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Horrific road detritus


Don’t get me wrong here: I don’t think I deserve a cookie of gratitude, nor am I lobbying for a Gus Goodguy Award, but I have been known to contribute to the upkeep of our fair city’s roadways.

It’s nothing major, mind you.

I’ve called in especially egregious potholes and reported malfunctioning street lights, and I’ve done my share of some light lifting when it comes to keeping the pavement clear of potentially dangerous detritus.

In some cases, the act is more altruistic than others. I’ve dragged several downed tree limbs to the side of the road, for instance, simply because it’s easier for me to throw the bike to the ground and move the offending wood than it would be for a passing motorist, for example, to park, get out, drag, get back in the car, drive off.

But most of the time, I’m a selfish bugger. Most of the hazards are hazardous to me, too, so by taking action I’m trying to save my own bacon. Or rubber. Occasionally, though, the act of removing the danger is just as dangerous as the hazard itself.

The other day, I was riding home from my son’s school when I looked down and saw a huge nail — seven inches or so long — in the one tiny stretch of bike lane on our regular ride. I didn’t want to toss it in the nearest yard — mowing shrapnel, doncha know — or kick it to the curb, so I scooped it up and rode the rest of the way home with it in my left hand.

At one point, I rose out of the saddle and noticed my left knee was coming precariously close to the nail’s business end. I thought about what might happen if I had wiped out — “Well, doc, I was riding with this metal spike, see, and crashed, which is why it’s protruding from my skull; won’t you please remove it?” — and decided maybe it wasn’t such a great idea.

Similarly, I encounter three box-knife blades on one of my regular commute routes, and short of carrying a sharps container with me, I can’t figure a good way to lug them home for a proper disposal.

Same deal with broken glass, which I’ve been known to sweep out of the middle of roads and paved paths to avoid dreaded flats.

In the spirit of the upcoming Halloween holiday, I’ve begun to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t plan ahead and incorporate some of the dangers into an on-bike costume.

Shove the blades through a leather glove, get a striped sweater and a hat and — voila! — Freddy Krueger.

A headband, a couple of splashes of fake blood and the aforementioned nail from hell could become the classic spike-through-the-head gag.

A handful of broken glass, especially the bottleneck, and I’m a mean drunk: “I’ll cut you man! I’ll cut you!”

Or scoop up a handful of the fasteners I find strewn all over our street, stick ’em in a thick rubber mask, zip up some black pleather and I’m Pinhead from the Hellraiser franchise.

Or I could continue to ride inappropriately with all manner of pointy things, suffer a simple crash, and I would be the Bloody Stupid Biker Who Doesn’t Have Sense Enough Not To Ride With Sharp Stuff.


Blessed4x 7 years, 8 months ago

It's very commendable of you to pick up the trash you see along your ride. I always taught my scouts to leave a place better than you found it. I think your cleaning consternation, though, is a fabrication for a good blog. Bring a plastic sack from the evil Wal-Mart along with you on your next ride. Tie it to your handle bar and fill it with trash to your hearts delight. Problem solved and I won't even charge you a fee since you're obviously concerned about others' enjoyment of an area as well as yourself. For that I applaud you. Happy trash collecting!

unrents 7 years, 8 months ago

My mother always said, "Promise you'll be careful!"

unrents 7 years, 8 months ago

If you feel this way, why do you bother to waste your time and energy to read it?

rolliepollie 7 years, 8 months ago

I didn't read it. I clicked on it based on the title, "Horrific Road Detritus," thinking it would be useful to read. When I saw what it was, I just scrolled down to read what others thought.

John Kyle 7 years, 8 months ago

It's a blog. I don't think they're wasting any ink on it. I enjoy quite a few of his articles.

parrothead8 7 years, 8 months ago

Right...because an ONLINE blog takes up so much "space" and "ink."

No more than your inane comments, anyway.

Jonathan Kealing 7 years, 8 months ago

Drew's blog is one of the most popular posts on our website. Enjoying thousands and thousands of hits every time Drew posts. So, while you may not like it, it has developed quite a following in Lawrence.

RoeDapple 7 years, 8 months ago

ba-dump-bump! That's tellin' them JK!

ranger73 7 years, 8 months ago

Uh-don't like it don't read it. You are not a lemming. Take the road less traveled. Or more traveled. Whatever. Don't know why the LJW wastes space and ink talking about the city commission but hey...Not much of a bike rider myself but the blogs are just a good read.

imzo2002 7 years, 8 months ago

I always park my car, get out and remove things that are dangerous to my car and cyclists. The roads are getting worse. As to this blog being a waste of time, I think not. Others might be encouraged to stop and help out by picking up a spike or a broken bottle.

walkthehawk 7 years, 8 months ago

I don't bike, but I totally agree with you re: detritus. We were driving around town this weekend and had a fair amount of broken glass in the lane of travel in two different intersections . . . is there someone officially tasked with cleaning up glass after a collision, or are we dependent on good samaritans such as yourself to take care of it?? don't get me wrong, I appreciate your sense of civic duty, but it the case of piles of glass on a busy street, it seems like the problem could be more easily addressed by the city than by individual citizens.

parrothead8 7 years, 8 months ago

I disagree. I think the problem could be most easily addressed by individual citizens...namely, the ones who left the detritus on the road in the first place.

cozy 7 years, 8 months ago

If so many read it, then why don't we have a Riding 101 or something where idiots can learn proper, acceptable ways of riding their bicycle through town. You want to whine and complain how people don't give you respect on the road, whatever, but the majority don't respect the rules of the road that vehicles AND bicycles have to abide by. Hello! You have to stop at stop signs, signal when changing a lane, signal to turn, etc. The other day I had a guy in front of me on a bicycle toward the right of the lane and all of a sudden, he just cuts over without hand signaling to get in the left turn lane and THEN looks to see if there was a car there. The most messed up part of it all was that if I hit him, then it would be MY fault just because they are on a bicycle and I'm in a car. Grrr.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 8 months ago

I really like this blog. Cycling is becoming a more important issue as it steps forward as a solution to many present and future problems: fossil fuel dependence, climate change, obesity, the high cost of road repair. The bicycle is about the most appropriate technology for near-home, in town transportation, exercise, and recreation. Ride on!

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