Thursday, May 20, 2010

The heat goes on and the joys of sharing...

...although it's a dry heat so far so that means perfect triking weather. Actually, it's been really quite dry here in the nation's capital so I'm hoping we get some rain fairly soon. According to CBC Ottawa's meteorologist, Ian Black, the humidity levels are expected to rise next week so I figure I should get out while I can. I can deal with heat, MS notwithstanding, and I can even deal with humidity (I like the snow and rain) but the combination of heat and humidity just doesn't work well for me when it comes to getting any outdoor exercise. Like anyone else, I just wilt into a sweat infused puddle...kinda like the flame festooned critter above.

With that in mind, I went out yesterday for a quick 10.5 kilometre solo trip. With a light easterly breeze under blazingly sunny skies, conditions were more than perfect to be outdoors although I didn't really see too many others out until I got to the bike paths a couple of kilometres from home. What others I did see were mostly city crews fixing the potholes on roads but that wasn't anything I couldn't deal with. One city vehicle had parked itself pretty much squarely in the middle of a small suburban road necessitating me to creep around the large and smelly truck at a little faster than a gentle walking pace. Once I made it around the other side, I was off in almost top gear and headed for one of the city's many wide bicycle paths.

I don't ordinarily travel on the bike paths by myself. Call me paranoid but many a tragedy has occurred on suburban bike paths that the unwary had presumed were safe. However, as there were lots of kids (shouldn't they have been in school?) on bikes, skateboards and otherwise running around under glorious sunshine, I felt at least a little safer. So, my trip along the bike path took me to the Greenboro branch of the public library. There, I discovered many other people, mostly city workers, out and about milling around. It was almost right out of Sesame Street with the happy people going about their happy business doing happy things.

Just past the library, I had a choice of continuing on the bike path or else turning onto Lorry Greenberg Drive - yet another suburban road - and heading east towards Conroy Road and into another suburban area. Ottawa is laced with suburban areas so there is no shortage of places to go. The houses all look the same and they're all on streets with names like Horsdal Pvt. and Pittaway Ave. So, enjoying the sunshine, I rode to Blohm Drive, circled around to Karsh Drive and reintercepted Lorry Greenberg. From there it was only a matter of retracing my route back home.

Ten and a half kilometres. Not bad.

I should take a moment or two here to mention an interesting incident that happened to me. I was travelling along Lorry Greenberg when a large passenger truck pulled up beside me. The passenger opened his window and immediately proceeded to hurl all manner of abuse at me. With the foul language extracted from the utterance, the young man shouted something like, "Get that (blankety blank)ing piece of (blank) off the road!!" Of course, I was right up against the curb and travelling at around 20 km/hr. I was not blocking traffic at all in any way. I pretended I couldn't understand what he was saying so he shouted more loudly at me until the opportunity for him to turn right and onto a small road presented itself. Then, he and his friend zoomed away never to be seen again.

This highlights the very real problem that cyclists and motor vehicle operators can have. There seems to be this understanding that cars and bikes do not mix well together on the road. While it is true that any collision between cars and bicycles/trikes is always bad news for the cyclist the fact remains that cyclists have the same right to use the road as cars do. However, the right for cyclists to use the road comes with responsibilities and so it is up to all cyclists, whether we ride bicycles, trikes or even quadracycles (yes, we have one of those as well) to share the road with motor vehicles. Stay to the far right of the road. Always be aware of what the traffic is doing around you. Make eye contact with drivers, especially at busy intersections where left turning traffic may not see you.

Remember what you were taught in driver's ed? Car drivers are looking for other car drivers. They often do not see pedestrians or cyclists. Trikes pose an even dicier problem because we sit so low to the ground. Even the tall, bright orange flag is often overlooked by an impatient driver who's inattentive for whatever reason. However, the message is the same, SHARE THE ROAD! Give plenty of space and scope to the car who's driver is clearly preoccupied with something other than operating a motor vehicle on a public road. Cyclists, too, need to share the road. Just because we have a right to use the road doesn't mean we can do whatever we want. Ride in the lane. Signal your turn. DO NOT RUN RED LIGHTS OR STOP SIGNS. Most importantly, stay safe. Yes, that may sound trite but it's no less true.

This upcoming weekend is the first of the Alcatel Sunday bike days of the season. with showery weather in the forecast, it should be an interesting trip and the first I will do on my trike. Looking forward to it!


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