Look around, leaves are brown

I am done with winter. Winter, however, is not quite done with us. It's been cold and it's been snowy and now the ice lingers. I'd tell you how disappointed I am in DC's feeble (nonexistent?) plan to clear the bike lanes, but expressing my disappointment would merely serve to blunt my anger. It's embarrassing, lazy and wrong. This sums it up.

Many sturdier souls have kept about their bike routines for the past few days, but I've cut back. I took Bikeshare back and forth from the Metro for the past two days and might do so again tomorrow. It's funny how "not biking" doesn't really mean "not biking."

The trips have varied in their level of harrowingness. Probably the worst was riding along Massachusetts Avenue last night from Stanton Park to Lincoln Park. A Bikeshare bike can handle about an inch of slush and while the tires are wide and the bike is slow and cumbersome, it still proved fishy on the icy bits. I'm by no means the most agile or balance-y person in the world, but I'm also not a stranger to my bike wheels finding themselves askance either. I didn't fall down. I did have to drop my foot a time or two and at one intersection, where the snow and ice formed a little mound, I stopped entirely and waited for the green light to elapse and for the car traffic to get through and I pushed myself across the intersection as the yellow light turned to red. Scofflaw.

You face three options vis-a-vis bike lanes after you've made the decision to ride in the crummy weather aftermath. You can ride entirely within them, snow and ice be damned, and hope that in so doing, you don't fall. You can ride entirely outside of them, taking the lane and telling drivers to sod off. Or you can weave in and out, using them when you can and abandoning them when you must. I didn't much feel like attempting either of the first two approaches (yes, I know I'm perfectly well within my rights to take the lane, But in order to do so, you really need to commit and I am just not that committed)  and while I wanted to try the third, I wasn't traveling nearly fast enough relative to the speed of the cars next to me, to effectively weave in and out. I rode and then when I had to leave the bike lane, I would stop, wait for drivers to pass, then ride behind them until the next place I could re-enter the bike lane. It was a compromise.

Compromise. Remove 37 parking spaces to add a bike lane? How about a compromise? How about removing 10?  How about sharrows? What if, instead of sharrows, we compromise and just add a sign that says "Bike Route." Ok, what about a compromise where we put up one of those bike route signs on some side streets? How about, really, on those side streets we don't actually put up the bike route signs, but we just put some different colored lines on the local bike map. Actually, wouldn't it be better if bicyclists just stuck to the trails anyway? Well, I mean, unless people are walking on them and then a good compromise might be for cyclists to ride on a different trail. And that trail, it's not plowed, so maybe a good compromise would be for bicyclists to wait for spring, when it's nicer. You know, for their own safety. It's really about their safety. And if you're not willing to compromise for your own safety, well, you're being unreasonable.

I fell off my bike last week and I've still got some soreness on my left side. It's nothing dire, but it's probably for the best that the cold and ice are proving effective deterrents to my riding my regular route to work. I think I'll be back in action at the beginning of next week. Hooray action. Be safe in the snow.


  1. Falling is no fun. After about ten years of "I pretty much ride in weather" statements at work, I have to remind myself that I have nothing to prove to any of those folks, or to myself. Next week I am already planning to use Metro several days if only to prove I can do it (that's sort of a joke). Well and to give my back a rest - I suspect I'll need some of that if the weather predictions are accurate.

  2. Hope you feel better soon.

    After a several years of being an all-weather biker in Boston, I thought I could make my commute via CaBi on a snowy day in December. Not so. I went from upright to my whole body sore and splayed out on the ground -- too quick for my brain to even realize what was happening, with none of that slow-mo moment that usually happens in a crash. Luckily this all happened on a pedestrian plaza 20 feet from the CaBi dock, not on the street. You can bet that bike went back to the dock, pronto.

    This all to say: ice and CaBi don't mix.