Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Last Half Mile Home or the Most Dangerous Part of My Ride

In general I find riding a bike a safe activity, I find riding with my kids locally less dangerous then riding in a car. People think safety and likely comment on my helmet or safety sash but they do not really make a difference 99% of the time. I like most people whom ride bikes know that infrastructure really makes bicycling safe, in countries like the Netherlands or Denmark where bicycling infrastructure is separated cycle tracks they have very low rates of crashes and much higher rates of bicycling then in the US.

Most car crashes happen within five miles of your home. For me the scariest part of my bike ride is my last half-mile home. I'd like to blame it on the two hills I have to conquer (the video at the end even with it sped up makes my hill climbing on pace with a brisk walk) but really it is a very dangerous intersection, Main Street and Ridge.

This intersection to put it lightly is a clusterfuck. A central hub of bikes, pedestrian (two trails meet here), SEPTA’s Wissahickon bus transfer center and Regional Rail station, a tractor trailer route AND an alternative car route for the often backed up I-76. With this many users and not enough infrastructure to safely move everyone it is dangerous for everyone.

And here I am using it daily because it is my way into and out of the city. I am always nervous at this intersection whether I am leaving or coming home. 

But coming home is special kind of hell. You can watch the video below (I sped up the video so it is about 8 minutes but this ride took me 14minutes) but let me walk you through it. First I take a sharp turn off the path to ride a narrow two-way sidewalk across the bridge. Next I cautiously transverse a series of driveways where I watch the buses making a left over a double line across two lanes of traffic. I then try to get around the tail of the bus and dodge those exiting the bus. I then ride into an unoccupied business alley. The "parking lot" is often where cars illegally stop or make illegal turns. Next, I hop off and walk my bike up the block hoping to not bully the whole sidewalk for other users. After that, I wait to cross the road; often auto users pull an illegal right or run the red on my cross. In the past week 2 out of 4 of my rides I had two cars run the red light. Luckily I anticipate this. Finally I get over to the correct side of the road but the cars go up hill to fast and often swear into the shoulder which the bus also uses to load/unload passengers so I ride illegally up the sidewalk and past the entrance to the train station which often has people coming and going and eventually into my hood. That's a .5-mile that takes me on average twelve minutes on a good day. 

This area has been on the radar of bike advocates for a while on the Coalition's Bike Crash Map it has had over 15 reported accidents. Making this one of the city's worst intersections for bike riders. Although some beautiful multi-user lanes where designed for this area it looks like what got approved will at the least take me away from the bus area and narrow bridge sidewalk. It's a start and even then that start seems to be stalled as I have heard of no construction etc.

So here I am everyday facing this intersection and nervous. There is NO other way to get to and from my house and to center city without going through it.

City of Philadelphia I ask of you to not delay. To not allow one more crash here (or anywhere in the city for that matter). Let's look at light timing. Allowing pedestrians a longer and safer crossing time and forcing cars to slow down coming off of the local highways. Repainting the intersections could also help.  Next the brush on the left side needs to be cut back so the sidewalk is useable! And how about those often hated red light cameras. I plead with you to install them here! In the mean time can we post cops down here and make the city some money with tickets! Finally, when it snows the bridge over the creek and sidewalks on Ridge need to be shoveled. There are no businesses or homes to take care of them.   

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wrap up of Kidical Mass' Event for the Bike Curious

On Saturday Kidical Mass held an open house at Firth&Wilson. For a January day the shop was busy plus a few regular KMPHLers and some bike curious folks surely turned the shop upside down. We are so grateful for all the family biking support F&W has given to us and it's neighborhood since they opened less then a year ago.

Plus!! When I was leaving there was a couple who were test riding bikes to ride with their 45 pound dog!! That's a M sized dog! Hope they go for a box bike with that puppy weight, maybe the Gazelle Cabby.

     Stole this Picture from Transport Cycles

Our next Kidical Mass ride will be February 15th. The ride will be along the Delaware Waterfront (sounds warm right ;)) and it will end at IKEA. Hello meatballs!

Finally some GoPro stills from Friday and Saturday. I feel like an outfit of the day via GoPro should be a new feature here. Not likely as I am not very fashionable.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kidical Mass at Firth & Wilson this Saturday!

In lieu of a ride this month Kidical Mass Philadelphia is holding an open house with the folks of Firth&Wilson. Please join us for some peer to peer learning from 11-2pm. There will be free beverages, hot pretzels, bikes and kids! 

This is open to everyone! If you already ride or want to ride with kids or if you are interested in cargo bikes or if you just want to support safe streets for all. Plenty of on street parking and easy access to SEPTA bus and orange line. 

               Little red rain riding hood 

In on the street news, it has been great to be back on my bike this week. The kids and I have been able to be out in the fresh air and it has calmed us all back to normal and provided some outside naps. Although we cannot wait for Spring this chilly rain ain't to bad. I'll take it over ice any day. 

      Rain is nothing under the canopy. 

Some stills from the GoPro:

Once I get the new external hard drive set up I will dish more about what I like and dislike about the GoPro. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Back on my Bike and GoPro

Finally, I was back on my bike this weekend! Friday was an ice out. The wintry mix was to heavy on the ice. So I admitted defeat.

Sunday however was overcast mostly but pretty nice out. We rode to the Academy of Natural Sciences as my brother and sister-in-law purchased us a family membership there or Christmas. After doing the rounds we went over to Sister Cities for lunch and some play time.

Speaking of Christmas, my parents bought us a duplicate of an item we already owned so we exchanged it for a GoPro. I haven't had a chance to edit yet as my computer needs an external hard drive as it is filled with stuff aka pictures so it is running slow. 

If you want to watch a camera strapped to my helmet I suggest the following.  Mute and fast forward! This is 20 boring minutes of our ride. You don't want to hear me talk about hard soled boots, call on your left, tell my kid no cookie and point out ChooChoos.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

I haven't been on a bike in almost two weeks. Without a doubt I'm going a little stir crazy from walking and driving lately. We had the holidays then went away on a short vacation to DC for our eldest's third birthday. Where bikes and history meet (insert me all dreamy eyed here). 

My son arrived home with a cold and with the weather & sick child I don't expect to be back on the bike until Friday (which looks rainy so I get to try out my new rain cape poncho I received for the holiday!!). For now hiding indoors under blankets dreaming about spring rides. 

Happy 3rd birthday to my little adventurer. Riding a bicycle became truly special for me when I had you. I bookmarked bike seats before cribs for a reason.