Updates to help you celebrate Independence Day

3 Jul

On this eve of July 4, which we should never forget is really the celebration of our country’s declaration of independence and the beginning of a marvelous experiment in building a democratic republic the likes of which the world had never seen, I have only a few updates to offer. But they are encouraging ones in this country where every citizen has a right to be heard and listened to by their elected representatives.
FOIA Update
First, on my FOIA request about enforcement in the CBD, the one place here where bicycling on the sidewalk is illegal: Having failed through normal channels, I finally wrote Chief Lanier and, within two weeks, received an response from the a sergeant in the Traffic Safety Enforcement Branch of the MPD (TSSEB). Not a complete answer, but nonetheless a response. He says the following: TSSSEB has been “conducting quarterly street smart campaigns for pedestrian/bicycle enforcement and education. Officers do target enforcement in the downtown area writing notices of infractions and handing out educational flyers as well as law cards. TSSEB deploy(sic) units to ensure safety and to enforce laws. TSSEB initiated an educational enforcement campaign to support bicycle/pedestrian infrastructures. The campaign was an attempt to decrease the bicycle accidents that are caused by both the bicycles and the vehicles. TSSEB periodically places overtime enforcement initiatives in the areas that have had a specific problem that can be addressed with focused and targeted enforcement. MPD continues to take steps that officers are appropriately investigating bicycle related incidents and following our guidelines as it relates to bicycle enforcement.

He goes on to say they realize the increase in population and are evaluating the issues arising on a daily basis. But sadly he gave no figures or more specifics. I responded with two simple questions: 1. could I use his name and 2. How does he judge the success of the street smart campaigns, i.e. did he have statistics on numbers of notices of infractions or did they have another means of judging? Although I wrote him a day after he emailed me, I have two months later no response. But since he said they were conducting these campaigns quarterly, I will check with him again now that this quarter is ended. At least I have a contact. One step forward.

Thoughts on the responses to the Logan signs

At the end of the post “Pedestrians: Let Your Voices be Heard” I gave you links to the popville site and to a pingback to my blog. My own thoughts:

1. The Prince of Petworth incited a really lively discussion on the popville site by just posting pics of the signs and a sidewalk bicyclist ignoring one of them. All sides were pretty well represented, with some as usual more intelligently expressed than others. Now that I’ve had time to go through all the comments (waiting in airports will do that!) I noticed that 5 pedestrians reported being hit with injuries, luckily none too serious, and 2 close calls. Others also reported the bicyclists yelling at them to get out of the way. (That’s yielding to pedestrians, as the law, even here, requires?) One of the last comments was one of two that mentioned moving here from elsewhere and, because, with one exception, it parallels my experience, I thought I’d repeat it here:

Anonymous: When I first moved to DC, I was shocked when walking and cyclists would come up fast behind me on the sidewalk (ringing or calling out, or not) because of the five cities I’ve lived in, this is the first one I’ve lived in where it is actually legal to bike on the sidewalk. I was surprised when I first read that. I used to yell at the cyclists to ride in the street before that. A perfectly logical assumption, given the laws and/or customs in other cities in this country (including the largest city, and formerly second largest city, where people never ride on the sidewalk). I don’t think it is safe to have bicyclists on the sidewalk.

That said, I rode my bike in those other cities , and I don’t here–I ride only outside the city. I find this city really scary to bike in. And that’s saying a lot, given that I’ve ridden in the largest city, and formerly second largest city, and the smaller city known far and wide to have the worst motorists anywhere in this country (where making a turn from 3 or 5 lanes over to the other side of the road is common). Riding in the street in DC should be made safer for cyclists.

The only part where my experience is different is that I can and have biked in DC, but I’ve always chosen my times and routes judiciously and that has helped. Some other commenters mentioned doing that too and it seems the best way to handle any situation (I do the same when driving or walking). That said, I do think that riding in the street in DC should be made safer for cyclists, but pedestrians shouldn’t have to wait until that is accomplished completely to the satisfaction of cyclists and their WABA lobby before the laws are changed to keep pedestrians safe on the sidewalks.

2. Well, since I see this post is already longer than I intended, I won’t address the pingback from the crotchety biker until next time.

And I’ll close with another step forward for pedestrians. We are one step closer to getting signs for Dupont. Thanks, Nick.

And to all Happy Independence Day and remember: STAY ALERT; DON’T GET HURT.

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