Archive | August, 2013

Here’s a new one!

30 Aug

Good morning!  For those who say there’s nothing new under the sun, here’s something that will give you pause.  I haven’t been writing much about my personal adventures about sidewalk bicyclists because frankly there’s been nothing new except the same old reckless behavior.  But last Monday while walking home for lunch, I turned from New Hampshire to Corcoran, a small quite street with a lot of old townhouses and trees, and no traffic on the streets at most times in midday because it is a one way street.  All of a sudden I spotted a sidewalk bicyclist riding fast from the 17th street end of Corcoran and I prepared to slip behind the first stairwell I could.  And  a guy in front of me about half way down the block did the same thing. 

What prompted us to immediately take cover?  This biker, in addition to riding the bike, held in his other hand two dogs on leashes.  Needless to say together they took up the entire sidewalk.  We pedestrians would have been safer in the street.  And I thought as he sped by the stairs protecting me–that’s no way to treat a dog!

So STAY ALERT EVERYWHERE and STAY SAFE!

And Happy Labor Day  to all

DC Laws: Comparison with other cities (Chicago)

22 Aug

Since the Nats are playing the Cubs, this might be a good week to look at Chicago’s bike laws. I’ll admit I don’t know Chicago as well as I know the cities I’ve profiled so far. The only time I actually lived there, it was January and my NYC non-profit was trying to get me to take over their Chicago office. I was just out of college at the time and I think they thought they could pull a fast one on a young woman interested in advancement. Or maybe they’d never been to Chicago in January, where the Lake is often frozen over and the wind blows fiercely all month. Needless to say, after my stay hunkered down indoors for most of the month, I politely refused the offer and took my chances something would else would turn up in NYC. But I’ve been to Chicago many times since, always carefully scheduling my visits between June and September and it is a great town. There are not many physical similarities with DC other than that it is a big city and spread out over miles.

Chicago too does not allow bicyclists to ride on the sidewalks. Here’s one excerpt from their laws that makes that pretty plain:

9-52-020 Riding bicycles on sidewalks and certain roadways

(a) No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district. (b) No person 12 or more years of age shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in any district, unless such sidewalk has been officially designated and marked as a bicycle route…

The next section provides a specific penalty for persons age 18 and older riding a bicycle on a sidewalk in an area near Loyola University and the ability of police to disable the offending bike. My uneducated guess is that there must have been some problem with this activity from college students in the area and this rule was an attempt to address it.

Here’s the link to the Chicago laws, including state law, municipal code and contact with the Chicago Department of Transportation”s Bicycle program as well as other helpful documents and publications:

http://www.chicagobikes.org/bikelaws/

From speaking with a friend who works for Northwestern and lives in Evanston, which is just north of the Chicago boundary, it appears that there are a number of what we would know as “protected bike lanes”, particularly in Evanston, like the one on 15th street here. But that is not universally true. But neither she nor my other friends who live in Chicago or environs have seen bicyclists riding on the sidewalks even though there are plenty of bicyclists.

So, yet another example that it can be done. Stay tuned for more cities in the future. Without suggestions from readers, your blogger may just use the remainder of the Nats schedule to spotlight future city stops.

Meanwhile, here in DC, the weather’s supposed to be great for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington celebration and just about anything else you want to do. Just remember to STAY ALERT AND STAY STAFE.

A brief report and a question or two

15 Aug

Hello again! I don’t have much to report. But this is August and it appears, as with every year, things tend to slow down. I did attend a meeting with some of the Logan group who met with a DDOT rep on Tuesday. it was a fairly informal meeting. We learned about DDOT problems in implementation and we talked about a few things that ordinary citizens could do as well. Nothing is specific right now so I won’t say more than that I was encouraged that thought was actually being given to the concerns of both bicyclists and pedestrians. But it raised some questions in my mind about how to move things forward and how to make this blog more useful. Out of that came these questions:

1. One problem that DDOT and others in power have is that few pedestrians report their close encounters and even their being hit by bicyclists, either on the sidewalk or when running a red light. So my question to you is: What kind of simple reporting system should be used to collect this information? Do we make police reports? Do we report in some other way? Should we use calls? or something like Twitter? I’d appreciate your ideas on this.

2. I’ll continue getting information on what other cities do. But what cities would you like to see profiled here?

Finally, A NOTE TO THOSE WHO HAVE SIGNED UP TO FOLLOW THIS BLOG: I think I’ve finally figured out a way to make any revisions I make after posting without wasting your time. And in a minute, I’ll make corrections on Potpourri. When I do I will add to the title “(revised)” That way you’ll know the post is not totally new and I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve corrected any spelling and language errors I discover that I missed in my original proofreading. Hope you think that’s a good solution as well.

Potpourri I(Revised)

9 Aug

Good Morning! I’m labeling this post “Potpourri I” because over the weeks to come there might be more such posts in which I provide various bits of useful info I’ve received from reputable sources in addition to my own commentary. Please feel free to comment with your own helpful info and links to same. So long as it is reputable and verifiable, I’ll approve the comment (more about this later in “Stray Notes.”)

Philadelphia Bike Laws and Culture

First, a bit more info I gathered about another major city that prohibits bicycling on sidewalks for those over 12. The convention I attended last week was in Philadelphia. Between the convention events and time spent with a cousin who lives there, I saw a good bit of the city.

Of course, I’ve been there many times before and years ago spent an entire night bicycling around the city with my NYC Bike group and the host Philly group. Great fun. If you’ve been to Paris in recent years and seen their weekend night mass bike rides, it was kind of like that only starting at midnight and ending at dawn with breakfast at Rittenhouse Square. But this time, since everywhere I went, I saw plenty of bicyclists, all riding in the streets, including cobbled ones and ones with trolley rails, I thought when I got back I’d check on their laws. And, yes, Virginia, the city does prohibit sidewalk bicycling for those over 12. Yet none of the bicyclists seemed to see that as a problem. Here is the link to their bike coalition site:

http://bicyclecoalition.org/content/faq

NOTE: As you read the above they mention that state law is somewhat different. This is not unusual. Most states’ laws, although considering bicyclists(or “pedalcyclists” as PA law refers to them)as traffic, are broader and less restrictive than individual cities’ laws. Obviously a state law must cover the entire state from rural through villages to cities. But state law also provides “home rule” for cities and therefore cities set their own traffic regulations among other laws. So don’t be misled into thinking a state law supersedes cities’ regs. Within the city limits the city regs rule.

Potpourri

More things of interest in alpha order:

Tips for Bicyclists

Before I left I asked Shane Farthing of WABA whether there were any bike apps that would be helpful to bicyclists here finding the most bike friendly streets to a particular destination. He recommended the following link and, since my smartphone is not an I-phone I’d appreciate your help on this one to see how well it works:

http://www.waba.org/blog/2013/07/google-maps-bicycling-directions-now-available-for-iphone

Plus WABA also has an app with DC bike laws, safety tips, and a guide for what to do if you’re in a crash:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/waba-crash-help-kit/id585309061?mt=8

And if you’re not yet associated with WABA(the Washington Area Bicyclists Association), give them a try. They do a lot of education and provide a lot of good info for bicyclists.

Citizen Action

I heard from another friend that at last month’s ANC6a meeting they voted unanimously to support bike lanes on G and Eye Streets NE contra flow. But they also were sending a letter to Mayor Gray asking that the city ban bike riding on the sidewalk on H St., NE. I have not been able to confirm this info on the ANC6a site, which is not unusual since it often takes a month or two for meeting actions to be recorded on the site. But in the meantime the popville blog held a conversation of the question of banning sidewalk bicycling there, which I think you’ll find interesting. Obviously, as the Dupont business people who wrote the Mayor in January said, this is a city-wide problem. Here’s the link to the popville site:

http://www.popville.com/2013/07/should-bikes-be-banned-from-h-street-ne-sidewalks/

Info for Pedestrians

Another friend sent me an article from Atlantic Cities, which is pretty scary in itself. The article name is A Pedestrian is Killed in a Traffic Crash in the US Every 2 Hours but if you also click on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics embedded within the article, you can also get a brief report from the NHTSA at the very end of which are safety tips for pedestrians. Within this article are a couple of other embedded links included that are worth a look. Here’s the link(if you get the Atlantic Cities site, but it says “page not found as it just did for me, just click on their “commute” button and then scroll down to the article, which was published August 5):

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/08/

The safety tips for pedestrians are mostly ones you already know from reading this blog, but one I did not include is to avoid alcohol and drugs as they impair your ability to stay alert as you need to be. Since in some news items this week there were references to at least one third of the pedestrian deaths in this area being the result of the pedestrian being drunk, it’s good to add that to the list.

if you want to get more deeply into what the NHTSA is doing and hopes to do, here’s a link for that:

http://www/nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/everyoneisapedestrian/index.html

I understand there was a press conference early this week on pedestrian initiatives but I haven’t had time to get further into it. As I do, if there are worthwhile ideas, I’ll try to bring them forth here. I understand the NHTSA’s approach is “holistic” and country-wide so I’m a bit doubtful as to positive impact in specific city situations. But I never close my mind to anything and I urge you to not to either. If we are to make DC the truly walkable city it can be, we need to be open minded and creative.

Stray Notes

I learned this category from a political blogger I read and it’s pretty useful sometimes. And it may be useful for those of you thinking of starting your own blogs. One thing I’ve learned is that, if you have a public service blog like this one, you may occasionally find that some people really hate what you are doing and are not civil about it. Since I started getting more comments after the Post article, I’ve approved every comment in toto because I believe in free discussion of these issues and am not afraid of legitimate criticism. But, about a week after the Post article, I got my first “pingback” from another blog, which had published an article about the Logan ANC action and my blog. Before approving I looked at the blog and found their article fair and their other articles, all on different traffic issues ok as well, so I approved.

The blog was not a problem. But one of their readers was because the next morning I woke up to 22 new comments to approve, all from the same person, all seemingly written in the middle of the night, and all hurling personal invective at your blogger. Your blogger, being who she is, tried to see if she could edit some to be useful. But after the third obvious factual error, I gave up on that as well and “trashed” them all. I DO HAVE THAT POWER, but try not to use it. And if you’re stating a fact that is not your own personal observation, please try to give the source.

I thought you’d appreciate a brief summary of one or two more printable “points” this person tried to make. First, the person told me that my mores were not “modern” then turned right around and said that sidewalk bicycling had always been part of the “culture” of DC. So who’s not “modern” here? If we never changed cultures for the better, we’d all still be living in caves and cooking our meals over open fires. But some mores, like civility, consideration of others and understanding what is important in life, are timeless.

The second point the person made gave me a real laugh–it suggested in at least 3 comments that if I didn’t like the “culture” I could leave town. I laughed because I remember about 30 years ago, when I was in school here, there used to be a bumper sticker on a lot of cars: “The Redskins: Love ‘Em or Leave Town.” I wondered if this person owned that bumper sticker as well as that attitude. And I hope I will not insult any of you when I say that, once I saw that bumper sticker, I never rooted for the ‘Skins–until last year when a couple of young guys with all the good timeless mores became their stars–RGIII and Alfred Morris.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND. AND STAY ALERT AND STAY SAFE.