Hello all. I did not post last week because, with the Washington Navy Yard tragedy at the beginning of the week, I thought that whatever I had to say could wait a week while we all sorted out in our minds how this awful thing happened. And for those of us who had friends and relatives at the Navy Yard or possibly at the Navy Yard, it was an anxious couple of days until we learned of their safety.
But I had learned of new sidewalk bicycling incidents in my neighborhood as early as Sunday of that week that I wanted to report. It seems that a lot of people who actually know me report these incidents directly to me and hope that I will use them but, despite my suggestion, do not take the time to put them on the site themselves because their work and family responsibilities take up all their time. I can understand that. Still to keep this at least some record of particularly outrageous incidents I will report what I was told because I’ve seen similar incidents and I know these people and what they are talking about.
BUT BEFORE I GET TO THOSE INCIDENTS–I WANT TO GIVE A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT AND THANK YOU TO A MAN I AM CALLING “The gentleman Bicyclist of 17th Street.” I saw him on my way to work this morning and wanted to run right in here and write about it. But I had to wait for a break. Here was the situation. I walked out of my building this morning with a young couple who had their first child in a baby carriage with them. We turned on to Q from 16th to 17th and there parted company. They went south across Q with the ped light and then waited to cross 17th as I did on the north side. The light changed in our favor and we started crossing, me a little slower because with this knee problem I still have to carry a cane on some days. But that is a long light so I still had 20 seconds. I do as I advise you to do–look both ways even though 17th is one way going south at that point. I saw everyone stopped even the single bicyclist, who I noted was wearing a helmet and safety jacket. But I also kept my eyes out for others as I crossed and, sure enough, I saw a bicyclist coming up behind the stopped bicyclist at a speed that made me think he wasn’t going to stop. I put up my cane as I went the last few steps to the sidewalk because I saw him coming around the other guy who was stopped and heading right toward me. My cane barrier made him wobble a bit and I wasn’t hit. But there was no way he was going to stop UNTIL–
THE OTHER BICYCLIST TOLD HIM TO STOP. “Just put your foot down and stop.” The guy did so, but must’ve asked why in a surly way, because the other bicyclist said to him clearly and firmly “Because that’s a red light. You’re a vehicle. You HAVE TO STOP.”
Already on the sidewalk, I turned around and said “Thank you, sir.” I don’t know if he heard me but I do thank him and all bicyclists who make sure that the others who are giving them a bad name do the right thing, or at least realize they are doing the wrong thing. And I hope the bicyclist who was riding right through the crosswalk and the light took the other’s comments to heart. Because besides helping us pedestrians safely cross the street, The Gentleman Bicyclist of 17th Street could have saved the other guy’s life. SO BRAVO AGAIN TO THE GENTLEMAN BICYCLIST OF 17th ST.
NOW ON TO THE TWO SIDEWALK BICYCLING INCIDENTS AND A Third that happened while one of the other two was being discussed:
For bicyclists these incidents are particularly important because they point out dangers to you as well
1. Sunday Morning, 7:45 a.m., Corcoran St., NW, between 17th and 16th: A friend who works at the DCJCC was leaving McDonald’s on her way to work by the side door, which is on Corcoran. As she opened the door, a sidewalk bicyclist came careening around the corner. She said if she’d opened the door any faster he would’ve run right into it. As it was, he had to quickly move around it, which put him at risk of going over the curb on that slim sidewalk.
The amazing thing about this incident or any incident on Corcoran, on that block or the block between 17th and New Hampshire is that there is virtually NO STREET TRAFFIC. Corcoran is a small side street, with narrow sidewalks and stairs, trees and other obstructions, between Q and R, and it goes one way. So autos are unlikely to take if unless they are actually stopping there or trying to find a parking place. And on Sunday Morning, there is NO street traffic. I walk to the Safeway along Corcoran every Sunday morning around 8 a.m. to get my Sunday papers and breakfast things and only rarely see a moving auto. And, since I am a pedestrian, when I see the McDonalds side door opening I have plenty of time to stop. GIVEN ALL OF THIS, WHY WOULD ANYONE RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK THERE? HE’S ENDANGERING HIMSELF!
2. Saturday Night, Vapiano, 18th and M: A friend had dinner there and as he walked out, he was almost cut down by a sidewalk bicyclist. Being young and athletic, he was able to jump out of the way just in time. But this incident points out two things: first, since this location is within the area where sidewalk bicycling is prohibited, this biker was breaking the law. But, second, bicyclists everywhere, but especially on the sidewalk, have to be constantly alert for unplanned events, like a person innocently walking out of a restaurant.
Also of interest is that, while I was listening to this latter story, at, you guessed it, the corner of Corcoran and 16th at midday on Sunday, a sidewalk bicyclist came speeding down 16th from just north of Corcoran, down the handicap ramp, up the other, with eyes looking straight ahead. My friend said–look at that. 20 miles per hour. I said, and if either of us had moved even slightly on to the 16th Street sidewalk as we finished talking, we would’ve been hit straight on.”
Well, that’s all for now. And I’ll be on travel all next week, so no posts. But feel free to comment. I can approve from my smartphone. Until I write next. FOR BOTH BICYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS: STAY ALERT. STAY SAFE. AND STAY ALIVE.