LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along
The MUT is a dog
So, I was riding to racquetball the other day, and I had just turned from Wakarusa onto Clinton Parkway when the impatient driver of the car that had turned behind me roared past.
He gestured frantically toward, I assume, the multi-use trail (aka the MUT, the bike-n-hike, the bike path or, simply, that wide sidewalk that runs on either side of Clinton Parkway) and screamed, “GET OFF THE $%&ING ROAD, #$$^#*@!”
A couple of hours later, as I was riding home on the MUT, I came up behind a man and a woman walking a dog. I didn’t want to startle them, and nearby traffic was loud enough to prevent them from hearing my approach, so I slowed to a crawl, waited for the din to pass, then politely said, “Pardon me.”
The woman glanced up and snarled, “You can go around.”
I said that’s what I was trying to do.
She glared, but yielded a couple of inches for me to pass.
The dog nipped at me as I went by, and I thought the two same-day instances fitting for my feelings about the MUT. Walkers, runners and inline skaters don’t want bikes on the MUT, but cars don’t want bikes on the road.
In theory, the path is a nice idea. It provides a traffic-free place for the self-propelled to self-propel.
Trouble is, it’s not so traffic-free, especially along Clinton Parkway, where the MUT intersects with streets, driveways and parking lots nearly every block.
And I’ve had more near-death experiences at those zones of interaction than any place I’ve shared the road.
Part of the problem is, I never can decide on which side to ride.
On the road, legally I have to ride with traffic as far as practicable to the right (whatever that means). On the MUT, however, I’ve ridden on the right-hand path (with traffic) and the left (against it), and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Riding to the right seems most like riding in the road, but too often a car will pass on the street and turn right across the path. It’s almost as if the cyclist has ridden into the driver’s blind spot, and sometimes there just isn’t time to react.
Riding to the left makes cyclists more visible to oncoming traffic, but I don’t think drivers are used to seeing oncoming traffic to their left and right.
That said, I see the MUT as something of a necessary evil, especially on the stretch of Clinton Parkway from Iowa to Wakarusa. The road is 45 mph and narrow, with a median instead of a suicide turn lane in the center to allow leeway for passing cars.
So I jump, reluctantly, on the MUT and hope for the best — keeping my fingers on the brake levers the whole time.