Ride In 12/21 & Ride Home 12/21: Soup, Salad or Hot Wings

I'm writing this on Sunday morning. After I finish this post, I'm going to head out to the Hains Point 100, which I believe is some sort of cupcake eating contest occasionally interrupted by bicycle riding. At least that's what I'm hoping. I've been training by eating bowls of frosting. In related news, I've been very sick.

Friday morning rides are notable because I stop for coffee in the middle of them. Standard route on the standard bike lanes, bike lanes that I've come to take for granted. However, nothing rouses me from this complacency like problems with them. On 15th:

I shall refrain from comment. I won't refrain from sarcastic hyperlinks.

After coffee, I rode up 17th accompanied by Jacques until he turned at M Street. I continued to and through Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont Circle (RASFDuP is the hot new acronym for a place that doesn't need one) and rode on Massachusetts behind an SUV with a license plate that hailed from New Jersey. I don't know from where the driver hailed, but he failed to notice that a garbage truck had blocked the right lane and failed the merge to the left and he stopped. I stopped behind him and my brakes made a terrible noise. I didn't stop short, but it was abrupt. From the bus stop to my right, the kind of young woman who talks to strangers at bus stops told the stranger next to her "And that's why I stopped biking to work." I said "It's ok." I wanted to say more. I didn't.

I followed the sidewalk up the hill after riding on the road for a while but construction on the sidewalk put me back into the road and I found myself stopped behind a truck that had stopped to unload the same construction materials that were blocking the sidewalk.

After an early dismissal from work, I rode in reverse direction from my morning commute, but turned right at 23rd instead of keeping on until Connecticut. I took 23rd to L and rode took the L Street Cycle Track across town. I did not make way for the ignorant, mostly because the ignorant somehow manage to avoid driving or parking in the bike lane. I'm sure that wasn't their intention, but just a happy circumstance of my riding in the lane early enough in the day. It was nice to have my last commute in the L Street Cycle Track of 2012 go well. I hope for equally good commutes in 2013 and maybe even ones westbound in an M Street Cycle Track.

You vote in the Washington Post 2012 DC Tweeps contest yet? You could. You don't even need to show ID. If you do plan to vote for local transit expert and you'd like to abandon good sense, you could even vote for me, @SharrowsDC. Unfortunately, unlike the other nominees, I lack actual expertise (@beyondDC, @StreetsblogDC, @transportgooru) or the platform from which to criticize the massive systemic failure that ruins the commutes of hundreds of thousands of people (@unsuckDCmetro), but every once in a while, I'll post a picture of a poodle, so that's gotta be good for something, right?

The rest of the ride was also fine or at least I don't remember it not being so (one of the hazards of writing two days later. Or maybe one of the benefits). I'm off work this week, so it's unlikely I'll ride to work just so I can write about it, but you never know. Ok, in this instance you do know: I'm not going to do that. But the blog might not remain fallow on the off-chance that someone submits a guest post or I'm otherwise overwhelmed by the desire to write something Very Important About Bike Commuting. Assuming neither of those things happen, I'll see you in the new year. Thank you so much for reading.


GUEST POST: @Dizzyluv25 is back in the saddle

I rode to work this morning and it was fine and I looked jaunty (or something), but you read about my rides all the time and why foist another one on you when I can foist a write-up from friend-of-the-blog Veronica. Plus, I'll still foist my post on you, but just later in the day. Foisting deferred is not foisting denied, as goes the popular phrase that's never actually been uttered by anyone ever. In any case, many, many thanks to Ms. V for her wonderful contribution to the very insubstantial part of the #bikeDC blog ecosystem that is Tales From The Sharrows. It's a special holiday treat! 

I had minor surgery, which sidelined me for 3 weeks. Today was my first day back on “Sweet Baby” (my Surly Crosscheck) since riding off–road with the guys back in late-November.

I recently bought an Adidas windstopper outershell with a hood that accommodates a helmet. I was excited to road test it. I get cold easily so I had on a short sleeve base layer, my long sleeve Black Women Bike Jersey and my new outershell. I forgot my gloves. I was freezing during the walk from my condo to my bike, so I was a little concerned I didn’t have on enough layers.

My trip started from home. I rode Pennyslvania Ave SE towards the Sousa Bridge. DDOT was repaving the I-295 N on-ramp from Pennsylvania Ave SE, which backed up westbound traffic all the way to 30th St SE. I flew passed the cars and buses. Going across the bridge, the eastbound traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see. Oh well, not my problem. By the time I got to the Bridge, I was nice an toasty in my new fancy coat.

I cut across Barney Circle to hop on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail west bank, or whatever DDOT is calling it these days. Passed a big man (like 6’3’, 250 lbs) walking with a little dog (a terrier or something like that). The contrast made me laugh. From the trail I cut across the RFK Parking lot , then took the right lane on Benning Road NE westbound like I owned it. Made the right on 17th St and headed down to Bladensburg Road.

After making the right on Bladensburg Road NE, I took right travel lane like I had balls of steel. At some point reality hit me that I don’t have balls and no parts of me are made of steel, so I got my hindparts on the sidewalk. DDOT really needs to make the sidewalks on Bladensburg wider. When I got to the bridge passed New York Ave, there was no room for my bike and me around a utility pole in the sidewalk.

From Bladensburg I made the left up Queens Chapel Road. I thought Ward 7 had hills. Good grief. “Fortunately” it’s a short (yet steep) hill. I was burning up by the time I got to the top. I took 22nd to Franklin St to Mills St NE. By the time I got to the top of Mills at Rhode Island Ave NE I had to unzip the pits of my coat to get some cool air. I arrived at WACIF (Washington Area Community Investment Fund) to handle some paperwork for the business. Since there are no bike racks outside of WACIF, “Sweet Baby” chilled in the lobby.

Next stop was a on-site meeting for a project at 12th and Varnum St NE. It was a pretty quick ride up 22nd St to South Dakota to Taylor to 12th to Varnum St NE. I rode to the right on the road, but gave myself 3 feet from the parked cars. The motorists were patient and some even gave me a friendly wave. I passed a few pedestrians who wished me “Merry Christmas”. One older lady on 12th St NE said she was praying for me.

After my meeting I headed over to The Big Hunt on Connecticut Ave to meet with the New Belgium Brewing Company Tour de Fat Car Traders (say that 5 times fast) from Durham and Boise. A side note, I got “Sweet Baby” by trading in my car at the inaugural DC Tour de Fat in June of this year. From 12th and Varnum St NE, I took 12th to Taylor St NE. I went east on Taylor up a LONG. STEEP. HILL. I made it about half way before I got off to walk the bike up the hill. That hill is so steep even walking was making my calves tight. When I got to the top I needed a water and oxygen break. Riding down the hill on Harewood made going up Taylor worth the effort. Took Michigan across to Columbia Rd NW. Why doesn’t Columbia Rd NW have bike lanes? Anywho.

I made the left on 11th St and was happy to have bike lanes for the first time in my cross city trek. At the intersection of 11th and Harvard a cyclist shoaled me. He then proceeded to run all the lights on 11th St. At Florida a second cyclists shoaled me. I checked my back to make sure someone didn’t put a “Shoal Me” note on my back. I abided by all the traffic laws while they both weaved through intersection. I caught up to BOTH of them at 11th and S St NW. They put their life in danger for no reason.

Took S Street to 15th St cycle track. I road 15th St down to R St. The southbound lane was full of leaves and clay-like mud. Who’s responsible for keeping the cycle tracks clean? I took R Street to Connecticut Ave NW. In my second crazy move for the day I rode down Connecticut. Instead of going around the circle I biked through it to my destination on the south side.

After a beer with my fellow car-traders it was time to head home. I have no idea of the exact route, but I ended up in the L St cycle track. This was my first time riding it and I have mixed emotions. I like the dedicated lane for cyclists, however, there is something slightly unnerving about being on the left of the cars. I wasn’t scared (because I have balls of steel… oh yeah… I don’t), but I’d prefer to be on the right of the cars. I took the L St cycle track to 15th St cycle track to Pennsylvania Ave cycle track. On Pennsylvania Ave I encountered 3 cyclists: 1 salmon, and 2 ninjas. One of the ninjas ran the light and almost got wiped out by a tour bus. You would think he learned his lesson, right? Nope. He ran the light at 9thSt too.

When I got to 7th St and Pennsylvania Ave NW there was a 36 bus in the distance. I figured I had biked the good fight for the day, so why not take the bus the rest of the way home. I put “Sweet Baby” on the front of the bus, patted myself on the back for a great ride, and enjoyed my warm surroundings. That is, until we got to Pennsylvania and 6th St SE. Traffic came to a halt. It took us 10 minutes to go from 6th St to 8th St SE. Seeing only break lights, I decided to say goodbye to the warm bus and bike the rest of the way home.

I passed 7 buses from Eastern Market to the Sousa Bridge. Once I got to the bridge I figured I’d beat all the buses to the top of the hill. I biked up Pennsylvania Ave SE eastbound S L O W L Y. The 39, the bus I passed that was the furthest east, beat me to the top of the hill by 30 seconds. My neighbor who was on the 39 bus that was right in front of the 36 bus that I was on got home 30 minutes after me.

According to googlemaps, my total bike excursion was 20 miles (this doesn’t include the bus leg of my trip). My legs hate me right now. I’m thinking bubble bath and a good night sleep is in order.


Ride Home 12/20: Regulatory Rapture

People on foot have it the worst. Sure, bicyclists have it bad, but pedestrians really have it worse. Sometimes I think that if I really wanted to be a better bike advocate, I wouldn't be a bike advocate at all and it'd be much better if I took up the cause of pedestrian rights (and lefts). This is true for a lot of reasons, some of which are philosophical (almost everyone walks) and others of which are tactical (almost everyone walks) and if I formed the Washington Area Walkist Association, it'd be called WAWA and I could also sell sandwiches via a touchscreen mechanism and make all of the money. I think the cause of walkability is also the cause of bikeability in a way that isn't necessarily true in the other direction. So, in conclusion, be nice to pedestrians. All of this is a run up to say that it really cheeses me off when a driver fails to yield at a crosswalk. It'd bad enough that crosswalks confine people to cross the street in places that might not even be that convenient and it's also bad that the amount of time given to getting cars through intersections vastly exceeds the amount of time spent getting walkists across intersections and all of this compounds to something vastly worse when there's an impatient boob in a luxury sedan whipping around a corner and stopping feet from you. Be kind to pedestrians. Drive and bike as if you care.

Mass to 23rd to L. This happened. Then this happened. "That's not what justice is," the colonel jeered, and began pounding the table again with his big fat hand. "That's what Karl Marx is. I'll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning." Thanks, DDOT.

Some good stuff from our friends at Washingtonian. I didn't know it was a humor magazine. I'll trade all of the streets with cycle tracks for all the streets without them. Deal or no deal?

This is the end of the L Street Cycle Track. Those are some bike boxes and they prove absolutely useless if there's a green light on L; you cannot stop there. 

L Street
You end up stopping here, which is on 11th street. You get here by making a leftward button hook, which I was also a move that Samuel Gompers might have used in unionizing textile workers. 

11th Street

11th street is craggy. I wonder if the upkeep of our streets would be better if most people weren't so inured to their terribleness intermediated by a ton of metal and a comfy, plush seat. Or perhaps our streets would be better if they weren't being trampled daily by very heavy cars. 

Here are some pictures of the driveway near the Capitol about which I wrote this morning:

Safety first. 

There was a tipped over orange cone in the bike lane on East Capitol in the block with the Supreme Court on one side and the Library of Congress on the other. I asked one of the police officers there if I could move the cone. Normally, I'm a seek forgiveness rather than ask permission kind of guy, but not when it comes to the state security apparatus. He said that I could kick the cone to the curb. I tossed it. He said "thank you, sir." No, no. Thank you, sir. 

Two more bike commutes. Next year, I'm going to make a bike commute advent calendar and reward myself with candy. But, really, bike commuting is its own reward. But you'd think that about Christmas too. 

Ride In 12/20: Was Fantine singing about literal tigers? That would really change my understanding of that song

This was a lazy ride. I slept in and shuffled out of the house about 20 minutes later than I normally would. And rather than try to make up the time on the road, I decided that I'd do the opposite and really luxuriate in my lateness. When others zig, I zag. And when others zag, I duck for cover because zagging is unpredictable and highly dangerous.

My first stop on my very lazy trip was the Wells Fargo at Pennsylvania and 10th. I deposited some checks at the ATM. Before this, I leisurely rode down to and around the Capitol, directed away from my normal path through the plaza/parking lot in front of the Capitol by one and then another member of the Capitol police, standing out front and blocking the entrance. I followed some other bike commuters around toward the north side of the building, where we were able to pick up another path and follow that to the driveway which dumped out at the bottom of the hill. At the very bottom of that driveway, the one on the Senate side of the Capitol, there is a security gate. And there's also a big planter. And there's some metal bollards. All of these serve to restrict, I guess, the movement of cars. But they're tremendously hazardous to bicyclists, so I urge you to be very careful if you happen to be biking along there. AND, to make matters worse, recently (within the last month, maybe), they've moved a metal fence-let there and have placed it between the planter and one of the metal posts, further restricting the movement of bicyclists. Ugh. Dear state security apparatus: either restrict access or don't. You really needn't be so passive-aggressive about the whole thing.

After the bank, I followed Pennsylvania for another block (I rode on the sidewalk because I'm one of those terrible people) and then rode on the street, 11th street, for a block before stopping to ascertain whether the line at Starbucks was too long. I drink Starbucks because I'm one of those terrible people. The line was too long, or at least too long for my patience, which even on a slow, leisurely, bike ride, is easily tested. I set off again and followed 11th northward, for that is the way that I needed to go.

There were bicyclists aplenty on 11th. There were also a few on R, including one man in a bright orange coat who took umbrage at more than one driver who partially blocked the bike lane in anticipation of making a right turn. His umbrage took the form of touching the side panel of a taxi and it also took the form of verbally scolding a driver a few blocks later. That's a lot of umbrage. He was the bike lane defender and he was going to defend the sanctity of the bike lane against all interlopers. I never know how to feel about these sorts of people. I am very much not one of them and part of me is deeply embarrassed by their levels of righteous extroversion. But on the other hand, much of me is deeply in awe of their self-assuredness and unwillingness to be slighted.

It's sort of cool when you diverge from a bike commuter in one part of town and then you come back together in a different part of town. Only so many places to go, only so many ways to get there.

I decided to again attempt a stop at Starbucks. I locked at Connecticut and R and my bike fell down after I locked it. This line was even longer than the one I didn't wait in on 11th street:

I guess my overwhelming desire for caffeination overwhelmed my impatience. I had a Starbucks gift card, so it was free.

I didn't even drink any coffee during the rest of the ride, which was on the last bit of R Street and up Massachusetts Avenue. On Massachusetts, from 30th Street to 34th Street, I counted 9 drivers holding their phones, either talking or texting. I don't know if this is a high or low number. So, we're either winning or losing the battle on distracted driving.

No problems the rest of the way. I saw a guy on a CaBi stopped at an intersection and he had propped up his leg on a lamppost in a position that looked like it was inspired by the Karate Kid. The things people will do to avoid putting their feet on the ground amaze me. I haven't yet encountered shoe-eating bacteria, so I'm fairly certain it doesn't cover our roadways. Though I'd hate to be wrong.


Ride Home 12/19: Salsa Verde

Take lights out of bag. Put lights on bike. Turn lights on. Ride out of parking garage. Realize it's still daytime. Turn lights off.

I rode over another chunk of concrete today, managing not to fall down this time. Were I sensible, I would believe, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling and that the sky is made of concrete. How else could you explain its greyness? But I am not sensible and I continue to believe that this concrete falls from the back of dump trucks in chunks small enough to be hazardous to bicyclists who aren't looking for them. Why I continue to not look for chunks of small concrete remains a mystery.

The speed limit on Massachusetts Avenue is 30 miles per hour and the speed cameras don't typically capture/ticket vehicles unless they are travelling about 11 miles over the speed limit. That means I'd have to be riding 41 miles per hour down the hill in order to set off the camera. While this is certainly achievable on a bike, it's not something that I think I can achieve absent the assistance of Wernher von Braun. And if I have one rule about bike commuting, it's never to rely on the assistance of former Nazi rocket scientists in order to get speeding tickets that you wouldn't even want to pay in the first place. That's stuff you learn on the first day ofBike Commuting 101. On a totally unrelated note, would you watch a sitcom modeled on Welcome Back, Kotter called Welcome Bike, Kotter? Because I might or might not have a spec script that I'm shopping around.

Yield signs make me think of Inigo Montoya. I do not think that word means what you think it means. Nor does this "Left Turn Must Turn Left" at 23rd and L. Routinely ignored by so many drivers. Must be CONFUSION.

Must? Must we?
23rd to the L Street Cycle Track. It used to be that the problems I encountered happened at the eastern end of the route, but now they tend to happen more frequently at the western end. That's some Horace Greely shit right there. If it's ever blocked by a Conestoga wagon, I'm never biking again. I will officially give up.

Managed to get right on 11th with no issue (but what of the entail? Downtown Abbey references 4-ever) and then I followed a commuter bus for a few blocks before passing the commuter bus on its left and then riding into the invisible bike box on the other side of the crosswalk at F Street (it's invisible because it's also imaginary) and then got a good jump, got passed E and then made it left on red at Pennsylvania, where I followed a guy on a CaBi for half a block and then made an effort and caught a bunch of green lights and then there were no more green lights because I was riding on the drive that runs parallel to the path that borders the grass that surrounds the Capitol. At the top of the Hill, I took this picture of these cars parked in front of the Capitol to expose to America that the front of its Very Important and Very Historically Significant home of its national legislature is pretty much treated like a hum drum post office. Just park in front.

Beautiful for spacious skies and ample rows of parking.
They do the same thing in Budapest and it always struck me as deeply incongruous and somehow deeply disrespectful, to both the present and the past. But cars!

Cut off by a van on East Capitol. He rode into the bike lane in front of me to park/idle. In order to not ride into the back of the van, I had to leave the bike lane and pull into the travel lane. I glared at the driver. As I glared, the driver behind me honked. She honked! I whipped my head around and glared at her too. This is what class solidarity looks like. Give me a break

Some more sweet street loot.

The sign says FREE.

I didn't bring this home. It might still be there. Street loot is the best.

Ride In 12/19: Grande Armée of Darkness

"Coldfinger," longingly belts an internalized Shirley Bassey, regretful that I left home without my gloves. Stupid winter weather during stupid actual winter. It didn't seem that cold before I left home, but maybe that was because I was inside. (If you knew how little insulation our house has, you would know that's not much of a joke. An actual joke? How little insulation our house has.)

Washington is a town full of suspicious packages. This might even be on its official tourism brochures. This morning there was one not too far from where I live and I stopped to find out how many streets were blocked (many) and how many emergency personnel had responded (many) and just gawked for a little while because hey, why not. I didn't see the suspicious package, but I can only assume it was bright green and covered in question marks. I guess you can never be too careful.

It was one of those mornings where people driving cars were mostly fine but people on foot were sort of terrible. Pedestrians seemed antsy. Any gap between cars and someone would try to get across the street. Given the way that pedestrians are normally bullied into submission, I can't really blame them, but it can make for a trickier bike commute and more than once I stopped short to avoid someone who had left the sidewalk regardless of my approach. Oh well. There are lots of things that you can get upset about during a commute and I rank jaywalkers rather low on that list. Above them, I rank reckless taxi drivers, lack of bike-thru churro stands, and birds who hold eye contact just a little bit too long. I keep this list on a big vellum scroll.

I don't know why I ever bothered biking in winter without Ibex wool tights. I endorse them. I want merino wool everything. I might even replace Ellie the Poodle with a merino sheep. I will name her Ellie the Merino Sheep (EtMS) for continuity purposes. If I do this, I'll include EtP in the same eBay auction with my Yoda street loot. That's a great deal.

There are some intersections where it's red lights in all directions at the same time for a few seconds and cyclists approaching from every direction manage to run their own red lights and it's like shooting the moon in Hearts and everyone involved should consider that a victory. 11th and R is like that.

You ever see how closely you can pass a car that's parked blocking the bike lane? I call it Reverse Pamplona-ing. It's totally going to become a thing, like swagger-jacking and noveau Columbusing. You're welcome, DC lexicon.

Noticed this at the top of Massachusetts.

Ruh roh.
Looks like I'm going to need some new bar tape. People, many of you who might actually be reading this, have told me in the past that wrapping your handlebars isn't that hard and that there's YouTube tutorials aplenty. But there were YouTube tutorials aplenty for tying bow ties and even with that, it probably took me a good hour of frustration to figure that out. It's good that I have the week off next week.


Ride Home 12/18: FLAX

I'm the guy at the office holiday party wearing bike shoes.

Huh. According to this picture, it also appears I didn't unroll my cuff either. 

I could've worn real shoes (not a famous Marlon Brando quote), but I decided to swap out my work shoes for bike shoes because 1) I was biking home directly after the party and 2) I didn't think anyone would notice, mind, or say anything if they did either notice or mind. I have polite coworkers.

After the party, which took place at a Mexican-ish in Tenleytown, I rode down Wisconsin Avenue. Before the party, as I walked from my locked bike to the front door of the Mexican-ish restaurant, I dropped my hat, and a kid, maybe 14, saw this and said "Sir, you dropped your hat." I said thanks because I am polite and perhaps a member of the peerage.

Not a lot of bikes on Wisconsin from Tenley through Georgetown. And here's why: it's terrible. The road is six lanes. Sometimes all six are used by moving cars, sometimes a third of the lanes are used for car storage. In either case, the number of lanes combined with the relatively high speeds (I consider anything over 30 miles per hour relatively high), make for a relatively crummy ride. At least it's downhill. And here's the problem with a crummy ride like this: it sort of warrants that you (or me, since this is my story) to adopt a bit of a "fuck the world" attitude of faux badassery. You (me?) gotta move fast, you gotta be bold and decisive, you gotta quote Des'ree lyrics, you gotta weave and you gotta put your safety and well-being above being a better,more patient and genial person. And here's the problem with a "fuck the world" attitude. It's fun. And addictive. (This affect afflicts too many cyclists. It's why they don't smile.) And it's terribly, terribly anti-social. I didn't do anything really bad and I didn't do anything more illegal than what I'd normally do, but my overall demeanor was worse (I was da meaner), but soon enough it all ended, I was able to reintegrate into normal, polite and slow bike society with the assistance of the L Street Cycle Track after taking M and Penn.

I found some street loot. It's a Yoda keychain. I stopped in the crosswalk to pick this up. Totally worth it.

Looks like the Official Wife gets two Christmas presents this year!
If I auctioned this off for money to give to WABA, would you give me that money to give to them? Would it be mad scratch? Would you be willing to engage in an online auction of street loot for mad scratch? Is Street Loot For Mad Scratch the title of my underground hip hop mix tape? Anyway, if you want Yoda, he might or might not end up on eBay. This is genuine #bikeDC street loot. It's definitely worth scratch, maybe even mad scratch. And WABA loves it some mad scratch. It also loves it some board members, so express your interest if you're interested. Were I a WABA board member, I'd use my position to promote my own self-interest and have not-yet-fired employees send out email blasts to all of the members to tell them to vote for me as the best local transit tweep. Update: I'm still losing. Badly.

I nearly biked a perfect on L (no blockages, only two minor turning car problems) and then rode 11th to Pennsylvania, where I saw no u-turns because I'm sure that whole problem has been fixed by now. Actually, there have been more reports of police enforcement, so bully for that. Sure, it's way more expensive and way less effective that some pieces of plastic, but it's not like inanimate carbon rods can be heroes or anything.

Lots of people take pictures of themselves with their phones in front of the Capitol dome and here's mine.

Do I look French? I think I look a little French here. 
Right after I took this picture, I was passed on my left and then on my right by two other bike guys and they set off when the light changed and it was a tete-a-tete Cat 6 super race and I was like "oh, so this is happening" and soon I found myself trailing both of them as they raced and part of me wanted to ride between the two of them (they rode nearly side-by-side) and raise my arms in the air like I just won a bunch sprint but I didn't do this because it would have been very silly. So, that was what happened on East Capitol.

Ride In 12/18: Cambridge Semicolon

It's December. I promise.

The roads were wet and I rode slowly, though the latter has very little to do with the former, having much more to do with my form and my willingness to ride absolutely no faster than was absolutely necessary to get me to work not too much later than when it's expected that I should absolutely be there without having to seek absolution.

I don't like to pass any person on a bike in front of me if it's not likely that I'm going to make it through at least the next two green lights. This happens to me many times on East Capitol, where the stop lights are many and timed in such a way that you either get through all of them on the green or are delayed at each successive red. Of the bicyclists I saw today, one was a woman about whom I can remember nothing and one was a gentleman about whose white tubes, pulled high to cover his calves, bridging the gap between his shoes and the bottoms of his knickers, I cannot forget. I harbor no grudges against the wearing of white tube socks, though donning them for a wet morning's bike commute doesn't seem especially practical. Perhaps he's part-owner of a laundry detergent concern.

I followed the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track to 15th street, followed 15th street for a few more blocks, and turned left, riding between Lafayette Park and the White House, ending up at 17th and behind a few drivers who patiently waited for some folks to cross G Street, before locking my bike to a parking meter, heading into M.E Swing Coffee Co and purchasing a pound of Winter Solstice Coffee Blend (the preferred coffee blend of Druids!) to gift to my boss, who is not, to the best of my knowledge, a druid. M.E. Swing Coffee Co is the home of Friday Coffee Club and I was pleased to learn that there was no secret Tuesday Coffee Club to which I had not been invited. My tears would be bitterer than espresso, so I'm lucky my fear of a secret, exclusionary #bikeDC coffee club was artificial-er than Splenda.

G Street through Foggy Bottom. At red lights at a few blocks in the 20s (the street, not the decade), a woman in a bright yellow jacket, silver disc earrings, and ankle boots would pull alongside of me (she was on a bike, in case that's unclear) and nearly shoal me, but at the last minute, change her mind or think better of it or something or other would dissuade her. While being passed at a red light can be frustrating, there's something odder about being paralleled.

Virginia Avenue to K Street to Wisconsin Avenue to nearly M Street, but I stopped at Paul to pick up some pastries because this was also part of the office Christmas gifting process. The pastries were of the usual, laminated wonderfulness and I purchased two in the shape of ginger bread men (yet they were not ginger, in bread or hair) and two in the shape of Christmas trees, FUN FACT: pastries are delicious. FUN FACT #2: I love bringing pastries to work. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to update my resume to just be a napkin covered in buttery flakes and chocolate.

I placed the bags of treats in the very top of my messenger bag (they ended up ok) and set off up the rest of Wisconsin Avenue. Here's Wisconsin and M:

The star is a reminder of what the holiday season is all about: the Doctor Who Christmas special.

Some fleeting memories of Wisconsin Avenue:

  • the lack of bike lanes through Glover Park. I think this was a mistake in the redesign of the street. 
  • bumper sticker that asked if I "Got Biscuits?" 
Riding down Massachusetts Avenue, before the intersection with Idaho, there's an entrance to a church parking lot and this morning there was a woman heading in the opposite direction on Massachusetts making a left turn into that parking lot entrace and her car was obscured by traffic and, in short, she cut me in front of meas I rode down the hill. I braked. I skidded. I felt my back wheel drift to the right. I remained upright. I swerved. It was EXTREME, like in the X-Games, but also banal, like in the not-yet-fully-sponsored Banal Games (brought to you by Ovaltine!). I'm glad there was no crashing, as that would have really dampened my enthusiasm for continuing on with the rest of my day and also might have hurt. Be safe on wet roads. 


Ride In & Ride Home 12/17: Teuton Common

Two newsy items of note, the first and more important of which is the Bikeshare expansion, which will bring 54 new stations in early 2013. Allegedly. I'm sure it'll happen, but we've done this before and I think it'll take longer than March and I don't think we'll get all 54. There's almost always a problem with siting one or two of the stations. Nonetheless, 50 more stations in DC proper is a pretty big deal and since one of them will be two blocks from my house, I'm pretty excited. What this all MEANS in a large sense for DC and bicycling and bike culture and citizen cycling chic and such is still up in the air, much like Capital HotAirBalloonShare, which is slated to launch some time between the DC Streetcar  late 2013) and the DC Hover-Streetcar (2213). Watch for sandbags.

The other bit of newsy news is that the good folks at the Washington Post (pronounced down-home-ingly as the Warshington Porst) committed one of the bigger acts of journalistic malfeasance not involving WMD by including my name amongst those of real Local Transit Experts in the 2012 DC Tweeps popularity contest. I encourage you to vote for @SharrowsDC (even ironically) and I promise that even if you drop a bucket of fake blood on me at prom, I won't go all crazy and get you all in an act of phantasmagorical revenge. Or, you could vote for any of the other tweeps, since they're all good too. But keep in mind that unlike the other tweeps, my favorite color is [your favorite color (favourite colour if you're British)] and the best sports team is the [your favorite team] and I will pander oh so very much because coming in second in this very ephemeral contest will be the crowning achievement of my social media life. I might also make myself a trophy. It will have a plastic bowling man on it.

I am a dolt. I decided to remove my fenders from my bicycle this weekend and this morning the streets were wet and I was one of those dolts who rides on wet streets without fenders. I also swapped out my tires for some thinner, better, road-er tires, all in the attempt to ready my bike for the Hains Point 100 on Sunday. I don't think I'll ride all 100 miles on account of my getting winded when I even think about walking up the stairs, but I'm definitely planning a few laps, all in the name of [your favorite charity] WABA's Women's Bicycle Outreach and Advocacy Campaign. If you'd like to ride in circles for six hours, then sign up now! If you'd like to give money to Megan, who is really quite a lovely person aside from her willingness to ride in circles for six hours, give money now! If you feel pressured by imperatives and exhortations and exclamations, accept my apology now!

East Capitol through the Capitol Grounds down the hill to a left on 3rd and a right onto Madison Drive and a quick straight shot down the Mall, which has new grass that will all soon be trampled at the second inauguration of the same president we have now. I kept on until crossing 14th and 15th and then took the paths by the fenced-in Washington Monument (I guess they don't want it to wander off?) and then by the World War II Memorial (it has pillars for veterans from USVI and Puerto Rico. Does it have one for DC? It does. I just didn't see it) and then down the path past the reflecting pool and over to 23rd street. I rode up 23rd street to and through Washington Circle (the worst circle in DC), up New Hampshire and then instead of taking 22nd towards Massachusetts, my eye was caught by a garbage truck parked in the L Street Cycle Track. So began my morning odyssey down the cycle track from 22nd to 15th, wherein I was basically Ulysses, except instead of killing cyclops and tying myself to masts and whatnot, I took pictures of scofflaw parkers and snarkily tweeted about it. Local Transit Expert. I turned left at 15th, followed that to R Street ("R Street, is a very, very fine street" sings Crosby, Stills, Nash and L'Enfant) and followed that past Connecticut Avenue to the intersection with Massachusetts Avenue and rode up the hill. Was my bike, lightened from its absence of rack and fenders, any faster up hill? Not that I could tell. It's not like it's a horse (how you down-homing-lu pronounce hose?). It still relies on me to power it and I'm certainly no faster than I was the last time I rode it. On the other side of Wisconsin, I found a $5 bill in the street and I stopped and picked it up and I mean to put it into a poor box because it's probably bad luck to keep found money according to some religious or philosophical or historical tradition.

I rode home in the dark, but I had lights on my bike and things were generally fine. There was a cold, wet mist and it was like I was being spat upon by a penguin. Night riding isn't so bad anymore. I guess I've become accustomed to it.

Does riding a bike through the city take an unduly confidence? I can never tell. Maybe. Probably. I guess. I don't know.

Mass to 23rd to L and the comedy of errors of driving parked or "standing" in the bike lane continued. I say "standing" because there were people in or next to the cars. This is somehow even more offensive to me than parking the car. One guy even apologized to the cyclists as they rode past. How about instead of apologies, you JUST DON'T FUCKING LEAVE YOUR CAR IN THE BIKE LANE IN THE FIRST PLACE? The worst part of it is that due to the construction of the cycle track, the parking took place in the mixing zones, creating havoc for drivers as well as cyclists. So, way to go, jerks. I get that you're just "popping in" for "just a minute," but come on. This isn't CONFUSION. This a calculated, rational, cost-benefit analysis that they're going to get away with it. And unless DDOT starts putting TCOs on each corner (which maybe they should?), they will. So, yeah. Decidedly uncool.

I found myself in the left lane at the end of the cycle track and unable to get right at 11th street and soon I was on Massachusetts and even sooner I was looking for a way off of Massachusetts and I turned right at 10th and right again and New York and illegally left at 11th and followed a bus for the five-ish blocks to Pennsylvania, where I turned left again to ride the cycle track, across which I saw at least one u-turn. U-turn, I-turn, we all turn across cycle tracks. I try not to let my fatalism about this get the best of me, but it's hard. I found myself singing to the tune of America's most alien-looking songstress Taylor Swift " Theeeee-eeese are never, ever, ever getting any better" and now I'm imagining a whole parody song video which will change the hearts and minds of all the drivers who do this horrible thing. Local Transit Expert.

On East Capitol, I followed a man who wore on orange helmet that looked like a bowling ball and it had an OBAMA sticker on the back. To the best of my knowledge, it was not President Obama himself. I rode to Lincoln Park, around Lincoln Park and away from Lincoln Park, veering left on A Street and then home.

It's good to be back. Thanks for reading.


Ride Home 12/7: Henry of Navarre

"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.


Ride Home 12/6 & Ride In 12/7: Instant Oatmeal Gratification

I didn't much care for this ride home. I wasn't in a good mood and I let the bad and disrespectful behavior of some drivers get under my skin and I ended up flipping off a cabbie who made a u-turn across Penn even though this driver was at least almost a full block away from me when he did it and I was in no danger whatsoever. It was a good 10 seconds after he made the illegal turn that we crossed paths. I was also wearing heavy gloves, so I doubt he even knew what I was doing. In short, it was self-indulgent and immature and totally unnecessary. It's better not to let these kinds of these get under your skin, even if you're having a bad ride home and stupid stuff keeps happening. Also, please don't stab anyone. Violence like this is really distressing, no matter the cause.

My route took me down Mass, down 23rd, over L, down 11th,over Pennsylvania and down East Capitol. I don't know what makes some streets "down" streets and other streets "over" streets. Just one of those mysteries of life. It's not an elevation thing and it's not a directional thing, at least not as far as I can tell. Prepositions are just so crazy.

This morning was a fine-ish ride, made complicated by the same scaffolding truck(s) once again parked in the 15th Street Cycle Track. I see. So it's like that then.

Rather than exasperate you by continuing to ineffectually complain about this to no real end, I'll just link to Kittens Inspired by Kittens. "We are eating pepper and chips" is what I will say to console myself each subsequent time this happens. I see no reason to expect this to not continue to happen. The better part of valor is discretion and you shouldn't let pique cause you to do anything detrimental or harmful, like ride against traffic when traffic is coming. Because that's totally not what I did [whistling and avoiding eye contact]

Coffee was fun. We talked extensively about pantslessness and I was gifted a bottle of coconut rum from Mauritius. Just a usual Friday.

Afterwards, Adam, in town from Norfolk and previous to that some, if not all, of the Seven Seas, rode together to Adams (a different Adam, I think) Morgan. We took the 15th Street Cycle Track from the White House north and was there a crane truck blocking the bikeway so they could hang a big wreath on the outside of the building of the Department of Veterans Affairs? Yes, there was. Why would I ask such a question otherwise? That'd be kind of random, even for this blog.

It was a nice wreath though.
The 15th Street Cycle Track is definitely my favorite one-way cycle track in all of DC.

Leaves blocked the southbound lane in many places
On the bright side, the wet leaves did cover up most of the potholes.

We rode up the hill past Meridian Park and that was thoroughly unfun, but we both made it and then to Columbia Road, where we hung a Louie (better than guillotining one), crossed 16th when the light turned green and rode on to WABA HQ, where Adam hoped to meet one of WABA's most not-yet-fired new employees. I continued on Columbia and then Adams (is this the same Adam or yet another Adam?) Mill Road and over the bridge on Calvert Street to a right turn on to Cleveland. The climb up Cleveland wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be, in spite of the fact that my wet Chucks kept slipping off my wetter pedals. I was at work not too much later and my bike has been in my office all day and my bike is normally quite versatile, it has not proven itself adept at either filing or taking phone messages. 

I'm not going to be riding to work next week, so the next post is going to be the last one for a bit. As always, guest posts in my absence are quite welcome. Email me if you're interested. 


Is twice a trend?

Pushing this back until tomorrow. It's probably for the best anyway. Some drivers weren't good about bike lanes and my response to this was less than mature and more than a little self-indulgent. And not even in a cool way either. I'll write this one off as a bad night, but first I'll have to write it. Pop quiz: Friday Coffee Club is

A) a Dragnet-themed espresso bar/nightclub
B) a security device that deters coffee theft
C) an informal gathering of #bikeDC at M.E. Swings
D) a misheard diner order of fried egg COUGH COUGH and club sandwich.
E) a useful framing device around which to come up with a silly pop quiz.

Seeya tomorrow.

Ride Home 12/5, Ride to the Car Dealership 12/6, Drive Home from the Car Dealership 12/6, Ride In 12/6: Any additional words in this title would be superfluous and so they are

This is the true story (TRUE STORY) of thee rides and one drive picked by me to be blogged to find out what happens when I stop riding politely (ok, not really) and start commuting real (real being an adverb for some reason). THE REAL TFTS. [Well, that was painful.]

My ride home yesterday was one in which I let the metaphorical clock take over as I was in a bit of a rush to get home so I could get back out to an early dinner. When you let considerations of time impinge on a bike commute, it really has a way of drowning out all other considerations and this really isn't great, either for the ride or for blogging about the ride. What I do remember of this ride is my trying to assume an aerodynamic tuck on the Brompton while riding downhill and I can only assume it was a laughable in appearance. I decided to skip the L Street Cycle Track, thinking it would be faster to ride to 19th, then to Pennsylvania and connect to 15th and Pennsylvania again rather than taking L across town to 11th. Was I right? I don't really know, but if not faster, it was decidedly more unpleasant. I got stuck behind a commuter bus between K and I and in spite of my trying to pick my way through the sidewalk (again, trying to rush makes you a bad person), I felt very much hemmed in and delayed and slowed, to the point where I regretted my decision, threw my bike down, stomped on it a few times, lit it aflame and danced about the burning embers. Or at least I would have done that had I been really shortsighted, impractical, a bit off my rocker and in possession of matches and kindling. I'm not totally sure my bike is flammable and I hope to never find out. I connected to Pennsylvania at 19th, rode in front of the White House, where the construction is even further constricting the path of cyclists and pedestrians, heard a guy who was off his rocker and hopefully not in possession of matches mutter/yell "FUCK THE WORLD" or something along the lines, definitely the word FUCK was involved, rode to 15th, rode down 15th, and then kind of mostly rode through a light that was less the color of a top of a tequila sunrise than the bottom of one (the preschool teacher who taught me colors moonlighted as a bartender), taking Pennsylvania for the rest of the way down the cycle track and lo and behold I beheld some u-turns because that whole $100 fine thing is, at this point, more theoretical than anything else and tickets are only issued to drivers if they are caught and catching them in flagrante (like my bike?) requires actual resources to be dedicated to this task. This is why I propose deputizing DC's bike commuters and this wholly impractical and most likely illegal idea will be the centerpiece of my future unsuccessful campaigns for local political office. Bike commuters truly are the someone elses who can do it. I don't know if it was this night or another night, but I'm pretty sure I used the effort and pacing of another bike commuter to pace myself up Capitol Hill and then down East Capitol, but then I lost him because I am not quick enough to keep pace with other bicyclists on flat surfaces. I am like one of those Spanish climbers who can rocket up the hills, but sucks at time trials, but not in any way related to bicycling but only through our mutual enjoyment of jamon iberico. That was that ride.

The ride this morning was back to the car dealership in Crystal City/Potomac Yards and it was another ride that was ridden in an attempt to prioritize speed over enjoyment. My goal was to bike there, drive home and then bike to work, arriving at work not excessively late. Granted, the time element of this plan was really going to hinge on the car traffic on the drive home much more than it was going to be based on whether I rode "not very fast" or only "somewhat not very fast" on my way there. I took 14th to South Carolina to 11th to M and on M a driver of an SUV that passed me looked at me like I was some kind of leprechaun or unicorn or moderate Republican or some other kind of fictitious creature. Bicyclists aren't that rare, dude. I rode M to where it becomes Maine Avenue and then on Water Street, under the highway flyovers and past the Jefferson Memorial, up and over the bridge and down to the Mount Vernon Trail on the other side. The MVT was littered with cyclists, almost all of them heading in the opposite direction. You can say what you will about MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra), mostly because there were very few of them riding on the trail. Most everyone was MAMIBYFJ (Middle Aged Men in Bright Yellow Fluorescent Jackets), which is a totally different species entirely and one that I find to be genial and hardy and not unlikable. I rode past Gravelly Point then passed the airport and down to Four Mile Run, up the hill to Route 1 and to the dealership, where my car was. At the dealership, one of the valets asked why I was all red in the face and rather than tell him about the gin rickeys I had for breakfast, I explained that I had biked there and he told me he was a cyclist and I thought that was cool and he told his colleague that he has all winter bike gear (unlike my pea coat, I guess?) and he seemed like a nice guy and he told me that he hadn't been riding since doing a century in the summer but that his riding buddies were going out on Sunday and I suggested that he could join them because that's what he seemed to want me to suggest since why would he have told me about it otherwise. I put my bike in the trunk of the car and drove home. Over the course of the drive, I noticed three stand-out vanity plates. One was CHRIST, one was WAYNE, and one was PABLITO.

When I got home, I debated about just taking the Metro to work, but I soon recovered my pep and I rode in, taking the route I normally taken around Lincoln Park and down East Capitol, along which I saw a guy with a really nice Carradice bag and soon I fell into a disorganized group of four bicyclists, three of whom, including me, wanting to go faster than the guy at the front of the group. In the plaza by the Capitol, the group split and we each took our own routes to to the bottom of a hill where the three of us who wanted to go faster than that other guy briefly coalesced but then out group of three dissipated when one guy turned and the other guy got through a light before I could and at that point I was by myself on Pennsylvania until I rode up behind a gentleman in khakis who stayed in front of me until we turned for 15th when I stopped to take this picture:

This is a scaffolding work truck parked in the cycle track. I have no objections to scaffolding work. Some of my best friends of scaffolders (Maybe I mean scofflaws. Either way). And, I'm more than capable of understanding that sometimes work trucks, for the purposes of expediency, need to be parked close to the work itself. That doesn't seem controversial and I think that, generally, people understand that it's a temporary thing. My problem is how cavalierly this was done and with no attempt to even pretend to accommodate the many hundreds of cyclists who use the lane. Would the same "fuck you we're working here get over it," with no sign or cones or anything be done if they were parked one lane over and blocking one of the traffic lanes? I have my doubts about that. All I'm asking is that if they're going to block the lane that they provide some kind of sign/warning/accommodation to the people that they're displacing. Would that be so hard? Or as someone who travels on two wheels, should I just ditch any expectations that anyone cares at all about my safety and well-being? (Don't answer that).

I rode 15th to R and I had gloves off for the rest of the ride and my hands were cold, but the inside of my gloves were a little sweaty and the wetness was enough to dissuade me from putting them back on.

Stopped to 43 seconds to take a video of the passing Vice Presidential motorcade (Rolling Dunder, I believe it's called. I kid!), but I've decided not to post it because it's very boring and there's no real need to share with you how the theoretically second-most-powerful man in the government gets to work. You ever see a motorcycle? You ever see a police car? You ever see a limo? You ever see a bunch of black SUVs? You ever see big gaps in road space between these things initially, but then a tightly packed convoy, no doubt arranged in some kind of strategic, second-most-maximum defensive formation? That's pretty much the deal. They don't stop sidewalk traffic for this, which is nice if you're on the sidewalk.



After this afternoon's "ordeal," I'm going to take tonight off and wedge the post in tomorrow. It was a solid, slightly harried ride home on account of having dinner plans, to which we also biked. Biking home and then biking to dinner is really one of my favorite things. Were I Oprah, I would find a way to lavishly gift this experience to you, but alas, all I can do is suggest it. Holnapra.

Ride In 12/5: How I Met Your Mothra, Part II

So I wrote this post and it got deleted somehow and I tried to restore it through all sorts of technological shenanigans, none of which worked but thanks to the power of social media, some good fortune and the overall wonderfulness of Geoff, whom we should all thank a million times, I've got the original text and I'm posting it below. I was afraid I was going to have to write this again, which would have taken several hours (maybe) and never would've captured the original post's overall okayness.

I started my morning commute with a drive. The car needed a new windshield and I arranged for this to happen at the car dealership, which happens to be in Alexandria. I also arranged for this to happen at 7:30, which necessitated my leaving the house early and maybe even early enough to "beat" rush hour traffic, though I'm not sure how rush hour-y it is at that time or how rush hour-y it is heading away from the city rather than toward it. I put the Brompton in the truck and the drive was uneventful and relatively quick and soon I found myself ready to bike from Crystal City to work and soon thereafter I found myself biking from Crystal City to work.

It's a fairly direct route back to the District from the Mount Vernon Trail and I had many options of bridges that I could take. I elected to take the Key Bridge and ride through Georgetown. The Mount Vernon Trail runs parallel to the Potomac, which is a river and sometimes Reagan National, which is an airport. I was buffeted by the wind for most of the trip to the point where I was pleased with just maintaining forward progress. It doesn't take very much headwind to reduce me from hardcore bike supercommuter to sniveling bikey mess. Hats off to all of you who ride the Mount Vernon Trail daily. You are made of sterner stuff than I (toothpicks bonded by gumdrops).

How to Nod to Another Bike Commuter.
  1. Establish eye contact. No sense nodding if you don't think you're nod will go recognized. 
  2. Get close enough so that the nod can start and finish while you're still in view of the other bike commuter. Don't start nodding from too far away because there's nothing more awkward than post-nod gawking. 
  3. Slightly lift your chin. In one motion, lower your chin as if it were being pulled downward on a string from your breastbone. Do not lower your chin any more than 45 degrees. Keep eye contact. You may smile, do a pursed lip half smile or remain expressionless. There is no preference.
  4. Raise your chin. You don't need to raise it fully, but only back to a position that is comfortable.

Why To Nod to Another Bike Commuter
  1. I'm not really sure. Recognition? Camaraderie born of mutual understanding? Just plain like nodding at stuff?
A good amount of bicyclists heading southbound. Not too many riding north. Only a couple of runners. Zero pogo-ists.

I crossed the Lee Highway intersection of doom and rode over the north side of the Key Bridge. At M, I wathced one of the cyclists in front of totally screw up his jaywheeling. Either he badly misjudged how much room he had or maybe he screwed up clipping into his pedals, but he ended up wobbling into the middle of the intersection and was promptly greeted by the honking of a driver who rightly suggested the bicyclist ought not be there. There's an aphorism that says you shouldn't do the crime, unless you're willing to do the time, but I would also suggest that you shouldn't do the crime unless you're quite sure that you're going to pull it off with a certain degree of aplomb and effectiveness, like in an Oceans 11-style movie, but instead of a big casino heist, you just cross the street when the light tells you not to.

I wanted to ride up the hill at 35th street so badly, but even on a good day, with fresh legs and not carrying anything, I'm pretty sure the Brompton wasn't going to make it. I walked up the hill. No shame in that at all.I guess I could've circumvented this hill with a some forethought, but why start being sensible now?

Yeah, right
On 35th by Volta, I saw a man leave his house to pick up his newspaper from his front porch and he was an older white man with thinning gray hair and he was wearing a green Adidas tracksuit.

On 37th, I saw a man and two children all riding together on a triple-tandem. Wait, does that mean 6? I'm trying to mean 3. Is that a tridem? Anyway, there were 3 of them and the man was the pilot and both children were stokers. First time I've ever seen this.

By the time I reached Tunlaw and New Mexico, I was pretty tired and I let my mind wander it wandered to the #waroncars, something about which I've been a bit tongue-in-cheek with on Twitter lately. I guess I wouldn't say that I like sympathy for solo drivers (on a personal level, I know how much it sucks to be stuck in traffic and I totally get feeling frustrated), but I'm just not sure that we should prioritizing the needs of car driving people over the needs of everyone else. Were I to have my druthers (and I'm not exactly sure what druthers are, so I might have them already. Is that like gout?), I'd think that the group that should get top priority in any of other thinking about transportation resources are people who don't really have choices and need the most help getting around, namely the elderly and infirm. This group doesn't always seem to be flush with money either. Anyway, I think if you built a system that worked for them (a robust and efficient widespread public transportation system, streets that were safe for walking where speeds were slow enough to negotiated by these users, and an ample supply of accessible taxis and reserved handicapped car parking) then you'd probably be building a system that would work for everyone and wouldn't have nearly as many negative externalities as the autocentric status quo. That's my somewhat serious stance on that. For my non-serious stance, I'll stand on one leg and cluck like a chance. For my batting stance, I will attempt to imitate the inimitable Darryl Strawberry.


Ride Home 12/4: I didn't ride in today, but I did go to the ribboncutting. But I took Bikeshare home.

Happy Birthday, MOM! You continue to be one of my favorite readers of the nine people who read this blog. Definitely in top 6.

The L Street Cycle Track officially opened today. Here are sundry pictures and then some snippets from an email I wrote about it, in which I gathered most of my thoughts in a somewhat coherent way for the first time.

Postcard given to drivers to combat CONFUSION

Not to scale. Unless everyone drives SmartCars & cyclists are on HGH. 

You can see the back of Mayor Gray's head (to the left of Bandanna Woman) . In the foreground, the not-yet-fired Alex Baca of WABA. 
Blogging the bloggers
Mayor Gray at the podium 
Sam Zimbabwe of DDOT, flanked by Mayor Gray and Shane Farthing of WABA

Me, giving one of my buttons to the mayor. 
I'll say this about Mayor Vincent Gray. I've seen him speak on a number of occasions and I've never really been impressed. Speeches, they just aren't really his thing. But, this was my first time shaking his hand and standing next to him. The man has a real aura and charisma about him, something I'd say is like that of a star high school quarterback, a kind of physicality that commands a certain kind of respect and he projects a kind of sturdiness and authority that's hard not to admire. But really, it projected like 18 inches and then it's gone. Very weird. But really interesting.

DDOT truck parked in the bike lane as observed by the Official Wife after the ribbon cutting.  Yes, I dragged the Official Wife with me to the ribbon cutting. She's pretty awesome for putting up with me. 
EtP wearing a WABA bandanna. If she looks unhappy, it's not because of the rocking bandanna, but because she just had a bath. 
And now, the email.

1. This is a really important West-East connection in DC's bike network. Currently, there are no bike lanes that run eastbound in DC west of 15th street between the Mall and Q/R Street. That's a huge gap in connectivity and the L Street Cycle Track begins to address this. When the M Street Cycle Track is installed in 2013 (heading in the opposite direction), you could have protected cycle tracks from Georgetown to the Capitol. That's a really big deal. 

2. That the bike lane is protected really, really matters. Typical bike lanes are just white paint and they provide as much protection for the average cyclist as you would expect from a stripe of white paint, i.e. not that much. The flex posts separating the bike lane from car traffic provides a barrier that should make this lane much more attractive to cyclists who are reticent riding in other parts of the city. While not every street needs a protected cycle track, having them in a few key corridors will provide immense benefits and should serve to attract a whole lot more people who don't think of themselves as "cyclists" or "bike commuters," but would still like to use the lane to make a quick trip across town. 

3. It's not that confusing. I've read a lot of stories about how drivers just can't seem to comprehend what this lane is all about. While the design is new to DC, it's hardly difficult to figure out, especially given that there are signs at each "mixing zone" that tell drivers to cross the bike lane to enter the left-turn only lane. In my weeks of riding the cycle track, I can essentially confirm that more than 95% of drivers fully get this and the transition really hasn't been difficult or stressful at all. While the "mixing zones" are different for DC, I think that in a lot of ways, they work really well. They help to avoid "left hooks," where a turning driver is liable to cut across the path of a turning cyclist. By having drivers move to other side of the bicyclists prior to turning, the risk of these dangerous maneuvers is seriously reduced. Occasionally, you'll see a driver make a turn from the center lane, and that's pretty dangerous, but it's not by any extent a common occurrence. 

I think the biggest point I'd like to make about the bike lanes is this: there were already people biking on L Street before the lane went in. Some biked on the left, some biked on the right. The cycle track does two things: it imposes a kind of order on the cyclists, giving them one place and maybe equally importantly, it gives drivers one place to expect cyclists. But it's not just about giving a cyclist a place to be expected; it's about recognizing that people have, are, and will continue to bike for transportation in DC and they deserve a separate and safe place for this. It's not just about adding a cycle track to the street. It's about rethinking what the street could be in order to best accommodate all of its users and to best reflect the reality (not the aspiration, but the actual, present-day reality) that people use bikes to get around. 

I've got a lot more to say about L Street and why it really matters, but there's plenty more blog posts in which we can get to that. Anyway, it was a good morning and it was great seeing so many of you there to support the lane. Thank you DDOT and thank you WABA. If you work for another organization that also is a four letter acronym, I thank you too.

On my ride home, I took CaBi. My key was busted (demagnetized AGAIN!) and I had to call customer support. They disabled the key and gave me a "gift certificate" to pay for a one day pass so I could use the bike while I wait for my new key. This is much better than the old way of doing things, where they reimbursed for usage fees. Anyway, I won't be using Bikeshare again this week, so it's not a big deal. JUst a little annoying because the kiosk touchscreen was giving me some problems. Yes, I'm one of those people.

Mass to 23rd to L and a really nice ride in the cycle track. No car problems, plenty of other cyclists around and a nice, warm night for riding. The dock at 12th and L gave me a great place to reset the clock since it's about halfway home. They added a new flex post (I'm trying to adopt the WashCycle convention on bollards and flex posts because he's like 36 spots more local bike bloggerly significant than I am) to prevent drivers from continuing straight from the hotel loading zone and to shortcut the mixing zone. That's what this is:
A good idea
How far is from downtown to Takoma? About 5 miles.

Good luck finding another sign to Takoma between this sign and actually arriving in Takoma. Signs are great, but having lots of them is better than having only one of them.

11th Street to Pennsylvania (a glorious night for it) and then past the Capitol.

Congress: now with less Establishment Clause and more Santa Claus. 
On East Capitol I was passed on the right by a guy on a road bike. I totally could have cut him off and ran him into the back of a parked car, but luckily, I'm not just a ball of resentful bike id and have some control of my actions and knew that wasn't a good thing to do. I moved out of the bike lane to allow him to ride in the lane on keep passing me on the right. And then I chased him, moving my Bikeshare bike as fast as it could go. I almost kept up, but I did not keep up. I wanted his comeuppance to be swift, but I was not swift enough to deliver it. Oh well.

I docked at 15th and Independence, responded to an email to the Official Wife about the prospect of Ambassador Anna Wintour, bought some Devils Backbone Vienna Lager at the liquor store with the bullet proof glass and walked three blocks home.