Archive for bicycle

`Paris is in anarchy’ [cycle woes]

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2021 by xi'an

An overblown view of the cycling war in Paris, from New York! I read with amusement the report on how Xing a Parisian street is a matter of life or death, when anarclists go through red lights while shouting at pedestrians… Actually, the figures show that the number of accidents involving cyclists (as victims or culprits) has only gone up by 30% when the traffic has increased by 70%. And I could not find an online trace of a pedestrian killed by a cyclist over the past years. Based on my weekly 130 kilometer biking average, mostly to and from Paris Dauphine, I do not perceive a major tension between pedestrians and cyclists, maybe because I am not entering the centre of town (and give priority to pedestrians at both green and red lights). The danger in my experience comes rather from other cyclists’ unpredictable paths, (psychopath) mopeds that run on cycle paths, and cars turning right without checking for bicycles. But I concur with the point made in this article of a poor network of cycle paths, with too many discontinuities, bad surface, inexistent maintenance (esp. in winter months when wet leaves accumulate there and all year long for broken glass and metal parts), and the deadly pavés! Which are unpleasant for road bikes (ask the Paris-Roubaix runners!), slippery, esp. when frosted (speaking from experience), and damaging to tubes and ties. As it happens, I have had thee tube punctures over the three past weeks, two of which were due to running over a particularly uneven pavé or entering a cycle path with a very high step. (And a total of six since April. Making me reconsider using an heavier mountain bike instead. After switching unsuccessfully to anti-puncture road tyres…)

30 less reasons to overtake bikes

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on September 17, 2021 by xi'an

Wagram, morne plaine!

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2020 by xi'an

Avenue de Wagram is one of the avenues leaving from Arc de Triomphe in Paris, named after a (bloody) Napoléonic battle (1809). This is also where I locked my bike today before joining my son for a quick lunch and where I found my back wheel completely dismantled when I came back!  Not only the wheel had been removed from the frame, but the axle had been taken away, damaging the ball bearing… After much cursing, I looked around for the different pieces and remounted the wheel on the bike. The return home to the local repair shop was slower than usual as the wheel was acting as a constant brake. I am somewhat bemused at this happening in the middle of the day, on a rather busy street and at the motivation for it. Disgruntled third year student furious with the mid-term exam? Unhappy author after a Biometrika rejection?

Not a great week for biking since I also crashed last weekend on my way back from the farmers’ market when my pannier full of vegetables got caught in between the spokes. Nothing broken, apart from a few scratches and my cell phone screen… [Note: the title is stolen from Hugo’s Waterloo! Morne plaine!, a terrible and endless poem about the ultimate battle of Napoléon in 1815. With a tenth of the deaths at Wagram… Unsurprisingly, no Avenue de Waterloo leaves from Arc de Triomphe! ]

sans sérif & sans chevron

Posted in Books, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2020 by xi'an
{\sf df=function(x)2*pi*x-4*(x>1)*acos(1/(x+(1-x)*(x<1)))}

As I was LaTeXing a remote exam for next week, including some R code questions, I came across the apparent impossibility to use < and > symbols in the sans-sérif “\sf” font… Which is a surprise, given the ubiquity of the symbols in R and my LaTeXing books over the years. Must have always used “\tt” and “\verb” then! On the side, I tried to work with the automultiplechoice LaTeX package [which should be renamed velomultiplechoice!] of Alexis Bienvenüe, which proved a bit of a challenge as the downloadable version contained a flawed file of automultiplechoice.sty! Still managed to produce a 400 question exam with random permutations of questions and potential answers. But not looking forward the 4 or 5 hours of delivering the test on Zoom…

local mayhem, again and again and again…

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2019 by xi'an

The public transports in France and in particular in Paris have now been on strike for three weeks. In connection with a planned reform of the retirement conditions of workers with special status, like those in the train and metro companies, who can retire earlier than the legal age (62). As usual with social unrest in France, other categories joined the strike and the protest, including teachers and health service public workers, as well as police officers, fire-fighters and opera dancers, and even some students. Below are some figures from the OECD about average retirement conditions in nearby EU countries that show that these conditions are apparently better in France. (With the usual provision that these figures have been correctly reported.) In particular, the life expectancy at the start of retirement is the highest for both men and women. Coincidence (or not), my UCU affiliated colleagues in Warwick were also on strike a few weeks ago about their pensions…

Travelling through and around Paris by bike, I have not been directly affected by the strikes (as heavy traffic makes biking easier!), except for the morning of last week when I was teaching at ENSAE, when I blew up a tyre midway there and had to hop to the nearest train station to board the last train of the morning, arriving (only) 10mn late. Going back home was only feasible by taxi, which happened to be large enough to take my bicycle as well… Travelling to and from the airport for Vancouver and Birmingham was equally impossible by public transportation, meaning spending fair amounts of time in and money on taxis! And listening to taxi-drivers’ opinions or musical tastes. Nothing to moan about when considering the five to six hours spent by some friends of mine to get to work and back.

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