Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Invisible Bike Helmets

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My spouse casually mentioned the inventors of the invisible bike helmet, thinking that since this was something right up my alley, of course I was the one who originally pointed it out.  Had I done so, there’s no way I would have forgotten it so thoroughly.  An idea so elegant, but so hard to execute properly, that of course my brain would crunch through the implications.

So yes, they’re now available for purchase, from one of the more beautiful websites I’ve seen.  Sadly, the site is broken, in the sense that navigating in any but the most canonical way will generate error messages, but it truly is beautiful.

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Written by eswald

12 Nov 2013 at 10:25 pm

Posted in Cycling

Life Cycle

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I’m in the market for a new bike.  My whole life, I’ve been using mostly mountain or racing bikes, because those are the styles that have been popular and therefore available.  However, my back and neck are starting to complain about them.  Where cycling is a more popular mode of transportation, it appears that utility bikes are more common, with an upright posture, long mud guards, and some storage space.  They look a little silly to modern eyes, but that’s because we’re being stupid as a culture.

On the other hand, I might go for some sort of tricycle, with the advantages of extra comfort and stability, with the latter being particularly important on wet or icy roads.  Then again, parking might be a concern, particularly while shopping or at work.  If I really splurge, I could go for a velomobile, with better aerodynamics, some environmental protection, and perhaps increased safety, but at a significant higher price.  How would I lock it up, anyway?

Meanwhile, there seems to be a significant market for second-hand bicycles.  I hadn’t really considered it before coming across plans for an easily repairable shift lever; now that one of mine no longer ratchets when the temperature gets down around freezing, I completely understand the motivation.  Transportation is essential to many jobs, and a good, cheap, easily repairable bicycle makes a world of difference to a significant portion of the population.

So will I donate my current bike?  Maybe.  On the other hand, it might stick around for my children to use when they outgrow their little 16-inch two-wheelers.  As active as they are, they’ll need their own transportation to all sorts of odd stuff as they grow.

Written by eswald

29 Oct 2013 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Cycling, Lifestyle

Little Things that Matter

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I’ve been noticing some parallels between a few movements that I support.  Each is a small change with some significant ramifications, creating significant benefit to the vast majority of people.  However, those ramifications are not obvious, the benefits fly in the face of tradition, and the costs are borne primarily by those with the greatest power to enact the change.

I once lived in a state where individual citizens, with enough support, could propose legislative ballots for the statewide elections.  For the federal government, the closest we come is the ability for a super-majority of states to support a constitutional amendment.

Then again, these are exactly the kinds of movements that can be proven at the local level, growing bigger with each generation.  If I ever, through some miracle, become rich and/or outgoing enough to gain the ear of my local officials, will I still be focused on these same issues?

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Written by eswald

22 Oct 2013 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Cycling, Politics

Fat Chat

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I’m not particularly obsessed with my health or appearance.  There are plenty of things I could be doing better; then again, there are plenty of ways I could be worse.  As you might guess about a programmer, I’m largely sedentary; I choose to commute by bicycle in large part to ensure that I stay active.  I eat fresh fruits and vegetables because I enjoy them, pace out sugars and fats to avoid immediate bodily consequences, and pack protein for lunch to ensure that I can get home without shaking.

For my spouse, such issues aren’t exactly an obsession, but a frequent source of irritation.  This week’s rant was triggered by Boy Scouts of America, who are refusing Jamboree admittance to individuals based on their Body Mass Index.  BMI isn’t particularly accurate at measuring obesity, nor is obesity particularly great at determining fitness.  Even if it correlates strongly with heart disease and similar health problems, that doesn’t mean that any particular person will be unable to hike three miles uphill in an afternoon after walking around all morning.

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Written by eswald

16 Jul 2013 at 10:50 pm

Posted in Cycling, Food, Lifestyle, Spouse

Cycling Through Dusk

with 2 comments

This month has been a little more dangerous than usual for my daily commute.  Winter finally came, so the roads have had patches of ice and occasionally snow; fortunately, they haven’t lasted more than a few days at a time.  A utility company has been cutting tree branches along a narrow road, but their flaggers have been polite.  My current worry, though, is that I’ve sometimes forgotten to turn on my lights for the ride home.

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Written by eswald

28 Feb 2012 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Cycling, Lifestyle

Obviously Correct

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I’ve been running across something of a theme lately. There’s something of an engineering principle that cuts across disciplines, into many aspects of life. As with much of engineering, it involves a trade-off, and can be tricky to pull off.

Dutch road designs call for design to be obvious so that correct, safe behaviour becomes the way that people will naturally drive.
David Hembrow

In a well-designed system, simple things should be simple, and the “obvious easy” way to do simple common tasks should be the correct way.
David A. Wheeler

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Written by eswald

7 Jun 2011 at 10:24 pm

Posted in Cycling, Technology

Yielding the Wrong of Way

with 4 comments

After several years of cycling as a primary mode of transportation, you’d think I would be used to the behavior of people who share the road with me.  For the most part, it has helped to act like motor vehicles don’t see me unless I’m solidly in their lane.  Perhaps that’s why it’s so surprising when someone waves me through despite my legal obligation to stop and wait.

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Written by eswald

14 Mar 2011 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Cycling