Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ring ring

My friend Alison, a college professor in Charleston, S.C., has been riding her bike to work. The other day she had a confrontation with some motorists. "I pedaled along in the road, a couple of feet from the gutter, just as bikers are supposed to do," she wrote on her blog. "I was obeying all the laws -- I was a legal vehicle in the road, but they didn't know it. They were really annoying. One person finally passed me, and as she passed, she yelled, 'Get on the sidewalk!'"

Stories like this make me glad for Madison's profound bike-friendliness. I can't imagine getting yelled at for not biking on the sidewalk here, though I certainly can imagine getting yelled at for biking on the sidewalk. (I have yelled at people for biking on the sidewalk.)

More than that, though, the motorists I encounter between here and work are almost always polite: where the bike path crosses streets, drivers generally stop and wave me through. At four-way stops, drivers nearly always wave me on. Waving and waving me on -- drivers, it seems, just want me to get where I'm going.

Life as a bike commuter in Madison is a very fine thing -- a revelation, even. When I started my new job in June I bought a cheap Schwinn at Target, and it has paid for itself many times over. The only problem: I'm a gadget freak, and I'm spending more on gadgets than I did on the bike. Example: dark comes early now, so I bought blinking lights to announce my existence. For the moment I've got just one fore and one aft, but I have noticed some bikers who bedeck themselves like Christmas trees. Something to ponder.

The only question: will I be on the bike path come February? Wisconsin certainly has winter bike commuters, but until I started biking in, I thought those people were insane. Now I'm not so sure.

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