Weekly Readings

Here we are once again with an installment of Weekly Readings. The articles posted below cover some new ground, as well as explore an issue we have discussed in the past. And lest I forget, you can email me with any comments/questions/complaints at mike@huckleberrybicycles.com   Car Plows Through Zeitgeist's Bike Rack, Multiple Fixies Injuried Disregarding the tounge firmly planted in cheek title, the Uptown Almanac was first on the scene to describe the single car auto accident that caused the destruction of at least 20 bikes and all but one of the bike racks at the new corral in front of Zeitgeist on the corner of Duboce and Valencia. The driver stated that she was attempting to slow her car down- even pulling the emergency brake- before she barreled into the bike corral. Not only was the corral and bicycles destroyed, most distressing was the news that a bystander was injured and had his leg broken. This news brings a few issues to light. First, as was mentioned in this forum a few weeks ago, bike corrals are great;  this accident not withstanding. They still must be placed in safe places and must be securely fixed to the ground. I have voiced some concern about the placement of this corral. Cars flying from the freeway onto Duboce, zooming to the intersection to take their right onto Valencia was a recipe for disaster. We must find a traffic calming measure for this intersection. A bulb-out before and after the corral could be a nice change. In addition, why not add bollards to on-street bike corrals? Whatever the solution is, I hope that the bike corral is replaced and the city moves ahead to add more on and off-street bike parking.

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 8th St. Buffered Bike Lane a Step Up, But When Will SoMa Really Feel Safe?

Welcome news in SOMA as 8th St. has been re-striped with an extra wide bike lane. Although the new lane is wider than the old one, the above article asks if this is enough, or are SOMA streets still as dangerous as they were before? I used to ride on 8th St. daily in the old bike lane. Although I didn't have much of a problem, right turning cars onto Mission being the lone exception, I understand the need for slower streets and a safer bike lane. No matter what kind of cycling infrastructure is added to 8th, if cars are still travelling at the daredevil speeds they are now, 8th St. will never be a truly safe street to cycle on. One idea being tossed around is turning the freeway width one way street into a narrower, and in effect slower, two way street. Not only would cars travel at slower speeds, the neighborhood would be much easier to navigate if the one way streets are converted to two way traffic. At its current width, there is no reason to doubt that 8th St. would work with two way traffic, on street parking on both sides of the street, and either a fully separated bike lane  between the curb and the parked cars or the bike lane system currently being used.

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Bike Modification Lets You Ride on Train Tracks, Probably Get Hit by Train

For the next time you feel like taking MUNI, but don't want to pay the fare (legally).

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Have we broken Olympic records for the last time? 

Although the article does not mention cycling specifically, the question of if there is an absolute limit to human performance is thought provoking. The main reason why cycling was not included is the variable of equipment. Hi-modulus carbon frames, positive drag wheels, helmets made to make one look like the creature in Alien, all take the athlete out of the equation. Space age swimsuits or ultra light running sneakers may improve performance, as well, however they play a far less crucial role.

The article begins by describing how much faster and stronger today's athlete is to the athlete of yesteryear. Gavin Thomson from Significance Magazine states:

 ... today's athletes would scarcely resemble those from a century ago. The winner of the men's 5,000m in Beijing ran at a pace that won the 1,500m in 1908, while the winner of the women's marathon would have won the men's race of 1908 by an entire half hour.

In the early 20th century records were not just broken, but were demolished. The athlete pool was smaller, athletes were not necessarily able to train full time, have access to professional coaches and doctors, nor did they have the same knowledge of nutrition (both natural and synthetic).  This has all changed. The skill level between top class athletes is smaller than ever. The records that were routinely being decimated are now being beaten less frequently and with a smaller difference of time (in 16 years the 100m running record has dropped by .16 seconds).

Written one year ago, Chuck Klosterman, asked a computer scientist and mathmetician, Reza Noubary, what he thinks is the fastest a human can run the 100m dash. His response of 9.44 seconds means that if humans continue to improve speeds at the current rate of .01 seconds every year in the 100m, we are about twenty five years away from witnessing the "pinnacle of human performance."

What do you think of the idea that there is a peak human performance? I disagree that we can speculate what a record 100m time will be 20, 50, 100 years from now. Sports aside, I don't know what a human will look like 100 years from now. Breakthroughs in science and nutrition will no doubt alter the course of humanity. With talks of designer babies, who knows what the limit is? Just like baseball historians break up the record books into the dead ball and live ball eras, Olympic record books may have to be split up between the human and post-human world.