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Traffic to the beach was crazy backed up late this morning, with rumors flying around Twitter that a cyclist was killed. When I reached the Fisher Island ferry terminal, there was a lane blocked, and two mangled bikes down just at the spot where traffic for the terminal cuts through the bike lane. A little way up, a lightly mangled silver Mazda 3 sat, the position of its wheels marked by Miami Beach police.
While I don’t yet have confirmation about whether the accident was fatal, it’s not difficult to reconstruct what happened. A jerk motorist heading for the ferry changed lanes to turn, cutting through the bike lane without looking. Maybe we need to rethink having those lane markers suddenly turn dashed there. But what we really need to do is not convict this driver of negligence or reckless driving or something. If there’s a fatality here, the crime is simple vehicular manslaughter. And until we start to loudly and consistently enforce the law this way, cyclists will continue to be an afterthought in the minds of drivers. A couple more photos after the jump.
Update: Both the cyclists survived, tho one is in critical condition.
So, that worked out, at least for the moment. The kit of course tells you to screw into a ceiling stud. But it turns out that finding a ceiling stud, at least in my old Miami Beach apartment, is not as easy as advertised. Even the stud finder I borrowed (which worked great on the wall) gave all sorts of crazy readings, and was just generally unreliable. After some hunting around, I decided that toggle bolts might be worth a shot.
They work! You need to pre-drill big-ass (3/8”) holes, and be careful not to screw up the installation (i.e. screwing with the drill in counter-clockwise mode, which will basically ruin one of your toggle bolts in about .5 seconds), but this setup has 4 bolts holding a 30 lb. bike, and seems to be pretty effective.
I am starting to wonder just how stupid the people at the Florida Department of Transportation are. They recently added bike lanes on Coral Way, but the lanes end at every block. I have seen the drivers on Coral way, and believe me when I say that people are goign to DIE because of this.
The other day I asked if anyone could give me a single reason not to buy a motorcycle. See, my parents return to Miami in a couple of weeks to re-claim the car I’ve been sporadically using for the past half year. When this happened last year, I decided to try living with just a bicycle. And while that experiment worked out pretty well, I’m not just exactly 100% sure I want to go through again just quite yet.
But a car is just such a hassle, right? I used to be able to drive around with a copy of Autotrader and $3,000 for a day and end up with, usually, a perfectly impressive old BMW that’d last me 5 years or so (usually until some asshole hit me and destroyed it, which actually is preferable to the protracted and heartbreaking death my 1988 528e died), but it appears that that is no longer the way of the world. So the options are
- Bite the bullet, and get, maybe, a used Mini Cooper, which seem to be running $8,000 for a 2002 with maybe 80,000 miles.
- Do the bike thing again, and pocket the cash.
- OR, right, a motorcycle is an interesting compromise when you look at it this way, no?
Well, people did have some noteworthy downsides to the motorcycle. “You will die,” more then one person said. “In Miami there is a rainy season when it rains every day.” And thirdly, a motorcycle does not have a trunk.
You can see though how coming off a 6-month bicycle existence colors these considerations. E.g., I had no problem grocery shopping. But you have to give some consideration to the danger. Motorcycles account for 3% of vehicles registered in the US, but 13% of all vehicle fatalities. Motorcyclists are about 35 times more likely to die per mile driven then someone in a car. And here the comparison to a bicycle breaks down, because while cycling home late at night in the rain after a few beers turns out to be something that just does not happen, you can certainly picture that set of circumstances with a motorcycle. And, um, alcohol consumption correlates with a sharply increased risk of death, and (in I guess the unlikely event of a lack of death) with increased severity of injury. Also, anecdotally, Miami drivers are the worst in the entire universe, and even people who would and/or do drive motorcycles in other places are wary of doing it here.
All of which is some sobering stuff! But the response that I have for you is that I’m not signing up for a lifetime of 2-wheeled exclusivity. I’m looking for a way to get around for 6 months, and I’m still going to be on the bicycle more often than not, and I’m going to wear my helmet. Like your pal Dan Savage says, people take all kinds of risks to have different experiences, and why not live a little? (Plus, by this logic we should all be riding the bus — the difference between how safe a car is and how safe a motorcycle is is much smaller then the same difference between a car and the bus.) Think of the fun! And think of the money — not just from the initial purchase, but the laughably small amounts you’d be spending at the gas station. Also: you can park anywhere. And is there not the intangible yet undeniable prospect of being a total and complete badass?
Still, in some ways it’s the worst of both worlds. An examination of ebay motors suggests that while a decent 2-wheeled vehicle is cheaper then a 4-wheeled one, it’s not quite the order-of-magnitude difference you’ve been led to believe. Also while the mpg is drastically better, it again is not quite the difference between night and day: motorcycles get I hear 40-50 mpg highway, while the Mini gets 34. And the rain is a real thing — you don’t care if you get wet on a bike because you’re going to be sweaty anyway so you have to make provisions to change/shower or whatever. But get caught in the rain on a motorcycle, and you’re just plain soaked. Then again, that would be part of the aforementioned experiential thing, right? We are not made of sugar, and we do not melt, and whatever does not kill us makes us stronger. At least, until it really does kill us.
I am not really a huge fan of Trek bicycles or anything, but once a year when the new models come out, the pictures of their ‘Urban’ line are fun to look at. Update: If you did not enjoy those, then you will also not enjoy the new Specialized Globe bikes (they finally got rid of the stupid city-specific Langsters and made some bikes that will make fixie aficionados drool).
Blackburn Neuro bicycle computer instruction manuals. I bought one of these last year after my cheapo cateye let me down for the last time. Not a bad product. Blackburn doesn’t include a printed manual in the box, which wouldn’t be so bad, except that the PDF’s aren’t available on their website. I just came across the CD, so I’m uploading them here in expectation of loosing it sometime in the future, and for the benefit of those who have already lost theirs (and hopefully will to find their way here by the miracles of web search).
- I has a hankering for a fixie … get one here, look for an ’08 Madison, or build one out of an old bike?
- i am neurotic the blog.
- Caramelized bacon
- Model Eniko Mihalik photographed as though she was 10, 20, 30, all the way through 60.
- Your Next Boyfriend: The 100 Qualities He Should Possess
- I can’t understand a word this blog is talking about, but if you scroll down the sidebar, eventually you come to a section called “Mostly harmless intelligentsia,” which seems to link to a lot of interesting things.
- John Hodgman sings ‘Tonight You Belong to Me’ with Jonathan Coulton and the Long Winters.
Excercise? Then you of course know the importance of stretching. But guess what?: Everything you know about stretching is wrong.
A recent car accident took out my car, and I’ve been using my parents car, as they were out of the country. They returned on Wednesday, but I’d decided to try living completely without a car. I’ve been commuting mostly by bike for about a year anyway, and this seems like the next step. It’s an ideal time of year to try it. I’ve figured out a lot of the practicalities of getting around on a bike, such as dealing with breakdowns (knock on wood) and hauling moderate loads.
But of course there’s a big difference between getting around mostly on a bike and relying on it as one’s sole transportation. There are rainy days, large packages, and days when you just don’t wanna. But part of the joy of riding is overcoming obstacles, so I’m looking forward to dealing with all of that. Let’s try it for a few months and see how it goes.
I was saving this one. OK, going 80 miles on a bike every day means you get to eat a lot of food. In a weird way, my trip (first two slide shows here and here) ended up consisted of biking, sleeping, and eating. There was plenty of shitty fast food, and an inordinate amount of convenience-store junk food (often a good source of easily-digestible carbs, so actually healthy in this context), but at least once a day something semi-miraculous landed in front of me, and as much as anything, the food made the trip worth it. I took photos of most of these restaurants, but in the end I decided to leave the slideshow be just of food. Here’s one that I couldn’t resist sharing, though. Click it to see the food:
By the way, Singleton’s is actually more legit then it looks in this photo. There’s a fishing boat moored out back, and inside it reeks of fish in a slightly unpleasant way. You get acclimated, but I’m just saying. Sometimes the first-off-the-boat touristy place is actually the real deal.
Friday I was riding my bike South down Pine Tree Drive after the rain had stopped. I’m dodging puddles, mud, and slippery wet grates, and so I’m farther from the right curb then I normally would be, but no worries — there are two lanes going in every direction, and the namesake pines give the road a relaxed sort of mood. Suddenly comes honking from behind me. Incredulous, I turn around, flip off some asshole in a silver sports/luxury car, and move farther over into the lane, just to make it perfectly clear that I have a right to be where I am and he needs to back off or get over and pass.
Dude chooses the latter, then merges over and proceeds to mess with me by braking in front of me, fist slowly and then when that doesn’t particularly faze me, sharply. I move over to pass him on the left (the rest of the cars have passed now) he moves over too, cutting me off. I then stay on the left side of the left lane. There’s a big median with those big pine trees, and now I’m not really letting his shenanigans get to me he, unwilling to actually run me off the road, speeds off.
As it happens the red light up ahead is a long one, and I pass him again, zipping by his driver’s side window and shooting him a dirty look. I run the red light but now I’m in a bit of a dilemma, with no good idea of what this guy is going to do when he gets a second chance to pass me. I move over to the sidewalk for the next block. Sure enough, he slows on passing me.
“That’s more like it,” yells he.
“You’re a real tough guy against a bike, asshole,” yell I back at him.
And he zips off. Good times. At Washington Avenue I cross a bridge that’s under construction and closed to cars, and I’m almost home, crossing another intersection when a car standing at the red light on the cross street pulls a few feet out into the pedestrian cross walks and honks a few times. I’m light wtf, but then I look up, and it’s the same dude, who I guess had to go the long way, except now he’s suddenly my buddy, smiling and giving me a thumbs up. I give him a quick nod and I’m gone. Whatev’s.