#BikeDC Speaks to Lisa S.: Growing Up as a Cyclist

What better way to send us into the 4th of July holiday than with another edition of BikeDC Speaks?

This week features Lisa S., who I know through randonneuring and Friday Coffee Club, our weekly bike commuter gathering at Swings. Lisa also writes an engaging blog, Rambling Rider, about her rides as well as the gear she’s using.

Thank you, Lisa, for being a guest contributor for BikeDC Speaks! What are her observations about riding in the city? Read on and see!

1. How long have you been riding in the D.C. area?

I’ve been riding in the D.C. area for a little over 2 years. I moved here 3 years ago, but didn’t have a bike when I arrived. It took me a while to get settled in before I was in a position to buy a bike.

2. What sorts of things do you do by bike?

I bike mostly to commute– I either ride to the Metro and hop on the train to work, or I ride to work. I will occasionally run errands by bike, but most of my errands are close enough for me to walk.

I also enjoy recreational riding. I’ve ridden several rides with different bike shops and with Potomac Pedalers, and a couple brevets with D.C. Randonneurs.

3. What do you like about bicycling in D.C.?

I think the infrastructure here is much better than in other cities I’ve lived in. Lots of bike lanes, cycle tracks, and dedicated trails. There are also plenty of bike racks around.

Through bicycling, I’ve met some really great people, and I’m grateful to have this network.

4. What are the challenges of bicycling here?

As with many cities, the main challenge is negotiating the roads with motor vehicles. For the most part, there is an awareness of cyclists by drivers (and vice versa), but I think it could be better.

5. What parts of the city do you consider bike-friendly and why?

I’m still getting to know the city! I think Downtown, Adams Morgan, and Capitol Hill are bike-friendly because of the accessibility to lanes and wider streets.

There are parts of the upper Northwest and Northeast that are more motor vehicle-oriented and less friendly to bicycles.

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

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.

7. Any thoughts about Capital BikeShare?

I love Capital Bikeshare! I used it while I was looking for a bike, commuting to work. I’m happy to see that it’s grown so quickly.

It’s a great way to get around the city, and a good supplement to owning a bike when yours is in the shop, or if you’re doing a quick trip around town and don’t want to worry about locking yours up.

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

I’ve gotten so much good advice that I don’t know which to choose! I guess 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.

9. What advice do you have about cycling in the city?

Always be aware of your surroundings.
Look ahead for any unexpected happenings.
Know the rules of the road.
Be courteous to pedestrians and other bicyclists.

10. What is a word or phrase that summarizes your D.C. bicycling experience?

Maturity. I was still a neophyte to bicycling when I arrived at DC, and I feel I’m learning more and more about city and recreational cycling as I go. I think my experience here has been about growing up, and it’s been a supportive environment to learn.

11. What did I not ask about #BikeDC that you want to add?

Friday Coffee Club rules!

Well said, Lisa! Thank you so much for sharing how riding in D.C. has matured you as a cyclist, AND thanks again for being part of BikeDC speaks. Happy 4th of July, everybody!

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