Friday, May 21, 2010

Ann Arbor Bike-to-work Day 2010

Today's Bike-to-work Day, although seeming to be larger in offerings than last year, seemed (to me) to be much less attended, most likely due to the rain. I tried to make it to the Great Lakes cycling and fitness store at 7:30AM, and when I got there, I discovered that I was the only person waiting in the parking lot. Soon, though, I was called inside by the GLCF staff that would be riding into Kerrytown. When we gathered again outside (a little past go-time), we were joined by a commuter cyclist, and we were off!

Some of the lead riders decided to race down Jackson instead of using Liberty, and so took off in that direction. However, I veered onto Liberty (my usual route), and with two others following me, cycled somewhat sedately in to Kerrytown. (We were met there by the three bikes who took the Jackson/Huron way, which -- although straighter and with less stops -- doesn't have a bike lane...)

The tables were just getting set up as we rode in to the farmers market area, and under the signs that said "no bikes on market days" we parked our bikes, leaning them against the posts, locking them up, or (in true trusting nature) leaving them unlocked; hundred (and in some cases thousands) of dollars of merchandise standing unattended, and descended upon the newly set-up spread. There were really good bagels, cream cheeses, and fruit salad from Zingerman's as well as gorgeous coffee from Mighty Good Coffee. The Ann Arbor bike choir was there, as well as many new and established bike stores and cycling groups.

Mayor Hieftje spoke about how Ann Arbor was awarded stimulus funds for putting in more bike lanes as well as updating the existing signage and condition of current ones. Over the past several years, the number of bike lanes had increased by six-fold (i.e., 600%, which sounds much better than a "mere" six-fold), and were continuing apace (at least in terms of the number of miles added). The current major project was "bike-laning" the one-way streets of Division (going north) and 5th Ave (going south) to and from Packard and (I suppose) Huron (but possibly all the way to/from the Broadway Bridge). This extension would be really nice for the people cutting north and south on their commutes -- just like many of the drivers. Another good piece of news from the mayor was that the Stadium road bridge will be fixed in this coming year, and it should become bike-friendly. To me, that would be a really nice thing, since Stadium is my main route to get Trader Joe's shopping in.

At about 9:30, I cycled in to the university with another SNRE student, D.O. And the two of us managed to maintain pace with the somewhat traffic-impeded cars that were driving south along 5th Ave. The left turn at Liberty was a little hairy, but D.O. was good at blocking the cars, allowing for us to cross two lanes of traffic in order to get into the left-turn lane; we didn't encounter any stops all the way to the U.

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