Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links I: Bikes, parks, and parking bikes


Photo by Ruthieki.
Stop it, guys: Many women who ride bikes experience constant harassment from catcalls and even groping. Add together harassment of women with the generalized harassment of cyclists, and women cyclists have it extra tough. Ugh! (TheWashCycle, City Paper)

Truck hit by cyclist, poor truck: A Montgomery County court refused to compensate a cyclist for losing work and suffering major injuries after a truck turned in front of him, too close for him to stop. The court found the cyclists "contributorily negligent" because he hit the truck, and because after weeks of recovery he was able to ride in a triathlon. If a person is running, someone in front of him shoots him with a gun, and he later recovers, is he also contributorily negligent because he hit the bullet? (TheWashCycle)

Congressmen spend more time at the mall than the Mall: The Mall keeps falling apart, the press keeps beating the drum about it, Congressmen keep diverting the money to projects in their home districts, and jerks like House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) keep criticizing spending to repair our nation's most-attended national park as "upkeep [for] the grass on the lawns of Washington." Meanwhile, WTOP points out, Congress keeps the Capitol grounds very well manicured.

Recreation? That's not what parks are for!: Officials at the National Park Service, including NCPC and Zoning Commission representative Peter May, are blocking DC proposals to expand an ice skating rink and create a baseball academy in Fort Dupont Park. (Examiner)

Which neighborhood will get extremely green?: CarbonFreeDC, a DC grassroots campaign to reduce carbon emissions, won a $20,000 grant for its idea, "Extreme Neighborhood Makeover," to green retrofit 20 houses belonging to low-income families. They also discussed this idea at the Policy Greenhouse. (City Renewed)

And...: Metro keeps refusing to allow bikes on trains during rush hour. But what about those empty reverse-direction trains? (Bicycle Transportation Examiner) ... District and DC United officials are talking again about a soccer stadium at Poplar Point (WBJ) ... Philadelphia, Chicago, Oakland, Buffalo, and many other cities that aren't as great as Washington are preserving defunct meters as bike parking much more than we are. (TheWashCycle)

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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The harrassment article is funny, in that the author assumes that 1)They type of people that harrass women on bikes read blogs and 2) They type of people that harrass women on bikes have internet access!

by SA on Jul 27, 2009 8:25 am • linkreport

Okay, I support bicycle commuting as much as anybody but this Metro 'controversy' is just ridiculous. The issue with bikes on train isn't as much an issue of the trains as it is capacity in the stations and elevators. There's already enough trouble, between the racing, privileged staffer types and the large, slow moving tourists still trying to understand the idea of escalators.

by Distantantennas on Jul 27, 2009 8:51 am • linkreport

The truck/bicycle article really doesn't describe the problem very well. From the description it sounds like while the truck may have been majority at fault, the bicyclist shared at least some of the blame, perhaps being able to avoid the truck or some of the damage. Or at least apparently that's what the jury found.

In most states if the bicyclist is partly to blame, as here, then the defendant's liability is reduced proportionately, but not completely. I.e., if the truck is 90% to blame, then the truck pays 90% damages (er, the driver, not the truck). That's fundamentally fair and gives both parties incentives to avoid damage.

Maryland is different, and a bit old-school. There, contributory negligence means *no* recovery for the plaintiff. Most states discarded that doctrine long ago because it was recognized as not being particularly fair.

So, instead of being a story about screwy treatment of bicyclists, it's really a story about a screwy, dated legal doctrine in Maryland.

by ah on Jul 27, 2009 9:08 am • linkreport

The bikes on trains during rush hour is just dumb, dumb, dumb-Even on reverse commute lines. Remember, even assuming all else being equal, reverse commute trains are only "low occupancy" in for half the trip (going into the city, then they are going out). Also, given the sprawl of DC/people going to transfer stations, I don't think the reverse commute exists as much as people think it does. Add that to the station occupancy issue and this is a dead idea.

Personally, I think bikers are being a bit self centered on this one.

by beatbox on Jul 27, 2009 9:30 am • linkreport

It's all part of the GOP war on public spaces... We need some sort of public service campaign to shame your average American into cleaning up their "yard". Something along the lines of:

Paris: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iku/129338347
London: http://www.european-city-parks.com/london/green-park/
US: http://home.gwi.net/~nmooney/images/dc_on_the_mall2.jpg

Of course, in a country where a church is a rusty Quanset Hut, the Croc is considered quite stylish, and where dill-whistles like Cantor have spent decades convincing a generation of Americans that wiping one's ass is some sort of effete French behavior, I'm thinking it's going to be an uphill battle.

by ibc on Jul 27, 2009 10:09 am • linkreport

I'm also going to put myself in the camp of those perfectly content with rush-hour restrictions. First, it's hard enough to draw the lines as to where inbound ends and outbound begins. But also, the stations themselves and the gates can only take so much capacity. If you want exercise, you can go both ways, or do it some other time. If you want to be green, take Metro both ways. Everybody has to compromise here.

by Doug on Jul 27, 2009 10:54 am • linkreport

The condition of the Mall is a travesty. Millions of tourists from around the US and the world visit every year. Why would anyone in government want to have such an unappealing front yard to show to visitors? It makes for a bad impression.

by NikolasM on Jul 27, 2009 11:08 am • linkreport

The harrassment article is funny, in that the author assumes that 1)They type of people that harrass women on bikes read blogs and 2) They type of people that harrass women on bikes have internet access!

This comment is outrageous. You really think that there's no sexism among people who have the means to read blogs casually?

by цarьchitect on Jul 27, 2009 1:13 pm • linkreport

Tsarchitect:
That's not really what he said, is it? He said the people who harass women on bikes.

by Nate on Jul 27, 2009 1:22 pm • linkreport

Then he should be more explicit about who those people are. I've certainly got yelled at by professionals when on a bike, and you can see more subtle harassment by young people in other contexts.

by цarьchitect on Jul 27, 2009 1:32 pm • linkreport

The National Park Service really does hate recreation. Has anyone seen those "No team sports. Grass growing." signs at Meridian Hill Park?

I guess that's the problem with having so many of our local parks run by an agency that isn't accountable to city residents. I'm pretty sure they would ban people from the parks altogether if they could get away with it.

by Daniel on Jul 27, 2009 3:19 pm • linkreport

First of all, San Francisco allows bikes on reverse commute trains and LA used to until they recently decided to allow bikes on all trains. So it isn't really that dumb. In San Francisco they also set aside certain stations as off-limits to bikes during rush hour to avoid the crowding of stations. If it's not so hard that two California cities can figure out how to make it work, I think the most educated city in America can too.

I don't really understand this line reverse commute trains are only "low occupancy" in for half the trip (going into the city, then they are going out). But let's just say that Metro should allow bikes on trains they know will often have low occupancy - regardless of direction.

I take a folding bike on my reverse commute. I use the elevators and the fare gates and believe me, they are not anywhere near capacity.

The Metro-assisted bike commute is not about exercise. It's about transportation. The bike is one component of the commute for many people. What if, like me, you work three miles from the last station on a Metro line? You can take the once an hour bus or bike it in 12 minutes. Biking means buying an extra bike, renting a locker and hoping that Metro doesn't give your locker to someone else or let someone break into it overnight. And getting a locker is not easy - I tried and gave up (see:Folding bike). Taking Metro the whole way may not even be an option.

What is dumb, dumb, dumb is for Metro to turn away customers willing to pay good money and then run mostly empty trains in one direction.

If space is such an issue, why not ban luggage? Or strollers?

I'm willing to compromise. Identify the trains that are too crowded and ban bikes on those. That's reasonable. But don't ban bikes on the train I take that has 6 people per car on average every day. I'm ready for the other side to compromise.

by David C on Jul 27, 2009 10:48 pm • linkreport

The bike is one component of the commute for many people.

Not really

"Other means" accounts for 7.6%, which is exactly equal to the average for the top 50 MSAs. DC is in the same category as Anaheim, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Sacramento, all of which are obviously shining examples of new urbanism.

So get over yourself you biking snob, DC is not some sort of cycling mecca. I can't stand people who make these unvalidated claims that somehow biking is a relevant means of transportation in this region.

by MPC on Jul 28, 2009 1:51 am • linkreport

The National Park Service really does hate recreation. Has anyone seen those "No team sports. Grass growing." signs at Meridian Hill Park?

I guess that's the problem with having so many of our local parks run by an agency that isn't accountable to city residents. I'm pretty sure they would ban people from the parks altogether if they could get away with it.

by Daniel on Jul 27, 2009 3:19 pm

Take a look at Walter Pierce Park

by Jazzy on Jul 28, 2009 8:12 am • linkreport

Congressmen spend more time at the mall than the Mall: The Mall keeps falling apart, the press keeps beating the drum about it, Congressmen keep diverting the money to projects in their home districts, and jerks like House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA)
David, every so often you talk about civility on this blog. Surely this violates the spirit of decency you wish to cultivate?

by Jazzy on Jul 28, 2009 8:15 am • linkreport

Jazzy, I assume you mean the dusty playing fields at Walter Pierce, since I think it is administered by DC DPR. I guess its a matter of taste, but to me, playing fields without people are pointless.

by Daniel on Jul 28, 2009 8:48 am • linkreport

@MPC. I didn't realize I was being snobbish.

I didn't say biking is one component of the commute for a high percentage of people - I said many. 2% of 2.2 million people is still 40,000 people. That, to me, is many; or at least far more than will fit in my bathtub. Perhaps that is not many to you.

Furthermore, the way they determine that number is to ask "What is your primary means of commuting to work?" So if you drive 50.1% of the time and bike the other 49.9%, you're a driver. Many bike commuters are fair weather cyclists or only bike once or twice a week. It also excludes people who walk or bike to transit. Though they might walk 1 mile and ride metro for 9, they count as "transit" instead of 10% walk and 90% transit. Same for people who bike to metro. The Census also ignores non-work trips, which are the majority of all trips. And it generally undercounts low-income and immigrant populations, who may have higher rates of bicycling for transportation.

A better census study would be the American Community Study which includes an actual ranking of bike commuting cities. DC ranked 7th. Maybe not a cycling Mecca, but perhaps a Hebron or Qom.

Frankly, your claim that biking isn't a relevant means of transportation because fewer than 10% of trips are done with it sounds a bit snobbish. It's like saying Batten disease isn't a relevant health concern because it's so rare; but it's certainly relevant to the people who have it. Likewise, cycling is relevant to the people who rely on it.

by David C on Jul 28, 2009 9:25 am • linkreport

Jazzy, I assume you mean the dusty playing fields at Walter Pierce, since I think it is administered by DC DPR. I guess its a matter of taste, but to me, playing fields without people are pointless.

by Daniel on Jul 28, 2009 8:48 am

Well of course. But there is such a thing as a happy medium. Intense use of a green field by teams like soccer teams guarantees a lifespan of the field of maybe a month, I would guess. What is the point of that? There are other parks where there's a field and trees interspersed where people toss a frisbee, have a picnic, play croquet and have small pick up soccer games. If you are talking about the intense usage of soccer games, another type of field is required. You just can't have that intense use and expect to have a space for everyone to enjoy. And that is pointless too.

by Jazzy on Jul 28, 2009 11:04 pm • linkreport

Not to pile on, but....Alexandria just announced that their bike commuting share is up to 9%. It's been going up 1% every three years for the last 15 years. That seems relevant.

by David C on Jul 29, 2009 10:10 am • linkreport

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