|For paths and trails away from the noise and power of cars|
When I set the bike down on the grass to rest a moment, this was the spot. The dull drone of traffic was still audible from across the way, but here, it was just me, the ducks, the quiet, and a few passing cyclists on the path.
I don't mind commuting with traffic. Through it, across it, with it, in it. Even seeking out back streets and quieter routes, commuting several miles through Phoenix is going to involve engagement with traffic. So I ride defensively and alertly, studiously observe the traffic laws, take every intersection as if someone is going to run the light and have the chance to kill me. I try to stay reasonable in each encounter, for example, not standing hard and fast on the rule that I won't ride ahead through a traffic circle when a driver stops in the middle of their circuit to wave me through when they see me waiting: on the one hand, it's not a safe or normal operation of a traffic circle to do that, but on the other hand, it's a nice gesture and I don't want to seem like a jerk. This happened to me twice in one day on Friday, and I took it both times. They see me waiting at the yield line, stopped in the circle and waved me through, and although it runs directly against my "You're not doing it right" reaction, it's a sweet and humanizing gesture, so I waved back and rode ahead.
But sometimes, particularly on relaxing non-commute rides, I avoid cars. With a purpose. To get away from all that riding a bicycle around traffic involves. Even if I am OK with traffic, I can't say that I feel that riding in, through, across and around it for hours is my first choice. My first choice, when the option is open and I follow my bicycling heart, is something like the photo above, quiet paths around still lakes with trees and ducks.
Indian School Road in Scottsdale has a bike lane and stoplights. The lights are timed such that on a Saturday morning, in traffic, a determined cyclist can usually stay ahead of the traffic between lights since the bike lane enables passing up to the front of the stopped mass at each light. Timing it right and riding hard, I pack more cars into the mass that builds up behind me. It's fun, kind of, but the best part of the ride begins when I can veer off the bike lane onto the path. The tension slips away, and I just ride.
|Indian School Road is just through the trees there to the right|