Bumpy trails, bleeding heads, boys running with oars, and angry geese…Must be spring!

With the fair-weather crowds, I’ve been riding mostly on the west side of the river. A few more bumps on the trail over there, but when faced with rollerbladers meandering the crowded trails alongside dogs on long leashes and mobs of friends walking side-by-side, I’ll take the bumps. (One can connect to the east side via the East Falls Bridge.) I suppose this will be one up-side when the oppressive heat hits us this summer. We’ll reclaim the trails!

Recent happenings/sightings on the commute include:

A cyclist (on a fold-up) with a bleeding head. She was hit near the Market St Bridge and appeared to be ok, but wow was there a lot of blood. Yikes. Wear helmets and be safe!

A high school crew team running along the trail with oars, yes OARS!, in each hand. What kind of coach sends twenty 16 year-old boys off on an extremely crowded trail to run with giant sticks? I almost stopped to take their picture, but I feared getting whacked in the head.

Poor use of taxpayer dollars example #402,003: A policeman who sits at the Walnut St. entrance to Penn Park periodically in order to tell the occasional cyclist entering to walk their bikes on the nearly deserted ramp to the park.

Angrier than normal geese. Must be mating season. Careful out there!

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The crazy things people do, another alternative while the trail is still closed, and views from the train…

The trouble with nice weather is that it brings out the crowds, and with the crowds come the crazies. Here’s one example: On Tuesday I was biking home from work, enjoying the beautiful weather when I found myself behind two cyclists and a blind corner up ahead. I fell in slowly behind them, waiting for a safe place to pass. When we got around the corner, I saw ahead of them a small child on his bicycle, weaving back and forth haphazardly, and his mother, several steps behind…on her cell phone. On an open trail with few people around? Maybe. But this was not the place for negligent parenting (and yes,  there are good–or at least better…Ok, fine, acceptable?–places for negligent parenting). The three of us on the bikes slowed down almost to a standstill to allow the child and mother to pass. At that point, apparently, there were some words exchanged by the mother and the cyclist in front of me, and the next thing I know I see the mother, still on her cell phone, start yelling obscenities at the cyclist and sticking her foot out repeatedly at her wheel (to kick it? get run over? not sure…). Now, I’m a mother, and I would love to stick up for the mom here. I take my kids on trails a lot, and I have run across some real jerks on bicycles who seem to think that children should be locked up away from all trails. But the cyclist in front of me was certainly not one of them. I can only feel for the child..If only I could force people like that (the mother, I mean) to read my trail etiquette post!

In other exciting news, my bicycle is out of the shop and running great. Thank you so much to the guys at Wisshickon Cyclery I think the improvements have probably cut 5 minutes or so off my commute. See Jane ride. See Jane be happy.

There were a couple days where my bike was in the shop, and I hadn’t yet broken down and pulled out my monster Trek and therefore rode the train. And let me tell you, I do NOT want to go back to commuting by train. In the span of two days I missed the train by a hair and had to call a friend to pick up my kids from school. (Meanwhile, the second train was late.) I was squeezed between two unfriendly men, one who smelled of alcohol and one who insisted on sitting with his knees nearly three feet apart. And, of course, I shelled out nearly $16 for these privileges. I am so grateful that the option to commute by train is there when I need it, but so happy I can usually take advantage of the two wheeled option instead.

The third day without my bicycle was an absolutely gorgeous, beg-to-ride-your-bike kind of day so I pulled out my old Trek Hybrid from 2001. Certainly not the worst bike in the world, but after sitting in the basement neglected for a couple years, and after becoming accustomed to a bicycle that I love, it almost felt tortuous. I don’t know if it was the bike or just my psychological state when on the bike, but I felt like I was riding a beach cruisers while everyone else was on Madones. The only bike I managed to pass was one of those fold-up deals. (Why do people ride those on trails? Aren’t they for riding five blocks from the train to the office?…)

And lastly, should anyone be looking for another alternative while the trail work along Lincoln Drive is going on, to the side of the guard rail along Lincoln Drive there is a narrow but passable path. A bit tough to ride the whole thing without dismounting for those of us with side panniers, but at least it is an alternative.

My husband took this picture on the way home one night. This guardrail is on the northwest side of Lincoln Drive, paralleling the trail that is closed.

 

This alternative may not be there for long, however, as I got an email tonight from WMAN stating:

“Beginning Friday, March 2, a single lane will be closed on southbound Lincoln Drive from Wissahickon Drive to Forbidden Drive.  The closure is needed for the continuing repairs to the supporting retaining wall.

The closures will be scheduled at 9:00 am after the morning rush starting Friday, March 2 and daily through the next two weeks. Advanced warning signs will be placed to channel a single lane of inbound traffic around the work area. During construction, the parking area along southbound Lincoln Drive is closed.”
I’m not sure how having both the trail and the road closed will affect the option next to the guardrail. However, Ken also reports that continuing along Ridge into Manayunk to Henry to the Walnut Lane Bridge is a good alternative. And, of course, one can also turn up Midvale off of Kelly Drive and go through East Falls and Germantown.

Lesson Learned

Thursday evening I was so excited to be riding home in the dark for the first time with my new super bright light (Valentine gift from hubby), the Cygolite Expilion (I love it!) Things couldn’t have been going better. Great weather, very few crazies on the trails…Happily I’m riding along the Lincoln Drive trail, mid-way between Ridge Avenue and Forbidden Drive, when my chain snapped. Ugh. I nearly fell off my bicycle! Since it was pitch black it took me a second to even figure out what happened. (And the first thing my husband wanted to know is if I brought home the chain. Really?) I quickly went from feeling like a super hero to feeling like a scared sitting duck. So, when I get around to writing that “how to be safe on the trails” post, I’ll make sure to add “be sure your chain is in good shape”. Add this one to stuff I should have paid more attention to: When to Replace Your Chain

The good news is that hubby was easily reached by phone and did a rescue pick-up. Bad news is that my bike is in the shop until Wednesday. Since I was so late in replacing my chain, I also need a new rear cassette.

Lesson learned. Take better care of my bicycle!

After I endured a 45 minute lecture/ridicule session from my “real cyclist” brother after this incident, he sent me these fun videos:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/12674956/cycling-explained
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMCkuqL9IcM&feature=youtu.be

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.

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

Where would you rather be?

Where would you rather be?

Well, I think you know where I’d rather be.  Of course, I was on the trail that day, just behind this cyclist when I took the picture and was as happy as could be.  But today, oh nasty today, events of a two-kid-two-parent-two-job family and a dinner meeting got the best of us, and I did not get to ride to work.  And let me tell you, I was grumpy about it.  Not only was the chocolate I ate all day not guilt-free, but while dropping off the kiddos and showing up at work I kept getting “you look nice” comments, which makes me wonder just how terrible I must look on most days.