Archive | June, 2015

Keep Hope Alive, Pedestrians!

30 Jun

First, the bad

Well, I had hoped the Washington City Paper would be at least a little fair in its review of comments on Will Sommer’s rant (see last week’s post).  But no such luck.  Once “newspeople” have in their minds the story they want to tell, nothing will dissuade them.  So only you, dear readers, will know that “the hate[of sidewalk bikers].  The torrents of Biblical, blood-red blistering hate” did not rain down on their heads.

Of course, the editor doing the comments in the Chatter column(which, sorry I can’t find an Internet link to, but you can still pick up the paper version) made it seem so by cherry-picking a few commenters using all-caps and profanity and carrying on their own rants again and again with other ranters.

But I read every one of the 126 comments, as can you, by using the link I provided last week and I found, beyond the three or four people with too much time on their hands to rant at each other, there were a number of reasonable people who commented:  the man who just wanted to walk safely with his kids on the narrow sidewalks of Georgetown, a woman with a cane who had been knocked off balance, a person who suggested that someone listen to the conversations at the senior Center in Friendship Heights.  Plus a goodly number of cyclists who patiently explained why one should not ride on the sidewalk, gave alternate street routes that would minimize even having to be on the sidewalk, and emphasized as we do–if you must be on the sidewalk, WALK YOUR BIKE.

I’ve e-mailed the editor on this.

And some updates on the #Struck DC project

Also, in this week’s Washington City Paper in the District Line, City Desk portion is an article called “Walking Gall”, which gives some suggestions as to how to walk especially at night.  It also mentions that “drivers of vehicles have struck at least 180 pedestrians in DC this year”, but gives no indication how many of the “vehicles” were bicycles.  Sadly, again I could not find a link to the web version of the paper for this article.  But I did find that map has been updated and here’s the link to that:

The interview is with a bicyclist hit by a car.  But, by moving your pointer over each circle (peds are the greater number and in orange) you can tell where the accident took place and when.

I did write this editor to ask how many of the “vehicles” hitting pedestrians were bicyclists.


I can’t say it’s truly good news until I see some action, but two weeks ago, I used Mayor Bowser’s request for citizens to give her knowledge of problems in her #Iwishyouknew campaign.  I wrote a letter in which I included the original Dupont businesspersons’ letter and copies of two of my blog posts (the two with pictures because they show briefly citizen action on this issue and at least one example, in the text, of non-enforcement in the CBD).  I pointed out that DC Walk-Friendly award was based on incomplete info because the group giving the award did not realize that, unlike in most cities, bikes were allowed to ride on the sidewalks here.  Then, since I wanted to start small, I asked that she at least make sure there was good signage in the CBD to indicate that biking on the sidewalk was not allowed there and secondly that she ask DDOT to consider, as the Logan Circle ANC2F asked, whether the prohibited zone should be extended into neighborhood that now have plenty of businesses and pedestrians.  Unlike her predecessor and my own council rep, she has already answered!  So her staff will consider this issue and she hopes I will see “a positive change” in the “near future.” I did not expect more at this point.  But I will be watching and I hope you will too and let me know.

I think it would also help as many of us as possible take advantage of the “Iwishyouknew” campaign to let the Mayor know about this issue.  Clearly, she at least has a system to record the info and get staff assigned, which is more than I could say for our prior administration.

Well this has been a little long for a holiday week so I’ll keep other thoughts for later posts and just say STAY ALERT! DON’T GET HURT!  and Happy Fourth!


Sidewalk Biking Scofflaw Whines and Slurs others

26 Jun

Good Morning! I had planned to use my next post to give the many good DC bicyclists and their advocates info on protected bike lanes to help in their campaign for more here. But that will have to wait because, once again the rogue sidewalk biker apologists have struck. Their new advocate, Will Sommer in the Washington City Paper. If you didn’t read his rant, here’s the link:

I’m happy I didn’t find a City Paper before I left Thursday afternoon to attend a family wedding in Toledo, or I might have had a less peaceful trip there thinking of responses especially since my last sight of DC as I started my journey on Metrobus was of a sidewalk biker speeding down the 16th street sidewalk toward Corcoran and coming within an inch of hitting a baby in a stroller being pushed by its mom who was just coming out of Corcoran to the pedestrian crosswalk across 16th at that point. Luckily the mother did what I tell all my pedestrian friends to do: she looked both ways on the sidewalk before entering the curb cut and, when she saw him barreling toward her, she quickly pulled the stroller and herself back, bumping into other family members who were following close behind. Another pedestrian forced to yield, although the law says the bikers must yield. And, of course, it being 2:00 pm there was little traffic on the street.

With that incident still in mind, softened by my wonderful trip, seeing family, and where I didn’t have to worry about rogue bikers on sidewalks, when I got a City Paper Tuesday after work and read Sommer’s lead article, I was more shocked than usual but tried to draft a response that had some chance of being read and excerpted. I couldn’t cover all the misstatements and incendiary slurs on good people (I might do that in a future post), but here’s my reply:

I didn’t read this misanthropic anti-pedestrian rant until last night when I returned from a trip to attend a wedding in the Real World. In the Real World, which is most every place outside of DC borders, they know the meaning of “sideWALK’. In the US, from NYC to San Francisco, and most everywhere in between, adult bicyclists are NEVER ALLOWED to ride on sidewalks except in rare well marked instances of real danger for cycling on the street.

But here in Wonderland DC, everything is backwards and upside down. And so, only the politicians and lobbyists in the Central Business District, an over 30 year old designation, are legally protected by a prohibition on sidewalk bicycling. And, according to Sommer, good cyclists are “perverse” because they ride on the street like other traffic. Pedestrians who want to walk safely to work, the bus stop or neighborhood grocery are “ugly classis(ts)”. If Sommer wants to slur people like Goebbels did, then he should look at himself. The entitlement mentality of the rogues who ride the sidewalks regardless of the danger to pedestrians and often the presence of a bike lane and/or the absence of auto traffic are the real ugly classists. They are a minority of the cyclist community here but they stain the overall bike community.

Who hates whom here? I’ve been hit from behind without warning by a rogue biker when I moved slightly to the left on the sidewalk in front of my own apartment building on a Saturday morning. My shoulder is still not the same 2 years later. Of course he hit and ran. My neighbors, black,brown and white, young and old, can tell similar stories. We don’t hate. We’re scared. And to the people in Ward 8, bike lanes do not make things better. I live in Dupont Circle. We have bike lanes galore, but it seems to goad the rogues. They jump on the sidewalk if the bike lane’s going the wrong way or if a little side street has no bike lane even if there is zero auto traffic. It’s all about them, after all!

Still I support the good bicycle community and wish for more bike lanes and some sidewalks where there is real danger in the street to be specifically designated as allowing bicyclists, perhaps even the East Capitol Street Bridge. But for the rest of the sidewalks, let’s get out of Wonderland and join the Real World. IF YOU WANT TO USE THE SIDEWALK, WALK YOUR BIKE!

Well, that’s all for now. Have a great weekend. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival has just started and the feature country is Peru, one of my favorite countries, and where, by the way, countless Peruvians in cities ride rickety bikes in the streets. So Enjoy!

But remember STAY ALERT! DON”T GET HURT! With rogues like Sommer and Urban Scrawler Schneider (see 2014 post “I bike therefore I am”), you’ll need to be extra vigilant.