Archive | August, 2014

A question for readers, regular and occasional

5 Aug

First a diary entry

Last Saturday night I went out to an early dinner with an older friend and returning to my apartment building stopped to talk to another friend just coming out. We had a lot to say to each other, it turned out. So we stood chatting for a while on what was a beautiful summer evening. Luckily, she had stopped me when I was already just inside “our” sidewalk to the building because around 8 pm two sidewalk bicyclists came speeding by side by side headed toward Q. We commented on how lucky we were to be out of the danger zone, the public sidewalk. As they sped by, I noticed two other sidewalk bicyclists, riding side by side, on the other side of the street, also barreling toward Q. At that point no pedestrian on either side of 16th could have entered the public sidewalk safely and yet there were plenty of walkers out on this nice night, including some who might have just been turning into 16th from Q. At the corner on both sides, pedestrians had to yield to let the bikers past. So as far as I could see no one got hurt. But what a shame that in DC’s Alice Wonderland world it is the pedestrians who have to yield to the bicyclists on the SIDEWALK.

Now for the question

One problem I notice in news reports and bike lobby propaganda is that people are assuming no pedestrians get hurt. Yet, whenever pedestrians have a chance to mention, in comments to this blog or other more famous ones, like popville.com or Greater Greater Washington, it is clear that people do get hurt, either by a direct collision or by having to jump awkwardly out of the way. Since I got hit in 2013 by bikers coming from behind me, side by side, I know that there’s really no good way to report to the MPD such an assault. The bikers are gone before you know it and, unless you have to be taken to the hospital, there’s really no way to get it on the “official” record.

But, here’s my question: Can you think of a way to “bank” these incidents of actual hits of pedestrians by bicyclists and the injuries caused?
NOTE: When I started this blog last year, I had hoped that pedestrians would feel comfortable reporting in here. But that has only rarely happened. So, perhaps another way is needed. Or if the suggestion is to use this blog, then we need to get the word out. And, speaking of words, I can keep my comments shorter.

It is important that we start building some kind of record for the powers that be.

Thanks for any suggestions.

And, don’t let the quiet August days relax you too much when you’re walking or biking. STAY ALERT. DON’T GET HURT.

Potpourri IV

1 Aug

When I left for work this morning, I met the mother of one of my neighbors in the elevator. I found she was just visiting and liked to go for a walk for exercise each morning while her daughter was still getting ready for the day. I gave her a friendly warning about watching out for sidewalk bicyclists even behind her if she moved even a bit out of a straight line walk. And she answered that her daughter had already warned her about that. Imagine what a reputation we’re getting when even college students remember to warn their parents about the dangerous sidewalk bikers. What a shame!

Speaking of DC’s increasingly well known reputation as the capital of entitlement sidewalk biking, when I was out in the far west of WV near Huntington a couple of weeks ago, a friend said he’d heard on their news that there’d been a big drop in tickets issued to bicyclists in DC. I told him that doesn’t mean they’re getting better; it means there’s less enforcement. Little did I know at the time that that was the exact point of those interviewed for a Washington Post article that followed up on the column brouhaha week before. I finally had a chance to read the article through when I got back and, while I don’t have a good internet cite for it I do know the article was published July 15, with the title: “As tensions rise among D.C. road users, many say police enforcement lags” a good read.

The author, Luz Lazo, obviously got no further than I did on what is actually happening on the streets and sidewalks. To wit: “D.C. police deny that there are too few officers out monitoring the roads. They say officers are out ticketing drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians violating traffic laws. Police, however, declined to provide statistics about citations issued to motorists and pedestrians, saying a reporter would need to submit a Freedom of Information Act request.”(emphasis added)[My Comment, as you readers can guess Good Luck with that!] The article continues with what was obviously the basis for the radio report my friend heard: “Earlier this month, police did provide some information on citations issued to bicyclists, and data shows a decline in tickets issued so far this year compared with previous years. The precipitous drop comes even as there are more cyclists on the roads, something even bike advocates say is an indication of lack of enforcement.”

Since Sgt. Terry Thorne, the source that responded to my letter to Chief Lanier, was quoted in the article, I can now reveal his name. You can read my earlier post “Pedestrians: Let Your Voices Be Heard”, to see briefly what he told me on April 27, basically an expanded version of what is quoted in the above article about their Street Smart campaign of education and enforcement. He has yet to answer my simple question of April 28: How do they judge the success of the campaign? Think I’ll try again with that.

Speaking of things unanswered and the high mountains we pedestrians have to climb, it is now 17 months and counting since the Dupont business petition letter to the Mayor and Phil Mendelson, with a courtesy copy to Jack Evans was hand delivered and stamped in and still no answer.

The In Towner publisher has a nice recap of other things undone in the past year, including my problems getting answers under FOIA. And he suggests that we query the mayoral and council-at-large candidates about “where they stand on protecting residents who expect to be safe on their neighborhood sidewalks.” Frankly, for those in Dupont, even though this editorialist give him a pass, I’d be questioning Jack Evans as well. Here’s the cite:

http://intowner.com/2014/07/11/bicycle-riding-on-neighborhood-sidewalks-more-what-can-be-done

I agree with his suggestion, especially after I learned this week from the City Paper that our council people earn $132,990 a year and are allowed to keep their lucrative other jobs as well. For that money and that perk alone, they should be responding to every citizen pronto, no excuses.

That’s all for now. Another weekend is almost upon us and that is prime time for the rogue sidewalk bikers. So STAY ALERT. DON’T GET HURT.