wingolog

the chosen one

16 June 2009 8:53 PM (bike | barcelona)

Today I met up with an old friend I hadn't seen in a while, at the bar that he runs. Conversation was lovely. But that's not what I want to talk about.

On my way home, I rode on roads I hadn't been on in a while. I'm used to riding in the normal lanes, taking up the space of a vehicle, but they recently put in new protected bike lanes on these roads, so I decided to give them a try.

Most of Barcelona is laid out on a grid, with truncated corners. Like this:

   /------\ ^ ^  /------\
  /        \. " /        \
  |        |. " |        |
  |        |. " |        |
  \        /. " \        /
   \------/.  "  \------/
crossing *.   "
   /------\.  "  /------\
  /        \. " /        \
  |        |. " |        |
  |        |. " |        |
  \        /. " \        /
   \------/ . "  \------/
            . ^<- cars
            ^ <- bike lane

Streets are mostly one-way, alternating by block, and there are some larger arteries. The bike lanes that they put in are two-way, on the left of the cars. This means that every other block, cars will be turning into the bike lane -- a sure point of danger.

To compensate for this, the bike path designers made the bike lanes turn in at those dangerous crossings, and cross alongside the pedestrians. Cars are stopped at a light, in theory.

I suppose I appreciate the theory. In practice, it's a bit irritating to have to go the extra distance at the dangerous crossings. It slows you down, the curves present a danger of their own, and you make fewer lights. Sometimes there are times you could have caught the intersection if you were in a car lane, but the bike lane's light is red. Etc.

So when I came to about my tenth turnout, I looked around to see if there were cars, and seeing none, I decided to cut straight to the other side of the bike lane. I lined up my wheel with the rubber dividers separating the bike lane from the road, looked under my shoulder at speed, and accelerated across the intersection---

    ---into the air---

         ---to one of those brief moments of false clarity, the silent "shit!", the grasping rationality, the approaching pavement---

             ---the bounding up to look for cars---

                 ---the joke about it, ashamed of course, with the nearby parked scooter...

Apparently I didn't line up right with those damn rubber things. They're there to keep scooters out of the bike lane, but they have other effects.

My bike appears to be fine. Amusingly, the only lasting effect is that the left side of my handlebar has been bent back by about 15 degrees, which is one of the only parts that I haven't yet had to replace.

I would like to believe that in that brief aerial instant, that I executed some clever and graceful landing, informed by Aikido, but no, the evidence points elsewhere -- a skinned knee and elbow, a pedal-bitten calf, and two stigmata on the palms: perhaps a divine warning against hubris. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.

3 responses

  1. Jeff Walden says:

    I'd appreciate a picture of these "rubber things" of which you speak, as I have no idea what you're talking about at all.

  2. Benny says:

    Yes, I would also like to see those.

  3. Tiffany says:

    I should read your blog more often.

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