I had another day with no reports about bicyclists. One guy ran off the road on his motorcycle, and that was it. So, you’re going to get several hundred words of my yammering. (Why does my spell checker have “yammering” but not “peloton”? Or “Anglophone”? Or any number of words that I use on a regular basis?)
I put a number of miles on the bike last week, most after dark, and most outside the city of Garland. And I could tell without even looking when I left and came back into my current city of residence, just by the actions of the drivers as they passed (or didn’t). I was wearing my blinky vest and riding according to TX VC 551.103 using the blinky vest as my tail light/reflector and with a Spok Front light from Planet Bike. When I was in Richardson or Dallas I got passed safely with a minimum of comments, which were mostly complementary. I get back to Garland and I get sworn at, told to ride on the (non-existent) sidewalk, buzzed and once all of the above in one encounter. Now as far as I know there wasn’t any personality test required to move to Garland, at least there wasn’t when I moved here in 1994. So why is there so much animosity and ignorance in Garland that isn’t there in the neighboring towns of Richardson and Dallas. I get similar hassles in those 2 towns, but at nowhere near the same rate as Garland. Is there something in the water, or is there something in the design of the city?
In Richardson and Dallas there are more secondary through roads that I can use to get where I need to go on my bike. In Garland once I get out of the housing development I live in there is an east-west route north of Beltline that is on secondary roads, and that’s pretty much it. All other trips I have to stay on the main roads, because those are the only through roads. Everything else is superblocks and cul-de-sacs. Those are nice if you’re police and you’re trying to trap a drug dealer, but if you’re a guy riding a bike and you need to get from A to B safely, well that puts you in a bind. From studies done in Europe in the late 1960s and early 970s we know that when mixing bikes and motor vehicles thae highest speed limit that will allow safe mixing is about 32 MPH (50 km/hr) and that motor vehicle drivers’ behavior gets worse as speed limits increase. Why the latter is true I don’t know, maybe as speed limits increase drivers perceive cyclists as more of a impediment and less as valid roads users. The speed limits of through streets in Garland is 40-45 MPH, actual speeds are in the 50-60 MPH range in the 40 zones, 55 to near 70 in the 45 zones.
Do the high speeds make for more rude drivers? Or is it just a matter of being on the roads where drivers don’t expect bicyclists to be? I can’t say, all I know is there are a larger proportion of assholes behind the wheel in Garland than in neighboring cities to the west. Now our neighbors to the east are just as bad, but I am usually riding state highways when I ride through them, which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish…
Billed @$.02, Opus