Monday Roundup: Blaming the victim, speeding tech, adaptive bikes, and more

Welcome to the week.

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

Work in government? Please read this: The standard pedestrian safety messages that come from DOTs and other government agencies usually miss the mark because they don’t focus on root causes and tend to blame victims. (Route Fifty)

New acronym day: ISA is short for Intelligent Speed Assistance; technology that warns drivers when they’re speeding with messages, sounds or haptic cues. We should all add that to our quiver of talking points and knowledge bank because the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has finally called for it to be added to all new cars. (Fast Company)

Car design kills: I am very pleased this issue continues to move into the limelight. When groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) call out car hood design it gives city and state DOTs more reason to create policy to address it. (IIHS)

Not just any pedestrian: “If a 6-foot-7 basketball player is hard for a driver to see from behind the wheel of a vehicle, how does anyone else stand a chance?” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Dude, where’s my rebate?!: Surely if Bloomington, Indiana can figure out a way to offer residents e-bike rebates, Portland can? (Indiana Public Media)

Battery fire pushback: When New York City’s fire commissioner names names of e-commerce giants and says they have “blood on their hands” when it comes to deadly e-bike battery fires, you know the issue has reached a tipping point. (NY Times)

The policing/public safety conundrum: As TriMet considers beefing up security on its vehicles, consider these three methods that can improve safety of public transit without more policing. (Streetsblog USA)

Adaptive bikes FTW: Portland’s Adaptive Biketown could/should continue to grow and expand its reach given new research that shows adaptive bicycles are the key to capitalizing on the needs of seniors and people with disabilities. (Streetsblog USA)

The true EV heroes: “The electric transport revolution is a great chance to rethink how we move through our cities – and whether we even need a car at all.” (The Conversation)


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.

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David Hampsten
David Hampsten
15 days ago

JM, the headline “You Shouldn’t Be Driving over 100 mph – and your car shouldn’t let you”, which story link relates to that?

surly ogre
surly ogre
15 days ago

NTSB recommended that automakers install technology on all new cars that can prevent reckless speeding—and, for the first time, called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate it.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
15 days ago

warns drivers when they’re speeding with messages, sounds or haptic cues

The ‘Murrican form of intelligent speed assistance is a bad capitalist joke.

In Europe ISA has been mandatory in all cars for over a year and it:

…advise[s] drivers of the current speed limit and automatically limit[s] the speed of the vehicle…

https://etsc.eu/intelligent-speed-assistance-isa/#:~:text=ISA%20uses%20a%20speed%20sign,of%20the%20vehicle%20as%20needed.

Matt
Matt
15 days ago

I’ll consider supporting ebike rebates only after we get rebates, subsidies, or other incentives in place for the purchase of regular bikes.

Charley
Charley
15 days ago
Reply to  Matt

We could start by repealing the state fee on every new bike purchase!

Matt
Matt
15 days ago
Reply to  Charley

Hear, hear!

dw
dw
15 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Ebikes open up lots of mobility options for people who otherwise can’t ride a bike due to age or disability. You can find a decent used commuter bike that will get you around town for $1-200/ The cost barrier just isn’t there with regular bikes. Anyone who wants a bike can easily find one for cheap or free. I get where you are coming from but an ebike specific rebate makes more sense if the goal is to get people out of cars and reduce emissions.

Matt
Matt
15 days ago
Reply to  dw

The majority of people buying ebikes don’t ride them because they need them (couldn’t ride a normal bike); they are a choice borne out of the urge to go faster with less effort. The disability angle is a lie pushed by the industry–one that is conveniently uncomfortable for many people to argue against. And a regular bike for $200 can be an utter piece of garbage–yeah, if you know what to look for, you can find a deal; but you can also waste your money. Even if they were all good at that price (most aren’t), that’s still a lot of money to a poor person.

dw
dw
15 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Or maybe people who want to go where they need to without getting sweaty? Or people people with hilly commutes? Just say you don’t like ebikes.

Matt
Matt
14 days ago
Reply to  dw

Oh, I thought my dislike of ebikes was implicit. I also dislike a lot of people who ride them–“recklessly” seems to be the main demographic.

Quoth Bad Religion, “‘Cause I’m a 21st Century digital boy / I don’t know how to live, but I got a lot of toys”

ROH
ROH
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt

And you know this, how? Maybe people want a true alternative to car commuting which means going faster than most can pedal without assist. And not spending hours commuting. And getting to work reasonably unsweaty. Or maybe older people want to continue to be able to bike in a hilly city but no longer have the strength to go up some of the hills. Why the hate towards choices other people make? And saying that the disability angle is a lie is a gross misunderstanding of the range of disabilities that exist. You can’t always see people’s disabilities.

blumdrew
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Is it a crime to want to go faster with less effort? Not everyone is a masochist

9watts
9watts
14 days ago
Reply to  blumdrew

All this shouting against what Matt says above is very telling. So much sound and fury. I have been asking for folks to point to studies that show us who *actually* buys and rides e-bikes for years. Until we have those I am going to agree with Matt’s hunches because they ring more true to what I see.
We can all I suspect point to anecdotes about someone who is old, infirm, disabled, commutes, or who is young, fit, and just wants to go fast with no effort. This doesn’t help us have these conversations.
Finally, the use of the word ‘hate’ in this context to pillory anyone who says what Matt did reflects very poorly on the speaker. Such hyperbole.

dw
dw
14 days ago
Reply to  9watts

You know you can just type “I don’t like ebikes”

Chris I
Chris I
14 days ago
Reply to  dw

“I don’t like subsidizing toys” is probably his position, and I think he has a point. The use case is no different than a standard bike in most cases. We shouldn’t be subsidizing e-bikes or e-cars.

9watts
9watts
14 days ago
Reply to  dw

dw,
why so reductive and mean?
While you are entitled to read my comments any way you wish, we would probably both get more out of this if you took a slightly more nuanced approach here. I think our society’s approach to pretty much e-anything could be improved, could be more circumspect, less bandwagon hoppy, more open to criticism, less boosterist. Your paper-thin skins don’t endear me to your cause.

Iconyms
Iconyms
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt

I’m not opposed to a rebate on bikes I think it’d be great to have rebates & subsidies on anything that helps health & mobility but we want that money to go toward things that are actually going to get used. I think there is quite a bit of data that shows people buying ebikes ride them quite a bit more often and more miles than normal bikes on average. Maybe a scale based on the data would be useful. 1/3rd the rebate for regular bikes?

EP
EP
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt

The addition of e-assist opens up some interesting commuter-friendly/car-replacement/utility-type bike designs that would be really tough to pedal without a motor. Adding that motor makes these types of bikes much easier to use, which means they’ll actually get used! BUT, adding that motor adds a bunch of cost, so a rebate that helps take that extra $$ off would be helpful to even things out.

A HUGE part of having an ebike is that it helps make biking easier and thus removes a barrier/excuse to getting on the bike. Thus, people are less inclined to leave the bike behind and take the car. I used to commute 15 miles a day, and some of those rides were really hot/sweaty/rainy/I was sick/tired. Having a pedal-assist ebike would’ve kept me out of the car a bunch of times that I chose to drove to work because I wasn’t feeling up to the ride.

I’m in favor of ebike rebates for ebikes that are used to help replace cars. I don’t want ebike rebates to help someone get a deal on a high-end eMTB/eRoad/eGravel/eWhatever. I would encourage some of the commenters on here to have an open-mind towards ebikes.

Matt
Matt
14 days ago
Reply to  EP

Believe it or not, I’m actually in favor of ebikes when used as a replacement for a car. I’m just opposed when they replace a regular bike for no good reason. And as somebody who owns a car but uses a (regular) bike for 99% of trips (haven’t even bought gas since self-service took effect in Oregon), I like it even better when other folks do the same.

So if a rebate could be structured as you describe it, I’d be in favor (though still only after we do this for regular bikes first)–but how would you enforce the rule on the vehicle’s usage case?

ROH
ROH
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt

“…for no good reason.” And who decides what is a good reason for riding an ebike rather than a regular bike. That level of “purity” about bike riding is what turns people off to the biking community. Why the harsh judgement about people’s choices. What is a good enough reason?

Chris I
Chris I
14 days ago
Reply to  ROH

I don’t care about their reasons, as long as they aren’t taking my tax dollars.

EP
EP
15 days ago

We’ll need some tasty carrots and big sticks to get auto manufacturers to change their aggressive designs. At least some delivery and postal vehicles have been redesigned with visibility and pedestrian safety in mind.

““It’s clear that the increasing size of the vehicles in the U.S. fleet is costing pedestrians their lives,” Harkey said. “We encourage automakers to consider these findings and take a hard look at the height and shape of their SUVs and pickups.”

Charley
Charley
15 days ago
Reply to  EP

There are so many ways to price this risk into the market.

If we can’t get regulators to define and enforce standards on manufacturers, I would LOVE to see automobile insurance rates and state registration fees start to reflect the danger to vulnerable road users. We’ve got to make dangerous vehicle designs outrageously expensive.

Watts
Watts
15 days ago
Reply to  Charley

I would LOVE to see automobile insurance rates and state registration fees start to reflect the danger to vulnerable road users

Don’t insurance rates already reflect the danger a vehicle poses? More dangerous vehicles result in more insurance payouts. Why doesn’t that translate into higher rates?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
15 days ago
Reply to  EP

We encourage automakers to consider these findings and take a hard look at the height and shape of their SUVs and pickups.

The idea that predatory ecocidal mega-corporations run by amoral narcissist executives will sacrifice their precious profit margins for non-mandated do-goodery is risible. These executives knew that their designs would unnecessarily kill tens of thousands but they did not care because large cars with aggressive designs are money-makers (that appeal to the worst consumption urges). This is what worship of the “free”-market brings about and it’s more than ironic that this blog its allies take this same libertarian market-centric approach to transportation, housing, and other aspects of urban livability,

Charley
Charley
13 days ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Pierre: “it’s more than ironic that this blog its allies take this same libertarian market-centric approach to transportation, housing, and other aspects of urban livability,”

I suppose it’s possible that BP authors and commenters are crypto-libertarians who are allies of murderous car manufacturer executives.

Or, maybe, such authors and commenters are working towards a better future within the existing political and economic system of the country they live in. Maybe they’ve judged that it’s more important to save lives within the system, than to wait for a revolution that would upend capitalism!

Personally, I’d rather see us make progress on these issues, than hold out for a final, uncompromising political victory over the forces of greed and selfishness. There are too many lives at stake to wait for idealism to win.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
15 days ago
Reply to  EP

If we were really interested in saving lives, we would simply ban wars, and not allow car sales in any country that engages in wars and deliberately killing people.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

We could also ban malaria.

dw
dw
14 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

“Have we considered just, making crime illegal?”

dw
dw
15 days ago

RE: Transit safety

MAX is a total shitshow these days. It drives me up a wall when privileged “advocates” stick their head in the sand and try to hand-wave it away. My favorite response is “Well how many people die in car crashes?” What a tone-deaf and ignorant response to marginalized folks who don’t feel safe using our transit system! I usually get around by bus and bike, but take MAX about once a week. 9/10 times there’s some crazy shit going down. People screaming bloody murder, doing hard drugs, urinating on the train, you name it, it happens. That behavior should happen 0/10 times.

I think most Portlanders like riding it – assuming they aren’t getting harassed or dealing with someone smoking fent in the seat behind them. For those who have a choice, one experience being stuck on the train with some half-dressed person screaming that they’re gonna kill everyone is enough to convince you to drive 100% of the time. For those who don’t have the option to drive, it’s torture perpetuated by a bunch of useless middle-managers who think that subjecting already marginalized folks to commuting on a rolling asylum is “equity”.

TriMet’s new “safety teams” or whatever are a joke. A bunch of people who just stand around and scroll their phones, can’t answer basic questions about the system like “where do I transfer from the Blue line to FX2”, and don’t intervene. A couple weeks ago as I was getting off the train, I told one of them about the guy sprinting back and fourth yelling the N-word and F-slur, and they just shrugged their shoulders and said “what am I supposed to do?” I don’t know, kick them off the train?????

Can TriMet solve the homelessness crisis? No. Can they solve the addiction crisis? No. But they can at least make it very, very hard to get away with anti-social behavior.

We all want things like more frequent trains, the SW extension, and the downtown tunnel. That won’t ever happen unless the general public is on board. Right now, public sentiment is drifting toward “tear out all the tracks” because a small minority of individuals are allowed to use the system as their own personal party train.

jakeco969
jakeco969
15 days ago
Reply to  dw

Can’t agree with this more.
The Streetsblog article was lacking in any specific details and seemd to be yet another cry to let the anti-social continue to run amok as they please. I’m still not sure how more rapid service would help protect the rest of the passengers from the person who has set up their home for the day along with their mostly feral “assistance” animal amongst the middle four seats of a MAX.
As entertaining at it would be to watch some poorly paid social worker (not to make fun of social workers, but they are massively underpaid for what they’ve become expected to do) try to de-escalate someone or several someones at once having a narcotic fueled break from reality in a confined space such as a MAX, it wouldn’t be entertaining enough to actually be there.
The only real solution is to have actual security at each MAX stop so those who are not interested or capable of being part of a social covenant can be separated from those who do.

blumdrew
14 days ago
Reply to  jakeco969

In general, more and/or better service tends to attract more ridership since it’s more convenient for more trips. The FX2 bus is a decent example of that I think.

Surely we can expect TriMet to just enforce their own rules on trains and buses, I’m not sure security at each MAX stop really is feasible.

jakeco969
jakeco969
14 days ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Okay, I see where from another comment you made where your perspective is coming from and its different from the one of those forced to live with these problems day in and day out with zero hope of reprieve.
I was having health issues so didn’t drive much for a year so woke up to catch the 5am bus to take me to the blue MAX at Willow station/185th, then change over to green, get off at Flavel and catch another bus up the hill to Mt. Scott just in time (if i was lucky and no strange delays happened) to start work at 8am. Rinse and repeat on way home.
I say this so you’ll understand my pet peeve of happy go lucky day riders who don’t understand the pressures of being on the MAX when its crowded full to standing with commuters who are just trying to get to work punctuated by raving lunatics who act with abandon causing everyone elses stress levels to constantly spike (at the minimum) and are seemingly encouraged in their harmful behaviour by those who don’t condone it.
MAX is not going to get a rise in ridership if there are more trips because the problem Trimet has is not being addressed. That problem being hostile riders who prey on everyone on board without consequence.
Security is simply a neccesary requirement for Trimet to even think about getting their numbers up. To think that it is not feasible is to think that MAX is indeed a failure and the tracks should be torn up.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
14 days ago
Reply to  jakeco969

The real problem is the word “public” in public transit. Any behavior that is tolerated on a public street is by extension tolerated on public transit, per the First Amendment of the US Constitution and local ordinances (MAX and the bus are federally funded, as is the City of Portland and most other political jurisdictions.) If MAX was a privately-owned utility like Greyhound, then yeah, it could be more easily regulated. As long as we as a society tolerate public drunkenness, shooting up in public parks, and bicycling naked in public, then MAX too will have these self-same issues. Welcome to a tolerant liberal progressive society. If you are looking for an intolerant city, move to Columbia South Carolina.

jakeco969
jakeco969
14 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Completely agree that the overall problem is the lack of will of the Metro’s leadership class, its poverty mongering “non-profits” (as we saw in San Francisco recently, it is very easy to solve the homeless problem) and the overall populations lackadaisical desire to live somewhere where human dignity is celebrated rather than allowed to wither.
I was gentrified out of Portland several years ago and now work on a military post and live in town thats mostly military or retirees. It is very nice working somewhere where I am safe from harassment, it’s clean and the population is on whole polite. Also, it’s very multicultural, far more than Portland so it’s pleasant speaking with people from all over the country and the world. I do miss the charms of Portland, but as I get older and less able, it certainly seems the majority of Portland’s charms are geared for the younger, strong and able.

blumdrew
14 days ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Yeah, I certainly ride my bike more than take the MAX and have the luxury of living close to my primary destinations. I generally don’t have much personal experience with long or inconvenient public transit trips in Portland (though I have some in other cities).

I am more talking about money/practicality in terms of feasibility. There are a lot of MAX stops, but not that many actual trains in service at a given time – I count 36 in service right now (almost 9 AM on a Tuesday). There are 94 stations, so it would be like 3x as cost effective to have the security on the trains rather than at the stops.

jakeco969
jakeco969
14 days ago
Reply to  blumdrew

A fair point and one I like. The important take away that I agree with is that there is a desperate need for more security to encourage more use of Trimet, trying to finetune the best use of funds would be a rewarding experience.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
15 days ago
Reply to  dw

I’ve seen similar issues with MAX starting pre-COVID and I vowed I’d never ride it again. Wasn’t always successful but mostly avoided the train. I’ve since been riding buses, but even they are starting to have individuals get on the bus that do the “anti-social” behavior. Unfortunately, the bus drivers can do very little as they aren’t allowed to interfere, even letting all individuals bored the bus, paid fare or not.
The buses aren’t as bad as MAX, but they still aren’t a lot of fun either.

EP
EP
14 days ago
Reply to  dw

Trimet is just letting things go downhill so they can roll out their upscale, “secure” MAX car that has a card reader and an armed guard at each door and doesn’t smell of drugs or bodily fluids. Honestly at this point that doesn’t sound too bad. Or have one “free” car per train, where anything goes?

It’s clearly not working to have some kind of honor-system based fare that has no enforcement, and no actual consequences of not paying or violating any supposed regulations.

I really want to love the max, but yeah it seems like every time I’m on it something’s going down and with little kids now along for the ride, I just don’t want to chance it. Which totally sucks because how cool is it to take a TRAIN to an ELEVATOR to the ZOO!

dw
dw
14 days ago
Reply to  EP

I don’t know if fare enforcement is really it though. Pretty easy to get a free HOP card if these days if you’re in a rough spot. Which, for the record, I think is fine. Plenty of kind and respectful folks down on their luck who still need to get around.

TriMet did add a little “Security” thing to their website where you can report suspicious activity, which I think is good. It’s not always safe or feasible to press the “call operator” button or call 911. It’s a start – but it would be nice to know that people will actually get kicked off the train for doing dumb stuff, regardless of their housing status.

blumdrew
14 days ago
Reply to  dw

Definitely agree that the TriMet safety teams don’t seem to do much to enforce anything, but I ride the MAX pretty often – 3 days a week ish, usually just the Orange line from 17th/Rhine to PSU – and rarely if ever have an issue like the ones you are describing. I guess I typically ride in the afternoons though, probably is helpful for avoiding weird stuff.

I also feel like TriMet employees who aren’t bus operators tend to be not so good at navigating the system, which is a shame (presumably the train operators are good at it too, I just don’t interact with them).

Watts
Watts
14 days ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I ride the MAX pretty often – 3 days a week ish, usually just the Orange line from 17th/Rhine to PSU

I’m curious why you don’t ride your bike — that trip is super easy, and has good facilities most of the way. It’s probably almost as fast to ride, but you get to go on your schedule, and get some exercise at the same time.

Iconyms
Iconyms
14 days ago
Reply to  dw

+1 I rode the light rail in Santa Monica & Los Angeles and it feels so so much safer despite there still being tons of homeless in the area.

PTB
PTB
14 days ago
Reply to  dw

I take the train and bus oftenish. Not weekly but definitely every month. Some months more than others. I personally have had zero issues and don’t give a bus or train ride a second thought, and I like taking it. But I took the MAX to a Blazers game a couple Fridays ago and it was like every possible insane scenario, it was happening at the station and then on the train. It was wild, like I was being put on, I was on Candid Camera. I was just thinking the whole time that if some Normie, kids in tow, were on the MAX, also headed to the game, thinking it was easier to do this than drive and figure out Rose Quarter parking, that guy is never getting back on the MAX with his kids ever again. It really was an incredibly uncomfortable ride.

Also the train was super delayed because something that had happened HOURS earlier had jacked up the schedule for the rest of the night. Then leaving the game all the trains were still delayed, this time also because of driver shortages. Portland has a population of what?, 650k or so, and Friday night trains were running every 20-30 minutes. That’s not great.

Chris I
Chris I
14 days ago
Reply to  PTB

90s kids remember when Trimet ran special game day trains for Blazers games. So sad how bad it has become in this city.

Dave
Dave
14 days ago
Reply to  dw

And whatever happened to transit police or at least security guarda on board? King County has them on Link light rail. Rode it when in theirvarea and the train from Seatac to downtown had two pairs of officers on it.

Speed Governors
Speed Governors
8 days ago

Thanks for posting the article about car speed governors. They are long overdue and would have saved thousands of lives/maimings. The cell/gps/camera tech to simply mail a ticket to anyone dangerously speeding has long existed and is already installed in many cars. Not using it is mass murder.