Archive for the ‘Edinburgh’ Category
In the United States, we market electric cars to celebrate Earth Day. City officials in Medellin, Colombia, however, banned cars from city streets to encourage the use of bikes, walking and transit to work today.
Residents were encouraged to Apaga el motor, enciende tu corazon — ‘Turn off the engine, turn on your heart’ — in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on April 22, 2014.
A municipal decree prohibits the use of private cars today, in an attempt to reduce pollution levels and to promote the use of public and alternative transports.
This year marks the 7th year of Medellin’s Day Without Cars campaign. ¡Una bici más!
Warren T in Overland Park, KS has a request:
I’m trying to get some suggestions from various bike commuters regarding cool stuff they’ve seen at Bike to Work Week events. Overland Park, KS has asked me to help them come up with some fresh (for them) ideas.
“Safety Culture” is the concept that acting safely is considered the norm in the workplace environment. Researchers have been working for about the past decade to transfer lessons from workplace safety culture to a “traffic safety culture” to improve road safety.
At a workplace with safety culture, shenanigans and attitudes that can get people maimed and killed are not tolerated, while safe behavior is encouraged and rewarded by everybody. In a workplace with safety culture, safe behavior is the norm, and people who engage in unsafe behavior are ostracized.
Last Friday, the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) at UC Berkeley hosted a seminar and panel discussion on ways to improve traffic safety culture in California. The presenter Bayliss Camp (PhD in Sociology) supervises the Driver Competency and Safety Projects Unit at the California DMV. He serves also as a member of the California Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), the SHSP Traffic Safety Culture Task Force, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Safe Mobility of Older Persons (ANB60), and the TRB Roadway Safety Cultures Subcommittee.
SafeTREC says they’ll have slides and audio from the presentation later this week, but some nuggets from SafeTREC to think about in the meantime:
- Camp says culture is dynamic and changeable. Consider, for example, American attitudes about drunk driving, which have changed dramatically over the past half century. 50 years ago, it was considered acceptable to drive drunk. Today, drunk driving is mostly considered socially unacceptable. MADD changed the stories and symbols to change enforcement and beliefs so that if you have a DUI, you’re a bad person. Changes in attitudes regarding seat belts and child seats have also occurred. Advocates are now working to make the use of mobile devices while driving similarly unacceptable.
- Law enforcement plays a role, though their role is not exclusive. In the past, police and judges gave drunk drivers a pass if nobody was injured. Today, we have checkpoints and sentencing.
- Historically, traffic safety measures have focused on individual behaviors, but that has translated into “it’s the other guy’s fault” and legal defenses involving the soporofic effects of the new car smell. Nobody realizes “that idiot driver” often applies to themselves. In a traffic safety culture, everybody realizes their potential culpability and accept responsibility for their actions.
- Speeding: 40% of California drivers admit to believing that driving more than 15 MPH over the speed limit is normal and not immoral. The road in front of my home has a 35 MPH speed limit, which is about right. The 85% percentile speed is 50 MPH, which is insanely sociopathic. (See how I did that? I labeled scofflaw speeders to mark you as evil in the hope that I can change traffic safety culture.)
- Bicycles: The attitude that bikes should stay to the far right is a cultural thing. I’ve written before how this discriminatory cultural attitude against bikes on the road is a result of intense lobbying and marketing by automotive groups such that today many people hold the mistaken belief that bikes are “dangerous.” (See, I did it again: I called you “mistaken” if you believe bikes should stay out of the way of other traffic.)
There’s a whole host of law-breaking behavior that’s considered “normal” when driving, and traffic enforcement is often considered to be nothing more than a form of revenue generation rather than an expression of public policy and safety. We have a long ways to go before we have any kind of traffic safety culture in the United States. Several groups actively fight these efforts to create a traffic safety culture (can you believe that?), but I’m glad to see people working on these issues.
Teen actress Kiernan Shipka poses with a Linus bike for Vanity Fair magazine.
You can view the complete slideshow at Vanity Fair.
For more photos of people who bike, click through to the Celebrities and bicycles category. Steven Rea’s coffee table book Hollywood Rides A Bike features nearly a hundred photos of movie stars on bikes.
Mike in San Francisco was underemployed a couple of years ago, so he taught himself welding via YouTube videos and built what he calls the Bombr Bike. More photos below, because there’s more here to this frankenbike than initially meets the eye.
This Bombr Bike can tow two more bikes. You remove the front wheels, pop the front forks onto the mounts shown here, and store the front wheels in those carriers.
Mike uses this bike to shuttle his two small children and their bikes to the top of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California. The shuttled bikes are then removed, front wheels replaced, and dad and children bomb down the road to the bottom of the mountain.
Where do the children sit? This Bombr Bike is a three seat tandem. Kid Number 1 sits in front of Dad and helps to pedal, while Kid Number 2 sits on that crazy motorcycle saddle in the back.
Here’s video from a year ago showing this family’s maiden voyage down Mt Tam, with bonus footage of a gravel riding roadie at 2:10.
More adorable photos of the kids and their bikes at Mike’s Tumblr: Bombr Bikes Obsession.
Back when the recently deceased Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a journalist for El Espectador in 1955, he reported on the scofflaw cyclists who endangered ordinary citizens.
“Rampant cycling fever and especially reckless cycling plaguing the city in recent days has led to numerous accidents because of the Tour of Colombia bicycle race,” reports Marquez. “These urban cyclists take to the streets, convinced that they can race like [famed Colombian bike racer] Ramon Hoyos. It’s almost like driving while intoxicated – and can result in a fatal accident.”
“The Department of Traffic and Transportation in Bogota, alarmed by the rising tide of bicycle accidents, has launched a program to soundly beat back the irregularities in cycling. Police Motorcycle Lieutenants Alejandro Ceron and Roberto Acosta have worked twenty-four hours just to punish these irregular cyclists. They have seized around 300 bicycles.”
Marquez lists the infractions that resulted in seized bikes in the name of “safety”: riding without a bicycle registration tag, riding without a bicycle license, and riding through a zone where bikes are restricted.
Umm, yeah. That’s what I thought, too.
In addition to his gripes about the 1950s equivalent of Lycra louts and unregulated bicycle rental businesses and sales, Marquez thought it “alarming” and “disturbing” that Bogota’s Department of Transportation had only 500 bicycle licenses on file, while an estimated 150,000 people rode on city streets.
You can read his original article in Spanish at El Espectador: La fiebre del ciclismo” en Bogotá.
Mike Ceaser, who runs Bogota Bike Tours, compares the then-and-now of bicycle conditions in Bogota, noting that things have apparently improved dramatically since Bogota police cracked down on a five year old children for riding their trikes without a license.
Kim Kardashian was seen riding a bike during a photoshoot in which she’s apparently emulating Audrey Hepburn.
More at Yahoo Celebrity: Kim Kardashian Falls Flat While Channeling Audrey Hepburn. Via Mark Volpe of Arizona.
Portola Valley, California is a wealthy town nestled in the hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. With an average median income of $244,000 per year, it’s the sixth wealthiest community in California with the ninth most expensive housing in the nation.
It’s also a great place to ride. Residents of Portola Valley and nearby Woodside perpetually complain about the weekend traffic jams as hundreds of road cyclists pass through their towns. When the wealthy residents of this area (including the CEO of my employer, who also happens to be the fifth-richest individual in the world) ask San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks to intervene, the sheriff listens.
They can’t legally keep bikes off of California roads, so they harass them with nuisance tickets
because safety in the hopes that the cyclists will go somewhere else. Large groups of a dozen or more people will be pulled over at once and motorcycle officers write citations for all the cyclists. Some of tickets — especially those for supposed violations of CVC 21202 (California’s keep far to the right law) — are routinely dismissed by the court. Others are bona fide violations, especially when cyclists roll through the stop sign as they make the right turn at the T-intersection from Alpine Road onto Portola Road.
Sure, cyclists should obey the law. The selective nature of these enforcement actions, however, really grates on the people affected. Cyclists are routinely ticketed, motorists are routinely let off the hook.
In case you doubt the assertion that everybody breaks the law on Alpine at Portola, I invite you to view this brief video from Slonie. Unlike the two cyclists shown in the Streetview image above who have their feet down at the intersection in spite of the complete lack of cross traffic, every one of the drivers in this video fails to come to a complete stop at the stop sign.
So how about it, Sheriff Munks? When will you begin to write tickets to these motorists?