Thursday, February 23, 2012

Right of weigh.

Broad Ripple Avenue expands to four lanes east of the Monon Trail, five lanes if you count the turn lane for most of the distance.

Or at least it used to. They repaved it with a nice fresh layer of stimulus over the last year or so but, possibly because there are usually bonus dollars involved for doing "green" things, they added bike lanes, reducing autos to one lane in each direction for most of the distance.

I don't know who in their right mind would bicycle down Broad Ripple Avenue, since that's just begging for a new career as a hood ornament, but there you go. I've never yet seen anybody making use of these lanes, at any rate.

Anyway, as a result of this, the intersections at a couple of smaller cross streets now feature little chicanes painted on the asphalt, as the auto and bicycle lanes jink left to leave room for right-turning cars (which are apparently intended to filter through the bike lane without collecting any Schwinn curb feelers).

So, Tuesday I'm driving down Broad Ripple Avenue, tail-end Charlie in a line of cars, and as our stream of cars hits each intersection, the whole conga line weaves through the chicane, with the exception of the vehicle two cars ahead of me, a navy-blue DeVille (or DTS, whatever Cadillac called them after the chrome fell off.) It is ploughing resolutely forward, not about to be herded off its intended path by anything as insignificant as paint stripes on the pavement.

Then we get to the part of Broad Ripple closer to Keystone, where the road used to widen out to five lanes with ample shoulders, and is now two travel lanes, a turn lane, and the two widest bike lanes in Christendom, and who should drift all the way to the right? The Caddy.

And suddenly I realize from behind that there's nobody driving it. Not the faintest bump of the peak of a blue-rinse chignon or tweed fedora is disturbing the horizontal line of the top of the headrest. I am seized with a vision of Clara Peller behind the wheel, peering over the dashboard and steering largely by the power lines overhead, impervious to the occasional spandex-muffled thump under her wheels as she mows down a whole Tour de France's worth of cyclists on the way to get her poodle's nails done at the doggie day spa. (Yes, Broad Ripple has a doggie day spa.)

I love my bicycle, but you won't catch me riding it down Broad Ripple Avenue.
.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lol this AM.

Tango Juliet said...

Ditto! :)

Joseph said...

We Bloomingtoneans have the same sort of 5 lane main thoroughfare with requisite bike lane. I occasionally see a cyclist on it and wonder why they don't use the Stimulus Express created just for them a block over that goes to the same place in town.

Myself, I think they should paint "chalk" outlines at the intersections instead of that dumbass cyclist icon.

PS Don't get me started on the Stimulus "Bike Friendly Neighborhood" or "This Project Paid for By The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" signs littered about. Seriously, they might as well just say "Fuck You Joe" for as much as they offend me.

Nathan said...

You can feel free to thank Erika Smith at the local fishwarp for bullying the city into building bike lanes that no sane biker will ever use.

perlhaqr said...

Federal intervention does help explain why 4 out of 5 brand new bike lanes (including our obnoxiously branded "Bicycle Boulevard", complete with 18 mph speed limit for cars) in town go over the largest freestanding hill in town.

Anonymous said...

I used to ride a bicycle, but that before cell phones.
Now, 99.8% of the drivers either have one plastered to their ear or are holding it below the dashboard so the police can't see them texting.
Very few people DRIVE anymore, they just sort of herd the thing in a general manner.

Anonymous said...

A long time ago I came across a word whose definition was " the space that exists between the top of the dash and below the edge of the top of the steering wheel, as viewed by the driver". This would be what your Clara Peller would be looking at the road through.

azmountaintroll said...

Unless bike paths are physically separated from automobile traffic, they're no more useful than "No Guns Allowed" signs. Bicyclists are at the bottom of the traffic food chain, and allowing them to believe otherwise does them no favors.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. I with you.

I love my bicycle ( not a spandex weenie, back off, I just like bicycles) but those HUGE bike lanes on major avenues, that massively f-up car traffic & offer no protection to the bicycles: Total waste of resources.

As some one note they better off most of the time a block over, or frankly just making sure DRIVERS get better drivers ed, including a 5 year re-pass of driver license.

Seriously, as a car driver too, what I really want is better drivers. People who signal, who looked, and you understand the written and traditional rules of the road. (e.g. the lights are out at the intersection, who goes next?)

Ygolonac said...

Back when I was growing up, the "Bike Route" was made so only by signs every so often, and was simply a residential street running through the city. No fancy-pants "lanes" or anything. (Great Falls, MT, late '70s-'80s)

Of course, I always rode on the assumption that it was up to *me* to detect and avoid the Big Iron - and except for one red-light-runner who tapped my rear wheel as I was clearing an intersection, it worked out.

'course, if there was no traffic/traffic at safe distance or heading, it was Anarchy Road time - sidewalk to street to the wrong way to running the light and making the turn off the 4-lane major road and through the "Road Ends Here" barricades. Whaddya want from a kid on a BMX bike?

Where I live now, though, there's all too many SERIOUS BIDNESS riders all decked out, who seem to think the SAME ROADS SAME RULES SAME RIGHTS patches are protective force-fields and thus they're perfectly fine busting lights/stop-signs into heavy traffic and making right turns from the far left lane across five lanes of traffic and such. (Well, the motor vehicles do that too, but they do it faster. They's some powerful stupid up here in Eastern Washington.)

Speaking of which, to to dodge morons - I'm gonna be late for work. :P

rickn8or said...

What Broad Ripple REALLY needs is a trolley going from Nowhere to Nowhere with no riders...

Tam said...

They've already got one downtown: Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

jimbob86 said...

What sane bike rider will use it?

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Obama ("Energy costs must skyrocket, so you can not live as you want to!") has planned ahead, in making you desperate and providing you with a solution: With gasoline @ $6/gallon, most of the peons will be riding bikes....... the Health Care Death Panels will take care of Clara Peller, and there will little trafic to impede the Party motorcades speeding to deal with the nest manufactured crisis....

Anonymous said...

Hurricanes and Cadillacs
They run you down and don´t look back.

Gerry

Quasi humanoid!

Drang said...

Wait a minute! Indy has a street named for Keith Stone? That is so coooollll!!1!

Craig said...

Our central Fla city is just now embarking on one of these street "upgrades" for the stated reason that the Fed money is "free" and if we don't grab it someone else will.

I can't wait to see the screwed up "complete roadway" once they get it finished.

Joe in PNG said...

And things really get fun when dear Clara gets the 'go' and 'no go' pedals mixed up in the old domestically produced land yacht.

Noah D said...

The BR bike lane isn't nearly as insane/idiotic as the one on Allisonville, south of 82nd St. It goes for maybe 5, 10 blocks, then...gone.

Pakkinpoppa said...

Same rules, same rights...unless it's more convenient for them to blow a stop sign, dart from the sidewalk into a traffic lane, or when traffic stops at a red light, to run along past them all, between car and curb, making everyone play leapfrog and "borrow" from their left side lane if possible to go around the biker again...

I like PJ O'Rourke's chapter "the Bicycle Menace", (forget which book that was in) but unfortunately, he was wrong, he figured it'd be "Darwin-ed" away looong ago.

Secret code: smainage lobefle. My two year old said something like that the other day, and like the rest of the Martian he lapses into about half the time, I can't translate.

Kristopher said...

Heh.

Ancient Woodsman said...

Conspiracy theory: make fuel too expensive for private cars & everyone must ride a bike a la downtown Peking or Hanoi, and then you have no need for "guns in cars in parking lots" legislation or lawsuits.

Its a stretch, but probably discussed already somewhere among the Tinfoil Hat Fitters Local 432.

Anti-robot: Tionlysg Dingsbout, as in the new South African/Australian commuter bicycles that are all the rage in Argentina now.

R said...

"You can feel free to thank Erika Smith at the local fishwarp for bullying the city into building bike lanes that no sane biker will ever use."

Is there such a thing? A sane biker, that is.

If so, they sure as hell aren't any around here. We get spandex weenies riding their bikes on highways with 55 mph speed limits and absolutely NO shoulders. There's a yellow line, a few more inches of asphalt, and then ditch. It makes things interesting when there's someone coming the other way...

Anonymous said...

Tam:

It's not stupidity, it's an intended change for a purpose. The fact that you don't want it is immaterial. Look up the term 'Traffic Calming'. It is a euphemism for a collection of techniques designed specifically to make it so inconvenient and frustrating for you to drive your car that you will give up and take the bus (or whatever form of 'public transit' your delusional local municipality has adopted).

Other 'Traffic Calming' techniques include a permanent left turn lane where none is required, installing traffic circle islands on residential streets too small to accomodate them, modifying intersections so that they flow the least amount of traffic possible (creating choke points), and one of my (least) favorites, that of building the sidewalk out to meet the only lane of traffic at bus stops so that the bus doesn't have to pull out of traffic to pick up passengers, and so that all cars behind the bus must stop behind the bus while it is doing so. Here in the People's Republic of Seattle, they are using every technique in the 'Traffic Calming' arsenal to force people to ride the bus.

In one of the more stupid examples of creating bicycle lanes, the 0.8 mile long 9.5% grade hill up to my part of town now has a bike lane going up the hill that takes up what used to be both the parking strip and the emergency pull-off area. Never mind the inconvenient fact that only one tenth of one percent of people that commute ride a bicycle, and only about one percent of those are capable of riding up that 0.8 mile 9.5% grade hill (the rest just toss their bike on the rack on the front of the bus and ride up), we must make a bike lane because you really need to get out of your car and be more environmentally responsible.

*cough*puke*cough*

BSR

Critter said...

*haw!* Schwinn curb feelers. *snerk*

Tam said...

R,

"Is there such a thing? A sane biker, that is."

Look at the web address here. Feel free to stop reading any time.

Buzz said...

Ygolonac and Pakkinpoppa already hit it. I tend to ride alone because I get pissed off at other riders and their disregard for pedestrians/motorists. I've found an inverse relationship between ranting about rights to the road and actually following the rules of the road.

What my cycling friends apparently haven't figured out is that my mountain goat climbing skills came from, in part, an insistence on faithfully stopping at stop signs and accelerating to catch back up.

The Raving Prophet said...

Buzz,

When I was in college I'd occasionally ride my bike around town. There were few things more amusing than coming to a complete stop at a stop sign alongside a teenager in his ponycar and then hole-shotting him for the next 25 yards. Sure, he didn't know he was racing, but he sure took off at the next stop sign.

Hat Trick said...

@The Raving Prophet - I got a rolling start on a Corvette once in campustown with my mountain bike. Beat him to the next light and from the sound of his engine he was trying to race me.

I won't ride in traffic unless I'm fast enough to keep up. I hate bike lanes because they never get cleaned and you have to have kevlar belted tires to go any distance w/o a flat from all the broken glass, pieces of broken auto parts, etc.

Buzz said...

Yup, road bikes stay in the country, where my main concerns are deer and roadkill.

My mountain bikes hit the city streets, with the glass, trash, nails, broken tail lenses, pieces of pallets, and assorted other shit that's NEVER cleaned off "bike lanes." -I had many a city ride cut short by a flat before I wised up.

And, yes, it's a rush to ride in/with traffic. City speed limits range from 20 - 35 MPH and I can keep up with that, especially with stop-start of ill-timed lights. It's fun to look at the faces of the befuddled drivers when you're with them from light to light. (I don't pass the line of traffic at a red light, instead maintaining my position.)

Anonymous said...

It's agenda 21, the redevelopment of our ways of life and the reeducation of our ways of thinking...those chicanes are 'traffic calming devices'; the travel lanes are reduced to increase congestion and travel time with a view to creating demand for gov monopoly tram and bus transit with all development then bordering the tram and bus lines.

I'm near to Houston and H-town buys into this bs bigtime...check out the writings and research of Randal O'Toole for a primer on trainset oriented development and other big gov schemes.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the bike riders? In the last year, I know of two bike riders killed as cars drifted into the clearly marked bike lanes.

Anonymous said...

I realize America is not Europe--thank goodness--but, I have spent more than two years of my life in European cities and enjoy the safe mixture of a wide variety of vehicles sharing the roads without mishap--buses, taxis, cars, trucks, motor scooters, motorcycles, bicycles, even in-line skaters, without specially marked lanes. Everyone getting to their destinations safely via the mode of transportation they have chosen.

Will said...

I was in the ER yesterday, and the guy on a bed in the hall outside my room was hit by a car while riding his bicycle (race bike, lot of racing clubs in the SJ area). (busy Friday evening, chopper flights, multiple ambulances (4!) at any one time)