Monday Roundup: Daylighting, legal threats, crit racing, and more

Welcome to the week.

Here are the most notable stories our community came across in the past seven days…

Blazing a trail for US cycling: American crit racing owes a huge debt to teams like the Miami Blazers, who are adding excitement and fresh energy to the sport, and who also happen to be the most diverse team in professional cycling. (Rouleur)

Dead weight on cities: It gives me warm fuzzies to know that the elimination of minimum car parking rules has become a mainstream idea and now cities that don’t do it are the weird ones. (NPR)

The present and future of Vancouver, WA: Excellent deep dive into the transformation of the ‘Couve from urbanist punchline to popular destination thanks to amazing waterfront development. (The Urbanist)

Vision Zero isn’t the problem: When it comes to preventing traffic deaths, VZ advocates say cities need to do more (and do it faster), and must stop letting “failure” define the narrative. (Vision Zero Network)

Strategic misrepresentation”: With news that the Interstate Bridge Replacement and I-5 widening project will soon announce another cost increase, activist and economist Joe Cortright accuses DOTs of a bait-and-switch. (Clark County Today)

Freeway anxiety: A fascinating window into a condition that apparently many Los Angelenos suffer from: Fear of driving on freeways. The fact that this is considered a bad thing (to be cured) tells you how much driving is woven into the life of many. (LA Times)

Gravel grumblings: The SBT GRVL, one of the largest gravel races in America, is facing pushback from ranchers who say some cyclists don’t respect the land and the economic boost isn’t worth the trouble. (Colorado Sun)

We are the bad example: In case you’re one of the dozen or so people who have yet to listen, one of America’s most popular podcasts took on the issue of pedestrian deaths and they used Portland’s stroads as an example of why so many people are dying. (NY Times – also a transcript via Happy Scribe)

Daylighting: California gets a lot of sun, but officials there still want more light at intersections because they know it makes roads safer. And now they’re starting to enforce an intersection daylighting law. Question is: Where is Portland’s enforcement of this issue, which is also law in Oregon? (SF Chronicle)

Novel bullying tactic: A cyclist who was passed dangerously was threatened with legal action by the company of the driver since a logo appeared in a video the rider uploaded to YouTube. Seriously. (Road.cc)


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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BrickLearns
BrickLearns
3 months ago

I realize it’s a nuanced issue and the gravel course organizers should do more/better planning, but ranchers complaining about other people destroying the environment and feeling unsafe in sitting their multi ton vehicles strikes me as a bit absurd.

Charley
Charley
3 months ago
Reply to  BrickLearns

Yeah. Sounds like the race organizers can tighten up some route and behavior issues.

But… a rancher complaining about the effect on wildlife of four days of organized bike riding on roads is rich. Cows have *enormous* ecological impacts!

This event sounds about as aggravating as something like Hood to Coast. However, given the amount of money it brings in, its limited duration, and the small number of ranchers it effects, it would be insane for the local government to squash it.

jakeco969
jakeco969
3 months ago
Reply to  Charley

Cows have *enormous* ecological impacts!

“Bison herds in the western United States were so massive, they shook the ground and sounded like thunder in the distance. The American bison roamed most of North America and in the early 19th century, population estimates were between 30 million to 60 million.”
https://www.nps.gov/gosp/learn/nature/where-the-buffalo-roamed.htm#:~:text=Bison%20herds%20in%20the%20western,30%20million%20to%2060%20million.

…and yet the earth survived.

blumdrew
3 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

You are talking about an environment that created itself over the course of a few million years, as opposed to one established by force in the last 200. And without getting into epistemological debates about the role of humans in nature (are they a part, or apart?), just the difference in timescale is worth talking about. Because cattle ranching (and associated human activities) are recent transplants ecologically speaking, it is difficult to know if it is practical or sustainable in the long term.

The Colorado River basin in particular underwent a relatively wet period in the early 1900s, when the river basin irrigation system was developed. This has knock on effects for the economic feasibility of cattle ranching, as water shortages will necessarily affect how many head of cattle can be raised in a given area. Best case, we are in a “too soon to say” if the current rural land use system of the American West is sustainable long term. Comparing that to an ecological system (the Great Plains) that had largely developed and existed before the arrival of humans to North America is fraught at best.

jakeco969
jakeco969
3 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

If the OP had wanted to talk about industrial farming then that is completely different. The OP mentioned cows as a problem, they are not. Industrial farming is indeed a problem, ranching by itself not so much.
What are you even trying to compare in your paragaphs? Sustainability? Practicality? Those evil ranchers who supply our food? Humans as a plague on the earth?

blumdrew
3 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

This all hinges on how you define “industrial”, and I really can’t say too much on the specific practices of any given rancher in a part of Colorado I’m unfamiliar with. But I do know that many ranchers participate in the “industrial” farming of cattle, by raising cows to sell to CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). Plenty of “grass fed” beef is raised for 6 months on a range, then “finished” on corn. Is a rancher who participates in that part of the market practicing sustainably?

Ranching can be done sustainably, and cows are fairly good ecological fits in parts of the country that were once characterized by bison. Sort of at least, but given its unlikely for the country to shift to non-fenced, collectively owned range land that would foster major bison herds, cows are fine. But cows being fine enough replacements for bison ecologically does not mean the general system of fenced ranching is ecologically sustainable. 4 generations is the blink of an eye ecologically speaking, and even without a rapidly changing climate it’s hard to know if current practices actually are sustainable. How reliant are current ranching practices on diesel trucks? Or petroleum based fertilizers? Or financial subsidy from the federal government?

These are questions I can’t really find answers for, but they aren’t aimed to demonize ranchers. It’s to point out that the system that has been created is not equipped to do much other than raise cows for the lowest marginal cost. And this is done (as it is in many sectors of the economy) by exploiting direct and indirect federal subsidies on gas, corn, and roads – none of which are really natural features of the landscape.

Charley
Charley
3 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

You’re putting words like “evil” and “plague” in our mouths, and in my case, it’s based on a single sentence of a comment. I wish you could see how how high my eyebrows are raised!

I eat cow, and I’m actually in favor of well-done ranching. . . but that doesn’t mean I think cows have negligible impact, especially as compared to an annual bike race! That’s a very narrow claim.

I’m not even claiming bison would have no impact! I’m sure they did.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
3 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

the “earth” will survive everything we do just fine. By the end of the next glaciation period you’re going to have to hunt really hard for any evidence we were even here.

Industrial farming absolutely does, however, have a large and adverse effect on the climate necessary to support 8 billion people.

There are, btw, currently over 90million head of cattle, over 70million head of pgs, 5.2 million head of sheep, 1.5 *billion* chickens in the US as part of that industrial meat machine.

Supporting a per-capita 222lbs/year of Chicken, Beef & Pork for over 300million people requires a lot of work.

Charley
Charley
3 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

“Bison herds in the western United States were so massive, they shook the ground”

…and yet the earth survived.

Are you claiming my point isn’t valid? You’re claiming that, since bison previously existed in great numbers, that ranching cows on the landscapes of don’t have enormous ecological impact as compared to an annual bike race?

That’s a laughable argument!

Have you spent much time in Eastern Oregon? It’s a dry and high landscape, with cold winters and warm, dry summers, much like that of the hills around Steamboat Springs.

One of the most important characteristics of sagebrush steppe landscapes is the presence or lack of native bunchgrasses. Guess what determines whether or not there are native bunchgrasses on a plot of land: the history of grazing. Cows preferentially graze and often eventually eliminate native grasses from their range. What do you think happens to the wildlife that depends on these native grasses?

What about riparian habitats? The cows that ranchers graze in the US evolved in wetter Eurasian habitats than the US West can provide. These cows preferentially hang out near streams and other water sources. Cow-grazed landscapes often have really murky water with a high sediment load, a lowered water table, and radically reduced riparian vegetation. What do you think happens to the fish in these creeks?

For this reason, removing cows or altering ranchers’ grazing patterns is the number one tool that land managers have in Eastern Oregon.

Bison roamed the Plains when there were no roads and no fences, on land that was full of native perennial grasses and had never been plowed, and constantly hunted by wolves, first peoples, and even grizzly bears (which also lived on the Plains). Cows are confined in fences and managed by ranchers for profit.

This comparison is of little value.

Champs
Champs
3 months ago

Can’t say that I’ve been to any urban part of the world that shows evidence of corner parking enforcement outside of its busiest districts.

One school of thought says that corners are safer with maximum visibility, the other says that drivers will be more cautious because there’s less visibility. I5 used to have sloped medians that would gently steer wayward drivers back onto the freeway or famously launch out of control drivers into oncoming traffic. More absurdly, it’s the difference between a steering wheel with airbags (using seat belts) or embedded poison spikes. This is the eternal struggle between chaos and order.

X
X
3 months ago
Reply to  Champs

“…the other says that drivers will be more cautious because there’s less visibility.”
That is not what happens.

Drivers normally continue rolling forward until their line of sight is clear of any parked vehicles. The nose of the moving vehicle will enter the crosswalk in continuous motion. The driver’s attention is divided between a fragmentary scan of the surroundings and a look forward as the vehicle accelerates.

A person on the through street or the crosswalk can’t be sure of the intentions of the driver nearing the stop sign. The motor vehicle trajectory doesn’t resolve to a clear stop and there’s no eye contact before acceleration. These encounters are common.

dw
dw
3 months ago

Loved the article about Vancouver, WA. It matched what I felt last time I went there and walked around. I think there’s some real vision in the leadership. Bringing a frequent, reliable, and accessible transit connection to Portland will be huge.

EP
EP
3 months ago
Reply to  dw

“As part of the sale agreement, the City of Vancouver had required Gramor Development to build a public trail along the riverfront; however, the team wanted to do more than build a trail, they wanted to build a world-class public space. ”

I really wish this happened more with trails and spaces along rivers.

blumdrew
3 months ago
Reply to  EP

I dunno, Portland has some pretty kick ass spaces along the river too. The new segment of trail in the South Waterfront is great!

Matt
Matt
3 months ago

I suppose the managers at the company with the reckless van driver haven’t heard of the Streisand Effect?

X
X
3 months ago

“Strategic misrepresentation”: In 2024 we may need something like an ODOT. But, they’re in our pockets and their cost estimates lack useful information. Some modest suggestions:
–The top two levels of executives receive pay raises no greater than the inflation rate built into project planning.
–Once an expenditure is approved, a final design is required that must be doable within the budget.
–A project plan may include a contingency fund for situations that could not be foreseen. That fund is part of the stated cost. Any part that is not released by state government goes back into the state treasury.
–If a project goes over budget the ODOT payroll is taxed at 20% until the books are back in balance.

Yes, that sounds punitive. We don’t owe this department anything. They work for us. It’s up to the people there to plan projects within their ability and the stated budget. It’s disgraceful to pack a wish list of projects into the plan for some essential piece of infrastructure and tell us there are no options. We can’t just open a vein to supply ODOT’s vision of the future.

The governor needs to grow a spine, air out the highway commission and, on occasion, fire the head of ODOT. If there just aren’t any serious people who can build roads maybe it’s time to put public money into something else.

Charley
Charley
3 months ago

The New York Times had a really terrific, comprehensive article on why pedestrian deaths are so much more likely at night.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/12/11/upshot/nighttime-deaths.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare

Causes mentioned in the article include: larger cars, smartphones, population growth in the Sun Belt, suburbanization, homelessness, etc.

It’s been a great series of articles.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Charley

Don’t forget standard transmission!

jakeco969
jakeco969
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yeah, that was peak BP forum craziness:-)

Charley
Charley
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Not present, but never forgotten. 🙂

Priscilla
Priscilla
3 months ago

The present and future of Vancouver, WA: Excellent deep dive into the transformation of the ‘Couve from urbanist punchline to popular destination thanks to amazing waterfront development. (The Urbanist)

What can Portland do to be more like Vancouver, WA? It seems like they have got their mojo on while Portland has lost it.

blumdrew
3 months ago
Reply to  Priscilla

Portland developed their close-in former industrial areas with far more vim and vigor in the 1990s and 2000s. The South Waterfront and the Pearl are both good comparisons for the Vancouver waterfront, and saying that Portland has “lost its mojo” because it’s more or less ran out of easily developable waterfront/brownfield is weird. But even so, places like Slabtown and the NW waterfront near Front/17th are still actively being built out and are essentially the same kinds of places as the Vancouver waterfront.

There are also a few coming projects (next 5 to 10 years) that will be similar in size and scope to the Vancouver waterfront project. The NW streetcar extension is a little smaller (23 vs 28 acres), but reaching the final stages of planning. Then there’s the Lloyd Center, almost exactly the same size as the Vancouver waterfront and arguably in a better location relative to downtown – given that the Vancouver waterfront is surrounded by parking and cut off from the city by the railroad and WA-14. And while the Broadway post office development is smaller (about half the size), it’s also a big new probably bougie development coming to central Portland in the next decade or so.

Do you get out much in Portland?

lvc
lvc
3 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

OMSI’s plan too.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
3 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

The glory days of “unlimited” Urban Renewal Funds are long gone. The County and City couldn’t stand that tax money was used to improve neighborhoods instead of going to their pet projects.
(Yes, there’s much more to the story, but that’s the 20,000′ view)

ROH
ROH
3 months ago
Reply to  Priscilla

What can Portland do…? get rid of I5 along the east side of the Willamette?

Adam
Adam
3 months ago

The historic core street grid of Vancouver has always been great. The waterfront revamp just made it better. The knock on Vancouver has never really been about its historic grid but about the unwalkable, monotonous sprawl beyond it. Most of Vancouver is closer in feel to Aloha, East Portland or, at best, Happy Valley, none of which are urbanist exemplars.

Michael Mann
3 months ago

I’m guessing maybe the Ute, Kiowa, Jicarilla Apache, Comanche, Cheyenne, and Arapaho people might have some opinions about activities the ranchers are engaged in that disrupt the “traditional way of life” around Colorado Springs.