Monday, January 28, 2008

Why I Ride My Bike

There are a lot of reasons I ride my bicycle, mostly having to do with how much fun it is. From an environmental perspective, I ride primarily to avoid consuming fossil fuels. We're rapidly approaching a time when the "easy to find" oil will plateau, and we will be forced to develop other sources of hydrocarbons to continue to feed our addiction. I want no part of it.

The Alberta oil sands are the poster child for alternative hydrocarbon sources. The damage being inflicted on the Earth is visible from space. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll ride my bicycle.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rush Hour in Bellevue

Well, it wasn't nearly as impressive as Copenhagen (see previous post), but it was a bit crowded on the bike path this morning. At one point, I could see four other cyclists ahead of me. Even more impressive is that it was a chilly 26 degrees. It looks like the combination of congestion and high gasoline prices are starting to impact commute habits. Article in the local paper this week highlighted the recent increase in bus ridership. All good stuff. Maybe we won't need those extra freeway lanes after all.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rush Hour in Copenhagen

Lest you think this is some kind of Critical Mass-type stunt, check out the background: there are just as many bikes going the other way.

Friday, January 18, 2008

On Your Left!

I'm sure there's a rational explanation for this, but I have not been able to come up with one. In the United States, we drive on the right side of the road. That holds for both cars and bicycles. Pedestrians are supposed to walk on the left side, facing traffic. That lets pedestrians see oncoming cars and bicycles, and take evasive action if necessary.

On multi-use trails, though, pedestrians end up walking on the right side with the flow of prevailing traffic. This results in peds being overtaken from behind by faster-moving bicyclists. Thus ensues the endless debate of how cyclists should alert pedestrians to their approach, etc. Why don't pedestrians walk on the left side of the trail, the same as they would on the road? Cyclists and pedestrians would be facing one another, with each moving slightly to the left as they pass. Cyclists wouldn't have to continually call out "On your left!" Pedestrians wouldn't be startled by either the sudden appearance of a bicycle, or the disembodied (and ambiguous) command "On your left!"

Works for me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Changing Perspectives

So, I've decided to do a couple of things: (1) post more regularly on this blog, and (2) use it to communicate some of my views on the environment and other topics. I'll start with an interesting change of perspective that hit me a couple of days ago. We had one of those rare snowstorms that hit our area during the winter months. Since it happens so infrequently, it tends to paralyze the transportation system, which consists primarily of solo car drivers. I normally commute by bike, but not knowing what the conditions were like, and acceding to my wife's desire to have someone drive her to work, we carpooled.

My first thought was, "I should throw my bike in the back of the car, just in case we get stuck somewhere along the way". Sometime during the last 2 or 3 years, my thinking has shifted from the car as "universal transportation device", to the car as "2 tons of steel that requires a parking space". My bike will take me anywhere, in (practically) any conditions, whereas the car has become this huge liability that can easily get stranded/gridlocked at the first sign of inclement weather.