Tag Archives: bike lanes

Bravo Boston Bicyclists!

21 Jun

Well, I made that trip to Boston I told you about in March (see “Anniversary Waltz” post).  You may remember that Boston relies on Massachusetts law on bicycling issues because of the number of smaller cities that intersect with it.  But you may also remember that, in a Boston Reddit conversation over the question of what is a business district in Boston where sidewalk bicycling is prohibited, most commenters reached the same conclusion–treat the entire city as a business district and stay off the sidewalk!

Once I got to Boston I found that Boston bicyclists do what they say.  I was especially impressed when our group was transported into downtown Boston on Saturday night to the Atlantic Fish Company restaurant.  We were in a minibus so I had plenty of time to observe.  And I saw many cyclists in the streets riding along with the auto traffic, stopping at red lights, signalling, knowing they were part of the traffic flow. Some streets we went through had bike lanes; some didn’t.  All persons riding bikes were riding them in the street, like adults who knew what they were doing.

The only bicycle I saw on the sidewalk with a person attached was one woman who came from  the street, dismounted as soon as she got on the sidewalk and walked her bike the rest of the way to a bike stand.  The only people I saw who were careless and clueless were a couple of pedestrians who had hailed a cab and when it stopped a half a block ahead of them, stepped into the bike lane and walked the rest of the way in that lane to the cab.  But that also gave me a chance to see how a Boston bicyclist coming up in that lane handled the situation–He saw them, gave a left hand signal, to cars behind in the next lane over and then moved safely into that lane and around the offending pedestrians.  All accomplished without any yelling, honking by any party.  A wonderful display of city biking and auto awareness as well.

Boston on a Saturday night at least is crowded with traffic on the streets and pedestrians on the sidewalk, not unlike our downtown Central Business District and even my Dupont Circle neighborhood.  But everyone gets along by obeying the rules and watching out for each other.

A final note:  I found out this weekend that one of the neighbors on my floor had worked in Boston for a while (she was wearing a Boston Lumber t-shirt).  So we talked Boston biking for a while.  She said she used to bike in Boston and, of course, biked on the streets, just as I did in NYC.  And then she said that when she first came here she was amazed at how wide the streets in DC were and the huge number of bike lanes, making it much easier to bike in the streets without incident.  SO DC Bicyclists, what’s your excuse for not riding in the streets instead of terrorizing pedestrians on the sidewalks! (Note:  My apologies again to those  DC cyclists who do the right thing.  But unfortunately your good name is being sullied by an increasing number of rogues who don’t.  And your bike association, like the NRA, won’t give an inch to make things better.)

Back to Normal, Sadly

2 Oct

Last week was, as you know, the week Pope Francis visited DC. At mid-week also occurred Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when persons of Jewish faith contemplate their sins of the past year, ask God’s forgiveness, and vow to do better in the coming year.  Between these two major religious events, it seemed to me that virtually everyone in town was on their best behavior.  On the days I went to work, which luckily is in my own neighborhood(so no traffic issues for me), I noticed fewer cyclists and even those were stopping at red lights and generally not riding on the sidewalk.  It was truly a blessed week.

But, of course, nothing that good can last for long.  Tuesday morning, my first day at work this week, I met up with an aggressive sidewalk biker just before the corner of 17th and Q.  Perhaps lulled by last week’s peaceful days, while I remembered to look both ways and behind me when I stopped at the kiosks to get the Express and the Examiner, I started to step back into the main sidewalk toward the corner without thinking and then I saw him.  A scruffy looking biker racing up the handicapped cut at the corner, through people waiting and then right past me on the slim sidewalk outside the outdoor part of the coffee shop there.

I did not shout, but when I’m suddenly surprised like that, I do say something, almost involuntarily.  And I said “stupid jackass sidewalk biker”.  But I only said it in a normal, non-shouting voice. Ah, But this guy heard it.  And what’s more, my guess is that he’s been called out before, because, as I proceeded to the corner, he yelled after me, “Ma-am, Ma-am” until I turned around.  Then he said,”  I don’t like being called a jackass.  It’s legal for me to ride on the sidewalk outside the Central Business District.”  I said “There’s a bike lane going your direction on Q, why not use that?.”  His answer really got me–“Did I impede you in any way?”  “Impede”  Who uses that in this kind of confrontation except a lawyer?  Anyway I decided it was worthless and had to get to work, so I didn’t answer and started to proceed to the corner to cross.  He called after me–“Answer the question!”  Ah, yes, a lawyer, for sure.  But a bad one.  There are lots of good lawyers in town and they don’t go out of their way to pick fights.  But now this bozo had an audience of the people sitting in the outside portion of the coffee house, some of whom might be my neighbors,so I figured I had to say something.  I answered by saying “If I had taken one more step forward you were riding too fast to have avoided hitting me.”  He yelled something back that I didn’t understand but I was sure it wasn’t nice.  So I did finally yell, “Listen, I’ve been hit by one of you jackals before, you don’t belong on the sidewalk.  Be man enough to ride in the street.”  The light changed and I started across, my peace of mind ruined, when I heard him yelling some more unintelligible garbage and finally, the last refuge of the scoundrel, a really surly “Have a nice day.”  You ever notice how many people say that in anger?

Well this post has gone on a little longer than I’d intended.  And I do have some links to give you.  But let’s leave that for next time, which I promise will be next week, come hell or high water(the latter a distinct possibility this weekend).  Meanwhile, especially since the weather will be wet this weekend, watch out when you’re stepping around puddles.  There may be a sidewalk biker racing behind you with his umbrella in one hand (honest, I saw, not one but two of these yo-yo’s yesterday.  So, STAY ALERT! DON’T GET HURT!

Notes from the Underground

15 Sep

I apologize to my readers for not posting regularly this summer.  I have been out of town at family events and business trips every couple of weeks this summer and, of course,  have to catch up on work when I return. And frankly, after the summer started off with a bang—Will Sommer’s ode to his reckless sidewalk biking (See earlier post Sidewalk Biking Scofflaw Whines and slurs others), there hasn’t been much to report on. Of course, there are still plenty of sidewalk bikers endangering innocent pedestrians and other bikers running red lights.  Sadly, there have also been many pedestrians, including some with small children, endangering their lives by crossing against lights or not using the pedestrian crosswalks.

But here’s an end of summer status report:

  • My new ANC commissioner has done nothing with the info I gave him in March and, like other bureaucrats in this town, has learned too early that, if you simply don’t reply to e-mails or letters from citizens who have concerns that are also yours, there’s little they can do.  As I’ve said before, “Bureaucracy is the enemy of democracy”  Ingo Schultze.
  • But your blogger doesn’t give up easily.  As I wrote earlier, Mayor Bowser did respond earlier in the summer to my request to at least consider putting signs in the CBD warning that sidewalk biking is not allowed there and to look at extending the prohibited zone to other now busy neighborhoods with substantial foot traffic.  She said she had informed the appropriate people and they would be dealing with it.  So, just last week, I followed up with another true public servant I know at DDOT.  He responded promply, no bureucrat he, but not encouragingly saying that signs in the CBD had been discussed “many times” but he knew of no immediate plans to install any.  He said, however, that someone else might  be working on this initiative.  Next stop for me:  A letter to the new DDOT Director.
  • There is also a new WABA Director, Greg Billing.  I don’t know him but will try to make his acquaintance.  He seems to have an interest in more protected bike lanes.  Interestingly, when the Will Sommer flap came up in June, I was about to write on that topic, having brought back from the Real World info from Detroit papers on what they are doing.
  • Speaking of bike lanes, DC seems to be falling behind in constructing new ones.  The goal was to add 7.5 miles by the end of this year, according to the Express, but only 2.27 miles have been constructed.  Of course DC currently has  over 69 miles of bike lanes.  That in a city that has only 61.4 miles of land surface.  And the rogue bikes still ride on sidewalks even on streets with bike lanes.  Go figure!
  • The City Paper’s current issue seemed promising with cover art entitled “The Walking Dread”.  But sadly the story inside merely details DDOT’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic fatalities by 2024.  And the Struck in DC update has only comments from cyclists, although the dots show plenty of pedestrians hit.  Are we not worth the interview or don’t we whine enough.  Still, worth the read.  Since this appears only in Print, I would go to http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com and click on “Print Version”.  The pages you want are page 9 for Struck in DC and page 15 and following for the Vision Zero article.

Finally, a small ray of hope.  I met up with my neighbor, who is now the head of our neighborhood citizens association. She appears to be ready to step into the fray in a small way and is thinking of suggesting a “task force”.  We’ll see how that goes. But I told her I’m in if she gets it started.

More soon.  But don’t forget(as if you could with the constant news coverage)  Pope Francis is here next week.  Great events for a great many.  But traffic snarls throughout the city.  So STAY ALERT.  DON’T GET HURT.

Summertime Blues

26 May

Well, now that the Memorial Day holiday is over, the unofficial start of summer is here.  If you’re going anywhere out of town for the summer, you have no worries, except the expense.  But if you’re staying here, it’s already shaping up to be another summer of dodging those rogue bikers on the sidewalk!

First, Bike-to-Work Day started out pleasantly enough for me.  From my door and during my walk to to work over the first couple of blocks, not a single sidewalk biker.  And, as I crossed 17th and Q, every cyclist was stopped at the red light behind the pedestrian crosswalk, just like the rest of the traffic.  But it couldn’t last forever–As I turned from 17th on to little side street Corcoran, I had to flatten myself against Cairo Liquor’s side wall to avoid being hit by a rogue biker speeding on the narrow sidewalk.  In case I haven’t made it clear before, Corcoran is a one-way street between Q and R that virtually no through auto traffic uses.  And, on this morning, as usual, there was zero auto traffic on the much broader street.  So what was this guy’s excuse?  Only his entitlement mentality.  He’d probably been riding the sidewalk on New Hampshire where there are bike lanes going both ways but some auto traffic and didn’t want to switch off the sidewalk to the unused street.  He’d rather rattle the pedestrians.

As you know, one of my biggest concerns is the number of these rogue bikers on the sidewalks on the weekends, when they have even less auto traffic to deal with.  Every day this weekend I had to wait for a sidewalk biker to speed by before stepping from my apartment sidewalk to the main sidewalk.  It kind of ruins your day when that’s the first thing you have to contend with.  But I got even more upset on Sunday evening when, after a concert and  and really enjoyable dinner with friends and the concert’s soloist, we were saying our goodbye’s outside the restaurant on P Street.  There were many other people out enjoying the evening strolling along and others, like us, gathered in groups, like sociable people tend to do.  Right after I excused myself from the group and started toward Dupont Circle, I encountered a speeding sidewalk biker, weaving in an out of the crowds.  I turned back toward my group and yelled “Watch out for the sidewalk biker” I was probably a bit too far for them to hear among the general din.  But I thought to myself as I saw the biker brush one person close enough that he was knocked off balance, what if he hits the talented pianist?  A person’s career can be ruined by just one seemingly small injury to the hand.

Well, that’s all for now.  STAY ALERT.  DON’T GET HURT!  And enjoy the summer.

Updates to help you celebrate Independence Day

3 Jul

On this eve of July 4, which we should never forget is really the celebration of our country’s declaration of independence and the beginning of a marvelous experiment in building a democratic republic the likes of which the world had never seen, I have only a few updates to offer. But they are encouraging ones in this country where every citizen has a right to be heard and listened to by their elected representatives.
FOIA Update
First, on my FOIA request about enforcement in the CBD, the one place here where bicycling on the sidewalk is illegal: Having failed through normal channels, I finally wrote Chief Lanier and, within two weeks, received an response from the a sergeant in the Traffic Safety Enforcement Branch of the MPD (TSSEB). Not a complete answer, but nonetheless a response. He says the following: TSSSEB has been “conducting quarterly street smart campaigns for pedestrian/bicycle enforcement and education. Officers do target enforcement in the downtown area writing notices of infractions and handing out educational flyers as well as law cards. TSSEB deploy(sic) units to ensure safety and to enforce laws. TSSEB initiated an educational enforcement campaign to support bicycle/pedestrian infrastructures. The campaign was an attempt to decrease the bicycle accidents that are caused by both the bicycles and the vehicles. TSSEB periodically places overtime enforcement initiatives in the areas that have had a specific problem that can be addressed with focused and targeted enforcement. MPD continues to take steps that officers are appropriately investigating bicycle related incidents and following our guidelines as it relates to bicycle enforcement.

He goes on to say they realize the increase in population and are evaluating the issues arising on a daily basis. But sadly he gave no figures or more specifics. I responded with two simple questions: 1. could I use his name and 2. How does he judge the success of the street smart campaigns, i.e. did he have statistics on numbers of notices of infractions or did they have another means of judging? Although I wrote him a day after he emailed me, I have two months later no response. But since he said they were conducting these campaigns quarterly, I will check with him again now that this quarter is ended. At least I have a contact. One step forward.

Thoughts on the responses to the Logan signs

At the end of the post “Pedestrians: Let Your Voices be Heard” I gave you links to the popville site and to a pingback to my blog. My own thoughts:

1. The Prince of Petworth incited a really lively discussion on the popville site by just posting pics of the signs and a sidewalk bicyclist ignoring one of them. All sides were pretty well represented, with some as usual more intelligently expressed than others. Now that I’ve had time to go through all the comments (waiting in airports will do that!) I noticed that 5 pedestrians reported being hit with injuries, luckily none too serious, and 2 close calls. Others also reported the bicyclists yelling at them to get out of the way. (That’s yielding to pedestrians, as the law, even here, requires?) One of the last comments was one of two that mentioned moving here from elsewhere and, because, with one exception, it parallels my experience, I thought I’d repeat it here:

Anonymous: When I first moved to DC, I was shocked when walking and cyclists would come up fast behind me on the sidewalk (ringing or calling out, or not) because of the five cities I’ve lived in, this is the first one I’ve lived in where it is actually legal to bike on the sidewalk. I was surprised when I first read that. I used to yell at the cyclists to ride in the street before that. A perfectly logical assumption, given the laws and/or customs in other cities in this country (including the largest city, and formerly second largest city, where people never ride on the sidewalk). I don’t think it is safe to have bicyclists on the sidewalk.

That said, I rode my bike in those other cities , and I don’t here–I ride only outside the city. I find this city really scary to bike in. And that’s saying a lot, given that I’ve ridden in the largest city, and formerly second largest city, and the smaller city known far and wide to have the worst motorists anywhere in this country (where making a turn from 3 or 5 lanes over to the other side of the road is common). Riding in the street in DC should be made safer for cyclists.

The only part where my experience is different is that I can and have biked in DC, but I’ve always chosen my times and routes judiciously and that has helped. Some other commenters mentioned doing that too and it seems the best way to handle any situation (I do the same when driving or walking). That said, I do think that riding in the street in DC should be made safer for cyclists, but pedestrians shouldn’t have to wait until that is accomplished completely to the satisfaction of cyclists and their WABA lobby before the laws are changed to keep pedestrians safe on the sidewalks.

2. Well, since I see this post is already longer than I intended, I won’t address the pingback from the crotchety biker until next time.

And I’ll close with another step forward for pedestrians. We are one step closer to getting signs for Dupont. Thanks, Nick.

And to all Happy Independence Day and remember: STAY ALERT; DON’T GET HURT.

Bravo to the Gentleman Bicyclist of 17th St.

27 Sep

Hello all. I did not post last week because, with the Washington Navy Yard tragedy at the beginning of the week, I thought that whatever I had to say could wait a week while we all sorted out in our minds how this awful thing happened. And for those of us who had friends and relatives at the Navy Yard or possibly at the Navy Yard, it was an anxious couple of days until we learned of their safety.

But I had learned of new sidewalk bicycling incidents in my neighborhood as early as Sunday of that week that I wanted to report. It seems that a lot of people who actually know me report these incidents directly to me and hope that I will use them but, despite my suggestion, do not take the time to put them on the site themselves because their work and family responsibilities take up all their time. I can understand that. Still to keep this at least some record of particularly outrageous incidents I will report what I was told because I’ve seen similar incidents and I know these people and what they are talking about.

BUT BEFORE I GET TO THOSE INCIDENTS–I WANT TO GIVE A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT AND THANK YOU TO A MAN I AM CALLING “The gentleman Bicyclist of 17th Street.” I saw him on my way to work this morning and wanted to run right in here and write about it. But I had to wait for a break. Here was the situation. I walked out of my building this morning with a young couple who had their first child in a baby carriage with them. We turned on to Q from 16th to 17th and there parted company. They went south across Q with the ped light and then waited to cross 17th as I did on the north side. The light changed in our favor and we started crossing, me a little slower because with this knee problem I still have to carry a cane on some days. But that is a long light so I still had 20 seconds. I do as I advise you to do–look both ways even though 17th is one way going south at that point. I saw everyone stopped even the single bicyclist, who I noted was wearing a helmet and safety jacket. But I also kept my eyes out for others as I crossed and, sure enough, I saw a bicyclist coming up behind the stopped bicyclist at a speed that made me think he wasn’t going to stop. I put up my cane as I went the last few steps to the sidewalk because I saw him coming around the other guy who was stopped and heading right toward me. My cane barrier made him wobble a bit and I wasn’t hit. But there was no way he was going to stop UNTIL–

THE OTHER BICYCLIST TOLD HIM TO STOP. “Just put your foot down and stop.” The guy did so, but must’ve asked why in a surly way, because the other bicyclist said to him clearly and firmly “Because that’s a red light. You’re a vehicle. You HAVE TO STOP.”

Already on the sidewalk, I turned around and said “Thank you, sir.” I don’t know if he heard me but I do thank him and all bicyclists who make sure that the others who are giving them a bad name do the right thing, or at least realize they are doing the wrong thing. And I hope the bicyclist who was riding right through the crosswalk and the light took the other’s comments to heart. Because besides helping us pedestrians safely cross the street, The Gentleman Bicyclist of 17th Street could have saved the other guy’s life. SO BRAVO AGAIN TO THE GENTLEMAN BICYCLIST OF 17th ST.

NOW ON TO THE TWO SIDEWALK BICYCLING INCIDENTS AND A Third that happened while one of the other two was being discussed:

For bicyclists these incidents are particularly important because they point out dangers to you as well

1. Sunday Morning, 7:45 a.m., Corcoran St., NW, between 17th and 16th: A friend who works at the DCJCC was leaving McDonald’s on her way to work by the side door, which is on Corcoran. As she opened the door, a sidewalk bicyclist came careening around the corner. She said if she’d opened the door any faster he would’ve run right into it. As it was, he had to quickly move around it, which put him at risk of going over the curb on that slim sidewalk.

The amazing thing about this incident or any incident on Corcoran, on that block or the block between 17th and New Hampshire is that there is virtually NO STREET TRAFFIC. Corcoran is a small side street, with narrow sidewalks and stairs, trees and other obstructions, between Q and R, and it goes one way. So autos are unlikely to take if unless they are actually stopping there or trying to find a parking place. And on Sunday Morning, there is NO street traffic. I walk to the Safeway along Corcoran every Sunday morning around 8 a.m. to get my Sunday papers and breakfast things and only rarely see a moving auto. And, since I am a pedestrian, when I see the McDonalds side door opening I have plenty of time to stop. GIVEN ALL OF THIS, WHY WOULD ANYONE RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK THERE? HE’S ENDANGERING HIMSELF!

2. Saturday Night, Vapiano, 18th and M: A friend had dinner there and as he walked out, he was almost cut down by a sidewalk bicyclist. Being young and athletic, he was able to jump out of the way just in time. But this incident points out two things: first, since this location is within the area where sidewalk bicycling is prohibited, this biker was breaking the law. But, second, bicyclists everywhere, but especially on the sidewalk, have to be constantly alert for unplanned events, like a person innocently walking out of a restaurant.

Also of interest is that, while I was listening to this latter story, at, you guessed it, the corner of Corcoran and 16th at midday on Sunday, a sidewalk bicyclist came speeding down 16th from just north of Corcoran, down the handicap ramp, up the other, with eyes looking straight ahead. My friend said–look at that. 20 miles per hour. I said, and if either of us had moved even slightly on to the 16th Street sidewalk as we finished talking, we would’ve been hit straight on.”

Well, that’s all for now. And I’ll be on travel all next week, so no posts. But feel free to comment. I can approve from my smartphone. Until I write next. FOR BOTH BICYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS: STAY ALERT. STAY SAFE. AND STAY ALIVE.

Special alert for Bicyclists and Pedestrians

6 Sep

Hello again. I hadn’t planned on posting this week but I just received an important message that you all should be aware of. DDOT will be resurfacing the 15th St. Cycletrack starting today. According to their press release there will be Temporary Parking Lane Restrictions on 15th St. NW Starting September 6, 2013 They hope to be done by October 11, weather permitting.

The release also advises bicyclists to use alternate routes, and it specifies 14th St. and 16th Street NW. Realistically, this likely means a whole lot more sidewalk bicycling on 14th and 16th NW. My plea to bicyclists: If you choose to use the sidewalks, try walking your bike. It’s better exercise for you and safer too. And if you choose to ride anyway, please tell pedestrians you’re there when you’re coming from behind. A friendly “BIKE COMING ON LEFT” will be greatly appreciated.

And , for pedestrians, especially those of you using 14th and 16th: Realize that there may be many more sidewalk bicyclists during this month. stay to the right; look all ways including behind you, every time you move out of the straight line or when you turn the corner.

and, to all:

Everyone act like the other persons sharing the sidewalks are your neighbors, not some foreign obstruction to your path or to your enjoyment of the trip.

STAY ALERT. STAY SAFE. STAY ALIVE. I want you all back reading this blog next week!