Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sustainable Safety Management

February 13, 2014

“Nonetheless, for the next 100 to 150 years, it was considered an usually of not just inevitable collateral effect of any that accidents would happen and that people would be injured.”

We’re _still_ here when it comes to transportation planning.

Finally, we’re getting rid of the word “accident” from our lexicon for crashes. This is a great step forward.

It’s not just about words, but about how we think about safety.

“The objective was essentially this: something that has happened should never recur, and everything should be done to prevent accidents from repeating, to diminish the danger to which employees are exposed and to reduce the risk of operations.”

LTRs know that in San Diego at least, cyclists get killed in the same locations, over and over, through no fault of their own. In many of the deadly collisions there were warnings from the community that were totally ignored even after people are hit. Yet, these areas are “up to code” which is a meaningless phrase in terms of real world safety.

“Learning from real incidents and accidents is only a small part of what is needed. It is like chip-ping off little pieces from the top of an iceberg. It will have an effect, but the change will not be great.”

This the exact conclusion that I came to while reviewing crash data. That’s why I break out in hives when I see the notion of a counter-measure.

“The first challenge is to get a better understanding of what is happening in the company, what is the reality.”

For cycling this means looking at the whole transportation network and not thinking in terms of segmented lanes which start here and end there. Think of when you’re in a bike lane halfway to your destination and there’s a sign which says “Bike Lane Ends”. A holistic approach wouldn’t have any begin nor ending signs.


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.

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.”” []

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?


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

Paying Our Way

February 28, 2013

The whole notion that motorists pay their own way is a lie.

This law is based on nonsense.

If motorists had to pay their own way, here are some other ideas to make things more “fair”.

1. No free parking. Anywhere. Motorists either buy spots or they pay market price for their space.

2. All houses along the freeway routes get yearly payouts for noise and air pollution they suffer.

3. Asthma sufferers get payouts that are subsidized by increased taxes on motorists.

4. Motorists are taxed for all the non-motoring deaths that they cause. This money goes into a general fund which pays a life insurance policy for all those non-motorists that they main or kill to their families for their market value (annual salary) until 65 to the families. Note there are thousands of families each year that are terrorized by motorists whom currently get off the hook.

5. New cars must have doors that go up (to avoid dooring) and air bags on the outside in order to protect those they may “accidentally” maim or kill.

6. The gas tax is raised until it pays for 100% of all the roads where pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed to go on.

7. Calculations are run by how much motorists have stolen from the general fund for the last 50 years and annual registrations fees are increased to pay back what they owe.

If we make things truly fair, then motor vehicles will be the toys of the very rich just like they were before the MASSIVE public subsidies.

Let’s get real when we discuss these things. Cyclists contribute a lot to society, but due to the bully attitude, we ALWAYS go unacknowledged.

Lets’ stand up for honesty in this discussion instead of buying into the maliciously bad accounting behind this law.

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. 🙂

Making Legal Cycling Practical

August 13, 2012

We all know that as cyclists, we should always follow the traffic laws. But there are many cases when this is hard or impossible to do so. For example, in many places there is a magic sensor that easily detects cars, but it’s a black art to make them work with a bicycle–when they detect bikes at all.

Thus, _before_ we ticket another cyclists and slander her good name with scofflaw, it only makes sense that the framework for her to practically follow the laws is in place.

Here’s my plan:

1. All lights are timed. No more sensors. Now cyclists can wait knowing that eventually they will get the light. Activating sensors is too hard and often requires us to go to places in the lane we don’t want to be in. So let us stay in our “bike lane” and out of the way.

2. Traffic fines are increased to the list cost of resale value of the vehicle that broke them.

3. In streets where there are two or more lanes, instead of useless “Use full lane” twaddle, we actually enforce a speed limit of fifteen miles per hour in the left lane, only. This is now the “bike lane”, shared lane, or whatever else we want to call it. Fines for speeding are priced at point two above.

No education is needed just lots of enforcement which will now pay for itself. No lines or signs are needed, just a few media announcements.

With these simple changes, cycling without breaking the laws will actually be possible for the first time.

Education and Experience: Irrelevant to Safety?

June 7, 2012

Long time readers know that I am a stubborn man who holds onto some deeply held beliefs for dear life.

For example, I honestly believe that my princess is the most beautiful woman on the planet. No experiment can dispute that.

Other beliefs include that the quiet, calm part of my commute ought to be increased at the public’s expense until I can attain the second level jhana and hold onto it, while balancing on my bicycle, all the way from my house, to my job.

Other people, like this San Diegan:

think that things must be as dangerous and as expensive as possible. I should have to encase myself in a paragon of modern engineering, paying out of my my hard earned pocket–you’re not going to give me ten grand, are you, Jim–to buy a loaf of bread.

Still others think that classes make one safe.

However, there’s a study that shows that perhaps education and experience are useless:

Yes, I have mocked this study before for proving that being a minor magically makes one safer on a bicycle.

This is still how things are, but there’s more.

I can’t get this study out of my mind, and the only conclusion I can come to about it is that perhaps I dismissed it too early, for a laugh, and what it really means much more.

That is, I feel that there are two human behaviors that put one at risk for getting hit by a car. One is cyclist’s behavior and the other is motorist’s behavior.

If you ride right into traffic which is going 80 MPH on the freeway, you are sure to die soon. But who does that?

In reality, most cyclists try to stay safe, and those who are out there for a little while might actually reach their peak safety.

This is because–note this is speculation–that motoring behavior is the limiting variable. A limiting variable is one which is so huge that it affects the entire system. Thus, you can tinker with all the other ones you want, but if you don’t address the limiting variable, you do NOTHING to change a system.

I don’t know that motorist behavior is this variable but I have some clues:

1. Cars are killing cyclists. If a cyclist doesn’t kill himself, but still dies, he was probably hit by a car.

2. Society, on all levels is there to keep someone in their car, no matter how deadly they are. Thus, dangerous drivers are encouraged to drive.

3. There are very few cyclists and fewer die (thankfully) so it’s hard to say much for sure with such a tiny dataset.

To summarize, if you ride all crazy, but motorists stop in time, you live.

In contrast, if you ride lawfully and according to some class, and one person is texting and doesn’t see you, you die.

Thus, in our shitty system, there’s not a lot you can do. You can die cycling due to no fault of your own.

Of course, there are those who disagree like this well meaning person, from my favorite city for cycling, Keri:

The reason that I am so vehemently against all this is because it ignores these basic facts of life.

Remember, a split second of motoring by an “incompetent motorist” can wipe 90 years of competent cycling off the map. So we need a better way to protect ourselves.

Let’s critique this video.

First of all, I really have no malice towards Keri. I think that she’s a nice person, and as someone who primarily identifies as a pedestrian, I am happy to hear the nice things she said about us.

However, I do think that she has turned to the dark side of the force, and I feel that she will one day come around.

Come on Keri, join us! 🙂

From the talk:

1. Bicycling is inherently safe

2. Safety is the product of behavior


Either this contradicts #1 or we are all safe and can go home.

Next she suggests that the roads are set up in a way to go against all of our basic instincts for safety which she calls a “knowledge inversion.”

But humans are evolved for maximal survival on the Earth’s surface. But she acts as if the roads were an immutable result of a Martian plot.

In fact the roads were made by human hands.


Just like someone who thinks that gay people can be “taught” to be ungay or that teens can be taught to be celebrate, she thinks that we can be taught to ignore millions of years of evolution because we lack “knowledge”.

I say that these roads are inherently unsafe if someone needs a degree or they will die.

Now she says that cyclists behave in an unsafe manner because they are not seen everyday and not seen as normal.


She has the inversion. Ask anyone and the reason that they don’t ride for transportation is because they think it’s unsafe. They don’t ride in an “unsafe” manner because they feel that not abnormal, but rather totally impossible to ride at all.

Next she says one of my favorite words, which is “counter-measure”. This is a really stupid way of looking at things because it’s all about hindsight. This is really bad because we have no crystal ball. Also, as usual, she is going to ignore the greater number of fatalities which I saw in most datasets, including the primordial study, the 1977 Cross study, that all this nonsense is based on.

If you realize that you are more likely to die in the travel lane, isn’t it thick to say you should avoid the much safer door zone because you might win a “door prize” and skin your knee. I’ll hold off on this as I covered this door zone lie in previous posts.

Next she moves on to disagreeing with the consensus. I have a lot of sympathy for her ideas: “streets are for people”, however, our reality is what most people want. That is, if people mostly believe that streets are for cars, they’ll lash out at you if you question that. To merely assert the opposite to a group of naive people is to do them a major disservice. I wonder if this opens one up to liability…

Next, to say that “streets are for cars, thus I don’t have to stop for stop signs” is total nonsense and she’s beginning to single out cyclists for attack, only. That is, most cyclists are motorists. Most motorists do NOT stop for stop signs.

Is it not a simpler notion to see that motorists take their scofflaw behavior with them when they ride bicycles? By singling out cyclists as a special group for scorn for behavior that is common to all, is she not doing to cyclists what she initially complained about: singling out cyclists because of unimportant differences.

Now she starts to complain about all kinds of things that cyclists do that annoy her.

Instead of seeing all cyclists as human beings making normal responses to an unhealthy environment, she mocks them as if they were some lower form of life who need her superior intelligence.

Here’s another dumb quote: “Cycling is dangerous and won’t be safe until other people change.”

This is a straw man argument. I believe that she, herself, has made a case that cycling is dangerous because our environment works against normal human behavior.

Quote: “We’ll just stripe a bike lane through an interchange.”

Haha, this is clearly a mistake.

I agree that I, too, don’t want to ride through an interchange, but please just remember this quote for the future.

The slide about “manufactured conflict” is infuriating because she pretends to be completely ignorant that these problems have been solved. Yet when told about the solution, she mocks those people. Thus, I can see this as willful ignorance.

OK, then she puts up a slide that claims that the cities of America are addressing cyclist’s needs through infrastructure. I have not seen a single city, not even Portland, that gives half the attention to cyclists as it does to motorists. And since motorists are the problem, giving them money to spend will only make things more dangerous. So this is a another straw man. My argument is that we are not even scratching the surface when it comes to the state meeting our needs. In fact, I have argued that the state is complicit in cycling deaths.

Then she told a story about how dangerous a bike lane is which is funny because I know a cyclist who rides VC and knows the law who experiences this every day WITHOUT A BIKE LANE!

Then she goes on to tell how VC can ride, safely and comfortably, anywhere. After this, of course, there’s another contradiction where she tells how she can “exploit the lights to get from a fast street to a quiet one”. Why not just ride on fast streets all the time.

Oh yeah, because it sucks. And what if you are stuck on busy roads only. Nobody rides VC in San Diego because it makes cycling suck as she just admitted.

Then she talks about communication and rewarding motorists which I totally agree with.

Then she says we must first “support vital behaviors.”

No! I have no interest in “vital behavior” whatever that is. I have never heard anyone who wants that. I do want a feeling of safety, efficiency, and comfort.

Recall, earlier, where I said remember this? Now instead of saying, about an interchange, I don’t want to ride there, she talks about teaching others to ride in dangerous intersections. Oh, yeah, she meant the one with paint on it.

Just as she mentioned that streets don’t kill people, “they’re pavement”, paint, also, does not kill people. I knew this second, contradictory shoe would drop.

When we get to the “ultimate enactment” we see that Keri peer pressured someone to ride in an insane traffic situation, something I wouldn’t do to my worst enemy.

This, to me, seems more and more like cultish behavior where a group pressures someone to do something that they normally would not do.

Like cult members, when faced with overwhelming evidence that they acted foolishly and even put themselves in danger, many cult members lash out at their friends while blindly obeying their cult masters.

This ultimate enactment seems like a way of “sealing the deal.” That is, when someone does something insane for another they come to the conclusion that they must love them otherwise, their behavior does not make any sense.

Now my level of hatred towards VCism has hit an all new high. They even talk about instilling “new beliefs” in someone.

Ug, if there were decent infrastructure, we wouldn’t have to go rearranging our brains just to ride a bicycle. It would be eon with our own normal human beliefs and feelings.

OK, I’m tired, and I’ll freely admit that VCers can totally exhaust me with blather.

Much of her infrastructure ideas, I actually agree with.

However, one thing that she doesn’t note is that she is assuming that cyclists are second class citizens in most of her example because we are mitigating cyclists to cars rather than the opposite. I cover this in another post.

In my world, cycling as a first class activity, gets first class funding. Motor vehicles, since they are more deadly, less healthy, and not as accessible to all, like other junior partners should take a junior part of the budget. She sees motorists as more deserving of money and infrastructure than cyclists and we should accommodate cars by constantly “negotiating” with them rather than like normal, powerful people, sending others to negotiate one time and not worrying about stuff ever again.

Anyway, here’s how I feel about all those complicted but ultimately meaningly charts and graphs:

New Comment Policy

May 4, 2012

First of all, thank-you for reading. I cherish each and every comment.

Sometimes I get lonely and I appreciate the tiny bit of attention I get.

Comments are turned on here for my benefit. If I don’t think your comment benefits me, I’ll delete it without fully reading it.

If you wish to comment, think, first, will this benefit Fred. If not, put it on your own blog.

Recently, some people I love, spoke to me and told me some things which I won’t share, but at the end of the day, we need to raise our game.

1. Feel free to contradict me, but post NEW ideas and FACTS. “Rights to the road” and other crap are not welcome here. If I dismissed it in a prior blog post, then why do I want to see it again.

Yes, I post a lot. So if you disagree with me, I probably all ready heard it, thought about it for a week and discussed it with some people, researched it to death, posted about it.

2. Please don’t insult me. No name calling nor labeling.

I don’t (yet) have the world’s smoothest tongue nor the world’s best manners. However, I am not sorry to have insulted you. Nobody made you come over to a tiny, obscure blog and read it.

It’s really not personal and becoming less personal by the day.

3. Don’t tell me what to do. This pisses me off.

4. For the love of God, please post something original.

5. Make your comment intelligible.I don’t know if there’s some kind of special school that VCers go to or what, but mostly I have no clue what they are talking about.

Again, feel free to comment and thanks.

Cycling Elevator Speech

March 5, 2012

Cycling Elevator Speech

What do cyclist really want, in a nutshell?

First of all, why do I cycle?

“So I don’t have to kill a kid.”

That’s as short as I can get. To unpack, it means that as a careful cyclist, I feel that I want to get around in a way where there’s zero chance that I will kill a child.

I realized this early on after driving, when I got into a minor fender bender. It was such a tiny mistake, but it caused me so much grief. The only thought that kept going through my mind is “what if this had been worse?” How would I have lived with myself.

Having lived in a town which was totally walkable, I realized that motoring was mainly necessary only because other people choose to motor which creates a need for wider streets and huge parking lots which in turn makes walking less practical which in turn creates more motorists which continues to feed itself until there are no walkers left.

So basically, I cycle because I don’t want to kill a kid, and things are too far away to walk to.

So one way of getting rid of cyclists is removing parking and making stuff closer together again so I can walk everywhere. Until then, you have to put up with us.

Secondly, what do cyclists want?

Efficiency (everyone even motorists), safety (everyone), and comfort (peds and cyclists, only).

Efficiency does not mean more parking or driving faster. It means that things are closer to motorists than before. This often means removing parking and narrowing streets which is NOT what most motorists mean by efficiency. Perhaps I should say accessibility.

Safety is self-evident and should come from the built environment, only.

Comfort means that a person is as comfortable walking or cycling as she is in a car. This means the SAME amount of noise as one hears in a car. Also, a mom should feel safe enough to let her child cycle. If you don’t think that you should “take the lane” on a tricycle, then it’s nonsense to say that this is a “cycle route”.

So here’s the nutshell again: “Not to kill a kid, but to have efficiency, comfort and safety.”

Barbaric Colosseum

February 22, 2012

“De Waal showed the audience videos from laboratories revealing the dramatic emotional distress of a monkey denied a treat that another monkey received; and of a rat giving up chocolate in order to help another rat escape from a trap.”

Which raises the question, why are motorists so mean?

Why do they view it as a hardship to give up a tiny bit of space to save some human lives? Why do so many motorists harass women? When was the last time did someone say, as a human, God damnit, I will not tolerate this abuse from my group, motorists?

We just let the anger and hate fester. Why?

Why are so many cycling advocates nasty?

I have the answer!

Or rather an answer.

To me, it’s like a 1970’s sci-fi horror flick where humans are captured by aliens and forced to fight one another for their own amusement.

If they do not select a weapon, an automobile, they will be immediately killed. If they do select a weapon, they will be forced to kill, and yet they still risk being killed, too.

This is how are roads are designed.

And yet when people talk about motoring, they talk about how annoying cyclists, humans who choose to be unarmed, are. They also whine about how to store their lethal weapons aka parking.

That’s it!

The are totally and completely submissive to the aliens who laugh at our every move! “Well that’s how things are, what do you expect?”

I expect to be harassed and tortured by humans, who are by their nature kind, but now they are forced to act in an inhuman manner.