But enough about my woes. Let's consider my bicycle trip instead. It was a gray morning, but I made it to work without having to don a jacket or deal with rain. I don't think that this will be the case this afternoon, but at least my clothes will be dry when I put them on later. Small things.
They should call it Blinkin' Park because sometimes the stop light goes out and flashes yellow. (On a side note, they should not call it Blinkin' Park under any circumstance because this is ridiculously lame.) Flashing yellow lights are terrible things for bicyclists. Around the park, I saw someone on a bike that looked suspiciously like Betty, but I don't think it was friend of the blog, K.C. Just another person ripping off her style.
Constitution before Maryland Ave was crowded and I deftly (in my opinion) made it through the stopped cars, though I think I'm going to stop doing this and just ride in the middle of the travel lane. It's a risk-reward thing and I'm not sure that the risks of riding in the two feet between parked cars and stopped cars is really worth it. To almost all bike "problems," the answer is almost always "take the lane." That or "take the bus," but that's not really a pro-cycling stance. (pro cycling stance?)
If you've ever wanted the super power of invisibility, just ride a bike in the city. I swear, you become instantly cloaked and disappear from the vision of those around you. And I'm not just talking about drivers. I watched a pedestrian almost walk right into the guy riding in front of with absolutely no awareness whatsoever that we were coming. This was in the middle of the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane, which is in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. And this wasn't one of those "close calls" where the pedestrians and cyclist do a little dance about who is going to yield to whom (though she was jaywalking, but that's not that important) after seeing each other. She just had no clue that we were coming, even though we were riding on a wide-open stretch of road, unobstructed by any vehicle or road object, in the middle of a wide and very prominent lane. It was bizarre.
Believe it or not, I didn't start this blog so I could foist my unsolicited bicycling advice on people. But, it's an unintended consequence, so here are some things I've been thinking about lately.
- Don't listen to other people's advice. Ride your bike in a way that makes you feel safe and comfortable. Ultimately, you're the one out there, so you have to make your own decisions.Never feel pressured to ride in a manner that you don't like.
- Pass while moving. This is more of an etiquette issue than anything else, but it's worth stating. Please don't ride in front of someone while they're stopped. Everyone rides at a different pace and the primary advantage of passing while moving is that it ensures that you're passing someone who is traveling at a slower pace than the one you prefer. Also, pass on the left.
- Slow down enough at stop signs. I've noticed this more since I've moved- the total running of stop signs. Firstly, see suggestion one and feel free to ignore this, but I think it's a generally bad idea to not slow down at all when rolling through a stop sign. While I'll freely admit that I don't come to a complete stop (you know, just like a driver doesn't), I slow down enough to make sure that I could stop in time if I had to. Because crazy, unexpected stuff can happen at intersections and I'd like to give myself at least a chance to wind up worse off if it does.
- If you're going to jaybike, do it well. So you've stopped at a red, looked left and right and determined that no one is coming. So you go through the intersection. You should only do this is you're completely, 100% sure that you're not impacting any other road user in any way possible. You cause a driver to slow down, you're doing it wrong. If you cause a pedestrian to hesitate or jump back on the curb, you've failed. Jaybiking is not legal (FYI), so if you're going to do it, don't screw it up. And if you get caught and get a ticket, don't complain. Them's the breaks.
- If you ride on the sidewalk, be deferential to pedestrians. Don't ride on the sidewalk where it's expressly forbidden, but if you're riding somewhere where it's legal, you should treat pedestrians in a way that you expect motorists to treat you on the roadway. That means passing with caution, slowing down and with ample warning. Also be patient. You always have the option of riding in the road, so be a respectful guest. Pedestrians don't have anywhere else to go. Bonus: be extra attentive around dogs and children.And child dogs, which I believe are called puppies.
- Drop back when a car is turning right. So you're riding along and you see the car in front you plans to turn right. I suggest that you take that opportunity to merge directly behind the car, make yourself visible in the driver's rear-view mirror and let the driver turn right, rather than getting yourself into a right hook situation. I think that the driver might even appreciate it because, to be perfectly honest, the vast, overwhelming majority of them aren't out to get you; they're just regular people going about their days and if you can ride in a way that makes it safer for everyone, you might as well try.
- Don't mess the dump trucks. The golden rule.