Friday, December 3, 2010


Sharrows are those chevron shapes you see on streets sometimes that indicate that car drivers should be ready for bikes in the lane. It's an explicit direction to cars to share the lane. It's a feature I like, although there is a debatable downside since drivers may assume that the absence of sharrows means bikes should not be present. The most prominent example in my neck of the woods is on Dean Keeton St.

My attention was recently directed to a study (an actual! scientific! study - find it here) showing the benefits of installing sharrows, especially in reducing the risk of one of my greatest fears: dooring. Dooring is when a parallel-parked driver opens their door in front of a biker in the "door zone" who is then forced to choose, in a split second, between attempting to stop, hitting the door, or swerving into the lane (there may or may not be a car there, and there's probably not time to check). It's definitely a great way to get the heart pumping and circulate adrenaline.

The best way to avoid being doored is to ride outside the door zone. If you have to ride to the side, take the lane early when there are parallel-parked cars, and watch for tell-tales on parked cars. Brake lights switching off or interior lights turning on are a good sign that the driver-side door is about to open. I also have a habit of looking in the side-view mirror to see whether there is a person in the driver seat. I never assume that person sees me and slow down or give a wide berth in case the door opens.

When a sharrow is installed, a bike rider can have more confidence riding in the lane outside the door zone, and many of these things are not an issue.

Be safe, ride hard.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Where I've been

In case anyone's been wondering why there hasn't been a post in 15 months, here's what happened. I got real busy working on this:

Woo hoo!

Then we went to Mexico to celebrate.

Then I got real busy being a post-doc, still at UT.

Back when I used to blog regularly, it seems I generated most interest on this blog by posting about my Dynamic Crosstown and about bike commuting in Austin, so here's an update:

I still commute almost every day on a bike. My back-and-forths take me about 80-100 km each week. After three years on my Crosstown 7, I've racked up almost 13,000 km (8000 mi). It's still holding together nicely, although I think I'm going to need to replace the shifter and cables and give the rear axle a good cleaning to make the shifting a little more precise. Shifting has been finicky lately. Also, the cranks are a little creaky. They probably need to be greased and tightened. Overall, though, no major complaints.

During the summer, I used the new Capitol Metro Red Line commuter train, because sometimes, it's just too hot to go both ways.

If you're still reading, post a comment to say hi.