Former 2:24 marathoner, now pushing 50 and reduced to a pitiable spastic shuffle • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on distance running since 1999; mostly a crank since approximately 2016 and possibly long before • Coach and adviser of less pessimistic perambulators • Dobie-mix owner Sentence-fragment impresario

Friday, July 26, 2019

Asshole captured in action on doomed bridge

When you ride a bicycle on, or otherwise make use of, a shared public path, that part of the public that does not consist of your roving, slowly decaying, and nominally cognizant organic matter should be able to be reasonably confident that you will not in willfully engage in behavior that places their own stinkflesh at risk, however invaluable yours might be from an objective perspective. The same applies to people like me who take their dogs on these byways. Ordinary pedestrians, of course, have to maintain awareness and show consideration as well, but if I am out there running with a dog on a concrete strip visibly populated by a variety of other mobile elements, in my mind it can't be a "serious" run and I should be prepared to pull to the side at any time to let others pass when it is obvious I'm the one who's more likely the source of a potential problem.

All of this goes triple for certain segments of these paths, like the pedestrian bridge spanning the Foothills Parkway in East Boulder. This bridge is over 40 years old, and thanks to being plain worn out and out of compliance with ADA standards, it is being replaced with a tunnel beginning...well, now. City minions have marked certain trees in the park a quarter-mile up the street from my house and right on the west side of the bridge for removal and relocation, and in the fall they will start rerouting foot and bike traffic away from the entrance to the bridge and through the Blue Neighborhood to the north.

The clumsily juxtaposed, or fused, images below include an aerial photo of the current situation and an artist's rendering of the City's plan from roughly the same orientation (the mock-up is rotated about 30 degrees clockwise). I live about three minutes and fifteen ungainly-ass seconds to the left (south) of the western entrance to the bridge, and I probably cross it a good ten times a week, not always twice in the same run. (There's an eyesore much like this one about a mile to the southeast, on the other side of Baseline Road. That one has straight ramps on both sides, meaning that no one with a VO2 max of less than 45 can climb it, let alone someone in a wheelchair, and no one without ropes can descend it. It was built at the same time, when the Foothills was built in the late 1970s, and I assume it's also on the chopping block.) I hate it; it's precarious enough getting people passing each other in opposite directions over it even when both (or more) parties are alert, which is a non-starter, and it always threatens to wreak havoc on my knee. It will be great when the tunnel is in place, and Rosie won't be finding snacks left behind by homeless campers who have been quite resourcefully sleeping under the half-pipes on both sides for some time now. But it will be a modest inconvenience to cross at the surface level at the intersection of Colorado Ave. and the Parkway, which turns green for the underdog about three times a fucking day at last notice, even if you hammer the PUSH TO PLAY FROGGER! button at the intersection 420 times, remove the button's housing, yank out the wiring, throw pixie dust over your shoulder, and clap your Vaporfly 4%s together while wailing, "There's no drug like EPO!"

(You can read about the $4.4 million project here, where you'll find links to extensive information about the other alternatives that were considered.)


My concern today relates to the material in the introduction. I was approaching the bridge with Rosie from the east (where there is a "1b" in the right image above) when some guy on a bike entered the up-ramp from the same side, but from my right, as he'd been traveling along the Foothills Path running counter to the flow of traffic. (Had the planned approach already been in place, were the timing the same, he'd have had to complete the U-loop they're installing to prevent the tunnel entrance from being a blind-riding shitshow of a T-bone. That little strip of yellow jutting southeast is a sound wall.)

So far I have left out the fact that the guy had a dog on a leash beside him. Now, this kind of thing may look cute in a world where people are even more fundamentally nihilistic than I am, but it's about the stupidest thing anyone can do on this entire network of paths, although the competition is stiff and ever-ejaculatory. It is a bad idea to ride with a dog on a leash on any surface, for any distance, in my opinion, even if there is zero chance of encountering other living beings and the metal other beings under their command. It is an extraordinarily bad idea to do it at rush hour on a 10'-wide path, and it is abominably stupid, and seemingly a huge, actively waggling middle finger at everyone who might want to be in the same public space without being involved in some kind of eminently needless and injurious fuckery.

I stopped short of the ramp and took this video of the guy ascending the ramp and making the left turn into the tube, to which he should be lashed when the span is hoisted a few months from now and then dropped into the gaping maw of hellfire that will magically appear beneath. I was tempted to edit out the sound, become some guy close to the microphone was making idiot noises for effect that distract from the drama of the presentation. I slowed down one part with the video editor mainly because I didn't know what I was doing, and left the result in that condition because I was sick of pushing goddamn buttons. Except yours.


The video sucks, but if you toggle to Full Screen, you can make out the top half of the dog for a few seconds. The guy must have passed the woman on the lower ramp section shortly before she got to it, because she didn't pass us. Had she done so, Rosie would have picked up our pace to match hers, with me keeping us a stalkerish five meters behind. We once chased the whole C.U. women's team down this very path, headed the other way (east), through a whole 6:45 mile once before they relented and turned off by the golf course. That thing should also be shanked into obscurity. Anyway, I evidently forgot to mention the apparently heavy backpack also in this dipshit mix, an apparatus that probably had a Mini-Me version of the guy riding a unicycle with a dog on his shoulders inside it.

I guess the reasoning here is, "I'll go slow and keep my eyes open, and if anyone comes, I'll dismount." The grievous error here is assuming that the "anyone" in this calculus is likely to be much less of a hazard than you are. Instead of taking up two-thirds of the width of the half-pipe (well, over the top it's a tube; in fact, the whole assembly is like a transverse colon with two sigmoid colons and a pair of increasingly rusty, filthy two-way bungholes on each side) thanks to being four furry legs, two wobbly wheels, and a huge smiling lump of human shit for cargo, that person approaching might simply be oblivious, a head-down jogger or a family of four from the Blue Neighborhood yonder.

You know what's coming next. I wouldn't give a shit if something grave befell this adventurer. He may do this routinely. The fact that he wears a helmet strikes me as the purest form of hilarity. But I'd feel a little bad if something happened to a second, wrong-place-at-the-wrong time person thanks to such escapades, and I'd feel worse if something happened to his dog. A mishap seems virtually inevitable if he does this often. The leash is the killer item for me. No matter how disciplined that dog might be, and no matter how unimpeachable the guy's balance and control may prove, one lunge from, say, a different dog and it's probably an immediate matter for the local cops, the very-nearby-but-worthless Foothills Community Hospital, or both.

As you may recall, this isn't the first time I have seen someone about the same age doing the same thing in almost the same spot. And that asshole was also captured on film, also, I'm sure, to no utilitarian end. There is no reason to bother expecting much different from people. I almost got clipped on my run a few hours later when some bemulleted adventurer pulled the "look left, roll through the red light right even though there's a sidewalk there" move. This kind of shit is also guaranteed to splash the recently shaved genitalia of anyone simply hoping to politely use the streets -- folks who just want to add to the goddamn mess as unobtrusively as possible -- with a bucketful of rubbing alcohol. For these and myriad other reasons, I can think of far more useful fads than dog-cycling, like bribing someone to sterilize you and everyone in your immediate family to prevent the appearance of an even more decrepit generation -- one ill prepared to deal with the predicted climate-change apocalypse, which in all likelihood won't create a world that seems much more ruinous than it already is, but makes for interesting bedtime reading.

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