Ride Home 6/11: Bring some gum to a knife fight

To be perfectly honest, this wasn't one of my favorite ride homes. It's rare that I'll ever mumble "please don't kill me with your car" even once a month and today, I mumbled upwards of five times. I have no idea what happened. I sort of wonder if my new Walz cap is not only moisture wicking, but renders its wearer invisible. Invisibility is by far the worst feeling one can have while riding a bicycle. Is invisibility even a feeling? Can I borrow a feeling?

Where invisibility is worst is when drivers elect to turn in front of you. Either from intersections into your path or from the opposite direction across your path. Both of these cases happened more than once today. Like I said, I don't know why (pending further examination of cap for magical properties). It even happened at intersections, when I had a green light and the turning driver had a red. How freaking prescient do I seem? Or maybe, my audience (all nine of you) decided to play a hilarious practical joke on me by taking to your cars and cutting me off every here and there. It's unpleasant to have to brake and then to wonder if you'll actually stop before you collide with a car (I did!) and then it's even more unpleasant to ride behind that driver and stew over their lack of concern for your safety. Stewing is the worst. Unless it's the world's largest dairy store, Stew Leonard's. The problem with bad things happening during a ride is that they beget other bad things happening. You get hung up and distracted and then you ride angry and then you start to see the world through shit colored glasses (Not carried by most optometrists). And (I'm not totally sure how much I believe this, but I think it's relatively true) once you start riding like bad stuff is going to happen, it's much more likely that bad stuff will happen. This observation is borne out by no statistics. I'm not even sure there's anectdota. I still think it's true.

Prior to all the nonsense with the cars happening, I was passed by what I think were two cops on bikes who did not, by all appearances and bike handling abilities, appear to be bicycle patrol officers. I have no idea what they were wondering, except chatting with each other, almost getting hit by a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and then complaining to me that there was a hill and I believe one of them even asked if I was responsible for putting the hill there. Um, no. And secondly, um, what? To the best of my knowledge, I'm not responsible for any number of myriad geological features in the DC metro region (I did put some sod in my backyard). Maybe I misheard.

I shan't catalogue all the inconsiderateness. I just know that it got to me and there was a certain point in the trip when I just wanted it all to be over. Every commuter has some bad trips (unless you're a blimp commuter. Then you're life is just peachy all the time) and bike commuters are no exception to that rule. I'd say, in general, bad commutes are much less likely to befall me because I avoid gypsy curses I pretty much take the same route every day and I've picked this route because it's pretty low stress. Picking a good route is a pretty good strategy for avoiding bad commutes. This, and other sophisticated insight, is available in my forthcoming self-help book Make Good Choices and Maybe Bad Stuff Won't Happen Unless it Does.

Looking up at the traffic lights as you pass under them in order to suggest to an offending driver that she do the same doesn't work. You can cross that one out of your passive-aggressive playbook.

Rushing doesn't work. At a red light, a woman on her bike rushed passed me, blocked the crosswalk and then pedaled past the crosswalk, with her bike almost in the right hand travel lane of 14th street and she rocked back and forth, looking for a gap in the car traffic that never materialized. She jumped the green light by three seconds and pedaled. The light turned green. After seven seconds, I was directly behind her, once again. Was all that nonsense worth it for a "gain" that could be erased in seven seconds? Getting home fast is a factor of going fast when it matters and knowing the difference between a smart choice and a dumb one. And if you really want to get home fast, buy a jetpack and not a bike.

11th to Penn and Penn up the hill. I was glad not to be hit by one of the three taxis making u-turns across the bike lane. Enough is enough. This is just ridiculous. What's the best way to get this enforced? I'm thinking either hunger strike, sit-in or blogging about it every so often and I'm pretty sure the last one is totally in my wheelhouse.

I don't see nearly as many Bikeshare commuters in the evening.


  1. +! for Stew Leonard's mention.

    Just never forget what you need, or you'll need to salmon back to get it. Which may also cause stewing (and doubly so if you are buying stew ingredients)

  2. Another good post
    Picking a good route is key. But I also think that riding the same route helps immensely. I travel the same roads at about the same time daily. Drivers that also travel that route see me, and over time I think they come to expect me. That seems to make then a little more careful. My first commute was hairy. Now it's much less hairy. Too bad it wasn't like me; no hair at all!

  3. Everybody thinks that they themselves have it bad, and everybody thinks that blimp commuters have it sooooooooo easy. Let me tell you, it's not as placid as it seems. In the winter, snow and ice accumulate on the top of the of the envelope and you're just blimping around minding your own beeswax when all of a sudden, the top of the airship which is heavy rotates around to become the bottom of the airship and your blimp is upside down and unless you're clipped in it's not a funny thing at all, it's like an inverse vertical trackstand and even though you're supposed to say "I meant to do that" it never gets a laugh not a single one. Sorry to open such a deep vein but nobody respects a blimp commuter. Argghhh.

    1. This is the best comment ever. Thank you so much, Vannevar.

  4. @portajohn you probably went to the Norwalk Stew's. Mine was Danbury, where I'm sure you've also been. I could really go for some Stew's chocolate chip cookies right now. Those things are like crack (I assume)

    1. I'm not sure which one I call my "Home Stews", probably Danbury since it is so close to Kates family in Brookfield.

      I just like the robot animals.

  5. "(unless you're a blimp commuter. Then you're life is just peachy all the time) "

    Um, Lakehurst, NJ, my good man?

    (weirdly enough they're proud of it)

  6. Apparently you're not aware that there are two categories for bike commuters. You're in the Regular category. But the Non-Stop category means you cannot stop. You must keep moving, or at least not put your foot down. Even if you have to weave back and forth or ride in tiny circles. Now you know.

    Since you have a very popular bike commuting blog, I can see how the police on bikes might think you had something to do with those hills.