9/29/16

Rides 9/29

Rain again so I was still in the Ogre, but I decided to treat myself to a mildly circuitous route to work that required me to ride down into the park (at the bottom of the Adams Mill hill, I consider everything 'park,' but I think a lot of it is actually Mount Pleasant) and then over the parkway and then up Porter Street. On Harvard and Klingle there are bike facilities (mostly lanes but a few tiny spots of sharrows) and there's a new buffered bike lane on the downhill stretch of Klingle. I thought that the bike lane might have turned into a climbing lane on Porter, but it doesn't. I'm not sure why. There might be some afternoon changes that turn the right parking lane into a driving lane and that's probably the reason.

Bike lane on Klingle with artisanal leaf decor
Porter is a slog. I ride it so rarely that I forget this. I thought that maybe the part of Porter from the park to Connecticut was the worst, but that wasn't so bad today. I thought that maybe the part of Porter from Connecticut to Wisco (yes, Wisco- it's gonna be a thing. We're making it a thing) wasn't so bad, but it seemed kind of bad today. Funny how the same hill can be so wildly different. I blame plate tectonics and not the fog of memory.

if cars are fast and bikes are slow, how come I passed so many of these people? 
Turns out work installed a fix-it stand recently in the corner of the garage where I park my bike. Thanks, work!

Fix it
I headed to the grocery store at the end of the day and thereafter decided to take Macomb down to Connecticut. I then treated myself to a ride through the zoo. I realize that preceding sentence sounds vaguely Seussian. Or at least whimsical. But it was whimsical or at least as whimsical as a ride through a zoo access road and parking lots can be. Which is to say, pretty freaking whimsical. I might have past the ostriches but I can't say for sure. Guess I had my head in the sand. I don't know why more drivers don't cut through the zoo. There are speed bumps, but it's otherwise empty. Anyway, drivers, if you're reading this, um, please don't cut through the zoo.

After the zoo, I went up Adams Mill, though it might have been less steep to head up Harvard and then over somehow after that. I really need to spend more time riding in Mount Pleasant. After Adams Mill was 18th and then it was home. A good pair of rides in which I somehow avoided any heavy rain. One more rainless bike commute in the books.

9/28/16

Rides 9/27 and Rides 9/28

I go into work later on Tuesdays and this generally reduces the number of drivers I have to interact with on the road and for the most part that's a good thing. Generally at least, but the thing about assholes is that not only does everyone have one, it's also that it only takes one to run you over. Luckily that didn't happen and I remain not run over.

The Connecticut-Calvert situation remains a mess. A wrong lane driver decided to pull into the crosswalk and wait there instead of block the right-turn-only lane. I get it: don't want to inconvenience anyone. Anyone that matters, at least. There are, thankfully, few pedestrians who cross there, zoo foot traffic at that time of day being relatively light. This would be a remarkably easy intersection at which traffic enforcement professionals could issue tickets for sundry infractions, but I'm not sure I've ever seen them there. They must be elsewhere. [lol]

Riding a bicycle in the city is an unintermediated experience. This, I think, is what makes it so enjoyable and also what, I think, makes cyclists feel so viscerally close passes or dangerous turns or the whistle and whoosh of speeding cars. The senses are heightened from not just proximity, but the lack of any physical barrier. In an aquarium, you're but a few inches from the sharks, but that those few inches are measured in glass makes all the difference. Same with bicycling and not have windows. I mean, I guess you could have a fairing, but most of us don't and for the most part, that's ok. Anyway, the extra-sensitivity from being so close to the world around you is really, I don't know, addictive and on nice afternoons, I feel like I just feel the nice weather more. Like it sits on my skin in a way that it wouldn't had I not spent the last many years riding everyday. It's an odd feeling, but I think it's true.

The other thing about the lack of intermediation is that randos will walk up to you and start talking and some of these randos are crazy people. To wit, outside of St. Albans, a man approached. He was white and middle aged and had slicked back hair and wore a yellow t-shirt. He begins:
"You know, I used to work here"
and I thought that I would soon here a story about the school, but then he continues
"and these kids are smart and great and work hard. And they spend their whole lives working hard and trying to get ahead and to get a good job and make money and to think"
Now at this point, I'm worried that there's going to be some helmet-shaming. I wasn't wearing one, but I was wearing a tie and dress shirt and I thought this guy was gonna pivot and be like 'these kids are smart and work hard, like you did or whatever, and to think you'd ride a bike without a helmet and you'll die blah blah blah.' Why did I worry about this? I dunno exactly, but definitely in the past random strangers have commented on my not wearing a helmet and I thought that maybe that was what was happening here. And frankly, I wish it was that, but it wasn't, because he continued
"and you know- and my wife calculated it. 39 cents on the dollar. We make 39 cents on the dollar and the rest goes to taxes and these kids work so hard for all that money-
At this point I was like oh god
"for all that money to be spent by Her"
oh god no. The crosswalk light had changed and I was like 'oh no, must get out of here'
"and all those taxes. She's the-
Honestly here, I was like ok, this is not where I expected this to go. We don't have a lot of angry right-wing types in DC and I can't say that I've ever been dragooned into a one-side conversation (monologue? rant?) with one, but then comes the coda
"Someone should put a bullet in that c*nt's heead"
Yup. That's 1) a pretty offensive thing to say aloud about anyone to anyone and 2) a totally wacko thing to say to A STRANGER ON A BICYCLE WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE STOPPED WAITING FOR THE LIGHT TO CHANGE

A few takeaways:
1. don't wait for stoplights
2. when waiting for stop lights, take out your phone
3. I think it's kind of weird how comfortable he was launching into this diatribe and perhaps thinking that because I'm a white dude who was wearing a tie that I'd be a) interested or b) inclined to agree with him. Anyway, don't bike in ties.
4. Buy a car and roll up your windows and never commute by bike
5. I didn't say anything in response. I just left. I'm sure I could've yelled at this guy or dressed him down for saying something so horrific, but I've read far too many things about random interactions in traffic escalating for me to do anything other than ride away when the going gets crazy. This might be a virtue or a moral failure. It's unclear.

Rainy this morning. Took the Ogre, which was far too beefy a bike for the drizzle. Like bringing a cleaver to a knife fight. It's probably a max pretty right now. Could use some fenders before autumn gets serious though.



Coincidentally, I was riding in front of the 96 bus for a little this morning, upon which sat my ANC commissioner. She texted me that she saw me. I turned around and waved. We parted ways at the base of the hill at Cleveland and Woodley.

I left work slightly earlier than usual today and the ride home was fine. It'll be the last dry ride for awhile. Tomorrow begins the deluge.

In non-commuting news, I briefly owned a cycling computer. I returned it after maybe an hour's worth of fiddling. It turns out that I wanted it until I had it and once I had it, I realized that I didn't want it. That's the nature of these things sometimes.

9/26/16

Rides 9/26

I took the Ogre this morning. It felt like an Ogre kind of morning. It's cooler. There are some strewn leaves. Clouds linger. It's good that there isn't some deep woodsy path I could've taken towards work because it's likely I'd still be on it, heading deeper still into the forest primeval. Fittingly, I had in my bag some trail mix, which I normally stow in the corner of my desk to serve as an afternoon snack when my energy wanes and my ennui rises. All things considered, it would have been a good day to ride headlong into nature to embrace come what may, but instead I went up 18th to Adams Mill to Calvert. Wild, but of a different kind altogether.

As a result of the closure of the commuter highway that we decided to build through a nature park, the car traffic situation around Connecticut and Calvert has been worse than normal. There are two lanes westbound over the bridge. The left lane, the one where all of the drivers wait for the drivers in front of them to wait for the light to change, is the one that's the route to the parkway entrance. The right lane, the empty one, is a right-turn-only lane that sends people northbound up Connecticut Avenue. Between the two of these lanes is a bike lane. That's where I go. Or at least try because surprisingly absolutely no one, once drivers "suddenly realize" that the right lane is for turns only, they drive into the bike lane in order to merge back into the lane that would facilitate their driving straight. The presence of traffic control officers has only made this problem worse since now drivers can't fake as if they're going to turn right and then just drive through. I have a few thoughts on this:

1. I would prefer cars to not be in the bike lane. It's unsafe, illegal and annoying.
2. This is yet another very clear example of how the problem with the average driver's commute is other drivers. I wish I had the science to prove it, but I can nearly guarantee you that the average driver is caused more delays by assholes in cars doing this than by the entirely panoply of bicyclists he or she might encounter during the commute. Guaranteed.

Oh, then a little later, I almost ran over some garden shears that ended up in a bike lane. When will this senseless war between bicyclists and gardeners end?

I'd rather ride clipless
Ride home was normal. Ogre didn't mind the potholes on Woodley. Who would've guessed? It's still got fun knobby tires on it, but as fall comes closer, I think it might be time to put the fenders back on, which will necessitate a tire change. I like changing tires.

And in other bike news, I think I'm going to go to Connecticut to bike around on some gravel roads near my parents' house. I've got bus tickets for October. It should be fun.

9/22/16

Rides 9/21 and Rides 9/22

I spent most of my morning commute thinking about robot cars and the nefarious purposes you could put them to. It's a good way to pass the time, though a weird one. I'm obsessed with robot cars and the dystopian future I fear they'll bring. I'm not a technophobe by default and there are many technologies that I think are just peachy. But what I am in a carphobe and when I think about the history of cars in cities, I see a steady progression of space being stolen from people in not-cars and given to be in cars and how we're all pretty much ok with that. I don't see how that changes when the cars are driven by robots and I don't predict a halcyon future where we say 'oh wow, let's use what was a parking lane for a park' and not 'oh wow, let's use what was a parking lane as a place to idle our robot cars so they can pick us up faster when we call them on our smart phones.' I hope I'm wrong, but I fear I won't be.

I rode home now through what's the regular route on Woodley, potholes be damned. At the stop sign at 29th, a guy tried to wave me around him while he stopped to make a right turn. But he suggested that I pass him on the right, between his car, the curb and the place he planned to turn. Thanks, bud, but I passed on the left instead. There are shockingly few reasons to ride in the two feet between a car and the curb, waved through or otherwise.

Today was car free day, but I had an appointment that kept me from work right away. In the morning I was running errands and planned to take Bikeshare, but as I approached the first two stations, my arrival was greeted by someone beating me to the last bike, leaving me with bupkis. You can't ride bupkis. At least not comfortably. I did finally snag one and then I caught the last bike at the Tenleytown metro when I finally got to work. My luck, however, ran out in the afternoon. When it was time to ride home, there were no bikes in the station. Now, this is kind of antithetical to the whole mission of Bikeshare, which is all about sharing, but would I pay a dollar to "reserve" a bike for me, for like 5 minutes, when I absolutely knew I needed it? Yeah, maybe. You could even add in dynamic pricing based on demand. I'm kind of surprised that one of the for-profit systems hasn't tried this yet. Seems like it would probably work.

Instead I took the bus home and I didn't get off the bus at the stop I should have and waited one stop too long, which meant waiting in an extra 15 minutes of traffic to go two blocks. Massachusetts Avenue is barren for Bikeshares between AU and Dupont and that's a shame. You could get off at Observatory Circle and walk over to Glover Park, but that's not exactly right there on Mass, so I don't think that really counts. It'd be nice if they threw in a dock at the Cathedral or by the British or Finnish Embassies. It wouldn't probably be the highest used station, but it would certainly close a pretty expansive gap. When I finally got off the bus, I rode from Dupont to New Hampshire at T. It took 4 minutes.

9/20/16

Rides 9/20

It's the twentieth day of September and I don't know where the time has gone. It still feels like summer, but it's not. It's nearly time to start eating exclusively candy corn and pumpkin spice _____, but the weather doesn't really match those vibes at all. The only hint of the changing of the seasons lately has been the slow but inexorable drift of increasing darkness into the evening commute. Buy your lights now. Before you need them.

Decided to mix things up this morning and went over to S Street and salmoned across the very poorly designed intersection of S, Connecticut and Florida. The whole intersection needs a refresh and hopefully those who refresh intersections shine their light upon it soon. I wouldn't mind a contraflow bike lane, but really, the whole intersection needs much more than some bike appreciation. I continued on S up the hill and past Mitchell Park and then down the hill and past the Woodrow Wilson House and then out to familiar Massachusetts. There was some stoppage on Mass in front of one of the embassies (it was either a fender bender or two people who just sorta felt like not driving anymore, which I totally get) and so I scooted by and then the Brompton and I rode up the sidewalk together and slowly. This don't stop the sweating. The humidity was gross.

On the way home, I followed Massachusetts to Garfield and took that down the hill where it turned into Woodley. Right around the time it turned to Woodley, a driver decided that he absolutely more than anything else in the world needed to get past me and he was so successful in this that he then needed to hurriedly slam on his brakes to avoid driving right past a stop sign. Please, please, please drivers of the world (i.e. people who don't read this blog) please don't do this. I get that bikes are *the worst* and terribly inconvenience you, but passing a cyclist just to have to come to an immediate stop, one that you almost missed because you were so intent on passing the cyclist, is just remarkably silly. Rarely ever on my bike do I feel like I lack situational awareness. I pretty much know and can process more or less everything that's going on around me and that's even with about 37% daydreaming sapping my focus. But there's something about driving a car, even when not distracted by a phone or radio or passenger, that leads people to just *miss* stuff. It's signs, it's lights, it's other drivers. I'm sure you've seen it too. It's, how do you say, not great. Ok, robot cars, do your stuff.

After Woodley it was more Woodley and then the bridge and I got stuck on the wrong side, so I rode through Walter Pierce Park and saw Freddie the Firetruck, returned, and then went out Adams Mill on the other side. It's not the most efficient route, but sometimes you don't feel like waiting for a light.