Archive for July, 2012

Mindfulness Cycling 1/14

July 31, 2012

Mindfulness Cycling 1/14

This is part one of a series that I will never complete as I don’t really like to finish these things. Plus there’s some trainings that are really tough for me so I ignore them like the one about TV and alcohol which Buddha would tell me were my refuge because they are.

http://deerparkmonastery.org/mindfulness-practice/the-fourteen-mindfulness-trainings

Still, this material is very powerful to me and helpful while I ride so I thought I’d share how I connect Buddhism to cycling.

The First Mindfulness Training: Openness

Note that I am really open when it comes to learning new things about cycling and when I am actually cycling.

Otherwise, I am becoming more and more close minded when it comes to dealing with fanatics because the in those situations, the open-minded person always loses. I can’t sit there passively accepting all their nonsense without doing some research on my own. Also, I won’t submit to so-called “experts” views especially if they can’t spell xpert. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, here’s some text:

“Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones.”

I take this to mean that I need to be open to cycling in any condition. Any unhelpful phrase regarding cycling should be ignored.

“It’s too hot/cold to cycle.”

“I need a fancy bike path before I can bike to work.”

“Bike paths are death traps and I can’t ride in them.”

“Blah, blah, blah.”

I jump on my bicycle in any conditions and ride. If I can’t get there by bicycle, I usually don’t go.

Also, the statement means that sometimes I have to just let things go even if I think that it’s the wrong view.

On the road, I have to keep in mind that I might be wrong about my “rights” or “right of way”. Kindness is more important to me than rights.

Here’s some more gold:

“We understand that fanaticism in its many forms is the result of perceiving things in a dualistic and discriminative manner.”

I have noticed that this is really true. There are many other ways that we get confused and misperceive things. I think that too many abstractions hurt one’s understanding as well as deleting information from our mind’s that we don’t like. Finally, there are many ways to distort reality in our mind’s.

Thus, I try to see things as they are. Where do people bicycle and why? When people tell me things, I try to take them as they are without making up unnecessary stories about what they say.

Needless to say, I’m not bound by any of this at all as I’m not actually a Buddhist. But these things do make me happier and they make the day go nicer so I love to read and think about them especially while cycling.

What is NEC?

July 30, 2012

NEC is a word that I just made up.

It stands for Net Expenditure per Citizen for transporation.

What?

For too long, we have been playing the Penny Wise Game (penny wise, pound foolish for those who need it).

This means that we are asking the wrong questions over, and over again.

Can we afford a bike lane? Can we afford a bullet train. And so on.

Each “alternative” aka more efficient and fun form of trasporation needs to crawl through glass just to get considered for funding while we always have another trillion dollars or two for more roads that we won’t be able to pay for.

There has to be a better way.

There is, and it’s called NEC. Basically, this means that we need to look at the average of what everyone will spend on transporation. We need to account for ALL modes and ALL costs. Price each parking lot, for example. Currently, San Diego doesn’t even _know_ how many spots that they own.

Then we can figure out how much each transporation project is going to save us. That’s right, save, not cost.

For example, we might pay a bit more for a good bus service, but now they don’t have to build a parking spot for me, and I don’t need to own and operate an auto. Plus, we don’t build that extra travel lane. Ultimately, with increased taxes, even, my net costs go down.

But you can’t do just you which is why it’s an AVERAGE.

So we have each person, selishly, and foolishly only thinking of what they will pay for transporation NOW. They discount things that they think are free like parking and their sunk cost of buying a car.

This is bad math.

No wonder our city budget is so messed up if we can’t even do proper counting of basic things.

Until we get a better hold on the NEC for the city NOW, it’s foolish to even talk about spending a single cent on any more lanes or parking spots.

Jump on the (Rad) Wagon for Good Critiques

July 26, 2012

Finally, we get a great critique of cycling infrastructure!

For years, I have felt that the microscopic views of VC advocates could be a tremendous asset to making cycling infrastructure better and safer.

But instead of focusing on ridability of the infrastructure we get bizarre reading of laws and standards as well as fear-mongering which is intended to squash infrastructure all together.

This has polarised the community and put the pro-infrastructure camp on edge because any small problem we have with infrastructure will be seized upon the the VC camp and used to squash it all together.

This means that we have to swallow shit “improvements” like sharrows.

No longer. Rad Wagon has tossed down the gauntlet in a well written post. I’d like to see much more quality critiques like this which includes highly inexpensive and super-simple solutions.

Thanks for making the point that infrastructure itself is a good idea, but it’s usually done half-assed in the US.

The way out is better infrastructure. But thanks to our neighbourhood Quislings, we are about thirty years behind with shit infrastructure to fulfilled the self-fulfilling prophesies of doom.

Hi Johns.

Orlando Sentinal: Yellow Journalism

July 23, 2012

Once again, a head nod to Ted for writing my blog for me:

http://bikinginla.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/fontana-bolo-alert-memorial-services-for-veluz-abraham-and-yet-another-pro-rider-lets-us-down/

Every time a “journalist” sits down to write about cycling, uniformed garbage comes out of his word processor:

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-07-18/opinion/os-ed-highway-cyclists-071812-20120717_1_bike-friendly-cycling-bike-paths-and-lanes

If you hate bikes, that’s fine. I can live with that.

But why do you have to spew stupid, uninformed rants?

Here’s my favorite quote:

“We encourage bike-friendly communities and back bike paths and lanes. But, to paraphrase MetroPlanner Bob Dallari, we’re not willing to spend outrageous sums to build death traps.”

What?

Almost every road in Orlando is too big and thus overpriced.

They are all death traps as Orlando is the deadliest city when it comes to cycling.

So they shouldn’t build any roads at all, I guess according to this mindless drivel.

It gets worse.

They want to enforce the ban on cycling on the freeways!

What?

And do what? Build cycle tracks?

They are talking about a million dollars. They don’t seem to say how much freeway this is going to be, but they call it a “pretty penny”? Really? Compared with what?

Did they actually like at how microscopically small the amount is when it compares to building roads for cars.

It’s a little insulting and petty to OK billions for making the roads more dangerous for cycling and then bitch and moan about a few crumbs falling from the budgetary table.

Like I wrote about before, I rode on the freeway WITHOUT SPECIAL ROAD TREATMENTS and it was fine. At night. It felt safer then the shroads that I was forced on, previously, because the quiet roads are all selfish cul-de-sacs.

If they put a million bucks on the 15 freeway, I’d take it, daily to work. I’d get to work faster. The only down side is less hills.

Scofflaw Cyclists: A Non-Existent Problem?

July 20, 2012

OK, LIKE BEFORE, I FOLLOW ALL TRAFFIC LAWS ON MY BICYCLE AND I RECOMMEND IT (but only on this blog).

However, I do not think that scofflaw cyclists is a significant problem.

Are they annoying? Yes, they are an annoyance, but not a problem. Like flies (in the US)–they are a problem in other countries, true. Sure a fly kills a person or two in the US, but overall, they are minor nuisance. Very, very annoying, but something that need to be swatted on an individual basis, in most cases.

If fact, we know that the whole phrase scofflaw cyclist is biased, and it’s there for an anti-cycling agenda.

Normal and sane advocates want us all to behave better so that we increase happiness, courtesy, and decrease collisions especially harmful ones.

Targeting a specific group which causes a lesser amount of harm is a total waste of resources.

Like I said before, if you mess up on a bicycle, you very well may get the death penalty. While this is true with motoring, the danger is much more apparent on a bicycle which in my opinion is a good thing. Getting comfortable causes one to take more risks.

So before we burn millions more public dollars at the altar of the few people who have an unbalanced hatred of cyclists, let’s rather focus on bigger problems.

If we are to ban one class of vehicles from the roads, I vote for larger trucks because they kill the most number of people.

This notion is called triage where we deal with the bigger and easier problems.

Once we have roadway deaths down to a dozen or so, we can focus on those evil scofflaws that kill a pedestrian two if we are unlucky.

Anti-Helmet Advocacy: What it is and What is not

July 19, 2012

LTRs know that I am anti-helmet. That strikes many people as strange. It should not. Here’s an FAQ.

1. It is NOT telling people what to do.

If you want to wear a helmet, I will not tell you not to wear one. I might mock you, though.

2. It is NOT putting people at greater risk.

This is because people all ready know to wear a helmet. This information has been around ever since we got the technology to make helmets that were light enough to be useless. That’s right, in many cases, riding with helmets is useless. If helmet advocates really walked their walk, they’d advocate for better standards for helmets rather than telling people what they all ready know.

Also, some people take more chances when wearing helmets. I do. Also, motorists give less space to helmeted riders which raises the question “do helmets actually increase some risks of cycling and put riders at risk.”

I don’t really know the answers to those questions. Nobody does. Unlike those who tell everyone to wear a helmet, it’s safe for me to admit ignorance. If helmets are proven safer, great, wear one. I still won’t.

Most pro-helmet people won’t even CONSIDER that helmets could be more risky. The fact that helmets are safer is taken on faith alone.

3. It is NOT equivalent to arguing against seat belts.

People feel safe inside a car even without a seatbelt. They feel in danger on a bicycle even with a helmet.

But there’s more!

People choose to drive a car because they feel that they have to. Making then take a few minor, extra steps is no big deal for mode share.

On the other hand, riding a bicycle is seen as something dangerous and freakish. Anything that makes it even more alienating from something normal will make it less popular.

Since cycling is beneficial, taking a benefit away hurts people’s health more than the imaginary, yet to be established, benefits of wearing a helmet.

4. Advocating for helmets is NOT something cycling advocates should do.

This was probably addressed above, but I’ll re-iterate.

Yes, we should try to make cycling conditions safer, but there has never been a successful campaign in favor of cycling that rested messing up your hair as a main benefit to cycling.

Helmet advocates over estimate the risk for head injury that cycling has and they have convinced an entire generation or two that cycling is “taking your life in your own hands.”

The fact that you need protective equipment to do it makes it look very foolish.

Making an activity look dangerous and foolish is not a way to advocate for cycling.

If you get more people to cycle, like I said, they’ll wear helmets IF THEY WANT TO. BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP PREACHING TO PEOPLE WHO ALL READY KNOW BETTER.

We all know that not wearing a helmet makes us an organ donor. But did you know that wearing a helmet makes you look like a dork?

I’d rather get cut up for spare parts right now than spend the rest of my life cowering beneath a useless piece of plastic that anti-cyclists have convinced me to wear to make motorists feel better about themselves.

Brilliant Flying Pigeon on Privitization

July 18, 2012

I so loved this post:

http://flyingpigeon-la.com/2012/07/privatize-this/

It’s been saying what I have been trying to say, but better.

“Yet cycling in particular is the most efficient of all transport modes: not just because it uses less energy per passenger-mile than even walking does, but because it takes up so little space, and requires so little capital investment in general, that providing for mobility through cycling is the cheapest of all the ways you can spend tax money on transport.”

Compare and contrast to this drivel:

“The vestiges of whatโ€™s to come are seen through (non)organizations like Anonymous, licensed driverless cars, and cyborgs in the Olympics; but we are just at the tip of the iceberg.
It seems like everyone who’s not a “bike nut” really does not promote cycling at all even if they are green or futuristic.”

I think that’s because bicycling is not sexy.

In one sense, cyclists, once cleaned up, are sexier. However, I mean that the whole idea of cycling is so old and obvious that most people don’t see it as something that they need to talk about. It’s “old news” in our news cycle.

So instead of a simple bicycle, they are wasting money on “driverless cars”.

The future is here and the answers are obvious, and I think that makes things no fun which is why there’s not more talk of cycling as transportation.

Another Study Shows that Bike Lanes are Safe

July 17, 2012

http://journals.lww.com/jtrauma/Abstract/2012/02000/A_comparative_study_of_bike_lane_injuries.20.aspx

We know that we can’t judge anything by a single study.

However, this study suggests that bike lanes are NOT super dangerous like the VC crowd says. Bike lanes do get more people biking and despite the fact that more “fearful” people are riding bikes, they are not getting any more hurt than those who are timid and do not “assert their right to the road.”

Thus, there is a justification for more bike lanes.

Additionally, the higher traffic flow that some VC people claim that bike lanes cause did not seem to cause more injuries.

Injuries due to getting hit by a car are higher and I did not see any incidence of fatalities. It’s a known fact that in many cities the fatalities are much higher on the roadway than on sidewalks, bike lanes, and the shoulder combined.

Finally, the door zone, which seems like an added risk did not seem to injure cyclists more than them being rear ended.

Guest Post: Personal Responsibility

July 16, 2012

More and more often, I see people make similar posts to my own thoughts. Many of them write them down differently or even better than I do:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/15319/a-major-ntsb-safety-recommendation-remains-forgotten/#comment-147190

The law needs is a little personal responsibility. Once people are made responsible for the damage they do, most of them will start being careful. I will never understand why crashing into someone’s car isn’t treated the same as bashing it with a baseball bat or why injuring someone in a car accident isn’t treated the same as injuring them in a bar fight.

In this day and age, there are few acceptable excuses for getting in an accident. 1. Unexpected equipment failure. 2. Act of nature. That’s it. That’s the list. Every other accident someone is at fault, often both. Once you get behind the wheel, you are operating a dangerous piece of machinery. (Unless, of course, you did not intentionally get behind the wheel…) Drivers ought to accept that responsibility for what it is.

If the law were updated in this way, we wouldn’t need to micromanage all of these different laws that vary from state to state depending on whether you are drunk, stoned, on the phone, texting, using an earpiece, not using an earpiece, doing your nails, reading the newspaper, or whatever other excuses/reasons for driving badly people have. There is precedent for this. If an infant drowns in a bathtub or a kid shoots someone with a gun, the parents are criminally responsible.

by movement

(Thanks movement!)

Also, there’s a really nice response to this:

@movement
I will never understand why crashing into someone’s car isn’t treated the same as bashing it with a baseball bat or why injuring someone in a car accident isn’t treated the same as injuring them in a bar fight.

Because we have built a society in which cars are “absolutely necessary” so we think we can’t punish people by taking away their ability to drive as that means they can’t do anything (get to work, go to the store, etc.) Also, since we’re so car-centric, deaths are seen as an unfortunate but necessary consequence, and are also often blamed on the deceased (e.g. if a pedestrian is killed they shouldn’t have been in the way; they are different and abnormal because they’re not driving so they are to blame).

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/15319/a-major-ntsb-safety-recommendation-remains-forgotten/#comment-147211

by MLD

(Thanks MLD!)

Violation! Selective Microscope

July 13, 2012

More on the POS Orlando paper. See older posts for details.

Here’s a quote:

“Those who cycle on the roadway and obey the rules of the road are involved in a very small
percentage of all crashes.
Of 657 daytime crashes, only 8.4% (55) involved sober cyclists who were traveling on the roadway and
were confirmed as obeying the rules of the road (6.2% of all 885 crashes). Only 15 of these (2.3% of daytime
and 1.7% of all crashes) involved overtaking motorists. Two of the 15 resulted in incapacitating injuries.
Of 196 night-time crashes, only 8.2% (16) involved sober cyclists who were traveling on the roadway and
were confirmed as obeying the rules of the road. Of these, only three were confirmed as being equipped with
lights.”

Note that this is meaningless data.

As VCers are quick to point out this kind of data is misleading because we don’t know how many people ride VC.

I say that pretty much nobody does this dangerous, confrontational, and idiotic activity.

I know this because I don’t see anyone doing this. I wave to every cyclist. It’s a red letter day when I see someone riding VC.

Today, I did see someone riding VC, a twelve year old in a semi-pedestrianized area next to the school that I live by. She looked about twelve or so. No helmet so VIOLATION! Also, she had a toddler on her top tube so VIOLATION. ๐Ÿ™‚

Seriously, why the double standard on not having the denominator for these studies? Why post data at all if it’s meaningless?

Oh, that’s right, they ALWAYS post data when it proves their point. The microscope only comes out when they disagree. Note that this is normal human behavior. I do it to. I see myself doing it!

One more thing. While looking at this table, I see that only four out of seventeen cyclists died in bike lanes, sidewalks AND shoulders combined. The vast majority of cyclists died in the roadway (11/17). Thus, this data speaks volumes on how riding in the roadway is deadly. We can talk about alcohol and lights till we’re blue, but the point is that not riding in the roadway is the most reliable way to mitigate this obvious danger.