The Latest From BostonBiker.org

News, Events, Updates


Riding A Bicycle As A Revolutionary Act

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 06

Something I have been thinking about lately, frankly something I think about all the time, is the future of the earths climate.

I am not currently “old”, whatever that means. Luck willing I could look forward to 40- 50 more years of life on this planet.

Which means my silver years could be spent in the 2060’s.  Right when I start to really slow down, climate change is expected to really speed up.  By 2050 sea levels in the Boston area will be 2 feet higher (which means a good storm floods most of the city).

If we continue to emit at the level we do, the earths average temp could be 7 degrees higher by 2050…which would make going outside for most of the year unbearable, and staying inside unbearable without AC.

There will be more storms, more droughts, more food disruption, more climate migrants, forest fires, ocean acidification, asthma alerts, wars for water, more floods, tropical illness moving north…the list of horrible outcomes grows daily as we discover just how disruptive our actions have been on the world.

I keep thinking about myself when I reach my grandparents age.  I see how they move, how they breath, how they get around, the challenges they face, and I imagine myself trying to navigate those challenges in a world ravaged by global warming.

I also think about kids I see running around who might live 70 or 80 more years.  How their silver years will be even more grim than mine, how they might deal with an ecosystem that may not be fit for human life.

There is not a nice way to say this, but if you are driving a car around, especially when you don’t absolutely need to, you are part of this problem.  When I turn on my heat at home and the oil in the tank in the basement lights up I am part of the problem.  When we buy airplane tickets to fly half way around the world, when we vote for candidates who deny the reality of climate change, when we buy things we don’t need, when we use single use spoons, when we leave the lights on…the list is very long.  It would seem our entire lifestyle is a part of the problem.

It can be overwhelming to look at the list of things Americans are doing to ruin our future.  It can be hard to know what to do, where to start, and how to do anything about it.

There is a simple thing you can do that will make the future better, and have positive effects for you right now.  Ride your bicycle.  Ride it for fun, ride it to work, ride it to the store.  Leave your car at home and take your bike to the show, to the movies, to the park.

Not only will you be avoiding carbon emissions, which is critical to slowing and eventually reversing global climate change, but you will be changing the culture.  We live in a toxic culture, that is polluting our future and stealing our silver years from us.  Riding a bike helps to repair that toxic culture.  It also shows others that its possible to break free of the toxic cycles that keep us damaging our future.

Years ago when I started riding a bike in this town there were hardly any cyclists.  But slowly over time more and more folks started riding, defying the poor infrastructure, and aggressive road culture.  Soon hundreds, and now thousands of people ride their bikes every day in this city.  The government is building more infrastructure for cyclists, people are healthier, and things are changing.

 

cmbudapest

Once you make the change to cycling, your friends and family see that its possible, and they start.  Their friends see them doing it and so they give it a try.  The positive change spreads through example, and through solidarity.  The toxic culture retreats and a new one is born.

Think about your future, think about your silver years.  Then go out and go for a bike ride.  Its a revolutionary act, and its one you can do right now.


submit Riding A Bicycle As A Revolutionary Act to reddit.com Add to Reddit.

Tags: , ,
Posted in bostonbiker, video | 1 Comment »

Bike Helmet Designed By People Who Don’t Ride Bikes

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 06

This thing is only a concept, which if I am understanding design correctly means it really has very little to do with the final product (or reality), but still it won an award…presumably the people giving out that award rarely ride bikes.

There is a lot wrong here.

Lets start with the small things and work are way up.

The helmet has no ventilation, going to be hot on most rides…especially with the visor down. Some people don’t mind that style though so lets move on.

How heavy are all the cameras and computers and display and sensors? I am going to guess heavier than foam and a thin plastic shell. Do you really want an extra pound or two on your neck for long rides? Will it fly off my head due to the extra weight during a violent fall?

How will it perform in the rain? In the snow? My cell phone doesn’t like getting cold or wet and its “water proof” Will that screen actually display anything in the sun? What if its night time and someone shines headlights in my eyes?

What happens to all that fancy stuff when you actually smash your head into something? Do the electronics and display become tiny projectiles? Is the absorbent quality of the helmet affected by having all that crap attached to it? Will I be bathed in optics and display parts all over my eyes?

Judging from the video it presents data in such a way to be far more distracting than traffic itself. Giant blue dots to let me know I am moving in the right direction? Sounds? Text in the middle of my view? How exactly do you select those different options, are we going to toss eye tracking into this thing as well? Or do I have to reach up and tap my helmet to select options while riding? Voice activation?

Why a rear facing camera? It’s actually a good thing to turn your head around and look behind you once in a while, its lets you see what you are dealing with and is a visual cue to other road users that you might be about to turn. PS. a tiny mirror does the same thing and is a lot cheaper.

What are those impact detectors on the side supposed to do? Anyone who has ever been passed by a car too close knows when something is near them, I don’t need expensive sensors to tell me that. Also the way Boston streets are designed I imagine they would be screaming constantly as most of the time you are riding in very cramped conditions. Thirdly, what exactly am I to do when the cars get too close? I can’t always move away from them. Its not like I am backing my minivan into the garage and need to know when I am too close to the wall, the cars are much bigger and heavier than me, when they get too close I am mostly at their mercy if they choose to move away from me or not.

How big are the batteries in this thing? How heavy are they going to be? With all this fancy stuff strapped to my head I imagine I couldn’t ride for more than an hour or two without having to swap them out or recharge them.

What is the carbon footprint on something like this? Am I going to have to worry about e-waste from my helmet now? Will it be full of brominated fire retardants, lithium ion batteries (which can catch fire if punctured), rare earth minerals? Will it be made with sweat shop labor in china? I am riding my bike to try to decrease the amount of emission and suffering in the world, not increase it.

How much is this going to cost? Helmets don’t last forever, even if you don’t crash you should still replace them every few years just because the foam degrades. Are the electronics removable? Is the helmet in pieces so you can only replace what you need? A cell phone or VR helmet with this much tech goes for $500-$600, am I supposed to drop half a grand every time I drop my helmet on the ground, or get hit by a car, or every three years?

This design is a failure.


submit Bike Helmet Designed By People Who Don’t Ride Bikes to reddit.com Add to Reddit.

Tags: , ,
Posted in bostonbiker, Merch, video | No Comments »

Jeff Jacoby Is A Dirty Sleaze Bag Who Tries To Get Attention When Cyclists Die

Written by Boston Biker on Jun 29

It seems Jeff Jacoby, resident murderous goon at the Globe, likes to make stupid public statements after cyclists are killed to try and squeeze just a little more attention for himself and his horrific view points.  I wrote way back in 2015 how stupid he was for doing this, and at the time he got a huge amount of push-back.

Seems he has learned only bad lessons from this behaviour, as he is once again trying to capitalize on the recent death of Amanda Philips.  

It would appear from the twitter responses though that the internet is no longer taking any of his shit.

here is his masterful insight on display…

The universal reaction to him was pretty much “what the fuck are you talking about Jeff?”

Below is a sample, see here for the whole thing (there are dozens of them).


submit Jeff Jacoby Is A Dirty Sleaze Bag Who Tries To Get Attention When Cyclists Die to reddit.com Add to Reddit.

Tags: , ,
Posted in bostonbiker | No Comments »

America’s Absurd Fascination With Cars

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 14

I was having a discussion with someone this morning and we realized that at every stage in the development of automobile infrastructure in America, other, consistently better, choices for infrastructure were available, but we continued to choose the car every time.

trafficatl

We could have built high speed rail, but we built highways.  We could have built rapid transit bus lines, but we built a snarl of traffic filled streets.  We could have built a bike and pedestrian path networks, instead we cut up neighborhoods with massive highway projects.  At every stage we took a look at all the options, and choose the worst one.

Which has lead to our current situation, where transportation spending is dominated by the needs of the automobile, and not the humans using that automobile.

Seems I am not the only one who has come to this conclusion, there is an excellent article in The Atlantic that really goes step by step in showing just how destructive American’s fascination with cars has become.

It starts off laying down some real talk:

Simply this: In almost every way imaginable, the car, as it is deployed and used today, is insane.

Then the author Edward Humes goes on to lay our in depressing and methodical detail just how horrible the car has been for America.

On efficiency:

What are the failings of cars? First and foremost, they are profligate wasters of money and fuel: More than 80 cents of every dollar spent on gasoline is squandered by the inherent inefficiencies of the modern internal combustion engine. No part of daily life wastes more energy and, by extension, more money than the modern automobile.

Would you burn 8 our of every 10 dollars you made for the freedom to get in a box and get stuck in traffic?  Because you are literally burning 80% of the money you put into that car.

boston-drag-racing-crash

 

On health:

While burning through all that fuel, cars and trucks spew toxins and particulate waste into the atmosphere that induce cancer, lung disease, and asthma. These emissions measurably decrease longevity—not by a matter of days, but years. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculates that 53,000 Americans die prematurely every year from vehicle pollution, losing 10 years of life on average compared to their lifespans in the absence of tailpipe emissions.

TEN YEARS!  Are we really so addicted to the “freedom” the car provides us that we would sacrifice ten years of our lives for them?!  Let alone the 50,000+ people who straight up die early every year.

06/12/15-Boston,MA. A car is seen flipped on its roof shortly after sunrise Friday on Causeway St. in the North End. The car hit a parked car and flipped. Unconfirmed media reports state 2 are dead.. Staff photo by Mark Garfinkel

On economy and global security:

There are also the indirect environmental, health, and economic costs of extracting, transporting, and refining oil for vehicle fuels, and the immense national-security costs and risks of being dependent on oil imports for significant amounts of that fuel. As an investment, the car is a massive waste of opportunity—“the world’s most underutilized asset,” the investment firm Morgan Stanley calls it. That’s because the average car sits idle 92 percent of the time. Accounting for all costs, from fuel to insurance to depreciation, the average car owner in the U.S. pays $12,544 a year for a car that puts in a mere 14-hour workweek. Drive an SUV? Tack on another $1,908.14

Sheesh…another way to look at it, is that if you ride a bicycle instead of driving you will be saving at least that much money.  Also if your bike sits around unused for 92 % of the time you will not be wasting nearly as much money, as your bike probably cost you a couple hundred dollars and doesn’t constantly need new oil filters and gasoline.  Not to mention you don’t need bicycle insurance.

beaconsmash2

 

On the Environment:

Then there is the matter of climate. Transportation is a principal cause of the global climate crisis, exacerbated by a stubborn attachment to archaic, wasteful, and inefficient transportation modes and machines. But are cars the true culprit? Airplanes, for instance, are often singled out as the most carbon-intensive form of travel in terms of emissions per passenger-mile (or per ton of cargo), but that’s not the whole story: Total passenger miles by air are miniscule compared to cars. In any given year, 60 percent of American adults never set foot on an airplane, and the vast majority who do fly take only one round trip a year. Unfortunately, air travel is not the primary problem, contributing only 8 percent of U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gases. Cars and trucks, by contrast, pump out a combined 83 percent of transportation carbon.

There is simply no doubt, our addiction to driving our cars is going to destroy the environment we need to live.  There is little point in having the “freedom to travel” if the territory you are traveling over resembles a nightmare hell-scape.  Mad Max is not an instruction manual, its a cautionary tale.

 

beaconsmash2

The unacceptable cost in lives:

Annual U.S. highway fatalities outnumber the yearly war dead during each Vietnam, Iraq, the War of 1812, and the American Revolution.

And that’s not even counting cars’ most dramatic cost: They waste lives. They are one of America’s leading causes of avoidable injury and death, especially among the young.

Jim McNamara, a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol, where officers spend 80 percent of their time responding to car wrecks, believes such public inattention and apathy arise whenever a problem is “massive but diffuse.” Whether it’s climate change or car crashes, he says, if the problem doesn’t show itself all at once—as when an airliner goes down with dozens or hundreds of people on board—it’s hard to get anyone’s attention. Very few people see what he and his colleagues witness daily and up close: what hurtling tons of metal slamming into concrete and brick and trees and one another does to the human body strapped (or, all too often, not strapped) within.

Every time you see war casualties, or terrorist attacks on the news, realize that what the news is not talking about is the thousands of deaths that month from car crashes.

If we were in a war with cars, it would be the longest and deadliest war we have ever been in. Roughly 40-50 THOUSAND people a year. Or to put it another way this is more deaths than a 9-11 scale terror attacks every month year in and year out for the last 50 years. One wonders why this isn’t the number one news story every day.

Boghosian_crash5_MET-8368

 

The article itself makes the same conclusion I have:

This disparity in attention between plane crashes and car crashes cannot be justified by their relative death tolls. Quite the contrary: In the 14 years following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, there were eight crashes on American soil of passenger planes operated by regional, national, or international carriers. The death toll in those crashes totaled 442. That averages out to fewer than three fatalities a month.

The death toll on America’s streets and highways during that same period since 9/11 was more than 400,000 men, women, and children. The traffic death toll in 2015 exceeded 3,000 a month. When it comes to the number of people who die in car wrecks, America experiences the equivalent of four airliner crashes every week.

A normal day on the road, then, is a “quiet catastrophe,” as Ken Kolosh, the statistics chief for the National Safety Council, calls it.

 

eisen_crash9_061215

Car crashes take our young people from us:

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 39. They rank in the top five killers for Americans 65 and under (behind cancer, heart disease, accidental poisoning, and suicide).

And when cars don’t outright kill us they cost us a lot of money and suffering, even if you don’t drive:

And the direct economic costs alone—the medical bills and emergency-response costs reflected in taxes and insurance payments—represent a tax of $784 on every man, woman, and child living in the U.S.

And yet we have people who will fight long and hard to keep on-street parking, and keep speed limits high, and lobby for more highways, and complain that bike lanes will make it harder to drive.

WHY?!

What has lead Americans to fight so hard for something that is so bad for them?

 

160309-cody-ferari-accident-scene-jpo-625a_9d9ee4518911da2477caa4f072d0a2f5.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Is it the non-stop barrage of car commercials showing rich white people cruising empty streets while encased in luxury leather and listening to the latest hit song?

Could it be the massive amounts of money spent by auto industry lobbyists to promote cars over public transit?  Could it be the large oil companies spending millions to lower emission standards?

Could it be the joy that is the daily commute? Or the joy of traffic filled highways? The asthma, the obesity, the oil wars, the oil spills, the global warming, the road rage, the plowing under of nature for highways and roads, the constant bills, repairs, tickets, tolls, and insurance?

I simply don’t understand why the vast majority of city dwelling Americans own and operate their own car, especially when you consider there are a host of better, cheaper, healthier options available to them.


submit America’s Absurd Fascination With Cars to reddit.com Add to Reddit.

Tags: , ,
Posted in advocacy, bostonbiker | 1 Comment »

Hey Look The Metro Misquoted Me!

Written by Boston Biker on Jan 28

Don’t you love it when someone manages to read all the way down a several hundred word article you have written and then for some reason chooses to miss the entire point of the article, while at the same time cherry picking quotes from your post so it seems to convey the opposite message of that article? Me too!

Not only was I lucky enough to merit the main pull quote in this rather poorly written piece of drivel parading as news, but I was used in the sensational title as well! The Metro creatively titled it’s anti-cycling flavored article “Boston winter biking ‘a hellish nightmare.”

Nate Homan the guy who wrote it also talked to some other folks I know and they say he misrepresented them as well. Well it’s good to know that he has consistency.

Nate Homan "Reporter"

Nate Homan “Reporter”

Here is the quote he used from me (by the way he never bothered to contact me):

“In the winter the sidewalks and bike paths become a hellish nightmare of ice and snow. It’s really not worth it to even think about riding on them.”

Sounds like I am really down on winter riding…too bad the article this is from is called “Winter Riding In Boston: Riding In The Snow” which is part of my “how to ride in the winter” series, which is linked on the right. (or here here and here)  The series is all about riding your bike safely in the winter and the very first part of the article he cherry picked this quote from is:

You might have noticed, it snowed. Just a smidge here and there, but it is a perfect opportunity to discuss the ins and outs of snow riding.

First off we should discuss the most important part of winter riding. It is freaking fun! Nothing is more fun than sloshing around in some newly fallen snow, and if you are properly dressed, and your bicycle is well maintained (see the links above), snow cycling is not only possible, but very enjoyable.

See how “hellish nightmare” and “freaking fun” don’t really go together at all. The article then goes on and on for several hundred words about how fun riding in the snow is, how its not that hard, how it can be done safely, and how the whole experience is really rather fun. Don’t believe me go read for yourself.

The quote he used to click bait his article is waaaaay down at the bottom in the section about what happens when the sidewalks and bike lanes are not plowed, where I suggest that the best way to avoid these problems is to take the lane:

Ride in the road
In the winter the sidewalks and bike paths become a hellish nightmare of ice and snow. It’s really not even worth it to even think about riding on them (even the Minute Man is poorly plowed). Get out into the road where the large salt filled trucks have cleared you a path. This can sometimes mean riding in that little gap plowed out by the car wheels in front of you, or it might mean riding several feet further into the road because the snow plows have filled up the bike lane. Either way, be visible (lights, reflectors etc), and be confident.

If there is a bunch of snow and ice in front of you and you need to take the lane to avoid it, DO IT. Look over your shoulder, make sure no one is going to run you over, and take the lane. Be confident, get right out to where you need to be and stay there. If you halfheartedly take a lane, cars will try to pass you, and you don’t want them doing that when you are trying to avoid a bunch of slippery ice and snow. If they honk that is just their friendly holiday way of saying “I see you and approve of your full legal right to take that lane, good show!” Once you can SAFELY get back over to the right, do so and allow the other cars to pass.
These simple tips should help make your snow/slush/ice riding a bit more pleasurable. Have fun out there and be safe.

Homan DRAMATICALLY misrepresented both the message and the content of my piece by selective quoting, so I am going to do the same to him, here is a quote from his most recent article about winter riding in the snow:

Nate Homan “reporter” for the metro had this to say about winter riding, “…Other small details, like checking [facts]…don’t…concern…me…I…have…cobbled…this…pothole-riddled, slush-covered…[article]…[together]…from…nothing. Luckily it’s really not worth…[reading] it.”

The above quote I think sums up his article nicely.

I have written an email to Nate asking him why he felt the need to so purposefully misrepresent what I wrote, I will let you know if he writes back.


submit Hey Look The Metro Misquoted Me! to reddit.com Add to Reddit.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in bostonbiker | 1 Comment »

The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Protected Bike Lanes Installed On Mass. Ave. In Central December 9, 2016
      TweetThe good folks in cambridge fighting for improved bike safety are claiming their first (of hopefully many) victories, with the installation of protected bike lanes in Central Square.   from their email: We are excited to report major progress in … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Vision realistic December 8, 2016
      TweetFrom an e-mail about the 2016 Progress Report of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition: Based on our assessment, the City has made progress, but the City will need to dedicate more capital resources and funding for staff in order to … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Vision realistic December 8, 2016
      TweetFrom an e-mail about the 2016 Progress Report of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition: Based on our assessment, the City has made progress, but the City will need to dedicate more capital resources and funding for staff in order to … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Vision realistic December 8, 2016
      TweetFrom an e-mail about the 2016 Progress Report of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition: Based on our assessment, the City has made progress, but the City will need to dedicate more capital resources and funding for staff in order to … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Vision realistic December 8, 2016
      TweetFrom an e-mail about the 2016 Progress Report of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition: Based on our assessment, the City has made progress, but the City will need to dedicate more capital resources and funding for staff in order to … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • December 4, 2016
      On November 29th, CommonWheels finished out a strong season of Open Shops and DIY Community Bike Repairs with a new community event called the Ally Skills Workshop: Combatting Sexism and Transphobia. The workshop was led by Kendra Albert and gave great... Continue reading →
      commonwheels
    • December 4, 2016
      On November 29th, CommonWheels finished out a strong season of Open Shops and DIY Community Bike Repairs with a new community event called the Ally Skills Workshop: Combatting Sexism and Transphobia. The workshop was led by Kendra Albert and gave great... Continue reading →
      commonwheels
    • The Inman Square Peanut Proposal December 2, 2016
      TweetI have posted comments about the proposal for a “peanut roundabout” in Inman Square, and other proposals for the Square, on the Cambridge Civic Forum blog. I think that the City’s “bend Cambridge Street” proposal — with a minor modification … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • An Alternative to the Inman Square Peanut Proposal December 2, 2016
      TweetI have posted comments about the proposal for a “peanut roundabout” in Inman Square, and other proposals for the Square, on the Cambridge Civic Forum blog. I think that the City’s “bend Cambridge Street” proposal — with a minor modification … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • A Sign Of The Times December 2, 2016
      Made this brass knuckle bookmark for a client and they wanted “Civility” stamped on it.  Thought it fit perfectly into the world of 2016.  No reason we can’t be civil while we fight the power! Continue reading →
      Boston Biker