9.10.2009

Ghost Bike Returned!

in THE WASHINGTON POST
The Ghost Bike has returned... in multiple!

http://aliceswansonridesagain.wordpress.com/

also in THE EXAMINER!
and WTOP


these articles were read/scanned as I sipped my coffee in the morning
then after helping get the kids ready for school I walked the dog in the rain
crossing the street in front of my house I watched as a few cars pushed it through the yellow light at the top of the hill then two cars followed fast running the red
as I crossed the road was clear
then a car came up the hill... I was not in their way... but they did not slow as they approached me
the sped until the last second before stopping at the red light at the top of the block

of the cars heading downhill the first of the cars running the red light was occupied by an overweight man pinned between the seat and the steering wheel
this beast of a man contorted his body in such a way that his shoulder could hold his phone to his ear
with both hands clutching the steering wheel he tailgated the car in front of him
never is he considering the variables around him
he is just focused at maintaining speed
on this rainy day his speed and following distance were as off as his focus
there was no accident... but there is definite potential there

so seldom do people consider the "worst case scenario"
or even more simple
people just do not know how to behave
people lack common sense
people do not offer others the basic respect that they deserve

getting on the bike in the alley behind my house I waited as the large orange dc recycling truck screamed by
faster than the stated 15 miles an hour the large industrial vehicle breezed by with just inches between its tough metal body and the row of trash cans, recycling bins, trees, and historical garages
men in safety orange outfits hung to bars on the side and rear of the truck
respectfully I gave a nod to the working men as they passed
then got on my bike and started in towards work

a few blocks later the same vehicle made a turn around the corner coming towards me
although I was not in their path there was no correction of speed for anything around it
the driver moves as a bully expecting any and all in front of it to move...
to move or else

at the corner of Mount Pleasant and Lamont I watch for the metro bus... it is stopped at the Stop Sign
the stop is a longer duration than most buses stop at this stop light... the bus is parked
usually the Metro buses do not stop a this stop sign
the Metro buses usually roll right on through
it is their routine to ignore this stop
it is their routine to ignore many stops on their routes
I have grown accustom to anticipate cars, trucks, and buses ignoring the stop sign and stop line

on Mount Pleasant Street I dodge double parked cars and avoid cars pulling out in front of me
pedestrians cross without so much as a glance
I change my trajectory as they are set to create a sure and definite point of intersection
at each alleyway, parking lot, and cross street I watch for approaching cars
seldom does anyone yield the cyclist the right of way
people drive with such disregard for the law
people drive with such disregard to the rights and safety of others

it is up to the cyclist to ride in a fashion where they put themselves where they are most safe
on this road the double yellow line is consistently the most safe place for a cyclist to ride
an officer of the law once argued with me that the center line is not a bike path
telling me I need to ride to the right

I did not submit
as I believed I was riding as far right as I felt safe
hanging in the door zone where I risk getting hit by cars pulling out of space or pulling into space does not seem like the sensible place to be
not to mention that the Mount Pleasant Strip was lined with double parked cars
something that police officer did not seem to be bothered by
hindered and slowed yet accepting just the same

as I got closer to Dupont I rolled down 18th Street in Adams Morgan
again... as if I am invisible... at 6'4" tall on a 22 inch bike with 29 inch wheels it is hard to be in stealth mode
yet I roll down the road unseen
my five knog lights do nothing to get any of the car driver's attention

taxi cabs still U-Turn in front of me
white cargo vans pull out of alleyways in front of me
a large while pick up truck pulled out of a parking space in front of me then put it in reverse
I split the space between the bumper and the curb
the driver did not see me when he pulled out
unlikely that he saw me when he started backing up

it is chaos
the pedestrians and cyclists are hard to see
the pedestrians and cyclists are especially hard to see when no one is looking for them
it is very much the responsibility of the pedestrians and cyclists to put themselves where they are most safe

when crossing the street on foot or passing in front of a car on the bike I always try to get a good look at the car driver's face
so that I can see if they see me
and so that I can read their intention

so often it is clear that they do not see me and that they have not seen me
while other times I can see their intent it to continue their trajectory no matter what is in their way

2 comments:

Sajkovich said...

You are an eloquent Rodney Dangerfield...."no respect"

dcdouglas said...

Not that a Clydesdale such as yourself isn't already very visible...but, 5 Knog lights?

I suggest something a little stronger. The Planet Bike 1W Blaze I have on my bike gets their attention even in broad daylight.

You could also consider getting a Zound Air Horn. My friend who bikes from Columbia Heights downtown says that it works even on cars with windows rolled up.