Urban Commuting – It’s About Staying in the Moment

Staying tuned in to what’s happening around you, a good “be here now” practice and an essential one  for handling urban commutes.  Do these hazards mean you shouldn’t ride a bike? Well no! After all hazards come up while driving cars too. We know we have to develop skills and stay alert to avoid auto accidents. As in driving, practice helps. So does watching other cyclists to see how they do it. WABAs Confident City Cycling class provides helpful info for new and experienced bike commuters. Try one or all of these if you’re seeking a confidence boost as you prepare to commute by bike.

Here’s what I encountered on Thursday morning’s ride from Union Station to 25th and Pennsylvania/L Sts NW, about 4 miles with at least one potential hazard per mile. This was a Capital Bikeshare ride on a sunny, cool, windy morning.

1. Road construction on E Street NE near the  DC District Court. Bike lane closed, quickly looked over my shoulder and merged with oncoming traffic.

2. Bus loading passengers while pulled over in bike lane. Dodged around it, noting first that there was no oncoming traffic.

3. Cab driver almost dooring me on Pennsylvania. Saw it coming and edged further away from the cab; collision avoided. Yikes!

4. Car slowly nosing into into bike lane while at red light, right blinker on, large gap betweeen it and the next stopped car. Passed carefully on the right, got ahead of the waiting-to-turn car, with bike positioned in lane in such a way to show I was going straight ahead.

Did I enjoy this commute? Well let’s define “enjoy.” A ride on quieter streets is more relaxed, for sure. Despite the typical stresses of an urban commute, I like the mind-clearing exercise , the confidence that comes with travelling by muscle-power, and the being outdoors instead of on the dark, crowded and increasingly unreliable Metro. So yes, knowing I know how to handle the potential hazards, I enjoyed the commute!

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