Archive | October, 2013

In case you missed these in the Post or Express

25 Oct

Hi again. Your blogger is still in the busiest season of work at her nonprofit while trying to accomplish some freelance work as well. And so I was unsure how I would put together a worthwhile post for you this week.

And Then…

Both before and after one of our lectures I encountered reckless sidewalk bicyclist on Corcoran. [You may remember that Corcoran is a small side street with a narrow sidewalk and trees and steps of row houses jutting out to make it yet more difficult for even a pedestrian to navigate. It is also between between Q and R, both of which have bike lanes, one going one way east and the other going west]. Thus why anyone would ride a bicycle on such a sidewalk, especially at night, when there is no auto traffic on the street remains a mystery to me, but I have to deal with it because I have the “perk”, finally, after years of commuting long distances, of working in my own neighborhood. At any rate, the more dangerous of these bicyclists was the one who came up silently from behind and brushed me, since I had to move around a fence surrounding a tree. he did not stop to apologize so I yelled after him as he sped away–“Say something when you’re coming from behind” And without turning back he was still able to yell a curse. I looked and, of course, not a car to be seen on Corcoran between NH and 17th. The other was easy to avoid, except it came as a surprise. I’d just crossed 17th, headed toward 16th, on the really narrow south side of Corcoran, when out of the shadows came a biker in a real hurry. Since I was at the corner and his plan appeared to me to be to get to the corner and turn up over the handicap cut to the 17th street sidewalk, I was a sitting duck. But because I saw him I could move behind the shop on the corner Prego Again.

So With that motivation…

Here are a couple of things in the little file I’ve been keeping to get to when things die down.

1.Did you see the Post Magazine’s Sept. 15 Design Issue?

I had thought to comment on this here at some point, merely to make a point that, for all the articles on Design, including a big one on DC’s bike friendly status, there was nothing in that article or in any of the other articles on making DC more “walk-friendly.” But I didn’t have the time with both work and partial work travel intervening(the rest of that travel was fun–more about the situation for pedestrians in the cities I visited another time). However, I was surprised to find in the Post Magazine a couple of Sundays later, this Reader Reaction, which I quote in its entirety:

Regarding the Sept. 15 article “How D.C. blazed the path, by Leah Binkowitz.

Arthur Mason, Washington: Leah Binkowitz’s article was one of the most biased I have ever read. Let’s start with the picture on Page 20 captioned “Bikers wait for a green light.” How long did you have to look for bikers waiting for a green light? They never wait for a green light. Anytime I talk to a D.C. driver, the subject always gets around to the lawless biking community. Red lights, one-way signs, do-not-enter signs mean nothing to them. They act like they are entitled to go anywhere on any street or sidewalk at any time. No wonder they get into accidents. They have the politicians’ ear and get laws passed making it an offense for cars to annoy them in any way.

MY COMMENT: Personally I think Mr. Mason probably represents an increasing number of people in DC and certainly makes good points about a number of bicyclists. But, as your blogger has pointed out before, there are lot of good bicyclists out there. Still they are tarred with the same brush. And when, inevitably, if the laws aren’t changed and enforced to cut down that reckless entitled biker mentality of some, a tragedy occurs,all bicyclists, even the many good ones–like the Gentleman Bicyclist of 17th Street, about whom I wrote in an earlier post, will be negatively affected. This is why I am trying to work with WABA and other responsible people in the biking and pedestrian community to move things in the right direction before we reach the point where we’re shaking our heads and saying, “If only, we’d done something earlier.”

2. Did you happen to read the Express Oct. 17 Best of issue?

If not, on the DC life page, they had, first, the most popular neighborhood blog: PoPville.com, with which you will be familiar from a previous post here. I think the honor is well-deserved from what I’ve been able to read.

The Express also had a most popular Bike Lane award (sorry, fellow pedestrians, no “most popular place to walk” category)

The bike lane award went to “Pennsylvania Avenue NW” (the one mile stretch of protected pavement that opened in 2010, with reflective barriers and special traffic signals for cyclists). Coming in second, was 15th St. NW and third, L St. NW.

So here’s a question or two for you bicyclists out there: Would you rank these bike lanes at the top? Why? Do you have other selections? And again why?
And finally–What in your mind would be the best kind of bike lane that could be realistically implemented here in DC?

It really helps for me and those who follow this blog to know what you think. So weigh in on this, or other issues raised in this blog. Thanks.

Well that’s all for now. Have a great weekend and STAY ALERT AND STAY ALIVE.

Shutdown v. Shutout

18 Oct

Well, the Federal Government Shutdown is over. Whew!

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DC GOVERNMENT SHUTOUT? THAT APPEARS TO BE PERMANENT.

Earlier this week, I had my regular hair appointment at Diego’s Hair Salon and also stopped by couple other of the business people who signed the letter to the DC Mayor and Council chair and had also contacted Jack Evans office on the issue of sidewalk bicycling. Although their letter was hand carried and stamped in in early February, they have no answer yet. This, despite a followup by Diego, who has a portion of Q street named after him as an honorific. During that followup, in March, he actually went downtown to the Wilson building and met with individual council people, who assured him they would “do something.” What that “something” is, is still unknown. But, speaking for myself only, I’d say that something appears to be nothing. Diego’s discouraged. At least one of the other business people said to me “We give money to their campaigns and help them get elected, then we never heard from them again even when we call”

The support letters we citizens have sent have also not been answered. And the FOIA request I made in late June has also still not been answered and is now a month over even their deadline. Nor has a very simple questions of clarification I asked someone in DDOT, although every time I remind him, he says he’ll get to it.

SO WILL THE SHUTOUT BE PERMANENT?

I love DC and for many reasons this is the perfect place for me to live. But I do have to say that the people in DC are extremely patient with the people they elected. After all, they are supposed to be working for us. And the least any one of them should do is–answer their mail. I worked in Congress for my NY rep while I was in grad school. And we answered every letter. Whenever, as a NY citizen or OH citizen, I wrote to my Congresspeople I got an answer. When I worked for governmental entities, I always answered my mail and returned phone calls. In fact, in every job I’ve ever had where I was working with the public, especially when I was in government, responding timely was a requirement.

What makes DC Government, especially the elected ones, different? They don’t have to agree with the citizen’s sentiment, just acknowledge it and, if they really want to show they’re thinking about it, tell what they would do. How hard is that? And as the FOIA request, it’s part of the job description.

Note that above, I call these council members and Mayor, elected “ones” not “officials”. To me, “officials” is what such people are in Dictatorships and Autocracies and Monarchies. In our democratic republic, those we elect, and those they hire, are PUBLIC SERVANTS. The sooner they understand that the better. BUT UNLESS WE HOLD THEM TO THAT STANDARD, THINGS WILL NOT CHANGE. So, think about that the next time you’re voting.

And please comment if you’ve written a letter or sent a petition to DC government personnel in recent years, especially if you’ve received a response. Perhaps there’s something I and the businesspeople are missing.

Enjoy the weekend, especially you federal workers who are back on the job, And STAY ALERT AND STAY SAFE.

Potpourri II(revised)

11 Oct

Hello again. I’m back from my travels and have to catch up on a lot of work, so this will be a mix of things I didn’t have time to tell you before. But first, I should mention that I went to several cities in the Mid-Atlantic region as well as dipping into the South (North Carolina) and I only saw any sidewalk bicycling in one city–downtown Asheville NC, and the two I saw there were going slowly and carefully. I’ll check on the laws there and elsewhere as I have time.

However, when I got back to DC for brief stopovers twice and then finally home Sunday night, I found that I’d been lulled into a false sense of complacency. So a new safety tip for pedestrians who do a lot of traveling. Do something to remind yourself when you come back home, to stay alert from the moment you step on the sidewalk to avoid being hit by a reckless sidewalk bicyclist. I didn’t get hit but came really close when I came home about 9:30 Sunday night, lugging my bag off the S4 bus at Q and 16th. I had just cleared the bus shelter when out of nowhere with no word of warning sped a sidewalk bicyclist sped past me jostling my bag, but thankfully nothing else. I’d been traveling all day and was really tired and certainly didn’t need this aggravation. All I had to do was get across the street to my building and I was safe. But getting across became a problem when another sidewalk biker sped down the handicapped ramp into the crosswalk heading right at me. At least I saw him and stepped away to give him the space that should have been mine. So I got home safe. But realized I was back in DC.

BTW this last trip of mine was by train, from Charleston WV, a good nine hour trip. And I do mean “good”. When I have to take a train as opposed to a plane or driving, I always feel it’s like a vacation. Great scenery and all I have to do it look at it. Great people too. Train people tend to be more courteous and thoughtful and just plain friendly if they feel you wouldn’t mind chatting a bit. And you can both at your seat and if you go back to the dining car, they sit you with other folks you haven’t met yet. And some times you strike up a friendship. Interestingly on this trip, as we talked about our lives and I mentioned my blog, all I had to do was mention the them of prohibiting sidewalk bicycling and at least two people said to me they were thankful for that. Although they had only visited DC, they’d noticed the reckless sidewalk bicyclists around the Mall and the museums. Honest! I wasn’t trying to responses, just mentioning it as one thing I do. So we’re getting a bad rep that sadly we deserve.

Stray Notes

Transportation survey

1. Did you get a survey request from DDOT in your mail last month? I did. And, while I don’t ordinarily take the time for surveys(too many, too little time), I did for this one because it involved developing a transportation plan for DC You could take it online, but I chose to call and do it by phone, in part because I wanted to see if I could get a copy of the survey questions w/o printing out a bunch of pages online. I couldn’t do this, but I did take notes. One flaw, once you said you walked to work, there were virtually no followups on what would make your life easier. The only one I remember was would sidewalks on both sides of the street help? Nothing about do you feel safe on the sidewalks and if not, why not? Or, the biggie,–do bicyclists on the sidewalk make you feel less safe?

But, for bicyclists, an entirely different story: Blocks of questions asked you about using Capital Bikeshare, and, for all bicyclists: Would more bike lanes help? Would two way bike lanes help? Would tolls on cars coming into DC, so they would be encouraged not to drive, help? Would enclosed and protected places to store your bike while at work help? Would showers at work help?

Now, as you know, I am not against helping bicyclists get more protected or getting perks at work. I just think pedestrians should get attention in this way as well.

At any rate, for taking this survey, I will be getting $5.00 Starbucks Gift Card, I’m told. So it wasn’t a total loss.

If you didn’t get this mailed request, you might check out a survey I just got a notice for, from MoveDC at http://movedc.metrorequest.com/ I don’t know if you get anything for it, but it’s a chance to at least get in on the conversation about the future of transportation in DC.

That’s all I have time for. But I have more to share with you from the last couple of weeks, so come back next week. and STAY ALERT and STAY SAFE.