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White Male Penance

This is my penance for being a 30 something white male in America who's never been generalized or discriminated against:

I'm riding to work and a truck buzzes me in my lane by barely sticking a tire on the center line to pass me, because there was oncoming traffic. He does this, because he's in a big hurry to get to the next stop sign, which is half a block away. So I (probably stupidly) get into a shouting match with him when I find myself waiting on him at that stop sign.

Anti-Bike Bias Lunacy

What's wrong with this article?:

“A bicycle can ride on the roadway and they do have all the rights a car would have,” he said. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t on the roadway, he was on a gravel shoulder. And even more unfortunate, there was a brand new sidewalk just installed about 15 feet from where he was riding.”

Today I hate on cyclists

It's a nice morning, it's cool out, but not cold, the streets are quiet, all is well. I exit one of my neighborhood streets on to a local arterial and find myself behind a pod of about 6 cyclists. They were either college or high school kids. They stood out to me a bit because they were all wearing helmets, which is pretty rare with anyone younger than me.

Want to make cycling safer? Start with the brains behind the wheel.

How old are you and where were you when you got your driver's license?

I'm 31 years old and I grew up in a small town on the plains of Colorado. I got my drivers license after taking driver's ed in high school and passing a DMV test.

It was 1993. At the time, I only knew one or two people who had a cellphone. They hardly ever used them because minutes were very expensive. There was no such thing as texting. The town I lived in had no bike lanes, no roundabouts and GPS didn't exist. My first car with Anti-lock brakes was a 2001.

In the 16 years since I've had my license, I've never had another test. I've never had a refresh of the information I was taught in that one high school class. Most of my driver education since then has been handed to me as a carbon copy of a ticket from a cop.

Every year in America, 43,000 people die in automobile crashes. So on average, 118 people will die today. 1 or 2 will be a cyclist, and 11 of them will be pedestrians.

There are freak accidents, but I don't believe 43,000 people per year are dying in 'freak' accidents.

The cycling community is seeing a revolution in utility cycling. People are commuting more and more. Injuries and accidents are also on the rise. The motivation of the cycling community is to increase cyclist education and to encourage more people to ride. Every day my city planners are making more and more efforts to facilitate cycling. The problem is that the people they are educating don't have the ability to kill or injure others with their mistakes.

I have yet to hear a single proposal to continue the education of the people behind the wheel.

In this country you can go from 16 to 72, and take exactly one driving test. America had 48 states when your average 70 year old took his last driver's test.

Bikes should be licensed and pay the same road taxes as a car. Cyclists are Moochers.

This is part of a series of posts in which I try to set up an 'FAQ' of frequent anti-bike arguments that show up on blogs, news stories, etc. If you have factual changes or really good arguments, Feel free to post them in the comments and I'll then try to work them in. If you're just plain looney, I'll probably just delete it in order to keep the signal to noise ratio high. ; )

All of the 'Car' Arguments are pulled from actual people in forums (typos, grammar and all). All of the 'Bike' ones are mine. (or they're borrowed from someone better ;)

Why not strap a Licence Plate on your bike, pay some taxes for it . Like you do for EACH Automobile you own. Then we'll call it evan?

You know. Like you pay X amount to drive your Chevy on the road & XX for your VW. Maybe your wife and kid each have a car, those cars all pay for the right to use the road too. Each car pays it's own way....

That's it ! PAY YOUR OWN WAY ! Tax all your cars & Tax all your bikes too ! Pay for what you use.

Every car you own pays for the right to be there. If the bicycle owner paid for a Use License they could say they paid for the right to be on those roads too, just like cars & motorcycles.

HMmm, No more MOOCHs. Can't gripe about it then, you paid just like every one else. If you screwed up, then you might lose you privilege.

The average bike and rider weigh around 200lbs. Your average small car comes in around 3000lbs. If car licensing is about collecting taxes as compensation for road usage and damage, a proportional tax on a bike would be miniscule.

Cyclists 2 abreast: Irritate me / Are Dangerous / Are Risking their Lives.

This is part of a series of posts in which I try to set up an 'FAQ' of frequent anti-bike arguments that show up on blogs, news stories, etc. If you have factual changes or really good arguments, Feel free to post them in the comments and I'll then try to work them in. If you're just plain looney, I'll probably just delete it in order to keep the signal to noise ratio high. ; )

All of the 'Car' Arguments are pulled from actual people in forums (typos, grammar and all). All of the 'Bike' ones are mine. (or they're borrowed from someone better ;)

2 abreast is an irritation:

I like to bicycle myself, and I worry more about the bicyclists who ride in the canyons, than I do the ones that ride on the streets and use the bike lanes. They buy the clown suits, expensive bikes, and ride down the canyons like they are in the tour d'France. They think nothing of riding two abreast and racing down the canyons, swinging way out on the curves...those are the ones that give all bicyclists a bad name. I'd love to see more of a police presence on some of those roads.

The law says cyclists can ride two abreast while they're not impeding traffic flow, give them a chance to move over before you get too irritated.

As for the swinging wide on curves, the League recommends getting out into the lane on tight corners, because that is where you will be seen the soonest by overtaking traffic that may not know you are there. If you're hugging the right through those corners, a motorist coming up behind you (taking the corner fast themselves and concentrating on it) won't see you and has less time to react.

We know drivers don't wake up in the morning thinking they'd like to hit a cyclist. But it's the unseen cyclist that gets hit. So we do our best to make sure we are where you'll be looking.

(incidentally, that's also the reason for the 'clown suit'... so YOU can see us.)

1 year of bike commuting

Well, I rolled around to a whole year of the bike commute and forgot all about it. Like most things if you do it long enough it's a habit.

Here are the numbers:

Those are pretty averaged.. I think my mileage is quite a bit more than that.

No, a foam hat won't save you.

I've been following the story of Rebecca Allen's death in Fort Collins last Tuesday, and I went to her funeral Friday, (cyclists city wide showed up to show support).

I've been reading the local press about it, and this is as good an example as any:

In every article I've seen, this, or some variation of this concept has been uttered:

Allen was taken to the hospital where she died from her injuries. Garvey suffered serious injuries, but was released from the hospital the same day. Both were wearing bike helmets.

A helmet? She was hit by a CAR! In the equation of bike v. car, a helmet is little more than a luck bonus. Yeah, there are lots of tales of people getting their heads run over and the helmet miraculously takes the hit and squirts their noggins out onto the street. But seriously, day to day, what do you think that inch of foam is going to do for you?

So, why do they bring it up? Because people assume a cyclist without a foam hat is an irresponsible idiot who somehow deserves to die. Because people don't want to talk about how CARS KILL PEOPLE. Being on the bike didn't kill Rebecca. A car killed Rebecca. (yes, the dumbass kid behind the wheel killed Rebecca, but tell me, would that have happened if he were out riding a bike drunk instead?)

Consider this:

4,749 pedestrians were reported to have been killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2003. These deaths accounted for 11 percent of the 42,643 motor vehicle deaths nationwide that year. An estimated 70,000 pedestrians were injured or killed in motor vehicle collisions, which represents 2 percent of the 2.9 million total persons injured in traffic crashes
( National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts 2003, Washington, DC, 2004)

We're worried about deaths in Iraq? We lost more people in one year just walking down the street than the entire war so far!

We've built our entire society around the automobile; around the idea that accelerating 2 tons of steel to human killing speeds through the places we live and work is acceptable. It's quite literally killing us.

For a better article about Allen (yup, mentions helmets..) read this one:

Get out on your bike this week. Take the lane. Let a car or two know you're there.

A 500 mile commute

So I made it my goal to ride to work every day ever since I started my job in February. It's been interesting. The winter was practically easier than summer heat. (and it's only gotten to about 85 around here) Business casual dress + 5 miles a day on a bike make for a not totally nasty, but funkier than average Aaron sometimes.

Anyway, the other reason I really wanted to post this is to test out google's spreadsheet embedding in html. Here are my calculations about the commute:

Drivers: Treat cyclists like cars and we'll all get along fine...

I ride my bike around Fort Collins, CO a lot. Collins is nice, it's a college town, so by default it's peppered with cyclists. Lately, it seems like cycling is on the rise, and it's becoming cool to have a single speed fixie and dress like a bike messenger.

My problem with Fort Collins drivers is not the usual one of rudeness, it's one of politeness.. When I show up to a busy 4 way stop that's moving smoothly with everyone taking their turn.. and a motorist (who was there first) tries to wave me through, I get seriously angry. This waving exchange takes a good 5 seconds or so, whereas if they would have just treated me like a car and acted normally, traffic would have kept flowing.

Yeah, it sounds like a silly thing to be angry about, but think about it this way. Dumb motorist sits there waving at me.. I do what they say but the one across from them (who thinks it's their turn) doesn't see any of this. That results in me riding to the center of the intersection and getting hit.

The rules of the road are extremely well thought out. There are very few instances where you need to trust a motorist to not do stupid things, you only have to trust that they too understand the rules. If you throw those rules out for cyclists, we are suddenly put at risk because we have to trust that the rules this one polite idiot just made up won't kill us.

This morning I was crossing a busy 4 lane road, The first two were clear, and the second two had one lone truck, followed (at a bit of a distance) by a huge pack of cars.

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