Toronto Cyclist Error Proofs With a “Pool Noodle” to Improve His Safety
This article from the Toronto Star caught my eye the other day:
There was a law passed in Ontario requiring drivers leave one meter of space between them and cyclists. This doesn't always happen, as there have been almost 900 collisions between bikes and cars to date this year in Toronto.
It goes to show that laws (or workplace policies) are not enough to ensure safety.
So, Warren Huska attached a pool noodle to his bike as shown in the photo (and in the video, which I haven't been able to get to play on their website).
There's no evidence that Warren is a “Lean thinker” or that he has been exposed to the Lean methodology at work, but what he's done here reminds me of Lean and Kaizen (continuous improvement). What he's done is what I call a “Like Lean” practice (see more posts about this).
For one, he's “error proofing” — he's not making it impossible for a car to hit him, but he's making it more difficult probably by giving a visual signal and a barrier that a driver is more likely to see and drive around.
Error proofing is, of course, a core Lean concept for ensuring that quality is built in (rather than inspecting it in after the fact).
Secondly, he's not blaming the drivers for being bad people, as he says:
“People get really insulated inside a vehicle,” Huska said. “They don't really know where the edges of their vehicle are.”
Lean organizations and Lean leaders, including Toyota, focus first on the process and system, rather than blaming individuals. We believe that people want to do quality work and I'd assume drivers don't want to hit cyclists.
Thirdly, it's like Kaizen in that he used “creativity over capital.” A pool noodle and a bungie cord doesn't cost much and he might have already had those materials at home. Kaizen, in the workplace, is about engaging everybody in improvement, everywhere, and every day (as Masaaki Imai says).
Finally, he's putting safety first, which is definitely the top priority at Toyota or any Lean organization.
“I'm unconcerned about looking good,” Huska said. “I'm concerned about my safety most.”
The article says the practice hasn't really spread to other cyclists. I wonder why?