Bad Bicycle News

I used to be a hardcore daily bike commuter. (By “hardcore,” I mean I commuted 20-30 miles roundtrip every day in Chicago in January.) Lately, I’ve gotten lazy, especially since I now live about thirty seconds by foot from a train station that takes me to a spot about thirty seconds by foot from my job.

Also, since I’m now supporting two people (including my nearly two-year-old daughter), I’m a little more reluctant to get myself killed.

I was reminded of the perils of biking in Boston this afternoon when a 22-year old bicyclist was killed by a dump truck in an area where I used to ride daily:

The bicyclist, a 22-year-old man from Halifax, was riding between two lanes of traffic on Huntington Avenue when he was clipped by a taxicab near Northeastern University at about 2:30 p.m., police said. After being clipped by the cab, the bicyclist was run over by a McCauley and Sons Co. dump truck, police said.

When I was a bike commuter, I was fairly cavalier about this sort of incident. I realize it’s still fairly rare and biking may not be any more dangerous than driving. But we still see these events in Boston fairly regularly. I don’t think it can be fixed fully by better driver education/behavior (or better bicyclist education/behavior). There are just too many streets that are poorly designed and naturally hazardous.

On a related note, Nat mentioned this nasty run-in during a recent Critical Mass in San Francisco (the article is obviously from the driver’s point of view — there may be another angle on this):

Susan Ferrando, her husband, their two children and three preteens had come to San Francisco from Redwood City to celebrate the birthday of Ferrando’s 11-year-old daughter. They went to Japantown, where they enjoyed shopping and taking in the blooming cherry blossoms. Things took a turn for the worse at about 9 p.m., when the family was leaving Japantown — just as the party of about 3,000 bikers was winding down its monthly red-lights-be-damned ride through the city.

Suddenly, Ferrando said, her car was surrounded by hundreds of cyclists.

Not being from San Francisco, Ferrando thought she might have inadvertently crossed paths with a bicycle race and couldn’t figure out why the police, who she had just passed, hadn’t warned her.

Confusion, however, quickly turned to terror, she said, when the swarming cyclists began wildly circling around and then running into the sides of her Toyota van.

Filled with panic, Ferrando said, she started inching forward until coming to a stop at Post and Gough streets, where she was surrounded by bikers on all sides.

A biker in front blocked her as another biker began pounding on the windshield. Another was pounding on her window. Another pounded the other side.

“It seemed like they were using their bikes as weapons,” Ferrando said. One of the bikers then threw his bike — shattering the rear window and terrifying the young girls inside.

All the while, Ferrando was screaming, “There are children in this car! There are children in this car!”

Update 4/5/2007: the 22-year-old bicyclist had a myspace page.

Netflix Wishlist: IMDB Crosslinks

Add to my Netflix Wishlist (that is, the list of features I wish Netflix had, not the list of movies I wish I had): links from IMDB entries to the respective Netflix page (or, better yet, “add to Netflix queue” directly from IMDB). Links back to IMDB from Netflix would also be nice.

This seems like something that would be relatively easy to do with a Mozilla plugin. In general, Netflix would be a prime candidate for a developer/hobbyist ecology similar to that which has grown up around Amazon’s API. The only examples I could find were this Perl module and this Moveable-Type plugin. More development along these lines could be a key advantage for Netflix to preserve its now incumbent position in the market. (Does anyone have any local video stores left? Ours closed down about a year ago.)

Update: James points to an impressive list of Greasemonkey/Netflix scripts, two of which seem to do the job: Netflix links in IMDB, IMDB links in Netflix. Another featuer I’ve been looking for: Netflix Ratings Granulizer (allows partial stars in ratings). Thanks, Lazyweb! (Note that these sorts of screen-scraping hacks inevitably break when the content provider modifies its presentation; an open API would obviously be preferable).