Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

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Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby alexglebov » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:25 am

I would like to start the thread about how we as a kiting community can improve the safety during launch at 3rd ave. We are launching next to the rocks that are directly downwind and really bad accidents happened way too often. Here are some ideas how we can improve the safety:
1. Safety nets installation. I think Tony has installed some partial netting, but we need to make them bigger and stronger. Should we setup some fund raising project, maybe on Kickstarter?
2. There has been a discussion about controlling the erosion and back fill with the sand. This should help a lot if we can raise funds of the project.
3. One of the members of our kite club suggested an idea of safety launch anchor installation. It is not a self launch anchor, but rather additional safety used during launch by attaching the kite quick release line to the 10-20 foot line with carabiner on one end and some stationary point on the other end (like a bucket full of sand). This would need support from our community to require all kiters to use it.
4. Establish pay per use or seasonal pass access, like at Squamish. This would provide jet ski support and launch/landing help.
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Re: Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby BayAreaKite » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:00 am

I have no problem paying dues to kite safe and well kept beaches. I love kiting Squamish and when you are multiple thousands of dollars into gear, $10 is a small price to pay for rescue when needed, clean sandbags, and safe launches. As an experienced kiter, I also recognize that this fee simply subsidizes the safety of other beginner kiters. Just like everything else in life... auto insurance, health insurance...

I know a number of kiters who would object to paying to kite, so I don't expect launch fees at 3rd anytime soon. I understand their position; wind and water are free and that's one of the beautiful things about this sport.

We could look into a system common in climbing gyms, basically red tags hanging off the harness confirming that you have had your belay test and are familiar with the gym/beach. Again I think this would be tough to enforce, but all the locals could certainly have them and question those who don't when they ask for a launch.

A lot of the major injuries in this sport are happening to the occasional kiter, not the seasoned local. Figuring out how to identify and ensure the safety of the occasional kiter is the challenge. I fear launching systems could get abused by creating a false sense of security, or would not be used at all completely defeating their purpose.
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Re: Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby alexglebov » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:51 am

The scary thing about the last accident at 3rd is that it happened to the intermediate level kiter that was frequent to this spot in the late summer and fall, not to the occasional kiter. I have no idea what really happened, maybe unusual wind direction during winter conditions.
About paying dues at 3rd - we still can have lower launch with free access for advanced kiters and who don't want jet ski safety.
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Re: Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby Red_Element_Andy » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:55 am

I'm also interested in helping out - I think there is some low-hanging fruit in making more visual guides to the popular launches, and making existing information just easier to understand.

When I was a beginner back in 2011, it was not at all easy to understand what the landscape was like. BAK was the best resource available for understanding how to do things - but there were, and still are, many ways it could be improved.

Some examples:
-Outdated information: If you go to the "Kite Beaches" section of the site, and go to Alameda, the pictures posted are from 11-13 YEARS AGO! in 2004-2006. Same with some of the text on this site, and posted at BoardSports - with rules like "Kite in Hand, when you hit the sand" or emphasis on now seemingly out-dated hot topics like "leash vs. no leash."
-Site structure/Hierachy: Similarly, if you go look at the "Kite Beaches" section - you will see an equal weight given to bay area spots: 3rd Ave/Coyote, Ocean Beach/Crissy, Toll-Plaza/Marina Bay/Racetrack-Albany, Sherman Island/Little Baja - despite there really being a concentration of kiters - and therefore support - at one of each of these pairs of locations.
-Attitude/Lack of Realsim: This is a bit controversial, but a one-size-fits-all attitude towards beginners as if it's 2006 also isn't helping anyone - the sport is relatively mainstream, yet has risk - so we can't just post skull-and-crossbones language on the Sherman Island forum thread and expect beginners to 'not kite' or fly out to South Padre, Hatteras - after Alameda season shuts down. "Just Say No" mentality isn't helpful, so the more that we can inform of risks and be more transparent about seasonality, and the progression of sites, the better. Similarly, a 10-page text print-out for someone that is going to kite Crissy *no matter what* isn't likely to create a safer experience - especially if English is not their first language! (kite tourism visits to crissy are relatively common).

I think it will be difficult to protect against every risk - e.g. would we have to put a net around every rock? How would a jet-ski protect someone from a bad launch? How would a belay-style-card prevent someone from over-rigging?

I want to acknowledge the great work the veterans who have paved the way have done with BAK - it has been tremendously helpful to learn from this site. Building on that, it might be helpful to create a simpler page that also ranks highly in Google that is a bit more simplistic. If we can do it using BAK, awesome!, but if not, I think it's worth having another SEO result that simplifies a few things, examples of what I think would help:
-Start with a calendar: XYZ beaches are generally good in these months
-Fewer words, more simplification: Alameda is generally a beginner beach / GREEN CIRCLE, Crissy is a Double black diamond (the reasons why would be secondary information, pushed down)
-Tools for picking kite-size: Input body-weight, wind-speed, and board type - include *many* caveats to account for judgement / legal-disclaimers etc
-Redact common information OUT of beach-specific information (e.g. Kiteboarding is a privilege not a right, always use a leash --- starting a beach description with this will dilute more important site specific information like -- there's a ROCK BELOW THE WATER right off the beach)
-Showing visual and video guides from *the kiters perspective:* Most site descriptions are satellite photo, or no photo --- but hours later when a beginner has their kite pumped up, are suited up, and about to launch, it could be difficult to really synthesize that information. Maybe showing some photos also from the control bar-perspective with a HUGE DISCLAIMER that it might only be for the predominant wind direction, but showing a safe launch, could make it easier to understand.

Anyways - I just want to help - would love to know if you guys think we should work with the existing tool of BAK, or just create a separate square-space page or something that is more targeted to beginners, and a little more pruned down. }|&#
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Re: Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby BayAreaKite » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:58 pm

I appreciate the suggestions for BAK. After the death last season I posted a site-wide announcement targeted specifically at beginners, but as others have pointed out, it's not always beginners who get in trouble. People are going to get hurt kiting, regardless of the resources out there. I crashed my mountain bike last year and could have been paralyzed. Walking into the ER in Tahoe seeing at least 10 other injured riders made it clear that shi% happens, and as safe and cautious as I am and others are, accidents happen. I really think the only way to minimize risk is simply to avoid risky situations. That means don't ride trails with features you aren't familiar with, kite beaches when it's gusty, ski in the backcountry after fresh snow, etc etc. There are more than enough news stories, forums, and facebooks to make it beyond clear that you can get hurt doing pretty much anything these days, especially those. But I still do them, clearly we all do.

Not saying there's nothing I/BAK can do, only pointing out the inevitable. Putting green circles on beginner beaches doesn't make them any safer, look at where the majority of accidents happen. The only way to avoid these accidents is simply to not kite, especially in gusty conditions. My last rant was about using iKitesurf to learn how the wind patterns affect the conditions and when/when not to kite. Sure maybe the human forecasting is down in the winter, but you can still see the crazy computer model with huge guests and hopefully come to the conclusion that they are not safe conditions. Instead people are looking to facebook for suggestions on when/where to kite.

I am not a web developer, so making big changes to BAK is outside my skillset. I have some projects in the work to raise some money for the site in the interest of an update, and I will keep safety a major focus. Thanks again for your suggestions.
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Re: Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby CdoG » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:56 pm

Seems to me...
We are all safety site Stewart's and if you know how to kite and you see someone doing something silly ,

"if you see it say it"
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Re: Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby tegirinenashi » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:42 pm

It is rarely that there is one comprehensive answer to the safety issue, but the incidents statistics at the 3rd upper launch points to a single thing: bike path rocks. To reiterate Alex's point #1, yes, the safety net is something, but I wonder what are the net posts made of? IIRC they are metal, and when every year or so you have people dragged into the net, once in a while you can have an unfortunate incident of somebody hitting the post.

What is the cost of covering the rocks with sand? We have 500 feet (~150 m) or so of linear distance, and assuming at least one cubic yard of sand per linear yard, it needs at least 10 tandem trucks. I see online cost of one truckload to be around $500, but let's make the "living in a bubble" correction to $1000. So, 10 grand for the whole project -- a peanuts compared to a hospital bill.
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Re: Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby alexglebov » Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:27 pm

Can we get a permit from the proper authorities to put sand? We probably need to start a crowdsourcing fund project to raise money. I would definitely contribute to this effort. We can also start with installing safety anchors, it is faster, cheaper and don't require permits.


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Re: Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby alexglebov » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:44 am

The kiteforum has a thread about the safety and the last page has discussion about unhooked lunch with several videos. Here is the link:
https://kiteforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1 ... &start=260
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Re: Improving safety for 3rd upper launch

Postby tegirinenashi » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:13 pm

I don't think any guidelines would prevent severe incidents. For example, I may watch for the perfect conditions while making an effort to avoid troublesome weather; others, who are hungry for every session won't. You may advocate unhooked launch, but those who ditched chicken loop (like me) won't follow.

We usually don't hear about near misses, so I wonder: 2 years or so from the safety net installation, what is its success track; any "thank you, Tony" from this forum readers?
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