Ride Home 5/5

Before I blog the ride home, I have a few more (and not fully developed) thoughts on the incentivization of bike commuting that I sort of, kind of talked about tangentially in this morning's post. Here's what my employer does for bike commuters:

  • I have indoor bike parking. It is ample. It is in a parking garage, right by the door to the basement level of the building. There's a security camera that is pointed at the bikes. 
  • There is a locker rom directly inside of the door. This locker room is reserved for staff. I have a dedicated locker where I can keep my clothes. There is a shower in the locker room
  • I receive $20 every month for bike commuting via the bike commuter benefits allowed for in the tax code
  • There's a Capital Bikeshare station in front of my work place. 
This is the best possible set-up for a bike commuter. It's ideal. I'm sure that many of you are absolutely drooling over this. Dedicated and convenient parking, showers, and they PAY ME TO RIDE MY BIKE TO WORK. And yet, I'd be surprised if more than handful of us did it. Despite having basically the best set-up that you could have, there's some kind of unbridgeable (I use this word advisedly because ultimately I hope that it's not true) gap that precludes biking to work for the overwhelming majority of employees. I think the point that I'm trying to make is that no matter what an employer does to incentivize bike commuting, there's only so much that can done to get people on bikes. The fact of the matter is that regardless of the dedicated parking available to them at work, people still need to ride on the streets and frankly, there's something about that built environment (and by that I guess I mean roads) and a huge psychological hurdle that totally quashes the idea that it's reasonable and beneficial to ride a bike to work. An employer can only do so much. 
Ok, hauteur abated. 
It sucks to get stuck between a row of parked cars and a car traveling as fast as you when you're heading down a hill. Especially when above the row of parked cars is a series overhanging branches making it such that you have to duck because you can't move over into the travel lane because some driver decided that it would be ok to pull up alongside of you rather than drop a bit behind you. I guess it was a problem of my own making because I didn't take the full lane (probably out of some amorphous politesse), but it's still a crummy problem to have. I think that some of the most dangerous situations for bicyclists are when they find themselves in the space between the travel lane and the parked lane. This is the space where most bike lanes are striped, but that's not mean to be an indictment of bike lanes. There's power in that paint. 
I like biking through Burleith because sometimes I see students who are walking home and now that it's the end of the semester, these students are frequently mumbling to themselves, much like I frequently mumble to myself when both walking and biking. It's hard sometimes to distinguish a mumbler from a bluetooth talker, but you can normally see the crazy eyes and that's a pretty substantial difference. 
On 34th Street, I passed a group of people who were wearing dress up clothes and standing on the sidewalk. One of them, a grandma type, said "Oh, speak of the devil, Spring Valley Catering is finally here" when a truck pulled up and blocked the left hand side of the travel line rather than any part of the bike lane. I guess if you were wondering where the hoity toity of Georgetown sought their catering, it's from the hoitier toitier of Spring Valley. Just to write that last sentence, I needed to puff on a Cohiba and swirl some brandy in a snifter. 
I'm sorry for not previously mentioned ZepFest 2011, about which I used to see a sign in front of the Key Bridge Marriott because the sign, which I believe was spray-painted stenciled block etters on plywood, is now gone. I don't know if it's celebrating dirigibles or the Marx Brothers, but whatever it is, bonne chance. 
I think I must be losing some of my elan because I'm just not going up the hills with the same vim any more. It's not that I can't do it, it's just more that I don't much feel the same impetus to climb them with the verve that I once did. Bike commuter ennui is the most self-righteous ennui. 
I wish I had remember to pack my growler in my bag this morning. I would have stopped at Whole Foods for draft beer. They do that in Clarendon and this would have been a nice day to bring fresh beer home. Tomorrow, maybe. 
Back to that thing about parked cars and danger zones, I almost got sort of hit by a turning Prius on Quincy. The driver was turning left into the parking lot by Carpool between cars who were stopped in a line all the way from Wilson. I was riding in the bike lane between the stopped cars and the curb and luckily she saw me before pulling her car into the parking lot entrance and stopped with ample time to avoid a collision. I didn't feel especially threatened, but had she made the turn with some more speed, it would have been rather unfortunate. It's hard for drivers to always know if there'll be a cyclist coming in the bike lane and I'm not sure I have a solution, even a pat one, for that. Just everyone be careful? That's pretty pat. 
Great weather today. Forgot to mention that. 

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