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Bicycling Mysteries Unveiled – Traffic Lights July 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — happystitches @ 10:42

I’ve just reached the 21,000 km mark on my road bike! It has taken me many years, but never mind that, it’s a lot of good food eaten (and calories burned) and about 1050 hours spent in the saddle.

21000 km recliner

At last, on this morning’s ride, my legs finally stopped feeling like bendy drinking straws. Every winter the hills get bigger, only to shrink again in the summer, and it takes a period of regular riding to toughen the butt and get the legs sorted out!

Over the years I’ve been passed by multitudes of kind and considerate truckers and motorists: to you I send my heartfelt thanks! There is no easy way to show one’s appreciation once having been safely passed, other than by some gesture that could be misinterpreted, but believe me, good vibes are being sent to you.

Being on a bike gives one time to think about all sorts of things. On this morning’s ride, after nearly rear-ending a car and almost coming off my bike in a skid to avoid the collision (the driver had performed a right-turn-on-red in front of me as I was going straight on a green light, and he had either not seen me at all –  with the colours I wear??  –  or grossly underestimated my speed), I fell once again to contemplating the variety of ways bicycles perplex drivers. I thought I might try to explain some of the apparently bizarre actions of cyclists in the next few blogs.

Andean Vest front detail

Let’s begin with traffic lights. More and more local traffic lights are sensitive to a couple of tons of steel waiting in the lane, and only the presence of the car will trigger the lights to change to green. However, a bike is just not weighty enough, even if you have one made of heavy steel tubing! A cyclist can end up standing in the lane for a very long time. For this reason, in the absence of any vehicles, I often unclip my feet from the pedals, nip over (with my bike – it doesn’t stand up on its own very well) to the pedestrian crossing controls, press them and dash hastily back and remount the bike. Should I be observed in the act, it would look very strange and confusing – is the cyclist acting as vehicle or a pedestrian?
Another issue along this line is that, as I am standing in the lane hopefully awaiting the arrival of a car to trigger the light, a motorist comes along but is often wonderfully polite and remains too far back to instigate the signal. Now it’s a dilemma for me: to beckon the car forward is tempting but very open to misinterpretation. We’d both like the light to change, and as a cyclist I have no wish to antagonize a motorist with a missed light. So I try to pull as far forward in the lane as I safely can in order to entice the car far enough forward to trigger the traffic sensors.

Enough of this contemplation – the sun is shining, the breeze is light and one more ride is called for before I head off to Oregon and the mighty Sock Summit, after which it’s north to the Yukon for my Adventure Knitting Camp!
Wishing you tailwinds all the way….

#312 Bicycle Socks

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8 Responses to “Bicycling Mysteries Unveiled – Traffic Lights”

  1. Tameson Says:

    I’m glad my town has no stop lights.

  2. mk Says:

    See you at Sock Summit!

  3. Louise Whitehead Says:

    Congrats Lucy on a road well travelled! Have just booked into your Waterloo, Ontario Classes 🙂
    It will be great to see you again. You will remember me from Alaska.
    Louise (and Colin)

  4. Sock Summit awaits! PDX is a very bike-friendly town. We even have little bike triggers for the signals; you just put your wheel over it and it knows you’re there. Good alternative to weighing as much as a car. See you soon!

    • Sock Summit awaits! PDX is a very bike-friendly town. We even have little bike triggers for the signals; you just put your wheel over it and it knows you’re there. Good alternative to weighing as much as a car. See you soon!

      PS: I know you’re probably not bringing your bike. Just wanted to let you know about a cool thing…


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