Friday, April 8, 2011

Road Debris

In the last two weeks, I've had two flat tires. It could be road debris - the influx of rain can leave the biking lanes and shoulders riddled with sticks, stones and other random things. It could be an improperly inflated tire. I don't know. But, it's been a bit of a bummer. Luckily, both flat tires occurred near or at home. I wasn't left stranded far from home, having to either fix the flat, hop on a bus or call for a ride. (And I'll admit it, I have yet to tackle fixing the second the flat. I just need to get up the courage to tackle it all again.)

So, that kind of leads me to two different trains of thought...

1)  Wherever I'm riding, especially when it comes to long rides OR commuting rides, I really like biking on or near a bus route. In Madison, and in some parts of the Clemson area, I can choose routes that paralleled the bus. Being on a bus route helped me feel safer because I knew that if I got into a difficult situation - bad weather, a major flat or accident, etc. - I could just hop on the bus to get home. As independent as I feel on my bike, I still like to have a reliable set of four wheels to call on when I need it. With a bus nearby, I don't feel like I could get stranded or scared as easily - especially if I'm out riding by myself.

2)  Man, do I wish that the roadways/bike lanes/shoulders would get cleaned up way more often than they do!!! After a rain storm the side of the road is COVERED with sand, road grit, glass, sticks and a bunch of other random stuff that is not good for your bike tire. When I'm commuting on 93 between Central and Clemson, the "bike lane" is really narrow and the road is pretty busy. (Okay, and it's also not really a bike lane). This leaves little room to dodge the road debris. Since I've been riding for a couple of months along this path, I knew it would be a matter of time before one of my tubes would pop.

One summer in graduate school, I commuted from Madison to Middleton everyday for an internship. Part of my commute was also along a busy, not very-well-kept or marked road. Branches, dirt and cracks in the road just added to the stress of riding along heavy traffic. One simple thing communities could do to support or show their love for bike commuters is keeping the bike routes clean and cleared.

In Madison, the bike routes were kept plowed all winter. And sometimes they were cleared before the roadways! I know this is not the norm, but efforts like this really contribute to the bike-friendly and/or bike-ability of an area, allowing bike commuters to truly be bike commuters - always.

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