Friday, September 13, 2013

Another Friday the 13th is almost gone

As usual, I've been commuting to work by bicycle. As usual, I've been wearing my fluorescent, reflective work vest for visibility, and also a pair of fluorescent, reflective work gloves. It's getting darker in the morning so that I use my blinking white light in front and my blinking red light for the rear. My helmet is pinstriped with reflective tape and in extreme cases I will activate my flashing red light attached to the tippy top of my helmet.Not much has changed in those respects.

Our high school has one bicycle rack already in place for use when I first began teaching here. I have determined the design is less than perfect. It's a homemade job the metal fabrication classes welded together out of 1/2 inch square tubing.It's a long horizontal bank of many vertical slots in which to insert the front wheel of a bicycle for storage and securing with a lock.

 My front wheel does not fit in the vertical slot. The slot is too short for my bike to enter fully. Also, the vertical slots are raised up off the ground a few inches with the result being that if I attempt to insert a portion of the front wheel of my bike into it, then the kickstand won't touch the ground to keep it upright. Another complaint is that now there are consistently too many bicycles making use of the rack for them all to fit. I've been in the habit of arriving earlier to the rack than others who need to use it. Therefore, I park my bicycle at the end of the rack leaned up against the rack, rather than with the front wheel inserted into the slot. Obviously, there are only two ends to the bike rack, so if they're taken I must attempt to secure my bike to the rack in the intended way, which means that by the time leave school and go to the rack, my bicycle has fallen over either by accident or by design.

I've been trying to think about just what would make the perfect bike rack. Probably part of the answer is to have more of them. As sure as one is made and installed, there will be less need for it. But that's the pessimist in me. In other words, if more bike racks are installed and the weather turns cold, most other cyclists will cease and desist from riding and all the racks will be virtually empty and the people with the money and authority to give the go ahead for the new racks will believe them to be a waste of time and resources at that point.

I think more racks might make it easier for others to park their bikes. I'm not idealistic enough to believe more racks will encourage more people to ride their bikes, but as my mother is fond of saying, "It's better to have them and not need them, than to need them and not have them!"

The same situation occurs all over town. There is no good place to park a bicycle if a person were so inclined to ride one to a downtown store for purchases or services. They would be forced to clutter the sidewalks with them, either secured to a signpost or light post or handrail, or they'd be left unsecured on the sidewalk, leaned on the kickstand. Either situation would be cause for complaints by pedestrians not on bicycle.

Nothing new there. Just some observations.

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