09 December 2008

Portland Debate

Supercargo
Bike Portland had a piece about biking with kids.

It was picked up by a popular local blog and it's interesting [not surprising, just interesting] to see what kind of responses the Automotive Defence League seem to come up to the question posed: "Why is it alright to stick three kids in a bucket attached to a bike and ride around on Portland streets, but you get a ticket if you don't have them seat belted in your car?"

15 comments:

David Hembrow said...

It's all very fussy, isn't it. Here the kids all travel on bikes. Babies travel by bike too. Some are occasionally strapped in (the babies always are).

I think it comes down to a lack of familiarity with bicycles. When bikes are not a completely normal everyday thing, but something that a minority ride, then all these things become more of an issue.

town mouse said...

hehe. I started to read those comments, then I realised it was going to make me cross and I stopped.

The internet gets a whole lot smaller when you do that!

spiderleggreen said...

yes, this is one to get your blood pumping in the morning. I can feel that vein in my head a pounding. When you get comments like "I have always wondered if letting kids ride a bike should be considered child abuse", I know that I'm going to have to be taking some deep breaths, very soon.

Those kids in the picture look pretty safe and happy, to me.

What's the number one reason cyclists are getting killed? I bet it's cars.

Adrienne Johnson said...

When it comes to children, there is always someone who thinks they know more than you about how to raise them. I like to reply 'There is more than one way to skin a toddler, um... cat':)

melancholic optimist said...

Politics related to cycling is very fussy in Portland, and I think in the US overall. It seems silly to me, I don't understand why people who don't ride bikes think people who do are so awful, why it's such a horrible idea to do so, etc... it's not like anybody is trying to force *them* to ride a bike... just to be a little more aware of their fellow citizens - I guess that's where the problem comes in. And then it starts this whole back and forth "well, you're worse than us" thing. It's going to be a slow change here, I have a feeling.

With regard to cycling in Portland, I think it's quite safe actually, as long as you choose the right routes. Don't ride on the busy streets in traffic, just go over a block or two and ride through a neighborhood that has almost no car traffic. Even though there isn't a lot of dedicated bike infrastructure, the layout of the city allows for areas with very little traffic to contend with, except in the very center downtown area. If I had kids, I would feel quite comfortable taking them to any of the places I commute to on a daily basis on a bike.

Gorka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gorka said...

Sometimes I feel like giving up hope on the US. On Sunday, I read an editorial in the Seattle Times that advocated for bike licenses that would cost $25. Basically you would be riding your bike illegally without this license. Here's the link:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2008474326_opin07jimvesely.html

ecohuman said...

characterizing discussion as "cars vs. bicycles" accomplishes nothing--except maybe to justify a narrow-minded point of view or lay claim to a specious intellectual or social or moral superiority.

in other words, it's a false dichotomy. bicycling is not superior to auto driving, and vice versa. it's a complex set of decisions, driven by necessity, or health, or income, or even simply geography.

and consider this: most of the population of Portland lives *outside* inner east and downtown. those two areas make up only a fraction of Portland, and do not define it--that is, unless pop culture is your only parameter.

and I both ride a bike and drive a car.

melancholic optimist said...

I'm not trying to characterize it as cars vs. bicycles. I both drive and ride a bike as well, as is the case with nearly everyone who rides a bike in Portland. It's just that the extremes of the arguments around this topic tend to be most vocalized by people who either exclusively drive or exclusively ride bikes. I don't think that's because they drive or because they ride bikes, I think it's just their particular personalities, and I agree that circumstances often dictate which mode of transport you use. My point was that all the political stuff surrounding biking as an accepted form of transportation is still very charged here.

Hopefully the situation in the suburbs will start to change as well, as I hear Sam Adams is looking to devote some attention to cycling infrastructure on the outer east side. Still, I would extend that I could probably find relatively safe routes even out to 122nd or further, as long as I didn't follow main roads, and maybe crossed certain streets in the crosswalks.

ecohuman said...

It's just that the extremes of the arguments around this topic tend to be most vocalized by people who either exclusively drive or exclusively ride bikes.

I don't know how you're able to draw that conclusion. based on blog post comments? opinion articles?

Anonymous said...

the blog being referenced is one of the more radically-conservative portland-specific ones out there, so i'd take any comments posted with a grain of salt...

on the topic of portland's bicycle infrastructure, it's interesting to note that there are actually a lot of bikeways east of 205 (i believe east portland actually has the densist network of bikeways in any part of the city per square mile). the problem is that they're almost exclusively bike lanes on high-volume/-speed arterials, and therefore unlikely to attract the majority of bicyclists. developing dedicated bikeways (bike boulevards) on low-volume/-speed local streets east of 205 is made difficult due to the area's lack of connectivity, land use composition, and generally poor existing bike/ped infrastructure, but i suspect we'll nevertheless see more of them in the coming years.

Andy B from Jersey said...

The first hit I got when I Googled "cause of death children:"

From the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/childpas.htm)

"Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S."

Under the skewed logic referred to in the referred blog then driving with you children in a car should be considered child abuse too. Never mind that 90% of people who are hurt and killed while on a bike are hit by cars/

ecohuman.com said...

the blog being referenced is one of the more radically-conservative portland-specific ones out there, so i'd take any comments posted with a grain of salt...

bojack.org might be a lot of things, but i don't think "radically conservative" is one of them. and characterizing its readers the same way seems...strange. but maybe you haven't read it much, or for very long?

Gordon Inkeles said...

As a bike lover, I have to say it obviously IS unsafe for kids to ride in a "bucket" like that with no safety protection.

Must we be so blindly defensive whenever motorists dare to criticize our habits? Most of us are motorists as well as cyclists. We're careful with children in our cars. How can we do less for them on a bike?

Mikael said...

i'd like to see the studies that show that it is dangerous. so far i've only seen studies that show it is as safe as cycling itself.