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Ceci n'est pas une vélo

Archive for the 'rant' Category

Jury duty, and an accident

Posted by @teeheehee on 6th April 2010

Day five of April.

Today I went to the court house to answer the call of duty. Jury duty. The weather was nice and clear, with a slight breeze, the kind that feels good even as it makes you pedal a little harder to get where you’re going. It was the kind of weather that told nothing of the ominous events that would follow.

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Posted in rant, sad, safety, wtf | 3 Comments »

Thumbs Up

Posted by @teeheehee on 24th October 2009

Honestly today’s blog post is more to get me to write something because I know I have been lazy. Nothing particularly new happened, this is one of those oft-told stories of harrowing experience, conversation with a motorist, and acclaim from a nearby witness.

For starters, it was a rainy morning. Often this means I wear extra-vibrant clothes to make myself more easily visible to the armored ones I share the road with, but today I sufficed with a light-reflective courier bag and one reflective ankle-cuff. These, combined with my lights, make me relatively conspicuous.

Except if you drive a blue Honda minivan. But, we’ll get back to that after some more build-up….

This morning I went on an errand to the local RCN building (in Arlington) to drop off a couple of cable converters. It was a light rain, and the temperature wasn’t horrible, so I was mostly enjoying the ride except for the occasional red light when I would stop and my glasses would fog up. Note to self: start wearing contact lenses again until the warmer months return.

I was all done with this chore and beginning to switch to the next one (gathering my costume apparel) when I headed back towards Cambridge and Boston via Mass. Ave. For those not familiar with the area of Mass. Ave. in Arlington and Medford: it’s quite wide, but typically problematic with cracks and wrinkles all over. No problems here, though, vehicles were quite respectful this morning.

After I passed the turn towards Alewife the road feature I call the bike share “line” appeared. Cambridge has done some funky things with Mass. Ave., it seems they couldn’t quite figure out what to do to help cyclists – there’s sections with bike lanes, sharrows, and a line with intermittent bike stencils, depending on what area you’re in. The line is my least favorite, even though the area with the sharrows is practically impossible to ride within as it has quite poor road conditions.


Bike lane

Bike lane


sharrow

sharrow


Bike stencil

Bike stencil


So, it was a short time after passing the turn-off towards Alewife that I was buzzed by her. Blue Honda minivan. One occupant: driver. I quickly read the license plate and committed it to short-term memory, but before long I had quite forgotten it. (Well, it was short term memory. *shrug*)

Then the usual Mass. Ave. thing happened: I caught up within the next light or two, and passed her. This is not unusual, I stop at all the red lights but being a bike with some marked space on the road I stop right up at the light. Other areas where it’s too sketchy to do this safely I’ll hang back behind the last car in line I come up to and take the lane until the light goes “green”. But, good ol’ Mass. Ave. lets me creep up to the front almost every time.

When I caught up to her I leered over and kind of gave her “the look” as I passed her, then proceeded to wait dutifully at the light. Light went green, traffic went into motion, all the vehicles passed me with at least two feet distance (not the legal amount, but whatever,) until blue minivan comes zooming past within a few inches. Again.

Well, it was still Mass. Ave. and there were plenty of lights ahead. I caught up to her just before Harvard Square at the bus stop. I stopped, waved, and she rolled down her automatic window.

“Hi,” I said. “I just wanted to let you know that you passed me, twice, with very little space between us. Just inches.”

Now, most conversations I’ve had with drivers in similar circumstances would usually cause me to prepare for the usual response in the next moment: my life being threatened. But, it was not so! I may have found one of the nicest, albeit somewhat daft, motorist of the day! “I’d really appreciate if you’d give a little more room.” She nodded and her eyes told a whole story of unexpected shock. She said not a word.

Maybe she didn’t know that what she was doing was endangering me. She had had a couple of feet of space between her left side and the normal lane lines, but hugged the right anyways despite my presence there.

At that moment the light we were at turned green and I cut the one-sided conversation short. I said my piece, she seemed to take it in. I looked to the right at the bus stop and see a dude in bright yellow, bike balanced in one hand, giving the thumbs-up with the other, and he gave a smiling nod which I gladly returned.


Thumbs up

Thumbs up


Posted in bike friendly, rant, safety, traffic, wrong | No Comments »

Green, Yellow, Red

Posted by @teeheehee on 25th September 2009

ZAPHOD BEEBLEBROX: Er, man, like what’s your name?
MAN: I don’t know. Why, do you think I ought to have one? It seems odd to give a bundle of vague sensory perceptions a name.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Well, this particular bundle of sensory perceptions made some observations this morning:

  1. There are now wind turbines on top of a building on Western Ave next to Soldiers Field Road (parking garage, hotel?) – here. Anyone know more about these?
  2. There is a section of path along Soldiers Field Road that I call the “canopy of trees.” This stretch of the path is my favorite and it’s starting to display autumnal colors. I am preparing myself for a beautiful couple of weeks of crisper morning rides.


Half green and red apple.

Half green and red apple.


As the cold sets in the months-long progression of deciduous life transforms from the green to yellow to red, culminating into the particularly pretty “fall foliage” that is a New England spectacle. I find it amusing that the cycle is repeated in urban transportation: the green to yellow to red of traffic lights, reduced from the months required in nature to the seconds or minutes that our high-speed lifestyles demand. When Autumn hits and the foliage turns red it is as if they implore observers to halt and admire the scenery, and why should it be any different on the streets at a red light? Especially on a bicycle.

This particular bundle of sensory perceptions would like to make some other observations today.
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Bulgarians Don’t Like Peanut-butter

Posted by @teeheehee on 12th July 2009

Happy (belated) Birthday, America!

Last year I hiked some of the Presidential Mountains in New Hampshire in recognition of our Declaration of Independence . This year I joined a group for camping and hiking in the Adirondacks, and later visited my parents for a couple of days to catch the fireworks at Boldt Castle in the 1000 Islands.

When I first heard of the plans for the camping trip began I was overjoyed. I grew up in the northern foothills of the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York. This is a familiar area to me and one that I missed many opportunities while growing up and living around.

It is impossible to grow up where I did without some degree of camping; however, my family tended to stop outdoor activities there and not participate in many of the other mountain-based experiences: hiking, rafting, skiing/snowboarding, snowmobiling, hunting, or cycling.

My experiences growing up with biking there ended when I was able to start driving a car. The nearest real grocery store was 10+ miles away, as was the nearest movie theater and bowling alley. The farthest I rode a bike back then was less than 10 miles in a single trip, and it might have been to get to the baseball field for practice during those questing couple of years where I tried every sport my school had to offer. (I stuck with soccer throughout high school, but even so I have never really been much into sports.) I only biked around town – in hindsight I see that I missed an opportunity to get ridiculously strong at hill climbing.
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Boston: less horse- and bike-police units

Posted by @teeheehee on 4th March 2009

Right on the heels of yesterday’s news that Boston is looking to bring a bike sharing program to the city: Boston police could cut horse (and bike) unit(s), lay off recruits to help fill budget gap. Emphasis mine, things missing from the title.

Now, I realize this is the Commissioner’s idea where the bike share program is the city’s, but come on – this doesn’t look like a consistent message!

You’re going to need more bike units, not less, to help keep our community safe from the raging vehicularists. The best way to know the issues is to submerse yourself in them, keep the bike cops! How are you going to know what we cyclists deal with in our city travels if all of your officers are riding around in (costly) steel-reinforced cars or SUVs? And how is that saving money, again?

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Latest BU Bridge Bike Lane Plans – Comments [Updated]

Posted by @teeheehee on 10th February 2009

The latest article from Boston.com is set up as a sounding board for all road users who use the bridge.

The biased title “BU bridge plans could spur road rage” comes from the prediction of Stanley Spiegel, you’ll see the quote in the third paragraph on the page. The article itself gives fair play to both sides of the story, then opens up for discussion among the community.

So, pay a visit, maybe even make your voice heard. Don’t get into too much of a tizzy over the comments, it’s not worth raising blood pressure over, but do try to read them and keep yourself informed. This is a microcosm of the daily struggle that a lot of riders face in the Boston/Cambridge area. I found that after a certain level of detachment is reached a comical sadness can set in.

Update

A genuine-appearing comment from DCR Commissioner Rick Sullivan offers up an e-mail address targetting public response for the Accelerated Bridge Program, of which the BU Bridge reconstruction falls under, and encourages people to contact them with their comments.

I think I might leave a couple there myself. Anyone else care to voice up?

As Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), I am sensitive to the varying perspectives that surround this and other DCR bridge projects. We are extremely fortunate that Governor Patrick has made repairing the state’s bridges a high priority through his Accelerated Bridge Program, and we are working hard to balance the public’s many viewpoints and interests as we move forward on all our projects statewide. Regarding the BU Bridge, we are still trying to find the best ways to accommodate all traffic – including cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians – and I would urge anyone who would like to comment on the plans to contact the agency directly at dcr.updates [at] state.ma.us. That e-mail address has been set up specifically for feedback from the public on the Accelerated Bridge Program, so you can send your comments there for any bridge project. Also let us know if you would like to receive regular updates and notices of DCR public meetings on the agency’s bridge projects. We are doing our best to create a transparent process so that everyone’s concerns can be heard.
Rick Sullivan

The comment can be found on page 13 of the comments for the article.

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Toronto cyclist loses his leg to road rage

Posted by @teeheehee on 23rd November 2008

This is a very sad story [CityNews].
Via TreeHugger.

Road rage is an epidemic. It is pervasive and spreading.

Car culture (in it’s broadest sense, anyone who drives regularly) was innocent enough at first; it was meant to grow the economy. Society’s focus has changed and hardened, though, due to myriad reasons. This change permutes into all aspects of society. The end result is that car culture today doesn’t resemble that of yester-year’s. It’s more aggressive, hostile, and irresponsible.

(Let’s not kid ourselves, the same can be said of bicycle culture.)

Stories like this highlight the fact that people have gotten too used to getting their way and have forgotten the civil practice of brokering a compromise. People in their anger will use their cars in a fight. Cars are two-ton weapons. Human beings, being fragile in comparison, will lose in a fight with them every time.

This story’s a little old, I couldn’t find any updates to see what became of the cyclist, or the driver.

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Almost got clipped today

Posted by @teeheehee on 31st July 2008

I woke up wicked early this morning and decided with all this spare time I’d take a joy-ride down the Charles on the Storrow Drive path. I’m just about all the way back when I hit the Cambridge Street hill where the merge with I-90 traffic is.

I loathe this merge-point. Cars and trucks coming off of I-90 are used to going 75-80 MPH and they don’t want to slow down for Allston city speed limits. This morning was particularly nasty because I’m not used to riding at this time and it’s rush hour. Well, rather than try and cut over to the right in front of a line of cars (usually it’s just one or two and I wait for a gap, which doesn’t take very long) I had to stick to the middle lane.

I don’t know if the truck came from the highway or elsewhere, but after the crest he passed me with only inches to the mirror.

This is the first time in a while I’ve been in a dangerous spot like this. He had an open lane to his left, there was no more traffic a little ahead and to my right but I didn’t want to be in that lane because it’s turn-only. I was where I needed to be, not overly into the lane but left of the line by about a foot.

Well, I can’t just let that go, can I? I mean, he’s driving dangerously – I’m out here busting ass and he zooms by in an unsafe manner. At the light at the Hess I caught up and called into the truck:

“Hey, you came pretty close to me back there, guys.” There were three burly men, goatees all among them, stacked with muscles like construction workers. Seasoned construction workers. Makes sense, the truck looked like a work truck, though I didn’t catch the label on the side.

“Get off the road!” This was the driver

I replied: “I’m where I should be, thank-you-very-much!”

“Get off the road!” Still the driver. The other two say nothing.

“I’m where I need to be!”

“Get off the road!” I realize I’m not going to win his mind or heart in an argument, he’s limiting himself to simple, impulsive barking.

Whatever. I move on and take a right onto North Harvard. So does he. Masshole zooms me again shouting “Get off the road” one last time.

But I got his license plate.

Well, I have his license plate, what the hell do I do with it now? I’d like to track down the company he works for and file a complaint with them – I’m not a fan of slogging a case through the courts.

Any suggestions?

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NYC Critical Mass cyclist tackled by police

Posted by @teeheehee on 28th July 2008

Whatever your sentiments on Critical Mass are, this is just despicable.

Update: here is a little bit more information via BoingBoing. The cyclist was arrested and charged with attempted assault and resisting arrest. Wtf?!

Update 20080729

The police officer has been stripped of his badge and gun. He was just out of the Police Academy, third generation officer, and did not seem to file an accurate report of the event based on the video that was anonymously posted.

Posted in personal view, rant, safety, wrong, wtf | 1 Comment »

Back in the saddle, Community Solar System

Posted by @teeheehee on 17th July 2008

So, I went on an early-summer trip to Italy for a couple of weeks. That happened a while ago now and I haven’t written anything since before leaving.

It’s taken me a while to get back into the various rhythms, and, well, the weather’s been more or less quite good so I’ve been riding a good deal! Riding > writing.

I’m working on a ride for personal enjoyment, it will be my longest single ride to date. In the Boston area is a scaled down model of the solar system (including Pluto as a planet,) called the Community Solar System. It’s centered around the Sun at the Museum of Science and spans out to as far as Newton. The distances for all of the kiosks with the planets is scaled so that walking speed is the equivalent of light speed when factored up. It’s a really neat idea, and I like it.

So far I’ve come up with a general map, starting from Pluto and working my way back into the city. There are a few more inner-system planets I’ll hit before some outer-system ones, just to keep the ride to something more sensible.

If the ride goes well for me I’ll do it again and invite others to join, but as there are some questionable navigation legs and since I’m not very familiar with the area very much, and since I’ve never lead a ride before, I hesitate to include anyone else in my crazy schemes as of yet.

So, hopefully the weather will be excellent this weekend, because since I’ve started working on this ride I’ve lost sleep thinking about it. I can’t say why I like the idea so much, I’m just a geek I guess.

[edit] Looks like fortune was not in my favor. Saturday was in the 90’s and today is sketchy. On top of that I’ve become inflicted with a summer cold (of all things!) so I’ve been more out of commission than usual.

Posted in rant, ride | 2 Comments »