Pictures of the Year 2015

Pool Noodles for the Win: Sam got us organized. We were going to occupy the Pennsylvania bike lanes to get barriers installed between 13th and 15th Street to keep cars from making illegal u-turns. Somebody got the idea of using pool noodles as props, to indicate where the barriers would go. Afterward, Dave carried them off. I think they took him to the nervous hospital later.

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We all had a blast. Human bollards come in many shapes and sizes. Here’s the Katie Lee model. It’s generally impervious to u-turning cars, but can be moved aside with tickets to Packers games and Phish concerts.

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Here’s Sam, the mad genius behind #biketivismdc. It’s funny what getting run over by a car does for your determination to make streets safer.

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Kelly Biked to Work!: Kelly sits across from me at work. She had hip surgery which meant she couldn’t run for weeks. So she took up bike commuting. The smile means it was a success.

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To her credit she really got into the bike commuting thing. Here she poses at an underpass on the Four Mile Run Trail. A few days before rising water during a downpour caused her to abandon shelter and head into the maelstrom. She survived and added a snorkel to her bike commuting gear.

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Like Father Like Daughter: I went to a bunch of baseball games this year. Katie Lee and I attended a couple of games together. She is a meticulous genius at scorekeeping, an art she learned from her late father. At one game, there were two little boys in the row in front of us attending their first baseball game. They were trying to figure out how to keep score. Katie moved down and gave them a game long tutorial. It was an act of kindness that just knocked me out. Somewhere her dad is smiling.

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Posh Bike Parking: For some inexplicable reason, our office building started getting all environmentally conscious this fall. Without telling anyone, they replaced their absolutely crappy bike racks with a pretty awesome, secure bike room. Combined with the gym and showers one floor above, it’s a pretty darn bike friendly place to work.

Here’s the before shot.

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Here’s the after.

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No Wrong Plan: Ryan, Kevin, and I rode from Pittsburgh to DC. It was my first bike tour in a decade. Here we pose in Georgetown’s Waterfront Park at the end of our trek. Any resemblance of me to Hoss Cartwright is entirely coincidental.

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In Williamsport, Maryland, we stopped at the Desert Rose Cafe for breakfast. They made us sandwiches for lunch. Inside the bags they included napkins. Each one had a personal message. Such nice people. Such good food. Eat there. (They speak veggie and vegan too!).

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Going Up: I did quite a lot of day hiking this year branching out to Shenandoah National Park for several exceptional hikes. All my hikes were solo except for this one with Ultrarunnergirl. She kicked my ass all the way up to Little Hawksbill, the highest point in the park. Then the mountain kicked my ass all the way back down.

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On my 60th birthday, I hiked Old Rag. It was a tough hike and convinced me that rock scrambles are for the young and frisky. Also, the thin.

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Glory Days: Mrs. RC is a very talented quilter. When I had to quit running about 25 years ago we talked about using my race t-shirts to make a quilt. Nothing came of it until she made the quilt as a surprise for my 60th birthday. What an amazing gift. Oh how I wish I could run like that again.

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Around the World in 19 Days: My kids were living in Sydney, Australia and Phuket, Thailand. We decided to go visit them. While in Australia, Mrs. RC and our daughter Lily went to Uluru for dinner under the stars. Here we enjoy a drink just before sunset.

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After trips to Melbourne and the north island of New Zealand, we headed for Phuket. The island is very hilly so everyone rides a motorbike like this one my son Eamonn uses.

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We paid a visit to Big Buddha. He was aptly named.

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Lily made friends with a baby elephant.

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Cookies and Cider: I did a bunch of event rides this year. The Cookie Ride had a good hook. Cookies at every rest stop. Here I pose with a human cookie along with Paris and Lisa.

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I missed my two favorite rides of the year, the Backroads Century and the 50 States Ride, which both occurred while I was traveling. I swore off the Cider Ride last year but decided to give it a go after they moved it into November. Finishers got this cool mug. Thanks to Michelle for her event magic on behalf of WABA.

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Sunrise: The year is nearly over but I am pretty sure that the new one will start something like this. Thanks for reading.

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Biketivism – #bikedc Gets Serious

Safety First

The most important consideration to me as an everyday cyclist is safety. I’ve been extraordinarilly fortunate. I have never been hit by a motor vehicle. (Ironically, I have actually hit motor vehicles twice. Both were stationary cars.)  All too many people I know have been hit. I saw first hand what a physical and mental toll this takes when my wife was run over while walking across the street on a clear spring day. Day after day of pain, tears, and brutal hard work to get back to some sense of normal. As awful as her experience was, it could have been worse. It doesn’t have to be this way.

When a bicyclist or a pedestrian is hit by a car, truck or bus, the motor vehicle wins. It’s simple physics. One would think that our laws and our transportation infrastructure would be designed to even things out. Such is not the case. If you are hit by a car in DC or Virginia and your actions contribute in any way to the crash, the driver is absolved of all responsibility for your injuries or death. This legal standard is called contributory negligence. When police give you a ticket after someone runs you over, you have to beat the ticket or you will likely be found to have contributed to the crash.

Our infrastructure often puts cyclists on the same roadways as motor vehicles. Most people have come to agree that physically separated bicycle lanes are far safer than unseparated bike lanes and cycle tracks. When we use unseparated cycling facilities we do so with the hope that motor vehicle operators will stay in their lanes and out of ours. As it turns out, in DC (and elsewhere) hope is not very effective.

Our Nation’s Main Street

Pennsylvania Avenue is often called our nation’s main street. From the White House complex to the foot of Capitol Hill, the center of Pennsylvania Avenue features a two way cycletrack. Time and again, motorists do illegal u-turns through the cycle track. Cyclists who use this facilty are sitting ducks. Most of the cycletrack is protected by flex posts and park-its. (Park-its are a sort of low curb stone, like a short speed bump.)  The 1400 and 1500 blocks are unprotected. The 1400 block is the location of the Wilson Building, DC’s City Hall. It seems the districts public officials like the convenience of doing u-turns to get to and from the office.

Bicyclists have been telling the city to extend the flex posts and park-its to the 1400 and 1500 blocks, because police are ineffective at deterring u-turning drivers. The city is studying the issue. There is nothing about the 1400 and 1500 blocks that require study. (I think city officials who are so concerned with studing the issue will offer their time to the victims of u-turning vehicles during the study period. They can drive us to physical therapy. They can come to our funerals.)

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Being a human shield doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time

Many of my friends use the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack on a regular basis. The epidemic of u-turns continues despite repeated efforts to document the offenses. A few weeks ago, my friend Sam decided to take action, what she calls Biketivism. She organized an event designed to raise awareness about the problem. She invited friends who invited friends. She alerted the media and the police. On Thursday, under threat of heavy rain, about 50 cyclists (including me) showed up and formed a human barrier along the cycletrack for the evening rush. Many of the cyclists like Sam and Jeff, her husband, have been hit by cars in DC. Sam brought swimming pool noodles (on the street  to the right in the photo) to use as temporary park-its.

The event was serious but we had fun too. #bikedc is a pretty awesome social circle. I met new people and enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with friends.

An Unexpected Education

The experience was an eye opener for me. I thought we’d stand there, give a few interviews, get on TV and the radio, talk to some city government people and that would be it. We did all that. To my utter amazement, however, we witnessed u-turn after u-turn through the cycletrack. Cars repeatedly swerved into the cycletrack to get around bottlenecks in the car lanes. Several police officers, mostly on bicycles, sprung into action, giving the drivers warnings. After several warnings, they pulled out their ticket books. They literally could not write tickets fast enough. Drivers were doing u-turns through our line. As a cabbie slowed to do a u-turn, I warned him that it was illegal, that he could get a $100 ticket, and that a police officer was standing directly in his path if he were to do a u-turn. The cabbie shrugged and did a u-turn anyway! He got a ticket.

At one point a driver drove through the line laughing, floored it going the opposite direction, and took a right on red without stopping from the center lane. He got away with it because all the police were writing tickets!

I was flabbergasted by the behavior of the drivers. No wonder my friends are mad.

This event might have been about illegal u-turns through a cycletrack, but it’s really about a lot more. It’s a small step in changing our culture for the better. We cannot have livable cities until we rebalance the use of our streets to protect the vulnerable, to make our streets inviting spaces instead of demolition derby tracks.

Thanks to Sam for making this happen.

Here are some links to stories in the media:

Cyclists Protest to Install Protective Barriers on Bike Lanes in NW

http://wtop.com/dc/2015/07/cyclists-create-human-shield-in-push-for-safer-bike-lanes-in-d-c/slide/1/

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2015/07/10/as-cyclists-rally-against-illegal-u-turns-drivers-make-their-point/