Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday Musette

Life imitates art?

A few days ago, I wrote about cyclists attempting to take over the planet in 'Pinky and the Brain' style. Apparently, there's a city councilman in Toronto who believes that to be true. Maybe he reads CycleDog and relies on it for up-to-the-minute, cutting edge information regarding the international cycling conspiracy to dominate the civilized world. Still, it's a little unnerving to think that one of my goofy paranoid fantasies would actually be repeated in reality.

Now, I'm not a fan of bike lanes because they're an attempt to solve an almost non-existent problem - getting hit from behind by a motor vehicle. I won't list their deficiencies here. That ground has been well covered in previous posts. But Councilor Ootes shows typical bias in favor of automobiles by saying that cyclists are forcing motorists onto quiet residential streets. Try to remember the last time that 200 pounds of bicycle and rider forced a motorist wrapped in a ton of steel and glass to do ANYTHING! He wants to poll the residents on whether to keep the bike lanes. I wonder if removing something that reduces speed and the number of vehicles on that street is in the best interest of residents? Given a choice, would you prefer heavy, high-speed traffic in front of your home or would you rather have less traffic and lower speeds? It's all too apparent that Councilor Ootes prefers more traffic and higher speeds even if they're detrimental to cyclists and pedestrians.

There's some of the usual 'bike lanes make the roads safer for children and stupid people' rhetoric from Councilor Fletcher. Contrarily, Councilor Ootes wants the bike lanes removed because residential streets - with all their intersections, parked cars, and driveways - are 'safer' than bike lanes. Cyclists make themselves safe by operating as vehicles. Facilities, wishful thinking, and the wild-assed guesses of politicians have far less effect.

Average travel times along these traffic calmed streets increased by almost a minute, from 4.5 minutes to 5.5 minutes. So there must be some terribly important people driving along that street if it's necessary to save nearly a whole minute. Cyclists, pedestrians, and residents be damned.

Oh, wait a minute. They VOTE too, don't they? How many of those commuting motorists are also voters in Councilor Ootes' district as opposed to cyclists, pedestrians, and homeowners?

Originally found via Planet Cycling

Bikes slow down cars, forcing traffic on side streets, says report

August 29, 2006 by

The Town Crier

C.I.C.L.E.: Bikes slow down cars, forcing traffic on side streets, says report

Published August 29, 2006 by The Town Crier
By Kris Scheuer

Canada - Cyclists using the bike lanes on Cosburn Ave. may soon have to find a new route if one local councillor has his way.

The bike lanes have been in place since late 2004, now Toronto-Danforth Councillor Case Ootes wants to poll residents in the area around Broadview and Coxwell Aves to see if they are in favour of keeping the bike lanes or not.

...Eventually, Ootes said he would like the bike lanes removed.

"There's no need for bike lanes on Cosburn. It's safer to cycle on residential streets," said Ootes. "The point I am trying to make is as far as East York is concerned there are lots of east-west bike routes including Sammon Avenue and Plains Road."

The councillor in the adjacent ward said these lanes are part of the city's overall bike plan to help people commute safely and promote cycling.

Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher said, "It's safer for pedestrians, kids and people on bikes."

She said that bike lanes force cars to slow down, which makes it safer for everyone including students from Cosburn Middle School crossing the road.

But it is the slowing down of traffic that Ootes has a problem with.

"This is an attempt by left wing councillors to slow down traffic and force people out of cars," he said.

"People won't get out of their cars. It doesn't happen. This isn't that kind of city," he said.

Sidewalk riders

I was driving to Wade's on Saturday morning. We have coffee every weekend as a way to catch up on family news. As I neared his house, an elderly gent on a mountain bike rode along the sidewalk up ahead. Just before I turned left at the next corner, he turned left on the intersecting sidewalk. As I pulled away from the stop sign, he swerved onto the roadway, riding along on the left side of the street. The sudden move freaked me out! I didn't know if he was coming further to the right into my lane or if he'd continue riding the wrong way. At the next curb cut he rode up into a parking lot. If that had been his destination all along, he could have stayed on the sidewalk.

This was not a cyclist. It was a guy-on-a-bike. A pedestrian on wheels.

Mortise joints

I was riding to work one morning along 86th Street, a route I've followed for years and probably hundreds of rides. I intended to turn left onto the frontage road, so I merged across two lanes of traffic into the dedicated left turn lane. Again, I've done this hundreds of times. But that morning, I managed to put my front tire into a mortise joint between two pavement sections. These joints are sometimes filled with tar or some other material that allows the slabs to expand and contract. They're often the perfect width to catch a wheel.

One advantage of daily commuting is the development of an intimate knowledge of the pavement along the way. I know every ripple and pothole, every spot that collects water, and the smoothest lines. Dropping the front tire into that joint came as a big surprise.

Since I was moving left, the bike immediately started falling to the left as its momentum carried it along. But with the front tire trapped between two concrete slabs, my only recourse was to jerk the handlebars to the left, popping the tire out. Luckily, it wasn't damaged. I've cut sidewalls in similar situations.

It's yet another example of complacency. Like I said, I've ridden there hundreds of times, but this was the very first time I've encountered that joint.

Crisp fall air!

The fall weather pattern seems to be setting in! We've had a few brisk days of crisp, clear autumn weather. That means the daytime high is only in the 80s, rather than 100 or more as it was only a few days ago. Trust me, when you've endured day after day of very high temperatures, 85F seems almost cool.


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