Ride Home 11/5 and No Rides 11/6: Send in the marine biologists

I might as well change the name of the blog to Tales From the L Street Cycle Track since that's pretty much the only thing I write about these days. Before I got to L, I rode down Massachusetts and then 23rd. It was dark on both of those streets, as it was dark most other places since sunlight tends not to be hyperlocalized. Unlike the aurora borealis. Please use lights at night. Also, you might want to consider not riding on the sidewalk at night. Pedestrians rarely wear reflective clothing. I didn't wear any reflective clothing (of self-reflective clothing) either, thinking that lights, if they're good enough for cars, are good enough for me. Please use lights.

Now, the stuff about L:

  • Where the cycle track works, it really works. Much of the ride feels easy and breezy (breezier if you ride faster) and there are only a few places, mostly intersections, where it isn't as fun. But the vast majority of the cycle track is just fantastic and the overall cycling situation on L is vastly improved, especially for the person who doesn't want to "mix it up" with car traffic. 
  • I think I'm ready to conclude that the mixing zones aren't nearly as bad as I thought they would be. This might be because they work or this might be because drivers just ignore them and turn from the travel lane. There are two types of wrong lane turning that I've seen: 1) those people who missed the mixing zone, not realizing that they were supposed to moved left and 2) those people who saw the left turn lane was backed up and "missed" the mixing zone, driving instead to the intersection to turn left. Number (2) isn't nearly as hazardous as it might be, thanks to the fact that at almost every intersection there's a mass of people walking across the street, thereby preventing all drivers' left turns and slowing down traffic to a stop, allowing the individual cyclist to negotiate his way through. Still, though, less than ideal. I can forgive number (1). I think that the fact that most drivers seem to "get it" and use the mixing zones only one day weekday into the existence of the cycle track is a really positive sign. People will learn. As for the willful ignorance of others, I think that'll take some time/enforcement. 
  • Traffic wasn't irrevocably snarled. I apologize to any local media hoping to make a big deal about this. 
  • Wrong-way cycling happens on L. Not cool. 
  • The end of the cycle track at 12th is really jarring. You end up in the left lane of car traffic looking to make the tricky merge onto Massachusetts, made even trickier by the closed lane related to the permanent construction of the Convention Center Marriott. Turning left on 12th would help some, but not me and turning right on 11th would require crossing three lanes of traffic, most of which are cars rushing to try to beat the light onto Mass. Luckily, things are almost always backed up, so I stopped, lifted my bike onto the sidewalk, walked to the corner, and then continued on 11th. DC's bike infrastructure is great. It's the transitions that'll get you. 
I rode down 11th to Pennsylvania. On Pennsylvania, I listened to and watched an emergency vehicle try to make it through traffic. I feared that the driver would pull into the bike lane, since some drivers fail to oblige in a way that's way beyond selfish, so I moved over and found myself almost colliding with a lightless cyclist (maybe I should call these people dim?), but didn't and everything was fine. 

After riding up Capitol Hill, it was a straight shot down East Capitol. A few blocks in, I was passed by an older gentleman who had a bristly grey mustache. He said "hello" as he rode by. He passed a few other cyclists and it's always interesting to see responses of people in these situations. Who gives chase? Who doesn't care? Who slows down, hops of his bike and curls up in a little ball and quivers, unable to overcome his fear of bristly grey mustaches? A real variety of reactions. 

Not going to work today, so there will be no bike commute. I'll be back in business tomorrow. 

[Trite exhortation about voting and freedom]

[Trite apology for use of brackets and/or mocking freedom and democracy]

[Real apology about the trite apology and the voting snark. Voting is important]

[No apology about use of brackets. Brackets rule]


  1. I can't believe anyone would salmon on L St. Wait, yes I can. Probably someone after dark, but only if they were dressed all in black and dim.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. was deleted because missed the dim.....

  2. one of the rare moments I can mix cycling and love: my wife is a marine biologist and if necessary can be called in....

  3. I see a lot of people on the sidewalks in Rockville riding at night without lights, especially on Rockville Pike. It always makes me very concerned, whether as a pedestrian, cyclist or driver because it combines the two most likely ways of getting hit - being invisible and being on the sidewalk.