Ride 10/17

I often start these posts with some sort of reflection on the weather. It sets the scene, but I mostly do it not for storytelling purposes (because really I'm not that sophisticated of a writer), but instead because it's the most immediate thing that I'm forced to confront. Bike commuting, first and foremost, is an outdoor activity and you can't really escape the elements, which provide both background and context for your daily ride. In this case, the elements, and by that, I mean weather, really didn't warrant escaping, as it was a beautiful morning.
This is yeoman's work and I'm glad that someone took the time to do it, but it sure is rife for satire. PASSING ON THE LEFT! (I hope it's not the videographic equivalent of how this blog reads)
I got new brake pads. And I put air in the tires. So, I'm once again "up to code," or whatever the appropriate phrase is for the libertarian's paradise that is bike commuting (no vehicle inspections, no registration, no property taxes, no fuel taxes. I'm really living the dream. Just waiting for the good folks at Cato to give me my blogging  fellowship.)
So, when I see a uniformed person, I tend to clam up and start following laws since I'm (mistakenly?) under the impression that enforcement of laws might be within their job profile. So it's kind of funny when I diligently stopped at the red light by the Folger Library (Othello?), awkwardly alternately making and avoiding eye contact with the uniformed fellow on the other side of the red light, and a woman behind just rides right through it, giving him a pleasant hello and getting a nod in response. After another 30 seconds, when the light turns green and I ride by, I sheepishly said hi and got nothing. What's your deal, guy? More importantly, would it be ok if I jaybiked too?Can we just work out some sort of understanding so I can know how much I don't have to follow traffic laws? I sincerely doubt that any of the security types on the Hill actually care about my biking, but I don't want to make the mistake of riding past the one guy who does.
Pretty quiet up Penn and fewer bicyclists than I would have expected. A lot of people riding on 15th, mostly in groups of 4 or 5, stuck together after bunching at stop lights. It's like an incipient Amsterdam some days.
So, how soon to the protesters leave McPherson Square and start a baked good shop in Georgetown called "Occu-pies DC" and get a reality show? Because I'd watch a program that involves both pies and social justice, grievances against capitalism and delicious flaky, buttery crusts. If DC doesn't act soon, they might be surpassed by Occupy Wall Strudel. Just saying.
Sometimes I'm quite convinced that I'm much more likely to be in a crash resulting from the actions of another cyclist or pedestrian than from the actions of a driver. I don't think the statistic back that up.
Don't totally blow stop signs. I must be getting over-cautious in my old age, but I'm increasingly more concerned about bicyclists not even slowing down at intersections. Even if you don't want to stop, at least slow down, ok? For me? Or for someone else who's vastly more important to you than I am?
At the base of Massachusetts, I saw that there was another bicyclist riding up the hill on the roadway. I decided that, for the purpose of safety (maybe?), I would ride behind her and slightly to her outside, giving us a "critical mass" that might be useful in alerting drivers to our presence and perhaps getting us some extra space. She was wearing purple jeans and riding a red Jamis road bike. I got the distinct impression (from the jeans I think) that she was German. There was also something slightly Teutonic about her face (I retract this statement if it can be perceived as racist in any way). We rode up the hill and for the most part it went ok. I don't think she knew I was there and at a certain point I decided that I would ride around her and be the person riding in the front since that seems like I thing worth doing and maybe even abiding with some unspoken bike commuting etiquette. So I did and she rode on my wheel for a while. Only a few drivers chose to imperil us by passing within a foot, so I guess that's a victory. It's still better to ride off the street. I wanted to ask her if she rode up Mass every day. Because I'd like to know how she copes with it since, to me, getting passed so closely, is highly vexing.
Like biking? Have handcuffs? Well, you could do this.
You're under arrest.


  1. That actually looks like a Master Lock Cuff, not handcuffs. It's a pretty decent lock, actually. I don't recommend using handcuffs as a method of locking, as handcuffs use a universal key--and there are two types of people that carry handcuff keys around with them-cops & criminals. Your bike won't be there too long ;-)

    The best way to determine whether or not a law enforcement officer will stop you for committing a a traffic violation is not to do it in the first place. Then you don't have to worry. Besides being incredibly silly to do in the presence of one, its also very disrespectful.

    I, too, feel your pain with fellow cyclists & stop signs. I was almost taken out (again), by a cyclist that completely blew through a stop sign without even slowing down as I was entering the intersection (after having stopped and mistakenly assumed the other cyclist understood that I had the right of way). *sigh* Jerks use all modes of transport.

  2. Alas, K.C.'s rule doesn't work with parking enforcers. Or NYC cops who don't like Citibank customers for some reason. There are probably more examples, unfortunately.

  3. @K.C- I'm pretty much in agreement about not violating traffic laws in front of all uniformed people (MPD, Capitol Hill police, Park Police, security guards, football players, etc.) and that's why I tend not to do it and will continue not to in the future. It just struck me as odd that he seemed so ok with her running the light this morning (and was so friendly about it). Even if he didn't care, shouldn't he have at least looked like sternly disapproved of her action?
    @BW- I don't fully get your point about parking enforcers. Have you ticketed by one while riding?

  4. Just meant that obeying the rules doesn't guarantee you won't be ticketed. My legally parked car has drawn pink paper once or twice.

  5. Ok, gotcha. I'm more concerned about the consequences of not obeying the rules, which I understand can be, most aren't necessarily, quite severe.

  6. The uncertainty of which laws law enforcement will pick to put on you is the worst. I was once riding through Falls Church, and knowing there was an officer almost right behind me, slowly and cautiously sort of went through a red light, and got pulled over almost immediately. That after generally not even being given a second glance when doing the same thing by officers of all the other local jurisdictions.

    As to the brush of death, when I get the brush pass, I like to take a little wider to the road, where people will respect your lane. If they don't want to give a little respect, that forces them to respect you, since they gain nothing then by going close. I know it doesn't work for the first jerk, but it's something.

  7. Ha! I've witnessed the same event at E Capitol and 2nd many times, and wondered the same thing. I've always stayed at the red though. Capitol police are very tolerant of bikes in my experience.

  8. It's a remarkably long light given the amount of traffic on 2nd, which seems to be fairly light. Not nearly as frustrating as the phantom lights at Constitution and Delaware. But staffers have to park...