All the Road’s A-Rage, and We Are Merely Cyclists

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that riding a bicycle on urban streets is a risky proposition in most cities in America. In my city, Austin, Texas, we have a decent amount of bicycle infrastructure. Better than some, worse than others. Amsterdam it’s not, and we still have to contend with all manner of things that could drive one to drink. Number one is drunk or otherwise distracted drivers. And a lot of those people aren’t swigging booze, they’re guzzling down the rage-ahol. And sometimes when things go badly, we cyclists get plenty angry, too. To quote the original Dr. Bruce Banner to the reporter Jack“Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

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The Art of Taking the Lane on a Bicycle

“Get yo’ bitch ass offa the road!” yelled the guy in the truck at me. That’s because I was in the middle of the narrow car lane, since there was no room for cars to safely pass me a bike lane or alternative road, and the sidewalks suck. I was in Southeast Austin, Texas in a neighborhood called Govalle (a Swedish, not Spanish word). It’s a less wealthy part of town near the airport that billionaire Elon Musk is transforming with a huge Tesla manufacturing plant. (Teslas are still cars, and they still pollute, albeit less than a standard gas engine car. And those lithium batteries are hugely wasteful to make, even if recycled.) Anyway, it’s a car-centric neighborhood. Traffic wasn’t heavy, so I chose to take the lane — which is completely legal in Texas. Anyway, it was not a pleasant interaction and it got me thinking about how and when to take the lane.

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Come to the Dark Side, Dude: Where’s My Car?

Sixteen years ago, on January 25, 2005, the car I was driving was hit by a truck and was damaged beyond reasonable repair. In the ensuing years, I made do with taking the bus, walking, and bicycling. In fact, I had lived without a car on and off for many years. A whole decade passed before I got serious about cycling; in January of 2015, I began riding longer distances, charity rides, and the like. A year later I had a smart phone, Strava, and a better bicycle. That journey led me to travel the equivalent of around the equator, plus another 1,790 miles as of today (26,691 total). Normally in the space you would find a blog post about my 16th year being car-free, or at least car-light (because I borrowed them). For two reasons, you won’t read that post.

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Someone Just Threw a Firecracker at Me on My Bicycle

Yes, you read that right. I was biking, and some poor, misguided soul, correction, a major assclown in a car slowed down to throw a firecracker at my head. But that wasn’t all. The firecracker throwing happened after a guy in a truck sped through the turn at a red light without yielding in front me, which could have resulted in major pain or death were I not such a defensive rider and excellent bike handler. But shortly thereafter I came upon his shop where his loose barking dogs came at me. Usually my evening bike rides aren’t as eventful. This one saved all the excitement until the last 20 minutes. Let’s go to my Strava description.

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2019 World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Traffic Violence

This somber event first was commemorated in the United Kingdom in 1995, later expanding to other countries. Here in Austin, Texas, USA, those who died in the past year in cars, on bikes, or on foot, are remembered with speeches, flowers, a silent walk and exhortations to stop the epidemic of car-nage. Despite a very sore knee, I made my way downtown to join the 50 or so participants, pay my respects to the 70+ people who died since last November, and hope that I’m not on the list next year. While “only” three bicyclists died, that’s still three too many. Read their stories here: Anothony Diaz, Jessica Saathoff and Anthony Williams.

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Car-Free Dude Drives Borrowed Automobile, Doesn’t Die

Yes, you read that correctly: A Dude is driving an infernal combustion pollution-mobile for a while. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but it’s required for a job, so I’m going with the flow. However, my bicycle mileage is suffering greatly. My wallet on the other hand, which has been starved for quite some time while I wrote and now edit my book, is enjoying the influx of filthy lucre. I haven’t planted any trees to offset my carbon footprint, but my time without a car has earned me a fair bit of good karma. (See 14 Years Not a Slave to Cars.) But it’s still a dilemma, one that my little blog isn’t going to solve.

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I Think I May Have Just Accidentally* Founded a Neighborhood Bike Gang

(* on purpose) I posted this on Next Door tonight in response to yet another barrage of attacks on bike lanes on a street called Loyola Lane in Austin, Texas. I couldn’t resist sharing it verbatim with my blog readers. My previous two posts are here and here. I hope you like them all. If you’re in Austin, Texas and wanna join the gang (we’re nonviolent), let me know. Contact me via the About page.

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The Next Door App Bike Haters Are at It Again

Every so often someone — always a car driver — gets on the neighborhood app called Next Door to bitch about bicyclists or biking infrastructure the City of Austin has installed. The latest is about some plastic bollards that make a semi-protected bike lane, narrower car lanes and additional concrete that is meant to be traffic-calming. It’s in what was designed to be a high-density, pedestrian and bike-friendly neighborhood. Named Mueller, after the former airport upon which it sits, it’s generally a safe area to bike. Except when you read what the aggressively bike-hating people are posting in Next Door. I wrote a previous post on this in January 2018. Now the haters are back, so of course I have a few choice words. (Of love – tough love.)

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Study Says Painted Bike Lanes Aren’t Enough; Two Close Calls in Two Days Confirm It

The study, done by Monash University of cyclists in Victoria, Australia, found that painted bike lanes do not deter car drivers from coming too close to bicycles. And people ride their bikes less when they do not feel safe. The answer is clear: bike lanes must be protected in order to create true safety for bike riders.

Here in Austin, Texas, as in many places around the United States, we’re lucky if we even get those white lines. Which we now know do not work well enough. Nearly getting hit by cars while I was in the bike lane twice in the last two makes this a hot topic for me, one that I’m hot under the collar about. Why? Because I spoke to both drivers, and they’re responses were infuriating. Come on inside this post and I’ll tell you about it.

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Some Downsides of the Car-Free Lifestyle

In my fourth annual post about living without a car, 14 Years Not a Slave to Cars, I talked about the obvious benefits of riding a bike and not having a car. Of course there’s helping the environment, getting exercise and Vitamin D, and getting to write blog posts that are read and celebrated by 10’s of people around the world. But there are downsides, too. Let’s talk about it!

NOTE 1: If you clicked on, read or liked my Southern Walnut Creek post, please feel free to do so again. I accidentally duplicated it so removed the post.

NOTE 2: You may have seen that sometimes I’m scheduling posts for early on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. Normally I post late Monday, Wednesday or Friday. But I think I may be losing a few potential viewers the latter way, so I’m trying the former. What are your thoughts about the schedule? Please let me know in a comment.

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