Motorcycle

Every motorcyclist knows them: those traffic lights that remain red until a car or truck triggers a green phase. They have sensors embedded in the road surface - you can usually see them as circles or octagons covered in tar. The idea is that it's pointless to turn a light green unless there is actually someone on the road to take advantage of that green.

Well, my sense is that those sensors are relatively old - I'd say from the 80s and maybe 90s. I guess at the time, they seemed a good idea. Nowadays, though, two-wheeled traffic is increasing and these sensors cause real problems.

Cyclists do mostly fine, since they can step off and push the pedestrian buttons on the side of the road. That solution is not perfect, of course, since it requires one to get off the road onto the sidewalk. Also, this doesn't work where pedestrian traffic doesn't go the way of road traffic. For instance, if the cyclist wants to turn left, instead of waiting for a green on the left arrow, (s)he may have to cross the intersection in two tries.

For motorcyclists, the problem is much bigger. First, we cannot simply leave the bike on the road while we push a button, nor can we ride the bike onto the sidewalk. Second, walking the bike across the pedestrian walkway is just not feasible.

Read more: Forever Red: What to do at stop lights that don't change

It used to be the case that I could ride for about 230 miles before I started thinking about buying new gas, but ever since I returned from Hawai`i, it's been only just about half as much and I am wondering what caused the change.

At first, I thought it might be tire pressure (although even on bare rims I should be able to do more than that). I went to the gas station down the hill, who had air but no pressure gauge, and added a little. It made a huge difference: the bike got all bouncy, like a racing cycle fresh from the shop! 

Read more: Mileage

I had parked the bike at a motorcycle parking spot to go to the barber. James buzzed my hair shorter than usual, making me look about 15 years younger (I was actually carded for the first time in many years!). I get back to the bike, and the bag is flying up straight. I circle the bike trying to find out what happened, and a guy comes out of the store behind it. He tells me the bike flipped over, and that he and someone else lifted it back up.

At that point, I already assumed there had to be something wrong. Motorcycles usually don't fall off like that, and it takes quite a push to throw a 600 over. I circle once more, and just when I am about to decide everything is fine, there it is: the footrest broke in two. Fortunately the outer part is small, but it's really annoying that someone would cause that kind of problem and then simply run away.

Now I know why my insurance treated me to a $1000 estimate for yearly comprehensive! 

When I jumped on the motorbike yesterday morning, I realized I had left the key in the ignition, with the lights turned on. As I twisted the key back and forth I had to witness how my once roaring bike had gone numb on me. There was no way to coax the purring engine into doing anything other than being a cold block of cast iron.

At least, I knew what it was... I left in my car to help Elizabeth move, returning some time in the late afternoon. Then it was time to get the starter cable and the instruction manual out. I would repair the battery myself. (Btw: did anyone notice how weird it sounds when someone files battery charges???)

Read more: Running Out of Juice...

{moszoomimglink:Crystal Springs Reservoir - San Andreas fault}I decided on a whim to ride down 280 instead of the more obvious choice, 101. It's a much more beautiful ride, but it entails a 15 minute rush through Menlo Park, which is book-ended by the two freeways.

It was a gorgeous day; maybe a little chilly, especially considering it is almost April. The sides of the freeway were that lush green that happens only for a few weeks every year, and no fog greeted me at the Half Moon Bay gap. Traffic was mostly light, getting congested only where three or more cars would go up a hill in parallel, slowing down everybody behind them.

This has no point other than reminding myself of just how beautiful that ride is - possibly one of the most beautiful freeway rides in the world. 

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