Thursday, May 21, 2009
Let's Cut the Cr%^ and Get REAL Data
I want data I can use for my ride. My ride tomorrow. Even lousy data is better than most of what I can get off the internet. Even lousy data is a starting point to suggest ways to get better data. Repeatable, clean data will tell us whether we want bike lanes everywhere - or nowhere - or somewhere in between.
Click on any of the links above and they go to the same place. It's a place where the CPSC tried to actually test some of the reflector myths, legends, and folklore. The data speaks for itself, even though they tried to wrap it up in PC BS. It's not very good data, but it's a start. It's worth a read.
What it says to me:
#1 - Forester was right - maybe. He claimed that side reflectors are useless and the CPSC data is consistent with his claim. The INTERESTING test, however, would have been one with no side reflectors and that test was not run. PC factors, no doubt. The CPSC avoided confronting the physics and rescinding any sort of side reflector requirement, despite the data leading in that direction.
#2 - Forester was wrong - maybe (link is actually to John Allen site, but I like his discussion). Forester claims the BEST thing for the rear is a big, amber SAE reflector. It seems logical. Looking at the data was why I bought a blinking red light that also meets the CPSC reflector standard. I WOULD have bought one that met the SAE standard, but there's no such animal. The light I chose will provide quite a bit of safety if it should poop out and I don't notice. There are few like it on the market. I really had to look (a Cateye TL-LD500) to find one. Unfortunately, while CPSC tested a big red reflector, they didn't test the "Forester" recommendation. If your faith runs to Forester, get your amber reflector at an RV supply house. They don't sell them at bike shops.
#3 - Get DATA, REAL DATA. There's too little of it and too much "I love/hate bike paths." Get the data and test it against added observations. It really ain't that hard to devise experiments to test these hypotheses and to check how the results stack up against real world data. The critics will point out the weaknesses and we'll gradually get better - and the conclusions will become pretty obvious before long. To me, bike paths or their absence are just part of the ride to where I'm going and I want to know how to deal with them in the safest manner.
#4 - Don't use a 1994 Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign as the "car" in CPSC pictures (page 5 of the pdf). I LIKE Jaguars. I've got more of them than I'm willing to admit. Use something Japanese - or German. Anything that was on the losing side in WWII. This is a purely personal beef. Hey, PM's allowed to like beer & jazz on this blog, why is it a crime for me to like cool Limey cars?
#5 - So where's the test data on all these vests & bright colors so many people like to advocate and why aren't we outfitting crash dummies in bike helmets to see what REALLY happens?