One of the best things about living where we do now is that I can bike to work. Even now, in mid-January, I’m biking to work as much as I can. Unless it’s snowing or below 30, I bundle up and fly down 15th street, racing past the bus I would otherwise be trapped on with the hordes making their way downtown.
I’ve been doing my bike commute for about three months now, and these are some of the observations I’ve made about my fellow commuters, whether they’re on a bike, in a car, riding the bus, or on foot, and the overall experience.
Bike commuters are assholes.
I am honestly appalled by things I see other bikers do every day. To be honest, it would be accurate to say that I’m appalled by the men I share the bike lanes with, since it’s almost always men that are making us all look bad. They run red lights, cut to the front of the bike lane around a line of other bikers, and block traffic. I saw a guy with a kid on the back of his bike run a red light, almost get hit by a car (who had a green arrow and the right of way) and then proceed to pull the car over and berate the driver for almost hitting him and his child. I see bikers without lights riding in the dark, and a remarkable number of people without helmets.
Pedestrians are worse.
If I had a penny for the amount of people I see on a daily basis who step off the curb with their headphones in and a complete lack of awareness for the world around them, I would be swimming in pennies. Part of my commute takes me down a hill so steep that if I were to slam on my brakes, I would likely fly head first off my bike and into an intersection. On a regular basis, someone is waiting for the light to change not on the corner where they belong but in the bike lane. Like it’s not a traffic lane.
DC has an awesome network of bike lanes.
I can ride almost all the way to work in a protected bike lane, complete with bike lane-specific lights. Once you figure out where all of the lanes are, you can get almost anywhere without riding in traffic. Sometimes there are piles of leaves or other trash in the lanes, but for the most part the city does a good job of keeping them up.
People who commute in their own cars are the most impatient people out there.
You would think that being in the comfort of your own vehicle would allow you to relax. We own a car in the city, so I do have sympathy for drivers who are also dealing with reckless bike riders and ambivalent pedestrians. On the other hand, people in cars regularly take time to roll down their windows and swear at bikers for getting in their way or slowing them down, and I am in constant fear of getting mowed down by someone on their phone. You would not BELIEVE how many people are actively on their phones while driving.
There is something rejuvenating about riding in the rain.
I wear comfy clothes for my commute and have access to a nice gym and locker room at work to change in, so I don’t really care if I get soaked on my way in. For one thing, when it’s raining, a lot of other bikers don’t ride and you get the lane mostly to yourself. And there’s a weird solidarity of people nutty enough to ride in rainy weather. And the sound of the rain blocks out the city sounds, and it’s just very peaceful.
Biking to work makes me a better person.
I don’t mean that this makes me better than everyone else who doesn’t bike to work, but starting and ending my work day with a half hour where I’m not on my phone, where I’m allowed to just be in my own head, and where I get some physical activity in does make me feel better. I can be fully awake and ready when I get to work, and destress on my way home. On days when I have to take the bus, I feel more anxious and wound up. That little bit of time every day does wonders for body and soul.