Archive for November, 2012

Tips For Motorists: I

November 30, 2012

Note that this is a joke:

1. Have a backup plan. While motoring is a comfortable and easy way to get places, you put yourself at risk if you rely on owning a single occupant passenger vehicle to get around.

A myriad of factors can take your ability to drive yourself around, and thus you should live and work in a place that has alternate options such as walking, cycling or public transportation.


One could lose one’s license, one could have a medical condition that makes it unsafe to drive, one could get in an accident and get injured, one could get one’s car stolen, one’s car can break down.

Thus, the first step towards safe motoring is to have an alternate way to get around should the need arise.

2. Test your backup plan.

Losing one’s license should not be the first time that one tests their backup plan. Thus, one should try to take the bus to work at least one time. If it turns out that it’s impractical then one should move closer to work.

3. Drive a brightly colored car. Floursescent yellow is best, but any bright color will prevent accidents. Avoid black and gray as they are hard to see on the roads.

4. No distractions. It’s totally useless for a cyclist or pedestrian to wear flashing lights and orange vests if you are going to look at your cell phone. No music either. Driving is an extremely dangerous task where a split second decision could force you to live with the blood one someone’s hands for life. Probably better to take the radio out of your car, too.

5. Roll down the windows. Modern cars are so quiet that it’s as if you are cycling around with head phones. But unlike a cyclist, you put everyone else in extreme risk. It’s only fair that you strain your ears to hear as much as possible in case you can save a life!

6. Wear a fire proof clothing. Though it’s extremely rare, if you are one of those who’s car catches on fire, you can save your life. Remember, if it saves even a single life, no inconvenience is silly or a waste of time.

7. No need to worry about a helmet. After all, you wear one while walking around, don’t you? If not, you should get one and wear it at all times especially when crossing the street, walking up stairs, and ALWAYS in the shower where most head injuries occur.

8. Comfortable shoes. No high heels. No business shoes, no sandles. There are driving shoes available. Buy these special shoes and change them each time you get into and out of the car. Don’t wear them outside the car because you can mess them up which will make driving more dangerous.

9. Have fun. After all, fun is what it’s all about. But you can only have fun while riding safely.


Jeffersonian Cycling Politics

November 29, 2012

Great NYT article on Jefferson and politics.

What does this have to do with cycling?


Here are some things that he recommended:

1. Take some complete breaks:

“During both of his terms, on the eve of each Congressional session, President Thomas Jefferson warned friends that, in our vernacular, he was about to go offline. “As Congress will meet this day week, we begin now to be in the bustle of preparation,” he wrote a family member. “When that begins, between the occupations of business and of entertainment, I shall become an unpunctual correspondent.”

2. Socialize with all even your political “enemies” and treat them all as humans:

“Men who liked and respected and enjoyed one another were more likely to cultivate the virtuous habits that would truly enable the nation’s citizens to engage in “the pursuit of happiness.” An affectionate man living in harmony with his neighbors was more likely to understand the mutual sacrifices of opinion necessary to a republic’s success. ”

Contrast this with the amount of bile we have whenever a cyclist dies on both sides of the fence.

Oh, Jefferson, where art thou?

3. Ride daily.

OK, this is a stretch since Jefferson rode a horse, but still, it bears mentioning that he kept such a schedule:

“He began the day working at his writing table, doing paperwork and receiving callers from early morning until midday; that gave him, he figured, “an interval of 4 hours for riding, dining and a little unbending.”

4. Don’t waste time on silly arguments:

“Yet Jefferson could be ruthless about the use of his limited time in power. To create an ethos of supra-partisan civility would have required bringing politicians of opposing views together under his aegis. Jefferson had only four or eight years to impress himself on the country and was unwilling to waste any of those hours presiding over arguments, even polite ones, between differing factions at his table.”

Yes, this is one that I can learn from.

5. Set the agenda:

“He chose, then, to use dinner at the President’s House to put himself and his own agenda at the center of things.”

This means that while he was polite to guests, he entertained all, and answered his mail, he didn’t bow to every whim of everyone that he met.

He believed in constant conversation between the president and lawmakers, for “if the members are to know nothing but what is important enough to be put in a public message,” Jefferson wrote, “it becomes a government of chance and not of design.”

Let’s look to Jefferson for his brilliant social skills as well as his adherence to his own message and schedule.

These are truly traits to be admired.

I Fell Off My Bike and My Helmet Broke

November 28, 2012

LTRs can skip this. I feel sick of this myself, but can I help myself?


Do I feel guilty?

Double no. 🙂

We all know the dumb story.

“I fell off my bike and my helmet broke in half. If that were my head, I’d be a vegetable.”

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Converse story:

“I know someone who fell off his bike and he did NOT wear a helmet. Now he has a plate in his head. If only for a helmet he’d be here today.”


“Blah, blah, blah, blah blah…”

Let me clarify, once again, our position:

Those of us who are “anti-helmet” just want to be left alone. That’s all.

If you have a fetish for plastic hats, wear it. I won’t bug you on the road. Can you do us the same courtesy and stop bugging us? That’s all we want. Just some silence on this tired, tired, issue.

As for people’s stupid stories, one can speculate all day. Unless we see people who actually have fallen off their bicycles with helmets on, we can’t say much if we are going to be accurate.

I’m not saying that a helmet does not help, ever. I’m just saying that:

1. It’s common sense that “helmets save lives.” Since everyone knows this, why continue to talk about it. Those who are against helmets have read the literature so leave us alone unless there is SOMETHING NEW YOU CAN SAY ABOUT HELMETS. We all heard the story where you fell off the bike and your helmet broke. A million times. Please say something original.

2. There are few protective devices that NEVER work. This is not the standard we should use. We should think about the entire impact that these devices have on society. I think that overall, they put the wearer at greater risk. See the literature for details.

3. Even if “helmets save lives”, so what? Smoking causes cancer. Drinking too much is fatal. Driving is super deadly for those under 35 YO. So what? What are we going to do with this info besides REPEATING OURSELVES AD NAUSEUM.

4. Instead of repeating your stupid stories about falling off your bike, tell me why did the mandatory helmet law in Australia and NZ wind up as a dismal failure? Why did so many people die despite having helmets? What if we spent the helmet money on things that actually worked? Would you be willing to forgo a helmet in this case? Finally, for those who think we should wear helmets in the UK and US because they are “not like NL”, will you be willing to STFU about helmets once we reach this safety levels? Or is this a crazy fetish that you must constant harass people about?

OSHA: Six-Step Assessment Process

November 27, 2012

Here I continue the helmet shaming tirade that I began a few weeks ago. Our wonderful journey has taken us into the realm of real safey, Instead of the nonsensical world of NHTSA where it seems like their safety tips were made by an intern and MS Works TM.

OSHA actually has the notion of a walk through for a dangerous sight. Here we pretend that they care enough to walk down the 50 MPH highways that they have designed so that they can say something a bit more enlightened and caring than “put a plastic bucket on your head.”

This is from the excellent 1241FinalPDF that I had quoted from earlier.

“Step One: Conduct a survey

The area supervisor, safety officer and/or experienced employee should conduct a walk-through survey of the areas in question. The purpose of the survey is to identify sources of hazards to workers and co-workers.”

Note, I’d love to see these safety “officers” from the NHTSA walking down Fairmount, hugging the should, hanging onto the guard rail and hoping that a fellow “co-worker” doesn’t drift into the two inch should. Haha.

“Step Two: Determine sources of hazards”

I don’t think that the safety officer would think that they themselves are a hazard. They’d probably think that the high speed cars are the problem.

“Sources of motion; i.e., machinery or processes where any movement of tools, machine elements or particles could exist, or movement of personnel that could result in collision with stationary objects;”

“Step Three: Organize the data”

“Following the walk-through survey, it is necessary to organize the data and information for use in the assessment
of hazards. The objective is to prepare for an analysis of the hazards in the environment to enable proper selection of protective equipment. In addition, injury/accident data should be reviewed to help identify problem areas.”

Hmmm, unlike other “safety” write ups, this does not say, as other have said that the workers themselves are the inherent safety problem. Contrast this to anything about cycling which says that “cycling is a big source of danger.”

“Step Four: Analyze the data”

” * Nature of the hazard,
* Degree of risk.
* Seriousness or severity of potential injury
* Possibility of exposure to several hazards simultaneously”

“Step Five: Select the Personal Protective Equipment”

“Involve employees in the selection process;”

Hmm, I’ve never been consulted on whether I thought a helmet was a good idea. Yet another fundamental step missing before we blindly and haphazardly issue PPE when it’s not appropriate.

“Select the protective equipment which ensures a level of protection greater than the minimum required to protect employees from the hazards;”

Again, I don’t think that there are any PPEs aka helmets that will make a difference. Seems like a huge missing step here in the cycling helmet world.

“Fit the user with the protective device and give instructions on care and use of the PPE. It is very
important that end users be made aware of all warning labels for and limitations of their PPE.”

Limitations,what are those? Again, I’m still searching for how fast the cars can go before I die when wearing a Snell Rated helmet.

“Step Six: Reassess for Hazards”

Haha, if we didn’t look once, are we going to look twice?

In summary, I have found that recommendation of helmets by various organizations when they have not done a proper assessment to be highly negligent on the organization’s part. I’d suggest that we get some people trained in proper work safety techniques and apply them to our road systems. Otherwise, it’s amateur hour every day.

A special thanks to the morons who cut n’ paste studies that they don’t understand and apply them indiscriminately to every single cycling situation instead of getting out from behind their desks and confronting the realities that we face on a daily basis.

OSHA, Cycling, and You

November 24, 2012

OSHA, Cycling, and You

Thanks to that anon commenter who first woke me up to the the ccwonderful world of PPE (personal protective equipment)! 🙂

For the last two days, I’ve been trolling the OSHA and CDC websites, and I can see that there has been a LOT of work put into the study of safety.

However, in world of cycling, we re-invent the wheel, badly.

Check this out:

First of all, we will assume that in this case, the state is the employer because the state has created our transportation system, and thus, like a good citizen, should be perILEsonally responsible for the risks that it creates.

How is the state doing?

Not so well.

First of all, is this post a submarine part of my anti-helmet crusade? No! It’s openly anti-helmet.

Second, let’s rehash that the good nation of Australia has proven that many, many, many people can die while wearing PPE. How tragic!

However, maybe pro-helmet people should at least THINK of STFU of their blame and shame of those who hurt ourselves while NOT wearing a helmet.

If we have to eat the deaths of those of us without helmets then helmet promoters must take equal blame for promoting useless safety equipment when people die.

What does OSHA have to say about injuries while wearing PPE?

“For example, one study indicated that 70% of the workers experiencing hand injuries were not wearing gloves.
Hand injuries to the remaining 30% of the workers who were wearing gloves were caused by the gloves being
either inadequate, damaged, or the wrong type for the type of hazard present.”

All caps for the skimmer commenters:


Thus, if you admit that a helmet will not protect you from all road injuries, you are pushing an inadequate solutions. From the other day, we learned that bottom of the safety barrel interventions are ONLY to be used as a last resort unless they are totally adequate. Thus, the employer, the state has created unsafe working conditions (cycling conditions) and suggesting a useless band-aid for this is not recommended by the safety experts.

“Personal protective equipment will be provided, used, and maintained when it has been determined that its use is required and that such use will lessen the likelihood of occupational injury and/or illness.”

But most normal people have all ready agreed that a helmet will not save you in the most common way to die which is getting hit by a high speed car. Thus helmet advocates are pushing INADEQUATE equipment which is not recommended.

Not only that, but a poor cyclist, by OSHA standards, is NOT obligated to buy a useful helmet:

“Although employers may at times arrange for employees to provide their own protective equipment, it’s important to understand that in such circumstances the employer remains responsible and accountable to assure its adequacy, ie helmet does not meet standards, the state should be liable for injury and death. I don’t recall anyone suing the state for a defective helmet thus, I feel that the roads don’t meet minimum OSHA standards.

“Remember, PPE that is defective…is not PPE.”

This is why I say that cycling helmets are useless.

“(1) The employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). If such hazards are present, or likely to be present, the employer shall:

(i) Select, and have each affected employee use, the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment;”

For cyclists, high speed cars are the biggest hazard that they would identify on their quaint walk through, of the high speed roads that I ride on.

There is no cycling helmet that will protect for this hazard. Thus, I suggest other means on the pyramid such as engineering controls and GASP elimination of the hazards.

As OSHA says:

“PPE devices alone should not be relied on to provide protection against hazards, but should be used in conjunction with engineering controls and other management controls.”

When one reads engineering controls, for the most part, in cycling, this is infrastructure:

“Engineering controls are the “first line of defense” against injury/illness, because they have the potential to completely eliminate a hazard, and do not
rely on human behavior to be effecti ve.”

I skimmed through the walk though, and I’ll circle back to another post.

For now, here’s a chestnut:

“Select the protective equipment which ensures a level of protection greater than the minimum required to protect employees from the hazards;”

Note that this means that if you claim it will protect against head injury on a VC road–I mean on a road where traffic if 50 MPH, the PPE should be rated for 60 MPH. I wonder who will sell me this helmet. Do I hear a Nut CaseTM. 🙂

Hierarchy of Hazard Control Cycling

November 22, 2012

Recently on a message board someone pointed out the very brilliant notion of Hierarchy of Hazard Controls.

Like a bolt of lightning this has really changed how I think about cycling safety. Or should I say that it justifies the things I have all ready believed.

First off, what is this hierarchy?

“Hierarchy of hazard control is a system used in industry to minimize or eliminate exposure to hazards.”

Sounds good, but the thing that stuns me is that we don’t hear about this in the cycling world much.


For some strange reason, we feel the need to reinvent the wheel for everything in cycling instead of leveraging the decades of modern research on these things. Instead we come up with ideas that are the most useless and push for them.

Here’s the brilliant part about the hierarchy:

“A diagram of the hierarchy of hazard control, with the most effective methods at the top and the least effective at the bottom.”

The highest form of safety is to eliminate the hazard all together. In cycling, the most obvious danger is motoring. To eliminate motoring means to ride on dedicated bicycle paths. This is pretty obvious. Eliminating motoring is the most effective way of making cycling safer.

At this point, we go down the pyramid seeing as this is not always “realistic”. But let’s not kid ourselves, when we use words like realistic, we are admitting to ourselves that society is not doing the BEST job that it could.

The rest of these interventions become less and less effective.

The next one is substitution. There are no real alternatives in the cycling world unless they design a car that kills less cyclists somehow.

Moving on to Engineering Controls: “Engineering controls do not eliminate hazards, but rather keep people isolated from hazards.”

An example of this is cycle tracks. The cars are still a menace, but we’re at least roped off in our little safe area. Note how far we’ve fallen! Cycle tracks are the THIRD MOST EFFECTIVE safety means for cyclists. Yet people whine that this third rate measure is too expensive. OK then.

Finally, we’re getting close to the bottom which is where people put cycling safety. Administrative controls which “…include procedure changes, employee training, and installation of signs and warning labels…”

So here we have share the road signs and cycling safety courses all of which are the second worst forms of safety. I think that overall these are useless, but that’s me. Not that we seldom do “procedure changes” which would mean changing traffic laws so that bicycles are NOT treated exactly as vehicles, but we are permitted to take extra steps to ride even more safely such as rolling lights when there’s nobody around (avoids right hook) and to ride on the sidewalk. Instead our procedures are hamstrung by the unsafe notion that the people out in the open should mix it up in the area where they operate heavy machinery because for some reason hanging around a hazard makes us safe. Haha.

Finally, we scrape the bottom of the barrel which is where we find that most people like pull their most cherished ideas from.

“Personal Protective Equipment (known as PPE) is the least effective way to control hazards. PPE can include gloves, respirators, hard hats, safety glasses, high-visibility clothing, and safety footwear.”

Helmets, lights, and bright clothing.

“PPE is the least effective means of controlling hazards because of the high potential for the PPE to become ineffective due to damage.”

It has been pointed out that “being visible” is negated by a drunk or by texting, but here we go again.

Best of all there’s the fact that PPE’s can actually hurt people and INCREASE risk. Suck on that helmet advocates:

“Additionally, some PPE, such as respirators, increase physiological effort to complete a task and, therefore, require medical examinations to ensure the worker can use the PPE without any detrimental risk to his or her own health.”

Forgiveness Fantasies

November 21, 2012

So many times, I fantasize about what I’d like to do with that asshole motorist.

Still, when I am at peace and most mentally stable, I feel that I’d like to just forgive.

I’m not saying that others should do this, but I feel, strongly, that I’d like to be that person who forgives everything even if the person deliberately attacked me with his vehicle.

I am NOT this person, but this is what I aspire to be.

I saw this great Tiny Buddha Post on forgiveness, and it inspired me.

“Remembering a wrong is like carrying a burden on the mind.”

Fantastic stuff.

Aestheticism and Cycling

November 20, 2012

For the past few months or so, I’ve been all about safety and preventing heart disease.

Lest, we forget what this is all about, I’ll rehash.


Cycling, for me, most of all is fun.

Loud machine noises, death, yellow vests, helmets, rights, fitness, health, weight, and rules are NOT FUN.

Most fun of all, is riding in well designed infrastructure.

It’s as if I were taken care of by a higher maternal being. A beautiful kind nanny. 🙂

Recently, when doing other research, I came on this:

Aestheticism (or the Aesthetic Movement) is an art movement supporting the emphasis of aesthetic values more than socio-political themes for literature, fine art, music and other arts. []

This is definitely how I view cycling. Getting to the venue needs to be just as fun and beautiful as the venue itself. Forget about commuting and traffic and impatience and efficiency.

In with the joy of climbing a steep hill and of feeling one getting better and better, every day, with almost no effort.

This sums it up:

“The British decadent writers were much influenced by the Oxford professor Walter Pater and his essays published during 1867–68, in which he stated that life had to be lived intensely, with an ideal of beauty.”

Thus, the notion of beauty has to be outside as well as in.

There’s more:

“Writers of the Decadent movement used the slogan “Art for Art’s Sake” (L’art pour l’art), the origin of which is debated.”

Yes, or we could say, “cycling for cycling’s sake”; sounds like a motto.

“The artists and writers of Aesthetic style tended to profess that the Arts should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey moral or sentimental messages.”

Yes! Screw the environment, let’s ride our bicycles because it gives us a great deal of sensuous pleasure.

“The artists and writers of Aesthetic style tended to profess that the Arts should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey moral or sentimental messages.”

Exactly. I have always felt the same about infrastructure. I want it regardless of the safety factor because it gives me a lot of pleasure. The fact that it is super safe is only icing on the delicious cake.

“These perspectives opposed or deemphasized the importance of the rationality of human beings. Instead, they concentrated on the experience of one’s own existence.”

Yes! We don’t have to get around in the most efficient manner. We don’t have to live our lives like adults. We don’t have to impress humorless and prissy people.

We only have to ride our bicycles and enjoy the cool and refreshing breeze on our skin!

More on Cycling Triage

November 19, 2012

I don’t know much about the political process, but I do think that we are practicing reverse triage when it comes to cycling.

Recently, I posted about how we can use the medical term, triage, and apply it to infrastructure, but what does this really mean?

“Triage (play /ˈtriːɑːʒ/ (UK English) or /triːˈɑːʒ/ (US English)) is the process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition.”

Everyone is going to have different standards, but here’s what I see from the past.

Places like the beaches have a boardwalk which is wonderful infrastructure for cycling. Since they are not commuting from one place to another, this is an excellent example of “build it and they will ride.”

On the other hand, to actually _get_ to the beach from most neighborhoods in San Diego, it’s a nightmare.


I think that it’s because our current notion of triage is to build infrastructure where people are all ready cycling aka demand. Also, to build infrastructure to where the neighborhood demands it.

Sounds reasonable that they are only responding to demand, right?


This morning, I have decided the top three criteria for cycling infrastructure.

1. Where the speeds are greater than 50 MPH and there are pre-existing cyclists. This is because these roads are the most dangerous. In a hospital, the nurse treats those most likely to die without treatment first. Here we should treat roads that are most likely to kill first.

2. Once #1 is taken care of, we should work on all the arterials and either make a better connection than what they have all ready by mixing with traffic or at least make the ride safer and more pleasant. One way that this can be accomplished is by connecting cul-de-sacs and so on. We can use eminent domain to do this if we need to.

We should do this because people are dying. Not of car accidents, though there are a few of those, but worse, of disease which could be prevented if only people got outside and exercised a little.

So let’s set aside, for a second the measly six or seven hundred dead cyclists and think about the 599,413 deaths of people who died of heart disease A YEAR. []

Does that make a more compelling case for cycling infrastructure? I know we can’t save them all, but if we could prevent only 10% of those, we’d have 10 billion more dollars for infrastructure. []

Note that these numbers are highly inaccurate. We’d probably save way more money due to the nature of sedentary diseases being spread over many categories such as “Adult” Diabetes which we have build our environment into becoming a kids disease, too.

Seeing as we spent a trillion dollars after losing 3000 people to 9/11, you’d think a couple of billion to save HALF A MILLION AMERICANS would be something that we’d put on the table.

Bzzt. Wrong. Instead we hear about electric cars and drilling in Alaska. Wow, innovative ideas.

3. Finally, and I’ll put this in all caps, we should build infrastructure WHERE PEOPLE DO NOT ALL READY RIDE. I’ll say it again. Building infrastructure where people ride is like feeding people who all ready had dinner. It does not make sense. Sure, we should improve all areas of the US. Fine. But since we have a limited budget where we’re spending our money on helmets and beta-blockers instead of sweet cycle tracks, we need to triage.

How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love the 85th Percentile

November 16, 2012

Many alterative transportation advocates are against the 85th percentile rule:

I have to say, that while I’m against speed limits in general, the 85th percentile rule has been useful from a data analysis standpoint.

First of, all let’s talk about the Solomon curve which allegedly proves that the slowest motorist is the most in danger of crashing.

To that, “No!”

This curve seems to only care about rear endings. If you do a mental experiment, you’ll see that the faster you drive, the more the chance that your car goes out of control. This is especially true on a curvy road. Plus, the faster you go, the more likely you’ll need to overtake over vehicles.

Finally, whether or not you crash isn’t that important, but rather how fast you are going when you crash. If we all go sane speeds in controlled areas, we’d be OK with a few crashes every now and then. I got doored twice, hit by two cars and flipped my bicycle, but I didn’t even get a scrapped knee in any of the five crashes. It only made me more alert for the future. And yes, in many of them I was NOT wearing a helmet so there. 😛

So why the hell am I against speed limits?

Because it’s one of the fake solutions that make people feel good while doing nothing. Look at how scared we are thinking of getting rid of speed limits. Guess what? They don’t exist now.

How many people brag about how they speed all the time and get away with it. What a capital offense. Since everyone gets away with it all the time, it’s pointless. Plus, usually nobody gets hurt so it’s a victimless crime. Finally, as the police say, they are more concerned with murder and kidnappings to care about dead cyclists. So if some idiots want to race on the freeway no big deal.

Here’s the thing, though.

We can control speed by traffic calming measures. Get rid of the speed limit and we realize that we have to control people’s speed anyway so instead of making a sign, we make a lasting change that actually works. This will free up tons of resources from the police so they can actually walk around our community instead of wasting their time writing tickets which just piss people off.

Plus, if we keep changing the speed limit when people speed it’s the same as not having a speed limit after all.

If people abuse it and race, we can still arrest them for driving too fast for conditions. In fact, we’ll have more resources to focus on this when the police aren’t wasting time on tickets.

But why do I love a rule that I want to abolish?

Because for crash data, it makes it easier to guess how fast the motorist was driving. I don’t know the rules in Australia, but the data on speed limit and death rate is super tight–much, much tighter than any other variable.

Thus, I suggest having the notion of speed zones, which means that instead of making a speed limit, we make a speed target. For example, if we have a single lane, cross walks, and frequent stops, we’d assume that the speed target is 20 MPH. If instead we widen the road, eliminate stops at intersections, and make the scenery boring, we’re looking at motorists going from 50-60 MPH. And so on.

Let’s be realistic. Changing numbers on a sign that people speed past and writing tickets to every thousandth unlucky motorist is NOT going to make people drive at sane speeds.