This is continuation of these two articles.  I am trying to drive the bike more often these days, but it suffers from the same problem I’ve always had.  There are always easier ways to get around, even if they aren’t as good for me.

I live in a 1960’s suburb of Washington, not designed for walking and biking, but designed well for the traffic loads of the 60s.  It has been expanded to handle the traffic loads of the 90s, but the walking and biking environment was an afterthought.  And why not? The only way to get to things 3-5 miles apart was in traffic, and the roads were sized, expanded and expanded again to deal with a rush hour crutch of traffic, not bikes.  To get cars out of this traffic as soon as possible, every place with a job was put behind a parking lot.  As important as “articulation”, “fenestration”, and “ingress” are as architectural principles, ”parking” is the most important thing for a person in traffic to see when they look at a building.  If they do not see that, they will worry about it for half a second, and keep moving.  All the parking moves everything apart to a  traffic scale.

Good urban design offers something new for people to look at every two seconds.  For traffic moving at the national average of 31 MPH, this means things are naturally 100 feet wide.  On a bike that distance is thirty feet, walking, it is ten.  The model of developing from farm roads to residential and commercial subdivisions over the last century involved subdivision of farm lots with one or two connections to the main road.  Same as with the farmhouse, but with dozens more households all sharing the same enter and exit.  The old farm roads became the arterials, widened and paved for traffic, and most of the residential or commercial, properties were in 20 acre lots with just one connection to the nearest arterial and no through connections.

Where I live is pretty well built for traffic, but built terribly for bike

Despite this, I’ve been biking in it anyway.  This has been arduous for years.  I’m trying to put muscles back on my legs long atrophied by desk work and the brake pedal.  The quality of my bike has little to do with how good my bike is.  If I am strong, my bike is a sports car.  If I am weak, my bike just blew its head gasket.  I knew strength was made of a lot of weakness, and that I had to drive as much as possible to return to the strength I had a decade or two ago.

Nevertheless, I bargained with my bike too.  I made sure the tires were rock hard, to reduce friction.  I noticed that the rear wheel spun down faster than it should have.  This is my first bike with disc brakes, which have been getting cheaper over the last 20 years.  On my Monday drive, I got fed up with the sluggishness and changed course for the bike shop to get my brake disc trued.  It turns out it didn’t need truing, but my caliper was off center.  I felt young again on yesterday’s drive, but I still couldn’t bomb up those hills.  There’s a long way to go before I enjoy this again.


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