Archive | March, 2014

What’s Your Hurry?

25 Mar

Diary Entries

Well, I started this “snow day” off going to the bank. And while I was waiting for the light to change at 18th and Q, a sidewalk bicyclist came up silently behind me and brushed me in his single-minded desire to use the handicap cut to propel himself into the street before the light changed. That is probably the scariest thing for me because an inch closer and he would have knocked me off balance at least and maybe more.

On Sunday morning a biker with a Safeway grocery bag in one hand came from behind me, as usual without a word, and then continued without slowing down on this sidewalk which holds three people walking side by side if that. He didn’t even slow down as he approached a woman and her toddler with another person inches behind them taking up the rest of the walk. That person had probably moved left knowing he would soon pass the woman and toddler. An accident was averted only when the woman pushed her toddler behind her. But why should that have to happen? On a Sunday morning? And, if you don’t know Q Street, there is a bike lane on that street but it’s going the opposite way of what the biker wanted. BUT, since he was coming from Safeway, he could have simply gone up to R and used the bike lane going his direction. Clearly he didn’t want to go a minute out of his way since the sidewalk was right there for the taking.

AND THAT LEADS US BACK TO TODAY— as I walked along toward and into Dupont Cirle, I saw pedestrians, as well as bicyclists, ignoring the lights and walking into traffic when they saw what they thought was an opening. Since it was after 9 a.m. I couldn’t imagine that that many of these people were late for work. In fact, I notice this behavior even on Sunday mornings when I’m sure 90% of the pedestrians and bicyclists are not going to work. And I notice the timing of the lights, in Dupont Circle, most of the walk/don’t walk lights are 30-40 seconds long, some only 20 seconds. In fact I don’t think I’ve seen one longer that 60 seconds at any time. So here’s the question: What’s your hurry? Isn’t your life worth 30 seconds? I never did get this and never will.

Paris Je T’aime encore

As promised, I located the Post Travel article, which was written by Dennis Gaffney, and entitled “Ah, Paris, and its freewheeling ways” Taking a bike tour around Paris, he thought at first that “biking through downtown Paris would be a death-defying pleasure” But he then discovered why people love Paris, even bicyclists. It’s “one of the friendliest bicycling cities I’ve ever pedaled.” The key, beyond no hills, is that all modes of transportation are “respectfully negotiating the slowed-down etiquette of the shared road.” What a concept! Maybe we can learn something from the French after all!



A Quick Update and promise for more early next week

21 Mar

Well, this was another bad week for your blogger and, like the last one, it started off with a “snow” event on Monday. Once again, my work place was closed because, for reasons unknown to me, they were closed because it is a firm rule that, when the feds are closed, they are even though a critical mass of us live within walking distance. Nothing like being behind at work the first day of the week.

Then I got a notice from the new owners of our building that they were going to deal with water issues on Tuesday and Wednesday, which involve me only because I’m on the line they had to fix. I prayed they would do a better job than they did with the last two major projects they had and left for work on Tuesday because I already had two days of work to do. Came home to find my door left unlocked with no one in it. Clearly workers had been there but didn’t think of the safety of the tenants. So, of course, I stayed home on Wednesday and could get nothing done because they made so much noise and were constantly talking to each other between floors on their “cell” phones. Yelling into it is the preferred mode.

But through it all, I did manage to draft the letter to Chief Lanier about the enforcement, or lack of same, of the prohibition of sidewalk bicycling in the Central Business District. I’ll definitely let you know what response I get.

Paris Je T’aime and a thought

I had hoped to bring you some quotes from an interesting Washington Post Article I read in the Sunday Travel section in mid-February on a bicycle tour the writer took in Paris. But the gremlins got me again and I can’t locate the article. What I do remember is that Paris, the home of the original City Bike, has many bike lanes and even some painted on certain sidewalks. This reminded me that last summer I learned that there are some areas of DC where a bike lane is on a sidewalk. When I tried to find out more from DDOT I met the usual bureaucratic brick wall even though I knew the person I was writing to. He did allow that there are only 3 or 4 of them in areas where heavy street traffic make it dangerous for bicyclists to ride in the street. He also said they were marked with signs. But where they are, he’d have to look up (i.e. actually do some work for the public). So I haven’t any idea where they are.

But now some questions for you, dear readers: Do you know of any of these marked bike lane sidewalks? If so, please comment on this post and let us all know where they are.

And another question: In Paris, these lanes are painted on the sidewalks and are used where it would be too dangerous to ride in the street. Do you think this would be a good idea here, provided we could get a trade-off that bicyclists were prohibited from riding on other sidewalks?

Let me know what you think. I promise to do better next week with more info on the Paris experience as well as a little history lesson on legislative changes in general. It takes a long time but if you hang in there, eventually you are rewarded. Like Mercer beating Duke today. Glad I saw the end of that one.

And, since it’s supposed to be a nice warm weekend, there’ll be a lot of bike activity out there and more than a few pedestrians who will also be ignoring common sense when crossing streets. So STAY ALERT and STAY SAFE.

A tip of the hat to an excellent public servant here and notes about others

7 Mar

Unfortunately, this week was a bad news week for your blogger. OK, I’d chosen this week to do my taxes. But amazingly that wasn’t the worst of it. Meetings that piled up because of previous “snow” cancellations got cancelled again because of the latest “snow” event. But the worst news of all this week for me was that Chris Linn, the ANC2F commissioner dealing with crime and public safety sent an e-mail notice on Wednesday saying that night would be his last meeting since he was moving out of the neighborhood. Logan’s loss is Columbia Heights’ gain.

Chris was the commissioner in this Logan Circle ANC who got people together to discuss and then pass the resolution I reported on last summer in the post DC LAWS: CONGRATS TO LOGAN CIRCLE ANC2F AND CITIZEN ACTION. He did a fine job there of listening to the persons he represented about their concerns on sidewalk bicycling in the neighborhood but also bringing in the MPD and bicycling advocates to speak and answer questions in an informal manner that led to an excellent resolution calling for DDOT to make a study of the problem and recommend revisions of DC law such as expanding the area where no sidewalk bicycling is allowed and other possible changes to deal with what has become a real problem and quality of life issue for people in that neighborhood and others as well. Even after that resolution he continued bringing all parties together to see if measures short of legislation could be implemented more immediately. And he was relentless in following up with DDOT.

He did other things like work with the MPD on reducing crime and work with others to reduce the rat population in Logan. He did all of this humbly and with the persistence of a person who really wants to do good for his community rather than just use them to take the next step up the political ladder. So cheers to him and a long and successful life in his career and in future public service he may undertake. And I really hope for my friends in Logan that his successor will follow his example.

If you have read this blog regularly you know that I am coming to believe that there are far too few people like Chris in DC, and you can include the federal government in that as well since they’re located here, who consider themselves “public servants”, especially if they are elected, and too many who consider themselves “public officials”, who should be accorded deference and should be listened to instead of listening themselves to the people. My thought: “Public Servant”=USA; “Public Official”=Russia. This is a representative democracy, but we, the people have to keep our elected public servants on their toes. Think about that when you go to the polls to vote for Mayor and other offices in a couple of weeks. Did you or some one you know have any contact with the person you’re considering voting for? Do they answer letters to them? When you’re at a meeting with them is it 20 minutes for each and every elected one and 2 minutes for the ordinary citizen? Are they at all responsive to the problems you see and point out to them?

Now to close, a word about Monday’s “snow event”: I heard Sunday night that the federal government was going to close yet again because of the prospect of a couple of inches of snow. So I did not expect an Ohio friend of mine to come in for his meeting at NOAA in Silver Spring Monday and Tuesday. But he made it in, leaving behind 6-10 inches of snow (but an open state and city government!). His flight was somewhat delayed. He got in around midnight. But first thing Monday morning he left the hotel and walked four blocks in the snow to NOAA, only to find it locked. A policeman told him the feds were closed. But being a true public servant for his state, he went back to the hotel, contacted some of the other state agency reps who had also flown in and the private environmental consultants they were to get info from. Together they all decided to get conference rooms in the hotel and met there for two days without the feds. I’m sure they got a lot more done, more efficiently than if they’d had them there. And I was embarrassed that with what my little school ruler snow stick said was 2.5 inches of snow, even the busses were pulled on Monday and, even in Dupont Circle on Tuesday, we had to dodge icy buildup when he and I finally met for a meal before he left for the airport.

Well, this has been kind of a long post. But I think Chris deserves it. I hope to get back on track with more info on bike laws and some suggestions for you to consider next week. Meanwhile it’s going to be a beautiful warm weekend, so enjoy it but, as always—STAY ALERT AND STAY SAFE>