Archive for the ‘traffic’ Category

korea law and cycling

April 14, 2014

The Korea Law Blog has  a post on cycling in Korea.  There’s a lot of good stuff there but here is a piece:

2. Rules Applying Only to Bicycles

a) To stay on the far right side when riding a bicycle on the road.

b) To get off and drag one’s bicycle when crossing a crosswalk.

c) To refrain from riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.

d) To refrain from operating a bicycle while being drunk, etc.

e) Overtaking through the “right side” is allowed.

3. Rules That Do Not Apply to Bicycles

a) Regular speed limits do not apply to bicycles.

b) Driving w/o a license do not apply to bicycles.

c) Drunk driving (forbidden, but no specific punishment for a cyclist is currently outlined).

d) The ban on the use of cell phones (while cycling) do not apply to bicycles.


Via James Turnbull.

Unnecessary canals

March 2, 2014

I used an ocean of pixels in attacking Lee Myoung Bak’s plan for a canal from Incheon up the Han River to Gangwondo and across to the Nakdong River (which also starts in Gangwon Province) and south to Busan.  The whole canal idea was ridiculous; the ocean offers a open water route between Incheon or Seoul and Busan and there are never traffic jams or delays for locks to fill and empty.  See here and here if you are interested.

A new canal is in the news, and although not in Korea, it might be similarly redundant.  Nicaragua may soon get a canal to compete with Panama’s.

The environmental impacts could be considerable.

A final route for the canal has not yet been announced, but the proposed routes pass through Lake Nicaragua, which covers about six times the area of Los Angeles and is Central America’s largest lake.

The lake is a major source of drinking water and irrigation, and home to rare freshwater sharks and other fish of commercial and scientific value, Huete-Pérez and Meyer say. The forest around it is home to howler monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, and countless tropical birds–not to mention several groups of indigenous people (some of whom have challenged the project in court, so far to no avail).

I’m a citizen of the world and benefit from international commerce.  I know nothing about the environmental impact of either Central American canal but I know I benefit from the one that currently exists.  It will be interesting to see what arguments are made against the proposed new canal and how the current one succeeds or fails on those aspects.

What precisely is an accident?

March 25, 2013

@bellevillebikes (their website)  tweeted today a link to an article about pedestrian-car crashes, who was at fault and if the word ‘accident’ should be used.  The first paragraph:

In 2010, the last year the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA) published such figures, a startling 4,280 pedestrians were hit and killed in traffic and 70,000 were injured. For many states, this past year was one of the most deadly in a decade, ending a general decline in pedestrian fatalities. Even still, there is a disturbing cultural willingness to accept these deaths as a necessary evil. The public increasingly blames the victims. The police rarely prosecute, and if they do, the courts are often lenient. In 2012, 136 pedestrians were killed and another 11,621 were injured in New York City alone—and in all that time, only one sober, unacquainted driver was charged.

As a fan of alternative forms of transportation, I try to follow news on the subject.  From Korea, and even more appropriate for a cycling advocate, comes news of this ‘accident’:

Seoul – A truck driver who killed three South Korean professional cyclists in a road accident has admitted he was watching a television mounted on his dashboard at the time, police said Thursday.

Tom Vandebilt, author of one of my favorite books, Traffic, has an entire blog category for misuse of the word ‘accident‘.  One excellent example is of a ‘bicycle accident’ caused by a  taxi.

The LAPD issued a directive instructing officers that a motorist can be held responsible for causing a bicycle accident even if he or she did not make direct contact with the rider — and can be arrested for fleeing the scene, Box said.

In other words, striking a bike with your car is “causing a bicycle accident.”


Updated: Asks “is it time for the NYPD to investigate bicycle accidents?

Advocates for pedestrians and cyclists have long argued the NYPD should dedicate more resources to collision investigations. For Stephan, the issue hits close to home. A year and a half ago, two good friends were struck and killed by motorists in the same week, and Stephan was struck by a vehicle earlier this year while biking along Kent Ave in Brooklyn. He said the NYPD’s reluctance to carry out full investigations of these incidents points to a larger cultural bias that tends to favor drivers and views cyclists as menaces to city streets.

“I think there’s a culture of windshield perspective in the NYPD,” he said. “A lot of the officers are from Staten Island or other places where they grew up driving. Drivers don’t want to see other drivers prosecuted.”

There’s some encouraging news for cyclists, however. Earlier this month, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly sent a letter to the City Council outlining a new policy in which the department has increased the size of its collision investigation squad and loosened the conditions for dispatching investigators. According to the letter, posted in full on, the squad had previously responded only to accidents where a victim was either dead or likely to die. Under the new guidelines, the squad will respond if there is serious injury or if a police department duty captain believes circumstances warrant action.

A lesson from Springwater Provincial Park for Arrowhead

March 20, 2013

Thank you very much, Emily Mckiernan for your corrections and advice regarding a year-long all-parks day pass for Ontario Provincial Parks.  Summer and year-long passes can be found here.  Thanks also to Lisa Fleming who linked to my previous article about Springwater Park on the Facebook Save Our Springwater  page.

I hope their work goes rewarded although, as I’ve previously noted, I have not been in the area long enough to be greatly invested in the park.

I need to correct a mistake I made in my previous post. I wrote that I had been to Springwater two times but I have since learned that my parents took me there many times when I was a young child.  I don’t remember this at all.

A new article in the Barrie Examiner suggests that the work to close the park is continuing.  The article describes plans for the animals currently in the park to be moved to new locations.  Ah, the article describes the animals as ‘wildlife’, and the animals mostly fit that definition but these are animals:

“… that have been injured in the wild, or are unable for a variety of reasons, unable to survive in the wild. This makes it [Springwater] unique among parks and an especially valuable treasure: one of a kind. It is a legacy for future generations,” Miller said.

They are not removing every squirrel or free wild animal.  That would be a little creepy.

Also in the article:

Springwater is the only provincial park with an animal sanctuary,…[and has] 29 animals, including Monty the bobcat, a black bear, a timber wolf, two foxes (one red and one silver), two raccoons (one of them albino), two wild turkeys, a turkey vulture, a great horned owl, a peregrine falcon, a rough-legged hawk, a trumpeter swan, two mute swans, three Canada geese, four white tailed deer, two lynx, two bald eagles and two skunks


Two groups are leading the charge to keep the park operational.

They include the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition at and the Friends of Springwater Provincial Park at


I think other Provincial parks need to take heed.  Algonquin, in my opinion, will always be here.  It is giant, famous and historic and just close enough to Toronto to be a daytrip.  Parks that I like and think are lesser known are Awenda and Arrowhead.  Arrowhead, get a Friends Of… group, get a real website, a Facebook page and more.  If you already have these things, I need to tell you that a Google search didn’t find them on the first page.  I did find this wordpress blog that looks like it is updated annually and dryly informative.  It does have a facebook page that looks well used.  Awenda could use one; this page needs work.


These are suggestions only.  I wonder how saturated people are with wilderness-based advertising.   Algonquin Outfitter’s Facebook page is updated nearly hourly. as is Pure Muskoka.  Well, even if the Facebook pages or other online content doesn’t attract many new visitors, it does a good job of maintaining the enthusiasm of longtime patrons.

What is RTO7 –Ontario Ministry of Tourism’s designation for the area (Regional Tourism Organization 7) doing to help Springwater – or Awenda?  And RTO12 for Arrowhead?


I am too newly returned to help Springwater in the way I would like, but I will do my best to post a Provincial Park image every day.

What am I teaching my son (mostly about driving)?

August 19, 2012

My son is at the age now where he asks reasonable questions; ones that show he has been thinking about the subject a little himself.*

We have been spending a lot of time in the car and he is curious about driving and traffic.  His mom recently got her driver’s licence so the subject is relevant.

Man, driving is a tough thing to explain.  I am not talking about physically driving and maneuvering large vehicles, but the rules and how and when they are ignored.  I’ve driven significant amounts in Canada and Korea.  I would like to think Canadian driving etiquette and behaviors fit some western standard but I don’t know.  Canadians take speed limits as mere suggestions but are scrupulous about obeying stoplights.  We use our turn signals almost every time.  Koreans are similar in their speeding habits but shockingly different in their acceptance of stoplights.  They also use their hazard lights at every opportunity while Canadians have to search out the button when they want to use their hazards.

(Image found here and not from my son.)

There are a lot of great drivers in the family I have married into and also my father was both skilled and knowledgable.   I myself, am only a fair driver.  I think I know my limitations so I can work around them but there are lots of better drivers than I out there.

Anyway, I think I have been, not deliberately, teaching my son that speeding is okay but that stoplights must be obeyed and that speeders might be good people but those who run red lights are jerks (I have forgotten he was in the car a few times and used stronger language).  I think my father would agree but are these my prejudices that I am training into my boy?

Most of the time I see drivers run red lights, they have slowed and clearly seen that the side streets are empty and no pedestrians are around.  Many times I see people running red lights after dawn -so the lighting and visibility are good- but so early that few people would be expected to be around.  I generally persist in thinking these drivers are bad but at the same time I wonder if I have been conditioned into accepting these delays that serve no purpose.

Now, readers who have heard the stats on traffic accidents here -it is a widely accepted assertion that Korea has the highest accident rate of any developed country and I believe it, but I haven’t seen any studies – might want to mention accidents they have seen.  I, too, have seen a few accidents.  One driver, running a red light, was screened from seeing the whole crosswalk by other vehicles and slowly rolled through to hit a bicycle – luckily being walked across and the rider was unharmed.  Running a red light during a busy part of the day on a busy street is freaking stupid.  Even on streets and at times that are usually quiet, running a red light is risky.  Still, treating a red light at as a simple stop sign in those conditions doesn’t seem irrational.  Waiting, as I always do, and always remind my son (who won’t be driving for about ten years or more), is the correct thing to do but also often unnecessary.

Here in Korea, where breaking the law was once seen as a form of revolt against Japanese oppressors or domestic dictators, a long history of law abiding behavior has not formed.  Here, in my room, I can abstractly consider the flexibility of thinking I see in Korean drivers – flexibility missing in other situations.

My grandfather lived long enough that his opinions on race, once mainstream and possibly even liberal, aged into mild unpleasantness.    My son is seven years old while most of my friends my age have teenagers.  I am eager to teach my son to swim and ride a bike and all those other value-neutral things but I am concerned about teaching my prejudices to him.


*When he was younger, I guess he asked reasonable questions as well.  As I recall, he would frequently ask about things that were new and needed to be sorted out in his mind.  When he was four, we were in Canada and discussing a friend’s properties.  The man owns a house and two apartments and was in the process of selling a house.  On one weekend, I was asked perhaps five times, “Ron owns four homes?”  One of these times was immediately after he had woken up, so clearly his sub-conscious had been working on the problem as well.

morning exercise in the parking lot

March 31, 2012

Our new apartment is working out pretty well.  I find the location to be much better.  However, it is an older apartment complex and I guess the parking requirements were smaller when it was built.  As a result, cars are parked in the two rows of parking spaces, then two rows are made between the parking spaces.  These cars are left in neutral so they can be moved more easily.

My son was eager to go outside this morning, and I saw an actual parking space available, so we shuffled cars around until I could drive around to the empty space.  Then, we moved some cars back so the throughways were clear.


Now, I wrote that the parking spaces fill up then rows are made between the spaces, and I think that is the appropriate order, but often people choose to park in the row rather than a space because it allows them to depart more easily in the morning.  This sometimes goes on leaving actual parking spaces nearly unreachable and contributing to more cars to be pushed.

For me, this means that when I have my car safely parked I don’t like to use it again if I know I will return in the evening.  I know busses are better for the environment and that Earth Day is coming, but one big reason I take the bus often is to avoid parking woes.  Perhaps, instead of Earth Day, we need ‘Don’t get uptight about parking; leave your car where it is for the day’ Day (Dguap;lycwiiftdD).

would it give you dusty-bum here?

August 6, 2011





In Utrecht, they’ve developed a ‘transit accelerator’ to reach rail stations.  It would be faster, but even more, it would make the whole city more fun to travel in.At Pop-up City, they have a video of the accelerator in use.

Via Freakenomics.


Apparently successful ‘sharing bicycle system’ in Changwon

July 4, 2011

I was in Changwon on the weekend and noticed many people on similar bikes.  Changwon has its own ‘sharing bicycle system’ –my previous article article here– and it is doing well.

In my previous post on bike-sharing systems, I suggested that Busan would not be a good place for one due to its steep mountain slopes (I was corrected in the comments and learned that Haeundae, at least, has one).  Changwon is a lot flatter but almost too spread out to be a good place for bike-commuting.

Changwon is (locally) famous as a planned city and it is well-organized with a consistent gridwork of streets and great bike paths along the side of most major streets.  Those bike paths are even well-shaded under broadleaved trees.  However, in my visits, almost every street seems to be six-lanes wide + bike paths and nothing feels close.  Timmins, Ontario, Canada was famous as Canada’s largest city in geographical area even though its population is still under 50,000.  It was just very spread out.  Changwon has that feel for me.

Still, I am happy to see the program exists in Korea and hope I can find an opportunity to use it.

cycling and urban traffic in the news

June 26, 2011

A few quick links:

Scientific American describes a bike that uses its brakes to boost its speed.

The bike (see the video below) uses a spinning flywheel to recover energy lost during braking so it can be later reclaimed to boost speed. A flywheel can temporarily store the kinetic energy from the bicycle when the rider needs to slow down, according to von Stein. The energy stored in the flywheel can be used to bring the cyclist back up to cruising speed. In this way the cyclist recovers the energy normally lost during braking. In addition to increased energy efficiency, the flywheel-equipped bicycle is more fun to ride since the rider has the ability to boost speed, he adds.

Tom Vanderbilt’s blog has a humourous look at a giant helping people park their cars.  The video is apparently by Junebum Park, so there is a Korea connection.  I want to make a video like this now.

Vanderbilt’s twitter feed also includes many interesting uses of the word ‘accident’ when describing car crashes. I don’t see how to link to a specific tweet, but this was from June 23:

Tom Vanderbilt

@tomvanderbiltTom Vanderbilt
‘Accidental death’ of Ryan Dunn. 2X legal BAC, +130 MPH & ‘Dunn had received 23 driving violations in past 13 years.’

Speaking of accidents that are probably mostly preventable, Monster Island reports on a Christian Science Monitor article about accident rates among food delivery workers (CSM article link). Quote from Monster Island:

I always thought speed cameras on major sidewalks that are triggered by vehicles going beyond the speed of a person running would be in order as well. Anything to get rid of these mooks who endanger the public.

Sharing Bikes in cities around the world; would it work in Busan?

June 8, 2011

There are many programs in cities around the world that have bikes available to residents to use in that city (Yellow Bike Project search, Bicycle Sharing system, wikipedia).  From Wikipedia:

[These] are schemes in which numbers of bicycles are made available for shared use by individuals who do not own them. Publicly shared bicycles are a mobility service, mainly useful in urban environment for proximity travels. Proponents of public bike sharing argue that the concept can increase the usage of bicycles in an urban environment by removing some of its primary disadvantages to the individual rider, including loss from theft or vandalism, lack of parking or storage, and maintenance requirements.[1]

Bicycle sharing began as a private nongovernmental concept by various independent groups and organizations in an effort to increase utilization of nonpolluting transportation and/or to provide mobility for those unable to afford other means of transport. Since 1974, municipal governments and public agencies have also introduced publicly-owned bicycles for shared use as general transport as well as to facilitateintermodal transport schemes. Proponents also argue that public bicycle sharing can increase overall bicycle usage, potentially reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, while improving public health through exercise. Bicycle sharing schemes may arguably be considered an early manifestation of the economic concept known as “collaborative consumption“.

Bicycle sharing systems can be divided into two general categories: Community Bike programs organized mostly by local community groups or non-profit organizations; and Smart Bike programs implemented by municipalities, governmental agencies, or public-private partnerships, as in the case of Paris’Vélib’. The central concept of many of the systems is free or affordable access to bicycles for short trips inside the city, as an alternative to motorised public transport or cars, thereby reducing traffic congestion, noise and air-pollution.

It has been estimated that as of 2010, there were more than 200 such schemes operating worldwide.[2]

I was reminded of the programs by the news in National Geographic that London will offer such a program.

Around the world, cycle-hire operators are rolling out bicycles that were tucked away for the cold and rainy months. Hundreds of new bikes and docking stations will join existing fleets, while many more cities, from Kailua to Tel Aviv to the Big Apple are joining the bike-sharing wave for the first time.

The idea is simple: Charge a nominal fee to give people all the benefits of cycling without the hassle of bike ownership. It’s an old idea, but the concept of a bicycle fleet for shared use has undergone a very modern makeover in recent years.

Today’s bikes are often equipped with GPS devices for tracking. Free and coin-deposit systems have given way to solar-powered, computerized docking stations designed to deter theft and afford easy installation. Users often can reserve a bicycle with a few taps on a smart phone, unlock a bike with the swipe of a smart card that links up with the local metro, and even track calories burned while pedaling.

Here in Busan, I have seen no evidence of any such program.  I am not sure that such a program would work and my concerns are not necessarily about the safety of cyclists in the city.  I am more concerned about the mountains.  To get to my university, I ride along nearly flat, river- and creek- side paths and roads and feel quite safe for 90% of the route.  The last 10% include about 200 metres vertical; something you don’t want just before arriving to teach -or study, or just about anything.  For exercise, the inclines may be of use; for commuting – when the destination is more important than the trip-  the inclines are nearly a deal-breaker.

There is another mountain-related problem; tunnels.  I have ridden through Busan’s city streets and felt safe, but the tunnels are very different in this regard.  I am uncertain if bikes are permitted in the tunnels.

I guess I don’t know enough about where a Bike Share program ends and a bike rental business begins.  Eulsookdo and other tourist locations in Busan have bike rentals that allow relatively cheap local travel but the rental operators don’t communicate and share bikes with each other.  One could not rent a bike at point A and leave it with someone at point B, for instance.

My bike is old and I need to replace it soon.  I am not sure if it will last through the summer.  If a bike share program started, I would patronize it but I am not sure if enough others would as well.