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Archive for the ‘bicycling’ Category

Just Why?

why

ht: reddit CrappyDesign forum

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NHTSA Punts on Truck Sideguards

Trucks are one of the greatest hazards for bicyclists and pedestrians. The problem not just the poor visibility, but also the lack of protection around the wheels. Sideguards would greatly reduce that vulnerability, by deflecting bikes and peds away from the truck in a collision. Most trucks in Europe and Japan are required to have sideguards, but no such regulation exists in the United States.

In April 2014, the NTSB issued a recommendation for sideguard regulation. The NTSB is only an advisory body, however, so any regulation must be implemented by the NHTSA. On July 10, 2014, the NHTSA published its response to the NTSB recommendation:

NHTSA is planning on issuing two separate notices—an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to rear impact guards and other safety strategies for single unit trucks, and a notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on rear impact guards on trailers and semitrailers. NHTSA is still evaluating the Petitioners’ request to improve side guards and front override guards and will issue a separate decision on those aspects of the petition at a later date.

When the NHTSA says it needs more time to study a problem, it usually means the agency will not take action. In this case, I would be happy to be proven wrong, but it does not appear that the NHTSA is interested in the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.

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Think of the Children

California (and many other states) have singled out children for mandatory bike legislation. The “logic” is that if kids need car seats in automobiles, then they also need helmets when riding on bikes.

But when looking at the actual data, this makes no sense. Young children have much lower fatality risk compared to other age groups. According to the NHTSA, the 14-and-under age group makes up 9% of bicycle fatalities. It is adult males who account for most bike fatalities.

(In France, incidentally, senior citizens are the ones most at risk from cycling fatalities. The French Cycling Federation argues that if any age group were to be singled out for mandatory helmet laws, it should be the elderly.)

Which brings us to today’s ridiculous story:

A man filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing San Francisco police officers of wrongfully arresting him and forcibly taking his infant son from him after stopping him for riding his bike with his child strapped to his chest in a Baby Bjorn carrier. Takuro Hashitaka said he and his then-10-month-old son, Moku, were riding in a bike lane on Eighth Street headed to a Trader Joe’s two blocks from his South of Market home on Dec. 13.

The infant was strapped to Hashitaka in a Baby Bjorn and “further secured by a sweatshirt that had been modified into a traditional baby carrier garment with a hole for Moku’s head,” said the federal civil rights suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Officers Anthony Bautista and Brendan Caraway came up behind them in the bike lane and “came close” to hitting them, the suit says.

Caraway asked over the patrol cruiser’s loudspeaker why the baby wasn’t wearing a helmet, and Hashitaka, “unaware of a requirement for a baby to wear a bike helmet,” asked the officer “what the authority was for this,” the suit says. The officers activated their lights and stopped Hashitaka at a gas station at Eighth and Harrison streets, the suit says.

The officers grabbed Hashitaka’s wrists, telling him he was being arrested and that Child Protective Services would take his son, according to the suit. Other officers arrived and took Hashitaka to the ground and choked him until he lost consciousness.

If officer Caraway were to ever visit Europe or Japan, the jails would fill up:

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Things didn’t exactly go as planned for Opening Day at the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clara. VTA light rail and Caltrain can not accommodate the crowds (even though a measly 9000 people rode transit to the stadium). The roads, of course, were total gridlock.

But at least you could bike there, right? One of the selling points of the location was the nearby San Tomas Aquino bike path. Stadium planners had boasted that cyclists could ride straight to the front door of the stadium. So I was stunned to read Richard Masoner’s blog posting that the trail actually gets closed for stadium events. How fucked up is that?

The reason is the TSA-style security perimeter. Here is how it was explained to the Santa Clara Bicycle Advisory Committee:

There apparently was some early thought given to making stadium access via raised and covered bridges to separate trail traffic from stadium traffic, but no need to worry about that, the trail will be fine. Besides, that would cost the stadium project a bunch of money and since it wasn’t going to be a problem, why spend the money?

Fast forward to today, and with the post Boston bombing, there will be row after row of metal detectors along the main Great America parking lot (like the whole length of that huge parking lot according to the photo they showed) to screen all the game attendees prior to entering the “sterile (i.e. secure) zone” of the stadium.

Oops, the bike trail passes right through the middle of the sterile zone. So it looks like either the trail will be closed basically all day long on big event days; 4-8 hours before the game until 4-8 hours after the game. Or trail users may be allowed to pass (on foot only), but only after going through security screening. Sounds fine in theory, but realize you’ll be trying to cross a stream of 70,000 tail gating fans pushing and shoving to get into the stadium while pushing your bike along in clip-less shoes for about a mile!

Apparently there is a grant application in the process for the city to get funding to modify the creek trail along the stadium area to run it under the existing and new foot bridges. Now the question remains as to why do we, the tax payers, have to foot the bill to fix the trail that we, the tax payers, paid to build because the stadium folks did not want to pay to put their foot bridges over the trail, that was already there, in the first place. Suffice it to say, the two guys from the stadium project got an earful and high tailed it out of the meeting once their presentation was over. And the high muckety-muck from the stadium project that was supposed to be there as well was suddenly called out of town the day of the BAC meeting that is scheduled 2 months ahead of time?

Still makes you think how cyclists rank in the grand scheme of things. If the stadium guys came along and said OK, we are going to need to close down a mile of Hwy. 101 for a year while we build the stadium, oh and we’ll be closing it down about 15 days a year during events; heads would be rolling. But, it is just a bike path, nobody will care.

And if you want to ride there on Tasman, good luck with that. The VTA removed the Tasman bike lanes to make room for the light rail.

 

 

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Here is another bicycle scare article, this time in the Daily Mail. These bicycle health studies are so ridiculous:

Middle aged men who spend nine hours a week on their bike are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, new research suggests. A British study of 5,200 cyclists is the biggest research project ever conducted on the health impact of cycling.

It suggests that cyclists in in their 50s who bicycle for more than nine hours a week may be up to five times as likely to receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The team of scientists at University College London, found there was no link between cycling and infertility or erectile problems – an age-old health myth.

There were numerous problems with the study. Here is what the NHS website reports:

Despite these seemingly alarming results, regular cyclists do not need to panic – this type of study cannot prove increased cycling time leads to prostate cancer; it can only prove an association.

Also, the prostate cancer analyses were only carried out on fewer than 42 men, which is only a relatively small sample of men. With such a small sample, it increases the possibility that any association is the result of chance. Most experts would agree that the health benefits of frequent cycling outweigh the risks.

Even worse, the study “participants” self-reported through an online survey.

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The Beer Bike

Oh my gosh! Drinking while biking…and not even wearing a helmet.

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Representative Kevin McCarthy, the new House Majority Leader, is apparently an avid bicyclist:

McCarthy pulls on some ratty gym clothes, descends three flights of stairs and exits the building, where, when the weather is agreeable, he meets up with about a half-dozen other GOP members on their mountain bikes. Together they cruise along the Mall, past the Lincoln Memorial, across a bridge and along the Potomac River.

This will surely mean more bike funding from the Republican Congress, right?

 

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