4/4/11

Ride Home 4/4

I'm pretty sure there's a section in our employee handbook that says if it's a really nice day and you've finished all of your work and you're a bike commuter, you can leave 15 minutes earlier. That's one of those bicycle commuter benefits, right? If so, then it's a law, even.
Anyway, I set myself about a little experiment today in line with the "Mary Poppins effect," which I dubbed the "Dick Van Dyke's Character from Mary Poppins effect" to see if my attire, which consisted of a striped shirt and navy blue pants (not exactly Bert), would have ameliorating effects on the drivers around me. I was on a non-sporty bike and I sat bolt upright. Though I did wear a helmet instead of letting my glistening locks flow free exposing my nondescript brown hair. The only specialized (not Specialized) piece of bike "equipment" was a velcro strap for my right pant leg. In short, I saw no evidence that there is such a thing as the "Dick Van Dyke's Character from Mary Poppins effect." (Though I would theorize that older drivers might give greater deference to more professionally dressed cyclists, but that's just a supposition). Dressed as I was, I felt that I was treated about the same as drivers normally treat me, which I would describe as "fine" and that's good enough for me. Maybe I'll try again next week, but with a instead of a striped shirt, I'll grow a sketchy mustache to see if there's a "David Niven effect."
This is a suggestion to some motorists: you don't have to choose between either slowing down or giving sufficient space when passing a bicyclist. It is possible to do both simultaneously and it is greatly appreciated.
I removed the lock mount from this bike a few weeks ago and instead sling my lock over my handlebars. When I hit bumps (like I did on the sidewalk on 34th street between N and Prospect, where I rode since my on-street passage was blocked by a car caught at a 45 degree angle on account of its driver not being able to fully complete the turn since there wasn't sufficient room and he probably shouldn't have started it but traffic being what it is one must be assertive and such), the lock jumps around and sometimes dings the bell. That always surprises me and I look for oncoming cyclist. I should probably reattach the lock mount, but I just hate how it looks on the bike. This is a costly solution, though one I'm equally uninterested in. Pretentious as hell though.
Some guys struggling with the air pump outside of Revolution Cycles in Georgetown. They're called Presta valves and they were tricky for me at first too. Keep trying!
Fixed gear bikes are still trendy. I didn't see many being ridden, but a few locked up outside of coffee shops.
I think that there's a bike commuter equivalent of the Mendoza Line (which I think was vital in keeping Mexico safe from the Nazis in WWII) that I'm reticent to point the following idea out for fear that my name might somehow get attached to it. Let's call it DRIP (Distance Responsible for Individual Perspiration) instead. It's basically the series of factors that go into a bike commuters decision to either bike in street clothes or wear different clothes when riding to work. Aside from distance, it includes things like temperature, humidity, exertion, terrain, comfort feeling sweaty, and your expected appearance at work. I think it's important for bike commuter fantasy leagues, in which I, much like all of you, participate.  Calculating DRIP is a crucial part of deciding whether to pack a bag or just wear your work clothes. In DC, summer temperatures and the requirements of the office attire often lead to players, er, I mean commuters, to exceed the DRIP line and almost almost have to change when arriving at work. I think more moderate climes might lead to a substantially fewer people exceeding DRIP. I don't know if this topic has already been covered on Copehagenize.
Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee tonight. Having biked in Montgomery County this weekend, I can't tell you enough how grateful I am to live in "the AC" (no one calls it this. But if you're a tv executive, I am shopping a pilot) which has a lot of fantastic bicycle facilities and whose drivers tend to really respect cyclists. So, if you read this blog and live in Arlington and don't already go, come tonight.

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