Diigo Links

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

about chaos in my life

(update Jan 28 2011 - got another glass puncture yesterday riding on the side of the road. And I'm not riding tiny tyres. I'm on 700c x 40 Marathon Plus - these are rough-and-ready proper tyres. Frustrated)

The City of Sydney recently spent a lot of money on new cycle lanes. That's great. But here's a problem I've got: glass.

Don't know who designed these cycle lanes, but they've designed an effective glass-gravity-well.

There are two issues here:

1. Bogans who throw glass on the ground
  a. they've been doing this since roads or glass was created (not sure which came first)
  b. a designated "cycle lane" gives them a target with a specific focus against a demographic
    i. It's common for "car drivers" in Sydney to "hate" cyclists
    ii. It's common for people who've had their car driving licences revoked to become what they hate
2. Raised curbs around the bike lanes
  a. they're a hazard to riders because of the way they're built (won't get into that now, as it's not glass-related)
  b. they effectively trap broken glass in the bike lane!

Solution 1, and my current solution:

Ride in the street where I used to ride before the bike lanes were built. Now, I admit there are several problems with this solution. But the alternative (riding in the bike lane itself) causes me to not ride at all, due to punctures.

Now, why chaos is cool

Ever wonder why bike riders like to ride in the lane as opposed to on the shoulder ("where they f$ck!ng belong, damn-it. They don't pay registration fees! They shouldn’t be allowed on my road!" - no, I'm totally serious, this is a commonly held opinion) There is no glass in the lanes of car traffic. But there's heaps of glass on the side of the road. Why is that? Because of the coolness of chaos. (And if you look closely here you might just see the an indication of the spontaneous origins of life.)

Scenario: Empty bottle of V falls out the back of a ute. It breaks in the middle of the road. Let's follow the path of one shard of this broken glass. It sits tight, until a car runs it over. Car tyre picks it up, throws it out again in the direction of travel. But the glass hits the ground with considerable velocity and continues to bounce. If we exclude the primary force vector in the direction of car-travel, we'll see that with each bounce on the ground, the glass deflects in one direction or another. The glass is left in one of two states:

State 1: On the side of the road where no more cars will pick it up and throw it around again.
State 2. Still in the middle of the road, awaiting another pick up.

If you know the frequency of glass breaking in a given area, and the number of cars per hour (for any given stretch of road), you can calculate the probability of finding glass in the middle of the road. I can't calculate it, because I'm functionally innumerate, but someone could.

But you'd really only need to know the frequency of glass breaking in a given area to know that there is glass on the side of the road there. Because once it's there, it doesn't go anywhere. It's not water-soluble or susceptible to degradation due to sunlight. It's heavy and does not float, so it takes quite a bit of rain to move it. It does undergo changes due to impact or abrasion (sea-glass), but it'd be safe to say that a piece of glass capable of puncturing a tyre has a very long half-life.

Example of what digaram might look like if someone came up with it:
or maybe:

That's one reason why I like to ride in the lane instead of in the gutter, the shoulder, or even the specifically designated and much designed Sydney Bike Lanes. (I think it also makes for a tidy little example of organisation from chaos)

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