Ride In 4/9: Faith, Hope & Gloria

Easter Monday is a holiday is some places, but not here, not in America. Instead it's the day we all bike ham sandwiches to work, or at least a day when we could, had I not forgotten to make a ham sandwich with some of the leftovers of the 9 pound ham that we prepared yesterday. Instead, I biked sandwichless, though I did have in my pannier around 30 or so DC Sharrows Buttons, some of which I plan to mail this afternoon, boat shoes, both of which are currently on my feet even though I'm not currently boating, and a bright yellow jacket which I might wear if it rains during the afternoon commute.
It was a tad windy this morning, so I ducked in behind some other bike commuters to draft off them. Actually, come to think of it, I didn't do that because that would be anti-social and foolish. While I did ride in a line of commuters five or six long up Pennsylvania, we were no pace line, which was for the best. It's not a race.
And yet, to so many bike commuters, it is. Time for some real talk: slow down and stop biking like jackasses. It's not exactly the speed part that bothers me- biking fast is fine and everyone has their own speed at which they feel comfortable. It's the "marauding" part that bother me. Like when you pass another person on a bicycle too closely or when you try to dart through a group of pedestrians crossing in a crosswalk. Pedestrians, after all, are just like bicyclists without the bikes and they're equally vulnerable road users and rushing at them headlong and demanding that they make way for you, even when law and common sense are on their side, is just a jerk thing to do. So, notwithstanding my usual caveat of "do whatever the hell you want- I'm not your mom," I'd like to suggest maybe a "2 feet to pass" rule for passing a pedestrian. And if you can't give 2 feet, maybe that's an indication that you should stop and wait...? Just throwing it out there. And lest everyone comment with their own "This jaywalking asshole almost walked into me, so pedestrians can be jerks too" story, yeah, I have one too (I have one almost every day), but that's not really the point. What driver doesn't have a "this biker was an asshole" story? Anyway, I'd just like to casually suggest that maybe when operating a bicycle in confined spaces (like a cycle track or in an elevator or an imaginary glass box if you're a mime), you pay attention and heed those around you, especially the more (or equally) vulnerable. I'm sort of convinced that I'm much more likely to be collided into by another bicyclist than I am a driver, at least from what I've seen lately. But like I said, do what you want. I'm not here to scold. (It's not called Scolds from the Sharrows. Not yet, at least)
East Capitol to Penn to 15th to R to Mass to work. That's pretty much my basic outline, but I think I'm going to change it up to make my ride a little bit longer so I can enjoy my allergies the nice weather for longer in the morning. Does anyone ride up Rock Creek during the morning? I've done it a few times, but it seems too windy for my tastes and also I feel like the blog would read like "Saw a bird. Saw some trees. The brook bubbled." Were I trail-inclined, I suppose I could come straight across town and take the Capital Crescent up and around, but I think I'm going to look for a way to cross the park farther north. Like Tilden or Park, maybe. The best part of the bike commute is trying out new routes, so I'll keep you posted if I ever actually get around to doing that because ultimately a bike commute is still a commute and we get into habits.
What do you do when a pedestrian runs across the street against the light and almost smashes into you and then gives you a dirty of look after you scream STOP-HEY! in order to get through to him through his ear buds? I tend to either mutter something under my breath, but when I'm feeling especially piqued, I like to point to the traffic lights. You know, like a gentle reminder that I had the green light. Though that's maybe a little silly, since the gesture reminds me of one that certain sluggers do to give props to Jeebus after hitting a home run. I'm sure my pointing does nothing but bring about muttering from other pedestrians about that "asshole biker," regardless of the fact that I wasn't in the wrong. Oh well.
And now, my angry tale of angry good samaritanism. I was riding on Mass and there was another bicyclist in front of me. I noticed that there was something catching in his back wheel and it looked a little strange. I then noticed it was his neck tie, which I surmised had fallen out of his pocket and was now dangling, having gotten itself wound around his brakes. This, in my opinion, seemed very dangerous, since a tie catching in the spokes  or brakes might cause all sorts of mechanical issues, up to and including his being thrown off his bike, and I'd certainly want to know about that potential were it me. So, I pulled up beside the guy and said "Hey" and he ignored me. So I said "Hey, your tie is stuck in your wheel" and he said "What?" because he didn't hear me clearly. And then I said "Your tie. It's stuck in your rear wheel" and he said "Ok," but kept pedaling. This wasn't ok. So, sharply, I said "STOP YOUR BIKE AND CHECK YOUR REAR WHEEL" and he did. There was no reason for me to be this harsh and I apologize, though I should have apologized then. I guess I was still peeved about the jackass pedestrian from before and from this guy's ignoring my trying to help. I stopped alongside him and he checked his tie, which I then saw was quite covered in bike gunk and probably irreparably ruined. I started pedaling again and he said, sheepishly, "thanks." I wish that I had a greater presence of mind to suggest that he use the brake pads to press black stripes into his otherwise ruined tie, but then again, life isn't really a Mentos commercial.
I decided that I would try to pedal up Massachusetts as fast as I could, seeing if I dissipate my mild annoyance through physical exertion and that mostly worked, though it mostly just made me sweaty and winded. The rest of the ride was more or less fine, except for one close pass before Ward Circle.


  1. Sandwichless AND unappreciated. I am sending you (((HUGS))).

  2. I almost killed a fellow cyclist the other day on River Rd. I was visiting family and parked along River Road by 4th Pres. As I open the door, I see this guy fly left three feet and try to say something. But of course he's going downhill probably 30-35mph at this point so I have no idea what he said. What I did wonder is why on earth he's in the shoulder and going by a string of cars parked at a church without any expectation of something crazy happening. Part of me felt I owed an apology for not checking my mirror, then the other part felt I owed him a choice word or two for idiocy. Of course he was also helmetless making it all the more amusing.

  3. Dang. Ham sandwiches? I forgot to raid the Easter basket. There's all kinds of chocolate in that bad boy and it's sitting at home laughing at me. Go ahead and laugh Mr. bunny, tomorrow you ears are grass and my mouth is a lawn mower.

    See what happens to your brain when you drive to work. It gets all messed up. Next thing you know I'll be screaming at a bike commuter in the Rosslyn intersection of doom.

  4. @rootchopper totally forgot about the chocolate bunnies. that would also make for a delicious lunch, albeit one that might melt. Take it easy with the car commuting. There are far more interesting ways to fizzle one's brain.