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Friday, July 3, 2009

All I Want is Smooth Pavement

These pictures were taken on the north end of Wortley Road, between Victor and Askin. This is a tricky area for cyclists that I plan to look at later with a video discussing the difficulties associated with this 2 lane stretch of road. For now though, I want to talk about pavement.

  There is much discussion of bicycle infrastructure out there these days. Lots of people are supportive of separate bicycle facilities, whether they be painted bike lanes or elaborate divided lane systems with their own signal lights, etc.

There are other cyclists who would rather just be treated fairly under the law and by motorists when they ride a bicycle just as they would a motorcycle; they are typically referred to as vehicular cyclists. Although I'm not a 100% VC kind of rider, I like that approach better.

If the bicycle advocacy role were mine alone to play, I would ask for just one thing. Smoother pavement. If governments and city planners could provide me with smooth pavement, or even substantially better pavement, I would be content. If a road seems too narrow to be safely passed on, so be it. I will adjust my lane position. Just give me smooth pavement. If downtown traffic flow is confusing, pedestrians are frequently in my way or parking layout creates lots of door zones, that's OK. I will deal. Just give me smooth pavement. If there aren't many good places for me to lock up my bike, that's alright. I'll find a spot somewhere. Just give me smooth pavement. If you want to ticket me for riding through a stop sign, that's fine, just remember to also ticket sidewalk riders, and, of course, give me smooth pavement. If you want to legislate me into wearing a helmet, go for it, I already wear one anyway. Just give me smooth pavement. I could go on forever, but I think you get my drift.

helmet laws, bike racks on buses, sidepaths, bike monuments, big new bike racks,

bike blogs, 3' passing laws, bike boxes,

Other people care about these things. I'm not saying they shouldn't; some of these things are good ideas. All I'm saying is that if it were up to me, I would trade them all for smooth streets. Just give me smooth pavement, and I'll be happy to do the rest regarding my safety and access.
Hang on a second! I wouldn't trade "bike blogs"! That was a mistake, I like them too much! Give me bike blogs! And smooth pavement.

Postscript: If you're riding that bit of Wortley Road, please note that if the crummy road and the crazy cars fail to take you out, there's still the banana peel...


Steve A said...

Amen. What's more, smooth pavement helps our motoring buddies keep the roads swept clear of debris for us!

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%. London (UK) roads are just as bad. And somehow, car drivers don't understand why you have to make a last minute swerve into the middle of the road when coming across a pot-hole.


Rantwick said...

Steve - I knew I would be preaching to the choir for some people. Better swept debris is a nice bonus, alright. Also, this is one thing motorists will happily get behind...

Anon - thanks for your comment! Last minute swerves are definitely bad news. I would rather take the hit from the pothole.

Paul Hastings said...

i've found that urban roads are usually much worse than rural/suburban ones--at least here in thailand.

i suppose i should start cataloging them too.

Keri said...

Amen X2.

Orlando roads are an unfortunate construction consisting of a coating of pavement on the original brick foundation. That is, where they are paved. Most of the quiet streets are brick.

Winter Park actually had paved roads on real foundations, but they ripped them up and replaced them with brick — brutally rough brick, designed to annoy motorists into choosing a different route. They are intolerable for cycling, even with full suspension.

Rantwick said...

Paul - based on nothing scientific, I have the same impression. Perhaps it's that the sheer volume of traffic makes urban streets harder to close and work on.

Keri - Bricks. Well, at least I don't have to deal with those! Y'know, Orlando should take a lesson from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and cover those up again.

Steve A said...

Three points and then I'll shut up on this. I'll go for another ride on my day off today to burn off some enthusiasm.

Re: Anon - "car drivers don't understand why you have to make a last minute swerve into the middle of the road" - If you were riding more towards the middle, you could swerve towards the edge and the motorists would think you were doing them a favor. Notice the "neutrality" towards you lot that ride on the wrong side of the road routinely?

Re: Keri - I'm sad to say that I think Keri's bricks are nastier than mine. Stay tuned to dfwptp for "Killer Bees." (secret extra contest hint). I've got the photos in hand...

Re: Rantwick - Everything is bigger here in Texas. That includes ruts and potholes.

Rantwick said...

Steve A - Thanks for the shoutout on your blog. A Salute from Steve A is a nice Friday kind of thing. You Texans do things big alright... how many links to this post did you stuff into that one?

cafiend said...

Let's not forget that bicyclists started the movement to improve road surfaces that facilitated the development of the automobile. D'Oh!

Rantwick said...


So true! Are you familiar with Mighk, who posts on commute Orlando sometimes?

He has a really nice historical bent and writing style I think you would like.

cafiend said...

I have not run across Mighk yet. I do know from the "innovation" of the mountain bike boom in the 1990s that bicycling's history seems uniquely circular.

ChipSeal said...

Right now, where I live, many of the quieter country lanes are in bad shape. They tend to be windy, rough, chip-sealed and hazardous.

The alternative is State Highway 287, which sports the speed and look of an interstate hwy! A photo can be found here

A devil's choice indeed! (I choose to take the lane on SH 287!)

Rantwick said...


Yeah,I've seen your pictures of the smaller beat up roads you ride on too. I would be afraid to ride in the lane on the bigger road you linked to.

ChipSeal said...

Gee Rantwick, the speeds are similar to the two-lanes, but the sight lines on the State Highway are better and automobile operators have a passing lane to merge into. No sweat!

It just looks scary from the side of the road or through a windshield.

cafiend said...

I forgot to mention I love the banana peel.

Astroluc said...

omg, chipsealing... a cheap and terrible way to resurface a road. In the area I grew up and lived in for more than 30 years has developed a real taste for turning it's lovely rural side-streets that just need a little maintenance into chip sealed nightmares!! It's one reason (among many) I finally moved away.

and Rantwick; some pot-holes are fine but there are more than a few here in Boston that would, at minimum, cause a crash and bike damage; and at most, SEVERE injury or death..! But I do agree, if on a multi-lane road? OWN YOUR LANE!

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