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!


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