Monday, October 25, 2010

Daily Commute Musings for Oct 25

Today I want to document an important lesson that I have learned in the last few months of bike commuting.

Fighting traffic in the morning seems to be fairly dependent on two factors: the time, and the daily craziness factor. Some days are just worse than others for no explainable reason other than some people didnt take their crazy pills that morning. As this is something that I havent been able to control or predict, I cant offer any advise on the matter. Time, however, is a factor that you can control.
While some folks that have to drive in from West O, Papio, or some of the other 'burbs of Omaha will tell you that rush hour goes from 6:30am to 8am, thats on the interstate. Here on the humble streets of midtown, rush hour is really only from about 7:25am to 7:45am. There is also a second one from about 8:30am to 9am that I have hit a few times and for the life of me cant explain. During these times, it is highly dangerous to be on a bicycle in the major streets of Midtown (such as 60th, Leavenworth, and Center).  People that normally wold wait behind you will now rush next to you to get in front, either by crowding you in your lane or by veering into oncoming traffic lanes.  They will tailgate you or hurry to pass even if there is a red light a  mere 100 yards in front of you. And they will insist on passing you, even if you are going the speed limit or faster, because you are on a bike and they assume that you are going too slow. These folks are simply not willing to wait the extra ten seconds that it would take to wait behind a bike and instead prefer one of the above dangerous maneuvers.
So this is why I made the rule for myself that I will not leave between 7:20 and 7:50 am. The people are too crazy and the ride is too stressful. If I cant make the 7:20 marker then I just wait it out until closer to 8 to leave.  This morning I failed to follow my own rule and left my place at 7:30. Consequently, I got to witness all of the above maneauvers firsthand, as well as having to stop at several lights that I usually can zip right through due to traffic.
In summary, if you are commuting by major roads, be sure to play with leaving at different times to find what times the traffic is the worse. Then, dont leave at that time. Also, I have found that if you leave at the same time every day, people get to know you. And not as a person, but as a bike on thier route into work. Everyone is a slave to a routine, and most people leave within a 5 minute span or so every day. As such, if you ride every day, then people driving in at that time will come to expect you on thier route, and be more mindful of cyclists on the road in general.  So, find a good time to leave, and leave at that time routinely.

Of course, as the Karma gods would have it, I was blessed with a beautiful sunrise, despite the stressful commute.

Snapped this on the way in. It looked even better in person. 

Happy Monday everyone!

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