Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Adventures in dog-sitting and bicycle commuting

Ok, two anecdotes about recent activities. Ok, one is an anecdote and the other is a sad commentary on bicycle commuting in this town.

I dog-sat for my advisor's pooch this weekend while he was at a "warm climates workshop." Remind me another time to tell his anecdote (ok, not an anecdote, but a frightening fact) about arctic warming. He has an affectionate, sweet and enthusiastic (if somewhat neurotic) German Shepard who goes by various names, but we'll go with LD (little dog - think "Little John"). In the past, LD doesn't let you sleep in much, but I thought I had it all figured out. After he goes out first thing, pull the covers over my head when he comes back in. On first pass, he couldn't stick his nose in my face and lick me. So, instead, he walked around and jumped on the bed and proceeded to bat at the back of my head (still under the covers) until I couldn't take it anymore. I think he thought I was dead. So I didn't sleep in Saturday morning. The best part of this was while explaining this story to Sarah, Dai came back to the dinner table mid-story, looked confused and said, "Do we need to have a conversation about the kinds of people you should date?"

In other news, while sitting at the stoplight today at Bay and Mission, the cyclist in front of me turned around, gave me a nod, and then asked me if I'd seen the accident. "What accident?" I said. Apparently, a cyclist was killed early today at that intersection by a quarry truck. Same place as a fatal accident about a year ago, and the scene of many a non-fatal accident. What I find weird is that Santa Cruz is such a "bike friendly" town. The climate is great for it, bike lanes everywhere, campus and local public transportation do a great job of moving bikes, so you can at least ride downhill home (even if you don't want to climb up the marine terraces TO school). But everyone I know can name at least one occasion where they've nearly been hit and know of at least two people who HAVE been hit. I can think of three folks in our department alone who have been hit by cars, as well as my housemate. So, this prompted a conversation about how to make drivers more aware of cyclists, and our own personal lists of suspicious and neurotic behaviors that have developed as a result of mistrust of drivers. Do we make the whole process of being able to drive, harder (ie, driving is a privilege, not a right)? Do we make all drivers spend at least one day on the road in a bicycle so they know what it is like on the flip side? Do we all install giant compressed air horns on our bikes to let them know what we think when we are nearly flattened?

7 comments:

Fault Rocks said...

jeeebus ike! too bad you can't bottle and sell whatever is wrong with that dog. somebody make your advisor adopt a mature dog from the pound next time!! tell the ice story!

MichaM said...

Sadly, I don't think the bicycle awarness issue is local to Santa Cruz. Tucson is considered bike friendly as well, lanes everywhere, etc., but we have the same issues. Lots of drivers who don't seem to actually know where their vehicle ends and the rest of the world begins. I think it is largely about education...and consequences for flattening riders. Most of the time drivers are completely let off if the hit (and maybe even kill) a cyclist. Messed up.

kes said...

CRowe - Give me a few days to look up some more info on the ice. I'd had to paraphrase something Paul paraphrased from someone else....

Micha - yeah, the bit about consequences. My housemate told a story about a cyclist who rode onto the sidewalk downtown to avoid a pickup that was clearly gunning for him. After the police looked into it, they let the driver off and gave the cyclist a ticket for riding on the sidewalk. Hmm.

Sarah said...

I'm all for cyclists. However, I take issue with the cyclists that ride at dawn/dusk and night with no lights and often dark colored clothing to boot! Are they asking to get hit??

kes said...

Seems fair to take them to task. But it is true that at least they're only going to get themselves killed, right? No, we have plenty of stupid cyclists in this town. However, the folks I know who've gotten hit weren't doing anything wrong. Mostly an issue with cars turning.

Anonymous said...

hi katie - crowe suggested i read your ike story - sounds par for the course! i am currently dealing with a neurotic dog of my own, dingo dog (dd?) has decided i am his savior after 3 years of loneliness, which means even a moment of separation is too much... i was optimistic that i could be replaced during the day by a stuffed, squeeky hedgehog, but this has not been the case. hmm. speaking of which, when are you going come out to the prairie to meet him? -kena

kes said...

Well I'd love to meet him, but I don't know when I'll get out there. Maybe once you get to Washington. I hear that Paul is on his way out there, though, and I will again be the steward of the German Shepard insanity while he's out visiting you all....