Monday Roundup: Bike hater warning, Seattle’s sweepers, rolling coal, and more

Welcome to the week.

Here are the best stories we’ve come across in the past seven days — all from sources you can trust.

E-quivalent: After a court case raised the question, the European Court of Justice has clarified that electric-assisted bicycles should definitely be defined as bicycles, not “motor vehicles.” (Forbes)

British city fights back: Birmingham is one of the most car-centric cities in the UK, and people who live there are tired of drivers and their cars holding their quality of life hostage. (Guardian)

Body image and mobility marketing: References to calorie intake and body fat reduction are common in active transportation messaging; but new research suggests more sensitive language and framing could shift focus away from body shaming. (Streetsblog USA)

A warning for the haters: This essential read lays out the case that a growing anti-bike, pro-car movement will likely backfire because it only serves to energize the vast majority who prefer people — not car — friendly streets (as the Broadway bike lane scandal illustrated so beautifully!). (Streetsblog NYC)

Rolling coal consequences: Ebay is facing billions in fines from federal environmental watchdogs for selling illegal devices used by truck owners who like to “roll coal.” This news makes me simultaneously sad (because the people who do this are so terrible) and happy (that their enablers will be caught). (CNBC)

Told you so: A new scientific study shows that people who mostly walk and bike (instead of drive) are inherently more engaged in building toward the common good because of the increased social cohesion and community-building that’s inherent in using a mode that doesn’t isolate them inside a metal box. (Journal of Environmental Psychology)

Carfree in Phoenix?: A development in Arizona called Culdesac, where people live in a European-style development without cars, shows that there’s demand for walkable neighborhoods. (Guardian)

Electric bike lane sweepers: The City of Seattle has one-upped Portland with the introduction of a mini, electric bike lane sweeper that can fit in their protected bike lanes. (Electrek)

Portland, the outlier: Data from smartphones shows that Portland is still lagging behind other major U.S. cities when it comes to cycling’s rebound after the pandemic. (Axios)

Getting back out there: If you’ve had a serious, traumatic crash, here’s some advice on how to get back into the pedaling groove. (Bike Radar)

Road rager shooting: In just the latest example of vehicle-based violence, a harrowing incident of a driver who shot and killed someone and injured another in downtown Portland after a bout of road rage. (The Oregonian)


Thanks to everyone who sent in links this week. The Monday Roundup is a community effort, so please feel free to send us any great stories you come across.

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.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

81 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
blumdrew
7 months ago

Concerning bike trip rebound, Portland’s 44 trips/1,000 persons is still pretty close to the top of the bunch (NYC and SF lead by a lot, with Chicago, LA, San Diego, Denver, and Portland the next few). Just something worth keeping in mind

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

is still pretty close to the top

If you had lived here in the teens, blundrew, you would realize how annoying this toxic positivity is to those of us who experienced the feeling of ease and safety (in numbers) that came from having ~7% bike mode share.

Will
Will
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

If you were self-aware you’d realize how annoying this toxic negativity is to those of us who live here now.

blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I live here now, and bike almost every day. It’s pretty good, and I usually see other people biking too. Sure, it could be way better and I lose sleep thinking about it, but in the context of biking in the United States, Portland is definitely in the top echelon.

Guy
Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the “7% mode share” you refer to was always illusory. It can evidently only have reflected a very fragile, momentary equilibrium state, which was easily disrupted by exogenous factors, notably, the pandemic of course, which also upended so many other patterns of daily life.

No mode share statistics under double digits can represent any permanent, fundamental shift in transportation behaviors, until large nunbers of people see fit to dispense with car ownership altogether. So long as the vast majority of one’s transportation costs are fixed, upfront, one time expenditures, instead of daily, variable ones, the economic force of gravity dictates that motorism remain wholly dominant.

pierre_delecto
pierre_delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Guy

It was ephemeral but the behavior of motorists often felt like mutual respect whereas now there is far too much open hostility.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

That 7% mode share is simply
A – What people reported when they turned in the American Community Survey during that particular year, during a time when more people actually did fill out written surveys; and
B – Was for work commute trips only.

It’s possible that just as many people are riding today as way back when, but they are likely not filling out as many ACS forms as they used to, and might not be commuting to work as often by bike. In fact, people willing to fill out paper forms these days is becoming increasingly rare.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

It’s possible that just as many people are riding today as way back when, but they are likely not filling out as many ACS forms as they used to,

The Census ACS data and Portland Bike Count data (some of which comes from from automated counts) had eerily similar trends.

As someone who rides for transportation just about every day, it’s all too common for me to never see anyone else cycling. The difference between now and 2014 is like night and day.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

The difference between now and 2014 is like night and day.

Agreed. Falloff deniers probably have no real history riding here, or don’t remember what it was like in the good years.

To be clear, my personal experience riding is as good as ever; we have lots of new facilities with none of the crowding that used to plague them, and our greenways are quite good. There’s just not that many other folks out there riding.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I also find NGs to be about the same as in the past (e.g. ranging from good to poor [e.g. those not updated to paikikala’s full greenway standard]).
.
However, my experience riding in bike lanes during peak traffic hours is not good at all. Driving speed is elevated, close passes are more frequent, intrusions into bike lanes by drivers/equipment are common, and red-light running (with cross traffic) is ubiquitous*. IMO, this new environment is suppressing transportation cycling.
.
* Running a red light with no cross-traffic is one thing but running it 3-6 seconds after it has turned red with vehicles and vulnerable road users poised to cross is a vicious form of narcissism.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago

The sharp drop in transportation cycling in Portland is unique among major west-coast cities.

Census ACS cycling mode share in Portland and San Francisco (adjusted by removing work from home):

comment image

Portland was among the first in the USA cities where transportation cycling became a political wedge issue. I suspect that ongoing “bikelash” has played a major role in undermining transportation cycling in this city.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

political wedge issue, “bikelash”

Sadly, many in the bike community perpetuate this with their “war on cars and the drivers or cars” rhetoric.

You among them.

pierre_delecto
pierre_delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I’m not a fan of the “war on cars” subculture bike cult at all. I would like to see the minority of people who viscerally understand how important transportation decarbonization is for global well-being to study and commit to radical theories of change. To do this we need mature advocates who are willing to power-map the opposition* and potential allies, engage in targeted direct-action/messaging that peels off support for our car-centric system, and create coalitions with marginalized demographics and like-minded left-wing groups. Unfortunately, cycling advocacy has become closely associated with bougie libertarians and I think it will take the creation of new grassroots movements to dispel this association.

* City governments and their nonprofit-industrial complex are part of this opposition, IMO.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
7 months ago

I had a new doctor (I was looking for a new primary physician) say the phrase BMI to me once – and I asked for another doctor.

There are population level correlations between body fat % and BMI, but the assumption that people with higher body fat can’t be healthy and the assumption that any individual is somehow represented by the population averages are both so far wrong that I couldn’t trust anything else he had to say.

Now, I do watch my weight as I age – I have knees with barely any cartilage left and keeping my weight down helps them a lot – but that’s a late 50’s guy with a really good reason not to carry extra weight around, not a kid.

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

I agree with your point.
But I’m curious, for me as a person who (until recently) my doctor has suggested losing weight as well as feeling like my knees are betraying me – if taking some weight off your knees now helps, wouldn’t it have been good to take that weight off them for the entire 50 years also? Maybe even better? Just wondering if it’s specifically weight that helps grind down the cartilage (i.e. a long cumulative effect), or if that just happens on its own and taking some weight off helps to lessen the pain.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

With me it was injury.

Blew out the right knee when I was 33.

Also, the job I did for over 10 years required a lot of up and down.

Add that to an apparent family tendency toward cartliage breaking down and ….

I know people my age who are heavier and played sports as much (more even) as I did who have no knee issues at all.

I’m nearly bone on bone in my right knee and the combination of keeping it moving in a low impact manner and the weight loss have made the last 12 years nearly pain free in that knee. (that’s even though I have an awful tendency to push high gears cause I love to put the power down and go fast 🙂 )

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

I know people my age who are heavier and played sports as much (more even) as I did who have no knee issues at all.

For sure, and I get that. I’m jealous of those people’s luck! Genetics, what you’re born with play a big role (maybe the biggest?). But all things being equal, I think at least for me, I wish I spent the last 20 years with a few pounds less on my knees for all the up and down they were going to be doing anyway. Same for my back.

That’s good to hear that it’s possible to keep it nearly pain free despite the challenges. I was on a multi-day group ride recently, and a woman there was telling me about her own arthritis in the knees and yet she just did the same long ride I did. She mentioned keeping the muscles strong helps.

You ever try an oval chainring? I’ve heard conflicting opinions about how they may help with knee pain.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

The setup on a ‘bent is a little different (and different between low BB and high BB bents) – some folks swear by them.

i’ve never been curious enough to go through the exercise of getting them setup right.

dan
dan
7 months ago

Re: e-bikes, definitely a lot of gray area there. I’m in Bend now and yesterday was driving next to two cyclists on ebikes for a few minutes. They were keeping up with traffic (35 mph on a local arterial) and didn’t pedal at all while they were in my sight. They stayed in the bike lanes, but moved to the car lane at traffic circles (Bend has many traffic circles, and bike lanes irritatingly feed onto the sidewalk at traffic circles, then cyclists are supposed to cross like pedestrians).

Looking at them, I definitely felt these were motorcycles, not bikes, and you should need some kind of license to drive them. The particular cyclists I saw yesterday were adults who were riding predictably and using signals, but there’s been a lot of angst here about the many teenagers who ride ebikes with the speed governors defeated. I think we need some clearer standards here to define when an ebike is actually an electric motorcycle.

Chris I
Chris I
7 months ago
Reply to  dan

Was also in Bend this past weekend, and saw some tweens tearing around the park on a walking path on e-bikes (no pedaling observed). This was right next to a playground.

TK
TK
7 months ago
Reply to  dan

If the e-bikes you saw in Bend were keeping up with traffic at 35mph without pedaling, they have the capability to operate with throttle only. I have no problem with classifying e-bikes that can be operated by throttle only as electric mopeds or motorcycles, depending on attainable speeds. The pedal assisted e-bikes that are available in the US cut motor assistance at 20 or 28 mph depending on the class. I have no problem with separating legal classification of the throttle capable variations from the true pedal assist bikes where they require one to pedal to move and have an upper level where the assistance cuts out.

dan
dan
7 months ago
Reply to  TK

Also important to note that a number of e-bike brands are now selling bikes where the speed governor is easily defeated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLb_dSaLmlc. These companies (barely) maintain plausible deniability, but it seems clear this is a sales point for them. Lots of discussion here in Bend of teens making bad decisions on ebikes that are capable of 40+ mph.

TK
TK
7 months ago
Reply to  dan

I have no doubt there are all sorts of people pushing the limits to see what they can get away with. All the more reason legal standards regarding the different classifications of electrically assisted and powered bikes needs to be clarified and then enforced. Of course, the fly in the ointment is enforcement, as we have all seen how well that has worked out over the past few years for motor vehicle scofflaws. Adding electrically assisted or motorized bikes to the equation complicates the enforcement piece significantly. It’s difficult to determine just by glancing at an e-bike what type it is, unless it’s moving without someone pedaling or going extremely fast.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  dan

the speed governor is easily defeated

Sweet! I’m trying to do that on my regular bike, but I can’t find any wires.

John V
John V
7 months ago
Reply to  TK

The whole pedal-assist vs throttle question just seems so besides the point to me, I don’t agree that it should factor into the classification at all. How much assistance is OK? Why? What if it goes up to 28mph so long as I put in 5 watts of power? Is this just some weird form of gatekeeping?

It seems like the real things to be concerned with are top speed and weight. I don’t care if you have to put in some sweat equity or not, although for health reasons it’d be a good idea. Mainly I care about the safety, scalability (i.e. you can fit so many more bikes than cars) and sustainability.

TK
TK
7 months ago
Reply to  John V

I don’t disagree that speed is the more crucial criteria.

Guy
Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  dan

I was just tooling around the other day on a friend’s high end ebike, and was astonished above all by its *acceleration*. And it had definitely NEVER been tampered with. So I submit that the greater hazard (at least, for riders!) could lie with acceleration and not velocity.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
7 months ago
Reply to  Guy

Both maximum speed and maximum acceleration can be reprogrammed on most ebikes.They are in fact separate issues and separate controls.

Charley
Charley
7 months ago

Concerning the “road rage” shooting:

I’ve been threatened numerous times while riding my bike, over the years, and those experiences have made me a little touchy on the bike. About a decade ago, I got very reactionary when someone tried to squeeze me off the road, and the driver and I got into a dumb fight on the street. Luckily, bystanders calmed the situation down before the police arrived.

After that, I got myself into anger management counseling, which has helped. I’m very grateful that no one has ever pulled a gun on me.

If you find yourself reacting to jerk drivers, please just remember that no satisfying retaliation is worth being shot to death on the street. Anger management techniques can help channel that energy in a better direction.

dw
dw
7 months ago
Reply to  Charley

These days I’ll just give people thumbs down when they do something stupid. Whenever drivers yell at me I just respond with “thanks for the feedback, have a nice day.”

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  dw

I just visualize sidewinder rockets launching from the underside of my trike’s cruciform and blowing them up.

I wonder if they think I’m weird when I grin like that at them?

dan
dan
7 months ago
Reply to  Charley

Yeah, I almost always smile and wave which 1) defuses situations and 2) gets under their skin as much or more than giving them the finger

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
7 months ago
Reply to  Charley

My current move is to just do a big, dejected exhale and head hang. Maybe a lowkey, side-to-side head wag (in my mind I’m saying, “really? c’mon”).

My intent isn’t to interact with the offending driver, but to ideally get a few other bystander/drivers to understand what just occurred. And honestly it seems to work! I’ve had other drivers roll down windows and say things along lines of “Yeah I saw that, sorry man, I’ll keep my eyes out.”

BB
BB
7 months ago

The road rage incident is great example of how off the rails our gun nut society has become and also a good example of why we can’t have unarmed street response types doing any kind of traffic enforcement.
For those who advocate it, be my guest to confront people like Mr Hammond, and he’s not an outlier anymore.

X
X
7 months ago
Reply to  BB

Well he is an outlier. I know very well that lots of people are out there handling their guns, but if you ask a person who owns guns, that person will almost certainly tell you that Mr. Hammond was over the line. Even for the worst day of your life, shooting two unarmed people is an outrage.

BB
BB
7 months ago
Reply to  X

There have been 250 murders in the last 2 1/2 years in Portland and 3 times that numbers of shootings that missed…..
He is not an Outlier.

X
X
7 months ago
Reply to  BB

Knowing that some of the people who are already angry have guns in their possession I will not slap a car at any time in the future.

However while riding in traffic getting shot is not what I worry about because random shooting is still not normal. What I worry about is ‘nice’ people looking through me and driving in the space where I am. That can happen at any corner on any day and somehow it is normal and not news.

PS
PS
7 months ago
Reply to  BB

Of course it’s an outlier, that’s why it is news, and why you’re reading about it on a “bike blog”.

It is also a great example of how unhinged the driving public is to think it is remotely a good idea to exit your vehicle and aggressively approach another vehicle while screaming at the driver. Had he not shot the camera man, he likely had a legal leg to stand on.

idlebytes
idlebytes
7 months ago

I wonder why there’s such a discrepancy between this StreetLight Data reported by Axios and PBOTs. PBOT says cycling dropped 35% and StreetLight says it dropped 8%in that same time period. That’s a pretty big discrepancy and makes me wonder which is more accurate.

Perhaps StreetLight is capturing other modes that are similar to bikes like scooters and other e-machines. It’ll be interesting to see if this years counts changed significantly now that PBOT is counting those other modes.

B
B
7 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’ve counted the same intersection (a fairly busy one) for the PBOT manual counts for several years including pre-pandemic and at the height of cycling here. The PM commute numbers are way off. The 2023 count is half of the 2018 count. It’s down to 44% of the 2017 all time high. The addition of scooters, one wheels and such to the forms this year did not move the needle much.

I would suspect the Axios data might be better than PBOTs. With Work From Home continuing to be prevalent and the somewhat limited scope of PBOTs counts I’d expect Axios’ cell phone data to be a better measure.

Will
Will
7 months ago
Reply to  B

I think it’s also that the window of “commute hours” has spread significantly. Prior to the pandemic we needed to be on site by about 7:30 AM. Now, most are working from home, but if they go in it’s usually later in the morning after morning meetings.

pierre_delecto
pierre_delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Will

The willingness of “say nice things about Portland” liberals to ignore the fact that cities with higher work from home percentages have not seen Portland’s cycling mode share decline is reactionary motivated thinking. This stubborn denial of Portland’s cycling regression is anti-cycling.

Will
Will
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre_delecto

I don’t exactly know what you’re griping about. I was pointing out that “commute hours” for those who still commute have extended – making a bike count during traditional commute hours less accurate.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Will

Portland’s in person counts were highly correlated with data from 24/7 counts leading PBOT to concluded that there was no evidence of time-of-day bias.

Robert K
Robert K
7 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

Because the big data available that is leveraged for such analysis is not appropriate to use for making either claim. It’s an estimate based on various assumptions and black box. Your devices don’t capture enough data (at scale for a population) to support these claims. Get out and conduct ground truth counts to see what I mean.

pierre_delecto
pierre_delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

 StreetLight is capturing other modes

I would not be surprised if StreeLight data is capturing slow drivers, joggers, and runners and mis-assigning them to “cycling”. I’ve seen this happen with both the samsung health app as well as the fitbit/google app and I kind of doubt that Streetlisht has access to all of the data these apps have access to. (I suspect that StreetLight only has access to crude speed estimates via geolocation.)

X
X
7 months ago

Sweepers: Portland operates street sweepers largely at night, and there’s probably a set of reasons for that. As a person who rides a bike frequently, I’d be happy to share the lane with a sweeper once in a while. The city does street construction and sewer clean out work in the daytime, why not bike lane sweeping?

Uiop
Uiop
7 months ago
Reply to  X

Amen to that. I’m already sharing bike lanes with delivery vehicles, illegally parked vehicles, Uber drivers, armored trucks, police vehicles, maintenance vehicles, etc… Might as well add street sweepers to the mix if we’re not going to make any effort to exclude the other interloping vehicles.

qqq
qqq
7 months ago
Reply to  X

Daytime bike lane sweeping would interfere with the various vehicles that need to park or load in it.

J_R
J_R
7 months ago
Reply to  X

I have yet to see Portland’s mini sweeper or any evidence that it is being used. Roads with “protected “ bike lanes, such as B-H Highway, accumulate leaves and other debris and become unusable. Since plastic wands don’t really provide protection and prevent regular sweeping, I question whether protected lanes are a benefit. With regular sweeping, the answer may be yes. Without, I think it is no.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  J_R

I have reported piles of leaves in protected bike lanes that were eventually removed. So unless a fairy magicked them away, I can only assume the bike lane sweeper is being used.

Yes, the lack of attention to maintenance can be a pain. But just throwing our hands in the air and saying “Welp, I guess we’ll all do ‘vehicular cycling'” is not really an option for the majority of the public that may not feel comfortable biking in 35 mph traffic on Beaverton–Hillsdale Highway.

Designing streets to be safe means designing them for everyone—including women, children, seniors, bikeshare riders, delivery workers, and disabled people—not just the stereotypical confident, able-bodied male cyclist.

https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/designing-ages-abilities-new/ages-abilities-user

J_R
J_R
7 months ago

There are intermediate choices between protected bike lanes and vehicular cycling, namely “regular” bike lanes and buffered bike lanes.

I contend that the plastic wands that have been used by Portland to define protected bike lanes do so little to protect cyclists from errant motorists that the deduction in maintenance (ie. sweeping) that they may be worse than buffered bike lanes (6′ plus 2′ buffer).

Your experience with getting plies of leaves removed is different than mine. I have had little luck with timely responses but still have ODOT dispach, PBOT maintenance, and Parking Enforcement numbers stored on my phone.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  J_R

“Regular” bike lanes are often just as un-maintained and full of leaves, muck, gravel, etc. So that doesn’t seem like much of a solution (the attached photo was taken in March, several months after the last leaves fell).

Paint-only bike lanes are also less attractive to the majority of “interested but concerned” riders worried about safety, which matters a lot if we want to get more people out of cars.

https://trec.pdx.edu/news/research-reveals-perceptions-safety-and-use-protected-bike-lanes

IMG_2023-03-25-18-17-10-193.jpg
Matt
Matt
7 months ago

An important caveat to the e-bike ruling story is: In the EU, e-bikes are legally limited to no more than 250 watts of motor power. Compare that to the 1000 watt motors some people are using around here, and you’ll understand that the latter really is more of a motorcycle or moped than a bicycle.

To put these power numbers in context: Millions of people can sustain 250 watts of human power output on a bicycle for a sustained period. But only the world’s top sprinters can reach 1000 watts of output, and that’s only for one minute before stopping to rest for a good while.

Edit: I was thinking of the famous video of Robert Förstemann powering a toaster with his legs. It was for one minute, but that was only 700 watts, not 1000. And you should look at the size of his thighs!

Guy
Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt

After taking a friend’s high end ebike for a spin for about a week while on vacation, my enthusiasm for ebikes generally (never very high to begin with) has already diminished considerably.

My worst fears about ebikes are being increasingly confirmed.

1) They are too powerful!
Even with speed governors, they can accelerate far too rapidly. People who are not skilled at riding a regular bike are going to get into even more dangerous trouble on an ebike. And they are being marketed specifically at that niche, of the least skillful and experienced riders, as being an easier, more palatable alternative to regular mechanical bikes!

2) They are going to breed dependency.
They are also being touted as fashionable, must-have “upgrades” over traditional mechanical bikes. This means many people who could just as well have gotten by swimmingly while reliant on solely their own metabolic power will start believing that unassisted pedalling is “too hard”.

3) They will, accordingly, displace less expensive, lower impact mechanical bicycles at a much faster rate and long before they make any dent in auto dependency.

For most people, ebikes are destined to become expensive, fashionable new consumer toys, boosted by “green” marketing cachet. The promise of being able to ride a bike as a “values statement”, but with scarcely any additional physical exertion required, is simply too seductive. The morbid fear and dread of “breaking a sweat” outside of socially sanctioned venues for it, like a member’s only gym, has finally been banished by our saintly “technological innovators”!

In the meantime, GDP will rise incrementally as a result, while the whole planet just continues to burn unabated or even faster still, and yet more previously untouched, wild landscapes like Nevada’s Thacker Pass are despoiled for “strategic minerals”. All of it merely to ensure that more of our Saintly Job Creators© can keep safely strutting Musk-like down their private jet runways.

Matt
Matt
7 months ago
Reply to  Guy

Comment of the week! You put it better than I could’ve.

pierre_delecto
pierre_delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Guy

They are going to breed dependency.

The blood-curdling horror of shifting dependency from hulking anti-social and ecocidal SUVs to e-bikes.
.
It’s time for you to get off your vintage bike, pull down your white gym socks, and pick a side. Are you for rapid decarbonization or gatekeeping cycling so that it remains some weird and/or anachronistic cult.

Guy
Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre_delecto

Even if there really were all these SUV owners you fantasize about suddenly renouncing them in favor of ebikes, on account of newly miraculously acquired moral scruples, do you really believe they’re more likely to melt those SUVs down for scrap metal, than they are to just sell them to others with less scruples than themselves?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Guy

do you really believe they’re more likely to melt those SUVs down for scrap metal

If they drive them less it’s still a win. I don’t think e-bikes are some sort of panacea but anything that gets some people out of their bloated monstrous SUVs is good.

Guy
Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre_delecto

BTW: During WWII, the US government, far from endlessly eulogizing the glories of the “free market” as a panacea for saving civilization from fascism, instead adopted comprehensive rationing and wage-and-price controls to ensure the successful prosecution of the war effort. So if today, faced with the even more dire threat posed by climate chaos, you or anybody else DID propose that those SUV owners be required to melt them down for scrap metal, and accept ebikes in their stead, you could count me in!

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Guy

you or anybody else DID propose that those SUV owners be required to melt them down for scrap metal

I’d be cool with melting down all the cars that people in inner Portland drive. I’d also be cool with melting the rest down once we give people on the periphery alternatives (transportation or housing location).

PS: I know that sounded a bit YIMBYish but I vehemently reject the idea that our glorious “free” market is able to address its negative externalities.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I vehemently reject the idea that our glorious “free” market is able to address its negative externalities.

I would contend that no system ever devised has managed, or even attempted, to address even a sizable chunk of its negative externalities.

I’m not even sure it’s possible while supporting a population of 8 billion.

Guy
Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“No system ever…” This is handwaving deflection, divorced from history and material reality. As if we didn’t have a very legible record by which to compare and contrast the effects of different policies. (Viz, the example I just gave, of the aggressive policies adopted by the FDR administration in conducting public affairs during WWII, an acknowledged existential crisis.)

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Our resident Clear-Eyed Realist™ has arrived to throw cold water once again on the idea that things can ever get better. I’m reminded of the words of Saul Alinsky:

“These Do-Nothings profess a commitment to social change for ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity, and then abstain from and discourage all effective action for change. They are known by their brand, ‘I agree with your ends but not your means’.”

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

throw cold water once again on the idea that things can ever get better

As the resident optimist, I believe things are significantly better now than they were in the past, and that the future will be better than the present. So you diagnosis on that point is way off.

But you are right in saying that I am not an “ends justify the means” kind of person; history shows that usually ends badly.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

and that the future will be better than the present

Climate and biodiversity crisis denial.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Climate and biodiversity crisis denial.

Not at all. Both are very real, and very serious.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

So things are getting better but a planet with 8 billion people is unsustainable? Make it make sense.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

I believe both are true. I also think human population is likely to fall in the future, following trends in the West and Asia. As people get richer and more educated, they seem to have fewer children.

This strikes me as happy state of affairs, aligning everyone’s incentives.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

We already grow enough food for 10 billion people. Population is not the problem: https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/how-feed-10-billion-people

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

Of course population is a problem. Every environmental issue we face would be easier with 1 billion people rather than 10 billion.

It’s not the only problem but it exacerbates all the others.

If we continue improving the standard of living of people across the world, population growth will naturally take care of itself without trauma. This is going to happen independently of whether or not you or I think it’s a good thing.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I’ve got bad news for you, since world population is projected to stabilize at around 11 billion by 2100. Blaming human population growth for ecological problems came into fashion in the 1970s, but since then most experts have realized that the main drivers of climate change are inequality, the over-consumption of the rich, and unchecked capitalism.

https://theconversation.com/why-we-should-be-wary-of-blaming-overpopulation-for-the-climate-crisis-130709

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

I don’t blame overpopulation for the climate crisis; I blame our use of coal and oil, which provided enormous benefits, but have also worn out their welcome.

With 10% of the population (assuming today’s distribution), we’d have burnt a lot less, and thus there would be a lot less CO2 in the atmosphere. Even without a pressing climate crisis, we might be transitioning away from fossil fuels at this stage (the economics are what’s driving the change), so delaying the buildup of greenhouse gasses by 30-50 years might have been enough to avoid the current crisis altogether.

I really don’t see any rational counterargument for that.

Regardless, the way to slow population growth is making the poorest better off, and that strikes me as a good thing.

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You mean there’s no rational counterargument to a wild guess about what might happen in a completely hypothetical scenario with no relation to our current reality? I guess not, because the argument itself is not rational.

There’s no plausible scenario in which world population is reduced by 90% while maintaining “today’s distribution” of infrastructure, wealth, people, whatever.

Discussing total population in a climate context is a red herring when the poorest half of the global population are responsible for only around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from lifestyle consumption:

https://policy-practice.oxfam.org/resources/extreme-carbon-inequality-why-the-paris-climate-deal-must-put-the-poorest-lowes-582545/

Screenshot 2023-10-31 at 8.11.04 AM - Edited.png
Alex
Alex
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Slightly nitpicking point but in that video the 700 watts was the input power of the toaster. Robert had to put out a fair bit (twice? Ish) more than that to overcome the efficiency losses between his legs and the toaster. It makes what he did far more impressive. 700 mechanical watts for a minute is still quite good but not unheard of.

Laura
Laura
7 months ago

Regarding E-bikes as motorcycles, NYTimes had an article in late August, “As Teens Take to E-bikes…” mentioning two brands, Super 73 and Talaria, that are marketed to teens, and while speed limited, the manufactureres readily share how to disable the governors. The Talaria is cited as being able to go 70mph. This is not a “bicycle.” Super73 is also marketing “e-balance bikes” to 4 year olds, capable of 15 mph with no pedaling. Wow.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
7 months ago

It’s important to note that in the US, most insurance companies absolutely consider e-bikes as motor vehicles and so your homeowner insurance will not cover it if it’s stolen. I don’t think a lot of people in high bike theft areas are aware of that until they unfortunately try to make a claim.

socially engineered
socially engineered
7 months ago

Gotta hand it to The Oregonian. Even when reporting on a shooting spree in broad daylight by a wealthy financier in an SUV, they’ll still find a way to complain about homeless drug users lol

John V
John V
7 months ago

To be fair, that guy got bamboozled by the crypto scam and plowed all his money into it, he might be a homeless drug user soon too. Well, actually now hopefully he’ll have a state funded home for a little while.

(He has a million dollar home, but probably doesn’t own it).

Guy
Guy
7 months ago

Yes. He was an imposter merely *posing* as one of the Saintly Job Creators© and Problem Solvers, the superior caste of magical fairy dust people to whom society owes its continued existence, when in reality he was actually one of the inferior caste of poors, those who *create* all the problems. But the truth will out! (NB for the irony impaired: I am being purely sarcastic here.)

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

“serves to energize the vast majority who prefer people — not car — friendly streets (as the Broadway bike lane scandal illustrated so beautifully!)”

I didn’t hear anyone outside the bike community talking about Broadway. It’s a bit of a stretch to say that the issue energized the vast majority of people, or even a sizable minority. I’d be surprised if even 100 people were “energized”.

If Broadway illustrated anything, it was that the bike community in Portland isn’t completely dead, and can still fend off the most terrible ideas, even as it seems to fold in front of proposals such as reducing bike parking in new apartment buildings, and eliminating it altogether for larger format bikes.

We are not, as the linked article suggests, on the brink of a human-powered transportation revolution.