Pet Peeve #3,207 “It was just an accident”

This sort of lazy misuse of the word “accident” makes me so mad. From KTLA

Bicyclist Killed in Possible Road Rage Accident.

Seriously, if it was “road rage” then it stands to reason that it was not an “accident”. Why does it make me mad? Because it’s indicative of a far too common apologist attitude when it comes to crimes being committed by automobile drivers. Far too often motorists get away with recklessly, sometimes intentionally, maiming or killing cyclists, pedestrians, motorcylists, and yes, even each other because “it was just an accident”.

The English language is a rich and varied tapestry, full of synonyms with gradated meanings. Stop calling it an “accident” every time a car crashes. I know that the media is careful (for the most part) not to assign or imply blame, but they should also be more careful not to implicitly absolve (alleged) perpetrators of blame which is exactly what the misuse of the word “accident” does.

Sturmey-Archer S3X 3 speed fixed-gear hub

A few years ago when the folks at Sturmey-Archer announced that they were developing a 3 speed fixed gear hub, I was super-excited. This was tempered, however, with the worry that it would never see production due to it being something of a niche product.

Then, back in March of this year, suddenly they were actually available for purchase. Naturally, I wanted one. Bad. But, given that it’s a >$200 piece of kit, I wanted to get some first-hand opinions of it before I took the plunge and had a wheel built around one. I turned to the internet (specifically to the newsgroup) for info. Right away I got some feedback which further convinced me that I really “need” one. The only real issue anyone seemed to have with it was the amount of lash (15° at the hub seems like a lot, but when you factor in gearing, it’s not that bad at the pedals).

Then, just a few days ago, I got an email from “Rogerzilla” which was a far more detailed and technical review than I would have ever hoped to elicit. With his permission, I’m reprinting it below.
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Giro d’Italia to start in the USA

From Cycling Weekly (read the full article here):

The Giro d’Italia will announce tomorrow its plans to start the 2012 edition in the USA, becoming the first Grand Tour to start outside of Europe, according to Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, anything that increases American interest in cycling is a good thing. On the other hand, it’s just stupid. Seriously, the logistics are nightmarish: An 8 hour flight from DC to Milan, a 6 hour time difference… and don’t even get me started on the insane amount of jet fuel and other resources wasted by transporting the equivalent of small city across the Atlantic Ocean, twice, for no good reason.

Granted, the sport of cycling can use the exposure (particularly here in the US), but there has to be a more sensible means to that end.

Dayton City Commission unanimously passes Livable Streets Policy

From an article in the Dayton Daily News:

From now on, whenever a street is scheduled to be built, rebuilt, resurfaced or repaired in the city of Dayton, traffic engineers and planners must consider pedestrians, bicyclists and bus riders as well as cars in their designs.

Adoption of the policy, the first in the region, got top billing in this month’s National Complete Streets Coalition newsletter, released Wednesday, Feb. 17. It will also fulfill a critical requirement in the city’s first application — submitted today — for Bicycle Friendly Community status with the League of American Bicyclists.

Now if they could just get a handle on the almost-daily shootings.

Read the full article here.

OBF Safer Passing (“3 Foot”) Bill to be Introduced Monday

What follows is a press release from Ohio Senator Teresa Fedor. I just hope that:

A) The bill passes, and
B) It will be enforced once it does.

I’m dubious about the latter, though. I’ve seen too many reports from states that do have a “3 foot law” where a cyclist is hit by an overtaking motorist, yet no charges are filed against the motorist. Progress is slow, I suppose.


From State Senator Teresa Fedor
11th Senate District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Ursula Barrera
September 23, 2009 (614) 466-5204

Senators Teresa Fedor and Mark Wagoner to Announce Bicycling Safety Bill Local cyclists and Ohio Bicycle Federation Representatives to Attend

Columbus, Ohio — Senators Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) will announce the introduction of a bicycle safety bill September 28, 2009 at 10:30 on the west lawn of the Statehouse. The legislation will define a safe lateral passing distance of three feet when a motor vehicle passes a bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle. The Ohio Bicycle Federation President, Chuck Smith, will be in attendance to speak in support of the legislation. Local riders and those injured by the failure of drivers to observe a safe passing distance will also be in attendance.

“Cyclists often do not feel safe riding in their neighborhoods or to work because of unsafe distances between cars. We must make Ohio streets safer for our over one million cyclists,” said Senator Fedor.

Senator Fedor, joined by Senator Wagoner for part of the journey, completed her 3rd Annual Bike to the Capitol tour during Bike to Work Week. The ride reinforced the need for bike-friendly communities and safer roads for those who use bicycling as an alternative mode of transportation. The tour took Senator Fedor from Toledo to Columbus over a 3-day period on a “Campaign for Healthy Kids and Communities”. The event was geared toward raising awareness about quality physical and health education standards in schools, alternative means of transportation and bicycle-friendly communities.

For more information on bicycling issues, check out the Ohio Bicycle Federation’s website at

Wherein I Opine About Headlights, Headlamps, and Such

I’m a firm believer in adequate illumination for night-time cycling. My personal set up for the last several years has been: A 7 LED red “blinky” light mounted to the seatpost and a 12W Cygolite halogen (I know, I need to get with times) mounted to the handlebars (henceforth: “headlight“). I’ve heard various people rave about head-mounted lights (henceforth: “headlamps“) over the years, but have resisted their pull, at least partly because of the perceived (on my part) dork-factor.

Anyway, some time ago I bought a Garrity 1W Luxeon LED Headlamp because of Woot having a great deal on them and my inability to resist a bargain.

Tonight I finally strapped the headlamp on and went for a ride. Oh, my God! Why did I not do that sooner. My old trusty headlight does a fine job of illuminating the road, especially the road right in front of me, but what an incredible addition the headlamp was. Its tightly focused beam allowed me to see well beyond where I could have otherwise (a real blessing when descending at speed) and the fact that it went where I was looking was most helpful, particularly when cornering and turning. It would also be quite helpful for the game of “skunk or kitty-cat” I sometimes play.

I wouldn’t want to ride with just the headlamp as its beam is too tightly focused for general illumination, but I can’t imagine riding at night without it now.
Now I just need to make the jump to an LED headlight, too. Boy, am I glad I didn’t drop several hundred dollars on an HID system a few years ago! LED’s are so vastly superior (for bicycle applications) in every significant way (more efficient, less heat, no mega-expensive short-lived bulbs to replace).

I Love New York (part 1)

“They” tell you not to make eye-contact with people in New York and for heaven’s sake, don’t speak to people in the city or on mass transit. I say ‘bullshit!’ Don’t talk to the visibly deranged or those who obviously don’t want to be bothered. Otherwise, go for it. Who knows what interesting conversations and experiences you might be missing, sitting in your insular fear-cloud.

Here’s a picture which perfectly illustrates my point:

Messenger on Metro North 5-15-09
Click to embiggen.

If I hadn’t engaged him in conversation I could have said “I saw an interesting bike messenger on the train.”

Since I did, I had the pleasure of chatting with him for a bit and when I asked if I could take his picture, he struck this great pose. Just as you’d suspect from the photo, he was a very colorful and interesting character; one I never would have met if I’d listened to “them” and their “conventional wisdom”.

My vacation

It’s been a busy few days. I drove to Connecticut to my little sister and brother-in-law’s Tuesday (the 12th). Due to the traditional late start, I didn’t roll in until 4AM Wednesday, which meant that Wednesday was basically a recovery day.

Thursday was DaveCon. I rode the train into NYC from CT, met up with all my a.f.l. pals and had a fabulous Late Show experience. Then we shot the Tony Mendez Show (starring Tony Mendez) and off to dinner. Tony joined us at dinner and, as ballet season hasn’t started yet (he’s a huge fan), this year he stayed all evening, eating, sharing behind-the-scenes gossip and shouting “no more pictures“. A more in-depth DaveCon trip report is in the works. (DaveCon photos, here)

Friday I again rode the train in and met Traci, Helen, and the no longer yella Brady for pie. Due to some bad directions I was a bit late and missed Micah and David Yoder. Helen and Traci were headed to see the new Trek movie at the I-Max theater and Brady was bound for points unknown. I headed out to shop and sight-see by bike. Once I got going I was so totally overcome with, and enamored by, the rush of slithering through traffic that I lost sight of everything else. I weaved my way up the East side, through Harlem, into and around Central Park then down through the theater district and Times Square. Basically the only stops I made were to grab a hot dog, a pretzel, a banana, a slice of pizza, etcetera, devour it, and jump back on the bike. Finally, spent, I made my way back to Grand Central Terminal. I thought I could take my bike on any off-peak train and so I bought my ticket and boarded the 8:04 train to New Haven. Along comes the conductor and informs me that no, I have to wait for the 8:35 train, so, dejected, I get off the train and wait. Not a big deal, Grand Central is a wonderful place to pass some time, I was just tired and ready to head ‘home’.

Saturday and Sunday were spent hanging with the family and the doggies and a wonderful home-cooked meal, complete with a Vermont Mystic Apple Pie (thanks, sis, and Danny, for finding the pie).

Monday was another day of riding in NYC. Pie for breakfast then another train ride into the city. The weather was a bit cool and threatening-looking so the wind breaker put in an appearance (all day). I was a bit more successful in my shopping endeavors, and had a delightful lunch/snack in Chinatown. I had some sort of mystery cake; a dense sponge-type cake, covered in crushed nuts and filled with banana creme. This, a cup of tea and a big slab of fresh-baked bread set me back the princely sum of $2.10. (Cycling Manhattan photos, here)

I really can’t overstate how much fun I had. DaveCon was, once again, everything I could hope for (well aside from not getting the tour or photo-ops at Dave’s desk. Curse you, Kevin Spacey! And a pox upon you too, “Survivors”).

Cycling in Manhattan was, quite possibly, the most fun I’ve ever had. Weaving and slithering through traffic I felt, quite literally, like some kind of super-hero. I really do love New York.

Special thanks to all those involved for making it the trip of a lifetime (you know who you are).

Tuesday I drove back home and got to see Pennsylvania by daylight for the first time. It’s a lovely state. I’m thinking of relocating to Sugar Notch, PA.

Oh, and Kevin Spacey? You’re still on ‘the list’.

Contact points

Why is it that my hobbies punish me for neglecting them? Too much time off the bike means a sore ass as I start to ride more. Playing my mandolin too infrequently means seriously painful, bordering on blistered fingertips upon picking it back up. I really need to get busy building up (and maintaining) some calluses.

Spring Fever

Does the Spring Fever make one shop compulsively? If so, then that’s probably what I’ve got. In just the last two weeks I’ve bought:

5 new cycling caps (what the Hell, they’re cheap, right?)
1 “new” CPU (another 3.0G/512K/800Mhz Pentium 4)
Yet another video card (for a thus-far unsuccessful attempt to run CUDA on Kubuntu).

At least they’re all fairly small (<$50) purchases, so I guess it's not so bad. It’s not like I’m buying new bikes or fancy new wheelsets (yet).

Amazing Trials Bike riding

This just totally blows my mind. I shudder to think of all the horrific face-plants and ass-bustings that come along the way to being able to do this.

The bit at about 3:08 literally made me blurt out “Oh my God!” the first time I saw it.