Tag Archives: Honkin’ Huge Tailighttm

I need idiot repellant, and the Feed

I’m trying to figure out how that would work, but I’m drawing a blank, a serious blank, here. I mean I could hang a big sign on the back of my bike (“I have video cameras going AND I SUE”), but first that’s not going to help deal with people to the front, and second that will be of little use off the bike. Oh and the minor thing that if they look right through me now what good is a sign going to do? The concept is, intriguing, though. Instead of putting on perfume or aftershave, you splash on a mildly pleasant smelling liquid or use a spray, and stupid and/or crazy people can only get so close before deciding they need to be on another planet, in another solar system, somewhere where you aren’t. I guess it would be a little lonely at first, and you would still have to deal with idiots on line or on the phone, but not having to deal with idiots in person or on the road? Priceless…

I’m going to open with a DIY project that shouldn’t be DIY, it should be a regulatory requirement. Car Door Warning Color Considering the number of cyclist who “win the door prize” every year not to mention cars and trucks that hit open car doors, this is a no-brainer. This should be a law, like yesterday… ANSI Safety Lime except for cars that have a paint color that doesn’t contrast with ANSI Safety Lime should be painted Florescent Orange.

First wreck is one of the most avoidable wrecks you can die from. Bicyclist Struck, Killed by Tri-Rail Train in Fort Lauderdale Yes, another cyclist struck by a train after seeing one cross going the other direction. Just stay behind the crossing arms until they rise indicating that the way is clear. That doesn’t relieve you of the need to look when crossing, but it does indicate that there is little likelihood of a train being on the track to hit you. In this case the fact that it was in FL (the most deadliest place to walk or ride a bike 6 years running) is immaterial.

Moving west to CA, we find a cyclist hit in an area that was posted as too dangerous to ride because of improperly installed drain grates was hit because he wasn’t wearing a glow in the dark clown suit. 22-year-old cyclist from Lancaster killed in Highway 70 crash is namedAccording to a California Highway Patrol website, Castaneda-Romero was seen about 7:08 p.m. by a motorist eastbound on the West Branch Bridge, who called 9-1-1 to report he narrowly missed hitting the man in a traffic lane.” Which means that drivers with functioning headlights and brains could see the cyclist in spite of the lack of the aforementioned clown suit. Still, it is good sense to make yourself more conspicuous on the roads. I have enough reflective material on the back of my bike to get reported as a UFO, and for cars to back wayyy off at night. And I’m building a light that is even brighter than the legendary Honkin’ Huge Taillight™ to put on the back.

Still in CA, closure may be ahead for cyclists injured in a hit-and-run. Case unfolds against suspect in hit-and-run of two cyclists There was so much Obstruction of Justice going on in this case it made my head spin, like the telling the mechanic to buy the replacement mirror out of state… Anyway like I said in 2009, hit-from-behind protocols to avoid this wreck.

One of the downsides of living where the weather allows year-round bicycle riding is you also get year-round bicycle wrecks. 13-year-old girl on bicycle critically injured in hit-and-run Intersection wreck, assume intersection protocols would help prevent or reduce injury levels until a more complete report on the wreck comes out. One thing is for sure, somebody violated a right of way.

A cyclist that killed a pedestrian in SF gets treated more harshly than a driver that kills in identical circumstances but that isn’t enough for some people. Randolph Ang, S.F. Cyclist Who Killed Pedestrian, Should Get Jail Time Ang got more punishment than 65% of the drivers convicted of the same crime, but only 7% of those drivers are even prosecuted, even fewer convicted. But 100% of the cyclists that killed a pedestrian were prosecuted and convicted… TANJ! On the other hand DON’T HIT THE PEDESTRIANS!!!

A wreck in LA that reads more like a UK story than one published in the US. Girl hit while riding bike Aside from the fact that the wreck was in an intersection or very close to one I have nothing on this one.

Update on the SUV that flipped over on a cyclist riding in a cross street in TX. Tech student, bar being sued for wrongful death Note that the suit is not filed on the behalf of the cyclist but one of the passengers in the SUV that flipped. The most accurate information I have about this wreck is the cyclist was still 3-4 feet from reaching the intersection when he was hit by the SUV.

I’m including a rare (for me) link from the UK today. Cyclist injured when Toyota Yaris mounts kerb to pass queue of traffic in Fallowfield The cyclist was waiting for a traffic light when the weapon vehicle started to drive on the sidewalk to get around the traffic at the light. This was not a wreck that the cyclist could avoid. Besides the fact that he was stationary at the light, how can you expect someone to drive in the sidewalk because the light is red? Only crazy people do that. Well actually either one, drive on the sidewalk or expect people to drive on the sidewalk.

And that’s all the crazy I can take today…

Billed @$0.02, Opus

Great, now I’m a switch and 4 solder joints from being able to use my new taillight, and the Feed

What the headline refers to is I managed to cook the plastic parts of my switch, rendering it inoperable, while connecting the wires from the light units to it. So I have to go back to the store to get another switch and connect the wires to it (more carefully this time) and I still haven’t figured out how to make a secure soldered connection to those last two tabs on the battery pack. I have gone into the guts of the trickle charger that boiled SLA batteries to see if I can make it work as a NiMH charger, and if I bypass the regulators that failed to regulate the current I can get enough voltage out of the system to fully charge the 10s NiMH pack without damaging it. I have found out that C/10 is a perfect charge rate for using terminal voltage as a end-of-charge determinant, for 10s I will need to stop charging between 14 and 14.4V. Just to be on the safe side I’m wiring an ammeter as well as a voltmeter into this charger, to make sure the charge rate is as intended. Another thing I’m going to try is wiring an LED in series with the output as an indicator of complete charging. How that works is the voltage coming off the wall wart is 18VrmsAC, after going through the bridge it will be 16.6 VDC, the LED has to have a certain amount of voltage drop as well as a minimum current to light. What I have to do is figure out the resistor to put in series with the LED that allows 200ma current to flow until the voltage in the pack is equal to the voltage from the wall wart minus the voltage drop of the LED, which I don’t know yet because I haven’t measured it (it’s still in the electronic guts of the trickle charger). I might have to resort to using a clamping capacitor to hold the output from the bridge closer to the peak voltage of the wall wart if the forward bias of the LED is too high to allow 200ma of current to flow. And the reason I’m spending so much time on the charger is the charger will be out in the garage out of sight while the battery is being charged, it has to shut down or go to a really low current so that the battery isn’t overcharged when I put the charger on after a short night ride like I had to do when I was using the SLA battery in the Honkin’ Huge Taillight™ on Gigi. SLA is notorious for going bad if left in a partially discharged condition, NiMH not so much, so I might just wait until the light gets a little dim before slapping the charger on it, but the care would still be needed in building the charger. And I think you can see why I was chosen by Hephastus as a follower, I was an EE tech and an ME tech a long time ago. I used to get awards for following procedure 100% at some of my older jobs. I am that unholy combination of ADHD and OCD. I’m easily distracted, but while I’m on-task that task is done right!

Up first is more about the (lack of) bike lanes in Dallas. Dallas cycling group proposes barricades to protect bikers Unless there are drivers’ groups holding bake sales to get potholes fixed and bridges built the city needs to pay for bike lanes, not cycling groups holding bake sales and art auctions. Bike lanes are basic infrastructure like roads and sidewalks. But given the number of streets in TX that lack even sidewalks in spite of the fact that they are residential streets with children playing on them shows how committed to basic infrastructure they(we) are in TX.

An Upstate NY cyclist is hit-and-run and surprize surprize the driver was DUI. Bicyclist Injured in Hit and Run Crash The charges are pretty serious initially, let’s see what he eventually is convicted of. To avoid use hit-from-behind protocols.

Moving on to Jolly Olde a driver that went off the roads @~70MPH and hit a cyclist on a bike path gets off easy. Motorist who hit cyclist and injured passenger while over-taking two cars at speed keeps licence Only a minor fine and 6 points, at that rate he could hit another cyclist and still keep his license to drive, barely. TANJ!

Another case with a bit more justice as a half-blind driver is sued by his victim. Cyclist Injured in Hit and Run Accident wins £4 Million Compensation The cyclist went from being a national-level tennis coach to sitting all day in a wheelchair and getting fed through a tube.

The man accused of murder in an Oz cycling death has refused to enter a plea in his arraignment. Man enters no plea over cyclist death He also has not requested bail, so he remains in custody (jail). This case is so odd…

Another case of entitled drivers as a road that is unsafe because of falling rocks bans cyclists rather than slow down motor vehicles for a few miles. Death likely, warns driver You could just drive more slowly for a few miles rather than run over a cyclist…

And that’s all the links I have today, fortunately for my sanity.

Billed @$0.02, Opus

Letting my mind “off leash” on a Wreck-free Sunday

Usually when I sit down to my computer I have a specific topic in mind before I set fingers to keyboard. Today is not one of those days. I’m sitting here in the hope that a topic will wander through my mind and hold still long enough for me to latch onto it and get it on the screen… Or that I can throw enough stuff on the screen that something will emerge and make sense.

When I meditate for the last few years I get advice from my male deity (Hephastus) about how to make things, or sometimes what I should make. Lately it has been more along the lines of “Get off your butt and build something!!!” I have ideas, just no way to turn those ideas into actual things. Some of my problems on that front are a lack of the right tool for the job (and I am a master of making the wrong tool work), a lack of money for the raw materials (can’t build a bike that requires a 4 foot long tube when the longest in your inventory is less than 2 feet) and the biggest thing stopping me from building bicycles at the moment is lack of someplace to keep the project while it’s under construction.

My garage/workplace is full of OPS (other people’s stuff) to the extent that I have a bicycle that I can’t even find anymore (I know where it should be, but I can’t get closer than 3 feet to that spot, and the bike is buried under OPS). When I put the bike away it was in perfect riding condition, in 2007. I think it might need new tires and tubes now, not to mention a general cleanup and lubrication. But I don’t know because I can’t even see it under all the OPS. I think there might be another bike out there too, that I was going to sell but didn’t and can’t now because I can’t find it under all the OPS. It’s enough to drive a person with OCD NUTS.

I just got done taking a break from writing by working on the tail light battery, but I had to take a break from working on the battery because I’m having problems getting solder to stick to the end terminals of the battery pack. All the interconnects are interconnected, and the pack is showing 12.75 volts before charging, but I can’t get the charge terminals or the wires from the light to stick to those last 2 tabs. I tried more heat to the point that the ends of the tabs were red hot. I tried chemical cleaning with 2 different kinds of flux. I tried mechanical cleaning with scraping the terminals clean with a craft knife. Nothing has worked, the solder melts and then sits on top of the terminal in a round bead until it cools when it can be flicked off with a fingernail. The really aggravating part is this didn’t affect the rest of the tabs in the pack, even on the same cell, I didn’t change anything between tabs, I used the same torch, the same solder, and the wires from the light to the pack are the same as I used to make the interconnects. I’m stumped as to why those connections are not accepting solder when everything else did. And the frustrating part is this is the last thing needed to be done before bolting the light to the back of the bike for the last time and clicking the switch “on”. I’m literally 2 soldered connections from being able to use this light, If you can think of a better definition of “frustrating” than that, keep it to yourself because I’m depressed enough as it is…

On a completely different subject, there needs to be something I call an E-Ped for lack of a better term. Basically what it amounts to is an e-bike without pedals. Maximum speed 20 MPH (until we switch to the metric system and then it’s 35 km/h) and maximum weight 110 pounds (50 Kg), 2 or 3 wheels with mandatory head and taillights at all times, with any seating configuration. Only one seat allowed, but any amount of power, so that the vehicle could do 20 MPH or 35 km/h up just about any hill that could be paved. Allow use anywhere a bicycle could be used. No license required and a one-time registration to verify weight and maximum speed limiters are in place and to establish ownership, which would have to be renewed when ownership was transferred. A minimum fine for being in a E-Ped that wasn’t registered to you would be enough to enforce the registration requirement. This vehicle would cost between $600 and $10k depending on what you put on it and what battery you used, and range would vary between 20 and 90 miles with more money buying you more range and comfort. I guess there should also be a maximum width to make sure they would fit between the bollards of bike paths, and enclosed models would be required to have rear-view mirrors. Existing Electrathon vehicles could be considered as crude prototypes for this class of vehicle… And some not-so-crude.

I guess I let my mind wander far enough, time to proofread this then hit “Publish”.

PSA, Opus

Yehuda Moon back up, and the Feed

Yehuda Moon appears to be back in business on a Mon-Fri schedule behind a paywall after the previous 4 years was Kickstarted to dead-tree format. While I’m happy for Rick finding a way to turn a buck at it, I’m going to miss the comics and the comments as I don’t have the money for things like helmets and headlights for my bike, or to keep working computers in my office. So as much as I enjoyed the comic when it was free I won’t be able to read it now that it’s behind a paywall.

Up first an Amish woman is hit-from-behind in OH. Amish woman 1 mile from home when killed The woman was wearing a reflective vest and had a blinking taillight, so it wasn’t like she couldn’t have been seen had the driver been looking. or may she was seen and targeted for riding a bicycle on the road like I was. Anyway, hit-from-behind protocols to avoid, not that I think they would have done much good given all the other measures the cyclist took to avoid getting hit. Interesting side note, the comments on this link are disabled.

One driver hits 2 cyclists with the right of way in Phoenix AZ, no charges filed. Two Cyclists hit in Cave Creek AFAIK this was a right-hook of cyclists who were using the bike trail where it crossed this road right where it intersected a road parallel to the bike trail. I can’t see the video, but the picture I could pull up seemed to show the cyclists ended up in the wrong lane for a right hook or a left cross, the driver would have had to be pulling into the wrong lane for the cyclists to end up where they did. So at this point I don’t know exactly what is going on on this one, but it looks like it might have been an assault on the cyclists who were crossing the road.

Infrastructure! news from GA as drought conditions are tearing apart a bike trail. Safety concerns for cyclists on Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail This is exactly the same kind of destruction the drought is inflicting on the roads here in the suburbs of Hell.

Final link is infrastructure from Montreal up in the Great White North. Clear bike paths of snow and ice, study says More people would ride if the bike lanes and paths were kept clear after snow falls. I wonder if they did a similar study of drivers staying in if roads were not cleared (ow! I sprained my tongue sticking it too far in my cheek).

And that’s it and I’m out of here as I go get more things to make my new taillight more awesome. With the new stuff this light will actually exceed the output of the Honkin’ Huge Taillighttm, while using less power from the more powerful but physically smaller and lighter battery, which means longer burn time, 17.5 hours theoretical based on the rating of the cells. And there is room to add even more light to the bracket should I desire it at a later date…

Billed @$0.02, Opus

Missing out on a bunch of bike stuff to bring you the Feed

Actually I’m not missing out to bring you the Feed, it’s since I got up too late to make any of these bike things I might as well do the post with the Feed. There were all kinds of bike rides today in Oak Cliff as part of Cyclesomatic and the Build a Better Oak Cliff celebrations, but since I live on the other side of Dallas I would have to leave about 2 hours before the ride to get to the ride and I got up about the time I would have had to leave for the ride. So because I have a natural late night inclination and am adverse to early mornings, you get to read about bike wrecks and infrastructure and some stuff about bike culture.

Up first is reaction to the sentence of the man that assaulted 15 cyclists in SC. Cyclists React to Sentence in Doctor’s Death The fact that the man wasn’t even charged for the other 4 cyclists he hit is what chaps my behind the most.

Moving out west, a SWSS in Seattle, with 2 links. Mugger Put In Headlock, Cyclist Injured In Aurora Crash, and a Capitol Hill Slashing and with more detail Police: Cyclist seriously injured when struck by car on Aurora Unconscious rider taken from scene, check. Driver claims cyclist “swerved” from next lane before getting hit, check. Total lack of verifying evidence of said “swerve”? Check. To avoid, use the hit-from-behind protocols in the link at the top of my blog. Also since this was a low visibility wreck, a bright blinky tail light, or the Honkin’ Huge Tailighttm on bright might have helped. Might, if the driver was actually paying attention to the road instead of something inside the car or daydreaming.

More on the SWSS in Bend OR. Injured Cyclist Improves I’m still calling this a SWSS until I can get access to a police report with crime scene pictures… Glad to hear the cyclist is doing better…

Another report on the investigation of the left-cross of the cyclist in Lefthand Canyon in CO finally getting underway with a review of the crime scene and examination of the physical evidence. State Patrol Has 4-Month Backlog On Accidents As I stated yesterday, what I know of the physical evidence does not bode well for Mr. Loven.

Moving to the Great White North in Canuckistan (I love Canadians, my brother is one). 70-year-old cyclist critically injured Apparently they know the victim’s age but are not releasing the name until next-of-kin are notified. This looks to be a hit-from-behind wreck as well as a hit-and-run. All LEO need to do to find this guy is keep a finger on any windshield repair places in the area. I don’t know why these establishments are not required to be bonded and to report smashed windshields to LEO, it would save so much on the legwork required to find hit-and-run drivers. If a customer comes in with a smashed windshield and front end damage, hold the car to compare it to known hit-and-run wrecks in the area… Anyway, hit-from-behind protocols, and so forth.

Still in the Great White North, a cyclist is hit-from-behind and LEO blame the cyclist for being there… Bayfield cyclist killed on highway outside Egmondville At least the Mounties did mention that cyclists have a right to the roads.

More from far west Canuckistan. Cyclist hurt in collision Obviously the cyclist’s fault for wearing dark clothing, isn’t it? Notice that nothing was posted about the driver or even the existence of the car.

The first responder for this wreck was a military first-responder who was recently honored for his life-saving efforts. IN PERSON: Corpsman snapped into action to help injured cyclist Not much on the actual wreck other than hit-and-run, but that isn’t the important part of this story, the guy that stopped and helped is.

Aside from the UK reports that never say anything except that there was a cyclist hit, that is the Feed for today.

Billed @$0.02, Opus

Getting an early start, the Feed

I’m up early today, not because of the heat but because I have a meeting early this evening and I need several hours of decompression between composing the blog post and the meeting. I’m a member of the Faith Development Council at my church, which develops the calendar, creates themes for services and assigns ritualists to services. We do this because as Pagans many of us walk spiritual paths that dictate everyone is a priest or priestess, and depending on that path either can or must lead public services. To enable that we have a program that trains people in how to perform public rituals and services, and provides tools and templates to create sermons and homilies. Some of our ritualists are improvisationalists, making a broad outline of their service that they refer to from time to time but then let the service take them where it goes, others write out every word and gesture ahead of time and rehearse until it goes like clockwork. I’m in between the two, I work with a script but I have had to create a service from scratch as I went because Coyote blew all my plans to Niffleheim. My last April Fools’ service was an example of that, I was using children in the service and at the last minute all the children decided they didn’t want to do anything remotely like what I had planned (all-clown circus). I had a service that depended on a video tape to set the scene of the service (I was planning on the classic Daffy Duck short “Duck Amuck”) when the VCR decided it was through talking to the TV… well you get the idea. Anyway, this meeting is very important to the proper administration of the church and I need to be in the proper frame of mind to perform my duties, so I got the early start for this post.

Up first is a wreck where a driver hit 3 cyclists from behind outside Portland OR. Cyclist dies, 2 others injured after struck by pickup in rural Washington County and One bicyclist dead, two injured in North Plains crash more Cyclist hit, killed in accident was expecting first child, family says also Cyclist struck in Washington County dies Good Samaritan helps injured cyclists after crash another one Washington County Sheriff’s Office urges bicyclists and motorists to use caution following fatal crash near North Plains and BikePortland.org’s report Serious injuries in bike/truck crash on West Union near North Plains – Updated Of the pictures I saw of bikes at the scene only one picture showed a bike front-lighted instead of back-lighted, the picture of the bike trapped upright under the front bumper of the truck directly in front of the driver. I didn’t see any headlights but headlights would have had no bearing on this wreck, rear reflectors or lights might have, but I couldn’t tell if there were any rear lights or reflectors installed on the bikes I could see. Those bikes that were lighted properly in the pictures were too badly damaged to know if there was a light or reflector installed, and the bikes that were not so badly damaged were not lighted to be able to tell if they had a reflector or light prior to the wreck. This is one of the issues with bike wrecks, because of the many different ways and locations where lights and reflectors are mounted it is hard to tell if a bike was equipped with a tail light or reflector prior to a wreck when the bike is in tiny pieces over a large area after the wreck. In my wreck the headlight went sailing off into the countryside, the tail light was smashed but the bracket was still there where it had been installed. In other wrecks I have seen that it was known the bicycle was equipped with both lights and reflectors you couldn’t have proved it with a post-wreck analysis of the debris. At any rate when a driver hits 3 vehicles from behind at the same time the driver was not watching where he was going or driving too fast for his headlights, reaction time and brakes. Hit-from-behind protocols apply in this wreck, with emphasis on making the bikes visible from behind. I know not everyone wants to sport the 18 LED Honkin’ Huge Tailight, but there are smaller versions, and the Planet Bike 1W rear light is a daylight-visible rear light solution for 95% of the bikes out on the roads. I have seen a 3W version of that light that is painfully bright even in daylight, a driver would have to be blind to miss that.

More on the wreck in the previous paragraph plus another wreck that happened the day earlier. Rash Of Motor Vehicle, Bicycle Collisions Hit Oregon I still don’t know what happened in the logging truck wreck, with the directions of travel or the lane positions of either vehicle, all I know is the truck and the bike came together and the cyclist was killed.

Closer to home a cyclist in Beaumont is killed by a drunk driver. Update: Cyclist dead after wreck; driver arrested on intoxication manslaughter charge As near as I can tell from the two reports on this link the cyclist was either hit from behind by the drunk driver which would imply that hit-from-behind protocols might have helped, or the drunk driver hit the cyclist head on in the cyclist’s lane of travel which would not have been a wreck that a cyclist could avoid. I’m going to go with hit-from-behind as the higher probability scenario in this case.

Another wreck in the Pacific Northwest, this time a SWCC. Cyclist badly hurt after being struck by vehicle in Renton Another case where a LEO hears hoofbeats and thinks zebras instead of horses. Mid-block wreck and the LEO assumes the cyclist was crossing either because of bias or because the driver that hit the cyclist told him he was “crossing”. It may have happened that way, but I don’t put high probability on it.

And that is actually all the useful bicycle links I have for today…

Billed @$0.02, Opus

Well, this more than makes up for the small Feeds

I opened the Feed folder in my e-mail to a deluge of links. Granted not all of them are links to bicycle stories, but I have to read the link to make sure it isn’t about bicycles and that takes time. Frequently even on links that have nothing to do with bicycles or cycling, the writer uses the words “bicycle” or “cycling” or “cyclist” as a metaphor to describe something else, and I have to read the link to figure out what the connection is when there isn’t any.

Up first is an update on the cyclist hit by a teen-ager driving her truck on the wrong side of the road. Charges filed against teen in fatal bike accident from last year and Teen who hit and killed bicyclist in Magna charged Yes, hit and kill a cyclist riding legally on the opposite side of the road and you could be facing a serious misdemeanor charge and facing a large fine.

While we are on the subject of really old stories getting updated, they finally got around to taking care of the driver that hit a FL cyclist from behind on the shoulder of the road. Police Beat: License suspended for man in cross-country cyclist’s death They took his license for 6 months for killing a cyclist that wasn’t on the road. And people wonder why FL is the most deadliest state in the US to walk or ride a bicycle? (And for new readers, I know “most deadliest” is redundant. I just needed something more for a state that has 8% of the total bike fatalities in the entire country within just 3 counties, with 16% of the US total in that single state.)

In WI a Green Bay cyclist is hit mid-block (presumably from behind) and left for dead. Police report cyclist killed in Green Bay I have a solution for this, treat hit-and-run as a crime instead of as an “accident”. In TX hit-and-run is a felony, albeit the most minor form of felony, but a death that happens as a result of a felony can be treated as Capital Murder (1st degree Murder in most other states) and the driver would then be eligible for the death penalty. I have only seen this used once, in a case where a repeat DUI Hispanic hit a church bus full of white people and killed several (not everybody, but more than one person in the van) and left the scene in his vehicle only to pass out and ground the car on a curb a few hundred yards up the road. That driver is currently serving consecutive life terms, but I have seen similar wrecks where the drunk driver was either white or rich that much more lenient charges were filed, where a casual observer could not discern a difference in the mechanics of the wrecks other than the race or financial status of the perpetrators. We have the tools in place in TX, getting prosecutors to actually use those tools every time they apply is the next step.

From our nation’s capitol, a cyclist gets the “door prize” and survives, only to get a run-around when trying to get the driver’s insurance information from the cop that handled the report. Morning Notes You might want to click on the links in the report.

Speaking of the “door prize” former framebuilder Dave Moulton comments on placing bike lanes in the danger zone of parked cars. Re: “Cyclists getting a bike lane along Chapel Street”

From West Canuckistan comes more information on that cyclist hit from behind on Canada 1. Cyclist dies riding in middle of road Interesting that all those other drivers could clearly see the cyclist and change lanes to avoid hitting him, but they blame the cyclist when the guy that didn’t see him ran him over. It is also noted in the article that it is in fact legal to ride on the shoulder on that stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway, but nothing on the condition of that shoulder. I’m not condoning riding in the middle of a freeway except to avoid debris in the shoulder that makes the shoulder unsafe to ride a bicycle, and as I posted yesterday on this story, when you ride on a major highway at night you need to have really bright lights that cover a large area, and reflectors are not sufficient on high-speed highways. The TX legal minimum is visible in low-beams at a distance of 300 feet, at 60 MPH (88 fps) it normally takes a car about 250 feet to stop, leaving 50 feet to identify and react to needing to stop or about a half a second. The problem is identifying a red light as an immobile or slow-moving object that needs to be avoided takes about 3 seconds at night which uses up 264 feet of that 300 leaving a minus 200 feet of clearance after stopping. The TX 300 foot visibility standard works for urban environments where travel speeds are more in the 30-35 MPH range. I’ll put a paragraph at the bottom of my blog post that will expound upon this issue.

From NYC infrastructure news that NYPD is writing tickets for minor technical violations while ignoring the riders everyone is complaining about that are actually dangerous to themselves and pedestrians. NYPD Bicyclist Crackdown Hits Wrong Target, Critics Say They ticket the guys riding without helmets (not illegal for adults), they ticket people riding during the day without reflectors (not illegal during daylight hours), they ticket people riding bicycles turning right on red, but they ignore drivers turning right on red, they ignore people riding on the siedwalks, they ignore people riding the wrong way on the street… in other words they go after the easy to catch people and ignore the ones that are being a danger to the public.

Reflectors and taillights, what is “enough” and what should the legal minimums be? As long-time readers know I used to build and sell a modified LED car taillight called the “Honkin’ Huge Taillighttm” until the light I started from went out of production. This light had 18 LEDs in an elliptical array that put out light over a broad area and was as legally bright as a motor vehicle taillight could be without brakes being applied, and there was a high-power setting I could have used that was as bright as legally permitted for brake lights. I did sell one light that used the high-power option, but the burn time at that setting was too low for my tastes for a system that only had room for a 1.3Ah SLA battery. If I had used this light with a separate battery with a larger capacity for a longer burn time I might have been more amenable to using the high-power setting, bt I didn’t have that option. Now, as I posted in the paragraph about the Canadian rider getting hit from behind what is legal may not be what is safe. And a major portion of the problem is that bike lights and reflectors are regulated at the federal level but enforced at the state and (mostly) local level, and that enforcement varies from state to state. In TX you need a reflector that can be seen at 300 feet in low-beams, but you are allowed a light that has the same visibility. Some states don’t allow the light, but in the real world will not prosecute if that is all you have (except for LEO that are assholes, unfortunately). There are no states at the time of this posting that have a maximum light output or visibility limit on taillights, so long as there is a reflector that meets the minimum requirement, which opens up the use of bike lights that would be too bright to use as motor vehicle lighting. The problem then becomes how much is “enough” light? One of my early experiments had lights that could be seen for more than 1/4 mile behind me, but were very directional in that if you were outside the beam cast by the taillight you could only see the light about 100 feet away or less, if the LED was not in direct line of sight and you had to depend on the scatter from the optics of the light to be able to see it. But because this light used so little power and you could (literally) stick them anywhere on the bike this was a very popular light. Can’t see the light from the side? Stick another one on the side! I had 12 of these units on various parts of my bike running off a single switched battery with a burn time of about 14 hours with everything running at full power, and about 20 hours with the side markers run at half power to conserve juice. What made this system impractical was the amount of wiring needed to get power to all those sealed units. I literally ran about a pound of copper getting current to all the lights on the bike, plus the weight of the battery and switches. And what did I get? At 1300 feet a driver doing 60 MPH would have just enough time to see and identify my bike as a slow-moving object on the road and come to a stop if there wasn’t enough room to pass safely, or a bare minimum system for riding at night in the country. There are reflectors for big rigs that have that kind of performance, but they aren’t being sold for bicycle mounting yet and you need to be talented to mount one on a bike. Kinda like what I had to do to make the Honkin’ Huge Taillighttm.

And that’s all the news that gave me fits.

Billed @$0.02, Opus