Monday 16 January 2012

Keep your wits about you!

Some cyclists in London are starting a campaign for safer roads. They are frustrated by their Mayor, Boris Johnson, who thinks that one just needs “to keep your wits about you” to be able to use the road system safely by bike.

Here is some info about some new initiatives that are happening in New York:

And here is a comparison of New York and London cycling that I think you will agree is very safe so long as you keep your wits about you.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Vienna hosts Velo-city 2013.

Vienna will host Velo City the premier international cycling planning conference. I presume this is so that delegates can study first hand how crap road design can be.

Here we are 500 meters form home this morning:

Note that the lights turn green for pedestrians cars and cycles at the same time. So right turning cars have to cross the pedestrian crossing while looking over their shoulder for bikes going straight coming down the bike lane. This is really hard in a car an so it does not happen and bikes get right hooked all the time.

Here we are after another 500m. Here cars travel from a 50kmph 3 lane one way road and have the same issue if they want to turn right but this time with a tram too.

If humans are to be allowed to drive cars then you can not expect them to get this right all the time so the cyclist or pedestrian is going to have to yield to the turning car. Some times car drivers do slow down (but not very often) and they do look properly but this of course only results in a horn from behind meaning that their attention is taken away from the important task that they are trying to do to the wanker behind them that needs to get to the next queue of traffic so they can wait there 2 seconds longer.

IMHO there is so much wrong in the human factor engineering of Vienna's roads. I do not have super computers to model traffic flow and light sequences or accurate traffic volume data and CAD drawings of roads so I do not pretend to be an expert. My skill set is more a Cycling version of Clarkson rant, so this will probably be the first in a series of posts as I download my anger to the Internet. I would love to offer constructive dialog about how cycling infrastructure could be improved but others do this much better than me.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

The Batmobile

Work in the Bat Cave (thanks for the re-branding guys) is progressing but very very slowly. I need to get the main room re-pointed and then build a wall, a workbench, fit lights and sockets and build some stairs before I concentrate on building a shell to go around this trike.

It is a KMX Venom with a back rack and some home made wheel covers. I have been riding this around a bit (~200km) and it is a lot of fun. It has more rolling resistance than a bike but less aerodynamic drag so it works out to be about the same speed as fast normal bike. I can average about 30 kmph for about 5km and have a top speed of about 40kmph on the flat. This is my benchmark to beat once I have built the shell. There is a really good bike speed calculator here that shows how fast velomobiles should be.

The aim to to make something comparable to the Sinner Mango velomobile. It is a bit of a silly project but it is also very interesting technically. I am doing it the easy way using the trike as a bike and making a shell to go around it so it means that I have a working bike (which I know little about) and can not go too far wrong (I hope). However the proper developed velomobiles have suspension, structural body, central steering stick etc... but this project should cost under half the costs of a new one, and we will see how it turns out.

The plan is to use some pink house insulation foam to shape up a male plug. I will then put a layer of glass on it for a bit of surface stiffness and then filler and paint. I can then vacuum some carbon and foam sandwich laminate on to the plug. I will then cut the carbon shell in half with a knife and should be able to pop off the two halves off. I hope this method will work well and mean I do not have to mess around making proper female molds which is very expensive and time consuming. Maybe I can reuse the male mold again but I suspect this is realistically a one off project. Any advice and tricks from you composite gurus out there is very welcome.