Category Archives: Honk Report

Honk Report: Water Street

Do I have to write my second Honk Report in the same week? Well, I guess so. I have to keep the count accurate. I’ll skimp on the description instead. I was riding on Water street, south of the old I-195 overpass. It’s a difficult part of the street. I basically ride in the middle because it splits left and right and I want to go to the left. I should probably just stay all the way over to the left. A car full of young yahoos honked at me. I glared. That is all.

Miscellany and Meta-miscellany

A few loose ends to blog about today. Although I haven’t kept up with how much money I’m saving, how many miles I’ve driven, or the number of times I’ve bummed a ride from a friend, there’s one thing I have no trouble remembering – getting honked at. Thus it’s time for –

HONK REPORT

After visiting Large LBS #1 for a few test rides yesterday, I was riding home on North Main. Due to the holiday, there was very little traffic. I was in the right-hand lane, but needed to get to the left-hand lane in order to turn onto Olney. I waited until I was close, but not too close to Olney. I then signaled and moved over to the left (no traffic anywhere near me at this time). A few seconds later, I hear a prolonged honk behind me.  It sounded far away, so I turned to look. The car was still pretty far back, but closing quickly. I moved a little more to the left and several seconds later he passed me within 4 feet while revving the engine. It was an early 00’s Lexus, after-market rims, vanity Florida plates. Unfortunately, he was not caught by the light, but neither was I. I’ve kept to my zero road-rage pledge, so that’s all there is to report. I’ve taken the idea of the Honk Report from Carbon Trace. It seems like I get honked at more than he does.

[close honk report]

I dropped off Project: Cignal at Recycle-a-bike the other day, but I didn’t get to stick around to start to work on it. I’d left the Cignal at my office so it would be an easy ride to RAB. I kept it slow (not that I could have gone fast on the Cignal) down Promenade street, one of the few streets in town with a bike lane. It’s on the left hand side, which makes it easier for drivers to know how close they are when they pass you. The problem with the lane is that it is often full of sand, grit and broken glass. Last week there was an additional treat in the lane:

Rhode Islanders' idea of ethical e-waste disposal: Throw it on the bike lane instead of in the river.

That’s an inkjet printer, by the way. The Woonasquatucket River is right below. I’m not quite in the mood to write about the efficacy of separated facilities. I’ll let the great Tom Vanderbilt handle that topic.

In navel-gazing news, check out yesterday’s top searches on my wordpress dashboard:

That’s great that someone is reaching my blog by searching for “free nsa hookups.” But that makes me wonder, if an nsa hookup isn’t free, is it truly nsa? And the answer to the last search in that list is: I have no idea.

Today’s top searches yielded an additional gem:

“RIPTA director of transportation” eh? Perhaps I will be getting some satisfaction after all.

Dear RIPTA, I demand satisfaction.

Yesterday, I exchanged words with a RIPTA driver (see the post for details). I wouldn’t describe the words as “heated,” but they were getting warm. I certainly didn’t demand satisfaction from the driver. Instead, I noted the number of the bus he was driving and vowed to call RIPTA the next day.

I thought for a while about what exactly to say when I called RIPTA, how exactly to frame the problem. I can’t really say that the driver ran me off the road, although he did pass me on the right. Basically, it comes down to the driver being rude and arrogant and generally being a bully. I called the general RIPTA number shortly before 1:00 PM today.

After navigating a little bit of phone tree, I reached a person who answered the phone, “RIPTA information.” This was said in the most bored affect imaginable. Just think of Patty & Selma Bouvier working at the DMV and shouting “Next!” [that’s right, I’ve already made two Simpsons references in the same post.]

I said, “Hello, I need to talk to someone about some rude and inappropriate comments directed at me by a bus driver.”

-ring ring- I didn’t get, “just a minute, I’ll transfer your call,” or “please hold.” The operator just shuttled me off to some other line.

On this line I got a voicemail with the usual drill, “Thank you for calling RIPTA customer service, all available representatives [yadda yadda], leave a message.” I repeated the above message, adding that I would like to discuss it with a supervisor.

While I was waiting for a call-back, I sent a message using the feedback form on the RIPTA website.

About 30 minutes later, I got a call from RIPTA. Not a bad turn-around time, pretty impressive.

The woman I talked to was polite, if a little world-weary. I relayed the story, pretty much as I told it on yesterday’s blog post. She took down the details, with particular attention to which bus might be the culprit. I’m still not certain if it was #0102 or #0120. But it was definitely the #99 route and I know exactly what time it happened. The RIPTA rep mentioned that she will go to the Director of Transportation with my complaint and it could take up to 5 days to get me an update.  I told her that I was not interested in the driver “getting in trouble” as such, I just felt it was important for drivers to understand that cyclists have the right to use the road. I let her know that I would talk to her next week about the incident.

Later in the afternoon, the rep sent me an email in response to my message on the feedback form:

“I spoke with you today, [carfreepvd] and I put your complaint in and it will go to the Director of Transportation so proper action can be taken.  Thank you.”

I responded with:


I appreciate your quick response. I just want to re-iterate: I’m not interested in the driver getting in trouble as such, I just think it’s important that drivers know that cyclists have a right to use the roads as well. Also, when a driver yells at a cyclist from a large bus, to the cyclist it feels like a threat, regardless of the intent of the driver.

Thank you for keeping me updated.

Sincerely,

[carfreepvd]

I’ve used my name and my personal email address in all of my communication with RIPTA, but on this blog I like to keep a patina of anonymity. I did not tell RIPTA that I would be writing about this on a blog. Anyone have any thoughts on the ethics of that? I’m not writing for a news organization where journalistic ethics would require that I identify myself as a journalist. To me, it sounds pretentious to say, “I’ll be writing about this in my blog” [the implied message being, “so be prepared to feel the wrath of my dozen of readers, sucka!”] I’d be willing to entertain arguments for disclosing my blogging to RIPTA. Personally, I think it’s more interesting to see what they say to someone when they don’t know that they are being blogged about.

Let’s see where we are in a month.

hmmm… no pictures to post that are relevant but I hate the idea of a blog post without pictures…. Oh yeah, here’s a still from an awesome animation from commuteorlando about how to avoid the dreaded “left cross.”

For real, you should check out the animation, it's pretty cool.

I’ll close this post with this, from commute orlando, “The left cross is not your fault, but it is in your interest to prevent it.”

Honk Report: Washington St. & North Main

A RIPTA Bus driver honked at me today as I was biking home at around 7PM. I’ll get to the play-by-play details in a moment. First, let’s all do a google image search for “RIPTA BUS.”  For me, the second result in the image search was this:

RIPTA Bus

The photo is from a post 2 years ago on the Providence Bicycle Coalition blog. (Their monthly meeting was this past Monday, and I missed it yet again – sorry guys.) Drawing conclusions from google search is an example of some grade-A lazy journalism. But I’m not a journalist, I’m a blogger, so… that’s kind of like being a lazy journalist. Anyhow, this image is kind of interesting, in light of today’s “event.”

I work downtown, very close to Kennedy Plaza which is the main bus hub for Rhode Island. I bike near buses every day, in fact, just throwing out a number here, I’d say I’m passed by (or pass) 2-5 buses every day that I’m on my bike. Including weekend rides and such, I must have close to a thousand encounters with buses in a year of cycling in Rhode Island. The vast majority of these encounters are without incident. However, not today.

When you bike the same route every day, you figure out how the lights are timed, and what lanes work the best. As I exit Kennedy Plaza and head east on Washington, I stay in the right hand lane of the two lanes. I ride in the right-hand wheel track of this lane. This way, when I’m stopped at the light, drivers wanting to turn right can pass me on the right and drivers wanting to go straight can pass me on my left. This is what I did on my way home from work tonight.

After crossing Memorial Blvd., Washington becomes 3 lanes wide. I continued straight in the middle lane, as illustrated below.

Like the little bike icon? I should probably make a better one.

I’m in the middle lane of a three lane street. That’s right I’m riding my bike in the middle of the street! Am I crazy? No. Do I have some sort of death wish? No. Am I a rude, arrogant cyclist bent on obstructing traffic by hogging the middle lane? No. (Do I have a persecution complex? Maybe). This is the safest way for me to ride on this block because I’m about to turn left at the next intersection, Washington & North Main. The light at Washington & Main is always red by the time I approach it, so I am not slowing anyone down by riding in the middle of the street. At Washington & N. Main, the left hand lane is left turn only, the middle lane is left or straight and the right lane is straight only. I ride in the middle lane of Washington because it allows me to turn left and then immediately be in the right hand lane in order to allow drivers to pass me again. As illustrated below.

Executing a left turn.

Hmm, what’s that looming behind me? It’s a RIPTA Bus. Today, I waited for the green light, signaled a left turn, and as I went into the intersection, the bus driver honked at me and I could hear him yell out his open window. He started to pass me on the right (um, illegal, right?) and I asked, “What did you say?” He responded, “Get out of the road!”

Ah, “get out of the road.” Few phrases uttered by a passing motorist inspire as much hatred as that one. You, dear reader, do not need to be reminded of the fact that I have the right to be in the road, so I’ll leave out the full list of justifications for it.

I’ve learned from my previous road rage incidents that it’s best to keep my cool. I responded, “I can be in the road.” The bus driver, “You were in the middle of the road!” Me: “I was turning left!” Bus Driver: “You were in my way.” He then continued on, passing me on the right.

Here’s a bad illustration of where the conversation took place (upper right):

Look how close that bus is to my bike!

If you regularly drive a car, it’s likely that you come close to a collision dozens of times a year. However, you are wrapped in a glass and steel cage the design of which has been refined over the years to provide you with a high degree of safety. If someone honks at you and yells, you are protected by soundproofing that diminishes the volume, and a radio that drowns out the noise. On a bike, you’re completely exposed. Let’s just say that getting honked at or almost getting hit while cycling feels a lot more personal.

Cyclists can go on and on about our close calls with stupid motorists who almost kill us. The thing is, we’re pretty much powerless to do anything about it. In an urban setting, we can usually catch up to an offender at the next light. But then what can we do? Ding their fenders with our U-lock? That may appeal to our inner Batman, but it’s just not a good idea. Yell and swear at them? That’s just more aggravation for the cyclist. Politely tell them the errors they made and how it almost cost us a head injury? Some motorists may respond to that, but we’re just as likely to get the finger as we are to get, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was that close.”

There’s one important difference between the car driver who yells at me and a bus driver who harasses me while I’m operating my vehicle in a safe and legal way: the bus driver has a an easily identifiable number printed above his head and several other places on the bus. He also has an employer I can call to complain. Will this get me anywhere? I don’t know. If the complaint actually makes its way to the driver, it will probably just make him hate cyclists more, but who cares, it needs to be done. I’ll give RIPTA a call tomorrow and we’ll see where this goes.

Postscript 1: I was able to catch up to the bus about 1/2 mile down the road (traveling by bus isn’t nearly as fast in an urban environment as traveling by bike). I gave him a happy wave. I used all five fingers.

Postscript 2 (warning, boring legal stuff): Rhode Island cycling law is kind of weird about left turns, check this out from Section 31-19-15: “A person riding a bicycle intending to turn left shall, unless he or she complies with the provisions of § 31-16-2, approach the turn in a position as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. The turn shall be made at a position as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway along which the bicyclist intends to proceed after turning.

(b) If the turn is made at a location where traffic movement is controlled by a police officer or by a traffic-control signal, the bicyclist may not proceed after crossing the intersecting roadway until a signal to proceed is given to traffic moving in the appropriate direction on the roadway along which the bicyclist intends to proceed. At all other locations, after turning and before crossing the roadway he or she is leaving, the bicyclist must yield the right-of-way to all traffic approaching on that roadway.”

I think they mean something like the box turn in this illustration:

From the commuteorlando blog (maybe)

I can see how a novice cyclist may want to do something like this at a big intersection as depicted, but this adds an additional traffic light cycle to you time, plus it just puts you right in front of a line of cars that didn’t expect a bike to roll over and into the front of “their” lane. But it’s the law right? Well, how about that part that says, “…unless he or she complies with the provisions of § 31-16-2…” What does that mean? Here’s what it says with regard to turning from a one-way to a one-way, “…the driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at an intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle, and, after entering the intersection, the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection, as nearly as practicable, in the left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction upon the roadway being entered.” Well, if I’d followed that, I would have been in the far left lane and then I would have needed to make my way back to the right after executing the turn. If everyone followed that part of the law at an intersection like this, then no one would be able to turn left from the middle lane which is marked “left turn or straight.” The law doesn’t even mention a three lane situation like the one in question.

When I get old, it’s pretty obvious that I’m going to be the guy who writes angry letters to the government. Oh well, I’ll need something to keep me busy.

Honk Report: Washington Street & North Main

Just a quick post about getting honked at today. I was biking home from work, out of Kennedy Plaza on Washington Street as it crosses the river and approaches North Main. At the corner of Washington & North Main the three lanes are: Left Lane – left turn only, Middle Lane – left turn or straight ahead, Right Lane – right turn.  I need to turn left from Washington onto North Main, and then be in the right-hand lane, so the middle lane is the most logical choice. At the intersection before this (Washington & Memorial), I move into the middle of the right-hand lane, and follow it into the middle lane after crossing Memorial. As I rode down the middle of the street, the white Hyundai behind me began honking repeatedly. I did not move. We were both stopped by the light at Washington & North Main.  I looked over at the young man, waved, and pointed out that there were two perfectly good lanes that he could use.

To be fair, I should probably start a

Courtesy Report: Hope St. near Rochambeau

I visited a dry cleaner/tailor today on my lunch break. I was waiting on the east side of the street to cross the street and head south. One car pulling out tried to wave me across, but I hadn’t mounted the bike yet so I indicated that she should go ahead. Eventually another car slowed down and waved me in front of him, and I was happy to take it since no cars were coming in the opposite direction. I could have waited longer, it wasn’t too big a deal, but I figure if someone really wants to let me get in front of them, than it would be rude not to. I gave the driver a “thank you wave” and I was off.

God this is going to get boring to read if I’m doing this all the time.

The Honk Report was originated by Carbon Trace, a blog based in Springfield MO. I use it as an attempt to keep track of how many drivers honk at me unnecessarily. Please do not honk at cyclists. Car horns are much louder when you are not inside a steel and glass cocoon.

My First Century! (well, metric century to be specific)

After a nice easy shopping ride to Target/TJ’s/EMS on Saturday, I was up for a big ride on Sunday. The local ivy-league university’s commencement was taking place, which means that you can’t do much on the East Side because everything is clogged with students and families. Spouse was taking part in commencement, so that left me free to pursue my own interests.  I had absolutely no soreness from my shopping jaunt (aprox. 30 miles, much of it with full panniers), so I figured I could handle a ride across the entire state!

Before setting out, I figured I would give my bike a quick clean & lube, and finally install my cyclometer. It had been sitting dormant in the basement for quite a while with a dead battery. Since I’m now getting more interested in distance riding I figured I might as well take the time to install the thing.  After the clean & lube, I started re-installing the cyclcometer. Zip ties hold the transmitter at the fork and a bracket holds the computer display to the handlebars. As I was attaching the bracket, the tiny little nut fell out of my grasp and on to my gravel driveway:

Let me know if you find it in there. My favorite local hardware store is closed on Sundays, but I knew my route would take me past a big-box home improvement store where I hoped to find the appropriate nut.

This is basically the first distance bike ride (solo) that I’ve done where I felt like I had all of the necessary emergency equipment. My bag was stuffed with: multi-tool, spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, pump, and some food & water. I was ready to hit the road!

I decided to ride through the edge of the campus just to check out the commencement scene. This decision resulted in:

HONK REPORT!*

I biked down Thayer Street and then prepared to make a right turn on Angell. I signaled as I pulled up to the right hand side of the road and waited for the light. A BMW SUV pulled up next to me. When the light turned green, I proceeded to turn right and the BMW tried to pass me while turning. While this might work in NASCAR, it’s not a good idea on Thayer St.  Besides, we were both turning right, and in NASCAR you only need to turn left. He honked when he saw that I would be in his way. I had the right of way so I made sure I was clear of his car and continued up the street. I initially wrote a moment-by-moment account of the rest of this encounter, but I’ve deleted it.  Let’s just say that I held to my right of way and continued up the street at a reasonable pace and a safe distance from all barriers and door zones.  The BMW revved its engine behind me. To which I say, all you helicopter parents hover my wheel.

[close honk report]

Moving on. I made my way to the big-box store, oh all right I’ll dispense with the anonymity, it was a Lowes. I’m calling them out by name because as I approached the store, I realized I would soon need to write another chapter in:

The Indignity of Bike Parking: Lowes Home Improvement in Cranston

This particular Lowes features plenty of car parking, ample disabled parking, but of course, no bike rack was visible at the front of the store. This was not particularly surprising, but I thought that on the off chance they might have one in the back for their employees. I dismounted and walked my bike into the entrance and asked the first employee I saw if they had a bike rack I could use. She said that they did not, but I could lock to one of the cart racks out in the parking lot. This didn’t seem like a great idea to me since people tend to haphazardly toss their carts in there and could easily damage my bike.  I asked if I could lock up to the flower racks out front. This would require moving some flowers around and would be a little unsightly. Another employee had joined the first and they both balked at this idea. The original employee suggested that I just leave it with the returns counter, but I didn’t like that idea because there was nothing to lock to. Employee #2 also didn’t like that idea because he didn’t want the store to be responsible for a missing bike. Eventually we settled on the interior cart rack rail. The bike would be out of the way, and unlikely to be hit by an errant cart or poorly controlled car. I found the nut I needed, of course I had to buy a 10 pack of them (uh oh, starting to sound like my dad). At $0.81 for the entire transaction, not much to complain about. Except for the parking! This store is within 100 feet of a 15 mile long bike path! In all of the parking indignity that I regularly encounter, I try hard not to dump on the employees of whatever store has the bad parking. Instead I’m going to become one of those guys – in this case one of those guys who writes emails to companies that do things he doesn’t like. I’ll keep you updated if anyone ever responds.

Wait a minute, what was this post about? Ah yes, my longest ride ever!

Okay, at last I’d installed my cyclometer. My very humble cyclometer. I took a picture of my revised cockpit earlier this evening:

I got this cyclometer at MEC for about $20 while living in Canada. It was cheap, but it’s still working! It might seem a little silly to put a speedometer/odometer on a bike, but having it there and knowing how fast you are going and how far you’ve gone does change the experience of a longer ride. You can set mini-goals for yourself as you go along, such as “can I keep an 18 mph pace on this flat stretch?” “can I go faster than 8 mph up this hill?” “can I keep my average speed for the entire trip above 13 mph?” As you can see from my mini-goals, I am a very modest cyclist. Mine is an extremely basic computer – the fancier ones have an additional sensor to measure your cadence (aka how fast you are pedaling) and the fanciest even include a heart rate monitor.

The first stretch after Lowes is a little dull. It’s almost completely straight and almost completely flat. It was almost 11 AM by this time, and the path was starting to fill up with what appeared to be casual riders out for a few miles on a lovely day on a holiday weekend. I totally dropped all of them and left them eating my dust.  Actually, as tempting as it may be to blow past them, I do slow down quite a bit when passing the casual riders. I see no need to frighten anyone with my blazing speed. As mentioned in an earlier post on the Washington Secondary Bike Path, the path runs for about 15 miles in total. After the boring straight part, the path curves around with the Pawtuxet river, going past many old mills. This is the river that saw the worst flooding earlier this year. I was on the lookout for evidence of this flooding, but it seems that the path was above most of the damage. I did catch a glimpse of a bridge that was knocked out by the flooding.

The pavement ends in Coventry, but the path continues unpaved all the way to Connecticut.  When I reached the end of the pavement, I stopped for lunch and to allow myself to be swarmed by mosquitos – always a refreshing break.  I looked out past the end of the pavement and thought I’d give it a go. That gravel doesn’t look too bad, right?

It was nice riding in the woods, but the trail quickly deteriorated into a bumpy, root crossed mess. I checked the GPS and headed over to Rt-117 at the first opportunity.

Ah, the open road. Smooth pavement, no slow pokes clogging the bike path and motorcycle after motorcycle blowing out my eardrums with their g-d straight pipes. Rt-117 started out well with a nice wide shoulder. There were a few sandy patches here and there, but the road was smooth, and relatively free of broken glass. This part of Rt-117 is even a “signed bike route” which doesn’t seem to mean much except that there are signs declaring it to be a bike route. The signs stopped when the shoulder ended. Aside from a few tentative rides outside of Springfield, I don’t think I’d been on country roads without shoulders. I was a little aprehensive, but the road was smooth, and there didn’t seem to be any sudden hills that would lead to a car overtaking me suddenly. More importantly, the speed limit here was 35. Slower-moving cars have more time to react to seeing me, and they won’t throw me off of the road with their shockwave. I was passed by many cars and motorcycles, but no commercial trucks (which throw off a huge shockwave). Almost every car that passed me gave me plenty of room, with many going all the way into the other lane in order to give me plenty of room as I passed. I was passed by pack after pack of motorcycles, sometimes 20 at a time, and these seemed to be the only vehicles who got too close for comfort (but maybe it was just their extremely loud engines). Rt-117 curves around and goes up and down as it makes it’s way to Connecticut. I was going about 8 MPH on the uphills, and reached almost 30 MPH on the downhills. My bike felt pretty steady on the descents, and I only reached down for the granny gear a couple of times on the ascents. About 5 miles from the border, I was starting to feel it. And by “it” I mean the rubber in my legs.  Eventually, I reached my goal:

Luckily, there was a little roadside picnic area where I could rest briefly before the ride home.

Here’s the veloroutes.org map of my ride:

And the all-important elevation graph:

That’s just one way, of course. After my brief rest, and a little hydration (that’s VSB for “drinking some water”) I headed back home. It certainly felt a little easier on the way home, I think that the overall downhill slope helped with that as well as the normal phenomenon where retracing a route one has just taken always seems shorter. I did see a few other road cyclists on RT-117, one even passed me as I was heading up a hill on the way home. And when I say passed, I mean he dropped me like MCA drops science (which is like when Galileo dropped the orange, or so I’m told). Here I was huffing and puffing my way up a hill when I hear a faint click of a bike and then this guy is blasting right past me. I didn’t even see what kind of bike he was riding. He was definitely in far VSB territory – the only extra weight on his bike was his water bottle and very small saddle bag. Within 3 minutes he was completely out of sight. It was a little humbling, just like almost everything else about this ride. It also made me kind of want a light-weight road bike.

You may be looking at my veloroutes map and thinking to yourself, “if his one-way distance was 29.21 miles, that means his roundtrip was less than the necessary 62.1375 miles to make a metric century.” Well, my friend, I had to make a little side-trip before I headed home. Despite loading up my panniers with 20 pounds of fruit and nuts the day before, I’d forgotten a few key items from Trader Joe’s. Most notably, the pound-plus chocolate bar. By the way, there’s no bike rack at the Trader Joe’s, so I locked up to this patriotic railing:

I know, I'm not actually locked in this picture, but you get the point.

I’ve seen worse as far as bike parking goes. And with that bunting, I could hardly call the parking situation undignified. At least no one came out and told me to move it. Whoa, look how high and proud my cyclometer is flying in the above picture as compared to where it rests now:

totally aero now

After my pit-stop at TJ’s, I was back on the bike path home. It was mostly downhill, until I got back to the East Side, where I once again climbed up through the commencement festivities.

In the grand scheme of recreational cycling 100 kilometers is not much. I recently met a cyclist in Olathe, KS who routinely goes on 300, 400 even 600 km rides. But for me, it was the longest ride I’ve taken. I was very tired at the end of the day, spacey even. I could barely make conversation for a few hours after I got home. My legs were tired and my hands were sore (other contact points, however, were perfectly fine.) And I have to admit, I feel like I’m starting to get bitten by the bug of road cycling. I want to hit the road again next weekend (but I’ll be out of town and sans bike), It’s almost 11 PM and I kinda want to go out for 5 miles right now. I may even wake up early tomorrow and get in a few miles. (We’ll see how my newly increased love of cycling fares vs. my long-standing love of sleeping in.)  So I’m going to lay out a public goal right now: I plan to ride a true century by the end of summer – 100 miles in one day. Let’s see how that goes seeing as how a day later, my hands are still very sore.

*The honk report is inspired by the Carbon Trace blog. It’s an attempt to quantify the number of times cars honk at me.

Honk Report: Cranston

I did a little utility cycling today with a trip to three stores in Warwick and Cranston.  The furthest away is the Target on Bald Hill road – about 12 miles from my house. In Rhode Island terms, this is a big trip. I can get almost everything I need at the stores in my neighborhood, but I kind of like the ride to Target, most of which is on the Washington Secondary Bike Path. It also means I get to visit Trader Joe’s, just down the street. I stocked up at TJ’s with about 10 pounds of nuts and fruit, and I cleaned up on Cliff Bars at Target. I was pretty loaded down at this point – I’d guess that my panniers with their loads were almost equal to the weight of my bike. There’s kind of an odd phenomenon to riding with full panniers: once you get rolling, it’s almost like the load just pushes you along. My bike has much more inertia with a full load and it seems more stable in a way. It certainly makes going uphill more difficult – but there’s just a certain heft to riding this way. Anyhoo, I also stopped at EMS to check out their jerseys.

After leaving EMS, I had the option of making my way back to the bike path, or heading home on Reservoir Ave (aka RI Route 2). I’d been on Rt. 2 for a while by this point – it was the best way to get from TJ’s to EMS. There seemed to be plenty of shoulder, and the drivers were giving me plenty of room when they passed. The way to get back to the path seemed convoluted, plus I’d only be on the path for about 3 miles. So, I opted to stay on Rt. 2. Cars passed me, I passed cars at stoplights – the usual suburban stop-and-go. There were a few places where I couldn’t ride in the shoulder due to: excessive amounts of sand (no visit from the street cleaner?), cars parked in the shoulder area (legally), or broken glass. So, I rode in the right hand lane, and most of the cars went around me without a fuss. A red Honda Accord honked at me before overtaking me. They gave me plenty of room, and instead of glaring at them, I decided to take Jenny Ondioline’s advice – I smiled, waved and blew them a kiss. The two middle-aged ladies in the car seemed to get a kick out of it, and we all went on with our business. And now instead of stewing and feeling embarrassed about getting all road-ragey like I did a few weeks ago, I’m feeling pretty relaxed. Therefore, from now on, it’s all smiles, waves and kisses for all honkers.

Quasi-honk report: instead of tackling the 12 % grade on my usual route home, I went up through the college hill area. Brown’s commencement is tomorrow, so the area is full of people right now, including slow-driving luxury vehicles desperately looking for a parking place. Once I was a few blocks from home and traffic picked up, I was passed by a Tahoe or some such GM SUV. A passenger yelled something out the window at me. I’ll file this under honk report, although it’s a little different. Evidently, there’s an odd Rhode Island tradition of car passengers leaning out their windows and yelling random things at pedestrians (and cyclists, I suppose). I’ve tried using popular internet search engines to figure out the origin of this, but I haven’t found it yet. When I’ve asked native Rhode Islanders what the deal is, they usually just say, “I dunno, it’s just a Rhode Island thing to do.” It seems like it’s not particularly aggressive, just random and mostly intended to startle the pedestrian. Still, I’m filing it under Honk Report.

(the honk report is inspired by the Carbon Trace blog from Springfield, MO)

No pictures from my ride today. Instead, here’s an old Ferrari I spotted during my visit to Portland. I’m not a big Ferrari fan, they are so far out of my league that it’s not even worth thinking about. But this one is just plain beautiful.