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‘There is a fine line between being safe and carrying on a conversation with yourself in public’ (Roundup)

by Ted Johnson

My last post featured a photo of me with a beer, and the context was a discussion of when cyclists reach the point of diminishing return as we wear more and more flashy lights.

Flashing Cycle Vest - Flashwear

Photo: RSP Products

A week ago, homebrewed bikes another beer-loving bike blogger made a similar point in a post titled, On Being Called a Faggot.

They yelled at me when I was in a bike lane, wearing a reflective glowing safety jacket, a helmet, and with two lights on the back. Sure, that’s dorky… but I’d rather you be unable to use the effective “I didn’t see him” defense when you kill me.

Whatever someone may yell at you when you are cycling, the subtext is, I see you! And that’s almost always a good thing.

A frequent commenter, Chrehn, expressed the same sentiment:

If someone runs over me, it won’t be because they didn’t see me. I will admit that there is a fine line between being safe and carrying on a conversation with yourself in public.

To that I’ll add: A visible target of ridicule is still a target.

The above image is from RSP Products. What were they thinking?

And that’s the last I’ll write about visibility for awhile. I promise.

Commute By Bike

Two articles in the last week have recommended “Bikey Uses for Non-Bikey Things.”

From She Rides a Bike:

[The customer service rep at Dahon] told me instead to match the color of my bike with nail polish, and that’s exactly what I did.  Looked around for a few weeks to find just the right color of red to match “brick” the color of the Eco 3.  Sally Hanson’s Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in Cherry Red (07) is a perfect, perfect match (really!).  … I can’t even tell where I applied it.

And BikeHacks recommends some very practical items (Lip Balm, Baby, Powder, Bandanas), but also includes some interesting recommendations for podcasts to be listened to with one earbud:

While I certainly enjoy listening to NPR podcasts on the way to work, I also enjoy staying out of emergency rooms. Some of you might have flinched when I said I listen to news while I ride, but there is a caveat – I always have one ear free to listen to what is going on around me.

I received my worst grade every in my high school physics class and I cannot tell you scientifically why it is not good for a cyclist to run into a car – but simply speaking cars weigh more than I do – by several tons.

Commute By Bike

By now, we’ve all seen this predictable pattern play out dozens of times: A mainstream publication publishes something about cyclists, or cycling infrastructure, and then the bike-hating trolls attack in the comments.

Winnipeg Free PressIn the Winnipeg Free Press, I found this completely inverted example. The reporter reprints–as the main story–the bike-hating comments submitted by readers about a proposed a one-meter clearance law.

In the comments, it’s cyclists who bring in a balanced discussion of the issue. This example is from a reader by the name “takethelane.”

Everyone has their preference as to where and when to ride. Some choose the bike paths on the weekend and some choose Portage and Main during rush hour, I think I can speak for a great many cyclists when i say that we would gladly chose an alternate route away from busy traffic if that route was as efficient (as quick =/-). Every year there are more and more bikes on the roadways and pathways, bikes are not going away. City’s all over the world are reducing the ease of motor transport in favor of mass transit and human powered vehicles. I realize that no matter how much sense something makes there will always be Zealots out there making comments and actions out of anger and ignorance, thankfully they are not the majority. The majority supports sharing the road, has knowledge and is tolerant.

I will ride on the Road, I will follow the rules, I will take the lane if needed.

Utility Cycling

And if that’s not Bizarro-World enough for you, watch this video on how a cycling accident became a national media story in The Netherlands. Sure, it’s pretty clear that the motorist was at fault. But where is the usual standard bearer who blames the cyclists?

[Via Utility Cycling]

Utility Cycling

Also from Utility Cycling:

The first of the [Moving Beyond the Automobile] series came out today and focuses on Transit-Oriented Development.  Although this series does not focus specifically on utility cycling, it has many important implications, as a reduction in automobile use can be very favorable to cycling in all forms.

Commute By Bike

Moving beyond the automobile is not the purpose of this Web site. But personally, Im always encouraging of people who want to try to live car free.

I saw this article, titled I’ve Been Living the Liberal Dream: Life Without a Car (It Sucks).

I clicked over to the article to offer words of encouragement like, “Hang in there buddy. It’s an adjustment, but it’ll be worth it.”

It turns out that the author of that article was not looking for encouragement.

If I want to do anything I must immediately add 30 minutes to the task. Need to get to work? Instead of 5 minutes it’s 30. Need to get home? Same thing. Need to get my hair cut? 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back. Should I need to go to the grocery store it’s time to grab the backpack and add… 30 minutes each way.

Don’t we have buses in San Francisco? We do. They were 50 cents when I moved here, now they’re $2 per ride. And they still smell, are over-crowded, and often so full they don’t stop to pick up passengers. Riding a bus is like being in a human germ incubator.

[...]

A bike can’t get me back from COSTCO with all of my stuff. I have no place to store a bike in my apartment. I’m not going to ride a bike in the rain. My ass hurts when I ride a bike. I don’t want to roll my pants leg up. I don’t want to be engaged in conversations about my bike and why it’s not “right” for me or how there’s a better bike or why don’t I get one without brakes and be really cool? I don’t want to have helmet hair or have my scalp sweet profusely.

I gave him some words of a different kind.

Commute By Bike

Finally, two articles on fuel efficiency.

53 Miles Per Burrito

Photo: zero per gallon

zero per gallon sells t-shirts for cyclists, that say “53 miles per burrito.” And I want one. It’s a catchy slogan, but is it true?

Mike Wierusz, a high school teacher in Bothell, Washington decided to test the claim with his students.

“It figuratively took my breath away.” Wierusz had his own concerns about how the study could backfire. “My concern with this research is that it comes at the tail end of deep conversations and debates on greenhouse gases (methane, etc.). With all this burrito consumption, will we be doing more harm than good?” In the end, it was decided that the truth needed to get out.

But there’s more to the fuel efficiency of food than just the calories in the end-product you chew and swallow.

I found an older post on the Bike Blog of the Guardian that looks at the carbon footprint of cycling a mile depending what the cyclist has eaten.

The carbon footprint of cycling a mile:
65g CO2e: powered by bananas
90g CO2e: powered by cereals with milk
200g CO2e: powered by bacon
260g CO2e: powered by cheeseburgers
2800g CO2e: powered by air-freighted asparagus

[...]

Is cycling a carbon-friendly thing to do? Emphatically yes! Powered by biscuits, bananas or breakfast cereal, the bike is nearly 10 times more carbon-efficient than the most efficient of petrol cars. Cycling also keeps you healthy, provided you don’t end up under a bus. (Strictly speaking, dying could be classed as a carbon-friendly thing to do but needing an operation couldn’t due to the massive footprint of the health service.)

 
Burley nomad 269

5 Responses to “‘There is a fine line between being safe and carrying on a conversation with yourself in public’ (Roundup)”

  1. Harrison says:

    If by “encouragement” you mean an East German ice skating judge giving you “pointers” then yes, they were helpful!

    • Ted Johnson says:

      Readers: Harrison is the author of I’ve Been Living the Liberal Dream: Life Without a Car (It Sucks).

      I give him high marks for his honesty, and the good humor in which he responds to his comments. I think I like him.

      (Hidden agenda: Get him on a bike.)

  2. Harrison says:

    You can borrow my bike anytime.

  3. swine-flu says:

    Thanks for the homebrewed bikes shoutout. Coincidentally, I also own that 53m/burrito shirt.

  4. Funny, when I calculated the miles per burrito back in 2007 using the accepted 37 Calories per mile and the number of Calories in a Taco Bell value bean burrito I came up with 20 miles even. I guess they make bigger burritos now or are they using a different version of the burrito? This was back when the bean burrito was $0.79…

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