Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bike Girl Preferred The Pot Hole

Bike Girl got all dolled up over the weekend for a top secret rendezvous in Echo Park. She hopped on her extremely classy step-through and headed east. It should've been a simple commute.

But someone, or something, seemed determined to have Bike Girl killed.

That someone, Bike Girl suspects, is a lazy city employee. Likely one of Mayor Villaraigosa's pot hole repair special forces. Under the guise of making the roads safer, this mystery assailant appears to have turned an "innie" pothole, into an "outie."

Planted squarely in the Bike Lane on the eastbound side of Sunset Boulevard, is an asphalt mountain. This bump is about a foot and a half tall at it's peak, and takes up 7/8ths of the bike lane just before the Tropical Cafe.

Bike Girl only noticed the bump at the last minute. Had she seen it moments later, or reacted with any less than her typical cat-like reflexes, she may have suffered extreme injury...or worse.

In fact, shortly after Bike Girl discovered the bump, she heard that a Wolfpack rider fell victim to that same bump Monday night. Word on the streets is the rider, who thought he was safe in the bike lane, hit the bump and flew off his bike. Bike Girl hears he broke a finger and cut up his face.

Why an asphalt patch needs to be so tall is beyond Bike Girl's powers of comprehension. Bike girl urges cyclists to use caution in the eastbound bike lane on Sunset and to call 3-1-1 and report the problem. After all, according to provision 5 of the Cyclists Bill of Rights : Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bike Girl Hears You Honking

While riding around town, Bike Girl sometimes finds it is necessary to turn left. Turning left is a basic part of navigating through the city no matter what your mode of transit.

However Bike Girl recently encountered a driver who seemed to be convinced that turning left is a right reserved only for cars. Here's how it went down.

Bike Girl had stopped in the left turn lane of an intersection. While she stood with one foot on the pedal, hips cocked to one side, sunglasses perched smartly on her nose to hide her sidelong glance at an attractive male cyclist in the right turn lane, a car pulled into the left turn lane behind her.

The driver immediately pounded on the horn, jolting Bike Girl from the slightly naughty thoughts running through her head. She looked up at the light, but it was still red. So she turned around, to inquire as to the reason for the honk.

Bike Girl didn't have to ask, because the driver was already yelling about how bicycles are not allowed in the middle of the street. Bike Girl smiled sweetly at the misunderstanding and replied that she was actually turning left, so the driver did not need to worry.

But the driver kept sounding the horn, insisting that cyclists are not allowed to make left turns in the left turn lane. Now many cyclists know that CVC 21202 allows cyclists to move to the left to make a turn. And CVC 21200 allows cyclists all the same rights as a vehicle. She calmly quoted those two provisions to the driver. The driver insisted she was wrong and that he was absolutely sure that what she was doing was illegal.

Much to Bike Girl's pleasure, the attractive male cyclist she had been eyeing rolled over to make her case. At this point the light was still red, and the driver's progress has not yet been delayed even a moment. Adonis on Two-Wheels corroborated Bike Girl's claim to the lane, but the driver still insisted Bike Girl was behaving illegally.

At this point Bike Girl encouraged the driver to call the police and offered to wait while they came. However, before the words were fully out of her lips, the light turned green. Bike Girl proceeded through the intersection, making her legal left turn and the driver revved his engine and immediately parked at a business right on the corner. He went inside to make a purchase, showing that Bike Girl in no way threatened to make him late for any purpose. Bike Girl laughed.

This and other similar encounters show the need for increased driver education about the rules of the road.

Bike Girl owns a 4-wheeled vehicle, and until she converted to the two-wheeled side, she was never aware of any of the rules regarding road-sharing with cyclists.

A non-confrontational, zero-expense, yet seemingly effective tool would be to include a question on the California Driver's test about sharing the road with bicycles. This question, if missed, would require the potential driver to read through the part of the vehicle code that contains the answer. This would draw attention to the section. Since the tests are reprinted semi-frequently, there would be no extra expense to include that question in the next incarnation.

Until then, Bike Girl continues to smile each time she's honked at. Because as Bike Girl's ally in the world of anonymous bicycle blogging, Bike Snob NYC says, "Your beeping means you can see me, and I’m not worried about drivers who see me."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bike Girl Battles The Bus Redux

(continued from this post)

Bike Girl’s Metro contact came up empty on ways to increase bike access to busses. However, Bike Girl has heard a report that addresses her concerns.

History of Bike Racks: Apparently, Metro used to have bike racks INSIDE the Orange Line busses. Those racks were located in the rear of the bus. However, cyclists found it difficult to access the racks because Metro riders tend to congregate towards the rear of the bus. Metro also says it is dangerous for cyclists to try to move their bikes around while the bus is moving.

Danger: The Orange Line now has triple bike racks on the front of the bus. Metro decided to test out the system on the Orange Line because it is separated from other vehicular traffic. Metro decided that since cyclists whose bike is in the middle position often step into where traffic would be speeding around the bus in order to remove their bike, these racks are unsafe for use on regular busses.

So Now What: Metro says cyclists who want to use their bikes in conjunction with public transit should get folding bikes.

Personally, Bike Girl thinks that is a non-solution. But Metro appears enthusiastic.

In fact, according to the report Bike Girl heard, Metro is working on a program that would provide financial assistance to commuters who want to buy folding bikes. That’s according to Metro’s Bike Planning Manager Lynne Goldsmith.

Do these findings make Bike Girl’s commute across town using the bus any easier? No. In fact knowing that Metro’s best answer to the increase in cyclists is telling them to buy new bikes is discouraging to her.

Since Bike Girl seems to be able to beat the Rapid Bus across town anyway, she’s decided to stop trying to catch the bus, and just ride the 15 miles across town.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bike Girl Writes A Positive Blog Post

In a city where some drivers seem to prefer a dead cyclist to a live one, and some police officers don't seem to be on the side of the two-wheeled traveler, Bike Girl is taking to the streets to do her part .

The streets are tough, and so is Bike Girl. But even a Strong Female Protagonist like Bike Girl can get discouraged. Stories like this appear almost daily on the Los Angeles bicycle blogs. Bike Girl has had her own run-ins with drivers too. She's been hit not once, but three times by cars.

Bike Girl has a special technique she likes to use to overcome the Fear. The technique is a very scientific combination, arrived at through the use of Math and semi-illegal fireworks. The technique is called F.U.N.

Whenever Bike Girl finds she's acquired some amount of fear about commutes she's made many times on her trusty cycle, she calls on the help of her community. There are plenty of places Bike Girl can go to find sympathetic ears, encouragement, and a great time that renews her enthusiasm for biking. In no particular order, they are:

1. C.R.A.N.K. Mob

The mother of all social rides and the birthplace of F.U.N. When in the presence of C.R.A.N.K. Mob, Bike Girl is literally unable to imagine any situation in which she would hesitate to ride a bike.

2. Midnight Ridazz

If C.R.A.N.K. Mob is the birthplace of F.U.N., then Midnight Ridazz is the grandfather of F.U.N. Midnight Ridazz was the original place Bike Girl discovered the joys of taking the lane and the safety benefits thereof.

3. The Beach Bike Path

When Bike Girl wants to unwind with her Significant Other, she dons a dress and some heels and gingerly steps through the frame of her ladies single-speed from the 70's, places a picnic in the basket, and heads to the beach where she happily rides 10 miles an hour around stroller-pushing roller-bladers and drunk teenagers with the wind threatening her hemline. Pure bliss.

4. Santa Monica Blvd through Studio City in the early evening

One of the biggest fears Bike Girl has is riding alone at night in unpopulated areas. But at the same time, there's almost no greater joy than rolling on this stretch of bike path next to an empty street. The buildings are lit up but no one's there. It makes Bike Girl feel like the road is hers.

Even though frustration can be a part of urban riding in Los Angeles, Bike Girl will continue to ride.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bike Girl Saves A Nickel

In an effort to justify her cycling habit, Bike Girl put on her sexy nerd-glasses to do some commuter math. She wanted to find out if her commute actually saves her any money, or if it's simply an indulgence that allows her to feel smug with her bicycle resting against the wall of her cubicle.

Bike Girl bit on the end of a pencil eraser and scratched out some FORMULAS.

Miles driven divided by MPG = gallons used.
8.6/30 = .29

Gallons used multiplied by price per gallon = total price spent for miles driven.
.29 * $4.55 = $1.30

Since Bike Girl sometimes takes the Metro one way to avoid getting extremely sweaty before work, she subtracts the cost of the ticket from her gas savings.
$1.30 - $1.25 = $ .05

Bike Girl's daily commute saves her 5 cents on gas. If she commutes at least three days a week via bicycle for 50 weeks a year, her savings will add up to $7.50 a year.

Such a small number surprised Bike Girl. So she has decided to focus on other advantages to bike commuting. She has decided it is still worth it!