Sunday, January 15, 2012

What the F Avenue? Or Why is my Butt so Wet?

The good, the bad and the ugly. First the bad: E Ave, white glaze. The ugly: F Ave, where my sense of foreboding started, half slush, half white ice. Finally, 35th Street, looking like one would expect all streets to look three days after snow.

Well, blog fans, it was a surprising and interesting day for CR Biker. For the second time, I slipped on ice on a day when I really had no business slipping on ice.

You see, it snowed last week in Cedar Rapids. Four inches of fluffy white stuff fell from the skies Wednesday and blew around Thursday.

We were a little worried about whether there would be school Thursday, but there was.

Anyway, I chalked up last week as a loss, from a biking point of view. Thursday and Friday were minivan commute days.

But I watched the neighborhood streets. We had a cool but sunny day Saturday and an even warmer sunny day today. Brentwood Drive and C Avenue were bare pavement this morning, which seems right, 72 hours after any snow problems. Surely, I thought, it ought to be OK to ride my bike today.


I can see why the people in Kenwood neighborhood think their city government has forgotten them. Or at least the street department has. Beyond main streets, old CR is a slick mess. There is either a slushy slurry on the street, waiting for nightfall to turn to black ice, or, even more widespread, a thick frosting of polished snow, a special white glaze which grows slicker on a warm day like today as its surface becomes more polished.

I had no trouble navigating sidewalks (nicely cleared) to Rockwell Collins or transiting Rockwell Collins parking lots (not so nicely cleared, but RC, you’ve got CR beat all to heck) until I came to the crossing of Collins Road at F Avenue. As soon as I crossed Collins, I entered a treacherous multi-block zone of winter horror.

I had a harrowing ride to my office early this afternoon. And slush makes for a damp and chilled backside, I can tell you. Once at my office, I hoped the afternoon hours of sun would improve the situation, and at 4 I started for home.

But the temperature had started to fall, and rather than improving, the streets had grown even more treacherous.

Hence the slip, which happened on E Avenue north of Kenwood School.

Now, there is good news. Two years ago, the last time I slipped on ice, I was badly hurt and had a sore right knee for months. The knee was still touchy when Jon issued his RAGBRAI invitation last year, but now all is pretty well in my knee-ther regions because today I was going very slowly (about 4.4 mph as my still working computer recorded) when the bike attempted to buck me off by slipping sideways.

I had time to react and put my feet down. What could have been a disaster instead became a non-event, like Rick Perry’s or Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaigns.

I’m safe and sound, and not sore, at least not in body. But I’m a bit sore at the city of CR. When we residents shovel our walks, we’re expected to get down to bare pavement. We don’t leave an inch of snow to compress in traffic to a white glaze.

And I’m not some Stephen Bloom, some outsider who is a Joey Come Lately to Iowa. I graduated from Sacred Heart School in Clinton in 1972 and Muscatine High School in Muscatine in 1976 and Marycrest College in Davenport in 1982. I lived for 10 years in a tiny village in northwestern Iowa.

I know snow. I know Iowa snow. I’ve seen many Iowa cities wrestle with snow plowing. None, I am sad to report, as pathetically as Cedar Rapids, the land that plows forgot. Yeah, the main drags are nicely cleared, and that is a big job.

But ALL the streets need to be plowed, Ron, et al. As I wrote in this blog after my first spill—and I still mean it today: Mayor Ron, if you really want to favorably impress the voters of CR, take one dramatic step. Plow the darn streets.

It can’t be that hard. In fact, in all my Iowa residences and years, I’ve never seen a hamlet, village or town that had so much of that odd white frosting that dominates CR’s quiet streets. I think the fifth season is a time of traction to recover from injuries (or a time of no traction that causes them).

It seems other towns can plow even quite streets down to the bare pavement.

Why can’t we?

Bah. I had been all excited this morning, I wrote on my garden blog about what a springy day it was, and as I got ready to ride I put on sunglasses, yeah, due to the snow, but also due to my sunny mood. It lasted until I crossed Collins Road. I had a cheerful earworm all planned, CR, until you spoiled it. Oh well, I did have the shades, so even if it no longer matches the mood of this post, here it is:


  1. I grew up in Dubuque. Thankfully, that is where I learned to drive. They manage their streets very well in winter - and if they can do that given the terrain, why can't this flatland figure it out?

    1. Good question, one I have long pondered. Anyway, one of my Facebook friends posted this on the Facebook link to this blog entry: "Hey Joe - I live right where your talking and my street(36th between E and F) along with the surrounding had NEVER been plowed in my 6 years of living here. And the thing is my street isn't all THAT quiet and neither is E Ave, due to the school. So thank you for this blog, sorry that you have treacherous rides down this stretch of road, but glad someone else speaks out as well!"