In my last post I wrote about the bill introduced by Councilmember Jim Graham to prohibit the riding of bicycles and Segways wherever a bicycle lange going in the same directions is available. At the time I did not remember that this is Councilmember Graham’s last term, which effectively means even this tiny step toward protecting pedestrians on the sidewalk has a limited shelf life.
The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, which is chaired by Councilmember Mary Cheh. It is her choice whether or not to hold hearings. If she does nothing before the end of this session the bill “dies in committee” and would have to be re-introduced next session. Since Graham will no longer be in Council, a member of the new Council would have to introduce it.
Citizen Action Needed Again
Yet another time for heavy lifting by we, the people, even though we elect representatives and give them outrageous salaries to do the right things to protect us. But we can do it! To move the bill forward this session and have at least hearings, write Councilmember Cheh at email@example.com and copy the committee director, Drew Newman, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those of you living in Ward 3 have extra clout since Cheh is your representative. And, even in the new session, you can e-mail the same persons, who I am virtually certain will still be involved with the same committee, to take a serious legislative approach to the problems of sidewalk bicycling both by new legislation extending the ban on sidewalk bicycling beyond the Central Business District to other downtown neighborhoods like Logan, Dupont, and Adams Morgan, and indeed any neighborhood where there is significant pedestrian traffic because of the vast changes in DC since the original CBD was outlined some 30 plus years ago. The Committee should also direct MPD to strictly enforce existing laws and rules in the CBD and other neighborhoods, where it is already against the law not to yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk and not to ride at excessive speeds or to run red lights.
Here are other actions that can be taken:
Ask Jim Sebastian of DOT what DDOT is doing to make certain pedestrians are not endangered by bicyclists riding on the sidewalks. email@example.com
Ask Sgt. Terry Thorne, who is the head of the MPD’s Street Smart program, how MPD judges the success of that campaign in getting bicyclists off the sidewalks in the CBD and getting them to yield to pedestrians when they ride the sidewalks elsewhere. firstname.lastname@example.org
Write Dr. Gridlock and now Luz Lazo at the Post about the problem, with examples. And, while you’re at it, ask whether the Post has made the FOIA request Sgt. Thorne suggested in nonresponse last summer, and whether they have any answer yet.
Write your councilmember and, once she gets in, our new mayor, about the problem. Every e-mail, every letter, helps keep the pressure on.
And if you need more incentive…
On November 6, two days after the election, I just going back to the office after lunch at home, around 12:30, when I stopped to compliment the workers in the garden area outside the front of our building at the appearance of the new landscaping they had just completed. When I reached the main sidewalk, two women with two toddlers each had stopped to admire the new flowers and plants as well. We started talking. All of a sudden I saw out of the corner of my eye, since I was not facing their direction, two bicyclists riding on the sidewalk, SIDE BY SIDE. As they came closer I wondered what they would do. There was space for a pedestrian to walk through the middle of our little group, perhaps saying “excuse me”. BUT THESE YAHOOS KEPT COMING. THEY DIDN”T THINK OF DISMOUNTING, BRAKING, OR EVEN GOING SINGLE FILE. In the couple of seconds it took for me to make an assessment that they were not going to do any reasonable or civil thing, they were within 3 feet of us. At that point, I flattened myself against the fence and warned the women to pull the toddlers back. Thankfully not one of us was injured. BUT ONLY BECAUSE WE–THE PEDESTRIANS–HAD YIELDED. The two rogue bicyclists said not a word as they passed us, still riding side by side, no doubt expecting anyone in their way to yield. They continued that way to the busy corner of Q and 16th and beyond. I glanced at 16th Street where at that time of day there was minimal traffic and none of it going as fast as the bikers were. Guess what was the topic of conversation AFTER the bikers came through? A pleasant neighborly event turned into an angry fearful one in a minute. IS THIS THE WAY OUR GOVERNMENT EXPECTS US TO LIVE?
Well, that’s all for now and all for the holiday season unless I have some hard news to report. In the meantime, for all the holidays to come–have a warm and blessed time with family and friends. See you in 2015. Meanwhile Please–STAY ALERT! DON’T GET HURT!