Weather Jeebus smiled upon us this morning and blessed his minions, for his is a powerful deity, with one of those very rare days when it's an absolutely perfect for a morning bicycle ride. Sunny, but not too sunny, temperate, very light breeze. Altogether, couldn't really ask for anything better. I think that Mother Nature, who I believe is secret married to Weather Jeebus (per Dan Brown?), is rewarding us for suffering through the rain last week.
I like to check the twitters before leaving in the morning because occasionally someone will point out some detail about local traffic conditions that will give me good reason to change my route. This morning, I saw this and decided to skip the massive inconvenience that would probably meet me upon trying to bike through the area. Bike lanes quickly turn into driving lanes whenever there's any kind of road closure. Plus, I'd rather not have to worry about commingling with gawking and/or peeved drivers, distracted and/or upset by caution tape and fire trucks.
Speaking of gawking and/or peeved drivers, sometimes drivers gawk and/or get peeved when interacting with bicycle and pedestrian traffic at the intersection of Lee Highway and Lynn Street. I don't know if I've mentioned it previously (wink wink), but there's a meeting tonight at 6:30 at said intersection where you can learn about (and presumably suggest) safety improvements to the area. My proposed solutions aren't exactly that exciting (ban right turns on red), but they're also pretty cheap. Another place I would ban right turns on red would be the intersection of Lee Highway and Fort Myer, where I heard a yellow-shirted cyclist scream at some driver after a close call, wherein the front of the driver's jeep Grand Cherokee peaked around the corner and the bicyclist was coming down the hill and starting to cross the street. A few thoughts on this: Yes, a driver shouldn't hit you with his car and the driver is under an obligation to not do so. But, I question the wisdom of riding along this part of the trail at a very high rate of speed, which Mr. Yellow Shirt was doing. Yes, it's the trail, but it's not really "traily" (not a word) there. See:
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I'm really not blaming the cyclist (he was doing nothing "illegal"), but I suggest to users of this stretch of trail to go slowly and with ample caution because drivers around here, in spite of the plethora of signs alerting them to the presence of bicyclists, really aren't looking and I think it's a good idea to operate under that belief than the perhaps foolish one that relies on equating "trail" with "safety." Another issue at the intersection is bike traffic coming up Fort Myer, most of which is one the sidewalk (trail) and a bicyclist, if not paying attention, might inadvertently ride into path of someone coming down the hill. It's kind of a blind corner there, made worse by the shrubbery. Maybe there should be some sort of bike stop sign painted on the sidewalk (wait, that's not a good idea). The better solution would be, I think, a painted bike lane on Fort Myer that runs from the bridge to Wilson. But I'm not holding my breath.
Fun times as usual in Georgetown. A charming jogger sort of tried to race me uphill, but from the opposite sidewalk. I "won." The usual traffic hullabaloo has only gotten worse and my exasperation has only gotten more visible. My head-shaking and shrugs per mile are way up. So is my almost falling, but I won't tell you about that per this. There's a giant divot (maybe 3 feet long and a foot down) on 36th street between R and S that's a real hazard to bicyclists. It's also full of light brown mud, which is odd. There's probably a baby Sarlacc down there (unconfirmed).
So, I've recently been thinking about the massive inconvenience my biking causes to the drivers around me, in that sometimes they have to slow down a little bit so as to not hit me. And because math tends to be a solution for things (figuring out your grocery bill, sending astronauts to space, etc.), I've turned to it to try to give me some perspective on the deleterious effect I'm causing. From the base of New Mexico Avenue to the top, the last part of my ride, is .8 miles. The speed limit along here is (supposed to be) 25 miles per hour. That means, at a consistent rate of speed (thus, discounting the stop lights), a driver should make it up the hill in about a minute 55 seconds. But sometimes, there are bicyclists there (me, mostly) and a driver might have to reduce his rate of speed in order to safely get around the bicyclist. To be prudent, let's say that the driver drops his speed for 25 mph to 10 mph for, let's say, 100 feet. Now, .8 miles is 4224 feet, meaning that the driver will go for 4124 feet at 25 mph (2200 ft/min) and 100 feet at 10 mph (880 ft/min) for a rough time of 1.87 minutes and .11 minutes respective and a total of roughly 1.97 minutes or 1 minute and 58 seconds. So, that's that. The difference between slowing down slightly on New Mexico to pass a bicyclist and not doing so is 3 seconds. (Someone please check my math). Is your 3 seconds worth my safety?
So, I don't know how much I'll be riding and blogging this week since I might be headed out of town. I will keep you, my loyal cadre of readers, posted as best I can, either through the blogging machine or through the twitter machine (I have two separate machines, both of which take up entire rooms and are full of giant cathode ray tubes). On the off chance that this is my last ride on my current route- wow, that really sneaked up on me- it's been a pretty good route and I'll sort of miss it. Arlington is a wonderful place to ride a bicycle (though it could be better still) and I heartily encourage you to try it some time.