Getting My Stripes

After many phone calls and much wheedling, pleading and cajoling, it appears I’m getting my stripes.

Stripes

Those are pedestrian crosswalk-style stripes to mark the Jeff Davis bike path as it crosses Tulane Avenue. Since they were resurfacing Tulane Avenue (and Airline Highway) it seemed like a good time.

The idea of course is that it’s a cheap way to enhance safety. Many motorists won’t notice the stripes at all, but a few will. If even a small percentage of people become more aware of the path it will help.

Of course, such striping would also be desirable at the dozen or so other street crossings the bike path makes, but Tulane Avenue is possibly the busiest. Canal Street would be good too.

However, the real hazard at Tulane Avenue is the fact that a cyclist can’t see when the light is about to change. Every so often I will get stranded on the neutral ground, which on Tulane is razor-thin, without even room for a bike. I have to turn my bike sideways while the cars whiz past on either side, way to close for comfort. Possible solutions would be a button to delay the light changing for a few seconds, or one of those countdown displays that lets you know when the light’s about to change.

I’m not holding my breath. But please allow me a moment to revel and bask in the glory of these stripes.

Iked

I got Iked on my bike this morning.

I was partway to work, and I noticed the sky was getting dark — really dark. Hope I can make it there before… And then the heavens opened and the water poured down.

By the time I got to campus, the rain had practically stopped. I guess that was a feeder band for Hurricane Ike.

Ike in the Gulf

I got soaked. I mean drenched. To the skin. Every piece of clothing I had was saturated with rainwater, even my underwear.

I don’t remember when I last had such a thorough soaking on the way to work. That’s why I keep a set of clothes and a towel at the office. It’s always nice to have a legitimate reason for getting naked at work. Now if I can just get my shoes dry before I head home I’ll be happy.

A Few Humble Suggestions

The Louisiana Department of Transportation held a public meeting at City Park Tuesday night to gather input for a statewide bicycle/pedestrian master plan. I missed it, but good ole Charlie London tells me we can still send ideas to [email protected]

Here’s what I sent:

I commute to work every day in New Orleans using the Jefferson Davis Parkway bike path. A simple, cheap thing could be done to enhance the safety of this path — just put some of those white bumps on pavement where the path crosses the various streets. This would help motorists know the path is there. Also, how about a sign or two indicating there’s a bike path? And finally, where the path crosses Tulane Ave. is quite dangerous. Cyclists can’t tell when the light will change and I often get stuck on the neutral ground, which unfortunately is very narrow and difficult to be on with a bike because the cars are passing in very close proximity. I’m not sure what the best solution is here but something could surely be done.

I’m don’t know if this is the kind of information they were looking for. Probably not. Oh well. I’ve been wanting to make these suggestions for years and I’ll pretty much tell anyone who listens. I think this path is maintained by the city, not the state. Maybe I should send it to the Department of Public Works or Parks & Parkways.

Update: I got the following in reply.

Thanks for your comments. We are working on a statewide bicycle and pedestrian policy plan for the LDOTD, so while your comment can be part of the public record, which may be helpful to the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator in the future, we aren’t doing a case by case look at all bike facilities in the state – we are focused on the policy that ‘drives’ the project development process.

It’s my understanding that that bike path is city maintained, so you may want to contact the public works department, or the Regional Planning Commission.

Transporting Persephone

In just a few weeks, Xy will start back teaching, which means we will be putting our infant daughter into daycare. Aside from all the other anxieties this engenders, I’m trying to solve the transportation puzzle.

See, I will be responsible for dropping the girl off in the mornings. The daycare is just four blocks from our house, a straight shot up a bumpy but relatively quiet street. I’d like to take her there and then proceed to work without doubling back to the house.

And, of course, I’d like to avoid using a car.

My first thought was I’d strap her to my body and ride my bike. She’s too young to sit in a bike seat. We’ve got a couple devices for strapping a baby to one’s chest, thanks to the generosity of friends, and one for the back too. Our pediatrician actually approved this plan, recommending we get her a helmet.

Shopping for a helmet gave me pause, though. They don’t make bike helmets for kids under the age of one, the general consensus being that kids that young should not be riding on a bike.

I’m not worried about traffic. I’m pretty tall, and I’ve got a big tall bike. If I were to fall over with a baby strapped to my body, she could be seriously injured.

Granted, I would be careful, and I haven’t wiped out on my bike for many years. In fact, I don’t think I’ve really taken a spill since I’ve moved to New Orleans, nine years ago.

I was contemplating this fact a couple days ago as I rode my bike home for work. Just as I was congratulating myself mentally, my left foot somehow got wedged between the pedal and the pavement, and I was jerked forward off the seat and very nearly lost the ability to procreate. (Good thing that mission is already accomplished.) I didn’t fall, but it was a near thing. The morning after next I woke to find a really nasty bruise on my inner thigh. It took me a while to figure out where it came from.

Anyway, that’s my long-winded way of saying I’m not sure my original plan was such a good one after all. So I’ve been considering alternatives.

They do make those trailers that trundle along behind the bike. That would be much safer, but I think she’s still too young. She’ll only be 5 1/2 months when daycare begins.

So now I’m thinking I’ll simply strap her on to my chest and walk my bike there. Then I can drop her off and ride the bike to work.

That’s the current state of my thinking, but I’m always open to new ideas.

Explosions

My day started off with a bang. I’d just changed the inner tube on my bike because I ran over a screw the other day. First flat I’ve had in over a year, seems like. I pumped it back up, went to the sink to wash my hands and BANG. Really loud. Scared me. At first I thought the compressor on our new freezer had blown, or something crazy like that. It was the tube, of course. Had I simply over-inflated it?

So I drove to work. Xy didn’t need the car. I’m back on the java junk after six months or so of caffeine free living. But my second cup cooled off a little, so I stuck it in the microwave for a minute and BANG. Half the cup was splattered around the inside of the microwave. I’ve heard that can happen but never experienced it before. Later Janice noticed the microwave was not working any longer, so I unplugged it.

On the way home for lunch I picked up another inner tube. This time I checked the tire for any sharp protuberances. Didn’t find any. Pumped up the new tube. BANG. Again. Something about that loud noise makes the air look like it’s vibrating. I guess it is.

So I took the whole wheel in to my friendly neighborhood bike shop. They diagnose I need a new tire. So I get one, and I’m back in business.

Explosions. It seems like everything I touch today is blowing up.

But these incidents are nothing compared to the news that’s erupting through my computer. An old friend has been arrested. Another old friend’s dad died. Psychic explosions.

When I plugged the microwave back in, it worked.

Critical Bush

Critical Path

Today I rode in my first Critical Mass. We rode from New Orleans to suburban Metairie where George W. Bush was having a fundraiser.

Riding

The main chant was: “No more Bush! No more war!” One sign said, “No more presidents.”

Solidarity with the Iraqi Resistance

I agree with those sentiments, but I think a simpler anti-war message might have been more effective. Bush-bashing just comes off as partisan politics, and it alienates many people who have a strong negative reaction to any disrespect to our president.

Still, some show of resistance is better than nothing. I was proud to be a part of it.

I don’t know if the president was already there or not, but Josh and I left early. I wanted to get back to work. We rode back on the same route we came, but it was blocked off now in preparation for Bush’s motorcade. There were no cars to get in our way. It was kind of spooky. A motorcycle cop told us to ride faster and escorted us to the parish line.