Archive for September, 2012

Mindfulness Cycling 5/14

September 27, 2012

Finally, a topic that a cyclist can sink her teeth into!

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

“Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and compassion, we are determined not to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying…”

Hmmm, I actually disagree with this.

While I do think that charity is important and that one should help others and not let wealth make one arrogant, I don’t know if this is a healthy attitude towards money.

One of the many gifts that my princess gave me was a more realistic view of money.

Money is power, and it’s necessary to making good changes. To say that money is dirty is to say that power is dirty and the will to change things is dirty which means that we’ll all be passive and let greedy assholes run the world.

Not a good idea!

Better to accumulate money and power through ethical means and use these things to help others.

Let’s continue:

“…nor to take as the aim of our life fame, power, wealth, or sensual pleasure, which can bring much suffering and despair.”

Yes! This is true. Although I am a hedonist (hi sensual pleasure, how I love thee), I do realize that this is limited which is why I am trying to meditate harder than ever. That is I want to meditate harder, I’m doing so-so.

Next up:

“…We are committed not to gamble or to use alcohol, drugs…”

OK, here it’s a total loss for me. I’ll admit it. I like these things. Do they interfere with my practice! Yes. More on this later, I don’t want to turn this post into an AA meeting. Overall, though I do think that drugs can be a positive or a negative experience. If I had more commitment, I’d not use them. I don’t.

On the other hand, I don’t do guilt so I’m happy like I am.

“…or any other products which bring toxins into our own and the collective body and consciousness such as certain websites, electronic games, music, TV programs, films, magazines, books and conversations.”

Don’t want to turn this into a confessional, but guilty of all these things. I like gossip and dirt. They make me superficially happy.

“We will consume in a way that preserves compassion, wellbeing, and joy in our bodies and consciousness and in the collective body and consciousness of our families, our society, and the earth.” [The End]

What!?

No mention of bicycles!

So disappointed. I think I whined about this before, the lame ass denial that Buddhists have regarding transportation.

If you are not going to kill ants and to give up alcohol due to compassion why pollute the atmosphere and kill animals via road kill?

I like meditation, but I can’t take Buddhist teachers seriously until they get on a bike. Otherwise, any talk of mindfulness or compassion is totally rubbish.

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Mindfulness Cycling 4/14

September 26, 2012

Lately, I feel that there has been too much anger and divisiveness. This is probably only in my mind, but it’s something that I have been feeling.

Perhaps some of it stems from the misuse of a Dalai Lama quote to advocate against safety improvements for cyclists.

Seriously, I’m not making this up.

“Geez. I could’ve saved myself a lot of work and just quoted the Dalai Lama.

‘When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.'”

I really wanted to respond to this, but I have held myself back for many reasons, but overall, I would like to see more peace and joy and less nonsense.

Or it could have been increased verbal attacks on cyclists by motorists who would like cycling to be made as dangerous as possible by the state then to argue that we all have a “choice” to cycle. Ug.

Or even the retarded notion that I am supposed to say “freedom” instead of “choice” because the anti-abortion but pro-cycling people will be offended. Double Ug.

So I continue my attempt to get all Fourteen Mindfulness Verses and relate them to cycling.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Awareness of Suffering

This one is really hard for me because I think that suffering really sucks, and it’s hard for me to “come home to it” as this verse asks.

My usual pain since having a dream SO, dream job, and living in my dream location has been boredom. This is kind of lame, but most of my life’s suffering has been really lame–I never really suffered. This actually makes things worse because it makes me feel guilty for feeling bad about nothing.

This boredom and success lead to my mid-life crisis (MLC). I think tha this is because I had spent my whole life fighting the world, and once things became perfect, it was too much to bear. I had to create some problems for myself.

The worst time I had was when I had to stop meditating as a form of refuge–or escape from suffering. This was due to the mania of having too much joy and bliss. I knew that I was set to fall, but I chose to continue anyway.

Other mediators told me to cultivate equanimity, but I failed at this despite my (feeble) attempts.

Thus my main refuge now is television, alcohol and physical pleasure (hello surfing and cycling). On the other hand, I know that meditation has to be a part of my life.

On the plus side, my princess has read my mind, and freed me from pain, mainly by listening deeply to me and by being there for me as a stable rock that I know will be there for me.

Cycling is the kind of thing that I do so much that I don’t think much of it, but when I think about not having it in my life, that is a sort of suffering.

All the other stuff has been self-created, and I fixed most of it with time and _Feeling Good_.

I have come to the conclusion that the main meditation that I’m going to work on for the next year is Loving Kindness, which I blogged about earlier. This is helping a great deal. Also, what helps is working on my novel which is really total self-indulgence.

At this point, my main source of sorrow and rage is the anti-cycling nonsense which I probably should not read, but I seem to have some kind of fatal attraction to that.

Fortunately (or perhaps the opposite) everyone currently left in my life is very pro-cycling.

Anyway, this was fun but difficult to write about.

This is a huge topic, so there will be much more, hopefully stuff that’s less personal and more useful to the general readers.

24 Hour Fitness Joke (Not!)

September 25, 2012

Before I start, I’ll make this clear that I LOVE riding outside, and subjectively, I have no problems with my commute; it’s a daily joy to me. However, I’m not the only person in the world and thus this post.

Besides the motorist’s one joke, there’s another joke that’s really stale and even less funny because it’s not true.

That’s the one about where I bike past 24 Hour Fitness each day, and there’s all these people who drive so they can ride the excercise bikes inside.

Why not ride a bike, it’s the same thing but better.

Haha!

No it’s not.

Here’s the Bizarro 24 Hour Fitness aka the indoor version of riding on the streets for excercise.

We have the same excercise bikes, but we’re going to take away the TV and music.

OK, that’s not so bad, but we’re going to yell at each person who tries to listen to his own music for “putting his life in his own hands.”

Not only does our friend get shamed for listening to some music–a harmless thing to do–but we’re going to play an endless stream of annoying motor sounds.

Next we’re going to pump the whole room full of noxious smoke.

Finally, every now and then–not too often, but just enough to have fun–we’re going to shoot a cycling customer in the face.

And best of all, if the customer lives to complain, we’ll blame him.

Shouldn’t have rode the excercise bikes!

And that my friend is the difference between riding in a comfortable and quiet car to sweat on an excercise bike and the version where you get out there on the streets.

I prefer to ride to work but it’s NOT the same, and I do not mock those for riding excercise bikes. (I do mock the customers for many other things, though.) 😛

Annoying Cyclists or Local Fusspotism?

September 23, 2012

LTRs know that one the passions that this blog has is digging deep into the psyches of other people to learn what makes them tick.

In this case, we are going to cover those people who are annoyed at cyclists and who point out that cyclists do some pretty annoying things…

…or do they?

Instead of the whole he said/she said nonsense, I have developed an objective test to see if that local cyclist is really “the biggest danger on the road” or if the problem is all in the wanna be victim’s head.

1. How did the cyclist behavior hurt you?

Did she put you in the hospital? Did she kill you? In a worse case scenerio are the two likely? Did she waste your time? If so, how much?

All the adults out there on the road know to expect routine delays which is why this blog suggest that everyone leave a little early to accont for motoring traffic (which wastes 99% of cyclist’s, pedestrian’s, and motorist’s time), cyclists “getting in the way” (far less than 1% of time wasted, but 99% of the time people spend complaining), and even a pedestrian trying to cross the street without “taking her life in her own hands.” (sic)

If the cyclist’s behavior did not put you at risk, did not waste considerable amounts of your time, and did not, in any other way, put you out, kindly STFU. That cyclist is NOT the biggest danger on the road, and it’s bette to be silent than a hystrionic liar.

If your argument is that YOU could have somehow hurt the cyclist, how is it her fault that you put her in danger? Would you feel different if it were a relative of yours with dementia who wandered in your way? If not you’re pretty psycho and there’s no basis for understanding between us. If so, then realize that you need to be ready to stop at any time, and that there’s absolutely no reason to get angry at people when you are the one with the trigger side of the gun.

2. Did the cyclist break the law?

Stop! Please actually READ THE TRAFFIC LAWS AND BE READY TO GIVE A CVC NUMBER (if you are in CA) before you say that the cyclist broke the law.

If you think that there _should_ be a law, but there’s not, kindly pester your representative and leave the cycling community out of it. We don’t make the laws, and if you have some kind of asshole, punative trash like a “cyclist’s license”, do you think we want to hear about it?

So, if we didn’t hurt you and we didn’t break the law then it’s not a real problem.

On the other hand, if you were hurt, potentially or otherwise, or we did break the law, I’m sorry.

I’ll repeat, WITH THE POWER INVESTED IN ME FROM THE CYCLING COMMUNITY, I’M SORRY. Now, you can kindly call the police and get justice. I will support you. When the police laugh at you, well, wecome to our world.

Turning Tarpit Cycling

September 21, 2012

Like moth to the flame or a chronic inflammatory disease, I know I should quit, but I keep breaking out!

Here’s a great metaphor for cycling without any infrastructure, a Turning Tarpit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_tarpit.

“A Turing tarpit is any programming language or computer interface that allows for flexibility in function but is difficult to learn and use because it offers little or no support for common tasks.”

Yes!! Just like vehicular cycling!

“Turing tarpits show that theoretical ability is not the same as usefulness in practice.”

So just because you can theoretically do something such as ride to work in the middle of a fifty mile per hour lane, it’s not necessarily either easy nor desirable!

“Turing tarpits are characterized by having a simple abstract machine which requires the user to deal with many details in the solution of a problem.”

These details include anticipating every mood change of every motorist, studying their wheels as well as eye contact, leading a dance, memorizing diagrams on how to place your bicycle to activate a loop detector, proper lane positioning, and much, much more. It makes riding a bike as fun and easy as assembling a NASA rocket with a grade school education and no directions!

Anyway, I know that this is pointless, but I love learning new phrases and I did get a chuckle out of this.

Sharrows Are Tombstones

September 21, 2012

Literalists beware!

This means you.

I don’t mean that sharrows are literally tombstones, but rather they are markers for where good infrastructure died.

What are sharrows? They are shared lane markings in the style of a Chevron (yes like the gas station).

These are painted willy nilly in the center of the road sometimes and other times in the parking lane depending upon whether cars were parked that day. No joke here.

Wikipedia mainly has reviews of sharrows which is really biased.

Shame wikipedia! Shame.

Overall, I think that sharrows suck, wikipedia be damned.

Which is why I really get mad when I read articles like this! (Thanks BikingInLA).

First of all, sharrows are the whole “take the lane” nonsense in paint. I have previously proven how this is extremely rude and dangerous and it makes cyclists look like arrogant douches. Don’t take the lane. Please don’t.

Some sharrows are painted green. I don’t care if they are painted red or blue or purple because they DON’T WORK.

By work, I mean make cyclists in a statistically and real way safer. For example, in Long Beach, after sharrows are pained accidents went up: http://www.westernite.org/annualmeetings/santabarb12/Compendium/7B-Nagananda-Parentela.doc.

Also, non-brainwashed cyclists don’t really use them and they don’t like them:

“About 40% of the respondents strongly felt Class III bicycle lanes are more prone to collision, while about 35% felt Class II bicycle lanes are more prone to collision. About 5% each felt that green lane with sharrows and Class I bicycle lanes were prone to collisions, and about 15% did not have an answer. These results are also consistent with the accident data.”

The way that sharrows are supposed to work is to get people to ride in a “correct” manner which is VC superstition that they think that if they “follow the rules” they will be safe. They are not.

The reason they believe this is because of the power of small numbers. That is, there are so few people riding VC that the chance that any of them dies in an accident is very low. This proves nothing except for a basic lack of statistical knowledge.

When I rode the green sharrows in Long Beach, I felt in danger and continually buzzed. Contrast this to how safe, efficient and comfort my ride felt in Long Beach’s cycle tracks.

Motorists have no idea what sharrows are. When they are told that this means that I can “take the lane” they say things like, “but I knew you could do that all ready, what am I stupid? Do I need a reminder?” OR “That’s stupid riding in the road, it should be illegal.”

Nobody said, “I didn’t know that you could take the lane, but now I see the logo of a gas station in the street and I magically know that not only can you take the lane here, but also on streets where there are no sharrows.”

Of course, my sample size is small, there are probably many people saying this.

Finally, the biggest insult that sharrows give us is that they show that the city is “doing something for cycling.”

Bullshit.

This is just nonsense political cover. It’s a waste of money and an insult to cyclists. Shame on those asshole “advocates” who told the cities that this is “all that cyclists want.”

This is because they are so selfish that they don’t want to give up an inch of land to the cyclists.

We deserve much more, and we’ll get it, but in the meantime, let’s stop wasting money on pointless paint.

Study: Impact of Infrastructure on Cycling

September 18, 2012

While my main motivation for my desire for infrastructure is SEC: safety, efficiency, and comfort for me, I do believe that we should, a least a little bit, show come concern for others:

In the following study, infrastructure is compared with many differing variables:

Here are some of the findings.

Despite the “poor” stereotype and the contradictory, but equally spouted, “elite” nonsense, there’s actually no statistically significant correlation between household income and bicycle riding to work.

A 10% greater supply of bike lanes is associated with a 3.1% greater number of cycling commuters. Similar, benefits, a 2.5% increase in commuters is associated with a similar increase in bicycle paths.

A 10% higher share of cyclist fatalities is associated with a 3.7% drop in commuters.

On the other hand, the weather is not strongly coorelated with cycling rates.

Overall, this was a fantastic paper that analyzed a great deal of data. I suggest reading the entire thing from cover to cover.

Political Processes to Make Infrastructure Possible

September 18, 2012

The comment that inspired this blog post (comment by Frank).

“There are many people here in the U.S. who argue against crude copies of Dutch infrastructure because they’ve seen firsthand the problems with the crude copies – and because they know accurate copies will never be politically or economically possible.”

We covered this before, this is a depressive line of thinking called “fortune telling.” We don’t know what is and is not politically possible unless we try to make it so. Though most citizens want cycling infrastructure, it’s the politicians who have decided against it.

There are many reasons for it, but I think that the number one reason is that vehicular (meaning cars for VC nuts NOT bicycles) has been prioritized in the US for almost a century now.

Why?

In part because those making decisions all drive cars. So they are building stuff for themselves.

But when this is considered to be impossible, we also have a self-fulfilling prophasy.

Nobody asks for infrastructure because they don’t like being laughed at or ignored. Try it, you’ll see.

Here’s a cool transition from the same comment:

“Some posting here don’t see those problems; they are thoroughly convinced that Dutch design – or a crude approximation – is the answer everywhere.”

This is a strange statement because it says answer but not the question. I guess the question is how to make cycling safer, more efficient, and comfortable (SEC).

Dutch style infrastructure does accomplish all those goals.

I think that Frank has realized this. This he goes to the next fall back position. When he argues with a new set of people, I suspect, he’ll forget this and reset to saying that Dutch infrastructure is dangerous. We’ll see if this is true.

But here’s Frank’s next question:

“Those people might try producing a list of the other countries that have adopted the same designs over as large a percentage of their roadways as have the Dutch. Then they might list the political processes that made such a change possible.”

Note, how he’s asking for something which another tactic that VCers always do, to demand something that they can evaluate, judge, then reject. If you comply, you’ll be running around, like a monkey, forever.

The first question is irrelevant. It’s of a similar type I have see by those who are trying to confuse people which assumes that once the best solution is available, it will soon be available everywhere. This is highly untrue in many cases.

Good solutions to problems don’t become magically available as they often disrupt “business as usual.” Often there are stakeholders in keeping things sucky because they stand to gain in either employment or business.

But in this case, I will answer the second question.

1. Stop saying that VC is good for the time and place and start saying it sucks.

2. Shut Forrester, Franklin, and the newer sleeker clones out of politics completely. Totally discredit them and their ideas. Don’t form alliances, don’t compromise. Get them to retire and to move on. Shout down any opposition.

3. Get people elected who truly believe in cycling. Take them to trips to places where cycling really shines and let them see for themselves. When they come back, get them to pledge at least ten percent of the budget for cycling. Have them appoint people in all aspects of transportation departments and back them up.

4. Fight back against motoring interests. We need to speak more often and louder at every single meeting. We need to control the message. We need to make it clear that cycling is fun, safe, normal, healthy, and cool. This is probably the hardest thing to do because in Hollywood, for example, cycling is short hand for a crazy loser.

5. Hold motorists 100% accountable for paying for the mitigation costs of their activities. You should be able to stand, in most parts of the city, especially the parks, and hold a conversion without hearing vehicle noises all the time. You should be able to jaywalk or commit other kinds of mild mistakes without getting the death penalty.

6. Ban motoring in areas where it doesn’t make sense.

7. Form alliances with pedestrian and transit advocates and GET ON THE SAME PAGE. Stop getting tricked into fighting for pennies.

Finally, in another comment, Frank posts that “we are short on money.” If he took two seconds to google how much in the US is spent each year by the Federal government on motoring, he’d realize that we’re really, really, really flush with money.

Another few minutes, and he’d see posts of several differing design plans and it turns out the cycling infrastructure is always far less expensive than motoring infrastructure.

So we aren’t taking “scarce resources from motoring” but rather they are choosing to put cyclists and others at risk because they are taking money that should be used for mitigation efforts.

The People that You Meet

September 12, 2012

In his excellent book, Bike Snob (http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com) has classified the types of cyclists in New York. I’d like to do the same in San Diego, sometime.

For now, I am starting to classify the types of people whom I have spoken to about the exciting possibilities for cycling in San Diego.

The biggest take home finding is that people have very well thought out and very strong misconceptions about cycling.

There’s just so much misinformation out there regarding the laws, the effects of infrastructure on mode share, safety issues and so much more junk.

As I have been spending five minutes a day on googling information as well as speaking to, daily, one of the greatest cycling minds ever, I have started to accumulate a coherent vision of cycling. This is nowhere near as brilliant as Amsterdam or Copenhagen (http://www.copenhagenize.com), but it’s a start.

Thus, my new goal is get a series of questions to see how people break down into categories of misconceptions.

1. They get it. This is easy. They read _Traffic_ they are trying to get rid of their car, and their friends and family think that they are totally insane. They spent a few weeks frothing at the mouth and now they are calming down and looking for people who also get it. No work at all to spot.

However, my big, big mistake is to think that if someone speaks about bikes, they are this person. They might not be.

2. Sporty and they don’t get it. They may or may not ride a bike, but they definitely believe BAT (bicycles are toys). There are two types of these, real roadies who think that the streets are 100% fine for cycling. These people feel that if you aren’t fit and strong you don’t deserve to ride.

The second sporty type will only ride bicycles on the board walk or go on group rides.

Both groups predominately generate even more congestion and motor vehicle miles because they need to drive around with their bikes on a rack.

They totally don’t get infrastructure at all unless it goes nowhere. These people’s views on cycling are the reason that when any money at all is spent on cycling, it goes to places that are really out of the way.

They think that cyclovia should be on Harbor Island.

Don’t talk about infrastructure. Get them talking about their bicycle, how their cousin broke some records back in ’83, and their childhood.

3. Hate bikes. These people will never say that. They do say, “streets are for cars.” “You need a car in So. Cal.” “Cycling is not practical.”

Then they will tell you a story how a relative got hit by a car and they aren’t the same again.

Their primary interest in bikes is total control of each cyclist. They prefer to see cyclists who are helmeted, obey traffic laws, and dead.

They oppose infrastructure (costs too much) and riding on the road (dangerous and gets in the way).

Avoid this type because they are heartless assholes.

4. Sort of get it but not really. This type is too scared to bicycle. They too are obsessed with helmets. They are often mountain bikers. They sometimes do group rides.
They love bikes in an abstract way especially for their environmental aspects. They often worship actual cycle commuters, but see their situation as much different which is why they don’t bike right now.

They constantly wistfully talk about how they wish that they could ride a bike, but it’s too hard in San Diego. They too see no notion of any kind of change. In fact, that’s the number one commonality among all types: they do not see a better nor a different future from the time when gas costs a dollar a gallon, I mean two dollars, oops, that is, gas will not cost more than four or five dollars a gallon ever because all change is impossible.

They will probably not ride a bicycle even if we built a cycle track with their name on it from their house to their job.

You should probe for their real objections. After each one say, “If we could meet that objection, could I count on you riding your bicycle everyday to work?” You will probably be able to say this phrase about ten times because the objections keep coming like clowns out of a Geo Metro.

There are probably many more types, but this is a good start.

Next step is to get some specific questions and memorize them regarding exactly what kind of person they are.

Perhaps we could get some new categories as well.

Taboo Tradeoffs

September 10, 2012

A taboo trade off is the irrational idea that we must hold safety as 100% sacred and we must not make any trade offs. Ever.

This is an irrational idea because we have limited budgets, but this taboo means that we’ll spend an infinite amount of money for the illusion of safety.

I say illusion because to maximize safety with a real world budget would mean that we would divide the number of lives lost per dollars spent. Plus, we would seek out and ban the most dangerous activities such as showering and walking (for head injuries).

In this nightmarish world, we’d also ban motoring.

Since we live in the “real world” where people are way more irrational than my imaginary world, we waste a ton of money on things that we think are safe.

This means sticking to conventional activities and eschewing the “strange” EVEN IF THE STRANGE IS SAFER!

This is the heart of this irrationality.

This is why cycling is seen as “insane” even though it is highly inherently safe, some might say safer than actually walking!

So how dangerous is cycling?

The census shows a rough 730,000 cyclists in the US.

Of this number, there are 618 fatalities nation wide. This gives us a death rate of roughly 0.08% per year. Pretty tiny.

With such a tiny risk, do people feel that cycling is safe?

No. One of the major, major objections to cycling commuting is that it’s extremely dangerous which means that cyclists are 100% responsible for their deaths.

This is a silly idea because as I said, cycling, alone is extremely safe and when mixed with extremely dangerous autos, it’s still pretty safe.

But how safe is motoring?

There are 97 million motoring commuters in the US. This lead to about 32,000 motorists killing themselves and each other per year.

Thus, motoring death rate is 0.03% which is almost THREE TIMES SAFER THAN CYCLING.

On the other hand, the death rate for cycling is very, very close to zero. A small change in any number close to zero is likely to be a very large percent change. This is one of the laws of small numbers.

Still, motoring is much safer which is why it’s a taboo to cycle–among other reasons.

This also means that the government should spend triple the money to make cycling safer when in fact, is spends almost no money at all.

Overall, despite the taboo, cycling is a total bargain for cyclists and motorists alike. This fact ought to be celebrated which is what I’m doing right now.

Join the party or go home. 🙂