Archive for category advocacy

posted from the safety of my car

Last night I had a dream that I was vilified on local news for jaywalking with my daughter. In the dream, my daughter and I appeared on the local news, first waiting to cross a street at a stoplight. On the news, the image was of my daughter and I and apparently came from one of those traffic cameras they use to spy on citizens. The voice over on the TV was about negligent parents. I knew that my family was with us as the news cut to another spy traffic camera of my daughter and I walking, diagonally across an empty street and the legs of my wife, mom and brother just at the edge of the frame. There was a sound of a horn and a squeal of over inflated tires which, I knew, had been added to the video by the news station. The voice over told viewers about the dangers of walking and crossing streets in particular.

This morning I woke up and found this in my Google Reader Feed:

Also, I read this (from an article about a high school student who was killed last Thursday when she was struck by a car walking to a bus stop):

“You really have to wave the flag at the bull, so to speak,” he said, “because drivers are really self-consumed, and it is hard to get them to stop.”

A superstitious person would lock himself in his house for a few weeks and wait for the bad omens to be forgotten. Perhaps, give up walking and cycling all together. Sleep in his car. Because, as we know from all evidence that is available, your car is the safest place you could ever be. I mean that with absolute sincerity.

Really. Using my advanced graphing skills, I’ve drawn a bar graph* of my own to demonstrate:

As you can see, cars are not dangerous at all which is why it makes sense to compare walking on a public street to the safest and most sane of all sports: bull fighting.

*Information based entirely on the data above making many assumptions about the data that are probably inaccurate and shortsighted.

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Worth a read

Okay I’m going to link straight to another dude’s blog here because everyone who drives a motor vehicle ought to read this post, and please pass it on especially to non cyclist friends & acquaintances…

Click below then read the entry for December 30, I can’t link directly to it for some reason.

Institutional Cyclist’s Christmas Lecture

- Sera

Update: Below is the bit I’ve found most moving, I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on it because of the inability to direct link to the post  (but really, go read the entire thing). -Michael

The point is this: behind the statistics, lie people. Each of the hundreds of cyclists killed every year, each of the thousands of other deaths and injuries on the roads each year are real people that have families and friends. Each death is a family devastated. Each death affects a hundred friends. For a hundred deaths, read ten thousand people grieving. A small town’s worth of grief.

The point is this: This is not a war. This is not genocide. This is not a disease. These people are no one’s enemies. Their deaths are not meant as a warning to others. Their deaths are pointless and banal. They are not killed out of spite but out of ignorance, out of foolishness, out of incompetence. They die because others send text messages. They die because others misjudge speed and distance.

The point is this: The people that kill these people do not want to kill them. We must never forget to spare a little pity for them. They are only there because the gamble that paid off on all the other times failed to do so on this occasion and the video game reality through the windscreen suddenly became horrifyingly real. They are, after all, only acting in that way because the society that we live in allows them to and only suffers to penalize their actions when people die.

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Counterpoint

We got a small amount of grief last night regarding Heather’s post I’m talking about you @SchwankyTown. So, I thought I’d expand on the comment I made in response to the post and pull it out here for all to read.

I’ve rolled through stop signs. Both on my bike and in a car. Intentionally and because I wasn’t paying appropriate attention while driving or riding. Same with stop lights. Also, I’ve been pulled over, both in a car and on a bike.

Of course, there are a few laws I think could be improved. I’m a big fan of the Idaho Stop Law and wish we could implement something similar here in California, and, with a few exceptions, red turn arrows have always seemed pointless to me (I won’t go into detail, let’s just say they only add value if there at an intersection with a blind approach). None of that gives me license to break the laws I disagree with and not expect consequences.

What I mean here is that I’m not trying to defend cyclists who break the law. They shouldn’t do it.

But, even if a driver sees ME blow through a red light, he doesn’t earn the right to knock me down with his car door (which, I’m sure, isn’t what Heather was saying) and he certainly doesn’t earn the right to knock some other cyclist down with his car door. That driver also doesn’t have the right pass closely, honk, drive in the bike lane, or yell at every cyclist he passes (again, not what Heather was saying).

Cyclists, too, need to get over it. Some Lycra clad roadies will run red lights and some skinny jean wearing hipsters will ride the wrong way down one-way streets. We should be encouraging not criticizing. So, scofflaw or not, get out and RIDE.

-Michael

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Bikes will save us

Biking And Health
Created by: Healthcare Management Degree – healthcaremanagementdegree.com

via

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Motorist tip of the week, 14

Drive on the right side of the road.

This seems to be a problem in residential neighborhoods. The roads are narrow (and without bike lanes) and cars are often parked on both sides of the street. Forced to ride toward the middle of the street or risk a dooring we cyclists don’t have much time to maneuver when a car comes wide around a left turn and effectively occupies the entire road.

So, don’t do that.

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Are urban bicyclists just elite snobs?

I honestly think that if you live in a city, then you are morally obliged to read this piece:

Welcome to the new urban order: the Jag-driving New Yorker columnist is a philistine better suited to the suburbs of Wichita. Meanwhile, the city’s bicyclists are an entitled, imperial cabal cruising around on Trek Bellville three-speeds, an insidious locus of unchecked power and influence. How is this possible? As the blog Bike Snob NYC put it,someday in the future, “humanity will marvel that there was once an age in which a mode of transportation as inexpensive and accessible as the bicycle was considered ‘elitist.’”

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Motorist tip of the week, 13

That cyclist is wet enough already.

Trust me. Without a roof, windows or a windshield the rain gets me wet. There is no need for you to speed through that puddle and splash me with your wake. Really. So, please, just slow down.

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You’re doing it wrong, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Hairy Legs

Growing up a good friend’s dad had a hairy back and chest. I don’t mean normal hairy. I mean, every summer when we all went to the lake he’d get ready to go for a swim and you’d want to shout, “don’t forget to take off your sweater!” My legs aren’t quite that hairy.

[photo omitted for your sake]

For a brief stint of my cycling career I started to shave my legs. It’s what you do. I was told. It’s better, they said, to be hairless in the event of a crash. It looks cool.

And it’s true, cyclists and swimmers are among the only male athletes that can claim leg shaving looks cool.

So, that was pretty much it. If you’re the kind of cyclist that wears lycra shorts, then you should shave your legs. It’s a rule, in fact.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t like shaving my legs. It took too long and any razor I used would be dull before I finished my first calve. Also, it turns out, when you have stick thin climbers legs, it doesn’t look as cool. On top of that, I didn’t race and the idea of planning my life around the rare crash – I’ve had one where shaved legs might have helped – just seemed silly.So I stopped with leg shaving.

Every now and again I get a little grief. Our friend Kurt has called me out for breaking rule #33 (last time I rode with him, I was able to put the hurt on Kurt, so he couldn’t talk too much, I’m not sure if that’s true anymore). And more than once a pedestrian has commented on my built-in leg warmers. Yes, even pedestrians know to make fun of my legs.

But I’m not worried because you’re doing something wrong too.

That’s right, you probably have the wrong shoes. Or wear a helmet. Don’t wear a helmet. Drops on your commuter. Flat bars. Platform pedals. Clipless. Freewheel. Foldie. Saddlebag. Camelbak. Bar tape is wrapped the wrong way. Wrong glasses. And so on.

The list of things you’re probably doing wrong is never ending. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Or, maybe you shouldn’t. At least you got the most important thing right:

You’re riding a bike.

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Motorist Tip of the Week, 12

Read this car blog.

A car blog giving sane and sensible advice about how to share the road with cyclists, it seems like fiction, but it’s not.

I particularly liked this bit:

90% of cyclist casualties in recent years were caused by careless inattention, firstly by drivers, secondly by cyclists. It’s your responsibility to avoid hitting the cyclist, not the responsibility of the cyclist to avoid getting hit by you.

That’s advice written for people who drive cars by people who drive cars…yay!

via.

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get out of that car

Not long after reading that Senator Barbara Boxer (D – CA) and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is trying to make it more difficult to ride your bike, GOOD pointed me to this study that was published by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The study looked a the benefits of reducing car usage for short urban and suburban trips:

Reductions in PM2.5 related mortality across the Midwest are shown in Figure 2a, with the total impact across the 37,000 square mile region being 433 fewer deaths. Asthma exacerbations would decrease annually by over 2,000 cases. Also, there would be approximately 75 fewer COPD cases, while net respiratory symptoms, hospital admissions and ER visits would decrease by 93,607 cases annually. For cardiovascular disease, there would be approximately 660 fewer cases of non-fatal AMI and hospital admissions. Savings from reduced annual mortality would reach almost $3.5 billion.

Oh, and:

Based on WHO HEAT, we estimated that completing 50% of short trips by bicycle would result in average annual savings over $2.5 billion for short suburban bicycle trips and nearly $1.25 billion for short urban trips (Table 3), for a total of approximately $3.8 billion in benefits across an estimated population of 2 million people, and a reduction in premature mortality of almost 700 deaths per year.

If you’re keeping track that’s $7 billion/year in savings just by replacing a car with a bike for half of all short trips.

In this context what kind of sense does legislation that makes it more difficult to ride a bike make sense? Perhaps we should make it more difficult to drive.

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