Friday, January 27, 2012

Montgomery County - You Suck!

Montgomery County has stricken all funding for the Metropolitan Branch Trail from its budget until at least 2018. The trail is supposed to provide a link between Union Station and Silver Spring. DC has been taking great strides to build its part of the trail and it currently runs from Union Station all the way north to Brookland. DC still has some work to, but at least it's doing its part.
From the comments in the post linked to above:
"For a county that sells itself as environmentally conscious and progressive, this decision is nothing short of a betrayal."
My thoughts exactly. Shirking its responsibilities and its commitments to a project that involves other jurisdictions, too. And definitely shying away from improving infrastructure for cycling or walking. Sad, very sad.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Road rage is nothing new...

What is it about getting behind the wheel of a car that seems to affect the behavior of some otherwise generally well disposed, kind people? I assume it has something to do with the anonymity driving in major urban area (or anywhere far from home) seems to provide. The safety of a two ton-plus cage of steel around them probably plays a role as well.

In any case, this Disney video from 1950 shows that the ugly behavior often associated with some motorists is nothing new.

Please note the repeated use of the term "some drivers". In no way do I mean this post as an indictment of an entire class of road users. Just a segment thereof. Just as most drivers in the film are kind and respectful, I find that 95%+ of drivers take care to make sure they can pass safely and are willing to wait the five extra seconds it will take them to get around a cyclist safely.

It's interesting that the video is over 60 years old, yet still so pertinent. You may be thinking, were the roads really like that already in 1950?! The answer is yes, in many places they were. 

The battle with congestion is nothing new, even in its suburban incarnation. GM naturally hailed the massive expansion of the road network and a reliance on cars as the greatest thing since sliced bread at its 1939 World's Fair at the Futurama exhibit/ride. 

From GM's 1939 World's Fair exhibit/ride Futurama
YouTube Futurama video (pt. 1/2)

YouTube Futurama video (pt. 2/2)

Decades letter, victims of our own sprawl and poor planning, we know better, or at least we should. But, apparently some things are very slow to change.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What a stud!

Last things first... I have lots of catching up to do, but I thought I'd start with news from today.

I was pleasantly surprised last night to see that OPM had already announced a two hour delay for this Monday morning due to anticipated icy conditions on the roadways thanks to freezing rain and drizzle overnight.

So, I gladly slept a little longer this morning (I'm not a morning person), and then mounted my studded Nokian bike tires first thing after getting dressed.

They're Nokian Suomi Ice Speed tires (700 x 35) with 100 studs per tire. They were easy to install and fit very nicely on my wheels.

I'd never ridden studded tires before so I didn't know exactly what to expect in terms of ride quality, etc.

Off I rolled for work mid-morning. The streets were actually in really good shape. None of the big patches if ice anywhere I'd been led to expect by local forecaster scare tactics. But knowing that if I went over a patch of black ice that happene d just to look like wet pavement gave me serious peace of mind.

The ride on the tires was not bad at all. Sidewalls recommended 49-72 PSI. I went with 65 since I'm a heavier rider and knew I didn't need it real low. The tires are knobby, so they ride like MTB tires, but the studs make for a noisy ride. I noticed people on the sidewalk looking over like, "What the heck is all that racket?"

I did encounter a couple overpasses and bridges along my route where the tires were of great benefit. It was slushy ice by the time I went through after ten o'clock, but the added grip of the studs was noticeable.

I like the new tires. I used to dread reports of possible snow and ice because it meant I would possibly have to ditch my bike in favor of taking the train, especially some trails don't always get the same anti-ice treatment that roads get.

Of course the forecast calls for much warmer weather the rest of the week so they'll probably come off as quickly as they went on. But I thank the weather gods for a little extra sleep this morning and a chance to try out the new tires!

Here are a couple quick pics I took at lunch of the new tires on my bike.

Sample size limited, but so far two thumbs up for my new Nokians!

Bring out your dead!

For those of you who are, like me, fans of Monty Python, this post title hopefully elicited a chuckle.

I'll post a link to a video of the scene when I get a chance, Here's a link to the scene for the uninitiated.

In the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, an old man, supposedly a victim of the Plague, but not really ill, fights to make the undertaker realize he's not actually dead, and that he is, in fact, feeling better.

I was thinking of that scene the other day, and it made me think about the way I feel about this blog. I got off to a flying start in the fall, but it's laid dormant for a few months now. Well, it's feeling fine and thinks it wants to go for a walk, er, bike ride. (reference scene)

I've got plenty of ideas for new posts and content that have been bouncing around in my head all this time... I just haven't gotten around to posting any of it. Well that is about to change so keep your eyes peeled for actual new posts in the coming days and weeks!

"I feel happy!"