Tag Archives: no sidewalk bicycling

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.)


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.

News from Overseas

28 Apr


Well, once again I have no idea if you are going to see this picture, but I’m hoping for the best. I haven’t been posting regularly because there’s been nothing new to write about. I could have told you about my adventure in the CBD on the day of the Lincoln assassination memorial. I took a late lunch so I could go downtown to see what they were doing around Ford’s Theatre. And I did get a chance to talk to a couple of reenactors as well as pick up some neat lit about the assassination to read and then give to a friend who is really into Civil War history. But the adventurous part came later as I walked a whole block to the Bus Stop on 11th and E. in the one block I saw a couple of sidewalk bikers endangering a lot of the pedestrians crowded on to sidewalk. A number of parents had brought their toddlers and I was most afraid for them. Once I got to the safety of the bus stop, I was safely enclosed waiting for the bus. But in the five minutes it took for the bus to come, I noted 5 sidewalk bikers riding on my side and across the street, coming from every direction. And not a single police person enforcing the law there.

Of course, as John Kelly mentioned in his column last summer when he pleaded for bikers to stop riding on the sidewalks in the CBD, and Dr. Gridlock mentions regularly, there are no signs indicating that bicycles are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk. If this picture comes out into this post, you will see what the Japanese do in Tokyo to let people know what the law is. Pretty impressive. And I am sure the English text is there for DC bikers visiting Japan.

Until next time. STAY ALERT! DON’T GET HURT!

DC Laws: Comparing with Other Cities(Columbus, OH)

14 Jun

In this post I’m going to start discussing other cities’ bike laws in more detail. I’ve chosen Columbus, OH first because I’ve lived there in the past. And, since I still make frequent trips there, I’ve kept up with their progress on all fronts. Secondly, and most importantly, Columbus is in many ways a lot like DC. And it has always had a big bicycling community.

For those who don’t know anything about Columbus, it is the the capital of Ohio. It has also been for years by far the largest city in Ohio. Its population, however,at 787,000, is not that much larger than DC’s. And like DC it has a smaller “downtown” per se but has many neighborhoods, each with its own business district, spread out over a large area. As a state capital it is also a government town, with all state agencies offices, as well as the governor, courts, etc. in the city, most downtown. Like DC it also has many lawyers and lobbyists and their offices. In addition, since the 1980’s Columbus has become a center for major banking and insurance companies. Besides the main campus of Ohio State and its 50,000 students, the city has other universities, Capital, Franklin, Ohio Dominican and several smaller professional schools. It’s also a major center for research and technology. Columbus even has a “beltway” although it’s not called that.

Unlike DC, Columbus does not have as good a mass transportation system, buses only. As a result there are still many people who drive their autos to work. And as to bad drivers, just as in DC, because a lot of the drivers come from elsewhere, there are plenty of those as well. And, as I found in my last trip there last month, there is plenty of construction.

Nonetheless bicyclists abound, including those who use their bikes to commute. And for the truly hardy, there is an annual 200 mile ride from Columbus through Southern Ohio to Portmouth on the Ohio River. Columbus has one bike trail along the Olentangy River, which goes from downtown north for a few miles. But unlike DC, it is interrupted periodically by city streets. And it best serves only bicyclists living close. So most bicyclists must ride on the streets if they are going to work as opposed to just out for fun. The city has mapped out “bike routes” throughout the city, which are marked on the street and by signs. But this only indicates routes that are easiest for bicyclists to use. They must share the street with cars. Still, they do because, as in most cities, Columbus does not allow bicyclists, other than young children, to ride on the sidewalks.

Check out the Columbus Code in layman’s language here: http://publicservice.columbus.gov.bike/

Note especially the opening highlighted statement: REMEMBER: Under Ohio law and City of Columbus Code, bicycles belong on the road, so motorists and bicyclists must share the road safely.Bicyclists, like motorists must obey all relevant traffic laws.

The rules listing continues, for bicyclists and for motorists:

For Bicyclists Rule no. 1 is “Obey all traffic laws, including stopping for red lights and stop signs”. No. 2 is “Ride with traffic, do not pass automobiles in your lane on the right.” No.3 is “Keep your eyes and mind on the road, do not be a distracted bicyclist”. And No. 5 is “Do not ride on sidewalks (Under City of Columbus Code, only young children are permitted to ride on sidewalks.)”

The other rules are equally simply stated and sensible. And in my most recent trip in mid-May I found male and female bicyclists riding in the streets with traffic and moving around construction easily and properly. I was pleased to see that. But it made me question even more the so-called “fears” some DC bicyclists claim when riding on our streets because I’ll tell you that the streets in Columbus, as well as the amount of auto traffic and construction, is much more challenging. And there are no bike lanes. Yet Columbus bicyclists, women and men, make it look easy. Since I rode my bike there often, in the downtown area as well as north of OSU on the main streets, since the bike trail was out of the way, I can tell you, when you follow traffic rules and stay alert: “It ain’t that hard.”

One wonders also whether DC is intent on becoming known for its bike wimps as well as its weather wimps. Not a title I want for DC, do you?