Summary of my position on bicycle helmets

I accidentally concisely summarized my position on bike helmets in a Facebook comment:

It might be a good idea to wear a helmet, but it’s a waste of passion and effort to try to get other people to do it. Spend the effort and breath you would have spent on helmet debates on making it safer to ride.

This actually sums up my position on a lot of debates. Stop wasting your breath with lectures and debates, and go out and make it easier and better for people to do the right thing (or the thing you think is right). And for the record, this applies just as much to anti-helmet people like Colville-Andersen as it does to pro-helmet people, but there are a lot fewer of them.

Why I can’t be arsed to support a cycletrack on SW 12th

True to my blogging history, let’s start with a linguistics digression: “can’t be arsed” is my favorite British phrase. It means “can’t be bothered”, but is somewhat less polite.

I can’t be arsed to support a cycletrack on SW 12th. I can’t really be arsed to oppose it, either, because who wants to oppose bike infrastructure? So I’ve been keeping quiet. But it looks like this debate is heating up and may be worth weighing in on.

Here’s the thing:

Cycletracks are a good facility type for improving cycling safety and comfort when used to protect cycle traffic from heavy or fast-moving motor vehicle traffic and create more space for cycling. But downtown traffic doesn’t move quickly, thanks to signal timing that has a progression speed of 12-16mph.  A person riding downhill can easily keep up with traffic downtown (I’ve ridden from Jefferson to Alder on 6th without even turning a pedal when I hit the lights right), and relatively fit cyclists can keep up on the flats as well. And SW 12th apparently doesn’t have heavy motor vehicle traffic (note the line in the document mentioning “underutilized capacity”), which is one reason this cycletrack is considered a good “demonstration” candidate. Put another way, it’s a good cycletrack candidate because it’s not really necessary.

But if it’s not necessary, why spend money, time, and effort on it? And why is it that one of our criteria for a good cycletrack opportunity — that it not necessitate removal of currently “needed” motor vehicle capacity — almost entails that the facility not be necessary? That implies that we’ll never install cycletracks where they’re most needed, like Broadway between NE 21st and SW Clay. That’s a cycletrack I’d be all over supporting, because the current bike lane is a complete death trap of dooring hazards, right-hooks, regular parking, valet parking, deliveries, taxis, school buses, potholes, and jaywalking pedestrians. Anything for actual dedicated space on Broadway, I would do. You want me to demonstrate outside City Hall at 3pm on a rainy Tuesday for that? I’m there. You want me to wear a clown hat and do a headstand in the mayor’s office? Ask and ye shall receive.* But ask me to support a cycletrack on SW 12th, and I’m all, eh, whatever.

I can think of a few reasons why it’s less silly than it seems:

  • In the future, traffic (both car and bicycle) is expected to increase. At some point, there may be heavier traffic on SW 12th (the PBA apparently thinks that’ll be soon), and people will then appreciate the separated space.
  • Despite the fact that it’s easy to keep up with cars when cycling downtown and so it’s a good place for a shared space model, there is still a population of people who find cycling downtown uncomfortable or scary. These people might be attracted to 12th by a new cycletrack, and feel more comfortable riding downtown. Peter Furth and Roger Geller discussed this at PSU last Friday when Roger asked what level of traffic stress Furth would consider downtown streets to be. The answer (based on the muttering around the room) was unclear, but I would say most of them are LTS 3 (appropriate for the enthused and confident) due to width, occasionally heavy volume (including lots of trucks), and complexity of driving behavior, even though they should be only LTS 2 (appropriate for most adults) based on speeds. Adding a cycletrack would make a downtown street LTS 1 or 2.
  • PBOT needs practice installing cycletracks where turns are allowed before they do a badly-needed project such as a cycletrack on Broadway that’s important to get right. I don’t know if this is true, but it’s a reasonable idea.

I can also think of a few reasons why it’s more silly than it seems:

  • On the other hand of the first argument, if bike traffic increases more than expected, then confining it to a cycletrack could be negative (this is a known issue in places like Copenhagen). Shared space allows bikes to be wherever they need to be.
  • SW 12th isn’t a great through-routing choice, in my opinion (although Ian and the BTA disagree). SW 14th is only two blocks over and has a bike lane that goes all the way through NW. 12th rather peters out around Davis where it becomes a two-way street with lots of stop signs. It also has exposed old trolley tracks in that area, which are hazardous.
  • SW 12th is downhill, which means it’s one of the easier streets for people to keep up with cars on. Installing a cycletrack on an uphill street would provide greater value.
  • It’s time to move past demonstration projects and get serious about installing cycletracks where we need them — on streets like Burnside, Sandy, and Broadway. Or how about MLK and Grand, or 11th and 12th? Amsterdam and Copenhagen have done it, NYC has done it, DC has done it, and Chicago has done it. Are we really going to screw it up so badly we need to practice first, even with all those lovely examples?

There are also genuine issues worth considering with regard to process and implementation. For example, cycletracks limit mid-block turning movements in ways that neither shared space nor (buffered) bike lane separation would. Mid-block turns are important for business accessibility, especially in areas where riding on the sidewalk is not permitted. This is an area where I think PBA’s concerns could be legitimate, although in my opinion they are probably concerned for the wrong reasons. We know a lot about whether bikes are good for business (yes) but not a lot about how cycletracks affect that, as there aren’t as many businesses along Broadway in the PSU cycletrack segment. N Williams will be using a buffered bike lane treatment, so that won’t help us learn about cycletracks and business accessibility issues either. Or general accessibility issues; at least one advocate I respect has raised questions about this in the past.

PBA also raises questions about evaluation that I think are legitimate if we consider this a demonstration project. The cycletrack and buffered bike lanes were evaluated by researchers at PSU, who came up with some suggested changes to the implementation. But I’m not aware of any changes made as a result of the evaluation, or whether there was a specific set of criteria that, if not met, would trigger changes (either improvement or removal). The buffered lanes have some issues, as Jonathan has documented, and if I were inclined to be opposed to this project (as the PBA apparently is) then I would definitely want to know how to avoid that happening here. As I’m not inclined to oppose it, it still leaves me where I started out: shrugging and saying “Eh, whatever.”

* But all I ever hear is that all that capacity on Broadway is needed, so it’s impossible to do anything. What ever happened to induced demand and disappearing traffic?

Why I’m an Options Ambassador

PBOT’s Transportation Options division is recruiting for new outreach volunteers — Options Ambassadors — for 2012. A few weeks ago Andrew at PBOT asked me if I would be willing to share why I volunteer with Options as part of their recruitment. I think my response is slated for a brochure or email because I couldn’t find it online, but I thought it would be nice to have it available for the future, and for my own purposes in promoting Options’ recruitment!

Here are Andrew’s questions and my responses.

Q. Why did you decide to become an ambassador?

A. I was lucky enough to live in the SmartTrips area when I first moved to Portland in summer 2009. I thought the rides would be a great way to get to know the city and meet some people. I was also looking for ways to use my bicycle advocacy skills in Portland. I enjoyed the rides tremendously, and I really liked how prepared, thoughtful, friendly, and fun the Options team was. I decided if there was any way I could get involved, I wanted to do it. I’ve always really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and encouraging others to ride, so it seemed like a perfect fit. At the last summer ride, I was excited when Timo announced that they would be recruiting for new Ambassadors in April and encouraged me to apply. And the rest is history!

Q. What is your favorite part about being an Ambassador?

A. I really like to help with the bike rides. I am best at encouraging people when I’m riding because my enthusiasm for the ride is contagious — I enjoy exploring new routes and appreciating the wonderful things about Portland (including the summer weather). I also really like helping people learn and get more comfortable with riding in a context where I can talk with them one-on-one for extended periods of time. Finally, I love hearing people’s stories about why they are interested in riding more, and what got them out to the event, and I like to see how they appreciate each other’s company and support. Seeing people enjoy riding and grow in their skills and abilities is what inspires me as an advocate.


I didn’t want to go on too long in my response about how wonderful the Options group is, but it really is a huge part of the reason that I volunteer. Timo and Janis are fantastically cool, funny, enthusiastic, fun, and prepared. On the Autumn Adventure ride in 2009, I was badly under-gloved for the severity of the rain (and probably underdressed in general — it was my first fall in Portland), and Janis lent me some extra gloves with no questions asked. That’s the kind of leader I always appreciate and aspire to be. Every time I assist them I enjoy their company and I learn a lot about how to make riding fun and accessible for everyone. Every year as people rotate out, we need awesome ambassadors to replace them, so if you love to share your knowledge and enthusiasm for riding or walking, please volunteer!

Besides a few hours for training, it’s as much of a time commitment as you want or don’t want it to be. In 2010 I volunteered most weeks, but in 2011 I could only make a few rides in the summer because of my work schedule at SMART Transit. Luckily Timo extended the season with some weekend rides in the fall, and I’m hoping to volunteer more again this summer. I can’t wait for the season to start.

All those big square houses

I was on a bike ride this weekend and we were riding down Salmon St in inner SE, between 23rd and 12th. One of the women on the ride was exclaiming about how beautiful the neighborhood was with “all these big square houses”. I listened to her rhapsodize for a few sentences, thinking how funny it was to hear someone describe the houses that way. I realized that I’ve gotten used to how inner Portland looks, and it no longer seems odd or remarkable to me, although I continue to find it very beautiful.

It also reminded me of a story my dad tells about me as a very small child asking why all the houses in Detroit (where we used to fly in order to drive to Canada to visit my dad’s family) had pointy roofs. My eye was apparently already calibrated to the flat roofs of many New Mexican houses and found the long rows of pointy houses remarkable, just as this woman found Portland’s “big square” houses remarkable coming from Beaverton.

PSU/PBOT Traffic and Transportation Class: Reflection

What I come back to most whenever the subject of my class last fall comes up is how amazing it is that I was able to learn so much information and meet so many significant figures in the Portland transportation scene in just ten short weeks (Oct 1 – Dec 3).

Getting into the class was a bit of a rollercoaster — I learned about the class from BikePortland while I was in the Bay Area over Labor Day weekend, but by the time I got back and organized to apply for the scholarship from the city, the scholarship spaces were exhausted and I was put on the waiting list. Disappointed, I consoled myself by thinking, “No need to rush into things. I’m new here; I’m sure others need the learning more than I do.” But Gavin encouraged me not to give up, and later I learned that it’s not uncommon for a few people to drop out before the class starts. Sure enough, the week before the class started, Scott Cohen, the class liaison, contacted me and asked if I wanted a space that had opened up. Yes, of course!

The class lecture series included Portland’s senior planner, Steve Dotterer; the director of PBOT, Sue Kiehl; officials from Metro and Trimet; Roger Geller, city Bicycle Coordinator; April Bertelson, Pedestrian Coordinator; Marni Glick of Transportation Options (who I also knew from my Sunday Parkways volunteering); Rob Burchfield, city Traffic Engineer; Patrick Sweeney, who headed up the Streetcar System Plan effort; and lectures from our coordinator, Rick Gustafson, a former ED of Trimet and longtime transportation official and consultant in Portland; as well as a special presentation by Gordon Price, Director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. (The presentations, except for Gordon Price’s, are all available on the class website.)

My favorite presentations were Gordon Price, Steve Dotterer, Patrick Sweeney, Roger Geller, and Marni Glick — possibly in that order — for, respectively, a deep and broad look at urban design and transportation, the historical perspective on Portland, a beautiful presentation with impressive evidence of project management and community outreach, bikey awesomeness, and sheer enthusiasm for the job.

Doing a project also turned out to be a really important part of the class. Hearing that it would involve giving a presentation and was optional, I almost backed out. I hate public speaking, and I wasn’t sure I had time for a project. But Rick encouraged us to participate because it would give us a practical grounding in what most of us really wanted to do with our class knowledge — getting transportation projects done in Portland.

I decided to do my project on the interaction between bikes and rails. It’s an issue of personal interest to me, because I live near the streetcar tracks (and the NW Industrial area which has a lot of disused/rarely used tracks) and riding near them makes me nervous. It’s also a well-known issue in Portland and is in the theme of my main area of interest in bike advocacy, bike/transit interactions.

My project ended up being selected for the second session, which would include an outside panel and any members of the public who wanted to attend. I was excited, but also nervous. It was fortunate timing in that the week of the first presentations was very busy for me, and the respite that I got allowed me to put together a much better presentation.

The process of doing the project was somewhat guided by our homework assignments. I started out by doing a lot of web research, and later moved on to documenting particular issues and investigating each proposed solution further, as well as taking pictures of nasty intersections. The part that took me personally the longest to do was to contact someone in the city or other government agency about the issue. There’s no shortage of people to talk to about the streetcar, but I was nervous about calling people. It’s a personal thing, and one that I badly need to get over before I can be serious about being an advocate. I was very impressed when I saw how many people some of my classmates had spoken with, when I didn’t even take advantage of all the leads I got until after class was over. Lesson learned!

The presentations were supposed to only take three minutes, because that’s how long you get to speak at public hearings. It turns out to be a lot harder to give a three-minute presentation than a ten-minute one. Not too many people made the time limit — I’m not sure whether I did, although I practiced hard and trimmed down my presentation until I could give it in that amount of time. My presentation got a very good reception, with particularly kind words from Rick, and is now available, with the rest, on Chris Smith’s Portland Transport blog.

I feel very lucky to have had the class so soon after my arrival in Portland. As I start to get more involved in the Portland transportation scene, having the background has already proven useful. And as Patrick and April, both themselves graduates of the class, reminded us, it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know, presenters and fellow students alike, that may help you get things done in the future.

My project on Portland Transport

I didn’t notice this at the time, but Chris Smith posted our presentations from the December 3rd Traffic and Transportation class session on his blog at Portland Transport.

If you’ve been waiting for me to get my act together, wait no longer — the PDF is available there. A few entries later is David Sweet’s NE Fremont project, which truly was the most impressive in how much he had already accomplished. It was inspiring to me to see how much time and effort he had put in, how many people he had spoken to, and the creativity he used in securing funding.

I’ve been working on a post about my experience in the class, but it needs some cleaning up. I’ll try to get there soon, as a complement to this post.

Other musings on the ‘cyclist’ label

BikePortland this morning pointed to another musing on the ‘cyclist’ label from Streetsblog, which itself links to one from BikeSnob NYC. I like BikeSnob NYC’s definition too: someone who rides a bike when they don’t have to, and owns a floor pump. Though as a commenter points out, if you own a Topeak Road Morph G you don’t really need a floor pump. Oops, did I just out myself as a cyclist?

High-mileage week

I don’t think I’ve had a week with this much mileage since I moved to Portland, since so many of my rides now are in-city rides and I usually only ride a few days a week.

This week, after taking Monday off (horrid weather and luckily I didn’t need the bike), I rode about 10 miles on Tuesday, five miles on Wednesday, seven miles on Thursday, and five on Friday. Saturday I rode another ten. All of those days it rained at least some, although not always on me as I was riding.

Today I rode about 37. The fact that today totally wiped me out is on one level a little disappointing, considering that a day in the range of 35 miles with a chunk of climbing used to be totally do-able without creating that kind of exhaustion (the kind where I just want to climb into bed). One of my favorite long rides in the Bay Area was one I used to do for training that was 34 miles with almost 2000 ft total climbing.

On the other hand, I haven’t been riding much, so the fact that I was able to do today, after a week of regular mileage (37 miles), and still on the tail end of a cold, is pretty good.

My adventures this week were to a friends’ house in NE (~5 miles each way, up the Broadway Bridge and Williams to Dekum); to work and downtown for an appointment (~2 mi each way down to SW Stark and 3rd); to work, PSU, and SE Portland (1, 2, and 4 miles); back from SE Portland and to home (4 miles and 1 mile); to NE to have brunch (6 miles) and then down to SE (4 miles).

Then today, back from SE; downtown, back to SE, and way, way far out to Gresham, then north almost to I-84 (Halsey) and out on the Columbia River Highway to Dabney State Recreation Area. The return trip, we went up Stark, which I had no idea even existed way out there. Eventually in Gresham we picked up the MAX and took a shorter trip back, to the great relief of my tired legs. (The total climbing for today was 1800 ft just for the trip from home to Dabney and back to MAX, so really not too much different from my big old training ride back in the Bay Area.) The weather was chilly but cleared up after noon and the sun coming through the trees by the river was quite beautiful.

A stop at Vanh Hanh Vegetarian Restaurant (SE 82nd & Division, near the MAX Green Line Divison stop) yielded tasty Vietnamese vegetarian food to fuel me for the MAX trip and short ride back home. Yum!

Taking the new MAX Green Line was also fun. I was excited to get off at the new stop on Glisan and just roll up Glisan to get home (switching to Johnson at 14th).

SW Broadway cycletrack impressions

I’ve been curious about the cycletrack on SW Broadway since it opened a few weeks ago, and today I decided to go check it out on my way back from SE.

My impression of it was overall positive. It’s fairly clearly striped, and most of the left-turn boxes seem to be well-placed, although one of the first ones didn’t seem to line up properly with the road it was turning onto. It’s nice to be out of the flow of traffic a bit, especially going uphill like that, although as someone who’s accustomed to being in traffic I also found it kind of weird and disorienting.

However, the placement of signals isn’t ideal. The traffic signals are primarily over “in traffic”, where the cars are. It would be helpful to cyclists, who no longer have the cue of “oh, people next to me are stopping” (because there is an intervening row of parked cars) to have the signals moved closer to the cycletrack, or a new signal installed. Otherwise I predict some clueless red-light running. Though now that I think of it, maybe it doesn’t matter if you run the lights, since all the streets there dead-end into PSU campus. It’s very much like the situation on Evelyn in Mountain View, where the train tracks stop the streets from going through. U-turns or sloppy left turns are the primary danger on Evelyn, but Oregon is a prohibited-unless-permitted state for U-turns.

Although there isn’t noticeable signage warning pedestrians about the cycletrack, I did witness several pedestrians (on a quiet Sunday) clearly looking twice before stepping into it — luckily for me, and possibly for them as well. Still, I would feel more comfortable if the hatch-marked area and the sidewalk included a warning or two.

These are relatively minor quibbles, but I also have two major quibbles. The first was that a car was parked in the cycletrack. Just parked right there. This was also reported by some BikePortland commenters in the linked entry above. Clearly some people are missing the message. Enforcement would be good; possibly better would be having the special green striping throughout the cycletrack. I thought they had done this actually, and was surprised to find they hadn’t. It’s a special facility; why no special paint? This could also serve as the pedestrian warnings I feel would be useful, killing two birds with one stone. Green = bicycle = no parking and watch out.

The second major quibble I had is the beginning of the cycletrack. It starts at an intersection where the rightmost car traffic lane is right-turn only. The intersection has a green-painted bike lane and a bike box, as well as a sign I have become unfortunately familiar with whose meaning is “You’re about to turn across a bike lane, yield to cyclists”, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s really bad design to have through cyclists to the right of a right turn lane, especially right where a cycletrack starts so that most cyclists are almost certain to be going through and the area clearly has heavy bike traffic.

I have a feeling that I have a particular dislike for this configuration that doesn’t afflict PBOT’s bike facility designers, because this setup drives me nuts in two other locations I frequent: the approach to the Broadway bridge where Broadway crosses I-5, and the exit from the Hawthorne Bridge to city streets in SE Portland (actually an exit lane vs. a right-turn-only lane, but it’s the same basic problem). It may be because I’m accustomed to setups where the bike lane generally jogs to the left before the intersection, or where the bike lane is dotted to indicate that traffic should be mixing according to destination direction instead of by speed or vehicle type (vehicular cycling behavior). I just don’t believe that you can make cyclists safe in this situation by painting the road. Right hook situations are dangerous and in my experience are best managed by good merging behavior, not by paint and faith.

But aside from those major quibbles, this is an interesting facility and I look forward to seeing how it works and how it evolves.

I’m planning to send my written comments to PBOT through the PortlandOnline system, which took me a while to figure out how to do, but you can also call them at 503-823-CYCL.

More adventurous than anticipated

This morning I went on the Portland ByCycle Autumn Adventure to Vancouver and back via the two I-Bridges.

In a previous entry I described the ByCycle rides thus:

These rides are awesome. They start after work and end before dark, are hosted by incredibly friendly and knowledgeable city staff, and explore Portland’s bicycle infrastructure and nifty places.

This was a special ride, happening on the weekend rather than after work, and longer than the after-work rides: 25 miles rather than 5-10. Since it says 25 miles right on the description, and I knew perfectly well it was four or five miles from my apartment to the starting point, you’d think I’d be pretty clear that it was going to be a longish ride. But somehow I wasn’t: I kept thinking 20 miles, because it says 2 hours and the usual PBC pace is ~10mph.

Furthermore, yesterday in Portland it was in the eighties and sunny — a perfect, warm, late summer day. But today proved true to the “Autumn” epithet of the ride. Even now at 3:30, it’s only 68 degrees. This morning it was 58, and raining. I also somehow had a hard time believing it was really going to be wet and yucky out there, even though it said so clearly in the forecast.

So my brain was not really ready, and the adventure was more adventurous than I anticipated. I was wearing long shorts and a short sleeve jersey and jacket, and my summer gloves. My jacket was soaked through before I even arrived at Peninsula park, although I was doing fine staying warm. But after we started out at the group’s slower pace, in a continuing rain, and headed out toward the Columbia river with its associated wind, I got colder and colder, and my left thumb actually went numb — I couldn’t feel it properly when I rubbed against it. It became clear that I should have been wearing leggings and fall/winter gloves, and possibly arm-warmers as well. (My legs were warm enough, but most likely keeping them warm made it hard to make enough heat to keep my immobile hands warm.)

Fortunately, one of the wonderful Transportation Options staff managing the ride, Janice, lent me a pair of winter gloves that she wasn’t wearing. I was infinitely grateful for these as we went up the I-205 path: a bike path sandwiched in between two four-lane freeway segments. The path itself was like a normal bike path (blocked off with a low fence, two-way and about 5 feet wide in each direction) but was very, very wet, and very, very loud: probably one of single the least pleasant cycling experiences I’ve ever had. I felt deaf and headachy for a while afterward.

After we got over to Vancouver, it stopped raining for the most part, and with the gloves I felt more comfortable and enjoyed the paths we took along the river. Unfortunately, one person broke a chain, and then another later took a spill on some diagonal railroad tracks. I was very impressed with how well the staff handled everything — they were totally calm and cheerful about it. I was able to offer some band-aids that I often bring with me on rides (though no neosporin; it was in the cabinet at home).

On the way back, it finally cleared up and I was mostly dry (except for my poor sopping wet gloves, socks and shoes) by the time I got back. As the Ecotrust Hot Lips Pizza was on my route back, I decided to stop there and dry out and feed myself. Yum.

The whole ride was quite fascinating even aside from the weather. The first section was through low-traffic streets in North Portland, and then in an area west of the airport that seemed like it was almost in a different city/decade — quiet, semi-rural roads and houses. Very nifty. Then Marine Drive and the Marine Drive path to the airport and the I-205 path — a narrow bike lane, and a nice wide multi-use path, but very wet and windy.

The approach to the 205 path was quite well signed and designed — the street crossing of Marine Drive wasn’t signalized, but it was signed, with a light-activating button, and junctions were fairly clearly marked. Getting off on the other side was the same way — the path came down, veered left, and abruptly we were in a quiet neighborhood full of trees, then on a quiet street.

The paths on the Vancouver waterfront were impressive, wide and smooth, with new condos behind them and lots of trees, bushes, and other plant life. We went through several parks and saw lots of signs for the path showing that a lot of effort was recently put into it to revive the waterfront area.

The I-5 path was a totally different story. Although plenty of signs (similar to Portland’s green bike route signs, with distances and directions) directed us there, once we reached it we had to cross the street in a random and nearly unmarked spot. The path itself is set to one side of the bridge, and is one-way on that side (I assume there’s another side but didn’t see it). It’s a shared bike/ped path that is not even wide enough for a bike to pass a pedestrian unless the pedestrian ducks to one side when a pillar isn’t in the way. Still, the experience was less inherently unpleasant than the 205 path (quieter, because you’re to one side and have some steel supports between), and the bridge itself is certainly more attractive — like the Hawthorne Bridge on crack, kinda. (I can’t believe anyone wants to replace it with a 12-lane monstrosity, but that’s another story. ) But when you get to the other side, the access is TERRIBLE. Words are inadequate to convey its TERRIBLENESS. You have to get off the path, go around in a confusing way, cross the street a few times, ride on the sidewalk, cross the street again, and finally you’re on a path, which then curves around confusingly again. I have no idea where we were, and I’m so glad that I did it with a group led by someone who knew the way.

The fact that it’s so completely easy to take I-5 in a car to Vancouver (I’ve never done it but I can tell you how to do it from my place) and so completely confusing to navigate and/or unpleasant to do it on a bike is a classic example of how our transportation system is set up to encourage driving. It’s easy to drive; on a bike, it takes dedication to navigate and a certain amount of chutzpah to deal with the unpleasant noise and limited facilities on offer.

The freeway-crossings part of this was sufficiently educational that I’m glad I went, even if I did get wet and cold. I do like riding in the rain — I just don’t like doing so at 10mph when I’m underdressed. Can I suggest an optional, but planned, mid-route coffee break next time?