It was a postcard-picture-perfect autumn day. Warm enough to enjoy sitting in a park, cool enough to want to wear that tweed jacket so critical to finishing the look for the annual Tweed Ride.
But some serious thoughts. The organizers of the Tweed Ride made it clear: this was not some bike-rights statement, this was literally, a ride in the park...the park being the lovely city of Washington, DC. Riders were to stay in small, manageable groups, and obey the traffic laws. That meant stopping at stop lights and signaling intentions to drivers. This gentle reminder appeared on waivers riders were to sign before the event, and announced at the start of the ride as groups were 'launched' in clusters of no more than 30 at a time.
As someone who took part in this year's and last, I will say for the most part, riders exercised proper road etiquette. For the most part. I will concede that in some cases, to stay in their groups, or to keep close to those who had carefully read the cue sheets, or for those who are challenged when it comes to cycling with cue sheets, there were instances where riders (myself included) scooted through an intersection here or there.
But I have to say, I was impressed once again, not only with the courtesy generally exercised by riders, but by the drivers in DC on this sunny Sunday. Most exercised patience as they saw cyclists moving from lane to lane and some even cheered on the riders. Waves and smiles from one traveller to another. Who knew?
I was also impressed how riders of varying abilities looked out for each other, giving wide berths, dropping back when needed, and always calling out positions to let those ahead know whether they intended to pass. And riders did use the hand signals I remember learning as a child...arms straight out for right and left, left arm in an "L" shape to signal a stop ahead. A flashback to my days spent on my electric-blue Schwinn...the one with the glittery cobalt-blue hand grips.
So, to those who wonder is it safe to cycle in DC? It most certainly can be. Is it enjoyable? On a day like Sunday with cool temps and sun-dappled streets? It was sheer joy. And do you have to wear lycra/spandex/goretex/latex? Certainly not!
And to the survey-takers who list DC as a city with among the least attractive residents? You, sirs and ladies, need to attend a Dandies and Quaintrelles event! Form, function and style merged for a day of community building and goodwill.
In my next posting...so, where were the helmets?