(OCTOBER III) Road annoyances

Today’s xkcd comic gave me an idea for my blog today, especially since there was earlier impetus that I had from the weekend.  The comic shows a set of stoplights which change, but don’t agree with the turn signs.  Also, the left turn lanes are on the right side and vice-versa!  The pattern of red, green, yellow, and even blue (!) in this comic make me wonder if that would be a safe intersection.  I would guess probably not!  I also have a sneaking suspicion that there is some sort of Easter egg hidden in the pattern.  I may have an update if I have any idea about this.

Now, I called this post “road annoyances” because I wanted to vent (!) about some of my annoyances on the road.  I did quite a bit of city-type riding the last few days, and noticed some annoying things.  (Of course, since I am positive, I will also counter those with good things I have noticed about the road.)

* Red light timing.  On Monday, when I did a few different trips for groceries, I hit about 75% of the red lights.  From a while ago, I learnt that traffic engineers try to time the lights so as to give a “green wave” to those that drive at the speed limit.  Obviously, that seems to exclude bikes, since the average cyclist is not a Tour de France rider.  (Certainly not, as I don’t take performance enhancing drugs!)  I am not willing to cheat red lights, because I fear not only the politicians’ laws, but more importantly, Newton’s laws.

* Rough grooved surfaces.  It seems that these are often done when a road is completely redone.  They are annoying for cars, but they can be downright dangerous for bikes.  Not only do the grooves mean that a misstep can result in a crash, but oftentimes this is when the manholes are fully revealed.  Unfortunately, there are times when there is no viable detour once I find a road with grooved surfaces.

* Bike lane cloggers.  Some cars and buses don’t understand that the bike lane is NOT an extension to a parking lane.  Sometimes the bike lane is on an already-narrow street which makes it dangerous if I am flushed out of the lane into the rest of the road.  Furthermore, for that reason, bike lanes on city streets make me nervous due to the risk of getting doored.  It has never happened to me, but there have been several close calls.

Those are some of my biggest annoyances with the road as a cyclist.  Of course, being an optimist and a positivist, I will now give some “props.”

* Red lights in the country.  Although a bunch of red lights in the city are annoying since they make the ride stop-and-go, for that reason, red lights in the country provide a short respite if I have gone a long distance without stopping.  It makes me wonder if I would see red lights as godsends or as annoyances if my regular biking routine was only long rides in the country.

* Fresh pavement.  For every rough grooved surface, it is done as part of the stage of re-paving.  The feel of riding on fresh blacktop is wonderful, as it is smooth and there is little resistance.  Furthermore, sometimes the fresh pavement may have fewer cars for a while if people have gotten used to some sort of detour.

* Considerate drivers.  It is always nice to, when stopped at a light, be complimented by a driver for my riding.  This has happened several times.  Once, a driver complimented me on wearing lights and a safety vest at night, so that she could see me.  In the last few weeks, drivers have complimented me on using turn and brake signals.  Although it is likely that many drivers don’t know them, they should: it’s in the driver’s manual!  Have I mentioned that on the occasions that I do drive, I like to use hand signals instead of blinkers?

* Protected bike lanes.  One was recently installed on Church Street between Dodge and Asbury, and it gives me a much better sense of security against the cars.  However, despite the safety, there was a warning of danger: along the way there is a memorial for Dajae Coleman, the 14-year-old ETHS student who was gunned down near that area a few weekends ago.  Sometimes when riding in Chicago, I am more afraid of those that are armed and dangerous than those that drive dangerously.

That’s the end of this post.  Thanks for reading!

Today is the third day of OCTOBER.

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