Ride In 8/22

So, I'm riding on Clarendon Boulevard behind a guy who's face I never saw. He's on some silvery, shiny hybrid bike that's top tube and down tube have been wrapped in yellow (or yellowed) tape and it's a bit strange. Though, I suppose I'm not one to talk about doing strange things to bicycles considering that I spent more than half hour yesterday sitting on my kitchen floor using a hair dryer set on high to melt the adhesive that held various decals to my bike's frame and scraping away the loosened stickers with an old, broken SmartTrip card, all while being circled by a very curious poodle, who I desperately hoped wouldn't try to eat the sticker flotsam as it blew across the tiled kitchen floor. (I removed the decals because they were coming off anyway and from maybe the desire to have an unadorned black bicycle, which I'm told, by no one, is cool. In fact, conceived this way, it's probably the antithesis of cool. At least I didn't say Nazgul.) So anyway, we're biking along and I'm behind him and riding in the bike lane and he's off a little to the front and riding in the travel lane. There are a few cars in front and a few behind, but it's not exactly super busy. Just after Fillmore and before the entrance to the Market Common Clarendon mall, this guy in a blue Prius (dios mios! That's the kind of car I have) pulls up behind him, honks and wildly gesticulates with a pointed finger that the bicyclist clear the travel lane and move back into the bike lane. He's doing this even though a) there are two travel lanes on Clarendon Boulevard and it would be quite easy for the driver to move into the other one and b) there's a bus in the bike lane and two stopped cars directly in front of the bicyclist that would have stopped the Prius driver anyway and that the bicyclist was moving left to avoid. So, the driver was greeted with a middle finger, extended sideways 'gangsta' style, and then the bicyclist moved around traffic and around Court House turned right down 15th street and I never saw him or the car again.
I hate seeing stuff like this. It's one of those situations where a bicyclist is in the travel lane (legally, though maybe unnecessarily) and he's greeted by someone both ignorant of the laws and, for lack of a better word, violently opposed to his very presence. The driver just looked mad as anything. Not peeved, not piqued, not disgruntled, but angry and far angrier than the situation called for. And while I can't say that the cyclist's reaction was appropriate (though far, far better than stopping and smashing the guy's windshield in with a u-lock), I just don't know if enough drivers fully comprehend the disparity in volume, mass, speed, and specific heat between cars and bikes and how imperiling and terrifying this difference can be. Honk and point at someone in another car, fine, you're both sitting with a few tons of Detroit's Finest (not a real nickname for cars) around you. But doing the same thing to someone on a bike? It's just a totally different ball game (did Don Draper say this about jai alai maybe?). And this was a relatively mundane interaction. So, here's my suggestion for angry drivers. It's the same one as Jeebus might have made lo those many years ago: Honk and manically gesticulate unto others as you would have them honk and manically gesticulate onto you.
Filing this, again, under pet peeves: don't pass me on your bike when I'm stopped waiting for the walk signal. Just please defer to the bicyclist in front of you and if you plan to pass, do so when you're both moving. I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it does and since I'm the one with the blog, well, I'm going to public grind my axes. And then, the offending bicyclist proceeded to teeter across the bridge and passed pedestrians far too closely and too fast for my preference. My general rule of thumb with passing pedestrians on mixed-used paths is to give them as much space as you safely can rather than just enough space to avoid hitting them. You really have no excuse not to do this.
First day of school in DC and the car traffic in Georgetown reflected as much. Unless that was just everyone driving over to Jack's house to pick up their tickets. I might alter my route to avoid going by Duke Elllington, at least for the next couple of weeks during my 'farewell tour' to my current route before we move. As much of a pain climbing through GP and up New Mexico is, it'll probably be better than my impending Mass Ave slog.
A good amount of bicyclists out today and the weather was well-suited for it. It might even be the nicest day of the summer.


  1. Here's a Mass. Ave. alternative: http://tinyurl.com/3bpg8o6

    Still get that big ole uphill from Woodley on Cleveland/Garfield though.

  2. Oh, I've done that one before. Cleveland is not fun, though the parked cars provide a little bit of a gutter/de factor bike lane. Though, I'm not sure what the traffic pattern is like in the AM- it might be two travel lanes. The most disheartening part of that ride is when Garfield slightly dips, only to start going up again by St. Albans. And then, if you turn right on Mass from Garfield, there's another little kick that's not fun either. I might prefer the slow and steady climb of Mass to Cleveland/dip/Garfield/dip/New Mexico super slog. Ride that and you'll be more than ready for the 50 states.

  3. These honkers are annoying and difficult to communicate with. I have had about 5 in the past two days of commutes. Flipping the bird sends the wrong message imho but I haven't figured out what alternatives there are. So far I like to smile.