Autumn Ride

I took the day off recently and took a ride out into the hills to the west of Providence.

Sure beats working.

That’s Central Ave (aka the Central Pike). It’s nice and smooth for a while, then somebody in Johnston dropped a few bombs on it or something because I thought I was about to bend my fork on all the potholes.

Speaking of rough roads, it seems like Broadway on the west side was stripped for construction almost 6 weeks ago. While it was stripped, I coincidentally broke two spokes on days that I was on that road. Now it’s covered in smooth, creamy, fresh blacktop. It’s not painted yet, but it looks like they’ll be adding some bike lanes soon:

not bad, not bad, let’s go a little further…

Great, we finally get some new bike lanes, and they are partially in the door zone. Novice cyclists riding on the right-hand side of this lane run the risk of getting hit by someone opening a door from a parked car. Most cyclists have the instinct to ride as far to the right as possible even though this is not always a good idea, nor is it required by law. RI law requires us to “ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction” (emphasis mine).  However, lane markings like this pretty much require the cyclist to not exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle. So, my advice, is to stay to the left hand side of the bike lane. There’s still plenty of room for the motorists to pass you on the left. And then you can catch up to them at the light, and you can start the game all over again. So, plus one point for installation of bike lanes, minus 1 point for said lanes being door-zone lanes, and plus .2 points for the fact that they are only semi-doorzone lanes unlike some of the new Boston bike lanes in the South End which seem to be 100 % in the door zone (pic forthcoming, next time I’m up in Boston).

All that said, I gotta give credit to the city (or RIDOT, or whoever is responsible) for this:

Hard to tell from my photo, but you know those lines in the pavement at intersections that trigger the light when your car rolls up to it?* Broadway has these in the bike lanes, and they are smaller so that it’s easier for a bike to trigger! That’s kinda awesome.

So, sorry for the bike lane griping. That reminds me of a previous post featuring my Lowerarchy of Gripes:

I’ll have to update it at some point:

*I used to think that these devices were triggered by the weight of the car, however, they are actually gigantic magnetometers, A.K.A. metal-detectors. The metal in a car interferes with the electricity running through the loops embedded in the pavement, thus triggering the light. The smaller loops in the bike lane are designed for the smaller size (smaller amount of metal) of a bike.


11 responses to “Autumn Ride

  1. Somewhere on my lowerarchy of gripes is “why bike lane?” – I get to kvetch about them TWICE in one day! (see also: my comments on a recent bike lane post at for a much longer-winded variant of the same theme)

    • Once this bike lane is finished, I’ll do a full comparison on the various bike lanes of Providence. There aren’t many, so it won’t take long. There’s one particular stretch of bike lanes that is done the right way. An entire lane of vehicle traffic was removed in order to put the lanes in. They are well outside of the door zone. This has had the effect of significantly slowing the car traffic to at least close to the 25 MPH speed limit. The locals know I’m talking about Blackstone Blvd – full post to follow, hopefully in the next week.

  2. There IS no good Mexican food in New England.

    • Good Mexican food in New Engalnd is rare indeed. One would think it wouldn’t be hard to create a simple burrito place here, but that seems to be impossible.

  3. Go hit my Flickr site, or better yet I got a better picture of the active traffic sensor for bikes at Broadway and Knight St. That seems to be the only intersection that got bike sensors too.

    Traffic sensors for bicycles

    • That’s a much better picture. I’ve seen pictures of bike-designated loops in other cities, but none quite like these. I seem to remember seeing them on two different intersections. I’ll have to do a full survey once the lanes are actually painted in.

  4. Oh forgot, they are inductive loops. They sense the dip in the current wen a metallic object is present within the magnetic field. And it’s not just ferrometals that trigger it, but things like aluminum, titanium, etc. In essence every metal triggers eddy currents.

  5. Pingback: Broadway Bike Lanes (Finally (Almost)) — Greater City: Providence

  6. Pingback: Broadway Bike Lanes Completed in Providence - Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition

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