Thursday, May 3, 2012

Back on the Saddle Musings

It's only appropriate, with this being National Bike Month, that I got back into the saddle for the first time in a while. I did so with a number of feelings of trepidation given what I've been observing in the world of bike commuting since stopping my full time cycling: lots more cyclists, but also lots more lawless riding and dangerous behavior.

I'm not proud to say that I've been one of those cyclists who has given scofflaws a piece of my mind while riding before for not stopping at signs/lights, sidewalk riding, etc. And I was sort of steeling myself for the need to do more of this as I pumped up my tires, oiled my chain, and ran through my ABC Quick Check this morning.

And I was VERY pleasantly surprised.

Not once did I feel the need to say a word. My 7:15 to 7:45 ride down High Street from Clintonville to German Village and the afternoon return trips were both met with only a couple minor scofflaws among the numerous riders I encountered.

OSU was the site of most of the flaws, mostly sidewalk riders - but it was all stuff that Bike OSU has well in hand. They've done a wonderful job at keeping bike riders there aware of the law and safety issues, so many kudos to them.

And the positive behavior I saw was great. Cyclists taking the lane, signaling, and proper lane changes were everywhere.

Another thing I noticed was that cars were giving a much wider berth to cyclists. They're getting used to us out there and are learning to do deal with the reintroduction of the pedaling set into the flow of traffic. It was pretty cool. The safety-in-numbers gig was in full force, for sure.

So kudos to Yay Bikes!, Consider Biking, and all the passionate folks who have done a great job of being positive forces for cycling in Columbus. It's a real change from my regular cycling days of a couple years ago.

People, Not Speed

2 comments:

  1. Well, I have to admit that I am a really bad example. However, I don't know if I am not doing the right thing.

    Going west to east through downtown at 6:15 AM on my commute I routinely run lights and signs.

    On the commute home, I sometimes cut between stopped cars at lights, run lights, and even ride on the sidewalk for one block (but only because the normal way to the bike path is blocked by ongoing construction at city hall).

    But I do all of this to get off the streets as fast as possible and onto the bike path. What is safer? Following all the rules and subjecting myself to crazy drivers or getting out of the traffic ASAP? In three years of commuting I haven't really come close to an accident or problem.

    What I would really like to see are dedicated routes across downtown, both west-east and north-south. If we could get most people crossing on certain streets, it would give us more presence, keep us off most other streets, and perhaps the lights could be timed better for a bike rate of speed.

    I find that Gay Street is a good safe way to cross town. I can keep up with the 25 mph speed and traffic is fairly light. The downside is that you hit every light and the bike won't trip the light sensor (hence why I run lights).

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  2. It's pretty simple. If you're running red lights and signs and riding on the sidewalk, you're breaking the law (minus the exception listed at the end of this comment).

    I honestly don't know if cutting between stopped cars is illegal, but it's really unsafe. I don't do it because it 1) pisses off drivers a LOT, and 2) you never know when a car door is going to open.

    My experience says that being a predictable, law-abiding rider is much safer than riding like you're describing just to get off the road. Crazy drivers really aren't an issue if you control the lane properly and ride visibly and predictably, and in accordance with the law.

    Now, to address your last comment: running red lights if your bike won't trip the sensor is, to my knowledge, LEGAL - because technically the sensor is not functioning properly. To report one of these, go to http://311.columbus.gov and fill out the form (there's even a specific category for this).

    Basically, my feeling is this: people remember negative things. They don't remember positive things. Seeing riders who flout the law makes ALL of us look bad. And if and when it comes time to vote for bike improvements, they'll remember bike riders who flout the law, not the majority who don't.

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