Ice Follies

28 Jan

Hello again everyone. First I want you to take a look at the comment to the prior post, Baby Steps, because it includes a link to the sidewalk bicycling problem on the Penn State campus and State College PA. I think you’ll find that pedestrians have the same reaction we do. Luckily there is a law against that behavior, which only needs to be enforced. And, speaking of enforcement, I’ve just received some added data from my FOIA request and hope to be able to report on that next week.

But now on to Ice Follies

As we all know it snowed last week and, because it was also cold, the snow began to freeze if it wasn’t removed quickly enough. In Dupont Circle most of the businesses and apartment buildings did a good job and, once I got out of my own building, which had not cleared yet, I was able to walk to work on Wednesday morning by guessing correctly that I should stay off Corcoran and taking the long way around using main streets. But even here, since there are private homes and alleys interspersed, I had to be extra careful. Sometimes even where it was cleared there was only a clear walk for one set of steps. And, because it stayed cold, many of these icy areas remained through the beginning of the weekend.

Clearly, then, the sidewalks were dangerous for everyone, but especially for pedestrians who had to exercise extra care to concentrate to avoid unclear icy spots. AND SADLY–sidewalk bicyclists! Early Wednesday evening, as I was returning to my now cleared apartment building sidewalk, I looked across the street to see how things were going on the East side of 16th and saw that the sidewalk in front of the Church of the Holy City was not yet done nor was it done just south of the Church. But there appeared to be a ribbon of clearing that the pedestrians were using, often waiting for others coming from Corcoran to clear it before starting into it themselves. And THEN there came a sidewalk bicyclist riding like he was preparing for a Winter Olympic event plowing right through that little ribbon. Pedestrians couldn’t scatter as fast as normal and I saw a couple slip as they moved out of his way. Could he not have WALKED his bike at least through the danger zone?

Friday night I was returning from an event at my institute and had gone early to the event so I could spot the danger areas along Q Street where I knew I would have to move to the middle to avoid the ice. I’ll admit sidewalk bicylists did not enter my mind as walked home. But silently from behind came not one but two of them just as I was about to move to the middle to get over the icy alley patch. Luckily I hadn’t made my move yet.

So, just another lesson for all of us who walk. Until we change the law and the culture of bicyclists, we are an endangered species even in the worst weather conditions. So we have to watch in front and behind at all times.



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