The Monday Roundup: Empty highways, King Tut’s death & more

The Monday Roundup: Empty highways, King Tut’s death & more

The future?
(Photo: Maryland DOT.)

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Before we share the news and other interesting items that caught our eyes last week, we’d like to give a big shout out to our veterans. Happy Veterans Day. As your mind wonders during your ride today, think about how much we ask of our fellow citizens in uniform and how fortunate we are because of their service.

And now, here’s the Monday Roundup…

Empty highway: “This is what a boondoggle looks like,” writes Aaron Renn of the Intercounty Connector in Maryland (above right), a $2.4 billion project that was supposed to fix the country’s worst congestion but is carrying shockingly small amounts of traffic due in part to an $8-a-day toll. Renn sees parallels with the Columbia River Crossing and lists seven common traits of ill-conceived highway projects.

Ancient traffic victim: Scientists have used traffic simulation software to piece together how Egyptian pharaoh “King Tut” was killed at age 19: a chariot crash that apparently crushed his heart.

Public shaming: Yes, that’s the D.C. Department of Transportation tweeting a photo of a Mercedes parked in a bike lane for their “Hall of Shame.”

Copenhagen politics: The Copenhagen mayoral race coming up Nov. 19 sounds like a Bizarro Portland, with the center-left mayor trying to appeal to the 29 percent of Copenhageners who still own cars.

Killing “share the road”: The advocates at Bike Delaware have successfully convinced their state to remove the misleading “share the road” sign from their inventory.

Westside bike links: Washington County will put $1.4 million into four bike path projects in and around Beaverton, Tigard and Tualatin, The Oregonian reports.

Bike lane horrors: A proposal to replace auto parking with a bike lane has been more traumatic than the Civil War for the Alexandria, Virginia neighborhood of F.H. Buckley, he writes in the Wall Street Journal, because (he explains) his plumber won’t be able to park out front any more.

Small apartment horrors: Elizabeth Van Staaveren of McMinnville has figured out who’s to blame for the sort of neighborhoods she wouldn’t want to live in: Mexicans. The Oregonian has given her a guest column to make this point.

Inequality and cars: Streetsblog’s advice for New York’s poverty-busting new mayor: stop shoveling public resources at relatively privileged car owners.

Comparing project costs: Chicago blog Transitized compares the cost of various high-profile transportation projects. Guess which ones are infinitesmally cheap.

Leadership vacuum: Where is the American Planning Association on “the issues that are urgently relevant to our time”? Strong Towns’ Chuck Marohn is so unimpressed that he considered letting his certification lapse.

Infrastructure power: The most remarkable part of this story about British cities “going Dutch” is actually from Seville, Spain, which built 50 miles of protected bike lanes in two years and promptly “went from 0.2 percent of all journeys done by bicycle to to 6.6 percent of all journeys. … Women now make up 50 percent of cyclists in Seville, up from 20 percent.”

New bike capital? Washington DC is making a plan to build 70 miles of protected bike lanes. “If even half of what is proposed happens it will be like we’ve gone to bicycle heaven,” writes Washcycle.

Transportation turnover: The nation’s three largest cities are all looking for new transportation bosses. The League of American Bicyclists explains why the shoes left behind are so big. Driving advocate Barnet Fagel, meanwhile, calls Chicago’s outgoing Gabe Klein “a two-wheeled zealot.” Klein, for his part, predicts that he’ll be doing “something entrepreneurial” in the world of “technology and transportation.” Cities, he says, are “no longer in a position to provide all of the consumer services they want to, and they will be relying more and more on the private sector to provide high-quality, low-cost-to-the-government services.”

Food truck crimefighting: We already know food carts drive up real estate values. Seattle thinks they put eyes on the street, too.

Still a car: A Santa Cruz man said he fell asleep at the wheel of his electric Tesla just before it hit and killed a man on a bike Nov. 2. The car had 118 miles on its odometer.

Bike-license follies: “No one says we should license pedestrians and arrest anyone who crosses the street outside the crosswalk,” writes Bill Savage in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Violent bikers: When people riding bikes plow down people on foot or slug people through their car windows, nobody wins.

Rental lawsuit: The company that loaned a Chicago man a tandem (but not a safety lesson to go with it) will pay him $350,000 as part of a settlement related to his being doored, then hit by a driver who fled the scene.

Car-free vision: Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke has some unforgettable images of his young daughter pedaling on Brooklyn’s usually hectic Fourth Avenue, in the hours of silence before the New York Marathon.

National transpo bill: One close watcher of the national transportation policy sees both good news and bad news for the next transportation bill in recent Congressional actions.

Mode share comparisons: A series of simple bar charts compares the cities with the most transit/biking/walking in each U.S. region.

Safe bikeshare: Despite predictions of disaster from everyone from John Pucher to Jon Stewart, Citi Bike hasn’t seen a single fatality in its first five months.

Finally, before you watch your video of the week, the artfully presented and repeatedly viral “invisible bike helmet,” consider the analysis from Slate when it made the rounds last year (short version: it costs $600 and works once). To me, the main lesson of this video is that there are a lot of people in the world who find helmets really annoying.

The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

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