Bike Safety Whack-A-Mole on Midtown Greenway

A group of bike commuters in Minneapolis are taking a glass half empty approach to the new crossing of Hiawatha. While the Hiawatha bridge will help bikers avoid 6 lanes of traffic, they’ll now have to deal with 4 lanes of traffic on 28th St withotu traffic signals. More precisely, there is a planned yellow flashing light but nothing to stop car traffic in either direction.

Here is a shot of the area where the bridge comes back to street level and crosses 28th:

Future Midtown Greenway Route

Frankly, I don’t see a particularly difficult area to cross. Especially compared to crossings further West in St. Louis Park. However, here’s the take of a fellow bike commuter from MPLSBikeLove.com:

When a popular local cyclist dies at the 28th Street intersection because one car barreled on through the blinking yellow light, while two lanes of 28th Street traffic stopped and waved the cyclist through, we’ll have a big memorial effort, the city will be eager to put up a suitable crossing light, and donations will pour in so that we can have a proper traffic signal. But why should we have to suffer through the tear-jerking TV and newspaper coverage when we could just cut out that dead middleman altogether?

Let’s just have a “Pre-Memorial” campaign in “pre-Memory” of you, me, the promising young grad student from the U, the funny kid who always loved to bike …. Our “Pre-Memorial Fund” can raise the 50 grand that an ideal traffic light would probably cost, and get a system with the two features cited above.

This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t support a below or above grade crossing that would allow me to keep my momentum. But as far as safety goes, the sight lines are pretty long and traffic from the East is coming off a turn so shouldn’t be moving particularly fast.

If I was to predict a bike-car accident on the Midtown Greenway, I’d go with one of the at grade crossings to the East of Minnehaha. The sight lines suck and cross traffic has little warning about the trail. Especially from the South.

33 1/3 Thoughts on My 33 1/3 Birthday

I turned 33 1/3 today, and decided it’s a good time to reflect back on the first
33 years and four months of my life and what I’ve learned. This was a quick
brainstorm, so I may have missed a few things.

1. There are a lot of idiots in the world, but the most dangerous idiots are the
ones who fake their competence. It’s much easier to work with people who know
their strengths and limitations.

2. While chicken wings go well with beer in the evening, they add up to few
hundred calories you don’t really need.

3. Home owners care more about their communities and neighbors than renters.

4. If given a choice, choose Laguardia when flying to NYC.

5. Try as many sports as you can when you’re young. They’re easier to pick up
and you’ll avoid looking like an idiot by running on a pop-fly later in life.

6. When cross country ski racing, hit the uphills hard, then find a pace where
you don’t go anaerobic for the remainder of the hill. When you crest the hill,
ramp up your speed.

7. If you’re not an uber-geek, seek out the advice of someone more technical
than yourself before buying electronics. You’ll be much more satisfied with your
purchase, maybe save a few bucks, and won’t be mocked when you have to call your
uber-geek friend for advice on how to fix the product you didn’t ask for advice
on before buying.

8. If you know more about the characters on your favorite TV show than you do
about your real-life friends, it’s time to kill your TV. If you have more TV
friends that real life friends, get help.

9. It’s great to workout with a different person each day of the week, but if
you’re drinking with a different person every day of the week, you have a
problem. If you’re drinking with the same person every day of the week, make
sure you’re working out together first.

10. Many big decisions are not as big as you may assume. Things like buying a
home or whether to take a new job are not lifetime decisions, so save some
stress by taking this into consideration.

11. Some of the most optimistic people you’ll ever see are at REI.

12. I have never, in my entire life, heard someone say, “I’ve been hanging out
with my friends too much lately.” but the opposite is often true.

13. Hitchhiking works.

14. Spend more money than you think you should on a camera, but less than you
want on a car.

15. If a restaurant puts their name on something on the menu, it’s probably the
correct order at that establishment.

16. Don’t give people unsolicited relationship advice unless you’re absolutely
sure it’s the right thing to so. Even then, don’t expect a good reaction.

17. Try to be the best at something. It makes for interesting stories and a good
narrative.

18. Run on windy days and bike on calm days.

19. Learn how to use a search engine. It’s not about what you know, but what you
can find out in a few keystrokes that matters these days.

20. Order creme brulee at restaurants because it’s too much work to make at
home.

21. Have your drink order figured out before the server arrives at your table for the first time. That’s what they’re there for.

22. The best Jucy Lucy hamburger is at The Nook in St. Paul across from Cretin
High School.

23. Your network administrator knows more about you that you really want to
know, but most of them are not abusing that information.

24. There is not a direct correlation between intelligence and income.

25. Don’t drink strong beers on hot days.

26. Don’t expect to see Mt. McKinley on a 1-day visit to Denali National Park.

27. Synthetic running clothes are worth the money.

28. Anyone can built a website these days, and most are total ghost towns.

29. Splitting entrees saves money and helps justify getting desert.

30. Get your own domain name so you have the flexibility to change Internet
service providers without changing email. Gmail is a close second based on this
justification.

31. Visiting countries recovering from wars is a good way to avoid tourists.

32. Minnesota sports fans are not as irrationally attached to their sports teams
at many Green Bay or Chicago fans, and that’s a good thing.

33. Golf has more players who are passionate about their sport – yet do nothing
to improve their game – than any other sport. Buying new equipment does not
quality as doing something to improve their game.

33 1/3. The SuperAmerica speedy reward card helps you earn points toward free
gas and hot dogs.

Winter Biking Tips: Bike Lights

The eco-warrior blog on the TimesOnline has posted 10 tips on how to be a winter biker. Good stuff. It looks like the problems I noticed are fairly universal: keeping hands and feet warm.

Other than those two, the biggest challenge I’ve encountered is the lack of light. My commute from Eden Prairie to Minneapolis is almost entirely on a rails to trails trail with little lighting. For some reason, suburbs don’t seem to find the money to invest in lighting the trail with Minneapolis does.

Since I’m on trails rather than the road, my biggest concern is having a head-on collision with another biker or plowing into a dog walker or runner. All could be ugly for all parties involved. I decided to pick up this cateye light to help make myself more visible to oncoming trail traffic and cast some light on the trail:

CatEye Bike Head Light HL-EL500

What I like about this light is that it’s easy to install, runs on four AA batteries, so it’s easy to keep charged (I use rechargeables), and it’s pretty darn bright.

I’ve mounted it on my fork just above my breaks to keep it from sliding down. This worked out well because I already have a handlebar bag crowding out room on my handlebars. The only challenge with the fork mounted position is getting the light to point down or straight rather than up due to the angle of the fork. The mount can be adjusted with a screwdriver to correct for this, so you shouldn’t have any problems unless you have a particularly curvy fork.