Friday, August 19, 2011
DC on a Roll: Bikes Making Headlines
So I'm a day late and a dollar short on this, but if you didn't catch them, check these pieces out: from the City Paper's Alex Baca and the Washington Post's Mike DeBonis.
Mike talks about the way he uses a bike, and I like his approach. It's a tool. It gets him where he's going. It's handy. When he tucks that pant-leg (pants-leg?) into his sock, he's not trying to save the world. He's trying to get where he's going. And like the rest of us who hop on a bike to get somewhere, I'm sure he'd like to get there without getting flattened.
A digression. (I did mention the distracted thing, right?)
I like biking because I hate waiting. And it's fun. I don't bike because I'm a fitness freak. I need the exercise. I don't ride a bike because it benefits the environment. The whole green thing is just one more side benefit. So please drivers, when you see me riding, I'm not trying to insult you. I'm not trying to accuse you of single-handedly destroying life for tiny woodland creatures and all the birds of the skies. I mean, I'm a former minivan driver, and I loved that thing. (It made a great bike storage unit.)
In the City Paper, Alex details some of the conflicts that surround the growth of bike infrastructure in DC. And she shows how some of the frictions are being eased. And she does it beautifully.
I confess I find the universe of bike-related issues endlessly fascinating because it's really all human nature. We all have such strongly held views on everything from helmet use to whether you should ever do the sidewalk-survival maneuver, what's really safe, what statistics say, what experience says, etc.
I will say this, unlike Mike, I love me the Tweed Riders. And the Sock-Tuckers and the Lycra-wearing Tour de France-following bike geeks and the I-Just-Got-A-Bike-And-I'm-Still-Wobbly-But-Psyched riders. To my mind, the more the merrier because I'm pretty sure to get--and keep--better bike infrastructure, it will be because the demand hasn't let up.
Not that I don't think cyclists couldn't use some improvement. We do have plenty of clueless, selfish, foolish people in the ranks of bike riders. But then again, there's no shortage of motorists pulling boneheaded, downright dangerous moves. Like the guy who cut me off in traffic after passing me on the right on I-270 today. That was special. (For the record, I was not on my bike. They're not allowed on I-270. I was on assignment, in my WTOP-issued car.)
So, while I admit I love having the Capital Crescent Trail all to myself (winter riding is great!) I welcome all bicyclists to the roads and trails. Because I'm old enough to remember when NYC first installed bike lanes. And I remember when they took 'em out. It was one case where 'Build it and they will come' didn't work.
(The photo shows my fabulous Gazelle, the WTOP Glass Enclosed Nerve Center --from the outside--and the grand experiment known as WTWP--The Washington Post on the air)