Archive for the 'Others’ Outside: Columnists’ and Guests’ Contributions' Category

Mar 29 2017

A Sweet Victory Ride! by Ric Olsen

Ric Olsen is a frequent contributor to my weekly column at Paddling.com née net, but his interests range broadly beyond canoeing. Here he writes about something close to the heart of every bicyclist — his first bike. ~ Tamia Nelson

The first bike I owned, my Dad got for me from someone where he worked. It had been blue before someone had painted it with spray cans, and sprayed everything all one color. It was a 26 inch fine piece of road transportation. The kick stand was welded to the frame, the spring holding it up in place was weak, so it made a metal clinking sound every time I hit it peddling.

When I got it, in order to get my leg over the top tube, I had to stand the bike on the street while I stood on the curb next to it. At first, getting on was easy, but getting off was tricker. Until I got my balance, and would be able to swing my right leg over the seat with the left peddle all the way at the top. I had to look for a soft landing spot and just slow down and fall over. Sometimes I was able to swing my leg over the seat and to the ground before falling over. If I balanced wrong, I would slow down, and fall to my right side, that never worked out too well. I ripped more pants than Mom really had the tolerance for.

I was not able to sit on the seat. I had to straddle and sit on the top tube, thus making swinging my leg over to the left side of the bike to stop and dismount quite an acomplishment. For longer rides, beyond my street, I tired to put a pillow on the center bar for paddling. My legs were that short and the pillow being too thick, it never worked. So, I had to wait until I grew taller to sit on the seat.

One of the great additions to my bike was a speedometer, the kind that had a small wheel that fit on the front wheel axle. The front wheel, turned a smaller wheel, that turned a cable that attached to the speedometer head on my handle bars. The red speedometer needle went up to 60 miles per hour. I always wanted to see how far I could make that needle go, perhaps even reach the 60 mark. So, one day I rode out to the golf course a couple of miles out of town. The hill was about a mile long and very steep, the perfect place to go to get speed. As I stated coasting down the hill, I soon realized I would not go beyond 40 without pedaling. So, I stood up, and started to peddle as fast as I could. As the needle touched the 60, I hit a small rock in the road that caused me to start shaking the handle bars. With that the whole bike started to shake and wobble. The first thought that went through my head was, “If I fall and rip these pants, Mom will kill me for sure. I am not even suppose to be out here!”

So, I applied the brakes, slowed down, which allowed me to regain control of the bike. When I got to the bottom of the hill, I headed to the shoulder, slowed down, and promptly fell over in the gravel, not being able to get my leg over the seat.

The trip home was a sweet victory ride. I had hit the 60 on my speedometer and lived to tell about it. Now if only I could learn to get off my bike without falling over. Maybe some day.

 


Further Reading

 

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Nov 16 2015

Lighting Up Porto Alegre Nights: Itati Água Mineral Shows the Way
by Marcos Netto, TNO Southern Hemisphere Correspondent

To make a long story short, Itati Água Mineral planned to sponsor the PedAlegre Cycling Club, but because the club meets for evening cycling, they wear reflective vests. This is good for safety, but not so good for a sponsor wishing to display their support with a logo on the club’s jersey. So I looked for a way to stamp our brand in reflective material on a jersey, and after a year of research and testing, we finally did it!

Reflect on the PedAlegre Cycling Club Lighting Up the Night, Photo by Mônica CruzPhoto Copyright © 2015 Mônica Cruz

Our new high-tech jerseys are made of an environmentally friendly fabric derived from recycled PET bottles, and they sport reflective Itati logos and other patches to make cyclists more visible to motorists.

The first 100 jerseys sold out in three days to members of the PedAlegre Cycling Club. Now Itati lights up the evenings in Porto Alegre, and the jersey is such an eye-catching success that other area cyclists want one, too. So we’ve placed an order for more. This just goes to show that being bright is right, and Itati Água Mineral leads the way.

Juarez PereiraPhoto Copyright © 2015 Juarez Pereira


Further Reading

 

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Sep 06 2014

Sport and Business Join Forces to Work Toward a Better World

If you’re a regular visitor to TNO, you probably remember Paralympian João Corrêa‘s inspiring ride in the Ultramarathon Challenge, under the auspices of Team Itati-Stem-Rotary. Marcos Netto, our Southern Hemisphere Correspondent, told João’s story, and it was an extraordinary one. But it’s not over. In fact, it’s fair to say we’ve only seen the first chapter. Earlier this summer, Marcos, João, and Stem-Itati’s Guilherme Nunnemkamp were invited to give a presentation to one of Brazil’s biggest corporate management conferences, the Programa Gaúcho da Qualidade e Produtividade (PGQP) 15th International Congress of Management. PGQP is a Porto Alegra-based non-profit organization that works to enhance corporate productivity by improving the quality of management practices.

Are you asking yourself why an assembly of top business managers would be eager to hear the story of a Paralympian handcyclist? If so, Marcos can tell you:

The Congress of Management was interested in João Corrêa's success in the Ultramarathon Challenge because it was achieved by implementing each of the PGQP's "Eight Criteria." It was also the first time that the full array of quality management tools was employed in helping a Paralympic athlete achieve a seemingly unattainable goal. Such tools are commonly used in the corporate environment when searching for excellence, but they are most uncommon in the world of sport.

As representatives of the Ultramarathon’s sponsors, Marcos Netto (a director of Itati Água Mineral Natural) and Guilherme Nunnemkamp of Stem International told the audience of business managers how their two companies had joined forces with Rotary International District 4670 and Rotary of Canoas  to provide João Corrêa with the resources and training he needed to become the first person to cycle a handbike for 200 kilometers in less than 12 hours.

And they brought a larger message to their audience, too, one that accorded well with the objectives of the Congress, as stated on its website:

We’re living during a time of great social change. People expect that the world of the future will be more just, with wider access to education, affordable health care, public transport, and efficient public services — a future, in short, that will offer more opportunities for everyone. This is the challenge facing our national leaders. But it is also our challenge.

Does this sound like an impossible dream? Well, making the impossible possible was what the Ultramarathon Challenge was all about. And if management tools can be employed to help a man win a race against the clock, why shouldn’t they also be used to make the lives of all of us a bit better? It’s certainly a goal worth pursuing, and João, Marcos, and Guilherme have shown us how this can be done.


 

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Jul 22 2014

Why Smart Cyclists Go With the Flow
by Marcos Netto, TNO Southern Hemisphere Correspondent

A recent piece by Marcos Netto, TNO‘s Southern Hemisphere Correspondent, mentioned an article on cycling safety that he’d written for the Itati corporate blog. (Marcos is a director of Itati, a Brazilian mineral water company.) It’s a good article on an important subject, but unfortunately for North American and British readers, the blog is in Portuguese, and the Google translation leaves much to be desired.

We figured we could do a better job than Google did, and with Marcos’ invaluable assistance, we have. Here’s the result:

 

I see a lot of cyclists who ride against the flow of traffic — in the States they’re often called “salmon cyclists” — and when I ask them why they do what they do, they often say they feel safer when they can observe cars coming at them. This, they claim, makes it easier for them to avoid collisions. And these are collisions from which the cyclist always comes out second-best.

It’s a common sense argument, I suppose, but like a lot of common sense arguments, it’s wrong. Dead wrong. And to make matters worse, going against the flow is also inefficient. So let’s take a look at the case for going with the flow. To begin with …

Riding With Traffic is Faster.  Cyclists who go with the flow slow down, swerve, and stop less often. That means they maintain a higher average speed and arrive at their destinations more quickly. If you’re just riding to ride, this probably wouldn’t matter. But if you’re riding to go somewhere — to a job or an appointment, say — it does.

And that’s not all.

Riding With Traffic is Also Safer.  If you go with the flow, you’re part of the traffic, not an obstacle that traffic has to detour around. According to John Forester, a trained engineer whose book Effective Cycling (MIT Press, 1993) became the bible of the Vehicular Cycling movement, cyclists riding with traffic are about five times less likely to be struck by cars than riders who go against the flow. And while some of Forester’s conclusions have been challenged in recent years, this one has stood the test of time. According to Bruce Mackey, Nevada (US) State Education Officer for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety, 25 percent of accidents involving cyclists in the United States can be attributed to the cyclists’ decision to ride against the flow of traffic.

And why is this? One reason is obvious:

Riding Against Traffic Gives Cyclists and Drivers Less Time to React.  Rear-end collisions — collisions attributable to a motor vehicle striking a cyclist from behind — make up less than four percent of total collisions, yet cyclists who ride against the flow of traffic often explain their actions by citing a fear of being hit from behind. But let’s look at the realities. It requires time for both cyclists and motorists to recognize that a collision is imminent and take appropriate action. Wrong-way cycling robs both cyclist and driver of critical seconds. If a cyclist traveling at 12 mph approaches a car head-on when the car is traveling at 36 mph, cyclist and car are closing at a combined speed of 48 mph. This doesn’t give either party much time to react to an impending collision. On the other hand, if the cyclist is moving with traffic, the car closes the gap at only 24 mph — half the closing speed in the previous scenario, when the cyclist was going against the flow. This gives the motorist twice as much time to brake or steer around the cyclist. And those seconds can make all the difference.

The bottom line? Going with the flow improves your chances of getting to your destination in one piece. And you can improve the odds even more by maintaining good situational awareness. This means using a mirror and keeping your ears open.

OK. So far, so good. But suppose the worst happens, and a car hits you? Well, you’re still better off going with the flow, because, all other things being equal, …

Head-On Collisions Are Worse Than Being Rear-Ended.  This is physics, pure and simple, and it follows from the analysis in the previous paragraph. Closing speed determines the energy of collision. And that energy increases as the square of velocity. So in the unhappy event of a collision between a car and a cyclist, anything that reduces the closing speed at impact is good. In our earlier example, the wrong-way cyclist approached the car at 48 mph, whereas the car closed with the cyclist who elected to go with the flow at only 24 mph. If a collision had been inevitable, the wrong-way cyclist would have been subject to much higher forces than his go-with-the-flow counterpart. This is not good news for the wrong-way guy.

Nor is he (or she) any better off when turning.

Riding With Traffic Lessens Risks in Turns.  One of the most common causes of collisions is the motorist who makes an abrupt crossing turn in front of a cyclist, and here, too, the wrong-way cyclist has less time to react. Of course, it’s better if the motorist sees the cyclist, slows, and then turns behind her. And this is more likely if the cyclist is in the lane, going with the flow of traffic. (Forester recommends “taking the lane” as a matter of routine, arguing that this improves the chances that the cyclist will be seen. It’s not bad advice, though the strategy isn’t foolproof. If a driver’s eyes are on his smartphone, for instance, it doesn’t matter where the cyclist is. She’ll be invisible.)

“Invisible” cyclists are also at risk in intersections, since …

Motorists Can’t See Cyclists Who Aren’t Where They’re Looking.  Now this is common sense. And it’s important, because a high proportion of car-bicycle collisions happen at intersections. When motorists approach an intersection they scan the road in the direction of oncoming traffic. They don’t expect cars to travel the wrong way in a lane, so they don’t look there. Take a freeway entrance ramp, for instance: When a Brazilian or US motorist merges with the high-speed traffic, she looks to the left for a gap in the line of oncoming cars, not to the right. Much the same thing happens at intersections. A driver preparing to enter an intersection looks left to see if the near lane is clear. Then she looks right, to see what’s coming in the far lane. She doesn’t expect to see cars going the wrong way in either lane, so she doesn’t look for them. And that means she won’t spot a wrong-way cyclist, either.

Of course, there are all sorts of intersections, and these include …

Driveways and the Entrances to (and Exits From) Parking Lots and Garages.  Here, too, motorists look only in the direction they expect oncoming traffic. The wrong-way cyclist is invisible, and any last-minute attempt on her part to take refuge on the sidewalk is likely to be frustrated by parked cars.

And while we’re on the subject of parked cars, …

Drivers Don’t Look for Wrong-Way Cyclists When They Leave Their Cars, Either.  Many motorists don’t bother looking in the side mirror before they open their car doors, but almost no motorist checks for wrong-way cyclists who might be coming toward him. The result is likely to be painful for both parties, but the cyclist will probably get the worst of it.

Speaking of getting the worst of it… So far the cyclist has born the brunt of any collision, but when a cyclist collides with a pedestrian, both parties are likely to be injured, and …

Pedestrians Don’t Expect Wrong-Way Cyclists.  Walkers, like motorists, look in the direction from which they expect danger to come. They aren’t likely to spot a wrong-way cyclist — until it’s too late, that is.

 

This is a lot to take in, I know. But it can be summarized in one sentence: Cyclists who want to minimize their risk of collision are well advised to …

Behave as if They Belong on the Road.  While there are no guarantees, a cyclist’s chances of getting through the day without mishap can’t help but be improved by being seen — and by being seen to behave in a predictable way. Such “good manners” have another benefit, too. For all the reasons outlined above, the wrong-way cyclist’s day is a series of narrowly averted disasters. His journey from Point A to Point B is punctuated by a succession of panic stops and sudden swerves. These slow him down. And that doesn’t help him get where he’s going, on time and unruffled. When all is said and done, therefore, going against the flow is tiring, difficult, and dangerous. Just ask a salmon.

Of course, salmon don’t have any choice in the matter. But you do. You’re smarter than a fish, aren’t you? Sure you are! So make it a habit to go with the flow.

A Hard LessonDefinitely the Wrong Way to Start Your Day


 

Sources and Further Reading

 

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Jul 12 2014

Wouldn’t It be Wonderful? A Cleaner, Healthier, Safer World —
TNO Southern Hemisphere Correspondent Marcos Netto Makes the Case for Bicycles

You don’t often hear the phrase “Renaissance man” these days, but it’s a pretty fair description of Marcos Netto, TNO‘s Southern Hemisphere Correspondent. His is an enviable CV: corporate executive — he’s a director of Itati, a Brazilian mineral water company — linguist, professional photographer, and Rotarian. But Marcos is also an avid cyclist who regularly saddles up to commute to work. In fact, he’s become a sort of evangelist for cycling, never missing a chance to draw attention to the bicycle’s role in reducing urban pollution, easing traffic congestion, and promoting public health.

Here’s an example: Not long ago, Marcos was asked to take part in a television program on cycling. I could try to summarize what he had to say, but it’s Marcos’ story, so why not let him tell it in his own words?

I was invited by TV Unisinos for a live interview on the Conexão Unisinos 12 O’Clock News to discuss the topic “Bicycling for a Less Polluted World.” The other guest was Professor Felipe Brum de Brito Sousa. Both of us are “regular people” who use bicycles in our everyday lives.

We had a wide-ranging conversation. Felipe and I described how we’d started cycling, talked about the bike tours we’ve taken, and discussed the difficulties we’ve had to overcome in bike commuting. We also suggested steps that city officials could take in order to encourage cycling in the community — incentives they could offer to persuade more people to choose this environmentally friendly form of transportation.

A case in point: Eight-hundred-year-old Paris, France. It has a historical monument on almost every street corner, but it also does a lot to promote cycling, without moving mountains in the process. The result? One of Europe’s largest and oldest cities is now one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, and this was done with very few alterations to the urban landscape. It’s a good example for other city administrators around the world.

The program also highlighted the danger to other riders posed by scofflaw cyclists, particularly those who ride against the flow of traffic on busy streets — the so-called “salmon cyclists.” Many of these wrong-way riders think they’re safer because they can see cars coming toward them. But the truth of the matter is very different, and there’s research to back it up: Cyclists who go with the flow are less likely to be hit by cars. I’ve written about this on Itati’s blog, in a post entitled “Pedalar na contramão: muito mais perigoso!” That’s “Salmon Cycling is Dangerous!” in English. (You can find a “Google English” translation of my article here.)

And wrong-way cyclists aren’t just putting themselves at risk. They endanger other cyclists, too. I used to leave for work at 5:00 a.m., but after two close calls with salmon cyclists, both of whom were wearing dark clothing and riding bikes without lights and reflectors, I decided to limit my commutes to the daylight hours. I didn’t want to risk a head-on collision with an invisible cyclist. I no longer take early morning solo rides around town for the same reason.

The bottom line? Making cycling safer isn’t a job for city governments alone. We cyclists have to do our part, too. And putting a stop to wrong-way riding is a good first step.

 

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Mar 22 2014

Can’t Kick(stand)? Ric Ashcraft Finds a Third Way

You wouldn’t think that kickstands and bicycle helmets had much in common, would you? But they do. Each divides the cycling community into two warring tribes. You have helmet-wearers on the one hand (I belong to this tribe) and helmet-spurners on the other. And woe betide anyone who suggests that there might ever be room for amiable disagreement. Members of each tribe are True Believers, convinced that theirs is the sole path of virtue. If law and custom permitted, both tribes would happily revive the auto-da-fé, if only to ensure the purity of the faith and enforce the ways of righteousness.

Likewise with kickstands. Some cyclists love ’em. Others loathe ’em. And never the twain shall meet. I’m with the “love ’em” brigade on this one, though it has to be said that my love is tinged with a certain bittersweet regret. Kickstands are heavy, awkward appendages, and — this is a familiar lover’s complaint — they often let you down. They can also hurt you, or at least hurt your bike, especially when the bike lacks a kickstand plate, a simple amenity that many manufacturers (including Surly, maker of the Long Haul Trucker) think it beneath their dignity to provide.

It’s not a very attractive picture, is it? Two warring tribes, locked in eternal conflict. Yet there is hope of compromise. Ric Ashcraft read my article lamenting the lack of a kickstand plate on the Long Haul Trucker. He felt my pain, too. But he did more than gnash his teeth in frustration. He found an answer to the problem. And here it is, in his own words:

I enjoyed your article on kickstand plates. I too have a Surly Long Haul Trucker, a beautiful olive green one. My two touring buddies both have single-leg kickstands. I considered adding one, and tried to decide whether I liked the two-legged Pletscher stand. Then I read Surly's warning about frame damage.

My final decision? I did not buy any kickstand. I found a velcro strap in my junk box and use that as my "kickstand" (quotes are necessary here). To use the velcro strap as a "kickstand," wrap it around the down tube and around the front tire and rim. This keeps the front wheel from steering left and right, and keeps the bike from rolling forward or backward. This is really helpful when leaning it against a single post. With a single post, the bike wants to steer its front wheel, then fall down. That's not a problem with a velcro strap "kickstand." Of course, the strap can't hold the bike upright by itself, you still have to lean it against something. I have nearly always found something to lean it against.

Basically, my desire for a kickstand was to hold the bike upright while loading everything into the panniers after camping. Without the velcro strap, even if the bike is leaned against a picnic table, if you load one front pannier, the front wheel will steer left or right, then your bike will fall down. The velcro strap stops that, and you can load your bike with no problem.

On rest stops, if there is nothing to lean it against, I just lay the bike on its side. I don't see that as a problem. But if I had to load the panniers like that, that would be annoying.

I admit that I have not convinced anyone to start using a velcro strap, but it works well for me. It's much cheaper and lighter than any real kickstand, and no frame damage!

Ric’s solution to the problem presented by Surly’s refusal to fit a kickstand plate is simple and good and cheap, and to my mind there’s no higher praise. Could this be the end of an interminable internecine conflict? Could the discovery of a viable Third Way forever reconcile kickstand-lovers and kickstand-haters? We shall see. Ric has shown us the path to peaceful coexistence. It’s up to us to follow it.


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