It has come to my attention that cyclists riding in DC are experiencing higher levels of stress than usual, especially now that school is back in session and children are clogging crosswalks everywhere during rush hour. Even though the thought of biking between angry drivers and oblivious pedestrians strikes me as truly terrifying, there are some pro factors that would make me consider taking my life in my hands and getting back on a bike.
1. The cool factor. I don’t know when or how it happened, but riding a bike is cool. Not in a flashy way, but in the way that having canvas bags at the grocery store and not paying the extra 5 cents is cool.
2. The drinking factor. As far as I can tell, you can drink as much as you want and still pedal yourself home. It’ll be wobbly, but you’ll probably make it without dying or going a DUI.
3. The parking factor. You can lock up your bike practically anywhere. Depending on the type of crimanl element in the area (and his or her persistance and inventiveness), a bike lock may be broken and you’ll be on foot once again, but you’ll feel like you’re really part of the cycling community.
OK, so bikes in DC. Last year the city started a bike share program like the popular plans in Paris and Brussels. There will soon be over 1,000 bikes at 100 stations all over DC. The bikes that were put in place in 2008 are “maxed out” and more are currently being added to meet increasing demand. I can’t say I’d be able to feel especially cool riding around on one of these guys, but they’re cute and they get the job done.
Bike lanes. This is a sticky wicket. Opening a bike lane on Pennyslvania Avenue is, yes, a big deal, but we will still see safety problems until we all treat cyclists like they do in Amsterdam. Or like cows in India. When cyclists see a bike lane, they see a bike lane. When anyone else sees a bike lane, they see a waste of space. This leads to altercations with taxi cabs, delivery trucks, and generally anyone self-important enough to take up a bike lane with a vehicle of the automotive variety.
Still, I may hold out for a motorcyclye. Or maybe one of these.