Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cars Are Hazardous

(Courtesy of Bentley Motors)

It has come to the attention of the good people at Bentley Motors that their "Winged B" hood ornament could injure a pedestrian in the event of a crash. The spring mount of the ornament is designed to retract in the case of such an unfortunate event, but alas the mechanism may corrode, leading to failure and thus Bentley has issued a preventative recall. I, for one, applaud Bentley's application of conscience in this matter and look forward to the logical consequence of this precedent, namely that auto manufacturers and the public at large will recognize that placing several tons of metal in motion is hazardous to human life and we will recall vast numbers of these dangerous machines. Until that day, I will continue to point people towards resources that will allow them to reduce their dependence on these hazardous devices and increase their chances at avoiding unfortunate encounters with machines of excessive momentum. In that spirit, I invite everyone to spend a few minutes looking at Michael Bluejay's excellent site: How Not To Get Hit By Cars.

While my own preferences have lead me to construct a life in which I avoid interactions with personal motor vehicles as much as possible, many people successfully use their cars or trucks to transport their bikes. People do this successfully every day, but I work in a bike shop and at least a few times a year I get to see what happens when the car+bike story ends as tragically as the scorpion+frog story.

Image and sad story via theZeph

If you do carry your bike on a roof rack, always, always, always remember it is there. Because if you don't and you drive home into your garage or through a bank drive-thru or into a parking garage, you may get that loud, sickening reminder like theZeph did. I know some folks stuff their garage remote into an old cycling glove to help them remember. I think if I were in a position to be piloting such a big rig, I'd remember the cautionary fable sung by C.W. McCall in which he recounts a sign saying "clearance to the twelve-foot line, but the chickens was stacked to thirteen-nine."

Rear racks are not without their own perils, however. I know several people who have had their bikes smashed when their cars were rear ended, a few that have had their bikes fall off their racks and just this past Sunday I sold a new tire to a fellow whose bike tire had been toasted by a too hot tailpipe.

Since I'm not a car-driver, I have no sage advice other than this: cars are hazardous. Remember that.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


Micheal Blue said...

Kent, there is a third alternative to transporting a bike: I put my foldable bike inside the car. It even fits on the rear seat comfortably. Yet I can ride it as fast as a full-size bike. I find it funny when people say things like "cars are hazardous" or "the earthquake killed so many people" or "the snowstorm caused so many crashes".
All of that is highly inaccurate, of course. People who can't handle cars are hazardous; during earthquakes people get killed by falling/collapsing things, not by the earthquakes (if the buildings would be built to withstand even strong earthquakes, nobody would get killed); people get into even fatal car accidents during snowstorms because they can't handle the cars and/or they don't have the proper vehicles for the adverse conditions. Sometimes people have this funny tendency to blame things rather than seeing that in the great majority of cases it's the people that are responsible.

Shawn Small said...

we have been doing a whole pile of repairs from frames that have met their doom from being driven into the garage.
We are playing with the idea of making a Roof Rack Reminder for our customers so we don't have to see them again.

Dan O said...

I've witnessed the affects of a few bike rack disasters over the years - lucky none of my own...

I worked in a bike shop years ago, customer bought two new bikes and loaded 'em himself on a rear trunk rack. After leaving, returned to the shop shortly, with new bikes still racked - complete with four bent wheels. Rack was mounted too low, wheels hit ground, bikes wrecked before even unloaded. Yikes. I've seen the burned tire from the exhaust pipe as well.

I witnessed someone drive under a parking garage with two roof mounted bikes. Impact cleaned the rack and bikes right off the roof. Impressive.

Co-worker fellow bike pal once drove into his car port with mountain bike on roof. When he heard the crunch, panic caused him to quickly back out - causing more damage. Bent frame, fork, saddle ripped off, dented car roof. Nice.

I witnessed a bike leave a roof rack while they were buzzing down I-5. Luckily, landed in the median without causing a car accident as well.

A motorcycle pal of mine wasn't as lucky, crashed on 405 after hitting a bicycle ejected from a rack - causing him to break his leg.

If you do transport bikes on your car - make sure they're secure. I'm paranoid transporting mine and always double check everything.

theZeph said...

While i don't recommend anyone suffer the angst of driving your bike into the garage, two positives came out of my brain fart:

1) home owners insurance came through with flying colors to not only get me a new bike, but a new and improved UPGRADED bike. gotta love the benefits from the unholy union of bike price inflation and insurance replacement value. holla!

2) i submitted the photo of my crumpled heap of a bike to a local "best bike pic" contest and won a free jersey from black bottoms. that didn't suck.

all's well that ends well, right? thanks for the post kent.

Anonymous said...

when gas passes $4, get an american flag and ride around local gas stations

Marty said...

Check out the Toys on Top sign. It hangs from your rearview mirror, staying right in sight, so you don’t forget that you’ve got valuable stuff on the roof! Works at home or at the bank or at the drive-thru.

Available on for $7.95