Funny Formatting

Pardon the funny formatting. I’m playing with different themes. And not all of them play nicely.

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Bicycle “Innovations” and “Disruptive Technologies”

I hate buzz words.

Gourmet, luxury, custom, and (more recently) artisanal are used by advertising and marketing agencies to convince people that their very normal products are so much better than everything else on the market.

  • “Enjoy a gourmet dining experience…” = We give you an inflated sense of importance while serving you regular restaurant food.
  • “Our cars have a luxury lounge setting…” = We put in extra cushioning.
  • “… custom to fit your needs.” = There are options– all of which cost extra.
  • “Our artisanal bread will…” = The bread looks ugly and doesn’t come sliced.

Ever worse, the word “technology” is abused by people who don’t understand modern electronics to induce a “wow” from other people who don’t understand modern electronics.

  • “Our products utilizes Wi-Fi technology…” = It is Wi-Fi capable- like everything else.
  • “We use technology to leverage…” = Our staff has desktop computers.

So it should be no surprise when I admit that I am more consistently annoyed by “innovations in the bicycle industry” than impressed. And what better way to demonstrate how very, very bad some of these innovations are than to look at concepts and point out their worst flaws?

They’re integrated bike lights– not a paradigm shift in sustainable movement visibility.

Category #1 – “Cut the Lock, Break the Bike!” (Ha! You bikes thieves just got owned!)

Most people hate carrying around bike locks. The weight seems unnecessary (until your bike is stolen) and there are precious few manufacturers that create convenient mounting systems for their locks. But most people do it because carrying the bike lock is a necessary evil in the overall bike security effort. Or is it?

According to Frameblock, Interlock, the Yerka Project, Seatylock, Biomega, or any of the other integrated locking projects/products to pop up recently, that’s concern of the past! Here’s the general concept: Integrate the bike lock into the frame, seat, or handlebars so that if a thief attempts to steal your bike by breaking the lock, all the thief would get for his troubles is a genuinely unridable bike! Fantastic!

Wait– what about the bike owner? There is no instance within the integrated-lock-theft attempt where the owner is left with a working bike. If the thief gives up, an integral part of the bike is damaged and in need of replacement. If the bike is broken and unridable for the thief, then it’s also unridable for the owner. And last, there is no deterrence against theft because these designs are so esoteric and obscure that your average bike thief won’t know the futility of the theft attempt.

HA! Gotcha you theiftard! Now you can’t ride the bike. Now, I’m going to laugh all the way to the bike store to buy another bike!









Category #2 – “Integrated Lights? What Could Go Wrong?”

I’m a massive proponent of “car-ifying” the bike. That is that I think that bike shops should not sell bikes without also selling a lock, helmet, lights, and possibly some cargo/storage options. But recently, some people have been taking the concept a bit too far for long-term functionality.

Consider Helios. Helios is making premium handlebars with integrated headlights. Sounds simple enough and concept is very car-ific, no? Well, I don’t think so to be honest. When a model of automobile goes out of production, bulbs to the headlamps stay in production for decades afterward. Can we expect the same for such a high-priced, niche market product? Given the non-standard light port, I’d say no. Furthermore, the light’s angle is non-adjustable and you need to use a tool to remove the battery packs and charge them. That doesn’t seem like a benefit over a quick-release light.

Lights need to be able to be moved from one bike to the next, recharged, replaced, upgraded, and handlebars need to be replaced as well. Lights need to be removable. It’s that simple.

Any second, now, this trend is going to totally take off.








Category #3 – “I Trust My Bike to My Phone.”

I really don’t blame the current generation for attempting to connect anything an everything to their smartphones. Chances are that they’ve only known a world with cell phones, easy access to the internet, and spend entirely too much time under the assumption that their smartphones and the electrical lifeblood that keeps them useful is always available. But as these smartphones get thinner, the demands of them get more significant, and their use expands, they’ll either need larger batteries or to be recharged more frequently. This means they’re unreliable as a means of secure access. Still, Skylock and Bitlock give you the great opportunity to lose your bicycle… to yourself. What a pain it will be when you lock up your bike, pop on your tunes, return to your bike, and… nothing. Phone’s dead.

What is so very difficult about carrying a key? A little, itty, bitty key. No electricity needed.

Sorry, Steve. Your penchant for cat memes has made your bike a piece of installation art that describes the futility of the smartphone lock. We hope you can call a buddy for a ride… oh wait. That’s right. Your phone is dead.



It Still Just Works

The bicycle hasn’t changed much since the inception of the “safety bicycle” (the version of the bicycle that came after the penny farthing). It hasn’t changed because it works really, really well.

1880 Penny Farthing on the left, 1886 Safety Bicycle on the right. Looks pretty darn familiar, doesn’t it? 129 years old and still the dominant design.









The same goes for bicycle lights and bicycle locks. Low-tech works. It’s decades-proven. Yes, we should always strive to innovate, but in asking “Can we?” we should also be asking “Why are we bothering?”.


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2015 CA Legislation Review: SB-192 Mandatory Bicycle Helmets for Everyone


This bill seeks to require helmets for all people riding bicycles on the road, regardless of age. Currently, bicycle helmets are only required for people under the age of 18.


  • Decreased severity of cranial injury to helmet-wearing bicyclists when involved in a collision or solo fall.


  • Additional barrier to bicycling
  • Decreased attractiveness of bicycling
  • Creates an undue assertion that bicycling is dangerous

My Vote: No

Comments and Suggestions
Gosh, there’s a lot to say here. Brace yourself.

Perception & Misunderstandings of the Origins of Bicycle Injury
Bicycle safety is too often relegated to the quintessential post-collision question of, “Was she wearing a helmet?”—as if wearing a helmet is THE most significant means of preserving the safety of a cyclist. Often, if the bicyclist was wearing a helmet and the bicyclist dies regardless, the next talking point becomes, “See, if a helmet couldn’t save her, she probably shouldn’t have been on the road. Roads are made for cars.”

If we’re going to mandate something under the name of safety, I think it should be something proven to actually reduce the likelihood of collision, not just decrease the probability of death upon collision. Prevention first, mitigation last.

Furthermore, when you think of “Mandatory Helmet Law” in California, you think “motorcycles”, right? And if a mandatory helmet law is passed for bicyclists, people will unquestionably (and falsely) equate the risk of bicycling on the road with the risks of motorcycling on the road. There were 4,046 motorcycle fatalities in California in 2011 as compared to 116 bicyclist deaths in the same year. Equating the two is not only disingenuous, but genuinely detrimental to the future of bicycling.

Selective Enforcement of the Law
Selective enforcement of certain laws is inherent in our policing practices. It exists due to cultural and systemic bias and it’s not going away any time soon. We see this in the application of New York City’s Stop and Frisk standard and even when the Santa Ana Police enforced (the now defunct) mandatory bicycle registration laws against the homeless and low-income but refrain from citing people on more expensive bikes. I am concerned that the police will use a mandatory helmet law as a weapon to cover up the bias of a prejudicial stop and contact.

Unreasonable Burden
A K-Mart/Walmart bicycle can cost less than $100 and no one attempts to sell bikes as a complete package of bike + helmet + lights + lock, so everyone assumes that if you have a bike, that’s good enough. The expense of a helmet, headlight, or a lock more secure that a coiled cable is assumed to be optional.

A bike can last a long time, but helmets don’t. It’s advised that a regularly worn helmet is replaced every 2 years or upon the helmet’s first collision—whichever comes first. A helmet doesn’t need to shatter to need replacing. If the wearer falls and bumps his head with no notable injuries or if the helmet is dropped from a sufficient height, the helmet needs to be replaced.

So how big is this burden? How much does a helmet cost? It depends on where you buy it and what you’re willing to accept. If you’re willing to buy bulk (40+), you can get a helmet for $9.55. It’ll be really, really ugly (and thus less likely to be worn and cared for), but it will meet all the necessary safety standards and provide a customizable fit. If you’re not willing to buy bulk, need a helmet to fit you properly, and aren’t willing to wear something that will lead to the immediate lowering of your self-esteem, you need to spend at least $35-$40 (plus tax). That’s not a small amount of money especially when you have to have another $35-$40 (effectively) on-hand just in case your helmet needs replacing.

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2015 CA Legislation Review: AB-875 Low-Speed Electric Bicycles


This bill seeks to modify the definition of “motorized bicycle” by renaming the defining section to “low-speed electric bicycles” and changing many of the specifications.


  • Allows for 2- and 3-wheels pedalcycles. (Bicycles and tricycles)
  • Lowers the maximum power output to 750 watts or 1 horsepower. (Down from 1,000 watts and 2 hp)
  • Sets a maximum weight of 80 lbs for the bike/trike
  • Sets a testing standard for the 20mph max. speed including a rider weight of 170 lbs.
  • All the other motorized bicycle stuff stays like mandatory helmets, minimum age of 17 y/o for riders, etc.


  • Allows for so-categorized low-speed electric bikes to be used on bicycle paths (currently they are not).

Comments and Suggestions
This is a love/hate bill for me. For the most part, I like it. It brings down the max power of the electric bike which reduces the chances of them being used like unregulated cheap motorcycles. It clarifies some requirements. But it doesn’t go far enough in making motorized bicycles safe to use on bike paths. 20mph is too fast for anyone on a bike path because bike paths cater to more than just fast-moving bicycles. They have pedestrians, strollers, children, dogs, etc. I would heartily support this bill if it set the maximum speed for the so-described bicycle type to 15mph. I would be even happier if the bill disallowed throttles on these types of bikes thus requiring pedal assist with the motor cutting out at 15mph.

In the end, I can’t support the bill if it allows for 20mph throttle-actuated bicycles on bike paths.

My vote
: No.

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2015 CA Legislation Review: AB-28 Rear Bicycle Lights and Reflectors


This bill seeks to increase the visibility of bicyclist by mandating that extra gear be equipped to the bicyclist and/or bicycle. Originally, the bill called for rear-facing white lights be mandated, but was amended to the use of red blinking lights. The rear light requirement would replace the rear reflector requirement. Additionally, if the cyclist doesn’t have a red blinking light, then reflective gear worn by the bicyclist would be acceptable.


  • People are less likely to hit more visible bicyclists.


  • The law requires the purchase of accessories and thus an additional barrier to bicycling.
  • Battery-powered bike lights run out of power. Few bike lights in America double as reflectors when out of power. Thus, when you’re out of power half-way through a ride, you need to dismount and walk your bike lest you incur a citation.

Comments and Suggestions
America has a product requirement stating that all bicycle helmets sold in the States must pass the same safety tests. Let’s do the same for bike lights and set some minimum standards. Germany has done this with their StVZO standards, but we don’t need to go so far so quickly. The first of these standards should be that all red rear lights sold for use on a bicycle should have a steady light setting, blinky light setting, and serve as a sufficient red reflector. Without this standard, the cons heavily outweigh the pros.

My vote: No.

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2014 & 2015 – The New American Bicycle Renaissance

If you’ve had any doubt that we’re in a second American bicycle renaissance, just consider all the recent legislation pertaining to the use of bicycles.

Yes, exactly like this but with more wheels. MANY MORE WHEELS!

Recently enacted is the Three Feet for Safety Act (CVC 21760) that requires drivers of automobiles to give 3-feet of buffer space when passing a cyclist on the road.

Additionally, after much opposition (some from me), the Protected Bikeways Act was sufficiently modified to be passed. This piece of legsilation opens the door for cities to create their own bikeways designs. (Not that any will do so. They don’t want the liability.)

Following this post will be a short series of posts describing the notable bicycle-relevant legislation current to this posting date. Follow the links to the bills themselves and send comments directly to the legislature– or just comment on the post.

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The Protected Bikeways Act – A Holistic Analysis of California Assembly Bill 1193


California Assembly Bill 1194 (AB1193) has been a bit of a divisive subject right now and has two of the states largest bicycle advocacy organizations, the California Bicycle Coalition (Cal Bike, CBC) and California Association of Bicycle Organizations (CABO), at odds with one another.

AB 1193 is also called the “Protected Bikeways Act” and, as CBC explains it, it would finally make protected bikeways legal in California. We’ll talk about issues in the legislation later, but first let’s clarify what these protected bikeways are.

What’s a Protected Bikeway?

Technically speaking, a “protected” bike way is any bicycle facility that protects the cyclist from physical harm posed by passing automobiles. The State of California already has design guidelines for these. They are called “Class 1 Bikeways”. Most people know them as “bike trails”, “bike paths”, or “off-street paths”.

However, the CBC isn’t fighting to make Class 1 Bikeways legal. They already are. They want “cycle tracks” to be legal in the State of California.

What is a Cycle Track?

A cycle track is a bicycle transportation facility immediately adjacent to the roadway, but physically separated from the roadway. Separation can be provided using a variety of methods in order of expense and with each option’s flaws in the caption:

Painted Buffers

While cycle tracks are often described as physically protecting the cyclist, this style, like bike lanes, only give the illusion of physical protection.


Bollard separation increases the visibility of a separated facility. However, floppy bollards don’t stop automobiles. When floppy bollards are used, it’s a sign of the municipality concerned more with automobile damage than with the physical safety of cyclists. Still, hard bollards are hazards to cyclists wherever they are used as they can catch handlebars. Moreover, any bollard inclosure makes it difficult for a cyclist traveling at speed to leave the bike lane to make  turns or avoid hazards.

Parked Cars

Parked cars a great protection against other automobiles driving into a separated facility. However, if no cars are parked, there is no protection. Additionally, using parked cars guarantees cross traffic across the bicycle facility, guarantees an increase in debris in the facility, adds the risk of passenger-side doorings without significant buffering.


Consider these as more expensive bollards with a significantly higher upkeep cost.

Curb/Grade Separation

Grade separated cycle tracks are elevated 2-6 inches above the existing roadway. In most cases, the cycle track is still mountable by a moving automobile, so the goal is not exactly to stop the automobile, but to alert the driver that he’s doing something he shouldn’t. Curb-separation provides significantly more physical protection, but anything requiring the pouring of concrete will be a major expense.

Combination Treatments

Hazards, costs, and utility will vary depending on design.

Why are Cycle Tracks Illegal in California?

Well, that’s the weird thing. They’re not actually illegal. That’s all just wordplay to rouse the troops! Currently, CalTrans doesn’t have any guidance on the construction of cycle tracks even though it was previously mandated that they develop guidelines. If you your city wants to install a cycle track in California, they have to submit a request to install experimental infrastructure. When CalTrans approves the design, they can build the cycle track.

There are multiple cycle tracks in existence throughout California. Some in Long Beach. At least one in the Inland Empire.

Why Does CalTrans Have to Establish Cycle Track Standards?

It’s all about liability and risk (AKA fear of lawsuits). CalTrans establishes all transportation engineering standards for all public transportation infrastructure in California. If you build something to CalTrans standards and someone gets hurt, you won’t get sued– CalTrans will. They’re the ones that said, “Trust me. This design is legit!”

Again, the problem is that CalTrans has been slow to establish these standards and certain organizations (planning groups, construction groups, some bicycle advocacy groups) want their cycle tracks NOW!

Why is CalTrans Taking So Long to Establish These Standards?

Well, I can’t speak to any bureaucratic issues, but I know that cycle track design is extremely intense.  When you install a bike lane, all you’re doing is laying down some paint X feet from the curb, spray painting “Bike Only” in the lane, and putting up some “Bike Lane” signs on each block, and you’re done.

Cycle tracks are much more complex. Just take a look at all the different methods of physically separating the facility from automobiles. Ignoring the high costs, each have their flaws ranging from supplying no better physical protection than a bike lane to manufacturing additional hazards for the cyclists using the facility. And then there are the intersection issues. In fact, let’s compare how each major type of bicycle facility interacts with automobiles at an intersection.

Class 1 Bikeway (Bike Path/Trail)

Class 1 Bikeways interact with roads like freeways– on-ramps and off-ramps.

Class 2 Bikeways (Bike Lanes)

While this image doesn’t show bike lanes, it accurately describes how bikes lanes interact with intersections (they don’t). The bicyclist leaves the bike lane to go straight or turn left. If he needs to turn right, he stays in the bike lane and turns right at the intersection.

Class 3 Bikeways (Shared Roads)

On roads without bike lanes, just move like a car.

Cycle Tracks

I don’t have an image for this because it usually takes a whole hour to describe all the intersection risks with cycle tracks because there are so many potential designs. I’m being serious, too. A poorly done cycle track actually increases collision risk. In my opinion, there’s only one correct way to implement a cycle track and reduce collision risk with automobiles and that’s to have fully separated signalization for bicycles and automobiles at every cycle track intersection while also making right turns on red lights 100% illegal.

And that’s all very expensive. And thus likely not going to be implemented.

Cycle Tracks are Extremely Complex. I get it. So Why Has There Been So Much Argument About This Bill?

Well, the first issues had nothing to do with cycle tracks, oddly enough. AB 1193 was so poorly written initially that it actually would have reduced the rights of cyclists on the road by mandating they use the cycle track if one was present.

Luckily, through good discussion, emails, and some voting in legislative committees, the bad wording was removed. The only things that remained are the bits that mattered: Allowing cities to create cycle tracks without CalTrans oversight and adding cycle tracks as a fourth class of bicycle infrastructure.

AB 1193 Has Passed! When Do We See All the New Cycle Tracks?!

There’s the rub, bub. You’ll probably not see a Nederlander cycle track paradise for decades to come. You probably won’t even see any cycle tracks built specifically because AB 1193 has allowed them. The cities, regardless of the law, don’t want to build cycle tracks without Cal Trans standards. Their goal is to minimize exposure to potential lawsuits and the best way to do that is to wait for CalTrans standards.


Because the California Bicycle Coalition proposed it and they weren’t going to back down. Because planning groups hope to get multi-million-dollar contracts out of it. Because there are a significant number of bicycle advocates who don’t understand transportation on the road and thus want bicycles off the road.

So it is of my estimate that there will be very few miles of cycle tracks to come directly as a result of AB 1193. The day CalTrans releases their cycle track standards, cities will be spending money like madness for their symbolic strips of cycle track, but they will still be relatively rare by comparison to greenway bike paths, bike lanes, and roads without bike facilities because of their cost.

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Where’d all the “California Bike Law” Posts Go?

Look above you on the menu bar. By the request of some readers, I’ve made the California Bike Law analysis posts permanent pages for reference. As of this post, all the bicycle-specific CVC is posted. I also intend to post the state law regarding e-bikes/motorized bicycles in addition to Orange County Local municipal code.

Does this part of cycling interest you? Let me know by email or comment!

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Cycling Advocacy – Is it Possible to Over-Incentivize and Over-Amenitize?

The Research

There is a theory in the economics and social psychology (*cough* same thing) that says that if you use extrinsic incentives to affect behavior before allowing intrinsic incentives to materialize in behavior, you’re not only going to spend more time/effort/money than you need to see the desired behavior change, but people may be less willing to change their behaviors.

Mindsplosion in progress.

Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

It’s called the Motivation Crowding Effect and was very well-researched in The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out. The paper describes a survey of Swiss citizens in 1993 when the government was siting two nuclear waste repositories. The Swiss citizenry was highly educated on the matter regarding nuke dumps and there was already significant debate on the matter.

These researchers surveyed one portion of the community asking if they’d be willing to have a repository in their area. 50.8% responded in the affirmative, 44.9% opposed the facility. 4.3% didn’t care. Such is the power of Swiss civic commitment! Try to get 50% approval for this in the States!

Wait what? 50% said “OK”!?

To test the effects of extrinsic incentives, the researchers repeated the exact question to a different selection of citizens within the same population, except adding that the Swiss government would compensate each citizen in the community either $2,175, $4,350, or $6,525 per year!

The level of acceptance dropped to 24.6%.

And then, everyone who rejected the $2,175/year offer was offered a 50%, 33%, and 25% increase on the respective offer. Only a single respondent who declined the first compensation was now prepared to accept the higher offer.

Blown away by the results, the researchers change communities altogether and go to Northern Switzerland. 41% would accept the nuke dump, 56.4% were against it, and 2.6% didn’t care. When offered compensation, the level of acceptance dropped to 27.4%.

These guys are really… cool?

So what’s going on here? Some are seeing the addition of financial incentive as proof of risk, liability, or some otherwise undisclosed downside. Others see the offer for some incentive and may want to hold out for a LOT of incentive.

Bicycle Commuter Incentives

Now how the hell does this affect the world of the bike?

Well, if you take a look at the business of bicycle advocacy, you’ll see a vast array of incentives and amenities available for businesses and organizations to demand and supply to make the lives of bicyclists better than non-bicyclists. Here’s a comprehensive list of bicycle commute incentives I’ve come across in the last 3 years, categorized by the style of incentive:


Ya, like that. That’s how we facilitate cycling. Doggie water-waiters.

Standard Bicycle Parking – Standard bicycle parking is easy to understand. It’s a bike rack that meets minimum security requirements placed so it can be fully utilized and seen by passers-by.

Guaranteed Ride Home – A guaranteed ride home program facilitates transportation home for people who have commuted to work without a car but need to get home in an emergency. This could come in the form of paid taxi fare, bus/train fare, being driven home in a company car,etc.

Occasional Parking Passes – An employer with a paid parking system that requires the lack of permit to receive any other incentives may still provide a number of one-day permits for those days when biking to work is impractical.

Education – It’s hard to understate the value of bicycle education in the realm of cycling let alone bike commute. Suffice to say that an educated cyclist is safer, less stressed on the road, and a better ambassador than those who are trying to just “figure it out”.

Security – Appropriate bicycle-relevant security includes having local security and/or police cognizant of the laws, policies, and enforcement tactics relevant to cycling. This is important to create a safe, secure, and welcoming environment for the bike commuter and even the bike itself.


Ya, I got that. That, too. I think I… ya, I got that.

Showers – Making showers available at the work place is frequently cited as an incentive to start biking and a great support option for existing bicycle commuters.

Storage Lockers – Implied by having showers, but able to exist on their own, some suggest providing storage lockers for cycling commuter so they can store their helmet, bike clothes, etc. before heading to their specific work sites.

Bike Cages/Rooms/Stations – A bike cage or BikeStation is a fully enclosed and secured area in which one parks his/her bike. Locking is recommended at varying levels of security depending on the site.

Bike Lockers – Not to be confused with storage lockers, bicycle lockers are little personal garages in which people park bikes. The bike locker protects bicycles from weather damage and obscures more expensive bicycles from interested thieves.


Don’t expect this much for riding a bike to work. But still…

Parking Cash-Out – The State of California requires employers that subsidize the cost of parking to give employees the opportunity to relinquish parking rights in favor of a monthly/yearly cash-out.

Bike-to-Work Awards – Some employers will literally pay employees to commute by bike. I’ve seen this range from $1/day to $5/day for biking. Some employers even commit to providing additional vacation days for those to choose a non-drive-alone commute or raffles, etc.

Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit – In 2009, the IRS added the Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit to the existing list qualified transportation fringe benefits (26 U.S.C. sec. 132(f)). Due to various restrictions, this perk is rarely actually cashed-in.

Unlike the parking and transit benefits, this is not a pre-tax perk for expenses– it’s an up-to-$20/month non-taxable reimbursement by the employer to the employee for qualified bicycle commute-related expenses (purchase of a bicycle, bicycle improvement, repair, and storage). Receipts of expenses must be provided. If you’ve ever worked within accounting or purchasing within a bureaucracy, you’ll know that it takes anywhere between $25 to $125 to process a reimbursement due to the oversight in processing such transactions.

The employer, as a result, gets to pay less federal taxes. But if your employers already doesn’t pay federal taxes (ie you work for a public agency or 501(c)3), there is no benefit. As such, it is very, very rare to see this benefit in actual implementation.

Bringing it All Together – Over-Advertising Rare Amenities

Imagine yourself as a an everyday drive-alone commuter. You drive 3 miles to work and 3 miles home. Work is well within a bikable and, arguably, a walkable commute. You’re likely within range of a transit option, as well. You’ve heard of people commuting to work, but thus far it’s not really for you.

But then you come across an article that says, “Hey, your employer could become bike-friendly in 5 easy steps!” You read on and the article says, “1. Bicyclists don’t want to go to work all sweaty. Build them bike showers!”

You think to yourself, “Ya… I don’t want to get to work all sweaty. I’ll consider biking if they install showers.”

Further on, the article reads, “2. Bicycle thieves can get through any lock. Build bike cages or install bike lockers!”

You think to yourself, “Ya… I don’t want to spend $600 on a bike only for it to get stolen. I’ll consider biking if they make a bike cage.”

Further on, the article reads, “3. People don’t want to have to deal with cars while biking to work. Locate your business near a major bike path!”

You think to yourself, “Ya… I don’t want to mess with cars, either! I’ll consider biking when I don’t have to set a single wheel on the same road as a car!”

And suddenly the article on bike commuting and what an employer can do to support bike commuters has instilled more hesitations and rationalizations than were natively in the the potential rider’s head.

But but… I can’t ride my bike to work without all these potential amenities! It would be a disaster!

The worst part is that not only are these types of bike commuter amenities rare, but they’ll always be rare because they’re all wrought with unreal expectations.

  • Bike Showers
    • Installation Needs – Separate room(s), plumbing, security
    • Risk – More than one person in a shower, peepers, accidental flashing, slip hazards
    • Drama – Time in the shower
    • Cost – Significant
    • Alternative – Have experienced bike commuters describe how well they get by without a shower after a bike commute and what particular steps they take to do so.
  • Bike Cages
    • Installation Needs – Space, construction, membership security system, cameras
    • Risk – Little
    • Drama – Little
    • Cost – Significant
    • Alternative – Educate on the best and worst types of bike locks in addition to best-case locking methods.
  • Bike Path Proximity
    • Installation Needs – Not within your control.
    • Risk – None.
    • Drama – The fight to get a bike path steered towards your work site or to have your work site change locations
    • Cost – None, usually.
    • Alternative – Accept that locating a bike path and business require levels of decision making and variable evaluation with which simple requests can’t compete. Instead, provide quality road bicycling education (TS 101, Cycle Savvy) to negate the professed need for bike paths.

Excellent. Now your potential cyclists won’t ride because they’re under the impression that all those things they heard about are fiscally possible and the only reasons you won’t implement such amenities is because you’re cheap!

Bringing it All Together – Over-Incentivizing

Incentives cost money, time, and effort. For the most part, there is no plug-and-play incentive or amenity out there aside from the “Support” incentives described above. Bike parking standards are well known (APBP), Guaranteed Rides Home are a standard practice within Transportation Demand Management, Free Occasional Parking is easy to wrap your head around, and all people understand the value of bike education (even if they’re unwilling to take part in it themselves).

Support incentives are also provide the best bang-for-the-buck. Having quality bike parking is a capital investment. Well-negotiated, you get install bike parking for $100/bike stall plus the land it occupies. And bike racks are built to last. Even with a campus of 12,000+ employees, we go through 2-3 GRH’s a month. Free parking is easy to organize if you control the parking. Bike education lasts a life time.

But consider the cost of the Amenities. Showers, storage lockers, bike cages, and bike lockers are all very expensive and you will likely need to recuperate their very high cost. That means limiting shower time, having to rent out the storage lockers and bike lockers, and charging a fee for use of the bike cage. So, instead of just capital expense, you have maintenance expense as well. The amenities will certainly be hits with existing cyclists,  but just how many NEW cyclists will you get from it?

Cash incentives are the worst. If your company of 1,000 has a 5% bike commute rate and you implement a $5/day bike commuter award, without a single new rider, you’re in the hole $5,250/month. And if you’re wise enough to limit such an incentive to *new* bike commuters only, you still risk them ending their bike commute when their temporary cash incentive ends.


This has been a very, very long blog post that I will likely have to come back and edit. Regardless of edits, though, the premise will stay clear: Do not blindly throw incentives and amenities at potential bike commuters. Every single incentive you provide should be financially sustainable and work to *increase* the number of bike commuters by directly attacking their most significant hesitations. If a cheaper method of supporting your potential bike commuters exists, try it out.

But above all, do not resort to extrinsic incentives before fully exploiting the most pertinent intrinsic incentives to bike commuting.

  • You don’t have to pay for parking.
  • You don’t have to pay for commute fuel.
  • You don’t put miles on your car.
  • You get exercise on your commute and thus feel better everywhere.
  • You lose weight/can eat more — or even both!
  • Depending on your location, your bike commute may be shorter than your driving commute.
  • You’re not polluting the air.


Posted in Bike.UCI Programs and Initiatives, Sustainable Transportation | Leave a comment

The Motorist is Absolved of Fault!

Time and time again, the actions of bad drivers are supported by the inaction of law enforcement. We all see tons of people using their cell phones while driving and we’re all aware of the danger that their actions place on themselves and those around them.

No, seriously. Glowing blue crotches are deadly. STOP LAUGHING. THIS IS SERIOUS!

April was distracted driving awareness month and some police departments took it seriously.

But in reality, while the revenue from tickets surely poured in, the effort didn’t continue past April. Why not? Because the cite-writers can empathize. They’re drivers, too. They fiddle with their phones when they shouldn’t as well.

But that’s not the point! That shouldn’t matter!

And then there’s the recent issue of motorists using pedestrian signals to decide whether or not they can increase speed to beat a light. When the driver ahead of them, contrarily decides to brake at the yellow, the considerate driver gets rear-ended.

This signal is to help people walk across the street. Nothing else. This is not a tough concept.

Now, liability is obviously with the motorist in the rear. Pedestrian signals are in place exclusively for the management of sidewalk-to-sidewalk traffic. At no place in law, MUTCD, or HDM does it suggest otherwise. Thus, the motorist is at fault if s/he uses a pedestrian signal to measure how to drive an automobile on the road and, in doing so, causes harm to person or property.

Moreover, California Vehicle Code 21703 explicitly states: “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.” That’s the citation to resolve the rear-ending issue. Increase the fine, advertise it well, and watch these kinds of collisions go down.

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. You did wrong, you hurt people, and you’re unquestionably guilty of crimes.

And yet, somehow, these pedestrian count-down timers are being BLAMED for “causing” accidents and people are questioning whether or not they should be allowed. (NPR)

Now, let’s talk about why these signals exist. On any two-lane street (one lane of traffic going in either direction), these countdown timers are not necessary because the street is narrow enough for a pedestrian to get across in just a few seconds.

When you have these massive arterial roads, however, with 4+ lanes going in either direction, it can take a pedestrian 40+ seconds to get across. If someone’s showing up to the corner with the signal having already started, the pedestrian needs to know how much time s/he has to cross before deciding to jump into the crosswalk. Thus the need for the pedestrian countdown timer.

And this one doesn’t even have 4 crosswalks!

So the problem is giant roads. Moreover, the underlying problem is that there is an over-inflated value of convenience placed on the motor vehicle and driver in comparison to all others using the public right of way. This is why the pedestrian signal exists AND why it is being blamed for the issue instead of the offending motorists themselves.

Drivers of motor vehicles notoriously go un-cited for harming bicyclists and pedestrians in the course of violating traffic law and, recently, some people are picking up on the pattern.… []… []… []… []

The last 4 decades of city design have seen the expectation of free right turns and high-speed right turns– both of which make traveling by automobile faster and more convenient, but also increasing the amount of time it takes for a pedestrian to cross a road. With the increased crossing time requirements, it becomes more and more necessary to have countdown timers on pedestrian signals.

If you want an engineering solution to this problem, implement the 3 engineering change below:

  1. Tighten up corners to at intersections. This reduces the distance corner-to-corner, reduces the time needed to cross the street, and slows down automobiles so that they actually see the pedestrians crossing the street.

    Via the magic of geometry, we keep the same amount of roadway and decrease pedestrian travel distance by over 30%!

  2. Add pedestrian bulb-outs wherever there is street parking to further reduce the time needed to cross the road.

    Amazing… -ly standard engineering techniques completely ignored by city planners.

  3. Then, and only then, remove the count-down timer for pedestrian signals at that intersection.


  1. The right-turning automobile is slowed.
  2. Pedestrians cross the street quicker and red signal durations become shorter because it takes less time for pedestrians to cross the street.
  3. Pedestrian count-downs are removed due to lack of need thus removing the temptation from motorists to use them inappropriately.

While counter-intuitive, the answer is not further facilitating automobile transportation. Instead, it’s best-facilitating pedestrian transportation. If you stop trying to shoe-horn peds into a driving world and recognize that everyone lives safer and more conveniently when peds are catered to, we all get along that much better.

Can I get my honorary GED in Civil Engineering already?


Posted in Advocacy News, Follow Ramon, Sustainable Transportation | Leave a comment