Category Archives: bike dc

Littering Hurts Cyclists. Don’t Litter.

inoperable rear derailleur because of a plastic bag in the cogs
A plastic bag stuck in the chain can bring a ride to an abrupt stop.

This morning I had trouble staying in gear because wet leaves were stuck in the rear cogs. Probably should have stopped to get them out but it was cold and I didn’t want to gunk up my gloves. Eventually the leaves broke down and riding smoothed out. Not as lucky tonight.

This evening as I was rushing home to vote I didn’t think twice about riding past a plastic bag next to a stop sign. As I tried to accelerate past the intersection my gears wouldn’t change. I looked down and found an old empty plastic bag wrapped up in my tension pulley.

Be careful on the roads and watch out for (leaf) litter this fall.

The One About Hands Free Summer Cycling and Drivers Who Don’t Understand Circles

Riding hands free feels great but I usually don’t even try it unless I’m on the trail. City streets are a too unpredictable for me to take my hands off the handlebars. I saw a biker last week who clued me in to how it’s done in the city: ride against traffic! This way you can see the cars approaching and can switch to using hands when needed.  Here’s video:

Today on the ride home I was digging the reduced humidity. Riding through less water has to make the ride easier. Less friction perhaps? Anyway, the ride was great and by the time I crossed the DC/MD border I knew I was home free. Not so lucky today.

As I approached the Mount Rainier traffic circle in the left lane I was scanning for cars already in the circle. No cars were there but there was a driver in the right lane who was also scanning for traffic before entering. We both decided it’s free so it’s go time. We simultaneously enter the circle in our own lanes and the driver of the SUV starts to cut me off. There isn’t anywhere to go except the curb or to slam my breaks which doesn’t seem smart (no time to see what’s behind me) so I yell out, “Hey! Watch out!!” She then scoots back into her lane and she continues traveling east on Route 1 while I continue to ride in the circle and exit on 34th.

So, lady in the black SUV, please don’t change lanes in the tiny traffic circle. It’s a two lane road not a single road for your SUV. If you must change lanes, don’t do it without looking to see if someone is there. I have a flashing headlight, a day-glow orange bike and an orange safety vest. I’m visible but you do have to look outside of your automobile.

Another 3 Foot Rule Violator at the Mount Rainier Traffic Circle

Since the collision with the delivery truck on July 11th I have been extra vigilant about taking the lane so drivers must maneuver around me safely. This plan has been going well and I’m happy to say the roads have felt safe except once.

On July 12th a van driver buzzed me since it seems s/he couldn’t wait a few moments to pass when there was more room. I can’t make out the logo on the back of the van but the plates are MD A168984. 


Music: “Robot Summer” by Gurdonark



Struck: Truck Driver Sideswipes Biker

I’ve been commuting on bike for more than ten years and today was the first time a driver ever hit me. It was just a sideswipe, a push from the side of a passing truck, and it was alarming. I didn’t lose control of the bike and I was not hurt.

After it happened, I rode across the street to the Mount Rainier police department to report the incident to an officer who promptly pulled the driver over (!) and brought him back to talk to me and ticket him.  Looking back, it feels fortuitous that everything turned out as well as it did.

Here’s the video (click on “HD” for maximum quality):

Music by BOCrew.

Buzzed by a Driver Not Following the Three Foot Passing Law

We have a three foot passing law in Washington, DC and in Maryland meaning drivers need to give bikers at least 3 feet of pure buffer space when passing. Too bad not everyone follows this public safety oriented law.

I recorded this buzzing near the strange intersection where Rhode Island Ave meets 7th and R  streets. The traffic going west on R was partially blocking the southbound traffic on Rhode Island. I continued past the stopped cars and since the light was red, decided to continue up to the front of the line of cars instead of hanging back with the gridlock.  That wasn’t such a good idea because as soon as I neared the front of the line the light changed and the drivers began to go.

I didn’t have a good chance to “take the lane” and partly because of that the driver of the Toyota Camry (MD licence plate GWR358) decides to give me a buzz rather than waiting for a clear 3 feet of passing space. If you watch closely you’ll see her pass me at the beginning of the video when she’s in the lane next to me (thank you). By the end she’s … well go ahead and see for yourself:

Music:”Valiha Trance” by 7thHeaven // 2010 – Licensed under Creative Commons

Driver Swerves into Bike Lane and Narrowly Misses Biker

I’ve started video recording my commute in order to highlight the good, bad and the ugly that I come across.

The ride on Friday was beautiful. Humidity was down, the sun was out and many bikers were on the roads.

It also happened to be my first ride with a new camera that let me capture this moment where I was nearly sideswiped by a Lexus SUV driver with MD plates AZ13868 as I rode in the bike lane on Q Street NW.  Watch as the driver swerves without signaling into the bike lane.   From what I could tell, the reason for the swerve was that the driver didn’t want to slow down as he was approaching another driving turning left onto 7th street NW.

The lesson today for bikers: beware of the driver’s blind spot, especially at intersections.

The lesson for drivers: don’t swerve into the bike lane, especially without signaling.