Dangerous UPD today

I had a potentially dangerous UPD – this time not due to anything stupid
on my part – that nearly led to an unfortunate injury of an innocent
pedestrian. I think some of you can come up with a solution, so I’m
posting.

On my usual Coker ride into Manhattan, I got to a part where the bike path
turns into regular park routes. There is a short section of park path
before I hit the streets. I was pedalling about 12-13mph on this path when
I suddenly lost my footing on one side. I rode a couple revs while trying
to regain balance or at least dismount safely. Instead, and perhaps bc of
my attempts, the uni shot out from me. Since I was falling backwards, it
really zoomed away (even tho I have the Wyganofsky extension and was
holding it at the time). I later discovered it probably hit over 20 mph in
that moment.

I landed standing but immediately noticed that the Coker was heading
(fast) for parents pushing a double stroller. I shouted, and luckily the
mom heard and blocked the Coker, which by this time had rolled an amazing
50 feet.

I know that Aaron Svec has developed (and even practiced?) a method where
he swats his Coker when he falls off behind it. I would have done so had
there been time, but my arms were both too far from the uni at the time.

Any ideas to prevent this? I have considered a cord or bungee attachment
(like surfboarders use, tho there are probably inherent dangers about
which we’d have to be careful. Maybe a cord which could extend really far
but could be reeled in – and which would break away if the uni were
dragged away with too great force (like if it went over a cliff and you
didn’t want to follow it). Maybe our motorcycling friends have some ideas?

It was a very scary moment, and I have worried about it before. I hope we
can arrive at a safe solution. I was wondering if I could put sth on the
back of the extension to slow down or stop a roll. Maybe that’s what I
need.

David

PS: Harper is probably already working on a uni that explodes safely if it
gets more than 10 feet from its rider.

Co-founder, Unatics of NY
1st Sunday / 3rd Saturday
@ Central Park Bandshell

I think eveybody that Cokers in populated urban areas lives with this fear. I’m glad to hear eveybody was ok.

I exclusively UPD to the front. This developed primarly because going over the back scares the athiest right out of me. I really don’t like hitting the back of my head or tail bone. Going over the front, I can run it out or guide myself into a roll. I’v never been hit by the cycle this way, and it doesn’t go further than 8 feet; I think the sadle hitting the ground in front causes it to break and lay on it’s side.

I’m always amazed and vicariously scared when others relay UPD’s to the back.

Aside from a drag break that releases when you let go of the sadle, or some other James Bond/Greg Harperesque solution, I’v no ideas.

Stuff like this tends to happen to ME when I’m fatigued -clumsy(er), less judicious about speed to ride decisiouns and relative safty.

You put so many hours on your Coker, your bound to hit the odds jackpot more often, regardless of care. Maybe a drogue chute would work…

-Christopher

Re: Dangerous UPD today

Am I becoming that predictable? I was already laughing reading your post and simultaneously composing the exploding Coker solution and then you beat me to the punch. Suddenly I have developed a new admiration for the NYC Marathon Coker Man.

Re: Dangerous UPD today

harper.cwmee@timelimit.unicyclist.com writes:
>David Stone wrote:
>> *PS: Harper is probably already working on a uni that explodes safely
>> if it gets more than 10 feet from its rider.
>> *
>
>
>Am I becoming that predictable? I was already laughing reading your post
>and simultaneously composing the exploding Coker solution and then you
>beat me to the punch. Suddenly I have developed a new admiration for the
>NYC Marathon Coker Man.

Great minds, Greg…

Co-founder, Unatics of NY
1st Sunday / 3rd Saturday
@ Central Park Bandshell
1:30 start time after 11/1/01

Re: Dangerous UPD today

rhysling writes:
>I exclusively UPD to the front.
Well, fallers can’t always be choosers. I have only fallen to the rear of
the Coker a few times, each time bc I had lost my balance (or footing, in
this case). The only times it has shot away from me were under these
conditions, except for a funny time when I was just learning and it shot
out behind me when I tried to idle. The Coker was stopped that time by
some newspaper vending boxes. The time I lost the Coker in traffic I had
lotion on my left hand (the one that grips the extension) and a cel phone
in my right hand. THis time I was being careful, not going too fast for
the situation or anything silly. I also wasn’t tired or weak or anything.
That’s why I was so scared afterwards – I can’t think of what to do to
avoid having a recurrence since I was already being safe. It just shows
that a loose foot can make even an experienced rider have a dangerous
spill.

> This developed primarly because going
>over the back scares the athiest right out of me. I really don’t like
>hitting the back of my head or tail bone.
Hasn’t happened to me yet, tho not impossible to imagine.

> Going over the front, I can
>run it out or guide myself into a roll. I’v never been hit by the cycle
>this way, and it doesn’t go further than 8 feet; I think the sadle
>hitting the ground in front causes it to break and lay on it’s side.
I hope you meant ‘brake’. Certainly if you’re falling off in front, it’s
not going too far!
>
>
>I’m always amazed and vicariously scared when others relay UPD’s to the
>back.
>
>Aside from a drag break that releases when you let go of the sadle, or
>some other James Bond/Greg Harperesque solution, I’v no ideas.
>
>Stuff like this tends to happen to ME when I’m fatigued, when I’m
>clumsy(er), less judicious about speed to ride decisiouns and relative
>safty.
As noted, I wish I could say the same here, since then I’d know what to do
next time. But I’d already learned my lesson and have been really careful
since the last episode.

Thanks, tho.

David

Co-founder, Unatics of NY

you know those retractable cable things that custodians have all their keys attached to?:smiley: how about mounting one to your belt or wrist? if you put a carabiner on the end you could just clip in to the Wyngo handle thingy after mounting.

Sorry if this is a stupid question, but what’s “UPD”?

UPD

Andrew, not a stupid question:

See today’s “Acronym Assistance Needed” thread.

Thanks, that’s a really handy thread.

Toeclips/straps are also a good way to prevent loss of footing, but I’m not going to bring that up again, or the latest thread regarding toeclips: considered toe clips ?

-Joel

David,

Not that it would apply to this circomstance, but what are your feelings on shorter -vs- longer cranks regarding foot displacement, at comfortable speeds or when ridding fast? Is it any more difficult to get your foot back on a short crank than a long one?

-Christopher

I was thinking (ya, I know -I should stick with what I’m used to, still…) that the solution has to be simple, and involve no moving parts that might endager the rider (such as a tether).

I figure the sadle is hitting the ground straight away; if the back side of the sadle was angled side to side, when it hit it might pitch the cycle over… likewise, a spring affixed to one side of the sadle back bumper might well do the same thing. Of coarse, it still has to dissapate all that energy…

-Christopher

Re: Dangerous UPD today

jagur.cwrq0@timelimit.unicyclist.com writes:
>
>you know those retractable cable things that custodians have all their
>keys attached to?:smiley: how about mounting one to your belt or wrist? if
>you put a carabiner on the end you could just -clip in- to the Wyngo
>handle thingy after mounting.

Again, the only problem (and it could be major) is if you find yourself
dragging or being dragged by the uni in an unsafe manner. It would have to
be sth that could break away under a certain amount of strain (like ski
boots).

david

ABCNews recently reported a new invention/discovery type thing - a magnetic “super goop”. Its a liquid, but when a magnetic field is applied, it nearly instantaneously becomes a solid (clay-like substance).

link:
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/supergoop021002.html

So, what we could do is build a coker in which all of the bolts and connectors are made of the super goop and a magnetic field is constantly applied to maintain the solid nature. Then, we rig a trigger so that if pressure is suddenly taken from the saddle, or if the feet come away from the pedals, the magnetic field is turned off, the super goop reverts to its liquid state, and the whole unicycle just flies apart into its constituent pieces.

Sure, passing pedestrians would have to deal with random pieces of coker shrapnel, but no one pedestrian would need to face the entire coker.

Once again cutting edge scientific developments come to the rescue.

Re: Re: Dangerous UPD today

Indeed. I always dismount to the rear of my big wheel, assuming it’s planned. Falls (UPDs) usually occur to the front. An UPD to the rear would be scary for me as well.

David, you are always a good source of excitement on the streets. I guess if you ride constantly in such a busy environment, lots of stuff is bound to happen in time.

I’m going to start by questioning this. I can’t picture the scene, but as you describe it you’re off the bike path, and not yet on the street, so my assumption is that you’re on some kind of wide, park sidewalk, a space for pedestrians. Depending on traffic density (meaning pedestrians and other vehicles), a speed of over 10mph might be excessive.

Then again, you were nowhere near the people with the stroller when you had your crash, so you may have been totally in the clear. But I have to start by considering speed in relation to your “roadway.”

Based on your location (or, I guess, in any location), you would be in the wrong if your unicycle struck or injured anyone. That appears to be your concern. Unicycling on a regular basis in a crowded environment like NYC is going to make this a constant issue.

A big wheel can get away from you. Other unicycles won’t go as far in a dismount, but even a smaller wheel can roll away from you at times. This is what I refer to as “unicycle bowling.” It’s easier downhill, but sometimes happens on level ground. But with a big wheel, it’s relatively easy on level ground.

If you tether yourself to the unicycle you are being very noble. But in that one-in-a-thousand rear dismount, assuming you land on your feet in the first place, I imagine your tether would pull you off your feet. Ouch. However you would be protecting the nearby pedestrians unless they’re right in front of you. But I wouldn’t do it.

You can question what’s holding your feet on to the pedals, but no matter what you do, short of the non-recommended toeclips, your feet can still find their way off from time to time. I try to wear good grippy shoes, and use pedals with good teeth on them for a secure grip. But I know how bumpy NYC pavement can be.

I almost always hold the seat when I’m riding in a commuting-type situation. It might help to have the hand already on the seat. Instead of flailing both arms, keep one hand on the handle and flail with the other. Having that one hand on will keep you attached to the unicycle better, to hopefully stay on, or control it if you can’t.

Lastly, what if it gets away from you anyway? You want to prevent it rolling on into people or traffic (or plate glass). I don’t think an assymetrical back-end on the seat would be enough to stop such a heavy wheel from going where it wants. You could try putting some kind of edge or hook on there, but that would only work if it catches on something. If you’re on smooth pavement, it won’t.

I think your best bet is a combination of holding the handle, and teaching yourself the swat method. I do something similar to the swat when I ride my BC wheel. People think I’m trying to be cool when I jump off it (dismount) and leave it spinning in place. No, this is a technique I’ve learned from being tired of chasing it. A BC wheel (wheel with two pegs, no pedals or frame) rolls much better than on its own than any other type of unicycle, and will not stop until it hits something. Especially if you fell off facing downhill! So I give a little flick of the feet when jumping off, and it either falls down or spins in place. Plus it looks cool for an audience.

But you won’t learn the swat without practicing it. So you’ll have to practice emergency dismounts. This is a good thing to do for the responsible Coker commuter. practice dismounts with potential roll-away, and learn how to destabilize the unicycle as you dismount. Remember, a big wheel can roll a long way, even with the seat in the front! I don’t know how to do the swat because I’ve never had to use it. It should be whatever it takes to destabilize the cycle as you come off, so it doesn’t roll away.

Happy commuting,
John Foss

Re: Dangerous UPD today

> Toeclips/straps are also a good way to prevent loss of footing, but I’m
> not going to bring that up again, or the latest thread regarding
> toeclips: ‘considered toe clips ?’ (http://tinyurl.com/24n5)

I wasn’t going to bring up toe clips either, especially since I’m way too
cowardly to use them myself. But you beat me to the punch…

Re: Dangerous UPD today

nbrazzi writes:
>
>ABCNews recently reported a new invention/discovery type thing - a
>magnetic “super goop”. Its a liquid, but when a magnetic field is
>applied, it nearly instantaneously becomes a solid (clay-like
>substance).
>
>link:
>http://tinyurl.com/24yc
>
>So, what we could do is build a coker in which all of the bolts and
>connectors are made of the super goop and a magnetic field is constantly
>applied to maintain the solid nature. Then, we rig a trigger so that if
>pressure is suddenly taken from the saddle, or if the feet come away
>from the pedals, the magnetic field is turned off, the super goop
>reverts to its liquid state, and the whole unicycle just flies apart
>into its constituent pieces.
>
>Sure, passing pedestrians would have to deal with random pieces of coker
>shrapnel, but no one pedestrian would need to face the entire coker.
>
>Once again cutting edge scientific developments come to the rescue.
NBRAZZI may be onto something here. Oops. I meant to write: …may be on
something here.

:slight_smile:

David

A Coker can go a very long way indeed if you fall off the back - even at quite low speeds. It’s happened to me after failing a freemount on a hill :astonished: It happened when I was tired and approaching a road junction. :astonished:

The first answer has to be that prevention is better than cure. If you’re riding in a busy area, keep the speed down a bit, and possibly choose cranks which will give you a bit more control. We are the ones doing the odd and dangerous activity, and the onus is on us (boom boom!) to be safe and be seen to be safe.

But nothing will eliminate the risk entirely, so what about cures? There have been various suggestions, some more serious than others. I suggest that it would be a simple matter to rig up a ‘dead man’s handle’. A caliper brake with springs which would hold it on, rather than off, and a brake lever which would hold it off rather than on.

Taking this idea further, I can imagine a short cable with a ring slipped over the end of the break lever and a parallel rod. The other end of the cable would be attached to the rider. In normal use, the ring would stay in place at all times. Where there is a risk of the wheel running away, the rider mounts and then ‘clips on’ with his short cord. If (s)he falls off then the ring pulls off the lever, the lever is then released, and the brake caliper engages.

I’m no engineer, but I could see several ways of making this work using mostly standard components.

But a run away Coker is bouncing, not rolling. Braking the wheel will not eliminate the problem.

Re: Dangerous UPD today

At 07:48 10/22/2002 -0500, you wrote:
>Not that it would apply to this circomstance, but what are your feelings
>on shorter -vs- longer cranks regarding foot displacement,
>-Christopher

Me personally I find that I occasionally have to battle furiously to avoid
an UPD with my shorter cranks on my Coker. More than once it’s nearly
tossed me into the air because it decided that it wasn’t going to stop
immediately and brought a pedal up despite my strongest pushing. It only
beat me once, so far.

Just pretend that my name’s David this time. :slight_smile:

Mike
Eugene, OR