Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Aggravated Asphalt

Hoods Up for Cooling (now that's hot)

What is it with some stretches of road? I can't quite put my finger on it, but something makes drivers crazier on certain streets and road than they are on others. Some intersections have more accidents than others, that's a fact. Is that just a result of traffic patterns and vehicle counts, or is there more to it? If some features like chicanes and traffic circles cause traffic calming, are there others which induce traffic rage? Could we just go ahead and make a list of those, and start removing those features one by one? Even if we don't have the funds currently to de-aggravate the aggravated sections, we could at least put them on the bicycle maps, to make more people aware.

It's not just a matter of speed, or pure traffic volume alone. In Iowa City, I cycled some four lane roads, basically a highway on the edge of the city, where the speed limit was 45 mph, yet people were super-calm in their driving, at least on the days and times I was there. Plenty of traffic, no bike lane or even shoulder to speak of, me in the middle of a traffic lane, everyone going around or sharing with me. If I noticed a few cars behind me, I pulled over to let them go by. 

On one section where the limit was 55 mph, the highway went past an side road with a stop sign. I passed that road several times. The side road is the single route in and out of a busy sand and gravel operation, and every time I passed it, there was a dump truck full of gravel either rolling up to the stop, or already sitting there. Every time I went by, the huge trucks waited for me to ride by. Every time! The last time, I thought, this is it, my luck runs out now, I will be found squashed like some kind of bicycle pancake in the middle of the pavement, but no, he waited for me, again. That's a peaceful stretch of asphalt right there, no doubt about it. And not a chicane or traffic circle in sight, by the way, just a long straight stretch of a highway to Hills, Iowa, along with some drivers sharing the road. 

One variable that aggravates drivers, I tell you true, is heat. I don't mean regular heat, I mean 110F. When it's so hot the police put their hoods up to keep their engines cool when they're parked and running their AC, people seem to be more prone to aggravation behind the wheel. Which makes it doubly important to avoid the sections of aggravated asphalt on your ride. Stay cool out there! I recommend an insulated bottle full of ice water. Tonight I filled mine at work (heavy on the ice), and rode home about half an hour in the 110F evening air. Still lots of ice when I got home, and after sitting on the counter for two more hours, still a little ice left. I would pass those out to drivers on the aggravated asphalt sections if I could get there on a side street. Get up Go ride.

  Brrrr! Like a chicane in a bottle! Now that's calm!


  1. I highly recommend "How We Drive" by Vanderbuilt. He's also got an interesting looking blog that I just discovered.


    Among other things, he examines if pyramids can fix this accident-prone locations.

  2. Gumby!
    When I ride, I'm more like Pokey.
    Just not as orangy.

  3. So, that's Camelback Road and ... ? ... 32nd St? 40th St?

  4. Good site Steve A, I will follow it!

    limom do you have two sets of pedals for your four legs, and are they synchronized, differential, fixed, or freewheeled?

    BluesCat: BING! You are correct sir, 40th and Camelback, it looked aggravated when I rode through this intersection which is also where the canal makes two of its most aggravated crossings (If MC Escher designed intersections, 40th and Camelback canal crossing would be one of his proudest).

  5. Everyone knows, Pokey rides a push bike!

  6. limom I used a popular search engine to investigate your allegation in more detail, and got sidetracked by this awesomeness:



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