Thursday, May 30, 2019

Cycling incident with ute near Main Ridge Mornington Peninsula leaves many questions.

Yesterday I read an article on the News.com.au which had a video of a ute overtaking a group of cyclists only to shortly after overtaking turn into a a property causing a number of cyclists to be in an accident.


I read articles like this as I like to understand an improve my driving skills and my very basic riding skills.

The article was well written and simply report the information provided. It did not make a judgement on who was in the right or wrong. The person reporting the incident, known as Clint, appears to be one of the riders. The location was not provided except that it was in the Main Ridge Mornington Peninsula area. The time of the incident was during a weekday morning ride. Whilst it is hard to read the date/time stamp looks like it is Mar 29 or May 29 at 10:35. At the news article is dated May 29 at 8:35am, this must have been in March.

The headline "Cyclists slam ute driver after accident" was written leading one to feel this was a ute driver at fault which plays into the cyclist versus cars mentality, which reinforces the us and them argument.

What is also interesting is to read the comments and whilst I admit I don't know all the road rules, so I'm like everyone else, some of the comments show people getting the road rules wrong.

Watching the video the ute driver was not considerate of other road users. Around five seconds after overtaking the riders, the ute driver turns into a property.

The first question I have is has the ute driver done anything wrong. Whilst we may not like a car overtaking us and then making us slow down immediately afterwards, I don't think that is illegal. Yes rude, but that's what people can be like.

It appears from the video the ute driver's indicator isn't on whilst overtaking, or moving back into the left lane. However, when the ute driver turns into the driveway, the indicator does appear to be on.

After overtaking a single white line divides the road. The ute driver has returned to the left lane before the single white line appears. The ute driver turns right over the single white lane into a property, which as I read, is legal.

The ute driver's driving would thus appear to be legal, although for many it may be considered rude, but that's not illegal.

There is a group of eight cyclists travelling together. The leading two cyclists have  time to slow and stop as the ute turns into the property. A voice is heard calling out wait, wait, indicating an issue.

At this point the outside cyclist in the second row loses control and falls off their bike. This causes the inside cyclist in the second row to lose control. The third row of cyclists avoid the two fallen cyclists. The rider taking the video in the fourth row who appears to move left and right in the lane indicating the fourth row may be staggered, then loses control and falls.

The rider taking the video has around three seconds warning from the wait, wait alert to when the second rider has fallen blocking their path causing them to lose control.

According to the article, "The abrupt move led to two cyclists crashing as they were forced to slam on their brakes to avoid running into the back of the vehicle." This doesn't appear to be correct. The two cyclists in front had stopped so the two that fell had to break to avoid running into the two stopped cyclists.

Clint uses word's such as deliberate which imply to me as a reader the driver deliberately meant to interfere with the riders. This may not have been the case. Yes their action was deliberate to turn into their driveway.

Clint states the car didn't have to merge back in front of them before turning into the driveway. Clint's suggestion for the ute would mean the ute would probably be breaking the law by driving on the wrong side of the road (divided by a white line) and turning incorrectly from the wrong lane.

Client states the driver was more interested in arguing, however from the gesture of the first rider's arm held up in the air and body turned toward the ute, you could only assume the driver would be entering into a heated situation.

In the comment section a person states the cyclists were riding two abreast which is illegal in Victoria. Riding two abreast is not illegal in Victoria.

When I look at this video I see two problems. A driver of a ute who is not considerate of other road users. A group of riders who are travelling too close together that would enable them to safely stop if they have to.

Until reading this article I thought there was a road rule that said if I left the road turning into private property I had to give way to other road users. I took that to mean road users behind me. I decided to read the road rules and I could not find anywhere where people who turn into private property have to consider road users behind them. Yes to pedestrians and other vehicles they have to give way to, but that's not vehicles behind them.

Was the driver's driving style illegal I don't know. We see driving like that all the time on our roads were people speed ahead just to block the traffic and turn at the next intersection.

Whilst the cyclists may not be happy, as soon as the vehicle has overtaken and is in front of them, if the vehicle puts their indicator on to turn for a sufficient period of time, the cyclists should slow down and stop if necessary.

According to Clint the riders had been travelling at 35 to 40 km/h. This speed is not insignificant. The close formation riding is a concern. The video shows the riders in front whilst inconvenienced had no problems stopping. The riders following had significant issues stopping and in three cases ran into serious issues possibly causing injury.

The problem for the riders, apart from the action of a driver, is they weren't travelling at a safe distance from each other which would enable them to stop safely if required.

Perhaps it's time for peloton style of riding to be reviewed on our roads. If riders need to train peloton style, then perhaps additional safety controls should be put into place. We may not like it, and cyclists certainly won't, but people's safety is important. None of us like giving up anything, but this happens all the time in our society, so hopefully our society works better together.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au


PS. This video has been posted on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp3d4qojvx8).



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Alert: Petrol prices on the rise in Melbourne. Prices hiking to 167.9 cents per litre.

On Saturday night I noticed the first petrol stations increasing the price of unleaded petrol to 167.9. Before sending out an alert I like to wait until a few more petrol stations increase their prices. I've seen petrol stations jump the gun before to later drop their prices again.

It's now Monday night and more petrol stations have increased their prices to 167.9. The current gate price is 134.9, so the increase is in the expected range of 25-30 cents above the gate price.

On the weekend I was passing through the Dandenong area where prices were very good. I was able to use the 7/11 Fuel app to lock in the price of 131.7 cents per litre for unleaded petrol. The lowest prices in my area were around 137.9 so even with discounts vouchers, the 131.7 was still a better price and it meant I could fill up when my tank was lower.

Over the next few days we can expect petrol prices to head upwards as we approach the weekend. Time to keep an eye on prices and if you're using the 7/11 Fuel app, be ready to lock in at the right time.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Blood Alcohol Calculator merged into Standard Drink Calculator.

Looking for the Blood Alcohol Calculator web app but can't find it.

The Blood Alcohol Calculator has now been merged into the Standard Drink Calculator site. The menus in the Standard Drink Calculator haven't changed, as the Blood Alcohol Calculator has always been the Multiple option on the menu. The Multiple option previously linked to an external site (Blood Alcohol Calculator) whereas now that external site has been incorporated as a page on the Standard Drink Calculator.

Whilst it's always a gamble to change a site by either splitting a site out to separate sites, or to bring together similar sites into one, it is hoped that by having the multiple sites together, this makes it easier for people to find the functionality of the calculators. This is part of my approach to keep testing and tuning sites. To find what works and what doesn't work. If it works more people get the opportunity to benefit from the calculators.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.StandardDrinkCalculator.com.au

Duracell battery leaked damaging souvenir.

Over the years you build up brand loyalty and one such product are batteries. We all know and expect cheap batteries, if you don't take care, can potentially leak.

Today I read an article on The Age site where the writer shared their story of their Duracell batteries leaking. The responses from Duracell really wasn't a good look good for Duracell.

I'd also had similar experiences with Duracell batteries. Another family member recently had souvenir clock that didn't work and when I checked the clock, this is what I found.


Now I'm sure most of us have been in this situation. An old toy, a remote control, devices left sitting and forgotten for some time, only to find the battery has leaked. Yes we should have removed the batteries, but you only realise when you go to use the device and the device doesn't work. The news isn't good.

As long as the corrosion from the battery acid isn't too great, I usually clean up the terminals and then with a cotton bud use a solution of water and baking soda mixed to a paste to neutralise any remaining acid. Sometimes however, the corrosion has been so bad the terminals have rusted and break off.

At some point in the past I really felt Duracell had such a good reputation and believed their batteries didn't leak. Well the reputation with regards to batteries not leaking well and truly busted and extra care is required when using Duracell batteries.

I did a search on the internet for Energizer battery leaked to see what came up. I was quite surprised to see Energizer offers a no leak guarantee and repair of your device if damaged by leakage. However it's important to read the fine print. The Energizer batteries (excluding lithium) are  only covered for 1-2 years following the full use of the battery. I don't know about you, but if I pack an item away the batteries are not fully used and there's no way for me to know when the battery has been fully used. If I knew the battery was fully used, I'd have removed the battery and disposed them. This guarantee also probably doesn't apply to Australia.

I then searched for Energizer Australia. There's no Australian site for Energizer, but there is a site that covers Asia, which I suspect also covers Australia. In the terms and conditions for Energizer Australia Pty Limited there's no mention of a no leak guarantee. No mention of damage to your appliance.

It would appear both Duracell and Energizer really don't offer any peace of mind to consumers. What's important to accept is probably any battery can leak and damage your devices. It's important then you take appropriate precautions such as checking the use by date. Removing batteries before you put items away, or if you're not using them regularly.

It's not just devices you put away. I've found myself using a TV remote control day after day for the remote control to just stop working. Then on opening the remote control the batteries have been found to have leaked. One set of kitchen scales I was using slipped out of my hand onto the bench and stopped working. On opening the scales I found the batteries were corroded. The device only stopped working because the bump caused the good contact to be lost. I would not have expected to see leaked and corroded batteries in a device that was still working.

I already remove batteries from devices I'm not using for a while, if I remember. In future however I will also be checking to make sure the use by dates of batteries have not expired, even if the batteries are still working.

Hopefully these thoughts may help others.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au



Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Google ads appearing over site content making it impossible to use the site.

I've noticed recently Google ads appearing over sections of pages on my sites that means it's no longer possible to enter data into the fields making it impossible to use the page. This is only occurring on mobile sites to my knowledge.

If you find pages on my sites where Google ads are damaging the user experience (such that you can't enter information into the forms) please let me know and I'll temporarily remove or replace the ads.

This appears to be a recent change by Google. I've never seen this happen before and it's only started to happen recently. When the Google ads appear they should simply take up space. Instead they appear over the content of the page and that makes it impossible to see what is now under the ad. This is obviously a recent flaw in Google's programming and hopefully they'll realise and correct the issue.



The issue with Google ads affects pages with forms where the Google ad is above the form and the person is using a mobile device.

Please contact me using the details on the Contact page if you find a problem. Thank you in advance for any assistance.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Update: 14/05/2019
A quick solution to ads covering the page is to click on the X in the corner of the ad. Then click on the option to Stop Seeing This Ad. There's options then for the reason you're closing the ad and one option is the ad is covering content. Not all ads are a problem, but getting rid of the ads that cause a problem may flag a problem. If lots of people close problem ads you would hope it may get noticed. That should fix the immediate issue for a user, but of course doesn't fix the issue if people don't know this is an option.

Update: 16/05/2019
The quick solution mentioned previously is useful to clear the screen temporarily, but the ads often keep coming back, so the problem keeps occurring. For me the way I'll work around this issue, as there's no telling how long it will keep happening, is on web pages that can be used on mobiles, where there's a form that will get blocked by an ad overlaying the form, I'll remove those ads and replace them with a different ad that does not impact the form. You could also simply delete the ad, or alternately, instead of using a responsive ad use a fixed size ad instead.

Update: 20/05/2019
I found through further reading it is possible to limit the height of the response adsense ad, so today I decided to create a new size limited ad and test the result. I used the following code in the adsense code, but modified to take into account the maximum width of the web pages I have. This code was found in the Adsense help pages.

   style="display:inline-block;min-width:400px;max-width:970px;width:100%;height:90px"

Unfortunately it didn't work. Some ads had a height which was much greater then 90px. The good outcome however it looks like Google may have fixed the issue, or at least made it better. In general when I went to type into the form the larger ad was replaced with a shorter ad and the fields were not covered by the ads. On one occasion the was a huge amount of white vertical space, so Google's code is still not perfect, but appears to work most of the time.

Unless something unexpected occurs it looks like I can return to using the standard responsive code from Adsense.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Car versus bus. Which is more cost effective? The Car versus Public Transport calculator provides the answer.

Yesterday I met a friend at Eastland Shopping Centre. Before I left home I'd done a calculation comparing the cost of using a car versus the cost of using a bus. Ignoring time because frankly if you take time into account you'd probably never use a bus, and in this case the extra time taken didn't overly affect my day.

Here is my calculation for using a bus or car from Templestowe to Ringwood.

Not a huge saving at $2.88 each way, but more than enough to pay for the coffee I had. Also since it was cheaper using the bus I feel like I'll get a greater use out of my car which is a large investment, if I use it when the car is the most cost effective mode of transport.

Whilst sitting having that coffee (which in effect had already been paid for) I did the same calculation for my friend who had driven from Warranwood to Ringwood. It turned out my friend by driving had taken the most cost effective mode of transport also saving 18 cents each way, but possibly more since I'd use an estimate of 30 cents per kilometre. My friend's car uses gas and cost less, so there's a good change I've over estimated the cost per kilometre.


The Car versus Public Transport calculator is quite handy in answering the question is it cheaper to use public transport of use a car. There's so much promotion by the government to use their services that sometimes you really do start to wonder. Now it's easy to work out what's best for you.

What the calculator has shown in this situation is just how bad public transport is for short local trips. Even worse is this is with seniors concession so for people having to pay full fare, it cost considerably more. There should be no reason it is cheaper to use a car compared to a far less convenient, slower, heavily subsidised shared bus, but that's not how the government has set up its charging. It literally costs the same amount to go from the Melbourne Airport to Frankston as it does to travel one stop on a bus. That really doesn't encourage people to use local public transport for short local trips which really is a pity.

In any case, the Car versus Public Transport calculator is already proving to have been useful in helping me to better understand my costs and save me money. That's the main reason I write the calculators. Hopefully the calculator can save you money too.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.CarVersusPublicTransport.com.au

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Car versus Public Transport - which one is cheaper?

Answering the question of which is cheaper between car and public transport is not as easy as you first think. There really are a lot of variables, and sometimes it's cheaper to use a car and sometimes it's cheaper to use public transport.

The advantage of using public transport is often public transport is subsidised by tax payers by 40-60% and sometimes I've heard, up to 90%. So that means someone else is picking up probably around half the cost of your "real" cost. The major disadvantage of using public transport is time. It's not unusual for a trip on public transport to take three or more times the amount of time compared to a car. As an example, I set off one day to do some banking on a Saturday morning at 11 am. I reached the bank by 12:50 pm. That's a staggering 110 minutes for what takes about 6-10 minutes in a car. The stress of almost not getting to the bank by closing time at 1 pm was considerable.

Cars on the other hand have a considerable amount of costs you just don't think about.  When you get into your car for a trip you often don't actually pay anything. Sure we may think about the petrol cost, but then what about the rego and insurance cost each year.

Then there's the situation where you own a car and also take public transport. You really can't do without the car so like it or not, you've got recurring costs like rego and insurance even if the car stays in the garage.

So overall, it really is very hard to work out what the cost of using your car is for a single trip.

To help get an answer I've written a couple of calculators over time which I use. One is the car running cost calculator. I've gone through my records over the last 10 plus years and now I can quickly ask some questions which help me determine my cost per kilometre.

If I consider all costs so far, the cost of using my car has been 51 cents per kilometre. This does not include a financing cost or loss of interest on the money used to buy the car. If I consider only the petrol cost the cost has been 13 cents per kilometre. However I think a more accurate cost is the cost of the car, less an estimate of any remaining car value, plus any other costs. I don't include rego and insurance, but do include servicing. Using that approach this gives me a figure of 35 cents per kilometre. Sure it's not exact, but at least it's a good estimate.

Working out the cost of public transport is fairly easy. The time taken for car versus public transport can be estimate using Google Maps. The distance travelled by car can also be determined using Google Maps.

If time isn't a concern you then have everything you need to compare the cost of using a car to the cost of using public transport. If time is important, you'll need to work out a figure you're happy with that places a value on your time.

The Car versus Public Transport calculator has already revealed some quite unexpected results for people I've tested the calculator with. Hopefully the calculator will reveal some valuable insights for you as well.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.carversuspublictransport.com.au/

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Menzies electorate and the importance of your voting preferences.

Based on the last election results for Menzies, this election could be very close. It may all come down to preferences. I've found most people don't understand their preferences are just as important as their primary vote.

Here's a link to the 2016 Federal election.

https://results.aec.gov.au/20499/Website/HouseDivisionPage-20499-229.htm

You can see Liberal Party won outright, but they only received 51.72% of the first preference votes. With over 50% of first preferences the Liberal Party couldn't lose. But what if there was a further swing against the liberal party which took them below the 50% mark. Still highly unlikely they'd lose, but it could happen.

All that then needs to happen is for all second preference votes to go Labor. Hard to believe isn't it. A party that gets around a quarter of the vote could actually get in. Whilst it may even be harder to believe, if a strong third contender entered the race taking votes from both the Liberal and Labor parties, then getting strong preference support, it's a really long shot, but the third candidate could have a slim chance.

How then do preferences work and how is it possible that preferences are so powerful.

Let's take a simple example.

Let's say the Liberal Party gets 49% of the first preference votes. Then an independent gets say 26% of the first preference votes and Labor gets 25% of the first preference votes.

Now what happens in our system, is since in the example above the Labor candidate came last, the way people entered their preferences are then used to split up the votes for the remaining two candidates. If everyone that voted for Labour listed their second preference as the independent, then all the votes for the Labor candidate would go to the independent. The independent would now end up with their 26% of first preference votes and the 25% of the Labor candidates votes as a second preference, giving the independent a total of 51% of the votes.

Few people realise the second preference vote has as much voting power as their first preference, should the candidate they're voting for end up with a lower number of votes than the leading candidates.

Candidates may do a deal with other candidates to give their preferences to each other. They don't really give anything, but what they do is list the order of how they feel people should vote. The order can be based on the deal that's been done that gives them the best chance of getting in.

Menzies is not a marginal seat. Around 77% of the votes at the last election went to Liberal (51.72%) or Labor (24.6%). There were 5.02% of informal votes (votes not entered correctly) and thus they didn't count. That leaves 18.66% of the vote for other candidates. That means no other candidate had a chance of winning, even if preferences were taken into account. As the preferences are taken into account and those candidates receiving the lowest number of votes removed, you finally end up with the two party preferred votes. Of the second and further preferences (20,656) the Liberal Party received a further 7,709 votes (37%) and the Labor Party received 12,947 votes (63%).

If you really want to make a difference with your vote, one way to maximise the value of your vote is to look at your preferences. Look at which parties are giving their preference to which candidates. Then vote for the candidate you most prefer and then each further candidate based on how they are allocating their preferences. There's a good chance a higher proportion of people will follow the candidate's How to Vote card and that will influence the very powerful preference votes.

Hopefully this post helps people understand a little more about our election system, and how truly powerful and important your second and further preferences really are.

Kelvin Eldridge