Ride In 7/25: Never Not Negating

A lovely morning. Gaia has been pleased with our sacrifices. For example, some animal ate half of a tomato that I had growing in my garden. This upset me greatly. Gaia must have heard about it and made the weather nicer as means of an apology. I still don't know if I'm over the whole tomato thing yet. It was a really nice looking tomato. In Hungarian, it's same word for tomato and paradise (This must make Milton hilarious). They must really love tomatoes. I wonder if it was a vizsla that ate my tomato.

A quick spin in the normal direction and at the base of the Hill I found myself waiting behind one cyclist who waited for the light and soon passed by another cyclist who couldn't help but roll through it. The "scofflaw" wore socks that were decorated with images of playing cards. A gambler, I see.

Up 11th. The construction at City Center seems to creep farther into the roadway each day. At least one day is totally blocked, but today it was about one and a half. There's not even the pretense of there being a sidewalk, just a sign that says something like "Pedestrians, listen up. Cross to the other side of the street lest one of our cranes drop something on your head" or something to that effect. Eventually the project might create another nice node for walkability in the downtown area, but we're still some ways from that.

"How is my driving? Call 1-800-XXXX" asks the question written on the back of some van. "Rife with externalities," I answered to myself. I don't think they'd like it if I left that on their answering machine.

I saw a car with two bumper stickers, the first supporting Obama's election in 2008 and the second being a nice bit of Texas jingoism. Texas is bigger than France, I learned. Yes, but France has its own nuclear weapons. So there's that.

I think a lot about the future and self-driving cars and as a bicycle advocate, I'm greatly concerned. Not just from a "rise of the machines" standpoint either. In many ways, self-driving cars should be good. They'll reduce/eliminate drunk driving. They'll eradicate DMVs. They'll probably require less parking, at least under the Matt Yglesias fleet of taxis model, freeing up more space...but for what? My concern is that all parking lanes will just become more travel lanes for self-driving cars. If the imperative is to still move people in personal automobiles (though perhaps smaller-sized ones?), isn't there still going to be an increased demand for more road space and a continued societal push to prioritize motorized traffic over other kinds? And to "protect" cyclists and pedestrians from this new technology, is there going to be even more enforced segregation of users? And would self-driving cars actually reduce vehicle miles traveled (and the pollution associated with that)? Free from actually having to drive the car, could self-driving cars become, in effect, self-driving beds, allowing you to live in DC and work in Philadelphia, only having to wake up briefly to get in your bed-car in the middle of the night before arriving at work fresh as an unshowered daisy in the morning? I don't see any scenario in which self-driving cars means that people will live closer to where they would previously need to drive themselves. Now, car travel becomes a sort of on-demand leisure time with all the benefits of a trip on public transportation with the addition of point-to-point solitariness in not having to interact with a bus driver or fellow passengers. If we are to adopt self-driving cars, I think that it's imperative that we adjust the tax system accordingly, shifting the burden to VMT in order to tamp down on unnecessarily long car trips.

Near the top of the hill at the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin, I was passed by a superbiker that I sometimes see. He rode slightly ahead of me and we both passed a couple of teenagers and the young lad felt compelled to clap his hands and cheer me on, saying "You gotta want it," perhaps as some kind of motivational technique. I'd glad he did so because I was about to turn around and just go home, having just realized that I didn't "want it" and I'd much prefer seven miles in the opposite direction than the 30 additional feet to the top of the same hill I ride up everyday. Teenagers. Ugh.


  1. HA! I wonder how many other bike commuters got cheered on today?

  2. "You gotta want it." That is great! Just yesterday in my spin class (yes, SPIN, it's like a commute, but there's loud music, you don't go anywhere and there are no stop signs) our instructor talked about us visualizing something we really wanted at the top of a long climb, and using that extra gear to get there. So maybe it's not LITERALLY what's at the top of the hill, but what you could attain on a metaphysical level. The profundity of bike commuting!

  3. Totally saw you on 11th the other day. I'm finding it much, much preferable as a cross-town corridor over 15th Street.

    Also saw you on Pennsylvania Avenue a few days ago but didn't say anything, as I was busy hiding my head in shame because I was leading a Segway tour. We pulled up next to you.

    I love fancy cycling socks. My friend has a pair with martini glasses on the cuff.

  4. I literally LOL'd twice. "A gambler, I see" & "...having just realized that I didn't 'want it'"

    Thanks for brightening my day most mornings!