Monthly Archives: February 2013

Five Things Drivers Should Know About Cyclists

The other day I had to cross a busy road at a point where there was no light. I needed to turn left but there was a median so I could only go right. I crossed into the left turn lane and stopped to wait for oncoming traffic. Meanwhile, a van pulled up behind me and yelled that I should be using the sidewalk. Sidewalk? I wanted to ask him where this magical sidewalk was that crossed over all this traffic so cars wouldn’t be inconvenienced. I also wanted to ask why he was upset with me when it was oncoming traffic that was stopping both of us. I wrote of a similar incidence in my post, The Ignorant motorist. In that post, a women went out of her way to tell me I should be riding on the sidewalk.

I thought I would come up with a list of five things drivers should know about cyclists. So here it is:

  1. Bike Allowed Use of Full Lane CVC 21202, San F...We own the road – You own the road too. With a few exceptions, we all pay taxes that build and maintain our roads and nobody has an exclusive right to use them based on what type of vehicle they drive.
  2. We help improve your life – For every cyclist on the road, there is one less person that is contributing to environmental pollution. We also help keep gas prices lower by reducing demand. In addition, we are reducing the number of cars on the road, which reduces gridlock. If enough people were encouraged to cycle rather than drive, these benefits would be increased. You would also see the cost of maintaining and building roads come down.
  3. Honking your horn at us does nothing useful – Some people have noble intentions and will honk to let a cyclist know that they are behind them. This won’t change the cyclist behavior except to possibly startle them and cause an accident. Others honk because they are mad about being delayed ten seconds. This just makes the driver look like a jerk.
  4. We don’t want to delay you – Yes, riding a bike is slower than driving. We all know that some drivers are being slightly inconvenienced. Unfortunately, until more cities start putting bike lanes on their streets, that is always going to be a problem.
  5. We are just regular people – Sure, some cyclists are super athletes, but I think most just want to get in shape and enjoy the great outdoors.

I actually don’t expect any non-cyclists to read this but you never know.

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My First Cycling Shoes and Clipless Pedals

Back in october I was at Dunedin Cyclery buying tires and I talked to one of the guys about clipless pedals. I had never used them before so I wanted to learn more. I spoke with Dave, who told me that once I tried them I would never go back. That intrigued me and I wanted to order them right away but Christmas was coming up and I couldn’t be thinking of myself.

The next time we were there my wife bought me a $50 gift card that she gave me for Christmas. Of course, I wanted to apply that toward the shoes and pedals so shortly after Christmas we went back and I tried shoes on but, as usual, it is very difficult to find shoes in my size. I usually wear a size 14 but sometimes I can fit into a 13 if it is very wide, which they never are. This time the largest they had was a size 47, which equals “a little small” in American size. This time I worked with Jim and he told me that a 48 was as big as he could get without having them custom-made, so we ordered that and I hoped they would fit.

I waited weeks for them to arrive and I was starting to think they forgot about me but they finally came in after more than three weeks, perhaps four. To be fair, I was told that they needed to wait for a bigger order to get a better price. I understood and was in no hurry, but I was hoping it was sooner rather than later. I got a call the Monday before last that they were in and I had to wait until that Saturday to pick them up.

This time I saw Dave again and he found the size 48 among all the shoes and to my surprise, they fit. Also to my surprise, they were not the shoes I ordered. I wanted the Diadora Escape 2 because I needed a shoe I could walk in and they seemed like the best choice. I don’t need to walk far but I typically stop at the supermarket on the way to work to get something for lunch and again on the way back to use the washroom (I drink a lot of water at work) and to pick up anything we need at home that will fit in my bag. The shoes I just tried on were definitely not good for walking.

Cycling Shoes

I was starting to worry that I would have to wait another three or four weeks but it turned out there was another pair of size 48 shoes that were overlooked. Fortunately they were mine. Those fit too, which I was very happy about. I then needed to get pedals.

I decided to pay the extra $25 for the Shimano PD-M324  pedals. They are two-way pedals that allow me to ride with my regular shoes if I need to. I paid $85 for the set and just noticed they are $49 at Amazon. Damn. Oh well, that’s what happens when you are learning. I don’t feel too bad though because good customer service has a value of its own. I also got a good deal on the shoes.

Shimano PD-M324

I went for a short ride that Sunday and was amazed at how much easier it was to pedal. I felt like I had been riding with one muscle group tied behind my back all this time. The next day was the real test when I rode to work.  I noticed my cadence was faster than usual with little or no more effort. Everything went very well with a few minor exceptions.

There is a stoplight that I go through that is sensitive to the weight of a car, so naturally when I get to it, my bike does not trip the sensor and I am stuck waiting for a car to come by and turn the light green. Sometimes it is a long wait, so when I turned the corner and saw it was green, I peddled as fast as I could to get through the light but it turned yellow and I had to break quickly. When I did that I nearly fell over because I couldn’t disengage my left foot fast enough. The bike fell over but I was able to get my foot out just in time to save myself. That happened, to a lesser degree, a couple more times before I got used to it.

All in all, I am very happy with my purchase. Now I need to get some cold weather clothing before winter is over.