Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday Thoughts.

I thought about it yesterday, I think I've written about it before, and I talked with a friend last night who had read some of the crap that I've written here. I thought about it again this morning on my ride in. Why Blog? For me, it's like a public journal. A construction of a system of public accountability. And, to a smaller degree, I think that it lends an amount of credibility. I've been trying to quietly and slowly get a little more involved at least in the local level with bicycle advocacy. Having something to "show" for day in/day out cycling activities.

I did some interesting reading yesterday and stumbled upon the following article that someone wrote:

Maybe it is just me, but the information in that article sounds kinda whiny. I see reference and hear a lot about a network this and that. We already have LOTS of roads. Go use 'em. Get yourself a map, get out there and ride. To me, sitting back and complaining because there is not some magic route painted on the street to direct you to grandma Ethel's house doesn't mean you cannot ride your bike.

Like I mentioned a bit before, I'm trying to get involved a little at the local level doing what I can to promote cycling, safe routes to school, etc. One criticism that I received was this big long "attack" against me as if I were asking for special funding for construction of bike lanes and the like. Nope, not asking for money. Maybe I am in the case of our kids' school for a bike rack and a pathway to get to the building?

Sure, there are places that are "difficult" to overcome by bike. But, to hang up the bike, sit back and pout about "gaps" seems to be just an excuse.

For coming up (very soon) on 10 years, I've been riding to and from work. Prior to this job, I rode to my last job, and the job before that, and the job before that. I've never really had any special provisions for bike parking, no showers, no real secure place to park my bike (I now sneak up the freight elevator from the loading dock in the basement.) The best provisions (I had a shower) and probably worst commute for cycling that I've ever had were when I worked for UPS in Omaha. I had a 12 mile commute (each way) and I worked second shift. I'd leave my house at 8PM in time to arrive at UPS by 10. I'd work until 2 or 3am and head home. This was the commute: Of course, depending... I had a variety of derivatives to get to the same place.

For the first several years at my current job, I rode right down Broadway in North Minneapolis. It wasn't a great route, but did offer some very interesting scenery. It took me a while and some un-time-constrained afternoons of exploring, but I eventually found better routes. I rode Plymouth Avenue way before it ever got striped for a bike lane. It was a good route before, and it's no better now that the city put a bunch of spray paint on the street. I don't notice any more people now riding, I don't get any more room from cars. Today is really no different than it was 7 years ago.

From the perspective of the city; I look at the money spent constructing signs and painting the roadway and say: "for what?"

What do some people want in terms of network?

Get out there with your damn bike and ride. Pick up a map from Little Transport Press Explore... there's lots of streets. There are ways to get virtually anywhere in the Twin Cities by bike. If in doubt, ask. Post a comment, I'll try to help. Or, there are resources such as the route planning link in the Minneapolis Bike Love Forum: Create a user, log in, post a question. Cyclists seem to love to share their routes. This will be the key to a succesful network of cycling... a network of people.

I'm full of rambling thoughts this morning. I've seen how some people post daily mileage, month, and year to date figures. I was thinking about that. I used to keep a calendar at my desk that had a big "X" for the days that I rode. My calendars were filled with lots of X's. The statistics would be fun, but I don't really care about the data gathering part. Let's just say that I rode at least 40 yesterday. I rode again today, that will put me at lots of miles for today it will be at least 36, but I plan a long ride home and who knows where I will go?


this verdant country said...

They're doing construction on 50th St just 4 blocks north of HC. Leading up to the construction last winter and spring, I received lots of email that various meetings were being held, and that I should attend and be vocal if I wanted provisions made for bicycles on the reconstructed version of that street. I found that idea rather silly. That street is already a decent cycling route, which is an easy ride with or without bike lane striping. I'm glad that there is some political will to incorporate bike infrastructure here and there, but I agree with you that it is by and large unnecessary in our fair city. That said, there are some places that are very difficult to reach by bicycle. I don';t go to those places very often, and I don't miss them that much.

A Midnight Rider said...

I tried to stop blogging, but I can't. People don't know what it's like to be like us.

I also keep a milage record. I am faithfull keeping track, but I can't remember ever looking at past entries. But I can't stop. What to do? What to do? 8>)

Apertome said...

I don't know about other places, but here (Bloomington, Indiana), we have a few places that have bike lanes. Those always seem to be the most dangerous places to ride. Motorists assume that bikes "should" ride in the bike lanes, and get pissed off if I leave the bike lane for any reason.

Bike lanes seem to make novices feel more comfortable cycling, but for people who know what they're doing, they can be a real problem. Although I submit that they're a problem for novices, too, only the novices don't realize it.

Reflector Collector said...

I hadn't even given the whole "separate but equal" side of the argument any thought. I agree that sometimes asking for special provisions begs for confrontation when faced with the situation where there is a bike path parallel to a road.

I too avoid bike paths and designated routes unless they are the only option. Generally, I think off-street pathways are a nightmare to navigate by bike.

We fight for equal access to the roads, then beg for special accommodations? Just another flavor of the old: "why don't your ride on the sidewalk" yelled out the window. Hmmm... something to think about on my ride home.

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