Spokes(Wo)Man

Scared of traffic ? No bike infrastructure ? Too Far ? Helmet hair ?

 

Fuck it, ride anyway

We know the design of SUVs kills pedestrians - why are we still allowing them to be sold ?

Why are big square-nosed SUVs everywhere? Because people love them and they sell. 

Those front-end features that kill and maim pedestrians are, there's no other word for it, popular with consumers. The critical design factor of the high front end pushes people below the wheels instead of over the hood the way lower model cars do.

In 2015, researchers at the University of Michigan determined that pedestrians are more than three times as likely to be killed when struck by an SUV than when struck by a regular car. Researchers in pedestrian safety in SUV collisions have been  warning about the front end design of SUVs since 2003.

Keith Bradsher is the author of High and Mighty: The Dangerous Rise of the SUV  - download your Kindle edition now, and see if you can tie in these statements with SUV drivers you know and possibly love.

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SUV drivers are similar to minivan drivers demographically, but they are more “self-oriented” psychologically, Bradsher has written. They are more fearful of crime, less likely to be involved in their communities, and less committed to their families, he wrote.

Minivan buyers tend to be more comfortable than sport utility buyers with being married; sport utility buyers are more commonly concerned with still feeling sexy, and like the idea that they could use their vehicles to start dating again.

In 2000, DaimlerChrysler Director of Market Research David Bostwick told Bradsher (click through to full article) that for consumers, ”It’s not safety as the issue, it’s aggressiveness, it’s the ability to go off the road.” Research also showed that SUV owners drive faster and place a lower value on being courteous on the road.

SUVs are designed specifically to appeal to this psychological profile, executives admitted:

DaimlerChrysler has chosen high-riding designs even for the two-wheel-drive versions of its sport utilities, even though they are unlikely to be driven over rough terrain and are therefore unlikely to need to ride higher, said David C. McKinnon, DaimlerChrysler’s director of vehicle exterior design. Mr. McKinnon said the company’s highest executives had told him repeatedly to ‘get them up in the air and make them husky.’

Up in the air, where drivers can't see dogs, or little kids.

Just great isn't it ?

 

 

Ego actually is a dirty word

Another glorious ride home, another middle-aged man with an incipient heart-attack left in my wake.

I'm riding homewards, and it is just the nicest day to be out of the office a smidge early and on one's bicycle - not too hot, the wind is a tailwind or a sidewind, but thankfully never a headwind.

After a little rust-bucket tries to change lane on me; as in literally on me, and I direct a cheery little stream of profanity into their open passenger window, I shrug and give up on my fellow hoomins and pop on over to the adjacent bike lane. I'm pretty mellow this early in the cyclist hunting season.

Why was I not already in the bike lane, you may ask ? Because it is in absolute shit repair, it's a shared walking/cycling path, strewn with abandoned shopping trolleys, potholes, inexplicable drifts of sand and gravel and pedestrians who walk five abreast ignoring our mandatory bike bells - in other words it's a bloody disgrace. And also because it's not mandatory to ride in a bike lane.

So I bip on over and join this dude waiting at the lights on the bike path. I think I've seen him around, and I suspect from seeing him in passing he has an e-bike. I think not much more of him than that; lights change, off we go.

Of course I'm out in the lead, because my bike is awesome. I see an approaching pedestrian, walking on the wrong side of the lane naturally, and I go to change lane to allow them to pass without disturbing them, but I can't, because old mate from the lights is suddenly riding in parallel with me; he's in the wrong lane, huffing and puffing mightily and very red in the face, and more importantly boxing me in so I can't move for the walker. I look sideways at him in amazement, but he won't  move.

The pedestrian steps off onto the grass, no doubt going home to write in their blog about "bloody cyclists" racing through Macquarie Uni.

Eh. Sometimes one races, and sometimes races are thrust upon one.

I SMH, and actually put some effort into it, and leave him and his red face and flying droplets of sweat behind. I don't mind chatting about my bike's capabilities, and I'll happily cop to it being electric, but don't try and shoulder me off a path and expect me to drop back to protect your ego. Yeah, c'mon, if you think you're good enough. Just don't be a dick about it.

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He chased me all throughout Macquarie until I entered the National Park and he dropped further and further behind in my rear-view mirror. I vaguely hoped I wasn't leaving a corpse by the path side for the next cyclist to have to bunny-hop over.  

I got home and patted my bike fondly. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who trolls a Glitter Boob March ?

Bedwetters who probably still live at home with their parents have threatened violence against marchers in New Zealand's upcoming "Glitter Boob March".

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But the trolls make a good point; any imbecile mouth-breather can take a car and murder a group of people.

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And to make a no-doubt empty brag that that's what you're going to do to a group of women ?

Pathetic waste of human skin.

I'm all for finding you, locking you in your beloved car, and sending it off to the crushers.

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Buh-bye, tosser.

 

 

Seriously, Bicycle Queensland can go get fucked

After a recent survey finding that Queensland cyclists were terrified of local motorists, the PR-disaster is that is Anne (not-so) Savage of Bicycle Queensland came up with this little gem for the ages;

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Where to start !? So many wrong wrong wrong concepts in one statement.

Oh, okay, let's unpack "Ride White".  Obvs no-one at Bicycle Queensland read the news in 2017, because this campaign went soooo well for Nivea last year;

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So thanks BQ, for associating cyclists with White Supremacist hate groups, like we don't have enough problems already. Good work !

Skin as smooth as a baby

Skin as smooth as a baby

 

"Fly the White Flag". Why stop there ? Why not suggest we all wear "The White Feather" ? Again, no students of history at BQ, or are there ? Are we just dealing with a bunch of white-shoe-wearing, Mango-eating, Toad-licking surrender monkeys ? Bah. A pox on the lot of you.

 

And the classiest move of all, the appropriation of the hashtag #WhiteHelmets ?

The White Helmets, officially known as Syria Civil Defence is a volunteer organisation that operates in parts of rebel-controlled Syria and in Turkey. The majority of their activity in Syria consists of urban search and rescue in response to bombing, medical evacuation, evacuation of civilians from danger areas, and essential service delivery. 159 White Helmets have been killed since the organisation's inception.

So yeah, steal the name of some of the bravest volunteers the human race has to offer for your shitty victim-blaming bike campaign. Anything other than demand better enforcement of road rules by our police forces and legal system.

Seriously Bicycle Queensland, rethink your life choices.

 

 

 

Charmed, I'm sure

During Sprocketman's month off, which intersected quite nicely with the maximum two days running without interruption I managed from Spokes(wo)man Global Financial Industries; we went and had lunch together.

This is quite the novelty for us. We sat at an outdoor table at one of our favourite Thai restaurants, which sadly borders on the carpark for that strip of restaurants and shops. But, still school holidays so the carpark was practically empty, and certainly the twenty or so spaces in front of the restaurant, next to our table, were.

Volcanic Chicken, to go with my mood.

Volcanic Chicken, to go with my mood.

Until. A big ute arrived, parked right in front of our table and left the engine running. And running. And running. Aaaand running.

Finally we looked through the cloud of exhaust to see what the wanker from "Jamie's Gardens" was actually doing. Reading his phone. Great.

Just as we were about to walk over, tap on the window and ask him to switch his engine off or hey, just piss off, he jumped out of the cab and collected his takeaway, then drove away, no doubt to blight someone else's life.  

Ten minutes later a woman with kids came and did the same thing - this time we made a few gestures, apparently the right ones because she drove off much faster.

But seriously, who does that ? Parks next to an outdoor restaurant table and leaves their engine running.

Entitled, thoughtless.

 

 

 

Oh yeah, so that happened.

At the time I was understandably preoccupied and so didn't get around to finishing my post about it, but back in August I finally did it - I crashed, and it was spectatcular.

I was reminded of this unfinished crash-post yesterday when I almost severed my finger with a pair of electric garden shears. As I contemplated the blood streaming down my arm I said to self "Well, that's the second finger on that hand totally stuffed now" which reminded me that I hadn't yet finished writing about the incident involving the first finger.

So early August we swapped out the tyres, the derailleur and the gear system on my beloved Jarifa electric bike. That day was a clusterfork in it's own right, we got to a certain stage of the installation of all these new things and then Sprocketman said in a spritely tone, "And now we just need to drop it off to Jake to finish the rest."

This was news to me, and certainly to Jake, because you need to book bike services several days in advance, it was past midday on a Saturday, Jake doesn't open Sundays and I needed to ride this to work on Monday.

Awesome.

What should have taken an hour or two took closer to five. I helped in the workshop, took a nap in the car, read a book, eventually Sprocketman and I went to an exhibition at the nearest museum, and came back and it still wasn't done. The workshop was closing around us and the bike mechanics were working by candlelight when the last forking cable was shoved into it's allocated space within the frame cavity and victory was declared. After many thanks and hugs and a case of beer we bought for the mechanics, we left.

After a few commutes I wanted to take the bike out and give it a proper, uninterrupted lash on a long bike path. I wanted to test the new brakes, the new gears, see how fast I could go when not inhibited by traffic and road rules.

After what was a good day of riding and getting to grips quite literally with the new gearing system, we headed homeward. Just like frisky young thoroughbreds who sense their stable in the distance, it's fair to say we were absolutely fanging it on the last stretch homeward. A miserable two kilometres from the end of the path on a corner descent there is a series of speed bumps, and you can get some quite good air under you as yourocket along. I was literally thinking about Peter Sagan's early career as a BMX rider when I hit the last bump, jumped, and landed really really badly. The bike wobbled, the tyres skidded in the loose grit and gravel to the side of the pathway, I braked but couldn't stop nor steer out of it. Later on my Garmin would tell me I was going 40 km/h at this time impact. This, then, was it.

I growled  "No nonnononono" quite angrily, however my bike failed to respond to voice commands and as I brought my left arm up to shield my face I hit first the metal guardrail and then the metal fence behind it, compacting my shoulder painfully into my body. I can still hear the crunching noise. My left hand snagged on the fence and was twisted until yanked free as I continued on my merry way. The impact and the momentum spun me around and the guardrail smashed me along and under the jawline and Isweartogod it felt like my skull was being lifted off my neck, the thought flashed through my mind that this was what decapitation felt like. I really thought it was coming off at that second. I continued the spin, went over the guard-rail on my right side, hit the fence, bounced off again, this time flat onto my back back onto the pathway.

Silence.

I couldn't move my legs, but I rolled myself over with my only weakly working limb, my right arm, and grabbed my legs and pulled them under me to try and sit up. I looked down. My left hand was crunched into a tiny fist with my fingers plaited at highly improbable angles. I couldn't understand why I couldn't feel specific injuries, until i realised my entire body was in shock and I couldn't feel specific injuries because everything hurt so much. And then I tried to move my left arm. i yelped a little bit right there, as the bones seemed to crunch under the surface, so I stopped doing that.

I used my right hand to unplait the fingers of my left and wiggled them. They moved rather sluggishly but that hurt too. I realised I was on a blind corner on a descent and was a pretty good target for the next cyclist who could be along at any minute now, so I tried to gather my legs again to stand, and fell over onto my other side This was not helpful.

Sprocketman who had been in the lead was now a good few hundred metres away, and I needed him back right now. My phone was god knows where, my bike and airhorn too far away to reach. I let out a huge Tarzan-like roar of pain and anger and hoped wherever he was by then, he'd hear and come back. I'm not saying birds stopped singing in the trees and prides of lions sought shelter, but it felt very very primal. And it felt good to get all that rage out.

Sure enough a minute later Sprocketman arrived on the scene and helped me off the path with a cheery "C'mon Hoogerland, walk it off." 

Jonny Hoogerland preserves the shreds of his dignity but not much else as he is forced through a barbed-wire fence after a crash with a TdF media car. Three years later he received his insurance pay-out.

Jonny Hoogerland preserves the shreds of his dignity but not much else as he is forced through a barbed-wire fence after a crash with a TdF media car. Three years later he received his insurance pay-out.

This made me simultaneously laugh, wince in great pain, and vow to kill him at a later date.

He picked up my poor bike, noted I'd bent the carbon rods of my new pannier rail (thank you Tailfin for the replacement).

I looked over the side of the embankment at the sharp rocks and the fall to the concrete canal and thought I'd come out of this better than I might of. 

I was truly worried I'd broken a collarbone, but I could feel everything else starting to come back, including the pain. But I could, very wobbly, now stand.

And you know what ? I had no choice but to get back on my bike and ride out of there, back to the car. I don't know how long the walk would have been, but i couldn't face it. We hoisted me into the saddle and I peddled back quite slowly, with an ow ow ow ow whenever i had to exert any more than basic levels of effort. I hadn't cried or snivelled, and I rode out of my crash. In that moment I felt a lot of empathy for the pro-riders who limp along after an accident to finish the stage.

Back to the car, had a drink, instantly threw up. Made it home, showered the blood and grit off, fell into bed. Lay there apparently with concussion, took few days off work, worked from home the rest of the week, saw a doctor, diagnosed with all sorts of things, the most annoying being the whiplash which took 3 months of treatment to really get on top of. The longest lasting was/is the bruise I still have on my inner leg, that's now on it's 17th week and still present. The weirdest was the third finger of my left hand. The nail polish was peeled off in a single intact sheet from my left index finger, and the nail was intact. The polish remained on my other fingers, holding together the crazy-paving that was the fingernails of the rest of my left-hand. Once I felt safe to remove that I was left with this curiously stunted finger, I seem to have compressed it, losing several millimetres in length of my nail bed and my finger overall. It no longer hurts, but it's definitely wonky and has a ski-jump angle to it now that is really quite noticeable.

Ah well. Frail and uncertain is the life of the professional hand model.

So, I have now crashed and lived to tell the tale. I ride a little slower on descents now, but apart from that, nothing has really changed. if I could go back in time and tell myself to take that corner more carefully I would, but only to avoid the ongoing nuisance that was the whiplash symptoms and its treatments. Everything else passes. Another fear faced.

What's the difference between a crash (as I persisted in calling this) and an accident ?

This is a point of contention between media and cycling advocates; and with good cause. An accident is when you are following all the rules, not speeding, driving to the conditions such as fog or rain, and generally being a good, law abiding person, when something happens to you that you didn't contribute to and couldn't have forseen. It couldn't have been helped.

A crash however, happens when you are breaking some rule or law, speeding, riding furiously whatever, and could reasonably foresee that something you are doing could lead to an incident or crash.

In my case, I was speeding, taking a corner too fast and jumping over speed humps. My poor decisions, and mostly my fault, with a nod of the head to the arsehole road engineer who placed speed humps on a descending corner of a bike path.  

Writing an article and attributing a poor decision making process to an accident does no-one any favours, and leads to the view that these things can't be helped, let alone mitigated.

Yet look at the root cause; were they speeding ? Using a mobile phone, fiddling with the radio ? Been drinking ? 

Every one of those are decisions, not accidents.

And back to my crash; to top it all off, we had to ride out past the crazy Magpie who had attacked us in the past, had in fact swooped us on the way into the ride. 

Eugh. I was already in pain and quite stiff, so the thought of revving up to outfly this motherforking bird was not what I could deal with right now - but again, we had no choice.

We agreed to ride in parallel at a certain speed, and then as the Magpie swooped, to speed up and ride out of danger, leaving the Magpie having misjudged our speed and foiled yet again, bwah hah. 

We agreed to do this. The Magpie however was not in on the plan.

We hit the down ramp quite quickly and I was actually enjoying myself a teeny bit, when we saw the shadow cross the sun, a harbinger of doom. "Go go go" I think I yelled, "Here it comes" yelled Sprocketman at the same time. We floored it. But I rode too fast, Sprocketman slightly too slow, and yes dear Reader, he took a Magpie in the face for me; greater love hath no man etc etc.

And you know, at the car as I was vomiting in a ladylike fashion into the gutter and Sprocketman was wiping the blood from the cut under his eye from the Magpie, I was thinking "I really do love my bike. I wonder when I can get my next ride in?"

Been there, got the t-shirt

Been there, got the t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firefly

No, not that Firefly !

Ahh, good times though...

Nope, this Firefly is a terrific invention which turns a manual wheelchair into an electric scooter.

From riomobility.com

From riomobility.com

It looks pretty quick to attach and detach as required; and I thought of the guy from my bus (see earlier post) who sometimes has to wheel himself home because the buses on our route often aren't wheelchair accessible. Sprocketman and I saw him miles from the train station the other day, about an hour's walk as I know from experience. I wonder if something like this would  change his life for the better ? 

And imagine if he had this, and safe and separated bike lanes to roll down ? True independence; as long as you remember to charge your battery ! Trust me, been there ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, remember the umm, 17th of December ?

As you ride your bicycle-cycle along, minding your own business and being a good global citizen, your peace is often rudely shattered by some close-passing dick in a car or on a motorbike. Oft-time I've wish I had a handle-bar-mounted paintball gun to tag their precious metal boxes with some sign that indicated their sub-standard attempts at driving.

Look, driving's a bit of a skill, and let's face it, it's not for everyone,

But this Italian cyclist has taken it an interesting step further with an improvised rocket launcher;

Various media articles have described this as bizarre, but I dare say there's no cyclists amongst those journalists or editors.

What do cyclists think about it ? Pretty much we're all helping him with ideas on automatic ignition and working on his range-finding.

Just popping down to the workshop; BRB.