Greater Greater Washington

Lunch links: Not enough money


Photo by Mr. T in DC on Flickr.
No money to save trees: Invasive vines are killing trees along the GW Parkway, but NPS has far too little money to cut the vines. (Post)

DDOE inspectors solicit bribes: 2 inspectors from the DC Department of the Environment allegedly asked for bribes in exchange for overlooking hazardous waste disposal problems. (Examiner)

Got $20 million lying around?: A federal law requiring union wages for public works only in DC or on federal property might also apply to CityCenterDC, a private project on publicly-owned land. If upheld, this would cost DC $20 million and likely make all economic development projects in DC far more expensive. (Post)

College Park needs CaBi: Would a CaBi "satellite system" not really connected to the main DC/Arlington one work in College Park? Mark Noll now believes it would after attending a forum last week. There's still no money for one, though. (RTCP)

Real estate too pricey for third places?: Why aren't there more "third places" like coffee shops, and why are many that exist closing (like the Georgetown B&N? Maybe the rent is too high. (Extraordinary Observations)

Is a painted "stop" a sign?: A driver turned into the path of a cyclist at Lynn Street and the Custis Trail in Rosslyn. There's a painted "stop" but no stop sign on the trail, and an officer cited the cyclist for "failing to obey a highway sign." (ARLnow) ... WashCycle says the officer is completely wrong.

Bus driver throws rider to ground: A video shows a bus driver roughly shoving a passenger off the bus and to the ground. What was going on? Was there background not shown on the video? Or is this just a really, really inappropriate behavior? (TBD)

And...: The Metro map forms typographical art. (DCist) ... Two people on bikes shoot at a car with guns. (Post) ... DCPS is making changes to Impact. (Examiner)

Have a tip for the links or the US Attorney? Submit it here.
David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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There's a painted "stop" but no stop sign on the trail, and an officer cited the cyclist for "failing to obey a highway sign."

How about the massive white striped sign on the road that the car driver missed?


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Since when do cars not have to yield to people in cross-walks anymore? Especially since Rosslyn is plastered with signs telling drivers to f-ing yield to people in the cross-walk.

by Jasper on Sep 6, 2011 1:23 pm • linkreport

@ Jasper:

First of all, the ticket was a warning. What it does is get the driver off the hook if the bicyclist tries to sue him.

Second, cars have to "yield to people in cross-walks," but if you're on a bicycle, Virginia law views you as a *vehicle*, and not "people." So in the eyes of the Motor Vehicle Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the vehicle driver on the bicycle must stop and does not have the right of way.

And one good reason for that is that people can't walk or run at 20 mph, but a bicycle can travel that fast. And since the bike rider blew through the stop sign and got hit, some of the legal fault clearly is his.

The really scary issue here for all of us is that a good driver is constantly scanning his/her field of vision, especially at crosswalks and intersections. And everything is calibrated to the normal speed of cars and the normal speed of pedestrians. That doesn't always take unseen bicyclists into account.

If I'm looking to my right and see nothing, and then scan to my left, I'm not expecting a bicyclist to come flying into the roadway from the right - from out of my field of vision. If he's cycling fast enough, he'll be right in front of my grill before I see him.

The fact that is a stop sign painted on the trial clearly indicates there's danger to bike riders. And the fact that the cop followed the poor fellow to the hospital and wrote him a ticket would indicate to some people that the cop hates bike riders. It would indicate to others that the cop has had to clean up after more than a few awful accidents, and the cop felt the bike rider was at fault for this one.

We may have different views on who was at fault or how this was handled, but the one thing we should all understand is that bicyclists crossing at pedestrian crosswalks are extremely vulnerable. Drivers expecting pedestrians at 3mph aren't looking far to their right for bicyclists at 15 or 20mph. There's too much else going on. And it's better for the bicyclists to take extra care, rather than suffer needless injury and argue over who's at fault.

Drivers should try to widen their scans and extend their fields of vision, because there are more and more bicyclists out there. But bicyclists must better understand the dangers of pedestrian crosswalks and act accordingly.

by Mike S. on Sep 6, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

Posters and the commentariat on GGW are always arguing for bicycles and those who ride them to be treated more like cars on the road, be it in the debate over where to ride (travel lanes v sidewalks), how to ride (in the middle of the lane, as a car, or the very side of the lane to ease traffic flow), and in plenty of other ways.
A bike blows into a street without stopping and suddenly the bike is no longer a vehicle but a pedestrian? Whether or not the painted "stop" carries the weight of a posted stop sign is really immaterial. Common sense, perhaps distorted by entitlement,dictates that a biker should slow down or stop at a crossing absent a green light.

by stinkykoala on Sep 6, 2011 2:35 pm • linkreport

Or that drivers should understand that they're crossing through a major trail/commuter thoroughfare for cyclists going to/from DC and that one should bikes at bike speeds.

Besides bikes should be treated as vehicles when in the road and when they're not (such as a sidewalk or a multi-use paths) one should treat them as you would anyone or thing on the sidewalk. To say you hit someone because you were treating that person as a vehicle means that you weren't in control of yours.

by Canaan on Sep 6, 2011 2:45 pm • linkreport

Why just College Park? Having Capital Bikeshare down RT one with stations in MT Rainer and Hyattsville makes sense. Also a bikeshare station at PG Plaza/Metro could also work.

I think if College Park gets them, having a route from DC to College Park make a lot of sense.

by Brookland Avenue on Sep 6, 2011 2:47 pm • linkreport

@Canaan - "To say you hit someone because you were treating that person as a vehicle means that you weren't in control of yours."

Of course the bike hit the car in this case.... Crashed into the car's rear quarter panel. To me, that says the cyclist was going too fast as he approached this intersection.

by Greg on Sep 6, 2011 3:04 pm • linkreport

@canaan
My suggestion is not that drivers shouldn't also drive appropriately and maintain an awareness of their surroundings, because they should, but with all due respect, a bike traveling at 20mph across at grade crossings is a vehicle. As such, it should be playing by the rules of the road which say unless you've got a green light (or some other signage indicated you absolutely have the right of way), you at least slow down and take a look. If a bike truly is on a real sidewalk they should be moving more or less at pedestrian speeds and not at vehicle speeds. I don't much care which it is to be honest, but you don't get it both ways as it suits your convenience.
It might not be the perfect world for a time constrained bike-commuter, but it's better than the hospital or a lawsuit.
At what point does the biker become the reckless party to the driver being the victim?

by stinkykoala on Sep 6, 2011 3:13 pm • linkreport

RE: Custis Trail

The reality is that if you want this to be a multi-use trail rather than a glorified sidewalk it should be separated. Wasn't this website or WashCycle talking about a tunnel under this intersection?

Either that or have a dedicated right-turn arrow for the cars so that bikers/walkers/etc. can proceed without worrying about cars turning right across them. How often do people get hit at this intersection?

by MLD on Sep 6, 2011 3:21 pm • linkreport

The fact that is a stop sign painted on the trial clearly indicates there's danger to bike riders. And the fact that the cop followed the poor fellow to the hospital and wrote him a ticket would indicate to some people that the cop hates bike riders. It would indicate to others that the cop has had to clean up after more than a few awful accidents, and the cop felt the bike rider was at fault for this one.

I completely agree. The fact that the word STOP was painted on the pavement indicates that SOMEONE, at least, thinks that people should be paying attention at that intersection. Whether or not there is an actual sign shouldn't come into it, whatever the position of the law.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Sep 6, 2011 3:28 pm • linkreport

The biker hit the car yes but that doesn't mean necessarily mean that the cyclist is at fault. And in the absence of signage one can rightfully assume they have the right of way. The person who is turning is the one beholden to make sure that they can clear said turn as to not impede the one going straight, the same would . Even if that person is on a trail (which could be envisioned as a type of "road" certainly?). All of this goes back to the basic mantra of "drive(or walk/ride) in such a way that you're doing your best to avoid collision"

by Canaan on Sep 6, 2011 3:28 pm • linkreport

"...plus the replacement cost of the $2,000 carbon fiber bike ..." and "...when a car quickly turned in front of him as he was traveling across the intersection. He slammed on the brakes but still hit the vehicle’s rear driver’s side quarter panel."

So in other words he was flying into an intersection at full speed. Also, thanks to @Jasper's street view, it's pretty obvious there's not a straight shot into the sidewalk from the path unless you jump the curb. I'm guessing at his rate of speed, he was swerving left to cut into the sidewalk and hit the car as it started it's turn, not as it 'suddenly cut him off'

by Mike on Sep 6, 2011 3:31 pm • linkreport

I won't get into this more than to say that if the cyclist had been riding in the road rather than relegated to the path, he would've been much safer. That's why it's best for cyclists to stay off trails when there's any other option.

Whether it's here, on MacArthur Boulevard, or Rock Creek Park, the street is always safer than a multi-use path.

If that poses some minor inconvenience to impatient motorists, they can f--- right off.

by oboe on Sep 6, 2011 3:37 pm • linkreport

@stinkykoala:

Common sense, perhaps distorted by entitlement,dictates that a biker should slow down or stop at a crossing absent a green light.

Actually, if the cyclist had the proper and proportionate sense of entitlement he would have been riding in the right-hand lane of the road. As others have pointed out, he's a vehicle, that's the safest place to be, and furthermore, it's his legal right.

Now, some drivers are so blinded by an out-of-proportion sense of entitlement that they think all roads are solely reserved for their use, and become irrationally angry when anyone on a bike exercises their legal rights to the road, but of course that's a topic for another thread.

by oboe on Sep 6, 2011 3:44 pm • linkreport

@oboe
I think you hit a puddle and caked me with enough snark to last all day.

If you read up I made quite clear that I don't car if bikes want to be cars or pedestrians, it just can't be both with the expectation that drivers should bear the burden to figure out which one you'd like to be this afternoon.

But more to the point, do you think bikers should stop at graded crossings? I certainly think drivers should if that's what signals and signage dictate, though I'll freely admit that absent all else drivers will have the right of way. The propriety of this can be debated ad nauseum, but a driver will never be seriously injured in a collision with a bike. Self preservation should count for at least something in the mind of the biker.

What makes drivers angry, and not irrationally so, is when the family Jones decides to go biking in the roadway at 5mph when it's a hazard to them and to the drivers. Anyone who chooses to bike in the roadway is fine by me if they are keeping pace with traffic. (to which you retort they shouldn't have to keep pace because drivers speed wily nily. Do you also like driving 35 on the beltway because it's your god given right?)

by stinkykoala on Sep 6, 2011 3:57 pm • linkreport

@stinkykoala,

Anyone who chooses to bike in the roadway is fine by me if they are keeping pace with traffic. (to which you retort they shouldn't have to keep pace because drivers speed wily nily. Do you also like driving 35 on the beltway because it's your god given right?)

Two observations: first, a cyclist would be "keeping pace with traffic". That's because as you pointed out, bicycles are vehicles. Therefore, they're traffic. We all know how easy it is to be blinded by a sense of entitlement, but the posted speed limit is an upper--not lower--limit.
We're not talking about the Beltway, we're talking about multi-lane surface roads.

In any case, I disagree with you on the subject of whether cyclists should "pick" whether they're vehicles or not. They're vehicles. It's only reckless driving and bullying behavior by folks in cars--and a generally antagonistic posture by local government--that leads cyclists to skulk around the edges of the roadways rather than just taking their place in traffic.

When I'm riding a bike, I always behave as a vehicle. I take the right-most lane, unless I need to take a left-turn, in which case I merge left and ride in the left-most lane. I can tell you from experience that most drivers manage to behave in a courteous manner, but there is a non-trivial percentage of drivers who don't seem to like it when bikes are consistent and behave like vehicles. It's almost as though they want to have it both ways. Go figure.

by oboe on Sep 6, 2011 4:08 pm • linkreport

@stinkykoala:

I'll go you one further - I'm fine with someone who wants to bike below speed provided that he does so in such a manner as to not interfere with traffic. There are places in Fairfax County where this can work fine - there's enough space for the two of us to share the road. I've seen it work many a time on the way to and from work.

At the same time, I've been cut off, or nearly cut off, by enough cyclists to heartily wish that some of them would be a little more respectful to those of us who recognize that our cars are, in certain circumstances, esentially weapons, and DO try to behave accordingly.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Sep 6, 2011 4:12 pm • linkreport

@ a lot: You guys have clearly never been at this intersection.

@ Mike S:First of all, the ticket was a warning. What it does is get the driver off the hook if the bicyclist tries to sue him.

You assume that this is the right decision.

So in the eyes of the Motor Vehicle Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the vehicle driver on the bicycle must stop and does not have the right of way.

So, when a car is turning and a bike goes straight, both on a green, the car has the right of way?

And since the bike rider blew through the stop sign and got hit, some of the legal fault clearly is his.

Here's an image of the painted STOP sign (image from 9/2/11, less than a month after the accident).

STOP sign

The biker had a green and was on a bike trail. The biker was going straight, the car was crossing the crosswalk.

The really scary issue here for all of us is that a good driver is constantly scanning his/her field of vision, especially at crosswalks and intersections. And everything is calibrated to the normal speed of cars and the normal speed of pedestrians. That doesn't always take unseen bicyclists into account. ... If he's cycling fast enough, he'll be right in front of my grill before I see him.

That's pretty stupid if you're crossing a major bike trail and a biker is coming at you with high speed. The car driver has factually no reason to assume the biker does not have the right of way, because he can not see the painted STOP sign.

The fact that is a stop sign painted on the trial clearly indicates there's danger to bike riders.

Clearly, huh. Ever been there? Seen the picture above?

the cop felt the bike rider was at fault for this one.

The cops feelings are rather irrelevant. The law counts.

And it's better for the bicyclists to take extra care, rather than suffer needless injury and argue over who's at fault.

Go cross that - I admit dangerous - intersection in any mode and come back and tell me any discussion over who's at fault is needless. This discussion is only needless when your conclusion is made beforehand.

But bicyclists must better understand the dangers of pedestrian crosswalks and act accordingly.

The biker was crossing a mixed pedestrian and bike crossing on a major bike trail.

@ stinkykoala:A bike blows into a street without stopping and suddenly the bike is no longer a vehicle but a pedestrian?

The biker did not blow into an intersection. He continued on a green light on a major bike trial.

Common sense, perhaps distorted by entitlement,dictates that a biker should slow down or stop at a crossing absent a green light.

He had a green light.

@ Canaan:

+1

@ Ser Amantio di Nicolao:The fact that the word STOP was painted on the pavement indicates that SOMEONE, at least, thinks that people should be paying attention at that intersection.

It is very unclear why that STOP paint is there. Are pedestrians to stop before they cross on a green light? We had a debate on the use of STOP signs are pedestrian and bike intersections on the GW Parkway.

I think the problem is that the road rules are designed for cars and pedestrians and that bikes kinda fall in between. That is why there is unclarity here.

@ Mike: thanks to @Jasper's street view, it's pretty obvious there's not a straight shot into the sidewalk from the path unless you jump the curb. I'm guessing at his rate of speed, he was swerving left to cut into the sidewalk and hit the car as it started it's turn, not as it 'suddenly cut him off'

You clearly have never been there. The side-walk IS the Custis trail, and the zebra painting IS the crossing of the Custis trail. No jumping of curbs necessary. Bikers can legally be both on the trail and in the road, as US-29 is not an access limited highway, with the exception of the incoming exit of I-66/US-29 there, but that's not where the biker was.

@ oboe:I won't get into this more than to say that if the cyclist had been riding in the road rather than relegated to the path, he would've been much safer. That's why it's best for cyclists to stay off trails when there's any other option.

There is no other option here. This is where the Custis trail splits from US-29 and goes to the Mt Vernon trail.

Actually, if the cyclist had the proper and proportionate sense of entitlement he would have been riding in the right-hand lane of the road.

There is no right side of the road there.

People, please hold your comment if you've never been there.

This is actually one of the most dangerous and complex intersections for cars, bikers and pedestrians alike. Traffic is always coming from virtually all directions, and in all modes, cars, bikers, runners, walkers. Two lanes are allowed to turn right from the US-29/I-66 ramp while bikers, runners and pedestrians cross from two directions and (dis)appear from behind a wall. For everyone involved, overview is hard.

I go through that intersection almost every day, and it is a scary crossing whichever way you go and whichever mode you're in (I drive, ride and walk there). Oddly, it is mostly the cars that like to blow through, assuming they have the right of way. I know Rosslyn is plastered with signs telling cars to yield to crosswalks. I'll check as soon as its dry whether this particular corner has those signs as well.

Fact is, nobody should derive rights from this STOP sign.

STOP sign

by Jasper on Sep 6, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

@MtVernonSq:
I deleted your recent comment for violating our comment policy. I attempted to send you an email explaining the deletion, however the email you used does not work. If you have questions, please let us know at info@ggwash.org.

by Matt Johnson on Sep 6, 2011 4:22 pm • linkreport

Either that or have a dedicated right-turn arrow for the cars so that bikers/walkers/etc. can proceed without worrying about cars turning right across them. How often do people get hit at this intersection?

That is the fundamental problem here. There is a dedicated right turn lane that has to its right a bike path that allows bikes (and peds) to go straight, and does not separate the two flows by any kind of meaningful traffic control device.

by ah on Sep 6, 2011 4:30 pm • linkreport

The rent is tooo high for coffee shops.....

The simple answer is that there aren't enough of them. There's not enough supply to meet the demand. But dig deeper and you get into issues of regulation, zoning, and community politics.

There aren't enough coffee shops in DC? Is this Marion Barry in disguise for that crackfilled hilarity.

The only reason there are not more hangout spots is because of zoning and regulation and longterm DC residents....

It is priceless that hangout places get a nod on too high of rent.. but peoples spaces... the blogs are jokingly quiet on that front.

by greent on Sep 6, 2011 4:37 pm • linkreport

@Jasper - I wouldn't make too big a deal out of the picture of the "Stop" sign on the Custis Trail. The lettering was just removed a few days ago. That picture doesn't accurately reflect the lettering on the day of this incident.

Since you ride through here every day, I'm interested in knowing whether you ever noticed this stop sign or the one on the other side of Lynn? I didn't notice it until the articles on this accident and I'm also through there every day.

by Greg on Sep 6, 2011 4:50 pm • linkreport

Well that Labor ruling sucks for City Center.

by Fitz on Sep 6, 2011 5:15 pm • linkreport

There aren't enough coffee shops in DC? Is this Marion Barry in disguise for that crackfilled hilarity.

"Them" in the original post refers to commercial retail space, not coffee shops specifically.

by Rob P on Sep 6, 2011 5:36 pm • linkreport

@ Greg:Since you ride through here every day, I'm interested in knowing whether you ever noticed this stop sign or the one on the other side of Lynn? I didn't notice it until the articles on this accident and I'm also through there every day.

Never seen them. I saw one at an intersection earlier as well today. Equally vague.

Quite frankly, but this is another point, it makes no sense to have STOP signs there because there are traffic lights.

Perhaps someone can fill me in on what takes preference, a traffic light or a vaguely painted STOP sign? What is one supposed to do? Make a stop when the light is green? Can you make a stop and proceed with a red, if traffic allows? Does this apply to bikers only, or also to pedestrians? How is a driver to know whether the stopped pedestrian or biker is intending to proceed into the crosswalk?

Also, how come the police agent claimed the STOP sign was on the highway? Since when is the Custis trail part of US-29? Seeing how picky the feds, Arlington and DC are about how gets to shovel what part of the road, who hold jurisdiction is very relevant yet not understandable for the casual passer-by, be it in a car, on a bike or on foot.

Anyway, this whole story is another reminder that ALL local jurisdictions need to figure out how to work bikes into their rules and create clear rules that everybody is aware of.

by Jasper on Sep 6, 2011 8:22 pm • linkreport

@oboe

Cyclists should take the road. But as a driver when I've encountered cyclists that hog a lane to make a point, I spray the jerk with my wipers. And when they give me the finger I roll down the window and laugh.

by TGEOA on Sep 6, 2011 8:51 pm • linkreport

So by doing something perfectly legal and sensible from a safety perspective you admit to assaulting them just for being slower than you? I'd flip you off too.

by Canaan on Sep 6, 2011 8:59 pm • linkreport

Granted that can be construed as a form of assault as well but tit for tat I guess. I hate it when people get mad at me for doing something to improve my safety. It's the same if I'm driving and you honk the horn for me to turn right on red or something similar.

by Canaan on Sep 6, 2011 9:04 pm • linkreport

Mike S,

Drivers expecting pedestrians at 3mph aren't looking far to their right for bicyclists at 15 or 20mph.

I agree that this is the problem.

by David C on Sep 6, 2011 10:08 pm • linkreport

Whether or not the painted "stop" carries the weight of a posted stop sign is really immaterial.

It isn't if you're going to write them a warning for it.

by David C on Sep 6, 2011 10:08 pm • linkreport

the bike hit the car in this case.... Crashed into the car's rear quarter panel.

Which has nothing to do with assigning fault. If we're driving side by side in cars and I gun it in front of you and then turn across you, you'll crash into me, but you won't be at fault. I violated your right of way. If a car ignores RR crossing gates and gets hit by a train, the train isn't at fault. Who hit who isn't that important. It's who had the right of way that matters.

by David C on Sep 6, 2011 10:11 pm • linkreport

say unless you've got a green light

The cyclist in question had a green light.

by David C on Sep 6, 2011 10:12 pm • linkreport

Self preservation should count for at least something in the mind of the biker.

It does and it's the reason cyclists get into fewer crashes than drivers.

by David C on Sep 6, 2011 10:15 pm • linkreport

The lettering was just removed a few days ago.

Which I think is pretty telling. That shows that the city no longer intended for trail users to stop there. That sign was an anachronism.

by David C on Sep 6, 2011 10:20 pm • linkreport

At the same time, I've been cut off, or nearly cut off, by enough cyclists to heartily wish that some of them would be a little more respectful to those of us who recognize that our cars are, in certain circumstances, esentially weapons, and DO try to behave accordingly.

And here you have accurately summed up the arrogance of drivers and why they feel cyclists should get out of the way and not hold up "traffic" - because drivers can, at the slightest whim, literally murder them. And that kind of power demands respect.

by David C on Sep 6, 2011 10:22 pm • linkreport

@Jasper:

I guess the dog ate your homework, after he painted over the stop sign on the pavement on the trail.

Bad doggie.

by Mike S. on Sep 7, 2011 9:07 am • linkreport

I hate it when people get mad at me for doing something to improve my safety. It's the same if I'm driving and you honk the horn for me to turn right on red or something similar.

Sure, of course that's anti-social behavior, but the world is full of such people. That's why it's generally a violent, Hobbsian place. It's the most natural impulse in humankind to act like a bully, and justify it by casting oneself as a victim. Heck, that's the history of every genocidal movement right there. Your safety and rights are essentially irrelevant. Whether you're on a bike, walking, or driving a car, if I perceive you to be impeding *my* progress, it's because you're an arrogant road-hog, *I'm* the victim, and any action I take is excusable.

As some PP wished, if only bikers "would be a little more respectful to those of us who recognize that our cars are, in certain circumstances, essentially weapons, and DO try to behave accordingly."

As usual, David C gets the dynamics right, with one further addition: the unearned mantle of victimhood makes one's thinly veiled threats of violence palatable to oneself.

by oboe on Sep 7, 2011 9:26 am • linkreport

@ Mike S:I guess the dog ate your homework, after he painted over the stop sign on the pavement on the trail.

I checked yesterday night and this morning, and all the ones I came by had been scraped off. I do not know when this happened. Commenters seem to indicated during the last month, and that may be true. I did not notice. But I guess that's my fault for not looking more on the pavement just before I enter into a dangerous intersection.

@TGEOA:Cyclists should take the road.

Even when there is a separated bike trail available? In fact, this is an connection between the Custis trail and the Mt Vernon trail. How are you suggesting bikers get from Key Bridge/Rosslyn to say Pentagon or Crystal City? They can't take the GW Parkway or VA-110 because those are limited access highways. Should bikers not take the fully separated mixed use trail?

by Jasper on Sep 7, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

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