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Commuting by Bicycle: Good or Bad?

By mdabaningay in Culture
Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:08:14 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

This is an essay about the pros and cons of cycling as a form of commuting from the point of view of society in general, it also includes a short HOWTO on commuting by bicycle at the end. I originally started out by writing a diary rant on commuting by bike including vitriol on bus drivers and other cyclists and a final section on how things could be made better.


Why Cycling is Bad

I can find very little to support this assertion, save for rants by tabloid columnists like this article on cycling by Tony Parsons of the Mirror, so I'm going to do my best to propose some good arguments. The article by Tony Parsons gives some good starting points, but I particularly like the anecdotal evidence about the danger to bus drivers' genitalia from cyclists at the end of the article.

The first issue is the problems which cyclists cause for motorists, even the most considerate cyclist is going to cause traffic problems simply by forcing vehicles to overtake or wait patiently behind them. Vehicles waiting patiently will cause congestion and vehicles overtaking risk having accidents. If a cyclist starts behaving erratically or starts disobeying the rules of the road then they stand even more chance of causing an accident or holding up traffic.

Once a cyclist has caused an accident the motorist has very little comeback even if they can prove that the cyclist was directly responsible, few cyclists have even third party insurance hence as a motorist you will have to hope that a rich cyclist causes your accident. Not only does it cost the motorist money, but if the cyclist is involved in an accident then it costs the health care system or insurance system money to treat the cyclist.

Cycling is one of the most dangerous forms of transport in terms of fatalities per 100 million passenger hours:

Motorcycling : 342
Cycling : 64
Walking : 27
Air : 20
Car : 12.4
Rail : 6.0
Bus/Coach : 1.4

These figures come from [1], there are also figures based on passenger miles but either set show that cycling is pretty dangerous compared to four (or more) wheeled motorised transport.

So cycling is bad because it causes congestion and costs motorists, insurers and health care systems money when cyclists have accidents. Following this logic cycling should be banned except on cycle only areas.

Why Cycling is Good

There is a lot more evidence to support this assertion, this does not mean it is correct, it may simply mean that those people who produce the statistics and commission the reports want the assertion to be true.

Environmental benefits are worth considering, cycling is an extremely resource efficient method of transport [2], bicycles take less resources to manufacture and consume far less resources getting from A to B. Bicycles also take up less space on the road than singly occupied motor vehicles. In fact according to [3], a singly occupied motor vehicle uses 1860 calories of energy per mile, compared to 35 calories by bike.

Cycling has health benefits for the cyclist, regular exercise is highly recommended by all health professionals for preventing a myriad of ills, despite increasing your risk of injury.

Mayer Hillman of the British Medical Association has estimated that the total health benefit of cycling is twenty times the risk.

This quote taken from [4], is confirmed by other studies into the issue.

Integrating Cyclists into the Traffic

There are two principle schools of thought in cycling safety, the populist view is that cyclists should be segregated from traffic as much as possible. There are two major problems with this idea, firstly you would need a massive network of cycle paths so that any given commuter can get from home to work otherwise part of the journey has to be done on road. Secondly, cycle paths get used by non-cycle traffic; a regular commuter will be doing 15-30 MPH, getting stuck behind a horse, invalid carriage, pedestrian, child on a bike, parked vehicle or skateboarder would be a major problem if it happened regularly. Ideally, the cycle paths would be exclusively for cycles, unfortunately in practice other things and people use them (this is certainly the case in the UK).

The alternative is called 'vehicular cycling' pioneered in the US by John Forester and in the UK by John Franklin (of Cyclecraft fame), this is the principle that, according to Forestor, 'Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles'. Simply you ride as if you were driving a slow, narrow vehicle, obeying the traffic rules, giving proper signals and expecting other drivers to treat you as such. In practice this appears to work well. Statistics taken from [4] show that of the various groups of adult cyclists monitored the safest groups (in terms of accidents per million miles) were those that were likely to have undergone this type of training. Ordinary college-associated adults had about 500 accidents per million miles where as American League of Cyclists and Cycle Touring Club of England members had only 113 and 66 accidents per million miles respectively.

Conclusions

The only conclusion I can come to is that; yes, cycling is dangerous and can hold up motorists but it is a very resource efficient method of transport and a good way to improve your fitness, and lifespan. If we could make highly efficient motorised transport and had work schedules which were conducive to regular exercise then cycling would not be a good idea, unfortunately we do not live in a world where that is the case. So should you ditch your current mode of transport and start commuting by bike?

HOW-TO start cycle commuting

If your journey to work is just beyond sensible walking distance and in a city center then this sort of commute is ideal for cycling (or some other self propelled wheeled vehicle). You will save money over motorised transport, it will be quicker and you may even get fitter and/or slimmer. If it is within sensible walking distance then the hassle of having to lock your bike up and getting wetter and dirtier than walking may reduce the benefit.

If your journey is of any significant distance then cycling takes real determination, I do 20 miles per day as a commute and if it was not for the fact that it is giving me good exercise and reducing my weight (significantly) then I might not bother. I might not bother because logic tells me that getting the train/bus would be almost as environmentally friendly and taking the car would be as cheap (if not cheaper!)

Other problems are cargo capacity, which can be increased by the use of a good rucksack and showering/changing facilities at work, in fact I have to use the local gym (thanks to RyoCokey for those.)

But if you do want to do a decent length commute by bike then here are my top tips:

DO us appropriate protective equipment; helmet, reflective strips and lights.

DO drink lots of water during the day, particularly important if it was cold or raining on your way in to work, because you will not realise how much water you lost.

DO cycle safely, learn to ride a bike confidently away from traffic and get some formal training for vehicles in traffic. I would suggest either a cycle specific course or some advanced driving lessons, in the UK there is the Institute of Advance Motorists or in the US there is Defensive Driver (I do not have first hand knowledge of this course).

DO NOT plan on doing it everyday, make sure you know what the alternative is because there will be days (particularly when you first start) that your body tells you it does not want to cycle.

DO keep your bike in good repair, you should not need a really flashy bike but you should make sure it is reliable and that you replace things before they fail catastrophically. Breaking down half way between work and home is not fun (take my word for it).

DO get some road tires, if you are used to big fat tires then the ride will seem rough at first but you will soon learn to avoid pot holes and the speed difference is massive.

DO carry two (or more) spare inner tubes, because you may get a puncture in the dark/wet making it difficult to find what caused it hence instantly puncturing the new tube. Three punctures in one day is my current record!

Finally DO wear comfortable clothing, personally I like lycra bib shorts and a cycling jersey since they are cool and allow great freedom of movement, the downside is that I look like a complete idiot. Jeans are very bad due to the inner thigh seams (ouch!)

Having said all this and given dire warnings about how dangerous, frustrating and hard work cycle commuting is, I still do it; yes, it keeps me fit and slim (ish) but I think more than that it gives me a genuine sense of achievement everyday and by the time I get home I've forgotten all about the stresses of the working day.

References

[1] report on analysis of risk in travel (PDF)

[2] US Department of Transport Report (PDF)

[3] BicyclingLife.com

[4] Is Cycling Dangerous?

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Poll
Is Cycle Commuting a Good Thing?
o Yes 94%
o No 5%

Votes: 107
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o diary rant
o article on cycling by Tony Parsons of the Mirror
o [1]
o [2]
o [3]
o [4]
o John Forester
o Cyclecraft
o RyoCokey
o Institute of Advance Motorists
o Defensive Driver
o [1] report on analysis of risk in travel (PDF)
o [2] US Department of Transport Report (PDF)
o [3] BicyclingLife.com
o [4] Is Cycling Dangerous?
o Also by mdabaningay


Display: Sort:
Commuting by Bicycle: Good or Bad? | 470 comments (448 topical, 22 editorial, 2 hidden)
two points you might like to mention (3.16 / 6) (#1)
by I am the atom on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:01:06 AM EST

  1. cycling would not be dangerous at all if there was less motor traffic on the roads (or the cycle paths were completely seperate from the main roads).
  2. the environment: pollution from cars is clearly bad for society, and the fossil fuel reserves won't be around for all that long if we keep using petrol engines to ferry a single person, along with a tonne or so of metal, to and from the same place every day.


Your comments. (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by mdabaningay on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:08:15 AM EST

1. I did touch on seperate completely cycle paths for cyclists, and said it was a bad idea. I might add something about less traffic though.

2. I did say that bicycles used signifcantly less resources (twice), but did not want to get in to a debate about pollution/global warming etc. I've just assumed that using less resources is a GOOD thing.

I think pollution is a different issue, global warming is still (to an extent) up for debate, and some vehicles produce almost no ground level pollution (Saabs, electric vehicles etc.)

[ Parent ]

reply (3.00 / 1) (#64)
by I am the atom on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:25:26 PM EST

Sorry, I missed the bit about seperate cycle paths.  I don't think it's a bad idea myself, when it's practical.  Here in Linköping, Sweden, you very rarely have to interact with motor traffic when cycling, and as a result it is much safer and more pleasant than in the UK, and so most people do it, leaving less traffic on the roads.

Global warming is not up for debate in any meaningful sense -- but I can see why you'd want to stay out of the argument.

Saabs still run on petrol and so still produce carbon monoxide, nanoparticles and all the other health hazards.  There aren't all that many electric cars on the roads, but they are much lighter and move slower, so I guess they would be less of a danger to cyclists as well as being cleaner.


[ Parent ]

Separate cycle paths... (3.00 / 1) (#263)
by driptray on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:39:50 PM EST

..work for some kinds of travel, but not others. If you need to travel at higher speeds, then cycle paths are usually not appropriate. For places like Australia and the US, where distances are great and there is no established cycle path infrastructure, the roads are the best way for cyclists to travel. I've never seen a cycle path that was good for travelling at 30kmh.

In parts of Europe, higher population densities and smaller cities make slow-speed riding (<15kmh) a viable way to get around, and bike paths suit this style of riding well. <p>The worst thing is bike lanes on roads. They are more dangerous than nothing, as they complicate behaviour at intersections, and it is intersections that are the most dangerous place for bikes (and cars).
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

agreed (3.00 / 1) (#336)
by I am the atom on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:16:43 AM EST

I tend to use public transport for larger distances, so I don't often have to cycle them.  I tend to live close to where I need to be every day, because I don't own a car (and don't want one).  You could probably get away with it around here, but this is a pretty exceptional place (someone said it got an award for being the most cycle-friendly place in Europe or something).

Cycle lanes on roads are pretty bad, generally - riding around York (England) was a nightmare as it has them everywhere.


[ Parent ]

Safety and statistics (4.00 / 2) (#141)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:04:39 PM EST

... seperate completely cycle paths for cyclists, and said it was a bad idea.
I agree completely with this. A reasonably fit adult can easily keep up with traffic in an urban area. In a suburban area the streets are wide enough that automobiles are not impeded by bicycles. The "separate but equal" has the problem that it becomes more like a playground, with families of four weaving around gently. This is no place for a commuter going around 18 mph (30 kph). (My experience is with the western US only.)

About the safety statistics, at least in the US, it is hard to get good numbers for bicycle accidents since children on residential streets get lumped in with adult cyclists on arterials. Also, fatalities per hour is not a good metric; when commuting you want to get somewhere, not ride for a certain time; per mile would be a better indicator. Instead of fatalities I think injury requiring a hospital visit is probably more indicative of risk.

My experience (completely anecdotal!) over the last fourteen years seems to suggest that bicycle commuting has about two to three times the accident rate of driving, and of course injuries are more serious. This analysis also hides "collateral damage" i.e. health problems caused by increased pollution levels, as well as "lethality" -- if I make a mistake while driving a car, I'm more likely to cause serious injury that if I'm cycling or walking.

I think we can discuss safety matters about cycling in general terms, but we don't have meaningful statistics to back up our feelings.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Oil is not a fossil fuel (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by Fon2d2 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:09:29 AM EST

Nor is it a nonrenewable energy source.

[ Parent ]
Unproven conjecture. (2.00 / 1) (#25)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:27:54 AM EST

It's an interesting idea, but it hasn't been proven.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

so what? (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by krkrbt on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:33:40 AM EST

It's an interesting idea, but it hasn't been proven.

So what if it hasn't been proven?  Even things that haven't been proven can be useful, and can warrant further exploration.  History is repleat with "scientists" who cried "impossible", only to have the world pass them by in the years to come.  (the Telephone & X-Rays are two inventions that immediately come to my mind, but there are many others too)


[ Parent ]

So what if it hasn't been proven?!? (3.50 / 2) (#55)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:58:59 AM EST

Good grief.

So, what happens if we all go out and burn oil like mad and then discover, whoops! It was non-renewable after all?

Put down the crack pipe. No one said that we shouldn't research the idea that oil comes from deep in the mantle rather than from biological decay. I SAID IT WASN'T PROVEN. There's a difference.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Another thing (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by rusty on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:49:53 PM EST

Even if we do turn out to have limitless supplies of oil, burning it still dumps  carbon and greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere like crazy. I would guess that limitless oil would actually be a much worse disaster than running out of oil.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
true (4.00 / 2) (#76)
by Shren on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:54:25 PM EST

We have a similar situation with stupidity. Just when you think the stupidity has run out, it turns out that there's a new supply of stupidity. We'll have to face up that stupidity is self-renewing.

[ Parent ]
Thomas Gold again (3.50 / 2) (#127)
by ethereal on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:23:38 PM EST

It would be scary to think that there's a deep reservoir of stupidity under the Earth's crust that we haven't yet begun to tap, though :)

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Is there an event horizon for stupidity? (3.50 / 2) (#187)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:39:32 PM EST

A vortex of stupidity so powerful that nothing intelligent can escape?


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Angrydot? ;) [n/t] (1.00 / 1) (#217)
by RyoCokey on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:30:24 PM EST



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
[ Parent ]
Hmmmmm... (1.00 / 1) (#228)
by terpy on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:46:00 PM EST

Congress?

The Attorney Generals office?

---
why if I were a salesgirl, I'd give you a blowjob -Q
Just what shall I put in my butt tonight? -Joh3n
I don't intend to drink my m
[ Parent ]

ahh, my favorite leap to a conclusion (3.00 / 1) (#78)
by Shren on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:06:11 PM EST

Certain groups tend to love to extrapolate that particular theory into a justification of a specific way of life. It's charming in a predictable sort of way.

Suppose there is a deep, hot biosphere.

So? We haven't encountered an immortal biosphere yet. The ocean biosphere is in danger from overfishing of menhaden and other fish. How much danger? Who knows. But it would be possible to destroy the ocean biosphere if we really wanted to - with nukes, say. There is a level of devistation that biospheres don't recover quickly from - what it takes to get there is certainly an open area of research.

If there is a deep, hot biosphere, then who is to say that it's not dying already? We are sucking out an awful lot of it. If we were to drain all of the existing oil, it could have the same effect on the deep hot biosphere as, oh, draining all the water would have on a lake.

It's an interesting theory. It deserves investigation. Jumping from it to "we'll never run out of oil" is just pretending that the universe works the way your philosophy requires that it does.

[ Parent ]

There is, kind of (4.00 / 1) (#81)
by RyoCokey on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:17:17 PM EST

There are bacteria that live in oil, under the surface. They are sometimes used to break down large molecules to increase oil production (PDF.) I dunno whether you'd consider them an ecosystem, as it's only on a bacterial level.

However, it's worth noting that oil reservoirs are never emptied, merely reduced to a non-economic pressure. Therefore, tapping an oil trap doesn't necessarily mean extinction of the organisms living there.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
[ Parent ]
I agree (3.00 / 1) (#84)
by Shren on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:21:56 PM EST

I agree that it's unlikely, with current drilling methods, that we will ever endanger the deep biosphere. I'm not attacking the theory, I'm just noting that, in saying "we'll never run out of oil", it seems that we're stretching the theory beyond the author's intent. He didn't make open-ended unprovable statements, and neither should we.

[ Parent ]
An interesting guy, but out of his field (3.00 / 1) (#91)
by RyoCokey on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:31:50 PM EST

He's a physicist, not a geologist. I tend to go with the traditional view, that oil flows from source rocks. The wells I'm working with currently produce oil and gas directly, from the coal (I work at an Oil & Gas company) so we can be pretty sure those deposits aren't migrating from the mantle.

Many old oil formations are refilling, mainly because the oil has continued to migrate from the source rock into the trap, which is no longer being drained, allowing oil to build up. I don't believe it's at what would be considered a sustainable rate though.

Even if his theory is true, we've yet to even get a drill bit half way to the mantle, much less draw up usable hydrocarbons from there. As always with the oil industry, it's less a matter of "Do we have oil?" than "Are you willing to pay $50/gal for it?"



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
[ Parent ]
roads are for cars (4.00 / 5) (#142)
by asv108 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:10:51 PM EST

1. cycling would not be dangerous at all if there was less motor traffic on the roads

That would be like saying, "Driving cars on cycling paths would be safer if there was less bike traffic."

[ Parent ]

Tarmac (2.00 / 1) (#419)
by rdskutter on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:36:45 AM EST

Tarmac roads were originally designed for cycilsts. We do have roads that are officially reserverd for fast moving motor vehicles and nothing else. They are called motorways.

Roads are for horses, cyclists, cars, lorries, SUV's andwalkers etc.


If you're a jock, inflict some pain / If you're a nerd then use your brain - DAPHNE AND CELESTE
[ Parent ]

No, roads are for vehicles (none / 0) (#430)
by M0dUluS on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 07:27:25 PM EST

And bicycles are vehicles under most laws of most States and most countries.

Being allowed to drive an automobile or a bicycle is a privlege granted by society.

As long as the current laws hold bicycles are granted that privelege and all the rights, duties and obligations that other vehicles have.

As a car driver you should feel grateful that you are allowed to sit upon your plump bottom polluting the air, getting in the way of cyclists, killing small children and furry animals (how many family pets are you monster motorists responsible for destroying?). You should feel grateful that you are allowed to putter about in your un-manly fundamentally effiminate mode of transport.

"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]
I cycle to work (4.40 / 5) (#3)
by maynard on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:07:34 AM EST

I live a bit over a mile from my office, so on bad weather days it's close enough to walk or take the T (public transportation). I love it. The bike ride is only about ten minutes or so, it's close enough to bike home for luch, and I get a small amount of exercise during my commute. That said, I think you'll find that most US citizens live too far from their employers to bike in. Worse, most roads, especially the highways, aren't appropriate to mix auto and bicycle traffic. We would need to change traffic laws and create special bicycle lanes, which there doesn't seem to be demand for. City dwellers can take advantage of population and business density, which gives cycling a real advantage over the auto. In fact, it's far faster for me to bike into work than to drive, just because of traffic. But for those living in suburban and rural communities, the bicycle isn't really a transportation option.

PS - When you pull this out of the edit queue I'll definitely vote it up.

Cheers,
--Maynard



Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

Cycling confidence (3.66 / 3) (#8)
by ffrinch on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:13:11 AM EST

I don't know that increased confidence is necessarily a good thing.

How does that saying go?
"Confident, cocky, lazy, dead."

I've been commuting for about a year now, (though I don't have that far to ride, only a few kilometres) and I'm definitely not that confident in traffic. I ride on suburban roads since the surface is better and there isn't much traffic, but in the inner city I avoid them as much as possible. Knowing that a tiny mistake by a driver could hurt me very, very much at any moment isn't the nicest feeling, so I try to stick to cycle paths.

(Though, in my case, my most travelled route uses a path that is more direct than the roads anyway, so it isn't an issue for me like it is for others.)

My point about confidence is that I've never had an accident with a car, and I don't expect I ever will. I'm very careful.

My extremely confident friend on the other hand (been cycling for years, spends thousands of dollars on his bike, that sort of person) acts as he is legally entitled. He rides extremely fast down busy roads, as though he were a car. He's also been run off the road, been hit by cars,  and had his bike totalled - many, many times.

If he had a bit less confidence, and been a bit more careful, the accidents could most likely have been avoided.

-◊-
"I learned the hard way that rock music ... is a powerful demonic force controlled by Satan." — Jack Chick

Confidence (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by mdabaningay on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:18:21 AM EST

I really meant confidence in terms of handling a bike regardless of traffic conditions i.e. not wobbling, being able to look over your shoulder without veering, being able to avoid pot holes etc.

But you are right, cockiness in traffic is extremely dangerous, whether you are on bike, driving a motorised vehicle or just crossing the road.

[ Parent ]

confidence (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by turmeric on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:18:08 PM EST

confidence can help you in certain situations, especially at corners, intersections, that sort of thing, for what drivers want most is predictability and consistency..... when you start waving back and forth to each other trying to figure out who is supposed to go next that leads to confusion and possibly dangerous situations where attention is diverted and wrecks happen.... lack of confidence leads bicyclists to do things like weave in and out of sidewalks and back onto the road, or to get into a confused 'frazzled' psychological state when they are interacting with cars, for example, at an intersection... which can lead to accidents as frazzled people tend to behave unpredictable and/or temporarlily lose their capacity for good judgement.

if the bicyclist knows where they are supposed to be and shows confidence about moving there, then the drivers 'pick up' on this, and show them the due respect more often than not, and everyone can get along predictably and know where each other belongs, and they get along well, no wrecks etc.

cockiness and confidence, there can be a fine line and it can be easy to confuse them.... it can lead one away from defensive bicycling and toward things like expecting car drivers to do what they are supposed to do (yield, stop at stopsigns, etc).... so you pull out in front of the car who is spposed to yield, they dont yield, and then they nearly wreck, and get pissed off at you. this is one danger of cockiness. another is the 'im a bicyclist so im superior' attitude that leads so many bicyclists to run stopsigns, go up oneway streets the wrong way, run over pedestrians, etc.

[ Parent ]

It's a fine line (4.33 / 3) (#150)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:32:16 PM EST

I used to race (bicycles, road). We had a saying about descending: "anyone slower than me is bad; anyone faster than me is an idiot."

My extremely confident friend on the other hand ... acts as he is legally entitled. He rides extremely fast down busy roads, as though he were a car.
This is the only way to survive. After all, he is legally entitled. On a busy road, "extremely fast" (actually it probably isn't that fast) is the only safe way to ride -- the cyclist riding at the same speed as the cars will be safest. And if you're commuting, other people want to go where you're going, and most people drive; this means that most of the time, the busy road is the one that will take you where you want to go.
He's also been run off the road, been hit by cars, and had his bike totalled - many, many times. ... If he had a bit less confidence, and been a bit more careful, the accidents could most likely have been avoided.
This is a complete non sequitur. The first sentence may well be true -- anyone who rides on the streets will have had his or her fair share of run-ins with motorists, just as the more you drive, the more likely you are to be in an accident. Prudence and caution have nothing to do with this. The second statement of yours is utter crap. You say you've been commuting for a year, and stay away from busy streets and ride on cycle paths. You do not have the experience to make this judgement of his riding.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Actually... (4.33 / 3) (#296)
by ffrinch on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:15:56 AM EST

I used him as an example since, in my opinion, he is one of the cyclists who gives others a bad name.

He is not a responsible cyclist - the last accident he had was rode straight into a taxi he "expected to move out of the way", for instance. In his case (I appreciate that in most cases this isn't so) less confidence would have saved him a lot of trouble. (You'll have to trust me on that. I've heard about every one of his accidents - and it says something that even in his version of events they sound like his fault.)

And as a note: I've been commuting for just over a year, yes, but I do have need to cycle other places as well, and have been doing so for much longer. I'm perfectly happy to ride in traffic, and do so whenever it's needed. Wherever possible though, I'd rather avoid the danger (it is more dangerous, you can't deny that). The cycle paths around here are quite good anyway - and I get a scenic route around the lake instead of exhaust in my face. :) Don't presume to judge experience based on one hurried post in an online forum.

-◊-
"I learned the hard way that rock music ... is a powerful demonic force controlled by Satan." — Jack Chick
[ Parent ]

Fair Enough (3.00 / 1) (#400)
by phliar on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:47:40 PM EST

Since I know neither you nor your friend, I certainly can't judge who's an idiot and who's not! I will freely admit that I get a little hot under the collar when someone accuses me (directly or indirectly) of doing something "dangerous" where I think I've evaluated the risk and deemed it acceptable. (I don't like the word "dangerous" -- hell, life is dangerous since we're all going to die anyway. There are only varying levels of risk.)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Speed vs. car speed (4.50 / 2) (#343)
by DodgyGeezer on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:56:52 AM EST

Either cycle a lot slower than the traffic, or at the same speed or faster.  Note however that faster can very dangerous a lot of motorists don't expect you and don't check their mirrors/blind spot before manoeuvring, especially in stop-go traffic.

If you're much slower than the traffic, it's fairly easy for motorists to pass you.  They don't have to deviate from their course for too long.  If you're at the same speed, obviously they don't have to pass at all.  However, if you're going fast, but slightly slower than the traffic, issues can arise.  This is when motorists start hesitating and being unsure of themselves.  Is the cyclist going fast enough that I shouldn't or don't need to pass?  Or slow enough that I really do want to get by?  And the number of drivers who think are you are going slow enough and so try and squeeze by and then make immidiate turn in front of you is quite scary.

As a cyclist, I think you need to be confident enough to express your presence on the road.  I think it's safer to stick out from the curb a little.  This forces drivers to think about what they're doing, rather than trying to squeeze by.  Making motorists pause and think helps counter the danger that I mentioned when the cyclists is going slightly slower than the traffic.  It could very well piss them off a bit, but if you're rightfully obeying the laws of the road, then they will end up dealing with you like any other slow moving vehicle (e.g. tractor).  Also consider that if you're further away from the edge, cars coming from the other direction are more likely to spot you and so less likely make a turn across your path.  Finally, going too fast close to the edge also increases the danger from parked cars whose doors might open in to your path.

[ Parent ]

Speed differences (3.00 / 1) (#401)
by phliar on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:59:59 PM EST

I'd say that speed differences are not critical but I don't like them to be more than 15 mph.
I think it's safer to stick out from the curb a little. This forces drivers to think about what they're doing, rather than trying to squeeze by.
If the lane is wide enough, I ride just to the right of the travel lane -- in other words, the cars will miss me by a couple of feet. I don't ride as far to the right as possible. A good indicator is where the dust and debris begin. As cars drive, they sweep the dust off the roads towards the edges where the cars won't go. The edge of the clear region is a good place to ride.

This is one reason I don't like bike lanes -- the addition of that painted line means cars never drive on that part of the road, so all kinds of crap -- steel wires from car tyres, broken glass, dead animals -- ends up there.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#420)
by rdskutter on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:53:07 AM EST

If it's not safe for a motorist to pass then pull out from the kerb so that he can't get past until it is safe.

If he does try to pass where you know it's not safe then you're the one that will end up in hospital, not him.


If you're a jock, inflict some pain / If you're a nerd then use your brain - DAPHNE AND CELESTE
[ Parent ]

I bike to work/campus (4.00 / 2) (#16)
by jeffy124 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:58:59 AM EST

I ride my bike to work/campus, it's about 14 blocks, but in the city.

Philadelphia has a abundant number of bicycle lanes on the streets, so biking in the street makes it easy as many of the sidewalks still use brick from over 200 years ago, or the concrete is uneven thanks to tree roots coming up from underneath.

One still needs to keep eyes peeled, some SEPTA buses (the local public transit) have a habit of pulling into that 3-ft wide lane to make stops, without always watching for bikers.  It's a complaint I've sent to them twice.

Another danger are people turning.  If you approach an intersection where the right lane is a turn lane, not everyone is gonna have their signal on.  As a result, more than one person has received scratches on their cars from my handlebars as they make the turn with me partially in the way.  Had the turn signal been on, I would have given that car space.

I agree with the author on drinking lots of liquids   during the day, and knowing the alternate route in case of problems.  For me, it's taking the bus or walking in bad and/or very hot weather.  One item I dont see mentioned (I may have missed it) is to wear a helmet.

Riding the bike in the city can also be good stress relief.  In my case, Philadelphia's Chestnut St is one way, and from about 18th to 5th Sts (the big city commercial district), the right lane is reserved for bikes and buses, and there are no right turns permitted either.  Naturally, normal drivers use the lane.  The stress relief comes in by planting yourself in the middle of this lane and going slow, getting the person all pissed off behind you.  Just give buses their space.
--
You're the straw that broke the camel's back!

Philly biking (3.00 / 1) (#151)
by TheBeardedScorpion on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:33:01 PM EST

In my case, Philadelphia's Chestnut St is one way, and from about 18th to 5th Sts (the big city commercial district), the right lane is reserved for bikes and buses, and there are no right turns permitted either.

The thing that pisses me off about Philly is that a lot of people don't even know that the right lane is reserved for bikes. My friend was driving me (in his big ass car) to Penn's Landing from West Philly the other day, and we were on Chestnut Street, and he started driving in the bike lane. A bicyclist was in front of us in the middle of the right lane (ie: the BIKE lane), and he said, "Damn, I hate these bicyclists who think they own the road."

Another place I hate is on Market Street as you pass 38th Street going west. The right lane is a turn lane, on the east side of 38th, and a bike lane on the west side. I don't know how many times people have tried to run me over while they were driving in the little bike lane that can't be more than 3 feet wide. One person had the nerve to yell at me for getting in their way!

[ Parent ]
i know what you mean (2.00 / 2) (#189)
by jeffy124 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:40:28 PM EST

I go to drexel, (market st between 31st and 34th and adjoining blocks) and that happens often to me, too.  If there's no car parked close to the intersection to the west of 38th, I use the crosswalk and wait until there's room.  For where I live though, I typically use Spruce St and their freshly painted bike lanes.

Police never enforce that kind of stuff though.  Driving in the right lane on chestnut, trying to use a 3-ft bike lane, not turning where right lane must turn, etc.  It's just not a priority for them.  Of course, with LiveStop, they might be going after people more often now, as my g/f got stopped (but not ticketed) for doing a "rolling stop" from Lancaster onto 34th.  All the cop did was check her info and let her go on her way.

If you guys were driving last Wednesday around 5pm, that may have been me ;-)
--
You're the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

You go to Drexel? [OT] (2.00 / 1) (#199)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:53:10 PM EST

Nice. I used to bike commute from there to Newtown Square when I was co-oping at Arco Chemical.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Drexel Biking (2.00 / 1) (#240)
by TheBeardedScorpion on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:40:13 PM EST

Speaking of Drexel (which I also go to), I think a someone got hit by a car a while ago while they were biking on the SIDEWALK inbetween Korman and MacAlister. This really says something Philadelphians driving skills!

I have lived in few different places in the US, and I think Philadelphia has the WORST drivers.

[ Parent ]
I've run into that (not literally) (3.00 / 1) (#245)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:48:34 PM EST

But I've seen drivers so oblivious they turn into a driveway without ever checking to see if the sidewalk is clear.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Sidewalk = danger (4.00 / 2) (#266)
by driptray on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:54:14 PM EST

All bicycle accident statistics show that riding on the sidewalk is far more dangerous than riding on the road. Motorists look for things on the road, but they don't look for fast-moving things on the sidewalk. This means that every driveway and every intersection is more dangerous on the sidewalk than on the road. And remember that it is intersections that cause the vast majority of collisions, not overtaking drivers.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

wouldnt it be great... (2.66 / 3) (#282)
by jeffy124 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:41:30 PM EST

.... if it were by a Drexel maintenance van?

City drivers are the worst by far, probably because of low enforcement, road rage, etc., and unfortunately Philly is the only _real_ city experience I have.  Baltimore isnt all that bad near the inner harbor and Camden Yards, even as baseball crowds leave the area.  Leaving Camden Yards is a LOT different than leaving the Vet.

In general however, I tend to think the Baltimore/Washington region is the worst, which is where I did my first two co-ops.  People consistently  drive like nuts on two lane back roads on Sunday mornings around there!
--
You're the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Bike lanes = bad (5.00 / 2) (#265)
by driptray on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:50:32 PM EST

You've just explained why bike lanes are more dangerous than no bike lanes.

Assuming driving on the right (as in the US), a bike lane complicates right-turns for cars, and left-turns for bikes.

With all the cycling-awareness in the world, if a car is turning right, and there is bike lane between him and the right kerb, there are going to be accidents. It's even worse when there is a bike lane between a right-turn only lane and the kerb.

As for bikes turning left - how can you do this from the bike lane? The safest way to turn left is to get in the left lane and do it the way that cars do it - but if you're stuck in a bike lane you can't do this, and if you do, you face motorists who resent you 'cos you are now in the "car" lanes and not where you belong.

I consider the whole road to be a bike lane. It's safer this way, and more consistent with general road rules and behaviour.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

Hook turns (3.00 / 1) (#267)
by gsl on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:05:21 PM EST

In Australia (or at least, Victoria, where I live) it's legal for a cyclist to do a hook turn at any intersection. In the US this would mean a cyclist could stop at the extreme right of the road and turn left when clear to do so. This applies to controlled and uncontrolled crossroads as well as T-intersections. It works for me when the situation calls for it.

Geoff.
--
NP: IQ - The Seventh House [The Seventh House]



[ Parent ]
Hook turns (3.00 / 1) (#283)
by driptray on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:43:48 PM EST

Yeah, hook turns are useful in cirumstances where getting in the right lane (for an Australian) is difficult. But I wouldn't advocate them in general, as they're slow!
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

what i do... (3.00 / 3) (#286)
by jeffy124 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:56:58 PM EST

once someone was making a right turn, into my bike lane.  As I approach intersections, I normally look for turn signals on the car to my immediate left, and/or look back at cars comming toward me, and give appropriate space as necessary.  But once someone didnt have their signal on, and they got a nice 5-inch scratch on the passenger side of the car behind the backseat door from my handlebars.  I think justice was served ;-)

As for making lefts, it's normally at traffic lights.  If the light is green upon my approach, proceed across and pulling into the crosswalk, stopping in front the stopped cross-traffic, and turning the bike to face the new direction.  Wait until light turns green for this road.  Or, if the the light is red upon approach, cross in front of the cars that were alongside me to the left corner.  Wait for green, then proceed in the crosswalk, turning left where appropriate.

Also, in most of Philly's heavier-traffic areas there are 3-ft wide lanes specifically for bikes.  (This lane also provides a nice buffer space for street-side parking, no cars knocking off mirrors)  In some cases (like chestnut in my example above), a full size lane is designated for buses and bikes, but only at certain times of day (like rush hour), which a lot of people completely ignore anyway.
--
You're the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Points (3.42 / 7) (#21)
by JChen on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:15:56 AM EST

Biking is only dangerous when amatuers attempt to be badass on the road and on the sidewalk. I've been biking for half my life now and the very few minor accidents I have gotten in are the ones where I behaved stupidly. Only when the cyclist decide to become a total fool do accidents happen. Here are some more points I've learned from biking for half my life:

1) Don't try to do stunts on the road. You'll get hit and die.

2) Don't swerve all around the road. You're still not cool.

3) Don't ride on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for pedestrains and young children with training wheels only.

4) In contrast to what the author's suggesting, don't carry spare tubes. Ever see those spare wheels on the back of SUV's which never gets used and is there for show? Same idea. You're riding around in the city, most likely riding short distances. In the unlikely event that you decide to be cheap and buy cheap tubes, then it's pretty much your own fault. He has also neglected to mention that you would have to carry something to blow the tubes up with. It's kind of hard to carry a bike pump or a can of highly flammable tube inflator. Basically, the effort is simply not worth the price.

5) Drivers are not out to get you. You're part of traffic and they will respect you if you know your hand signals and respect their space as well.

6) If you get tired, get off the road. Don't swerve around. If you need to drink from your bottle or grab something from your pack, same thing. Get off the road.

7) Know your equipment. If you're going to ride from home to school, which is a few blocks, don't buy a God-damn mountain bike! Sure it's showy. All the girls would go "wow, nice bike!" It's also much more likely to get stolen. Vice versa: if you plan on doing some trails every now and then, get a cross bike or a low end mountain bike unless you're serious about the trails. Also, don't get those real think racing bikes. They are designed to be aerodynamic, not exactly for your comfort. Don't start out on a Lance Armstrong 2002 Racing Edition when you're just interested in getting to the grocery store.

8) You don't need jerseys. Sure you'll look good, but seriously, why spend the money when a nice t-shirt and thick pants/shorts can do the same thing (so you don't get crotch burn).

9) And for God's sake, don't wear tube socks all the way up. You look like a fruit. Trust me on this one.

Let us do as we say.

Right. (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:24:26 AM EST

I've been hit twice while bike riding (as an adult). Both times it was the car driver at fault. Which hand signal should I have used when the last guy decided to side-swipe me and squeeze me against a parked car?


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

The Finger (nt) (4.00 / 3) (#35)
by Aneurin on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:02:54 AM EST


---
Just think: the entire Internet, running on jazz. -Canthros

[ Parent ]
this one's easy (3.50 / 2) (#230)
by irksome on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:48:26 PM EST

A fist, extended to the point where you can tap on his windows to remind him that you're there ... if this doesn't work, the same hand signal can also be applied to the guy's jaw after he hits you

(note: this is intended as humor, I am NOT responsible should you actually follow this advice)

-
I think I am, therefore I'm not.
[ Parent ]

Drivers may not be out to get you... (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by edremy on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:48:12 AM EST

but they are careless as hell, especially around bikes.

Hand signals aren't of much value when the driver simply doesn't see you. I've had two near accidents while bike commuting, both were the fault of drivers who simply paid no attention to me.

The first was a driver at a stop sign: I had the right of way, but she was too busy gabbing on her cell phone to even look before pulling out. The second passed me, then instantly made a right turn directly into my path. I was lucky both times: I was able to stop in time, but a half second earlier in each case and I would have seriously hurt.

Now the one serious accident I have had, well, that was my own damn fault. Object lesson: shadows look a lot like curb cuts at 1AM. :^)

[ Parent ]

Here's another one: (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by JChen on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:08:49 AM EST

10) Don't ride at dawn, dusk, and anytime in between.

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
Nighttime (3.00 / 1) (#163)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:52:15 PM EST

Don't ride at dawn, dusk, and anytime in between.
But this would mean that in the winter, I can only leave the house between 8 am and 4 pm!

If you ride at night, reflectors are not enough. Neither are those little LED flashers. Cars have 100W lighting systems for a good reason. My opinion is that you need at least 25W front. (I made a 60W front once -- unfortunately it melted the plastic enclosure I thought was "good enough"!)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Winter != riding, (3.00 / 1) (#186)
by JChen on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:38:55 PM EST

unless you enjoy your fingers fall off and severely restricted movement. Not to mention snow, ice, and everything in between.

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
Batteries (none / 0) (#441)
by M0dUluS on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 11:05:27 AM EST

I've owned several lighting systems over the years and always thought that I was being ripped off big time in the price. My current is an oldish BLT 15W with a 2 lb. lead/acid battery.

I've looked a couple of times to see if there was any chance of buying one of these batteries myself and found some spec sheets from the manufacturer but was unable to find anyone that would sell me one.

Did you figure out a way to buy a decent battery at a reduced price or were you using components you already had?



"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]
Yep. (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by MKalus on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:57:06 AM EST

I had that a couple of times as well, I consider those incidents a short "sprint" workout.... I usually catch up with the driver and give them an earful.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]
Quibbles (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by czth on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:58:25 AM EST

1-3 are absolutely true... but then you'd deserve to lose if you didn't know this already. There's a lot of ignorance about #3 - not riding on sidewalks - from both drivers and cyclists (e.g.: I was biking a few weeks ago near my apartment, and some redneck yahoo [this is a Tennessee, just outside Memphis] kid in a truck yells out "SIDEWALK!" at me... never mind that even if I did want to ride on it, which I didn't, it ran out in about 30').

But I have a few quibbles with some of your other points.

4) In contrast to what the author's suggesting, don't carry spare tubes. Ever see those spare wheels on the back of SUV's which never gets used and is there for show? Same idea. You're riding around in the city, most likely riding short distances.

How do you know what distances he's riding (20 miles sounds like a decent morning ride to me) or if he's in cities for the whole of it or even most of it? Or, if, when he rides back from work, stores are still open or a bike shop is even nearby? When I bike far enough from home (far enough to carry a backpack), I take a small patch kit and small pump (about 8") with me, sometimes chain lube too.

5) Drivers are not out to get you.

I'll have you know a cyclist is worth 150 points, 200 if they're wearing a helmet. Or, "have you ever ridden in a big city?" "At night?"

6) ... If you need to drink from your bottle or grab something from your pack, same thing. Get off the road.

Pack, yes. Bottle, no. A water bottle is usually in an accessible spot so that you can grab it while riding, if you're riding straight and in an area that isn't too busy.

The rest of the points are mostly fashion, and biking is about exercise and fun, not showing off; if people want to pose, they've picked the wrong sport.

czth

[ Parent ]

Correct (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by JChen on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:14:48 AM EST

4) It also depends on how much your travelling. I don't usually carry tubes if it's under 20 miles and in the city, but then again I'm a light traveller who likes to keep everything to a minimum, kind of like those Safe Auto commercials.

6) It's more of a personal preference of mine; much like the driver with the cell phone, you'll be distracted and will only have one hand on the handle. Use your best judgement on this one and keep calm if something unexpected happens.

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]

<G> (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by MKalus on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:55:26 AM EST

>>if people want to pose, they've picked the wrong sport. <<

Okay, that's funny.

I think there are a lot of people out there who buy a 5000 Dollar Road Bike and then get dropped the first time a group of Roadies rides by.

I think a huge problem for the outsider is that they automatically assume that all bikes (and bikers) are equal, which they are not.

I just think about all the discussions about Roadies vs. Tri Geeks vs. Mountain Bikers.

BTW, you have posers everywhere, you know who is who when the hammer drops.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

you forgot one. (2.50 / 2) (#42)
by ucblockhead on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:31:51 AM EST

The most important one:

10) The big, red octangonal sign that says "Stop" means that you come to a complete stop, look both ways, and then proceed when you have right of way.

I've seen more riders than I can count come within inches of dying after ignoring.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Cyclists and Stop signs (4.00 / 2) (#166)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:06:20 PM EST

Without necessarily saying whether or not I come to a complete stop at a stop sign....

It used to irk me when motorists got all sanctimonious about cyclists and stop signs. Now I just ask: "Have you ever exceeded the speed limit? Did you exceed the speed limit on the freeway this morning?"

When I'm driving, I routinely exceed the speed limit. My point is that rather than slavish observation of a law, what we should worry about is: did that cyclist at the stop sign take the right of way when it wasn't his/hers and cause confusion or increase the risk?" Just as we should ask not what number your speedometer was pointing to, but if you were you driving at a speed appropriate for the conditions.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

California rolling stop (none / 0) (#456)
by adamsc on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 04:51:48 AM EST

I live in California - almost every treats a stop sign as a stricter yield and most people will be annoyed if someone actually does the stop-wait-look-both-ways-wait-go routine as per the DMV motorist handbook. There's no safety benefit in coming to a stop when you have excellent visibility of every side of the intersection.

[ Parent ]
Stop signs ... (4.00 / 2) (#171)
by waverleo on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:12:08 PM EST

... are primarily a North American traffic tool. Perhaps to compensate for the incompetence our drivers. Yes they are used in other countries, but yield signs are far more prevalent elsewhere.

As far as traffic reform goes, I think they should be changed to yield signs for cyclists. From a "systems" point of view, the cyclist has every motivation to not be stupid on the road, because the consequences are very real. On the other hand, a bit of stupidness in the car, esp at urban speeds, is relatively personally harmless.

Leo

[ Parent ]

Stupidity (3.50 / 2) (#176)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:22:22 PM EST

The auto driver is stupid because he thinks he's invulnerable. The cyclist is stupid because she thinks her manuverability will keep her safe. The pedestrian is stupid just because. All 3 end up in the ambulance.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Stop signs and clipless pedals (4.00 / 2) (#247)
by Bwah on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:50:46 PM EST

Heh. When I first started riding SPDs I hated stop signs with a passion. It's quite embarrasing to forget about the clips, pull up to a stop sign and go thump. Only happened once but I still remember that sick feeling of not being able to get out of the pedals ...

--
To redesign an infinite ensemble of universes: what terrible responsibility, what arrogance ... It sounds just like the type of thing your average Homo sap would do for a dare. -- Stephen Baxter
[ Parent ]

Did that this morning. (3.50 / 2) (#334)
by Gully Foyle on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:13:52 AM EST

New bike, unfamiliar gear change, uphill t junction, and my feet in the clips. Thump. That kind of thing always happens when there are attractive people looking at you.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Bah! Kids today!!! (3.00 / 1) (#405)
by phliar on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:20:58 AM EST

Clipless pedals? Luxury! When I started riding, we used quill pedals! With actual toe-straps! And cleated shoes that locked your feet in rigidly! You actually had to reach down with your hand and loosen the strap to get your foot out of the pedal! And we rode on track bikes! You had to get your foot in the clip the first time the pedal came around or you were screwed! And the second time it came around, reach down and tighten the strap! While sprinting from a traffic light!

That's why track-stands were invented.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Sounds like a knee trashing experience (none / 0) (#422)
by Bwah on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:50:55 AM EST

Rigid lock in??? Owww! Track stands however are very very cool. I saw someone on a road bike who could do that a while back ... and forgot all about it until just now. Usefull skill that I should try and learn.

--
To redesign an infinite ensemble of universes: what terrible responsibility, what arrogance ... It sounds just like the type of thing your average Homo sap would do for a dare. -- Stephen Baxter
[ Parent ]

No Spare Tubes? (3.00 / 3) (#46)
by ZahrGnosis on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:43:43 AM EST

As for point 4:
4) In contrast to what the author's suggesting, don't carry spare tubes. Ever see those spare wheels on the back of SUV's which never gets used and is there for show? Same idea. You're riding around in the city, most likely riding short distances. In the unlikely event that you decide to be cheap and buy cheap tubes, then it's pretty much your own fault. He has also neglected to mention that you would have to carry something to blow the tubes up with. It's kind of hard to carry a bike pump or a can of highly flammable tube inflator. Basically, the effort is simply not worth the price.
I see no reason not to carry a spare tube, or at the very least a patch kit. Personally I have a CO2 air pump that's extremely light, inexpensive, and works. I can't imagine what this point has to do with anything; having a spare tube couldn't possibly increase your risk level, unless you carry it on a five foot pole sticking sideways off of your handlebars. And if you're worried about the weight then you're probably taking longer, rather than shorter, trips which increases the need for the spare. You're right that you shouldn't buy "cheap" tubes if you're in a place where a flat could get you run over (not that you should buy them anyway), but no spares? That's just crazy talk.

[ Parent ]
Drivers and Bikes (4.50 / 4) (#74)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:50:21 PM EST

Most drivers may not be out to get you. Some are, though. There are people who believe bicycles should be banned from the road, and drive as if they were. I'm sitting opposite one, in fact. Such people are liable to try to squeese cyclists into as small a space as possible, because by and large they don't realise bicycles require space on either side at low speeds in order to stay balanced, and space in front and behind in order to stop.

Even drivers who try to drive properly with respect to bikes either don't see them, or don't really know how to respond. They get confused by cycle lanes on the left (right, for yanks), which mean you have to check left before turning left, and by cyclists on roundabouts (who are allowed to follow slightly different rules).

The best approach, when cycling on roads, is something like vehicular cycling. Don't pull in too far to the side of the road, because it means drivers don't see you and will be tempted to overtake when they shouldn't. If you pull to the front at junctions, which is sometimes allowed here, make sure you put your bike somewhere where the front driver can see you, and can't pull away until you do. Most importantly, maintain eye contact with drivers where possible. They may find your bike hard to see, but if they meet your eyes, they know you're there.

The best thing to do when driving is to treat bicycles as if they were cars. If you couldn't overtake a very slow car, don't overtake a bicycle either. It may be frustrating, but it is a lot safer for everyone.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

True enough (4.00 / 2) (#75)
by MKalus on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:53:59 PM EST

>> The best approach, when cycling on roads, is something like vehicular cycling. Don't pull in too far to the side of the road, because it means drivers don't see you and will be tempted to overtake when they shouldn't.<<

Most people always tell you to stay to the "right" or ride on the shoulder.

I only do this when the shoulder is wide enough or it is in town.

Out of town I tend to ride in the middle of the road. Why? Because IF they want to overtake me they have to go in the other lane, plus I am appearing right in field of vision, plus if they come close I still have enough space to veer to the side.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

Spare tubes (3.50 / 4) (#161)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:47:05 PM EST

I agree entirely with everything you write, except:
... don't carry spare tubes. Ever see those spare wheels on the back of SUV's which never gets used and is there for show? Same idea. You're riding around in the city, most likely riding short distances. ... He has also neglected to mention that you would have to carry something to blow the tubes up with. It's kind of hard to carry a bike pump
I don't understand the comment about SUVs at all. What do SUVs have to do with bicycles?

So, if you get a flat while you're riding, what do you do? Pushing the bike home is very annoying, even if you only have a mile to go.

I have a frame pump. It's not "kind of hard" to carry a pump, it's trivially easy -- the pump stays on the bike at all times, I never even have to worry about it or remember to take it along. The spare tube and a few simple tools go in the little bag under the saddle. This means any backpack, shoulder bag, etc. that I carry is for my stuff -- all the bike stuff is already on the bike.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Question for "Riktov" (1.00 / 2) (#295)
by phliar on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 01:15:02 AM EST

I have a question for you, Riktov: what about my comment (parent to this one) was so sub-par that you decided "2" was the appropriate score?


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Sidewalks (3.00 / 1) (#242)
by unDees on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:42:49 PM EST

3) Don't ride on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for pedestrains and young children with training wheels only.
Much as I prefer to ride on the street, there is one road where I dare not: Campbell Road in Richardson, Texas, USA. The speed limit is 45 MPH, and no one (not even me, when I'm in a fossil-burner) ever goes that slow. Even if I had a thintire bike instead of a MTB, there's no way I'd be able to keep up with the densely packed wall of 55-MPH traffic at 8 AM.

I suppose I could go a mile out of my way, south to Arapaho. But the traffic is only 5 MPH slower, and the road is under construction--no way I could go faster than about 15 through those ruts (with my panniers stuffed with lunch and clothing and so on). Or I could go a little over a mile north out of my way to Renner. That way holds promise: there's actually a bike lane. But then how do I get back south to the office? Plano Road? Another wall of 50 MPH traffic.

I don't see any way around sidewalk-riding for this route, and neither do the other cyclists I see doing the same thing. In fact, I've seen several cyclists along these sidewalks and never even one foolish enough to try to share Campbell with the SUV yuppies.

I'd love to have bike lanes on the road. If only we weren't such savages here.... I really admire the way it works in Den Haag, Netherlands: special bike lanes delineated by different-color brick, served by different signals, and obeyed by motorists (or at least everyone was on his best behavior while I was there).

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]

Safe cycling (3.00 / 1) (#287)
by sjl on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:00:10 AM EST

  1. Agreed with this.
  2. Agreed with this.
  3. Unfortunately, sometimes it's far safer to ride on the footpath (sidewalk) than the road. For example, when it comes to major highways in Melbourne, I'll generally move to the footpath, unless there's a clearly marked bike lane (more often than not, this is not the case, alas.) I'm careful when doing this to take into account pedestrians, etc: slowing down, warning them that I'm there, and so forth. If I have a choice, I won't ride on the footpath; unfortunately, I feel that I don't far too often.
  4. You can buy bike pumps that are just long enough to fit underneath the cross bar at the top. They "squish" just enough that you can put them in place, and then spring out to hold themselves where you put them. In addition, there's sometimes debris on the road that's hard to spot until you're right on top of it -- by which time, it's impossible to react. If that debris is sharp, say goodbye to a usable bike, unless you have a patch repair kit or spare tube.
  5. Generally true. But you'll do better if you assume that every driver is out to get you, and act accordingly. Most of the time, you'll be pleasantly surprised, but when you're not, you'll be ready.
  6. Getting tired -- agreed. From the pack -- agreed. But having a drink, I disagree: bicycle bottles are designed in such a way that you can reach down, grab the bottle, have a drink, and put it back without needing to stop. I wouldn't do it when I needed to focus extra hard on my riding, but any other time is fair game.
  7. Generally agreed. But if you're spending a fair amount of time cycling, it's worth spending up to about $AU1000 ($US500, roughly) on a good quality bike: it'll last longer, probably be a bit lighter, and generally be more comfortable. Beyond that price point, there isn't much point spending more. Of course, if you're not cycling regularly, you shouldn't spend quite so much. Adjust the budget to suit your needs/wants, but that upper limit generally is a good guide -- there isn't any major advantage in buying a bike for more than about that much.
  8. Good cycling clothing makes a great deal of difference. Nothing hurts more than having a seam in your trousers poking you right in the crotch for the duration of a half hour ride. Cycling knicks are designed to avoid that particular problem. Or if you don't like the tight-fitting knicks, you can get cycling shorts that look mostly like normal shorts, but have that same design in the groin area.
I think that just about does it. :-)

[ Parent ]
No Spare Tubes (3.00 / 1) (#391)
by Colol on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:48:55 PM EST

True, you're likely to be not far from someplace where you can look for assistance.  It is annoying to drag a wounded bike off to the 7-11 to make a phone call, however, and avoiding it is nice.

I rarely carried anything on my bike when I cycled more actively.  Two water bottles on the frame, bike computer on its mount, helmet on my head, presto.  Part of the reason I was never terribly worried about flats? <a href="http://www.slime.com">Slime</a> tire sealant.  Tire gets punctured, Slime goes to work, you keep on moving.  In all the years I beat up my tires with city and mountain biking, Slime successfully stopped me from getting a flat.

Heck, I rode around for months on a Slime-repaired tire one without even realizing it.  

[ Parent ]

Link for the Copy-Paste Impaired (3.00 / 1) (#392)
by Colol on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:51:28 PM EST

Whoops. Didn't realize the faulty trackpad went and switched posting mode on me. Link to Slime.

[ Parent ]
There are no bicyclists that obey the traffic laws (2.00 / 8) (#26)
by Fon2d2 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:30:05 AM EST

When a bicyclist comes up to a stop sign he should get in line with the other cars so we don't all have to pass him four times in a row as he continuously blows through all the stop signs. Stop lights are even worse and it really pisses me off when I see some cyclist we all just passed strolling through the red light everybody else is waiting for. Not using lights at night is just plain stupid no matter how reflective your clothing is, yet I've come across this as well. In fact I almost ran a biker over because he rode in front of me without any lights. Too bad I stopped first. Bicyclists also need to learn to signal. Say I'm about to make a right turn on red and when of these cyclists cames up alongside me all weavy like. I figure he's about to go straight and as it is a fairly busy intersection he'll have to stop. Nope. Either he turns left suddenly and without signaling, or he illegaly takes your right of way as soon as there is a lul in the traffic. And last of all bicyclists should not use busy streets that were not designed for bikes when they can help it. I live in a residential neighborhood. It has lots of streets but only a few of these are the main heavily used streets. They usually have cars parked on both sides and traffic that goes a minimum of 30mph. Why do the cyclists have to use these streets when there is always a perfectly good street one block to either side?

There is no doubt (3.50 / 2) (#28)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:36:58 AM EST

that most car/cycle accidents are caused by cyclists ignoring the rules of the road (not bikers - they ride Harleys). But not all; drivers often ignore cyclists and/or cut them off and generally just don't see them or don't care.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Car Drivers (4.00 / 3) (#67)
by MKalus on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:29:02 PM EST

My experience is more that car drivers just don't seem to recognize you.

A couple of weeks back I had a woman in her Minivan overtake me, she makes a wide way around me, nice I think, the next think I know she almost runs me off the road as she veers in.

I sprinted after her and caught up with her at the next traffic light (maybe 1K down the road) knocked at her window and asked what that was all about.

Her Answer? "I didn't see you."

When I asked why she went first so far around me her answer was: "I did?"

Or let me translate that: She was sleeping at the wheel, not looking at the road, when she saw she was in the other lane she "pulled back" she had never seen me.

Nice, good to know that car drivers are actually looking at what they are doing.

BTW, if you think cars are bad, wait until a truck overtakes you with 2 cm to spare while you go 60+kph
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

I think I have a more annoying story (3.50 / 2) (#136)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:39:02 PM EST

Some months ago I was riding on a bike lane and approaching an intersection. An SUV passes me, nothing alarming, but then the driver swerves right and *stops the vehicle diagonally across the right lane and the bike lane. I had to break suddenly to avoid hitting her.

The driver *had* seen me, but she was not from the area and had decided to stop and ask me for directions. Nice, eh?

--em
[ Parent ]

Don't agree (4.00 / 2) (#182)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:33:25 PM EST

that most car/cycle accidents are caused by cyclists ignoring the rules of the road
On what basis do you say this? If on the basis of any statistics, do they lump children in with adults?

Based on my own (completely anecdotal) experience, I know only one person who was in an incident [no injuries] because he ignored the rules; but three seriously injured (one was in intensive care for a week with massive internal injuries; he survived) because the car driver did something blatantly stupid and illegal, and numerous minor injuries when the car driver "just didn't see" the cyclist. I myself have never been in an accident because I ignored a law; but I've been hit four times in fourteen years, and one bike has been totalled.

(I'm not counting incidents where actual malice was involved, as when one gentleman yelled "get off the fucking road" and threw a beer bottle on the road in front of me, after his buddy who was driving pretended to veer into me. I'd have pressed charges for assault with a deadly weapon; unfortunately the I didn't get the license plate number of the vehicle.)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Basis (3.00 / 1) (#190)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:41:46 PM EST

It was a while ago, but from Pennsylvania traffic statistics - the cops usually judged the bike rider to be at fault - and, yeah, I think they included kids.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Cops and the Law (3.00 / 1) (#234)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:58:54 PM EST

This is a digression, but:
the cops usually judged the bike rider to be at fault
One thing I've learned is that US cops (except in California, and in university towns) are appallingly ignorant of the laws where it concerns cyclists.

In the US, in every state, bicycles have all the rights and responsibilities of motor vehicles. Cyclists have the right to ride on every street except limited access freeways (the equivalent of the autobahn).

(Of course most cyclists I've talked to are also unaware of this.)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

The judgement of cops can be flawed (4.00 / 2) (#241)
by TON on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:40:26 PM EST

I was once sideswiped by a car in traffic in lovely Somerville, MA. It was morning commute time, so traffic was backed up approaching Davis Square. I hopped back on my bike and chased the guy down. I asked him if he realized he had hit me, perhaps I was less polite than I should have been, but he replied, "Yes." We then went on for a bit, the light changed and he was gone.

His license plate number was not. I called the lovely Somerville, MA police department. A cop arrived. He asked what happened. I told him. He gave a long song and dance about "do you really want to file a complaint", seeing as I didn't look so bad, and it was just an accident on a crowded street, and a complaint could involve problems x, y, and z. He then went on to ask me if I was "on anything".

Well, I probably was talking rather fast and shaky. I'm sure my hands were shaking a bit, too. I certainly looked tense and nervous. But jeeze, I was bleeding a bit, had just been hit by a car, and then threatened by the driver. I kindly explained to the police officer <ahem> these three points. I explained the miracle of adrenalin. He still asked me if I was sure I hadn't taken anything, and that I would have to got to the station to file a complaint. Hint, hint.

Lovely Fucking Somerville Cops and their judgement of fault.

Ted
---
"I could say it stronger
But it's too much trouble"


[ Parent ]

"Judgement" of cops (4.66 / 3) (#251)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 07:05:21 PM EST

This is a hit-and-run; a felony. With intent, that's assault with a deadly weapon.

If you were bleeding, the cop was an idiot. He should have called in the plate first and asked questions later. Anyone reading this: if you ever are in an accident, call 911. Adrenalin is a wonderful thing but it can mask severe problems. If the car doesn't stop, try to get bystanders involved; one of them may have the license plate number. Do not allow the cop to pressure you into not doing anything -- "do you really want to... you have to come with me to the police station to file a complaint" -- that's bullshit. It's his fucking job. If someone came at me with a knife, would they make me go to a police station and ask me if I was "on something"? Jesus!

The one serious accident I was in, the car driver did stop; he was just your normal decent guy who doesn't realise he's at the controls of a lethal machine. I told him that if he took me to the hospital himself he wouldn't have a bill from the ambulance company for a couple of thousand dollars (and it'd be nice to have some company while I had to wait a few hours at the hospital, as I knew our state-of-the-art health care system would make me).


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

obeyance of laws (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by petdr on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:29:11 AM EST

I am sure that there are some bicyclists that don't obey the road laws, but I have to admit when I am on a bike I am very aware of the cars. Maybe it is something to do with the fact that I might dent them, but they are going to put me in hospital.

This awareness of cars, means that I avoid busy streets like the plague, so I would definitely be on that less busy side street.

[ Parent ]

i do (4.50 / 4) (#62)
by turmeric on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:23:40 PM EST

mostly. i stop at the stopsigns. i dont go up one way streets. i signal.

but you know what, i used to never do any of that. i only started doing this after many months of being in traffic, and then reading a bunch of 'bicycle safety' articles on the internet and understanding why it is a good idea

bicyclists almost alwyas have 0 education about traffic safety and it causes lots of problems. they also almost always are unwilling or unable to spend money getting safety gear like lights, helmets, reflectors, etc., because they think 'a bicycle is just a toy' .

(PS i must admit that i do 'rolling stops' sometimes.... but then again where i am from, when you are in a car you do 'rolling stops' too, you should see 5 o clock commuter traffic in the grids of 4-ways in the suburbs, it is like poetry in motion.)

[ Parent ]

I, too (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by epepke on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:28:14 PM EST

I've never passed a car on the right; I always stop at stop signs and queue up stop-and-go with the other cars. I always signal turns and even use the left turn lane for left turns. I don't signal stops, though, because it's impractical when you need both hands to stop. Certainly, though, the majority of cyclists I've seen don't follow the rules.

One cycling problem I've never seen dealt with is what to do with the inductive sensors that run the traffic lights. I've gotten into the habit of "dipping" the bike so that it is at about a 45 degree angle for a short period of time when I stop. This usually triggers the sensor.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Red lights and stop signs (4.00 / 3) (#77)
by dinkum on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:58:03 PM EST

It really annoys me when cyclists run red lights and stop signs. In Boston they do ticket cyclists for this sometimes, but it's rare. One time in Berkeley I was driving down a street at night and I slowed down as I approached an intersection to make a left turn (I had a green light). Out of the corner of my eye I see a cyclist coming from my left going through the red light so I slam on the brakes. Then the guy has the nerve to give me the finger as he rides by!

[ Parent ]
A confession... (3.50 / 2) (#90)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:31:47 PM EST

I didn't get a ticket, but I did get reamed by Mr. Ranger last week for running a stop sign. I could give a lot of excuses about *why* (hills, you know) but he was right - someone got killed there just last week...


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Tell you what ... (4.00 / 2) (#165)
by waverleo on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:01:12 PM EST

... you ride your bike to work for couple weeks (not necessarily every day) and tell me at how many stop signs you full-stop.

Stop signs and traffic lights would not exist if it weren't for cars. Does that mean bicyclists should disobey the rules of the road? No, but trust me, very few of them want to - it's just that there is no infrastructure for cycling, even though it would be far cheaper than any other sort of traffic infrastructure.

Leo

[ Parent ]

red lights, no entry signs and cycle lanes (4.00 / 2) (#346)
by animal on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:13:16 AM EST

I live in Brighton, in the uk and cycle to work. It really annoys me when car drivers  ignore no entry signs then have a go at  you for being in their way, when they shouldn't even be on that road.
 It  also annoys  me when car ( and van)  drivers feel that they OWN the road and can do anything they like, suddenly pulling over and parking in the cycle lanes, driving in cycle lanes to get past traffic jams, stopping cars and opening the doors as you go past them, complaining when you stop at traffic lights  if you do not give them enough room to drive up next to you, complete selfish, arrogant, pricks who believe they have a god givern right to drive everywhere they please even when they are tired, drunk or just plain crap at driving.
 Sorry about that rant, I also drive a car, a custom car, and  admit there are some dangerous cyclists about, but a pratt on a bike will cause less damage than a pratt trying to control 2 tons of metal travelling at 60 mph.

[ Parent ]
side streets (3.00 / 1) (#125)
by squinky on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:22:08 PM EST

sigh-- I wish. It took me almost two weeks to find those side streets when I moved to a new town. (maps aren't always correct). Even then, I ended up on very narrow 35 mph roads for about 300 yards of the trip (which was a big deal because both those stretches were steep and unlit at night.

Maps. I thought I found the sweetest route. But I tried it and ended up on a dirt road that ended in a corn field-- hen the German shepherd got off the porch... I never knew I could go so fast with slick tires on gravel.

[ Parent ]

Vancouver's bike streets (3.00 / 1) (#302)
by mbrubeck on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:39:27 AM EST

The city of Vancouver (.ca) has an interesting solution. We have a network of bicycle streets. These are normal residential streets, open to cars, but only one lane wide which prevents motorists from driving very far on them (bikes of course have no problem). The routes are marked with frequent signs, and have fewer stop signs than typical side streets. At intersections with signals, there are "push to walk" buttons at the curbside placed especially for cyclists. The bike streets run parallel to the major thoroughfares, usually one or two blocks away. I find it a very nice way to commute.

[ Parent ]
Busy streets (4.00 / 1) (#178)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:22:39 PM EST

Again, agreeing with all the points you made, except:
bicyclists should not use busy streets that were not designed for bikes when they can help it. ... Why do the cyclists have to use these streets when there is always a perfectly good street one block to either side?
Why don't you take that perfectly good street? The answer is: that street has lots of stop signs, kids playing roller hockey, balls that suddenly pop out of a backyard with a kid in hot pursuit, etc. and it would be dangerous for them and inconvenient for you. Well, it's exactly the same for cyclists: it would be dangerous for the kids to have a cyclist barrelling down the street at 25+ mph, and inconvenient for the cyclist to have to stop/yield at every block.

The solution is sane traffic design. If there's a street that's not designed for bikes, fix the design instead of penalizing cyclists. If that street you mentioned is not wide enough in each direction for one lane of traffic plus cyclist, and the average speed of traffic is such that an average cyclist could not keep up, then maybe the road needs to be widened, perhaps by not allowing parking on that street. (After all, how safe is it to pull out from a parking spot into a busy street with traffic going 30 mph?)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

I do ... otherwise the insurance policy comes up (3.00 / 1) (#194)
by thebrix on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:45:59 PM EST

Certainly where I am in London, if I were to jump red lights I would be squashed to a carnivorous pancake by the drivers who jump the lights at right angles to me at crossroads. (I've measured it and it seems that ~10 seconds before or after the lights change is considered approximate enough to obey them!)

On signalling, I've developed a good, strong eyebrow. When you can do it, catching a driver's eye is much more effective than hand signals.

Finally, there is no such thing as a 'street designed for bicycles' where I am. The cycle 'path' is generally a sequence of signs guiding the cyclist from A to B via a myriad of back streets ...

[ Parent ]

You must not be in California (3.00 / 1) (#288)
by pfaffben on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:29:26 AM EST

Bicycles and motorcycles are allowed to share a lane with a car in California. Intentionally interfering or blocking a biker with your car is illegal in California.

[ Parent ]
Commute? No way. (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:32:49 AM EST

So, I've lived in the city where bike commuting was a lot of fun, and effective and bike thieves were the only real problem.

But these days I live in the suburbs and drive my bicycle to the park to exercise - even though my exercise ride is way longer than my work commute.

The reason is straight forward - in the city the cars are moving 25-35 MPH. The roads between me and work are in the 35-45 zone, assuming nobody's speeding. They're also hilly which means I'm doing 10-15 MPH. The shoulders are inconsistent and sidewalks are nonexistent.

I tried the commute once - on a holiday when traffic was light - and I still couldn't cope with the shockwaves from the cars blasting past me.

It's a beautiful theory, but unless someone opens a bike path between my house and VF park, I'm outta luck.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


unless someone opens up an automobile path between (2.50 / 2) (#66)
by turmeric on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:27:47 PM EST

my house and downtown, no way will i work there. oh wait, someone did. they spent billions of dollars on it too.

[ Parent ]
The Prince of Nippiness (3.00 / 1) (#324)
by bloat on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:43:28 AM EST

The reason is straight forward - in the city the cars are moving 25-35 MPH.

Which city do you live in? I ride to work in London, and I am, without exception, the fastest thing on the road. I don't jump red lights, but I can get to work faster than any car, motorbike, scooter or bus on the road. I can even beat the tube if I'm on form that day, with a trailing wind, etc.

You're right though - its dangerous to be slow, and I find it much better to be in a certain amount of traffic. If you're going faster than the cars it's easier to avoid them.

CheersAndrewC.
--
There are no PanAsian supermarkets down in Hell, so you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts there.
[ Parent ]

They timed the lights. (3.00 / 1) (#348)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:17:14 AM EST

Once you got in the flow of traffic, you never hit a red light - traffic moved pretty well in that part of town.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

That's all very well (3.60 / 10) (#30)
by bc on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:44:25 AM EST

But you neglect to tackle the major downside of bicycling - impotence.

All that cycling in an uncomfortable seat really crushes and wears out the pudental artery, as well as restricting bloodflow to the old nutsack, heating them up, and causing all sorts of issues as a result.

Is there any way to cycle whilst avoiding not only the (lets face it) social emasculation of being a cyclist in a world of macho mechanized transport, and the actual, physical emasculation of the body?

The social emasculation would have to be addressed as well. I mean, cyclists are hardly what sets the female heart a-flutter, so why should any bloke be remotely interested in cycling? The only way to tackle this would be to get various Hollywood stars to endorse cycling in blockbuster films. The English Patient sexified Thucydides, Speed made the local bus driver an Adonis, what can cyclists point to?

Also, what about the rain? And the cold? Are these problems are redoubled in worse climates, for any cyclist riding down Glasgw high street in the pitch black of 5pm January in the pissing rain is clearly mad, and nobody of any sense would wish to be associated with him.

♥, bc.

Not Necessarily (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by Cant Say on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:20:32 AM EST

As you mention, it's only a problem when the seat is improperly positioned. Anyone who plans on riding his or her bike more than five hours a week should go through a cycling assesment - where professionals and professional equipment combines to give proper bicycle alignment and suggestions to improve you effeciency. Cyclists who aren't in top shape or use equipment that's "off," risk tendonitis, patellofemoral pain and other repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) of the upper and lower extremities.

Another danger to the unwary cyclist can occur with "mountain bikes". Some mountain bikes have the same bar height as a touring bicycle. (Proper standing clearance of 2-3 inches.) Unfortunately, when riding over uneven terrain, the ground may be more than 2-3 inches in variation! If you ride on uneven terrain, be sure your crossbar is low.

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

Hollywood Bike Hunks (4.25 / 4) (#40)
by ScuzzMonkey on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:23:48 AM EST

"American Flyers" Kevin Costner scores on Rae Dawn Chong... not too shabby for a day's cycling excursion.

"Breaking Away" A movie where Dennis Quaid does not get laid, but his effeminate little bike-racing buddy does--a clear endorsment of the sexual appeal of cyclists over the average beer swilling TransAm jockey.

"Quicksilver" Kevin Bacon finds happiness and nookie as a daredevil bicycle messenger, leaving behind his high-powered brokerage job, putting lie to the popular 'rich, powerful men get the chicks' myth.

"Better Off Dead" 'I want my two dollars!' Even a ten year old can be frightening and intimidating on the saddle of a bike, eh?

"ET" Okay, they were all nerds, but a gang of bike riding teenagers and their alien buddy bests the US Government--how powerful is that?


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

Excellent (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by bc on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:32:43 AM EST

A brief google search also found this:

Navy Seals - There is a 30 second segment where Charlie Sheen's car is towed off and he chases after it on a "borrowed" bike.

BMX Bandits - with Nicole Kidman!

How superb. Thing is, Kevin Bacon, Dennis Quaid and Kevin Costner all seem weirdly similar. They all have an strange aura of somehow having lost or given up at some point.

Nonetheless, these films do a lot for the sexiness of bike riding!

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Ooooh! (4.00 / 3) (#116)
by ScuzzMonkey on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:00:01 PM EST

I had forgotten completely about "BMX Bandits"! I must have watched it dozens of times one week when I was home with chicken pox as a kid and it happened to be on HBO. Strangely, I can't remember a thing about it now, except that one of the guys was called 'Goose' and I would always in later years confuse him with Anthony Edwards' 'Goose' from "Top Gun". No bike riding in "Top Gun", eh? More's the pity. Tom Cruise hopping on the biking bandwagon would do wonders for the cause, no doubt.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

Don't Forget... (4.00 / 2) (#117)
by asp742 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:00:47 PM EST

"Pee-wee's Big Adventure" Paul Reubens embarks on the adventure of a lifetime in pursuit of his stolen super-bike.

[ Parent ]
Eeewww... (4.00 / 2) (#227)
by ScuzzMonkey on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:45:30 PM EST

Your one example, sir, has completely cancelled out all of mine. I hope you are happy with yourself.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

Lance Armstrong? (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by MKalus on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:47:44 AM EST

>>what can cyclists point to?<<

I guess Lance Armstrong would work (in the US), in Europe the idea is a lot different (well, continental anyways).

>> Is there any way to cycle whilst avoiding not only the (lets face it) social emasculation of being a cyclist in a world of macho mechanized transport, and the actual, physical emasculation of the body?<<

Let me put it this way: I ride a LOT it's part of my training and quite frankly I don't feel any less a man than before. If you cycle seriously it will show and though you might not have big arms you can probably can kick someone with the legs.... Muscles start growing in places you didn't think it was possible.

>>
Also, what about the rain? And the cold? Are these problems are redoubled in worse climates, for any cyclist riding down Glasgw high street in the pitch black of 5pm January in the pissing rain is clearly mad, and nobody of any sense would wish to be associated with him.<<

Neopren, works wonders, keeps you cozy warm and you can even ride in snow... Sure you have to be more careful about breaking etc. But that is something you can learn.

>> All that cycling in an uncomfortable seat really crushes and wears out the pudental artery, as well as restricting bloodflow to the old nutsack, heating them up, and causing all sorts of issues as a result.<<

There are ton's of sattles out there, you just have to find one that is comfortable, if after a 200K bikeride you are sore, then get another one, I went through maybe 5 sattles before I found one that was really comfortable.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

WRONG (4.50 / 2) (#50)
by turmeric on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:51:14 AM EST

All that cycling in an uncomfortable seat really crushes and wears out the pudental artery, as well as restricting bloodflow to the old nutsack, heating them up, and causing all sorts of issues as a result.
use a recumbent bicycle. look it up on the web.
Is there any way to cycle whilst avoiding not only the (lets face it) social emasculation of being a cyclist in a world of macho mechanized transport, and the actual, physical emasculation of the body?
people who have to wrap themselves in 5,000 pound shells of steel are all weenies and cowards who are afraid of getting a little mud splattered on their precious fingernails.
Also, what about the rain? And the cold? Are these problems are redoubled in worse climates, for any cyclist riding down Glasgw high street in the pitch black of 5pm January in the pissing rain is clearly mad, and nobody of any sense would wish to be associated with him.
good point. however, automobiles used to be prone to the elements as well, getting stuck in ruts, being open-topped, having flaming kerosene lanterns drop off and set fire to things. the only thing that was needed was ingenuity and good old red blooded american know how, or whatever bullshit you conservative kooks like to teach your children in sunday school.

[ Parent ]
recumbent bike? (2.50 / 2) (#158)
by illerd on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:45:41 PM EST

Recumbent bike? Are you joking? He already said he felt like a weenie riding a bike. Put him on a recumbent bike and he'll instantly die of shame. Personally, I go out of my way to insult the old men on recumbent bikes. (Not really, but I do laugh at them a lot.)

[ Parent ]
Gee, I'm fine. (3.66 / 3) (#105)
by Matadon on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:51:11 PM EST

That's why seats have either the split or the soft spot in the middle; to protect that all-important nerve.

I've been cycling for awhile, and I've never had a problem rising to the occasion, so to speak.

What do I do in the rain?  I get wet.  There's this incredible thing known as "skin" that protects my internal organs, though, so I come out of it all right.

In the cold?  I wear a jacket and gloves, which I usually have to take off after about fifteen minutes into the ride.  You'd be amazed at the amount of heat you can generate on your own with some decent exercise.  I can start out a ride and be freezing, and by the time I've gone five miles I've stripped down to thick gloves (for the fingers) and long-sleeved lycra.

So, what about sex appeal?  It's true that "I ride bicycles" doesn't have the same sex appeal as, say, "I'm Sean Connery."  The truth of the matter is, with most members of the opposite sex, what you do and/or own really has no bearing on your sex appeal.  If you're having a problem finding dates, driving a bus or riding a bicycle won't help -- you need a real personality, and that only comes by being a real human being.

--
"There's this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out." — Richard Dawkins.
[ Parent ]

Bullshit! (3.50 / 4) (#126)
by SnowBlind on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:22:52 PM EST

Numbness in that area is ONLY caused by two problems:
Improperly adjusted seat.
Poor fit of the bicycle.
Proof? Lance Armstrong has fathered 3 children after riding more miles than you drive a year AND having one of them removed for Testicular cancer.
Get your bike fitted!

There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
[ Parent ]
AI, sorry. (4.00 / 1) (#326)
by jackelder on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:07:14 AM EST

Read It's Not About The Bike - the three children are from sperm donated shortly before he started the treatment for his cancer. ;) But yeah - decent saddle and you'll be fine. And as for the increased bloodflow in general from good cardio fitness...
__ sabre-toothed portillo
[ Parent ]
I've received no complaints! (3.00 / 1) (#196)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:47:57 PM EST

All that cycling in an uncomfortable seat...
There's your problem! Go to a decent bike store (i.e. no Wal-Mart). Get the bike adjusted to you. It's not a trivial and obvious thing.

As for the ladies -- well, I know that being a cyclist certainly doesn't hurt my chances! (Some of my friends would probably say that even a bullet through the head could only improve them.)

The longest relationship I've had, the initial spark was ignited on her side when she saw me riding back from practice one night in cycling clothes. (Perhaps she saw that I was mad, wherein lay the attraction. Furthermore, it is likely that there was a stream of invective issuing from my lips, directed at some incompetent motorist I'd encountered; it's possible she mistook my filthy tongue for macho masculinity.)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Er... (3.00 / 1) (#269)
by mayo on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:07:18 PM EST

Regular cycling does wonders for the physique, which is a small help when approaching females. I have to say also that most ladies I know who ride regularly look pretty damn fine. Mmmmm, drooool.

[ Parent ]
Me (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by jmzero on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:59:13 AM EST

I quit cycling in the city after I got in a "fender bender" with a car (that certainly wasn't my fault).  I say "fender bender", but that was her experience, not mine.  Mine was a lot of blood, a permanently crooked back, 3 weeks in bed hopped up on codeine, and a humorously destroyed bicycle.

very resource efficient method of transport

Until you get a train of cargo vehicles following a bike down a one lane road.

Infrastructure needs to change before cycling can deliver its benefits.  Even then, you'd have to be a brave man to cycle very far here in Edmonton for much of the year.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife

Wear a helmet!!!!!!! (4.33 / 3) (#45)
by petdr on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:36:49 AM EST

I find it amazing that so many people wouldn't hestitate to put their seat belt on in a car but when it comes to riding their bike they have a real problem wearing a helmet.

Personally I am not willing to look uncool rather than spending the rest of my life as a zombie drooling.

Ummm.... (2.00 / 1) (#51)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:53:27 AM EST

Did you mean what you wrote in that last line? You're not willing to look uncool?

But - I understand your point. I finally got over the "uncool" hump when I realized that (a) my wife was making my kids wear helmets (even the one who rides a tricycle) and (b) they would immediately notice that *I* wasn't following the rules so (c) they would conclude they didn't have to either.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

woops (2.00 / 1) (#63)
by petdr on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:24:54 PM EST

damn double negatives. Thanks.

[ Parent ]
and why? (3.00 / 1) (#80)
by beleriand on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:11:50 PM EST

I wear a helmet when i think theres a realistic chance that it will be usefull, like at a construction site where there could be things falling down eg.

I can really think of few situation where a cycle helmet would be usefull.. Granted, if it's really hot it protects your head somewhat from the heat/sun, buts that's not the feature they are advertised for.
When you loose balance and crash, you would be really stupid to use your head as first thing to dampen the impact.. sadly, with so many parents putting helmets on their kids head that might just be the thing they  learn.


[ Parent ]

Depends on how you fall. (5.00 / 2) (#83)
by MKalus on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:18:20 PM EST

The way I usually went in is sideways, in that case ton's of road rash and no head nocking.

BUT, there are other people who had different experiences.

Here are some "jucy" parts from a mailing list I am subscribed to:

--------------

Yes, for only the second time in my 16 year cycling career, I went over the
bars on Saturday.  The flight was good - the landing continues to give me
fits.  Despite what Dave says, it was not his fault.  There was a big,
yawning crack in the road - about 3-4 feet long and maybe 2-3 inches wide.
That wouldn't have been too bad...it was the fact that it dropped from 2"
deep to about 5" along the way.  This meant that once I dropped into it, my
front wheel simply rode downhill...and stopped when it hit the end.

That would be a bummer.

I heard the wheel go "BANG!", Steve says I yelled, and then (as they say),
chaos and confusion reigned.  I endo'ed in complete denial (I never let go
of the bars) and landed rather inverted on my right elbow.  My head followed
suit, and then my legs came flopping afterwards.   As I went sliding on my
noodle, shoulder, and legs...I stopped and started to sit up.  It was then I
thought to myself that maybe there was still someone behind me. "Steve...?"

** THUMP **

Steve Carrington (having successfully ridden OVER Phoenica) did something no
other rider has ever done to me - he drove into the middle of my back, and
launched on his own abbreviated flight.  As I felt the "THUMP!" I looked up
and watched him come over me with an extension that any pooch at the Great
Outdoor Games would be proud of, followed by his rather beautiful, black
Serotta.  He managed to yell out, "BOB!" along the way in a combination
warning, angry, stressed, frightened, polite yet firm tone.  He landed in a
heap just beyond me, and our bikes piled up in this rather neat, black and
silver sculpture...with the only sound the steady hiss of my front tire
breathing it's last exhale.

Amazingly, traffic in both directions stopped.  People asked, "Are you
okay?" to both of us, and I honestly believe I saw a short Russian judge pop
up on the other side of the road and give us a 9.5 for damage and sound.  I
sort of scooted to the side of the road, and started to take inventory.  A
woman came out from her house with peroxide and bandages for both of us, and
Alain changed my tire (as I'd left Dave's sans spare - D'oh!).

My front wheel and derailleur are both in rough shape.  The rim (while still
true!) buckled on one side from smacking the pavement, and it's discolored
near the spoke nipple so I know it's deformed a bit.  My derailleur cage is
bent inwards, and the hangar is a good 20 degrees from straight.  I'm back
to the 80's - I have a 7 speed!  As far as the bars I think they're okay,
although I was amazed that they pivoted DOWN when I hit the hole.  I was
riding on the brake hoods and still managed to whack hard enough that I
twisted them a full 2 inches downward.

The helmet?  One and done.  My beloved Boreas has a big dent on the top, and
lots of scratches down the side.  That's #6 for me - whoohoo!  How much for
the Pneumo, again?  Yippee!  Upgrade time!

Dave and Alain escorted Steve and I back to Chez Decker, where Steve and I
called it a day.  Alain and Dave managed to go back out and (safely!) get
some miles in, so the day was not a loss for them (thankfully).

Right now, I have road rash on the right leg, hip, knee, shoulder, back, and
sore neck muscles.  All in all, not too bad - I'll be fine in about a week.
The run yesterday (thankfully!) was much better.  We made it through 10.5
miles at Valley Forge with Michael Parente running wildlife fartleks, Dave
chasing, with Alain and I shuffling along in L'Autobus.  With enough Advil,
I felt fine!

Thanks to Dave for hosting us, for that woman on the roadside for her
peroxide (owie!), and to Steve for not landing directly on top of me.

Hurricane Bob
* There are two types of cyclists... *

-------

Courtesy of Bob Mina, more of him can be found here:

http://www.bobmina.com
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

it's hard to tell (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by beleriand on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:38:57 PM EST

There might be situations where a helmet might help.. a little (since cycle helmets can't take much force before crumbling, compared to natural protection that skull offers).
It's not that i have anything against someone wearing a helmet, but i think it should be up for everyone to decide for themself (since the benefit really is questionable, i think there are even statistics to back that up)


[ Parent ]
Well... (2.00 / 1) (#99)
by MKalus on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:41:04 PM EST

For all USAT sanctioned races in Northamerica (including all Ironman events) helmets are mandatory.

What scares me more than people without helmets are the ones that ride with walkmans.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

Cars (4.33 / 3) (#103)
by Adam Tarr on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:46:06 PM EST

When you loose balance and crash, you would be really stupid to use your head as first thing to dampen the impact..
This is not something you always have a choice about. When you get thrown off a bike at >20 mph, putting your arms in front of you will not always be enough to stop your forward momentum. Head protection can be handy here.

Moreover, it is very common to get thrown onto a windshield when you are hit by a car. It's extraordinarly difficult to put your arms up to protect yourself from the windshield, especially if it was not a head-on collision. I know someone who was hit by a car and had his helmet crushed against the windshield, and then had the car slam the breaks and throw him onto the street, where the other half of his helmet got crushed against the pavement. His helmet was beaten to a pulp, but he only had minor injuries.

In the same vein, it doesn't need to be a car to deny you the chance to react. If something pushes you off course into a signpost or a tree or a telephone pole, it's pretty hard to put your arms up to protect your head in time, and it denys you the chance to steer away from harm.

Really, this should be to obvious to merit discussion. You break an arm or a leg or a rib, it heals. You break your skull, you might never be the same. The idea that you use your arms to protect your head in any accident is completely absurd.

-Adam

[ Parent ]
I never wear helmets while cycling (3.00 / 1) (#85)
by Xeriar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:23:17 PM EST

Then again I never land head-first, either. I learned when I was real young that helmets can in fact be very bad for your neck.

I have had many bloody knees and elbows, though :-)

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

You were wearing the wrong kind of helmet. (3.00 / 1) (#92)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:33:58 PM EST

If you managed to hurt your neck with a helmet, and it wasn't because the helmet was protecting your head during an impact, then you were wearing the wrong sort of helmet for your age or it wasn't on right.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

three examples (1.66 / 3) (#124)
by krek on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:20:47 PM EST

where I believe that wearing a helmet would have injured me more than I was:

1) I was riding down a street and a delivery truck driver opened his door on me and I was able to duck just in time and got my head under the door, had I been wearing a helmet, I am quite sure that I would have been on my back and very dazed.

2) I was riding down a different street and a garbage truck decided to exit his parking space without looking and cut off a couple of cars on his right. I was riding about six feet behind and two feet to the right of one of those cut off cars. That car, in response to being cut off, braked hard and served right hard, the result is that, within a blink of an eye, my front tire hit his bumper, my face hit his rear window, and my back hit the street, in that order. Had I been wearing a helmet, I supect, but am not totally sure, that the two inces of plastic protruding from my forehead would have hit the widow first and given me a rather bad case of whiplash rather than the bloody nose and sore jaw that I got.

3) I was riding down another street and, as some had complained before, was cruising up to the stop light between the parked cars and the cars waiting at the red. Suddenly, this moron decided that he wanted to jaywalk without looking, he stepped out between parked cars (equidistant from both crosswalks) and I had enough time to think "ah fu-" and twitch my hand toward the brake before I slammed into this boob at about fifty Kph, we banged heads in the exchange, and I am pretty sure that that guy would not have come out of the experience nearly as well as he did had I been wearing a helmet, we knocked heads, my forhead into his temple.

Now, for reference, I drive in Montreal and the streets concerned where Ste Catherine, St Laurent and St Urbain respectively, for those who care. I also ride as part of traffic, usually clocking between fifty and sixty Kph. Most of the time I do not use hand signals, but that is OK since most drivers in this city don't use theirs either. The most difficulty that I have encountered from drivers comes from the cabbies, who are the cyclists arch enemies in Montreal or something, and the Porche and BMW drivers who can't seem to be able to deal with a cyclist repeatedly passing them. It is these status drivers, in my experience, that are the worst, I have even had one guy try and crowd me off the road rather then let me overtake him again.

[ Parent ]
#3 (3.00 / 1) (#131)
by Eater on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:37:23 PM EST

Actually, if you were wearing a helmet, I would think #3 would have ended up better. Most helmets are actually softer on the outside than a human skull. As for #2, I seriously doubt a helmet would really have hurt you that much in that situation, although it depends on what kind of helmet you had on. As for #1, well, that just doesn't happen very often. If you were two inches taller, or if your bike wheels were a bit bigger, the result would have been just as bad as with a helmet.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
I can refute those examples. (3.00 / 1) (#203)
by DanTheCat on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:57:25 PM EST

1) I did the same thing, only mountain biking and ducking under a tree. Smacked my helmet but good, but since they are designed to take impacts, the helmet deformed and just deflected my head down an additional inch or three.
Conclusion: Rather have the helmet just in case I don't manage to get my head low enough.

2) What are you, an idiot? So you really think the extra inch or two that your helmet sticks out would have made a difference between you getting whiplash or not? In reality, the helmet would have protected your face (no bloody nose and lip!) while cushioning the impact by crushing under the force of the impact. It's not like helmets are made out of steel or something.
Conclusion: Would have been much better off with a helmet.

3) So you headbutted some dumb pedestrian. Tell me, what do you think is harder: A human skull, or some styrofoam covered with thin plastic? I don't know what kind of helmets you buy, but generally skulls are harder than helmets. Otherwise they wouldn't do much good, now would they?
Conclusion: Helmet would have helped soften the impact.

So, Anybody still think that helmets aren't usefull? I readily admit to not wearing one every minute I'm on a bike, but I don't try to make up stupid arguments to justify not wearing one. (whiplash?!?!) If I don't feel like wearing one, I don't. It's a matter of personal opinion. Or at least, it should be, government regulations aside...

Dan :)

<--->
I was in need of help
Heading to black out
'Til someone told me 'run on in honey
Before someone blows your god damn brains out'<
[ Parent ]

When I fall to the side... (3.00 / 1) (#181)
by Xeriar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:30:12 PM EST

I normally never let my head hit the ground. Helmets change that though, they make my head a wee bit heavier and four inches wider, I ended up jarring my neck.

I felt it for a week. Ow. Never again.

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

False sense of security (3.80 / 5) (#95)
by krek on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:37:11 PM EST

All a helmet will do is protect against minor concussions in the case of mild, head against metal/pavement, types of collisions. Unfortunately most people feel rather more 'invulnerable' than they really should when wearing a helmet.

This is a fact, a poorly demonstrated and hardly studied fact, but none the less, in my experience, a fact.

In hockey, there has been much anecdotal evidence, and some statistics, to indicate that after the mandatory helmet rule was instigated, there has been a marked increase in the number of injuries and the overall violence of the game. I believe that the number of concussions in the sport have gone down, but the number of back and neck injuries has more that outpaced the concussion reductions.

In skiing, I learned very early on that it was a dangerous sport that I was engaging in, If I hit a tree or another person, I might die. Now, parents just slap a helmet on their ragrats and shove them down the hill, the kids learn to ski and beleive that their helmet makes them safe, when all it really does is reduce the chance of concussion in the case of mild collisions.

When I learned to ride a bike as a kid I, like others I am sure, fell off alot, I did stupid things and paid for it by falling into ditches and such. I never got seriously hurt, some scrapes, once I twisted my ankle, but ultimately I learned how to survive an ungraceful dismount from my bicycle. I watch my younger cousins these days, who range from just learning to ride to experienced cruisers, and the thing that I notice is that none of them know how to fall, when their balance is disrupted and they are headed to the ground, there are no outstreached arms, no tensed up featal position, and no attempts to distance themselves from the bicycle, the result is instead usually more of a flop ending in the helmeted head bouncing of the pavement a few times.

Ask any martial artist, the first thing to learn, other than the philosphy, is how to fall.

[ Parent ]
Statistics (4.00 / 2) (#135)
by borderline on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:38:58 PM EST

From the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute:
  • One in eight of the cyclists injured has a brain injury.
  • Two-thirds of the deaths here are from traumatic brain injury.
  • Eighty eight percent of cyclists' brain injuries can be prevented by a helmet.


[ Parent ]
real numbers (3.25 / 4) (#153)
by krek on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:36:49 PM EST

85,000,000 bicycle riders in US
800 bicylclist deaths a year in the US
0.00094% of bicyclists get injured in the US
550,000 injuries requiring medical aid per year in US
0.0065% of bicyclists get injuries that require medical attention
one in eight injuries are brain injuries
0.0008125% of bicyclists get brain injuries
66.7% of deaths are due to traumatic head injury
533 deaths a year due to traumatic head injury
0.00000627% of bicyclists die from traumatic head injuries
88% of head injuries can likely be prevented by a helmet (yet I suspect that the more severe the impact the smaller this number gets)
0.00000552% of bicyclists would save their life by wearing a helmet
0.00000075% of bicyclists would die anyway
800 bicyclists will die each year without helmets
331 bicyclists will die each year with helmets

And yet, motor vehicles account for 51% of all acquired brain injuries... why is it that you have to wear a helmet on a bicycle and not while driving a car? Why is it that people would rather rubber-pad all the sharp corners rather than learn to live and cope in an inherently dangerous world?

The insurance companies will be the stagnation of us all!

[ Parent ]
Because we're human. (2.00 / 1) (#201)
by Perianwyr on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:56:12 PM EST

Sure, we could all be totally lawful all the time, be cagier than death itself, and compute every outcome of every action.

The fact of the matter is, we can't. Especially when other people around us can't either. So it's necessary to pad a few corners.

This is no hard and fast rule- there are many corners that deserve to go unpadded for the benefit of all- but to attack helmet-wearing on bicycles is pretty shortsighted, and of questionable motive. What exactly are you protecting? Your right to let your hair free?

[ Parent ]

Citations please. (none / 0) (#469)
by vectro on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 07:43:57 PM EST

I would additionally point out that it is fairly inapproriate to cast things in terms of number of riders; rider-hours or rider-miles would be much more revealing.

Also, your statement "0.00094% of bicyclists get injured in the US" is prima facie false - you would need to know for how many years of his life the average cyclist rides his bicycle, in order to compute the probibilty of getting injured during one of them. Similarly for other percentages.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Helmets and falling. (4.80 / 5) (#259)
by jlseagull on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:05:38 PM EST

After cracking a helmet in half by running into a tree at 35kph, I bought a new one.  But darn it all, I don't think that thing's saved me from getting injured once - but not because it's ineffective.  Rather, it's because it never seems to hit the ground at all.  I fall a lot, being a crosscountry mountain biker, yet my helmet is still shiny after owning it for almost a year.  

I finally figured out that this was due to my martial arts experience.  When I fell, it seemed that I could always do a breakfall or roll, keeping my head safe.

When doing a breakfall, the number one rule is to keep the head tucked away from the ground.  Secondly, when being projected forward, try to hit with your shoulder and upper arm, tuck your head, and roll across your back.  Think of the bike as nage (defending) and yourself as uke (attacking).  You have displeased the bike, and it is throwing you.

Once, I went over the handlebars on a steep downhill.  I think, "Yeep!  Kaitenage!" and go into a forward roll (Kaitenage is a forward throw that projects an attacker's face into the floor).  I come to my feet, still having some forward momentum, quite pleased with myself.  

I look back... just in time to get slammed in the face by the bike.

[ Parent ]

cyclists do not congest traffic (3.75 / 8) (#47)
by turmeric on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:45:46 AM EST

every person on a bicycle would otherwise be in an automobile, sometimes a large automobile such as a pickup or station wagon or SUV.

thus, if you see 5 people bicycling down a road they are actually reducing the number of cars on the road by 5. remember that at your next stoplight when you are waiting behind a line of 6 cars, glance over see a couple bicyclists, then imagine that all of them are in cars in front of you instead.

as for commuter bike paths getting invaded by children and pedestrians... well how about this: you dont allow children and pedestrians to walk down the middle of the freeway, so why cant the same thing be done for 'bicycle freeways'?

i also think perhaps the 'bicycle freeways' could be built right alongside existing car freeways.. just as ped. bridges are built alongside car roads. this is exactly how it is in some places in my town... the other nice place to build bike paths being the tributary streams to the large rivers that flow through most cities... although frequently these but up against rich peoples houses who dont want paths in their backyard. anyways.

bike power!

Bicycle-only pathways (3.00 / 2) (#73)
by louboy on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:49:59 PM EST

In theory, I like the idea of bicycle-only paths/roads, but I wonder whether this is the best use of public transportation money?

Let's face it, bicycling long distances is impractical for most people -- unless you're in shape, don't mind the risk, don't mind wearing silly clothes, either have a shower at work or don't mind smelling bad.  Money spent on improvements for cyclists is only going to benefit a small group of people, who would most likely continue cycling even if these improvements do not exist.

Increasing bus and rail service, as well as pedestrian improvements are a better use of public money, as these serve more people -- the elderly, the out-of-shape, the risk-averse.  Taking public transit is also practical no matter what the weather.  Most people are probably not going to bicycle in the rain or snow no matter how lovely the "bicycle freeways" in their town are!

[ Parent ]

Re: Bicycle-only pathways (3.50 / 2) (#140)
by jholder on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:57:21 PM EST

Actually, bike paths take little space and often fit into other spaces that normally would be simply empty space - at least here in Denver. We have an incredibly huge amount of great bike paths here - perhaps why we have the lowest average obesity of any large US city...

[ Parent ]
It's not that expensive ... (4.00 / 2) (#159)
by waverleo on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:45:56 PM EST

... to put separated paths along urban traffic corridors when renovating a road (usually done at least every 10 years).

Compared to the cost of a new subway car, or a couple kms of subway, it's practically nothing.

Leo

[ Parent ]

Bike lanes = dangerous (4.00 / 2) (#277)
by driptray on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:22:48 PM EST

Yes, but painting a stripe down the road to separate cyclists from cars is more dangerous than not having the stripe.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

Yes but ... (2.50 / 2) (#347)
by waverleo on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:14:53 AM EST

... having a completely separate lane (with a physical barrier) for cyclists is much safer than either, and it moreover encourages inexperienced/reluctant riders to take up biking because of the perceived increased safety.

Leo

[ Parent ]

Sure but... (4.50 / 2) (#353)
by driptray on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:50:44 AM EST

Well, you're talking about cycle paths, rather than bike lanes. In theory they're fine, but in practice they tend to be built for recreation rather than transport. You find them alongside lakes and in parks, and they don't take you anywhere. In addition, they get clogged with pedestrians and roller bladers, making them useless for anything other than slow-speed cycling.

In the unlikely event that they are built for transportation, they create a belief in the minds of both motorists and cyclists that the bike path is the only place for cyclists, leading to motorist aggression when the cyclist has to eventually get onto the road, as they will have to do unless the bike path network is as extensive as the road network.

However I can see a few limited places where a separate bike path is a good idea. For shortcuts between areas where no road exists, and possibly to avoid small sections of bike-unfriendly roads where it is impossible to make them bike-friendly.

But usually all it takes to make a road bike-friendly is to make the curb-side lane just a little wider.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

So ... (3.00 / 1) (#425)
by waverleo on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:22:14 PM EST

... build them for transport. There are many cities where such lanes exist, and when they are beside the road and parallel to the sidewalk, with appropriate barriers on both sides, the advantages are huge.

The major impediment to these initiatives is that motorists get angry because they take away from road-space. However, they have proven to be very effective all across western europe. You're absolutely right about bike paths being used for recreation, but that is due to the bad design of the bike paths - having only one strip of asphalt along the side of a river will, of course, lead to use by pedestrians.

Those that advocate the bike-as-car approach forget something crucial: bikes are not cars. They don't go as fast, they don't take up as much room, the former is much more fragile than the latter. The Forester attitude is currently what is preventing many cities from taking a proactive approach to bicyling, and, moreover, preventing inexperienced/fearful cyclists from using cycling as their regular form of transportation.

Leo

[ Parent ]

Two problems with this (none / 0) (#451)
by driptray on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 07:40:46 PM EST

The first is intersections. Even if your cycle paths are completely separate from the road, with "appropriate barriers", they are still going to have to intersect with the normal road network at least as often as any "normal" road.

One possible solution to this would be to have the cycle path network separated by height - either all above the normal road network, or all below it. This would obviously be extremely ugly, expensive, and would not really work as the bikes would have to eventually get back to ground level so they can get to their destination.

Another possible solution is to formalise behaviour at the intersections by using traffic lights or stop signs, etc. I don't think stop or yield signs would work. They require motorists to look for cyclists and take them into account, and I think the de facto motorist behaviour would quickly lapse into ignoring any signs at intersections with cycle paths. Traffic lights may work better as people usually obey them.

But the biggest objection is cost. Can you imagine what it would cost to replicate the entire road network, complete with traffic lights wherever the road network intersects the cycle path network? All to benefit the currently small number of cyclists? I'm a committed cyclist, and I would appreciate the benefits of such a thing as much as anyone, but even I couldn't justify the enormous cost.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

Many people bike where I live. (3.00 / 1) (#170)
by libertine on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:10:29 PM EST

The bike roads and interconnecting bike lanes on roads in Sacramento and Davis are a godsend.  The money is not "misspent", as plenty of people use these trails every day, year round.  More use is seen in Davis, but that is because the city council there actually promotes their use and considers trails preferable to motor vehicle roads.

Actually, with the exception of a few areas of the cities in my region (central city areas, downtown, etc), public transit is pretty worthless.  It takes half the time to get around on a bicycle than it does to take connecting buses.

Most of these decisions to implement bike roadways came from a great deal of public input during the transportation planning meetings in both cities.  They didn't happen in a vaccuum.


"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

Cost of Bicycle-only pathways (4.50 / 2) (#260)
by BlueGlass on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:29:25 PM EST

Bike paths cost considerably less than a roadway of equal area:
  • Bikes are lighter, so there's no need to create a well-engineered roadbed to support multi-ton vehicles.
  • The bikepath pavement/concrete can be considerably thinner (less material=lower cost) than a road, also because of the lighter weights involved.
  • The wear rate is almost nil, so repaving is rare and cheap when contrasted with automobile roads.
  • The roadbed (pathbed?) doesn't need to be graded or compacted carefully, and not nearly as much engineering has to be put into radiusing turns, surveying, engineering and design.

This ignores several other less easily measured factors, such as:

  • less-expensive rights-of-way (at least in Vancouver, BC, wealthy people seem to like having bike paths in their neighborhoods. Ther argument seems to be that it's far better than crazy drivers tearing around residential areas, trying to shave a few seconds off a commute).
    The cost for many of the new bike paths in Vancouver has been bourne by developers creating high-income housing, as it was seen to increase the desireability of the housing.
  • "Undesireable" routes can be used, i.e. ones where it would be topologically or legally difficult to place a road.


[ Parent ]
Speed (4.00 / 1) (#107)
by bouncing on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:52:29 PM EST

The reason it is generally agreed that cyslists congest traffic is because they're slower. Think of it this way: If you have an eight lane (that's four lanes, each direction) avenue with a driving speed average of 30 miles per hour, you're still at lower capacity than a four lane (two lanes each direction) highway with a driving speed of 75 miles per hour.

It's a narrow but extremely fast stream, or a slow but wide stream? Switching to bikes COMPLETELY would double the width of most streams of traffic, but the reduction in speed more than makes up for it.

Moreover, the point was that cyclists congest CAR traffic. I agree that they do, but I don't think it's a strong enough argument to condemn cycling on. Cylists congest regular car traffic because they do not infact increase the practical width of a road as long as there are at least a few cars on the road.

[ Parent ]

bikeways (4.33 / 3) (#154)
by gbroiles on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:38:59 PM EST

I used to ride to work in Eugene, Oregon (a good biking town) on a river-side bike path and it was really sweet - I could get to work in half the time it took by car (I had to cross a river to get to work - there was a small bike/foot bridge close to my house & work, but by car it was a long trip with 2 freeways) and being outdoors was great. I'd get up really early and ride to a little bakery for coffee & some baked thing & then smoke a cigarette on my way to work while pedalling really hard, which makes for a great nicotine rush. Yow! That was the best.

Then the owners/managers flew that company straight into the ground leaving a big smoking crater and that was the end of my happy commute on the bikepath. But (even in the winter) it was really cool. If things were too icy so that I didn't want to ride, it wasn't a bad walk, either.

I was a lot more skeptical of the whole bike-path thing until I tried it - it's much less aggravating than riding on the streets (pedestrians do get in the way, but not like cars & stoplights etc), and the more natural setting is really nice. I forgot how much I miss that. People who think the idea might be stupid really ought to give it a try.



[ Parent ]

Another negativity (3.50 / 2) (#48)
by Woundweavr on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:46:50 AM EST

A couple of negatives you left out...

1 - Weather - I live near Boston, USA. That means that it gets cold in the winter. A commute to work that subjects the commuter to the elements, cold, snow, rain or whatever, won't work well.

2 - Appearance/Attire - I could bike 10-20 miles. However, I couldn't do it without sweating and generally ruining my appearance. Plus, showing up at a dress-coded workplace in bike shorts would be frowned on. You'd have to change twice and sit through the day sweaty.

have a shower (3.00 / 1) (#54)
by blakdogg on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:58:13 AM EST

Doesn't your workplace have a shower or isn't there a gym or ymca nearby. I think it should go without saying that you have to have bath when you reach to work. Unless you have mastered the third world skill of riding without breaking a sweat. In general I suggest a bath and change of clothes, especially if you wear biker shorts and share working space
Woe be onto the United Nations, there nothing but a front.
[ Parent ]
Nonuniversal (3.00 / 1) (#58)
by Woundweavr on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:11:35 PM EST

The last three places I've worked at happened to not have a shower. I've known a lot of places that do, but I'd say 50% of offices don't happen to have showers available. Gyms are expensive and YMCAs aren't common in business districts around here. Plus, that adds another 10-20 minutes to your commute, already extended since you're biking.

[ Parent ]
showers at work (4.50 / 2) (#106)
by squinky on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:51:12 PM EST

aren't really necessary.

I only ride 3 miles, but I used to do >6.

To not smell, do this (I got this from Bicycling Magazine 8? years ago):

Shower.
Use deodorant.
put on clean clothes.
ride to work.
strip completely.
towel off if necessary.
put on clean clothes.

You won't smell during the work day (but you will on the way home if you wear the same riding gear that you did in the morning).

The theory of why this works-- the shower removes most of the stench-causing bacteria. Sweat, by itself, doesn't stink. If you change into clean and dry clothes, there is little for bacteria to grow on.

This has worked for me in the tropics as well as the Southern US summers.

[ Parent ]

I agree (3.50 / 2) (#155)
by waverleo on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:40:57 PM EST

I have a 24 km commute (one way - 15 mi) and have had no problems using that technique. That said, it makes a lot of sense to avoid the shower at home (and shower at work), since you can, in that case, use the same cycling clothes every day (it won't really matter how stinky you are if you change). Moreover, you save a lot of time in the morning.

Leo

PS I would shower at work, but the people who just built this building were morons, and the only showers they put in were for a high-priced fitness centre (I think they were in cahootz to make more money for "Goodlife Fitness" and save on having to build showers.)

[ Parent ]

Weather, dress codes (3.00 / 1) (#104)
by bouncing on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:47:08 PM EST

As for weather? You're excused. I've known some hardcore cyclists who bike through FEET of snow in Boulder, but I wouldn't do it myself.

As for a dress-coded work place. See if they have showers or there are showers nearby. When I commuted to work via bike (I live too far now), I used to shower when I got to work. Sure, it takes extra time, but less than going to the jim after work.

[ Parent ]

changing clothes (2.00 / 1) (#113)
by squinky on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:58:06 PM EST

that's the biggest negative of all. I have to do a *lot* of laundry.

[ Parent ]
Easy Solution (2.50 / 2) (#172)
by pmc on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:13:28 PM EST

My wife has to do a lot of laundry.

[ Parent ]
Not cost effective (3.50 / 2) (#268)
by Dancin Santa on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:06:36 PM EST

Do you know the cost of upkeep of one of those things?

[ Parent ]
So, what's the best way (3.66 / 3) (#56)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:02:02 PM EST

To get a gaggle of walkers to slide over when you come up the bike trail at 20 MPH?

Personally, I've tried calling "on your left" like your supposed to - but half the time they go left, another quarter of the time they throw up their hands and spin around like I'm a mugger with a pistol and only about 1/4 of the time do they actually get in the right lane. Sigh.

The worst part is VF park actually has "share the road" and "stay right, pass left" painted on the freaking ground every mile or so.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


pedestrians (5.00 / 3) (#111)
by squinky on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:55:32 PM EST

were referred to as "squirrels" when I was in college, because like squirrels, they will exhibit erratic behavior in an attempt to avoid predators, or vehicles.

They hone your biking skills though.

[ Parent ]

In defense of the pedestrians (3.00 / 1) (#118)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:05:04 PM EST

It doesn't always register what the guy in the bike is yelling, especially if you're in the middle of a conversation with your GF. Also, though IME most cyclers DO pass on the left, a significant number don't.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Yelling doesn't help much (3.50 / 2) (#129)
by borderline on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:27:26 PM EST

Get a big horn for your bike to honk at the pedestrians with! That works much better than yelling. You still must be ready to slow down though, as some of them really do act like squirrels.

[ Parent ]
Why not ... (2.00 / 1) (#134)
by Spud The Ninja on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:38:25 PM EST

... get a bell?

[ Parent ]
Got one. (3.00 / 1) (#175)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:21:59 PM EST

They ignore it.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

eternal biking truth no 4: (4.33 / 3) (#149)
by fhotg on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:29:01 PM EST

It is principally impossible to predict the reaction of pedestrians when you signal them something, be it bell, words, whatever.

One strategy is have something loud, so you can announce yourself from a big distance and have time to observe their reaction.

Another is to take care that they don't notice you, therefore continue their trajectory and you can safely overtake them. They might jump to the right anyways for another reason, so you have to slow down.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

Fun with Pedestrians (4.75 / 4) (#205)
by pmc on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:58:47 PM EST

There is nothing more fun[1] than heading towards a pedestrian in the middle of the road when said pedestrian is trying to be cool and cross the road one lane at a time**.

One time I remember well was in the City (of London - the financial district: full of people who are full of themselves) and I was heading up the relatively clear middle lane of the road at a fair pace on my trusty Brompton[3]. This Horray Henry - pinstrip suit, briefcase, rudimentary brain function - nips through the traffic in the inner lane which then starts moving. The traffic in the outer lane is also moving, which effectively traps him in the middle of the road.

Naturally, he hasn't spotted me bearing down on him. He soon will.

I shout "Oi", at which point he turns round and finally spots me. Now, I expected him to do one of two things - go to the left of the lane and let me past on the right hand side, or go to the right, and let me past on the left; after all there is plenty of room for a bike to pass a pedestrian in the lane. He takes the third option - spinning (literally) in the middle of the lane, trying to spot a gap in the traffic he can scuttle into. His face showed pure panic.

Now this presents a problem as I don't really want to hit the gentleman. For a start I might miss my train. So I shouted some instructions - "Pick a side of the road, you pillock". This did little good, as, if anything, his spinning got faster. I had resigned myself to trying to guess which way he was going to jump, and pass him on the other side - I hadn't really slowed that much as I didn't think that the man would have such problems in not obstructing a bike in a fairly wide traffic lane.

As the distance got closer and closer he, and I, got lucky; the traffic in the inside lane stopped. The man threw himself out of my way (even though I had a goodly distance to go) and landed prostrate over the bonnet of a recently stopped car.

Regrettably I was not around to see the conversation between he pedestrian and the driver, but I imagine it would have been interesting.

[1] for the cyclist - the pedestrian has a fairly miserable time of it.

[2] London has complex junctions, so it is common for three lanes of traffic to all move at different times, especially near traffic lights.

[3] A very neat, and fast, folding bike.

[ Parent ]

My solution (4.00 / 1) (#284)
by irksome on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:44:23 PM EST

I've had pretty good success by shouting "Step right, angry biker on your left".  Best part is you don't have to actually be angry, but just the word seems to get their attention better than just shouting "Step right, biker on your left".

-
I think I am, therefore I'm not.
[ Parent ]

I think I could adapt that. (3.50 / 2) (#345)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:08:19 AM EST

How about "Run for your life! Homocidal clown coming!"

:-P


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

The reverse also true (3.00 / 1) (#293)
by rantweasel on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:59:00 AM EST

Us pedestrians have to keep an eye out for deranged cyclists.  I walk to work, and halfway across the Walnut Street bridge, sticking to the right half of the sidewalk, I got nailed in the back by some student riding to class trying to pass me on the right.  It's plenty easy to ride on the roadbed going across that bridge, so she shouldn't have been on the sidewalk anyway.  Part of why us peds are so squirrelly is the number of cyclists who skip the "on the left".  And no, a bell or horn or a "hey you" don't count, because they don't signal which side the cyclist is passing...  And don't get me started on the messengers who give all of the other cyclists in the world a bad name.

mathias

[ Parent ]

Cycling the wrong way (3.50 / 2) (#61)
by louboy on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:23:13 PM EST

I personally don't bicycle -- because I value my life a little too much...But am curious about something.

I constantly notice people riding the wrong way in the bike lane, moving against traffic -- usually kids or insane-looking people.  For those of you who cycle a lot, how do you deal with these wrong-way cyclists?  Especially on a road without a lot of space, and some maniac is coming head-on toward you?

steer clear of the ignorant (4.33 / 3) (#65)
by turmeric on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:26:33 PM EST

some people were taught to ride into traffic 'so you can see what is coming at you'. they hold onto this like a religion because they had it pounded into their brain when they were a kid back in the 1950s.

as for kids, i dont know, ive never actually seen this.. thank god. what can you do, other than bicycle education classes?

[ Parent ]

Yeah, I've never understood that... (3.50 / 2) (#132)
by gordonjcp on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:37:48 PM EST

Surely if you ride on the same side as the traffic going your way, you are not only able to see what's coming towards you, but are seperated from it by a whole lane?

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
How do you deal with them? (3.00 / 3) (#88)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:28:49 PM EST

With a hammer. Seriously, you should walk so you can see oncoming traffic but when you ride you must obey the laws of the road. Tell them to pretend they're riding a really skinny harley.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Ignorant Cyclists (3.00 / 1) (#102)
by bouncing on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:44:16 PM EST

You handle cyclists not observing road laws the same way you handle motorists: ticket them. Riding the wrong way on a one way street IS illegal, regardless of vehicle.

Moreover, you're touching on an important point: to operate a motor vehicle, you must have a license. To operate a bicycle on public streets, you do not need a license in MOST states. Some states have experimented with such systems, often with success. I conclude that to ride on public streets with traffic, cyclists should be forced to (a) get a license with exam, (b) have their bike inspected for safety (just like a car).

[ Parent ]

World + dog: Licensing = Bad (4.00 / 1) (#145)
by kphrak on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:20:05 PM EST

Governments don't want to regulate bikes, as a general rule. It's time-consuming, costly, and results in unhappy cyclists (a class of Americans who haven't been regulated for the last 100 years aren't going to like it starting now). Hell, people were up in arms when state boat licensing came in. What's more, you have to be over 16 to drive a car. You can learn to ride a bike at about age 4, and no one's going to want to license kids in anything; it's political suicide. In addition, the costs of regulation would be hideous in terms of manpower and equipment.

The last thing a government who wants to score points in the environmental arena wants to do is impede the use of something that they're pushing everybody to do. Who cares if a few idiots act the same way that most people do in their cars? A bicycle accident is a lot cheaper and less likely to be lethal than a car accident. Accidents are slower and usually easier to avoid with a modicum of defensive driving.

My view is slightly Oregon-US-centric, because in my city (Portland), they're very aggressive about promoting bicycles. Maybe they'd license things if EVERYONE rode bikes, but these days, the city is happy if people ride bikes in the first place.


Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.


[ Parent ]
Licensing (3.00 / 1) (#174)
by bouncing on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:21:54 PM EST

Ok, you shouldn't have to license your four year old when you get him his first bike. A four year old on a huffy doesn't ride around on major aterial six lane streets. One major problem with cities that aren't yet as bike-centric as Portland is that not all cyclists and motorists know how "sharing the road" really works. Licensing cyclists to use state highways for example would result in a generally better educated class of riders.

[ Parent ]
Logistics (4.50 / 2) (#331)
by thebrix on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:22:20 AM EST

Licencing comes up every so often, and is a dead loss because of logistics.

Administering X million tests from scratch would be impossible (where would the vast army of testers and inspectors come from?) and there's enough non-enforcement of existing licencing already (I've seen estimates that 30 per cent of cars in London are untaxed and uninsured, and 25 per cent of drivers in London do not have a legitimate licence).

There is a precedent; in 1935 the car licence was brought in in the United Kingdom because phenomenal road deaths (twice as many per annum then as now) caused an outcry. The first car licences were issued, a controversial decision at the time, because the task of administering a test (possibly with retests) to every existing driver was too great. I also suspect the political cost would've been too great; it's quite possible that, at some point before 1935, a politician 'promised' that there would never be licencing or testing.

Apparently most people in this situation voluntarily took a test at some time in the future, but many never did.

For similar reasons (vast bureaucracy for insufficient return, and difficulty of enforcement) the dog licence was abolished in about 1982. It was famous for its cost which hadn't changed in years (37.5 pence or seven shillings and sixpence in pre-decimal coinage) and was, for a long time, the same cost as a marriage licence. Hence the memorable song title 'she cost me seven and sixpence, I wish I'd bought a dog' :)

[ Parent ]

Wrong way! (3.50 / 2) (#208)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:02:54 PM EST

I'll treat it the same as if there were a large box lying in the street (the box is probably smarter than the wrong-way cyclist though) -- signal, and move left into traffic, merging in with the cars. Yell "wrong way" at the bozo; resume position.

Two days ago in Berkeley I saw a most impressive sight: a guy riding the wrong way, at night, with no lights -- in the left-most lane!


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Berkeley (3.00 / 1) (#219)
by louboy on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:31:27 PM EST

Funny you mention Berkeley.  I see more people on the wrong side of the street in Berkeley than anyplace else I've ever been.  What especially amuses me about Berkeley are all the grown men, completely out of their minds, riding BMX trick bikes!

[ Parent ]
boxes... (2.00 / 1) (#423)
by bloat on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:14:13 PM EST

I'll treat it the same as if there were a large box lying in the street [...] Yell "wrong way" at the bozo; resume position.

You always yell at boxes sitting in the road, eh? ;)

CheersAndrewC.
--
There are no PanAsian supermarkets down in Hell, so you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts there.
[ Parent ]

Airtravel safer than driving? (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by aldarion on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:36:58 PM EST

What struck me is the figure for air travel, since it is so frequently toted as being safer than a car. Well, as the original report says, air travel is only safer when comparing distance travelled, BUT NOT HOURS travelled. In fact, the report gives the numbers 20 fatalities per 100 million passenger hours vs. 12.4 in a car. Worse still are walking and (the point of the article), biking. My thinking is; which is the more appropriate statistic for one to look at, comparing two hours flight time vs. two hours in a car, or 2000 km air travel vs. 2000 km driving?

-- A Polar bear is a Rectangular bear after a coordinate transform

Air travel (3.00 / 1) (#79)
by rusty on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:06:43 PM EST

I skimmed the linked PDF, but could not quickly determine whether the numbers for air travel included all air travel, or just commercial arline travel. Normally when you hear numbers about air safety, they only refer to commercial air safety. The accident rate for private pilots is much higher, and if included, would tend to change the numbers quite a bit.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
I'd say the important figure (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:27:11 PM EST

for aircraft is fatalities per trip since most accidents occur during take off or landing, those are what's important - not the # of miles flown.

For cars that's harder since cars rarely have the luxury of a 3 mile gap between cars other factors become much more important.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

cars take off (4.00 / 2) (#94)
by squinky on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:36:41 PM EST

and land many times during a trip.

Every intersection is a disaster wating to happen.

So, by that logic, they're still way safer.

[ Parent ]

Why travel? (4.00 / 2) (#231)
by bill_mcgonigle on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:49:07 PM EST

To get somewhere.  That's why most people travel.

What's the fixed variable to get somewhere, among all the modes of transportataion?  Distance.

So, fatalaties per distance is the good measure.

Also consider that it's pretty easy to get in a car wreck and wind up with a couple punctured lungs, a busted spleen, and a full body cast and not be a fatality.

Most people involved in plane wrecks are just plain dead, so if one was to compare injury rates, cars would probably perk even higher.

Planes are obviously less stable and more treacherous to fly, but the training compensates.  There's no way they'd let the idiot in front of my on the way to work this morning fly an airplane.  Good.

[ Parent ]

Good article (3.00 / 3) (#71)
by hans on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:49:07 PM EST

I really like seeing cycling getting discussed.  I'm too used to it being immediately dropped because its not 'the way.'  Be sure to fix those editorial errors; I'd like to see this get posted.

Winters (4.33 / 3) (#82)
by yamla on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:18:16 PM EST

I wish you had mentioned about how well biking can work in the winter.  I have no idea of this so I'm curious.  Here in Canada, it rarely drops below about -20C (approximately -4F) but occasionally will drop into the low -30s C (-25 - -40 F).  The cold can be nasty, of course, but what seems more important is that the roads and sidewalks tend to be covered in snow and ice during the winter and from what little experience I have, riding a bike on snow and ice is pretty much impossible, or at least difficult and dangerous.

That's cold! (3.00 / 1) (#96)
by mdabaningay on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:38:10 PM EST

I wouldn't advise cycling if their is snow (or lots of ice) on the ground. I have tried it on a mountain bike, it hurt.

[ Parent ]
snow, ice and bikes (4.00 / 2) (#115)
by lamarck on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:59:47 PM EST

I lived in Montana where you get the complete collection of snow, ice and cold, and I regularly commuted by bike. Snow isn't much of a problem, except that wet snow cakes onto the frame and brakes. Ice is tough. Studded tires are the best way to deal with ice. You can make your own with 1/2 panhead screws and a couple of cheap tires. I've heard rumours that studded tires are being sold now, I've never seen one though. Cold is always a bastard.

[ Parent ]
Moutain Equipment Co-op (3.50 / 2) (#147)
by waverleo on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:26:02 PM EST

No folks, I don't work for them, but they are one of the best companies (if not the best) in Canada. They have tons of cycling info on their (beautiful) site, cheap prices, quality goods, ethical business practices and free delivery (in Canada).

Oh, and just so I don't get listed for being off topic, they sell studded tires as well. :)

Leo

[ Parent ]

Snow, Ice, MEC (3.50 / 2) (#212)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:11:31 PM EST

Yup, riding in the winter is fun too! I used to live in Pocatello, Idaho. With studded tires on my mountain bike I was completely mobile. Deep unpacked snow is a problem, but anything less than 6 inches is no problem. Ice is a breeze with studs.

And MEC sells to members in the US also! In the last five years MEC got all the money I've spent on outdoor equipment (cycling, mountaineering, climbing, telemark skiing, backpacking). Think REI but without the yuppie posers.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Yuppie posers ... (3.50 / 2) (#222)
by waverleo on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:34:48 PM EST

Mec has more than their fair share, trust me. I've noticed that it's rather like REI but cheaper, better organised, and less commercial.

Leo

[ Parent ]

Oops (3.00 / 1) (#148)
by waverleo on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:27:50 PM EST

MEC is here

[ Parent ]
Studded tyres (4.00 / 1) (#214)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:22:05 PM EST

Studded tyres have been sold for a long time. Used to be that you had to get them from this Finnish company -- can't remember the name. Then the IRC Blizzard came on the market, about seven or eight years ago. I see on MEC, the outdoor coo-op (think the Mecca of the Outdoors, i.e. http://mec.ca/) that they have the Nokian Hakkapeliitta, a 700C (i.e. for road wheels) stdded tyre for $85 CDN (around $50 US).


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

It's possible (3.00 / 1) (#121)
by borderline on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:17:49 PM EST

But it takes a little planning and extra equipment. You will need winter tires if there's snow or ice. Still, you have to stay on the roads that (hopefully) have been cleared of the deep snow. And you will need to lower the speed somewhat and be generally more careful. A headlight is a good idea to see where you're going when it's dark. A taillight will help motorists see you. Dressing right is very important, you will need clothes that breathe. Also, cold air can be very hard on the lungs when you do anything more physically straining than just walking at a slow pace (many professional cross-country skiers get asthma because of this). If this is a problem, you can get a cool Darth Vaderish device that goes in your mouth which saves the heat of the air you exhale to heat up the air you inhale (called heat exchanger perhaps?).

[ Parent ]
Hell no (3.00 / 1) (#122)
by Rizzen on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:19:51 PM EST

Riding in the winter is the best time.  That's when you develop all your best braking (yes, people that *is* how you spell it -- learn it well) manoeveurs, including the ability to slide around a corner on one knee.  :)  It also really helps to improve your balance and handling.

The best part, though, is riding through about 4 inches of snow and feeling the way the tires get locked into a certain path.  You figure out lots of fun ways to try and turn (bunny-hopping and wheelies help a lot in deep snow).

And nothing beats the rush you get flying down a long, steep, snow-covered hill and clamping on the brakes halfway down only to slide sideways for another km or so.  :)

Like I said, winter riding is the best riding.
The years of peak mental activity are undoubtedly those between the ages of 4 and 18. At age four, we know all the questions; at eighteen, all the answers.
[ Parent ]

Fun! (3.00 / 1) (#330)
by han on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:11:29 AM EST

Yeah, riding on icy roads is fun. And what's best, with snow on the ground and winter clothes on, it doesn't hurt that much if you fall!

And nothing beats the rush you get flying down a long, steep, snow-covered hill and clamping on the brakes halfway down only to slide sideways for another km or so.

...how about when doing that, you suddenly get a car stopping at a crossroads right in front of you? Well, that's the perfect time to learn how to steer a bike that's sliding sideways :)

[ Parent ]

Face Plant! (4.00 / 1) (#376)
by Bryan Larsen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:06:45 PM EST

I used to ride regularly in the winter unless the forecast was for a wind chill higher than 2300 watts/square metre.  (-65 degrees Fahrenheit under the old system, -50F under the new one.)

Doing that made you very aware of your core body temprature.  You had to start out with several layers of clothing, and then strip down as you warmed up.  The goal was to avoid sweating, which would then freeze to your body.  I suppose modern clothes would help a lot, but they were very expensive.

I'd average about 1 flat a week.  I wonder if store-bought studded tires would be any better, but $80 a tire was a lot of cash back then.

I ended up on my butt lots during the stretch off road as I pushed my skills.  On the road I didn't push as hard because cars do not expect to see cyclists when it is -30!

My worst experience was when I did a face plant into a snow bank and got snow in my face and down my coat.  This of course melted and then refroze as I got moving again.  Luckily there was a service station not too far away where I went in to dry off.

I never did get frost bite from biking.  I did get it walking home from the bar once, but that's a different story.

Bryan

[ Parent ]

Fixed wheel (3.00 / 1) (#210)
by Verminator on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:06:28 PM EST

There ain't any snow around here so I haven't had the chance to try, but I've heard that fixed wheeled bikes with, counterintuitively, thin tires are the best in the snow. I'm thinking about getting (or making) a fixed wheeled bike myself just for kicks, maybe I'll have to take it somewhere snowy to try it out.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to misery, misery links to Satanosphere.
[ Parent ]

Fixed Wheel (3.00 / 1) (#369)
by A. Craig West on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 01:47:46 PM EST

I can verify that fixed wheel bicycles with relatively narrow tyres do work quite well in the winter. The narrow tyres tend to cut through the snow and reach down to where there is some traction. There is a limit to how deep the snow can be for this to work, however.
The fixed gear system has a couple of benefits in the winter. First, there is almost nothing that can fail due to the cold. I've had a lot of freewheels get a sticky pawl internally, causing it to freewheel both ways. This is not fun. Fixed gear bikes also give the rider better control over their traction. This can be very useful if you know what you are doing.

[ Parent ]
winter cycling (3.00 / 1) (#252)
by jefu on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 07:12:31 PM EST


My biggest problems in winter back when I was commuting by bike were the early darkness - its hard to keep batteries charged reliably.  

But that was far overshadowed by the difficulty of repairing a flat in the cold (and worse in the dark).  

[ Parent ]

See the Winter Cycling tips of rec.bicycles FAQ (4.00 / 1) (#383)
by delfstrom on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:24:03 PM EST

For winter cycling, check out section 9.10 of the rec.bicycles FAQ http://www.faqs.org/faqs/bicycles-faq/part4/section-44.html. It's based on the author's experiences cycling in Ottawa year-round.

[ Parent ]
Bicyling for the Lord (2.85 / 7) (#89)
by Sam the Eagle on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:31:37 PM EST

I use a bicycle when I'm out going from door-to-door to preach the Gospel. I find a bicycle lets me visit more houses than I would get just by walking. I start my rounds at 7:00am and by 7:00pm I've usually brought the Light of Jesus to a good fifty houses. I could not save as many people without my bicycle, and I appreciate how it lets me do the Lord's work.

John 3:16 - If you haven't accepted Him as your Savior you're condemned to eternal Hell. How have you chosen?

Poor troll (2.00 / 1) (#93)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:36:09 PM EST

First, any door-to-door evangelist would quickly realize he spent more time hopping on and off the bike than walking door to door. Second, Sam the Eagle wasn't a fundamentalist. Third, that's not John 3:16.

For God so love the world...


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Ahem (2.00 / 1) (#101)
by Sam the Eagle on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:43:40 PM EST

Although the devout are rare on K5, we're not entirely absent...just infrequent enough to assume we're trolls. Let me rebut your attempts to defame me:
  1. I don't go to each house along a street. This is inefficient. Instead our pastor provides us with a list of addresses that we believe will be most receptive to hearing the Word. Sometimes these houses are a couple of blocks down. Thus a bicycle is more efficient.
  2. Sam the Eagle (the muppet) was not fundementalist. He was my favorite muppet though.
  3. Yes the verse was incorrect. Looks like even the I can get distracted when I'm typing! Thanks for pointing it out! :)

John 3:16 - If you haven't accepted Him as your Savior you're condemned to eternal Hell. How have you chosen?
[ Parent ]

Ah, I see (2.00 / 1) (#206)
by Verminator on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:00:27 PM EST

our pastor provides us with a list of addresses that we believe will be most receptive to hearing the Word.

So it's sorta like spam then?

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to misery, misery links to Satanosphere.
[ Parent ]

Not like spam at all. (2.00 / 1) (#218)
by Sam the Eagle on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:31:09 PM EST

Spam is annoying email sent to millions of people. Our church works differently. We cull names from places like the crisis hotline we do, people who file for divorce or the newly widowed. These are the people we have found to be most in need of Christ's love, and they're the ones we seek out to speak with and console. If they choose to join us, so much the better.

John 3:16 - If you haven't accepted Him as your Savior you're condemned to eternal Hell. How have you chosen?
[ Parent ]

Spam. (2.00 / 1) (#236)
by jonny 290 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:12:46 PM EST

We cull names from places like the crisis hotline we do, people who file for divorce or the newly widowed. So do fly-by-night 'debt reduction' companies and prepaid cellular service providers, not to mention Geico Insurance and ambulance chasers. These are the people we have found to be most in need of Christ's love, Or a huge reduction in their monthly credit card payments, a quick and flexible cell phone plan that lets you CHOOSE how many minutes you want, inexpensive, easy to get insurance and justice for that eighteen-wheeler that ran you off the road! Not much difference, eh? Don't come to my door. Ever thought that if those people in need really needed to speak with you, they'd come seek YOU out?
-- brojames@ductape.net ----here to flip the script and channel your aggression inside----
[ Parent ]
Depends on the Message. (2.00 / 1) (#244)
by Christopher on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:45:47 PM EST

Okay, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, and presume you Not a Troll. But I do have reservations about going door-to-door (or your more selective visits) espousing a particular religion.

I have serious problems with using grief and misfortune as opportunities to spread the Word. I whole-heartedly support viewing grief and misfortune as occasions to reach out and support your neighbors. The difference is in the motivation: "Let me teach you about God" vs. "How can I help?" Targeted religious visits walk a very, very fine line between the two.

I have a lot of respect for religion's better sides. I'm happy for the strength and comfort it gives people. I've just run across a lot of people who value the teaching of their religion above the teachings of their religion. It's more important to them that you join their group than that it actually helps you stay healthy and happy.

_______________________________
more and more to do, less and less to prove
[ Parent ]

Not like spam at all (2.00 / 1) (#318)
by Alan Crowe on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:56:26 AM EST

I see email spam as a threat because it costs the sender much less that the recipient. The senders machine is running unattended, spewing spam, while consuming none of the spammers time. Meanwhile the millions of recipients are going through mail boxes intended for hand-typed personal messages, bulk deleting spam, and trying not lose messages intended for them.

Taking advantage someones personal difficulties to push your religion might be icky, but it is surely not the same threat as email spam. I have no fear of my physical mail box being overwhelmed by evangelists cycling round delivering religious tracts.

There are technical difficulties with the Simple Mail Transport Protocol. We need strong laws to protect port 25 from unwanted mechnically duplicated messages. Diluting the meaning of the word spam only helps the spammers.



[ Parent ]
Cycling for Christ (2.00 / 1) (#237)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:19:02 PM EST

You know, I'd much rather take door-to-door preachers over telemarketers. The preachers are doing something from their own beliefs, not to make money; and any time you remove the face-to-face aspect from an interaction, it can escalate into unpleasantness very quickly. I think that's why telemarketers are universally despised, and why road rage exists.

My standard response to preachers is that I will be glad to hear them out for 15 minutes, provided that they then listen to me for 15 minutes talking about why I'm an atheist and why there is no need to posit the existence of a supernatural entity of any sort for a reasonable explanation for every phenomenon we can observe. However, very few preachers have taken me up on my offer.

John 3:16 - If you haven't accepted Him as your Savior you're condemned to eternal Hell.
That sounds like a threat; just like the scriptures of every other religion.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

re: (3.00 / 1) (#256)
by Anon 17933 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:02:12 PM EST

Funny -- that's one of the ways my Grandfather used to get rid of JWs who would stop by the farm... that, and he would tell them that if they really wanted to "help him out" he would be happy to listen to their spiel while he worked -- but only if they would work with him.

That said, I'm a Christian -- and if I were in such a situation with you, I'd be happy to listen to your 15 minutes. I've always said that if you can't listen to what someone else has to say about your position, don't really know what you believe.

One more thing -- he's horribly misquoting John 3:16. The verse says: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life"(KJV). The message of the Gospel is a message of hope and love for a lost world -- not hellfire and damnation. Scaring people into "buying fire insurance" accomplishes nothing. Christianity is a life change, not something you do because you're afraid of hell.

[ Parent ]

The Buddhist threat is much more frightening (2.00 / 1) (#315)
by Alan Crowe on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:30:17 AM EST

That sounds like a threat; just like the scriptures of every other religion.

Buddhists frighten persons into joining their religion by claiming that it you don't take up some form of spiritual practise, then you will potter on through life much as before. What this lacks in blood curdling horror, it more than wins back in credibility :-)



[ Parent ]
Buddhism (3.00 / 2) (#398)
by phliar on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:00:57 PM EST

Buddhists frighten persons into joining their religion by claiming that it you don't take up some form of spiritual practise, then you will potter on through life much as before.
Not just that; Gautama himself said "Don't believe anything I or anyone else says, try it out and decide for yourself whether it works." Which is why i) I don't consider Buddhism a religion; and ii) I consider myself a Buddhist.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Bicycling for Atheism. (2.00 / 1) (#123)
by Matadon on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:20:39 PM EST

Just because there must be balance in the Tao, I make it a habit to wear my Landover Baptist "God is Santa Claus for Adults" tee-shirt on Sundays when I go riding around. ;)

--
"There's this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out." — Richard Dawkins.
[ Parent ]
How nice! (2.00 / 1) (#220)
by Sam the Eagle on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:32:51 PM EST

I'm glad you've found a church to belong to. I would hope you would extend that same courtesy to those of us who belong to a different organization.

John 3:16 - If you haven't accepted Him as your Savior you're condemned to eternal Hell. How have you chosen?
[ Parent ]

And how well you missed the point! (2.00 / 1) (#362)
by Matadon on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:46:07 PM EST

First of all, I don't belong to a church -- that would imply that I gather with others to worship some type of supernatural entity.  This is false.  It's like saying that because I wear a tee-shirt that I bought at the mall that I'm somehow part of a mysterious collective mall-being.

Second, I'm extending the same courtesey that you're extending to the people you're trying to "save" -- they never asked you to come to their door, interrupt their lives, and generally be a nuisance.  The difference is that I just wear a tee-shirt, and you actively go out of your way to annoy people.

--
"There's this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out." — Richard Dawkins.
[ Parent ]

Alas! No Light of Jesus! (4.50 / 2) (#215)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:27:15 PM EST

Since I do not have the Light of Jesus, I use a 40W headlight.

I believe most people don't have it either, so I also have a steady red tailight that's visible for a mile at night, supplemented with one of those flashing red LED VistaLites.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

hold up trafic? (1.42 / 7) (#98)
by boxed on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:39:01 PM EST

This story really ought to have a big ass "this applies to the US" in it. There is no problem with bikes holding up traffic here in Sweden, we have bike-roads. These roads are used by pedestrians when no cyclists are around. The US have big problems with shit like this. The govt haven't got the guts to fix the sorry state of transportation in the US. You guys need to walk, bike and take trains a LOT more.

It applies to the UK and France as well... (3.00 / 1) (#100)
by mdabaningay on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:41:37 PM EST

they both have problems with bikes and cars comingling. I would like to see examples of where traffic segregation has worked really well. The only examples I've seen so far have been completely traffic free cities. Bike roads sound good but I imagine you'd need a vast number of them.

[ Parent ]
Strasbourg... (3.00 / 1) (#152)
by doru on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:33:19 PM EST

...has fairly decent bicycle lanes. Lyon is on its way, too.


I see Rusty's creation of Scoop as being as world changing an event as the fall of the Berlin wall. - Alan Crowe
[ Parent ]

Except (2.00 / 1) (#112)
by OAB on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:56:39 PM EST

It actually applies to the UK.

[ Parent ]
Number 1 European misconception about the U.S. (3.00 / 1) (#139)
by epepke on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:52:47 PM EST

I become truly weary of this. The U.S. is big. There are four time zones on the continental U.S. alone. As a result, the U.S. works much like what you'd be able to figure out if you thought about it for a nanosecond or two: nearly everything varies from place to place. Some places are extremely bicycle-friendly, with bike roads and paths built in. Other places aren't. Some places have great public transportation. Other places don't.

So, fine, Sweden has bike roads. But there are places in the U.S. that are bigger and more populous than Sweden that also have bike roads. It would make much more sense to compare Europe as a whole to the U.S., and in that case, well, many places in Europe, including the U.K. and France aren't particularly bike-friendly. I once tried to go on a cycling tour in Scotland, and I was quite alarmed at how bike-hostile the roads were.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
BJ Bjorgenfjorgen knows whats best for America! (3.50 / 2) (#146)
by illerd on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:20:30 PM EST

Lots of US towns have bike roads. They have them where my grandparents live. However, most US towns have bike lanes, which seem to work fine. Where I live, the bike lanes are as big as the car lanes. Separate bike roads would be nice, but if the city is already built, where are you going to put them? This is an option in the new suburbs that are going up all over the place in the US, but not for existing towns. Bike lanes work fine and there's a lot of them here. "IN SVEEDEN VE HAVE BIKEROADS! VE ARE SO MUCH SMARTER THAN FAT LAZY AMERICANS! VE VALK AND VE RIDE TRAINS VICH ARE MORE EFFECIENT!" Try not to be such a smarmy ass. Trains suck here because cars have always been faster because the distances are too great to maintain highspeed rail. Maybe if freeways hadn't blown up the way they did in the 50s and 60s then the passenger rail industry might have gotten out of the industrial age. But it didn't. And there's nothing we can do about it now. Amtrak, the US passenger rail carrier, is going bankrupt.

Yeah, America sucks, but that doesn't give uppity Euro-pricks like you the right to tell 'us guys' what to do. What works there doesn't necessarily work here. "The govt haven't go the guts..." You obviously don't understand American politics so I'll clue you in. Industry influences government. Industry makes cars. Government encourages driving. That, and, oh yeah, Americans like to drive. Any politician with the 'guts' to change that isn't going to get re-elected.

"You guys need to walk, bike and take trains a LOT more."

You need to shut up you stupida FACE!

[ Parent ]
hehe (4.00 / 1) (#160)
by boxed on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:46:10 PM EST

That would be a german accent I think :P
Trains suck here because cars have always been faster because the distances are too great to maintain highspeed rail
That makes no sense. Trains are more time and cost effective the longer the distances. You just can't keep up 150k/h for 24 hours straight with a car. Much less with the same amount of cars it would take to cram all the people who fit into the train. Subways don't work in much of the US because you have those chinese-style massive villages. Cities like New York are the only type of cities where subways work, you're right on that one, but not becauase of distances, but because of the density of the population.
That, and, oh yeah, Americans like to drive. Any politician with the 'guts' to change that isn't going to get re-elected.
True enough, but Americans also like to oh, yea, they want to be independant, which they just can't be while the arab world holds them by their nuts because they drive around the block to pick up some milk. The US just needs to realize that the two things are interconnected. When the US sets their mind to something, we all know from experience that it gets done FAST. WWII and the dotcom craze, for example, showed that clearly.

[ Parent ]
i like trains (3.00 / 1) (#173)
by illerd on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:13:33 PM EST

Don't get me wrong. Trains are indeed the answer. They're effecient and fast. I wasn't trying to point out the flaws in trains, I was trying to explain why trains haven't caught on here, and why they probably won't. American trains are alot slower than European trains. They have pretty quick ones running up and down the east cost but everywhere else trains go slower than cars. It takes me 8 hours to drive from where I live in California to my family in Oregon. I've done that trip by train and it took 13 hours. It takes <2 hours to drive from here to San Francisco, while the train takes about 3 hours. That's the killer right there. If people rode trains, then the industry would progress and trains would get faster, which would encourage people to ride trains more. However, as it stands now, trains take longer and are more expensive than driving in 95% of the US. So people don't take trains and the industry doesn't progress. It's very simple. Maybe when Amtrak dies some capable private rail operaters will take its place and speed up the rails, but right now trains are dead. <br>
As for that 'massive chinese-style villages' remark, I have no idea what you're talking about. If you're talking about the suburbs, then yes, you're right, you can't put subways there. So way do we do instead? We put the subway above ground. Most if not all major US cities have some kind of rail-based public transportation. Only the really big ones go to the trouble of putting it underground.

[ Parent ]
Bah (3.00 / 1) (#378)
by NDPTAL85 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:38:33 PM EST

The Arab world only thinks they have us by the nuts. Should they realistically try to withold the oil, we'll bomb them to all heck and back then go over there and pump it ourselves. Or move some other folks there and pay them to do so. Seriously, we're reasearching hybrid vehicles which will greatly reduce our gas consumption and then alternative fuel which will eliminate it completely. Within a century the Middle East oil empire will be completely gone.

[ Parent ]
Think of the US as a confederation of countries. (4.00 / 1) (#195)
by libertine on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:46:31 PM EST

I think that will explain why "everything ain't the same there".  In the US, there are over 50 states (which used to be nations) with their own rules, customs, and standards- then there are US protectorates (all the benefits of statehood, none of the taxes).  US states are probably more analogous to individual EU nations.  Counties in the US could be compared to provinces in Sweden or other European countries.  Two big differences come up between the US and the EU- population density, and space to cover.

Problem is, mass public transit works best when you have the population density to support it.  Otherwise, its just a big money pit.  Really, the US doesn't have the kind of population density to even support coast to coast trains...the train system itself was never intended to move large amounts of people quickly; it was designed to move a great deal of cheap freight in a timely, but not speedy, fashion.  This is why some folks here invented the airplane.  And the US just decommissioned the last "public" coast-to-coast train route (reasons- underutilized, very slow, and more expensive than airplane fare).  When you leave the interstate level, it is up to that state (read nation) to make things work for themselves.  That is up to their citizens and the tax burden they can maintain.

I mean, it would be great if we could just walk over a mountain and be on the other side of the nation- over here, I *might* be on the other side of a county if I did that.  Instead, I have to take a 4 hour plane trip (not including time at the airport, just air time here) to get across the US.  Or I could hop on a bus, take my car, or ride my bike (many states are ok with bikes on highways) the necessary amount of hours or days just to cross my state.

Now that there is some perspective on scale not so humbly offered by yours truly, I would like to explain that there are some areas of the US that are very bike friendly, or have good public transit, or both.  You probably aren't going to find that in the majority of US states, though.  I wouldn't expect every nation in the EU to be the same either.


"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

Much like the EU. (1.00 / 1) (#200)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:55:14 PM EST


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Much like the EU. (1.00 / 1) (#202)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:56:16 PM EST


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Oh, look an echo. (2.00 / 1) (#204)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:58:02 PM EST

Sigh. Apologies, all.


--
Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


[ Parent ]

Think of germany as a confederation of countries (3.00 / 1) (#211)
by boxed on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:08:27 PM EST

I think that will explain why "everything ain't the same there". In Germany, there are over 16 states (which used to be nations) with their own rules, customs, and standards. And dude, if you're gonna try to convince me with facts of your country don't say "over 50 states" when there's exactly 50 states.
the train system itself was never intended to move large amounts of people quickly; it was designed to move a great deal of cheap freight in a timely, but not speedy, fashion. This is why some folks here invented the airplane.
Time for you to go back to history class I think. Airplanes where invented to fulfill a dream, and they continued to be nothing but expensive toys for decades.
Now that there is some perspective on scale not so humbly offered by yours truly, I would like to explain that there are some areas of the US that are very bike friendly, or have good public transit, or both. You probably aren't going to find that in the majority of US states, though. I wouldn't expect every nation in the EU to be the same either.
I guess you wouldn't. You would be surprised though.

[ Parent ]
49, 50-51,53, who's counting? (3.00 / 1) (#223)
by libertine on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:39:01 PM EST

Sorry for my lacking grammar, since I should have written that better to include something like "over 50 states and assorted protectorates, counted together".  And, if you are speaking in a friendly and humorous manner, over "50 states" is jokingly intended to mean the nearest country to your state, since the borders are fairly lax.  Then again, I need sleep.  And the internet bears no generosity to colloquiallisms.

Still, you fail to address how Americans should "get it together".  When you come up with a public transit solution that can span something much larger than the EU, let me know.  I will personally lobby Congress to get the Constitution changed so you can run for President.  Well, you could just come to California and run for governor, and still remain a German citizen :).  Come to think of it, CA qualifies to join the EU...

As for the planes, well, that is a difference of opinion.  The first coast-to-coast flight, transatlantic crossing, etc, are still things to memorize here in history class.  Toys to you where you live, important to me where I live.  Given the choice of driving or flying from SF to NYC, I would rather sell one of my teeth than drive a round trip across the US again.



"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

no way! (4.00 / 1) (#254)
by demi on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 07:26:36 PM EST

Given the choice of driving or flying from SF to NYC, I would rather sell one of my teeth than drive a round trip across the US again.

If I had to make that trip on a regular basis, and time was of the essence, I'd probably take a flight instead. But how could you not enjoy a cross-country road trip? It's the seminal American experience! Take some friends, warm beer, emotional baggage, and a lot of bad directions, and you've got yourself The Grand Tour.

[ Parent ]

Bike roads -- Question about Sweden (3.00 / 1) (#224)
by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:41:27 PM EST

I really do believe that these problems are universal. Perhaps in Sweden you think you have the problem solved: as you say, "Bike-roads are used by pedestrians when no cyclists are around." This is enough reason for me to not ride on a bike road, since pedestrians are not predictable. I cannot ride at 40 kph if I share the path with pedestrians, who walk their dogs, stop to talk to friends, tie their bootlaces etc.

Are cyclists prohibited from using the main roads in Sweden? I feel the biggest problem in the US is that some municipalities have passed laws that say that if there is a bike path nearby, cyclists must use it and are not allowed to ride in the street.

I suspect I will be happier in the US (western US, where the streets are wide enough that cyclists can safely share the road) than in Sweden, in spite of our sorry state of transportation. I work 30 miles (50 km) from home; I can ride my bike 2 miles (3 km) to the train station, take the bike with me on the train with no special arrangements, and get to work in an hour. (I live in San Francisco.)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Editorial (3.00 / 3) (#108)
by p3d0 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:53:00 PM EST

Sorry, I just have to mention your comma splice problem. Here's one of your "sentences":
Environmental benefits are worth considering, cycling is an extremely resource efficient method of transport [2], bicycles take less resources to manufacture and consume far less resources getting from A to B.
This is actually three sentences joined incorrectly by commas. That's not their job; that's what periods, colons, and semicolons are for.

While we're picking apart this sentence,

  1. I think "resource efficient method" should be hyphenated, thus: "resource-efficient method".
  2. "less resources" should be "fewer resources". "Less" is singular, as in "less milk", while "fewer" is plural.

--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
a reminder (none / 0) (#424)
by eudas on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:14:00 PM EST

please remember next time to select 'comment type = editorial'.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

My own experiences as a cyclist-commuter (3.75 / 4) (#109)
by ClassicG on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:53:53 PM EST

I've been cycling back and forth from work for almost two years now, and I don't think I'd trade the experience for anything. The distance is just a little too far to comfortably walk (30-40 min), but it makes a quick and easy trip ten minute trip on my bike. The biggest problem I have with it is that, being in Canada, I'm not able to do so year-round. The two main reasons are weather, as you might expect, and one that's even worse that you might not think of: the lack of daylight on the way home during the winter months. Still though, I've been able to cycle virtually every day from April to December these past couple years.

I follow the 'a bicycle is a vehicle' school of thought, and keep to the roads as if I was driving a car when I'm on the bike. One unique advantage that a cycle has over a motorized vehicle though is that it allows me to get off the bike and become a pedestrian when it is my advantage - crossing a busy street is often a lot easier at a crosswalk for example. Other than this though, I follow the rules of the road strictly - it really peeves me to see people driving bikes on the sidewalk or something else as idiotic. Maybe I'm being a little too anal about it, but I won't even go the wrong way on a one-way street on the bike, but instead either go around or (more likely) get off the bike and walk it down the sidewalk.

watch out for rude people in cars (3.33 / 3) (#110)
by Stalke on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:54:55 PM EST

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is how much people in cars sometimes behave as if bikers are some sort of target on the road. Last summer when I was commuting it wasn't uncommon for some sort of event to happen about once a week. This ranged from people throwing their garbage out of their car right as they passed me, someone shouting profanity at me (this had nothing to do with me biking, they just started swearing at me and this continued all through a stoplight), to people honking their horn just as they passed me. While some of this you just shake off, other acts are borderline assault. The other thing I noticed is that this mainly happens in subburbs. Nothing like this happened when I commuted in a city even though traffic wise it was a lot busier. I think it has to do with the fact that in cities you have people that are a lot better drivers. I actually feel safer biking in a city because the drivers there _have_ to have more skill than people in the burbs.

the easiest way to survive... (3.00 / 1) (#144)
by littledriel on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:13:56 PM EST

My commute takes me 45 minutes, including train time and 5 miles by bike through busy city, and I generally ride 3 or 4 days a week.

I find the easiest way to make it without having any problems, is to make eye contact with every driver that crosses your path. Motorists seem to believe if they ignore me, I will stop existing and they can go back to driving like jerks. If you catch their eye and hold it, for at least a split second, they are forced to acknowledge you as another human being, and will generally start to look out for you as well.

The one exception I've experienced was a guy who tried to hit me in a cross walk, he was absolutely convinced cars have the right of way in crosswalks. I hope someone hits him someday.

without confrontation, there is no postation -Felixxxxxxxxxxx
[ Parent ]
haha (2.00 / 1) (#185)
by fhotg on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:38:44 PM EST

If you catch their eye and hold it, for at least a split second, they are forced to acknowledge you as another human being, and will generally start to look out for you as well.
rely on this and be roadkill soon.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]
I'd like to add (4.33 / 3) (#114)
by demi on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:59:18 PM EST

that I'm a bike commuter in a city. My commute is manageable, but there are some reasons why it might not be for everyone:
  • I don't have to wear nice clothes to work, and if even if I chose to, it wouldn't matter if I came in dripping with sweat or rain

  • I can work whatever hours I please (I prefer off-peak commuting)

  • I can ride the sidewalks and bike trails much of the way, whereas sidewalk riding is illegal in most places and bike trails (much less paths) are often not convenient

  • I'm an experienced mountain bike racer and I'm in good shape

  • I'm able to keep my bike inside my place of work, in a location where I can keep an eye on it

  • I have memorized all of the light cycles at every intersection along my commute

  • It doesn't get very cold where I live

  • I watch the road for myself and the drivers: do not trust them to keep an eye out for you, or even to obey the most trivial traffic laws!

I've loved bike riding since I was a kid, but I also drive places, love cars, etc.

I used to work with a fellow bike commuter, a roadie, that I got along with wonderfully at first. Besides the occasional incompatibility between the attitudes of off-roaders and roadies, there is another type of bike rider that hurts our public image: the hardcore car-hater. These are the people that want everyone to think that most or all of their vehicle use could easily be replaced with bike riding, which I just do not think is true. Not everyone has the time to spare, not everyone is in good shape, not everyone can get dirty on the way to work and just brush themselves off. And even a bike with 10 pannier bags cannot accomodate the size of your average American's weekly load of groceries.

As for your recommendations, I'd add that unless you know you can keep your bike in a safe, dry place while you are at work, don't plan on making bike commuting a regular occurrence. Also, if you must lock up the bike outside, no matter what kind of lock you have, count on some vandalism or attempted theft happening if your bike is a nice one.

Simply you ride as if you were driving a slow, narrow vehicle, obeying the traffic rules, giving proper signals and expecting other drivers to treat you as such.

Hmm. I would add that you should only take extended rides on thoroughfares where your cycling speed can reach 75% of the observed (not posted) speed limit, or else you should stick to the shoulders or sidewalks.

I'd like to argue (5.00 / 1) (#274)
by driptray on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:16:16 PM EST

there is another type of bike rider that hurts our public image: the hardcore car-hater. These are the people that want everyone to think that most or all of their vehicle use could easily be replaced with bike riding, which I just do not think is true. Not everyone has the time to spare, not everyone is in good shape, not everyone can get dirty on the way to work and just brush themselves off. And even a bike with 10 pannier bags cannot accomodate the size of your average American's weekly load of groceries.

The issue is that cities have been built around the car. The causation runs both ways - everything is far away because everybody has a car, and everybody has a car because everything is far away.

Cycling advocates argue that if everybody rode bikes, the design of the cities would change to accomodate this. People would start developing commercial buildings nearer to residential areas, and population densities would increase.

When your shops are less than 1km away you can do your shopping every day, and thus you don't need to carry large amounts. For big items (furniture etc) you can get things delivered.

It is possible for virtually everybody to ride a bike for most of their transport needs, but the design of the city must support this, as it does in many non-US cities. Cycling advocates are just trying to jump-start this process.

I would add that you should only take extended rides on thoroughfares where your cycling speed can reach 75% of the observed (not posted) speed limit, or else you should stick to the shoulders or sidewalks.

Firstly, overtaking (faster) traffic is not generally a danger to cyclists. The cars behind you are not the ones you have to worry about. The danger is intersections, just like it is for cars. The safest place for a cyclist to be at intersections is out in the middle of the lane with the cars. That's where people are looking for traffic, and that's where the road rules make it clear what you and everybody else's behaviour should be. It's also what all the statistics on bicycle safety confirm as the safest place to be.

Riding on the sidewalk (or even in the bike lane) has been shown to be more dangerous. It doesn't avoid the danger of intersections, and in fact makes them worse. All it avoids is the danger of overtaking traffic, which is extremely minimal anyway. It's this fear of overtaking traffic that seems to weigh on most people's minds - banish the fear, and concentrate on those cars in front of you.

A wealth of statistics supporting this is available at John Forester's web site.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

disagree (5.00 / 1) (#350)
by demi on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:24:56 AM EST

primarily with this contention:

The issue is that cities have been built around the car. The causation runs both ways - everything is far away because everybody has a car, and everybody has a car because everything is far away.

Suburbs were being built long before the mass production and proliferation of cars began in the 1920's. The driving force, by far, was the high price of city real estate and sustenance compared to the cost of living in the outskirts, which allowed middle class and working class laborers to own a suburban home and ride the train to work. Definitely, the availability of cars helped the suburbs populate and expand from 1950 on, but it was the commuter train that started city flight, not the car. But really, this point is moot.

When your shops are less than 1km away you can do your shopping every day, and thus you don't need to carry large amounts. For big items (furniture etc) you can get things delivered.

It is possible for virtually everybody to ride a bike for most of their transport needs, but the design of the city must support this, as it does in many non-US cities. Cycling advocates are just trying to jump-start this process.

Yes, and there is the problem that riding is much more time consuming than driving (unless your commute is extremely short distance-wise, or if you must face egregious morning traffic over a short distance). If the commute is more than 5 miles, you will become (somewhat) tired, hot, and sweaty. If you are a professional that works in the local business or marketing sector (for example) you will also need to do a lot of traveling to various parts of a city every day and still look presentable, which is not compatible with riding. If you enjoy a hobby such as, say, canoeing, how will you transport your watercraft 20 miles each weekend? Rent a U-Haul every time?

Also, you are advocating a complete re-design of our cities toward higher densification - something that many people have deliberately wished to avoid by moving away from urban centers. Not everyone is peachy keen with city life. Some people, a lot of people actually, like houses with yards, lawn sculptures, and the rest of the tacky accoutrements. And as long as living in the city is more expensive than living outside of it, which is often the case, people will go where they can afford the house they are satisfied with.

Overall, I agree that more bike riding is a good thing, but I don't believe that cities should be designed around riders. You could make the same arguments for foot traffic; it doesn't hurt anyone to walk 15 blocks to pick up their groceries, laundry, and library books, but given the choice most people would not do it.

[ Parent ]

sidewalk riding. (4.00 / 1) (#403)
by gromm on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:38:10 AM EST

Hmm. I would add that you should only take extended rides on thoroughfares where your cycling speed can reach 75% of the observed (not posted) speed limit, or else you should stick to the shoulders or sidewalks.

If you're riding at only about 10-15 Km/h (or less) it's worth noting that you can ride closer than normal to the parked cars on the curb (ie, within inches) because the damage to you is minimal if you get a door prize. At 30Km/h or more, then it's worth your time to take up the lane because a) you're going almost as fast as the rest of traffic anyway, and b) if you get a door prize, you're more likely to suffer serious injury or death.

It's also worth noting that at higher speeds, not only are you not protected by large amounts of steel, you're not protected by crumple zones so the impact is entirely borne by your body, thus more serious than you'd expect from a car accident. Something as simple as running into a car that's pulling out of a driveway or someone's open door can be fatal.
Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]

HILLS! (3.00 / 2) (#119)
by hypno on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:06:13 PM EST

They are the only thing stopping me from cyling everwhere within my small town. It's on the coast, inside a steep valley, and i live on the top of one of these hills, making cycling back home an unpleasant prospect. What's needed is a cheap electrically-assisted bicycle.

how about this (4.00 / 1) (#342)
by animal on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:52:17 AM EST

electric motor assistance to add to a bike zeta III cheap and will help with the hills.

[ Parent ]
Cycling...good! Suburbans...bad! (4.60 / 5) (#120)
by Matadon on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:08:24 PM EST

I cycle to work more often than not (well, until the rear derailleur broke on my commuter bike, but it'll be fixed soon), and I have the following observations:

  1. During rush-two-and-a-half-hours, it takes me only slightly longer to ride the 18 miles to work on my bicycle than to drive the 15 miles to work in my car (freeway provides a slightly shorter route).  The same applies for going home, and I don't need to waste any more time getting a cardiovascular workout during the week (freeing up time for more beer drinking).

  2. I'm sweaty when I get to work, but not that much -- morning commutes are cool, and that takes care of most of the perspiration.  Although we have a small shower at my office, I usually just take fifteen minutes in the bathroom to give myself a quick washcloth-bath, towel myself off, and change into dry clothing.

  3. During the winter, I generate enough body heat to easily keep me warm.  Rain gets a bit irritating, but more for the lousy drivers than for being wet.  Getting wet isn't that bad; it's just being cold and wet that hurts, and with appropriate gear (Gore-tex jacket and pants), that's not really much of a problem.

  4. I arrive home happy and much more relaxed than if I had driven to work.  Actually, that's an understatement.  I arrive home in a good mood, rather than wanting to grab my .45 to do some "traffic calming" of my own.

  5. Since I started cycling, I lost two inches off my waist and gained a lot of muscle tone.  I go to the gym about two or three days a week for about an hour a session, and I'm in better shape than the people that lift for hours and hours but never do heavy cardio.

  6. I get the best parking; I lean my bike against my desk. *grin*



--
"There's this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out." — Richard Dawkins.
Relaxing? (3.00 / 1) (#130)
by bouncing on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:35:29 PM EST

I arrive home happy and much more relaxed than if I had driven to work. Actually, that's an understatement. I arrive home in a good mood, rather than wanting to grab my .45 to do some "traffic calming" of my own.
This was how I used to feel when I lived in a bicycle-friendly city. Now that I live in a car-based city (moved cuz of job), I feel relaxed when I use my car and stressed when I bike. Why? Because all the motorists in the state of Texas are ignorant, stupid, arrogant, and drive Chevy Suburbans.

aaah. I miss bicycle friendly cities/states. But at least Texas has more smog. Oh wait. That's a bad thing.

[ Parent ]

which texas city? Austin's not too bad (3.00 / 1) (#156)
by jlinwood on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:42:26 PM EST

I don't use my bike for commuting, because half of my commute would be down a windy semi-rural road with no shoulders, overgrown vegetation, blind curves, and SUV's and work trucks. Also it would be 10 or so miles each way.  If I worked downtown, near the Univ Texas campus, or anywhere else in the center city or northwest hills, I would probably ride to work one or two days a week to get some exercise.

As it is, I just started using a hybrid bike to get some exercise around Austin.  If you lived in the suburbs or anywhere besides central Austin, I don't think bicycle commuting would be a viable option.

What's really needed in the USA is to get rid of strict zoning regulations that force residences and services to be a mile apart in the suburbs.  If you could walk down to the grocery store, you'd probably do it, right?  The money we'd save on health care and vast seas of parking would more than pay for the additional infrastructure.

[ Parent ]

San Antonio (3.00 / 1) (#167)
by bouncing on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:07:27 PM EST

I live in San Antonio, TX and moved from Boulder, CO. Not only are the drivers ignorant, arrogant, and rude, but in many cases the ONLY thru streets are INTERSTATES.

[ Parent ]
good old SA (none / 0) (#386)
by eudas on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:28:13 PM EST

i used to live in san antonio as well and i can't imagine trying to bike in SA like i do in Austin; it's just too fucking spread out. Not to mention that San Antonio doesn't believe in things like grass or trees; cement rules the day, and therefore they get temperatures of 110F in the summer while austin is still trying to break 100. (Not to mention that all that impermeable surface prevents rainwater, the little they get, from soaking into the ground which desperately cries out for it.)

But I digress.

San Antonio is just too fucking big for practical biking IMO, and I agree, zoning needs to be fixed so that businesses and residential areas can be mingled. That being said, the two also need to learn to live together so they don't end up in a continual war as well.

But I digress again.

that's my $0.02, with an extra $0.02 thrown in for free.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

On the subject of red lights, stop signs (4.80 / 5) (#128)
by bouncing on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:25:05 PM EST

To all you motorists out there bitching about how cyclists run red lights and stop signs: Do you jay walk as a pedestrian? Crossing a street without a signal is illegal for a pedestrian to do. But everyone does it anyway, right? Well, why? Because it's an easy judgement call to make that it's safe. It's likely safer than using a signal because again ignorant and arrogant motorists will make right hand turns even when pedestrians are in the cross walk.

Moreover, many cyclists take the accurate attitude that the traffic laws were designed for cars by motorists and they're taking extra measures to assure their safety. If you were, for example, driving on an interstate and two barrels fell out of the pickup truck in front of you, you might dodge the barrels by swerving into the HOV lane (car pool lane). You would have committed a few traffic infringements: changing lanes without signaling, riding in an HOV lane without multiple passengers, and probably changing lanes too quickly (illegal in some states).

Cyclists "blowing off" stop lights is the same: it's a preemptive measure against the arrogant and ignorant motorists waiting at the queue. If you wait for a traffic light, the motorist behind you will try to illegally pass you in the intersection: a very dangerous proposition. Have you ever noticed that those fucking stupidly designed SUV mirrors that go a foot out are perfectly level with a cyclists' head? By speeding away from the queue of cars at a stop light, you are preempting the pending accident of the cars over taking you in the intersection. When they light turns green, you're safely out of the zone when motorists act their stupidest: intersections. Is it illegal? Yes. But it's the only practical way to avoid the biggest problem with bicycle commuting: the 99.99% of drivers who act like they're out to kill you.

My question for all you motorists is: have you ever passed a bicycle illegally? And in case you didn't know, any time you pass a cyclists without changing one whole lane to the left, you pass him illegally. That means if you are behind a cyclist on a stretch of two-lane highway with no passing zones, you stay behind that cyclist for the duration of the no passing zone. Unless this describes how you drive, you're just as guilty as us cyclists in terms of breaking traffic law. The difference is, we're trying to keep our heads attached to our bodies at the expense of your ego. You're trying to save two minutes at the expense of road safety.

Way to take the high road. No pun intended.

Jaywalking isn't illegal in most of the US (2.00 / 1) (#137)
by RyoCokey on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:47:36 PM EST

Only in cities where specific laws have been passed. It's legal everywhere else.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
[ Parent ]
Passing on the left of a cyclist is allowed (3.00 / 1) (#180)
by Roman on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:29:10 PM EST

If you drive at least 1.5 meters away from a cyclist you can pass on the left.

[ Parent ]
In what state (3.00 / 1) (#299)
by bouncing on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:31:09 AM EST

If you drive at least 1.5 meters away from a cyclist you can pass on the left.
In what state/country? In most US states, you are required to treat a cyclist just like any other slow moving vehicle. Anyway, 1.5 meters is very nearly a lane change anyway.

[ Parent ]
Here's a question (3.00 / 1) (#209)
by EngnrGuy on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:04:24 PM EST

Yesterday, in heavy traffic on a route I usually don't take home, I passed a cyclist (legally, full lane change) who then proceded to pass me on the curb at the next red light.  So I had to pass him again a couple blocks on.  Next red light, there he is squeezing by on the right.  This becomes frustrating after a while, and dangerous to both parties I would think.  Do you know if it is legal for cyclists to pass stopped traffic on the right?  (This is in N. America.)

I used to cycle commute a lot, retired my road bike with over 10,000 km on it last year.  But the majority of my cycling was 10+ years ago when it wasn't so popular.  With so many more cyclist on the road now, you see an increasing amount of things like this that I consider just foolish on the cyclists part.

One thing I will say, my years of riding definitely makes me give extra room to cyclists on busy roads.  Getting clipped is no fun.

[ Parent ]

Illegal Passing on the part of the cyclist (3.00 / 1) (#301)
by bouncing on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:33:45 AM EST

Next red light, there he is squeezing by on the right.
Yes, this is illegal. However, motorists also get angry when cyclists stick to the center of a lane and do not stay-right. Depending on what country/state you live in, staying right is required, optional, or illegal.

But passing, by the cyclist or by the car, requires a complete lane. Many cyclists choose to ignore this law, and even as a cyclist, it annoys me too.

[ Parent ]

Not necessarily illegal (3.00 / 1) (#406)
by phliar on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:30:58 AM EST

Next red light, there he is squeezing by on the right.

Yes, this is illegal. ... passing, by the cyclist or by the car, requires a complete lane.

Depends on your jurisdiction. In California it is legal as long as it can be done safely and without leaving the roadway (solid white line on the right, if one is painted).

"Safely" is of course a judgement call. CHP officers have been known to ticket for this, as well as do it themselves.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

You can't ask the laws you break to protect you. (4.00 / 2) (#253)
by Christopher on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 07:16:05 PM EST

You have a good point comparing running red lights and stop signs to jaywalking. Both illegal, both dangerous, but both widely accepted as normal.

But I disagree with the notion that breaking traffic laws is simply "defensive bicycle riding". I've nearly hit two cyclists in the last week simply because they ignored stop signs. And I can't count how many cyclists I've seen nearly killed because they decided it was "safe" to cross an intersection against the signal.

The rules of the road keep us safe because they keep our actions predictable. When you break the rules at your convenience, you do something unexpected. Surprising motorists (or other cyclists!) invites injury or death.

Now, I rode my bike to and from campus for 5 years. I've dealt with problem drivers and bike-hostile roads. But you have to pick a set of rules and stick with them. Assume every driver is crazy if you like (I do), but ignoring traffic laws makes it very difficult for motorists to stay out of your way.

_______________________________
more and more to do, less and less to prove
[ Parent ]

Types of bicycles (4.00 / 4) (#133)
by thebrix on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:38:13 PM EST

Heavens, he was ranting on about this sort of thing when I last read the Mirror in anger. That must have been about 1987! Are columnists' views usually cast in concrete? The gradual takeover of newspapers by opinions, frequently unencumbered by either experience or knowledge, is one of the reasons why I stopped reading them ...

Back to the topic; you don't say anything about the type of bicycle, and it sometimes matters.

I do a complex commute; bicycle (1 mile) - train (8 minutes) - train (25 minutes) - bicycle (2 miles). All in about 70 minutes either way, and the fact that the bicycle folds is vital; a normal bicycle would never get on the first train as that journey is 'with the flow' of people into London. There is no way I would attempt to go the whole way by bicycle; I tried to cut out the first train journey, and the roads to the intermediate station were in such poor condition I decided doing so was unsafe.

I strongly recommend the Brompton; it folds into a shape smaller than either a pram or those huge wobbling cases with pullout handles which people drag around, and its behaviour is excellent with no instability and tremendous acceleration, far greater than a conventional bicycle. It can also be put in a bag and taken inside the office, rather than being left vulnerable in a bicycle shed or out in the open.

The great irony about that 70 minutes is that traffic in London is so appalling it actually takes longer by car ...

Brompton (3.00 / 1) (#164)
by demi on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:53:38 PM EST

I was very impressed with how easy and stable it is to ride the Brompton considering its cost (around $700-1000 I think). Have you ever ridden a Moulton? They are really amazing (and quite costly, like $3,000-6,000).

[ Parent ]
About 10 years ago (3.00 / 1) (#168)
by thebrix on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:08:40 PM EST

Yes, the Moulton is an even more remarkable design, although it doesn't fold, and the suspension really makes a difference although, for me, the gearing on the one I tried was all wrong (that can be reasonably easily fixed, though). Unfortunately, it's virtually uninsurable here; the Brompton just fits onto the house insurance.

I also tried an Airnimal which felt even better than the Brompton; however, it's about twice as expensive and, again, insurance was a problem. If my journey was longer I'd definitely have considered it.

It's strange that all these ingenious bicycles are developed and manufactured in the United Kingdom ... not a cycle-friendly country!

[ Parent ]

Memories (3.00 / 1) (#177)
by pmc on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:22:27 PM EST

I used to commute into London too - 12 minute walk to the station, 45 minutes into Liverpool Street, and then a bus ride (10 to 60 minutes), tube ride (16 to 50 minutes) , or walk (35 minutes). Eventually I got bored with the transport lottery and got a Brompton - a guaranteed 12 minutes door to door.

This made an enormous difference. If I left work at half past five to get the bus then it was probably 50-50 if I got my train at 6:10. After getting the bike I knew that I could leave at ten to six and definitely (barring punctures) get the train. Bikes are pretty immune to congestion, and the congestion in central London has to be seen to be believed.

[ Parent ]

an alternative approach to safety (4.80 / 1) (#143)
by fhotg on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:12:04 PM EST

DO us appropriate protective equipment; helmet, reflective strips and lights.
That visibility gear makes only sense if you think that motorists won't kill you if they can see you. Unfortunately in many places (Ontario comes to mind) drivers are not able to deal with cyclists. Some think you should behave like a pedestrian, they have problems gaging the distance when overtaking you, and won't register you, even if you're bright like a christmas tree, because the sheer existence of cyclists on the road poses a challenge to their reality-tunnel. Don't even think about advanced skills like having the 'blind-spot' in mind when checking traffic behind you.

You need a different mindset here to survive:

  • Drivers don't see you
  • If they see you anyways, they don't mind killing you or
  • If they don't want to kill you they're likely to do it anyways because they're stupid bad drivers
  • from this follows:
  • Sticking to the rules (red lights etc.) doesn't improve your safety, relying on the rules is suicidal
  • You have to think for the drivers and regard every vehicle as a thread
  • Vehicle behaviour is not ruled by common sense of the driver or traffic laws. Regard them as driven by robots where a part of the AI was replaced with a random-number generator
  • All you can rely on to predict vehicle movement is physics (speed, impulse, inertia ...)
  • Drive in video-game mode: Get through fast and don't get hit is the only rule
  • If you cycle this way, it is for example easier and safer to be completely invisible at night. That is, because if drivers don't see you, they're easier to predict than if they see you.
    ~~~
    Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

    Exactly the opposite problem (3.00 / 1) (#183)
    by thebrix on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:36:43 PM EST

    The strange thing is that, in Surrey (SW of London), drivers are the opposite; they see you only too well and are unsure about what to do. It gets rather annoying someone crawling along behind you in a big car when they could easily overtake ...

    A previous K5 post by me has a lot to say about driving standards, and why they are often poor.

    [ Parent ]

    same problem (4.00 / 1) (#191)
    by fhotg on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:43:30 PM EST

    different symptom. They just don't know how to handle you. If that (someone crawling behind you) happens to me, I sometimes stop and demonstratively wave them by. Not those who crawl behind me and honk though.
    ~~~
    Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

    [ Parent ]
    Onto the pavement (3.00 / 1) (#198)
    by thebrix on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:51:35 PM EST

    Yes, in this situation the only solution has sometimes been to go onto a pavement (cut to massed ranks of newspaper columnists collectively chewing the carpet :) to completely clear the road and let the ditherer past ...

    [ Parent ]
    right (3.00 / 1) (#292)
    by fhotg on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:54:24 AM EST

    and btw., using the pavement when appropriate is integral part of my cycling style. You gotta use all space available. That's also the reason I use a thick wheeled stable frame nearly MTB bike in the city, it makes jumping on and of the pavement easier.
    ~~~
    Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

    [ Parent ]
    I think I missed the connection (2.00 / 1) (#351)
    by irksome on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:29:07 AM EST

    How did we get from a discussin on bicycling to the implication that newspaper columnists are a bunch of carpet munchers? ;)

    -
    I think I am, therefore I'm not.
    [ Parent ]

    I've had that happen (3.00 / 1) (#192)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:44:49 PM EST

    in someways it's worse than having them blast past you - knowing they're back there, waiting for their patience to run out and then blast past me - it makes me paranoid.


    --
    Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


    [ Parent ]

    May I sig you? (3.50 / 2) (#280)
    by hesk on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:27:23 PM EST


    Sticking to the rules (red lights etc.) doesn't improve your safety, relying on the rule
    [
    Parent ]
    I feel honoured (nt) (3.50 / 2) (#291)
    by fhotg on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:49:05 AM EST


    ~~~
    Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

    [ Parent ]
    your new sig (3.50 / 2) (#294)
    by fhotg on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 01:00:13 AM EST

    is rooted in the experience of commuting by bike from Goerlitzer Bahnhof to campus, just to give you some background :)
    ~~~
    Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

    [ Parent ]
    You're from Berlin? (3.50 / 2) (#387)
    by hesk on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:16:57 PM EST

    Where from, exactly?

    --
    Sticking to the rules (red lights etc.) doesn't improve your safety, relyi
    [
    Parent ]

    Used to live (3.50 / 2) (#411)
    by fhotg on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:41:02 AM EST

    in Kreuzberg, Manteuffel St.

    Haven't been there for 3 years, but will fly into Tegel next week. yaaai.
    ~~~
    Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

    [ Parent ]

    The world is small (n/t) (none / 0) (#417)
    by hesk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:21:00 AM EST


    --
    Sticking to the rules (red lights etc.) doesn't improve your safety, relyi
    [
    Parent ]

    Zodiac (3.00 / 1) (#410)
    by Per Abrahamsen on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:24:56 AM EST

    The main character of Neal Stephenson's _Zodiac_ used those principles when he drove his bike.

    He was fully aware that he was paranoid.


    [ Parent ]

    Well ... (none / 0) (#446)
    by fhotg on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:43:38 PM EST

    He was fully aware that he was paranoid.
    If I recall the plot correctly, he had very good reasons to be.
    ~~~
    Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

    [ Parent ]
    Ride like there's a bounty on your head (none / 0) (#455)
    by adamsc on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 04:35:29 AM EST

    IIRC, he rode that way well before the action started - his paranoia was a point of pride by then.

    The early scene where he brought that major thoroughfare to a halt so he could get through was priceless - gonzo bicycling.

    [ Parent ]

    Do's and Dont's (4.50 / 6) (#157)
    by NoNeckJoe on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:44:50 PM EST

    Do carry a heavy lock.  You need something to smash the car windows of asshole motorists.

    Do not stop for stop signals if you do not need to.  Momemtum is too prescious to waste.

    Do not wave wildly to other bicyclists.  That is not cool.  Raise your fingers from your handlebars and nod instead.

    Do yell at pedestrians if they are in your way.  They are confused sheep and need guidance.

    Do not think that you won't fall.  You will, it will hurt, and that moment will be when you decide if you're tough enough to ride.

    Do's and Dont's for drivers: (1.00 / 1) (#179)
    by Roman on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:25:10 PM EST

    If you see a cyclist with a heavy lock - run him over, he probably just smashed my window :) Do not waste time slowing down if there is a cyclist in front of you, run him over. While making a right turn and in fact showing a right turn and if you know there are no pedestrians on the sidewalk but there was a cyclist behind you, don't worry to check your blind spot. If the cyclist is blind and does not see your turn signal, run him over - he deserved it. Do not greet other drivers by waving at them - that is not cool, just show them as many fingers as many cyclists you ran over today. Do not think you will never run over a few of those bastards, you will. It is at that time - that you are fighting the claim and trying to keep your insurance premium from rising, that you will know if you are tough enough to drive.

    [ Parent ]
    My first impressions of bike commuting (4.66 / 3) (#162)
    by kphrak on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:51:32 PM EST

    I just started biking over and back to work, in Portland, OR, and here are my first impressions:

    I bike from North Portland down to the Lloyd Center area, so it's not very far; only about 20 minutes. Bike paths and bike lanes are everywhere, since the city government has been pushing bike commuting really hard. The trip down is a little bit tough on some of the hills, but fast and cool, and mostly downhill in the morning.

    The nasty part of the trip is going back in the afternoon. By then it's about 98 degrees, and hot air is rising from the asphalt. Drivers are less careful and more aggressive -- all they want to do is get home, and if they had to kill everybody in their way in order to do so, they'd do it without even a thought. I'm slower because I'm tired from work, it's blisteringly hot, and I'm going uphill now, so bus drivers, etc are more impatient (when I'm not on a bikelaned street). By the end of the ride, all I want is a cold shower.

    Of course, this would be nice if everyone was bike-commuting. There would be no more road rage, because when it's hottest, people in cars get angrier, but cyclists going uphill have no energy to spare for screaming at someone. Also, to my knowledge, men don't use their bikes as compensation for their penis size (actually, it's pretty hard to look macho on a bike), while the same cannot be said of cars.

    About the type of bike: I've seen several posters here discuss special bikes that are supposed to be better for commuting, foldable, faster, etc. If you're just starting out...don't bother with that. Get hold of one from the local garage sale or Salvation Army, or buy the Wal-Mart $50 special if you want one that's new. In Portland, they sell a set of 10 bikes for $10-$12 at Goodwill auctions...I got my current bike from there, and all it needed was some grease on the chain. Plus, it was built about 40 years ago and the paint makes it look its age, so no one in his right mind would want to steal it. I still lock it up, but only with a wire lock...and I can leave it hitched up to anything all night without worrying about it.

    Paradoxially, I like riding my bike because I'm lazy. If I want to go somewhere reasonably far (say 10 blocks away), instead of walking two blocks to my car and then driving, or of walking through the hot sun, I can be there in a minute or so on my bike.


    Describe yourself in your sig!
    American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.


    Ugh (2.00 / 1) (#377)
    by NDPTAL85 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:28:48 PM EST

    Can someone have a nice car without others wondering if he has a small manhood or not? Jeez

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Ugh (none / 0) (#445)
    by jlseagull on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:09:12 PM EST

    No.

    [ Parent ]
    A pedestrian's view (3.80 / 5) (#169)
    by whelk1 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:08:52 PM EST

    During my college years in Berkeley, I learned to despise the local cyclists.  Most rode through crowds and traffic as if "moral superiority" were reasonable protection against the laws of physics.  When I needed to ride BART into the city, I noticed that few cyclists managed to comprehend the posted rules about bringing bikes onto crowded trains.  Now we've got bike messengers in SF who ride bikes without brakes so that other bike messengers will think they're cool.

    A car will obviously do a lot more damage if it hits me, but drivers are generally a lot easier to predict.  There are some situations (like right turns at red lights) where they tend to make more mistakes, so a pedestrian knows to be extra careful.  What most drivers will not do, and many cyclists will do, is deliberately throw their vehicles into situations where quick reflexes will be needed to avoid a collision.

    One problem with bicycles is that the rider needs to maintain momentum, especially when hills are involved.  This creates a major incentive for them to ignore traffic lights and weave through crowds.  If we banned cars from city streets and made everyone ride bicycles, we'd still need traffic signals to keep people from running into each other.  And without the threat of cars, nobody would ever obey the lights.

    ...without brakes? (1.00 / 1) (#193)
    by Shren on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:45:19 PM EST

    huh?

    [ Parent ]
    That sounds painfully anecdotal. (2.00 / 1) (#197)
    by Perianwyr on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:50:36 PM EST

    I find it pretty hard to believe. But maybe some people are that silly.

    [ Parent ]
    My own eyebubbles! (2.00 / 2) (#213)
    by miah on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:15:28 PM EST

    I've seen this in two different cities. The psychopaths don't have brakes on their bikes. I've personally been hit twice by messengers trying to zip through an intersection.

    I would think that they take them off as one less thing to replace but I'm still boggled as to why.

    Religion is not the opiate of the masses. It is the biker grade crystal meth of the masses.
    SLAVEWAGE
    [ Parent ]

    racing bikes (4.00 / 1) (#248)
    by demi on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:51:20 PM EST

    they are racing bikes. 1337.

    [ Parent ]
    Track Bikes (4.00 / 1) (#250)
    by pmc on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 07:05:20 PM EST

    I would think that they take them off as one less thing to replace but I'm still boggled as to why.

    They are probably track bikes - no gears, no brakes, sometimes with fixed rear sproket (which is how you slow them down). Sheer madness to use them outside a velodrome though

    [ Parent ]

    no, it's true (4.00 / 1) (#368)
    by durkie on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 01:42:06 PM EST

    it's a rare, hardcore animal, but the bike without brakes does exist. when you do find these, sometimes they have freewheels (VERY rare), and sometimes they do not, as has already been mentioned. the way they stop the bike is of 2 ways: 1 - they don't stop. 2 - they throw their weight forward and sort of curl their legs up and to the side....it's kind of hard to put in to words. picture someone moving their leg as if they were trying to kick their left buttcheek with their right leg, or vise versa. this brings up the backwheel and moves it to the side so it can skid along the road and slow the bike down.

    [ Parent ]
    not quite without brakes. (3.00 / 1) (#232)
    by robot138 on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:52:39 PM EST

    If you look closely at those bikes without brakes, you'll notice that they're actually fixed gear hubs in the back. That means the chain and pedals move in a fixed relation to the wheel, and can be used to slow the bike, much like driving a manual transmission in a low gear. At least that applies to all the bike messenger rigs "without" brakes that I've ever seen. That or its a coaster brake (remember your first bike that stopped when you pedaled backwards?)
    e.b.a.c
    a.a.r.o
    s.y.t.r
    t._._.e

    [ Parent ]
    BART, Bikes and brakes (3.00 / 1) (#238)
    by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:33:16 PM EST

    When I needed to ride BART into the city, I noticed that few cyclists managed to comprehend the posted rules about bringing bikes onto crowded trains. Now we've got bike messengers in SF who ride bikes without brakes so that other bike messengers will think they're cool.
    BART really has very few times when it's too crowded for bikes. I don't travel during rush hour so you might discount my opinion. I feel that people often think that a crowded train is one in which all seats are taken.

    About the bikes "without" brakes -- they're probably track bikes. They do not have freewheels so you slow down by resisting the pedals. Assuming you're a competent rider, they're perfectly safe to ride in traffic. Since they don't have freewheels, derailleurs, extra chainrings, brakes, levers etc. they're really light and a joy to ride. Please remember that none of us can know everything; if you see something that looks stupid, there's a possibility -- it just might be -- that there's something you don't know.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    busy trains (2.00 / 1) (#246)
    by littledriel on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:49:34 PM EST

    If you've never tried to take a train from San Francisco to Concord between 3-6pm then you might not understand how bad it is.

    When I went to SFSU, I'd always get a seat because I was at the end of the line, though sometime I'd be nice and give it up to an old lady or something. I'm really short so I can't reach the bars along the top, and on days like those, people are packed in so tightly I wouldn't have to hold on. Simply standing you would be in contact with someone on every side, and they would hold me in place... it's actually a little creepy being that packed in. =P

    without confrontation, there is no postation -Felixxxxxxxxxxx
    [ Parent ]
    Not in full control of themselves (3.00 / 1) (#328)
    by thebrix on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:00:56 AM EST

    Not sure about Berkeley, but it's incredible the proportion of pedestrians, in London, who're not in full control of themselves (drink, drugs, mobile phone clamped to shoulder, any combination thereof). At night I'd say it's 20 per cent, easily.

    And such semi-incapacitated people tend to go waltzing across the road without any heed for themselves or anyone else ...

    That said, I've seen cyclists conducting mobile phone conversations at full speed with one hand on the handlebars. That is insanely dangerous; quite apart from the fact that my mobile phone goes, switched off, into the bag and the Brompton cannot be ridden without two hands on the handlebars I'm too aware of my own mortality ...

    [ Parent ]

    Get some fat tires (3.50 / 2) (#184)
    by cnicolai on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:38:15 PM EST

    Talk about undermining your advice:

    DO get some road tires...

    DO carry two (or more) spare inner tubes, ... Three punctures in one day is my current record!

    Use tires that are appropriate to the roads. Rocks, potholes, broken glass and ice all call for some tough tires. Sure, it'll take more effort to go fast, but it's well worth it for <10mile distances.

    Underinflated (3.00 / 1) (#304)
    by genman on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:42:04 AM EST

    You'll be OK in skinny tires if you keep your inflation up to maximum. I don't see how having fat tires helps with glass or nails. In fact, I think your chances are probably higher with wider tires.

    [ Parent ]
    Get tougher tyres (4.00 / 2) (#323)
    by jackelder on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:27:34 AM EST

    I use kevlar beaded tyres (Specialized Nimbus Ex 26x1.5") for my daily commute. This includes potholes, broken glass, occasional nails. Haven't punctured yet using 'em. Heck, I've taken them offroad without any problems. Kevlar beading and other reinforcing makes the tyre a fair bit heavier (which slightly negates the benefits of running slicks in the first place), but it's worth its weight in gold. Trust me.
    __ sabre-toothed portillo
    [ Parent ]
    I ride to work (3.00 / 2) (#188)
    by nnod on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:39:59 PM EST

    5 days a week. It's a 17km journey each way and takes me about 45 minutes riding at a decent pace (I commute on a mountain bike with big tires.)

    I try to obey as many traffic laws as possible. I stop at red lights, use hand signals, etc. Each day, however, on my way home, I cross the highway illegally. This essentially consists of riding directly across and hopping the meridian when there are no cars. It's definitely not safe, but it saves me riding along the highway, which I prefer not to do.

    Two thirds of my commute is on quiet roads and cycling trail. When I do ride on busy roads, I try to occupy the entire lane I'm in. I find that if I'm not occupying the entire lane, then ever so often a motorist will pass me quite close, sometimes nicking my handlebar with their sideview mirror. So far I've had no problems with riding in the middle of the lane, obviously slowing down traffic behind me. It also makes it easier to get into the left turn lane (I'm in Canada) when you have control of the right lane.

    I find if you respect fellow motorists by following the traffic laws there are few problems. However, I should add that where I live, in Victoria, BC, the traffic is fairly forgiving and rush hour isn't as busy as you'd find in other cities such as Vancouver.

    donn

    I don't want to die. (3.80 / 5) (#207)
    by sllort on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:02:49 PM EST

    I race bicycles. I'm going to go racing right after I finish posting this message. I race road bikes, I race mountain bikes. It's fun.

    I'm going to drive my car down an Interstate freeway in order to ride my bike with friends.

    I used to commute to work by bicycle. I did this when I lived close enough to work that I could commute the entire way via sidewalks, paths, and crosswalks, i.e. as a pedestrian. I don't ride my bicycle on open roads because, in short, I don't want to die. You may argue that a life extraordinarily lived is worth dying for - and you're right - but when I face up to the actual choice of depriving my family of my presence, I choose to stay off the roads. Everyone I know who races road bikes has either been hit & lived or been hit & killed. Eventually, if you ride a bike in the street, your number is going to come up. I wear my car like armor - a lot of times, I take it out even when a bike would be faster.
    caveat - I live in the Washinton D.C. metro area, where people kill to drive and drive to kill. YMMV.

    What would rememdy the situation? Not bike lanes... closed bike paths are infeasible to build for widespread application... I don't know. All I know is the drivers in this area are so prolific and so aggressive that you'd be a fool to try to commute without your armor on. I'd love to bike commute, but I'm just plain chicken.

    -s.
    --
    Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
    flywheels? (2.00 / 1) (#233)
    by bill_mcgonigle on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:57:32 PM EST

    What would rememdy the situation? Not bike lanes... closed bike paths are infeasible to build for widespread application... I don't know.

    I think you're on to something here. The bike needs to be able to integrate into traffic. Most cyclists can't start up as fast as traffic, though they can go faster when it's in-town driving. So, if there was some kind of bike platform that would be about the size of a small car, on which the cyclist could keep pedaling while stopped at a light, which had a flywheel, on startup, the cyclist could direct the flywheel's energy to the road wheels, and get right into traffic.

    Somebody build one for me, OK?



    [ Parent ]
    Yeah right (3.00 / 1) (#273)
    by hesk on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:15:01 PM EST

    Downshift when approaching a red light, hit the pedals like crazy when starting, upshift, once you crossed the street.

    Also, get thinner tires, keep your chain in good shape and get a good saddle.

    No need for bulky flywheels.

    [ Parent ]

    Hmmm? (3.00 / 1) (#276)
    by iwnbap on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:18:34 PM EST

    I can start on my bicycle much faster than a lot of cars and trucks. Mostly on account of reation time, I think.

    [ Parent ]
    Not really acceleration (4.00 / 1) (#340)
    by sllort on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:34:56 AM EST

    A good cyclist can do zero-to-twenty faster than a car. The problem really comes when you have to climb hills as fast as a car (elite cyclists can climb at about 17mph) or hit the same speeds as a car. I can maintain 30mph on the flat for quite a while, but that just aggravates drivers and causes them to floor it. A 35mph speed limit road is completely achievable by a good cyclist with a good road bike - the problem is that the cars pass you at 55, and honk at you for getting in the way.

    The problem, in short, is that your engine can't sustain more than 1hp. Of course, descending steep hills, I blow by cars like they're standing still - which causes many drivers to push their cars past the limits of their abilities in a failed attempt to keep up... but that's another story.
    --
    Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
    [ Parent ]

    So, you contribute to the problem? (none / 0) (#429)
    by M0dUluS on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 07:10:46 PM EST

    I race bicycles. I'm going to go racing right after I finish posting this message. I race road bikes, I race mountain bikes. It's fun.
    I'm afraid that you are the type of cyclist for which I have the least respect. You use your bicycle solely as a toy although you are aware of it's possibilities.
    I used to commute to work by bicycle. I did this when I lived close enough to work that I could commute the entire way via sidewalks, paths, and crosswalks, i.e. as a pedestrian
    If you are _riding_ a bicycle then you are not a pedestrian: you are the driver of a vehicle on the sidewalk. Your maximum speed is extremely limited unless you are riding without regard to both your own safety and (more importantly) the safety of the primary users of sidewalks, who are people on foot. A sidewalk contains multiple unmarked intersections in the form of driveways, a lack of clear rules and regulations about the behavior of users (all that most States say is that the cyclist must use the sidewalk in a manner so as not to endanger pedestrians), varies greatly in width and smoothness of surface etc.

    Riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk at anything other than walking pace (which in itself means teetering at the lower limits of gyroscopic stability) is inherently less safe than walking because of automobile drivers zooming in and out of parking-lots and driveways with high-hedges, walls or other sight obstructions. You will be travelling a speed greater than they expect and will have more inertia than a pedestrian which will lessen your ability to avoid collision. Therefore walking would be a better choice if you are concerned about safety (also you'd get more exercise).
    I don't ride my bicycle on open roads because, in short, I don't want to die.
    Ride like an idiot either on the footpath or on the road and you'll die. Ride sensibly observing the laws and taking extra precautions such as using both Scotchlite 3M reflective clothing AND lights AND staying out far enough so that you are able to swerve in TOWARDS the curb instead of out towards traffic. Don't zoom up the inside of lanes assuming that the ninny nattering on their cell phone is going to see you. Be a vehicle driver. That's what you are under the law.

    Personally, the worst cyclists that I've seen have been weekend roadracers, many of whom I suspect are the same people that drive SUVs during the week.
    What would rememdy the situation? Not bike lanes... closed bike paths are infeasible to build for widespread application... I don't know.
    More people commuting by bike would be a start. Of course, you say that you are too chicken: fair enough. But I presume that you are active in supporting your local bicycle coalition or cycling campaing? I presume that you are lobbying for strict enforcement of 25mph speed limits? Note that there is an interesting response curve of death/vehicle speed and that there is reason to believe that in congested areas there is little to be gained in average journey speed by allowing high velocity.

    If you are not actively doing anything to change the situation then you really shouldn't be commenting upon it because you are contributing to the danger of my commute in full knowledge.

    "[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
    [ Parent ]
    You will die. (none / 0) (#468)
    by vectro on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 07:38:47 PM EST

    Sorry to break it to you, but it's true. The only questions are when and how, and what will you leave behind when you are gone.

    “The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
    [ Parent ]
    Thoughts on biking... (3.66 / 3) (#216)
    by crcerror on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:29:20 PM EST

    A year ago, I used to hate bikes on the road. I thought they had no place sharing any road with cars but I'm beginning to become more selective with my thoughts on that.

    I'm not sure, I looked through a lot of comments and saw no reference to this, if there are laws about what sort of roads bikes can be on. I take a pretty major highway to and from work and during rush hour, it does anger me a great deal that traffic gets slowed down for a mile because someone is in the right lane going 30 mph on their bike. I never take it out on the bicyclist, since that would be more of a danger in a situation like that. I can't believe people honk, throw things and other nasty things I've read in this discussion - that's just adding to the safety issues that already exist. The only thing I've done is curse at them quietly under my breath. ;-)

    However, local roads - I see no problem with it. Where the max speed is supposed to be 30 or 35 mph, I don't mind so much anymore. I look at the bikes more like mopeds and other such small motorcycles. If there aren't laws about that, there should be. Since a bicycles top speed is is what 30 mph? It should really be restricted to the same local roads that a moped is forced onto. IMHO, I still stand by my thoughts that bikes do not belong on highways, it endangers the drivers as well as the cyclists.

    Are there laws like this that aren't enforced? How would cyclists feel about such a law (if it doesn't already exist)?



    Highways (3.00 / 1) (#229)
    by godix on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:47:18 PM EST

    Onramps in central Illinois used to have a sign saying 'No pedestrians, no bicycles'. I haven't seen those around recently though. It used to be illegal to bike on highways, although it may not be anymore.

    [ Parent ]
    Which roads? (3.00 / 1) (#243)
    by phliar on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:43:53 PM EST

    In the US, in every state, bicycles are allowed to ride on every road except freeways. In most states, in rural areas bicycles are allowed to ride on freeways also.
    a bicycles top speed is is what 30 mph?
    Depends on the slope and the wind. For a non-racer, someone riding a couple of hours a day, 15-20 mph if there isn't a major headwind or slope.
    I take a pretty major highway to and from work and during rush hour, it does anger me a great deal that traffic gets slowed down for a mile because someone is in the right lane going 30 mph on their bike.
    Please channel your anger into something productive -- make that street safe for cyclists. If the right hand lane is wide enough that a cyclist and a motorist can safely ride side-by-side, everyone wins. (Where I live, it's in the law that new roads will all have wide enough right lanes.)


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Maybe the law should change (3.00 / 1) (#333)
    by crcerror on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:06:09 AM EST

    First:

    Please channel your anger into something productive -- make that street safe for cyclists. If the right hand lane is wide enough that a cyclist and a motorist can safely ride side-by-side, everyone wins. (Where I live, it's in the law that new roads will all have wide enough right lanes.) Also, as other people have posted in this discussion passing a cyclist without changing lanes, if they are truly in the right lane, is illegal.

    I'd like to think I am. I'm not posting a flame, at least not in my opinion. I'm trying to think of what a good compromise would be between cyclists and drivers. As I said in my previous post, on most roads - I've chilled quite a bit about the cyclist thing.

    In the US, in every state, bicycles are allowed to ride on every road except freeways. In most states, in rural areas bicycles are allowed to ride on freeways also.

    But is that really logical? I know for a fact my area has laws pertaining to mopeds and scooters on highways. Those forms of transportation are forced to stay off highways and on local roads because their top speed is like 30-35mph. No one even considers letting them ride in the shoulder of a road, so why should cyclists be treated differently?



    [ Parent ]
    Missed one comment. (3.00 / 1) (#337)
    by crcerror on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:19:53 AM EST

    Where I live, it's in the law that new roads will all have wide enough right lanes.

    I totally missed that comment and this would be another solution that would make me happy. Widen the shoulders or the right lanes.

    The whole slowing down of traffic does tick me off but also passing a bike, knowing that if he/she makes one wrong move and I'm not quick enough to compensate, I'll pretty much kill him/her - makes me a little nervous too. Frankly, I think most of my problems with cyclists would be fixed if they were either kept off the highway the same as mopeds or lanes were widened and made so cyclists could do their thing safely, perhaps even given their own bike lane. I don't mean some foot wide lane that I see occasionally, I mean a decent sized lane where they have some room to maneuver quickly without getting in the automobiles way.

    [ Parent ]
    The law's fine (IMHO) (4.00 / 1) (#399)
    by phliar on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:37:19 PM EST

    Please channel your anger into something productive
    I'd like to think I am. I'm not posting a flame, at least not in my opinion.
    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you were. It was a general statement, to the effect of: you described a situation that pisses you off; use the anger to fix the situation.

    In the US, in every state, bicycles are allowed to ride on every road except freeways.
    But is that really logical? I know for a fact my area has laws pertaining to mopeds and scooters on highways.
    When you say "highway," what do you mean exactly? Different areas use the words differently. In California, a "highway" seems to be just about any street that's not residential or an alley. You talk of mopeds and scooters not being allowed on certain "highways" -- I suspect you mean what I've been calling "freeway" here, i.e. limited access road with a speed limit of 55 mph or greater.

    As for whether or not it's logical -- I feel it is, and I really don't think any laws need to be changed. A prudent and reasonable person will not ride on a road that's too risky when there's an alternative. If jurisdictions are allowed to ban cyclists from some streets (for our own safety, of course; and the ones passing the laws will be mobile-phone-using SUV-driving assholes who were last on a bicycle as a pre-teen) I can just see cyclists being banned from everything but residential streets.

    Think of it this way: if that cyclist hadn't been able to ride on that road, he wouldn't have annoyed you, you wouldn't think about getting that road widened, the road would stay narrower and society is poorer since some of its members are barred from the amenities they paid for. (Infrastructure, like roads, is paid for by general funds and not by gas taxes.)

    Incidentally, there is an attribution problem: I did not write these lines that got attributed to me in your message:

    Also, as other people have posted in this discussion passing a cyclist without changing lanes, if they are truly in the right lane, is illegal.
    In fact I don't agree with this statement; lane sharing is explicitly legal in California (where I live), and I do it all the time: whether I'm in a car, or riding a motorcycle or bicycle. It can be safe and prudent, depending on the width of the lane and the speeds involved.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Shoulders (3.00 / 1) (#272)
    by iwnbap on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:14:12 PM EST


    It makes sense on high speed roads (be they freeways, highways or motorways) to allow cyclists to ride on the shoulders.  In this way there's minimal danger either to drivers or cyclists, and further equipping roads with wide shoulders greatly reduces the maintenance costs.

    [ Parent ]
    You missed some negatives (3.12 / 8) (#226)
    by godix on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:44:56 PM EST

    Not everyone is capable of riding bikes. My father just had a heart attack Sunday, I certainly don't think he'll be biking the 20 miles to work anytime soon. Someone who's 500 LBs also isn't going to be biking anywhere soon. Almost anyone who has a handicap plate won't be in a condition they can bike. Biking isn't the be all end all solution for many people.

    Freeways. It's one thing to allow bikers to have a whole lane when traffic is going 30 (assuming speed limits are enforced). It's an entirely different story at 65. To the best of my knowledge you aren't even allowed to bike on the freeway for this reason. This probably really sucks for bikers in areas like mine that have 5 bridges over a river within 20 miles, but only 2 of those 5 are legal for bikes.

    Biking is inconvient. I can fit 4 other people in my car comfortably. I can throw some suitcases in my trunk. I can get to a Chicago hotel in 2 1/2 - 3 hours (about 200 miles away). Can a bike do any of this?

    My time is more valuable than that. Spend 20 minutes driving to work or spend 60 minute biking? Hmmm, do I want to bike for 40 minutes or sleep in an extra 40 minutes? Tough choice. Really.

    As you mentioned, biking is one of the more dangerous forms of transportation. Sure, you'll be healtier for biking, assuming you don't die because of it.

    Plenty of people have taken the opportunity to bitch about asshole drivers here, let me add that a lot of bikers are assholes as well. They break traffic rules, then play this hypocritical games of 'I have all the rights of a motor vehicle, but I don't have to follow rules designed for them'. Sure dickhead, red lights don't apply to you. And I'm sure it's the cars fault when you run into the side of one while running the red light (yes, I've seen it happen). They endanger pedestrians with the excuse of 'well they should have seen me coming'. Unless they're rich any damages they cause are probably going to be paid by other people. Then there's the fact that many of them have a sanctimonious "I'm better than you" attitude; they think it's unacceptable for a biker to be slowed down for pedestrians, red lights, turning cars, stop signs, etc but it's perfectly acceptable to force cars to be slowed down.

    When the choice was a horse, your feet, or a bicycle then the bike was an ok choice (although I notice bikes weren't very common amoung adults even then). Now that technology has provided us with this wonderful invention called 'internal combustion' bikings drawbacks are unacceptable to most people.

    well, you'd fit into the "dont do it then&quo (4.00 / 1) (#239)
    by littledriel on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:36:14 PM EST

    Biking isn't for everyone, as you noted, those who are physically unable to bike are certainly a valid exception.

    But where I live in the bay area, there's BART, bike lanes, and even trails, so biking is a good alternative. What is important to remember in the 'bikes are assholes' and 'cars are assholes' debate is that when all is said and done, the car driver will lose only property in a collision, where a biker might lose their life.

    Drivers should try to realize that more people biking means less people on their roads creating traffic, and less pollution for everyone. These are good things, even if a small percentage of people contribute.

    without confrontation, there is no postation -Felixxxxxxxxxxx
    [ Parent ]
    Negatives? (3.00 / 1) (#258)
    by gsl on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:05:11 PM EST

    Not everyone is capable of riding bikes.

    Agreed. But I think cycling should be encouraged (or not discouraged) so that people who can ride are more inclined to do it (and those of us who do ride are safer).

    Freeways.

    Where I live (Melbourne) it's illegal to ride on most of the urban freeways (where the kerbside lane is used for express buses at peak times). For that matter, I think it's illegal to drive a tractor or herd sheep on them. On the freeways where it is legal to ride, it is, as you say, not pleasant mixing it with the 110 kph traffic. I do it very rarely. There's usually a more scenic, quieter route.

    I can get to a Chicago hotel in 2 1/2 - 3 hours (about 200 miles away). Can a bike do any of this?

    Do you commute 200 miles? The article appears to be about the convenience of commuting by bicycle.

    My time is more valuable than that. Spend 20 minutes driving to work or spend 60 minute biking?

    In my case, my direct commute to work takes 22 to 25 minutes. On the few occasions when I have driven at peak times, it would take me about 30 minutes. Would you rather spend 20 minutes driving then find 40 minutes to exercise (go to the gym, jog, etc.)?

    Geoff.
    --
    NP: Echolyn - Mei [Mei]



    [ Parent ]
    Herding sheep? Are you serious? (2.00 / 1) (#303)
    by godix on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:40:59 AM EST

    "I think cycling should be encouraged (or not discouraged) so that people who can ride are more inclined to do it"

    The only reason I would discourage biking is that some areas it just can't be done safely. If you happen to live in an area with bike paths, wide sidewalks, or roads with low speed traffic then bikings fine. If on the other hand you live in an area where freeway travel is almost required to get anywhere, then it's a danger and should be discouraged. This is perhaps something that should be taken up by city designers, but I wonder if the desire/need for it really deserves and effort to make cycling safe.

    "For that matter, I think it's illegal to drive a tractor or herd sheep on them."

    Herding sheep on the freeway? I want to see this. Congradulations, you've just given me the best reason I've ever heard to visit Australia. Screw the Opera house, the wilderness, and the poisonous animals, I want to see a sigalert because of sheep on the highway.

    "Do you commute 200 miles? The article appears to be about the convenience of commuting by bicycle."

    At present no. If you asked me a few months ago the answer would have been 'No, it's closer to 250 miles'. Currently, if you figure to work, my moms house, the hospital (for the moment), grocery shopping, other shopping, spending an evening out with the wife/friends, etc then yes, I probably do travel 200 miles in one day.

    "Would you rather spend 20 minutes driving then find 40 minutes to exercise (go to the gym, jog, etc.)?"

    Thank you for defining exercise. Having never done it, I wasn't sure what it was. I don't understand why I'd spend 40 minutes doing it though.

    [ Parent ]

    Yes (3.00 / 1) (#310)
    by gsl on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:15:45 AM EST

    I'm deadly serious when it comes to herding sheep.

    Geoff.
    --
    NP: Michelle Young - Marked For Madness [First Light]



    [ Parent ]
    regularly? (4.00 / 1) (#389)
    by aphrael on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:19:50 PM EST

    I probably do travel 200 miles in one day.

    Regularly?

    I can't imagine this. I live walking distance from any shopping or going out that I want to do (walking distance being defined, for me, as being within 2-3 miles); I work ten miles from home. I'm dating someone who lives 50-60 miles away, but usually that's just a bi-weekly relocation, with everything *there* going on within a small distance frame, as well.

    The idea of travelling, every day, a distance that would take me two weeks to walk, is just ... bizarre.

    [ Parent ]

    Two words: suburban sprawl. (NT) (3.00 / 1) (#402)
    by godix on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:42:09 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    Light Aircraft (3.66 / 3) (#264)
    by iwnbap on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:43:17 PM EST

    Actually, I find cars terribly inconvienient, and that's why I now use a light aircraft for my daily commute. I think it's incredibly selfish for people in cars to go out when they *know* there's a traffic jam out there; they're only making the problem worse. Furthermore driving is inconvienient. I can fit 12 other people easily in my plane, and a few suitcases as well. I can get across the entire midwest (about 1000 miles) in 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Can a car do any of this? My time is more valuable than that. Spend a couple of hours driving to work or spend 20 minutes flying? Hmmm, do I want to drive for an hour or sleep in an extra hour? Tough choice. Really. As you mentioned, driving is one of the more dangerous forms of transportation. Plenty of people have taken the opportunity to bitch about asshole cyclists here, let me add that a lot of drivers are assholes as well. They break traffic rules, then play this hypocritical games of 'I have all the rights of a motor vehicle, but I don't have to follow rules designed for them'. Sure dickhead, red lights don't apply to you. . They endanger pedestrians with the excuse of 'well they should have seen me coming'. Unless they're rich any damages they cause are probably going to be paid by other people. Then there's the fact that many of them have a sanctimonious "I'm better than you" attitude; they think it's unacceptable for a driver to be slowed down for pedestrians, red lights, turning cars, stop signs, etc but it's perfectly acceptable to force cars to be slowed down. When the choice was a horse, your feet,a bicycle or a car then the car was an ok choice (although I notice cars weren't very common amoung adults even then). Now that technology has provided us with this wonderful invention called 'powered flight' the car's drawbacks are unacceptable to most people.

    [ Parent ]
    Aircraft (2.00 / 1) (#297)
    by godix on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:26:29 AM EST

    If you can talk my boss, grocery store, and apt. complex managers into adding runways I'd be glad to fly. As it is, cars are the way to go. Helicoptors wouldn't be that bad, they only need a little more landing room than a few car parking spots, but I hear there's all sorts of regulations and crap you have to learn.

    [ Parent ]
    microlight (2.00 / 1) (#335)
    by animal on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:14:50 AM EST

    try a microlight or  gyrocopter( is that how it's spelt?), cheaper, easier to store, only needs a small area for take off and landing.
    myself? I walk or cycle if its  a short distance ( less than 1/2 walk).

    [ Parent ]
    Retort. (4.00 / 2) (#360)
    by Matadon on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:37:10 PM EST

    Not everyone is capable of riding bikes. My father just had a heart attack Sunday, I certainly don't think he'll be biking the 20 miles to work anytime soon. Someone who's 500 LBs also isn't going to be biking anywhere soon. Almost anyone who has a handicap plate won't be in a condition they can bike. Biking isn't the be all end all solution for many people.

    The original author never claimed it was; but as to Mr. Quarter-ton, perhaps he'd be a bit slimmer and happier if he had taken up an exercise regimen before becoming the Human Dumpling.

    Biking is inconvient. I can fit 4 other people in my car comfortably. I can throw some suitcases in my trunk. I can get to a Chicago hotel in 2 1/2 - 3 hours (about 200 miles away). Can a bike do any of this?

    Right, and I'm sure that having to drive to Chicago with four people and a pile of luggage is a regular concern for the average daily commuter.  Furthermore, if you don't do this on a regular basis, you get the privilege of paying huge sums of money to own a car that you could just as easily rent on the few occasions you did need one.

    My time is more valuable than that. Spend 20 minutes driving to work or spend 60 minute biking? Hmmm, do I want to bike for 40 minutes or sleep in an extra 40 minutes? Tough choice. Really.

    For me, it's about the same, although with traffic that "20 minutes to work" becomes "45 minutes to work.  But, even ignoring that, I like to stay in shape.  Spending the extra hour a day during my commute to get loads of exercise is completely worth it, because that's an hour of cardio I don't have to do at a gym.  Every day.  That's five free hours a week I don't need to spend keeping myself in shape.

    As you mentioned, biking is one of the more dangerous forms of transportation. Sure, you'll be healtier for biking, assuming you don't die because of it.

    Obeying traffic laws and paying attention will protect you quite a bit; I've logged thousands of miles on my bikes, and I've been in two crashes -- one was my fault (and was with a tree), and the other was because some idiot really wanted me to sue him into poverty.

    Plenty of people have taken the opportunity to bitch about asshole drivers here, let me add that a lot of bikers are assholes as well.

    Sadly, this is all too true -- I think that we really need to have some form of bike education.  A four-week course where people learn about traffic laws, proper road courtesy whilst on a bicycle, and such.  I also think that cops should ticket bicyclists for riding the wrong way, darting in-and-out of traffic, and running red lights.

    On the converse, think about it this way -- you're driving a two-thousand pound projectile at a high rate of speed; I'm on a twenty pound projectile at a much lower rate of speed.  Who is going to cause more damage by being negligent?

    --
    "There's this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out." — Richard Dawkins.
    [ Parent ]

    bikers (3.00 / 1) (#382)
    by godix on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:38:42 PM EST

    "Right, and I'm sure that having to drive to Chicago with four people and a pile of luggage is a regular concern for the average daily commuter."

    Depends on if they live in Chicago suburbs or not probably. I do it a few times a year, but my real commute was when I was driving 250 miles four times a week for my work.

    "Spending the extra hour a day during my commute to get loads of exercise is completely worth it, because that's an hour of cardio I don't have to do at a gym."

    This is only a valid arguement if you'd workout if you didn't bike. Most people wouldn't. For most people the time thing is a negative with no positive.

    "I also think that cops should ticket bicyclists for riding the wrong way, darting in-and-out of traffic, and running red lights."

    This would solve most comlaints that I as a drive have with bikes. If it's supposed to treated like a motor vehicle then it should be treated as such. If it shouldn't be, then it should stay off the road.

    "Who is going to cause more damage by being negligent?"

    The car of course. Which is one reason I can't figure out why bikers aren't more cautious. If a biker runs into the side of my car I know for a fact that *I* won't be the one hurt.


    [ Parent ]

    A few tips of my own (4.00 / 1) (#235)
    by spammacus on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 06:06:13 PM EST

    I bike about 15k to work every day.  Lukily where I live there are lots of bike paths and I never have to go on the road.

    Some tips which may be obvious to some but apparently not to all:
    1) Tools.  Get a little kit of bike tools, since most bikes use specialised sizes of nuts, etc.  Make sure they fit your bike.
    2) A spare chain. I don't have much trouble with inner tubes, but it is hilly where I live and I have been know to break my bike chain halfway to work.  That's no fun.
    3) A bell.  This is to let pedestrians who like to clog the bike path that you're coming.  Also useful for scaring birds, squirrels, small dogs, etc. so they get out of your way.  Doesn't work with deer or elk though, in fact they are a very good reason to take a detour ;).

    Cheers.

    -- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly

    Get a horn (3.00 / 1) (#275)
    by iwnbap on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:16:23 PM EST

    I used to lust after an airhorn for my bike. You'd just see the dickhead about to do something stupid, and a quick reminder that there were other road users would be just what they needed. I use it all the time on my motorbike.

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah, but (2.00 / 1) (#290)
    by spammacus on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:39:20 AM EST

    then you get in trouble with all the wealthy NIMBY types who live near the bike path. They lobby city hall and presto! No more paths and fees to get into the city parks.
    -- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
    [ Parent ]
    Pollution (3.50 / 2) (#249)
    by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 07:00:44 PM EST

    The #1 reason (at least for me) to not to cycle to work: pollution.

    Let me clear this up: a cyclist tackling the rush-hour traffic in any moderately populated city breathes a lot of pollutants. She isn´t protected by filtration systems found in modern cars, she is breathing heavily and is right there where the worst fumes are, next to cars and trucks.

    Although some people try to rationalize themselves into cycling to work, I like to get my exercise where it's actually beneficial.

    My bodyweight is muscle and cock MMM
    Tenured K5 uberdouchebag Herr mirleid
    Meatgazer Frau gr3y


    Try it (3.50 / 2) (#262)
    by iwnbap on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:17:14 PM EST

    Personally I haven't found pollution a problem; and I think you'll find the "filtration system in modern cars" worth incrementally more than bugger all.

    [ Parent ]
    Irony (4.66 / 3) (#307)
    by bouncing on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:50:24 AM EST

    The #1 reason (at least for me) to not to cycle to work: pollution.
    Ironically, that's a very compelling reason to have more people cycling. Of course this is pretty obvious. But I suspect that the added health benefit of exercise more than makes up for the health problems of smog. Furthermore, you may not notice it as much, but that fancy air filter your Honda has doesn't do much about smog.

    What you're probably worried about is:

    • o-zone. That's the yellow haze you see on a hot summer day, and it's a major cause of health problems. I hate to let you down on this, but O3 is not large enough to be filtered out by any filter you'll find in a car.
    • particle matter. PM is what makes Denver's "brown cloud" so very very dark some days. It's not usually as bad as o-zone on your lungs, but it may cause cancer and does exacerbate asthema. On this subject, you have a serious advantage in a car. Not only does a lot of PM get filtered out by your car's heppa filter, but much of it never makes it to your car. In other words, you're much safer behind a bus in a car than a bike.
    • Direct car exhaust. Most air pollution only becomes "smog" after it's baked in the sun. But that doesn't make car exhaust any less gross. My best advice on this topic is to stay away from buses, SUVs (and by the way, fuck you, SUV drivers), trucks, etc. If you see a vehicle smoking, take the license plate and report it to your local department of public safety (that's usually who will investigate).


    [ Parent ]
    Get a mask (3.00 / 1) (#322)
    by jackelder on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:17:14 AM EST

    If you're really worried about the pollution, get a filter mask. Any decent bike shop will sell them. Replaceable filters, fits over mouth & nose, the lot. Respro are probably the best known brand.

    And besides - the level of air pollution is higher inside cars than out [second reference].


    __ sabre-toothed portillo
    [ Parent ]

    besides (3.00 / 1) (#352)
    by MotorMachineMercenary on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:31:00 AM EST

    Both studies study "ambient air" from fixed measuring stations. From the Greenpeace study:

    "The term "ambient air" in this study refers to the air tested simultaneously at fixed monitoring stations located 50 and 100 metres from a roadside"

    This is hardly comparable to the levels a cyclist driving a few meters from the exhausts of cars and trucks is subjected to.

    My bodyweight is muscle and cock MMM
    Tenured K5 uberdouchebag Herr mirleid
    Meatgazer Frau gr3y


    [ Parent ]
    Strangely ... (3.00 / 1) (#329)
    by thebrix on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:05:12 AM EST

    ... when I'm in a car (rarely) I'm much more aware that it's "fumey" and quite often end up with a headache at the end of the journey. Trains, buses and even London Underground are not a problem.

    I suspect air filtration concentrates pollutants, particularly if the filters aren't serviced properly; also, cars form a severely enclosed space and are full of compounds which give off fumes (soft plastics, etc).

    [ Parent ]

    Bad logic. (3.00 / 1) (#357)
    by Matadon on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:25:18 PM EST

    The "filtration systems" found in modern cars?  Only the more upscale cars actually come with any real filtration (most German makes, and the upscale Japanese lines), and even then you're only getting a pollen-and-dust filter, which isn't at all effective at dealing with carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and the wealth of sulfides that spew out of the tailpipe of one of those modern cars.

    Furthermore, the air intake for most vehicles' ventilation system is much closer to the tailpipe of the car in front than the intake to a cyclist's ventilation system (e.g., his mouth).  It would be difficult to form a study to see if this has any real effect, but don't assume that since you're in a steel-and-glass box that the air you breathe is any better.

    --
    "There's this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out." — Richard Dawkins.
    [ Parent ]

    Travel educates. (3.00 / 1) (#255)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 08:03:10 PM EST

    This article is clearly from the point of vies of a Brit that has to endure the zero facilities for cyclists available in the UK.

    Germany and Holland have tracks for cyclists only (traffic lights, proper signaling) which is normally completely separated from cars and even pedestrians.

    In such situation, the original question is plain silly.
    ---
    "Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

    Haha (3.50 / 2) (#270)
    by hesk on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:08:20 PM EST

    Excuse me, why I'm holding my stomach laughing.

    Germany and Holland have tracks for cyclists only (traffic lights, proper signaling) which is normally completely separated from cars and even pedestrians.

    Separate tracks for cyclists are usually only larger cities and there they're crowded with pedestrians and parked vehicles. Some people don't bother anymore and simply drive on the road, which is mostly safe.

    The best cycle tracks are either totally separated from pedestrians by some flower arrangement or something (Potsdamer Platz in Berlin), or are part of the road, separated by traffic lines (Karl Marx Allee, some smaller residental roads in Berlin). I prefer the latter, because it's quite safe (the cars seem to obey it subconsciously, probably a thing natural to German drivers) and the cyclist is rarely obstructed, and if he is he doesn't have to worry about chatting pedestrians.

    Speaking of which, the best is one meter large tracks alongside of the road, that are open to cyclists and inline skaters (Proskauer Straße, in Berlin). I happen to do both regulary.

    [PS: The spellcheck shows lots of red words, but I'm too stoned to fix it. My spelling and grammar is normally better.]

    [ Parent ]

    Separated cycle tracks (3.00 / 1) (#298)
    by loaf on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:29:19 AM EST

    ... are a dead end.

    There are thousands of miles of perfectly good roads, large enough to cope with bikes and motor vehicles.

    If everyone chose to co-operate and share and not try to drive each other off them.

    [ Parent ]

    Not in the UK. (3.00 / 1) (#412)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:44:17 AM EST

    Roads are too narrow here.
    ---
    "Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah, right. (none / 0) (#436)
    by loaf on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 03:31:19 AM EST

    Daily, I realise the roads are too narrow. Rubbish.

    There's plenty of space - unless your mind is too narrow.

    [ Parent ]

    As somebody that has lived in many countries... (none / 0) (#439)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 08:15:46 AM EST

    ... and travelled to even more, I can assure you that UK roads are too narrow.

    Cheers.
    ---
    "Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

    [ Parent ]

    A question of perspective? (3.00 / 1) (#257)
    by EvilDo0d on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:04:06 PM EST

    Quite a few things to say here. Cycling is one of the most dangerous forms of transport in terms of fatalities per 100 million passenger hours: Motorcycling : 342 Cycling : 64 Walking : 27 Air : 20 Car : 12.4 Rail : 6.0 Bus/Coach : 1.4 First off, note the word *FATALITIES* used in the data. It doesn't tell how many accidents these various groups are involved in. Bicyclists truly are naked to traffic, and a motorcycle can be taken in this respect as a really heavy bicycle with more power than it should have. 'cycles travel at higher speeds, therefore it's obvious they will die more in crashes. The fact that people aren't caged in steel and glass serves to explain why the top fatalities are bicyling, motorcycling and walking. Planes are next because when your car breaks down it rolls to a stop, whereas when a plane breaks down it falls violently to earth. Rail, busses and coaches are last because 9 times out of 10 the object into which they crash is smaller and therefore much more heavily damaged. The way this data is reproduced is reminiscent of data showing that SUV's built off of truck bodies are safer in a crash with a car, yet much more dangerous to its riders in a crash involving walls and poles. As far as the news article from The Mirror, I found it really amusing. I recall a story, by Hawthorne I believe, where humanity builds a huge bonfire and throws all they consider to be evil into it. Then at the end of the story, the author notices an old man laughing at the edge of the crowd. Approaching him, he discovers the old man is death. Death laughs and comments "There is one thing they have forgotten to burn... The human heart." I agree with the old fart/death in that story, in the respect that many motorists are not looking beyond the limits of their own skulls. If you're on a two-lane road, and stuck behind a bicyclist who's doing 30, and it's illegal to pass him, will 15 seconds off your life really be a problem, or just an annoyance? What about the kid in the hot black thingy, who's got neon and a loud stereo and cuts you off just to be in front of you in line at the stoplight? Should he be banned from the roads also? And old folks, who drive too slowly, and people who are forced to stop and yield (say, when they want to make a left turn)? Well I left a lot of rhetoric here, so I hope there's an intelligent discussion to result from this. In closing, remember that carbon monoxide is a gas, and no filter in any car anywhere can keep you from breathing it. And hey, if you don't shampoo your interior with some regularity, things like pollen and dander tend to build up and may cause allergic reactions. --Jordan K. This is my first post to Kuro5hin. I must say, it's a great place to rant ;)

    old people should be tested (3.00 / 1) (#261)
    by Mclaren on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:14:23 PM EST

    older people should be tested, and if needed banned from driving. I'll never forget the time an elderly woman was driving down the wrong side of an 8 lane road, with a huge median dividing opposing traffic, about half a mile from my house. Not all elderly people are bad drivers, in fact i think both my grandparents(my grandpa is 82) are more than compentant, and would pass. We don't let 13 year old kids drive, because we don't think they could handle it, but an 85 year old woman probobly wouldn't be much better. They cause so many problems, whether it's driving too slowly, or making illegal turns. I know they don't intend to do this, but people reach a point when their minds/reflexes just aren't what they once were. When people reach a certain age, say maybe 70 or 75, they should have to start taking road tests again, for their own sake, as well as everyone else's.

    [ Parent ]
    All people should be tested (3.00 / 1) (#271)
    by iwnbap on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:11:17 PM EST


    At intervals of about 5 years.  And if they display ignoprance of the traffic laws or porr reaction times, they should not habe a licence.

    [ Parent ]
    You should be tested (1.00 / 1) (#279)
    by gnarled on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:26:26 PM EST

    Perhaps people should be tested for spelling/typing abilities every five years and if they show ignorance of how to type or spell, their k5 login could be revoked.

    Now, more to the point, testing every five years would weed out very few drivers simply because how you drive in a testing situation is quite different from how you drive alone. Also, any idiot can quickly grab a copy of the driving rule book and study for twenty minutes and relearn all of those more obscure facts that they test you on.

    Besides, have you been to the DMV lately? It's crowded enough as it is. It really doesn't need the additional load of people coming in for driving tests that take 30 minutes each.
    --
    I'm a firm believer in the philosophy of a ruling class. Especially since I rule. -Randal, Clerks
    [ Parent ]
    For reaction times (3.00 / 1) (#285)
    by iwnbap on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:48:16 PM EST


    Use an empirical test of reaction time.  If you cannot react to a simulated child running across the road within half a second, no licence.  If you cannot maintain safe distance in a simulator, no licence.  Partly this would weed out true incompetents, but it would also remove the plausible denyability I see used as an excuse for tailgating.

    [ Parent ]
    that would cost a ton (3.00 / 1) (#371)
    by Mclaren on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:10:43 PM EST

    i bet you could find more efficient ways to make the roads safer, most 35 year olds still have sharp reflexes, same with most 50 year olds. I don't think that would weed out bad drivers, because if most people want to drive well, they can, but they choose to use cell phones and drive like an asshole.

    [ Parent ]
    Groceries (3.66 / 3) (#278)
    by iwnbap on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:26:04 PM EST

    I've seen numerous posts along the lines of "I need to carry groceries, and for that I need a car". Why not find a grocery store which delivers? My local one does, to a 5 kilometre radius, for a small fee (approx 4 dollars, plus extra if you've more than 10 bags). I walk to do most of my shopping on account of this. Surely in the US, where they can afford to hae an extra staff member to pack your grocery bags on each register[!] the store could afford a delivery service on a similar basis.

    In other words, the reason for the "need" to have a car is that your city aldermen and local businesses have decided to subsidise car infrastructure at the expense of other kinds of infrastructure.

    I get my groceries by bicycle (3.00 / 1) (#289)
    by pfaffben on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:31:05 AM EST

    since I don't have a car. I have folding baskets on both sides of the rear rack, a basket that fastens to the top of the rear racket, and a big backpack. I can get enough groceries at a time that I don't need to go shopping more than once a week, and fresh fruit and vegetables don't last that long anyway.

    [ Parent ]
    Exactly (3.00 / 1) (#321)
    by jackelder on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:06:24 AM EST

    We get the local supermarket to deliver (Cambridge UK, Tescos online - £5 for the groceries to your door) bulk food about every fortnight, then pop into the local shops about twice a week to stock up on perishables. It's much easier than people think.
    __ sabre-toothed portillo
    [ Parent ]
    Grocerygateway (3.00 / 1) (#341)
    by DodgyGeezer on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:39:33 AM EST

    I've used http://www.grocerygateway.com/ here in Toronto.  The fresh produce and bread isn't up to my standards, but the rest works out really well.  However, I used to do a whole weeks shopping and carry it in a rucksack.  If I needed a lot of stuff, I would take my 65 litre one that I used to go camping with.  That wasn't always particularly safe though as it gets big and heavy enough that it affects mobility and the ability to look.  If you live close to a supermarket, it's not impractical to go more than once a week.  If you have children: enrol them in the shopping!  If you live in one of those disgusting belts of suburbia and it really is too much effort: shame on you for destroying the environment!

    [ Parent ]
    Amen (3.00 / 1) (#354)
    by MKalus on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:11:39 PM EST

    >> If you live in one of those disgusting belts of suburbia and it really is too much effort: shame on you for destroying the environment!<<

    I agree, I live downtown and I would agree with the comments about Grocerygateway. Perishable and heavy stuff I order from them, fruits and veggies I tend to buy at the farmers market (Lawrence Market).
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]

    Panniers and rack! (3.00 / 1) (#356)
    by Matadon on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:20:38 PM EST

    I've got a Jandd Expedition Rack on the back of my commuter bike, as well as a set of Expedition panniers and an Expedition rack trunk.  I can hold more than a week's worth of groceries.  Although the initial set up wasn't terribly cheap (around $500), I can use it for cyclotouring, and the Jandd equipment is incredibly well-built and durable; I expect it to last longer than I will.

    --
    "There's this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out." — Richard Dawkins.
    [ Parent ]
    Similar idea. (3.00 / 1) (#384)
    by DuckSauce on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:27:03 PM EST

    I use these two and a backpack. I usually get enough groceries for about two weeks.



    Topeak QR Beam Rack
    Topeak Jumbo Trunk

    Both of these work excellent and they don't cost $500.

    .

    [ Parent ]

    watch out for... (3.00 / 1) (#281)
    by anarcat on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 11:32:54 PM EST

    • Taxis: those folks often overtake on the right to get to their destination faster, either ignoring traffic there (often a lone cyclist  enjoying an empty lane) or harrassing it. Don't let yourself be thrown around by them. They are at fault if they overtake on the right, don't be shy to tell them.
    • Buses: either let them pass or overtake them for good, but don't race with them. Contrary with cars, they're pretty long and big and can (sometimes unvoluntarly) throw you off the roadway when overtaking you. Traffic on right lanes is supposed to be slower and this is where you belong if you're not faster than the general traffic.  
    • Lunatic commutters: car drivers and pedestrians don't have to pay as much attention as you to do road and often get their attention off the road, especially in traffic jams. They will cut your path and do things that will appear to be nonsensical. Be prepared for any eventuality. One explanation I have come up with this is that car drivers don't necessarly drive because they like it, more because they must. And that also sometimes means that they will not be as good as they should.


    Cycles in Traffic (4.00 / 2) (#300)
    by ekips on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:33:15 AM EST

    I come from a very bike-friendly city, so seeing all these woes about bicycling in the UK and other parts of my own country is very bizarre for me. We have a very nice system of bicycle routing/integration. I'll outline:

    Under Oregon law, bikes are vechiles. As such, if they must make a left turn, or must be in the road: this is completely legal, and drivers must pass them as they would any other vehicle: switch lanes to do it. If they can't do this, they're stuck behind them until the bicyclist turns or gets out of the lane. This is not a common problem as cyclists are hardly ever in traffic. The reason for this: almost every divided roadway has a bike lane. Even major one-way streets have bike lanes on both sides. These bike lanes are respected as separate lanes and you have to check to make sure there's not a cyclist in this lane before turning as you would before making any other sort of turn. I've found this works very well: the only time I've been cut off in the bike lane was by a California driver turning into the exit of a gas station.

    2: We have about 40 miles of bicycle/pedestrian/skateboard-exclusive paths, completely separate from the roadways. Horse-drawn carriages are not allowed on these paths, and they're just a tad narrower than any street. There is ample room for one bicyclist to overtake another even with many cycles also coming the opposite direction. There's a rule posted at every entrance to the bike path: "Ride right, pass left. Give warning when passing." All cyclists follow the first rule, most follow the second. Here in our community, we don't give warning by a bell or whistle. We yell out "On your left!" (or right, depending on the situation) so the cycle/ped/skateboarder the cyclist is overtaking knows where to go to get out of their way.

    Thirdly, and lastly: on roads where there is a shoulder, but no bike lane, it is assumed that the shoulder is a place where bicyclists will be riding. If the road is a narrow, residential road with no lane dividers and no shoulder, but is commonly known as a bike route, a sign will be posted marking in which directions the bike route extends from the intersection.

    These few simple rules and provisions have led to a very bike-safe and friendly community.

    -----------------

    This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. If this had been an actual emergency, do you really think we'd stick around to tell you?
    The "door zone" (5.00 / 2) (#305)
    by chrswill on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:43:29 AM EST

    In Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I live, a large number of bicyclists share the roads with automobiles. Cambridge is a densely populated city with congested, narrow streets, so in order to ease traffic, the city council has actively encouraged bicycle use for about the past decade. The city even formed a Bicycle Committee to advise the council on the design of bike lanes, which have now been painted along some of the busier streets in Cambridge, beginning in about 1995.

    Ironically, these bike lanes actually encourage unsafe cycling behavior because they are poorly designed. While bike lanes are a good idea in theory, most streets in Cambridge have parallel parking along the curbs. This means that instead of running along the right-hand curb, the bike lanes are sandwiched between the right lane of traffic and a row of parked cars. This area is called the "door zone" because the doors of parked cars can swing open and block the path of a bicyclist. This is where the bike lanes are painted. (See pictures that illustrate the problem.)

    The Cambridge Bicycle Committee was actually critical of this bike lane design, but their complaints were largely ignored until July 2nd, when Dana Laird was killed on her bicycle while traveling in the designated bike lane on Massachusetts Avenue. The driver of a parked SUV opened his door into Laird's path, and she either collided with the door or attempted to swerve, and fell underneath the wheels of a passing bus in the right-hand traffic lane. (See this article in the Boston Phoenix, and photos of the accident scene. Also see a resource page which includes a detailed analysis of the accident.)

    I drive a car in Cambridge, and I check the "door zone" compulsively for bicycles. I find myself wishing they would go ahead and take up the whole right-hand lane, so that I could be assured of seeing them. During rush hour bicycles easily keep pace with automobiles, and they can continue moving in the door zone when traffic is stopped at a red light. This means that even a vigilant driver can be surprised by a bicyclist overtaking him on the right. I guess I'd have to say that I'm an advocate of the "vehicular cycling" school. I think bikes should behave like cars when in city traffic.

    Re: The door zone (5.00 / 1) (#312)
    by NotZed on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:30:15 AM EST

    I worked in Boston for about 9 months over 2 years, and i'm surprised more things like this dont happen on Mass Ave, the whole road is a death trap. Particulalry in Cambridge, where the road surface is very substandard in addition to the crazy traffic and narrowness. Actually I had a friend who was taken out by a SUV on the Memorial drive corner while they were doing roadworks, and very nearly killed. They're not called ``massholes'' for nothing.

    Here in Adelaide (South Australia) they have a lot of bike lanes, it is also a relatively flat city, and with generally fair weather (even mid-winter it rarely rains much), cycling is a very popular way to commute. Fortunately most of the roads are broader and far less trafficed than in Boston too, although Adelaide drivers have a similar reputation to their Boston counterparts (and deservedly so i might add).

    In many back streets the 'door lane' problem is even worse though, as only the outside of the lane is marked, which attempts to separate moving cars and cyclists, which is a noble cause. But it provides parking cars with a gigantic 'parking lane' which they tend to either use to park badly, or as a vehicular boarding area. Pedestrians use either form of cycling lane almost exclusively (and without looking) as a pedestrian lane, they often get quite put out when a bicycle happens to use the lane for its intended purpose (a bell comes in handy, although a cricket bad would be more desirable if a little unwieldy :). Taxis often use it as a second parking area, regardless of whether it is next to a parallel parking area (normally taken) or not (but then taxi's tend to do things like that anywhere anyway). Busses are just murderous!

    I had a prang a few years ago on such a road and somehow got away with only a scar across my chest and some bruises; you couldn't close the door on the car without some body repairs though. If it had have been a 4wd (suv) rather than a small japanese car, things might have been different. Yes we also have a problem with the increasing use of the "death-machine suv", often piloted by occasional (read: bad) drivers (e.g. used to pick up kids from school).

    The Adelaide City Council, in all its wisdom, has recently started narrowing many roads in the city, where the footpath is extended for small sections around intersections, pedestrian crossings, or restaurants. Here you are usually forced to veer out into traffic, to avoid the uneven gutter, pedestrians close to it or signs/bollards at its edge. In some areas they seem bent on forcing the traffic into single lanes surrounded by high gutters, with no space for a cycle lane either. A particularly absurd construction is along Halifax Street, surrounded by a park, and right next to Adelaide's largest bike shop. Generally though, Adelaide's councils have done a lot to provide decent cycle lanes in many areas, in some cases spending a lot of money widening roads to accomodate them on popular transit routes.

    Adelaide has a couple of decent off-road cycling areas too that service a limited area. But some parts of those have been closed to cyclists because they were too dangerous to pedestrians, usually forcing cyclists to use some of the most dangerous sections of the roads entering the city. And on the rest, children or pedestrians or animals create other hazards at different times of the day - apparently a major problem in Canberra which has a very well developed off-road cycling system which is probably more dangerous than on-road cycling as a result (so i've been told). I'm just recovering from a crash caused by a child losing control of his bike and veering onto my side of the track. Partially my fault as i was travelling too fast around a blind corner on a Sunday afternoon, but i've had about as many near misses or accidents on cycle tracks as the road. Fortunately i missed the child and didn't even scratch his bike, although i ended up with a couple of bad sprains and scratches which wrote off a couple of days of work.

    Still, i'll keep cycling. Its the only real exercise I get, and I love being independenty mobile. Apart from commuting (which i dont even have to do presently), there are a lot of nice places to ride such as to the beach, the hills (both were something i sorely missed in Boston :) or linear park. A more aggressive rider can manage a host of some of the best wineries in the world (~100km round trip) and some very pleasant sea and landscapes, although country roads are another issue.

    Helmets are required here by law, and I think even bells are, but they're both handy to have anyway And cycles are treated as road vehicles for most road laws, although a few more car drivers could be educated about that fact and some of the differences.

    [ Parent ]

    cycling in england and india (4.00 / 1) (#306)
    by jagbot on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:43:54 AM EST

    i come from india and grew up cycling from home to school - a distance of about 3 miles - the public transport was ok but very crowded in peak hours. road rage was quite common and we didnt wear any helmets, reflective clothing etc to protect ourselves from the manic motor-cyclists or the huge lorries. i used to also take my little sister with me in the back seat carrier. hmm. those were the days and we survived :)

    now i am in london, england. a bit paunchy and trying to loose some of it. so i went out and bought a bike for 80 pounds. wasnt surprised that the cycle was made in india - the largest cycle manufacturer in the world. just a basic mountain bike with some gears. i ride along the thames path from the thames barrier near woolwich to cutty sark, greenwich. there is also a steep hill in a nearby park that has a roller coster downhill run. love it.

    cycling in england compared to india is a pleasure. however, most of the road users here are cars, vans and lorries and they move lot faster than in india. typically at 60 miles per hour. if u get hit, u r done for good. OTOH, the footpaths are quite empty. i ride as much as possible on them and cross the roads only at signals. i dont wear reflective clothing or helmet. its a matter of principle. i never wore it all my life. so why now? i also feel the whole excersise is to make u buy things on and on and on to sustain a cycle industry :) not to mention u loose the enjoyment of cycling if u r lugging a weight around.

    in india, there are lots of cyclists hence u could find a cycle shop every 1 mile or so. many of the workers in such shops are quite poor and often kids work there. yep, child labour. filling air for ur tyres was Indian Rupee (INR) 1 , a puncture set u back INR 2.50. i once thought my tire was punctured and went to Halfords (cycle/car congolomerate) and asked if the staff would sort my puncture out. they almost laughed at me and said i have to DIY (do it yourself) with a puncture kit. they only change the entire tube and the cost would be 12 pounds (8 pounds + 4 pounds labour). hell. that is 400 times costlier than a puncture in india! hmm. the wonders of child labour eh??

    i would strongly encourage you to cycle to work if u can. i hate cars. most of them in london carry only 1 person and they waste a lot of space and cause traffic jams. and btw, i cant drive ;)

    Safety gear isn't heavy (3.00 / 1) (#319)
    by jackelder on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:01:48 AM EST

    My bicycle is my primary method of transportation. I make a point of always wearing a helmet and gloves for safety reasons (gloves protect your hands if you come off - you're more likely to damage your hands than head in a simple accident). The safety gear doesn't weight very much at all - my lock (which I definitely always carry) is much more of a pain in the neck. OK, so it's a bit annoying to lug a helmet around. I think it's worth it. And as to repairing punctures - it's a lot easier than you think. ;)
    __ sabre-toothed portillo
    [ Parent ]
    They wanted to charge £8 for a tube? (3.00 / 1) (#327)
    by eyeflare on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:07:43 AM EST

    That's amazing. Anyway, the reason bike shops will only change out the tube is that most times a repaired puncture will rupture again and the customer will demand a warranty repair. Or it will puncture in a different spot and the customer will irately demand a warranty repair. Causing everyone grief. Fitting a new tube means a better chance of neither happening.

    Repairing also takes more time, causing labor to increase to just about the point where you're still paying for the cost of a tube anyway.
    "There is no way to peace; peace is the way." -A. J. Muste. Go: www.eyeflare.com
    [ Parent ]

    DIY (3.00 / 1) (#385)
    by DodgyGeezer on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:45:56 PM EST

    I always fix my own punctures.  In the time that it takes you to walk the average half mile to the next shop in India, I will have got the wheel and tyre off, found and fixed the puncture, checked for anything that might cause another puncture and be starting to put the tyre back on the rim.  Perhaps I will be further along.  I've had a couple punctures in the past on the way to work - I repaired them and was less than 20 minutes late.


    [ Parent ]
    On cycling in traffic. (3.00 / 1) (#308)
    by Apuleius on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:11:41 AM EST

    I don't know how well this bears out in other cities, but in the Boston area I found that there was no route I needed to take, where I couldn't find side streets with no traffic at all. So, I was helping the atmosphere without snarling traffic. And the few main streets I took had bike lanes that allowed drivers to overtake me without a second thought.


    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    that's the difference between.. (3.00 / 1) (#344)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:00:41 AM EST

    That's the difference between the city and the burbs. There's only one east-west road that goes all the way from my house to where I work; there are a couple roads that go part of the distance, but they quickly clog with traffic as well.


    --
    Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


    [ Parent ]

    I used to (3.00 / 1) (#309)
    by Quila on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:11:45 AM EST

    I used to bike a lot, even the 10 mile trip into town or the 5-mile uphill to work (back down was fun though). But now the distances are just too much, so my biking's down. Where I live now there are a good system of bike paths on the sidewalks (giving room for pedestrians and bikes), and when a bike's on the road, it's considered to have all the rights of a car.

    It's a good system except for when bikes are trying to pass another bike on the paths and run over pedestrians, or the ones on the road want all the rights of a vehicle but none of the responsibilities.

    For those in the latter categories, I suggest war before the new "car's always at fault" law takes effect. How many times have we as drivers had to swerve or brake to avoid a bicyclist disobeying traffic laws? Well, don't anymore. When that bicyclist runs the red light, run him over. If you're going to always be at fault later, do it now while you're not. Even it out in the long run. Of course, remain respectful of the bikes obeying the law.

    I say we require some level of insurance for the bicyclists on public roads, or actually jack up the penalties to what they are for cars. That cyclist who ran a red light in front of me a while ago only got a warning from the Polizei who saw her. I would have lost my license for months plus received a few hundred Euro fine if I had done it in my car, while the most she could have gotten is a 20 Euro fine.

    It's going to be just like the poor countries with people running their bikes under your car so they can get a settlement.

    The Polizei was right (4.00 / 2) (#314)
    by Alan Crowe on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:04:51 AM EST

    That cyclist who ran a red light in front of me a while ago only got a warning from the Polizei who saw her. I would have lost my license for months plus received a few hundred Euro fine if I had done it in my car, while the most she could have gotten is a 20 Euro fine.

    The job of the police is to protect others from criminals and idiots. How much protection does a motorist crossing on green need from being T-boned by a cyclist running the red? Not much. How much protection does a motorist crossing on green need from being T-boned by a car running the red? Re-inforced doors and side airbags are a start. Legal protect is important too.

    Motorists are justly held to much higher standards of behaviour than cyclists.



    [ Parent ]
    How much (2.66 / 3) (#316)
    by Quila on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:48:17 AM EST

    How much protection does a motorist need from having to swerve to avoid hitting a bicycle, thus hitting some other car or fixed object? I was lucky the guy behind me was paying attention too.

    On another subject, don't talk to me about airbags. They suck.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: How Much (2.00 / 1) (#355)
    by jazman_777 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:18:23 PM EST

    On another subject, don't talk to me about airbags. They suck

    No, they blow.

    [ Parent ]

    Actually, (3.00 / 1) (#408)
    by Quila on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:58:24 AM EST

    They explode, right in your face. I had a 20 mph accident, speed at impact maybe 5-8 mph, airbag deployed, all injuries (heavy cuts and bruises) only from the airbag -- none from the accident itself. I have damaged hearing in one ear now too. Most of the damage to the car was from the airbag too; otherwise, only some bumper damage.

    To give you an idea of the sound, roll up the windows and light-off an M80 on your dashboard. I can't think of anything that can replicate that thing exploding into your chest, with the plastic casing shredding your skin.

    At least my new car doesn't have one.

    [ Parent ]

    US style airbag? (none / 0) (#437)
    by Curieus on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 05:40:02 AM EST

    Hmm, not a familiar problems with airbags in my neigbourhood, or are we here talking about US style airbags?

    I understood that those were designed for people who refuse to wear seatbelts and therefore are made much more "aggressive" than european (and asian?) ones.

    [ Parent ]

    was U.S. (none / 0) (#452)
    by Quila on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 05:12:37 AM EST

    I have heard they were stronger.

    They shouldn't have made them at all without further study and features, such as variable-strength deployment depending on speed. Mandating them before this caused injuries and cost lives. I still think we should be putting some bureaucrats in jail for accessory to murder.

    [ Parent ]

    What car? (none / 0) (#466)
    by McKracken on Sat Aug 24, 2002 at 06:50:22 PM EST

    I can only assume that you were driving an american made car... Am I right?

    [ Parent ]
    Something to think about (3.00 / 1) (#367)
    by NoNeckJoe on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 01:07:59 PM EST

    Yeah, cyclists can be pricks at times.  But think about this.

    You, in a car, are in control (and I use the word control in the loosest sense) of several tons of steel that will squish most organic matter that gets in its way.

    Cyclists are in control (and I use the word in a much more flattering sense) of a few pounds of steel, and need every advantage that they can get.

    My personal opinion is that at least 50% of the population should have their licenses revoked.

    [ Parent ]

    Not quite (3.00 / 1) (#409)
    by Quila on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:03:39 AM EST

    Well below a ton in my case, although I do get your point. But bicyclists can cause accidents to, with injuries to those other than themselves. They should therefore be held responsible -- equal laws for all.

    Make everyone get a license. If you can't drive responsibly, you ride. If you can't ride responsibly, you walk. Obviously, the bicycle requirements would be less than for car. Just a test on the rules and you get your license, but it does give you a system where you can yank licenses from irresponsible riders.

    Either that or no licenses for anyone. It used to be that way.

    [ Parent ]

    My Personal Safety Cycle mantra (3.66 / 3) (#311)
    by lrjh on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:19:59 AM EST

    I've been riding motorcycles/bicycles for 34 of my 42 years and in that time have had two minor accidents (not of my own doing) and innumerable near misses. Throughout that time I have always attempted to heed this simple advice:
      'At any time, in any situation with any other road user, always be prepared to act on the fact that they will do exactly the thing that will cause you most harm!'
    Alarmist - maybe? Didactic - most likely? Life saving for me - absolutely!

    Everyone else is trying to kill you (4.00 / 2) (#390)
    by skwelch on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:48:18 PM EST

    "Act like everyone else on the road is trying to kill you" - (Craig, guy who sold me a motorcycle.) This pretty much sums up all the technical advice out there, and "Don't be a dumbass" - (me) covers all the common sensicals you hear. Invisibility is the last thing I want when commuting on my bicycle, just stay where the bike lane should be, and get in front of traffic making sure they know it when you need to make a left or something else pops up. If a motorist wants to tail you and refuses to pass, go ahead and actually pull in front of them and negate the risk of garbage can/dead bloated raccoon/big thing making you swerve into their path. And stay in perspective, there is no such thing as a "fender-bender" on a bicycle or motorcycle, so watch your ass and lookout for your peers when roles are reversed.

    [ Parent ]
    Here in the Netherlands.. (3.00 / 1) (#313)
    by Treenaks on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:50:30 AM EST

    there's separate lanes for cyclists almost everywhere, and protective stuff (helmet, etc.) isn't needed. Motorists know (and are taught explicitly) to pay attention to the bicycle lane and almost everyone over the age of 5 can ride a bike.

    I've been biking to school and work for more than 10 years now and the only accident I've had was my own fault (overtaking another cyclist while someone else was overtaking me.. stupid move).



    Berlin (3.00 / 1) (#317)
    by trailside on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:48:39 AM EST

    My experience in Berlin is similar. I started cycling in the UK, and drivers there will do their best to ignore you, and try to squeeze past where there just isn't enough room.

    Here in Berlin, motorists (in general) pay attention to cyclists and are reasonably patient with them. For such a big city, this surprised me.

    Such nice cycling conditions don't mean we should get complacent though!



    [ Parent ]

    Protection (3.00 / 1) (#325)
    by tpv on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:45:22 AM EST

    protective stuff (helmet, etc.) isn't needed

    Do you really mean it isn't needed, or isn't required (legally)?

    I think it is always needed.
    My helmet has saved my skull, even in the absence of motorists.

    e.g. I was riding on a cycleway, it was mostly empty, and I hit a small patch of sand. The bike slid, I landed head-first, and got dragged along the concrete. I took large amounts of skin off three fingers, and had a massive burn where my shirt had been dragged against my shoulder.

    I don't ride a bike without a helmet. Ever.
    Gloves are good too, but cycle gloves are generally fingerless, so they wouldn't have helped too much.

    --
    'I would therefore like to posit that computing's central challenge, viz. "How not to make a mess of it", has not been met.'

    [ Parent ]

    Protection (3.00 / 1) (#339)
    by Treenaks on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:26:11 AM EST

    Do you really mean it isn't needed, or isn't required (legally)? They aren't required legally, and nobody except for small kids wear them. I've fallen with my bike a few times, but never had any injuries a bicycle helmet could have prevented (you won't find people crazy enough to wear a full helmet anyway) It's just overkill... I mean.. most motorists watch out because they know what it's like to be a cyclist (because they went to school on their bicycles most likely)

    [ Parent ]
    Hmm. (none / 0) (#433)
    by EriKZ on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 01:59:08 AM EST

    Normally I'd agree with you. But I've just started cycling in Boulder, CO and I've noticed that almost EVERYONE is wearing a helmet.

    I suspect that they're not just being cautious, but have learned from the school of hard knocks.

    [ Parent ]

    Skeptical on helmets (none / 0) (#449)
    by rajulkabir on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:54:10 PM EST

    Helmet-free for 25 years of daily bike commuting on 5 continents, here.

    I've been to the emergency room three or four times from bike crashes (almost always from getting doored, which is why I don't ride between the right lane and parked cars anymore). Lots of stitches and broken bones, but my head still works (or not; you can judge for yourself by my posts!). Learn how to land. From the moment you sense something going wrong, everything you do should be about how you're going to land. It sounds dumb, but go out into the woods and practice crashing.

    I particularly agree that they're entirely unnecessary (and very rare) in the Netherlands, where bike paths are well-maintained, free of obstructions, and largely isolated from car and pedestrian traffic. You have to try pretty hard to have a serious bike accident there. I see a lot of slow-motion "fender-benders" when bike traffic backs up during rush hour, but nothing more serious than a stain on someone's clothes. The only serious hazard is crossing wet tram tracks!

    In any case, head injuries are quite common among car passengers and drivers as well. Why don't they wear helmets, and where's the nanny-whining movement to force them to?



    [ Parent ]
    Landing (none / 0) (#461)
    by tpv on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 12:29:25 AM EST

    Learn how to land

    Wearing and making use of your protection is a big part of that though.
    I blade more than I bike, and I don't (usually) wear a helmet when I do that. However, I always wear wrist/hand guards, and the key to landing is knowing that your wrists are (basically) safe to fall on.

    It's a similar thing on a motorbike. Sometimes the safest thing to do it put the bike down, rather than ride into an accident. But you won't feel safe doing that unless you've got leathers (or similar) on.

    I'd much rather wear a helmet and feel save to have an accident, than go without, and spend time trying to avoid them. YMMV.
    --
    'I would therefore like to posit that computing's central challenge, viz. "How not to make a mess of it", has not been met.'
    Edsger Dijkstra (1930-2002) EWD1304
    [ Parent ]

    Training (3.66 / 3) (#320)
    by trailside on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:04:03 AM EST

    I agree wholeheartedly with getting some formal training and learning to ride with confidence. I see plenty of cyclists on my daily commute who wobble all over the place because they've set off in too high a gear or are completely oblivious to the rules of the road. It's interesting to try and distinguish the cyclists who also drive a car from those who don't!

    My cycling skills also improved enormously after learning to ride a motorbike. Things like the "lifesaver" check (looking over your shoulder at the inside of your turn, regardless of which way you're turning) I now do instinctively on my bicycle. I've only needed it once or twice, but that's all it takes.

    I did some training with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, which has made me think much more carefully about my driving and riding. I recommend it if you're thinking about how to improve your road skills (and are in the UK).



    Lifesaver check (3.00 / 1) (#415)
    by x31eq on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:44:54 AM EST

    I always do that when I'm walking. A couple of times I've narrowly avoided walking into a bicycle. Nobody uses bells these days ...

    [ Parent ]
    Cycling without a Bicycle (3.00 / 2) (#332)
    by jynx on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:01:40 AM EST

    I often commute by unicycle. No, stop laughing, I'm serious! Unicycles have a number of pros and cons over their two-wheeled cousins:

    Disadvantages:

    • Efficiency. Without gears you can only achieve high speeds with a big wheel. But increasing the wheel size makes hills etc. more difficult.
    • Learning curve. Admittedly unicycling is a but more tricky to learn than bicycling. But still, anyone can do it with a bit of practice. I did it in under 2 weeks, and I'm the kind of person who has always shyed away from physical activities due to being somewhat uncoordinated.
    • Heckling. As soon as you get on a unicycle you will discover that 1 in 3 people think the question "Where's your other wheel?" is a) Original and b) Funny.
    Advantages:
    • Safety. In the UK it's legal to ride a unicycle on the pavement, away from the cars. Speed tends to be lower and you have more control than a bike (in that you can step off and land on your feet at any time). This makes unicyle accidents involving other people pretty rare.
    • Size. You can easily carry a unicycle on and off the train, tube, bus etc. This makes unicycle an excellent "last-mile" solution for people that would use public transport but can't because it doesn't go quite to the right place.
    • Fun. Unicycling is lot of fun. It can be as challenging as you like, as there are always new skills to learn.
    • Fitness. Just like bicycling, unicycling gets you fit, and improves your balance.

    --

    It's ok (2.00 / 1) (#349)
    by RyoCokey on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:18:56 AM EST

    They mock me and my tricycle as well. :(



    The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
    [ Parent ]
    I look for jobs I can cycle to (4.50 / 2) (#338)
    by DodgyGeezer on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:24:31 AM EST

    One of my priorities when I look for a job is one that I can get to without a car.  I like driving, I just object to it as a way of life.

    Being English, I'd never been more than 2 miles from where I needed to on a regular basis, so cycling has always been my number one choice of transportation.  When I moved to Denver in Colorado a few years ago, I tried to continue this philosphy, and didn't buy a car.

    Denver was quite an experience.  I was 5 miles from work in one direction, and 10 miles from downtown in the other.  Downtown was a lovely 45 minutes on the Cherry Creek trail (buses were at least 70 minutes).  The buses even gained some German bike racks when I was there, which meant I could cycle on days when snow was forecast :D.  I'd always been opposed to cycling helmets (well, people do look stupid in them!), but the drivers there scared me in to it, and now I won't go out without wearing one.  The drivers there really aren't able to handle commuting cyclists - on several occasions I had people sit on my arse for 0.5 miles before giving me a whole lane clearance to pass!  The roads are really wide, and I think I wouldn't have trouble a cyclist in a Hummer.  (If you know Denver, I'm referring to Yosemite heading in to the Tech Center).  Most of the cyclists on the roads there are health freaks in clicky shoes and far too tight shorts, who appear at weekends in the summer when the commuters don't learn how to deal with them.

    The worst point was when I fell asleep at the handlebars one night leaving work.  Fortunately I was only going about 10-15mph when I hit the median rather the gap in it.  I broke my arm :(  I'm just glad I wasn't driving as I don't fancy losing it at 70mph on the Interstate.  I'm not so over-worked these days thankfully.

    The health affects of cycling are immense.  It kept me disgustingly thin at about 120lbs (I'm 6' 1").  I gained 20lbs in the two months I was off with a broken arm, but promptly lost it again in a few weeks when I restarted cycling.  I'm not a health freak, but I think the exercise I was getting was the bare minimum for somebody my age.  I certainly can't make myself go to gyms (how dull!), so cycling is a very good way of building exercise in to ones lifestyle.  Cycling to work, you have a purpose and so it's not an issue of trying to motivate yourself to exercise for exercise's sake.

    Now I'm living in Toronto.  Why would anybody drive in to the city centre?  I guess if you live more than the 3.5km away that I do.  I can get around much faster on a bicycle, I don't have to look for or pay ridiculous prices for parking, and it is very convenient.  There are a fair number of cyclists on the roads here, yet many of them shouldn't be.  The number of times I've had to brake very hard and swerve to avoid cyclists walking out between cars and mounting up without looking to their left (or right on one-way streets) is ridiculous and just asking for trouble.

    I bought my bicycle second-hand for US$125.  It was 10 years old and had seen some action (the previous owner used to cycle it up in to the mountains).  It has 12 gears and goes like a bat out of hell.  However, it makes a great commuter bike because if it does get all knackered (and it will at some point), it hasn't cost me much.  Punctures were a nightmare in Colorado, what with all the thorns.  I had a flat at least once a week.  I put an end to that with puncture-proof tyre liners.  They make it really painfully getting thin tyres on and off, but they do save on pumping.  I only had about one humungous thorn that made it through in two years after getting them, and a couple that got in around the side.  Well worth it.

    Finally, I think it's VERY important for cyclists to obey the laws of the road.  They want respect from drivers, and they want to be treated like another vehicle?  Then don't do stupid things like riding against traffic on one-way streets, or cycling at night without lights (can you say organ donor on wheels?), or just being plain irritating like running red lights.  I get pissed off with other cyclists for doing this as it gives all of us a hard time, and makes motorists less respectful.  Most of the time it's just plain laziness, too.

    Sheesh: this has turned in to a long post.  Sorry.

    What??? (3.00 / 1) (#364)
    by MKalus on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:51:00 PM EST

    >> The health affects of cycling are immense.  It kept me disgustingly thin at about 120lbs (I'm 6' 1").  I gained 20lbs in the two months I was off with a broken arm, but promptly lost it again in a few weeks when I restarted cycling. <<

    How do you manage that??? I am roughly the same height as you are and clock in at around 178 pounds, and it's not that I am not active....

    That's just scary.
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]

    Heh-heh! (3.00 / 1) (#407)
    by phliar on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:47:50 AM EST

    It kept me disgustingly thin at about 120lbs (I'm 6' 1").
    How do you manage that??? I am roughly the same height as you are and clock in at around 178 pounds,
    When I was racing, 5' 11", 135 lbs (180cm/61 kg). Now I'm 150 lbs (68 kg).

    It must be all that leg-hair I got rid of.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Nah Can't be. (none / 0) (#421)
    by MKalus on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:56:59 AM EST

    >>When I was racing, 5' 11", 135 lbs (180cm/61 kg). Now I'm 150 lbs (68 kg).

    It must be all that leg-hair I got rid of.<<

    I don't have any either.....

    There must be something else..... Musclemass maybe?

    Geez, stop scaring me, I am still dropping weight at times (well at least the pants get a lot looser lately)

    Michael
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]

    Hello Skeletor (3.00 / 1) (#365)
    by NoNeckJoe on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 01:02:38 PM EST

    It kept me disgustingly thin at about 120lbs

    Holy shit.  I'm 6' tall and weigh 165lbs.  When I was diagnosed with diabetes 10 years ago I weighed 120lbs, and all of my friends said that skeletons looked better than I did.

    [ Parent ]

    I hate you (3.00 / 1) (#370)
    by Cro Magnon on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:03:37 PM EST

    I'm 6'1" but I weigh 200 pounds! And though I certainly can stand to lose some of it, I'm still reasonably fit.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    lbs / kg? (2.00 / 1) (#373)
    by Rhodes on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:22:10 PM EST

    Your weight doesn't seem quite right are you having conversion issues? (190 lbs. @ 5' 10")

    [ Parent ]
    My weight (3.00 / 1) (#381)
    by DodgyGeezer on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:55:00 PM EST

    To all the people that have commented on weight (damn: is that all that came out of my post?):

    Yes, that was correct.  No, I'm not having problems converting between lbs & kgs - in fact it's only in the last 2 years of being in N. America that I've stopped thinking in stones and lbs and converting to just lbs when talking to the locals.  My nickname at school was "string-ee", and fortunately I knew somebody skinnier who got the honour of being called "bag of bones". :D

    I've been sitting on my arse working from home for the last 2.5 years.  12-18 mos into that, my weight peaked at 155 lbs.  It's now dropping again as I'm training for a marathon (a personal goal that I set myself a few years ago for achievement before I reach 30).

    Yes, I used to be disgusted with my weight, and certainly didn't feel healthy.  My body wasn't able to deal very effectively with sudden shocks to the system, such as colds, rapid temperature change, missing meals, etc.  A friend at university when I was 18 (and 110 lbs) estimated that I was eating 3,500-4,500 calories per day.  And yes, I'm always hot - I sit at home in winter with the thermostat set at 16C as it allows me to wear something more interesting that a t-shirt.  I used to get so irritated with people going on endlessly about their failed efforts to lose weight - little did they imagine that somebody in the room "with a metabolism to be jealous of" wanted just as desperately to *gain* weight.

    No, I don't believe in going to gyms and beefing up.  I just live with it.  Interestingly, I have a couple of friends who are still skinnier than me.  I wonder if it's a British vs. N. American thing.  Perhaps I should start eating a full English breakfast everyday - surely that would an affect, although I don't think my arteries need to be "strengthened".

    [ Parent ]

    Denver (none / 0) (#444)
    by bouncing on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 11:52:31 AM EST

    It's interesting that you mention Denver in a negative tone in terms of cycling-friendliness. For an American big city, Denver is generally regarded as extremely cyclist-friendly. I'm a native Boulderite myself, have lived in Denver, and currently live in San Antonio. San Antonio makes Denver look like a 100% pro-cycling community. In San Antonio, the drivers are stupid, ignorant, incompetent, and everyone drives a truck. And that's in regular traffic. Add bikes into the mix and these people go nuts!

    You might try Boulder, CO or Portland, OR. They are generally regarded as America's most cyclist-friendly cities. But Denver is still up there on the list.

    [ Parent ]

    Staring Death in the Face (3.50 / 2) (#358)
    by jazman_777 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:26:39 PM EST

    Just today, I had this happen: I was driving, and I came to an intersection where there are two left-turn lanes. I typically get in the right lane of the two. Today, a biker darted out from the far right, across my front, into the leftmost lane. Then, making the turn, the guy cuts across me _again_, into the far-right side of the road. This is in Seattle, which is generally biker-friendly. Maybe some bikers are getting a little cocky. My reaction? I know that I don't want to plow over the guy, but secretly think, "if someone plows over him, he got what was coming to him."

    It can go both ways (4.00 / 1) (#404)
    by dazk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:58:50 AM EST

    I'm using my bike a lot. I used to live in larger city and biking was the only way to get somewhere fast. Now I live about 45km away from there and have to commute every day to my place of work. Going 90kms per day is a little much for me, besides it takes an awful lot of time so I usually ride the bike to the next trainstation, go a couple of stops and ride to work from there. Using public transport alone I'd have to switch trains 3 times.

    Talking about car/bike relation. I've seen just about everything. I usually ride my bike quite fast. The idiots that planned the roads for the city I live in decided to place trees every some meters right where the bicicle lane is. The bike lane goes around them with a sharp close to 90 degree turn right before and after. In addition to that hell, before and every driveway the curb is lowered and raised again. I know you can do it smoothly but them idiots decided to do it within less than half a meter. That means it's permanently going up and down and up and down and sharp turn right and sharp turn left and up and down ...

    That's the reason for me using the road ;)

    There you can experience cardrivers yelling at you to get the f*** of the road and use the bicicle lane (the obviously never used that sh**), you get drivers overtaking you just to turn right right in front of you. The only chance you get is break like hell. I noticed a lot of especially older drivers don't look for bikes at all. They dart out of their driveways and look afterwards or they turn without checking for bikes etc..

    It really is an experience to go to work by bike but it's worth it!
    ----- Copy kills music! Naaah! Greedyness kills Brain! Counter: Bought 17CDs this year because I found tracks of an album on fileshare and wanted it all.
    [ Parent ]

    calories or Calories? (3.00 / 2) (#359)
    by pdrap on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:32:47 PM EST

    It takes only 35 calories to move a bike a mile? Surely you must mean 35 Calories?

    a Calorie is a kilo-calorie.

    calories, Calories and kCal. (3.00 / 1) (#363)
    by MKalus on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:46:50 PM EST

    Actually when somebody takes about cal. he means kCal.

    And the average person burns around 100 kCal / 4 miles.

    M.
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]

    Blame the idiot who... (3.00 / 1) (#393)
    by semantix on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:21:11 PM EST

    ... thought a capital C would be an adequate distinguisher.  How lame.  People talk as well a read.  And as far as I know they sound the same.  Of course there was going to be confusion!
    Don't blame the author of the article, blame the person or persons responsible for the nomenclature.  Or start talking in joules because as far as I remember they are the SI unit for energy.  

    Semantix

    p.s. I realise you were just nitpicking and didn't "blame" him, but I thought it would be worth bringing up how lame the lower-case/upper-case distinction between these units was.

    [ Parent ]

    Love The Article (4.00 / 2) (#361)
    by sctfn on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 12:40:15 PM EST

    Finally! Someone else who cycles to work/school! I've been attempting to cycle the 10 mile round trip to my school and back for about a month now (I work at their summer camp). One note from the US side of the Atlantic, though. It's a lot harder to cycle in the States, since US transportation policy since about the 1950s has been to focus on good roads and the interstate highway system. While it is still possible (I start in suburbia and end up in the city), SUVs and the like make it a much more challenging task in America.

    Cycling is not good when (3.66 / 3) (#366)
    by darthaya on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 01:06:11 PM EST

    1: Your job requires you to wear suit.

    2: It is 100F outside and humidity is ridiculously high.

    3: It is 30F outside and snowing.

    4: you live on a hill top that spans many miles long. (tour de france everyday)

    and many many more reasons for me not to regretting getting a car after all those years of cycling to school.


    Thinkg about... (3.00 / 1) (#375)
    by MKalus on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:48:37 PM EST

    >>4: you live on a hill top that spans many miles long. (tour de france everyday)<<

    The legs, quads and strength (not to talk about your Cardio) you could get out of that.... I wish I had more hills where I live :| Instead I am pounding away on my bike locked into a trainer with Coach Troy yelling at me to go harder....

    Oh well. Come Race day.
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]

    Biking in incliment weather. (4.00 / 1) (#379)
    by digger250 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:44:52 PM EST

    Since I live in Minneapolis, the weather is often at extremes.  I do bike year round including temperatures below 0F. By dressing correctly, face mask, goggles, scarf, gloves. It's not any worse than waiting at the bus stop.  Plus, when you ride you generate heat and stay warm.

    In the summer 90 F temps, biking is cooler than walking due to the efficiency (about 5 times more efficient than walking) and the wonderful breeze.  My car doesn't have air conditioning so I'd much rather bike if possible.

    [ Parent ]

    Cycling is (almost) always good (4.00 / 1) (#414)
    by Sampo on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:09:49 AM EST

    1: Your job requires you to wear suit.

    Keep your suit in your office. Why would you want to commute in your suit anyway?

    4: you live on a hill top that spans many miles long. (tour de france everyday)

    As mdabaningay argued in his article: cycling is a very effective form of exercise.

    As for points 2 and 3. Yes it is true that a bike will not offer you shielding from the envrionment. But is two-three months (depending of course where you live) of non-cyclist-friendly weather a real argument against using bikes altogether?

    I myself am doing anything in my power to keep me away from owning a car. I almost feel ill when I see people hiding alone in their cars, polluting, wasting gasoline and getting aggravated at eachother. A total waste.



    [ Parent ]
    The dangers of cycling (3.00 / 3) (#372)
    by Jhudsy on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:21:15 PM EST

    When looking at the dangers of cycling with respect to fatalities per thousand/million/billion passenger hours, one has to remember that for many people, cycling is a ``toy'' activity. A large number of those fatalities include children who still lack the skills/maturity/whatever to ride in traffic, but do so anyway.

    I wonder how the fatalities per million passenger hours would look for cars if children were allowed to drive?

    Cheers
    Nir

    i'm an asshole bike commuter (4.00 / 3) (#374)
    by durkie on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 02:36:33 PM EST

    cycling is a huge part of my life. i'm absolutely addicted to biketrials (http://www.trialskings.com), and ride trials whenever i'm not commuting. i commute about 25 miles daily and i run stop signs, red lights, left turn lights, and skip to the front of the traffic queue. i have come up with a few thoughts on commuting. first of all, it appears the absolute number one rule of bike commuting is "use your godamn head." if you're passing a group of cars on the right that all have their turn signal on, it's likely you're going to plow right in to the side of one as it makes its turn. don't be stupid.

    second, i've always considered it my duty to avoid cars on the road. i figured i was the one that had to worry most about getting hit by them, not the other way around. in some ways, i want invisibility. i want cars to ignore me on a certain level. i want to be able to pass lines of cars in traffic and not have them worry about me. i want to be able to dart through an intersection in the few seconds between the other flow of traffic getting a red light and my flow of traffic getting the left turn signal. you can pass me pretty damn close to the shoulder and i'll still make it. i'm just trying to get to work. just leave me alone, because it seems the only time you pay attention to me is to yell "FAGGOT" at me or honk as if to ask "what the hell is THIS doing on MY road?"

    i know that's a hard thing to ask of cars, but road riding isn't for everyone. it's exhilarating, hot, loud, smelly, abusive and unrelenting. if you're on the road, you probably mean to be.

    Illegal cycling? (none / 0) (#432)
    by Moebius on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:09:41 PM EST

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was always told that (in the United States) if you choose to bike in the streets, you basically are required to act like a car - i.e. no running lights, no illegal turns, etc. Am I wrong in this or are you just flouting the law?

    [ Parent ]
    Illegal Cycling (none / 0) (#443)
    by bouncing on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 11:44:40 AM EST

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was always told that (in the United States) if you choose to bike in the streets, you basically are required to act like a car - i.e. no running lights, no illegal turns, etc. Am I wrong in this or are you just flouting the law?
    The laws vary from state to state, but you are correct: He is flouting the law. In the United States, there are some traffic laws that are enforced in some regions, and some that are completely ignored in other regions. Cops generally don't ticket cyclists, although in some cities, they are now starting to see a growing problem of aggresive cycling and issuing some citations (tickets).

    [ Parent ]
    He is flouting the law. Good for him. (5.00 / 2) (#448)
    by rajulkabir on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:41:30 PM EST

    Yes, you're correct, he is flouting the law. More power to him; they're bad laws. I support him as much as I support flouting the laws that Dr. King broke in Alabama (my ethnicity allows me to make this statement without fear of recourse from the PC police).

    Drivers murder more people in the USA every single month than bin Laden killed in his lifetime. Cars are a terrible, violent, destructive force and any law that treats them the same as bicycles is laughably unjust.

    From a practical (and perhaps less controversial) perspective, traffic laws are there to promote safety for others and efficiency of movement for all. Requiring bicycles to stay in lane and to wait at lights provides neither. Bicyclists have no blind spots and perfect road vision (as well as better acceleration and stopping distance than cars) and can thus safely execute maneuvers that motorists cannot. Furthermore, splitting lanes and leading through the red reduces the amount of congestion that bicycles cause, basically to nil in most cases.

    I have the pleasure of living in a large American city where police enforcement against bicycles is pretty much nil. You can run lights at full speed, passing a cop stopped on the red, and he'll just drive right by you if he happens to catch up.

    I commute daily by bicycle, so I see a lot of traffic. There are a fair number of other cyclists in this town. Nevertheless, while I have seen countless examples of dangerous situations and outright accidents caused by motorists, I've never seen anything of the sort caused by aggressive cyclists. I've no doubt that it's happened at one time or another, but it'd have to be pretty tiny frequency.

    The only damage I see caused by cyclists is when they take off someone's mirror or dent their hood in "retaliation" for aggressive driving. I'm sort of ambivalent on this sort of behavior; I don't think it's that constructive, and any sort of unchecked rage response strikes me as uncivilized and demeaning to its exhibitor, but on the other hand it seems like it may be the only thing that reminds some drivers that there are consequences to their actions (and these consequences are themselves consequent to the fact that they're piloting thousands, rather than dozens, of pounds of metal).



    [ Parent ]
    insurance and raises... (2.00 / 1) (#380)
    by Kindaian on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 03:47:19 PM EST

    I would contest RAC findings on an correlation of new laws and insurance raising of 10%:

    a) It is a self fullfilling profecy
    b) It is just as market works nowadays (* more below)
    c) Where have they got their numbers?
    d) A good percentage of car/bicycle accidents are the fault of the driver

    With this said, i can only recommend the use of bycycles as a means of transportation...

    Cheers...
    Kindaian

    (* <rant> price nowadays isn't moderated by offer/request but by the higher price the market can stand. So any escuse for a rise, the offer part of the trade jumps and rises the price full spead ahead. Even, before tax rates are rised, the banks already have "regulated" the rates themselfs! </rant>)


    Steal, stole, stolen (3.00 / 1) (#388)
    by User 26962 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:32:01 PM EST

    I work in a bank as a financial analyst, meaning I do the same work as the "American Psycho" except I do not carry a chainsaw in my locker. Each morning I put on a suit, a designer tie and a pair of cufflinks and I head on for work .... on my bike. I did it in London and I am doing it in Paris. I should say I was doing it, because my bike was stolen a few days ago.

    I used to use 2 cables to secure my bike. I did not realise that everybody else used two cables AND a steel bar to secure their bikes, since a steel bar cannot be cut by a pair of VERY large scissors.

    In a previous life I was a computer engineer, and my final year project was a device that took a GPS signal and transmitted it through a mobile phone network thus creating a remote location device. I was wondering if anything like this has been commercially put to market because I AM F***** pissed from the fact that an as**** took my bike by cutting all the useless cables I put around it.

    If this kind of device is not yet available (and I know it is not) I was wondering if any of you can advise me on the most secure way of preventing the theft of your bikes. I know that there is no perfect solution here but I am shooting for the maximum. All comments are welcome

    Kryptonite Locks (3.00 / 1) (#394)
    by La Camiseta on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:27:04 PM EST

    I would reccomend that you use Kryptonite locks They not only offer the traditional cable locks, which seem to be extreamely tough in itself, but the also offer their U-locks which in my experience have been almost impossible to cut through (it seems almost as if you'd need a hacksaw to cut through them). Nathan
    ־‮־

    [ Parent ]
    several things (3.00 / 1) (#395)
    by durkie on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:37:55 PM EST

    the most important would be location. it could be an isolated parking garage where not too many people go, or it could be a pole on a busy street sidewalk such that no one would steal it with so many people. this is a judgment call.

    next, the lock. who knows how well these things actually work, but you probably want something big and heavy like a u-lock. i think what it comes down to is that if someone wants something on your bike, they'll find a way of getting it. so we're just trying to provide sufficient deterrent for the casual thief. in that respect, i think u-locks do better than most.

    next, use your u-lock intelligently, take off your front wheel and place it next to your back one. run the u-lock such that part of the lock passes through the frame (like the rear triangle made up of the seatstays, chainstays and seattube), the top of both wheel rims, and the bottom of both wheel rims. if you don't pass it through the top and bottom of the rims, then someone could unscrew a few spokes and then get your nice wheelset.

    after that, bolt down everything you can, and if you can't bolt it down, or are still in doubt about its security, take it with you. get rid of quickrelease levers for your saddle/seatpost. you might want to do the same for your wheels. you probably don't have to worry about little shit like your handlebar grips being taken, but, if you're in doubt, take it with you.

    that's about all i can think of right now.

    [ Parent ]

    Maximum protection. (3.00 / 1) (#396)
    by gromm on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:59:30 PM EST

    This will resist cutting tools except maybe an oxy-acetelene cutting torch. You can even get theft insurance with it for up to $3600 US.

    But then, the price might be a little steep for you. :) There's other stuff in their catalog that might be more suitable.
    Deus ex frigerifero
    [ Parent ]

    Ride a nail (3.00 / 1) (#413)
    by eyeflare on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:48:46 AM EST

    Get an old, but mechanically perfect, road bike or hybrid and make it look like it's been through hell. Matt spray paint is good for this, esp if you pick two clashing colors and sort of go nuts with it. Then take a decent D-lock such as a Kryptonite Evolution and a Kryptonite 6 ft wire (to go through the wheels) and lock it to a steel post/fence/anything really solid.

    Thieves aren't interested in ugly bikes. You can't fence them for more then a fiver. And a committed thief won't steal an old bike because they're looking for $2000 mountainbikes.
    "There is no way to peace; peace is the way." -A. J. Muste. Go: www.eyeflare.com
    [ Parent ]

    The best security (none / 0) (#438)
    by Curieus on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 05:56:32 AM EST

    Is your neigbours lock. When locking your bike make sure you lock your front wheel to your frame and you lock your bike to an umovable object.
    And make sure that your neighbours bike looks better but less securely attached.

    As for locks. Almost none are safe.
    Several years ago they issued a new rating system for locks: minutes. I.E. the time a professional thief needs to open/break the lock.
    There was *no* lock in the market that reached the 10 minute rating. Most were below 1 minute.
    Things may be better now, but somehow i doubt it...

    [ Parent ]

    Where to park, locking a bike (none / 0) (#458)
    by bouncing on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 05:41:30 PM EST

    I presume you park on the street? I just bring my bike into the office and rest it on my desk when I bike to work. It's the easiest solution.

    As for parking on the sidewalk/street, you have to use a U-lock. I have a very expensive bike, so even the wheels are worth a lot. So, I take off my front wheel, put it near my back wheel, and lock the frame and both wheels with the same U-lock. Some people prefer to simply secure the wheels to the frame using a cable, then securing the frame with a U-lock. I just secure everything with the same U-lock.

    There are other things they'll probably find a way to steal. My seatpost is worth a few hundred dollars, as it is made from titanium. So, I usually just use an oversized padlock to secure it to the frame.

    There are still the issues surrounding simply having an overpriced bike in public without someone guarding it. I've had friends who have simply had their bikes vandalized when they park in bike-unfriendly areas like Nebraska or 90% of the United States. ;-) Then the best solution is really to just keep it with you. I take my bike into restaurants, work, stores.. wherever.

    [ Parent ]

    A better point (3.66 / 3) (#397)
    by psicE on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:59:33 PM EST

    Why are there cars on the road in the first place?

    Back before the invention and mass production of cars, cities were more livable places. People would walk, or bike, to work, at pretty much any speed they wanted; there was negligible fatalities (how many walkers got killed by bikes?) and minimal accidents. People could walk up, down, across streets freely, without needing to look both ways; or they could stop and talk, or they could play cards, or they could sell stuff, or they could do whatever the hell they wanted. Streets belonged to the people.

    Then the car came along. Eventually, it became so ubiquitous that cities had to redesign themselves around them, and due to their nature and speed, they meant that people could no longer freely roam streets. They could walk along the side and on sidewalks, but to do something as simple as cross to the other side, they needed to navigate through cars potentially going in two different directions; to get from one corner to another, they might need to navigate across a total of eight lanes of cars! Meanwhile, traffic is so slow that, in old cities with established subway systems, you could get from point A to point B faster by public transportation then you could by car.

    As far as intra-city/intra-regional travelling is concerned, cars are excellent. Ignoring the pollution problems, which will soon be solved by fuel cell cars like GM's AUTOnomy, the car is good because cities and regions are inherently spread out over a huge, multi-dimensional area; one person might want to go from Burlington VT to Philadelphia, another person might want to go from Greensboro NC to San Antonio; another person might want to go from San Francisco to Palo Alto. There's no more practical way to do short/mid-distance intra-regional travel, simply because everyone wants to go somewhere different.

    But why in the city? Cities generally cover so small a physical area that it's practical to have light rail going to different major centres in the city, but spaced so close together that pretty much any location in the city is accessible from anywhere else with no more than a 20-minute metro ride and a half-hour walk. Therefore, it would similarly be easy for cities to, instead of spending mass amounts of money making it easier to have a car in the city, build massive car garages outside the city where city residents can park any cars they might own, and extend mass transportation to those garages. And then, people, both bikers and more importantly pedestrians, can reclaim the streets, and no longer suffer the insane fatalities they do now.

    Carriages (none / 0) (#427)
    by bouncing on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:43:30 PM EST

    In all fairness, the big cities like New York had carriages and streetcars. London had carriage congestion similar to its current car crises. Transportation and livability are always at odds. You did have to look both ways when there were street cars.

    Obviously now the problem is much worse. You might take a look at CarFree.com for ideas on how to eliminate cars from the world.

    [ Parent ]

    I love my bike (4.00 / 1) (#416)
    by werner on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 09:23:49 AM EST

    I recently got my old bike posted out to me and I love it. I ride to work every day - although it's only 5 minutes. I ride everywhere. Cos I live in the city, it's simply the quickest way to travel. I can beat any car across the town, if there's any traffic. I can beat the tram or underground into the next town. And it's free.

    It's dead flat where I live and there are loads of cycle paths, but I'm a road racer at heart, and I prefer whizzing along on the road with the cars to pootling along the cycle path, trying to avoid pedestrians and their pets / offspring.

    I think there really should be cycle paths, but they should be both seperate from the road and the pavement, so people don't park their cars in them or wander across them without noticing. If you ride on the road, you have to ride aggressively - assert your rights as a road user. And obey the bloody rules. Signal, stop at red lights, use lights at night. If you ride on the pavement / cycle path, you have to ride slowly and carefully with your hands on the brakes.

    The most important thing is to regard every other person on the road or pavement as a complete moron, half-blind and stone deaf. Only with this attitude do you have any chance of avoiding accidents. You must suspect that every car will pull in / out in front of you, every door on parked cars will open, and that every child will fling himself into your wheels when you get close enough, because sooner or later it will happen. Touch wood, I've only been run over once, and though it wasn't my fault, I could have avoided it if I had had my hands on the brakes. I was unhurt ( I crushed my ciggies, though ) but there was a sodding big dent in the motor.

    Finally, I have both 3rd party and theft insurance for the bike.

    Cycle Paths in the UK (4.00 / 1) (#418)
    by rdskutter on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:31:24 AM EST

    Cycle paths are simply not appropriate for cycling in the UK. They are poorly maintained, littered with broken glass and rarely go in the same direction that you want to go in.

    Cycle paths often have blind corners on them forcing the cyclist to slow down in order to anticipate what is around the corner. They do not have the same right of way as roads at junctions and often cyclist will have to give way to motorists on a side road because the cycle path breaks to cross the road.

    Motorists do not watch cyclists on cycle paths so they cannot be expected to anticipate you when you merge back onto the road. You also have a lot more things to avoid - parked cars, abandoned shopping trolleys - pedestrians who do not hear you approach from behind despite much shouting and ringing of bells. Obnoxious teenage pedestrians who decide that it would be fun to stand across the path when they've seen you, children who are too young to be predictable.

    On a road it is easy to maintain a constant speed of about 18 MPH on the the flat. The major limiting factor is your own fitness and the drag of the wind combined with your weight. On a cycle path the main limiting factor for speed is the constant avoidance of obstacles.

    You will see many cycling paths along the sides of the road in the UK, usually on the pavement so that the path is separated from the road by the kerb. When the cycle path comes to and end there is a blue sign that says "Cyclists dismount". There is no facility to merge back on to the road and no prior warning to motorists to warn them of merging cyclists. In short the cyclist is better off ignoring the cycle path altogether and doing the whole journey on the road.

    Cycle paths are useful:

    • When they go where roads do not.
    • When they are implemented as a contraflow on an otherwise one-way road. To be fair this is more of a cycle lane than a cycle path.
    In conclusion cycle paths are adequate for amateur and young cyclists who do not have the maturity or the experience to be trusted with a bike on the road. Experienced cyclists, especially commuters will find cycle paths less efficient and more hazardous than riding on the roads.


    If you're a jock, inflict some pain / If you're a nerd then use your brain - DAPHNE AND CELESTE

    City design. (4.50 / 2) (#426)
    by mindstrm on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:53:17 PM EST

    Let's face it. Our cities in North America ARE designed for automobiles. Period.

    I was in Amsterdam last year. Everyone cycles, everywhere. There are  bike paths everywehre. It's convenient, and easy, to ride a bike around the old city.

    It's even preferred.

    The problem is the way we live and work.. we live and work far away from each other, we have to travel great distances.. our cities are built for cars.
    Until that changes, no great change will happen.


    That's an interesting assertion (none / 0) (#440)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 10:27:53 AM EST

    Since most of our cities are older than the automobile.


    --
    Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


    [ Parent ]

    Really? (none / 0) (#442)
    by MKalus on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 11:28:16 AM EST

    I don't know, but looking at the US cities most of them have been "converted" for the automobile.

    How many old city cores still do exist that are not being changed towards cars?

    If you compare that to European cities there is a huge difference. In Europe mass transit is the way to go, they limit parking and make streets smaller in order to slow cars down. In North America they widen the turn circle on intersections so that cars can get around it faster.

    I would say he's right. Cities in North America are made for cars, pedestrians and other people are just an annoyance.
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]

    Not converted - (none / 0) (#450)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 03:00:29 PM EST

    At least not the eastern cities. It's tough to dig up centuries worth of buildings just to widen a street.

    It has been said that American streets are generally wider than European streets - because even in the 18th and 19th centuries traffic was a huge problem.

    One of the weirdest examples is a little and little known city just west of Philadelphia called "Pottstown". Mr. Potts looked at Phillie's traffic problems and designed his city with *huge* streets - and people mocked him. Reports at that time referred to his streets as rivers of mud. Of course, now Pottstown has 4 lane streets up and down the downtown district and no traffic problems to speak of.


    --
    Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


    [ Parent ]

    If I remember correctly (none / 0) (#457)
    by MKalus on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 09:25:45 AM EST

    There have been studies done, and one of the conclusion was that widening streets doesn't really help traffic flow, there seems to be a certain formular....

    Damn, too early on the morning.

    Anyways: IMO: Build public transit and alternate forms of transport would go a long way to limit traffic jam's but then I am an idealist and don't really need a car as a status symbol.

    M.
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]

    Depends on the traffic pattern. (none / 0) (#459)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 10:24:38 AM EST

    It is quite possible for the amount of "suppressed demand" to exceed any feasible amount of road building - if you widen the road, traffic increases till the new road is just as jammed.

    As for public transit - as always, it works a lot better in high density areas like the city but much less so in the 'burbs.


    --
    Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.


    [ Parent ]

    Then maybe... (4.00 / 1) (#464)
    by MKalus on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 11:13:40 AM EST

    >>As for public transit - as always, it works a lot better in high density areas like the city but much less so in the 'burbs.<<

    It is time to stop the waste of land?

    Yeah yeah, Idealistic again, so shoot me.

    M.
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]

    Back streets (4.00 / 1) (#428)
    by Paul Johnson on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:49:00 PM EST

    When I cycled to work I found routes through back streets and residential areas. There are few cycle paths per se, but the speed limits (30 mph) and low traffic density are friendly for vehicular cycling.

    Over here many housing estates built during the 70s to 90s have lots of dead ends, but with pedestrian paths joining them together. So what looks on a road map to be a roughly tree-like structure turns out to be something you can walk or cycle through in a fairly straight line.

    Paul.
    You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

    Biking as a College Student (none / 0) (#431)
    by cymrudragu on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:18:31 PM EST

    I spent this summer biking to and from my job (3 miles), and am now living off campus about a mile away from the campus/downtown arean (the university i go to is in a rather small town), and I've become, well, addicted to biking. The day just doesn't feel complete if I haven't spent at least 5-10 minutes on my bike, running errends, etc. I have to say that in my situation, the bike is much more practical for me; there's horrible parking on campus, and a grocery store is about 300yds away, so that isn't a problem.

    Anyways, the real reason I'm posting this is to ask a question of more experienced bikers out there. I recently got a Trek rear rack, and can't figure out how to put the bugger on. I could take in to a local bike shop, but I don't want to give my bike up for the better part of a week it would take for them to get to it (see above). Any help? Thanks!

    Rear Rack (none / 0) (#447)
    by yonderboy on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:31:44 PM EST

    Usually your frame will have mounts brazed onto the rear triangle of the bike. There should be a pair of mounts on the seatstays near the joint with the top tube. There should also be a pair of mounts on the top of the dropouts, or possibly on the bottom of the seatstays as well.

    These mounts are threaded and you may need to buy mounting hardware to attach the rack. You should be able to buy that at your local bike shop. They'll know what to sell you.

    The other thing about bike shops is that you can ask them how to do it yourself. Most mechanics are more than willing to tell you how they do things. Of course, there's always a few who are unwilling to help. In that case, just find a fellow biker. Chances are, they'll know what to do.

    [ Parent ]

    if you don't have the braze-ons... (none / 0) (#453)
    by werner on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 10:19:06 AM EST

    Some mountain bikes don't have the brazes at the top of the seat-stays ( the bars from the seat to the back wheel ). In this case, you need the metal loops ( or strips to be made into loops ) to wrap around the seat-stays. There will be another 2 strips, probably with one end twisted through 90 degrees. These are to attach the rack to the seat-stays via braze-ons or the loops. there will be one or two plates with a couple of holes to screw the other end of these strips to - make sure the plate is facing the front of the bike.

    If you don't have the braze-ons on the dropouts ( where the wheel axle attaches to the frame ) - the same ones you would use for mudguards - you'll have to go to a bikeshop and get a couple more loops for the bottom of the seat-stays. If you use and loops around the frame, make sure they have tape or rubber around them, or you'll scratch the paint. The screws will almost certainly be the same as the ones for the bottle cages.

    I just stuck a new rack on this afternoon and it only took 20 mins or so, and that was on the pavement in front of the bike shop. If you really can't face it, take it to the bike shop - it should only take a couple of hours at most if he isn't incredibly busy.

    One last tip, if there's a funny old bike shop near you, where they only sell bikes for mums and dads, always go there. You'll usually get a better price - especially on maintenance - than at Big Flashy Bikes Heaven Ltd, and the advice is always better.

    [ Parent ]

    Blockers (5.00 / 1) (#434)
    by Dichari on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:15:47 AM EST

    Excellent Article! One tip I'd like to add though: When crossing dangerous intersections, try to use blockers, try to move at the same speed alongside a car as you cross the intersection. Oh, and if you're in Toronto: (learn to handle streetcar tracks, those things can be deadly!)

    Many thanks... (none / 0) (#435)
    by mdabaningay on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:27:17 AM EST

    for the compliments, I'm not sure I'd agree about using blockers. I say this because you have to be absolutely sure that the vehicle is not going to turn across (or over) you and has seen you.

    [ Parent ]
    Is cycling dangerous? (3.00 / 2) (#454)
    by jdv on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 12:09:56 PM EST

    I think calling cycling dangerous is a grief misunderstanding. Cycling is not dangerous. Almost all accidents with cycles that have serious consequetes are a result of other people driving cars.

    People who drive cars have to realise that they are using a machine that is violent, and can cause deaths. People using bikes die because they come into contact with cars, not because a bycicle is in any way a dangerous thing to use.

    It is really impossibly stupid that people who want to use a cheap, environment friendly thing such as a bike, to get to work, are forced to mix with large violent things such as cars to do so. That is the real problem, and has to be fixed.

    jdv

    Bullshit. (4.00 / 2) (#460)
    by kitten on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 12:36:47 PM EST

    People who drive cars have to realise that they are using a machine that is violent, and can cause deaths. People using bikes die because they come into contact with cars, not because a bycicle is in any way a dangerous thing to use.

    People who ride bikes have to realize that they are not in a damn car. If you're riding your bike at 35mph on a 50mph road because you can't peddle any faster, you are obstructing traffic and causing a road hazard. You've now got fifteen people behind you crawling along, while the annoyed drivers, irate at being held up by your arrogance in thinking you have a right to be in the road which was clearly designed for cars, are now frantically trying to shift lanes, cut each other off, and jockey for position away the hell from your bike. This of course causes all kinds of headaches, is dangerous for both cyclist and driver alike, and then the biker complains that nobody is nice to him when he's out riding.

    If you can't keep up with the flow of normal vehicular traffic then you have no business on the road. Get on the sidewalk and get out of my way.
    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    More bullshit? (4.00 / 1) (#463)
    by jdv on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 12:54:12 PM EST

    If you can't keep up with the flow of normal vehicular traffic then you have no business on the road. Get on the sidewalk and get out of my way.

    Sure. All bikes on the sidewalk, that would be a great idea, especially for the pedestrians.

    But you are right, the problems arise from the fact that bikes are on a road that is designed for cars. So that is the problem that has to be solved. Your solution is to force bikes onto sidewalks, which would introduce the same problems (well, not quite so dangerous, but still) there, mine would be to create a good infrastructure for bikes. They have done just that here in Amsterdam, and it works! More people ride bikes, and there a a lot less casualties per thousand cyclists than in other countries.

    -- jdv

    [ Parent ]

    Better solution. (3.00 / 1) (#465)
    by kitten on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:42:58 PM EST

    Your solution is to force bikes onto sidewalks, which would introduce the same problems (well, not quite so dangerous, but still) there, mine would be to create a good infrastructure for bikes.

    I'm really not willing to have my tax dollars spent on upgrading the infrastructure of the entire city for the convenience of a few cyclists, when the overwhelmingly vast majority of people drive cars and the infrastructure for cars is in such pathetically shoddy shape. Address that issue first, and then we can talk about appeasing the crybaby cyclists who whinge and bitch about how mean everyone is to them when they hold traffic up for miles at 20mph.

    (For maximum efficiency the cyclist should stick close to the curb in the right lane, so that it looks like you can pass them, but you really can't, not without clipping them and sending them sprawling into the gutter where they can find out how their stupid helmet protected their skull but also transfered the impact to their neck, paralyzing or killing them.)

    If there's no bike lane, then plan an alternate route or get on the sidewalk. There aren't so many cyclists that having them on the sidewalk is going to present a major difficulty. If a cyclist insists on hogging the entire road, turning up his nose at us drivers for being so unfriendly to the environment, he can eat my Volvo.
    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    [ Parent ]
    Except (none / 0) (#470)
    by epepke on Sun Sep 01, 2002 at 01:40:34 AM EST

    I think a lot more people would ride bicycles if the infrastructure exited. The previous time I lived in Tallahasse, a town with a decent but not spectacular bike infrastructure (bike paths on new roads), I went without having a car for eight years. With a bike and a Boy Scout haversack, I could do all my shopping and everything.

    When I moved to Atlanta, though, where it's absolute suicide to try to ride a bike, I didn't ride one. I would have liked to. The average speed of traffic in Atlanta seems to be something like 2 mph anyway. If there had been enough bike roads, and there had been a place to take a shower at work, I would gladly have ridden a bike and left the car at home.

    Now I'm back in Tallahassee, and I think I should get my bike out of storage. Infrastructure and bicycles are a chicken-and-egg problem.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Bicycle Heaven (5.00 / 1) (#467)
    by Taowonyu on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 05:40:57 AM EST

    I live on a 2 x 1/2 mile island in the Pacific, Kwajalein.  You can't own a car here, so everyone rides bikes.  After slogging it out in the states with motorists, I've come to two conclusions: 1) safe riding comes only when the bikes outnumber the cars; 2) I very much prefer to live in a place like this where bicycling is the primary transportation.

    Bicycle culture is a little different here.  First, the island is flat, so riding is fairly easy.  The wind can prove daunting; that's when you stick to the lagoon-side roads.  There are motor vehicles about, but they stay clear of the bikes.  You can let your small kids ride on the roads and the few folks in trucks and such will stay clear.  The preferred machine is the standard Huffy; bad rust is inevitable, so most just buy the cheap bike and let it go.  "Kwaj condition" is used in the newspaper classified ads to refer to bikes with more than a bit of rust.  They've recently started selling aluminum-frame bikes with stainless steel hardware which are lasting a bit longer, but at 2 1/2 times the price.  I left my mountain bike in Colorado and bought an aluminum one just for here.  A lot of folks do a customization that I think is unique to Kwaj: they extend the handlebar post sometimes as much as 2 /12 feet, then mount the handlebars upside down.  That way, you can lean on the handlebars without bending over.  We're not talking about racing machines here, although some ride Kwaj bikes in the annual triathalon.

    Grocery shopping and the post office can prove challenging; most buy or make bike trailers for those tasks, and the grocery store will deliver for free.  Some have built rather substantial trailers for hauling their scuba gear.  If you do need a vehicle to haul stuff, you can rent them from the range contractor for fairly cheap.  There are also lots of golf carts running around, everywhere but on the golf course :-)

    "Bicycle Heaven" actually refers to the area of the dump on the other end of the island where the old bikes end up.  We have a few custom builders who pick parts out of "Heaven" and build some rather unique-looking machines.

    All said, this place has shown me that we've blown it in many places back in the states with respect to facilitating alternative transportation.  We've arranged our living areas and work areas where they're practically reachable only by car.  And to do that, we need to navigate "chokepoint" arteries at the same time as what seems to be every one else in town.  It's going to be tough in environments like that to retrofit to support bicycling where most folks can participate.  So, if I can talk my wife into giving up shopping (fat chance...), I looking at small-town living as the best prospect to recreating the "Kwaj situation" back home in the USA.

    Commuting by Bicycle: Good or Bad? | 470 comments (448 topical, 22 editorial, 2 hidden)
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