Author Archives: Dru Satori

Non-Car in a COVID-19 World

There has been a lot of discussion as to what is ‘safe’ in terms of outdoor exercise and transportation over the last few weeks with the implied threat of COVID-19 infections.

Unfortunately, early on in the onslaught of information, there was a lot of poorly done ‘research’ into the subject of how the disease was being spread, and people with little grounding in infectious diseases and epidemiology jumped into the fray adding noise to the signal. The result is that there remains a lot of misunderstanding about the risks of riding, running and walking outdoors during this time.

Now we are finally beginning to get some fairly balanced information from multiple sources that indicate a very different reality. One that is telling us that we need to stay active both for our health, and for our ability to combat the virus if/when we are infected. What we are also discovering is that running, walking and cycling, while practicing social distancing are good options, for both transportation and fitness.

Why you’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from runners or cyclists (Vox.com)

One of the aspects of all of this that is going to be a challenge as we reopen the world is a new dynamic. Public transportation, like busses and heavy rail are going to problematic. Ride sharing solutions like Uber and Lyft are also facing harsh new realities. Individual personal light transportation platforms are poised for a huge surge. That means bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, e-skateboard, and many other options are suddenly rising to the forefront of both fitness and transportation worlds.

To such a degree, that the World Health Organization has made statements directly addressing this with an announcement that cycling is encouraged, both as transport and as a way of staying healthy during the global crisis.

In a statement the organisation said: “While cities around the world are introducing a broad range of measures to limit physical contacts to prevent and slow down the COVID-19 pandemic, many people might still have a need to move around cities to reach their workplaces when possible, meet essential daily needs or provide assistance to vulnerable people”

“Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking: this provides physical distancing while helping to meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity, which may be more difficult due to increased teleworking, and limited access to sport and other recreational activities.”

Most of the United States infrastructure is ill equipped to handle this new reality, with few non-car transportation, non-public transit corridors. It will be important for cities and communities to quickly embrace this new reality, with short and long term plans to deal with the slow return of cars to the roadways mixed in with the broad reemergence of other non-car transpotation models.

Gravel Tires vs Road Tires?

With the cooler temps, and more rides in the dark, many of area riders have switched to gravel bikes and gravel tires deal with conditions. What is the impact on the speeds and effort levels of those tires. Well, back in June, GCN did a really good video comparing the two tires on the same bike…

https://youtu.be/TCrL7yHPMqo

Some really good information in there.

Wednesday W’Intervals are go

Tonight’s Interval session is a go. Weather looks to be holding off until tomorrow, and the temps should be a bit warmer than the last couple of weeks. This week will be the 8 interval session, but we will add the Morris Rd Sprint as a 9th optional interval. No route change is needed, we just have not been sprinting that one.

Next week we will extend to a 3rd lap, making it 12 intervals for those that want a little ‘more’, but that will be optional for those that don’t want the extra oomph.

Moanday Rides are Go

5:15PM 1st lap is not recovery. This will be a fast paced group, and while we try not to drop people, it may happen unintentionally at times with the high pace, and the usual folks that like to sweep hitting it hard on the front.

6:45PM lap IS recovery. There are usually 2 groups. Front group will be quick, but the back group is truly recovery pace and will make every effort to not drop anyone.

Thoughts From The Saddle: Driving is Hard

When you ride a bike a lot, you get a very different view of the road, and drivers. Early in learning to ride on the roads, it is easy to conclude that drivers are actively trying to hurt you. It is only after many miles, many hours, and time to contemplate their actions that you begin to understand that the issue is not that they are out to get you, but instead that complacency, convenience and comfort have led drivers to forget one simple thing.

Driving is Hard.

The act of driving a car is a complex task that engages many skills into a single act. Just consider the skills required to control a car. Steering, controlling the speed via 2 pedals (maybe a third). Many people cannot rub their stomach and pat their head at the same time, but we are asking them to steer and control a throttle and brake at the same time. But no, it is more than that, because now that they are moving, the task also means monitoring multiple outside factors, like lane markings, road signage, road conditions, other road users, things that are not in the roadway that MAY constitute a problem. Still we aren’t done, because all of this has to be done while still maintaining the operation within a set of rules that we have applied to road usage, and avoiding other drivers that have momentary lapses.

All of that is a lot to manage. That is an enormous amount of bandwidth and compute power. These are the reasons that computers and automated cars are not yet viable, the sensors, machine learning, bandwidth and compute power just have not reached that level yet, and it may be years before we see true automation that can replace a human outside of controlled environments.

Yet, somewhere along the way we forgot that driving is a complex task, one that requires our full attention. Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that we can drive while doing other things. Somehow, we have forgotten that the faster we travel the less time we have to process and make decisions.

Maybe, it is time to change the message. It is not drunk driving, it is not texting while driving, it is not distracted driving that increase the risks. It is just the act of driving itself, and everything else just makes a hard job that much harder.

How do you make a hard job easier? slow down, pay attention to details, and don’t let the distractions place you at greater risk.

Ride Guides: When to Filter on the Right

A common question in the cycling world is when is appropriate to filter to the front of a line of traffic.

As with so many things there are multiple approaches to the question, but let us provide a guide to work with here. 

First things first, what is the legality of filtering on a bicycle in Georgia?

The relevant law in Georgia is 40-6-43

O.C.G.A. Sec. 40-6-43:

(a) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following circumstances:

1) When the vehicle being overtaken is making or about to make a left turn; or

2) Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lanes of moving vehicles in the direction being traveled by the overtaking vehicle.

(b)  If otherwise authorized, the driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.  Such movement shall not be made by driving off the roadway.

With that in mind, if there is enough road space to the right to pass, a bike may legally pass on the right, particularly in light the ta bike MAY use a shoulder, while a car cannot.

Establishing that bikes CAN pass on the right, and when that is appropriate is fairly easy.  The secondary and perhaps more important question becomes SHOULD they pass on the right, and when is it appropriate.

The question of should boils down to road knowledge and awareness. If you do not know the road, then it is not a good choice to filter forward until you do know the road or can see the other side of the intersection. More important to the decision of if it is appropriate to filter forward is not a question of do you have space on the near side of the intersection, but does that space continue to the far side of the intersection? If the space exists on the far side of the intersection, and allows for a reasonable and safe space to merge into traffic if needed on the far side of the intersection, then for a single rider, or up to about 4 riders it is usually appropriate to filter. There are exceptions, like if the light signal is about to turn green, then holding your place in line is probably the better choice.

For groups though, once there are more than 4 riders together, it is rarely appropriate to filter forward. With a couple of exceptions, the one that seems to crop up the most often is the stop on a steep uphill.  Lights are usually placed on plateaus in hills, and since bikes are at MUCH higher risk of falling during starts on steep uphills, if there is space, a group should slide to the flatter space to reduce the risk of a crash or fall on the hill.

When filtering though, it is never appropriate to ‘swarm’ cars.  Filter along the right, but do not give in to the urge to also flood up the left.

Like most things, this will require situational awareness, and individual ride leaders may opt for slightly different approaches, so please allow them the leeway to dictate how their rides will be run.