Saturday, February 17, 2018
Washington, D.C. clip of Pennsylvania Avenue in 1907 from GhostOfDC
In two different earlier blog posts, first this one and then this one I looked at bicycles that appeared in two short videos of DC streets in the summer of 1903. I have now found the above video of Pennsylvania Avenue in DC, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, from 1907. One can see a lot of change in the four years!!
At about 25 seconds in, a cyclist first appears riding from right to left
The main impression of change is WOW there are a lot more cars carrying passengers on a main thoroughfare in Washington DC in 1907 than there were in 1903, and far fewer horse-drawn carriages. The fellow with a hat facing the Capitol is apparently a traffic policeman who casually directs traffic and to some limited extent, pedestrians.
This is the same cyclists as above, having made a left turn in the intersection and now proceeding away from the Capitol
The cyclist proceeds as any other vehicle, motorized or horse-drawn, riding in the main part of the street.
Another cyclist appears
There are some small breaks in the film - it isn't clear how this cyclist got to the middle of this intersection, but probably he was riding away from the camera and towards the Capitol, then stops or slows to turn to the left.
Because of heavy traffic, the cyclist starts to ride away from the Capitol but then turns to his right
The cyclist makes his left turn in two stages - first, he makes a U-turn, then once he is established heading in the reverse direction and traffic clears to his right, he makes a right turn to complete his original left turn. The traffic policeman plays no role in this maneuver. Note that cyclists in this intersection would have had to navigate safely tram rail tracks in two directions, crossing those at as close to a 90 degree angle as possible.
One of several vehicles spewing vast amounts of exhaust, which can't have been too pleasant
One of only five horse-drawn carriages in the short video
Cars carrying passengers have skyrocketed and horse-drawn carriages, all appearing commercial in nature, have dropped off in number from 1903 to 1907. There are still many streetcars in this urban setting. And there are still bicycles, but the ease with which they can be navigated is much changed for the worse, which probably meant fewer were riding as shown here (although these short videos are of course a very small sample).
Saturday, February 3, 2018
The version on YouTube is so poorly rendered as to be almost useless
The default viewing version is poorly rendered here but the downloadable mp4 file is acceptable.
In this film, meant to show Post Office operations, you can see a certain amount street traffic as well. (The video is apparently meant to show how bags of mail are transferred between a street car and a Post Office horse-drawn wagon.) There is less than a minute and half shown of a major street in Washington DC. Whatever time of day this was, filmed in July 30 1903 (a Thursday), there wasn't much traffic generally, however I am struck by the number of bicycles. It isn't a vast number, but they are clearly being used for transportation by adults.
Cyclist appears suddenly at left, proceeds at measured pace out of view
Next cyclist appears at right, again riding at a measured pace
Due to low resolution, it isn't obvious but a cyclist is proceeding right to left on the next cross street in the distance and is just visible in the space been the streetcar and the Post Office wagon.
Cyclist rides into view, apparently against the flow of traffic on this side of the street
Street mail car, U.S.P.O.
Summary-The first scene appears to have been taken on a main thoroughfare of large city. In the immediate foreground is a horse-drawn U.S. mail vehicle waiting at the side of a streetcar track. Soon a streetcar approaches the camera position. It stops beside the mail vehicle and the driver unloads mail sacks from the streetcar. He then puts some sacks from his wagon onto the streetcar. As the film ends, both the streetcar and the horse-drawn mail delivery wagon leave the scene.
Contributor Names-Weed, A. E., camera.; American Mutoscope and Biograph Company.
Paper Print Collection (Library of Congress)
Created / Published-United States : American Mutoscope & Biograph Company, 1903.
- H34992 U.S Copyright Office
- Copyright: American Mutoscope & Biograph Company; 22Aug03; H34992.
- Cameraman, A. E. Weed.
- Cameraman credit from Niver's, Early motion pictures, p. 314.
- Filmed July 30, 1903 in Washington, D.C.
- Source used: Niver, Kemp R., Early motion pictures, 1985.
- Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as digital files.
- Received: 2/2000 from LC lab; ref print and dupe neg; preservation; Paper Print Collection.
Repository-Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA dcu
Saturday, January 20, 2018
"Collecting mail, U.S. Post Office"-digitized short film shows a few bikes in street traffic
This short movie from the collections of the Library of Congress shows two post office boxes on a street corner and was apparently intended to show how the Post Office employees serviced them. Separately the video shows something of what street traffic was like, including persons on bicycles, which from my perspective is far more interesting. (The video is not identified with any tags or other access points suggesting cyclists are part of this. Typical.)
First cyclist enters screen from left at around 15 seconds, riding parallel to a streetcar
The first bicycle rider shown looks to be an adult man riding at a moderate pace, likely to get from one place to another - bicycle as transportation that is faster than walking and less elaborate than using a horse-drawn carriage.
At about 20 seconds, second cyclist appears in upper middle of screen as traffic clears, riding across intersection from cross street
Much like the first bicycle rider, bicycle as transportation. I was amused by the man walking across the street in another direction, who ambles rather casually.
At 28 seconds, third cyclist appears from left, who has a boy sitting on the handlebars as a passenger
All the cyclists shown are traveling at a moderate pace. If you look closely, you can see the rider here pedaling steadily. It is almost certainly a single-speed bike.
At 32 seconds, fourth and last cyclist appears from right, cutting through the intersection
A little hard to tell, but this appears to be a younger rider, moving at a faster (but not that much) pace. He seems to ride in front of two women who are going to cross the street. He has a bag of some kind in his hand held to the handlebars.
No bicycle shown here, but you can see four different horse-drawn carriages at once near this Washington DC intersection in 1903
Most of the "traffic" shown during the video consists of horse-drawn carriages. Two different streetcars pass, one in either direction. There are a moderate number of pedestrians, and then the four cyclists, one with passenger. All the traffic is moving at a moderate pace - the horse-drawn carriages in particular. Most of the pedestrians are shown walking briskly and enter the intersection without pause - one suspects that absent many cars, concern about entering intersections was much more casual.
One assumes that this was shot during the middle of the day and that the various traffic elements are representative. The use of bicycles looks pretty high. Interesting.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Let's just make a joke out of it then it will be ok
The LimeBike people seem to think this is a helpful gesture towards getting their users to park their bikes appropriately. It includes several "do this" and "don't do that" points.
It is worth noting that the LimeBike User Agreement has this minimalist statement: Upon conclusion of your ride, the Bike must be parked at a lawful parking spot, i.e. the Bike cannot be parked on private property or in a locked area or in any other non-public space.
The video suggests that what is needed beyond "lawful" parking is to show good "parking etiquette." For example, do not lay the bike on the ground, but do park at a bike rack. Do not block driveways or pedestrian paths, do park "in this zone" - which is shown as the parking strip next to the roadway that in residential areas in particular is often grass or dirt. Do not park at bus stops or street corners, but do park next to a bus stop.
After listening to this the two main characters launch themselves into the sky leaving their bike on the path - whether this falls under "blocking a pedestrian path" or not is unclear. The don't stay to clarify.
In Washington DC at least, some of this gets a little ... complicated. What is a lawful place to park? Since I have observed the U.S. Park Police carrying away dockless bikes parked up near the Washington Monument (before it was recently closed off to everyone) apparently they aren't too thrilled with them on NPS territory, period.
The kind of "zone" that is shown as ideal isn't necessarily all that common around here. What is best is to park them at bike racks, but there simply aren't enough of them.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Someone's video of the trail I use for several miles of my commute. The video starts where I join the trail on my commute.
I understand why the camera angle is the way it is, to show the area traveled through more fully, but this doesn't show very well the condition of the trail itself and how (for example) the width varies. The last mile or so (starting around minute 11) shows the most recently "upgraded" part of the trail that is wider than most of the trails around here, but this isn't obvious from the video (alas). I also find it disconcerting when the video is playing at 300 percent of actual speed. . .
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Van Heesch has a channel in YouTube where they have videos of the $6,000 bike being used in different locales - here is Amsterdam
For good or bad, the metal portions of the bicycle are not made entirely of copper, rather it is a more regular sort of bike entirely plated in copper. There are lots of photos of the thing here. Don't want copper? Well, how about brass or perhaps zinc. (The possible appeal of zinc seems more than a little mysterious.)
None of this has to do with the traditional sort of Christmas "bicycle as gift" that I am familiar with, as shown in this photo from the Library of Congress ~
"Christmas of 1930" photograph from Library of Congress
Item Title-Christmas of 1930. Norma Horydczak on bicycle in front of Christmas tree, wide view.
Horydczak, Theodor, ca. 1890-1971, photographer.
Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Theodor Horydczak Collection, LC-H812-1190-004
Full record at this location.
Of course it was during the Depression. I guess she was lucky to get a bike at all.
Perhaps you have decided that you can't spring for a $6,000 copper-plated bicycle that isn't assembled and costs as much or more to have delivered ($250) as an OK occasional-use bike from a box-store - OK, fine, be that way. But Van Heesch has a copper-plated bell - surely you can afford a bell? Actually, perhaps you can't - the site says, "if you’re interested in purchasing a bell please write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org." Presumably they then look you up in various sources and come up with "your special" price. Or decide you can't afford what they want for these bells and then ignore you?
Saturday, November 5, 2011
A "new" product first patented in 1896
Other bloggers have looked at this device, the "Überhood," and critiqued its likely performance, for example Mr. BikeSnob and the Wired Gadget Lab. (It turns out an Überhood isn't a neighborhood that is better than all the rest.)
And I had a blog post about a similar product - patented in 1896!
One assumes they weren't trying to get the 1896 equivalent of $79 like the Uberhood people, but it still failed
I wonder why they haven't looked for Kickstarter funding.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
In the Seattle area, supposedly a very bike friendly region, two middle-aged cyclists were recently killed within a period of less than two weeks, one by a truck that went onto the shoulder where the cyclist was riding and another when an SUV made a left turn once oncoming car traffic had cleared, but not the oncoming cyclist. (In the second case, the driver got out, ascertained there was an accident, then drove away - hit and run.) Even though I read about cyclists getting killed all the time, for some reason these two events bother me.
At a conference recently (that had nothing to do with cycling) I heard a presentation by someone from Kickstarter, an organization (well, it's a commmercial company, actually) that provides a vehicle for getting start-up funding for various kinds of endeavors through their web site. Many are small cultural projects but others are efforts to start sales of products of one sort or another.
As it happens, Mr. Bikesnob NYC had a recent blog entry about a Kickstarter project for a bike turn signal system that is built into a left cycling glove. Kickstarter seeks solicitation primarily through videos; the "you turn" fundraiser video is below.
Mr. Bikesnob has lots of fun spoofing this Kickstarter video in various ways, although he leaves aside the main question I had (at first) which is whether the fellow is serious - the circuitry in the glove detects whether the cyclist points his hand up (for a right turn) or out to the left (for a left turn) and activates one of two LED arrows built into the glove. Yes, but . . . we inherited the "left hand straight up = right turn" thing from people driving cars (from when turn signals for cars were not always present!) and most cyclists now use their right arms to signal right turns. Since the left brake lever is for the front brake (also known as the brake that works best) I never signal right turns with my left hand - common sense dictates using my right hand to signal, stuck out to the right, and keeping my left hand on that brake lever. So if you wanted LED turn signals combined with gloves, it would be simplest to put a single arrow on each glove - assuming you think it makes sense to have such digital signals at all.
But I digress.
The real question I have is whether attempts to buttress cyclists' safety through developing new products to buy and use is a good approach. That it is an American approach, that much is obvious, but is it going to make it safer for cyclists?
Frankly I'm doubtful. The two things I believe that are needed to improve the safety of people on bicycles (vis a vis cars, trucks, etc.) is more people on bicycles, which inevitably leads to a lower accident rate for the cyclists; and, in tandem with that, a change in our transportation culture such that the "complete streets" concept makes sense to more and more people.
Of course, common sense says that cyclists are safer when they are visible to motorists if they use roads. (And of course there are laws requiring reflectors, lights, etc. for certain conditions.) This product, however, seems to contribute more to making cyclists more car-like, which doesn't seem particularly helpful. An LED turn signal system for bicycles contributes mostly to making cycling seem more dangerous and more complicated than it should be. The more safety equipment we pile onto cyclists, the less appealing it becomes, thus defeating the "more cyclists = fewer accidents" strategy.
Kickstarter has another cycling funding project - a bicycle brake light system.
It is suggested that having a brake light like a car's (that comes on when the brakes are applied) "has the potential to save many lives." As with the glove-signal system, it seems more to add to the complexity of cycling and to the impression that it is dangerous. Having a light or lights and a reflector to make a cyclist visible when it is dark and to take other measures to increase one's visibility to motorists makes good common sense but "I failed to realize the bicycle was stopping and therefore ran into it" isn't the problem I read about with cyclists hit by cars from the rear, it's the "I wasn't expecting a cyclist at that location, I didn't see him/her, and . . . " situations that are the problem. As the number of cyclists increases, the motorists get used to them, and expect to interact with them in their daily drives (and stop running into them so much). Also, eventually (a la Amsterdam) more and more drivers will be sometimes-cyclists, which can only help.
Now I'll get off my soapbox, such as it is. I'll put forth my thinking on bicycle helmets another time . . .
PS I asked a fellow from the Netherlands recently if he commuted by bike to work on Capitol Hill - his answer? "No, so many here talk about friends they know who got killed riding their bikes. No one in the Netherlands is ever killed riding their bike! It seems too dangerous."
Friday, July 8, 2011
The speeded-up version of Dutch commuters that received so much attention
The speeded up version does reduce the "boredom factor" and makes it clear more quickly how many cyclists are moving to and fro in such a business-like way.
Now however the blogger has released a real-time version, which I think makes the same points just as nicely.
Real-time video of same intersection
At about 45 seconds, a father (presumably) takes off from a stop with his son on a bike to his right (and daughter riding in a seat and behind him), putting his hand on his back to help get him up to speed. Don't see much of that here.
The mix of bikes is interesting, too, and easier to observe at the slower speed. Bikes in the Netherlands are obviously more about urban transportation and (much)less about sport - I saw only one or two drop handle road bikes among all these. Of course, part of that may well be that cycles are required to have a headlight and tail light and most of these bikes, used daily, have fenders (with the tail light built into the rear fender).
I find it interesting how practically everyone seems to be following the rules (or laws, I suppose). There are the occasional riders who don't stop for the light, but they are very few. And of course the sheer volume, even in real-time, makes an impression compared to the Washington DC area. Even in real time, the left turns by some of the cyclists seem almost choreographed. Of course, the real-time version takes five minutes and the speeded-up version takes only two. . .
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Many made comments about the cyclists being clearly breaking more laws than the pedestrians and the drivers or that the cyclists were much more zippy when breaking laws (apparently implying greater danger). No one commented on the heavy imbalance in favor of cars over bikes as a way to get around. And the cars are certainly taking up the most space and the infrastructure is entirely intended to serve the interests of cars (although failing to do so very well).
Oh, so you can have lots of bikes and not so many cars after all. Hmm.
In the NYC video, the videographer inserted red flashing boxes, circles etc., when bikes got too close to pedestrians, cars too close to bikes, and so on - a comment was that being close isn't necessarily dangerous. And we see that in the Netherlands where the tolerance for close maneuvering on bikes blows away anything one would see here.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Very well done video about implementation of bike lanes as part of a "complete streets" strategy. Local political types, journalists, drivers, pedestrians, business owners, and bike riders all comment. Well worth watching.
This simple video makes it clear that the argument in favor of bike lanes needs to be about how everyone can benefit, not just the bike riders. That everything about the roads shouldn't be about people in cars.
Stated as though obvious (and OK) is that slowing down speeding motorists as part of the general strategy benefits everyone, even the motorists (who are no longer terrorizing pedestrians and cyclists). Narrower lanes? They slow the cars down. Islands? The encourage the motorists to stop and wait for pedestrians.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Short article about the video that was produced as part of a contest to create one-minute advocacy videos in support of the environment. Besides being energetic, gives a good street-level view of that part of the world. (Uganda looks much the same - I have not been to Nairobi.)
The video apparently won the contest (http://www.1minutetosavetheworld.com/)
Monday, February 21, 2011
18 million bikes for less then 17 million people. And on a typical work day, five million of them take more than 14 million bike trips.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Wikipedia helpfully has an article about artistic cycling to provide some background and insights.