Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Problem with Blogging: Not Blogging...

I'm not egocentric enough to think that anyone's sitting by the light of their computer screen waiting breathlessly for the next blog entry, but since I have the work ethic of a border collie--which is to say finding the off switch is tricky-- I tend to feel bad when not blogging more regularly. As in daily. Or close to it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bike-Car Communication: Not Always a Single Finger Salute...

When discussing this blog with a bike advocate, I heard him say he hoped it wouldn't devolve into a "car vs bike" blog with U-locks and coffee cups hurled over handlebars or launched from rolled-down windows.

Happy to say, it hasn't. At least I hope this blog doesn't appear to do that. Instead, I've been interested in what works, and how we can get to where we're going--mostly on time, and completely intact.

And today was one of those days where I once again found that gestures helped. Not the kind that can lead to road rage and a police report, but the kind that tell the other guy what you're up to. Some examples:

Thanks to the driver who, upon discovering she needed to slide into the right lane from the left, turned on her blinker before doing so,  then actually checked for traffic in the right lane before making her move. This was in marked contrast to the cabbie who decided to make a sudden U-turn on a downhill on Wisconsin Avenue, nearly taking out cars in both directions.

Thanks to the drivers who didn't try to lane-share or press me into the dreaded 'door zone' as we all  threaded our way through rush hour traffic.

Thanks to the bike cop who waved as we headed in opposite directions on the road. It wasn't a necessary traffic signal, just a nice friendly gesture.

Yes, these things really do happen. Sometimes the forces of goodness and niceness really do win. Even in traffic in this town.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lights at Dusk...

Noticing something interesting:

Lots of drivers fail to put their lights on at dusk. I'm not talking sun-still-up-in-the-sky dusk, I'm talking it's-getting-hard-to-pick-out objects in the roadway dusk. The kind of dusk that made you call off your kickball game as a kid, cause you couldn't follow the trajectory of the ball, or find the bases anymore dusk. The, I didn't see that car in front of me until I was up on it dusk.

As a cyclist, when the light starts to fail, or when it's rainy or foggy, I think I look like a manic Christmas tree...three rear blinky lights strategically placed and blinking, and a front white light that is in strobe mode. The idea: to be seen. I'm very squeamish and would get really, really grossed out by being squished like a bug. And I'm no different in the car---I've seen people plow into cars ahead of them, and covered enough crashes to have it make me a little twitchy when a car comes up too close, too fast on my bumper, so I just wonder.

What's with the failing to turn lights on at dusk? Does it seem wasteful? Does it seem premature? I'm just curious about that...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to the Bike...

I have more than one bike, but just as when my car was in the shop, it makes me edgy when one of my bikes isn't available--as if you could ride more than one at a time.

That said, when I got the call that my bike repair was done, that it came in MUCH cheaper than I'd anticipated, I was racing to get from work down to the bike shop before it closed to pick up my hybrid. Bonus: great weather meant a quick after-work ride on one of my favorite routes.

Happy Chickens...

Do happy chickens lay better eggs? Maybe, but what about that massive egg recall? Hundreds of millions of eggs are being recalled after a salmonella outbreak, find out more.

But the folks at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair weren't alarmed, they say if anything, the recall underscores the benefits of buying local.

Here are the stories I filed for WTOP and for CBS News today.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bike Lanes: You're soaking in them!

Note to self: when you wake up and see a fair amount of cloud cover, but the rain holds off? Go for it!

Do not have that second cup of coffee. Or you will pay when the skies open up. As I did because they did. 

Still, the cool air felt good (I am not a fan of the hot and humid. Any weather that produces insects that grow to the size of housecats is not for me so a dip in the temp will get me out even when downpours are in the forecast) and people were in pretty good humor at the farmer's market and in shops along the way.

I did take a detour to check out the new bike lane configurations at New Hamshire and 16th Street...whipped out my camera only to find: I'd failed to put the freshly charged battery in the carefully protected camera. Doh! Journalism 101: check your gear before you get in gear--even when you're off the clock.

So, what's the verdict on the lights? I tend toward 'vehicular' riding: stopping at stop signs, stop lights, etc and have been nearly rear-ended on more than one occasion--not by cars but by cyclists. So I kinda like the lights. I suspect that if drivers see cyclists given the infrastructure that calls on them to follow the rules of the road more closely, cyclists may get more of a break on the roads. Am I right/naive/crazy?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gaithersburg Storm Damage City Hall

Been in the WTOP Vehicle...Off the Bike..

...Been gathering images like this from Gaithersburg, one of the areas where the damage was so concentrated, it was possible to stand still, do a 360 turn, and see damage all around you. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Heads Up! New Contraflow and Bike Signals Ahead...

Here's the latest from the folks at DDOT. This is fresh off their news release, the headlines are theirs, not mine. I'll let you decide whether safety improves as a result: your thoughts?

DDOT Activates District’s First Bicycle Traffic Signals

Experimental Project Improves Safety at Intersection of 16th Street, U Street
and New Hampshire Avenue, NW

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On Air Today: Domestic Worker Sues Former Employers

Janet Gonzalez is suing a former employer in Montgomery County, alleging she was hired as a maid, but treated as a slave; unpaid, isolated, restricted from phone and car access.

Add caption

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dog Killed by Sheriff's Deputies: Could it Have Been Prevented?


That's how Donya Williams of Forest Heights refers to her dog Kato. After the two-and a half year old Rottweiler was shot and killed by Prince George's County's Sheriff's Deputies on Friday, Williams says she'll never have another dog, because he was the best.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Search for the USS Scorpion

Here's an audio slideshow of my afternoon with underwater archeologists--yes, one of the coolest job titles ever--in search of the U.S.S. Scorpion. The ship operated during the War of 1812 in the Patuxent, and was scuttled not far from Upper Marlboro to prevent the British from getting their hands on it. Experts are leaning towards thinking the ship in the shallows of the river is the one they're looking for...

WTOP's Kate Ryan reports: The Search for the USS Scorpion from kate ryan on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Update: Cap Crescent Trail Collision

The findings by Officer Donald Brew on last week's collision on the Capital Crescent Trail: both parties contributed to the collision that sent both of them to the hospital for medical checks.

According to Officer Brew:
The female runner was not wearing headphones. The male cyclist did call out to the runner, but here's how it breaks down according to Officer Brew:

The cyclist called out as he positioned himself to pass the runner, instead of calling out before moving to pass. This happened just as the runner apparently made a sharp U-turn without looking over her shoulder to check. 

Officer Brew's conclusion: "...if the cyclist had given a warning before he tried to pass left, the lady might’ve heard him early enough to wait before she made her u-turn and if the lady had of glanced over her shoulder before she made her u-turn she might’ve seen the cyclist passing on her left."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Struck Cyclist Looking for Answers...

Here's a story that WTOP picked up from The Frederick News Post. You might be able to help:

and here's where the cyclist, Keith Krombel, described as an experienced long distance rider, has a website where you can add a tip if you have any information at all: