A couple weeks back I posted a big tutorial on installing new bike pedals (See How He Uses a Spanner.., Gravy Bread, Aug. 5)—those pedals being Bell Universal Fit Comp Bicycle Pedals, purchased at good ole Walmart. I didn’t honestly expect these pedals to last as long as the previous ones they replaced, which made it very nearly to the three-year mark, three very grueling years. I did, however, expect the new ones to make it for at least one year. Ha! How about 18 big days? That’s right. Catastrophic failure of the right pedal—installed on Aug. 3—occurred the night of Aug.20, on my way home, and this in fairly dangerous traffic. Luckily my foot was able to grip the remaining metal shaft enough to get me over some railroad tracks and out of the way of several cars behind me as we went through a busy intersection. After traffic cleared, I rode back to the spot near the tracks where the pedal had fallen off. Examination later, as shown in these pictures, reveals a complete separation of the middle part from the rest of the pedal. How can something meant for such a serious, grueling endeavor as bike pedaling be so shoddily made? I will be taking this back with the receipt, but without the original packaging (I threw it out) I’m not sure what to expect. I’m more baffled than pissed off. A company is mass manufacturing a product so unsuited and inadequate for its purpose – on the shelves of every Walmart, and that’s a lot of stores with a lot of shitty Bell bike pedals, if indeed, they were made with the same bad plastic or design. Guess I’ll be heading for the bike shop for pedals after all. -EG
Dereliction of Duty By the Louisville Metro Police as Epidemic of Red Light Running Hits University of Louisville Belknap Campus areaJuly 24, 2008
(The image at left is not my own, but grabbed off Flicker. It is similar enough to what I am about to convey and will suffice to illustrate).
A colleague of mine just yesterday noted to me that he’d read a report that traffic accident incidents were way down due to people driving less because of high gas prices. To this I expressed surprise, because my darker side assumed that drivers would compensate for the price trends by ignoring red lights and stop signs, thus raising the odds of accidents. Nothing in my everyday biking experience, though, had provided real evidence of this; people seemed to driving just as well or as badly as always.
This morning, though, my more cynical assumption received validation.
Within the span of a minute, just two blocks apart from one another, I witnessed two blatant runnings of red lights. And I’m not talking about drivers who made it just under the wire as the light changed from yellow to red—I’m talking about lights that had been red for a good several seconds. In the worst case, the second incident, the light had been red for almost 10 seconds. This was the sort of incident where pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers and car passengers who happen to have the right of way, aka. a green light, get killed.
The cyclist in this case was very nearly me.
The first incident happened at Third and Lee where I, safely passing under the yellow at Lee heading south on Third Street noticed in the lane to the far left behind me a large produce type truck barreling down Third with no intention of stopping. Mind you, cars on Lee heading east or west for the light at Third cannot be seen by anyone heading down Third, so someone trying to run the light on Third takes an insanely stupid risk. But this jerkoff, sitting high in his mega-truck would not have been the one killed, and his fucking ass probably knows that. I looked over at him and shook my head vigorously in disgust, but regretted my lack of quick-thinking in failing to look for a brand name or license number or truck code number as he passed. Things like this happen so fast that they stun you in your disbelief.
The second incident was even worse than this. As I was passing east on the green light at Cardinal Boulevard, a white SUV traveling north on Second Street at high rate of speed blatantly ran the red light after it had been red for at least five seconds and maybe as long as ten seconds. I had barely passed under the green when this fucktard whooshes by right behind my back tire; I could feel the wind and the rumble of the asphalt from his vehicle weight right behind me.
The guy was practically out of state by the time I could react in any way, which was to look back at him and mouth out loud, “Oh my fucking God! Another one!”
So was this a case of some SUV driver—angry at the world for his own stupid choice of buying a gas guzzling penis-extender-mobile now getting back at a $4-a-gallon-gas world by thinking he now had the right to obey or disobey whichever traffic laws he chooses?
Or was he just on a cell phone? Or asleep? Or just a fucking jerkoff. I would not be surprised if all four of these applied.
So how is it that I’ve got the traffic situation north of the UofL better covered than our vaunted law enforcement?
(Postscript: One day after I posted this, two innocent little girls with the right of way crossing the street at Floyd and Warnock on the eastern side of the UofL campus were killed by a maniac hit-and-run driver eluding police; just a few blocks from the area referred to in my posting. Fortunately, they caught the motherfucker. I volunteer my services to drive over him…)
Biking to the Hurstbourne Green Office Park in eastern Jefferson County, Louisville, Kentucky, is a common ritual for me at dusk. There are lots of empty parking spaces and fun obstacles to swerve around relatively safely, not to mention the weird Omega Man feeling of being alone among all those abandoned glass box buildings. On the way out of my neighborhood toward the park I heard something grind into my tire. Stopping to rotate and look at the back tire I didn’t see anything, so proceeded on to my destination. Arriving at one of the highest elevations in the office park I was greeting by a spectacular sunset and then, after the sun had set, the subsequent light show of rays lending a pink hue to the clouds’ underbellies. After taking these snaps I found that my back tire was completely flat. Mind you, I had just changed this tire about a month ago. This is about the eighth time in two years that I’ve managed to get a hole in the back inner tube. The culprit this time was a one-inch nail similar to a paneling nail. Trying to take a short cut home through the neighbor’s yard after carrying the bike for about a mile I managed to step into a pile of dog shit, thus necessitating the cleaning of said dog shit off my shoe after changing the tire. On the whole, given the sights I saw and the shots I managed to get, the trouble was worth it. The final shot in this sequence is of the sky this morning at about 7:20 a.m. -EG
It has been awhile since our last Unseen Louisville posting. That our latest entry should be relatively unknown should not be surprising, since it is new, or rather, is a newly monikered way to present a setting that was already there. In a low-lying heavily wooded area adjacent to the ever-growing office sprawl in the Hurstbourne Lane and Ormsby Station Road area of Eastern Jefferson County is a graveled fitness trail cut through some of the last (relatively) untouched deep woods in that part of town. The Forest Green Fitness trail begins at the back edge of a vast parking lot for several new post-modern glass boxes a few hundred yards south of a McDonalds. (Specifically the parcel is bounded to the north by Forest Green Blvd which parallels the slightly more northerly Hurstbourne Lane and to the west by the head of Dorsey Way and to the east by Dorsey Lane). The woods there seem to have been set aside as part of mitigation, I suspect, required by planning and zoning to ensure that some green space remains in the area. I visited the trail this past weekend, and a nice day it was too, as the following pictures will show. On the way there I checked out another bit of unseen Louisville that I only recently discovered—a wide tunnel that passes directly under Hurstbourne Lane adjacent to the McDonalds. I’ve biked through this tunnel several times in the last few weeks without ever encountering one soul there. If you go there, be careful, it gets mighty dark; the lights do not appear to be working. If you bike, be careful not to hit anyone that might pop up while you’re going through there. Use a headlight. The fitness trail to the south is officially closed after dusk, which only makes sense. You probably don’t want to be down there after hours. During the day the dense foliage makes the air noticeably cooler. While I was visiting, a group of kids were sitting at a picnic table in a clearing, resting from doing whatever it is that kids do in the woods. Make sure you have good heavy mountain bike treads if you try to bike the gravel, as it gets fairly thick and loose in spots. The sign at the ‘official’ entrance (although there are several places to enter the trail) says the path is a mile long, but it only seemed to me to be at best a half mile, at least on the parts passable by bike. I know it only took me a couple minutes to bike it from west to east. There are some wooden steps to the east that were impassable by bike, so maybe that constitutes the rest. A walking trip in the future will tell or not. The creek water that runs alongside some of the trail is contaminated by suburban runoff, as several ‘no swimming’ signs note. I ran into at least three spider webs across the path, indication that not too many people walk through here much. Anyway, here are some views of the trail and of some of the office park area surrounding. You’ll notice my old Roadmaster pressed into service in some of these shots; that’s because my regular bike is in the shop for repairs (broken axle; happens to me all the time). Also, at the end of this series is depicted an awesome perfect anvil-shaped cloud that I captured just before it dissipated at dusk. -EG
What you’re looking at here is a foot-and-a-half deep hole on Langdon Drive next to Rolling Hills Plaza (a few steps away from the Dollar Tree) just off Westport Road in eastern Jefferson County (Louisville), Ky. This thing has been inviting car tires and unwary night walkers and bikers to fall into it for months now. It’s been there at least two months without anything being done about it, although I noticed this past weekend that somebody had finally at least put a caution horse with a reflector around it.
Somehow our society has money to waste in Iraq but not enough to fix minor yet potentially dangerous infrastructure problems like these. It’s about priorities, folks.
My bike is creaking and squeaking. I just had the bottom bracket and back axle replaced a few months ago. Surely those weren’t broken again.
Not that they were major expenses. $30 for the bracket (parts and labor) and $25 for the axle (likewise).
In other words, the kinds of repair costs I can live with and gladly pay now that I am sans auto. In auto-land, parallel repairs get into the $500 and up range.
I told Carson Torpey my dilemma and after a second of hesitation as he thought about my scenario, he said, “Bring it in; we’ll give it look.”
Torpey owns the Bardstown Road Bicycle Co. at 1051 Bardstown Road just south of Highland Ave. in Louisville, Ky. (a couple storefronts south of Wild & Woolly Video). The shop was recommended to me by a colleague and I have never gone wrong with their friendly, affordable and good old-fashioned personal service. They are another example of why going local for your service and goods is best.
This is not some paid ad, BTW. In this world of big corporate suck-ass service at every corner, I just wanted to share one place that still does it right.
Torpey, shown here in the pic with my bike, threw my cycle up on some vice-like diagnostic doohickey and repaired my bike in about 2 minutes. Something to do with the pedal and the brakes. I was out the door in less than five. No charge.
I should have taken some snaps of the shop’s beautiful interior showroom and its choice selection of bikes and gear, but I didn’t think of it at the time.
Instead, here are a couple of the exterior.
Not one but two incompetent drivers endangered my life this morning by pulling sudden, illegal maneuvers as I biked south on the painted cycling path down Louisville’s Third St. on my way to work. My Road Hogs page tells the nearly-gory details (offline at present while blog renovation is under way). In the first incident, a driver on my left pulled around and in front of me to make a right hand turn, cutting me off as I headed into an intersection.
In the second case, illustrated here at left, the stupid broad in the auto (on a goddamned cell phone, of course) actually momentarily braked at the stop sign as she was supposed to in order to await passing perpendicular traffic (me—with the right of way—as represented in the little biker icon tooling up the bike path). She pulled out slowly into Third Street and stopped a little more, presumably waiting for me to pass. Then, unable to stand the idea of waiting one more second for me, she suddenly darts out right as I reach the intersection. I had to swerve hard left into the next lane to miss her. Needless to say, if another car had been to my left (like the other guy this morning), I would have been toast. What is it with you inconsiderate assholes?
Thus, I dedicate today’s Rapidshare-linked tunes to you idiots of the infernal machine. The first is Blind Willie McTell’s 1930 recording of “Broke Down Engine Blues.” I hope that all you reckless road menaces—like our poor ole bluesman—find yourselves wailing and moaning that you “ain’t got no driving wheel” anymore. Also, appropo our artist’s sightlessness is the blindspot that auto jockeys have for cyclists. The next tune, “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” comes from the primetime 1937 period of the great Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. It’s a bouncy tune, perfect background for nailing hapless pedestrians, bikers and law-abiding motorists.