Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's not me, it's you

According to a AAA report, George Carlin (and my grandfather) were right.  No one knows how to drive except me.   Again, I am getting information from the Columbus Dispatch.  If you doubt that this is real, take a look at the comments in the "Hot Issue" area.  Look at all of the people who claim, "I can talk on my cell phone while driving without a problem.  It's everyone who is the problem."

Or, if you do not feel like clicking, look at the chart to the left.  (Sorry about the quality.)   75% of people feel they are more careful than anyone else on the road.  I had pictures of Lake Wobegon in my head when I read that.  

I am happy to see my personal pet peeve addressed.  Fifty percent of people admit to speeding up to beat a red light.  At the same time, 70% admit it is dangerous.  At a minimum, 20% of people are saying, "screw being safe.  I have to be first."

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Monday, April 28, 2008


Does anyone else ride over the arrows painted on the road and pretend you are in some sort of video game?  You know the kind... where you get hyperspeed when you hit the arrows.

No?  Really?  Carry on then.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Road ID Review

About a week ago, my wife called me and asked that I pick up some milk on my way home.  When arrived home without the milk, she went through the roof.  Not because of the milk, but because of my reason.  I had left my wallet at home.  

She "strongly suggested" that I find some sort of ID to wear while I am on the bike.  (If you are married, you already know that there is very little difference between something being strongly suggested and being forced to do something.)  I have seen the link to Road ID on several sites, so I decided to check it out.

I looked around and ended up ordering one.  It showed up in the mail today.  I have to say that it is everything it claims to be.  I ordered the Fixx ID, which is the dog tag version. 

The nice thing about this is you can order a picture on the opposite side of the ID.  I looked at all of the biking ones, and they were all racers.  I'm not a racer, so I was not interested in that.  I would have loved to see a touring cyclist loaded with panniers humping it up a hill.  

Instead, I picked this graphic, titled "Location Earth."  I guess this is supposed to help me find my way back home if I am ever abducted by little green men.  

I'll be honest, I am a little worried about wearing this around my neck.  If an alien knows that we have kicked Pluto out of the list of planets and misreads this, I may end up on a different planet.  

One of the nice things about Road ID is that they offer coupons to whoever orders from them.  Here's my Road ID coupon:


It's only good for 20 uses until 5/23/08.  I cannot promise that it will work for you.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

More is caught than is taught

I noticed a little change at school this week.  On Monday, I rode my bike to school.  On Tuesday, the recess monitors and I rode our bikes to school.  Today, the recess monitors, three students and I rode our bikes to school.  

My classroom is starting to look like a bike corral.  

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

According to the Dispatch...

This morning I walked into school and this article was brought up by the first three people I ran into. They cited it as an example why I should not ride. I know, it is because they care about me. The truth is, there are tensions between cyclists and motorists. The argument is about as old as they come. Cyclists want motorists to respect their place on the road and be safe. Motorists want cyclists off the road because getting to the red light first is more important than the life of a human being.

(Yeah, I am biased.)

While I thought the article was mostly fair, there are some quotes I take issue with. For example:

"I see motor-vehicle operators who treat bicyclists without any respect, and I have seen bicyclists do stupid things and violate the rules of the road."

The fact that cyclists violate the rules of the road is always one of the reasons people use to explain why cyclists should be off the roads. While I do not advocate running red lights, breezing through stop signs, passing on the right at stop lights, cutting through parking lots or anything else, violating the law is never used as a reason why cars should not be on the road.

Try this: Come to the intersection of... hell, you can do this at any intersection in any city... and count the cars that run through the barely red lights. Count the cars that turn right on red who do not come to a complete stop.

It's OK when a car does it, but when a bicyclist rides through a red light we should hate all of them. That makes a ton of sense.

"But be considerate of the other drivers who are going to be able to go faster than you. You don't gain anything from slowing them down."

I do gain something by slowing down traffic. Safety. My commute to work takes me over three overpasses. I am amazed at the people who will cross the center line not knowing if a car is approaching. I know what will happen if there is an oncoming car. The passing car will swerve back into the lane and end up right where I am. That will not be a pretty sight. I can avoid this by taking the lane and being visible. I am inconsiderate. I do not care if it take you an extra 45 seconds to get home because I made you wait until it was safe to pass me.

I think that Aaron Beck is a cyclist. If I thought the article was slanted one way or another, I thought it was slanted against cyclists who do not follow the rules of the road. There is still the underlying thought, even though it is not being said aloud, that bicyclists are simply in the way of the "real" road users.

Jamie at Bike Commuting in Columbus read the same article but came up with different thoughts. Take a peek over there and see what he had to say.

Update #2:
Columbisite has weighed in on the same article.  Three different people, three totally different articles.  

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Railroad overpasses

My commute takes me over the railroad overpass you see above. I have noticed that there is quite a bit of heat coming from the road.

Any ideas why?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

With whom do we share the road?

An actual letter to the editor from the Columbus Dispatch

This is a letter to the car full of teenagers (and others just like you) that ran right through a stop sign in front of the Mall at Tuttle Crossing and laughed like idiots when I almost ran into you. Yes, isn't it funny that you could have ended up dead! Yes, isn't it funny that I could have destroyed my vehicle! Personally, I don't care what happens to you, but I certainly don't intend on ruining my vehicle that is worth more than any of you will ever earn in your lifetime. Nor do I want to waste my time waiting for emergency personnel to arrive and pronounce you dead. By judging from your actions and obvious inability to read street signs, my guess is that you did not complete the 8th grade and are probably not a decent contributing member of society, so please get your parole officer to read this letter to you! Next time, maybe I won't be able to stop my vehicle in time, or maybe I won't even try.

My suggestions to everyone, LEARN HOW TO READ, be sure to STOP at Stop signs, and DON'T STOP when there aren't any stop signs. How difficult is that?

Diana Momeyer, Columbus

I have been debating about posting this since I saw it on Tuesday. My goal here is to convince people to ride a bike, not scare them away from it. Honestly, this is scary. I do not condone kids not paying attention while driving. But this lady cares more about her car than a group of teenagers. Read it again, "I don't care what happens to you, but I certainly don't intend on ruining my vehicle that is worth more than any of you will ever earn in your lifetime. " If that isn't unsettling enough, "Next time, maybe I won't be able to stop my vehicle in time, or maybe I won't even try." So, I guess a suitable punishment for running a stop sign is ramming another person's car.

How would you like to have her behind you while you are on a bicycle?

When I was learning to drive, my grandfather used to say, "There are three types of drivers on the road, idiots who drive slower than you, maniacs who drive faster than you, and the perfect driver, you."

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I still remember the time I got all excited and told everyone I knew about this guy with a crazy recycled bike. He sold me the best mirror in the world. It was recycled from an old spoke. Then, someone says, "Yeah, that's the Chuck Harris mirror everyone talks about."

That's how I feel when I find something worth mentioning. When I see something on the internet, it has usually been around for a while. I've only seen this once. It was originally posted on Pixdaus, but I saw it on Cozy Beehive. There is a link to that post on the right.

To be fair, there is some debate about the actual numbers. I personally like the visual representation of dying from heart disease versus bicycling. I'll take my risks on the road.

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In search of a little peace and quiet

I have three kids. The oldest is four and the youngest 1 month old. I teach middle school. My day is spent with 100 sixth, seventh and eighth graders. There is very little quiet time in my day. I thought bicycling would help. Instead, I have realized how noisy everything is.

I start off in the morning. As soon as I step outside, I can hear the birds getting ready for the day. I get to enjoy this for a little more than three miles as I weave through the neighborhood and the short bike path. Then, I turn onto the main road.

Cars are loud. Even the cars that run well are loud. Tires, engines, radios all interrupt nature. They all demand that someone pay attention. It's this way for about six miles.

Then, the last two miles finish my trip on a quiet note. I ride down a road that is not travelled too much at 7:00am.

It's a good way to start the day at work.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ohio weather, you gotta love it

Yesterday  I had to run some errands.  I think I was out of the house for a tad over an hour.  While I was on the bike, I rode through rain, hail and snow.  I love this stuff.  

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hey, are you that guy on the bike?

Today I had to make a run to the grocery store.  Well, truth be told, I begged my wife to let me go.  It was a beautiful day and I would have killed to be on the bike--even if it was only a two mile round trip.

I hooked the trailer to the bike and the girls hopped in.  We rode up to the store singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."  In the store, I grabbed baby formula and headed over to the beer cooler.  While I was trying to decide, A man came up to me and said, "Hey, are you that guy on the bike?"

He has seen me around the neighborhood, so he had plenty of questions.  He asked about the Xtracycle.  (Everyone does.)  He saw me the day I carried six bags of mulch on it.  I got to brag about that thing and everything it can do.

He asked about the trailer.  I deferred those questions to the four-year-old.  She answered them much better than me.  After she talked about how much she loved it, I think Burley owes me a few bucks.  

He followed me out and checked out the rig.  Then, the real question.  "Is it safe?"  I gave him my standard answer.  People in cars will not run you down because they do not want to dent their car.

I had to leave, but I gave him my name and number.  I hope he calls.  Heck, we even picked out the same beer. Anyone who drinks an IPA can be my friend.  

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Toledo Intruders

For those of you who do not know me, I consider Toledo to be one of my hometowns.  I currently live in Columbus, but I still pay attention to what is going on there.

TARTA is the public transportation system in Toledo

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

The 100 Mile Commute

It's been a while since I have posted.  A new baby in the house tends to take up quite a bit of time.  Minor things are taking a back seat to the major things.  

One of the things that is taking a lot of my time is the 100 mile round trip to school each day.  In order to help my wife and the new baby adjust to being at home, I agreed to take the other two kids to day care for two weeks.  We live almost half-way between our two schools.  My wife teaches 18 miles due west and I teach 15 miles due east.  The girls' day care is across the street from my wife's school.

Now, I am waking up at 5:30 so I can leave at 6:30 and make it to school by 8:00.  This time in the car does have it upside.  I have been able to introduce my girls to the finer aspects of Morrissey and Jack Johnson.  I am well on my way to listening to almost two years worth of Grammar Girl's podcasts.

Even so, if I hated driving before, I hate it even more now.  I am spending three hours a day in the car.  This week alone, I spent more in gas than I spent in all of March.   That's $100 I could not spend on beer.  

I wonder if the guy in the yellow Ford Escape realizes that, after all of his lane changes, speeding, tailgating, and unsafe driving, I have passed him every day about 30 miles down the road?  Do you think people will ever realize that following too closely and constantly tapping the brakes is what causes traffic backups?  When traffic is heavy, why don't other drivers let people merge?  

There is just one more week of this.  After that, I will be back on the bike.  I have to.  Driving gives me a headache.

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