Thursday, July 16, 2009

E-Biker rules

(inspired by a thread in I Bike TO)
(New to I Bike T.O. - Hi everyone!)
I'm an e-biker, after more than a decade of regular biking I picked one up when my morning commute went from 10 minutes downhill to an hour uphill.

Context:Every day I ride...
Dundas/Ossington->Harbord/Ossington->Yonge/Bloor->Yonge/Merton->MacRae/Laird->Leslie/Eglinton on my e-bike; and then home again

When I got it, it was covered in all sorts of plastic fairings, footrests and panels (probably about 8 pounds). Over the past 18 months everything but the handlebar casing with the headlamp and electronics shed off on bits and pieces. As it shed away I learned more about the mechanics of the machine and made some adjustments (An aside in regards to e-bike maintenance - Canada needs its own manufacturer of e-bikes, or better yet some of the bike shops that do custom builds need to get their heads out of their asses and start offering hub motors and battery mounts as accessories, and designing customs with electrics instead of giving me disgusted/disparaging looks when I come in with a fist full of cash looking for parts, repairs, or someone willing to get paid to mod my ride).

My original top speed was ~32KM/h full out on the battery, with the 5 inch diameter chain ring on the undersized pedals really doing sweet f-all. So, once my warranty lapsed I had the hub motor pulled out of the 22' rim (yeah, 22', try and find replacement tube or tires for that when you get a flat or a warp) and put in a 24' double walled downhill racing rim, doubled the diameter of my chain ring and lengthened my pedals. Now I can get up to 32KM/h on battery, but maintain or surpass that speed under my own power. All I need now is to swap the front 22' for a 24' and replace the crappy drum brakes with new discs and I'll be golden.

I ride somewhat aggressively, I take my lane when the shoulder is in poor condition, when I'm turning or passing on the left - but I feel comfortable in doing so because I follow what I think are some simple 'E-Bike Rules' based on the philosophy that ' I'm a frakking slow motorcycle that has guest privileges in the bike lane' so...
a) Use the bike lane when it is safe for other cyclists that I am there, otherwise take a lane.
b) Ride the right side of the bike lane (the fast side).
c) Pass cyclists in a bike lane only after moving into the leftmost vehicle lane.
d) Signal all turns, stops and lane changes well in advance (at least 10 meters).
e) Do a FULL stop at ALL red lights and stop signs with other vehicles at them, I allow myself a slow yield at stop signs with no one else around.
f) Announce myself to others as I come up behind them, or am attempting to pass them by either calling 'On your left', or a short bleep on the horn.
g) DO NOT wear headphones or ear buds while riding so I can hear traffic and other riders (I have small speakers mounted to my helmet instead :P) .
h) DO NOT do anything while in motion that would require me to take either hand off my handlebars for any reason other than signaling turns or stops - no drinks, smokes, phones, texting, mp3 selecting, etc.
i) Do not use bike paths, those are for people on bikes, if I want to use the bike path then I can just damn well ride my regular bike.
j) Assume all drivers don't see you.
k) Assume all pedestrians are going to suddenly dart out into traffic from between two vans.
l) Assume any cyclists without a helmet, wearing headphones, or talking on their cellphones while riding is going to either cut you off or get hit by a frakking car because they are frakking asking for it.
m) Cab drivers have no idea what the actual rules of the road are, they just make them up as they go along.
n) Don't try and pass people in spandex with toe clips - you may have a motor, but they can still go faster.
o) Don't try and take the same short cuts as a bike courier, you'll end up with bent rims and battery acid all over your pants.
p) When going down Yonge St. from St Claire to Bloor learn to brake two blocks ahead - once you get your timing for the lights down its almost like a roller coaster.
q) 50 Year old men in convertibles blasting 80's hair metal are to be given 50ft clearance, they have a tendency to swerve a lot when they see boobies.
r) Carry enough tools and patches to fix a flat
s) Offer to help people that look like they may need help.
t) When you're in heavy traffic and come across a clump of older, slower, or frailer riders having difficulties with cars crowding them take your 350 lbs of flesh and steel into the lane just behind them until they thin out, that's a mitzvah.
u) Don't wear all black at night, that's just stupid.
v) And no hoodies up while riding, that's even stooooopider.
w) Wait until you get where you need to go BEFORE you drink a large coffee - Caffeine in traffic leads to adrenaline , adrenaline in traffic leads to agitation, agitation in traffic leads to u-locks hitting $%^$@#^@# Hummer windshields when they block not only an entire lane, but the bike lane as well.
x) Nicorette is better than cigarettes if you have a long bike/ebike commute, not just in the short run, but in the long run as well.
y) Pull over and stop for emergency vehicles - lead by example 'cus someday they may be coming for you.
z) Don't get too close to the curb at the north west corner of Spadina and Harbord after it rains or you're gonna need to change your shoes, socks, and pants.

Hmmm... anyone else have any suggestions for rules E-bikers should follow?
(I'm putting this one on the blog, holy crap! did I just spend an hour on this!)

2 Comments:

Blogger Andrew Sadavoy said...

Great post. I'm not a biker at all, but as car driver (formerly in Toronto), I appreciate that you are thinking about others on the road.

6:05 AM  
Blogger balmmaker said...

Very interesting read. But avoid all non-helmet wearers as they are asking to be hit? That's crazy. I bike daily and have found that cars ride way closer when I do wear a helmet. Since I value the rest of my body and the added distance from cars -- I don't wear a helmet.

Putting me in the same league as someone with headphones or using a cell phone while biking...that's offensive -- I've ridden daily for years (even though the winter) and never been in an accident.

6:49 PM  

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