Monday, June 19, 2017

Lilac Lane

One of my favourite spots north of town is what I call Lilac Lane -- farm fields planted with a border of lilacs. Last year I missed seeing the lilacs; you have to get the timing just right. But today I saw them in all their glory. 

It was a gorgeous day for a ride, so I headed up the Campsite Road hills and on over to Lilac Lane. Close to this spot is a semi-hidden range road that is like a little roller coaster. I love to ride up and down the hills until I reach the highest point, and then comes the reward -- I can turn around and ride down (with a few ups along the way) to the bottom. It's a great workout with a beautiful view. One day on this road I spotted a fox. Today a deer ran across the road a few hundred meters in front of me.

Today I also ventured onto an unpaved road. I was on my commuter bike, so the tires are a little fatter than the road bike tires, so I thought I'd give it a try. The road was not exactly gravel, but a sort of hard packed dirt and gravel mix, and the riding was fine. This was another pretty ride with a couple of decent climbs.

Get in the bike lane!

It had to happen sooner or later. When I ride to work on 102 Avenue (07:30ish), rather than crossing the street twice (a potentially dangerous activity for Edmontonians) and bumping along riding on the  shared pathway on the north side of the avenue, I usually take the lane and ride on the road. At this time of the day, as at other times of the day when I have ridden on this road, there is not much traffic. Little enough that one lane for the motor vehicles is sufficient, so why not ride my bike in the other lane? Makes sense to me.

But I felt deep down inside that I was being bad -- I mean, really, the city spent all that money and time to make that cute shared pathway on the north side and I'm not using it? Bad girl!

The person who yelled at me today agreed. He was in the one car that was heading west on 102 Avenue. There were no eastbound cars at that time. In other words, except for a single vehicle and my bike, the 4-lane road was empty. But this helpful fellow thought he should offer me some advice. "Get in the bike lane!" he screamed as he passed.

You know what? I'd be happy to get in the bike lane. Only one problem. There is no bike lane.

When the new bridge was being built, I heard rumours that after construction was finished there would be bike lanes on 102 Avenue. Needless to say, I was looking forward to them. But alas, construction is finished and what cyclists have is not bike lanes, but a shared pathway. On the wrong side of the road for my commute. 

Not only that, but the shared pathway has bumps. At every intersection, where the sidewalk material meets asphalt, there is a big bump. When it rains and during the spring thaw, these same spots boast large puddles. 

And one more thing: every intersection of the shared pathway has little yield signs directed at cyclists. This means that if there should be a collision between a cyclist and a motorist, there's a good chance the cyclist could be found at fault because she didn't yield. 

All these things combined mean that I prefer to ride on the road. No crossing the street unnecessarily, no bumps, no little yield signs. And oh yes, no need to ride around vehicles stopped across the crosswalks.

I will admit that in the winter the shared pathway was not so bad. The city usually kept it clear of snow. (Well, except for when we had big snowfalls.) It felt safer to ride separated from traffic even if it meant waiting to cross the street twice. 

But when there is no snow or ice on the ground? No question in my mind but that riding on the road is the way to go.