My biggest dilemma on rainy days isn't whether to ride (I'm smug like that): it's whether or not to wear a hat. I really don't like it when my head gets wet. In fact, I'm almost pathological about it. On the other hand, I really don't like it when I needlessly sweat because I'm wearing a superfluous head covering. It's not like it was cold and I needed the hat to keep both dry and warm, which would warrant the wearing of the wool cap I wore. I just wanted to keep my head dry or at least dryer than the kind of dry a helmet keeps your head, which isn't very dry at all. Maybe I should stop wearing my cap under my helmet and get a helmet cover. This seems excessive given the length of time I'm actually exposed to the elements, but so are my pathologies. I just wish that helmet covers were more whimsical, but it appears that the fun ones only come in kid sizes.
If you don't have fenders, you're really missing out. Though even if you do have fenders, you can't ride through puddles with total impunity. This is why I bring a change of socks. If only they sold more whimsical shoe covers...
I don't like to holler (ever) at other bicyclists to make sure that they're paying attention, but sometimes it's a necessity. I'd like to assume that all bicyclists out there are conscientious and safety-orientated and hyper-aware of their surroundings and while this is self-aggrandizing, it's also an unfair burden to put on people. Even the most diligent road user is bound to slip up every once in a while and it's better to shout out a warning than to assume that you're seen. I like to use my bell to this end because it seems less personal and judgmental. When shouting from your bike, "hey" or "stop" (which I yelled this morning) are effective because they're short and declarative phrases with clearly intended imperatives. They get the job done, but with little nuance and they seem kind of hostile. No one likes to be yelled at by a stranger, especially if the stranger is also telling you how to comport yourself in public. One of my biggest issues with motorists (and sort of with everyone else) is their willingness to tell others what they should and shouldn't do. It's highly annoying.
As I approached the intersection of Clarendon and Fillmore, riding in the bikelane, I saw another cyclist coming down Fillmore and he definitely wasn't looking for oncoming traffic and he definitely wasn't stopped. I wasn't sure if he was planning to stop at the light or if he was planning on merging into the lane, a maneuver which I'm fairly certain would have resulted in our crashing. So, I yelled "stop" and I biked by. And this is the part where I would normally write "Sorry, dude" but I don't have to write that because the guy later stopped behind me and I turned around and said "Sorry for yelling. I didn't know if you saw me," to which he said "Yeah, I saw you. Thanks" in a way that made it unclear if the thanks was for the helpful yelling or the needless apology.
I rode behind a guy who looked like he's been bike commuting since 1989 but because he was dressed as if it were still 1989. Bedecked in broad-striped polo shirt in maroon and sky blue, canvas/cotton light blue pants, with tube socks pulled up and New Balance sneakers, all topped with a Styrofoam helmet over what was probably a thinning hairline. Either we had a Blast From the Past situation (In how many movies must Brendan Fraser travel through time?) or this was a very, very committed hipster working on his throwback authenticity.
Me and the guy I yelled out ended up riding uphill behind another guy on 35th and I think this is the most bicyclists that have ever ridden up 35th at the same time. Not even joking.
There were more people on bikes out today than I assumed there would be. I think I saw more people riding today than I do on a sunny day. I don't know what, if anything, this says about Washington's (incipient?) bike culture, but I can't help but think that it's a good thing. Unless of course it means that there's a certain cohort of bicycling masochists who only cycle in the rain and take the bus all other times. This would be weird, but since Washington is full of every other kind of masochist, it wouldn't be entirely surprising.
Do you think parents drive safer when they've got their kids in the car? I don't. Just a suspicion, but one born from riding past a bunch of schools each day.
I made the mistake of reading internet comments about bicyclists (never do this) and I don't think that there's a subject that causes otherwise rational and fair-minded people to because hysterical reactionaries. Maybe dog parks. I was thinking on my way up New Mexico about how to address this and I didn't really come up with much. If only New Mexico were longer...
The best I could come up with is this:
1) People act in their own self-interest and are almost always hypocrites.
2) That means you have to make the interests of bicyclists akin to self-interest.
3) That means getting more people to ride bikes.
4) That means making it more convenient to ride and to increase the perception (and reality) of safety
5) That means building dedicated bike facilities, which carve out a space for bikes and reduce
6) That means inducing a violent reaction from non-bicyclists acting for their own perceived self-interest.
7) That means status quo remains and the status quo is anti-bike.
So, yeah, like I said, I didn't get very far. I guess the goal would be to build a large enough constituency of people who bike (note: important to disambiguate 'people who bike' from 'bicyclists') to make it such that the violent opposition is met and matched, but that's hard to do. I'm beginning to remember why I don't try to tackle any of the hard bike issues on the blog and focus mostly on helmet covers and Brendan Fraser.