Archive for the ‘Biking’ Category

Dear Bikers:

I say this with all due respect, and as being a fellow bike commuter myself. Sometimes, we can be a real bunch of idiots. Sure we are out there, pedaling away for environmental justice, sticking it to the big oil companies, reducing obesity, and generally being awesome. But unfortunately, we are still in the major minority of commuters and do not rule the road, and so we’ve got to stop biking like we do.

So here are a few of my kind suggestions for all you bike commuters out there. Because sometimes I drive a car too and know what’s really, really annoying.

1. Don’t bike with no hands

Biking with no hands is acceptable in one instance, and one instance only. When you are crossing the finish line at Le Tour de France. Otherwise, it’s unacceptable.

Now, trust me, I know it’s cool. I mean I can only do it a few yards and when I’m on a mountain bike. So I’m really, really proud that you can bike miles without using your hands at all. But I kinda wish you would just get a unicycle.

For whatever reason, people LOVE to bike without their hands in my neighborhood. You’d think there was an epidemic of handlessness devastating the University District. But assuming there is no limb-eating virus out there, I’m guessing people just do it to look cool. That, and to keep their hands warm, but since gloves are a thing, I’m gonna guess it’s to look cool.

And while it is cool, it slows your reaction time. You may not believe me and can tell me all about your cat like reflexes, but having biked behind you while you were failing to use your hands, take my word for it when I say it does. You can’t really swerve to miss those potholes/children running into the street/oncoming car ’cause you are wrong lane of traffic ’cause you aren’t paying attention and just thinking about how cool you are/more potholes when your hands are in your pockets.

So please, let’s just all use those handlebars. Unless you are a member of the Flobots.

2. Don’t use a mobile device whilst biking

This is really a subset of number 1. To reiterate, your hands are for biking, not texting/calling/playing angry birds.

3. Turn off the iPod

This is one of the ones that really gets my goat. Take out those earbuds. Please. Ingrid Michaelson will be there waiting for you whenever you arrive at your destination. You are more vulnerable while biking than while driving, so it’s a little more necessary to stay on top of things and be aware of your surrounding. Your sense of hearing is what lets you know that some truck is about to fly through the uncontrolled intersection without stopping, or that there is a car behind you and maybe you should move over to the right side of the road before it just gives up and decides to bike over you instead of around you.

4. Don’t bike through campus.

Those bike racks are for you to park your bike and walk through campus like everyone else. If you are going to insist on biking through campus during class changes, get off the sidewalks and don’t go against traffic. And definitely don’t do #1, #2, and #3 while doing this. Though I’ve seen someone do that.

5. Move right, but not too far right.

Bikes go on the right side of the road. Not the left, not the middle, but the right. Now trust me, I know it’s awesome to fly down the middle of some empty street, and that’s fine as long as you are paying attention (by not doing number 3) and are willing to move over when another car comes. On the other hand, don’t go too far right as to endanger yourself. If there isn’t enough room for you, parked cars (if applicable), potholes, and a moving car to all be in the same lane at the same time, move over so the car behind you knows not to pass until you get to a safe spot to move over. There’s no reason for you to endanger yourself by squeezing between a parked car and a moving one while trying to avoid opening doors and gravel, but you don’t need to have the whole lane to yourself either.

Once, my husband saw two bikes riding abreast on a bridge each taking up one lane. Don’t do that either.

6. Learn the rules of the road for your city

Every city has different ordinances. In Spokane it was illegal to bike on the sidewalks, but here in Missoula, it’s not.

7. Learn your hand signals. 

Pointing to the right doesn’t equal “I’m turning right.” When I see someone pointing right I think “are they making a left hand turn signal and are confused or are they turning right?” Why do you signal with your left hand? Because other drivers are to your left. They might be able to see what you are doing with your right hand. As a mini refresher course: Left arm at a right angle equals turning right. Left arm straight out equals turning left.

8. One blinky light at night does not a visible cyclist make.

I’ve been guilty of this on more than one account. And I didn’t really think much of it until I got in a car and happened upon some cyclists biking down the street sans lights. It’ll scare the $#!% out of you as a driver when you realize, “Hullo! There’s a person there!” If you don’t want to get hit, light yourself up like a Christmas tree. Trust me, you are a lot less visible than you think you are. Your night time cyclist eyes have adjusted to the dark and so it’s easy to think that since you can see everything around you, everyone can see you. But cars get accustomed to only seeing what their headlights are shining on, which probably won’t include you until it’s almost too late. So head lamps, reflective clothing, or even actual Christmas tree lights, whatever you have to do to light yourself up like it’s the fourth of July.

Better yet, be like the guy I see biking to work occasionally wearing this:

9. Bike like you are driving a car.

So everyone should respect us bikers because you know, we are awesome and saving the world and all. So naturally the world should just yield to us and make way. The truth is most people haven’t seen the light and so that’s just not what happens. So we are left doing what we are supposed to be doing anyway, following the rules of the road.

Biking like you’re driving a car is probably the most important thing you can do to save your behind while biking. Drivers freak out when they see bikes cause they have no idea what that bike is about to do. Are they suddenly going to swerve? Leave the sidewalk and enter the road mid-block? Are they going to go through that stop light? I HAVE NO IDEA!!! And so they freak out and start sweating bullets and drive nervously in your blind spot for the next few blocks praying that they don’t kill you.

Do cars do this every time they see another car? Of course not. That’s because we have a reasonable expectation of what cars will do. They will follow the rules of the road (with some exceptions like speeding) but in general they don’t just suddenly decide to squeeze into another cars lane, go the wrong way on a one way, or drive up onto the sidewalk. I mean, I’m sure it’s happened but you don’t drive around expecting it. Where as with a bike, you do seeing as how we’re all biking around like a bunch of idiots, thereby destroying our credibility and making it more dangerous for ourselves in the long run.

10. Wear a helmet.

Just do it. You don’t look that cool without one anyway. Plus, when you use a helmet you can carry it around with you when you get off the bike so everyone knows you were cool enough to bike there. I mean seriously. You bike to work one day and unless people notice that you “happen” forgot to roll down your pant leg, no one will know you biked. If they see that helmet on your desk all day, they will think “wow, that person is infinitely cooler than me because they biked. Damn.”

*Split infinitives are no longer considered incorrect grammar according to the Chicago Manual of Style. This world is going to pot.


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Oh this wonderful time of year. I love Bike to Work Week. And not because of helping the environment, or being healthier, or any of those reasons. No. Because of the free coffee.

Various places around town are giving away free coffee one day this week to encourage people to bike to work. It’s like getting paid to do something you would be doing anyway. Granted, I didn’t get back on my bike until last week, in part because I knew BTW was coming up. In my defense, this is the forecast for the week:
Sunday: High 51
Monday: High 62
Tuesday: High 63
Wednesday: High 46
Thursday: High 39
Friday: High 45
Saturday: High 49
Lows in the 20s and 30s, chance of snow and rain Tuesday-Saturday.
Anyhow, I am enjoying my free bagel and coffee from Bagels on Broadway. And figuring, if spring never comes, summer eventually will.
P.S. Yes, that is Spokane’s BTW logo, but its better looking that Missoula’s.

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>Bikes and basketball

>So I won the NCAA Tournament Bracket pool we did. $55. Not too shabby, eh? GO TARHEELS!

And with my winnings I bought a bike!

A $25 beater. Actually, it’s not that bad. It needs new tires, tape on the handlebars, some oil and a little love but its in pretty good shape. It’s a women’s Schwinn World. Probably at least 15 years old. So I’m planning on spending the weekend fixing up the bike, because luckily (and suddenly) the weather has turned…

into Spring! So maybe we got a couple of inches of snow last week. I must thank Spokane for giving me a true taste of an Inland Northwest winter. I would’ve hated to spend a year on the other side of the country and miss the snowiest winter on record. There is still a pile of snow in our playground.

I’m turning into a Spokanite. In winter, Spokanites complain about the winter and in spring, summer, and fall they talk about about bad the winter was. So moving on…spring so far seems lovely. Time to start planting our preschool garden! More on that when we’ve gotten in started.


Do something to change the world: Enjoy spring and take a bike ride!

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>So funny story.

On the way to write this blog, I flew over the handle bars of my bike and smacked my face into the ground.


A slightly more fun biking story:

This weekend, Brian (housemate) and went on a 60 mile bike ride from Cle Elum to Yakima. Cle Elum sits at the foothills of the Cascades and Yakima is in some pretty significant desert land. The bike ride was to raise money for a town in El Salvador whose water pump broke. We stayed at the JV house in Yakima and had a great time. About 30 people were on the ride and it took most of the day on Saturday. It ended with a fiesta and an early night. (After leaving at 6am, I was BEAT). The scenery was great though. Eastern Wash is like nothing I’ve seen. Dry, dry, dry! Rolling hills without any trees or signs of life. It’s starting to grow on me.

In other news:

I got my background check back. So now I can be left alone with the kiddies. Which means my days are now filled with running around filling in classrooms when teachers are gone. We are also working on a gardening grant and a dinner night with the families. So things are looking up at St. Anne’s.

I’m off to a poetry slam. Never been to one, but there is a first for everything!

Other West/East coast differences:

Grid cities
Espresso stands everywhere.

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>More biking adventures.

Sunday was the first annual Spokefest, a bike ride geared (pun!) towards non-bike enthusiasts. The participation fee $7.50 (!) included a pancake breakfast, the ride, aid, all the fig newtons you could eat, and a t-shirt. I think the cup of coffee alone was worth $7.50 at 7:00am, but getting a free bike tune-up was priceless. Okay, so maybe the mechanic said my bike needed about $60 worth of work. Pssh.

The ride went along the river to Riverside State Park. It was really a beautiful day. Low 70s, sun shining (not that it doesn’t ever shine in Spokane; I think I’ve yet to see an overcast day). The course wasn’t too hilly, but a decent 21 mile workout. Kelly, John, and I came in with the stragglers after spending a good half hour listening to a bluegrass band at one of the last aid stations, while looking out over the Spokane River. Twas wonderful!

Work, admittedly, is less than exciting, but that is balanced by the wonderful community I’ve found in Spokane. My house is incredibly supportive, which makes it all worthwhile.

So the other night, Alyssa lead spirituality night and asked us to reflect on “what is love?” This was my answer, which I shared with the house and they seemed to like it:

One hundred hands hugs given, thirty-seven hands held. Wiping noses – is this love? Love is patient, love is kind — I am not. I know what love does: it rewrites the social order, sees as God sees, heals wounds, gives hope. I do not know what love is, but I know that it is that which makes life worthwhile. Love is free, and love is good. Love is holy and pure and true. God is love, and he lets us love. And we love imprefectly and impurely and we screw it up. But we are not asked to stop, we are only asked to love again.

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