Seattle’s First Bike Box

We got our first bike box last night, on eastbound Pine at the corner of 12th. I’m pretty excited, as it’s on my daily commute and is one of the more dangerous corners for cyclists. In my early days of bike commuting, I had two near-misses at this corner from cars turning right without looking for bikes. I’ve since learned to just claim the lane, which the bike box makes easier and more obvious to do.

Here it is in all of it’s shiny green glory.  The car in the second photo was a little unclear on the concept:

Share the Road?

Interesting post from “bike lawyer” Steve Magas on the mentality of “share the road” and the history of right-of-way for all vehicle types.  Although I doubt very much that well-intentioned signs contribute to motorist attitudes toward cyclists, Steve’s point about the “right of way” vehicle (i.e., the vehicle in the lead) is one that all riders and motorists need to consider.  The lead vehicle – be it bike, car or buggy – has the right of way, and vehicles behind it need to be observant to the lead vehicle’s actions.

share the road signs

(although I will say that I think the sign with the car following the cyclist is far more effective than the one with traffic side-by-side, which reinforces the implication that cyclists should ride on the shoulder at all times)

So – observing the rights of the lead vehicle means that cars shouldn’t honk a cyclists who’ve taken the lane, and bikes should consider the actions of cars in front of them, even if the cyclist has a bike lane.  God knows I’m guilty of not being as good about this as I could be when I’m on my bike.

Review – Chrome Bike Shoes

For nearly two years, I commuted in my work shoes.  With an in-city commute of only 3 miles each way, who needs bike shoes?

Those who’d rather not ruin good shoes, that’s who.

After seeing my favorite pair of Doc Martens succumb to daily thrashing from road grit and “pedal bend”, I decided I needed some purpose-built shoes for the bike.  Problem is, most bike shoes are high-tech contraptions built for cleats or specialized pedals.  Even my mountain bike shoes didn’t feel right for city riding.

I tried an old pair of Vans for a while, and while serviceable, the sole was too thin and bendy for my taste.  So I bought these shoes from San Francisco-based Chrome.  They’re made for city riding, and have a number of smart features:  semi-rigid shank in the sole for stiffness, a “garage” to keep the laces from flying around and multiple steel-grommeted holes for ventilation.  Here’s what they look like after 6 months of daily wear:

chrome bike shoes

These things are sturdily-built.  There’s no chance the cordura uppers are going to rip; the sole will wear out or separate from the upper before that happens.  Speaking of the soles, they break down in a way familiar to anyone who has worn Chuck Taylors or All Stars, with the edges of the rubber sole chafing and separating from the central sole unit:

chrome bike shoes 2

The reflective deal on the back fell off one shoe pretty quick, but all told these soles seem way more durable than the Converse products.  Besides bike wear, I’ve also worn these around quite a bit.  Unlike most bike shoes, they’re very comfortable for walking.  I even get the occassional admiring comment on them – and trust me, that doesn’t happen a lot to this 42 year old father of two.

“Kursk” shoes from Chrome; highly recommended.

On Being Assertive

This report from the UK largely mirrors what we see here: A feeling amongst drivers that bikes don’t belong on “their” roads.  What’s equally interesting is the point made in the article about the conflict between two different types of riders – those favoring “assertion” and those on the “avoidance” side.    Assertive riders want to claim their space in the road; “avoidance” riders would rather not mix with traffic (but have little choice, given the lack of dedicated cycling infrastructure).

As we’re not going to be getting parallel bike infrastructure anytime soon, let me offer up the obvious:  All “avoidance” riders need to get more assertive.  We all start up nervous about mixing with traffic, but if you stay that way you really shouldn’t be riding in the streets.  Nervous, cautious cyclists are a danger to themselves, other riders and even drivers.  They risk getting doored (or suddenly swerving into the lane to avoid getting doored) and they invite drivers to try to pass them in places where passing isn’t safe.  They brake for phantom dangers, stop in blind spots at right turns and ride in the “fog lane” where drivers can’t see them.

Now, by “assertively” I don’t mean “like a jackass” or “stand on your rights, even when a bus is squeezing into the bike lane to make a stop.”  I mean being visible and predictable – which adds up to being safe.