Taipei Bikes Work

Last Friday in Taipei, I went for a second ride with Dahon to test ride some prototypes and hang out. On the way, Josh Hon and I riffed about how we ride in the U.S. all decked out in Spandex, cleats, and helmets, whereas in lots of other places in the world, bikes are just normal part of life, no fuss required.

Apropos that conversation, in Taipei I saw people moving themselves on bikes, but I also saw a ton of people using bikes for work–such as this ancient woman grunting a load of who-knows-what to who-knows-where. These three wheelers were everywhere–some heavily modified with gas-powered motors and low gearing. But only this one was moving slowly enough for me to get a photo–whatever she was hauling must have weighed a ton.

Photo: Grunt, originally uploaded by mobil’homme.



2 Mile Challenge in Davis

Sue, in charge of the Hugga Hookups, had a chat with the 2 Mile Challenge bus boss and got the down low from a recent stop in Davis, CA. There’s also lots of photos of the Davis stop and more on Flickr.

Video available on our Huggacast.



Team Bike Hugger on the Cross Circuit

Racing Cross I finally got my single speed cross bike setup. Saturday was a shakedown ride, and today was the Redline Cup at the Kelly Creek Cross Race. I’ll spare you the details of the race, but will tell you that hanging out with a bunch of ‘crossers is a great way to spend a Sunday. The atmosphere at a cross race is like a party with people bundled up for the fall weather, tipping back some beers, snacking on bbq, ringing the cowbells and yelling for all they are worth. That, and it’s a GREAT way to have a go at racing. It’s a no-pressure environment, most any bike is welcome, and you can get a 1-day license for $10. Interested? - post a comment with questions and we’ll do what we can to make sure you have what you need to get started.

looping coursesThe courses typically loop back on themselves and offer many good vantage points for spectators. Vendors join the fray to offer all sorts of goodies and raise money for a number of causes. Today’s race was to benefit a local Bonney Lake Food Bank. One of the cool aspects of the race is that people tend to “adopt” riders during the race. A couple nice folks at the top of the run-up were vocal BikeHugger fans by the end of lap 3. The kit gets noticed as I got a number of comments after the race. One guy even came up to me to ask if “are you the guy that raced with Cipo?” - YEAH!

Demonstrating my somewhat fluid dismounts:Racing Cross



How Clif Bar Rolls

In Huggacast Episode Eleven, we go inside the Clif Bar biodiesel bus before it departed on the 2 Mile Challenge tour. Clif Bar’s 2MC is educating the masses to the benefits (personal and for the planet) of urban cycling. Clif Bar found that 40% of urban travel is 2 miles or less and the magic bus demonstrates how easy it is to ride to work, school, or the store – all within 2 miles.

Bike Hugger is working with Clif Bar to blog from the various cities the 2MC visits.



Cyclists safer in numbers?

Biciclette fumettose

The New York Times Freakonomics folks had an interesting run down of studies on cycling safety a couple of days ago, under the title Will Bicycling to Work Get You Killed?. Timely considering another recent fatality here on the West Coast.

The intuitive answer is that the more riders there are, the higher the chances of a fatality. The article sites a counter-intuitive result from the Safety in Numbers study (Full text): “An individual’s risk while [cycling] in a community with twice as much [cycling] will reduce to 66%”.

Weirdly, the Freakonomics article morphs this study (and a few other links) into a discussion of cyclists obeying traffic laws and helmets. The cited study actually draws a very different conclusion: more pedestrians or cyclists cause motorists to behave differently.

It seems unlikely that people walking or bicycling obey traffic laws more or defer to motorists more in societies or time periods with greater walking and bicycling. Indeed it seems less likely, and hence unable to explain the observed results. Adaptation in motorist behavior seems more plausible and other discussions support that view.

The Pucher study noted in the Freakonomics article looks into the methods used in the Netherlands and Germany to improve cycling safety. Almost all of the methods noted improve infrastructure or law enforcement:

  • Better Facilities for Walking and Cycling
  • Traffic Calming of Residential Neighborhoods
  • Urban Design Oriented to People and Not Cars
  • Restrictions on Motor Vehicle Use
  • Traffic Education
  • Traffic Regulations and Enforcement

Maybe I missed it, but I really didn’t see much information in the cited articles about how helmets or cyclist behavior was involved in improving safety. I’m all for education and safety equipment, but I’m always amazed at how the media discussion tends towards pushing responsibility for safety away from infrastructure and motorists.

The only mention of modifying cyclist behavior in the studies is Pucher’s note about traffic education for motorists and non-motorists. In addition to encouraging motorists to be aware of non-motorists, children overseas are routinely educated in defensive behavior when dealing with traffic. Genius, I say.

The Jacobsen and Pucher studies were published about the same time, so it’s easy to see how they failed to influence each other. From my point of view, Pucher et al could have added another item to their list: More cyclists in the Netherlands and Germany made all those cyclists safer.

The other cool thing here? Getting your spouse, friend, or evil arch enemy to ride makes you both safer. All the more reason to get everybody out riding. Bring on the bike busses!



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