> The press reports a stronger statement in a draft, but here's what it
> got watered down to:
Hard to find comparable final doc from the Dems, but here's a draft:
They talk about a new round of emission protocol negotiation that includes
China and India (p37), as well as cap & trade, green tech, conservation &
Both parties pretty much the same on climate policy as far as I can tell.
Much better information on energy and environmental policy can be found on
each of the Candidate's web sites, IMO.
Regarding the exotic bicycle, does it come with air conditioning?
> What neither contains is research and market development money for
> better bicycles, which would be high up my wish list.
> I am talking about this kind of entirely human powered vehicle that's
> significantly faster than ordinary bicycles
> which I'd love to buy (certainly if it sold for less than 4900). I'd
> say this a classical case of a market failure, where there is no
> market because small series production and development costs are too
> high, and where the state could create one given enough initial
I've been meaning to write about this for some time, so Heiko's prompt
is a convenient nudge.
Every so often someone comes up with a new "transport revolution" -
there was the Sinclair C5, the Segway, and numerous bicycle designs and
power attachments such as http://revopower.com/ . Generally they are
touted as solving the oil crisis, global warming and urban congestion
all in one.
But in practice these "solutions" actually seem to spend their miserable
short existences looking for a suitable problem to solve. The
inconvenient truth is that the world is not waiting for a better bicycle
to solve its transportation problems, or even a better motor vehicle,
and Michael's post points out one of the reasons why. The other reasons
include the inherent laziness of 95% or more of the world's population,
habit, social pressure and status. I like to think that many of these
factors can potentially be changed, but they will certainly not be
changed by a "better bicycle" that shaves perhaps 20 seconds off your 20
I'm sure they make good projects for engineering students, but I am
amazed that people devote so much time and energy to solving a problem
without actually thinking about what the problem is!
(Perhaps it is overkill, but for the sake of completeness I might as
well point out that the vehicle Heiko is interested in would undoubtedly
be /slower/ on my commute.)
Why set your sights so low? I'd go for a 10x speed-up, and make the
bicycle sequester carbon as it goes, filling up a tank with liquid CO2
to dumped at collection points. Oh, and all for $100. With a McDonalds
Meal Deal voucher thrown in for free.
Back in the real world, there are reasons why that isn't going to happen
in the next century, let alone within your working life. And there are
reasons why the bicycle design hasn't changed much in over 100 years,
not /all/ of which are due to UCI restrictions on racing :-)
Human-powered vehicles in a range of designs are already easily
available, and do offer decided advantages at high speeds on open flat
roads. They are no better, and often markedly worse, for practical
transport. This is because they do not have the versatility,
portability, adaptability and manoeuvrability. And they will always cost
substantially more, partly because the market where they actually do
have advantages is so small (almost nonexistent outside of HPV race
events, in fact), and partly because they are larger and more complex to
design and build.
> I also think the government can hammer motorists in the name of
> safety, in particular I want automatic speed limiters put into cars
> that make it impossible to driver faster than 30 in a 30 km/h zone.
> And I want bicycle paths to separate the bicycles from any traffic,
> where speeds above 30 km/h are allowed.
Well I agree that more speed restrictions in urban areas would be a good
thing in general, but separate-but-equal (not) routes are generally not.
The assumed danger of /sharing/ roads with motorised vehicles is rather
small, and the danger of /intersecting/ such routes is much greater. So
swapping some of the former for more of the latter is a bad move.
You will note that in practice where separate-but-equal (not) facilities
do exist, it is inevitably the cyclist that has to give way and take
detours when a conflict occurs. That's not going to do much for your
> I've got a commute of 35.5 km. Cycling that takes me an hour an forty
> five minutes, unless I've got the wind at my back, then I can do it in
> an hour and twenty five minutes, but it'll take me two and a half
> against the wind.
I'm surprised you are so slow if the route is flat and clear. If it is
hilly and congested then a spiffy design isn't going to make any
significant difference. Regardless, the number of people with >30km
commutes who are just waiting for a better bicycle before they adopt
that mode of commute can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand
worldwide, and maybe even without going past the thumb...
What really could make a difference, and does not require any
technological miracles, is acceptance of they bicycle as a practical
means of transport over modest distances (say up to 5 miles, which
covers 75% of car trips in the UK). That is primarily a social issue,
not a technological one. In my experience, most people who say "I would
love to ride a bicycle, if only problem (insert arbitrary reason) was
solved" actually mean "I don't want to ride a bicycle and am
regurgitating the most socially acceptable/convenient excuse".
I think you're just agreeing with James. The better bikes part of /2
is negligible. Certainly for me, who has to do the two long sides of a
triangle, a new bike path is the answer...
> I also think the government can hammer motorists...
Sounds very like wishful thinking. Experiences here suggests that
hammering motorists in the name of anything at all scares politicians
witless (just witness our inability to get the over-70's (or even
over-80's) to retake driving tests).
William M. Connolley | www.wmconnolley.org.uk | 07985 935400
Well, car drivers killing people isn't very nice, and we put up with 10
of them a day in the UK (I understand that the USA is far worse, as is
most of the rest of the world). Societies are obviously free to decide
how they wish to allocate resources, and the provision of free plentiful
parking is of course a huge hidden perk to the subset of people who use it.
In the UK, there have been moves to treat workplace parking explicitly
as a taxable perk. I don't know how far this plan has gone. Of course it
was met with predictable howls from the motoring lobby but I don't
really see how they can object to paying the costs of their choices. Car
parking is an extraordinarily wasteful use of land in expensive urban
areas, and spaces are offered to rent for up to 3000ukp per year in
central London (I could probably find higher prices if I tried). I'd be
very happy to pocket that much extra salary and ride a bicycle instead.
Even where land is cheap, imposing additional travel time and cost on
others is still a factor that needs to be considered.
Ah, google tells me that Nottingham is planning to introduce this levy
shortly, and it will ramp up to 350 UKP per year by 2010. I'm sure that
a pound per day is substantially less than the cost of commercial car
parks in the area, and they won't even be at more than 70% occupancy.
Not just the motoring lobby, but everyone, because predicatably enough
firms don't want the overhead of working out who drives, so the easy
fix is to just charge everyone, which really winds people up.
Really? I've certainly heard of cases of firms threatening to pass the
charge on to the motons in their staff. Of course there is potentially
the issue of occasional occupancy, but an increasing number of employers
use pay-parking anyway where the tax could be covered by the daily
charge. If I was charged for a parking space I would permanently park up
one of these in it, and at least get some enjoyment out of it:
But then again a bit of civil disobedience probably doesn't go down so
well in the corporate (mono)culture...
What happens when the main road (with parallel bike path) intersects a
minor side road? That sort of crossing is the main site of danger where
even if priority is theoretically given to the path, cars leaving the
main road will still often cut across without paying attention.
> I wonder why William writes about taking the two long ends of a
> triangle; if my experience in Birmingham is anything to go by, the
> short end is a busy road rather than say a field.
In my experience, the only useful examples of cycling infrastructure are
things like shortcuts through areas closed to motor vehicles, or
contraflows in one-way-systems, which are usually designed on the basis
that a mile detour and a hill are a negligible price to pay for less
complex junctions (on a bicycle, the reverse is obviously true).
In practice, these shortcuts don't always need to be made, merely
tolerated :-) But that depends on the situation on the ground.
> I overtake the vast majority of cyclists when I got to work on my
> bike. The only people overtaking me on a bike do so on racing bikes in
> tight biker's clothing. Maybe they are also in better shape than I am.
You won't go at 30kmh without expending substantial amounts of effort,
whatever the bicycle. That is, it will be an athletic workout, not just
a commute. Of course this brings great health benefits, but still may
not suit everyone. In fact a 35km commute is further than I would be
prepared to cycle on a daily basis, and I'm an evangelist with two
decades of regular cycle commuting under my belt and a sporting background.
>> say up to 5 miles, which
>> covers 75% of car trips in the UK
> 10 trips of 1 mile may be ten times as many trips as one trip of 100
> miles, but ...
It is also 10 times as many cars in the town centre. Of course the real
distribution of trips is much narrower than that, with a lot of travel
in the 2-10 mile range (where people are not cycling but easily could).
>> "I would
>> love to ride a bicycle, if only problem (insert arbitrary reason) was
>> solved" actually mean "I don't want to ride a bicycle and am
>> regurgitating the most socially acceptable/convenient excuse".
> There's a big difference between the amount of cycling I do here in
> the Netherlands and what I did in the UK. I bet that a great many more
> Brits would cycle, if they had Dutch cycle infrastructure at their
That's a widely held delusion (IMO), fostered by the politically
acceptable excuse that "I would love to ride a bicycle, if only they
would build more paths". Actually, paths are notably more dangerous and
less convenient, with the exception of occasional short-cuts (better
standards might help, but better standards mean fewer paths, which is
why the standards are so low and rarely even met).
Where cycling is popular, this generally long predates any significant
infrastructure installation - that is, the infrastructure follows the
cycling rather than causing it. Feynmann and cargo cults come to mind here..
Meanwhile, it is considered quite natural and acceptable for moderate
commentators in the mainstream media to write things like
"What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated?"
"A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing
piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists"
and indeed cyclists do face this hazard not infrequently, although of
course the location of choice is separate bicycle paths rather than roads.
While such hate speech (and Parris is hardly a rabid mate-monger of
habit, indeed he left the Tories due to their homophobic tendencies) is
considered normal conversation in polite company, there's a large
constituency who will not consider cycling, and a significant minority
who will consider it acceptable to harass and assault cyclists.
Like I said, the issue is social attitudes, not infrastructure.