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Old 09-07-05, 02:28 PM   #1
slagjumper
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The rough side of advocacy. You gona do anything?

Forget making motorists feel guilty for sucking up all of the oxygen, out and out killing forty-thousand a year, melting the ice caps and adding billions national debt, just let loose and rant them into dumping thier cars. Well at least motorists might soon consider buying more candy bars (at a time) to save gas.

http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/ar...plete&ref=4776

Rant ARCHIVES
9/1/2005

Get Off My Back, Motorists!
Writer: MICHAEL BROWNE, POINT BREEZE

Iíve heard the complaints against cyclists -- theyíre rude, they donít obey traffic laws, they scare me, they slow me down when theyíre climbing hills in groups.

But to be honest, Iím a cyclist, and I donít care what an automobile driver has to say. Hereís why:

The built environment has no consideration for my needs. A perfect example -- you know those pressure-sensitive pads that activate stoplights? I, as a cyclist, donít weigh enough to activate them. So if I want to obey the rules like Iím supposed to, I have to wait for a 2,000-pound mobile object to slide up within three feet of me. Ever wonder why I donít move over to let you pass? Our fair city of Pittsburgh doesnít have lanes, although theyíve been promised for many years, and then slashed from the budget at the last moment. Our streets arenít wide enough for me to avoid obstacles and chance getting knocked off the road by you, the inconsiderate, impatient driver.

And in case you havenít been paying attention, automobiles are nice self-contained units that keep their passengers oblivious to the stink of catalytic converters and the noxious poison thatís released through a tailpipe. And you wondered why I go to the front of a line of cars at a stoplight.

Ever wonder why I blow through stop signs? Because most people in cars already roll through at about the same speed Iím traveling. I can stop on a dime, unlike your metal monstrosity, so I feel comfortable maintaining my speed. And I have more visibility, unlike a driver with safety beams and a carefully crafted windshield. I donít stop because unlike cars, my bike doesnít move forward by pressing my foot an inch downward. Every ounce of momentum I have, Iíve gained through my muscles or the use of gravity. Are you pissed because you have to wait a few seconds to pass me? Well guess what: Itís barely an inconvenience to you, but whenever I slow down to let you pass, I have to work twice as hard to get going again.

But I donít want to complain about the physical constraints of riding a bike -- thatís one thing I love about it. While you are getting fat and frustrated, I am staying lean and fast. The better to kick your ass, should you challenge me like that semi-truck driver did on Penn Avenue between Fifth and Penn Circle.

Ever wonder why I donít smile at you, even though you might be attractive? Because the convenience of car travel that you take for granted is exactly whatís killing this society. And for that, I resent you. One person driving isnít killing the world, but an environment that continually encourages personal combustion-engine travel is the reason weíre facing problems in the world today: obesity, terrorism, energy shortages, lack of national health care. (Itís expensive to pay for triple bypass surgery -- healthy people are cheap!)

So thatís why I do the things I do. Some day, when gas is more expensive than a bottle of fine wine, youíll see me out on the streets. And for once, Iíll smile at you. I might even help you figure out how to fix a flat tire. Until then, stop honking at me to get out of the way.
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Old 09-07-05, 02:33 PM   #2
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Great. Thanks for posting this!
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Old 09-07-05, 02:34 PM   #3
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I hear him. Yes it would be nice if we could react with all sweetness and light, but this is more real. I hear him. Of course, my snarl about cars honking at me to get out of the way is that I do not honk at them to get out of my way, and believe me they do. I lose about 10 times as much time waiting behind cars than they ever do me.
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Old 09-07-05, 02:38 PM   #4
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Right on.
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Old 09-07-05, 03:27 PM   #5
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Ever wonder why cars often treat bikers like garbage? One only has to read the origainl post and most of the replies so far.

BTW they are not pressure-sensitive pads at lights and I've never met any cyclist, motor or not who can stop on a dime.
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Old 09-07-05, 03:31 PM   #6
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I don't know about it. I think this letter would do more to generate anti-bike sentiments with its tone ("you are getting fat and frustrated" "you are resentful", etc..

It has some errors to:
-Sensors are not weight triggered. If they don't work, complain to the city, not the fellow road users.
-Cars dan stop faster than bikes (if going same speed at start of stop)

And some things I don't like:
-starting effort is muscle and energy, if you dont' like it, don't ride a bike, but breaking laws is not excuse to avoid muscle use

Al
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Old 09-07-05, 03:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith99
Ever wonder why cars often treat bikers like garbage? One only has to read the origainl post and most of the replies so far.

BTW they are not pressure-sensitive pads at lights and I've never met any cyclist, motor or not who can stop on a dime.
Where are the replies???
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Old 09-07-05, 03:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I don't know about it. I think this letter would do more to generate anti-bike sentiments with its tone ("you are getting fat and frustrated" "you are resentful", etc..

It has some errors to:
-Sensors are not weight triggered. If they don't work, complain to the city, not the fellow road users.
-Cars dan stop faster than bikes (if going same speed at start of stop)

And some things I don't like:
-starting effort is muscle and energy, if you dont' like it, don't ride a bike, but breaking laws is not excuse to avoid muscle use

Al

OK some minor details that are not right... and certainly complaining to the city doesn't always fix things... I know, I have tried.

I look at this letter as a response to all the negative letters written in about cyclists, such as the one from the retired Arizona cop that suggests what happens to cyclists is just our fault as we are "stupid" for riding in the streets.

This is just one little piece of the arc of the swing of the media pendulum...
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Old 09-07-05, 03:49 PM   #9
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Those sensors are eddy current sensors. Who here rides a steel bike with enough material in the frame to set off the sensor? I own three steel framed road bikes, but none are enough to activate a sensor consistently.

I agree with the article in the OP. Why should we appologize for being out on the road? Why shouldn't the unique abilities of cyclists be catered to?
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Old 09-07-05, 03:55 PM   #10
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Look I agree with the sentiments, just not the style of the letter.
To Genes point - all the negative letters about cyclists deserve response, yes, but I don't see stooping to their level of name calling and attidude neccesary. I see a much more positive response being sticking to facts.

I've never appologized for being on the road.

Al
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Old 09-07-05, 04:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
Look I agree with the sentiments, just not the style of the letter.
To Genes point - all the negative letters about cyclists deserve response, yes, but I don't see stooping to their level of name calling and attidude neccesary. I see a much more positive response being sticking to facts.

I've never appologized for being on the road.

Al
I read it as a "I'm not gonna take it any more..." response to motorists in general.

And frankly I really do see his points... and the attitude with which they were delivered, which is why I now carry wallet sized cards to give to motorists that just generally screw up and piss me off... like the guy that told me to "move to the right" several weeks ago on a quiet Sunday morning, while there were 2 empty lanes of road for him to use, just to his left.
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Old 09-07-05, 08:48 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=Keith99]Ever wonder why cars often treat bikers like garbage? One only has to read the origainl post and most of the replies so far.
QUOTE]

I thought that it was because they hate everything, fellow "cars" included. I think that it is a interesting in a " I am mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" kind of way. I have seen many letters to the editor rants that are initiated by the bike-haters I think that turn about is fair play. I do not go so far as to not smile at people-- I more have pity on them.

As far as the comments about fatness, this is definately not the bike advocacy ideal-- it instantly alienates 40-60 percent of Pittsburghers-- heck even I am 3 pounds over weight. And I ride 100 - 200 miles every week. I am sure that many car-ies, friends and coworkers see me and my slight, by today's standards 185 pound frame, pedaling somewhat easily up hills and think to themselves, "I could never do that" or "that's for bike geeks like him".

But isn't saying "Ever wonder why cars often treat bikers like garbage?" a bit like saying Doom made me kill? The writer of the letter is pissed and for good reason.
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Old 09-07-05, 09:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
breaking laws is not excuse to avoid muscle use.
I'm having trouble with that part, too.

I've been riding bicycles my whole life, but I've only been doing it "seriously" (and I use that term loosely) for the last couple months. I'm surely the least experienced cyclist in this thread.

But from what I've learned so far, here's my philosophy:

There are plenty of folks out there who believe my bicycle and I belong on the sidewalk or on some recreational bike trail to nowhere, but certainly not on the streets of my city. If I behave in a way that suggests that I am doing anything other than operating a street legal vehicle in a lawful manner, I think I've done myself and other cyclists a disservice. If I bend or ignore the rules of the road, I perpetuate the misguided notion that cyclists are irresponsible intruders in the exclusive realm of automobiles. Sure it's unfair that individual motorists can be as inept, distracted and aggressive as they want, without calling into question whether cars should be allowed on the streets. Sadly, cyclists don't enjoy that luxury. Kurtis Blow might describe this situation as "the breaks."
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Old 09-07-05, 10:00 PM   #14
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I've come to the conclusion that bytching at a motorists is like bytching at a headwind.

I just smile and shake my head.
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Old 09-07-05, 10:12 PM   #15
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Convenience ..... hehe

"Give me convenience or give me DEATH!!"

Wait a minute .... what's being done to Mother Earth...

"Give me convenience AND give me DEATH!!"
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Old 09-08-05, 01:10 AM   #16
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I live in a town of about 8000 people. I find most drivers around here are very curteous to me and my wife when we ride, even on the country roads with no bike lanes. The old guys in their pick-ups and gals in their SUV's don't drive much faster than I ride anyways. I own one of those environmental catastrophes called a Chevy Suburban. I use it to travel with my family across country when visiting family. I love it!!! I also have a Toyota Corolla for commuting, as I live over 22mi from work, so bike commuting everyday with my schedule is simply not feasible. I try to ride 2-3 days a week.

If anything, I find the most rude people who treat cyclists badly are the ones I encounter when I get to the city. What is it with city people? I can be solidly in the bike lane, and still get harassed and have objects thrown at me. I have never been treated with so much disrespect by anyone in my town.

I remember riding down a country road once, and I saw an old farmer guy in a pick-up truck waiting in his driveway to pull out onto the road. He was almost 200 yards ahead of me. I looked behind me to see what he was waiting for. A car? A motorcycle? A tractor? Nope. He was waiting for little old ME. It's not like he was digging through his glove box or changing radio stations either. He actually watched me the whole time as I approached. I was cruising about 20mph, and it takes a while to get that far past him. He could have pulled out way ahead of me, and had plenty of time, but he waited anyway. After I passed, I waved, he smiled and pulled out the moment I was past him. I get this often where I live. I like the common respect people pay each other. It's a shame the cities I ride in are some of the worst examples of respect I have ever seen. And that's in Seattle and Tacoma. Cycling cities. Go figure.

What's my point with all this? Well, I guess anger can go both ways, regardless of how you get around, whether it be by car, or bike. People just don't respect each other anymore. That letter is a perfect example.
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Old 09-08-05, 07:32 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patriot
I live in a town of about 8000 people.

If anything, I find the most rude people who treat cyclists badly are the ones I encounter when I get to the city. What is it with city people? I can be solidly in the bike lane, and still get harassed and have objects thrown at me. I have never been treated with so much disrespect by anyone in my town.
There's your answer. In your small town you are not anonymous. In a big city, you are. People behave very differently when there is no direct shame for their actions. Its the same reason internet posters talk big but would never say something like that to your face.
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Old 09-08-05, 08:17 AM   #18
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I can trigger lights with my bike. And recently I sent a request for maintnance to the city about a light I couldn't trigger, and just yesterday, probably two weeks since I sent my request, I triggered a light that has vexed me for a long time.

I don't like the guy's excuse for not stopping. Basically he's lazy, self righteous and justifies himself with "everybody does it logic." Yesterday a couple of guys who obviously were irked they couldn't pass little ol' me on my geeky recumbent (uphill no less) finally blew by me by running a 4-way stop. Just as the other direction had the right of way. Once I got to the stop everybody just waited for me because, you know, you can't trust what those crazy cyclists will do.

As far as fatness goes, I have to agree that car culture is part of the problem. But don't kid yourself that biking = skinny. I can't seem to lose any weight riding a bike.

I enjoyed the letter anyway though. An honest rant like that feels good sometimes. It was a fun read even if I didn't agree with all of it.
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Old 09-08-05, 09:27 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
Those sensors are eddy current sensors. Who here rides a steel bike with enough material in the frame to set off the sensor? I own three steel framed road bikes, but none are enough to activate a sensor consistently.
Eddy currents are NOT dependent on ferrous metal. Any conductor will work. And the inverse cube law applies, so the frame is NEVER going to set it off.

Your rims are the closest thing to the road. Best way to trigger a sensor is to stop with your rims right on one loop of the sensor. If this doesn't work, the light is defective and you can treat it as a four-way stop legally (IANAL, and I don't know all state's laws). You don't get to ignore it, but you can stop and go when it's safe.

I like the letter in general, including the tone, but I still don't agree that anything is an excuse for disobeying the laws. Every time someone sees a bike disobeying laws, that person loses respect for cyclists (I don't care that "everyone else does it" - people overlook the sins of their own peer group but easily see them in others).
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Old 09-08-05, 09:42 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
Those sensors are eddy current sensors. Who here rides a steel bike with enough material in the frame to set off the sensor? I own three steel framed road bikes, but none are enough to activate a sensor consistently.

I agree with the article in the OP. Why should we appologize for being out on the road? Why shouldn't the unique abilities of cyclists be catered to?

The secret is Steel pedals.

My Ritchey V4 pros have enough cro-moly in them (as in the entire pedal/axle/bearings/etc) to set em off. I just put the engaged foot at 6 o`clock, and my cleat right on top of the line for positioning pruposes, and the pedal activates it a good third of the time.

However, we need a radar based signal...it would be far nicer.
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Old 09-08-05, 09:53 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ridley
Eddy currents are NOT dependent on ferrous metal. Any conductor will work. And the inverse cube law applies, so the frame is NEVER going to set it off.
My ride is aluminum.

I stop with my bottom bracket over the point of the loop where the conductor enters (usually the upper right). Except for one cranky light on my commute, I rarely have problems tripping the sensor.
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Old 09-08-05, 10:29 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ridley
Every time someone sees a bike disobeying laws, that person loses respect for cyclists (I don't care that "everyone else does it" - people overlook the sins of their own peer group but easily see them in others).
I think that a cyclists disobeying the law is a personal thing with no neccessary connection to motorists' attitude. I just don't think that poor biking ettiquitte causes significant bad actions towards cyclists. As far as overlooking the sins of their own PG, I just dont see that. A motorist might not care if she is passed on the freeway by a speeder, but might get irritated if someone takes an unauthorized path out of a parking lot, while she sits with hundreds of others to take her fair turn. Most road rage happens to other motorists. No would be road rager thinks, "oh wait he is a fellow driver, I am not going to shoot him". As members of the underclass, cyclsists have to be more aggressive to be respected, or even to earn a place on the roads, unless ecconomic conditions change all of that. of course if everyone biked that would slow my commute quite a bit.

There are many legal things you can do with your bike that will turn folks off. You are supposed to ring a bell when overtaking a ped, sometimes the peds hate that. There is no sign saying that I cannot ride my bike in the giganitc Baccus fountain on campus, but if I do others will undoubtably look on and think what an ah.

I think that Americans are too much in a hurry to go nowhere. In general "our" lives suck so badly that time in the car is seen as quality "me time". It is a time when "we" are in control, unlike the other 90% of the time. Dont forget, we are not alone in distain for motorists, it's just that the Amish buggy folks and combine commuters dont have much of a web presence to biatch.

Even if it is trash talk it gets people thinking about bikes cars, gas and other things that the status quo would rather forget.

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Old 09-08-05, 11:36 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ridley
Eddy currents are NOT dependent on ferrous metal. Any conductor will work. And the inverse cube law applies, so the frame is NEVER going to set it off.

Your rims are the closest thing to the road. Best way to trigger a sensor is to stop with your rims right on one loop of the sensor. If this doesn't work, the light is defective and you can treat it as a four-way stop legally (IANAL, and I don't know all state's laws). You don't get to ignore it, but you can stop and go when it's safe.

I like the letter in general, including the tone, but I still don't agree that anything is an excuse for disobeying the laws. Every time someone sees a bike disobeying laws, that person loses respect for cyclists (I don't care that "everyone else does it" - people overlook the sins of their own peer group but easily see them in others).
You are right. The magnetic field is induced by current in the loop, and an eddy current is induced in any conductive material placed in the magnetic field. I'll keep your advice in mind.
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Old 09-08-05, 12:35 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I think this letter would do more to generate anti-bike sentiments with its tone.
You may be right, but note the context. It's not a letter to the editor. The piece is written as part of an on-going series of Rants in an alternative city paper. Readers expect the column to be provocative.
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