Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm Not Drunk! I Swear!

Since I've gone car free the first question I get from both strangers and those that have known me for years (and are aware that I don't drink) is, "You got a DUI?" The gereral automoible driving public can simply not comprehend why anyone would choose to willingly give up driving a car for riding a bicycle. In their very narrowly visioned car-centric minds, I must have been forced to ride a bike for some reason purely of my own fault. 

More bizarre than the DUI question is how often I find myself explaining my riding habits to random strangers that I've encountered at my destination. That following exchange is usually proceeded by me interacting or conversing with someone that drove by me earlier while I was enroute to that particular destination. They always seem so surprised that I'm so coherent and able to carry on a conversation and when I question them as to what made them think I was inebriated in some way they usually reply with, "When I saw you riding your bike earlier, you were all over the bike lane." I then have to explain what they viewed as weaving "all over", was actually me avoiding copious amounts of potential road hazards to both my bike and myself. I politely explain how all road debris is either blown or washed to the sides of the road where the bike lanes are. I tell them how that at 45-70 MPH it's impossible for them to see all the shards of glass, gouges in the road, trash, small automobile parts, rocks and other various items that lands in the bike lanes of Jacksonville. I tell them how cyclists are now and have always been treated as 3rd class citizens by the City's Dept. of Public Works and FDOT when it comes to building or maintaining bicycle infrastructure. I explain how my calls and other fellow cyclists' calls to Public Works, asking for street sweeping have gone completely ignored while the bike lanes of our daily travels continue to fill with debris that is not only a hazard to our bike tires, but also to our health should we hit it unknowingly. I usually break out my phone at some point of the conversation and show them the collection of images I've taken that exemplify the issue, and I'll happily share a few of those images with you, dear reader. Click on the images view full size.

If you know of a bike lane that needs cleaning, please contact the COJ, Dept. of Public Works. If enough of us contact them they might actually start responding to some of our requests.


Jenny said...

It always amazes me how it seems the majority of people here have never... um... actually lived in any other big city. Had they, they wouldn't just assume that a bike commuter is either a bum or a post DUI criminal. Sheesh.

David said...

A good experience with the city: Once I went to to complain about the road debris in the bike lanes on Beach blvd near St. Johns Bluff. I wrote that the debris forced me into the traffic lane and made cycling in this area more dangerous than it should be.

A couple of days later the streetsweepers took care of it, and a few days after that I got a letter from the city asking me how I liked their response to my request. I wrote a big "thank you" and mailed it back. That's how city government is supposed to work.

That was several years ago.

koula said...

David, I'm surprised but hopeful re: the city's response to your complaint. I put in a work order to sweep Spring Park Road's bike lanes in March, and COJ said their estimated date of completion would be May. I followed up with the city, and still have no swept bike lanes as of last week (and no longer work at that office, so I stopped following up). Maybe since the city responded that way in the past, they will again someday?

Also, I've never been asked the DUI question, but often get told I'm brave and/or crazy for riding my bike to work. I'm not sure guys get that same remark, though. Jenny, you're right- I think once more people start riding in our city, bicycling will be thought of as "normal" and not some fringe thing or the only way someone with a DUI can get around...