Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rain ninja

It's raining in Denver. Has been for over 24 hours now.

Point being, it's gray and cloudy and wet outside, and visibility is low.

On the way home from driving my partner to work just now, I stopped at an intersection near my house. I had a stop sign and cross traffic did not. I looked each way twice before proceeding, and one more each way as I entered the intersection.

And as I started to clear the intersection, I saw a cyclist pass close by, right behind me, looking at me disapprovingly. I apparently had come close to cutting her off.

I am hyper-aware of cyclists, so I was surprised that I had carefully surveyed the area and had flat out, straight up not seen this one.

She was on an upright bike, probably a cruiser, wrapped up in a large black wool coat, covering herself with a gray umbrella. (If you imagine riding a bike in the rain, you'll realize that you need to hold the umbrella more or less in front of you—blocking your face and covering your head—in order to utilize it.)

No lights. Perfect ninja.

Even with her dark attire, and even hiding behind an umbrella, I might have seen her had she had lights on her bike.

Which is why my bike lights and my automobile lights are on, day and night. There's no reason to ever not have your lights on. All they do is make you more well seen. All they do is increase your chances of not getting hit.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Opposing View Points: Tinted Windows

In favor:
I love tinted windows!

I'm a big fat jerk!

Tinted window suck.

I do not like them on parked cars because I can't see if someone is in there about to open their door and flingsmash me.

I do not like them on cars in intersections because I don't know if the driver is looking at me or waving me through.

Where do I stand?
I am not a big fat jerk.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Opposing View Points: Bike Lanes

In favor:
Bike lanes are awesome.

They create a space in which the novice cyclist feels safe. It encourages cycling, and gets more people on the road.

Plus, bike lanes feel fast because you don't have to worry as much about maintaining CONSTANT VIGILANCE regarding the traffic around you.

Bike lanes infantilize a legitimate form of road transportation.

As a cyclist and equal citizen of the road, I am entitled to all the privileges of the road. I don't need to be siphoned off into a special safety lane.

Bike lanes also discourage cycling in the sense that a novice cyclist, used to the bike lane oasis, will not venture out onto new roads, and will feel discouraged from cycling if the trip cannot be made using bike lanes.

Where do I stand?
I'm in favor of them being a resource to the beginning cyclist, but am leery of cyclists becoming dependent on them.

I think bike lanes are good in that they remove an obstacle between the road and a curious cyclist; they serve the valuable function of offering a feeling of security.

I also think that as cyclists gain experience and confidence in the bike lanes, they will venture out onto other roads that don't have bike lanes. And there they will gain vehicular cycling experience.

Bike lanes are like training wheels for grown-ups.

Monday, May 9, 2011

#bikeschool recap 5/5/11

ala Rob Row's rundown, here is my recap of last week's #bikeschool, which I too missed.

  • ***Q1: In honor of Cinco de Mayo, how would you combine bikes and tacos for the ultimate best day ever? #bikeschool

    Surely I didn't just invent this: is there a taco shaped bike bell? A "Taco Bell," if you will?

    I did have a Chipotle veggie bowl on Cinco de Mayo, but only because my partner brought me her leftovers. Whatever, it counts. I had guacamole. Cinco de Mayo: observed.

  • ***Q2: It's National Bike Month in the USA, are you doing anything special to acknowledge it this year? ***** #bikeschool

    Denver observes Bike Month is June. But I look forward to hearing about everybody else's adventures during May and then having my own in June!

    One thing I'm doing right now to get pumped and to get other people interested is cleaning up the bike parking locker where I work.

    More on that later.

  • ***Q3: If you could be any other bike rider/cyclist for a day, who would it be, and why? ***** #bikeschool

    I'm picturing somebody in board shorts, cruising down to the beach with a six pack in tow.

    I'd be that dude.

  • ***Q4: Who has a cycling-related tattoo? Gold star to those who post a photo. ***** #bikeschool

    I don't have any tattoos.

    I'd like to see somebody get a "Share the road" tramp stamp. How funny would it be to see that peeking out of a cyclist's shorts on the road?

  • ***Q5: When you pass another cyclist on the road, do you nod, wave, shout? What do you do? *****#bikeschool

    I smile, nod, and say hello, and try to make the road a friendlier place.

    If we're stopped at a light together, I often try to strike up some kind of conversation.

    If I'm passing somebody, I shout a warning; I don't have a bell.

    I often chastise people for passing me closely without giving a warning. It can be startling!

Opposing View Points: Helmets

In favor:
Helmets save lives. Plain and simple.

It's like a seat belt. Just wear it, and if something unfortunate happens, you'll be more likely to survive it.

How is there even an argument against wearing helmets?

Your Magic Styrofoam Hat isn't going to save your life if you get hit by a car. What is going to save your life are your riding skills, and awareness of your surroundings.

All of which begs the question of the inherent dangerous nature of bicycling. Cycling is not dangerous. Things like mandatory helmet laws and Bike Safety Month are turn people away from cycling by suggesting that cycling is so dangerous that it requires special equipment and month long awareness campaigns.

Where do I stand?
Somewhere in between. I don't think helmets are Magic Styrofoam Hats. And I wear one 99% of the time. But there are occasions when I want to go for a ride and feel the wind in my hair because it feels good.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dangers of not taking the lane

Totally got buzzed by a car today. It was partially my fault because I was being a gutter-hugger by riding too close to the curb instead of asserting myself into the lane.

I knew better, too. It was on a road where I know I have to take the full lane, or I'll be passed way too closely.

I guess I was just day dreaming or something.

That inches-away car sure did bring me back to reality though!
I did the thing I usually do when I get buzzed. I shouted "TOO CLOSE!" and shook my head disapprovingly.

That'll learn 'em!

I still have yet to perfect what I think is an awesome response to stuff like that: the emphatic Thumbs Down. Compared to the Bird it is less inciting and more shaming.

And truth be told, that's exactly what I'm looking to levy upon people who are driving inconsiderately or recklessly or carelessly near me. I don't want to instigate a confrontation. I want to shame and haze the driver so they're aware of their actions.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sounds of the road

Here are some sounds I recognize while on the road.
  • There is a car behind me and—
    1. it is far away and going slow.
    2. it is going way too fast.
    3. it is nearby, about to pass me, and is way too close to me.
    4. it is behind me but isn't making an effort to pass me.
  • The car that was behind me just turned onto to side street.
  • There is a bike behind me and it needs some chain lube!
  • Somebody just honked at me I am about to die. (Seriously, there is no "friendly honk." It's always "I am about to die.")

I glance over my shoulder to get a visual of what's behind me every once in a while, but I rely a lot on my ears while riding.

Wind, snow, and rain make riding especially difficult for me because they limit my hearing.

Just so you know, Denver, it is illegal to ride with headphones on! I met a guy last week who received that ticket.

It's not a bike law, but it's a vehicle law.

And so is wearing your seat belt, so. BE AWARE.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The oblivious masses

It's spring time and it's nice outside and there are a lot more people on the multi-use trails.

One type of trail-user who emerges in the spring but isn't present in the winter is the trail-user who is totally plugged in: both earbuds in, volume cranked, and totally oblivious to everything going on around them.

I'm having to yell "ON YOUR LEFT" louder and louder to penetrate their cone of silence.

Might need to get a bell.

Fog horn.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shine a light on the problem

I arrived at work this morning after a very pleasant 6.5 mile commute to find our IT guys on site working on the new computers.

This work apparently involved having to go down into the crawlspace to run cables.

One of our technicians asked, naturally, for a flashlight so they could work down there.

Now, we do have a flashlight. Somewhere. But I'll be darned if we could find it!

After several futile moments of searching, I got a bright idea and grabbed the two Cat Eyes off the front of my bike—yes, I have two headlights. Two tail lights too!—turned them on steady and handed them off.

Not that much later, the work was complete, and two different technicians returned each light, each of them holding it out in front of them confusedly and asking, "How do you turn this thing off?"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quick Tip: Removing your tire

Quick tip!

If you need to remove your tire, you can use the lever from your quick release skewer.

(Unverified! Word of mouth knowledge from a commuting class I went to last week.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

National Bike Month vs Denver Bike Month

What's up, bnerds! It's May!

(I just made up the word 'bnerd.' It means bike nerd.)

For most of the nation, May is National Bike Month. Denver however opts-out in May and celebrates Bike Month in June.

There is a reason for that, and there is a bittersweet consequence of that.

The reason is that May is Denver's most precipitous month. Most of it is rain but some of it is snow. Other places are colder, and probably snowier. But that's the reason. Other snowy/cold places act in like. The Wisconsin Bike Fed, for example, promotes Bike To Work Week in early June.

The consequence of not being in sync with the majority of the rest of the nation is that you get to spend a month keeping up with blogs, photos, tweets and more from all over the states as people are biking, going to events, getting together for rides, and generally having an awesome time. It can feel like you're missing out. But you also get to spend a month getting pumped about your local Bike Month seeing how much fun everybody is having! You really start anticipating and looking forward to your own local events.

And you can totally still participate remotely in May events. You can bike to work May 22nd AND June 22nd, you know.

It's really like having whole nother bike month!