Archive | February, 2014

Potpourri III

18 Feb

I’ve been pretty busy lately and haven’t had much good to say, but here’s a brief rundown:

FOIA Request

While it took six months to get my first FOIA request answered and all I got was three versions of a single Traffic Enforcement notice, it took only a couple of weeks to get an answer from the DMV FOIA office but.. The acting FOIA officer there happens to be their General Counsel as well. So he wrote a very lawyerly letter telling me first that “Under FOIA the DMV is not required to answer questions..” Who knew? What is FOIA for? But he went on to say that, “without waiving that right..” he could say that the DMW doesn’t keep any of the records I requested, i.e. tickets written for sidewalk bicycling in the Central Business District; records of incidents, warnings etc. Since it is against the law to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in the CBD, my new Question is–why aren’t such records kept? I will be posing that to Chief Lanier as soon as I get the time to write a decent letter.

I will also write her about the Traffic Enforcement Notice, which is entitled “Traffic Enforcement Notice Involving non-traditional Motor Vehicles”. It does provide some information as to current law regarding sidewalk bicycling. But it’s hidden and I wouldn’t necessarily look for it in a notice about “non-traditional motor vehicles”, would you? What I do know is that several police I’ve spoken to over the last few months don’t seem to be aware of the borders of the CBD nor do they know that there are restrictions even in other zones about yielding to pedestrians and speed.

Snow and Ice—What to do?

A lot of snow fell last Thursday in a lot of places in DC, but only 4.5 inches, according to my snow stick(unlike Pat Collins, just a ruler), fell in the Dupont Circle area. For a while even the bicyclists had to use the street. Since we have a lot of people who get out promptly and shovel, by the evening and next morning there were places to walk on the sidewalk. But for the individual home owners, the shoveling often involves just cutting a thin ribbon of walk, just enough for people to go single file. That’s OK because the pedestrians understand that concept and those who can often use the snow-covered part anyway. Since Friday was nice and sunny a lot of people got out, including the bicyclists. I am convinced that some of them must have been born attached to their bike seats because, even when reason would dictate walking the bike, they do not dismount. And so I witnessed this scene Friday as it was getting dark:

On 16th St., just south of the Church of the Holy City, the homeowners often dress up their front yard with charming displays for every holiday. This time they did, for Valentine’s Day, a Charlie Brown display. A family came north from Q St. where the snow had been shoveled only allowing single line passage. They stopped to see the display. Bad idea, because in a minute came up from the same direction a sidewalk bicyclist with a briefcase in one hand. Did he slow down? Did he dismount? And guess who had to move out of the way?

Well, that’s all for now. STAY ALERT and STAY SAFE.