US National

Comment of the week: Courts, not cops, as the core of bike theft neglect

BikePortland - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 5:26pm
A police raid on allegedly stolen bikes in Old Town in July 2012.(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

It’s one of the maddening paradoxes of the bike world: biking is so cheap and efficient that it’s a blip on almost every chart.

Biking infrastructure is so easy to build that there’s no army of contractors to lobby for it. Biking education is difficult because it’s so easy to just buy a bike and start riding. And bike theft doesn’t get penalized because a bike can be the most important object in someone’s life even though it’s only worth $50.

Reader Todd Hudson captured this problem perfectly in a comment beneath this week’s post about a Portland cop who’s leading the fight against bike theft from the front lines.

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I used to blame PPB for the high prevalence of bike theft, but learned Multnomah County (under whom are prosecutors, criminal courts, and MCDC) is really the weak link.

Remember Robert Charles Dady? *After* he was featured here a year ago, he’s earned another 28 CHARGES related to theft (assuming I’m reading PDX mugshots correctly), including felony theft. His name is a rash all over the DA’s website. Why is he not locked up after dozens of arrests? Some people cannot be rehabilitated and need to be isolated from society.

Since MCDC is overcrowded, non-violent offenders matrix out ridiculously fast, and go straight back to car/yard prowls and bike theft. Their sentences are minimal or they once again immediately matrix out of jail. Cops only affect them incidence of getting caught, and the County affects the actual punishment for getting caught. With no real punishment, getting caught doesn’t matter much in a thief’s calculus of whether to go back stealing stuff – it’s not helpful that a thief gets taken to MCDC and is back on the street before that cop’s shift is over.

tl;dr – we could bust every bike thief in the county, but they go through a revolving door back to the street and start stealing again. This is because Multnomah County does not make property crime a high priority.

Todd’s was the first of several comments on the theme of how courts’ handling of bike theft could be changed. If you’re interested in this issue, don’t miss the conversation between Daniel L and Edward about whether bicycle thefts should actually trigger Oregon’s felony charges against vehicle theft. That’s an issue that seems ripe for more reporting. Stay tuned.

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Categories: US National

What makes people stop at red lights? Other people, study finds

BikePortland - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 4:03pm
Would you stop?(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

It might be peer pressure. It might be geometry. It’s almost certainly some of each.

But following up on a study that found that (as we reported last year) 94 percent of observed bike users in Oregon stopped for red lights, a Portland State University civil engineering student has also found that every additional person waiting next to you on a bike makes you 78 percent less likely to run the light on your own bike.

That’s assuming that you happen to be riding through one of the seven intersections observed, four of which were at Portland intersections that have dedicated bike signals and are frequented by utilitarian commuters. The intersections in Beaverton, Corvallis and Eugene did not have bike signals.

The new study’s author, Samson Thompson, also measured how much various other factors influence red-light running: gender, the presence of a bike signal, helmet use, the amount of cross traffic, the presence of an adjacent motor vehicle and whether a biker had witnessed a previous violation while approaching the red light.

“The number of cyclists already waiting has the biggest effect by far,” Thompson said Friday, presenting his findings as part of a masters thesis defense. “It’s probably because there are more eyes on the road, but it’s also because bike infrastructure, bike boxes, are not very big. So somebody could be physically impeded from running the red light.”

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The second most influential factor in getting people to follow the law while biking: having a car stopped next to them.

Less powerful factors, all of which increased the chance that someone would jump a red lights: witnessing a previous violation, not wearing a helmet, and being male.

In all, the study used video footage and direct observation to capture the decisions of more than 2,500 bike users.

Thompson said he gathered video data from the four Portland intersections because video footage had already been captured there, for a separate of bike-specific signals. He conceded, in his presentation, that it seemed to be a nonrepresentative sample: disproportionately wealthy, white and professional compared to Portland’s bike-using population and its population in general.

“My sense is that people who benefit from the system as a whole are going to be more likely to adhere very staunchly to traffic rules.”— PSU engineering student Samson Thompson

“My sense is that people who benefit from the system as a whole are going to be more likely to adhere very staunchly to traffic rules,” Thompson said.

In an interview after his presentation, Thompson added that based on his own experience, the decision of a bike user not to weave through a crowd of stopped bikes in order to get past a queue of other riders and jump a red light (even if it’s physically possible) isn’t merely about social pressure.

“It’s not that they’re going to think I’m a jerk,” Thompson said. “It’s more trouble.”

Thompson, an intern at Alta Planning and Design whose study took home first prize last month among student research presentations at TREC’s Oregon Transportation Summit, added that he’s amused by a question he’s never been asked yet.

“It’s funny that nobody asked me if I run red lights,” he said. “I do, on occasion.”

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Categories: US National

Mapping the New Deal

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 4:00pm
The Living New Deal Project Map from the University of California, Berkeley was released earlier this month, pinpointing all of the New Deal projects around the United States.
Categories: US National

No Big Bucks Needed for Complete Streets!

Streetblog Top Picks - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 3:33pm
When I was in New York City a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get together with Nolan Levenson, a Macalester graduate who now works at the NYC Department of Transportation. We met near his office on Water Street in lower Manhattan to talk about ways the City of Saint Paul might apply […]
Categories: US National

Better Streets Include Transit

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 3:00pm
Dan Reed examines the Green Line in Minneapolis near the campus of the University of Minnesota as a case study of how transit can improve streets.
Categories: US National

MapStory Traces the Development of the United States

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 2:00pm
Interested in tracing the development of everything from urban bike lanes to national parks to rocket test sites?
Categories: US National

Kansas City Streetcar to Provide Frequent, Late Night Service

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 1:00pm
Under construction and expected to launch service in Fall 2015, the Kanasas City Streetcar will provide frequent service in Downtown Kansas City.
Categories: US National

New Los Angeles Mayoral Directive on Water Conservation

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 12:00pm
In an effort to conserve water and prevent the expensive water importation in the future, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently published a new directive for city-wide water conservation.
Categories: US National

Vision 0.08: Why any major safe-streets effort must tackle alcohol

BikePortland - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 11:15am
SW Barbur Boulevard: a bad street tobe drunk on by any mode.(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

This is a guest opinion piece by A.J. Zelada, a longtime biking and walking advocate who chaired the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee from 2011 to 2013.

Intoxicating amounts of alcohol are at the death scene of 36 percent of walking fatalities and 32 percent of biking deaths.

So why does today’s street safety movement seem to trivialize it?

Last year, I listened to Oregon’s Safe Routes to School manager proclaim new safety issues to protect pedestrians. The ideas were great, but one was missing: She did not mention alcohol at death scenes. Vision Zero is being considered by many cities, including Portland and New York City, as a backbone policy for reducing road deaths. New York City’s new Vision Zero policy has one paragraph about alcohol.

Last year, the US Department of Transportation reported alcohol blood level was 0.08 grams per deciliter or greater:

  • in the blood of 14 percent of the drivers involved in walking fatalities
  • in the blood of 36 percent of people who died while walking, including more than 45 percent of people aged 21 to 54
  • in the blood of 24 percent of people who died while biking

I don’t want to blame victims here. The circumstances of these deaths were all complicated. But alcohol was part of far too many of those circumstances.

What we spend ‘safety’ money on

The last comprehensive federal transportation budget, known as MAP-21, included $32 million for safety programs that address intoxicated driving, young drivers, use of safety belts and child safety. It also included $5.4 million to research in-vehicle technology to prevent alcohol-impaired operation of the vehicle.

Meanwhile, General Motors has spent $75 million in their recall of 2.6 million cars associated with 13 deaths due to faulty ignition switches. A year ago, I would have applauded this and felt smugly that they deserved it. Now, I look at these numbers and I’m not so sure.

Consider this: If Alcohol, Inc., were a publicly traded corporation and associated with more than 10,000 deaths in 2012 (about a quarter of them among people biking and walking) why would money not be thrown that direction?

Why is there no public outrage? Why is there no greater accountability expected, as we have with GM?

<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>--> External problems vs. internal problems

I divide alcohol-related deaths into two camps: external and internal. We in this society are always looking for external reasons to fix things: recall the cars; blame the drivers; blame the road conditions. And yet we only provide $32 million for 10,000 alcohol-related deaths.

There are external issues here: Late, dark-night deaths are often low-income workers at the end of restaurant shifts. Deadly environments may have poor lighting or no sidewalks. There may be an absence of public transportation. Our own Barbur Boulevard is known as “Alcohol Alley” by some Portland police.

A.J. Zelada at the 2008 National Bike Summit.(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

But even eliminating the 14 out of 100 drivers who are drunk in fatal walking crashes would not eliminate the problem of alcohol. For every 100 people killed while walking, 36 would still have been drunk themselves. Let’s analyze the reasons.

When 36 percent of people who die while walking have high levels of blood alcohol, it means that internal choices and issues of self-responsibility are not being addressed. Again, this is not victim-bashing. And it’s not anti-alcohol, either. But internal issues need a very different approach than redesigning the landscape, having special driver-key ignition systems in place, etc.

The heart of the issue: how do we teach self-responsibility? We need a cooperative blend of professionals from health, sociology, educators, philosophers, humanists. Perhaps we should adopt a stance similar to cigarette taxes, which are used for chronic obstructive lung disease costs. Consider a percent of alcohol taxation that would go to invest in safety solutions that are about behavior, not about landscape. We need more than a feel-good “let’s get the bad apples off the road.”

If Portland or Oregon adopts Vision Zero, I hope it will include a Vision 0.08 paragraph: one that includes a serious analysis of alcohol. We need real mechanisms to measure and analyze data from our alcohol-related deaths, which would include direct programs on external issues like road design, but a major focus on the internal factors behind more than a third of vulnerable road users’ deaths.

Earlier this month, A.J. Zelada wrote for us that Portland needs to invoke the “lifeboat rule” when it comes to bikeway design.

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Categories: US National

Jobs of the Week

BikePortland - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 11:13am

We’ve had three excellent job opportunities posted this week. Learn more via the links below…

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here. If you’d like more information about the BikePortland Job Listings, contact us, or visit the Job Listings page.

You can sign up for all the latest job listings via RSS, email, or by following us on Twitter.

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Categories: US National

The Environmental Downside of Falling Oil Prices

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 11:00am
Ben Adler of Grist writes how falling oil prices will affect climate change. Cheaper gas prices may encourage more driving and more truck sales at the expense of hybrid, electric, and fuel efficient cars, but the news may not be all bad.
Categories: US National

New Study Finds California’s Local Streets and Roads In Perpetual Disrepair

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 10:00am
The biennial California Statewide Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment survey found a $78.3 billion funding shortfall over the next 10 years.
Categories: US National

Mapping the Knowledge Domain of Planning

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 9:00am
Tom Sanchez and Nader Afzalan explore the age old question, "what is planning?" in their new report published earlier this week.
Categories: US National

Cities Passing Up Opportunity to Amass Uber's Valuable Data

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 8:00am
The legalization (or illegalization) process of Uber throughout the country allows city governments to leverage a data exchange with the company, but too many municipalities are passing up this momentous opportunity.
Categories: US National

Friday Eye Candy: New York Street Life in High Definition

Planetizen - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 7:00am
A few minutes of the film "Street" by James Nares shows only a few seconds of life in New York City—but such poetry is found there.
Categories: US National

Halloween Costumes for Urban Planners - 4th Edition

Planetizen - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 4:00pm
The fourth edition of our comprehensive list of amazing Halloween costumes for urban planners.
Categories: US National

Weekend Event Guide: Corn cross, Blazers Bike Night, sausage ride, and more

BikePortland - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 3:19pm
Let’s do this!(Photo: J Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to your menu of weekend rides and events, lovingly brought to you by our friends at Hopworks Urban Brewery

Things are getting a bit lean on the various ride calendars… Except, that is, if you are a cyclocross fan (and can get to Bend). If you aren’t into racing and you’ll be in Portland this weekend… Might I suggest joining 100 other BikePortland readers for Blazers Bike Night on Sunday!?

Of course, Halloween is tomorrow and we all know that the streets will be full of folks headed to parties and filling up panniers with candy and treats.

Have fun!

Friday, October 31st

Halloween Bike Bash – 2:00 to 8:00 pm at Crows Feet Commons in Bend (875 NW Brooks St) If you’re in Bend this weekend for the Cross Crusade races (see below), you don’t want to miss this. Crusaders and Crows Feet Commons have teamed up to offer craft and candy making, a kids bike race, beer, and general merriment to kick off the weekend. More info here.

Saturday, November 1st

Sandy/Boring Corn Cross – All day at Liepold Farms (1405 SE Richey Road in Boring) Take a scenic farm, add the course design magic of Portland’s renowned cyclocross legend, veteran, and consummate pro Erik Tonkin, and mix in the support from Tonkin’s shop Sellwood Cycle Repair, and you get the Corn Cross. Another thing that makes this race so great is that two of its presenting sponsors are the City of Sandy and the Clackamas County Tourism board. Bring the family and enjoy the farm, the food, the corn maze, live music, and more. More info here (PDF).

Cross Crusade #5 – All day at Deschutes Brewery in Bend’s Old Mill District This is day one of a big, two-day weekend of ‘cross racing in Bend. Racers and spectators at this event will enjoy one of the best courses on the Crusade circuit. More info here.

Verboort Populaire – 9:00 am in Forest Grove (Lincoln Park, 2749 Main Street) If you are randoneurring-curious this is the event you’ve been waiting for. Start in Forest Grove and enjoy a scenic, 63-mile loop up the Vernonia, ending at the annual Verboort Sausage Festival. More info here.

North Portland Figure 8 – 10:30 AM at Wilshire Park (NE 36th and Skidmore) 28-mile route planned that will go from northeast up to north Portland with a stop at the Grand Central Bakery on Fremont. More info here.

Jungle Cross Warehouse Party – 8:00 pm to 3:00 am at Deschutes Brewery Warehouse (399 SW Shevlin-Hixon Dr.) This is the Party of the Year for bike racers. Note the “Jungle” theme and get ready for great DJs, live jungle entertainment acts, lots of jungle juice, and probably lots of jungle boogie-ing. $15 entry fee benefits the High Desert Museum. More info here.

Sunday, November 2nd

Cross Crusade #6 – All day at Deschutes Brewery in Bend’s Old Mill District Come to see the great costumed racers and revel in the annual Halloween cyclocross traditions. After a day of racing and a big, blowout party on Saturday, most racers and their fans will be tired and in recovery mode — which always makes for fun times! More info here.

Dia de los Muertos Ride – 1 p.m. at Harvey Scott School, 6700 NE Prescott The first annual ride by Mujeres en Movimiento, this is “open to parents, niñ@s, abuelitos y abuelitas and everyone else. You can come dressed in muertos gear, there will also be some face painting, hot coco and pan dulce at Harvey Scott and even more activities at our final destination.” More info here (Facebook).

BikePortland Blazers Bike Night — Meet at Peace Park at 4:15 pm Join 100 (or so) of your fellow BikePortland readers for a night of Blazermania. We’ll meet at Peace Park and then do a short parade loop to the Moda Center. We’ll have our bikes and gear taken care of by the Go By Bike bike valet service, pick up the custom reflective Blazer logo stickers they’ve made just for us, give away a kids helmet signed by LaMarcus Aldridge, make some bike-themed signs to hold during the game (get ready for our big moment on the Jumbotron!) and enjoy the live music and other pre-game festivities. Ticket information and more info here.

— If we missed anything, feel free to let us know and/or give it a shout-out in the comments.

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Categories: US National

The Federal Housing Administration's Ongoing, Systematic Obstruction of Density

Planetizen - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 3:00pm
Scott Beyer writes that despite changes to policies allowing insured mortgages by the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA), the federal government continues to obstruct density by limiting support for condo owners.
Categories: US National

Nashville Mayor Puts Bus Rapid Transit Proposal on the Shelf

Planetizen - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 2:00pm
The controversial, $175 million Nashville bus rapid transit project will be up to the city's next mayor.
Categories: US National

For Playable Cities: Make the City a Playground

Planetizen - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 1:00pm
The "Using Behavioral Economics to Create Playable Cities" report suggests that so much time spent in front of screens, and the continued need to counter the obesity epidemic, requires new thinking about play for children living in cities.
Categories: US National