Thursday, September 25, 2008

Track marks

Living in Philadelphia and commuting by bicycle has its perks: bike lanes, slow and predictable traffic patterns, one-way streets wide enough to dodge cars on either side, constant construction that brings cars to a stand-still that bicyclists may still navigate, and incorrigibly confused vehicle operators. Yet as with any major city the dangers often manage to outweigh the pros: ample bicycle lane-drivers, doors opening sans logic or warning, ambivalent taxis, unbridled car-on-bike animosity, cellphone-occupied drivers, iPod-occupied jay-walking pedestrians and joggers, incorrigibly confused motor vehicle and bicycle operators, and lesser-known yet perhaps more unique to this area: trolley tracks.

Before the big three dominated the nation, trolleys and trams frolicked the cityscape freely whisking the public from place to place with infinitely greater charm than their modern replacement: the bus. I'm much too lazy to research on precisely why the trolley/tram system tanked in Philadelphia and in most of North America, but I do know that a few lines still operate here, and Montreal and San Francisco have extensive extant trolley operations.

Where does this leave Philadelphia in regards to public mass transit? I don't care. I ride a bicycle everywhere which affords me the luxury of not filling my brain with useless bus schedules and connecting stops. I use those open braincells to memorize more relevant information, like the length and count of spokes I will need for the white DT Swiss 240S hub/white DT RR1.1 rim wheels I'll be building up soon. (Oh-28 295mm and 28 288 mm {dt revolution black!})

What I do care about is the miles of abandoned tracks strewn about which have an effect not unlike a bear trap to bicycle wheels. They catch the width of rubber and wheel which ejects the rider many feet away in a precarious diagonal line. This has happened to most people I know who live here with stories ranging from margarita/rain debacles, being flug into oncoming traffic, and even breaking stems and handlebars from landing so hard. Just today I fell into the "most people" category by falling into a track, and like Yogi bear I got a little Boo-Boo. Ironically I was not riding with any intensity or vigor (I was going slow), and my dawdling was likely the cause.

I wasn't thrown into traffic or parked cars, but my bartape and pants did suffer casualties. And I take all attacks on the aesthetic vaules of my bicycles very seriously. I automatically declare war on any entity that hinders me from looking really, really good on my bike (only my physical person is allowed to do that). Like Sarah Palin I have zero concrete plans or specific ideas of how I'm going to carry out this war, but I do know that It'll be more like a cold war, consisting of me avoiding 11th street from here on out.