Feds Spent $300,000 Studying How to Ride Bikes

The National Science Foundation (NSF) spent $300,000 studying how “humans interact with bicycles,” the latest example of what a House committee chairman calls waste in the agency.

The premise for the project, which was conducted between October 2009 and June 2013, was that bicycle dynamics are “poorly understood,” and researchers set out to come up with new designs to encourage more Americans to bike to lower their carbon footprint.

“Although human operator control models exist for numerous aircraft and other vehicles, the bicycle with a rider is a human-vehicle system whose dynamic behavior is poorly understood,” researchers at the University of California, Davis said in a paper publishing their interim results.

The paper said the authors had “deeper questions” about how people control bikes, and argued that no designs in the last century have been made with “desired handling qualities.”

“Even the simplest models of a bicycle with a rigidly attached rider have yet to be completely understood,” the researchers wrote.