Commuting Past Traffic to University of Warwick

Taking my usual route to work this morning, it was pretty shocking to see the amount of (often single passenger) vehicular traffic going to the University of Warwick on Stoneleigh Road. To be sure, traffic is oftentimes heavy, but this morning struck me as pretty extraordinary. Here is a map view of the section which featured pretty much bumper to bumper traffic with a good portion being at a standstill. As you can see, this lasted for almost 2 miles.

My apologies for not taking pictures, but you can figure out for yourself that it didn’t look pretty. This is a shot from Google Street View that is pretty typical for that section.

By my own rough count I overtook about 20-30 cars on that section while slowing down to avoid oncoming traffic when necessary.

For the few drivers who seemingly had nothing better to do than try to prevent me from overtaking me by either cutting hard to the left or right as I was about to pass, I will quote the Boston Biker blog which put things much better than I could about cyclists impeding your way to work.

Lets make one thing crystal clear. Cyclists are not slowing you down. You read that correctly, cyclists are not the reason you are not going as fast as you want to go.

“But what about when they ride in the street!!!!!!!!”

No, stop it. Listen.

C Y C L I S T S A R E N O T T H E O N E S S L O W I N G Y O U D O W N.

This is not a matter of opinion, this is a simple math problem. I can prove this with a piece of paper and a pencil. I can tell by the look on your face that you don’t believe me. You think I am just another smug cyclists using your road and slowing you down.

Ok lets do a little thought experiment. Every day while you sit in traffic and wonder why traffic isn’t moving, I want you to take a good look at what is in front of you, and take another good look at what is behind you. Keep a little note book, write down what you see. After a month or two, add up your results. I am going to guess that “cyclists” = 0 and “other people in cars” = a whole fucking bunch. Cyclists are not the ones slowing you down.

Need more proof, how about we use some more math. A person on a bicycle takes up 8-10 sq foot of road, a car takes up 100+ square feet of road. Road space is limited…do the math. Cyclists are not the ones slowing you down.

“But one time this guy on a bike got right in front of me and I had to go around, slowing me down!!!!”

You know one time I found a ten dollar bill on the ground, you know what happened the other 99.99% of the time, I didn’t. Cyclists are not the ones slowing you down.

You want to know what is slowing you down? You are. You are the problem. Every day you get in your car all by your self and you drive to work. You take up all sorts of space on the street just so you can move yourself (and no one else) a couple miles down the street. You are getting in everyone way. You are taking up space on the street that another car driver could use. You speed up too fast, and then have to slam on your brakes because you don’t pay attention to the timing of red lights. You are taking up parking spots, you are blocking that driveway, you are are keeping the bus from making that turn. You didn’t let that guy merge in so he is blocking both lanes. You stopped half way into the intersection. You are slowing you down.

Bike Share in Taipei

I am on a trip to Taipei for work. I had briefly toyed with the idea of taking my foldable along and bike in from the airport, but in the end I decided against it. Part of the reason was that Taipei looked to have a reasonably promising bike share program called YouBike, with stations literally all over the city.

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After getting to the city by bus (fast, efficient, inexpensive) I had dinner with a friend and we then decided that it would be good idea to sign me up with YouBike. Once you know what to do (and have a friend who volunteers her sister’s Taiwanese phone number) the process is straightforward.

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You buy a card that you can use for the metro and YouBike (your friendly 7 Eleven gives you choice of designs), top it off with some funds, register your card at a kiosk (with the help of your friend’s sister) and then off you go.

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Lots of screens like this.

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Finally, success: img_20161113_210755 img_20161113_183642

I ended up going down one of the major thoroughfares of Taipei (Zhongxiao Road for those in the know or interested), heading back to my hotel. As always, exploring the city by bike is fun. I had done the same route in reverse by metro (fast, efficient, inexpensive), but this was far better.

Not only because are you above ground and actually get to see things, but drivers are generally courteous and give you room, with only a few minor instances of hurried driving.

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I decided against riding on the sidewalk as most people seem to do. Far too many pedestrians for my comfort and theirs.

That means you inevitably find yourself in a sea of scooters. Unlike in mainland China where it seems a large number of those are now electric, I have yet to see a single non-gasoline engine scooter so far.

img_20161113_212443 img_20161113_212207 The bikes are decent and ride well, but nothing I would want to use for a full day outing if given a choice. But the bikes and the system work and both work well. My only quibble is to make the stations more visible by putting up a sign with the logo so you can see them across six lanes of traffic. But that’s a first world problem to have. I dropped off the bike close to my hotel and headed to bed. More exploring in the days to come. Stay tuned.