Tag Archives: commuting

Designing for riding…

Riding out to retrieve my wallet-type unit from work,  my mind did its divergent thing.  Yes, I want to design airbags for the back of a bike. Getting clocked in the rear is a serious fear for cyclists (the rationale behind riding against traffic — but just get a mirror!) tho’ the statistics say things like right hooks are more common.

I suspect, though, that the statistics they are a-changing. Hopefully the right hook stuff is decreasing with better engineering and education, etc. Unfortunately, with the sharp increase in distracted driving, the looking elsewhere and plowing into whatever is in your way would seem to be increasing.

I’d like the airbags to be able to be activated from the handlebars, as well as via collision.   I’d need a few more physics courses, but something shooting backwards would serve to propel the bike forward, which would decrease the relative speed difference between the SUV and me,. as well as providing padding.  Or perhaps forego the padding.  Do something creative with CO2 cartridges … that if the car were within a foot or so, would have an effect (so that if the rider just set the thing off it wouldn’t do something to actually cause a crash.   Of course, the James Bond version would have more creative features.

Then I was thinking of the folks who come down to the bike project who don’t know how to change a tire… or for whom it’s a painfully clumsy process. because of annoying little physical limitations.   THose bus bike racks are elegant and simple and industrial strength.  Could we figure out a tire fixing station like that? Maybe you’ll need a swipe card to get access. It could have a stand and then you move the little ratchety nut grabber unit (if you don’t have quick release) to help you get the wheel off… and a way to turn the bike around to get the other side… then separate the bike from the wheel which is on that ratchety thing, and a telescoping lever helps you get the silly tyre off the rim.   Then you put the tyre around the rotating light thingy that shines a bright light so if there’s a hole you’ll see the light through it (well, okay, that’s not likely to work, but this is brainstorming, okay?) and a little brushy thing will feel for resistance, too, and stop and go BING! if it hits an obstructing staple or chunk of glass.Then you put your used tube in the place for that and get another tube from the place for those, perhaps after sliding monetary units. YOu’ve got your sliding directions panels (no, they don’t have to be touch screen ipad stuff 😛 ) and you change the tube, use the industrial strength lever to get the tyre back on the rim, and… get that bad boy on the bike and head back out.

It’s like self serve at the grocery, it’ll take time… and, welp, the app killer would be that like the grocery store you probly need somebody there to help.   But… worth thinking about…

And yea, I want the spritzer to decorate the sides of the crs with cell phone users with something highly visible.

Did I say invisibility was contagious?

I didn’t have further challenges today — but I think because I’ve absorbed the invisibility and factor it in – but it was a pretty dreadful day for cyclists on sidewalks today.



I’m rather afraid that since most people drive, the question will not be “what do we need to do to keep these cars and drivers from killing and injuring people?” It will be “we are the majority.  We *must* do something about these bicyclists. THe more of them out there, the more will die.”   And it definitely gives me the urge to get out my magic Engine Killer Ray and aim it at trucks and SUVs.  (added later:).  Welp, if that’s “antagonistic rhetoric” … wait and see what the reaction is.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I do believe many motorists will believe that cycling is more popular… and more accidents are happening… and that therefore, cyclists should for our own good find a different way to get where we’re going.

(Note to self:  remember that commenters on smile politely aren’t worth getting into a lather over, anyway.  I was accused of demonizing drivers… when I never said one single word about drivers.  Not one word.  I want the SUVs and Trucks to disappear.  Then they can’t hurt anybody.  No, it’s not rational.  )

(added 7/17 based on smile politely link)

Dear reader — it gives me the urge because it’s DEATH and DESTRUCTION …  but yes, I recognize that it’s not a rational urge.  That same magic Engine Killer Ray would turn the all the guns in the world into flowers, too.  It’s an urge.  It’s not something I’m going to try to invent.

I also reflected that my grandpa Dougherty defined defensive driving as behaving as if all the other drivers just might be completely drunk and irresponsible… and that the current version of it would be to remember that any given driver might be psychotropically medicated with “not the regular use” prescriptions for rage management. Hey, it does make one think before escalating.

Fahrenheit 451, anyone?

I went down Green Street tonight — yea, I do believe that flash flag slows ’em down.

Oh, and comments were disabled on the story about they guy that got killed.  Wow.  Chill, people.  Chill.  (I had commented a question — who had said that the rider fell into the street, the driver? — and the story was edited to reflect that witnesses had said so. I was the third comment… obviously things went downhill fast.)

bullet dodged :)

I went home instead of hanging around for Parkland Chorus last night.  Turns out to have been completely unnecessary – unless, of course, the fact that as I rode I mentally urged the snow to Stay South, Stay South is what kept it at bay 🙂 .  The radar had lots of blue just barely to the south of here… it stayed there.  Not a trace of the stuff. So, One more Day on the Consecutive Commutes Despite Dastardliness.

We are forecast to get an inch today, so I reserve the right to take the bus home… there’s radar returns to the N and S… but perhaps we’ll get lucky again.

Much, much more traffic today than yesterday.  No idea why.

Chilly and foggy ;)

Minnesota article on bicycle commuting in winter.

Glad I haven’t had to commute in the recent stuff; I wonder if Parkland would have closed Christmas Eve if it weren’t Christmas Eve.  Today it’s pretty dense fog … not quite as dense as that Monday last year when the air like this stuff (very humid and gulfy) charged over lots of snow and rendered us a huge, thick cloud.  Still, enough to preclude goin’ out on the prairie.  However, tomorrow I shall remember how good the prairie is, keep an eye on the radar, and see if I can find a window between the storms. (Don’t mind rain, but I’ve done my ride in lightning this year.)

Wondering if Tony from Atwood is doin’ his New Year Ride … Kent says Illini CHill is supposed to happen but he’s not doing it.  I sent an email to the illini chill address but haven’t gotten a response yet…

“best Christmas presents for pastors”

… number three on the list on this wordpress blog is a Dahon.  One of the reasons is that when you are on a bicycle, you’re so much more visible, which is especially true if you’re in a “uniform.”  (I suppose that could be a good or a bad thing.)  I’ve always liked presenting myself as somebody riding to work on purpose, instead of “I’d drive if I could” or “I’m training for something.”

Riding in this morning there was a huge truck – “two men and a truck  / movers who care” emblazoned upon it – on white just before First (where all that construction had been happening with consistent oblivion to folks on bikes).  It had its back up lights on so I pulled off to the right where I could be seen in the mirror to see what was happening… and then the two guys who *weren’t* just hanging around, but were doing directing and guiding, waved me around and the driver said, “Good MOrning, Sue!”… and unless I’m mistaken, it’s the current prez of the bike club.

A good morning, indeed 🙂

Oh, especially good because I successfully swapped nuts around (a regular Lance ARmstrong, I am!) and got the Gazelle home, though the back wheel seemed to be a bit lumpy.  I rode it from the coop home, then rode the Dahon to the coop and only had to go back a little ways when I realzied I had forgotten to take the nut off… put the nut on the Xtra wheel and the Dahon on snapdeck (alas, didn’t get to show the process off at the coop ’cause I wasn’t going to haul it up the stairs that way).

Then rode the gazelle to Race Street so I could do my online chat… remembering to go back and get the nut from the Xtra ten feet from the garage door ’cause it didn’t feel right… and this morning realized that the back tire’s just plain flat.

Fortunately, tho’ it was windy and snowy and awful for an hour or so in the night, it all blew away so the roads were Xtra-able this a.m.  It warmed up to 16 by the time I left. So, tonight… it’ll be bringin’ the big guy inside and trying to dissect its complicated back end to change that tyre, ’cause I”m pretty sure I did have the pump nozzle on right.    At least I have my previous experience well documented... though I’m afraid I don’t know where half the stuff I used is.  I’ll know where the sproingenheimers go… and now I do have one of thsoe telescoping tyre levers.  Oh, and one of the benefits to spelling it “tyre” is that it’s easier to find 🙂


Dropped off the car  at Enterprise and turned down the “can we drop you off somewhere offer” and took off on the Dahon… and it had NO TROUBLE going in.  I thought those wide tires were dreams even when there was that stuff called ice under me.  ( I didn’t  *turn* or anything for those stretches.)
Going home, on the other hand, was a different story.  I was nervous because there’s almost a hill on the campus drive, and, um, braking doesn’t mean anything on ice, and it was just plain ice.  (Not as slippery as That Christmas Night y’ars ago … but patches were.)  Then going up it there was an irregular spot and whoosh!  I slid out and that front wheel just horizontalized itself.  Just like Howard, I went down on my side and smacked the helmet, tho’ I think that swimming training worked in my favor again ’cause I did a theatrical slap with the flat of my hand, too… so no road rash, and not even much of ouch on my hip and I could bounce back up.  I commenced to walking and turned down the next driver by’s offer of a ride… but the next one was a math teacher I know and I was beginning to realize things weren’t improving.  Another driver let me know that one of my blinkies had fallen off and somebody had stopped and picked it up… and while we were folding the bike into the trunk, that person stopped (I couldn’t tell who it was in the dark, but he knew me) and handed it off.

We didn’t go home the way I would have but I’m reasonably sure I’d have been walking an awful lot of my route. The Gazelle would have handled it easily, I suspect, but the bike coop doesn’t open ’til Wednesday and it could be nasty by then again.

This morning I picked up a sponge and put it in my pocket – hip padding – but didn’t need it.  Roads very much better; it was just a thin layer, so it vaporized in the night.

Oddly, my driveway and concrete between house and garage were pretty devoid of snow, as if somebody had plowed – but I think the surface difference was exactly enough to mean everything stuck on the grass and nothing stuck on the concrete.  It even seemed riding in that concrete was less snowy than asphalt but that could have been an optical illusion since white shows up more on black, d’uh 😉 I’d have thunk the black absorbed heat better, etc…

Going home a little earlier tonight, but still after dark.  Welp, there’s that nice bus stop at the bottom of the hill… folders go nicely on busses, too. I’ll get my studs back soon…

speaking of red lights…

Over the holidays we talked traffic.  Here is a powerpoint in pdf format about red light cameras, including some dramatic footage of plowing into pedestrians with balloons flying, though it says the peds weren’t seriously injured.

Flurries :)

I purposely went fewer layers this morning, and found I had more energy.  Being bundled makes one more prone to want to huddle (it’s harder to move, for starters).

Actually saw WKG 44 going out to his car… he’s not that youthful a male after all (not old, mind you, but not a teenager).  I gave him a nod and a grin and he acknowledged me… as one would who figured he didn’t wnat to be rude.

I then proceeded to be all kinds of assertive in lane position as I spotted a Saturn approaching with less “lean to the left” than the usual early move-over that I see… and (probably as a result) that car nicely went around me, but it wasnt’ him.  ( parked cars prevented me from chickening out and moving over … tho’ I prob’ly wouldn’t have.)  Same thing when it *was* him, though he took even longer to move over.  He made it through the light, and I didn’t.

There’s too much slang in the world.  NY Times headline:  “If Detroit Falls, Foreign Makers Could Be Buffer”  – I’m afraid I interpreted that as healthier, sexier… but the  text beneath says “Experts say the foreign carmakers could take control of the industry and its supplier network more quickly than is understood.”  Oh, yea, a *buffer,* as in a mitigator of drastic change…


I was reading over at Cycle-licious about the “bike design for the masses” competition, which seems to me to be one of those “we don’t think it’s worth having this professionally done, so we’ll ask the amateurs” ploys.  A person could win a free Cannondale bicycle (tho’ if I’m remembering right, not one “for the masses,” since I remember from a down-time extensive-surf last winter that their website gave strong preference to fast road bikes – I was checking to see if Trek’s “Women who Ride” was an industry trend).

I tried a little brainstorming, and the following comment just sort of happened:
I want “OnStar” for my bicycle. Just like those ads, I want my wristband to tell me “Your bicycle has just been moved, and you have it in ‘park’ status. Would you like ONStar to activate the Stinky Squirtseat now?” at which point the seat would spew the contents of the little optional bag for riders who have issues with bladder control upon sudden stops.

Hey, we *have* the technology.

Oh, and from the comments over there (from “jack” who posted as anonymous) – a warning label for cars:

“As the licensed owner of this vehicle, I’m fully aware that driving such causes air pollution, noise, traffic and increases the likelihood of injuries to others, possibly death and property destruction. In addition, many of the dollars spent to propel this vehicle will be used by terrorist organizations with stated desires to inflict harm and possibly death to my fellow citizens and family members.”