Saturday, May 21, 2011

Motorist Bill of You Do Not have the Rights

Many motorists assume the road they are using at the moment is exclusively for their use. Some of it is ignorance of the need to and even how to share the road with cyclists. More concerning is some of it is just plain old selfishness.

Recently I had a very disappointing conversation with a non-cyclist friend. The friend told me of being very upset with a cyclist sharing the road with motorist during her drive to work. She was traveling in the left of two Eastbound lanes and found herself confronted with slowing traffic as the motorists in the right lane swerved to avoid a cyclist. She admitted the total delay was less than one minute, but seemed longer. She told me the cyclists should have picked a better time or a different road or used the sidewalk for his bike ride.

Trying to get her thinking on the right track, I asked her the following questions and got the following responses:

Q: Are you proposing cyclists break the law by riding on the sidewalk so as to not inconvenience you when you are in a hurry?
A: Well no, but the cyclist has no business being on the road because it slowing traffic and creating a hazard for motorist.

Q: Do you know of another less traveled road the cyclist could have used?
A: No.

Q: Do you know swerving around a cyclist is both dangerous and a violation of the 3 ft law?
A: Yes, but what could the other drivers do? The cyclist was in their way!

Q: What makes you think the cyclist's schedule is less important than yours? Do you think only motorists have to be places and do things at specific times?
A: I need to get to work and there was just one cyclist slowing everybody down!

After this conversation, it got me thinking. Given, based on my experience, most motorists falsely assume exclusive or at least privileged right to the road what is needed is a "Motorists Bill of You Do Not have the Rights” to set things on the right path. Here's what I have so far:

You as a motorist do not have the right to:
  1. Believe your's is the only legitimate use of the road.
  2. Assume bicyclists' reasons for being on the road are frivolous compared to yours.
  3. Get to your destination at the fastest possible speed you dare.
  4. Treat bicyclists as mere road obstructions in the way of your multi-ton vehicle's progress.
  5. Demand bicyclists use some other road or use the road at some other time.
  6. Be faultless if you did not see the cyclist you hit with your motor vehicle.
  7. Blame the presence of a cyclist for your bad behavior,  such as dangerous lane changes, passing on blind curves, or exceeding the speed limit.
  8. Confront cyclists in your path by shouting at them, tailgating them, flashing your lights, sounding your horn, or by swerving around them.
  9. Simply ignore the presence of a cyclist because cyclists should not be on the road and therefore deserve whatever harm that comes their way.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why I Joined Weight Watchers

My height of six feet and five inches puts me at the upper limit of a number of bike manufacturers' standard frame sizing with many manufacturers choosing to ignore riders my size. In addition to bike sizing, I have always needed to take care when selecting components, such as wheels, to ensure they will be durable under even at my ideal weight.

Adding to the challenges created by my height, my weight has been an issue for some time and my efforts to manage it have resulted in large seasonal swings. A swing from a winter high of over 250 pounds to a late fall low of less than 220 pounds is not unusual for me. So, in general, I don't have problem loosing weight when I am most active during the warmers months, but the short cold winter days are a killer.

Over the years I have found the swings getting more pronounced and key health metrics, like LDL, Triglyceride, H1C, and blood pressure following suit. At the end of this winter I hit a new high of 260+ pounds. So there I was facing the need to suffer through loosing 50+ pounds in a few months and that large amount of weight really hampering my ability to enjoy the warming weather.

Of course anyone that struggles with his or her weight probably already understands both the short and long term health issues associated with it. Like myself, they have probably read books on the subject, consulted their physician, and they have tried some number of quick-fix diets that all failed in the long run. With all this being common knowledge its not worth repeating here.

All that said, there I was...literally too fat to fully enjoy my passion for cycling knowing it is also harming my general health. Clearly, I needed to do something significantly different or face the same problem next year and likely worse.

With failure comes knowledge and in my case loads of knowledge of what was not going to work to keep me from the seasonal weight gains and subsequent efforts to quickly take it off. Packaged meals, low carbohydrate diets, and diet shakes all work, but not for the long haul because who can live like that? Then there are the more wacky ineffective and even dangerous products based on junk science or pure snake oil that can be eliminated out of hand. What is left is pretty much one program, Weight Watchers. Beyond selecting it by elimination, I found their flexible program based on good science and would provide me a good opportunity to learn to eat better, enjoy what I eat ,and maintain a health weight for a lifetime.

Upon joining Weight Watchers, I found the many benefits including the support provided in the weekly meetings, on-line tools, fantastic recipes, and simple to use Points Plus economy are helping me stay the course. So much so, that in the first few weeks I lost 20 pounds without starving myself as in past years. Of course I expect the next 30 pounds to be harder to loose, but I am in it for the long haul. More good news.... The benefits so far are just not all weight loss! With the loss of my first 20 pounds, my doctor has noticed the difference in my HDL/LDL, Triglyceride, H1C, and blood pressure pressure numbers.

Disclosure - My spouse was my inspiration to join Weight Watchers. Having struggled with her weight most of her life she finally found success with their program. Now 60 pounds lighter and much healthier, she works part time as a receptionist at one of their centers.