6/15/11

Ride In 6/15

This was the third day in a row where the morning's temperature was brisk and cool and I'm beginning to forget what oppressive, unbearable heat and humidity feel like. If this trend continues, I'll have no choice but to start microwaving my bike clothes pre-ride in an attempt to approximate normal summer conditions so when the pendulum of grossness swings back around I'll be prepared. For the record, you can microwave bike-specific attire as well as regular work clothes, assuming you don't wear clothes with metal adornment.
Even when there are relatively "a lot" of bikes on the road, as there were this morning, it still never feels like a lot. I guess it's a matter of perception and I should be content with "more than usual," but sometimes you want "a lot" to be a real "a lot" and not a relative "a lot." The preceding sentences illuminate my liberal arts education, one that eschewed math courses or anything resembling quantitative analysis.
I rode down Kirkwood Road, which is residential and quiet and has bike lanes between Washington Boulevard and Lee Highway. It also slopes gently. I opted for Kirkwood because I hadn't taken it in a while and I remember it being quite pleasant and I was in the mood for pleasant. And for as nice as the road is, it has a pretty crappy connection to the bike facilities that wait near, but not on, Lee Highway. The intersection is not exactly bike-friendly, even though one can pick up the Custis Trail about 300 yards away. Maybe just a couple of sharrows (or a bike lane?) between Kirkwood and the 66 overpass would go a pretty long way, to say nothing about making the trail entrance something better than a curb cut in front of a steep, four foot slope of asphalt. The area could probably do with a bit of traffic calming, as well. It's 6 lanes across from a parking lot dominated shopping center near the entrance to a limited access highway. A large shopping plaza with a good burger place, a food specialty shop, a grocery store (and even a bike shop!) abutting a well-used bike trail and yet, it's a total pain for bicyclists. So it goes.
A welcome respite on the Custis until the Marriott exit, where an inconsiderate driver blocked the trail while waiting for the light to change. Not cool. I gave him my usual (ineffective) disparaging look and I hoped that the guy riding behind me did likewise. I almost turned and asked him if he glared too, but then I realized that not all people engage in such outwardly antisocial behavior and I'd be better off not exposing myself as the mean-spirited and callow jerk I am. How hard is it to keep your car off what looks like a sidewalk? Impossible? Because that's what I would guess based on what I see every day. I get it- you want to turn on the red and in order to do this, you want to see if any cars are coming and in order to see, you need to move your car forward. Solution: no turns on red over the trail. I think this would really help, though I suppose it doesn't really stop the creeping. Solution #2: some sort of spikes that emerge from the roadway? (Note: if your answer to any problem is "some sort of spikes," you're most likely wrong)
Be careful at the Georgetown side of the Key Bridge for cyclists turning from M. What frequently happens is that a cyclist rides in the left turn-only travel lane, but then bails to the sidewalk by making a wider turn. If you're not looking for it (and instead focusing on beating the countdown clock and getting across M yourself), you might get run biked into by a guy on a CaBi. If a CaBi rider and a non-CaBi rider collide, I'm pretty sure the non-CaBi rider is coming out of it worse. CaBis are like the medieval cavalry of bikes. Good thing there's no mandatory lance law.
The denizens of Glover Park, America's neighborhood, appear to have found their bicycles again. Quite a few bikers coming through there today. From the looks of it, it seems like everyone bikes down through Georgetown and then across town (I assume, that unlike me, most everyone worst in the core of DC and not on its periphery) and it's probably how I would go, but you could also come across Calvert and Observatory Circle to Massachusetts to Q and then downtown, maybe on 15th Street. Might be a little faster east that way, but I guess it depends on your exact final destination. This is the problem with giving unsolicited route planning advice to no one in particular. But I will not be deterred.
I stopped for a guy to let him cross the street with his dog (not in crosswalk), but I didn't take the lane and a black SUV just drove past us both. He then crossed and said thanks and I said "well, I tried" and he said "Ummm" because he didn't hear what I said, but knew that I said something and wanted to say something back. Next time I'll just talk to the dog.

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