In aircraft structure, "failsafe" means an alternate path, so that if the primary path fails, the structure can still take the design load. It's a fancy way to describe what most long-range commuters eventually develop. Alternate paths.
This post describes a location with four failsafe paths, covering almost any combination of traffic conditions and even reducing delay due to railroad traffic. The ability to discover and develop failsafe turns and routes is one thing that gives a commuter a time and safety edge over a "visiting" rider. Local knowledge.
The location, headed home along Katy, about to cross Denton Highway (Hwy 377) and West Keller Parkway, FM 1709. It's on the border between North Fort Worth and Keller. It's a slow route by car due to the backups. I, on the other hand, experience few delays because my lower top speed has led me to come from a direction that is unclogged.
The sequence starts, going southbound, on Katy towards the four-way stop (4WS) at Keller Hicks Rd. I make a left (primary path) - UNLESS there's a southbound train that blocks the primary. In that case, I take route FS2 which will take me to a bike path that has an underpass under the tracks. Delay avoided. Cleverly, if there's a train, it blocks traffic both ways on FM1709, making the usually difficult stop sign (SS) turn from Katy to 1709 a trivial pursuit.
Freight trains are, however, not the norm and I usually stick to the primary route. Turning right with the green on to Hwy 377 (or a free right when the NB 377 LH signal turns green), I'm on SB Hwy 377 with only a few motorists following my lead. Most of the time, I bear left and take the primary LH turn to Lorinne. Sometimes, NB Hwy 377 traffic clogs up the left turn lane. If this happens, instead of hauling butt to get over to the left lane, I'll delay the lane change and wind up in the open LH turn lane at FS1. If things are really nasty, I may even go down to FS3 and turn left onto FS1709, where I'll have my own personal left turn signal. Such is rare, however.
If all else fails, and all affected roads are parking lots, I can take FS4, get off the bike on the other side of the intersection, and become a pedestrian to walk to Lorinne. I rode through that parking lot east of 377 twice, and do not relish the notion of emulating a human pinball. FS3 and FS4 may eventually disappear due to lack of use. Primary and FS1 take care of things most of the time, with an occasional FS2.
This photo sequence completely misses one feature - the parking lot where the subject of this post went to, and from where many of the photos were shot. I must say, I clean forgot to take that shot, so you'll have to content yourself with the label that shows the lot's edge. I never go that way on the bike. It does serve nicely, however, as a spot to take these pictures from.
Anyway, while this all looks complex, having the primary and failsafe paths predefined makes things very easy for me and reduces the stress level of getting past this busy location to the point that I actually look forward to this short little snippet of the route home. Without sneaking forward or doing other than waiting my turn, I get through this location at least five minutes quicker on my bike than I do by car. Top speed isn't everything when you have your failsafe turns lined up. This location also happens to be where I discovered "the Land Rover Rule," which has nothing to do with how quickly you can get through an intersection.
"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings" - My old friend and Univ of Hawaii colleague Vic Stenger (Physics Dept), owner of the quote in the title of this post, passed on this Wednesday. So long, Vi...
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