Belligerent Ignorance

What is up Louisville?

The other morning, when there was a fair amount of snow on the road, I was riding to work heading east on Winter as is one of my usual routes. Freezing my ass off, all bundled up I’m approaching my left turn onto Rubel Ave. Attentively I notice on-coming traffic, an instinctual mental calculation of trajectory and distance tells me I can make my turn safely before the cars get to the intersection. A quick glance over my shoulder as a reminder there being no cars behind me, I execute my pre-turn merge. In that quick glance however, I thought I saw something on the far side of the street—it wasn’t a car though. I continue in my merge and am just about to make the cross-traffic turn when what was on the far-side of the street became ever apparent. It was a cyclist, riding on the wrong side of the road! Had I continued my turn I would have struck him, and then the both of us probably would have been struck by the on-coming cars—I’ll remind you, the roads had a fair amount of snow and likely ice. I quickly stop my turn, and slow down enough to wait out the three cars passing through the intersection only to have the other cyclist cut them and me off in the middle. Shocked by his actions, I exclaimed to him, “That’s not a very safe place to ride man. You’re likely to get yourself or others killed.” He let’s out a loud “wahoo!” and “I don’t give a shit!” in reply. 

What would you call this? This attitude and apparent apathy? Never have I experienced so many other people on bikes with this ignorant attitude than I have here in Louisville, KY. At least once a day, if not more, I encounter somebody riding against traffic as if they belonged there. Now this isn’t the same “against traffic” riding one would do to sneak a turn mid-block or something—there is a difference. No, it’s riding block after block against traffic, through intersections. It’s also riding block after block, against bicycle traffic in the bike lanes. And no, after dark they don’t even have lights on. BAM! Out of nowhere, you’re not the only one riding a bike on the street, all of a sudden you’re dodging another. Darwinian ignorance.

It goes beyond cyclists too. Joggers. I’ve experienced near-violent protest at my presence in the bike lane they’re  running in, also against the normal flow of traffic. (This I’ve seen in other cities too though). This wouldn’t be a complete rant if I failed to mention the belligerently ignorant motorists in this town. I think if I kept a logbook I could compile a thorough tome on these folk. What’s a red light mean if it doesn’t need to be stopped at? Everyday I’ve lived here I have seen numerous cars/trucks/buses/tractor trailers blow through blatantly red lights. How is this? Where is the logic? Consideration? Enforcement? Not to mention safety? (If they do stop at the intersection they’ll usually fail to not block the crosswalk.) 

These are likely the same people who pay little attention to the speed limit on small neighborhood streets. These streets that sometimes consist of sharp turns, limited visibility, and crosswalks. “Nevermind that, I’ve got somewhere to get to! 35mph isn’t fast enough!” Their speed, I bet, eventually results in the slew of impaired cars I see busted and mangled in front of their houses—parked there as eyesores until they can afford repair. If somehow still operable, they’ll be driving around (usually at night when I “notice” them) lacking the majority of it’s headlights, turn signals, and often times front grills or quarter-panels. 

They act ignorant and are proud of it, question them and I’m sure it’ll start a conflict. Sometimes, I just don’t know….

This post is not to be meant to be one that is rife with complaints and negativity. I have an open mind to most everything—consider this merely observational.

Sidewalk Guard Rails

3rd & Oak St at the 3rd Ave Cafe, evidently a semi-truck couldn’t make his turn

Perhaps Louisville should have put up ornamental guard rails instead of such nice trash cans to keep these menaces (i.e. motorists) on the road and not on our sidewalks. Don’t get me wrong, I like these trash cans, which are specific to neighborhood, they’re elegant in a way—I’m glad they’re there. But if they keep getting knocked down and damaged by motorists, what will be left to keep them from plowing down pedestrians on their sidewalks? Are they really enough to keep the cars on the road themselves?

Just a minor blow to this one, next accident will take it out for sure.

I’m pretty sure there used to be a can here in the foreground, but am certain there was an car crashed into the opposite corner’s sidewalk

This Town Already has Bike Boxes

When I’m riding around, casually or commuting, I envision possible solutions to the traffic issues we all face as cyclists, many of which seem abundant here in Louisville. Sometimes I like to envision intersections like this:

Frankfort Avenue

A lot of the intersections I’ve noticed in this town have a really nice space located between where the cars are supposed to stop at red lights and where the pedestrian’s crosswalk is. It’s presumed this area is a buffer zone provided to keep cars from stopping in the crosswalk. This area would make for a great “bike box”! And these “buffer zones” can be found at many of the city’s intersections; they’re just sitting there, ready for painting—I think blue might be nice.

Basically, it would b a place for cyclists to have a safe zone to wait for a green light at intersections; and to help prevent them from getting struck by right turning motorists. The one I’m seeing on Main Street and Brook is great because of the bike lane that leads into it. (Generally speaking, the bike lanes in Louisville are appreciated; they’d be more so—and used more perhaps—if they were safer and more respected; just a note).

Main St @ Brook

Bike boxes are a pretty nice street feature that I first encountered in Vancouver B.C., but really witnessed their implementation on the streets of Portland, OR (here and here) and Seattle, WA (here and here).

Time Warp

I’ve been so preoccupied with work lately I’ve recently experienced a weird sensation of displacement.

We’ve been riding around Louisville a lot—everywhere we go actually. Some of our routes have become rather rote, in a way. But one day, as I’m heading out to the Kroger (or what I commonly, and incorrectly, call QFC) and cross under a freeway overpass, crossing the next intersection I look to my right, and then to my left and proceed through. When I checked to my left something caught my eye: the freeway entrance ramp stating “South I-65 Nashville”. Totally common around here, but it caught my eye nonetheless, making me remark to myself, “Where the hell am I that I’m close to Nashville?”

Louisville, dumbass! Not only was it a sensation of displacement, it also reminded me how “out of the loop” we are about cars and how “regular” people get around. These freeways with their entrance and exit ramps and directional signs, they’re so out of our realm that I hardly take notice of them. Kind of interesting I think how unimportant things like that become when you remove them from your life; things like pumping gas, searching for parking, and many others I’m sure.

Mechanical Thoughts

(This post existed as a draft up until 9/3/2019, originally drafted 11/12/08)

I’ve been a professional bicycle mechanic for a few years now. “Where do I want to take it?” is a question that I ask myself frequently. Why did I get into it in the first place? This I know the answer to: Because I was hating the alternative. That being a corporate desk-jockey working for insulting wages doing tasks that utterly lacked pleasure or satisfaction. So now I’m a mechanic, and love it.

“Why do I enjoy it, why is being a mechanic pleasurable?” Because it’s fun. Getting your hands dirty—using both your muscles and your brain. Helping people out who are in need. Keeping these people on the road; helping them remain self-sufficient in their chosen means of transport. It’s also an interesting subject, seeing the evolution of components and technology (or rather notice how not much has actually changed). It’s a field that comprises a lot of my skills and takes from a lot of my previous experience; and this in itself is satisfying. Most of the time, the environment is filled with like-minded people which can be rewarding in its security.

“What is the future of it for me?” This is the one that I cannot readily answer. I think I do a good job of being a mechanic, however doubt enters my work space at times. More accurately diminished self-confidence rather than in abilities. Sometimes these doubts are inspired from a customer’s knowledge seemingly besting mine. That sense of competitive defensiveness always brings questions of doubt. I am confident I can repair just about any machine that crosses my stand, so it’s really just the thought of “knowledge” not being readily in my hand. And really this is just a factor of the sporadic lack of confidence in vocalizing that knowledge. The occasional inability to spew details and precise specs on specific bikes or components. Is this a commonly felt notion? Is my “bicycle personality”, hampering my mechanical experience? My personality being that of a cyclist who prefers simplicity and longevity—this relating to the fact that I don’t “jump on” enough varied bikes, components, doohickies and/or widgets? I like my few bikes simple and functional. Maybe I’m boring that way, I like to think of it as mostly utilitarian—to me that’s part of the bicycle’s beauty.

While I’m surrounded by the bikes and parts and all other such accoutrements of the bicycle mechanic, I sometimes feel stumped by the people who, from my perspective, are desk-jockeys who are likely learning data online as opposed to doing their white-collar tasks. (Admittedly, that judgement is just a knee-jerk reaction, and I don’t really mean it). Some other times, even in these surroundings, doubt creeps into my mind. “Am I merely a mediocre mechanic?” or perhaps, “Is this a mediocre profession?” I honestly don’t think so when I step away from these thoughts and really focus on my abilities. I do honestly think this is a great profession (certainly not in economic ways of course—it certainly is not as lucrative as I’d like; more on that below), it enables me to be around typically interesting people, it provides a great deal of satisfaction and that sense of accomplishment. But in some ways it seems like a finite profession. Definitely finite in it’s cap on income, but will it also be finite in it’s satisfaction and level of accomplishment. Factors I was keenly aware of when I began; factors I accepted. But. What’s next? 

Can one make a career as a bicycle mechanic? In Louisville, KY? Anywhere? At the moment I’m not making as much money as I was while in Seattle (that is understandable in a way I know, but…). The statement, “You don’t get rich in the bicycle industry” is often heard in the shop I’m in now. It’s stated in a way that implies someone asked for a raise of executive proportions. Getting rich was never my intention. Being paid equitably for time and effort, positive attitude and out-going ambition is all that is asked really. It’s probably just a factor of working for a small business owner, a factor of working for someone else—and that’s not something easily adjusted. Right? So in a way, that’s a finite direction to take the profession.  

What’s next? Owning my own shop? Perhaps. I often thought it’d be a good idea. Maybe start building my own frames? Extremely appealing. I’ve always wanted to get back into mechanical/industrial design, re-hone my dusty CAD skills. Travel to Europe and wrench there for a while? Revive the magazine and get Cranked back in print and back on the shelves? Hmmmm, not so sure. Seek corporate levels and get a “bicycle” industry desk job? Rather not, but the previous three all feel like viable options, just gotta start the planning process again. Can I do all three? Eventually, own my own shop, where I can fabricate my own frames, but only after a few years of cycling and wrenching in France and Italy. Sounds good to me. Someone send me a large sum check! What preparations are needed at this early stage of the game? There’s a lot to figure out, a lot to get busy on.

As of Late

I’ve been working like a dog. It’s been good though. Bike Couriers is a good shop, I’m really glad to be there. I’m glad to be here in Louisville, the change for me personally was necessary, and this geographic change has been good.

Louisville is an interesting town. I’m not sure if it’s the town, the new settings, the new bike shop, the general inability to stay in front of a computer for more than an hour or so at a stretch, or what, but I just really haven’t been wanting to post to this site. I’ve taken a few photos here and there, but I just haven’t been in the mood to write exactly.

My time writing this blog may be coming to a close. Perhaps I’ll generate another elsewhere, or redo this one. I’m not sure whether or not I want this site to be a part of my identity any longer. Things have changed; we’ll see how they progress.

In the meantime, who is this guy?


Post Arrival

We’ve made it to Louisville, Kentucky. It was a quick trip across, we’ve been here just over a week, and we’re just about settled. Old Louisville: cool, eclectic, part of town (loving this place, where I’m at right now). Bike Couriers: very cool bike shop, really Louisville’s only urban, inner-city shop (website updating soon); very Magna-rific at times.

I don’t have the internet at my leisure just yet, so this is an extremely brief post.

Bike racks here look like this:


sometimes like this:


and more commonly, like this: