Saturday, March 31, 2007

March 2007 Totals

Miles This Month: 68.8
This Month Last Year: 38.2

Miles for 2007: 106.3
Miles for 2006 through March: 152.2

Remember my convoluted plan to measure my progress towards my secret goal? Well, I'm currently 9.8 miles ahead of schedule!

I haven't yet figured out monthly goals for my ride types (morning, commute, utility). Maybe next month.

Clamp On Camera Mount
Camera Mount

STAY ... IN ... BIKE ... LANE

I wanted to get one more ride in this month, and the weather cooperated beautifully by steering most of the rain around me.

No Bike Rack at Ace Hardware
No Bike Rack at Ace Hardware

I took a long circuitous route to Ace Hardware and Marsh (grocery store), partly to avoid riding on Sagamore Parkway and also to make the ride a little longer. (I've probably said it before, but even though the Cattail Trail is a great addition to West Lafayette, the stretch that crosses the entrances to Wal-Mart has to be the most dangerous cycling area in town. I always jump the curb to ride on the street before reaching that section.)


Coming home on Salisbury Street, I noticed this message spray painted in the bike lane - STAY IN BIKE LANE. Instead of a rant from an angry motorist, I'm guessing that it is an instruction from the road construction crews from last summer and fall. Although my North Work Route follows this street north, I haven't used the southbound side in a long time. I can't remember how the temporary lanes were setup to understand the direction, but it is kind of neat that they were thinking about us cyclists during construction.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Cycling in Arizona

I spent the last week in Arizona - specifically the city of Mesa.

City of Mesa Police PatchI was impressed by the bike lanes installed on all of the major streets on the east side of Mesa (the newer areas). Unfortunately, no one seemed to be using them. In the four days I was there, I saw one guy in full kit riding the lane on Power Road around 4pm.

Now, I saw many riders both old and young, using the sidewalks and crosswalks. All but one were going the wrong way. Apparently, Mesa needs to supplement their aggressive build out plan with rider education. (This is the conclusion of my short week of 'research'.)

On the South Rim

We made a side trip to the Grand Canyon, and I only saw two bikes the entire trip. One was chained to the bike rack at the Flagstaff Wendy's, and the other to a tree on the south rim of the canyon. The temps were near or below freezing, and it was snowing, so I didn't expect to see too many riders.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bikes in Las Vegas

I spent the past week in Las Vegas for a conference, and I thought I would share my thoughts on biking there. Rather than offer a well-informed, researched opinion, I'll just talk about what I saw in the approximately six block stretch of Las Vegas Blvd between Mandalay Bay and the Bellagio.

I didn't see any bikes on the first day, but on day 2 I was passed by two separate bike commuters. One guy in a security guard shirt was riding on the edge of the street, and he used the crosswalk to proceed against the light. The other was a younger guy on a 20 inch trick bike taking his ride up the escalators and across the busy streets on the pedestrian bridges (despite signs prohibiting such use). Both were on Wal-Mart specials.

On days three and four I saw a bike cop each day. They had nice Trek rides.

Also on day four, I saw the supply bikes for the street distribution teams. These are crews of poorly dressed guys passing out what I call 'hooker trading cards' that described various escort services. The supply bikes were hosting strong wire baskets over the back wheel, and the riders would travel from corner to corner resupplying the front line troops.

As we left on day 5, two ambulances arrived at the hotel near the cab stand, and two bikes cops rolled up shortly after. Also, a police car with two more bikes on a rack in the back joined the group. I can see how a bicycle would be a great way for the officers to get around.

Anyway, I'm glad to be back in Indiana.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Busses Only

Busses Only

This sign, and two more just like it, are installed outside Stewart Center. It cracks me up for several reasons:
  1. Someone thought that the plural of BUS is BUSSES.
  2. No one else on staff or at the sign printing company noticed the error.
  3. It's been there for several years!
  4. On one of the others, someone has removed an 'S' from the middle of the word.
  5. Easily thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students walk by these signs each year on the way to events held in the Center.

I took the direct route home from work today, riding into a strong 20MPH wind. It was a little slow going.

Miles Ridden: 6.9

Monday, March 12, 2007

Good Day for a Commute

Great weather today, so I rode to work.

Boy, with the early DST change this year, it was dark. Sunrise was 8:06 this morning - at least 10 minutes after I arrived. In addition to my lights and reflectors, I wore my new reflective vest for the first time. I'm sure I was glowing! I saw the neighbor in his driveway as I was leaving, and he said I was lit up like a Christmas tree. I don't care how geeky it may look, I didn't get hit by a car today.

Here's what I faced when I arrived...

Bike Rack - Snowed In

The plow crews piled all of the snow from the parking lot here after the blizzard last month, and the once six foot high pile still has some melting to do. Lucky for me there were other spots at the end. The bike pictured on the left is one of two that have been chained there for at least two years. All of the components are pretty much rusted beyond usefulness, but the lock includes a hardy chain that still looks new. I'm going to ask the building deputy about cutting the bikes off the rack and sending them down to salvage for sale.

I came home on the South Work Route. This was after my conversation with the SrVP in the parking lot where he asked "You don't ride down River Road, do you?" I answered that it is a little crowded this time of day. There's no sense in having the boss thinking I'm an idiot.

Miles Ridden: 8.3

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Division to 400W to 450N to 300W to SR 26 to Sharon Chapel to Newman to home.

Miles Ridden: 11.8

Morning Rush Hour

Way back in December, I took some video during my ride in to work. Today, I'm finally ready to post it.

The camera was mounted on the handlebars, so the perspective waves back and forth as I ride. I doubled the speed of the video, edited out half of it, and added music. Here is the somewhat spastic result:


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Terrier Terror

Another great day - sunny, mid 50s, WNW wind at 10-15 MPH - I jumped on the bike after the game.

I took the Montmorenci Route, and things went pretty well until...

The Terrier Attacked!

I didn't notice the 8 pound dog coming up behind me until he was next to my left foot barking and yapping. My first instinct was to try to outrun this dangerous, ferocious beast. I kicked it up a notch and was able to outrun an animal not as big as my son was at birth. I've never felt so alive!

Keeping Up with the Stormcrowes

This is segment where I compare my stats with Tom. In a recent post he included the stats from a recent ride, including an average speed of 15.75 MPH. My average today was 12.2 MPH. Now, I'm sure that my lack of endurance and generally low level of physical fitness contribute to my performance, but I think part of it is that I just don't pay attention. I have to really work to keep up a good pace. Otherwise, I tend to fall into a tourist cadence while lazily watching the scenery go by. I've met Tom a couple of times, and I've been reading his blog for a while. He seems to be a very driven, goal oriented person, so I'm guessing he doesn't suffer from adult ADD. (Actually, I don't know if I have ADD. I went to a website once that offered a survey that promised to rank me on various factors associated with the condition, but I never finished it.) It's good to have a goal to work towards, so I'm hoping to increase this rate over the year.

Snow on Indian Hill
Snow on Indian Hill

Miles Ridden: 16.4

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Serenity Now!

In the 40s and low wind - how could I not ride today after work?

I left around 5:15 and followed the River Road/Campus route, with a little extra. Remember back a couple of months ago when I complained about the pedestrian path that was planned for the Tapawingo Extension? Well, today I rode the unfinished road. I was a little concerned about a police officer not appreciating my hobby of riding on roads under construction. Sure enough, there was one waiting to turn at the far end, but I guess he didn't look my way (or didn't care), and he moved on.

Tapawingo Extension

Why the Seinfeldian title? From the moment I started east on River Road to when I left campus, I had one car after another pass me unsafely (while there was oncoming traffic). Instead of getting angry, I just thought about how nice the ride was going and kept my mood up. Serenity now!

To continue my series of bike mounted camera videos, here's part of my ride down the hill at Ross-Ade stadium. I've mounted my camera on the left fork near the axle. I was worried the entire time that it would fall off.

Miles Ridden: 10.3


Widen the Road?

There is an article in the Journal & Courier today about plans for two Lafayette thoroughfares. Teal Road has been the path for SR25 for many years, and it includes shopping centers, restaurants, businesses, and the county fairgrounds along its route. 350S was built around 10 years ago to be a bypass around the south side of the city, but is now a very crowded road hosting subdivisions, more restaurants, Wal-Mart, and many other businesses.

I remember when 350S first opened, I asked the county highway engineer why the speed limit was so low (45MPH) on such an empty road. She said that was because of expected growth, and that it would take too long and cost too much to change it later. Now, with all of the traffic coming in and out of the many driveways and cross streets it is dangerous at that speed.

I had just started my adult cycling hobby at the same time 350S opened. It was built with very wide paved shoulders that made nice bike lanes. I logged many early morning miles on that route. Now, the shoulders have become right turn lanes all along the route, and they are fairly useless for bike riding. I now take other routes across town.

This section of the article caught my attention:
Sherri Cozart says 350 South needs to be widened. She's the business manager for the Foxfire at Valley Lakes apartment complex on 350 South.

"When I come in to work every morning, I'm petrified," Cozart said. Waiting to turn left from 350 South into the complex, Cozart often thinks she will be rear-ended.

The road "is very, very heavily traveled and very dangerous," Cozart said.

(Read the full article here)
It seems to me that if the city widens the road, more cars will use the road and they will travel even faster. Just look at Sagamore Parkway in Lafayette or any of the millions of miles of 4 lane 'bypass' routes in North America.

If we want the road to be safer, they should lower the speed limit (and enforce it), add more lights, install speed bumps - anything to slow traffic down. Or, take out all of the driveways and parking lot entrances and only allow turns at the lights.

We can't use the same piece of pavement as both a through route and a business district. It's too late to make 350S a limited access highway, so I say make it a city street.