Between end of year reports at my job, medical appointments I foolishly scheduled all in January when things should have been slow, and my Resident Snow Team service, things got a little out of hand.
But, as promised, I did write my followup letter to DDOT to see how they were responding to my request to Mayor Bowser for proper signage and enforcement of the law prohibiting sidewalk bicycling in the CBD and for a DDOT study to see if the prohibition should be extended to neighborhoods with significant pedestrian traffic. I addressed my letter to Sam Zimbabwe, the DDOT associate director who seemed most appropriate to deal with this request. No response yet but I was encouraged that, when he was interviewed this weekend at a hearing on protected bike lanes, he mentioned as one of the reasons for the DDOT plan for such lanes in the Shaw neighborhood, getting bicyclists off the sidewalks there. SO–at least he is thinking sidewalk bicycling is a problem. [BUT the best solution is just to prohibit sidewalk biking, with rare designated exceptions, like other cities do rather than linking it to the need for protected bike lanes. There is a need for both]
That little step forward was offset by other events:
1. Post snow return of rogue bikers. After a blissful week during the snow storm when I and my little coal shovel cleared curb cuts and fire hydrants and helped neighbors clear parts of the sidewalk not cleared and walked to work without worry, seeing only a few hardy bicyclists in the street once it was fully cleared, on Sunday, January 30, I started out for my Sunday papers and provisions and was almost run down by a sidewalk biker racing from behind without warning. Nine a.m. Sunday morning with virtually no street traffic. That afternoon, coming back from a matinee at the Keegan Theatre, I noticed something on the clean sidewalk in front of my building that might have been a bottle that someone might trip over. I was just about to move left to pick it up when another rogue sidewalk biker almost got me from behind and then almost got the couple walking in front of me. The fact there were many more pedestrians on the sidewalks than cars on the street meant nothing to this biker with an entitlement mentality. After all if he rode in the street he might have to ride in the correct lane or stop for a red light!
2. No sidewalk biking task force in Dupont yet. Then I learned from my friend in the Dupont Citizens Association that the promised task force had been changed to a commitment to developing an overall transportation plan for the area. So, knowing how even citizen bureaucracies work, I don’t expect anything productive on sidewalk biking for years, if then. But I did ask to be kept informed so if I can make a difference, I will.
3. 16th Street bus lane. Finally, it appears that our ANC is set to support DDOT’s 16th Street transit corridor plans. Our Citizens Association appears to have some reservations on historic preservation and pedestrian safety. And, the day before the big snow, I attended a public hearing on the issue and saw some real problems. For one thing DDOT plans to eliminate some critical bus stops, including one in front of the DCJCC in my neighborhood. But also plenty of people were there protesting an elimination in front of a school and one in front of a nursing home. The DDOT rep explaining their rationale explained that the people will only have to walk an extra block. Try that with a toddler in tow or if you are disabled or at night in the rain. And the longer queues at the remaining stops will make things more difficult for all. All to save six minutes in time. Why not just get to the stop a few minutes earlier?
For more info, here’s the cite to the plan:
and here’s the cite to a very good Washington Post article on the hearing:
and if you want to sign a petition against the elimination of stops:
Sorry this was so long. But at least you know what I know. And, as always, STAY ALERT! DON’T GET HURT!