1/17/13

Ride Home 1/16 and Ride In 1/17: Stand Up For Your Rites

My feelings about riding down Massachusetts Avenue wildly vacillate depending on the weather conditions. If it's nice out and the roads are dry, it's the favorite part of my commute. Add rain and I hate it. Maybe not hate, but I certainly don't enjoy it. Wet roads and long downhills just aren't my thing. In fact, I'll even confess that I'm (healthily?) scared of them and I will go slowly and clutch my brakes and worry about falling down and my distanced advice to myself is that I shouldn't do this because there's nothing so counterproductive as riding scared. Well, maybe riding into a back of bus. So, I go slowly and it works for me and I've yet to be honked at by an angry driver and I think that this is a useful reminder that most people in cars aren't antagonistic to most people on bikes and there's some solace to be taken in this and maybe I'll think of this solace during the next time I ride down Massachusetts Avenue on wet roads. For what it's worth, I still think it's safer to ride down the hill in the street rather than on sidewalk. 

Embassy Row is nice and I pass a lot of embassies and consulates, but I've never once even seen the Zapf Chancery, so I'm not even sure if we have diplomatic relations with those folks and their nice font. Embassy Row, known for its embassies, is also know for its street parking restrictions, which limit parking to diplomatic vehicles, which in many cases, aren't moved when the parking lane, supposedly, converts back into a travel lane, and this is because of diplomatic immunity or maybe because the diplomats are just busy or forgot. And this creates a fuzzy situation in which there's really only one lane, but some drivers like to pretend that there's one and a half lanes and this creates all sorts of exciting situations for bicyclists. Exciting situations are the worst. 

Here are some bicycle-related accomplishments that have happened over the last four years. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if there were no bicyclists or bike lanes.  I know that my life would certainly be worse for it, but I don't think that the average non-bicyclist would be any better for it. It wouldn't make the Beltway any better. All the streets that have bike lanes would get, what, maybe 8 to 10 more feet for cars. Not sure that that's a game changer. in DC 3.7 miles of cycle track would go away, so that could marginally maybe vaguely help some streets. There'd be no decorative bike racks, so that's a plus for sidewalks. So, even if bicyclists all just took the bus or teleported to work or did something that didn't involve any more cars to the road, I just don't know how dramatic the net impact would be. For all of the column inches and virtual editorial ink spilled on bicyclists, I wonder if anyone has actually realized that a world without us is pretty much the same [this veered into the bleakly existential. whoops]. I guess this shows how much more we need to do. 

L Street to 15th to the sidewalk next to the security booth because the road/driveway is blocked with inaugural whatnot and then to Pennsylvania Avenue, which remains as yet still open to car and bicycle traffic. It also remains highly crossable by scofflaw taxi drivers. I hope Uber runs all the scofflaw drivers out of business. 

Up the hill and down the street to home. I rode past a woman on East Captiol who was using her CaBi commute time to talk on the phone (via headphones) and this seems like good multitasking if whomever your talking to doesn't mind being told "on your left" on at least one occasion. Maybe it was even pertinent to the phone conversation, which makes it even better multitasking. 

It wasn't even cold and raining this morning. I wore my raincoat anyway, in advance of the forecasted snow, which now most likely won't happen.

Car parking has been replaced with truck and bus parking in front of the Capitol. You can ride through it still. At least, no one yet has shot at me.


This is the $342,000 viewing stand from which our local elected officials will watch the inaugural parade. 

Other things in a more perfect union: cheaper parade viewing stands
At the intersection of Pennsylvania and 15th, I had a delightful encounter with yet another driver who doesn't understand the bike traffic light. Is it so difficult to understand? That's not really even a rhetorical question. Could DDOT better place a left red arrow by the bike light to make it much more obvious or is that even more confusing? 

Pleasantly surprised to see Chris at the intersection of Pennsylvania and 17th. He was padding his miles for freezing saddles, having taken the long way to his office on L Street. We rode Pennsylvania together and chatted, mostly about the stop signs on the W&OD trail. I think it's dumb to have stop signs on a trail, especially at intersections where there is little car traffic. As Chris said, the W&OD is the closest thing we have to a bike highway and we wouldn't put stop signs on 66, so why do it there? If only there were some kind of sign that could indicate that bicyclists should YIELD to car traffic when there is some, but could otherwise pass through without stopping. Alas, such signs, let's call them "Yield signs," don't exist and aren't part of the common traffic lexicon. WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. Though, it would probably cost $6 million to replace the signs, so might as well just not. 

We rode to 22nd, then L and I rode to 20th and then to Massachusetts and up the hill to work and I worked there all day, workingly. 

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