Sunday, November 13, 2011

5 Things Cyclists Could Do For The Motorists

After I presented my wish-list to the motorists, I felt it's my duty to keep the cyclists side of bargain while helping each other on the road.  Even though I am a minnow to write this post because of the fact that I am just a commuter, far away from the trails where the fun and challenge are at different levels. But still I would like to share my experience, it may help others and I expect riders to point out if I am wrong or incomplete in some parts. It may improve my riding experience too. So here I go:

RHDS: Right Hand Driving System.
LHDS: Left Hand Driving System.

1. What part of the road is mine? 
While sharing the road with other vehicles, try avoiding the fast moving traffic and drive in extreme left (extreme right in the RHDS) lane. Be near to the side but do not drive on the edge of the road. This is because of the simple fact that if someone is coming from behind he will always expect you to move towards edge of the road and many times it's necessary to do so. So prepare in advance and drive somewhat comfortable distance from the edge so as later you can still have sufficient strip of road for yourself. Always avoid driving in the right lane (or left lane in RHDS). 

2. Be seen, be safe
This is by far a cyclist’s responsibility. At crossings, at overtakes, at night and otherwise and it is not a tough a work to be seen on the road. 
  • Whenever crossing the road use hand signals. Give the hand signals prominently and use eye contacts to be sure. Personally I am a fan of eye contacts in Indian roads. 
  • Listen to the traffic and if you think someone is coming from behind, or blowing horn from behind don't hesitate to look back and confirm their position. Ask them to wait if you think it is necessary. Giving signal the vehicles clears a lot of confusions and saves the trouble of honking. 
  • Give side often.
  • Wearing bright clothes in the night is another subtle way.  Blippers can be helpful in the night. I prefer to go without them but they can be useful if it's very dark in the route. 
  • Even cycling helmets also are pretty useful psychological tools for garnering attention of the motorists in the Indian roads.

3. Understand motorists; try being one yourself once in a while
Next time you drive a car or motorcycle keep in a vigil of what you would expect from the cyclists on the road. For example when I was driving my motorcycle a cyclist took a sharp right (in LHDS). Though it was not of dangerous sort and he was in his limits but it created a short moment of uncertainty. As a cyclist help avoid such moments on the road. Sharp movement towards the sides is a strict no no and yeah keep your hands sturdy and no zigging-zagging on the road. Sometimes even a small side movement creates confusion for the fast moving traffic. And yeah lest I miss, no stylo-stunts in the traffic, save them for the backyard or an empty ground.

4. Follow the traffic rules
Even if you are cycling to save the world, you must follow the traffic rules doing so. Breaking the traffic rules can be a source of frustration for other drivers. And lest I miss isn't it "Better late than never"?

5. Share the fun
On the lighter note, I know most of the cyclists enjoy their ride. So why not share the fun. I like to be talkative on the road whenever I get a chance, say while standing at a traffic signal or at parking. Give a smile at times. Sometimes people enquire and comment about the cycles answer with passion and say thank you. If you are one of those witty once you can use witty one liner sometimes. You never know when a lighter moment makes a day for someone. It surely helps people keep notice of cyclists. 

So this is my bit. Hoping for more insights from expert riders and from motorists as well.

Related Posts:
9 Things You Could Do To Promote Cycling Being A Motorist

Friday, November 04, 2011

9 Things You Could Do To Promote Cycling Being A Motorist

Lets live up the fact. In most parts of the world and in many roads cyclists and motorists share the same road and will continue to do the same for a significant time to come. Many of us fit into both the categories of cyclists and motorists. If we learn to share roads we all will be better off. It will help not only in making the roads safer for both cyclists and motorists but will also be a key point in promoting cycling for the benefit of community and individuals. There are a few simple practices motorists can adopt for immediate benefit of cyclists.

1. Horn Not Okay Please!!!
Unless necessary avoiding honking is a good practice in general. But for cyclists motor horns are more painful as they are not covered inside a car and unlike motorbike helmets cycle helmets generally do not cover ears of the drivers and believe me horns from near distance are bitter reality for a cyclist.

2. Pollution Under Control
If your car or motorbike or any vehicle is not tested for that, please go and get it tested today. Helps a cyclist keeping his cool. And of course helps walkers, other drivers and environment too.

3. Switch-off Your Vehicle if You are Stopping at Red Signals
Signal stoppages many times serve cyclists as a welcome break. If you are going to stop at a signal for a decent amount of time switching-off engine could get you a peaceful silent thanks from a cyclist.

4. Anticipate Cyclists
Cyclists sometimes may not be visible or audible at turns or at night. Please anticipate them as you anticipate cars or other vehicles. This will keep you safe from making sudden decisions and will make roads safer for cyclists.

5. Get the Hang of Communication with Cyclists
They use the mighty hand signals and quick eye contacts are great confidence boosters at crossing. For me when I am riding, hand signals are musts and I love eye contacts. It is more human and shows that driver is as alert as he should be.

6. Give Enough Room
Please give room for the cyclists, drive farther from them. Please wait for a while if you can. Believe me there is no harm in waiting. This is a very important aspect where the traffic is more and requires greater understanding from the motorists. One hundred thanks in advance for this one.

7. Respect the Cycle Lanes
Remember the cycle lanes at the turns. A cyclists may be going straight when you are taking a turn. Also save the cycle lanes existence by not using them as parking ways or not using them as quick shortcut. While this usually may not be a practice in your area but some places it's a sad thing which happens. Recently a cycle path was closed down in Mumbai because people started using it for parking. Here.

8. Understand, Respect, Interact:
Please understand why cyclists are cycling. The reason can be traffic, environment, economic or some other. Whatever be the reason, cyclists are also equal users of road. Try to interact with them whenever necessary. And yeah, cyclists generally enjoy there rides, giving a smile, making a friendly gestures adds a lot more bliss in there ride and a smile in return will lift your mood up too.

9. Bike Up!!!
And get a million thanks from all the bikers readily. Nothing helps a cyclist more then one less automobile on the road. If you can not bike always you can try replacing short, near home trips for starters or may be take cycle for your commute once a week. If you need reasons you can see the links in the end.

I would like to hear from other cyclists about what contains their wishlist on the road.

Other Posts You may Like:

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Good Deed of The Day

There was a story they used to tell us in school. It goes like this:
Once there was a fight between Gods and Devils about who is better group of the two. When there was no conclusion they went to one of the supreme gods and asked him to settle the argument.

To resolve the fight the all mighty puts a competition between the two groups. He told the groups like this:
"You will be given some sweets. Whichever group eats and finishes them will be the winner. But the only condition is that everyone will have his elbows tied. "
With this conditions they were put in two separate rooms. After sometime at first the Devils' room was opened only to find them in a mess. Sweets were littered on the ground and devils were running around in chaos. They tried to eat the sweets by all methods like grabbing sweets with mouth, tossing the sweets etc. They readily complained, that there was no way any one could do better with such conditions.

Then the room of Gods was opened and there was content and happiness in the room. They had happily finished the sweets to everyone's surprise. When asked how did you do it? They told it was simple instead of eating themselves they fed each other and it was a lot fun. The decision was made.

The story was amusing to little me that time, but now when I remember it so much makes sense for many aspects of life. But I will draw parables for road traffic and biking.

If you need your sweet, you need to:

Feed it to the community:
How we wish for the jam free roads, clean air and calm streets and yeah the how about having a easy parking whenever you are in the streets? Heaven I say! Well how to get those?  Try moving to bike for your next trip out of home. Do biking to work. We need to feed it to the community and we will get. Sooner or later we have to accept we are the traffic, we create the pollution and we are the ones who are loosing our sweets. Biking is the apt art of contributing to the society, and doing all this while getting benefitted ourselves. And if you think you alone can not make a difference. Add me up. Add so many who already are walking and biking. Ask your friends to feed the sweets you need.  There is no better way other than feeding each other. If you want to give up remember us, we need you and we need your good deed of the day.

Feed it to your family:
They need your health and they will cherish the extra money you save, if you think money is not something significant, you might be missing something here. You can calculate and find it out for yourself in a post I wrote about Economics of Biking. More on the important health front later, but I guess you will be knowing it already.

Feed it to your employer:
The study in Netherlands (there are others too) has to add something about it. It seems people who commute using cycles take ~1 sick leaves lesser. Umm... you could use your one healthier day and your employer could be happier too with increased productivity and wont a fitter employee work with more efficiency? And don't forget the free parking cost your emplyoer is bearing and if you are paying for the parking then you already are tasting the sweetnes of your deeds.

Feed it to the local economy:
Well as some wise people claim. Cyclists tend to nurture local economic scenes. They tend to stop and buy from the local markets. And don't forget the bicycle tourism which is on the upswing and has direct and indirect positive economic impact. Means infusing new money. Creating jobs.  The green way.

Together we add up:
We do. Lets get back to wise people on this one again.  There are studies, there are facts and there are conclusions. All of them do support cycling.
You can check out the links in the references section in the end. I have some facts here. I live in India but sadly I do not have facts from India. (But Hey Indians!)  Here are some facts for starting brain-waves:

-The one from Europe: Since cyclists tend to take 1 less sick leave a year. If there is 1% of increase in the number of employees that cycle to work it will save their employers €27M per year from Netherlands.

-Study from "Investing in bicycle infrastructure and promoting cycling can draw new money to a local economy by attracting visitors who may otherwise spend their vacation dollars elsewhere"

- Another one from the same study: "In urban areas, where cars and bicyclists travel at similar speeds, bike lanes can accommodate 7 to 12 times as many people per meter of lane per hour than car lanes
and bicycles cause less wear on the pavement." Notice the fun-fact: "where cars and bicyclists travel at similar speeds". That is very true atleast for Bangalore.

-This one is a very comprehensive study for State of Wisconsin in USA:
"Increasing non-resident bicycling by 20% has the potential to increase economic activity
by more than $107 million dollars and create 1,528 full-time equivalent jobs."

So much and all I have to say is feed me my share of sweet. Bike Up!!!

Calculate the impact of cycling to your personal wealth: Economics of Biking.
Cyclists take 1 sick leave less: The one from Europe.
How it impacts the local biz: Study from
The biking state of USA: Economic impact of biking on Wisconsin

Friday, October 21, 2011

Economics of Commuting...

Saving pedal by pedal.
Place: India
Flash back a few 10s of years, precisely the years when you were still listening to your mother telling about her mother.
Or move to out of city a few 10s of kilometers out of a small town or village.
Or to a school of kids where they are telling the story of the thirsty man who filled his pot of water, drop by drop.
Drop by drop. Yes the man got potful of life saving water drop by drop.
A farmers' wife saves for her family little by little. Season by season.
And grand mother carefully saved paisa(penny) by paisa over the years.

You must have got my point by now. This is how economy of cycling works. Little by little incrementally but certainly and if you are not convinced enough and tend to think that we in the times of today are earning enough that this meager daily sweating out is not big enough for us. Well true. Some of us might be earning good for now but the sad part is most of us aren't earning for ourselves. But for the builders, for the automobile companies and yeah most generously for the war funding oil companies.

I will leave the builders for now. Well I somewhat adore them. Alright if not adore I don't mind them. I will leave the wars also, cause I am not expert about them. I take on here you me and I make a economic picture of us with our dear automobiles.

The cost of commute:
Lets stop the stories and come to the point. Lets take on the cost of commute. The pennies which you are spending and probably will be able to save on your bike.
First the obvious and evident, fuel costs along with little less obvious the whole cost of ownership of our automobiles, which we tend to miss. Well I do not have many statistics but I did calculate it for myself.
I drive :
-almost 20 kms (around 12 miles) a day.
-not so fuel expensive two wheeler, which is about ~3 times more efficient than an efficient car.
-I have free parking available at office and residence.

So it turned out I am paying ~30000 INR a year for my motor bike. Well that's something for me. For instance if I had taken biking earlier, I could saved nearly INR 100,000 by now. And in 10 years I will be saving INR 300000, that's purely at today's worth, No interest, no price inflation. 

See it yourself:
If you want to calculate the costs for yourself, sure go ahead I have created a simple calculator (not sleek, But Hey!). No units in there. Go ahead use your units miles/kms, gallons/liters, $s/euros/rupees/horses/gold-coins whatever you prefer. There are a few nice calculator available online but they are mostly in dollors and calculate the costs automatically. I will post there links in the last of this article.

Cost Calculator

Daily Commute Distance:
Mileage Per Unit Fuel:
Fuel Price:
Number of Days to Commute in a Month:
Additional Commute in a Month:
Vehicle Servicing Cost Per Year
Parts replacements Cost Per Year
Depreciation Per Year
Insurance Per Year
Parking Per Month
Traffic Tickets Per Year
Other Costs Per Year
Total Cost Per Month:
Total Cost Per Year:
Total Cost Per Unit of Distance:

So that's about the direct costs. But wait, there is more.
A blog at [1] told me that cycling pays for itself. Sure enough sir. What about the gym costs you paid to do the tread-mill? and How about going to a park nearby for a leisure ride with your family, giving your kids some insights about traffic rules and etiquette? Saves a trip to a shopping mall or movie. And if you are using lesser of your car then you may switch to buy a less fancy one. Saves you big money, in one time.

 Like all good things Biking has cascading effects.
They tend to add up. Slowly but surely.
-Say I saved XX amount in 3 year. I can pay more down payment for my house (Hey Builders!), means lesser home loan + more repayment every year so go debt free quicker and younger.

-I saved on gym. Due to regular exercise I was more healthy. I worked with more productivity better than if I was unfit. We all know what good performance at work can mean? Don't we. 
-"According to a research in UK. Cyclists take more than one lesser sick leave a year. Means enables you live your life one more day." As quoted by a research.

There are plenty such and I am sure we got the point here. So we have to do is :Bike Up!!!

References and other insightful posts:
  1. Get Rich... with Bikes 
  2. A calculator
  3. Benefits of Bicycling

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Curious Case of First Bike Accident

Had a first fall from my cycle today. And I am feeling happy about it. :)

So the first reaction of people in my part of world is "umm... see cycling is unsafe, you never know who hits you". Well, have a break I can not help think otherwise.

First It was not that some rash motor driver hit me, on the contrary I hit someone and he was walking. Not that I was rash but there was a confusion which I believe is reason of most of the accidents on the road.Well the incident goes like this:
The pedestrian was crossing the road and he had  a backpack on his back. Some how I missed his speed and backpack in my calculation and I think he turned a bit so my handle hit his bag and lo! cycle was on the ground and I was on my hands. I fell and a moment later I was happy, not that there was some brain damage but I had a few observations on accidents and biking, here I put them:

- Severity is less.I fell down and I could very quickly be in self control. I also drive motorcycle or car and the at the time of this accident the degree of uncontrolled motion was far less this time. The reason was lesser speed and manageable weight of my vehicle compared to motor-cycle/car and hence lesser uncontrolled fall or motion. So lesser severity and more safety.

- It's not first time I fell on my hands and the first thing I checked was how bad the scratches are there in my palms. Well I was happily surprised to see the scratches are almost none. Reasons should be obvious again. It has to do with speed. Because of lesser speed dragging on the road becomes almost impossible unlike motor-bikes.

-Again it's first time accident on my bicycle in last one and a quarter year. The rate of accident is almost equal if not less than motor-cycle and far lesser than the accidents happen while you are driving a car. No doubt randomness has its roll always and no hard claims here but I always felt like on bicycle I am prone to lesser accidents.

Well these are my two cents and I am happy (and safe) after the accident.

Disclaimer:Oh dear God don't take it otherwise not that I am too happy to fall down always. This is not I ask for me or anyone else.