Saturday, October 27, 2012

No U-Turns on Penn

I'm not going to keep up the advocacy stuff at this pace… I promise.  That goes for the blogging too. ;)

Friday morning was a cool opportunity to do a little advocacy of the best kind… the kind that involves riding.  Honestly I'm best when I let my legs do the talking. 

The Pennsylvania Avenue Cycletrack is a little different from many that we see in the city.  Basically there are two lanes of bicycle traffic (one going each direction) and they run down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.  It is a cool set-up that avoids a TON of pesky problems that previous bike lanes in the area had.  It is an area that has many people trolling for parking, jumping multiple lanes to make turns and doing right turns on red with questionable judgement.  The center lanes go a long way to solving those problems.

The Penna Ave. Cycletrack, however, does create a few problems.  Drivers are a bit freaked out by having bicycles in the middle of the  road, for one.  Cyclists don't always make turns onto and off of the cycle track in a a legal and predictable manner.  Illegal turns by EVERYONE cause issues.  Pedestrians are a bit clueless about expecting cyclists in the middle of the road… especially the adorable, wide-eyed tourists.  What used to be a great place for people to temporarily park their cars is now taken up by bicycle traffic.  People forget that and park there anyways.  Last but not least, illegal and unplanned u-turns can be deadly to cyclists. 

There was a LOT of trouble with u-turns when the cycle track first went in, but after 6 or 7 months, it died down a bit.  For whatever reason, the problem has gotten a lot worse in the last 6-8 weeks with many accidents and close calls being reported.  I honestly don't know if this is a perceived change, or if the accidents and close calls are just now getting talked about more.  Either way, something needed to be done.

A friend pointed out to me earlier this week that a group called The Assembly ( was going to have a little event to shed light on the problem, get signatures on a petition and generally increase awareness.  Just my kind of gig. 

We had between 40 and 50 people show up, put signs on their bikes and ride the Pennsylvania Avenue Cycletrack during rush hour.  We were joined by 8 or 9 of DC's bicycle police officers.  WABA ( had a good bunch of people out, including a bunch of the bicycle ambassadors to collect signatures and talk to people.  The Monkey Wagon (A really big stereo piled onto a bicycle trailer) was out blasting tunes and being pulled by a new friend Jordan.  It was festive and effective. 

Many thanks to The Assembly and WABA for making this happen.  Tons of thanks to those who came out to ride.  It was fun to see some familiar faces and people that I love showing up for these things.  Y'all make me happy.  It was definitely good way to spend #fridaycoffeeclub time. 

Rock on!


Friday, October 26, 2012

Official Bike Advocate: Day 1.

I've been a bicycle advocate on some level for about 4 decades.  The words, "We should go for a bike ride!" have enthusiastically left my lips pretty much nonstop in the last 40 years.  A bicycle advocate does more than go for bike rides, though.  They help others go for bike rides.  I've been doing that just as long. 

I finally made a change in my life to be a bit more official about it.  I've been waiting for life to mellow out a bit to give me breathing room to add some advocacy work into the mix.  It isn't happening.  I tried to help out Bike Arlington with some stuff and the day I was supposed to show up I got stuck on a project and at the first break I got for the afternoon I looked up at my watch and realized it was 9pm… a full 3 hours after I was supposed to help out.  It was embarrassing and not at all nice. 

It was also a cry for help.  I needed to balance my life out a bit.  That night I signed up for Bike Ambassador training with Washington Area Bicycle Association (  It's a group that tirelessly works to make Washington, DC an AWESOME place to ride a bike.  They touch it all.  One thing they do is recruit people to be Bike Ambassadors.  I looked at the description of what a Bike Ambassador does, and it read like the list of things that I do every single day on my bike.  Maybe I could make a difference in a more formal way and still not beak my brain at the same time???  We'll see. 

Jump to Day 1… otherwise known as Yesterday.  4am call with a colleague in India about some requirements for a project I've been working on.  5am coffee, cats fed, and kitting up.  By 5:30 I'm rolling across the Fairfax County Line into Falls Church on my way to NW DC to hand out Bicycle Maps and support WABA's membership drive. 

I got there before Megan, the person I was shadowing this morning, so I got the coffee.  We talked, handed out maps and got some people interested in WABA.  We were both amazed at how few people stop at stop signs in DC… both cars and cyclists.  Time flew and we''d run out of maps, so I hammered south through the city to get to the office. 

Ride home was mellow.  I was exhausted.  Met a guy standing next to his bike with his arms crossed, looking at his bike with disdain.  Jammed chain… really badly jammed too.  I popped off the quick link, opened the chain and got it back going in under 2 minutes.  Dude had been trying for 30 minutes with no avail.  He was VERY happy to not be walking home.  When asked, what can I do to thank you?  I replied, "Go out to, read a little, and if you like what you see, join!  We have a membership drive going on right now.

3 minutes later, I met a guy standing next to his bike with the wheel off and trying to remove the tire with a stick.  That wasn't going to work… ever.  Si I stopped, loaned him the tools to change the flat while I prepared the tube and checked to make sure the rest of the bike was oky.  Gave him the WABA pitch and sent him on his way. 

The Grimy Handshake ;)

In all, I guess I really like fitting a little more formal advocacy into my routine.  Not much has changed… now I get a fancy t-shirt. 

With luck we got some new WABA members yesterday.  It wasn't for lack of effort and enthusiasm. 

Rock on, folks!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

I love going to the dentist!  Not sure that's ever been said before.  I think the reaction to that statement isn't too far off from people's reactions when I say that I love my commute!

Now that I've hopefully got your attention, let me back up a little.   Welcome! 

I decided to add a little different focus to my blogging, so this is my newest adventure on the interwebs.  My existence for the last few years seems to have revolved around improving my relationship with my bicycle(s) and helping people improve their relationships with theirs.  We all have reasons why we don't ride.  I'd like to help get rid of those and help you see some awesome reasons why you SHOULD ride. 

The focus isn't limited to commuting.  Mine certainly isn't.  I picked that title because "I <3 my commute" is such a great contrast.  Not many people can use "love" with "commute" with a straight face.  I can.  I can't wait to move from home to work and back again.  While not the only highlight of my days, it is always one of them.

So let's get rid of some reasons not to ride and find a way to leave the car at home.

I'm looking forward to this conversation.

Rock on!