Cobb DOT – Today you are a Higgly Town Hero

This morning I received an email from Cobb DOT.  They said “If you want to film the guys installing the solution – head over there this morning!  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I was riding.  As soon as I got the message I headed right on over to see what was going on.  Hard to say I was sad everything was DONE!  Wow!  We recorded a little video to show you exactly what we found!  I am generally not much of a vlogger…. but in this case, I thought it was appropriate!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BExnXb2AkJM[/youtube]

Now – looking at the video, some safety minded individuals will notice a large hole along the concret.  This concerned me a little so I did a little analysis of the situation.  I’m happy to tell you that I don’t think that is going to be much of a problem.  If you are THAT close to the wall, you’ve done something really stupid already.  You are likely to crash.  As this photo show – you have to be closer than a pedal width to the wall to get a wheel in… not something I do often!

Big hole - no problem

While I do question why they would do it that way, they may have a valid reason.  That was NEVER the point of contention here nor will it be now.  I will leave you – and this subject – with a photo that shows an ABSOLUTE positive action taken by Cobb DOT.  Outside of this being done prior to the road opening – NOTHING could have been done better.  Thank you very much!

The Final Photo - WELL DONE!

And now – another interesting TWIST (or two)

Well – I have to say I’m truly amazed at how this week worked out!  Shocked even!  Nothing in my wildest dreams would have been able to express what am about to lay down.  Seriously.  This is not normal stuff!

So … yesterday, I posted how GDOT was not the devil… that it was actually Cobb DOT.  A little bird had told me that Cobb DOT was already working on a solution and that made me happy.  I didn’t have any facts, but my source was far more reliable than my 43 year old confused and fading brain cell.  Trying to be optimistic, I gave them credit.  Well … as it turns out, they had gotten window of my flame filled prose and were drafting a response of their own… who knew?

So… in the “Wow, that’s awesome” category, Cobb DOT contacted me directly to let me know they have ordered materials to make the grates safe.  They are going to be done within 2 weeks.  We still have this other little rumor that the road is going to be “Limited Access”.  Well, it was PLANNED to be limited access, but budget cuts, construction delays and everything else under the sun have modified the scope of this project a bunch of times and there is no longer any intention of making it limited access… so once we get these grates fixed – it’s on par with other roads in the area.  (Many of you have commented about how wide the shoulder.  The shoulder is only wide near the grates.  In both directions it fades to less than 8″ in a couple places.  The “inlet” and “outlet” of the road have what I would consider dangerously narrow curbs, forcing a cyclist to ride in traffic and if there is an accident or something – there is no place for cars to pull off the road – but that isn’t my current focus…)  They assured me that they are concerned about bicycle safety and making safe riding roads.  Again – the email was polite, well written and I was given a direct phone number if I had further questions.  Good deal.

Now – in the “I almost soiled my britches” category… I come down the hill into the “wide shoulder, grate infested region” of Windy Mac and I see something I didn’t recall from the morning.  It’s large.  It’s orange.  It’s reflective.  It’s a ROAD BARREL!

Safety Minded!

I roll around the curve and see another … and another … and another … and another!  Cobb County DOT – while we have our issues, I have to say THANK YOU!  Your safety minded gesture really made my day.  Other cycling advocates who I have shared the photo with were also impressed.  This simple act of respect did in fact give me chills and kept a smile on my face the rest of the way home.  In 4+ years living in Georgia, that’s about the nicest thing anybody has done for this cyclist!

This has definitely been an interesting chain of events.  I would like to share my story with a more public audience – and will be trying to get in touch with Commuter Dude.  This is an opportunity to share something GOOD about the Department of Transportation!  As gas prices creep higher and higher – more and more people will be thinking about getting to work another way.  My efforts, if nothing else, raised awareness that I (and other cyclist) are passionate about our safety.  We have as much right to use the roads and be safe as those in the cars.

To my friends who supported me in this – THANK YOU!  I really appreciate it.  I’ll be riding this on a regular basis and hope to catch a photo of the guys fixing a grate.  At a bare minimum, I will update you when I see one or more of them fixed!

What’s next?

GDOT – I owe you an apology and a thank you!

The grates on the Windy Hill connector are, in my opinion, nearly criminal.  They are dangerous and they are problematic.  That being said – my ferocity was wrongly focused on the Georgia Department of Transportation.  It turns out, this road development was not a GDOT project, rather a Cobb County project.  So – on the placement of these wheel eating monsters – GDOT has no liability.

Now – I need to fill you in on a few things here… My neighbor works for GDOT.  He saw my blog post and thought “Wow – Scott has a point here – maybe we should look at this”.  He sent it to his boss (thank you!) and from there apparently a few things bounced around.  I received BUNCHES of emails form concerned cyclist saying “email this dude”… so I did.  Within 8 hours of  my email I received a POLITELY written correction to numerous things (one being who built the road).  The other being a clear clarification of GDOTs stance on bicycle friendly grates.  They have a clear understanding of what the grates can and will do to a bicyclist and have some good policies to protect us in the future.  He sent me a link to their policies document that pertains to bicycles and a flyer for their Sample Grates.  The email was nice and educational.

I’ve also got a few email tickles and stuff that indicate Cobb County is quite aware of this and is planning to weld metal across the grates.  That’s good news … I don’t want a war, I want a safe place for people to ride their bikes as a common method of TRANSPORTATION!

I also heard a dirty little rumor that this road is supposed to be “Limited Access” – aka – We won’t be allowed to ride our bikes on this road.  If this does hit the fan – expect a blog post filled with animosity and discontent…  We will see if this ever happens.  While they poorly designed the road for cyclists, that is normal for Cobb County (and you WONT see a future apology from me on that one!  It is a fact!)

Georgia DOT – you just *FAILED*

Many of you may remember my quest to get a block of dangerous concrete removed from Cobb Parkway.  Well – I’ve got a new cause without a rebel looking for a rebel without a cause.  I guess this one fall squarely on my shoulders.

For the better part of 3 years, GDOT has been working on the “Macland – Windy Hill Connector”.  It’s finally finished, including a grossly oversized bridge to nowhere.  I drove it for the first time on Friday and was sad that they managed to make the shoulders so unfriendly.  They are wide, then narrow, then a curb then wide… all over the place for no reason.  This will force a cyclist to feel a false sense of security only to be pushed back into traffic and piss off some texting cougar in her Escalade (it’s already happened….)  Anyway, that lovely picture of cycling bliss and serenity I just painted for you is only 10% of the absolute DANGER imposed on cyclist on this road in at least 12 locations.

To those of you who don’t ride on vehicles with tires that are 23 mm wide, you may not realize the danger that is presented here.  I’ve been riding a WHOLE lot of years and can tell you, in general I can miss a 43×41 square of steel in the road.  I’m a big boy and I can steer.  In perfect conditions, I could probably bunny hop that thing if I had to… but in and oh-crap situation, for some strange reason – everything isn’t perfect.  You and I both reasonably smart people, or at least I would like to believe I am… I will let you decide.  I’m going to give you all the benefit here – and ask you if you try to put a 1″ wide tire in a 2-3″ wide slot – will it fit?  YUP – YOU ARE RIGHT!  Sure enough – it will drop right in there.

Now – I’m one for a story and all, but I’m not about to go dropping in to show you what could/would happen if I that thing at 24 mph.  I will however put Wilson II in there to show you what is next.  I am going to say – and this is my expert opinion, there is not a cyclist in the world that could survive that without going tukus over  tea kettle and or changing their dental records forever.  There are at least a dozen of these grates on this new 2 mile road.  They are in dark shadows where even an experience cyclist might not see them.

You aren’t supposed to complain unless you have a solution… I tried hard and even took my measuring tape out there to see if the solution was easy … nope, they are not square, they are rectangular.  IDIOTS!  The drain should go perpendicular to the road, not parallel.  This is already ILLEGAL in Oregon and Seattle aint bullsh*t’n (It’s rap song), they are going to replace ALL of their storm grates.  I think with a little work, they could be fixed – or with the purchase a helper/fixer.  I’ve seen and ridden across those before.

Words can not convey how disappointed and angry I am that new road projects are not even THINKING about cyclists. This is crap. I will be coming up with something to do about this!

 

Must know the #1 rule

When you go out for the evening.  You come home and your wife says “My iPad is dead and I need a charger” and you have been meaning to get her the long cord for convenience… but you haven’t and you say “I will do the right thing” and you go down in the basement and see a spattering of random unidentifiable substances, water and spaghetti all over the place it is good that you once worked construction as you are about to say “OH SHIT!”  Moments later you will need to diagnose the problem and to fix it you will need to know the number one rule of plumbing – Shit flows downhill….

So… that’s the run-on version of my evening, but let’s fill in a few blanks.  Earlier tonight – my “right” sink was backing up.  I tried a little “trickery” and plunged it.  Unfortunately, we had spaghetti for dinner and the two sinks are connected in a T-format below … and in doing so I think I sucked stuff through the drain in a powerful manner, thrusting spaghetti into an already diminished drain.  Fortunately – I cant really say I made any other mistakes this evening – but in retrospect, a snake might be better for a sink.  Save your poo-pumper for the crapper.

Anyway … like I said, I went down to the basement and found a HUGE mess.  I’ll probably gripe more aobut that on various social media sites tomorrow, but for now, lets just say it was a MESS!  I couldn’t figure it out… but insulation was coming out and it was apparent that the water had erupted form a 4″ piece of PVC in the rafters.  “Who cut my pipe off?”  Well, knowing a LITTLE bit about plumbing, I stare it down and decide this is some sort of vent.  Okay… if its backing up and coming out here… the plug has to be DOWNHILL…. but 4″ pvc has an inside diameter of about 3.5″, which is smaller than my paw.  No snake… where do I head at 10:30?  Walmart… of course.  I get a snake (they had a couple for next to nothing – bonus – and I used my card – so I supported my employer… anyway, we digress).

I get home and start snaking.  This is where the aroma in, on and around me got funky.  Leave it at that.  It was bad.  I feel like I’m making progress so we test it…. shower number 2.  UGH! This is sick and nasty.  I am not having fun.  I analyze things a big more and spend some more time figuring out an option.

I pull a clean-out plate off the pipe and snake from the other direction.  I get the garden hose, kink it all up and FLOOD the pipe.  I hear debris flowing fast… PROGRESS!  We have FLOW!

Well – We did some more testing and I am happy to say the “easy” part of this job is probably done.  Just think … if I didn’t know the #1 rule of plumbing, I’d be calling roto-router tomorrow and paying a fat man to show me his crack and fix my pipe!  I can do without the large bill, the crack and/or the other man messing with my pipe.

Please note – this is not for the weak at heart (or stomach) or the soft headed!  When dinner comes out of pipe and lands on your shoulder, it’s really kind of similar to a stranger on a subway barfing on you.  Additionally – when a pair of channel locks falls off the rafter and lands on top of your bald head – you get a fun new scab.  UGH!  First baldness … now a hole in my head!  Just what I needed!