14 January, 2008

Bike Related News

Here are a few news stories that caught my eye:

From ASAHI SHIMBUN comes a story about very sensible new bike related laws taking effect in Japan:

Proposed revisions this spring will ban cyclists from holding an umbrella, listening to music, gabbing on the phone and riding in other reckless ways, sources said.

In particular, wearing headphones while listening to a music player or talking on the phone and steering with one hand will be banned.

"Triple-riding," an unsafe practice in which a rider carries two children on a bicycle in attached front and rear seats, will also be prohibited.


Parents will be required to ensure their children wear helmets while riding their own bicycle or when riding as a single passenger on a bike.

Other more minor infringements, such as constantly ringing a bicycle bell while riding on a crowded sidewalk, will also be discouraged.

Of course some of our friends in London, Seattle, and Portland may see more of a need for brollies than we do. Speaking of Portland, the New York Times had a piece about efforts there to prevent bicycle traffic fatalities. While I applaud these efforts, I would also like to see bikes viewed as real vehicles, at least in city centers where speed limits could be set at 15 or 20mph. That is, they should occupy a full traffic lane, as does a motorcycle or scooter.
“Ghost bikes,” riderless and painted white, were placed at two busy intersections in Portland, Ore., last October, makeshift memorials to two bicyclists killed when they were hit by trucks in accidents that month.
This spring, at those same intersections and at 12 others across the city, “bike boxes” will be laid out on the roadway to provide a clearly designated place for cyclists, in front of and in full view of drivers, to wait for traffic lights to change. The boxes will be marked with signs and wide stripes alerting drivers to stop behind them at red lights.
The Europeans really know how to encourage bike use. From the very very cool Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog:

Employees in the southern region of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration [Statens Vegvesen] are rewarded for riding their bikes or walking to work. They can look forward to an extra week of holiday per year.

Senior Engineer Rune Gunnerød rides to work more or less all year round. The right clothes, a good bike and good, cleared bike lanes have made it possible - now it is just pure pleasure.

The offer from Vegvesenet is part of a larger environmental strategy. Employees who bike or walk to work recieve 4 hours free each month and that adds up to a week of holiday in the course of a year. In addition, the employees must exercise four hours a month in order to qualify.
In Denmark, the Socialistisk Folkeparti [SF] - one of the nation's largest political parties - has always been known for it's environmentally friendly policies and proposals.

They came up with a clever one eariler this year, aimed at reducing illness. In short, reducing VAT on healthy foods and paying people to ride their bike to and from work.

Danes should be healthier and illness should be prevented rather than treated. SF proposed paying cylists 1.78 kroner [€0.23 / $0.36] per kilometre to commute by bike. Companies and the city would pay the wage which should be tax-free for workers and tax-deductable for companies.


Anonymous said...

Yep, I remember seening a picture of a Japanese girl riding in a mini skirt and high heels, while holding an umbrella and talking on the cell phone. They really do that over there. A neighbor who traveled there not too long ago confirmed it.

Anonymous said...

Today I rode my daughter to kindergarten while she sat on my Nitto M12 rack. A short distance, we were late, and I had for weeks been walking her to school while she sat on the rack. Probably not recommended, but I will do it again. Tomorrow I will try it in a mini skirt and heels, carrying an umbrella and talking on a mobile phone.
Michael Burdge

Chris Kulczycki said...

Michael, Please send a photo so I can post it!

Michael S said...

Michael, please don't. :)

zman said...

Even though I'm a libertarian old fart (well not that old really-51) I try to encourage bike travel in my little New England town.
We have an abandoned rail line that runs right into the center of our town, goes near the schools and connects to a nearby borough, but trying to get it set-up for all-round use is an exercise in futility. Why, you ask? Mostly the excuse is "It will have a negative impact on property values", even though it never gos near anyones yard. Or, "It's not in the budget", which I have never taken the time to investigate, but seems unlikely the way this state, CT throws money at rail-trail projects. I'd love to see it, along with some mass transit between cities to help ease current/prevent future traffic congestion. Cars only emit 20% of all this pollution out here, but the commuting thing is just nuts.
On a lighter note, I've seen foreign babes (say what you will, but they are babes) at Formula 1 races getting around on bikes wearing not-too-much, and they are definitely skillful bike handlers despite the heels etc. Maybe they're afraid of road-rash.

Anonymous said...

Ah... Scandinavia, the most civilized place on the planet. I can't wait to go back - maybe in the winter next time for some XC skiing for a change of pace. Some people dream of an island, a beach, Tuscany, Provence, etc... I dream of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and, to a lesser extent, Finland.

Julian said...

zman, perhaps you should use Bloomington and Normal, IL as a positive example of in-town rail-to-trail conversion and use. The main spur of the Constitution Trail runs straight through both towns, and there are 24 miles of trail in all including all of the offshoots, with more planned. When we moved here last year we chose our house in part because it is 1/2 block from the trail and 1/2 block from a bus line. Here being close to the trail increases property values. Lots of use of the trail, from commuters like me to recreational and family users. It is great! http://www.normal.org/Gov/ParksandRec/Facilities/ConstitutionTrail.asp

Ian D. said...

I just returned from my first trip to Japan. I was less startled by the old ladies riding with umbrellas (when it's not raining, they have a stylish way of wedging their umbrellas between seat stay and rear rack) than I was by the teenagers who ride while reading comic books. Everyone tools along at about 8 mph, though, so it's not so scary.

On the plus side, many train stations and apartment buildings have covered bicycle parking (and lots of it), and the typical inexpensive bike has fenders, a front rack w/basket, and a headlight. Best of all, you see a lot of old folks riding bicycles.

Also, I was able to order a nice, reasonably priced 160mm 110bcd crank (for my wife) from the corner bike shop. They got it for me in two days.

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

I don't read the daily mail and neither should you unless you're a character on Eastenders who is recovering from a lobotomy but this was in my mail this morning and I thought I would share.


C said...

I thought it was interesting that in Paris - a city with traffic as bad as anything in the US - people rode the Velib rental bikes around town without helmets and in all manner of dress. I did ask one of the Paris cops if it's caused any problems and he did say they've had a big jump in accidents and were being told to crack down on errant cyclists and motorists. Still, it was a refreshing departure from the "If you don't wear a helmet you'll die" mantra people in this country seem to go by.

I think the one big advantage all these European cities have is that they were built pre-auto. They all seem to be compact and feature fairly narrow streets that often have lots of bends to them - not a car friendly design but great for walking and riding. Many of our cities (especially out west) were built after the arrival of the auto and as a result are too sprawling to be truly friendly to the average person on foot or bike. I don't think there's any easy way to fix that.

zman said...

Thanks Julian, I'll keep pushing.

Stephen said...

Seeing "bike" and "ban" in the same post makes me suspect. I often ride while listening to music, including commuting daily in the busy streets of NYC. I keep the volume low enough that I can hear traffic and street noises, but still enjoy a good beat. This is not to say all cyclists who ride listening to music do so responsibly, but I don't want to be penalized by the recklessness of others any more than I'd want my fixed gear bike banned because some riders can't handle them. What next, banning all bikes because some riders run red lights? This is America, after all, not Japan.