2005-04-28

49 years of bicycle commuting

I asked Prof. Bob Burton what he thought of the recent discussion in the Athens Banner-Herald about the viability of commuting by bicycle. He said he hadn't kept up with it but agreed the editorial that started it sounded silly. Basically, the ABH said that commuting by bicycle is impractical and accomodating it is a waste of money. Bob said he has been using a bicycle at the university for 49 years, beginning in his undergraduate days. When he lived in Reed Hall he thought he may have had the only bicycle on campus, and as a reaction to this transportation choice someone put his bicycle in a tree. He got it out somehow. Many mornings I see him riding down Jackson Street on his way to Peabody Hall. Of course, it helps to have your own office to make it easier to store your belongings and change out of your Spandex duds.

2005-04-09

Interagency cooperation, or the battle for campus roads

Transit bus operators usually cut each other some slack. I drive for Campus Transit, and usually I help out Athens Transit and they help me. We let each other out at busy intersections and all that jazz.

Well, an Athens Transit driver was in a hurry today, but I was able to mete out justice immediately -- tit for tat. Tat: I was trying to pull away from the Arch stop into traffic on East Broad Street. There was a solid line of cars driving by, and drivers of cars almost never give a flip about anybody else but their own selves. Along comes an Athens Transit bus, my hope to join the lane. I continue to drift to left, but the bus doesn't slow down, and the driver honks at me. So I have to sit and wait for all the cars behind her. Eventually I get out, and I stop behind that bus on Jackson Street.

Tit: Next we try to leave about the same time. She signals left but has some sort of delay. I move into the lane as she begins to drift to the left and check that lane. I accelerate and drive beside her, not allowing her to pull away. Ordinarily I think it's quite rude to cut off someone in front of you that is signalling to move into the lane you're also going for, but this is tit for tat. Ha!

There are always battles for position on the campus roads. Athens Transit annoys Campus Transit drivers by leaving empty space in the Jackson Street bus bay and stopping far short of ideal locations, making us wait longer to complete our service stops. Of course, I realize that their shorter buses mean they need that room to maneuver out of the bay, and they stop near waiting passengers because they have to go through the front door anyway to go by the fare box instead of having a choice of entering the rear door.

The UGA Visitors Center is particularly devious. They have 14-passenger Goshen Coaches that they use to give tours. These vans are often taking up precious room in bus lanes, and they slow us down while they're giving tours. Sorry, guy, you're not getting to class on time because of this leisurely little tour in front of us.

The UGA Police Department likes to stop cars in annoying places. Courier trucks are always parked with two wheels on a sidewalk and two on the road, dangerously leaning over. Garbage trucks just park in the road, making us flatten down those annoying yellow pedestrian warning signs on the centerline. Coca-Cola trucks pull up halfway on sidewalks and on opposite sides of the road from each other, leaving room for only one vehicle in one direction at a time to go by. Annoying, self-absorbed students stop to pick up their friends on the far side of an intersection, catching the traffic behind them by surprise which blocks everybody in all four directions. Let's not forget that Hartwell Railroad locomotive that goes back and forth across East Campus Road over and over and over -- without a flagman.