My CaBi adventured continued with a two part ride. The first leg of the journey was from work to my "staff appreciation" event in Chinatown. I didn't give especially too much thought as to how I would go, but I did do a little map research, along with thinking about some of my previous experiences biking downtown from work.
I took Mass downhill past the Observatory. If you haven't done this ride on a CaBi, I thoroughly recommend it. Start at the Cathedral, lift up your feet and just hang on. I thought that I broke 30 according to one of those speed monitors, but it must have misread me because as I got closer, it changed from a flashing 33 to a mundane 25. The midday traffic wasn't such that I felt I had to cede most of the travel lane and I rode fairly stridently right down the middle of the right lane. Traffic started to bunch at the bottom of the hill by the mosque and the entrance to Rock Creek, but the right lane remained fairly clear. At one point, a bike messenger pulled out from one of the embassies and I rode behind him for awhile. Unlike most bike messengers, his bike had a derailer. Wuss. He spent most of his ride talking into one of those cell phones that doubles as a walkie-talkie. I felt the urge to say "roger" and "over" a number of times but refrained.
I took Q across Dupont rather than ride through the circle itself because last time I found that to be exceedingly annoying and borderline harrowing.
Q is fine; it even has a bike lane. A lot of big trucks followed the same route and for most of my trip I was behing a USPS van whose driver just totally ignored the white stripe that's there to keep me "safe" or something. I got on the Kleinway at Q and rode that down to H.
I love the Kleinway. It's basically the best piece of cycling infrastructure this town has. But there's something about it that's just catnip for antsy pedestrians. Do they know that it's not a holding area for pedestrians who just really, really want to cross the street and can't seem to keep themselves on the curb? I know that there's nothing anyone can really do about this and maybe in times when there's greater use by bicyclists (this was midday) this isn't the case. I also can't seem to time the lights right.
H Street, from 15th to 8th, is a mess. Don't ride on it. I only did because I had only ridden it recently on weekends when it isn't such a mess. Between the weird shifting at New York Avenue and the construction at City Center DC, it's just not the best route across town. But there was a convenient Bikeshare station (with two empty docks!) at 8th and that was good enough for me.
Then "staff appreciation" happened and some hours later, I was allowed to go home. I picked up the CaBi from the same station where I docked, but instead headed down to G, which unbeknownst to me had a bike lane heading westerly.
G to 15th to I, which is my preferred crosstown route. On G, I had something of a "big idea" about CaBi, which probably isn't anything especially interesting, but I'll share with you anyway. The thing I like about Bikeshare is its deliberate appropriation of public space. Sidewalks or parking spots are converted into docking stations in a way that indicates that bikes (not anyone's bike in particular, but something like the platonic ideal of bikes) are an integral part of the cityscape and deserving of their own real estate so to speak. A Bikeshare station is such a better image of "bikes" than the heretofore default image of some random dude's beater chained to a stop sign. I think that these kinds of things matter, maybe to the point that I overvalue them.
On I, I was stuck behind a fellow CaBi user (we need a name for them/us. CabIst? CaBiker? CaBean?) who had a much different approach to riding from the one that I normally adopt, which is to say slower and randomer (not a word). I like to ride in straight lines in a very deliberate sort of way. I feel that this communicates to those around me that I know where I'm going and I'm not to be trifled with. I can't speak to the extent that this message is actually understood. Anyway, around Farragut, she turned onto the sidewalk and I continue towards Washington Circle, aka the Circle of Doom. I took the circle three quarters around and went down New Hampshire on Virginia and over the TR Bridge.
Thank god no one was coming in the opposite direction on that bridge because it is very narrow. If you don't know, try it for yourself. Just one at a time, though.
I passed only a handful of other cyclists before I docked at the Rosslyn metro stop on Fort Myer. Not crazy about the location of that dock. I think it's rather far away from the Metro and this might discourage people from seeking Bikeshare for their trips. This might not be impactful now, but as the system expands deeper into Arlington, it might become the case.
The reason I docked at Fort Myer was because I was picking up some sweet goDCgo
water bottles from friend of the blog, Anne Factor, whose tale of Bike to Wherever Day
, was pretty great. As a rule, I'm a fan of free stuff and when I saw goDCgo had given out cool goDCgo water bottles
on Bike to Work Day, I used twitter to badger them into finding out how I could get one/many. Not only is Anne a charming writer, she's a delightful person and I was happy to meet her/get free loot. I told her that I would she would make the blog and so she has.
Bikeless, I walked home. It's about 3 miles from Rosslyn to my abode and while I don't mind walking (some might say that I love walking to the extent that I will masochistically foist it upon them to, let's say, walk many miles to Wendy's on a cold winter's day during college), I really missed having my bike. I think that a lot of people's misapprehension about biking is a fundamental misunderstanding of distance and means of travel. Driving 3 miles= easy; walking 3 miles=hard; biking 3 miles=????? Well, it's actually a lot closer to the driving end of the spectrum than the walking end. There are certainly other factors (perceptions of safety, primarily) that serve as significant dissauders (maybe a word), but I think that not actually knowing how little effort it takes to cover a significant distance through use of a bicycle is a substantial reason more people don't ride. Blocks are a unit of walking distance & miles are driving distances- maybe it would behoove bike advocates to adopt some intermediary unit of measure (kilometers?) as the unit of biking distance? That would also fit in with our effete europhilia. Anybody?