Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Being Stranded With A Bike Convinced Me That Commuting On One In South Florida Is A Pipe Dream

 This really is not a story about workouts but I will admit it, I am aggressive with them.

After all, I do like the buzz of the runner's high. 

Off to the big park I am going every other day.  One lap is about 4.5 miles, 5 makes a good workout, 6 makes a marathon.  That 5 laps around the park is 22.24 miles, at least it was today.

I stop at the car for a water stop after 3 laps.  13.33 miles, give or take a few feet.  A wee bit more than a half marathon.  I'll sit on the bumper of my old soldier, my 2002 Jeep Wrangler X and sip water and eat 200 calories of cookies.  Up again until I am done.

But that "X" was important.  It denoted that I have a manual transmission.

Except today that manual transmission quit.  Rather, what happened is that the clutch went to the floor and did not engage.  You need a clutch.  It must engage, Number One!

Just about 2 miles south of the park is a Jeep dealer.  I had to drive past it on the way home.  Or rather I will finish the drive after they repair it because it got that far and I had to start the car in gear with the key.

I know.  Terrible for the starter.

As I was talking to service advisor, I was asked how would I get home.  I pointed to the back of the car and shrugged.  "On that bike?"  "Yes, it's only 6 miles.  Ten Km".

They thought I was riding up Everest, or reacted like that.  I had seen the course and I can do 6 miles in a half hour on a bad day. 

I got the bike off the car and started riding once I got all my timers and cameras going.

You see here's the rub.  It's an American City.  In fact I started in Pompano Beach, Florida and drove through Fort Lauderdale, Florida to get home and both cities have won the "All American City Award" at one time or another.

What that means is bicycle trails are an after thought.  The speed limit was 45 MPH/72KPH.  There really is no way that 185 pound me on a 50 pound bike with all the accoutrements would be safe on the on again-off again bike trail that is on that road.  I was much safer plodding along on the sidewalk.  The few times I dropped to the bike lane I felt very exposed and very threatened.

I am asked by the Chief of Police here what I would do to make the roads safer for cycling.  That is the point, it can't be the way it is here.  I can't see how anyone would consider riding that road in anything but an emergency like it was for me today.  Sure the distance was trivial, I could ride from my house to the park, do laps, ride home.  The point would be that it is questionable whether I would survive more than a few trips.

Being on a 6 lane highway with high speeds would require physically separating the bike lane off.  Use a curb to stop cars from going onto that lane.  Upgrade sidewalks to take up that bike lane, and mark it so that you could be safe with rumble strips on the traffic side.  Then perhaps lower the speed from 45 to 35. 

None of that will happen.  Political will is not really there for that.  Widening sidewalks to sacrifice traffic lanes would be a massive fight.  Distances here are way too large to say today we will live like we are in London, Manhattan, or Hong Kong.  There aren't dedicated buses and bus lanes to take up the slack.  The major North-South route here, Interstate 95, is a nightmare to drive.  In fact one of the things you learn as a local is to avoid I-95 at all costs, and use US-1/Federal Highway and other surface routes to get to where you are going.

The very same road I used to get back from the car dealer.

So the idea of turning to that road to commute on a bike is simply put, madness.  South Florida was not designed for bicycles.  There are some roads that are better than others, but converting a major highway over where ingress and egress of cars is paramount is just not practice-able.   There may be better places for a bike lane but commuting on US1 is probably best left to a car, even one with a bad clutch master cylinder.

My own day ended with a calculated 28.32 miles.  45.58 KM ("in new money" as the Brits might call it).  A Hyper Marathon.  I got home and we will leave it at that.  We can improve but until I see some major improvements, I'll simply hold my tongue and hope for the best.  Besides, I have to get my car back and that is another 10K up that same Federal Highway that freaked me out

If you are visiting South Florida, and need a place to cycle, this map will help.  It's from the county, and has markings all over it to show you where to go.  I suggest Pompano Airpark - no Gators, plenty of trail-hogs to yell at, and very few car crossings.  For inline skating, try Mills Pond - much lower use road and plenty of facilities.

Keep Right Except to Pass!
On yer left!

1 comment:

  1. Or, be like me, on the bike trainer in the back yard. 🚴. Em.