Ride Your Bikes, People

I’m fond of my active commute routine. My regular commute to work is predictable,  pleasant. Over the years I’ve devised a sweet route that minimizes high-volume car traffic, and I store a nice selection of seasonal work clothes in my office.

This week I’ve been thrust outside of my routine, which is pretty much a theme of 2016. Who needs routine? Routines are boring!

Due to training, I’ve been riding from Southwest D.C. essentially to Tenleytown. This has extended my commute from 4 miles to 8, and from a nice flat ride along the National Mall to a rather hilly route.

Once I arrive to my destination with my clothes and books in tow, I park my bike at a rack near my training, and rush inside to convert into my business casual I’m-here-to-learn training outfit. This outfit must be pannier-friendly, i.e., roll up into a ball and handle being stuffed inside a bag without wrinkling. Since I commute in Sidis, due to my SPD addiction, I’ve brought along minimalist shoes to wear with my dresses and other clothes.

I sure do miss my office, where I can change into an array of outfits depending on my mood, and even more critically, I don’t generally have to be ready to roll and presentable at a precise hour. (Can’t wait for next week!)

Nope, while at training, I park my bike on an outside rack. Every day, it’s been the only bike parked there.

I hurry into the restroom, pat myself dry as quickly as I can, and throw on the day’s outfit in a tiny stall where my funny bone seems to be constantly vulnerable. Oh funny bone, why?!

C&O Canal
Taking the long way, via the C&O Canal

My commute to class is a reverse commute, which I find delightful. While everyone is driving themselves into town, I’m going contraflow. Good thing, since I’m on my single speed and pretty much climbing uphill out of the saddle at who knows how slowly for miles on end. (Seriously. One day, a passersby shouted, “You’re doing great!” What is this, a stage race?)

The return route has required some tweaking and dialing back of my overall resentment towards cars. Yes, cars. If you know Georgetown, you know the residents of Georgetown love their cars, even though it means driving your car from one four-way stop to the next.

The car drivers don’t seem to care. Some of these drivers are the same residents who protested the installation of Metro in their neighborhood way back when so what can you do?

Today I finally said enough, and instead of heading back through Georgetown, I took a long cut so that I would end up on the Capital Crescent Trail. It was totally worth it. I pedaled more uninterrupted segments, rather than the stop-sign every block while I simultaneously contemplated the absolute necessity for all these people to choose cars as primary transportation.

This sentiment – which I’ll call my anti-car sentiment just to be completely up-front and clear about it – has grown over time. I’m the only person riding a bicycle to training, and everyone else is either driving or taking Metro.

The professors hand us piles of paper and I don’t understand why they can’t put it in a .pdf and allow us the option to get our books on Kindle or other e-reader. We’d save so much weight, space, and paper!

I’m still shocked that so few people choose active transportation. Bike commuters are on the rise in the city, and yet I’m the only person riding to this training.

Even though I arrive to campus a hot mess in desperate need of a few minutes to cool down along with paper towels to dry off, it’s totally worth it. I start the day with a sense of accomplishment, having made it up that hill from Goergetown on only one gear. What’s not to love about the active commute? Now if I could just stop wacking my funnybone in the bathroom stall.

10 thoughts on “Ride Your Bikes, People

  1. I’m feeling this in Portland. Before Portland became the “it” place, people who moved here I felt “got” what Portland was about to some degree, and part of that was to not drive that much, or at all. Now that Portland has been “discovered”, more people move here not caring about what the past couple generations of folks here were trying to achieve. So now we have a lot more people who just drive everywhere and wouldn’t think about biking or even taking the bus, and as you saw, Portland’s not a bad place to ride a bike or a bus! Part of it I think is that it’s because there’s more money now, and a certain class of folk who would never, ever, ever ride a bike or a bus, but maybe pay lip service to it. Ugh.

    But Uber’s going to save everything, right?

    Yeah, I realize how cranky I sound…

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    1. I have definitely thought – more than once over the last several years – that Portland could be a fantastic place to live – and most of the allure has been the thought of being able to ride somewhere that bicycles are everywhere (it doesn’t hurt that it seems like an artistic community as well, which fits in great with what I do). Living in Boulder County we are frequently named on some of the best places to bike lists, but I’m not always sure it’s as great as many would have us think, and I don’t see as many people on bikes as one would believe to be true either. Don’t get me wrong, the area is picturesque and there are many bike lanes and even a bike highway that has been constructed to the south of us to allow people to ride to the Denver area on over 17 miles of separated pathway, and there are a lot of people who ride (though most tend to ride exclusively for sport more than transportation), but I almost start to feel as though motorist begin to hate bicycles more because there are higher numbers than some cities, or, perhaps as you’ve stated, it’s that there has been a huge influx of money over the last few years and housing prices have gone up to ridiculous levels, which brings in the people who wouldn’t consider riding a bike? Maybe it’s political climate change which has seen Colorado becoming far more blue than red over the last decade (I think this primarily because it always seems to be someone shouting at me to get my “hippie-ass off the road” or to “get a car”)? I’m not sure, but I’ve noticed a lot more anger toward cyclists over the last couple of years, and more frequent frightening and sometimes even violent interactions. I realize there are always people on bicycles who, for whatever reason, have to be jerks on the road, but I think the same can be said for people in cars as well (which doesn’t excuse either side). But, it seems as though those few inconsiderate folks on bicycles somehow represent everyone who rides a bicycle, sadly.

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    1. I’ve always thought MG has made the DC area seem like a fun place to ride too! I think she has great photography skills and that magic to find the perfect moment to go along with her talent to write engaging, heart-felt, and entertaining posts. It makes it difficult to NOT want to ride in the area, doesn’t it?

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  2. Great picture! Amazing to have that on a commute. Similar scenes on my ride to work still entrance me after years of passing by them.

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  3. Ahh the fresh air and “me” time that you just can’t get from sitting in a car, and those stop-start junctions are the bane of many a town or city commute; I much prefer adding a little extra distance and time to my journey if it means avoiding those. If only people choosing to use their cars would see your joy and join you!

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  4. I’ve thought about this car-centric attitude for several years and see no end in sight for that mind set. To shift that great a paradigm would probably take a cataclysmic event, like the magnetic field to reverse where anything running on electrical charges would cease to work. Huh! No bike computer/Garmin/etc either! Interesting thought. Keep riding. It’s probably the best advocacy we can do!

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  5. I usually ride in my work clothes but almost never do my hair! I ride with it wet and it’s usually dry by the time I get to the office. Though, most days I don’t actually tame it until 10:30 am. I think my staff thinks I’ve just given up on being presentable most days. 😉
    I grumble at our car-centric ways as well! Our town is perfect for riding in. I wish there were a few more bike commuters!

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  6. I have your thoughts almost daily on my stellar bike path/neighborhood streets commute to my workplace. Our area has seen a tremendous shift of people getting on bikes along with a huge increase in advocacy. I’m not totally sure of the reason why, other than it’s expensive to drive a car plus we have a big influx of college students every year and downtown parking is such a pain. It’s easy to get around town on a bicycle. and quite possibly more and more folks are becoming aware of it’s benefits. At the same time, however, our population is increasing, which inevitably means more cars on the road.

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