Saturday, June 06, 2009

Input from Virginia Beach

In reference to "Cycling is a Civil Right," Paula said...

I'm a Virginia Beach resident, and it's not the worst place to ride, nor the best. A lot of it depends on what part of the city. The area is unfortunately a victim of sprawl and the cul-de-sac, and there just are some just plain unsafe roads with no alternative route. That being said, I commute by bicycle pretty regularly and don't have that many problems. Things can be a bit stressful if you can't bike comfortably over 15 mph in some places though.
It's just such a large city to get from place to place, and it's connected by mostly 45-50 mph main roads, some of which have nice wide shoulders, some have widened sidewalks, and some have "bike routes" on regular sidewalks, which doesn't work. City planning needs to be pressured more, but the general attitude isn't that bad.
On the downside, local legal official have proven they don't really give a damn if a cyclist gets hit, even if they have a reflective vest, front and back lights, are rear-ended, then killed. Definite anger at that bit.

When I checked Paula's profile I saw she's a martial arts instructor.

Paula: I fenced in college and have felt that a little training in a combat sport has helped with my attitude in traffic. Do you think your martial arts training has helped your riding? I wonder if the temperament that gravitates to sports like that helps us accept the flow of action and assert ourselves more strategically.

I also raced a little. I wasn't very good at it, but it also seems to have helped in the traffic criterium. I feel safer with the cars and trucks than I did with a bunch of fired-up Cat Fours.


Ham said...

I wonder if the temperament that gravitates to sports like that helps us accept the flow of action and assert ourselves more strategically.

Isn't that just another way of saying "self confidence"? (combined with a reasonable level of bike fitness)

On a different tack, I came across More Beers than Gears, thought you might like if you hadn't found. I may well try one of those conversion kits on an old muddy fox frame I have for winter.

cafiend said...

Combat sports go beyond self confidence. Weaponless martial arts probably provide more real world confidence than anachronistic play-fighting with things one would get arrested instantly for carrying in the modern world.

In my case, my combativeness and offense-defense mentality are both an asset and a liability. When things get tight and fast, or someone tries to brush me back my immediate response is 'oh yeah, well f--- you!' I stick my elbow out and shove my way in, or evade and escape to engage another day.

Regarding that other tack, doesn't a single speed make it way too easy to have more beers than gears?

Ham said...

Possibly, but isn't it all about the confidence to be where you are and avoid self destructive reactions - wherever it is you get it from?

Oh, and I'll tell you some time about the beers. Had a chat with Charlie and I've ordered up a single speed kit to convert my old (late 80's) Muddy Fox. I'm hoping for a "No Britneys" sticker. ( Britney Spears -> Gears in cockney rhyming slang)

cafiend said...

Yeah, I'd figured that out about the Britneys. I was kind of proud of myself for being multilingual.

Yokota Fritz said...

Regarding attitude and traffic: It seems some people do get overly uptight when riding with traffic, whether they're driving or bicycling.

I was driving pulling out of a parking lot into the street a couple of years ago and stopped short of the sidewalk to let a guy walk by. He shuffled in front of me, stopped, looked straight into my windshield and starts ranting at me that he's traffic and I better get used to people walking and biking around.

I'm with him and I'm pretty aware of pedestrian and cyclist issues and challenges, but I have no idea what imagined offense I committed against this pedestrian. My only takeaway from this is that the dude is mental and should be avoided or ignored.

Many cyclists come off that way as well, unfortunately.