Friday, March 5, 2010

Psst. Here's the Skinny...

I like 'em skinny, them lanes. So here's the skinny on that: A couple of weeks ago, snow conditions on quieter residential streets were just too difficult for me to manage and still get to work on time. This is not uncommon, so what I do is ride on busier streets that have been "cleared" by the traffic. In this case, however, I chose to take York Street, a busy street that I used to avoid because I had been scared riding on it a few times in the past.

Well, things have changed and I love York Street now, because the lanes are skinny. Skinny lanes make taking the whole lane a no-brainer for me now and there's nothing scary about York Street any more. My memories of York were from a time not so long ago that I always rode on the right edge of the street; never in the gutter, but on the right 2-3 feet from the curb. Here's how I ride York Street now:

Taking the lane like that on any street will get you all kinds of liberating passing clearance from cars. What I like about York, though, is that the lanes are narrow enough that I think way more motorists "get" why I'm doing it. That makes me feel like less of a jerk, so skinny is good.

Now, before anybody starts in on me in the comments, I know full well that I or anybody else who takes the lane is not a jerk, but somebody who is making everything more safe for everyone on the road, whether others know and appreciate it or not. The trouble is that like most people, I generally prefer that others like me. A wrong or misinformed opinion that I am a jerk still counts as some other person thinking I'm a jerk. Call me what you will, I don't like that. Should I care what some-jerk-who-is-definitely-a-jerk-because-he-thinks-I'm-a-jerk-when-I'm-not thinks about me? No. But I do... I think a lot of us do.

Now all of this sensitivity to what strangers think of me rarely adds up to me riding somewhere I know is less safe, especially in the last couple of years, so in terms of safety I'm all good. What York offers is the opportunity to ride safely with less self-perceived jerk factor, which makes the ride even more enjoyable. So that's the skinny on York: skinny is good.

I bet you thought I was done. Not yet! I've also got the skinny on me being made skinny, so here's the skinny on that:

In a comment or post somewhere I recently mentioned that I could stand to lose about 30 lbs, which is true. One of my regular readers and the author of Imagine No cars was kind enough to send me this rendition of a slimmed-down me that you see above. I appreciated his effort and got a laugh out of it for sure, because it reminded me of "Kid" from Kid n' Play; I had to look that up though, because I couldn't remember his name, just his hair. It also reminded me of Mr. T a little bit.

When I decided to write about it, of course I went looking for images of those guys. I was staggered by how similar we really do look, even without the skinny treatment! Check out these good looking fellows... if their skin was just a little more greyish in tone they would be just about as handsome as me!

See? Crazy, right? I know! So, that was the holy-crap-I-look-like-silly-yet-handsome-looking-famous-dudes-of-yesteryear skinny.

I bet you thought I was done. You thought right. Until next time, I remain:

Yer Pal,



Steve A said...

Yep, a multi lane road with narrow lanes and no shoulder. The only thing better is if it also has a school zone and pleasant scenery all around.

Only a real pig gets miffed at a cyclist riding with all those elements in combination.

danc said...

Another Canadian Gold Medal, control the lane! Good work!

Rollz said...

If a Casino, a harness racing track, and a strip bar are pleasant scenery Steve than this street has it all.

Keri said...

+1 for skinny lanes!

jeff said...

I pity the fool...

Doohickie said...

Skinny lanes are good, and really fat outside lanes are good (think "boulevard"). In between... not so much.

Here in Fort Worth, I've taken the lane on streets that have three narrow lanes in each direction that run through busy retail areas (think Hulen and Bryant Irvin if you're familiar with the area; for Steve A, think Rufe Snow). Yes, people think I'm nuts when I do that, but yes, I always get enough room when I drive those areas.


Apertome said...

Very nicely done. I'm still working on getting over that whole thing about caring about jerks thinking I'm a jerk for taking the lane. I'm doing a little better every day, I think. Looks like you've got it down pat.

GreenComotion said...

Any time, I don't take the lane in a narrow lane situation, the autos come too close. Forget about the autos, I even find some less informed "super roadies" that come too close without signaling.

You are doing the right thing, Rantwick! Bravo!!

Peace :)

cafiend said...

Must be nice to have multiple lanes...Here in New England you get one lane each way. More than that would make your taxes go up A BUNCH, and you wouldn't want that, would you?!?!?!

The economy is usually crappy around here. Even when times are good, the money doesn't live here, except for land pimps who make things worse. So we have narrow, twisty roads. You have to work your lane position constantly to accommodate your own interests and the needs of others. This is where you really share the road. The bicyclist has to call the shots because motorists don't know what you need until you tell them. The cyclist has to decide what's fair. Some drivers will disagree, of course. It makes the whole lane-taking thing a more thoughtful process.

Keri said...

Cafiend, good explanation of the give&take workload of narrow 2-lane roads.

RANTWICK said...

Thanks for your comments, everybody!

Cafiend - you're dead right... this is no-brainer stuff compared to negotiating with traffic in a narrow single lane. Jerk factor increases, but it is a necessity.

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