Intelligence ∝ Wheels

Most two-wheeler motorists are poor drivers. This is something that’s easy to ascertain from the disproportionate number of deaths that involve a two-wheeler with something other than a heavy vehicle or a car. This is also the reason that whenever I hear about a young man not wearing a helmet who got killed by a car, I know who’s responsible. Not wearing a helmet is just one symptom of the typical illusion that two-wheeler motorists live in.

Driving a car badly is harder than driving a motorcycle badly, for the following reasons:

  • A car is automatically limited by the space available — meaning no swerving between other vehicles, and in between bumpers to gain 0.7 of a second.
  • When the vehicle in front of you stops, if you’re a car driver, you stop. If you’re a motorcyclist, you turn your front wheel in one direction (usually right) and try switching lanes, stopping only when a car driver frantically brakes and honks.
  • If a car ever collides with anything, it’s the drivers fault. If a two-wheeler ever collides with anything, it’s usually blamed on what the two-wheeler collides with. Except for the one situation where the two-wheeler slams right bang between the two tail-lights, splitting your licence plate in two.
  • You need to have a certain amount of money to buy a car, either through your parents or by your own work. While this does not preclude the possibility of a boorish rich driver, those are less likely to exist than the college going imbecile
  • Cars corner better than motorcycles.
  • Cars are more easily damaged by minor incidents than motorcycles — a car and a bike scrape, and the bike gets off with no damage nearly

Now, I have never claimed to be an exceptional driver myself, but I have never driven in a manner that is likely to kill myself or another. And besides, going “Tu Quoque” isn’t accepted any more. To illustrate, I have created a colourful drawing for you all to see the difference between the way a car driver takes a corner and the way a motorcyclist does so. The legend for the yellow line should be ‘lane marker’, but I forgot and I’m not going to change it because I can’t make it fit now anyway.

An illustration of the difference between the way cars and two-wheelers are driven. With intelligence on the y-axis and year (ending in 2008) on the x-axis, the upper red line, and the green dotted line also represent the average IQ of the drivers of the vehicles.

Are you a motorcyclist? To find out if you, too, are an idiot, answer these questions — if you answer yes, add those points to your score:

  • Do you have a helmet? (-3 points)
  • Have you removed your rear-view mirrors? (6 points)
  • Do you put your foot on another vehicle to be pulled along? (6 points)
  • Do you use your signal lights? (-6 points)
  • Do you take great pride in travelling 50+ km/h in rush-hour traffic? (9 points)
  • Have you been involved in motorcycle accidents with another motorcycle or in accidents where you were violating a law? (6 points)
  • Do you ever use the pavement when the roads are jammed? (6 points)
  • Is your licence invalid? (9 points)
  • Do you have insurance (-3 points)
  • You are in the left most lane. The car in the lane to your right is slowly moving forward to close the gap between it and the stationary vehicle in front of it. Do you accelerate and switch to that lane? (9 points)
  • You are in the left most lane, right behind an auto-rickshaw. Traffic is moving at a steady 30 km/h. The auto-rickshaw stops. Do you turn your front wheel to the right and try to poke into the lane to your right? (12 points) Do you stop your vehicle in the same lane and look at your mirrors before making your next move? (-6 points)
  • The light is red. There doesn’t seem to be anyone coming anywhere near the intersection in the direction that it is green for. Do you go ahead? (3 points)
  • Do you drive on the wrong side of the road, near the pavement? (6 points)
  • After overtaking a vehicle so that you’re in front of it, do you slam on the brakes? (6 points)
  • Do you frequently stop your motorcycle just before the median begins, in the right-most lane, so that when the signal changes you can squeeze past the last car before the median? (3 points)
  • Do you put on your helmet while driving? (3 points)
  • Do you follow mirror, signal, manoeuvre? (-12 points)
  • Do you brag to your friends about how you managed to squeeze between something and something else, and you could almost have died except you were so damn good a driver that it didn’t happen? (12 points)

Now if you scored more than 0, you’re an idiot. The degree of your stupidity is your score divided by 6. If you’re an Urban Boor, you are automatically an idiot of the greatest degree, because it is nearly assured that you have the highest score possible.

PS: Title applies only to vehicles owned by a person or family for the use of that person or family.

Improving mileage – not that hard after all

I’ve been driving around for more than a year now, and while petrol prices weren’t bad enough to cause a problem six months ago, at Rs. 55+ per litre now it’s like I cut a hole at the bottom of my wallet every time I visit a petrol bunk. Naturally, all those articles about hypermiling caught my attention, but it seemed like a lot of work. I gave it a half-hearted shot anyway, and saw my mileage go to 16.5 km/litre, up from the 13 km/litre I was getting before. The car is an 11-year old Maruthi 800 that’s second hand, and that’s gone through 45,000 kilometres. A little more effort and I’m now up to 19 km/litre now, a number neither my parents nor my friends believe. But that’s because no one else has given it a shot, it’s near second nature to me now to drive like this.

For 16.5 on this car:

  • Drive at a regular 45 km/h when the traffic allows. No faster than that, and some times at 40 km/h.
  • Keep the car in the low revs without letting the engine lug. This means shift up earlier, so that you’re in the highest gear possible without letting the engine lug.
  • Don’t get stuck in stop-and-go situations, idle or kill the engine (if it’s really bad and you don’t see any two-wheelers around) and wait till enough space opens up before you move.
  • Don’t slow down for two-wheelers who try to edge into your lane in the left. Blast the horn at them, overtaking from the left is illegal and you’re in the right for giving them a scare. Don’t rev the engine though, wastes petrol. Actually, be careful here, two-wheeler drivers usually swerve in and out and while it is illegal for them to do this from the left, it’s not worth the fuel savings to hit them because if they get hurt you’ll have to take them to the hospital. If you’re on your way to a hospital anyway, then it doesn’t matter, go ahead.
  • Switch off the engine if the signal timer shows more than 20 seconds. This also depends on where you are in the line. I add one second per car from the stop line to calculate, and generally only start the vehicle once the car ahead of the one immediately in front of me starts.
  • On ‘green corridor’ roads, going faster than 45 km/h is actually better because although they claim to be optimised for 40 km/h, that doesn’t take into account the time to accelerate (which is longer than you may think because of the two-wheelers and autos that fill the roads).
  • On roads like the OMR and Mount Road, you can switch off the engine (careful to keep the key in the standby position, so your signal lights will show and you still have control over the wheel) but be careful because if you turn the key fully the steering wheel locks.

For 19+:

  • Know your route. Seriously, analysing your route can help incredibly. I’ve memorised signal timings for the few signals which don’t have timers along the routes I commonly take. Sometimes the signal will change midway through the timer (if it’s a right signal like at the Velachery Bypass) so knowing when that happens helps. For me, it’s fun finding the best possible mileage, like a high score on a video game.
  • Again, know your route. Average traffic at the next turn, how the road is right after that, these are important things. Coming up the road to velachery that leads on to Sardar Patel Road, I usually shift to neutral 20m before the road narrows from 3 lanes to two. At 40+ km/h I’ll be running slightly lower than 30 km/h when I take the turn, allowing me to shift directly into 3rd gear nearly perfectly.
  • Take the widest turn possible, this is usually the one furthest away from the pavement meaning there’s no chance that you’ll have to stop for a stationary vehicle parked at the corner, a pedestrian, or a roadside vendor. There’s also the added bonus that the road is usually smoother near the median and water doesn’t usually pool there so there’s no patchwork business.
  • Following up to that, avoid flyovers when possible. Avoid stop-and-go traffic on a flyover at all costs, lots of fuel spent there.
  • Pay attention to the traffic, often you can spot a red brake light six cars down the line that’s going to propagate, gearing to neutral means you won’t have to brake when it happens.
  • Allow cars to pass you, move aside if possible and if you’re travelling slower than the average on the road ensure there isn’t someone doing the same thing next to you. That way people can overtake you easily. Besides being good manners, this has the much more important effect of preventing the other vehicle from making a bad effort at overtaking you resulting in both cars forming an arrowhead that requires braking and one giving way. You may be in the right, but hydrocarbons burn anyway.
  • When you can’t avoid a flyover or subway, accelerate on the downslope only if there is space at the end to take advantage of the speed. Allow the car to slow down at the entry of a subway to see what the story is at the other end. If it’s empty, accelerate enough to keep you going up the slope. It’s better that way than holding to an even speed up and down. Let yourself slow down on the upslope, it happens. Also in places like Spencer’s Plaza’s underground parking, stop at the bottom of the ramp a few metres from it, then go all the way up to the next flat surface and stop there.
  • Keep fuel as low as possible in the tank. I generally have between half a tank and nearly nothing in there unless I’m driving long distance.
  • For god’s sake drop your high beam, just do it. It’s not for use when there’s at least one person driving in the direction towards you.

When I did all of this, I never expected much of a result, but when I finally decided to measure how far I can go I got these results. They’re approximate because I calculate when the bar reaches the E mark on my car (the actual empty is a few notches underneath) but I fill up a little after that. Another possible error relates to the fact that the car only shows how much fuel I have when it’s on so vapour may make it look a little higher.

So I went to C.A.R.S India to fix my broken headlamp and while I was sitting there waiting for the mechanic, this guy next to me is writing down on a piece of paper the following:

Back door glass
CARS India

After the tech looks at my car and tells me how much it’ll cost and when they’ll have stock of the lamp I go back to my car, and after reversing out I look at the glass on the back door of a yellow Maruti Omni. It says, “BACK DOOR GLASS” brightly on it. I would’ve taken a photo, but I was too busy laughing.

Update: Ha ha, 110 km on 5.45 litres, 219 on 10.9, that’s 20.1 km/l nearly. I’ve got air pressure to 28 psi in all the tyres instead of the rated 26 psi and I’m driving even more carefully now. Maybe I should try drafting, like Sido says.

The danger of football, and other things

Do you know that you can’t play football on the beach over the weekend any more, not even on Fridays? There’s no problem with frisbees, cricket or volleyball, but football is simply not allowed – and I suppose neither is rugby. You know, the beach used to be like the golden age of Man: written law was needless where none oppressed, the law of Man written in our breasts. The one last bastion of freedom, where you could do almost anything you want. Now, it’s like any other place, encumbered by meaningless laws, unwritten and enforced by megaphone and wooden stick.

Update: Apparently, Adithya is responsible for this; his confession is in the comments.

I would be incensed if it weren’t for the fact that now I have to drive just a further 3km. While on driving, my attempts to emulate hypermilers has led to partial results – I think I get something like a kilometre or more per litre out of the car. Must work on the gear shifting, but this old vehicle jumps even when you’re in the same gear. It’s embarrassing.

There are funny films. I like them. I saw one today: Death at a Funeral. Worth the rent.

Phone Recaptured

It’s not often you get to say good things about the police, but they managed to retrieve my mom’s phone, stolen in November, and they caught a store owner selling these stolen phones. My mom managed to find the IMEI of her phone and after telling the police, those guys tracked it down to some guy who claimed he borrowed it from his friend, who claimed he bought it from a store. Well, that’s where the chain ends. Like, major props to those cops. Remember to memorise your IMEI or store it somewhere. You can get it by dialing *#06# on the phone.

Techofes » Washed Clothes + Seven Days

What a name! Jesus.

I went for the rock show at the end of the technical festival, and there’s nothing I can say. As soon as Washed Clothes started everyone started leaving, and when Seven Days was playing the whole place was nearly empty. It was quite sad. The music, of course, was just fine. Seven Days was amazing, their covers were pretty damn good reproductions of the original versions. It was okay, could’ve been nicer if the stage was lower, if there were more people, if all the expensive lights were used, but these guys were really good, I wouldn’t mind paying to listen to their next show.