Ride In And Ride Home 10/26: Belated Happy United Nations Day!

It so happened that I was to be at work before 7 AM, which is significantly before my normal start time. This meant that I left the house before 6 and it was dark and the roads were mostly empty. I really enjoy bike commuting at different times and you've never had the opportunity to come on the early end of the morning rush hours, I encourage you to try it. It's almost peaceful or almost resembles something peaceful, assuming you're calm enough to not be enraged by zombie runners running in the bike lanes, which is a thing that happens. For zombie runners, miles are brains.

It was dark, so I wore a helmet. I don't know if this is an effective, logically or statistically sound risk mitigation strategy or rather some throwaway "just in case" primordial achluophobic claptrap. I also wore Chuck Taylor All-Stars. I left my normal non-bikey bike shoes, the Vans slip-ons, upstairs and I didn't want to wake the Official Wife trying to retrieve them. And when I unfolded the bike, I realized that the chain had slipped and I dirtied my hands getting it back in place.

The ride went fast. Maybe I even went fast. It's to say for sure. With no other cyclists about, at least towards the beginning of the ride, I wasn't able to gauge my speed against anyone else's and I might have overexerted, as is my habit when I'm riding by myself. I took Penn to 15th, electing to ride in the cycle track so as to benefit from its extra protection from car traffic, thereby mitigating risk (maybe?) when commuting at an unfamiliar time and in the dark. I'll get used to it as the fall and winter drag on, but for now, it seems very foreign. I saw this:

Local political candidates are finally pandering to cyclists. I don't know if Kishan Putta will actually be able to get the cycle track repaved (I suspect these things are done on a schedule and I don't know how much influence the local ANC would have), but that this kind of pandering even exists in DC shows how far we've come. Things are changing.

I stopped at the Starbucks at Connecticut and R. First time in that Starbucks. I wasn't confident that any place nearer to work would be open any time soon and I was confident that without coffee my productivity would be less than zero. I brought the bike inside. Here it is:

So much marginally more convenient than locking it up outside. 

Winter's coming, as they say, and it's a wise idea to invest in a good thermos for bike commuting. Mine is a Thermos-brand thermos. The vacuum insulation keeps the coffee hot and the lid opens with the push of a button, making it easy to use when wearing gloves. It also seals well and won't spill if you put it in your bag. These are all important considerations!

Fake Fact: The Subaru Forester is named after John Forester.

On account of going into work early, I missed the #stoputurnsonpenn gathering/protest, but Bicycle Space made a video and DCist wrote something up, so it's like I was there. Everyone who came out for it is a great person and as someone who rides Penn every day, I just want to say thanks.

I rode home down Mass, as usual. I was passed too closely by a guy riding a scooter. Does any group of road users evoke more antipathy than scooter users? Oh yeah, bicyclists.

There was a trail of besuited college students walking up and down Embassy Row and some other college students wearing costumes doing the same. That means it's NCSC (pronounced nick-sick) and also that it's trick-or-treat the embassies time and that's pretty much a summation of the highlights of the fall semester for the extremely dorky and sort of sad internationally minded local collegians. I've done both.

Cross L Street at 19th and the streets had been milled, awaiting repaving and the addition of the cycle track. It's easy to see the cycle track as "TAKING ONE LANE OF TRAFFIC AWAY FROM CARS" (the all caps is mandated because that is a scary and terrible thing, like a National Weather Service announcement), but there's an alternate way of looking at it, namely as a way to corral bicyclists and free the other two travel lanes from them. I've ridden L Street before and it's a bit of cluster. You have people who ride on the left side and then some who ride on the right and you've got people filtering through traffic when it's stopped and a whole mess of other behaviors that occur when you asked people on 30 pound pieces of metal to interact with other people encased in two tons of metal. If the worst fate that could ever befall a driver is getting stuck behind the "biker going 5 miles per hour) than he ought to be relieved that those cyclists are being an alternate space so his interactions with them is that much more minimized. Just an alternate perspective.

No more crosswalks to people stop jaywalking. If they can't follow the rules of the road, I don't see why they should be given any additional infrastructure.

Sometimes the Secret Service erects gates by the White House and thereby channels all pedestrians and bicyclists through the narrow gap between the security gatehouse and the OEOB. This tends to be not enough space. It is sort of annoying.

I'm not saying that all New York drivers in DC are terrible, but it seems like every time I see one, he's doing some kind of sketchy maneuver.

There were no u-turns on Penns during my ride home except for a cop car (understandable). And a taxi. Maybe it's time to organize a boycott. Silver Cab- you're on my list. Although the diffuse nature of taxi owner/operatorship in DC makes this kind of boycott a bit more difficult to arrange. Nonetheless, maybe it's time for economic action.

I'm a bit late in getting this post done, but there's still enough time in the weekend for me to wish you the best of luck in enjoying it. Also, go Toffees!


  1. I think the PA bike line should be painted a different color and the there should be 2 or 3 spots for cabs to make U-turns, if and only if, no bikers are in the way.

  2. I've thought about dedicated u-turn zones as well, but I'm just not convinced that they wouldn't be ignored, much as the no u-turn signs are now. If there is a potential fare across the street and the u-turn zone is still three blocks down, I have a hard time imagining that the taxi driver will proceed to the correct place, safely check for approaching bicyclists, and then go on with his turn, especially if there don't appear to be any cyclists in the cycle track near the area where he would initially plan his illegal turn. Now, if the cycle track were protected the entire length, I'd be more amenable to make one or two of the intersections a space where drivers could make a u-turn (since the intersections are regulated by stop lights, this would also control bike traffic), but I worry that drivers will continue to make u-turns wherever they see fit. If that's across the bike lane, it's unacceptable.

  3. TFTS, as you know I try not to especially single out any individual cab or company - but yeah, Silver cab drivers especially DGAF about the Pa Ave bike lanes.

    Also, Sun cab drivers must get additional training on ignoring the presence of cyclists, and I imagine it's on the level of the indoctrination soldiers get so they can look at a battlefield and see targets to take out instead of people to kill.

    Anonymous @7:32, the folks who currently break these laws and disregard cyclist safety without a designated U-turn zone won't suddenly be compliant and careful if certain U-turns are allowed.