Ride Home 11/1: Dulcinea Sounds Like the Name of a Fancy Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer

Cars are objects. Drivers are people. And somehow the combination of person and BMW always seems to result in the profusion of absurd levels of ridiculous self-centeredness and moderate aggression. Why Bavaria, why? I thought you were the land of fun and pretzels and giant beers. And yet, your primary export seems to be one that increases not the hitch of my lederhosen, but ones that hoists my blood pressure, squeezing my arteries tighter than any leather pants could and twisting my stomach in knots that any pretzel maker would envy. How could this be? Is it my bias that drives the observation- that I've noted close passes by BMW drivers before and then register each subsequent one more fully, while forgiving and excusing the drivers of other makes? Or is it the amalgam of car and driver- namely that the kind of person drawn to the "ultimate driving machine" the one that should be kept as far from it as possible as he will be unable to refrain ultimately driving far too near me? Were I to test drive a BMW, would I become the aggressive lout, the inconsiderate boob, the mann who, when brought to near a gas pedal capable of making an engine make teutonic vrooms, sees the cyclist, pedestrian, grandmother, and/or baby ducks crossing the street as mere obstacles to quenching his unrestrainable desire to turn combustion into forward momentum? Could it be so? Could it?

Mass to 23rd and I repeated the attempt to ride L and it's not yet finished cycle track. Some observations for tonight:

  • Where the lane is fully installed, it seems to mostly work. Drivers mostly get the idea of mixing zones and left turns. 
  • Mixing zones aren't going to be the biggest problem, which is what I suspected initially. The biggest problem is going to come from parking garages. Drivers, when exiting the garages do two things, at least currently. The first (and less terrible, but still bad) is block the cycle track while they wait for an opening in traffic. The second (and more bad) is they drive in the cycle track because there is no break in traffic. Then, as I saw today, they cut between two of the bollards in order to move back into the travel lane. This is obviously a huge problem. It's yet another problem that could be solved by another bollard, one placed in the middle of the cycle track a little down the road from where the garage opening is, one that cyclists could easily avoid but would prevent the driver (theoretically) from continuing to drive down the bike lane. The con of this approach is that it's an obstacle in the path of cyclists and those not paying attention might ride into it. The plus side is that it might curtail drivers from using the track as overflow while they wait for traffic to clear. I don't know if this will continue to happen in practice when the lane is more fully established, but it's something that DDOT should keep in mind. 
  • The lane isn't fully installed for that many blocks. Maybe only one or two have the full assemblage of paint and bollards. So, while there are stripes on the ground to, as of tonight, near 16th street, the "full" cycle track stops well before that, probably even on the west side of Connecticut Avenue. Hence my suggestion to not ride it yet, which I dutifully ignored in order to bring you this trenchant analysis of some of the current issues. 
  • Please don't interpret these criticisms as any kind of overall judgment. All new pieces of bike infrastructure deserve "product testing" and while I might be jumping the gun a little on providing some of this feedback, it's interesting (to me at least) to see some of the initial reactions and behaviors of cyclists and drivers to maybe (hopefully) head off some issues down the road or at least best prepare for them. 
On 15th, I saw Jon. He admitted to not seeing me. I even waved. Still a lot of bike commuters out for a day that was a little colder. Last fall and winter there wasn't nearly as much of a drop-off as there was even the previous fall and winter and this fall and winter I'm expecting even less. It's pretty easy to commute year round by bicycle. Just wear more clothes. It's really as simple as that. 

Line of leaves? Line of leaves.

Perhaps it's time for some guerrilla raking. 

Why do cyclists keep knocking these bollards over? Bolted into the ground and yet "bikers" keep knocking them over. Can't think of another explanation.

This woman had a great cycling cape. 

You can't see it that well, but it was dark green and blue tartan. The cycling cape definitely falls into the "more clothes" category, so consider one for your winter cycling needs. 

It was a really gorgeous ride down Pennsylvania Avenue and as much as I snark about the u-turns,  it's really a marvelous stretch of road for bicycling. Maybe I snark so much about the u-turns because I want more people to ride it and their (perhaps rightful) concern about safety is what impedes that. Or maybe I just don't want to end up on the hood of a taxi. Either way really. 

I like a good tourist photobombing as much as the next guy but not if the next guy has a hipstery ginger mustache and was riding the other way on Penn and saw a guy trying to take a long exposure picture of the Capitol. He crooked his neck, leaned up and gave a goofy smirk. Bravo

I found one of those rhythms riding up the hill when I felt like I was going fast and yet I wasn't winded and that's just sort of the perfect place to be, at least physiologically. It wasn't a bad place to be geographically either since it's quite scenic, especially if you like domes and columns and maybe even pilasters. It was a good ride the rest of the way, excepting yet another BMW and a yellow Volkswagen Bug (seriously, what did I do to the Germans?) and I regret nothing because bike commuting is the worst form of commuting except for all of the other ways to get to work. 


  1. Sorry I didn't see you.

    I suspect selection bias, but I notice more Prius drivers doing stupid things than most other models of cars. Though maybe that's because I've already written off Lexus SUV drivers as ALL OUT TO KILL ME and don't count them anymore.

  2. maybe bollards on the sidewalk where it meets the road would be better - most cars would be unable to make the turn angle into the bike lane ( and the few that could such as Fiat 500 may weigh no more than my 1971 Schwinn Racer) and there would be no obstacle for the cyclist....

  3. "I regret nothing because bike commuting is the worst form of commuting except for all of the other ways to get to work."


    I will make the L St cycletrack a part of my commute as many mornings as I can from here on out. Except for Friday mornings when I am running behind and I need to get to #fridaycoffeeclub as quickly as possible. Then it's the Connecticut underpass for me and the Dolce Elite.

    1. My 1971 Schwinn Racer is jealous of the Dolce Elite - note because of the underpass but because of attending #fridaycoffeeclub (Poor Schwinn commute is in the wrong direction...) Hope it was joyous today.