Here and here, I talked about parking lots that I ride through on my route from home to work. With the ChipSeal Highway 287 thing, I’ll reveal that, at least one place along my route to work, I usually ride on a shoulder. What’s more, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I even discussed it with Chip, and I came away convinced he supports my right to ride on it in accordance with Texas Law. Actually, now that I think about it, given my current route to work, I could sound more dramatic to simply state that, on my route to work; I ride the shoulder at every possible opportunity. More to the point, just as Chip does on his rides, I make the choices that work in my riding circumstances, and I'd rather not be second guessed by others. It is my butt on the saddle.
In the photo, you can see the shoulder I ride on. It’s the only shoulder actually ON my 20 mile route to work (which is why I can say I ride on it at every opportunity). It is the shoulder of the northbound I-35W Service Road between Cabela’s and Westport Parkway, near Fort Worth Alliance Airport. It exists because there is a “right turn only” lane behind the photographer; facilitating entry into Cabela’s. In addition, a couple hundred yards back up the hill, there is a four way stop, so traffic coming down the hill is unlikely to drift onto that shoulder, having been woken up by the stop sign and the right turn lane. The stop also results in a debris-free shoulder. What’s more, the shoulder turns into a third traffic lane well before Westport. There are no driveways or crossing traffic anywhere. Off to the right is a large buffalo pasture. Anyway, there is little danger, whether I ride on the shoulder, or the right hand traffic lane. The left hand traffic lane is more hazardous (it would actually be legal for me to ride there since I’m usually the only one on this road), because traffic exiting I-35W can be merging into it at a high rate of speed. Anyway, my usual sequence is to turn right from Cabela’s, coast down the hill on the shoulder, making a head check shortly before the shoulder disappears into the new right lane. Shortly thereafter, I move left into the rightmost of the two hand left turn lanes as I approach Westport. I delay the leftward move until I can be sure I will not be endangered by people exiting I-35W. While it may seem odd, this overtaking traffic actually has the right of way over those they overtake. Some places emphasize this by posting “Yield to Ramp” signs. Basically, I treat the shoulder as just another traffic lane. Except on the rare occasions when trucks are parked on the shoulder, there is no discernable safety or other advantage to me to ride in that right hand traffic lane. On the other hand, I can’t imagine anyone would be terribly upset to actually see me riding in that right hand traffic lane, because I rarely see motorists in ANY of the lanes other than those exiting from I-35W. By the time those motorists see me; I am usually in the middle lane, looking left, and waiting for the ramp traffic to sweep by before changing into that left turn lane. This is a location I use extra caution with my left turn signal, because I do not want a motorist, flying down that ramp, to alter his/her course or actions. I flip the left turn signal out ONLY after the motorist has committed to an intended course of action (left, straight, right). Then we communicate so each of us get where we want to go with no fuss or muss.
Yes, I agree that riding shoulders is not something that is wise in the abstract, but like many "all or nothing" positions, I think the best policy really depends on circumstances. What's more, I believe the Texas Legislature agrees with me, which is why they used "may" in their wording about cyclists and shoulders. Some cop wants to charge reckless driving against ChipSeal for NOT using the shoulder. I'll oppose that strongly, and some might claim I oppose it beyond any rational point. Some ideologue that wants to attack me FOR using the shoulder, I'll oppose that too. Either way, I want to hear the facts and data that say why I am wrong, and they are right. This is a country that was purposely set up to support minorities and avoid extremes. I like that. And THAT is part of the point of THIS post. Yeah, I DO stand with Chip, and I think he stands with me as well.
Subject Matter Mostly it's about local transportation cycling, as it exists in the here and now. It's got a smattering of other gratuitous toy recreation thrown in to keep y'all a little off balance. For those that don't know me, toy recreation means English & Italian cars, aircraft - and downhill skiing.