Year Prudence 2015

It's year-end list time and I've decided to participate. Below I present you the very scientific findings of my own subjective selection of my favorite Gear Prudence columns in 2015 and the reasons why I think they are worthy of such an honor. I know this will not be without controversy. I know that many of the 9 of you who read Gear Prudence will have developed your own strong opinions and based the copious amount of already published Gear Prudence ranking lists out there, it's likely that you and I will have some disagreements. In an attempt to persuade you, I'll also offer justifications for choosing how I did. But before we get deeper into this exercise of self-congratulation, I'd like to also congratulate myself for having the generosity in spirit to muster the gratitude to thank all of you for your wonderful questions and for reading and sharing the column. The other difference between an advice columnist and the crazy guy mumbling to himself on the back of a bus is having a platform and that platform wouldn't be possible without the very many very good folks at the Washington City Paper. Long story short- everyone's great. You're all my heroes. Thank you for reading. Thank you for everything. Now let's get back to the self-promotion.

Gear Prudence: Why is there barbecue sauce on my drivetrain? 

Justification: This was a tough one. I was going to select the question about filtering and 'shoaling' cars, but in the end, this 'saucy' conundrum won out. I hope they finally caught the guy. And hope you had enough Simple Green and/or pulled pork!

Gear Prudence: I'm really into antiquing. What kind of bike should I buy?

Justification: Another close one. This beat out this question about improving the behavior of other cyclists and for obvious reasons: dedicated antiquing bikes are a huge force in the market now (over $12 billion sold this year) and I would have been remiss had I left this one unanswered.

Gear Prudence: I biked to Chipotle, but now I don't know what to get. Can you help? I'm third in line. Ok, now I'm second. Oh shit, she's about to ask me what kinds of beans I want. Hurry! 

Justification: Classic #waroncarnitas stuff with this one. But here's the thing that a lot of people don't know about bike advice columns: they come out once a week and it's really not the best way to seek input on fast casual dining choices in real time. If you're planning on asking a question like when you should consider a bike abandoned, that's a good use for a weekly bike advice column. Or if you're planning on going to Chipotle the next week. But if you're already in line? Come on man.

Gear Prudence: Why was I arrested for biking without pants?

Justification: I get a lot of questions about bicycling 'gear' and a lot of questions about the law, so it was nice to get one that took on both the issue of pants and the issue of getting arrested. I was pretty surprised on the comments on this one- way better than the comments on becoming a consistent bike commuter- but you guys are a passionate group of readers and with a surprising amount of knowledge on body paint, so I appreciate your weighing in.

Gear Prudence: Are you coming up for grandma's birthday party?

Justification: Thanks Mom! This might have just been a text that I got and not an 'official' Gear Prudence question, but I think the advice that I gave was solid (not until Grandma pays me back for covering her baccarat losses) and way better than the advice on training for a century ride.

Gear Prudence: Seriously, what the fuck is with this barbecue sauce all over my bike? It's just smeared all over it. The saddle. The top tube. The handlebars. Everywhere. This is so gross and weird. What sicko is doing this? And why? 

Justification: I don't generally like to repeat questions, but I thought the readers would really benefit from tackling this pretty common concern. I guess they didn't catch the guy after all. Maybe this question about accepting that bike commuting isn't for you could also be applicable.

Gear Prudence: How do I get a unicycle lane installed in front of my house?

Justification: A process question. Process questions tend to be more technical than questions about bike raging boyfriends and a lot of everyday bicyclists are looking for some keen insight into how to get things done. and how to get the local government to take their needs into account. This unicyclist was no different. As for the likelihood of restricted a lane just to unicycles, I don't know, but if anything is going to do it, it's following my advice surreptitiously scratching out one of the wheels from the painted bicycle symbol in the bike lane.

Gear Prudence: 6 X 7 =?

Justification: This was the week that a 5th grader sent me his summer math homework. A bit of a layup (unlike this pair of questions about taking bikes abroad and making friends during group rides), but I was sort of busy that weekend and thought we could all benefit from a refresher of our seven times table. Common core, am I right? Also, why don't you just use a calculator? There's not always going to be a bike advice columnist around to bail you out!

Gear Prudence: My girlfriend keeps putting the stickers that she's peeled from bananas on my bike. Will this make me faster?

Justification: We've all been there and we've all heard the rumors: banana stickers just make bikes go faster. I'd like to once again thank the engineers at Lockheed Martin for helping with the wind tunnel tests. Way more useful than advice about taking the lane.

Gear Prudence: Where can I buy a helmet for my cockateel?
Justification: Nothing is quite so controversial in the bike world as helmet questions (not even questions about matching outfits) and this buzz around this question was pretty intense. Both sides of the cockateel helmet debate came out in force, but ultimately I think it was a pretty productive discussion on the pros and cons of birds wearing helmets while cycling. And I heard from the woman who runs the Etsy shop I recommended that business is booming.

Gear Prudence: Don't you think this joke is played out?

Justification: Nope. Neither was this question about overreacting after getting splashed.

Gear Prudence: A mall Santa stole my bike. Is this covered by insurance?

Justification: I was also a bit shocked to learn that most renter's insurance policies specify that any bike pilfered by a mall Santa is not covered. Something about Dodd Frank. I don't know- just one of those things, sort of like recovering from bike burnout. If you do end up following my advice and dressing up as mall elf in an elaborate undercover sting operations, please remember to email me the pics!

So, that it's it. That's the year in Gear Prudence. If you'd like to see your very real question answered and published, email it to gearprudence@washcp.com. Once again, thanks again for all of the support and I'll see you in 2016.


Rides 12/23: well done

It appears, based on the tweets of some folks and as a result of the effort of some more folks, the situation from yesterday on the 15th Street Cycletrack has been resolved and for that I'm grateful. I hope that it can be maintained open and accessible throughout construction.

Not too much else to say about today other than it rained. Rained a lot and I got a lot of rain on me. Tried to soak it all up to keep the rest of you dry, but rain doesn't work that way. Also, it's my last bike commute of 2015. Also, I stopped for tacos on the way home. Also, I saw Mike at the taqueria and it's nice that DC is a small place where you run into people. It's like living in a sitcom.

Foggy Bottom, though where I biked this afternoon, is a funny place. It's prime real estate and close to things, but it feels remarkably disconnected and this is likely in no small part to the terribleness of some overbuilt roads, like Virginia Avenue and E Street. Large federal and federal-ish buildings probably don't help either. The whole area between 23rd to 17th south of K and north of Constitution feels deader than it needs to be and it'd be nice if the powers of capitalism and central planning conspired to make it better. Sort of shocks me that cities aren't more aggressive about rolling back overbuilt roads [spoiler alert: the Feds aren't going to reopen E Street by the White House- it's time to move on] and trying once again maximize the productivity of those places, but I guess it costs money to make money and there's not money to afford to spend. Or maybe it's just that the status quo is too strong. I don't know. I don't know if it's different anywhere else, places where the forces of Federalia are less potent, and they're more capable of recapturing overbuilt places and for their sake I hope the are, but I suspect that we're all still in thrall to the primary narrative of the last 50 years- namely getting people in cars back to the suburbs where they live.

Like I alluded to before, I'm off work until the New Year. If I ride my bike anywhere interesting, maybe I'll write it up. Otherwise, TFTS is once again fallow. And since I'm going back to school for another semester, it'll likely remain fallow for a few months more after that. Lots of fallowness around here, barely any planting. But for now, peace out 2015. You were a year.


Rides 12/21 and No Rides 12/22: bullet points would be better

I guess I forgot to write this yesterday. I did, however, watch The Stranger, the Orson Welles noir film about a Nazi hiding in disguise in a small Connecticut town in order to escape prosecution for war crimes. To the best of my recollection, no bicycles were featured in this film.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to disambiguate one morning commute from the next. "Oh, the gray day? When it was kind of rainy? And the three cups of coffee you had before leaving the house failed to do anything but causes the faintest enough flickering in your brain to get you dressed and on the bike?" Yeah. I guess it's just that time of year. I haven't missed the cold, but at least the cold has a jarring effect that snaps you into a sense of greater clarity. The dull gray haze doesn't.

I don't want to dwell on this last part because it's negative and I don't like to be a negative person. "DON'T BE A NEGATIVE PERSON!" I affirm to myself in the mirror each day, mostly missing the point of daily positive affirmations, but it's not taking and so I'll be negative for a little because there's really no positive way to spin the dismal state of thinking about pedestrians and cyclists in DC by those who have the power to make their lives better or worse and almost always invariably choose worse.

The former HQ of the Washington Post, a local newspaper, are being demolished and since this building sits along the 15th Street Cycletrack, the premier north-south bike route in the city, the construction is causing something of a disruption, but only indirectly to bicyclists. The construction crew has fenced off the sidewalk and very helpfully placed signs telling pedestrians that they should cross the street. Pedestrians are, however, not morons and don't blindly follow stupid signs and instead walk in the cycletrack. I don't blame them for this at all, since it's exactly what I'd do. However, it creates a situation in which pedestrians and cyclists are mingling in the cycletrack and there's not even any attempt by those in charge to recognize that this is a suboptimal organization and that perhaps instead the parking lane could, with the use of space age orange cone technology, be converted into additional space for cyclists so as to mitigate the conflict. Because 1) this makes sense and 2) this is what the law says is supposed to happen. But nope.

So here are a few unorganized thoughts on this:

1. This was very predictable.

2. That this was predictable is sad.

3. Inviting pedestrians to walk in the cycletrack shows little regard for people on foot or on bicycle.

4. Worse yet, not even considering WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN is a result of closing the sidewalk demonstrates a lack of imagination so stunning that it borders on incompetence.

5. Worse yet, knowing full well exactly what would happen and proceeding with it anyway, demonstrates apathy bordering on contempt.

6. Dignity. People have dignity. And this doesn't go away when they don't travel by car. The dignity belongs to the person and not the car. And yet, here we are. This is not how you treat people you respect.

7. It's hard to see how this arrangement is compatible with a Vision Zero regime.

8. This is the middle of downtown, a highly foot trafficked area. This is the premier cycling route in DC. That this closure might cause a problem shouldn't have snuck up on anyone.

9. It's highly likely that no one will die from this. It's also highly likely that no one will be grievously injured. Because bikes aren't cars and bicyclists successfully (or at least no unsuccessfully) share paths and other narrow spaces with all manner of walker, runner, jogger, in-line skater all over the DC region with little to no incident.

10. That no one will die doesn't mean this is a good arrangement.

11. I don't know what we're supposed to do to unwind the culture that enables this. There's already a law that says don't do this. Culture > law. Laws are easy to change. Culture not so much.

12. Most people won't think that this is a big deal. Construction has to happen, sidewalks need to close. People are sometimes inconvenienced. Life goes on. So bikes and pedestrians have to share, so what?

13. See #11.

So, that's that.

Today I didn't go to work, but I did bike and walk around a little. Biked down to SW and then walked around and eventually up L'Enfant Plaza and across the Mall and then I took the Circulator back to Union Station (I have thoughts on this too, but I'll spare you- for now) and then biked home from Union Station. As someone who really loves to walk (more than biking, even), Bikeshare really enables me some excellent walking trips with quick bike rides at the start and end of each walking jaunt. Thanks Bikeshare.


Rides 12/16, 12/17 and 12/18: whoops

It's not that I meant not to write for the past few days, but it's just that I didn't, mostly on account of some post-work things, some of which involved bicycling. So, let's just get back into the swing of things and see if I recall anything that passes the VERY HIGH BAR of importance required to make it into these (virtual) pages.

[theme from Sanford and Son plays as I'm unable to think of anything]

Ok, anyway. Yeah, so, uh, the other night, I went to Crystal City after work. I didn't go there in search of crystals because unless Crystal is the name of a defense contractor, they don't really have those there. To get there, I rode Bikeshare, first from work into Rosslyn and then Rosslyn along the Mount Vernon Trail. [Aside, I took Bikeshare from work because I took the Metro to work in the morning. That absolves me from having to write about that commute, since here on DC's 37th best bike blog, we stick to our core mission, which is obscuring the mundanities of bike commuting through long parenthetical asides and, sometimes, "jokes."] Let's talk about how riding a Bikeshare bike with its piddly blinking light in the dark from Rosslyn to Crystal City on the Mount Vernon trail is a really terrible idea and here's why: because the light is too dim to light the way on the dark trail and PERHAPS EVEN WORSE, the headlights of the cars on the GWP are utterly blinding. That I didn't crash is a testament to either my cycling process or the fact that all bikeshare bikes are secretly operated by remote control by specialists in an underground bunker. I think we all know which one is true and that's why I sent a fruit basket of gratitude to that secret bunker this morning. Also, the complete inability to see anything in front of me had me really worried that I would crash into someone walking or biking without lights, but luckily, that wasn't the case. Anyway, don't do what I did.

BUT DO THIS, if you can, which is to attend a Bike Hack Night, which was the reason I was in Crystal City at all. Bike Hack Night united my two great loves: bicycling and free pizza. But its putative purpose is to bring to bring together coders and data analyst types and people who made good decisions in college about what to study and allow them a forum to demonstrate their amazing talents in a friendly, mutually interested atmosphere. The agenda was thus (and the results thus) and while I could only stay for the first two presentations, I had a great time and it was well worth the harrowing bike ride.  Anyway, it's amazing to see what smart, committed people can do with data and it seems like a really special community and longtime friend of the blog, Michael, is doing a really great job pulling it together. I think what impressed me the most is that maybe half the room (of more than 100 people) raised their hand when asked if they were 'bike nerds'- meaning that the draw of this kind of event isn't for hardcore cyclists. It's for smart, interested people who happen to bike (or care about bicycling) and if to any extent, advocates can harness that enthusiasm, we'd be in quite a good place.

After the Bike Hack night, I biked back up the MVT over the 14th Street Bridge and then up 15th to Farragut Square and then after another very exciting social event, I biked home via eventually Pennsylvania Avenue.

It rained yesterday morning. Not much to say about that. Warm enough that it wasn't sleet, so no complaints for mid December.

YESTERDAY EVENING WAS THE WABA HOLIDAY PARTY and presumably you were there because it was the social event of the year, if not the millennium. It had it all: bike people, tacos, a brief presentation on strategic goals, poster board, etc. Really, the whole thing was lit. I met some new people and saw a bunch of known people and had the chance to corner some WABA staff and berate them about their lack of commitment to my pet issue (pogo ban), as one is supposed to do at the nonprofit holiday party, and all in all, had a great time. Afterwards, it was the ride home, again down past the White House and then over Pennsylvania and the usual way home. I'm also just going to jump ahead real quick and tell you that tonight's ride home was also that. Why was it that? Because that's the way to get home.

This morning was cold. I don't much care for it. I do care for coffee, which I stopped for at the Friday Coffee Club, and then afterwards, it was G Street and Virginia and eventually up Wisco. I was thinking a lot about cars during this trip, as I often do, since cars are very much a part of my bike commute. I'm sure there've been anthropologies of driving culture and if I took a moment to google, I could give you an example, but I'm just going to power through and remain ignorant. I can't say that I feel bad for drivers (because I really don't) but I do feel some feeling towards them that's tinged with melancholy. Or maybe that's just me being afraid of getting run over. I don't know. In spite of my best efforts, I contain multitudes.

Tip: when grocery shopping by bike, use your bike bag as your grocery cart. You do not want to end up with too much groceries relative to your ability to get them home. My messenger bag can fit a surprising amount of wine.

ONE LAST THING: the Hains Point 100 is on Sunday. You should come if you can. It's a great fundraiser and Megan is a hero. I can barely ride one lap of HP and she does 100 miles. It's really impressive. So, show up and/or throw her some scratch.

Some pictures of stuff:

I've taken to wearing rubber rain boots to bike in the rain. They work.

Someone decided this was good enough. Is it?

There is no Thursday Night Coffee Club

more like road jerk ahead, am I right

EtP says come to the Hains Point 100. 


Rides 12/15: insignificance

I have some rules for bike commuting and they're mostly unwritten, but I'll contravene that to share one of them here. I don't pass someone unless it's clear that I'm going to remain well in front of them and that normally means make it through at least the next light. Why? I don't know- to escape awkwardness maybe? the weird awkward feeling of having just pulled round someone only to stop right in front of them a block down the road? Maybe it's that. That sounds plausible. Anyway, as a result of this, I find myself riding behind a lot of people and at a pace I wouldn't normally ride and I could either look at this as frustrating or look at it as a joy and I choose the latter because who wants to be frustrated by a bike commuter. When you ride at a speed you wouldn't normally ride, either too fast or too slow, it's like riding someone else's commute. It's like a vacation. Or something. I recommend it.

Got asked about what bike my bike was at 15th and Penn and I said "it's an Ogre" and the guy said "cool." He might've even said that he liked my bike and I'm sure I said thanks, if he said that. Before this, a few blocks before, I passed a car that had been pushed by a law enforcement officer into the middle of the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack. He didn't push it as part of an ill-conceived world's strongest man tryout, but because the car had broken down and everyone knows that what you down with a broken-down car is shove it into a cycletrack because, as everyone knows, the only thing bicyclists like more than the moving cars that imperil them is the stationary cars that impede them.

There's a document somewhere that says the overbuilt part of Pennsylvania Avenue on the west side of the White House will maybe get a road diet and a cycletrack and this is, hopefully, real. I think it is, because I've read about it on the internet and almost everything you read on the internet is real, per this all caps AOL email forward I got once. Wake up sheeple.

Fairly standard ride home. A few "new" bike commuter types (I don't know if they're really new, but they're enthusiastic and the way you can tell a longtime bike commuter from a new one is the utter lack of enthusiasm or superfluous effort) and some of them think it's fun to race other bike commuters, including me, and I was having none of it, mostly because I'm a humorless prig whose whole goal in life is not to be fucked with during his ride home. No, really, that's about it. This is the sum total of my ambition. Anyway, new folks need to get faster if they're going to challenge old folks to commute races. Also, consider having some guile. It helps.

At the grocery store, I made a tpyo on the keypad and I meant to type in 4048 for limes (I bought 4 for a quarter each) and instead entered 4049 for cantaloupes (4 cantaloupes amounted to 13 some odd dollars) and basically my advice is to not make this mistake. I don't know who assigns the produce codes (UN? Illuminati?) and through what means they assign these numbers, but the juxtaposition of the big and little fruits (limes and cantaloupes) do make for a proper justification for being thorough in ensuring correct keypading.

It was Tuesday, but it felt like a Friday. It wasn't a Friday.


Rides 12/14: tutto bene

A washout on the way home, except nothing was neither washed, not put out, since I rode through it because that's just what happens when you commute by bike and it rains. All things considered, it wasn't a bad rain, since it was warm (much too warm for mid-December) and considering that there have been Decembers with snow, this was much preferable.

I think I forgot to mention the other night I saw a car with the license plate BACON. Sorry for the oversight. Was on a Mercedes SUV. Hope it belonged to a defense contractor because pork. Probably just belonged to a huge fan of empiricism. Anyway, tonight I saw a license plate MARY TB and I thought 'why would you honor Tuberculosis Mary' with your car and then I remembered it was Typhoid Mary and then I still didn't really get what that license plate was all about, vector or not.

This morning was balmy and I wore clothes that were too warm for the temperature, but I didn't care, because I'm not just going to surrender to the reality of a 60 degree December morning. I will fight it and fight it through overdressing and sweating through the overdressing. A man has to have a code.

I always want to shop for groceries on the ride into work (I just have more wherewithal in the morning), but I never do since it'd be a misappropriation of the office refrigerator. Also, allegedly, it's important to get to work "on time" and stopping and shopping seems to counter that some. Are there bike commuters that run errands pre-work and then schlep that stuff to the office? Are you one of those people?

For the record, I wear a cycling cap. Pretty much everyday.

Let's talk about the rain again. It wasn't heavy, but it was steady, but not driving. Even the rain doesn't drive there days. There was no shortage of bike commuters, though not as many with fenders as my idealized version of DC bike commuting would entail. Should there be a mandatory fender law? Well, no, that seems draconian. But it'd be nice if more people used fenders since they are practical in a few small ways, but the most important of those ways, to me at least, is to stop water from splashing the cyclist behind you, who is, sometimes, me. Anyway, it's winter now (sort of), so consider fenders. Please?

Rain Cat 6 up Capitol Hill. Love you CapHill Type-A weirdos. Love that we have a proving ground.


Rides 12/11: laura and petrarch

For a couple of henceforth unelaborated reasons, I've been struggling with socialability for the last couple of months, but Friday Coffee Club (which is basically the gathering of juggalos sans juggalos plus bike people plus coffee) remains a fixture of my weekly calendar (as it has for the past, gosh, three (four?) years) and today, like each Friday marked another get together at the MESCO. The weather was warm, but the group divided into factions, an interior and an exterior group, and I stuck with the interior group. The coffee and chatting were, I assume, of the same high quality in both places. Of note, however, is the new advertisement postcard produced by the Swing's featuring many of the bikes that weekly gather in front.

Bikes welcome
I think this is great and for reasons exceeding simple vanity (my bike is in the picture and is now famous). I've always been a bit worried to that coffee shop found us to be a bit of a nuisance (us being, sometimes, more than two dozen cyclists crowded around tiny cafe tables), but I guess that's not a concern at all. Also, it's nice to see a local shop, perhaps unwittingly, get on board with the whole 'bikes mean business' thing. A lot of pushback on bike infrastructure comes from businesses worried about the the impact of losing street parking since there's an assumption that if drivers can't park right out in front, they won't shop and an even (in my opinion, more toxic) assumption that most people who frequent those shops arrive by car and rely on that parking. By putting bikes on the postcard, it's a repudiation of this idea and a recognition that this notion is just purely fallacious. Because for urban coffee shop a block from the White House (just blocks from the White House!) and a few blocks further from the World Bank and IMF and in the midst of the whole host of other office buildings and their office workers in the middle of downtown DC, OF COURSE their business isn't coming from people driving into town and parking right in front, so there's really worry about embracing people biking to the shop. It's just how people get there. Now, I'm sure I'm overthinking this- they probably just liked the picture because it's a nice picture and because it shows the name of the shop, but still, it's something. Anyway, thanks Swing's. It's nice to visit you. 

G Street, Virginia Avenue, K Street, Wisconsin, Massachusetts. Zero troubles or at least zero that I can remember. 

On the way home, I saw a road sign that had been struck by a car or bus or something much larger and more forceful than a person on the bike. The sign was knocked down to about a 60 degree angle and it was twisted. The sign had a picture of a bike on it and words underneath that said 'Yield to Peds.' Yeah, I hardly think this is the biggest issue here. 

Made the mistake/great decision to watch the new Danny MacAskill video before leaving work and while I wasn't so emboldened as to ride off rooftops and do backflips into the ocean, I did, quite radly, zip and zag on and off curbs as I saw fit along Mass Avenue. It was remarkably unrad, but I'm not going to let objective self-criticism spoil my deluded sense of self. 

People keep accidentally parking in bike lanes. Fire up the education campaign about what "No parking or standing" means. Just need a little more education, I bet. Just a little more. 

Sometimes a thing I think about is the "theory of traffic," which is to say where do people think traffic comes from. Like, if you asked people to explain why there's traffic and then asked some follow up questions about why the traffic exists at particular times and why not at other times and what, if anything, could be done about it, I have no idea, what they would say. To me, it seems quite obvious, but I have no idea what the average DC driver thinks. I would think that if pressed they would agree with me about what causes traffic (cars), but in my less charitable moments, I can't help but suspect that drivers think that there's some guy on a bike or some distracted walker not in front of his car (since what's in front of his car is another car) and maybe not quite in front of that next guy's car (because that's another car) but somewhere out there in front of somebody's car that is the cause of all the delays and if that bicyclist/distracted walker wasn't there, it'd all be going just fine. 

I was lucky enough to run into the running MG on the way home. This is her, leaping. 

She's got mad hops.

It was ungodly warm for December 11. I think I forgot to mention that.


Ride 12/10: Astounding medical breakthroughs

I've been finding it increasingly difficult to get out of the bed in the morning (why did I buy that velcro duvet?) and accordingly, I'm been sluggish in leaving the house and the first mile of the bike commute is a quiet mile mostly spent listening to the things my bike chain has to say (fix me) and wondering when my legs and the rest of me are planning on getting interested in the fact that we're all collectively no longer in bed, dreaming about the things we could be doing if we weren't biking to work, such as biking somewhere else. The grayness of the morning makes the whole affair a bit subdued and that it's not bracingly cold doesn't little to snap me from the low-level reverie. Sometimes I'm shaken into alertness by an inattentive driver, but most days, like this morning, it's all very mellow, if not catatonic. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I like to imagine an alternate version of the National Mall when the roads aren't mostly set aside for parking and also where maybe the old Tourmobile kiosks are turned into breakfast taco stands. I don't think either of these events are forthcoming, but maybe someday fuel scarcity or the whims of of an evil despot will turn the Mall into a place that's less concerned about vehicle storage, like a kind of linear Walmart parking lot. Would the spots really be missed? Would anyone really notice? 

I will spare you my 12,000 words on the western end of the Mall by the Lincoln. Maybe I should write a newsletter. PS- I am not a crank. (fun aside: I emailed someone at NPS today about the plan to put parking meters on the Mall. The 9 of you reading will be the first to hear about when I know more.) 

I decided to take New Mexico Avenue home and then ride through Glover Park, which has recently been besharrowed (to little ill effect) and then down into Georgetown and over to a grocery store where I bought some things and then it was the L Street cycletrack across town to 11th street. There are shitshows and there are disasters and then there are shitsasters (when after one shitshow and one disaster fall in love and get married...) and then there's 11th Street, which is a true hot mess on the night of games at the Verizon Center (on 7th). The street has bike lanes, but you wouldn't know unless you checked under the commuter buses and more than once (twice) I had to yell some combination of 'hey' and 'no' to alert drivers to not hit me with their cars when casually pulling out of parking spaces. It's just bad news and it's really unfortunate. I've been bike commuting in the city for a long enough time and I've developed a bit of too much comfort in shitsasters, but it's remarkably unfair to have a street like this and expect normal people to be ok bicycling on it. They don't deserve that. People have dignity and that doesn't go away when they get on a bicycle. 


Rides 12/9: this again again

Cold, but not winter cold. Sunglasses, but it was cloudy. December befuddles, but I'll take a befuddling December over a wintry one. How does this affect my seasonal mirth and more importantly, my atonal mumble singing of your favorite holiday tunes during my bike commute? Little. It affects it very little. The atonal mumble singing continues apace and this is regardless of whether there's anyone around and I'd just like to give a shout out to my fellow bike commuters for their remarkable chill. Not once has anyone freaked out to an atonal mumble sung line of Frosty and for that I'm grateful.

Mall route and I picked up behind another rider and more or less rode in his wake up to K Street, but he dropped off and then it was slow going up Wisco for the rest of the way. A couple of months ago, DDOT decided to stripe some very narrow lanes on Book Hill, where there used to be no stripes before. From the perspective of a northbound bicyclist, I can tell you that this decision has somewhat worked against my interests since the drivers used to pretend that there was only one very wide lane and leave me most of the right side of the road. Now with two, even though they're narrow, they occupy more space and that means there's less room for me. I mean, there's the same amount of room, but I'm more likely to have a driver in front of me or behind me and that changes the dynamic somewhat.

I bit further up the road a Prius driver with an NRA sticker (seriously) nearly made it such that the side of his car ended into my haunch. I wondered what he would say about my right to stand my ground in that situation. I declined to inquire.

Ride home was mostly uneventful down Massachusetts and 21st and across town on L. There was some car traffic but there's always some car traffic. Turns out that when a lot of people want to drive a lot of cars somewhere it doesn't really work out well. I hate car traffic. I might hate car traffic more than the average driver. Why else do you think I bike everywhere?

Saw this guy. If that's not the coolest bike in DC, I don't know what is.

I also saw Justin. When I saw him, he was being honked at. Justin is a noted bike jerk and you can tell this because on the childseat of the longtail he uses to transport his adorable kid, there's a pinwheel and anyone who thinks to decorate his child portaging bike in such a way must be some kind of jerk deserving a punitive honk when, to my (admittedly biased, but not totally unobjective) eye, all he was doing was riding in the bike lane. Oh well.


Rides 12/8: this again

Graphomania must have been a harder disease in old testament times because who wants to spend that much time chiseling stone tablets and if in old testament times there were bike bloggers (and there weren't since the flood rusted all the chains of the once replete fleet of Eden's bikeshare system [which only had 1 bike and even then with only two people was gender imbalanced]) then those bike bloggers, after they biked about through old testament-y places, would've been considerably slowed in their efforts to record the commutes due to the overall unwieldiness of chisels, to say nothing of the difficulty of sharing the words with others because how many people would even be able to see your stone tablets anyway? So, it's much better now for graphomaniacs and bike bloggers and presumably those that enjoy reading the words of bike bloggers, as pointless as they may be. Hiatus over.

I didn't bike to work this morning. At least not the whole way. I took The Bikeshare (gonna start calling it The Bikeshare from now on, like The Ohio State University #cbuscool #lifeincbus) from Lincoln Park to Union Station, which at one point was and maybe still is the most popular The Bikeshare route. I only took that route because the two closer stations were empty and I didn't want to walk east to get a bike to go west even though the station by RFK might have been closer, but I shuffled the few extra blocks to the park and picked up a The Bikeshare bike to ride up Massachusetts and around Stanton Park and down Massachusetts to the the The Bikeshare dock on the side of the train station. Last night I was at the train station attending a meeting about the train station renovation (because this is how I spend my free time) and when I got out and went to the The Bikeshare station, I was foiled by the long slow blink orange blink when the The Bikeshare docks judges your worthiness, Willy Wonka-style, as assesses whether you deserve to undock a The Bikeshare bike. And when that light went from blinking orange to angry red, I felt like Veruca Salt, but not like the awesome rock band of the same name, though I was hardly the seether, since these things happen. And I wasn't the only one that these things happened to at the The Bikeshare station and a woman also got a blinky orange-angry red message on the next bike up the line and so we both worked our way down the station to the next few bikes and I tried again and another red and then she tried a different one and it didn't work for her either and we commiserated over out situation as we worked out way down to the last three available bikes before one worked for me and I left and wished her good luck and I think it all turned out ok for her because when I looked over my shoulder a bike was gone and so was she but MAYBE she was a ghost and this is soooo spooky. Or maybe she just rode up the other way once the The Bikeshare bike finally chose to smile upon her and deem her worthy.

This morning there was no such trouble as the The Bikeshare bike chose me without incident and I docked without incident and was able to wrest another The Bikeshare bike on the other side of my metro trip, which I rode uneventfully to my final destination.

At the end of the day, it was another The Bikeshare ride down Massachusetts Avenue to Garfield and over into AdMo. Drivers sure don't seem to mind idling in bike lanes. Or if they mind it, they are quite good at suppressing their botherment. I'm not sure I've ever idled in a bike lane and I can't say that I see much allure in it. I have some peculiarities related that manifest themselves in curious ways, like finding it difficult to wear a watch while sitting down (it's a balance thing) and I think I would find it difficult to keep a car astride white lines that are too narrow to border it. It would seem very 'off.' Also, I wouldn't idle in a bike lane BECAUSE I'M NOT A HUGE FUCKING ASSHOLE. I mean, but the other thing too.

 I went into BicycleSpace and perused a bit and bought some spare tubes and then I was on my way to Columbia Heights, again taking The Bikeshare from the The Bikeshare Station to a different The Bikeshare station, which I unwittingly rode past before turning around and walking back. There is no assigned outfit for a The Bikeshare rider and the choices of attire vary from the 'what I wear for work' to a modified 'mostly what I wear for work, except maybe a reflective jacket or sneakers' to a separate bicycling ensemble, which seems to fly in the face of the whole espirit-de-The Bikeshare, but people should wear whatever clothes they want when they bicycle, whether using their own bikes or The Bikeshare. I feel that having a commuting uniform- which I do have and normally don, though not today and not normally when riding The Bikeshare- is not only totally acceptable, but kind of fun, irrespective of distance. fun fact: in the original comics, Bruce Wayne just wanted to wear a weird ass commuting outfit when driving to work in his tricked out car and then he got pulled over and was like 'uh, yeah, um, I, uh, fight crime? I'm not just some weird guy who wears a cape to drive to work.' Sartorial guilt doesn't make for the most epic superhero origin story, so they changed it to the whole 'parents getting murdered' thing, which I find to be much more bleak honestly.

Car2Go is great except when the driver of the Car2Go is having too much fun taking a selfie and too little not fun paying attention to the me that she passed too close. Nice duckface though. I also had duckface, but it was more of a duck-and-cover face. I was on The Bikeshare too, so I guess there's no mutually agreed upon covenant on sharers looking out for eachother. Idea: the Geneva Convention, but for Millennials.

14th Street and again with the bike lane idling and Thomas Circle and through McPherson Square (is biking allowed? I don't know) to 15th and then 15th and Pennsylvania and the usual way home. It was a good night for a good night ride. Good night.