A run in the woods

I had a delightful solo run through the woods today. So peaceful. So few people. Such a beautiful thin blanket of snow. Running bliss…I stopped to take a couple of pictures so that people could see the current state of the trails after the light snow this weekend. The trails are certainly passable on foot or by bike, but look out for the patches of ice. Here are some pictures taken this (Sunday) afternoon:

Wissahickon Creek

Bottom of the hill leading up to the Kitchen's Lane parking lot, Lot 11

Forbidden Drive near Valley Green

Ice patches along Forbidden Drive

The (very icy!) bridge over the Wissahickon Creek near Kitchen's

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More on the Lincoln Drive Trail closing

This is the sign posted along the trail alerting people of the upcoming trail closing. In the background is the retaining wall they are planning to fix.

So, I stopped to get the scoop on the trail closing to on my way into work and was told by a very nice crew of about 10 city(?) workers that the trail would be closed, starting tomorrow, for some “temporary fixes” that would help “keep Lincoln Drive from falling into the creek until some federal dollars come through”. The sign posted (photo above) said the trail closing would be Feb. 7-April 30, but the crew I spoke with said they thought it could be opened back up earlier. Let’s hope!

When I came home tonight I had a message on my phone and in my inbox. So, while I wasn’t given much warning, at least information about the trail closing was eventually disseminated. As for getting around the closing, we plan to take Kitchen’s Lane down to Forbidden Drive to connect with what I believe will be an open section of the Lincoln Dr. Trail from Forbidden Drive to Ridge Ave. (and then on toward Center City). On lazy or busy days, we’ll just park in East Falls and bike from there. Here’s hoping this plan works out and the repairs are made quickly! I’m viewing it as a nice excuse to spend more time along Forbidden Drive, which I usually cut out via Wissahickon Ave and Rittenhouse Town in order to save time…

This From West Mount Airy Neighbors, via email:

Repair Work on Lincoln Drive

Emergency repair work begins on February 7th along Lincoln Drive between Rittenhouse Street & Forbidden Drive.
The stone/masonry retaining walls in this area were damaged by last year’s record rainfalls. The work is expected to take 2 months. The parking areas on the southbound side will be closed. The Park Trail between Forbidden Drive & the Pabst Lane Bridge will be closed to pedestrians & bicyclists.There will be some vehicular lane closings during off-peak hours.Check local traffic reports & updates if you’re planning to use Lincoln Drive.
No detours are planned.
For further info, contact the Streets Department at 215-686-5560.

Whew, it has been awhile…updates on riding in the snow, bridge work and an upcoming trail closing (?!)

Riding home from work today I saw signs along the trail leading from Forbidden Drive Trail to Rittenhouse Town (near Lincoln Drive) stating that the trail would be closed from February 7 to April 30th! What? I’ve done a bit of searching online, but I haven’t found more details (such as the reason for the closing, exactly which sections of the trails will be closed, whether or not the trail will be closed at all times of the day, every day of the week…). Anyone know more? Let me know!

Anyway, when I saw the signs I remembered this blog and how I’ve long neglected it. So, a few quick updates:

Biking this winter has not been as much of an adventure as the last few, because it has barely seemed like winter at all. Our weather has been so nice! I’ve had a whopping ONE bike commute in the snow (January 23rd). (Our one other snow storm was on a weekend…in October!) Yep, just one day of commuting in real snow. But, I did take some pictures.

Commuting through snow (Lincoln Drive Trail, bridge near Forbidden Drive Trail)

Lincoln Drive Trail

By the time I got here, along the Kelly Drive Trail, the trail had been plowed, as the Kelly Dr. Trail usually is when it snows (often well before most streets are plowed), and the remaining snow was starting to melt. So pretty!

In other Philly bicycle commuting news, the bridge over the Kelly Drive Trail that used to periodically drop large rocks onto the trail has been fixed (January 13th). So, now the only thing I have to dodge on the way to work is the woman who rollerblades in zigzags wearing only shorts and a tank top tucked up under her bra (in January!). Yes, it has been warm, but I haven’t yet had the urge to bike in a tank top, much less tuck it up into my bra. I haven’t gotten up the courage to take her picture yet, but here is the construction on the bridge:

Crew fixing the bridge above Kelly Drive Trail (and shadows of Ivan and me)

Great start to the morning!

The crazy turn in the bike path at the corner of Kelly Drive and Ridge Avenue has been widened! I am a happy, happy commuter! Hi-hip Hooray! This is particularly good news with winter approaching. I have had numerous near wipe-outs  trying to make this tight corner (pre-widening) on ice covered cement, only to notice at the last minute a cyclist or jogger coming the other way. This should make the transition from the Schuylkill path to the Lincoln path much more pleasant. Hooray!

See the Bicycle Coalition Blog for before and during construction photos.

This morning, I was able to ride on the completed, widened corner (and didn’t have to go flying out into angry morning traffic). I was so delighted, I stopped to take a picture:

Newly widened corner at Kelly Drive and Ridge Ave.

And boy was I lucky I stopped! I felt lucky enough to have the construction completed of course, but then I noticed one of my panniers had fallen off (something that has happened only twice over a few years of riding daily)! I rode back to find it and see this handsome man riding toward me with an extra bag. My knight in shining spandex! Ivan, it just so happened, had been running late behind me, after dropping off the little ones so I could get in early for a meeting, saw my bag on one of the Wissahickon bridges and picked it up, recognizing it as mine. So, not only did I get my bag back quickly–and didn’t miss my meeting–but I got to ride in with my love after all. Great start to the morning!

Bridge to nowhere along Schuylkill Banks?…And, look at that, I am part of the 1%!

For those of you who walk, run or bicycle along the Schuylkill bicycle path in Center City, you’ve probably noticed the bridge in progress for the last few weeks (months?), between South and Walnut.

I noticed it in progress on a ride a while back, but because I cross the river at Chestnut, I hadn’t really been down to investigate, and I couldn’t figure out where it was going. I thought I’d read something about it on the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (an awesome organization), but I couldn’t remember. Was it going to lead to Penn Park? South Street? The Moon? Nowhere? My hope was Penn Park (although the Moon would also have been nice), and it would eventually be a lovely bicycle/pedestrian bridge (preferably one designed so I did NOT have to walk my bicycle on it!) going straight from the path to Penn Park, flowing nicely right toward the building I work in so that I’d hardly have to cross a single street in my 10 mile bike commute! But that would have been much too good to be true, and of course it was. In fact, the bridge is designed to help pedestrians cross the train tracks on the east side of the river to connect the path to the park.

It is a much desired improvement for many, for sure, but I’m still waiting for that magic bridge that will get me from the path to my building in West Philly without having to deal with traffic! With the construction near the 30th St. train station and old post office, riding a bicycle in that area, particularly heading east on Chestnut St., between 30th and Schuylkill Ave (where they’ve completely obliterated the bike lane!) is pretty treacherous. The South Street Bridge green bike lanes are nice, but there still isn’t a simple and easy way to get to that bridge from the SR path. Maybe this Schuylkill River Parks Connector bridge will help. We’ll see in the fall of 2012! Stay tuned (and hooray for TIGER grants!)…

A couple fun asides:

Some fun facts and figures for those of us who love bicycle commuting (especially here in Philly): http://www.bicyclecoalition.org/resources/stats

(And hey, look at that! I am part of the 1%! OK, so it is 1.2 %. That is, the 1.2% of workers (in 2006) in Philadelphia who biked to work as their primary mode of transportation.)

Oh, and here is more great Philly cycling news: http://articles.philly.com/2011-10-21/news/30305487_1_schuylkill-river-trail-trail-system-high-line

That’s so dangerous!

Our perception of danger is not always very accurate.   Most people, my irrational self included,  fully aware of the danger of cars and the relative safety of air travel, will jump in fright in turbulence but hardly notice going over a bump in the road. There are plenty of things I am scared of that are not likely to happen, and plenty of things I put out of my mind and do anyway because I have to or want to.  But when it comes to riding my bicycle to work, I will admit that I am always surprised by how dangerous others perceive this activity.  I would understand if I were commuting on busy streets, but I am not (most is on trails).

Is bicycling dangerous?  Absolutely.  So is walking across the street and driving…especially driving, and especially on Kelly Drive.   In the years that I’ve commuted to work by bicycle I have seen only one or two bicycle accidents on the trail, and the cyclists were always able to ride away with barely a scrape.  But in these same few years, I have seen the remnants of four fatal or near fatal car crashes, all along Kelly Dr.  The last one was yesterday.  A car went into the river, and the driver is still missing.  Read more here.  My heart aches for her and her family.

On my commute home around 5pm, I passed the spot she went over the wall and into the river. There was a crowd of reporters, rescue workers and observers:

Rescue workers looking for the driver

The crowd surrounding the site of the accident

Sadly, the rescue workers were still there this morning on my way in. (Edited to add: As of 6:10pm tonight when I rode by on my way home, they still had not found the body.)

So, while I don’t know what the chances are of being hit on the trail  by one of these out of control cars headed for the river,  I feel safer on a bicycle along a trail than I do in a car.  If you’ve heard about a fatal bicycle crash, you’re likely about to scream at me, “But I know this…”  Yes, I know of people who have died or been terribly injured riding their bicycle.  I know it is dangerous.  But no mode of transportation is 100% safe, and whether it is an accurate perception or not, I feel safest and, perhaps even more importantly, happiest on the trail.

As a parting note, please cycle and drive safely.

Alerts and musings from mid-September

What a gorgeous, drizzly day biking along the Schuylkill.  I personally love these rainy days.  The path is relatively free of traffic, and the ride feels more like an adventure than a commute.  It is now slightly less of an obstacle course, though, because the trees that were down across the Lincoln Drive trail have been cleared.  And while I do like adventure, hauling my bike over trees when I’m in a hurry can get annoying.

And while I do mean this blog to be encouraging others to ride their bikes to work, here’s yet another downside to biking to work: I didn’t know my polka-dot bra would show through my shirt, until I put it all on at work, five minutes before my first meeting.  Sigh.