Archive for August, 2013

Shadow Boxing Part Whatever

August 26, 2013

I’m throwing a temper tantrum in response to comments in this story:

http://greenlaneproject.org/blog/view/what-if-bike-comfort-is-more-important-than-bike-safety

“I wish you separated-bike-lane advocates would quit lumping everybody who doesn’t like sidewalk-riding with Forester.”

How do you differ from Forrester?

“However, if perceived safety leads to an increase in numbers which leads to a bunch of bike/ped and bike/car collisions (because the facility is bad), that’s a bad thing. And that increase in numbers won’t stick in that scenario either.”

Let’s use the wood working example.

However, if perceived wood working safety leads to an increase in numbers which leads to a bunch of wood working injuries (because the shop is bad), that’s a bad thing.

Not really. If there are more people doing something then there will be more injuries. I don’t know why this is so hard for some people.

Wood workers don’t discourage new wood workers because they might be splinters. Newer wood workers are more likely to be injured. So nobody new should ever do word working again.

That’s totally stupid.

Of course, we should build new wood working facilities just as we should build new bicycle facilities.

Who should be in charge of safety for wood working facilities? Expert wood workers.

Who should be in charge of safety of bicycle facilities? Those who have build safe bicycle facilities in the past. Duh. This most likely happens to be the Dutch.

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“This post is one of the best argument I’ve ever read to the insistence that those of us advocating for bike infrastructure are simply irrational.”

99% of our decisions are based on irrational reasons. Humans are driven by emotion. This article understands that. Most people (not this particular commenter) equate irrational with being “bad”. This is not the case at all but the reality we live in.

Thus to say that cycling infrastructure is irrational does not tell me whether or not we should do it.

Personally, I think that someone who spent his life squashing infrastructure to wake up one day to realize that if he had been in favor of it, he’d be riding today. Instead he’s confined to his smelly home in Lemon Grove where he attacks young advocates viciously online. All day.

Wasting your time online all day is a real rational choice instead of riding a bicycle in some sweet infrastructure.

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“Bad cycle tracks are bad. But good cycle tracks are great.”

I hear this nonsense all the time, but it’s almost always from someone who is totally unqualified to judge the relative “goodness” of a cycle track. Let’s hire some experts and use their judgement instead of lameass self appointed “Savvy” experts.

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“Mmm, while I don’t care for some of Mr. Foresters ideas, I would not call his ideas rejected by mainstream advocates. Remember his ideas are what the League of American Bicyclists education program is based on.
The author would be more correct in saying that his ideas are rejected by bicycle infrastructure advocates.”

YES! too true. We need to purge these other idiots, too.

“I do not understand why Foresters idea of riding with traffic, looking behind, signaling, and yielding if necessary before merging would be a bad thing. Neither his ideas of riding where it is safe and not unsafe (which is supported by Wa.state law), and riding in a position where you can be seen is common sense, riding in a motorists blind spot is not safe.”

Because on a high speed road, riding in a vehicle with substandard crash safety, twenty miles below the speed limit is highly unsafe. Riding in this way, is also irrational. Whether or not it’s legal is irrelevant. Vehicular cycling is foolish and dangerous.

Nobody advocates for riding in motorist’s blind spot.

“I do think the author is attempting to call everything but his own agenda the wrong thing to do. That isn’t good bike advocacy at all.”

No, the original article is excellent advocacy. We must purge the morons from our midst before we get anywhere in the US.

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“Because we have those parallel streets, a better “low stress” solution is to use that neighborhood street a block over from the five-lane arterial. Put in traffic calming measures, barriers that force cars to turn, but allow bikes through.”

NO! Please don’t do this. Why waste money to make these safe routes to be more irritating? We have these routes in San Diego and none of them go where I want to go.

We need infrastructure EVERYWHERE. Arterials are the ONLY streets that get from point A to point B in a straight line. We need more direct routes so we can get around in a reasonable amount of time.

I have a giant spagetti map of convoluted routes in my head that I take when I have time. When I’m in a hurry, I take the arterial and get terrorized each time. Those who “take the lane” all report much more violent and negative interactions than I do who usually have an OK time at the expense of much stress and mental energy to ride safely.

Cycle tracks on arterials is the answer. Why do vehicular cyclists want to force us “off to the side roads” instead of making the normal roads safe and fun? Is it because they are too cheap or are they too obsessed with their silly “share the road” nonsense to the point of ridiculousness?

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“Think how well it would work for the auto industry using your slogan.
‘What If Automobile Comfort Is More Important Than Automobile Safety?”

If you study your history you’ll realize that they have resisted safety for quite a while. Cars still are the biggest threat to a cyclist’s life. Who do they demonize? Bicycles! The whole yellow vest and helmet nonsense if made precisely to conceal how dangerous cars are in order to place the blame solely on the cyclist.

This strategy “comfort over safety” is highly successful and has official government backing. This is this is why they don’t talk about safety while building motoring infrstructure, but they hide behind things like LOS predictions which are solely there to make roads where cars drive faster (aka more dangerously). Even safety is perverted on the altar of high speed motoring.

In San Diego one of the reasons for building a freeway was “safety”. In this area cycling safety went waaaaay up because riding a bicycle on the freeway is illegal. That’s why we must increase cycling despite safety problems. The only alternative is to discourage cycling. If that’s our goal let’s not call ourselves “cycling advocates”.

“So what you are telling us is that the safety of the cyclist isn’t as important as fulfilling your agenda of people riding in cycletracks?
If you really cared about others, and wanted to do good advocacy work for cycling, why not teach people how to use a bicycle safely?”

OK, show me how you can be safe while sharing a lane with an SUV with it’s drive is texting? When you get hit by the SUV, what magical skill makes you safe? Rear end collisions are highly likely. There are about two million a year in the US. How can you be safe in a vehicle with substandard crash safety (a bicycle)?

[Hint, don’t be in the way of a clueless SUV driver.]

So the first skill I teach is to ride off road only.
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“There was a pretty good article on cycle tracks in a recent issue of Bicycle Times. The author was pretty enthusiastic about them. But she began the article by describing her serious cycle track crash. A walker popped out in front of her (not looking, because of course no cars would be coming).”

So the cyclist would be safer if she were hit by a car than a pedestrian? I thought I hit the basement level of stupid, and I realize that it’s a long way down.

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“The conflation of “don’t want bad cycletracks” with “extreme Forester” continues to irritate.

In my case, I don’t mind the Bluebonnet facility so much (it’s for elementary school kids who back in my day would have been riding the sidewalk); but I DO mind the Guadalupe facility, where high-speed adult cyclists are forced between parked cars and the curb, or worse, between two of the most heavily used bus stops and the curb.”

You totally deserve whatever shit infrastructure you get it you stood SILENT while Forrester stopped the THIRTY YEARS of research that US engineers would have had with infrastructure had Forrester not been the lone cyclist voice.

The entire cycling community sold us out and continues to sell us out when they preach helmets, nonsense vehicular cycling classes (sic), yellow vests, and insane “share the road” nonsense.

We need to build bad infrastructure before we build good infrastructure. Why?

Because we have a stupid NIH (not invented here) syndrome where we can’t listen to Dutch engineers due to this self-hating disdain by white people for everything European.

Cycle tracks will be built. You will be forced to ride on them.

Getting upset about the inevitable is “irrational”. So shut it.

The infrastructurists have gone home. The one percent of the one percent which are the loud mouthed vehicular cyclists can shut up now.

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Plastic Road Cycling

August 14, 2013

It’s almost a cliche by now, Anicca, or impermanence, is one of the three marks of existence.

“The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impermanence]

Despite this being a pretty obvious idea, many people say phrases which show a complete denial or ignorance of this simple concept. Here are a few:

1. The roads were made for cars.

2. San Diego is too spread for cycling to be “practical”.

3. Careful what you wish for; if we make bad infrastructure, we’re going to be stuck with it for a long time.

Let’s examine these foolish phrases one by one.

First of all regaring how the roads were designed: assuming that the roads were made for cars assumes that the roads of San Diego are finished forever.

In reality the roads are constantly being changed: widened, resurfaced, and changed.

As the title implies, our entire city is not only plastic aka subject to change, but the change is inevitable. Even if we do nothing at all, the roads will crumble, and we’ll have the libertarian paradise where the road upkeep is zero, and the only “practical” way of getting around is by mountain bike.

Also, the statement is in the passive voice, which is often a red flag that the speaker is trying to hide something. In this case, the doer, the builder of the road is hidden with the phrase “roads were built.” This makes it seem as if we don’t have a choice, it gives the road construction a sense of impersonal inevitability rather than pointing out that humans have made the decisions for the current road design.

The next phrase, about San Diego being “spread out” is similar to the first. Again, it’s as if we came across this city built by aliens and we’re just doing the best to get by. Again, it also fails to acknowledge that humans made decisions.

It also fails to realize that San Diego is growing and we’re going to have to start living closer together because we are running out of empty space to pave over. Also, like other people have pointed out, the Ponzi scheme that is continuous flight into the country side is nearing its end.

Finally, this phrase denies the reality that people ride their bicycles for transportation all ready. Thus, this phrase is flat out wrong.

Finally, we get to a big sticking point for even cyclists who are in favor of infrastructure. It’s easier to fight it and wait until we get something perfect. Otherwise, if we get something bad, we’ll be stuck with it for decades.

This is not true. Any bad design can be shut down and eliminated in a day or so. Certain streets have all ready gone through a couple of iterations since I started blogging. Even sharrows, which I initially did not like, are getting wiped away and people are asking for something better.

So let’s all say it together, anicca: nothing is permanent. All is in flux. Let’s let our thinking, planning, and building reflect this simple fact that is ignored all the time.

Guest Post By Francisco de Orellana: Every, Even Hasidics Are Slowly Going Rogue Cyclist

August 10, 2013

In an interesting turn of events, a neighborhood of Hasidic Jews that once came out strongly against bike lanes because of fears of “scantily clad women” is now lobbying to get Citi Bikes into their neighborhood.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/hasidic-group-rallies-bikes-article-1.1370557

By the way, actually finally did some street riding last night. I rode up the East River bikeway to the UN where it ends (thanks to the UN taking up the riverfront with its secured zone) but instead of docking the bike, I decided to continue up First Avenue since there was a protected bike lane. However, after a few blocks, the protected bike lane ended and it became only a sharrow lane. However, since there was a group of bikers ahead of me, I followed them. The cars didn’t even come close to us. I even ran a few red lights ;-). Then, I reached 59th St (the furthest north the bike docks go) so i had to dock but the closest dock was at 2nd Avenue. I went up 59th which – at that point is 2-way. However, soon it became one way the wrong way. I ended up biking up the wrong way up a one way street. Fortunately, I reached 2nd Avenue before the light changed so my turn going the wrong way up the street didn’t conflict with any drivers. Pretty soon, I’ll be one of those rogue bikers I always hated in Philly ;-).

Speed Not Safety Should be the Goal of Infrastructure

August 8, 2013

Summary: Infrastructure should be built to make cycling faster.

Long View:

Often, we hear many canards about cycling infrastructure and other safety “improvements” that the government puts in.

The dumbest are that infrastructure is not “safe”* and that it “slows cyclists down”.

I have dealt with safety in dozens of posts, but I never really dealt with speed.

This morning, I have come to the conclusion that cycling infrastrucuture’s main goal should be to make cycling faster.

I know that people grimace when they see me suggest speed over safety. Isn’t that going against what I’ve been saying all along?

I don’t think so.

Here are some advantages to focusing on speed:

1. The “impractical” argument goes out the window. The major reason that cycling is unpopular is because people say things like “it’s impossible for me to bicycle to work right now.”

Instead of understanding and empathizing with this goal, some people try to offer classes which will show us how to ride on streets, right now just as they are.

“The CyclingSavvy tag line is “Empowerment for Unlimited Travel”, and I believe that’s true. As a transportational cyclist, this course will give you the tools to get anywhere you need to go by bike, safely and confidently. If you ride around town every day, or would like to, taking this course is one of the most important steps you can take to make your bicycle travel a better experience.”” [http://cushmanconsult.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/325/]

However, this does not match many people’s experience that there are places where it’s too damned slow to ride to because they have to cobble together a series of mysterious routes in order to get anywhere. Instead of making one travel faster, the freeway has become a huge barrier in cyclist’s lives.

Thus, it’s a lie to say that you can get “everywhere” on a bicycle. In fact, many Quisling advocates routinely choose motoring over cycling because it’s not “practical” for them to ride there. (Their words).

If we focus on speed in infrastructure, this argument goes away.

Thus, the more “impractical” cycling is said to be the more we need infrastructure to make it not so.

2. The “back street” argument goes out the window. Often Quisling advocates, instead of advocating for making direct routes faster and safer, instead elect to suggest riding on back streets.

“I — and other proponents of bicycle driving — am often assumed to be against all types of bicyclist-oriented infrastructure. That is not at all true. I support and very much enjoy shared use paths that run through independent rights-of-way. Short paths that connect local street networks. Bicycle boulevards. Bike routes and wayfinding that help people stay off of heavily traveled arterials. Shared lane markings on those arterials.”

This is totally backwards in more modern cities where back roads do not go straight and the hills are much steeper on these back roads. Only sound infrastructure will speed up cycling.

3. Safety is very much a non-issue in cycling. I know it makes good press, etc. I think that overall cycling is safe enough.

We only have about 700 or so Americans die in cycling collisions per year which is far less than the 30K plus who die in motoring accidents or the quater million or so who die of heart and other diseases that cycling helps to prevent. NOT CYCLING is far more dangerous than cycling as it is.

4. Classes go out the window b/c classes can’t redesign roads to make them faster.

5. VC bitching about how “slow infrastructure” goes out the window b/c we’re arguing for infrastructure dedicated to speed.

Finally, despite claims to the contrary the driving motivation of motoring road expansion in the US is to make motorists get places faster. This is a laudable goal, in a vaccum, though it can have destructive consequences once we tally up all the real costs.

Since we have this standard for motoring why not for cycling as well?

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* Safe is never defined. I discuss this in a prior blog post where I define safety.

Guest Post: Her First Bicycle Ride to Work

August 6, 2013

We can thank my good friend from San Francisco, Gracious, for making the tone of this blog much more pleasant. She continues to succeed. Here’s her first ride to work:

“I managed to ride most of the mild hills home from fishermans wharf Sunday. My turns are a bit jerky … I’m still trying to ease my grip but it was a great feeling considering a month ago I wiped out at the first climb. Over time my nervousness and slow starts will get better but it’s a great feeling coming to work riding my bike. I’m proud I didn’t have to put gas in the car or give my money to a company unnecessarily!

My next goal is to deliver the second bike my coworker gave me to my mom Friday after work. She lives in the burbs but I saw a man riding a similar path we drove to her home. She’s been wanting to ride but didn’t want to buy one. I’m really excited because the main rode to her house has a bike lane!! We may take the bikes to angel island this weekend or rent bikes there.

Yep feel free to share. I feel like an empowered citizen!”

Guest Post On CitiBike NYC By Francisco de Orellana

August 2, 2013

Finally had a chance to try out Citibike last weekend. At first, I was weary of trying it since I didn’t want to be one of the few on one of those tell-tale blue bicycles. I heard that some biking aficionados looks down on people on Citibikes because it is assumed that they aren’t seasoned bikers. Therefore, I took a look down the bike path that runs by my building to see if there were anyone on Citibikes. As it turned out, there were tons of people on citibikes. Assured that I would be just one in the crowd, I went to the nearby Citibike station. Actually, I waited until 3PM since the cheapest pass I could get was the 24 hour one and by waiting until mid-afternoon, I could use it over both days of the weekend.

As luck would have it, when I got to the stand, there was a couple in front of me who just struggled with the machine. It seemed self-explanatory to me but they were having a hard time of it. They didn’t know which buttons to push, etc. When they finally figured it out and moved on, it was my turn. I got my code with no problem. Next came figuring out how to input the code on the bike stand to get my bike which wasn’t as self-explanatory. Luckily, a British tourist couple that was behind me who apparently had done it before showed me how to do it.

Off I went. At first I was hesitant to get on the Hudson River bikeway since that is so packed with bikes that it is like getting on a high speed LA freeway. However, after I got on, I was passing bikes right and left. There were tons of others on citibikes and it was apparent that the citibike people were definitely the slower ones. Some also weren’t too use to bike lane demeanor as there were families where each member was riding side by side.

I managed to make it all the way up to 59th street before my half hour was up. With citibikes, if you have a 24 hour pass, you must dock the bike every 30 minutes. In reality, all it is is finding an open dock, docking the bike and then getting a new code and undocking again and going on your way. However, it can be easier said than done (more on this later). After docking at 59th, I undocked again and took a ride up to 100th Street through Riverside Park and back. Since Citibikes are only installed from 59th Street on south so far, there was some illicit pleasure in taking the bike “out of its zone”. However, I noticed a few also had the same idea. I rode up to 100th and then turned around and went back to redock at 59th before my 30 minutes were up. Then – not wanting to ride on the streets – I walked to Central Park to try to get a bike there and ride it around the park. When I got there, there was a HUGE line at the dock. I finally got to the front of the line, got my code, and inputted the code. However, as I was undocking the bike, my hand slipped and the bike redocked!!! That meant I had to get another code. Rather than wait at the line, I walked a few blocks over to another stand and got a bike there. I rode it around the park but, when it came time to redock, I couldn’t find an open dock at the station right by Central Park. I went to the next one over – again no luck. One of the Citibikes employees told me that there was another one a block over. Oddly enough, that one was completely empty and I docked there. Then, after a break, I took a bike out again for another spin. This time I took a longer loop around Central Park but it turned out to be too ambitious. Not wanting to be late for my 30 minute appointment with the dock, I turned around and headed back the wrong way on the bike path (bad, I know, but it was already dark by that time and there were few bikers) to get back to the dock in time. I got there but then had a hard time docking the bike. There is a certain art to it. You need the right amount of angle and force. It usually works best by riding the bike right into the dock but this can be dangerous. After struggling and finally docking, I noticed that I was late by just 1 minute but I was already charged $4 for an extra half hour. Wish I had known that before I docked!

After that, I walked back down to the Hudson bike path and took another bike home, docking once along the way. I noticed that the dock closest to me, however, had only a few docks open. One thing I have to keep in mind for next time in case I wind up going home and finding no dock and having to use precious extra time finding the next station.

The next day, I decided to take the bike up the East River path. I went back to the station near home. Again, I was blocked by a couple that just couldn’t figure things out. It became apparent that the machine wasn’t accepting their card but, instead of just giving up, they kept on trying and trying even as a huge line built up. Finally, they gave up but then the lady in front of me also had trouble. She fortunately gave up after a short while. Luckily, all I needed to get was my code so I was in and out of there. It was a little annoying threading the bike through the all the tourists at Battery Park going to the Statue of Liberty. Kids kept on running onto the bike path and tourists kept on walking on the path thinking that it was a walkway. When i finally got past them and onto the East River bikeway, it was a smooth ride. At one point, however, a car mysteriously got onto the bike path and was driving down it. The car had Florida plates and an elderly driver and passengers so I assume they were tourists who got really lost. At one point, the path makes a sharp turn to get around a pier for a bridge and one side is a concrete barrier and the other is a fence. The car tried to negotiate it and ended up getting wedged in between. I was right behind it. After backing up and going forward several times, it finally got out but at the cost of major damage to its sides. The driver was too embarrassed to get out. unfortunately for him, he was forced to keep going down the bike path until he finally found a way out. I managed to bike up to 34th Street before needing to dock. Docking was again kind of a struggle but I finally got the bike in and went to a nearby hot dog stand to get a drink. Embarrassingly, the proprietor asked me whether I was able to get the bike docked. After undocking, I rode the bike back to a farmers market I saw along the way. However, my app showed that there was a nearby dock but I couldn’t find it. After giving up (it turned out to be on a pier in the river), I went to the next one and again docked 1 minute late. Again I was charged $4! Oh well. Anyway, by that time, my 24 hours were up.

Overall, it was a great experience and I’d do it again. I just wish there was more of a grace period and that the machines were easier for people to use so that there wouldn’t be such huge lines (though I found them easy enough). Annual members get to skip the machines though since they have their own keys. Anyway, having done a ride on a bikeshare now, i feel more confident in taking advantage of it when I’m over in Europe where many cities have them.