"A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector" isn't as macabre as it sounds. It's my favorite and it plays in my head, when not in my earphones, throughout the Hollandaise season (I prefer Happy Hollandaise to Happy Holidays, so not to offend those of us who only believe in brunch). This ride was marked by Sleigh Ride and the scratchy dulcet yell singing of Ronnie Spector. Ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding.
I rode down Massachusetts behind another cyclist. He wore a brown leather jacket and it clung close to his waifish frame. He rode a road bike and rode the brakes. I remained behind and we descended slower than I would have preferred, but I wasn't convinced that trying to ride past him would have good for either of us. One driver decided that there was little need to change lanes to pass us and came rather too close to the both of us, drawing a muttered curse from the guy in front of me and a muttered curse from me, too, but muttering curses is just what you do when these things happen. Sometimes you shake a fist. Occasionally you shake your head. You rarely, if ever, shake your booty. #bikeDC needs more righteous funk.
I passed the leather jacket guy near California, took 23rd to L and rode the cycle track, which was populated with a few other cyclists, including some Germans on Bikeshare, and it was also populated with a parked van and some idling taxis and the other things I've come to expect to be in the bike lane even though they oughtn't be there. As far as the design is concerned, there's no way the lane could be any more obvious. There are signs that read No Parking or Standing. There are plastic flex posts at the entrance of each block and along the way. There are arrows that indicating turn lanes and mixing zones. There are bikes stenciled in white on the pavement. So, what to do about it? I'm genuinely asking what I, just a bike commuter, should do about it. Do I talk to the drivers? Do I call 311 with each instance of illegal parking or standing? Do I jam finishing nails into car tires? Do I just tweet and blog about it just to vent my frustration with a sympathetic audience, knowing full well that this problem only gets addressed if someone with a whole lot more pull than me gets involved? Do I just let it go and accept half a loaf and a three quarters acceptable bike lane? I honestly don't know what to do. It's not like I'm losing any sleep over it (I don't sleep because I patrol the streets at night in costume preventing white collar crime. This is easy because most white collar crime takes place during the day), but I'm just really at a loss. If anyone has any good ideas, I'd be happy to hear them. Maybe I'll think of something in the my week off. Anyway, the parts that weren't blocked were nice. I wish I could only ride those parts.
Oh yeah, here's an idea. Maybe we could post fine amounts with the signs that say "don't park here" or "don't u-turn here." I certainly know if I saw "don't u turn here. $100 fine" that would definitely impact my decision making process. Makes it seem a little less advisory and a bit toothier. Of course, someone would still need to dole out those fines, but maybe be advertising the cost of the lawbreaking you'd dissuade it. I don't know. Or, maybe we could train crocodiles to patrol the bike lanes and teach them only to bite scofflaw drivers. Is it difficult to train a crocodile? Crocodiles would also make things toothier. Captain Hook's hand was eaten by a crocodile. That probably shook his booty.
11th to E to 7th and I stopped for a bit to meet a friend for a drink. After that was E to Union Station to First NE (but south) and on the sidewalk through the hyper-securitized streets between the congressional office building and that park no one ever goes to and across Constitution. I really, really, really dislike this street. Because it's not a street. It's a gated parking lot that used to be a street. Here's a grainy image. And here's a grainy image of the street I'm talking about. But rather than do the sensible thing and de-car the street and turn it into a nice pedestrian plaza that people could actually use and enjoy, it's been left a "street" for a handful of drivers and surrounded by security barriers that ensure that this block is effectively no longer a part of the city. The Capitol is surrounded by blocks of streets like this. I don't like them at all. Couldn't we park cars a little farther a way and make the space by the buildings a lot nicer (and still maybe do it in such a way that would allow access for emergency vehicles)? This is probably more expensive, but I think it'd be worth it. Maybe the new E Street can be an example for how to do this. For those of you reading this from a place where you have representatives with real votes, write your congresspeople!
I turned left at Independence and right on 2nd and followed 2nd down the hill past E Street and then the wrong way down a one way to Garfield Park and then I was riding on a path and I was glad I was paying attention because the path ended in a staircase. I carried my bike down the stairs to the skate park under the highway. There was much skateboarding here, but I didn't partake. On the other side of the highway, I rode down 2nd Street for another blocked, locked up my bike and went inside to briefly check in at the end of the Livable, Walkabale Awards (I aspire to be its Susan Lucci) and I chatted with a bunch of great people, including Phil from Bicycle Space, the very deserved winner of the Business "Bricky." It was a veritable who's who of who was still there (I got there late) and a nice little stop on the ride home, which continued down I and K and L Street to 8th to North Carolina and then around the park and home.