Ride In 9/26

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


  1. I second your cross-town concerns times a million. I ride from Convention Centerish to Rosslyn and back every day. While I'm now a pro at M st mornings and L st afternoons, I would never recommend them to any beginning bike commuter - or cyclist in general.

    Congrats on the new house!

  2. The riverfront path from the fish market (well, the Jenny's parking lot) to the Titanic Memorial and Fort McNair is a nice way to bike across much of Southwest while avoiding Maine Avenue and M Street.

  3. I hear your frustrations about East-West routes, but I've found that cutting in front of the White House and then picking Pennsylvania up again on the other side typically works great. From 17th to M Street, the street is way over-built for the amount of traffic it serves, and the extra-wide outside/parking lane offers plenty of semi-dedicated space for bikes.

    (Also, of all the circles, Washington seems to be one of the smoothest for bike mingling with cars, as the cars can't really figure out where they want to go anyway). Four months, and I haven't been honked at yet.