After a few false starts, it’s bicycle season again. I rode to class today, miraculously remembering everything I was supposed to — water, iPod, lock, bookbag. (What I forgot: to oil my chain, something it desperately needs. Fortunately the iPod, in addition to providing encouragement on the long hill home, can be adjusted to cover the noise.)
There are lots of bikes in A2, with more year-round cyclists than you’d think, in a climate like this. After the hell of Fort Wayne cycling, it first seemed like heaven to be in a city with bike paths on at least a few major thoroughfares. But, as a story in the A2 News points out tonight, there’s still some work to do:
Kris Talley was biking on Scio Church Road west of Ann Arbor last summer when she experienced the kind of scare every cyclist dreads.
A large gravel truck topped a hill and was coming up behind her fast, she said. There was no paved shoulder to slip out of the way, and an oncoming car meant the truck driver couldn’t ease into the other lane to pass. Talley said she managed to bail out on the rough gravel shoulder as the trucker blasted by, hand on horn.
The Ann Arbor resident and chair of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition managed to follow the driver until he pulled into a nearby gravel pit, where she confronted him about driving too fast. In the end, the two agreed on one thing after their hour-long conversation: Both motorist and cyclist would be better off with a paved shoulder for an emergency exit.
Having ridden (once) on a few of these roads, I can tell you that while a paved shoulder would be nice, what the road really needs is more considerate motorists. Especially when they drive gravel trucks.
Dan said on March 26, 2004 at 6:25 am
Glad to hear you’re back on the bike, but I’m surprized that you are using the iPod while riding. I ride around another college town (West Lafayette, IN), and I need to hear the cars (and gravel trucks) coming up behind me.
I agree that some motorists have a little learning to do in order to properly share the road. The road between my house and the campus is a country road with no shoulder. I am often honked at, gestured to, and unsafely passed on hills and curves. It only takes a few people to make the whole trip a scary time.
Nance said on March 26, 2004 at 9:06 am
I know what you’re talking about, and believe me, I’m careful about that. I turn it off on any street that doesn’t have a dedicated bike lane, and I have to deal with cars in close quarters. But on the long hill climb home, man, I need all the motivation I can get.
alex said on March 26, 2004 at 9:15 am
And you’re both in college towns. In the Fort, being a pedestrian or cyclist is almost a license to mow you down. People think nothing of cussing you out for being out and about without a motorized vehicle.
Didn’t used to be that way. Heck, when I was a kid I rode my bike everywhere, even on major roads. Wouldn’t dare do it now.
Is it just my imagination, or is there a lot more misdirected rage going around these days than there used to be?
deb said on March 26, 2004 at 9:18 pm
i think you’re right, alex. our little burg is filled with hiking/cycling paths, and i stick to those — and sidewalks — as much as possible, primarily because being on a bike leaves you fewer options for protecting yourself from lunatics.
once when i was out driving with my kids, some bozo trying to make a left turn across a busy four-lane highway had parked himself smack in the middle of the oncoming-traffic lane, which included my car. apparently i didn’t make my right turn and get out of his way fast enough. at the next stop sign, he pulled up alongside my car, close enough to open my driver’s side door if he’d been so inclined, and motioned for me to roll down my window. i shook my head “no” and locked the doors. i had to wait for traffic to clear to make my own left turn, with this loon alternately screaming at me and laughing maniacally the whole time. seriously. he’d look at me and scream until his neck veins popped out, then would throw his head back and laugh.
my poor kids were terrified. “mommy,” the youngest said in a small voice, “why is that man so mad at you?”
beats hell outa me, but it sure seems there are more of those types out there than ever before.