Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Solution to a vexing problem...

Many bicycling advocates routinely couple rights with responsibilities. I've done it time and again. The theme crops up every spring when the annual anti-cycling rants appear in various media, along with the routine nanny-posts recommending that cyclists not only obey all the rules of the road but wear their magic Styrofoam hats as well. Lately, I've seen a few of the get-out-of-my-way-or-I'll-crush-you pieces from some of our more pin-headed motoring brethren, too. I file most of these as well-intended but clueless advice, while the vague threats of violence go into the hyperbole bin.

Everyone who uses the public way has both rights and responsibilities. That includes motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, and even horse back riders or horse-drawn vehicles. I'm getting fed up with motorists who think that their larger, heavier, more powerful vehicle gives them a greater right to use that public space, and I'm getting especially fed up with the pencil-necked geeks who use their vehicles as weapons. It's an annoying problem, and that problem has a solution.

Cyclists should carry guns.

The next step is to determine what kind of gun to carry. Obviously, long guns like the SKS assault rifle or a combat shotgun would have a deterent effect when slung across the back. But they'd be cumbersome to use one-handed since a cyclist would have to keep one hand on the handlebar. An Uzi or Mac-10 would be a better choice. Most of these guns are heavy, and weight is always a consideration for a bicyclist.

Handguns are lighter than long guns, but they also have significant limitations. My 22 target pistol, for instance, is highly accurate but also heavy and bulky. Worse, 22 bullets aren't likely to penetrate automotive glass. They simply bounce away. The 38 Special isn't much better. It penetrates but uses most of its energy doing so. The popular 9mm and 380 have similar limitations. Bigger, heavier bullets are required.

Oh, sure, the 357 and 44 magnums would do nicely, but again, they're revolver cartridges and the guns are fairly large and heavy.

My current thought is that the best compromise of weight, bulk, and power settles on the 40 S&W and the venerable 45ACP. Compact automatics chambering these rounds are small enough to fit in a jersey pocket. Even better, some of these pistols are made of composites or other rust proof materials, so they won't corrode from sweat. The rounds penetrate automotive glass and steel panels, and retain sufficient energy to incapacitate an especially stupid motorist.

As an American citizen, you have the right to carry personal arms. You also have the responsibility to do so legally and morally. Know the concealed carry laws in your state and apply for a permit if it's required. Take the training course if it's offered. In my experience, armed citizens are polite and totally self-controlled because the presence of that handgun carries with it an awesome responsibility that cannot be taken lightly.

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Blogger SiouxGeonz said...

Or just disable the pavement enough to slow 'em all down.

Or design the bike around the weapon and design a more creative weapon. Include a dog disabler while y'er at it...

11:11 AM  
Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

Is it possible to fire a weapon while on a bike? I've never shot anything one-handed, and I'd think it would take some practice to keep upright while shooting. Another thing going for your 45acp is the low recoil.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

You may want to look at this as a means of holding off dogs, Sue:

Watch the video too, it's a hoot!

Now, there's nothing that indicates how large a power supply you need to operate a big Tesla coil. That could be a problem for a cyclist. Still, it give a whole new dimension to the old saw, "Go ahead! Pull my finger! Just TRY to do it!"

Tesla coils are fun. Very high voltage with extremely low current. They're noisy and colorful, but not particularly dangerous.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Ya know, Fritz, I've never tried shooting from the seat of a bicycle. I'd assume that if a car were trying to run me off the road, the relative speed between bike and car would be negligible, allowing for easier aiming. But a stationary target would be tricky. Hmmm....

Maybe I'll have a couple of beers for lunch, load up the Gamo Compact air pistol, and go out for some target practice up by the elementary school. Alcohol improves my aim and judgment for some odd reason. Or maybe I'll just recommend it as a project for Doctor Wally.

I'll take a scanner along too, so I can listen for the inevitable "loony with a gun" call.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Although certainly the Second Amendment is in full force and in effect, Santa STRONGLY advise AGAINST carrying a firearm or ANY type of weapons while on bike.

There could be a whole lotta UNFORESEEN legal problems in store for the cyclist.

Believe it or NOT, in the court of law, cyclists are NOT treated as EQUALLY as the motorists. Kinda like a chinaman in a honky courtroom.

If you must fend off the cretins, impersonate Santa. Worked great during the Big Bad Audacious Bike Ride Across Oklahoma yesterday. Look for the full account on Pimp shortly, while Santa collects his thoughts.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

Love that Tesla coil thing. Reminds me of Captain Nemo's boat.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Da' Square Wheelman, said...

Why not combine the tesla and firearm solutions with one of these babies mounted a short length of PVC so can reach the cagers?

3:59 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Here's the correct URL:

While a stungun would have some deterrent effect, I've been considering something that would emit an EMP burst. Electro-Magnetic Pulses fry electronics, and they don't have to be huge to do it. In the first Gulf war, the desert was so dry that it generated sufficient static electricity to destroy the sensitive inputs to many radios. Solid-state components simply cannot withstand static charges or EMP, and modern automobiles have far less protection than military vehicles.


4:09 PM  
Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

Is a practical, bike-totable non-nuclear EMP generator possible?

I think combining a tesla with a firearm might be more like a railgun. The projectile is propelled by electromagnetic energy.

Though the idea of disabling cars on the sly has a certain appeal, chemical explosives (i.e. gunpowder) is so much more efficient than electricity.

When the Feds come knocking, Ed, tell them I'm not home. Give my best to the Unabomber.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I was talking with Howard S. some years ago. He did the radio work for our local PD. He said they had one car that died whenever the radio was keyed. It ran fine if the hood was open, but if it was closed, the computer shut down when the radio transmitted. Most police frequency radios are about 50 watts in output. I can get an amateur radio transceiver with 50 watts output or more, and conceivably it could shut down a car's computer system. The problem is that I'd have to focus that energy and bounce it off the pavement and up under the engine. That would require a big yagi antenna (think of a television antenna) or a big microwave dish, dead giveaways when bolted to a bicycle traveling down the road.

They avoid this problem with police radios by putting the transceiver in the trunk, putting RF traps on the computer's IO and power lines, and by putting shielding over most internal wiring.

But with enough power I could overcome all that! And then I could take over the town, take over the state, and eventually take over the world! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Gotta go. It's medication time.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Coelecanth said...

Hey fritz, gotta love cross posts. Great minds think alike.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Warren T said...

This actually is not a new idea. Check the following short article on Wikipedia:

9:03 PM  
Blogger The Donut Guy said...

Holy Mother of God..........I *knew* there was a reason I enjoy reading your blog.

You're as nuts as I am.

I used to carry around one of those compressed air boat horns on rides.

They scare the hell out of people when used properly.

5:19 AM  
Blogger Mike1727 said...

EMP, or some other form of electronic warefare weapon is the elegant solution, you cut me up in you car, I silently and invisibly render your hitech engine management systems, leaving you in 20mph rev limited 'get home' state if I'm feeling really generous.

On the other hand you could just read some spike bike stories..

7:02 AM  
Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

I'd think lightning strikes give off far more EMP than a police radio could.

How about this idea: A little gizmo equipped with GPS and cellphone communications. I punch the panic button, a signal goes back to the BatCave which tracks my location, hacks into the OnStar system, and disables every General Motors vehicle within 100 yards of me.

Oh Evil Overlord, can I have funds for a development team to create such a gizmo?

12:02 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

"Oh Evil Overlord, can I have funds for a development team to create such a gizmo?"

Aha! I just KNEW it! Conservatives actually PRAY to His Evil Overlordness - Dick Cheney! It's all so clear now. Halliburton is their modern equivalent of a cargo cult!

It doesn't take a lot of power to fry the front ends of computers and radios. Static discharges of less than 100 volts can do it. When you walk across the carpet and touch a doorknob, the discharge is thousands of volts. There are some interesting electron microscope photos of the craters resulting from static discharge:

A nearby radio transmitter develops enough energy to cause similar damage. Lightning, however, has enough energy to do similar damage at a greater distance, and it doesn't necessarily have to hit the electronic component directly. A capacitor is composed of 2 metal plates separated by an insulator. When lighting strikes, it can capacitatively couple to another nearby conductor, a wire, a sheet of metal, or your body.

I sat through a lecture on lightning safety given by a former commercial radio tower technician as part of an information series for amateur radio operators. When he was finished, I considered taking up needlepoint instead of playing with radio!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Conceal, Carrry & Ride.

Someone should make a tshirt. In the Olympics there is an event called biathlon involving cross-country skiing and shooting a rifle at targets. I think the Summer Olympics needs bikeathlon, involving bicycles and small but powerful automatic firearms.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Mike1727 said...

Alternatively, have fun fooling satnav users:

A pair of hackers have demonstrated a way to spoof travel information messages displayed on satellite navigation systems used by Italian drivers to bypass accidents, traffic jams and plot the most efficient routes from one point to another.

6:52 AM  
Blogger FLUBBER said...

how would you shoot someone who runs you over from behind?

if carrying guns is your thing, check out Kennesaw, GA. People are very friendly there b/c of the threat of violence: law requires everyone to carry a gun. F**king insane!

12:19 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Brian, this is an old post, but I hope you come back to visit it. I had a concealed carry permit when I lived in Pennsylvania. It definitely changed my behavior. When the 38 was in my pocket, I was far less inclined to get in any sort of altercation. There's a huge weight of responsibility that comes along with carrying concealed. It's nothing to take lightly.

But that was many years ago. Here in Oklahoma, I don't carry - ever - and I can't even take Halt! with me on commutes to work. I'm inside the airport security perimeter where pepper spray can cost me and my family our livelihood. And in all honesty, I'm in more danger from stray dogs and skunks than I am from people.

Also, as you've pointed out - if someone is driving away from you, they're no longer a threat and you CANNOT use deadly force against them. A CCW permit is not a license to shoot up the countryside.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First order of business: "Bravo!"
I have been hit by 2 automobiles while riding my bicycle: 1. An older gentleman on Christmas Eve who swears he didn't see me in my neon Spandex - I believe him, 2. A high school punk who though he was tough stuff until I started drafting him at 38 mph. I don't advocate shooting at motorists or anybody for any reasons other than target practice or imminent mortal danger, but I will say the thought crossed my mind in New Mexico on US-60 when an oncoming vehicle swerved across 2 lanes and blatantly tried to kill me.

Second order of business: I have fired a .25 caliber pistol from my bike and it was quite easy to do and accurate at least in that instance. Also, I've carried a Glock 23 in my jersey and it was about as heavy as a water bottle. That should clear up the issues of feasibility.

Third order: A solution we can all live with. Make dealing with cyclists part of the "paper" test for a license. My own father tells me "I just don't know how to behave around them." Be present, don't ride on the sidewalk (it's illegal unless you're a child), don't blow stoplights or stop signs unless you're positive no motorist is around, and short of risking your life do not give one inch that isn't required of you, though better to be wrong than dead-right. Enforcement. In my experience, police rarely enforce laws regarding cyclists and drivers, like the 2 foot law, and they almost never enforce the basic traffic laws that everyone on the road must obey, speeding, failure to stop, and failure to yield are the ones that come to mind.

2:39 PM  

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