Archive for December, 2012

Does English Transmit Cyclephobia?

December 28, 2012

When you speak of infectious disease, we talk about vectors. I am wondering if the English language is a vector for hatred of cycling.

What does this mean, hatred of cycling or cyclephobia?

Here’s a mental exercise: imagine fitness, thousands of dollars of saved money, safety, health, fun, no congestion, and free parking.

All of these things are desirable, right?

Now imagine a bicycle as the means to achieving these things.

If you are are normal person, when you think bicycle, you think of all the happy times you rode a bicycle. Cycling, by itself, is mainly safe and fun–it takes billions of dollars in government spending to really make cycling suck.

But many Americans see bicycle and they think that it’s a vast conspiracy to destroy their Way of Life. I kid you not.

When the UN mentioned the word “bicycles” (and health), many, many nutjobs in the United States glommed onto the one word bicycle, and they saw a sinister plot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_21

“Activists, some of whom have been associated with the Tea Party movement by the The New York Times and The Huffington Post, have said that Agenda 21 is a conspiracy by the United Nations to deprive individuals of property rights.”

But that’s a few loons, let’s ignore them.

We can’t:

“During the last decade, opposition to Agenda 21 has increased within the United States at the local, state, and federal levels. The Republican National Committee has adopted a resolution opposing Agenda 21, and the Republican Party platform stated that “We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty.”[14][15] Several state and local governments have considered or passed motions and legislation opposing Agenda 21.[16][17][18][19][4][20] Alabama became the first state to prohibit government participation in Agenda 21, but Arizona rejected a similar bill.”

Oh, snap!

These people are very, very powerful.

Cyclists are not only arrogant dare devils who break every law that there is in order to delay traffic by a few seconds, but now we are threatening the personal property of every American and even the soverty of the United States.

That’s right, riding a bicycle is treason on the highest order.

This means that the Republican Party itself is smearing bicycle riding and other healthy and green forms of living.

What is Agenda 21 anyway?

“Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development.”

Note the key word here, non-binding. That means that we don’t have to follow it. It means that it’s a suggest.

So even if we suggest being more green, riding a bicycle, and so on, we are the devil.

Sounds like these people have very, very thin skin, are very, very frightened and not very bright.

To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in “Easy Rider”: “that’s what makes them dangerous.”

Here are some more details of this insidious plot:

Section I: Social and Economic Dimensions

This section is directed toward combating poverty, especially in developing countries, changing consumption patterns, promoting health, achieving a more sustainable population, and sustainable settlement in decision making.

Section II: Conservation and Management of Resources for Development

Includes atmospheric protection, combating deforestation, protecting fragile environments, conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity), control of pollution and the management of biotechnology, and radioactive wastes.

Section III: Strengthening the Role of Major Groups

Includes the roles of children and youth, women, NGOs, local authorities, business and workers and strengthening the role of indigenous peoples, their communities, and farmers.

Section IV: Means of Implementation

Implementation includes science, technology transfer, education, international institutions and financial mechanisms.

Wow, it helps poor people, women, and indigenous peoples.

It seeks to protect the environment as well as expand science. Sounds awful to me.

But here’s the kicker: ITS NON-BINDING. That means that that we don’t have to follow it. If you want to give up your sovereignty and property the resolution has to be binding.

The other funny thing is that this level of insane hatred toward the two wheel, peddle contraptions is unheard of in some non-English speaking countries. They think that Americans are really bizarre in their hatred of that which makes us healthy, rich, and happy.

The other strange thing is that though there are cycle haters, I almost solely see them online.

Most SD motorists are kind. During our one road trip, most motorists were kind as well. When I talk to people about cycling, I get an almost overwhelmingly positive response especially from younger people, those who will be running the world once the older cycling haters die.

So if you are a cycling hater, you are a dying breed.

I don’t speak any other languages, but I would like to expand my research to other countries such as China. Do they hate cyclist there, too?

I seem to think that they like them in Japan. A few South American countries have built some amazing and innovative infrastructure.

The research continues.

Is English the vector for cyclephobia? We’ll find out.

People Who Drive Noisy, Dangerous Vehicles Complain About Healthy and Safe Cyclists

December 27, 2012

http://www.bayofplentytimes.co.nz/news/cyclists-criticised-for-posing-risk-cycling/1696409/

I feel as if my blog is turning into the Onion: http://www.theonion.com/.

Local woman Sandy Obese: “Even though my truck takes up the amount of space of over seven cyclists, it alarms me to see two of them riding together on a road. My truck is super massive, and though there are large roads that run parallel, I insist upon driving it down the quieter safer roads, I expect them to free of cyclists.”

Sandy was last seen waiting for several minutes as a giant delivery truck was parked, completely blocking both travel lanes.

Local dude, George Entitled said, “So what if we kill a few hundred cyclists a year? If the cyclists chose not to be born then they would not have been hit by us. So it’s really their fault.” He went on to say, “True, I can’t recall a single motorist nor pedestrian killed by a cyclist in my area, but they _feel_ more dangerous even if cyclists are statistically tens of thousands more likely to be killed by a car or to even kill themselves than to hurt anyone else. Plus, cyclists are so greedy. They want some special gold plated lanes.”

George was last seen having a heart attack after stuffing his face, inside his Lexus, with low quality, substandard meat that he got from a drive thru. He was known for insisting that he never had to get out of his car ever, and that everything paved over and put at his level while in his car from the post office, to the restaurants, to even movies and church.

From the article: “Whenever road users break the law whether they be car drivers, cyclists, skateboarders or mobility scooter users they can all be prosecuted.”

They added, “But really, you’d have to be crazy to prosecute a motorist as they are untouchable. You can’t even mention the statistics with their level of carnage without being socially isolated and called a crazy person. But skateboards, oh yes, who has spent more than a few days on a skateboard, minding one’s own business, without being constantly followed and questioned by the police no matter how far away one is from the civilization?”

A local resident said, “I think cyclists are putting themselves at risk and other road users at risk by their actions,” he said.

“Yes, I realize that I am inside a large automobile that could kill anyone at any time even those inside other vehicles, but I’d like to focus the conversation and blame solely on the cyclists for the duration of this conversation because I’m a good person, and I just know that those who choose to ride safer and more healthy vehicles are NOT good people. Besides, cyclists are losers and it’s funny to watch them fall over especially if they get hurt really bad.”

Before he backed over a small child then sped away, “Really bicycles are the menace and ought to be banned. Barring that we should at least be able to shoot them for fun. After all, they are bringing the danger to the roads.”

Why Does Cycling Suck In the US? Part I

December 26, 2012

Those of you who are coming for some comedy or meditation, this is not for you. I’m going to continue to examine the government’s total lack of concern for their nation’s health, national security, safety, sanity, and comfort due to their incredibly inept and inefficient policy on infrastructure.

I’m starting to feel like the Andy Rooney of cycling. I always am whining. Well, it takes a big enough baby to admit when things are messed up and for that I’ll be your baby.

Here I’ll talk about two documents. First of all: Toward Zero Deaths [www.google.com/url?q=http://www.atssa.com/galleries/default-file/Toward%2520Zero%2520Deaths%2520FINAL.pdf&sa=U&ei=HOrHUM2FBOae2gXz6oGYAw&ved=0CBQQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNHAjdo4hoojAeXnYOoozUpNZOpsnw]

Secondly,

Safer Infrastructure: [http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=web6%20safer%20infrastructure%20paper&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDIQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fsafety.transportation.org%2Fdoc%2Fweb6%2520Safer%2520Infrastructure%2520White%2520Paper.pdf&ei=LuvHUM7ZDcT42QWwg4D4Bw&usg=AFQjCNG9PaGucGU6JRcIMvOyQW0ahKcQFA&bvm=bv.1354675689,d.b2U]

So why does cycling suck?

One reason, I might speculate, is because we speak English. I know that this sounds silly, but name a single English colonial country which has decent cycling? In Canada, the ex-mayor tore up bike lanes. London, cycling totally sucks and they don’t care at all. In NZ and AU, they did us the favor of making plastic hats mandatory thus proving once and for all that they were totally useless for accidents other than those which are not likely to hurt or kill the cyclist anyway.

In other wealthy, Western, countries, there is no notion of the disease known as vehicular cycling. They have a far, far higher mode share and they are gaining all the economic, happiness (Denmark is #1 in world happiness), and physical fitness benefits while we are spending our way to a “fiscal cliff” while we are totally befuddled why most of children are fatasses who are destined towards a life of diabetes, heart disease, and other preventable ailments. Not only does the motoring industry kill more people than child abusers, they ruin more future adult lives.

Thus, my initial hypothesis is that this is because of English language or culture. However, I’ll look deeper into the causes and conditions of our unique (among non-English speaking, wealthy, Western nations) that I dub cycle-phobia.

Freaky Bike Blindness

December 24, 2012

I’m starting to see a huge pattern here in our rush to “fix” the current transportation mess: bicycle blindness (BB).

I don’t mean the fact that it’s extremely difficult to see a cyclist in front of you while going tens of miles per hour faster despite the canary colors and flashing lights. That’s something that can only be fixed by physical separation of the humans from the heavy machinery work area.

What I mean by bicycle blindness is where the bicycle is our fix to our problems and yet it is totally ignored while we chase after a much less tested, more expensive non-solution that perpetuates 99% of the original problems that it’s trying to fix.

In this case, Freakonomics gets it badly, but predictably, wrong. (We should call them Trollonomics from their posts which are only slightly less histrionic than yours truly). 🙂


If you do peruse it, you’ll see I ended with the hope that technology will bail us out of our transportation problems just like it bailed us out of those caused by the horse. At that time, a deus ex machina descended from the heavens to improbably solve the insoluble. The savior was known as the automobile, and as it went from obscurity to ubiquity in a few decades it banished the working horse—a primary mode of transportation for thousands of years—to oblivion.

There was only one problem with my call for a miraculous technological fix: I did not have the slightest idea what that technology would be.”

The bicycle! This was around at the same time that we were “saved” by the auto, yes?

Wrong!

“There is little doubt it will be the biggest innovation in transportation since internal combustion itself. It is cars that drive themselves.”

Yes, let’s replace something that’s dangerous, which makes a huge impact on our environment both natural and human perception, and which takes up too much space with something that’s perhaps safer, but has all the rest of the same problems. Great idea.

Plus, let’s make it really, really complicated.

Overall, I’d prefer to have well programmed cars in the future than the poorly driven ones in the past.

However, each time we get a solution like this we are seduced away from simpler solutions. Each one, for me, creates a grim, and ugly alternate universe.

Other possible alternate universes of doom include e-bikes, mopeds, and the Zero Death project which aims to make motoring 100% safe, but make cycling and walking to be that much more deadly so we can, by the force of violence, coerce everyone to live the way that we’d like.

Great job, Freakonomics.

Idiots! 🙂

Penal Code 417: Or Why is Our Legal System so Soft on Crime?

December 21, 2012

Warning, in this post, I will talk about the law which will probably make me look stupid. You have been warned.

“I will crush you with my car.” Haha, very funny, yes?

Kind of.

The thought of a large wheel rolling over my head and popping it like an over ripe water melon does make me laugh.

On the other hand, sometimes saying stuff like this is a breech of the law and as is my policy, I URGE READERS TO FOLLOW THEIR LOCAL LAWS AT ALL TIMES!

Recently, I found this interesting law:

http://www.shouselaw.com/brandishing-weapon-pc417.html#1

“In order to prove that you brandished a weapon under Penal Code 417 PC, the prosecutor must prove the following facts (otherwise known as “elements” of the crime):

that you drew or exhibited a deadly weapon or firearm in the presence of another person,

that either

you did so in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or

you did so unlawfully in a fight or quarrel, and

that you were not acting in self-defense or in the defense of another person at the time.”

Come on. Every time a motorist shouts something stupid at a cyclist is not a crime is it? After all, this is a gun law, right? An automobile is not a deadly weapon is it?

Usually, no.

But in context, it could be:

“A deadly weapon is “any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or dangerous or one that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury”.3 “Great bodily injury” is a significant or substantial physical injury.4

Deadly weapons do not include body parts, as deadly weapons are necessarily extrinsic to the human body.5

Examples: Examples of everyday “innocent” objects that qualify as deadly weapons when used to harm another person include (but are not limited to):

a pillow (which can be used to suffocate a person),

a razor blade, and

a dog (when trained to attack people).”

So if a deadly weapon could be a pillow, I feel it most certainly be considered to be an automobile.

So why are we doing so little about it?

I have a few guesses.

If you asked why it is not being addressed, you will get the answer that many of these threats are harmless which is false as LTRs know that being number one in the amount of deaths does not make something “harmless”.

In other cases, this would be considered an “epidemic”, and we’d throw more money at this problem.

The reason I can see this being ignored is that the Powers that Be can relate more to those tossing off the threats rather than those being threatened even though, again, this actually not true.

At any rate, those of us who think that “better laws” or “more enforcement”, ONLY, is the answer to cycling nirvana, think about the existing laws that we have to “protect” us that are going totally ignored as the system is soft on crime when it comes to certain people and certain crimes.

Next time a politician says he will crack down on crime, ask him if he will enforce this law on all motorists, and you will see how soft (and small) he is. 🙂

Obama Misses Huge Opportunity To Save Lives

December 20, 2012

I like Obama, I really do.

I voted for him because I thought that he was the biggest rags to riches story, ever, and I like a fairy tale before I cast my vote for the most powerful and influential office in the land. 🙂

But in his recent speech, this guy is really letting me down.

At first, we were off to a good start: “‘These Tragedies Must End,’ Obama Says”.

“In a surprisingly assertive speech at a memorial service for the 27 victims, including 20 children, Mr. Obama said that the country had failed to protect its young and that its leaders could no longer sit by idly because “the politics are too hard.” While he did not elaborate on what action he would propose, he said that “these tragedies must end.”

“No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society,” he said. “But that can’t be an excuse for inaction.” He added that “in the coming weeks I’ll use whatever power this office holds” in an effort “aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

I thought, “yes!” the constant tragedy of road deaths and unlivable streets will END! Hope burns alive.

Then I was dismayed.

“Among other things, Democrats said they would push to renew an assault rifle ban that expired in 2004 and try to ban high-capacity magazines like those used by Mr. Lanza in Newtown. The president also said he would work with law enforcement and mental health professionals, as well as parents and educators.”

What?

While gun control is a topic that I have almost no interest in, have guns or not just leave me out of it, I am really, really disappointed by this COMPLETE LACK OF DISCUSSION OF THE NUMBER ONE KILLER OF THIS DEMOGRAPHIC.

People like to dismiss these things as accidents, but if you get backed over by your parents, does that make the pain any less?

It seems that our president is either in denial and ignorant of the road deaths or he’s too politically craven to take on the “bull in the China shop”.

Obama continues:

“Because what choice do we have?” he added. “We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”

Yes! we have a choice. We can totally accept things like they are and allow the deaths to continue.

Ironically, someone who does get things right, Bloomberg spoke up: “An earlier version of this article misquoted Mayor Bloomberg’s call for Mr. Obama to take action on gun control. He said otherwise 48,000 people would be killed during Mr. Obama’s second term, not within the next year.”

I predict roadway deaths will be closer to 100,000 not including all the other injuries.

From CDC:

“More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009”

Is Advocacy Getting in the Wayof Love?

December 17, 2012

LTRs know that I do loving kindness on my bicycle. While I don’t do this all the time, I do it as often as I can.

My idea is to get hit, deliberately and to forgive the person immediately. I know that I am a few lifetimes away from this, but this is where I’m coming from.

Thus, I have been worried about the increasing (to me anyway) negative tone in my blog. I tend to write quickly, five or ten minutes per post, and thus, I tend to use a lot of short hand.

For example, when I write “motorist” I really mean, “people who happen to be behind the wheel of a car, but might be cyclists, or those who defend motoring to the detriment of all other people who can not afford to own or choose not to drive an automobile.”

This is pretty clunky and makes for confusing prose so I sum it all up in motorist.

However, I have recently, thanks to Ted and others, come upon the notion that cyclists are dividing themselves into smaller and smaller groups. Also, the whole motoring vs. cycling motoring duality is pretty stupid as most motorists have put a piece of steel between their legs a few times, and most of us cyclists have access and enjoy the benefits of motoring.

I try to keep thing in perspective, I can count the readers on one hand after a fireworks accident, but I do not want to come off as overly negative, accusatory, nor hostile.

The problem is the inner and outer problem. On one hand, we can pretend that things are OK and live in an imaginary happy place while our friends are getting run over and attacked while lax enforcement (not a typo) does nothing or even spends our tax dollars immunizing the criminals.

Also, I really love reading government published PDFs.

So the point of this post is to keep things in perspective. I don’t hate everyone. I want everyone to be happy. I realize that the road to happiness is both internal and external and it’s going to be a painful road indeed, but we will get there.

As I told a co-worker today regarding transportation, I am highly optimistic that things are will be much, much better in the future.

Military Preparedness Cycling

December 17, 2012

Washington Post, like most publications, totally misses the boat on cycling.

From the article:

“Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said he was floored by what he found in 2009 when he was assigned to overhaul the Army’s training system. Seventy-five percent of civilians who wanted to join the force were ineligible, he said. Obesity was the leading cause.”

And yet, as you continue to read the article, they do not talk aobut how the changing transportation system has created a nation of over weight people.

The last few months, I have met no less than half a dozen people who either lost massive amounts of weight or got in great shape from cycling.

That we could get home and work out at the same time should be a super-no brainer.

Instead, you get those who are supposed to “educate” us making us fat!

About 60 students, about one-third of the senior class, took part in the bike ride on Tuesday. They had organized a police escort beforehand, and the city’s mayor, Rob VerHeulen, traveled in the procession in a police car and even handed out doughnuts.

A good time was had by all, except for school Principal Katharine Pennington. Apparently dismayed at not having been informed about the event, Pennington suspended the participants for the day, forbade them from participating in today’s senior walk — an annual tradition — and said they could potentially not walk during their graduation next week, Rachel Nicks, the mother of one of the participating students, told ABC News.”

Where are the right wingers pointing out that this is a grave national security concern?

I am kidding here, but I wanted to say this for a while. If they ban cycling to school then heart disease wins! 🙂

Wilde Cycling

December 13, 2012

LTR’s may have realized that I have finally, finally, started reading _The Picture of Dorian Gray_.

 

I have found that while my posts have been seeming more and more depressing, or rather honest, in my mind, I’m enjoying cycling, from a subjective point of view, more than ever.

 

I realize that, unfortunately, I have not always explained this sentiment very well, and thus, I have the words of Oscar Wilde to reinforce my views. For they say that if you have no backbone then twist some famous quotes, out of context, to suit your needs.

 

Note that this is in response to the usual nonsense of motorist bullying, off road, with the whole confusion as to why anyone would ride a bicycle more than a few feet off the boardwalk.

 

The whole idea goes with the sadly and narrow mistaken notion that life is all about maximizing pleasure, only.

 

“But there were maladies so strange that one had to pass through them if one sought to understand their nature. And yet what a reward one received! To note the curious hard logic of passion, and the emotional colored life of the intellect–to observe where they met, and where they separated, at what point were they in unison, and at what point were they at discord–there was a delight in that. What matter what the cost was? One could never pay too high of a price for a sensation.”

 

I hope that explains how I feel, each morning while I ride down Fairmont.

 

Passion for everyone!

 

Balls out!

Top Up Vs. Bottom Down: Part II

December 12, 2012

I know that the title is screwed up, but I thought it was funny. 🙂

Suddenly, there’s a series where I didn’t think that there would be one. This is actually something that LTRs and wanna be LTRs, Smorg, I’m looking at you, should read if they want to understand where I’m headed in my enchanting and intoxicating journey through government road safety planning.

Previously, I talked about top down vs. bottom up. I was speaking about how the bottom up solutions were the most popular for things that the government had no concern about while top down solutions were mandated for things that they cared about.

When we went to high alert after 9/11, that was the ultimate top down solution. While the NHTSA suggests wearing a helmet, that’s bottom up aka fend for yourself.

What more can I say on this?

A lot.

I have further classified the types of solutions.

Let’s start with Bottom Up. There are actually two types of bottom up: those which are mandatory and those which are optional. These two can be further classified as those which put the burden of safety on the cyclist or where they put the burden of safety on the motorist. The three foot passing law is a mandatory, bottom up solution which puts the burden of safety on the motorist.

Next, we have the types of top down solutions. These come in two flavors (for now–I’m open to more juicy categories). The most popular will help the motorist only. Due to safety compensation, these will actually make things more dangerous when we are outside of our smoggy PPE’s. These are so popular because they protect motorists who break the law, are drunk, and are shitty, clueless drivers. Yes, the government spends billions looking out for these people. Think of this the next time they say a cyclist deserves to die when she ran a stop sign after drinking a beer while listening to music and of course, sans helmet. I’d mandate the death penalty for doing that if I were a judge. (Just kidding, no I won’t).

Second are those top down interventions that help cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians. They make anyone more likely to cycle and anyone who’s not blitheringly insane to enjoy their ride better. Making things easier for cyclists tends to help the other modes as well.

These are highly unpopular and we must fight tooth and nail for them. They are not budgeted and our government wants to cut all funding for them forever.

In the future, I’ll look into the details of why I feel this way.