Biking in DC

Like many ideas I have for posts, this one has been a long time coming.

A couple months ago I bought a bike. I quickly discovered that DC is a great city for biking: it’s relatively flat, points of interest are relatively close together, and streets are mostly wide-ish. Best of all, it’s almost always faster to bike than take public transit anywhere in the district. Now that it’s hot and humid, I’ve been biking to work, showering at my gym, and never having to soak my clothes with the sweat that inevitably accumulates within three minutes of leaving air conditioning.

Theoretically, biking is great. But in reality, it’s stressful. There aren’t many bike lanes, which for a girl from the suburbs is a bit of a shock. And where they do exist, cars don’t heed them. Here is a running list of bike lanes in this city. If you know of more, tell me in the comments:
14th St. NW
11th St. NW
E St. NW
R St. NW
One of those avenues, maybe Rhode Island or New Hampshire
Logan Circle

I also have some biking related pet peeves, which are probably worthy of a Craigslist rant:
Cars that park in the bike lane. You can’t be serious. I mean, I know double parking is legal and all, but are you trying to kill us bikers by forcing us to obstruct other lanes of traffic?
People in parked cars who open their doors while you’re biking toward them.
Buses. They don’t care about bikes. They’ll play leapfrog until you leave them behind at a red light. And then they creep up on you again and cut into your lane to pull over for a stop. Leapfrog used to be fun, but now it’s just such an uneven match when you’re always trying to fight for supremacy with a bus. And for some reason, when you’re on a bike, it’s a lot easier to forget that cardinal rule of the road: the larger vehicle always wins.

Admittedly, us bikers are also partly at fault. Sometimes we run red lights to avoid having to stop and start again. And sometimes we swerve in front of cars to avoid potholes or car doors opening or other unexpected obstacles.

At my college, bikes ruled campus. When I drove there, I hated bicycles; when I biked, I hated cars. It’s a relationship that’s at best a rocky spatial co-existence, like sharing an apartment with a random stranger who doesn’t understand your living habits, can’t communicate effectively, and doesn’t obey the ground rules of cleaning the bathroom when it’s their turn.

Not that I’ve had that experience specifically.

At least in DC the cops have better things to do than bust you for running a stop sign or biking without a light at night. And there are gorgeous trails right inside and right outside the city — Beach Drive closes to cars on the weekends, the Capitol Crescent lolls along the Potomac, and the Mount Vernon trail, well, I could go on.

It’s not that bad. I just had to vent a little of my daily stress.

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3 Responses to “Biking in DC”

  1. Elaine Says:

    dc is “relatively flat.” hmmmm…. i’m not gonna lie, being from chicago, this area seems positively hilly, though i can definitely see how it’s a relief compared to the bay area!

  2. Ben Says:

    Hi Robin!

    9th and 10th street NW also have bike lanes from the convention center area down through “Penn Quarter,” and they let you take a left onto Pennsylvania during rush hour, which is nice. For all the rest, the new DC DOT map with bike lanes marked is at http://www.ddot.dc.gov/ddot/cwp/view,a,1245,q,629849,ddotNav,%7C32399%7C.asp

    You left a pet peeve of the list though: Cabs. I always wait an extra second before crossing big intersections at a green light lest one should come flying across as their light turns red.

  3. Chris Barney Says:

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