I don't know if I've mentioned that I had a summer internship at Bike Texas. If I haven't, surprise!
I know I haven't talked about it a lot because I've been working on a project that has "Do Not Distribute" written on pretty much every page. Not that it's a secret, since we don't do espionage or anything at Bike Texas (although perhaps we should!), but because it's preliminary data that is not yet ready for release. My job has been to research some things, data entry others, talk to some city officials, and otherwise gather data about cycling and walking in Texas. And once the data was more or less gathered, we moved to the really fun part: Assembling it into a sensible report.
So, for the past few weeks, I've made charts and graphs. I've written analysis for someone else to reject or tear to shreds or whatever. I've argued with other volunteers about the best way to present data, and we've all discussed whether this source or that is reliable enough to include in a report. It's been fun.
I've also gotten most of the way through a box of tea that was brand-new on June 1st and is now nearly empty.
In the process, while I still can't share much until the report is released, I've learned what to look for in the next city that I move to. I've learned what questions to have in mind when I peruse the city website or look for public transit options. And I definitely know that a city that is hostile to cyclists is no place for me. I can deal with "tolerant of cyclists" up to "some people are annoyed by them and will say so" (since that's pretty much what Austin is), but if I can help it, I won't move to city where the government actively discourages cycling.
In related news, I have spent a lot of time this summer looking at forums or reading articles that deal with cycling, and as is so often the case on the internet, those forums and articles seem to bring out the worst in people, as the comments get more and more vitriolic as they go along. I've read these things until I want to find a nice hermitage where I can be safe from the rest of humanity. (I begin to understand the desire, in the mid-1800s, to start one's own commune.) But then I go out on my bike and ride around Austin, and you know what? Despite motorists and cyclists and pedestrians being unable to get along on the internet, and despite the occasional altercation on the streets, it actually does work. I've seen motorists back up after inadvertently stopping in crosswalks. I've seen cyclists yielding to pedestrians. I've seen pedestrians use the crosswalk, as is their right, with politeness. Fortunately for all concerned, the ugliness of the internet doesn't seem to hold when we are all face-to-face with one another. Perhaps there is hope for humanity after all.
Do internet forums make you cringe, or give you a chance to express yourself, or something in between? Have you found the real world to be a reasonably pleasant place?
What are we talking about today?
Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.
Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Friday: Green living.