Ride In 3/13: I had thought of a funny title, but then forgot it

If yesterday was nice, today was even nicer and tomorrow should be nicer still. It's easy to forget how nice springtime weather can be, but it doesn't take too long to remember. For the first time in a long time, when I got to work, I felt really, really good. Not just content that I completed another bicycle commute without falling down, but actually just sort of euphoric. It's a little weird, because I'm not, by nature, a really euphoric kind of person. But that's what bike commuting does for me or at least what it can do for me, so that's why I keep doing it. Hedonic. It's easy enough to dwell on the little annoyances (see every other post and the next couple of paragraphs in this one), but in so doing, I tend to downplay the overall absolutely wonderfulness of getting somewhere by my own power at my own pace on my own timeframe and observing the world around me, such as it is, in an unintermediated way. Convincing people that this is a good idea and a worthwhile addition to their lives shouldn't be as hard as it sometimes seems to be. I mean, there are no advocacy groups for something like "eating chocolate cake." That's an activity that somehow sells itself and seems to be self-evidently enjoyable. So why not biking?
Though it seems like on a day, one hardly would have felt the need to advocate as plenty of bike commuters found their way to the streets and then, maybe, to work. Maybe some kept going and skipped work, though I think that might disqualify them from being labeled commuters. The bike lanes weren't necessarily clogged, but there were plenty of people riding on the Hill at the same time I was and even more bunched up at the start of the Pennsylvania cycletrack. Actually, I wouldn't say bunched up, but rather spread out in a line, like at the start of a 100 m dash. Guys! You don't have to do this. It's ok. It's not a race. I waited a few feet back and I took what I hope to have been a surreptitious picture, but it doesn't really capture the ridiculousness of the scene. I guess bike commuting draws together a funny group of iconoclast loners who refuse to wait behind anyone when they can instead line up in their own lanes. I can't say that I really get it. As the light turned green, another cyclist approached from behind and jumped the gun, so to speak, and then everyone was off! There was a fast group who wanted to catch the gun jumper and then there was a CaBi group that might have wanted to catch the fast group and then there was another bunch of people who just seemed to be content to ride their bikes and hoped not to get run over by anyone attempting to be fast. The cycletrack is wide enough to accommodate cyclists who wish to pass others, so there tends to be very limited opportunities for collisions, but one never knows. Everyone commutes at their own pace, I guess, and the important thing is to learn what your pace is and not to care about what other people are doing, unless, of course, you must prove to them that you're the greatest, most fastest, most reckless bike commuter in all of the land. I can't really describe the demographics of the aforementioned bike racers, since they really come in all stripes. The only overriding characteristic seems to be that they're taking themselves too seriously. It's fine to want to go faster or as fast as the guy next to you, but when that becomes the only thing you're thinking about, you're probably doing it wrong.
Some words on etiquette. Some other words on etiquette: treat other cyclists like you'd treat your grandma. Would you buzz your grandma by passing her too closely? Would you scream at her if you collided or nearly collided? Would you pull you in front of her if your grandma was patiently waiting for a light to change? Would you buy your grandma flowers for her birthday? Because you probably should, especially if she has a kind of flower that she really likes. Anyway, cut out all the cutthroat angry bullshit. You're not some renegade or road warrior or badass or anything else. You're just another person commuting on a bike and no better than anyone else. Unless you write a twice daily blog about it. Then you're like the most important ever. (Just kidding!) You're also not better than a pedestrian or driver. You're a little bit better than a pogo commuter. They're so smug.
I wanted to take a different way to work today, but ended up going 15th and then R, even though I sort of wanted to head up through Columbia Heights and then over on Calvert and up that way, but for some reason, my bike wanted to turn, so I let it. I also let my bike take me up Mass, riding for a little behind a guy that I've seen before who was on his LHT, but I'd never seen him during the morning ride. He was the only bicyclist I saw going up, but I passed a few who were coming down. One, and she had sunglasses on, dinged her bell like 5 times when she approach me. I don't know if this was meant to be jovial or if she though I was in the way. I wasn't in the way. So maybe she was moved by the spirit of springtime to ding. 'Springtime means ringtime' is one of those phrases that no one ever uses because it's not a real expression. I guess I need to recalibrate to be more accepting of friendliness. Winter's over.


  1. I love your common sense rules of behavior for cyclists. Maybe we can get DDOT to print them onto little signs posted at every traffic light on major bike facilities. Of course, the guy who approaches from behind and jumps the gun probably won't ever read the sign, but it's a start...

  2. I think that's sort of the big problem. How do you get the guy who bikes, but doesn't really identify himself as a bike commuter, to follow some commonly agrees upon rules? They're not exactly following #bikedc on twitter, not are they reading this. So, signs maybe, I guess.