Category Archives: bicycle advocacy

Pictures or it didn’t happen

blockedroutesmallSo Lily says “hey, let me know when things on campus don’t work for bikes.”   Well, of course, except for the known “black eyes” that … well… it’s the U.

So many black eyes, though!

So here’s a typical morning.   This is the “bike route” — duly note that actually, this isn’t a great route.  Yes, we’re maneuvering through a *fountain.*   We’ve already had to do tight 90 degree turns because no, we can’t have curb cuts for the bike path so we have to cut 20 feet over to the sidewalk curb cuts.   (City of Urbana put some in where the city and U border.   Urbana is Gold, the U. bronze per “bike friendliness” and while the metric’s far from perfect, yes, that kind of thing counts.)

So, yes, they just close it off.   It was closed for construction for *a year and a half* just after they put in their “master bike plan” with it as the “bike route.”   Have I mentioned that the University is concerned with What It Looks Like On Paper, not the reality?

I’m sure it’ll be closed for beginning-of-year events, too.

bikelaneparkingOh, and see that line of cars (second one w/ headlights on)?   That’s where the bike lane is.  This is a compromise I’m willing to make — let folks park there moving into dorms — but I’d love to see stats on whether people are allowed to bend parking rules in other places.   I didn’t think so.   The bike facilities are there under duress and as soon as it is inconvenient to *anybody,* the anybody takes priority.

main street bike rackVery nice bike parking on Main Street in Urbana for our post-bike/ped council brew.   (We were mindful of public notice of meetings act and talked about other stuff.)

Here’s a bit of contrast with Champaign, where yes, if I made a left and rode across some grass, I could access a multi-use path behind Springfield to get to the happy hour at El Toro.   Parking at El Toro?  Well, find a table to cable it to.   This is Champaign (and typical).

champaignbikeparkingclothes from bike ride

Finally, somebody left their laundry basket exposed in their truck… clothes all over the road for our Saturday Saunter ride.   THey’ll go into a hot wash and dry… and go on a probably smaller person.   ERm, yea, we were rained on a bit — though we were at Casey’s for the pouring part.   (We also just had to slow our pace a bit for that loooong train to go by…)   Really nice cottons and a fellow who sorts his clothing (grateful the delicates basket wasn’t on top).  Hauling soggy cottons makes a nice workout…

They’re baaack…

We’ll see if I’ve got it recorded — I stuck the goPro on my helmet for the ride home, and decided to stick to Bradley and yea, verily… got mildly harassed by a man in a jeep convertible. I watched him decide not to go into the left lane to pass — he had the chance — and then lay on the horn… so I waved him around. He hollered something, so I duly informed him that he had a full lane, going the same direction and that, by the way, he was being recorded. (I don’t want to be committing wiretap offenses, after all.)
He shook his head disgustedly as he went by on Country Fair… he was on Bradley so he wasn’t coming out of Parkland, so perhaps a new U student… so much for a video of a totally dull ride.
However, the experience makes the point that okay, once every few years somebody actively dislikes me being “in the lane.” THey honk. THey holler.
They *don’t* run over me and then weep because they “didn’t see me.”
Interestingly, when I was coming ’round the bend on the perimeter road on campus there were four or five young boys riding bikes in one of the parking lots. One hollered out to me, including a “ma’am,” that there was a car RIGHT BEHIND ME, and I might get run over. I said we were both vehicles on the road, and thanked him…

I’m insured…

At the Bike Summit, I learned that car insurance can cover the medical bills if I’m clocked by an underinsured or uninsured driver. I also would rather not pay the liability etc. when I rent a car.
I was told “Progressive & Safeco do it, but you ahve to go through a local agent.”
I had Brown, Hobbs & McMurray recommended to me.
Welp, it took a while… but since I went to my “ignore delays and holds and repeat explanations — go to your Yea, I’m Marginalized, but it’s not going to raise my blood pressure” place … and now I’m covered. It averages out under $20/month and I will still have to pay comp/collision to Enterprise.
Of note was that they noted taht yes, they do have others with a ‘named non-owner’ policy… I don’t think “car-free,” but they considered that they should prepare for more people like me, because The Times Are A Changing… not in a political or ‘society’s values’ context, just a practical, financial “this affects our business” one.
The margins are shifting….

Give me just a little more green :)

Okay, I’ve sort of got that in that today was “closing” on my refinance at much lower interest… but even better than that, yea!!  it really looks like my request for a few more seconds of green on the light cycle westbound at Church and Mattis was granted.   That’s twice this week  that I have been approaching as it changed to green and got *through* before it went yellow, without the walk light having been activated.

I did have a Yellow Checker Cab guy try to right hook me last week… guessing that company doesn’t realize that cyclists might just be a good market to try to be on good terms with.   I’m car free, but if I take a cab, it won’t be from youse guys.
snow in the forecast today so it’s folder time… but might just get home before it starts.

Youtube path ride (not mine, or anybody I know…)

So.   Just for fun I thought I would do a search for “how to ride on a path.” Of course “how to” are both words that Google pretty much ignores, so what I got was a whole lot of pages describing new paths being built — and this video of a guy doing a 20 mile ride on a sparsely-traveled path (who duly notes at the beginning that you aren’t supposed to drive on the path). I haven’t watched the whole thing but the rider’s thrill at being in nature as well as his complete shock and awe at the interaction with pedestrians provided an insight into the mind of the more normal person who doesn’t ride everywhere. 

This was the most interesting site I found — but I don’t think it has tips in it… it does say the following;

2.2 Segregated versus non-segregated facilities
Direct comparison of the relative safety of bicycle facilities proves to be a difficult task.
Separate bicycle paths may appear to be “safer” than bicycle lanes but may result in
more conflicts at intersection and driveway locations, especially if the path is physically
removed from the roadway in such a way that motorists may not be expecting cyclists at
the junction of the path with the driveway or intersection.
Similarly, bicycle lanes may result in more orderly and predictable behavior between
motorists and cyclists along a road segment, but may lead to conflicts at intersections if
cycle lane traffic must re-integrate with motorized vehicles as they jointly traverse the
intersection and its influence area. Much of the safety performance seems to depend on
the design of bicycle facilities and the context of the road environment on which they are
applied. The New Zealand Land Transport Safety Authority makes note of this in their
Cycle Network and Route Planning Guide as a general consideration for providing either
roads or paths:
One choice is not inherently safer than another; both can be hazardous and both
require high-quality design to achieve safety.2
Research on this issue is far from conclusive. Findings can be contradictory and many
studies seem to exhibit shortcomings in data analysis, basic definitions, (i.e. what are
considered on-road and off-road facilities) statistical robustness, and often – a
preconceived bias that seemingly favors one type of facility over another. Further, much
of the research has been conducted outside of North America where the rules of the
road and the nature of transportation systems and policies are substantially different
than those experienced on this continent.

… and now, to change a few search terms to see if I can find something — add “safety” to the mix or something…

That gets me stuff about neighborhoods being no less safe where there are bike paths (despite the odd idea people get that bike paths will mean ne’er-do-wells will loiter and Do Bad Things), and Dave Moulton’s Oct 17 “Don’t be a Gutter Bunny” (tho’ that wasn’t a direct hit) and links to debates over whether separated cycle tracks are safer than riding on the road.

This seems to be a topic where the Internet commentary is almost certainly significantly different from what you’d get from the general public.   It makes sense — the person who is sort of almost thinking about riding a bike sometimes, and even the person who goes out riding with kids or on paths, is far less likely to have a biking blog or even be involved in the cycling community IRL or online.

I have often considered assorted gathering of my data — every word I type — as, rather than an invasion of my privacy, a chance for what I chose to express to be counted.  AFter all, why in the world should the Internet be considered “private?”

Still, regarding bicycles… it’s obviously a challenge for somebody considering getting started — ready for that 9 mph trip around a path — to find real tips on riding there.   Reckon I should be happy that most people aren’t like me and are brave enough to actually do new things without spending hours on the INternet researching 🙂   is pretty nifty, tho’ almost exhaustive… but does not give tips on how to ride on a path safely; just says ‘be careful, the roads are usually better.”

I did find a reference about greenways that stated blithely: “For Safety
Designated bicycle paths are excellent places to learn how to ride! Riding on designated bicycle paths is safer than riding on unsigned streets and roads.”  It made me wonder when I had ever in my life, especially in New York of all places (which has regulations for just about everything), seen an unsigned road with a designated bicycle path within miles.

yahoos, yahoos…

Seems to be more of ’em — so maybe I should monitor my riding style, but I reckon heat is a compounding variable too.  Got totally buzzed by a van on Kirby — should have been out even further, I suppose.

So I’m going South on Anderson and the guy stops at Fairlawn and then starts going, despite Frank and I being right there in front of him and having total and complete right of way.

I stated “You have the stop sign, after all!”  He hollers out taht he has a driver’s license.   I tell him that it is a public road and he didn’t pay for it personally, and then (tho’ I’m sure he was out of earshot then) that people lose their licenses for running stop signs.   Reckon my first rejoinder should have been “You have a license?  And you don’t know the stop sign rules?”

It’s about 80 out there… many many storms just North keepin’ the temp down, but I wish we’d get some of it.   115 miles needed to get to 1000 in July at the start of the day… got 24 of them and it’s time to go to the store… Krannert Outside is tonight and I want to bring the margarita maker 😉


… so I’m cruising home via campus, on Pennsylvania, where it’s a tad skinny, and there’s a car coming and one behind me.  SO I control the lane because no, sir, there really isn’t room for you to get past me safely and yes, it’s another hundred yards before… oh, it doesn’t matter, you’re turning into that parking lot.

Well, no, it does, because really you are trying to scoot through the parking lot fast enough to pass me!   So my alerts are a blazing because that’s an aggressive move… but I was already going fast to try to keep you from getting too annoyed behind me, so um, I beat you to the exit.

You then pass me, leaving ample room, not gonig too fast… and you even stop at the stop sign.  I do, too, which means you do get to get ahead of me at that point… and you tootle away, not aggressively. Go figure?



Unintended consequences

… at least I fervently hope so!!!

There’s been some talk of a tandem ghost bike… out where the accident happened, or somewhere to make driver’s think.

Someone chained a ghost bike where Cindy and David used to park theirs at DSC.  I wish I couldn’t imagine the emotional punch-you-in-the-gut-’til-you-puke that was to the clients there.    I’m sure it wasn’t intended that way.

Was it good for you?

This morning a significant part of me did not want to get on the bike.  Sure, the ride in was going to be nice; it was 25 degrees.  Forecast, though, for “flurries.”  Same forecast as for Saturday when we got five inches. Low tonight: 6.

I steeled myself.  My option when confronted with challenge is to respect the voice that says “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t,” and thus create an option, so that it can’t win when it really shouldn’t. I decided I’d ride the Gazelle in… and if it got ugly, I’d take the folding bike home on the bus so that there wouldn’t be two bikes out at school. Then I could bus in in that frigid morning and take the bike home whne I was good and ready.

We did get a few flurries, but honest “flurries,” nothing sticking, not even a dusting.  The roads are really clear, at least my southern route home (some of campus was rock solid ice sheets – rumply as an unmade bed, but solid ice –  this morning and I walked ’em, foolish as that is with the studs giving better traction than shoes, but as I said, I respect my avoidances ’cause hten they’d want me not to ride at all… in fact, it wasn’t that slippery to walk on.  THerefore, it wasn’t too slippery to stud on… but it’s my commute and I’ll whine if I want to — *and* I left early so I got to work on time anyway.)

So I had enough layers on to make singing tough (“your voices sound constricted!”  – um, oy, yea, there’s an awful lot of elastic around my middle…)  but it was 19 at the start and 20 at the end at leaving time, so I donned my lights and took the long way around, because the tailwind was strong enough to chill me if I didn’t warm up riding reasonably briskly first, and with only one gear that’s hard. (It’s gear 3 — pretty easy — of the 7.)

As I left, the Green bus approached.   I thought about racing it and sprinted parts of JOhn,  but realized that I’d have to go a different route to see if it passed me, and I”m not inclined to travel Vine, so I cruised after that.

Another reason for my reluctance to ride was that I’ve been getting by with just a red blinky on the back of my backpack, and yes, it’s different. I found a string of baby white LEDs and just clumped them back there, and added two of those finger lights.  Yes, cars gave me more time and space. Made me envision a poster:   “Legal’ vs. “good.’

Then I turned onto State STreet and grasped what the bus driver was referring to as a citizen was walkijng on the bike lane towards me.  It was mostly plowed, but the parking spaces werent, so it was actually a reasonably good sidewalk, with a few feet between the cars and the regular traffic lane.

I envisioned a second set of posters that I”m going to suggest, though it may be a solution in search of a problem.  Two pictuers on it:  one wiht a bike out in the car lane, and a driver pissed… the second zooming in on a legitimate reason for the bike to be there.  Specifically, makin’ a left turn, glass or potholes, or whatever.  Caption:   “If I’m not in the bike lane, there’s a reason.”  Then it occurred to me that the same could be done for bike paths, with a fast rider and then zooming in on the cute little children playing on the path, or that family with the kids with training wheels.

And yes, I was comfortably warm, head to toe.  It felt really good. TOmorrow’s six degrees? I’m up for it.

adventures in travel

Yesterday I drove Green Street in because it’s an early start day …. the 9:00 days make it easier to leave more time for easing my way down the less cleared roads and have lots more traffic to motivate me to do that instead of Green.

I got to experience the “bike lane, cars making right turns” conflict… we’re all merrily approaching the red traffic light, me in my bike lane… the cars slow and are stopping, and one of ’em has that right signal on.   It turns green.   The driver does a major hesitate… I waved him forward.   It wasn’t even close to a right hook ’cause Sir Studly was goin’ about 8 mph (up hill, into the winds on the studs on a 50 pound bike… and I don’t want to arrive at work in a lather).   Would have been a different scenario if I were going 21 mph, though.

Then I worked over to make the left onto Church, fondly recalling when that was my regular route (before the interminable construction that says it’ll be done in December… think May…be)   and there was a queue of drivers turning into the Springer Cultural Center.

I got into the left lane to go around them… but, oops!  That guy in the red van X?2 1978 really didn’t want to be in the queue and proceeds to pull out at me.   I holler “HEY!”   in what may have been the first time I completely “reflexively” hollered; it was that close.  (I’m usually prone to freezing. Guess when it’s this cold I’ve already done that ;))  Close enough to hear; he stopped.   I pulled right past ’em and caught up to him again at the light — no, he didn’t eevn deign to glance my way.  That unpredictable voice escaped and  hollered at the void between us “Not  looking now, either!  Hope you don’t kill anybody else this morning!”   He passed me widely before making his right turn… so I’m hoping he heard.

I’m pretty sure the yahoo who was compelled to pass me in the flogging UNDERPASS under the RR tracks on Stadium east of Neil was no more hostile… like most oppressors, he couldn’t comprehend my existence and the inconvenience of waiting a few seconds.

On the other hand, this morning I approached Bradley from Country Fair with a sinking heart… I was going to *make* the green… but only its tail end, and full double-lane traffic was crouched, ready to pounce, on Westbound Bradley… no doubt many of ’em people as “almost late” as I was for an 8:00 arrival at Parkland.   I planted my self in the middle of the lane… then tried to figure out with my complete lack of ability to do so whether or not the lane was wide enough for a safe passing (it’s skinnier what with the snow…) which it might have been for the little car behind me, but not the bus behind it.   I heard a honk… but directed at said bus that was pulling around … and I attacked that downhill and got Sir STudly prob’ly up to … maybe 15 mph.  The car behind me was… still behind me.   Perhaps cruise control on 12 ’cause teh gap was widening.  One of the kindly protective folks I work with, perhaps?I pedaled strongly into the turn lane and… so did the car, well behind me… and didn’t recognize the driver at all, and she just proceeded on into school, as if she hadn’t done anything remarkable…. and perhaps that’s true, but I’m remarking anyway 🙂