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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Three things:
1. Snork! So a faculty member comes in to ask me a route question... to wit: was that tunnel in the Kauffman bike path as scary as it looked? Welp, my computer is right here... let me demonstrate... yup, it is. Here she was, a live human saying "the sign said bikeway, so I thought it would be good..." and yes, she found the graffiti and the question "who's on the other *side* of the tunnel?" a bit daunting, too. She took Country Fair... but I will show her the non-tunnel option where you have to know to cut through the school and sneak through the back fence.

2. Aspiring commuters often wonder "how can you be so brave?" about traffic.
Driving and riding are both things that take experience and practice; it's a series of very fast processes where we anticipate actions and trajectories and speeds. Just as they taught me in driver's ed to scan and anticipate, I can do the same thing as a cyclist; some of the specific scans are a little different, but the principle is the same, and it simply doesn't happen overnight. An example:
I was going back from Parkland at 10:00 p.m. ... dark :-) ... I noticed a truck in the parking lot to my right. Hmmm... he'll prob'ly come out here, prob'ly bound for the INterstate... there's a RR between here and there that will slow him a little more... I went out another foot in myh lane, told my HI-Viz camelbak and my two bright blinkies to be vibrant, and sped up. Where the road split to the right turn lane, I went out into the middle lane.
The truck came out, slowed for the RR tracks (but not much; sounded empty), and then simply hung back until its right turn to the INterstate Access Road.
I reflected that I could have slowed down and hunkered over... and in that "instant trajectory processing," that driver would have been far more likely to go around me and then turn right - and even if it weren't a close call it would have been uncomfortable - exactly the kind of situation that makes somebody say "You're so brave do do that!"
It's not a bout trying to play chicken with a truck. Had the driver been more assertive, a little faster, any of a number of signs that he wasn't quite paying attention... I'd have been over to the right like a little flea and given him all the room in the world, well before things were even close... and it still would have been a relative non-event.
(To all you folks in *real* cities: it's a totally different story. I'd have been trying to figure out that truck and the fifteen cars in my immediate presence, in the dark... an entirely different concept!)

Three: ... I can't remember... maybe this: Went to Za's and had to park the bike unlocked while we had our meeting, which meant watching it closely, and realizing that (at least in this town) that thing really attracts attention. Goal: update so that it's a good resource for potential riders or people with questions... and then put *somewhere* visible on the bike.

In "real" cities, the traffic tends to be much slower than in C-U. The flip side of the coin is that there's a lot more to distract the driver from noticing you, especially in the dark. On the other hand, bicycle traffic is more "dense" or more prevalent, so the motorists are actually looking for cyclists off on the side of the road (for the most part).

This is somewhat typical of what I encounter in California. You'll see that traffic is at a standstill, which is perfect for bikers like us.
Good point... but I'm guessing that at 10:00 p.m. it might not be back to back... just thick and congested and faster (that's the way it is in the D.C. area).
I remember doing the beltway ... with my bike in the car... it took an act of will not to abandon it and get on the bike. That was years ago - I'm not sure I'd have the will power now!
Here's one I took from my bike at night. But still not quite 10 p.m.

I *love* late night riding -- like midnight or after as long as I'm well lit. The air is cool, traffic is almost non-existent, though it is fast as you note. The last time I was hit by a car was at night when the driver ran a stop sign in a residential area, but this was in 1987 or 88.

Sounds like you've been around about as much as I -- I first got serious about cycling in Fairfax VA in 1982.
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