Tuesday, August 23

Roundabout Tourists

Google Maps Shot Looking Down on the Ocean Shores Roundabout. North is at Top of the Photo

Previously, here, I wrote about the Ocean Shores Roundabout. I noted that the painted bike facilities, if followed, would put cyclists into crossing conflict with lawfully operating motorists and might even put cyclists in violation with the OS Municipal Code. Myself, I simply operate my bicycle pretty much as any locals would in their motor vehicles. Over time, anybody in Ocean Shores routinely learns the rules of the roundabout and knows where to watch in order to avoid conflicts. My speed through the roundabout is not much different than anybody else’s – there is a 15MPH posted speed limit and few motorists try to go faster.

On occasion, however, there is a problem with my strategy. Mostly, these problems pop up when there are LOTS of tourists in town. Tourists, you see, don’t understand the roundabout or its rules. When there are only a FEW tourists, they mostly just watch and see what everybody else does, and do the same. If they’re coming into town, they typically turn right in order to get to their hotel/motel. When there LOTS, however, they start trying to drive around town and I’ve experienced trouble from this, both when on my bike and when I motored through the roundabout.

The basic principle of the Ocean Shores Roundabout is that, entering the roundabout, you do so from the LEFT lane if you intend to turn left or make a U turn. That limits crossing conflict to the point of roundabout entry, when you are yielding to any traffic already in the roundabout. Three of the street exits from the roundabout are four-lane, median separated streets, and the fourth is a two-lane street. The last exit is where the problems mostly occur.

The problems occur in two ways. The first problem is that tourists entering from the north don’t realize that they are supposed to be in the left lane if they want to turn left. While in the roundabout, they suddenly make a lane shift to the left. As you can imagine, it can be a little disconcerting (whether on a bike or in a car), to suddenly see a motorist shifting into YOUR lane. To minimize this, on weekends with a lot of tourist traffic, I ride closer to the right side of the left lane, and faster than usual. I also watch the wheels of any nearby motor vehicles for the “oops, I’m in the wrong lane” reaction that roundabout novices often experience. That gives me time and space to move over if the adjacent motorist wheels start moving left. If the motorist indulges his/her “MUST PASS” impulse, I point at the exit, which seems to snap them out of their confusion. This is worst at the aforementioned exit because both roundabout exit lanes merge. At other exits, I can always stay in the left lane until the conflict evaporates. At worst, that’d involve a second trip around the roundabout.

The second problem is that many tourists don’t seem to understand that traffic already IN the roundabout has the right of way over traffic wanting to enter it. That is compounded for cyclists since we simply aren’t as obvious as an ambulance flashing its lights. In such cases, when I see vehicle wheels looking like they might sprint forward into the roundabout prematurely, I hold my right hand up, with the palm facing the prospective offender. It isn’t any sort of official or proper signal, but it seems to work and nobody has yet actually violated my right of way. If someone DID simply charge into the roundabout, I guess I’d have to decide whether to change lanes, brake, or accelerate. Sometimes cycling in traffic DOES benefit from some extra speed, though this is rather the exception than the rule.

Actually, roundabouts, even though they aren’t perfect, are fun and safe for cyclists that understand how to operate in accord with general traffic principles. Nobody’s going too fast and you’ve got a lot more lane room about you when you’re on a bike. Truck drivers are probably not so fond of the Ocean Shores Roundabout.

Southbound Tourists Apparently Don't Notice this Sign SAYING "Left Lane if You Want to Turn Left"

Sunday, August 7

Bad Apple or Bad Arkel?

At First Glance, Arkel "Map Cover" Looks Delightfully Obsolete
For quite a while now, I’ve had an Arkel “Large” Handlebar bag. Similarly, for quite a while, I’ve had an Apple iPad. Specifically, it’s an iPad2. A couple of days ago, it occurred to me that the somewhat obsolescent iPad might fit into the otherwise obsolescent map container on the Arkel bag. Well, as you can see from the photos, the two simply will NOT go together. An iPad Mini would fit into the Arkel, but even the newer iPad Air is just too big. I guess that if I want a bike-mounted navigation module, I’d have to stick with an iPad Mini size. Not that I really have felt a burning need for something of that sort. For music, even a “phablet” phone is plenty small enough to fit inside the waterproof container.

My first inclination was to debit Apple as making their iPad just a bit too big. BAD Apple. However, further investigation revealed that the iPad is smaller than a standard piece of letter paper. What’s more, even letter paper is a little too wide to fit into the Arkel map container without folding.

Perhaps the oddball size of the Arkel container is a Canadian thing.* Their metric fetish might mean they avoid standard size letter paper. Perhaps Apple should have made sure their iPad fit inside an Arkel Handlebar Bag transparent holder. Either way, I’m now in discussions with my favorite daughters about an iPad2 versus iPad Mini swap that’d be more handy for carriage to the nearby library than for any GPS navigation use. Still a bike with an integrated GPS seems oddly attractive…

Nope, a Full-Size iPad is Won't Fit in "Landscape" Orientation - Though it is Close Enough that Somebody Could Have Adapted

Nope, A Full-Size iPad Won't Fit in "Portrait" Orientation
*Yesterday, at our Jaguar Club concours d'elegance, I said to one of our Canadian entrants, "Can you tell me something about Canada?" When he answered affirmatively, soon he assured me that Canadians used the same size letter paper as we Southern Imperialists and not some frenchified size or even a UK size. It is good to hear the the Canadians DO follow sanity beyond how they spell "tire" (NOT tyre). Informed that Arkel is based in Quebec, he allowed that all bets might be off since THOSE people could be assumed to do all manner of odd things.

Thursday, July 28

Global Warming From Behind a Windshield

Advice From Motorists Supposes YOU Also Motor
Recently, I’ve noticed two attempts at “being green” from sources that clearly seem to think that driving some sort of a motor vehicle to get things such as groceries is the only option people have. Not considering that much of the world still considers motoring as a luxury, it also neglects the obvious non-motorized way to get groceries.

Conveniently enough, Ocean Shores unintentionally makes it really simple to walk or ride a bike to get groceries or hardware, though few take advantage of the opportunity. Myself, I shop often or less often, combined with my daily rides to the local espresso stand. Today, I also stopped by the post office to pick up the weekly ads. However, I digress.

ONE of the “behind the windshield” pieces of advice came from a book whose author has a lot of good ideas in other areas of her book, entitled GORGEOUSLY GREEN. In it, the author states (on page 127):

“Trying to shop to fit into the ‘twelve items or less line,’ I’ll even shed a few items… Problem is, this type of shopping uses more gas, time, and tailpipe emissions, since you need to go to the store more often. Instead of aiming to get out of the store fast, do a massive shop in one session.” Later on, she states “At least half of the pollution that comes from transporting your food is from your drive to the store.”
I guess that might be credible if the only option we had was to DRIVE to the store. Cycling makes things an entirely different proposition. Instead of a “massive shop,” the criteria is “how much do I feel like carrying home for our near-term meals and what are the sales.” While I HAVE done a massive shop using our bike trailer during a really good "as long as things last" sale, that’s the exception rather than the rule. Mostly, I fill up a small backpack. When I go into Aberdeen, I use a bit larger backpack; originally designed for snowboarders.

The SECOND “behind the windshield” piece of advice came from the North Texas Clean Air people, who ignored the possibility of people using non-motorized means of getting their groceries when they stated via an email:

“Life can get so busy sometimes that it can be difficult to find time to plan a healthy meal and go grocery shopping. Luckily, with the growing popularity of online shopping, meal planning and grocery shopping can be a lot easier for everyone. There are many companies that offer different food delivery services. From grocery delivery service to meal-kit delivery service to ‘anything you want’ delivery apps, getting what you need without going anywhere is as simple as clicking a button.

“Ordering these services actually does more than just save you time and effort, it helps the environment. New research from the Oregon Department of Transportation shows that these delivery services can cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least half. The vehicles that are used to deliver your items are combining trips to multiple households and routing their routes more efficiently. Not only are these cluster-routed delivery services more convenient and time efficient than you going out of your way to go to the store, but they are actually helping our air quality.”

I suppose that might be true if you weren’t merely stopping to get groceries as a short side trip to your morning bicycle espresso run. The vehicle I use to deliver my items uses only the CO2 I exhale, which really isn’t much more than I’d exhale watching the morning news. The coolest aspect is that by the time I get back, I’m fully awake and ready for another beautiful day. No windshield required…

Tuesday, July 26

Bike Lesson – Another Reason(s) to Carry a Good Lock

Bike Lock Kept the Rear Wheel From Bouncing Out of a Short Bus Bike Carrier
Actually, based on my post count, this is bike lesson number 968. Some of those I have attempted to pass along from long experience and learning from others. Others have been learned by me by experience I gained without any explicit attempt to do so. Put this one in the second category.

To make a long story less so, this morning I was asked by the motoring part of the family to take the family SUV in to Aberdeen for some fixing. It seems that at least the rear differential was hemorrhaging oil from one or more seals. I brought my wife’s bike along, figuring to visit the local Aberdeen Library, do some grocery shopping, and then catching the bus back to Ocean Shores.

However, it seems that the “best laid plans…” don’t always work out. Unlike every other time I’ve taken a bike on a Gray’s Harbor Transit bus, this time, the bike was a bit longer than the bus bike rack. The driver informed me that the rear wheel would pop out during the highway trip to Ocean Shores. My first inclination was to inquire as to whether I could bring the bus on board, but I imagine I’d have been met with a curt “no.” Quickly thinking, I suggested I had a lock that could lock that back wheel to the bike carrier and make things safe for one and all. The driver said to go ahead and, in a jiffy, I locked the rear wheel tightly enough to guarantee that if the bike DID bounce off on the highway trip to Ocean Shores, that at least the rear wheel would still be aboard.

As you may see from the photo (taken upon arrival in OS) at the top of this post, the bike arrived safe and sound. John Romeo Alpha may put sad little monkey cards on bikes improperly locked, but I think he would not have dared to run out in front of the bus to tag my bike.

For the record, the photo I didn’t take would have showed the same bike PROPERLY locked for theft resistance at the Aberdeen Safeway bike rack. The U lock attached the frame and rear wheel to the rack, while the cable secured the front wheel to the lock. That MIGHT represent still another bike locking lesson – it might be MORE important to make sure your bike is securely locked at any location with needle disposal stations than in locations without same. That’s just a guess on my part since I have no personal first-hand evidence either way.

Friday, July 22

Lazy Days of Summer

My Kids Read this Blog!
There's been stuff going on. I've thought many times about making a new post. Among other topics, I've got one I've been mulling around about cycling and global warming. That one won't go away and will probably become a new post fairly soon, at least if I check a certain book back out of the library soon so I can get my quote absolutely correct.

Catching up, I was reminded on Father's Day that my kids really do pay attention, on occasion, to the blatherings of their father. In fact they gave me a coffee mug to prove it. It's shown at the top of this post.

Past posts on the topic may be seen here, here, and LOTS here