Ride In 3/12: Innumeracy doesn't count

Spring break sounds like something they'd be worried about at Diamond Wire, but it affects me too. It's affecting me all week. Consider me affected. The primary effect of spring break on my work life is that it generally reduces the number of times during the week I hear from students, but it doesn't really impact my bicycle commute in one way or another, so I suppose it's outside the bounds of this blog. When a topic falls out of bounds, I blow my blogging whistle and stop the blog clock. First downs, unlike with college blogging, do not stop the clock. I've yet to figure out what constitutes a first down in the context of bike commuter blogging. This might mean that my offense is ineffectual. All this football mumbo-jumbo (which I believe is a cajun dish, but I'm not sure) is really out of season (and perhaps out of bounds, thus stopping the clock, something that the Federal Government did only to move it an extra hour ahead) and I should be instead trafficking in baseball metaphors since spring is nigh upon us. "Spring is nigh upon us" is what one of the workers at Diamond Wire said right before a box of springs fell from a high shelf, briefly crushing the workers below. Luckily, the springs rebounded (which is really more a basketball allusion than anything else) and the workers were able to escape out of (the) bounds of the springs. And that's the story of the true meaning of Spring Break.
If anyone is still reading, I'd like to apologize and now write about my bicycle commute, after which I might apologize again, for good measure. It was still a bit brisk this morning and I ended up wearing tights and gloves, in addition to other clothes, to protect my delicate flower self from the last grasps of winter coolness. I probably could've gone out with shorts and no gloves, but that's just not really my thing. For example, I don't like to leave my fingerprints on stuff.
I think I rode within sight of other bike commuters for the entirety of my trip. I once posited that the way you could tell a town is a bike town is if you cannot go a minute without seeing another bicyclist. I might need to revise that downward. It's heartening to see so many people out and I'll do my best not to complain about it. If you're new to bike commuting, or just want to freshen up on some bike commuter etiquette, I found this to offer some quite good advice. Read past the lube part to the good manners part. You don't have to smile and wave at other bicyclists if you don't want. Waving might be a little weird, actually. Nodding is ok. Making eye contact is fine, as is sort of just looking at them. Leering is pretty unacceptable in bike commuting, but in what instance is leering a good idea? "Hmm, this is an awkward social interaction. Let me leer my way out of it," isn't really something that's ever crossed anyone's mind. I hope. Avoiding eye contact is another thing you can do, but don't be weird about it or it seems hostile and like you're pointedly angry at someone. Like, for example, I'll deliberately make a point of avoiding eye contact with someone salmoning the wrong way down a bike lane. Their transgression means that they don't deserve to look at my beautiful eyes, so I will withhold them the pleasure! (Note: my eyes are just boring brown eyes. Nothing special. If you have especially beautiful eyes, then perhaps this tactic will be more effective.) Anyway, there's lots of ways to interact with fellow bike commuters, but I suggest, primarily, that you adopt the stance of "don't be a jerk to fellow bike commuters (or anyone really)" and that tends to work out.
From my home to the bottom of Capitol Hill, I rode behind a woman in a blue windbreaker. She seemed nice. Don't remember where she went. Maybe down 3rd street? Thereafter, it was a pretty lonely voyage, at least going my way. To pass the time, I decided that I would try to count the number of female cyclists as a percentage of the total I saw. I do this every once in a while because I don't believe the statistics. Counting is also ones of my hobbies. The first three bike commuters I saw this morning were women and the trend stayed at about 50 percent, but I lost track at 16 of 33, mostly because cyclists started passing me in clumps and I was no longer able to keep a running tally. So yeah, sounds pretty scientific.
When pedestrians and bicyclists slow down car traffic, the suggestion is to remove them from the roadway. When too many cars slow down car traffic, the suggestion is to expand capacity. So, in one instance, it's a demand-side solution and the other is a supply-side solution. Curious. I try not to think too much about things like this, but it's worth remembering sometimes that one person in a car and one person on a bike is the same number of persons, but the amount of space given and dollars spent on one is much greater than the space given and dollars spent on the other.And ironically, it's the person traveling with an extra couple of tons of stuff (like engine and doors and whatever's in the trunk and whatnot) that gets the lion's share of the resources. Frugality is not rewarded. It's like the bank bailout. Too big to fail. Weighty stuff.
Made it across town and up the hill without much incident. It was a little bit boring, but there's far worse things in the world than being bored when outside on a really nice day. Like being attacked by a pack of wolverines. And other, far less worse, stuff, too. Being bored while riding to work is a real luxury and something that doesn't happen if you're treating your morning ride like a workout. I don't recommend treating your morning ride like a workout anyway, since city streets don't really lend themselves to going fast for sustained periods of time. Or maybe it's just that I don't lend myself to going fast for sustained periods of time.  Either way.


  1. choose comment from menu:

    (1) Tour de force!
    (2) Boing!

    actually, you can choose both.

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one who pointedly won't make eye contact with people being stupid on bikes. It always seems a little silly to me, but I do it anyway.

  3. Avoiding eye contact is nicer (passiver-agressive?) than what I do. I usually scowl. and occasionally say "moron." But sometimes in a passive-agressive under-the-breath sort of way.

    For a while, every day I was encountering the same Geprge Will wannabe everyday as he salmoned in the T street bike lane around 9th. I called him moron one morning and he said "Fuck you." After that, every morning I'd say "still a moron" and every day he'd say "fuck you." It was a charming morning ritual that I had to give up when I found a better route. Wonder if he misses me.

  4. 1) I love biker acknowledgement!
    2) I'll pit men v women (instead of Arlington v Fairfax) on my next ride, counting-wise.

  5. I'm with Green Christine on this one- I think acknowledgment is the way to go. My favorite's the mutual eye contact/slight nod as if to say "Is this making your day just a little bit better? Mine, too."

    As for the salmon, I say fillet 'em.

  6. "Their transgression means that they don't deserve to look at my beautiful eyes."