ActivismAIArt Inquisition

Art Inquisition: How Do You Use Your Noodle?

Toronto bicyclist Warren Huska is unconcerned with looking cool. But then, attaching a brightly-colored pool noodle to your bike is a pretty cool idea if  you think about it.

In the summer of 2015, Ontario enacted new laws requiring motorists to maintain a safe distance of one metre (a bit over three feet, for us metrically-deprived Americans) between their car and bicyclists. To help drivers keep their distance, Huska now rides with a half-metre pool noodle sticking out to the left of his bike, attached with bungee cords.

“People get really insulated inside a vehicle,” Huska told the Toronto Star. “They don’t really know where the edges of their vehicle are.”

He says that drivers have rolled down their windows to comment on his noodle… mostly positive, though there have been negative incidents.

A Houston bicyclist takes this idea a step further, with a bright flag on a three-foot pole jutting from the left side of his bike. He wears a helmet camera people who hit the flag.

Houston has had a “safe passing” ordinance since 2013, requiring drivers to leave three feet of space between their cars and bicyclists (or other vulnerable road-users). The space requirement doubles for commercial vehicles, and any driver may simply choose to change lanes to avoid contact.

Dan Morgan has collected his videos on YouTube, demonstrating the anger some drivers display in response to his three-foot flag-pole.

“The whole purpose of the flag was to demonstrate that we exist on the roads,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “That flag could have been a person.”

Would you attach something like this to your bike to stay safer on the road? In some places, you don’t really have to.

More to encourage sustainable transportation than safety, Latvian bicyclists in Riga constructed full-size, brightly-painted, car-shaped structures to point out how much space single-occupant cars take up on the road. Poland even has a glowing bike/pedestrian path, and though it doesn’t appear to be adjacent to a road it’ll likely get you where you’re going. Much is said of the cycling culture in the Netherlands, including talk of encouraging drivers to use the Dutch Reach when opening their doors while parked on the street.

So what do you think? Are pool noodles and flags a good idea for cyclists to use in traffic, or are they a hazardous surprise for drivers? Are motorists simply unaware of the rules of the road, or entitledly selfish? Is there more that can be done to improve peaceful road-sharing, or is it up to individuals to behave better? Comment with your opinions below!

The Art Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab reader. It appears on random, occasional days at 3pm ET… Because NOBODY EXPECTS THE ARTIST INQUISITION!

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and sticky public transit and is only on her second smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around. If external links are your thing, here are links to Twitter and Instagram, and you can support her ongoing weirdness by buying her a coffee or six.

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