Archive for the ‘bicycling’ Category

Tricycles: threat or menace?

The helmet fear-mongers go full-retard:

For the past decade, we’ve drilled into children that when they ride a bike, they need to wear a helmet. Now scientists say it may be too late: Tricycle riders should be wearing them, too.

Using data collected from 100 emergency rooms for the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers found that boys are more likely than girls to turn up in the emergency room. Two-year-olds seem to have the most accidents, although there were tricycle injuries for children up to age 7. The most common broken bone was the elbow and the most common injury overall was a cut to the face.

In addition to helmets, the authors suggest kids wear elbow pads, and that parents supervise their children while they ride.

Even better, just make them wear bubble-wrap.


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Plans for a comprehensive system of bike trails in the East Bay have long been stymied by the EBMUD (the East Bay municipal water district). That is because EBMUD has an absolute ban on bike riding on its trails. For the past 50 years, only hikers and equestrians have been permitted on the trails. There are huge gaps in the bike network as a result.

But now the water agency is reconsidering the ban. Last month, it held a public hearing — and as usual, the Sierra Club is vehemently opposed:

A total of approximately 45 people spoke. The Sierra Club came out very quickly against making any changes at all through Stormin’ Norman Laforce. If it weren’t for the fact that we needed to listen respectfully and smile we would have laughed him off the stage. He is thoroughly ridiculous. The lady that followed him from the Sierra Club, a former director of EBMUD, Ms.Burke, was equally ridiculous. They have no idea at all.

By and large even the people who would not have supported access to cycling suggested that absolute closure was unreasonable. They were simply concerned against all of the usual horror stories about mountain bikers, the need for enforcement, and the challenges that these created. I think that these were all fair criticisms.

Mary Selkirk, a former director who voted to exclude mountain bikers in 1996, spoke of regretting her decision as patently unfair. This was huge. She had real gravitas.

However the greatest proportion of people who spoke suggested the value of mountain biking especially in terms of generating good health and good trail use practices in our youth. The contact with nature and our tendency to be stewards, the need for unblocking closures that inhibit the entirety of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. People spoke in terms of hoping for flexibility and the potentials for evaluating as things unfolded.

The ossified leadership within East Bay Sierra Club chapters has grown increasingly bizarre in its policy positions. They have opposed bike lanes and transit-oriented development. They have even endorsed anti-BRT candidates for Berkeley City Council.

Their actions are completely at odds with policies adopted by the Sierra Club’s National Board of Directors. Indeed, the “official” Sierra Club policy specifically encourages bike access on trails where safety and environmental quality are not compromised. When will the National organization start requiring local chapters to comply with Sierra Club policy?

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It is amazing how the highway lobby gets their hands on all the money. When a BART extension project took tracks over Mission Blvd in Fremont, the highway lobby used the opportunity for a massive $150 million road widening:


This monster freeway interchange lies just south of the new Warm Springs BART station. The entire station area has been surrounded by a moat of highways and freeway interchanges.

Even though there have been various bike plans for the south Fremont area, none of it has been built (unless you count riding on the shoulder of a high speed arterial). So good luck using the new BART station to generate walkable, bikeable TOD development that was promised. And anyone dumb enough to try biking through there will suffer the consequences.

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This legislative session has already seen bills that would mandate helmets and orange safety vests. A ban on headphones can also be added to the list: SB 491 would prohibit the use of ear buds while riding a bicycle.

The Legislative Analyst summary describes this change as “non-controversial” because existing law already prohibits the use of full ear-covering headsets. Well, one wonders whether the analyst gets out much. Whereas there are hardly any cyclists out there riding around with studio headphones, iPhone-style ear buds are extremely popular. This bill would criminalize a very common behavior among cyclists.

Like the helmet legislation, an ear bud ban sounds sounds great in theory (no pun intended), but lacks any studies or data to back it up. It is unlikely to improve safety, or even change cyclist behavior. But it will almost certainly serve as a pretext for police to harass minorities.

And given the way “distracted walking” has become a thing, then it is not inconceivable that pedestrians will one day get the same treatment.

Cyclist wearing headphones in Copenhagen (www.copenhagenize.com)

Cyclist wearing headphones in Copenhagen (Copenhagenize)

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Here is a safety tip for cyclists in Florida. When stopped by the police, do not perform a side-dismount, by putting both feet down on one side of the bike. The officer may interpret that as an intent to flee, making you eligible for summary execution:

The dashcam video shows that Stephens looks back, then continues about 20 more feet to his friend’s house, where he gets off the bike. Lin is now even more convinced that Stephens is about to take off on foot, not because he got off the bike, but because he put both feet over the same side to do so.

“The manner he stopped and got off his bicycle was consistent with someone who had run from me in the past,” Lin said in a deposition: a “rolling run” where someone jumped off with both feet on one side and just kept going.

Four seconds later, Officer Lin shot the cyclist four times, leaving him paralyzed. An internal investigation cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.

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Tampa police have written 2,504 bike tickets — more than Jacksonville, Miami, St. Petersburg and Orlando combined.

Police say they are gung ho about bike safety and focused on stopping a plague of bike thefts.

But here’s something they don’t mention about the people they ticket: Eight out of 10 are black.

Just go read the entire article. It is beyond belief. The part that struck me the most, however, was that the “Bicycle Blitzkrieg” squad actually made the streets more dangerous for cyclists:

Despite the thousands of hours spent by police, court clerks, public defenders, prosecutors and judges on enforcement of bicycle laws, it’s hard to tell what Tampa gets out of them.

Even though 2013 was one of the department’s highest ticketing years, bike crashes still rose the following year by 20 percent. Bike thefts, too, climbed 15 percent.

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Now here is a sensible bill for consideration by the California legislature:

Over the last year, Off the Chain Bike Bus Tours has ferried party goers between local bars and breweries. One thing that’s been missing from these vehicles is the ability to serve alcohol on the multi-person bikes.

Dr. Richard Pan, a state senator from Sacramento, wants to fix that. He has introduced SB 530, which would: “Regulate the operation of quadricycles. The bill would define a quadricycle, in part, as being pedal-powered and seating no more than 15 passengers. The bill would provide that a person operating a quadricycle on the highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle, including a prohibition against operating a quadricycle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug. The bill would authorize consumption of alcoholic beverages by passengers on a quadricycle, as specified, if the local jurisdiction has authorized that consumption by ordinance or resolution.

California law already allows 21-and-older riders on “party” buses to drink alcohol. If bikes have all the “rights and responsibilities” as motor vehicles, then it only makes sense to permit alcohol on pedal-powered buses too.

Beer Bike in Berlin

Beer Bike in Berlin

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