Ride In 11/30: Bertrand Russell and Bill Russell

It's getting to be more likely than not that I'm going to run into someone I know on one of my bike commutes. This morning, it was once again Adam and we rode together on the not yet fully repainted Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track for a couple of blocks before he turned up 4th or 5th street, I don't recall which. Thereafter, I rode mostly by myself, with the exception of the time I almost rode into the guy who was standing in the middle of the lane, waiting to cross the street against the light. I fumbled in my thick winter gloves and I couldn't get my ding on. Panicked, and somehow made mute, I swerved to the other side of the bike lane, avoiding this most mundane of collisions, a crash I very much didn't need on account of still feeling the effects of my crash earlier this week. I'm a bit sore, mostly in the lower back, but it's nothing major. It hasn't stopped me from biking, so it can't be that bad.

The stoplight by the entrance to the Reagan building has been rotated and now the arrows make no sense. I'm worried that due to CONFUSION drivers will turn right and drive across Freedom Plaza, in spite of the lack of road there.

Right arrow green

Speaking of confusion, my radio interview aired today. I sounded confused. Sort of. I remain rather positive about the L Street Cycle Track because, realistically, the vast majority of users (cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, llamas- I just assume llamas used L Street. Or maybe they use LL Street) seem to have no problem negotiating the bike lane and certainly any problems related to CONFUSION will abate over time as people get used to the lanes. There will be a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting  for the cycle track on Tuesday. Thereafter, I would suggest that any reference to CONFUSION should be excised from any coverage of the bike lane.

There is inauguration-related construction going on in front of the White House and it's creating something of a hazard for the many bicyclists and pedestrians who use the route to get from 15th to 17th street. I'm glad that they're keeping the area open (closed roads are the worst), but beware the backhoes.

Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee and afterward, I rode G Street until Virginia Avenue. G Street is a remarkably pleasant street and it's unfortunately marred by housing the entrances to many highly secure parking garages (mostly associated with the World Bank and IMF) and this creates car back-ups and this impacts bike commuters, like me and the guy on the road bike who rode in front of me from 18th to 20th. G Street is a one-way street through FoBo (I'm trolling) and though I think it's supposed to have two lanes for car traffic, with the car parking on both sides of the street, it really seems too narrow for that. Traffic doesn't move that fast, so it's a pretty good street for biking. It also dumps you out on Virginia Avenue, which connects to the Rock Creek trail, so that seems vaguely convenient for some people.

I rode past the Watergate Exxon this morning. RIP.

K Street to Wisconsin to a burning sensation in my legs and lungs and a recurring discomfort in the small of my back where the glassware holding my lunch dug with each lateral sway caused by my out-of-seat stomping on the pedals. I turned left at M and right at 33rd. I have really positive connotations of Georgetown in late fall and early winter (not totally sure why) and I really recommend that you take some time during the cold weather to ride the bike lane on 33rd street through the really charming residential neighborhood. The hill is as gentle as the Georgetown gentry is genteel. Make of that what you will.

At Q, I rode 35th and then to R and then to 36th to T to 37th. 37th was beset by at least two assholes, that I saw at least, who saw the need to speed their cars and rev their engines and drive maniacally. It made me kind of sad.

The wheezing portion of my trip began in earnest on Tunlaw and continued through the steady climb on New Mexico. To say that I was as slow as molasses is to insult molasses. It had been a while since I'd taken New Mexico to work and I had forgotten how much this hill disagrees with me (The hill and I will engage in a series of debates on the Kansas-Nebraska Act). I made it, but I wasn't in the best of ways when I got to the top. But I much prefer ruddy cheeked and runny nosed (Runnymede?) winter biking arrivals to the sopping sweaty summer ones. Or at least that's what I'll be telling myself for the next few months until it gets warm again.


Ride In 11/29 & Ride Home 11/29: Wells Farrago

I'm knackered. Just worn out. Maybe it's from the falling down. I was tired this morning and I'm tired now. Too tired, just like my bike. Before I left work tonight, a fellow bike commuter suggested that it was almost time to don the "face masks" on account of the cold and presumably some harmful, 12 Monkeys-like viral outbreak. I suggested that perhaps this wouldn't be necessary until December, which is next week. Also, since I normally ride wearing a Jason-style hockey goalie face mask (drivers don't mess with me), my face tends to stay warm no matter the weather.

This morning, I took East Capitol with the intention of riding Pennsylvania Avenue with the intention of seeing whether the cycle track had been repainted. At 6th, I ran into Dave and Kid O, who have become regulars on this blog and also regulars on the commute. We rode together, the three of us, down through the Capitol grounds and out to Pennsylvania through the not-quite-painted Pennsylvania Avenue and we chitted and we chatted and I interrupted yet again some precious moments of father-daughter bike commute bonding. They left me around 7th and I kept going and soon enough I find myself not only where the bike lanes used to be but were no longer, but instead where the bike lanes used to be and now are again.

First, they were just a unofficially there.

Then, they were officially there:

Good to see you again, white lines in the middle of the road.

They didn't pave the part of Penn on the west side of 14th. Accordingly, not only is the old bike lane there, but so are the bollards.


There are plenty of bollards left on 15th. There are also plenty of surly Secret Service types, one of whom told me to get on the sidewalk when I tried to ride down Madison Place. I'm glad that in obliging him I played a small part in keeping our President and country safe. WHERE'S MY PARADE?

It's been a while since I've taken 15th north. It still goes north. South, too. It's like a bike lane swing state.

R to Massachusetts and I spent some time whistling, but I know not what I whistled. I mostly remember just feeling tired and thinking how I want a closer commute and an opafiets and to never ride up a hill ever again, even though on most days, I savor my commute.

I did savor my evening commute and I didn't even fall down, not even a little. At Idaho, some jerk lady nearly ran me off the road, totally unaware that she was doing it and I think that says a lot about some of the problems associated with driving. There was lots of car traffic on Massachusetts and then again on 23rd and even a little on L, but the problems of cars aren't necessarily my problems and I wended as I wanted and picked my way through the morass, surely and safely. And slowly, as I was knackered.

I biked a perfect on L Street. "Biking a perfect" is the hot new phrase that all the hip bike commuter bloggers are using to describe when you get through a stretch of road where you might could expect problems, but then don't experience any because everyone is very well-behaved and follows the rules and doesn't sklomp everything up. (Sklomp might not be a real word, but the Official Wife and I use it and you can probably figure out what it means from context). Anyway, I encourage you to celebrate when you bike a perfect, because it's a real accomplishment. It's like winning a game of backgammon. I've written this before, but it's worth repeating (mostly because you can't stop me. It's my blog and I'm repeat what I want, darn it! You may skip ahead): backgammon is an excellent metaphor for bike commuting because you're not just competing against someone else, like in chess and checkers, but because you're also competing, so to speak, against chance. You get the dice rolls you get and you have to do the best you can with you got. Bike commuting might also be like these other board games: Trouble, Sorry, Hungry Hungry Hippos (if you bike home without eating lunch) and, uh, Battleship, assuming you bike down by the Navy Yard, I guess.

11th to Pennsylvania. Almost all the bike lanes are painted, except for maybe one or two blocks. Maybe they'll be in tomorrow.

There was a very earnest CaBi-ist in front of me for a while and he was earnest and he wore khakis and dress shoes and was probably in his 20s but looked 17.

I forgot to mention that I saw on the street, but didn't pick up, a New Orleans Saints beer coozy. Street loot is the best.

My legs felt great about six blocks from home. It was groovy. I stopped at The Cupboard (15th and East Capitol, and the official convenience store of #TFTS) for milk and beer. The milk was whole and the beer was bottled. I barely had room in my bag, but I made it work, and I made it from work to home in two blocks and two minutes later.


Ride Home 11/28: Phoenix

I crashed my bike. I'm ok. Here's what happened. But first, on crashing:

The connotations and after effects of falling off your bike are quite negative, but the sensation itself is really quite pleasant. There's an element of surprise and then you're floating, floating through the air, and you're weightless and it'd be rather quite fun, did it not end so quickly and end so...gravitationally.

I was riding down Massachusetts, having left work maybe two minutes earlier. I was in the right lane and I was following another cyclist. He was riding slowly, with parked cars to his right and moving cars to his left. He was in the door zone and he was riding quite slowly. "What I jackass," I thought. "Riding so slowly down this wonderful hill- such a waste." And then, I hit this:

Concrete block
It's maybe 3 inches by 4 inches and an inch thick. My Brompton didn't even stand a chance. I went down, right thigh first, following by right hand, then bum and that was pretty much all of my that felt the need to fall down. One of the advantages of a folding bicycle is that it's pretty close to the ground, so there's less far to fall. I've taken a spill off the Brompton before, but this was the first time I ended up on the road. To the best of my knowledge, I remained fully within the right lane. I got up, raised my left arm in salute and I "I'm okay-ed" myself to the driver of the gold Prius who had stopped behind me after I had fallen. Nothing wrong with my bike, except for this chain issue:

I wasn't totally sure how the rear derailleur of the Bromtpon worked, but I figured it out and I was soon enough on my way.

In short, this situation was something of a perfect storm for a bike crash. I was hemmed in between parked cars and moving cars. There was a cyclist in front of me, so I didn't have a clear view of the road ahead. It was dusk, the duskiest time of day, when visibility tends to be the worst. And I hit the concrete and I went down, but then I got back up and everything is fine. These things happen, I guess, and I'm glad this didn't happen when I was riding much faster as the consequences would have been far worse. I sort of ripped the palms of my gloves and I might have a tiny scuff on a pair of khakis. My coat needs dusting, but I'll leave that to one of my footmen. But overall, I'm no worse for wear and this isn't going to be a seminal moment in my biking life THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING. Except maybe I'll get a tattoo on my back of the image of the concrete slab surrounded by Gothic script letters spelling CLOD LIFE.

Down Massachusetts to the sidewalk at Water Street and then back on the street before Sheriden Circle than back on the sidewalk on 23rd than back on the street before P and then back on the sidewalk at N and back on the street when I turned left on L and then one block later, I was in the cycle track and the commute thereafter went totally swimmingly, especially the part when I was in the cycle track, and aside from one parked Metro Access van (this is a recurring thing now), there was nary a problem, except for maybe a lack of taco stands on the north side of L Street because I would have really liked to stop for a taco, not because I was hungry but because I tend to turn to Mexican foods following minor, biked-related personal trauma. Each flat tire, I eat an empanada. Que lastima! Que deliciosa!

Eleventh Street looks way classier than 11th Street, but since both streets are the same street, they look exactly the same and tonight, the sameness include a pickup truck that cut me off and buses belching fumes and one BMW SUV with an Obama 2012 sticker driven by a woman who saw no need to not drive on the wrong side of the street to get to the left turn only lane at E. I rode E and I saw Chewy abike (like afoot?), wished him well, and then at the next block, I encountered Dave and Kid O, heroes of the #stoputurnsonpenn movement and I stopped and talked and relived my silly bike crash and I cursed in front of a kid and oh well. And I showed the folding and unfolding mechanism of the Brompton and I wished them well and then rode down E and at one point four cyclists congregated at a light and two shoaled and then I chased the two shoalers down and then one of them turned off and soon the other one was on the sidewalk, but then he was behind me, wheelsucking, in Columbus Circle and I decided to see what would happen if I tried to go fast and I tried and then he wasn't there but that was probably because he went a different way because I'm pretty sure I saw him again as he rode in front of me where Maryland Avenue meets C Street NE and then I was riding behind a totally different guy and I followed that guy down Massachusetts and around Lincoln Park and then at the intersection of East Capitol and Massachusetts, where there's a sign that tells drivers to yield to bicyclists, there was no yield undertaken by the driver of a rather too large black Land Rover and if this is what it means to be land roving, I shall have none of it, though, technically, he didn't need to yield to me since we were both veering right, but were I not veering, then I would have been in a heap of trouble, or maybe just in a heap. but all's well that ends well.

Ride In 11/28: Pictures of Baby Koalas

I was off work this morning and initially I hadn't planned to ride in, but then I remembered that I had a folding bicycle and a relatively easy ride to a Metro station, so I bookended two rides around a Metro trip. This allowed me to ride a little and also not muss myself up too much or have to change clothes and maybe even save some travel time in the trip between home and work. So, I set off towards Union Station to pick up the train (not literally- trains are heavy and unlike a certain Kryptonian, I am not more powerful than a speeding, or idling, locomotive. You have won, Kryptonian.) and off I went along the usual way I go to work now that the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track is temporarily out of commission.

Very little bike traffic on the streets at 11:30. Still plenty of car traffic, especially between Stanton Park and Union Station. That stretch of road needs paving.

Here's the place where trucks illegally park on First NE. And here's a useful comment by Xavier.

There is no access point for cars to use First NE. In fact, I'm pretty sure there are signs that still indicate the road is one-way. So, I wonder if that double yellow line should even be there. I think this "problem" (it's not really a problem. Just a sort of confusing) could be solved by expediting the installation of the bollard section of the First Street cycle track from Columbus Circle to K Street. I write this wistfully and on the off-chance that the installers of cycle tracks (who I assume are magical leprechauns) are reading. I think at that point, we can just turn First back into a one-way street.

On the train, a man asked me how many minutes it takes me to "make" the bicycle again. "Minutes?" I accidentally scoffed with the handmade anglophilic hauteur that comes free with the purchase of a Bromtpon, "It takes only a couple of seconds." He asked if the bike was heavy and after I rolled it over to allow him to left it, we both agreed that it's sort of heavy. Not as heavy as a locomotive, but still, a little heavy. Otherwise, the train trip was uneventful.

I was very glad that the escalator at Tenleytown was working. At least the long one was. I rode down Wisconsin, turned right onto Nebraska and ended up behind two guys in neon yellow shirts, with the words STREET TEAM written across their backs. Not sure what kind of STREET TEAM they were, but one was on a CaBi and the other had a bicycle trailer that had bike pumps bungeed to the top of a plastic, lidded bin.

Nebraska Avenue was easy, Ward Circle was easy, and working a half day from the office was relatively easy. Huzzah for ease.

Ride Home 11/27: Goldenrod

Another edition in "Everything you didn't want to know about my bike commute, but were afraid to ask." I have holes on the index fingers on my thin gloves, both on the left and right hands, that have developed in the same exact place. They holes have developed at the spot where my index fingers rub against the brake levers when I'm riding with my hands on the hoods. Holey gloves aren't great, but I plan to keep wearing them until they completely unravel or it gets cold enough to switch to heavier gloves. I do not know if I can write this off this wear and tear on my taxes. (I can't)

Massachusetts to 23rd to L. I rarely ever make it down 23rd without at some point switching over to ride on the sidewalk. I might abandon 23rd as a route when the New Hampshire Avenue construction ends and bike lanes are there installed. So, March 2014. Stay tuned! I'm sure we're all very much looking forward to my complaining about it for the next 16 months!

I was so close to a "perfect game" when riding on L. No one was parked in the lane and it was 100% on mixing zones almost the entire way, but then at 13th, with only one block to go, I saw my first driver make a left from the center lane. One of these days, I'll make the 10 blocks without seeing any shenanigans, but it hasn't happened yet. Nonetheless, it's gotten way better than the first couple of weeks (especially with the turns) and I encourage you to ride it if you haven't yet. So, just as the second Death Stay wasn't fully completed but still had a fully armed and operational superlaser, so the L Street cycle track lacks some elements (bike boxes, mostly) but is totally usable, and to my mind, pretty darn safe. The one part that I find a little sketchy is having to squeeze between the turning left cars and the going straight cars at intersections. There's definitely not three feet on either side, so go slow. Or go fast while tilting your head back and screaming "FREEDOM!" while wearing blue face paint because that might also do the trick or at least clear the way a bit.

One more thing about L Street: I'd like to thank the pedestrians for making it work. Almost all of them wait on the curb rather than standing in the bike lane and that's immensely appreciated and it really makes a big difference.

L to 11th, parts of which have been repaved, and then in a fit of forgetfulness/cheekiness, I took myself left onto Pennsylvania Avenue and its currently unstriped cycle track. WARNING: This was sort of dumb and you shouldn't do it. The bike lanes will be back in a couple of weeks.

It reminded me of a bowling alley. I rode right down the middle, keeping as much lateral distance between the cars and me as possible.

See? They'll be back soon.
Don't worry- the lack of bike lanes didn't prevent a taxi driver from making a u-turn.

I followed another cyclist up Capitol Hill and down East Capitol and I might have been too much to his rear wheel and I apologize if it seemed like I was lurking.

This is hazardous.

There's a bike lane under those leaves

I think I should bring a rake with me on every ride. Were I to start a raking service, it'd be called "Rakes with Rakes." There are certainly enough men with mustaches about to staff it. At least until the weekend.


Ride In 11/27: Whittle While You Work....as a Professional Whittler!

Tomorrow, Mayor Vincent Gray will clarify that u-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue Cycle Track are, in fact, illegal. At roughly, the same time, I will be emerging from a fighter jet in a flight suit under a banner that reads "Mission Accomplished" or maybe "Family Love Michael." Coincidentally, last night I had a dream in which I saw Mayor Gray down by Nats Park and I told him that I was going to support him in 2014 because he's done a pretty good job, except for that one thing. In my dream, he wryly smiled and repeated "Yeah, that one thing." No more DeBonis before bed, I guess. I don't want to claim to have some kind of cosmic psychic connection to the mayor because that would be a crazy thing to assert and would reveal me to be a complete and total coot, so instead I'll just allow this sentence to trail off.

As you can almost tell from this picture, Union Station reconstruction is somewhat progressing!

I think the next step might be to replace the dirt pit with grass or maybe even a paved plaza or maybe we keep the dirt pit and get some sweet dune buggies because who wouldn't want to race dune buggies after a long Amtrak trip?

A bunch of trucks parked on the wrong side of the street on First NE.

Dunbar? More like dun wrong.
Yes, I get that it's more convenient to park on the wrong side of the street, but really? This seems especially brazen. And it makes it especially craptacular for a cyclist coming from Columbus Circle, unless of course, the cyclist in question loves to be forced into salmoning into oncoming car traffic, most of which is shuttle buses and taxis. There are two things about this: 1) it used to be one way. Here's an old of the street. Noted the white dashes. (White Dash was also the name of the signature cologne of 1936 Olympics bronze medalist, Tinus Osendarp)

View Larger Map

But times, they have changed and now there's yellow lines. Secondly, I'm pretty sure that car traffic doesn't or can't use First NE going in that direction. Maybe drivers will get to use it when Columbus Circle is done, but I'm pretty sure it's just bikes for now. So, there's no other real constituency, and certainly not one that comes frequently enough or is weighty enough, to get these truck drivers to park somewhere else. How will the cycle track impact all this? I don't know.

Turns out that I bike on R Street from First Street NE to 23rd Street NW, which is more than two miles. That's two miles every morning. And I have virtually nothing to say about it.

Roads were a bit slick this morning, so I made sure to go nice and slow. Science suggests that it takes longer to come to a complete stop on a wet road, but science suggests a lot of stuff. Science might as well be called Suggesty Pete. In any case, be careful on wet roads. It would be silly to fall down because you were riding too quickly on a wet road and it would be especially silly to ride into the back of someone or something because you couldn't come to a complete stop. Also silly? Pies to the face.

I see a lot of the same people every day, especially on Massachusetts, and I just want to issue a blanket hello for all the times I haven't said hello when we've passed each other before. It's like we know each other.

Yes, sometimes, I am the guy yelling "stop" at drivers for trying to bully pedestrians out of a crosswalk. They should stop. This happens most frequently near the end of my ride when I'm cranky from the hill climbing and that my ride is nearly over. It's also where drivers tend to be the most jerk-ish about it, so it's really a perfect storm. There are many bad things that people do with their cars and many worse things than this, but inching up on someone trying to get across the street just really rankles me. Car bullies stink.


Ride Home 11/26: Obtuse Caboose

Back down New Mexico and through Glover Park and Georgetown. It's been more than a year since this was my regular route home and it's funny what the lapse in time will do to your attitude about riding through a neighborhood. I was much more free riding down hill and much more, um, slow, riding up the hill (the one by the Russian Embassy) and the rhythm of the ride was one I knew also like one anew. There were very few cars about. I guess the war on them is finally yielding dividends. (P.S.- Don't tell drivers)

Definitely something wrong with my rear cogs. I think they might have gotten bent a little in a manner that totally doesn't have anything to do with my falling down a lot when riding through the woods yesterday. I'll give them a closer look tomorrow because maybe it's not that.

One of the more disconcerting things you can see a driver do is take a shot of something when driving. I'll assume it was an energy drink.

If you're ever riding through Georgetown, southbound, you should go out of your way to ride down 34th street and its surprisingly narrow but adequate bike lane. And then, if something miraculous happens, you could tell everyone about the Miracle on 34th street (a movie, I believe, about how Santa Claus was on the 1980 Olympic hockey team) and then be like "no, 34th Street NW. In DC" because maybe you just like to remind people that there's more to the world than what happens in New York. Because what happens in New York, doesn't stay in New York. And what happens in DC, zzzzzzzzzz (oh, I'm sorry. I dozed off there for a second. Nothing happens in DC.)nExcept for certain 37th most popular DC bike bloggers getting interviewed by certain reporters for certain local public radio stations for certain radio programs. That happens in DC, and it happened today near the start of the L Street Cycle Track. So, if you like banalities about cycling (and if you're reading this, you've kind of outed yourself) and you like those banalities to come from nasally voices, then you might want to listen to Metro Connection this week. On the off chance your reading this, it was great talking with you, Jacob! I really enjoyed your "gotcha" journalism and your biased liberal media ways. I plan to record the program and unskew it at my leisure.

Afterward, I rode down L. No UPS trucks or FedEx trucks or USPS trucks, but two Metro Access vans. I feel really awkward complaining about Metro Access vans. But I feel pretty awkward pretty much doing anything.

Is there a name for it when you take the lane to block traffic to allow the cyclist in front of you to move around a Metro Access van (or any other kind of van) when exiting the cycle track? It's like sherpa-ing, but sherpas go in front, right? I'm not a sherpa expert, also known as a sherpert. Rainbow sherpert is my favorite.

11th street to E. On E I rode behind a woman wearing a reflective orange vest and a helmet and she had a side mirror on her handlebars, so clearly she was concerned, generally speaking, about safety and yet there were no lights on her bike. LIGHTS AT NIGHT! Come on, dude.

I happened to notice the Sharrows button of the rider in front of me at E and 4th and if you're sporting a Sharrows button, I'm going to talk to you, whether you want me to or not. Turns out it was Adam, friend of the blog, Best Buddies rider, and, so I learned tonight, a Mainer. We talked Thanksgiving and pizza and school and we rode our bikes around past Union Station and to Stanton Park and beyond before he went straight on 11th and I turned left at the park. I encourage everyone to run into someone they know on the way home. And if you don't think this is likely because you don't know a lot of people who ride bikes, just convince people you do know to ride their bikes. Solutions!

Ride In 11/26: Gnomes in Space

Proper DC cold, which isn't really cold, but cold enough. I wore the heavy gloves and they more than did the job. I left my scarf at home, but that didn't ruin my life or anything. It wasn't that cold. In the winter, I tend to wear a strange combination of bikey clothes and regular people clothes, normally throwing my winter coat, a navy blue wool coat of the pea variety, atop whatever combination of long-sleeve technical shirt/cycling jersey/fleece I've worn and sometimes I also wear a scarf about my neck, but not today, at least according to the third sentence of this post. I wore bikey gloves, but sometimes I wear non-bikey leather gloves (they are brown), and I wore my winter cycling cap, the one with ear flaps. On the bottom, I wore some tights as I am appearing in a local repertory production of Peter Pan (I'm the understudy for "Bike Commuter in Tights"- it's an avant garde production) and also to keep my legs warm and over the tights I wore my normal bikey shorts, which are baggy. There were wool socks involved and I wore them in a most unexpected way, placing the left sock on my right foot and vice versa. I slung my messenger bag over my back and filled it with charcoal, which I set aflame soon after leaving and at mile 3, I stopped for a bag-cooked hot dog (sous-vide?) or would have done the charcoal hot dog thing if I didn't preferred my hot dogs boiled and my bags not ruined by char and flame. The whole look was a bit incongruous, but it works for me. If you have a winter coat, you can cycle through winter. Coats can't tell if you're biking or walking or standing outside waiting for the bus and even if they could tell, they wouldn't mind because coats are generous in spirit and understanding in their nature. Also, it's nice to wear a normal person coat because I can then wear it after I change clothes and walk from the building in which I do that to the building in which I work. The radioactive yelllow thin cycling windbreaker provides neither the warmth nor the anonymity I sometimes crave. 

On the other side of the park, I was passed by a fellow cyclist and he was very much in a hurry and good for him for riding so fast. I had neither the heart nor the legs to allow this to rouse me into peddling marginally faster, as I sometimes do when confronted with the reality that other bike commuters are whizzing by me. It's not that I'm trying to compete with them- there are no gold medals in bike commuting- it's just that sometimes I'm accidentally inspired to slough off my lethargy and benefit from the extra blood flow and the breathtaking and the other incidental benefits of active transportation when done actively and with a bit of real effort. Maybe tomorrow. 

Massachusetts to Columbus Circle to First NE through NoMa to the Wendy's that divides NoMa from rest of the world. I would really like a poster a-la-Saul Steinberg that shows First NE, the Wendy's, Annapolis, France and Moscow. However, I doubt such a perspective exists. I also don't think there's any bike parking at that Wendy's, in spite of its location between what some day will be a prime bicycling route. They've got some time, I guess. 

R Street across town. On R, I saw a guy riding his bike and a little girl, probably his daughter, straddled the rear rack. Probably unsafe, but pretty pragmatic. I saw them at North Capitol and then again at 7th and again at 6th. They were traveling at a speed that made me think that this was fairly safe for everyone and that should also give you an idea about how slowly I was going. 

I swear I'm just checking out your bike, not your gams. I apologize to all offended, especially for using the word "gams" because it is a stupid word. 

These paragraphs are getting shorter and shorter. 

On the hill up Mass, there was a guy riding ahead of me for a while, but then the hill got hillier and he decided to get off his bike and walk it up the hill. Since I tend to obsess of issues comportment (my other blog would be called Commuting Comportment Corner if I weren't so busy not being alliterative with the title of this blog), I debated the best manner in which to proceed. Should I stop and ask "Hey, bud, everything ok?" in the case that he suffered a mechanical issue? Or would that be interpreted as my being some kind of jerkwad, highlighting the fact that he dismounted his bike climbing up a hill because riding the bike up the hill was too much? Really, there's no shame in pushing a bike up a hill. I've done it a bunch of times. Hills are terrible. But some people are really sensitive about it because it seems defeating and disappointing and they don't want anyone to bring attention to it. But what if something was actually wrong with his bike and I could have helped with my copious knowledge vague awareness of bike mechanical issues and their resolution? It would be pretty rude of me just to ride on by- then I'd be a self-centered jerkwad focused more on his own commute than helping those around him. WHAT TO DO? Should I split the difference and ride behind for a little while to better assess his condition before making the "ask or pass?" decision? Or would then I just be a jerk was jawsing him? Faced with the prospect of being a jerk no matter what, I rode past. There was no muttering of "jerk" in the wind, so I think I did ok.

Up Massachusetts, across Wisconsin and up Massachusetts again. There might be an issue with one of the very small cogs on the back of the bike. It made a clicking noise and seemed to cause the chain the skip a beat. I should look into that. I doubt it's anything major. 


Ride Home 11/20: Aspic Ratio

I can't be the only one who's using Movember as a cover under which I can go to work completely unkempt and slovenly. "Maybe his patchy beard growth is to raise money for some kind of noble cause," might ask a hypothetical coworker. "Certainly he wouldn't just show up looking like that if it wasn't for a good reason, right?" Um. Nope, I'm just a slob and Slobvember isn't yet a thing. However, facial hair is being grown for a good reason by friend of the blog and Jacques of some trades all trades, Jacques and if you'd like to send some scratch his way, that'd be a nice thing you could do on Thanksgiving Eve. (FUN BIBLICAL FACT: Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Adam accepted an apple from the serpent and used that apple in a delicious apple pie. God, who asked them to prepare a pumpkin pie, was disappointed and promptly kicked them out of the Garden of Eden.)

One of these days there won't be cars parked where there are always cars parked and those drivers who everyday think that they'll be able to drive down the right lane of Massachusetts between Idaho and Wisconsin will be able to do it and they'll be so vindicated and all the other times that they've thought "I know, I'll buzz this cyclist so I can drive in the right lane because I'm sure there are no cars parked there even though there are always cars parked there. Oh drat, there are cars parked there and now I need move back over. Darn." will be replaced by "I know, I'll buzz this cyclist so I can drive in the right lane because I'm sure there are no cars there even though there are always cars parked there, BUT NOT TODAY OMG OMG OMG EVERYTHING'S COMING UP MILHOUSE!!!!"

I normally ride to 22rd to turn right from Massachusetts, but during this ride I decided that I would take 23rd from Sheriden Circle, go past the Romanian Embassy and then behind a church on a one way street that seemed more like a driveway than a street that intersects with 22nd by P. I don't recommend it. There's a yield sign where 23rd meets 22nd and this prompted me to ride on the sidewalk, which I did until the intersection and then when the light turned green, I crossed P. Jayrunning in front of me was an old man and his brown standard poodle.

Another night on the L Street Cycle Track. Something new: a mail truck not parked in the bike lane. Weird, I know.

Only a few problems on L between 22nd and 12th and nothing overly frustrating or that dangerous. Generally speaking, even when a driver turns from the center lane (which I only saw once and was caused by a Metro Access van parked in the left turn lane at a mixing zone), it's a pretty slow turn, made slower because there are almost always people crossing the street for whom drivers generally have to stop. If I had three wishes from a genie and I wanted to be really frivolous with one of them, I'd wish for bike specific traffic signals that operated a leading interval, allowing cyclists to start moving prior to drivers. We have the technology. We just need the policy.

I'm unfamiliar with Energy Kitchen, but I guess there's one coming to L Street. I at least saw the sign at the storefront. Does Energy Kitchen have Energy bathrooms? And what would that even entail?

On 11th I saw a woman who looked like someone I vaguely recognized from faint memories of someone I was sort of acquainted with at college, but who's name I don't know now nor am I sure I ever knew. Ah, memories. It's conceivable that it was her, but it's much more likely it was someone else. I see a lot of people who either are or aren't people I've met.

So, E Street has bike lanes. There's nothing special about them. Just standard issue bike lanes (white paint on ground, pictures of bicycles every so often) and I'm normally ok with riding in standard issue bike lanes, but riding on E always seems a bit more adventurous than it should be. I don't mind it that much- I'm fairly comfortable with the business of biking in traffic- but I doubt it's very comfortable for the people who don't feel as comfortable in traffic who've switched to E from riding on Pennsylvania while the road is being paved. G Street is probably a better option, at least from 15th to 7th. Or riding along the Mall also works. I'm not sure if these alternative routes had been publicized and suggested by DDOT, but consider them suggested by me.

I do a little more head shaking than I probably should. People so some sketchy stuff out there. I watched a lightless cyclist roll a red a nearly find herself on the hood of a turning taxi. If you're going to flout traffic laws (which I must stress that I'm perfectly fine with) at least make yourself visible when do it. A city upon a hill cannot be hidden, but a lightless city cyclist on the Hill certainly can be hit.

Have a great Thanksgiving. I give thanks for all of you who take time out of being bored at work to read this and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday full of wonder and bird meat.


Ride In 11/20: Lacking a Paucity of Scarcity

Another day on the Surly. I really love this bike. There might be better bikes, but not for me. Other than the other bikes are have. They're all good, really. But I this one is equally better than the rest, which are all the best.

There are three diagonal avenues that could carry me from the eastern end of Capitol Hill where I live (I'm alone in styling my neighborhood Armory West, but maybe some day that name'll pick up among real estate types and then I'll seem ever so smart) to the western parts of the city where I work: Pennsylvania Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, and Florida Avenue. I normally take Pennsylvania or Massachusetts and today was no different in that I took Massachusetts. I've biked on Florida before and it's fine, but there are no bike facilities and in a morning rush, I suspect it's sort of crowded.

More terrifying: black BMW or ivory Cadillac?

First NE to Eckington to R and I followed another rider to First NW, where she turned and I followed another driver into the intersection at Florida where we both burned, me using her car like a lead blocker in one of those frustrating running plays that only gets you 2 or 3 yards called by a coach that's far too conservative and likely to be fired at season's end. Whatever gets you across the street, I suppose.

This is the median on Rhode Island Avenue. I have affectionately named it Providence.
Outside Providence
Much of the time, you can ride out here and wait for the southbound traffic to clear and get a better jump at making the green at 7th. I don't know to what extent it resembles real Providence.I assume Providence has concrete and lampposts and some brown grass so it can't be too far off. I'm basically the Roger Williams of bike commuters.

Not as many cyclists from 7th to Dupont as usual. I guess everyone is taking the week off for the holidays. From 7th the 11th, I had a guy follow me very closely and he hadn't cleaned his drivetrain for some time and each pedal made a noise that was both grind-y and whoosh-y. It was sort of like the noise of the approaching evil in the Evil Dead movies.

I stopped at picked up some bagels for the office at Bethesda Bagels on Connecticut because I'm nice like that. I could only fit a half dozen in my messenger bag, so I'm approximately 6 bagels nice. 6 bagels nice is nicer than 6 donuts nice, but not nearly as nice as 6 croissants nice. 6 sandwiches nice is Mother Teresa territory. I also bought cream cheese because bringing in bagels without bringing in cream cheese should be considered a fireable offense. Unless you work at a cream cheese factory because duh.

A nice ride up Massachusetts. There should be a Bikeshare station at Mass and Wisconsin. What about the 54 stations that are supposed to be in by year's end? Anyone have any info about that? Hmm? (It isn't going to happen. Maybe by spring.)


Ride In 11/19 & Ride Home 11/19: Skyliners' B Sides

A brief respite from the cold as it was only medium cold this morning. Every medium cold day get from now until March is one less very cold day, so count me pleased. My decision about which bike to ride to work today was predicated on the fact that it's easier to access my coffee mug when I ride the Surly, so I chose accordingly. It's Monday.

Massachusetts Avenue around Columbus Circle. There was a car in one of the "go straight" lanes that had stopped in order to merge into the "turn left" lane at E Street and it blocked the "go straight," since it couldn't fully clear it due to a line of cars already waiting to turn left. And here's the thing: it created some traffic backup and I don't think the other drivers liked it. But are drivers more inclined to do stuff like this (i.e. realize that they're going the wrong way and then try to rectify it) than bicyclists or pedestrians? I think no. We're all pretty much the same (I certainly think I'm the same the person when I bike or drive or walk) and we're all prone to making mistakes and/or getting confused and/or putting our own short-sighted and selfish interests ahead of those of others. But when drivers do it, it tends to create more problems. This isn't a moral judgment- it's a math problem. Cars take up a lot of space and accordingly they're harder to maneuver and as such when drivers make the same kinds of selfish decisions that bicyclists and pedestrians make all the time, they're much harder to correct and they have a much greater impact on those around them. That's just how it is and I don't think that we do ourselves any favors when we pretend otherwise. Nothing is to be gained through clinging to false equivalency.

I rode First Street NE. It was cool. Some work trucks in the bike lane, but nothing major. Another guy on a bike was behind me around First and New York, but then he took Florida and I took Eckington and he got in front of me and then we came back together around R and 5th NE. So, no real long term benefits of taking crowded and trafficky Florida Avenue instead of taking the slightly longer route with the bike lanes and sharrows. Worthwhile to remember, I guess.

#bikeDC needs more argyle socks. Like if everyone were to turn in an affidavit that they've completed 10 roundtrip commutes to earn a pair of red and white argyle official District of Columbia bike commuter socks, then I think the world would be a much better place. This isn't a solution to any real problem that any real bike commuter faces and would be a vast waste of resources. Maybe for the next WABA fundraiser?

R to Massachusetts to the welcome relief that I wasn't riding a folding bike and I had sufficient gears into which I could downshift to make my climb ever so much more gentle. I think I went through a Beatles medley on the way up the hill and It was mellifluous in no way, real or imagined.

At the garage, I saw and said hello to one if the students I worth with, a fellow bike commuter heading from Columbia Heights. Grad students should pretty much be considered one of the core constituencies for bike advocates: old enough to vote, poor and itinerant enough to truly benefit from getting around by bike. They'd probably even wear the argyle socks.

Like most days, I also rode home. This time I was lucky enough to get to meet up with the Official Wife, who was meeting up with some friends for dinner, so we met for a drink beforehand. It was nice. The place was on Connecticut between R and S (or S and T. Some two consonant streets) and there was bike parking immediately outside the restaurant and that's always a plus. I don't know if there's a way to emphasize enough how important nearby bike parking is in my decision to frequent an eatery or drinkery. I bet that's true of most cyclists. And our money is just as green as the next guy's, unless if course we're holding foreign currency, which we might because we are quite an international group and maybe also a bit snobby. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize I couldn't pay for this corn dog and Slurpee in euros," says Joe Bike at his local convenience store, pretty much daily.

Afterwards, I took Connecticut around Dupont to 19th to L, turning left at the cycle track to see some new green paint, possibly in place to indicate that cyclists should be in it to skirt around the Quincy Hotel 15 minute loading/unloading zone.

WASHINGTON DC- In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court today ruled that all fines and penalties assessed to drivers for illegally operating their cars in the new L Street cycle track should be voided. The vote was 9-0 and the majority opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia. It was the shortest opinion in the history of the court, simply the word CONFUSION written in size 72 font. When pressed, Scalia indicated that his belief in the judicial philosophy of constitutional originalism was the deciding factor in the ruling. "The Founding Fathers did not believe in these "so-called" bike lanes," said Scalia. When it was pointed out that the Founding Fathers also lacked automobiles, invented nearly 100 years after the Constitution was written, Scalia declined to respond and his chauffeur soon sped him away. (It actually wasn't even that bad today. One UPS truck. No one turned from the center lane.)

11th to E. Apropos the fifth letter, why are there no size E batteries? Could we not use them? Are there not E size electronics? My rear blindly could use new batteries. It flashed weakly.

Up and around Columbus Circle, and then Massachusetts to Stanton Park to Lincoln Park (this stretch of Mass should be called Stancoln or perhaps Stancolnia) to eventually A Street and home. Only one more set of rides this week. If anyone is riding to Turkey Day festivities (by this i mean Thanksgiving, not Turkish Independence Day, which probably isn't even called Turkey Day) and you would like to write about it, please email me and I'd love to post it.


Ride Home 11/16: Mason Jars of Mason Jars

boo hoo. what a rough life. I have to ride my bike from Embassy Row to Capitol Hill and sometimes I complain about stuff. I should never complain. Quibble, sure, but complain not at all. It was just a great night for bicycle riding and one of those times where you feel connected to the place the you live in a deep and meaningful way.

I took the L Street Cycle Track and it was a brilliant night. No one was parked in it and there was very little CONFUSION in which drivers did things they oughtn't. Back to the theme of not complaining, I think it's a sign of how good things are (or are becoming) for bicyclists in DC that I'm mad that there isn't 100% enforcement in the protected cycle track that was built in one full travel lane that until a few weeks ago was 150 parking spots. There are flaws, but the flaws can be fixed and the problems can be addressed and with time and a commitment to improve it (which I definitely believe DDOT has), it will only get better. So go out and use it. It really is like 90% great, even when this happens:

Buses are big!
11th to Penn. Penn! PENN! I hadn't been riding it this week because I thought that the repaving was considerably more advanced and the that the cycle track had been disappeared, like a Soviet dissident, but it was still there and I rode happily along from 11th to 4th and then cut across the Mall. 4th Street is a fine street, but it's very wide and some people really rush to try to catch the light at Independence.

Near SW (a neighborhood appellation I'm not sure is real) is an area that I'm not sure anyone is going to miss. It's sort of terrible. And charmless. And 4th Street itself is a bumpy, ruddy mess, at least until the other side of the tracks. The at least there's a bike lane. And a well-used one at that.

I stopped at the Safeway at 4th and M. First time in that store. Ample bike parking. As I passed the self-checkout, a young woman in line touched me on the shoulder and asked "How you doing?" I think I said "I'm good thanks how are you?" and awkwardly and quickly shuffled away. Another peril of bike commuting: you become irresistible to strangers.

Go to this Safeway.

Tip for grocery shopping by bike: use your bike bag as your grocery shopping cart. This will help you avoid over-buying and not having a good way to get your stuff home. This seems like an obvious thing, but I've screwed this up a few times and it sucks to try to balance unwieldy and cumbersome bags of on sale stuff you didn't actually need on your handlebars.

I rode M to Canal Park, which had just opened earlier in that day. I'm not a park connoisseur, but this one is pretty fantastic. There's ice skating. It's really worth a visit.


More park.

Let's say you live in/on Capitol Hill, but you're not a fan of riding your bike up hill. L Street SE is your back way on to hill, with minimal uphill struggle. It might be out of your way a little, but such is the cost of not wanting to ride up a hill. If you live under Capitol Hill, then you're probably some kind of Hobbit congressional staffer.

8th Street to G Street to 11th Street to Lincoln Park to home. Back on Monday.


Ride In 11/16: Fo' Fo' Fo'

It's never a great sign when two blocks into your ride, your legs feel tired. I tried to convince them that there was coffee on the other side of the ride, but they didn't seem to be terribly interested in that. I don't really know what kind of stuff motivates legs. Maybe long johns? Iconic lamps from iconic Christmas movies? It's been a long week.

From Fourth Street NE to 4th Street NW (where's the TFTS style guide?)  I rode behind a woman CaBi-ist in a winter coat and she was wearing neither helmet (whatever) nor socks (PROBLEM). I find socklessness to be a welcome diversion in summer, but autumnal socklessness? It was cold this morning. Her toes must be made a hardier stuff than mine. Yesterday, I saw another woman CaBi-ist who was wearing flip-flops. Is Bikeshare running some kind of weird vaguely fetishistic contest that I don't about? We've had Winter Weather Warriors amd Reverse Rider Rewards and now it's Shivery Sockless Sharers. Strange.

I rode E until 15th. At 13th, a man on a bicycle skidded to a stop to my left and couldn't help but cut in front of me, maybe from not wanting to or maybe from not being able to. Bikes: they let everybody have them!

Great time at Swings as always. The coffee's hot and the bathtub gin is cold. I mean, no, there's no secret bootlegging taking place there. None at all.

Afterwards, I rode down G street to 23rd and then a couple blocks further south to meet up with the Official Wife and we walked together back to the Foggy Bottom metro and then I rode over to 25th street NW and I waited patiently to cross K Street, which at 25th still resembles a highway. 25th street isn't connected on both sides of K and there are medians in the street and it's not a very pedestrian or bicyclist friendly place. When crosswalks feel like an imposition, I don't think that's a particularly healthy street.

I rode Pennsylvania and passed the Salvation Army where Penn meets M (the name of a less successful Nora Ephron rom-com with that magician and Judi Dench) . I find it remarkable that the forces of Salvation have left themselves so vulnerable to attacks by sea or air.

M street to Wisconsin and a pretty unpleasant climb up the hill. There were trucks idling in the right travel lane. There were buses idling in front of the trucks. There were taxi cabs doing whatever taxi cabs do (menace, I think). And I didn't heed most of these things because I was very, very tired from working my way up a hill that I'm pretty sure has gotten steeper recently due to plate tectonics/wizardry. It's not that I regretted taking the Brompton, but just that I regretted the Bromtpon doesn't have rocket boosters.

When I pass Reservoir Road, I think to myself "why hasn't anyone opened a Quentin Tarantino-themed dog groomer on this road?" because there's a perfectly obvious and funny punny name for it based on the title of one of his movies. Exactly: Pup Fiction.

The Glover Park street improvement project on Wisconsin is coming along and looks to be done soon. It doesn't look like an unrelenting hellscape of car traffic doom, but I'm sure I'm mistaken and I'll read all about it in the next NW Current.

Wisconsin to Massachusetts and I was relieved to ride down to the bottom of a hill before getting to climb another little one and then I was at work and then I worked. And now work is over and I'm over work and I'm going to go home.


Ride Home 11/15: Unexpected Everyday Uses for the Quadratic Equation

Yesterday I think the problem was me. Today, I think the problem was everyone else. Some nights traffic just seems thicker and people just seem sketchier and antsier and I can't but question whether there's some undue lunar influence affecting our bodily humors and causing a system that inordinately depends on large degrees of cooperation to just fall apart. And so it did. It wasn't the worst- after all, I was on a bicycle and relatively free to do stuff like ride on sidewalks and filter through the traffic and cross streets- but it was kind of crummy and I let it put me in a worse mood than I should have. Snits happen.

Mass to 23rd to L. I think I've identified part of the problem with the L Street Cycle Track and it has nothing to do with engineering and everything to do with Argentinian dogshit. Not literally. But in the sense that the norms of driving behavior need to dramatically shift (like, don't drive through the bollards or don't turn from the middle lane) to the point where the good behavior is self-sustaining. I think I'm going to take some time away from L and switch back to riding 19th and Pennsylvania.

I rode down 11th street and then turned left on E. I like E Street very much. It undulates.

I thought that I recognized Kate and shouted her name as I rode past her as she waited on her bike at the light by the US Tax Court. She didn't seem to recognize me. This might be because when I was shouting at the woman I thought was her, she was at home on her couch and not at all on her bike by the light at the US Tax Court. So, I hope that woman's name was Kate. Or maybe that she thought I was loudly endorsing cake, as is my wont. I frequently ride around the city at night and accost people by yelling dessert names at them. It's just my way. RICE PUDDING!

I haven't figured out the best way to get around Stanton Park since I have to get from the right lane to the left lane in the course of a left turn and it's normally cumbersome. Maybe I should just ride through the park. Or get in the left lane before the turn. There are some pretty straightforward solutions to this problem that I find a way to avoid each night. It's a gift, really.

#fridaycoffeeclub tomorrow at M.E. Swings at 17th and G (NW) from 7:30 to 9-ish. If you come, you might even meet famous #bikeDC couple Ed and Mary of this great video about them. I'll bet they'll even sign your autograph book if you ask really nicely. There aren't two nicer tandem randonneurs you'll ever meet. The Tandem Randonneurs would be a great band name. In a way, it already is. It already is...[fade to black].

Ride Home 11/14 & Ride In 11/15: A consumption tax unfairly targets the tubercular

This ride home, it was not so good. Some rides are just like that. I don't remember enough specifics, but I very much remember a pall of generalized anxiety hanging over me at the end of the ride, which isn't typically the case at the bike ride. I thought to myself, "well, that was a turd" and while I'm not normally predisposed to describing things in such a, let's say, colorful way, that was pretty much how I felt about the whole thing. Writing up every one of these commutes, though, has been really good for my overall attitude towards bicycling in the city in that they provide a certain degree of perspective that I don't think I'd have if I didn't treat each ride as a discreet event and instead just allowed one to blend into the next. Most rides, they are good. Some rides, they are raining and cold. Other rides, you get cut off by some jerk driver or maybe a lightless cyclist passes you too closely or maybe a bike lane is blocked by construction or maybe all of these things happen and you inwardly fulminate against the world and its myriad ills. But then you get another ride and it turns out to be not as bad and you quickly learn to remember to forget. And to forgive, because to err is human and to forgive is Devane Divine divine or something along those lines. I think that it's really rather rare that anyone sets off on their journey home with the intention of being a jackass to those around them, but sometimes it's just happens. I'm certainly not immune from the a bout of it. So, forgive, forget, move on, go home, drink a beer, buy a rare collectible spoon from eBay (or indulge in your preferred vice) and go out and ride again the next day because you can and you should and frankly, you'll need something to do between the time you win your spoon auction and the time FedEx delivers it.

I was on the Cross Check last night and it rode well. Brakes seemed a little loose, but I can't think of any reason why bad brakes would cause me any problems. Down, up, and down Massachusetts to 23rd. Massachusetts between the entrance to Rock Creek Park and Dupont Circle is a nice stretch, except for when one of the foreign diplomatic corps elects to avail himself of the opportunity to leave his car parked on the street, reducing sporadically the number of travel lanes from two to one. This creates an interesting bit of havoc for drivers and cyclists, but such is the small cost associated with living in the capital of the free world.

South of Massachusetts Avenue, there are no North-South bike lanes between 34th Street and 15th Street. That's most of Georgetown, the West End and Foggy Bottom. Yes, there's the Rock Creek Park trail, but that's a different thing entirely. I'm not an bike lane planner guy (technical name for job description), but I'd suggest that this is a problem. There are many people who might like to use a bike lane to get many places in this general zone of the city. I'm reminded up this when I ride down 23rd or try to ride down 23rd and find myself without a place on the street and either stuck in traffic or choosing the sidewalk as the next least worst option.

L Street! Stuff happened. I don't remember exactly. I have some pictures, though, for some reason:

Bikes go here
 Those cones were blocking the mixing zones, causing drivers to have to turn from the middle lane. Cones are the worst. Also, mysterious.

Beyond the bike box
The idea of the bike box is to provide a place for cyclists to wait that is a Woolfian "Room of One's Own" except in a much more literal way. You're just supposed to wait in it, instead of in the crosswalk, like these chumpies are doing. Don't do it, chumpies!

L gives way to Massachusetts and I rode down that street to the other side of Mount Vernon Polygon (I can never remember if it's Triangle or Square or both) and eventually turned right at 6th, through Chinatown, through Judiciary Square  or whatever they call E street between 6th and 3rd, dodged a cab a 3rd, rode up the hill and past the train stration, was passed too closely while approaching Stanton Park while I rode behind a woman who had no lights on her bike and was also wearing headphones, two things I think are bad ideas. I rounded the square park (is this even possible?) and then it was nearly home and then it was home and then it was a quick turnaround to get back to BicycleSpace for the first meeting of The Assembly. I very much enjoyed this meeting. Look for big things to come from this group. I also enjoyed meeting there some #bikeDC tweeps and some blog readers and you're all just such nice people and I look forward to advocating/agitating/"action"-ing with you in the future to make this sleepy little burg the best damn pet shop in town #1 bike community in the US!

This morning I rode the Brompton down my new now usual route of Massachusetts Avenue to Columbus Circle to First NE. Still don't know if First NE is one-way or two-way across from the Postal Museum. There are two yellow stripes in the middle of the street, so I would think two-way, but drivers, especially those of very large trucks, seem to think (and drive) otherwise. A bit hairy, that.

Warm ears are happy ears. It wasn't even that cold this morning, but I still kept my ears covered. They'll come again some time in February and if they hear their shadow, then six more weeks of cold ears or something.

First NE to Eckington Place to R. There's a sign that indicates Bicycles May Use Full Lane. That's a lot more lane that I actually need, but thanks anyway.

I was in a group of 7 or 8 bicyclists on R and I watched 7 or 8 of them ride through the red at 15th. That's fine- I have no problems with people riding through red lights. But in order to do so, they had to ride past the first person who got there and had stopped and was waiting for the light to change. I stopped too. I'll run a ride through a red light, but I'm steadfastly committed to not passing someone who is stopped. Pass while moving. Some principles are inviolate. ("Violet, you're turning inviolate, Violet")

On the final stretch of the climb into work, I was passed by two other bike commuters. I think they were both undergrad students. Bike commuting is a young man's game.

Congratulations to Alex Baca and to WABA.


Ride In 11/14: Shadows and Dustbins

This commute was something of a blur. I can tell you how I went, but I can't really tell you how it went. Fine, I guess. A Street SE ---> 15th Street SE ---> East Capitol----> Massachusetts Avenue NE ----> Columbus Circle NE ---->First Street NE ----> Florida Avenue NE ---->Florida Avenue NW ----> R Street NW ----> Massachusetts Avenue NW ----> Ward Circle NW. The ride was about 8 miles long. I arrived at work at 8:39 AM.

The Assembly is holding its kickoff rally this evening. Come for the light refreshments, stay for the bicycle advocacy. I'll be there.


Ride Home 11/13: Vesuvius

TIP: don't leave a wet glove in the pocket of your shorts. It will still be wet when you go to put it on for your ride home and your hand will be very cold. Your fingers might turn to popsicles. These popsicles will be the flavor of sad.

I don't really have a backup plan if someone stole my bike lights. I should probably take them off my bike during the day, lest I be faced with the dilemma of taking home a CaBi or riding home in the dark. What would I do? Would principles or expediency win out?

Do you ever start singing The Christmas Song and end up in Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas? Jack Frost nipping at my brain/From now on my lucidity will be miles away.

An event at the British Embassy of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland caused a minor traffic backup and other car traffic concerns caused other traffic backups and it caused all sorts of bigger problems for drivers and minor problems for me, but I was soon through them and down 23rd, which was also backed up and I squeezed my way through some of this traffic in a way that was safe because nothing bad happened and that's my story and I'm sticking to it. It actually wasn't that bad, but I think that when you bike long enough you get maybe a little too comfortable a little too close to cars. I wonder if that's how zookeepers feel. But about wild animals.

Yet another day on L Street and almost nothing went too wrong. In fact, I only saw one driver make a left turn from a center lane. Here's a great suggestion of additional markings that could be added to make the mixing zones better for everyone. Ok, I saw two drivers make turns from the travel lane, but I'm going to excuse the one guy because a mail truck was parked in the turn lane. But it wasn't all bad for mail delivery- I actually saw a FedEx van parked at a loading dock! Miracles can happen. Only saw two drivers enter the bike lane too soon and only one van parked in the bike lane so that the flower seller guy could load his flowers into the back of it. In conclusion, it really wasn't better than many other nights, which is to say sort of bad, but I figure if I just keep using the word "only," the effect will be altogether ameliorating.

I spent my ride down 11th street trying to translate "Won't you take me to funky town" into Hungarian in the most accurate way possible. I arrived at Penn before arriving at an acceptable solution. Talk about, talk about, talk about...something. Riding at night does something weird to me.

Pennsylvania Avenue (I'll miss you) to the House side of the Capitol and then down Independence for a little and across the street and down Pennsylvania again and I stopped at the Yes! Organic Market for the most organic and healthful of purchases, some bottles of beer. I wouldn't be surprised if I was asked not to return to this market because I sort of got the crazy eyes and went all velo-vangelist on the poor checkout girl who asked if I biked and then I glazed over and all I remember is emphatically pointed at my Bikeshare key and at some point she stopped making eye contact and maybe even started fake coughing. True story.

After that, it was up 8th street to North Carolina and then past the park and down A Street and then at 14th I waited and waited and waited for a very slow motorcycle operator whose motorcycle might have been suffering some distress to clear the intersection. It was laughable. "Hah," I laughed. A couple blocks later and then I was home.

Ride Home 11/12 & Ride In 11/13: Fork Innovation: These Tines, They are a-Changin'

Sorry for another wrap-around double post. These are admittedly confusing. Is it night or is it day? Will I clearly delineate between the two rides or will I just lump everything together? Do I only ride on Massachusetts Avenue and how can this one street be all over the city? Was Pierre L'Enfant a witch? (Yes).

I was to attend a gathering at a local watering hole of some renown and it's location was essentially on my normal route home, so there wasn't much in the way of divergence except for my taking 21st street through downtown instead of taking 19th or 23rd. To be perfectly frank, I prefer 21st street because prime numbers just freak me out. They're just so indivisible, you know? But before 21st street, I rode down the previously mentioned Massachusetts Avenue and before that I rode on the sidewalk along Nebraska Avenue and before that I almost fell off my bike when trying to transition from the grass next to the sidewalk to the sidewalk itself because I lack even very basic fundamental knowledge of ways to avoid falling down when moving my bike in an orthogonal direction. I was on the grass so as to the give the two people walking in the other direction the full sidewalk, that they could continue their conversation without having to mind me at all, which it appeared they were going to do regardless of where I would ride. The road to hell/falling off your bike is paved with good intentions. Or maybe the road to hell isn't paved at all and it just alternates between grass and sidewalk and hell just consists of clumsily almost falling down.

There's a speed camera on Massachusetts Avenue (where else?) past Garfield Street and it's there to catch speeders who exceed by 11 miles per hour the 30 mile per hour speed limit. I doubt it catches very many people. There are two lanes in each direction on Massachusetts there and I think that the camera could catch speeders in both lanes, but I imagine that there's an angle at which someone in the nearer lane might block someone in the far lane from getting pictured. I'd be really miffed if my bicycle and I ever served as a screen to block the ticketing of a speeder. Likewise, I'd be miffed if caught speeding, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going that fast and I certainly wasn't going that fast last night since I was riding behind another bicyclist who was clutching the brakes the whole time.

An etiquette question: if you're taking the lane (on a bicycle, not in some nefarious larceny), have you taken it from just motorists or fellow bicyclists too? For example, I was in the middle of the lane at the bottom of Massachusetts Avenue (it's the only street in DC!) and there was a bicyclist to my right in another lane and as I was riding by, but not before I rode by, she moved from her lane into my lane. I guess there was enough room, but should have she waited for me to ride past first? VEXING.

Some bike boxes on L Street:

they don't look like boxes
A "bike box" is meant to be a place for cyclists to get out in front of car traffic, thereby increasing the visibility of the cyclist and/or permitting his movement through traffic, such as making a right turn. This latter use is the primary impetus for bike boxes on L- the cyclist leaves the left-hand cycle track and turns right, somehow using the bike boxes. I think this only works at a red light. And then, it would seem to make more sense just to ride in the crosswalk. I guess if you didn't want to be a jerk in a crowded crosswalk, then you could wait in the bike box for the light to turn green and then go from there. Anyway, bike boxes ladies and gentleman.

I locked up at 21st and H, enjoyed a Jackberry Smash, was rebuffed on a second drink order because the bar was out of Midori, ate a bunch of fried, brown foods and rode home afterwards. I took Penn to 15th to Penn.

You can ride whatever kind of bike is comfortable, but it's sort of a dumb idea to ride it into the middle of an intersection against the red light with no lights on it. I'm glad that so many people take up bike commuting, but there really needs to be a minimum standard of common sense. Or maybe aversion towards getting hit by a car. Both probably. I assume that most everyone (adults) I see biking around the city has a driver's license and perhaps the good sense to use lights on their car at night and never question that that's both a good and practical idea and yet somehow this doesn't translate to biking. It's curious and disappointing.

I saw a Jack-O-Lantern at a bus stop. I think it was waiting for the bus. Listen, buddy. There's no escape. You're pie. I'm sorry.

[sleepy time interlude followed by Peer Gynt 'Morning' because my life is basically a Bugs Bunny cartoon]

It was raining. A cold November rain.[Because my life is basically an overwrought music video]. I wore a rain jacket and a hat and I covered myself in Bounty paper towels to absorb all of the sky water, except for that last thing which is total fiction. I stuck to my new route down (any guesses? yeah, that's right!) Massachusetts Avenue, where I saw a guy on a great looking Civia with bamboo fenders and a bamboo front rack and a bamboo rear rack and a ravenous panda clinging to his rear wheel, except not that last thing. He turned at 10th Street NE and I kept going around the park and around Columbus Circle and awkwardly negotiated the throngs of people trying to cross the street by Columbus and E, where the Met Branch Trail of 30 feet is and I ended up riding past them and then looping back to gain access to the trail, which is, I suppose, mixed use.

My trip is First NE wasn't as fun as it was yesterday, but that probably had more to do with the rain and cold then the street. My ride up Florida Avenue wasn't fun and that had do with at least a little bit of the honking that I received. Guess what? I can't make the cars in front of me go any faster and I'm pretty that my being behind them isn't making them go slowly. I crossed at R and that wasn't very funny because, in spite of years and years of chicken jokes, crossing the road really doesn't deliver the laughs like you might expect.

Very few cyclists on R Street. A dumb guy, seeing the backed up car traffic, stepped out into the bike lane with the aim to jaywalk across the street. He declined to look for bike traffic, but I believe he did see me when I said "Stop" and then "fuck dude come one" in the exasperated monotone that all well-intentioned and appropriately peeved urban cyclists eventually develop. I guess I "broke the seal" on the cussing because I later told a lady to eat shit but mostly because she almost hit me with her car. Bygones! Swearing- it's like Pringles!

There's a No Turn on Red sign at the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin and drivers consistently turn on red there. Is that because of CONFUSION?

I'm looking forward to riding home tonight because I enjoy my home and also because the day has since become nice and there's no rain in sight and because I've been cooped up inside all day and I yearn to be free and I've got just one more hour to go.


Ride In 11/12: Illegal Beagle

Maybe you're not working today and maybe I am. Maybe that means that I got to bike to work whereas you got to sleep late and now you're reading this in your pajamas on the couch whereas I'm writing it in my pajamas at my desk. Maybe that means you missed a great morning for bicycle riding or maybe it means that you're out on a really long fun bicycle ride right now (right now as I write, not right now as you read because that would be unsafe, regardless of how empty the roads might be or how good you are at balance and/or literacy). No matter what may be (maybe), it's another episode of the ongoing drama that is the continuing saga of the never-ending story of the diurnally repeating report of the quotidian that is this blog.

I tried to turn this picture into a joke about an obscure comic book character, but the pieces didn't fall into place, so I gave up. I thought the sign said "Left Turn Green Arrow Only," but the "on" in place of "turn" robbed the punchline about superheroes getting special treatment in traffic of much of its groan inducing zing.

Green Arrow

Nevertheless, if  stop lights are ever replaced by either lanterns or hornets, I'm going to successfully make this joke, goddammit, and who will be laughing then? Nobody? Oh.

I decided to ride Massachusetts around Stanton Park and then past Union Station through the new bike lanes in Columbus Circle. Or I would've ridden through the new bike lanes, had parts of them not be covered in shattered glass. The Columbus Circle renovation project is still in progress and I'm not totally sure how the bike lanes are going to connect to Massachusetts Avenue at the intersection with the part of Columbus Circle Drive that extends to the parking garages and F Street. It is my fervent hope that 1) this happens (that the bike lanes are extended to reach Mass Avenue) and that 2) this isn't done in a dumb way.

My primary impetus for riding this way is to seek out my alternative route for when the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes are taken out of commission. I'm very partial to First Street NE as a bicycle route because it is a fairly direct north-south route wholly uncrowded of other bicyclists. Even without the planned cycle track, the project about which I think I'm the most excited of all of DC's bike projects, it's pretty great. The bike lane itself stops at M Street, but from M to the New York Avenue/Florida Avenue/Random Wendy's intersection of doom, there's ample room for bikes and very little car traffic. Here's my strategy for navigating Dave Thomas Circle: cross New York Avenue in the crosswalk and then cross First NE at whichever crosswalk has the WALK signal. Don't bother trying to ride on the road since your destination, if you're me, is Eckington Place, which has a bike lane and connects to R Street NE, which has sharrows, can't be accessed from New York Avenue since left turns are there prohibited and also you wouldn't want to make a left turn across all that traffic anyway. You can choose to ride across the Wendy's parking lot if you want and you can also choose to buy a Frosty if the Wendy's is open. Either move is completely apposite. In any case, while this route isn't any shorter for me, I think it's faster.

So many speed bumps on R Street. It's a shame that people can't but speed without them. I think that they're quite ugly. They also make my fenders clang when I ride over them. That might speak more to my fender installation than anything else.

I rode in the back of a pack of six bicyclists on R from about 14th to Dupont Circle. One of the guys had on a grey winter coat, unbuttoned, and the tails of the coat blew wide in the wind. It looked like a superhero's cape. I don't know if he's given any special treatment vis-a-vis traffic laws, but he took the same liberties as pretty much everyone else does with regard to them.

I've been in many packs of bicyclists on R Street and they almost all dissipate before reaching Massachusetts Avenue. A few of the riders headed down New Hampshire and then another veered before Connecticut, the penultimate turned at Florida and then the last turned away at Sheriden Circle. Don't bike commute if you have abandonment issues! Unlike car commuting, in which you're likely to be surrounded by your compatriots in degrees that you might even find stultifying, when you're on your bike, you watch packs form and disband and fellow riders come and go. It kind of evokes the arc of friendship itself- people come into your life at times and you share a bond and a route for a while and then they go one way and you go another and maybe you pick up someone else along the road and it's for just a block but it's a good block and you remember it fondly and perhaps there's another time when you follow someone for miles and you're traveling at the same pace and going to the same place and when you pay attention you notice that you're pedaling is synchronized and it's just a fortuitous and temporary accident.

I rode to the top of the hill. Not so bad today. It was a beautiful morning.