I've been riding my bike for exactly one week now and have learned a lot about negotiating bike lanes, traffic, and how to avoid getting the bike stolen. Other lessons include budgeting extra time because it's such a conversation starter, and getting Milo not to toss groceries out of open bags.
I'm extra careful riding around, not because my bike is new and unique, but because I am hauling my most precious cargo around the streets of Washington. I use the bike lane on V St. for heading east, 14th St. for going north/south, and T St. for heading west. Just because the bike lane is there, doesn't mean it's safe. I find that I am dodging cars and delivery trucks parked in the lane, car doors that fly open with no warning, and the occasional bus that blocks the lane when it can't make it to the curb for its stop. There are so many obstacles. You really can't stop paying attention, not even for a second.
Several days ago, a friend of mine convinced me that there were packs of bicycle thieves working the city. She said these weren't just easy criminals, but groups of individuals equipped with tools to open bike locks, or simply cut them. We have no choice but to store the bike outdoors, so this scared me into buying a couple of new locks. I bought a new Kryptonite lock, because mine had the older, barrel style key (easy to open by thieves), and also a very thick chain lock.
Both of the locks come with registration info and some kind of confusing financial guarantee that the bike won't get stolen if locked properly. I registered the locks, and also registered my bike through the National Bike Registry. I 'm feeling pretty safe knowing that it is double locked, and triple registered.
Hey, moms, do you remember when you were pregnant and people would stop you on the street to offer you advice, or talk to you about it? Well, having a Madsen is a little bit like this. I can't go anywhere without being stopped to chat about the bike or about the cute kid riding in back. I am always happy to spread the good word about how fantastic the bike is, but 5, 6, 7 people in front of Whole Foods is a bit much. Brace yourself for this if you live in DC and buy this bike!
Last but not least, is getting Milo not to pilfer through and throw out various grocery items from open paper sacks. He can lean forward just enough to reach the goods, and after quick examination, he'll toss them onto the sidewalk or street. I learned this lesson the hard way, and now I use two zippered canvas bags to distribute the weight evenly, and to keep little fingers out.