Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


May is Bike Month!

In the Sacramento region, May is Bike Month! I'm not much of a bike rider, as I don't do it often enough to feel terribly comfortable, but I decided that I'd make the effort this month to bike to work at least 3 times a week and give the scoot a bit of a rest. I pledged to ride a total of 100 miles, and I'm up to 60 already. Woo-hoo!

I have to admit, though, I did swap the bike for the scoot this morning. Today's temperature is supposed to be 100+, which is definitely skirt or dress weather for me, and that just doesn't work so well on a bike, at least not the kind that I have.

One of my primary concerns initially was figuring out what the City codes are for bike riding in terms of streets vs. sidewalks. I've always gotten rather annoyed as a pedestrian when people ride on the sideWALK, as I don't feel it's the appropriate place for cyclists. However, when I looked up the City Code, the language in Title 10.76.010 was rather vague: " person shall ride a bicycle on a sidewalk except within a residence district or where a sidewalk is designated as part of an established bicycle route." And what, exactly, is a "residence district" compared to some other district??? My entire path to work goes along streets that are at least partially residential, so I guess that counts...

Anyway, I interpreted this to mean that riding on the sidewalk is acceptable if there's no other designated bike path or bike lane on the road, but I definitely still adhere to the Code statement that "Pedestrians shall have the right-of-way on sidewalks," so I'm always very alert and often exit the sidewalk to make sure I don't have any ped conflicts. Too bad other cyclists aren't this considerate, as I almost got mowed down by a bike rider on Tuesday morning as I was finishing up my run (I was crossing the street according to the Walk light and a cyclist came zooming around the corner and almost plowed me over - arrgh!).

I've actually really enjoyed the biking more than I expected, despite the horrible helmet head (a small towel and extra tube of hair gel currently have joined the contents of my cube in order to address this issue in the morning). One of the coolest things is that I see more and notice more, since I'm moving more slowly and am very aware of my surroundings.

On Tuesday morning, for example, I saw William B. and Vivian G. (cool Midtown community activists and fans of Sacramento history; I'm not sure they recognized me with a bike helmet and sunglasses when I greeted them, however...) on Q Street just past the Sac Bee offices, and I saw William B. again yesterday afternoon. Yesterday morning as I was riding through the intersection near the Sac Bee, I heard someone call my name and turned to see Mike, one of my running buddies from Fleet Feet, who was on his bike on the way to work (he's a much more frequent biker than I am). And in the afternoon, I saw Mayoral candidate and Midtown Business Association activist Shawn E. near the MARRS building on J Street as I was zigzagging a path to make progress despite the crossing train on 19th Street. I even biked over to Raley Field on Tuesday afternoon to pick up tickets to the River Cats game tomorrow evening.

Biking has definitely increased my sense of community thanks to these personal connections, and I think it's something I'll do more often, though not in the nasty hot summer months that are quickly approaching.


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