Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Like a full moon

It's getting on toward mid-December, and I'm still bike/bus commuting. A lot of other people are still bike commuting, too, I've noticed. I've waited at stoplights at Mercer & Dexter or at Fremont & Westlake with as many as 10 other bicyclists at a time this past month, and pass or am passed by several bicyclists every day, to say nothing of the bicyclists I see riding in the opposite direction. I saw at least two dozen more bike commuters yesterday, for example, and that wasn't even at peak hour.

I also saw a bicyclist being apparently ticketed by two Seattle police officers, at 3rd Ave right at the entrance to the Pioneer Square bus tunnel station. I have no idea why he was being ticketed, if indeed that's what was happening, though the canary and rose copies of something that one officer was separating and apparently handing to the bicyclist certainly looked like something official and not particularly fun. That bicyclist was young and not wearing a helmet, so that might have been the reason. He wore an expression that told me he thought whatever was happening to him seemed kinda weird.

A couple minutes earlier, while I was waiting at another stoplight further up 3rd Avenue in the left lane behind a line of cars, a bicyclist shot past on my right between the two lanes, followed closely in the right lane by a bus. He promptly blew through the red light. From the direction of the bus driver I heard a woman's voice yelling, apparently at the bicyclist. It might have been the driver. It would've been the first time I ever heard a bus driver yelling at someone, but if anyone deserved it, that bicyclist did.

The two bicyclists might have been one and the same, actually -- I didn't get a particularly good look at either incident.

Exciting morning, nonetheless.

A few minutes before that, I arrived at Westlake Station neatly between two of the buses that I would've liked to ride and a 10-minute wait until the next one, so I decided to ride further downtown and explore other tunnel stations and their entrances for future reference. Which is why I was on 3rd Ave in Pioneer Square to see all this stuff in the first place. I learned a better entrance to the Westlake Station, and also ended up using the Pioneer Square Station for the first time -- it was the last station that I hadn't used yet. Walked myself and my bike right past the two police officers and the kid getting a ticket while I was at it.

Then, on my way home, I missed my return bus in Tukwila. Well, not so much "missed it" as watched it pull up to my bus stop with two bikes already on its rack -- I got waved off. I decided to ride downtown rather than waiting for the next one. A few miles later, while I was riding past a Boeing facility at about 6:30 PM, I passed a woman who was standing beside the trail and having a smoke. The Green River was just on the other side of the trail. She said something in a voice I thought sounded accented as I passed, which I didn't piece together until a few seconds later: "Would you like to date?"

Zowee, I'd been propositioned by a hooker while riding my bike.

I didn't stop, of course, or even respond, but I did start to wonder if maybe there was a full moon. The sky was cloudy, so I couldn't tell. Turns out this month's full moon isn't until Friday.

Two ambulances passed while I was riding the rest of the way home, between downtown and North Seattle. Both changed the light sequence, which combined with the 5-minute wait for the bus that waved me off and the Fremont Bridge being raised just as I approached -- I actually came to a screeching halt as the bells started ringing and the lights started flashing when I was riding up to the gate -- made my 22 mile ride home tonight take quite a bit longer than usual. That said, I don't mind waiting a few extra minutes behind a light changed by an ambulance or two -- I hope they made it in time.

1 comment:

Lilacs said...

John,

Huge props to you and everyone who bike-commutes in Seattle in the winter. I bike in from about April to September, but can't face it beyond that. Your commitment is awesome! Thank you!

I know this is a time of year that sees many near-death experiences for cyclists -- one thing I've noticed lately is that lots of cyclists are invisible from the side. Great lights front and back, but if you're wearing all black, you disappear completely, especially if it's raining. So here's a plea to all bikers to go ahead and get one of those bright colored jackets. Or a vest. Or a spoke light. There are just too many weird intersections in this town -- 5 way stops, etc., where people could take you out from the side without ever even having seen you were there.

Ride safe!

Jan