Cars Vs Cyclists – but who’s missing?

Cars Vs Cyclists – but who’s missing?

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It’s the age old argument of who has more rights and who should have more rights – a car or bicycle.

They hate each other, and if one ever posts criticizing the other, within the first few comments you will see things get personal or even violent.

A Facebook friend recently posted a satirical blog about things cyclists do that annoy car drivers, and literally got a death threat from a cyclist for it!

Some of my most viewed YouTube videos, with hundreds of thousands of views, are ones that feature a cyclist or even just that ‘c’ word in the title. To read the comments you’d think I hate cyclists myself – and very few will ever know or bother to watch the videos where I’ve stood up and even protected cyclists.

Hell, some of my best friends are cyclists. Personally, the thought of cycling on modern roads scares the shit out of me and it’s a disaster waiting to happen, but I digress…

There’s someone missing from these road wars.

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Motorcycles.

Whenever legislation is passed, new rules created or road markings laidd, they NEVER think about motorbikes.

Never.

How else do you explain Advanced Stop Lines (ASL’s)? These are the boxes you’ll find at traffic lights as a refuge for cyclists, so they can safely filter through and safely set off first when the lights turn green to keep cyclists safe from cars. No other vehicles are allowed to stop within the ASL.

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Wait – what?

So a motorbike, that has filtered to the front, is not offered the same safety? Even though the biker is just as vulnerable? Even though that motorbike will out-accelerate very easily any car or cyclist, so it makes even more sense for them to be at the front?

Clearly, when they set the ASL laws they’d forgotten about motorbikes, and it was all car vs cycle as usual.

Birmingham is quite good, but a lot of other cities won’t let motorbikes use bus lanes, which makes no sense at all if cyclists can.

There’s never any talk of special motorcycle only roads or paths, despite everyone having a cry that motorbikes account for 99.4% of road fatalities or whatever. Why?

Oh the Government will give you money off a new cycle to save the environment and cut congestion, and celebrate you, and give you lots of free, secure parking – but not if you want a motorcycle! And you’re going to give thousands of cars cheap road tax (yeah I know it’s not road tax – I just wanted you to have THAT rant again!) but motorbikes still pay full, and quite often more than car fees.

WTF is all that about?

All we do get is signs put up by the side of the road saying esoteric things like “THINK BIKE!” that nobody really knows what it means or who it’s there for? I mean, are they to get cars to look out for bikers or are they to get bikers to stop riding like idiots?

How about you remember the other group out there cutting congestion on our over-crowded roads chock-full of single-occupancy steel boxes?

Remember traffic jams are a car problem – not a bike one. And that means BOTH lots of bikes.

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WINTER: Anti-Freeze/Coolant Time – SAVE MONEY!

WINTER: Anti-Freeze/Coolant Time – SAVE MONEY!

And you thought this blog was all just ranting and porn?

Shame on you!

I’m actually going to pass on a tip here that will save you money!

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Longer-term followers will know that The Mighty Uno (my first car) died at the start of this year.  Well, it was going fine, but it was blowing out all its coolant, so probably a head gasket problem.  Not that it’s really relevant…

Sooo… After riding bikes through Winter before this, I’d never skimped on anti-freeze.  Basically, what happens in severe cold is the fluid freezes inside your engine, and as it freezes water expands.  This will crack the shit out of your pipes and even the engine block itself, meaning you can be left with a huge bill and a very broken car/bike.

It’ s not worth saving money here.  Coolant prices have soared over the last few years so you’re looking at paying about £30 for 3 litres of decent name-brand stuff – that’s much cheaper than a new engine, so it’s a bargain!  You also have to change it every 3 years or so or it loses its effectiveness.

Still with me?

So rather than paying £10+ per day topping up the Fiat, I stocked up on a load of pre-mixed anti-freeze from a local Pound Land (for £1 per litre, surprisingly!).  I scrapped The Mighty Uno back in February, and left the rest of the anti-freeze sat in the garage.  Then recently I bought the old Kawasaki GPZ500, and as I had no idea how long its coolant had been in there, decided to change it.  And remembered the cheap-ass coolant.

I tested it with a proper tester for a laugh, and all the balls floated (it’s very technical), indicating that this cheap stuff was good for at least -30c or -40c temperatures!  For reference, if I’d bought the usual expensive stuff to mix myself I’d have diluted it to protect to around -20c.

Gawd, this was supposed to be a short blog!

So the moral is, if you haven’t changed your coolant for 3 years in your car or bike, for the sake of £3 (most cars or bikes take less than 3l to fill), get some of this stuff and get it in there! 

It’s from Pound Land (but I think other similar shops stock it, too) and called ‘Pro-Driver anti freeze‘. 

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And don’t say I never give you anything!

Doing A Suicidal 129mph!

Doing A Suicidal 129mph!

That’s the actual line I heard in an episode of ‘Police, Camera, Action’ the other night, as they filmed Police following a driver on a UK three lane motorway: “Doing a SUICIDAL 129mph!!!”

As if 130 would have made him instantly drop dead from speed?!

Because we all know that speed kills…

Never mind lack of skill, inattention or a poorly maintained vehicle.  Nope – these are all perfectly safe as long as you NEVER go above the speed limits that were set for the vehicles of 46 years ago

Don’t get me wrong here – we need some limits and I’m all in favour of 30mph zones and respect them totally.  They’re almost always there for a reason (schools, dangerous roads, old biddies crossing etc).  40mph zones are a bit more dodgy as they seem to have changed a lot of previously 60mph roads to 40mph limits for no known reason… But 70mph on a modern three lane motorway is ludicrous!

 

Let me just put that into perspective for you.  Here is an ‘average’ car for 1965:

1965 Triumph 2000
This kicked out a mighty 89 bhp

And here is 2010’s ‘average’ car:

2010 Ford Focus
This wheezes out a measly 140 bhp

The braking road holding abilities of cars has come just as far, too – and that’s without any electric aids such as stability control.

And we shouldn’t forget how much road building technology has advanced, and the signage on the roads…

I think most cars in 1965 struggled to even reach 70mph!  Now most will cruise at 100 without too much stress…

If you actually DO 70mph on a motorway these days, you’ll find just about everything will come streaming past you.  85 is the new 70, baby!  And to be fair that probably is a nice sensible new speed.  There are people who still do 50mph on motorways, so you can bet they’ll still be doing that speed even if limits are raised, and for the rest of us it makes life a lot easier…

Or how about going even further and introducing an advanced license to let people do faster speeds – only on motorways.  100mph?  Unlimited?  You’d have to prove you could pay attention and display forward planning, and if you did cause an accidents penalties should be severe…

And put motorway driving in the driving test – focusing on making sure people stay in the -ing left hand lane unless they’re overtaking!

You know – just common sense?

It’ll never catch on…

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Car Vs. Bike

Car Vs. Bike

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I always heard that although bikes will slaughter cars accelerating in a straight line, in the corners and on the brakes is a cars domain.

Your average 190 section superbike has a contact patch around the size of the palm of your hand to put close to 1000hp per tonne through.  For a start you won’t get many cars these days with tyres less than 190 wide – and of course they have two or even four driver wheels to get their power onto the asphalt.

Plus when hard on the power the car won’t be trying to flip itself over backwards, so you’d think a decent car would be able to whupp a bike from a standstill.

Unfortunately bikes are a Hell of a lot lighter, us bikers are able to get our beer bellies weighted over the front end, and even a bad start will see 60mph in around 3 seconds.  Most car drivers don’t understand this when they see us “Shooting off from the lights like a drag race!!” – the chances are we’re taking it easy but your car does 60 in more like TEN seconds.  Think about it.

To quote myself whilst explaining how fast bikes accelerate:  You know how you walk at, say, 4mph?  And you sort of take that very first step and are already at maximum walking speed?  That’s like how a sportsbike hits 30mph.  I could pull out into traffic between two cars (leaving your obligatory 2 second gap, of course) and be up to speed without anyone having to brake to avoid me.

If you haven’t ridden a fast bike you can’t even comprehend it.  It’s a blessing.  It’s silly.  It’s far too fast for the roads.  And to even begin to think that a lot of cars don’t have a rev counter?!  WTF?  I have no idea what the Fiat revs to, but I can only guess that it’s less than my ZX9R’s 12,500rpm?  And the Fiat certainly doesn’t do over 80mph in first gear…

Now, as any of my regular readers will know, after 10 years of riding sportsbikes I took and passed my car driving license a few months back.

OK, so I’ve only got some skinny-tyred Fiat Uno, but it’s weird.  I still find myself driving sometimes and think “What the fuck??  What the Hell am I doing in a CAR??? How did this happen?”.

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This is often followed by muttering about “Monkey drive car!  Oo-ooh OOKA OHH!!!”.

I have to recalibrate my whole brain to deal with the road speed differences.  The car is like being in one of those nightmares where you’re trying to run but can’t go fast.  Everything happens in verrrrrrryy slowwwww motionnnnnn….

And I’ve done a skid control course, tried to push the car, and fully intend of getting a racecar on a track ASAP.

Other than pulling out on islands and at junctions which require about five times the space of a bike in laziest mode, the thing that’s getting me is the corner speed.

Four tyres and loads of grip, and I’ve always just assumed cars are faster in corners… but that just isn’t the case!

In the Uno I’ve tried the Redditch Cloverleaf a few times and the ‘safe’ speed is about HALF what it is on a bike  I was horrified the first time as I drove into the first corner at a very conservative speed and still felt I had to brake.  And what a weird viewpoint it is compared to having your head banked over all the way to the left about 18 inches from the tarmac!

I’m still to drive a high performance car, but I just can’t see it pushing my limits like the bike does?  It’s too easy!

And riding a bike at 190mph is possible, and feels ‘OK’.  To be doing 120+ ina  huge metal box of a car, with all those forces involved if you do come a cropper???  Terrifying.

I think if I’d done this the other way around (i.e. had a car for 10 years and THEN a sportsbike), I’d just be absolutely terrified of the bike every time I threw my leg over it.

They’re an awesome vehicle to be privileged to ride – and I mean that ‘awesome’ in the truest and most lost meaning of that word.

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