Friday, May 28, 2010

Legality Meets Reality

Construction has stopped until June 21 on Route 28. I have that long to work out a construction zone action plan.

Technically, the traffic control people should hold the lane open for me as they would for any other vehicle. On certain sections this is not a problem. If the grade runs in my favor I can get to the end of a short enough zone to beat the sign holder with an itchy hand. If I am a few feet away they have always held up a second or two so I could get through. So far, anyway. If I fall behind that, they release the traffic on me. I'm left to figure out what to do.

One time I had to stop in about two feet of space next to a guardrail and chuck my bike over it as I leaped to follow. Now that I know a cyclist is disposable in these situations I make sure I don't get wedged in like that.

I understand the traffic controllers' problem. Motorists bottled up behind a barrier turn quickly into an angry mob. They'll put up with the wait as long as they see what looks like a fair and sensible system. Make them wait as much as minutes after the last motor vehicle for some sweaty idiot pushing pedals to wobble through and they'll blow a gasket.

Part of the problem is that the sign reading "Slow" only means "Relatively Slow." Ripping through the chute, drafting a large vehicle, I regularly register a speed in the 40s. If I was a construction worker I wouldn't feel really safe with cars and trucks roaring past the emergent cleft of my buttocks at 40+ miles per hour, but I guess it's better than the typical 65 that most drivers try to maintain on the 55 mile-per-hour roads around here. Many of them try to maintain it on all the roads around here. Going 42 through a narrow lane between cones feels crawlingly slow.

Even if the motorists go 25, which really feels like creeping to them, I will get dropped fairly quickly. I'm a tired old man on a heavy bike. On a light bike I would still be a tired old man.

During this recent construction I've only caught a large enough draft to get me through it once in four or five commutes on days they were working. Clearly I can't depend on that. And that's a dangerous option. I have to ride tight to the tailgate of my pacer. I will have to do a mix of alternate routes, riding in the actual construction area and maybe some short bushwhacks through the tick-infested grass on the other side of the guard rail, depending on what happens where.

We become cyclists because we are willing to take care of ourselves. This is just more of that.


Alexwarrior said...

Maybe you can you find out what company is in charge and call them up and discuss it with them?

Ham said...

I, too, am curious. In a country as litigious as the US, sure the company has a Health & Safety monkey who you could talk to, and point out that they would be liable if they failed in their duty of care? I can understand if you would choose not to, though.

cafiend said...

I haven't decided what I want from them yet. The litigiousness of the country is offset by the popularity of angry mobs and lynching parties. I would not want to be the target of either one if I made a stink and forced traffic control to hold back dozens of steaming motorists while I made my stately way through the construction area.

The whole thing is a pain in the ischial tuberosities.

Rantwick said...

"We become cyclists because we are willing to take care of ourselves. This is just mrowe of that"

Well put! Once again, your writing style fits my brain. Cleft-emergent contruction workers, by the way, should consider fanny packs.