Sunday, February 22, 2009

When it Snows You Have to Take the Lane

No point hanging out in the gutter after a snow storm.

These gents grab some real estate.

On some streets you have to ride right in the middle.

I'm happy they plowed at least one bikeway.

Friday night, we had a nice snow storm which left about 5 inches of fluffy snow.  I was happy to see it, because I hadn't rode in some good snow for awhile.  But when you get this much snow it, becomes a little more challenging.  Being an early 21st Century American city, Minneapolis' biking infrastructure isn't what it could be.  There aren't that many bike lanes, much less bike paths to begin with.  When the snow falls you have to deal with a much smaller street.  I have found that getting out and making your presence known is the safest way, especially when you get this much snow.  Riding on side walks or in the gutter aren't really good options because that's where the most snow is.  

My experience is for the most part, Minneapolis drivers are more aware of cyclists than ever before.  But I don't take that for granted.  There are the occasional suburbanite's who make their way into the city.  In the suburbs it seems, bikes should only be seen on bike trails, on weekends.  Best to just to assume that people aren't looking.  I'm always making sure I know who's behind me and who's coming my way.  

While progress is slower than I'd wish, I think we are moving towards a more bikeable city.  But let's not wait for Obama to bring that about.


Anonymous said...

Yup, gotta take the lane. The last thing a cyclist should do is try to get over for a car and end up slipping in a slush pile.

Anonymous said...

You're right on all counts, I think:)
Baltimore has crappy snow removal (probably because we don't usually get that much), and I've ridden on the yellow line before:)

The Jolly Crank said...

Slower moving vehicles, like cycles, are supposed to be as far to the right as safely possible, according to state law. I wish more motorists knew that sometimes, "safely possible" means the middle of the street.
Cool pics!

anna said...

Sure, you have to take the whole lane! I also do that. Hate riding on cobblestone (especially when there are potholes too). It's so easy to slide off there when there's snow, sludge or water on the road. I have to slow down a lot and be really cautious. That makes some car drivers even angrier and they come closer than usual. Not a nice feeling when I know that I might fall off.

I think it's not just about infrastructure, but also about campaigns that promote cycling. Some people still don't believe that there are people out there who cycle AND have a job (well, that's just one of the many insults you get to hear as a cyclist). It was completely different when I cycled in the Netherlands. Everybody there watches out for cyclists and gives right of way. Car drivers still smile and never honk or get angry if there's a cyclist in front of them. It's probably because most people there cycle themselves and don't consider cyclists as lunatics.

I found out the best way to not be considered a weirdo is to act as if cycling was the most normal thing ever. That's also the easiest way to convince other people to buy a bicycle themselves. And the more cyclists there are the safer it is anyway :-).

m e l i g r o s a said...

Im really liking all the snow photos, and the fact that your ancle has made some progress ;)

spiderlegreen said...

I'm glad I have become exposed to the idea that by changing our infrastructure we can make riding bikes significantly safer. I guess I was used to just getting around on my bike the best I can, without the understanding that it doesn't have to be that way. While taking the lane is the right thing to do in such circumstances, do I really want to settle for that. Trusting that the car behind me sees and respects me. Hell No!

That's why I'm going start getting involved in local politics and going to the bike planning meetings at city hall.

anna~ I have been to Vienna in over 10 years. I miss the streetcars "Steigen Sie Lenna..." or at least that's what it sounded like the automated conductor was saying. I watched The 3rd Man recently. Ah, Vienna!

Meligrosa~ Thank you. I'm sure the snow pics look even better, sitting in sunny California. ;D I keep telling myself that I love snow, but sometimes... The best way to deal with that is to get out in it, everyday.
I'm now realizing that the ankle is going to take awhile to fully heal. So, I'm going to put some heat on it now.