Monday, April 02, 2007

Anatomie of a bike ride

I developed this idea for a post (or at least for a collection of photos) a week ago today. It was a beautifully sunny morning, and as I was zooming along a bike path on my way to work, I caught sight of my elongated shadow on the grass beside the path, and I thought that it would be fun to document the stages of my bike ride. It's a ride I've been taking to work for almost a year, since my lab moved to a new building on the opposite side of town. I had a little hiatus over the winter, not so much unwilling to ride in the cold, but wary of the ice and snow. The hiatus was made easier by the willlingness of a co-worker who lives nearby to cart me to and from work. But I've been back on my bike for the last 3+ weeks, and it's certainly a pleasurable ride.

So although this idea occurred to me over a week ago, it has since then been rather gloomy (and even snowy). That is, until today, when I finally took the camera with me to capture the following:
The Road Near Home. This is one of two roads that I actually have to ride on. Otherwise, it's all bike paths.

Along that same road, a bright yellow sign announces that, indeed, this is a bike-friendly road. Not all roads are labeled as such: this one is essentially a connector street that cyclists can use to use to get from one bike path to another.

Bike path #1. This little connection gets me to the Foothills Parkway path. Do you see the overpass up ahead? I'll come back to that later.

The Foothills Parkway path. I'll be on this for a while, paralleling the parkway almost the entire rest of my trip. I'd really rather not be so close to the parkway, a multi-lane highway-ish road that cuts through the city from the south to the north, but it's the most direct way for me to get to work. Thankfully, I have the path. I've just passed the first of four prarie dog colonies. These little guys were all still in their homes as it was still too shady and cool for them to emerge out into the world.

Ugh. The construction. This is the busiest intersection in town, where the Foothills Parkway crosses the busiest of the east-west roads. When the signs went up last year, they predicted that the construction would take 10 months. 10 MONTHS! Thankfully, they've kept true to Boulder form, and have continually tried to make it possible for cyclists to pass through unscathed. It certainly keeps us on our toes, as this path often changes from the morning to the afternoon.

The overpass. Other than the intersections, this is the closest that the path comes to the parkway. It's also the highest point of my trip, just past prairie dog colony #3.

The wait. This light takes forever. It's the bane of all cyclists who use this section of the path. Pressing the button doesn't help speed it up. It's just a long wait.

The underpass. I don't actually use this underpass, or the overpass that I pointed out in the fourth photo. But underpasses like these are what make Boulder such a bike-friendly city. It's very easy to go from one end of the city to the other without waiting at a stoplight because these exist. And they're kind of fun!

The Home stretch. Up to the intersection, across one more street, up a hill and I'm at work.

But not until I've passed prairie dog colony #4.

So why do I bike to work? You can probably guess that there are a couple reasons, but I don't know that I can prioritize them: it's cheaper than driving, it's good exercise, and it's better for the environment. Personally, I think the more important question is why is it possible for me to bike to work? The non-philosophical answer is that we designed things this way when we chose where we were going to live. I'm just fortunate that it's working out the way we'd hoped.


Trent said...

I know this sounds cruel but I was hoping there'd be a pic of the ground where you fell trying to take pictures while riding your bike. Oh well.

ewe are here said...

Fun post! I wish the bike lanes in the UK were 'friendlier'... how I miss biking in the Scandinavian countries. Very bike friendly.

Right now I need a trailer for the wee ones so I can tote them around this summer.

Meg said...

I love biking too. Although it isn't very bike friendly around here. People drive pretty darn fast around those curvy roads. (remember to keep elbows in)

It's been so wet here. It's rained for pretty much a week straight now. So I haven't hauled out my bike yet. But it means that the snow is melting fast, and soon I'll hit the road.

Love the post idea