Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lake Champlain

Concerned about roadnet nexuses that challenge cyclists and motorists alike, note infamous Boston intersection of Beacon Street and Massachusetts Avenue, where lots of people get killed and maimed, which typifies such lapses in safety planning. Contributory distractions include confusing controls, lack of shoulders, noise, multiple poorly marked lanes, sudden change from one-way to two-way, and too many signs. Due to bad city planning, certain intersections must distribute traffic in many directions, not just gather feeders into main flow or interrupt straight crosses. This usually happens because impediments as bays, buildings, railroads, or rivers force all into a single confluence. Businesses huddle together and squeeze highways that support arriving workers. Everyone wants to occupy same space at same time. Long natural barriers with few crossings, like Lake Champlain, create huge detours that cyclists can’t easily tolerate. Awareness of this could lead to new infrastructure (additional bridges, crossing islands, parallel roads, underpasses) to avoid and improve.

Much is made of designating bike lanes, against and for, when they are hardly needed where shoulders exist, except approaches to intersections and within a nexus. Bike lanes for a dozen car lengths right before a crossroad help align all types of traffic. But in a nexus motorists must have heads on a swivel trying to identify the lane that lines up with direction they wish to go. Circulators or rotaries used to be how they kept cars moving and let drivers choose. The best way to keep cyclists safe is construct an alternative route for them alone that completely bypasses worst intersections. This could easily be provided, since bikes can sometimes share sidewalks with pedestrians, especially where foot traffic is light. City cul-de-sacs present opportunities, since motoring is deterred yet alleys and walkways might poke through to areas beyond.

Spent an afternoon trying to go only a few miles through a pathetically designed suburb with both an airport and train terminal, neither of which feature bikeways or racks. Didn’t even try to visit, just meant to skirt. Went though parking lots and wriggled though fences. Explored a vast housing complex with only one entrance; if it had to be quickly evacuated, most would die, which surely suggests bad planning and code violations. Tracked sidewalks where traffic forced cyclists off streets. Buzzed by speed limit breakers, treaded lightly, and turned tightly at corners. Oddly, a bunch of recent films address these issues:

Bicycle (Michael B. Clifford, dir., 2014), retells the story of its boom in development, sport, and transport in England after first invented in France, then government policies in the 1970’s that assumed bicycles would disappear, so neglected to construct and maintain suitable infrastructure. Or, England reacts to a fellow countryman Chris Froome winning Le Tour de France in 2013, a feat he duplicated in 2015. World’s foremost battlefield for cycling glory has become a billboard for corporate sponsors, while riders invite investigations for drug and rule violations. Seems they're reaching status of football, where winning breeds contempt and jealous comments.

Bike vs Cars (Fredrik Gertten, dir., 2015): Bicyclists despise Big Oil rackets that despoil environment and won’t stop riding despite increasing traffic fatalities among them.

Tracers (Daniel Benmayor, dir., 2015) stars Taylor Lautner and Marie Avgeropoulos. Bicycle messenger in debt to violent gangsters is forced to join a crew, who use parkour, acrobatic leaping and running, to pull heists for increasingly bigger payoffs and risks.

Turbo Kid (Fran├žois Simard, Anouk Whissell, dirs., 2015) stars a comic book obsessed scavenger (Munro Chambers) in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, who becomes a reluctant hero after he meets a mystery girl (Laurence Leboeuf). Armed with an ancient turbocharged weapon, The Kid embarks on quest to defeat their nemesis, a sadistic warlord (Michael Ironside), and save girl. Without petroleum, BMXing supplants motoring.

Just out, un®eal (Jones Brothers, dirs., 2015) celebrates beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest where mountain bikes rule and features downhill racer Brandon Semenuk. Increasingly, riders are taking to MTBs to avoid dealing with motorized threats altogether, although wild wooded single track can be tougher to negotiate than pavement with animals, rocks and roots. What about maybe not mythical monsters?

Overlooked older film Zookeeper (Frank Coraci, dir., 2011) has scene with Kevin James racing a tricycle on city streets against a rival bicyclist. Trike is so low that he’s able to squeeze under a tractor trailer to gain advantage, a stunt so stupid that it should’ve been accompanied by a “don’t try this at home” disclaimer. Typical of Happy Madison (Adam Sandler) productions, it appealed to airheads, earned well ($170 million), featured bicycles gratuitously, but got panned by critics. What do they know?

No comments:

Post a Comment