17 June 2012

Please ride your bike in the street.

My used bike buying guide has been way more popular than anything I have ever written.

Since it is geared towards new riders, I feel obligated to share some statistics I just learned - confirming what I have known for many years - about the best ways to stay safe in traffic.


Riding among fast moving two-ton steel machines can be very nerve wracking when you first start out.

The number one fear of most new cyclists in traffic is getting hit from behind by a driver, but it is important to know that this is, statistically, actually the rarest type of accident. 

The most common are at intersections and driveways, when the driver didn't see the cyclist - usually because they weren't expecting the bike to be where it was.  That's why I (and the official League bike safety classes) recommend riding with the normal flow of traffic.

Riding with the normal flow of traffic means riding in the street, to the right (in America at least), and obeying basic traffic laws, such as stopping for red lights and going the correct way on one-way streets.  It means never riding against traffic (facing on-coming cars) and never riding on the sidewalk.

Although it feels much safer to be on the sidewalk, away from the cars, in reality most accidents happen at driveways and intersections, and a driver is less likely to see you if you are anywhere other than the street.

You reduce your statistical chance of being hit by a car by somewhere roughly on the order of 90% compared to the average rider just by riding predictably, following the law, and being extra visible, because, as it turns out, the vast majority of bike accidents are (at least partially) the cyclists' fault.

So what exactly does riding safely entail?

13 June 2012

“A poor person never gave me a job”

The latest meme created by the political Right in order to attempt to justify massive wealth inequality in America, a talking point for the middle class to use, but even more so a subtle reminder to them that they should be grateful towards their social superiors.

It is effective in its simplicity, as good memes and talking points should be. 
It takes so much for granted that it appears to be impossible to counter – it is in fact an accurate statement – so there is no equally simple one-liner that can refute it.  Each and everyone of the underlying concepts that it relies on are false, and so to show the irrelevance of the statement to the issue at hand requires actually delving into and dissecting the assumptions it makes.
That is generally not practical in casual conversation, nor on a heavily time restricted televised debate.

But I have as much space as I want here, so, since I have yet to see a thorough analysis of this –frankly – ridiculous statement, I will do so myself, right now: