A day in the life of a bike commuter, looking at cars that take over the bike/bus only lanes. I'm an advocate of the "Share the Road" program and would like to see police enforcement of the cars illegally driving in the bike/bus lanes.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Chicago Critical Mass: Come join the circus!

So I've done every Critical Mass ride in Chicago since I bought my bike, sometimes with a big group, but also by myself. It's always an interesting experience, but I am torn about it's usefulness in promoting bicycling awareness in the city.

It is a circus parade. Literally, there was a clown juggling last friday. Don't get me wrong...Unlike some people, I have no problem with clowns. What bothers me is the simple-minded, anarchist-loving, ultra-cool and drunk hipster crowd that gives off the "F*CK YOU" attitude to anyone and everyone in a car. That is really not going to help our biking cause! Spurring animosity is no way to get what you want. But I guess what I want is different from what they want. Damn it! Join my cause! I actually heard someone yell, "F*ck the government!" And another guy was encouraging people to hit a police officer on foot with their bikes. I'm sure that the police officer has a new-found love for bicyclists and now wants to ticket cars parked in bike lanes and look out for our safety. Yeah, right.

And the other thing that I have problems with is when the Mass spends too much time in the Loop. It's one thing to make your presence felt, its another to create gridlock for miles...All those cars idling are getting 0 mpg and polluting the f*ck out of our city. We're causing that pollution.

The CM rides I've enjoyed the most were mostly riding through neighborhoods without a lot of traffic, where little kids come running out to give you high fives and yell, "Happy Friday!" right back at you, like this picture:

My two cents. Comments?

I'll post more pictures. The trip to Berwyn was the best!

10th Anniversary Ride (September):

Typical Morning Commute

It's not nearly as lonely in the bike lane here in Chicago as it was in DC. I usually am riding with a group of about 5 to 10 people down Milwaukee in the morning. And it's not just the fair-weather riders! Even on rainy days, there will still be a small group at every light. It makes you feel safer--that's for sure. In other good news, I convinced two friends to start biking to work on most days. Now I just have to convince my brother! But that will probably have to wait until late spring.

Here are some typical morning commute pictures (while the weather is still nice):

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chicago Biking!

I received a comment on my last post that pointed out that I haven't yet written anything about commuting in Chicago. It's true! So I thought I should start. The only problem is that my route is a straight shot down Milwaukee Avenue, and there is the skinny bike lane that cars can't fit in for almost the whole path. That means that I will have to shift my blog focus. I can't write about cars driving in the bike lane! I suppose I could complain about the cabs that sometimes try to block you out...but that's sort of expected. And by law, they have a right to sit in the bike lane if they are picking up or dropping off customers.

So I bought a Jamis Aurora, a road bike that is durable enough for touring. It was within my price range and fulfilled my needs. I think that somewhere down the line i might buy a very lightweight aluminum frame road bike (single gear?), but for now, I'm happy. I purchased it at Rapid Transit Cycles on North Avenue. My only complaint is that I felt like some of the components weren't put on very well. The brakes were over-tightened and the cord was fraying after a week and a half. I had them fixed and the following week my front brakes were useless because they had loosened up. I know that this happens naturally, but I feel like my bike shop in DC would have noticed that it was loose and fixed it before it became a real problem. But the guy who appears to be the head manager (or owner) rigged a piece of metal that allowed me to use my grocery paniers. That was cool.

So I have a question...What is the rule on tipping when you're getting your bike fixed or tuned up? Do people usually tip? Would it be different if you just purchased the bike?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Packing my bags! Road Bike Recommendations?

Last week I was offered a job with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning as a Regional Land Use Planner. Obviously, I don't know exactly how it will work out for me, but if I were to describe my (realistic) dream job it would almost perfectly match the job description for this one. CMAP is the agency that was formed when Chicago Area Transportation Study (Chicago's MPO) and Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) were merged. NIPC developed the 2040 Regional Framework Plan with "specific strategies to guide future growth in northeastern Illinois. The plan provides a vision for meeting land-use challenges in the most efficient, coordinated and sustainable manner." They won the APA's 2006 National Plan of the Year award. I'm honored to be joining this agency!

And I will be buying a commuter bike as soon as I get to Chicago! Any suggestions? My commute will be 3.5 miles (another short one!) but I will do longer weekend rides and after-work jaunts. I loved my Jamis Coda Sport, but am interested in Bianchi bikes and would also consider a bike that would function as a touring bike (with minor adjustments).

Then I will continue the blog with a Chicago focus. Sorry to all my DC readers!

Please leave comments about bike recommendations! Thanks!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

DC Bike Commuter Faces Hostile Biker on CC Trail

A reader asked me to post about his recent encounter with a hostile biker on the Capital Crescent Trail. Read the full story here.

On my daily commute between Bethesda and downtown DC I expect the occasional encounter with an aggressive, even hostile, driver, but last night was my first encounter with a foaming-at-the-mouth hostile cyclist.

I was on the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT), heading toward Bethesda at around 6:00 p.m. I had been enjoying a leisurely ride when a guy passed me by the Dalecarlia Tunnel going at a pretty good clip, and I thought it would be a good pace to get me home quickly. So I sprinted the 100 yards or so to catch up and settled in behind him, figuring that as soon as I recovered from the effort of catching up, I would return the favor and take a pull as pace-setter, a totally acceptable and ordinary practice, not to mention a nice way to meet and exchange stories with other cyclists.

But this nut-job I was following had other plans. First of all, he would pass people without warning them or signaling me, which I found dangerous, so I backed off a little, keeping about 3 feet of space between us. My bike has a bell, so I would ding it a couple of times if I saw someone up the road. Unless he was deaf or wearing headphones (which I did not see), there is no way in h*ll that he did not know I was back there.

At this point, I had been behind the guy for a maximum of a half-mile (we were now nearing the stairway that leads down off of the east side of the CCT toward the walking path along the Little Falls stream). I had caught my breath fully and had just begun to look up the road to see if it was clear for me to come around to take a pull when, WHAM! He slams on his brakes, locking up both wheels and, of course, sending me into the back of his bike.

Over the screech of our skidding tires, without looking up, the guy yells, “I KNEW IT!” and then turns around, face purple with rage, and adds for good measure, “A**HOLE!” and then pedals hard up the road. Somehow I had managed to grab my brakes and unclip. It was only dumb luck that I avoided going down hard.

I’ve been an avid cyclist for over 20 years, putting in 1,500 – 4,500 miles per year in commutes (year-round), large weekend club rides, small group rides, and solo treks. I have only once before heard someone express anger at a cyclist for following, and that person expressed it verbally, not by pulling a dangerous stunt like this.

Was it wrong or impolite for me to sit in behind another rider in the first place?

To the general cycling public: be on the lookout for a guy in his mid-40’s (a wild guess), wearing round, metal-framed eyeglasses, riding a hard-tail mountain bike with a rack and a single pannier slung over the drive side. The rack may have a broken reflector. Yesterday he was wearing black, red, blue Performance brand shorts and a black cycling jacket.

Cycling is one of the great joys of my life, but for a few seconds last night, one strange, hostile (possibly deaf?) man, sucked all of the joy from it.


Monday, January 15, 2007

The end.

If you went to the farmer's market on Sunday like I did, you may have seen me crying on the corner of 20th and Q Street, after discovering this:

I know--I should not have been using a cable lock. I should have had my U-lock. But I didn't think that someone would walk up in the 20 minutes that I went into the farmer's market (in plain view of my bike), and walk away with it. Amid the hussle and bussle of Dupont circle on a Sunday morning. F * C K.

I suppose this could be a motivating incident--something to get me more into the job search. Please, get me out of this godforsaken haven of crime and back to Chicago. Because I know that absolutely nothing will be done about this incident and that nothing will be done to prevent this from happening to someone else. That said, I am still going to write a letter to Fenty and to Jim Graham (of Ward 1), telling them how I feel about getting mugged by 5 teenage kids with a gun, having my bike stolen, arriving on the scene of a recent mugging in front of my house, having several friends mugged, 2 friends' cars stolen, having my favorite bar held up by 4 masked gunmen, and a restaurant around the corner robbed along with all the patrons.

What is wrong with the world today?

Let me know if you see a Jamis Coda Sport with this water bottle on it:

I looks like this but it also has fenders, a rack, toe clips, handlebar extensions, a little bike seat bag, and lights.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Last week 1/8/07

Sorry about the blur.

Monday, January 08, 2007

December videos

Late December

I took a bunch of pictures and videos, but I am not sure what day they are from. They are all from before I went to Chicago for the holidays.

Enjoy! Sorry about the thin posting over the last few months--I've been traveling a lot, but I'll be around for awhile! Didn't bike today because it was gross out and I was lazy :(

The bottom two pictures address the problem of the the Chinatown turn lanes blocking traffic, while cars wait for pedestrians to cross.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'm back! Tuesday 12/12 /06 AM

Sorry this one's a little blurry...but you get the picture.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'll be back soon...

Sorry, I've been traveling the globe--Guatemala and Honduras' Copan Ruins.

Just got back last week and had to organize an auction of gifts that I acquired, so I had to take the metro.

But weather permitting, I will be biking again shortly.

Thanks for you patience!


Here's a nice picture of Lake Atitlan that I took:

Friday, November 10, 2006

Last week

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Video of Cars Passing on the Right-hand side of Bike lane

Sorry for the shaky hand--it was cold out! And I'm not an expert at filming while biking...yet.

Monday 11/6--Police cruising along in bike lane

Here is a nice picture of a police officer taking advantage of the bike lane for no reason, except perhaps "because he can."

And in a little bit, I'll have a video of cars passing me on the right-hand side of the bike lane. I'm going to apologize in advance because it's very shaky.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gone for the week...

I'll be in Denver for a conference on Visualization and Transportation. I've been looking for bike lanes to take pictures of, but unfortunately we're out at the Denver Tech Center which is office park central and while it has signage for bikes, there aren't any set-aside lanes.

See ya next week!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Crosswalk design considerations

So yesterday, as I slowed down in the bike lane behind a long line of cars, so as to maneuver between them better, I started thinking about this problem of cars driving in the bike lane and the general traffic congestion. At I got closer to the arch in Chinatown, it dawned on me...

We need to improve the pedestrian crossing if we want to avoid this particular bottleneck at the entrance to the Chinatown metro stop. Due to such heavy pedestrian traffic, it is impossible for these cars and buses to turn left or right at this intersection until the light has turned yellow...or red. So all the other cars are scrambling to get around the stopped traffic, or waiting their turn in line and that's why we have such a problem in this section of the road.

One solution might be to intall a new system and re-paint the crosswalk to convert it to a light that has a four-way stop where pedestrians can cross in all directions--even diagonally. And when the cars have a green light, pedestrians cannot cross. San Diego has a couple of these intersections. It's the only city I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are others. Here is a mediocre picture...

In this picture, you can see the sign that says Diagonal Crossing is OK:


Oh, the perils of biking while filming!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday 10/19

Just missed the group of cars, so this clip is short...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tuesday 10/17

It's fun to ride in the dark! Look at this picture of a bike commuter riding in the striped lane (and not the bike lane) because of all the cars flying by. Sorry it's a little blurry...my camera does better in the sunlight.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday night 10/16

"A heckuva job..." Please notice the Georgetown Connector bus that is trapped behind all these cars! Way to slow down transit!

See--I stop at red lights. And I was admiring the strange way that the water was soaking this building on the right...

Friday 10/13

A reader mentioned the problem of restaurants using the bike/bus lane for valet parking. This is a big problem, because if the bike/bus only lane were enforced (hypothetically speaking, of course) who gets the ticket? Would the driver of the car get the ticket? If the restaurants are guilty, what could police do to stop this practice? Ask them nicely to stop doing it?

I think that these cops were keeping an eye on the guy who was selling "STOP BITCHING AND START A REVOLUTION" t-shirts. Gotta have your priorities, I suppose!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Cars Driving in the Bike Lane

9th Street, southbound, 8:00 am
typical traffic, cars driving in the bike lane.

I took the video while biking in the shoulder, to avoid being hit in the lane that was supposedly created to make biking safer! This is where cars will pass me on the right hand side if I ride in the bike lane.

This is my first video blog! Fun stuff.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday 10/12

New Direction for Bike Blog

So I've decided that I will continue to take pictures of bike-lane violators when i can, but I'm going to start to write generally about commuting to work by bike. I got some good pictures today--mostly because I left the house later than usual. It was insane. I'm starting to think that the painted pictures of the bicycle and the big "BUS ONLY" logo is really a sick joke that DDOT has played on us transit-users/bikers. They just put it there to make us stop complaining. But now that it's painted, cars drive in it because they are in on this joke. Pictures to be posted later!

Yesterday I stopped at a red light (I do that sometimes!) and a fellow biker pulled up next to me and said, "Man, what part of 'BIKE AND BUS ONLY' do these cars not understand?"

Ha! Don't get me started!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday 7/27

So I didn't have my camera out today but that which I've been fearing most lately (see this entry) came very close to happening today. I was in the bike lane on 9th street, headed downtown. I was avoiding the many potholes at the intersection of H Street and 9th, when a car flew by me on the right hand side. I tried to get her attention, but get this--she wasn't even looking at me! She almost killed me and she didn't even notice. I think it's about time I sent this blog to some authority figures to see if we can give these people tickets.

Wednesday 7/26

So this is what the bike lane looked like exactly one month before my birthday:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No batteries (7/20-7/25)

Sorry to all those who may be paying attention to this blog. Both of you should be informed that I ran out of batteries for my camera last week. I actually changed the battery this week, but didn’t take any pictures. Partly because I’ve been distracted and partly because there haven’t been too many bike lane violators. But that’s always good news!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wednesday 7/19

Ok, if I were really cheezy, I'd say that today I got the "money" shot. But let's just leave it as "really good." Good in the sense that I finally was able to capture the cars passing me on the right-hand side of the bike lane. I have become accustomed to this phenomena and now know when and where to expect it. So this morning, I may have been a little late to work, but I was still on top of things. I had my camera out before I got to the "danger zone" and snapped these, while riding:

Neither of these cars turned right at the light. I tried to catch up and get another picture of them, but they were going much too fast for me. This is particularly dangerous because at the intersection that they flew through after pasing me, there are a lot of potholes. Sometimes I have to make quick, jerky movements to avoid the potholes. I have a road bike, not a mountain bike. If a car were flying by, passing on the right, where I'm not expecting it, it could easily kill me. That's not cool.

Tuesday 7/18

Tuesday evening about 5:30 pm:

Monday, July 17, 2006

Monday 7/17

This morning, I left at a different time than usual. I left at 7:30, and there were more people driving in the bike lane than I'm used to. After two cars passed me ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE IN THE BIKE LANE (I gave them my "good morning" salute), I tried to get my camera out, but by the time I did, they had flown by, probably running the red light ahead of me...and this was all i got:

I do think that the picture is still worth posting because there is obviously no reason for this taxi to be in the bike lane (besides the whole part about it being illegal). There is only one other car, and the taxi did not turn right.

And here's the picture from Monday evening:

Friday 7/14

So it's Friday, you want to get home just like everyone else. You look over and there's no one else in the bike lane; no buses cometh. What's the big deal? And then the car behind you thinks, "Well, if he's going in the bike lane, I can too." And then we have this:

Thursday 7/13

I know, it's the end of the bike lane, so you think you can just go ahead and move over, and then when it's the beginning, you sneak by--no big deal. And then when you need to pass, you use the bike lane. And hey, if you're going to turn up ahead (at the next block)...what's that extra lane for anyway???

Since it's only about 4 blocks long, what's the point of even having it?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wednesday 7/12

Unfortunately, this one is a little blurry...

And this looks like the same group of cars as above, but it's not. The Volvo below is a bluish-purple color. The one above is black. Also...I'd like to point out that the white truck is a metropolitan police truck!