Posted by: Karen | October 16, 2010

Bike Path Puzzles

It’s fun to puzzle over road markings seen while cycling. Casual cyclists see stuff that drivers don’t, and they usually get to cover more distance in an outing than runners do.

This summer some duct tape markings appeared on my bike path (NE Calgary) and it took me a couple of weeks to figure them out. I finally realized someone had marked out a 10k out & back distance, but it was cryptic. There was a beginning line, then a 1 , then a 25 with a smiley face, then 5k! Once I realized 25 was more likely 2.5 km it made sense.

That duct-tape route has a big nasty hole in it now, as the City has torn it up while they dig a new drainage pond next to the creek. There are ways around it – the official route takes riders up the very vertical 6th hill, which actually cuts 4k off my scenic easy route and gets me to work 5 minutes faster. If riders don’t want to tackle the monster-hill there is a nerve-wracking dirt single track mere inches from the curb of a busy 4-lane industrial road for one long, curving block. Sometimes I have talked myself through riding it – sometimes I don’t. At least the long grasses along the dirt path are now mowed and don’t grab my pedals.

There has been a directional drilling truck and monstrous, vehicle-sized spools of wire out along a secluded stretch of the NE pathway much of this fall. The truck was preceded by lots of surveyor’s paint with dotted lines crisscrossing the paved path. At first I thought the surveyors were marking more pathway (de)construction, but later I decided that they are drilling wiring under the pathway. I don’t know why, but I hope it’s for lighting up that dark section. I haven’t seen any light poles yet, but there are some strategically-placed holes, so I have hope.

It’s been steadily getting darker on my morning commutes. I wear reflective clothing and have reflectors on my bike, but don’t have bike lights installed yet. Early last spring I affixed my running headlamp to the top of my helmet, but it was awkward to use. Recently I’ve realized that my head lamp fits comfortably under my helmet, and I’m loving it. I set the back to flash red and have experimented with solid white or flashing white in the front. When the ride is only semi-dark I use the flasher to make myself more visible, as I don’t need the light to see the path. As it’s been getting darker I’m finding the flasher distracting and so I just keep it lit steady to actually see the path.

Confession of an inner blonde: the first morning I rode the path wearing my flashing white headlamp I noticed how some approaching riders had really cool flashing jackets. Nifty! I didn’t know you could buy jackets that flashed light like that! Then I realized that their jackets were just lighting up intermittently as the light from my lamp reflected back at me. Duh.



  1. Oh Karen, you’re such a cute inner blonde. I laughed out loud reading about the flashing jackets of your colleague-commuters!, loved it.

  2. Good one! XOX


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