Tuesday, September 8

Government Bicycle Lies

I use "tryparkingit.com" to log my commute miles. In a previous post, here, I talked about some of the other choices. Many of those are superior, but I LIKE tryparkingit. It's sort of like a classic Jaguar in that you KNOW it's unreliable and prone to unexpected breakdown, but you love it anyway.

Tryparkingit.com is a creature of "NCTCOG," a quasi-government entity. However, their site does get a little sporty with the truth on occasion, as this post describes.

First off, they pump up the "trips reduced" as shown in Item A. In actuality, as of that date, I'd logged 192 bicycle commutes on their site. I'm not exactly sure how they got the 214, other than the site used to give you credit for any day you didn't go to work - like due to vacation, holiday, or sickness. Now, they only give you extra credit if you skip work due to a "compressed work week," whatever that is.

Next, compare the two mileages in Item B. They don't match! What's more, my actual logged mileage on that date was 6108 miles which doesn't match EITHER of the summary numbers. What happens here is that they give you "extra credit" if you bring your lunch to work. I'm not sure how bringing my lunch to work on my bike makes me greener than eating at the cafeteria, but this IS government thinking at work.

Next, look at Item C and notice the gas savings. In this case, tryparkingit is pessimistic. The only way I'd get 21mpg in the Land Rover would be going down a hill with a stiff tailwind. 14 is more like it, which for the 6108 miles, comes out to more like 436 gallons saved before the "extra credit" stuff, or 584 gallons using government math.

NOW you get into real phony baloney with Item D. Tryparkingit uses AAA costs. Well, these only work if you GET RID of the vehicle since the durn things still cost money just to park in the driveway otherwise due to insurance and depreciation. The Land Rover's pretty much depreciated which reduces my savings, but my insurance costs are high per mile since I don't put that many miles on it. In reality, I figure I've saved about $2000, which just about matches the cost of "Buddy" and the various bike gewgaws I've purchased during that time.

Finally, you get to the last lie, in Item E. It's a similar sort of number to the gas savings. Lucky for me I weigh more than the average number, and ride faster as well. In my case, reality comes out closer to 350000 calories before you add the "extra credit." Good thing I've lost a couple of pounds lately or it'd mean that I'd have to ride to the moon and back to reach my ideal weight instead of merely around the world a couple of times.

There are other oddities on the site that don't show up in the picture. For example, PM Summer at Cycle*Dallas got irritated, here, by the way tryparkingit combined alternative commute modes - combining cycling with blade skating (yes, I know it's really in-line skating). When I complained about it to them, reproduced here, they asked me to be a transportation coordinator (without responding to my actual complaint). They also don't mention that the site is not heavily used. This year, on "Bike to Work Day," I represented 6.5% of logged bicycle commuting for the entire metroplex, all by myself. I'm not sure how they concluded that I rode my bike to work instead of blade skating in, but I figure they made a guess. And, perhaps you can explain to me how riding my bike to work after 10AM would reduce ozone formation by one molecule compared to riding it to work before 10AM.

Still, despite its warts, the site has easy Excel export and THAT lets me make all kinds of cool charts & graphs. And, isn't that one thing engineers live for? That plus I'm optimistic that they'll help me amortize "Buddy" down to that 10 cent per mile target cost a little quicker.

See, Big Oak, there was more to this tryparkingit than you might have thought, when you read the prior "results" post; here. So now get back to work and give us a little more about that luscious Tricross of yours. Wiggly lights are interesting, but more Tricross posts are needed to keep balance and harmony in the universe.


Doohickie said...

compressed work week: I actually work that. I work a 9/80 arrangement- every two weeks I work 80 hours in 9 days, meaning I get every other Friday off. I work an extra hour Monday through Thursday, and at the end of two weeks I have an extra 8 hours so I don't have to work Friday. Some people work four 10-hour days. That's a compressed work week too.

I use tryparkingit mostly because I use tryparkingit. I started with them, and they have a running record of all my commutes since I started riding to work (except for a short period of a week or two where I got lazy and forgot to put it in).

Whether or not it sucks, it does provide a pretty decent record of my commutes.

Steve A said...

Doohickie: and I use it for that reason as well.

Rantwick said...

Call me uptight, but if I wanted to track stuff like that, those innacuracies would bug me so much that I wouldn't use it. Thank goodness I'm too lazy to want to track stuff like that.

Steve A said...

If you wanted to track stuff like that, I'd suggest you go to one of those other sites. People in London don't get "attaboys" from the USG, though it might be interesting to see if NCTCOG noticed.

Myself, besides cooler graphs than Doohickie, I have an almost secret hope of scoring the $250 prize as "commuter of the year." Besides the free lunch, it'd reduce the miles before Buddy's paid off.

Chandra said...

I used "TryParkingIt" a few times but then I gave up sometime last year. I used DORBA's commie monitor for the rest of the time up until recently. Now, DORBA's commie monitor has been down for a few weeks. So, I have started reconsidering "TryParkingIt".

But my Garmin stores all kinds of data which gets sucked into my cycle computer. So, as far as keeping track of miles, I have no worries.

In the Garmin Training Center program, I have more than enough data to satisfy my analytical curiosities.

Steve --- congrats on accumulating a great # of miles!

Peace :)

Keri said...

I hate logging.
I stopped logging scuba dives after I got certified. I stopped logging skydives after about 200. It was all I could do to log my flight hours in an airplane... but you really have to, so I did. I don't even have a computer on my commuter bike.

PM Summer said...

I stopped logging scuba dives after I got certified. I stopped logging skydives after about 200. It was all I could do to log my flight hours in an airplane...

Hmmm. You sound like a good candidate for being a Rolling Traffic-Calming Device... I mean, a Vehicular Cyclist.


Keri said...

For a long time, I thought traffic cycling was an adrenaline sport.

Then I learned effective cycling. Good thing. I'm getting too old for adrenaline sports ;-)

Steve A said...

Traffic Cycling. Isn't that how the traffic signals change?

Boy, some of those camera sensors really tend to get out of whack frequently around here. It seems that every time we get a strong wind, half of them get spun round part way.

I only put a computer on Buddy last week. I got a good deal on one at the HH100.

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