Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

eldavo
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Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby eldavo » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:10 pm

The Tyranny of Convenience by Tim Wu
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/16/opin ... ience.html

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Tim Wu on Convenience wrote:But we err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.


Try that in a new context:

eldavo on Convenience wrote:But we err in presuming driving is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, driving has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.


Going on, how do you relate to this...
Tim Wu wrote:To resist convenience — not to own a cellphone, not to use Google — has come to require a special kind of dedication that is often taken for eccentricity, if not fanaticism.


With a personal flavour:
eldavo wrote:To resist driving — not to own a car, not to use Uber — has come to require a special kind of dedication that is often taken for eccentricity, if not fanaticism.


The general attitude I find is people can't compute why you would choose their perception of inconvenience by not using a motor vehicle.
a former short contract employer wrote:"...but you wouldn't cycle, if you didn't have to!"

(I didn't have to, I even had a working Saab, eccentric whichever way you slice it!)

Reading further:
Tim Wu on Convenience wrote:Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes. We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides.


The view of cycling as a child's activity, that you grow out of after the adult initiation of getting a driving licence:
Tim Wu on Convenience wrote:Embracing inconvenience may sound odd, but we already do it without thinking of it as such. As if to mask the issue, we give other names to our inconvenient choices: We call them hobbies, avocations, callings, passions. These are the noninstrumental activities that help to define us. They reward us with character because they involve an encounter with meaningful resistance — with nature’s laws, with the limits of our own bodies — as in carving wood, melding raw ingredients, fixing a broken appliance, writing code, timing waves or facing the point when the runner’s legs and lungs begin to rebel against him.


Nice conclusion:
Tim Wu on Convenience wrote:Such activities take time, but they also give us time back. They expose us to the risk of frustration and failure, but they also can teach us something about the world and our place in it.

So let’s reflect on the tyranny of convenience, try more often to resist its stupefying power, and see what happens. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity.

chriso_29er
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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby chriso_29er » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:11 pm

I rode home from work tonight, 35km, 1hr:10min of exercise.
If I drove it would have taken me 45min - 1hr, I would then spend another hr getting some exercise.
Which one is more convenient?


a former short contract employer wrote:
"...but you wouldn't cycle, if you didn't have to!"

My car and fuel are provided by work, I certainly do ride even though I don't have to! lol
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eldavo
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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby eldavo » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:52 am

A relative could get 18k new vehicle lease package included in new job salary, but no substitute if not choosing the vehicle.

I always enjoyed the lost irony in comments made to me when riding all winter, then I'd ride home past people at lit sports grounds training for winter sports in the same weather.

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andrewjcw
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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby andrewjcw » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:19 am

I wouldn't be doing any exercise if I didn't ride, and I find not dying of a heart attack at 55 quite convenient.

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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby Gerry.M » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:23 am

chriso_29er wrote:I rode home from work tonight, 35km, 1hr:10min of exercise.
If I drove it would have taken me 45min - 1hr, I would then spend another hr getting some exercise.
Which one is more convenient?


This is me also. PT takes me around 1hr5m door to door when it all works. If something fails (train/late bus etc) it can be 2hrs +
Cycling takes me around 1hr10 no matter what the conditions or time of year + I get in exercise which I wouldn't otherwise have time for

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Tequestra
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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby Tequestra » Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:08 pm

Once you have used a washing machine, laundering clothes by hand seems irrational, even if it might be cheaper.

I've just loaded the bathroom trough with the last ten odd days of worn clothes and filled that trough with hot water left over after the morning shower, (and switched off the circuit-breaker to the electric storage HWS so there is not a watt of electricity wasted in the laundry process thesedays). It has been the same hand-washing process since 2014, which was initially caused by both the necessity of having moved in here where there is no laundromat within at least a 1km radius and no excess cash to spend on a machine.

The motives for this recent reversion to hand-washing are quite similar to my reasons to opt for the electric bicycle rather than a car. Necessity - basically a lack of spare funds at the time it started. Then there was the carbon debate, which was still a hot political topic at the ABC website in 2014, and probably still is now if you don't mind facebook. I don't believe in such excises as the carbon tax, because such taxes are regressive, and force the poor into compliance with the dictates of the same authorities who are inherently less affected and can still use just as much electricity as a poor man would would have otherwise done anyway. Still, I believe in education and rational common sense, and whether the sea is rising and the Earth is warming or not, it was 'convenient' at the time to go along with the 'progressive' mentality and challenge myself to reduce that carbon footprint to the minimum possible without sacrificing my computer time.

Fitness was never a motive, however hand-washing does seem to do a lot of good for the upper body, especially at the end of the month when it comes time to wash the linen (single vegetarian who showers before bed too, so please don't be too repulsed by monthly linen laundering). I have also noticed a welcome change in aerobic fitness since resuming cycling last September, because even with electric assistance, with 250w, I'm pedalling flat out up each hill, as well as pushing almost as hard when on flat road in heavy traffic.

The theory is that the closer I can get to the speed of that traffic, the more time the driver/s behind have to see me up ahead, and plan how they will move around me and merge with right-line traffic or avoid oncoming traffic on single carriageways. In practice I have proven this on motorcycles in Asia, and I do believe that the safest pace to ride in heavy city traffic, (providing the bike has adequate suspension etc. to handle unforseen potholes and drains), is as fast as the bus if possible. The greatest fear I have is being hit by a car from behind, worst of all at the right handlebar tip which would offer less chance of evasive maneouvring. The closer I can get to the pace of passing traffic, the less total chances of being hit because less cars go past, and those that do also have more time to see me and choose way to pass safely to their 'convenience'. This is how you can still get fit on an electric bicycle. The motor just means that when I am worn out and need a breather, the bike can still coast along while I recover which would look and feel like failure without that assistance.

The Jetsons was a fun cartoon for kids, who are generally comparatively fitter and more active than adults if they don't sit watching tv all afternoon, but us adults do need to consider the losses we incur as well as the benefits of convenient mod-cons such as electric washing machines and carbon-emitting vehicles. Namely, our own fitness, and also our carbon footprint. I really liked Mr Wu's article.
Viva le Tour Electrique' !!!

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Irony

Postby Thoglette » Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:11 pm

eldavo wrote:I always enjoyed the lost irony in comments made to me when riding all winter, then I'd ride home past people at lit sports grounds training for winter sports in the same weather.

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Stop handing them the stick! - Dave Moulton
"People are worthy of respect, ideas are not." Peter Ellerton, UQ

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Tequestra
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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby Tequestra » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:22 pm

The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity.


It just occurred to me this morning that a slim roller-door around 1200mm wide, if there is just a little bit of grease in the right places, is not hard to raise nor lower at all, compared to something like a roller-door at a warehouse. For some reason the post office where I went on Thursday has a narrow electric roller-door outside the front door. It was only this morning whe it dawned on me that this electric roller door was not entirely a matter of security, because a plain unelectrified roller door with a ring for a padlock in the floor would have been much simpler if it was just the security. It was another 'convenience' from The Jetsons that doesn't work when the power is off, like it was at quarter to nine on Thursday morning at the post office.

Before 09:00, the manager and his friend (not dressed for office work but with ladder) were up on a step ladder out the front fiddling with a screwdriver in the hole in the overhead panel, and then ay 09:00 the power went back on, but because they'd messed up the alignment with the screwdriver, the door stil wouldn't open, and there were at least five of us all standing outside at 09:15 waiting for the post office management to work out how to get the front roller door to open. All this electric catastrophe was brought to you courtesy an electric motor on a roller door that didn't need one. I think there's something about electric bicycles in there for all of us, don't you?
Viva le Tour Electrique' !!!

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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby eldavo » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:21 pm

Also sounds like the misguided security of barriers to honest people in order to feel secure, rather than the cold reality that serious crime would derail and destroy the external roller door barrier if motivated to get past it.

Re: electric bicycles, that's as broad in types and uses as saying bicycles. Convenient enjoyable transport is a selling point like electric scooters or skateboards, the induced demand and inevitable congestion increase will get people finding easier ways.

In the ACF Endomondo commuter challenge on forum here, you see that recreational cycling which doesn't replace another mode of transport, does not qualify as commuting distance achieved. By that measure there's lots of useful electric bicycles, scooters and skateboards compared to lots of uselesss recreational bicycles. Like the false idea that art is useless though, we know recreation isn't useless. Important on the WA Labour Day long weekend celebrating the 888 Labour movement, while I see office jobs advertising 10hr working days (12,6,6 modern era).
Swinging back to convenience, it certainly improves the system dependence for the wealth of the industrialists and their modern likeness.
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/pro ... 88/2987598
So we're conveniently getting back to 1817 10hr days.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-hour_day

I've personally had electric bicycles as a tool in my car/motor free commutes since 2010. Most recently for the final 7 months of 2017 from June I used electric assist to transition from working from home recreational riding low bike fitness, to 84km a day new commute. From 2018 new year I decided to drop the 20min trip speed and physical contingency crutch of electric out of my commute options. 2 months on and it's nice in the longer summer now Autumn days with fine weather. By the time winter storms return however I'll bring the electric commuter back to the options. I haven't yet articulated exactly why pedal only in a predominately flat commute feels so good, the lighter weight and responsiveness of a 6kg bike to a 12kg bike don't seem as radical as the 12kg to a 25kg bike. Like hammers they all have their place in a toolbox, and I enjoy their own qualities.

I do keep in mind the relative convenience lazy ease riding is compared to the lean runner with backpack, where you stand depends on where you sit, convenience in moderation, not all moderation so as to be mediocre.

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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby zebee » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:28 pm

I have put an electric motor on the recumbent trike. The two wheeler is still me-powered, the trike is now e-powered.

I used to mix train and bike, now the 20km to work including That Bastard Hill is done on the trike.

It takes me a fraction less time home garage door to work garage door than bike/train did using the quickest method (ride to Strathfield, train to Eastwood, ride to Mac Park)

But... it is reliable And right now trains are not. So the e-trike is more convenient than bike+train and more convenient than motorcycle too. The motorcycle is faster by around 15 mins at the same time of day getting to work as I start my trip just before 9am, but going home... Going home I have to filter like crazy on my large touring bike, and that is hard work. It's hard on the clutch and the clutch hand, and can be stressful when the lane width tightens or the 4WDs are out in force. It takes longer than the morning run, whereas the e-trike doesn't care about traffic or train timetables.

The e-trike is fun to ride. I hammer it on the flat as hard as I can, using the motor to help get up to speed then going over the motor's limit. Get to a hill and the motor helps me get up it so my average speed is still high. Peds on the bike path, just get on the grass (trike don't care about traction or sharp jump from grass to cement) and pass them. Hit the corners with the inside wheel braked to start the turn then lifted and the back pushing hard with pedal and motor, way too much fun! But if it is hot or I'm knackered, then slow down and let the motor do much more work.

While hitting the throttle some times to speed up for a moment is good, the pedalling is still the point. That's what makes it fun, that's what gets the endorphins going, that's what makes me enjoy the ride.

The trike's a bit too heavy unassisted for 5 days a week for me, but with the motor well it's tons more fun for that trip than any other method. And equally or more convenient.

If the motor dies, it isn't as if I am stranded. I'll get home, just take longer and I'll be more tired. E-trike with dead motor isn't toting any more weight than the unassisted version did with trailer and panniers full of market and supermarket shopping. You have no idea how many apples and bottles of tonicwater this household can get through in a week.

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Tequestra
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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby Tequestra » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:35 pm

Thank you both for your electric-powered replies, elDavo and Zebee. You see I had a good think on Friday night and yesterday, about electric bikes, and how nicely they fit with the ethos of this wonderful forum here, and was having a few doubts about whether my own 'non-conventional' electric dreams are welcome here. You have made me feel less of an outsider.

There is one thing I admit, as demonstrated by that security/convenience failure of a roller-door, and that is that an electric bike is not so much fun if it has a flat battery.

Currently I am building a little 24" 24v oversized BMX bike with twin 12v model-airplane LiFePO4 lightweight batteries, which should be almost as light to pedal and maneouvre with the small, lightweight electrics as it was before adding them ... almost. I just weighed it on the bathroom scales at 20 kg standing on its back wheel. It still feels quick and light to handle like an overgrown BMX, even with the heavy rear-hub motor and flat batteries.

In any case, sometimes, like down hills, (or into a gusty crosswind?), mass is a good thing. I read with interest your comparison of the differences between 6 & 12kgs, compared to that between 12kg and 25kg. My biggest, heaviest bike weights 27kg and I feel more comfortable and safe on that in traffic than I would on the little Axis Apollo Red Radius Dirt Bike with the 24v 24" config. It feels different, and requires a different physical style to a light bike, of course.

I have liked heavy bikes since 2001, when the old Raleigh 12-speed I converted into a kind of tourer with a long single-wheel trailer attached weighted just over 100kg fully-loaded with a full 10l of water in the tank. That bike took a good 400m or more to make it to a 25km/h cruising speed on flat road with no wind. Once it got going however, the inertia of 100kg with much the same wind drag as a 15kg bike did seem to help keep things moving in the right direction when there was some kind of light headwind, and half-way up the next hill.

It was not, I suppose, any kind of constant physical advantage. It would defy Newton's laws to suggest that the heavier the bike, the faster it goes, but a heavy bike does seem to take on a smoothness of its own, and like I find a motorbike more secure than a bicycle in traffic, A heavy bike makes me feel more secure, for some illogical, bumper-car-based reason.

Zebee, I've always been afraid of trikes because of the gyroscopic dilemmas that could happen at speed if one side wheel hits a bump that the other one doesn't, but this is also due to my complete lack of experience. It a mere tricycle-phobia in my own head, until I prove otherwise.

What makes me wish I could see a photo of this trike is that I can't visualise how a recumbent trike could get through traffic jams more easily than an upright motorcycle, even with panniers or touring storage racks etc. Probably my lack of tricycle experience. I would feel quite alarmed, with my head down low, unable to scan across the other traffic to see whatever might be about to go wrong. This fear is all in my head, but it would be great to see a photo of the electric trike if you happen to get the chance one day.

Just to conclude before I rant on any further, I do see electric bikes as a worthwhile kind of convenience, because it is the added support of that motor which has firstly encouraged me to learn about and experiment with the electrics of this new 'fad' and then subsequently made it easier on my old body to get back into cycling again, knowing that I can always stop pushing and catch my breath with the throttle open for a few hundred metres, and the commuting gets done despite the physical condition of the rider on the day.

In the process, the physical condition of the rider gradually improves with all the exercise gotten from the other half the time, up hills and in heavy traffic, when the rider does have to pedal as hard as possible. I'm keen on exploring the electric future, as a commuter seeking aerobic fitness. I just thought it might be a peace-offering to any anti-electric lobbyists lurking in the shadows, that just like that useless electric roller-door, there is no motor where there is no power and there is no power where there is flat battery. In that way at least, electric bikes do indeed, suck. ;-)

Have a Happy Sunday.


PS: What better Sunday of the year to contemplate the eight-hour day than this?
Viva le Tour Electrique' !!!

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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby zebee » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:52 pm

Oh the trike doesn't do traffic jams. It is not at all a heavy traffic road bike.

E-powered it can get out of the way faster up the hills so it doesn't block too much, but if I was going to spend a lot of time on roads where I had to slither between cars then a trike is not the thing to use.

I do get in places where I'm in traffic, I just become a slow car then. Tend to do the same on the 2 wheel 'bent, tight manouveres in narrow spaces is not the recumbent strength, 2 wheels or 3.

The trike is a bike path and back street bike, not a city centre one. What it is, is comfortable, stable, and way too much bloody fun.

zebee
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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby zebee » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:52 pm

Oh the trike doesn't do traffic jams. It is not at all a heavy traffic road bike.

E-powered it can get out of the way faster up the hills so it doesn't block too much, but if I was going to spend a lot of time on roads where I had to slither between cars then a trike is not the thing to use.

I do get in places where I'm in traffic, I just become a slow car then. Tend to do the same on the 2 wheel 'bent, tight manouveres in narrow spaces is not the recumbent strength, 2 wheels or 3.

The trike is a bike path and back street bike, not a city centre one. What it is, is comfortable, stable, and way too much bloody fun.

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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby fat and old » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:54 am

Convenience. That's what we require as we are on the hamster wheel. Too busy working to live so we adopt every convenient method to do so. The more we adopt, the more we have to pay. We have to earn more. And on and on it goes. The idiots who tried to enforce a paperless society have a lot to answer for.

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Tequestra
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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby Tequestra » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:24 am

zebee wrote:Oh the trike doesn't do traffic jams. It is not at all a heavy traffic road bike.

Aaah comprehende'! I misunderstood your fourth paragraph and had aerial views in my head of a 600cc Paris-Dakar type of enduro bike maneouvring through a traffic jam longside a recumbent trike in the next lane 'filter', and I was thinking, "How can you be more comfortable on the trike than even a big, loaded motorcycle?" I understand now.
Thank you very much for clearing that minor confusion, Zebee. Have a safe and great Wednesday.
Viva le Tour Electrique' !!!

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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby zebee » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:55 pm

Ah you see the motorbike pretty much has to take the trafficked roads. It can ratrun but only to a point, bridges and no through roads and right turns every other bugger trying the same thing mean better to stay on the wide lane roads.

Whereas the trike can use the offroad paths (at least 80% of the commute) and the onroad is just a link from path to path barely a ratrunner in sight. One tricky road crossing which I could avoid if I wanted but as I usually get across within 5 min I don't bother.

Bicycle infrastructure is vital! Without it we are all fighting the cars on difficult roads.

Zebee

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Tequestra
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Re: Convenience: Double edged sword for cycling advocacy

Postby Tequestra » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:54 pm

zebee wrote:It can ratrun but only to a point ..

I don't want to display my stupidity in public nor hijack the thread, but I am not clear on 'ratrunner'. Is a ratrun when you ride a motorcycle off the end of, eg. a cul-de-sac, and then across a footpath to the end of another cul-de-sac or, basically skip through offroad stretches to get from one legal road to another?

zebee wrote:Bicycle infrastructure is vital! Without it we are all fighting the cars on difficult roads.

There seems to be a bit less courtesy and a bit more road rage around in Perth now than in the last century, and I have been unaware of my own 'fighting spirit' getting around the streets among the traffic since getting on the bike again last year.

It has actually been reading this forum last week which has helped me to become aware of my own attitude to cars, (and drivers whom I have presumed most recreational walkers on the so-called 'bike paths' also are) which has been the wrong attitude for me to have in mind as a cyclist with mild but chronic autophobia. I noticed a change in the cars on the main road yesterday (an hour later than my usual 8am time), and that caused some kind of reciprocal courtesy from me back to my fellow citizens, walking and driving, and it was actually a very nice, casual, relaxed ride for a change rather than the life-threatening peril which it has so often been these past six months.

I know it won't last, and the difference was likely because I left an hour later after the angry peak-hour road-rager traffic that was late to work had arrived there and gotten themselves off the road by the time I rode on it. It won't last, this extraordinary peace I found yesterday morning by surprise, but if I hold onto what I can in my own heart, and try to keep the good mojo working wherever I go, as much as I can be lucky enough to not encounter the dangerous drivers, then it might have some small quality of contagion, and help others to see the good side of events on the road, and we'll all live happily ever after.

What's the bet I have some angry words to report back after my Friday ride, and once again my phobia of cars and drivers is back to work as usual? I will try to avoid it by postponing Friday's ride until after 9am, because it worked yesterday like that, Very nicely.

Now please excuse me if I do not reply to any reply of yours regarding the definition of 'ratrunner' because I really don't want to start hijacking someone else's thread and going too far off the topic of mod-cons and The Jetsons.
Viva le Tour Electrique' !!!

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