As I rode home in the December chill with my hands throbbing and my toes fading to numb, I thought about how much I love winter commuting in D.C. The short days and cold weather combine to noticeably reduce the bike and pedestrian traffic, leaving only the stalwart year-round riders out on the roads and paths.
Today was a gorgeous round trip commute. This morning Felkerino and I went for a pre-work lap around Hains Point and spied one of the bald eagles that hangs out there in the winter. Welcome back.
The Lincoln Memorial and the Kennedy Center cast bright reflections into the Potomac River as I rode around this evening. The trails leading out of the city were quiet, giving me plenty of time to enjoy the clear night.
As I rode along the river I saw the pinhole lights of the planes all neatly lined up to make their descent into National Airport.
The riders I passed or that passed me exhibited politeness and good front and rear illumination. Somebody even smiled at me! I pedaled home via the “new” Maine Avenue, reveling in the smooth new asphalt and the widened sidewalk. I was in bike commute heaven.
Washington, D.C., is a good city for winter commuting. The weather hardly ever makes the roads unrideable, and it is unusual to have perilous road conditions for any significant amount of time. If we get snow, it tends to melt pretty quickly in the city. Yeah, it gets cold, but temperatures rarely sink into or below the ‘teens (I hope I have not jinxed us with that comment).
Organizations like WABA have worked to make D.C. a better place for bike commuting and the District Department of Transportation has responded. That is reflected in some of the areas I ride like Maine Avenue, where the city replaced the 4-foot-wide multi-use sidewalk with a new 14-foot-wide trail. Of course, there is always more to do to make D.C. a cyclists’ paradise (e.g., no cars inside the Beltway), but in the meantime I’ll make do with these tangible bike-friendly improvements to our city.
All that jostled around in my noggin as my nose ran and I cycled my way through the city. And just as my hands stopped throbbing and my feet warmed up, I was home, and I ran inside to write to you about this beautiful day on the bike.