Monday, July 7, 2008

Cycling tragedy

This is a tragic event that did not need to happen. I am so very sorry this happened, and my sincere condolences go out to those immediately affected, but one way of looking at this is that it was a poorly-prepared-for stunt. Before you can even apply the rules of effective cycling in moving from place to place, you must choose your route carefully.

If these cyclists were aware that (as the article states) "the road was built in the sixties so it is unchanged ... narrow and very scary- dead straight and flat so everyone speeds, and when the trucks pass by you are either almost blown off the road or sucked into its draft", then why did they not cycle with a follow-car with emergency blinkers on? If they were not aware of this, then why didn't they do their homework?

A long cross-country cycle ride, even one with sympathetic roads, requires planning. This may sound harsh, but I think these people are candidates for the Darwin Awards.

I find it hard to see how this event, even had it come off as planned, relates to the reality of everyday practical cycling. Practical cycling is cycling to and from work and errands. This is where bicycles can displace cars. But even doing that in areas where you are familiar with the roads, you must plan your route.

Luckily, this is much, much easier to do than it used to be. Google Maps has an "avoid highways" option when getting directions, and the drag-t0-alter feature makes tuning a trip for cycling very easy. Google Maps is one of those things that can improve the safety and practicality of cycing. It makes modern-day cycling much easier.

Updated: Here's an article on Internet mapping for bicyclists.

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