Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On the Modes of Biking

I live in a middle-ring suburb of Minneapolis. Now that I'm home for the summer, I have great deals of free time and would like to spend some of that free time biking. Problem: I'm convinced I live in one of the most hostile cities to bikers ever. Biking in the city (at least, a bike-friendly city like Minneapolis) looks like this.
Biking out in rural areas doesn't have such nice trails, but there's no one out there anyway and wide highway shoulders serve the same purpose.
Biking in the suburbs looks something like this.
Not too fun for driving, even worse for biking. It's hard to make fast progress when you have to bike on bumpy sidewalks and wait for a walk signal every few minutes. It's mostly a matter of finding streets that are better for biking and sticking with them to minimize your contact with bike-unfriendly streets like that one. If I can bike to Minneapolis' network of trails, I can go anywhere, but getting there is a headache.

Anyway, just in case your find yourself in a similar predicament of having to bike through those bike-hating lands they call the suburbs, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Bike along obstacles. By obstacles, I mean rivers, airports, lakes, freeways, etc; things that streets don't cross. This will reduce the number of intersections. Note that freeways tend to be lined with big intersections and are inadvisable.

Look for shoulders. If you're lucky enough to find one of these, ride it to victory!

Keep to quiet streets. Busy streets tend to make a grid of difficulty, with easy, residential streets in between. These are your friend.

Look both ways before crossing streets. Bring emergency rations if it's a busy street and you have to wait a while.

Always carry a map. Use it only if you're a wimp, though.

Ignore all stop signs. You're a bike, not a car. Signs don't apply to you.

Don't panic. You're just stuck in a nightmarish maze of pavement that wasn't made for you. Everything will be okay.

If all else fails, go off-road. Preferably in a park or other public area. This is easier with a mountain bike. If you must bushwhack across private property, it might help to tell the owner you're biking to cure a disease of some sort. If your sunglasses are cool enough, tell them you're a spy.

Choose a fighting style and hone it to perfection. Just in case you offend a driver.

Don't die. This is always good advice.

With these tips, you should be able to  bike anywhere in your city. Enjoy! Disclaimer: some of this advice may not be factual.

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