Archive for the 'swanston st' Category

Bike stacks hurt.

Last week I had the misfortune of having my first bad bike stack. I’ve had some minor crashes in the past; running into the side of a car that failed to indicate, running into the back of a pedestrian who failed to look before stepping out into those “safe” Copenhagen-style bike lanes, but this was my first major oops-fall-down-scraping-your-helmet-on-the bitumen accident. I must say that it wasn’t much fun either. Now I realise that everyone who rides a bike has fallen off at some point, and that nobody really needs to hear another tale of woe, but seeing as this is my blog, I will continue with my story.

It began as any other day, cycling into the city, then onwards to my place of work. The day way clear and fine. The sun was shining. I had made it to the crossroads where I had managed to photograph the evasive RoboCop Cyclist, and before I knew it, I was heading head first towards the bitumen. I could feel my helmet sliding along the road, and then I came to a stop. Picking myself up, I realised that I had had an accident. Damn it. I suppose I was a little out of it. Picking up my bike I made my way to the footpath with the help of a couple of friendly cyclists who stopped to assist me. Looking at my bike and noticing the buckled front wheel was when I actually became annoyed that I had stacked. Until then it seemed like some kind of wonky surrealist hallucination, but seeing my mangled bike brought me back to reality. Of course after that I noticed my mangled hand. By this time a few nice old ladies had come to my assistance, offering band-aids and antiseptic wipes from their hand bags. This was only minutes since the accident had happened, and I was still foggy headed. I checked my helmet, expecting massive gouges from the road surface, but there was only a minor scratch. If I hadn’t been wearing a hemet, I though, my head would be scraped along Swanston St, and there was no way I could have walked away from the scene.

I sat in front of the great old church on the corner. sorting myself out, mopping up the blood. I figured that it might be best if I went home instead of to work. So I made the appropriate calls, and finally noticed the time. The date was the 9th of the 9th 2009, and by my calculations my accident happened at 9:09! 09/09/09 at 9:09am! Can you believe that? Well, do, because that’s what happened. Somehow the universe had managed to gang up on me, and tilt the earth so only I would lose my balance. That’s what I figure happened, anyway. It’s funny, though, because the other times I have had an incident, I have been able to learn a lesson, adjust my cycling habits and move on, a little bit wiser. This time however, the only thing I have been able to learn is that falling off your bike really hurts, and that skin grows back pretty quickly. Perhaps I can also learn that on days when the numerals in the date are all the same, catch the train.

In other cycling news this week, it seems that there has been another famous bike blitz, this time focusing on cyclists who illegally ride though parks. 100 cyclists have been hit with $250 fine for cycling in parks where bikes are banned. Oh well, I say. To me it’s the same as riding on the footpath, unless it’s a shared path, stick to the road. As usual, whenever the newspaper publishes stories about cycling, a massive debate ensues, usually between motorists and cyclists. This time the battle is being waged between pedestrians and cyclists, each side claiming that they are being hard done by. Give it up, guys. Don’t you realise it is just a ruse by the motorists trying to divide and conquer the non-motorists! Please! When cyclists and pedestrians can no longer commute because they are too busy pulling each others hair out, the motorists have surely won. Don’t let it come to that.

Till next time, ride safe, and wear a helmet!

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The Daily Commute… Photo Gallery.

In the interests of community service, I have decided to put together a little tour of my daily commute. I realise that this may seem excessively interesting, but believe me, it won’t be.

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Here we are at the top of the tour, or stage one of my gruelling three stage commute. The becoming trendy north end of Lygon St. Here we can see that the road is unusually clear. This is because I happened upon a red light which was holding back the hordes of motorists waiting to speed off to the next red light. Also notice that there is no marked bike lane in this section of Lygon St. That fact should help explain why I took no further photos for the next few kilometers, as I was too busy either dodging rear view mirrors or riding in the gutter. Oh the joys.

lygon2
This is the only section of my commute where I use a ‘shared’ bike path. Again this morning it was unusually clear. On any given day there are normally people walking their dogs, sans leash, piling their kid out of their cars with their strollers in the middle of the path, etc. I only use the shared path as a shortcut to the next section of my ride….
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… Which joins the shared bike path with the next on road bike track. Here you will see that I have caught a glimpse of a common sight, the Paddle Footed Weaver. If you look closely you will see the shadow of your intrepid writer, thus proving that I am not a vampire.

weaver

Here is a close up of the Paddle Footed Weaver’s pedaling style. This is a common version of Paddle Footing, where the rider slots the pedals in between the ball of their foot and the clunky heel of their boot. This makes for a winning combination of unpredictability and wobbliness.

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Next we come to a stretch of road with a beautifully wide and bountiful bike lane going south towards the city centre. Unfortunately it is also wide enough for a car to fit down, and there normally are a few in it. Also worth noting is the car park to the left, which north driving motorists enter across the bike path without looking or giving way to cyclists. A treat.

cardigan2

The next section marks our entry in to stage two of the daily commute: entering the CBD. Here you will see a car parked in the bike lane. You will be happy to know that he wasn’t just trying to park, or talking on the phone, he was just there.

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Next we zip past RMIT University, once again encountering an obstruction in the bike path. This is a common sight and we happily cruise around it.

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We now arrive at one of the major intersections in Melbourne. Here cyclists are required to give way to passengers boarding and alighting the trams. Of course this often doesn’t happen as you can see by the cyclist on the right continuing to ride through the stop. The gentleman on the left is walking his bike along in order to continue his commute. I did have a chat to him this morning, and he was very pleasant indeed.

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Now leaving the CBD and onto sage three of the commute. Notice the second cyclist along, who is riding a freewheel singlespeed with no rear brakes and trick pegs. He is successfully combining the aesthetics of fixed wheel culture with the practicality of BMXing, albeit on a much larger and less maneuverable bike.

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Further along St Kilda Road we see that not only the bike lane has been removed, but also the entire left lane, forcing cars and bikes to come together in a touchy feely communal way, not seen since the late 1960s. This section is made more interesting by the entry of busses into the left section of the road, who usually make the cyclists swerve violently in order to not become squashed.

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Another St Kilda Road obstacle, but as this is a garbage truck, I don’t mind that they are in the bike lane. They really have nowhere else to go to do their job. It isn’t their fault that there isn’t enough room for them to unload the bins without blocking the bike lane. They are a bit stinky to pass though.

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Here we are at the next major intersection of my commute. We are in the home stretch now. These lights take an awfully long time to change, and I just missed the lights here by moments. Normally I would take advantage of the time it takes to cycle though the the changes to cycle through the lights, but as you will see, a police vehicle was right at the front of the pack waiting to take off. Just above the nose of the police car you will see the local bike shop whose proprietor got awfully snooty at me when I asked for a chain link to fix my ailing singlespeed chain.

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Almost there now, and as you will notice there has been yet another accident in this intersection. I’m unsure if the accident was caused by people not knowing how to manage the ambulance trying to cross the busy intersection, or if the ambulance was crossing the intersection to attend to this scene. It didn’t seem to be a very serious incident, but one never can tell, unless you are on a bike, in which case any incident is always serious.

I hope you have enjoyed my first foray into the world of photojournalism as much as I have enjoyed bringing it to you.

Ride safe.

Back from the past to the future to the past…

Last week, while commuting to work, I was treated to one of those “I wish I had a camera with me” moments. A magnificently bizarre sight came my way in the form of a very strange cyclist. Initially he wasn’t that bizarre, but as I was able to absorb more and more details, he became more and more fascinating. Initially, his appearance was farily straightforward for a high-tech roadie. He was wearing a full body black lycra suit, with a snug black racing jacket, topped off with an oversized white visored helmet. He did look rather odd, but no odder than many specimens I encounter on a usual day. The thing that caught my attention was his massive boots. They were chunky hiking style boots, but with cleat holding functionality on the sole. Now, I must mention that he was riding a Trek mountain bike. This was the next thing to really catch my attention. I’m not sure which model he was riding, but it seemed to be quite a decent machine. It slowly dawned on me, that it was modified to be a single speed bike, with suspension and a disc brake at the front, and a freewheel singlespeed with V-brakes on the rear. All topped off with road tyres as well. This example of cycling glory was one of the skinniest people I have ever laid my eyes upon, and I have lived with some skinny people, believe me. So with his massive boots and helmet he looked like some kind of futuristic law enforcement officer. Maybe a little something like this…..

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This morning I was treated once again to this amazing sight, and for once, I even had a camera with me, so I can share with you, dear reader, the wonderment that is Future Cop.futurecop_2

You will notice his skinny attire and oversized boots, as well as his oversized helmet. You can almost see the front suspension in this shot, and the singlespeed conversion in the back. Note the road tires. Notice that Future Cop saw a friend of his on the side of the road. This friend had the appearance of some sort of wizard, and was equally as fascinating as Future Cop himself. Note the loaf of bread. Wizards need food too. I was unable to get any more snaps, as the unlikely pair stopped and chatted, while I rode off when the lights changed. It was a happy occasion indeed. I still couldn’t help wonder about the Future Cop rider. Who is he, where is he going, and why? Initially I assumed he actually was from another time, here to show us commuters the way of the future, but I have reconsidered this seeing as he has a friend in this world. I suppose the next obvious assumption would be that the Wizard is from the future as well, and was procuring a loaf of bread to take back to the future so reverse engineer and save the future of humanity. I would therefore assume the Wizard is holding the recipe in his other hand.

Bike Blitz more like Bike Blotz

So the Victorian Police are having ‘Blitz’ on cyclists this week so put an end to the mounting issues of ‘cyclist drama’ and do you know what? There are no cops around. One would assume they would be patrolling Swanston St, as it is the main route for cyclists entering/leaving the CBD, but on three rides during the announced ‘Blitz’ I have seen only two cycle-cops, yesterday morning, sitting by the side of the road having a chat. There was not one on the ride home last night, and none this morning. Perhaps they are patrolling another street, or maybe they are not blitzing during peak hour. Of course yesterday evening there was the usual gaggle of pedestrians crossing against the lights on Flinders St, making the usual weave between rank Taxi’s, illegally parked fruit vans, trams and gung ho cyclists as typical as every other non ‘Blitz’ day. How disappointment. We’ll see how this afternoon holds up.

11th Feb 2009 Afternooon Ride Home

So, everything was fine. made it down St Kilda Rd, narrowly avoiding the copious amounts of cars behaving badly, jutting arses out, turning from ridiculous lanes, the usual. Made it through the city, past the buses and pedestrians desperately trying to get hit by bikes while jaywalking. As I approached the intersection of Swanston and Franklin Streets, I heard some sort of ruckus. Outside the little Gloria Jeans coffee shop opposite from RMIT there were two ladies having an altercation. The younger one, in her 20s I would guess, was screaming and pushing this older lady around. I’d say the older lady was in her mid to late 30s. Anyway, so the younger lady is wearing an apron, evidently she works in the Gloria Jeans cafe, and is screaming at the other women “Don’t you fucking tell me to get fucked!!!” and other pleasantries at the top of her lungs. Upon closer inspection it looked as if the older woman had some kind of milky drink splashed all over the front of her black top. She was trying to back away from the younger woman, repeating things like “I’m going to call the police!” All this was being taken in quite quickly as I and the other cyclists pulled up to a red light at the intersection. The guy in front turned around and was like “What the fuck?” and I was like “It looks like someone is going to be fired today.” then the lights changed and we all sped off up the hill towards Melbourne Uni. All I could do was to use my imagination to fill in the blanks. What had the older woman done to upset the young lady so much. I really need to know.