share the road, y'all

This week is that strange but cool week, the only one of the year, where I can reasonably go for a bike ride before work. My employers are flexible enough that I can work 9 to 5-something during the winter and 7:30 to 4 during daylight savings, and the week before the change is the one week where I have nearly an hour and a half of light before I have to get ready for work. It's kind of cool. I get to see the sun rise, and (less cool) I get to see rush hour develop, from nobody but my crazy ass out on the road at 5:45 to sheer gridlocked madness by 7.

I also got reminded of why I avoid bike paths. Mostly I avoid them because of rollerbladers zooming side to side with their headphones on, erratic little kids with training wheels, and (yesterday) an entire pack of teenaged Boy Scouts wearing enormous backpacks. But in the absence of those things the paths still suck. This morning I used the path that runs parallel to Shepard Road, which is not so different from a sidewalk in that it crosses all the side streets and, as such, puts you at the mercy of any traffic that might wish to make right turns into your path without looking. And pretty much everyone in a car does this constantly.

Noncyclists tend to gasp in horror, "You ride your bike in the ROAD? With CARS? Isn't that DANGEROUS?" Well, no. No, it isn't. Riding on paths and sidewalks next to the road is infinitely more dangerous, and the accident statistics clearly reflect this. When you're in the road you're a known entity. You are visible to drivers, and (presumably) you are following accepted traffic patterns, so you are predictable. When you're on the sidewalk they don't see you, and sidewalks are a Godforsaken lawless wasteland where anybody can do anything anyway, so even if they did see you they wouldn't know what to expect from you. It ain't safe, people. USE THE ROADS.

Unless you're an erratic moron on a Huffy, then you can stay on the paths. We won't miss you.


Blogger Caloi-Rider said...

Agreed. I've been chewed out for using a crosswalk when the driver of a car decided to blow right through it instead of stopping. Needless to say I'm more comfortable riding on the state highway with semi trucks whizzing past me than I am riding on the sidewalks around here.

3/27/2006 1:00 PM  
Blogger KM said...

The same Shepard Road that runs from Rt 5 down to St Paul? Last time I checked, the trail was separated from the roadway except for a few instances where you cross 35E and one or two others. Granted, the surface on part of it sucks but from 35 to St Paul, it is wide and fast.

Erratic moron on a Huffy? Did you hurt yourself when you made that knee jerk reaction? There are certainly trails that are unsafe to cyclists -- the ones around the city lakes and, at certain times of the day, east and west river road come to mind -- but the Greenway, Cedar Lake and others are awesome. I for one am glad to have some of my tax dollars go to those trails. My biggest fear is they fall out of use and are closed.


3/27/2006 3:56 PM  
Blogger annie said...

All right, Greenway and Cedar Lake are fine, but they're a minority and you know it. And there are a LOT of cross streets interrupting the Shepard trail, btw. It's nice once you get close to St Paul, but the section I was stuck on this morning, with the bad pavement, dumps you out into the road every hundred yards or so.

And while you appear to have taken it that way, I did not actually say "KM is an erratic moron on a Huffy." There are some people on paths that can ride in a straight line, presumably including you, but from my experience on the paths (may i emphasize, experience, not knee jerk reaction) those people are few and far between. I don't think anyone could pay me to ever ride on the Gateway again.

Besides, what's with the speed limit, anyway....

3/27/2006 4:25 PM  
Blogger KM said...

I knew you weren't talking about me specifically -- I can be a moron but am never erratic ;-) But I have been riding a long time and have lived in places (the south) where there are no trails, few shoulders and more drivers that hate cyclists than you can count.

The trails are overcrowded in places but it is amazing to live in a place where one can ride across the metro on dedicated trails.

So I bruised myself up a bit when I reacted to your comments but having seen the alternative, I am glad there are enough morons on Huffy's up here who vote and want to ride on trails.

Safe Riding


3/27/2006 8:12 PM  
Blogger Shawn Kielty said...

I am with you any. Sidewalks are scary-scary. I particularly like this bit.

"When you're on the sidewalk they don't see you, and sidewalks are a Godforsaken lawless wasteland where anybody can do anything anyway, so even if they did see you they wouldn't know what to expect from you. It ain't safe, people."

3/28/2006 6:06 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Cyclists (with the exception of Huffy riding children) behave more like vehicles than pedestrians. Therefore, it seems common sense to use roads. It's amazing how few people understand this.

3/29/2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger Squirrel said...

Arrggg Mate'ys, just ride it all and be happy that you are riding:) Feeling blessed (I'm not religious by the way, just very spirtitual) that I was able to WAKE UP THIS MORNING, load the pack and commute my 20 miles to work using pavetrail, pavement, and a slice of heavenly dirt without getting the bird, honked at, or mirrior buzzed:) Pretty good for central Iowa.


3/30/2006 7:08 AM  

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