Ride In 5/20

Happy Bike to Work Day! Many of you are already familiar with the origins of Bike to Work Day, but I assume that some of you don't know that it was started by George Washington in 1776 and it was the biggest holiday is America for approximately 6 weeks until they signed the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July and ever since then it's been struggling to retake its rightful place as the most patriotic of all national holidays. This story, like all good holiday stories, is mostly apocryphal, which is to say that it's completely bogus.
When I passed the Ballston BTWD pit stop, I gave a quintuple ding and in return I got quintuple WTF looks from the people standing in line at some tent. I was just trying to spread joy, as is my wont.
Fair or foul: biking side by side, one bicyclist in the bike lane and one bicyclist in the travel lane? I'm not asking about it's legality (it's legal), but rather about the etiquette.
I decided to stay off the Custis. I expected it to be preposterously crowded, as it was on last year's BTWD. I doubt it was much fun for anyone walking on it this morning. I think that new cyclists are great (and you're only new for just a little), but I've seen a lot of instances of poor judgment when it comes to their interacting with pedestrians. I've also seen a lot of instances of poor judgment from experienced cyclists. I've also seen a lot of instances of poor judgment from pedestrians. Basically, there's a lot of poor judgment out there (you're reading this blog, right?) and I prefer to ride in places where somebody's poor judgment is less likely to affect me as much as it might on a crowded 12 foot wide shared-use path.
That's why I ride in the streets, where the tour bus drivers like to make it interesting by pulling over in totally unexpected places, through the bike lane, with little signaling and careless disregard for those around them. In a case like this, you want to be aware of the slowing speed of the tour bus, but you also need to look out for any cars behind you and the drivers that might try to overtake the pulling-over bus at the same time you do. I recommend the standard dramatic head-swivel and maybe even sticking out your left arm at about a 45 degree angle, exposing your open palm and wide-stretched fingers. My  upside-down "bicycles may use full lane" palm tattoo hurt like hell, but it's totally worth it in these situations. Worse comes to worst and there's no space to move over, you might as well just wait patiently behind the bus until the travel lane clears.
The Rosslyn Pit Stop was pretty great. Tons of people, a lot of familiar faces. Introduced myself  to Paul DeMaio, bike-sharing guru and blogger. There was a bike stunt performer there, performing bike stunts of the leaping variety. There was Bike Arlington swag. There were bagels. There were just a ton of people and their bikes, including this guy:

Y-foils are pretty rare. And a Y-Foil with a kiddie trailer? Wow.
It was the fairly standard assemblage of NoVa cycling types, more inclined to Lycra than not. I don't know how many were daily commuters happy for the free bagels and how many were irregular commuters happy for the free bagels, but I'm sure WABA will tell us, along with the overall number of registered participants (my guess 11,542) how many of them were new to biking to work.
Since the point of Bike to Work day is eventually to get to work, I had to pull myself away and finish my ride. Fewer people on bikes than I expected, but I was riding in later than usual and everyone had probably already made it downtown.
When a motorist and a bicyclist arrive at a four-way stop at approximately the same time and they both want to roll through the stop sign, it seems unsporting for the motorist to flip off the cyclist who crosses his path before he could cross hers. Plus, she couldn't even see your gesture. As a general principle, I don't get upset about hypocrisy (people act in their best interest in any given situation- why let that bother you?), but it's amusing to watch someone get so upset about a bicyclist blowing a stop sign because it prevented him from doing the exact same (illegal) thing.
It's always nice to see a bicyclist that you recognize from one part of your trip (Jamis Aurora dad on New Mexico) in a completely different location (by Duke Ellington School). It's like reverse engineering their commute. Wasn't there a bad Ben Affleck movie about that?
When I got to work, a fellow bike commuter (whose bike I recognized, but not her) told me to head over to the table of food/giveaways that my employer had set up for Bike to Work Day. I asked the guy at the table if "a lot" of people had been over. He said "not a lot, but a decent number," but he seemed disappointed. I got free a poster (thanks Kaiser Permanente!) that has some platitudinous offering about bikes and health and some delicious Cranberry Apple Raspberry juice. I thought that this was nice of my employer to do, though I didn't notice any more bikes locked up at the rack than normal. I guess people aren't as motivated by posters and juice as I am.
I'm wearing my Bike to Work Day shirt now in honor of my own deep sense of smugness. It's very purple.


  1. Why do you ride on the sidewalk on the key bridge? I thought the vehicular speed limit was slow enough to be bike friendly.

  2. While the vehicular speed limit might be slow enough, the actual speed of the vehicles tends to be much higher (35-40 mph) when there's no traffic. Travel lanes also take up the entire width of the bridge, so there's not even a good place to bail if you want to move over to the right to let a car go by. I've done it once before and it was pretty harrowing.