Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Foolishness of Popular Thought

The most dangerous thing I've seen on my bike in weeks (actually dangerous, rather than assumed)

Almost universally, when people who don't ride their bicycles to work find out that I do, their reaction is: "isn't that dangerous?" Some people resort to telling me that it is so risky that I should not even do it. Usually punctuated with an anecdote of a friend of a friend who was run down by a crazed hybrid driver possessed by an anti-lycra psychosis. Non-riders conjure up a lot of scenarios which don't actually occur. The popular conception of the dangers of cycling is completely whacked out, compared to the reality.

On the other hand, something that is actually dangerous: big steel plates used to cover up construction excavation. Holy sweet mother of rotating spoked wheels those things give me the shivers. Hit one on skinny tires and even breathe on your brakes: you're going down. Ride over one in the rain: you're going down. Realize you are about to ride across one and try to turn just a little bit too late: yep, going down. In this case, fly out of the bike lane and lean into a right turn...BAM. In the daytime you can see them in time, but at night, in the rain, on a route where they were just installed: shivers. 

This is in a neighborhood where I see a lot of kids riding bicycles. They wouldn't leave a deep hole this size in the middle of an area where they played, so why would they do this in the street where kids ride? Because cars drive right over these with no issues. 

Right on the corner, too. Man, that right turn off the end of the bike lane is gonna hurt. This is when the foolishness of popular thought results in danger out of blind indifference. This was just down the street from a DRIVE SLOW sign stuck in a yard. How about a STEEL CRASH PLATES AHEAD sign instead. Get up. Go ride.



  1. I always thought they should cover those things with them bathtub non slip thingys.
    Even walking on them is treacherous.

  2. Yikes! I've seen those things around here, but never covering such a large area. Scary!

  3. yes those plates are scary. but those trees on the far site of the street are glorious! almost worth taking a spill for.

  4. I'm always surprised by non-cyclist's reactions to commuting by bike. It's almost as if they think cycling is an alien activity, and a cyclist even thinking of using the same road as a motorist is simply asking for trouble. We definitely live in a motorist mindset culture.

    Thanks for the scoop on the covers; I'll be sure to avoid them.

  5. By far my worst crash ever was an unexpected encounter with road construction in the dark. Last September. As for the crazy drivers, it was a crazy passing driver that called 911 which resulted in the arrival of the EMS people. Maybe that partly makes up for the one we hear about that ran down a friend of a friend of the one telling you how dangerous cycling is. Steel plates rate high up there.

  6. Oh my gosh! There's one of these in the midst of a down-town bike lane here in Louisville. It freaks me out just looking at it.

    I would hate to have a run-in with one of these in the dark like Steve did.

    That being said, I love limom's suggestion! Especially since so many of those non-slip bathtub thingies are super cute and friendly-looking. I would like mine in the shape of turtles, though I suppose then I would feel bad about running over turtles, because I'm mildly insane like that. I blame my Mom, who had a habit of telling me things like, "If you don't eat your potato, you'll hurt its feelings," LOL.

    Hm. Maybe if roads looked friendlier -- less grey and severe and threatening, more huggable -- people would ride more?

  7. "if you don't eat your potato you'll hurt it's feelings"
    That, is the quote of the day!

  8. koko-limom, Hmmm, non-slip bath appliques. Or those stair tread traction strips, those might work. No doubt I would be run over by a hybrid while preparing the surface with alcohol, however. Huggable streets, though, I like it: the next time I see someone slamming their hands on their steering wheel in drivetime frustration, I'm going to open my arms, smile, and nod encouragingly. Perhaps offer a baked potato (wrapped, salted).

    Steve, I remember your crash. I think about it sometimes, and admire the way you bounced back: resilience is a under-appreciated quality.

    jk since I learned about them the hard way, just thought I would mention it.

    clowncar, those are my love-hate olive tree buddies. They do look great in the photo, thanks for noticing--I had not. Steel plate fixation. I didn't see the forest for the plates.

    apertome, and right in the bike lane. Give me a bath tub applique and I will set it right, though. :)

  9. Yes - Those steel plates are sooooo dangerous..!
    They should be covered with a rubber coating or something.

    Cattle grids at the entrance/exit to forest/park areas are as bad if not worse.


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