Thursday, April 30, 2009
Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University of Bath
Bicyclists who wear protective helmets are more likely to be struck by passing vehicles, new research suggests.
Drivers pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than when overtaking bare-headed cyclists, increasing the risk of a collision, the research has found.
Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University of Bath, used a bicycle fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from over 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol.
Dr Walker, who was struck by a bus and a truck in the course of the experiment, spent half the time wearing a cycle helmet and half the time bare-headed. He was wearing the helmet both times he was struck.
He found that drivers were as much as twice as likely to get particularly close to the bicycle when he was wearing the helmet.
Across the board, drivers passed an average of 8.5 cm (3 1/3 inches) closer with the helmet than without
The research has been accepted for publication in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.
Press Release from the University of Bath.
"Brains, brains." says a bike zombie in San Francisco.
Mandatory bicycle helmet laws could do more harm than good, a new study claims.
Helmet laws like those in effect in Australia levy a substantial cost on healthcare systems because savings from fewer head injuries pale in comparison to the costs incurred by decreases in cycling, a mathematical model concludes.
Piet de Jong, a mathematician at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, estimates that bicycle helmet laws would cost the US $4.8 billion per year, Netherlands $1.9 billion, and the U.K $0.4 billion.
New Scientist 17:50 27 April 2009 by Ewen Callaway
See complete article in the
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
An operator of a motor vehicle passing a vulnerable road user operating on a highway or street shall vacate the lane in which the
vulnerable road user is located if the highway has two or more marked lanes running in the same direction;
An operator of a motor vehicle passing a vulnerable road user
operating on a highway or street shall pass the vulnerable road user
at a safe distance.
The bill then defines what "safe distance" means for a two lane highway.
For the purposes of Subsection (b)(2), when road conditions allow, safe distance is at least three feet if the operator's vehicle is a passenger car or light truck.
For the purposes of Subsection (b)(2), when road conditions allow, safe distance is at least six feet if the operator's vehicle is a truck other than a light truck or a commercial motor vehicle as defined by
[Sec 522.003.(5)(b) DEFINITIONS: "Commercial motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used to
transport passengers or property that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds;]
Now this will cause no end of grief. For example, how can the vehicle pictured above on that road, comply with this rule?
Arguably, if the cyclist rides in the left tire track of the lane, this vehicle must stop and pull off the road if he is traveling in the opposite direction of the cyclist.
This law forbids that truck from overtaking a cyclist on a road like that one. Unless the cyclist is crowding the fog line, there will not be six feet of clearance. Yet I have been safely overtaken by many commercial trucks on that very road while riding to the left of the center of the lane.
All vehicles must pass with due care and in a safe manner under sec 545.053 making this provision redundant for vehicles.
This bill, by including cyclists as a vulnerable road user, is treating cyclists as pedestrians, not vehicles. Isn't that going to inevitably erode the liberties that we now enjoy?
A while back, faithful follower Waco asked about bike boulevards, and referenced the above video. No one (including me) responded. But it's worth discussing.
Basically, the bike boulevard streets are the same type of streets that about 80% of Dallas' soon to be scrapped bike plan (according to BikeDFW) use: low volume local streets. Many of the features of the bike boulevard have been incorporated, including road-humps, specially-colored signage, diverters and closures with bicycle openings and allowances. The City was even talking about using the Denver "Bike in a Box" (the precursor of sharrows) along with route numbers on bike routes. The primary differences are those of scale, both in size (the VERY large Berkeley street marking vs. the proposed 4' square Denver bike-in-a-box), and quantity, with the biggest difference being Dallas' lack of a 40,000 student urban public university, and the approximately 2:1 (in the case of UC Berkeley, it's probably closer to 4:1) ratio of support staff and hangers-on per enrolled students that large universities generate in a fairly small geographic area (high population density and favorable demographics). And commitment.
Don't forget context sensitivity. These facilities (like those in other cities) were installed primarily to meet the needs of an existing broad base of bicycle users (culture and demographics). That's not a bad problem to have.
So any way, watch the video. There's some good, and some bad.
The Discussion Lamp is lit.
THERE was once upon a time a poor widow who had an only son named Jack, and a cow named Milky-white. And all they had to live on was the milk the cow gave every morning, which they carried to the market and sold. But one morning Milky-white gave no milk, and they didn't know what to do.
"What shall we do, what shall we do?" said the widow, wringing her hands.
"Cheer up, mother, I'll go and get work somewhere," said Jack.
"We've tried that before, and nobody would take you," said his mother; "we must sell Milky-white and with the money start shop, or something."
"All right, mother," says Jack; "it's market-day toe day, and I'll soon sell Milky-white, and then we'll see what we can do."
So he took the cow's halter in his hand, and off he started. He hadn't gone far when he met a funny looking old man, who said to him: "Good morning, Jack."
"Good morning to you," said Jack, and wondered how he knew his name.
"Well, Jack, and where are you off to?" said the man.
"I 'm going to market to sell our cow here."
"Oh, you look the proper sort of chap to sell cows," said the man; "I wonder if you know how many beans make five."
"Two in each hand and one in your mouth," says Jack, as sharp as a needle.
Right you are," says the man, "and here they are, the very beans themselves," he went on, pulling out of his pocket a number of strange-looking beans. "As you are so sharp," says he, "I don't mind doing a swop with you-your cow for these beans."
"Go along," says Jack; "wouldn't you like it?"
"Ah! you don't know what these beans are," said the man; "if you plant them over-night, by morning they grow right up to the sky."
"Really?" said Jack; "you don't, say so."
"Yes, that is so, and if it doesn't turn out to be true you can have your cow back."
"Right," says Jack, and hands him over Milkywhite's halter and pockets the beans.
Back goes Jack home, and as he hadn't gone very far it wasn't dusk by the time he got to his door.
"Back already, lack?" said his mother; "I see you haven't got Milky-white, so you've sold hero How much did you get for her?"
"You'll never guess, mother," says Jack.
"No, you don't say so. Good boy! Five pounds, ten, fifteen, no, it can't be twenty."
"I told you you couldn't guess. What do you say to these beans; they're magical, plant them overnight and-"
"What!" says Jack's mother, "have you been such a fool, such a dolt, such an idiot, as to give away my Milky-white, the best milker in the parish, and prime beef to boot, for a set of paltry beans? Take that! Take that! Take that! And as for your precious beans here they go out of the window. And now off with you to bed. Not a sup shall you drink, and not a bit shall you swallow this very night."
So Jack went upstairs to his little room in the attic, and sad and sorry he was, to be sure, as much for his mother's sake, as for the loss of his supper.
At last he dropped off to sleep.
When he woke up, the room looked so funny. The sun was shining into part of it, and yet all the rest was quite dark and shady. So Jack jumped up and dressed himself and went to the window. And what do you think he saw? Why, the beans his mother had thrown out of the window into the garden, had sprung up into a big beanstalk which went up and up and up till it reached the sky. So the man spoke truth after all.
The beanstalk grew up quite close past Jack's window, so all he had to do was to open it and give a jump on to the beanstalk which ran up just like a big ladder. So Jack climbed, and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed till at last he reached the sky. And when he got there he found a long broad road going as straight as a dart. So he walked along and he walked along and he walked along till he came to a great big tall house, and on the doorstep there was a great big tall woman.
"Good morning, mum," says Jack, quite politelike. "Could you be so kind as to give me some breakfast?" For he hadn't had anything to eat you know, the night before and was as hungry as a hunter,
"It's breakfast you want, is it?" says the great big tall woman, "it's breakfast you'll be if you don't move off from here. My man is an ogre and there's nothing he likes better than boys broiled on toast. You'd better be moving on or he'll soon be coming."
"Oh! please mum, do give me something to eat, mum. I've had nothing to eat since yesterday morning, really and truly, mum," says Jack. "I may as well be broiled as die of hunger."
Well, the ogre's wife was not half so bad after all, So she took Jack into the kitchen, and gave him a junk of bread and cheese and a jug of milk. But Jack hadn't half finished these when thump! thump! thump! the whole house bean to tremble with the noise of some one coming.
"Goodness gracious me! It's my old man," said the ogre's wife, "what on earth shall I do? Come along quick and jump in here." And she bundled Jack into the oven just as the ogre came in.
He was a big one, to be sure. At his belt he had three calves strung up by the heels, and he unhooked them and threw them down on the table and said:
"Here, wife, broil me a couple of these for breakfast. Ah! what's this I smell?
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I'll have his bones to grind my bread."
"Nonsense, dear," said his wife, "you're dreaming. Or perhaps you smell the scraps of that little boy you liked so much for yesterday's dinner. Here, you go and have a wash and tidy up, and by the time you come back your breakfast'll be ready for you."
So off the ogre went, and Jack was just going to jump out of the oven and run away when the woman told him not. "Wait till he 's asleep," says she; "he always has a doze after breakfast."
Well, the ogre had his breakfast, and after that he goes to a big chest and takes out of it a couple of bags of gold, and down he sits and counts till at last his head began to nod and he began to snore till the whole house shook again.
Then Jack crept out on tiptoe from his oven, and as he was passing the ogre he took one of the bags of gold under his arm, and off he pelters till he came to the beanstalk, and then he threw down the bag of gold, which of course fell into his mother's garden. and then he climbed down and climbed down till at last he got home and told his mother and showed her the gold and said: "Well, mother, wasn't I right about the beans? They are really magical, you see."
So they lived on the bag of gold for some time, but at last they came to the end of it, and Jack made up his mind to try his luck once more up at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morning he rose up early, and got on to the beanstalk, and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed till at last he came out on to the road again and up to the great big tall house he had been to before. There, sure enough, was the great big tall woman a-standing on the doorstep.
"Good morning, mum," says Jack, as bold as brass, "could you be so good as to give me something to eat?"
"Go away, my boy," said the big tall woman, "or else my man will eat you up for breakfast. But aren't you the youngster who came here once before? Do you know, that very day, my man missed one of his bags of gold."
"That's strange, mum," said Jack, "I dare say I could tell you something about that, but I 'm so hungry I can't speak till I've had something to eat."
Well the big tall woman was so curious that she took him in and gave him something to eat. But he had scarcely begun munching it as slowly as he could when thump! thump! thump! they heard the giant': footstep, and his wife hid Jack away in the oven.
All happened as it did before. In came the ogre as he did before, said: "Fee-fi-fo-fum," and had his breakfast off three broiled oxen. Then he said:
"Wife, bring me the hen that lays the golden eggs." So she brought it, and the ogre said:
"Lay," and it laid an egg all of gold. And then the ogre began to nod his head, and to snore till the house shook.
Then Jack crept out of the oven on tiptoe and caught hold of the golden hen, and was off before you could say "Jack Robinson." But this time the hen gave a cackle which woke the ogre, and just as Jack got out of the house he heard him calling:
"Wife, wife, what have you done with my golden hen?"
And the wife said: "Why, my dear?"
But that was all Jack heard, for he rushed off to the beanstalk and climbed down like a house on fire. And when he got home he showed his mother the wonderful hen, and said "Lay" to it; and it laid a golden egg every time he said "Lay."
Well, Jack was not content, and it wasn't very long before he determined to have another try at his luck up there at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morning, he rose up early, and got on to the beanstalk, and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed till he got to the top. But this time he knew better than to go straight to the ogre's house. And when he got near. it, he waited behind a bush till he saw the ogre's wife come out with a pail to get some water, and then he crept into the house and got into the copper. He hadn't been there long when he heard thump! thump! thump! as before, and in come the ogre and his wife.
"Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an English. man," cried out the ogre. "I smell him, wife; I smell him."
"Do you, my dearie?" says the ogre's wife.
'Then, if it's that little rogue that stole your gold and the hen that laid the golden eggs he's sure to have got into the oven." And they both rushed to the oven. But Jack wasn't there, luckily, and the ogre's wife said: "There you are again with your fee-fi-fo-fum. Why of course it's the boy you caught last night that I've just broiled for your breakfast. How forgetful I am, and how careless you are not to know the difference between live and dead after all these years."
So the ogre sat down to the breakfast and ate it, but every now and then he would mutter: "Well, I could have sworn-" and he'd get up and search the larder and the cupboards and everything, only, luckily, he didn't think of the copper.
After breakfast was over, the ogre called out, "Wife, wife, bring me my golden harp." So she brought it and put it on the table before him. Then he said: "Sing!" and the golden harp sang most beautifully. And it went on singing till the ogre fell asleep, and commenced to snore like thunder.
Then Jack lifted up the copper-lid very quietly and got down like a mouse and crept on hands and knees till he came to the table, when up he crawled, caught hold of the golden harp and dashed with it towards the door. But the harp called out quite loud: "Master! Master!" and the ogre woke up just in time to see Jack running off with his harp.
Jack ran as fast as he could, and the ogre came rushing after, and would soon have caught him only Jack had a start and dodged him a bit and knew where he was going. When he got to the beanstalk the ogre was not more than twenty yards away when suddenly he saw Jack disappear like, and when he came to the end of the road he saw Jack underneath climbing down for dear life. Well, the ogre didn't like trusting himself to such a ladder, and he stood and waited, so Jack got another start. But just then the harp cried out: "Master! Master!" and the ogre swung himself down on to the beanstalk, which shook with his weight. Down climbs Jack, and after him climbed the ogre. By this time Jack had climbed down and climbed down and climbed down till he was very nearly home. So he called out: "Mother! Mother! bring me an axe, bring me an axe." And his mother came rushing out with the axe in her hand, but when she came to the beanstalk she stood stock still with fright for there she saw the ogre with his legs just through the clouds.
But Jack jumped down and got hold of the axe and gave a chop at the beanstalk which cut it half in two. The ogre felt the beanstalk shake and quiver so he stopped to see what was the matter. Then Jack gave another chop with the axe, and the beanstalk was cut in two and began to topple over. Then the ogre fell down and broke his crown, and the bean. stalk came toppling after.
Then Jack showed his mother his golden harp, and what with showing that and selling the golden eggs, Jack and his mother became very rich, and he married a great princess; and they lived happy ever after.
(from English Folk and Fairy Tales , by Joseph Jacobs)
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
(b) An operator of a motor vehicle passing a vulnerable road user operating on a highway or street shall:
(1) vacate the lane in which the vulnerable road user is located if the highway has two or more marked lanes running in the same direction; or
(2) pass the vulnerable road user at a safe distance.
(c) For the purposes of Subsection (b)(2), the operator is presumed to have failed to comply with Subsection (b)(2) if the distance between the operator ’s vehicle and the vulnerable road user is less than:
(1) three feet if the operator ’s vehicle is a passenger car or light truck; or
(2) six feet if the operator ’s vehicle is a truck other than a light truck or a commercial motor vehicle as defined by Section 522.003.
(k) The presumption provided by Subsection (c) does not arise and may not be applied against the operator of the motor vehicle if at
the time of the offense the vulnerable road user was acting in violation of the law.
OPERATION ON ROADWAY. Sec 551.104
(a) A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:
(4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:
(A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane
(b)(1) would not require a motor vehicle to change lanes if there is a bike lane, because the motor vehicle is not driving in the same lane as the cyclist. (As an aside, this is a good example of how the addition of a bike lane to the roadway complicates the simple rules of the road.)
If a bike lane is present, and a cyclist is struck by a motorist when he is operating outside of the bike lane, he will have to prove that he had a legal reason to do so, or be liable for all injuries and damages because of paragraph (k).
So basically, our advocates are forcing those they claim to represent to choose to either drive in the most dangerous position possible on the road or risk a potentially ruinous legal defense if they are unfortunate enough to be injured outside of a bike lane.
This is only one aspect of this bill that I find objectionable. Cyclists would be better served if our advocates would press for the enforcement of the laws we already have. Every point of this bill is covered by existing laws, if they would be applied. There is no reason to believe that this law will be enforced any better the current reckless driving and passing laws are.
Are we to believe that it is now lawful to pass anyone at an "unsafe distance", and that this legislation is needed to fix that oversight?
Sec. 545.401. RECKLESS DRIVING
(a) A person commits an offense if the person drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
Why is this law not sufficient?
The real problem is not inadequate law, the problem is motor vehicle driver's disregard for their duty to operate with due care and in a safe manner. This attitude can be modified by the strict enforcement of present laws, if our society has the will to do it. As long as we accept the trade-off of traffic flow over individuals safety, the careless attitudes won't change, and no amount of rules and regulations will reduce the carnage.
Sadly, driving a car has become such an ordinary every-day event that the potential magnitude of it's destructive power and the grave responsibility that comes with operating them has become lost on our society.
Monday, April 27, 2009
In a story entitled “City streetcar project put in regional plan,” Gordon Dickson reports at the end of the story: “The RTC learned that a package of …projects approved … for federal stimulus funding includes $475,315 for a hike-and-bike trail in Hurst and Colleyville. … if the gap can be completed, it will be possible to ride a bicycle from Grapevine Mills Mall to Haltom City.”
Geez, considering my daily bicycle commute has been from Colleyville to Haltom City, does that mean I’ve been doing the nearly impossible on a daily basis? Imagine, instead, just how many bike parking facilities could be purchased at local destinations for that same $475,315. I guess it isn’t just Dallas that tends toward fuzzy, “feel good” thinking.
And, in case you were wondering, I never rode a single foot of the completed portions of the trail on my commute to Haltom City – too much of a detour. In my new commute to Alliance, I DO ride the Colleyville portion of the trail –about 10 feet of it as I cross it at a 90 degree angle.
I also accidentally discovered a bicycle lane in NRH - more on that later, and on other "MUP" thoughts...
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Possibly... to reflect a slightly different emphasis. It's also SMART/fortworth, SMART/garland, SMART/ennis, SMART/frisco, SMART/universitypark, SMART/richardson, SMART/oakcliff, SMART/carrollton, etc.
In other words... get smart.
I have added some team-members to Cycle*Dallas, to give it a broader perspective (or at least, a different tone). The new team members have been drawn from the faithful, even if they aren't 100% orthodox. ;-)
The old rules remain in place. Courtesy. Intellectual honesty. Reality-based commentary. No personal attacks, no slander, and no cycling-inferiority posts.
Director of Client Services
In reality, it just proves you can’t believe everything you see. Recently, I saw a “chainguard” post by John Forester where he claimed that the “safety in numbers” claim for cyclists was a statistical artifact. Frankly, I don’t trust John any more than anybody else with an ax to grind, so I ran the numbers myself. Well, the graph uses Excel’s random number generator for the cycling population, overall population, and accident rate. If I hadn't told you this, would you give credence to the “safety in numbers” hypothesis from the graph? By the way, the LINE in the graph is a mathematical “best fit” of the data. If I did a little fiddling with the numbers, I could easily make the data appear to group even better. Excel's random number generator proves that more cyclists makes all cyclists safer.
Figures may not lie, but liars DO figure. In MY book, the best safety for a cyclist is for that cyclist to ride safer. It’s the ONLY thing he/she can really affect on a daily basis. Besides the basic right to ride safely, the rest is mumbo jumbo propaganda, or political BS, or both…
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Starting week before last, I started a new work location – Alliance Airport. It’s about 50% further than my previous work location in Haltom City, and some of the roads out near Alliance are pretty wicked. I wasn’t sure ahead of time I’d still be able to cycle commute. My initial experiences going to Alliance have reminded me why, regardless of facilities and infrastructure, bicycle commuting is the safest cycling around. There are also perks from commuting you don’t usually see on cycling blogs.
#1 – This week, if you were driving to work, just how much did you notice the proximity of Venus to the Crescent Moon before dawn? It made me tempted to ride eastward to Dallas instead of Alliance. I think it was Jupiter or Mars that was a bit up and to the right (I’m a cyclist, not an astronomer!). Had I seen any meteors, I might still be heading towards New Orleans.
#2 – I never saw a beaver as road kill when riding into Haltom City, and I never saw buffalo grazing on the way there either. The buffalo are cool, but I’m not sure the dead beaver is a perk…
#3 – Coming home yesterday, as I fought the wind east of Colleyville Middle School, a big SUV pulled up beside me, in the LH through-lane, at the stoplight at Highway 26. A mom and her middle schooler were paying attention to their surroundings. The middle schooler found me an irresistible subject for her cell phone camera. Before you knew it, my earphones were off, their SUV window was down, and I was making faces for the camera (it’s a LONG red light). Now I’m some kid’s wallpaper, and somebody isn’t going to get her blood pressure raised at the mere sight of a cyclist on the road. Nor is the student quite as likely to believe that simply riding on the road is going to get her killed. It almost makes me feel guilty for riding with my radio earphones & no helmet. On second thought, the kid really ought to know early on that you don’t have to armor up and wear neon to keep from getting killed. Not even in the DFW Metroplex. It also illustrates some positive aspects of stopping for traffic signals aside from merely observing the law. It’s one time that motorists are able to interact with their co-travelers, as humans, without endangering anyone.
Friday, April 24, 2009
April 22, 2009 Contact: Morgan Lyons
Mark A. Ball
Free event for area cyclists
DART Gets You Ready to Safely Bike to Work
Bike to Work Week is just three weeks away, May 11 to 15. Are you ready? Is your bike ready?
If not, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) invites you to attend “Get Ready to Safely Bike to Work Week” at White Rock Lake – Winfrey Point, Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Come join DART, City of Dallas Parks and Recreation, Bike DFW, DART Bike & Ride Advisory Panel, and the bicycle club TeamDART for a free event that promotes safety in the bicycle-transportation community in anticipation of Bike to Work Week.
While enjoying the day at the lake participate in free activities including bike minor tune-ups -- proper fitting, air, and brake adjustments – from local bicycle shops; a DART bus displaying new bike racks along with loading and unloading demonstrations; and free t-shirts, headbands and wrist straps. Water and other refreshments will also be available.
With new heavy-duty bike racks on all of its buses DART makes it easy to combine bikes and transit. Up to two bikes can be easily stored in each new rack, which cyclists can load and unload themselves, after following a few simple instructions affixed to the racks. Bicyclists also are allowed on DART Rail and the Trinity Railway Express. New low-floor DART rail cars let you roll your bike directly onto the train. The cars feature more standing room but also hooks made especially for stowing bikes while riding the rails.
Visit www.DART.org/bike for more information.
-- 30 --
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
"If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way."
- Bertrand Russell
Thursday, April 16, 2009
There is a bill in the Texas Legislature proposed by cycling "advocates" to pass a 3' Safe Passing law in Texas. After much thought, I came out in opposition to this law for a number of reasons, including its ineffectiveness in other states. But my main reason for opposition was the "victimization" of cyclists, and the growth of demands for "special" facilities and laws to compensate for the lack of responsibility often displayed by cyclists. Among my fears is the sense that we are entering a time of backlash against cyclists, and that our rights as operators of vehicles will be eroded by a combination of well-meaning but naive cyclists, and ill-meaning anti-cycling forces.
My fears have come true. From the Texas Bicycle Coalition...
The 2009 Safe Passing Bill, House Bill HB 827 was heard and passed yesterday by the Texas State House Committee on Transportation by a vote of 8-0.
Unfortunately, the committee amendment to HB 827 includes problematic provisions. We have been here before and BikeTexas is asking cyclists to view the bill, even in its current unsatisfactory state, as a vehicle to get us to final passage of a Safe Passing Bill with the right provisions in place. We still have a number of opportunities in the process to remove or effectively resolve the problem parts. (For the bill text, check our website; we'll post it when the committee updates the language.)
Two additions are of most concern:
First is a provision inserted by the committee requiring that vulnerable road users must operate within three feet of the right edge or curb of the roadway (Proposed Section 545.428 (a)(4)).
Second is language stating that the Safe Passing law may not apply to a road without to two lanes in the same direction "with a total width not less than twenty four feet". In other words, it would only apply on 4-lane roads (two lanes in each direction). This is in response a BikeTexas proposal to incorporate language from the 2003 "Move Over Law", passed in the 2003 legislative session, to protect law enforcement officers on the side of the roadway (Proposed Section 545.428 (b(1)).
This language requires motorists to reduce speed to 20 mph below the posted speed limit if approaching a vulnerable user and not able to provide three-feet clearance. The "Move Over" provision did remain in the version passed by the Transportation Committee. BikeTexas had offered the "Move Over" language in response to legislator concerns and after conferring with several Texas bicycle advocacy leaders.
The prohibition against the "right-hook" was removed by the Committee. The "left-hook" provision remains in the bill (Proposed Section 545.428 (d) and (e)).
These changes appear to have been added as a result of informal input to the Committee from other legislators. BikeTexas staff is making inquiries to get more details on this development.
Many Texas cyclists understand these provisions are unworkable in the context of current Texas Transportation Code (TTC) concerning bicyclists as well as in practice of safe cycling techniques on the roadway.
The bill is still in the middle of the legislative process and BikeTexas staff sees several opportunities to get the Safe Passing bill back into a version that will benefit cyclists with its legal, operational and educational merits.
By not really believing that "Bicycles Are Vehicles", but that bicycles are toy vehicles that need "special" provisions, a Pandora's Box is being opened. Legislators from across the width and breadth of Texas have come to Austin for the biennial meeting of the Texas Legislature, seen the scofflaw cyclists that are only too visible in Austin and the special "keep cyclists away from traffic" facilities the subservient cycling class likes so much, and have gotten the message loud and clear.
While enlightened cycling advocates are pushing their states for the removal of the misunderstood and dangerous "Far To The Right Laws", Texas' advocates are on the verge of bringing about the worst "Far To The Right" laws in the nation, removing our rights to operate a bicycle safely in a vehicular, and responsible, manor. Thanks, guys and gals.
Now more than ever, contact your State Representative and State Senator, and express your opposition to both House Bill 827 and Senate Bill 488.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Well, here's a mild-mannered lady (Ms. Keri Caffrey, a graphic designer/art director by trade) cruising the streets of Orlando, Florida on a comfort bike. Casually attired in shorts, polo shirt, and sneakers, she could be on her way to enjoy a double no-fat Macchiato at Starbucks™, or perhaps making a quick run to Whole Foods™ for some fresh arugula.
Again shot by Brian DeSousa of CyclistView (from his tiny folding bike), Keri demonstrates the typical experience of a vehicular cyclist who obeys the laws and controls her lane.
Welcome to the real world. As the Nike ad says, "Just do it!"
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
The rules of the road state that faster drivers are obliged to overtake slower drivers only when it is safe to do so (there are a few exceptions, of course). That's the law. If the road happens to be such that the combination of width, sight distance, and opposite-direction traffic prevents safe overtaking, then those drivers who intend to go faster have to wait behind the slower driver until conditions change to make safe overtaking possible. Therefore, to accommodate faster drivers, which by the nature of the case are generally motorists, society can widen the road to allow these faster drivers to overtake slower drivers without delay.
That's not accommodating cyclists, it is accommodating motorists. Furthermore, this has nothing at all to do with different "classes" of cyclists, for all cyclists would equally be unaffected by this situation, which matters not in the least to them. If motorists have to wait for the opportunity to operate safely, so what? Safety trumps convenience.
If society finds that roads are more congested and traffic is more delayed than it likes, then society as a whole has the ability to increase the capacity of the road system, which should be for all users equally. Cyclists should not be discriminated against by preferentially allocating the delays to them for the convenience of motorists.
-- John Forester, M.S., P.E., from a posting on an on-line forum
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
It’s based on the same driving principles as a skateboard. It looks like a phone booth, or perhaps a baby stroller. But despite the unconventional nature of this vehicle, General Motors says a two-seat, two-wheel ride called PUMA could be a solution to loosen congestion in crowded urban areas.
The acronym stands for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, and on Tuesday GM is announcing a partnership with small vehicle company Segway to develop the diminutive rides. A prototype is also expected to be demonstrated in New York.
PUMA vehicles employ existing technologies, including a lithium-ion battery, dual electric wheel motors and connectivity with other vehicles and infrastructure. They can travel at speeds of 35 mph and have a range of 35 miles between charges. In addition to big cities, they could be used in parks, college campuses, amusement parks, resorts and other areas where short distances are usually traveled.
GM says the prototype in New York is operational, and expects a next-generation model to appear later this year. In early 2010, a complete concept could be unveiled. The rides look like golf carts, though executives say catchy design could be part of a production version if the project continues.
It’s based on the premise that many cars are “over-engineered” for some driving situations. A Cadillac Escalade, for example, is probably unnecessary to drive a few blocks in Manhattan, where research says the average speed was 18.8 miles per house and three-quarters of the population doesn’t own a car, according to research cited by GM, which has been working with Segway for about 18 months on the project.
“It’s not replacing vehicles as we know them--it’s complementing them in an urban environment,” said Chris Borroni-Bird, director of advance technology vehicle concepts for GM.
The PUMAs would be a tradeoff in features--the two passengers sit snugly side-by-side, but could prove to be a money saver. The cost could be one-quarter to one-third of owning a conventional midsize vehicle, GM says. Because they’re small, ease of parking would also be a key selling point, as up to 30-40 percent of fuel is believed to be consumed looking for parking in urban areas.
Still, the project is a bit fanciful, as GM envisions a potential layout where cars interact using an onboard transponder and can brake and accelerate through intersections to avoid accidents and pedestrians. Though GM based much of its research on New York City, the PUMA vehicles could launch overseas first. Domestically, the program could help bolster the automaker’s green credentials.
“The [auto] Task Force is looking for us to show a vision of the future, and I think this could be a part of it,” Borroni-Bird said.
Haven't I seen these somewhere recently?
Monday, April 06, 2009
Friday, April 03, 2009
From Richard C. Moeur, P.E.
Missouri Vocational Industries*
The City of Ferguson, Missouri, has been provided with information from Missouri Vocational Industries, which makes a variety of signs for state and local agencies only, and has provided a quote for different sizes of signs based on the above. Typical cost for a 30" x 30" sign in quantities of 1 to 24 is $37.95 each, and for a 30" x 12" sign is $17.25 each. The final sign configuration and cost is currently being negotiated.
*Gil Althage, MVE Sales (Tel: 800/392-8486).
Now available in the CycleDallas cafepress store as an attractive and functional "golf" shirt!
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
The installation and upkeep of bike lanes, often seen as an unnecessary expenditure of municipal funds, actually pay for themselves in reduced maintenance costs for damage caused by automobiles, according to a recent study funded by the Washington D.C.-based bike lane lobby group Bike-Walk America.
Every year, thousands of street signs, poles, and fire hydrants have to be replaced because they have been run over by careless and hostile automobile drivers. Simply by striping in 3' bike lanes (the preferred size in BWA bike-friendly communities like Austin, Texas), at a cost of only $20,000 per lane mile (plus annual maintenance costs of up to $5,000 per lane mile), motorists would no longer be able to hit street fixtures. The costs for the bike lanes would be easily offset by never again having to replace street signs, meter posts, and fire hydrants. Not only do cities become bike friendly by installing bike lanes, they become sign and hydrant friendly, too, and coincidentally, more fiscally responsible in these lean economic times.
"The logic is inescapable," says BWA executive director Clark Wallabees.