Back in the Saddle Again

When I switched jobs last month, it wasn't like heading into unfamiliar territory. By that, I mean to say that I'm now back working for the government department that I had done some work for in tha past (five years ago, to be precise). A lot of things were the same: many of the people I'd be working with, the building I'd be working in, and most importantly for the purpose of this entry, my mode of transporation for my daily commute.
There were to be no more leisurely and healthy 30-minute walks to work. Walking to work would now take me close to an hour, something that I just can't fit into my morning routine. One key fixture in my new commute is having to cross "the bridge" (strangely enough, in this town, "the bridge" refers to either of the two bridges which span the harbour). Another is that I have gone back to biking to work. Previously, biking to work would turn my 30-minute walk in the mornings into a 10-minute sprint, which wasn't overly enjoyable excepf for the laughing-at-cars-stuck-in-traffic part. What I forgot, however, was that coming home from the other side of the bridge is nearly all uphill (including the bridge, for those of you who think bridges have to start and end at the same elevation). Also forgotten was the ridiculous ramp for getting on and off one side of the bridge, forcing cyclists to go a block downhill past where vehicular traffic gets onto the bridge, and then making them ride up a circular on-ramp with about a 30 degree grade. The other side of the bridge is an easy transition to a short sidewalk and bang!, Bob's your uncle, you're back on the mean streets.
I'm certain Jason knows all about this and it probably drives him as mad as it does other cyclists, which is why the City has struck a committee (a surefire plan of action!) to look into rejigging the bridge-ramp configuration for bicycles so that it's somewhat less torturous. What amazes me is that five years ago this bothered me to no end, but when I changed jobs and no longer had to cross the bridge on self-propelled wheels, I all but forgot about the issue. Now that I'm back on two wheels, my ire has shot back up to where it was when I last left it. It's as though three weeks of that inconvenience gives me the right to complain as much as, if not more than other cyclists. Does that sound crazy? No? Then read on.
During Earth Week, there was a pancake breakfast hosted for cyclists on the "convenient" side of the bridge (which would have made for great blog fodder had there actually been pancakes involved instead of a large, cold industrial griddle and a sheepish looking volunteer with no spatula). The cyclists who stopped by enjoyed some fairly good coffee, but no cream or milk... preparation much?) and some chit-chat, but apparently I was the only one vocalizing my miffdom with the bridge approach on the one side. Perhaps the others were in better shape, or had just accepted that the battle against such silliness in urban planning was futile. When I mentioned there were some options being considered to ameliorate that situation, they seemed pleased enough. It just seemed so silly to me that when the bike lane was being considered, only one street-connection to the bridge was planned for.
Y'see, one side of the three lane bridge is for cyclists only. The other side is for pedestrian traffic only and ppredictably convenient for those on foot; so much so that once when I accidentally rode my bike on the pedestrian side, I wondered what I ever had to bitch about in the past. When I realised that nothing had changed in five years, I was somewhat disheartened (but not surprised). I was also reprimanded by the Bridge Police and forced to walk my bike the last 50 metres of the sidewalk to the road.
I guess I should be happy that some progress has been made to ease my daily commute -- at least until we move -- and I have the added benefit of getting a slightly better workout on the way home as compared to the way to work. But gosh darnit, it's so fun to complain. Maybe I've been an environmentalist for too long?
Speaking of which. Here's the Green Team Tip of the Day, taken from the departmental website:
You could take a shower every day with the water you might waste letting the tap run while you brush your teeth and shave.
Who knew?
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go think about fun bike accessories (I mean, essentials! ESSENTIALS!) to enhance my commute. I think in light of Tropical Storm Alberto's arrival I should consider a front fender / splashguard. Yesterday I arrived at work, got changed, logged in at my work station, and when I went to wash my hands in the restroom, I noticed a number of black specks on my face. Gotta love the road remnants.

Posted bythemikestand at 10:41 AM  

5 stepped up to the mike:

Sassy said... 2:04 PM, June 15, 2006  

I am quite possibly the worst bicycle rider ever...i'm so out of shape.

But I can relate to looking lovely by the time you get to work. Usually i'm sweaty and my hair's a mess...so I feel ya.

Jessica said... 3:05 PM, June 15, 2006  

My husband and I just bought bicycles - we're loving them!

Big Daddy said... 3:42 PM, June 15, 2006  

What if you brush your teeth while in the shower?

sween said... 10:13 AM, June 16, 2006  

DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THE BRIDGE DESIGN.

DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED.

Steph said... 12:37 AM, July 30, 2006  

HEY! - you bike to work too!

That ramp is really nasty. While I don't bike over it every day, I have to admit that when I do cross the bridge, I look at the ramp as a challenge. That and Pine Street in Dartmouth. Have you biked up Pine Street?

I bike to work in Burnside. Wanna discuss the lack of bike lanes and a safe means of crossing the intersection where Highfield Park Drive meets Burnside Drive? Every morning it's like playing chicken.

A few weeks ago I forgot which order the lights change at the intersection and stupidly pulled out. There was a huge transport truck bearing down on me. Pancake anyone? Human Pancake?

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