I had a great time celebrating the election at the Citizens for a Responsive Local Government party tonight: more about that later. Right now I want to share an interesting bicycling related interaction that I had on my way home.
The following story is made all the more interesting because of a conversation about bicycling I had at the Election Party. The person I was listening to had just returned from a visit to Europe, and she told a wonderful story about the friendliness toward bicycles in the area she visited. She told of not riding in a car for the whole duration of her stay. She said that car drivers customarily expressed an attitude and behavior of respect toward bicyclists. It sounded to me like car-drivers made a general point to give bicyclists the right of way.
Now, what a contrast that is to here in Olympia, where every time I get on my bicycle I feel like I have to fend for my life. And I worry about those cyclists amongst us who are less defensively minded. And I really strongly wish we had a safe environment to ride bikes around here.
After having a delicious cup of Sleeping Universe at SIZIZIS ($1 off tea on Tuesdays...) I stopped by the new City Hall in order to graph some photons (pictured). After that, la-dee-dah, I got on my bike and started riding East on 4th Ave toward home. I was on the left side of the street, and since I turn left off of 4th Avenue, I stayed in the left hand lane the whole way from Cherry Street until my turn-off. One-half block from where I turn off 4th (on Quince) I heard a loud voice behind me saying "Get in the bike lane." So I yelled back, "what am I supposed to do if I am turning left?"
Turns out the loud-voice was that of an Olympia Police Officer.
I was pissed. I mean I could understand it if was a private citizen. Someone just trying to give a guy a hard time - after all people do need ego reinforcement, and our society doesn't provide a whole lot of healthy ways for people to boost their self-esteem. But this was a cop.
So I stopped.
Article in Slate this week: "American drivers should learn to love the roundabout" - compares the "modern" roundabout to older styles, traffic circles, etc., then uses a cute acronym to explain why they rawk. (STEP: Safety, Time, Energy, Public Space)
Also: "a larger question here is whether people who cannot manage to merge at low speed into a counter-clockwise circle and, yes, perhaps even change lanes in that circle, before finding the correct exit should actually be holding licenses that enable them to operate heavy machinery in the first place." Daaaamn...nice diss.
I gotta say I'm excited. I love the smooth swoopiness of the roundabout. I know bikes are supposed to exit to the sidewalk on most roundabouts, but sometimes it's just fun to roll through with traffic.
* Boulevard Road still strikes me as one of the funnier street names out there, right up with Farwest Drive Southwest in Lakewood, where I used to live. Is it possible to cram more street descriptors into a single street?!
Our street is getting to the consistency of a slushee with ice chunks in it. chad360 & I have spent some time out there shoveling -- no sidewalk, but we've worked on the edge of the roadway, and he did some cleaning on the roundabout at the corner.
But it's turning into water pretty fast, and the drains aren't draining very well...I can't imagine we're alone in this, either. Anybody know what happens now? (Other than, well duh, flooding.)
Oh, I can't wait until it's gone and I can get back on my bike! I tried riding around our neighborhood this afternoon. Some spots had "tracks" in between berms of snow, others were clear, and some were slushy messes that I had to get off and walk through. Bleh.
(Critter report: saw a lizard today, which I narrowly avoided rolling right over, and some squirrels. I can't believe I didn't include squirrels in yesterday's post!)
Yesterday I had a thing after work that involved biking out on Martin Way & then Carpenter Road. I had almost forgotten how squirrelly it can be riding on really busy highway-like roads. I love biking, but I'm not exactly what you'd call the most expert cyclist. (As chad360 can attest to.)
Yes, there is a bike lane on Martin Way; however, there's also quite the dip by Top Foods: a long downhill followed by a long uphill, and the traffic zips by at (I would guess) 45+ MPH. So I stuck to the right edge of the bike lane, more in the shoulder than the lane. Heading east, I got to a pretty nice clip myself on the downhill, which is fun if slightly unnerving.
The Puget Sound is in serious danger. Pollution has wreaked horrible consequences on this majestic waterway. For example, 92% of wild salmon runs are no more, and several stocks of other species are collapsing as well. Why is the Puget Sound in danger? Ask an expert.
Take it from William Dietrich. He published an article in the Seattle Times yesterday. It's about this very subject. It's very well written and it's titled: "Puget Sound: One man's indictment, love poem and call to arms", here's a link: seattletimes.nwsource.com/Read more...
From a local website, seeminlgy based on this article from a conservative magazine:
Quietly but systematically, the Mah/Clarkson administrations are advancing the plan to build a huge Oly/Lacey Super Highway, one/fourth a football-field-wide, through the heart of the Olympia, from the Lacey border at Komachin Middle School to the Tumwater border north of the cemetery.
Once complete, the new road will allow cars from the far east of Thurston County to enter Olympia through the Lacey's Mullen Road , bypassing the downtown Olympia exits in the process. The suburban cars, without passing by the highway sign for the Urban Onion, will drive on what will be the county's most modern road straight into the heart of Olympia. The Lacey cars will cross the border in two lanes.
As incredible as this plan may seem to some readers, the first Trans-Lacey segment of the Olympia Lacey Super Highway is ready to begin construction next year. Various local government agencies, dozens of state agencies, and scores of private neighborhood and homeowner associations have been working behind the scenes to create the Olympia Lacey Super Highway, despite the lack of comment on the plan by President Bush. The Olympia public is largely asleep to this key piece of the coming “North Thurston County Union” that government planners in the new trilateral region of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater are about to drive into reality.
In my months of reading Olympia city council packets every Friday, I had read of and heard rumors of this project. I had always scoffed at the myth. There was simply no way the maze of roads and suburban subdivisions in SE Olympia and Lacey could be straightened to make such a road possible.
But, after seeing the evidence slowly mount before my eyes, I can no longer but believe that such a monterous project is coming.