Archive for October, 2011

Get the F— Out!

October 28, 2011

One of the main reasons why I live in City Heights is because it has a tiny strip of land set aside for children to play.

This is tiny, about half a city block, and it probably serves from four to eight square blocks.

Next to it, is a mammoth soccer field which is so huge that a good portion of it is left idle, like a farmer’s field.

The field is also used by children for recess which is great. I used to play on a concrete parking lot so to see children in the “ghetto” playing on a huge grassy field, makes me smile.

But for the rest of the community with their spontaneous play, there’s only a tiny sliver of concrete. This includes skateboarding, smoking weed, making out, and more.

I can’t over-estimate how cool this tiny pedestrianized area is in San Diego.

For starters, it’s quiet.

A lot of people who come here have a really great time, which is nice, but it puts some kind of rose colored goggles on a person.

If you live here long enough you realize that it’s really LOUD outside. Like everywhere.

This kind of offsets the benefits we have regarding the great weather.

Anyway, this tiny strip of paradise reminds me of the other fantastic neighborhood that I wanted to live in which is Jackson Heights in Queens, NYC.

In both places, there was a good mix of races as well as a generous amount of children playing by themselves which makes for a solid community.

Another place that this strip of paradise reminds me of is The Promenade in Santa Monica.

Overall, the number of people who enjoy this tiny strip of land if much more than the normal streets. It’s totally safe as it has a strong police presence.

For these reasons, I ride through there everyday.

I realize that I am the “old guy.”

Mostly, the children and I ignore one another, though I do smile to myself because I so love to see skateboarding.

The few times I had contact with the kids, it’s been positive.

One time, they saw my basket loaded with beer, and they said, “party at his house.”

I replied, “everyday’s a party at my house.”

The other time, the kids were in my way while I was walking my bicycle, heavily loaded with library books, and I said excuse me to someone in my way.

The other kids said, “Hey! Get out of his way. Show some manners.”

Today, though, I had the best experience ever.

The promenade was so crowded with moms, skaters, skater groupies, and children, that I walked my bicycle.

I realized that there was a car going through the area. Now, I realize that it’s possible for vehicles to go through the area. There are routine police cars and service vehicles which are there on official business.

But this was a civilian car and the skaters were having none of it.

“Get the fuck out of here!” they said.

I was shocked!

They went up to the police and reported the car.

The police said, “We all ready talked with them.”

I was so proud.

One of a sign of a strong community is the willingness of adults who are not the child’s parent to reprimanding these kids.

How strong is a community when the children reprimand non-parent adults?

Advertisements

Segregated Cycling

October 27, 2011

What do you think of when you read the title?

If you are like me, you might think of men in pointy white hats, Jim Crow, and people getting sprayed with hoses in Alabama.

When told that this is a “neutral” term, you might wonder why such a loaded term is being used.

In fact, the word sounds strangely like a weasel word. By weasel word, I mean a word which is chosen, merely for its subjective effect.

Let’s test this.

Do you think the originators of the term “segregated facilities” are in favor of them or against them.

[The right answer is on the bottom–upside down. Turn your monitor over to read the answer.*]

The there’s no better term for bike infrastructure than “segregated”. Right?

Besides, I was told, that this term was used for years by transportation professionals.

My first piece of investigation to where segregated came from is on dictionaries of transportation.

The first one that I found was in
Texas.

According to the Texas Highway Department, “segregated facilities” means…uh, it has no meaning.

That’s right, this “official” term, which was used for years is totally unknown by transportation professionals in Texas.

As much as I love Texas, perhaps that’s just them. Let’s be a bit less provincial.

Here’s an organization which works with the US Transportation Department. Surely they would know what segregated means. Perhaps they would trace its long history and explain how it has nothing to do with Civil Rights.

According to RITA, segregated means nada.

That’s right, if it is an official term, it’s also not defined by some of the biggest transportation dictionaries in the US.

Still, lest we be accused of deliberately finding dictionaries without the term because of our hidden agenda, aka not being a racist asshole, let’s dig more.

Let’s type segregated facilities into google.

Google, being googe, your milage may vary on this search.

For me, number one is racial segregation. Most of us think that’s bad and linking cycling infrastructure with racism is pretty manipulative.

The second term is a wikipedia article we will go in to detail further so we’ll set that aside for now.

Next, I have images of people in the South having to use separate toilets and drinking fountains.

Here I want a cycle track which will be used with all races and here we have images from a sad time in US history.

Next, is an agreement not to perform racist segregation.

Next are laws against racial segregation. Next is a site dealing with the pain of racism.

Later on, we see sexism in segregation of facilities.

Only one article actually talks about this elusive term of
segregated facilities.

Our old friend wikipedia.

There’s a whole neutral article on segregation. Since it’s on wikipedia, it has to be official and neutral, right?

If you look at the other uses of the word segregated on wikpedia, indeed, we have some neutral uses of the term.

All of them are in chemistry or biology where the terms is used where things are separated. The terms seem to be old such as in taxonomy. One thing that all the neutral uses of segregation have in common is that the do NOT REFER TO PEOPLE.

I put that in all caps because, you will see that when people are involved segregation is not neutral.

Racial segregation, residential segregation, and so on.

Since segregated cycling facilities is used with regards to humans, we know this is also meant to be pejoratively.

Thus, the term is only used by those opposed to the facilities. Newcomers to advocacy who are in favor of facilities will sometimes use the term until they are corrected.

However, the discussion over terms sidetracks from real progress towards getting facilities. This is the real purpose of using the term.

I have not finished investigating the wikipedia page which is the only official looking page which mentions segregation and is not about racism. However, I suspect that this page is carefully crafted to look neutral.

Here’s a clue.

The wikipedia page links to the Federal Highway Administration. This is under their terminology section where it claims that “Various guides define the different types of bikeway…”

So I looked on their page to see if segregated was used.

Indeed, the term is used. However, the usage is merely to speak of separating traffic. It’s not used interchangeably with “bicycle infrastructure.”

Thus, this the terminology links are there to imply that segregated is an official term without actually saying so which gives plausible deniablility.

But wait!

Terms change and engineers often use terms that have double means. “Strap on” and “reach around” spring to mind in recent conversations with engineers who’s minds are more innocent than my own.

I also know of the term “slave” used with hard drives. When I first heard it, I thought nothing of it. Once I realized it could be offensive, I started calling the drives primary and secondary, but didn’t raise a fuss when others used it as it is official and meant to be neutral.

When I type the terms into google, though, won’t we see people in shackles as well as guides to cable selection of the master hard drive?

Um, no.

Every single link is of a technical origin which is much different that the findings on a search for segregation.

Thus, I conclude that the term segregated when used for bicycle facilities is deliberately used by opponents of facilities, only, in order to don the mantle of civil rights.

I find this to be highly offensive behavior without any merit (as it’s not even funny!) πŸ™‚

All this research may seem like overkill, but only if one is unaware of the whole mock “freak out”, pretend offense that people take when they are caught at this racist stunt.

Thus, I searched exhaustively to prove that not only is this term used in a bizarre way to inject racism in order to win an argument which is doomed, but also that the people who use it and deny its manipulative origins are liars as well.

=================================

* People who made up the term segregation are opposed to bike facilities.

Licenses To Ride

October 26, 2011

Every now and then, the idea of licensing bicycles comes up.

A lot of people waste a lot of time talking about it, but I don’t think that it will ever happen. This is one of the many reasons that my second super-power, if I could have one, is to be invisible.

My first power would to not want things, and to be equanamous which means, I won’t need to be invisible.

Besides cyclists invisibility in the government due to malignant neglect, there are other reasons why licensing cyclists is a bad idea. The main reason is because it’s a stupid idea.

Still, there are some motorists who say that cyclists should be licensed. The main reasoning seems to be the childist notion that “if I have to do it, they should have to do it.”

I sort of agree, since, I, too am childish.

However, instead of licensing cyclists, I am starting to rethink licensing motorists.

I can hear the outrage now, “But that would be chaos.”

Um, no. Anyone who cycles knows that it’s chaos right now. I don’t see how wasting people’s time guarantees safety.

At best a license means that one passed a shitty test, by the third try, probably a long time ago. Then they immediately forget everything.

If you disagree, quick, recite the page on cycling.

“But without licensing fees, the roads will suck.”

Bzzt. Wrong again. First of all in many areas, the roads all ready suck. Second, automobile related fees pay for HALF of the road costs at best. The rest of the money comes from other taxes which means that those us who don’t drive pay extra for the roads. Not that I’m upset about this, or anything, I’m not a tight fisted libertarian. And yes, you are welcome, and you may keep the change.

“But the point of a license is that we can take it away if the driver does poorly.”

Huh! Really. Because if this were the case, the buses and sidewalks should be way more crowded. Especially in terms of drinking and driving. So many people get away with it. They do it because they have to. If we really wanted to address drinking and driving bars would be in walkable neighborhoods, only. Plus NO PARKING for places that serve liquor. Also, cheap taxis and drunk buses would get people home safely. I always chuckle when some drunk tells me, “be safe”, before they drink and drive. πŸ™‚

Ending drinking and driving is all within our reach. In fact instead of wasting efforts on pointless paperwork like licensing, we should do this.

Still, we do want to prevent certain, incompetent or criminal, people from driving. How to do this?

I suggest a blacklist like a mail filter. Simply put a field in the criminal database for NO MOTORING. The police should be able to check this from their squad cars. No paperwork needed.

The point is, though, there is no check to see if people are licensed so people drive all the time without licenses and only get caught when they wreck. What then? Do we remove their license to punish them. No, they don’t have one to lose, thus the whole license thing is pointless for any kind of screening at all.

“How will we know who people are? Isn’t this a security risk?”

What’s going to happen, now, that didn’t happen before? Did they not have proper IDs in 9/11? So the “safety” of an ID is mainly imaginary. The law enforcement part seems to come as an afterthought.

This will remain a reality until we are all tracked with surgical implants. Trust me, as a lazy person with little notion of disobedience, I pray for the day. As long as they will give me a little bit of convenience such as letting me buy things charged to my account, with no chance of fraud, without hauling around a little plastic card.

“But until this rapture of the lazy geeks, we still need some way of identifying people.”

I guess this is true as long as we are going to put important decisions, such as whether someone gets inebriated, in the hands of random people’s brains and their facial recognition skills of a grainy photograph taken a while ago. Heck, I don’t even have a beard in my license photo so I could be any bald white guy in that photo! πŸ™‚

I don’t mind having an ID, but why must it be tied to a single cram session of a little book on the operations of a vehicle that I don’t spend a lot of time operating? Why not a state ID or even just issue all US citizens passports? That would shut up Europeans who mock us that so few Americans even have passports.

Now we’re all international!

The Third Variety

October 24, 2011

The title of this article is a twist on one of favorite stories.

Long time readers know that the purpose of this blog is to discuss feelings–mine and others–regarding cycling.

Not the physics, gear ratio, nor the law, but rather the feeling one gets when commuter cycling and around the concept.

My latest quest is to generate more empathy on both sides of the windshield.

Last week, I did what I used to fear doing which was to look into the notion of the “elite cyclist”. To summarize, when a motorist says “elite” they mean one of two things.

They usually mean VC cyclist, though they know not what it is. Or they mean someone who is “taking the lane” because there are no other facilities. The later category is not creaming his (yes HIS) pants over mixing with traffic, but rather pretty scared, and if they are aware of history, a bit pissed.

I used to think that “elite” meant the whole notion of well educated, coastal, white people who actually cared for economic justice for the rest of the country. The term “elite” was used to get those people who would benefit the most from economic justice, but were duped by pointless “lifestyle” debates.

I think that this is a mixup.

Anyway, my next stage in getting closer to the windshield (metaphorically) is to realize that there is little known on the driver side of the door about the history VC cycling and infrastructure planning.

I feel that we need to make this more widely known.

This is because the world I have been living in is too much of bubble with the same stuff getting repeated. I’d like to hear some input.

Too often motorists are blamed for poor infrastructure decisions. But are the motorists ever given a chance to discuss this? Perhaps we should listen more to what motorists have to say. Perhaps there should be more back and forth.

I mean to say, instead of VC idiots and brilliant infrastructure planners arguing, we should include motorists.

Too often infrastructurists are accused of being anti-motorist. To the contrary, I want to invite the motorist to the party.

For a motorist to get started in their quest for understanding of the “elites” I suggest that they look into these informative sites:

“Ninth Avenue cycle track in New York City. Photo: Beyond DC

Despite the constant controversy surrounding Forester, one organization that wholeheartedly embraced his ideas was the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. AASHTO’s influential design guide, which serves as the blueprint for most of the nation’s bike infrastructure, echoes many of his arguments about bicycle infrastructure.

The guide, last updated in 1999, recommends strongly against putting separated bike paths near roads for safety reasons, though it doesn’t mention cycle tracks explicitly. And it leaves out many of the more innovative and promising types of infrastructure β€” such as buffered contraflow lanes β€” entirely.”

So if you are a motorist and are pissed and confused at why are there bikes on the road, here’s the start of your answer.

It would be unfair to not allow the great man to respresent himself, so I linked to the place where he keeps his big pile of rope.

He is a kind, affable guy who loves to discuss his reasoning on emails. He recently got a mixte in response to criticism that like the Pope, he wants to make the rules for a game he doesn’t play.

Still, he spent most of his life as a motorist, and he thinks it’s best to create policies that dicourage “incompetent cycling” altogether. Thus, he’d love some emails or phone calls from motorists who think it’s just dandy that they have to swerve to avoid the weekend Lances who are riding 15 MPH in the center of a 55 MPH lane.

Furthermore, like cripples and cretins, the whole VC term has gotten such a bad rap that like a snake shedding its skin, the VC movement is now calling itself savvy

That’s like me calling my riding style “Unparalleled”. Hey, I think I’ll trademark that. πŸ™‚

So I’d like to say to the motorists out there–especially those of you with lots of bile, but not lives–welcome to the discussion. We’d love to be hearing on how much you love the VC, erm, Savvy movement. πŸ™‚

Elitist Cyclists

October 21, 2011

Today, I was thinking of the whole notion of the elitist cyclist.

I think the whole thing is quite funny.

For example, McCain called cycling elitist and he called for defunding of cycling. This is so silly because if you look around you wonder if cycling is funded at all.

It’s as if I were calling you on the phone asking for the check I sent you back. Confused? Because I never did send you any money.

Still, I am having a great deal of fun with the notion that cycling is some how privilidged. I’m really interested in who comes up with this stuff.

I mean, McCain is a white male.

When you think about an elitist, what do you think of? I think of white males.

So a white male is now criticizing white males? That could be cool if were criticizing us for being assholes or something which many of us brats are. On the other hand, riding a bicycle hardly makes me an asshole.

I find it funny that Republicans are trying to stoke the hatred of the upper class and convert it to hatred of cyclists. Then again, Warren Buffet and William Gates III attended my last group ride so who am I to judge.

Perhaps McCain should get his ass on a bike and start networking! πŸ™‚

To look deeper, I went to the source of all transportation knowledge, Tom Vanderbuilt.

He talked a lot about in-group and out-group attitudes which was awesome.

“The dark side of the “cyclist” label is that it becomes a shortcut to social categorization.”

As a Star Wars fan, I always rooted for the “dark side” so I am totally on board with this image.

Also, there are articles like this hate screed.

I totally loved it especially about being a “hazard.” Oh, I’m sorry to be slow and on the road. I guess all slow people should be killed like grandma. Note, the last sentence is sarcasm; I love my and your grandma.

Best line: “I am incredibly tired of cyclists with their holier-than-thou because-I’M-not-polluting attitudes.”

It would suck for a cyclist to have a good feeling about themselves for something that is factually correct.

Also, note that though society embraces the bbf attitude: “blame bicyclists first”, stats show that in the majority of accidents, cyclists were following the law and that motorists were at fault.

Finally, I am going to note that it’s not so much that I feel superior to motorists because I bicycle, but rather I feel superior to nearly every other human on the planet for a myriad of reasons that I don’t want to get into here.

Cycling is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. πŸ™‚

Me Generation

October 20, 2011

Note, though I tried, I couldn’t remotely relate this post to cycling.

Not sorry about this.

Recently, at the library, I bought a book for the dollar. It’s called Generation Me

Don’t let the slutty cover fool you; the rest of the book isn’t titillating.

It is illuminating.

While reading it, I felt like a fish who was made aware of water for the first time. That is, our culture is so permeated with self-centeredness that we don’t even notice it.

Now, whenever I hear myself saying certain phrases, I cringe, such as “whatever makes you happy.”

For a long time, I knew the whole, follow your dreams, pap was overrated, but now I know more about why this is so.

Even the book, _Feeling Good_, as good as it is, in some way falls victim to the whole self-fulfillment problem.

I say it’s a problem because too much emphasis on the self can lead to depression. Just listen to a depressed person talk, everything is about him.

Contrast this to a giving and caring person who doesn’t seem to notice their own problems so much because they are focused on helping others.

Yet, these ideas go unquestioned.

And I see this everywhere. It’s all me, me, me.

I’m totally not above any of this.

Some examples include a time at a Buddhist statue store where the owner was trying to explain the reason that the Chinese had made a certain statue and the girl interrupted with: “it means anything you want it to mean?”

Wow, historical facts are not up to interpretation which always flows through one’s own personal opinion.

At a history teacher meeting (I was there by accident), I heard them call research papers, I-search papers, because the students couldn’t write two sentences, even about the distant past, without filtering it through their own personal life.

I guess this explains why people have such a hard time listening to anything, and they constantly interrupt with irrelevant details about their personal life.

It also explains why people are so eager to spill all their own darkest personal trauma at me which really pisses me off because I’m a super-sensitive person who is easily hurt. Words have a powerful effect on us humans especially those who care.

Everyone I know who teaches college has told me that this generation will tell them, in five minutes or less, their whole biography which often has graphic scenes of childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and emotional pain.

On the other hand, the book acknowledges what we know: the sky is not falling. Today is better than yesterday. Interracial marriage is accepted which was thought disgusting by most not too long ago. There are more opportunities for women and racial minorities than ever.

People do matter, and they should be allowed to express themselves.

However, people should care more about how others view them, and they should present themselves as best as possible while still being honest.

Some ideas are dumb like the biggest lie: “You create your own reality.”

Overall, this book is excellent so far, and I am going to try to meet the author as she lives in San Diego.

Feeling Good About Cycling

October 19, 2011

I know I mentioned the wonderful book _Feeling Good_, and I’ll mention it again because I read a page or two daily to keep the brain gremlins away.

On page 43, there’s a great gem: a list of mental distortions.

Since my mind is distorted with bizzaro ideas from Ye Olde England and Lime Copse, here’s my take:

1. All or nothing thinking:

Either bike infrastructure is totally safe in every way or it is a “liability” that ought not to be built.

2. Overgeneralization:

Once upon a time, motorists, understandably annoyed with racers fooling around in their roads while they tried to rush all their wives to give birth, designed a bike path to make traffic move faster. Now all bike path planners are “anti-cyclist” trying to force us off the road.

3. Disqualifying the postitive:

Despite the safety rating of infra-structure heavy cities as being three times San Diego, we still don’t want infra-structure because–[fill in the blanks. I’m not going to do this all myself, people.]

4. Binocular trick:

Each time a VC rider gets rear-ended on a VC road, that’s a fluke or due to his own mistake (microscope).

At the same time, each time someone scrapes a knee on a bike path or bumps a pedestrian, we declare the bike path to be a HAZARD to be avoided. (Telescope).

5. Should statements:

These result in guilt, anger, frustration, and resentment: a whole grab bag of good will!

These include statements such as ought:

A cyclist ought to wear a helmet.

And should:

Cyclists should ride on the right side of the road. They should also dress like the love child of a canary and a number 5 highlighter.

6. Labeling:

You are an incompetent cyclist. You are an unthinking cyclist. You are superstitious.

7. Personalization: You see yourself as responsible for events that you are not responsible for:

You’re riding on OUR bike paths.

The take home message is that mental distortions are easy to do and lots of fun.

The challenge for you is to do as many as possible at a single time.

Collect them all!

Note Dr. Burns is NOT paying me to promote his book, but I wish he was!

Cycling Guilt

October 17, 2011

Regular cyclists may be able to relate to this bizarre problem: we can’t really talk too much about cycling to non-cycling friends.

Aside from the notion of trying to avoid topics that my listeners can’t relate to, I also try to avoid talking about cycling because many of my motorist friends have this guilty look on their face.

Ug, it’s a conversation, not a guilt trip.

What’s worse is that often people ask me how the cycling is.

The only worse thing than talking to non-cyclists about cycling is talking to actual cyclists about cycling.

We have all read the same books such as _Traffic_ by Tom Vanderbuilt, so there’s nothing new to be said unless you do tons of research like my princess. πŸ™‚

However, there is on crowd pleaser and that’s VC cyclists.

I never get sick of the look of doubt, surprise, then horror when I relate the damage to cycling that VC Quislings have done to San Diego and beyond.

Despite the fact that most of us know that we live in a representative republic, most people don’t realize the huge relationship there is between the most vocal advocates and our built environment.

Most people seem to think that the city is a static thing which was built a long time ago by more intelligent aliens and that it will never change again.

The reality is that the environment is an ever shifting, ever plastic thing, and we all have far more control over it than we believe.

I think that we don’t like to admit this because doing so makes us more responsible to how things are going now, and that’s scary for most.

Are All Those Extra Pounds Putting You At Risk For Diabetes?

October 12, 2011

I got the subject line as an email today, and I was thinking, “Is my health insurance company calling me a fatass?”

Not that it bothers me. For mergegue, you need some kind of ass for your information Kaiser. Also, who the F would name their insurance company after the German leader who lead the country to total failure in WWI, the factor which lead up to Hitler.

I can see the ads now, “We’re not Hitler, we’re the dude before him!” πŸ™‚

This leads me to the actual point of this post which is one of the biggest negative and wrong stereotypes about cyclists is that they lack a sense of humor.

Sure, there are tons of humorless assholes in our world, but they are there to MAKE FUN OF. πŸ™‚

I know what you are thinking, and you are wrong: Why do they not laugh at my jokes.

If it’s the joke that I call the ONE JOKE then the reason is because it’s more stale than Red Skelton. We’ve heard it.

Also, because it’s doesn’t follow proper humor protocol. Jay Leno once said that he wants nothing to do with humor that mocks the poor and powerless because why kick someone when they are down? He is aware the the notion of “superiority” based humor, but he is above that kind of lame ass stuff.

Just think, who’s funner Ann Coulter and Rush Limbagh or every other comedian on the planet. Most of us like the later especially cyclists.

So if you are going to tell a joke, make it really original.

Can you mock cyclists? I don’t know, can you make fun of your own sister? What about other people making fun of her?

The fact is that I love cycling humor so much, that I think that a cycling humor blog is one of the funniest blogs ever.

So please, please, mock and tease me. I love the attention. Just put a little effort and originality into the jokes.

Mean Streets Page

October 11, 2011

As you probably know, complete streets passed a few years ago.

However, cyclists realize that stats and standards which have been created by motorists do not make truly “complete streets”. I mean these are the people who’s transportation system kills more people than any other means of getting around. Heck, they kill more Americans than terrorists and wars combined!

Thus, we need some better standard to what a complete street really is. Something softer and more human is in order.

I’m currently working on a page about mean streets. I’m going to make it a page and not a post because I need something a bit more permanant, and yet something that will be updated just like my badass Quisling page is.

Today, I started myComplete streets page.

Ultimately, there are going to be at least two broad categories:

1. Things in instrinsic to the street

2. Cyclists reaction to #1

For now, I’m going to just list everything:

1. Do not need to wear flashing lights nor yellow vests to be safe. πŸ™‚

2. Do not need to “sprint”, EVER, to feel safe. You can go at your own speed and feel fine. For me this is sub-eight miles an hour.

3. Feel OK about having a 7 year old to ride with you.

I’m sure that there are many other ideas, but I’m a bit bored of this now so I’ll come back to it later.