What I think about when I am riding

After four months at my new address, I am still overestimating the times that my commutes take. I think the distance may be a tad longer, but in terms of my spatial sense of the city, the two locations both seem further away, so I allow more time. Getting to the jail it is not so easy to relax en route, but for the tech company, once I get to the traffic circle at the end of Division and check my watch, I always find that I have more than enough time to pedal softly along Townsend.
Even though there is a bike lane, there are always obstacles: every week there is someone double-parked in the bike lane across from the Adobe building; at Caltrain there are taxis and shuttles manoeuvring across the space, and people turning right onto Fourth St, which has been under construction for a long time. Elsewhere on that little stretch, I get to see other typical facets of the city – old industrial buildings being torn down or gutted; plots of land being flattened and redeveloped; the freeway overhead with lines of vehicles waiting to be disgorged onto the streets; a dairy transformed into a coffee shop.
As I noted in the previous post, I don’t seem to be in much of a hurry these days, and it is nice to slow down even more (even nicer to find that I can cover four or five blocks ambling along on a bike in the same time as someone in a high-end car who is acting impatient, revving and speeding and then getting stuck in a line of cars).
These days I find I gravitate towards streets with cycle lanes – not that it is a guarantee of safety, but because there is at least some sense of visibility and shared ownership; maybe I am getting tired of constantly having to assert my presence on the road after almost thirty years of urban riding. Even with the waves of riders around town in the spring weather, the sense of vulnerability does not diminish.
I have also recently been commuting to North Berkeley to work on a project I will doubtless say more about in the future, and the five minute ride from BART to the workplace consists of two designated ‘bicycle boulevards’, so apart from crossing a couple of busy streets, I get to ride down peaceful wide avenues, with so little traffic I don’t usually bother to put on my helmet, something I would not contemplate doing on this side of the bay.

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