Category: Biking


I got off work early today, putting me on the road at 5:00pm. I wasn’t looking forward to facing rush hour, but it actually wasn’t bad at all. More cars, for sure, but same number of crazies as normal, which is zero, btw (I’m sure they exist, but I don’t have proof, yet).

However, I thought I’d share an interesting sight I saw last week on a day I didn’t bike. In front of me, I saw this lovely balancing act:

I’ve never understood why some cyclists never want to put one or both feet down while waiting at a stoplight. Granted, this particular girl was extremely good at it and I was actually more impressed than perplexed, but still: why??

Is it a form of impatience like when drivers inch forward at a light, or is there an ongoing, worldwide game of Hot Lava going on that no one told me about?

Sorry for the dearth of writing all of a sudden, everyone. I didn’t have any major life changes or anything. It was mostly just a creative slump where I neither made any new videos nor wrote anything.

But much longer than the time it’s been since I’ve written anything is the time it’s been since I’ve written about biking. After all, urban biking is one of my passions, so why don’t I write about it more? Some people write about biking and traffic several times a week, and it’s interesting every time!

I started wondering why that was, and I’ve come to an interesting conclusion: the biking life isn’t weird to me anymore.

Why write about something if it isn’t news? If it isn’t interesting? There’s little danger or adventure when I bike the five miles or so to work. Writing about it would be about the same as writing about driving to work, school, the grocery store, etc.

Then, I realized why THAT is: I bike the way people are supposed to bike, both legally and logically. I stop at stop signs/lights, ride a safe distance from the curb, signal (with my arms) when I’m turning, put lights on my bike when I ride at night, and control a lane just like a car driver would. When I do these things, I get zero surprises. People treat me like a vehicle, and I never get so much as a honk.

So what is there to write about? If it’s the same story every day I go to work, the video store, the eye doctor, or the dozens of other places I bike. My lack of writing about it is a statement in itself: biking is safe and predictable when you do it correctly.

Though if someone ever pepper-sprays me again, I’ll let ya’ll know!

I made a great discovery today! One of the most annoying things I encounter while biking is getting to a red light, but the weight sensor doesn’t detect me because I’m too light, and I have to wait for a car to come to the intersection for it to change.

This is most annoying when there is little or no traffic on the intersecting road. However, I was looking at a little pamphlet of bicycle laws in Missouri when I came across this gem. I’ll summarize in case you don’t want to read it: If you’re riding a bike or motorcycle and come to a complete stop at a red light, you can cross if A- you’ve waited for an undue amount of time, B- the weight/laser sensor has obviously not detected your presence, and C- no cars are coming or are nearby. Here’s the full text:

304.285 Red light violations
Any person operating a motorcycle or bicycle who violates the provisions of section 304.281 or section
304.301 by entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic control signal against a red light shall
have an affirmative defense to that charge if the person establishes all of the following conditions:
(1) The motorcycle or bicycle has been brought to a complete stop;
(2) The traffic control signal continues to show a red light for an unreasonable time;
(3) The traffic control is apparently malfunctioning or, if programmed or engineered to change to a green light
only after detecting the approach of a motor vehicle, the signal has apparently failed to detect the arrival of the
motorcycle; and
(4) No motor vehicle or person is approaching on the street or highway to be crossed or entered or is so far
away from the intersection that it does not constitute an immediate hazard.
The affirmative defense of this section applies only to a violation for entering or crossing an intersection
controlled by a traffic control signal against a red light and does not provide a defense to any other civil or
criminal action.

All this time I thought I was going all Martin Luther King Jr.-style civil disobedience, but now I realize that I was doing what I was supposed to! Good job, Missouri legislature!

Liberation

I did it. Today, I got rid of my last obstacle to legal bike-riding. I am otherwise a 100% street-and-bike-path-dwelling cyclist, but there was a final holdout, a single place I kept riding on the sidewalk… until today.

Why just one place? Well, it’s simple, really. Almost every street I ride on is not what I consider a “major” street in Springfield. The only “major” street between me and everywhere I ride is this little road called National Avenue, and it’s simply a street I cross, not ride along. While I legally should ride on the street wherever I go, it just seemed so intimidating to actually ride on National. When I cross on Cherry St, there’s a light, and I just go straight across.

However, there’s a spot where I frequently cross National which I can’t just “cross” the same way. Here’s a satellite image courtesy of my good friend, Google Maps.

Crosswalk on National

From home to campus, I ride in on Lombard, and from campus to home, I ride on Page. I’d have to ride on National for 10 to 30 feet to or from the crosswalk depending on which way I’m going.

Since National is full of big, scary cars, I’ve just been putting my tail between my legs and trekking up the sidewalk to get from Lombard St to the crosswalk, or from the crosswalk to Page.

No more.

No, yesterday, I claimed my liberation. After some initial tries in the last few weeks, I really did it: I rode on National. Both ways. Middle of the day. Lane changing, hand signaling: the whole shebang.

It felt good.

P.S. If you type in “National and Grand, Springfield, MO” into Google Maps and go to Street View, go a few spaces “backward,” and the car magically ends up in the Break Time parking lot, but still says it’s on the road. Gotta love Street View.