Friday, April 7, 2017

Riding Wisdom: Why It Always Pays To Pay Attention.

Take a good look at this photo, and in particular, the road sign before the railroad tracks.

It reminded me of an incident a few years ago, whist riding with a club of hotheads.  The “Racers” were out front (as usual) dropping everyone in sight (though all of that clubs’ rides were billed as “No Drop”), and it was then that I arrived on the scene of a most curious event related to the photo.

Picking themselves up, assessing their bikes, and bodily damage, were three of the riders who were out front, all trying to out-hammer each other.  Not only did they miss the clearly posted warning sign, but they also missed the fact the railroad tracks were at an extremely dangerous angle to the road.  The tracks (now an overpass) crossed the road at about a ten-degree angle, thus the railroad was wise enough to post a sign clearly stating, “All cyclists dismount and use sidewalk.”

Of course, warnings are only useful if people actually pay attention to them.

Ride safely, my friends.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Equal, But Separate – Why Road Diets Suck. Part II

A question for Road Diet Fetishists; Since when was taking away traffic lanes a useful endeavor?  Consider the reverse to see how foolish the will of the “Equal, But Separate” crowd would be if more and more bikes lanes, and sidewalks, were taken away to expand the number of motor vehicle lanes on a given roadway.  The Fit would hit the proverbial Shan!

Sometime ago there was an article over at Argonaut Online regarding commuting by bicycle.  The premise of the article was basically “Are the roads ready” for the commuters expected to take on the endeavor.  I see it a different way.  The roads are indeed ready; it is just the condition of the road surfaces which are dubious, and more importantly, the mindset of the people whom are to share said roads whom are “Not Ready.”  If Airline Pilots, and Doctors, were let loose with the minimal training, and complete incompetence, of the average road user (i.e. Motorist, Cyclist, and yes, even the Pedestrian), the cries for someone to “Do Something!” would be deafening.

Consider the following;

Try expanding your minds, and taking Air Traffic, Marine Traffic, and Railroad Traffic, as examples of how training (and workable infrastructure) affects the whole.  In each discipline are vehicles of various sizes, with varying, but legal levels of competency of the users, all utilizing the same, and finite, three-dimensional space.  Yet, all function without daily catastrophes requiring the implementation of Air Route Diets, Waterway Diets, and Rail Diets.  Conversely, for reasons which are not perfectly rational, there are incessant cries for harmful, unfair, elitist vehicular Road Diets.  First, and central to their motives (as previously mentioned in Part I), the advocates of road diets are only looking out for themselves.  Don’t anyone ever forget that. 

The logical course of action for the anti-motorist faction (oddly, masquerading as share-the-road groups) would not be to remove vehicular capacity, and infrastructure, but to work with all relevant agencies to see that those vehicle operators, and infrastructure, are the absolute best in the world.  Right now, the opposite is true.  Vehicles are looked upon as enemies by the faux “share-the-road” peeps (‘cause without a scapegoat they have no evil boogeyman), vehicle operators are Satan, and since the road infrastructure is so bad, let’s just do away with the whole thing and make lots, and lots of bike lanes.  Thus, the stage is set, and the players are ready for the curtain to go up - Bicyclists blame the motorists, motorists blame the bicyclists, pedestrians blame everybody, and Officials sit on their bureaucratic backsides, ignoring the dangers, and lack of a logically constructed infrastructure, all the while collecting paychecks and pensions - On the taxpayers’ dime, of course!

Let’s look again at the aforementioned examples of Aviation and Boating.  While motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and bureaucrats can’t seem to agree on any level of on-road civility, a Cessna 152 can co-exist with a Boeing 747 on both air and ground, and an aircraft carrier can co-exist on the waterways with a sailboat.  The thing aviation and boating have going for them are operational training, workable infrastructure, and self-preserving professionalism on a level not shared by users of our highways.  In short, it is the human being which requires improvement, and training, to raise the level of skill, and safety, upon the roads.

Another claim of the Share-The-Road advocates is “We need to be more like Europe.”  Uh, no, we don’t.  Comparing American culture, and roads, to Europe is like comparing Apples to Dump Trucks.  And, remember, in Europe, the concept of sharing the road really does not exist.  Case in point: All of the so-called “Cycling Utopia’s” over there are a true, zero-sum game.  Bicycles won because motor vehicles lost, and Pedestrians won because everyone else lost.  Toss in cities, towns, and a road structure which in many cases are only able to simultaneously fit a Fiat, a Baguette, and an iPhone side-by-side, and one sees the reasoning of the current state of European transportation methodology.  Here in the Good’Ol US of A, we budgeted quite a bit more room for everyone to move around, so road sharing makes complete sense over here.  That is why road-diets, protected lanes, etc. are seen as an attack on motorists (they are), and any resistance from said motorists are seen as an attack on cyclists (they’re not).  Basically, every locality is unique, while people, and cultures, are not all the same, and the insatiable urge by many to exclaim “We must be more like…” needs to stop.  In my part of the world, Southern California, it is indeed auto-centric.  That is fact, and it should be, so deal with it.  We are not Amsterdam, we are not Portland, and we are not New York City, so if you want that, do us all a favor, and move there.

Cycling Advocates hate cars.  We get that.  However, who made you activists king over all of our lives and how we choose to live it, whether in a car, on a bike, skateboard, or walking?  And, keep in mind, for every argument made for the elimination of motor vehicles, roads, and lanes, a counter-argument exists for why they should not only remain, but must be expanded to sensible capacity.  Additionally, do not think for one second that unregulated, wholesale illegal immigration (along with interstate migration) has not had an impact on the amount of traffic on the roads – It most certainly has!  Last we checked it was physically impossible to squeeze 10-gallons of water into a five-gallon container without spilling a whole bunch.  The overflowing container is completely analogous to our overflowing traffic, yet the Great Benevolent Bicycle Advocate thinks it is just peachy, safe, and above-all, morally justified, to make that container even smaller, still!   

And, herein lays another problem: Not all cyclists are activists.  Now that the word “Activist” has actually become synonymous with Bully (yes, it has), it needs to be stressed to the general public that not all cyclists hate motorists.  There was a time all Motorcyclists were thought to be Outlaw Bikers, and so too, now all cyclists are seen as Activists.  This is why we now receive a lot of the outright nastiness from the public.  And from personal experience I can tell you this is not a lie.  I went through the time of persecution of “There’s one of those bikers” when I commuted on a motorcycle, and now I am getting it again, only now I am now one of those stop sign-running, anti-car “Cycling Advocates.”  Only this time, instead of being accused tearing up the town and violating women, I am now accused of taking away road capacity in the name of the Church of Environmentalism.   

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Great Moments In Training.

We all have some form of favorite training regimen. One of mine was a former training hill in my old neighborhood.  It was close to home, convenient, and it was a fun challenge, to boot.

The sucker was about 710-feet of agony at 18% the whole way. This was a training aid which could not be done sitting down. Oh no, this was standing all-the-way, stomp the pedals, or you're going to fall over kind of affair.

There were many days I just did not feel like doing that hill, however, since moving to the extremely flat Coast, I kinda' miss that slab of incline.