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Posted by on Jun 22, 2009 in General | 25 comments

Nemesis Road

Boy, I’ll bet everybody has one. For some it is Conway Road, but I don’t head south very often so I don’t know about that.

I can ride for miles on Colonial Drive or Mills or Aloma with nary a honk, but when I get on my particular nemesis road I can’t do anything right. For me, my nemesis road is Corrine Drive.

Right from the beginning it was a problem.

When I was learning to move from the right tire track to the left, so that I could smoothly make a left turn, a car overtook me on the right using the empty parking lanes as a passing zone. I didn’t know what to think when that happened.

Then as I was trying to move myself over to the left to make the left turn  and was in the right tire track of the left lane, a car used the “suicide lane” to pass me on the left.  Wow.

I wrote to the CG newsgroup what happened to me that day, but I don’t think anybody believed drivers could be so bad. I could scarcely believe it myself, but I’ve since learned that just the way it is on Corrine Drive.

I’m still watching for a green Dodge pick-up of about 1975-1978 or so vintage who did all sorts of crazy things to me while I was on Virginia. He probably doesn’t know that I used to own a ’75 Dodge of nearly that particular model (mine was heavier)  so I can spot it over a mile a way.

He also doesn’t know how I deal with people like him. For guys like him, I don’t get mad.

25 Comments

  1. Corrine can be annoying. I think it’s the mostly-empty parking lane. But, before I got brave enough to just claim the right lane, I had several motorists buzz me while I was in the parking lane! One came a foot over the line. Now it’s mostly just honking while begrudgingly changing lanes.

    My nemesis road is South Ivanhoe. Motorists pass me on the right there all the time (even happens in my car). The one pass Brian and I made with video there, 2 SUVs did that. With Mighk’s help, we have FDOT working on a solution for it.

  2. “With Mighk’s help, we have FDOT working on a solution for it.”

    That whole thing there is an engineering disaster and has been since the ’60′s. Not just as a safety problem, but when I ride in the back seat telling people how to get off I-4 and how to get on Orange Ave going north, they can’t believe the violent turns and lane changes I want them to make left and right.

    You really need local knowledge there or you end up at the intersection of Michigan and Orange before you begin to suspect you made the wrong turn somewhere.

  3. Yeah, it’s a navigation nightmare — people trying to merge left and right — add to that impatient motorists and the longitudinal cracks between the lanes it’s a perfect storm of anxiety for a cyclist.

    They’re not going to do an real engineering fix, just a resurface. But we’re hoping for lane-width changes and pavement parkings. I’m working on a post about it.

  4. With the whining you hear from me about Westport Parkway in Fort Worth, you might thing that’s my nemesis road. It’s not, it’s just a lousy, horrible road I hate to ride on.

    My nemesis is Glade in Colleyville. It’s not hard to ride, but I think it was deliberately designed to foster the worst possible feelings about cyclists by motorists. Two-lane road divided by a hard median so nobody can pass if you take the lane. Lane not QUITE wide enough to comfortably share. Driveway-crossed bike path off to the right where every motorist can see it – and that you’re NOT using it. The only saving grace is that they ran out of money after just over half a mile of this abomination.

  5. My nemesis road is the road I live off of — Hall Rd.

    It’s 2 lane, narrow, bad sightlines for passing (double yellow almost all the way), high speed (45) and it used as a connector between two large arterial roads (University Blvd. and Aloma Ave.) so it has lots of traffic.

    There is no way I can get down this road without dragging a line of cars behind me. Since passing is difficult and cars are used to going at a higher-than-normal rate of speed for a neighborhood road, there is little toleration for anything going slow.

    I know the City would like to 4-lane Hall Rd., but the neighborhood associations have successfully fought off the attempts to do so, citing concerns about speed levels that already routinely exceed posted limits, as well as increased traffic from 4-laning making neighborhood access less safe.

  6. Andrew, Has anyone proposed a 3 lane with a TWLTL (AKA “chicken lane” – per Rodney :-) )? It makes left-turns in and out of neighborhoods easier and relieves pressure on cyclists because cars can use it to pass.

  7. My nemesis road is Delaney. It’s an often used alternate to S. Orange Ave and has had some traffic calming treatments installed. They work to a degree and I have mixed feelings about them, but cars can roll through the two roundabouts at full speed going north/south. For the small medians placed about every other block, it prevents motorists from being able to pass a cyclist. The result is that the cyclist becomes the traffic calming. A role I really dislike. Give me Robinson street with its four 9.5 foot lanes any day. Hell, I’m more comfortable riding north on S. Orange between Michigan and South street.

    Conversely, my favorite road in my neighborhood is Summerlin, which ironically has similar treatments as Delaney sans roundabouts, but it’s a road less travelled and the travel lanes are a smidge wider.

  8. I would agree with Hall, I ended up switching routes because of that road.

    Now for me, its Hanging Moss Rd. which runs between Semoran and the Little Econ Trail. Its bumpy, used as a cut through, and heavily populated with buses. I get plently of honks and close passes.

  9. Jason wrote:
    “I get plenty of honks and close passes.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    It is so important that cycling be a pleasant experience. What Jason wrote about is not only unpleasant, but a lack of subjective safety. Which, according to a Decima Research poll, is the #1 reason why people don’t cycle more in Toronto. I suspect that the same is true in Orlando.

    Leading one to the conclusion that to increase the cycling mode share in Orlando, it is necessary to make cycling more pleasant with a much higher level of subjective safety, so that the situation Jason describes doesn’t happen.

    Where I live in the Riding of Toronto Centre (downtown Toronto), cycling and walking has a 34% mode share. It took a lot of hard work to get there. Making cycling more pleasant was a vital part of increasing that mode share.

    As David Hembruff writes to one of his correspondents in his blog at:

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2009/04/keep-away-from-fellow-who-owns.html

    “No cyclist has given up anything here. Where there are cycle facilities they are invariably better than the roads. Either more direct if it’s a utilitarian route, or more scenic if it’s a recreational route. No-one wants to be on the road instead if there is a cycle path which offers an improvement in conditions. You can get to more places, more conveniently and through more beautiful countryside by bike than you can by car. Cyclists have significantly gained freedom due to the infrastructure and policies here, not lost it.

    You may not think that conditions are horrible where you are, but you also write on your blog of problems with “a whole bunch of dumb shi!ts who had forgotten how to drive”. I understand what you mean. The same people sometimes featured on my cycle rides when I lived in the UK. However, it doesn’t happen here. Not ever. Perhaps this sort of thing doesn’t seem “horrible” to you and I and other people who like cycling enough to put up with it, but it’s enough to ensure that most people never cycle. And that’s exactly what you see in the US: Most people don’t ever cycle. Here it is very rare to find a non-cyclist.”

  10. The irrelevant links to Hembruff’s website are getting tiresome.

    Note the tag line on this blog:

    Encouragement, Education & Advocacy for Bicycling in the Real World

    Dutch infrastructure is irrelevant to our Real World. Off road cycling networks of transportational value are not going to be built here. Ever. We’ll get a few good corridors like Cady and Econ, but mostly we’ll get short, expensive segments of useless, symbolic crap — glorified sidewalks — diverting money from finding good solutions to real problems. That’s the Real World. Love it or hate it. We have to DEAL with it.

    Hanging moss will eventually be bypassed by a trail connection from Econ to Cady. But in this economy, it will probably be a long time before that happens. In the meantime, I agree that motorist behavior on Hanging Moss is a problem. If we could focus on a way to solve the motorist behavior/attitude problem there, we’d solve it everywhere else in the process… that would be helpful to cyclists on roads that will never be bypassed by trail extensions.

  11. Keri: yes, the 3 lane idea was examined, but really would not address the traffic load issue. It’s not that there are a lot of cars halting traffic by trying to make lefts into neighborhoods. It’s that the volume of cars is so great, especially at rush/school hours, that cars are waiting at lights a long time, and sometimes multiple light cycles (and knowing this, they run reds). And when there has been an accident on Hall (thankfully rarely), it has backed up traffic into both University, Aloma and Howell Branch.

    Jason, if you haven’t been back on Hall in a while, one of the things that used to make Hall even worse was that the sidewalk didn’t even go down the length of the road! But about 2 years ago they finally completed it, and it’s how I get around on Hall now. So yes, everyone can tell me how unsafe riding on a sidewalk is (it’s not if you know where the dangers are coming from and look for them), but I’ll give you the choice and see where you end up riding ….. ;)

  12. I’ve found myself on an at-capacity 2-lane road a few times. It’s not fun. The reality is, a cyclist only redistributes the existing delays… keeping the motorists from reaching the back of the traffic jam a little sooner. But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. Especially since the motorists NEVER have that perspective.

    Andrew, looks like you’re getting your wish today… it’s a frog-strangler, but the temperature has probably dropped 20 degrees. Ooops… that was thunder. YIKES! That one was close. Hey Andrew, need a ride home?

  13. Keri wrote:
    “Dutch infrastructure is irrelevant to our Real World. Off road cycling networks of transportational value are not going to be built here. Ever.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Throughout my life I have heard similar comments about a wide range of situations. A few examples of things I have heard with my own two ears:

    “Treat black people as equal? This is the US South. Jim Crow will never be overthrown. Ever.”

    “Put a man on the moon? Not outside of a science fiction book.”

    “Florida real estate will never go down. You’re crazy to be such a cautious investor. ”

    “General Motors go bankrupt??!! What drugs are you smoking?”

    “A black man be US president? Not in your lifetime.”

    I could give more examples, but I think you get the drift. Everything is impossible to do… until someone does it. To quote Kipling: “There are those who say it can’t be done, and there are those who go ahead and do it.”

    I was a vehicular cyclist in Toronto 30 years ago when it used to be just as car-centric and cycle-hostile as Orlando is today. Everything about “nemesis roads” and indirect route planning that has been written on this blog was just as true here 30 years ago. If I didn’t just love cycling there is no way that I would have done it. It was just too unpleasant with a lack of subjective safety.

    But Canada is a democracy so people here didn’t give up. They organized and fought for change and began the virtuous spiral that I’ve written about previously. As a result, downtown Toronto has a car mode share of 28% and declining fast. Walking and cycling is well over 1/3 mode share.

    Toronto cyclists did not do anything that is impossible for people in Orlando to do. You can do exactly what we did: get organized and start the virtuous circle of cycle improvements.

  14. “Kevin’s comment:
    It is so important that cycling be a pleasant experience. What Jason wrote about is not only unpleasant, but a lack of subjective safety. Which, according to a Decima Research poll, is the #1 reason why people don’t cycle more in Toronto.”

    And if that objection is met, there will be another dozen to take their place.

    Tell me, Kevin, if ideal conditions were met, what would be the mode share of bicycles?

  15. Population Density Comparison

    Orlando: 2,000 per square mile

    Toronto: 10,000 per square mile

    Urban travel mode shift follows population density. Cities with high population density have high ped mode-share, and develop high bike mode-share. Cities with low population densities do not.

    The availability of convenient transit, which can only be supported by high population density, further decrease automobile mode share by making a car “optional”, not mandatory.

    30 years ago, Toronto looked nothing like Orlando.

  16. Kevin’s comment:
    “Treat black people as equal? This is the US South. Jim Crow will never be overthrown. Ever.”

    Isn’t that what Dutch infrastructure is? Separate but “equal.” As John Forester notes, what a majority provides for the minority is never as good as what they provide for themselves.

  17. Kevin said:
    “Treat black people as equal? This is the US South. Jim Crow will never be overthrown. Ever.”

    Racism is a software problem. It requires a software solution—changing attitudes and social norms. The problem with harassment of cyclists is similarly a software problem. It requires changing attitudes about who the roads are for. Real and subjective safety also requires changing attitudes about personal responsibility for driving in a safe and respectable manner. That’s a rallying point we should use, because it’s something that is really necessary for the quality of life in our communities. It affects everyone, no matter their mode of transportation.

    We can’t fix the core social problem with a hardware solution. There are appropriate uses for cycling infrastructure, but improving the belief system regarding cyclists’ use of the roadways is NOT one of them.

  18. ChipSeal asked:
    “Tell me, Kevin, if ideal conditions were met, what would be the mode share of bicycles?”

    Kevin’s answer:
    It obviously depends upon geographic and demograpic factors. For example, the city of Venice, Italy will probably remain car-free with a low bike mode share. On the other hand, the residential communities of Toronto Islands will remain car-free with a very high bike mode share.

    A key demographic factor in Toronto is that a high percentage of households have more than one person working outside of the home. This causes issues with living next to the place of employment, as different members of the household may be employed in different parts of the City.

    Copenhagen is at 55% bicycle mode share, and plans to increase that. Much of Copenhagen has what people in Toronto would consider to be an inferior public transit system; Toronto has a much more developed transit culture.

    For Toronto, I would say that an ideal mode share would be:

    For commuting (allocating multi-mode by distance) -
    Bicycle 35%
    Transit 40%
    Walking 25%

    For all other utility trips -
    Bicycle 40%
    Walking 45%
    Transit 15%

    For Toronto’s current mode share, see:

    http://www3.thestar.com/static/googlemaps/starmaps.html?xml=080830_commuters_walkandbike.xml

  19. P.M. Summer wrote:
    “Urban travel mode shift follows population density.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Not necessarily. The city in the USA with the highest bike mode share is Davis, California. Davis has a very low population density. The major city with the highest population density, Manhattan, historically has had a very low bike mode share – although it has been sharply increasing in recent times.

    Dutch cities like Assen also have very low population densities – and high bike mode shares.

    “30 years ago, Toronto looked nothing like Orlando.”

    What you overlook is the fact that since the current borders of Toronto were set in 1954, Toronto’s population density has increased by 250%. Indeed, the current 20-year Official Plan is to add a million more people to Toronto’s population – and zero new roads for cars. That will have been almost a 400% increase in population density.

    This change is due to people democratically taking hold of their destiny and their future at the land use planning level. There is absolutely nothing in Orlando preventing a similar democratic process also resulting in a 400% increase in population density. My advice: Try it, you’ll like it.

  20. Keri wrote:
    “Racism is a software problem. It requires a software solution—changing attitudes and social norms.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    But that wasn’t how Jim Crow was overthrown in the US South. It was a top-down process of LBJ sending in the US federal Armed Forces to impose desegregation at gunpoint. Wallace was democratically elected by the white people of Alabama on a “segregation forever” platform. Take a look at what he presented to the voters who elected him at:

    http://www.ep.tc/georgewallace/

    Those attitudes were not going to change until the hardware of the US federal Armed Forces came along.

    “Guns are the ultimate hardware solution” – Robert Heinlein.

    Or, to quote LBJ himself,

    “When you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will inevitably follow.”

    Within the environment created by this hardware, software solutions such as education, moral suasion, and the preaching of preachers like the Rev. M.L. King gained traction. And, thank God, we have a more just society today where software solutions did thrive in the environment created by the hardware solution. And racism is socially unacceptable today. Even George Wallace changed his attitude.

    But I feel it fairly safe to predict that all the software solutions in the world would have been ineffective if it were not for the hardware of the US federal Army.

    It is the same with the bicycle. A small contingent of six yellow-shirted die-hard caraholic protestors showed up at the Toronto City Council meeting that voted in the Jarvis Street bike lanes. Although grossly outnumbered by the hundreds of cycle advocates that packed the public galleries, I predict that their attitudes are not going to change.

    What will change is their ability to act on their attitudes. Hardware will ensure that they are going to lose their privileged position on the road – thank God. Within the social space created by that hardware, education and changing attitudes have a chance.

  21. P.M. Summer wrote “The availability of convenient transit, which can only be supported by high population density, further decrease automobile mode share by making a car “optional”, not mandatory.”

    ding ding ding, we have a winner!

  22. Oh Kevin, you are so grasping at straws.

    The government intervention was ENFORCEMENT. That’s a software solution.

    Your solution to the cyclist harassment problem would be analogous to the government having built a totally separate parallel society for African Americans so they never had to interact with Euro-Americans.

    As a follow-on to Steve’s Forester reference, what do you think that separate infrastructure would have looked like? Well, you don’t have to imagine it, there are still vestiges of it everywhere. Because that’s what was being done!

  23. Keri wrote:
    “The government intervention was ENFORCEMENT. That’s a software solution.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    I’m used to enforcement being placed on the hardware side. The difference being in the source of the motivation.

    Is the motivation coming from within the human person? Things like education, moral suasion, preaching, etc. all seek to change the internal motivation of a human being.

    Or is the motivation imposed by an external constraint preventing the behaviour? Such constraints or barriers range from concrete to a man with a gun.

    To quote Robert Heinlein, “Guns are the ultimate hardware solution.”

    Or to quote Eric Flint, one of whose fictional characters said:

    “It’s simply a myth that social attitudes are so deeply rooted that they’ll last for generations under any circumstances. And the reason it’s a myth is because attitudes in the abstract require actions in the concrete in order to remain solid and well-entrenched.

    It’s not enough to ‘feel’ or ‘think’ this or that bias or prejudice. To keep those biases and prejudices solid – give them meat and blood and bone – you have to be able to act on them. And you’ve got to be able to do it frequently and regularily and in the public eye. Destroy the ability to act, and you will – very quickly – see the attitudes crumble and fade away…

    There was a time in America when you could lynch a black man with impunity. And then the time came when if you did so, you would get your ass handed to you. Often enough, by a black man wearing a badge and carrying a gun.

    It’s amazing, Francisco, how quickly ‘deeply ingrained attitudes’ will change – when the consequences of not changing are so immediate and obvious…”

    I agree with Eric Flint. This is precisely how effective bicycle advocacy works. By imposing external environmental constraints upon our roads and transport systems. It could be a concrete barrier or a man with a gun – motorist behaviour will be forcibly changed.

    You can call it hardware, or external constraints, or forcibly imposing our will upon social deviants, or reclaiming cities for people not cars, or whatever you want to call it. It remains the same: the physical prevention of bad behaviour by changing the external environment.

    This new environment then provides a framework in which education, moral suasion, preaching and the other elements of soft power can go to work. Today, we’re seeing the battle of soft vs. hard power on the streets of Tehran. It is time to bring the same fight to the streets of Orlando.

  24. “Today, we’re seeing the battle of soft vs. hard power on the streets of Tehran. It is time to bring the same fight to the streets of Orlando.”

    What ARE you talking about?

    These circular arguments are getting tiresome. And, in case you haven’t noticed, nobody’s buying them. Move on.

  25. Pfffft! If it wasn’t enough of a stretch to compare harassment of cyclists to the struggles of black people for equality in the South, now we’re on to Tehran!

    If it was that bad here, I wouldn’t ride a bike at all. It is, after all, a CHOICE.