Special gravel coverage

The Monday Roundup: Turn signal projectors, Nepalese disaster response & more

Posted by on June 29th, 2015 at 9:12 am

— This week’s Monday Roundup is brought to you by Spinlister, where you can earn money by listing your bike for rent or choose from local listings to try a new (to you) bike today!

Here are the bike links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Signal projectors: The Cyclee lets you signal without raising your hands by projecting symbols onto your back.

Disaster response: In the aftermath of Nepal’s earthquake, its national mountain bike team discovered that it could “ride to remote mountain communities that vehicles could not reach and use their knowledge of mountain trails to deliver aid and gather information.” So that’s what they’re doing.

GoPro vigilantes: “Reporting people to the police for minor traffic infringements and uploading videos of their faces and number plates for all to gawp at is no way to highlight the dangers or get people on your side,” claims Vice in a post about “rude GoPro vigilante cyclists.” “The only thing it highlights is the petulance of the high horse on which these cyclists ride.”

From my cold dead hands: Despite some of the country’s thickest traffic, 45 percent of Seattle-area residents can’t imagine any scenario (including getting to work faster) that would make them do anything except drive alone.

Infrastructure challenge: A century ago, driving across the country required an ax and shovel; interstate highways fixed that. Bike infrastructure is in a similar state today, a Washington Post innovations writer says, and protected bike lanes are the country’s next great infrastructure challenge.

Bike component history: This infographic makes for a useful reference guide.

Sharrows: In Toronto, they’re apparently the most dangerous kind of bike infrastructure.

Collision fault: According to the same study, people hit by cars while walking had the right of way 67 percent of the time.

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Bike sharing: Property values in a relatively dense part of a bike share station network rise a few percentage points.

Saddle protection: It’s one of the hardest anti-theft measures, but CityLab has advice.

Rock protection: What do you think of this Danish tactic?

Bikes vs. lakes: A Seattle “superyacht” marina is using environmental protection law to sue the city, claiming that a protected bike lane that would remove some of its nearby auto parking might damage Lake Union.

Seeing around corners: Some new Ford models are embedding digital cameras in the front grille to help prevent collisions.

Reclaiming space: “A city where you’re surrounded by hubbub, abandoned to cars — that isn’t a city,” said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, announcing a $30 million campaign to convert seven public squares from auto to foot traffic.

Federal transpo bill: The League of American Bicyclists has an analysis of Congress’s proposed transportation bill, the unfortunately (but aptly) named DRIVE Act.

Vision Zero: “Traffic fatalities are not inevitable,” according to a new resolution by the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsing Vision Zero.

Professional immunity: The New York state senate passed a bill that would exempt many professional drivers from various traffic laws, such as being detained by police after hitting someone with their bus or taxi.

Intersection repair: Intersections such as SE 86th and Glenwood keep looking more beautiful, especially from the sky.

Free time travel: Riding a bike for an hour extends your life by approximately one hour.

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

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  • 9watts June 29, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Seattlites suffering from Stockholm Syndrome… I noticed that bicycling was not among the options presented. This is a problem, as the bicycle is, generally, a far better substitute for the car than any mass transit. The flexibility it offers parallels and in many cases actually exceeds the flexibility that a car promises, but of course one has to have some experience with it to consider it a realistic option.

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  • are June 29, 2015 at 9:46 am

    what the toronto data shows is a small number of injuries or fatalities — about one percent of the total over five years — on not much actual mileage of sharrowed streets. and macleod is focusing on the number of collisions per km, which under the circumstances is a nearly meaningless statistic. 56 km of sharrowed streets out of 3291 km road length total.

    the study cited at footnote 26 of the linked report classified streets as shared or separated, but did not cite “sharrows” or “shared lane markings” as such. so presumably we are including situations in which there is no bike infra at all.

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  • K'Tesh June 29, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Seems like if you want to become a hitman in NYC, all you need to do is become a cab driver, and wait for your mark to pedal near you. That’s pretty F****D Up! I hope the people of NYC wake up, and impeach the senators who voted that one in.

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  • gutterbunnybikes June 29, 2015 at 10:26 am

    There must be something wrong with Toronto then,

    Looking at http://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=28c26c3acc604f2cba87aff0fe7f7b24

    One doesn’t have to look to hard to see that the Greenways are among the safest routes we have in Portland.

    Though it would be nice is PDOT made a map for each year, to see how and if things changed as some of the infrastructure was implemented – just for a real compairson.

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    • gutterbunnybikes June 29, 2015 at 10:34 am

      And at a passing glance, that map I referenced – it looks like downhill travel might be one of the biggest contributors to bicycle incidents as well. Way more collisions by the bridge (Broadway and Hawthorn) on the downhill streets than the uphill. Also appears that on a whole the base of bigger hills collects accidents more than the flat areas.

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    • Nick Falbo June 29, 2015 at 11:17 am

      Of course, it’s not the sharrow, it’s where you use them.

      In Toronto, they’ve been used as a marker of last resort. They are the go-to “facility” that is provided when something else (such as a bike lane) would have been preferred or more appropriate.

      Portland, on the other hand, has set a high-bar for their use and turned them into a de-facto bicycle boulevard marking. Low speeds, low volumes are the norm on our sharrow streets.

      There are plenty of people posting on BikePortland that bemoan the fact that Portland doesn’t use sharrows on busier streets, as is done in Toronto and elsewhere.

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      • Beeblebrox June 29, 2015 at 11:22 am

        One of my friends recently complained about sharrows, saying they don’t do anything to slow down traffic. I said he should think of them as bicycle way-finding devices, whereas the speed bumps and diverters are what is meant to control traffic speed and volume. He said, “oh, that makes sense.”

        We need to be more clear that sharrows don’t really affect driver behavior. They help bicyclists identify a useful bike route, and that’s about all.

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        • soren June 29, 2015 at 1:45 pm

          They help bicyclists identify a useful bike route, and that’s about all.

          They also communicate recommended lane position…something that I think it particularly important on Greenways.

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        • Pete June 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm

          Sharrows were never intended to be wayfinding devices – until Portland started using them that way.

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          • Patrick Barber June 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm

            Sharrows were never intended to indicate lane position, either. But hey, whatever works.

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          • Spiffy June 30, 2015 at 8:25 am

            D. Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists

            except on Clinton… bike over the sharrows and get buzzed by illegally passing traffic…

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        • gutterbunnybikes June 29, 2015 at 3:10 pm

          Now I can’t speak specifically for Toronto, I’m willing to bet that they have the same problem they have here with greenways and sharrows.

          I did a blog post on how to ride on the sharrows/greenways. It’s pretty easy too, the arrows over the bicycle symbol is an implied route, you should be riding your bicycle DIRECTLY over those painted pictures in the middle of the street (on narrower streets) or lane (on wider ones) of the road every

          http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part9/part9c.htm – towards the bottom of the page is the sharrows marker information.

          As I was writing that blog post, I took ride west down Woodward/Clinton, east up Lincoln and then west again on Ankeny then again east up Clinton. It was a Thursday or a Friday mid afternoon my goal was to get pictures of people riding correctly on the sharrows. The only people I saw on a bicycle riding in the proper place in the greenways was where the riders (only a few of them mind you) were riding two abreast talking with each other. Others were merely passing other cyclists, then headed back into the right side of the lane dooring position.

          The people riding bicycles are allowing this kind of automobile behaviour on the greenways. If everyone was riding properly on the greenways, do you think they’d use the greenways as cut throughs? They’re cutting through because you the bicycle rider make their drive faster and less stressful for them than it is on the street they should be driving on. On a greenway – your presence is traffic calming.

          Besides – statistically, the difference in actual improved reduction of incidents between roads with no infrastructure and those with it is roughly (I’m being generous with it) 5%-10% – many studies show infrastructure actually makes things worse – particularly at intersections which in an urban environment is by far the most common place for an injury or fatality to occur – being run over from behind is extremely rare in a city which is what a cycletrack protects you from the most – and while they are good at that, they tend to dramatically increase the number of intersection collisions.

          In the decade of outlined in the map, there were 223 (average 23 a year) serious bicycle related injuries and fatalities in Portland. And note, the CDC stats state that roughly 1/3 of bicycle injury cases are solo collisions with objects – often infrastructure – curbs and pylons etc.

          What does that 10% or less reduction look like when facing the true numbers – might reduce incidents by what 2 a year? – might not even amount to one incident if you assume 1/3 of those injuries were not automobile related. It’s nowhere even close to vision zero – heck let’s double it to a 20% reduction – still not even close.

          Now good infrastructure does attract more riders (and though the actual numbers of incidents might increase – the hope is that the increased number of riders takes over and lowers the rate of incident per rider), and they do lower automobile traffic – absolutely no question on that, which I do support. But don’t think for a second infrastructure is going make a significant improvement in actual injury/fatality incidents (aka safety)- the difference between the best or worst of it barely moves the needle one way or the other – especially when you consider how safe it is to already ride a bicycle in Portland – .

          The Hawthorne bridge counter will top 5 million trips late this week or early next week (since August 8 2012). How does that number compare to the 223 over one decade? Roughly 1.33 million trips over one bridge in Portland a year – compared to 69 (estimated from the decade data) serious injury and fatal incidents over the same time period for the entire city. That’s a rate of 0.00005% of total trips- which is actually way too high of an incident percentage, because even though the Hawthorne bridge is the busiest bicycle path in town, it is still a small percentage of bicycles trips going on throughout the city – probably need to add more zeros between that decimal point and the number 5.

          And yes, I’d love greenway commercial districts. I really think the city missed a huge opportunity with 28th for a small scale working proof of concept of them. Especially since it’s an easy street to take the lane to begin with.

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          • Chris Anderson June 29, 2015 at 7:45 pm

            Infrastructure says Portland is the kind of town that takes cycling seriously, and that impacts driver behavior across town. An important thing about protected infrastructure is that rationally or not, it presents riding a bike as something normal people do.

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            • gutterbunnybikes June 30, 2015 at 8:38 am

              Not nearly as much as normal people riding bicycles does. Road cones and racers aren’t normal people riding bicycles.

              Look at the great European bicycle cities, yes they have infrastructure, but most of their roads are still mixed use – call ’em what you want, but most their streets are, for all intents and purposes – greenways.

              The difference is everyone there knows how to drive and the implications of their decisions to do so, they know where they and the bicycles belong, they start teaching kids in elementary school about road safety and use. The roads are considered a public space.

              I’ve never understood why this country feels the need to reinvent the wheel on this subject, they have upwards of 60 years of education, improvements, and policy that works very well. They’ve done all the hard work, all we really have to do is cut and paste.

              Infrastructure doesn’t do any good until everyone knows what it is and how it is used. The greenway is the perfect example, as are traffic light detectors. This is stuff that most people don’t get, even when it is quite literally right under their nose.

              RIght now for most of N. America, more efforts should be made on education than infrastructure, though I know that will go over like a lead balloon, considering education doesn’t bring in the federal tax dollars to DOT’s like “infrastructure” does, it isn’t sexy enough for the engineers to put on their resume, and it makes for a lousy post card.

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              • Eric June 30, 2015 at 10:21 am

                If necessary, let’s build the education into some infrastructure. How about pop-up (or down?) signs at the red light’s stop line with “did you know?” rules of the road on them. Include the bike travel time on the overhead electronic freeway signs. There’s lots of opportunities to put info in front of waiting drivers, and even spend stimulus money doing it.

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          • Pete June 30, 2015 at 8:33 am

            There is evidence that moving from no bicycle treatments to good roadway infrastructure can indeed reduce 1) auto speeds, 2) ticketed infractions, and 3) total auto-related crashes. When we go to our city council (Santa Clara) with a road diet or bike lane proposal we typically have to work with both our PD and our public works to gather and present this evidence.

            The problems that I see are 1) much bike infrastructure is laid out by planners without much thought/experience as to where it actually positions drivers and riders in relationship to each other, and 2) bicyclists either position themselves where this ‘bad’ infrastructure directs them to, or they’ve never been taught its meaning (as you point out and as evidenced in some comments on sharrows above). Unfortunately, we also know that ‘bad’ infrastructure (like short yellow light timings) can get bicyclists killed.

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            • wsbob June 30, 2015 at 10:16 am

              “…The problems that I see are 1) much bike infrastructure is laid out by planners without much thought/experience as to where it actually positions drivers and riders in relationship to each other, …” Pete

              Been awhile already, but I’ve asked a planner or two out in Beaverton, also the mayor, about whether they ride a bike, and whether they have actually ridden traffic situations in the city that people that do ride have said are particularly problem areas. Answer summarized in short form: ‘No’.

              To devise bike infrastructure, it seems instead that they tend to rely on standardized forumlas and specifications that they can apply by less direct means than actually experiencing in person, the situations they’re directed to make improvements to. Hearing planners and officials say they don’t actually experience first hand, bike involving road infrastructure that may merit adjustment, is well…fill in your own word for that.

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              • Pete June 30, 2015 at 12:47 pm

                Yes, very true, and even some of the ‘standardized’ approaches, like the slowly-being-accepted NACTO guidelines, still don’t address many of the situations I’ve tried to describe here before (like “mixing zones” where roadways widen or add lanes, spitting out bicyclists into the middle of a new lane they should probably stay riding in the middle of for the next block, yet the bike lane instantly appears to the Far Right, convincing motorists that they are suddenly “in their way” – and of course ‘breaking the law’ by being there).

                Recently I worked with a planner in Sunnyvale, CA, who told me his goal (regarding a particular intersection) was to keep the bike lanes a consistent width. I (hopefully) managed to convince him that it was much more important to keep the bicyclist at a consistent relative distance to the right of the drivers, so that they don’t disappear completely from peripheral vision – especially at the popular right turn into the mall across that intersection. Fortunately he listened and kept the new bike lane straight alongside the first travel lane, and I now notice a significant (anecdotal) reduction in right-hooking drivers across that intersection. My point, though, is that I’m not sure where he got into his head that bike lanes must be kept a consistent width (as roadway widths vary) – except that he was keeping the bike lane Far To the Right and hugging the curb, of course. (The placement of the bicycle sensor icon was key here – I also convinced him that its original position corked right-turning drivers and therefore incentivized them to pass bicyclists in that corner, but its new placement allowed all traffic to flow more freely; since the intersection uses video instead of induction sensing for cyclists and pedestrians, the relocation was simply a paint job).

                Incidentally, one of the long-time Beaverton engineers is my good friend and cycling buddy, and has had some positive influence in your city – I’ve also taken him riding in Silicon Valley before… that was eye-opening for him! :).

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      • soren June 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

        Gotta say that I’m thankful for the sharrows PBOT just installed at the base of Terwilliger. I experienced a massive drop in unsafe passing as I make the left onto Terwilliger!

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        • Pete June 29, 2015 at 4:10 pm

          It’s my opinion that sharrows, complemented by “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs, are powerful tools that planners already have in their arsenal, but don’t always know how to use. I’ve seen them used in creative ways, both in proposals and on the streets.

          For example, at the intersection of Stevens Creek and Foothill Boulevard (southbound – left side in photo) in Cupertino, CA, the city has painted them within dashed lines across the misaligned intersection to help prevent bike lane incursions on the far side of the intersection (that’s frequently used by quarry trucks). Google maps just has the ‘before’ image here: https://goo.gl/maps/Fgw2V

          I’ve seen MANY intersections that aren’t wide enough to accommodate a RTOL yet are popular right turns. Lots of these intersections keep the bike lane Far To the Right, so often to the right of right-turning traffic. IMO using sharrows in the right lane in these intersections tells both drivers and bicyclists to merge with each other. (Unfortunately a lot of examples I have are on 40 MPH roads where sharrows aren’t allowed).

          Actually, now that I look at the satellite photo, the right-hand side (northbound) shows the situation I describe. In California, the dashed bike lane markings essentially act as a ‘virtual’ sharrows, in that cyclists proceeding straight are allowed to center themselves in the lane here while motorists hug the curb to turn right. That style of riding/driving, unfortunately, is not well taught (yes, I hint at the DMV discussion here ;).

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  • Alex Reed June 29, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Bike activism bears fruit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, pop. 11m (metro pop. 19m)


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  • Pete June 29, 2015 at 11:33 am

    The cyclee product looks like a good idea, but I hope they – like GoPro should – consider using the wireless ANT protocol and working with Garmin to create an ANT+ profile for it. WiFi and Bluetooth are much heavier to implement (deep stacks) and suck battery life much faster. Yeah, they’re prevalent on smartphones, but what a hassle to carry multiple devices on your bike – each with crappy battery life.

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    • John Lascurettes June 29, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      BLE (or BlueTooth low-energy) does not suck that much energy. Neither from the broadcasting device, nor the phone. The point of BLE is that the devices are expected to be used in close range of each other. Unless your phone or device is out of date, it should be BLE capable.

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      • Pete June 29, 2015 at 2:41 pm

        True, but few bike computers support it, and its certification process is pricey. It also carries an overhead of AES-128 encryption, and isn’t quite as responsive for asynchronous events like “start/stop camera/video”, “signal left turn”, or “light up brake lights”.

        My phone does support it (as well as ANT), but it stays in my pocket for rides because it sucks as a bike computer (and also as a phone but that’s another story). With Cyclee (or GoPro) I’d need to also carry an external device (i.e. phone running app, or wireless remote that has shorter battery life than the cameras in GoPro’s case).

        Just being a picky geek weight weenie, is all… 🙂

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  • Pete June 29, 2015 at 11:36 am

    The Vision Zero link goes to LAB’s funding analysis instead of the Conference of Mayor’s site.

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  • Anne Hawley June 29, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I love the innovative thinking behind the signal projector. There are probably a dozen ways naysayers could find fault with it, but it represents the enormous creativity and problem-solving passion that people bring to the activities they love. I never stop being delighted at how old technologies keep generating surprising innovations.

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  • wsbob June 29, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    “Rock protection: What do you think of this Danish tactic?” bikeportland

    Referring to natural, small boulders laid out on asphalt to create a protected pedestrian walkway; I like that idea quite a lot. Likely more more difficult than a curb, to get trash cleaned away from it. Looks better than a curb. Running into it would be bad news for trucks, buses, cars. Bad news for bikes too.

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    • John Lascurettes June 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      I didn’t read the article, but I hope the stones are fixed or anchored in some way; otherwise, it wouldn’t take long to make a hazard out of a safety feature.

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      • wsbob June 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

        Not affixed, maybe some neo-cavemen could sneak in and erect the boulders into a shelter that wouldn’t be up to city housing construction codes. What a stir that would create.

        Or some wiseguy medieval reenacters might consider that the boulder installation (cause it looks as if it was intended in part as an art installation) offers a slightly imperfect opportunity to roll in their trebuchet, and pitch some big ones up at that big ugly white building fortunately visible only in the far left of the picture. Hear! Hear!…for better architecture and generally better urban aesthetics.

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        • q`Tzal June 29, 2015 at 8:12 pm

          You could anchor bolt them to the surface but that’s a lot of work.

          I had great success with permanently affixing a satellite dish tripod mount to the concrete deck of my apartment patio (grounds keepers kept knocking it out of alignment) with Gorilla Glue.

          I sanded down the steel “feet” of the tripod to clean and rough up the surface, wire brushed the concrete and removed all loose dust before gluing the two together.

          Years later when I moved out the removal of the tripod also brought up little patches of concrete. This was of course weak residential grade concrete not the durable municipal grade concrete we know they use.

          Clean all surfaces and apply a generous contact patch of polyurethane epoxy and that rock ain’t comin’ up with anything less than a heavy duty forklift.

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          • wsbob June 30, 2015 at 9:55 am

            Looking at the pictures of the boulders and guessing at their weight, I’m not sure why John thinks of them being made a hazard. I suppose vandalism was his thought, as in a bunch of yahoos deciding to see if they could move some of the 100 lb rocks to make a barrier across the path.

            That sort of thing is a sad tendency of certain members of the wonderful human race. I’m sure there are ways that could be devised, such as the one you’ve suggested, to make the stones harder to move, but I think doing so would detract from the simple essence of natural stones in an unnatural setting.

            Do the project, and if somebody decides to mess with the stones…good chance nobody would…cross that bridge then. Vandalism in all its forms is bad for the most part. More likely with the boulders, is that someone may tag them; cheap and easy to do. Not the hazard that a barrier could be, but bad.

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            • Tait July 1, 2015 at 9:30 am

              I assume the thought was that in a collision with a car, they would become projectiles.

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    • Pete June 29, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      In Portland, they could be carved into little birds!

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    • q`Tzal June 29, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      My first thought was “Hey! Those look like a challenging ‘single track’ trail for precice technical riding on top of the rocks.”

      Certainly it is too irregular for fast wheeled travel on a bike or skateboards but little kids jumping from rock to rock or something like a Surly Moonlander slowly inching along the line of rocks would not be unexpected.

      What would be cool is seeing a MTB unicycle ride a line of rocks like that.

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  • Champs June 29, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    I have doubts about the Cyclee as a legal device.

    ORS 816.010 gets into SAE standards that I won’t pay $72 to read, but I suspect that there may be requirements about signal height and distance. Surely a few motorcycles would use a single “lamp” for turn signals if it were legal.

    ORS 816.120 demands the kind of brightness I don’t really see in most lights.

    ORS 377.720 forbids any sign that “[i]nterferes with, imitates or resembles any traffic control sign or device, or attempts or appears to attempt to direct the movement of traffic.” I don’t think that STOP signal is even remotely legal.

    Now if someone wants to juice up a lighting system with turn signals, “brake” lights, etc. then I’m down. Dyno power (with bigger capacitors) preferred.

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    • wsbob June 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      Pictures of the Cyclee projected images on the riders’ back are very interesting, particularly the right turn arrow; nice size, design, much bigger dimensions than most tail light lenses…a good thing.

      In actual use, it’s difficult to imagine the light having a high enough level of illumination to be very effective, although; the material or surface the image is projected onto could offer a huge difference in level of visibility. Think of that image being projected onto a square of retro-reflective material instead of what appears to be a dark blue knit shirt or jersey. This may be an idea with some considerable potential.

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  • LC June 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Re: GoPro Vigilantes: From the comments in the linked article: “Vice News calling people self-righteous is like Hitler calling people racist bigots.”

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  • Jacob July 8, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    My favorite quote: “Sharrows are literally pictures of people on bikes, repeatedly being run over by automobiles.”

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