Observations – cycling edition


Lately I have gotten back into bicycling in a big way. I had fallen out of the habit a few years ago, and had several aborted attempts to rekindle the cycling mojo. But the recent diet and exercise plan, and the fact that I can ride without it causing my plantar fasciitis to flare up is all good.

About 16 miles of my usual route are on well paved paths that happen to follow the irrigation canals. Mostly in excellent shape, and mostly clean (some dirt and debris, as well as some potholes) make for good riding.  There are major road crossings about every mile or so.  I go from Williams Field Road all the way up to Broadway (past the 60) and back.

On these paths I have many encounters with people.  Mostly they are smooth, I call out that I am passing, and what side, and they don’t freak out. But not always.

  • The Headphones: Joggers, walkers and the like are almost always using their headphones to listen to music or whatever.  No problem. But a pretty large fraction of cyclists also wear headphones.  I know you aren’t on city street, dicing it up with traffic, but FFS, you need to be somewhat aware of your surroundings, and that means being able to hear. The number of times I call out that i am passing and it invokes no response is alarming.
  • Riding two up: Again, a bicyclist phenomenon.  Two (or more) people are our for a ride at a leisurely pace. Awesome. Glad you are out. But, when someone calls out that they are passing, and telling you what side they are coming on, it is time to fall back into a line. Sometimes they do, but often they are in the midst of a conversation and they are oblivious to the goings on around them.
  • Responding to the call out wrong: this one is perplexing. I call out “Passing on the left” and suddenly they practically jump to the left. Really, all I wanted was for you to not move, and nto freak out (or if you are riding/walking two across, to scootch over to the right to allow me to safely come by. But for some reason, people react wrong.
  • Dog walkers: I am a dog person, and i have no problem with people using the multiuse path for getting their four legged friends some exercise. But keep them on a leash, and don’t let them lunge at bicycles.  I know that some dogs are less socialized and freak out, but most are fine. As a cyclist, I have a few seconds to ger around safely, and I don;’t want to worry about the hounds. Also, if you are walking your dog(s) please don;t wear headphones. Dog owners have a responsibility to be aware of their surroundings. Sorry if this is harsh.

These are just some of the behaviors I see riding the canals. I also get to see some amazing wildlife (who would have thought that irrigation canals would foster a teeming ecosystem of fish, insects, and birds.  Last week I saw a turtle in the canal.

I also see a lot of people fishing. There are lots and lots of fish in the canals, some quite large (5# or more by the look of them).  Most are probably carp, or related to the carp family, but I see a lot of people fishing and pulling out fish.  I couldn’t imagine eating fish from an irrigation canal, but to each his own.

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By geoffand


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July 2013

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