Thursday, June 26, 2008

My First Bike Commute

Well, I'm about six weeks late for Bike to Work day, but I finally got it together. In my own defense, my bike was trapped at City Bikes for three weeks because of a defective fork. But I got it back last week, good as new. There it is, kids: my bike, with me, in the office. I fully expect it to start raining around 5 PM.

Here's the skinny.

Distance:Approx. 4.9 miles.
Temperature:Approximately 72 degrees, overcast, slight humidity. Not bad.
Duration:Approximately 28 minutes door to door. Better than metro. Worse than driving.
Route:Start on 13th Street in CoHi*. Cut over to 14th at first opportunity, and take bike lane to Aspen Street where 14th ends at Walter Reed. Head towards Georgia, and proceed across to 9th Street and resume north, avoiding Georgia. When 9th ends, go back to Georgia. Realize I should have gone to 8th instead which goes farther.

Proceed up Georgia in right lane, looking over shoulder frequently as large vehicles whiz by me. Get scared and cut over to 16th Street by way of Eastern Avenue. Forget how steep hill is from 16th & Eastern to 16th and Spring. Decide this route sucks after 14th Street ends. Finally get to office, sweating.
  • Save $4 per day on gas (and $85 a month on parking should I go full time), wear and tear on car.
  • Free exercise
  • Cease to be a hypocrite by driving every day to my enviromental consulting firm job; possibly sleep better at night.
  • Adrenaline as good or better than caffeine: eliminates need for morning coffee
  • Become part of mysterious, nerdy-yet-athletic bike-to-work culture.
  • Biking uphill for five miles when you've only been awake for 30 minutes ain't no walk in the park.
  • Will most certainly have to shower at work when the weather is warmer an more humid.
  • The last mile or so after Walter Reed is problematic. I can do better than I did, but see no way to avoid either Georgia or nasty hill & superhighway traffic on 16th at the very end.
  • Riding through residential neighborhood on 8th/9th to avoid georgia involves crossing many streets without 4-way stops, and people getting in their cars to go to work who apparently are incapable of seeing bicycles.
  • Become part of mysterious, nerdy-yet-athletic bike-to-work culture.
Overall, it wasn't bad, and was definitely kind of fun. And, since the ride home is all DOWNHILL, it will undoubtedly be a lot faster and even more fun. I'm going to try to stick with it. We'll see how my resolve is when I've got a a hangover and it's 103 degrees.

*Columbia Heights. I apologize for joining the bandwagon with these irritating neighborhood nicknames copped from NYC. Annoying as it is, this one is rapidly becoming commonplace, and it is kinda convenient. Because I'm CoHi.... CoHi... but I ain't touched the sky...


Anonymous said...

don't ride in the shoulder! that's how you die!! ride smack in the middle of the lane and force cars to stay behind you. they'll beep, but who cares? you're allowed to be there, and you should be there so as not to die! the best is when you ride with someone else and you can ride two abreast. then they can't even get around you, which is nice. keep biking!

Shannon said...

A defective fork? What, do you ride to work on cutlery?

Jamie said...

Shannon... no knife or spoon, but the front end was all forked up.

Emily... this is going to take some getting used to. 14th Street with the bike lane was totally fine. There are some cars parked but generally there was a lot of space and never felt uncomfortable. Those backroads behind Georgia seem better than Georgia itself. I know I could ride in the road and stand my ground, but that doesn't make it fun. With 3 lanes I can't really block and people will squeeze around even in my lane.

The backroads were better, but for whatever reason I hit 8th Street when 26 people were wandering aimlessly in the middle of the road trying to get into their cars while putting on makeup and/or talking on the phone.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

That is so cool you are doing that - I wish I could ride a bike to work but 29 miles south of dc wouldn't work, I am however looking to purchase a motorcycle soon, however thats not helping the environment either.

Jamie said...

Motorcycles (and scooters) for the most part are actually worse for the environment than cars, even though they get better mileage, because they don't have the same emission control standards.

On the other hand I would imagine you can get around a good bit of stopped traffic during a commute.

Not to mention, they are fun as all get out. If I had to deal with your commute (and the $4.50 a gallon gas) I'd probably be thinking the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Try the following: when you reach Aspen, turn left, go into 16th for less than a block and take Alaska, turn left back on 14th st. From there you can turn left on Eastern and then right on 16th, a block before you reach Spring.

Anonymous said...

Yay for commuting by bike! I can imagine the uphill climb so early in the morning wouldn't be fun, but at least there are a lot of other "pros" to the arrangement. :)

Anonymous said...

best pro of all: you got your workout in for the day and dont't have to hit the gym too