Theme for the Week: Stay Alert

My city  bike commutes held more than their share of close calls this week. Several of these have been with city cabs.  Monday’s might have had something to do with the weather. The rain/snow mix that started mid afternoon was unexpected. As it got darker and the snow got heavier, I decided I better leave a little early.  A Diamond Cab from almost hitting me as I started out. The driver suddenly and for no reason pulled into my lane,  moving fast and passing me by inches. This on street nearly empty of traffic. I rode behind him for about a mile, and memorized the license number.  Once I got home I sent a message about this incident on Diamond Cab’s web site. No one has responded and I am not holding my breath waiting.

Next a man pulling too fast out of a parking garage on F Street NW nearly collided with me. It was too close for me to come to a full stop in time, especially with wet brakes and wheels, but I managed to steer around him.  I didn’t know I had that much presence of mind! The driver waved apologetically. So, okay he hadn’t meant to do that.

I was having trouble serious trouble seeing and likely drivers were too. Not sure what more I can do about that.  I have a) a helmet light, 2) a handlebar light, 3) a seat post light, 4) a rear fender light, 5) and 2 rainbow valve stem lights (a gift which I never would have bought but which are quite fun). Not only do I have all those lights, I wear a reflective belt thing designed for runners. Yes, I hear you laughing. Go ahead, it’s pretty funny. But all those lights and reflective gear make me feel safer. Even so, I guess under adverse evening weather conditions I have to go from defensive cycling to paranoid cycling.

All this makes me think again about the contrast between our increasingly bike-friendly DC, where the cycling infrastructure is still fraught with problems and a city like Amsterdam where cycling is part of the fabric of life. According to this World Watch Institute post 30% of trips in the Netherlands are by bike, while in the US and UK bikes are used for 2% of all trips.

Two more close calls with cabs today; one in the morning and one in the evening. Nice symmetry. Maybe in addition to my over-the-top-lighting scheme, I should get a penetratingly loud bell. It might help with some of these situations. While I always  stay alert for opening car doors, buses pulling over or away from stops, cars turning right – and left – as I approach intersections, I complete most of my commutes without danger. This week has been an exception.

These three days of city cycling let me complete 45% of my weekly goal of 40 biking miles. That gives me 3 more days to get at 22 more miles in. I should be able to do that!


2 thoughts on “Theme for the Week: Stay Alert

  1. Thanks, JD. Today’s cold & strong wind may not facilitate the goal thing. Though maybe I should give it a try. If I go in the right direction it will be a great tailwind!

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