Bicycles are Not Cars: Girl on a Bike on #BikeDC Speaks
We’re back for the final installment of the #BikeDC Speaks series.
If you ride in the D.C. area and do any blog reading or tweeting, you have probably heard of Girl on a Bike, aka Kate. A regular commuter and excellent blogger, Kate regularly participates in a lot of local #BikeDC events. I’m thrilled that she agreed to guest post for #BikeDC Speaks. Thank you, Girl on a Bike!
I’d also like to thank everyone who participated in this series of posts. #BikeDC Speaks featured 8 local cyclists, six women and two men. Some contributors began commuting regularly within the last year or two and others have commuted for several years.
I hope to do a little aggregation of the themes discussed by each contributor and share these in later posts down the road. In the meantime, please enjoy Kate’s post. I know that I did!
1. How long have you been riding in the D.C. area?
I have been riding regularly now for about 5 or 6 years. I first got the idea that I needed a bicycle on September 11, 2001. I distinctly remember how screwed people were that were on foot, on metro or in cars. Bikes are definitely the way to go in a major disaster/zombie attack.
It took me another few years before I got brave enough to ride my bike “in traffic” (and I remember how chuffed I was for riding an entire 5 blocks IN THE STREET OMG). Haven’t looked back since.
2. What sorts of things do you do by bike?
Anything and everything! Shopping, commuting, visiting friends, exploring new places.
3. What do you like about bicycling in D.C.?
D.C. is such an amazing city and traveling through and around it by bicycle gives me a completely different perspective, whether it’s a slow tootle along the Mall watching the tourists and monuments or riding along D.C.’s many trails. I’ve discovered so many new things (canal lock houses!) and places (the Capital Crescent Trail) that I never knew about before I started riding a bike.
4. What are the challenges of bicycling here?
DC is an urban area, and that means getting along with people from all different backgrounds and experiences, many of whom have different ideas about cycling and what is “correct” and “safe.” We all need to share the same spaces together and that can get difficult with so many people.
5. What parts of the city do you consider bike-friendly and why?
That’s a difficult question for me to answer because the majority of my biking has been in the Northwest quadrant, and very little in the others. There are many bike lanes and shops and bike share stations. I would consider Northwest fairly friendly.
6. What could the District do to make it an even better city for cyclists?
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.
7. Any thoughts about Capital BikeShare?
I love Capital Bikeshare! I have five of my own bikes, but CaBi has come in handy plenty of times- specifically when I’ve just dropped off a bike at the shop and I need a ride home.
I love convincing my skeptical out-of-town guests to just try it, and then seeing the look of joy on their faces when they realize how much more fun it is to bike around DC.
8. What is one of the best pieces of advice anyone has given you about bicycling?
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).
9. What advice do you have about cycling in the city?
It’s fun and safer than you might think.
10. What is a word or phrase that summarizes your D.C. bicycling experience?
11. What did I not ask about #BikeDC that you want to add?
Cycling can open so many doors. I didn’t even consider going to a Nats game until I realized they had a bike valet at the stadium. Now I’m a huge fan.
I’ve discovered so many things about this city that I never knew about by riding my bike (I got a pretty thorough D.C. history lesson one year from a fellow rider at BikeDC.) I got engaged at a canal lock house because of a bike trip my fiancé and I took along the towpath. Biking is awesome!
Such a rich post, Kate. I love what you have to say about bicycles needing their own set of rules on the road as well as how bicycling can help a person discover the city.
Have a question for Kate? Note it in the comments!