Ride In 3/16: Robin Sparkles

You might have seen some hysterical (not in a funny way ) tweets about Bikeshare coming to the Mall and maybe even a picture by longtime friend of the blog (and first-time Friday Coffee Club member as of this morning), Jacques Arsenault, but if you haven't seen either of those things, you can see them now by clicking on the links. You can also read various blog posts about it, including this one, though I don't plan to write too much more about this exciting development. I'm glad that NPS and DDOT have managed to work this out and install these stations so quickly and I think that they will definitely be a boon to the area. For those of you not familiar with the National Mall, it is a barren wasteland, bespeckled with a couple of marble classical architectural forms and intercepted by a bunch of roads unsuited to much more than car traffic. There are also some paths, but they get crowded. My hope is that Bikesharing on the Mall will bring about some much needed discussion about some much needed changes to the way in which transportation issues of the Mall are managed. There are a lot of constituencies to involve and a lot of factors to consider, especially considering the centrality of the Mall to tour groups and their tour buses, a concern that I thought very little about before a freewheeling discussion on twitter a few weeks ago. However, in spite of the complications, I think the future of transportation issues in,on, and around the Mall will be one is which the movement of personal cars will be deprioritized and the movement by every other means will be ameliorated. Or at least I hope so. And not just because I hate cars, which I don't really. I think it's just that an optimally designed Mall, one designed for maximum enjoyment by the most amount of people, wouldn't give such heft the movement of cars through and around it. But I'm not some sort of expert. I'm a guy with a blog and frequently I have spaghetti stains on my shirt, so I can't really be trusted, either with big ideas or red sauces. 
I left the house relatively early this morning and didn't bother checking the weather only to find out that it was kind of cold and somewhat foggy. I wasn't wearing a jacket. I warmed up relatively quickly. Everything is now fine
Lots of zombie joggers in the bike lanes this morning. Not cool, dudes. And worse is that they were running contra-traffic. I have a few issues with this, the least compelling of which is that what they're doing is illegal. More compelling, to my mind at least, is the safety hazard that's created by either my riding into them (which I really don't want to do or even posture like I'm willing to do, because I'm not) or my having the leave the lane to avoid a collision and perhaps hasten a collision with a passing motorist. And then there's, of course, the whole "Marcia Marcia Marcia" aspect of it in that bicyclists can't even use bike lanes, of which there are relatively few and on only a small fraction of roads, because they're being #occupied by someone who could be jogging on the perfectly serviceable and completely empty sidewalk roughly one foot away. Perhaps there's something about running next to a white stripe that's especially soothing. It's only going to get worse and I'm going to need a better coping strategy than blogging about since I'd rather not bore all of you to death. 
Speaking of boring, it must be boring to be a member of the state security apparatus and have to stand outside the Capitol all day and night. At least some of them have giant guns to keep them company. Also speaking of boring, this
I don't recall too many other bicyclists on Penn. Maybe it was ride your invisible bike invisibly to invisible work day. I don't recall seeing that on my invisible calendar though. Something I do recall, but this happened yesterday, was almost crashing, but not really, into another bicyclist who was in the process of riding through a red light. This was at Penn and 3rd and I was riding towards the Capitol and she was heading north on 3rd and making a left onto Penn. I had a green light and she didn't. I sort of scowled and shrugged at the same time. I don't know if I judge other bicyclists harder than I do other road users, because I really try not to do this because it's really unfair. I wouldn't given the same scowl/shrug to a driver or a pedestrian, but somehow it feels much more personal when it's done to a fellow cyclist. Anyway, crisis avoided, because it really wasn't that much of a crisis, but some guy in the waiting to cross the street said something like "whoa, almost had a crash there." He looked like a young Barack Obama and had a radio announcer's voice. It was weird. I said something like "We were cool. Thanks, though," but that's kind of a non sequitur. I guess I just forgot about this until today, since I didn't mention it last night, when I was reminded by the whole affair by another "near miss" (that wasn't really) with a FedEx driver crossing the street. He told me that I didn't have to stop, which I did when he crossed in front of me to get back into his truck. I told him that I didn't want to "get him," which is apparently how I euphemize crashing into someone. I most assuredly had to stop, lest he got gotten. 
Every time I ride past Freedom Plaza I think about Tom Petty. The tents are looking increasingly sad. I think the moment is over. It was a good run. 
I think this might have been the most popular #fridaycoffeeclub yet. We're definitely in double digits, maybe up to 15 of us now. And then there were these guys. It was a pleasure to meet some new people and to see some familiar faces and I'm weekly glad that Mary and Ed put this together. I think they should franchise the idea and you too can meet people and drink coffee after having ridden your bike there. 
After Swing's, it was back across the White House plaza and up 15th. It was after 9, but there were still plenty of bike commuters making their way in. I'd really like it the cyceltrack had bike counters like they do in Arlington on the trails. 
About halfway up Mass, I decided that I would remove my helmet and carry it in my left hand. I did this because I thought that it might allow me to avoid sweating. It did not. So, that was my experiment about carrying my helmet. Results: inconclusive. 


  1. Sorry I didn't get a chance to chat at Swing's this morning. The zombies had me in their clutches. It was all I could do to drink my Americano.

  2. Ok, I got shown for the passing reader I've been! FCC just entered my radar! I'm going to have to hit it one of these Fridays (and soon). Oh, and if the "other FCC" gets this message, this isn't about you, so just chill.