Tuesday, May 6, 2008

i will see your motor vehicle in hell

Well, it's about damn time that I actually followed through with something I said I was going to do. That's right, contrary to how it might seem, I'm not all e-talk over here, so after the invigorating comment discussion regarding a previous post, I Zipcar'd out to Virginia to pick up my new summer obsession. And no, it's not a rifle; it's a bike! Check it:


Oo la la!

Yep, she's French! To be exact, she's a vintage 21-inch Peugeot mixte 10-speed featuring Carbolite 103 tubing, Weinnmann 730 brakes, Shimano shifters and Deraileurs with an alloy crank and 27 inch alloy wheels with horizontal dropouts. I honestly don't know what much of that means, but I know it all boils down to TIGHT!

As I do more research, which perhaps I probably should've done before dropping $185* on this bébé, I'm finding out that the cycling community has largely lost faith in mixte-style bikes. For those of you who haven't been Googling bike terms since Saturday, "mixte," which means "unisex" en francais, refers to a type of frame that was popular in the 1970s and 1980s. It was marketed as a hybrid between the male bike, which features a horizontal top bar, and a female bike, which has a sloping top bar. The mixte, on the other hand, features a double dropped top bar. From what I understand, this adds a bit of weight compared to the standard women's bike, but I'll take it if it means I can still ride dirty sweaty in a dress or skirt in DC's hellishly humid summer months. Seriously, I'd ride nude if I thought the seat wouldn't chafe. (Ouch!)

Super uncomfortable thoughts aside, however, suffice it to say, I'm pretty excited about this purchase. But you know what I'm even more excited about? I'm excited about taking this bike with me and moving to Amsterdam where motorists not only are expected to share the road with motorless rides, but they actually respect two-wheelers. What? Oh drat! I'm not able to work (legally) in the European Union, which means until I marry one of these guys,** I'll have to learn to deal with goddamn DC drivers, whom I now collectively detest more than ever before. In fact, I think I will officially hate myself whenever I take the Zipcar back out again.

The problem is that DC drivers don't seem to understand basic drivers ed do's, so allow me to refresh the minds of everyone who drives. You know those mirrors provided to you on your vehicle? The ones on the sides of the car? F*CKING USE THEM. (Pardon my...French! LOL!) Also, not that you should need a reminder about this, but you have a blind spot! CHECK THAT SH*T BEFORE PULLING OUT OF YOUR PARKING SPACE. Oh, and speaking of parking spaces -- USE THEM! I mean, I'm sure it's really convenient for you to double park in one of only about three bike lanes this sick bitch of a city has been so kind to bestow on those of us who don't drive, but GET THE F*CK OUT OF THEM. If that means you have to circle around the block 11 times looking for a proper spot, THEN JUST LIVE WITH THOSE SELF-IMPOSED CONSEQUENCES AND DO IT. Seriously. You do know that when you take up the bike lane (and I'm also referring to you too, DC cops!), you're pushing me and other cyclists OUT INTO TRAFFIC. Not cool, Five-O, not f*cking cool.

Wow! Look at all those complaints, and to think I've only ridden my bike, whose name is Baguette ('cause she's tasty -- and a lil' crusty -- like French bread), a few times since I got her on Saturday. I'm back in rare form, e-friends, and more awesome (and fit) than ever. I can't wait for tomorrow's commute...

*Purchased through Bulldog Bike Restoration. (By the way, if you spot a bike you want on their Web site, I suggest you haul yourself over there ASAP, as they sell out fast. In fact, the only reason I have lil' Baguette at all is because the owner agreed to sell me his future inventory early after seeing the très mal look on my visage.)

**Super fun photos brought to you by a "Dam" awesome (LOL!) street style blog all about Amsterdam -- Dam Style.

24 comments:

Beach Bum said...

Two things you might be interested in: Bike to Work Day (here: http://waba.org/events/btwd/index.php -- free food!!)

And the free Confident City Cycling class they teach -- I took one a couple of weeks ago and totally worth it. Now I know how to change a flat tire, and know that it's safer taking the whole lane then riding too close to idiotic parked cars who open their doors or pull out of their spot without looking!!! Here is the link: http://waba.org/events/education.php#ccc

N said...

Baguette is so pretty! My girl still needs a name.

I have thoughts said...

I'm going to be the awful face (even though I'm faceless on here) of the DC driver. I won't go so far as to say that I hate all city cyclists, but I do hate the one's who don't follow the rules of the road.

Maybe it'd be a better city if only the good, law-respecting drivers and the good, law-respecting cyclists were allowed on the road.

A man can dream.

Marissa said...

beach bum--

Thanks for the heads up. I'll look into those links.

n--

Ahh I'll make sure Baguette gets the message. Although I found out Baguette might be a little lame, as she has something called a "pie plate" still attached to the back gears. Apparently, , those are not cool and anyone who still has one, should be maimed by geese. Zoinks!

thoughts--

I'll agree with you. There is some pretty heinous cycling behavior here. And also, some of the blame must be placed on the city, which clearly did not plan its roads for anything but cars. Boo.

sprite said...

As the occasional cyclist, my three observations:

1) Oddly enough, but cabbies seem to be particularly considerate of cyclists.

2) Buses are not.

3) Be prepared to make liberal use of the middle finger. Drivers who never noticed you before you deploy it, definitely do afterwards.

Freewheel said...

Congratulations on Baguette! I hope it's a comfy ride, but if not you can always get one of those gel saddles. Look forwarding to seeing you zipping around the D.C. streets, nude or not!

Velvet said...

Ugh. I hate bikers in this city. I really do. I think they think because they're all tree hugging and environment saving that they deserve the whole road. Take for instance my daily commute down 17th Street every morning. One would think that the bikers would stay on the sides of the road, but nope. Riding full on in a lane, down the middle of the road, changing lanes without looking.

And in D.C., it is in fact the LAW that bikers are considered motor vehicles. So they are to abide by such craaaazy laws like, oh, stopping at red lights. But do they? Hell no. I've seen a biker stop and wait at a red light exactly twice in 3 and 1/2 years of living here. And my brother who lives in NYC came to visit and he was like, "I saw the weirdest thing this morning, when I went out to get bagels I saw a biker riding the wrong way up a one way street." I said, "Oh, the bikers are assholes here. The rules and laws don't apply to them."

No one enforces this, because it's too hard for the cops to put down their donuts, but here's the DC Law.

N said...

I have a pie plate too, and I never knew it!

Velvet, drivers are guilty of not following laws too. As Marissa noted, drivers often take over the few bikes lanes that DC has. I have to get out of the bike lane in order to avoid the double parkes and the cars hanging out in my bike lane waiting to turn right.

Anonymous said...

bike snobs that worry about what accoutremente are on other peoples' bike should get themselves stuffed...

oh... and i wouldn't ride on the road or the bike lane... use the sidewalks...

and just so you all know... DC's roads weren't designed for cars... they were designed for horses... 200 years ago...

Shannon said...

As a woman who walks everywhere and is almost never on any sort of wheeled conveyance (motor or bicycle) I have two peeves:

Drivers who hog the crosswalk, then, as I'm crossing, gradually creep further and further into the intersection. It's spooky - like they're debating whether they should run me over or not.

Bicyclists who zip through small spaces. I can't tell you how many times I've almost been run over by a spandex-clad twit who doesn't have enough sense to walk his bike over bridges or through congested trails. If there's no room for you, get off and walk.

Anonymous said...

Velvet, if bicycles are considered vehicles then they are entitled to a lane, end of story.

Also I see much much worse behavior from cars then I do from bikes, due mainly to the fact that cars weigh at the very least 1500 lbs for a small Japanese one, so their mistakes can kill me. If I make a stupid decision on a bike in all likelyhood the only one who is going to pay for it is me.

Velvet said...

Right Anonymous. All the more reason that bikers shouldn't cross 4 lanes without checking to see if, oh, there happen to be any cars who might be on the roads with them too, or why they shouldn't fly down sidewalks taking out pedestrians. And they don't deserve a lane, see if you read the law I attached there, smarty pants, you would see that they are supposed to ride to the extreme right of the road, except in the case of one way streets where they are to ride on the left.

I constantly see bikers giving cars the finger or screaming at the drivers while they are running a red light or blowing through a stop sign. You get hit or cause an accident because the laws don't apply to you then you deserve it.

Marissa said...

anon 3:01--

I stand corrected, although I wouldn't be surprised if DC horses kicked cyclists in the teeth back in the day.

velvet--

I think you're right in some small regard. People don't suddenly stop being idiots just because they ride a bike. In fact, if a person's a idiot already, getting on a bike would probably only help to showcase further his or her stupidity.

At the same time, however, I have to agree with Anon 4:26 and N -- bicycles should bet a traffic lane if a bike lane is not provided. Logistically, riding on a sidewalk is tough, especially cobblestone. The wheels on Baguette, for example, are specifically tailored for paved roads. Also, like Shannon mentioned, people use sidewalks to, well, walk. Dodging them and navigating the oft uneven pavement is probably more hazardous to a cyclist than riding on the road. Unless, of course, motorists are actively trying to take cyclists out.

Also, the big problem with hugging the side of the lane too closely is people exiting parked cars. I think I fear tumbling head first over a car door more than getting hit by a car.

So, until this city gets its shit together and starts putting in more bike lanes and until drivers realize that double parking in them is just as bad as double parking in an actual lane, I guess I and other cyclists will continue to annoy you. Sorry.

Also, on a completely different note: I think people who walk or bike to work should get some sort of tax break. Not only does it help the environment (sorry again, Velvet), but it helps keep people in shape. That benefits the collective health of this country and possibly even helps alleviate the healthcare crisis going on in this fat-ass nation of ours. Just sayin' -- I want my money.

Righteous (re)Style said...

Let me weigh in on this one (as a long time DC biker and resident.) I have also noticed the ridiculousness of bikers in DC. I think I know what the issue is. They are from Fairfax. Yes, I think Virginia is to blame. As the city became an attractive place to live, more people moved here . . . more people who have absolutely no experience riding bikes in an urban environment. In addition, I do agree that there also has been a bit of a backlash from bikers, where bikers do see themselves as a bit superior to other, fossil-fuel powered vehicles(oh, have you ever witnessed Critical Mass?) But, personally, if , as a biker, I can make life a little bit harder for someone who then chooses not to drive their car - the happier I am.

Marissa - j'aime votre nouveau vélo. That's French. I think.

Righteous (re)Style said...

Oh, and yes on the tax break. I recently interviewed for a job where the company reimbursed you for walking shoes and bike things if that is how you got to work (okay, so they were a climate change consulting firm, but whatever). As for the middle finger, I prefer well thought-out comments that probably make no difference to the drivers (um, b/c they prob. don't hear them as they are blasting their air conditioning), but make me feel good nonetheless. I like, "I am saving the world for your grandchildren, motherf*cker." Also, "Maybe you wouldn't be so f*cking fat if you rode a bike, too". Lastly, "Are you TRYING to kill me?"

Good luck on DC roads.

N said...

Also, most drivers don't observe all the rules of the road. I doubt the drivers who speed by to pass me are observing the 25mph unless otherwise posted speed limit.

Rob said...

Wow, there's some nice stuff on the Bulldog site. I wasn't aware of them before, and their prices are very nice. Thanks!

jake said...

regarding the laws:

velvet brings up an excellent point that no one has mentioned, the fact that bicycles don't stop at red lights or stop signs like they are supposed to.

for that reason alone, i sometimes (screw it, always) secretly wish that those on bikes who do that get hit by oncoming traffic.

Velvet said...

Aah. I would love nothing more than to be able to walk to work. However, my line of work dictates that I do indeed have to commute to the burbs. Sad.

I'm assuming the bike lanes you are all referencing are few and far between downtown. We've got them all over Dupont, however, rarely do I see bikers in the bike lane. They are all over the roads and sidewalks, cursing and bitching the whole way in their birkenstocks.

I don't recommend bikers to ride on sidewalks at all. Somewhere in the D.C. law there's a rule about when to ride on sidewalks - above mass, below mass, I can't recall. I believe that above (north of) mass it is not okay to be on the sidewalk. It's allowed downtown though for the traffic congestion. I could have that backwards. But if I told you how many times I get the nasty look from people riding a bike because me and my dogs are walking on the sidewalk where they happen to be riding their bike, and there's a bike lane right there, well, it's bullshit. I refer them to the bike lane and they don't care. And the streets by me are sleepy, no cars parked in the bike lanes that I've ever seen.

I can only speak to what I see, and what I see is some pretty bad behavior all around. Pedestrians crossing against the light thinking that "I'm a pedestrian, you have to yield," and bikers all over the road. I never said drivers were without fault, but in other cities, bikers actually get ticketed for going the wrong way down a one way street.

zandria said...

Love the bike! I've been wanting to get a bicycle myself. I'm giving one away on my blog, but I'm not allowed to keep it for myself! :)

Jason said...

As a new biker as welll...loving the new Cannondale, I would say that bikers in this city feel entitled to break rules and ride all over the road. At the same time, the way people drive in this city, as a biker, you have to be defensive and take chances to get anywhere you need to go, especially with the one-way streets.

All in all:
DC Drivers block the box
Bikers take liberties
and Walkers just don't know any better

Marissa said...

righteous--

Merci! And vive le velo!

rob--

Yes! I am 100 percent for those guys! I dealt with Joe who is awesome. But like I said, if you see something you like, get out to VA stat.

jake--

I see your point, however, lawsuits are a bitch.

zandria--

Thanks and good luck with that contest!

jason--

Well said.

Matt said...

Solid.

I personally think BSNYC has the pie plate thing a little twisted. The goose is clearly going after that guy for the kickstand. Removing a pie plate requires a bit of knowledge of how your particular drivetrain is put together as well as a couple of specialized tools that you can't expect the average person to have. On the other hand, any putz with a wrench can remove a kickstand.

Marissa said...

Great. So now I have a pie plate and a kickstand. I am the biggest bike dork on the road.