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[P]
Mopeds: the practical alternative?

By goonie in Op-Ed
Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:11:50 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

With the cost of fuel, parking, and vehicle upkeep, an alternative to the private car makes financial and environmental sense.For many people, however, the usual alternative of public transport is either unavailable or the routes and schedules don't match with their needs. Unglamorous it may be, but the moped can be a viable alternative.


I'm an out-and-out petrolhead. My regular mode of transport is a Subaru Impreza WRX. Fun as it is, it's not all that sensible a vehicle for the daily commute. It's relatively thirsty for a small vehicle, requires the more-expensive premium fuel, and the expensive tyres don't last particularly long. Add to this an extra AUD3.30 (about 2 USD) in parking fees, and you're starting to chew up serious cash. It gets me to work in about 25-30 minutes if I avoid traffic -- more like 45 minutes at peak hour, though.

So to public transport. I live in the inner suburbs, not more than 4 kilometres from the centre of the city. I have two tram (light rail) lines approximately five minutes walk from my house, and a heavy rail line perhaps another minute away. There is a train station at my destination, which is about six or so kilometres from the city. Should be perfect, right?

Unfortunately, things don't work out so well in practice. The train only runs every twenty minutes or so, so you have to be very disciplined to leave home at exactly the right time or you'll be facing a twenty minute wait for a train. Worse, I have to change trains in the city.Whichever train I take, there is at least a fifteen minute wait on the changeover. Therefore, my short train journey usually takes over an hour! The light rail runs slightly more often, but the slowness of its journey into the city (and the same wait for a train) makes it even slower.

So public transport was out. What about a motorcycle? They're still a bit expensive to keep running. Bicycle? Within feasible range, probably, but with a substantial hill on every conceivable route to work I'm not sure I'd want to do it every day.

In the end I bought myself a second-hand moped for 1500AUD (about 900 USD). It's made by a Taiwanese company with a charmingly homespun website, Rotary Bicycle. They sell complete machines, and also conversion kits for existing bicycles.

Essentially, the machine is a contemporary mountain bike, with front suspension, the usual derailleur gears (though only three cogs on the back) except for the rear wheel assembly. The usual wire-spoked wheel has been replaced by a thickly-spoked steel wheel with a 30cc two-stroke engine in the middle. The only extra controls are a combination on-off switch and choke on the left, and a twist-grip throttle on the right, just like a motorcycle. It's a pull-start, but your grandmother wouldn't have any trouble with it, and it starts first or second pull on most occasions.

Under Australian regulations, mopeds are restricted to 200 watts maximum engine power, and 25km/h maximum speeds. Yes, it's not hard to ride a bicycle faster than that, and indeed you can pedal it over the 25 km/h mark for a short time. It's not a great bicycle, though. It's heavy and the wide, treaded tyres sap energy when you rely exclusively on pedal power. You're allowed to ride them anywhere you can ride a bicycle, and you don't need to register them or to get a motorcycle license.

Riding the machine is quite straightforward -- if you can ride a bicycle, this won't be much of a problem. You pedal it just like you would a normal bike, and when you want assistance from the motor you just twist the throttle. You need to pedal a couple of times to move off from rest, but once that's done it'll go at the maximum legislated speed on flat ground without any assistance. It'll climb slight grades without having to pedal. If things get a little steeper, you'll have to do some work. However, the effort required is very much reduced from what you'd have to do on a normal bicycle. Without getting out of my seat or working up a sweat I can continue up a hill at nearly full speed. The regular cyclists, meanwhile, are puffing their way up in granny gear (barely above walking pace).

Traffic safety was a major concern when I bought the bike. In practice there are bike lanes along most of the route, which drivers usually respect. The biggest issue is probably drivers opening their doors straight into the bike lane. I keep a very watchful eye open for that. In any case, the lower speeds should reduce the risk of injury when compared with a motorcycle.

In the end, the journey on the moped takes approximately 35 minutes - 10 minutes longer than by car, but much, much faster than public transport. At peak hour I can generally zip up the bike lanes unimpeded. If I'm not in a hurry, I can take the scenic route on the recreational bike trails through the parks and wildlife reserves of the Yarra River. And, best of all, I can ride it to a bike parking spot right next to the door of my workplace, and park it there for free. It has a 2 litre (less than 1/2 gallon) fuel tank, and that lasts for more than 100 kilometres. You need to mix in a little 2-stroke oil. I filled a 10 litre (2 and a bit gallon) jerry can with fuel mix three weeks ago, and there's still plenty left in it.

I have no intention of riding it on rainy days - I'll either take the car or public transport, and I'm not sure how I'll go on cold (by Australian standards - still well above freezing) winter mornings. But even if I ride it to work two days a week, that's going to cut my overall fuel bill by more than a third.

Now, obviously a moped isn't going to be the solution for everybody. If the commute was a little flatter, a stock-standard bicycle would probably be the solution. A little further and a fully-fledged motor scooter or commuter motorcycle would probably be necessary. The point is that there are alternatives out there to driving to work every day. They can save you serious money and, as a bonus, help the environment.

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Mopeds: the practical alternative? | 144 comments (133 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
Same deal with (3.66 / 3) (#4)
by coillte on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:37:15 AM EST

car drivers opening doors on my daily motorcycle commute.

The advantage is, that on a large motorbike, you'll probably take their door with you. And them, if they're still attatched to it.

Have you considered something like an older dirt bike@ Going from the older Kawasaki KMX 125 up to the Yamaha DR/DLR range (250, 350 and 650cc).

A secondhand one shouldn't cost much, most of them are bulletproof in terms of engine reliability, and are generally quiite cheap to insure. The high seat position is great in town traffic, putting you up above all cars, and on a level with suv rooves.

The wide handlebars give great maneuvreability in town, and the engines are tuned for low end stonk. Great for getting out of trouble. Exhausts tend to be fairly loud on theb older ones, so car doors become less of a hassle. And they'll all cope with off road - which gives plenty of fun in Australia.
____________
"XVI The Blasted Tower. Here is purification through fire,lightning, flames, war...the eye is the eye of Shiva... the serpent on the right is the symbol of the active will to live,the dove on the left is passive resignation to death"

Mopeds are fine (3.00 / 6) (#5)
by hex11a on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 12:45:02 PM EST

until some gas guzzling SUV comes and runs you over. If everyone rode mopeds it would be safe, but just one SUV makes the whole system dangerous - they're not going to get harmed in a crash, so why should they care? Until I came to a city I'd never seen a clean SUV...

Hex

You've seen a dirty SUV? Oxymoron there NT (none / 0) (#19)
by Shovas on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 09:50:38 PM EST


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Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
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[ Parent ]
Yes, believe it or not... (none / 0) (#22)
by Armaphine on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:05:54 PM EST

There are those that use sports utility vehicles for the manner which they were designed. Some people actually live far enough out in the sticks that four wheel drive isn't a luxury, it's a necessity.

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.
[ Parent ]

And they drive... (none / 0) (#75)
by joev on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:44:14 AM EST

Some people actually live far enough out in the sticks that four wheel drive isn't a luxury, it's a necessity.

And those people drive Volvos, Audis, or Subarus... Go to Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont; you see tons of 5-15 year old Volvos Audis and Subarus on the road no matter how much snow and ice is on the ground.

[ Parent ]

reality dictates (none / 0) (#79)
by ckaminski on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:05:45 AM EST

that if you have a vehicle and an unknown distance to your next gas station, it is best to take a car designed for good mileage. Plus a LOT of those Maine/Vermont/New Hampshire people have pickup or other light trucks for when they need them. Our roads were ruined the day some fool decided that the Jeep, the Blazer and the Suburban weren't light trucks anymore, but a whole new class of vehicle.

[ Parent ]
I used to have something like this (3.00 / 2) (#9)
by tftp on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 08:08:15 PM EST

Elite 250 motorscooter. Not a moped, though. Mopeds are too slow to be safe. This one is classified (rightfully) as a motorcycle, and allows you to be anywhere on the road you need to be. This is important, because crossing a wide street from right lane to the left one for a turn may be suicidal if you ride 25 km/h moped. Elite 250 that I had provided top speed of 117 km/h, and accelerated faster than 95% of the cars (often giving me the whole road 10 seconds after the green light.)

Downside includes weather and cargo. Not much of either can be tolerated. Now I replaced the scooter with this arrangement; it still works, despite of being made in 1985 :-) Presence of a powerful heater is highly appreciated.

My suggestion (4.20 / 5) (#10)
by strlen on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 08:45:46 PM EST

I'm with others suggesting something bigger, perhaps a second hand motorcycle. Up untill few weeks ago, I had a Suzuki GS500E, which I picked up second hand for $1400, with only 15,000 miles on the clock. It got 60 miles per gallon, and had about (theoretically) equal acceleration as a Corvette.

Now, the only other requirements are a riding course ($75 for me, a little bit more expensive if you're over 21; call 1-800-cc-rider to sign up), a decent NEW helmet ($160 for a HJC Snell and DOT approved helmet), a one-piece riding suit ($700 for aerostich leathers on sale), ankle-length boots (there's special motorcycle boots available, but I just used an older pair of normal boots) and $50 on a pair of gloves.

Now this motorcycle is perfect fine of a long freeway trip (can easily sustain 200 km/h or so). The riding position was still comfortable, despite the previous owner installing more aggressive clip-on handlebars. What is lacking is wind protection (can be fixed by adding a partial fairing), and ability to ride in ice/rain (that's what a car is for) and colder weather.

Now, of course there's soccer moms with cell phones in SUVs, who won't see you.. but with a motorcycle you've got enough acceleration to easily get past them, and in addition to excellent braking and handling, you can use the power to evade a dangerous situation.

In addition, being 500cc's this specific motorcycle is ideal for a begginer. Other good bikes to start on and which are also useable for commuting are Suzuki SV650, Ducati Monster 600, Kawasaki Ninja 500 and if you're small in size, Kawasaki Ninja 250. The first is also a capable sport bike, and is ideal for those who rode mopeds and/or dirtbikes before. The last three, are, like the GS500E begginer geared, but larger CC sport/race versions are available in the same lineup. The SV650 can be picked up for $3500 or so used, while the other can all be picked up for under $2000, in a great condition.

In addition, motorcycles give the added benefit of not dealing with a smog check, which given California new bunch of fascist legislation which will basically make passing emissions on a 1994 or older car impossible, is good news to those looking for cheap commuter vehicle.

If you don't have enough testicular fortitude, to put it [and probably rightly so.. there is more risk when riding a motorcycle, and not every single person is capable of handling that risk], there's turbo diesel cars available from VW, Mercedes, Peaugot (sp?) and possibly from a few other manufacturers, all of them fairly easy to find on a second hand market. A VW with a TDI engine still regains some practicality (despite the 90 horsepower, 150 lb/ft of torque which the engine provide makes freeway driving somewhat beareable), yet gets you 49 miles per gallon, all while using cheap (and if you're an enviromentalist freak) and reneweable (diesel can be made from biomass, and in fact that's how diesel engines were originally designed) fuel.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

Riding suit. (3.00 / 1) (#18)
by valeko on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 09:41:30 PM EST

Why do you need a riding suit, special boots, and gloves? Isn't a helmet and some regular clothing (perhaps some hardened outerwear) enough?

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Why clothing may be important (none / 0) (#21)
by tftp on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:03:54 PM EST

A regular clothing flaps in the air flow, fills up with air, and generally becomes uncomfortable at a certain speed.

Another reason is safety. People fall from/with their motorcycles. Ideally, you don't want to have an exposed skin, and a thick leather jacket is a good protection against the pavement. Gloves help to hold the handlebars and reduce vibration (even aside from keeping your hands clean). Sturdy boots help you to hold a fairly heavy bike when you are stopped (you may need to apply a lot of force to handle the bike, and flimsier shoes may just fall apart.)

Yet another reason is weather. If it is sunny, beware of sunburns; air flow cools the skin down, and you can get a nasty burn in half an hour. If it is chilly, you'll freeze to death. So the clothing is not just fashionable, it is practical too.

The only thing I am unsure about is the helmet. I always used a standard, cheaper one. As long as it is DOT certified, it should be OK. Don't know if expensive models save your head better - fortunately I never had a chance to find that out.

[ Parent ]

Hmm. (none / 0) (#24)
by valeko on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:12:19 PM EST

A regular clothing flaps in the air flow, fills up with air, and generally becomes uncomfortable at a certain speed.

True, but you can minimise it by tucking things in and buttoning them up.

I guess I'm just transplanting a lot of my bicycle sensibilities. I ride my bike a lot, and don't ever wear anything special -- just ordinary clothes. Sure, I'm not going 60 MPH on my bike, but it seems like it's not that different, except much more wind. Either way, a lot of that seems too fancy and upscale; you can hold handlebars with your hands, unless you're some kind of aristocrat. And if you wear sturdy tennis shoes it should be fine.

Also, given the more interesting fall possibilities, I don't think any special suit will save you from skin exposure. I guess the only setting in which it might be useful is a combustion situation, if it's fire-proof, but that seems like something more important to racecar drivers than motorcycle commuters.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Not quite hmm. (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by tftp on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:36:25 PM EST

you can minimise it by tucking things in and buttoning them up.

Most regular clothing can not be buttoned up. I didn't have a special suit, but I selected and bought a very specific set of clothing - being wind-proof was the #1 requirement; water-proof was #2. You don't have to buy all-leather suit, there are other options. But for riding at any reasonable speed (50-60 mph and faster) you should treat yourself as part of the system. Because you are.

I'm not going 60 MPH on my bike, but it seems like it's not that different, except much more wind.

You are right about that. Wind is like a solid wall, and if any part of your gear is loose it will flap madly or will be just torn away. To check, open sunroof of a car (or a window) at 50 mph and stick your hand out.

given the more interesting fall possibilities, I don't think any special suit will save you from skin exposure.

But it does, as a matter of fact. If you fall, two things happen:

  1. you fall from 1m high seat vertically onto the ground.
  2. you fly horizontally at 50 mph until you stop.

These are two vectors of your movement, taken separately. Now, you see that the vertical component of the fall is minor. But your horizontal speed is great, and you have plenty of mv to dissipate. One way to do it is by sliding horizontally on the pavement. Since the pavement is rough (asphalt or concrete), you risk severe burns *and* loss of skin due to friction. Leather suit takes the hit instead of your skin. Notice how race bike riders slide down the road for tens of meters! But their suit isolates them from the road, and they get injured mostly if they hit something before they stop, or if another rider hits them.

The suit does not help against fire, however. And I am not aware of any such need. In case of a fall you'll end up far from your bike anyway.

[ Parent ]

Its worse than that (none / 0) (#83)
by wumpus on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 12:08:29 PM EST

But Your horizontal speed is great, and you have plenty of mv to dissipate
Actually the wear and tear (literally) on your body and/or gear will be proportionate to mv2.

I also expect that during close encouters with cars that a full face helmet and any leathers, boots, and gloves will help a lot. Most of this gear would be impossible for a bicyclist due to instant heat exhaustion (although a DOT approved faceless helmet might work).

Wumpus

[ Parent ]

i would say they do... (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by durkie on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:58:54 PM EST

...because the more expensive helmets probably have received Snell Certification. The Snell Memorial Foundation tests helmets, and their standards far exceed those set by the DOT, ANSI, and other organizations. Additionally, their standards are updated every couple of years to account for better technology. Of course, higher standards don't automatically protect you, because there are a lot of other factors to consider in crashes, but the helmet doesn't seem like the sort of thing you would try to save money on.

[ Parent ]
No (4.50 / 2) (#32)
by strlen on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:40:45 PM EST

Unlike a bicycle, there's such a thing as "hitting the pavement at 80 mph". Given a proper suit, with a good amount of Kevlar reduces this to perhaps a few scratches and perhaps a broken bone (depends on a pavement, and/or presence of guard rails), anything else makes you a prime candidate for rotten.com.

Majority of motorcycle accidents, are still, one man accidents(*): not enough throttle + high entry speed in a turn for instance, and you end up scraping the ground because the lean angle is more than you could sustain. Too much throttle + slam the rear brake == locked up rear brake, and ejected over the handlebars (unless you've got a BMW motorcycle, with ABS)[very bad!].

I'd honestly prefer to get a jacket, and perhaps a set of leather pants (S&M fantasies aside, please) and have a two-piece suite that is somewhat modular: just the jacket for a commute, both for hard riding, but the $700 suit was too much of a bargain to pass up.

"Hardened outerwear" is pretty much what a suit is, actually. Special boots aren't needed for the street, though you want something that goes over the ankle, so that part doesn't get broken. You, would, however, want special boots for the tracks or intensive mountain riding.

And the gloves are mainly to be able to comfortably access throttle, clutch and front brake lever, even if gets cold (as usually happens even on a somewhat warm day, when you're riding at a high speed, especially given wind). In addition, a broken wrist makes two of K5 reader's favorite activites rather hard.

* - Also 90% of those involved in a motorcycle accident are self trained. So soccer moms in SUVS on cell phones (TM), while definately, a factor, aren't in no way the only factor out there, or an excuse for crashing.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

statistics (1.00 / 1) (#39)
by durkie on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 11:13:29 PM EST

I've heard that 90% statistic before, but I need more information about it. I was prepared to take some classes myself, and I pointed that quote out to a friend of mine. He responded by saying that it could be that only 10% of riders actually take a class, which then draws the effectiveness of riding classes in to question, both from a statistical standpoint and a cultural one.

[ Parent ]
About classes (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by tftp on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 11:40:22 PM EST

I never took a motorcycle class; but I read a book - a training manual - for class instructors. The book says that they are supposed to teach, what exercises they are supposed to give, etc.

Basically, the class is great if you see a bike first time in your life. There are many funny levers, knobs and controls, wires, lamps... if you are about to faint here and now, take a class. The instructor will tell you everything - how to start the bike, how to switch gears, how to use the clutch.

Another part of the training is riding basics. They will teach you how to balance the thing, and how to ride in a straight line at a low speed. They will tell and show you how to make figure 8. If you couldn't do it before, you will learn it. On the other hand, if you couldn't do it before on your own, probably you were not interested in bikes in first place :-)

There is virtually no substitute for experience. There are some courses that specialize on "polishing" skills of riders who already have their licenses and several years of bike use. These upgrade courses can be helpful. But I think the majority of bike classes are just for beginners - to pass the written and practical tests. But the tests will be at 20 mph, and there will be no icy roads, or wet wooden bridges, or sand. Even rail tracks, a common nuisance for a bike, may be absent.

[ Parent ]

I've actually taken the classes. (none / 0) (#74)
by joev on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:38:17 AM EST

[ For our non-US friends, the classes are the 2 or 3 day basic Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses, which are offered nation-wide, and often lead to lower insurance rates, automatic licensing, etc. ]

I've actually taken the class. I've also been around motorcycles my whole life, but I hadn't done any street riding. They teach a lot more than just "going slow in a straight line and figure 8s." They teach proper countersteering technique, swerving to avoid obsticles, how to control the throttle through a curve, doing really tight slaloms around cones, doing emergency stops, etc. It's not nearly as trivial as you make it sound.

Whlie I agree that there is no substitute for experience, the people who absorb the content from the MSF course wind up as much safer riders.

[ Parent ]

I will be taking one soon (none / 0) (#77)
by georgeha on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:59:30 AM EST

I have only a few hundred yards of riding experience, so I will let you know how it is.

[ Parent ]
re: the pavement. (none / 0) (#44)
by cicero on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 12:58:49 AM EST

Unlike a bicycle, there's such a thing as "hitting the pavement at 80 mph".
I've done that before. thank god I had on a good leather jacket.

came out with scars on my knees (uncovered) and one on my elbow (after sliding on my side). boy, that was fun.


--
I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]

Riding with regular suit (5.00 / 1) (#71)
by C0vardeAn0nim0 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:52:50 AM EST

is possible if you keep the speed down.

80mph ??? this is almost 140 km/h. this kind of speed is dangerous _even_for_a_car_.

I was thrown from my motorcycle at 60 km/h after hiting a stray dog, all I got was a 3 day leave from the office and scratched knees. the only special equipment I was using was helmet and leather gloves (was cold for brasilian standards. 15C give/take a few).

the fact is, a motorcycle is as dangerous as the person riding it.I have a professor in colege who rides a Honda CB-400 everyday and never had an accident since he bought it 20 years ago.

of course, current brasilian law gives us unlimited horn usage so we can alert car drivers of our presence which adds to safety, and "soccer moms in SUVs" are not the such an issue. a big issue for us (and when I say big, I mean it) are underpai, undertrained bus drivers and in some extent young people in 1,000cc hatchbacks they got from their parents. they don't have experience enough to watch for motorcycles and usually cut our way in stupid manouvers.

http://www.comofazer.net
[ Parent ]
Honestly (none / 0) (#95)
by strlen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:43:59 PM EST

140 km/h is not dangerous on a motorcycle, any more than 100 km/h (regular freeway speed here) is. And while its quite deadly in an accident, there's probably less chances of an accident on a motorcycle than in a car, as the motorcycle is equipped with far better braking system, weighs far less, and responds to human input much faster.

I wouldn't say 140 km/h is that dangerous either. That of course depends on pavement, and weather condition. In often cases, even higher speeds are permissible on the autobahn and other well designed roads, and here the police will hardly give you a ticket for 140 km/h in a 110 km/h or so zone.

Soccer mons in SUVs on cell phones, are probably a danger you can't avoid, no matter what you try, though installing a head light modulator (which blinks your head light at fast pace), and a louder exhaust system (2-brothers 4-into-2-into-1 exhaust system on a friend's CBR600 makes it sound quite evil), will make you a lot more visible.

But, here, in the US, the biggest factor still remains, rider error. I guess, it's probably due to the fact that we Americans easily afford, and ride over-powered sport bikes (GSXR1000, Yamaha R1) yet spend no time learning to ride em. But, I personally view those type of riders (who start off on a 750cc or a liter bike without learning to ride), as a great example of natural selection.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

For starters (none / 0) (#97)
by strlen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:55:52 PM EST

Does your car come equipped with two-disk brakes, each operated by twin-piston calipers, on each wheel? With the brakes being manufactured by Brembo, and being larger in size than the wheels on many economy cars.

The braking distances, are simply a lot shorter:

For a sport-bike, like a Honda CBR600 it's 100 ft from 60 mph
With a honda accord it's 137 ft from 60 mph

That's 37 foot difference. Now, with the SUV's that certain people on the road like to drive, the difference is going to be even more dramatic.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

Less difference than you think... (none / 0) (#113)
by Malvoisin on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:21:55 PM EST

While motorcycle brakes are often very capable, not that many riders have the skill (or balls) to use them to the utmost.  Highsiding yourself while braking is no joke.

One of those motorcycle magazines ran a test where a pro roadracer and two normal riders were taken to a racetrack and told to attempt maximum braking on each of three bikes:  one with normal brakes, one with Honda's inexpensive linked brake system, and one with Suzuki's expensive ABS.

Unsurprisingly, the roadracer achieved maximum performance on all three bikes.  The two normal guys took something like 30-40% (maybe 50%) more distance to stop on the normal bike because they lacked the confidence and experience to get the most out of the brakes.  However, the normal guys achieved almost minimum braking distances on the linked-brakes and ABS bikes.  The magazine concluded that linked brakes are the most cost-effective way to improve brake distances for most riders.

While I'm aware that some drivers are too stupid to use their ABS properly, the average car braking performance is likely closer to the minimum distance than that of bikers.

[ Parent ]

These are sport bikes, with no ABS (none / 0) (#115)
by strlen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:46:29 PM EST

There were three tests done, on a webpage I pulled this off, with all values with 1ft of each other. Not all cars, have ABS either, and for safety mind commuters, BMW bikes, even the entry level F650GS do offer ABS, and it's quite possible to get a smaller-size second-hand BMW equipped with ABS.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
I disagree. (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by it certainly is on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:28:24 PM EST

probably less chances of an accident on a motorcycle than in a car

UK road accident statistics, 1992-2001, average number of people killed or seriously injured per billion passenger kilometres:

  • Air: 0.01
  • Rail: (incomplete stats)
  • Water: 0.3
  • Bus or coach: 14
  • Car: 39
  • Van: 16
  • Two wheeled motor vehicle: 1490
  • Pedal cycle: 821
  • Pedestrian: 633
The logistics bear this out. In a plane, train or ship, you're safe from idiot car drivers. Cars, vans, buses and coaches weigh several tons, so if an idiot car driver runs into them, they're relatively safe. Bikes, motorbikes and pedestrians are not encased in multi-ton safety suits, so idiot car drivers mow them down like there's no tomorrow. Cyclists, being on the road all the time are at extreme risk from cars, whereas pedestrians have it easier, only being mown down by idiot car drivers when they're crossing the road. However, pedestrians and cyclists cannot seriously injure or kill themselves unless they try walking/cycling off a cliff or such. Motorcyclists can not only be mown down by idiot car drivers, they are also riding a device that can move them at death-and-serious-injury-causing speeds should they lose control or fall off. Therefore, motorcyclists are officially the most endangered species.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Different condition (none / 0) (#109)
by strlen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 06:56:52 PM EST

I'm saying "all things being equal", with two vehicles moving at 140 km/h, there's a higher chance of a vehicle entering an accident, than a motorcycle. That is a very limitation, on the condition I put. And, this talks about INJURED or KILLED. Sure, there's more chance of being INJURED or KILL when you're on a 350 lb gas powered vibrator than in a LatestSUVTank (TM), but at 140 km/h, on an autobahn-like freeway, there's less chance of GETTING into an accident, if you're on a motorcycle.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Avoiding accidents, speed tickets (none / 0) (#137)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:35:12 PM EST

140 km/h is not dangerous on a motorcycle, any more than 100 km/h (regular freeway speed here) is. And while its quite deadly in an accident, there's probably less chances of an accident on a motorcycle than in a car, as the motorcycle is equipped with far better braking system, weighs far less, and responds to human input much faster.

Your forgetting one major thing. In a car, you can loose total control, and not have anything go wrong (spin around 180 and not hit anything etc). You also have a much better chance at re-gaining control, and if you can't, you can still try and guide yourself into a less server crash.

and here the police will hardly give you a ticket for 140 km/h in a 110 km/h or so zone

Not everyone lives there. Here in NZ, the costs go up dramaticly depending on what the limit was, and how much you went over it. A ticket for 140km/h will be very costly (sorry, not figures), and you can be assured that the police will deffinitly be interested in giving it to you.

[ Parent ]

500c for a beginner... (none / 0) (#70)
by treefrog on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:29:55 AM EST

Sorry, this does nor wash. They'd probably be dead within a week.

Get some lessons, get a small, reasonably powered bike (no, not a 250cc 2-stroke that does nothing until it hits the power-band, then goes insane), and work out what is going on before you move up to something bigger and more powerful.

Modern bikes are so different from cars it is untrue. The acceleration and top speeds are quite awesome. Handle with care :-)

regards, treefrog

PS. I'm the guy who bought a yacht rather than another fast bike. There is a difference. Bikes are generally less frightening, easier to get off when frightened, and easier to park!


Twin fin swallowtail fish. You don't see many of those these days - rare as gold dust Customs officer to Treefrog
[ Parent ]

beginner bikes (none / 0) (#78)
by GTIChick on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 10:55:49 AM EST

There aren't a lot of beginner bikes on the market - the Suzuki GS-500 has been discontinued, leaving the "baby" Ninjas as the smallest sportbikes. Sure, I could have bought a NightHawk, but the cruiser look just didn't do it for me.

My Kawasaki EX-500 has been a good beginner bike. Knowing I might outgrow a smaller bike, and couldn't afford to buy a bigger one anytime soon, I went with the 500cc bike.  Depending on the amount of riding I do this year, I'll probably move up to a ZZR-600. I have the added problem of being short, so I also have to find one that fits me, or can be lowered.

The most important thing is to take a training course (the MSF course, in the US). If possible, find a safe rider to work with you in the parking lot. and on the streets. If you approach it all with common sense, there's no reason why a 500cc bike would be too much.

GTIChick
'99 EX-500

[ Parent ]

Soccer moms (none / 0) (#116)
by awgsilyari on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:24:22 PM EST

Now, of course there's soccer moms with cell phones in SUVs, who won't see you..

I'm wondering if an Australian can even begin to grasp what is meant by "soccer mom" and the entire sickening, Starbucks-drinking image it conveys... :-)

For those outside the US, a "soccer mom" is your stereotypical young white suburban female. Not to be confused with an urban female, who might be pretentious, but in a completely different way. She has a nice, boring office job, where her primary responsibility is kissing ass. This job makes her feel important, and she has no trouble announcing her importance with great volume whenever something doesn't go her way. She drives her vast litter of children to their soccer practice (or gymnastics, or basketball, what have you) in her nice huge SUV or minivan. She normally wears sunglasses. She drinks coffee. She's the kind of person with the whiney voice that makes you wonder if homicide is justifiable in certain cases...

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

An alternative: (4.12 / 8) (#13)
by it certainly is on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 08:59:11 PM EST

ride a bicycle. This has the advantage of being good exercise and part of a healthy lifestyle. It also has the advantage that you're not dependant on oil (other than bike oil :) so you don't have to start wars and killing thousands of innocent people to secure your right to pedal.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

Of course, that ignores... (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by Armaphine on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:08:30 PM EST

...the people that actually need to drive 20+ miles to work every day. Not to mention that riding a bike through a foot of snow, while pumping up your heart, is probably not going to get you anywhere in any sort of reasonable time.

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.
[ Parent ]

Biking is for shorter distances, but snow no prob. (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by arcade on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:04:11 AM EST

I stopped using public transportation here in Oslo/Norway around March 20. 2002. In two weeks I've been biking for one year. Only times I've used other means of transportation has been when dressed up for parties or when ill.

You read that correctly. Norway. We tend to have quite a lot of snow during the winter. This winter beeing no exception. Spiked tires has been the solution.

Of course, I only live about 7-8miles from the university and aproximately the same distance from my workplace. I use 15 minutes to the uni and 20 minutes from (uphill most of the way back :). Those times are when its warm and no snow. When its icy, say 25-30 minutes.

Using public transportation I would use aproximately 30 minutes to my workplace, and 45 minutes to my university. With a car, it would depend on whether I drove in rush-hours or not. With a bike, I save both time and money (no gas-bills, no public-transportation fares, no toll roads).

Oh, and a foot of snow would pose a problem, but most of the time its been plowed away. 5-10cm of snow poses no problem with proper tires.



--
arcade
[ Parent ]
Yup, snow no problem on bicycles. (1.00 / 1) (#103)
by phliar on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:50:31 PM EST

I used to live in Idaho. For non-US people, Idaho is a mountainous state with cold winters; I lived at an elevation of 1400 m [4500'] so we got lots of snow which stayed on the ground pretty much all winter. I put studded tyres on my mountain bike and used to ride it to work every day. Once I helped a motorist push his car out of a snowdrift. When he expressed surprise at my riding a bicycle in the winter, I pointed out that he was the one who got stuck.

Very cold temperatures can be a problem, but anything above 15°F/-10°C was fine.

(My fantasy was to ski to work; alas, the snow was never good enough in town for me to do that.)

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

It doesn't ignore them, (4.00 / 2) (#60)
by it certainly is on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:58:00 AM EST

it just assumes they live in Europe and have public transport that's worth a damn. I used to live about 30 miles from work, but I took the train between towns for about 27 of those miles :)

Seriously, I wouldn't use one of these scooters mentioned in the article to do 40 miles a day either, a bicycle would probably be quicker. I'd assume you chose the job in full knowledge that you'd use your car or public transport to get to it.

Cities come in different shapes and sizes, but here in Aberdeen it's roughly 6-7 miles from the leafy suburbs to the city centre. I can cycle into town in 20 minutes, regardless of the time of day. In a car, it takes about 8 minutes normally or 1 hour at rush-hour due to all the other damned cars. Most of these people are driving no further than 10 miles. Many of them are either directly on, or are a few minutes away from a bus route. They have choices. They don't need to clog the traffic system with their car. But they do. They do nothing and expect everyone but them to do something.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

"Need" to? (4.00 / 2) (#101)
by phliar on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:43:09 PM EST

...the people that actually need to drive 20+ miles to work every day.
We all optimise our lives differently. It's important to me to live my life in a modest manner and reduce my dependence on petroleum. I also want to live in San Francisco, while the jobs are mostly about 20-40 miles away in Silicon Valley; so I live close to public transit at my end, and will only consider jobs close to public transit or within bicycling distance. I don't consider jobs that won't let me telecommute. To you, other considerations are more important; which is fine, after all we do all have free will and freedom. But don't get sanctimonious about how you "need" to drive 20+ miles to work each day.

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

But what happens when... (none / 0) (#128)
by Armaphine on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:52:43 AM EST

...the cost of living closer to where you work is two or three times higher than it is living 20 miles away? Or in the case of more rural areas, where it can be a mile to the next house, let along the nearest business. Also, when you start getting out to the suburban / rural areas, the quality of public transit takes a sharp nosedive, if it exists at all.

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.
[ Parent ]

Still applies (1.00 / 1) (#145)
by phliar on Thu Mar 13, 2003 at 12:08:07 AM EST

more rural areas, where it can be a mile to the next house ... the quality of public transit takes a sharp nosedive
It's the same thing. I could just be flippant and say, well, you don't have a right to a high-cost lifestyle (whatever that means to you; to me, it's living in a city with a wonderfully active art and music scene, and with a long history of tolerance towards all people). If I don't have the kind of ability to have a six digit income, then I cannot have a speedboat and a cabin on the lake. If you have the kind of job that's found in cities, you shouldn't live in the country.

Everything is a choice: how many children you want, the kind of house you want, the neighbourhood you want to live in, the job you have. You may think you have no choice and a car is essential; but you do have a choice.

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

Really depends on what the roads are like (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:34:53 PM EST

I've done it, I've also been punted several times by cars. Bouncing off fenders gets really old.

My last job had the advantage I could get on a jogging trail and cover most of the distance in safety - but getting to the trail was a real PITA.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
Not really (3.00 / 3) (#57)
by Betcour on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:47:15 AM EST

Biking is the best way to arrive at your work exhausted and sweating.

[ Parent ]
Funny. (none / 0) (#67)
by ambrosen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:49:42 AM EST

I don't sweat when I ride a bike. Must be because I don't wear too many clothes, and don't go hell for leather.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
Damn all mopeds... (2.50 / 6) (#14)
by antispamist on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 09:04:55 PM EST

Some little bastard goes vrumming[high pitched] past my window each morning at 7:30...I don't have class 'til noon!

One of these days I'm gonna throw a stick out in the street and watch the little high schooler break his neck....Little Bastard.

DAMN ALL MOPEDS!!!

A useless endevor that will certainly leave u wanting less but getting more.
it's the muffler (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by durkie on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:33:26 PM EST

if you go to spain, those little buzzing bastards are all over the place....their dissonant, brittle exhaust sound unescapable. scooter companies need to wise up and put a better muffler on there, because you can make them sound like a real beast, or be very unobtrusive.

[ Parent ]
Misery loves company (1.00 / 1) (#102)
by Sloppy on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:45:20 PM EST

He had to get up in the morning, so you do too!
"RSA, 2048, seeks sexy young entropic lover, for several clock cycles of prime passion..."
[ Parent ]
biking and light rail (4.16 / 6) (#15)
by durkie on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 09:10:28 PM EST

would it be possible to combine the light-rail and a bicycle? if you had a decent road bicycle, 25 km/h would be a decently relaxed pace. plus, if you rode a bike more, hills would get easier, you'd get faster overall, and likely be several kg lighter in short time. you'd also be rid of that nasty 2 stroke engine...

Other alternatives (4.16 / 6) (#16)
by daishan on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 09:16:20 PM EST

I hate commuting so much that everytime I get a new job I move close to it so I don't have to commute, I just walk.

I have a downtown condo and a place in the country. I think it's the best of both worlds... with suburbia being the worst.

As long as you figure out how to (2.00 / 1) (#27)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:31:55 PM EST

ban further development of what ever township your country home is in.

Heaven knows you don't want more people moving in and spoiling the view.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
fucking commie (1.87 / 16) (#17)
by turmeric on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 09:24:37 PM EST

get an SUV, you fucking commie

fucking terrorist (2.00 / 1) (#106)
by bjlhct on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:44:18 PM EST

Get a bike, you fucking terrorist supporter.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
yeah lets all live like fucking poverty stricken (none / 0) (#117)
by turmeric on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:30:59 PM EST

3rd world slaves. good fucking idea.

[ Parent ]
yeah you will be too (5.00 / 1) (#119)
by bjlhct on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:48:12 AM EST

after all you spend your entire measly salary on auto insurance and maintenance and fucking gas and impress nobody. fucking loser poser.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
if u cant buy insurance (none / 0) (#135)
by turmeric on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:00:49 PM EST

you dont deserve to live in this country. quit whining and popping out babies and get a real job. moron.

[ Parent ]
not like i don't have the money (none / 0) (#141)
by bjlhct on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:01:05 PM EST

but if youre stupid enough to think that the insurance cos arent corrupt than id say canada bill jones motto applies here. id rather spend it on something worthwhile like kitesurfing and vacations you fucking lifeless geek. not like its that good anyway. im gonna move to iceland as soon as i can with how much the usa is sucking.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
Capitalist pigs (none / 0) (#139)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:50:18 PM EST

Actually, I think the right reply to this troll is: "Ride a bike and get some fucking exercise you fat capitalist pig!"

[ Parent ]
Of Mopeds and Men (3.42 / 7) (#20)
by thom2 on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 09:54:23 PM EST

Mopeds have several disadvantages. They are noisy, very dangerous, require frequent tuneups, are impossible to operate in adverse weather conditions, and are very easy to steal. In addition, it is impossible to ride one without looking like a damn fool.

The fact is, most people who use the roads do so in a car. Moped drivers are a very small minority, and because of the small size, poor acceleration, and low speeds of the things, they frequently require specialized lanes, which eats into the amount of real estate available for automobiles. When mopeds do operate in the same lanes as cars, they are a total headache to be around, requiring drivers to be extra alert to avoid crushing the silly things. As if driving were not stressful enough. Thus the car-using majority suffer because of the minoirity who insist on using mopeds.

The situation is exactly analogous to the Segway, another annoying transportation device, one that aggrivates the sensible majority of pedestrians for the sake of the Segway-riding few.

Many cities are wising up and banning the use of Segways on sidewalks: we should all be thankful for that. It would be good for a similar rash of common sense to affect legislatures with regard to roads. There needs to be a sensible horsepower or vehicle size limit set for the legal use of our streets. Godspeed the day responsible commuters should are set free from the scourge of mopeds.

Given the many problems large ICEs cause (none / 0) (#47)
by michaelp on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:39:40 AM EST

in citys or even small towns, I would say: sensible horsepower or vehicle size limit set for the legal use of our streets

Would be about 900lbs and 5hp, for any street in town.


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Cute Car. (none / 0) (#49)
by thom2 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:10:23 AM EST

Though I suspect it might be difficult moving a couch across town in one. Using one to ferry about the better part of a Little League team might also prove a bit tricky.

[ Parent ]
You must own a lot of couches... (4.50 / 2) (#56)
by Skwirl on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:46:50 AM EST

In all honesty, what percentage of your time spent driving consists of either: moving a couch or moving a little league team?

Now, what percentage of the time are you driving alone with very little cargo? Hm?

I dunno, maybe your career or family life requires this kind of stuff on a very regular basis, but if you're anything like the average American, you could get by on a day-to-day basis without generating so much waste and traffic.

Of course, if you were really smart, you'd join a carsharing service or build a network of sharing, helpful friends, and that way you could have a cute car for commuting, a minivan for little league and a SUV for offroading.

--
"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]

Re: Of Mopeds and Men (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by nordicfrost on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:06:02 AM EST

I'll have a look at your argument list, bt for bit.

>Moped drivers are a very small minority

That really depends on where you are, doesn't it? If you've been to Rome or several European beach towns, you'll see that the mopeds (Mostly Japanese or French variants) are plentidul and often outnumbers cars by 2:1.

>When mopeds do operate in the same lanes as cars, they are a total headache to be around, requiring drivers to be extra alert to avoid crushing the silly things.

OK, when I drive a car, I make sure I don't crush mopeds as well as other "silly little things" like pedestriants, other cars, bicycles, and let's not forget the close cousin of the moped, the MC. This is a flacid argument. If you drive a car, stupid drivers is the one danger you have to look out for. They drive all sorts of vehicles, and annoys the hell out of others. They don't neccesarly drive mopeds.

> they frequently require specialized lanes, which eats into the amount of real estate available for automobiles.

Actually, they don't, but they become far more effective when they get out of the way of crazy car drivers. And a 1-meter moped lane really eats up that Hummers lane.

>Godspeed the day responsible commuters should are set free from the scourge of mopeds.

A nice and obective finish to the comprehensive analysis.

[ Parent ]

Streets thick with mopeds like mosquitoes (none / 0) (#125)
by thom2 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:38:09 AM EST

Driving in a city with a large moped population is a hellish experience. It is not something we need to import to cities across America: there is enough "Road Rage" here as it is. Like malaria, mopeds are something best left to the developing nations.

[ Parent ]
Start paying attention before you hurt somebody (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by Skwirl on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:32:37 AM EST

First of all, RTFA, what he's calling a "moped" is what I'd call a motorized bicycle. He's not talking about sit-down mopeds like the one in the picture you linked.
The fact is, most people who use the roads do so in a car. Moped drivers are a very small minority, and because of the small size, poor acceleration, and low speeds of the things, they frequently require specialized lanes, which eats into the amount of real estate available for automobiles [...] There needs to be a sensible horsepower or vehicle size limit set for the legal use of our streets.
Second of all. WHOA. I don't care if you're in the majority or not, you don't have special entitlement to the public streets. Living without a car can be a lifestyle, a moral choice and a necessity for some people. The majority has no special right to limit access to the minority. That's why we've got things like the Americans with Disabilities Act.

You should probably stop driving a car yourself, actually. If you're such a bad driver that you have trouble concentrating on the task and looking out for smaller vehicles, maybe you should consider voluntarily tearing up your license. Your inattention could kill me. Or maybe it'll kill some kid or grandma who's trying to cross the street. You pose a bigger risk to me as a bicyclist than any moped has ever posed to you. Why should I have my lifestyle freedom restricted when you're the one causing all the damage?

--
"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]

Ease up on the silly pills (none / 0) (#123)
by thom2 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:15:48 AM EST

The vast majority of Amercian families own at least one car, many own two. The streets and highways of this country were meant to be used by automobiles. Automobiles, not "motorized bicycles", rocket scooters, gasoline powered wheelchairs, or horses on rollerskates.

Riding a bicycle on a busy roadway is risky because bicycles are recreational devices. They do not belong on crowded public streets interfering with the flow of traffic anymore than recreational handcars belong on mainline railway lines. People who cannot afford cars or do not drive should use public transportation. That's what we pay taxes for.

[ Parent ]
Excuse me?!? (none / 0) (#138)
by Skwirl on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:42:25 PM EST

Riding a bicycle on a busy roadway is risky because bicycles are recreational devices [...] People who cannot afford cars or do not drive should use public transportation.
Oh, I get it now. I see exactly where you're coming from and why we're disagreeing. You don't live on planet Earth. Here, let me tell you a few things about my world:
  • Public transportation is inadequate in most cities.
  • Single occupant drivers, tailgaters and heavy, slow-to-accelerate vehicles cause traffic.
  • The impoverished majority of the world starves to death while America suffers an epidemic of obesity.
  • Driving is not a right, it's a privilege. The State licenses drivers, decides arbitrarily who can and who can not drive and when and where they can do it.
  • The law says that bicycles are not "recreational vehicles." They are vehicles with almost the exact same duties and privileges as motorized vehicles.
  • You can't just classify things you don't like as "recreational" and expect them to go away. A bicycle is a tool. Some people use it as a toy, but lots of people integrate it into their lifestyle.
  • Roads were invented before cars. Bicycles and pedestrians were invented before cars. Using your logic, we should close all roads designed before 1892 to automobiles. Actually, that's not a half bad idea.
  • Driving a car on a busy roadway is risky, because cars kill three times more people each year than the height of the Vietnam War. They are the #1 killer of on-duty police officers.
  • Oil is a nonrenewable resource. We're going to cross the point on the supply vs. demand curve very soon where cheap oil will become a thing of the past. Two car households will be fucked up the ass if they don't prepare. OPEC will have loads more market and political power. Public transportation alone is not going to save us.
  • The car-free lifestyle is successfully exercised by many, many cities around the world. The vast majority of people who live in Manhatten, for instance, don't drive their own car because traffic and population density makes it impractical. Merchants in third world countries bring their wares to market by cart and by bicycle. In fact, some people in the first world choose to do the same thing. Why would you villainize a group of people who live a "riskier," more effortful and less harmful lifestyle than yourself?
Well, I could go on and cite all of these facts, but you don't strike me as the type of open minded individual who would care. I just thought you should know that your opinion isn't the only one out there and the day will come when your lifestyle is no longer practicable. Until then, enjoy your traffic jams. I'll be the one recreating and getting work done on my bicycle while you're fuming about how the world doesn't bend over for your personal entitlement.

--
"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]
Other view (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by pyro9 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:27:03 AM EST

Of course, the moped, scooter, and bike riders only take up a fraction of the space a car (often containing only the driver) needs, and present far less danger to pedestrians. If most single commuters were on scooters, there would be no daily traffic jam. At rush hour, even a tiny slow scooter might be faster than a car since it wouldn't be mired in the gridlock. I argue that the special lane should be implemented everywhere with severe penelties for violating it. If the lane existed, it would probably get used a lot more. The half hearted attempts where one road has a bike lane don't count. Those don't get used because to get anywhere (or to get to that road for that matter), the potential user will still have to risk life and limb on a road with no special lane. Preferably, the lane should have a low barrier wall just high enough to tear up those nice shiny wheels on the SUV that will never be driven for sport or utility purposes.

As for the cities that ban the segways, I find it interesting that the city 'planners' consistantly complain about all the single occupant cars, the daily gridlock, the impossability of expanding the road system, the high cost of maintaining the roads in the face of shrinking tax base (often caused by people fleeing the city to get away from the traffic and pollution) and at the same time, ban anything that might actually solve the problem. As far as I'm concerned, they are welcome to ban segways, bicycles, mopeds etc. on the sidewalk as soon as they reserve one lane of each road for them. This would also eliminate the problem of parking. You can get several mopeds, scooters, and segways in the same space taken up by a single car.

All but the most poorly tuned and broken down moped engine (with probably 1 month to live) generate less pollution per person than the most perfectly tuned SUV.

The reduction in costs associated with automobile traffic would probably be nearly enough to buy everyone in the country a scooter by the time you total up reduced road costs, reduced environmental costs, reduced military costs (associated with de-funding middle eastern war efforts) reduced costs associated with traffic deaths, productivity gains due to people not being locked in unproductive gridlock on a daily basis, etc.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Mopeds are the problem, not the solution (none / 0) (#124)
by thom2 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:30:06 AM EST

A nation of scooter drivers would not change the fact that mopeds are slow, unreliable, dangerous (most people will of course refuse to wear helmets), silly-looking, impossible to operate in bad weather, easy to steal, and only usable by 1 or two people. We already have an optimal transportation device for American families, the automobile.

Roads are for cars (and trucks). People who want to tool about on motorized scooters should buy ATV's and drive around the backwoods, out of the way of commuters. People who want to whiz around on bicycles should buy mountain bikes and hit the trails, or join health clubs, where they can ride exercize bikes until they're blue in the face. And people who don't wish to drive should take public transportation.

[ Parent ]
Roads are for walkers and cyclists. (none / 0) (#129)
by it certainly is on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:53:26 AM EST

People who want to tool about in cars should sit on their fat asses playing mindless racing games -- that's what they do anyway, why not have the added advantage of not getting in the way of healthy, intelligent people.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Actually, it would (none / 0) (#131)
by pyro9 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:46:13 PM EST

A nation of scooter drivers would not suffer from the number one cause of death or serious injury on a moped, that is, being squashed by a car. They move slow, but when the city is gridlocked, 15-25 MPH beats not moving at all.

It is true that many won't wear helmets, but then, many refuse to wear seat belts or pull over to yak on the cell phone. A 25MPH accident is a lot less likely to have serious consequences than a 55-75 MPH accident. I had a few of those on my bicycle as a kid, and never once suffered an injury that couldn't be handled by a band aid and some Bactine. That was back in the days when nobody even thought to wear a helmet on a bicycle. I don't know of anyone who has died from a scooter accident unless a car was involved. The real danger doesn't come in until the other vehicle is a car.

Meanwhile, automobile fatalities are so common that most aren't considered news.

They are a pain to operate in bad weather, no argument there.

I haven't found them to be at all unreliable (when I had one), and they're very easy to work on if they do have a problem. Just try stripping your car's engine down to parts and reassembling on a Saturday afternoon by yourself.

They only carry one or two, but they're reletivly cheap. They're easy enough to operate that most older children can handle a small one safely. If cars are for families, why is it that nearly every car I see on the way to work is occupied by only the driver?

As for silly looking, perhaps, but the more common the sight is, the less silly it will seem.

They're only easier to steal if they're not chained to something solid by the frame. A pro can steal your car in under 30 seconds.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Make Two Posts (none / 0) (#84)
by nklatt on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 12:18:32 PM EST

How do I rate this post?  Spouting moped- (and bike-, in not so many words) bigotry to start, then following with Segway wisdom. thom2, please repost as two separate issues so I can rate them. ;)

Try to think of every bike/moped you see as one less person jamming up the freeway. That takes the edge off having to drive a bit more cautiously when you happen to come across one.

[ Parent ]

chop shop (5.00 / 1) (#136)
by turmeric on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:05:10 PM EST

in the old days, cars were in the minority. the only reason they are a majority is because of the oil/auto/tire companies destroying our democratic system and teraing up our public spaces and cities and forcing everyone to have roads. it is entirely possible to have bike lanes and pedestrian lanes all over the place, entirely separated from car traffic, at a significantly lower cost than it is to build a car-road. and yet we dont do it. we have 38,000 deaths a year from cars, and you sak who is suffering? anyone who doesnt want the problems of cars is suffering. anyone under 16 is suffering. anyone too old to drive is suffering. 38,000 famillies a year are suffering. the injured, much more than 38,000 , are suffering. the only ones arent suffering are the rich cockheads who run the industries and stole oru government from us, funny how most of these people supported hitler in the 30s (ford, GM, texaco) and have supported brutal dictatorships elsewhere, like nigeria (shell oil) , western africa (firestone). etc.

[ Parent ]
Holy smokes! (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:28:25 PM EST

I live in the inner suburbs, not more than 4 kilometres from the centre of the city.

Wow. That statement reveals a big difference in the assumptions of Americans and Australians...

I consider myself to live just outside the "inner suburbs" of Philadelphia. It's about 23 miles to the city center. Out in the land of the cereal people, I've heard that the suburbs are pushing 50-60 miles out beyond the edge of the Los Angeles.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


Farther than that (none / 0) (#29)
by ocelotbob on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:33:39 PM EST

If you count the bedroom communities like Lancaster and Riverside, the "city" of LA extends some 100+ miles. ABQ on the other hand, the farthest subburbs are about 20 or so miles away, and that's considered a real long commute

Why... in my day, the idea wasn't to have a comfortable sub[missive]...
--soylentdas
[ Parent ]

farther than that. (none / 0) (#43)
by cicero on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 12:45:48 AM EST

to my nothern california (santa cruz) mind, los angeles is everything south of santa barabara and north of san diego. that's, what, 200+ miles?


--
I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]
fuzzy borders (none / 0) (#46)
by ocelotbob on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:35:30 AM EST

Admittedly, there are some who commute farther than that, I was just pointing out the boundaries for about 99% of the commuters. Few people commute from north of Ventura, and pretty much any direction away from Lancaster, Riverside, and San Berdoo is desert. While you may get a few people who commute from the SB area, most people wouldn't be able to handle the 3+ hour commute just for one way.

Why... in my day, the idea wasn't to have a comfortable sub[missive]...
--soylentdas
[ Parent ]

i think it depends on the American city (none / 0) (#99)
by jlinwood on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:27:18 PM EST

I'd consider the inner suburbs of Philadelphia to be Haverford, Havertown, Manayunk, umm, i'm forgetting tons here. 23 miles from city center would be what, West Chester? or Lansdale?  

Here in Austin, the "inner suburbs" are all in the city limits, due to a generous annexation policy in the state of Texas. The two inner suburbs I can think of are Rollingwood and West Lake Hills.  Most of the nicer parts of town are 7-8 miles or less from downtown, beyond that is tiresome suburbia like you would find in any city (except for the area by Lake Travis).

[ Parent ]

Rather (none / 0) (#144)
by psicE on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 11:01:54 PM EST

It reveals a difference in perception between some Americans and others.

I consider myself to live past the outer suburbs of Boston. I live 25 miles from downtown. By contrast, the "inner suburbs" are Chelsea, Revere, Malden, Everett, Quincy... places that, if they don't border Boston, are separated by one community and are close enough that you can get to downtown by public transportation in a little over 10 minutes.

In a car-centric area, especially one where the city has lost its character and has become essentially an expanded suburb (a la Los Angeles), inner and outer suburban-ness can be judged solely by driving distance. In a real city, somewhere like Boston, you can really feel a difference between the "streetcar suburbs" and the outer towns. Thus the difference.


[ Parent ]

BTW - Aren't two-strokes banned in the US (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:29:45 PM EST

these days because of the air-pollution they generate?


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


Depends on the state (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by strlen on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:52:58 PM EST

In some states, not at all. In California, they're only banned on the freeway, when the displacement is below 250 cc (250cc and higher are banned). I've heard of owners of Aprillia RS250's (excellent 250cc 2-stroke race bike, only legal for the race track in California), putting on engine ID plates which say "4 stroke" [as well as European-spec lights and turn signals, as the bike is street legal in Europe], and getting of rather succesfully, as your average Officer Dough Nut is not always going to be trained in exotic Italian racebikes.

Sometimes like Wisconsin also lack a 2-stroke ban, at all, or so I'm told.
While I'm no fan of environmentalist prohibitionism (which rises from the assumption that every vehicle has only role -- that is daily commute - and anyone who posses a vehicle that allows for other taks is a dangerous criminal) -- there's really no reason for larger 2-strokes, and even 2-strokes in general. Honda, for instance, uses very efficient and high-specific-output turbo-charged 4-strokes for watercraft and snowmobiles, as well as very efficient 4-strokes for lawnmovers. Not only are these engines a lot cleaner, they're also a lot more reliable (as lubrication is no longer combined with fuel delivery).

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

Yeah, my impression is that (none / 0) (#38)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 11:13:10 PM EST

that two strokes are regulated the same way diesels are in the USA: laws were established 25 years ago and never really re-examined in light of modern developments.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
Laws and 2-strokes (none / 0) (#42)
by strlen on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 11:41:25 PM EST

2-strokes haven't really improved, while diesels have greatly. Diesels also usually have no substitutes, while 2-strokes nowadays do. Modern diesels, domestic and import alike are excellent as far as both driveability and emissions go. It's the 70's GM non-turbo diesels that really made Americans hate diesel so much. They're widely spread on even passenger cars in Europe.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
IIRC. (none / 0) (#65)
by ambrosen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:47:28 AM EST

Toyota was researching two-strokes for efficiency in the late 90s. I've no idea what happened to them, though.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
from what i understand (none / 0) (#66)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:47:31 AM EST

Euro-diesels also use a cleaner grade of fuel than US diesels, IIRC. I remember reading an article that claimed US regulations on what can go in diesel fuel are responsible. Of course, that could have been a cop-out from manufacturers who don't want to screw around with something new...


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
I was one of the first things Bush(dubya) did. (none / 0) (#80)
by wumpus on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:28:14 AM EST

Low sulfer diesel fuel was scheduled for the early part of the Bush administration. Guess who cancled it.

Basically this was a win-win for the administration. Not only was the oil industry spared a one-time expense to improve air quality. But the obvious danger of vastly more efficient SUVs was removed as well.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]

You forget the best benefit of riding a moped (3.40 / 5) (#34)
by TheLizardKing on Sun Mar 09, 2003 at 10:51:55 PM EST

...free and effective birth control!

Ciao... (none / 0) (#81)
by c4miles on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:48:41 AM EST

Tell that to the italians. Or the Mods.
--
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.
[ Parent ]
wrt Italians (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by adequate nathan on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:08:36 PM EST

The birth rate in Italy is now around 1.2 children per woman - far below replenishment and the lowest in the world.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

If you really want fun being green, go e-scoot! (none / 0) (#45)
by michaelp on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:26:51 AM EST

Get one of these bitchin' electric scooters: ~20 mph, 25 mile range, and standing up all the while.

Mopeds: stinky, noisey, dirty (oil all over your clothes).

Electric scoots: No fumes, no stink, little noise.

Asphalt surfing for ungrown ups!

Ok, if you prefer bikeish rides, there is still no reason to limit yourself to a stinky two stroke: there is the Voloci 30mph+ ebike.


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

Great but (none / 0) (#50)
by Betcour on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:35:15 AM EST

What about the batteries ? Do you have to throw them away after a while ? Those things are usually very polluting if not recycled properly.

[ Parent ]
Yeah recycle them (none / 0) (#86)
by michaelp on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 12:46:36 PM EST

How long they last depends on use and care. Usually the LAs last about a year of daily use, the NiMHs are much better, both are recyclable. NiCADs are much less so, so don't use those.

Sure they are very polluting when not disposed of properly, so are cars:-).


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Charger Bike (none / 0) (#89)
by frankwork on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:56:27 PM EST

I used to work for a company that collaborated with GT Bicycles to make an electric-assist bike called the Charger Bike.

The gimmick on this thing was a torque sensor on the chain that allowed the assist to match or multiply whatever torque the rider was supplying. So there was no throttle control or anything, just a few buttons to set the assist to half, full, 2x or 4x.

It made a slightly annoying whine (hysteresis current control, if memory serves), but gave you the uncanny sensation of being four times stronger than usual. Range was around 15 km minimum on a charge.

Alas GT was purchased by a bicycle manufacturer that had a competing product, so the Charger Bike was discontinued. But a few are still available from the aforementioned fansite.

[ Parent ]

ahh capitalism (none / 0) (#134)
by turmeric on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:59:32 PM EST

where the best and brightest innovaations are bought out by a megalith corporation so that they wont have to face any competition. oh profits! oh progress. oh capitalism.

[ Parent ]
Not if you like the freeway. (none / 0) (#48)
by Bartab on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:49:32 AM EST

25 mph? Not legal on any freeway in the country, and probably no highway either. Get a motorcycle. In fact, there isn't a single argument for legally forcing (through taxation or direct laws) less usage of SUVs in favor of smaller cars that cannot be equally applied to requiring motorcycles in favor of cars. My motorcycle gets 80mpg, and goes 120mph. My Jeep gets about 8mpg, and tonight was the first time I've put gasoline in it in 2003.

--
It is wrong to judge people on the basis of skin color or gender; therefore affirmative action shall be implemented: universities and employers should give preference to people based on skin color and gender.

Safety? (nt) (none / 0) (#51)
by organism on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:25:04 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Yes... (none / 0) (#59)
by Bartab on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:49:24 AM EST

Safety is a consideration, and that's why SUVs are superior.

--
It is wrong to judge people on the basis of skin color or gender; therefore affirmative action shall be implemented: universities and employers should give preference to people based on skin color and gender.
[ Parent ]

That rather depends. (none / 0) (#64)
by ambrosen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:45:49 AM EST

Whether you're inside or outside the SUV. And there are many cars which are safer to be inside than SUVs.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
Superior at killing other people. (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:03:33 AM EST

SUVs may make their occupants safer, but they definitely cause increased problems for the cars they hit - and if both vehicles are SUVs your supposed "safety bonus" will disappear.

In other words, SUVs should be banned.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
The myth of the safety bonus (none / 0) (#73)
by Herring on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:36:10 AM EST

In this article there are stats which suggest that SUVs are actually more dangerous for their occupants (about half way down, under the "Agressive Design" subheading). I agree - ban the fuckers.


Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
[ Parent ]
No... (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by libertine on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:25:49 PM EST

Sorry, but SUVs pose a greater liability to themselves in high speed accidents.  The NTSB has given some pretty grim numbers for deaths related to rollovers, and I have seen what happens to the average SUV when that occurs...yech.  The problem with SUVs is that they have no real internal roll cage or significant support for the passenger area.  If it rolls over, you are Jell-O.  And they roll over in about a third of all high speed accidents they are involved in.

At low speeds, the SUV does better for SUV passenger safety, but the liability factor incurred from hitting someone while driving one is high.

Honestly, SUVs are not really designed for on or off road safety.  The only thing that saves them in low speed impacts is the underbody, and the fact that they are jacked up so high.  Thats it.  They are designed for an illusion of security.  Anything designed for off-road is going to have a rollcage, real bumpers, and a better suspension.  Anything for high speed road usage is going to be lower to the ground (and I have been in an SUV that got a love tap from the rear at high speeds- nothing like doing a 380 on one wheel, while flying down the road, and having your life flash before your eyes).


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

Safety is Relative (none / 0) (#82)
by nklatt on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 12:04:23 PM EST

I always felt like I was less likely to get into an accident on my bike. Your eyes are about level with the SUV drivers' so visibility is good. You can position yourself in the lane for maximum visibility and escape-route planning. You only need a path about 2 feet wide to sneak through to avoid an accident. Also, riding a bike always pulled me into a more concentrated state; there was no radio to listen to or talking with other passengers, just the machine, the road, and the "obstacles" on the road.

[ Parent ]
Yamaha XT 250 (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by yooden on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:40:06 AM EST

I'd take a light motorcycle over a moped any day.
The XT 250 handles very well, always used less than 3l/100km, is quicker than 95% of cars, cheap on insurance and taxes and significantly smaller than larger bikes, which helps find parking space.

(It's also 20 years old, so you should take a look for newer models.)

Bike Lanes are wrong (4.75 / 4) (#58)
by driptray on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:47:51 AM EST

The biggest issue is probably drivers opening their doors straight into the bike lane.

While I generally think that bike lanes are a Bad Idea, a bike lane that is within the "door zone" of parked cars is completely and totally unsafe.

You should do two things about this bike lane -

  1. Never ride in it. Always ride out of the range of an opening door from the parked cars. You've correctly identified this as the the number one safety issue for most cyclists.
  2. Lobby your local council to either remove the bike lane stripe, or move it further out from the parked cars. Better no stripe than one which trains car drivers to believe that you belong in a totally unsafe part of the road.

Don't be afraid to take the lane. You have just as much right to it as anyone else, even if you are going slower than them.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating

Bike Lane (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by craigtubby on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 06:00:37 AM EST

So why are you against bike lanes?

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

The anti-bike lane argument (5.00 / 4) (#62)
by driptray on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 06:51:40 AM EST

When reading the following arguments against bike lanes, keep in mind that the proposed alternative is a street that is just as wide as the "car lane + bike lane", but simply without the stripe that divides them.

Safety - The dangers that cyclists face are very similar to the dangers that motorists face. Those dangers are at intersections, not on the bits of road between the intersections. But bike lanes either disappear at intersections (almost acceptable), or they continue through the intersection (bad). Assuming "drive-on-the-right" (USA), how does a cyclist make a left-hand turn from a bike lane? Or how does a cyclist go straight when the car to their left wants to turn right?

Bike lanes appear to offer "safety" for the sections of road where it is not needed, but at the expense of complicating normal road behaviour at the sections where it is needed. Normal intersection behaviour is the same for both cars and bikes; get in the left lane to turn left, and get on the left side of any car that is turning right. Bike lanes greatly discourage this behaviour, and condition drivers to believe that cyclists should not be outside the bike lane.

Debris - As cars drive down the road they automatically sweep debris off to the side. If there is a bike lane, debris will collect there, creating obstacles and flat tire problems for cyclists. Without a stripe, cars will use the whole lane (except when a cyclist is in it), thus keeping the whole lane relatively clean.

Door zone - Although bike lanes shouldn't be in the door zone, they often are. This is perhaps an argument against bad bike lanes as much as it is against bike lanes per se. Still, cyclists who advocate for bike lanes should be careful about this one.

John Forester is the person most famous for articulately stating the problems with bike lanes. This is a typical spiel of his.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

Ahh I see (none / 0) (#146)
by craigtubby on Tue Mar 18, 2003 at 11:46:19 AM EST

I take it your an American - having read the site that you pointed me too, and what you have said, i'm a bit surprised at the way things are done.

In the UK a bike is just another road user that (sometimes) happens to have an area where they can ride without having cars moving in on them.

For example your argumrnt about how do I turn right, how would you turn right without a bike lane?  You would look behind you, indicate with your arm, move to the centre of the road and wait for an opening in the traffic so you can make your turn.  Why should it be any different with a bike lane?

Bike lanes that ignore stop signals?  Flippin heck thats just asking for trouble.

So surely your argumrnt against bike lanes is really against badly designed bike lanes and poor driving from both cyclists and motorists.

I've recently moved (well 18 months ago) from a city that was very cycle friendly (Cambridge) with numourous bike lanes, some that joined the road, some that joined the path, with junctions designed with bikes in mind (traffic lights that have an extra 20 foot for cyclists only, so they can move to the right, filter ligts specifically for bikes) and underpaths (subways) on dangerous roundabouts, to a town that has nothing for the cyclist.  Infact I can't remember seeing one single cycle lane.

And as far as that goes, my enjoyment of cycling has dropped dramatically - cars are more likely to move into your space, to ignore you and make life difficult for you (probably unintenionally, but who knows ... ) and to not bother giving you any space as they overtake you.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

Careful (4.00 / 2) (#98)
by egg troll on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:11:19 PM EST

Don't be afraid to take the lane. You have just as much right to it as anyone else, even if you are going slower than them.

I also have a right to march down to City Hall and light a cross on MLK day, but that doesn't mean its a good thing to do. Riding in the lane and holding up traffic can be an excellent way to get knocked off your bike by a pissed off motorist.

What I did was to ride in the bike lane, but keep an eye out for people in parked cars. If you see someone ahead in a car, be ready to swerve out away if they open their door. Doing this saved me several nasty crashes and kept the ire of angry motorists off me.

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

[ Parent ]

Myths and real danger (none / 0) (#104)
by driptray on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:22:34 PM EST

Riding in the lane and holding up traffic can be an excellent way to get knocked off your bike by a pissed off motorist.

I think you're confusing the fear of holding up cars with actual danger. Riding out in the middle of the lane is actually a very safe way to ride. It's easy for people to see you, and you are likely following a predictable pattern of behaviour rather than suddenly weaving about.

My basic policy is that if the lane is wide enough to share between a car and a bike, I'll ride on the side. But if it isn't wide enough, then I'll ride down the centre of the lane. At stop signs and traffic lights I always move to the centre of the lane for better visibility and to prevent cars from doing stupid overtaking.

What I did was to ride in the bike lane, but keep an eye out for people in parked cars. If you see someone ahead in a car, be ready to swerve out away if they open their door.

This sounds very dangerous to me, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, there may be somebody in a car that you are unable to see. They might be too short for you to see over the headrest, or they might be bending over, when all of a sudden they open the door. Also, the car may have tinted windows that make it impossible to see inside.

Secondly, swerving out from the bike lane into the regular lane to avoid a door is a very common type of accident. The car that is alongside you has no way of avoiding you.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

Four Years (5.00 / 1) (#108)
by egg troll on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 06:54:40 PM EST

When I lived in Oregon, I spent four years getting around on a mountain bike. That was how I did it, and I seemed to have avoided a lot of the unpleasantness that many of my friends encountered. But that's just me.

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

[ Parent ]

integrating the web into the transport system (none / 0) (#63)
by dan1966 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:26:21 AM EST

flow, shape communicate.... imagine the time when you can send a text message from your mobile phone and it immediately responds with the actual times for the next bus or train from your local bus or tram stop. imagine the time when you are charged to use the roads depending on the level of traffic. both of these things are happening in the UK now. if you know the time, the cost and the location of transport options from where you are then you can quickly adjust your behaviour to make the most of your day.
dan
According to your example (none / 0) (#69)
by Rogerborg on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:12:54 AM EST

You're suggesting owning a car and a moped.

Pros:

  • Fuel saving over your gas guzzler car, when you use the moped.
  • Reduced parking fees, when you use the moped.
Cons:
  • More chance of being mown down by Volvo Man, when you use the moped.
  • More insurance, regardless of which one you use.
  • More road tax (in countries that levy it), regardless of which one you use.
And the killer:

  • The resource cost of building and scrapping two vehicles.

I have seriously considered going the moped route for my commute, but I weighed the lifetime fuel saving against the cost of building the damn thing, and it didn't seem to make sense.  Got figures?

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs

Financial analysis (none / 0) (#122)
by goonie on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:53:59 AM EST

Warning: metric figures ahead. All quotes are Australian currency.

There isn't any insurance on this thing. You don't have to register it.

The fuel consumption of the WRX is about 11 litres per 100 kilometres or so. With fuel at $1.05, that's 11.6 cents per kilometre in fuel. With the car, you also have to add in service and tyre costs. A WRX costs about $200 to service every 12500 kilometres or so, so that's an additional 1.6 cents per kilometre, and the tyres last about 25,000 kilometres and cost about $1200 to replace, so that's about 5 cents per kilometre. That's probably exaggerated, because the wear on the tyres during commuting is likely less than when it's driven for, um, other purposes ;), but we'll stick with it for now. So, in round figures, we'll say 17 cents per kilometre in the driving. The round trip is say, 18, so that's $3.06 in driving costs and $3.30 in parking. $6.36 per day in total.

With the bike, the fuel consumption is a little harder to measure, but let's say be conservative and say 1.5 litres per 100 kilometres. That's 1.6 cents per kilometre in fuel. You also need to add some two-stroke oil to the fuel - about 15 millilitres per litre. A litre bottle of two stroke oil costs about $8, so 15 mls of two-stroke mix is 12 cents. So that adds about 0.1 cents per kilometre to the cost, so we're up to 1.7 cents per kilometre. Most of the minor servicing the bike requires can be done by hand, but we'll be conservative and add 1 cent per kilometre for servicing. Bike tyres are cheap, so we'll say $50 every 5000 kilometres - at that price add 1 cent per kilometre for tyres. So we'll say the moped costs 3.7 cents per kilometre to run. Over the 18 kilometre round trip, that's 66 cents per trip, and no parking fee.

Assuming I take the moped 3 times a week, 40 weeks per year, I'll save $640 per year. As the moped cost me $1500, it'll take me about two years and four months to pay the entire purchase price back, but of course the moped still retains value after that period.

There are other things I've left out of this analysis:

  1. Use of the moped for other transport.
  2. consumables such as brakes (which are going to run way in favour of the moped). WRX brakes are expensive!
  3. the reduced wear and tear on the car, which will increase its resale value somewhat.
  4. The effect of foregone interest on the savings I don't have as a result of the purchase.

Overall, I think this makes good financial sense.

[ Parent ]

Oops, my bad (none / 0) (#126)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:17:48 AM EST

Excellent anaylsis, thanks.  However, I should have said that I was primarily interested in the resource costs, which aren't necessarily the same as the financial costs.

Aside about this type of moped, you simply can't get them any more in the UK.  The smallest you'll find is 50cc fully motorised.  Perhaps I could special-order get a hybrid like you describe, but I wouldn't bet on being able to get parts for it.

Also, with the traffic on my commute (yes, mea culpa), I wouldn't even consider a 50cc.  A 125 would be bigger and more visible and therefore more likely to keep me alive.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Not always a good solution (none / 0) (#76)
by sirnaof on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:54:16 AM EST

Perhaps a moped works wonderfully in your situation, but if more people use them, I think things would get a little out of hand. I go to school at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. There are many, many people who have mopeds. The problem is that when there are so many people using them, they begin to get bothersome. People park them in the worst possible places, they don't obey traffic laws, and they are generally used in unsafe manners. Granted, I'm mainly referring to college students who don't always think about all these things. (To be fair, I also have to admit that most of the bikers I see don't follow traffic laws, either. I can't decide if these people are always in a hurry or just don't think the laws apply to them.) Most commonly they blow through red lights.

Personally, I would go for the old-fashioned bike. If you have the right gears, you can make it up larger hills. You'd also be building up strength in your legs so those hills are not such a problem.

Possibly the best part about a bike is that you don't use any gas. It's cheap (if you take care of it properly) and fun.

Disclaimer: I'm a bit biased away from mopeds...as I was crossing the street, a moped that wasn't paying attention (and that pulled around a vehicle illegally) ran into me in the crosswalk. Funny part is, he was hurt much more than I was.
-- Jeremy Baumgartner - sirnaof@hotmail.com CAE UNIX Systems Staff
I'd like to be able to use one... (none / 0) (#85)
by jester69 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 12:29:53 PM EST

But, I think perhaps where i live it just may not be that practical.

My first big problem is that I live 20 miles from work. So, commuting to and from work is kind of ruled out moped wise.

Second, the roads around here are pretty eclusively the domain of cars, i'd fear for my life riding on the road with these nincompoops.

Thirdly, there is a nice sidewalk along the "river" near here. The law allows me to ride a bike on this walk to and from the closest shopping centers, but the way our state laws are if I put a motor on my bicycle, it would become illegal for me to use the sidewalks. (thought practically if it were an electric motor I doubt anyone would notice or care.) Then, I'd be right back on the road with the inattentive SUV soccer moms.

The best plan I have come up with to get to and from work using a combination of public and bicycle transportation would take me 2x as long or more than driving. It would go, bicycle--> bus --> train --> bus -->

I plan to try it anyway, but I really get sad that public transport is so bad here. I wish we had trains & trolley cars etc. like in europe. I can't wait, supposedly in 2005 light rail will come to within 2 mi of my house, then I can get to work with bike-->train-->bus. This is also better as the bus i'd have to take for the first "bus leg" of my journey now travels on a road with heavy traffic. Why did we gut the streetcar infrastructure here in favor of Busses again? Oh yeah, I smell pork.

the only other factor to overcome is the prejudices here in this small midwestern cow-city. Public transport is seen as the realm of the poor and feeble minded. If you come to work on the bus people will wonder what is wrong in your life. I need to get over my caring what people think. Are other smaller US cities like that as well?

I think the biggest shame in the US was when the roads won over the trains. Slowly we have been dismatling almost our entire passenger railroad infrastructure, about all we are left with is the skeleton of an armless legless Amtrak.

Oh well.

Peas,

Jester
Its a lemming thing, Jeep owners would understand.

Perception (none / 0) (#130)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:45:30 PM EST

There's a perception out there that cars represent freedom and a lack of government intervention, and public transport is "welfare"...

GM saw the light back in the day and bought out all of the profitable private electric trolley lines and replaced them with gas-powered, diesel busses that need to be replaced every 5 years.

Meanwhile, we spend trillions on maintaining roads so that trucking companies can profit from them for free!

[ Parent ]

Electric trolly buses (none / 0) (#140)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:29:54 PM EST

Funny thing about electric trollies. There was an artical in the paper yesterday about Wellington, NZ (where I live), getting new trolly buses to replace the 19-26 year old things we currently have. I thought about time, but then I read that they are basicly only going to put new bodies on them, the chassis will stay the same--motor and electric systems and all, the part's that would usaly be the reason to replace a vehical.

[ Parent ]
hmm.. (4.33 / 3) (#87)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:03:38 PM EST

me to work in about 25-30 minutes if I avoid traffic -- more like 45 minutes at peak hour, though.

I live in the inner suburbs, not more than 4 kilometres from the centre of the city.

and 25km/h maximum speeds.

You're problem isn't a car, it's the idiot who designed your city...

Follow the KISS acronym:

If you're only 4 klicks away, why don't you just walk? You'd get to work in about 40 minutes anyways.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

I agree... (none / 0) (#107)
by goonie on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:56:28 PM EST

if it was only 4 km, I would ride a conventional cycle or walk. However, my work is located on the *other* side of the CBD, and the total trip is around 10 kilometres.

This is still within feasible cycling range, except for the whopping great hill in the middle of the route.

[ Parent ]

not as practical as a car (none / 0) (#90)
by pakje on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:00:42 PM EST

there are just some things which make the car more practical than a moped, motor or scooter. Even the supercrowded cities in asia aren't as full with mopeds as it should be, when considering your arguments.

Snow not an issue here (none / 0) (#112)
by goonie on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:54:43 PM EST

There are only a couple of populated places in Australia that get snow with any regularity, and it certainly doesn't lay on the ground anywhere where there's people except the ski resorts. I imagine the same applies to California, Texas, Florida, and so on.

[ Parent ]
Rain (none / 0) (#118)
by skim123 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:01:38 AM EST

While SoCal is quite snow free (until you get up in the mountains) it rains way too much here in the winter months. But in the summer it rains like twice, so this motorized bike would be quite handy.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Number one practicality (none / 0) (#142)
by rho on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:03:51 PM EST

When your wife calls you right before you leave work and asks you to pick up a load of groceries on your way home, you can do so much more easily with a car.

I used to make runs to the store in a bike when I was single (and only owned a bike), but when you're buying for two (or more), it becomes much less practical to strap stuff to a carrier or in saddlebags.
"The thought of two thousand people munching celery at the same time [horrifies] me." --G.B. Shaw
[ Parent ]

Rarely seen alternative... (none / 0) (#94)
by cr0sh on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:30:49 PM EST

A normal bicycle is a good choice for commuting, provided your path is relatively level, and the distance is not too great. The problems with bicycles become apparent when these two area are met with. But there is a vehicle that can overcome these two obstacles:

Recumbents

A recumbent bicycle is one in which the rider is positioned in a more "laid-back" position, with the pedals place out in front of the rider, the seat reclined a bit, and the steering bar either above or below the seat. There are two main advantages with recumbents: More power and more comfort.

The more power piece typically comes from what happens on a regular bike when you want to start pedaling, and especially when going up hill. A typical bike rider will get out of the seat to pump his way up to speed, or to get up a hill. You even see professional rider pumping uphill out-of-seat on steeper hills, simply because this is the only way to really do it.

With a recumbent, things are different: Your back is pressed against the seat back, so you can't "get out" of the seat, and hence all of your leg power goes to the crankshaft. This results into smoother pedaling, less weaving and bobbing, and more power to the wheels, with less energy expended for the same power output vs. a regular bike.

The comfort piece comes in with the seat - typically, most recumbent seats are chair-like devices, sometimes webbed or canvas slings, others harder type seats - but at all times they support your entire lower body and back, allowing you to pedal longer and further, while staying comfortable (ie, no more sore ass syndrome after a bike ride).

Recumbents come in a variety of styles and body designs (including three wheel versions), and all tend to be rather expensive ($1000 for the bike is on the cheap end). This tends to be because of the low demand for recumbents, and the fact that most people who buy a recumbent do so after either getting bored with their regular bike, or because they want a "better" bike after riding for a long time (ie, experience riders). But there is an alternative:

Build your own recumbent!

There is a growing group of people online who have built their own recumbents, many saying that what they built is better than recumbents they bought previously. Building a Bent (as they are called by people who love them) can be a challenging affair, depending on the materials and parts used, and the skill of the builder, but it isn't that hard. I have seen Bents built using everything from steel, to wood, to carbon fiber, to combos of all of these materials and more. Glue, epoxy, brazing, welding, nuts and bolts - you name it - hold them together. One guy even built his from complete junk, holding it all together with bolts, screws, and hose clamps. He built it very quickly, his main tool being a hacksaw to cut apart the "doner" bikes.

The fact is, if you can use a hacksaw, and can find a couple of cheap bikes (I recommend using a 26" multi-speed bike for the rear, and a child's 20" for the front - you will need to buy extra chain and a chain break tool as well) from garage/tag sales, thrift stores, or "bulk trash" pickup days, you have most of what you need for a recumbent bicycle. Look up the terms "homebrew recumbent", "homemade recumbent" and such on Google, and you will be well on your way. Envision a plan, draw it out, google some more, look at drawings and pictures of others homebrew creations carefully, plan some more, then get your parts together and go for it. A couple weeks of time or less and you will have a nice commuting vehicle ready to go (add a couple pannier bags to the back for a bit of extra storage).

I am taking that route, but going one step further and making it an electric vehicle (no pedalling). I don't know how well it will work, or whether it will move at all, but so far I have spent less than $100.00 for parts and such, and I am about 70% complete (I have been taking my time on it due to a bunch of other projects competing for my time). I figure if complete electric use doesn't work well, I can rework it into at least being an electric-assist system, easily - which would still be pretty cool.

Why? (none / 0) (#111)
by bashibazouk on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:26:04 PM EST

Why is it in my many years of bicycle riding have I never been passed by a recumbent? I've passed many on the other hand. It's true with a recumbent you get more muscle push but you lose the weight push of being above the crank. There are two other problems with recumbents. You are lower to the ground and there fore much less visible to drivers and a recumbent bicycle is elongated and sometimes places the handle bars in odd locations making for greatly reduced handling.

Until bicycle racers take up recumbents, I'm skeptical. As to the original poster, a 36 volt ebike (or the like) would be perfect. Get you right up that hill.

[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#121)
by cr0sh on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:09:08 AM EST

On a normal bicycle, for commuting, you want to try to stay in your seat as much as possible. When you "stand on" your cranks, you are using more energy doing a bunch of things other than keeping the bike going. Look up "Sheldon Brown" on bicycling - he has a whole site devoted to bicycles and such, and he talks about proper riding vs "standing on the pedals". Riding a bike is more than about "going fast", especially when you are commuting for any sizable distances. Your focus when doing this should be on minimum energy expenditure, and keeping a steady travel speed - anything else wastes energy. Recumbents are best for this - they are distance running machines, not speed machines (though I think there have been many speed records set in recumbents with full body fairings). Your visibility issue is true, but I think inattentive and uncaring drivers of other vehicles share in the blame. As far as handling is concerned, all I have is anecdotal evidence - most people who have written about their recumbents on the internet have said it took a bit to get use to the steering arrangement, but after the initial break-in period, they said that it felt right (in a way, implying that current bikes are in fact designed "wrong" for the human body). I don't think you will see racers take up recumbents (and actually, I wonder if that is more the result of current rules for racing, rather than what the racers want?), but when it comes to distance treks (ie, long distance runs, sometimes 100 miles in length or more), recumbents are typically the chosen form of bike. They are simply more energy efficient for distance biking.

[ Parent ]
recumbents are illegal in races, duh (none / 0) (#133)
by turmeric on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:35:02 PM EST

the european cycling union or whatever banned them in the 30s because the race was won by an amateur on a recumbent: they didnt want to give it to an amateur so they decided to outlaw recumbents . something like that. go google it up.

all the world speed records on bicycles are held by recumbents. maybe the reason you always pass them is because old people with crotch problems and/or alot of money (they are expensive due to lack of volume) ride them.

visibility is a problem. solutions? i can think of several in about five seconds. unfortunately the industry is run by lemmings and morons.

[ Parent ]

Suburbs? Sure. City? No way... (none / 0) (#114)
by cymen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:35:50 PM EST

Recumbants are great for that ride on bike trails out in the suburbs or in the country but take them into a city in bike lanes and you'll quickly realize that the low seating position is a hazard. Being so low makes it harder to see and harder to be seen. Some people put little flags up on the back and that seems to be ok for some stuff but I'd never ride one on Chicago bike lanes on city streets.

[ Parent ]
Good point... (none / 0) (#120)
by cr0sh on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:57:45 AM EST

You make a good point about recumbents being less visible than a regular bicycle due to the low seating position. I have to admit that this worries me about my own vehicle I am building, but I plan to attenuate that as much as possible via using several safety devices (lights, reflectors, paint, and a flag). What is crazy though is that, at least on my vehicle, I will be at the same height as I would be sitting in a typical small car. I think many of the issues people have with bikes (not just recumbents) have to do with inattentive (and possibly non-caring) drivers. Such is our society, sadly.

[ Parent ]
Bicycles on trains (1.00 / 1) (#100)
by phliar on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:31:09 PM EST

Here in San Francisco, bicycles ("push bikes") are allowed on the local suburban trains (BART, Caltrain). I live in the city very close to a BART station. Depending on which site I need to go to, I take BART and then ride the bike 4.5 miles (7 km) to office no. 1, or BART to an intermediate station, take Caltrain, then ride a short distance to office no. 2. If I were to drive, office no. 2 is 30 minutes, compared to 45 minutes on bike/transit; office no. 1 is 1:10 if I drive, or 1:30 on BART/bike. (BART has a restriction that bikes are not allowed at peak times; fine with me since I never wake up that early!)

When I was looking for a place in the city, I made sure to only consider places close to a BART station.

Do other public transit systems allow bicycles on board?

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

In Portland, OR, Yes (none / 0) (#110)
by Chiron on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:03:13 PM EST

In Portland, OR, you must watch a video and take a quick test on how to mount your bicycle on specially designed racks placed at the front of busses, and how to bring them onto light rail. It can be a little tricky to take them onto light rail during rush hour, but otherwise, it works flawlessly.

[ Parent ]
Mopeds are like fat birds: (none / 0) (#127)
by starsky on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:33:57 AM EST

fun to ride till your mates see you...

you are like a drunken wife beater (none / 0) (#132)
by turmeric on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:30:42 PM EST

life of the party, but got kicked out of rehab for beating up a counselor

[ Parent ]
train or bus delays don't bother me (none / 0) (#143)
by danny on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 05:41:23 AM EST

Provided I can get a seat, having to wait for trains - or spending time on them - really doesn't bother me. I can read comfortably on the train; indeed its one of my favorite places to read. But I'm lucky in that my timing (off-peak) and stations mean I hardly ever have a problem finding a seat on trains or stations.

Buses aren't quite so good - I can read comfortably on them, but bus stops don't always have seating.

This is the major reason I don't like driving. It's ok being driven around, since I can read in cars fine, but I can't read while driving myself. And mopeds aren't an improvement here, I'm afraid!

Recommended reading: Which Moped with Chrome-plated Handlebars at the Back of the Yard? (Georges Perec).

Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]

My South American experience (5.00 / 1) (#147)
by frijolito on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 08:00:19 PM EST

Down here, if you try to ride a bike on any motorway, you won't last a week. People everywhere become assholes behind the wheel; the difference here is, total impunity. Drivers get away with murder daily (literally!).

Mopeds: the practical alternative? | 144 comments (133 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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