I have been off the bike for about 2 1/2 weeks. My wife and I went to visit our kids. Our daughter is doing a semester abroad at MacQuarie University in Sydney, Australia. Our son is teaching at a school in Phuket, Thailand. Since my daughter had a two-week spring break we decided to go see her and check out Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand.
We headed west on 9/10 and kept going, arriving back in DC on 9/28. Yesterday, despite severe jet lag and a head cold that I’ve had off and on since 9/8, I rode to work. Riding with jet lag is a bit like riding drunk. Balance is a real problem, especially at when stopping and starting up.
While I was gone, the Alexandria City Police department began targeted enforcement at stop signs, singling out bicyclists. This is probably in response to complaints from some cranky residents of Old Town who refuse to acknowledge that they live in a tourist trap and on a major bicycling artery, the Mount Vernon Trail. They have political pull so from time to time the Alexandria police appease them with obnoxious enforcement.
The police are apparently requiring bicyclists to put a foot on the ground when stopping. The penalty for noncompliance is a $91 ticket. Suffice it to say, my jet lagged body did not appreciate this.
Last night on the way home I counted the number of cars that came to a complete stop at stops signs on Union Street. 6 out of 10 did not. The first of the 6 was an SUV that nearly hit me as I stopped and put my foot down.
On the way to work I rode to work on Royal and Saint Asaph Streets. No cars, not a single one, came to a full stop at stop signs. I lost count at how many there were but the total must have been more than 30.
I have ridden through Old Town 4 or 5,000 times. (No lie.) I have never hit anyone or been hit by anyone. Not a single accident. Cars have nearly hit me dozens of times. None of them were ticketed.
My only response to this nonsense is to put my foot down literally and figuratively. I will stop at ever stop sign and put my foot down. I was also stop patronizing businesses in Alexandria. I probably spend several thousand dollars a year in Alexandria.
I try to keep in mind that the police officers involved probably don’t want to be out there harassing people. But harass they do. Doesn’t do a lot for respect for the badge.
Pictures of my travel can be found on my Flickr page.