11/4/11

Ride In 11/4

I was well out the door before I realized that I had forgotten my helmet. I almost forget my helmet every day, but since I was wearing street clothes today, I suppose I was even more susceptible to the belief that I was just a normal person heading to work and not one who needs/ought to don additional safety gear. The biggest impact, thankfully, was that my head was cold and I stopped along East Capitol to put my hat on. It's gray and it clashed with my camel (colored, not material) sweater, but I hardly think that matters.
I will reiterate once again redundantly (doubly) that you should try pass bicyclists on the left side and not on the right side, especially at an intersection. Passing someone on the inside, as it will, suggests to them that he or she might want to move leftward into traffic to accommodate you. This seems sort of brutish. In other DC transportation conventions (driving, Metro escalators, etc.), this logic is applied, so why not to bicycling?
I guess it's still shorts weather.
Another sighting of she of the Electra Amsterdam. Same windbreaker, brown boots and not foot shoes. I think she tried to race me off the line when the light changed.
I saw Ward 2 Councilperson Jack Evans make an illegal u-turn across the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes in order to park in front of the Wilson building. I even doubled back to make sure that it was him, but the special DC Council license plate sort of gave it away. No one was in danger of getting hit (I think I was the closest person and still about 50 feet away) and far be it from me to castigate someone for violating a traffic law, something I do all the time. But I think it speaks to a larger problem with those lanes, namely that they're not actually separated from traffic. Before I saw Jack Evans do it, I saw a UPS driver do the same thing, but in the other direction. Habitually, I spot taxi drivers and other motorists doing the same thing. So long as the bike lanes are just paint stripes on the ground, with no actual physical separation aside from a couple of bollards as you approach an intersection, drivers will keep making illegal u-turns across them. I'd like to think than an enforcement regime and ticketing would work to discourage this behavior, but no amount of enforcement could ever substitute for the 24-7 presence of a physical barrier, which are precluded because of motorcades or inaugural parades or something. So, I guess the best 'barrier' would be bicyclists themselves. If we use the lanes such that they're constantly full of bicyclists, then drivers won't be able to turn across them. Yes, I'm aware that that's rather pollyanna.
Caution tape remains. Disappointing.
Almost witnessed a bike/ped collision in the 15th street cycletrack. A guy crossed the track to get to his parked car to get a bag of some sort and stepped back into the track as another cyclist and I were approaching from the south. He saw us and froze and we rode around him, veering into the other lane, if you will, of the cycletrack and into oncoming bike traffic. We got back over to the right before I heard one of the bicyclists that just rode past us scream "Watch out!" to the guy crossing the track. Screeching of brakes, but I don't think there was any actual collision. I suppose this is the peril of putting the bicycle infrastructure on the inside of the parked cars. Bicyclists ought to be rather cautious, but I'm always amazed at the number of pedestrians who have no clue that they're standing in the cycletrack, especially at intersections. I don't know if better signage is needed or people will just learn over time. I don't know.
Wait at stop lights and other cyclists will ride in front of you to wait at stoplights, but slightly closer to the other side of the street. One today had mustache socks, or at least one mustache sock.
Those are mustaches on her sock.
The traffic on the other side of the intersection didn't clear after our light turned green, mostly because of 'parked' cars in front of the elementary school. The guy in front of mustache socks got wedged between the a black car and the curb, with no real room to ride forward, but the driver in misplaced deference wouldn't move, so the bicyclist impatiently and gruffly shouted "Go. Just Go." The driver did and that cleared enough space for us to ride through, only to get slowed/stopped again by people driving in the bike lanes on account of the 'parked' cars in front of the school. The scare quotes are meant to indicate that the cars had their flashers on and were idling and empty, but not in proper parking spaces. This is about the jerkiest thing you can do.
Almost got hit by a speeding car on Massachusetts. Passed by within a foot or two, even though I thought I was far enough off the curb to make it clear that there wasn't sufficient room to pass me safely. That only led to the driver passing me unsafely. This time, I went with "whoa...holy shit" with a the nearly continuous 'o' sound only briefly punctuated to aspirate, so it might have sounded like I was saying "woe-ly" which sounds vaguely Shakespearean. I sort of yelled it, too and the old lady crossing the street at the corner didn't want to make eye contact with me when I came to a stop. I wanted to ask her if she saw what happened, but I'm sure that the response given wouldn't have been affirming. Oh well.

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