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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


In addition to the ever ubiquitous ipod, I should also mention the ever present cell phone on the ear of pedestrian as they are crossing the road. Same issues as with the ipod listener last post. I really shouldn't have cleaned my rims this morning because during my procrastination of the past few weeks, my squeaky brakes have been the simplest warding-off pedestrians device I had. Saved my voice, no need to carry a whistle or horn, just squeeze those brakes and whoever is in front of you on a cell phone, won't be able to ignore that loud squeal. The girl last night literally jumped in the air and stared at me like a deer caught in the headlights, which she was as it was after dark and I had my lights on. I didn't have to say a word to her, my bike did all the talking.

As far as phones go, I don't have a cell, and what a bitch society can make it sometimes. All I wanted to do from Baker Hall last night was call home and let Sue know I was going to be over an hour late because of this intensely long and drawn out GIS project assignment. No luck. Couldn't call out on the house phones, didn't have a cell phone, and no pay phones in site. Maybe I just didn't know how to get an outside line on the campus phones, but the IT guy I asked said I couldn't do it, and they didn't work to get an outside line like the phone in my office space does either. Shouldn't it be a safety issue of some kind that phone access to off campus is available without having to own a cell phone? I'll have to see if I can find anything else out about this issue I have.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tales from the Road 

Here I was thinking about the future of my blogging this morning, and considering I haven't written here for a week and just what oh what would I write about today - when the fine citizens of Syracuse gave me some things to tell home about.

First, a fine example of how car drivers on the hill do not know how to interact with bicyclists (and I think because the majority of us do not ride in a manner in which drivers know what to expect from us, see my report on the critical mass ride earlier). Approaching a four way stop I see a car approaching from my right and coming to a full stop. I then come to a stop obviously after the car did and even after they should have already proceeded past the intersection. But them, having seen me on a bike, and not expecting me to stop at the intersection, dawdle for a few more seconds and we are forced to look at each other perplexed - me for why she has not driven through the intersection yet and her for why am I stopping at the stop sign?

Second, I am traveling uphill and at a bit of a slow pace, in a wide lane which is extended for bus traffic to pull up to an advancing public transport stop, when I spy a white university pickup swerving from the oncoming traffic lane, not only into my traffic lane but all the way over to come to a dead stand still park not more than 50 feet ahead of me, facing me and directly blocking my land of travel. Granted it wasn't a problem because the traffic on the road is calm and light, and that is probably only one of the reasons this fella decided it was alright to park the opposite direction in my travel lane - but come on some consideration please.

Finally, thanks to the ubiquitous ipod, and this is something I encounter almost every day, I nearly take out a pedestrian who is mind numbingly crossing the roadway as I come out from around a 90 degree turn in the road. They are middle of the block not near a pedestrian crossing, looking straight ahead, and ipod zombie shuffling to their own pace. I could have swerved in front of them or in back of them, well I chose in front of course - might as well let them know I am there and that they could pay a little more attention to traffic than Timberlake, of which by the way bicyclists have always been bringing sexy back!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Whither Wheel Goest? 

I noticed a stolen rear wheel from a bike parked over on the SU campus the other day. It was near the art building, and was the bike was locked up onto a rack in plain view. It appears that the owner had only threaded a thin cable lock through the frame, and maybe the front wheel, but had opted out of any protection for the rear. We all know the story, if you don't then listen up - next to the frame the rear wheel is the most expensive part of your bike generally. If you don't want it stolen then use protection man! A U-lock through the rear spokes, collecting the rear frame and the bicycle rack is great. What I also do is use a medium thickness cable lock as a secondary deterrant and lock the bike to the rack with it as well, and include the front wheel for the sake of it (only takes 5 extra seconds).

I actually hope that it was not a stolen wheel and can just imagine that someone had a flat or some other malfunction, and just chose to carry the rear wheel home or to the shop instead of transporting the whole bike. Then once repaired, came back to join up the wheel with the waiting bike right where they left it tied up to the rack on campus. But if it was stolen. better their's than mine.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Syracuse Critical Mass Ride 

I was excited to see that someone had gone through the effort to organize a critical mass ride in Syracuse (see Link for Flyer). Granted I don't usually get excited about mass exhibiting like this, preferring to make more subtle avenues, but I am interested in my rights to the roadways and thought I would check out the ride and lend my support as a part of the mass.

I must say there was a pretty good turn-out, much better than I expected. Everyone met at the steps of Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse U. quad at 5 pm, but due to some promotion mistakes, we had to wait around till 5:30 to leave as different times had been posted in different places. We headed out north towards and through Marshall St, then back towards South Campus, and then north again through Westcott, then turn-around and back south along Westcott, then back to the Syracuse Campus ending at the student center.

It was a good ride all-in-all. We stayed together well at first, even with some skateboarders in the group. Folks were doing good jobs of protecting the riders from cross traffic at intersections by blocking the side streets. The route went through a combo of university property, some quieter residential areas, and the main drag from main to south campus where traffic was backed up quite a bit by our ride. It felt great to be part of such a large group of riders, it felt safe to be on the street, I mean really safe as a part of this bubble, and I had never experienced riding so slow in the middle of a traffic lane before (we had to keep a pace doable for the whole group ya know).

But what I didn't like was some of the following: not stopping at red lights when we encountered them (I have no problem with the group going through lights that change red from green while we are in the middle of the intersection transverse, but when a stoplight is red and the first rider reaches it the mass should stop); passing cars on the right and the left both while travelling in the traffic lane and while they were stopped at lighted intersections; riding on the wrong side of the street and headlong into and around oncoming traffic; yelling aggressively at people in thier cars who are minding their own business; and yelling loudly to anyone listening "We Own the Streets!" (we don't solely own the streets, and neither do the car drivers, we share them, and should be considerate of each other).

Basically, I was there to show people in cars that bicyclists have the same rights to the road as they do, that we can coexist peacefully, and that I am not a threat to them; but this group managed to undoubtedly alienate many car drivers during this mass ride, and probably even scare them, and they certainly did not give good example of the kind of riding behavior that car drivers should be able to expect from bicyclists. I was going to hang with the group a bit further as they made way towards Armory Square as part of an extension to the main ride, but the group was getting more out-of-order, crossing intersections haphazardly, slicing through parked cars on all sides, and causing some drivers to honk and show signs of contempt towards us bicyclists. I left soon enough and peacefully made my way home.

I don't quite know what to say further. Was the ride a success or a failure? I am sure everyone of the ride would have a different opinion. Perhaps I just wasn't aware of what the purpose of the ride was? If it was to alienate and be aggressive in general causing a lot of muck-muck, then I am not down with it. I have mixed feelings as to how I should support this group, if at all.

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