Wednesday, November 30

Don't Ride in Lightning Storms

Jeep after Getting Struck by Lightning While Parked in a Parking Lot in Dallas, Texas
The photo shows why it isn't good to be out and about during a lightning storm. It's not really a good idea, even if you are in a car, especially if the car doesn't have a metal roof. The Jeep not only got damaged a lot, but the vehicles on both sides got burned as well. Luckily, I don't have any photos of cyclists who were struck by lightning while riding during a storm.

If you aren't sure where the lightning might be, there's an app for that. Personally, I favor "Boltmeter," as discussed here.

Tuesday, October 18

Sympathy for the Motorist

Whilst some cyclists might entitle this post "Sympathy for the Devil," we should all remember that the traffic engineers sometimes make things needlessly complicated for all road users. While I'm not generally a fan of taxpayer-subsidized car storage (free, on-street parking), signage such as above gets my sympathy. Mostly, such signage doesn't concern cyclists.

Presuming that the motorist actually KNOWS whether he/she is facing north or south when looking at the sign combination above, it still requires a bit of thought to realize where one is allowed to park and where one is not. Hopefully, most motorists would realize what day of the week it is and that parking is not allowed next to fire hydrants or in front of driveways in any event. I'm not sure why they allow parking anywhere along this road. That'd certainly make things simpler - "NO PARKING." Still, such signs make it clear why sometimes motorists stop in the middle of the road, making us wonder what they are thinking...

Thursday, September 22

Reconsidering Electric Bikes

Over time, I’ve been somewhat ambivalent about electric bikes. Doing a search, I noted them here and here. While I’ve never gotten enthusiastic about buying one, neither have I condemned them as a new form of “Spawn of Satan.” Lately, however, my opinion has been getting more strongly formed. Now, I’m strongly in favor of electric bikes, unless I’m against them. Either way, I’m less neutral. You see, this summer, a company started renting electric bikes in Ocean Shores, Washington.

On busy weekends, these guys might have a dozen or so electric bikes rented out at one time. The bikes “look like beach cruiser” bikes. However, they go LOTS faster. What makes me less ambivalent is that I notice the tourists that rent these things seem FAR MORE likely to act like they are operating a vehicle than the tourists that rent human-only-powered bikes. Commonly, the electric bike tourists control their lane rather than hugging the RH extreme of the roadway. Yup, they seem to pretty much ride in a manner that approximates "the line of sweetness." It makes me wonder since these people have not been through any sort of bike ed classes. They just feel comfortable using their legal rights to a “narrow” lane instead of hugging the road edge. I also have not seem them riding (illegally) the city sidewalks, also like a lot of the human-powered bikes. All of this SHOULD be goodness for those of us (well, at least ONE of us) here in Ocean Shores that operate using sound traffic principles. If that proves to be the case, there’s an upside to electric bikes that might help all other cyclists, and particularly be helpful in conditioning motorists to expect safe bike operation. Hurrah for electric bikes!!!!!

OTOH, like a lot of other small towns, one should remember that the government people of Ocean Shores expect bikes to operate at the EXTREME RIGHT of any road, as documented here. It’s the typical “from behind a windshield” bias against non-motorized road users, codified in a "for now" fuzzy manner. Should they decide to make new draconian ordinances, that might hurt cyclists that prefer to ride in accord with generally accepted “best practices.”

What will transpire? That determines whether I’m STRONGLY in favor of, or opposed to, electric bikes. I suspect that any stupid laws that the city might consider will, as their current cycling laws are, be almost universally ignored, in which case, I repeat “Hurrah for electric bikes!!!” Who’d have thought electric bikes might be a force for equitable treatment of all cyclists?

Wednesday, August 31

First Time for Everything

Just when you think you've seen pretty much everything you can see from a bike, something new pops up. This morning, I was passed by a motorist as I rode to the espresso stand. What was unique was that I was passed as I came to a stop at a stop sign. In the motorist's defense, he DID make a full lane change to pass me at the stop sign. After my stop, the motorist was looking a little bit confused and I wasn't sure about the stop line protocol. Having stopped first, I probably had the right of way, but I didn't feel real good about making a left turn to the right of a salmon motorist even IF I was in the proper position. Luckily, the guy accelerated and removed the conflict.

What would YOU have done? No, I didn't think to get the license number of the white Toyota. Myself, it seems odd to pass somebody AT a stop sign...

Monday, August 29

Flag Follies in Ocean Shores

We're Nearly as "Hip" as Seattle Here in Ocean Shores!
Apparently, one of the new trends in street crossings are flags. I’ve seen a few in Seattle popping up, and now we’ve got flags in Ocean Shores. They’re at the very same roundabout I’ve written about here and here.

Flags Piling Up
The idea of these flags is that pedestrians will take them and wave them in order to avoid getting run over by careless motorists. In that regard, they are a low cost alternative to various beg button systems and they’re probably effective for pedestrians, crossing from either the first or second photo. I’m not sure what a pedestrian is supposed to do when coming upon a sign (black letters on a white background being “regulatory”) like that in the third photo. Fortunately, most pedestrians (and motorists) are blissfully unaware of the yellow versus white background rules that cycling advocates blather about interminably.

The flags, however, are a bit problematic for cyclists. If you’ll recall from my FIRST OS roundabout post, their bike lane directs unaware cyclists to ride on the sidewalk (possibly illegally), where they’re then expected to cross across four lanes of roundabout traffic, back on to the sidewalk at LEAST once, before getting dumped back into another bike lane or onto a street without any guidance at all. Apparently, the traffic people did not realize this is FAR more dangerous than simply having cyclists operate as traffic through the roundabout since even a SLOW cyclist is going twice as fast as any pedestrian. I’m also not sure how they figured how a passing cyclist was supposed to grab a “take it to make it” flag as he/she passed by in a situation where he/she was at FAR greater risk than any pedestrian.

This was brought to the front of my mind yesterday as I saw a four seat, four wheel rental pedal car first go the wrong way down the street and then blissfully go through two successive crosswalks. If the peoples’ eyes driving the pedalcar were any guide, they didn’t look at either crosswalk. Can you say “accident waiting to happen?”

 Myself, I’ll continue to ignore the dimbulb attempts at directing me to do stupid things on my bike until/unless they come up with something that actually does anything more than check off some “complete streets” fantasy that comes from behind a windshield. In the defense of the traffic engineers, however, the flags probably DO help pedestrians better than doing nothing, though I’ve not heard of anybody actually getting hurt at the roundabout. Perhaps a couple of pedestrians got scared by tourists that did not understand how the roundabout works?

Lonely Flagless Stand With Sign Advising "Take it to Make It" - Is This a Serious Danger?