No More Winter Biking for Me

I’m standing at the bus stop tonight, a cyclist goes by. I think I ought to smile so I’m not one of those disgruntled looking folks that sits in their car or stands waiting unhappily. I’m actually a pretty freaking happy guy! But I quickly toss that notion aside, it is cold, I can refrain from smiling at this point in the evening.

I turn and look down the street to see the bus that just slowly overtook the cyclist coming over into the cyclist’s lane. However the bus has come very close to the cyclist, and some lady in a BMW SUV attempting to turn the WRONG way on 3rd Avenue. She has her SUV protruding out into the street. Since the driver has just stuck her vehicle’s nose out into the road, the cyclist has to swerve around her. However the bus is coming over into his lane at this point.

This moment he just barely makes it by her illegal action, the bicylist slips and falls! I note in my mind, that the back wheels of the bus haven’t passed where he’s fallen and he’s been pushed up against the back of the bus! I feel my chest and stomach tighten as I mumble “oh shit” and start to run across the street to help. His hand and back leg are within inches of the back wheel. (For those that don’t realize this implication, a bus will crush any part of a human, you do NOT recover from this. If it rolls over any part of the body, that part of the body is effectively dead weight, if a person’s torso is run over they are dead. There is no surviving this, the wheels of a bus are almost always fatal).

My mind is racing, I don’t want to see this. I don’t want to ever see another person be killed by a bullet, a vehicle. I don’t want to see the blood, the horror on others faces. I don’t want the thought in my own mind.

The cyclist I see moves just a bit, but is it enough? I fear for the cyclist’s fate. Maybe because I relate so closely to anyone riding a bike. Trying to not fall prey to the rat race of the auto world’s noose. An individual staying healthy and doing more than their part for society, for their community, just by riding. I hate this feeling in my gut. The lady, in her obliviousness, starts to illegally turn right onto 3rd Avenue. She’s going morbidly slow now, I can’t see the rider. I start to cross Seneca as I walk toward where the cyclist went down.

The world, even though I know there is noise all around, is silent. I am focused solely on hearing the cyclist. I’ve heard no scream, no sound whatsoever. This must be a good sign, I hope. Finally the cyclist stands up quickly, just as the bus is pulling well past him. He is unharmed except for the fall. The lady, a bit of humanity coming out, rolls the window down and pulls slowly behind him. Albeit illegally, she now slows to block traffic while he gets out of the roadway.

I am relieved, but considering the riding infrastructure for these winter conditions, I’m somewhat disgruntled. Seattle has oriented its streets toward longevity from high capacity, high weight vehicles. The roads are not oriented toward ride quality, smoothness, or I would argue safety except for large vehicles (i.e. trucks).

I’ve wrecked once this year, and I blame three things; myself, my bike, and the city’s streets. With that, I’ve decided I’m not riding anymore until things improve, which it doesn’t appear they will considering the recent vote. Seattle would rather have the dead than safer streets. I give up, I’ll be back on the two wheels when it warms up and the road conditions aren’t so perilous, at least in downtown Seattle.

San Francisco – Miniaturized

It’d be really cool to see a comparable video of Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver BC.  Cool stuff!

San Francisco: The Miniature City from MINIMUS on Vimeo.

America Led the Way With High Class Rail…

…up until about 1955.

Now though, France smokes our efforts by orders of magnitude, while we clunk around in our slow poorly coordinated cars and roadways. Very sad, very pathetic.

“In 2007, SNCF generated profits of €1.1 billion (approximately US$1.75 billion or £875 million) driven largely by higher margins on the TGV network.”

If Amtrak was managed anywhere near SNCF and a measly $40-60 billion were put into the system (outside of the north east corridor, it can handle its own) the system could easily haul in this kind of profit!  Yeah, I said profit, NOT revenue, PROFIT!

Ugh. I could scream until the end of time, but I sadly concede that the US is pretty much finished when it comes to world class transport. Unless we get some real leadership and the market gets involved again, we’ve aligned ourselves to be relegated to third world transportation status.

Two references:

In addition we’re so close minded to our history, we won’t even allow (err, well, most politicians won’t – especially the Democrats) bidding to build out rail service!  What the…?