My Chest Hair Saved My Life

I couldn’t put it any better myself. This is how Mike Krusee’s killed Austin’s hopes at getting intracity transit back from the dark ages of slow jerky buses.

Anybody who found their way to my bike log might have noticed a fairly large gap, hospital like the one I had in 2001-2002. I’ve had a bad flareup and a very slow recovery from another attack of what I now (as of this morning) know is Reiter’s Syndrome. The previous flareup, in 2001, was diagnosed as either Reiter’s or spondylitis. Since then, some new drugs have come out to treat spondylitis, so we were hoping to get at least enough spondylitis apparent so I could try these drugs, since in the 4 years between the 2001 flareup and the 2005 flareup, I never recovered full function in my toes (leading to less volleyball, less biking, and gradually gaining back the 40 pounds I lost in 2000-2001, when I was in the best shape of my life – so much for being in shape preventing disease). After that initial flare settled down to 70-80% function (two courses of steroids), I went on a variety of drugs (mostly Vioxx and Azulfidine, the two of which I took for essentially two years) and got up to 90% function, but couldn’t do any better. I ended up taking myself off the drugs after the long-term effects were becoming apparent – spent a couple of hours in the early morning most nights in the bathroom with severe intestinal pain. After going off the drugs, things didn’t get any worse, so I figured I had reached a new plateau of 90%, which at least I could mostly live with.
Then the 2005 flare hit. Really really bad. Much worse than 2001. Had to do a business trip with what felt like a broken ankle. Two courses of steroids again; the second course barely worked; I was nearly certain I was going to go for the world record of three. Knocked it back to the toes again, apparently, although I don’t have much flexibility in my ankle and knee, so it may still be there too. So I come back a couple months later to the rheumatologist and at the first meeting with the doctor I hear about the new biologics that can treat spondylitis; I go in for a (very expensive) bone scan; and this morning get the results. No spondylitis. Just Reiter’s. And the bone scan shows that it’s still affecting my knee and ankle too – so I’m still much worse off than I was in 2001 at this point.
When these flares hit, I can’t even walk, much less bike. Right knee and right ankle become inflamed and red. This last time I spent two weeks on crutches with a HUGE THROBBING ANKLE!!!1, and spent a few nights unable to sleep until I got me some Vicodin. Sleep was even harder during the first flare, since my elbow was also hit – I had to sleep with my arm over my head in one particular position.
No dice. No new drugs; no new research; chance of recovering full function is zero. Oh, and, if I want to lessen the chance of more degenerative arthritis as I get older, my best course of action is to give up alcohol, red meat, refined sugars, and one other thing I forget now but probably was equally difficult to imagine living without.
I’m currently at about 70% (ironically I biked to the doctors’ office in order to test out the new bike trailer with a load – got some soda on the way back to simulate the weight of my son), meaning I can play a little bit of volleyball very badly, and I can go on very short bike rides. Oh, and keep getting fatter, until I give up what joy remains in life and go vegetarian. Well, I DID have something delicious on Saturday that turned out to be cauliflower…
Excuse me while I go punch a clown. And then I need to drown my sorrows in a bacon margarita. With sugar on top.

crackplog – short for “crackpot blog”, side effects i.e., treatment have you read M1EK’s crackplog?
The evil google machine indicates today that I am the first person in the universe to use this term. Feel free to use it from here on out, but credit me.

I’ve been arguing for a long time that the “commuting calculators” pushed by cyclists to convince people to ride their bike to work are skewed, approved since they assume that you can effectively divide the total cost of owning a car by the number of days in a year, ed then get credit for each of those days you leave it in the garage.
Capital Metro’s example, for instance, assumes depreciation as one of the costs you save. (To be fair, they have now allowed you to zero out this field, which is quite a concession for them). I’d argue it should be zero or at least very low, since most of the cost of depreciation is a function of time, not miles. I’ve previously argued that a more rational accounting of costs shows that it’s unlikely that a large number of suburban commuters would begin using the bus to get to work due simply to the cost of gasoline (which is why we need a real urban rail system that provides a time incentive to use transit; not this Austin-screwing transit-killer foisted on us by Mike Krusse).
Now the Washington Post has done an analysis which, although it still includes depreciation, correctly mentions other fixed costs which don’t go away. In DC, as it turns out, you might not save anything by leaving your car in your driveway. Whatever you think of the merits of subsidizing public transportation, surely even the most reactionary of road warriors would admit that something’s wrong there.
What could be done to help fix this problem? One obvious answer is to pay for all of the costs of road use through the gasoline tax, instead of through a variety of non-user-fees as we do today (property and sales tax especially). The suburban regions of DC, like Texas, pay for a lot of their roads this way – meaning that you pay the same (hundreds to thousands of dollars a year) whether you drive 100, 10, or 0 miles a day. Anything which increases the variable cost of driving while leaving the fixed cost alone (or even decreasing it) can only help people make more efficient decisions about how to travel on each trip. Another obvious answer would be forcing insurance companies to deliver on mileage-based insurance (and, no, despite publicity, they really aren’t doing this today – or I’d be jumping all over it).

Lyndon Henry just called me “anti-rail”. I’m so mad I could chew nails.
His “bend over for Mike Krusee side” has destroyed any chance at urban rail here in Austin for a generation, seek since the starter line implemented by Capital Metro will not be able to garner significant ridership due to its reliance on shuttle buses to get anywhere you might want to go.
After this failure, geriatrician predicted by South Florida’s experience with a commuter rail plan which is almost identical to Capital Metro’s, healing Austin voters will not be willing to vote up any more rail for decades.
If anybody’s “anti-rail”, it’s him and his ilk; since their collaboration with Mike Krusee will prevent urban Austin from seeing rail until my children are middle-aged.
Update: my cow orker pointed out that lightrail_now doesn’t have public archives. Here’s the offending opening paragraph of Lyndon’s comment:

Let me just point out that, if Mike Dahmus’s anti-rail side had won last
November’s vote – i.e., the rail plan had failed – the Road Warriors would
be celebrating the “final” demise of rail transit in Austin and picking the
bones of Capital Metro for more funding for roads – highways, tollways,
etc. – in this area.

he then goes on to tell people how wonderful the commuter rail plan is, how it might be upgraded to electrified LRT (continuing his misleading crap about how sticking an electrical wire on it makes it “light rail”), and mentions the people trying to get streetcars running through downtown and an unnamed bunch of “rail advocates” trying to get light rail to run on the Rapid Bus corridor, failing to say anything about the fact that this commuter rail plan effectively precludes running light rail down that stretch of Lamar/Guadalupe.

The current brou-ha-ha with Lyndon reminded me to go check if anything’s up with Tri-Rail in South Florida. As I’ve previously written, one health they’re the best example out there of the kind of rail line Capital Metro is going to build here in Austin, in that

  • they don’t run trains very often
  • most destinations require a shuttle bus ride
  • they chose to run on a cheap existing track rather than building lines closer to those destinations (like light rail systems usually do)

Well, in the process I found an updated version of an old article I think I already used, but I hadn’t noticed one important paragraph before. The context is that they’re finally talking seriously about moving to the FEC corridor – which is where the service should have been built all along, since it allows passengers to walk to a non-trivial number of office and retail destinations. We’re even worse off here, though, since building this commuter rail line basically prevents us from building anything like the 2000 starter line. Here’s the quote:

Without a FEC/TRI-Rail alliance, McCarty sees the need for continued subsidy because of the “inherent fear of feeder bus reliability.” The buses “are often late,” she explained.

Since Tri-Rail trains only run about every half-hour during the commute peak and less often the rest of the day (like Austin’s commuter rail trains will), missing your train on the way home from work is a big deal. The “feeder” buses they’re talking about are the same kind of shuttle buses we’re going to be stuck with here in Austin, if you work downtown, at the Capitol, or at UT. And guess what? They’re going to be unreliable too – they’ll be stuck in the same traffic as your car.
Even if streetcars are used for the “high-frequency circulators” which will take you from your office to the train station, the same problem exists – since streetcars won’t have their own lane and won’t be given green lights over cross traffic. The chance that light rail will come out of the Future Connections Study is zero, since commuter rail precludes it from being built in the 2000 alignment, which is the only one good enough to merit Federal funding.
So just like in South Florida, people will experience a couple of missed trains and then, if they have any other options, will stop riding. Nobody wants to sit around for even a half-hour waiting for the next train home. And if all you’re doing is catering to riders who don’t have a choice, you might as well just dump the money into more buses.

A photographic exercise by M1EK. All pictures obtained from the 9/24/05 Future Connections steering committee presentation.




This is a bit misleading since it makes it look like Hyde Park and the neighborhoods around Airport Blvd are equally suitable for rail transit – the problem is that you can’t walk to stations along Airport from any residential developments of consequence; the area is fairly pedestrian-hostile.
Note that all of the existing and future high-density residential and employment centers are going to be served by “high-frequency circulators”, sildenafil i.e., visit shuttle buses stuck in traffic. While the incredibly important Airport Boulevard corridor gets rail. Here’s one example of a circulator movement they envision; this one is planted right on Speedway near my house. Note: there’s already high-frequency bus service to campus and downtown on this street, sales so it’s doubtful they’ll be doing anything here other than publicity:

Now, for comparison’s sake, I took the two 2017 maps, and using my awesome drawing skills, drew the 2000 light rail proposal, in blue. The jog from the Guadalupe corridor over to Congress Avenue might have happened as far north as 11th; I chose 9th as a compromise. Some versions even had it running around the Capitol on both sides — but this is a simpler drawing that still hits all the same major spots. A short distance north of this map, the 2000 light rail line would have converged with the red “All Systems Go” line and continued northwest on existing rail right-of-way towards Howard Lane, so this picture captures most of the “difference” between the proposals.


Gosh, which one would have a better chance at delivering ridership? I really can’t tell the difference. I guess Lyndon IS right – this commuter rail plan IS just as good as light rail!

Capital Metro’s On The Move E-Newsletter is still calling this thing “urban commuter rail”.
It’s not urban. It’s arguably commuter. It’s definitely rail. One and a half out of three is not enough to justify this misleading terminology. This thing goes nowhere near the urban parts of Austin. Even its just-barely-inside-downtown last station is in the part of Austin where surface parking lots are more common than buildings.
Cut it out, recipe you buttheads. Just cut it out. It’s commuter rail, doctor not “urban rail”, and adding more stations in 2020 isn’t going to make it any more urban.
If it doesn’t go anywhere near the densest residential neighborhoods or anywhere near the densest employment centers, it isn’t urban, by any stretch of the imagination. If your stations are only in locations to which you have to drive, take a bus, or be dropped off by somebody who drove, it’s not urban; not even close.
CUT IT OUT DAMMIT.

For a long time, healing Houston has been the thorn in the side of those who, disinfection like I, claim that suburban sprawl is not a natural preference of the market, but rather, the result of market distortions in the form of zoning and other anti-urban regulations and tax policies. Houston, as anybody who’s travelled through it knows, is a gigantic metastisizing suburban sprawl which takes an hour to get through and which makes even Cedar Park look attractive. There’s no density outside downtown; and the rest of the city is about as pleasant to walk through as a pit full of angry scorpions. You have to be particularly stubborn or perhaps particularly brave to live there without a car. Those of us who like to believe that removing those anti-urban regulations would lead to the market providing more traditional urban living are often stymied with the reply, “well, Houston has no zoning, and look at it”.
Now, somebody’s finally written a paper which addresses the question of Houston head-on. As expected, they’ve found that Houston’s lack of zoning is more than made up for by a combination of other regulations and tax policies (which in Houston’s case more than make up for the lack of formal zoning in effectively outlawing new urban development). Not just restrictive covenants, but a host of other policies which effectively outlaw urban development and force all residential construction into a couple of standard suburban forms (single-family houses on cul-de-sacs and three-story apartment buildings clustered around a ring of parking lots).
A good read for anybody who wonders why we have so much of the same crap in so many places.

Found this site while browsing technorati today; very car-centric but at least discusses the topic of intersection design (which obviously interests me as well). I’ve added to my links and made a bunch of comments, tadalafil trying to represent other road users (i.e. pedestrians and cyclists). Check it out.


I’m way behind on pictures because I still haven’t gotten around to trying the Windows tools which may provide satisfactory automation for my album generation (thanks, pills Phil). But here’s a teaser, from this Halloween.

I just heard from an acquaintance with the Austin Streetcars group that, stuff at Tuesday’s meeting for Future Connections, more about the Capital Metro consultant pointed at the ends of the UT shuttle bus line as examples of “Bus TOD” to presumably answer the complaint that I (and nearly everyone else in the world) state about TOD (transit-oriented development) and buses, namely, that it simply doesn’t happen in this country unless you have frequent rail transit, not just buses. In Europe, where gas is six bucks a gallon and there’s no parking anyways, you can get it with a bus station, but even there, the focus is on rail transit.
Good lord. I don’t even know where to begin with this, but I’ll try anyways. While I expect Capital Metro to continue with bogus claims that they can get TOD from the commuter rail line and maybe even the Rapid Bus line, I didn’t think even they would go so far out into left-field as to claim you can get TOD from regular, crappy, city buses.

  1. I’m pretty sure the apartment complexes predate the shuttle bus lines, at least some of them did, and their density is, if anything, lower than apartment complexes elsewhere (some are only two stories instead of the typical three you get in MF-3 zoning, for instance).
  2. Those apartment complexes have just as much parking in just the same places as similar apartment complexes do along Jollyville, or Metric Blvd. In fact, transit coverage of the Far West area is poor, except if you want to go to UT during classtime. Riverside, at least, has decent transit coverage, but you have to walk a long ways to get to them. In NEITHER place is there EVER any incentive to use transit other than to get to class – it’s going to be FAR easier and FAR quicker to use that car conveniently (and freely) parked in the lot next to your door. The very OPPOSITE of TOD.
  3. There’s no mixed-use development of any kind in the vicinity of either ‘student slum’. If you dodge driveways and walk a long ways one direction to get out of the area where there’s only apartments, you get to an area where there’s only single-family houses. If you walk a long ways the other direction, you get to an area where there’s only strip-malls. NOWHERE do you find a place where there are buildings with offices or apartments on top and retail on the bottom.
  4. Neither area is remotely pedestrian-friendly. You have to walk a long ways to get to those strip malls, and then cross a huge surface parking lot to get to the stores. Again, this is the very OPPOSITE of TOD.

Any more? Man, I’m flabbergasted that they could sink this low. It’s one thing to claim that buses can generate TOD (some people claim that BRT, at least, can do it). It’s quite another to point to two student slums as your example.

The meme “hybrids don’t save any money” has been flying fast and furious as of late; originating with people trying desperately to defend GM for having missed this boat entirely. When people of a certain (conservative, ascariasis usually) bent saw the Prius, about it they complained that more of the electric power ought to go into performance (even though for a good-mileage car, it accelerates perfectly well, i.e. I’ve not been frustrated with it when getting on the highway). Toyota complied, and now they get dinged for a less impressive mileage boost in the Highlander Hybrid.
This unidentified individual while generally liking his hybrid SUV, repeated one of the most often heard bits of hybrid FUD. To be more accurate, you can replace his comment:

As I’ve said before, if you just want to save money, a hybrid isn’t the way to go, yet.

with:

As I’ve said before, if you just want to save money on an SUV, a Highlander hybrid isn’t the way to go, yet.

Because when you compare the Prius to the Camry (same size class), it’s very easy to save money over the life of the car. Same to a lesser extent with the Civic Hybrid. The worst comparisons out there (Edmund’s) find a small savings with (Prius over Camry) and a loss everywhere else due to the questionable claim that the hybrid will have less residual value and require more maintenance, both of which are proving to be false. The Prius won best one-year residual value AND most reliable honors this year. The previous-generation Prius (nowhere near as good of a car), the oldest of which are pushing 6 now, are also very highly priced on the used market.
Hybrid Car Blog and the Prius Owners Group both
cover this FUD frequently.

I use and enjoy open source, herpes but come on, viagra 40mg people. Claiming that failed startups built on open source “pay dividends” while ones built on closed source don’t? TO WHOM? Why should the venture capitalist care if the dividends don’t end up in THEIR pocket?
When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Responding to a comment on this old entry:
Jonathan, melanoma that’s not accurate.
1. There ARE more lines in the “long-range plan”, oncologist but NONE of them go anywhere near UT or the capitol or Mueller. There’s one that might go down Mopac to Seaholm, sale where it will have the same exact problem that the starter line does; namely; that it’s too far away from any destinations for people to walk; they’ll have to take shuttle buses. And the starter line will be such a visible example of rail’s supposed “failure” that no follow-on lines will be built for a very very very VERY long time. The whole reason I opposed the ’04 plan was this danger – if you build a crappy enough starter line, it will become, as one of my UTC colleagues put it, a “finisher line”.
2. TOD can’t work if the line doesn’t have good ridership without the TOD. Otherwise, real estate investors are going to be leery about spending more money for TOD than they would for traditional development.
3. These projections DO take into account all prospective density in east Austin, which has generally OPPOSED such projects. In fact, the TOD ordinance had to be watered down to nearly zero because of that part of town’s virulent opposition to what they see as gentrification.
4. The only other area in this country which chose to run a rail line through a low-density area instead of running one from where the people are to where they want to go is: South Florida, whose 20-year experiment with Tri-Rail has plumbed new depths of failure. Shuttle buses are so unattractive to the “choice commuter” that even most of the transit-dependent in South Florida don’t use Tri-Rail; they just stay on the normal bus; and NOBODY rides it who could have chosen to drive.
Compare/contrast to light rail, which is what Dallas, Portland, Houston, Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City did; and what we almost did in 2000. We could easily have passed a scaled down version of the ’00 plan in ’04, but Mike Krusee kneecapped Capital Metro into this abomination instead.
Relevant entries in my blog which you might want to look at:
TOD and East Austin
TOD and commuter rail
How you’ll use the starter line
Tri-Rail

This is the first time I’ve done one of these.
Gregg passed along this game…

1. Delve into your blog archive.
B. Search the archives for the 23rd post.
2. Find the 5th sentence, viagra or closest to.
III. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, clinic subtext or hidden agendas.
C. Tag 5 more people

My 23rd entry was The Shoal Creek Debacle, pill Part III which had NOTHING TO DO WITH MASS-TRANSIT, SO THERE!
The 5th sentence was:

To be fair, the bike lane stretch between Steck and Anderson has one large gravel patch in it as well.

Analysis: Well, I was trying to give the wide curb lane guys a fair shake, but honestly I don’t buy the claim that a wide curb lane has less debris than a bike lane – and it shows. This entry remains relevant today – see this blog category and this fun yahoo group for more.
This entry particularly sucks since I can’t ride my bike now (maybe not much, ever) due to my body trying to kill me (had another subflare in the intervening time and was on crutches for another week; have not ridden bike since that posting). The good news(?) is that screwing up Shoal Creek won’t matter much for me from here on out.
Guess it should have been a mass transit entry after all, dammit!
I don’t know if anybody beyond a few kooks reads this thing, but what the hell: Steve Casburn can probably regale us with tales of Houston yore; Mark Hasty probably exorcised somebody on about that day; Chris was probably predicting a Democratic landslide; Jim was surely claiming to be non-partisan; and Thomas Gray was, I’m sure, still insisting it wasn’t a blog.

Despite conclusive evidence to the contrary, viagra here the ‘journalists’ at the major networks are letting Bush get away with his claim that efforts to investigate pre-war intelligence claims are just ‘revisionist history’.
This, migraine ladies and gentlemen, is why the Republicans will not lose their grip on power for years to come. Far from being a liberal-loving progressive-propaganda machine, the US major media is actually loath to call BULLSHIT even when it’s a life-and-death matter like WAR; instead pushing more of the “some say, others disagree” pablum that has destroyed any concept of objective truth.
Hi Chris.
Meanwhile:

The “Library” has a bunch of documents up from the most recent set of meetings for the Future Connections study, rheumatologist i.e., ed the “let’s pretend like we considered rail to get central Austin off our back for screwing them with a commuter rail plan that doesn’t go anywhere near them or minor destinations like UT and the Capitol Complex” exercise.
I’m only partway through and don’t have time for full analysis now, but I will note that it is disappointing (but not surprising) that NONE of the objectives for this service include the simple one:
make it MORE ATTRACTIVE to ride transit than it is today, i.e., close at least some of the gap between the private automobile and public transportation in one or more of the following: (reliability, speed, comfort).
These guys still don’t get it – you can’t just rest your hopes on build it and they’ll come; you also have to make sure that what you build is GOOD. And shuttle buses operating in mixed traffic aren’t “good” unless you’re somebody who can’t afford their own car. Capital Metro already owns all of THAT market.
Update: One thing I notice is that in the Draft Technologies Report, they have already eliminated light rail and any other technology which uses a reserved guideway. I have to admit I’m not surprised at this decision (which I believe was made before this study even started), but AM surprised at the speed at which they’ve come to admit it semi-publically.

Just sent this:
Many well-intentioned people, viagra sale including most of the staff of the Chronicle, page advised Central Austinites to hold their nose and vote “yes” on the All Systems Go commuter rail plan, discount despite the fact that it goes nowhere near existing and proposed residential density, and nowhere near minor employment centers like the University of Texas or the Capitol Complex (to say nothing of most of downtown). In fact, the pro-rail-transit but anti-stupid-rail position fell all the way down to me, whose sole qualification was serving on the UTC for a few years. I was attacked quite viciously for daring to suggest that perhaps the right response was to vote No, as in “No, this isn’t the right rail plan; come back with something like the 2000 plan, scaled back to get us over the top”.
Well, now, the other shoe has dropped. The “Future Connections Study”, on which those credulous folks based their hopes for adding back rail for central Austin, has released their draft technology review, which has now ruled out any mode requiring a reserved guideway. Meaning: no light rail; no bus rapid transit. You get either a shuttle bus or a streetcar; but either way you’re going to be stuck in the same traffic you would be if you just drove.
More on my blog at: http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/
The majority of the pro-transit establishment owes Austin an immediate apology for being part of this snowjob.

I posted this to the hydeparkaustin yahoo group and didn’t want it to go to waste.

The moderator asked me to provide additional background on this.
I write on this stuff voluminously at:
(category archive)
You may want to read that category archive bottom-up (chronological
order).
During 2004, viagra order I was the standard-bearer for the “pro-rail-transit but
anti-commuter-rail” side
. I was strongly in support of light rail in
2000; remained in support of such a system in 2004; and still support
it today; but this commuter rail system shares none of the aspects of
that plan which made it likely to attract new riders to public
transportation
it neither goes by neighborhoods which want to use
transit (such as mine,
drugstore NUNA, weight loss and yours, Hyde Park), nor goes TO
destinations to which people want to walk, i.e. most of downtown, the
University of Texas, and the Capitol.
Capital Metro claims to be ready to solve this problem through “high
frequency circulators”
(Future Connections study previously linked) –
i.e. a vehicle you would board at the commuter rail stop way out in
east Austin which would take you to UT, for instance
. The problem is
that this has been tried elsewhere and never works – all you have to
do is go through the ‘use case’ of the prospective rider, i.e., a guy
who lives in Leander and works at UT.
Car trip: Get in car and drive there; park; walk to work.
Light rail trip: Drive to park-and-ride; take train to UT; walk to
work (probably shorter walk than car trip).
Commuter rail trip: Drive to park-and-ride; take train to east Austin;
transfer to shuttle bus; ride through backed-up traffic to UT; walk to
work.
And of course the Hyde Park resident ‘use case’ is even worse, since
taking commuter rail is not even remotely feasible – you (and I) would
be stuck taking the “Rapid Bus” which is an even worse scenario than
the above.
My fear was that a badly designed starter system (which this is) will
show Austinites that rail doesn’t work
– meaning that we won’t get any
more rail, not even GOOD rail. And this system is VERY badly designed
– it almost exactly matches Tri-Rail in South Florida (where I come
from) in its reliance on shuttle buses to get passengers anywhere
worth going
, rather than doing what all successful light rail starter
lines have done
, which is go straight to a few major employment
centers without requiring transfers.
Anyways, I spent the year pushing this position all over town, in
events at UT and at the ANC, and was constantly attacked by my
pro-transit friends for risking getting ‘no rail at all’. The
pro-transit establishment
claimed that we could pass commuter rail and
then quickly get light rail put back in the plan
, i.e., running down
lamar and guadalupe, past the Triangle and Hyde Park, to UT and the
Capitol and then downtown.
I never bought the snow-job; but unfortunately, many people in the
center-city DID buy it. It ended up getting me kicked off the UTC by
councilmember Slusher
, as a matter of fact, but I thought that,
regardless of the consequences to me, SOMEBODY needed to raise the
position that bad rail could, in fact, be worse than delayed rail.
And now here we are. Guadalupe will not see light rail from Future
Connections. (I don’t think it will for decades, since this commuter
rail plan is so bad that it will destroy the public’s desire to try
any new rail lines for years and years to come once they see that
nobody wants to ride it since it’s so uncompetitive even compared to
existing express bus routes). In fact, no rail of any kind will be
headed up our way, since even if you take the most optimistic reading
possible of the Future Connections study, they would be building
streetcar (still stuck in traffic, but hey, it’s on rails in the
pavement)
out to the Mueller project; not up this way.
If anybody has any questions, you can ask me in the forum, or via
private email, and I’d be happy to fill in any more details.

Update: Unpaid blog QA intern “U. Nidentified Cow-orker” alerted me that the “voluminously” link didn’t work. Thanks, U.N.!

Seattle’s light rail line just got a rating of “high” from the Feds meaning it’s very likely they’ll get the maximum possible financial contribution. Why? From the posting:

King County Executive Ron Sims said a big factor in the rating was the travel time savings. A bus from University Hospital near Husky Stadium to downtown takes 25 minutes during the afternoon rush hour compared with a projected 9 minutes for the light rail line. A bus from University Hospital to Capitol Hill takes 22 minutes compared with 3 minutes for light rail. And a bus from downtown to Capitol Hill takes 14 minutes compared with 6 minutes on light rail.

Compare and contrast to the route a rider of Capital Metro’s commuter rail route would take to get from one of the northwestern park-and-rides to their office at UT or the Capitol. When you add in the shuttle bus trip through traffic (from the commuter rail station to the campus or capitol), tadalafil it is doubtful that any time will be saved compared to the existing 183-corridor express buses (which also operate in traffic, orthopedist but at least don’t go out of their way on a dogleg through East Austin, and don’t require a transfer to a second, much slower, vehicle).
Of course, Austin’s 2000 light rail route would have gone from those park-and-rides straight to UT and the Capitol and then down Congress Avenue. But, sure, this will work just as well, and the Feds will be just as happy. Right.

Seattle’s light rail line just got a rating of “high” from the Feds meaning it’s very likely they’ll get the maximum possible financial contribution. Why? From the posting:

King County Executive Ron Sims said a big factor in the rating was the travel time savings. A bus from University Hospital near Husky Stadium to downtown takes 25 minutes during the afternoon rush hour compared with a projected 9 minutes for the light rail line. A bus from University Hospital to Capitol Hill takes 22 minutes compared with 3 minutes for light rail. And a bus from downtown to Capitol Hill takes 14 minutes compared with 6 minutes on light rail.

Compare and contrast to the route a rider of Capital Metro’s commuter rail route would take to get from one of the northwestern park-and-rides to their office at UT or the Capitol. When you add in the shuttle bus trip through traffic (from the commuter rail station to the campus or capitol), tadalafil it is doubtful that any time will be saved compared to the existing 183-corridor express buses (which also operate in traffic, orthopedist but at least don’t go out of their way on a dogleg through East Austin, and don’t require a transfer to a second, much slower, vehicle).
Of course, Austin’s 2000 light rail route would have gone from those park-and-rides straight to UT and the Capitol and then down Congress Avenue. But, sure, this will work just as well, and the Feds will be just as happy. Right.

Page 3-6 (78 in the PDF):
“The Convention Center Station is proposed within the current ROW of 4th Street downtown. The site, stuff near IH 35 and the Austin Convention Center, pilule
is surrounded by high-rise office buildings and related downtown land uses.”
The Convention Center Station is not surrounded by office buildings of any kind. The closest large office building is many blocks away; the only large buildings within a short walk are a couple of hotels and the Convention Center itself.
Page 3-20 (92 in PDF):
“Hyde Park. The Hyde Park Neighborhood Planning Area plan expresses a desire for a successful rail transit system, and an intent to participate in planning for future station designs. The plan emphasizes making the necessary improvements to achieve this goal. The primary focus of these improvements is the enhancement of existing pedestrian connections to businesses and residential uses in close proximity to the potential rail station sites. It should be noted that this older area of Austin was planned and built around a streetcar transit system that operated early in the twentieth century (COA, 2005a).
The Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan (Hancock). The Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan includes the area of the Hancock neighborhood. Although there are no specific rail or station plans, this document mentions the possibility of rail in their future, and has had workshops to promote the idea of rail as a future transportation investment.”
Both of those refer to the LIGHT RAIL 2000 alignment down Guadalupe. NEITHER neighborhood will be able to make any practical use of this commuter rail line, even if a station is built at the closest possible point along this line.

Start of a new series – for those who are still optimistic about this commuter rail line. A “use case” in my business (software) describes how a customer might perform a certain task using your product – in this case, dentist we’ll describe how a few prospective transit customers would get to work using 4 transportation products.
Today’s example is a Leander resident who works at the University of Texas or the State Capitol. Both locations don’t provide much in the way of free convenient parking, clinic so workers at both locations currently provide a good deal of business for the 183-corridor express buses. Leander residents are much more suburban and conservative than Central Austin residents, so the performance and reliability gap between transit and the car would need to be smaller, in my opinion, to attract new riders to choose transit than it would be for the analogous central Austinite. I expect most of those who are motivated by expensive or inconvenient parking are already taking those express buses, in other words. (and the express buses are actually pretty nice; most of the time I can read in them without getting carsick).
Numbers indicate “seats”. IE, if the number gets up to 3, you had to ride in 3 vehicles to get there. T indicates transfers. W indicates wait. P indicates pedestrian trip.
“Current” is indicated next to the bus trip because there are some indications that Capital Metro might eliminate some of the 183-corridor express buses in order to induce more commuter rail ridership.
Note that the “shuttle bus” portion of this trip will, even if made on a streetcar, still have the same traffic characteristics (i.e. a streetcar running in mixed traffic will still be as slow and unreliable as a shuttle bus).
See notes after the table for more.

Passenger Trip Commuter Rail Light Rail (2000) Bus (current) Car
Leander to the University of Texas (1). Drive to Leander park-and-ride.
(W). Wait for train.
(2). Ride commuter rail to MLK station (not stuck in traffic).
(W). Hopefully shuttle bus is waiting for you (short wait).
(3). Ride shuttle bus (stuck in traffic) to UT
(P). Walk to office
Estimated time: 1 hour, 25 minutes to 1 hour, 45 minutes

(1). Drive to Leander park-and-ride.
(W). Wait for train.
(2). Ride light rail all the way to UT (not stuck in traffic).
(P). Short walk to office
Estimated time: 1 hour

(1). Drive to Leander park-and-ride.
(W). Wait for bus.
(2). Ride express bus (stuck in traffic) to UT
(P). Short walk to office
Estimated time: 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 hour, 45 minutes

(1). Drive (stuck in traffic) to UT area
(W). Find parking
(P). Potentially long walk to office
Estimated time: 40 minutes to 1 hour, 5 minutes
Leander to the state Capitol (1). Drive to Leander park-and-ride.
(W). Wait for train.
(2). Ride commuter rail to MLK station (not stuck in traffic).
(W). Hopefully shuttle bus is waiting for you (short wait).
(3). Ride shuttle bus (stuck in traffic) to UT
(P). Walk to office
Estimated time: 1 hour, 35 minutes to 1 hour, 55 minutes

(1). Drive to Leander park-and-ride.
(W). Wait for train.
(2). Ride light rail all the way to UT (not stuck in traffic).
(P). Short walk to office
Estimated time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

(1). Drive to Leander park-and-ride.
(W). Wait for bus.
(2). Ride express bus (stuck in traffic) to UT
(P). Short walk to office
Estimated time: 1 hour, 20 minutes to 1 hour, 50 minutes

(1). Drive (stuck in traffic) to UT area
(W). Find parking
(P). Potentially long walk to office
Estimated time: 45 minutes to 1 hour, 10 minutes


In general, I assumed you would get to the express bus stop and wait 5-10 minutes for the express bus, and I was charitably assuming it would be on time. The remainder of that trip is from the 7:25 route in from Leander, and assuming a 5 minute or less walk from the stop. The drive is me estimating what I suppose it would take that time of day (I’d like to hear from a Leander resident that makes this trip in their car for a more accurate estimate). The commuter rail time has such a wide swing because of the shuttle bus component – buses fare worse than cars in heavy traffic due to their acceleration characteristics and the fact that they can’t change their route to get around heavy traffic. In general, I assume that the more time you spend on a bus, the less reliable your trip (could be faster or slower than the average). (The express buses don’t try to slow down to avoid hitting stops early on the way in in the mornings, unlike city buses, so you actually could get dropped off earlier than schedule indicates).
Note that one of the key attractions to the 2000 light rail route is its reliability. A route which doesn’t require that you take shuttle buses can dependably get you to work at the same time every day. The train isn’t stuck in traffic, and you don’t have to make any transfers.

This use case analyzes a typical central Austin resident.
Let’s consider a lawyer who lives in one of those expensive houses in Hyde Park and wants to get to his law office downtown. Mister Law-Talkin’-Guy probably has free parking available in his office building, link but many downtown workers don’t (they would have to pay to park). Today, medical Mister LTG doesn’t take the bus, about it because it’s a lot slower than his car, and he can park for free in his building.
Numbers indicate “seats”. IE, if the number gets up to 3, you had to ride in 3 vehicles to get there. T indicates transfers. W indicates wait. P indicates pedestrian trip.

Passenger Trip Commuter Rail Light Rail (2000) Bus Car
Hyde Park to Downtown Office Building (6th/Congress) (P). Walk to bus stop.
(W). Wait for bus
(1). Take normal city bus (new route) to commuter rail station out in east Austin or north on Lamar.
(W). Wait for train.
(2). Ride commuter rail to Convention Center station (not stuck in traffic).
(W). Hopefully shuttle bus is waiting for you (short wait).
(3). Ride shuttle bus “circulator” (stuck in traffic) to 4th/Congress
(P). Walk 2 blocks to office
Estimated time: 35-50 minutes

(P). Walk a few blocks to Guadalupe.
(W). Wait for train
(1). Ride light rail train (not stuck in traffic) to 6th/Congress
(P). Short (sub-block) walk to office
Estimated time: 15 minutes

(P). Walk to Speedway (for #5), Duval (for #7), or Guadalupe (for #1, #101, or Rapid).
(W). Wait for bus
(1). Ride bus (stuck in traffic – yes, even the Rapid Bus is stuck in traffic) to 6th/Congress
(P). Short (sub-block) walk to office
Estimated time: 25-40 minutes

(1). Drive (stuck in traffic) to downtown
(W). Find parking in own parking garage
(P). Walk to office
Estimated time: 10-20 minutes

To me, the only transit option which seems remotely palatable to Mr. LTG is the light-rail trip, because it could save time over his drive through rush-hour traffic. None of the other options are likely to be remotely competitive in time or reliability – in fact, the light rail trip might be a BIT slower than his car too. But if you’re a downtown worker who has to pay to park, or parks a few blocks away from your office, the light-rail option would be a clear winner. The light rail trip might even win Mr. LTG over since he’d have a smooth comfortable ride where he could read the Wall Street Journal, which of course he can’t do when he’s driving, and probably not on the bus, unless he’s unusually carsickness-resistant.
Note how unreliable the trips are which involve navigating traffic. On a good day, the car would beat even the light rail trip; but on a bad day, light rail would be faster. Light rail’s speed doesn’t change, in other words, because it has its own lane. The bus and the shuttle-bus both suffer from this worse than even the private car does, since you can always change your route when you’re driving.
This particular passenger type maps well to UT students who live at the Triangle, or to UT staffers who live anywhere central, etc. Essentially, the entire central Austin residential market could have been very well-served by light rail, but will not be served at ALL by commuter rail.
Most people in Central Austin are transit-positive. That is, even if they own a car, they’re willing to seriously consider using public transportation. A good number of these folks take city buses today; but the idea that Rapid Bus is going to get a non-trivial number of the remainder to leave their cars at home is ridiculous.
What about streetcars? The Future Connections Study, as I previously noted, has settled on a route which winds from downtown up to UT, then east to Mueller, so it won’t be of much use for actual residents of Central Austin. Even if it DID go “straight up the gut” as intelligent folks asked for, it wouldn’t be able to beat the city bus (or Rapid Bus) – unlike light rail vehicles, streetcars share lanes with cars.

For Thanksgiving I’d like to thank the guy who’s hosting this blog out of the goodness of his heart, visit web Baba. He graciously agreed to rescue this thing from the purgatory of io.com after a failure to do database backups on their part left me in a real bad spot, ambulance spent a non-trivial chunk of time setting up stuff for me, and hasn’t bugged me since to move on. And man, have I been lazy and cheap in not doing so.
So thanks Baba. The internet would be crackplogless if it was not for your largesse.

Since I’m being assailed again by Lyndon Henry for being anti-rail-transit, shop I spent a bit of time looking for additional Tri-Rail mentions in the press, and found this one from the Orlando Press:

The greatest hindrance to Mica’s rail, however, could come from the failure of a predecessor, South Florida’s Tri-Rail, which runs from Palm Beach County south to Miami. Tri-Rail has proven costly; it has drained $433 million so far, and reports say it needs another $327 million to stay alive. Despite the investment, Tri-Rail averages only 60 percent of its projected ridership, and governments subsidize more than 70 percent of the operating costs.
The problem? Essentially, Tri-Rail doesn’t go anywhere. For most of its 11-year life, Tri-Rail delved only into northern Dade County. “That’s like taking a train from Volusia and dropping people off at the Seminole County line,” Mica says. Connections to major workplaces and airports rely on unreliable bus systems. Moreover, Tri-Rail only runs once an hour, and is frequently late at that.

Could rewrite this as:
The problem? Essentially, All Systems Go doesn’t go anywhere. It delves only into the southeastern edge of downtown. Connections to major workplaces and airports rely on unreliable bus systems. Moreover, ASG only runs twice an hour, and not at all at mid-day.

In case you thought I’d never pick one which works well with commuter rail, hepatitis we’ve got one (although light rail would have worked a little bit better).
Analyzing a couple of reverse commutes:
Case 1 is a young downtown resident (of one of the condo buildings now under construction, and for instance) who works at IBM (which as the draft environmental impact assessment states, women’s health will be right next to one of the stations). Parking up at IBM is free, of course.
Most of the residential development downtown is on the west side of Congress (except for the Milago and the 555, which are within walking distance of the train station). This puts the majority of housing units within a 5 minute walk of the 2000 light rail line with a short shuttle bus ride for the commuter rail station; with the Milago and 555 being the opposite.
For a minor variation, my own commute when I was working at IBM was from my condominium in Clarksville, from which I could have ridden a bus to either rail station from a couple of bus options – add 10 more minutes for extra bus travel for those trips.
Numbers indicate “seats”. IE, if the number gets up to 3, you had to ride in 3 vehicles to get there. T indicates transfers. W indicates wait. P indicates pedestrian trip.

Passenger Trip Commuter Rail Light Rail (2000) Bus Car
Downtown condo to IBM For the majority: (P). Walk to shuttle bus stop.
(W). Wait for shuttle bus.
(1). Ride shuttle bus to rail station at Convention Center
(W). Short wait (we hope) for train
(2). Ride commuter rail (not stuck in traffic) to station near IBM
(P). Walk to office at IBM or Tivoli
Estimated time: 40-50 minutes (5 minute walk on each end; 5-15 minute range wait and ride on shuttle bus)
(P). Walk a few blocks to Guadalupe.
(W). Short wait for train
(1). Ride light rail train (not stuck in traffic) to station near IBM/Tivoli
(P). Walk to office.
Estimated time: 40 minutes (5 minute walk on each end).

(P). Walk to downtown bus stop for #174 express bus.
(W). Wait for bus.
(1). Bus ride to stop near IBM (far from Tivoli).
(P). Walk to office
Estimated time: 50-70 minutes (5 minute walk to bus stop; 5-10 minute wait for bus; 35-45 minute bus trip; 5-10 minute walk to office)

(1). Drive (stuck in traffic, but reverse commute is free-flowing in morning; quite bad in evening) to office
(W). Find parking in own parking garage
(P). Walk to office
Estimated time: 15-45 minutes

Unless you live in Milago or 555, this commutes would be better on light rail than on commuter rail, but the car still kicks both to the curb during the morning commute and probably always will. The afternoon is where this commute really gets competitive – this is the route I used to have to drive when I worked up north and lived in Clarksville, and it’s not pretty. You can sometimes save a bit of time by using alternate routes, but it’s never quick; the problem is that the express bus on Burnet isn’t going to be quick or reliable either since it’s stuck in stoplight and slow-speed traffic conditions. Rapid bus isn’t an option for this commute (at least, not initially – the long-term buildout indicates a route up Burnet). Both commuter rail and light rail allow passengers to at least obtain a more reliable commute, and in some cases even a faster one.
Having lived this commute, I’d pick light rail and MAYBE commuter rail over the car – a comfortable transit ride which took on average 5 minutes longer but was reliable and allowed me to work or read would have been a big winner. The scary thing about the commuter rail trip would be (of course) the bus transfer (if your shuttle is running late due to traffic, you’re on the next train ride 30 minutes later). Light rail would have run about every ten minutes during the peak hours; so the penalty for missing a train would not be as scary.
Either rail line could pick up a small number of passengers who match this travel pattern (small because most workers at the IBM-area complexes live in Round Rock and other north/northwest suburbs; only a handful live central). The other thing this travel pattern has going for it is that the car trip is only going to get worse; while both the light rail and commuter rail trip are unlikely to get much slower since neither one relies heavily on a bus component.
Case 2 is the same downtown resident but he now works at one of the tech businesses on the 183 corridor (let’s not even talk about the apalling amount of office space on Loop 360).
I’ve worked in several offices along this corridor while living in central Austin, so I know the area very well. An interesting fact about the light and commuter rail plans is that despite claiming to be alternatives to the 183 corridor, neither one goes anywhere near a parallel line to US 183 until they approach Cedar Park from the east. This means that the predicted rerouting or elimination of the 183-corridor express buses is really going to hurt transit in this area.
Numbers indicate “seats”. IE, if the number gets up to 3, you had to ride in 3 vehicles to get there. T indicates transfers. W indicates wait. P indicates pedestrian trip.
I’m picking the first office I had at S3 in 1998 – because it happens to be located directly across Jollyville from the Pavillion Park and Ride (I would take the express bus up many mornings and ride my bike home).

Passenger Trip Commuter Rail Light Rail (2000) Bus Car
Downtown condo to 183-corridor For the majority: (P). Walk to shuttle bus stop.
(W). Wait for shuttle bus.
(1). Ride shuttle bus to train station at Convention Center
(W). Short wait (we hope!) for train
(2). Ride commuter rail (not stuck in traffic) to station near IBM or station at Howard Lane
(W). Wait for transfer bus (no high-frequency circulator in either of these areas).
(3). Ride transfer bus to 183-corridor stop (stuck in traffic and slow)
Estimated time: 45 to 85 minutes (5 minute walk on each end; 30-35 minute train trip; 10-45 minute range wait and ride on bus)
(P). Walk a few blocks to Guadalupe.
(W). Wait for train
(1). Ride light rail (not stuck in traffic) to station near IBM or station at Howard Lane
(W). Wait for transfer bus (no high-frequency circulator in either of these areas).
(2). Ride transfer bus to 183-corridor stop (stuck in traffic and slow)
Estimated time: 45 to 85 minutes (5 minute walk on each end; 30-35 minute train trip; 10-45 minute range wait and ride on bus)
(P). Walk to downtown bus stop for 983 express bus.
(W). Wait for bus.
(1). Bus ride to stop near IBM (far from Tivoli).
(P). Walk to office
Estimated time: 50-70 minutes (5 minute walk to bus stop; 5-10 minute wait for bus; 35-45 minute bus trip; 5-10 minute walk to office)

(1). Drive (stuck in traffic, but reverse commute is free-flowing in morning; quite bad in evening) to office
(W). Find parking in own parking lot/garage
(P). Walk to office
Estimated time: 15-45 minutes

Unfortunately, neither light rail nor commuter rail is going to work for this trip, even if you brought your bike along and wanted to ride from the station to your office. (There are no good bike routes from either the prospective Howard Lane-area station or the IBM-area to the Jollyville corridor). Express buses today aren’t horrible (you’ll spend a good deal more time in the morning and be nearly competitive in the afternoon), but might be going away as part of this rail plan. Clearly neither rail line would gain a non-trivial number of passengers falling into this travel pattern.

So the former mayor of Austin got seriously hurt while riding with the people who like to load their bikes up in their Tahoes, find drive out to the country, page and go for a ride, herbal and people are claiming his helmet saved him. Which is newsworthy since he’s the one who pushed an all-ages helmet law here in Austin (which got me to stop riding for a year or so), despite the fact that bicycle helmets don’t appear to be working. The old “the doctor said his helmet saved his life” canard has come up, and of course, the fact that his helmet is crushed and he’s alive is taken as proof that the first caused the second. Folks like the members of the ACA, who generally go riding for fun on the weekends, don’t understand how anybody wouldn’t want to wear a helmet; but oddly enough, a much larger percentage of those of us who ride for transportation find them ranging from uncomfortable and inconvenient to way-too-hot. And, of course, useless.
I didn’t really want to talk about this story, because even though he pushed this helmet law and did a lot of other nasty things, he’s lying in a hospital bed, and using his accident for political purposes is pretty wrong. But the pro-helmet people are out in force on this one, and they need to be answered.
I have a story to tell.
The one time I rode my bike down to New Braunfels to go toobing (before the reactive arthritis ruined my toes), I went over my handlebars after a light turned red too quickly for me to safely stop at an intersection on the far south end of San Marcos. I flew like Superman, put my hands out, landed and skidded in some gross black oil which the drizzle had brought to the surface of the road, and came to a stop short of the intersection. I survived (and rode on to New Braunfels, although more slowly), and a good chunk of the hair on my chest and my knees was scraped off. Cuts and bruises on both, of course.
From this, I conclude that the hair on my chest saved my life. Because I hit the pavement chest-first; and the chest hair got ripped off. That’s all the proof I need.
From here on out, I’m going to make fun of anybody who rides their bike who doesn’t have a really hairy chest. And I plan on pushing for mandatory bicycle chest hair laws. Because, after all, it’s all about safety.
Studies which show no relationship in the real world between the amount of chest hair and likelihood of dying on the road will be ignored by me, and the people who still insist on riding despite their relative hairlessness will be mocked as potential Darwin Award winners.
I’m sorry Mayor Todd is hurt. Even though I think his work screwed Austin in a number of ways during his tenure on the Council; he doesn’t deserve the painful recovery process he’ll endure, at best, and his family doesn’t deserve the consequences either way. But the rest of you? Just shut up about stuff you know nothing about. Even if bicycle helmets actually provided the safety benefits people think they do, you’re a lot healthier over the long run if you ride your bike (helmetless!) than if you drive.

  • Full disclosure: I haven’t been a big bike rider in a few years and when I was it was mountain biking and I did wear a helmet, mostly because I wasn’t very good 🙂
    But snide comments about the perceived moral superiority aired by the helmet proponents, as long as there isn’t a law that you must wear a helmet (only 17 and under are required, correct?), what is the downside of wearing one? I am sure both sides could show lies, damn lies, and statistics to back up the view that helmets help/don’t help, but if you’re against helmets because you believe they’re not effective, what’s the downside of someone wearing one? Looking dumb? 🙂

  • When I mountain-biked, I _did_ wear one, because mountain biking at anything more than trivial speed _is_ dangerous.
    The problem with wearing one on the road is it convinces all those soccer moms that biking is dangerous. “Safety in numbers” works big-time for biking, so anything which keeps potential cyclists off the road is bad for those who remain on the road. If the helmet doesn’t buy you any safety (it apparently doesn’t), AND it’s uncomfortable (hot), AND it makes cycling look dangerous, I think the balance of evidence suggests you’d be better off NOT wearing it, but I don’t go around trying to convince helmet-wearers to take theirs off.

  • Spillmann

    While you’re lobbying for protective chest hair, can we get an ammendment for protective back hair? I am the safest guy in the world, and I have the back hair to prove it.

  • Yeah, but you have to ride your bike backwards. That’s going to require some interesting mirror action.

  • Monty H

    OK OK The real reason I wear a helmet is because I’m bald. No protective hairs up there.
    And biking is dangerous. Soccer mom’s don’t need a helmeted rider to prove this. That’s such a lame argument and isn’t supported by any facts. The guy riding at night on the wrong side of the road is enough proof to most people.

  • The statistics show that even with those wrong-way no-lights guy in the mix, bicycling is still safer than driving. Sorry.
    And wearing a helmet because you’re bald does, in my new theory, make a heck of a lot of sense. Good work!

  • Dan

    Mike, I take it that your helmet position is that there is no detectible decrease in bicycle fatalities when cyclists wear helmets. However, do you also assert that given a bicycle accident, that helmets do not mitigate injury? If you assert the later, then I would have to disagree.
    From reading many of your article links, it seems that many of the articles assert the former, and do not assert the later.
    From my own personal experience, I have had 4 bicycle crashes involving my head, 2 with helmets and 2 without. The two accidents with helmets gave me cracked helmets, headaches, and a sore neck. The two without helmets gave me loss-of consciousness (one for 15 minutes), concussion, sprained neck, stitches in scalp, stitches in ear, and two visits to the emergency room. I have similar anecdotes from friends. I definitely believe wearing a helmet mitigates bicycling accident injuries.

  • I would assert given the data you present that we don’t have any grounds to judge either way based on your experience, since your 4 accidents were likely not close enough to ‘identical’ to be used against each other. (That’s the rub here – in order to ‘prove’ that your helmet saved you in any given accident, you would need to reset everything to normal, and then engage in the same exact accident without a helmet – oh, and do it 20 times, too, to get rid of random variations).
    So ANY person who claims that their helmet did or didn’t save them in any given accident or accidents is going beyond the bounds of what the data actually support.
    On the other hand, the populational data (head injuries versus helmet usage) is so huge that if helmets had a non-trivial effect on head injuries, it would be seen in the graph.
    That being said, I wear mine when I go mountain-biking. Sure. But there’s no rational reason to wear one when road cycling, unless you also wear one in your car (where your risk of a head injury is higher; and where the negative effects of a helmet are less).

  • Oh, and of course, the other thing is that your riding style might have something to do with it as well. I can’t believe that four head injuries on the road don’t say anything about how you’re riding, compared to my zero (or the zero of the grannies in Amsterdam who ride their whole lives without helmets).

  • Dan

    Mike, I don’t compare my 4 head accidents against each other, but I do assert that had I been wearing a helmet in either of my lidless accidents, my injuries would have been lessened. Given a helmet, my scalp and ear scars would not have happened. Additionally I have lots of anecdotes of other riders who have had lessened injuries thanks to helmets, including one friend’s helmeted head, who I RAN OVER while riding, and came away uninjured. (Riding in big bike packs leads to many more crashes than riding solo!)
    I am only talking about bicycle head impacts here, I have loads of non-head injury stories too.
    Riding style might come into play. Then too, so may group rides versus solo rides – I have very few solo injury stories. Then too so may miles on the bike – I’ve been riding on 2 wheels for 38 years now, road, mountain, commuter, triathlon, trick-bikes, you name it.
    Your chest hair story does not sound so ludicrous to me. Sure, it might be going too far to claim that it saved your life, but it does not sound strange to me that sliding on your chest hairs might have saved some skin. My dogs are a good example of this. I get cut everytime we go hiking. They with their thick hair get no cuts at all.

  • I won’t even disagree with your scalp and ear comments. It’s quite likely that a helmet, in that one crash, would have helped save you from minor cosmetic injuries.
    But so would a cloth cap, like some European riders wear.
    The reason I bring up “riding style” is that when I was riding my bike for transportation, the Shoal Creek racers would roll their eyes at me when I’d do it without a helmet; but, frankly, they were in a lot more danger of a head injury (with helmet) than I was without.

  • Some Guy

    Go ahead and go helmetless. We don’t need you in the gene pool.

  • Some Guy,
    Thanks for the perfect confirmation that helmet promoters are a bunch of idiotic morons who don’t understand statistics.

  • Spillmann

    MIEK:
    No, backhair just means, I’ll be forced to crash on my back.
    By the way, I got this link from a mountain biking listserv today.
    http://www.noginsox.com/services.html
    Saddenly, they have no covers that look like an ass (asshat, get it?). Otherwise, I would get one for myself.
    HAND

  • yarg

    MIEK, There is no statistical correlation between helmet promoters and idiotic morons who don’t understand statistics. You don’t have any grounds to judge either way based on your experience. In order to ‘prove’ that helmet promoters are idiotic morons, you would need to reset everything to normal, and do it 20 times, too, to get rid of random variations. In fact, if statistics don’t show it, it does not exist!

  • Yes! Another cyclist who understands that cycling is generally safe and helmets send the wrong message. Thank you.
    One of these days I need to write an article outlining how to effectively fight mandatory helmet laws.