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Archive for the ‘bicycling’ Category

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A Colorado Senate Committee voted down an “Idaho Stop” bill. Under the proposed law, cyclists would have been permitted to treat stop signs as yield, legalizing a common behavior:

About a dozen cyclists spoke at the hearing, most of them in favor of Senate Bill 93, saying it’s simply safer — and less of a hassle for motorists — for them to roll through an intersection rather than stopping if they can do so safely.

“The longer it takes us to merge into traffic or cross an intersection, the greater the risk of a collision,” said Richard Handler, a cyclist with Team Evergreen Cycling.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, is commonly known as the “Idaho stop,” and backers credit it with reducing cycling-related injuries by 14.5 percent in that state the year after it was implemented, according to a 2010 study by Jason Meggs, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health.

 

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France has taken a u-turn in its efforts to promote safe and convenient cycling. Thanks to a new law, kids aged 12 and under will be required to wear bike helmet. Failure to do so risks a whopping 135 euro fine. The rule applies even to kids riding in a bike trailer.

The new law was announced at the end of 2016 and is part of a raft of measures contained in a report published last October by a government committee for road safety, following a recent rise in road fatalities. The other measures include fines for drivers caught using their mobile phones while driving and stiffer penalties for speeding.

Youth helmet bills are largely based off a law passed by California back in 1994. The California law has been quite ineffective, and yet it is still being used as a model.

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Berkeley could become North America’s first major city to build a comprehensive Dutch-style cycle-track network. For the past two years, city staff has been developing a new Bike Plan, which is set to go before City Council in December. The plan would revolutionize cycling in a town with an already respectable bike mode-share. If approved, the plan would prioritize the construction of new cycle-tracks in the south campus area, and convert a downtown segment of Milvia into a cycle-track.

The plan also calls for cycle-tracks on the major arterials , including Claremont, Telegraph, Shattuck, University, and Adeline. Each those projects would have to go through a “multi-modal” corridor study. Berkeley staff says these studies are needed to accommodate other road users (buses, pedestrians, and automobiles). Hopefully, the studies will not used to sandbag the bike plan…

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Dangerous double-right turn in Fremont

Over the past year, Fremont has been busy striping new and improved bike lanes. Many of the projects are quite good, in particular the road-diet on Paseo Padre, and buffered bike lanes to the BART station. But then, they went and did this monstrosity:

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Before this right-hook bike-lane went in, the street had just a single right-turn lane. So the new configuration just made things much more dangerous.

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Don’t blame Congress, blame bike racks for the lack of research funding for the Zika virus:

When asked why the NIH did not choose to purchase cheaper bike racks, the NIH said the bike shelters are a “long-term investment.”

“The shelters help to protect bicycles from the elements, which in turn, protects the employee’s investment with biking to work and hopefully encourages others to commute by bicycle,” Moss said. “Promotion and support of bicycling as an alternative commuting option is essential for NIH compliance with federal guidelines to promote environmental stewardship and employee health benefits.”

The NIH referred questions about the price of the bike shelters to the company and the NIH Contracting Office.

The NIH has said it has “no money” to fight the Zika virus.

The typical cost for a sheltered bike rack is on the order of $10,000. The NIH purchased two of them.

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You see these stories in the news all the time. A bicyclist gets hit by a car and suffers a major head injury. It could have been much worse, we are told, but thankfully he was wearing a helmet. A shattered bike helmet is shown, with the implication that this could have happened to his skull:

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While pictures like this are scary and dramatic, they are actually further evidence that bike helmets are ineffective. This helmet did not function in the way it was intended. In fact, it failed spectacularly.

Let’s review the physics of a bike helmet. They are constructed out of polystyrene foam (styrofoam) which is supposed to compress in a collision. This compression spreads the force out and reduces the acceleration of the brain as it smashes into the inside of the skull. At least that is how it is supposed to work — under ideal laboratory conditions where the impact force is perpendicular to the helmet. Actual collisions are chaotic events involving complex interactions. When subject to an oblique impact, the styrofoam will typically crack and break off without compressing. This is what appears to have occurred in the helmet shown above. If there is no compression, then it is unlikely the helmet absorbed the impact.

What is unfortunate about these kinds of news stories is that they give false hope about the effectiveness of bike helmets. And rarely do these stories ever mention the dangerous road infrastructure that caused the crash to happen in the first place.

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