I think this was the first ride in since we moved when I really felt good. It was a smooth ride, I felt relatively sure of where I was going and the hassles were minimal. The weather was outstanding- crisp and slightly cooler than I expected, but with a gauzy morning yellow gray light and an intermittent (which means between mittens) breeze that hardly qualified as wind at all. In short, it was gorgeous and while I might have been underdressed in shorts and short sleeves, especially in juxtaposition to those in full winter ensembles, pea coats and vests and North Face and no doubt palms sweating in their inter-mittens, I found the temperature to be more than acceptable for a summery biking wardrobe.
I guess there was some hubbub/hullabaloo (so hard to know which) at the Capitol this morning, involving a mysterious metal cylinder and causes evacuations and road closures. There were certainly plenty of police cars about and jacketed burly men standing squarely in sidewalks, but what else is new? I don't know why everything that causes a shutdown must be labeled a "suspicious package." Surely this must have a dampening effect on mail deliveries and I wouldn't be surprised if this unspecific security jargon was solely (partly) responsible for the Post Office's financial woes. Nonetheless, I rode on the grounds of the Capitol, parallel to Constitution, on the sidewalk which was fine except for the non-ADA compliance of it all and the unexpected 5 inch drops between curb and street that I managed to see and avoid. Inconvenient, but I suppose it'll dissuade any two-wheeled vehicular menacing of our legislature. I'll probably just stick to the street, especially since it (Constitution) slightly widens at First, NE.
Penn Ave was fine because I arrived before the next bout of suspicion caused road closures, since now resolved. I took a new route, turning right onto 11th, which I found to be fantastic. My only suggestion, and I'm confident I'm not the only one to make it since it's already in the DC Bike Master Plan, is that the bike lanes on 11th be extended from where they currently stop/start at Mass Ave to Pennsylvania. I'm just suggesting that we can maybe do it sooner. 11th, as math suggests, is halfway between the inadequate 7th street shared bike/bus lane and the 15th street cycletrack, and it didn't even seem that busy. Perhaps we, and by we I either mean the officially sanctioned road painted at DDOT or a band of rouge, white line painting bike-friendly vigilantes, could make this happen prior to the opening of City Center.
Some advice. Massachusetts Avenue eastbound traffic gets a red light about 30 seconds before westbound trafffic at 11th. Do not jump the red when you see the eastbound traffic stop. Doing so might have negative health consequences.
The transition from 11th to R is fine, though the bike lane does disappear after Q for a reason I don't fully understand (maybe so diagonal car parking can be accommodated?) It would be awfully nice if DDOT or vigilantes connected the lanes on 11th from Q to Florida (where they pick up again).
R street fun. Behind a guy with a giant messenger bag. Maybe he was doing a bike move, because I can't imagine he needs to bring that much stuff to work with him. If he does, he might want to consider a new job.
Someone dropped a u-lock on R and it remained abandoned. That's rough.
There's a good amount of north-south traffic at each numbered street between 11th and Dupont. I guess cyclists are more likely to bike down into town on whatever street is closest to them rather than to bike over to streets with lanes or the cycletrack. Interesting.
At the base of the hill past Sheridan Circle, I rode up behind two other bicyclists who looked like they were about to ascend Massachusetts. Sweet, I thought, as a group we can all ride together and perhaps feel safer, but that wasn't the case and they pulled over to the side. After the masjid, which in real American means "place that evokes ignorant bigotry", I decided that I would ride on the sidepath up Massachusetts. It was great decision. As much as I want to stand up for bicyclists or whatever, I don't need the daily stress of being passed too closely by speeding drivers. It's not pleasant and I don't need to prove a point- I just need to get to work. Free from the clenched shoulders and paranoid, over-listening, I felt free to ride and I was rewarded with springy legs and a much better climb. I might have even smiled a little. Only a few pedestrians and bicyclists in both directions and the paucity of curb cuts means that I didn't have to worry too much about cars coming across my path.
Coming down Mass on the other side was another story, having almost been hit by a dump truck (first rule: don't fuck with dump trucks) as the driver and I approached where the on street parking begins and the road narrows from two lanes to one at the same time. He managed to keep his wheels mostly on the left side of the white line and I managed to slow to the point where I didn't hit the pinch point and exactly the same time he did and aside from my saying "shit" after it was all over, there wasn't much in the way of consequences.
Has anyone ever done a study of the way that pedestrians jockey for space waiting for the crosswalk to turn? It's sort of fascinating. You've got the rushers and the oblivious and the cutters and the patient ones who hang back to see what paths develop. And you've got the ones who walk right in front of bicyclists.