Friday, May 22, 2009

Now why didn't this idea take off?

If you can get a car driver to wear this... well that's not happening.

Cool, Light and Comfortable... really, they look cool don't they?

Even if you re-designed it to look moderately cool, if that's even possible, no driver I have ever met would be caught dead in one; especially the ones who drive hopped-up, super cool machines and love to go insanely fast. It's interesting that even the idea of this makes you laugh out loud but the idea of a bike helmet is such a serious one that laws are made to force cyclists to wear them. But it's the drivers and pedestrians who show up in emergency wards with the majority of head injuries. Should we make a law to force them to wear one of these? Can't you just hear the outrage now?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Things I saw on my day off...

I took the day off last Friday to celebrate Bike-to-Work week by biking instead of working (there's a logic of sorts to it) and I saw a few things.

First there was our cycling Mayor of Vancouver Gregor tuck-in-those-pant-cuffs Robertson who I spotted crossing Broadway at Yukon looking every bit the perfect ad for the commuter lifestyle. Too bad about the message that the helmet gives off (cycling is scary and dangerous) but it's the law and I suppose as a civic employee he has to toe that line and it's likely that he agrees with helmet use anyhow -- sigh.

I didn't have my camera ready so I didn't take this shot,
but this is essentially what I saw.

And he walks the walk too. Not only can you catch him biking around town or spot him at a Critical Mass ride but Vancouver city council has now voted to close one of the Burrard Bridge’s six lanes to traffic in favour of cyclists. Whoo-hoo! The six-month trial is scheduled to begin some time in June. The southbound curb lane will be dedicated to southbound cyclists only and the eastside sidewalk will be dedicated to northbound cyclists only. While all pedestrians will be directed to the westside sidewalk.

Then there was the Google camera car which I saw coming out of an alley about a block from my house and then again about two blocks away near 10th & Fraser. At first I had no idea what I was looking at, but hopefully if I'm in the shot they'll blur out the stunned look on my face.

Again, camera not ready, but it looked just like this.

Google has announced that its cars will be driving around taking photos in the coming weeks in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and Saint John. Google is now rolling down the streets of Vancouver in time for the 2010 Games. There has been quite a bit of controversy regarding Street View in other countries, notably the United Kingdom, but I haven't really heard an argument against it that I can agree with... yet.

And then while cycling along the bike trail around Sunset Beach I was stopped by a camera man and reporter doing a video survey of some sort for BCAA regarding their new service called Bike Assist. They talked to me and filmed for about 5 minutes or so. So as of June 1, cyclists in B.C. -- with BCAA memberships -- can get the same services as motorists when they run into trouble on the road. A phone call will bring a BCAA mechanic with bike tools and training to fix common problems, from a flat tire to a broken chain. If the problem is more serious, the mechanic will put the bike onto the truck’s bike rack and bring it, and its rider, home or to a bike shop. Apparently they draw the line at picking bike locks. Unfortunately they couldn't tell me if you could get a BCAA membership if you didn't have a car.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Should Distracted Drivers Face Jail Time?

Yet another news item in the growing list of distracted driving crimes. In this case, we have a woman doing her nails killing another woman on a motorcycle. And her motorcycle helmet (not the light-weight, plastic-sheathed, styrofoam toys that we cyclists sport) could not save her life.

There is also a reference in the article to a driver killing a cyclist while downloading ring-tones.

Or how about this "caught on tape" texting bus driver?

It's hard to imagine what other evidence is required before our lawmakers take notice and deal with the issue of distracted drivers. Distracted drivers are impaired drivers and it's time that the law saw it that way. But instead of dealing with real safety issues like distracted driving they'll pass knee-jerk reaction laws to force cyclists to wear ineffectual styrofoam buckets so they can say they did something. Dealt with public safety... check... next issue.

That said, it sounds like Ontario may be the first province to get its feet wet in the area. A bill to make distracted driving an offense has passed third reading in Queen's Park and the government hopes to have a law in place by the fall. Essentially, drivers in Ontario will not legally be allowed to use hand-held devices to talk or to send e-mail or text messages. Well that's a start but unfortunately there's still plenty of fine tuning to do on the legislation due to lobbying by commercial transportation companies (and you just know there will be others) to get an exemption. Maybe they need to look at the bus video above.

So now I'm informed that Newfoundland has banned cell phones in moving vehicles. Well well, there is hope yet.