We are Calgary

by Mark Zaugg 25. June 2013 04:20

There is only one thing I could title this post.

This morning I lined up at McMahon Stadium with a couple thousand of my best friends.  We are the resolve, we are the determination, we will help each other and we will make a difference in our city.

We got our forms, we signed our forms, we ran out of forms.  We lined up to get approved, we lined up to get on buses, we ran out of buses.  We were sent to communities, we found our way to communities, we self-organized to get into the communities and make a difference.  We drove, we walked, we biked, we found our way to meet good people and make a positive difference in their crappy week.  We did one small thing today, there are many, many more days ahead.  We stand resolved to make it better.

There were tears.  Each sickening splat of my hammer hitting wet drywall ("drywall" - what a terribly ironic name today) brought a tear to my eye.  Taking out the kid's toys and the strollers and unceremoniously dumping them in a trash heap brought a tear to my eye.  The photos, the Christmas cards, the personal letters saturated and destroyed brought a tear to my eye.  Gutting the bottom floor of five beautiful homes in Sunnyside brought many tears to my eye.

But the smiles far outshone the tears.  The smiles were incandescent.  Knowing that an army of volunteers stood by to help brought out the smiles.  Just to see the faces light up knowing that Calgary cares - that brought out more smiles in all of us.  Even when we grimly pounded hammers over and over into soggy walls, working in a mindless rhythm of deconstruction of destroyed homes, every once in a while we'd look up at each other and smile.  We had come from just up the hill, we had come from Killarney, we had come from DouglasGlen, we had come from Albert Park, we lived in Sunnyside.  We are Calgarians first, and something needs to be fixed.  Just the knowledge that we've made a difference makes us smile.

This resolve is simply amazing.  It is more than enthusiasm, it is a deep determination and we will make it right no matter how long it takes.  Calgary is simply an incredible city.

I did learn a few lessons today.  I wish to share them for those who wish to volunteer in the days ahead.

1.  When you volunteer, you have no idea what you will face.  At the very least, bring gloves, long pants and wear proper shoes.  I wore steel toed boots - they were excellent.  Gum boots are good, be sure they're comfortable to wear all day.  If they aren't, bring an extra pair of shoes to give your feet a break.  Gloves may or may not be provided.  Bring your own if you can - it gives someone else a chance to help.
2.  Safety is crucial and critical.  Be safe, be smart.  Be willing to step up and show others around you how to be safe.  I worked in one home where the kids who lived there wanted to help.  They're completely invested in the process - teach them to be safe and do it right, but let them participate safely.  Let them learn what Calgarian means.
3.  Not everyone will work construction.  You wonderful people that brought me food and water are amazing.  You helped me keep working longer, you kept me inspired, you kept me grateful that I had the privilege to help someone else.  Allowing me to work more means more people got help.  Thank you for your kindness and your generosity.  Please, circle your calendars and try to schedule your food donations.  We don't have electricity where we were working - we don't have refrigeration.  Circle your calendars for two or three days from now and plan to that day.  Ask when you drop off food, please don't let it go to waste.
4.  Working local is best.  Self organize.  I rode my bike to the area of Sunnyside that I was told was the most affected and started asking people if they needed help.  It took almost no time for someone to say yes.  It took nothing to help them.  I have met many wonderful new friends today.  I want to ensure their lives are made better again.

There is a long, long way to go.  The true test will be if our resolve remains solid not just today but in three weeks from now.  I'm betting it will.  I feel terrible to destroy five lovely ground-level floors today.  But I know it is only the first step to restoring the lives of five fabulous families in Calgary.  I cannot help tomorrow or Wednesday.  We have thousands of Calgarians willing, able and eager to take my place.  Be one of them.

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Pride in Community.

by Mark Zaugg 28. April 2013 01:18

I should have clued in a lot earlier in the day that it was going to be one of those days that was something special.  I really need to remember the entire week was a little magical, I just have to remember to look where I want to go.

I'm not going to wax all that poetic, this is a business lunch blog.  In fact, I'm starting at the end.

"I didn't realize you were involved with the Lions" says Naheed.

"I didn't either."

I don't entirely know why not.  Service clubs play a crucial role world-wide in getting good things accomplished.  Seems to me they were once the staple, and I felt like they were falling a little out of fashion amoung my generation.  I think I'm far past due at least getting somewhat in touch.

I got to meet Tony Tighe tonight as well.  Just for the record, meeting the mayor is pretty blase as far as my kids are concerned, but meeting Tony Tighe?  That's just about one of the coolest things ever.  It makes sense, they've watched him for as long as they can remember.  Meeting him in person, well of course he's as nice as you'd expect.  Granted, it helps to be in a room of awesome people.  There was a very high bar set in there tonight.

Going back a little earlier in the evening, I was felt a strong affiliation when Judge Stevenson described the Lions's drive for community service.  I really sensed I was surrounded by people who get stuff done.  Who make a real difference around them.  It felt good, and I want to keep things driving forward.

I told Mayor Nenshi that it was especially nice to meet up with him tonight of all nights.  I joke that he "ruined my life" from that of a quiet, unassuming complainer who did nothing to whatever this is that I've become lately.  Citizen that actually cares?  Calgarian who wants to make the world a little bit better?  Sure, it was always there, but it's only been the past three years or so where I've been able to say I've made a consistent, intentioned effort to do something positive.  But on a night dedicated to those who really do something good in the community, it was awfully nice to see a friend who inspired me to be more targeted and overt in my actions.  I don't meet their standard, but I aspire to do more.

And on the topic of friends, my friend Nargis Dossa became a grandmother today!  It made the day just a little more special to have shared celebrating such a wonderful moment in life.  I met Nargis during the last civic election, I'm pleased to say we've remained friends and I'm extremely pleased to work with her on her campaign this year.  She's been a positive influence around me, a joy to talk with and I have to thank her a thousand times for making me her guest tonight and introducing me to such an amazing group of dedicated people.

Oh, and the music.  The McKenna Family Quintet were captivating.  If you really know me, you know I love music above just about everything and they were terrific.  They are so incredibly lucky to be able to play alongside each other on stage and just perform beautifully.  I was incredibly lucky to be able to hear it.  I enjoyed it very much, the night would not have been anywhere near as magical without them participating.

Which puts me back to walking into the Polish Canadian Cultural Centre and all the great memories of the visits there with Mom.  I missed her very much and had to take a breath or three to compose myself.  It is a place for good memories, tonight added to them significantly.

Before that, the community clean up, getting the community association's computer back on it's feet.  A day of doing good.  A day of accomplishment.  A very special, important day.

Thanks to Nargis, to Naheed, to Tony and to the Lions for letting me sit in on such an amazing night of recognition for such amazing people.  I simply must figure out how to fold them in with my life.  I feel like I'm a better guy today than I was yesterday.

Tomorrow's going to be cool too.  At some point in the day tomorrow I'm going to figure out how to apply what I learned today.

A day of AUGH!

by Mark Zaugg 23. April 2013 01:11

The longer today goes on, the odder it's become.

It started off fantastic with a beautiful ride into downtown on Earth Day.  No one can take that away.

I explored and learned a small ton of awesome stuff at work.  Load balancing?  Yes, please.  I'm more than ready to take it on.

Tonight I got invited to a ContainR update.    This is beyond cool, they're trying to create the most amazing space imaginable in an otherwise fenced off, vacant lot.  Amazing.

And then I come home to bad news, loads of frustrations and anguish.  Seriously?  It just isn't worth it.

Out of my frustration of everything that seems to be wrong, seems to be slimy behind the scenes, everything that stands entirely against my beliefs and principles...  Then:

"you signed up to do a Jane's Walk, you are engaged, you care, you...."

"The sun has recently set, dusk has past, night shall pass, and the sun will rise again. Tomorrow. Relax and sleep well."

"I’m wearing pants, for the sake of world peace."

Some days the world doesn't make sense.  At the end of the day, you're going to find me standing beside those that wear their hearts on their sleeves.  I'll be standing beside those that will say, "I disagree with you, I think you're wrong.  But I'll debate you openly."

I'll be standing with those that say, "We can do something better.  We can create something amazing out of something that would otherwise be rejected.  Together we can make something that has intrinsic value where there was no value before."

Anyone can destroy.  I'm putting my effort into people determined to create something better.  But first, I'm going to relax.  Hopefully sleep well.

Tomorrow I'll create something good.  Then I'll ride my bike to Kensington and look at a little triangle of land at lunch.  Perhaps I'll even buy lunch from someplace along the way.

Life is amazing when you take the time to notice what actually matters.

Dark Skies, Safe Streets.

by Mark Zaugg 9. April 2013 10:08

I'm a man of many passions.  I very much enjoy staying busy and having a finger in a lot of pies.  (I like pie.)

Some of my passions make complete sense.  I'm a geek.  I love technology, computers and gadgets.  I love throwing a network together and making things work.

Some of my passions take a moment to think about, but suddenly make sense.  I love astronomy, I love space exploration and I love astrophysics.  Yes, I'm a geek - I got it from my Dad and once my kids demonstrated the gene I jumped right back in with both feet.

Some of my passions take a little longer to explain.  I'm Blockwatch director - (Community Safety) for my neighbourhood.  Just as I love throwing a network together and getting all the pieces talking with each other, I have found a joy in building a community and having the members be excited about creating something a little better than the way things were the day before.

Winding up my neighbourhood Blockwatch program has been fascinating as the official Calgary Blockwatch program has wound down.  It has lead to some bumps along the way - eventually we're going to have to choose a better name.  But the need for a safe neighbourhood hasn't gone away.  The need for a good interaction with the Calgary Police hasn't gone away.  We simply need to find better ways to engage, involve and excite each other.

And let me diverge just a moment to the police.  I am far from a "Law and Order" kind of guy.  But let me be completely clear, the officers I have worked with have been exceptional across the board.  It has very much affected my view of policing and I want to  carry that experience in a bucket and dump it on anyone who doubts we have great people policing in Calgary.

It was at one of our meetings at the District 4 office that we got discussing the light pollution guidelines that were adopted yesterday.  It's not very often my passions collide so wonderfully.

One of the concerns stated was that city hall was bound and determined to turn off the lights in Calgary.  Perhaps a little gleefully, I jumped in and started correcting misconceptions.

Back in the 1980's Calgary began to change our attitude towards lighting and light pollution.  We began installing sodium vapour lighting with shields that directed light downwards onto the streets.  The light was put where it was needed, not glaring up into the sky.  The difference was noticeable.  The skies turned from a whitish haze to a glowing orange.  When I went down to the US for a year I got to experience just how much better Calgary's lighting was compared with other cities.  Calgary has very good coverage, and our attempts to direct the light down to the roadway meant less glare in the skies and more light on the streets themselves.  It was much better than one blaring bulb on a corner expected to provide light for the entire block.  I hope it's changed for them, even so I'm confident Calgary's example lead the way.

The very status of lighting that was being passionately supported actually came from the redesign of our streetlights 30 years ago.  It was accepted as a great status quo and something that shouldn't be changed.

That is precisely why the new guidelines spearheaded by Brian Pincott are so valuable to Calgary going forward.  It is very much the next needed step for lighting in Calgary.

The guidelines do not target the light on the streets, it is specifically focussed on putting the light precisely where we want light to be.  It will retain well lit, safe streets.  It is aimed to keeping our neighbourhoods safe and navigable at night.  But it keeps the light down where it's needed, not glaring everywhere.

Anyone can go out and notice the difference the sodium halide lights have made.  Go out tonight and look around the city.  Observe the orange glow and try to spot a white lamp amongst them.  The white will instantly catch your eye, it will likely be unshielded, and it is simply wasted energy putting light to where you're standing instead of getting the light where it was intended.  The new guidelines are all about getting proper lighting and instead of spreading it everywhere focussing it properly.

The benefits usually get shrunken down to, "The astronomers love it."  Yes, yes we do.  The wildlife appreciates it as well, as does any of us that sleep better without a light glaring through our bedroom windows. 

There are many more clear benefits that every citizen experiences.  The biggest is that more efficient lighting saves us a boat load of money.  Putting light in one direction and not 360 degrees of coverage inherently makes sense - it also means you can significantly reduce the power needed to light the streets.  Lower wattages also means more efficient bulbs at lower temperatures and that brings about longer bulb life with less need to replace them.  More savings, and more safety because there is less downtime when a bulb burns out!

This is truly a good thing.

One last thing to note, the photo Chris Hadfield took over Calgary at night has been mentioned many times over.  It's so pretty but it's so bright!  Oh dear, will we lose such beautiful views?

Probably not, to be honest.  What we will lose is the bright glare going directly to space.  The view we will keep is the reflected light bounced from the ground.  Nose Hill park will remain dark because there aren't many lights at all up there.  It's a little tough to spot the glare because there are clouds in the photo, but the white glare of concentrated, unfocused lights are really what we want to lose.  If you share my desire to someday go into space, our view will be very similar to Chris's - perhaps a little clearer and without as much bright glare being a distraction.

Our city's new regulations are nothing but good for our safety, our streets, our wildlife, ourselves and our pocket books.  This is a great move forward.

Youth Resources in Calgary - #BetterYYC

by Mark Zaugg 16. August 2012 12:18

Here is another post which will likely never be complete.  I'm clearly past my youth, so I encourage you to add your own suggestions because I know I've missed dozens if not hundreds of ways to make Calgary better for the people who will be our next crop of leaders.  This is a bit of a mixed bag because I'm going to use a very broad definition of youth.

Youth Central aims to involve youth in all aspects of our community, while at the same time ensuring we fully value what our youth have to offer. 
Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary Linking youth with mentors, they do a fantastic job bridging generations.
Just to say the United Way is too shallow.  I know they just had their Youth Career Fair and I know they are involved with the LEAP project.  The United Way has a rich legacy of positive youth programs.
Servants Anonymous Society I am a little distant from Servants Anonymous, but have encountered them indirectly from some amazing work that they've provided.  Women suffering from (or at risk of) sexual exploitation really need Servants Anonymous.
Wood's Homes  They've been the go to for youth help in Calgary, well, since 1914.  That's amazing.
Kids Up Front Calgary They are all about getting kids out to enjoy the culture of Calgary, from sports to drama.  We want everyone to feel connected to Calgary.
The City of Calgary Youth Employment Centre  And you thought I stopped at your Stampede Breakfast just for the food?  The Youth Employment Centre is all about making that jump from school to a valuable career.
Calgary Youth Science Fair  Science is close to my heart, the Youth Science Fair passes that love of questing for knowledge to others.
Youth Link Calgary Online safety from the Calgary Police Service.  I'm an internet guy by default and I still learn.
YMCA of Calgary - Special note for their Kids in Motion Food drive happening today, Aug 16, 2012 in my own neighbourhood.
YWCA of Calgary - They help create a healthy environment for children and families across the board.
USAY Calgary  They help guide our aboriginal youth to become the strong, capable leaders into the future.

Have I covered it?  Not a chance!  Add your own below.

Seniors' Resources in Calgary - #BetterYYC

by Mark Zaugg 15. August 2012 11:22

Like yesterday's post, this is intended to be a compilation of organizations and charities which work to serve Seniors in Calgary.  This list cannot be comprehensive because there are so many groups trying to make life better for the great seniors with us.

Please add your own in the comments, I suspect this could be a list many, many pages long.  A few I considered off the top of my head:

Calgary Seniors' Resource Society - Frankly, I think I could just go through their site, but that would be cheating.  Go there first to find a more comprehensive list of resources for seniors.
Meals on Wheels - I can't ever remember a time without Meals on Wheels, in my mind they're the model of an organization designed to make things a little bit better.
Volunteer Calgary - Yes, I could list them in every category, but they find specific ways to get involved and make a difference for people.
Kerby Centre - The Kerby Centre has everything for seniors I can imagine.  They have to be considered one of the first stops on your trip in finding out how to help a senior.
Calgary Public Library - Search their services offered specifically for seniors and you'll discover a whole world of awesome programs.  Once more, they're a source of information, but also a destination to make life better.

My community (Albert Park / Radisson Heights) offers a seniors' breakfast every third Thursday of the month.  I'm certain Grace Baptist Church offers seniors services as well.  As part of my Blockwatch program, I'm offering Snow Angel service for our community's seniors.  There are dozens if not hundreds more listings that deserve to be on this page.  Please add your favourite and help me out.

Homelessness Resources in Calgary - #BetterYYC

by Mark Zaugg 14. August 2012 11:05

This is by no means an official registry, but rather than just ephemerally listing them on twitter, why not create a list of homeless resources in Calgary we can find in a hurry?

In no particular order, these are the ones I know and try to support.  Any others that I find listed on Twitter will be added, or add them in comments please.  It doesn't have to be a comprehensive listing, it just needs to be something better.

Inn From The Cold - They work with family homelessness in downtown Calgary and in "Community Inns" around the city.  I'm very proud of Gerry, one of my curling buddies, who volunteers with them regularly.

The Mustard Seed - "The Mustard Seed collaborates with the church and the community to provide basic services, employment assistance and housing.  Together these programs and services work to bring men and women from hardship and despair to a place of independence and hope."

The Homeless Hub - The Homeless Hub is a cross-Canada portal compiling information on homelessness.  This post is a small shadow, meant to list resources available in Calgary.

United Way - The United Way is an umbrella organization, in this post I am specifically referencing the programs they use to support youth homelessness.

Calgary Homeless Foundation - They have been working on Calgary's 10 year plan to end homelessness.  My personal connection was they were founded by Art Smith, who I knew personally and inspired me in high school.  Their outgoing CEO is Tim Richter, a man who inspires me today, who has in turn moved to the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

I know very well that there are dozens of other organizations working together to improve their own section of Calgary.  I don't know them all, how about helping out by adding them so we can all access the appropriate channel to help the people around us?





Unwanted flyers are starting to burn my butt..

by Mark Zaugg 9. August 2012 19:40

To:  xxxxx@calflyerforce.com

cc: xxxxxxx@calgaryherald.com

Subj: Stop delivering to my home!


My name is Mark Zaugg, I live at <redacted>.

I have an 8.5 x 11" sign that says "No Flyers" at my front door.  It replaces the 4x6" sign that said "No Flyers Please" at my front door.


Still I continue to have flyers and Neighbours delivered.  I have no recepticle for flyers, so they litter my balcony, my porch, my lawn, my neighbours lawn when the wind blows, my entire block when the wind blows hard and I'm tired of cleaning up your unwanted litter that's been left behind.

Please stop!

I have confronted two delivery people and told them I am not interested in getting Neighbours or flyers of any sort.  I have been wasting my breath because I am still getting unwanted junk.


I have tried to be patient and polite, but I am rapidly losing my patience under the mounds of unwanted debris and detritus that goes straight to recycling without being read.  Assuming I haven't chased it across half the entire neighbourhood first.


Show a little respect to my sign, show a little respect to me, show a little decency to my neighbourhood and a little understanding of my view of the wasted resources involved in producing and distributing unwanted and unread advertisements.

Barring that, please show respect to your advertisers by informing them that I actively avoid any business that, through their own action or yours, leaves unwanted advertising and flyers on my porch.  The ignorance displayed by your delivery people is directly costing them business.

Have I been clear?

  - Mark

People with problems with Alberta MEP

by Mark Zaugg 24. July 2012 22:35

I received a wonderful email today from a contributor to the conversation here at my blog.


"I have started a website page and facebook page looking for stories from others who have problems dealing with Alberta MEP. The website is problemswithalbertamep.webs.com/ and the facebook page is issues with albertamep. Would appreciate these being posted on your website. It would be very greatly appreciated. Thanks so much in advance.


It has only just begun, but I have joined tonight and intend to be an active, contributing member.  Please, if you have experienced problems with the Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program and would like to see the entire program improved to be a respectful, effective organization go join and let's start the discussion on how to make things better for all of us.

Commuting along 9 Avenue SE

by Mark Zaugg 11. July 2012 00:34

I travel back and forth on 9th Avenue SE through Inglewood at least five days a week.  Four of those five days I usually cycle, Fridays I typically drive.  I tend to have pretty firm views on what works with the bus / bike lanes that were put in this past year.

In the winter when the lanes were first put in, I was one of the few riding a bike along 9 Ave.  With spring more riders joined me and as we've reached summer the number of cyclists is noticeably higher.  I'm quite confident in my bicycle and my cycling gear (such as my mirror and lights) that I feel comfortable commuting along the road.  I feel happier that the bus / bike lane has been set up which enables me to travel at higher speeds while cycling and I feel a higher confidence with bus drivers in my lane than the general public.

On Fridays while I drive, it is an annoyance that I have to stick to the left hand lane only.  Traffic does clog up when line-ups form behind drivers turning left.  I'll explain more very soon.  When I drive I stay strictly in the left lane and wait behind turning traffic.

I'm going to display my trip into the Beltline through photos and my trip out of the downtown in video.  Today traffic was lighter than average, and as it was taken during Stampede I'm feeling a little more forgiving with out of town traffic, particularly around the Stampede Grounds.  I wish to add, my general feeling is that my ride into work is usually safer and less conflict driven than my ride home, although today that was certainly reversed.

I should also mention that this post was instigated by what I consider deplorable driving behaviour on Monday during my ride home.  So much that I actually created an account and reported the offending vehicle on mybikelane.com.  While I am mounted on my bike I am considered a vehicle and I'm entitled to "take the lane" - and even encouraged to do so to discourage cars from passing when it is unsafe.  With the bus / bike lane set up on 9 Avenue SE, only buses and bicycles are entitled to be in the right lane westbound from 7:00 am to 8:30 am and eastbound from 3:30 pm until 6:00 pm.  The only exception is made for vehicles turning right immediately at the next intersection.  There is no excuse whatsoever for a motorist to follow me along the length of 9 Avenue SE.

I generally consider 9 Ave a pretty safe, quick and effective route for me to commute to work and home.  It's direct and reasonably efficient whether I'm cycling or driving.  There are a couple of dangerous areas where I try to be extra vigilant, but for the most part I feel I can ride quite safely.  Let me guide you riding into downtown, westbound along 9 Avenue starting at 7:59 in the morning.

Let's start at the funky corner where 17 Ave SE and 15 St SE meet at 9 Ave SE.

All the vehicles in the right lane on 17 Ave must merge to the left lane once they turn onto 9 Ave.  Usually drivers will swing to the right lane to avoid potentially queuing behind vehicles turning left, but being in the right lane is probably not a problem at this point.  Early in the spring I think there was a temporary sign placed at this location.  Drivers probably ought to know better by now, but advance warning is never a bad idea.

The van behind the bus ahead turned right at the next intersection.  Otherwise an uneventful ride to 12 Street.

The vehicles shown here had all turned from northbound 12 Street to westbound 9 Avenue.  Three vehicles are clearly visible having changed lanes into the bus / bike lane ahead while I was waiting to cross at the red light.

These are vehicles number 5 and 6 driving in the bus / bike lane, I was still waiting at the red light at this point.

Vehicles #7 (the black truck, ahead of the sedan) and #8 the white sedan itself.  At this point I realized I did not demonstrate the left turn onto 11 Street so I circled around the block, dismounted and took pictures from a good vantage point.

The Mustang is about to turn left, you can see two more vehicles in the wrong lane ahead bringing the new count to 10.

The truck is #11.

The white truck was blocked from turning left by oncoming traffic.  You can observe three vehicles passing on the right, total is 14.

The queued cars begin to peel around the blocked truck.  The black coupe is vehicle 15.

The two black SUV's are #16 and #17.

The sedan is #18.

The truck clears the intersection, the Volvo is #19.

Vehicles #20 and #21.  I always get extra annoyed when cabbies and other professional drivers drive in the improper lane.  I expect them to be professional and particularly courteous with their driving.

Vehicle 22 was also a taxi.

Vehicles #23 and #24.  I will give them credit for stopping for a pedestrian crossing signal.

Vehicles 25, 26 and 27.  This photo was taken at 8:09, so exactly 10 minutes after I began riding along 9 Ave.  I'm very disappointed with the high numbers of drivers violating the bus / bike lane.

Rather than subject you to continuous photos, I want to demonstrate why swinging into the bus / bike lane is truly a dangerous problem along 9 Avenue.

This is a bicycle courier riding safely in his lane.  As traffic swings around left-turning vehicles they come directly into his lane, sometimes courteously, sometimes with no thought to bicycles possibly being in that lane.  I personally would feel comfortable with the space that SUV gave the cyclist, but clearly not all cyclists are.  Subsequent vehicles passing the courier did not give him as much room, a problem on a regular road but this is a literal crime when the vehicles have no right to be in that lane whatsoever.

I wish to address enforcement as well.  When I posted the photo of the horrible driver on calgary.mybikelane.com several other cyclists mentioned a lack of enforcement by the police along 9 Avenue.  I do not criticize the Calgary Police Service here.  I see them pulling over drivers on a regular basis.  I give a tap on my helmet to them whenever I ride past.  It's not perfect enforcement and I don't see them daily, but I've seen boneheaded drivers lined up along a side road waiting for their turn to discuss their infraction with an officer.  Drivers' attitudes have to change, I'd like to think they slowly are.  I'd hope that mine have.

When I drive, I don't stay in the left lane because I'm a saint.  I stay there because 80 percent of the time I feel vulnerable, particularly to drivers swinging into my lane to go around other vehicles.

In all honesty, I had no idea it would be so bad this morning.  I don't feel this was a typical day, but the photos don't lie.  The real point I set out to make this morning is in the following photos.  It displays what I consider to be the riskiest part of 9 Avenue for bicycles and cars to coexist and quite possibly the most difficult section to solve.  The actual bus / bike lane ends at 9 Avenue and 9 Street SE.  I've been stopped by another cyclist who asked where it ended, the only real indication is the subtle "ENDS 08:30" on the sign.

Traffic past 9 Street turns left onto 8 Street and into Ramsay.  Traffic was too light today, but when a train is crossing or traffic loads are heavy, the traffic will back up in both lanes well past 9 Street forcing drivers who wish to continue straight into the right lane or risk getting trapped in the left turn lane when discourteous drivers refuse to let them safely merge right.

This poor guy did everything right up to 9 Street, then had six drivers pass him on the right before anyone would let him in.  This is where things get tricky because 9 Avenue may not be wide enough to adapt.  We're forcing drivers to merge right within the length of one block while traffic regularly backs up for two blocks at that point.  Vehicles need space to manouver safely, cyclists need safe passage with vehicles moving over on them.

A lesser problem is that the pavement gets pretty chewed up at this intersection, right where cyclists are expected to ride.  My suggestion is this is a good section to take the lane outright.  I understand that takes some guts and a lot of visibility to do and it isn't for everyone, but the average commuter cyclist can travel at roughly the same speed as the traffic along this block until the pathway opens up in front of the Deane House.

My ideal scenario would be to actually end the bus / bike lane one block earlier.  That would give drivers more time to respond and safely merge to the right to cross the 9 Avenue Bridge.  To keep cyclists safer I'd try to extend the marked bike lane that's west of the bridge to the east side as well, giving cyclists a clear and safe path of their own along the road.  I don't know if there's space, but it would make that section of the road so much less aggravating to me as a driver and so much more safe as a cyclist.

To end off, I'll take you along with me on a ride home.


Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.


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