Archive for June, 2012

VC Doctors and a Danish Hospital

June 29, 2012

First of all, I’d like to point out, for the thick, that I’m going to use some metaphors in this post. Metaphors are where you compare things that are not the same as if they were. So I don’t want any more complaints (yes, this happened to me) that “hospitals” have nothing to do with “cycle tracks”.

No shit. That’s why it’s a metaphor.

If they were related then it would be a comparison.

Anyway, when talking to VC people, I imagine talking about a hospital instead of cycle tracks to a VC person.

Me: Hey, they have this new stuff, antibiotics, that cures lots of infetions in the Netherlands! We should use it here.

VC: But this is San Diego, not Amsterdam. It won’t work here.

Me: Why not?

VC: Because it’s not San Diego.

Me: Let’s just try and see. If it really fails, we’ll stop using it.

VC: OK, but first we must make sure that it’s safe.

Me: They said that it is, though occasionally someone has an allergic reaction. But people here are dying in droves of infections and they are all cured over there.

VC: OK, it’s NOT safe! If a single person has a single problem then it’s not safe.

Me: Um…

VC: Plus, what if the reason for the Danish success is that they are racial different?

Me: Dutch?

VC: What?

Me: You said Danish, aka Denmark. I am talking about the Dutch aka Netherlands.

VC: Don’t nitpick me!

Me: The point is that this stuff is really great and we should try is on some patients.

VC: But it’s expensive!

Me: We have people who are willing to pay right now to try it.

VC: But it’s not part of US standard practice.

Me: That standard was made before we discovered antibiotics. Plus the standard says nothing that contra-indicates antibiotics so let’s try it.

VC: But if we use it, it might become popular then we could never get rid of it.

Me: Um, send it back to the Netherlands? They said that they would take it back. Plus purchasing said that they could get a full refund in 24 hours.

VC: I have heard that a lot of people want to try antibiotics. Seems like a popularity contest to me.

Me: Right. It’s popular and it works. Here’s a paper that proves it.

VC: There’s a comma splice here?

Me: WHAT?!?

VC: I found a single mistake here. Because there’s a single mistake in this study, I will reject the entire thing.

Me: There’s lots more data.

VC: Like this one, which shows that 99% of people will DIE if they get near an antibiotic. We must keep this disease out of here.

Me: But it was written by Dr. Trees, who invented blood letting. If we use antibiotics, we won’t have blood letting anymore. So it’s a conflict of interest.

VC: Exactly!

Me: Huh?!

VC: If we have antibiotics, we won’t have blood letting. Blood letting kills the weak which is great. Only the strong survive. If we have antibiotics, then “incompetent patients” will survive. That’s not what you want is it?

Me: Yes, that’s exactly what I want.

VC: Plus, if we start curing people, we’ll have more people coming to the hospital. We don’t want that, do we?

Me: If they are sick, yes, they should come to the hospital.

VC: Yes, they will come here where they will die!

Me: Um, only if you didn’t blood let them! That’s what’s killing people. Antibiotics will save them so we can send them home.

VC: Prove it.

Me: Here’s a few studies.

VC: Missing a period, scale on graph is not 100%, and there’s no abstract. I must reject each and every paper on the grounds that they don’t meet my standards.

Me: What are your standards for selecting data?

VC: I can’t tell you.

Me: Why?

VC: Because I’m an expert.

Me: Experts are trained by other experts who write their knowledge in a book in a systematic way.

VC: Blood letting experts don’t. I have a BLD: blood letting degree. I’m an expert.

Me: That’s not even a reliable certification. Mr. Trees made up his own paper degree and now he acts like he’s a real doctor.

VC: Don’t insult the experts. Are you some kind of troll?

Me: No! God, I forgot why I am even here. Do you remember.

VC: No.

(If this argument went in circles for decades this might actually resemble how it feels to debate VCers on infrastructure.)


The Traffic Genie I

June 28, 2012

Before we have this post, I’d like to link to a amazing list of all the objections and their answers (Thanks Ted).

This is the most comprehensive list of answersw to motorist’s objections to cycling I ever saw.

Here’s the thought experiment. Answers are based upon the most common things that I have personally heard online.

Imagine there is a Traffic Genie in front of you. He is offering you three wishes for the future of transportation. What do you choose?

“All cyclists follow all traffic laws and to ride on the sidewalk.”

** Ting **

Your wish is granted.

I predict that this is going to very little impact on traffic because most of it is based upon the mass of ALL THE CARS ON THE ROAD. But hey, it’s not my wish.

Also, now we won’t have to hear any more whining from motorists any more about how they hate cyclists because they are FOLLOWING ALL YOUR RULES. Thus, cyclists have the moral high ground.

Every single time a cyclists is hit by a car, we know with 100% certainty that the cyclist did NOT make a mistake.

On the other hand, most cyclists deaths recently have been by cyclists who have been riding legally, so this isn’t going to be silver bullet to make things safer for cyclists. I think that things will not change for safety much. On the other hand, cycling on the sidewalk is far slower so commute times will go up. Many cyclists will quit so that traffic will actually increase, but only slightly so nobody will notice.

In fact, no motorist will notice cyclists at all so they will stop whining about them or thinking about them. In a year, the most rabid anti-cyclists will be back to their baseline happiness.

On the other hand, pedestrians are even more fed up. They wish that cyclists get into the streets (too bad, peddy, no wish for you!) 🙂

Overall, not much will change at all.

Good job wasting a wish.

Next luck next time.

What is a Troll

June 27, 2012

I have noticed that in my VC debates on VC blogs as well as via email, eventually, they call me a troll.

This happens when I get them cornered and tied up in their own illogic. Instead of realizing that I’m actually more intelligent and less “fearful” (though I do like to be pampered so if this == fearful, bring on the fear).

Anyway, when I feel that when I am personally attacked, such as being called a troll, I have won the debate and should move on.

However, I wondered if I were a troll, really.

In one definition you could make a case that I am (though you can make a case for anything).

I am passionate and outspoken about what I believe in, and I write in an emotional manner.

However, this gave me pause:

“Trolls aspire to violence, to the level of trouble they can cause in an environment. They want it to kick off. They want to promote antipathetic emotions of disgust and outrage, which morbidly gives them a sense of pleasure.”


I am not violent nor do I want outrage. I mainly want to be understood, which to me is the opposite of a troll because we are the types who can get suckered into a troll trap.

I think that the term troll should be reserved for those who ask questions or make remarks that they don’t actually believe in. They do this to get an emotional reaction.

I don’t do this.

I write about what I believe in only. This is normally called speaking one’s mind.

But I guess VC sites don’t want a diversity of opinions which is funny because they often go to other sites and whine about not being allowed to speak their minds.

I am on the other hand, have many, many unanswered questions.

Usually these questions are the ones that get me called a troll.

So on one hand, I am not going to be a mouth piece for an ideology that I disagree with.

On the other hand, I am open to honest questions about my views. I think that they make one stronger and smarter in the long run.

Whole Lotta Crashin’ Going On

June 26, 2012

LTRs can skip this one.

OK, here we go again.

One thing that keeps coming up over and over and over again is “taking the lane” or Savvy Cycling or whatever name they are calling it tis week is safer than cycling infrastructure.

We get lots and lots of studies and graphs and so on.

However, what we don’t get is a good study.

Here’s an example of how to conduct a good study:

Now this is a Five Minute Google BlogTM, not a well research one.

So we’ll just skim through this.

The way to tell if VC is safer than a bicycle lane is to get half the population WHO ALL READY WANTS TO RIDE VC to ride on the bike lane and the other half to ride VC. Then we need to get half the population who NEVER WANTS TO RIDE VC to actually ride VC and the other half to ride in their bike lane.

The lanes have to be on comparable streets.

Note that this experiment is impossible.

All the studies on bike safety are based upon incomplete data.


That’s right, we just don’t have a big enough N to say anything with such scanty data.

There are 196,165,666 motorists in the US (

If each person drove for 2 hours a day there would be about 400 million hours of exposure a day. Multiply this by 365 and you get a really huge number.

But there are about 5.5 million collisions in the US per year. Which makes the chance per motorist per year to be about 1/40.

That’s all collisions combined.

That’s pretty huge. Not too risky due to safer cars.

However, there are still half a million serious brain injuries a year in motoring. (

So motoring, while seen as safe, if pretty rough as a whole.


This is the crux of the debate.

We have no good data, but we have circumstantial evidence that getting hit by a car is likely to hurt or kill you.


Again, we have no studies to prove things one way or another so I suggest that we forget real safety until we have more evidence to worry about it.

Riding on the road is obviously not safe, but we can’t perform a super duper rigorous study to prove it. There are a lot of things in life that are unsafe, and we can’t prove all of them, but we don’t do them anyway. How many double blind jumping off high buildings studies do we need to prove it’s not recommended?

The point is that there is zero evidence that prove that well designed, connected, tested, and coherent infrastructure poses a public safety risk and those who say this are lying through their teeth.

Let’s collect better data, but let’s not lie and say things that we can’t prove.

SEC: Efficiency II

June 25, 2012

OK, when I meant efficiency, as part of safety and comfort in transportation, I meant efficiency in government spending.

Again, efficiency means what we get for what we spend.

Thus, cycling is energy efficient.

However, I feel that when done right, it’s also government spending efficient.

This is because cycling infrastructure costs much less than what would be done by motoring. It’s only when the two costs are combined which assumes that we’ll all ride bicycles AND drive everywhere at the same time does the spending look a bit high.

Still, spending on motoring is higher and thus, we should question whether we do it at all in some places. Of course, we’ll need to build fire roads, but smaller fire trucks, are also more cost efficient so we should scale back for this.

I suggest mandating that a complete network for cycling and walking be put into place first then have the roads work around that. With these modes prioritized, we should see a cost savings of at least ten times.

That money can go back as a tax break.

Furthermore, I feel that if we have separate cycling infrastructure, cycling would take less time. Plus, if we had the freeway grade of only a few percent, there would be no hills and cycling would be even faster and easier. Again, this is far less than the freeway system and would literally cost pennies on the dollar.

It’s not that I don’t want the motoring stuff to be built, I just feel that motorists have not made a case for each and every road, but rather they are built automatically as a given while those who walk and cycle are forced to walk around them and to beg for money that should have been spent on them from the beginning if the politicians and government really cared about saving money at all.

Finally, places where bicycles are popular are packed with people while places where motoring is preferred, you can hardly find anyone around. Plus there’s the wasted space for the parking lots and freeways where we could have been building businesses and homes which could be taxed instead of the permanent government liability we have in maintaining the roads.

Also, I’d argue that any safety improvements such as guard rails should work in the favor of all modes rather than just make motoring safer. Otherwise, people will just drive faster and get into the same number of collisions, but cycling and walking will be less safe.

Finally, separate infrastructure for each mode will ensure the least number of collisions and when there are collisions they will be less harmful especially for the non-motorized users.

Are All Motorists Responsible for Drag Racing?

June 22, 2012

Note that this is a rhetorical question. I’d never blame the many for the actions of the few. In fact, many would find this question to be biased and insulted.

Those many would be right.

“Illegal street racing continues to advance in popularity, especially among young male adults. Nationally and internationally, illegal street racing is claiming hundreds of lives and injuring thousands annually.”

These events did not have any police involvement. They were done solely for the enjoyment of those involved.

As a result, did the motor vehicle industry get a black eye? Were the newspaper editorials threatening the lives of random soccer moms who “took their life into their own hands” by motoring?

No, no, no.

Did the motoring community, as a whole come out against drag racing? Were random motorists asked about NASCAR? Did the motoring community set up special voluntary classes, in addition to driver’s ed, which are voluntary to teach lawful motoring?

No, no, no.

The motoring community was largely silent about this. I didn’t get any personal apologies for this nor did any motorist dissociate herself from this rabble. Nor were they forced to defend their mode of transportation against critics.

No newspapers called for the government banning or cracking down on legal motorists in retaliation for drag racing.

This shows a clear bias against cycling.

Search and replace, above with critical mass and look at the media response to it.

One might argue that this is because cycling is “impractical” but it depends upon what you want to practice.

I don’t have a time machine, but I argue had the government, over the last few decades, spent .6 trillion USD on cycling, we would not have to contend with knuckle heads in the media.

Note, that drag racing kills HUNDREDS. This is from a pro-racing site. How many people did CM kill?

So let’s be polite. Let’s not break any laws. But let’s keep our responses in proportion to the damage that they do.

SEC: Efficiency I

June 21, 2012

Before I post this, I just have to write more about the recent SF: pedestrian/cyclist collision which resulted in a pedestrian death.

First of all, I do hope that they do pursue this, but the ultimate result of his guilt is up to the courts, so I won’t presume either way. I did not, personally, like the initial tone of his post about the collision, of course.

Also, here’s the voice of reason on this whole thing:

This is supposed to be the final article on this notion.

To recap, when asked what I want for cycling to be improved, I mention SEC: safety, efficiency, and comfort.

Efficiency means many, many things.

First let’s talk about what efficiency is not.

Many people use efficiency to mean faster. If you want to say faster, just say it.

Any time there’s efficiency, there’s a division problem.

When people use efficiency to say faster, they really mean more distance covered per unit of time.

In this sense, motoring is the most efficient way to get around.


In dense cities such as Philadelphia, motoring is sometimes the slowest way to get around.

Of course, they can widen the roads and build more parking. Or they could just gut the whole city and destroy all the things that made it special and relocate the Liberty Bell on top of a drive thru taco shack.

But this would be inefficient in so many other ways such as space and cost.

Thus, to me, to say a mode of transportation is efficient, it’s really a combination of categories that we should consider.

Cycling loses in most of these cases. However, LTRs know that since this site is cycling hagiography, the bike always wins.

Thus, I’d say that cycling hits the sweet spot for all the efficiency categories.

In fact, if you exclude cycling, it almost seems like the system has a conservation of efficiency.

That is, walking is the most efficient in terms of cost and space, but it’s much slower than motoring.

A bicycle seems to defy these categories by being number two.

Cycling is almost as space efficient as walking, but not quite. It’s almost as inexpensive as walking. And its’ almost as fast as motoring.

When you factor in the fun, cool, and health benefits, I think that cycling wins hands down.

Of course, cars are the coolest mode. Who got laid in the back of a bicycle.

On the other hand, bicyclists bodies are the sexiest of the three at least by modern western ideals. So while you might want to lose it in the back of a truck, who wants to do it with a guy who sat behind the wheel, on his ass all days while sucking down Liberty Bell tacos?

But by efficiency for this post, I meant something quite different.

(To be continued.)

SEC: Safety

June 20, 2012

Long time readers (LTRs) should be bored so you can skip this one if you are a LTR.

I have posted before that I don’t care about safety.

This isn’t totally true.

I hate _feeling_ unsafe.

As far as “being” unsafe, it’s kind of hard to know when this is really objectively true especially when we have debates as to whether it would be safer to ride on a totally protected bike path which has no motoring traffic anywhere near it or whether it’s safer to mix it up as I pedal along at eight miles per hour as trucks road by me at fifty plus.

No, if the latter is safety, then I don’t give a shit about safety at all.

I do want to feel that I am protected by the government which has “vowed to protect us”:

“Bush told a southwestern Michigan audience of nearly 2,500 — the largest he has addressed in the United States since leaving the White House in January — that, after the September 11 attacks, “I vowed to take whatever steps that were necessary to protect you.””

Senator Obama applauded the decision and said the following:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision ensures that we can protect our nation and bring terrorists to justice, while also protecting our core values.”

For me, the biggest threat to my personal safety are automobiles, which is why Obama has outlawed them as part of his socialist agenda.

Oops, he wants to build more!

“The study helps explain the impasse in Washington as President Barack Obama calls for transportation investments: Many lawmakers agree on the need for more highway spending but are averse to taking politically risky steps to raise funding.”

At any rate. If these dangerous roads are being built, I suggest we build some infrastructure to make things safer.

Thus, when say safety, I mean infrastructure, NOT segregation.
Or as I like to say: physical safety improvements to the road.

Anything that gets us off the road is good even bike paths which are actually safer than the travel lane.

So sharrows are kind of pointless. Plus they look stupid anyway.

I don’t really care about education or “enforcement”. What do you think it will take for the cops to actually care about cyclist’s deaths? I suggest taking their cars away and forcing them to ride, for an hour and a half each day in plain clothes. Nothing less will work.

So I think that the best way is to build roads so safely that people can text while they drive all day and be totally stupid otherwise.

Oh, by objective safety, I mean that we can do some studies to get some real data on how safe things really are. I am 100% confident that most infrastructure will be found to be safer than any other method of making things safer and more cost effective. This is objective safety.

No class (to my knowledge) nor any increase in police enforcement budget has been show to increase road safety at all. If it has, I’m open to seeing a peer reviewed study that shows this.

“A 1985 US study showed that about 34% of serious crashes had contributing factors related to the roadway or its environment. Most of these crashes also involved a human factor.[6] The road or environmental factor was either noted as making a significant contribution to the circumstances of the crash, or did not allow room to recover. In these circumstances it is frequently the driver who is blamed rather than the road; those reporting the accident have a tendency to overlook the human factors involved, such as the subtleties of design and maintenance that a driver could fail to observe or inadequately compensate for.”

This is why I despise the useless term “counter-measure”. This assumes that we are some how gods who have total control over our environment.

This is nonsense. I all ready ride as safely as possible, but I still find that I am afraid and annoyed far more than I’d like to be.

Finally, by subjective safety, I refer to whether or nor someone will let their toddler learn to ride on that road. If a toddler can’t ride on it then the road is not safe.

End of story.

Empty PSAs Do Nothing to Promote Safety

June 19, 2012

OK, another repeat, but Unbound is fired up.

Recently, princess sent me a story which I had read in print a long time ago:

I had read the story, but never really thought about the implications.

Now, we are here again.

First all caps for the skimmers (you know who you are) 🙂


This holds for many things.

Texting and driving is bad, but cell phone bans in cars do not reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths from car accidents.



Yes, advertising can work, but putting out an advert is a lame proxy for real change.

Here, I am treating PSAs and more “enforcement” of new laws together.

For helmets, it’s the same thing.

Yes, the guy got injuried badly. Would a helmet have helped? Probably, but we can’t be sure because we can’t run reality backwards. There are cases where helmets make things worse.

However, there’s still the problem of getting him to wear a helmet. Did someone tell him to wear a helmet every in his life? Probably.


Did he wear one? No.

Thus, I’m just saying that it’s probably a waste of effort to promote helmets.

I’m not saying NOT to wear a helmet. I try not to boss other people around (unless they are experts without an ‘E’). Also, the Unbound lawyer told me NOT to tell people to not wear helmets. Just kidding, I make up my own laws as I go along.

Promoting helmets is bad because it makes cycling seem dangerous and it robs people of the benefits. The helmet message has been put out there loud and clear so everyone knows that wearing a helmet is similar to eating kale: it flushes out toxins.

So promoting helmets does not work.

It hurts cycling, which is why so many anti-cyclists are eager to pass helmet laws.

It makes cycling seem more dangeous than it is.

Cycling ALONE, is many, many, many times safer than motoring. Only when we are forced to mix with cars does it get deadly. Wearing a helmet does NOTHING to solve this problem, and it gives a false sense of security.

Helmets encourage closer passing by cars and they definitely encourage dickish and sometimes deadly behavior by cyclists.

Here’s an example of the latter:

“The quote/unquote ‘scene of the crime’ was that intersection right by the landmark Castro Theatre – it leads from a really busy MUNI station to that little plaza where The Naked Guy always hangs out. It was commuter hour and it was crowded as all getup. I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.”

To put this in plain English, he was riding much too fast down a a hill (something I never do because I don’t wear a helmet).

Then he deliberately plowed into pedestrians. Again, I’d never do this because I am a human with feelings for others. But also because I’d probably fall off my bike and hit my head which is exposed.

Guess what happened?

“I don’t remember the next five minutes but when I came to, I was in a neck brace being loaded into an ambulance. I remember seeing a RIVER of blood on the asphalt, but it wasn’t mine. Apparently I hit a 71-year old male pedestrian and he ended up in the ICU with pretty serious head injuries. I really hope he ends up OK.”

Yes, this asshole hit someone and he could have broken his neck. Why no neck protection, helmet people?

“In closing, I want to dedicate this story to my late helmet. She died in heroic fashion today as my head slammed into the tarmac. Like the Secret Service would do for a president, she took some serious pavement today, cracking through-and-through in five places and getting completely mauled by the ragged asphalt. May she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider can live on and ride on. Can I get an amen?


“The moral of this little story is: WYFH”

Several members of the newsgroup took issue with the lesson Bucchere claims to have learned : WYFH, or “Wear Your Fucking Helmet.”

See how proud he was of his helmet? He thought he’d be fine no matter what (even though I know that’s not true).

Who can argue, after that, that the helmet did not play a role in his aggressive cycling?

How about changing our tune to “As cyclists, voluntarily, yield to and respect others. The street is NOT a race track. Pedestrians are friends and not obstacles. You should ride where you feel in control at all times. Whether or not you wear a helmet, you should ride, in the streets, where you take no excessive risk to yourself or others.”

There’s a time and place for risk taking. I ALWAYS wear a helmet when I skateboard. I find that a helmet makes me push myself to take more risks.


So the moral is, I don’t care if you wear a helmet or not, but don’t tell other people what to do.

Let’s stop saying WYFH and start saying, “be kind.”

64 Ounces of Freedom

June 17, 2012

I love the recent move in New York City to attempt to ban extra large sodas.

I know that many people are very, very afraid for their freedom, but I think that it’s silly to worry about a big gulp.

Worse, I feel that the urge to cry out for freedom is a wrong, and in this day and age ignorant.

Science has research how our minds work, and it has discovered that things are not always as they appear.

Thus, we have the older, crusty ideology which bemoans a loss of freedom, is really a false belief in free will.

On the contrary, if you read such books as _You Are Not So Smart_, you’ll realize that we are not the rational robots that we believe we are. Not only that but to make a decision at your arm chair is much different than making a decision in a store.

Yes, that’s right, you can make all the perfect decisions at home, but this all goes out the window when you are actually faced with an extra large soda.

Here’s an article showing how this is also true in other fields such as economics:

Unethical companies, who care very little about real American freedom, have figured this out and exploited this loop hole in human psychology to trick us into doing things that we don’t want to do.

If being manipulated against our will is “freedom” then yes this law impinges on our freedom.

However, I believe that this law makes us more free because it helps us to make better health and financial decisions.

But what about the “Nanny State”.

That phrase is stupid and not useful.

But I’ll address this.

Basically, everyone in the entire political spectrum believes that the government must protect us from terrorists.

A trillion dollars later a handful of arrests, we are really, really safe from a tiny number of bad men who manage to knock off some Americans each year.

However, the real killers such as diabetes are killing us in vast numbers.

Thus, the debate is not about the government protecting us, but rather WHO the government protects.

At this point in time, we are spending more effort and money protecting non-living things that living things.

Soft drink companies aren’t alive and thus do not deserve a government protected right to exploit us in order to get us to do things against our will such as suck on shit food all day. This is especially true with artificial things such as soda which nature gives us less protection from than regular food. This is because we are not evolved to control our calorie input from liquid food only from solid food. Again, this is some basic, well known research that the Nanny State Whiners are totally ignorant of.

VC mentality is the same way.

On paper, we can learn all the right moves to ride our bicycles. Similarly, motorists can learn how to do a better job at not killing us.

But when the time comes, we will make the wrong moves. Over and over again.

It’s no use judging us because you are no smarter than the rest of us. We’re all fallible.

Fortunately, we have an arm chair and science to help us deal with our fallibilities. We can get together to create something bigger than ourselves as we can’t do it all on our own.

This something is called the US government. It protects us from terrorists and from soft drink companies.

More information on this concept can be found in _The Art of Choosing_:

And I find it strange that people like Fox News are not investigated, like left wing groups are, for their ties to anti-American propadanda such as the phrase “Nanny State” which is full of vile hatred towards two things we know and love, the government and our maternal protectors.

But I guess it’s more fun to throw mom under the bus instead of realizing, at our arm chair, that if we really, really want to excercise our right to give ourselves diabetes and the years of hassle and suffering that entails, we can buy two smaller sodas and suck them both down.