Friday, February 27, 2004
As for myself, I finished the week off from cycle commuting in, due to resting up from the bike-car incident last Friday. I hope to hop back on Monday, but I do have to work on the crank arm replacement on my Diamondback in order to make it so. My Giant will be out of commission for the time being, as it needs a new pedal from the accident. So thank goodness for the 50+ temps we are expecting this weekend. I have no excuse, except for sleeping in, taking a nap, working on computer and personal publishing projects, and more not to get out and work on my bike. And also perhaps do some spring maintenance on my car. I mean, I am not car free by any stretch, and I won't ever be as long as we are driving cross state regularly to visit family and friends. So if I gotta have a car, I gotta maintain it. We're due for new spark plugs and we'll see what else.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
The biggest additions are the "nav bars" at the top and bottom of the page. Of course, there is only one page to this blog (except for the archives), but now visitors can see what is available instead of trying to scroll down and discover everything. And of course they can click for a quick link down to that section or to visit the guestbook for example.
And the innovative addition for the time being is the "Current Posting Status" bar. I must say one of my pet peeves in regard to blogs is when someone off and quits posting for awhile and leaves you no indication that either they are gone, or when they might be back. Well to go a step further, the posting status bar tells new readers what to expect as far as frequency and timing of posts will occurr. I think it is a nice courtesy to the reader, nothing less than you would expect from a newsletter or magazine that publishes on a schedule, and still allowing the blogger all the convenience and flexibility of changing thier schedule as needed, simply by changing the posting status bar info and highlights. I haven't seen anything similar on any other blogs, so I'll consider it a blogging innovation until someone tells me otherwise : )
I am working on a number of new features such as the "feature post", where I will put a past post to entice readers to check out the archives, and a "photo center" where I can better present photos from my posts in a collection for easy reference and viewing once they reach the archives. Also publishing the archives as seperate pages so I can adjust the layout template on them to match up with the main page. One question I have is how to remove the white space from between the body columns? Anyone have a clue? I've tried adjusting padding and margin, what else?
Song of the Day: "Head On" by The Jesus and Mary Chain
Monday, February 23, 2004
I don't plan on getting into any major rants of the driver here, because she was quite considerate at the incident. The driver expressed her sincere (I perceived) regret, and empathy (from being a runner), and offered to give me a ride home and pay for any damages. We exchanged contact info and I pedalled home. My bike seems ok, except for the left pedal which may be bent. Of course I reserve the right to get into much more detail if she fails to follow through on her promises (Scarlet Letter anyone?). And the police did take a record of my call when I got home about the incident.
Of course if there is ever an example for a call for better driver education and relicensing in Pennsylvania (and probably elsewhere) this is it. As I explained to the driver that I was entitled to the full lane, and that when I give the left hand downward signal I am motioning slow, she expressed complete ignorance of such rules and signalling. Remember car drivers: BICYCLISTS ARE ENTITLED TO THE FULL LANE, CHANGE LANES TO PASS. Perhaps changing our "share the road" signs to this designation, and getting more bicyclist signage up will help the matter and can be an advocvacy activity for me in the future.
Let me not dwell unecessarily on this incident, especially in this blog, but let me promise to follow-up on it appropriately.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
True Story: Crossing the I-83 overpass from Lemoyne in New Cumberland, the road changes from 1 lane, to 1 lane with a right-turn and a left-turn lane at the crest of the hill. As I crest the hill, I move over into the lane (which is quite wide) about 1/2 of the way, to que up in the straight lane at the stop light past the overpass. A vehicle approaches from behind and uses the left-turn lane to attempt to pass me and get in front of me at the que, obviously underestimating my speed and right to the road, because he ends up along side of me instead of in front of me as we near the back end of the que, and I have to whistle to get his attention to prevent him from squeezing me over further.
True Hope: Said driver will respect my right to the roadway and will correctly learn to estimate the speed of a bicyclist in a roadway situation; or at the least give the biker the benefit of the doubt when attempting to pass them.
Underestimating Bicycle Speed 2
True Tale: I am cruising through Lemoyne when a driver coming in the opposite direction crosses the road in front of me for a turn. Driver chooses to turn even as he sees me approaching and I make eye contact with him; driver then proceeds to take the turn quite slow and I pass near the rear of his vehicle as I continue on my route.
True Hope: Driver will learn to properly estimate the speed of an approaching bicycle from the opposite direction and will be patient enough to wait until bicyclist passes to begin to turn. Especially when there are no vehicles behind biker to further hold up the turning driver!
Song of the Day: "Sunshine on my Shoulders" by John Denver
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
When one bicycle commutes, one is able to open up all one's senses to the world around one, unlike when one is in a car smelling recirculated air, hearing the humming motor and radio noise, seeing only what is recognizable at high speeds, and feeling only the steering wheel and if one is unusual the rushing air from open windows. Unfortunately, when biking, those senses are often overpowered by the cars surrounding one on the roadway. Try to hear the birds when the engines roar around you, try to smell the sweet late winter/spring air when the exhaust assaults you, you get the picture.
What hope do traffic calming measures like neck-downs and speed humps hold for me? Thats a tough question. Prohibitions include price, community support, and emergency vehicle delays. Read more at trafficcalming.org. But what I wouldn't give for a speed hump or two right outside my window that would keep cars to the speed limit of 25mph here in town, and a neckdown that would prevent them from gunning it and whipping around cars waiting to turn that inevitabely causes hostilities and honking horns. I think another major help would come from additional vegetation and trees along the streetsides. Of course they are few and far between along the section of Bridge St. I frequent, but I can imagine them absorbing noise and air pollution on a daily basis.
Perhaps someone at St. Theresa's is already leading the charge to consider such measures, as there has been some issue as of late with drivers along Bridge St who fail to slow or stop for pedestrians, of which there are quite a few, with the schools and with the churches lining the route. Let me lend my support to any studies or considerations that are taking place, and may we have a quieter more peaceful Bridge St to look forward to.
Song of the Day: "Blue Suede Shoes" by The King
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
I have been struggling with thoughts as to how exactly I can better promote bicycling as a viable option, with the time and resources I have available. This blog is a great opportunity, but how do I get people not already interested in bicycling to read it. How do I get those car drivers who see me every day to get out of thier vehicles and join me on two wheels? I was watching TV this evening and noticed a car commercial that attempts to show youthful extravagence, in what I view as a traditionally progressive and counter commercial culture activity of a rock band or simply cruising with their friends on a road trip, as gawking and desiring the new car over thier outgoing, happy-go-lucky, simpler life that they were enjoying before the car came into view. As if life stops at a certain point and we all become grade A consumers and move past "childish" ways. And it was offensive to someone who is attempting to live simply and happily and maintain a semblance of fun in their lives. Do those youth really desire that new SUV enough to quit spending thier time happily and to instead start working two jobs in order to make the minimum payments?
Perhaps we might turn the tables around and show the exact opposite. I can imagine a commercial that shows an SUV driving middle aged, overweight, stressed out office worker, gawking out the window at a bicycle commuter who is happy and healthy and avoiding the traffic jams, and getting home to family sooner. But what will it take to get to that point? I wish I knew. And its a blog for another day.
Back to my question on exposure for bcn however, I've thought of 1 other option, going hard copy. That's right converting bcn into a zine for gfree distribution around town. Then maybe more folks will pick it up to read during lunch, to take home and set on the family table, or to pass around the office. I have to think out the plan for this, but I think it will be a good addendum to my online efforts.
Song of the Day: "Come Together" by Primal Scream, although it's been co-opted by a commercial recently too.
Monday, February 16, 2004
So my order in comprised of the Park CWP-6 Multi Crank Puller, the Park PW-3 Pedal Wrench, the Park CC-2 Chain Gauge, a set of 2 Sugino 8mm Crank Bolts with built-in Caps, and a tube of Finish Line Grease. Seperately, I bought a torque wrench from Sears' Craftsmen line as well, for proper tightening of the crank bolts and whatever else I need proper tightening for. Plus I'll get some use out of this torque wrench for car repairs and maintenance too. I'll add these to my spending totals section in the right column when I get a chance, and I am going to do a quick total of what our car expenses have been for the past year so I can do a quick compare. These tool purchases, though, are an investment and well worth the price, considering what I would have likely paid in labor if I would have taken the bike to an LBS for these repairs.
I should mention that I chose Lickton's for my order because they were the first site I came across (after checking 5 or 6 others) that had the new CWP-6 Crank Puller from Park, whereas all the other sites (including my LBS) either had only the older version (CWP-5) or a different version that wasn't as versatile in its capabilities. I also really liked the Lickton's site because the menus were really easy and intuitive and the site was neat and clean. And best of all you could see pictures of each item in stock, that's super.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
This next year though I'll have my own garlic as I planted a bunch this past fall. I planted a few small rows of the generic garlic that everyone has, but I also bought some different varieties to try. These were in a hardneck sample pack from the Garlic Store and included Chesnok Red, Georgia Fire, Spanish Roja, and Siberian.
Bike Fuel Recipe for Simple Vegetarian Chili:
1 cup TVP (before reconstituting) and soy sauce
2 cups chopped onions
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon paprike
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
(1/4 cup chili powder optional)
4 cups chopped tomatos
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 cups cooked kidney beans
Saute reconstituted TVP in soy sauce, set aside. Saute onions and garlic in good oil, add paprika, oregano, and cumin (and optional chili powder) and stir until absorbed. In a pot add the tomatoes, sugar, salt with the onion/garlic mixture (add optional green peppers now), bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Then add the beans and TVP, simmer covered 15-20 minutes or until desired thickness. Serve with cheese or sour cream if desired, and piping hot corn bread.
I thought that I had enough riding on the streets downtown and wanted to get back into Riverfront Park, and since the city trucks had pounded down some paths in the snow, and much of it had melted it wouldn't be a problem. And I was kind of looking forward to playing in it, maybe a few slides and plowing through what snow was left between the paths.
To get into the park though I was faced with over a foot high and a similar width of plowed snow on the edge of the road blocking my entrance, but not to be deterred I figured I'd take it headon and hop it, and I almost did, but my back wheel just clipped the pile enough to throw me sideways and I lost it on the slippery stuff on the other side. Thankfully it was more snow than ice and my snow fall was a soft one this time.
Well my Journey into work ends as I cut out of Riverfront and move up a side alley road where I emerge onto 3rd with the grand view of the Pennsylvania Capitol building looming up in front of me. Although I don't always agree with what goes on inside that building, and often feel estranged from our governments process, even when I am in such close proximity to the location, you can't help but be inspired by the architecture. Gotta take a tour someday.
Monday, February 09, 2004
Saturday, February 07, 2004
It's been awhile since I've discussed gardening on this blog, I've really been focused on my bike commuting as I had planned. But when growing season comes around, those veggies as bike fuel gain so much importance in this quest for supporting a bicycle lifestyle that they have every right to be here. I hope that as you undertake your commute, you'll set some time aside for balancing the other aspects of your life as well. And maybe set aside a small plot in your backyard for growing some bicycle fuel.
Thursday, February 05, 2004
City Island access to improve
The Market Street Bridge ramps to and from City Island are in line for a $1 million upgrade, according to Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed’s office. The project, slated to begin in the summer, would replace and widen the Market Street Bridge underpass on the island and expand and upgrade the entrance and exit ramps to the island. Crews also would resurface the bridge roadway and create walkways for pedestrians. Federal funds will foot the entire bill, Reed said in a statement. Work is expected to begin in mid-August and wrap up in spring 2005. Work would be done in stages to mitigate the effect on traffic. The island gets 1 million visitors a year, Reed said. Construction bids will be issued in the spring. The state Department of Transportation’s District 8 office will manage the project. -- Staff report
City Island could be a great resource for the City, if this any many other improvements like basic maintenance are undertaken. A big improvement that would benefit me as a bike commuter would be the renovation of the Walnut St Bridge connecting the West Shore with City Island. As you can see below, this view from the Market St Bridge along my route, shows the Walnut St Bridge falling off to nothing which is a result of large ice flows and buildup a few years back that destroyed a large section of the bridge. Farther north in the picture is the Harvey Taylor Bridge, my other possible crossing point over the Susquehanna.
Once on City Isalnd you notice the brand new sign welcoming folks to the park, and in the distance the Walnut St Bridge on the east side of the island. I get off Market St here and roll through the island to get over to, and use, the Walnut St Bridge to get to Harrisburg. And who can miss the large expanse of cars in the midground, commuters who park on the island and walk into town for work. Who can blame them? If you're going to drive you can save $20-$30 per month minimum on parking at City Island vs. downtown, and still enjoy a beautiful 10-20 minute walk across the Susquehanne and through downtown.
Song of the Day: "What if God Was One of Us?" by Joan Osborne
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Once in Lemoyne, traffic is once again funneled down towards the Susquehanna for crossing at the Market Street Bridge. Once again no other choice for me at this point, and with little if any attention given to the sidewalks on the Bridge (actually lots of attention is given to plowing the snow and ice from the roadway onto the sidewalk), I most often stay on the roadway at this point. As you can see (but in my opinion most motorists ignore or do not know how to interpret) there is a pretty little "Share the Road" sign here, the only one I see on my route.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
After getting back on Bridge the riding is easier as the road widens out and few parked cars if any ever dot my path. As you can see after a winter storm though, the ice and snow can be an issue. So I take it slower and keep an eye on my rear with my Reflex helmet mirror. Speaking of which, I recently contacted the manufacturer of the Reflex, Cycleaware, because the adhesive holding the mirror's base onto my helmet was weakening and the unit falling off (fortunately this never happened while riding) and they were kind enough to acknowledge the problem and promise to send me a new adhesive for the base, as well as pass along some helpful hints on better securing the new adhesive base. Thanks to them. I can't as yet say the same of FireTire who have ignored my last two contacts about my malfunctioning Tire Flare. They did ask me to send it in for replacement, but since I did that I haven't heard anything, including nothing from a follow-up email.
New Cumberland Borough:
I am writing to bring to your attention a problem with the traffic signal sensor at 16th and Bridge Streets. The sensor, when approaching the intersection on 16th, fails to pick up the body of a bicycle and turn the signal from red to green. This problem should be fixed by replacing the sensing hardware, thus making this roadway useable in a safe manner for bicycles. Please inform me as to how you will address this issue.
Anyone want to jump in on this letter and help out with the draft? Anything I need to add from anyone's experiences in this situation?