Friday, 19 July 2013

Cycling and Chess?

A weird combination?

Two of my favorite things, cycling and chess are combined in this article about cyclist Tim Krabbé, author of 'The Rider'.

Supposedly, 'The Rider' is one of the classics of cycling literature. I wouldn't know, as racing cycling leaves me cold. Maybe I should read it anyway - maybe it would explain the allure of racing.

Or maybe I should hope that there's some touring cyclist out there who's also a chess geek. Touring is more my style.

Another recent cycling + chess story comes from Russian Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk's website. Apparently, Anatoly Karpov invited players to a game during the 2012 Tour de France. Cool!

Then there's the 'Chess Bike' that was spotted in Bonn in 2008:


Friday, 12 July 2013

This Stuff Makes Me Wonder Why I Bother...

Sometimes I read reports like this and I wonder why I keep going with this cycling advocacy lark. It seems there are so many more depressing stories than there are stories of cycling victories. I wonder whether it might not be a better idea to just ride - that way I might be able to maintain a healthy mindset about cycling, rather than worrying that what I'm doing might result in either me or my daughter being killed by one of these drunk or distracted drivers. Not only that, but it seems that even when cyclists get their day in court, they are met with ubiquitous prejudice on the part of witnesses, jurors, police and judges.

What chance do cyclists have when we can't even gain a conviction for a motorist who killed a cyclist while proven to be drunk behind the wheel?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

League of American Bicyclists Education Videos

Today, the Los Alamos Bike blog featured a link to a set of videos from the League of American Bicyclists. I've watched the videos and although the majority of the videos are good stuff, overall it's a bit of a mixed bag. I think the following videos show practices that all cyclists should find useful:

However, in my opinion, three of the videos encourage questionable cycling practices.

The video titled 'Bike Lanes' shows cyclists riding in the door zone and gives the impression that riding in a door zone bike lane is okay, but it isn't. Many bike lanes are of substandard width and the entire lane is often in the door zone. I think such bike lanes should be ignored and cyclists should ride well into the general traffic lane, operating as if the bike lane does not exist. The video skirts this issue instead of giving clear advice to avoid using such lanes.

Note that every bike lane in the video was either a door zone lane, or filled with debris, or the video showed the approach to an intersection where LAB should have advised cyclists to merge left into the general traffic lane to avoid right hooks. Instead, the video advises cyclists to "keep an eye out for drivers approaching from your left" (by which they mean the left rear) - not exactly helpful, as I'm sure many cyclists do this and still get hit. Since motorists often approach from the left rear and then turn without signaling, looking out for them won't exactly help. The right answer is to either ignore the bike lane completely and treat it as a shoulder, or (if we must use it), simply merge into the general traffic lane whenever there's any potential hazard.

In my view, at no point in the video should any of the cyclists have been in those bike lanes. The final scene in the video shows a cyclist merging out of a door zone bike lane for about 3ft, then unsteadily merging back into it -  LAB needs to find some competent cyclists, and they need to be sending a clear message AGAINST the very kinds of lanes they feature in this video.

Regarding the video 'Riding on the Sidewalk' - I think the League is far too easygoing. If sidewalk cycling is dangerous - and I agree with LAB that it is - then the League should be absolutely against it. Bicycles are not built to operate at pedestrian speeds and doing so makes them far less stable, which means they need wide, empty and unobstructed pathways, which is precisely what sidewalks don't offer. In my opinion, simply sticking to riding the bike on the road is the safest way. My philosophy is this: if my bicycle is being operated on the sidewalk, I'm walking next to it.

Then there's the 'Sharing the Trail' video - yuck! In my opinion, a cycling organization should not be mixing itself up in the issue of multi-use trails. I think such trails cannot possibly be used safely by cyclists (for some of the same reasons I mentioned above in reference to sidewalks), and while I do use them when I can't easily avoid it, I wish they would either go away, or be made for pedestrians only, or made wider and for cyclists only. I think it's folly to try to make narrow trails work for both pedestrians and vehicles.

Sorry I can't find the links to make the videos show up here - I will do so when I can figure out how.