7/29/15

Rides 7/29: I'm not a magician, Roger

I dedicate this blog post to DE and his/her misguided quest to try to get this blog to 36th in the rankings. It's not gonna happen, but I appreciate the effort.

Has anyone ever noticed how it gets hot in the summer and people complain about it all the time because it's really something to complain about because it's awful and then other people complain about the complainers because they're like 'what did you expect, it's summer, deal with it' and other people ask rhetorical questions about noticing this in the first place because he has no other way to start the text of the blog post? It's too hot, even in the morning.

Do you like foreign tourists like the National Mall? I sort of wonder. I'm not sure if my continued underwhelmedness is a result of familiarity, but I try to be objective about these things and I don't know if I'd really be impressed by the space, if let's say, I was comparing it to other famous-y, tourist-y national-y spaces. Yes, the Capitol is quite impressive, as is the Monument and the Lincoln, but would they be any less impressive on a slide show? I just don't know. I ride through the space everyday and I just feel, I don't know, ennui-y about it. Remind me to accost a foreigner about this some time. Some time before it's all underwater. Then I'd have to ask the scuba tourists and it'd involve all kinds of pointing and hand gestures and that sounds complicated. Unless the underwater tourists are dolphins and then it'd be all EEEEK EEEEK EEEEEK and like, how the heck am I supposed to make any sense of that? I don't even think they'd even get the idea of a Reflecting Pool. The dolphins tourists would simply not get it.

Yeah, it's been one of those kinds of days.

I might've Cat 6-ed a yamulked CaBist on M Street. If so, I dropped him before Washington Circle, a circle so bad that George Washington ranks it even more embarrassing to his reputation than the Battle of Brooklyn Heights. Why did L'Enfant hate cars so much? Why?

Piazza della Casa Biancha (fun fact: I have no idea if that's actually Italian, a language that I only know from pizza menus and Nintendo games) was closed so I went to H Street to 15th and then took G Street across town to 11th to E and then up and around Columbus Circle, a circle so bad that Christopher Columbus ranks it even more embarrassing to reputation than assuming the New World. Why did McMillan hate cars so much? Why?

7/28/15

Rides 7/28: Cosmonaut Ice Cream

Every time they install a new bike lane in DC, I try to ride there and check it out. It's especially easy when it's on my part of town and pretty much along my commute route and so this morning, I checked out the new bike lane from Independence Avenue to East Capitol on the backside of the Library of Congress. It was...fine. It doesn't really connect to much, but neither did the electrical grid when it was just Thomas Edison. Sure, let's go with that.

Books thataway man

After that, I decided I'd take the long way to work and ride the Capital Crescent Trail and count all the bicyclists riding into town as I rode from it. I try to do it under my breath but sometimes I slip up and I'm sure I've confused more than one Bethesdan by calling him "37." Today, I counted 97 cyclists between the entrance to the CCT and the staircase at Manning Place. I also counted 1 Eliptigo-ist.

You ever so gassed that you're convinced that you've got a rear flat but it's actually just that you're slow and it's hot and your legs aren't especially up to the challenge of making it up a not-very-daunting hill? Yeah, me neither and especially not this morning.

I didn't wear a helmet today. Sometimes I do.

I apologize for the following rant, which I'll try to keep matter-of-fact, so far as rants go.

On the 1400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, there's a cycletrack that runs down the middle and this is the site of many illegal u-turns. All but two of the blocks on Pennsylvania Avenue have recently gained parking stops and these serve as barriers to prevent (or strongly discourage) illegal u-turns. The 1300 and 1400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue don't have them. For reasons. (I'm not going to speculate and even if you think you know, unless you know you know, then you might not want to either.) I don't see a lot of u-turns taking place on the blocks that have the barriers. In fact, I don't think I've seen one u-turn over the barriers, though some of the barriers have shown some wear that indicate that they've been run into or over, though perhaps just from regular careless driving and not intentional u-turns. I don't know. Here's a picture of some of the barriers that aren't installed on the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue but are installed on all the other blocks:


Caption by author
On the 1400 block, one of the blocks where there aren't barriers, I see illegal u-turns a lot. I wouldn't say that I see them every day, but I see them most days and that's just for the minute in the afternoon that I happen to be riding along there. There was a protest about the lack of barriers recently along this block and the protesters witnessed and recorded many u-turns and the u-turns were such that even the police officers along this stretch felt compelled to issue tickets to some of the drivers doing this patently illegal thing. Today, I witness another u-turn, a u-turn that happened behind me, and only because I moved forward some because I'm not going to stand in the way of a driver looking to do something stupid. I'm sorry- I'm just not really disposed to do it. The best part of this affair and by best, I mean worst, is that the driver honked at me to get out of his way so he could make the u-turn. The cyclist behind me told him to fuck off and that it was illegal. He made the u-turn behind her. She told me that she's seen someone hit by an illegal u-turn and that she sees illegal u-turns everyday. I told her that I do too.

This is an anecdote.

Apropos of nothing, here's some words I read somewhere:

Vision Zero strategies will be informed by a systematic data and information-driven process that identifies and prioritizes interventions with the greatest potential to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries.
Unrelated to anything, here's a cat.


7/27/15

Rides 7/27: predictions of nostalgia

I had a bit of a cold this weekend and this morning I wasn't up to biking the whole way to work so rather than skip work entirely (allegedly, that's why I'm paid money every morning and not due to some residuals from my endorsing a Korean soda. Turns out they didn't even want my endorsement and keep tellin me to stop calling. No way man!) I biked to Union Station to take the Metro to work. Then at the other end of the trip, rather than bike to the office, I took the shuttle bus the less than a mile. I almost never take the shuttle bus because, for the most part, I always have legs and if you have legs you can pretty much always bike slightly less than a mile across flat terrain, even in a post-sick stupor. But today, I took the bus. And the traffic light was flashing at a key intersection and the bus was stuck in traffic [cue Alanis] as drivers mostly patiently (mostly) navigated their way through the four-way intersection. 

I opted to take Bikeshare home (the whole way) in the afternoon since I went well enough and the weather was unatrocious summery following some thoroughly nasty thunderstorms. A slow Bikeshare commute is a true urban joy. Something about those bikes (the girth? The weight? The gearing?) just makes you want to take it easy and so I did, rolling down the usual route over towards 15th Street and past the White House. By the Treasury Department, a police officer stood on the sidewalk, ticket pad out, likely ready to issue tickets to cyclists who fail to stop at the red light by the entrance to the White House. I believe a few things simultaneously: 

1. Don't run a red light in front of a police officer if you don't want to risk getting a ticket. 
2. Cyclists should yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. 
3. There are probably better places to enforce against these kinds of things than this location (places where the likelihood of a crash is higher).
4. This has nothing to do with Vision Zero and anyone who tells you it does is a huckster and a fraud. 
5. Going through a red light in a bidirectional protected cycletrack at a T intersection that is utterly devoid of pedestrians shouldn't be a crime and the Council should fix that because it's pretty silly. Think Paris. 
6. Overly legalistic approaches are doubtful to really change cyclist behavior, if that's actually the goal and the goal isn't just to punish people. 
7. Sorry tourists who inevitably got caught up in this. 
8. This isn't the biggest issue in the world and probably didn't deserve all these enumerated points, but I just love enumerating points so much and that's yet another reason why the makers of Milkis need to stop deleting my emails. Delicious, delicious Milkis: the official soft drink of the 37th most popular local DC bike blogger whether they want it to be or not. 

7/26/15

Rides 7/23 and Rides 7/24: latergram

On Thursday morning when I was walking the dogs, I found some keys in the trash can around the corner. They weren't on top of the trash, but somehow hooked inside and were dangling above the trash. I wondered if someone had found the keys on the street and hung them up there in the hope that whoever dropped them would eventually work their way over to the can and see them dangling there. Better than leaving them in the street, I thought, but I was certain I could do better because the keys had next to them a Bikeshare fob and the Bikeshare fob had a member number and I hoped that if I contacted the good folks at Bikeshare, they could then contact the owner of the missing keys and long story short, there'd probably be a parade in my honor and they'd probably name some downtown square after me because of my epic heroism. Self-aggrandizement aside, I assumed that the keys likely belonged to one of my nearby neighbors and it seemed like a neighborly thing to do and at low cost to my time and effort.

The plan proceeded apace and I contacted Bikeshare and they contacted the owner and gave the owner my info and the owner contacted me and we set up a time to meet so I could give the keys back. We did that and the keys were reunited, mostly thanks to Bikeshare helping out. So, among the other amazing things that Bikeshare does is reunite people with their lost stuff, so if you've lost anything recently just call Bikeshare and they'll probably find it for you. Guaranteed. What was sort of strange about the whole key thing, though, is that the owner is the keys 1) lost them about 10 days ago and 2) when asked where I found them, didn't even know where the street was, didn't live anywhere nearby, doesn't work anywhere nearby, doesn't commute anywhere nearby, and hadn't been through the area recently, if at all. The owner likewise didn't mentioned getting robbed or thieved or pickpocketed recently, so it's still something of a mystery of how the keys were lost and how the keys found their way to being found by me on the other side of town from where the owner lives and works. Were they stolen and then thrown out after the thief tried to open a few random doors not exactly knowing how keys work? Were they planted by Bikeshare just so they could show off their key re-uniting prowess? I don't know. Could be anything, really. Except the Bikeshare stealing thing because that sounds pretty implausible and also Bikeshare is about sharing and not stealing. So far.

Another thing that happened to me on Thursday afternoon, on my way to reuniting the keys with their owner, was that a guy behind me, also on a bike, twice (TWICE!) bumped his front wheel into my rear one after the rider in front of me didn't immediately get going at the green light. I don't think it was on purpose or anything, but he didn't even apologize! Come on, guy. Not cool.

Friday I went into work around midday and I remember very little of that ride, nor the ride that took me home at the end of the workday around 5. If you saw me then and remember anything about how it was or how I acted, please leave that information in the comments.

Gear Prudence is about cycling while phoning (generally, don't) and the ethics of patronizing businesses that aren't bike friendly. There's a woman on my commute who almost everyday uses this time to make a phone call (she uses headphones) and it seems fine and all, except whenever she pulls up behind me, I always think she's taking to me and then I turn around like 'excuse me?' and then I realize she's talking on the phone and I'm like 'oh.' So, that's another reason why maybe you shouldn't talk on the phone: so some narcissistic bike weirdo doesn't turn around and accost you under the mistaken belief that you're talking to him. A small, but consequential, benefit, I'm sure.

7/22/15

Ride 7/22: circle of circuses

I took the Ogre. On one hand, it felt slow. On the other hand, it wasn't any slower than usual. Perception is much more real than reality sometimes, though it's possible that my time to work on the heavier bike remained consistent due to an increased effort to compensate. Newton never proposed a Law of Conversation of Bike Commute Time and this falls squarely on his shoulders for also not inventing the bicycle a couple hundred years early. Sure, we got calculus and that's fine I guess, but just think how much different the the War of Jenkins' Ear would have gone if the troops had bicycles! Just think! This is the counterfactual historical fiction that I want to read. My tastes, perhaps, are peculiar in this regard.

There's construction along the Rock Creek Parkway between the Lincoln Memorial and the Kennedy Center. It's road resurfacing season. It's not parking meter installation season, though once upon a time, NPS promised that parking meters would be installed in various locales around the Mall, but I don't think I've heard anything about this for months and months, so who knows. You probably wait until winter to install parking meters anyway. One more summer season of free parking says Uncle Sam. But, please let them be in before Cherry Blossoms. It'll help add some semblance of order to the whole affair. Between parking meters and the new Mall circulator, it's almost as if the attitude towards cars is changing. Almost.

 My bike makes a period clicking sound when I pedal. Also, the chain keeps falling off. I wonder if these two things are related. I'll let you know when I write about the calamity that eventually befalls in, I don't know, a few days? A week? Tales from the Sharrows: your go-to source for avoidable bike problems that weren't avoided.

On the ride home, I saw this guy on L who rode a Bikeshare bike alongside another bike with a flat tire. It was an impressive feat.

2 Bikes 2 Furious

Like, really impressive. And what make it more so wasn't just that he ghosted this flat tire bike while riding another one, but that he was able to zig and zag through the mixing zones in between cars blocking his way while guiding both bikes through pretty narrow spaces. I can barely do this with one bike! I even saw him pass another bicyclist! This is some next level stuff. There are amazing people in this world and some of them ride bicycles.