Ride Home 10/24: Charitable Reductions

I contributed to this. I kindly request that you do this. For some reason, and really, I mean some reason, I was invited to that media lunch that Green Lanes and the Downtown DC BID arranged to discuss the rollout of the L Street cycle track and the general benefits of protected bike infrastructure. Presumably to report on it. I'm not entirely sure what media is supposed to do, other than post listicles about funny-looking cats for the page hits and the lulz. So, here's a summarized version of my thoughts on the L Street cycle track, its installation, and the phony reaction to the non-story that is its installation:

  • Adding bike infrastructure, at this point, is banal. There's plenty of it already. It's not novel. 
  • Declaring this banal bike infrastucture to be "controversial" is boring and predictable. 
  • A shit ton of people are going to use the cycle track.
  • Some other people, no matter what, will complain about that, insisting that a shit ton of people are not, in fact, using the lane and even if they were, their using the lane will be responsible for, among other things, the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and/or various outbreaks of Mad Cow disease. Some of these some people will remind us that they are, in fact, avid cyclists who ride bicycles on the weekend, mostly in parks or on paths. 
  • The bike lane will become permanent and everyone will learn to cope with it.
  • This will not stop lazy stories complaining about the "OMG bikers run red lights almost hit me on the sidewalk where are their helmets HELMETS HELMETS lycra-clad Lance Armstrong wannabe WHAT ABOUT MY PARKING blah blah blah"
  • People will go about their lives as usual. Bicycling will become more popular. DC will change, because cities always change because that's just what cities do, and life will go on, possibly with occasional tacos, depending on one's proclivity towards eating Mexican food or Korean food if you like Korean tacos. 
The Green Lane Project has the right idea. Protected cycle tracks are an unalloyed good and there's basically no real point in even arguing with that. And DDOT is right- installing these kinds is the right thing to do for DC, its residents and its commuters. And the Downtown DC BID is right- more people on the street is better for business. Density is what makes cities cities and you can do more density when you build for people on bikes and on foot. WABA is also right- if we don't want "bike lanes" to (again) become proxy flash points in the kinds of cosmic battles that happen in changing cities, then cyclists and their allies need to speak up, reminding political leaders that they're important and that more than being important that they're just bike lanes and that they're like fire hydrants- people should want to have them, irrespective of their race, creed, color, age, gender, orientation, eye color or taco filling preference, because they are useful and they work and they provide positive benefits in an urban environment. It's three weeks until this one is down and "everything changes" except nothing changes because we've done this before and we're going to have to do it all again to make sure that M Street gets done soon and gets done right. So, let's do that. 

I look forward to never being asked to return to a media lunch. I mean, unless they want to invite me back. I'll go. I'll even do a cat listicle next time. Lunch was very good though. I ate a half-sandwich. It might have been egg salad. It was definitely a kind of mayonaise-based salad. 

Trip home was good. I rode behind a bus on Massachusetts and then I switched the sidewalk and rode behind a guy on a CaBi and then I tried to get off the sidewalk, which I did, only to find myself back on the sidewalk as I waited for the light to change opposite the Masaryk statue on the other side of 23rd Street. I like to wait on the sidewalk there out of courtesy to any driver who is trying to make the right turn on red. 

I rode down 19th, past the Jamba Juice (I've yet to stop for a smoothie in spite of my unrequited love of smoothies) and then I rode behind a guy with dark hair in black on a fixie who had a black Chrome bag and then two blocks later I was passed by another guy in black with dark hair on a fixie who had a black Chrome bag and it was deja vu all over again. These commutes get repetitive, but this is getting ridiculous. I watched a gentleman on a motor scooter try to ride past traffic in the two feet between the side panels of the stopped cars and the curb. I didn't go especially well, but he made it. Impatience for the win!

I might have heard someone actually say "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies." 

Lots of lawyers in DC, I've noticed (I'm very observant). Some personal injury firms specializing in bike crashes could probably do decent business if they set up their offices at some key intersections. I mean, except for stupid contributory negligence laws. 

Pennsylvania down to the White House (saw two people I know, one for sure saw me), south down 15th (scaffolding now up by Treasury so fewer pedestrians in the bike lane) and then another bike train down Pennsylvania Avenue. One of the conductors of the bike train won the Passive-Agressive Bike Commuter of the Week Award when he elected the squeeze between two cars that were blocking the box rather than just go behind where there was ample room. Passive-Aggressive Bike Commuter of the Week is the new EGOT. If you win 52 weeks in a row, well, I guess you should maybe get some therapy. 

Just crushed Capitol Hill on the Brompton. That's a really good feeling. Makes riding up Massachusetts seems like it has a point, or if not a point, at least some kind of benefit. But they don't give awards for crushing hills on your bike commute. Other than getting home negligibly faster. 

Stopped at the grocery. San Marzano is the patron saint of expensive canned tomatoes. I didn't even get tomatoes. I got chicken. Boneless and skinless, like a jellyfish. 

Flipping a switch to activate the dynamo hub is really cool. It's way better than having to press two buttons to turn on lights. So much easier. 

Anyone want to buy a creperie in Hill East? It's closed a while back, but I suspect that's only made slightly less scare the scant demand for crepes in my neighborhood. 15th and C SE. If you buy it, install some bike parking. Thanks. 


  1. I will give you $5 for the creperie. My wife lived in France for over a year which makes me uniquely qualified to run a creperie.

    And by uniquely qualified I mean it is unlikely that anyone else is qualified in the exact same manner as I am.

    I sent emails about the cycletrack. Got an out of office response from Terry Bellamy.

  2. Nice work demolishing Capitol Hill. You rock!