Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Where's the fire MA S-15?

I did a little more poking around on Google Map's bike directions after work, just to see how they would direct me home.  And, well,  I'm going to stay with my current route.
Their route wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great.  It had me wend through downtown and back bay to get on the Storrow side bike path, cutting over on Western Ave of all places (probably one of the worst bridges for biking) to Harvard.  I went ahead and followed the little link asking for suggestions and told them that cutting over on Harvard bridge or Longfellow would be a lot more bike friendly.

As I said in my original post,  these new directions don't substitute for keeping your wits about you, and making smart choices based on what you are experiencing in the real world.

Although on paper it might not seem bike friendly, my route down cambridge street in the evenings is generally pretty smooth.  For one thing there's not much traffic,  for another, the lights are timed almost perfectly for a bike, so cars can't really get going too fast,  and finally,  there's a lot going on- pedestrians, cabs, bikes, etc, so I think people are going a little slower and paying more attention- a case of more chaos actually making things safer.  I generally take the lane for most of the distance I ride there, and 95% of the time it's no sweat.  Tonight though..

I could hear this guy's impatience as we went from one stoplight to the next.  At the 2nd light, he was lightly revving his engine.  The next bit was the tricky part, with cars turning in and out of a parking garage, a pedestrian crosswalk and a cab stand (and a line of curb parking)  So I kept well out into the lane.
I was moving essentially as fast as the other lane of traffic,  downhill, cars not moving too fast between lights.
Just past the tricky part, he passed me,  and to his credit he did give me a good 5' of clearance,  but he went a lot faster and a lot closer to the car in the other lane than I found safe.  Clearance doesn't help you much if they get into an accident and come spinning your direction!  But he made it (barely) back into my lane just in time to slam on his brakes at the next light.
I followed right on his bumper the three blocks until he got on the thruway.
Perhaps you should be more careful driving if you have an easily remembered custom license plate.
Hope you're happy and that you got there in time Massachusetts S-15!


  1. What a jerk! I would rather someone pass me closely but slowly, than give me a lot of room while vroooooming past. Both at once apparently would be asking too much from most drivers.

  2. interesting point about google bike maps. i've played around a little with this feature, and it's obvious that google bike maps don't take into account nuances that assist bikers in carving out their routes, for example how busy or wide the street may be, or how broken the pavement may be.

    fayette street in cambridge is part of my route home from work. it is one-way, lacks a bike lane, and is narrow and riddled with pot holes. the only way to safely bike it is to take the whole lane. this usually means cars have to wait behind me, although since it's flat i can usually maintain a decent clip and not overly frustrate the drivers behind me. sometimes when i sense a particularly aggressive drivers behind me, i attempt to pull to the side if there are no parked cars to let them overtake me.

    one interesting observation i've made on streets like fayette street is that drivers are much more careful when they see a child seat on my bike (two days a week i have my child seat on the bike, the rest of the week i don't). with the seat, even aggressive drivers tend to keep more distance, and refrain from overtaking me. when they do, they do so more slowly and i'm almost always granted a wider berth. i guess this is a good example of risk compensation...

  3. I've been saying for ages that all commuter bikes should be fit with child seats and that commuters should forego helmets for an altogether car-interference-free commute. :)