Tag Archives: commuting

Bike Parking in the City: Issues and Etiquette

Bike parking in the city can be a tricky business. Many parts of the city (at least the ones I visit in the District) do not have enough racks to accommodate all the bikes of those who want to park in the area.

Bikes get crowded onto racks or, if those are not available, we seek out other alternatives such as locking to a parking sign pole or other pieces of metal that look sturdy and theft-proof.

Advanced bike parking skills

Advanced bike parking skills

I don’t drive in the city, but I suppose that bike parking is far less of a problem than car parking. It’s certainly much cheaper! Even so, D.C. is not a bike parking paradise– not yet, anyway—which means we often end up parking in uncomfortable proximity to others. Drop bars intertwine awkwardly with flat bars. Miscellaneous pieces of metal from one bike sidle up to those of another.

Art Bike Rack

Art Bike Rack

I think that a general lack of decent bike parking is my main issue with “art” bike racks. If the city already had ample racks for bikes, I would think they were a fine addition to the city. However, unless an artsy bike rack can fit bikes like a basic inverted “U” rack does, I do not see their value.

An art bike rack is not going to inspire more people to bike, and I don’t think they add that much to the aesthetic of the city, just as an inverted U rack does not detract from it. But I digress.

Bike rack parking. Betty Foy

I accept that uncomfortable bike intimacy is the result of life in a city where people are riding more and bike parking is limited and deal with it every day on my commute.

However, one day I went to retrieve my bike and discovered that someone’s extrication of his or her bike from the work rack caused my bike to fall on the ground. It was just lying there, poor dejected bike.

Because of the way I had parked the bike I know that the only way it would have fallen over was from an external impact like pushing the bike out of the way, say by shoving the handlebars.

Dramatization. Not actual bike from incident. (It was too painful to photograph!)

Dramatization. Not actual bike from incident. (It was too painful to photograph!)

Later I accepted that I had potentially contributed to the situation by only locking the bike by the down tube, which left it less stable than if I would have locked the front wheel and the down tube together to the rack. Doing that would have made it tougher to knock over.

I had always thought that if my bike fell over that the cyclist who helped it get there would pick it up. Who knows, maybe this has happened to my bikes many times in the past, and I’ve not even been aware of it.

I thought it was part of the code—not the Bike Commuter Code, but one of its subparts, the Bike Parking Code—to pick up someone else’s bike if you had a role in knocking it over. That’s what I do. I thought it was what everybody did.

Being a Midwesterner, where there seems to be more personal space for everyone to move about, these types of issues can really get to me. Crowding can get on my nerves. Most times I shrug it off and think of it as life in the city. But seeing my bike disregarded and flopped on the ground hurt my feelings, especially when I am 98 percent sure it was a fellow cyclist who helped cause my bike to fall.

What do other riders do? If someone else’s bike fell while you were removing yours from a bike rack, would you stop to upright it? Or is there no established etiquette for this sort of thing?

If your bike fell over in front of me, I would pick it up. I promise.

Velo Orange Mixte Commutes & the Search for the Ideal Bags

Lately I’ve been on a mission to ride all of my bikes more often. This is partially due to needing to clean the Surly LHT as well as change out a tube, but also because if I’m going to own multiple bikes I feel should make the effort to ride them all.

Velo Orange Mixte and Berthoud

The past couple weeks, I’ve commuted almost exclusively on my Velo Orange Mixte, built up from a frame set I purchased over two years ago.

The Velo Orange is a great town bike. Reasonably priced and built up primarily with existing parts in the Dining Room Bike Shop (most of them coming off of my old commuter, a Novara Randonnee), I’m happy to be riding it again.

Me on the Velo Orange Mixte

I do not have the Velo Orange set up with a rear rack at all so I have been messing around with my bag system in order to have enough carrying capacity to haul my stuff to and from the office and give me a little extra room in case I stop for something on the way home.

Initially, I had the bike set up with a front Berthoud bag (a lovely gift from Felkerino) and a rear Acorn saddle bag that I purchased several years ago. Acorn has recently brought these saddle bags back and I think they are beautiful.

When I rode the mixte like this I was in bag heaven, as these are the two most aesthetically pleasing bags that I own. However, I found the carrying capacity to be insufficient. While the Berthoud bag fit my purse perfectly, the Acorn saddle bag did not provide enough space for the other things I wanted to carry.

Velo Orange Mixte and Acorn

The Acorn is designed to accommodate 5.5 liters or so.Even though I keep my work clothes and shoes at the office, I carry gym clothes and a U-lock every day as well as other essentials, and frequently stop at the grocery store on the way home. So as much as I loved the Acorn bag it became a situation analogous to wearing shoes that hurt my feet, but that I still kept wearing because they looked so awesome.

Last week I removed the Acorn and installed a more industrial black Carradice Nelson longflap we had in stock in the Dining Room Bike Shop bag department. According to the Carradice site, the Nelson can carry 18 liters.

Velo Orange Mixte and Carradice

The Nelson’s size was much better for commuting. I strapped the bag on to my bike using the tabs on my Brooks saddle and affixing another strap to my seatpost. I did not use a Bagman because I don’t like them.

Initially I worried that the Carradice Nelson would be too large for the bike and that it would rub on the fender, making the fender in turn rub my tire, but that has not happened so far. The bag nestles cozily in between the fender and my saddle and has been working out great. As I said, it’s not as stylish as the Acorn, but functionality wins the day on my commute.

Velo Orange Mixte

I love the Berthoud front bag, but I have also been thinking about switching it out because I would be so upset if it was stolen. It is secured tightly to the bike, but given that it is on a bike I use to run errands and sometimes sits outside locked to a rack (poor bike), it might make more sense to move it onto another bike. Any thoughts? Am I overthinking its value? Use what you already own and all that?

I have other plans for the Acorn so it will not linger long in the Dining Room Bike Shop bag department. In the meantime, the Berthoud and Carradice Nelson make for a good urban commute setup on the Velo Orange Mixte.

How to Make the City a Better Place for Cyclists

As I wrote last week, I’m bringing back the BikeDC Speaks series to highlight some of the questions and issues it raised. This time, I’m also asking you to share your ideas and suggestions.

Carradice-heavy commute and me

Last week’s post asked about the best advice anyone ever gave you about cycling. This week’s question is:

What could the District do to make it an even better city for cyclists?

Compared to many other places in the United States, I think D.C. has decent cycling infrastructure. However, it’s far from perfect. Below are the thoughts of eight BikeDC commuters and utility cyclists.

What would you add? How can the District become an even better place for cyclists?

Or, if you do not live in the D.C.-area, what are the issues your community is facing and how could they be addressed?

Traffic enforcement. I get that crime is a problem, but if the city spent more time taming the 3,000-pound beasts, it would do a lot to make the place safer for everyone (and bring in lots of revenue).

Maybe then neighborhoods would become the walkable and bikeable spaces we’d all like, rather than vehicle thoroughfares.

-Marc M.

I know there’s political controversy about this, but I’d love to see infrastructure throughout the entire city. If there was a way to effectively educate motor vehicle drivers how to share the road with bicyclists, that would be great. And I think all bicyclists should take a class in street cycling.

-Lisa

More driver education about awareness of bicycles, bicycle rights, how to interact with bikes. That applies to all jurisdictions in the metro area. I guess it really applies all over the country. That kind of education should begin in the drivers’ training classes.

-Joan

Widen some of the bike paths. Rock Creek Park bike path is much too narrow in so many places. Practically, it’s only useful for a leisurely weekend bike ride.

Continue to install bike lanes, especially a cross-town route. I usually take Pennsylvania Avenue to get across town and that works well, but bike lanes on M Street would be a big improvement.

-Kirstin

Downtown is a nightmare, as are most of the major arteries in the city. If we could find a way to get bike lanes on roads like K Street and New York Avenue, we might find there are even more people willing to bike.

-Laura

I wish the commuter trains (VRE and MARC) took bikes, and I wish those trains ran on weekends. That would really extend my abilities to bicycle out in the boonies without having to use a car to get there. I miss the bike trains that New York Cycle Club used to run using Metro North.

Amtrak should have roll-on access for bikes, especially on their one train that runs out to Pittsburgh, for people who want to ride the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and C&O Canal Towpath.

And there’s that parking situation. Some cities in Switzerland actually have rows and rows of covered bicycle parking in major shopping districts. (It’s just thick plastic sheeting suspended over a metal frame, but still …)

-Leslie

Many of the things that DDOT is already working on will continue to improve the landscape: more dedicated lanes and separated lanes with better signage. My longtime personal gripe to DDOT is about the lack of a “No Outlet” sign on Water Street heading towards the Capital Crescent Trail in Georgetown!

Where it makes sense and where there’s room, multi-use trails should have separate paths for walkers and cyclists. Northern Europe has got this figured out – and even Chicago’s Lake Shore trail has some divided stretches that work pretty well. It would be nice for some of our region’s trails as well.

-Chris

Stop trying to force cyclists to be cars. Seriously, stop it. This “cyclists share the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles” is ridiculous.

My bicycle is not a car. Cars are not bicycles. To lump them together and hold them to the same standard is unfair and ineffective.

Cyclists need their own sets of public safety laws and expectations-and not just as an after-thought to the D.C. Municipal Regulations for motor vehicles. Revamp the existing codes and give cyclists their own road rules.

-Kate

As always, thanks to the BikeDC peeps who brought this series to life and to all of you for reading.

What’s the Best Advice Anyone Gave You about Cycling?

Back in the fall, I put together a series that explored D.C.-area cyclists’ views and experiences about riding in the city.

Surly LHT with Ortliebs

#BikeDC Speaks featured 8 local cyclists– six women and two men. Some contributors began commuting regularly within the last year or two while others have commuted for several years. Thanks again to all the people who made this series come to life!

I initially featured each post by contributor. I am now presenting the series to highlight some of the questions and ideas shared.

This time I’m also asking you, dear readers and fellow riders, what are your answers to these questions?

OK, first question:

What is one of the best pieces of advice anyone has given you about bicycling?

The best clothes to wear and the best bike to ride are those that you enjoy using. It’s not about how you look or how much money you spend.

-Marc M.

One of best things I’ve been told is how to shift gears for climbing up hills. Spinning versus mashing. I’m still getting a feel for what works.

-Lisa

Just ride, just get on your bike, don’t overthink it.

-Joan O.

Stay completely out of “the door zone” even if you have to take the lane. It doesn’t seem that dangerous, but it is – think about where you’ll land when you bounce off that door. You can’t imagine how quickly a car door opens until you see it happen.

-Kirstin

Just ride.

-Laura

Everyone is out to kill you, but don’t take it personally. Just kidding! Cycling is a very safe activity and we all have the same goal: to get from point A to point B as quickly and safely as possible, whether on foot, bike, or car (or those awful rollerblades and segways).

-Kate

Take the lane.

-Leslie T.

I dont know if it’s advice, but one great saying about cycling that I read on Twitter lately – @lkono, I believe gets credit- was something like “Only when you’re a cyclist do you actually wish that your commute lasted longer!”

-Chris B.

And what about you? What’s the best piece of advice anyone gave you about bicycling?

The Politics of Bike Parking at Work

I recently began a new job, and my lovely setup of parking my bike in my office is no more. I now work in a cube and have no space to park a bike. I could use my Tikit or Dahon folder, but I have not put the time in to make either of them what I would consider “commute ready.”

Instead, I continue to ride my Surly LHT and park my bike in one of two places at my building:

  1. The underground parking garage that has inverted U-shaped racks to accommodate about 20 bikes. 
  2. A prison bar-style outdoor bike rack that is mostly covered (depending on what direction the wind blows), and can theoretically fit 50 bikes, but from my point of view is basically worthless for those of us that use fenders and a U-lock with the exception of the end spaces.

During the winter months, I have made regular use of the garage. It reduces the time I need to spend in the cold locking and unlocking my bike and it keeps my bike decently warm so my hands do not immediately turn to ice when I put them on the handlebars.

However, I will still occasionally park outside and lock to what I consider the substandard prison bar-style rack.

Through commuting regularly to my job in this shared parking environment, I have begun to notice funny things about us bike commuters.

This is my spot

  • The early bird gets the primo parking.

The earlier I can get to work, the more choices I have about where to park. The closer to nine a.m., and the worse the selection becomes. This encourages me to get out the door with enough time to stake my claim at one of the indoor U-shaped racks.

  • If I have to park outside on the prison bar-style rack, I only want to use an end space. 

As I wrote previously, I have a tough time swallowing parking that requires me to lift my bike up and over a bike rack. It Is a pain to park with fenders installed and I am certain that I am scratching the BEEP out of the underside of my downtube when I do it.

Instead of having to deal with launching the front of the bike over the rack, I make an effort to get to the office early enough to score U-shaped rack or at least an end space on the outdoor bar-style rack.

  • Some commuters are possessive of “their spot.” 

Through this shared parking experience, I’ve realized that I am not possessive about one particular spot. Rather, I like to have types of parking from which to choose. I want to be able to park at any of the U-shaped racks that are available or, if none are available, I want one of the end spots on the bar-style rack outside the building. OK, I concede that I am possessive about those end spaces!

Other than that, I do not care. However, there are some people who DO care. They have specific spots where they want to be. I’m not sure how they feel if someone inadvertently takes their spot, but I imagine they do experience a little disappointment. Why? Who knows. Like I said, we commuters can be funny.

Locks on racks

At least five locks on this rack

  • Some people like to leave their locks at the office.

Many of the spaces indoors have multiple locks on them. I don’t know if this is somehow related to people having “their spot” and this is one of the ways they mark it, or if it is because people don’t like to carry their locks on their bikes.  I tend to think the latter.

As a person who uses my bike not only to get to work but to run errands after work, I do not leave my lock at the office. I never know when I will need it. This apparently is not be the case for other commuters, whose path must be directly from home to work and back again. These locks can junk up the racks a little, but not so much that it makes parking an issue.

  • Some people think it’s fine to leave their bikes in long-term parking at the office.

I could not imagine leaving my bike at the office for anything more than the occasional overnight due to extreme weather or other unexpected circumstances. However, there are some commuters who do not think like that, and are completely ok with leaving their bikes at the office for several days, if not longer.

There is also one individual who uses his bike exclusively for sport. He or she does not commute on the bike, but rather, leaves the bike at work (in one of the primo indoor parking spots) to ride either over lunch or after work or I don’t know when.

I find this situation  peculiar because it conflicts with what I believe the purpose of the bike racks to be, which is to provide a space for people who are using their bikes for tranportation to and from the office. At the same time, it’s great that the person is riding their bike to exercise. I think if we had the luxury of more indoor parking I would not notice this bike or care as much. However, we don’t.

Look mom, no fenders!

Look mom, no fenders!

  • Some people don’t care as much as I do about where they park their bikes.

At least three or four commuters consistently park their steeds in the prison bar-style rack. Even when there is an end space available on these racks, they have no qualms hefting their bikes and locking them up in the middle of the rack. I also notice that these riders do not have fenders on their bikes. Part of me envies their carefree ways, but mostly, I think we should get a better rack for outside our building.

  • I compare my bike to other bikes.

If you read this blog at all, you know that my Surly Long Haul Trucker is my primary commuter and I’m quite proud of it. I like how it looks, it rides well, and I’m please with how I have accessorized it. Whenever I park my bike, I check out the other bikes around me to see what people are riding: road bikes with no fenders (what?!); Linus bikes; hybrids; mountain bikes; and many others. I look at the lights, racks, and other accessories people choose to adorn their bikes and light up their rides.

On rare occasions I spy a person with tastes I admire. I’ve even seen someone in our garage who rides a Surly and uses a Carradice (like me!). Unfortunately, we are not on the same work schedule so I can only imagine what he or she must be like in real life.

Checking out how other people choose to bike to work is fun.

Inverted U racks, and a bike I admire

Inverted U racks, and a bike I admire

  • I am sensitive about people parking next to me.

Due to our limited spaces, parking will be tight. Even so, it’s taking me time to adjust to sharing space at the bike racks. I attribute this to being from Iowa, where I grew up accustomed to a lot of personal space.

My lack of comfort about the proximity of other bikes to mine is strange because when I’m outside running errands, I don’t care nearly as much. I park wherever I can, and if others park next to me, I just don’t want them to accidentally lock their bike to mine. I’m trying my best to transfer this mentality to my daily parking at the office, but it’s taking time.

Bike parking is an area of improvement for many businesses. In my case, we do alright, but I wish we had space for 20 more bikes in the underground parking garage. I think that would  allow all those who bike commute to park inside if they choose and I would not care so much about a person (or two) who leaves his or her bike at the office for midday or post-work sport riding.

Man, I did not realize all the stuff I was missing when I could park my bike in my office with me. Parking in shared space has given me much more food for thought.

What about you? How does your bike parking situation compare and what things have you noticed?

Summer Commutes on the Velo Orange Mixte

I tend to have an overall preference for diamond frames, and never considered myself a mixte sort of person. However, a couple of years ago Velo Orange was selling off a batch of their mixte frames at the attractive price of $300 so I mixed up the bike stable by adding a mixte to it.

Velo Orange Mixte, acquitting herself well after climbing a steep hill

Over the next year Felkerino and I (okay, mostly Felkerino) built it up with a variety of parts from the Dining Room Bike Shop, including the front Rivendell Mark’s rack by Nitto, Nitto S83 seatpost, gearing, pedals, Tektro brakes, handlebars, and the bags.

I also purchased a couple of things especially for the mixte, including matte Velo Orange fenders, VO saddle, and a Pletscher kickstand.

I love that we were able to build up the Velo Orange mostly with things we already own. One of my favorite parts on the bike are these double-sided Shimano A530 pedals. Good for wearing with street shoes or SPDs.

Shimano Double-Sided Pedals

Also, it may go without saying, but I am especially proud of the bags on this bike. They’re just delicious. The front Berthoud bag was a gift from Felkerino. It’s big enough to carry my lunch and a few personal items, but not so large that it feels bulky or weighs the bike down in front.

Front Small Berthoud Bag

Nitto Front Rack for the Bertoud. Securely affixed.

The tan Acorn bag, which I purchased on a whim, is made by a couple out of California. Sadly, they no longer make this rear saddlebag, which I find to be the perfect size for a bike like the Velo Orange. Not too big, not too small… just right.

Rear Acorn Saddlebag

After the build was complete, the mixte spent a lot of time languishing in the Dining Room Bike Shop. For some reason, I convinced myself that I wasn’t stylish enough to ride it. I also wasn’t sure about its carrying capacity.

I needn’t have worried on either front. First, I may not be stylish enough for it, but I don’t care. There’s no requirement that a person has to be stylish for a commute around town. A regular shirt and shorts work just fine.

No fashion police arrests. A shirt and shorts work just fine for commuting on the mixte.

The Velo Orange mixte is a great getting-around town bike. It’s carrying capacity is somewhat reduced compared to my Surly LHT (which is set up for panniers in addition to a Carradice bag). I can pick up a little something at the store after work if I need to, but the Velo Orange is definitely not well-suited to a big post-work grocery run.

Nevertheless, there’s still ample storage in the Acorn saddlebag and the Berthoud. The bags easily stow my workout clothes, lunch, U-lock and tools, as well as any other daily essentials.

The upright position and handling make it lots of fun to ride. The bike is quick to respond to any turn I make, and the wider hand positioning compared to drop bars is a refreshing change.

With the exception of the more upright handling, the Velo Orange does not feel much different than my other bikes. For some reason, I thought sloping top tube would make it feel stodgy or noodly or something, but I have not found that.

The bike accepts a small front load easily, and it still handles well. It even passes the no-handed test. See?

No hands? No problem. Going no-handed on the VO mixte.

As I mentioned, I do sit more vertically on this bike than others in my stable, and it makes me feel like I’m just tooling around, seeing the sites, taking in the tourists. There’s no pressure AT ALL to ride fast. Just ride my pace and get there when I get there.

Even so, the bike feels responsive and zippy. I push the pedals and they go. I turn the bars and we’re off and running. I don’t know if that’s because I am forced to not haul a bunch of stuff around or if that’s the natural feel of the bike. I tend to think it’s a little of both.

With the Pletscher kickstand, I can park the bike anywhere. No leaning! That’s a great convenience, especially when I’m overcome by the need to take a bike glamour shot.

VO Mixte glamour shot in front of the World War II Memorial

Last week, I finally put the Surly LHT back into service after a full month of nonstop mixte commutes. I needed to haul more than the mixte was able to carry. It was nice to be back on the Surly and to have its extra carrying capacity, but this past month has been great for solidifying my appreciation of the Velo Orange mixte.

The mixte is a perfect bike for days when I don’t plan to do any post-work grocery shopping or general hauling of stuff. On a day-to-day basis, I require less storage space than I’ve grown to think I need.

The Velo Orange also reminded me of the “just ride” principle. Just get on your bike. Wear whatever clothes you want. Ride your bike. Commuting is not a fashion show (though I do like to get a little bike love now and then). It’s about getting around town on whatever you choose to ride and meeting your transportation needs under the power of your own two feet.

The Appeal of the Run Commute

Run Commute by the Smithsonian

Because I have a fall running event coming up, I’ve inserted a couple of run commutes into my weekly commute diet. While cycling is my primary mode of commuting, mixing it up with run commuting has proven quite pleasant.

Not surprisingly, my running route to and from the office varies from my bike routine. First, I don’t run in the streets. HA! Second, I don’t run in the 15th Street bike lane. HA HA!

I’ve figured out a quiet, low-traffic, point-to-point run commute route. It takes me through one of the Smithsonian gardens and across the National Mall, both of which I find to be particularly peaceful in the morning.

The most direct path is 2.5 miles one way, and I can easily extend the mileage if I choose, basically by adding extra miles along the Mall. Who doesn’t like running on the Mall? The lack of cars (except at intersections), the hard packed surface that’s easy impact on the body, the striking memorials and monuments… I’ve been a D.C. resident since 2001 and I never tire of it.

Run commuting forces me to travel light, since everything I take to the office on my back, I have to haul back home on my back. On my run commute days, I minimize. There’s also no coasting (unlike cycling), though I will slow my pace to a walk if need be.

Perspective also shifts not only due to the distinct route, but also because I morph from cyclist to pedestrian. I watch tourists peruse maps and glance uncertainly at their surroundings. I see the inscrutable faces of people walking to work, and encounter the occasional work colleagues chatting and striding purposefully from the nearest Starbucks, cups in hand, ready to get their day under way.

I also spy other run commuters. While not plentiful, there are more than I thought when I first began to run commute. You can recognize them by their workout wear and backpacks. Oh, and the fact that they’re running, too!

Running and biking. Both great ways to get around they city, each with their own appeal. I’m happy to be changing up my routine this summer. Plus, running keeps my bikes clean.

Cupcake Commuting

Like other cities, the Washington, D.C., area has been seized by an obsession with cupcakes. That suits me perfectly because I love sweets. A few months ago, my friend and I rode to lunch in Ye Olde Towne, Alexandria. After our meal, we decided to pop by Lavender Moon Cupcakery and get a treat for the road. Their flourless chocolate cupcakes with sea salt are the best!

Cupcake Goodness. Flourless Chocolate with Sea Salt.

Beautiful Cupcakes

We each ordered two cupcakes to go, went out to our bikes, and packed our cupcakes for the return to Washington, D.C.  Maile packed hers in her handlebar bag, and I packed mine in the Carradice.

Cupcakes stored in the rear Carradice.

Precious Cargo. Cupcakes in the Handlebar Bag.

The ride from Old Town to D.C. is just over seven miles via the Mount Vernon Trail.  It’s a flat trip, but apparently has more bumps than I realized.  When I got home and unpacked, I found my cupcakes in a markedly different state than when they left Lavender Moon Cupcakery.

My Cupcake Commuting Technique Still Needs Work

I thought I rode with care, but the cupcakes tell a different story. Or maybe the cupcake to-go box is not bicycle-friendly. I lean toward the latter. I’m not sure what I can do to fix the cupcake commuting quandary so if you have any ideas or success stories, please let me know. And if you have any other good cupcake places to recommend with a more bike-friendly to-go system, I’d love to hear about them!

Fortunately, there was no crying over spilled cupcakes.  These little guys may have lost some of their aesthetic appeal in transit, but they were still quite edible and delicious. I just had to use a spoon. What a relief!

Capital Bikeshare Makes Life Better

Winter CaBi Bikeshare Panda

In my efforts to avoid Metro and breathe in the fresh Washington, D.C., air as much as possible, I’ve started riding Capital Bikeshare more frequently. Bikeshare is awesome! I just run over to the station nearest me, plug in my key to get a bike, yank the bike out as hard as I can, and off I go. All rides 30 minutes or less are included in my $75 annual membership.

Now, riding a Bikeshare bike is not an overly cool riding experience. These bikes are no Rivendells, ok? They have no real pep, and feel like bikes a child just graduated from training wheels might ride. A Capital Bikeshare steed is a lumbering three-speed beast that toddles along steadily with me atop it until I get to wherever I’m going. The wide foam saddle fits awkwardly below me, making me long for my Brooks saddle.

There is a lot that makes CaBi tranportation cool, though. The bikes are well-maintained and get me where I’m going. They have a nice spot in front where I can secure my bag so no hauling stuff on my back. Fenders and a mighty chainguard protect my clothes from debris.

With CaBi stations near my home and my office, I can make a spontaneous decision to hop on a bike and head off somewhere not directly along a Metro line, but easily within reach of a CaBi station. I can turn a 45-minute walk into a 15-minute ride. Today, I decided not to risk pedaling in because I didn’t know the road conditions. This afternoon, though, I used CaBi for my trip to the grocery store. I then rode another one home. So convenient.

Riding CaBi is also liberating to me in an unexpected way. When I’m riding one of my other bikes, I like to have a certain look. I admit it! (Some of you might be able to relate to this. Your own personal look, not mine!) I feel like I should look a little competent. No crooked helment. Color coordinated. Lots of wool base layers and Ibex. Sidi’s. Enough bike-specific gear to look like I know what I’m doing. Something to keep my pantleg from being eaten up by the chainring.

When I’m on CaBi, that stuff doesn’t matter one bit. Today, I wore a long wool coat, big blue hat, wool pants, and Danskos. No need for SPDs or my Sidi’s. CaBis have flat pedals! Cycling apparel on a CaBi bike? Why? Nothing I wore on my commute was bike-specific, except for my helmet.

CaBi riding attire

The other liberating aspect of riding CaBi is that nobody puts any expectations on me about my bike riding. Crooked helmet? Ten miles an hour? Work clothes instead of cycling-specific attire? Who cares! I’m on a CaBi bike. I just got my training wheels taken off!

Perfect Fall Friday!

I wasn’t going to post today, but the weather was so gorgeous in Washington, DC that it demanded some blog lines. Coming on the heels of a rainy and humid week, I’m certain this Friday was appreciated by many commuters.

Sunset by the Capitol

Early Evening and the Monument

My point-and-shoot can’t do the evening justice, but hopefully you get the idea.

Sometimes the daily commute chews me up and spits me out.

“Take that!” it seems to say.

Today, though, commuting through the city was the best thing about my day. I <3 Washington, D.C.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!