h a l f b a k e r y
The phrase 'crumpled heap' comes to mind.
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So, although it's obvious that the red lights are nothing
more than a communist plot to foil our driving freedoms,
they're everywhere. Fortunately, these red light incidents
are transient and before long good old-fashioned
takes hold, indicated by the non-communist green
the normal strategy for dealing with red lights, is
there and wait them out. The problem with this, is that
the amount of time is variable... much like the
endurance of a
communist dictatorship. So, you're unsure; do you wait
out the red light by impatiently rocking backwards and
forwards on the clutch in anticipation of a short-lived
Räterepubliken-style red light? or, is this red light going
have longevity, like Cuba? In this situation, you may as
well take the time to pop the handbrake on, re-tune the
radio and go on a speculative hunt for mints that you
sure were in the glove box.... or possibly the passenger
door bin.... ooh! look! a pound coin!!
So, I propose a little LED display, visible only to the first
or 3 cars, which counts down the time to regime-change.
This will achieve two things: 1. that irritating gap
the green light and the cars actually starting to move will
be trimmed by a little bit.... leading to a whole load less
idling on a nationwide scale. 2. that the er... impatient
chap in the BMW 3-series won't have to go to lean on his
horn quite so often.... I mean, this only arises because
he's taken the clutch-grinding strategy and the person up
front is all Radio 4 and mints.
[tatterdemalion, Jul 21 2012]
(?) Why don't we see these great countdown stoplights in U.S?
Baked, full and half. [tatterdemalion, Jul 21 2012]
||I know I've been someplace where the red lights had a little
strobe in the middle that began to blink as the signal
change drew nigh, but I can't remember where it was.
There may also have been a tone.
||On the off chance that I'm imagining all of that, however,
I'll [+] this. Very attractive idea. Bun in 3... 2... 1...
||Bun for correctly deducing that "traffic
management" schemes are a communist plot
to undermine Western enconomies, and for
mentioning Radio 4.
||Since many modern traffic signals use LEDs,
it would be easy to use an addressable array
and have the Amber lamp show a countdown,
going to solid Amber/solid Red just before
the switch to Green.
||Have rollers in the road level with the wheels of the first car. That way the drivers can engage gears and rev like mad. The rollers are automatically locked when the light goes green.
||[-] This would lead to an increase in traffic accidents.
You're not supposed to proceed through an
until the light turns green AND the intersection is safe
enter. Someone fixated on watching the countdown
to get off the line as soon as possible would likely not
notice the idiot barreling down the cross street trying
beat the yellow, or even the guy still in the
waiting to finish his turn.
||[Alterother], as a motorcyclist you should know
can only assume by way of explanation that you're
unfamiliar with how to handle traffic lights safely,
that there are none in your state. Let's go riding
L.A. sometime and you'll see what I mean.
||I know how to handle traffic lights just fine (with a light
hand on the clutch and my head on a swivel), and after
days' riding around London I'm reasonably certain I could
adapt to L.A. I definitely see your point, but I'm thinking
along the lines of being the quickest one off the mark at
the intersection (or at least having that option). I've
actually had my rear wheel bumped by a car behind me
because I was first in line and, craning my neck upwards,
could only see _my_ light, while the impatient dickhead
behind me was watching the lights on the intersecting lane
and let go of his brakes when that signal turned red.
Knowing exactly when the change will come means a rider
can take the initiative. It might even help us get the jump
on Left-turn Larry.
||Still, I'll take that ride with you if we ever meet up (we
might, my brother-in-law lives in Van Nuys). You teach me
about city riding,
and I'll show you the best mountain rides you never knew
||Hey [ytk], just make sure you tick the "No
Cervidae" box on the form
||[Alterother] is your bike right-hand drive?
||Not such a problem here, [8th]. In this town you're far
to be killed by a Mercedes than a moose.
||// [Alterother] is your bike right-hand drive? //
||Umm... No. As far as I'm aware, with the exception of the
aptly-named 'suicide shifter', the clutch lever is always on
the left and the throttle on the right.
||This has led to an interesting phenomena, actually:
motorcycle ridership brings with it a kind of very loose
fraternity. Riders do not have to know, approve of, or like
one another, but we do all acknowledge and, to a certain
extent, look out for one another. This is most readily
observable in the way we greet each other in passing.
||In the US, the greeting is a special wave; the left hand
leaves the handlebars and is extended downward at an
roughly 45-55 degrees to the road, fingers held together
like a blade, palm facing the oncoming rider. If the
encounter occurs when the clutch is engaged, simply
raising the middle and index fingers of the left hand is
||The universal greeting is very different in the UK, however,
since riders pass each other on the right and therefore
waving would mean removing one's hand from the throttle
(inadvisable under the best of conditions). Instead, British
bikers nod to each other in passing, but since it is difficult
to discern a traditional forward nod from somebody
wearing a helmet, the gesture is instead a funny kind of
sideways head-jerk. To the uninformed it might look like
some form of palsy. It took us a couple of days to catch on,
and for the rest of the trip we practiced in the mirror at
night to make sure we were doing it properly--didn't want
to offend, after all.
||The real problem, of course, was when we came home and
accidentally did the sideways-head-jerk at the riders here.
||[ytk], if you ever go riding in the countryside and meet a
rider coming around a bend who has his/her hand raised,
thumb touching the helmet and fingers splayed, they're not
making fun of you: it means 'moose/deer/other large
animal ahead'. I thought it was a local thing until I met
some riders from the Midwest who told me it's common
with rural riders all over the country.
||Bikes have the huge advantage of being
independant of the road convention they are
||There are variants; some older bikes have
interesting control layouts (lever shift on left
of tank combine with left foot clutch; right
thumb quadrant throttles; Right foot clutch
with left foot gearshift.
||Dozens of different configurations were tried
in the early part of the last century, as
manufacturers and racing riders scrambled
for performance and market share, or that
elusive racing 'edge'.
||The modern bike control layout is a sort of
de-facto consensus, but given the layout of
many bikes it would be relatively easy to
swap many controls around- even the
||Using hydraulic linkages, it would be quite
possible to implement:
||Up/down gearshift on left twistgrip, throttle
on right foot, clutch on left foot, front brake
on right hand, rear brake on left.
||Even easier on some bikes would be:
||Gearshift on tank, clutch on right foot, rear
brake on left hand lever, left boot free for
kicking out at passing cats.
||London is an interesting place - You rode there? Brave man. I noted that everyone had cool gear - a rider told me being improperly clad led to police harassment.
||In the UK, a hat meeting safety specifications
is mandatory. Everything else is optional, but
police motorcyclists will often accost those
riding without gloves and in a T-shirt, shorts
and trainers, and explain that no matter
how "cool" it may look and how cool it feels
on a hot day, even parting company from a
lightweight scooter at low speed can result in
an instantaeous, involuntary and
excruciatingly painful session of extreme
||SSince the traffic is often dense and slow-
moving, the biggest dangers to bikers in
London tend to be kamikaze pedestrians,
buses, and inconsiderately-parked buildings.
||It wasn't so much bravery as necessity; we flew into
Heathrow and the bike rental place was right in the middle
of the city, as were the destinations for our first day of
touristing. But I'll still take credit for the bravery, thank
you. It wasn't just riding in London; it was riding in London
with very little knowledge of British motorcycle etiquette,
with my wife and 100 lbs of gear on the back of a bike that
was 150 lbs heavier, about 18" longer, and with 300cc more
displacement than anything I'd ever ridden before.
||We always ride with full gear (minus those silly leather
chaps): helmet, jacket, hard-knuckled gloves, high-ankle
boots, and long pants, usually denim. Always. The only
time the police in England hassled us was when we stopped
under an overpass to don our rain gear, which we found
very ironic; in the UK, motorcyclists can split lanes, ride on
either shoulder, and use bus/taxi lanes--all of which are
illegal in most of the US--but they can't shelter under
bridges, which is common practice here.
||//This is most readily observable in the way we greet each
other in passing.//
||True, but you have to be careful. Nothing is more
embarrassing than waving at a fellow motorcyclist and then
realizing as he passes that he's actually riding a /scooter/.
||Interestingly, sport bike riders will usually wave to Harleys,
but only seem to get a wave back maybe a quarter of the
||//hand raised, thumb touching the helmet and fingers
||Thanks for the tip. I'm pretty sure I would have understood
such a gesture, though. The tales of suddenly materializing
deer strike fear into the hearts of even the most city-bound
urban riders. That said, L.A. is a great place to ride.
Plenty of lovely canyon roads not too far outside the city,
and you can lane-split during rush hour traffic.
||// [Alterother] is your bike right-hand drive? // Umm... No. As far as I'm aware, with the exception of the aptly-named 'suicide shifter', the clutch lever is always on the left and the throttle on the right.
||My question was not as facetious as it seemed. I understand the difference lies in which direction the head lamp is preferentially tilted.
||//long pants, usually denim//
||Just as long as you don't think denim provides any
protection from road rash whatsoever. Having gone down
and skidded 30 feet in neck to ankle Kevlar, I can tell you
that the only thing denim would do is soak up the blood a
bit where it hadn't worn through after about a yard across
||[tatD], only some bikes have aimed headlights, but in
do it is often simple to swap the orientation. I did notice
that our rental in England had the lights aimed to the
right. Actually, I thought your question was serious, so I
tried to give it a serious answer before I went rambling...
||[ytk], I'd heard that lane-splitting was legal in L.A. Just
there, or in the rest of CA too?
||Your city-slicker's fear of wildlife is not unfounded. I may
be famous both locally and here at HB for slamming my
KLR into a deer at 45mph, but that horror story eclipses
the dozens that I've avoided. The first 'stoppie' I ever did
was completely unintentional; a moose stepped out in
front of me one evening and I braked so hard that I rode
the front wheel for about ten or twelve yards (the next day
I went to the sand pit with a dirtbike and practiced the
maneuver in case I ever have to do it again). Another time
I actually dragged my knee swerving to avoid a deer that
suddenly reversed direction in the middle of the road (and
no, I don't think denim prevents roadrash; in fact, I can
testify that it does not). For
all that, however, I'm still more nervous sitting at a
crowded 4-way, waiting for somebody to do something
stupid when the lights change.
||Lane splitting is legal throughout California. Frankly,
it amazes me that it's not anywhere else in the
country. I was rear ended (in my car) on the freeway
the other day, in stop and go traffic. I was
unharmed, and the car only suffered a little damage,
but the thought of what would have happened were I
riding a motorcycle terrified me. Then it occurred to
me that, if I were on a bike, I wouldn't have been
rear-endedI'd be safely between two lanes of
stopped (or nearly stopped) cars. Some riders tend
to do it irresponsibly, and that's when it can be
dangerous, but when traffic is stopped between lanes
is probably the safest place to be.
||Anyway, if you ever make it to L.A. drop me a line.
Give me some advance warning, thoughI haven't
gone riding in a couple of years and I'll need to get
the bike(s) out of mothballs.
||That's circular reasoning. The reason lane splitting
should be illegal is because it's illegal. So, change
the laws and the way drivers are educated. There's
no reason it can't work in other states besides
California, given that it works just fine in numerous
other countries that permit it.
||As for your experience in Atlanta, well, riding like a
dumbass will get you killed no matter how or where
you do it. Going 20-30 mph in stopped traffic where
people are getting out of their cars on the freeway
and not wearing a helmet both pretty much qualify
you as a grade-A dumbass on their own. Doing both
simultaneously reaches a whole new level of stupid.