Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bicycling Crisis

The comment in the Citizen's Voice had it down pat, wondering why the state is offering Key West hundreds of thousands of dollars to study the state of cycling in the Southernmost City. It's a fair point.
The good news is the money is coming from Tallahassee as a grant, the bad news is it sounds insanely goofy to spend anyone's money to study bicycling in Key West. It's pretty obvious: narrow streets, no hills, no parking, great weather, lots of tourists, no bike paths. Thus Key West has the highest accident per capita rate for cyclists throughout Florida. There, can I have two hundred thousand dollars please? 
I don't think, as far as I can recall, that there is any Class One bicycle path in the city of Key West, unless you count the sidewalk along North Roosevelt which is a raised sidewalk with pedestrians and cyclists.  Not everyone is smart enough to use it:
Something like this exists nowhere in our congested city:
There are painted bike lanes on several streets, which makes then Class 2 lanes and they squeeze bicycles between parked cars with all the dangers of opening doors, and the traffic flowing past. Seen here on Fleming Street for instance:
Key West drivers are not the most cycle friendly you will come across either. There is a reason for that if you consider how narrow the streets are, how badly visitors ride, and how easy it is for cyclists to ignore traffic rules and thus piss off people in cars stopped at lights and signs. I find cycling in Old Town a tedious business which is why I rarely bring my bike to town anymore, as shown below:
I used to try  parking at work while using a bike rack to bring my bike from home. The trouble I found is that cycling is a high risk activity and not at all serene. I prefer to ride with a  motor or to walk.
There are tons of bike racks around Old Town.
Locking a bike to a tree or a city sign is technically illegal but you'd have to leave one there a long time, or block the sidewalk badly to get busted. But people do like to ride their bikes:
Bicycles in Key West are rarely used as status symbol and you will see most machines equipped with baskets and ridden by people in street clothes...
...which I find refreshing, as opposed to the spandex weekend warrior crowd who treat bicycles as sport, and whose attitude rarely seems designed to foster good relations with lazy neighbors powered by infernal combustion.
Riding two abreast isn't smart, let's face it, but I usually attribute it to thoughtlessness, not  malice:
Some cyclists stop at lights, which is nice.
And on the back streets I grant you a bike ride can be a serene and quiet way to get around, especially on those few times left in the year when the streets aren't crowded with cars.
Riding the wrong way down a one way is not legal even on a bicycle. And riding while drunk could get you a DUI conviction as well, which is worth noting.
 And it is legal to ride on the sidewalk in Florida as long as you yield to pedestrians. 
You don't need to own, you rent for well less than ten bucks per 24-hour day:
And a bike isn't limited to two wheels:
The thing is, to create better cycling conditions you'd need to make more one way streets which seems like a rational choice given how narrow some streets are but people lose their marbles every time motor traffic is limited in any way. I'm of the opinion that things won't change and one of the easiest ways to improve safety on the streets is to make traffic lights more responsive so running red lights becomes less appealing, then figure out how to stop people playing with their phones obsessively. And that alone will cost more than two hundred grand. The more things change the more they stay the same. A rule to live by in Key West.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Willie Ward Park

I just discovered they are letting dogs into Willie Ward park, a little pocket park on Catherine Street next to the community pool. It's named for Willie Ward, a civil rights leader, singer, radio host and press foreman at The Key West Citizen for many years according to the only record I've found about the man.
They used to have signs saying "No Dogs" and as I am a mostly law abiding type I kept myself and my dogs well out. These days there are no such prohibitions and I quite like Willie Ward so I was happy to lead Rusty to paradise found.
The pool is a peculiar structure,, raised well above ground which at certain angles gives swimmers views out to the Straits of Florida to the south:
And, lo and behold there are actual park benches in this city park. You don't see these very often in Key West and Willie Ward is covered with places to sit.
Some have the anti sleeping requirement of added armrests but not all.
Willie Ward is lush and green and shady and lovely. I have no idea why this  quiet little corner of Key West is  so ideal.
Every ointment has its  fly and there were a few residentially challenged citizens enjoying the serenity as happens in Key West. 
Rusty found them fascinating but for the most part they fill me with sadness. In this country poverty is frequently equated with some obscure moral failing but in my experience as a reporter and a dispatcher most homeless are suffering mental health issues,distant families and all the attendant de-motivators like drugs and alcohol.
I stopped reading Facebook as I got tired of the negativity and anger but hatred of the homeless keeps seeping into my consciousness when I hear people talk about the homeless as though they are on a  scam by not working. Would you hire him?
My overriding impression is that being homeless is profoundly boring. That and the fact that work gives you a place in society, a purpose and a role. I  recall the plan to save money by closing mental health hospitals and this is the result. Tax money saved, parks filled with zombies.  You get your money's worth.
Then there are dog owners in the park. Or at least this one was hanging out. His  little rug rats were what had attracted my butch masculine dog's attention, not the homeless zombies.
It's a pretty well laid out park...
...barbecue grills....
...the blessing of recycling bins even:
None of which was enough to convince the dogs to stay longer and off they buzzed. 
Lots of rules, none of which mention motor vehicles but I can't imagine scooters are encouraged to be in the park, even those ridden by visitors.
Willie Ward will see more of Rusty and I whenever we need shade and a rest.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Lowe's Lane

From August 2010 this essay which is a reminder to self that six years have passed...Time perhaps to re-visit Key West's extraordinary lanes and alleys. 

I thought for some reason I had photographed this particular alley but checking the search function I found it was not so. I was in the neighborhood previously and photographed Hibiscus Lane so I figured why not put Lowe's in the photographic can because it's just as pretty.I enjoy road trips but I miss enjoying summer in Key West, land of hot sun, bright contrasts and white clouds.There's lots of shrubbery too, which I am unable to name. Labels have never seemed too important to me, so I tend to forget the differences between various birds and flowers and all those other things some people love to collect..I enjoy the light and the colors and the shapes of Key West seen from on foot.
Summer too is the time of silence, relatively speaking and that is a bonus (added bonus if you want to be ungrammatical).If will power were enough I'm thinking this cat would have been indoors already.
Colors and clouds.If I lived a more interesting life there would either be a dead body or a naked body by the pool. Or preferably a dead naked body.
I cannot reconcile myself to the fact that there are people in Key West with the strength of character sufficient to drive a non air conditioned VW in this heat. Especially after it has been toasting in the sun like this.Perhaps the letter carrier has difficulty spotting numbers?
This is Key West, not Sedona, but cactus does do its best.
Lovely summery Key West.

The promise of rain is another summer pleasure.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Niles Road, Summerland

I wanted some peace and quiet that evening at home so I figured a little run outdoors might put the little tyke down for the night. I was right.
I drove to the end of Niles Road on Summerland and parked the car in between the vehicles and boat trailers of people out hunting lobster on mini season...
 The old wooden bridge to nowhere is still standing in the channel.
 I took this picture in 2008 and you'll notice no wooden ladder on the end of the bridge:
Nowadays someone has built the structure on the end of the bridge that you see below:
Cheyenne liked this spot too, at low tide:
That ladder makes climbing up easier I suppose but I managed in the past just using the spikes hammered into the uprights. I'm tough.
I walked the bridge in 2008 and I have no idea why they ever built such a robust structure as there is no sign of habitation or even a road at the north end. I shall go back one day with Rusty and see what we can find:
It was hot, we rested in the shade.

 And so home...
I miss Cheyenne still but I am glad Rusty is in my life.