The indignity of bike parking: Subway

Hola Amigos, I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at you, but I’ve had a busy dance card in the evenings recently, and that’s my prime blogging time.

Occasionally, I like to use a mode of transportation other than my bike. Most often, that mode is walking. The other day, I was walking through Kennedy Plaza where I saw this:

Three bikes carefully lined up and comfortably parked on their kickstands but completely unlocked. Meanwhile, 3 hitching posts are lined up and waiting for a bike to keep them company. I’ll lock my bike if I’m leaving it for 2 minutes in front of a police station, so I was surprised to see these three just happily waiting for their owners to return from Subway.

In a previous post, a commenter described the awful conditions of Allens Avenue – a route I’d never taken. What else could I do, but try it out. And here is what I found:

Contrast is a little bad on that one. How about a close-up?

I don't even want to know what that is

I do love it when the bike lane symbol itself is covered by all of the junk in the street. Eventually, the lane gets a little more clear. Coincidentally, this happens as the houses get bigger and more expensive. Imagine that. One thing I did enjoy about this road was how smooth the pavement was. I initially loved the new pavement. Until I got to all of the railroad crossings. Allens crosses about 5 derelict sets of rails. On either side outside of the street, they’ve even been pulled up. I guess it’s too expensive to remove them from the street.  The worst part is that they are set at a 70 – 80 degree angle – in my estimation. (I didn’t bring my protractor with me because I was on my road bike. I use an artisinal all-steel protractor that weighs about 100 grams and I can’t have that much weight slowing me down.) This requires one to do a little weave maneuver in order to approach the rails at an angle that won’t catch your wheel. Noah, over at KC Bike Commuting has to deal with a crossing like this every day. It was bad enough on a Saturday morning with almost no traffic. I can’t imagine what it would be like to ride during a morning rush hour.

The bike lane goes all the way to Pawtuxet Village, where there’s a nice little harbor. There’s also this:

You can’t quite see it here, but that Prius is parked directly beneath a no parking sign. On the left edge of the photo you can see someone biking on the sidewalk, adjacent to the bike lane. I’ll give him a pass though, because I believe he was biking with a few children, and I really don’t mind when kids ride on the sidewalk. It’s probably less safe than riding on the street (after a certain age), but there’s really not much I can do about it. I must love being annoyed, because I sure take a lot of pictures of things that annoy me.

Speaking of things that annoy me, I was honked at yesterday, which means I should file a honk report. But I’m kind of getting tired of the whole exercise. I was following the lead of Andy from Carbon Trace on this. Whereas he logs the honks in order to show how rare it is, it seems like I get honked at much more often (about once per week), and I feel like filing the honk report just forces me to focus on the negative. So, no more honk report for a while, it’s bad for my road rage.

Speaking of road rage….

From The Guardian

This recent article in The Guardian describes the author’s interaction with a mini cab driver and subsequent complaint to the driver’s company. Since individual drivers have no accountability for their actions, cyclists have to take all of their road rage out on drivers of oficial vehicles. It’s been about two months since a RIPTA driver told me to get out of the road. I still have not received any report from RIPTA on what they’ve done. I emailed them again on Thursday – no response. Do I need to send it by snail mail?

Wow, this post is just full of things that annoy me. Let’s keep the ball rolling! I encounterd an unnecessarily curteous motorist at a four-way stop the other day. They got to the intersection well ahead of me, so I stopped to let them go through. Instead they tried to wave me ahead of them. Of course, they were behind glass and there’s lots of glare making it difficult to see. I’m not sure why Rhode Islanders haven’t adopted the custom of flashing their headlights in order to indicate “waving on.” It’s far easier to see, and less ambiguous than waving one’s hand behind glass. Instead of going in front of the other motorist, I put my foot down to indicate that they should take their right of way. My guess is that some motorists do this because they are used to cyclists just blowing through stop signs – something I see all the time around campus.  So I guess I can’t really blame them. As they passed by, I gave them a smile and a wave to thank them because right now, I’m all about being positive. POSITIVE!

POS – I – TIVE!!!!

Looks like it’s time to go for a ride!

14 responses to “The indignity of bike parking: Subway

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write about Allens Ave. Those who ride Allens Ave know there’s almost always someone parked in the bike lane outside the big pink strip club building. Would the Providence Police issue a ticket if I sent them a photo of a car parked in front of a no parking sign?

    Please forgive me for indulging in a Honk Report of my own.
    Background: I’ve recently started riding with an obnoxious orange flag on a 2 foot pole sticking leftward from my left hand grip. It works wonders, most people (likely fearing their precious cars will get scratched) seem to give me much more distance when passing me. Apparently, this offends some people.
    In just the last two weeks, I’ve had two people so offended by my presence they had to say something. The first pulled his car over in the bike lane about 300 yards ahead of me and as I went to pass he baited me into conversation. Something like “what’s the flag for?” While he would not acknowledge he was illegally parked, and he lied about why he stopped, I can respect this guy because he never raised his voice or sunk to name calling (His lie? he claimed he saw me almost cause an accident between two cars. I know it’s a lie because I had my helmet cam on that day, and reviewed the tape when I got home).
    The second incident was riding into Boston from Charlestown. Big bully in an SUV. It started with a hand gesture from him, then went down hill from there. As I approached his left side at the light he was stopped at, he cut his wheel left and moved forward – cutting off my lane-spit. So I went past him on the right. For the next 1/4 mile and 3 lights we passed each other immaturely making faces and sending hand signals – then at some point he rolled down his electric window and we exchanged heated words. Sadly I sank toward his level. I guess I pushed his button because he spat at me before speeding off. That’s the caliber of person we share the road with, folks.
    So, next time I’m at Benny’s, I’m buying another flag, and this time I’m going to trim less off the pole – make my left-hand flag a 3 foot measure, not two.

    • I hear ya, Matt. I’ve had heated exchanges that I’ve not written about (including this last honk). A heated exchange just becomes embarrassing once the whole thing is over and I cool down a little. Not really productive at all. I was talking with another Recycle-a-bike volunteer the other day about interactions with motorists. His advice is to give them absolutely no reaction. I have another friend who suggests blowing kisses. In this last incident, when I first heard the insistent honk behind me, I was prepared to do absolutely nothing. My plan was to remain riding where I was (outside of the doorzone) and let them pass me when they could. They were able to pass me fairly quickly, and I was ready to let it slide, even with the raised middle finger from the passenger. But then they did one more thing… And now I’m getting into a full honk report that makes me re-live the entire incident and just makes me upset. So no more with the honk reports from me!

      That is an interesting incident that you had on Allens. It’s usually me who baits a motorist into conversation, not the other way around. I don’t think I’ve seen you out there with your flag. I have seen another cyclist downtown who has a florescent “pool noodle” attached to his rack and sticking out about 3 feet. Looks like he’s going for the same effect as your flag. He also wears a helmet with a purple cover with a row of stegasaurus-like floppy triangles on top. I’m guessing he’s just trying to make himself more visible?

      But really, I’m giving up on interacting with motorists unless they ask a question. And “get off the road!” is not a question. I would never interact with another driver if I was driving a car, so why should I do it if I’m on my bike?

  2. Love the “since I was on my road bike” comment, Mr. Multiple-Bike-Owner. It seems there’s a real problem with inadequate street sweeping: I see the sweepers, but I wonder whether they are focusing just on the roadway and aren’t thinking about getting the bike lane swept as well. Another cause for a suggestion/complaint letter, perhaps?

    • P.S. first pic didn’t come through. Thoughts on why the bikes were unlocked?

      • I think I updated the link. My guess is that the bikes’ owners were right inside Subway. I just hate to see a perfectly good hitching post go to waste.

    • You see the streetsweepers? Really? I thought I heard one once. Are they really early in the morning or something?

    • I should add: I miss the streetsweepers in Cambridge. Or rather, what I really miss is the Cambridge police riding around playing a recording over their loudspeaker. Something like “Streetsweeping. Please move your car to the odd numbered side of the street.”

  3. Yep, I see/hear the street sweepers pretty frequently, always in the early a.m.’s when I’m *still* awake or just going to sleep. Sometimes I think, haven’t they just been here? but they’re irregular, so far as I can tell. (they’re pretty loud: you haven’t noticed?)

  4. Pingback: College Street Protest | The Urban PhotoJournal

  5. I so looked forward to you’re honk reports,you’re leaving us high and dry.

    • We’ll see what happens next time I’m honked at. I just have to find a way to not get all road rage-y. It’s not good for me. I’ll just repeat to myself: No reaction. No reaction. No reaction.

      I could also dial up my Kansas accent and try some good old Midwestern “kill them with kindness!” Something like, “Oh I’m sorry, am I in your way? Maybe I should move into this doorzone so you don’t have to worry yourself with the extra effort required to change lanes in order to pass me? Then you can be ahead of me when we reach the next light. Sound like fun?”

  6. @carfreepvd
    Sorry I baited you into “going there”. Not my intent at all.

    RE: Street sweepers. What burns me the most about the poor condition of Allens Ave is that the street sweepers are housed right there, at the corner of Ernest St and Allens. They don’t even have to make a special trip to sweep Allens at a reasonable interval, say one side per week, on their way to other duties.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think all bike lanes should be swept at some well defined, reasonable standard (say in federal highway $$ related regulations, for example). But since (1) Allens is right there at the sweeper depot, and (2) with all the gravel from the fuel dumps and the asphalt plant… well, it gets to be a mess within a week of being swept.

  7. Ok, let me be clear. I had planned to bike to work but Charles St. is NOT bike friendly at all.

    But let someone honk at me for being in my right of way. A common reply is “Honk once more and I’ll stuff that horn so far up your ass you’ll toot every time you fart!”

    But seriously, the unswept bike lanes, etc. Contact your city councilor(s). I’ve found that once it’s pointed out to them, they usually act upon it QUICKLY and stay on it.

    • Yeah I guess just complaining on about unswept streets on a blog read by maybe a couple dozen people is not going to get anything done. I’ll work on complaints to city councilor(s) for a future blog post. I’ve been so successful with RIPTA, right?

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