Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: When "common sense" isn't

426 Responses

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  • BenWilson,

    The problem there is that making flouro a condition of getting on a bike at any time provides a significant disincentive to cycling -- more so than compulsory helmets.

    And given that the introduction of helmets corresponded to a massive decline in cycle usage here and in many other places, and that low numbers cycling is a major risk factor, it's really silly to make mandatory yet another thing that will stop people getting on bikes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Gracewood,

    I was wearing my bright fluro yellow riding shirt this morning. For some reason the power of hi-vis didn't stop this bus from running a red light in front of myself and a bunch of kids:

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ben Gracewood,

    I was wearing my bright fluro yellow riding shirt this morning. For some reason the power of hi-vis didn’t stop this bus from running a red light in front of myself and a bunch of kids:

    Far out.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Gracewood, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Far out

    Yup. It's only my second commute with the camera. I'm making it a permanent fixture from now on.

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    As a cyclist (well, a newly reborn one after about twenty years of not getting on a bike), I’m really curious about the psychology of people not wanting to wear helmets whilst riding. I know a fair number of cyclists who wear helmets but complain about it whilst I, on the other hand, won’t get on a bike without one because I’m petrified about damaging my brainmeats.

    I’m also not agin the idea of wearing hi-viz material whilst riding; I don’t at the moment because I’ve not yet procured any (which is why I’m wary of riding at night, even with lights on my bike) but I can see that the high-viz recommendation seems to have an element of blaming the rider, rather than the appalling driving standards of most New Zealanders.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Given that the coroner in this case took it on himself to produce this wider report, attention to actual evidence and transport safety expertise does not seem too much to expect. The resulting media coverage just compounded the ignorance.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ben Gracewood,

    And who knows when a meteor might appear.. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to HORansome,

    the high-viz recommendation seems to have an element of blaming the rider, rather than the appalling driving standards of most New Zealanders.

    And media decisions about what angle to highlight are grounded in that current lazy discourse.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack, in reply to Ben Gracewood,

    Dash cams: the new Twitter in getting us instant news.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Interesting link Lucy gives that suggests the more professional the vehicle driver, the less safety margin they leave, based on actual studies done. I had subjectively felt that this was the case, but couldn't be sure since a big noisy thing next to you does feel closer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to HORansome,

    As a cyclist (well, a newly reborn one after about twenty years of not getting on a bike), I’m really curious about the psychology of people not wanting to wear helmets whilst riding. I know a fair number of cyclists who wear helmets but complain about it whilst I, on the other hand, won’t get on a bike without one because I’m petrified about damaging my brainmeats.

    I'm happy with a helmet, although I do feel a certain freedom on the odd occasion when I go without. But wearing a sodding hi-viz vest everywhere? No. That would be highly impractical. I think there are better things I can do to be visible than that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ben Gracewood,

    Nice idea. Why don't you mount it on the handlebars, though?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    As a non-cyclist (well since being a teenager) I don't see what the fuss with wearing a helmet is?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Wood,

    Thanks Russell for again remaining calm in a way I just can’t.

    First off, I’m having big trouble on a Monday morning parsing this case: Guy asks to be let off after pretty much trying to kill someone wearing hi-viz on a bike .

    Seems wearing hi-viz simply makes you responsible for getting the fuck out of the way once someone has seen you.

    This comes on top of the coroner’s report, thanks to which I’ve had a fight with my darling about whether I will be allowed to ride the 2.9km to work from Westmere to Freemans Bay without dressing like a Christmas tree.

    It’s times like these I really, really get close to defaulting to driving. We’re fighting hard at Cycle Action , and we’re getting some wins, but still there’s something odd about the undercurrent in our country.

    In a sick way it reminds me of living in Singapore, where the only people on bikes on the roads were pretty much 75-year-old coolies or 20-year-old Bangladeshi construction workers who lived – I shit you not – in shipping containers in the bushes. Both were seen as entirely dispensable, and the main reason not to hit them was the inconvenience of repairing paintwork in the tropics.

    And with a big, fat, le sigh, I’m off to pick up my sweetheart not-yet-five-year-old from kindy, on my bike. Hope I make it.

    Now back in Aucktown • Since Dec 2006 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Gracewood, in reply to BenWilson,

    Having the bike and controls in view is useful when reviewing footage (seeing braking points etc). Makes for a more interesting video :)

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick, in reply to BlairMacca,

    Trust me Blair you'll appreciate wearing one if you hit the road. I had an off last December. At the time I didn't think my head hit the road that hard. However, when I checked the helmet 6 weeks later I got a hell of a a surprise to find a whacking great crack right through it.

    I shudder to think what might have happened if I hadn't been wearing my lid.

    http://telly.com/565J2

    Oh and I was wearing hi-vis when the above happened

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    The report’s an odd mix of solid effort and “surely, this must be the case”. The coroner specifically went out to the site of the crash and inspected the changes made to the intersection. He wasn’t impressed, and has good reasons for that – he specifically states that the solution “degenerates in terms of its quality and connectedness and is therefore unattractive for cyclists to use”. So here he went out and physically inspected the site, including investigating wear patterns on road markings (to indicate how much traffic is cutting across the side of the road). That’s not an inconsiderable effort, and this is reflected in the recommendations he makes here: sensible, measured, and basic in a realistic appraisal of human behaviour (painting road marking doesn’t magically prevent drives from drifting across them, a safer solution that drastically slows/inconveniences people will be ignored by many road users). Respect to the coroner for those sections.

    Which is why the high-viz thing is a bit out of left field. He cites no evidence. The only people he talks to about it are basically noncomittal on its effectiveness or lack thereof. The only justification for his recommendation is that it’s a “no brainer”, that it “simply must be common sense”. This does not ring like the words of someone who has considered the evidence, consulted experts, and reached a studied conclusion: it is a prejudged principle that the coroner came into this investigation which, and which he is levering into the discourse.

    Personally: I wear high-viz when I think it’s appropriate. This morning, I cycled to work wearing a gilet (the Ground Effect Vespa, buy NZ made!) in fluoro yellow. In winter, I wear a high-viz vest over my jersey – but that’s mainly for the retro-reflective stripes rather than for the fluoro yellow. But I’d be firmly against being compelled to wear it. Yes, I think that under some circumstances it’s a good idea; but I think that it’ll strongly put off a lot of people who would otherwise start looking at cycling. The evidence is that the best safety improvement for cyclists is to have a lot more cyclists around, so that drivers start actively looking out for you; requiring everyone to lug around a waistcoat at all times is going to seriously disconcert the person casually considering dropping $400 on a bike to ride to the shops with.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen, in reply to BlairMacca,

    It's hot in the summer, and musses up people's hair plus its yet another item to lug along on your commute. If you want to go for it at speed, sure, put on a helmet in case you crash. Otherwise, helmets should be optional to encourage people to go on bikes and reap the health benefits.

    The problem here isn't cyclists and if you think a helmet will protect you against aggressive and careless drivers... that's just wishful thinking.

    Since Nov 2006 • 525 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to HORansome,

    I’m really curious about the psychology of people not wanting to wear helmets whilst riding.

    Here's 7 reasons

    1. It doesn't feel nice. The strap rubs, your head gets hot.
    2. It mucks up your hair
    3. It's another thing you have to carry around
    4. It's another thing you have to lock up
    5. It looks dorky
    6. It costs money
    7. It slows you down getting on and off

    I still wear one for most rides, though. There are a couple of advantages, beyond just pure safety:
    1. It's got a visor to keep the sun out of my eyes.
    2. It's something to attach a headlamp to.

    No. That would be highly impractical. I think there are better things I can do to be visible than that.

    Yup. At night, flashing lights. During the day, it's mostly about how you behave. Ride big like you are actually a vehicle. Since that is the law on the matter, I have no qualms. It's funny, since I made this mental switch, I've not been shouted at by anyone. Maybe they sense something.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca, in reply to Felix Marwick,

    Oh you have misunderstood, I mean I can't see why people complain about Having to wear a helmet, completely agree that they are lifesavers, it seems stupid NOT to wear one

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca, in reply to BlairMacca,

    1. It doesn’t feel nice. The strap rubs, your head gets hot.
    2. It mucks up your hair
    3. It’s another thing you have to carry around
    4. It’s another thing you have to lock up
    5. It looks dorky
    6. It costs money
    7. It slows you down getting on and off

    But all of these pale in comparision to your head cracking on the ground right?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    which is how both Stephen Fitzgerald and Jane Bishop died

    Also likely what killed a lecturer in the school of dentistry down here last year - cycling on the one way north in the minuscule cycle lane, a parked car in front opened their door, he swerved to avoid and went under a truck. The truck driver didn't even know he'd hit someone until the police caught up with him at Waitati.

    It's led to NZTA doing an audit on Dunedin cycleways (see here), but it's very much "what can we do quickly without spending any money, and then what can we do long term which will cost lots which we may get to eventually.

    They're relaying the surface in the one ways in Dunedin and when they're repainting them they've widened the cycleway by about a foot and compressed the two lanes and car parks together a bit more, but it's not a problem of where the lines are, it's a problem of pretending that a cycle lane is safe by squeezing it in between parked cars and traffic, on an already narrow road. It's a pretty exciting ride in parts!

    I submitted to NZTA that they needed to remove the parked cars on one side of one of the one ways from Gardens Shops to Queens Gardens to build a two way cycle way. Probably 250+ car parks. Can't see us caring enough about cyclists above the convenience of drivers having to walk for it to happen!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    While it seems intuitively obvious that high-visibility clothing should make its wearer easier for vehicle operators, hunters, etc., to see and avoid, there are surprisingly few studies to quantify the effectiveness of high-visibility clothing for particular classes of users.

    Wikipedia > High-visibility Clothing

    This is part of the problem. It seems intuitively that high-vis should help, so there isn't actually much in the way of quantifiable study. One thing that page mentions is that movement draws the eye more than a static garment - so in terms of visibility, we might be better to concentrate on encouraging people to wear retro-reflective ankle bands or wrist bands.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to BlairMacca,

    That's my thought exactly; those don't seem like good reasons at all to not wear a helmet. Helmets give you a level of protection your skull does not natively have (seriously, head injuries are alarmingly easy to procure) and it's not just some added protection from being swiped by a car; people get injured on bikes all the time without the additional worry of car drivers.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ben Gracewood,

    Having the bike and controls in view is useful when reviewing footage (seeing braking points etc). Makes for a more interesting video :)

    True enough, although the bike frame does take up quite a lot of the most interesting part of the shot, and being lower down reduces what can be seen.

    I have a piece of software on my phone that does this, keeps rolling footage. It also records all the GPS stuff too, so you get not only brake points, but all those other cool stats drivers want (speeds at all points, elevation, etc). It was designed for cars, but works fine on the bike. However, I don't have a decent mount for the phone, and TBH, when I did have a mount, the phone was dangerously distracting.

    I do wonder if the very best place for a camera would be the helmet, though. I've seen a few people riding around with that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

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