Archive | September, 2014

A couple of quick notes on citizen action and a diary entry

12 Sep

Well, things certainly have started out fast now that everyone’s refreshed and back to work. And I fear things for me won’t get much less busy at least until after Thanksgiving. So I might be a little lax with my posting, unless there’s something really important to report. But there are a couple of things I want to highlight:

Mayor and At-Large Council Races
As the InTowner editor stressed this last summer (see my post Potpourri IV for a link) we should question the candidates about where they stand on protecting residents who expect to be safe on their neighborhood sidewalks from reckless bicyclists riding on the sidewalks. I second that and hope that, if you have the time to attend a candidate meeting, you ask that question. But don’t let it stop there. As I said I would do in that earlier post, I finally got a letter out to my sitting councilperson, Jack Evans, asking what he would do and why he has never responded to the Dupont Business persons letter on this issue. Don’t let any of your public servants get away with not doing their jobs. They are your employees.

FOIA Requests and the letter to Chief Lanier

This morning while getting ready for work, I heard a radio ad running on WTOP which touts the DC Police enforcement of laws regarding bicycle and motorists to improve safety for both. This ad must be part of the MPD’s “Street Smart” campaign. But ads are one thing, actual enforcement and statistics regarding same are another. As of today, five months after I first asked how he judged the effectiveness of the campaign, Sgt. Terry Thorne, has not responded to this simple question although he invited me to contact him. You may recall that he sent me an e-mail in response to my letter to Chief Lanier. She did the right thing in delegating this to him. But if he chooses not to answer my question, I may have to write her another letter.

Still no answer to the original FOIA request on stats. Since the WashPost is now on the case too, I wonder if they’ve got anywhere.

I’m OK; You’re OK

Finally, a story for one of my regular readers, Bob, who not only reads but comments from time to time, something that I invite more of you to do.

First, a cautionary tale from a few weeks ago when I was crossing with the light at 17th and Q. On this day I was crossing in the southern pedestrian crosswalk because I had business at Dupont Circle before going to work. I looked, as I always do, to see if all traffic was stopped and if any cyclists were stopped as well. All auto traffic was stopped but I saw a cyclist in the bike lane closing in on the northern pedestrian crosswalk. He seemed to be going to fast to stop so as I went across I put my hand up in a stopping motion. But he barreled right through the light and I yelled “That red light’s for you too”. He kept coming and altered only an inch or two to avoid hitting me. As he sailed past he yelled “I’m OK; You’re OK.” And I yelled after him. “But you’re breaking the law.”

I remembered that saying from somewhere and googled it. Turns out “I’m OK; You’re OK” was the name of a very popular self-help book, which was a practical guide to something called Transactional Analysis, which is probably why I remembered it from mention in my college Psych class. A little more digging and I found out that “I’m OK; You’re OK” was the gold standard of that analysis, the so-called “Adult to Adult” conversation that people were supposed to follow to get good things done, including big things like world peace. This was as opposed to other unequal conversations, like the “I’m OK and You’re Not” conversation, which implies one person thinks they’re an adult and the other a child. At any rate,
clearly the meaning was lost on the law-breaking bicyclist who yelled it at me. He was no adult and he was endangering himself as well as me(What if there was traffic on Q coming up to move with the green light that didn’t see him in time?).

That tale is sad proof of Bob’s point that plenty of cyclists even at rush hour go through the lights as well as on the sidewalks. And I do agree with him. I don’t stress it often because that behavior actually is currently against the law and therefore better enforcement not just police radio ads touting Street Smart is what we need.

A funny coda to this story–the business I had at Dupont Circle before work was to deliver the pdf for the Dupont version of the Logan signs urging bikers to get off the sidewalks.

But finally a good note on good bicyclists that happened this morning. I am getting to work earlier this week and usually I feel safer from sidewalk bikers in particular at that time. Saw none of them again. But at the light at 17th and Q I started crossing and saw a truly extraordinary sight– first one, then two, then more, at least 8 by my count, bicyclists all following the lead of the first and stopping at the light, behind the crosswalk. I wanted to give them a cheer right there for making my day.

That’s all for now. Remember to make your voice heard in election forums and make time to write a note to your council person on ending sidewalk bicycling and enforcing the laws that currently exist. Keep the heat on. It’s the only way to make a difference. Your fellow pedestrians AND THE GOOD BICYCLISTS will appreciate it.

And, as we head into a beautiful fall weekend, remember STAY ALERT; DON’T GET HURT!


Back to Work Week

5 Sep

Hello again! Did you miss me? Judging from the resounding non-response to the question in my last post, I’m guessing not. But we soldier on in our efforts to help keep pedestrians, and bicyclists too, safe.

My August, like yours I’m guessing, included vacation. But mine was hard fought for as I had several work projects that suddenly reared their ugly heads as I was trying to get ready to go. Nonetheless I made it out close by to mini-vacations with family and friends in Maryland, first at Frederick and then Westminster. Then last weekend in Annapolis. And I saw hundreds of bicyclists and, in the cities’ downtowns even more pedestrians. Every one obeying the law, which in Maryland, does not allow sidewalk bicycling in general. I was struck by the large number of bicyclists, particularly in Annapolis, the downtown of which has no bike lanes and narrow streets and circles crowded with auto traffic. But there they were, men, women and even children, happily biking in the streets, with helmets on, following all the rules of traffic, stopping at read lights, signaling. That made this vacation by the Bay particularly fun. I even borrowed a friend’s bike and helmet and went for a spin, mostly on one of the bike trails that intersect at Annapolis. Even on the bike trails, I noticed the different and welcome culture. Everyone was riding to the right in the direction they were going, which made it easy for cyclists coming the other way.

When I got back, I googled Annapolis in particular because of the huge number of good bicyclists I’d seen. I discovered this on their website:

As the only municipal hub in the United States where two national trails (the East Coast Greenway Trail and the American Discovery Trail) converge, and as the finish line for the Race Across America, and as a key link to international destinations via the B&O Trail, the BWI Trail, the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, AMTRAK and Greyhound/Trailways, Annapolis seeks to be a world-renowned bicycle destination where safe bicycling is an accepted form of transportation.

As I read further, I checked the bike laws and indeed Annapolis follows MD state law on not permitting bicycling on sidewalks. I then checked the Mayor’s plans to make Annapolis a world-renowned bicycle destination. Again I happily noted that in a quick skim I saw nothing that indicated any plan to allow bicycling on sidewalks. Ah, but there’s a reason! Annapolis wants to become a world-renowned destination for “safe bicycling” not the capital of Bikes Rule, Screw You entitlement bicycling we have here in DC.

A Small Step Forward

I’ll close by announcing a small victory. There are now a few signs in Dupont Circle along Q and R that carry the message of the Logan Circle signs that all safer when cyclists ride on the street not the sidewalk. Since we had no organizational funding like Logan, it was up to people to buy their own signs. And a few stalwart citizens did so. And a couple more people have asked for them. If you are one of those in Dupont who have seen the signs and want one, let me know. The signs cost less if we buy them in groups, and I’d like to put together another group if possible. You can’t keep good people down when their quality of life is at stake.

More next week about future plans in this area and other ways to put pressure on the powers that be.