Archive | October, 2014

A Great Opportunity for Citizen Action

24 Oct

Good Morning! And it is a beautiful sunny autumn morning here in DC. It is made even better by the fact that I finally have some good news to report. Just when I thought I would have nothing positive to say about anything before I went into a really busy period for my non-profit’s most important, and therefore heavy work for all, event of the year, up steps Councilmember Jim Graham. On Tuesday he introduced a bill to protect the elderly and young from potential sidewalk bicycle hazards. Councilmember Graham’s bill would prohibit the riding of bicycles and Segways wherever a bicycle lane is available. You can read about it in the Washington Post Dr. Gridlock for Tuesday at

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dr-gridlock/wp/2014/10/21/jim-graham-bill-would-ban-bikes-segways-from-more-d-c-sidewalks/

In the article you can also read WABA’s response. Shane Farthing, who is getting to sound more like that Urban Scrawler Schneider about whom I wrote this summer, finds the bill banning cyclists from the sidewalk “a questionable idea.” Why? Because despite the bike lanes, “from a cyclist’s perspective, what the cyclist is looking for is a protected space. Until that exists, banning the cyclist from the sidewalk is really a questionable idea.” MY RESPONSE: The bill doesn’t ban cyclists from the sidewalks, just from RIDING on the sidewalks where there is also a bike lane. AND, SPEAKING OF PROTECTED SPACES, THAT IS ALL PEDESTRIANS WANT TOO– on the ONE PLACE that was created for that purpose–the sideWALK.

CITIZEN ACTION

We should all write and commend Jim Graham for tackling this issue. It’s not everything that could be done and will still involve complicated enforcement, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Write your councilmember as well to support the bill; provide examples of hits and near misses, if you can. And I have found that the bill is assigned to the Committee on Transportation and Environment, which is headed by Councilmember Mary Cheh. So write her office; find out when hearings are scheduled and provide testimony, in person, if you can; but written if you can’t.

Remember what I also said this summer in the Timeless Wisdom post–this could be our Model T moment. LET’S ALL PULL TOGETHER TO MAKE THE SIDEWALKS SAFE FOR PEDESTRIANS AGAIN.

OTHER NEWS

1. Tuesday was a busy day. Move DC also issued the final version of its Move DC plan and its Action Plan. Those of you who commented, and I hope you did, will be interested in how it came out. You can view it at

http://www.wemoveDC.org

2. BTW, as summer ended and autumn began, I checked again with the Logan Circle people to see if DDOT and WABA had ever fulfilled their commitment in line with the sign project to provide fliers and bike ambassadors to help educate bicyclists why, as the signs say, all are safer on the street when cyclists use the street not the sidewalks. Of course, the answer was no, they did not. So the signs didn’t have the full effect they might have had. Funny, how WABA was able to get bike ambassadors on a moment’s notice to attend the protest at the Post against Courtland Milloy’s column criticizing biker behavior, but couldn’t find one all summer to do really helpful education they had agreed to.

3. FINALLY, as I mentioned earlier I won’t be posting for a couple of weeks at least because of work and travel. But if I get any really hot news, I’ll try to find a way. Meanwhile, I wish you all the best and, remember

VOTE on Nov. 4. It’s your right and your voice needs to be heard AND

CYCLISTS, DRIVERS, AND PEDESTRIANS ALL–

STAY ALERT; DON’T GET HURT.

Scary tales from Manhattan

10 Oct

I’ve been traveling recently and not able to take the time to post as often as I’d like. But when I was in NYC on a combination business and pleasure trip a week or so ago, I was told by friends about a woman who was hit and killed by a bicyclist in Central Park in September. My friends didn’t remember all the details, but as luck would have it there was an article in the NYT I was reading as I was coming back in the train. I cut it out and don’t have time to look for the link this time. Sorry. But it is a cautionary tale that needs some explanation to those not familiar with NYC. At any rate, the article was in the September 29 print edition in the New York section and entitled “Deaths expose Chaos of the Loop.”

Background

Back in the early 1980’s the NYC pols got what they thought was a great idea. And those of us who could walk to Central Park and used it as our playground on weekends thought it was a great idea too. The idea was that they would close most of the roads in Central Park to automobile traffic on the weekends so that joggers and bicyclists could use the roads, which form a big loop around the park, for exercise on the weekends. I was at my first job out of school, had a neat apartment in a newly renovated building on the not yet too trendy or expensive Upper West Side and thought this was pretty cool. But, when I was biking, I tried to do it responsibly, watching out for pedestrians in the crosswalks that cut across the loop at various places. And when I walked across the park to play paddle tennis with a friend, I had to use those cross walks.

A Good IDEA Spoiled

It didn’t take long for bicyclists to begin to abuse the privilege we’d all be given. Even in the 1980’s there were accidents and injuries from bicyclists hitting joggers and pedestrians. I took extra care, waiting for a break in the constant action before running across the crosswalk to the sidewalk that led to the courts.

And Now..
Over the years I moved to other cities and lost track of this problem. But a couple of years ago, I opened up my Sunday New York Daily New, which I still get because unlike the NYT, it’s the people’s paper. And what did I find? An article about a legally blind jogger who had been hit and severely injured in Central Park by a hit and run biker. This would not have been news except that the jogger was also a lawyer and, because there was no way to find the biker, he sued the city for non-enforcement of the traffic laws in the park, speeding and yielding. This came just as I was starting the campaign here to get bicyclists off the sidewalks in crowded DC areas. So I was suddenly interested again. I used this article in my hearing testimony and also in a letter to the Mayor and my council rep to show what could happen. IF YOU DON’T ENFORCE EXISTING LAW, THE CITY COULD BE SUED.

Fast forward to the present day. I don’t know how that jogger-lawyer’s suit is going. It’s probably still going through the courts, or there might have been a settlement. But now non-enforcement in Central Park has reached a new level–death. The one that made the news was the 57 year old woman because the biker actually stayed at the scene and was not charged with a crime or ticketed according to the NYT article. Why not? That is what a lot of New Yorkers are asking. The bicyclist said he had swerved to avoid other pedestrians. The article also noted that in August a 17 year old bicyclist, dodging a pedicab crashed into a 75 year old man, sending him hard to the pavement. He died 3 days later. Again no criminal charges or traffic summons were filed.

Police can’t file charges if there are no witnesses who can say what happened and no evidence, like the skid marks they can get from cars, to indicate speed. BUT REGULAR ENFORCEMENT of speed laws and yielding laws would definitely help as they would here.

In each case, you’ll note, the bicyclist said he was trying to avoid another “obstacle”. MY QUESTION IS: WHY NOT RIDE SLOWLY ENOUGH SO YOU CAN STOP, AND EVEN DISMOUNT? THAT”S SAFE CYCLING!

And in DC

The NYC situation applies here because the same mentality of so many bicyclists causes problems here and it’s only a matter of time before we have another pedestrian killed by a bicyclist running a red light or speeding along a sidewalk when he suddenly comes upon a pedestrian who turns a corner. WE NEED CONSISTENT ENFORCEMENT OF AT LEAST THE LAWS ALREADY ON THE BOOKS.

And with that, I wish you a happy Columbus Day holiday, and remember to STAY ALERT!DON’T GET HURT!