Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In Which Rodrigo Sees the Light

City worker doing something to traffic signal at corner of 29th and Prairie the morning of Feb. 4. No word on when the signal starts operating, the signs say "February," but have the date blocked out.
Am I biking? Nah. I know some on fat-tire bikes may be heartier souls than I am, but I’m not on two wheels—not since 10 inches of snow blanketed Cedar Rapids Feb. 1. I fell the year I first did RAGBRAI, and don’t want to mess up a knee again or suffer an even worse fate.

So, instead of Francis or The Beast, I’ve been making do with Rodrigo the Montego. It’s (under AP style, an animal with a name gets a gender-specific pronoun, but I can’t motivate myself to do that for a car) a Mercury that I inherited, sort of, from a daughter. She had been a social worker in Omaha, and now is attending law school in in Baltimore, and the life of a poor graduate student, apparently, is more practical without a Montego.

Say hello to Rodgrigo. and then ask yourself, why the heck am I talking to a car?
One should only talk to horses and bicycles. Parked this morning at MMU.

By the way, it was the daughter who named the car Rodrigo the Montego, and the name seems to work. Anyway, while I regret getting to work via car (sorry, Rodrigo), I do need more bare pavement before I try to cycle The Beast to work. I’m hoping maybe it might happen Friday, if the street scraping continues, but maybe not. Thursday is going to be freakishly cold, and we’re close to the point, days away from when the flakes fell, where the city will give up clearing streets and the sun and spring warmth will be required to clean pavement.

Drive in front of Warde Hall, MMU. Why I don't bike. And campus facilities does a better job then the city does at clearing snow from pavement.

Anyway, there is still some traffic news for MMU commuters, be they bikers or car users. A light! The city has installed a traffic light at 29th Street Northeast and Prairie Drive Northeast. This follows the addition some time ago of a four-way stop at 27th and Prairie.

Well, hooray. I don’t usually use Prairie Drive while cycling Francis (or The Beast), but with the light, it becomes plausible. I have gone that way just a few times, usually if I’m headed to the Noelridge Park area, and crossing 29th Street was always one of the challenges. At busy times, traffic often backs up on Prairie Drive, and there are near misses at this corner—so I think the light is a good thing. As would one at Old Marion Road and C Avenue, although that’s another ideas.

As this intersection, I hope they put in sensors that can “read” bikes, or that the walk lights are bike accessible, but we’ll see.

As a biker, by the way, I really like the four-way stop sign that they put right at the corner of the MMU campus. It means I have to pause while headed downhill on 27th Street on the way home, which is a minor pain, but that corner was always very scary to a biker becasue the Prairie Drive drivers weren’t always great at stopping at that corner for a bicycle. Now, since everyone stops, it’s safer to bike when I’m headed that way.

The all-way stop the city put in at 27th and Prairie.
And, while I would like my biking days to return, I have to give some praise to Rodrigo. The Montego does very well in snow. The car is a pretty sturdy, unsexy boxy green thing, but for winter driving all I can say is well done, Ford Motor Company. Your faux Taurus drives like a Taurus, which was always a fairly practical winter car.

Still, I do hope that winter biking days on The Beast return soon!

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