Tuesday, April 21, 2009

greenway comments

I received several emails from people in dismay at how I could say such a nasty thing about the greenway such as not wanting to ride a bicycle on it, and to even go as far as recommending others do the same.

I'm required to go back a bit. Here goes: I rode the greenway every day back-and-forth for many years, eagerly awaiting each section to open up, sometimes years after planned, to its present ending at the Mississippi. Don't get me wrong, it's a good trail with few intersections involving automobiles. I do find several problems with it, however. First of all, and you can't argue with me here: it's in a ditch. This ditch is largely out of sight and earshot from the public - okay, argue if you must. Secondly and importantly, see all those bridges you ride under? Perfect for dropping and throwing shit on people utilizing said greenway. I'm not alone here, but I've had all sorts of foreign objects dropped and thrown on me while on the greenway: glass and plastic bottles, rocks, spit, a piece of firewood, etc. This is not counting the objects I've seen laying in the pathway that were not directly aimed at me, including: bicycles, a television, an industrial ashtray, countless bottles and cans, concrete chunks (yes, with rebar), bricks, a skateboard, cans of food, you get the idea. Thirdly is the lack of recourse. So someone throws an object at me or in my path, now what? By the time I turn around and up to see who it was, they're already ducked under the bridge railing and running away. Kids will be kids, especially ones with no parental supervision because they're working three jobs to pay the rent. Kids are throwing stuff off the bridges at riders. It's what kids do. Ten years from now you'll have kids throwing shit off the bridges at riders. What's the solution here? If you tell the kids not to throw things on people, they're going to want to do it more. Put the bikes up on Lake St and the cars on the greenway? Sounds like a wonderful idea to me.

Let's not go into the physical assaults that have occured on the path, largely but not exclusively after dark. There are lots of dark places for people to hang out and wait for a lone biker - I've been there and was lucky enough to avoid it, it sucks.

So for all the times I've been harassed riding on roads, most of it is verbal, which is pretty easy for me to shrug off. There was that one time I ended up with a bloody and swollen face for a few days after an encounter by a group of young men on Franklin, but that so far was a one time deal. Okay, I had a carload of asshats hit me in the face with something hard thrown out of their window on the west bank, so that's twice. Well, there have been a few other minor altercations in there as well, like the car that ran into me while riding home on King Kamehameha highway, but that was 13-years ago and in a different city and state altogether so I don't even think that counts.

Historically though, and this is over 20+ years of riding on the roads, I've experienced a higher Mark-jacking per mile on the greenway than on the roadways. On top of that, I don't feel comfortable riding on the greenway - what with the possibility of something hitting the back of my head, the twenty-dozen recumbents with their waving safety flags, and the jackholes walking out of the bike shop on the midtown commons not taking the time to look before they dumbly walk across the path. Yeah, I said jackhole.

Either way, don't distract any of this from your riding, and on any path or road you feel comfortable with; I'll do the same. We all ride at our own risk, path or road. Oh, and make sure to wear your helmet, any style is fine.

That's all for now.

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