In the last two months I have noticed that several of the outer laying roads in the Mission/McAllen/Edinburg metroplex area are being resurfaced in the Chip Seal way. First was part of my route that I cycle after work, Ware Rd from 107 to Monte Christo street. As a result, I no longer take that loop. I drive back home and ride afterwards. It’s not bad as I still have plenty of daylight left to zip around.
Sometime later, I was heading over to go see a movie, and I ran across another section of Ware road getting the same treatment of Chip Seal resurfacing. This time it is a heavily used cycling route from Expressway 83 south to Military road. Another one bites the dust.
Let’s not forget the Granjeno loop. That was such an enjoyable ride through farmland and county parks, but now, forget it. No one rides that section if they can help it. It’s not enjoyable with your teeth rattling form the bone jarring ride you get.
Now, today I was planing a route to Bentsen State park for the Ciclistas Urbanos cycling club and I ran into a 3-mile stretch on Bentsen Palm Drive from Business 83 to the park. Ugh! When will it stop! It seems that many of our routes are being chopped up and there is really nothing you can do about it. One or tow people complaining at a public meeting has zero effect and good luck getting cyclists to ban together and join a cause.
For those that don’t know what Chip Seal is or what the big deal is, Chip Seal is a method of road construction where they basically place a sticky substance (liquified asphalt) on the bottom and dump aggregate on top. Then it is mashed down with a big roller to stick to the hot asphalt (acts like a glue). It is an inexpensive method of road maintenance that good for cars but terrible for cyclist. Riding on that kind of surface is akin to riding on a dirt road with a controlled distribution of rock sizes. Even on my carbon framed bike it was a rough ride. It also slows you down as it is harder to pedal on (at least to me). For those that want to learn more on it, I found this link that does a great job of what it is and the benefits of it for automobiles.
To me, this is terrible news. We are trying to encourage more cycling in our area with cycling clubs for all levels. Long distance riding or endurance rides will be the ones primarily affected. You know it wouldn’t be so bad if they just redo to road where the cars drive and leave the shoulders alone. Some say to turn this negative into a positive, the Tour de France has their cobble stone roads and we have our chip seal! If you ask me, I rather not have either.
What can we do about it? Pretty much nothing. City planners, TXDOT, and others don’t give a damn about cyclist or other minority users such as motorcyclist’s. Cars is where the action is at and they will not do anything to promote other modes of transportation.
I don’t know of anyone or group that has successfully launched a Stop This Shit campaign but if you have, let me know. I’d like to hear from you about it.