Sucking it up

I don’t do heat well, so after surviving mid-90 degree bike commutes last Wednesday and Thursday, I wimped out and took the bus on Friday.  You can imagine my dismay Sunday night as I looked at the weather forecast for this week: 100 million degrees every day (and humid, don’t forget about that).

I like my bike commute because it means that I don’t have to think about fitting in exercise at some other point during the day.  And ever since I dropped my YMCA membership, biking is my main form of physical activity.  So, despite my total lack of excitement about the scorching heat, I was back on the bike this morning.  If I allow the heat to stop me, it looks like I would be biking again, in approximately . . . never.

One day down, four to go (or about 100 if you count the rest of the summer).


Can you hear me screaming through the computer?  It just might be possible.  I am far past the point of writing little poems about this situation.  I have moved on to writing irate emails to anyone and everyone possibly involved in the idiocy and incompetence that is the  new pedestrian/bicyclist underpass new mud swamp to the park.

I am tired of cyclists and pedestrians getting the shaft while priority is given to motorists.  Why do I have to ride my bike through a swamp on my way to work?

Oh, because, “The construction activity near the tunnel is not yet complete. The tunnel was opened for use, so that the former tunnel could be closed and roadway construction could continue on schedule.  There will be substantial improvements around the tunnel entrance areas as construction continues.”

Oh, good!  I have no safe, convenient alternative to the mud swamp for my daily commute, but roadway construction, that will continue on schedule.

The only way to appease my wrath, in addition to correcting this deplorable situation in a very timely manner, would be for someone involved in the planning of this project to come and lick, yes lick, the mud off of my bike.  Any takers?

Ode to Incompetence

Sometimes my creative genius emerges while I’m riding my bike, as happened a few days ago when I composed this in my head:

[To be recited in a sing-song voice.]

Erosion, erosion, erosion.
That is what you get
When you are an idiot
And you build things like shit.

I dedicate this piece of work to the brilliant minds who planned and engineered the new pedestrian and bicyclist underpass in my city in such a way to guarantee that an entire 6-foot long portion of the path on one side of the underpass will be a giant mud puddle any time that it rains.  These geniuses also failed to include any ACTUAL USERS of the underpass (i.e., pedestrians and bicyclists) in the planning process.

Bad Bikerz

The subject of bikers and traffic laws resurfaced recently  on an on-line neighborhood group to which I belong.  It was part of a larger discussion on how we can redesign streets to accommodate all users (pedestrians, bikers, and drivers), and the complaint against bikers was failure to obey stop signs.

I am absolutely one of those bikers.  I feel it is best to come clean with my lawless ways, as they may inform future posts.  And while I acknowledge that I am in fact breaking the law, I consider it quite justified, and, as my biker husband pointed out, our exercise in civil disobedience (ha, no pun intended).

Stop signs, like most other traffic control devices and traffic laws, are intended to control automobiles, which can move fast and cause a lot of damage due to their size.  Stop signs are typically found in residential and business areas, where speed limits are 20-25 MPH, and they function to slow cars down.  Most recreational and commuter bikers, on the other hand, would maybe reach 25 MPH on a good downhill with a tailwind.  At average bike speeds of, say 10-15 MPH, there is a lot more reaction time and no need to come to a stop EVERY BLOCK to keep speed under control, since we are not exceeding the speed limit in the first place.

My stop sign flouting is not done without caution.  This is another area where bikes are very different from cars.  On my bike, I am higher up and farther forward in relation to the intersection as compared to a car driver.  Combine that with the fact that my hearing is not obscured by a layer of metal and glass (plus whatever other noise distractions are present inside a car), and I have a better sense of what’s going on when I approach an intersection than most drivers.  If it’s an empty 4-way stop, or an empty 2-way that I can see clearly, I’m gone.

Stop signs are also much less of a disadvantage to automobiles, which are designed to accelerate quickly with a little tap on the gas pedal.  On the other hand, every time I have to come to a stop, I lose whatever momentum I had worked to build, and I lack that handy little gas pedal to get me back up to speed.  Although I have never timed it the slow way, I think my 5.5 mile commute, which I do in about 35 minutes, could easily take twice as long if I stopped at all of the stop signs (about 25 of them) and stop lights (that take a ridiculously long time to change, even when there is a huge break in traffic)  on the way to work.  Stopping at the stop signs does not cost cars anywhere near that amount of time.

Whatcha gonna do?