Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blogspot eated my posts

Let's see if anyone notices...

...and they're back.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Weird Dream

Last night I dreamt that I was in a big room with swirling lights and there were tall dancers, a stumbling ballerina and Dutch girls with plastic hair were dancing with fish bowls. A 50's housewife with a Hula Hoop took off her clothes and gorilla was walking around and someone was singing opera. During all of this, there was this crazy fast "ooonka-ooonka-ooonka" music played by a big band and every member was wearing a strange hat...

Wait, that wasn't a dream at all. That was last night's show at the Cedar Cultural Center with The Brass Messengers.

I walzed with a woman on stilts. I can check that one off the list of things to do before I die...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Scribbler's Circle entry #2

ghettoisation of riders:

for the mtb'ers trail centres, the perfect answer to all weather all year riding or the macdonalds of off roading?

for our road/commuters:

dedicated bike lanes protecting you from cagers or traeting cyclist as 2nd class road users?

I'm not a MTB'er (though I hope to pick it up this summer -- just gotta get a bike [that should thrill the Mrs.]), so I can't speak to the bit about trail centres. But I have all sorts of thoughts about about bike lanes, yes I indeedely-do. Most of them bad...

I commute year round (mostly) by bike and there are millions of miles of bike paths, you just call them something different in your tongue: city streets. I'm pretty happy to take the street a block or two off of the main street -- less traffic, less hatred and you usually stumble upon something you'd never seen before. These benefits aside, trails are nice if you are converting old rail beds to make areas more accessible (like the Munger Trail here in Minnesota), but shunting me off to the side is something up with which I will not put!

Cagers need to see bikers on the road. Bikers need to see bikers on the road. Potential bikers really need to see bikers on the road. The idea the cars are the only things allowed on the streets is something that has to be put to a quick death and as politely and painlessly as possible. Drivers will have to become aware that they are not the sole users of this infrastructure, planners will need to become more aware of this also. But allow me stress what I believe most strongly; bicyclists need to understand this more than anyone.

Allowing ourselves to be shuffled to paths that lead nowhere, travel in unnecessarily meandering directions and separated from the traffic at large seem to me to enforce the idea that a bicycle is not a mode of transportation, not a useful member of the infrastructure, but a toy, a weekend conveyance to be used only on the nicest of days and to get a fresh air and some exercise when you have a little time to kill. This thinking is wrong and if this idea is to be put down, integrating traffic must be done.

Obviously, drivers need to be aware of bikers, but bikers need to become more aware of cars and to get your "combat riding" skills sharpened -- taking the lane, following the traffic direction (lights, signs, etc.) when with other vehicles, crossing the street when it's your turn and so on. If you are shuffled off to some crumbling strip of ancient asphalt and expected to be out of sight, you will also be out of mind and that is the opposite of safety.

I'm not against safe areas at intersections, areas the alert drivers to the presence of bikers and give bikers some shelter from the dreaded "right hook," but I do not believe that a stand-alone strip of tar away from driver and intersections helps anyone. A driver at an intersection is busy enough trying to just keep all vehicles in all directions at that specific crossing in view and another intersection, typically poorly marked is just 5 meters away where bikers are supposed to be. After making a turn, drivers are just not going to continue to keep looking in the direction they with to turn in order to see yet another intersection.

I believe that the comingling of various types of traffic is good -- it keeps people (generally) paying more attention, moving more slowly and carefully and it helps make everyone more honest about following traffic direction from lights, signs and road paint. There is no room nor money to create another completely separate infrastructure for bikes, another for walkers and possibly a third for trains/trolleys in most cities. Mutual respect and acknowledgement is the only way that we can safely travel together on streets in an urban environment.

This is not to say that I don't believe that there shouldn't be trails, no, far from that. I would love to see an eventual linking of old rail beds into a bike trail system that crosses the country, a way that bikers can travel from coast to coast, Canada to Mexico. But this is different from regular road traffic as is pretty obvious.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Scribbler's Circle entry #1

Solo rides - roll out with your buddies or destroy those miles alone....

[Big Al, aka Fatlad, has collected a scruffy group of cyclist/bloggers that will post something about a topic he alone dreamed up for that week. The following is my poo flung onto blogspot.com's wall.]

As a commuter, I typically ride alone unless I'm lucky enough to find someone going the same direction or I may ride home with a co-worker, but generally solo rides during the day. I'll head out the Mrs. for errands or a ride after work, but the majority of time on my bike is spent alone. I'm not really keen on riding alone and I don't look to ride that way on purpose, but that is usually how it goes.

Riding alone does have its benefits: time to uncompress or wake up or contemplate or empty your mind and just be. On my rides to work, I just want to slap the fuzzies out of my head and have some blood moving by the time I really need my brain. From work, I just need to digest the day or not think about it or get away. Times when conversation, listening or talking, is too taxing and uncomfortable. Time inside your own head is time well spent and those that are unable to be there comfortably don't make for very good bikers.

Riding with someone else makes the miles pass much more pleasantly. You can push and be pushed, if that's the sort of group you're with. You can lazily spin and chat or just enjoy the company and enjoy shared moments and views. Me Darlin' Mrs and I rode a long trip last year and that was exactly how we spent it. Touring by bike is one of the finest pleasures I've known and I like to have someone there to share the scenery, a laugh, a beer or the sheer joy of quiet interrupted only by the whir of the chain and your tires on the road.

Fat Lad perhaps posed this as an OR type of question, but I like to think of it as more of an AND. Biking is best done alone AND with others.

Biking is best done.


Rusty chain still spins

Ground down studs grip icy streets

Winter biking joy