What parent-kid lecture would be complete without something that sounds a lot like, “Do as I say, not as I used to do.” I’m old enough to, well, have made lots of stupid moves in my time on two wheels—moves that I advise against.
When I was a Knox student in the early 1970s, riding my bike across campus one day, I came whipping around the northwest corner of Old Main and, you guessed it, ran right over a friend of mine. Thankfully, he was not injured. Hopefully, I learned my lesson.
The lesson is that it’s only a matter of time before the stats will catch up with us. And one of the key stats is that very few sidewalks at Knox are wide enough for both pedestrians and bikes moving “at speed.” Federal guidelines state: “Under most conditions, a recommended paved width for a two-directional shared use path is 3.0 m (10 feet)…” Too fast, too close, eventually it’ll be too bad.
Speaking of sidewalks, just to clarify, it’s okay to ride your bike on the sidewalk in Galesburg, except where marked in the downtown area. I’ve never been ticketed for breaking this important rule, but I know that the police will enforce it. The reasons are what we’ve just been talking about—lots of pedestrians, relatively narrow width and blind corners. Run someone down on campus and you have a decent chance to make it up to your friend. Do it on the sidewalk in town and you’ll find yourself in court.
While living in Galesburg in the late 1970s, coincidentally working as a bike mechanic, I got a ticket for riding without a light at night. I promptly used my employee discount and bought a light from the shop where I worked. But I still had to go to traffic court and get a lecture from the judge about following the law. Ride at night without a light, you’ll eventually get a ticket. Or worse.
But don’t take it from your grandfather. Tom Fucoloro, a 2008 Knox grad and a former editor of this publication, is now editor of Seattle Bike Blog. In a well-timed post, about a month out from the time change, he wrote: “It’s getting dark earlier, so let’s talk about bike lights.” You can check out Tom’s bullet list at http://bit.ly/2iVUFwH
And send him a note congratulating him for being a leading voice for biking in what’s arguably the premier bike-town in the USA.