Can Sensory Overload Affect Traffic Safety?

When I get sensory overload, I feel the need to be more cautious in traffic.

In Downtown Vancouver, I had a close call last year. Shortly after work, I was making a left turn from Beatty St onto a bike lane on Smithe St and a car going straight had to swerve and I braked when I noticed it at the last moment. Thankfully, the light just turned green at that time since slower traffic meant there was more time to react.left turn.png

It’s possible that the road markings were confusing at that time. I was in the green left turn lane turning into a bike lane on the left side of the road. It was my first time left turning in that intersection. Beatty St now has a protected bike lane.

I most likely had sensory overload or a partial shutdown at that time. I only started wearing hearing protection for suspected triggers this year.

It not only affects cycling but also driving and crossing streets when there’s sensory overload.

I recommend taking quieter streets if possible, being extra cautious when you think you have sensory overload, avoiding left turns on busy streets if possible, using bike lanes instead of busy traffic, avoiding the triggers, and studying the route ahead of time to improve safety.

You might be able to predict shutdowns with noise levels, exhaustion, and a change of route or routine.

You can try hearing protection at work or school to reduce sensory overload. You might be able to find products that can effectivly block wind noise. You can try making them.

Do you or someone you know find traffic safety affected by sensory load? Do you have any advice? If so, please share your comments below.

Tire Pressure Take-Home

Off The Beaten Path


What is the “correct” tire pressure for your bike? The simple answer is: Whatever feels right to you. Confused? Here is how it works:

In the past, many riders inflated their tires to the maximum pressure rating. Now most cyclists now recognize that the optimum pressure often is much lower.

But what is the right tire pressure? At Bicycle Quarterly, we’ve done a lot of research into the rolling resistance of tires at various pressures, and on various road surfaces.


Frank Berto’s tire pressure chart (above), first published in Bicycle Quarterly many years ago, has received much attention. (Note that the weights are per wheel, not for the entire bike.)

Berto made the chart in the 1990s, when tires were much narrower. Hardly anybody today still rides on 20 mm tires, and even 23 mm are on their way out! At the other end, 37 mm no longer is huge, as many of us…

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On Vancouver’s Bike Routes, How Much Time is Spent Waiting at Traffic Lights?


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Here are the required wait times at the traffic lights when cycling from Kitsilano to Downtown before rush hour. I was on my road bike for the trip.

Trafalgar St and W 16th Ave: 15 seconds

Trafalgar St and 4th Ave: 20 seconds

Cornwall Ave and Burrard St: 40 seconds

Hornby St and Nelson St: 30 seconds

Hornby St and Georgia St: 30 seconds

Hornby St and Dunsmuir St: 15 seconds

Note that the times were rounded to the nearest 5 seconds. The data was from the video of the ride.

Road Bike vs Hybrid Bike Strava Results – Cycling on the 29th Ave Bike Route

I cycled on part of the 29th Ave bike route. Here’s the screen shots of the Strava results from Maple Cr. to Heather St. for both the road and hybrid bikes.

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Nanton Ave and Oak St.

For the hybrid bike, the average speed was 17 km/h.

Hybrid bike ride on March 26, 2016.

For the road bike, the average speed was 19 km/h.

Road bike ride on June 1, 2017.

The road bike was about 10% faster for the selection.

Road Bike vs Hybrid Bike Strava Results – Kitsilano to UBC and Vice Versa

I now have my rides to and from Kitsilano recorded on Strava. You can see their screen shots.

For the bike rides, the streets W 8th Ave, Blanca St, and University Blvd were taken.

Kitsilano to UBC on a hybrid bike. Average speed: 16.4 km/h.

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UBC to Kitsilano on a hybrid bike. Average speed: 22.1 km/h.

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Kitsilano to UBC on a road bike. Average speed: 21.6 km/h.

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UBC to Kitsilano on a road bike. Average speed: 22.7 km/h.

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Is Cycling to Downtown Faster on a Road Bike than on a Hybrid Bike?

Recently, I cycled to Downtown Vancouver on a road bike. It seemed to be faster.

I have uploaded the screenshots for comparison.

For a ride with my road bike, the average speed was 22 km/h.

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Road bike ride on March 23, 2017.

For a ride with my hybrid bike. The average speed was 18.7 km/h.

Hybrid bike ride on Feb 11, 2016.

My road bike was unloaded and had no baskets. Its water bottle cage was used to hold a water bottle. I didn’t wear a backpack. Its drop bars allowed a more aerodynamic position.

My hybrid bike had a basket and maybe a pannier which increased air drag. The total weight was also higher.

I think my speed really improved. 22 km/h is faster than my recorded rides to Downtown on Strava.

I also had a speedometer which I think is important if you want to improve your average speed. It’s easier to keep your speed smoother that way. I used a speedometer app on my cellphone.

In the future, I might record more rides near UBC and in Stanley Park and Richmond. I might be able to see improvements. I hope that my average speed can exceed 30 km/h on River Road!

Why We Choose Steel Bikes

Off The Beaten Path

At Bicycle Quarterly, we’ve been testing quite a few titanium and carbon bikes lately, and even a bike made from bamboo. We really liked most of these bikes. And yet our own bikes continue to be made from steel. Why don’t we ride carbon or titanium (or bamboo) bikes?

We choose steel because this material allows us to build custom bikes that are dialed in to the nth degree. High-end steel bikes have benefited from decades of research and development. They now offer a performance that is difficult to equal with other materials. With performance, I don’t just mean speed – although the best steel bikes have no trouble keeping up with ti or carbon racers – but also handling, reliability and all-weather, all-road capability.

Steel tubing is available in many diameters and wall thicknesses, so it’s easy to fine-tune the ride quality and performance of our bikes. For example, my…

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