This article is not about what you may think after viewing the title. While real hardware stores are important to our societal well-being, the one I will be explaining in this article is anything but good for us. Allow me to elaborate.
The “Store” I am referring to are the roads we ride our bicycles on. If you pay just the slightest bit of attention to the road while you are riding (and you should be), you will notice little, sharp, metal hazards which make up what I call the “Hardware Store.” They come in many forms, shapes and sizes, and usually go by the innocuous names of nails, screws, bolts, washers, tools, parts from vehicles, clips, clamps, pins, needles, etc., (This is not including those other hazards known as broken glass, metal shards, bumps, pavement cracks, and pot holes – Stay tuned for future articles on these babies).
This brings to light a few questions on the subject. First, just whom is the cause of all of the hardware and hazards we see and must contend with via flats, bent wheels, and in some cases, road-rash and broken bones? Who is responsible for keeping the streets clean, clear and smooth? What are our duties to the greater good in these matters?
In the former, we can all do our part to make sure items are secure in and on our vehicles to prevent their being deposited on the streets. The next condition relates to how effective our municipalities are in keeping streets in optimum condition. This includes how often (if at all) street sweeping vehicles operate. Remember, your tax dollars pay for this service. And the latter relates to how vigilant we as citizens are at picking up objects we see on the roads ourselves. Call it our Civic Duty, if you will. I do it all the time.
In comparison, the aviation business has in place a program of education, awareness, and prevention training to combat the problems posed by pavement debris. The expectation is for all personnel to patrol the airfields for these hazards, or as they are formally known, Foreign Object Debris, or simply F.O.D. Objects on the airport can be sucked into jet engines, cut tires, and even be hurled at people and property by jet and propeller blasts causing serious injury and damage.
The roads upon which we ride and travel are no different, and we need to have the same respect for them. It is very important we all do our part to keep the streets free of F.O.D. and report road hazards and irregularities to the proper authorities.
It is not going to get any better out there if we ignore the problems, and this is one “Hardware Store” I would like to see permanently closed.