Of communication and bike lanes….

This morning’s ride just about wore me out!  In reality, it was probably different expectations between Pam and me.  I went out hitting it hard.  Pam didn’t wake up until we turned around at the half-way point.  Some days are like that on a tandem!

That’s one of the interesting things about riding the tandem.  It’s all about communication between the captain and the stoker.  If you can’t/don’t communicate you might as well hang it up because riding the big bike isn’t going to be very much fun.  Usually Pam and I are so in tune with each other that I can pretty much take for granted that she knows what I’m doing and will react accordingly.  She can read my pedals to know when I need her to soft-pedal for a shift, and if I stand to pedal, she pops up instantly without skipping a beat.  In addition to being a strong rider, she’s really good, and that makes it easy for me as a captain.  This morning, however, I failed to figure out that she was just pedaling at a steady state for the first 10 miles instead of pushing hard.  Had I figured that out, I would have had an easier time of it!

We still ended up with an average speed of 17.0 mph this morning.  I’m pleased with anything at 17.0 and above, so we did well.

I got honked at last night on one of my least favorite sections of road.  Central Street is home to a high school and two colleges, and it’s one of the areas in town where the city has tried to lay out a cycling infrastructure.  In my opinion, however, it stinks.  (And I happen to highly value my opinions….)

Here’s the problem in a nutshell.  Can you spot it?

07-07-2009 041

This is the second of three islands that have been added in the three blocks between my office and OTC.  I’m standing on the painted bike lane marker at the point where the marked bike lane ends.  You can see how the traffic pattern encroaches into the space where cyclists would be riding.  It’s downright scary to have a car try and pass you right there. 

07-07-2009 040

The picture above is looking down the hill towards OTC at the third island.  You can see again how the traffic pattern brings vehicles into the bike lane at this point again.  This one is complicated by the fact that just after the driveway at the crosswalk there is on-street parking for the college.  The bike lane actually swerves to the left at that point, so if you have a car coming up behind you through that narrow spot at the island, you will actually have to swerve in front of him to avoid the door zone.

For my safety, I make it a point to ride that white line of the bike lane.  If I don’t, people won’t give me any room as they pass.  I’m not sure why…I guess they think I’m safely out of their way.  When I’m on the white line, they will go wide around me.  The only problem with that is where the traffic lane is constricted by the stupid islands that have been installed in the middle of the street.  By asserting myself into the traffic lane at these constrictions, I occasionally slow some cars down.  That happened last night and some dufus honked at me.

At first, I got aggravated at the guy in the car, but then realized he probably isn’t the source of the problem (well, actually, he is…) but that those islands are the real problem.  I realize they probably add some value in terms of pedestrian safety, but the city fell short by not marking this entire street with sharrows when they added the islands.

God bless…

TW

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One Comment on “Of communication and bike lanes….”


  1. [...] biking newbie asks how to become a little better at climbing. Missouri’s Tracy Wilkins discovers traffic calming islands that force bikes and cars a little too close for comfort. MTB Law Girl lives up to her name, [...]


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