Bike riding in Wilmington
(updated: Sep 12, 2011)
Images and thoughts from my Wed evening ride ...
We ride about 30 miles or so, starting around 6:30 and finishing up around 9pm. I pass other riders and think, "I’ll still be riding by the time you are long done and back at home”. In fact, I usually get home after my neighbors have gone to bed. I’m sort of a night owl. For this and other reasons I feel out of place in my sleepy suburban neighborhood.
On our way to Wrightsville we catch the brand new bike lane on Red Cedar. It is getting heavy use. It just shows that if you build it, they will come. People want choices in how they get around. Maybe not in my neighborhood – they still seem to think it's impossible to do anything on a bike except ride around the neighborhood – but at least I can show them what else is possible.
As have pointed out before, I rode my bike everywhere in Austin,TX long before it became trendy, and you had all these hipsters going around, and bike smugness flotillas, and Critical Mass rides. Now it is rated by Bicycling Magazine as one of the top bike friendly cities in the US. You’ve got to be kidding! A tipping point was reached somehow, perhaps the preponderance of young people there, or Lance Armstrong, or the presence of innovative companies and employees. I don’t know.
But one of the top U.S. cities for cycling is way down the list in the survey. Can you guess what city it is? Recently Steve had this to say about it: "If there's a more cycling friendly city I'd like to see it." Submit your answer below, except for Steve. Hint: it’s in the Northeast.
Speaking of Critical Mass, I think its best purpose is to get motorists used to seeing people on bikes on the roads, that’s about it. I think if the riders did a better job of keeping to one lane and sticking to multi-lane roads where autos can still pass safely it would limit the backlash that some motorists (and cyclists) have against these mass rides. But they often don’t, and clog roads when it is not necessary to. And as a result, these types of rides are not doing the cycling community much good.
I’ve only had two close calls with death in the last week: Once last week, when I was coming home on 17 towards Porter’s Neck - Robbie from Two Wheeler Dealer spotted me riding my Pugsley. Yes, I had my super bright LED taillight on, but I can’t believe how close these people come regardless. Apparently nobody knows about the 2ft passing law in NC. Maybe they think you must pass within 2ft, or it’s the 2in law.
And then last Sunday riding back home from the Hot 100, Mike and I had to “run the gauntlet” on 133, from Paul’s place to N. College to Blue Clay. Yikes!
So I thought, with limited resources and time, dangerous roads and an unconcerned DOT, what is a good, safe way to show awareness of cycling and of cyclists, and for a better alternative to getting around, especially for the short trips that make up the majority of driving and clogged roadways? I usually do it by being on the road, gasp, with cars, but for most non-biking folks that seems completely crazy.
So what if on one day at a busy time of day, we got a bunch of people to ride their bikes to busy intersections around the city and just hung out there for a while? Just for motorists to see you. It will serve to get motorists used to seeing cyclists and at the same time the jerk drivers won’t get pissed just because you are on “their road”. Just a thought. If you think it’s a good idea or not post a comment below and let me know.
But I think a lot of this awareness and activeness stuff has to be done by young folks. I don’t think you’re going to get a lot of these older retired folks around here to ride a bike anywhere else other than their own neighborhood. The other night I did see an entire family on bikes riding in their neighborhood, and get this -- they had lights, both front and back. It was mine, no wait, it was another family. Seriously. It'll catch on. We need more numbers. People just have to see you doing it. Worked in Austin.
Sunset at Wrightsville Beach.
Ed slogging through wet sand, riding into the sunset, but stopping short of the water.
Obligatory Pugsley shot.
Storm clouds in the distance.
Lightening from far off storm. I love thunderstorms, which is one reason I love living in NC. In CA you typically don't get these - makes things boring, which is why Hollywood has to keep making inane vampire movies. A vampire movie must be the CA equivalent of a thunderstorm.
Moonlight above with t-storm off in the distance.
Cloud to cloud lightening.
Ed's pump broke his Presta valve. Presta valves suck! They are too fragile – most pumps will rip them apart or pull them right out. It will happen to you one day, be warned.
1. Peter W said...
This summer I stepped up my riding time and started road riding more, putting in 135-140 miles a week. As I've increased my time on the road my incident level has sky rocked. I've been able to confront several motorist on how they almost took me out and could have killed me. There response was you were in my lane and I was holding them up from where they had to be. Non of them understood the cyclists rights to the road. You would figure the DOT could address cyclist and road rules making questions mandatory in a drivers test or study booklet.
Sep 12, 2011 @ 12:31 PM
2. Randy said...
Boston?? The northeastern City?
Sep 12, 2011 @ 2:45 PM
3. SBA said...
Years ago I was pulled over in PA for speeding. The officer asked me, "Where do you gotta be in such a hurry?" I thought about it, then concluded I really didn't need to be anywhere. I was in a hurry just to be in a hurry.
That's the conclusion for most of these folks. A cyclist cannot possibly create such a delay as to risk jeopardizing their lives just to be somewhere a minute faster. Most of them are just speeding home to sit on their fat asses and get brainwashed by TV.
Listed here: http://www.ncdot.org/dmv/driver/ you will find that the penalty for assault with a motor vehicle is losing your license for one year. Then they can join you on a bike and if they do they will be quickly humbled.
Other bicycling rights and language can be found on the site. Just refer them there. Do not try to argue with them. It's like arguing with a belief system. I don't bother, otherwise I may end up mangling them with my Pugsley.
Knowledge is king. Use it to just prepare for the change that is coming. The card you hold is the one that reality does not care for stupid Americans who think they can drive huge vehicles around forever. Search Export Land Model and learn that we driving right off a cliff.
Sep 12, 2011 @ 3:35 PM
4. SBA said...
Similar latitude, more westerly.
Sep 12, 2011 @ 3:36 PM
5. Michael said...
Great pictures from the Wednesday night ride, Erol.
Anyone reading this should consider joining us on these rides. They are a lot of fun, a great workout, awesome scenerey, and sometimes we break for beer and pizza.
What could be better than that on a Wednesday night?
Sep 13, 2011 @ 3:00 PM
6. SBA said...
Yes, Rochester is correct. It's ranked last at 50. They continue to build bike paths all over, so by the time Bicycling Mag gets around to another survey they should move up in the rankings considerably.
Sep 13, 2011 @ 8:06 PM
7. Mike said...
Greetings from Castle Hayne…
I have seen the “me too” reaction in my neighborhood, also, to some degree. I used to be the lone outcast, riding bikes around at all hours of the day and night. And not just on the neighborhood roads, but on BUSY STREETS TOO! To my neighbors, I must have looked really strange for a while, leading my string of wife + 4 kids (plus one attached baby seat) along the road (how dare I do such!) in the evenings. But now, several other families and individuals can be seen in the evenings putzing up and down our road.
The problem is, it doesn’t seem to stick. I mean, I’ve seen it before where people enjoy riding for the late summer and early fall, but when winter comes in with colder days and early dark, everyone shoves their shiny new bikes in the back of the garage, not to be seen again until their next yard sale. I guess it is the same mentality that keeps the spas and gyms in business. They sell year-long memberships to people who work out once or twice a week for two months and then let it go. I’m sure that saves a lot of $ in equipment maintenance! (I’ll also never understand the idea of driving to a spa to pedal a stationary bike for two hours, staring at the TV or a wall, only to then drive back home. Why not ride an hour out and an hour back and see what is in the outside world for a change, as seen in our host’s great photos!)
I guess, what it boils down to is: we, the bold riders of the bikes, not only need to be seen, but we need to interact and socialize with the other, newer riders. We need to try to convince them that they have just “stepped up” to a great thing. Invite them along on an easy but scenic ride and (hopefully) bring them back in one piece (SEE! I told you, it CAN be done!) A lot of them don’t surf biking websites like this, and have no idea that there are trails to ride, and a few I’ve talked to are even clueless about the cross city trail. Teach them, o wise patrons of the roads and paths! To parrot SBA: “knowledge is indeed king.”
Sep 14, 2011 @ 12:24 PM
8. Mike said...
By the way, did anyone see this article posted by the Star-news online yesterday?
Sep 14, 2011 @ 2:45 PM
9. SBA said...
No but thanks for sharing. I can only say from my own experience living in many places and driving many years, that I have never ever been inconvenienced by cyclists on the road. What's waiting a few seconds, a minute, two minutes? In most cases the people complaining are just a bunch of envious whiners - why do they get to run lights? etc. Does not impact them whatsoever. But they can't stand it out of some misplaced sense of fairness. Yes, the answer is, get them out of their cars and on a bike and their eyes will open. There's just too many self-important, self-absorbed people out there.
Sep 14, 2011 @ 7:13 PM
10. Randy said...
I am moving to Asheville on the 25th of this month.
Any decent riding over there?
Sep 14, 2011 @ 7:25 PM
11. SBA said...
You lucky dog. Nope, no good riding over there ;D .
Sep 15, 2011 @ 7:24 PM
12. sir fronts-a-lot said...
you had me at Export Land Model! great discussion going on here; i echo your sentiment, don't argue with belief systems.
our cars insulate us from experiencing a tactile sense of our surroundings. this has had profound consequences in our society. our climate-controlled, interior car cabins distort our perceptions and they de-sensitize our interactions with one another.
i could talk about this stuff for hours, but i'm out of beer...
Sep 16, 2011 @ 9:42 AM
13. Metal Cowgirl said...
I'm a carfree mama (single mama of three girlies) who's recently returned to Wilmy after 11 years in Portland OR and a little while in DC where I worked in both places as a bike advocate/events/programs manager. I've found riding here to be not that distinctly different from other areas except that the geography is fantastic. There are jerks everywhere who don't want me - or my kids - on the road. Whatever. I've already called the cops once on a jerk for harassment, arguably assault and they went and spoke with him to educate him about the law, at my strong insistence. But there are even more wonderfully friendly folks who don't create conflict or even go so far as to smile and wave most of the time. As anywhere else, the more time you spend on high traffic/high speed arterials or highways, the higher the number of incidences, so I avoid those places as much as I can, and ride smart and with vigilance when I'm there. I can be one big angry mama bear, for sure. But, the more time I spend in the saddle on the streets, the more confident I am in my new surroundings and the more I'm convinced Wilmington should be the next great bike city!
I'm stoked to be in Wilmington and would love to get more involved with other rides and transportation cyclists. I'm also looking to get into 'cross...who's doing that? And who's riding with kiddos?
Cheers all and thanks for a great site/resource.
Sep 18, 2011 @ 8:32 AM
14. Glad said...
I'm not the only one that has ripped presta valves out with those forty dollar pumps. They don't like to let go of that valve.
Sep 20, 2011 @ 7:55 AM
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