Bike First Aid…

6 06 2013
First Aid kits...

First Aid kits…

I rarely need a first aid kit when I ride, but the odd time I have needed it [for someone else] I was glad to have it with me. I’m no good at remembering to move F/A kits between packs and bags. So I bought 4 or 5 of these small kits and I leave one in each pack or bag I use regularly. They are cheap and they’ll last a long time before needing replacement so they are a good investment.

I also have a large first aid kit in my truck.

Knowing how to do CPR is an essential skill you need to go with your first aid kit.





Travel Document Security…

12 05 2013

Scan your important documents…

Losing your important documents while traveling can be a huge problem. You can’t get on an international flight without your passport and you can’t pay for a hotel without your credit card/bank card if you don’t have cash.

Here is what I do when I am going on a major trip:

  • check that all my documents are up to date
  • check that the magnetic strips on my credit cards and bank cards are in good shape
  • renew/replace as needed
  • scan all my documents and both sides of any cards into PDF files
  • I print a copy and leave at home
  • I print another copy and leave with a friend
  • I use my Gmail account or an online drop box service to store copies of these PDFs for access on the road

This way if I lose some or all of my documents I can either look them up myself online and/or have someone at home help me get back on track.

A few more tips:

  • have at least 2 credit cards and 2 bank cards so you can lose one and still keep on traveling without a huge hassle
  • store the spare cards somewhere besides your wallet so it less likely you’ll lose both at once
  • keep enough cash on you for several days of traveling so if you lose your cards you have time to sort out how you’ll access more money
  • if you can’t lock your valuables while traveling hide them instead
  • when I am beach camping I just bury my cash and documents in the sand for security




Dakine Kiteboard Hook Knife…

5 12 2012

Dakine Hook Knife…

One of the hazards of kiteboarding is becoming entangled in your kite’s lines or another kiter’s lines during an “incident”. If the kite powers up the thin spectra lines will cut through flesh like a razor. The only way to quickly free yourself is if you can cut the lines wrapped around you. That’s where a hook knife comes in handy. The Dakine knife shown above costs $10 and is small so it can be stashed on your person for quick access in an emergency. The hook knife blade is designed to cut lines easily while keeping fleshy bits away from the blade. That’s good because in a panic situation you are likely to be flailing around like a drunk octopus!

Dakine Nitrous harness and hook knife…

The real trick is how do you carry a hook knife with you while kiteboarding so it’s easy to access, doesn’t get lost and isn’t a hassle?

Dakine spreader bar and pad with hook knife installed…

If you are using a Dakine spreader bar and pad you’ve got a built in pocket on the pad pointing down. The pocket is big enough for the hook knife and there is some velcro to mate up with the knife’s pull tab so it stays secure until you need it.

Hook knife partially pulled out of the pad…

This setup is good, but has a couple issues:

  1. The knife can fall out of the pad’s pocket in use or when being transported. That’s not tragic as it only costs $10 so the occasional replacement knife isn’t a financial burden. You can help avoid lost knives by pushing it deep into the pad’s pocket and making sure the velcro is fully engaged with the knife’s pull tab. This makes losing the knife less likely at the expense of making pulling the knife out slightly harder. To my way of thinking that’s a reasonable trade off to ensure the knife is there when you need it.
  2. The pocket under the pad  isn’t ideal for emergency access because it’s going to be underwater, the knife’s pull tab is small, you may be wearing gloves and the bar area could be tangled in kite lines.

Dakine Hook Knife and sheath…

I think the best place for the knife would be on the breast of my impact vest where I could see it and easily access it in an emergency. I don’t know of any impact vests made with a knife pocket. However, the Dakine knife comes with nylon sheath that a crafty person could sew onto their impact vest. I haven’t bothered because the pad pocket solution is good enough for me given that a line entanglement is not a frequent occurrence, but if someone made an impact vest with a knife pocket I would buy it.

Note handy side pocket…

If you ride in surf shorts most of them have a side pocket for a wax comb/wax. You can put your hook knife in here. The access isn’t quite as convenient as the Dakine pad pocket, but it’s very secure so the knife won’t get lost.





Mountain Bike First Aid…

9 11 2012

Mini-Medical Kit…

On my recent trip to Moab one of the group had a serious hand injury and was bleeding like a stuck pig. There were 4 ER doctors with us and not one had a band aid. Luckily I had a small first aid kit and they used it to stop the bleeding and dress the wound.

What’s in it…

I’ve been sporadically carrying a small first aid kit on my MTB rides, but I use two different packs and sometimes the kit gets thrown in my bikepacking frame bag and forgotten so I don’t always have it with me. To remedy that I bought a second FA kit at MEC and I’ll have one in each MTB pack I use so I don’t have to think about it.

I’lll also put the following in each pack:

  • headlamp [check the batteries once a month and recharge as needed]
  • cell phone in waterproof case
  • space blanket
  • energy bars x 2
  • ultralight windbreaker

It’s not much, but it will be useful if we have an injury on a cold dark night 30mins ride or a 2hrs hobble back to the car.





Bike Friday Tikit Stem Safety Inspection…

3 10 2012

Click to jump to the Tikit inspection protocol…

Bike Friday is advising owners that they should check their Tikit’s stem mast for cracks. You can click on the image above to jump to the web page with instructions for the required inspection protocol. You can register your Tikit at this link to ensure you receive info from Bike Friday about this issue.

Bike Friday is telling Tikit owners not to ride their bikes until the problem is fully investigated. That’s definitely the most cautious route and it makes sense for them given the potential liability costs of even one accident.

My understanding is that this problem has affected 5 bikes out of 4000 that have been made so far. Clearly a stem mast failure is serious, but it’s not common problem.

Personally I inspected my Tikit and I have no cracks so I’ll continue to ride my bike, but I’ll check the stem mast every week to ensure that no cracks start. To be clear that’s a personal risk assessment. I’m not recommending Tikit owners ride their bikes or suggesting it’s safe. If you choose to ride your Tikit you do so at your own risk.

I appreciate the head’s up from Bike Friday about this. I’m sure they’ll figure out what’s going on and resolve the issue fully for their customers. Sharon’s keen on getting a Tikit at some point and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another bike from Bike Friday.

I’ve been doing stupid stuff like this on my Tikit since 2007…

I have been unofficially torture testing my Tikit by riding down stairs and jumping off curbs since 2007. My stem mast hinge is in perfect shape. Again not a recommendation that you try the same stuff with your bike, but I just wanted to put things in perspective.





Lose the helmets…

2 10 2012

Click to read the article over at the NY Times…





The Invisible Bicycle Helmet…

17 08 2012




Bike Friday Tandem Brakes….

5 04 2012

Note a front disc and v-brake posts...

I was asked about the brakes on our Bike Friday Tandem Traveller XL over at my Flickr site and thought I would share the answer here for wider dissemination:

My Bike Friday tandem was ordered with disc brakes and v-brake mounts. I haven’t felt the need for extra braking at this point so we only have the discs mounted.

Like for any bikes there is no magic in v-brakes vs. discs. They both work. So you can pretty much pick whichever you prefer and use them.

Neither v-brakes or discs can take prolonged application before they’ll fail. V-brakes will heat up the rims and your tube will blow. Disc brakes will boil their hydraulic fluid, melt the plastic parts of the caliper and warp the rotor if overheated. Neither outcome will be pleasant with your GF on the back bombing down a mountain!

On a tandem the extra weigh without as much aero drag = extra speed on the downhills which can be a problem.

Are you saying we are so fat we need 4 brakes????

My suggestions are:

  1. if the roads are good sit up, take the lane and let the bike run without braking or minimal braking [I do this with my loaded touring bike frequently]
  2. if you need to brake a lot use pulse braking….slowing hard with front brake, releasing and then slowing hard with rear brake…then repeat. You’ll speed up to a top speed each pulse and then slow down to your bottom speed. Note the fast top speed allows a lot of air to flow over your brakes to cool them very effectively.
  3. add if a 3rd or 4th brake..in my case a v-brake front and rear possibly. Use pulse braking, but now you have 3 or 4 brakes to cycle through so you can brake more frequently without overheating.
  4. take a break or 3 on a steep descent to snap a picture or nimble something while your brakes cool.
  5. if you need more braking than you can get with pulse braking or you can’t be okay with the faster speeds of a pulse braking solution you can get a rear drag brake that will keep your speed lower since it’s on all the time. Keep in mind only a specially designed drum drag brake will do this safely. A disc or v-brake applied even very lightly, but constantly will quickly overheat and fail.

Our tandem team weighs ~300lbs + gear + bike…so probably close to 400lbs total on a ride with a lock and a light load of gear. My main strategy is #1 above….I just let the bike run as fast as she wants and brake only when I absolutely have to – which is infrequently. For a tour with full camping gear I’ll do some test runs locally and determine if I need an extra brake. If  so I’ll put a stoker controlled rear brake on.





OG CPR…

27 03 2012




The 70′s…

22 01 2012

So true...

I had a bike for at least a decade of great times before it became a dangerous activity that I needed to be protected from. I may have been born too late for the free love era, but at least I got to enjoy a childhood of carefree bicycling.





G-Form Pads…

27 12 2011

G-Form knee pads...

I wear knee and elbow pads on most MTB rides since buff singletrack is a thing of the distant past for me. My goto pads are taking a beating just from regular wear and tear of the elastic sleeve. They’ll need replacing in 2012. I found these G-Form low profile pads online and given the modest cost I may give them a shot. They don’t offer as much protection as my other pads, but for a lot of the riding I do which is just rocky/rooty techy XC stuff they may be perfect. They also look like they’ll keep my joints warm which in BC is another great reason to wear pads!

These pads got a Best Product of 2011 nod from PinkBike. So they probably don’t suck.

Photo: Wired

The SixSixOne pads I am currently using are shown below back when they looked nice and new. They are a great pad with a decent amount of protection for their size and don’t really get in the way when I ride, but at the same time you can’t help feel a little gladiatorial with them on…=-)

What I wear now...





Cyclist killed down the street…=-(

29 11 2011

Click here to read the whole story...

I don’t generally post cyclist accident reports. This one happened in my neighbourhood so I figured I would share it. It happened on a busy road I rarely cycle on, but at an intersection I cross a lot. I use some quieter secondary roads that are parallel to Burnside Rd if I need to head in that direction. It’s definitely a road that needs a bike lane if cyclists are to use it safely. As it stands I’d advise any local cyclists to avoid it when it’s busy at rush hour. Other than stating the obvious – cars/trucks shouldn’t hit cyclists – there isn’t much to say about this accident. The road in question is 4 lanes across and too narrow for bikes and cars to share the right most lanes. In theory vehicles should give cyclists the lane or cyclists should take the whole lane, but it’s so busy at rush hour that in practice that isn’t possible without sparking a road rage fuelled riot. It’s one of those roads that has been designed to kill cyclists unfortunately.

My thoughts go out to the family of the cyclist….=-(





Respro Hump Initial Review

30 09 2011

Hump details...

I received my Hump from Respro in the UK recently. Check out my initial post to get the lay of the land.

Small package - big visibility at night...=-)

Ordering was easy and the Hump arrived within a week with no customs charges or taxes. Shipping was free to Canada/USA.

No flash shot of Hump on my Ortlieb backpack...

The Hump I ordered is their highly reflective model made up of almost entirely reflective material. I love be reflective at night as it doesn’t need batteries and “activates” only when there is a car/bike behind you with their lights on. You never have to worry if it’s working or if you forgot to charge the batteries.

The Hump under flash power...

The Hump is a backpack cover. It has elastic trim and two straps with snap on fasteners at the ends. This makes it easy to install or remove from your backpack even with gloves on. It wouldn’t be easy to access your pack with the cover on so this is better for bike commuters than for folks running errands that require constant access.

My black Ortlieb backpack un-Humped...

You can move the Hump around between any backpacks you own that are ~15L-30L in size. That should work for most cyclists.

The same Ortlieb pack Humped...

The Hump comes in many colours including waterproof varieties and models with built in lights. The one I choose isn’t very bright in daylight which is okay as I am not looking to be a traffic cone, but for those who are there is a a Hump for you!…=-)

The other side of the Hump...

The Hump looks well made and durable. It should last many years. It’s thicker than the rain cover on my Camelbak Transalp backpack for example so it should be able to take some abuse.

Humping is a personal thing. Some choose to ump. Some choose not to Hump. If you do end up Humping send me some photos and a write up of your feelings about it…=-)

Update - Marcus commented and let me know there is a 25L-50L Hump as well…Let’s call it the Mega Hump. Fewer colour choices, but allows those who ride with big packs to Hump as well.Check out page 9 in this Respro Catalogue.





Respro The Hump…

20 09 2011

Respro Hi Viz Backpack Cover...

This is a backpack cover that adds to your visibility when on the road. It attaches to your regular backpack so you can move it around if you use different ones. Never needs batteries plus you can ride around with the word “HUMP” on your back letting the world know exactly where you stand when it comes to gender relations. They are sold in the UK by Respro and the price includes free worldwide shipping – I assume they use the VAT [now at 20%] that non-UKers don’t have to pay to cover shipping costs.

There are many different colour schemes for every taste. I’ve ordered the version shown above and will review it this winter in Victoria. I like the fact I can deploy it when I feel the need for more visibility and then put it away or leave it at home when I don’t feel the need and want to look like a normal human again.





BC Cyclist Fights Helmet Law…

14 08 2011

Back in the carefree madatory helmet law free Calgary days...

A BC cyclist is going to court to fight the province’s stupid mandatory helmet law for cyclists. Although I doubt he will win it’s great to see people pointing out how the law discriminates against cyclists and does not further public safety nor promote greater cycling participation. If there were a way to make this a class action suit I’d go ride my bike helmet-free in Victoria until I got a ticket so I could join!

Recently a friend was discussing the bike share/rent programs some cities and embracing where you can rent a bike at low cost at a kiosk and return it to another kiosk at the end of your ride. This would facilitate considerably more bike rides because you don’t need to be a dedicated cyclist with lock and a place to store a bike so you have it with you when you need it. Simply grab a bike and go. We then discussed whether or not you could implement such a program if in addition to a bike you had to rent the rider a properly fitting helmet that was not damaged which by law they had to wear no matter where or how they were riding?





Safe Camping…

13 08 2011

Safety first...

We were talking about camping safety last time we were at Lake Nitnaht and realized the number of tripping accidents was startling. With so many rocks and roots in the campground – not to mention all the fires and smoke walking is very hazardous. So we started wearing helmets every time we were walking around. Then we read online how camping chairs failed regularly sending their occupants tumbling backwards potentially hitting their heads on the ground so we decided it would be foolish to only wear our helmets while walking. Who wants to deal with a serious head injury because they were too lazy or fashion conscious to wear a helmet?

Note – the spare red helmet we kept on hand for anyone visiting out campsite. You gotta be safe if you want to hang with us!

Does this photo make you sad?

We tried to tell the younger generation that they needed to wear a helmet as they were especially at risk with all their playing, but only a few listened…=-( That girl in pink is one slip away from being a vegetable for the rest of her life…*sigh*

On the fence...

One of our friends was a doubter at first. He felt the campground was perfectly safe and only wanted to wear his helmet when out kiteboarding.

Thinking about it...

But we didn’t give up. We read him stats from the internet and told him stories about people we had heard about who were involved in horrible campground walking and sitting accidents.

I love safety...=-)

Eventually he came around! *big smiley face*

A new idea...

We asked this kid why he was wearing a life jacket in the campground and he was wise beyond his years….he said “…what if I trip and fall – breaking my ribs or puncturing a lung?…isn’t it smarter to eliminate that risk by wearing safety gear?…” We couldn’t argue with that! So we made a deal with him that we would all wear our life jackets in camp if he’d wear his helmet from the time he woke up until he went to bed.

Some people don't get it!

What made us really sad was all the people who took the trouble to buy helmets, pack them and transport them up to the lake only to leave them laying about their campsites like they weren’t needed…=-( How many tragic camping chair accidents do we have to have before people start to get it through their head’s that this isn’t a joke??!!.=-(





Free SPOT Mount…

5 08 2011

Not quite right...

I bought the wrong RAM mount for my SPOT satellite beacon. As you can see my SPOT is too small to fit the RAM mount. If you have the older style SPOT shown below and want this mount just comment and I’ll ship it to you free. I will give preference to a local pick up.

New SPOT on left - old on right...





T-Bone!

27 07 2011

One Grand Bois 700 x 32mm tire + tube toast...

Sharon called me yesterday AM after leaving for work on her bike. I knew that wasn’t good because she never calls me while riding and rarely even when at work [we email and text during the day]. I could tell she’d had an accident by her voice and after making sure she wasn’t badly hurt figured out a spot to meet that I could drive over and collect her broken bike.

That's not the usual bar setup...

We loaded her bike in the back of my truck and I quickly checked that she didn’t need to go to the hospital for treatment. She was banged up and had some road rash, but nothing we couldn’t address at home.

A bit of grindage...

I got the full story on the drive home. Sharon was cruising on the bike path to work. Her speed was likely 14-18kph. When another cyclist T-boned her as he entered the bike path at 90 degrees to traffic flow without slowing down to check for traffic. She barely saw him before she was down on the ground. Our local bike paths see very high traffic at commuting hours and I often have to stop and wait for 10-20 bikes to go by before I can turn onto the path myself. It was a bonehead move that could have seriously hurt someone. As it was Sharon’s bike was unrideable and she spent the day in bed icing her knees and wrists.

More grindage...

Luckily she didn’t sustain any serious injuries. The most painful bits were the areas of road rash that she received through her clothing as she was wearing pants, a jacket and gloves.

The Donkey Boxx got scuffed and saved the bike frame from damage - thanks Donkey!

The bike landed on it’s right side and slide for a bit. Luckily that’s the side with the Donkey Boxx mounted. It wasn’t damaged and it saved Sharon’s Surly Cross Check frame from any paint removal.

Gear Damage:

  • Grand Bois tire $65+ $10 shipping
  • Tube $4
  • Pedal and brake lever scrapped, but serviceable
  • Bar tape scrapped $14
  • Donkey Boxx scuffed, but serviceable
  • Front fender tweaked, but not permanently damaged
  • Shower Pass jacket scuffed and torn in a couple places $40 to repair
  • Pants damaged $75 to replace
  • Gloves damaged $40 to replace
  • Total = ~$250

Beaten up, but not broken!

Of course you can always buy more gear so the main thing is Sharon is doing okay. She stayed home from work yesterday and is going in today, but she’s shuffling around the house gingerly with a variety of spots on her body that are in pain. I was concerned this might put her off bike commuting, but she’s ordered up some new Grand Bois tires and I found something in the garage I can throw on the front of her bike to get her rolling while we wait for the nicer rubber to arrive. I imagine she’ll be off her bike until next Tuesday so she has time to heal a bit.

The sad part about all this is that the guy that hit her didn’t damage his bike and after making sure he didn’t kill her he rode off and got on with his day!…=-(
 





NoHelmetLaw.org.uk

22 07 2011

I'm wearing a helmet in Sedona Az...

Lane from CETMA racks/cargo bikes shared this link on his Facebook page from a site in the UK advocating for in their own words: “…a site which exists to promote one of the most controversial ideas in modern Britain: that cycling is a safe and healthy activity…”

I used a photo in this post from a MTB trip to Sedona, AZ. There is no mandatory bicycle helmet law in Sedona, but I chose to wear a helmet and heavy duty elbow and knee/shin pads that day based on my evaluation of the risk of the riding we were going to do on the trails. Later that day when we rode slowly 3 blocks from our hotel to grab a coffee I didn’t wear a helmet because I didn’t feel the risk warranted it. I’m not anti-helmet or anti-safety. I’m anti-stupid and anti-ineffective – which is what I feel about mandatory helmet laws in relation to their impact on bike safety and health.

Snippet from the site...

If you are interested in reading the site go for it. He makes a lot of good points worthy of consideration. I’m not suggesting you have to agree or you shouldn’t wear a helmet when you ride your bike. I’m not trying to change your mind. Do whatever you think is right for you.





Got SPOT!

18 07 2011

SPOT satellite beacon...

I’ve been keeping my eye on the new SPOT Connect satellite beacon that connects to your iPhone so it can send short text msgs via satellite in addition to the normal SPOT SOS & tracking functions. It hasn’t gotten high enough on my To Buy List to fit into my budget yet, but Kurt had a new SPOT beacon he received as a warranty replacement for his older model unit. He is a fulltime student for the next few years so he wasn’t keen on spending the $$$ to activate the SPOT service given his limited free time to get into trouble! So he gave it to me to use. It will come in handy on brevets and road trips so Sharon can keep tabs on me!

Operating instructions...

I’ll use this SPOT for the next year or two and see how the SPOT Connect product develops. Richard left me a comment on a previous SPOT post to let me know DeLorme was working with satellite phone company Iridium to make a satellite messaging unit similar to the SPOT Connect called  inReach. It’s clear basic satellite messaging capabilities are going to be more and more common so holding off a couple years should open up quite a few options.





Safety makes me sad…=-(

17 07 2011

This what I love about SUPing...

When I saw my first stand up paddle boarder [SUPer] down in Hood River OR I loved how simple an activity it was. You just needed a board and a paddle. You could use it on a lake, river or in the ocean. You could paddle for distance or catch waves. So simple. So much fun. I got a couple SUPs and have enjoyed them in Canada, the US and Mexico. It’s a great way to get some exercise and so easy to teach someone that it’s an awesome way to get your friends out on the water.

Sadly my days of SUPing like in the photo above have come to an end – at least at home….=-( The local Coast Guard has decided that a SUP is a small boat and must have life jackets aboard. There is some uncertainty if a SUP also needs a throw rope, a signaling device and other safety gear…*sigh*! Trying to SUP with a life jacket on is hard and not much fun due to the paddling motion. The rules don’t actually require you to wear the life jacket so if you can figure out a way to attach it to the board you can paddle without one on, but now it catches the wind and makes staying on course harder.

What’s really dumb of course is that a SUP is a personal flotation device! A much more effective one than a life jacket – especially one you don’t have to wear. SUPers have tried unsuccessfully to argue that the rules should require a SUPer to wear a leash which keeps them attached to their board rather than requiring a PFD. Under the current rules a SUPer could fall off their board and watch it sail away out of swimming distance with the PFD legally secured to the nose acting like a sail! Unfortunately this is far too rationale an approach for the authorities.

I’ve heard arguments made that SUPers need a life jacket because they could fall off their board and hit their head on it rendering themselves unconscious. It sounds reasonable, but upon further examination this is just more safety illogic. First off the rules don’t require SUPers to wear a PFD. They just have to have one aboard their vessel. Secondly the approved PFDs a sea kayaker or SUPer would wear do not support the head out of the water so an unconscious person will drown – it will just be easier to find the dead body!

So what am I going to do?

  • I haven’t SUP’d near home in Victoria this year and I’m not highly motivated to given all the stupid rules being enforced for my safety.
  • There is no Coast Guard presence up at Nitnaht Lake and SUPers can paddle their boards with sanity prevailing at this remote lake.
  • Mexico doesn’t have any Safety Nazis enforcing goofy rules so SUPing there is still sensible and I’ll bring my SUPs south of the border when I can.
  • I’m looking at an inflatable PFD at MEC. It costs $150 adds nothing to my safety given my 200L SUP flotation device, but it would get the authorities off my back so I may have to get one.
  • I won’t modify my SUPs to strap a life jacket to the nose because 1) that’s a stupid place for a PFD and 2) I take them into the surf and any thing that can catch on your skin/wetsuit when tumbling in the waves is a safety hazard for real!
  • Bottom line I’ll just SUP less than I would have last year when they didn’t enforce these rules.

Prior to the enforcement of these idiotic rules I was really hopeful that SUPing would be a game changer as it’s the simplest and cheapest way to get folks out on the water for some fun exercise. However, making people wear a PFD which hinders their ability to paddle or forcing them to spend $150 on an inflatable PFD will just add another hurdle to the process which will simply mean less people getting exercise and being a bit healthier.

I think we should start a new safety campaign - “Be most saferest! Stay at home in front of your TV and order a pizza. No helmet or life jacket required!

What really makes me laugh is that kiteboarding is way more dangerous than either biking or SUPing and no helmet or PFD is required. Not to mention that I can skateboard around Victoria without a helmet, but if I want to ride one of those dangerous bicycles I have to strap on a skid lid ’cause the can kill you….LMAO!

If our goal as a society is to make getting exercise outdoors a pain in the butt we should congratulate ourselves – we are succeeding!





Bike Wrapper Pre-view

9 06 2011

Sharon Surly Cross Check Bike Wrapped!

Bike Wrappers are a set of 3 velcro attached cloth sleeves for your bike’s frame. They have two sides: fashion [shown above] and reflective silver. The fashion side dresses up your bike and also protects the frame from leaning up against poles, bike racks or walls. The reflective side offers some extra visibility when you are out at night.

Hearts...

Switching between the fashion and the reflective sides takes a few seconds. You can also swap a set of Bike Wrappers between two different bikes very quickly.

Naked Cross Check at night...

Bike Wrappers are well made and pretty snazzy in fashion mode, but do they add a lot of visibility to your bike at night?

Bike Wrappers fashion mode at night...

I’ll be away a fair bit for the next couple weeks so I didn’t have time for any elaborate testing. I just setup the bike in my yard and shoot some flash photos from various angles to get an idea of what the bike would look like at night.

Reflective side of Bike Wrappers on frame...

So far the results are promising. You definitely get some addition pop from the Bike Wrappers when the reflective side is installed and you hit it with some light.

Fashion side installed from rear at an angle...

In general I don’t think having reflectors on the side of your bike is that useful because by the time they are in a car’s headlights you are either about to be hit or you are fine.

Reflective side out from an angle to the rear...

So I tried some shots from the rear at an angle and then from almost directly behind the bike.

Fashion side out from almost directly to the rear...

I didn’t bother from to shoot any photos from directly behind the bike as the Bike Wrappers wouldn’t be visible and the bike’s rear reflectors would cover that angle of approach well.

Almost directly from the rear with reflective side out...

In all these test the Bike Wrappers add significantly to your night time visibility when installed with the reflective side out, but of course there was no rider on the bike to obscure the Bike Wrappers. I suspect the rider’s body/legs will generate a strobe effect as the bike moves through a driver’s line of sight.

When I get back from my travels I’ll setup a more realistic experiment with my F150 and a video camera where I ride past the F150 and we’ll see how effective the Bike Wrappers are in that test.

Looking good...=-)

For now Sharon is pretty stoked about her jazzed up Cross Check and she’ll be using her Bike Wrappers on her daily commute to test how they stand up to regular use. I’ve got a set of more manly black/white/silver Bike Wrappers I’ll install on my 26″ Surly LHT build. We’ll provide some additional review comments later in the summer.





Yehuda Moon on Tailights…

20 04 2011





MEC Reflective Sash Hack…

13 04 2011

MEC sash...

I like these Cactus Creek reflective sashes from MEC. They pack down small and are light so you can carry one with you anytime darkness may fall before you get home. They add a nice amount of visibility to your upper body when a car or bike’s lights hit them. They do have one flaw – the lower end/flap always rides up and ends up near your ear on a ride. This doesn’t affect the functionality of the sash, but it is annoying to have it flapping by your ear so you end up readjusting it every 10 minutes. That’s a PITA!

My Twoonie hack...

So I placed a $2 coin [called a Twoonie in Canada] in the flap area to add weight. I fold the flap around it and did a poor job sewing the flaps into a makeshift pocket. This keeps the coin in place and keeps my sash in place as well. Sweet!

Coin enclosed and ready to sew shut...

I also now have $2 available for a bonk emergency can of Coke or Snickers bar!





These are NOT bike lights!

6 04 2011

MEC white Turtle light...

Update: I revived this year old post because I’ve been seeing a lot of these non-bike lights on bikes lately and realized something – in addition to all the problems I list below the fact their low power forces cyclists to use them on flash mode to try and get everyone’s attention. This works to a degree, but the result is a very obnoxious dazzling effect if you happen to be right in the narrow beam of one of these lights and not all that much visibility for the cyclist if you are not. That’s plain bad for everyone involved. Get something that uses rechargeable batteries, that’s got a reasonable amount of power and use it on steady mode.

I’m going to pick on MEC a bit here, but to be fair there are many versions of these cheap key chain lights floating around made and sold by various companies.  Note I called them key chain lights not bike lights.  They provide plenty of light to see something in a dark tent or to use while repairing a flat tire.  They absolutely do not provide enough light to be seen by at night in the city. Not even if you double up on them and have two on each end of your bike.

The sad part is that because stores like MEC sell them as bike lights lots of people assume they must work in that application and grab a red one….if they are feeling spendy maybe also a white one for the front…then they ride around town at night assuming they are visible to motorists…even though they are not.

This isn't a bike taillight...

Here is what’s wrong with them:

  • they use a low power LED with a small battery = poor amount of light emitted.
  • they dim dramatically as the small battery gets used which puts out even less light. Especially when it’s cold out.
  • the max amount of light is emitted along a narrow range of angles from the front of the light.
  • the simple mounting method of a stretchy band doesn’t maintain the angle of adjustment well and provides a limited range of angles you can set the light at…all of which means a car driver will likely get only a small amount of the little light that comes out of the unit.
  • batteries are expensive [for the power they provide], not rechargeable and hard to change so lots of people run them until they are dead even though the amount of light put out during the last 50% of the battery’s run time is pathetic.
  • they give riders the false sense of security by making them feel like they are visible in traffic when the are not visible at all.

Turbo Turtle light

MEC also sells the Turbo Turtle light which was two LEDs in it.  It’s still not a bike light.  It’s just a better key chain light.

So what would I recommend?

  • buy yourself a good red bike tail light like the Planet Bike Superflash and get some rechargeable batteries for it.  Not only will this be better for the environment, but you’ll save $$$ if you ride at night a lot.
  • buy yourself a decent 1w or 2w white LED for the front of your bike like the MEC Shark as well as some rechargeable batteries.
  • I would also recommend you get some reflective material on you in addition to a proper bike light.  There are lots of options, but my favourites are reflective leg bands.  They are cheap, never run out of batteries and keep your pants out of the chain!  I keep one or two permanently on the handle bars of each of my bikes just in case I stay out after dark unexpectedly.
  • Now assuming you’ve done the things I recommended above if you want to add some of these key chain lights to your bike or helmet as an emergency back up to your main lights and/or to add even more visibility go for it.  That’s an appropriate use for lights of their performance level.

$12CDN gets you these bike lights!

What if I can’t afford real bike lights?

  • well first off key chain lights are not cheap…the MEC Turbo Turtle lights run $4.50 each [$9.00 for a set white & red] compared to $12.00 for the decent MEC light set in the photo above.  Use both for a year and see which batteries cost you more to keep running…not even considering the fact you’ll get way more light out of the real bike lights.
  • okay so what if you can only afford $5 for one red MEC turtle light?  Save some money and buy one reflective ankle band for $3.25.  Then ride your bike assuming no one can see you at night.  You’ll be safer than riding confidently with one red key chain light on your bike.  The reflective material works with a car’s powerful headlights to illuminate you better than a key chain light.




Dave Horton: Fear of Cycling

30 03 2011

At least she's wearing a helmet!

I came across this interesting discussion of how fear plays a key role in keeping people off bikes via the Los Alamos Bikes Blog. Both links are worth a read if this subject interests you.

Read the full article here:

“Cycling has formed part of UK society for over a century. For much of that time, the bicycle was the most numerous vehicle on the roads, a major means of everyday mobility (Alderson 1972; McGurn 1999). But the amount of cycling in the UK has fallen dramatically and more or less continuously over the last half century; it accounted for 37 per cent of all journeys in 1949, but accounts for only around one per cent today (Department for Transport 2002). The number of cycles bought has never been higher, yet the number of cycling trips made on UK roads has never been lower.

Across government, cycling is now seen as ‘a good thing’. But despite growing pro-cycling rhetoric and policy in the UK, many people appear remarkably reluctant to ‘get on their bikes’. Why? Discussion about impediments to cycling tends to concentrate on lack of good cycling infrastructure, such as cycling routes and cycle parking. Seemingly insurmountable barriers, such as hilly topography, high levels of rainfall and cold winters, are also considered influential. But what about emotional barriers to cycling?

Numerous studies have shown fear to be a significant barrier to cycling (British Medical Association 1992; Davies et al 1997; Gardner 1998; Gardner and Ryley 1997; Pearce et al 1998; Ryley 2004). One study based on quantitative and qualitative research, Barriers to Cycling (CTC et al1997, 7), concludes ‘the most prominent practical barriers perceived to be deterring potential cyclists were danger and safety’. The UK Department for Transport (2007, 2) reports that 47 per cent of adults ‘strongly agree that “the idea of cycling on busy roads frightens me”‘. Nor is fear of cycling confined to the UK. Gary Gardner (2002, 76) reports how, in ‘surveys in three U.S. cities in the early 1990s, more than half of respondents cited lack of safety as an influential factor in their decisions not to cycle’. This fear of cycling impinges on cycling promotion; for example, one person who tried to encourage colleagues to cycle to work during National Bike Week notes that: ‘Several people have criticised my efforts as irresponsible as cycling is “Dangerous” and by encouraging it we are putting employees at risk’ (email to cycle-planning discussion group, June 2004).”

 





No Promise of Safety…

27 03 2011

Photo: No Promise of Safety

Someone [sorry I've misplaced the person's name!...=-(] posted this website’s URL in the comments section of my blog. I’ve only scratched the surface reading about their exploits, but so far I love it.

Here is what they say about No Promise of Safety:

“Most of us enjoy the benefit of living in a safe society. We live within defined and defended borders. We sleep soundly under the ever reaching umbrella of government protection. Our food and water are monitored, our consumer products tested. Cups of coffee are sold with warning labels, “this is hot.” Seat belts are required on most roads in most developed countries.  The benefits of this recent rise of safety cannot be denied. Infant mortality is down, life expectancy is up, and more and more people are gaining the material markers of a so called “modern world.”

But what of the detriment they have caused? Adventure has become a packaged commodity. One can take an afternoon course in skydiving, or a pre-planned six day trip to Jerusalem. Even Everest has become a tourist trap. Rich men and women shelling out six figures for a guided treck up the mountain. The danger has been minimized for the convenience of the consumer; the difficult planning already done.  These adventures are not adventures at all. They are vacuum packed, sanitized bastardizations of an original independent spirit.

The things described on this site are not “safe” in the way that modern society has come to understand safety. We are not experts in our field. We don’t always use tested and accepted equipment. We don’t always go where it is deemed safe for us to go.  The risks are plain and clear to all involved, but we face them and weigh the options. Climb that crane and take a slight risk of death or incarceration? Or stay home and watch another uninspiring television show? Rather than pursue solely the recreational products and services offered to us we choose to follow our own aims.

Want to summit that skyscraper? No need to jump through hoops trying to arrange a guided tour. Just use your own head and get up there yourself. When you abandon the child-parent relationship between yourself and society and start to act and think for yourself a whole new world will open up. The consequences truly pale in comparison because, lets face it, what we do is not that dangerous and a night in the cells is really not that bad.

Don’t approve? Hey at least we don’t kill innocent people.

Photo: No Promise of Safety

No Promise of Safety is Vikapproved…=-)





I heart helmets…=-)

26 03 2011

Mtn biking I fall off my bike regularly...

I own several helmets and I do wear them.

I’

Fast road riding...

I think they are great pieces of gear that can be very useful. I don’t wear a helmet 24/7. I put a helmet on when I feel the activity warrants it.

I'm a fall waiting to happen on a mtn board!

I use a few guidelines to determine if I should wear a helmet:

  1. am I likely to fall/crash?
  2. if so how fast am I going and what can I hit?
  3. is the activity more dangerous than taking a shower or driving my truck?
  4. special conditions [ie. sickness, icy roads, fog, etc...]

I was going to keep going with a logical analysis of how I used helmets to back up my whole rationale safety post. The problem is when I looked into my helmet use more closely I discovered to my dismay I am not very logical about when and why I wear a helmet…=-(

Kiteboarding helmet & impact vest for 30' high crashes!

I don’t wear a helmet at home in the shower even though it’s pretty damn dangerous:

“Nobody ever expects a home accident to happen, but a slip down the stairs or a kitchen grease fire can happen in the blink of an eye — even with careful homeowners. In England alone in 2007, nearly 2.7 million people were injured in a home accident. In the United States, injury is the leading cause of death among children and young adults and nearly half of these accidents occur in the home, according to the National Safety Council. That same group states that in 2002, there were more than 33,000 deaths and 8,000,000 disabling injuries that occurred in the home. That makes one death every 16 minutes and one disabling home injury every four seconds. When it comes to injury and death in home accidents, the leading culprits are falls, toxins and suffocation by ingested object or smoke inhalation.”

I don’t wear a helmet in my truck even though driving is pretty damn dangerous:

“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S.1 More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009.2 The economic impact is also notable: the lifetime costs of crash-related deaths and injuries among drivers and passengers were $70 billion in 2005.”

Watch out for the trees!

Now I could just put on a helmet the moment I woke up in the AM and then keep it on until I was back in bed that night. However, I’m a wild  man. I jump into the shower each AM and lather up without a care in the world. Sure the bathroom is competing with the kitchen for most deadly room in the house, but I am so bold that I not only don’t wear a helmet in the shower I add liquid soap to the mix just to make my footing less secure. No seriously I do! If that wasn’t enough I then pad over to the kitchen [again with no helmet on] and get something to eat. Like bacon, eggs and toast with no body armour or eye protection – let alone a skid lid.

I suppose because of this crazy reckless attitude I’ve become immune to fear and after breakfast I’ll climb into my truck and get this…not wearing even a baseball cap…I’ll drive through rush hour traffic to get to a meeting.

So when it comes to sports I weigh the risks up against the crazy death defying deeds I do every AM. If the activity is more dangerous I put on a helmet and possibly some other protective gear. If not I don’t.

Now before you leave me a comment I know what someone will say…“…are you nuts you can easily slip in the shower and crack your skull open!…I wear a helmet in the shower and in the kitchen…It doesn’t bother me and if I do fall I’ll sure be glad I had it on…” This is all very true. The bathroom is indeed the most dangerous room in the house for falls and car accidents are the #1 cause of brain injuries. So I cannot deny that it’s possible I could fall and hurt myself or dent my brain in a car wreck.

And yes you are also right that it’s a bit silly for me to wear a helmet road biking when I’ve never even fallen off a road bike once in my life – yet I’ve slipped in the bathroom several times and I’ve had 4 or 5 car crashes. So why no helmet where it really matters? I’m a kook. I’ll admit it. I don’t want to look like a geek driving around town in my truck. Sure after the shower it’s the most dangerous thing I’ll do that day, but at some point you just gotta stop worrying and crank up the tunes…you know?

One of the most dangerous things I do all day and no helmet - WTF?

I’m a bit torn – my cavalier attitude aside. I mean I know a guy whose cousin’s wife’s uncle slipped in the shower at a hockey rink after a game and would have died if he didn’t still have his hockey helmet on. I guess it was cracked right in two where his head hit the water temperature knob. OTOH I’ve slipped in the bathroom, but never actually hit my head on anything. I had a full on tumble on the stairs between my kitchen and bathroom last year. I went from walking to BAM! on the ground laid out…not sure what happened and I didn’t hit my head, but I could have and it was over so fast I didn’t have time to protect my melon at all.

I guess I have to decide if I want to take risks at home and in the truck for the sake of style and convenience or be safer and wear a helmet as soon as I get out of bed. Tough choice frankly!





The Safety Myth…

24 03 2011

Who is the most safer-est cyclist?

Let me start with these three statements:

  1. Safety doesn’t exist. It’s an abstract concept that’s incorrectly utilized by cyclists to justify fear based reactions to the world around them.
  2. Fear is a reactionary emotional state that results in impulsive decisions that are not arrived at using rationale thought processes.
  3. The number one threat to cycling in North America is fear – nothing else comes close to doing the same damage.

Safety, as the term is used colloquially, is trying to express the lack of a significant negative outcome. So you rode your bicycle home from a friend’s place and you might text them when you get home..”Made it back safely.” As social shorthand for “I didn’t have an incident on the way home” I have no problem with word “safety”.

Where “safety” has started to hurt cyclists is when people disconnect the term from its meaning “lack of significant negative outcome” and start to re-conceptualize it as a positive thing that is additive. I call this Most-Saferism. To a Most-Safer-est cyclist “safety” is like a change jar that you fill towards a goal. If you keep adding enough “safety coins” you can eventually “buy a safety pizza” with it…=-) When in fact safety is not an additive quantity. You can’t accrue more and more safety.

As a simple example let’s look at safety gear/techniques for what it is – risk mitigation or the reduction of risk of a significant negative outcome. Imagine a shot glass on a bar and the bartender is a friend who starts pouring you a free shot of tequila. The liquid represents risk reduction in a specific situation, say riding home from a friend’s place at night on a quiet suburban road. Once the shot glass is full you can keep pouring tequila into the glass, but it just flows over the top and spills onto the bar. It’s wasted because once a risk or set of risks is mitigated doing additional things to reduce the risk is a waste of time and resources. I don’t know about you, but I hate to waste tequila!..=-)

What fuels this process is fear and anxiety. It’s shocking to me that one of the safest things I do everyday, cycling, is enmeshed in such an unhealthy culture of fear. People who don’t ride think cycling is dangerous, too physically taxing and painful. I can almost accept their misguided concerns since they don’t bike. What blows my mind is that there are lots of regular cyclists – heck I’ll go as far as saying most regular cyclists who are living in a world of fear verging on paranoia about riding bicycles. They’re worried about getting hurt, worried about getting flat tires, other mechanical failures, they worried about other cyclists getting hurt, they are worried about getting their bikes stolen or damaged when locking them up, drivers not treating them with the respect they deserve, worried about other cyclists not riding the same bikes or viewing them with disdain because they belong to a different bike tribe [roadies vs. commuters, recumbents vs. upright bikes, fixed gear vs. everyone!], etc… Just read any online cycling forum for as much fearful content as you can handle.

The trouble with fear is that it’s an unlimited resource. You can have as much as you want and when you need more you can have it! So in that tequila shot glass example it takes the fatal flaw with Most-Saferism and solves the problem by giving you an endless supply of fear to spill on the bar. I mean if one light is safe and two lights is safer than 5 lights aimed all over has to be the  Most-Safer-est right? No wait 6 lights has to be even Most-Safer-est-er…damn no it’s 7, etc…You can’t argue with a Most-Safer-est cyclist for the same reason you can’t argue with someone who is paranoid – their worldview is not based in reality and they are using fear to justify whatever emotional response they are feeling at that moment. They’ll use some irrational logic like “…it can’t hurt…” or quote a statistically invalid anecdote to support their un-logic.

Since these reactions happen so frequently it’s worth taking a moment to expose their flaws…

Mmmmmm...safety!

It can’t hurt!

I cry inside a little every time someone says this to me…it’s so sad…=-(  It actually is hurting them a lot and in that very moment. Here’s why.

Your brain is a computer. It’s got a bunch of programs running, but the most important and challenging one is called Your Reality. Note I wrote “your” reality…not reality or “our” reality. You do not live in the world. The world lives in you…or at least a model of the world does. Consider for a moment what you think of as “The World” and how you gained the information about it you used to populate the model in your head. “The World” is a big complex place and you’ve only interacted with a small part of it. So how can you have this feeling like it’s a real thing when it’s built from such a limited data set? Your brain uses a sub-routine called MSU to fill in the blanks. MSU stands for “making shit up” or for the math geeks interpolation. If you’ve biked on one side of an apple orchard and seen rows of apple trees and you’ve biked on the other side and seen more rows of similar apple trees your brain fills in the gap between the roads with apple trees. Even though that farmer may have only planted apple trees along the roads and there are in fact pear trees all over the middle bit of his property. The more data you have about something, say your neighbourhood, the more finely resolved your model for reality in that area of “The World” is.

I was born in India, left when I was 3 and I went back when I was 10 and when I was 36. Given the size and complexity of India that amounts to nearly no data. Yet India exists in my brain and I feel like I have a sense of what goes on there. My model is poorly resolved, but since I don’t actually need a real working knowledge of India to be successful at my day to day life it causes me no problems.

By now you are wondering where the heck this is going. I don’t blame you!  Hold on we are almost there.

So your world is a model and you don’t have a lot of data about a lot of things. Since we are talking about cycling and safety…or more precisely about cycling without getting hurt – consider that there are very few cyclists riding around who have been hit by cars 10 times and lived to tell the tale. Most of us don’t have much data to incorporate into our cycling models about the negative outcomes that are possible because 99.99999% of us don’t get run over by a bus and the 0.00001% that do don’t chat much about their experiences since they are dead. So you are left with building your cycling model largely based on feelings and a few unreliable anecdotes. You can feel fearful and fill in all the blanks between stuff you actually know about cycling with negativity or you can be optimistic about cycling and view it as a very low risk activity with many benefits which fills the blanks with happy thoughts.

So fear and irrational anxiety doesn’t just hurt you down the road it hurts you the moment you accept it into your life. It’s the ultimate karmic kick in the butt.

What’s worse is the risk mitigation actions fearful cyclists take often are ineffective against the most likely risks they face so not only does the fear poison your reality all the time, but you still may end up under that bus. So sad…=-(

Photo: Anthony DeLorenzo

“One time at bike camp…”

The fact that someone you know got hurt on a bike is sad, but it doesn’t mean that cycling isn’t safe or that you need to be afraid of your bike. Cyclists love to talk about other cyclists getting hurt or killed. It’s like a morbid obsession that’s based in fear and feeds the vicious cycle of paranoia. People get hurt in the shower, in the basement, walking, driving, playing golf, etc… who cares? I do my very best to avoid reading online “cyclist got killed posts” because I just don’t give a shit. That’s not to say I don’t sympathize with the person who died or for their family, but the fact a cyclist died is of no more relevance to me than someone dying from a slip in the tub. It happens – that’s life – move along! Just so you don’t think I am a cold heartless bastard let’s be honest here – reading about an accident online or talking about it over coffee with your riding buddies is of no benefit to the person hurt/killed or their families any more than gawking at the scene of a car crash is useful to anyone involved. This behaviour isn’t about sympathy for the people involved it’s about feeding our own need for entertainment. Of course if your best friend was hit by a car around the block from where you live that’s a different situation and you have every right to talk about what happened and how you feel as you move through the grieving process.

As I noted above very few people live to be hit by cars again and again combine that with the fact that cycling is very safe so most cyclists have no real safety data to work with. When you made it home without incident last night was that because of your lime green safety vest or because you had the chicken vindaloo at dinner? You have no data to support either conclusion, but if you want to believe the vest is essential to your continued safety you’ll use that safe trip home as justification for wearing the vest. In fact it may have made no difference at all to your arriving safely home. You just don’t know so you have to MSU and why not err on the side of Most-Saferism? It can’t hurt!!

***sigh***

That looks dangerous!

You may be thinking that I’ve been super lucky and never had a close call before which is why I can look at things this way. Let me relate three quick anecdotes:

  1. my cousin’s wife decided to try sky diving. She jumped out of a plane one time and her chutes didn’t work so she hit the ground and died.
  2. I was nearly run over two summers ago when I was riding my MTB around town on an urban assault mission. The accident was my fault and I luckily bounced off the side of a truck when I fell into the road. Had the tuck been 10′ back I would have been dead.
  3. when I was a young officer in the army 14 of my friends and another 3 or 4 folks I didn’t know were killed in an explosive training accident. I completed the same training the following year.

It wouldn’t be hard to react emotionally to these types of incidents and decided the world was very dangerous and I better do whatever I could to stay as Most-Safer-est as I can. The trouble is I’d poison my everyday experiences with this irrational fear and I have no confidence that being negative or afraid would make me any less likely to have an accident.

Even in a very safe world sometimes bad stuff happens. There is nothing more to take from that…err….except maybe don’t ride your bike like a jackass in traffic!

Jedi Logic...

Fight fear with logic…

Assuming you don’t want to be Most-Safer-est how do you remain alive and unhurt without being afraid?

  • use your brain
  • look at the cycling you do and determine what are the most likely risks you face
  • be specific…consider being hit by a car isn’t as useful as considering being hit from behind when stopped at a traffic light
  • consider what you can do to mitigate the specific risk and the potential consequences
  • prioritize the options
  • select the ones that reduce the risk to an acceptable level
  • take action
  • stop thinking about it and ride your bike

This sounds like a lot of work, but in most situations there are only a few elements that result in the majority of the risk so by tackling a small number of things you are mitigating most of the risk. Additionally there are only a few situations you need to consider as a cyclist in any given area so once you’ve done this mental heavy lifting you only have to revise your plans to take into account changes on a specific occasion such as fog or the fact you are sick and don’t have the sharpest reflexes that day.

The real benefits of mitigating risk vs. increasing safety are that there is a finite amount you need to do to address a specific risk and since you are targeting a specific risk you can take action that most effectively addresses it. Trying to be Most-Safer-est is like trying to pack the right tools for an unspecified repair to your car vs. being told the fan belt is worn and may have to be replaced. In the first instance you have to either take every tool you own with you or guess what’s most likely to be used and then you’ll worry the whole time “…did I bring the right ones?…”…in the later instance you can bring along just the tools you need for the job and you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Let’s look at two common bike-car interactions and how a Most-Safer-est cyclist and how a logical cyclist addresses them.

  1. getting hit from behind while riding or while stopped at a light
  2. getting doored

First off the Most-Safer-est cyclist doesn’t even think about things this way. They are worried about cars in general and want to be safe on the road with them. So they’ll do the following:

  • wear bright colours including a safety vest
  • use extremely bright flashing lights
  • wear a helmet because if they do get hit it can’t hurt!
  • use a bike with disc brakes because they are the best for fast stopping
  • they won’t ride too far over into the traffic lane because that’s not safe with cars coming up from behind
  • ride slowly past parked cars so they have time to brake and peer into the rear windows for signs of life
  • at a red light they move right over to be out of the way in case they get rear ended

Since cycling is very safe the Most-Safer-est cyclist gets to where they are going without incident, breathes a sigh of relief at surviving the mean streets of their town and starts to think that maybe the new 10,000 lumen red LED from Dinotte might be a good idea for an even Most-Safer-ester commute.  It can’t hurt right?

The logical cyclist spends 60 minutes one evening over a cup of tea pondering these issues in terms of their commute to work and does the following:

  • decides taking a quieter route two streets over is the best way to avoid unpleasant interactions with cars
  • rides out of the door zone since you can’t get doored if you are not close to a parked car
  • isn’t worried about getting hit from the rear because they are on a quieter street with less traffic and because they put a rear view mirror on their bike so they can see if there is a car behind them and what they are doing
  • when in doubt they take the lane to be directly where a motorist is looking for another vehicle and they act like traffic
  • in the rare case of a car that doesn’t look like it’s slowing down when viewed in the rear view mirror evasive action is taken
  • since speeds are lower on a quieter street the cyclist can ride at nearly car speeds and blend in with traffic
  • doesn’t wear bright cycle specific clothing or use any lights because they only commute in the day
  • 3 times a year when it crazy foggy they take the bus to work

The logical cyclist arrives at the same office as the Most-Safer-est cyclist at about the same time after a similar commute – just a couple streets over from the main road the Most-Safer-est cyclist used. . The logical cyclist isn’t relieved when they arrive safely at work because they weren’t worried about their safety to begin with since they made smart choices about how to cycle and they know that statistically cycling is extremely low risk. The logical cyclist isn’t thinking about buying more safety gear or how they can be even more Most-Safer-ester!

Feeling plenty safe-esterer!

Taking things one last step – in my opinion the logical cyclist is likely to be at lower actual risk than the Most-Safer-est cyclist since they are making specific choices that address specific risks directly. Wearing a safety vest and using an ultra bright rear light assumes the driver who is about to hit you is actually looking at the road and will see you better because of your safety gear. In fact they might not be looking at you at all or they could be high and so fascinated by your brightness that they forget to brake and kill you despite your lovely $300 super safe helmet! OTOH riding on a quiet road with fewer cars while using a rear view mirror and staying out of the door zone makes no assumptions about what a driver will do and puts the cyclist firmly in control of the situation.

If you aren’t totally sick of my ramblings about fear this post I wrote a while back may provide some addition insight into cycling and fear.





Cycling to the Moon…

19 03 2011

Cycling to the Moon...

Katja left a comment on my Traffic Cone Fashion post and provided a link to this picture and the text below.

I am from Germany.

I come from a country where cycling is the norm.

There are no strange whisperings and looks when you whiz past on your bike. Or shouting abuse from your fellow road users.

I am struggling to understand UK cycling. It is weird, and I really don’t mean it in a wonderful way. Recently I went to a cycling conference, where someone described a mainland European saying: “You UK cyclists always look like you are cycling to the moon, and back again.”

That simple sentence summed it all up for me. That’s how I feel about UK cycling too. Cyclists look serious, almost on a mission. A secret sect. It doesn’t look fun and certainly doesn’t look normal – you need a uniform and safety equipment to participate in that special activity.

But I believe this is now changing. Change is coming. Slowly. There are rumblings. People on bikes are not prepared to take it anymore. We know we are an intricate part of the solution to one of the biggest problems we are facing in the UK: tackling the World of Indifference.

Be different. Be strong and be proud of being different. For that even I may sometimes dress if I were cycling to the moon. Return ticket always included!

- – - -

The Newcastle Cycling Campaign wants cycling to be normal and commonplace newcycling.org.uk”