05 April 2011

Bike-commute day 11—to work
How not to smooth auto-bike traffic

The rains stopped last evening, and the roads were dry in the morning. But as I crossed the Monument Street bridge, shielding my eyes from the bright sunshine, I saw the river was overflowing to the bikeway. Since I was on my Lotus fixed-gear, taking the gravel concourse above the river was out of the question, and I took the sidewalk—slowly, careful of two pedestrians and one with a vacuum cleaner in tow—against the flow of traffic in the street. At the ziz-zag down near the Green Bridge, I saw that the Mad River was living up to its name: an even higher and stronger flow was coursing into the Miami, and the bikeway was flooded at least to the railroad trestle near Valley Street.

So I took Monument Avenue through the light manufacturing area.

One pickup driver did everything possible to thwart his easy entrance to Monument from a service yard. As I rode along Monument going east, a pickup driver pulled to the street from a Rumpke service yard, stopped, looked both ways, apparently saw me, and released his brakes enough to coast an additional 3 feet. I interpreted his coasting as impatience and potentially a sign that he had not seen me approaching. I slowed a lot, expecting him to pull into the street. He stopped again. It was clear he had seen me, and he had just anticipated moving into the street prematurely. His impatience (my inference here) resulted in a few more seconds of stopping before his turn onto Monument, and (I infer again) increased what impatience he already felt.

Bikeway crossing (magenta) at Airway Rd, Riverside OH
Then another pair of drivers exhibited their at-any-cost ownership of the road at the bikeway crossing at Airway. This crossing is well marked with pedestrian slashes embossed on the street, auto signs posted for the approaching two lanes of autos from each direction, in-path signage for the approaching bikeway users, and a pedestrian island placed to allow a pause in the crossing. As I approached the crossing from the north (top of image), the street was clear of traffic from the east, and two vehicles approached from as far away as Linh's Restaurant. —At about the location of the green car in the image.— I crossed the two westbound lanes, and saw neither of the two roadway users were slowing. So I stopped at the island. The near driver, of a pickup marked Extermital, sneered and flipped me off. Do I infer again some attitude of impatience—or dominance—from this driver?

No ego from me (for once) feels offence. No shift in mood. And my mood was heightened not more than a couple miles down the bikeway, at the corner of the DPL Executive Golf Course. My happy whistling startled three beautiful, strong deer who looked up from their grazing beside the bikeway. They glanced at each other, then scattered into the trees that line the bikeway. Four more deer inside the DPL compound galloped in the opposite direction toward the tree-lined creek.

At Woodbine, I saw Two-dog-Jason approaching the crossing from the south. Since I had to stop for a car, my crossing was slow. I introduced myself and Two-dog-Jason told me his name: Pat. It's been at least three years that we've seen each other on the bikeway during my morning commute. Finally there are real names for us to add to our hellos.

Central Park, New York City
In New York City's Central Park another controversy is developing. In the hardcopy version, the article was titled "Neither Pedestrian Nor Auto." (It is otherwise titled in the online edition.) But the summarized assertion of the original title exhibits a basic misunderstanding of the position of the bicycle in the mix of transportation. Absolutely the bicycle is a vehicle. The cyclist is also a pedestrian—when a cyclist dismounts, the transformation is then complete. But nevertheless, all—motorist, cyclist, and pedestrian—must obey posted traffic signage. At issue for cyclists using Central Park are the questions of courtesy and obeying the hierarchy of trail usage. (In trail usage, cyclists must give right-of-way to pedestrians and horses; pedestrians must give right-of-way to horses; horses must give freedom-from-road-apples to everyone.)

From the few visits I have made to Central Park, it is not the best location for bicycle training. The number of strollers who also use the streets and paths that are closed off from vehicular traffic is too large for developing power, heart strength, stamina. The park is, though, well suited for the casual, pleasant Sunday ride with the family. Begging for attention is whether any convenient location exists on Manhattan Island for cyclists to train, free from the traffic snarls, exhaust, and stop-and-start progress of the streets.

Temperature: 37°F at 07:20, 29 to 39°F at 09:15
Precipitation: none
Winds: none
Clothing: Top with 4 layers (Lycra longsleeve undershirt, skinsuit, arm warmers, poly fleece vest, Lycra-wool jacket); Bottom with 2 layer (skinsuit, quilted tights); ankle socks. Quilted gloves. (Comfortable at first, but zipping down 3 of the top layers by the time I reached Woodbine. Moderate sweating in chest & back.)
Bike: Lotus fixed-gear
Time: 0:55:00 (approx.) for 11.86 miles
Bikeway users: 3 pedestrians, 4 dogs, 7 deer

07:50—departing from home.
08:xx—passing the zig-zag up from the Mad River Bikeway.
08:xx—passing the west gate to Eastwood Park.
08:xx—passing the trestle remains at Linden.
08:45—arriving at work. (No checkpoint times available.)

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