Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trip to Summit for a little repair

I am still trying to figure out where this blog is heading so if anyone is actually reading it, thank you for visiting, and bear with me.

As I have previously stated, I ride my bike to work everyday and love it. The ride and my bike. When it was decided that we would be giving up a car and that I would be biking to work I didn't really know what kind of bike that I wanted to get. I did know that I needed a few extras though. A light, fenders, and a rack for my stuff to name a few. I was under the impression that there probably were going to be a number of bikes that I could choose from, wrong. I quickly found out that there were not hardly any bikes that I was going to be able to get everything I wanted without having to add a bunch of extra stuff to it. I did finally find one though. And I had to drive to St. Joseph, Michigan to get it. The Breezer Villager. If your are at all serious about commuting on a bike, then you have to check out Breezer.

Anyway, back to my trip:

My bottom bracket started to make some noise a couple days ago and I had needed some brake pads for a while so I rode to Summit my workplace at the City/County Building.
I first checked mapquest and decided that I would go up Wells Street. Even though it is narrow and there would be a lot of traffic after 5PM, I felt that the cars are moving at a slow enough speed through the little commercial stretch, to have it be somewhat manageable. I left my office and traveled north on South Calhoun St until I hit the Rivergreenway. I decided at that point that I would avoid Wells for a while and continue north on Harrison. Harrison is an awesome little stretch up to Putnam where you must take a left to head west. From Putnam it was right onto Wells. It is a little narrow up to State Blvd., but not terrible. I continued through State and headed up the hill. As you get further north up Wells the sidewalk and curb disappears. It seems to me that the Right of Way is wider than the street is. You have a white line that you have to hug with very little room for error because the pavement drops off about 5 inches behind the line. You have to be careful, but even at that hour the traffic was fairly minimal. I rode past Edy's and took it to Fernhill where I turned right and took that to Lima. I made pretty good time because when I got to the intersection of Lima/Fernhill I recognized a few cars that had passed me back at Putnum and Wells. I then turned right onto Lima for about 100 yds and I arrived at Summit.

As usual, the guys at Summit treated me right and fixed the bike while I waited. I didn't need a new bottom bracket (thank goodness, those are pricey) and got new brake pads. While I waited I talked with David while he priced some socks or something. He said that it is too bad that there isn't a market for bikes like mine in Fort Wayne because they would love to carry brands like Breezer. He said that there just isn't the infrastructure that there are other places. Not yet anyway. I told him that cities like Portland, OR started 15 yrs ago with their bike infrastructure. He asked if I had seen the CBS Sunday Morning (here is the link because I am so new that I don't know how to embed it just yet)
show last Sunday and I had. He spoke about how amazed he was that cities like Seattle are planning to invest hundreds of millions of dollars on bike infrastructure. I agreed.
I asked him if they were still selling a ton of bikes. He also said that up until they started road construction on Lima, that the sales at their shop were record breaking. I asked if it was people planning on commuting and he said he didn't think so. Oh well. At least they are on their bikes. It is a start.
I said goodbye to David and headed home. There is something about a bike repair/tuneup that makes the ride so much more satisfying.
Until next time....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Logansport to look at Bike Lanes

It is refreshing to see that local communities are looking to the future with respect to bicycle safety for those who choose to use their bikes as transportation. Cheers to Logansport and their leadership for seeing a need and moving forward toward a solution. Kudos to the News Sentinel for running the story. Click on link to view story.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My new route

I work for the City of Fort Wayne in the Community Development Department. I am the Construction Manager in Housing and Neighborhood Services. We rehabilitate home for people with Low/moderate incomes within the City. I write these posts during my lunch hour. Anyway, the Division Director, John Urbahns, came to me last week to see if I'd like to voluteer to walk the Packard Park Neighborhood with Mayor Tom Henry (The Mayor has this program that he is doing where he and members of his staff walk various neighborhoods throughout town and knock on doors to see if anyone has anything they would like to say to him). I, of course, said yes and am glad I did. It was cool. Many people took advantage of it and really seemed to enjoy it.

We all had to meet at the old drive in (Humpty Dumpty?)on Fairfield and Packard and I rode my bike.

I haven't done much commuting to the south so I thought that it might be helpful to analyze the route for bike friendliness for others out there that ride.

I started at the City/County Building and rode south on Calhoun Street and turned right on Berry. Traffic was a lot lighter than I would have expected for after 5PM and Berry was not bad. I then turned left on Fairfield and took that south all the way to Packard Park. Fairfield was better than I expected. There was an area south of Creighton where the ROW narrowed a bit but overall the route was a good one with not too much traffic. I would recommend it.

After the Neighborhood walk I decided on an alternate route bck to my house in the Northside Neighborhood. I took Calhoun and it was wonderful. There was no traffic at all that time of day and not many cars parked on the street. But the Right of Way was wide enough for me to feel safe and it was a pleasant route to take. I would actually recommend it over Fairfield because the scenery is a little more interesting (the older storefronts). I took Calhoun to Douglas and Douglas to Barr. Barr is going through a streetscape makeover right now and there appears to be a bike lane although I don't think that it is staying. Barr St north to Main and then onto the Greenway and home.

I guess I never realized what a gem Calhoun St is. A lot of little Mom and Pop stores still exist and the sidewalks are nice and wide for good pedestrian accessibility. I am surprised that it hasn't been concentrated on for redevelopment. I did notice what looks like a new restaurant a block or two south of the Oyster Bar that looks new though but I didn't catch the name. You go to other larger cities and they always seem to have streets that have a concentrated number of restaurants and bars on them making them a destination point for younger people. Calhoun Street could be Fort Wayne's. Just an obeservation.

Regardless, it was a great north/south route from downtown to the southern parts of the city for all of you out there who walk and bike.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Following the rules

It gives all bicyclists a bad rap when there are people on bikes that refuse to obey the rules of the road. This is a very contentious subject as one might imagine. I was just reading on Fort Wayne Observed about the Cyclist in South Bend (Patrick Sawyer) that was struck and later died of his injuries. I lived in South Bend for a while and I know that road that he was struck on (Cleveland). The 4 lanes are narrow. I wouldn't ride my bike on it. Where he lived though, he had no choice to ride in it to get where he was going. He was doing it right. He is a vehicle and he was riding on the street. Now I don't know how well lit his bike was (It was at 5:40 AM when he was struck), he was wearing a helmet though and still died from massive head injuries (I won't pass that information on to my wife), there are no Bike lanes on Cleveland, and cars really move on that road.
I believe that it is stories like these that cause cyclists to move onto the sidewalk and who can blame them? I know of one person who was killed this year riding his bike on Rudisill. I don't think that there have been any other bicycle fatalities but I might be wrong. So bikers, since they do not feel comfortable on the road, move to the sidewalk for fear of getting struck. That fear is well founded. I have been hit before on my bike. The one on the bike always loses.
My advice to bike commuters is this. Ride on streets that are a bit less traveled if at all possible. Where light colored or reflective clothing. Have a headlight and tail light that are operational and bright. But follow the rules of whatever road you choose to ride on. If you are not comfortable look to find an alternate route. Stay safe out there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Does Fort Wayne need Bike Lanes?

When I thought about starting this blog, it was originally because I have the great luxury, on my commute to and from work, to bike along the St. Joseph River for roughly a mile. I often see animals such as Heron, or Beaver, or other birds that I have to look up in the bird book when I get home. I know that I am lucky. Some of my commute takes place on the Rivergreenway system. It is relaxing and safe and I have time to look around at all of the natural sites. That time that I spend is the polar opposite of the time that I spend on the street. There is very little time to do anything but pay attention to what is going on around me with respect to other vehicle traffic.
So, I got to thinking, there is no way to have the Rivergreenway experience on the road, but how could some one's bicycle commute be improved? One way that I see that a bike commuter's experience could be improved would be the installation of bike lanes. I have lived in other cities that have bike lanes and it really helps to take a lot of the stress out of the commute. There is just something about that white painted line that separates the Bike commuter from the motorized vehicle traffic. So that is the thought for today. Bike Lanes.
Now I am fairly certain that the City of Fort Wayne does not have a bicycle plan for future addition of such lanes so will we ever have them? Where would you start? It is a big, hard problem to solve. You would have to look at where people live and where they would bike to, right? Or would you just put them everywhere? It's just Paint, right? Hardly. In many cases the major roads have Right-of Ways that are too narrow to paint in a bike lane. So you would be looking at acquisition of ROW and that gets expensive. You could eliminate park strip in areas to allow for the bike lane but most people (including myself) like trees in the park strip. There does not seen to be an easy solution and you can come up with a heck of a lot more issues once you open that can o` worms. But in the age of $4 + gas prices shouldn't we be looking for solutions in order to make Fort Wayne a great place to live now and into the future?