Cycling Is Great for Your Health but Hazardous to Bikes
The sun is shining, there’s little wind on a crisp but warming winter’s day. I mount up my bike and my feet start pushing the pedals like a thousand times before. The legs are pumping as if through jello. My lungs are lit on fire; every breath burns. I’m going as fast as I can, but it feels like I’m barely moving. Looking around, none of my fellow riders are with me. But this time is different. I’m not in a race, leading or last place. I just have cedar fever. And I’m only on my way to a community clinic to sign up for health care, since Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) health insurance is prohibitively costly. And as if today’s natural air pollution wasn’t hard enough, I encountered another of bicyclists’ worst enemies: people who throw their glass bottles on the ground. A Dude Abikes calls them “glassholes.”
It’s not like there aren’t a dozen other hazards out there — bumps, sticks, other debris, pedestrians, runners, wheelchairs traveling, or cars parked, in the bike lane (see photos below) — that can literally throw you off your bike. But glass has a special place in my heart, because you’ve usually driven right through it before you see it. Or if you do see it in time, you have to swerve onto a sidewalk or into the car lane to not get a puncture. Either way, glass is a pain in my ass.
Lane Parker Is a Car Driver Who Just Can’t Even
Next in line for my compassionate vitriol today are car drivers who park in the bike lane. Even when it’s clearly marked “No Parking — Bike Lane” like it was here. A full six cars were in the way at the end of a bridge, which is very dangerous for someone coming from either direction at high speed on a bike. I dutifully reported it to 3-1-1 and even alerted the nearby apartment complex. Who knows if Austin Police Department did their job and had them ticketed or towed, but A Dude hopes so. Better infrastructure would prevent this, and I will try to make that so.
Previously I’ve included a photo of the “Bike Lane Ends” sign. I don’t have pictures of disappearing bike lanes today, because, well… they’re invisible. But I disdain them too.
A New Hope: Sidewalks That Have Taken Years to Appear Are Finally Here!
Sidewalks are no big deal, right? Wrong! These two photos show an area that has long been almost impassable. You either had to navigate alot of trees and bush, or walk in a very busy street. In fact, it’s right in front of some apartments and a day care center. Imagine all the close calls from young mothers with their kids in hand or strollers. No more!
This area is paid for with Proposition 1 bond election money. But I learned today from a very helpful staffer in my City Council member’s office that my district had the most need and received the most funding. But of 95 miles of sidewalks that need fixing, the bond only will cover 19. Can you believe that? And as for bike lanes, it’s a similar situation. Only priority areas, usually where there’s been a number of crashes, will have bike lanes installed, connected or fixed. It’s better, but it’s not good enough to really work and save lives. Not compared to other biking cities in the US, and certainly not to Europe. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Keep striving for perfect, though.
What do you do when you encounter glassholes, lane parkers and disappearing bike lanes?
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