Archive for category safety
I seem to be on a visibility kick, I know, but really I just happened to see this over at Swissmiss. It’s a good idea, I guess. Not nearly as ugly as some of the hi-vis yellow clothing I see out on the road. But it seems you could just make one yourself and save $80.
The bike lane is not a phone booth.
Ok, yeah, thanks for taking a moment to pull over before chatting on the phone. It’s great that you’re obeying that law. But, and I hate to nitpick, but you see that sign, the one that says “No Parking Anytime”? It’s not a suggestion.
Let’s talk about what happens when you completely block the bike lane like that.
I, and I’m a nice guy (most of the time), ride up and see your car stopped, blocking the entire lane. I also see your brake lights on and so I’m not really sure if you’re about to pull away from curb or if you’ve just started recapping an entire season of Dancing with the Stars. Trying to watch you and look over my shoulder to see if it’s safe for me to move into the lane of traffic, I approach your car. When it’s safe, I pull into traffic to pass and a guy in a F250 3 miles bikes curses cyclists because he thinks there’s a chance he might have to slow down. I watch you closely as I pass, fighting the urge to spit on your windshield, making sure you don’t decide to start moving. I pull back into the bike lane. The F250 realizes he doesn’t have to brake but yells obscenities at me as he passes, just because.
It’s dark at 6:00 am (and cold, but that’s a different story). The darkness (and the cold) has thinned out the already svelte bike commuting crowd. Of the bike commuters left, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who refuses to wear a neon yellow top. I have my reasons.
And, I’m not even sure hi-vis jackets and vests work all that much better than other visibility solutions. There doesn’t seem to be much out on the interwebs linking blindingly yellow clothing to cycling safety, “there seems to be even less research on the effectiveness of high-visibility clothing for the bicyclist than for the motorcyclist.”
Much of the clothing I wear is black or gray but also has built in sections of reflecting fabric making me, at least somewhat, visible in the dark. But, more than that, the flashing white headlamp and the red taillight I ride with in low light should do more to make me visible than even the brightest yellow (and unlike reflective clothing, my lights don’t rely on others having their lights on).
Many cyclists out there probably look at my refusal to wear hi-vis clothing and think it’s foolish (much the same way I look at people who eschew helmets). In fact, one thing “research” turned up was a high number of websites suggesting, with no data to support the claim, that wearing hi-vis clothing is a must. Some may even feel that Hi-Vis clothing is the most stylish and fashionable trend in cycling since spider helmet covers. Which helps explain the guy I saw this morning in a bright yellow jacket without any lights on his bike.
I’m not convinced on either count.
Adrienne pretty much nails it:
Just before I took this picture, this woman was passed by a frustrated bus driver. I am not convinced she heard the bus next to her as she flinched and swerved as it passed her. I am not sure how anyone would be comfortable not knowing a 60 foot long bus weighing 31,500 lbs (unloaded!!) with a frustrated driver who is late is coming up behind them.
When I first started riding I would often pop my earbuds in as part of my standard equipment and head out on the road. It seemed the natural thing to do. Then I stopped.
It wasn’t like I had a close call that I attributed to my not being able to hear. I just stopped, probably because I started riding with Sam and we would chat instead. What I noticed once I took out my earbuds was that I was a better cyclist. Riding on the American River Parkway I could actually hear other cyclists approaching or squirrels in the bushes preparing to attack.
Now I get pretty annoyed when I come up next to someone and say “hi” and they either have to remove an earbud to hear me or they only respond by “jumping” when I get too close to ignore. My absolute favorite is when I call out, “on your left,” and then get yelled at by an earbud wearing cyclist for not calling out before I passed – it’s not my fault you can’t hear me.
In addition to being more aware of dangers on the road, riding without headphones also makes you more aware of yourself. Without the music in my ears, I’m better able to assess how I feel and if my pedal stroke is fluid and gauge if I’ve been drinking enough water. Basically it’s better to be “there” when you ride.
In an unexpected last-minute move Friday afternoon, Governor Brown vetoed the popular pro-cycling “Give Me 3” bill which had been making steady progress through congress. Despite overwhelming support from the cycling industry, road safety advocates and cyclists alike, the bill in its current form will not become law.
Governor Brown, bowing to pressure from automotive groups, the CHP and the Teamsters union, chose to question aspects of the bill which stipulate that drivers unable to afford cyclists three feet of passing space be obligated to slow down to 15mph when passing.
Brown also repeated many of the same concerns which have arisen since the bill was introduced, including issues of traffic build-up where cars are forced to slow for cyclists. Jim Brown, of the California Bicycle Coalition, was swift to characterize such concerns as baseless, citing some 20 states which already have 3-foot passing laws on the books, and which report no problems issuing from the requirements.
“It’s a bill that’s been road-tested in a lot of states…we’re not at the forefront here. The idea that there’s going to be a rash of collisions isn’t supported by other states’s experience.”
A note of disappointment, no doubt echoed by millions of California cyclists, was clear in Jim Brown’s statement,
“We never dreamed that this would be the hardest part of passing the bill – convincing the governor.”
Governor Brown’s rejection of SB910 will not go unnoticed by the ranks of cyclists in California, many of whom have experienced mistreatment on the state’s roads. Passage of a pro-cyclist bill would have gone a long way towards promoting California as a bike-friendly state, instead of a place where cyclists are marginalized.
New bicycling initiatives being launched in Seattle echo successful projects in Portland, and could influence similar decisions in Sacramento. The new “greenways” being planned in several Seattle neighborhoods will take cyclists off busy arteries and through re-designed side streets, where speed-bumps, modified sidewalks and curbs, and special stop-signs will give priority to cyclists as well as pedestrians.
The first greenway will run through the Wallingford district of north-central Seattle, and advocates hope to develop further greenways in at least three other neighborhoods. The city takes its cue from it’s southern neighbor, progressively pro-bike Portland, which has more than thirty greenways, and which predicts that 80% of city residents will live within half a mile of a greenway by 2015.
The initiatives in place in Portland and Seattle put to shame the efforts in Sacramento, which claims to be a bike-friendly city but which has pitifully few dedicated bike lanes, no greenways, and an outdated but muscular pro-car bent. The region’s single saving concession – the American River Trail – was established decades ago, and has not been expanded or improved upon since, despite expansion and realignment of the city’s commercial and residential areas.
The Portland greenways cost an estimated $250,000 per mile, an expense which Seattle hopes to recoup through an additional car-tab fee of $60. Over ten years, the tax would raise more than $200 million for additional transportation projects to help promote cycling and walking in the city.
In cash-strapped, pro-car Sacramento, the possibility of introducing a levy on motor-vehicles to pay for bike-lane improvements or greenways seems unlikely. Many of the region’s essential roads are in disrepair and further cuts to the DOT budget are pending.
However, as pro-cycling advocates frequently point out, cycling has cost benefits that reach far beyond the immediate advantages for keen bike-commuters. An active citizenry which solves its own economic and health problems by choosing to commute via bicycle instead of motor-vehicle injects vitality and treasure into the local economy, and may even go so far as to improve the desirability of residential property in the region.
Bike lanes and greenways can’t fix every problem that plagues Sacramento, but the cost-benefit ratio is enormous, and worthy of further consideration.
That bike is probably moving faster than you think it’s moving.
It seems to me that most motorists think bikes don’t, under any circumstance, move any faster than a speed walking pedestrian. It’s not true. Sometimes it’s best to wait behind the cyclist for a bit – he may be going 3 mph slower than you but, and trust me on this, it’s not that big of deal to wait a few minutes for an opportunity to pass safely. You guys will probably end up at the same red light anyway.
Moreover, the number of “serious” injuries — defined as “skull fractures, internal injuries, broken or distorted limbs, unconsciousness, and severe lacerations” — caused by motor vehicles is double the total injuries to pedestrians in bicycle collisions.
The bike lane, anywhere on the road, really, is not a garbage can.
It seems that there’s a trend out there to discard trash in the bike lane. This is annoying and gross and makes your neighborhood look, well, trashy. My real problem though, isn’t the litter – that’s just annoying and thoughtless – it’s with the glass. It is true a beer bottle will break when tossed from a moving vehicle onto the road and very few things are as joyful as the experience of hurling a glass bottle and watching it explode, I know. But all that green and brown glass eventually ends up in my tire and, while my Gatorskins are durable, inevitably one shard will make it through to the sensitive inner tube and I’ll end up on the side of the road trying to look like I know what I’m doing as I change tubes.
You’ll probably get a good view of my Lycra clad butt, which, for all I know, is what you were after when you threw the bottle there in the first place.