculptures, the cafes, and the store window fronts!

John V
John V
2 months ago

That NY Post article was a real frustration to read. The writer identifies several problems that are not e-bikes themselves that would cause the (supposed) uptick in deaths/injuries from bikes, but then just skips on by to red herrings.

Food-delivery apps have added tens of thousands of e-bikes to city streets, and their couriers, under pressure to pick up and drop off their wares quickly, disobey stop signs, red lights, and one-way signage; they also ride on sidewalks.

Yeah so maybe there is a big problem. Maybe look at that. That’s not the e-bikes, that’s a barely regulated exploitative industry that maybe should be scrutinized a bit.

The city theoretically limits e-bike speeds to 25 mph, the default speed limit for all vehicles. But owners illegally modify the bikes to go faster.

Oh, there, look at that, another non-e-bike specific problem. Maybe look into that instead of “ban e-bikes!”.

And e-bikes are heavier than traditional bikes,

I don’t think that really maters. “Traditional” bikes are like 30 pounds. E-bikes might be 70 pounds. The rider and all their cargo are comfortably around 200 pounds. E-bikes don’t make a very big difference in weight here. The weight difference certainly doesn’t explain any noticeable increase in injuries.

E-bike- and moped-driver inexperience compounds the dangers associated with these vehicles’ weight and speed.

This is always such a stupid canard. I mean, sure we (or I at least) hope that e-bikes increase bike ridership. How many of these people never rode a bike? And how long can “inexperience” actually last? This is not a compelling argument to me. You learn how to navigate within days or weeks of actually riding around and if there is really a significant number of people picking up new e-bikes, the number of “inexperienced” riders will be very small.

do not understand that moving 18 mph is dangerous to themselves and to pedestrians.

Everybody understands this.

A traditional light-weight pedal bicycle on a sidewalk is a nuisance; a heavy, fast-moving e-bicycle or moped on a sidewalk is a potentially deadly weapon.

Nonsense. Again, the total weight difference is like 20%. Not enough to explain this huge increase in danger being alleged. 25mph is fast, a speed many “traditional” bicycle riders comfortably get to.

I’ll grant that most cyclists aren’t going 25mph most of the time, and maybe the bikes should be limited to more like 20. I don’t know. As to people going faster, it really sounds like the problem is people modifying the bike and speeds not being enforced.

Streetsblog’s insistence on focusing solely on cars and trucks is especially misplaced

It’s not misplaced focus to pay attention to the vastly biggest most deadly problem.

Also, when the number of deaths caused by cyclists (of any kind) is so small, any random variation is going to be a huge increase or decrease percentage wise. Like if one person died last year and two died this year, that’s a 100% increase! Ooooh scary! But it’s statistical noise. It’s not that it should be ignored but it doesn’t actually point to any real trend.

Anyway, there are so many problems with these arguments. That’s not to say that it should be the wild west, things should be regulated and rules enforced. And certainly, delivery companies held accountable. But this kind of fear mongering post exists just to drum up support for banning e-bikes and it’s transparently bad faith.

Nick
Nick
2 months ago
Reply to  John V

There was a good episode of “The War On Cars” about bike lanes in NYC recently that provides a lot more context than the clickbaity Post article does: https://thewaroncars.org/2023/08/08/teaser-chaos-in-the-bike-lane-with-aaron-gordon/

John V
John V
2 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Thanks, yeah I listened to that episode when it came out. It’s good and thoughtful. It points out actual issues that should be addressed in some way (who knows how?). But yeah, my problem is just that this NYPost article is the fear-mongering type which is truly in the same vain as conservatives like Rishi Sunak lately or for that matter the Broadway scandal via Mapps et al. Lets find a scapegoat and try to use it to backslide on real progress!

EP
EP
2 months ago
Reply to  John V

This stuff is always so cheesy. “Uh, oh, bikes are here. “SOUND THE ALARMS!”

Fixed the article for them:

RIDE-SHARE apps have added tens of thousands of CARS to city streets, and their DRIVERS, under pressure to pick up and drop off their FARES quickly, disobey stop signs, red lights, and one-way signage; they also DRIVE/PARK on sidewalks.

The city theoretically limits VEHICLE speeds to 25 mph, But DRIVERS go faster.

CAR and SUV-driver inexperience compounds the dangers associated with these vehicles’ weight and speed.

A traditional light-weight pedal bicycle on a sidewalk is a nuisance; a heavy, fast-moving VEHICLE or moped on a STREET is a potentially deadly weapon.

socially engineered
socially engineered
2 months ago

I trust the Murdoch-owned New York Post about as far as I can throw one of the Murdochs lol

dw
dw
2 months ago

RE: School pickup lines – I am a teacher and helped direct traffic in the the pick-up/drop-off line at a previous job. It was a nightmare. The school had no buses (charter school) and only about 5 families walked their kids to school.

People were showing up at 2:30 to get a spot at the front of the line for 3:30 dismissal. By the time they got their kid in the car, they’d be screaming at me because they couldn’t wait an extra minute for everyone else’s kids to get in their cars.

Mornings were even worse. Parents who were stressed and running late would treat staff horribly. Stuff like yelling threats at us, trying to hit us with their cars, etc. One morning someone came within inches of pinning me to a concrete wall with their SUV – I yelled “what the fuck is wrong with you” and got reprimanded later that day because “swearing is unprofessional.”

Another parent screamed and honked at me for standing in front of their oversize pickup so that I could help some kindergartners cross. They came to parent-teacher conferences that evening as cordial as ever, like it never even happened. It was so surreal. I almost said something but didn’t believe it could possibly be the same person who had threatened to kill me that morning.

Thankfully I am now at a school where the majority of kids ride the bus or walk to school. Mornings and afternoons are much more normal.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  dw

We paid a big premium to live in a neighborhood where we can easily walk to and from school, and most of the parents do as well. We maybe get 10-20% who drive, and the threat/danger that cars present are incredibly stark and obvious when the numbers are so small. If we could just eliminate the small portion who do drive, or ban them from a 2 block radius around the school, there would be no danger for anyone. I don’t know why this isn’t a PPS policy at more of the walkable schools.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

We maybe get 10-20% who drive,

Nice wishful thinking.

I doubt there is a single public school in the City of Portland where less than 40% of parents drive their kids to school.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

So you’re attacking a made-up statistic with another made-up statistic? Cool.

John V
John V
2 months ago
Reply to  dw

Man, charter schools shouldn’t exist. They’re just a wedge to eroding the public school system and this is a great example of their failure. They cut corners and waste money on profits in some cases and take resources from regular public school, making things worse.
At the very least though, no charter should ever allow a school to exist that doesn’t arrange for transit.