Just yesterday I witnessed someone stall their bike in a busy intersection as the light turned green. He sat astride it, fumbling with levers and nobs while duck walking his bike across the intersection. Nothing more flustering! At least the people behind him were semi-patient and weren't honking the horns yet.
One of my own experiences hearkens back to one of my first long distance trips...of 10 miles. :) I can advise new riders not to attempt to take off on a green light in third gear. You do not have the experience to slip the clutch that much. I tried that and I survived the crushing embarrassment. Ok, not so crushing or embarrassing. I didn't care what the yahoos behind me thought...I just didn't want them to run me over. I had enough momentum before stalling to quickly coast across the intersection and get out of the way.
But one thing I have noticed while riding and learning to ride...I am the stoplight QUEEN! I collect red lights. I am a magnet for them. Ride with me and you will experience the utter frustration and annoyance of having to stop at just about every single red light imaginable. And I'm not talking about pulling up and having to sit behind cars because it is halfway through the intersection cycle. I'm talking about having to make the split second decision of braking or running a red light because the light just turned yellow at that crucial moment when a decision is necessary. So making the legal decision results in having to wait through an entire cycle at that intersection! Now don't talk to me about "anticipating" a light change when approaching an intersection, like they teach in basic high school drivers ed. I do that and I think that is what gets me into so much trouble: because I actually ride sanely and legally. Crap!
Now, some intersections have a fairly quick cycle and are only taking a minute of wait time. But start adding up a minute for every light...and how often I am waiting at each light...and we are talking some time here being spent watching other vehicles moving while I sit. Yes, I have had some time to think about this and actually calculate wait times and light cycles.
Now add in that I live in a large metropolis. Yes, I live outside of the "big city"...but so does everyone else out here and there still isn't much room to breath or drive. I was jealous of my other friends learning to ride that had large, curving lanes to glide down. My learning grounds were riddled with stoplights, stop signs, hard turns/intersections, uphills and railroad tracks. My head had a lot to keep track of. Sometimes it succeeded and sometimes it didn't.
One of the most frustrating occurrences that made me want to scream and just sit and cry was the day of my ERC (Experienced Riders Course). The location was exactly across town from my house. And start time was 8:00...with required early check-in and bike checklist/inspection. I needed to be there by 7:30. Through morning rush hour traffic in Atlanta?? No way! Luckily I had some friends on that side of town that let me spend the night before. One even rode over with me in the morning to show me the way since the new-to-me bike hadn't been outfitted with the GPS yet.
The problem wasn't to the facility...it was on the way home. After class, I was back at my friends house to wait for traffic to die down. They were going to follow me home and get together with Mr. Oilburner for dinner as a Thank You for letting me stay. The 18 miles distance between our houses has (had, actually, since more have been added) 23 stoplights. And I literally had to stop for every...single...one... And this time I had witnesses!
The point was driven home again when another friend was learning to ride. Mr. Oilburner and I would take him out, flanking him for protection. And he had the angels on his side...because all he had to do was approach a light and it would magically turn green. No stopping, barely slowing. Argh.
Where is this going? I don't know if you live in the metro, suburbia or lonely country lanes. But I really hope you are not cursed with red lights. Last week we decided to attend a new Bike Night a town is trying to start. It is a mere 18 miles of side-streets away. How hard can it be?
When riding with me? Extremely hard! There are stoplights here. It is just a fact of life. Freeway distance would have been about 33 miles in heavy rush-hour traffic. So side-streets is really the only option. But do you know how many stoplights can be installed within 18 miles? You might be surprised.
To give you a guessing chance, work and home are separated by a measly 9 miles. There are
So I recorded my progression along the roads to this Bike Night for you. 18 miles...45 minutes...mainly because of stoplights. Can you count the number of lights? Maybe now it is easy to understand why I don't commute to work on the bike. Note to Riepe: take a look at all those friggin minivans!!
Suburban Stoplight Hell from Love Of A Motorbike on Vimeo.
And even sped up, look at how long I'm sitting at some of those lights?? Crank up the volume. I like the music. Wish I had been listening to this. Might have made the distance and time a little easier. Nah...
Happy travels to you and may all your lights be green!
Correction: I had to add two more lights to my work commute. Forgot a couple... :(