Day 10 – Lessons Learned

This post could alternately be titled “large-scale policy reccomendations being sent to naught but the blogoshepere.” After biking nearly 500 miles in Michigan (disclosure: we got rained/tornadowarninged/thunderstormed out of the race and quit in St. John) there a a few things I’d like to see changed.

1) Driver’s attitudes. I think it’s appalling how many people honk as they’re passing you, give you the middle finger, yell at you or stop their car to confront you. I think a statewide education campaign with the message “bikes have the same rights as cars” would do some good.

The lock from my third stolen bike, cut by SWIPERS.

2) Theft prevention. I’ve had three bikes stolen in East Lansing and not recovered any. That’s ridiculous. Registering bikes by city is a decent idea, but most of those registration stickers get torn off before people post their stolen goods on Craigslist, I’d imagine. I think that cities should consider microchipping bikes, if not create a statewide theft prevention system. Locks of all kinds are easily cut, and now I live in fear of leaving my more-expensive-than-me bike unattended.

5) Infrastructure. Ok, they passed complete streets legislation. But the fact is, we went 70 miles before hitting our first bike lane in Grand Rapids. And the map program we used routed us toward bike lanes if they were available. They’re not widespread, and sometimes roads aren’t built with shoulders.

4) Hand signals. If you’re like me, you look at this picture and think “what the hell?” What’s more scary is that when I used these signals on the road drivers were thinking the same thing. I am a firm believer in the fact that everybody knows you’re going right if you point right. And I refuse to do the real right signal, which is just raising your left hand. I think drivers are more likely to call on me a la second grade than know which direction I’m going.

5) Lazy levels. I’m guilty of driving to my work, a 3.5 mile trip. But I try to bike at least once a week, because I love the environment and the 5lbs of leg muscle I gained on this trip. It was hard to — literally — get back in the saddle after living on a bike for so long, but doing it felt good. My new residence will be about a mile from work, and I plan on biking really frequently.

So there you have it folks, Emily’s recommendations on the official. Biking has been an awesome addition to my lifestyle, and I’ll never regret the 500 miles. Indeed, I hope it’s not my last.

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