Archive | June, 2014

Timeless Wisdom in Modern Times

20 Jun

In ancient times the Chinese philosopher Lao-tse, whose teachings are what we now know as Tao, said “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Earlier this spring, as my simple FOIA request was not being answered and the Logan sign project was looked like it was facing roadblocks, my normal optimistic self needed reassurance that sooner or later hard work and persistence would bring reward to the fledgling movement of ordinary citizens to put the WALK back in “Sidewalk” for all who use them. How many steps would it take? And how long would the thousand mile journey take?

And then I thought: How long did it take after people started driving autos before there were traffic lights, which was the great leap forward in effectively controlling auto traffic? Well, my college American History book, which I still have (some things remain useful forever), told me that, while gasoline-driven vehicles were first used in Europe in the 1870’s, they were first used in the US in the 1890’s. But it wasn’t until Henry Ford perfected and started mass producing the Model T in 1909 that the average person could afford a car and the “love affair” started. And, of course, the problems with accidents. Accidents led people to begin thinking more seriously about traffic control. According to the most reliable Internet source I found, the honor of the first installed electric traffic light system belongs to Cleveland, Ohio in 1914. Being originally from northern Ohio, I knew this but had forgotten the particulars. Here’s the link:

The Lesson to Take from The Traffic Light Beginnings

Yes, it took 25 years from the first autos in the US to get people working on an a city to actually install a reasonable auto traffic control system. BUT it only took 5 years after autos became so numerous that the problems became more evident and had to be dealt with.

So, although at least since the 1980’s according to my newspaper research when I was looking for more info on the CBD prohibition, individual pedestrians have complained about reckless sidewalk bicyclists in letters to the Post and elsewhere, and many have been injured in those years and a few killed, nothing’s been done. However, the recent bicycle boom and the increasingly entitled attitude of cyclists who insist on riding recklessly on sidewalks even with bike lanes on the same street may be the Model T moment for our still new pedestrian movement. But be prepared to be persistent and vocal for a long time to the powers that be in this city.

Have a great weekend and, by all means,


Pedestrians: Let your Voices Be Heard

13 Jun

ATTENTION: We interrupt this blog’s progress toward the next regular post to bring you this important announcement:
You have an opportunity NOW to positively affect our pedestrian future!
HOW? Take the MoveDC survey! You have until JULY 6 to take it.

Now that I’ve finally had time to read the DDOT MoveDC plan and do the survey, my take is: it’s worth it. Why? Because, unlike too many other surveys, there’s adequate room at each element to comment. And well-thought out comments and examples, if you have them, are what DDOT needs to hear.

My Experience

The MoveDC Transit Plan, despite its page length, is not heavy reading, i.e. a lot of pages are maps , pictures and summaries. And the recommendations for each element are well laid out. Of course I paid most attention to the Pedestrian and Bicycle elements. While generally giving high marks to both sections, two things I noticed and commented on:

1. In the Pedestrian element, there is no mention of the growing problem to pedestrians of cyclists on the sidewalk or any mention of enforcement of existing laws and regulations to help pedestrians safely navigate the sidewalks.
2. In the Bicycle element, Recommendations C1 and C3 are both good, as far as they go, but I commented again on the lack of mention of education and enforcement for DC regs on sidewalk bicycling outside of the CBD. And, within the CBD, while there is mention of tougher enforcement, there is nothing about signs there to state the law.

Info on doing the survey

You can read the plan at:

or get it on CD ROM at the library.

You can do the survey here (and there’s probably a link at the above website):
Or, if you don’t want to take the time to do the survey, you can e-mail comments to:
or, by mail, to:
55 M St., SS, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20003
Attn: Colleen Hawkinson

Finally, an opportunity to interact with Council on this issue:

DC Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a roundtable on the plan at 11 a.m., June 27, 2014 at the Wilson Bldg. Sadly, I’m scheduled for an out-of-town business trip starting June 26. But if you have the time, it would be good to have pedestrian representation.

REMEMBER: Bicyclists have their lobby and will be covering all bases. Pedestrians have only themselves right now. So every concerned pedestrian should speak out at every opportunity to get pedestrian views counted!
FYI I made nice comment about improvements for bicycle lanes and other things too because the responsible bicyclists in our community deserve them.

Here’s the blog population’s take on the new Logan signs: source=featured-frontpage-top

And, if you want to read something from a bicyclist who doesn’t get that, while bicycling on the sidewalk outside the CBD is technically legal, it’s still not safe, read the pingback to my recent blog post “Tips for Pedestrians” and my reply.

That’s all for now.

Logan Circle Leads the Way Again

3 Jun


Well, I have good news and I hope I have mastered a new skill as well, i.e. adding a photo to this post. I have been hoping to give you this good news for some time, but delays kept cropping up. But finally last weekend, I personally helped Mid-City Residents Association members put up signs along 14th and 15th and Q and P Street to encourage Bicyclists to ride in the street not on the sidewalks. And, if the picture I just uploaded shows up on this post, you’ll be able to see one too.


Last summer, after ANC2F passed a resolution calling for extension of the “no bicycling on sidewalks” law beyond the Central Business District into the areas just north, like Logan Circle, which have increased pedestrian traffic, the ANC2F public safety rep and MCRA reps as well as Chuck Harney from Bike Rack met with DDOT and WABA representatives to suggest a pilot project with signs and bike ambassadors to encourage cyclists to ride on the streets, not the sidewalks, especially where bike lanes were available. There was basic agreement that this was a good idea. But it took until the end of March for a graphic of the proposed sign done by DDOT to make the rounds of the emails. DDOT also mentioned then that they didn’t have it in the budget for this year and hoped the residents could pick up the cost. And there was debate back and forth about the wording of the sign, which had passed muster once, but when the possibility of an actual sign became a reality, voices that had been silent spoke up. But in the end, through the persistence of MCRA, ANC2F provided the funds, an acceptable compromise was reached on the wording and the signs were printed and finally went up last Saturday. Yay! And job well done.


I’m going to see what can be done about getting signs for the Dupont neighborhood and have permission to use this version of the sign for that effort, with perhaps a change of the small logos to accommodate new sponsors.

I’m also going to see how this pilot is received and the difference it may make.

But it’s a good start and shows that we shouldn’t give up too early on any good idea. More about that in the next post.