REVOLUTIONS- biking in NJ
Friday, 9 June 2006
skewed statistics: bikes vs. cars
6/9/06 - Reviving some thoughts on the issue I began thinking about the truth: do bikes cause most bike related "accidents" or is there really some merit to the idea that cars, pedestrians, etc. are careless around bikes and non-observant?
The following article from msnbc.com about a cyclist hit and killed in Lexington, KY, is informative:
"A Lexmark employee was hit by a car and killed Wednesday morning while riding his bike to work.
The incident happened around 6 a.m. in Bourbon County. Police say Joshua L. Shaw of Bourbon Countywas driving a car down Hutchinson Station Road near Royal Oak Farm when he hit 61-year-old Bruce Ostermeier. Ostermeier was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:51 a.m.
Police closed Hutchinson Road between Bethlehem Road and Bryan Station Road until around noon while they were investigating the incident.
Drugs and alcohol are not suspected factors in the incident, and no charges are expected to be filed against Shaw."
No drugs or alcohal were involved -- and no charges filed. Why? It is obvious that no drug or alcohol charges would be filed, since drugs and alcohol were involved, but why no charges? Unless the guy on the bike is riding against traffic the driver was clearly at fault. The "I didn't see him" argument only works if one believes drivers don't have an obligation to be observant of their surroundings. They do.
Yet, drivers can basically kill any one of us and walk away scott-free.
And the news media is happy to oblige, providing not even the most basic details about the crashes, such as: Did the cyclist have a blinking light, if so, why didn't the driver see him? Was the driver speeding, was the cyclist riding on the right side of the road? No answer is provided because all the article says, in a nuthell, is that at such and such a time this man killed this man with his car and hasn't been charged with anything.
When cyclists then begin debating amongst themselves, the issue of statistics come up, with many asserting that most crashes are caused by cyclists themselves. But if we assume cyclists to mean what most of us mean when we say "cyclist" -- meaning NOT those people who ride against traffic, etc. but regular road users -- then it becomes clear most of the accidents are not the cyclist's fault. However this is based only on our definition of cyclists, who largely obey traffic laws and have a right to be on the road, and at such aren't at fault. It cannot, however, be based upon much statistical analysis of news-report incidents, for the incidents are reported so poorly, as in this example above, as to be meaningless.
Tuesday, 6 June 2006
6/6/06 - The world is supposed to end in 10 minutes tonite so I'll be quick..... replaced the chopped alu ergo drop bars on my Pista with narrow steel drops (also chopped slightly) as shown below. Then after the pic was taken added black griptabe where the rubber mtb grips are shown... Vaya con dios me compadres!
Thursday, 1 June 2006
Tales from the batcave.... er, garage...
Topic: RIDE REPORT
6/01/06 - the other day I stripped the panel ("BIANCHI") decals off my pista, leaving the tiny decals -- the"pista" on the top tube and the headbadge, as well as the two small stickers near the bb welds. I then clearcoated over it tho I had to use several coats. The texture isn't perfect but it shines up nice.
The only other mod was to tighten the chainring bolts which were a tad loose, and install plastic frameguards -- a small patch on the downtube where the barrel adjuster of the front brake kept threatenign death to the chrome finish, and a long one on the nondrive side chainstay to guard against nicks from rocks and stuff. Under this one I put a few tiny stickers such as "No stinkin gears" and the "lucky strike" bullseye logo.
Then came the bmx project. With a thunderstorm blockin' me in from my evening ride, I took an old bmx bike and set to work. I'd been toying w/ the idea for some time and finally did it: built a
fixedgear bmx bike! Freewheel removed off of another bmx r. wheel as my freewheel removal tool won't fit over the extra large axle of the stock rear wheel. 18t (only one I had to spare) track cog screwed right on. No lockring.
No brake lever yet but kept the brake and cable intact so the cable end is rubber banded to the handlebar. Bike only has a rear brake and it's mounted on the chainstays so I'm keeping that one, esp in light of the lack of a lockring -- tho as I said my fixed mtb runs no lockring (and only a f. brake) with no problemos... Seatpost is absurd 25.6mm and barely long enuff. Seat is a junk find like the bike. Thing is all black except for rim sidewalls and seatpost.
I assume this'll go in the wrong thread on the bicycle fora (such as www.fixedgeargallery.com/forum), but just for sh!ts and giggles it should be fun. I figure the low gear/wheels makes a brake almost pointless and I'll probably be able to ride backwards on it... not sure if it's practical but building it beats doing those number crossword puzzles ev'ryone's into...
Friday, 26 May 2006
Words of sanity...
"We must never accept being denied the use of the roadway, and we must never accept facilities that prevent the roadway from being improved for cycling. In every case that one can think of, cycling on a properly-designed roadway with adequate width for the traffic it carries, is better for cyclists than any other system. The idea that a significant amount of transportation will be done by politically correct people who have been enticed by false promises of safety to ride on slow and dangerous bike paths deserves all the jeering it receives. Basing the national cycling program on such a pathetic hypothesis is a scientific disgrace.
- John Forester , Author "Effective Cycling""
quoted as it appeared in the Probicycling (http://probicycle.com/) website. Something to consider everytime the gov't, or activists, propose relegating bikes to seperate paths that go nowhere.
Old skool new tech - the Pista evolves
Topic: tales from the garage
5/25/06 - One of my fav girl's fav expressions about something that changes is "it evolved - like a pokemon". My knowledge of pokemon is limited to discarded happy meal contents I pass on the street while riding my bike, but it is safe to say the Pista has evolved.
The bike began with the stock bars and stem. At first I flipped the stem, even fiddled with an extra half spacer (made from a threaded fork fitting) to raise the bars for a more comfortable position. Then on a whim I check out the FGG (www.fixedgeargallery.com) and see a reference to the OST (Old Skool Track) website which I visit time to time. The OST site has some things that are impractical in my humble opinion -- obscenely angled track stems and other bike features which, while they keep to the aesthetic of the culture, can hardly be comfortable for all day riding. And yet...
On a whim I use one of the shims I got from Oscar in Chatham to install a 1 1/8" stem on the narrower Pista steerer. Upside down. The stem came off a mountainbike and low and behold, the resulting handlebar position looked a lot lower than with the flat stock stem. In fact it was only a tad lower. And felt more responsive! A full test ride will be needed for an effective Ride Report on the subject but it may be I've discovered the hidden secret of that sect of fixed gear riders dubbed "old skool"...?
Saturday, 20 May 2006
Dumb rules for dumb people: Bike paths and accidents
The accidents, in this case, are the ones making the rules, rather than the rules being made to prevent accidents. How else can one explain this pearl of braindom from Indiana officials: According to the May 20'th issue of The Indiana Star, an article titled:
"Hey, Monon cyclists: Slow down in Carmel (seriously)
$50 fine awaits those police see riding too fast, endangering others on fitness trail" outlines new plans against cyclists on "multi use" paths. Says author Kevin O'Neal:
"Bicyclists will have to gear down on the Monon Trail in Carmel next week, thanks to new speed limits."
The article then shows a picture of a roller blader coasting along, basically standing on his 'blades and rolling on just momentum -- in the middle of a crowd or recreational cyclists on hybrids and mountainbikes.
"The Carmel City Council passed the limits three months ago, but the enforcement had to wait until the limits were posted."
The cost for speed demons exceeding the 15-20 mph limit: $50. This heavy handed enforcement -- which is sure to target cyclist, not rollerbladers, no matter how fast the latter goes, is justified because, according to the assistant Carmel police chief, Tim Green,
"the heavy usage of the trail, there's a lot of kids and other people out there," and "when the people on the bikes move along at a quick pace, it creates a hazard."
Actually, if the picture at the head of the article is in any way indicative, the hazard is of people -- bicycle riders and non bicycle riders -- moving in a way which lacks common sense. A rollerbladed riding int he middle of a crowd of bikes makes about as much sense as a cyclist taking his road bike on Interstate 287 and riding in the middle of the left lane -- and hten wondering why he's in a dangerous situation. Multi use doesn't have to mean mixed use. For the same safety reasons that one stretch of beach won't be used simultaneausly by speedboaters and swimmers, it makes sense to split the paths. The path in the picture already had a line down the middle, though whether this is for different directions of traffic is unimportant; the same concept of "lanes" can be used to set it up so the bicyclists and rollerbladers, walkers, or joggers are intermingled and crashing into each other.
Indeed, while speeding bicyclists are probably unsafe on narrow paths regardless of the foot traffic, the ultimate cause of the crashes may very well be the noncyclists. If hte picture int he article is any indication the danger is created not by cyclists going fast, but by non cyclists darting in front of them.
"Walkers and joggers share the trail, and complaints about speeding bicyclists led to the ordinance," said the article. It is silent on whether the speeding cyclists of the joggers and walkers were the ones actually moving in a dangerous manner, beyond mere speed.
"'Last year, there were two people who got knocked over by bicycles and ended up with at least one broken bone,' said Mark Westermeier, head of the Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation Department", continues the Star. A careful reader, however, wonders why nothing is said of the circumstances of these crashes. If a bicyclist plows into a hapless pedestrian it is one thing. If a pedestrian moves in front of a bicyclist going fast it is another. Common sense would dictate that since it is a known multiuse trail, the pedestrians would stay to one side, the bikes to the other, and both would pay attention. Sadly this sort of thing doesn't appear to happen. Instead the bikes are expected to weave in and out around haphazard non-cyclist. Any wonder there are accidents?
Yet, this should be no surprise. Bike paths which are intended only or primarily for cycling traffic soon become clogged with walkers, joggers, and others, who then demand the bikes slow down, or otherwise go around their presence. While a multi use trail IS a multi use trail, and cyclist using it should expect to share, unlike a bike only trail, the fact that it remains multi use means that, while the cyclists should yield to pedestrians the pedestrians also have an obligation, not just to avoid obstructing the cyclists (or the roller bladers) but also to avoid causing them to crash by carelessness.
In the end, the only real solution is to get more of these bikes form the path to the street where they belong and have every right to be. But when authorities respond to accidents on shared trails with such a one sided focus, one can imagine it might be better they didn't consider the issue of road-riding cyclists. One can see the headlines now: "authorities say cyclists have an obligation to avoid being hit by drunk jaywalkers and cars running stopsigns."
Topic: RIDE REPORT
5/20/06 - First day with my new old Campy Record (175mm, 144bolt pattern) cranks installed ont he Tempo fix.
They are vintage, Italian, and quick.
They are on my everyday bike not some fancy restoration.
They got me to get an Italian to English dictionary...
Tuesday, 16 May 2006
Road fix evolved
Topic: tales from the garage
5/15/06 - Pulled the road brake lever from my Black Bomber fixed gear (the 5boro 06 bike) and fitted it with a bmx brake lever mounted close in to the stem. I may go back to road lever eventually but for now feel the unobtrusive lever will be useful around town. How many people actually use one road lever for hand position anyway?
Friday, 5 May 2006
5 Boro or Bust
Topic: fixed gearing
5/5/06 - The Tempo fix is back in it's drop bar setup, tho' this time with diff bar stem (as the angled stem with the "track" look is on my Trek 1000 roadbike).
This is the fix I shall end up taking on the five boro '06 in two days from now: 45x17 track width drivetrain, 25c tires (duraskin rear) and a good stout front brake. The bike is also equipped with a water bottle cage and a decent sized specialized seat pouch, added since the picture above was taken last week in my old college town of Madison, NJ on an ancient overpass by the train line.
I may still add a second water bottle, though I am not sure. This thing sure gets around. First MA and now NYC... it's a regular frequent flyer...
Monday, 24 April 2006
Idiots on the (information) highway...
Reading a link to this...Statesman Blog
and came across a load of manure about why bikes shouldn't be on the roads, should be licensed, etc. The posts were prompted by the question of what is the most dangerous local intersection for cyclists and cars.
One person writes:
"OK If you want to treat bycycles as vehicles.
1.All bycycles must have registration tags yearly, say min $25
2.All bycyles must have inspection stickers yearly, say min $10
All cyclist must take a course and be licensed.
4.All cyclyst must carry insurance, liability at a minimun.
You want to have the same rights as automobiles, then pay for the privileged like REAL vehicles do."
The words are shocking in their ignorance and malice. Bicycles are already legally considered vehicles. Saying you want additional restrictions on them and ignoring this shows only a lack of respect for the law -- and shoddy thinking.
We who ride have to obey all the vehicle laws -- even those that don't apply to us -- like stopping at a stopsign on a main road to make a right, when we are drivign on the shoulder not the lane so any oncoming car's aren't even in our line of travel.
As to those ludicrous ideas of insuring and licensing bikes, there is no reason to license or insure bicycles as the damage they could cause, and their number on the road, are minimal compared to SUV's and cars.
"REAL" vehicles -- cars? -- don't get charged insurance cause it gives them more *rights* on the street, they are required to be insured because they present a greater *danger* on the street. Insurance is about risk, not rights or priveledges.
Some people just spout out stuff without thinking. I doubt she (assume Jen is a she?) realizes either, the inflatable tire was invented for the bicycle?
Another person writes: "ANY INTERSECTION! It is absolutely insane for anyone to get on a bicycle and go out into Austin traffic and expect to ride safely on the same roadway as vehicles. Absolutely Insane!!! It poses a hazard for the drivers as well as those on the bicycles. I cannot believe that it is not against the law to do so."
Just to remind some New Jerseyians who feel the Garden State is the most un-bike friendly place in the nation, recall these kind words about cyclists from Austin TX: "It is absolutely insane! I can't believe it is not against the law!"
As the man said, better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.
Bicycles are already *legally considered vehicles* -- already (reduncancy deliberate). We are required to stop at lights and stopsigns and obey other laws...
A lot of the motorists positngon this board cloak their words in concern for the cyclists but they are only concern for themselves: "As more cars take to the streets the bikes will be at risk", said one poster; "they can skid out" said another, also raising the risk of inhaling pollution. Where do you think this auto congestion and pollution comes from? Too many bicycles?
Most cyclists own cars and drive. A lot of them are wither frugal enough to ride to save $, or ride for the fun of it. The6y already pay the overpriced insurance required by law and DMV fees, etc.
Bicycles are already "Street legal" without htese requirement. And imposing them makes no sense given the almost negligible danger a bicycle poses to a Humvee.
When I drive I am cautious of cyclists. When I ride I am cautious of cars. However I have been shot at (w/ a bb gun), had bottles thrown at me, and been run off the road by cars. I have been hit by cars 5 times despite having never violated any traffic laws and exercising more than normal courtesy towards the cars on the road. I should like to see some of those same cars do the same. They don't have to be courtious to me -- this is America in the 21st century and no one is polite any more -- but at least use turn signals when swerving at me over the legal speed limit.
Out society takes people who could never pass the already onerous restrictions for gun ownership and sets them loose on the streets in 4 ton missiles with steering wheels. Fact is the bikes were here first, why do you think the inflatable tire was invented. You car worshippers came later. You don't have to like sharing. But you have to obey the laws. I do so when I drive.
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