This week, and for all upcoming Fridays (until I get tired of it), I'm going to try something different. I'm not going to tell you about some long ride that I did and show you a bunch of lovely pictures, or make a bad joke about dead anorexic singers and the weather, or have an interview with boorish fictional ego-maniacal racers.
Instead, I'm going to rant.
I'll try not to whine, since nobody likes a whiner. I'm just going to tell you about something that I think is fouled up, and what I plan to do about it.
Today, I'm going to rant about multi-use trails.
Now, I know what you're thinking: No pictures? But I love to see RandoBoy in spandex. (I understand how you ladies would think that way, but I'm a little alarmed by how many men had that reaction.) Fortunately, a lot of you were instead thinking, "I love multi-use trails. I wish they were everywhere."
Me, too. My problem is not with multi-use trails themselves. I think that they are a great way for people to get out and run or walk or do nice meandering bike rides. If there were multi-use trails everywhere, I think that more people would use these alternative modes of transportation for short trips to school, shopping, and maybe even work.
No, my rant is about how the automotive world seems to think that the availability of a multi-use trail equals the unavailability of any portion of the road along which it runs. Some folks would like to see this as the law, and some municipalities here in southwest Florida have posted signs intimating that it is the law.
It makes me feel like I did when I was 15 and would go to the pool on a hot summer day and the lifeguard would call for "adult swim," meaning that everyone under the age of 16 had to get out of the big pool so that the grown-ups could swim laps. Of course, none of the grown-ups would swim laps, but would instead just keep doing the same old floating around and yakking with one another that they had been doing before. Meanwhile, I'm stuck either roasting in a lounge chair or getting in the kiddie pool with a bunch of five-year-olds who spend half of their time screaming and the other half peeing in the water.
Now, imagine that the cars have declared "permanent adult swim."
There are a lot of multi-use trails that I don't mind getting on. We don't seem to have a strict 15 mph speed limit on them here, and a lot of them are empty enough that I can travel at the speed that I desire. But there are also a lot of them that have kids riding side-by-side, weaving all over the trail on rented bikes. Sometimes, you run across these four-person "carriage" bikes down here, which on a real road would be required to have a big yellow "WIDE LOAD" sign on their butt and cars in front of and behind them. When they're going the other way, you hope that you can squeeze by or that the shoulder isn't so sandy that you'll do an endo going into it. When they're going your way, it seems like your choices are to either suck it up or get onto the road for a bit.
I don't want to ruin some family's summer vacation by crashing into little Timmy and breaking his collar bone. It's a toss-up as to whether I would feel worse, however, if I ruined their summer vacation by making little Timmy feeling guilty for a couple of hours when he makes me break my collar bone.
So, instead, I'm going to exercise my rights to be a vehicle and ride my bicycle in the road rather than on the congested multi-use trail. I'm also going to allow myself to be the person who judges what qualifies as "congested," since it's probably more dangerous for me to be zipping on and off that multi-use trail than just staying on the road.
Adult swim is over, cars. Deal with it.