To me, August is the month of two things: unbearable heat and humidity and a dramatic uptick in busyness at my workplace, which happens to be a university. Accordingly, blog posts might be shorter and less piquant on account of brain melt (from the combination of both factors).
That said, it was surprisingly pleasant this morning. I suppose that summer weather is a question of acclimation and a few days of preposterous hellfire temperatures really make the 90 degree days seem so more much bearable and the 75-85 degree mornings seem downright comfortable. That's about as much strained optimism as I can muster.
I decided to ride the Custis, mostly because it's early in the week and I felt like actually pedaling instead of engaging in the halting, jerky stop-and-go between stop lights. A few people out, some of whom who had backpacks and some who didn't. No one was really pushing it on the trail, keeping it pleasant for a moderately paced morning commuter, but there was the usual variation between slow and less slow and I tried to ride behind one of the less slow riders. He, and I didn't realize this was the correct personal pronoun at first, was wearing a yellow, flowery blousy tank, that left exposed his broadish shoulders, which proved to be the giveaway. Wear what you're comfortable wearing.
Turned out that only the old guy and me were the ones stopping at the bike lights and even the old guy jumped the light when the opposing traffic signal hit yellow. Compliance is always going to be an issue with those lights for a number of factors. Primarily, there's a question of their utility in regulating bicycle traffic that far exceeds car traffic at the given intersections, so even when the bike light is red, there's hardly a car crossing the trail. It would probably be better if an arriving auto tripped the light, but I suppose even then, cyclists will continue to roll through the reds once the one car heads through. There's also the fact that the lights are designed to regulate trail traffic and I would suspect that most trail users see themselves as outside of the "road system" (this fact is especially true when it comes to things like snow plowing, for example) and the idea of road-style traffic regulation on an off-street mixed use trail seems like less than fertile ground, even when employed at an at-grade crossing. So, it's always going to be an uphill battle to get bicyclists (and pedestrians) to obey traffic signals at downhill crossings. I think it'd be wiser in the future for the county to invest in bike-specific turn signals (push activated) if they plan on continue to invest in bike traffic regulators. I think they'd do much more good for cyclists and actually be embraced (assuming they work) rather than aptly questioned.
Saw a girl on a Motobecane get stuck in the right travel lane of the Key Bridge coming off M stop and dismount her bike in front of 2 turning buses rather than continue. That was some gumption. I initially thought she was going to hoist her bike over the guard rail and I stopped to see if there was anything I could do, but instead she just turned around and pedaled off the bridge and back to where the road hits the sidepath. Yes, there was honking- but I think it was directed towards the buses blocking the intersection and not the bicyclist. When she got back onto the sidepath, I asked her if everything was all right to which she responded "yeah, I just missed the turn for the sidewalk" which was incontestably true. I said "ok, no worries" and I have no clue what I meant by that. Probably something like, "I'm sorry for bothering you." I don't know what move is "better"- riding along on the bridge travel lane as cars whiz by at 40mph or a full-stop in front of two turning buses, but she seemed no worse for her decision and the situation resolved itself quite easily.
[Generic complaining about Georgetown streetcar rail removal construction]
[Generic complaining about Georgetown 4 way stop signs]
[Generic complaining about Georgetown drivers passing too closely]
Almost caught up to a guy riding down Tunlaw by Russian Embassy Hill (I need a name for this. Putin's Corner?) who seemed to be taking the turn too widely and I was a little worried that he was going to get passed on the inside by a woman driving a black Honda Civic and a generally unsafe situation would ensure. Drivers: please don't pass cyclists on a curve on the downhill. Cyclists: ride in the middle of the lane to make sure you don't get passed. What makes this dangerous (in my opinion) is that cyclist and driver will collide as they near the end of their turning arcs (cyclist wide, driver short).
Anyway, this didn't happen and then the guy rolled the stop sign and I stopped since there was a driver waiting to turn, even though I could have rolled through at the same time as the aforementioned Civic in front of me. The turning driver didn't acknowledge me. Whenever I do this, I feel like a kid who only eats candy and every one in a while eats a carrot and demands praise for it. It's pretty immature to expect praise for exhibiting the barest sliver of common sense and attention to the rules of the road, but maybe with some more positive reinforcement, I'd be better out there...? ) (...?)
I caught back up to too-wide turn guy by the time we hit the light at Cathedral and I thought we might work our way up the hill together (in defiant solidarity?). This was not the case and he sat up at 43rd, where the hill starts to kick up a little for the last half of the climb, and I went past. Oh well.