Sunday, January 23, 2011

Those Hardy Souls

Atlanta has a reputation for being, well, kind of wimpy about winter weather. But I haven't really seen that, especially among Atlanta's non-motorized crowd. By wednesday, when the roads were still slick with sheets of ice and my office remained closed, there were still people riding down the street. I was out that day, walking to the grocery store.
By thursday, when schools were still closed and my office opened 2 hours late (with co-workers trickling in hours later), the bicycles were still rolling. Everyone who could get out of their driveway just wanted to be out, in fresh air and sunshine!

The cabin fever reached a crescendo on sunday afternoon, as the temperature soared to almost 50 F and the roads became almost completely passable. Young and old, spandexed and casual, I saw more people riding bicycles that day than I did on some of the finest days last autumn!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow and Ice and Everything Nice

As the whole world knows, we have had some epic weather here in Atlanta. It wasn't that much snow, and it wasn't one of those ice storms that knocks down every utility pole for 100 miles. But it was 4 inches of snow followed by freezing rain and then a deep freeze. In other words, it was a plow and salt situation, and Georgia owns very little of either. Any surface that was not cleared of snow on the first day became a treacherous patch of ice and semi-frozen slush. The whole region came to a standstill.
Snow and ice blanket a local park

My office was closed from monday through wednesday last week, and had a half day on thursday. Schools were closed for the entire week. Stores ran out of essential items like milk and snow shovels as delivery trucks failed to arrive (some trucks tried to get through and caused horrendous wrecks instead). Most businesses didn't open at all. The roads weren't closed, but they probably should have been.

Aside from the closings, though, I was marginally affected by all this. MARTA canceled all bus service but kept the trains running pretty reliably. So it took me 20 minutes to walk or slide to the station instead of 15...I could still go to most of the places I normally travel to as long as they were open. On monday, I went sledding with my neighbors and then fell asleep while the Beau (now fiánce and co-habitant) went across town to see his family. On Tuesday, we cycled to the train station and rode it over to Decatur for drinks and dinner. 
Walking bikes to the station entrance
I didn't take any pictures on the road due to the slippery conditions. Honestly, we walked our bikes as much as we rode them! But it was good experience, learning how they would handle on the ice and goop. By friday, public authorities had covered almost every street with a thick mixture of gravel, dirt, and sand (but did nothing to clear sidewalks nor enforce statutes require property owners to clear them). It became feasible to get around by car, truck, or bicycle, but with new hazards from gravel patches and thick clumps of icy crud. That's a whole 'nother story, coming soon!
Our tire tracks remained frozen in the slush.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cycling Research Recap

I would like to direct everyone's attention across the pond to Munich, Germany. A great little blog there, Münchenierung, is offering a summary of some of the best research on urban cycling. He highlights half a dozen or so scientific articles about the benefits that bicycle transport brings to health, safety, and quality of life in cities. Check out the post!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Happy New Year! Good Solstice! Merry Winter Holiday of Your Personal Preference!

Personally, I have the most enthusiasm for the solstice, because it signals sunnier days to come. I am strongly affected by light (or the lack of light). I love lots of windows and time spent out of doors in the daylight. As daylight dwindles in the winter I find it harder to get out of bed into the dark morning and discouraging to go anywhere or do anything in the evening. The things that get me by are midday walks in sunlight, cheerful holiday lights, and the distant promise of spring and longer days ahead.

Vintage display bike hanging in the warm and happy Brickstore Pub
The past few weeks have been a big ol' winter hibernation blowout. Such a good time to huddle indoors with friends and food and drink. I work on an academic calendar, and the entire university shuts down for the week before New Year's, plus an extra holiday day or two. So I haven't been at my desk for the past, oh, 11 days or so. I stayed home and busted through an extensive project list, and didn't leave the house at all some days. Then there were holiday parties and family stuff, playing in the snow and trying to see the lunar eclipse, and finally and New Year's blowout weekend. I have had very little to blog about in this time, unless you are into rearranging furniture.

Now it's back to work, back to schedules and daily adventures. Back to posting. Once I find my camera, which I misplaced after a party...