Greater Greater Washington

Couple berates cyclist for reporting van in bike lane

Last night, a cyclist nearly hit a van blocking the L Street cycletrack and decided to report it to the police. That's when he met Fred and Fran Smith, the husband-and-wife heads of a conservative think tank who started berating him for "minding other people's business."

Rob, who tweets as @the_baseband, captured the interaction on his helmet camera and posted it online yesterday. It not only shows the need for more public education about cycling laws in the District, but also the divisive attitude some have towards cyclists, even when they're following the law.

Rob was turning left from 19th Street NW to L Street when he almost slammed into the back of a white van parked in the lane. He walks his bike onto the sidewalk and can be heard calling the police, when a woman approaches and asks if he's going to report the van.

As Rob reads out the license plate of the truck over the phone, an older man in a suit walks over and the two begin screaming at him. The two are later identified as Fred Smith and Fran Smith, founder and board member of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that promotes free-market economics and denies global warming.

The interaction is brief, but it says a lot about lingering attitudes towards cycling and cyclists in DC. While the driver of the van broke the law by parking in a bike lane, it happens so frequently that people like Fred Smith either assume that it's acceptable, or that it's not actually a bike lane.

When Rob explains that he almost hit the van, Fred yells, "The truck is not in the bike lane at all!" He walks out into the street, points to the striped buffer between the bike lane and the general traffic lanes, and says that's the bike lane.

It's also interesting the way that Fred and Fran immediately try to paint Rob as the aggressor for trying to report the driver, chiding him for "minding other people's business." Fred makes multiple assumptions about Rob, saying he "hasn't worked a day in his life" and is "mad" at the driver for not being a cyclist.

When another couple walking by stops to see what's going on, Fred tries to rope them in and marginalize Rob (and by extension, other cyclists, or other young adults) as an outsider. Holding a cigarette, he says to them, "This used to be a nice town where people actually got along." It's hard to hear what he says next, but it's clear he's pointing at Rob.

On YouTube, Rob notes that he stayed to wait for the police, then "I realized it would be better for me to leave."

Our streets have limited space, and tension between different users is unavoidable. But as the ranks of cyclists in DC grow and the cycling infrastructure needed to serve them becomes more common, they won't be seen as outsiders anymore. Fred and Fran Smith may be a lost cause, but hopefully others will be more willing to accept cyclists and acknowledge their rights to the road.

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Dan Reed is an urban planner at Nelson\Nygaard. He writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. All opinions are his own. 

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Forget about his ignorance of the bike lane, Fred's most delusional statement is "this used to be a nice town where people actually got along".

by Craig on Nov 22, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

I can't see the video but if its even half as bad as it reads its a pretty compelling case for breaking laws as a cyclist anyway. If you stop, people will just assault you in the street anyway.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

My background, I own many bicycles, one used toyota, metrocards, and a capital bikeshare annual pass. I've spent time living in the American bicycling capital, Portland, Oregon(the folks who made bicycle commuting cool and hip). I'm mostly a cager, but have been on many roads and trails and the L street track many many times. That said, this is the second time I've seen a video where the bicyclist escalates the situation. The call board for reporting double parked cars would explode if I called every time I saw double parked cars. Man up and ride in the street. There is so many salmon on the bike lane anyways(maybe the m street bike lane will eliminate that). That said, the monopoly man was hilarious, the caricature wouldn't be complete without the cigar in his mouth. THAT man has never worked a day in his life .

by Bill the Wanderer on Nov 22, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

Plus, despite there being three lanes for cars, no one ever thinks to block one of those lanes.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

That was very entertaining.

I want to get on one those cameras.

by turtleshell on Nov 22, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

Anti-cyclist Smith's idea of "competitive enterprise" would appear to be special dispensations for some where they don't have to play by the same rules as others.

by Critical Chris on Nov 22, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

This just in: Jerks act like jerks.

Good on the cyclist for reporting the van. We need to enforce the bike lane and make it culturally verboten to block the bike lane.

by Cavan on Nov 22, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Happens all the time. An extremely angry guy went off on me for being in the right lane on L St. rather than the bike lane on the far left. I was in that lane so I could take a right turn and explained this to him. His response was a deluge of profanities. Oh well. At least he didn't hit me.

by Bikr on Nov 22, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

And people wonder why I yell at cars in the bike lane.

by Jasper on Nov 22, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

Right-wingers not caring about other people's lives? Color me shocked.

by carlosthedwarf on Nov 22, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

Irony: (Noun) a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected

example: A guy who runs a thinktank berating someone because they haven't worked a day in their life.

I true OID statement. Only in DC.

by Ben on Nov 22, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

Man up and ride in the street.

What if you're a woman? Should you also "man up"? I don't think your solution really is one.

by thump on Nov 22, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

That said, this is the second time I've seen a video where the bicyclist escalates the situation. The call board for reporting double parked cars would explode if I called every time I saw double parked cars. Man up and ride in the street.

Who is escalating anything? He's just making a phone call and these people decide to freak out about it.

You have to report these things because otherwise DDOT and the rest can't give a f*** about people blocking the lanes and act like there's no problem.

Maybe the driver should man up and park in one of the three general traffic lanes, which are completely empty at this time of night.

Gotta love the nut who thinks that the stripey part dotted with bollards is the bike lane. If anything this makes the case for both more bollards (like 5 times as many) AND green paint on the whole lane.

by MLD on Nov 22, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

Also, riding in the L street bike lane IS riding in the street. That's in fact a major criticism of it, since drivers still enter the lane to make left turns.

and jerks will be jerks but it's a good example for people in the middle to realize that these "scofflaw cyclists" are people too and may them rethink laughing when someone wishes they could just play bowling for cyclists in their car.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

The last time this happened to me I simply rode repeatedly into the back of the woman's car. When she opened the window to ask why I said "I can't seem to get by..something is in my way..". She moved after a bit.

Another time I had quite the conversation. The question I asked him over and over was "So, you're not willing to inconvenience a few drivers by parking in one of those lanes, but you are willing to put the safety and lives of all these cyclists at risk by parking in the only "safe" space they have here."

Really, I think the L Street Cycle Track is a joke of a bike facility. There's absolutely nothing that protects a cyclist from incursions by drivers and the mixing zones are going to get someone killed.

by thump on Nov 22, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

Ah, I see. The man thinks the striped-off area right next to the parked cars' doors is a bike lane, and the empty space is for parking.

by Michael Perkins on Nov 22, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

@thump

Just ride in the L street lane furthest to the right, so in the opposite side of the one way, and let the little things like that roll off your back. You'd have much lower blood pressure.

"man up" common vernacular:"be brave or tough enough to deal with an unpleasant situation."

thank you for asking clarification.

by Bill the Wanderer on Nov 22, 2013 11:21 am • linkreport

Not sure why the need to call out their jobs and politics unless the author is simply trying to infer that because he is for free markets and limited government that that means anti-van in the bike lane.

I hope the author places the same research and vigor around his other stories - and makes a point to call out the 90% of folks in town on the other side that cause problems for us cyclists that happen to work at a non-profit or liberal think tank.

by Dave on Nov 22, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

Ugh, CEI is the f$&cking worst. It's like AEI without even the pretense that it's not carrying water for oil companies. Even people in the conservative DC sphere admit it's a joke of a "think tank". Not surprised the head is indignantly ill-informed.

by TM on Nov 22, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

What I wonder is who you call to report something like this? I biked by this van last night, thought about calling it in, and then had no idea who to call.

by JZ on Nov 22, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

"Not sure why the need to call out their jobs and politics unless the author is simply trying to infer that because he is for free markets and limited government that that means anti-van in the bike lane"

Well one issue might be that there seems to be a concerted campaign to stir up a bikes vs cars meme, thats included articles recent in the American Spectator, the Weekly Standard, and the WSJ. Plus the guy is a climate denier, which to me seems like a relevant issue since some of us bike to reduce GHG emissions.

I am indeed embarassed for my fellow cyclists and urbanists who are conservative or libertarian. I know they didn't ask for this, but its something they need to live with or deal with.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

@Dave

I thought where Fred and Fran Smith worked was interesting because they're prominent people at a prominent think tank. They're public figures, even if only to certain political circles. If they worked in the mailroom at CEI I probably wouldn't have mentioned who they were.

by dan reed! on Nov 22, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

Interesting article which makes many good points, but not sure why its important to bring Fred's politics into this.

I've had confrontations with Republicans and Democrats (I could tell by their bumper stickers).

The safety issues all of us cyclists face are not political and we shouldn't try to make them that way.

by Tim on Nov 22, 2013 11:32 am • linkreport

This van is a repeat offender. I once encountered its owner, the flower guy, and he was very hostile. He knows what he's doing and chooses to park there.

by Jonathan on Nov 22, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

Anything I say about this I will likely regret saying later. I'll just leave at that.

by Ryan Sigworth on Nov 22, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

I work in that building and it looks like it is the flower vendor guy with the white van. He has a flower stand on the corner during the day and he always takes up the bike lane too when he loads and unloads his flowers to/from the white van. I don't think the parking enforcement would care anyway. I still think it is fine to report it however even though I don't ride bikes in the city.

by aitor on Nov 22, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

Agree that the CEI/global warming issue is entirely beside the point of this article. Needlessly alienates potential allies.

by Cycle Commuter on Nov 22, 2013 11:39 am • linkreport

"The safety issues all of us cyclists face are not political and we shouldn't try to make them that way."

You mean not a partisan issue. Safety issues are public policy questions, and one that different people disagree on. They are very much political issues.

Locally the lines don't always fall along partisan lines, thats true. At least in DC. In Va, they pretty much do - almost all Dems supported all the biking safety bills last session, and few of the republicans did.

But this man is somewhat prominent, and claims to have some expertise in public policy and economics. I don't see any reationale for hiding who he is. If only to better shame him as an individual.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 11:39 am • linkreport

"Agree that the CEI/global warming issue is entirely beside the point of this article. Needlessly alienates potential allies. "

we have allies in the climate denier community?

I don't disagree with everything CEI stands for - Im all with them on fighting sugar quotas. But I dont think we will lose support in the free trade community by calling this guy out.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 11:42 am • linkreport

There are loading zones on the corner and across the street for the 'flower guy'. In fact, the construction of the cycletrack added a net gain of loading zones if I'm correct. No sympathy from me.

by Craig on Nov 22, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

and if this were only about someone who didnt understand where the bike lane was, that would be one thing.

but Mr Smith introduced the political memes

"minding other people's business."

Libertarian/conservative meme, somewhat ironic in this case

"hasn't worked a day in his life"

Judging who has and hasnt worked and how that limits their rights, is also a RW meme.

"And is "mad" at the driver for not being a cyclist. "

The implication that someone who wants rights enforced, is trying to change others lives, is a meme that transcends the biking issue.

"This used to be a nice town where people actually got along."

Not intrinsically a political meme, but one that takes on irony when its stated by a RW think tank prez. Im sure there are folks who think RW think tanks have had no particular role in making this a harsher town. But many think they did.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 11:48 am • linkreport

Rob acted entirely correctly and I salute him. Fred and Fran Smith ought to be ashamed of themselves. And, yes, I do think it's worthwhile to mention that they run a think-tank because media groups are currently engaged in stoking a culture war between car drivers and cyclists, and this video gives us an insight into the mentality of some of the people who are involved.

by renegade09 on Nov 22, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

Haha. It's situations like these that I wish it was a bike messenger from the old days - you know, when everybody got along. Monopoly Guy would've never even dared approach him, and if he did, the messenger would've tore him another..well, you know. Of course, bike messengers didn't bike in any lanes. But they were tough as nails and you didn't mess with them.

by dc denizen on Nov 22, 2013 11:53 am • linkreport

It's a conservative thing. The conservative movement has a cultural affinity for automobiles and a cultural dis-affinity for cyclists.

This is a pity. There have got to be conservatives out there who are interested in transit.

Anyway, if Rob had done this outside somewhere like the Center for American Progress, the staffers would probably have already reported the van.

by Weiwen on Nov 22, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

'Agree that the CEI/global warming issue is entirely beside the point of this article. Needlessly alienates potential allies.'

Considering he assumed that the rider was an unemployed lout, I doubt we'll ever see Mr. Smith on the side of the bicyclists.

by CyclistinAlexandria on Nov 22, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

I like how this started with the flower van driver (who apparently is here all the time, but has NY plates) and cyclist, but then the Smith's jump in - even though they aren't involved - and THEN criticize the cyclist for not minding his own business. Fantastic.

"I know this is none of my business, but you should learn to mind your own business."

by David C on Nov 22, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

One more reason to eliminate all bike lanes.

by bmac on Nov 22, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

In other news: New Traffic Cameras Will Be Activated Tomorrow.

Eat it, Mr. & Mrs. Smith!

by dc denizen on Nov 22, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

Just ride in the L street lane furthest to the right, so in the opposite side of the one way, and let the little things like that roll off your back. You'd have much lower blood pressure.

No thanks, I take a left off of L to get home. Riding in the right hand lane wouldn't make sense.
Also, I don't think that being threatened with a multi-ton machine is a "little thing". It isn't, it's scarey, and that's what happens when you're "not where you're supposed to be" while cycling. I'd prefer to just make it safely home to my wife and child.

<"man up" common vernacular:"be brave or tough enough to deal with an unpleasant situation."

I know what it means, and I know what you meant by it. Seems pretty condescending though, especially considering the large number of women who use the L Street Cycle Track. Ostensibly, the purpose of the cycle track was to encourage people to cycle. I can tell you that there are a fair number of folks that aren't particularly fond of having to "man up" just to get where they're going safely. I think those people would prefer the lanes are kept clear and used for the purpose they were intended for, not the convenience of a small minority, especially when their safety/lives are put at risk.
People park in the track b/c they know they'd be honked at mercilessly by slightly inconvenience drivers if they parked in one of the 3 lanes for motor vehicles and/or they simply don't care about the safety of people on bikes. There's no excuse for it, so I take objection to people trying to justify it.

by thump on Nov 22, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

@Weiwen

I think you can say that about their entire generation. Baby boomers affinity to the automobile will never be match and won't be seen again.

by rj on Nov 22, 2013 12:17 pm • linkreport

Yes we should all "man up" no matter what mode.

Someone behind honking while you're driving? Just man up and speed up!
Someone trying to sit in a seat before you get there on metro? Man up and take that seat! Its yours!

Seems to me we could all start to man down a little bit instead and then maybe we wouldn't have as many people yelling at us on the street.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

I think I saw a cyclist run a stop sign earlier that day in NE, so this is totally justified.

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 12:19 pm • linkreport

"I think you can say that about their entire generation. Baby boomers affinity to the automobile will never be match and won't be seen again."

You can say it but it would be wrong. There are plenty of boomers who bike and walk and use transit, and have been instrumental in advancing urbanism.

This is not a generational thing as much as its an ideological thing, IMO.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

For anyone who is interested, Mr. Smith has his bio posted on the CEI web site:

http://cei.org/expert/fred-l-smith-jr

by aaa on Nov 22, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

@Thump
"The question I asked him over and over was "So, you're not willing to inconvenience a few drivers by parking in one of those lanes, but you are willing to put the safety and lives of all these cyclists at risk by parking in the only "safe" space they have here."

Thats the rub. "All" these cyclists. "A few" drivers?

There are 49 times the number of vehicles on DC streets than bicycles every day, so lets not pretend its "all" these cyclists, and "a few" drivers. It is really about, what is the least objectionable, or have the least impact for the greatest number of people. That stretch of road gets ~15K vehicles a day, versus the few hundred bike a day that use it.

This cyclist (as they all love to remind everyone) had equal right to use any of the other travel lanes, but he decided to out himself as an entitled juvenile and escalate the situation . I really keep wondering when cyclists will figure out what a cherry situation they have in this town. You have your own private bike lanes just for you (god forbid someone jogs or takes their segway in a bike lane, the wrath fron cyclists is endless), AND you have complete and full access to every street and 85% of the sidewalks in this town, and yet you continue to whine every time someone dares offend you by being in a bike lane.

Oh, and you can blame DDOT for designing some truly piss poor bike lanes.

by LStreet on Nov 22, 2013 12:29 pm • linkreport

L Street contrasts legal activities, like using the roads and sidewalks outside the CBD, with illegal ones, like blocking bike lanes. Depending on the time of day, he may not be blocking a car lane illegally, but in any event THERE ARE 2 lanes. Whereas, he's blocking 100% of the bike lanes.

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

"but he decided to out himself as an entitled juvenile and escalate the situation ."

he didnt escalate the situation. He reported a violation of the law to the proper authorities. Thats what every good citizen should do.

If you think no cycle track should have been built there, you had ample authority to tell your CM. Having lost, you do not get to override the policy decisions of the Council by willfully violating the law. You can of course berate people reporting such violations, but do not expect to be taken seriously.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

re: baby boomers

As Christopher Leinberger rightly points out, the "back to the city" movement was initiated by baby boomers.

All of the johnny come latelies around now weren't in the trenches fighting freeways and urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s. Same with the "brownstone" movement in NYC, especially Brooklyn and various "urban pioneering" initiatives across the country, including DC. (And in the 1980s and 1990s and the early part of the last decade.)

Granted far more baby boomers were engaged in pro-automobility practices on a gross numbers standpoint, but the sustainable mobility agenda we're working with today was forged to a great extent in the 1960s (UC Davis and biking, Portland tearing down a freeway, development of next generation heavy rail transit systems, etc.).

Not streetcars during the 1960s but visioned and implemented by baby boomers, plus they were building on the Portland agenda and for the most part are baby boomers (e.g., Rick Gustafson).

Not ridesharing although maybe not, as Robin Chase appears to be a baby boomer--maybe not although she looks like she could be older than me, and I am at the tail end of the baby boom generation.

by Richard Layman on Nov 22, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

@thump - Seems pretty condescending..
..and tediously predictable...

by Tina on Nov 22, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

That stretch of road gets ~15K vehicles a day, versus the few hundred bike a day that use it.

And how many more cyclists there could be (and fewer drivers) if people weren't constantly blocking the lane. And if we built more lanes. And ignored people who think that the question of infrastructure should go to whoever behaves the best or is the least guilty of hypocrisy.

Would it be ok if the Van was parked on the sidewalk? Even if people could get by? What's the difference?

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

The call board for reporting double parked cars would explode if I called every time I saw double parked cars.

Everyone should call them in. George Costanza was right -- death penalty for double parkers! If this is allowed to go on this is not a society. THIS IS ANARCHY!

The man thinks the striped-off area right next to the parked cars' doors is a bike lane, and the empty space is for parking.

I find that interesting. I'm not excusing his behavior but it's a useful anecdotal data point. Nothing is as obvious to the general public as you might think. Perhaps the L ST track needs better signage, markings, and barriers.

Fred's most delusional statement is "this used to be a nice town where people actually got along".

Maybe he was referring to political Washington? The Senate did just exercise something called the Nuclear Option (for good reason).

by Falls Church on Nov 22, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

I haven't seen counts, but I'm guessind it's more than a few hundred. And the growth isn't over yet.

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

A libertarian friend of mine informed me that they are actually a libertarian think tank rather than a conservative think tank. I don't think there is much of a difference on the issues they work on.

by TakomaNick on Nov 22, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

Funny, because bikes require (and receive) FAR less in subsidy than automobiles.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 12:56 pm • linkreport

@Crickey,

I sat outside at 8:00 am on a beautiful 65 degree morning a few weeks ago at the coffee place at 21st and L drinking my coffee, and counted 15 bikers over a ten minute period. or 1.5 per minute. 90 bikes an hour during rush. I've also sat out there at lunch and not seen one single biker for 20 minutes so I think saying a few hundred on average (nice and bad days) is being pretty generous.

@Drumz,

I really admire your 26 year old view of the world. Really.

I know you think that simply taking road away from cars, makes the cars magically disappear, but as DDOT learned last week via the residents of Glover Park, it doesn't. It just forces cars to go eleswhere, worsening congestion on already congested streets. But please feel free to belive that hopes, dreams and fairy dust will magically make the veicles vanish.

A few hunderd thousand people a day commute into DC via car/van/truck. There are tens of thousands of other vehicles on DC streets every day such as commuter / metro / tour buses, and delivery vehicles. Simply put, there are hundreds of times the number of vehicles on DC streets as there are bikes, and thats on nice weather days. As the CABI dashboard shows us, daily biking falls off by 45% in the cold weather months.

Should the van park on the sidewalk? No, because there are more pedestrians than there are bikers.

I mean, really...think about it. Despite biking making up the tiniest sliver of trips in this city, they get more access to public ROW than do either pedestrians or vehicles. You get your own lanes, full access to all the other lanes and can ride on sidewalks in 85% of the city too. By all accounts, biking is already the most privlidged class of public ROW users, and yet y'all go on endless tirades and posts of indignity about a random vehicle being parked in a bike lane. How many double parked cars do vehicles have to deal with on a daily basis in this town, and you don't see every driver getting out of his vehicle with camera rolling to make a fool of themselves.

Bikers, I hate to break it to you but you have a real perception problem, and things like this aren't helping you fix it.

And Drumz, there were 2.96 trillion vehicle miles driven in the US over the past year. Vehicles are carrying 61% of all the nations freight and what... a trillion of miles of passenger and ocmmuting trips.

by LStreet on Nov 22, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

in this same spot a month ago I was riding to a meeting around noon time. i was weighted down with stuff; a big tube strapped around my shoulder and stuffed rear basket and paniers. There was a cycler in front of me. As we approached this spot there was a man standing in the bike land next to a parked car. if not for the man there would have been just enough room to stay in the bike lane. The man was watching us approach. I heard the rider in front of me say something like "excuse me" and when the man didn't move that rider swerved out into the car lane to go around.

I also said "excuse me" as i approached and rang a bell. By then I did not have the option of swerving out because now there were cars coming in all the lanes. As I got closer the man was watching - fully cognizant of the situation.

When i was close enough and said for the 300th time "excuse me" he sneered and said "you're excused". He knew what he was doing. it was his intent to put me in a very dangerous situation. there were cars zipping by. I'm small and middle aged. This guy was younger, bigger, less encumbered, less vulnerable than me. So brave. So principled.

Instead of risking my life and swerving into the car lane and causing other people to get into a car crash I held my course. As I passed my tube smacked him.

His action was deliberate. Inspiring courage..

Since this happened at what now seems the building the Smiths came out of, I wonder if harassing people on bikes is part of their office ethic or organizational mission.

by Tina on Nov 22, 2013 1:35 pm • linkreport

L Street - you are ignoring the benefit of bike lanes for drivers. Not having to be stuck behind someone riding a bike, having designated space available for different modes, has benefits for motorists too.

by Craig on Nov 22, 2013 1:40 pm • linkreport

LStreet,
You're missing the point. As more people move into the city (urbanization)and they are, biking becomes more of a viable option. This is getting around and not commuting. As a true resident of the city, why do I need to step aside for a commuter that lives elsewhere and operates only in the context of getting himself or herself into and out of the city? Okay, he may have a "business" that pays local taxes but he doesn't live here therefore his concerns are not only different from mine, they could be utterly opposed to them. If I had a kid that could only use a bike to get around, wouldn't I be a little upset if he had to veer out in traffic because a flower guy is too thoughtless to think around the local traffic constraints?

by Ben on Nov 22, 2013 1:41 pm • linkreport

Oh weird, I totally walked past that last night ~6:20pm on L St.

by BTA on Nov 22, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

Well, L Street, you continue to gloss over the fact that it's illegal AND dangerous to do what he's doing. Not quite sure how that fits into the perception problem thing.

You make another logic error, that the DDOT has to prioritize the drivers over all else simply based on numbers. What DDOT does is prioritize use of the roads in a way that meets the needs of the residents of the city, less than half of whom drive to work. The rest live here and work here, and are entitled to have streets that are safe and pleasant to be around, not just optimized to allow non residents that ability to leave the City as quickly as possible.

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

Its not cars vs bikes. Its this is where I live vs this is a place a I visit and than leave.

These arguments seem to get confined in the context of commuting. I live in the city. Its not about commuting; its about making my living space less livable.

Also, why is it okay for a van to break traffic laws? Because Fred Jr coudn't tell it was a bikelane? Okay, then lets use some taxpayer moneny to paint it in and make it 100% less confusing!

by Ben on Nov 22, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

Lstreet

I am over 50, so you can drop the generational crap.

There is not that much dedicated lane infra for bikes compared to the entire road net.

Cyclists are allowed in general travel lanes (other than limited access) so what? on most such lanes there are few cyclists, and they arent much of an issue. There are many reasons some cyclists prefer a general travel lane - but cycle tracks are important to attracting the less bold.

I see no reasoned case for removing the L Street cycle track. The ratio of vehicles does not matter. What might matter is delay to vehicles, but there is no evidence that the track has led to material delays to motorists, certainly not enough to offset improved connectivity and safety for cyclists. and of course to the extent you encourage more to cycle, you reduce traffic congestion overall. And also address issues of public health and development.

Given that, the cycle track rules should be enforced.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:02 pm • linkreport

@Ben "As a true resident"

Now you sound like the NIMBY arguments made by long term residents against gentrifiers that GGW'ers lambast.

Also, if we discounted the opinion of everyone who didn't live here, then we wouldn't be listening to folks like Awalkerinthecity who lives in ffx.

Lastly, that attitude works both ways. a full 25% of District residents commute out of the District daily for their jobs. I am sure you would be the first to levy a complaint if VA and MD took up obvious and pointed policies towards District residents who commuted there for their paycheck.

@Crickey,
"L Street, you continue to gloss over the fact that it's illegal AND dangerous to do what he's doing."

Well, 42% of the cyclists on the PA ave bike lanes ignoring their red lights is illegal AND dangerous too, yet every time its brought up, cyclists consume copious amounts of the internet, fouriously pounding out justifications and excuses on their keyboard for it, so I am a little unsure of your point.

by LStreet on Nov 22, 2013 2:03 pm • linkreport

'And Drumz, there were 2.96 trillion vehicle miles driven in the US over the past year. Vehicles are carrying 61% of all the nations freight and what... a trillion of miles of passenger and ocmmuting trips.'

Freight railroads carry a large portion of the nations freight - very large portions of its coal and grain.

I dont see what that has to do with L Street though.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:03 pm • linkreport

@LStreet

It's obvious to anyone who drives in the BW Metro Area that traffic has only gotten worse over the years. We can't keep adding more roads as we're running out of space to build them. Its beneficial to everyone who uses the roads to encourage alternate forms of transportation...not discourage them.

And the safer people feel commuting by bicycle, the more likely they are to do it.

by Tim on Nov 22, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

@Awalker,

Yes, freight rail carries of the other 39%. Your point being?

by LStreet on Nov 22, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

L Street. DDOT measures speeds of drivers, you know, and found that on all but a handful of DC roads, AT LEAST 85% of drivers were exceeding the speed limit.

Which leaves, by my calcuations and your logic, 58% of the cyclists and less than 15% of drivers to enjoy the entirety of the road network in the City.

See you out there (actually, it's unlikely you made the cut)!

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

"Also, if we discounted the opinion of everyone who didn't live here, then we wouldn't be listening to folks like Awalkerinthecity who lives in ffx."

I do not ask anyone to listen to me based on authority. I merely give information that I think is policy relevant. Also I do not ask the District to do anything in particular to make my commute easier. I fully accept that the District will do what is in its interests.

"Lastly, that attitude works both ways. a full 25% of District residents commute out of the District daily for their jobs. I am sure you would be the first to levy a complaint if VA and MD took up obvious and pointed policies towards District residents who commuted there for their paycheck."

Arlington and Fairfax are both, for their own purposes, encourage mode shift away from SOV. Fairfax is looking at parking maximums in Tysons, and will be adding bike lanes and cycle tracks in Tysons and elsewhere. Arlington already has lots of bike lanes, and seems intent on adding cycle tracks. I suppose some DC motorists will complain about that - perhaps even some who post at GGW. I am sure they will find the policy rationale for bike friendliness in Arlington and Fairfax explained.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

"Awalker,
Yes, freight rail carries of the other 39%. Your point being?"

that national data on breakdown of freight ton miles and passenger miles has zilch to do with the question of the optimal configuration of any given city street.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:09 pm • linkreport

"Well, 42% of the cyclists on the PA ave bike lanes ignoring their red lights is illegal AND dangerous too, yet every time its brought up, cyclists consume copious amounts of the internet, fouriously pounding out justifications and excuses on their keyboard for it, so I am a little unsure of your point."

If you want to report that behavior to the appropriate authorities, feel free.

BTW, I did not know the internet was a finite resource.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

L Street,

Do you really think it helps your case when you try to insult me by pointing out my age?

I ain't even mad though, I'm just curious why wanting a city where its safe and easy to bike means that I must want to ban private automobile use.

Despite biking making up the tiniest sliver of trips in this city, they get more access to public ROW than do either pedestrians or vehicles.
Well that's pretty much false, there's the interstates and RCP that you can't bike on that must be considered in that equasion anyway. And its not like cyclists take the lane because they want to piss off drivers, they take it because it means less of a chance of them getting killed.

and you don't see every driver getting out of his vehicle with camera rolling to make a fool of themselves.
No, the footage is from the fact that cyclists often get injured or killed and there is a huge burden of proof on them to prove that they didn't do anything to contribute to their injury. Rob was only dialing the "Am I driving safely" number because the driver wasn't.

Besides, the city wants cyclists even if they're slow to add the necessary infrastructure to make it happen (and what little we do have has contributed to a doubling of the number of people cycling, imagine what more can do!). If you told the mayor (or pretty much any more)that 1000 people were moving into the city tomorrow and that he got to choose whether they biked or drove most places I'd guarantee you he'd pick cycling.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 2:11 pm • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity: "I did not know the internet was a finite resource."

It's induced demand. If you build the tubes, demand will appear. Maybe we need to implement an internet diet.

by engrish_major on Nov 22, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

Actually LStreet raises a good point, one inadequately captured in the MoveDC planning process and its terming of three scenarios: staying the course (doing things the way they are); focusing on neighborhoods; or "blending."

I would term the transportation planning framework in a more structured fashion:

1. People going to and from the city.
2. People traveling through the city and not stopping.
3. People traveling within the city between activity centers-destinations.
4. People traveling within neighborhoods.
5. Would be the public space, quality of life, placemaking element of transportation infrastructure, but this is in part a dependent variable, but also a function of priorities in terms of quality outcomes.
6. Freight and heavy vehicle movement as a separate but integrated element within 1-3.

The transpo network ought to be doing all those things simultaneously. How it accomplishes this is constrained and creates extranormal problems for certain segments of audiences served by DDOT/the city.

Tradeoffs have to be made, but at the same time, the city has to represent its agenda (which we will term pro-urban) as well.

So while there would be some pain for commuters dealing with cycletracks, other elements of the goals and objectives of a master plan provide a mechanism for making choices, setting priorities, and mediating disputes.

Obviously, this is just one example.

Another is the impact on neighborhoods abutting key commuting corridors like NY Ave., Georgia Ave., North Capitol, Rhode Island Ave., etc.

Obviously/2, the MoveDC plan isn't doing things like I'd suggest, or the somewhat pathetic high priority transit network discussed in a previous GGW entry today would be a lot more robust.

I say this because the more robust that network is, the more it can take on throughput generated by "People going to and from the city" who are primarily (but not exclusively) commuters. That network doesn't show a high capacity line on Wisconsin Ave. and in other commuter corridors.

I think it's a fault of the basic design of the planning process, which doesn't appear to me to be addressing some of the right and most important questions.

Getting back to the cycletrack, for the most part, by removing only parking, it doesn't eliminate through traffic lanes. So the argument about taking away road space is mostly a chimera.

Plus, considering the question of tradeoffs, constraints, etc., we have scarce road space and a lot of demands on it and an inadequate framework for making decisions about it.

E.g., curb space parking may be one of the worst things we can use this space for, considering all the demands for using it. Another reason why off street privately owned parking spaces need to be integrated into the transportation planning process in the central business district, etc.

by Richard Layman on Nov 22, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

I sat outside at 8:00 am on a beautiful 65 degree morning a few weeks ago at the coffee place at 21st and L drinking my coffee, and counted 15 bikers over a ten minute period.

Can I see the data sheets for this study, because I was there this morning and I saw 10,000,000 cyclists go by in 3 minutes. See I can make up data too!

by David C on Nov 22, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

Despite his age, I have noticed that drumz has an uncanny ability to be elegantly right most of the time.

by David C on Nov 22, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

What this video shows, more than anything, is that a lot of people don't have a clue about how to live with each other and get along.

What the van driver did is illegal...and dangerous...and perhaps the van driver could have chosen his illegal parking location better (farther down the block, around the corner, etc.) -- however, it's naive to think cars won't stop where they're not supposed to...and to complain that this results in some heinous anarchy and chaos. Roads are a little chaotic. Always have been, even when it was ox-carts and horse-drawn wagons that ran over pedestrians. And, bicycles were seen as a plague upon innocent pedestrians.

We have roads that are built and paved to support automobiles. Now, we're trying to shoehorn bicycles in there, which is gonna create conflict. It bears repeating, but if you're riding on city streets, you must use an abundance of caution and look out for unexpected dangers at every turn. Cars have always stopped where they're not supposed to, double parked or in no parking zones-- because deliveries (or pick-ups) have to be made, elderly parents need to be driven to the door, etc. These are the things you have to get used to if you're gonna live in a big city.

Of course, the couple in the video suffer from being old and daft, as well as suffering from conservative ideology. They don't have the slightest clue about the rules of the road there, but their hostility to cycling is evident. For that matter, they're as clueless as the cyclist about how to handle this. If every traffic violation were recorded and reported by civilians, we would not be in a better world -- but, there's no reason for them to start lecturing or to start getting out their own camera to try and intimidate.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Nov 22, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

"So while there would be some pain for commuters dealing with cycletracks, "

Oh good grief. For auto commuters from NoVa (and I think the majority of commuters from NoVa to downtown use metro or VRE) the short distance they drive on the streets of DC is tiny compared to both their drives in Va (on often nastily congested highways) plus their drive on SE-SW freeway. A tiny delay on L street pales compared to the mess on 395, on 66, and often on local arterials in NoVa feeding onto those and other highways.

I suspect most of the complaining against complete streets in DC originates from Maryland commuters.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport


L Street:
@Ben "As a true resident"
Now you sound like the NIMBY arguments made by long term residents against gentrifiers that GGW'ers lambast.
- On the contrary, NIMBY's typically hate bike lanes.
Also, if we discounted the opinion of everyone who didn't live here, then we wouldn't be listening to folks like Awalkerinthecity who lives in ffx.
- I didn't discount anyone's opinion that doesn't live in DC. I simply stated that, from a resident's perspective, the argument isn't soley a commuter one. From your recitation of meaningless national road use, you seem primarily focused on stats concerning the transportation of goods and services. Also, you provide no references for your stats. How do I know they're accurate even if they don't apply as even peripheral arguments?
Lastly, that attitude works both ways. a full 25% of District residents commute out of the District daily for their jobs. I am sure you would be the first to levy a complaint if VA and MD took up obvious and pointed policies towards District residents who commuted there for their paycheck.
-Obvious and pointed policies? I am not even sure what that means. What policies are obvious and pointed? Whatever point you're trying to make isn't obvious and pointed. Quite the opposite; its cryptic and dull.

And yes, I hope VA and MD put in bike lines everywhere.

@Crickey,
"L Street, you continue to gloss over the fact that it's illegal AND dangerous to do what he's doing."

Well, 42% of the cyclists on the PA ave bike lanes ignoring their red lights is illegal AND dangerous too, yet every time its brought up, cyclists consume copious amounts of the internet, fouriously pounding out justifications and excuses on their keyboard for it, so I am a little unsure of your point.

by Ben on Nov 22, 2013 2:20 pm • linkreport

"Cars have always stopped where they're not supposed to, double parked or in no parking zones"

and sometimes they have been ticketed for doing so. In this instance, when it blocks the track (note well that many cyclists will NOT ride in the general travel lanes on L) and when this has happened frequently enough to impact the useability of this piece of infra, it seems reasonable to actually enforce the law.

"If every traffic violation were recorded and reported by civilians, we would not be in a better world --"

I would love to see that experiment. I surely dont think reporting violations in this instance make the world worse.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:21 pm • linkreport

The thing about the L Street cycletrack and any other cycletrack or bike lane big enough to serve as a stopping zone. Lawbreaking by vehicles in them occurs in non-linear fashion--like graffittti on subway cars. If you don't takea hard line on it, you quickly find the lane is obstructed on nearly every block, and the lane becomes unuseable. Whereas if the position is no use by vehicles ever, cars stay out of it and it is useable. L Street started out like the former, but unstinting diligence by cyclists is slowly turning it into the latter.

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 2:22 pm • linkreport

It bears repeating, but if you're riding on city streets, you must use an abundance of caution and look out for unexpected dangers at every turn.

That's a good individual response. It's not a good systemic response. A good systemic response is to eliminate the risk that cyclists face that they can't control (mostly, people in cars who can get away with almost anything as long as they say they didn't see who they hit).

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

@AWalker -- Ummm...you think Maryland commuters aren't stuck every day on congested roads? You're showing your ignorance of other people's lives, as well as a poor sense of humor. Come check out the north side of the Beltway and the commutes that Marylanders endure -- on the BWP, on 29 and on 95/495 heading into the city (and back out in the evening) , and having to cross the American Legion Bridge into and out of old Virginny. True -- Maryland commuters generally travel longer distances on the DC roads getting downtown, but what that has to do with L Street I don't know.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Nov 22, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

@Awalker,

Take a deep breath, and type. No need to make 4 posts in 7 minutes responding to one of my posts.

@DavidC,
As soon as you find the numbers from DDOT, you are more than welcome to post them here. I work at that intersection and am on L street multiple times a day. I look forward to you posting DDOT's numbers.

@Ben,

You seem to also ignore the hundreds of thousands of vehicle trips per day made in the District that have nothing to do with commutting.

by LStreet on Nov 22, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport

I might add that it's possible that the cigar-chomping fathead might not be the only unaware of the rules there. As the cyclist reports, the van has NY plates. If we're talking about an infrequent visitor, ticketing the van might not impact the general behavior there. I'm not opposed to enforcing the law. If an officer happens along, a ticket would be the appropriate thing. As for civilians, the more appropriate thing would be to to at least first try to determine where the driver is and maybe approach the driver. I would say that personal efforts at conflict resolution are almost always superior to calling in the authorities at the first instance.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Nov 22, 2013 2:34 pm • linkreport

Hello again, motorcyclist, libertarian, bicyclist, walker, driver here.
The cyclist escalated the situation because he could have just as easily swerved around. Let the cop police on simple infractions like that, and intervene when somebody is getting robbed, raped, or killed. I hardly think this places even the most green cyclists in perilous life or death situation, on an inconvenience scale, maybe 1.5 out of 10. I was an avid cyclist in my teens, from the moment I started at 7 years old, I could easily maneuver my bike around trees(when you off road), parked cars, pedestrians, moving cars, potholes, snow piles, etc. If you can't maneuver around parked cars, then I'd suggest another mode of transportation.

And FYI, Mr. Smith sounds like a ivory tower loser(whom I've encountered many). He neither understands nor recognizes the libertarian persuasion. Sounds to me like he focuses too much on kissing higher education administrations hinnies.

by Bill the Wanderer on Nov 22, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

Fischy

Its my impression that more marylanders are into this whole "DC is warring on cars" think than NoVans, both because they spend more time on district arterials, and because more of them have an emotional stake in the city. I agree with you that issues on NY avenue say, have nothing to do with L Street. In fact since the L Street cycle track came from parking spaces, this whole discusison of cyclists vs motor traffic seems silly.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

L street - i will allow the mods to determine if I am posting too much. You neednt trouble yourself over that.

Ed F - from the discussion on the film and elsewhere, the van is there regularly. Not a tourist visiting.

The driver was not present. Its not the obligation of the cyclist to interrupt their commute to go searching for the van driver. especially as I suspect he's already experienced how personal dispute resolution works on this issue.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

LStreet,

Jim Sebastian, Mike Goodno and Associate DDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe showed preliminary data from the ongoing L Street study that showed that over the last 6 months since the cycle-track was installed, biking on L Street was up 41% (560 cyclists during the 8 hours of rush hour, up from 396).

And that's just 1/3 of the day.

by David C on Nov 22, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

Well in 2010, 9300 people rode their bikes to work daily (which means A: more people rode their bikes since not everyone rides to work and B: that's potentially 9300 less cars on the road).

Now, the L street cycletrack may be underused (probably not though, and the complaints aren't stemming from the fact that more people should be using it anyway) but then it's a relatively simple fix of putting more cycle tracks in where they are more heavily used.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

"If you can't maneuver around parked cars, then I'd suggest another mode of transportation. "

if a car is parked on wide sidewalk, any pedestrian will be able to maneuver around them. Or if someone just decides to park in the general travel lanes.

This is silly. PArking in the cycle track is a big issue -at first it was frequent enough to almost render it unuseable, IIUC. That has changed through enforcement, mostly due to the efforts of cyclists. real, beneficial change has happened. Unless you WANT the track to become unuesable again, I dont see how you can object to the efforts cyclists have taken.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

Bill the Wanderer, L Street -- 1000000 times out of 1000001 I advocate for just moving along, but sometimes you get frustrated, just as motor vehicle operators do. E.g., when someone pulls over to make a call and stops in the bike lane when they could just as easily pull over to an open spot to the right, etc.

I say stuff at times. I try to be better about not swearking though.

E.g., the Blair Road- New Hampshire Ave. intersection is one of the worst in the city I think in terms of drivers on NH blocking the box, sometimes forcing Blair Road drivers to miss one or more traffic cycles.

I used to swear at them. Now I don't, but I admonish them. At least, as you point out, on bicycle I am still able to maneuver through the intersection, while motor vehicle operators can't.

by Richard Layman on Nov 22, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

@Bill the Wanderer
If somebody was spraying graffiti on the side of my building, and I chose to report it to the police, would that also be 'escalating the situation'? Or could it be 'acting in a community-oriented way'? Obviously I could just look the other way and ignore that minor act of lawlessness too.

These word-games about 'escalating the situation' only serve to justify law-breaking behavior from one group, which comes at the expense of another group. It's a deeply political act. Please stop trying to pass it off as 'live and let live' because that is not what it is at all.

@L street
The number of cyclists versus cars is irrelevant. The guy shouldn't have been parked there, and Fred&Fran were out of order heckling the cyclist.

by renegade09 on Nov 22, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

LStreet,
Again, what is your point?
You never seem to come up with any sort of premise for whatever argument you're trying to make and you throw out unreferenced stats[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Ben on Nov 22, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

The fact that the head of one of the nation's most influential right wing groups jumps to the conclusion that the person reporting the van has "never worked a day in [his] life," provides rarely *candid* insight into the right's instinctive dismissal of those who make different same lifestyles decisions (in this case, cycling versus luxury car driving) than they do.

by vz on Nov 22, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

btw CEI DOES have a position on biking and liveability

its not surprising

http://cei.org/citations/politics-transportation

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

Marc Scribner writes a lot of anti-bike funding stuff for them.

by David C on Nov 22, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

And that's just 1/3 of the day.

..on what is a pretty poorly designed facility..in it's first year of operation.

The cyclist escalated the situation because he could have just as easily swerved around.

No, that's not safe cycling.

Let the cop police on simple infractions like that

It would be outstanding if they did their jobs and ticketed people. However, as anyone that uses the track regularly will note, MPD doesn't ticket and barely seems to care.

If you can't maneuver around parked cars, then I'd suggest another mode of transportation.

Why is the obligation on the law-abiding citizen to put herself in harms way? The track is quite clearly not meant to park in..it's for cycling. As a self-professed libertarian, you should recognize that your rights don't trump anyone else's..especially when you're the one breaking the law. Also, swerving in and out of traffic is, once again, quite dangerous.

by thump on Nov 22, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

I'm pretty sure the Highway Trust Fund isn't going broke because of bike lanes, but because the costs of building and maintaining infrastructure for cars and trucks is shockingly expensive. So expensive that if we could find a way to increase overall carrying capacity, even if by only a few percent, in a way that was cheaper than building the road capacity for that couple of percent, well, then, a real conservative would leap to support that.

Right?

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Tina on Nov 22, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

I think I saw a cyclist run a stop sign earlier that day in NE, so this is totally justified.

by Crickey7

That was me, and I will do it again, again, and again

by NE John on Nov 22, 2013 3:57 pm • linkreport

I listened pretty carefully and couldn't hear "the two begin screaming at him." Screaming?

by bjsmith on Nov 22, 2013 4:05 pm • linkreport

@ L St

"There are 49 times the number of vehicles on DC streets than bicycles every day, so lets not pretend its "all" these cyclists, and "a few" drivers. It is really about, what is the least objectionable, or have the least impact for the greatest number of people. That stretch of road gets ~15K vehicles a day, versus the few hundred bike a day that use it."

When this video was made there was certainly not 49 times as many drivers. Also, when you make a utilitarian calculus, you need to account for HOW people are affected, not just HOW MANY. Cyclists tend to be fewer, but in many cases the physical risk to the cyclist will be much more than to a motorist, and that needs to be taken into account.

"This cyclist (as they all love to remind everyone) had equal right to use any of the other travel lanes, but he decided to out himself as an entitled juvenile and escalate the situation."

I guess that makes the van driver an entitled adult then?

Escalating the situation would be keying the van. Reporting a violation of the law, which in practical terms is hindering the purpose that DC implemented the infrastructure, is just being civil.

by onelasttime on Nov 22, 2013 4:07 pm • linkreport

If we were going to argue that the number of people being transported was the only relevant factor then literally everyone should be forced to take transit...

by BTA on Nov 22, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport

What number would I call if I were to report things like this? 311?

by Jonathan on Nov 22, 2013 4:15 pm • linkreport

Oh, and I can't help but laugh that one of the strongest pieces of evidence in favor of the "bicyclists are a privileged class" is access to sidewalks.

by onelasttime on Nov 22, 2013 4:15 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity
Unless you WANT the track to become unuesable again, I dont see how you can object to the efforts cyclists have taken.
The van parked in a travel lane, he should have been towed immediately. That said, I don't use the cycletrack because of the salmoning bicyclists. I cycle on the right side of the street, usually taking a whole car lane. Seems to me that works better on 30 and below speed limit streets.

@Richard Layman
I advocate for just moving along, but sometimes you get frustrated
So do I. I got really mad when cut off on my 1980 CB750F supersport, in fact that's why I had to quit motorcycling all together. But I drive very slow in my toyota, and my driving used to cause alot of people to honk behind me and pass me on the parking lane, I used to honk back, now I don't care. There was a Fedex truck on North Capitol, parked in the right travel lane, just yesterday with traffic backed up half a block, I just waited patiently to pass him, and I didn't pull over and call 911 to report it. If I get home safely and with no car damage, I WIN!

@renegade09
...which comes at the expense of another group. It's a deeply political act.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I don't think this was a personal vendetta against all bicyclists of the world, if it was it wasn't very effective. Some guy in Portland was sprinkling roofing nails on the bike paths, now that is more of a targeted attack. Elaborate as to why you think this was political?

@vz
...one of the nation's most influential right wing

LOL, getting a little ahead of ourselves are we??? I tend to think I absorb more and more libertarian philosophy everyday, I've never come across this man or his institute. Anybody can start a think tank you just need a big ego....google "Gregg Edwards, Academy for Advanced & Strategic Studies"

@thump
No, that's not safe cycling.
Being able to adapt to changing driving/cycling conditions is what every cyclist/driver should be skilled in, if not they are a danger to themselves and everybody around them. Seeing a stopped vehicle in front of you should never cause a cyclist to panic, if it does, then I'm sorry the cyclist is like a baby with a loaded gun.

MPD doesn't ticket and barely seems to care.
Agreed wholeheartedly.

Also, swerving in and out of traffic is, once again, quite dangerous
changing lanes is quite safe for the one performing the maneuver and those around them.
As a self-professed libertarian...
The end game of the philosophy would be the road would be privatized and whomever owned the road could make up the rules, maybe the national coalition of unicyclists could buy up K street when it goes to the auction house.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Bill the Wanderer on Nov 22, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

Imagine the immense amount of vitriol, noise, and property destruction that would occur should a cyclist park his bike in a car lane in order to do something for a few minutes.

I was yelled at by a motorist for waiting to make a safe (and legal) left hand turn at an intersection where a car had to wait behind me for 5 seconds.

by engrish_major on Nov 22, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

I had two separate cars zoom around me (into the oncoming lane) on Park recently to get a few feet closer to the cars ahead of me stopped at the light at 14th...

by BTA on Nov 22, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

Why give these two global warming fraudsters any time of day? Laugh at them and move on (of course, after calling for the ticketing maids)

by NE John on Nov 22, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

"Imagine the immense amount of vitriol, noise, and property destruction that would occur should a cyclist park his bike in a car lane in order to do something for a few minutes."

And rightfully so, for the same reason that it's rude for a motorist to go 15 on a 30 but not a cyclist.

by onelasttime on Nov 22, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

BTA, the glory of that is passing to the front while at the light, and then proceeding through it while they wait. hee hee hee

by NE John on Nov 22, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Indeed. The effects of someone parking in a bike lane because they're lazy are the same as the effects of someone parking in the bike lane because they have a vendetta: it's illegal and a cyclist could get killed.

Either way, the call was justified.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 22, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

@onelasttime: "And rightfully so, for the same reason that it's rude for a motorist to go 15 on a 30 but not a cyclist"

But, congruous to the comments in this thread, the motorists can just go around the parked bike in the other lane.

by engrish_major on Nov 22, 2013 4:34 pm • linkreport

Oh I did and as I recall it was a convertible, so I said something like "excuse me while I pass" or something while they were waiting at the light. Probably not the most profound barb, but it felt good.

by BTA on Nov 22, 2013 4:40 pm • linkreport

@engrish major

Let's say it's a one lane road then. I think you see the point. Chances are, it will take very little effort on the cyclists part to place the bike on the far side or the sidewalk, just as it takes little effort to drive 30 instead of 15.

by onelasttime on Nov 22, 2013 4:42 pm • linkreport

Let's say it's a one lane road then. I think you see the point.

Which the van in the original story was doing to anyone on a bike.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

Think I'll have to walk by that spot on my way home tonight.

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

Without getting into the right or wrongness of Fred and Fran’s actions here I just wanted to clarify some things:

1. CEI is libertarian/free market, *not* conservative.

2. CEI is not a global warming denier (just happen to disagree on what should/shouldn't be done about it)

3. I think the point they were trying to make (maybe not in the most cogent way) was that the gentleman on the bike didn't need to call the cops in order to address his problem with the van owner. *Reminder--he is a libertarian* so, I think he was lamenting the fact that people these days seem to immediately jump to a "call the cops" or "they should make a law about that" mentality when they encounter anything they don't like.

4. The gentleman on the bike almost certainly does work; otherwise he wouldn't have been able to afford that very expensive camera.

5. Bike lanes, as the video shows, make cycling in the city MORE dangerous—not less. They ought to consider themselves vehicles on the road and yes, drivers ought to treat them that way.

6. The two people Fred tried to "rope in" were people he knew.

Lastly, I'd just like to address the issue of money. For the folks here calling Fred the "monopoly guy," (there is a resemblance I'll give you that) and implying he's some rich fat cat: Fred and Fran have lived in DC for more than 30 years--in some of the roughest neighborhoods. Both have worked tirelessly during that time fighting for the principles they believe in.

by FriendofCEI on Nov 22, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

@FriendofCEI: "I think the point they were trying to make (maybe not in the most cogent way) was that the gentleman on the bike didn't need to call the cops in order to address his problem with the van owner."

I didn't get that impression. It seems from the video that he simply believes incorrectly that the van was not doing anything wrong.

by engrish_major on Nov 22, 2013 4:52 pm • linkreport

If CEI is libertarian then why are the heads of it trying to support driving as much as possible when it relies on so much more subsidies relative to a cyclist?

Bike lanes, as the video shows, make cycling in the city MORE dangerous—not less. They ought to consider themselves vehicles on the road and yes, drivers ought to treat them that way.

Bike lanes make more cyclists. This increases the number of crashes but the rate of cyclist accidents goes down relative to the increase in cycling overall. At least, that is what has happened in other cities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycling_in_Copenhagen#Safety

and

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/06/26/how-to-make-new-yorks-cyclists-safer/

and

).

The cyclist wasn't calling the cops, he was availing himself of the resources provided to him by the company that employs the driver. That's a market response.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 4:59 pm • linkreport

Wait, my mistake. I was thinking of a different story where someone called the number on the back of the van.

Still, if the van is recognized as being there often then maybe the dude just needs a ticket.

by drumz on Nov 22, 2013 5:02 pm • linkreport

Ahhh, libertarians. Every man for himself!

by NE John on Nov 22, 2013 5:02 pm • linkreport

I watched the video. The anti-cyclist animosity leaps off the screen.

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 5:04 pm • linkreport

also known as anarchy

by NE John on Nov 22, 2013 5:04 pm • linkreport

Awesome that the camera pans to a biker safely going around the van without an issue. Exactly what Rob should have done.

by neverworkedadayinherlife on Nov 22, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

" CEI is libertarian/free market, *not* conservative."

On issues related to transport, climate etc, I dont see any particular difference.

"2. CEI is not a global warming denier (just happen to disagree on what should/shouldn't be done about it)"

Here is what Mr Smith said in 2006

"We know that there are these elaborate computer models that have never been right before, may be right this time, that suggest climate changes, possibly good, possibly bad. Most of the indications right now are it looks pretty good. "

So he avoids commiting to denialism, but strongly implies that climate models are wrong. Then he goes to the next step of denialism - claiming that warming is probably a net good. At least that latter is not purely absurd science - its a mix of absurd agronomy, absurd economics, etc.

"3. I think the point they were trying to make (maybe not in the most cogent way) was that the gentleman on the bike didn't need to call the cops in order to address his problem with the van owner. *Reminder--he is a libertarian* so, I think he was lamenting the fact that people these days seem to immediately jump to a "call the cops" or "they should make a law about that" mentality when they encounter anything they don't like."

But there is no question what the law currently. I thought libertarians supported the enforcement of existing laws. Otherwise they seem little different from anarchists. Indeed, libertarians generally support calling the cops in defense of the right to property. Mr Smith may not like that cyclists, collectively, have in essence a property right in the bike lane (at least against drivers, if not against the state) but they do.

Some libertarians I guess prefer that people defend their rights with their own weapons, rather than calling on LE. Imagine that in this instance.

"5. Bike lanes, as the video shows, make cycling in the city MORE dangerous—not less. They ought to consider themselves vehicles on the road and yes, drivers ought to treat them that way."

Studies have shown that well designed cycle tracks do NOT do that. The danger here is not due to the design of the track, but due to non-enforcement. BTW its also the case that cycle tracks and even less well designed bike lanes do increase the number of cyclists, which ultimately improves bike safety.

"Fred and Fran have lived in DC for more than 30 years--in some of the roughest neighborhoods."

IE they have a lot of equity in their house. They are successful gentrifiers. thats not really that rare in DC, nor does it make you poor.

"Both have worked tirelessly during that time fighting for the principles they believe in."

Not uncommon for ideologues. In the case of CEI they have done so with funding from Scaife Foundations, Exxon Mobil, the Ford Motor Company Fund, Pfizer, Amoco Foundation, Inc., FMC Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Koch Family Foundations (including the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, and Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation),, Philip Morris Companies, Inc., and Texaco, Inc. (Texaco Foundation).

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 5:07 pm • linkreport

@neverworkedadayinherlife
Squeezing inbetween the bollards, traffic, and the door zone of the parked van is hardly what I would classify as a safe and recommended situation.

by engrish_major on Nov 22, 2013 5:08 pm • linkreport

"Awesome that the camera pans to a biker safely going around the van without an issue. Exactly what Rob should have done. "

everyone makes their own choices. I think there should be less parking in bike lanes, and what Rob did was publicly minded. I can't fault someone who chose not to put themselves out that way though.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2013 5:09 pm • linkreport

FriendofCEI:
I do not understand your defense of Fred. The cyclist tried to report a van that was dangerously and illegally parked, and are heckled by Fred and Fran who accuse him of hating cars, never working a day in his life, illegally riding on the sidewalk, etc etc.

Libertarians do agree on certain government functions, including mediating resource allocation according to law. Like driving on the right hand side, not parking on i95, and not driving in the bike lane.

by SJE on Nov 22, 2013 5:25 pm • linkreport

If the striped part is the bike lane, then what are all the plastic poles for? Slalom practice??

Let's face it, there's going to be a bipartisan consensus that ol' Fred has made a jackass of himself here. I have a feeling that this video is going to join the Breitbart 'behave yourself!!' and the Rabinowitz 'all-powerful bike lobby' in an 'America's Dumbest'-style show-reel of ranting right-wingers. What is it about right-wingers and bikes? Don't they see that riding your bike is an expression of freedom? And being able to do so without risking death is an even greater liberty?

Speaking of freedom, isn't it great that we are commenting on some guy commenting on some guy commenting on some guys' parking job? And the thread is over 100 comments! Awesome commentary!

by renegade09 on Nov 22, 2013 5:27 pm • linkreport

I'm still kind of stunned at the logic that because no one was killed riding around the van, it must be safe.

By that logic, Russian Roulette is perfectly safe 5 out of 6 times.

by Crickey7 on Nov 22, 2013 5:37 pm • linkreport

"Awesome that the camera pans to a biker safely going around the van without an issue. Exactly what Rob should have done."

The biker going safely around appears to have been going straight; Rob said he was turning left and almost hit the van. It's easier to take the lane and go around when you're going straight. The van technically shouldn't be in the bike lane at all, but at the very least the driver could have been more cognizant of bike traffic.

When I'm on a bike or in a car, I try to have some patience for delivery drivers, cabbies, paratransit drivers, and other people whose job involves having to stop a lot on city streets. I imagine they take more crap than I do, and things aren't set up well for them, either.

So I take the lane and go around (in no small part because I'm lazy, and calling the cops takes effort and waiting around). But it's possible to distinguish between people who are violating traffic laws while trying to minimize what they're doing, and people who aren't.

by whetstone on Nov 22, 2013 5:38 pm • linkreport

Here is how Smith sees himself in his online bio: "Founder and Chairman
Mr. Smith combines intellectual and strategic analysis of complex policy issues ranging from the environment to corporate governance with an informative and entertaining presentation style." Entertaining...or off the hook aggressive?

by Jooltman on Nov 22, 2013 6:07 pm • linkreport

@Jooltman
His behavior certainly makes more sense when viewed as a form of performance art.

by renegade09 on Nov 22, 2013 6:18 pm • linkreport

@DCDenizen brought up an excellent point about 50 comments ago about the new traffic cameras. Can't we just set up traffic cameras along a couple key blocks of the cycle track and send out photo enforcement tickets to anybody parking in the lane or driving in the lane? Just automate the whole damned thing.

by ShawGuy on Nov 22, 2013 6:22 pm • linkreport

To step back and look at the big picture: why do people double park in the first place? Well, some (like possibly this flower vendor) just don't care about inconveniencing other people.

But most people double park because there aren't any free parking spots nearby and for whatever reason they need/really want to park close.

And why aren't there any free parking spots nearby? Because parking is underpriced.

Implement performance parking that's priced at a level that keeps 20% of on street parking unoccupied at any time, and you'll practically eliminate double parking. If it's important and fast enough to double park for, it's important and fast enough to pay a higher price for. Voila, no more parking in the bike lane OR the general travel lane!

If Mr. Smith is really a libertarian, he should be all over this. Somehow, I have my doubts.

by Erica on Nov 22, 2013 6:33 pm • linkreport

These are terrible people. Just nasty.

by Curtis on Nov 22, 2013 7:28 pm • linkreport

I don't call myself a cyclist, but I do ride everyday. I can honestly say that in addition to all the positive experiences biking has given me, riding has also provided me with some slight insight as to what minorities experience on a daily basis. And it sucks.

Of course there are some cyclists who break laws, are inconsiderate, and who act irresponsibly. I've been known to ride through a red light...after stopping. Same as I'd do if I were on foot. But on the whole I maintain that I ride very responsibly. Point is you can't judge a whole group on the actions of some.

There is one very important difference between being of a minority race or religion versus being a person who rides a bike: anyone can get on a bike and experience this kind of discrimination.

So to those of you who hate people who ride, shut up and go try it. You'll change your tune quickly. And you'll want to ride again.

by Skylorjane on Nov 22, 2013 8:09 pm • linkreport

What these people do for a living is to take huge amounts of money from people like the Koch bros to post lies about global warming.

They are absolutely dreadful people. They lie and smear honest scientists and they do it for money.

by PHB on Nov 22, 2013 9:21 pm • linkreport

Obviously his politics matter because 1) berating people for wanting bike lane enforcement is his politics and 2), as AWITC pointed out, people with his politics are carrying out a concerted campaign of maligning cycling, cyclists, and any policy supportive of a balanced transportation network. This berating is a politics that oppose bike lanes in the first place and opposes them every time and in every way. In other words, his politics is the story, not just because many on the 'small government' right love to see cyclists in anguish over the state's decision to prioritize driving over nonmotorized transport, but PRIMARILY BECAUSE the think tank couple BROUGHT THEIR POLITICS INTO IT by immediately making all their usual political jibes about liberals wanting some kind of handout ( e.g. "Not working a day in his life" or whatever). Law enforcement and traffic enforcement shouldn't be political. Perhaps the think tank couple honestly don't know where the bike lane is? Or perhaps the think tank couple hust saw the bike lane enforcement question as a political one from the first moment, for whatever reason? I'd guess the latter.

by Solution giver on Nov 22, 2013 10:24 pm • linkreport

" I can honestly say that in addition to all the positive experiences biking has given me, riding has also provided me with some slight insight as to what minorities experience on a daily basis."
----
Emphasis on "slight".

Trust me, you will NEVER know "what minorities experience on a daily basis" until you live in our skin.

by ceefer66 on Nov 22, 2013 10:45 pm • linkreport

I don't understand how they know the driver, and he's "always" out there working on the flowers -- but he has NY plates? How about DMV investigate him for illegal out of state plates!

by DC on Nov 22, 2013 10:49 pm • linkreport

@FriendofCEI
Reminder--he is a libertarian* so, I think he was lamenting the fact that people these days seem to immediately jump to a "call the cops" or "they should make a law about that" mentality when they encounter anything they don't like.

This statement completely contradicts Fran's retort that she would report the cyclist for riding on the sidewalk (which he did not do) as revenge for his reporting of the van. Clearly, when she encountered something she didn't like, "calling the cops" was the first thing that came to mind.

The irony is that you're correct. A true libertarian would not look to call the cops as the first answer to a situation. That's what makes them hypocrites.

by Falls Church on Nov 22, 2013 11:01 pm • linkreport

Trust me, you will NEVER know "what minorities experience on a daily basis" until you live in our skin

And, you won't know what cyclists experience on a daily basis until you spend some time getting around by bike.

by Falls Church on Nov 22, 2013 11:09 pm • linkreport

changing lanes is quite safe for the one performing the maneuver and those around them.

Changing lanes is statistically more likely to result in an accident than going straight. The increase in risk is a statistical fact and we should eliminate unnecessary risk from the roadway. That's why in situations where an accident would be devastating like a bridge or tunnel, you're often not allowed to change lanes.

by Falls Church on Nov 22, 2013 11:21 pm • linkreport

Yeah, I wish people would mind their own business, starting with that pathetic man.

by Chrysoprase on Nov 22, 2013 11:50 pm • linkreport

I used to talk to that guy about bike lanes when I worked in that building (he would see me come into the building after putting my bike away). He thought it was unfair that the 15th St cycletrack took away car lanes. Not sure how his idea that the government should allow only the most deadly and destructive users (i.e. motorists) on the road fits in with his crazy beliefs. But he's probably had a lot of practice coming up with rationales for his ridiculous views.

By they way, that exact turn (19th St to L St) is something I did hundreds of times, and vehicles parked on the corner were unexpected and especially dangerous. Once, a private security car was reversing in the bike lane on that corner and actually hit me and would have run me over had I not slammed on the trunk.

by Rob on Nov 23, 2013 3:03 am • linkreport

11:59 spam bro, you got it all wrong. By doing what you suggest, the van driver or owner is given an excuse to get even themselves, which then, by your logic, would be a cause for retaliation from the cyclist. They won't just learn their lesson about parking if they get two flat tires.
Having the van get towed as a result of just one phone call, with the potential for fines, time wasted in court, and job loss, these ends are not achieved through petty vandalism. It's not even cool to do it in full view of the van driver and lobbyist couple.

by JimmyZ on Nov 23, 2013 6:13 am • linkreport

Fred makes multiple assumptions about Rob, saying he "hasn't worked a day in his life"

This statement is pretty rich coming from someone with a corporate-funded sinecure at a fraudulent think tank.

by Tyro on Nov 23, 2013 7:06 am • linkreport

Motor vehicles will never be considered a legitimate form of transportation if their drivers don't start obeying the laws.

by stairbob on Nov 23, 2013 7:51 am • linkreport

@stairbob - "Motor vehicles will never be considered a legitimate form of transportation if their drivers don't start obeying the laws"

Ding, ding, ding we have a winner!!!

by DaveG on Nov 23, 2013 8:11 am • linkreport

Oil companies want us all to drive more (which is why they support the global warming deniers like CEI), so that's one reason why Mr. Smith is so anti-bike (whether he realizes it or not). Now, many of you here will say to me, "Duh, Captain Obvious!!" But it makes perfect sense when one thinks about it.

by DaveG on Nov 23, 2013 8:49 am • linkreport

I'm with Dan on this one. Calling them out by name and mentioning their think tank by name, including the preposterous position that they hold, is absolutely relevant to the video. If for no other reason, it helps contextualize Fred's comments about "not working a day", etc., which would otherwise seem like total non sequiturs.

The irony of a free marketer encouraging a system that caters only to one interest group is also worth noting.

Finally, his climate change denier status colors his anti-bike commentary with some additional meaning.

Interesting video and nice write up by Dan Reed.

Now can we get back to the purpose of talking about how we should all learn to live together in a future of increasing population density?

by Mark on Nov 23, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

@AWC,

"Trust me, you will NEVER know "what minorities experience on a daily basis" until you live in our skin

And, you won't know what cyclists experience on a daily basis until you spend some time getting around by bike."
-------

THIS from the person who tried to lecture me about "false equivalency" last spring.

Priceless. And clueless.

by ceefer66 on Nov 23, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

Quick FYI: The commenter "Rob" at 3:03 is not the same Rob from the video.

by atlas on Nov 23, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

@ceefer

1) That was my comment, not AWITC's

2) Seriously, you can't imagine that the reality of cycling around on city streets is difficult to understand without spending some time in the shoes of a cyclist? That seems totally far-fetched and absurd to you?

3) I'm not saying being a racial minority is equivalent to being a cyclist but as a racial minority myself, I'd agree there are similarities. In fact, you prove the point by consistently failing to understand what it's like to cycle around heavily traveled streets as someone who's never had that experience.

by Falls Church on Nov 23, 2013 1:12 pm • linkreport

Ceefer, I agree with you, but I think your comment was unnecessarily off putting and perhaps rude. There were 1000 better ways to say that. Ways that would not be designed to diminish what was a real attempt at empathy. I don't know what you're goal was, but if it was to come off as someone with issues to work out and a chip on your shoulder, you succeeded.

by David C on Nov 23, 2013 1:31 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church

Fair point.
It may not be their greatest moment, but they are great people. I'd hate to be judged by any 2 minute video someone took of me. Of course, I understand people doing that on the internet.

by FriendofCEI on Nov 23, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church,

I stand corrected. Thanks.

@AWIC,

My apologies for the false accusation - but not for calling you out.

@David C,

My "issue" is with the insensitivity and sense of entitlement that would motivate any intelligent person to even think of equating getting razzed while riding a bicycle in city traffic (a personal choice) with what one has to endure simply because of their origin (something one has no control over).

And quite frankly, anyone who can't see the difference isn't going to be educated by anything I can say within the scope of GGW's comments policy.

I'll leave it that.

by ceefer66 on Nov 23, 2013 3:10 pm • linkreport

don't feed into berating and being negative to the couple in this video. If you're going to spend energy, spend energy adopting a peaceful, positive, and informative message. Don't spend energy tracking down an old couple and making their lives harder just because you don't see eye to eye. street bickering happens all the time anyway. some people just have steam to blow off.

by hector on Nov 23, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

Escalation in thought patterns is an affliction found in terrorists and many people in society. Some day this will be viewed as mental illness.

by Commuted on Nov 23, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

But he didn't equate them. He said it gave him sligt insight. Emphasis on slight. That's not equating. Equating them would be to say that the harassment one receives while riding a bicycle is exactly the same as the discrimination a minority experiences. That would be ridiculous if someone said that. He didn't. You are being overly sensitive.

by David C on Nov 23, 2013 5:36 pm • linkreport

If you think an analogy doesn't work then just say so and make sure to stick to the issue rather than dissecting the analogy.

Cyclists in this town have been working fr years to get basic infrastructure, lip service from city government and at least a recognition from police that the risks they face are real and that there are actual laws relating to driving and cycling. Yet just by virtue of riding a bike, many face huge risks and sometimes outright hostility just because some people think that someone riding bike actually makes the world a little bit worse.

by Drumz on Nov 23, 2013 6:23 pm • linkreport

So if a cyclist breaks the law then you hear "why are we building these bike lanes?" And if they follow the law and indeed just demonstrate that they know it, all of a sudden lectures about how "real" people don't need bike lanes.

by Drumz on Nov 23, 2013 6:26 pm • linkreport

While the couple in the video certainly deserves the pile-on, keep in mind that CEI was the organization that commissioned me to slam the Federal Railroad Administration over their unsafe and backwards buff strength safety rules. Don't paint them with too wide a brush.

by David Edmondson on Nov 23, 2013 6:50 pm • linkreport

Good point David. I'll also point out that the Nazis put on one heck of an Olympics.

by David C on Nov 23, 2013 6:55 pm • linkreport

Godwin's law wins again!

by Ms. Rouso on Nov 23, 2013 11:56 pm • linkreport

It seems a different way to read the objection they're making here -- and one I have some sympathy for -- is that one hopes to live in a community where calling the police isn't the FIRST resort in every case of social conflict where one party has the technical right to do so. Most of us probably unwittingly commit half a dozen tiny infractions in a given week. Obviously when these inconvenience others and someone is intransigent and unreasonable even after the problem is pointed out, formal enforcement has to be available as an ultimate recourse. But there is something distasteful about the mindset that doesn't even pause at "how can we work this out like civilized people?" on the way to "I'm telling!" Maybe, as others say, this guy is some constant offender, but if you don't KNOW that, it seems sort of unconscionable that you'd resort to police without even trying to talk to the person first.

by Julian on Nov 24, 2013 1:42 am • linkreport

Julian, I disagree.

If the cops were doing their job efficiently, these scofflaws would be ticketed more frequently and without taxpaying citizens of DC having to resort to proxy as the cops' supervisors.

Parking in a bike lane is as bad as, if not worse than parking on a busy sidewalk.

by NE John on Nov 24, 2013 8:42 am • linkreport

I believe that CEI and the Smiths follow and believe in the policing and economic theories of William Bratton (based on a search of CEI archives"). Well one of William Bratton's best manner in lowering crime rates, building communities, strengthening local business, and increasing property values was to place "quality of life" at the highest level for residents, visitors, and business owners. This was by utilizing law enforcement to handle the smallest and most trivial calls, the "broken windows". This did not mean fining or locking up everyone, but having the police respond, document, and track these issues and deal with them in a progressive (oh no, the dirty word: progressive!) manner.

My point, is that by cyclist calling on the little things. The pedestrians calling on the little things. The drivers calling on the little things. The residents, visitors, and business owners calling on the little things, that the scofflaws will be less likely to violate the law, thus infringing on the quality of life of others will be reduced.

Yes, this cyclist could have spoken to the van driver/owner.....in a perfect world would have been fine, but, we all know how those conversations most likely will go. The police can be a mediator in situations like this. They should be able to assist the driver and the cyclists to find a manner to prevent further issues or if one side does not want to do that, then to use laws and fines to make it work. As a libertarian and wanting to see less waste in government, wouldn't Mr. and Mrs. Smith want to see their tax dollars going to remedy an on going situation?

by jKook on Nov 24, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

Climate change may be beside the point of the article, but it’s not outside the scope. A goal CEI is to frustrate, stall and fight any proposals that can have a significant climate change impact. Its press releases and statements are filled with anger and fury over anything the administration proposes. It appears in complete denial about the danger facing humanity. That its leaders might be angry over moves to make streets safer for bicyclist (and help the environment) would not surprise me at all.

But I have agree that the 17th Street bike lane may be confusing. It is wide, and the green painted area to the right could be misinterpreted. I see vehicles pull into those lanes all the time doing the exact same thing.

If I were the biker here, I would have just continued on. I have close calls on my bike all the time, and the only real remedy is to spend the energy these incidents may create by advocating for safety improvements. Blood pressure raising confrontations accomplish absolutely nothing.

by kob on Nov 24, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

Kob: This is not the 17th. Does 17th st even have a bike lane?

Also, the cyclist did not confront anyone here. On the contrary, he kept his distance and called the authorities to report an illegally parked vehicle.

by Atlas on Nov 24, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport

"many face huge risks and sometimes outright hostility just because some people think that someone riding bike actually makes the world a little bit worse."
----

That's not the same as being called the n-word just for showing up.

Or being profiled and gunned down for the same reason - like Trayvon Martin.

Like I said, you people don't understand. You're trivializing what so-called minorities live with from the day they're born. And The problem is not with me for pointing that out.

end of story.

by ceefer66 on Nov 24, 2013 1:21 pm • linkreport

This jerks Twitter is @fredlsmithjr . Let him know how you feel.

by Bike Haters Suck on Nov 24, 2013 2:21 pm • linkreport

This guys Twitter is @fredlsmithjr . Let him know how you feel.

by Bike Haters Suck on Nov 24, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

@Bill the Wanderer
How is reporting something 'escalating the situation'? Reporting something illegal is what good citizens should do;the police can't be everywhere. And then you go on to say the cyclist should've just ridden around the illegally parked van. So law-abiding citizens should defer to/accommodate law-breakers? Srsly,this is how you think the world should work?

by dynaryder on Nov 24, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure the commingling of bicycles and cars on L st is such a great idea. I've biked it 5 days a week for about two months, I've had to swerve twice to avoid being hit, and I've been yelled at by cabby for scratching his cab (I never made contact - he was in the bike lane).

There must be a better solution. At least in Portland, there are courteous drivers.

by Nash Rambler on Nov 24, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

Ceefer,

And now your moving away from the issue by focusing on the aptness of an analogy rather than the issue. Not to forget that the original analogy was in solidarity with minorities, or the fact that minorities also bike, and other cyclists who are white also recognize and combat their own privelege.

But halting any progress in the conversation until someone takes back an analogy you think is inappropriate (I do too but fwiw, but I'm also interested in making it easier to bike anyway) kind of helps anyone who'd rather not see more cyclists in the city (see: all the complaints that the cyclist didn't "need" to contact police, that the cyclist should've just dealt with it, etc and as nauseam).

by Drumz on Nov 24, 2013 5:45 pm • linkreport

Funny that this guy would paint all cyclists as "hippy liberal car-hating tree huggers". Here in Southern California (Please don't say "cali", it sounds stupid) a lot of the roadies I encounter are moderate to "where's the birth certificate" conservatives who haul their $6k Pinnarelo's around racked to the back of their Suburban. Personally, I drive a car, but bike because I enjoy it, in addition to being "carbon footprint" conscious. I am not a liberal. I'm just someone who understands the science, and the implications, of putting millions of years worth of solar energy stored in fossil hydrocarbons back into the atmosphere.

by dave on Nov 25, 2013 9:34 am • linkreport

"@AWIC,

My apologies for the false accusation - but not for calling you out."

For calling me out on what?

"My "issue" is with the insensitivity and sense of entitlement that would motivate any intelligent person to even think of equating getting razzed while riding a bicycle in city traffic (a personal choice) with what one has to endure simply because of their origin (something one has no control over)."

Im curious, do you think discriminating against someone based on their religious beliefs or practice is okay? I am not saying cycling is the same as a persecuted religion, but its never been the case in this country that discrimination and harassment have been considered uniquely serious when it applies to something one is born with and has no control over. Is that what you are proposing?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 25, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

If the cyclist does not report the illegally parked vehicle to the police, then DDOT and the police will not know how frequently this happens. It also shows that cyclists are interested in protecting their infrastructure.

It seems like drivers do not realize the danger they are putting cyclists in by forcing them to go out in to traffic. Maybe some signs informing/reminding drivers of these dangers is appropriate? Also, maybe a stiff penalty for parking in the lanes is appropriate? Perhaps a $500 fine on the first offense?

I wonder what the police do in this situation. Do they simply ticket the driver or do they tow the car? I would think if the police, indeed the DC government, wanted to ensure the safety of cyclists, they would want to remove the vehicle from the bike lane as soon as possible or setup a detour for bikes until the vehicle is moved.

It also seems like policy makers in this country treat bicyclists as a group they have to minimally satisfy instead of a group of people to embrace who are trying to use and promote efficient transportation. Things like this make me want to move to another country which has good public transportation and bike infrastructure.

by Derrick on Nov 25, 2013 1:34 pm • linkreport

@Ms. Rouso - "Godwin's law wins again!"

The same could be said any time anyone name-calls anyone else as a Communist, Socialist, etc. Godwin's Law should be expanded to include these other sorts of labels. Reductio ad absurdum.

by DaveG on Nov 26, 2013 6:11 am • linkreport

Man famous for being an out-of-touch, self-entitled, elitist d-bag behaves like an out-of-touch, self-entitled, elitist d-bag. Film at 11.

Seriously Fred Smith makes public fool of self is slightly less newsworthy than dog bites man

by Jacob on Nov 26, 2013 9:36 pm • linkreport

Although parking the van there is obviously wrong, that lane on L street also serves as a vehicle lane for making left turns so technically it's a shared lane. It's different than all of the other bike lanes in DC that I've seen. I've always thought it was a rather poor implementation, the way they did it.

by JB on Nov 27, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

It's not a shared lane. There are places where the lane can be crossed by cars - and those are clearly marked - but nowhere is the lane shared (not even where cars make left turns).

Other than blocking off a lane with parked cars or bollards, I have never seen a bike lane design that keeps drivers from parking in them. Even on 15th, where there are cars blocking it, I've seen cars parked in the bike lane. You can criticize the design if you'd like, but there is no amount of engineering that can keep selfish people from being selfish.

by David C on Nov 27, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

David C- that's standard thinking of a fair number of regional drivers: what's mine is mine, and what's yours is also mine.

PS: Saw an SUV that had slammed into the back of a car this morning, and the SUV driver looked like he was berating the driver of the car that he hit. SOP.

by SJE on Nov 27, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

Illegally parked van gets reported.
His convenience inconvenienced a greater number.
It's selfish and he deserves a ticket.

Big deal. Report violations and maybe some of them get addressed. Including cyclists running reds.

Frankly I'm skilled enough riding in the city that while I think the bike-lane-parking guy is a jerk, the hazard is easily and safely avoided. Yeah, I'll have to look, slow down, possibly wait a few seconds to change lanes.

Usually my time is more valuable than to waste minutes reporting someone. Not always. But pricks should be called out for being pricks now and then, otherwise they get in a rut and are habitual self-righteous pricks.

This works for a LOT of people and behaviors.

Complainers also can be self-righteous, but that complaining isn't illegal.

by YoBaby on Nov 29, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

So... What number should one call to report violations such as this? (Sorry if I missed it in the hundreds of comments above.)

by AT on Dec 12, 2013 11:18 pm • linkreport

Why do they hate us so much?

by Andy on Dec 13, 2013 9:09 pm • linkreport

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