Tuesday, 9 September 2014

What Are Cyclists Lives Worth

While I cannot answer that question I can tell you what our society and its governments have decided cyclists lives are not worth.

Cyclists lives are not worth the cost of installing truck side guards on all large trucks.

Cyclists lives are not worth the cost of developing and installing better mirror or camera monitoring systems for large trucks and all motor vehicles.

Cyclists lives are not worth the cost of designing and building roads that do not place cyclists in the path of other vehicles such as big trucks and then directs those vehicles into the cyclists.

Cyclists lives are not worth the cost of infrastructure that separates cyclists from motor vehicle traffic where appropriate such as on the most dangerous routes.

Cyclists lives are not worth the political will to require drivers, especially truck drivers, to have a legal responsibility to be able to see where their vehicle is going (and who they may be driving into and running over) before they go there.

And most importantly cyclists lives are not worth the elimination of the get out of jail free card that drivers that kill cyclists get for simply saying they didn't see the cyclist.

So what are are cyclists lives worth.


Note: this post does not refer to any specific incident.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Much Ado About Religious Accommodation

Much is being made of a decision by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) managers at Toronto's Pearson airport to allow a small group of Hindu priests to avoid screening by female border guards to comply with their religious beliefs.

Apparently some female CBSA officers feel that they were discriminated against by this decision. I could understand an outrage if female officers were only allowed to deal with female visitors but this was a small exemption made for a special case. Why all the fuss about this when so many more significant examples of religious discrimination are entrenched in our laws and practices in the name of freedom of religion.

For example an employer being allowed to designate higher profile positions for males only and more subservient positions for women only. This is a clear violation of all Canadian employment legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms but still allowed in the name of freedom of religion.

What about persons delegated by the state the right to perform legal marriage ceremonies being allowed to discriminate in terms of who they will marry on the basis of their personal religious beliefs.

And much more serious, medical practitioners, such as doctors and pharmacists, being allowed to refuse to provide medical treatment or services on the basis of their personal religious beliefs.

Perhaps one of the most outrageous examples of discriminatory religious accommodation, a clear violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but constitutionally allowed, is the public funding of religious-based schools for one religious group only (and not even the largest group at that) - a huge government subsidy to one religious group that all political parties are afraid to deal with because of the risk of losing that groups votes.

If we are to be outraged by inappropriate religious accommodation let us be outraged by matters of substance, not by attempts to accommodate a small groups religious preference that has little impact on others' rights.

Postscript

This post sees the return of the Fifth Column after an interregnum, not caused by a lack of ideas but simply a lack of motivation to make the effort to write them down. Hopefully my posts will be more regular from now on.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Why Does Canada Participate in the Olympics Anyway

I took this screenshot (CBC website) of the standings yesterday showing Germany in first place with 8 medals, Canada second with 10 medals and Norway in third place with 12 medals.

Yes, that's right, because only being the very best in the world (well best at that particular place at that particular time) counts, the rest are all losers, so it seems.

Why do we rate the Olympics that way. The way we rate Olympic success should relate to what we want to accomplish, and the way we rate Olympics can have far reaching effects on how we fund sports and recreation in this country. We have already seen, at least in the past, funding shifted from less popular sports to sports that we have a better chance of winning Olympic medals in.

But what if we measured Olympic success by a points system that included all top ten finishes (tenth best in the world is pretty damn good by most peoples standards) with 10 points for first and one point for tenth.

We would get a much better picture of the depth and breadth of our elite athletes than just counting those in the top three. It would even give us a better measure of how we are progressing towards more medals in the future. And we could start doing it now retroactively using the records of past Olympics.

But is that even the point. Is it really justified to spend all this money on a “pissing contest” to prove we (well actually our elite athletes) are better than the rest of the world. What public policy goal does that serve.

We can only justify spending all this money on the Olympics if it serves some public benefit beyond giving Canadian another excuse to spend more time watching TV (while waving the flag) for two weeks every two years.

We can only justify spending this money if it benefits Canadians beyond the elite athletes that participate. We have to be able to show that the funding benefits a broad range of Canadians by funding sports and recreation for more than just elite athletes and by actually encouraging more Canadians to get involved in sports and recreation. That way we will see results in fitter and healthier Canadians with more balanced lifestyles and even reduced health care costs.

We won't know that if we measure the wrong things. Ultimately what we want to be able to measure is whether Olympic programs increase the participation of Canadians in sport and recreation ultimately leading to more balanced lifestyles and improving their fitness and health.

Knowing that we had the greatest percentage of citizens participating in sports and recreational activities would make me a lot more prouder than knowing that a small group of elite Canadian athletes were the best in the world. Now that is a goal to strive for.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The War on Cars Starts Here – My Municipal Election Slogan

You don't have to actually run for office to have an election slogan, do you. Although my wife did suggest I take on our car loving, parking worshipping incumbent whose biggest priority is widening roads through the Greenbelt, I am too happy in retirement to go after a thankless twenty-four hour a day job. But I can still have an election slogan and mine is The War on Cars Starts Here.

Conventional wisdom would say that is a guaranteed losing slogan for a suburban candidate. But is it really.

After all, ask your typical suburban car commuter what they think of their commute and they will almost unanimously say that they hate it. Then ask someone who bikes or walks to work and the answer you will get is that they love it. Those that use public transit may have some complaints but almost all will be happy they do not have to drive in rush hour traffic, especially in the winter.

For some strange reason, even though studies and history has shown that building more roads never eases congestion problems, car drivers think that is somehow the answer to making their commute more bearable.

We do not need any more roads or any wider roads. We are over-serviced as far as roads go, except for two hours a day during the morning and evening rush hour. We spend millions and millions of taxpayers dollars trying to solve an unsolvable problem building more roads that we do not need ninety percent of the time.

The only solution that will really solve the problem for those people that drive to work are solutions that reduce the number of cars on the road, not so-called solutions that encourage more people to drive to work. We need to spend our tax money on alternatives to the hated car commute, on infrastructure for commuting solutions that people enjoy.

As with the Three Rs, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, Reducing commuting distances is the most important and effective solution to traffic congestion. We need to design and build our communities with more opportunities to work closer to home, and more opportunities to work from home.

That is where walking and cycling are the best alternatives, but they are not attractive if people feel unsafe. That is why we do not build sidewalks by drawing white lines to separate cars from pedestrians. Give people safe walking and cycling routes, preferably segregated, and they will use them.

Also improving the recreational pathway system will get more people onto their bikes and more people thinking about commuting on their bikes, especially if there is a comprehensive network that allows people to go from anywhere in the city to any destination without having to share major roadways with cars.

Winter is seen as a problem, but if you look at cities with similar climates to Ottawa that actually have good and extensive cleared winter cycling routes and infrastructure the number of winter cycling commuters is much higher than in Ottawa. If you build it they will ride it.

And of course making public transit a comfortable and enjoyable experience will increase ridership. It is already as fast and much less expensive than commuting by car. Indeed, I suspect for the majority of car drives, it is only stereotypes about public transit and psychological barriers that keep people off public transit.

Indeed if we provided secure and sheltered bike parking at the Park and Rides and an improved Bixi Bike system downtown and in major employment areas we could create a whole new commuter class of cycling public transit users, especially with the light rail system, where bike commuters would use the LRT for the long middle portion of their commute.

There is only one way to reduce traffic congestion on the roads and that is to reduce the number of cars on the roads. And there is only one way to do that and that is by improving infrastructure for the alternatives, public transit, cycling and walking.

The War on Cars Starts Here.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Reflections on My 2013 Biking Season

Now that I bike all year there is no end to the season but the putting away of the summer bikes and taking out of the winter bike marks the end of a season for me now. (Note: click on images in this blog post to enlarge them.)

Remembering Mario

As I reflect on the past season I feel a sense of guilt for feeling that I have had one of my best seasons yet, for how can I feel that way when we have lost our dear friend Mario in a tragic traffic incident.

I first met Mario about ten years ago in pre-OMBA (Ottawa Mountain Bike Association) days when MTB Kanata used to organize weeknight Jack Pine rides and weekend rides on what were then called the Kanata Lakes trails, which included the SMH (South March Highlands) trails on both sides of the Terry Fox Drive extension (which didn't exist then) through the forest.

One of my first memories is a road trip to CFMBA (Charlottenburgh Forest Mountain Bike Area ) near Cornwall. During the ride Mario noticed some issues with the trails, so of course, being Mario, he was back again for several weekends doing trail work.

Back in those days MTB Kanata used to sponsor several teams in the Tour Nortel (now CN Cycle for CHEO) and of course Mario was always a big supporter. Here is an image from the MTB Kanata newsletter of one of the few times Mario has actually “gone public” about what he has done. You can really tell he loved riding that bike.

One of my first memories of Mario's patience was a group ride on Outback where he was riding sweep. I remember finding it very challenging but he kept encouraging me even as we kept falling farther behind everyone else. Finally after taking a bit of a secret shortcut that he knew about near the end we finished about an hour, or maybe much more, after everyone else. Rather than being upset with me for holding him back Mario was more happy that I had accomplished the challenge.

And of course Mario was not a fair weather rider – he rode all seasons and loved his winter riding, he even perfected the making of spiked tires for winter riding, which, of course he had to share with everyone else on the OMBA forums.

When I started to volunteer for trail days for a couple of seasons Mario was always one of the regulars and if he wasn't there it was probably because he was helping somebody else with something.

One of my best biking seasons ever was the season that Mario was leading Group D on the Thursday Night Rides. You could not find a better person to lead a group of struggling beginners on the trails and he always tried to provide variety in the trails. As well as the usual SMH trails he would take us on the old Kanata Lakes Trails including the old Lost and Found Trails behind the GFR parking lot and the trails on the other side of GFR. One of his favourite things to point out was the H-tree, a tree along the trail that had grown in the shape of an H. (I have to go and find that tree now). I always loved that about Mario because that is the sort of thing that I would notice and it just re-emphasized that for Mario, like many of us, mountain biking is not the macho stereotype that is all about mindlessly ripping around on your bike, but it is just as much about being in the forest with nature.

The last time I saw Mario was at this year's Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day where our two groups kept leap frogging each other, even though I supposedly had the slower group. He had a couple of slower riders that he thought might fit in better with our group and asked me if I would take them, and of course I said yes. But, being Mario he didn't want to single them out so he asked everyone to express how tired out there were in a number between 1 and 10 and then suggested those that said 5 or less join my group. But nobody wanted to leave Mario's group and that was fine with him, and fortuitous for me as we kept leap frogging and I got to see Mario more often that day than I otherwise would, short little meetings on the trail that I will cherish forever.

Mario is remembered fondly by the Ottawa Mountain Biking Association and Trips For Kids Ottawa.

Mario would want us all to think positively, particularly about mountain biking and cycling that he loved so much, and he would want us to get out and ride as much as possible.

Statistical Overview

AS OF DECEMBER 7, 2013
TOTAL KM         HOURS         MTB KM         HOURS         HYB KM         HOURS         WB KM         HOURS
4944.75               317.58           860.75             75.63           3244.70           188.27          839.30           53.68

So what do the numbers say about this year's season. The first thing we notice is an increase in total number of kilometres over time, a new record each year, 4451 for 2011, 4754 for 2012 and already passed that on Nov 21, 2013 at 4767, and 4945 on December 7, 2013, well on track for a over 5000 km for the year.

It would be nice to think I am doing that much more biking but the increasing hours is not as great, going from 290 in 2011 to 318 by December 7, 2013. What we also see is a shift from mountain biking hours to hybrid hours, in 2011, 100 vs 162 and in 2013 so far, 76 vs 188. Winter bike hours went from 28 in 2011 to 54 so far this year.

Average speed this season on the mountain bike was approximately 11.3 km/hr, while it was 17.25 km/hr on the hybrid and 15.5 km/hr on the winter bike.

So for various reasons, trail and weather conditions and the fact that I am beginning to really enjoy the long hybrid rides, I am putting more hours on the hybrid, increasing my distance at a faster rate than the same hours on the mountain bike. The number of hours on the winter bike is primarily determined by when the City decides to start and stop dumping salt on the roads and paths.

CN Cycle for CHEO

The CN Cycle for CHEO is the first “event” of the new cycling season. The winter bikes go away at the end of March when the snow and ice are off the roads and paths and while the trails are drying out it is a month of “training” on the hybrid for the CN Cycle for CHEO (previously Tour Nortel) at the beginning of May. I have been participating in this fund raising ride for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario for about 10 years. This year my daughter Jasmine joined me in doing the 70 km route at a pace of about 21.5 km/hr (75.5 km at 19.5 km/hr, if you include to and from the parking lot.). During our training Jasmine was a bit slower than my pace so I let her lead hoping to do a pace of about 18 km/hr, but she led us at a pace of almost 21.5 km/hr, my best pace yet. We both managed to make the 500 Club raising over $500 each.

Mapping Project

This season I continued my project to map the Greenbelt trails and finished mapping the western Greenbelt trails with the NCC Trail 10 trail system near Shirleys Bay.

All of the maps from my project are included on the Backroad Mapbooks Ontario GPS Map and when the next version comes out in the spring all my western Greenbelt trail maps, including the NCC Trail 10 system will be included.

Also during this season I mapped the trails adjacent to the Jackson Trails community in Stittsville, what appears to be an unofficial trail system with an uncertain future.

Also, on a day when I was looking for someplace new to ride I mapped most of the pathways in Stittsville, which I just realized I have not posted yet, so here is the overview map and watch for more detailed maps to be posted in the Hybrid Routes section of my Richard's GPS Trail Maps website in the, hopefully near, future.

Tuesday Night Rides

While, for various reasons I may put more kilometres on my hydrid, the high point of my biking week are the Tuesday Night Rides, also known as TNRs (® Andy AKA FaustCan).

The TNRs are intended to supplement the OMBA Thursday night rides in the South March Highlands but on the easier and more varied Greenbelt Trails. All riders from beginner to advanced are welcome and encouraged to participate. The trails we ride range from easy to intermediate technical.

The history of the TNRs goes back to the MTBKanata Jack Pine rides, and after those faded out, the MTBK Nora's No-Drop rides that I usually led.

The TNRs are a casual and fun experience with a great group of riders, usually led by myself or my co-leader Andy, who, if not kept in check will lead us off onto Untrails. We are always looking for new people to join the group and add to the fun.

To find out when and where the next TNR is just check the OMBA Ride and Event Calendar.

My daughter Jasmine usually joins us on the TNRs and next year my other daughter Maggie, and my wife Christine, might be joining us. I am looking forward to that.

Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day

My last bike event of the year is Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day where the the whole mountain biking community comes together to help Trips for Kids Ottawa get kids out of the house and away from the video games and into the bush to enjoy mountain biking, exercise and nature. My daughter Jasmine and I both volunteer to lead groups on the trails for this big event.

Below is Mario leading his group onto the trails at this event that he loved so much.

Winter Biking

I first started winter biking in December 2009 on a cheap $100 Supercyle, with studded tires that cost more than the bike, but I enjoyed it so much that when that bike died I replaced it in October 2011 with a used but better winter bike from Cycle Salvation. Later that season in February 2012, I modified itto make it more like a hybrid riding stance. And before the beginning of this season I added a panier rack and replaced the seat with a more comfortable one. The plan was to replace the chain and cassette at the end of this season but on my first ride I notice considerable chain slippage when I tried riding on trails or whenever I had to power pedal, such as going up hard hills. So it was back in to Eric at Phat Moose Cycles to get the chain and cassette replaced and now it is running like new. This is the winter bike in it's current incarnation.

The key to winter biking is keeping warm and I use the dressing in layers technique that I use for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for my winter biking and wear my winter hiking boots instead of my biking shoes,.Winter biking has it's limitations but it does allow me to keep biking regularly throughout the winter.

Because many of the pathways are not cleared at all and others do not get cleared quickly, most of my biking is on the local community roadways, and again, because side streets are not always cleared quickly I have a number of regular routes that involve the collector streets in Bridlewood and Glen Cairn. However, I will sometimes go farther afield such as down Terry Fox Drive to Second Line and back via Old Crap Road, Huntmar Drive and Fernbank Road. Of course I have the advantage as a recreational cyclist rather than commuter to not have to be on the roads during rush hour.

Cycling advocacy

I have also used this blog and my Twitter feed to advocate for cycling issues.

In June I raised the issue of why the Prince of Wales Bridge isn't a bikeway and proposed a relatively inexpensive way to make it happen quickly. Since then the idea has been included in the City's Transportation Master Plan but as a much more expensive project in the distant future.


Photo Source

In July I blogged about Kanata's Secret Segregated Bike Lane, what appeared to be a low cost way to create a segregated bike, lane only to discover it was actually an “at-grade asphalt sidewalk“.

Perhaps my most important cycling blog post of the year was in August when, following a Twitter exchange, I posted Thoughts on Taking The Lane where I outlined the legal justification for cyclists taking the lane and stated:

While I am not one of those “vehicular cyclists”, that oppose cycling infrastructure because they think that the best place for all cyclists is on the roads competing for space with car drivers, I do believe that cyclists have a right to be able to ride on the roads safely. I also agree with the City of Ottawa when they tell cyclists “never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist”.

One of the most important ways that cyclists can ensure their safety on the roads is by taking the lane (riding in the middle of the lane of traffic) when appropriate and necessary

I also wrote a blog post in June relating to a proposal to widen roads through the Greenbelt to save commuters a few minutes in traffic during rush hour where I pointed out that:

Along this route proposed for widening there are two NCC parking lots, P6 and P11 with trail systems on both sides where crossing from one side to the other is already very difficult and dangerous. If any widening of these roads is allowed the NCC must insist that it include a solution that provides safe passage between the trail systems on both sides of the roads at the locations of those parking lots.

Conclusion

My life is good now and I am enjoying my retirement and cycling, especially mountain biking, is a very big part of that, thanks in large part to the friendly welcoming nature of the Ottawa mountain biking community. I enjoy cycling all year round but am especially looking forward to the next mountain biking season and the return of the Tuesday Night Rides.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Bottom Line on the Parti Québécois Proposed Values Charter

I was going to write a long blog post on this but since so much has been written about it I think this captures the spirit and intent of the proposal succinctly.

The bottom line on Quebec's proposed values charter is that you can visit a hospital named after a saint with a crucifix in the lobby and be guaranteed not to be treated by a Muslim doctor in a hijab because they want to remove religious symbols from public institutions.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Thoughts on Taking The Lane

Updated 2013-11-11

As I am not an expert on cycling safety this post is not intended to be advice on how to safely take the lane but only my thoughts on the subject.

While I am not one of those “vehicular cyclists”, that oppose cycling infrastructure because they think that the best place for all cyclists is on the roads competing for space with car drivers, I do believe that cyclists have a right to be able to ride on the roads safely. I also agree with the City of Ottawa when they tell cyclists “never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist”.

One of the most important ways that cyclists can ensure their safety on the roads is by taking the lane (riding in the middle of the lane of traffic) when appropriate and necessary.

The Legal Right to Take The Lane

The legal right to do this is provided in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8.

Slow vehicles to travel on right side

147. (1) Any vehicle travelling upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at that time and place shall, where practicable, be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 147 (1).

The key phrase here is “where practicable” and while that is not defined in the Act it seems reasonable to assume that in legislation dealing with highway safety that “where practicable” would include where safe and that a right to take the lane would therefore exist where that is the only safe option.

Indeed the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Police Service and the Ministry of Transportation clearly agree with that interpretation.

The section of the City of Ottawa website: Cycling and the law states:

Rules of the road

Cyclists are required to ride as close as possible to the right curb of the roadway, except when:

●Travelling at the normal speed of traffic

●Avoiding hazardous conditions

●The roadway is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to travel safely side-by-side

●Tiding alongside another cyclist in a manner that does not impede the normal movement of traffic

●Preparing to make a left turn, passing another vehicle, or using a one-way street (in which case riding alongside the left curb is permitted)

The Share The Road section of the Ottawa Police Service website states:

Riding Tips for the Road

1. Ride predictably and defensively.

2. Ride in a straight line at least one metre from the curb or parked cars.

3. You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it. Never compromise your safety just for the convenience of others.

And the Ontario Ministry of Transportation's Ontario's Guide to Safe Cycling states:

Taking a lane

In urban areas where a curb lane is too narrow to share safely with a motorist, it is legal to take the whole lane by riding in the centre of it. On high-speed roads, it is not safe to take the whole lane. To move left in a lane, should check, signal, left and shoulder check again then move to the centre of the lane when it is safe to do so.

It also states:

Accordingly, cyclists should ride one meter from the curb or close to the right hand edge of the road when there is no curb, unless they are turning left, going faster than other vehicles or if the lane is too narrow to share.

As well it states:

Around parked vehicles

Ride in a straight line at least one metre away from parked vehicles. Keep to this line even if the vehicles are far apart to avoid continuous swerving.

Cycle in a straight line past parked vehicles; do not swerve towards the curb when parked vehicles are far apart

When riding around parked vehicles, cyclists should watch for motorists and passengers who may open their car door into the cyclists' path.

And the Canadian Cycling Association CAN-BIKE Program: safety tips states:

CAN-BIKE TIP #7
Going…going, gone! When one lane disappears, use the other one

Highway Traffic Acts across Canada tell all vehicle users to occupy any part of a lane when safety warrants it. Bikes are vehicles too. In the event of parked vehicles, construction, snow banks, etc. If the lane is obstructed and there is not enough room to share the lane while passing the obstruction, take the whole lane to prevent vehicles from passing too close.

1. Look well ahead when you ride and pre-plan your position on the road.

2. Shoulder check first to make sure there is room and then signal before taking the lane.

3. Shoulder check again to make sure the drivers behind you respect your intention.

4. Take the centre of the lane and ride in a straight line.

5. Repeat 2 & 3 and return to the right most side of the lane when the obstruction is passed.

So we have established not only the legal right to take the lane but the fact that the authorities recommend it in appropriate situations.

Taking The Lane Safely

That of course does not change the fact that taking the lane can be intimidating, and even hazardous if not done carefully. After all, it is not wise to just pull out in front of bigger heavier vehicles going faster than you.

The first rule, and this applies to all cycling in traffic, is to be constantly aware of the traffic around you. No riding with headphones on or texting while cycling. Your life may depend on how aware you are.

You should also be aware of the road and driving conditions so that you can be prepared to ease into taking the lane safely, as you approach the conditions requiring it, and be able to do so without abruptly pulling in front of other traffic. And, of course only take the lane in urban traffic and not when the other traffic is travelling at highway speeds.

When To Take The Lane

The road conditions when I take the lane include:

● when the bike lane abruptly ends, which I interpret as the traffic engineer's way of telling me that there is not enough room alongside traffic and that I should take the lane,

● when the roadway alongside traffic is too dangerous to ride in due to pot holes or debris in the lane,

● in constructon or detour zones with lanes that are too narrow to ride alongside traffic

● alongside parked cars when simply staying out one metre risks getting forced into the dooring zone by passing motorists,

● and when the lane is simply too narrow to ride safely alongside traffic.

The bottom line on when to take the lane is when you believe that you cannot ride safely alongside traffic and that it is safe to take the lane. As the City of Ottawa states “never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist”.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Kanata's Secret Segregated Bike Lane

Yes, Kanata has a secret, or at least unpublicized, segregated bike lane on Huntmar Drive from Maple Grove Road to the Canadian Tire Centre parking lot, even if, for some strange reason, it is only on one side of the road.

This is not like the high profile (and more costly) Laurier Street Segregated Bike Lane (SBL). It is done on the cheap, with only the use of concrete curbs to separate the bike lane from traffic, but it is effective. It achieves the most important goal, which is to prevent cars from parking in the bike lane, as cars parked in bike lanes not only render them ineffective but make them dangerous as jutting in and out of traffic from behind parked cars is not a safe practice.

All that separates most sidewalks from roadways are concrete curbs and they are the safety standard for pedestrians so they can make a safe and cost-effective separator for bike lanes. This should be standard practice for most bike lanes. There may be special cases, such as in the busy downtown core, where more separation may be needed. However, white lines on the road should not be the standard when the use of concrete curbs only requires a small one time expense, probably less than the ongoing cost of repainting white lines.

As to the argument that it will make snow clearance and street cleaning more difficult than the current practice, which seems to be to just plough all the crap into the bike lanes, well we need to change that policy anyway.

We can only hope that this is a quiet pilot project and that we will see more of these (starting with the other side of this section of Huntmar Drive) and that it will indeed become the minimum standard for Ottawa bike lanes. Just don't tell Allan “Roads are for Cars” Hubley about this.

What Are These White Lines All About

While we are talking about bike lanes, what about pseudo bike lanes. These are on what I would call collector streets in our neighbourhood. And yes, they look like bike lines. However they have no signage and are not marked on the cycling map as bike lanes. And the fact that cars are allowed to park on them makes them ineffective and possibly even dangerous if used as bike lanes. Indeed, on these streets I follow the general rule of keeping to the right of the roadway but if a series of cars are parked in these lanes I keep to the middle to avoid jutting in and out from behind parked cars.

Perhaps they are parking lanes, but as you can see they are not wide enough for parking within the lines. If they were in the country it would be obvious, they would be paved shoulders, but in a suburb.

I think they are just “make the cyclists feel good” lanes.


After posting this I received this via Twitter:

Charles A-M ‏@Centretowner
@the5thColumnist @auxonic technically it's not a bike lane but an at-grade asphalt sidewalk. I tweeted pic of this 2y ago.
27 July 2013 20:49

Monday, 15 July 2013

The George Zimmerman Verdict: How Does an Aggressor Successfully Argue Self Defence

After my initial shock at hearing the verdict and my attempt to rationalize it I have further reflected on the verdict.

Perhaps it all comes down to the difference between Canadian and Floridian/American attitudes to vigilantism.

I consider myself to be a reasonable man and my interpretation of self defence does not allow for an aggressor to claim self defence. For example, you cannot start a fight with someone and kill them and then argue that because they fought back you killed them in self defence.

In this case, perhaps because the actual physical altercation was not witnessed, the jury seemed to have difficulty seeing who the aggressor really was. I had no difficulty determining that at all. The aggression started with the vigilante stalking of Trayvon Martin (who was doing nothing wrong) by George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman was clearly the aggressor. George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman was guilty of murder.