24 October 2012
A pretty good summary article was published at http://seattlebikeblog.com/2012/10/23/how-to-bike-in-the-seattle-rain/#more-38779 by Tom Fucoloro - short but succinct article for those trying to get up to doing the rain thing on your bike. The comments by readers I thought were also quite informative and had a lot of additional info in them! However, I can and have done rides in the rain. Most recently, was last Friday 19 October on the FRUMPS ride. While not raining when we left Snohomish, it was raining within a mile and stayed that way with us for the whole ride! And, hard rain I might add - not a mist. We shortened the ride from 58 miles to 33 miles which showed uncommonly good sense and the value of planning for exit routes on the ride (we had three planned depending on where we were when we needed them). Good route design does in fact plan for the possibility of bad weather and the need to cut rides short. What was of further interest on the FRUMPS ride was that I was the youngest of the three of us who had actually went out that day. One fellow (and I am in awe) had had 4 heart surgeries and a back problem but he was still out there pounding the pedals with us (and he was faster up hills than me!). I am certainly in awe and have respect for the people with whom I get to ride - very heroic stories keep coming up. The lessons I re-learned on this FRUMPS ride were: a) have fenders; b) keep your core warm; c) have really good heavy warm gloves; d) plan to go slower and allow for more braking distance; e) have an exit strategy; f) good riding companions make the misery better; and, g) I don't like to ride in the rain.
Here we are at the Lake Roseiger Store at mile 19 (out of the 33 we did that day) -at this point we had ridden in rain for 18 of the 19 miles. The next 14 miles were not any better weather-wise but we were getting closer to the end of the ride!
This was a great route on a lousy day - http://ridewithgps.com/routes/1737497. I would recommend it when the weather is better.
And a special shout out for the kind folks who run the Lake Roesiger Store - if you go cycling out there, stop by, buy something, and say Hello to them. They are really nice to cyclists and even have Gu on their store shelf!
Riding in traffic is always one of those things you just have to do but I always wonder if there isn't a better way. Two recent postings came to my attention on this subject. First is a study out of Canada showing that infrastructure does matter - the story is at http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/10/dedicated-bike-lanes-can-cut-cycling-injuries-half/3654/# where the rate of accidents involving cyclists went down when there were dedicated bike lanes. That might seem obvious but what was of interest to me was the following graph from the story:
This graph shows that riders preferred to use safer routes in their riding - this is not the response of the erratic, self-absorbed Tour de France wannabe that we are sometimes accused of being (well, the jerseys and spandex thing does kinda get out of hand sometimes but...) It implies that most of the cyclists studied wanted to be safe and were willing to use safe alternatives if such could be developed. This study result supported the view that if we could improve bike infrastructures, then we could get more people willing to ride both for pleasure and for functional transportation.
That observation also lines up with some recent data on the vehicle mile traveled per year statistics (http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/10/22/will-transportation-investments-keep-up-with-travel-behavior/) - here recent data are showing the slope of the curve is dramatically changing - some of the change might be driven by a slowed economy but the study authors assert that there may be a more fundamental shift occurring in overall driving patterns. As they note, it may be time "to stop trying to build out our grandparents’ transportation system" - I think I might be a grandparent in their terminology but I'm not sure.