Ride Home 4/29

I'm trying to write this post in the amount of time it takes to bake raspberry scones. Excuse me if elide over some details, like the actual biking. Just kidding. It's not like I'm just going to cop out and post a bunch of random pictures.
Two part ride yesterday on account of having to go to a baseball game. I say "having to" because it was my boss's boss's boss's (you can see how low I am on the totem pole), aka the Dean's, retirement party and it was taking place at the baseball game. Whereas my colleagues decided to take their chances with the Metro, I biked down Massachusetts through Dupont Cicle and then to 15th. It might not have been the most direct way to get there, but I really struggled with how to get there. I could have maybe gone down through Georgetown then the Rock Creek Trail at the end of K to Ohio Drive to somehow connect to the not-quite-Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, but I remembered that it was Friday and that's when the Rock Creek Trail would be full of zombie joggers, mindlessly trudging their way through life while taking up more space that necessary. So, I stuck to streets. Massachusetts is a highway. I wouldn't recommend it to newer bicyclists or bicyclists who need newer brakes. Dupont was only a little bit of a cluster.  I really wish that there was a bike lane between Dupont and 15th Street, but instead I rode in a combination of parking lane and right travel lane. Not much room to squeeze through in some spots.
Oh, the Kleinway. I've ridden it more more recently than I ever had before and I have to say that I really enjoy it. It just feels so civilized.
From there it was to Pennsylvania Avenue. I rode past the turn because the bollars extend to the pedestrian crosswalk rather than just stop at the bike signal. Whoops. Got passed on Pennsylvania by hipster-girl on fixie and superbiker on superbike. I wasn't dawdling or anything- that's just rush hour, I guess.
I turned off of Penn to 4th, took 4th through Urban Renewal-stan/Great Society-ville. I'm strangely enchanted by the area south of the Mall and north of the freeway. From there, I rode down to P and rode in the oncoming car lane up P to avoid the traffic waiting to turn onto South Capitol. Then it was to the bike valet at the stadium, which I will write more about in a separate post later. Sorry if you've read this far lured by the idea that I'd write about it here.
Leaving the stadium after the revelry, hot dogs and gouge-ily priced beer, I initially planned to maybe take fake-ART to 14th Street and then get on a trail, but I declined. I'm not confident that my front light has enough juice to fully illuminate the trails in Virginia. I don't know what the light situation is like over there, since I've never really had occasion to ride them at night. And by them I mean the Mount Vernon Trail and the W &OD to George Mason Drive. I rode the Mount Vernon Trail once at night from the TR Bridge past TR Island and that was the darkest, most dangerous ride I've ever done. A blinky is not sufficient, even when it's 5 LEDs.
Scone beeper went off, but I'm gonna push through.
So, I went back almost the way I came. Over and up 4th which was a ghost town, past the Mall (very bumpy in front of the National Gallery) and then onto Pennsylvania again. I stopped in front of the White House and took a picture.

If you like taking bad pictures of tourist attractions, it's way better to due when riding a bike than when on the Metro. What they get to see of tourist DC is this:
Bike cop in Georgetown. I don't know where he was going. He didn't look like he was doing anything official. 

Back in Arlington, nothing new. Wilson is a pretty good street for night riding. Clarendon was semi-jumping, in the way that Clarendon always is. They still haven't paved near our street, but the bike really just seems to love that and just eats up the rough patches. Thanks, bike.


Ride In 4/29

While I recognize that many of you visit this blog for its written description of bicycle commuting (hello Mrs. Snyder's 3rd grade class!), I know that sometimes my style can be overly attenuated, incoherent, inaccurate and thoroughly lacking. That's why today I'm compensating with an awesome adequate photo collection. Here goes:

I pass this church every day on Fairfax. Today, I saw that they are/were organizing a RESURRECTION BIKE RIDE. I know that bicyclists can be self-righteous, so I'm glad that we've kicked it up to blasphemous. "You may drive to work, but I bike. Sometimes it rains and I suffer. Like Jesus." Did you know that the Mount of Olives is an HC climb?

The bikes lights are here! The bike lights are here! Long discussed at the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, bicycle traffic signals are, much like the second Death Star at one point, fully operational.  I was compliant because that's why they put them in. And because I wanted to get a picture and it took a while to get the camera out. I can't say whether other cyclists obeyed the light because no one else was there when it was red. It even has a green:
 There's another set down at Quinn, but they're not on yet. I don't know to what extent they'll succeed in regulating bike traffic coming down to trail. Only time (and the diligent counting performed by Arlington County staff) will tell.
How do you choose your tour bus company when you want to run a tour bus? Assuming truth in advertising, I always base my decisions solely on the what's on the side of the bus. That bus tour is going to be FUN!
Hey, Georgetown! Let's install a bike rack in front of LXR. I think there's some demand for it. This is an eyesore. Where's CAG on this? Let's get this addressed in the 2010 Campus Plan. Won't someone please think of the children neighbors bicycles!?

I love buses and I love bus ads. I also think that practicing safe sex is important, especially in light of the AIDS crisis in Washington. And I get what the copywriters in this ad are trying to do (sort of). I'm just not sure they were very artful about it. Maybe there's an * that I just can't see after the "put one on" that says "when about the engage in sexual activity." I don't think they're advocating round-the-clock condom usage. But I could be wrong and this ad might be underwritten by Big Rubber. I wonder if that guy on the bus knew why I was taking a picture.
"What's wrong, doc?"
"Well, I fear you have a case of Texas and it's terminal."

Not much growing yet in the Glover (you can't) Park community garden. It's still early yet. In summer, it'll really get going and that'll be nice.My wife might actually be helping a friend garden here this weekend.

Another Cross Check in the wild. Locked up outside of the Starbucks on New Mexico. Be careful- from the look of that wheel on the ground it might not be totally safe there. 
So, that's my morning ride in pictures. Sorry, no blingees today. Next time- I promise. 
In non-me news, looks like they've just finished installing the Bikeshare station at Farragut Square. I think this is a pretty big deal. Next big deal will be when Foggy Bottom is in, which I hope will be soon. Bikeshare right at Metro stations is hugely important and I hope Alta has a good plan for handling morning and evening rush hours.


Ride Home 4/28

There's a dip at the bottom of the hill that is New Mexico Avenue, NW where the temperature feels about five degrees cooler. It's sort of a weird experience,  but it's so short-lived, I never thought to comment on it. But, I guess I've gotten desperate for content. Remember that whole Turkish Airlines thing? Reeks of desperation.
I raised my seat post an inch or two the other day and I think it's a better fit now. Not to sound too bikey, but I think I'm getting more power when on my down stroke. This means that next time an old lady passes me, I might be able to catch back up and get within shouting distance. I should probably yell something about Paul Ryan and Medicare but that would probably just spur her to pedal faster.
There's a bike route sign that I pass every day that gives the distances to Woodley Park and the Mount Rainier. I know that, like you, when I'm biking around DC I always want to know how far I am from both of those places. They're also dog-eared in my Frommer's, much as they're dog-eared in my heart. Is there really nothing else of note in the 7.3 miles between Glover Park and Mount Rainier? Really?
I don't like when dudes in white tank tops ride CaBis the wrong way down one way streets in Georgetown. That might be a controversial stand, but that's how I feel. At least do it in a shirt with sleeves. You're making the rest of us look bad.
I think I saw a new Brian Weaver sign today. Not one that I didn't notice before, but one that's been put up since the election. Pushing your candidate after he already lost? Now that's unbendingly liberal.
On the M Street sidewalk between 34th and the Key Bridge, I was biking behind a family of three. The little girl announced "move over, guys" to her parents (or amiable kidnappers? I don't want to assume) that were a few feet in front of her to let me pass. Thanks, little girl. I said as much when I passed, but I'm sure reading this blog is on most 3rd grade curricula, so I wanted to repeat that message here.
I'm calling in the bike that's been locked up to a lamppost at 18th and Oak tonight. If it's yours, go get it. If you plan on stealing it, clock's ticking. Bolt cutters should do the trick.
Thanks Arlington County for filling the hellmouth/really big pothole on Wilson in front of the Safeway. I've been meaning to write about this for a few days, but I kept forgetting. It's important to provide positive feedback to municipalities for the services they provide and the good work they do. They're like Tinker Bell in that way. A
A few close-ish calls with a few cars pulling out of parking spots today. These things happen. In one case, it was a white SUV was a Cape Cod sticker pulling out of a parking spot in order to make a right about 50 feet up from where he was parked. I think that the relatively mundanity of his driving maneuver led to a lack of diligence on his part. According to this totally unsourced website, 52% of car "accidents" happen within 5 miles of home. I believe it. The more routine the driving situation, the more likely you are to take for granted the things around you and just assume that the familiarity of the environment is synonymous with safety. But, then again, it could be because of this:
“Forty percent of all trips in the US are two miles or less,” said Randy Neufeld, President of America Bikes. “Giving people the option to bike and walk can alleviate traffic, encourage healthy lifestyles, and create safe and inexpensive travel options. The even better news is cities across the country are showing us that if you give people that option, they really do walk and bike more.”
It stands to reason is 40% of car trips are two miles or less than proportionally "accidents" would be the same. But, that's for scientists and real bloggers to hash out.
Another cyclist and I diverged at the intersection of Wilson and Fairfax Drive by Northside Social. Whereas he stayed on Wilson, I biked down Fairfax and then left onto Quincy. While I was waiting at the light at the intersection Quincy and Wislon, he came down Wilson and proceeded to turn left onto Quincy in the direction that I was heading. I guess it's no faster to take Wilson than it is to get on Fairfax, which has a bike lane. At least if we assume ceteris paribus. Maybe ceteri are not paribi and I bike faster than this other guy. I don't really know. What I'm trying to say, in the most belabored and probably annoying way possible, is that given the option of two routes, one with bike lane and one without, you can take the one that seems safer for you and it will make no difference in the overall time elapsed.
Henderson between Glebe and George Mason is still not paved, but it's only been a day. No big deal.

Ride In 4/28

There are days when I listen to what Tony and Tucker tell me and there are other days when I don't care. Today, I cared. While sometimes the word "funnel" in front of something means delicious carnival snack, other times it means deadly weather event. And though I was fairly confident that the most terrible of the oncoming storms would miss DC, I wanted to lessen my likelihood of being caught in even just a bad thunderstorm, so I left home earlier than usual in an attempt to beat the storm. Is this the plot line for the upcoming movie Twister 2 in which Helen Hunt and Bill Paxson play bike commuters trying to avoid tornadoes rather than track them in their super van? I sure hope not. That would be a terrible movie.
I took my usual storm precaution of riding down Wilson, which is superior for its many stopping-off points (7-11, Starbucks, Telecommunications Industry Association) in case the weather got too bad. Luckily, it didn't.
I think I might be more patient than most other bike commuters. I don't mind waiting behind a car or two at a stop light. There's no use cutting to the front if they're just going to pass you as soon as the light changes.
I saw the all-electric-powered Arlington mobile visitor center and rode alongside of it for a few blocks. While this visitor center does many things, like:
provide visitors shopping, dining, sightseeing and entertainment information for Arlington and the region. Guests can pick up tourism materials and get personalized guidance for exploring the capital area. They can also experience local sights and sounds on the center’s high-definition screen; locate neighborhoods, Metro stops, shopping venues and other key sites on a large map display; or have a team member arrange dinner or theater reservations via a wireless laptop 
It apparently doesn't do this while driving. That's a shame because I was really hoping to set up a dinner reservation. There's a charming Taco Bell on Lee Highway.
Maybe someday I'll take pictures of all the bikes I pass by that are chained to sign posts. Perhaps on a day when it's nicer and there's sun and I'm not trying to beat a torrential downpour. I wonder how many of them are abandoned and how many of them are just neglected. If you don't want your bike any more, just give it to these guys instead of leaving it as sad street art.

Ride Home 4/27 part II

It was a two part, actually three and a half part, ride home. I initially rode from my office to Revolution Cycles in Georgetown, to which I had a coupon for 20% of anything in stock. I walked around for a little, but I might have hit peak bike shit and I couldn't find anything that really even caught my eye. For a while I was walking around holding some socks, but how lame it that? That coupon runs out today. I suppose I could use it on some new cleats or maybe some Simple Green, but I could also just wait until my next month's commuter benefit gets here and pick that up for free.
Coming down from work to Georgetown wasn't especially eventful. I don't know what makes some days more heavily trafficked than others. I think, though, in the "summer" (which starts in the next two weeks), the colleges might empty out and perhaps that will reduce some congestion? I don't really know. I've always been a bit dubious of claims that students are somehow responsible for the preponderance of automobile traffic in these areas (AU Park, Glover Park, Burleith, Georgetown), but maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for cars and students. Wait a minute- that doesn't sound like me at all!
I attended a Greater Greater Washington-sponsored (hosted?) happy hour last night at Tynan in NoMa, which is a neighborhood established by Boston expats trying to recapture the glorious days of misery before 2004 and named after their icon (this might not actually be true). Going east to west and vice versa by bike in this city doesn't always have an obvious clear path. It's also hard to do if you don't like riding in traffic circles, across diagonal streets or on streets with no clear bike infrastructure (as of now). So, I set off down M Street and then it started raining. Since I was wearing work clothes and these were the clothes I intended to wear to the happy hour and I didn't want to arrive soaked, I decided to stop in front of the Intermix in the Geogetown Park mall and avail myself of their awning. I decided that the "smart play" (note: not actually that smart, just sort of obvious) would be to put on my jacket and turn on my lights. With that done, I set off again and it immediately stopped raining.
So, here's how I go across town. I take M to Penn to L. You're only on Penn for a little and it's important to get over into the left lane in order to turn onto L. You can normally do this pretty easily, especially if you take a more liberal view of your ability to move through a red light prior to its technically turning green. Anyway, if you can't get over, you can just stop at Penn and 25th Street and then cross at the crosswalk and get on L. L street is a pretty nice bike street because its wide and it's frequently used by cyclists, so motorists in general know to look out. You can ride on the left side if you want because that's where the parking/loading is and there's normally a little "gutter" there between a parked or idling car or delivery van and the left lane marking. Generally, I like to ride on the right though. I took L to Massachusetts and then past Mount Vernon square, a left on 7th and then a right on K. This K Street isn't like highway K street- it's fairly sedate even. Then, it was K to 1st NE and then up to N. So, that's how I got there. It was a nice time and I met some nice people.
Coming home was much the same way until Mount Vernon Sqaure, then it was I street, which is one way west to Pennsylvania. If you ever need to choose who would win a race down I street between me in street clothes on a Cross Check and some dude on a metallic lime green Vespa, pick me.
I was back in Arlington before it started to rain. It didn't rain hard so that was nice. It was dark, so I didn't notice that the little stretch of Henderson between Glebe and George Mason had been ripped up for repaving. I hope that they put some sharrows on it when it's repainted.


Ride Home 4/27 part I

This isn't a real post. I just wanted to let both all of you know that I'm home safe and I'll be writing up the real post tomorrow. Will it have drama? Will it have strange happenings? Will it have tornados? No, not really.

Ride In 4/27

I'm not really going to dedicate space on this blog to talk about gas prices. There are other sites that tout the benefits of bicycling and costs savings or whatever. I think it's important to remember though, instead of chortling, that high gas prices affect regular people who've been sold a false bill of goods for decades and have been let down by generations of politicians and policy makers through their lack of forethought, planning and honesty. Plus, if I were any more self-righteous, I'd have to get SMUG LIFE tattooed on my chest a la Tupac.
One of those DC days where the humidity is somehow over 100%. I thought that it was going to rain, but the storm never broke, at least not where I was riding.
A good number of riders out in Arlington, but I didn't see any CaBis. I did see a lot of cars. Ipso facto, the Republicans of Arlington County were right! I'm generally exhausted by "debates" like this, but I'm glad that other bike writers out there continue to fight the good fight. They do it so I don't have to. Instead, I write about nonsense like this- do you know that new Turkish Airlines commercial with Kobe Bryant? I think it's pretty great. I think it's so great that I can't stop singing "we are turkish airlines/we are globally yours." I find it to be hauntingly beautiful.
Based on the number of campaign signs I saw, I'm pretty sure that Vincent Orange is going to win. Oh wait.  They weren't there yesterday morning, so I think that means they were put up during the day. Now, I know that there are a lot of voters who don't make up their mind until the last minute, but I don't know if this is an effective strategy. "Ok, I'm about to go vote, but who should I choose? Well, that guy's campaign seems to have a lot of signs that they're only deploying now. Seems like a winning move. I pick him!"
Please don't ever try to pass a bicyclist with your car on a downhill curve. It's sort of dickish.
I'm not a fan of headphones while cycling, but I'm equally not a fan of motorists who wear headphones while driving. I'm also not a fan of motorists who air drum while wearing headphones driving. Hi-hat hi-hat car crash.
I love when you catch the last light right at your destination. Way better than standing around waiting. That's some serious profundity there.


Ride Home 4/26

To compensate for my over-peopled ride in, I decided to take a quieter route home. I also have a job that requires me to interact with a lot of people graduate students and that sometimes causes an intense and deep desire to escape to a quiet, thinking solitude.
I opted for the route from school down towards the CCT, which takes me down Loughboro Road and then down Glenbrook and Macomb Streets in posh upper Northwest. The homes are, if not palatial, chateau-al, but not in a chintzy McMasion kind of way. I wonder if higher-end burger chains are in some sort of bidding process to for the prefix to be used plus mansion to describe homes like these. Anyway, the houses are veritable ShakeShacks and the kind of places where the kinds of people David Brooks would deign to write about would probably deign to live. I highly encourage DC bike types to ride around here. I even saw someone riding uphill on Macomb, which is a first for me.
The path from the CCT down to Canal Road should be called the "Rocky Crag Path of Doom." [Something about Mordor]. I started wheeling my bike down, but I eventually chose to lift it on account of the various jagged boulders that protruded from the muddy brown sick soil. At least there were some safety logs (my term) turned into something I call "nature's guard rail" to perhaps prevent (or maybe bring about) my tripping head first into the strewn brambles and saplings. If you ever wanted a hint that the NPS doesn't care for bicyclists, look no further.
I was initially fretful that I wouldn't be able to cross Canal Road, but this proved less a challenge than I anticipated.
There's a reason no one bikes over the Chain Bridge. Two reasons, really. The first being: where the fuck are you going? Unless your high stakes bridge club does home and aways (aggregate tricks with away tricks counting double in case of tie?), it's not really close to anything. The other reason, more to my concern, is that horrible hill that awaits you on the other side of the Chain Bridge. I'm not so good at description (proof of that is that I used the word good to describe my ability) so I'll spare you my attempt at elaborating how truly nasty this stretch is. Instead, I'll tell you that it's just the worst feeling in the world when your bike stops moving forward and you're deciding between falling left onto the roadway or right into the branches. I'm not a slouch, but it was touch and go for a bit and I almost didn't make it up. I supposed I could have dismounted and walked the bike up, but what would I blog about? Tales from the sidewalk? Seriously? I just barely made it and that was about enough for me.
The rest of the way through Arlington wasn't especially remarkable. I guess I forgot my Cervelo, because that was the ride of all the other bikers I saw. I'm pretty sure my fork weighs more than their whole bike. I never know how these people are out on the road while I'm still biking home from work. Do they work from home? Do they come home and immediately get into their spandex to hit the road for their training runs? (Also, if you've ever been passed by a super-biker type, remember that they're training on the hills of North Arlington and are subsequently extremely badass) I just don't get it. They're definitely not commuters. Weird.

Ride in 4/26

Just a beautiful morning. I feel lucky that I live and work in a place that's generally conducive to commuting by bike because not every place is. Like on a submarine. Or in sprawly exurbs besotted with super-highways and no infrastructure for the movement of people by any other means than car.
I think that there should be a punch buggy style game for when you see an Xtracycle. This game should be widely disseminated so it's not as if I'm just punching random people in the arm while I yell "long tail!"
I decided that I would ride down Wilson, down 15th and 14th and then over Queen to shadow Arlington Boulevard (the two-lane road that parallels Route 50 from roughly Rolfe Street to N Meade Street), mostly just to see what riding on that road would be like. Because you know, in 2013 when the whole Arlington Boulevard construction might be finished, it could become a very popular route for those riding on the bike path (that will also be finished, maybe, by 2013). Just trying to give future bike commuters an early heads up. The road was fine, pretty wide and pretty flat. It could use some sharrows, but I guess they have two years to sort that out. It serves as a pretty efficient cut through for anyone looking to get over to the Courthouse area from the cemetery. Don't tell zombies.
I rode down and over the Memorial Bridge and then took the pretty sharp left to go over "fake" Memorial Bridge, which isn't a bridge at all, but has fooled me more times than I'd like to admit.

View Larger Map
Doesn't that look a lot like this?

View Larger Map

On the Rock Creek trail, I noticed this in front of the Watergate.
I didn't really see the construction. Neither I, nor than 6 or 7 people riding in the other direction bothered to dismount. I mean, I dismounted to turn around and take the picture. Anyone seen this before or is this new?
Instead of heading up the Capital Crescent, I decided that I would ride into downtown for no apparent reason. I guess I just wanted to see what biking downtown during a morning rush hour would be like. I went from Washington Circle up New Hampshire and then down L to the 15th Street cycletrack, aka the Kleinway. I was overall impressed with the number of people riding downtown. All sorts, too. CaBis, racing bikes, front baskets on old three-speeds, the ubiquitous Trek hybrid. And all kinds of weird riding pattens. I saw sidewalk riders (illegal), people riding on the left side of traffic, people riding on the far right and the weave down the center stripe. I think that the hopefully-someday-soon cycle tracks on L and M will help things. I wouldn't say that the cyclists self-organized in any real way and there didn't seem to be any attempt to ride together as a bunch. I was pretty impressed by the motorists as well. I didn't notice any bike-related honking, too close passing or any of the other things I would have expected from a downtown ride. I don't want to jinx it and I know that we still have a long way to go, but I think DC is a real bike town.
Going up 15th was a little slower than I expected. Not because of heavy bike traffic (most people were heading in the other direction anyway), but mainly because of the light patten. There was only so far I could ride before hitting a red and waiting for either cross traffic or cars turning left from 15th. Again, no acrimony. Maybe it's something in the water. A few places where pedestrians stepped out into the lane, but what can you do? Front-mounted cow catcher? If Rivendell doesn't make this yet, then there's a gap in the market.
The Kleinway ends at V street and then it was uphill for a nasty little stretch and a right-side bike lane all of the way to Irving Street. I didn't realize that I had gone too far until 15th merged into 16th street. I turned around in front of Lincoln Multicultural Middle School, where there was polling. A representative from the Biddle Campaign asked if I was voted today. I said I was from Arlington. I'm not really "from" Arlington, but I live there. I didn't further clarify, but instead went down 16th to Columbia Road which was really heavily trafficked. Some sketchy bike behavior from my fellow cyclists over there. I try not to squeeze between buses and the curb, but maybe that's just my aversion to getting crushed or knocked over by someone trying to get on or off a bus. I'm surprised there's not a bike lane on Columbia Road between 16th and 18th. At least I didn't see one.
From there on it was westward on Calvert, up Cleveland, which has a parking arrangement that makes creates a de facto climbing lane and then via Garfield eventually to Massachusetts. Based on 37 campaign signs I saw outside of the St. Sophia Cathedral, I think Biddle is over-relying on the Orthodox vote. This might not be a winning strategy.
Just a pleasant ride the whole way through. Taking a circuitous route breaks up the monotony of the normal ride and I highly encourage it.


Ride Home 4/25

Contents of bag on ride home: 2 tax returns (I forgot stamps), a baby shower invitation for my wife, a ticket to this Friday's baseball game-cum-Dean-retirement- party, and a more-wrinkled suit.
I Strava-ed my way home. That's the last time I'll mention that. Endorsement accomplished.
I know that many of you read this blog for its trenchant local political analysis. So, on my rides today: I saw one Biddle sign, one VO sign, 2 Weavers and a Mara. Verdict: The Great Citrus will win. (btw- anyone got the origin on that nickname? Google isn't helping me.) Analysis over. I'm basically Martin Austermuhle.
There are a lot of things that can discourage someone from bike commuting. One of them is having to hear the conversations of Georgetown pedestrians. Banalhaughty isn't a word yet, but maybe it could be.
Not too many cars out on the road today. I think it's a holdover from the holiday. Good amount of foot traffic though. Especially on the bridge. Heavy stroller traffic, too.
Also, a ton of bikes. That means unsolicited advice time. These are some tips for new bike commuters. That's not to say new bicyclists, but those who are now newly (or once again) engaged in the activity of riding a bike to and from work. Please take these suggestions with as much seriousness as you take the rest of this blog, which is to say not very much.

  • Look up. Staring at your front wheel isn't going to help you. Don't be Beautiful Mind crazy, but you've gotta keep an eye on the world around you. Ride with healthy skepticism. One of the differences I've noticed between the daily commuter types and the rare commuter types is that the daily commuters not only know to look up, but know where to look. This isn't on account of some preternatural ability to sense danger (Spiderman on a bike? [Slide 7]) but from the accumulated knowledge that comes from riding every day and seeing the multifarious ways that harm might befall you. You don't develop this ability if you're just making sure your front wheel doesn't come off. 
  • Use hand signals. They don't need to be official or anything, but they should do enough to indicate to the world around you that you'll be doing something more than continue to ride straight. Hand signals help fellow cyclists, too. Make the signals your own. Maybe you like to pistol fingers. Maybe you're a fan of popping and locking. Maybe you just like making an ass of yourself in public (guilty). Just do something to help other people get along better. 
  • Please for the love of God don't ride the wrong way in a bike lane (or on a street)*. This is annoying. It also shows that you're a rube. Rube, they'll all say as they point (with pistol fingers) and laugh. Perhaps they will hoot. It's also unsafe. 
  • Don't take the easy way out. Like riding the wrong way down a bike lane. Just wait for the light to change and cross the street. I was stuck at light after light after light today. The difference between my ride in and my ride home? 3 minutes. It's not a big deal. 
  • Don't eat cat food. This is self-explanatory and not related to bike commuting. 
  • You're not going as fast as you think you are. This means that when the light is yellow and you're not yet there by about 30 feet, you're not going to make it through. It's annoying when drivers do it and it's annoying when bicyclists do it. Learn to judge your own speed and make decisions based on how fast you're really going, not how fast you think you're going. Epistemology fail...?
  • If you want people to know that you're fully stopped, put a foot down. That's really the only way to show that you've come to a complete and total stop. For some reasons, drivers and pedestrians have a hard time telling that a bike isn't moving forward. It might have something to do with the Doppler effect (it doesn't). Anyway, a foot on the ground is an unambiguous sign that you have no intention of moving forward. 
So, there's my "tips" and "tricks" for "riding" your "bike" around "town" and abusing "scare quotes." 

* I do this every day for about 100 feet. I apologize to myself.

Ride In 4/25

Contents of my bag today: 2 tax returns, a can of WD-40, breath mints, and a wrinkled suit. No lunch because I forgot it. I even went back inside to put on sunscreen and still managed not to grab anything from the fridge. 3 squares fail. 
I was browsing through the iPhone app store as I am sometimes wont to do and I came across a free ($0) app called Strava. It's basically a GPS route tracker + counter that hooks into a website that allows you to share your most rockingest rides with your hardcore cycling friends and family (they won't care). It's very similar to MapMyRide, which I've used in the past. Unlike MapMyRide, the interface is a little cleaner- it doesn't have as many random options that all seem to do the same thing, nor does it show an actual map while you're riding- I know where I'm going (for the most part), so I don't really need a map. It's also probably not safe to look down at a map on your phone anyway. Strava only shows your elapsed time, distance and average speed. Since the phone is in my back pocket (unless I'm taking a picture of a shark attacking a pterodactyl), this works just fine for me. So I pressed to big blue (what looks like the Play button from Youtube) button and went.
Do the police cars parked outside of DARPA ever leave their post? Not because I want to sometimes roll through that red light on Fairfax or anything. Like most drivers, the sight of a police car does make me a bit more attentive to following traffic laws. Plus, I'm extra paranoid from reading all that crazy New York bike crackdown stuff.
Nice riding along the calm streets of Arlington and also down the brief stretch of the Custis until the Key Bridge. A good number of people out, but somehow not as many as I expected. I got lucky with the light sequencing, so that was a nice surprise for a Monday morning.
In Georgetown, I thought that a girl was waiting to cross the street. She was looking down at her phone, but wasn't wearing headphones. I stopped and waited. I asked "Would you like to cross?" Nothing. I said, after 10 seconds- I'm very patient!- "Ok, I'm just gonna go." Then she looked up and was all like "Oh, yeah, no, thanks though. Sorry." I think she was waiting at the bus stop, which I'm pretty sure is a good 15 feet before the corner. Oh, urban life.
My crossing guard acknowledged me again today. I guess we're friends again.
Swiveled my head and yelled "HEY!" at the driver of a minivan today as she attempted to turn from a perpendicular street at the same time as I was occupying the space she was about to move her car into. It might have come off meaner than I wanted. She might have been trying to turn her car into a postion that was not exactly where I was but slightly to the left of me, but it still seemed prudent to indicate to her (through yelling) my feeling that her driving maneuver might have endangered me. Unfortunately, there's no way to succinctly convey "Excuse me. I'm not totally sure of your intention or if you ever see me, but I'd like to call to your attention that I am bicycling here and I believe that if you are to proceed with your automobile the way I anticipate, then it is likely that it will lead to an unsafe situation, mostly for me on account of my relative exposure to your vehicle," so "hey" will just have to do.
So, according to Strava, I made my trip today in 28:14. This is one second slower than my fastest recorded time ever (I don't usually time my ride in because I'm not one of those people normally). I checked Strava once when I was stopped at a light and I was pretty sure it wasn't working. I was by Duke Ellington School and it said that I had gone 1.7 miles. That is not correct. I thought that its GPS was busted. No big deal.  I guess it righted itself eventually and did appear to record my route correctly. I like the web interface better than MapMyRide as well, because along with the route and elevation, it records my "performance." I guess I hit 28 mph going down the hill by the Russian embassy. That doesn't quite seem right, but I'm not going to argue with a computer. Or a robot. Because of Short Circuit. Anyway, end verdict on Strava is that if you like recording your bike rides and tracking your "performance" and you have an iPhone, go for it. If, instead, you like to eat pie, then maybe you should get a pie made with fresh fruit from a local farmers market. These things, I suppose, are not mutually exclusive.


Ride Home 4/22

I left work a little early today and my boss said "oh, you trying to get out between the rain?" and I was like, "um, not really," but then I took him at his word that it wasn't raining. It was raining and I didn't wear my cap, so my head got wetter than I wanted it to be. I don't think he was trying to pull one over on me. The wet wasn't nearly as bad as the cold. Love when the inside of your exposed leg touches the top tube of your bike. I felt like I had been stabbed by a Ringwraith.
I think it's finally time to swap out my brake pads. I don't think I'll easily be able to forget the noises they made today. It sounded like someone was scratching a chalkboard with a dying robot squirrel. These pads came stock with the bike and have been through some nasty weather, so I have no problem swapping them out. I'll even try to do it myself. Only question about that is what bike shop I'll have to bring my bike to after I totally screw that up.
Few very people on the roads today, but cars and bikes. A confluence of joggers on M street decided to stop and discuss the need for gloves on account of the crummy weather. Whatever, joggers.
I decided to take the Custis the whole way home rather than ride on the streets. In weather like this, I figured that it was better to trade being exposed to the weather longer for the safety of the off-street trail. Something about rain just makes people act crazy and I'd rather not be on roads when I have a perfectly nice dedicated bike route that basically mirrors my road home. I'm grateful for this- if only every bicyclist had both an on-street and off-street option to get home. Man, that'd be something. Very few people on the trail coming in the opposite direction. A few hardcore super-biker types going out for training rides or whatever. Some joggers (ugh. This ugh is equally applied to the super-bikers). A few people who looked like they were just trying to get home.
I'm going to have to clean my bike this weekend. It's pretty dirty. About time anyway, but it's something of an onerous process. I'll clean the other one too and put it on craigslist. If you read this blog and want or know anyone who wants this kind of bike, email me. I'm not going to give it away, but I also want to make sure the price is fair. It's a good bike, but I just don't need it any more. Of course, if you read this blog, you're probably flush in bikes (but lack real entertainment options). Or you totally misunderstand what a sharrow is.
I don't think I'm going to, but maybe you'd like to participate in the Spice Ride. It sounds pretty fun.

Ride In 4/22

It's Earth Day and Earth wants us to celebrate its more frigid parts like Antarctica and meat lockers, so it provided us with a bounty of coldness this morning. I dressed in layers and told everyone, mom style, to bring a jacket if they're riding their bikes today. It's almost May and that I still had to wear thin gloves is a bit sad.
I decided that the way I would approach the morning would be to take a route that would keep me pedaling rather than getting stuck at light after light are turning into a bike-cicle. To the end, I decided to take what I call the "back way" down Pershing to Arlington Boulevard and then across Lynn to the Key Bridge. We had a "back way" for getting into "town"- with the library and the green and the gazebo and whatnot- where I grew up in Connecticut (in the 1850s apparently) and it was a less trafficked route that paralleled the main commercial road, so it has a pretty similar vibe to Pershing in relation to Wilson and Clarendon.
The trip up to the Key Bridge was pretty blurry, maybe on account of only one cup of coffee this morning. I remember being struck by something in the window of the European Foods Import Export Brazilian, Portuguese, Spanish Foods store at the corner of Pershing and Washington Boulevard, but I can't recall what it was. Quotidian observation blogging fail.
No CaBis on the bridge, but a ton of bikes all through Georgetown. I think at one point there were 5 or 6 of us bunched together at a light. It was like Utrecht out there (Amsterdam gets too much bike love, same with Copenhagen. Plus who doesn't love the city who brought us the end of the War of Spanish Succession?)
I don't get why Georgetown's various eateries don't serve coffee in the morning. There seems to be enough foot traffic to not have to cede this market entirely to Starbucks. I'm sure there would be a lot of people who would stop in for a quick espresso maybe while standing up at a bar or sitting at a high top. Maybe one of the already established restaurants could rent out the space to someone enterprising enough to try it. I guess Dean & Deluca might do it, but meh to them. This was first pointed out to me by the official wife when we were on the bus the other morning, but it's even more glaring when you go by bike. Maybe I was dwelling on this because I was cold.
Up Wisconsin and I kept even with a 31 bus. I like biking up Wisconsin because I like biking uphill, due to my Tyrolean predilection for alpine terrain and needless self-martyrdom. Tyroleans, so I've been told my entire life, will go out of their way to inconvenience themselves and the quote "No, no. I'll just take the bus" has served as a stand-in for this sentiment for as long as I can remember. You can take my word for it or you can ask famed American actor Peter Facinelli, fellow descendent of those from the Val di Non.
I was stopped behind the 31 outside of the National Cathedral. What up, Jesus, I thought tritely on Good Friday. So that takes care of church. I later biked down Macomb and was briefly stopped outside of the synagogue of the Washington Hebrew Congregation. What up, Moses, I thought extra-tritely. Anyway, I'm now square with Episcopalianism and Juadaism and that's what I consider ecumenical.


Ride Home 4/21

Complimentary sushi is not necessarily the best pre-commute food. Even when it's of a decent quality and known provenance, it's still soporific- especially when consumed as a post-post-lunch "snack" at an end-of-year awards ceremony.  As such, I was distracted for most of my ride home. I decided that I would look around and actually try to take in both floors of the row houses in Georgetown. They're quite nice, in a small r republican way. I kept wanting to think they were like the stately homes of Georgian Bath, but that's simply not that case and I don't know why that idea wouldn't leave me alone.
Public Service Announcement: a vanity plate of "JD & MBA" makes you a douchebag. No one will think, "Well, I'm trying to open an establishment in a difficult regulatory environment and I'd like someone to assist me both with my business plan and the various legal problems concomitant with incorporation and if only there was one person who could do both of those things- hey, wait, look at that guy's license plate! I must get his number forthwith." Instead they'll think, "this guy is a douchebag."
On the Key Bridge, there was a gaggle of college-aged pedestrians and a cyclist in front of me tried to zig and zag through them, passing some of them on the right and trying to sneak past others on the left. As I rode up behind them, one of them turned and asked me- without the slightest glint of cynicism in her voice- "What side are we supposed to walk on?" I was taken aback not from the question, but from the complete lack of biting sarcasm that I expected. In fact, I might have actually guffawed as I said "Um, the right." She thanked me and called again "Guys, move to the right." I think it was a genuine attempt to figure out where they were supposed to walk. I don't know if they came directly from London or New Zealand and were asking the equivalent of the "what year is it?" question from time travel movies, or if she was just confused because faster pedestrians and bikers kept passing them every which way. I don't know where they were from (though her shirt might have said State College, I can't remember exactly), but, golly, all of the things that a fellow traveler has ever said to me, that was probably the most shocking. And I've heard a lot.
No CaBis. I really expected to see more. It was a beautiful day.
I played an totally unnecessary game of cat and mouse with a police officer, whereby I biked up on the sidewalk rather than wait at a red light, but then stopped after the light because I didn't want to merge back in with the traffic turning left from Pierce. So, by the time I got going again, the cop car had already passed me. I don't think he noticed me to be bemused and I think if he did not notice me he was less than bemused. The things I do to amuse myself tend to range from pointless to dumb. This was both.
I stopped at the grocery store to buy soy milk. It asked me again if I wanted the Senior Citizen's discount.  Do they olds buy soy milk? In the grocery store parking lot, I overheard a guy on his cell phone say "I don't fucking care. I just like to see her car in the garage when I get home." I don't really get what that was about.

Ride In 4/21

Back in on the saddle again. I don't like the word saddle, not so much for the connotation of equestrianism- I like my palominos wild, thank you- but rather because of the way that the flat a sound abuts that alveolar d and then folds into a nondescript, not-really-a-schwa final vowel. It's not as bad when you only have to read it. Though, maybe not after this overwrought explication. 
It was colder than I expected it would be, but not so cold as to warrant my wearing anything more than a light jacket over my usual springy shorts and shirt. I did see someone biking along the Custis wearing a winter hat (with pom-pom), a jacket with a faux-fur-lined collar, and wool gloves with snowflakes on them. I thought she had overdone it a bit, but go with whatever makes you comfortable. Maybe she was riding to work in her work clothes and she happens to work in a meat locker or as a snowboard instructor.
You know how some people in Virginia have Jimmy Buffet vanity plates? You didn't? Anyway, you never see a Parrothead license plate that's just CS-2353. When you sign up for a Parrothead plate, I think you might also be required to submit a Buffet-related sequence of letters and numbers. Today I saw "PAROTS." The other day I saw "PH4LFE" or something close to that. I assume that these don't come stock with the license plates, though I could imagine a sadistic prison warden making the incarcerated struggle with to string a sequence of 6 letters and numbers together in a Buffet-centric way. Wasting away in Margaritaville (State Penitentiary).
All tow truck drivers, by law, should be required to play heavy metal music as they ply their trade. It doesn't have to be Metallica, but it probably will be.
I saw a CaBi on the Key Bridge. Other side though.
Stuck behind a bus in Georgetown with an advertisement on its back from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It was a doctored image of a penny with the "In God We Trust" replaced by "In Reason We Trust." It still had Abraham Lincoln on it, not Richard Dawkins or whoever. Nothing says reason like the depiction of a coin with a value less than it costs to make.
I don't like when pedestrians wave cars through crosswalks, even when the driver has decided to stop (as required by law?) and let them cross.  This makes me crazy. The driver did the right thing and rather than start to cross, the person was like "nah, why don't you just go. I'll just chill here a little longer." I think that she was letting the cars from the other direction (who were not stopping) go past and figured "why delay this driver when I'm not gonna cross for another 25 seconds?" By all means, I'm not advocating anyone do anything unsafe, like throw yourself out in the middle of the street assured of your correctness that drivers should yield to pedestrians. This would be a Pyhrric victory, relished most likely from a hospital bed.  All I'm saying is that if a driver stops for you, you should just accept it and cross as far as you feel safe. Stepping away from the curb might even cause a driver coming from the opposite direction who wasn't planning on stopping for you to do so. Waving a driver through just muddles the whole situation. Also, never run. No running in public is a frequently expressed concern of the official wife. Her line is "Spandex and emergencies- that's it." You're rightfully using a public space, not trying to escape an axe murderer. Running in public should be exclusively saved for emergency situations. Like actually trying to escape from an axe murderer. If we adopted this rule, then when I see someone running, I could be like "whoa, is there some kind of emergency? Did an axe murderer escape Margaritaville State Pen?" Running in public is the pedestrian equivalent of speeding. Obviously with less deleterious outcomes, but it still seems uncivil.


No Rides Today 4/20

Had a meeting downtown this morning and I took the bus in with the official wife. It was quite pleasant. I took the Metro home which wasn't the bad either. We saw a CaBi on the Key Bridge and I saw a few more downtown. Speaking of Bikeshare, the "missing stations" from the first round are finally coming online this week and the system is going to be expanded considerably this summer. Feel free to pore over the expansion map. No new planned stations in super-upper NW, so I'll continue to have to trudge to the AU law school. Seems fitting anyway.


Ride Home 4/19

Reverse Micky Dolenz situation this afternoon. I packed a jacket, but ended up having to use sunscreen and sunglasses. I have a problem with sunglasses on account of my very long eyelashes. They never really feel comfortable and just don't sit on my face right. I used to think it was my nose that caused the problems, but I'm pretty sure it's my eyelashes. Yup, this is me.
Two big bike news events today, but if you're reading this (hi mom!), you probably already know about them. First, Gabe Klein, the uber-crush of local urbanist types and erstwhile DDOT head,  is taking over Chicago's Department of Transportation. Does FakeMayorEmanuel know? I wonder if this will bring bikesharing to Chicago soon.
The other news is that we're adding one more Bikeshare station to the grid tomorrow. Based on Cody Rice's sleuthing and the the actual bikeshare map (that did list earlier 25, then 17 empty docks, but now says nothing), the station will be installed at the 14th and D/Ronald Reagan/ John A. Wilson building. That should be really great for city employees. I don't know to what extent the bikes are considered "fully loaded," but presumably CMs could use them too. Color scheme is already set though, so they'll just have to make do. I don't know if this is auspicious and the other stations will be installed soon, but it's a good sign nonetheless.
Great ride through the District. In Georgetown, I was riding down 34th and I saw another cyclist turn onto the street about a block in front of me. Female. Flowing hair. No helmet. Flip-flops (which is sorta gross). Purse. Riding upright. She was Mary Poppins to my Claude Levi Strauss (this would be the worst movie franchise reboot ever) and the few blocks I spent riding behind her was the lamest bike-related "experiment" ever. Conclusion: She was treated no differently from how anyone else would be treated while biking along that stretch. Cars still blocked her path with their incomplete turns. No one gave her any additional room to pass. There was no additional deference at stop signs. No to sound too decisive, but I'd conclude that the interactions between drivers and cyclists are predicated more on structures of the facilities and norms of the road than based on the outward appearance of the individual on the bike.
First CaBi sighting on the Key Bridge. Almost missed it because it was on the opposite side of the bridge and I got distracted by a foreign man (I can tell based on the cut of his pants) who made some strange squawking sound (unrelated to me) to his conversation mates, who also looked foreign. It was a very weird noise.
At the intersection of Oak and Wilson, a teenager yelled from the passenger side window of a black car, "I like your bo-ots" (with two syllabes in boots as required by the local accent) to a girl crossing the street. She was wearing brown wellingtons and they had shapes on them that I thought might have been donuts. I don't think it was a cat call, but it was sort of weird. If she did have donuts on her boots, that's worth remarking on because it's awesome, but there's probably a better forum. She's probably some narcissist with a blog titled talesfromwearingdonutwellingtons.blogspot.com.
Rest of the way home was really good. I said "sorry" to a woman opening and then quickly closing her car door prior to my approach on the hill before Courthouse. I said "sorry" because I felt like I startled her and I'm appreciative of her closing the door to allow my safe passing. I guess I could have said "thank you," but sometimes you just say what you say. A lot of car doors almost being opened in my path, but the drivers along Wilson and Fairfax tend to be quite cognizant of bike riders. I attribute that to the striping of the bike lanes, but that's just a theory.

Ride In 4/19

Muggy with a hint of allergen. Springtime in the District. At least it wasn't hot. Fun.
There are some days that I like riding with other people around me, other days not so much. I wouldn't say that this latter urge is brought out by misanthropy, but maybe it is. It's just nice to ride somewhere quiet and unpeopled rather than jockey with drivers or cyclists or pedestrians. One of the primary joys of bike commuting, to me at least (because I'm a rugged individualist type...) is being able to set your own pace and this is increasingly difficult the more a particular route is used. To this end, I decided to ride down 5th to Irving, through a residential neighborhood where people walk their dogs in the street because there are no sidewalks. This isn't a bother because there's ample grass in the yards of the abutting houses and because there were barely any drivers out anyway. This would be a great bicycle boulevard if they flipped some of the stop signs at the intersections (to stop traffic at the cross streets rather than along 5th), but the neighbors might want to avoid this on account of the close proximity to Contes, whose patrons would be more than willing to use the stretch to test their aerobars.
Irving puts you out near Wilson and from there is was business as usual. I saw the guy who I  talked to a few weeks ago on what would turn into a very rainy ride, but I declined to say anything. Wilson was as usual, except for the Ellie the Poodle doppelganger that I saw (exactly the same but with less mischief in the eyes). I wonder if the group of people waiting at for the bus (either the 4B or 38B) around Rhodes knew that there's a new bikeshare station right around the corner. Not only that, but that their route is littered with stations (Foggy Bottom and Farragut Square excepted):
Orange line with a view
I know that bicycling might not be for everyone, but for some people, it might be better than waiting for the bus.
I saw a tourist family trying to make sense of a Rosslyn map at the corner of Clarendon and Oak. Good luck. I live in Arlington and still have a hard time figuring out how to get around. I was going to ask if they needed help, but the light changed and they looked like they were having fun, family time with it. Sure...
On the bridge, I made my typical dinging way causing groups of women and children to have to dive for cover to escape my charging path. Or not so much. I rang my bell a few times as I approached (but not meanly, mind you) before a woman saw fit to shoo her child rightward and likewise move herself and the large stroller she was pushing in the same direction. She said to the little girl "Look out for the cyclist." I thought she was going go to with "Look out for the asshole," based on her tone, but I guess she was moderating her language for the sake of the child. There's no good way to ride across that bridge without offending someone. You ring your bell more than once and you're a pushy jerk. You slowly ride behind someone and you're following to closely and making them feel uncomfortable. You try to ride past, even with the help of the bell, and they'll accuse you of going to fast and passing too close. You don't ding the bell and you're causing harm by not letting them know of your presence. I'm trying to be sensitive to the concerns of others and all it does is convince me that there's no winning. Maybe someone can start a ferry for self-doubting cyclists overly concerned with the feelings of others. It could be called Mope Boat and I'd take it every day.
Not too much going on along 35th in Georgetown, except for the construction. I got waved through by the Slow/Stop sign road crew guys, though on the near side, he didn't flip around his sign to read Slow instead of Stop. I guess the slow was a given and he figured that my being a cyclist, I'd be more than comfortable with riding through a stop sign. He probably even thought that I'd prefer it. I feel bad for road crew guys because I they spend their days in a pretty vulnerable position vis-a-vis cars and though they have bright vests and big signs, anything can happen.
I think my crossing guard police officer might be giving me the cold shoulder. It's two days in a row now that she's just ignored me when I've been riding by. No acknowledgment whatsoever. What happened? I thought we were cool.


Ride Home 4/18

Two emails of note before leaving work today. First, from Arlington County about the Arlington Boulevard reconstruction problem that I had previous written about. It reads:
Hello Brian,

Thank you for bringing this error to Arlington County's attention.  The
website should state that "There will be a new trail along the south
side of Arlington Blvd between Pershing Drive and Rolfe Street, and the
existing north side trail will be improved and pass under the new 10th
Street bridge."  I will make this correction to our website ASAP.
So, yeah, two trails. Though it would still be better if they talked about it in east-bound, west-bound terms. Although I suppose doing it this way is a blow against auto-normativity? Anyway, goes to show what meddling and niggling emails can do. They can change the words on local government websites. And that's change we can believe in.
Second email. From official wife:
I meant to tell you [my co-worker] M. has a court date on Wednesday because he got a $70 ticket for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign while on his bike.  Feel free to blog about the injustice/organize a demonstration.
I wrote back:
Sucks for him. It's the law, but it's a crap law.
I won't be organizing a riot protest, but he really does have my sympathy. It's rare that I come to a complete stop at a stop sign (like most drivers). To get a ticket for it would really suck, but at the end of the day, them's the breaks. I'd probably just pay it, but good for him for going to court. Much like they'll do with Obamacare, I'm pretty sure that a judge can declare stop signs unconstitutional and throw it out, right? An "individual mandate for coming to a complete stop is un-American. That's what I read on World Net Daily at least. Let's just get an Idaho Stop and move on with our lives.
The stretch of 37th between Manor Place and T is a ruddy, bumpy mess and would really benefit from repaving. It's by far the bumpiest stretch of my ride home. Granted it's three blocks, but still, it's really bumpy. Boo.
Pepco van blocking the bike lane on 34th. Boo. Rode the sidewalk for a block. I guess that was bumpier than 37th. I don't get Georgetown. It's so tony, but those red brick sidewalks are just a total mess. I guess if you're only walking on it six steps from your porch to your luxury sedan, it doesn't much matter.
Hey, read that Ken Archer piece on "hipster urbanism" in Greater Greater Washington, if you haven't already. I've never seen someone bested by his own straw man before...
I rode through Arlington looking for CaBis. Zero CaBis. I have some serious doubts about whether people will bike uphill from the Rosslyn metro to Pierce or Rhodes. I think that Juan is going to be driving around a lot of bikes in Rosslyn.
Check out the window of Revolution Cycles.

Nothing says bikes are reasonable transport for normal people like an ElliptiGo and an old timey high wheeler. I think Bikes for the Rest of Us needs to stage an intervention.
I might have seen a 2011 Salsa Casseroll outside of the GMU law school. I didn't stop to confirm, but I've wanted to see this bike in person for awhile. By all descriptions, it's supposed to be a pretty cool bike.

Ride in 4/18

Happy TY 2010 filing and payment deadline everyone! A few things about taxes: if you don't owe money, your return doesn't need to be in today. You also don't need to file an extension. Of course, in order to determine that you don't owe anything (anything additional that is. Remember, your withholding is taxes already paid. It's a pay-as-you-go system), you probably had do at least do a little bit of your return, so you might as well just finish it. Plus, why wouldn't you want to get your money back rather than let those fat cats in Washington use it interest free? A big refund is a sign (in most cases) that you've badly miscalculated your withholding and you should probably submit a new W-4. Instead of the lump sum, you can get more every paycheck. Another thing with extensions- it's just an extension to file, not an extension to pay. There's no such thing as an extension to pay (at least not so far as my working five months on the Balance Due phone lines).  If you owe anything, it's due today. Otherwise, we're talking penalties and interest.
Anyway, this used to be a bike blog, so let's get back to that. I wanted to ride through Rosslyn today to see if any of the newly installed CaBis were in use. I saw two yesterday down by the intersection of the MVT and the Custis, but I was hoping to see whether any Georgetown-bound or Georgetown-from commuters would avail themselves of the new stations. On my way there, I rode behind a guy on a Trek Allant who was wearing a Notre Dame baseball cap. I passed him around Courthouse, but he was in front me of again on the Key Bridge. I passed him on M street, but he was in front of me again at Wisconsin and P. I guess he wasn't interested in taking a route that required stopping at multiple red lights.
So, number of CaBis in the wild: 0. That was a little disappointing. I was expected at least one crossing the bridge, but I guess not. It might take a few days before knowledge of their presence has been fully disseminated. They're going to be a pretty great alternative to the GUTS bus and I expect a pretty good amount of usage by students, but they're going to be very useful for anyone doing to the Georgetown-Rosslyn trip. I think I might CaBi to work some time this week.
I rode down M street to Wisconsin and Wisconsin to Calvert. Nothing better on a Monday morning than sucking in the exhaust of a 30s series bus. No CaBis going up Wisconsin either. In fact, I didn't see an active CaBi anywhere, so I should stop dwelling on it.
Onto Tunlaw, a road about which I learned an interesting fact this weekend. Many of you might already know this (on account of seeing The Shining one time too many?), but do you know that Tunlaw is a nonsense word that's just Walnut spelled backward? That's crazy! I thought Tunlaw was just some dude who was friends with Glover and Archbold. (Side note: is Tunlaw a bizarro version of Walnut Street? Perhaps some exploration is needed) I learned this from Erik, local factotum, at Bicycle Space and this marks reason 80,276 that this is the best bicycle store in Washington, DC and environs. Please frequent (frequently) this establishment. You might learn something, you might buy a Brompton, you might be served a baked good.
Confusing trip up New Mexico with lots of drivers doing lots of weird things. People stopping at green lights to yield to left-turning cars, drivers parking in front of driveways, many, many trucks unloading liquor, a bus turning right from the left-lane, just a whole mess of stuff that made it seem like everyone was a little bit out of it this morning. These things happen.


Ride Home 4/15

Riding home in your work clothes provides the major advantage of an even quicker exit on a Friday. Happy Emancipation Day indeed!
Instead of using my velcro strap, I decided to roll up my right pant leg a la annoying urban cyclist type. I might have overdone it and was about one more roll from being a never nude. But better that than getting my pants dirty.
At the bottom of New Mexico, I saw a bumper sticker that read "God has plans FOR YOU." Am I the only one who finds that to be menacing? If the goal is to be comforting, I'd say they missed.
I'm going to conclude that there's no such thing as "Mary Poppins effect" for men. I doubt there is for women either. People behave the same around bikes no matter how the cyclist dresses or behaves. That's both pedestrians and drivers. Cyclists need to stop pretending like our behavior is the prime determinant for others' actions. It's self-aggrandizing, but false. People are gonna do what they do and it's better to learn to deal with that than pretend like we impact it. Screed completed.
If you had April 15 in the "First appearance of Nantucket red shorts and blue oxfords," please collect your prize. It might be a whale belt. Remember your boat shoes!
Slow going on 34th street. When will DDOT finish striping the bike lanes? Not that it'll make a real difference- white paint hardly deters inconsiderate drivers from blocking the path. Nor do dirty looks. In any case, I was well to M street before any of the cars I passed at Reservoir, Dent, Q, Volta, P, O or N street. Bad news guys. Not that M was any better. Total cluster down Canal and multiple buses coming off the bridge succeeded in thoroughly mucking up car travel. I jaybiked a little, but since no one was going anywhere, I didn't feel especially concerned.
Rode up the Custis behind a guy on a serious road bike. Granted he was in mile probably 700 of his commute and was carrying a three ton messenger bag, but I pretty much was able to stick with him. I also served as his "bell man," dinging for him as needed. I think pedestrians were grateful, but that's just self-aggrandizing and false.
Why is the bike rack at Escuela Key School Escuela School a million miles and a whole playground away from the school? I wouldn't want to lock my bike there. Put it right in front of the school and maybe more kids will bike there. Maybe there is one, I don't know, but the one that I saw is hella far away (hella is not a word I normally use and I apologize to anyone and everyone).
Lots of bikes on Fairfax Drive. Good job.

Ride In 4/15

Two decent days in a row. What's going on here?
A combination of not having to bring anything into work (I did not eat my soup from yesterday, but instead had a Starbucks blueberry scone and some Reese's peanut butter cups. Kids: don't do this) and the weather being temperate helped me decide to ride to work in my work clothes, which consist partly of jeans since it's Friday. I also took the Haul- there's only one way that saddle is going to soften.
There's a fairly significant breeze today and I felt like I was a taking the brunt of it, especially on Fairfax Drive. It was like parasailing, but in a not fun way.
Get this: it's possible, even likely, that one can travel down Wilson Boulevard from Ballston to Rosslyn in the same overall amount of time as someone on a Vespa. I know this because it happened. I wasn't even scofflawing. I'm surprised that more people here don't ride motor scooters (aside from the ridiculous name. Just say motor scooter aloud and try not to laugh). I have a few theories why, but you can read them on my other blog: dclackofscooterusage.blogspot.com
And now it's time for some super -pecific advice about riding a relatively short stretch of road and negotiating its trickiness. The road is Tunlaw Road, NW. My concern is stop signs. The problem is being safe. My suggestions are as follows:
  • At the intersection of 37th and Tunlaw, coming up 37th. I recommend riding on the right up to the stop sign and stopping directly next to it. Look at the oncoming traffic. If there is a car next to you (on your left), start riding when that driver goes. Let the driver get in front of you and merge behind their car in the center of the traffic lane. Move back to the right after you get through the intersection. If there is no car next to you, wait until the driver at the stop sign across 37th goes. Make sure the driver coming down Tunlaw is turning right and not going straight. When the car from 37th is in the middle of the intersection, start riding. Be sure to make eye contact with the driver (if there is one) now stopped at 37th street. Use your left hand to signal that you are heading left up Tunlaw. This shouldn't be totally necessary, since 37th is one way, but it'll let the driver across the intersection from you know that you'll be turning across his/her path. This should hopefully stop him/her from trying to get across the intersection before you start your turn.
  • On Tunlaw at Benton Street. There is a stop sign here. At this point you are traveling up hill. I recommend that (if possible) you take the lane and wait/roll through the stop sign from the center of the travel lane. The reason I recommend this is because on-street parking begins on Tunlaw after Benton. This means that you will need to move over to the left (or you will bike into parked cars) eventually and it's safer to do it at the stop sign than afterwards.This is because drivers accelerate from the stop sign and the road also narrows here (on account of the parked cars) and since you're going uphill, you'll be traveling too slowly to merge in an optimal way.
  • At the stop light at Calvert Street. If you don't want to take the lane, stay to the right but (if there's no pedestrian) get your bike into the cross walk. You want to be out in front of car right turning cars so they don't try to fish hook around you. Also, there are parked cars on the other side of the intersection, so being in front gives you a little more space to merge over into the travel lane if need be. I recommend lining yourself up so your path is exactly straight (slightly to the inside of the parked cars on the other side of the intersection)- this means pinching from the far right a little bit.
  • Tunlaw and 39th St. Ride to the right. I don't think there's any need to ride in the middle of the travel lane here. However, after this intersection, you might want to start biking in the center of the travel lane to increase your visibility to cars turning from and turning onto Fulton Street. If you ride too far to the right, someone turning from Tunlaw to Fulton might be more tempted to try to make the turn. 
  • At 42nd St. Ride to the ride. Be careful here because it's a four way stop and cars are pulling out of the driveway as well as up from 42nd St.
So, there's are my inexpert recommendations. Just be safe, I guess, is my overall suggestion, and do what feels right to you. 


Ride Home 4/14

My eyes always tear up when I'm riding down the New Mexico hill. I'm not sad to be riding home and I'm pretty sure it's not the gift of tears. It even happens when I wear sunglasses, which I didn't today. Between the cyring and my furrowed brow and worried look of consternated concentration (cars pull out from a lot of different directions and I'm probably going too fast to stop very well), I don't think I'm doing a very good job "selling" the joys of bike commuting.
A minivan and I both yielded to a pedestrian at 42nd Street. He actually thanked me. With a considerable amount of sincerity and conviction. It's hard out there for pedestrians.
I rode alongside a car with the DC license plate 03. I sorta hoped it was the official Toyota sedan of Mary Cheh, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't. The car didn't even look "partially loaded."
On the Key Bridge, I was stuck behind a dawdly group of teenagers who looked too young to be college students but who were traveling in one of the those freshman year packs of eight, in which maybe not everyone is everyone else's friend but for fear of offending or for sheer amicability because everyone lives on the same floor, they all bunch together to go anywhere off campus. Anyway, the dawdly group was split into two groups of four and I slowly inched my way past the back group after one of them realized that I was behind them and shuffled the remainder of the group a little bit over. However, once I passed the back group, one of its members decided to shout not "hark friends, a cyclist approaches. yield to him lest we may all share the ample space of the bridge," but instead the far less helpful "WATCH OUT!" Keep in mind that if I were biking any slower at this point I would have been moving backwards. Highly unwarranted. The "WATCH OUT" led one of the girls in the first group to jump stop, and while I appreciated her demonstration of basketball fundamentals, it was a wholly superfluous maneuver. I rode by the group on the left as the jump stopper turned and dished the rock shouted "You scared me!" to the screamer. Teenagers. Ugh.
I took the Custis to Veitch to Key. I love that street so much. I think what I like about it so much is that there's always people walking on it. There was even a guy running with his (leashed) golden retriever in the street. It's a street used by people and not exclusively by cars and that it's solely residential makes that fact even better.
I stopped at Harris Teeter on the way home. Here's a picture of their crap bike parking:
Complain about this. 
If you can wedge your bike in past the propane tank, be sure that the front wheel doesn't hit a broken shopping cart. I think I'll get over my inertia and write a letter to the manager. So many more people would bike to this store if the parking were better. Right?
I bought pierogies, two pints of cherry tomatoes and some white button mushrooms. The automatic checkout asked if I qualified for a senior discount. It doesn't normally. Does the automatic checkout guess if you're old based on your groceries? Is this profiling?
When I got back to my bike, look who I saw:
The Green MF Goblin
If it's an employee, his/her shift must start around 6. Probably got there early on account of not having brakes.

Ride In 4/14

Don't panic. It's called spring and it's perfectly natural.
I spent all morning (ok, like the 45 minutes I was awake before leaving the house) tittering (and twittering) about how excited I was to ride today. I would have slept in my bike shoes if my bed had a place to clip in. Or if Brooks made pillowcases. I wasn't disappointed- I spent most of my ride with a jackass smile on my face from how nice it was outside.
A few thoughts on transporting soup by bike:
  • Put the soup in a mason jar. This allows for a tighter seal. (Don't misspell this word- it's a truly horrible mistake). Tupperware just doesn't work on account of the lid being more jar-able. Puns with made up words still count!
Ok, that's the only thought I have about transporting soup by bike. 
My chain slipped as soon as I started rolling my bike out of the door. I fixed it but my right hand looked like I just voted in an Iraqi election. But instead of the purple ink of freedom, I was rocking the black sludge of impromptu re-chaining.
The Washcycle endorsed my vague understanding of the Arlington Boulevard bike trail(s), so that' means I'm probably not too far off base. I decided to "go all jdland on it" this morning, in fact.
That's a vast improvement already. I'm not saying that JDLand doctors photos or anything, but has anyone actually been to a Nationals game to verify that the ballpark is really there? Just throwing that out there. 
I decided to ride down Wilson Boulevard today in order to people watch, but there were very few people out. A few on bikes, including a guy wearing headphones. I don't endorse this, not because I hate awesome tunes, but because I think listening for cars is a vital part of keeping yourself safe on the road. Why make it harder on yourself?
On the Georgetown side of Key Bridge (the Georgetowni hídfő for anyone Hungarian readers out there, who only visit the blog for pictures of substandard bicycle routes and crying George Washington), I saw a mom biking with her child in a bike seat. On the back of the seat, there was a sticker that read "CoPilot." Cute, but I hardly think a child so young should be given so much responsibility. He can't even reach the pedals.
On Tunlaw, I saw a coworker jogging. I said hello. I don't know if it's her day off or what. She recognized me, which I always figure unlikely to happen for some reason. I figure helmets make us all look the same, but I guess that's not true.
Further up Tunlaw, I saw a mom jogging uphill while pushing a duplex SUV-style stroller with 700c (estimate) wheels. It had no children in it. This must be the Glover Park equivalent of Rocky's punching slabs of meat. It was in front of the Russian Embassy so there could be an Ivan Drago connection.
When I got to work, I noticed that my mechanical mishap had somehow led to chain grease on my left leg. Odd. I'm thinking about tattooing various black splotches on my calves to make this less embarrassing in the future. "No, I didn't get chain grease on me. Those are my tats," I'll say to the no people that actually care.