A cold, uncaring universe

S Aufrecht

You ever have one of those episodes where it becomes infinitely clear that the universe is out to get you, even though at the same time you understand that the universe doesn’t care about or even notice you?

After my bicycle was bent up by being overtaken by a car at 30 mph (with me on it), I got another one of the same model. The original bicycle was fine, but the replacement … I’m not saying it was a lemon, but certainly there’s a hint of citrus in the air when it rides by. Long story shorter, another spoke broke while I was riding to work on Monday. In the afternoon, Kona and I took the wheel to the neighborhood bike shop, where they said they would have a new wheel ready by maybe Thursday.

So. I live at the edge of the L’Enfant plan, and work in the middle of it, and bicycling is by far the fastest and easiest way to get to and from work. I’ve testing the bus, the subway, taxis, ZipCar, walking, running, and getting a ride; cycling is better than all of them. But how to bicycle to work without a bicycle?

It turns out that the largest bikesharing program in the United States started just a few months ago right here in DC. It further turns out that there’s a station one block from my apartment. But how much is it going to cost to rent a bicycle every day for the rest of the week?

It turns out that you need a daily or monthly or annual subscription fee, and then you pay by the half-hour. If you have the bicycle for less than half an hour, there’s no extra charge. And there’s a another station on the front plaza of my office. And my commute is about twelve minutes, depending on whether I rush south when the light at M changes in time to catch the green at Pennsylvania. So my per-ride cost will be zero. Now, about that subscription fee…

It turns out that OPM bought three hundred annual subscriptions and is offering them free, first-come first-serve, to employees. And of course it takes weeks to process this and then have them mail you your token, but it turns out that I did that a month ago, and got my token last week.

So, days before my bicycle goes to the shop, I get a key to free bicycle rides to and from work. I guess this wasn’t one of those times that the universe was out to get me after all. Pardon my confirmation bias.