2013.05.15 Biking through Seattle

Written by David Green.

Before my brother Dan returned home to Seattle, he left me with a present: a By the Way column. It gives us small-town people an interesting perspective of one slice of life in the big city.

By DANIEL GREEN

While walking the streets of Morenci I saw some bicyclists and

wondered if they were commuting to work. I'm curious because bicycling to work is a really big deal in Seattle. On a busy Seattle bicycle route during rush hour, it's not unusual to see 25 cyclists stacked up at a stoplight. There are lots of bike lanes and city buses have bike racks to accommodate cyclists who might need them.

This month, bicycle mania in Seattle reaches a fever pitch. Part of the reason is that after months of rainy weather, the sun is finally appearing. The fair-weather cyclists are joining the hardcore riders who have been commuting all winter in their foul-weather gear. The other reason is that May is officially Bike to Work Month in Seattle.

This month, businesses and civic organizations encourage employees to commute by bicycle. If cycling isn't possible, citizens are urged to take the bus or walk. There are contests and other incentives to get people out of their cars. The biggest event of all is Bike to Work Day, which is May 17 this year.

On Bike to Work Day there are dozens and dozens of "commuter stations" set up along popular bicycle routes. These stations offer free goodies, like water bottles, energy bars and mechanical tune-ups.

Some stations have tiny cafés serving breakfast. There are prize drawings. If you're really enthusiastic you can join the mayor (an avid bicyclist) for a morning bike rally at city hall.

I'm not done yet. At the end of the work day there's a street party with live bands and a cyclist-outfit fashion show. Don't forget bicycle happy hour at the bars. There's one bar that owns a 16-passenger pedal-powered beer-mobile. There are photos of this contraption on the bar's website: http://www.thecyclesaloon.com.

Some people spend thousands on the very best bikes and accessories. Not me. My bike is old and very sturdy with fat tires. Lots of riders clamp their bicycle shoes onto the pedals for maximum pushing power. I don't do that. Too scary to have to waggle my shoes out of the clamps when I have to stop. I do wear actual bike pants to avoid chafing, but I don't buy pricey paper-thin jerseys with colorful racing team labels on them.

I haven't been cycling to work very often for the last few years. That's because of the "terrible triad of the elbow." Several years ago I was on my way to work when I cut a corner too tightly and my rear wheel hit the curb. I went down with all my weight on the elbow and the doctors said I had the terrible triad; I'd destroyed all three important parts of the elbow. Three surgeries later, I have a more cautious outlook on commuting.

It doesn't really make sense, but I still ride most every weekend for fun, exercise and errands but I usually take the bus to work. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and go back to bicycle commuting. The building where I work just refurbished its bicycle parking area. The new bike cage is lined with wall hooks for hanging and locking the bikes. It also has a communal tire pump and a few common repair tools for riders. The building also installed a couple showers. It's all very inviting, and I might be persuaded to join the throngs of riders again.

Maybe I will, but sometimes I get angry. I get mad when I remember the car that rapidly backed out of a parking space and into my path. I screeched to a halt and found myself staring into the eyes of woman on the passenger side. She and the driver both seemed surprised to see me. Some drivers have bike-blinders. They pretend we don't exist and don't look for us.

I also get mad at fellow cyclists who ignore the rules of the road and make us all look bad. Then there are the annoying bikers who hold

"critical mass" rides once a month. This is when a gang of bike riders decide to take over an entire lane of traffic to remind everyone that the streets are not for cars only. They wave and yell while vehicles helplessly back up behind them. They are the radical wing of the bicycle rights lobby.

Maybe you didn't know bicycling was so complicated, involving fashion shows, special parking garages and fights over road rights. I'll end this with one simple message.

The most amazing thing I've noticed about bike riders in Morenci is that they don't seem to be wearing helmets. I have a name for riders who don't wear helmets—"organ donors." All of you unprotected cyclists, please sign up to be donors so we can all benefit if your head meets the pavement.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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