Wednesday, September 10 2008 @ 02:53 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
[From the Bike Washington list:]
Last year I bought a bike to help lose weight and get back into shape. I rode bike trails all summer, sometimes riding 80 miles a week. By the time 2008 came around I was 60 pounds lighter than I was when 2007 started.
So when spring of 2008 came I was working long hours and needed a way to keep the weight off. By April, gas was hitting $4 a gallon. The choice was clear, it was time to start bike commuting. Thanks to the folks on this list I figured out a route and my first day for bike commuting was April 16th. I started out riding two days a week but after about a month I went to riding three days a week, and taking Metro on Monday and Friday to stage my clothes.
So I'd like to point out some observations about my summer spent commuting:
- I only drove to work four or five times, and only once because it was raining. A couple of times I drove in because I overslept and was running late.
- Riding in street traffic isn't half as bad as it looks.
- I saved enough money on gas to buy myself a brand new 17" laptop from Best Buy.
- Despite all the horror stories, I found out that the drivers in this city are remarkably tolerant of cyclists.
- I only had someone come up behind me on the street and lay on the horn one time. Happened on M. St SE on my way home. The driver never even passed me because they wound up taking a right turn while I was still in front.
- The only other negative experience was when some jerk decided to blast me with his horn while I was using the pedestrian crossing over Washington Blvd coming off Memorial Bridge. I hate this crossing with a passion. Half of the time you have to play "chicken" with the cars to get them to stop.
- I only had two close calls. Once, a tourist did a 270-degree turn at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery and almost hit me. It was slow speed so I think it only would have wound up with a crunched bike rather than a crunched cyclist. I think I scared him more than he scared me because I was yelling WHOA like a maniac.
- The other close call was with a pedestrian on that narrow sidewalk on 50. She was coming right at me and I was sure she would see me. Wrong. At 7AM, pedestrians are looking at their feet, sleepwalking. They will not notice the 200LB cyclist bearing down on them, even though they are facing you.
- I learned to ring my bike bell. A lot. Pedestrians sleepwalk. A lot.
- Sometimes you will see other bike commuters do things you should not attempt. Like, riding on 50 where the Glebe Road overpass is. I decided to try it myself the next day. And as soon as I was on the other side I decided to never try it again.
- I really, really, miss the cutoff in Fort Myer. That hill is nasty.
- The Maine Ave fish market stinks in the morning. In the afternoon it smells like french fries and Old Bay.
- Riding in the rain isn't so bad when it's warm. One morning I showed up at work, sopping wet and covered with mud from the construction site in Fort Myer. Kevin the security guard took one look at me and said "Cyrus, you crazy!"
All in all it was a very positive experience. I kept in shape, learned a lot about riding bikes, and had fun.