Ride Home 7/31: Huevos Olimpicos

At Massachusetts and the entrance to Rock Creek Park, a driver, who was holding a cell phone to his ear, left the left lane and moved into the right lane, the lane where I was and he could have hit me with his car, but he didn't, mostly because I anticipated that he was going to do this very bad thing. I got in front of him and turned around and shot him a glare, but I doubt that he even noticed. Thanks, guy. People complain about drivers all the time as if bad drivers are some kind of distinguishable subgroup of drivers, like the same people who, over and over again, flout the law and do stupid things, but as I sometimes driver myself, I think I have the perspective and honesty to admit that there's not just one group of bad drivers and one group of good drivers, but there's one group of drivers and sometimes some of them are good and sometimes some of them are bad and sometimes the formerly good ones become the sometimes bad ones and vice versa. It's time to be more honest about this. Sometimes I'm a good driver and sometimes I speed and sometimes I look at my phone when I shouldn't and sometimes when I'm on my bike I stop at red lights and sometimes I glide through stop signs and sometimes when I'm walking I don't leave the sidewalk when the flashing timer shows 3 seconds and sometimes I do. Our transportation sins are not judged in aggregate. They're judged separately and that's why we need to accept that we're "fallen" (so to speak) and to stop pretending that there are sinners and that there are the righteous and that these groups aren't one in the same. I don't really know where I'm going with this (certainly not to my own very rousing televangelical program on the tee vee) and I'm not sure I have a unified theory of how to be better at traveling in public (except don't take pogo. that's lame), except that maybe we drop the pretense of thinking that the person who speeds through our neighborhood is some evil outsider, but instead just someone lives two blocks away and honestly accept the fact that the bicyclist who passes too closely without signaling is just a guy who knows a guy that you know from college or met at a bar. Maybe when we do this we'll stop blaming unidentifiable and incomprehensible forces beyond our control and maybe start accepting responsibility for our own actions and maybe try to be a little bit better to each other. And then maybe we can have one big ice cream party and there will be hot fudge and maraschino cherries and nuts if no one has nut allergies, but someone always has a nut allergy so we should be cautious and not have nuts, just in case. 

Well, that was preachy.

Q to 15th to P to stopping at the ATM to deposit a check. Now that I can deposit checks through the ATM, I plan to never visit the inside of a bank branch ever again. I think that this will make things nicer for people who do like to visit the inside of bank branches and converse with bank tellers. I've known some good bank tellers who are really pleasant people, but I'm a terrible talker within transactional interactions. Ask the Official Wife about my "pizza voice." Apparently, I can't order a large with tomatoes and black olives without sounding exorbitantly angry. 

I took P to 14th. On P, I couldn't quite get across the street since I tried to cross midblock and cars kept coming in each direction. There was a Brinks armored car and a car with the license plate ROXIE. The driver of ROXIE honked at the driver in front of her who left room to allow drivers coming from the other direction to turn into the parking garage by the Whole Foods. ROXIE's got moxy. 

14th through Thomas Circle and then down Vermont to K Street to 15th, where I waited and waited and waited and then I rode for a block and waited and waited and waited again. It's good if you're a pedestrian who wants to go east or west, but north to south just doesn't work for you, at least if you're into getting equal time to cross the street. At the exit to the VA HQ, I stopped to allow a woman to cross the cycle track, but the bicyclists coming in the other direction declined to do as much. If only there was some kind of words on the ground that told them to do that. 


15th to Penn and down Penn behind a few other bicyclist and in front of at least one taxi that decided to make a u-turn across the bike lane. When someone is grievously injured by this, will we get the excuse that no one could have seen this "accident" coming? Just put up more bollards. Please. 

I was stuck in too high of a gear riding up the hill and it felt like I wasn't even moving. Apparently I was moving because I'm home now rather than blogging this from some kind of suspended animation near the Capitol. The only thing in suspended animation near the Capitol is jobs legislation (rimshot).

I love having a last mile that's flat. Although a last mile that's downhill would also be nice. But not a house that's at the base of a ski slope because then there'd be skiers and perhaps tobaggonists  there all winter and I'd feel compelled to offer them cocoa and maybe let them use my bathroom. They would slosh across my floor and I'd need to mop all the time. Totally not worth it. 

Ride In 7/31: 1099-MISC

I'm not a health nut. I'm not much of a nut at all and I'm barely a health legume. The rush of exercise and the surge of endorphins aren't things that gets me especially jazzed. However, there is something, sometimes, especially pleasant about the expurgation that comes along with physical activity. It's oddly cleansing, even though it's literally the exact opposite of that. I also find bike commuting to be cathartic and that might be one of its best-kept secrets, though a secret no longer if I'm sharing it with you. Mens sana and whatnot.

Yield must not mean what I think it means or maybe it does mean that and I'm not the one who is constantly misunderstanding its meaning. Were one to photograph me at the places along my route where I get the dirtiest looks from drivers, invariably there would almost always be a yield sign in the background. (note: invariably followed by an almost? what does that even mean?) There's a yield sign by Lincoln Park where the traffic from North Carolina Avenue merges with East Capitol and, though there's both a sign and a bike lane, I'm almost never given the right of way, especially when traffic isn't flowing smoothly. Boo.

I took 6th NE today and rode past H Street and up to M Street, which I found out was one way east and I wanted to go west, so I took to the sidewalk for two blocks and I'm still mad about how stupid it is that we have so many one way streets for reasons that I assume have to do with car parking. I'm fairly certain that the greatest enemy to the swift movement of people in a city is the storage of cars in public space. That or ACME fly paper but life isn't always a Road Runner Cartoon. You have no idea how many bike lanes look like they're going through a tunnel but instead it's just painted on a wall. And don't even get my started on all of the TNT-laden birdseed.

M goes under the railroad tracks and then I got myself onto the Metropolitan Branch Trail which I took for the equivalent of a bunch of blocks before decamping at R, riding the contraflow lane for one block and then crossing North Capitol to again cross Florida and continue on my way across town. It was around this time that I determined that I think my bottom bracket is creaking. (Creaking Bottom Bracket will also be the name of the "team" when I fill out my 2013 NCAA basketball tournament picks.) This article suggests that it's almost never really the bottom bracket that's creaking and instead of some other bike part that's making noises, but even if that's the case, I'm no better equipped to deal with that. The standard advice seems to be to tighten all the bolts and lube everything, so I guess I'll go about doing that.

There's no better way to assure that someone will shoal you than to remove your coffee cup at a red light and take a sip.

The climb up Massachusetts today was fine. I stuck to the road for most of it and I was given a fair amount of space by most of the drivers and there'd really be no reason for them to do otherwise. It's almost August and allegedly DC shuts down in August (except for those of us who work in higher edumacashun when it's the exact opposite so I'll preemptively apologize if the posts become even less regular) and I'm hoping for even banal and relaxed rides to and from work. I did have a bus driver races to get around me and subsequently cut me off not once but twice and I would have considered kicking his bus, but that's not a very mature response to these things of things and also I probably would have hurt my foot.


Ride In & Ride Home 7/30: The Decline and Fall of Roman Kreuziger

I'll start at the end of this morning's ride because that was really the only juicy part and maybe the more interesting part and the part where I made an gesture with my extended right middle finger so as to express my displeasure at a driver who passed me too closely. I was riding up Massachusetts, not even a quarter mile from work, and I had to leave the space between the parked cars and the dashed white stripes because there was some kind of horse trailer blocking the entire lane and so I looked over my left shoulder and saw a gap and moved over so I was then about four feet to the left of the white dashed line which I had previously I had been one foot right of. I had taken the lane, or so I thought. And the driver of the black SUV behind me, well back at the time of my initially moving over, pulled up behind me and then there was a beat and then he decided to pull around me, leaving six inches between the side of his car and the outer edge of my pannier. I yelled "SHITWHATTHEFUCK!," sat up, leaned back, and raised my right hand and let fly my gesture of displeasure. I think the part that I liked about this the least wasn't my flipping the guy off- these are things that happen and I hardly feel any guilt or remorse or disappointment in myself or whatever- but the beat that happened between his pulling up behind me and his deciding to pass me. That was the moment of choice, the moment when he had to decide between waiting one more second for me to move back over to the right or recklessly passing me and in that moment he chose wrongly and this makes him a terrible decider. So, there you go. Some people do stupid things with their cars and some pass have to live with the terrible consequences of those terrible decisions and I'm glad that it wasn't me and I'm glad that I got the pleasure of expressing my displeasure.

Only other thing of note was this defaced tv. Don't leave your old tv on the street if you don't want someone to deface it. That's always been my maxim.

It was an exasperatingly long day at work and I was hoping for solace in a genial ride home, but it was somewhat too hot for solace, so I wanted to settle for mundane and I mostly got a mundane trip and I'm happy for it.

If drivers are allowed to make right turns on red lights based on the understand that they are capable of looking in one direction to determine if their paths are clear, shouldn't pedestrians be able to jaywalk on one way streets based on the same logic? If a person is capable of maneuvering his car under such circumstances, certainly someone would be equally capable of using his legs. What do we want? Mode equality. When do we want it? Whenever convenient, preferably soon. (I'm not much of a radical.)

I took 11th on the afternoon trip and as I took it on the morning trip and that street continues to prove itself perfectly adequate for bike commuting but I'm still open to seeing other streets because when it comes to bike commuting, I like to play the field and I refuse to settle down. Don't try to change me, streets of DC.

What kind of products would you buy if they were labeled as "great for bike commuters"? Like, only bike stuff? I'd like to think I wouldn't be swayed by this kind of endorsement, but I think I'd be lying. I hope someone starts selling "great for bike commuters" churros.

I got this email today.
Joyce Rosario joyce@oc.edu.au via gmail.com

10:01 AM (9 hours ago)
to talesfromthesh.
How are you doing? I am Joyce Del Rosario. I am an accounting and finance blogger. I am a long time reader of your blog. Whenever I read your blog, I always imagine myself being featured in your site but I don’t have a good topic to share during those times so I didn’t take the chance to contact you.
I have a great topic to share to your blog readers. It’s entitled “The Penniless Accountant.” This will surely capture the interest of your readers since this will feature ways on how they can maximize their potentials for them to be successful in their endeavors.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Joyce Del Rosario
P.S. I have readmst of your posts and they have been very motivating. I salute your blog for always delivering quality content. I hope you continue being an inspiration to your readers.

I think it's pretty great that Joyce has readmst of my posts and finds them motivating. So, I'll leave it to you all to tell me if you'd like to read on the topic of "The Penniless Accountant" or if you'd like me to stop sharing the various spam messages I receive. In any case, continue to maximize your potentials!

Shoaled by a woman in a sparkly, gold cardigan. She was on a Dutch-style bike and she rode with an impressive level of abandon and carelessness. We both got passed by a guy on a CaBi he wore giant headphones and he hustled to catch a green light along Pennsylvania that I didn't think he'd make, so bravo for him.

Pretty good ride up Capitol Hill, but it got very crowded along East Capitol and it looked like all of the riders in front of me had spread out in order to set up for the sprint finish. SPOILER ALERT: that grandma is not your leadout man. It makes me laugh, but only when I'm not caught up in it.


Ride Home 7/27: In Vino Veritas

I headed down Loughboro and then hung a left onto Glenbrook, which I think turns into Macomb near or after Macarthur Boulevard, which I also crossed and then it was down the staircase to the Capital Crescent Trail. At the base of the stairs stood a deer and the deer was just kinda looking at me and I said "hey buddy" in the way I might say hello to a dog that looks friendly. I tried to take a picture of the deer, not only for my collection (I have albums and albums full of deer pictures. It's weird) but also as a way to share with you my seeing this deer, perhaps so you might be more inclined to believe me or maybe just so that you become slightly more interested in this story, but, per usual, my pictures were crap. The deer stayed still as I remounted my bike on the trail and seemed as ambivalent to my leaving as it did to my arrival.

Less than a mile down the trail before the bridge over Canal Road, there was a mountain bike lying on its side and two people gathered near by, so I stopped to ask if they needed it since bikes (like deer?) don't frequently tend to be supine in the wild. I then noticed that the two people, youngish and in normal clothes, were talking to two older men, pudgy and outfitted in the beige garb of boy scout troop leaders. Baseball managers and boy scout troop leaders are positions that undermine their own authority through ridiculously infantalizing uniforms. One of them, the leaders, said something like they were looking for direction (not directions), but at the same time waved me off, so I left and I suspect that if any Mormon missionaries were to bike by, they'd have made some easy converts.

Performance Bike should set up an outlet at Fletcher's Cove. Such is the sartorial sense of the CCT commuter.

A little farther down the trail, I came upon two roadies and at first I stuck behind them out of deference to the idea that maybe they would ride at a pace that I could safely trail, but after a little I figured that I'd be much happier if I just passed them, which I did after dinging. There's nothing wrong with passing and nothing wrong with getting passed. It's not a moral judgment in either direction.

I took the Rock Creek Trail past the beach volleyball courts and I was briefly distracted in trying to see which of the shorter men would attempt and fail to spike the ball and I drifted over a little and got a nasty scowl from the bicyclist coming in the other direction. Sorry, dude.

My chain slipped as I made a graceless and bumpy transition from the trail to Ohio Drive. Here's what that looked like:

Documenting my misfortunes since 2011.
I moved my bike over and was promptly honked at by a guy trying to park his car in the parking spot that I was occupying as I undertook my two second repair. Rather than tell him to sod off, I just moved back onto the sidewalk. The car parking situation on Ohio Drive (free, 2 or 4 hours at a time) is the greatest deal/scam in all of DC.

This is the Jefferson Memorial. RIP Sherman Hemsley.

I don't think I've ever bothered coming over here since we moved back to DC and it was a fine day for a diversion and there were only a few people around and it was a beautiful, if too warm day, and I found out that this is from where the NPS weekend bike tours of the Mall start:

Bike Tour Begins Here at White Rectangle
Maybe some day I'll go on a bike tour of the Mall. Or maybe some day I'll just bring my Brompton (forthcoming) into the Pentagon City Mall and make some sick edit of my racing to and fro before getting tackled by a security guard and being forever banned from the Pentagon City Mall, which would, frankly, be a pretty welcome outcome.

And more picture picture of the Jefferson Memorial area:

If we are going to trade liberty for security, liberty being the ability to drive as close to places as possible, can we at least do it in a more aesthetically pleasing way? The marble of the Memorials to our nation's leaders juxtaposes nicely with the concrete barriers designed to protect them from cars. I look forward to the day when the various statuary around town is fitted with bicycle helmets for their own safety, as well.

I took the ART to 7th Street and then up to I to over across South Capitol into Near SE and New Jersey Avenue. At I SE and New Jersey, there's some demolition going on which will result in a new development at some point in the next couple of years and more importantly the extension of the I Street bike lanes, which would maybe then allow them to connect to the lanes at 4th and 6th SE and better connect the Hill with the Riverfront and maybe make it marginally easier for me to bike to theoretical baseball games (Theoretical Baseball is even more popular than Fantasy Baseball).

New Jersey to E to South Carolina (which is certainly wide enough for bike lanes) to awkwardly standing on a crowded sidewalk waiting for the light to change on Pennsylvania Avenue to antagonizing the pedestrians who crowded around me when I tried to get my bike past them and then up the cobbled South Carolina Avenue on the other side of Pennsylvania to 15th to home. It was a good ride, one about 50% longer than my usual ride home and I logged it for the 2milechallenge and I would encourage you to continue to do the same.


I rode home. But I'm not writing about it now. Did it even really happen?

I'm taking an extended weekend and I won't be bike commuting tomorrow and there will be no posts about the Friday commute since there won't be a Friday commute. What I'll do instead, and not because I'm just super lazy tonight, is write up tonight's ride tomorrow or maybe Saturday, but definitely some time before Monday when I will ride to work once again.

Next week will mark this blog's 18 month anniversary. You can accomplish a lot in 18 months, but instead of doing that, I've just done this instead. Anniversaries are an appropriate time to reflect on the past and on the future and so I reflected a little and I've determined that I have endless gratitude for you all who read this and even more gratitude for you all who leave baked goods on my front porch (ok, no one has done this, but I'm amenable, so...?) and it would be unfair of me to not share this with you, as I would the plate of cookies that you might bring over. And then when we're both feeling a little bit ill from eating too many cookies, we'll watch some old episodes of Perfect Strangers and we'll comment on how it hasn't held up well and did you know that Bronson Pinchot had a short-lived show on the DIY network? Anyway. Thanks to you, for 18 months, I've been standing tall on the wings of my dream. See you tomorrow.

Ride In 7/26: The Sound and the Furby

Scads of bicyclists out today. The bike commuter has become a fixture in the DC commute scene, such as it is. It's impossible to ignore. We're barely even fringe any more. (I still wear a jean jacket with fringe for my bike rides though. It has "Sharrows" bedazzled in sequins on the back. Very classy.) I'm not sure to what extent bike commuters can be considered an self-organizing interest group- we all belong to different subsets and have different political priorities which are given varying degrees of weight and I don't know to how many people who happen to commute by bike, the continued development of a bike infrastructure is their top "political" priority. They might care about other things more, like schools or development or a ban on small plate restaurants or keeping liquor and/or guns in the hands or out of the hands of certain groups of people and maybe they'll vote for candidates who are "meh" on biking but more agreeable to their other positions. This is sort of the paradox of the "citizen cycling" movement- more normal people on bikes, but maybe less focused commitment to the cause of bike infrastructure. Though on the other hand, if we can make bicycling and good bike infrastructure a "sacred cow" (not literally- please do not stencil sharrows on the nearest bovine) that any local pol would feel obligated to support at the risk of alienating a broad swath of the population (you know, like parking spots are now), well, then the cause of marches on inexorably. In any case, vote in local elections. It matters.

I had a hard time waking up this morning and the lethargy translated to a fairly slow start to my ride in spite of the coffee and roll with butter and jam that I had consumed prior to leaving. If only they made pancake flavored shot blocks. It would solve all of my breakfast and energy problems. I've never consumed any performance goo (the technical term) and I'm fairly certain I won't start now no matter how appetizing these ingredients sound:
Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Pectin, Citric Acid, Green Tea Extract, Colored With Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavor, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax
Yum. There's oftentimes an overlap between recreational cycling and transportation cycling and in many places it makes sense: you want a reliable bike that's reasonably fast, maybe to wear clip-in shoes and there's nothing wrong with bike-specific clothing, especially when it's hot and you don't want to sweat in your work clothes. I'm not sure that the consumption of carnauba wax should necessarily fall into that overlap. But whatever. Everyone's different.

I've managed to get the timing right so that when I arrive at 11th on Pennsylvania, I'm able to make a right turn into the crosswalk (as I'm instructed by the signs in the bike lane) and make it to E Street where I patiently wait for the red light. If I'm at the front of the queue with just a slightest bit of intentional exertion, I'm able to make it to H Street to wait at the next red light there. Then at that green, with about the moderate same international exertion, I can clear New York Avenue and then get through K on the other side, cross Massachusetts on the walk signal (no green light, though. Not sure this is legal) and make it to P Street without having to stop again. My overall biking philosophy is to go only as fast a strictly necessary to make it through a green light and ride absolutely no faster. So, would-be shoalers, FYI. If you see me stop pedaling in my approach to a red light, pass me then. I'll totally be cool with it.

Saw Jon at 14th and R. We waved. Or nodded. I can't remember. Maybe both?

A family of British tourists at Dupont Circle looked lost, but I didn't want to intercede to help. That's for the War of 1812, jerks. Or maybe the light just turned green and I didn't fully assess if they even needed help until after I had begun to pedal away.

I wonder if people look at my ass the same way I see them do pedestrians who walk past them. Sure, the leer-ee didn't see you, but I saw you, so I'm not totally sure if you got away with it. Maybe that's not important. In public, everyone sees everything.

A long slow slog up the hill today. Some days are just less fun than others. No real bother though. It was a good morning ride and I'm happy it wasn't too hot and it didn't rain and I was able to arrive safely and soundly and think out a few things, most of those things being related to DC retrocession vs. DC statehood and I won't share them with you because they are of little consequence. Maybe if I get a job in Reston, I'll have a long enough commute to think through even weightier issues.


Ride Home 7/25: Roger Milla, 1990

It's time to legalize it, it being the Idaho stop. And then maybe we can have some kind of politically fraught amnesty program. I'm mixing my issues here, but whatever. Bikes aren't cars. I'm confident that a country that can distinguish "talent" between ten melismatic wannabe karaoke idols, we're just capable of parsing the difference between a human-powered vehicle of thirty pounds and a multiton living room on wheels.

On my bike I get to hear snippets of conversations and it's always fun to assess that conversation and try to figure out if the totality of it would have been worth eavesdropping. Today I listened to a guy talking into his phone about his law school application. I wonder if he'll get in. He said his LSAT scores weren't where he wanted them to be, but the rest of his application was good. So, there's that.

Remember how yesterday I wrote all about patience? Well, I'm extraordinarily impatient when I'm  hemmed in a bike lane by rows of stopped cars and I have a cyclist in front of me who I daren't pass due to lack of space and he's just riding so slowly that I'm tempted to abandon the bike lane, hoist my bike onto my shoulders, run down the sidewalk and remount at the next corner. I haven't actually done this. So far. Believe it or not, pedaling is an important part of making your bike go. A failure to do so shouldn't result in a quizzical gaze (this should be the title of a game show on LOGO), but instead a revivified interest in moving one's legs. People should ride at whatever speed they feel comfortable and our bike infrastructure should be able to accommodate cyclists' desire to pass.

At around Q and 7th, I noticed that the truck in front of me had a flat front right tire. I felt that it was my civic duty to inform the driver, which I did at the next light. He said that he knew about it, but thanked me anyway. He then made a joke (I think, because I didn't hear him clearly) about me doing it a block back. It wasn't like OMGLOLZ, but it was in a good fun and I laughed along. His passenger then suggested that I ride to work early tomorrow since it was going to be very hot. I explained, perhaps blatheringly, that if I adjusted my work schedule to avoid riding in the heat, I'd have to go in early and stay late and that's not really my cup of tea. I didn't actually say cup of tea, so as to avoid a cliche that might suggest I work as a butler at a large manor house. Not that that isn't a perfectly respectable career. (Have a domestic staff position you need filled? Email talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com. My skills include: knowing what a Roomba is, intermediate cufflink application, "blogging") Anyway, the light turned green, I said goodbye and good day and I set off down the road and with a bit of pace because I'd run out of things to say to the gentleman having already covered their flat tire and the weather. I'm not exactly a raconteur.

Q to Florida and Florida to First NE into the heart of NoMa, which is an entirely nonfictional neighborhood with a grocery store that I sometimes visit. I was emailed a list of items (by the Official Wife, not by the guy who wants me as his butler) and I stuck to the list and I even interpreted "bread" to mean "baguette," the bread type that is my biking bane. But what is life without challenges? After checking out I watched the baguette into my pannier that it poked out of the top but not so much. I was able to lift my leg well clear of it and got on the bike without pulling muscle or breaking the bread.

M Street to 4th NE to Stanton Park. There might have been a cyclist behind me who was trying to determine if I was worth passing, but he or she must've decided I wasn't. After Stanton, it was simple to get home and I did that.

Ride In 7/25: Never Not Negating

A lovely morning. Gaia has been pleased with our sacrifices. For example, some animal ate half of a tomato that I had growing in my garden. This upset me greatly. Gaia must have heard about it and made the weather nicer as means of an apology. I still don't know if I'm over the whole tomato thing yet. It was a really nice looking tomato. In Hungarian, it's same word for tomato and paradise (This must make Milton hilarious). They must really love tomatoes. I wonder if it was a vizsla that ate my tomato.

A quick spin in the normal direction and at the base of the Hill I found myself waiting behind one cyclist who waited for the light and soon passed by another cyclist who couldn't help but roll through it. The "scofflaw" wore socks that were decorated with images of playing cards. A gambler, I see.

Up 11th. The construction at City Center seems to creep farther into the roadway each day. At least one day is totally blocked, but today it was about one and a half. There's not even the pretense of there being a sidewalk, just a sign that says something like "Pedestrians, listen up. Cross to the other side of the street lest one of our cranes drop something on your head" or something to that effect. Eventually the project might create another nice node for walkability in the downtown area, but we're still some ways from that.

"How is my driving? Call 1-800-XXXX" asks the question written on the back of some van. "Rife with externalities," I answered to myself. I don't think they'd like it if I left that on their answering machine.

I saw a car with two bumper stickers, the first supporting Obama's election in 2008 and the second being a nice bit of Texas jingoism. Texas is bigger than France, I learned. Yes, but France has its own nuclear weapons. So there's that.

I think a lot about the future and self-driving cars and as a bicycle advocate, I'm greatly concerned. Not just from a "rise of the machines" standpoint either. In many ways, self-driving cars should be good. They'll reduce/eliminate drunk driving. They'll eradicate DMVs. They'll probably require less parking, at least under the Matt Yglesias fleet of taxis model, freeing up more space...but for what? My concern is that all parking lanes will just become more travel lanes for self-driving cars. If the imperative is to still move people in personal automobiles (though perhaps smaller-sized ones?), isn't there still going to be an increased demand for more road space and a continued societal push to prioritize motorized traffic over other kinds? And to "protect" cyclists and pedestrians from this new technology, is there going to be even more enforced segregation of users? And would self-driving cars actually reduce vehicle miles traveled (and the pollution associated with that)? Free from actually having to drive the car, could self-driving cars become, in effect, self-driving beds, allowing you to live in DC and work in Philadelphia, only having to wake up briefly to get in your bed-car in the middle of the night before arriving at work fresh as an unshowered daisy in the morning? I don't see any scenario in which self-driving cars means that people will live closer to where they would previously need to drive themselves. Now, car travel becomes a sort of on-demand leisure time with all the benefits of a trip on public transportation with the addition of point-to-point solitariness in not having to interact with a bus driver or fellow passengers. If we are to adopt self-driving cars, I think that it's imperative that we adjust the tax system accordingly, shifting the burden to VMT in order to tamp down on unnecessarily long car trips.

Near the top of the hill at the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin, I was passed by a superbiker that I sometimes see. He rode slightly ahead of me and we both passed a couple of teenagers and the young lad felt compelled to clap his hands and cheer me on, saying "You gotta want it," perhaps as some kind of motivational technique. I'd glad he did so because I was about to turn around and just go home, having just realized that I didn't "want it" and I'd much prefer seven miles in the opposite direction than the 30 additional feet to the top of the same hill I ride up everyday. Teenagers. Ugh.


Ride Home 7/24: Hogan's Gyros

Is this schtick getting tired? Should I blog about something else? Because I've got a lot of other ideas. For example, maybe I have important things to say about TimberSports. Or the shoes that foreign celebrities wear to international film festivals. Or maybe I could answer your gardening questions in the persona of an 17th century yeoman farmer with a penchant for brandy. Like, I said, I've got a ton of great ideas for blogs and I'm not wedded to this whole bike commute blogging thing. Sure, I'll still ride my bike to work, but maybe after eating my lunchtime sandwich, I'll instead post pictures of fish dishes from Malaysian cafeterias on my tumblr instead of rehashing that time that driver was a jerk or that bike lane ended abruptly. Or how tonight's commute prompted me to muse on moral perfection, namely the process by which one becomes more virtuous, especially in the area of patience. If we are to believe that one's character is mutable and that it can be changed over time through a certain set of actions and through some kind of focused self-improvement program, then I'm forced to wonder if patience can be gained through the simple act of traveling by bicycle. I think when I started bike commuting, I was a fairly patient person. (I do own an apricot poodle after all, the most mischievous kind.) Nonetheless, I think the act of daily riding my bicycle has provided me much needed additional perspective on the world around me and on the nature of social interaction and modernity and on the doofy hats that some people wear. I don't think it's necessarily the action of traveling slowly (slower than a car and slower than a bus, ceteris paribus) that has somehow induced greater feelings of patience. If this were true, drivers stuck in traffic, who barely move forward, would be the most patient of all of us and I'm sure that's not the case. What, in my opinion, has made me more patient is the kind of immediacy I feel with my surroundings. Rather than passing through a space and not truly being part of it, on a bike I'm fully enveloped in the here-ness of everywhere I go. Patience, after all, is a virtue that's all about relativity. An hour is the same amount of time for the impatient person and the patient one, but the two people cope in very different ways. Like everything else (including blog writing), it's about expectations.

I've ridden past it every day since and I've yet to notice either support rally or protest rally outside of the Luxembourg Embassy related to the Fränk's positive drug test. This is what the Duchy's embassy looks like. Normally when I ride past the embassy, I drop my chain in Andy's honor, but now I'm just going to start taking banned diuretics.

So now you know what the Luxembourg Embassy looks like. 

Mass to Q. Same as always.

I rode past the Jewish Community Center at 16th with an above-the-fray, bemused smile. I normally drop the smile when I cross 16th because there's a parking lot behind the JCC and it's one of the most dangerous places I pass on my route. The lot is up a slight hill and there's almost always a driver pulling in or out and the driveway entrance is between parked cars, so the visibility is limited. There's also some street parking spots right there with high turnover. Bike lanes really don't mix well with streets that have lots of curb cuts.

Traffic Control Officer at 11th and Massachusetts and L and L.

Normally, technological solutions (such as traffic lights) have a negative impact on certain kinds of employment. Not here. He was doing a great job and for the most part, drivers actually did what he directed. It seems like a Sisyphusean task, though. It must appeal to a certain kind of person to stand athwart history traffic yelling stop. At least you get a vest, like a croupier. Only in very dark casinos would a croupier need a reflective vest. And while a croupier might hear "hit me," the Traffic Control Officer must be aspiring to the exact opposite.

The downed bollard at Penn and 7th was replaced some time today. Thanks, DDOT. It's part of their "broken windows" strategy of bike infrastructure. I don't know if this a real thing or if it should be. Frankly, I'd prefer a bolder strategy of enforcement, perhaps involve SWAT teams and helicopters, but I've always had a flair for the dramatic. A flare for the dramatic might be useful in alerting a search party made up entirely of actors.

I watched a guy in a suit try to hard to bike in circles rather than just stop and put his foot down. Believe it or not, those striped areas on the road aren't exclusively meant for it. As I watched the guy circle, another guy, he on a Furley, shoaled me on the left. "Hell hath no Furley like a Raleigh scorned." Ok, that makes no sense and I'm trying too hard.

As I nearly rode into a group of tourists who were in the process of moving out of the center of street into my path as I tried to pass them on the right, I said "Please. Excuse me." I'm not sure they heard the period. This would have been an exceptionally bad crash and I'm glad that no one walked into me.

I stopped at the store and I bought two things and it took 20 minutes at the self-checkout line. Sometimes you just get in the wrong line.

Ride In 7/24: Scungilli

Couples who bicycle together, in my opinion, must have really strong relationships. It's really a delicate balancing act in finding mutual accommodation and comfort. This is even more true when you're biking your partner as she sits in your front basket, knees clenches and legs akimbo, leaning back so her head and his were nearly touching at the ears. I cannot imagine that this was very comfortable. I cannot imagine that this was most convenient way to travel together as a tandem. Frankly, I hope that this was a couple and not a woman who had fallen off a ladder just landed in some dude's basket as he rode by. It was odd.

Bike commuting is an olfactory experience. I like the smell of cut grass and I'd imagine really enjoying the opportunity to bike past bakeries and their wafts of freshly baked bread, though this isn't something I actually get to do. My primary olfactory sensations are those are much more negative: smoggy bus fumes, fetid standing water, eighth grade boy tourists, llamas escaped from "Brian's Llama Tours: Como se llama a fun way to DC? Brian's llama tours" (Ok, this last one isn't real. Yet). I enjoy the sensory experience of smell, even when it's not good smell. This might be because I have an inadequate sniffer. Those cursed with much better senses and sensitivity assuredly would mind a whole lot more. This is why I support mandatory nose plugs for all bike commuters.

New sandwich place opening on 11th Street.
Now I'll have somewhere to sit and read my The Epoch Times when I take a break on my morning ride.

I stopped at the intersection of 11th and R and waited to make my left turn. I waited for there to be a gap in the cars coming from the other direction. You know, for safety and such. And then a guy coming down R starts rolling through his red light towards me, perhaps looking to cut in front of me and continue straight on R as I wait to make the left turn. This move would be highly obnoxious. Break all the laws you want, but try not to be a dick about it, you know?

I saw a van that advertised its bus shelter maintenance services. I did not know there was such a market for such a niche activity. Judging by the state of our bus shelters, I can't imagine the business is very successful.

I've developed a tremendous affinity for a bike commuter that I see on many days, but I've never been able to work up the effrontery to bother her by saying hello and that I see her quite a lot and that I think it's cool that she bikes everyday on the same route across town that I take at roughly the same time. I'm sure that when I do eventually decide to strike up this conversation and then mention that I have a bike blog in which I've previously mentioned my noticing her but not ever saying anything, it sure won't seem weird at all. It's easy to develop a bike-quaintanceship with someone who rides in the other direction. You nod. He nods. Mutual recognition accomplished. It's much harder to do when you're traveling in the same direction. I guess you could say something if you pass the person, but I'd still be hesitant. I've had bicyclists say stuff to me when they've pulled around to pass and it's always sounds like "Hefasjkbskdjbgegagasv." (Along with my bad sense of smell, I can also barely hear. When I start losing my eyesight, I'll be a triple threat)

I've stopped wearing my clip-in bike shoes during my commute. I now wear a pair of slip-on shoes and no socks. I have a deep antipathy for socks in the summer. This might also be abetted by my poor sense of smell. I haven't made the full conversation to biking in sandals yet. Or barefoot. That'd be hardcore.

I rode on the Rock Creek Parkway trail this past weekend. It is terrible and unfit for bicycling, even if its unpeopled by walkers and runners and hikers. That is all.

Do embassies have public restrooms? I'm asking for a friend who sometimes might need to stop while riding up Massachusetts but never has because it's not that far away from his office anyway.


Ride Home 7/23: Chaucer's Flying Saucer

Walt Whitman died in 1892, during the height of the bicycle boom of the 1890s. You can bring up this factoid at your next dinner party and thank me for the awkward silence.

I wish General Motors made horns that honked faster than the speed of sound. Maybe then drivers would be satisfied when the light turns green and the driver in front of them doesn't immediately move. I'm perpetually gobsmacked by the amazing reflexes of the average Washington driver. I wish there was a way to put this superpower to good use. Is there some kind of socially useful purpose to which we can deploy the talents of those few who can quickly identify the color green? Frog catcher? Endangered turtle rescuer? Person in a colorblind bull costume in some sort of pseudo-bullfight performance art project?

Before Dupont, I saw a building with the 19XX (I don't remember the actual numbers) Que Street in metallic letters over a doorway. Presumably this means "Q" Street. I imagine this causing consternation for any lost Spanish tourists. "¿Qué Street?" "No, that's six blocks south, Señor." Wikipedia suggests that Q Street is often written Que, Queue or Cue Street, but fails to elucidate why. Perhaps it was due to Benjamin Banneker's deep enjoyment of waiting in line to play billards. Your guess is as good as much better than mine.

I watched a guy riding down the sidewalk, ducking tree branches as he sang some song and kept his hands off the handlebars. He passed me again at the bottom of the hill as I waited patiently in queue behind a bunch of cars and at least one bus. Which side are buses on in the "war on cars"? I can never remember.

Do cities have a "pulse"? Sometimes when I'm riding I think I feel one, but that might just be trash trucks passing by a block over. Sometimes it feels like there's a kind of distinguishable prevailing collective mentality that washes over and embraces its inhabitants and its passers-through, but maybe I've just inhaled too many bus fumes. I think in the 19th century people thought that cities had pulses and suspected that troubles were afoot, perhaps revolution, but that just might be my hazy recollection of Les Miserables. I love the nineteenth century. People just did more back then, like inventing nationalism and the telephone and such. Probably because they didn't have twitter.

Q Street to Florida and then to First NE (cannot wait until the cycle track), which I followed to L. L to 4th, 4th to I and I to 10th NE to H to locking my bike up outside of a bike shop, to walking to a sandwich stop to ordering a sandwich, to getting that sandwich, to riding across H at 11th to riding in the streetcar tracks (I did not fret) to 14th and down the 14th street bike lane to East Capitol. That got me home-ish. I stopped outside my corner store and left my bike unlocked outside while I went in for a quick purchase (slim jims and cigarillos). There's no good place to lock up out front. I'm also very trusting. And foolish.

Ride In 7/23: Womp Womp

Foam hats. I most of the time wear one while riding my bicycle. I try not to obsess over it, one way or another. But I vacillate. And I don't always like to have it on my head. It musses my hair, about which I care very deeply (ok, this isn't true. I give less thought to my hair than my imaginary friend who is so imaginary I haven't even imagined him yet) and it just feels uncomfortable and looks goofy. I just don't feel like it and I just don't want to have to feel like I have to feel like I should like it. Ultimately, my problem is that I can't decide if wearing a helmet is like eating vegetables (laudably salutary, if not always craveable) or whether it's like wearing one of those magnetic bracelets (superstitious, pseudo-scientific, hokey claptrap). What I do think I know is that helmet use isn't the be all and end all of all cycling safety discussions. I just don't know what to feel. Feel free to comment about your feelings about your personal use or lack of use of helmet, but avoid generalizations, preaching and judgment. I will delete those kinds of comments as I don't find them to be useful. I will also delete any comments that mention penguins. Also, if you'd prefer not to comment, that's ok too. If you'd prefer to watch youtube videos of penguins, have at.

Standard route to work. Easygoing on East Capitol and I think the light sequence changed and it was much easier to progress from 11th street to 3rd street and I hope that this is some kind of permanent adjustment as it will shave 20 seconds off my total trip and I'll own so many Strava segment KOMs now.

Down and around the Capitol and down Pennsylvania and over to 11th. A few bicyclists out, but not as many as I would have thought. No taxis making u-turns, so that's something.

An steady ride up 11th with many bicyclists streaming in the opposite direction. 11th should be repaved. It's sort of horrible. I've been on gravel paths that ride smoother. I don't know why we accept crappy roads as if they're divinely ordained.

11th to R and then quintuple-shoaled at R and 15th. That means that five bicyclists rode in front of me as I stopped at the light. At least three or four of them proceeded to ride through the red light. Personally, I don't care very much about cyclists running red lights. I am also not offended by people who elect to jaywalk. Do what you want, live with the consequences. When I drive, I don't believe that I'm being judged when the driver in front of me decides to speed, so why would I think this kind of "logic" applies when I'm on my bike? What I do find annoying, however, is getting passed by people who are unable/unwilling to ride as fast as I would prefer, at which point I have to pass them. I've yet to be shoaled by a person on a Bikeshare bike who was able to maintain an adequate speed that I wasn't able to pass him a block or so later. The guy who shoaled me today then decided that he would make a left turn from the right-side bike lane, cutting me off as I rode in the travel lane. I likewise found this irksome. Some gentle suggestions:
1. Pass only while moving
2. Pass only if you believe yourself capable/desirous of maintaining a speed of travel faster than the person you've just passed.
3. Try not to pass someone if you're just going to end up stuck in front of them at the next red light. This just seems awkward and invites shoaling.
4. Ignore these suggestions if you don't like them and do whatever you want anyway.
5. Watch baby penguin videos.

I feel like this blog post has been very dour and unfun. My apologies. What isn't dour and unfun is riding your bike, so do that maybe. Like as a palette cleanser. Bike commuting can be the pickled ginger of your day.


Ride Home 7/20: I'm going to open a coq au vin food truck and call it Cocoa Van and it will confuse everyone

Two-part trip. First part from work to a happy hour. Second part from happy hour to home. 

The first part was pretty good. It was muggy, but what else is new? Seems to be more traffic around Dupont than usual. I'm just going to go ahead and ascribe that to driver "uncertainty" concerning the L Street cycle track. If uncertainty is a good enough excuse for economic malaise, it's more than a good enough excuse for traffic. Other good excuses for traffic include bridges being out, rampaging escaped zoo animals and emergency helicopter landings. Whatever it was, it's certainly not the fact that cities aren't built for the easy movement of cars. And yet we still cede so much of urban space to them. 

All I remember of Q Street is that I kept looking up to see pedestrian counters at intersections ticking down from 10 or 12 seconds and my deciding whether I wanted to hustle to catch the green, which I did at maybe four or five intersections. I was wearing normal people clothes and this level of exertion seemed unwarranted and sweat-inducing, but as someone who grew up pretending to shoot buzzer beats when playing basketball in the driveway, it's hard to resist any kind of countdown with consequences. (Countdown with Consequences is the name of my forthcoming book about Apollo XI and/or the last episode of Keith Olbermann's last MSNBC episode. I haven't started writing yet, so I'm pretty flexible). In any case, it turns out that four blocks of consistent riding is enough to exhaust me. 

 Q to 7th and 7th has a bike lane for a while, but then it stops and that's why the taxi driver next to me started to get even closer. I shook him at one point, as he was stopped by a bus and things were going swimmingly under the driver of a small red car decided to reverse for more than half a block, heading right at me. Well that was something. There wasn't even an open parking spot or a place to make a turn. I have no idea what he was doing. I didn't stick around to ask. I think I just pulled around him, mumble/cursed and rode the next two blocks. I locked up outside of Bicycle Space (needed: more bike racks. I know that Bicycle Space's neighbors are resistant and this is unconscionably stupid) went inside the Passenger, had a gin rickey, some nachos, good times with some friends and the Official Wife, and then set off to get hom to walk and feed Ellie the Poodle, who might or might not have been miffed by our absence. 

I decided that I would take Massachusetts home rather than go through downtown, taking the diagonal boulevard that runs basically from Bicycle Space to my house, with a few minor deviations. I didn't select this house because of that. There's no secret George Washington-Pierre L'Enfant-Freemason-Dan Brown thing going on here. Just a coincidence.

Massachusetts would be better were there not road construction by the highway entrance that reduces the street to one-ish lane. Nevertheless, that proved fine as did the rest of the trip. It was a pretty quick trip home, though there was a headwind that proved more daunting than I would have wanted. Maybe I need to live in a completely flat city with no wind. I'm a delicate bike commuter flower. 


Ride In 7/20: Camptown Races 8 km long

Friday means coffee and it means leaving the house a little earlier than usual and it was cloudy and muggy and I was groggy and eventually sweaty and nothing much happened but the one man in the SUV on E Street blasting his Biz Markie in a way that I noticed and appreciated, but didn't acknowledge.

To get to E Street I took Massachusetts, circled the mess that is Union Station (and too far), before cutting back across a few lanes of traffic and I'm not sure if I ran any red lights, but I'm fairly certain the traffic pattern never even considered that someone would make the a button hook turn across four lanes of traffic. Perhaps things will be better when there are bike lanes. Everything's better with bike lanes.

At Stanton Park, between bouts on Massachusetts and before turning on E, I think I saw someone that I knew but I didn't want to risk saying hello because of the aforementioned grogginess and the likelihood that I was very much wrong in identifying the person. Though I suppose it's never too early in the morning to make a new friend. I'm basically the bike commuting Mr. Rogers, complete with slippers and cardigan.

I turned right on 11th and regretted it. I turned left on G and regretted it. On G I passed a couple on CaBis and the guy was carrying some kind of triangular packing tube, used in shipping I'm not sure what. I passed them at the got stopped at 3 subsequent lights and the stopped behind me each time.

I find riding through downtown-ish (roughly bound by 15th, New York, Pennsylvania and 395) to be quite charming. There are some nice older buildings that you would hardly notice and there are some vacant properties that really can and should be turned into something. Maybe not Class A office, but something. Like, is there a good haberdasher downtown? Probably not. Or a social club for the Sons of the Daughters of the American Revolution? I very much doubt it. Or anything resembling laser tag? Exactly. Buildings allowed to remain empty make me inordinately sad.

I crossed the White House plaza before there were too many tourists about. I crossed 17th street before there were too many cars about. I got to coffee and there were people there, so that was good. As usual, a good time was had by all, including some special guests: Adam, who is soon off to make some pirate jerky, and Hugo, who is a baby. Also, Rachel, the soon-to-be bike parking tsarina of WABA. It's a regular who's who of sailors, babies and tsarinas.

Upon leaving Friday Coffee Club, I almost get left-hooked as I crossed G Street. I didn't look both ways, but the turning driver certainly had no intention of yielding to me in the crosswalk. She missed my front wheel by a foot and kept going. I was happy nothing bad come of it.

15th was uncrowded. I saw this sign.

Watch for Turning Traffic
Presumably the sign is for bicyclists. It's better than "Dismount bikes. Real people are driving here, self-righteous pricks." Though I wonder if many bicyclists have been distracted from turning traffic as they read the sign that warns them as much. Also, if drivers are crossing the bike lane, isn't it (in the eyes of law) more incumbent of them to watch for going-straight bicyclists than the other way around?

I enjoyed that. R Street was mostly uncrowded, except for an older gentleman with pulled-up white socks and baggy shorts and a younger gentleman on a Surly Pacer, who shoaled and was promptly passed.

I stuck to the road on Massachusetts and I hustled and I exhausted myself and there were only one or two occasions when I was passed too closely. For the most part, the drivers were relatively non-menacing. I tried to convince myself that it's just like riding up other streets without bike lanes and I shouldn't be especially cowed. It mostly worked. There's a crack in the road about three feet off the curb that seems about to be where a bike lane white stripe would go so I just used that as my guide. It's not like my local tax dollars don't pay for a road if it doesn't have a bike lane on it. Unless I can get some sort of write-off.


Ride In & Ride Home 7/19: Those actually were the droids they were looking for

It's been a long day, which started with a 7AM trip to the local hardware store. Please excuse me if the details are hazier than usual and if you find the post lacking in any way, please flay me in the comments. I take reader feedback very seriously. About as seriously as the opinion of the Safeway checkout lady who told me that I shouldn't eat donuts for breakfast, lest I turn into the Pillsbury Doughboy. Pillsbury doesn't even make donuts. You'd think someone who works at a grocery store would know that. Also, related to my breakfast, are grocery store donuts considered "generic," like a non-brandname medicine? Also, not related to my breakfast, this was on the way back from the local hardware store, Fragers, where, I learned last night, I purchased 4 (four) tubes for my bike, which had remained unused for the previous two days upon my discovering a slow leak. It was good to fix the bike and good to ride it again. How I missed you, Rocinante.

Anyway, the bicycle section of the hardware store was pretty good. And since it opens a good three hours earlier than any nearby LBS, I was happy to shop there. Here's a picture:

I wonder if more hardware stores could/should default as de facto bike supply shops in areas that couldn't support a full bike shop. Obviously they wouldn't have the full value of a real LBS (you know, with the lack of bikes for sale and the lack of professional mechanics), but I think it'd be a good way to put bike stuff (tube, lube, chain cleaner, etc) in communities without bike shops. Of course, I'm not totally sure how many underserved communities are served by hardware stores, either.

Passed an SUV with a ROMNEY sticker by Lincoln Park. So you're that Republican in DC, I thought.

For much of the ride, I was mostly overwhelmed with feelings of agape. I can't say I've ever felt that while driving. Every tried to smile at each bicyclist I passed. I don't know if they were unsettled by my unrestrained happiness. Probably. On 11th Street, I even saw Ted, riding his Bikeshare in the opposite direction and I shouted a friendly hello. Honestly, DC isn't a big town, but I'm hardly a social person (there are hermits who get out more than I do) and yet, I'm constantly seeing people I know riding their bikes to and fro (this is not a Chocolate City reference).  Bicycles can simultaneously "extend the walk" and shrink the city. It's fantastic.

Crosstown and R and I was tripled-shoaled, but I didn't care since I soon passed two of the three and soon turned. I glanced at the new construction on 14th street and imagined the building five stories taller and how if they were all like that, no one would even notice. Sort of like how a 6'6'' basketball player is "short" only if he's playing power forward or center. It's all relative. I firmly believe that there would be no negative consequences if all of DC's nine story buildings sprouted three more stories. I mean, aside from the fact that our buildings are spontaneously sprouting, indicating their possible genetic manipulation by a mad scientist who spliced their i-beams with mushroom DNA.

The backend of the ride was peachy. Same good feelings about bicyclists, fewer bicyclists whom to creep out with my off-kilter smile.

At work, I found this. It's a bike repair stand.

I stumbled upon it totally accidentally. I'm glad to know that I now have the ability to "repair" my bike next to the Provost's office. I'm sure he'll be able to help me when I start haplessly wrenching stuff. It's at least a place to inflate the tires. There should be more bike repair stands. Maybe where there used to be phone booths.

At the end of the day (you're another day older?), it was an easy ride home on the normal route, made complicated by a flashing red light at the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin. No fewer than 8 lanes of traffic meet here and I was just a guy on a bike, so my position was somewhat precarious. My strategy at inoperable traffic lights is almost alway the same. Find a car, and be it's buddy. Get right next to it and go when it goes. Trick is to never act like a pedestrian. No one will yield. I might still be there if I waited for a driver to yield. I'd probably have a long gray beard and maybe a cane by the time I crossed the street. Where the cane came from, I couldn't tell you. Maybe I fashioned it from my bike or maybe I found a stick and whittled the cane used my bike multitool. I actually made it through the intersection pretty quickly and avoided much of the scorn and honking of frustrated drivers who were scorned and honked at by other frustrated drivers. I don't know if there's a technical term for this, but any system that can't handle a minor, tiny disruption without totally breaking down, doesn't seem like a reliable system.

Where Q meets Mass, I encountered a driver insisting that the NO TURN ON RED sign did not apply to him. I helpfully pointed out the sign. I didn't want him to get a ticket. Or crush me with his giant car. But mostly the ticket. His car had Georgia plates in the back and an Ontario plate in the front. Perhaps this was the cause of his confusion.

I've heard that drivers hate it when "bikers" weave in and out of traffic. Well, I wouldn't do so much weaving if they just stopped blocking intersections and bike lanes. I promise. I just don't feel especially compelled to act as if I'm transporting myself in a thousand cubic foot vehicle when I'm not. You chose power steering. I chose being able to go.

At 11th and Rhode Island, I passed a woman on a bike who talked into her cell phone about Dwight Howard. At 11th and Massachusetts, I watched a driver run two red lights, well after they turned red, after almost being right hooked himself by a van turning from the center lane. At 11th and L, I saw a woman in a car curse out a bus driver who stopped her bus's turn to allow an old lady to safely cross the street. At 11th and K, I pulled around in front of that bus. At 11th and New York, I blocked the crosswalk for a moment and I am sorry about that. At 11th and H, I decided that I would take the lane, but then soon abandoned it (around 11th and G) to get around some right turning cars. And 11th and F and 11th and E, there was a tete-a-tete with a taxi twice and I also allowed the driver of a black BMW to pull out of a parking garage in front of me as I waited for the light to change. At 11th and Pennsylvania, I turned left with the realization that all of the drivers I had seen looked fierce and miserable and I wonder if we shouldn't be paternalistic and "war on car"-sy and take away their keys for a while for their own health and well-being. I'm sure this thought makes me smug and self-righteous. At least I'm notworking my way towards an aneurysm from commute-related stress.

Not quite.
Leaning Bollard of Pisa
At the start of East Capitol, I saw none of than guest-poster Marc on mile 18 of his commute home from Northern Virginia. We rode along together and chatted and it was extraordinarily pleasant and I'll probably see him again at Friday Coffee Club tomorrow.

I rode down Mass on the other side of the park before realizing that I wanted to stop for beer on the way home and I turned north on 15th, crossed Independence and A and stopped on East Capitol at my local corner store. Therein I saw this guy with this backpack (allegedly from his paratrooper grandfather of World War II-World War II vintage):

And I saw these chips:
But when will they make catsup chips?

All in all, an exciting trip to the corner store. I biked home ample beer and I'm looking forward to one more day of commuting before a weekend in which I might ride to the suburbs in search of breakfast burritos.


Ride Home 7/18: Sloe Gin

What is the air speed velocity of an unladen sparrow? That's a famous question from a movie. The Birds, I think, which I believe was one of those Pixar movies of the early aughts. Unless you're telling me that Tippi Heddren is not digitally animated. Anyway, the answer to the that question is "assuredly faster than me on a CaBi trying to race a rainstorm."

I continually make poor decisions. I'm also not especially prudent. Both of these things are even further amplified when it comes to my bike commute. 100 degree heat? Meh, how hot could it be? I'll just bike. Thunderstorms? More like bike-der storms. (No, that makes no sense. Moving on.) Zombie hordes blocking my way? Could they be worse than your average driver? Anyway, you get the idea. I've never met an adverse condition I haven't been willing to stupidly ignore to bike through, especially if it's Ride Home commute. Some might ask if I do this just to have something to blog about, that I can keep the nine of you captive and interested and thereby continue to feed my ego with your attention. I'm not entirely sure that's the case. I'm pretty sure it's just that when it comes to bike commuting, I've just deluded myself that all other means of travel are onerous, frivolous, expensive or abjectly frustratingly miserable and somehow qualitatively worse than just riding a bike, which is just so darn fun. And for the most part, in most cases, I find this to be true. But today was different, mostly because I wasn't prepared.

I didn't have my own bike, or a jacket, or bike clothes or a hat or a dressage horse, but that last one is neither here nor there (because it's at the Olympics). I also didn't have a waterproof bag of any sort, nor a plastic bag that I could pretend was mostly waterproof. Even as the thunder rolled, I figured that I maybe could still probably make it home and if I got wet, it wouldn't be a big deal. I looked around my office, found a baseball cap (given to me as a going away present when I changed jobs.  That might tell you a little about why I changed jobs) and my office hoodie (everyone should have an office hoodie) and I took off my dress shirt and put on the hoodie and I ran for the Bikeshare while it still wasn't raining. No objective analysis would have indicated that it would have been possible for me to avoid the rain. But there was no time for objective analysis! I had to try to beat the rain!

Still had time to take a terrible self-portrait, mid-run. 
This is not a good look for me
To the Bikeshare, around Ward Circle and down Massachusetts and up the first hill. So far, no rain. Did my usual thing by taking the right travel lane and I was honked at by a lady driving a car with diplomatic plates. Hey lady, this is America and we're allowed to take the lane! Go back to whatever car loving, gas guzzling country you're from. USA! USA!

I shucked jingoism when I noticed the reflection of a lightning strike in the rear window of the cab of a black pickup truck. It looked like the kind of lightning strike you'd see in the drawn picture of a fourth grader portraying some kind of haunted castle.

I took to the sidewalk on the other side of the Observatory and I dodged one tree branch that was dangling precariously (and near vertically) from one of the trees along the path. I think that tree branches are an overlooked danger to bicyclists. If you ride near trees, wear a helmet or bring a small saw. Ideally, both.

Yet another car with diplomatic plates cut across my path at Whitehaven and then there was another CaBi rider who had stopped at Water Street to put his jacket on and I had to shuffle my bike past him and by this point, the rain had started in earnest and I was stuck in it. I revised downward my expectations of getting to Farragut West and decided to settle for the Dupont Circle Metro station, which was just a little farther up the road. I stuck to the sidewalk for a bit, until a fortuitous left-turning driver had managed to stop a bus from driving around him, opening up ample space for me to get back onto the road, which I promptly did. The driver turned, the bus approached, the driver honked at me,  and I ignored him. Once I rounded Sheriden Circle, the rain really, really started and I was worried about the contents of my bag, including my phone, getting wet, perhaps fatally. I think I've killed a phone through rain riding before, though I might not ever admit it.

I didn't get to the light at 20th NW in time and that was the first time that I had stopped since leaving work and that's where the rain really started to pour. Rather than be marginally patient, I used the congestion to make it halfway across the street and then I pushed the bike across the street, docked in front of a bank and then walked over to the Metro entrance. At the bottom of the escalator, crowds waited. It sort of reminded me of the refugees aboard the Battlestar Galactica in the show of the same name.

Here's proof that I took the Metro, just in case there are any sharrows truthers out there.

Trains with carpet. What is this, the Orient Express?
On the Metro, I realized that I was a wet, addled looking dude in a hooded sweatshirt and pulled down baseball cap. I'm glad I didn't get maced.

Walked home. Still managed two bike trips today. Continue to log your rides, so through our generosity, we may subsidize bike infrastructure in LA and Kansas City.

Guest Post: @TwoWheelsDC goes to British Columbia, American Alaska

I didn't think I would, but I did ride today. It was on a Bikeshare from the Metro to work. It was also only like a mile. Highlights included my CaBi's swiveling seat thanks to the adjustable clamp not closing tightly enough around the seat post. Frankly, this is more of a bonus feature than a problem. All bike seats should swivel. It's way more fun and/or poses a degree of difficulty if you're into that sort of thing. With regard to the ride itself, it was boring. It was hot. Still better than waiting for a bus. Bikeshare has the potential to be a real bus slayer, in a metaphorical transportation sense, not a literal "oh my god, that bike just smote a bus with a giant sword" sense. It's raining now, so I'm not totally sure if I'll ride home or take my chances with WMATA. If I ride, I'll write something up. After I wring myself out. Anyway, enough nonsense about me and my commute. (It's not like that's the whole premise of this blog or anything.) Friend of the blog, and previous guest-poster-er, Marc has been gracious enough to share yet more tales and pictures from yet another trip. One million thank yous and one million congratulations on your recent wedding!

Since I know Brian likes to take a break from his demanding gig as DC's 37th most popular bike blogger [Ed. Note: I don't. This is my only outlet for creativity. Now I'm gonna have to go paint a bowl of fruit or something], I thought I contribute some experiences and musings from my recent trip to the great Northwest.  My wife and I just got married a couple of weeks ago, and our honeymoon was an Alaska cruise that began in Vancouver.  Having heard that Vancouver is a wonderful place to be, my wife and I planned to get there a day early and explore.  Even though my wife isn't really into cycling, she sees its value/fun for sightseeing and knows she can indulge me at the same time, so she kills two birds with one stone.

The honeymoon actually included three bike trips, two in Vancouver at each end of our trip, and one in Juneau, Alaska.  I think Vancouver can teach us some valuable lessons about cycling infrastructure, so I figured I'd share my experiences there first.

First off...if you have any desire to leave DC, but do not have the means, do NOT visit Vancouver because you will forever be sad that you cannot move there yesterday.  It is amazing.  I won't get into it here, but it's probably the one truly northern place I could see myself moving to.  Given that it's a relatively hip town and basically an extension of the San Fran/Portland/Seattle cultural corridor, it's pretty progressive in its transportation policies.  Lots of mixed use high rises, good public transportation, noticeable lack of freeways (there's only one, and it just barely runs in the city limits), and of course, bike infrastructure.  I was very impressed with Vancouver's bike infrastructure, not just because of its scale, but a lot of the minor details are well thought out and the system isn't just an afterthought.

Although Vancouver doesn't have bikeshare (coming soon, maybe...mandatory helmet laws may be problematic though) it does have a ton of bike rental shops, so it's very easy to find a bike and go.  My wife and I stayed on the north side of downtown, which is right on Vancouver Harbor.  The downtown area is basically a peninsula, with a huge urban park (Stanley Park) at the tip.  This park is encircled by an MUP, which has separate paths for cyclists and peds.  The path is also supposed to be one way, so at no time do you have bikes or runners coming at you.

I married up, obviously

These should be posted on roads with sharrows, I think

Working up an appetite

Separate tracks for cyclists and peds
Bikes, ocean, mountains...that says it all

Within the city, there's a wide range of infrastructure, from bike lanes, to cycletracks, to green lanes, and they all get lots of use.

Morning rush hour downtown
There are a number of green lanes, but they seem to appear at random

No place is immune, I guess...

How do his arms not fall asleep when he rides?
Although this cycletrack was relatively short, I liked the way they made it separated by the planters

Vancouver has a nice grid pattern, making for looong bike lanes
This bridge has separated bike lanes in both directions, as well as a sidewalk
Removing two traffic lanes doesn't seem to have caused congestion here
I mentioned earlier that Vancouver paid attention to little details with their bike infrastructure...even things as simple as street signs.  If you look closely at the below pic, you'll see that there's a bike symbol on the street sign above the intersection, signifying that there's a bike lane on the cross street.

I think the neatest thing I saw were these bike "turn lanes".  They weren't at every intersection, but I saw them in several places where two major bike routes intersected.  I love how they keep turning bikes from interfering with the pedestrian crossings and the curb cuts for handicap access.

Although Vancouver has some actual green lanes (see photos above), the green paint seems to be reserved mostly for when the major bike lanes cross intersections.  I think this is a great way to help minimize right hooks, as it gives drivers a visual cue that takes up more of their line of sight.

I think Vancouver also has some great lessons on development...build it, and people will come.  They have a shitload of shoreline, and what's not parkland has been developed with paths, gardens, marinas, public markets, and the like.  Seriously, I saw very little of the shoreline that did not encourage people to use the space.  I think we're getting there with the SW and SE waterfronts, but it's an investment well worth making

This is a typical scene from just about anywhere along the downtown shoreline.
Does anyone know what the the "ideal" bike rack is, according to LAB or WABA or whoever?  I gotta say, I think these are pretty damn close.  They fit tons of bikes and make it very easy to lock the frame and front wheel.  These seem to be the standard rack Vancouver uses...I don't remember seeing a lot of the inverted U racks.

Highlighting the development issue, one of the coolest places in Vancouver is Granville Island.  It's a small island with a bridge running over it, but instead of letting it become the typical underpass, it was turned into a public market/family area/artists enclave/high end shopping district.  You can't see it that well in this photo, but it's the area in the center of the photo.

Covered bike parking at Granville Island public market.

In Vancouver, we boarded our ship and headed off for Alaska.  Instead of paying the cruise ship an exorbitant amount of money for shore excursions, we arranged our own.  We noticed the ship offered a bike ride up to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, and we found out that we could easily rent bikes and ride up their on our own, since the glacier is right outside town.  For the ship excursion, I think it was like $125 a person, and a shuttle took you within about 3 miles of the glacier and they let you ride from there.  We rented bikes for like $40 a person for the whole afternoon and rode 25 miles round trip from Juneau to Mendenhall glacier, squeezing in a stop at a local brewery for free samples.  So yeah, I think our self-made excursion probably was better.

On the ship, our assigned dinner seats were with another early 30s couple who were pretty into biking and outdoors stuff, who had not made any plans for Juneau.  We invited to come along on the bike ride and they were more than happy to join.  The folks at Cycle Alaska were super accommodating and were able to find bikes for our new friends on short notice.  If you ever find yourself in Juneau, stop by and say hi.  They even told us we could lock the bikes up outside the shop if we weren't back by closing time, at no extra charge.  Freaking awesome folks.

I was a little wary of the route from Juneau to Mendenhall, since I didn't picture Alaska as a cyclists paradise.  However, it turns out that the route is all bike laned or MUPd.  Even in the spots where we rode in the road, like making left turns or whatever, the drivers were very patient and no one honked or revved their engine or anything.  There may have been some slightly drunk cycling going on after the brewery stop that may have resulted in some dumb cycling, but even then, the Alaska drivers were super nice.  We also saw way more cyclists than I anticipated...all kinds of folks ranging from roadies to locals running errands.  I think cycling, in addition to appealing to the urban, progressive types, also is the arena of the rugged individualist types you find in places like Alaska...or maybe I'm just full of shit, I don't know.  But I think we'd be wise to remember that there are cyclists on both sides of the aisle, even if it doesn't always seem that way.

Bike lane and sidewalk!
Bike to a glacier...that's Alaska for you
Lots of MUP action
Biking with 30 pounds of camera gear is uh, not easy