Excuse the language, but seriously.
Since I started riding regularly last summer, I’ve never had a problem getting through D.C. traffic. Rush hour down to Hains? Check. Saturday in Georgetown? Sure, no problem. That’s saying a lot for a girl who used to load up her bike and drive a mile just to ride short traffic-free loops. In any case, now I’m comfortable and confident on the road even in a city where drivers have little respect for bikes — and by the same token, cyclists rarely obey the rules of the road.
Last night made me a bit more wary.
I was riding home after a few Hains loops — which were a challenge in and of themselves, given the wind, the minimal weight of my bike and the fact that I could barely stay upright — and was headed straight through a green light at 15th and Independence (right by the Washington Monument) when a cab coming from the other direction decided to take a quick left right in front of me. I was going fast and, if you’ve ever been on a bike, you know it’s impossible to stop on a dime. The guy almost hit me, I braked and my back wheel skidded out from under me and I nearly fell over. On my new bike, no less. There were two other cyclists behind me who also had to brake quickly, and we all shouted plenty of obscenities at the driver for nearly killing us.
Thus, I was really shaken and didn’t calm down until well after I got home (and told the story to my book club girls who had already arrived). I was scared for my life, angry that I nearly crashed my new bike and generally enraged that cab drivers here think they can do whatever the hell they want with no consequences. I did learn, however, that my handling skills are pretty solid, as last year I would have gone down hard in that situation, seriously hurting myself and definitely ruining my new baby. The whole thing absolutely will make me more careful and aware of my surroundings (ie. no more swerving all over Constitution — you know who you are).
The moral of the story: D.C. is bike friendly only in the sense that there are designated lanes and lights. It’s still a crowded city with lots of cars. And diplomats. And buses. And cabs. All of whom are MORONS.
Be careful out there, kids.