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The Summer, So Far

Posted by @teeheehee on 4th August 2011

I haven’t been logging my activities much lately, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been much to write about. Here’s an account of my doings for this summer so far.

There was the Bikes Not Bombs ride in June, delayed to its rain date. I struggled a bit on this 65+ miler, not having trained enough and starting too aggressively, but I rallied and pulled off a clean finish.

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I have been making trips out to Concord on my fixed gear bike, usually stopping by the overlook at Hanscom on the return trip. I spotted some wild turkeys on the Minuteman one of the times I went out.

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More recently I attended the unveiling of the new bike sharing program in Boston, the Hubway. I got a little sunburned on the inaugural ride where I joined other volunteers in populating the stations with the first fleet of bikes, and later that day used the system to get from my office in Allston to Government Center where I had left my bike, managing the trip in roughly half an hour, obeying traffic rules (it was slow going as the bikes aren’t built for speed).

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I am currently on vacation visiting my folks in northern NY, and my sister is here as well on break from her job teaching English in South Korea. No bike means no rides, and that’s a shame because the area has a lot to offer for scenery.

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There’s still tons to do, summer isn’t over yet!

Posted in bike friendly, ride, traffic | No Comments »

Chicago Bicycle Program Presents: Share the Road – Buses and Bicycles

Posted by @teeheehee on 18th March 2010

Take the twelve minutes and watch this video put out by the Chicago Bicycle Program geared towards their city’s bus drivers and cyclists.

Share the Road – Buses and Bicycles from Chicago Bicycle Program on Vimeo.

Via: Treehugger.

A couple of questions:

  • I don’t know any riders from the area, are the public transportation buses as accommodating as they appear to be in the video – can anyone share their experience?
  • Is the video effective – have you spotted something you didn’t know before that now makes you feel more understanding towards your fellow bus driver or cyclist counterpart?
  • Does the city of Boston and/or MBTA have any equivalent bicycle educational videos for their staff? If not, should they?

Posted in bike friendly, film, safety, traffic | 2 Comments »

Google Maps Biking Directions

Posted by @teeheehee on 10th March 2010

Thank you, thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou! (Also, thank you to the League of American Bicyclists for dropping the e-mail with the news.)

http://maps.google.com/biking

Color-coded differentiation between dedicated bike paths, easy-biking streets, and user-submitted preferred streets. Getting directions will plot a route that may avoid hills, and can offer alternative routes or click-drag modifications to the route. Minty!

Of course, I’m also proud that Boston took some initiative in the last two years to publish their own map, but c’mon this is Google Maps!

Posted in bike friendly, ride, safety, traffic | 1 Comment »

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 »

Road Design: Boston.com op-ed, MassBike response

Posted by @teeheehee on 19th August 2009

You, my few readers, may recall the recent Boston.com article on Boston’s unruly riders, or the op-ed that left a particular vomit-taste in any cyclist’s mouth. Finally we may have something sane to consider and discuss: roads are designed to kill (which is another op-ed.) Excerpt:

I took a photograph of the scene where I had found the runner. When I showed this picture to friends from Sweden they asked, “This is where you live? This is your neighborhood? Your streets are designed to kill people.’’ They said that the thin painted white lines at the intersection could not be seen at dawn, nor was there a raised bump to or a narrowing of the road to demarcate the intersection and slow down traffic. They said the speed limit should be 30 kilometers per hour (about 18.6 miles per hour) or less if we wanted pedestrians to have much of a chance of surviving. They also said traffic lights increased the number of deaths because people often speed up when the light turns yellow.

 

When Sweden removed red lights from intersections and replaced them with traffic circles or rotaries, death rates at these intersections fell by 80 to 90 percent.

This is the closest article I’ve yet seen that seems in line with Liveable Streets: the engineering is directly related to the use of the system. The usual discussion page is also available.

In addition to this op-ed there is a letter in response to the Unruly riders article as written by MassBike. (Here is the discussion page.) Concluding excerpt:

By all means, let us build better roads, which lead people into safer behavior by design. But each of us can help make everyone safer now, today, by more often following the rules of the road whether driving, bicycling, or walking.

We need more of this!

Posted in news media, traffic | No Comments »

Boston Bike Sharing

Posted by @teeheehee on 29th July 2009

There’s an article today on Boston.com introducing a bike sharing proposal. (There’s also a sweet video with Nicole Freedman performing a small track stand in rainy conditions while waiting in traffic.)

From the article:

Over the next few weeks, officials expect to name the company with which they would negotiate a contract on how to run the system. They hope the program will lead to tens of thousands of people saddling up in Boston daily.

Bike sharing is the next step. The city envisions making available between 1,000 and 3,000 bikes at stations 300 or 400 yards apart, located at subway and bus stops, main squares, tourist sites, and across city neighborhoods.

This makes me wonder, would I ride my bike around as much if there were publicly accessible ones available? I guess we’ll have to wait and see, either way I’ll be very happy that a program like this will be made available.

Posted in bike friendly, news media, personal view, traffic | No Comments »

Boston.com pothole map, leave your mark!

Posted by @teeheehee on 30th January 2009

Boston.com has an interactive map up right now that you can use to view noted potholes in the Boston area. You can submit your own doozies as well.

Remember, ride safely everyone! Keep an extra buffer around you if you can: with increased numbers of potholes comes more unexpected swerving from clunky cars and conscientious cyclists. (Ahh, who’m I kidding – most of you know this already, amiright?!)

Posted in safety, traffic | No Comments »

Bicyclist stops car that hit a pedestrian – who was driving?

Posted by @teeheehee on 23rd July 2008

Looks like somebody in D.C. hit a pedestrian while driving and took off. A nearby bicycle commuter witnessed and obliged himself to catch up and halt the offending car and stopped them. As it turns out, the driver was Bob Novak.

A quote Mr. Novak made previous to this incident:

Novak explained to the paper: “He was crossing on the red light. I really hate jaywalkers. I despise them. Since I don’t run the country, all I can do is yell at ’em. The other option is to run ’em over, but as a compassionate conservative, I would never do that.”

Thank you David Bono for being an upstanding citizen and model cyclist in our country’s most political city.

Update 20080729

Bob Novak is in a Boston hospital after recently falling ill on Cape Cod and being diagnosed with having a brain tumor.

Posted in bike friendly, news media, safety, traffic | 1 Comment »

Slate V Video About a Stupid Bike Lane

Posted by @teeheehee on 29th March 2008

Do we have any bike lanes as short as this one? Found via Digg.

Posted in news media, rant, safety, traffic | No Comments »

Red Light Go

Posted by @teeheehee on 20th February 2008

Last night I watched the documentary “Red Light Go,” which highlights a few NYC bike messengers and Alleycat races.

Red Light Go

Netflix link

My riding habits haven’t guided me full-on into many of the different bike subcultures like SCUL or messengering, so I don’t know much about what goes on within them. Much of what I have learned I have picked up from discrete observation or small conversation. Every club has their own rules, their own lingo, styles and presence. To learn more you generally need to be ‘in’. So I enjoyed the peek into part of one of these cultures that I know little about.

What I found great was some filling-in of informational gaps I’ve had. Some may scoff, but I only heard about Allycat races about two weeks ago. Before watching this documentary I thought the cards tacked in to the wheel spokes I see from time to time were just stylistic flair, not racing badges. I’ll have a closer look next time I see one, as my curiosity has been piqued.

This wouldn’t be a film I’d sit down with a budding young mind, it has adult themes beyond the occasional scenes of street riding in auto and pedestrian traffic. It’s a documentary, so it’s a catalog of a small piece of life with a lot of the child-filters removed. Partying, drinking, plenty of drug references, even some glorification of fighting. Nothing the average R-rated film wouldn’t have. I’d recommend it to most people I know.

Posted in film, personal view, traffic | No Comments »