Tuesday, August 16, 2005

From Southeast to Downeast. And back.

I've returned from my longest vacation in 12 years. I missed six whole days of work and put more miles on my car in 10 days than I will in the next 20 weeks. The ultimate destination of this trip was Downeast Maine.

I can report that our nation's interstate highways are brimming with bicycles. Of course, they are not being ridden (except for the shirtless dude riding against traffic in the emergency lane of I-84 outside of Hartford). Rather, these bikes are attached to automobiles and trucks, most commonly via trailer hitch mounted racks.

I saw plenty of bicycles in use on Mount Desert Island, however, as well as on U.S. Highway 1. Some of these folks had their bicycles loaded down with luggage and camping gear, which had me wondering if they'd ever heard of the Xtracycle. In Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, bicycle traffic was common and most motorists were courteous.

One type of bike that I did not enjoy seeing (or hearing) all over Mount Desert Island: Harley-Davidson and other "loud pipe" motorcycles, with which the place is positively infested. Their obnoxious roar was constant on the streets of Bar Harbor. At night in the otherwise quiet Lamoine State Park, I could hear the bellow of the bikes as they barreled down the causeway, miles away from my tent. In my city, the noise generated by loud car stereos is a popular complaint. Still, no one seems to mind the roar of status symbol motorcycles, which I find much more annoying than the average teenager's subwoofer.

Last night I went to the grocery store after dark and encountered four other cyclists on my trip. None were running with lights. One was riding against traffic on a particularly dark stretch of Habersham Street. Another passed me on the left with about an inch to spare. He had his head down and was really pedaling hard. He sailed through the red light at 63rd Street without looking up.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Unfortunately, many cyclists refuse to adopt safe riding practices. My own mother insists on riding on the wrong side of the road. I have attempted to explain and to demonstrate to her how dangerous this is, but she persists, thinking that it's best "to see cars coming". As for cyclists without lights, they are everywhere. I think there is some common misperception that reflectors serve as lights. Now I hear local police are ticketing nighttime cyclists who ride unlit.