Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hot Weather What What??

It is regularly hitting 95 degrees here, so I think it is safe to say cold weather is out for a little while. One of the arguments against bicycles you hear a lot down here is that no one will ride them when its hot, implying that the majority of the year, bike lanes and other infrastructure will go unused, and therefore is a waste of money. This post is devoted to debunking that myth.




Anyone have any idea what he is riding? I saw them and they instantly reminded me of those exercise machines popular in the nineties.



I was pumping gas across the street so couldn't move, but you can still see the fearless cyclist in front of the liquor store.


From about two days ago. It was hoooootttttt.


Taking pictures without being a creeper 101....do it when their back is turned.


Two different embodiments of a cyclist. She was wearing the special gear, he...well the guy uniform of a polo and jeans. Boring clothing choices like that make me glad to be a girl. Moving on.


Taken from my car. Don't worry I was completely stopped. I don't like to count cyclists all kitted out, because I feel they would be out no matter what. However, it was close to downtown around five, so perhaps he rides home from work.



H-E-B parking lot over at Riverside. FULL.

Funny

Ironically, this is the only thing parked in our garage.

All of our cars are parked outside in the driveway.

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Place!

I recently moved into a different part of Austin. I am now off of Slaughter near Southpark Meadows. It's about as far south you can go, but were still pretty close to stuff, and near several bus stops. A big plus for my roommate who doesn't have a car. I like it because where I am Slaughter has bike lanes. I was pretty apprehensive about riding on them though because they aren't separated and the traffic moves pretty fast. I'm pretty satisfied with the location, Southpark has practically everything you could need for your daily life, with a bike lane all the way. Of course, the lanes aren't great and I've seen nobody use them. Most people ride on the sidewalk. I think though that if they are there, I should make an effort to use them unless they really are unsafe.



I rode west today on slaughter in an effort to get to the really nice H-E-B in the Circle C area. It proved too difficult though when I got to Mopac, as there is no provision for anything to get across other than a car, as you can see above. On my way there, the sidewalk suddenly ended. Thank god my bike is a hybrid.


As you can see, the sidewalk all of a sudden pops up again. That is why I laugh when people say you should ride on the sidewalk. In some places....there is none! Riding on the grass was not uncomfortable, but if I had a different bike it would've been. I could tell others had done some off-roading too, as the there was a slightly visible trail. I don't know why there is a driveway there, I guess someone backed out of building something.

The layout of Slaughter really baffles me. On one part you have some effort to accommodate cyclists, and then on the other end you make it as difficult as possible. Did it ever occur to them one might want to ride Slaughter from end to end? There are bike lanes in the Circle C neighborhood, I've seen them. The only thing I can think of is most of the cyclists there are of the lycra variety, and either stick to their own neighborhoods or strap their bike to their car and go somewhere else. 

Having been thwarted in going to the nice HEB, I went to the one right off of Manchaca. I managed to get into the left turn lane, but realized the sidewalk in front of the HEB was right there. So I did something slightly illegal and turned left in the crosswalk onto the sidewalk instead of turning onto Manchaca and trying to turn left again. I made sure no traffic was coming and I made it across in 3 seconds. Thoughts? I felt it was justified in that I was already in a vulnerable position and would be in another one when I need to turn left again into the HEB. There are those who say always follow the rules but sometimes I feel that isn't always the best choice in safety. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Drunk People Are the Best

Drunk people are like children in many ways. Their child like wonder makes them ask painfully obvious questions, or in the case of last night, awesomely stupid ones. I rode to 6th street to go out with some friends. Its a 30 minute or so from my apartment.  I wore a sparkly dress and heels, basically ready to kill. As I was texting my friends a drunk woman came by and asked "Why (How?) are you on a bike and looking so beautiful." Her friends, rightly embarrassed at her, shuffled her away. But I chuckled to myself. I don't know if she meant, "Why are you riding a bike when you're so hot you should be able to get someone to drive you." or if she was genuinely curious as to how I got from one place to the other without being a sweaty mess. It's not that hard. The weather was in the sixties, no humidity, and my hair was up, so no problems with it. I took my time and rested on the downhill parts when I could. Really, if you're willing to go into a bathroom in a bar on 6th,(scary, dirty places where grease and grime reside) being a little messy from a ride should be no problem.  should point out people don't usually just walk up to me and say I'm beautiful. Last night I must have just really brought it. A homeless lady complimented me too, so I gave her two dollars. I'm like alright, you said I was pretty you can eat tonight.

The best thing is that I literally parked right next to the bar my friends were at. No circling for a spot. No ten dollar charge to park in a garage. My feet were killing me at the end of the night but my bike was right there. On my way home, I passed maybe 4 cars. Going home at that time of night, drunk drivers are unfortunately a concern. Thankfully, the alleyways and bikeways I use are pretty secluded too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Urgh

To me there are very few absolutes in cycling. You should have lights. Agreed. A good lock. Agreed. An understanding of the rules of the road. Agreed. Everything else....up for debate. Wanna buy fancy panniers? Go right ahead, but don't say anything when all my crap is in two reusable HEB bags. Want a pantsclip? Fine, but my bike has fenders and a chainguard. Think I'm crazy for wearing high heels? Fine, but I'm too busy going about my daily life to give a shit.

Same goes for a helmet. I got chided today by some guy on my way to Target. "Where's your helmet?", he said. "Up your ass", I thought. I said simply, "I don't own one". The truth. I don't. Haven't felt the need to get one after reading about their utility. Not only that, but I don't ride the way many people do here in Austin. I have an upright bike. I can easily look back and my center of gravity is not much different than if I was walking. For reference, when I'm riding, I am higher up than a Mini Cooper. I ride slowly and deliberately. I don't do fancy tricks. All in all, I think I have less of a chance in getting into the kind of accidents helmets are designed to protect. I don't think I've ever fallen off a bike, even when I was little. Ok maybe once. I'll be upfront and say I don't have hard evidence. But then again, I'm right on par with those that advocate helmets to protect against car/bicycle collisions.

Don't act like a know it all if you've just popped out from behind a bush and think its OK because you have a fucking helmet on your head. I don't care if you want to wear a helmet. If it makes you feel safer or you're doing a sport go right ahead. I DON'T CARE. I'm tired of the helmet debate and I have better things to do than listen to your bullshit on the road.

Rant over. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

WTF?

I haven't been posting lately since I am trying desperately to finish my thesis and get the hell out of grad school. So first, it was in the fifties today, I really wanted to go on my bike, buuut I had homework. I'm also moving, so we'll see how that affects my biking, I'm really in a cyclist paradise at my current apartment.

Almost. A young man was killed on S. Lamar a couple of days ago. Riding at night, he was struck my a black SUV. They person then sped off, leaving his companion to call for help.

Its really tragic. I can't imagine having to witness a friend die. It makes me so mad there are people out there though, who will look at him and blame him because he had the misfortune to be cycling on the same street as someone with no conscience. There are plenty of people out there who say he was crazy for cycling at night in the first place, crazy for riding on the road, ignoring the fact that the person who struck him failed in their first duty on the road-not to kill.

Cycling on S. Lamar is not easy, I certainly wouldn't recommend for someone who is just beginning, mostly due to the fact you have to get used to hearing cars come close to you. Once you get passed that jumpiness, its like riding on any other street. It has bike lanes and I've seen plenty of people safely make the journey. I've done it myself several times. Where he was, if I'm remembering correctly, S. Lamar widens to accommodate its eventual merge with Hwy 360. Plenty of room. I have no evidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if the driver was drunk.

I disagree Lamar isn't wide enough to accommodate both cars and bikes, its a major north-south road with bike lines on long stretches. I also disagree riding on the sidewalk is the solution; that's what gets me the most on discussion on things like this. Sanctimonious cyclists say, "Oh well I always ride on the sidewalk, anyone who doesn't is just being reckless!" Thankfully, word is getting out that riding on the sidewalk is more dangerous, especially on roads like Lamar with a ton of intersections. It puts the blame on the cyclist if they get hit, and ignores the reality that you can get hit on the sidewalk too.

What will make us safe? I'm not totally sure, but I feel a change in the mindset of many people will be needed. A change I'm afraid, I won't see anytime soon.