12 May 2015

Great Scott 2015; Thoughts on driving in traffic

3 May 2015
25 miles

I can't believe I forgot to write this post!
The ride was fun - I decided to use the larger organized ride as a convenient excuse to run a group ride for the bicycle meetup group I belong to.

The Scott Road Ride makes use of several rural roads, closing them to most motor vehicle traffic so bicyclists and pedestrians can use the roads in greater comfort. 
Participants desiring to leave from Folsom have the Palladio shopping center as a suggested parking spot. More on this later.

Only two others showed up at the Palladio, my good friend M. Kay and her husband. We had a nice ride, enjoying the scenic rural countryside. We rode together the 12 miles to Latrobe Rd., then they had to get to another appointment, so we headed back separately.

I remembered that the ride back through the 'open to motor vehicle traffic area' would be tough with noontime weekend traffic. I elected to use the pedestrian crosswalks to make my left turn, although upon consideration, and consultation with the experienced folks on the FaceBook group Cyclists are Drivers, I decided that I could have safely used entirely traffic lanes and the left turn to make my way back to where I had parked.

Parking at the Palladio.

This is the note I posted to FB Cyclists are Drivers group.

"Today, I used two crosswalks instead of fighting my way across multiple lanes of noontime weekend traffic. I just could not see a way to do it as traffic. Folsom, California. E Bidwell and Iron Point Rd. Pinkish lines in the screenshots represent my direction of travel. How would you have handled this?"

 I got lots of good advice from the group, some of which I had to shoot down since I had not included all of my decision making in the initial post.

Here's a non-satellite view of the intersection in question, probably easier to look at.

It was suggested that I could have done a boulevard turn east on Iron Point. 
I replied: " I had considered a 'Michigan turn' on Iron Point (going rt to go left as you suggested) but discarded that option as Iron Point is busy with multiple lanes, starting up a famously long hill, and I am so slow on hills I think it would take phenomenal luck to find a break in traffic big enough for me to get across the 3 lanes to make a boulevard turn."

I also commented on the problems with parking at the Palladio: 
"I saw a lot of frustrating edge hugging and sidewalk riding today, which is probably why I disliked my own behavior so much. The county closes some sections of rural roads to motorized traffic one Sunday in May to mark May is Bike Month. Their suggested parking area for this particular entrance to the closed area is on the other side of this intersection, with some moderately hairy riding in motorized traffic to reach the closed area. I was pleased with my bicycle driving on the way out, as I used actual traffic lanes to get over the freeway overpass, while my friends hugged the right past two on ramps. The closed area is attractive to riders unaccustomed to riding with motorized traffic, but to get there they have to do all kinds of 'feel safe, actually not' things."

I'm going to digress here, and say that the bolded words are what I see as the root problem with bicycle specific infrastructure. If bicycle specific infrastructure is everywhere, then riders of all skill, experience, and 'guts' levels can ride where ever they want. But the reality is, between different regulatory entities, funding issues, and various levels of community support, we are never going to have 'complete streets' everywhere.

Anyway, the best advice I got was to go and practice that intersection. And to USE the traffic lanes already there. Yes, I'll get beeped at. I'll probably survive. No, don't "not believe" in the laws of physics, but I do believe that I can ride in traffic, as traffic, in most situations.

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