Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sorry, I'm late to complain about the same thing yet again

Last Sunday, there was an important event in the downtown Boston that I obviously missed. Hundreds of cyclists rode through the city to demand safe streets, namely - more safe bicycling infrastructure like real, protected bike lanes, not just those with painted lines.

Boston is one of the oldest American cities and was built long before the car era started, which means that there are plenty of narrow streets with limited space for large vehicles -perfect locations for pedestrian (or ped+bike) zones. Despite that, cars dominate the downtown. You would think that in XIX century, following excellent examples around the world, the City of Boston would want to change this obsolete design and open its streets to people. I'm guessing it's not going to happen anytime soon. Citizens of Boston may want it, tourists may want it, even daily commuters may want it, but the city doesn't give a damn. There is simply no political will to change things, despite deaths of numerous cyclists in recent years.

But then I'm thinking that maybe I'm wrong.

Maybe the City doesn't want to change anything because most people are perfectly happy with status quo. The same people think that it's not drivers' fault that people are dying on Boston streets. No. They think that "cyclists are the worst thing that happened to this city" and they have solutions to it.

First, of course, as a cyclist you have no right to demand safe infrastructure if you don't wear a helmet:
Next, know that you are a parasite who uses roads for free, because you don't pay "road tax":
Then, clearly, if you want to ride in the city, you have to be licensed and registered:
Finally, you certainly don't deserve any respect and place on road because it's so obvious that you never obey the rules:
I think it becomes perfectly clear now that our city does the right thing. No stupid protected bike lanes are necessary. Citizens don't want them. Instead, they want all cyclists to be helmeted, taxed, licensed, registered, identified, painted red, beaten up and kicked out of the city.

Then, we'll finally find our peace.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sorry, I got distracted but at least I didn't kill anyone

Sorry, I got so distracted by my life that I didn't realize a half of this month is already gone. I'm trying to ride my other bike a bit more recently but it turns out to be difficult sometimes, since lots of local trails are still flooded and inaccessible.
Soggy spring has arrived and everything started blooming slowly. Still no leaves on trees but at least we know they are coming soon.
My distraction is meaningless, but in general, cell phone distraction is now one of the most common collision causes on road. It turns out that 88% of smartphone owners use them while they drive. You can easily imagine what may happen when you look at the screen of your smartphone and not the road. If you can't, take a look at the pictures of this head-on collision, when a Texas driver killed 13 people because he was texting while driving 80mph. He was allowed to text and drive as Texas is one of only four states that doesn't ban it.

It's pretty clear we have a huge problem and you would think media should notice that. Unfortunately, they prefer blaming victims (duh!), which leads to some ridiculous situations when The Today Show blamed pedestrians for collisions because of "distracted walking", which "they illustrated by showing a video clip of a person being struck by a driver while standing on the sidewalk"! Clearly, whether you are distracted or not by your cell phone's screen, cars or trucks should never be a threat for you when you're on a sidewalk.

It seems that we've got a new technology and this tech is now killing us, because of our strong dependence on both smartphone and cars. Interestingly though, we already have a solution that would essentially turn smartphone into "dumb" phones when driving. It was developed a decade ago but no cell phone provider is interested in implementing it, fearing lost profits.

So don't text, tweet, instagram, email or whatever else, when you drive. Remember that you are operating a heavy and powerful vehicle that can easily kill someone. Be like Spiderman - with great power comes great responsibility.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Winter, spring or summer?

Last weekend I decided it was finally time to start this year's "cycling season" and explore some surroundings a bit further from home.

I drove to Leominster, then rode around the Wachusett Mountain. Or at least I tried to, since spring hasn't arrived there yet and snow was everywhere. In fact, the summit was not even accessible with the main gate being blocked by a huge pile of snow.
I had to skip the ride to the summit and try my luck elsewhere. It was still pretty cold early in the morning but later on as temperature raised, you could feel that warmer days were coming. I actually enjoyed riding along Parmenter St in Leominster State Forest despite all the frozen snow on the ground.
To be fair, this place would be way easier to ride once snow melts completely, but even then make sure you bring wider tires. Parmenter St is not really a street at all but more like a very rocky forest road. I guess that's what makes it a place fun to ride.
Now this was two days ago and situation has changed dramatically since then. Snow is pretty much gone and now we enjoy... summer with air temperature reaching 80F (27C) today. It's a strange kind of summer though, with no leaves on trees (yet).

This warmer weather also means that suddenly everyone recalled those two-wheel machines stored in basement and as such, bike paths are now full of seasonal cyclists.

The season is officially open. Cyclists are here. I'm just waiting for pollen to arrive.