Archive for February, 2012

Sidewalk Riding Redux

February 29, 2012
Take the (bike) lane!!

Take the (bike) lane!!

I found I have been doing a lot more sidewalk riding lately.

The main reason is stress.

In accordance with popular belief, riding with traffic, even in a shoulder is stressful especially when you see above where there is a blind curve.

Note how if I had been “taking the lane”, I’d be just another statistics. Shit, this truck didn’t even give any space to the bike lane. I guess he thought he was in a bicycle?

Anyway, at this point, there’s nobody on the sidewalk. In fact, I’m highly confused as to why there’s a sidewalk here at all. But whatever, I’m riding on it daily now.

I also ride on it by the school which is right in front of my house. This is because motorists who are driving though the school zone are totally distracted. It’s a wonder that they don’t run down a child (perhaps their own) due to their really shitty driving.

Yes, there are those motorists who do yield and yield. That’s great; let’s protect the kids. But who speeds through a school zone?

We need to step up the child molester people pressure on these people because they literally kill more people than child rapists. Why isn’t this frowned upon more?

Child murders were 978 (under 16 years old) in 2008:

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/law_enforcement_courts_prisons/crimes_and_crime_rates.html

While there were 1,045 (under 13 years old) in 2008 who were pointlessly killed in motor vehicle accidents:

http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality_facts_2008/children.html

Oh, I follow a few rules while riding on the sidewalk?

1. Stop at every driveway and intersection and LOOK.

2. Dismount whenever there’s a pedestrian and until I can pass. Give her lots of room and don’t expect a thanks. Pedestrians belong on the sidewalk, and they deserve respect and the right of way.

Overall, I’m now, proudly, a sidewalk cyclist, and I feel much, much safer and less stressed for it.

Cycling and the Sexes

February 29, 2012

I am reading an excellent book called _The Gender Delusion_ about how our modern “science” is continuing sex based stereotypes based on shitty research models.

People! Graphs and stats don’t prove anything if your experimental setup is biased.

How many ways can you lie with science?

Many ways!

I know the food blog has nothing to do with this post except that this is one of my favorite blog entries of all times.

There are other ways of fooling ourselves while pretending to be objective.

One is a moving set of “standards”.

I have noticed that this is true with my old friends, the VCers arguments.

So this is true all over the place.

In _Delusions of Gender_, they talk about how interviewers, when given identical resumes would pick the one with more education when the male resume had more education. When the female had more education, they would pick the male anyway due to his “real world experience”.

Thus, no matter what, a man gets picked, and we stick to objective “standards”.

We can apply this to cycling advocacy.

In advocacy, if someone brings up stadards, we need to make sure that they make sense. For me, the only three standards for government bicycle policy are safety, efficiency (for motorists AND cyclists), and comfort (for cyclists).

Also, if the standards are abstract and can’t be seen, touched, tasted, smelled, or heard, then beware. And if you can’t boil it down for a nine year old, beware.

While thinking of one’s sex, and cycling, I was thinking of the old chestnut, “why don’t more women ride in the US.”

Based on my prior post on safety, I actually think that the question should be, “Why do men ride at all?”

That’s not a sign of health for cycling.

But things are getting better! I can feel it happening…

Jewel in the Ass

February 28, 2012

First, I’m going to link to a brilliant article which asks “What do you really want?”

http://progressivetransit.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/what-the-hell-do-you-actually-want/

I so love this because it addresses the question beyond the smaller thinking that got us into our transportation mess in the first place.

By “mess”, I mean a system where people are dissatisfied in some way, and where they feel that a few small band-aids and their lives will be perfect.

For example, building a single more lane on the freeway to eliminate a bottle neck on their commute. Or in my case to build a cycle track from my job to my home.

Overall, this approach is doomed to fail because a great city is planned with all modes of transportation taken into account and a lot more factors.

This leads me to this article:

http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/opinion/slop/article_f22ad0a8-fd9e-11df-a6d6-001cc4c002e0.html

The thing I noticed occurring over and over in this article is where people called Balboa Park “San Diego’s Jewel”.

While I do agree that it’s quite beautiful from afar, it’s scale makes me feel quite small.

Also, and I know that this won’t go over well with most, but to a cyclist, the park is just a huge pain in the ass not unlike an airport.

Most parks give you paths to ride through, but Balboa Park has none. In fact, it’s iconic bridge, El Prado, really sucks for cycling. Every time I ride through there, I wind up getting really pissed off because the motorists will tail gate you, buzz you, and act as total assholes just so they can break the traffic laws.

Yes, pretty much everyone who takes that bridge breaks at least one traffic law because the speed limit is 15 MPH, and I can ride faster than 15 MPH on that bridge. So why are people trying to pass me?

I don’t really mind the motorists breaking the law, I try to mind my own business, but they really annoy me. Also, I really hate the hypocritical whining about “scofflaw cyclists.” If you want to see the other end of that stick, ride your bike on El Prado.

So what do I want?

I’d really like to see some cycling freeways which cut through some obvious places like Balboa Park. Then maybe it will be a jewel and not some massive road block that puts me out of my way each time I’d like to ride cross town that way.

If we can drop an entire freeway through a park as well as paving enough of it over to do Walmart proud, while still painting the whole thing green on tourist maps, a few dedicated cycling paths will not further mar the “Jewel’s” good looks.

Bye Dear Friend

February 27, 2012

I feel as if I have lost a very good friend.

The Hembrow blog was the BEST bicycle blog ever. I am not exaggerating when say this. Thus, it was a very gray day, indeed when he decided to pull the plug.

Did he have a right to do this?

Yes.

Am I happy with his decision?

Not at all.

I am one of the bloggers he spoke of. I did not take any images from his blog, but I did link to him every chance I got.

I don’t think that he should spend unpain hours on something that he feels is getting ripped off, but I do wish that he would decide, on his own, to put his old blog back as a reference.

Now, I have the beginnings of some brilliant ideas with dead links to hembrow.eu!

Well, what can you do, I don’t feel like he reads my blog, and I do want to leave the poor person alone, but I am sad with his decision and I wish he’d reconsider.

Oh, and if he’d just package his whole blog as a book, I’d buy it and flog it on my own blog.

Super Thought

February 24, 2012

And the victories continue to pile up in the cycling world.

It seems that if one person can mess things up for a long time, a lone person can fix things!

Let’s pray that these easy victories continue!

But there’s a catch to all this success, and it starts with “What’s next?”

That is, once we vanquish all our enemies and uncork the dam which has held back all of our cycling money for so many years what do we do with our time.

The answer is, of course, “Ride our bicycles on the shiny new SAFE, convenient, and efficient infrastructure.”

Sure, but in between then, what?

The answer is probably that we need to be really innovative. That is the traffic engineers are going to have a chance, finally, to innovate.

Talk to any engineer about designing new things, and her eyes will light up! Let’s go crazy designing things.

Thus, in the Unbound household, we have a saying that “the best infrastructure has not yet been built.”

We have not even seen it yet.

This reminds me of a great quote from the fantastic book _The Art of Choosing_.

http://www.europeanfinancialreview.com/?p=1320

A jazz player was talking about improvisation in jazz.

He said,

“You need to have some restrictions in jazz. Anyone can improvise with no restrictions, but that’s not jazz. Jazz always has some restrictions. Otherwise it might sound like noise.” The ability to improvise, he said, comes from fundamental knowledge, and this knowledge “limits the choices you can make and will make. Knowledge is always important where there’s a choice.” The resulting action is based on informed intuition, or as he calls it, “super-thought.” In jazz, super-thought goes beyond determining the “right” answer: It allows one to see new possibilities where others see only more of the same, and to construct the rare “useful combination.”

I think that the traffic engineers know the rules, but they are too restricted, right now, by people who want them to play only folk ballads. They are not free to write the symphonies that they desire.

People are too busy, right now, worrying about the “right answer” rather than working on the more “rare useful combination.”

But we will get there with my super hero kicking total ass.

We know what’s in our way.

We know how to eliminate it.

And we have all ready decided what we are going to do next!

Barbaric Colosseum

February 22, 2012

http://news.discovery.com/human/humans-not-nasty-behavior-120220.html

“De Waal showed the audience videos from laboratories revealing the dramatic emotional distress of a monkey denied a treat that another monkey received; and of a rat giving up chocolate in order to help another rat escape from a trap.”

Which raises the question, why are motorists so mean?

Why do they view it as a hardship to give up a tiny bit of space to save some human lives? Why do so many motorists harass women? When was the last time did someone say, as a human, God damnit, I will not tolerate this abuse from my group, motorists?

We just let the anger and hate fester. Why?

Why are so many cycling advocates nasty?

I have the answer!

Or rather an answer.

To me, it’s like a 1970’s sci-fi horror flick where humans are captured by aliens and forced to fight one another for their own amusement.

If they do not select a weapon, an automobile, they will be immediately killed. If they do select a weapon, they will be forced to kill, and yet they still risk being killed, too.

This is how are roads are designed.

And yet when people talk about motoring, they talk about how annoying cyclists, humans who choose to be unarmed, are. They also whine about how to store their lethal weapons aka parking.

That’s it!

The are totally and completely submissive to the aliens who laugh at our every move! “Well that’s how things are, what do you expect?”

I expect to be harassed and tortured by humans, who are by their nature kind, but now they are forced to act in an inhuman manner.

What Truly Makes a Successful City?

February 21, 2012

http://rustwire.com/2012/02/14/an-illustrated-history-of-clevelands-varied-attempts-at-rebranding/

Having been asked this: “I don’t know what Cleveland could brand itself as, actually.”

Here’s my response:

As a long term resident of two cities, I feel that if a city wants to “brand itself”, I, as a citizen of that city are fucked.

I prefer cities to be run by people who have read Jane Jacobs and other books which tell how to make a world class city.

A city is made of things and people, but the things are made by people.

Therefore, if you have a city w/ great architecture and a great football team, but the ppl suck, the city is fucked.

If you have a city w/ great people and shitty architecture and NO football, you will soon have a great city.

The number of people, initially, it takes to transform a city is very, very small. But they have to have the freedom to act.

Most cities, IMHO, in the US at least, are run by suburban developers and other types of old money who’s families ran the cities into the ground b/c they don’t care to make a good city and would not know a good idea if it hit them in the face.

These ppl are the major obstacle to any positive change as are the ppl who are so stupid that they think that “branding” will make a city great.

It won’t.

The only thing that makes cities great are great ppl who have a coherent vision and who apply solid design principles to the city.

And yes, that includes cycling. 🙂

Cycling in the US Is Incredibly Successful and Popular

February 15, 2012

I know that with a pitiful mode share this sounds absurd, but cycling, is actually pretty successful all things considered.

Take for example, how much money is spent on motoring. I don’t feel like going to google.com this morning, but it’s a lot. In fact, it’s pretty much all our money.

And the vast majority of people motor. Wow, isn’t that a shocker? The government spends a lot of money on something and business bend over backwards to make something easy and convenient and people do it.

Plus, there are so, so many car commercials. Watch TV for an hour, on any station and count them. Then look at the number of pro-walking, transit, or cycling commercials.

So the whole idea of “we can’t build for cycling because nobody does it” goes out the window, doesn’t it. The proper way to say it is, despite the complete neglect of public money and in advertising, we still have around 1% mode share in US cities. For a country of 300 million, 1% is a great deal, indeed.

Let’s add to that the number of movies that ridicule cycling. How many are these? Think of any movie that has cycling in it. In fact, there are so many movies that mock cyclists that to make a character look lame, goofy, and unsexy all you need to do is to show him riding a bicycle.

And women never ride bicycles except to make them look weak and vulnerable.

There are exceptions, of course, but they are rare. In many movies, motoring is seen as a short hand for a success. In many movies, the previous bicycling or public transit rider is seen driving off into the sun set in a nice fancy motor car.

And after all this abuse, and lack of funding, we STILL, STILL have 1%. I wonder how many people would drive cars if they had to pay all the costs and risk being mocked? Few could actually afford it. And very few wish to risk being a social pariah.

But there’s more. Let’s add the death penalty for it! True that cycling, while more dangerous than motoring, is not nearly as deadly as the public thinks.

But thoughts are powerful.

Thus, there’s the association between cycling and risk taking, death. How many times have you had a nice bicycle ride, and you were buttonholed and forced to listen to a story about someone like you who was killed for riding a bicycle.

Oh, we don’t call it murder when someone is too neglectful to look out of their shiny windshield, we call it an oopsie. An accident. Someone’s life is just a blip on our radar.

And we STILL have 1%.

Despite being not funded at all, ridiculed, and even made to feel like it’s OK to kill us, as a joke, hee-hee, or because we “deserve” it, we STILL have 1%.

Why is that?

Mainly because cycling is awesome.

There’s no other possible explanation. Cycling is really, really fun. It’s really compelling.

Not even the fear of death nor a bankrupt funding system nor all the movies in Hollywood and their billion dollar spin machine can keep us off our spin machines.

I love cycling, and I am very proud to be part of the 1%.

When I ride a bicycle, I feel very sexy, and I’m very popular. I have a real job that’s successful.

I see no need to “upgrade” to a motorcycle, or anything else except, perhaps a wheelchair when I get too old.

I am very happy to cycle, and I feel like I am a normal person.

Why can’t other people see this?

Product Placement: Das Pitlock for Wheel Protection

February 14, 2012

This is a response to all the problems with bicycle theft.

One of the most confounding things about bicycle theft is that while we can easily lock up our frames using a U-lock, but we can still get many of our components stolen.

One of the most common things to lose is a wheel.

When I lived in Philly, I actually carried around two U-locks so that I could lock the frame and front wheel to a post and the backwheel to the bicycle.

One of the best things about this is the peace of mind that such a simple practice gave me.

Still, however, I had trouble when my princess would ride with me. We’d try to figure out all sorts of ways to make three U-locks work. This was a huge hassle. Plus carrying two U-locks is even more of a pain in the ass than carrying one.

One easy hack to make the problem less likely is to get rid of the crazy quick release levers. I rarely failed to have the tool to take my wheel off anyway so I never saw any convenience from this. Also, this was pretty stressful as I feared getting my wheels stolen. Thus, a normal bolt is a bit better, but not great. A non-standard bolt such as a hex or even more exotic is probably all you need except for the most effective thieves.

However, finding such bolts and tools was more trouble than I expected.

Enter PitlockTM.

They make bolts and skewers especially for different makes of wheels. Thus, you can be sure that you get the proper size for your bicycle rather than having a nasty hack on your hands.

The way that it works is that there are over 200 machine made nuts which are then matched with a custom nut. You get two nuts per pack. Even better, you can order the same nuts for yourself and loved ones so that you don’t need to keep duplicate tools all over the place.

The custom nut is protected by a stainless steel sheath. This has to be seen to be believed.

I have had many people tell me that this is not as effective as I thought, but I don’t buy it.

One guy told me that a pipe wrench would get the nut off. False because the outer sheath does not turn at all.

Another advantage is that I can just lock up my wheel to a post if I have to.

Pitlock costs over a hundred dollars, but I think that it’s worth it. The high price discourages thieves from buying all the nuts and using them.

I am not even afraid of Pitlock becoming popular. I think that if it does, bicycle thieves would move on to something easier to steal–and more lucrative.

I am not on Pitlock’s payroll, but I wish I were because I love their product so much.

I can picture the commercial now. A thief tries all kinds of tools to take off a wheel and fails each time. In the end, he takes off his black, mugger’s cap and stomps on it. A German voice over says “Das Pitlock” really fast while the logo splashes on the bottom of the screen.

Oh, Pitlock, I love thee! 🙂

Don’t Lock Up the Children

February 11, 2012

I saw this post about a girl who got hit by a car, and many of the comments were directed at the girl’s parents.

What morons! The blaming bicyclists (and their parents) first (BBF) angers me so much.

I think that it’s totally realistic to have a world that is relatively safe for children.

I am getting really tired of the notion that to keep children safe, we must imprison them.

Childless by choice, I usually don’t think of children too much.

But since moving to the Heights, in San Diego, I noticed a LOT of children playing safely around my neighborhood, and it started me wondering where all the children are.

For example, in North Park, do you see children playing?

Finally, yesterday, I did. I rode right by it until princess pointed out that behind a giant fence, fit for a prison, children were playing.

Besides the anti-social practice of shutting down several streets in order to plonk a school there, I abhor the idea that our society is so terrible that we need to lock up our children.

I know the whole danger of sexual predators, blah, blah, blah, but I think that perhaps there’s a better way.

I think about in older and wiser societies where all the adults in the community keep their eyes on the local children so that nobody hurts them.

In the skating slab where I ride my bicycle through as a peaceful shortcut from cars, there are always adults watching from afar. This is good.

What’s not good is the idea that a child is only safe behind a fence. That they can’t be out of sight from their parent’s eyes for an instant.

I believe that children are far more intelligent than are given credit. I think that there is far less sexual predators than we are led to believe.

In fact, the biggest danger to children’s lives is car accidents. This is where the kids sit INSIDE the cars. Where’s the outrage for that? How come they NEVER play scary music and show automobiles? How come parents are encouraged to drive their children to school when the school bus is the safest way to get there?

This is because while fear is a useful emotion, it’s not always the best way to make decisions.

We can’t tell stories of a single child who got hurt while making decisions on how to make children the safest. We must look at ALL the children got hurt and HOW they got hurt.

If we are so crazy paranoid about hurting our kids, why don’t we ban ALL motoring now?

If I mentioned other activities that had a fraction of the danger, we’d ban them immediately such as cycling. We’d have police officers harassing parents who let their child cycle instead of making the route safe for them to cycle.

I’ll wrap up by saying that making our kids “safe” by locking them up is not free. It takes a HUGE toll. I was pretty messed up by my own parents by being denied the right to leave my lawn for years.

While the other children played outside and socialized, I was stuck inside studying. I cried a lot and I’m still sad about it.

I recall the one glorious summer, I stayed with my Aunt in Atlanta and she allowed my cousin and I to ride the metro to get to day camp. It was so liberating!

We can’t deny our children the right to cycle. There are many other things that are totally killing our kids like obesity and diabetes. Jail time is not the answer.

Let’s tear down the fences around the schools and build bridges with adults who care about the children’s REAL safety and not some bullshit, TSA-style facade where we continue to cart around over weight kids in big cars and then watch them die when the Escalade rolls over because mom was texting.