Monday, January 19, 2009

My karma is stuck in trafficma

I have to admit to a short-lived bout of extreme smugness today.

One of the main bridges bringing commuters into Vancouver is out of commission for the next few weeks, due to fire damage to the wooden (!) trestles under the bridge deck.

The early morning news was full of shots of nose-to-tail gridlock, from various traffic cameras and the ridiculously redundant Global 1 chopper. (WHY do they feel the need to bring us live air-borne footage of strings of tail lights in the dark, with no other features or landmarks discernible? And WHY is half of each Global 1 update taken up with advertising for Kal-Tire or whoever?) Amid the genuine acknowledgement of how hellish the commute is going to be for our suburban neighbours came a flash (or two, or three) of devilish schadenfreude for the polluting, commuting, I-don't-want-to-carpool drivers.

Switching off the TV and running ever so slightly late if I wanted to make it to the gym before work, I registered the freezing temperatures as I went into the garden to get my bike out of its storage area. What a beautiful day - sun at last, reflecting off the Lions in all their pinkish snow-capped morning glory, steam and fog mixing over the city's gleaming skyscrapers.

My foot slipped on some heavy frost as I pushed off from the back alley - no biggie, the actual road looked pretty much clear.

And it was, for about seven blocks - over a major intersection, and just far enough on my way that I decided it would be silly to go home. The frost and ice were bound to get better as I went further down the hill.

Except they didn't. I adjusted my stopping distance at the first set of lights - no problem. I continued as the light turned green, going more slowly than normal, and mentally readjusting my expectations from my workout.

And then, as so often happens, a car approaching from my right on a side street decided to turn left by going the wrong way around a roundabout, with no signal.

I had no idea that I knew how to make my bike fishtail in such an interesting and impressive manner.

Needless to say (for I am a huge wuss), I lost my nerve and ended up walking the rest of the way. Walking CAREFULLY as I crossed various very slippery side streets. Some braver souls were cycling very slowly and gingerly down the hill, but I wasn't the only one who got off and pushed. I didn't make it to the gym, of course, meaning that I have to go now instead - yuck, it'll be all busy and hot and sweaty.

That's what I get for being such a smug little no-bridge - a frustrating commute that took three times longer than usual, and the need to find an alternative route tomorrow.

Karma's a bitch.

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(P.S. Is it too much to ask that people who live on bike routes scrape their car windows, rather than pour hot water all over the car, which then cools and freezes into huge icy patches for cyclists to either fall on, or have to swerve to avoid? I know it takes a little longer, but is five minutes of their time really more precious than someone's life? Surely it's a litigation issue, if nothing else).

9 comments:

  1. Yikes! Glad you can fishtail and come through okay!

    You guys have too much ice. And there are better ways to clear windows than water. Water freezes! (I think you discussed that in an earlier post.) There are nifty little squirt bottles with stuff that doesn't freeze until way cold (like -20F window stuff).

    I hope you find a better way tomorrow. Maybe it will warm up?

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  2. Sorry your commute sucked! As a polluting, commuting, actually-carpooling driver, I appreciate that you prevent a little traffic an pollution by biking. And I agree that video of cars stuck in traffic conveys nothing to the viewer.

    I have always lived in cold, icy places and I have never put hot water on my car. I can't believe people do that! It's just asking to have your doors and locks frozen shut later. That's their karma.

    I had a similar case of smugness tamped out by karma recently. I always brag how fast I can prepare samples for a certain instrumental analysis. Then last week the instrument ruined a big batch of my samples. Awesome Technician said, why is it always your samples that get mess up? Um, probably because I brag? I guess it's what I get.

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  3. Wow, I am impressed that you ride your bike in this frost. I hope today was a better commute!

    When I was living up in the frozen north for my first year of uni, I walked past a woman who was about to pour boiling water on her frosted up car windows...it was at least -30°C....the window actually cracked (shattered, really). It was an impressive (and somewhat expensive) science lesson!

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  4. SF, it's not much warmer today, but I rode the mountain bike instead of the hybrid, and took the main streets. One good thing about cars is that they're really good at melting the frost they drive over!

    I haven't heard of the de-icing squirt bottles - sounds kinda toxic!

    EGF, I didn't think of that - I hope their doors do freeze shut! If I see anyone else doing it in future I might have to stop and politely point out the folly of their ways. (But not if they look scary).

    Sorry about your samples - machines just know, don't they?!

    Mermaid, that sounds awesome! What a silly thing for someone who lives that far North to do!

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  5. One summer I biked everywhere and was incredibly fit and eco-conscious. But I decided it was definetly not worth the near daily Escapes from Death I had pull off around idiots who didn't know how to drive. And most of town I was in had bike paths! I can't imagine having to ride in the road constantly and never mind having to do so in winter

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  6. Poor hot water? really? I have never seen that.... wouldn't it make it harder the next day around?

    I hope you get to work without sliding on the ice and so. I am enjoying snow here in the South of US :) just a bit of snow but still, nice to see the flakes.

    I miss the bike though

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  7. Hermitage, most of the time it's worth it for the fresh air, daylight, exercise, and beautiful mountain views.

    Most of the time.

    Chall, can you tell that people around here are just not used to dealing with this stuff?!

    It's now reasonably sunny, and it's forecast to warm up a little bit by tomorrow. I hope the fog's gone by Friday, I have an early flight to Victoria (work thing) and those small planes get fogged in a lot!

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  8. I am soo glad I'm up at Big white right now, avoiding the chaos!

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  9. Just be sure to time your re-entry veeeeery carefully!

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