Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bikes, trains and automobiles

Really, this post should be Planes, Trains and Automobiles in hommage to Fred's favorite childhood picture book, but bikes are a much greater factor in my life these days...

A lot of cities are bike-friendly enough to qualify for the bronze level of the League of American Bicyclists. Fewer reach the silver level, and only a handful get the gold.

Davis, however, needed a category all its own.

Named the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States on Wednesday, Davis is the first and only member of the platinum level.

Davis is recognized for its more than 100 miles of streets with bike lanes, trails and other bicycle routes, thousands of bicycle parking spaces and 25 grade-separated intersections keeping bicycle and motor vehicle traffic apart.

From C.I.C.L.E.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, Davis's motto is "The Most Bicycle Friendly Town in the World." It's really pretty amazing. But... I still sort of miss the bike culture of DC, where things are just a little less civilized and faster-paced. Biking is incredibly safe here, and cars, bikes and pedestrians all have their own places and everyone follows the rules, and the police really will fine you $100+ for not coming to a complete stop (one foot on the ground) at a stop sign, or not using a light at night. In DC, traffic signals play more of an advisory role - you can choose to ignore them at your own risk, and usually get around just fine. Biking here is resigning to a slower, more civilized pace of transportation. It's good for me (and for everyone around me), but I'm struggling to leave my impatience behind and enjoy the journey for what it is.

One delightful thing I discovered this morning is a bike path rotary. We discovered a new little shortcut from our house to downtown, and it includes a rotary for cyclists. Scott says there are even bigger ones on campus. It's really fantastic.


Our apartment is about 100 yards from the train tracks, so the sounds of trains have become a constant in our lives. If you look out through the kitchen windows, through the olive trees, you can see an Amtrak commuter trains or a nice big freight train rumbling past. The freight trains are the noisiest and usually remind me of the scene in The Blues Brothers when Jake and Elwood are in Elwood's apartment by the El tracks, and they can't hold a conversation and the whole place rattles.

Our trains sometimes pause conversation, but so far they haven't rattled anything. We'll have to wait for an earthquake to do that, I think. Our bedroom and office are on the opposite side of the apartment, but the noise still echoes off the surrounding units for us to hear. It's easy to get used to, and I kind of like the sound of train whistles. They remind me of the ships and the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth.


Our little Saab (aka the Panzer) is incredible. It can hold anything. On Friday, we brought a fully constructed futon home in it. We had to tie down the hatch, since it couldn't close all the way, but boy can it hold stuff. The A/C is still broken, but afternoon temperatures are coming down, so we probably won't need it much until next summer. On my list of things to do today: add an Ultimate Players Organization bumper sticker. It's already got Fred's and Margo's stickers, so now it's our turn to brand it. I found a nice round red one that says "Play Ultimate" and has an image of a layout d. I've also got one from a long-ago Wellesley fundraiser that reads "Ultimate: Because everyone could use a good huck." Not sure which one to pick, so I might have to apply both...

Also, I got fitted for a contact yesterday (yep, just my right eye needs it), and my cute Calvin Klein tortoiseshell glasses will be arriving soon, so my ability to read street signs will soon be much improved!!

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