BATTERIES - New Chevrolet Chief Batey Now Gets To Finish What He Started

One of the last vestiges of the roller-coaster Joel Ewanick era in General Motors' marketing now has disappeared as GM named Alan Batey to the newly created post of senior vice president of Chevrolet worldwide.

BYKES - Carefree Commuter Challenge starts July 1st

The Carefree Commuter Challenge starts next month and the folks at Drive Less Save More are expecting over 2,000 people from across the region to take part.
The Challenge is just one component of a state-funded marketing program aimed at encouraging folks to get around with something other than their car. Drive Less Save More was launched by the Oregon Department of Transportation in 2006 and since then they've partnered up with organizations throughout the state to promote biking, walking, carpooling and transit.

Kelly Bantle, who handles communications for Drive Less Save More, says last year's Challenge had 1,500 participants from all over the Portland region including Hillsboro, Gresham, and even Wilsonville. People register by signing into and logging their trips. Once signed up, folks can tap into a number of resources like like connecting with other participants via Facebook, finding a biking partner, and tracking how much money and gas they've saved by not driving alone.
This year, pay-by-the-mile auto insurance company (and esteemed BikePortland advertising partner) MetroMile has joined the event as a sponsor. They're giving 200 participants a chance to use one of their Metronomes to track how much they're driving. The idea is that by knowing how much driving costs, they'll drive less. People who participate through MetroMile in the "Challenge+" program will get a $20 Fred Meyer gift card and be eligible for an iPad. MetroMile will create a "Leaderboard" on their online interface and participants will compete to see who can drive the fewest miles. Check out for more details.
"Everyone likes the challenge," says Bantle, "and it's good to have some carrots out there to encourage other ways to get around." Bantle adds that there are also 100 $25 Fred Meyer gift cards and seven iPads up for grabs for anyone who signs up (there's a minimum of two logged trips for the gift cards and 15 trips for the iPads).
In addition to getting free stuff, Bantle said people really respond to seeing how much they save by not driving alone. "We get the gas bill and see it's $50, but it's really more like thousands of dollars over the course of the year." Getting fit is another attraction says Bantle. "A lot of us just can't make it into the gym, especially those of us with kids, and a lot of women are gravitating toward biking for their commute to lose those few extra pounds."
The Westside Transportation Alliance is hosting a kick-off for the Challenge at Morgy's Pub and Grill at the Hawthorne Farms MAX station at 5:30.
Sign up for the Challenge at

BYKES - Any Estonian Cafe Racers Out There?

Viks Estonia Bicycle
When you think of a country that's all about sexy curves and an unrestrained, almost sexual aggressiveness, Estonia is probably not what immediately comes to mind (sorry, Tiina). All the same, this cafe-racer-inspired bicycle from the mind of Indrek Narusk is an all-Estonian masterpiece that looks and rides like nothing else powered by your own two feetsies.
The bike itself, called the Viks, is made of relatively simple tube construction, but the magic is in the bike's smooth bends and slick welds. There are a few clever features, too, that help the Viks stand out in a sea of other commuter bikes. For example, there is no "vertical" seat tube ...
... which gives the Viks a sharp, visual distinction from the $100 Walget bikes that tend to clutter up the bike racks in front of exactly the kind of coffee shops you'll want to impress college girls at. Or guys. Whatever, I'm not here to judge you (you sexy things).
The Viks also separates itself from the crowd with a unique front fork/handlebar assembly ...
... those custom bars slide in at the front of the frame, and offer a low, clean look. They're sharp, but don't expect to bolt on any brake levers. As BikeRumor writer Micah Redfield puts it, "the Viks was clearly designed with the fixed-gear crowd in mind. Coaster brake hubs are also offered for those feeling a bit more chill." I'm chill, apparently, because I'd go for the coaster brakes immediately.
What about you? Would you go for the coasters or are you a more hard-core fixie rider? Let us know - and, if you want to see more of the Estonian Viks, head on over to BikeRumor and check out their more comprehensive photo gallery.
Source: BikeRumor.
The post Any Estonian Cafe Racers Out There? appeared first on Gas 2.

BYKES - DC Police Wrongly Presume Injured Cyclist Guilty: "C'mon, You Are a Biker"

How many times have you read about someone who was injured while walking or biking, only to be found at fault by law enforcement? And in those cases, how many times did police blame the victim based on nothing more than self-serving testimony from the driver? That's what happened to Zach T. in Washington, DC, this spring, but thanks to his own persistence and detective work, he was able to prove the driver's account wrong and obtain some measure of delayed justice.

Zach was biking to work in March when he was struck by a left-turning SUV driver. The collision landed him in the hospital with a separated shoulder. While he was receiving treatment for his injuries, he got a visit from a police officer who handed him a ticket for running a red light. Zach refused to sign the ticket, insisting that he'd had the right of way.

On the police report, the driver and one other witness said that Zack had run a red. So, on his own initiative, he filed a public records request and managed to obtain footage from a nearby CCTV camera before it was erased. It clearly showed that he had proceeded through a green light (see video above, collision happens at 0:32). But, as Zack wrote yesterday on Greater Greater Washington, that still wasn't enough to sway the supervisor of the local police precinct to do anything:

Now it was time to take action against the claims that I was at fault. I returned to the Third District police station, where a supervisor told me that only the officer who wrote the report and the ticket could change it. He asked me to tell my story again.

"Wait, you mean, you were biking and you want a ticket canceled?" he said, incredulous. "We all know how bikers behave. It must have been your fault. C'mon. You are a biker."

When I suggested that he review the video, he refused. The supervisor said he'd contact the officer but that I shouldn't expect anything to come of it, as I was a bicyclist.

Eventually, Zach was able to set the record straight:

So I filed an appeal. I scheduled a hearing and brought my evidence, but the officer didn't bother to show up. The ticket was canceled. It took an extra several hours of unnecessary hassle, but it felt great.

Thanks to the airtight evidence contained in the footage, Zach was also able to win an insurance claim against the driver for his injuries, which include permanent damage to his shoulder.

Zack's whole story is worth a read. It makes you wonder how many times biased police have wrongfully blamed victims who didn't survive a crash or couldn't obtain camera evidence on their own.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland explains a new state law that will give pedestrians right of way over vehicles anywhere on narrow neighborhood streets. Biking Toronto shares stories from Seattle and Toronto about developers catering to people who ride bikes. And Systemic Failure says that the Federal Railroad Administration's promises of flexibility on one of their onerous safety regulations are a joke.

BYKES - Forest Park activists to City Council;Wilderness; at risk and biker crackdown needed

Marcy Houle testified to City Council that
Forest Park's "wilderness values" are at risk.
Just 16 days after Commissioner Amanda Fritz was put in charge of the Parks Bureau, people who are opposed to improving bicycle access in Forest Park have begun to pressure her to crack down on illegal riding and limit any policy changes that might result in more riders in the park.
Noted anti-bike activist and author Marcy Houle - who claimed back in March that trails in Forest Park were being "ruined by cyclists" and then teamed up with friends at the NW Examiner newspaper on a biased, hit piece against mountain biking - and local pediatrician Catherine Thompson, addressed Mayor Hales, Commissioner Fritz, and the rest of City Council during the citizen communication period before last week's meeting.

Houle implored Council to take on a "renewed commitment and excitement" toward making Forest Park the "urban wilderness" she says it was originally conceived to be. Houle read quotes about the park from three of its founders who envisioned it as a place where Portlanders could enjoy the "peace, solitude, and beauty of an urban wilderness." Houle (who wrote a book about Forest Park titled, One City's Wilderness) used her three minute testimony to express her concerns that the "wilderness values" of the park are in jeopardy.
Houle read Council members the goal laid out in the 1995 Forest Park Natural Resource Plan and said she wants it posted at every trailhead in the park. That goal reads:
"Forest Park is an unparalleled resource where citizens can experience, peace, solitude, and passive recreational use without degrading natural resources."
Houle never mentioned bicycling in her testimony; but given her history of opposition to the bike access issue, her intentions are obvious. Houle feels like the more people who see Forest Parks as a pristine wilderness, the easier it will be to prohibit the expansion of bicycle access (after all, federal law currently forbids mountain bikes in officially designated wilderness areas). It's also a tried and true tactic of people opposed to mountain biking to portray it as an extreme sport that is inherently at odds with "wilderness values."

Catherine Thompson
Houle's intentions also came into focus when the person who followed her to the microphone was Catherine Thompson. Thompson is a local pediatrician who said she was speaking up for "safety" in the park and then went on to single out bicycle riders. "Many groups have been writing letters concerned about safety," she said, "It kind of started with the singletrack committee" (a reference to the Forest Park Single Track Advisory Committee set up to consider new bike access in the park.)
Thompson continued: "People were anticipating safety issues if singletrack occurred, and really, what I've discovered as I've spent time in he park is that's happening right now and I really think it's a crisis... Pedestrians need to be safe and feel safe and that's just not happening now... 92% of the users of the park are pedestrians and right now they don't feel safe."
It's worth noting why Thompson focused her testimony on how "pedestrians don't feel safe." She very likely remembers that Commissioner Fritz (who know holds the power to dictate the future of bike access in Forest Park), once ranted against bike sharing in Portland because of what she felt was "dangerous behaviors" of people who ride bikes. "Daily," Fritz wrote in an email to a constituent about her stance on bike sharing, "I see cyclists riding on the sidewalks, endangering and harassing pedestrians." A few months later, Fritz got the police to step up enforcement of sidewalk cycling law.
After painting a picture of people riding bicycles in a way that endangers hikers, Thompson called on City Council to erect new signs in the park listing the ordinance that forbids people from riding bikes on certain singletrack trails. "Until signs are up, rangers can't do any enforcement," she said. Thompson claimed that she spoke to a Forest Park ranger and learned, "He hasn't excluded a single cyclist during his entire tenure."
Thompson also said she and Houle have begun circulating a petition "casually" and so far 250 people have signed it. She didn't say what the petition says; but she told Council members it "gives some information that people aren't feeling safe in the park."
So to recap: Houle and Thompson are telling our city government that Forest Park should be managed as a pristine wilderness; that there's a safety crisis in the park due to people riding bicycles illegally; and that park rangers need to crackdown on these lawbreakers and kick them out of the park so that everyone can feel safe.
We'll let you know how/if Commissioner Fritz responds; but I sure hope she's hearing other perspectives on this issue.
You can watch Houle and Thompson's testimony here (begins at about 12:00 minute mark).

BYKES - NewNW Skate Coalition; wants skateboarding to follow biking;s path

NWSC co-founders Billy "Bones" Meiners and Cory Poole.
(Photo © M. Andersen/BikePortland)
Forty years after Oregon started taking bicycle transportation seriously, a new group for people who get around by skateboard says it's another vehicle's turn.
The NW Skate Coalition, organized last fall in the wake of public controversy over downhill skating in the West Hills, is looking for new ways to persuade Portlanders that four polyurethane wheels and a maple board add up to a pretty good idea.
And anyone who's watched the growth of biking in Portland will recognize their agenda.
There's skate fun: The third annual Skate Critical Mass is tonight at 6 p.m. in Tom McCall Park. There's government recognition: they recently met to talk skateboarding with Mayor Charlie Hales' policy advisor. There's in-school education: they're hoping to take part in the local Safe Routes to School program.
NWSC co-founder Cory Poole is even participating in next month's Disaster Relief Trials on his longboard ... and thinking about joining an upcoming move by bike, too.
It's an urban transportation movement that seems well-suited to Portland, which in 2000 decriminalized skateboarding on city streets after an uphill campaign by then-Transportation Commissioner Hales.
"Riders of such devices are subject to the provisions applicable to, and have the same rights and duties provided any driver of a vehicle ... except when otherwise specifically provided."
- from the Portland City Code regulation of skateboards
"No one's looking at this as a viable transportation solution for urban areas," said Poole, 36, in an interview Thursday. "They kind of put up with it. They deal with it. [But] I don't think many cities other than Portland have said, 'This is not just something we should deal with but something we can use.'"
Billy Meiners, another NWSC co-founder (and also a founder of popular skateboarding website PDX Downhill), said that after years of successful short-term civic activism projects, Portland's skating community deserves more sustained, strategic effort on its behalf.
"There's plenty of groups that are like, 'We need a skate park,'" said Meiners, 27. "The skate park's built and it's like, 'We're done.'"
Though Poole and Meiners say they don't aspire to create a large professional organization like the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, they've looked to Oregon's 23-year-old bike advocacy group as a model of effectiveness and professionalism. They also look at Portland's increasingly diverse bike culture and see the future of the skateboard scene.
"I don't see there being a 25 percent mode share for skateboards ever," Poole said. "But [on an errand] I'll see two, three skateboards and maybe eight, nine bicycles. That's a lot of skateboards."
By almost any measure, skateboarding and longboarding are cheap. A decent board costs $100, plus less than $100 per year in replacement wheels and ball bearings.
Last month, Portland State University scholar Tessa Walker presented work from a master's thesis about skateboard transportation in Portland as part of the school's transportation seminar series. Walker found that although "skating is still primarily, at least in terms of this sample, young white men ... I got a lot more diversity than I was expecting in terms of age."
Poole and Meiners say that gradually improving skateboard technology, such as more complicated trucks and softer wheels, is making boards more comfortable and luring older people to see them as practical.
"There's no reason to age out of longboarding," said Poole, who lives in Portland and commutes to Salem as a property manager. "I literally go years between falls. If you're just using it as transportation, you don't need to fall ever. It's a freak incident if you fall."
Walker's research also found that an entire generation of skaters, Poole included, like to ride with their children. Nineteen percent of her survey respondents reported doing so.
"It's something I can do to remain connected with my teen boys," one man told Walker. "I reward them for Bs or above with predawn sessions."
Another finding of Walker's: one-third of all skateboard-related ER visits come from people who've been skateboarding for less than a week.
Poole and Meiners hope that's one statistic the NW Skate Coalition will be able to change, by making skateboard education more common. They're currently focused on organizing occasional events, building relationships in the local skating community and getting to know police, schools and other local government institutions.
"Most of the policy people I talk to, after I talk to them and a couple months pass, I talk to them again, and they're like, I've been noticing so many skateboards!" Poole said. He laughed. "No, they were there all along."

BYKES - Pedalpalooza tonight: Hops, hammocks, zombies and parties galore

Rocky Butte Sunset Ride-7
Join friends for an evening ride
and picnic up on Rocky Butte.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
The Pedalpalooza menu for this evening looks quite delicious. Whether you're into happy hour with the beer and biking experts behind the Hop in the Saddle, hanging out in hammocks, or dancing the night away under the stars, there's bound to be a ride that suits you.
Check out the menu below (ride descriptions taken from Shift calendar) and get a feel for the rides with some of our images from past years...
Hop in the Saddle Happy Hour Ride
Join the creator's of Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland's Craft Beer Scene, by Bike and pedal to Breakside Brewery. Portland beer expert Lucy Burningham with talk about beer, and we'll follow a Hop in the Saddle route from Burnside Brewing. Festivities will commence post-ride.
4:30 pm at Burnside Brewery (701 E Burnside)
Hammock Hangout Ride
We will be setting up at several interesting hammocking spots. Show off your hammock and hammock love. Bring hammocks, munchies and beverages. A relaxing, low effort ride. Salmon st. fountain, SW Salmon St and Naito Pkwy Take Trimet
6:00pm at Salmon Street Fountain (SW Naito Parkway and Salmon)
Bike Play 5: Bike Odyssey
Answer the call to adventure as Bike Odyssey takes you on an epic journey through a land of gods, monsters, and heroically dexterous bike mechanics. The fifth installment of the Working Theatre Collective's road-cloggingly-popular, pedal-powered-quest-theatrical-spectacular resurrects the gods of old for one more ride. You will cycle through worlds (and underworlds!) forbidden to mere mortals, alongside our band of cyclo-nauts. Don't forget your bike! You are encouraged to come dressed in the guise of your favorite bike goddess, demigod, or titan. (NOTE: Check out the BikePortland recap from this event last year.)
6:30 pm at Irving Park (NE 7th and Fargo)
Bike play by Working Theatre Collective-4
Bike play by Working Theatre Collective-7

Bike play by Working Theatre Collective-12
Bike play by Working Theatre Collective-16
Rocky Butte Sunset Dance Party Picnic
Follow the tunes from Irving Park (NE 11th & Klickitat) to Rocky Butte for a potluck, sunset picnic and dance party. Dance 'til you drop on the lawn or just eat and take in the sunset. Party-goers are encouraged to bring healthy food (if that is your thing) and list your ingredients for those with food allergies and preferences.
7:00 pm at Irving Park
Rocky Butte Sunset Ride-14
Rocky Butte Sunset Ride-13
Dirty Diablo's Wild Ride (21+)
Wild Devilish Delights! Come Run with the Devil y'all! FREAK OUT! Rockin' tunes, lights, dancing & adult related stops. Crashing the Bike Prom enroute then peeling off for more debauchery ;) Bring Lights! Wear Protection! Ride at own risk! Not a loop/will go late.
7:00 pm at Devil's Point (5305 SE Foster Rd)
Bowie vs Prince Ride-38
Mr. Diablo in action.
Dropout Prom Ride
Dropout Bike Bicycle's monthly freakbike social ride, this is 4th year of "Prom" theme for Pedalpalooza. Over the years, this ride has become the place to show off your newest bicycle oddities. Come ride, have an adventure, and socialize. All bikes welcome, but the pace is set by the freakbikes.
Meet at 9:00 pm, ride at 10 Colonel Summers Park (SE 20th and Belmont)
Prom and Dropout Bike Club Ride-7
Prom and Dropout Bike Club Ride-15
Sexy Hippie Zombie Nightlight Ride
Dress in your best sexy hippie zombie getup for a crazy scary fun night ride through Northeast PDX. There will be a prize for the best outfit! Maybe we'll hit up a graveyard. Maybe we'll just ride in the night and scare people along the way. Maybe we'll reenact Thriller along the side of the road! Drinks on Alberta at the culmination of the ride- location to be decided by zombie majority vote. Light up your bike in the zaniest way you can imagine and come ride with us!
9:00 pm Wilshire Park (NE 35th and Skidmore)
See full details of all these rides on the official Pedalpalooza calendar. And have a great weekend!

BYKES - Report Finds Emerging Cycling Population That Looks Like America

Graph: League of American Bicyclists, Sierra Club

A promising new report says cycling is booming across the United States, with the biggest gains coming from young people, women, and people of color getting on bikes.

A project of the League of American Bicyclists and the Sierra Club, "The New Majority: Pedaling Towards Equity" [PDF] finds that the number of bike trips in the U.S. doubled from 1.7 billion in 2001 to more than four billion in 2009. The study is based on data from U.S. DOT, the Census Bureau, academic studies and other sources.

From the Bike League Blog:

According to the report, the fastest growth in bicycling over the last decade is among the Hispanic, African American and Asian American populations, which grew from 16% of all bike trips in 2001 to 23% in 2009.

According to a national poll, more than 85% of people of color (African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and mixed race) have a positive view of bicyclists and 71% say their community would be a better place to live if bicycling were safer and more comfortable.

That support is true among the next generation, as well: 89% of young adults - aged 18-29 - have a positive view of bicyclists at and 75% agree that their community would be a better place to live if biking and walking were safer and more comfortable.

The report profiles efforts to bring safer streets to areas where more people are riding, or where there is potential for growth, but bike infrastructure is inadequate. In Los Angeles, for example, neighborhoods with the highest percentages of people of color had less cycling infrastructure, and areas with the lowest median household income suffered the highest number of cyclist and pedestrian crashes, according to the report.

"The U.S. Department of Transportation, local and state transportation planners, and advocates at all levels have a responsibility to ensure that our transportation is safe, accessible, and equitable for everyone," writes League fellow Hamzat Sani. "This report shows that the future of transportation is changing, and in many ways is already here."

Also on the Network today: The Naked City Blog reports that the Charlotte City Council has voted to move forward with a grant proposal to extend the Queen City's streetcar line, at a meeting that featured an appearance from U.S. transportation secretary nominee (and Charlotte mayor) Anthony Foxx; Streetsblog's John Greenfield promises that 2013 "is the year sustainable transportation blows up" in Chicago; and Streets.MN thinks about cycle tracks way more than you do.

BYKES - Riders cheer City of Vancouver decision for bike lanes on MacArthur

MacArthur Blvd
The City of Vancouver has just announced that the entire stretch of MacArthur Blvd from East Mill Plain to South Lieser Road will have a dedicated bike lane.
Thanks to the diligence and perseverance of activists and local bike riders, the city reversed an earlier decision to remove bike lanes and replace them with sharrows along a popular bike commuter and recreational route, and is now planning a 'right-sized' road with one lane of traffic and a buffered bike lane in each direction. "The reconfigured MacArthur will continue to meet the needs of the current traffic volumes," reads the City's project website, "while allowing for full bike lanes in each direction."

MacArthur Blvd., the only east-west bike corridor in the city, has long been considered overly developed for auto traffic, with two lanes in each direction through a residential neighborhood with several schools along the route. A resurfacing and restriping project opened up possibilities to reconfigure the road. In April, the city conducted traffic volume and speed studies and found, what cyclists and others already knew, that the number of cars didn't warrant four lanes, and that the average speed was too high to provide safety for cyclists in a sharrowed lane.
"We're a long way from the transportation designs of Europe or even Portland, but this is a very positive step."
- Jan Verrinder, who lives and rides along the MacArthur corridor
Local citizen activists are celebrating the victory. "This totally changes the reputation of Vancouver," said Eric Giacchino, president of Bike Clark County. "It puts the city council in the forefront of promoting active transportation in the city and making us more bike friendly."
Jan Verrinder, a resident along the corridor, "Our city's decision is a huge step in the right direction. Our mayor came out on a Tour de Mac with us and was joined by more than 50 other cyclists. Our city council listened and our city engineers executed a new traffic volume and speed study giving them the numbers that turned the tide. Most of all, to me however, it was a sign that we can work together for all road users. We're a long way from the transportation designs of Europe or even Portland, but this is a very positive step."
The city's public works department will be presenting this proposal to the city council Monday. Activists are urging everyone who cares about traffic safety to attend the meeting to thank the city for choosing what is a controversial plan in that neighborhood and to show support more forward-thinking transportation planning in the city. Activists will be gathering at 6:30 pm outside the council chambers: 415 West 6th St., Vancouver, 2nd Floor.
Learn more about this project, and their rationale for the road diet and bike lanes, on the City of Vancouver's website.

BYKES - The Old "We Don't Need Bike Lanes Because Nobody Bikes Here" Nonsense

"I went out and parked under a shade tree, it was on a Saturday, a beautiful day and I counted in one hour 374 cars and zero bikes," Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau told a local ABC affiliate.

Fresno's Fruit Avenue was scheduled for a road diet, until a local councilman's "informal study" concluded no one bikes there. Image: ABC Local

That claim - some version of which should be familiar to bike advocates everywhere - was used to kill a road diet in Fresno, California, that was planned for three years, enjoyed wide public support, and would have cost local taxpayers nothing. James Sinclair at Stop and Move is outraged that a thoroughly vetted project that would have offered many public benefits was derailed.

He says the "nobody bikes here so we don't need bike lanes" attitude is willful political ignorance at its worst:

That's right, one council member chose to ignore expert traffic engineers, expert planners, and years of community outreach and work because he sat outside in his car and counted cars. And so he torpedoed a project outside his jurisdiction, one which he apparently did not understand.

Let's also forget for a second that sitting in your car for an unspecified amount of time is not a traffic study. Let's imagine for a second, that not one cyclist actually did go by. 374 cars on a 4 lane road? Clearly, the REAL traffic engineers were right when they said a road diet would cause no congestion - that's nothing!

There's also the fact that cyclists don't use the road BECAUSE it lacks bike lanes. Nobody drives on the proposed Veteran's Avenue either, and yet the city will spend tens of millions to build it.

Sinclair says the only good thing that could come out of this ordeal is for Brandau to be voted out of office. Shortly after his "stand" against bike lanes, Sinclair reports, a handful of people expressed interest in challenging him.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Dallas Morning News' Transportation Blog reports that there is still talk of tearing down a downtown highway. Bike Portland explores possible explanations for the precipitous drop in cycling among girls after the age of 14. And the Beat Bike Blog explains why he's so happy not to have a yard.

BYKES - The most popular story we've ever told

Fiets of Parenthood
Emily Finch and her family competing in the Fiets of Parenthood in September 2012.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One year ago today we shared the story of Emily Finch, the 35-year old southeast Portland resident and mother of six who "does it all by bike." Since then, the story has traveled far and wide and Emily became something of a phenomenon.
Since BikePortland started in April 2005, we've put 9,322 stories on the Front Page and Emily's is by far the most popular thing we've ever posted (if you're curious, the four other most popular posts in our all-time top five are coverage of the Naked Bike Ride).
I think there are a lot of reasons why Emily's story resonated. For one, what she does is simply amazing. I've observed people bicycling in the most bike-friendly cities in the world and even in places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, I've yet to see someone carry six kids on a bike with such determination and panache. I also think her story shocked people for different reasons. A lot of the discussion it generated (comments are still coming in a year later!) focused on the juxtaposition of bicycling and Emily's personal choices about family size. But I think for most people (especially Americans) the idea of riding with kids in traffic - much less six of them - was a shock to their sensibilities. Like I said back then, when you read the story and see the photos, it forces you to re-think what's possible.
What I'll remember most about this story is how it provided an avenue for Emily to inspire others and to find her place in our community. From an appearance on the Ricki Lake Show in Los Angeles to an article she wrote in the upcoming issue of Bicycle Times Magazine, she has embraced the attention (well, most of it anyway) and has put it to good use.
Thank you Emily for tolerating the annoyances that come with making your life public. And thanks to everyone who read and shared her story.
- If you missed it the first time around, you can read it here.

CARS - Driver's Ed: What A Veteran Auto Writer Learned Teaching Her Teen To Drive

Teaching my daughter to drive was one of the toughest assignments this journalist ever had

CARS - Ford Admits Auto Industry Slow To Innovate, Praises Silicon Valley (Video)

Bill Ford is definitely bitten by the Silicon Valley bug. At the company's Further with Ford conference this week, Ford's executive chairman and great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, admitted on stage that the automobile industry has failed to innovate for the past decades - something that most drivers knew already for years.

CARS - Limited-Range Bi-Fuel Vehicles The Next Step For Alt-Fuels?

carlab-3Installing CNG systems on conventional cars is expensive, due in part to the large and intrusive fuel tanks needed to hold even a most amount of natural gas. But vehicle consultant Carlabs has developed a small bi-fuel system that takes advantage of CNG's low cost, without adding too much to the car's sale price.

carlab-2Carlabs performed bi-fuel conversions on four vehicles to show the flexibility of their system. A Hyundai Sonata, BMW X3, Ford Mustang GT, and GMC Acadia, using tanks that hold the equivalent of four gallons of natural gas. The tanks were fitted into the space usually reserved for the spare tire, and added between 55 and 75 miles of extra range using a fuel that averages around $2 for a gallon-equivalent. This is in addition to the standard gasoline tanks on each car, which were unaltered. The cars can switch seamlessly between gasoline and natural gas.

These systems could make a great "gateway" alternative-fuel vehicle for people who live in areas where CNG stations are still few and far between. If you lived close to a CNG station, you could putz around town on a much-cheaper fuel source, and then for long journeys fill up on regular gasoline, secure that you'll never be far from refueling. It gives me security than a pure CNG car like the $26,000 Honda Civic Natural Gas, which was briefly offered with a $3,000 gas card to motivate sales.

Best of all, the systems only cost between $2,600 and $2,900 per car which, while not cheap, is about the cost of adding leather seats or other premium options. Most bi-fuel systems have much larger tanks, driving up costs. Vehicles, like the Ram 2500 HD CNG carry a $11,000 premium for their natural gas systems. This lower cost could conceivably be made up in just a couple of years of driving, especially if gas prices go back up to $4 a gallon and you do a lot of city driving.

Are small bi-fuel systems the key to CNG adoption?

Source: Green Car Reports

The post Limited-Range Bi-Fuel Vehicles The Next Step For Alt-Fuels? appeared first on Gas 2.

CARS - One Drawback of Fuel-Efficient Cars? Higher Gas Taxes

tax-pumpThe Federal Highway Fund has had a budget shortfall for decades, owing mostly to the fact that the Federal gas tax hasn't budged since 1993. That alone was bad enough to cause our infrastructure to fall trillions of dollars behind, and new more fuel-efficient cars are only compounding the problem. This has Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood looking at options that include higher taxes and tracking miles driven.

Between 2012 and 2013, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the highway fund is about $110 billion short, and that doesn't even account for the trillions in neglected infrastructure improvements across the country. LaHood has floated the idea of taxing vehicles based on miles traveled before, but the idea is gaining new traction among politicians looking to bolster Federal coffers. Some states have even floated this idea on their own, though implementing such a system would be quite expensive and difficult.

To make up the budget shortfall, politicians would either have to raise the gas tax by between 30 and 46 cents per gallon, or establish a method for tracking and taxing annual miles driven. This "miles driven" tax would cost between 0.9 cents and 2.2 cents per mile. This would cost the average driver between $100 and $260 per year, and would require GPS tracking devices in every vehicle.

That makes taxing vehicle miles traveled essentially a non-starter, which really leaves only raising the gas tax as an option, though lower tech methods of tracking mileage (like an annual mileage "check up") could be employed. Higher gas taxes are an inevitability though, and even Bob Lutz thinks gas prices should be higher. But with the nigh-unworkable political climate in Washington D.C., it may take a few more bridge collapses to convince politicians and the public that a higher gas tax is an absolute necessity.

Source: The Truth About Cars | The Detroit News | Image: Michael Kappel

The post One Drawback of Fuel-Efficient Cars? Higher Gas Taxes appeared first on Gas 2.

CARS - Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Option To Cost $2,850 Over HEMI V8

2014 Ram 1500The Chrysler 3.0 liter EcoDiesel engine, which debuted in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel, has made its way into the Ram 1500 pickup. While official MPG figures have not been released, Ram does say that it will only cost $2,850 more than a similarly-equipped HEMI V8 model.

2014 Ram 1500America seems to have finally gotten over its adversity to diesel engines, and Chrysler is taking full advantage. The EcoDiesel engine offers 240 horsepower and 420 ft-lbs of torque, which is less power but more torque than the 5.7 liter HEMI V8 engine, which offers 395 horsepower and 410 ft-lbs of torque. What that means is that while the EcoDiesel Ram won't be as fast, it will be able to pull just as much, if not more.

Fuel economy should also be substantially better than the HEMI too, which manages just 14 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway. The 3.6 liter Pentastar offers better fuel economy at 17 city and 25 highway, thanks in part to a class-exclusive 8-speed automatic transmission, making it the most fuel-efficient pickup you can buy. But the EcoDiesel V6 should top even that, as in the Jeep Grand Cherokee the EcoDiesel engine manages 21 city and 30 highway mpg. A 30 mpg, full-size pickup? Yes please, and while you're add it throw one into the Jeep Wrangler too.

The $2,850 price premium is substantial, but with perhaps as much as 10 mpg better on the highway, it could be a very cost-efficient option for anyone who needs V8 power, but wants V6 fuel economy. If you can afford the extra cost, the EcoDiesel option seems like a no brainer...though I'll wait for the official mpg ratings before declaring it MPG King.

2014 Ram 15002014 Ram 15002014 Ram 15002014 Ram 1500

Source: Chrysler

The post Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Option To Cost $2,850 Over HEMI V8 appeared first on Gas 2.

CARS - The 2014 Mazda 3 Grows Up With Sophisticated New Look And Impressive Technology

The Mazda 3 gets a thorough makeover for 2014. Will the sophisticated styling and improved performance help this sporty compact car get noticed?

CARS - Top 10 Luxury Car Brands In China

According to the 2013 World Luxury Index by the Digital Luxury Group, these are the global auto makers the rich Chinese want to drive.

CARS - VW's Vision Of Ecological Sustainability Takes Shape In Tennessee

Image Credit: Andrew Burger / CleanTechnica

Image Credit: Andrew Burger / CleanTechnica

Volkswagen AG's vision of ecological sustainability is taking shape amidst the lushly forested, green hills of the Tennessee Valley. Serving as a proving ground and model for increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions, water usage, materials usage, and waste for VW plants the world over, VW America's manufacturing facility in Chattanooga embodies the sum total of Think Blue, the latest five-year (2013-2018) iteration of the automaker's global sustainability initiative.

Realizing incremental gains in energy usage and key sustainability performance indicators at Volkswagen Chattanooga won't be easy. The facility is already equipped with the latest in high-energy efficiency mechatronic (mechanical electronics) robotics, manufacturing equipment, and process management and administrative systems - all configured to provide employees an optimal ergonomic work environment. All administrative and manufacturing facilities and processes have been thoroughly assessed and evaluated with an eye towards realizing VW's comprehensive sustainability goals.

Nonetheless, with Think Blue, VW management aims to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at its manufacturing facilities another 25% by 2018. Part and parcel of this, VW AG management has earmarked $500 million to $600 million of capital to further enhance the overall social and ecological - as well as economic - sustainability of its global operations by investing in renewable energy projects.

Providing VW with a proving ground and benchmark for new facility and process features and enhancements that improve the overall sustainability of its operations, the sustained commitment to ecological sustainability VW is making was clearly evident at the Chattanooga site during a recent company-sponsored energy management workshop and site tour that I had the opportunity to attend.

Why VW's Think Blue Is Serious Green

With Think Blue, VW is ratcheting up its sustainability efforts, starting at sites such as the plant in Chattanooga - which manufactures the VW Passat for the US and foreign markets - and then globally. Design features incorporated and proved there have already been used in several other VW manufacturing facilities around the world, including in China and Mexico, VW executives told reporters.

Image Credit: Andrew Burger / CleanTechnica

Image Credit: Andrew Burger / CleanTechnica

Indicative of how seriously VW is taking Think Blue, mangers' annual bonuses are tied to achieving Think Blue's sustainability goals, in which customer and employee satisfaction, environmental sustainability, product quality and performance, and profitability all factor in.

Investing $1 billion to construct the world's first LEED-certified manufacturing site and world-first LEED Platinum auto manufacturing plant, VW is intent on further reducing the negative environmental and social impacts of its operations while continuing to follow through on its commitment to excellence in auto manufacturing, efforts that company representatives described, explained, exhibited, and discussed with a group of reporters.

Commissioned in 2011 with a production line comprised of body, paint, and assembly shops, some 2,700 VW Chattanooga employees churned out 152,543 VW Passats last year, more than the manufacturing line's 150,000 rated capacity.

Demonstrating the willingness to go beyond merely meeting local, national, and international standards for environmental and social responsibility, at Chattanooga, the global auto manufacturer has restored a brownfield site - a former US Army munitions storage and waste disposal facility - turning it into a wetland and forest reserve that now provides habitat for a variety of threatened native species as well as a recreation for residents and visitors.

On the social impact side, an initial class of 12 student apprentices is about to complete a rigorous, three-year work-study program that could see them earn associate's degrees from Chattanooga State University, as well as be the first Americans to earn German national and VW technical certifications. That's in addition to being offered full-time jobs at the plant should they pass their final exams.

Embedding Sustainability As A Core Value

Converging on the VW Chattanooga plant, an international team of VW executives and staff has developed a comprehensive, four-stage Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology that now serves as the template for its manufacturing facilities worldwide. Baseline references for 2012, embodied in four key performance indicators (KPIs) - energy, water, waste, CO2 and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) - have been established to mark progress.

Image Credit: Andrew Burger / CleanTechnica

Image Credit: Andrew Burger / CleanTechnica

The first step in the LCA process entails performing a Life Cycle Inventory that includes assessing the Global Warming Potential (GWP), photochemical ozone creation and ozone depletion, and soil and water acidification profiles of its operations. These are verified by independent experts.

The three subsequent phases of VW's LCA process extend to include all facilities and processes, vehicle service life and recycling, as well as accounting for upstream emissions, such as aluminum manufacturing. More streamlined and energy efficient, the new Passat's 1.4-liter TDI BlueMotion is one example of the results, an enhancement that translates into lower vehicle emissions over the course of each vehicle's lifecycle.

Green building elements incorporated at VW Chattanooga include recycled building materials and the use of smart insulation and energy-efficient lighting. Temperature regulation and heat recovery is enhanced by making use of light-reflecting foil on rooftops, six-inch thick insulation, air-to-air heat exchangers, and coat ventilation, which also results in enhanced air flow characteristics, a critically important health and safety attribute for an auto manufacturing plant, given the presence of potentially toxic chemicals and emissions.

Fresh air cooling is used at night or when outside air temperatures are low enough. LED and T5 fluorescent lighting, as well design aspects meant to assure that a high level of natural light is used, helps minimize power consumption.

VW's efforts to conserve water at the Chattanooga plant extend to harvesting rainwater to supply low-water toilets and shower facilities, as well as cooling robots in the body shop and other aspects of manufacturing and administrative processes. Stormwater is saved in basins and pumped into cooling towers for use in factory processes and for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC).

Dr. Jan Spies, who is in charge of manufacturing plant and site design for VW plant worldwide, stated:

"We're trying to save water wherever and whenever possible. We think we can save 50 million gallons per year compared to a normal factory."

Renewable Energy Greening Auto Manufacturing

And what would a green auto manufacturing plant be without green, renewable energy? Installed in 2011, four solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are up and running at VW sites in Germany.

Image Credit: Andrew Burger / CleanTechnica

At the VW Chattanooga plant, a 9.6 megawattt-DC (Mwdc)/7.6 MWac solar photovoltaic (PV) system is designed to supply 12.5% of the facility's power needs. The solar PV system generates some 13.1 million kilowatt-hours per year of clean, renewable energy, which VW purchases from Phoenix Solar, which installed, operates and owns the solar PV system. Ground-mounted at a 25-degree fixed tilt, the clean energy produced enables VW Chattanooga to avoid some 6,100 metric tons per year of CO2 emissions.

While the solar PV system has exceeded expected peak production at times, a cloudy winter left overall power generation a bit below expectations so far this year. Solar energy is supplying around 7% of the facility's total energy needs and about 14% of its electricity, VW Chattanooga's energy and utility specialist David Gustashaw explained during a tour of the solar PV field, which spans some 33 acres.

The rest of VW Chattanooga's electricity needs are met via the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) grid. TVA has been switching its dual-fuel generation systems from coal to natural gas, which also "helped knocked [the VW Chattanooga] site's green emissions factor down," he pointed out.

As Gustashaw put it simply when explaining why the world's third-largest auto manufacturer chose to install a 9.6 MWdc PV system on site when a much smaller one would have been sufficient to demonstrate its green credentials,

"It's a demonstration of our ethic."

Spurred onward by environmental, climate change, and renewable energy goals in Europe, VW has laid out a strategic plan for shifting away from fossil fuels towards a diversified mix of renewable energy resources via which it intends to reduce its carbon and greenhouse emissions 40% from 2010 levels by 2020 and another 15% by 2030, Rainund Wunder, executive vice president for VW Kraftwerk Gmbh, explained.

Recent efforts include upgrading coal-fired power plants; installing high-efficiency, low emissions combined-cycle natural gas power plants; making use of combined heat and power (CHP) and cogeneration technology; and investing in wind, hydro, and solar energy projects. Renewable resources meet 24% of VW's power needs at present. The plan is for that to increase to 35% by 2020, 50% by 2030, 65% by 2040, and 80% by 2050.

VW's renewable power capacity totaled 47 MW as of 2011. Plans are for renewables to meet more than half the global automaker's power needs, with the lion's share being allocated to offshore wind power generation.

Why put so much time and effort and devote so much in the way of enterprise resources to energy management? As Dr. Spies succinctly put it, VW has found that it's less costly to incorporate energy efficiency improvements and make manufacturing, management, and administrative processes recycling friendly from the start, incorporating them early in the design process.

More than half (55.4%) of energy consumption at the VW Chattanooga plant is used for heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting, as opposed to production line processes, Spies pointed out. "Conserving, recovering, and reusing energy is basically the core task when designing a plant," he said.

This post originally appeared on our sister site, CleanTechnica

The post VW's Vision Of Ecological Sustainability Takes Shape In Tennessee appeared first on Gas 2.

CARS - Why Tesla is Beating GM, Nissan and Ford

Tesla is a disruptive innovator, and major auto companies are trapped in the innovator's dilemma - which is why Tesla stock is doing so well.

EVs - 2013 Kia Sportage: The One-Sentence Review

kia-review-2It wasn't so long ago that massive SUVs dominated America's highways and byways, forcing smaller cars off the road and guzzling gas like it was going out of style. But those days are gone, and a new kind of car, the crossover, has stepped up to fill its place. The 2013 Kia Sportage celebrates two decades of production this year, and Kia has learned a lot when it comes to building a better family crossover, though there is still room for improvement, especially in the rear seats and cargo area.


The big wheels and LED tail lights really bring some attitude to the Kia Sportage.

Performance: My test car came armed with the standard 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine, rather than the 2.0 liter turbocharged engine. That was a bit of a disappointment, especially given the barely-adequete performance of the 2.4 liter engine. With a $30,800 MSRP and all-wheel drive, the Kia Sportage could really have used that 260 horsepower turbo engine. The only benefit of the non-turbo is slightly-better MPG ratings, with the 2.4 liter engine netting a 21/27/23 with all-wheel drive. The turbo engine gets 20/25/22 mpg.

The Sportage also wasn't the most comfortable car in terms of ride quality or handling, but it wasn't awful either. The seats and suspension absorbed most bumps, though there was a fair bit of body roll around tighter turns. The all-wheel drive stuck the Sportage to the road, even in wet weather, and it made for a confident, if a bit sluggish, ride.

One-Sentence Review: Opt for the turbo engine and all-wheel drive, and you'll have no complaints.


There's no denying the Kia Sportage is a good-looking car, though the non-turbo engine is only adequate.

Exterior: This is one sharp-looking crossover, and when it debuted in 2010 there was nothing like it. However, with competitors rolling out increasingly attractive vehicles, it isn't the only option if you're looking for a family car with some personality.

That said, I love the looks of the Kia Sportage, and it really didn't feel like I was driving a crossover. It stuck out from the crowd in a good way, and the aggressive front fascia goes a long way towards soothing my masculine car sensibilities. It is a wonderful alternative to a minivan, and I didn't mind being seen it, despite my lack of children. Even the name, "Sportage", seems aimed at mid-life men.

One-Sentence Review: This is a great-looking ride with a more manly appeal than many crossover competitors.


Doesn't look like the interior of a Kia, does it?

Interior: The Kia Sportage is, straight up, a comfortable and luxurious-feeling crossover. Like its partner Hyundai, Kia has stepped up the level of quality in their cars in an unexpected way in this price range. Standard features include air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, a radio with USB/iPod integration, and power everything.

Stepping up to the top-tier EX model nets you bigger wheels, dual climate-control, foglights, upgraded cloth seats and sound system, and the Uvo infotainment system. Soft materials cover most surfaces, and the optional leather seats include cooling and heating elements, which I found especially useful on hot days where leather surfaces can be scorching. This feels like a more expensive car than it is, and I don't know how Kia manages it.

One-Sentence Review: Stepping into the Kia Sportage feels like stepping into a more expensive car than it is thanks to the long list of features and quality workmanship.


Unfortunately, the rear seats and cargo area are both cramped compared to competitors.

Overall Value: Despite it's attractive exterior, comfortable interior, and optional turbocharged engine, I have a few other gripes with the Kia Sportage. The rear seats don't provide much room for a full-sized adult, and the cargo hold is just 26.1 cubic feet with the seats up, 54.6 cubic feet with the seats down.

That said, at $30,800 my tester came with just about every option save the turbocharged motor, and most people probably don't need the extra 80 or so horsepower. I enjoyed coming home and seeing the Kia Sportage in my driveway, and some of my neighbors made a point to ask me about it.

It definitely has a premium feel to it, but at a very agreeable price point. If you live in an area where all-wheel drive isn't necessary, the Sportage also offers competitive fuel economy of up to 30 mpg highway.

One-Sentence Review: The 2013 Kia Sportage is a good-looking, well-appointed crossover that feels good to drive, looks good in your driveway, and won't empty your wallet at the dealership or gas pump.


The post 2013 Kia Sportage: The One-Sentence Review appeared first on Gas 2.

EVs - Fiat 500e EV sold out in California for rest of 2013

The 2013 Fiat 500e electric car, which was rated at an impressive 116 MPG-equivalent by the EPA and can be leased for $199/month, has apparently been declared 'sold out' by Fiat in California.

EVs - New EV Land Speed Record - 204.185 MPH (VIDEO)

This article originally appeared on Gas2.By Chris DeMorroElectric vehicles are really starting to come into their own, and long-standing records for range and performance are starting to fall. Yesterday Drayson Racing took down a 39-year old record for electric vehicle top speed in the standing mile, blowing past the previous record of 175 mph and crossing the 200 mph mark, a huge step for electric vehicles the world over.England's Lord Dray ...