Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don't Forget To Think... And Help Others Think Too!


Yup!  That's kind of an odd name for this blog post.  I recently had an experience riding near home that prompted this Facebook post and tweet:

Riding up Annandale Road today. ...
Dude in a Benz: Get the F%#* off the road!
Me (in a cheery, happy voice): Oh! No thank you. I'll just keep riding legally. Have a great day!
Dude in a Benz: Uhhh... Have a good day.
I'm guessing the guy either wasn't thinking when he first yelled at me... or at least wasn't thinking very well.  He sure as hell stopped to think before he drove off though. 

Things sometimes happen quickly when we're riding.  When someone passes aggressively our instinctive reaction is to yell at them or use hand gestures to express what we're feeling.  It happens to all of us and it is very hard to resist.  It also is usually an instinctive reaction, rather than a thought process. 

Doing so sometimes feels good for a moment, but we lose an opportunity when we do that. 

1)  We lose an opportunity to challenge the way people think about cyclists;
2)  We make it easy for people to drive without thinking and behave in a similar fashion again;
3)  Most of all, we make it easy for our actions on the bike to be guided without the use of thinking.

I'm not saying don't ever yell at motorists.  Sometimes yelling alerts a driver to our presence.  Use that voice for safety, not as a weapon.  The difference is subtle, but significant.

Thanks for reading!  Have a great bike ride.

Pete

I Love My Commute. Do You Love Yours?


















Monday, October 20, 2014

Follow Me to Certain Death!



Those who know me well, know that I enjoy a long, challenging bike ride.  I’m very, very fortunate to have good friends who hear what I have in mind, tell me that it is probably impossible and definitely a stupid idea, then agree to join me.  Better yet, they come up with wonderful/stupid ideas on their own and I get to tag along. 

My friend Bilsko and I have been wanting to do a particular ride for about 18 months.  Our planned date last year was interrupted by him breaking his hip and me breaking my wrist two days later.  Here we are 13 months later and we’re ready to ride.  

The ride is simple.  We’re going to ride to Friday Coffee Club like we always do.  The difference is that we’re going to start a day early and start from Pittsburgh.  Stuart thought this sounded like fun, so he’s going to join us.  Lydia and Tina are joining us in Cumberland Maryland for the night time portion of the ride.  

That works out to about 335 miles in a day.  

Join us on Friday morning.  We’ll be at White’s Ferry at 4am, Great Falls at around 6:15 and in Georgetown by 7:30.  We’ll be at ME Swing Coffee House at 17th and G, NW a little after that.

When I do a ride like this, I usually raise money for a local charity.  The charity is a good one.  TC Williams International Academy has a scholarship program to send a deserving student to college.  This is a program near and dear to my heart, since it is a charity that my wife helped create.  

Here’s the info: 


Achieving the Dream Scholarship:  http://www.internationalsachieve.org/  To donate, designate "specific scholarship" and type "achieving" in the special instructions block.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

#StopCampaign




WABA is starting a new project in Old Town Alexandria called #StopCampaign.  Basically we’re helping promote lawful cycling at major intersections in the area.  

Alexandria City is a an area that is working very hard to make the streets better for cyclists.  They really need to!  The area is growing in popularity, attracting more people every year.  The amount of parking places and driving lanes can’t keep pace.  Alexandria is working to support other ways to get around town.  

The city faces significant resistance to their efforts to improve cycling, as was evident during the battle to get bike lanes put in on King Street.  One of the biggest things that cycling opponents can use to strike down efforts to improve bike infrastructure is the behavior of cyclists at stop signs.  

Please consider being a part of this project.  There are many great things you can do. 

1) On the simplest level, please pay attention to traffic signs in Alexandria and yield to pedestrians.  

2) Consider taking some time out of your afternoon and picking up a sign to help convince others to ride lawfully.

3) Spread the word of the published Facebook events to attract others to join us.  

4) When you see us doing one of these events, snap a photo on your phone and post it on Twitter and tag it with @WABADC and #StopCampaign 
 
Some things about this... This campaign depends on positive interactions.  We are NOT yelling at cyclists who don't stop.  We ARE talking positively to all cyclists and thanking the ones that stop.  Nothing good happens when someone yells at a cyclist for failing to heed a stop sign.

Thanks for taking a little time to read and contribute.  

Here’s the first public event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/529319217213117/

Best wishes,

Pete

Friday, September 26, 2014

From the Don't Try This At Home File

Dude Who Has Been Harassing Me By Driving Aggressively:  *HONK* *VROOOOM*  (Passed with about a foot of space between his mirror and my hip when he could have left me 6 feet of space.)

I noticed that, as usual, he had a female in the car next to him (hereafter known as "Wife") and some kids in the back seat.  Windows are down and he’s stopped at a rather long light in front of me.  

Me:  *Talking to the driver through the passenger window* "So this is how you’re going to end things with me? "

DWHBHMBDA: “Huh?"

Me:  “Fine with me.  Go back to your suburban life, wife and kids.  I”ll cherish the time we had together enough for both of us."

Wife: *Laughing*

DWHBHMBDA:  “What the hell?"

Me:  “I’ll bet your name isn’t even ‘Jerry’."

Wife:  “It isn’t.”   *Laughting*

Me: “Fine!”  *I turn right on red… legally*

Wife:  *Bursts out laughing*

I wish I could say that DWHBHMBDA did something dramatic… or that his kids said, “Uhhhmm Dad???”   I was gone before he got his green light. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

New Arlington Blvd Bike Path



It’s a new bike path…. big deal!  Actually this one is kind of a big deal.  Building new bike infrastructure is all about connecting transportation corridors.  There are almost always good, safe routes to get from point A to point B.  Sometimes these established routes take people far enough out of their way that they take the quicker, more dangerous route, or choose another mode of transportation.  

So when a new bike lane or bike path is created that completes a transportation route, it is kind of a big deal.  

In Arlington, Virginia, Pershing Drive has been an established East/West route for quite a few years.  Unfortunately it kind of dumped off at Arlington Blvd with a rather sketchy frontage road/sidewalk lane to complete the route into Rosslyn or Washington, DC.  People used it, but it was never easy, or as safe as it could be.  

UNTIL NOW!!!!

The wonderful folks in Arlington County added a separated bike path that connects Pershing Drive and the Arlington Blvd. Frontage road.  It is less than a mile of path, but it completes a cycling corridor that connects a neighborhood where many people depend on bicycles to Downtown Washington, DC with a route that is easy, safe and fun to ride.  That’s the holy grail of bicycle infrastructure…. easy, safe and fun.  

The people stuck in bumper to bumper traffic might catch a glimpse of happy people on bicycles on that path and get the idea that riding a bike to work might not be so impossible.  They’ll have plenty of time to watch the bicycles pass them by.

Thanks Arlington County, BikeArlington and all the volunteers that have pushed for better bicycling in this region.  Y’all make me happy.

Pete

Wash Cycle: http://www.thewashcycle.com/arlington-boulevard-trail/
Arlington County Bike Map:   http://www.bikearlington.com/tasks/sites/bike/assets/File/Bikemap_front.pdf
BikeArlington:   http://www.bikearlington.com/

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Choose your thoughts wisely. Your actions will follow them.



I’ve heard that Courtland Milloy wrote a column in the Washington Post that encouraged violence toward cyclists.  
What was in Mr. Milloy’s column?  I honestly don’t know for sure, because I haven’t read it. Nor do I intend to.  I’ve read many responses to it… enough that I get the gist.  

If you take it at face value, Mr. Milloy uses ignorance and an over-inflated sense of self importance to promote hatred and violence against people that he doesn’t understand.  "Bicyclists are in front of me.  Many of them don’t obey traffic laws.  I’m important and need to be at the front of the line.  We should all be violent toward cyclists.  We’re justified in feeling this way."

Using ignorance and self-importance to promote an “us versus them” atmosphere and justify hatred and violence is nothing new.  But it is a thought that we should challenge before we make it our own.  It is the same thought patterns that have resulted in the most horrific actions taken by mankind over the centuries.  I’m not saying that Mr. Milloy is on the same level as those who took part in the Holocaust, Rwandan Genocide or the abuses at Abu Graib prison, but the roots of his thought patterns have a lot in common with those used to justify those dark times in human history.

If DON’T take Mr. Milloy’s column at face value, then things get worse.  We see things like this in the media quite often.  Writers and editors look for someone outwardly hate and vilify for personal and corporate gain. Since hatred based upon gender, sexual preference and race is less sympathetic in the media than it once was, they can pick on someone else:  Cyclists, for example.  Some readers will agree.  There will be a large, but acceptably offensive public discussion and people will read the awful column.  The column’s web site will get lots of hits and the advertisers will be thrilled.  When a suitable amount of outrage has been expressed, the newspaper can publish a well thought out article countering this column, and lots of people will read that and people will think the newspaper is balanced and fair again.  Best of all, the newspaper gets LOTS of hits and the advertisers will be happy.  

I have friends and acquaintances that work at The Washington Post.  I apologize for taking such a realistic view of their publication.  Stories like this happen once every year or two… sometimes in print, sometimes on radio talk shows.  They blow up, stir up, blow over and fade away.  Advertisers love it!  Not too many really think that it can do much harm.  

I chose to live my life differently.  My world is bigger than me… much bigger.  It includes humanity, which I love, even though people do stuff that I don’t like.  I’m able to love the people, while not loving some of their actions.  It makes forgiveness possible.  I’m fortunate that there are people who forgive me when I’m wrong.  I live in a world where I work pretty hard to have positive interactions with EVERYONE that I meet.  I don’t always succeed, but I always try and I get it right the vast majority of the time.  I arrive at home at night and keep score of my day based upon how many people I treated fairly and kindly.  I rejoice and am grateful for every one who did the same for me.  I learn from the times that I don’t do so well and improve next time.

Sounds  a lot better to me than being ignorant, self-important, hateful and violent.  

Please take a moment to choose how you’re going to live your life tomorrow.  Make that choice wisely, and in accordance with your highest sense of right.  It makes a huge difference to me how you choose.

Thanks!  I love you.

Pete