Saturday, July 07, 2007

An interesting mile...

It's roughly a mile from my home to the Panera coffee shop. I meet Wade there for coffee every weekend. We catch up on family news, bait each other with political tidbits, and sit at our table watching the world turn. There was a time in my life that I did this in bars. That time is long gone. Besides, I can't stay awake long enough for the bar scene these days. Early to bed, early to rise, etc. Even on weekends, I'm up before dawn.

So this morning was no exception. I was up and around before the sun was up. At about 6:30, I lifted the garage door and set off on the Centurion for the coffee shop. This bike is my utility/errand runner this summer, set up with flat bars, mudguards, and a big, blue milk crate strapped to the rear rack. Funky! Leaving the neighborhood, I have to turn right onto the frontage road that goes north toward Panera. I was about to make that turn, and I was looking down the hill to my left, when a wrong-way rider went across my front wheel! He missed me by only a foot or two. The guy could have been coming off the sidewalk because it ends at that intersection or he could have been riding on the wrong side of the road. Regardless, he was there, and just as quickly, he was gone, continuing down the hill on the wrong side of the road. I was so startled I didn't even think to yell at him.

I made a mental note to be a little more alert and aware, then pushed off up the frontage road. It crests and then descends for maybe a quarter of a mile. Up ahead, I could see a runner coming down the road on my side, just like the wrong way cyclist. Now, I'll grant that there's little traffic early on Saturday morning, so running in the road isn't much of a danger. Still, there's an unobstructed sidewalk along that stretch, and it's all at grade, meaning there are no curbs to step up and down. Regardless, I moved well to the left of the lane and gave the runner a friendly wave as I passed. He stared straight ahead, stone faced, evidently so concentrated on his training that he couldn't acknowledge a simple social nicety. Maybe my funky bike put him off because no 'serious' cyclist would ride something like that.

I decided his name would be Dick.

But that was the low point of my day. Wade and I had coffee, discussed the world's problems without settling any of them, and left to mow his acreage at an airfield north of Collinsville. I got to play with a 4WD Diesel tractor, a chainsaw, a pole saw, and various other implements of destruction. All the rain we've had made the grass very thick. It took 4 hours to cut it all.

And when I returned home, I mowed our grass. It's after dark as I write this and I'm very tired. This is one of those evenings I may have a tall, stiff drink and tumble into bed.


Blogger Dr. Logan said...

Aren't pedestrians supposed to walk/run facing traffic?

I see wrong-way cyclists in my town all day long. I occasionally mention it to them but for the most part they just look at me like I'm an idiot and continue on their merry way.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

In Oklahoma, pedestrians are supposed to walk facing traffic. I believe they're obligated to step off the roadway when motor vehicles approach, but I could be wrong about that. And I can understand running on the road surface rather than a sidewalk in order to avoid the jarring from going up and down at curbs. Running is jarring enough.

But I don't see the necessity of running on the road surface when there's a sidewalk without any such curb crossings adjacent to the road. Many of our more recent ones have ADA compliant curbs that eliminate the abrupt change in grade, incorporating ramps in order to accommodate wheelchair users (and sidewalk cyclists - the bane of pedestrians in high traffic areas.)

Supposedly, a old bicycle safety film once advised cyclists to ride against traffic, essentially acting like two-wheeled pedestrians. I've never seen it, and I've never heard what its title was, but many of my peers (old farts, all) claim to have seen it in grade school.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Fritz said...

I don't know if its myth or not, but there's a persistent belief that asphalt is less "jarring" for runners than concrete is. Hence, the common practice of running in the street rather than on the sidewalk.

6:32 PM  

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