Monday, January 30, 2012

Bicycle Parking innovations

These have been in for a while,  but Somerville has finally brought "on street" bike parking to the Boston area- fitting 9 bikes into the space of one car:
These are in front of Diesel Cafe in Davis Square
I also noted several bike racks around Davis Sq.  that were rings fastened to poles that already happened to be stuck in the ground.   On one hand, locking to the pole might have been just as easy as locking to the ring,  and there are questions about how secure the rings are.  Cambridge phased out this kind of bolt-on ring, after they started to fail or be compromised in some cases. In theory you use tamper-proof fasteners and it should be pretty secure I would think.

 When you're locking up with a cable lock to begin with, security is relative :)
As automated multi-space meters are taking over parking areas, however,  it seems like developing a protocol for turning abandoned meter poles into bike racks is a worthy project.

Once the meter head is taken off, you lose that pole as a parking spot,  but few cities want to spend the extra money to remove the meter pole and install a new pole  which is part of a dedicated bike rack.  One other solution I have seen is to leave the meter head on, but remove the core-  so you can't lift the bike off the top, but it's supposedly obvious that the meter doesn't work any more.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Linus Panniers Review

I received a very nice pair of Linus canvas "market" panniers for Christmas.  Since the first time they leapt out at me, in photos from Interbike a couple of years ago I've coveted them,  and after using them for a couple of weeks, I wanted to post a quick review of my thoughts so far.

The canvas is very heavy duty,  and was disconcertingly stiff at first.  They have limbered up a bit after some use.  The leather trim is nice and heavy, and has a nice feel to it.
The natural canvas "cream" color is very attractive on Gilbert with his cream tires and brown leather trim.

While Gilbert was "down"  and I was riding Minerva every day for transportation, I grew quite fond of using a pair of  "Fast rider" Dutch style double saddlebags.  Those saddlebags hold an enormous amount, but they're too long to fit comfortably on Gilberrt's smaller rack and shorter wheelbase.  The Linus panniers are shorter and more vertical,  and they fit nicely on Gilbert's rack.   I also appreciate the shoulder strap,  which is convenient for taking them into the store to fill with groceries.  I might leave them attached to the bike for a short time, but I'm not comfortable leaving them on for extended periods as the Dutch do.  They come with a small brass padlock which you could use to secure them to the rack if you were going to leave  them on all the time.

I was a bit worried about the carrying capacity at first, but I found them to be surprisingly capacious.  On my first trip with them, I did a fairly comprehensive shopping trip,  and you can see what fit in them:

Sunday NYTimes, cheese, cream cheese, 2 pounds of ground meat, and a package of pork chops, can of chopped clams, vice grips, 2 liter soda, box of pasta, package of mushrooms, bag of red peppers, dryer sheets,  dog food,  two packages of salad mix

Some small details:  there's a set of snaps to close them,  but there's additionally a magnetic closure that will keep them mostly closed without a full load, which is nice when you don't want to deal with the snaps.  Unfortunately there are no pockets for cell phone or keys etc.  That's not what I expect from a "shopper" style pannier like this or the Fastriders.  If I really wanted them, I could sew a cotton pocket inside to hold small things safe, but I don't anticipate doing that.

As I mentioned last week,  I put reflective patches on them for added visibility.  They don't seem to have a "front" or a "back"  so I put the patches on both sides.
Attaching them to the rack is more challenging than a single sided quick release pannier like my Ortlieb or Klick-Fix hardware bags,  but a bit better than the Fast-rider.   They're designed "specifically"  for the Linus rack  (they actually had a funny little insert that cautioned that using them with any other rack could cause serious accidents).   The bottom sides of the bag have a series of leather straps with nice brass snaps. You're supposed to fit the straps around the top tubes and struts of the rack, and snap them closed.  Unfortunately the top tubes on my rack are too large in diameter to fit the straps around.  I managed to fit them around the "rat trap" bars,  but that's not a great solution.

Fortunately the straps at the struts of the rack are much bigger and fit around fine, although it's a bit fiddly and clumsy to open and close them with gloves on.   The leather and brass is very classy and retro, but perhaps velcro would have been faster.   It wouldn't make much difference if you were going to leave the panniers on all the time though.

The only real problem I have is that the solid top piece interferes with using my rack straps, which is where I normally put my lock.   I can slide the lock under the solid fabric top,  but if I need to use the rack straps, I have to detach them at the axle (simple enough)  and bring them across the top of the rack diagonally, which works OK.  If I were going to leave them on all the time, I'd probably reinforce the top with leather, and make a slit for the straps to fit through on each side.

I don't think that they're waterproof, and I'm a little concerned about how the light color will wear. As you can see in the above photo, they're already showing a bit of black scuff- possibly from (a tiny bit of ) heel strike, or being leaned up against something dirty.  I could Scotch-guard them I suppose.  The other approach would be to wax them or treat them with a rub-on waterproofing somehow- I looked at the Barbour waterproofing stuff, but I don't know how chemical-y it is.   Has anyone out there done any DIY waxing of cotton?   Without treatment, I think that they could be hand-washed,  or even maybe machine washed if you treated the leather immediately after.  In any case, I'm not riding with them in the slush mess that the roads have been in the thaw after last weekend's storm.  That's made a bit of a mess of my leather bag, but at least it can be wiped down and oiled.

In sum:  these seem like a great set of "Saturday errands"  or CSA pickup panniers for Gilbert. They're  not super easy on and off,  or great to carry into a meeting, or for carrying a lot of small stuff like my phone or camera.  But to leave them on the bike, adding stuff at each stop, they'll work very well.  They hold an awful lot, look handsome on the bike, and are easy to carry into a store.  I suppose it's a weakness of mine that I have a bag for every occasion.  On one hand, I have a lot of very useful bike bags.  On the other, I'm constantly realizing that my lipstick or my hand sanitizer is in my "other" bag.  The perils of too much choice!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wool Tight Fail

Last year I bought two pairs of "Smart Wool"  wool tights- one in black and one in coffee-brown.

I've worn the heck out of them, and have been very pleased with their performance and durability.  They're noticeably warmer than regular opaque tights, and much more durable.  The few snags I've had with them could be simply darned with needle and thread.  Like most wool products, they have the benefit of being stink free, even after a couple of wearings.  I think they're even "machine wash"  although I always hand wash them just in case.
SmartWool Tights - Women\'s
not my actual legs :)

So this year when I saw them on sale in a couple of places, I bought a couple of extra pairs.  My pairs from last year were mediums,  so I ordered a "heather gray" pair in medium.   When they arrived they were shockingly tight- it was almost impossible to pull them up all the way,  and I walked around all day feeling that the crotch was a couple of inches lower than it should be.   I double checked the fit chart, and I was on the "edge' of the med/ large curve,  but it didn't seem like they should be that far off.

So when I ordered two more pair in black, I ordered a large.  Imagine my disappointment when even the larges turned out to be too small.  I'm the same weight as I was last year,  and I'm confident that I haven't gotten any taller,  so what gives?   I'm guessing that Smartwool changed either the pattern or the composition of the fabric.   What's strange, is that the large ones fit almost exactly the same as the mediums.

 In any case, I'm really disappointed,  and am going to see if they will accept them back.  I know REI will take the grey ones back, but I ordered the black ones from EMS, and I'm not sure how good they are about returns of worn stuff.  After wearing the first pair all day in hopes that it would stretch out,  I tried on the 2nd pair to see if somehow the first pair were defective.    I wear a size 8 in most clothes, so I can't imagine what you would do if you needed a size 12, as there doesn't appear to be an XL available.

I've heard good things about the B.ella Merino ones, will have to give them a try.


Proof that I am not the only person to bike to Home Depot.

Gilbert almost always has the bike rack to himself at HD,  which I totally understand.  For a lot of people it's a place you go to get 4x8 sheets of plywood, or 40 pound bags of cement or mulch or whatever  It's also kind of in a suburban (for Boston) location with a lot of easy free parking,  and although it's close to the river bike path,  the two block stretch of road that connects them is kind of gnarly,  with one of those 5 way intersections that's hard to see what's coming at you.

But last weekend (when it was in the teens even)  I stopped by to pick up some wiremold that I'm using to locate an outlet at my desk in our guest bedroom.  And although the bike rack was empty,  someone had done a quick park and lock in the cart area:

Hope they were getting something small like lightbulbs, because that doesn't look like it has much in the way of carrying capacity!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weird weather

We finally have been getting snow and some of the winter weather that you would expect for January in Boston.   Woke up to about an inch of snow on the ground this morning,  which was fine for riding in,  and temps felt warm in the high 20's.  We're supposed to get 3-5" tomorrow,  but then on Monday it's forecast to be 47 degrees!  What???   In January??  Strange, but I suppose it will help clear the snowbanks.

Cambridge did a reasonable job of plowing or salting the bike lanes, but then the private businesses cleared their sidewalks by pushing all the snow into the bike lane.  GRRR!
I think that businesses think "oh, there are no cyclists in this weather,  and there were fewer than usual, but there were two besides me that went by while I was standing there.

 That is not actually legal, and I filed a report with the city,  we'll see if they can do anything- remind them that they're either supposed to store it on their property or remove it from the site.
Unfortunately while I was taking the photo and filing the report,  my bike fell over- I had it parked a bit on a slope, and it just tumped over.  Not the first time it has happened, but one of my cork grips broke, and something somewhere is rubbing on one of the wheels.  I couldn't determine the source at a stoplight.

When I bike in snow, I do my best to get the slush off  the bike before I bring it into the building by "dribbling it"  bouncing it up and down a couple of times- wiping  it off with my glove if need be.   Then I either park it on a big cardboard box, which we keep under a desk for such days,  or in the electrical closet which has a vinyl floor so that it doesn't drip on the carpet.

Tonight before I ride home, I'll see if I can find the source of the rub, and hopefully I can fix it with the tools I happen to have with me (vice grips and a couple of box wrenches).   I like to carry some tools with me for a week or two after I do a major repair, just in case something isn't completely adjusted or needs tweaking.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I spent some time this weekend doing some little projects that have been on the "to do" list for way too long,  most of which involved adding visibility to my daily riding gear.

Something that I liked about my Bern helmet was the rear  plastic clip (designed for goggle retention on the ski slopes).  Most days I slipped a Planet Bike Superflash into the clip (sideways) to add an extra 3' of height to my bike light assembly.

In order to mount it on the Yakkay, I needed a loop of some sort.  I originally thought I'd put a shock cord sort of loop, and mount the light vertically instead of horizontally.  But A) I didn't have any shock cord,  B) I didn't want to make big holes in the cover for a shock cord,  and C)  the stripes on the cover are vertical, and I thought maybe the loop might look better vertical when the light isn't on.

I did have some reflective grosgrain ribbon,  and I used it to make a vertical loop that blends in nicely with the stripes on the helmet when the light is off, but holds the light clip reasonably securely (I might close the loop down a smidge if the light starts falling off.

It's surprisingly hard to take a picture of the back of one's head
I also ironed on some reflective tape on my "ugly but warm" gloves across the back of the hand.   The gloves aren't much to look at anyway, and I only wear them riding, so I didn't spend a lot of time following the contours of the seams- just put a big bar across the back.  Not subtle, but hopefully will help when signaling a turn. I will need to remember not just to put my hand out, but to turn it slightly so that the stripe is facing backward.

I have a lemon yellow "water resistant" trenchcoat, which has an inverted pleat all up the back, which I had been thinking would be a convenient place for a strip of silver that adds reflection without really changing the look of the coat.
I may do the same thing to my favorite red wool coat,  but I'm more hesitant to alter it permanently- may add a sew-on strip instead of an iron on one.

I also had some reflective adhesive strip (basically tape),  and I put a stripe of it up one panel of my leather bag.  I didn't get it in between the seams quite as neatly as it could have gone, and the effect of reflective tape on a leather bag is a bit unusual, but I think it will be relatively unobtrusive,  mostly because it's captured between two seams, so seems a bit more like it fits.

Put a tiny bit of extra tape on the Shogun,  hiding the orange VO sticker on the fenders.  I don't plan on riding the Shogun out after dark a lot (at least until I live the dream of touring)  but I think this adds a bit of reflectivity, without being noticeable.

Next, I put larger patches of 2" wide tape both front and back on the new Linus panniers.  There's a bike almost always parked along my route, with silver reflective patches on the panniers that are left on it 24/7,  and I can see them from a block away in my bike headlight.

 So I thought it would be a good addition that's not terribly incongruous with the look of the panniers.  I just cut  four 4" long pieces of tape, rounding the edges slightly to make them look a bit more finished,  and ironed them onto the heavy cotton canvas.

Finally I watched a movie and sewed a little strip of reflective grosgrain ribbon on my black softshell which is a good weight for biking, but which I don't wear much because a) it's all black and b) it's an odd length to wear with skirts.

A very busy weekend of conspicuity projects- I should be very visible these nights!  I had a recent brief conversation recently about the reflective "vests"  made by Vespertine in NYC.  Admittedly they look very fetching on models, when worn over a tank top (or less)  but I'm not sure how they'd look thrown over a coat.  For colder weather clothing, I think that adding reflective material, either sewn on, or iron on, in such a way that it follows the natural seams of the garment is more effective because it's not something extra I have to remember.  If done well it doesn't have to look like a bike specific costume, but instead can be an "inconspicuous" part of an everyday piece of clothing or luggage.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

(acid) green machine

This acid green bike really catches the eye:
apparently it IS easy being green!

I like the wheels in the headbadge- if it were mine I'd use a better lock though!

Bright green tires
This looks like a very adaptable cargo carrying system
I think that the neon yellow "slap bracelets" are a nice accent

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gilbert rides again

As reader Old Knotty Buoy's sharp eyes noticed,  after a lengthy hiatus,  I'm riding Gilbert again! He had a collection of minor ailments, none of which were truly serious, but during the holidays, I just didn't have time to mess with them.   Over New Year's weekend, I hoisted him up on the stand, and set to work.

First:  new tires. The old tires, after 18 months and about 4,000 miles were showing some cracking in the sidewalls.  I don't really know if that's "good" or not,  and I could have continued to ride them, but they made me a bit nervous, so I decided to switch them out with identical Schwalbe Delta Cruisers in cream with reflective side bands.   Removing the rear wheel is always a bit of an ordeal on an IGH/ hub brake bike,  so I don't want to do it often,  but it went reasonably smoothly.   For some reason I find removing and re-seating tires on rims to be really hard-  does it really have to be that hard?  Isn't there a better solution?  Like expandable/ contractable rims? or shrink to fit beads,  or something?  Anything?  I would say that my hands just aren't big or strong enough, but I called in reinforcements, and the Scientist was struggling too.  And I'm not sure if Archimedes was right- I'm not sure that longer levers, or a better place "to stand"  would have solved the problem.

While I had the wheels off,  I did some messing with other things- cleaned and waxed the inside of the fenders,  and removed the rear tail light.
The tail light is held to the fender with a bolt whose square head is captured in a notch in the plastic housing.  Unfortunately the plastic cracked, and the head was rotating, loosening the tail light so it wobbled a bit,  and making it impossible to either tighten or remove.  I ended up taking it apart from the outside,  using my brand new from Christmas impact driver to coax out one semi- stripped screw.   I replaced it with a normal hex head bolt, ignoring the plastic slots.  To remove it, I'll have to take it apart from the outside again, but I'm OK with that,  and hope not to remove it for a good long time.

I  also did a bit of messing with his rear rack.  The rack is a NOS Steco, designed to be mounted to the seat stays with clamps instead of to the axle bolt.  I didn't like how that looked, so I replaced the legs with a pair of sawn off struts from a "sissy bar" seat.  I used the existing crimped places in the struts as locations for the holes,  and it never was quite level.  The rack was held "up" by a little metal strap, attached to the brake bridge.  Either the strap was too short or the struts are too long.  It will be a complicated project to shorten the struts, so I tried replacing the strap, with a slightly longer "mending plate".  It's better,  but it's still not dead flat level.

I also had more struggles with the pie plate.  Something- either the chaincase, or the pieplate, or both got tweaked, and although I could press fit the pieplate into the chaincase, using a bunch of clamps spaced around the edge, as soon as I removed a clamp, it would pop out again.  I spent a lot of time thinking about options for brackets, magnets, shims,  maybe even caulk,  and decided finally that I needed a removable adhesive- something that was flexible and sticky, but that wouldn't prevent me from taking the plate off, and wouldn't leave a residue on the bike.  I was very hopeful about "fugitive glue"  aka credit card glue, aka "gorilla snot"- the stuff that holds credit cards to mailers.  You can buy dots of this glue at art supply stores, and it held for about 24 hours, but on the first ride, it came off.  I have so far had more success with removable 3M adhesive foam squares.  You can sort of see them around the edge, so it's not super elegant, but it's working for now.

The final projects were pedal and kickstand.   I must be pedal-challenged, because on my first ride after the saga of the left pedal, I was about halfway home when I realized that my right pedal was loosey-goosey.  I must not have properly tightened it, and had in the process of riding to work and back, managed to strip the threads on the crank and the pedal- not completely, but enough that they didn't thread smoothly.

I do think that long term I will replace the BB on Gilbert with a Phil Wood, and convert him to cotterless cranks.  However, for now,  and since I'd just wrecked the thread on a brand new pedal, and a crank,  I decided to take the semi- drastic step of red- loctite-ing the pedal into the crank.  Basically, if the pedal lights fail,  that will be my cue to replace the whole shebang.  It just seemed wasteful to trash both the light and the crank.  I'll put in another plug for how much I like these pedalites, and how I think that the company is a really good one.  I know I've managed to wear out a couple of them,  but when I wrote them asking if they'd sell me just a couple of the gears that had stripped, instead, they sent me a free pair of pedals,  without asking.  I'll definitely put them to good use,  as I really think they're a great safety product- the strobes are super bright, and they don't have much impact on the overall appearance of the bike.

The kickstand was another issue.  When Harris replaced the left crank,  it was a milimeter closer to the BB.  And thus with every stroke I had a tic- tic- tic of the crank hitting the kickstand.  I could twist it out of the way,  but it would slowly twist back as I rode.   No matter how I'd tightened the bolt down I never really could get the body of the pletscher two legged stand to stay still where it was attached to the frame- I got really good at nudging it back with my heel,  but it was annoying.  So I decided to remove it but it was really dug in.  I put PB blaster on it and then tried again, this time with a cheater bar on my allen key..... and promptly rounded the allen key recess.  sigh.

I attempted to epoxy a hex bolt on the top of the "screw"  but  it just sheared right off.  So I drilled it out,  which was a real PITA- not a lot of space to get the drill in between the fender, the chainstays and the seat tube.   Finally got the kickstand off the bike, but the kickstand body still had 2" of jagged edged bolt sticking out of it.  It turns out the bolt is steel, and the body is aluminum, and dissimilar metals like that will sometimes chemically bond, or "gall," especially in wet and salty areas. It's a common problem in marine applications and car water pumps, Google tells me.   In future,  install dissimilar metals with anti-seize compound (from the auto-parts store).  Anyway,  I tried heating it with a torch,  more and more PB blaster,  and some serious attempts with a vise, and a pair of vise grips- no luck.  Finally I gave up and ordered a new kickstand.

I knew I wanted a two footed one- it's just much more stable for the kind of loads I put on my bikes.  After my frustrations with adjusting the Pletschner, I decided to try the U-shaped type instead of the scissor type.  Hebie makes one called the bipod, which the internets say great things about.  But they don't have a US distributor,  and the only one I could find in the US was a "resin" model,  which I was a bit skeptical of.  Sunlight (the cheapo bike products company) makes one , but I didn't trust it at all.  I was contemplating ordering one from Europe, when I found what's listed as the "civia "  stand.  Civia doesn't list the stand at all on their website,  but a couple of people were selling it on Amazon,  for $40 cheaper than buying and importing a Hebie would be, so I took the chance.   It arrived today, and I installed it with rudimentary tools at my desk after work.  So far so good- although I need to give it a final adjustment and tighten it down more firmly. It appears solidly constructed,  doesn't seem too heavy,  and operates smoothly.

In the "down" position
in the "up" position

Seems like the perfect length- holds the front wheel 2-3"  off the ground
The final product of all this tinkering:

Shown with a temporary "greenfield" kickstand I had lying about

 As you can see in the "final" photos, I have a couple of other additions/ Christmas presents- a coffee mug holder and a new pair of saddlebag panniers- the roll up shoppers from Linus.  Reviews coming soon!

Sorry for the super lengthy post- you can understand why Gilbert was out of commission for over two months while I got everything sorted out!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Quick Fix

There has been a giant and persistent "puddle" along my route- on Main just past Kendall, and just before the Longfellow.   It didn't seem like it was natural- it was huge, even days after a rain.   It was in an area that didn't slope towards the drain,  but the puddle was so big, that I suspected it was a water leak.

And now that the days are getting cold, it had turned into a giant ice slick, which filled the entire bike lane and spread halfway across the car lane.

I filed a pothole request for the city of Cambridge last Thursday  and within 24 hours they had salted the bejeezus out of it- solving the ice slick problem at least.

Today when I rode it, the puddle was gone,  there was a patch in the pothole at its heart,  dig safe had marked up all over the sidewalks, and there was a dirt filled hole where I bet they repaired the water line.

They still have to get the dirt filled hole fixed,  but it's really nice that they take things like this seriously and fix them quickly when they endanger cyclists.

Yeah Cambridge!

We woke up this morning to a dusting of snow on everything.   I biked really slowly in- didn't have any problems with slickness, but everything had a sheen on it- was hard to tell if it was water or ice.

I kind of hoped it was urban legend, but this woman was actually applying foundation to her face sitting in her car.  She was at a stoplight, and I fervently hope that she desisted once she started moving.

Finally, a reminder that the meeting about improvements to the minuteman crossing of Mass Ave and Rt 60 is tonight.   The East Arlington anti- bicycle folks will almost certainly be out in force to oppose the city spending the grant they already have to make this complicated connection safer and more comfortable for people on bikes,  so it's important to have as many supporters of the project as possible.   They've got the money, and something will get done, the question is how ambitious and safe will it be? 
 7pm, Arlington Town Hall.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Do I know you?

Dropped by the Scientist's office the other day to hand off a big package.  The package was easy enought to carry on my bike, but I wanted to go to the grocery store too, and neither wanted to carry the package in with me, nor leave it unattended at the bike rack.   There are bike racks along the front of his building, inhabited by a typical collegiate mix of old Raleighs and Schwinns, a couple of mountain bikey things,  and one noticeable standout- a genuine Dutch bike.
The stem rose higher than all the rest,  with the particular flat handlebar* that is similar but so different from north roads.  Loop frame, skirt guard, chain case,wheel lock, fenders, dynamo light, check, check, check and check!

When I went up to investigate while waiting for the Scientist,  I had to laugh because the bike had a name-tag taped to the top tube  (photo omitted to protect the owner's privacy),  and I knew the owner!

She's a postdoc in the Scientist's lab, from the Netherlands,  and I had just spent probably too much time at the lab holiday party talking to her and her husband about bikes.   They said that they had brought one bike with them, intended  for him, and that she had bought a bike in the US, but had been unhappy with it, and ended up "stealing" his bike (going so far to put her name on it).    She said that they'd been shocked at the cost of  imported dutch bikes here,  being accustomed to the easy availability of one speed workhorses..  One of the points they commented on specifically was how hard it was to get racks someone could sit on.

* I was trolling bike shop websites hunting for someone in the US that carries Hebie Bipod kickstands,  and noticed that the Dutch Bike Seattle carries the uniquely dutch straight handlebars, which I love the looks of, but had never seen available as a component.  Unfortunately I already have an extra set of handlebars floating around, and the aggravation of swapping them out is more than the additional aesthetic boost they would give my bike.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Double digits still

Having such a warm fall/ winter hasn't let me acclimate as I normally would to chilling temperatures,  so now, in January to land in the middle of a  not unseasonable 10 degree morning, feels colder than usual.

Wool tights, layered under normal ones,  thin wool socks on top of that.  Normal dress boots,  a lined denim dress (from the Boden clearance sale),  a wool sweater,  a wool coat,  "liner" gloves (from the dollar store), puffy gloves,  ear pod things,  scarf, and helmet.

I'm really careful in cold weather to put lots of moisturizer on to keep my face from getting chapped and wind burned.  By the time I got to work the piece of scarf that I had over my mouth had gotten damp from my breath, and then frozen stiff.  But I was even a bit too warm- probably could have skipped the wool sweater.  My hands were fine,  my toes were a bit cold, but not uncomfortably so.  I took off the extra tights and socks for the day.

Probably worth a separate post, but I've been struggling for a week or so with what to say to Policemen behaving badly.   I've posted several times about my generally high opinion of Cambridge's finest,  but every day for the last week or so, there has been a detail cop at an area narrowed by a construction crane.  This cop, who likely is not actually from Cambridge, but an off duty guy from elsewhere making extra money on the side doing traffic detail*  likes to stand in the middle of the bike lane while chatting to another cop on the sidewalk.    I'm not sure whether to ask him politely if he could stand on the sidewalk?  I'm not sure if I should complain to the construction company that hired him?  I don't think it would do any good to complain to the city.

I'm afraid that if I ask him,  even nicely,  that he'll get hostile, and I'll have to deal with his hostility every day for the rest of his construction.   Normally it would be no big deal to just go around him and roll my eyes,  but because of the crane on the other side of the road,  the area is already narrowed down, and there's always traffic I have to merge into.  I've rung my bell,  nicely,  just so that I don't startle him or (hopefully) to keep him from stepping out in front of me.   What to do when the authority figures are the ones causing the problem?

* lots of controversy over this in MA -where until recently civilian flaggers were not allowed- for you out of town readers.