Ride Home 9/30

Has anyone else been wondering what's going to happen to the post naming convention if this blog makes it a year? Like, will it just be Ride Home 2/2 even though there already is a post named exactly that? Should I start adding a year? And, really, if you've been thinking about this is a more than casual, glancing way perhaps you should run the blog because you're much more interested in its mechanics than I am.
I pre-tweeted the route home, then regretted it, then took that route anyway because, you know, just in case someone had planned on standing outside along the path with a sign that read "Sharrows woo!" or something to that effect, which has happened approximately zero times (so far) and I wouldn't want to disappoint them.
Mass was fine and relatively unbusy until the bottom of the hill. This is where the traffic always backs up and the bicyclist must choose to either ride with traffic and ride on the sidewalk. I stick the traffic because a little farther down the road, street parking is allowed and the street drops down to one-ish lane with enough room for a bicyclist to ride on the side. The parking stops at some point (before Florida) and then two lanes of backed-up cars again present a cyclist with a choice is waiting in traffic, filtering in between the cars and the curb or riding on the sidewalk. Choices, choices, choices and to the average jerk driver, nothing you choose is correct.
This made me take this picture. Let me know if you think this building is historic yet.

I've never noticed this building before. Maybe because I'm always looking at the people heading into and out of the Dupont Metro, which is considerably more interesting.
The usual stop and start on Q. Some guy on a cruiser ran a red and turned left and I raised my hands in a shrug-type maneuver for the benefit of the motorists. I finally figured out how to not screw up continuing on Q past 11th and Rhode Island, which I've screwed up when riding it a few times in the past. Turns out you just go straight. I took Q to Marion (not 6th!) because I thought it was 6th and then was all like "whaa?" when the street stopped in a block. If you were out with your sign at 6th and Q, I'm so sorry.
6th is pretty overbuilt, at least until Massachusetts, then it becomes a hassle again because of parked cars and right turn lanes and people "rocking the red" (which has something to do with communism or hockey. Capitals? Yeah, Das Capitals!) outside the Verizon Center. I cut my turn onto E way short, in that I rode basically into oncoming traffic and just barely made it to the left turn before the oncoming cars arrived and then I was confronted with this at E and 5th.
"Nooooo!!!" I thought.

So, in case you can't see, that's E Steet, and its bike lane, under construction. What happened Sharrows Nation Monster Army? (This is my collective name for the 3 of who read this. I imagine you combine the best aspects the Colbert Nation, Kiss Army and Gaga's Little Monsters.) I pre-tweeted the route and no one could hook me up with some foreknowledge? Foreknowledge hook-ups are the foundation of any good relationship, right? Anyway, I rode the sidewalk and didn't get arrested, so it's not a big deal.
On the other side of the construction, I was able to pick up E, where I rode behind a couple of bicyclists and by Union Station a guy on a Dahon. And then I rode slightly in front of a far too large truck with a driver who drove far too closely, making me uncomfortable and generally unhappy. In Stanton Square, some jerk driver passed me on the right. Whatever. Some punk kid. Whatever punk kid. 
Bon weekend and happy soon to be October, the month of pumpkins and whatnot. 

Ride In 9/30

Once again, thank you to everyone who has commented with route suggestions.You're the real heroes.
Since it was Friday, I wanted to "reward" myself with a longer, less trafficky ride in and since I now live in Armory West, I was vaguely aware of the fact that I sort of have access to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail which sort of connects to the Rock Creek Trail which sort of connects to the Capital Crescent. So, I decided that I would take the long way in, working my way through, and hopefully out of again, Southwest and along the river and eventually to work. Turned out this added about 4 miles to my morning ride, something that my legs weren't quite expecting and something that my poor, uncleaned, neglected through lack of maintenance bike didn't necessarily seem to appreciate.
Nonetheless, I set off and took 11th down towards the river knowing that the trail is somewhere along there and I theoretically have access. Theoretically, I would have also been willing to follow the signs, but when one pointed me back east and I wanted to go west, I had no difficulty in hastily abandoning my plan and set off down M SE/SW, a six lane east-west sprawling semi-highway that I've never ridden on previously. Turns out that it wasn't that bad as the right lane is abandoned by cars for some reason (maybe because of buses or the likelihood of parked buses, I don't really know) and I made it through without very much incident, only having the leave the comfort of my right lane a few times to get around some construction and the aforementioned parked buses.
Waterfront revitalization, please.
DDOT is currently working on Maine Avenue in an attempt to convert two blocks of it into something less terrible than what currently befalls any pedestrian or bicyclist trying to use it. To that end, they've closed the sidewalk which is pretty much ignored by all bicyclists and pedestrians, including me this morning. Here's a map:

I've conveniently added famous roadie Sen. John Kerry at Hains Point to indicate that this is the place roadies ride their bicycles in what a four year old might call a "zoom zoom" manner. I saw a couple working their way back to home (maybe?) or to wherever people go post laps as I cut over to Ohio. A good amount of bicycle traffic coming off of the 14th Street bridge, but that soon dropped off as I rode up Ohio past the Solar Decathlon, in which I believe participants use a sun dial in the place of a discus. It appears that the University of Maryland won, but their entry was pretty controversial.
That's a house. 
As I rode along, I looked over at Arlington, pining for a simpler time in my life when all I had to complain about was all of the stuff that I complained about until a couple of weeks ago. Memories. 
Per usual, I refused to dismount my bike along the stretches where NPS advises me to do so and neither did anyone else. I don't know if the signs by the Kennedy Center are still there.
I rode through the Georgetown waterfront park, which is nice, and sure beats riding along K and I picked up the Capital Crescent after passing two MPD cars near the exit of the trail. I don't think the officers were doing any bike enforcing today and that's fine with me.
I didn't get the memo that I was supposed to be wearing long sleeves since that was the outfit du jour amongst the CCT set. 103 bicyclists coming in the opposite direction between the start of the trail and the Manning steps. Not bad. If you didn't ride your bike today, you missed out. It was beautiful.
By the time I got across MacArthur my legs were done with me and I slowly rode the remainder of the way in the small front ring. I arrived at work thoroughly exhausted, though not nearly as gross as I have on more humid days. Progress.
I learned recently  (from literacy) that the ecto cooler colored soap body wash I use has electrolytes in it. Like, as an advertised feature. I've yet to notice the benefits. Have I seemed more electrolytic lately?


Ride Home 9/29

Massachusetts to 21st to say what? My plan was to ride 21st to Pennsylvania to cross the White House to pick up Pennsylvania. That this was my plan tells you that I don't work now, nor have ever worked, downtown and have no real conception of downtown traffic. But first, let me tell you about that time I had a prolonged staring contest with a guy sitting in the back of the N4 bus. That's pretty much the whole story. I maintained the staring contest because I couldn't get around the bus and, realistically, I shouldn't have tried as hard as I did since it would have required merging from a stopped position into a lane occupied by drivers going 40. So, not wanting to back down from an entirely fictitious challenge, I reciprocated and refused to look away. I didn't even know that there were reverse-facing positions on those buses.
Before the bus, I had a pretty fantastic ride down Massachusetts, having made it through the light at both Wisconsin and Garfield and really getting to "open it up" (I think that means go fast) though not fast enough to make the Your Speed only register 29. Oh well.
21st was fine until it wasn't, which was around New Hampshire. What was I thinking? No, really. What sort of nonsensical dumassness overtook me that made me think that riding through the heart of the central downtown business district would make for a direct commute. Google Maps will never substitute for common sense.
I got cut off by a D6 bus, which is the bus the ends its line a few blocks from our house. I almost considered just taking it home.
I didn't hang on til Penn and took a left on L, where I rode next to/behind/in front of some guy on an orange Schwinn "city" single-speed bike. This one. Who knew?
I gave up on L at 15th, getting tired of getting stopped behind drivers pulled over to pick up people. Is this a common occurrence downtown? The 'ol' stand outside and I'll swing by with the car' move. And if it is, shouldn't it be sort of illegal or at least frowned upon? Someday a cycletrack on L will make these concerns totally redundant, right? Right?
A new feature on the blog that might or might not ever be repeated. It's called "Is this you?" I think I saw this guy near Lincoln Park this morning and I liked his navy blue Brompton. So, if it's not you, tell all your friends about this exciting opportunity to have a picture of your back featured on a barely read website:
Is this you?
Contest will run until "you" identify yourself (at which point you "win" and, um, you can write a post if you want or maybe just drop your defamation suit) or until the next "you" is featured, which might be never.
Passed some "youths" walking in the cycletrack and dinged my bell and was responded to with a "what the FUCK!" so I stopped and turned around and said "everything all right?" And the youth said "yeah, I just didn't know anyone was behind me" and I refrained from saying that one might expect bicyclists riding their bikes in a bike lane and just rode on.
Great ride down Pennsylvania, most of it behind a woman who had really cool bike commuter style. It wasn't cycle chic, but she looked comfortable and had stubby pigtails poking out from under her helmet. I did not take a picture because ONLY ONE GIMMICK PER POST.

Ride In 9/29

First double pannier commute ever. The second pannier held my former cable box, modem and associated cords and wires, which I will return to Verizon right after I finish this post. I didn't notice any real difference in weight or handling or any of those things that I should have noticed a difference about while riding, nor did I feel like I was especially laden while going uphill or especially wide when filtering through traffic. So, that's that.
That baseball thing happened and in honor/memoriam of the Red Sox Mets-like collapse, I rode Massachusetts from Lincoln Park to 7th. I liked it. And, apparently, so do other people because I was in a group of three until Columbus Circle, which, frankly, can't get redone quickly enough.
The ride up Massachusetts to Mount Vernon Triangle really isn't that bad (I'm mentioning a square away from hitting all basic shapes in one blog post), especially if you're willing to ride in places where there's just enough room for a bicycle, like right next to parked cars or on striped pavement that indicates drivers should merge. Close to 5th it gets very tight, made even worse by a stopped Circulator. So, maybe that's not really the most fun part.
There's also no bike lane on 7th for a couple of blocks up, at least past the convention center, which I didn't know. I took R across town at Rhode Island. This isn't a very well integrated transition for bicyclists. Maybe a bike box  and a bike left turn light on the west side of 7th would make this easier. I mean, it certainly would, but I don't think it's going to happen.
There are many bicyclists in Washington and most of them are lither than I am. Substantially lither. I envy their litheness. In fact, I suspect their litheness is the reason they've drifted towards bicycling in the first place with the comparative advantage and whatnot. However, being lithe doesn't prevent your chain from slipping when you try to push off too hard from an ill-advised track stand. The bicyclist in front me asked if he was ok and he didn't say anything, so I didn't want to force the issue. He caught back up with us a couple of blocks later after we passed the guy on the green Schwinn Varsity in the dimpled, tweedy, light brown pants and the boat shoes (after Labor Day? for reelz?) and he ended up somehow in front of me by the time we got to Dupont and by the time I realized that he was the same guy I saw on Tuesday. I initially didn't recognize him because the other day he was wearing Garneau bike shorts and today it was Pearl Izumi.
I picked up Massachusetts on the other side of Dupont. I stayed in the street today, riding about 4 feet off the curb, which I think was in the road enough to ensure that drivers would have to move out of the lane to pass me. I have absolutely zero sympathy for a driver who has to temporarily change lanes to pass a bicyclist. Is it really such a hardship to have to look in a mirror, flip down a turn signal (ha!), and turn a wheel a little bit? If this bothers you, get over it because you're a moron. Sure, on a narrow road, it might be frustrating, but when there's two lanes? Seriously? Just deal with it.
I think there must have been a sale on black and yellow bicycles. I see them everywhere. A lot of bicyclists riding down the sidewalk on Mass (en masse?) rather than on the street. No prescription here, just an observation.


Ride Home 9/28

Wet helmet. Eww.
Two days into this route and I'm already looking for another one. I guess I didn't know how good I had it riding down New Mexico and Tunlaw and through Georgetown, which by comparison to Massachusetts was bucolic and easy and relatively low stress. It's not the Massachusetts is bad- it's direct and it's downhill, so what's not to like?- it's just that I don't necessarily feel relaxed doing it. Perhaps because I descend like a cross between a Schleck brother and a piece of furniture on casters.
And then Q. Which is just a series of blocked bike lanes. Here's a bus at Dupont. I don't think there's an actual bus stop there but rather it's just a place for the bus to chill before it picks up the next batch of passengers.

Later on it was a driver looking to parallel park. And then it was a yellow van idling not in the bike lane, but next to the parked cars on the other side of the road making it such that drivers had to drive in the bike lane. Of course a BMW was in front of me.
And then 15th. Here's a picture of that mess.

This is terrible. And I really would like one of our local political leaders (or all of them) to address this. This was a tour group. I didn't get a picture of the segway group. Or the next group of pedestrians. I almost wanted to say to the bicyclists coming in the opposite direction not to bother. The problem with the cycletrack heading north is that if you need to get out of the way of a giant group of pedestrians, you're doing so into oncoming car traffic. Obviously, this is problematic.
Fixie guy on Penn refuses to come to a complete stop. Just meh.
Then I got passed by an old lady. This isn't surprising.
Slow going up Constitution. I guess that's the Capitol hill thing.
I think that I'll try something else tomorrow. Maybe farther across town before heading down. Maybe down through the other side of the Mall. I don't know. At least it was sunny.

Ride In 9/28

One of the neat (yup) things about the Strava app, aside from the nice interface, is that it records your total elapsed time alongside your "time," by which they mean the time you're actually moving. And today's split pretty much says it all about the ride in:
Time- 43:51
Elapsed Time- 52:53
That's 9 minutes of not moving or about 16% of my commute time. This seems like a lot. It felt like a lot too. In fact, it was a lot since my ride from the other day was 37:55/41:18. I should get a part-time job as a red light inspector (though it would be less lucrative than working in the OCFO). It took me nearly 10 minutes to ride the mile down East Capitol, stopping at each light after a block of riding. Accordingly, it was hard to get into a rhythm and by the time I got to 15th street after examining each red light along Pennsylvania, the whole thing just felt labored and I wasn't having very much fun. And my shorts felt weird and uncomfortable, so that was bad too.
The signs on 15th Street that say "No Peds in Bike Lane" or something to that effect are laughably ignored by everyone. I suppose there's no use complaining. No pedestrian is going to cross the street to continuing walking down the block, especially when there's a bollard-separated lane right there. Maybe they would if MPD started handing, but that sort of ticky tack spitefulness wouldn't make me feel better. Just take down the stupid fence.
I decided to take long-time reader and friend of the blog Jacques' suggestion about riding up Penn on the other side of the White House. He's correct: it's way overbuilt and allows ample room for bicycling. I pretty much had the whole right travel lane to myself. Extending the Penn Ave bike lanes seems like a no brainer.
The heavy rain started right after Washington Circle, which I navigated ok, but which I still think is something of a traffic nightmare with drivers from the circle trying to move right to get to New Hampshire with little regard for bicyclists in the circle). I stopped at yet another red light to put on my jacket. All that accomplished was sealing in the wetness from the torrential downpour of the previous minute. Rather than taking 28th, I decided to ride M to Wisconsin and visit my old haunts thataway. M Street at that time of morning has an unused parking lane that should be signed as a "variable bike lane" assuming that that's a real thing. In any case, the ride was easy and far less harried than I thought.
I don't remember exactly when the rain stopped as I was distracted by the slow climb on Wisconsin and fire trucks and buses and all that. Thoroughly miffed at this point, I dropped into my lowest gear and dawdled, which only proceeded to make me unhappy since it seemed like it was taking even longer, which in fact, it was. Mostly because I was dawdling. Often, I find it better to pedal a little harder even when you don't feel like it than to take it easy and deal with the self-imposed impatience.
My bike is in a bad way maintenance-wise and really needs some attention that I will not be able to lavish on it for a while. Maybe this weekend. 
I'll never understand why people drive so quickly to only have to stop at a light a few hundred feet away. Is this taught somewhere? Like an Exxon Mobil-New Brake Pad Driving School?
When I got in, mine was the only bike at the rack. Yay?


Ride Home 9/27

Not the worst ride home, but not the best. If anything, it was the first "official" ride home, though I've ridden the route the night we technically took possession of the house which was actually almost a month ago. So, I've done the route before and wasn't expecting any surprises and it turns out no surprises were really expecting me.
I rode down and up and down Massachusetts again, mostly in the space between parked cars and stopped cars until Wisconsin when I took the lane and zoomed (at the speed limit) downhill, mingled in with taxi cabs and other drivers, feathering the brakes for fear of a driver stopping short. If you've ever ridden with me (I used to go on weekend bicycle rides arranged by Bicycle Space, but haven't been in a long time), you'll know that I'm fairly terrible at riding downhill. I'm not exactly aerodynamic, nor do I have the carefree attitude to just "let go" (like in Eat, Pray, Love. Yeah, I read it. What?). But I can keep up with traffic and do what I need to do, especially when doing so makes my ride home more direct. And frankly, I think it's safer to ride with the cars at speed than on the sidewalk, which would be rather hazardous to pedestrians and/or the Vice President, whose home I now pass.
Hipster girl, iPod headphones, fixie, pink-walled tires, stubby bars, and an agressive ride down Q.
I don't think I'm going to take 15th in the evening any more. Yes, I've only taken it once, but let me explain. In the morning, it seemed calm. Tonight it was just a mess. Pedestrians everywhere. Cars pulling in and out of driveways. Left turns. Stuck at every single red. Just not pleasant. Stressful even, though made slightly less so by the laughable rudeness of they guy in pinstriped brown pants who rudely rode in front of me while we were stopped at K and rudely circled around only to rudely ride in front of me at the pace that could be best described as rudely sluggish. If you're in a rush (Premium? Triple?), I get why you might ride around someone only to stop in front of them, temporarily, only to flit away rapidly and in a hurry and with great hazard due to your blazing fast bike speed. But if you're just commuting and taking your time and doing your thing, it's the height of ridiculous rudeness to ride in front of another stopped bicyclist. I'm thinking about recording a PSA. And yes, I'm aware that this topic has been covered by other bike bloggers.
Don't do that thing I described above.
Pennsylvania was good, but somewhat harrowing on account of large buses driving somewhat in the bike lane. Not cool. Again, more drivers than in the morning. I guess everyone is still stuck on the Beltway when I ride through the city in the morning. I engaged in only a little scofflawism, but only the most banal kind. I also totally blew it when someone from WABA, standing in the middle of the lane, tried to hand me an "online survey" (I don't know how that works). Needless to say, I botched and and dropped the paper. I yelled back "Next time!" but there might not be a next time and I'm sure I've missed my one and only chance to fill out a paper online survey.
It's important to be decisive when you ride your bike in the city. That is all.

Ride In 9/27

I want to first thank everyone who has commented concerning cross-town routes. I've very much enjoyed your suggestions and I look forward to testing them out in due time. I'm especially looking forward to riding Pennsylvania between the White House and Washington Circle, though I'd rather not continue onto M and into Georgetown because, having looked at that traffic coming from the opposite direction, I'm not sure I have the patience/wherewithal/caffeination to deal with that in the morning.
Saw my first two Lincoln Park CaBi users this morning. Both of them were kitted out in full bike gear, which suggests to me that they're daily point-to-point Bikeshare commuters, which I think is an interesting. I tend to think of CaBis as post-Metro bikes when it's too far to walk or for quick errands, but it's abundantly clear that many, many people use them for the entirety of their bike commutes.
I didn't screw up my Constitution Avenue route this morning, though I question whether it's really any better than taking East Capitol, which has a bike lane. I filtered alongside a long row of stopped cars, which was fine, but seemed unnecessarily cramped. I've been taking Constitution all to avoid having to make the left turn from 1st St, NE since in my few previous attempts the light has seemed interminable.
To describe today as muggy is to undersell how truly horrible it was. The weather is just oppressive and for the end of September, downright terrible. I suspect that it also kept people off bikes since Penn Ave was empty, except for some guy I saw riding a Surly in the opposite direction. Lots of jaywalkers on that street too, but the bike lane is generally wide enough to provide ample room to accommodate them. Ease of use for pedestrians is one of those things you sacrifice when you design your city streets as if they were daily hosting military processions. Which happens only maybe every other day.
Speaking of pedestrians, a chain link fence in front of Treasury blocks the sidewalk and forces them to walk in the cycletrack. Does anyone know why this is? Does anyone have any pull with the Secret Service to make this fence go away? Is this some sort of stimulus program that I just don't know about? Do I need to stand in front as say "Mr. Geithner- tear down this fence!" instantly becoming a hero to all DC bike commuting Reagan nostalgics? (It is unclear is this subset actually exists).
At 15th and K, a woman on a beige cruiser crossed from the square, looked at me and rode her bike behind mine saying something like "I'll let you go first. You look fast." I can assure her that is not the case, but thanks anyway. Remember that ACS data from yesterday about bike commuters? This part specifically:
Of the 9,288 people in D.C. who biked to work in 2010, according to American Community Survey estimates, 6,303 were men compared to 2,985 women. In other words, women made up just over 32% of D.C.'s bike commuting population. But women, despite a lower inclination for biking to work, showed themselves to be the leaders in public transportation. Women make up just over 55% of those who take public transportation to work in the District, 62,775 of the 113,648 total who do so.
I'd be shocked if that 32% isn't way higher for 2011. Easily 50% of the bicyclists I saw today were women. Also, if anyone tells you that people of color don't ride bikes in this town, that person is a liar or ignorant or both. Oh.
Roadie-type guy behind me on R Street. He looked like he wanted to pass, but a rather large truck carrying a rather large piece of construction equipment limited both his options and my speed, in that I didn't want to ride in the "no zone" next to a rather large truck. No amount of white paint is going to help if the driver turns right. So, eventually we pass the truck (and some lady rollerblading) and at the intersection with Connecticut, dude rolls in front of me than circles back around since we're at a red light and just sort of looks at me before planting himself a few feet in front of my front wheel. What's up with that? He turned off somewhere at Massachusetts and I didn't have the pleasure of slogging up the hill with him.
Khalil Gibran, according to the statue's lack of punctuation, is best described as a poet philosopher not a poet, philosopher.
I've got to be bolder riding up Mass. I keep putting myself in a bad place by riding too close to the curb and accordingly drivers are passing too closely. And (crazily) all of this too-close-passing seems to be perpetrated by drivers with Maryland plates (!!!). (The parentheticals indicate sarcasm because in case you don't know, Maryland drivers have a reputation for being terrible at driving) Anyway, still feeling out the new route so this will get better over time. Took about the same amount of time to get in as yesterday (actually, a little faster- by almost a minute), so that's good.


Ride Home 9/26

Arlington. I just don't know how to quit you. In spite of moving to the District of Columbia (which was, I think, named after that Craig T. Nelson show that your grandparents might have watched when they couldn't go to sleep after getting too riled up from O'Reilly), I'm still in the process of finishing cleaning and re-painting our old place. This meant an unplanned trip to a Sherwin Williams and then back to the old place before going home.
Needless to say, it lengthened my trip. It was back to the old route and everything seemed normal and boring. Same New Mexico, same Tunlaw, same R street, same 34th. In the past week, there has been no additional bike infrastructure installed. Just in case you were wondering. I know that someday (?) they'll finish the 34th street bike lane and since I'm the only person I know covering that "beat" and I'm not riding that route any more, who knows when we'll all find out. Maybe DDOT will tweet about it?
Lots of bicyclists and lots of joggers out. I've mentally switched to "fall," so seeing joggers attired in their summer wares seemed inappropriate for a reason I can't fully explain. The temperature certainly warranted the summer clothes. It's not cold at all. 
I admire the bicyclists who ride on Lee Highway/66 on the other side of the retaining wall from the Custis. I also think they're nuts. I just don't like riding along with traffic that exceeds 45 miles per hour, even in a shoulder. But, to each his own (I've never seen a lady biker do this, but I'm sure some do). 
It's far too muggy to ride in long pants. I don't know how people do it. 
I rode up to Clarendon and down Irving, across 10th and Pershing and 50 and 2nd and to the paint store on Glebe. After what seemed like hours, the paint was ready and I threw the gallon in the pannier. The shop attendant said "Oh, so you rode your bike here" and offered to put my paint can in a plastic bag. He said he didn't want me to leave a trail of white paint behind me. I said that it wouldn't be a problem- I'd just be painting my own bike lane. He laughed. 
I rode back up Irving to 50 and rode along the substandard path along the side of the road. It really needs some help. After Glebe (I didn't ride up Glebe because, as much as I don't mind riding with cars, I really don't like riding with cars that travel at 45 miles per hour), the path turns into sidewalk with telephone poles, signs and various other protrusions every couple of feet. Not cool. 
If you have a Combat Wounded license plate, I will forgive you one honk. But only one. Plenty of room for your car to get around me. 
After dropping off the paint (I didn't actually paint anything because that would be CRAZY), I rode back down my old morning commute route. Lots more cars in the evening than in a typical morning. A few trucks blocking bike lanes, but that's nothing unusual. Crossed the Lynn intersection of doom and rode the Mount Vernon, which was quite crowded. There's something about people who ride their bikes solely for exercise that makes me suspicious of them. I also think that "they" might be giving "us" a bad name. Speaking of which, I got passed by two roadie types somewhere between the Memorial Bridge and 14th Street and I rode behind them for a while. Each time there was a gentle rise in the terrain, they slowed. They were relatively polite to pedestrians and joggers. I left them at 14th street. 
Remember that thing about E-W crossings? Yeah, that. I rode the closed Maine Avenue/Interim Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to 4th and up to I and then down to the New Jersey. I took New Jersey up to E (because I know that it goes under the highway and I didn't know where the next cut-under would be. I'll study my maps in more detail later). E to South Carolina and then to Lincoln Park and then home. 
It was a long ride (for a commute) and I'm pretty tired. I guess that's what happens when you don't ride for a while. I'm fairly certain that I forgot a bunch of stuff, but maybe I'll find a way that incorporate tomorrow or whenever I remember. I think tomorrow's ride in should be slower and tomorrow's ride home might involve bikeshare. We'll see. 

Ride In 9/26

So, here we are. It's been a while since I've last written and it's not because I've finally started that other blog about socks or the lack of scooter usage in DC, but instead because I've been out of town and not commuting by bike. But I'm back now (you can stop self-medicating now) to regale you once more with my entirely fictitious bike stories (I actually get to work by jetpack) and the associated harrumphing.
As you might be aware, I've recently moved houses and now reside in a neighborhood I affectionately like to call "Armory West." I'm not going to give out my exact street address for fear that some disgruntled driver of a black BMW, full of rage based on reading some gentle barb I've ascribed to his "set," will careen through my front porch and disrupt, amongst other things, Ellie the Poodle. In any case, it's a new route for me and through an area of which I have some, but limited, familiarity. Much of the upcoming week's blogging posts will consist of my struggling with the multitudinous choices of route in hopes for the most optimal. Feel free to weigh in on my route planning in the comments. Your well-intentioned support is greatly appreciated.
East Capitol. It's wide. It has bike lanes. And only some stop lights and relatively not-so-bad cross traffic. I rode it for a while and then up Massachusetts which the intention of riding down Constitution, which I promptly rode past and then I, embracing the libertine atmosphere of the City, cut across the street, salmoned for a bit and made a left the wrong-way down a one way street. First trip and I'm already doing my best to give Hill bikers a bad (worse?) reputation. That put me back on Constitution, where I was then confronted with a Do Not Enter sign, diverting me to Maryland (?). Anyway, I wended. Wended a wot.The area by the Capitol confuses me, not just because I have difficulties with all things orthogonal and oblique, but also because of the "security" precautions erected. Gates, Jersey barriers (which, due to their mass, might be named after Chris Christie? zing.), one way streets, uniformed guards and patrol boxes in which uniformed guards sometimes sit dot the landscape in a way that makes biking harder. But on the other hand, they (I don't exactly know who) hate us for our freedom, so we've got to do what we've got to do, I guess.
I made a few wrong turns and eventually found my way back to Constitution and was relatively certain I knew my way from there. It was foggy this morning, so I didn't get the full-on, white marble faux-cropolis thing from the "monumental core" (I don't know if this is a real DC term or something I picked up from my once-upon-a-time medieval archaeology instructor referencing somewhere entire different), but on a nicer day, I'm sure it would be a rather charming view.
On Constitution, near the intersection with Pennsylvania, I think that I saw the DC press corps most prominent and influential bike lane story writer, Alex Baca, but I could be wrong. Doing research perhaps? I'd really love it if she wrote an article about the need two-way cycle track on Constitution in front of the museums and perhaps maybe all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. It could be called "NPS, NPCC ridicule local blogger for preposterousness of idea, seek restraining order." (Riding Constitution is a nightmare.)
I rode down America's bike lane (on Pennsylvania Avenue), focused on catching lights and not hitting pedestrians. At the intersection with 15th, we bunched and I watched some high school tourist types on bikes make an exceedingly poor decision about running the red. Though the failed to get struck by the oncoming SUV, it was not from their lack of trying. Don't be dumb. At the light, I stopped and said good morning to the bicyclist behind me, a rather rad (yup) looking woman with short, spiky bleached blonde hair and a hoop nose ring (her right nostril) who greeted me with an equally effusive salutation.
15th was easy, though the detour through Lafayette Park on the sidewalk is stupid. I rode 15th to R, passing many cyclists, most of whom rode without helmets, many of whom were in some work clothes and only 2 of whom were on CaBis. I took R across town.
Fulminating now. The District of (George) Washington, Columbia, DC, D.C. (I think that's the official name per Google Maps) has very few crosstown bike routes. If, like me, your commute takes you east-west (or vice versa), there are very few options to take bike infrastructure for most of your trip, especially if you're going west of the park. If you want to ride in a bike lane west of 15th, you have to ride to R. That means that Foggy Bottom and the Golden Triangle are under-served. This is why the L and M cycletracks are so crucial. And Georgetown and points west? Forget it. And in SW? The lack of bike facilities on M SW/SE is sort of embarrassing. Gaping holes in the system. And that's not even considering the top half of the city, where Military Road allows cars to zoom across, but cyclists have to ride down in and up out of the ravine that is Rock Creek Park. Not good. The lack of options is just crummy. So, I'll stick with R for now, which wasn't bad.
I didn't quite have the heart to ride up Massachusetts on the street and stuck to the path alongside. If anyone ever needs me to drop anything off at one of the embassies, please let me know. Though, if embassy rules are like those at airports, I probably shouldn't be accepting packages from you. A few cyclists riding down Mass in the other direction, stuck in car traffic. And yet it's supposed to be the bikers that slow down everyone else, the drivers of whom are now in the minority.
Whole trip in under 45 minutes. I'm quite proud of that, though I don't think it will last. This is my first ride with fresh legs after a week off so I expect that number to rise. The way home should be shorter thanks to the downhill (I "climbed" 530 feet this morning), though I don't think it will be necessarily faster.


Back Tomorrow

The long-awaited, highly anticipated return of Tales From the Sharrows will begin with tomorrow morning's ride. Same bike, same blogger (sorry), but a new route that keeps me entirely within Disenfranchisedistan. So, for those of you looking for your Arlington updates, I will no longer be able to provide them (unless of course I take a preposterously circuitous route [maybe in the summer]), so I highly recommend that you set your twitter machine's dials (or is mine the only one with dials?) to @BikeArlington to sate your needs. But for those of you who have had a desperate craving for some rants about DC's poor east-west bike connections, amongst other bikey things, well, don't adjust your blogging machine's dials at all. And I'll still try to post the usual "irreverent observations" (not trademarked because my writing, according to the patent office, cannot be officially called "intellectual" property). And sometimes I'll post poodle pictures.
I'm irreverent. 


Ride Home 9/16

Like most people, I find that when I allow time to lapse, it dulls a little the sting of the immediate and allows me to put things into somewhat better perspective. I feel that this is useful, especially as a bike commuter because slights are plenty and the pettiness of some drivers is abundant and disgruntling and it's best not to think about it too much until some time passes. And really the incident today wasn't the worst and it's almost kind of funny or would be if it weren't so common and wasn't so indicative of the nonsensical environment in which we try to ride bicycles.
The scene: 34th street somewhere between Reservoir and P. I don't know exactly. She was driving (but not really because there was a line of traffic for the next 6 blocks), her silver SUV blocking half of the bike lane. It was enough for me to slow down and even put a foot down and "hop" past as sometimes I do when traffic is sort of tight. I got past and I turned and glowered, as is my wont. Perhaps my glower was angrier than usual or perhaps it just looked that way because allergies has turned my right eye red, which might maybe makes me seem partly demonic. I don't know. We make eye contact. I turn and ride away. And three seconds later I hear "OH, I'M SORRY." I don't think she was genuinely sorry. In fact, I think she was being quite sarcastic about it. I bit my tongue, decided not to say something extra-annoying like "I forgive you" or "Jesus loves you" or whatever else kind of asshole thing I could have come up with in the spur of the moment. I mean, what did I expect? Her to be able to control her automobile, the vehicle that she has sanction from the government to operate based on the completion of an examination? That's crazy! Cars basically drive themselves and you can't control them- I think that's what power steering means. To ask a driver to demonstrate the barest modicum of awareness concerning lines of paint is like asking a poodle to not take your sock- it's just not happening. And yet its the bicyclists who need to behave responsibly. And the bicyclists who have no respect for the laws. Drivers are given the entire road except for a couple of feet, but that's just not enough. It's gluttonous.
But I rode on. Because I wanted to get home because I had stuff to do.
I saw this very small bike.

I'd like to see Tim, the most blogged about bicyclist in DC, on this bike. [Tim is very tall and the juxtaposition of his lanky frame on this very small bike would be amusing. Yes, I recognize that this, thanks to the explanation, isn't funny any more, assuming that it was funny or maybe chuckle-worthy in the first place. And yes, I stopped on my ride home in order to take a picture of this bike simply in order to point out that it would be amusing if a very tall person, like Tim, rode a very small bike.]
FedEx driver let me ride past in the bike lane rather than making a right turn into me. I said thanks. As I passed, a guy jaywalking said something like "no fucking around here" and I said "what?," unsure if he thought I was fucking around (I wasn't. I just didn't want to get hit by a truck) or if he thought the driver was fucking around (I don't think so. I just think she didn't want to drive her truck into me) or if maybe he was just addled. In retrospect, I've settled on addled.
Guy, roadie-light type, rode up behind me at Quincy and Glebe. He, correctly in my opinion, stopped behind me, rather than riding around. Be the change you wish to see in the world. I'm basically the Gandhi of bike commuters. I don't know where he went because as I rode down Henderson, he wasn't there, but I don't know where he turned. Phantom polite biker. Figures.
Programming note: I'm off next week. I might post but it'll be about things other than my riding in and home since I won't be. As usual, if anyone wants the (virtual) keys to this bad boy and its dozens of highly discerning, extraordinarily attractive (I assume) readers, let me know and you can post your rides. Also, go to the Capital Bikeshare birthday party. I can't believe it's been a year.

Ride In 9/16

According to some, strict calendarists as I call them, the season of autumn does not begin for another couple of weeks, but for the bike commuting set, it begins the first morning that you have to wear a jacket to work. That morning was this morning, where the temperature hovered around 48 degrees, almost cold enough for gloves, but probably not really. I decided that I wanted to ride in work clothes, much more easily accommodated on Friday when I forego by usual 'work tuxedo' in place of jeans and an untucked button down shirt. I never quite know if this attire is actually appropriate for work, where normally I'm expected to not dress like one of the grad students I advise, but no one has said anything about it, so I suppose I'm in the clear. Speaking of attire, let me also go "on the record" to support this idea. Though I wonder what DC Commuter Chic would actually look like. Rumpled blue suits? Ann Taylor everything? Too-short khakis with chain grease? Wait and see, I suppose.
I initially planned to ride the Haul, but stuck with the Cross Check, but rode with regular shoes, which work fine, but not great, with my clippy pedals. Since this was my last day riding in from our current place, I wanted to take the usual bike on the usual route one last time. The ride was as usual, which is to say uneventful. Kept catching up to, and subsequently falling back from, this guy on a Trek road bike with a messenger style Ortlieb bag, who never exactly came to a complete stop and instead, at each red light, would ride perpendicularly to the rows of stopped cars and then jump the light once there was a break in traffic. Do what you want, but this seems sort of dumb. The dumbest part is that his refusal to actually stop and insistence on jumping lights didn't actually seem to make any difference to his relative trip time. Which is all to say that the difference as far as your overall ride time is concerned between stopping at red lights and stop signs and not doing either of those is fairly minimal.
I didn't notice any police presence at Arlington's most dangerous intersection. I did, however, noticed continued police presence on the bridge. At this point, the only 'credible threat' I can identify is that if you're driving, you're going to be late for work.
M to Wisconsin and a slog made more complicated by a Circulator and a few trucks in loading zones. The usual spate of close-ish calls in Glover Park by the Whole Foods. There's just something about that stretch of road (maybe the width combined with the street parking) that just doesn't make it amenable to biking. Also, dueling Jetta drivers trying to see who could be the bigger asshole. And a pick-up truck that drove from one parking spot to another for reasons I couldn't quite determine. At Calvert, I decided that I couldn't allow my last day to be without New Mexico, so I cut across and then worked my way up. Maybe I'll miss it, but I'm not so sure. And I suppose if nostalgia ever takes over (or if they ever install the bike lanes...), the road will still be there.


Ride Home 9/15

If this blog were about anything other than bike commuting, it'd be about socks that bike commuters wear. Because I have something of a problem with socks. I think the reason I'm always thinking about socks is because I habitually forget them and either have to go awkwardly sockless, in a way that's both uncomfortable and unfashionable, or I have to, perhaps even more awkwardly and as I did today, keep on my bike socks to wear underneath my work shoes. Suboptimal. This is why the most forgetful of us should wear black bike socks.
One other thing about socks. This morning, I could only find one of a pair. When I got home, Ellie the Poodle had the other and was sitting behind it in front of her "table where stuff gets hidden, but not really because that's where we know to look." So yeah, be careful about poodles and socks.
Now on to the ride home: what the hell was that? What was it, like 50? Holy crap was it cold. I didn't really expect that at all, given that this morning was rather pleasant. To butcher Augustus, I found DC seersucker and left it tweed. And it was rainy, which I suppose I don't mind as much after being baptized (in a way) by the intense and unrelenting storms of last week. This wasn't as bad as far as the magnitude or velocity was concerned, but the temperature made things interesting and by interesting, I mean sort of awful. But I had a jacket and I had a hat and that worked well enough. Welcome to fall, I guess.
Ride into overhanging branches? Sure. Thanks jackass who wouldn't let me move over. Maybe someone could trim those branches on New Mexico, circa Hawthorne. Is this DDOT? Does the Complete Streets policy take into account overabundant foliage?
Was there a Buy American provision for taxis at some point? Or is the Mercury Sable just a superior vehicle for hauling paying customers? You know who would probably know? Alon Levy.
I learned earlier that the police are guarding our key bridges (and Key Bridge!) from credible threats. Apparently the best way to do this is by blocking pedestrians and bicyclists.
The most credible threats are on the sidewalk apparently. 
Not cool, MPD. And isn't that NPS land? Uh oh. I see some jurisdictional issues ahead.
Ran into doppelganger Cross Check guy. Almost wanted to say something. Didn't. Feel like this is the worst Craig's List Missed Connection ever.
If you drive in the rain with your lights off, I'm going to assume that you're not the kind of driver who is going to signal before turning. Just throwing that out there.
In the rain, I get a little bit nervous about my bike handling abilities. In fact, I'd say that on average my ability to control my bike are about as good as a Dalmatian's (the dog, not the Croat). So that's why I go slow down immensely when making sharpish turns, as I had to at the intersection of Wilson and Fairfax. And you know what make of car the person behind me, who didn't seem to very much appreciate my slowness, was driving? Take a wild Bavarian guess. At least it wasn't black.
Do you own this bike?

The Official Wife does not like it. She calls it the "Look at Me" bike and she sees it everywhere. You might want to sell it or give it to charity or push it off a cliff because that a "grown-ass" woman (presumably) rides it, peeves her. Thanks.

Ride In 9/15

Allow me to glom:
On a more reassuring note, I want those of you that either already are or especially those that are considering cycling in DC: it really is safe. It has come to my attention recently that many folks out there feel that cycling is a dangerous activity. It really isn't. It is unfortunate when incidents like mine and the cyclist's in the video happens, but it doesn't mean it will happen to you.

I ride a bicycle *every day*.  For many days, I ride a bicycle between 4-6 hours a day in various parts of the city. I would say that 98.9% of the time, it is without incident. Since I have taken up cycling, my stress levels during my commute (and at work) have dropped significantly. You know who are stressed? Motorists! Drivers are disgruntled. From the impolite gestures to the impatient honking, I wonder how some of them simply don't collapse from heart attacks. Luckily they tend to aim their frustrations at each other. The best cure for a bad mood is a good, long bike ride. There have been plenty of times I've woken up & dreaded going to work--but by the time I arrived I felt a million times better. I've never, ever heard a motorist make the same claim. I can't imagine that being stuck in the morning rush hour is a mood-booster. Sure, I encounter the annoying/aggressive motorist or fellow cyclist (and even pedestrian).  But they are the minority. Most of the people I encounter while I'm riding simply fall off my radar because they aren't doing anything to draw attention to themselves. Most people know how to behave. It's when people misbehave that you notice them, and it only takes one arsehole to ruin your day. The best remedy for that is to simply get back on your bike and ride.
Many of you might have already read this, since it comes before the paragraph in which K. far too graciously recommends that you visit this blog in order to "get a good idea of what it's like to ride a bicycle every day." As far as the sentiment above is concerned, she's absolutely correct. It is safe to ride your bike in the city. (Could it be safer? Sure. But that comes with more people riding). And it absolutely does reduce stress. For all of the ancillary benefits (carbon reduction, health benefits, cost savings), the primary benefit is one that's entirely selfish: it's the only time during my day that I really feel belongs to me and for as much as drivers and pedestrians and other cyclists impact my travel, I still have the overall impression that I'm the one dictating my own pace and my own route, something that I can't say I've ever felt while driving in rush hour traffic, when the entire world seems to be against me.
Ok, enough waxing.
[Breaking the fourth wall alert: I got a little distracted by the new Ken Archer on GGW. Frequent readers of this blog know how that my world stops any time K-Dawg (not an officially sanctioned nickname) lets a new one drop. This one's on Georgetown University (that college everyone hates) and streetcars and branch campuses and jobs. It has nothing to do with bicycles, but don't let that stop you. Also, read the comments.]
A gentle breeze and a gentle ride down the wide boulevards of central Arlington. Rode behind a gentleman on a beautiful Trek bike, the frame a color somewhere between Bianchi celeste and British racing green, with an internal hub, mustache bars and hammered metal fenders. This guy was definitely going for a look, especially since he was also sporting green canvas panniers and an old-timey looking bell shaped, tweed and canvas saddle bag. It might have been Ken (not K-Dawg), but I don't know for sure. Anyway, I rode behind him off and on down the R-B corridor and soon we were joined by some superbiker type in QuickStep jersey, who soon rode past when I decided to begin to stop at a yellow light. If I'm not sure that I'm going to make it through the intersection before the light turns red, I'm not taking any chances. I caught up to QuickStep on the other side of Court House and we parted ways again in Rosslyn. I guess he wasn't a true superbiker since he had a backpack (a real superbiker can't actually be going anywhere, much less commuting. And yet, they always seem to be on the roads and trails during peak commuting times).
Has anyone seen any new bike lanes lately? I haven't, but admittedly, I ride in only one small corner of the city.  Sharrows? Has anything been striped at all this summer? Will we get our mystery 10 miles before the year ends? Will I keep harping on this and maybe even more now that I'm actually a DC taxpayer? You betcha!
There has been a parked police car in the middle of the Key Bridge each day this week. Lights flashing and officers standing on the upstream sidewalk. That seems odd. Maybe some traffic control mechanism? Not that the traffic needs controlling since the inbound gridlock gets that done anyway. Maybe the police are there to try to prevent DC residents from sneaking out and trying to vote for Congress. I don't know.
Work locker rooms. They're great because they make showering and changing super convenient. But like workplace kitchens, things can get bad. Real bad. I submit the following:
You thought dirty dishes were bad.
Those are clothes. Underclothes.Who does this? What are you thinking? WHY?


Ride Home 9/14

No one noticed, or at least no one pointed out, that my yesterday's ride home post was titled Ride Home 9/14 (incorrectly). It's since been changed to reflect calendar reality and I apologize to anyone whom I might have offended with this oversight. So, tonight's the real "Ride Home 9/14," though it wasn't markedly different in that I took the same route at more or less the same time. 
Seven (7!) bikes riding up Tunlaw between 37th and Calvert. That's crazy a lot for what's basically a two block uphill stretch in a residential, but not super-dense, area. (Though maybe I'm wrong considering the relative density of DC neighborhoods). All youngish, white men (today- most of the time it's a mix of youngish, white men and women). 6 on hybrids. 5 without helmets. And yet, I rarely ever see anyone on a bike on the other side of Calvert during the ride home. These must be the Glover Park bike commuters, returning home after a day at work or wherever. I wonder where the AU Park and Wesley Heights bike commuters are. They must just get home later. 
Sometimes its the minivan driver in front of me that's causing you to go slow and not me, the guy on the bike. You should take it up with him. 
Do they not have bike lanes in New Jersey? Cause, what other reason would there be for some Garden State-plated gold colored SUV to straddle? Driver carelessness and callousness? Never. 
Read this about the Arlington County Police force and its blatant misreading of the Virginia Code. No, in the grand scheme of things, it's hardly the greatest injustice that a police force (that's otherwise quite good) has perpetrated, but it's still not right. Does anyone know if the MPD follows a similar standard? 
Easy going up Wilson. For a while, I rode behind a woman on an orange Canondale mountain bike. Then, no one, but then on Fairfax, a bunch of other cyclists. There were probably more bicyclists out today than I've seen on any other day this year. That's pretty great. On Fairfax at Quincy, I rode along behind a woman trying turn left at the crosswalk rather rather make the left from the intersection (the way drivers do). I don't think this is a very good approach. She sort of looked at me funny when she rode up behind me on Quincy. Was it a look of recognition? Is she one of this blogs 8 readers? Am I delusional AND vain? 
Looks like I'll be biking this route through the end of the week, then onto the all-DC/upper NW to barely SE crosstown extravaganza. If anyone has any requests (you know, so I re-ride some "fan favorites" through Arlington [like Ride In 5/16 or Ride In 4/26], well, sugget away and also you're totally crazy for actually having a favorite route), let me know quick because you've got two days left. 

Ride In 9/14

In non-local bikeshare news, New York has selected Alta Planning to install and operate its 600 station, 10,000 bike system that should open in Summer 2012. The good news: it's being run by Alta (the same company that runs Capital Bikeshare) so maybe some day, in the not too distant future, they'll be able to code reciprocity into the system and you'll be able to use your CaBi key in NYC and vice versa. This would be awesome. And vastly preferable to trying to bike from DC to New York in under 30 minutes to avoid accruing charges.
Really wonderful morning for bicycling riding. That's two days now and I'm worried that if it doesn't rain soon, too many people will start enjoying the benefits of riding bikes for commuting or recreation. Luckily, I think there are thunderstorms on the metaphorical horizon, so that'll dash that. It was so nice out that I didn't even want to wear my normal bike get-up and just wear regular clothes, but I've reconciled myself to the pointlessness (and wrinkliness) of this possibility. I also didn't really want to wear a helmet and maybe treat biking like it's a thing that normal non-sporty people do for safe and efficient transportation, but I just don't think that we're there yet. Waiting for Colville-Andersen is a documentary I'd probably watch. So, until then (or until I live much closer and less downhill from work), I'll don the semi bike-specific clothes and helmet and sunglasses and do the whole thing and visually separate myself from normal people just going about their day and associate myself with a class of recreational, leisure riders when really all I'm trying to do is go to work.
Rode behind a guy on some dropbar Bianchi frame with an IGH and fenders. Seemed like a good set up for a commuter bike.
That's pretty much all I've got for now and admittedly, it wasn't very much. I'd really like to take a CaBi ride this afternoon, but I think that work might get in the way of my leaving and riding around for an hour for no particular reason.


Ride Home 9/13

It's nice sometimes when there are no cars behind me and I get to choose my precise path on the roadway, so as to avoid bumps in the road, which are significant and not metaphorical in any sense. With cars on the road, I'm basically pushed off to the side and have to take the best path within 3-6 feet of the curb, which, believe you me, tends to be less than ideal on account of the debris and overhanging branches and poor sight-lines. But when the road is empty, or when I'm feeling particular cheeky and take the whole lane (mostly when traveling downhill at speed), then I get to pick my path and not have to ride over the bumps that daily prove my bane. And yes, I know where every single one of them is. Because they stink.
Boy (12 maybe?) on some mid-end Trek mountain bike, cell phone pressed to his ear and crossing the street. That's different. This was at Cathedral, so I guess he lives somewhere back in Foxhall somewhere.
Many more riders lately going up Tunlaw and 37th. Are you the same people I see in the morning? I don't think so because you don't look familiar, but maybe...? Can't be a fun ride at the end of the day.
It must be terrible to drive on M street during the afternoon rush. This terribleness will essentially make it impossible to ever get a bike lane there, regardless of how useful or necessary to the network one might be. No matter how many bike rides Jack Evans takes. Sorry true believers.
I love, love, love it when left turning cars yield on Nash before turning onto Lee. I'd love it more if I could be more confident on that happening consistently and b) not having to worry that I'm gonna get hit by a cyclist careening down the Custis. I'm sort of afraid of a bike on bike crash.
Second in a line of four cyclists in Clarendon. I think that two guys who were behind wanted to pass, but there was a NCVC dude up front, probably on his way to Conte's and maybe they (like me) realized that passing him wouldn't be prudent since it would be highly unlikely in the first place.
Another Tim sighting, this time on Quincy. He honked his ridiculously loud horn, I dinged hundreds of times and we both made nuisances of ourselves as far as sound pollution is concerned. Hear the solution.

Ride In 9/13

With fresh air (with Terry Gross?) in my tires and fresh (Prince of Bel?) air in my lungs, I set off this morning happily and with the aim of having a relaxing, easy ride into work. For the most part, this was verily done and I managed to make the ride swiftly and fleetly and with little incident. As you might be able to tell from the title, I did ride in to work today, meaning that I'm not out of town and I might have jumped the gun yesterday insinuating that that was my last ride along my current route because that wasn't the case at all and I was back again, rotely riding from light to light as I do and have done every morning for more than two years now.
Does anyone out there have a nice grandma who is maybe also the best, most polite driver in the world? Because I'd live to start a collection to buy her a black BMW as part of an off-set program, the way that polluters plant trees to make up for their heinous crimes against the environment. Today's foul was admittedly minor because the driver did stop prior to right-hooking me in the bike lane on Quincy, but nonetheless, the almost laughable consistency of this particular subset of motorists continues.
I got bunched up with a pair of bicyclists at the intersection of Clarendon and Veitch at the stop light and all three of us were wedged between a bus and the sidewalk. I made the mistake of trying to stick with the two and this backfired as they were able to outpace the bus ever so slightly before the driver began to pull into the stop, whereas I had to drop back and only narrowly a rather disastrous outcome. I then made the stupid mistake of trying to skirt around the bus in the few feet of lane to its left and thankfully there was just enough room to make it through. Doing stuff like this is dumb and I ought not to do it.
I always wonder where people are driving their bikes. Today, I saw a LITESPEED on some guy's roof. I really hope he's not driving it somewhere just to ride it.
I rode down to the intersection of Lynn and Lee and crossed without incident. There was no police presence when I was there, but I heard that there was an officer handing out flyers (or something) later in the morning. Unless he was handing out flyers to drivers, I think that they missed the point of last night's meeting. This had me riding along the downstream side of the bridge, where I was passed by an "on your left" fixie rider who darted past the pylons at the intersection with the Whitehurst at a speed that I wouldn't necessarily recommend. My relative slowness put me behind some joggers, two abreast and at least 17 feet across somehow.
I took 33rd to Dent, a new route for me, and was waved through multiple stop signs by obliging drivers. Seriously guys, I can wait, but thanks anyway.
DDOT filled the pit with the baby Sarlaac.
Not much more to say about the rest of the trip. The usual spate of drivers passing maybe too closely. A couple of drivers running stop signs. The normal parking in loading zones blocking the route for bicyclists. It's like living near a dump. After a while, you get used to the smell.  But it was a beautiful morning, so why bother complaining?


I've already seen two posts dedicated to this meeting, so let me first refer you to thos:

Cycling Committee Targets Dangerous Rosslyn Intersection

Cyclists, Officials Inspect Dangerous Rosslyn Intersection

Both of these posts do a fine job transmitting the basic facts of the meeting, so I don't mean to reduplicate their efforts. I think my biggest takeaway from the meeting was something that I've pretty much known all along: no matter what the law says, no matter how you interpret it and want to interpret it, the fact of the matter is that when it comes to rights of way and collisions, there's an implicit and underlying bias against cyclists. For anyone who is reading this that attended the meeting, please feel free to correct me, but this is more or less what I heard from the members of the Arlington County Police Department who attended the meeting and spoke about the intersection. (I'll try to generalize and not dwell on the specifics of the one recent bike-car crash).

- The right of way belongs to everyone and no one and both parties in the intersection are expected to yield to each other. (Sound confusing? Yeah, to me too.) Sometimes you have to surrender your right of way for safety. 

- Everyone is equally responsible for their own safety, but cyclists and pedestrians are more equally responsible than others.

- Go slow and be careful because the laws of physics trump the laws of the road and really the laws of the road aren't what you think they are anyway because everything is a judgment call.

- The expectation is that cyclists should be able to control themselves and avoid collisions and if there's an incident, it's likely that the cyclist failed in some way.

- Don't get hit. Because enforcement goes all ways and it might be your fault.

To say that I was underwhelmed with the response doesn't even describe half of what I was feeling. While I understand these things (hell, I even suggested to cyclists as much the other day), it's never heartening to hear members of law enforcement basically say that there's no prioritization for the safety of the most vulnerable road users. It's classic windshield perspective and its a real hindrance to Arlington developing into a better community for bicyclists and pedestrians.
I was, howevever, heartened by a few things. One was the push back from Jay Fissette. The other was the attendance and genuine citizen concern for safety at the intersection. It's my hope, as well as the hope of the ABAC and its membership, that calling attention to the dangers of this intersection will open a dialog and perhaps bring about some kind of enforcement regime that is more equitable and more cognizant of the problems that bicyclists and pedestrians face at the intersection daily. And while engineering solutions might benefit the intersection, it's really a mentality change that's needed.For what it's worth, I'm not really angry and I'm not really surprised. Change only comes with pressure and time and this was a good, if frustrating, first step. I also disagree with this idea from the GGW post:
Improvements could take many forms, including behavioral changes, engineering work, or better enforcement. But perhaps the best question is not how to make the intersection safer, but when we can make the intersection safer. After this evening's site visit, perhaps the best idea is to avoid crossing here in the meantime.
Intersections don't get safer for bicyclists when bicyclists stop using them. In fact, they get less safe for the cyclists who continue to ride through them. If anything, what we need is more bicyclists coming through the intersection, thus making it even more obvious for motorists to be aware for cyclists.
Anyway, here are some pictures and a video. If anyone has any questions or wants to provide additional gleaning, please feel free to do so in the comments:

Ride Home 9/12

Not too much to say about this one. My trip home was for a quick turnaround before heading back to the ABAC site visit meeting at Lynn and Lee Highway. It was the first time in a while that I've really felt comfortable on the bike (the first time since changing my tires, actually), so I guess I'm getting accustomed to them. Or maybe I'm getting better at managing my expectations on how fast I believe that I'm riding. Or something. I don't really know.
Saw a guy on 34th riding a baby blue Brompton. I told him that I liked his Brompton and he said thank you. He was wearing a bow tie, which I believe is required for all male Brompton owners.
Cyclists, I've noticed lately, are far to cavalier about making a left on the bridge from M. There was four of us attempting to do so. Two rode way past to the stop line and cut across the oncoming traffic lane, which was thankfully absent cars. The other guy sort of rode in the far right travel lane, which wasn't good since it had a green light and he was blocking the drivers behind him. I stopped at the light and waited for the green turn arrow before making my left onto the bridge side path and thereafter caught up to the two guys who jumped the gun. One might or might not have been totally hairless. I've seen him before, but I can't remember if I've blogged him.
I spotted a Galt/Taggart 2012 bumper sticker. I think it says a lot that even in the delusional fantasy world of an Ayn Rand devotee, a woman still can't be at the top of the ticket.
Stopped at the Teeter, which still has terrible bike parking. Managed to get home sushi in my pannier without incident, which is something of a first for me.
I managed to ride back to the meeting without incident, though with haste and perhaps not as law abidingly as possible.Clarendon has about the same level of perma-volume all the time and the pinch-points for bicyclists are almost always the same. Upon arriving at the meeting, I managed to safely cross Lynn Street, which means I think I won.
Unbeknownst to me (because I was aloof or whatever and was trying to tweet about it), there were a number of people who I follow on the twitter and who might even read this blog. I'd like to give a special shout out to friend of the blog, L., whose life-long dream, with this very mention, has now been accomplished and without having to wear funny socks. To anyone else who was there with whom I failed to converse, I can assure you that I feel unlucky to have missed that opportunity and at the next occasion at which outraged citizens gather with pitchforks to yell at public servants, I'll certainly be more social. And perhaps baleful.


No post tonight

Sorry, folks. But for a good reason. I was at that meeting that I've hitherto failed to mention. Interesting stuff, but maybe not exactly what bicyclists want to hear. (If you want the short version, I tweeted it at #xingleehighway). It might get a separate write-up tomorrow, which I suppose would make for 3 posts. And as I was reminded again tonight, I still need to do that grocery store thing (TK's an Ironman reminderer, as well). So, look for all that tomorrow (or some of it).

Ride In 9/12

Weather Jeebus smiled upon us this morning and blessed his minions, for his is a powerful deity, with one of those very rare days when it's an absolutely perfect for a morning bicycle ride. Sunny, but not too sunny, temperate, very light breeze. Altogether, couldn't really ask for anything better. I think that Mother Nature, who I believe is secret married to Weather Jeebus (per Dan Brown?), is rewarding us for suffering through the rain last week.
I like to check the twitters before leaving in the morning because occasionally someone will point out some detail about local traffic conditions that will give me good reason to change my route. This morning, I saw this and decided to skip the massive inconvenience that would probably meet me upon trying to bike through the area. Bike lanes quickly turn into driving lanes whenever there's any kind of road closure. Plus, I'd rather not have to worry about commingling with gawking and/or peeved drivers, distracted and/or upset by caution tape and fire trucks.
Speaking of gawking and/or peeved drivers, sometimes drivers gawk and/or get peeved when interacting with bicycle and pedestrian traffic at the intersection of Lee Highway and Lynn Street. I don't know if I've mentioned it previously (wink wink), but there's a meeting tonight at 6:30 at said intersection where you can learn about (and presumably suggest) safety improvements to the area. My proposed solutions aren't exactly that exciting (ban right turns on red), but they're also pretty cheap. Another place I would ban right turns on red would be the intersection of Lee Highway and Fort Myer, where I heard a yellow-shirted cyclist scream at some driver after a close call, wherein the front of the driver's jeep Grand Cherokee peaked around the corner and the bicyclist was coming down the hill and starting to cross the street. A few thoughts on this: Yes, a driver shouldn't hit you with his car and the driver is under an obligation to not do so. But, I question the wisdom of riding along this part of the trail at a very high rate of speed, which Mr. Yellow Shirt was doing. Yes, it's the trail, but it's not really "traily" (not a word) there. See:

View Larger Map

I'm really not blaming the cyclist (he was doing nothing "illegal"), but I suggest to users of this stretch of trail to go slowly and with ample caution because drivers around here, in spite of the plethora of signs alerting them to the presence of bicyclists, really aren't looking and I think it's a good idea to operate under that belief than the perhaps foolish one that relies on equating "trail" with "safety." Another issue at the intersection is bike traffic coming up Fort Myer, most of which is one the sidewalk (trail) and a bicyclist, if not paying attention, might inadvertently ride into path of someone coming down the hill. It's kind of a blind corner there, made worse by the shrubbery. Maybe there should be some sort of bike stop sign painted on the sidewalk (wait, that's not a good idea). The better solution would be, I think, a painted bike lane on Fort Myer that runs from the bridge to Wilson. But I'm not holding my breath.
Fun times as usual in Georgetown. A charming jogger sort of tried to race me uphill, but from the opposite sidewalk. I "won." The usual traffic hullabaloo has only gotten worse and my exasperation has only gotten more visible. My head-shaking and shrugs per mile are way up. So is my almost falling, but I won't tell you about that per this. There's a giant divot (maybe 3 feet long and a foot down) on 36th street between R and S that's a real hazard to bicyclists. It's also full of light brown mud, which is odd. There's probably a baby Sarlacc down there (unconfirmed).
So, I've recently been thinking about the massive inconvenience my biking causes to the drivers around me, in that sometimes they have to slow down a little bit so as to not hit me. And because math tends to be a solution for things (figuring out your grocery bill, sending astronauts to space, etc.), I've turned to it to try to give me some perspective on the deleterious effect I'm causing. From the base of New Mexico Avenue to the top, the last part of my ride, is .8 miles. The speed limit along here is (supposed to be) 25 miles per hour. That means, at a consistent rate of speed (thus, discounting the stop lights), a driver should make it up the hill in about a minute 55 seconds. But sometimes, there are bicyclists there (me, mostly) and a driver might have to reduce his rate of speed in order to safely get around the bicyclist. To be prudent, let's say that the driver drops his speed for 25 mph to 10 mph for, let's say, 100 feet. Now, .8 miles is 4224 feet, meaning that the driver will go for 4124 feet at 25 mph (2200 ft/min) and 100 feet at 10 mph (880 ft/min) for a rough time of 1.87 minutes and .11 minutes respective and a total of roughly 1.97 minutes or 1 minute and 58 seconds. So, that's that. The difference between slowing down slightly on New Mexico to pass a bicyclist and not doing so is 3 seconds. (Someone please check my math). Is your 3 seconds worth my safety?
So, I don't know how much I'll be riding and blogging this week since I might be headed out of town. I will keep you, my loyal cadre of readers, posted as best I can, either through the blogging machine or through the twitter machine (I have two separate machines, both of which take up entire rooms and are full of giant cathode ray tubes). On the off chance that this is my last ride on my current route- wow, that really sneaked up on me- it's been a pretty good route and I'll sort of miss it. Arlington is a wonderful place to ride a bicycle (though it could be better still) and I heartily encourage you to try it some time.


Ride Home 9/9

[What everyone else said about this afternoon's weather]. It was a nice respite, though I've sort become accustomed to riding in the rain and I guess I could now move to Seattle or Portland or Conakry and feel totally fine.
The biking was otherwise the same with the same route as normal through the District and down to the bridge. I've noticed a couple of recurring trends on 37th, the first being many bikers wearing scrubs (one two days ago, three today). Hospital cycle chic, I guess. The other trend is that drivers consistently seem to turn left at S after having to follow me for a couple of blocks where the streets are too narrow to pass. I'm increasingly under the belief that they're turning left here solely to escape the fact that they're behind a cyclist. Does thinking this make me paranoid? Or am I just right?
Very long backups on 34th. I don't think that DDOT will finish that bike lane before I move, so I don't think I'll really get to take advantage of it (assuming it's ever actually completed), but here's my observation: where there's a bike lane, there's room for bicyclists. Where the bike lane stops, there isn't. Vehicularists will probably tell me just to wait in the long line of cars and deal with it, but I'd rather not. I can't say whether it'd be safer (the lane would still be in the door zone), but if the path were cleared, at least it'd be faster.
American flag bike socks? Check. Guy was pretty fast too.
Up the Custis for the first time in a while. Accidentally wheelsucked and realized it too late and only after some Pizza Boli's driver came barreling down Scott Street in a way that hinted that he didn't really plan on stopping prior to hitting us. I braked hard and then very slowly continued forward as the driver waved at me with a "of course I was going to stop, I think you overreacted and now you should just get out of my way because I'm delivering pizzas" look on his face. You know, that look.
Key Boulevard was pleasant, as usual. In the evening, it's packed with joggers and pedestrians and people walking dogs and pushing prams and just being outside. I don't know if it was deliberate, but it really seems like the residents have "taken back" the street and I'm much obliged to them for that, especially since I'm just passing through.
I'm done now. Have a nice weekend.

Ride In 9/9

It's the dawning of the age of aquarium or at least that's what it feels like after what feels like 5 straight days of continuous rain. The rain today didn't seem to be so much falling vertically as hovering at about face height, allowing me to ride directly into it in order to assure maximum discomfiture (and discomfort). "Getting" to ride in the rain in the morning is considerably less fun than "getting" to ride in the rain on the way home. Frankly, I'm "getting" tired of "getting" to ride in it at all.
Bike seemed sluggish, but maybe that we just me. I ought to clean the drivetrain, but it's hard to "get" motivated to do that when I know that the next time will just bring more dirt and grime and invite me to do it all again. Maybe this weekend, but doubtful.
I think that one of the things I've learned throughout my time bike commuting is that my commute takes however long it's going to take and there's not much I can about that. Sometimes lights are green, sometimes not. Sometimes I have to go slow because there are cars in my path or because a trail is flooded or because I get a flat tire or because I just don't feel like going faster. So, I'm resigned to the fact that my commute takes somewhere between 35 and 45 minutes (lately closer to 45) and this approximation is good enough for me. Maybe this attitude towards time has been shaped by my 'learned fatalism" (not a real psychological thing), brought about from a cognizance that the roads aren't really set up for my rapid movement, nor are the other actors (not real actors) on the roadway overly concerned with my best interest and safety. Given that set of circumstances, I figure the best attitude is one of exceedingly low expectations for others and detached indifference towards the daily slights and indignities.Forget self-respect and focus on low-key self-preservation is my mantra.
I saw a car with no fewer than 8 college stickers on the back windshield. That seems like a lot. I think you should only get to have one per person. If you want to advertise law school, you should have to scrape off the undergrad institution. But I'm a sticker minimalist, so take my opinions with a grain of Goo Gone
Anyone who tells you that drivers with kids in the car drive safer is either ignorant or a liar. You can trust me- I bike by a lot of schools. This is why I support mandatory helmet laws for all minivan passengers.