Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: This is a Photograph of Me

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  • Lucy Stewart,

    This seems to have some empirical support: for example, the UK driving test includes a "hazard perception" section where they test you on your ability to spot possible upcoming hazards, such as people stepping out into the road, cars pulling out of driveways, etc. You can fail your driving test by not spotting hazards. That implies to me that they're aware that this is a separate skill, and that they're requiring people to learn it rather than just assuming you get it in the package once you've been driving for a bit.

    When I sat the full licence test here in 2006, it included hazard perception, just as you describe. In fact, that was the major focus of it, IIRC.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    The NZ test does include hazard recognition, but when I did it for my motorbike licence, the test official was behind me in a car, and it seemed to be enough to sort of point vaguely at stuff that might possibly be a hazard.

    I was talking to a Norwegian motorcyclist a few years ago, and thier bike training and test is, comparitively, very difficult. For example, it includes a half-day of training on how to ride on ice.

    The wiki article has a few interesting cherries to pick:

    Before one is allowed to practice for any driver's licence, one must first complete a four-day class called "trafikalt grunnkurs" (elementary traffic class) which covers the basic rules of the road, some general advice, and what to do when involved in (or present at the scene of) an accident—including how to communicate effectively with [emergency services] and basic first aid skills

    In Norway it is not unusual to end up paying in excess of 4,000USD for driving lessons before finally taking the test.

    It is also notoriously hard to pass the Japanese test, so students invest heavily in training before taking it.

    Compare and contrast...

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Of course you do, it shows in the whole way you've been talking. Sunday, is the answer.

    Ha, pwned. Fair enough, but you did assume earlier in the thread that I didn't drive, so we're even. :)

    Most people riding do NOT ride a $5k bike and there is NO WAY it's as engineered as even a lame weak car.

    OK, so I was being hyperbolic. But still, the modern bicycle has a hell of a lot of design and engineering input - which, as with cars, trickles down from the high end race stuff into the lower end models that people actually ride. Certainly, if you want to ride something made out of a carefully designed carbon fibre matrix, with a precision gearbox and hydraulic disk brakes, it's going to be a lot easier to get a bike like that than a car. For example, this is probably a lot cheaper than their cars, but I'm assuming there's a fair bit of engineering work gone into it.

    And the amount of engineering is not irrelevant, it's the difference between a good car and a bad one, after all.

    Surely it's the quality of the engineering that's important, rather than the quantity? There's an interesting book about this - it's called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. (*coughs and runs away*)

    And I'd like to reiterate my point about bicycle safety - despite the fact that you are, as pointed out, vulnerable, it's a lot safer than people think. I've had more, and worse, accidents when walking or driving. And as is well known, driving exposes you to 50% more carbon monoxide than cycling.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    In my yoof, I rode a ten speed around the open roads of the Bay of Plenty. Being literally blown into a ditch by the vortex off the back of a logging truck taught me that keeping left was not just recommended in the road code, it was bloody common sense self-preservation. It does annoy me when I see cyclists two abreast on busy highways. Yes you may be entitled to do it, but not all drivers are going to see it that way, or even see you at all, IME.

    Now I'm riding Scooters on both city roads, and in the country side, I can also appreciate the differences between the three vehicles in question. When some git passed a group of us through the winding roads from Piha the other day on a blind corner, it highlighted how the reckless actions of others can put lives at risk unnecessarily. We were doing 60 - 70 on the open stretches and slowing for the corners, as advised by the signs. Clearly the swell on the East Coast was superior on that particular day, and no pesky scooterists were going to slow them down.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    And the amount of engineering is not irrelevant, it's the difference between a good car and a bad one, after all. Why is it not the difference between a car and a bike? Cars have massive redundancy of safety features built in.

    No, the amount of engineering is irrelevant. It's like saying Windows is a better operating system than Linux, because Windows has some indefinable thing called more engineering.

    The reason that a bicycle has very little engineering involved these days is that it is a classic product of the Victorian hero-engineers. It is like the wheel; one doesn't need to improve it really. Wells didn't write any books about cars, did he?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • AllanM,

    Ben, in response to your post back on page 2:
    Motorists need to recognise that cyclists ...

    are on something that is extremely underengineered, low powered, has very little braking power, no ability to protect them in an accident whatsoever, wobbles from side to side, ... and yet can actually go quite fast for all that. Furthermore, the rider is usually quite distracted because they are also concentrating on powering the bike, they are often tired, and they're thinking about the end of the ride. It is no surprise that cyclists are often injured.

    Both sets of road users need to be aware of each other. And in any case, most motorists bang into each other, or stationary items.

    There have been a few instances where truck drivers and cyclists swapped places, and each learned something from the exercise. A bit of quick googling came up with:
    http://www.london-se1.co.uk/news/view/3907
    http://cms.met.police.uk/met/boroughs/city_of_westminster/04how_are_we_doing/news/cyclists_and_hgv_drivers_in_westminster_exchanging_places
    Although I can't find where they got the truck drivers to go for a ride..

    Auck • Since Nov 2009 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Sorry for this

    No worries. Sometimes you need someplace to say something.

    Thanks for that. It was also a bit 'on topic', well on the car topic at least, as Tim was an avid car lover and motoring journalist, publishing books on Trucking in New Zealand and regular contributions to the Classic Car Magazine. Loved reading the Mini stories just now, which was my first car.

    Along with inspiring countless budding artists, it does seem he was one of those people that contributes a great deal to those around him, and will be greatly missed.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    @Jack

    Ha, pwned. Fair enough, but you did assume earlier in the thread that I didn't drive, so we're even. :)

    Actually, I only assumed that you might not have been a driver when you had your accidents. Were you? I knew that you drive now, you said so. But it's all good. So long as every realizes I'm also a cyclist, seeking mentality balance, rather than just a cyclist, or just a driver, pushing one barrow.

    but I'm assuming there's a fair bit of engineering work gone into it.

    Probably. But the difference between it and a car is probably something like the difference between a car and a jumbo jet, proportionally. Which is in turn considerably less than goes into a space shuttle. Because these things are doing much more work, at much higher speeds, in much more dangerous conditions, the level of engineering is justified. Yes, quite a lot of people have died in space shuttles, proportionally. But they are doing something pretty incredible.

    Surely it's the quality of the engineering that's important, rather than the quantity?

    In engineering, a lot of effort has been spent over the years quantifying quality. It's not really as hard to measure as people think.

    So...@Keir

    No, the amount of engineering is irrelevant. It's like saying Windows is a better operating system than Linux, because Windows has some indefinable thing called more engineering.

    It can be defined. And guess what, generally, things that are better engineered have taken a lot more time. Kind of stands to reason, really.

    Window is most likely quite a lot less engineered than Linux. The Open Source community keeps constantly working on it, with way more people than the 100 or so who might be employed to develop Windows.

    The reason that a bicycle has very little engineering involved these days is that it is a classic product of the Victorian hero-engineers. It is like the wheel; one doesn't need to improve it really. Wells didn't write any books about cars, did he?

    Yes, there isn't really much room for improvement, without changing the nature of it quite a lot. Which isn't really as good a thing as you think. Push bikes could, for instance, have ABS. But then they'd be beyond amateurs to fix, and they'd probably weigh a precious kilo more.

    Don't get me wrong, I like bikes. I like the simplicity of them. In fact I think expensive, highly engineered bikes actually move away from the whole point of the things. I don't want a bike that costs more than my car (well I do want one, but I don't want to pay for it). I'm just not going to kid myself that I don't take my life into my hands every time I get onto one. I don't think it's fair to think of that as everyone else's fault.

    @Recordari, I'm sorry to hear about your friend.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I have an absolute right to travel within the speed limit according to the road conditions.

    Surely if one of the road conditions is 'blind corner ahead', then you should slow down. It's not just about bikes, there might be people walking on the road, an accident ahead, stock etc. As someone stated, you have to travel at a speed that means you can stop in the distance you can see. Otherwise you'll find something around the corner and hit it.

    Yup. But I was talking about maintaining a roading system (and that 'other stuff' is covered under seperate headings.) And rather than talking about cars - you should be looking at trucks...

    Wait, you want cyclists to pay to maintain a road that you're arguing they shouldn't be on?

    If you were walking in the middle of a lane and milord's coach bowled you into the ditch, he was at fault, and you were exercising your rights.

    That's a nice story, but I think in reality if the lord came through with horses, you got the hell out of the way, or got barrelled. Helps when the lord often owns the road you're walking on (despite the fact that you might have built it).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    a cyclist, or a driver, pushing a barrow.

    Driving. Cycling. You're doing it wrong.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Because these things are doing much more work, at much higher speeds, in much more dangerous conditions, the level of engineering is justified.

    So the corollary of that is that for relatively lower-performance vehicles, a lower level of engineering is justified. Which implies that bicycles aren't underengineered - they're appropriately engineered for their level of performance.

    In fact I think expensive, highly engineered bikes actually move away from the whole point of the things.

    Admit it - you're a fixie-riding hipster.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    in reality if the lord came through with horses, you got the hell out of the way, or got barrelled. Helps when the lord often owns the road you're walking on (despite the fact that you might have built it)

    Kyle, no time to dig up appropriate quotes right now, but a) there's case law on this very issue, which is why I mentioned it and b) at the time, it was the King's highway.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Kyle,"according to the road conditions" means exactly that, and includes the nature of the road.

    Where did I mention anything about tourist cyclists paying to maintain West Coast roads? (And yes, I think they should be limited to highways that have continuous cycle-lanes...and I dont think there are any such.) Trucks cause more damage to the roading system than truckies/trucking firms pay for.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • RaggedJoe,

    @ BenWilson

    Thanks, good effort representing the cycling, driving, motorcycling view.

    City of Sales • Since Sep 2008 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    fixie-riding hipster

    Likes

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Surely it's the quality of the engineering that's important, rather than the quantity? There's an interesting book about this - it's called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

    True story - in the early 1990s, I found "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" in nestled amongst the car and motoring books in the Whitcoulls in Hamilton.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

    The most annoying book I ever read, maybe there were more annoying ones but I have blocked them out of my consciousness.
    I struggled through the opening pages thinking "This guy's a nutter" and "What the hell is his point?" Then I realised that, like a lot of people, he didn't understand how to use the word "quality"
    Things can have qualities, like colour or texture or whatever. Things can be of a certain quality, good, bad, indeterminable even. But and it's a big but, whenever I see something described as "A Quality Product" I think "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?". You can say things like "You can see the quality of the workmanship in this bicycle" well yes I can and the quality is shit, welding spatter all over the place and runny paintwork.
    You could say that Rodney Hide is a man of quality, you just have to qualify the statement.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    @Jack, you got my number that fast?

    Side note, I just upgraded my bike, 20 mins ago. Brand new hybrid. Yay! Now I have to sell one - a man doesn't really need 4 bikes.

    So the corollary of that is that for relatively lower-performance vehicles, a lower level of engineering is justified. Which implies that bicycles aren't underengineered - they're appropriately engineered for their level of performance.

    Perhaps. I'd probably say that cyclists simply accept a higher danger threshold than most vehicle users apart from motorcyclists.

    @RaggedJoe

    :-) I get the feeling trying to see things with balance is considered anathema to healthy debate sometimes. Or perhaps it's just not expected of me .

    @Steve, my feeling was that the book was a giant cash-in. Cunning bugger, I wish I could do that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Should clarify: the ZatAoMM reference was a sly nod to another thread, which got very grumpy about it this week.

    You can tell the cricket's on: it's very quiet here today.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    What cricket?

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    whenever I see something described as "A Quality Product" I think "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?".

    We have a thread for you....

    the ZatAoMM reference was a sly nod to another thread, which got very grumpy about it this week.

    Grumpy? Really?

    It was a good discussion. I personally wouldn't have said it got particularly bad-tempered.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    It was a good discussion. I personally wouldn't have said it got particularly bad-tempered.

    Impassioned, perhaps. It was indeed a good discussion, but most people seemed not to like it - hence the characterisation.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    @ Islander, I'm sure the Government could see fit to earmark some of the $21.7 billion tourists bring to New Zealand every year. Even if the Government only sees $2billion of that in GST, I'm pretty sure it could almost be enough to at least cover some of road maintenance necessary to rectify the damage those damn foreign bicyclists and their ungodly contraptions cause.

    whenever I see something described as "A Quality Product" I think "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

    Diagnosis- inference deficient or learning difficulties.

    Aussie boyfriend confuses Miley

    "The thing Liam says that always makes me laugh is 'Bob's your uncle,''Cyrus said.

    I'm like 'What are you saying? Who's Bob? What are you talking about?' He always says it and I say, 'I don't know what you are talking about but it is hilarious.''

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/celebrities/3448313/Aussie-boyfriend-confuses-Miley

    Is it just me or are the drivers on this thread a little more edgy than "these people " -the non-drivers?

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I'm just not going to kid myself that I don't take my life into my hands every time I get onto one. I don't think it's fair to think of that as everyone else's fault.

    You take your life into your hands every time you get in the car, too. Cycling is not a special death-defying feat.

    Apropros of all this, there was an article in the Press about a spate of accidents involving cyclists (if three = a spate, to be fair). I think it illustrates rather aptly a dangerous combination of motorists forgetting cyclists exist and cyclists forgetting that having right of way does not induce invulnerability.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    chris, I'm sure your tongue is sticking through your cheek when you write

    "Even if the government sees only 2 billion of that in gst, I'm pretty sure it could almost be enough to at least cover some of the road maintenance necessary to rectify the damage those damn foreign cyclists and their ungodly contraptions cause."

    Well, of course the cyclists cause buggerall damage to the roads, but as for the government actually expending anything much on cycle-lanes - let alone the country-long cycle-track they were bruiting & hooting about when the current lot first came to office (remember that?)- there is zilch sign of it...

    Tourism in general brings in a huge amount to ANZ (what cyclists contribute would constitute a tiny proportion of that) but dont forget local communities provide a substantial amount of the facilities for tourists (through rates) and
    a very limited percentage of us get anything back from tourism.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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