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Bicycles, drivers, and pedestrians all have their reckless minority

The eternal debate about the role of bicycling reached the Post this weekend. An editorial praises the rise of bicycling, pointing out how many more bicycles a street or parking space can hold compared to cars. WashCycle writes,

What's heartening is that they never mentioned how "cyclists have to start following the law like drivers do." Of course that didn't keep the commenters from mentioning it, or things like "bikers interfere with traffic movement" and "With these added facilities, we can insist on licensing of bicyclists and make sure those who drive on the sidewalk, through red lights, through pedestrians, etc. are held responsible for their actions."
The Boston Globe didn't exercise the same restraint, leading Newton Streets and Sidewalks to imagine a world where newspapers called for driver responsibility when reporting on bridge repairs (which we covered in Breakfast Links last week). And Richard Layman writes, "Today's editorial would have been far better had it called for stronger responsibility requirements for automobile drivers."

That responsibility could start with simple behaviors like not blocking bike lanes. Bloomingdale (for now) recently posted several photographs of a bike lane on Vermont Avenue, which police cars and government trucks seem to treat as their own private parking lane. One truck even used the bike lane while leaving a large, legal parking space completely empty.

Photos by IMGoph.

Meanwhile, a Close to Home piece decries dangerous cycling behavior. Diane Gibbs relates harrowing tales of cyclists zooming down hills, running red lights, knocking a friend to the ground, and even daring to yell at her for not staying on a certain side of the sidewalk.

Make no mistake: these cyclists were all behaving very badly. Their conduct casts all bicycling in a bad light. The simple fact is that whatever mode of travel we use, we see other modes' transgressions much more vividly than our own mode's. Cyclists see drivers constantly blocking bike lanes, drivers get annoyed by pedestrians stepping out into traffic without looking, and pedestrians have their nerves jangled by the insensitive cyclist.

This finger-pointing could continue around and around without end, and probably will. We need to all strive to break the cycle. Cyclists need to keep advocating for what they need to be safer while also criticizing the reckless. Drivers need to admit that many drivers put others in danger. Pedestrians deserve not to be corralled into too-narrow spaces at the edges of the street, but also need to pay attention in shared spaces.

We should look seriously into laws or enforcement to weed out the minority of bad actors without punishing everyone who uses a different mode, even if they're a small minority. Kicking all cyclists off all sidewalks isn't the answer. I've advocated for the Idaho Stop law, freeing cyclists from silly laws that don't actually affect safety, in combination with enforcement of important traffic laws against cyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike. Is enforcement the answer to the real problems Gibbs relates, or do we need other laws?

In the comments, let's try something. If you drive regularly, start your comment by relating a story of something bad you saw a driver do. If you bike most of the time, give a story of a fellow cyclist who acted unsafely. If you walk to work regularly, think of a recent pedestrian infraction you witnessed. I see all three on a daily basis. Surely you do as well.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 two children in Dupont Circle. 


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On my morning drive to work, I saw 2 drivers run red lights, 1 bicyclist riding his bike on Mass Avenue without a helmet, 1 bicyclist ride through a red light, 1 motor scooter riding on the sidewalk, 2 pedestrians nearly get killed by cars because they were jaywalking, and 2 transvestite hookers getting arrested.

Other than the hooker arrests, it seemed like a normal morning commute in DC.

by Fritz on Aug 17, 2009 3:29 pm • linkreport

As a pedestrian, I'm constantly frustrated by my fellow pedestrians who cross mid-block (usually on relatively short blocks), amble across the road diagonally and become indignant when honked at by a car. Is it really that difficult to use a crosswalk? Additionally, for those who use the crosswalks, I'm frustrated when I see someone start out into the crosswalk when they clearly don't have enough time to cross before the light changes. The reason I'm frustrated by these actions of my fellow pedestrians is that those using other modes of transportation ascribe this poor behavior to all pedestrians, including those of us who make an earnest attempt to follow the rules and accomodate others in the shared public space.

by David T on Aug 17, 2009 3:33 pm • linkreport

Most rule-breaking comes from arrogance. People feel more important or more in a hurry than everybody else.

Well, hello folks. This is Washington, DC! Everybody is important and in a hurry. So, unless you or your wife are delivering a baby, you're probably just as important and in a hurry as everybody else.

The best thing you can do for yourself is identify your biggest error (speeding, jay-walking, making an Idaho stop) and just give it up. Life becomes soooo much calmer. In fact, what I like the most is that it gives you occasional minutes to gather your thoughts or rest.

by Jasper on Aug 17, 2009 3:34 pm • linkreport

I bike in the city most every day. Here's an example I saw a while back that still makes me shake my head in wonder: I was in the lane, waiting (!) behind a couple of cars for a red light to turn green. Another cyclist came up from behind, rolled up onto the sidewalk to the corner, and hopped off the corner back into the street JUST as the light turned green and the traffic started up. His unpredictable behavior led the driver at the front of the line to swerve violently in surprise, and the car in front of me to stop suddenly just as it started. It very nearly caused a chain reaction of fender benders (in which case I could have been badly injured, if a car had rear-ended me). I will never again subscribe to the weak defense of cycle scofflaws that they "only endanger themselves."

by Tim on Aug 17, 2009 3:37 pm • linkreport

HTML is messed up at the Newton Streets link -- gotta close the quotation marks after the URL.

by Gavin Baker on Aug 17, 2009 3:44 pm • linkreport

This morning, 9:30 am. 8th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Pedestrian standing in the curb on the street, waiting for car traffic to clear so he could cross PA southbound. A northbound bicylcist, seeing him off the sidewalk and in the street, purposely makes an extremely wide left turn to swing as close as possible to the pedestrian, blowing his whistle the whole time. Bike vigilante vs. pedestrian.

by Trulee Pist on Aug 17, 2009 3:45 pm • linkreport

First of all Fritz, helmets are only required in the District if you are under 16 or on a motorcycle/moped - but since you have many other good examples, that one can slide. Since I use all modes of transit maybe I should mention a few examples. Pedestrians: Plenty of crosswalks kids... use them, if you have to run to cross the street you probably didnt have enough time to jaywalk in the first place. Cars: No right on red signs are for pedestrian safety and for blind turns, they serve a purpose. Buses: Crossing three lanes of traffic on one signal during morning rush hour (and cutting me off on my motorcycle) - granted this was in Greenbelt but it was an MTA bus. Bicycles: if your flying down a hill towards me and I stop (as a pedestrian) to let you by because I don't know where your going... please don't yell at me (silver spring).

by Shaun B on Aug 17, 2009 3:45 pm • linkreport

Something I find amusing/shake my head at all the time as a pedestrian is the sort of pack mentality that takes place. Just watch any busy intersection during rush hour. There will be 10-20 people waiting for the light to change. If one person steps into the intersection against the light, several others will follow without first looking to see if a car is coming. Fortunately I haven't seen anyone get hit yet, but definitely a few close calls or at least several pedestrians suddenly surprised to see that a car is coming.

by Mike B on Aug 17, 2009 3:50 pm • linkreport

I saw the editorial praising biking and five minutes later read an article in the same paper on the ICC that touted the ICC's "extraordinary environmnetal awareness" without ever once mentioning the lost fight to include a bike lane (or the notion that not building the road would have been even more "extrodinarily environmentally aware").

From the article:
"The oversight of activists and general environmental awareness in the county have resulted in extraordinary construction add-ons and precautions taken by Baker's team of environmental engineers. Abutments on bridges spanning the most sensitive streams, including Paint Branch and Rock Creek, were set farther than normal from the banks.

Arched 17-foot-high passageways are open every few miles to let deer and other animals pass under the highway. Sensors monitor streambeds, where they enter the construction site and where they leave it, to ensure that sediment isn't seeping into the water."

by Bianchi on Aug 17, 2009 4:10 pm • linkreport

jaywalking as some kind of "crimainal behavior" should be eliminated.

All healthy cities and towns should ENCOURAGE pedestrians to safely walk out into and use all streets and sidewalks in a city/town. The city/town is for people- not for cars.

And Im sick and tired of cyclists having to obey rules designed/ meant for motor vehicles. Bicycles are not motor vehicles, and should never be forced to use a road with speeding cars, as pedestrians should never be forced to walk into a dangerous street or intersection.

Far too many of our rules/ laws/customs totally and hands down favor the automobile.

by w on Aug 17, 2009 4:14 pm • linkreport

Three things cyclists do that annoy the hell out of me, which I never do (seriously) as a 5 days a week year round bike commuter:

1. Jump up to the sidewalk when traffic stops or slows. Ditto if you travel up the opposing traffic lane to get around a jam. If you can't get ahead by travelling in the same lane of traffic (carefully, on either side), you need to stay put

2. Trackstand at red lights. It's cool when you're with your friends hanging out someplace car free or if youre at a stop sign waiting for a car to cros, but if you eat concrete in front of a line of traffic on a busy thoroughfare b/c you couldn't stay up, you're adding to cyclists' bad name. If you do this, you better awesome at it.

3. When you don't stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. I firmly believe this is the only law that should apply equally to both drivers and cyclists.

by JTS on Aug 17, 2009 4:15 pm • linkreport

I commute by bike from Virginia to the Farragut Square area along M/L streets and see unsafe cycling on a daily basis. People blow through intersections without stopping/pausing/looking and always expect cars to yield to them.

by GC on Aug 17, 2009 4:16 pm • linkreport

As a pedastrian I'm use to moving out the way of reckless drivers and bikers. However the other day I was in Alexandria when a boat docked and made me jump back to avoid getting hit. The problem isn't the mode of travel, its the people that are behind the wheel, peddle, or rudder.

by Joshua Davis on Aug 17, 2009 4:20 pm • linkreport

All I know is that after driving everywhere this past weekend, I'm glad to be back into my normal transit-oriented routine. I was tailgated, almost hit by left turners from the opposite direction running their red arrows, saw a minivan in the left turn lane next to me turn left while the light was red, almost causing a collision with both cross traffic and opposing traffic. I was also flicked off for not turning left fast enough on Connecticut Avenue in Kensington by two dumbasses in a rusty pickup with a dead muffler. After turning left onto small Kensington town streets, they continued to flick me off and then passed me in the middle of a small town.

I was also almost hit last Thursday walking home from the Metro. A driver was at a stop sign getting ready to turn right. I crossed in the crosswalk of the street he was turning right on after having made eye contact with him. He started to lurch forward after I started walking but slowed down so I continued walking thinking that since we had made eye contact he saw me. But rather than letting me walk, he started to speed up again. I had to dodge in order to keep from having my hip or legs broken in a collision.

I was cussed at by a motorist behind me last week in downtown Bethesda on Wisconsin Avenue when I was turning left at an intersection with no left turn lane. I had to wait in the left lane for a safe opening in oncoming traffic. The woman behind me also had her left turn signal on. I did not see a safe opening for me to turn. She honked anyway, apparently getting impatient that I didn't floor it across oncoming traffic and hope that they slammed their breaks of for me. I then gently crossed the opposing lanes and then she floored it to pass me on the left. Again, this was in Bethesda, an urban area with lots of street activity and pedestrians. Lots of danger to innocent pedestrians when people drive in unsafe ways.

After these experiences, I think we need to be a bit more stringent about issuing licences to operate heavy machinery. We also need to build our human settlements so people don't get this behind-the-windshield entitled driver syndrome.

I have seen some cyclists do stupid things in traffic. However, they tend to be dangerous to themselves. I see far more dangerous activities from people driving a car. It's like some people get delusions of power and invincibility when they get inside a metal box that's attached to a generator on wheels. Quite simply, the laws should always hold the car driver at fault for any collision. They're the biggest and most dangerous thing so they have the most responsibility to avoid collisions. Especially any ped-car collision. Incidents like Bob Novak's in the West End need to have huge fines and jail time. If I had my magic wand, I would want that guy who almost hit me AFTER ESTABLISHING EYE CONTACT AND STOPPING AT A STOP SIGN to get arrested. If you are behind a wheel and don't have skill or maturity to not hit people, you shouldn't have the privilege.

I see motorists as by far the worst offenders. I feel far safer as a pedestrian in a human-scale place than as a motorist in a car-dependent place because the other pedestrians can't hurt me if they make bad decisions. The other drivers can hurt me plenty, though.

by Cavan on Aug 17, 2009 4:22 pm • linkreport

I am a driver and a pedestrian, but have close friends who are cyclists. I'd like to cycle myself, except that I am terrified of commuting from Capitol Hill to Farragut Square. It irritates me to no end when other drivers don't signal, but I am commenting to report myself. For some reason, I've gotten into the habit of not signaling when I am stopped at an intersection for a red light, but will be turning. For the life of me, I don't know why or when this bad behavior started, but my cycling friend called me on it. It's clearly dangerous -- a cyclist coming up behind me needs to know if I'm planning to turn when the light changes!

by Liz on Aug 17, 2009 4:28 pm • linkreport

I think the problem is that bikers are often considered second class citizens in the street. Bikers have the right to a whole lane, but if one tries actually exercising this they are admonished. Additionally there is a real difference in vulnerability when on a bike versus a car.

That being said like the post states a few bad apples can spoil it for the whole bunch.

I'd push for a two pronged approach.
1) An education campaign for all modes of transportation on rights and responsibilities.
2) Plain clothes officers biking around the city.

by DC Dan on Aug 17, 2009 4:31 pm • linkreport


DC Dan?

THE DC Dan??

by Jazzy on Aug 17, 2009 4:33 pm • linkreport

Glad to see someone point out that not all cyclists are law-breakers.

by ogden on Aug 17, 2009 4:36 pm • linkreport

The simple fact is that whatever mode of travel we use, we see other modes' transgressions much more vividly than our own mode's.

This statement may be true, strictly speaking, but the implication is that outlaw cycling is somehow the moral equivalent of outlaw driving -- it is not. For evidence, see yesterday's Streetfilm where a (alleged) red-light-running cyclist was killed by a car. Cars are supremely dangerous -- bikes are not -- and that makes all the difference in the world -- and our laws should reflect that difference.

The Idaho stop would be a great start -- a great start -- for myriad reasons, but it should only be the beginning of a sea change in laws and social norms which place the burden of responsibility on drivers for all the damage they do -- as is the case in some European countries. For instance, if a kid darts out from the edge of a residential street and you hit him with your car, you should expect to go to jail. If you don't want to go to jail, you'll be sure to drive extra slowly and carefully in and around neighborhoods, schools, etc.

We have to stop demanding a crackdown on cyclists for refusing to obey unjust laws, and we need a crackdown on outlaw driving, and more and better laws protecting pedestrians and cyclists from drivers of all stripes -- whether 'outlaw', 'negligent', 'careless', 'accidental', etc.

And we need a better alliance among all non-car people to stop this walk vs. bike bickering. It's killing us.

p.s. Subliminal message? My CAPTCHA says 'The jaywalk'. :)

by Peter Smith on Aug 17, 2009 4:57 pm • linkreport

I'm a bike commuter. Seeing a cyclist going the wrong way in painted bike lanes burns me up whenever I see it, whether or not I happen to be on my own wheels at the time. "Great," I think, "now you've made the street more dangerous than it was before there was a lane." And all to avoid the crushing inconvenience of having to cross the street to get to the correct lane. Even if the street is one-way, there's usually a lane going the other way within a couple of blocks, like 4th/6th St NE/SE on Capitol Hill, so: no excuses.

Also there are the folks who can't/don't do trackstands but will noodle around unpredictably in circles at red lights while they wait for the green light (or just for the next break in traffic), taking up more asphalt than a stopped car does and making life hard for pedestrians.

On another contrary note, here's a shout out to all the motorists who do share the road. It really is most of them, at least in my part of town. Every so often, when someone waits to pass me and then does so with more than 3 feet of space, I give 'em a wave in their rear view.

by tdcjames on Aug 17, 2009 5:53 pm • linkreport

I have to disagree with Peter. Bikes can definitely be dangerous if they hit a pedestrian at top speed. I think this blog post is a great matter what mode of transit we use, we should all be held accountable. I agree that drivers should be held accountable (it is especially outrageous that public vehicles like police cars park in the bike lane). But to say, as Peter does, that we should stop demanding that cyclists obey laws?!? That's crazy! I live in Arlington and I can't tell you the number of times that I'm walking along Wilson or Clarendon Blvds and a biker comes racing down the sidewalk. There are ample bike lanes and no need for a bicycle to be on the sidewalks (I assume the reason they do this is because they are too lazy to go to the proper street since Wilson and Clarendon are one way streets). So if you want walk v. bike bickering to stop, you need to hold bikers accountable so that pedestrians don't feel threatened. And although I am not currently a biker, I do understand what it's like to be a biker. The reason I don't bike anymore is because I was hit by a motorcycle (the driver was speeding and was under 16 and didn't have a license). I think everyone needs to follow the rules!

by Claire on Aug 17, 2009 5:54 pm • linkreport

The only time I bike on the sidewalk, which I believe is legal in DC except downtown. Is when I'm on roads where cars usually move very fast and there is street parking people pulling in and out and a lot of jaywalkers. Like on Mass Ave NW between 1st and North Capitol. Though I'm careful to slow down and if it is crowded I'll just walk my bike.

@Jazzy The one and only, do I know you?

by DC Dan on Aug 17, 2009 5:59 pm • linkreport

I wholeheartedly agree with Peter's sentiments: a poor cyclist may run into you, causing bruises and perhaps a bone break. A poor driver will cripple, maim or kill you for the same transgression.

I no longer even own a car, but I do bike, walk and transit everywhere, so here are my reckless people posts:

1. Bike: At the last hill up to Rosslyn on the Mount Vernon trail, an avid cyclist (in complete testicle-revealing outfit,) shouted at an amateur struggling up the hill. "Move, douche!" I was mortified. The poor guy was just trying to power his way up, and he was met with rudeness by an avid arse. Note to all: not everyone is training to be the next Lance Armstrong...and, in fact, MOST of us are just getting in some recreation and healthy OUR pace and on OUR time and at OUR skill set.

2. Walk: It's the "beating the crosswalk" thing, every damned day. Will it kill us all to wait the 3 or 4 seconds for the light to change? 90% of them even COUNT IT DOWN for you! And how stupid is it to piss off a 3-4 ton car by walking into their right of way?

3. Transit: "Move to the center of the car" is not just a fun suggestion, idiots. It allows MORE PEOPLE ON THE TRAIN. Also, deodorant should be required to board a bus, a train, an elevator...just in general!

Note the difference in intensity: none of the above actually have the potential to kill someone, unlike cars.

As a walker dealing with cars, by far the most annoying thing for me is in passing in front of a parking garage and having someone pulling in or out "gun" the car to brake and give me a dirty look (again, there's the "mere seconds to wait" thing.) It's like a mechanical bull snorting, getting ready to charge me down. And I have to resist the urge to cuss and scream, fact, it CAN mow me down and kill me.

Surprisingly, as a cyclist, I've actually found most people on both sidewalks and non-major roads to be quite nice. It's when you cycle down an M Street or Penn Ave that folks get weird and somehow my little bike is keeping them 15 feet behind the non-moving traffic. On sidewalks, I generally cede to walkers...that's their realm IMHO.

by Aaron on Aug 17, 2009 6:18 pm • linkreport

As a cyclist today I almost saw a 12 year cyclist kill himself in Ballston. I was stopped at a red light, first in line in the left-turn only lane. I looked to my left to see the boy cyclist barreling along the sidewalk and straight into the crosswalk. Although he technically was crossing on a green, there was a car ahead of him executing a right turn across his path. The cyclist at that speed, riding the sidewalk, is impossible for the driver to see. It was only quick braking by the car that prevented the boy's death or terrible injury.

Cyclists should not use the sidewalk. Their risk of injury at intersections is twice as high as the risk faced by cyclists who stay in the road properly.

by Crin on Aug 17, 2009 6:37 pm • linkreport

I will never again subscribe to the weak defense of cycle scofflaws that they "only endanger themselves."

good, because that is a weak defense. not sure i've ever seen it made, but i do agree that it is weak.

extraordinary construction add-ons

yes, limiting environmental destruction as add-on -- perfect.

And Im sick and tired of cyclists having to obey rules designed/ meant for motor vehicles. Bicycles are not motor vehicles, and should never be forced to use a road with speeding cars, as pedestrians should never be forced to walk into a dangerous street or intersection.

preach it, brother/sister! motorized traffic is always the root cause -- chasing cyclists onto sidewalks where they scare and injure pedestrians. pedestrians might like to get mad at cyclists, but that's easy -- pick on the vulnerable -- anybody can do that -- but to get organized and go after the people at the top -- motorists -- well that would require actual courage and work, now, wouldn't it?

People blow through intersections without stopping/pausing/looking and always expect cars to yield to them.

i've never seen it (except during Critical Mass), but i'll take your word for it. i've seen people hope that cars yield for them, but that's most of what us bikers get on the road, whether we're blowing through stop signs/lights or just trying to mind our own business -- us bikers have to make a radical distinction between hope and expectation. :)

However the other day I was in Alexandria when a boat docked and made me jump back to avoid getting hit.

sorry, but this is hilarious. let's start a 'featured comment' block at the top right of the blog like streetsblog. this should be the inaugural comment.

If you bike most of the time, give a story of a fellow cyclist who acted unsafely.

the cops who ride around my town always ride on the sidewalks. i know it's not good for sidewalk life (and it's illegal), but i don't want to be tased, bro, so my lips are staying zipped.

2) Plain clothes officers biking around the city.

great idea. best way to gain some respect for biking within the department. i don't think you'll find too many cops wanting to risk dismemberment or early death, but it's still a good idea, in general. cops who ride around in uniforms are a good start, but we need plainclothes cops so they can see what it's like to be terrorized on a daily basis. that might help build support for sane laws and even some enforcement of outlaw driving.

Bikes can definitely be dangerous if they hit a pedestrian at top speed.

yes, they can.

But to say, as Peter does, that we should stop demanding that cyclists obey laws?!? That's crazy!

i said cyclists should not have to obey 'unjust laws'.

There are ample bike lanes and no need for a bicycle to be on the sidewalks (I assume the reason they do this is because they are too lazy to go to the proper street since Wilson and Clarendon are one way streets).

yes, because 'ample bike lanes' makes biking on the street with fast-moving, gargantuan chunks of glass and steel feel very safe, doesn't it?

So if you want walk v. bike bickering to stop, you need to hold bikers accountable so that pedestrians don't feel threatened.

bikers are held accountable every day -- mostly by cars, occasionally by cops, usually by op-ed writers, and many times by this blog. we're held accountable in a particularly noteworthy fashion by outlaw drivers -- they intimidate us, threaten us, terrorize us, harass us, hit us, and sometimes it's done on accident -- whether we've done anything wrong or not, and most of the time we ride away, mostly physically uninjured, save for some PTSD.

And although I am not currently a biker, I do understand what it's like to be a biker.

i would kindly suggest you pick up your bike again so you can re-remember what it's like.

The reason I don't bike anymore is because I was hit by a motorcycle

that sucks. and it reinforces my point that motorized traffic, in particular cars, should be held accountable for their inherent danger to human life -- they're much more dangerous than bicycles, and our laws should reflect that.

I think everyone needs to follow the rules!

if you think the rules are fair, then this probably makes sense.

The only time I bike on the sidewalk, which I believe is legal in DC except downtown. Is when I'm on roads where cars usually move very fast and there is street parking people pulling in and out and a lot of jaywalkers.

this is a great point that our pedestrian friends should try to remember -- bikers are not out to terrorize anyone -- just like most car drivers -- just like jaywalkers -- they just want to get from point A to point B in relative safety and comfort, but cars and buses and trucks and motorcycles chase them off the streets onto the sidewalks.

we need more/better/stronger alliances between bikers and walkers for exactly this reason. if you are a walker and you want bikers off the sidewalks, you can take one of two approaches: 1) call for increased harassment of bikers, or 2) call for better bike infrastructure.

and bike lanes generally don't feel safe, so they're not appropriate/sufficient bike infrastructure -- we need physically-separate bike lanes (cycletracks), traffic-calmed streets, etc.

i think in some states, kids are allowed to ride on the sidewalks until a certain age. i'd be open to a short-term fix of a law requiring very slow riding on sidewalks.

Cyclists should not use the sidewalk. Their risk of injury at intersections is twice as high as the risk faced by cyclists who stay in the road properly.

that may be technically true, but we shouldn't be asking anyone, much less 12-yo kids, to ride in auto traffic. instead of scolding bikers, scold your local planning organization and the mayor and town council, and drivers, for forcing cyclists onto the sidewalks.

and as i pointed out in my earlier comment, drivers should be held responsible for their actions -- they should not ever maim or kill anyone, especially kids -- and if they do, they should go to jail for a very long time.

the driver who managed not to kill that kid shouldn't be thinking, "Wow -- thank gosh I'm such a great driver or else that kid would be squished and his parents would be crying right now" -- s/he should be thinking, "Wow -- thank gosh I'm such a careful driver or else that kid would be squished and his parents would by crying right now and i'd be in jail."

by Peter Smith on Aug 17, 2009 7:05 pm • linkreport

DC Dan was a famous graffiti artist. Guess you're not him?

by Jazzy on Aug 17, 2009 8:26 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy: I'm not a connoisseur of graffiti (except by the tracks between Takoma and Union Station, where they go underground), but the only graffiti artist I know of named Dan was Cool "Disco" Dan. Could you be thinking of him?

by tdcjames on Aug 17, 2009 9:23 pm • linkreport

Given some of the extreme views of some of the posters here (bikes can ignore unjust laws, cars should always be found to be at fault in any accident, jaywalking should be encouraged, etc.), I'm glad we had the discussion last week about how this site isn't anti-car, just pro-other transportation modes.

by Fritz on Aug 17, 2009 9:59 pm • linkreport

Given some of the extreme views of some of the posters here (bikes can ignore unjust laws

for the record, i think everyone should ignore all unjust laws -- transportation-related and otherwise. that's just common sense to me, but to each his/her own. i guess 'extreme' is in the eye of the beholder. MLK, extremist! Rosa Parks, extremist! Mahatma Gandhi, extremist! Harriet Tubman (railroad!), extremist! etc.

cars should always be found to be at fault in any accident

i don't know if they should always be found to be at fault -- that sounds about right to me, but i'd be open to the details. i'd prefer they just not hit anyone in the first place.

for a list of good (read: crazy/radical/extremist) cycling policies implemented in Holland, Denmark, and Germany, check out this PDF. two sections are particularly noteworthy -- those on education and laws/enforcement:

Traffic education and training
• Comprehensive cycling training courses for virtually all school children with test by traffic police
• Special cycling training test tracks for children
• Stringent training of motorists to respect pedestrians and cyclists and avoid hitting them

Traffic laws
• Special legal protection for children and elderly cyclists
• Motorists assumed by law to be responsible for almost all crashes with cyclists
• Strict enforcement of cyclist rights by police and courts

It all seems to make good sense to me. Extremist? Eh, not in my book. But if the policies are extreme, so are the results -- lots more people cycling and doing it much more safely.

jaywalking should be encouraged

i'm not sure i'd encourage jaywalking, but i'd encourage the design of streets so that jaywalking could easily take place. :) call that my pro-business/Republican side.

plus, reading the history of 'jaywalking' helped solidify my thinking on it.

I'm glad we had the discussion last week about how this site isn't anti-car

if anything, i'd suggest it's more anti-bike than anti-car, based on the many authors of this blog, but to each their own -- lots of us comment a lot, we've got pretty good leeway to make our cases, etc. we can always write our own blogs, respond to or even lead critiques of this blog and others, etc.

i've read at least a couple of times on this blog, authors who have explicitly stated/written more than once of their desire to provide more options for people to get from Point A to Point B -- that cars should not be the only option. characterizing that as 'anti-car' is either misguided or dishonest.

me? i'm anti-car. i don't believe they have a place in this world. there might even be a couple of other folks who roll through here and express similar sentiments, but there seems to me to be plenty of vigorous disagreement -- and there are more of them it seems to me -- so i find it hard to believe that anyone thinks this place is 'anti-car'.

by Peter Smith on Aug 17, 2009 11:17 pm • linkreport

@Crin, It's true that on average biking on the sidewalk is more dangerous than biking in the street. But if you break "biking on the sidewalk" into "biking on the sidewalk with traffic" (on the right hand side) and biking on the sidewalk against traffic, it turns out that going against traffic is the real culprit. Biking on the sidewalk with traffic is no more dangerous than riding in the road.

by David C on Aug 17, 2009 11:23 pm • linkreport

From Jeff Baker's recent book, Pedaling Revolution:

The only legalized form of homicide in the U.S. occurs when a walker gets mowed over by a motorist... At one point, Dutch law presumed motorists to be at fault in a collision with a bicyclist or pedestrian unless proved otherwise... One Dutch cop I met on the streets of Amsterdam bluntly told me it was easy to assign blame in auto-bike crashes. “It’s always the car’s fault,” he said. In a sense, Dutch drivers are treated like hunters. They are the ones with the dangerous weapon and they are assumed to be at fault if they shoot another person in the woods, even if it’s a clueless hiker who has wandered off the trails and is not wearing bright clothing.

by Bart King on Aug 17, 2009 11:37 pm • linkreport

I just moved to DC so I haven't yet witnessed too many crazy traffic incidences here, but I want to relate one near miss from when I was in Pittsburgh.

I probably do about equal parts biking, driving, and transit. In this instance I was driving, about to take a right turn at an intersection that recently had new turn signals installed (Penn and Main, if you're familiar with the 'burgh). Heading north through the intersection, there's a right turn signal that stays green after the main light turns red. I got to the intersection shortly after the main lights turned red (but with a green turn signal), slowed way down as it's a tight corner, and was looking to my right for pedestrians in the crosswalk. The coast was clear so I proceeded through the turn, when a cyclist came barging through the intersection from the left. If it weren't for my wife who happened to be looking that way and yelled at me to stop, I'm pretty sure either she would have hit me or vice versa.

I assume she must not have been aware of the new turn signal, as that is the only logical reason why she would have fearlessly blew through the red light (and then proceeded to throw insults at me for the near miss that she caused).

Anyways, the moral of the story: if you're going to ignore a red light, don't forget the turn signals. Nobody expects the right turn signal!

(And, frankly, after that experience, I feel that a car-driver-is-always-at-fault policy is probably a bit too extreme, considering car trips are unavoidable if you're carrying bulky equipment.)

by Daniel Dickison on Aug 18, 2009 12:31 am • linkreport

The Dutch law that finds car drivers automatically guilty in traffic accidents with pedestrians and more importantly bikers is not there just to blame car drivers. There are several underlying reasons why that law came into existence.

The general public, biking a lot, wanted protection from aggressive drivers.

Judges found car drivers at fault in most cases anyway. The problem was that they usually did so after lengthy trials, during which insurance companies did not pay out. The public (and hence the government) found it grossly unfair that the insurance companies of the car driver and biker/pedestrian would refer to each other, while bankrupting a hurt pedestrian or biker, often struggling in the hospital for his or her life. Making the car driver at fault solves this problem.

Car drivers can go to court by the way. The law just *assumes* their fault, it doesn't fix it without any reserve.

However, car drivers are held to a much higher standard than bikers and pedestrians. If you drive in a neighborhood where kids could be playing, you better assume one comes shooting out of a blind angle. If you see a bikers utterly drunk (or stoned) on his bike, you better pass with great care. Car drivers are thought to carry a much heavier responsibility because they are driving in the heavier vehicle that can do way more damage to others in traffic. Similarly, pedestrians and bikers has a larger incentive to stay safe. They can get hurt way more. It is therefor assumed they are more careful.

Oh, and in the Netherlands, there is no biking on the sidewalk. IMHO, it should be outlawed everywhere. Pedestrians should not have to worry about bikers zipping by.

Interestingly, in the Netherlands mopeds have now been kicked of the bike paths in many cases and mixed with traffic, for the exact same reason. They go too fast to mix well with bikers. Oddly, putting them between car traffic has reduced moped deaths. It appears both car drivers and moped drivers (mostly teens) drive more carefully.

by Jasper on Aug 18, 2009 7:21 am • linkreport

@Jazzy: I'm not a connoisseur of graffiti (except by the tracks between Takoma and Union Station, where they go underground), but the only graffiti artist I know of named Dan was Cool "Disco" Dan. Could you be thinking of him?

by tdcjames on Aug 17, 2009 9:23 pm

YES! Thanks for pointing out my error.

I wonder whatever happened to him.

And here's a pretty weak link to transit discussion: I used to love seeing his markers on the red line out to Takoma Park from DC.

by Jazzy on Aug 18, 2009 7:52 am • linkreport

Cool Disco Dan is still around. I believe he was a guest DJ recently at a dance party.

by Bianchi on Aug 18, 2009 9:27 am • linkreport

Art show, not DJ. You can still see it, it's tomorrow! Wednesday

"Lost and Found: 15 years of the 2.D.K. LAB" at Miss Pixie's Furnishings & Whatnot

This unique show of art, photography and sculpture features works by famed D.C. graffiti artists, including Cool "Disco" Dan and Borf, as well as works from the D.C. Urban Arts Academy.

by Bianchi on Aug 18, 2009 9:32 am • linkreport


what you fail to recognize is that at present, cyclists are forced to ride in the streets with car traffic and that there is basically no dedicated place for cycling- unlike in Holland- where the street is given over to cyclists in many places- however- they also have dedicated separated bikeways on sidewalks that are blocked off from pedestrians.

In DC- they ONLY safe place is on the sidewalk- as many people have figured out. Only the most daring ride with cars.

Personally, I have been using the sidewalks for over 40 years in DC, I do not go fast, use a warning bell [which racers and other maniacs never seem to have] and I also go at a speed that makes it very easy to get out of bad situations. Until the MORONS running our bike policy in the USA and specifically in DC do not start putting in dedicated separated bikeways like they have in Holland- AND in other countries where cycling is considered serious primary transport-
I will continue to use the sidewalks in DC.
Be as dogmatic about this as you want to- but I will continue doing what I feel is safe and what I have been doing all of my life.

by w on Aug 18, 2009 9:52 am • linkreport

I walk more than other modes, so I'll tell on pedestrians first, per the rule of the day. I often see people walking while reading, texting, or talking on the phone, oblivious to others around them. To be courteous to others, you first have to be aware of them. This behavior most often bothers me as a fellow pedestrian, and those situations are not dangerous, but I do see people step into the street without looking, which is.

As a bicyclist, I do ride on the sidewalk sometimes. In a very imperfect transportation system, it's one option. I only do it where it's legal, keep my speed down, am prepared to stop, don't endanger pedestrians, and try not to make them nervous. (Although they/we sometimes get nervous when someone walks up behind them/us, too.) I rarely choose the sidewalk unless I can see that there are no pedestrians for at least a block. It would be a shame to put a blanket ban on riding on the sidewalk.

by Joe on Aug 18, 2009 10:19 am • linkreport

@ w: I don't fail to recognize anything. I explained why the Dutch law is what it is.

I also cited experimental proof that when mopeds were mixed with cars, protested by both, traffic became safer. So much safer that the experiment in two or three cities have become national law.

Bikers do have a place. It's on the road. That's the way the law is. The problem is that that right is not recognized by many car drivers. You are right that in the US, the government and police do nothing to make drivers aware of this.

Oh, and by the way. Your remark that in Holland has separated bike ways on sidewalks shows your car-centric view. In the Netherlands, the government has forced itself to design areas for three modes of transportation. On foot, on bike and by car. Sometimes those are merged, often separated. However, no Dutchman would say that there are bike paths on the sidewalk. In fact, many car lanes have been taken away to provide space for bike paths. Shockinlgy, this has rarely led to more traffic congestion.

by Jasper on Aug 18, 2009 10:33 am • linkreport

I wanted to add to my earlier comment -- as a pedestrian, I can't remember having trouble with bicyclists on the sidewalk, although I'm sure it happens. One cyclist going fast on a crowded sidewalk could terrorize a lot of pedestrians in a short period of time.

by Joe on Aug 18, 2009 10:38 am • linkreport

how can I be car centric when I have no car and do not drive?

Why don't you take your wife or girlfriend, your small children and your elderly parents and tell them that they HAVE TO BICYCLE ON THE ROAD WITH THE CARS - here in Washington DC - and see how long it is before they laugh at you and tell you how crazy you are.

Everywhere I have been in Europe there are dedicated and separated bikeways that are MOSTLY on the sidewalks and keep cyclists AWAY from cars.


by w on Aug 18, 2009 10:47 am • linkreport

ItÂ’s worth pointing out that the incentives are kind of mixed: Downtown is where roads are the most congested, so itÂ’s where itÂ’d be more comfortable for a bicyclist to ride on the sidewalk. Out of the center, the roads have fewer cars, often going more slowly, but bicyclists can ride on the sidewalk. Obviously, downtown, the cyclist can be a threat to pedestrians, so he or she goes in the road. In residential neighborhoods, itÂ’s safe even for children to ride in the street.

by цarьchitect on Aug 18, 2009 11:17 am • linkreport

@ w: Dude, Calm down. No need to yell. I've biked for years in DC. Not in downtown, but from Court House to Georgetown. Down Wilson Blvd, straight through the traffic mess that is called "walkable" Rosslyn, and across Key Bridge.

Worked just fine. Got in one accident. On the bike path on Key Bridge, with a biker that was busier drinking coffee on his bike, than deciding on which side of the path we wanted to ride.

I've also biked (but not daily) around the Mall, through Rock Creek Park, and down to van Dorn St in Alexandria (partly over the GW parkway). Worked pretty ok for me.

But I don't think I'll convince you.

by Jasper on Aug 18, 2009 11:20 am • linkreport

w, I think what jasper is trying to emphasize is that the onus of responsibility for making biking a safe experience is on car drivers and that when car drivers are educated and expected to "share the road" they do and biking is thus safer.

by Bianchi on Aug 18, 2009 11:33 am • linkreport

I feel like The Perennial Sidewalk Debate often ignores differences in cycling speed. When I ride on the sidewalk, it's because I'm not going more than 5-10 mph (because I'm going uphill or just don't feel like going fast). I would hesitate to ride boldly in a lane if I weren't going at least 15-20 mph on a 25 mph limit street (where cars actually average 30-35 mph), and, of course, nobody should ride on a sidewalk at that speed.

by Daniel Dickison on Aug 18, 2009 11:42 am • linkreport

w - I actually agree with you, I think DC would be a better place with miles and miles of separated cycling infrastructure so that all kinds of people would feel safer and less stressed out while riding. However, I don't see that happening until people take biking seriously. And people won't take biking seriously until they start seeing cyclists on the streets in large numbers, looking/behaving like "traffic" not recreation. Staying off the roads as some sort of bike commuter boycott until we get perfect infrastructure is not going to get us respect.

In the meantime, I would like to get where I'm going as quickly as possible (while still being safe.) If I wanted to move at a walking speed on the sidewalk, I would walk.

And for my "bad cyclist behavior" anecdote: riding the wrong way on a one-way street. I see this far too often. A few weeks ago, I was making a right turn onto the bike lane on T street from New Hampshire, only to nearly have a head-on collision with another biking going the wrong way at full speed. VERY not cool.

by Erica on Aug 18, 2009 11:43 am • linkreport

"The simple fact is that whatever mode of travel we use, we see other modes' transgressions much more vividly than our own mode's."

As a pedestrian in DC (I don't have a car *or* a bicycle -- I just use public transit) I do have to say bicyclists irritate me considerably more than car drivers. Not to say I don't get irritated by car drivers -- I do from time to time (just as I get irritated by other pedestrians, from time to time). But bicyclists are really quite terrible, when walking through the city, like if a pedestrian decided to run everywhere on the sidewalk and carried a little buzzer to make everyone get out of his way. And running red lights isn't just irritating to motorists, it's irritating to me when I'm trying to cross at the crosswalk.

So yeah. My experience is the opposite of Joe's. Maybe it has something to do with the routes I walk to get to and from work. Anyhow, I have terrible experiences with cyclists on the sidewalks, and I wish they would all stick to the roads.

by Taeyeong on Aug 18, 2009 11:44 am • linkreport

sharing the road does not work with people who are not interested in bicycling at top speed with the auto traffic.As far as Im concerned, cretins like John Forseter who think everyone should dress for combat and ride a racing bike, and get special training for cycling with auto traffic, ought to be put away in a mental hospital.

Cycling should be for everyone- and not just the most wreckless, the fastest, the most willing to put themselves in danger.

This is why in America- you seldom see women, elderly, childen bicycling on city streets or bicycling at all.

This is why it works better overseas- where people of all types- wearing regular clothes- bicycle far more frequently with much less worry- they have separated bikeways that protect them from cars , that are separated from pedestrians.

There is no other way about the business- anything less is geared purely towards a select component of the population- the racers and athletic cyclists.

by w on Aug 18, 2009 11:49 am • linkreport

the plain truth is that most people who do not bicycle choose not to because it is seen as far too dangerous to "share the roads" with cars. Thus there exists a horrible gender gap in bicycling- and in addition to this- a gap in ages as well as with people who use bikes for primary transport.

by w on Aug 18, 2009 11:54 am • linkreport

I'm a bicyclist who actually stops and waits at red lights, much to the displeasure of motorists, who do their best to squeeze past me or shove me aside. They don't want to have to wait for my relatively slow acceleration from a stop.

I stop at stop signs, too. This is a bit scary, because motorists are taken by surprise, expecting me to run the stop sign, so I have to worry about being rear-ended.

Biking in traffic is a challenge. It would be safer if motorists gave bicyclists more respect, and if bicyclists obeyed traffic laws, thus warranting more respect.

by Jack on Aug 18, 2009 12:10 pm • linkreport

I'm a cyclist, and I've seen my share of stupid and dangerous things that other cyclists do. I think the worst is when I was a marshal for a large organized ride (which was in mixed traffic), and I was guarding an intersection where cyclists had to make a left. Now, I know and I expect most of you know that the correct way to make a left is by merging over to the turn lane like a car, or failing that, crossing the cross-street and continuing along it once you get the light. This is not, however, what most people on the ride thought. Instead, they would cut over all the way to the wrong-side curb, then make the turn, and presumably cut back over to the right side on the cross-street. A driver making a right turn in the opposite direction could very easily just not have seen the cyclists coming at him from the wrong direction and at fairly high speed. No amount of yelling at people would dissuade them from continuing to do this, and I just ended up giving up in frustration. Someone very easily could have been killed because of their stupidity, and it would have been on my watch, and there's nothing I could have done about it.

by anonymouse on Aug 18, 2009 12:13 pm • linkreport

@Taeyeong. Bad cyclists might irritate you more than bad drivers. But if you're killed by a vehicle, odds are something like 250-1 that it will be a driver. Cyclists annoy, but drivers kill.

by David C on Aug 18, 2009 12:39 pm • linkreport

this is an extremely perceptive comment posted on the NYT article that I put up in my own comment- this "Trace" person sees the whole game very clearly - the bike clubs all conspire to keep munincipalities from making separated biketracks like they have in Europe and other more civilized places where cycling is a realistic transport option- Trace syas it all right here ;

" more women bike in europe because the bike lanes are designed better. The cycling clubs have a lock-down on our new bike paths, with their mantra, “bikes can occupy the same place as cars, and behave like cars.” That is crap, and is limiting our biking population to very agressive young men. I will not bike unless it is on a path separated from cars by more than a white stripe on the road. The stakes are too high - and the price for accidents is death, for the cyclist. Europe has the good sense to create these separated bike paths everywhere. Here, the macho men and the cheapskates win out, and all the cyclists get is a white stripe on the road. Not good enough for me! (and I love the bike, have biked thousands of crosscountry miles on teeny backroads through france, england, germany,,)

— trace "

If only more people in this area and the so-called "cyclists" on this blog would only wake up to reality- we could have a far better bicycling climate here in DC and the USA

by w on Aug 18, 2009 12:52 pm • linkreport

@ Bianchi: Actually, Jack says it best: It would be safer if motorists gave bicyclists more respect, and if bicyclists obeyed traffic laws, thus warranting more respect. The government and advocay groups would hopefully play a role in mending the fences between cars and bikers. w seems to have given up all hope. To bad.

BTW: In describing our irritations, we are forgetting transit. My biggest irritation is all the clowns that hang out near metro exits. Newspaper, homeless, advocacy groups, charities, sales of crap, it never ends. Get out of my way!

by Jasper on Aug 18, 2009 1:00 pm • linkreport

I am not trying to be mean here, but your headline for this entry is misleading. The reality is that by definition of how the system is set up to support negligence and automobile superiority, that by definition automobility is about superiority and recklessness as a matter of course.

I don't claim, when I drive, to not be a part of the same system and problem.

It's not until you don't take the majority position, and don't drive as a matter of course, that you are able to begin to see it.

by Richard Layman on Aug 18, 2009 1:01 pm • linkreport

A thought comes to mind while reading all of the comments. Bikers get angry at cars for being neglectful and dangerous. Of course not all drivers harass bikers, but those that do are more memorable. Pedestrians get angry at bikers for being neglectful and dangerous. Again, not all bikers harass pedestrians, but those that do are more memorable. So I'd just ask that bikers be more understanding of why pedestrians might be upset, because we should be able to relate to one another. The fact that cars are larger and more deadly does not mean that bikers should be allowed to do as they please. An accident between a biker and a pedestrian can still be very dangerous and should therefore be taken seriously. The bottom line is that if we ALL follow the rules we can all get along.

I still think that Peter's comment about not having to obey unjust laws is a very dangerous concept. Who defines a law as unjust? Each individual? By that logic, what if a driver decides that red lights are unjust? That's a scary notion, right? If you feel that a law is unjust, try to bring attention to it and get it changed. But until it is changed please follow it, for your own safety and for the safety of others.

by Claire on Aug 18, 2009 1:55 pm • linkreport

I'm a low-speed electric moped rider -- riding 20 mph in the bike lane, if there is one, and generally scooting around the less trafficed ways avoiding main roads. (A plug -- Please include electric scooters as well as regular bicycles in your thoughts for how the future streetscape should look!)

Yesterday I saw another moped rider turn left from the left lane on Georgia Ave in Silver Spring, a bit too close for comfort in front of oncoming cars, with no signal, and seeming to project a self righteous attitude. Whew.

by Sylvia at on Aug 18, 2009 2:36 pm • linkreport

Given up?
I have been cycling in DC for over 40 years
you CAN live here w/o a car
There is no reason in the world that it needs to be made even more difficult to live w/o a car
and it CAN be made a lot easier to live w/o a car if only the folks who build our streets and roads would take cyclists into consideration, and if only the maniac "professional " -in other words- macho males aggressive racers , techno elitist and athletic cyclists would stop and consider the fact that in much of the world a bicycle is a method of transport and not just a toy or a competitive sporting machine.

Again- these are the most outspoken and dangerous people messing up the climate for all other people who could be potentially cycling- but will not as the conditions are just unacceptable.

You folks need to listen to these people and take their words seriously- that was done in Europe in many places and it has been a success. Anything less is a cop out.

by w on Aug 18, 2009 2:43 pm • linkreport

@w, who specifically constitutes this triumvirate of "macho males aggressive racers, techno elitist and athletic cyclists" that is ruining cycling for you. Let's name name and see some examples of what they're saying.

by David C on Aug 18, 2009 3:01 pm • linkreport

@w: I remember hordes of people on bikes in Beijing. They all sort of plodded along on granny bikes, even young men. Big contrast to the way we dress, gear up, and ride here in the States. Not judging, just noticing how different it was. Personally, I like to go fast and don't like to make stops.

by Ward 1 Guy on Aug 18, 2009 3:10 pm • linkreport

@w, I notice you did not respond to my comments at all. While I would like to see separated lanes, I don't think they will come about until bicyclists WIN respect for ourselves as a political force by becoming more visible and numerous. Not by staying home and not riding, or traveling 5 mph on a sidewalk, until utopia magically arrives without a fight.

Why do we have so many "cheapskate" solutions here? Is it because all the macho racer types show up at city council meetings and protest against wonderful bike infrastructure that was otherwise planned? Of course not. Notice that the US cities with the best bike facilities (Portland, Seattle, Chicago) are ALSO the cities with the most "macho males and techno elitists," AND the cities with the most ordinary everyday riders as well. Is this a coincidence - no. The hard core folks pave the way (no pun intended) for everyone else. This conflict between the two groups only exists in your head.

by Erica on Aug 18, 2009 3:12 pm • linkreport

@Erica +1

by David C on Aug 18, 2009 3:22 pm • linkreport

@w, I notice you did not respond to my comments at all. While I would like to see separated lanes, I don't think they will come about until bicyclists WIN respect for ourselves as a political force by becoming more visible and numerous. Not by staying home and not riding, or traveling 5 mph on a sidewalk, until utopia magically arrives without a fight.

This is why I ignore 'w'. His essential argument is that the folks who actually ride are the problem, and that they should go home, hang up the bike, and send letters and wait for a comprehensive shadow network of bike lanes to be built.

If you absolutely must ride your bike from Point A to Point B in this environment, make sure you stay on the sidewalk, therefore generating a great amount of risk for pedestrians so that you can save yourself a tiny amount of risk from riding in the street.

Good luck with that.

by ibc on Aug 18, 2009 3:38 pm • linkreport

"At the last hill up to Rosslyn on the Mount Vernon trail, an avid cyclist (in complete testicle-revealing outfit,) shouted at an amateur struggling up the hill. "Move, douche!""

I've seen this sort of behavior on the trail. It really, really bothers me. In fact the woman I saw being yelled at (obviously a novice, on the overweight side of things, but working hard to get up a hill and GOOD for her--I walked my bike up that same hill the first few times), I have never seen again. This is anecdotal for sure because I'm not patrolling the trail, but I can tell you as someone who is no athlete (and is insecure about it) and who remembers how intimidating the first few trips on the trail were, if that had happened to me, I'd have never gone back out.

If I ever see it again, I'm calling the abuser out. It is completely unacceptable.

by Catherine on Aug 18, 2009 3:58 pm • linkreport

I know my comments have hit home when all of the hostile racers and athletic cyclers who see it no other possible way start attacking me and my views- which it so happens- and as one of the commenters pointed out- are all about the way cycling is done overseas. I happen to think that the USA is light years behind even such a country as China-
my sister goes to Peking twice a year and she says that they have No racers No bike helmets and very few bike fatalities since bicyclists are not forced to mix it in with cars. Anyone who has been to Holland, Germany, Belgium, or Denmark can also see this. Racers in most of these countries use velodromes and yes- some do race on country roads- but they DO NOT MAKE UP A MAJORITY OF THE CYCLING PUBLIC like they do here.

As for racers and male macho athletic types going to the planning meetings-'re darn right they do.

- and these morons drown the rest of us out.

..maybe you should go to one of those WABA meetings where they all talk about Vehicular Cycling but fail to notice that this kind of insanity EXCLUDES the VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE who will NEVER bicyle with cars and in traffic.

It is exactly these kimds of pushy nasty aggressive macho men who make rude comments to decent & innocent people as the previous commentor noted- they are the same guys that make the bike trails like Mt Vernon so unsafe for everyone who is not a racer.

One commentor above was talking about motorbikes- that is an awesome way to get around- and it should be encouraged- anything to get people out of their cars and out of their suburbs and into walkable communities using transit , bikes, feet. Motorbikes are a lot "greener" than any Prius. Your average loud Harley is "greener" than a Prius.

Why don't some of you folks dump your racing bikes, get out of your cars and get a big cruiser bicycle or workbike and try carrying home your groceries sometime?

Is the car life really so important for you?

by w on Aug 18, 2009 4:30 pm • linkreport

W, what are you talking about? Your last post is just wingnutty. First of all, 'Peking,' has a major problem with bike fatalities, and little to no segregated bike infrastructure. The bike fatalities may not get reported as such, but they are there. I'm an avid cyclist, but I wouldn't be caught dead (pun intended) in that city on a bike. I go there for work 3 to 4 times a year.

And these hypothetical WABA meetings? I've never once heard your voice of dissent there. There is no 'silent majority' of sidewalk cyclers, yearning to be heard. It's just you, maybe.

I even agree with your right to cycle on the sidewalk. It's legal, after all.

But the idea that cyclists are holding up segregated cycling infrastructure is ridiculous. I mean, really.

by CJ on Aug 18, 2009 5:04 pm • linkreport

I'll pile some more onto W's bizarre vision of Europe as some sort of bike utopia where cyclists never come within 10 feet of a car. I lived in one of the greenest cities in Germany where there were regular bike traffic jams during rush hour, and very little of the bike infrastructure was separate from the street or sidewalk. The bike lanes basically alternated between the street and the sidewalk, with little to no separation between the cyclists and other transit users.

Also, I think w might want to get checked out for anxiety. I am a very casual cyclist who rides in the street and I've never found the roads of DC terribly intimidating except for high-speed avenues like Connecticut and Wisconsin. Speed, not congestion, is the real hazard to cyclists.

by Phil on Aug 18, 2009 5:59 pm • linkreport

First of all, 'Peking,' has a major problem with bike fatalities, and little to no segregated bike infrastructure.

Shhhh... How dare you inject facts into w's cherished fantasy of cycling utopia's across the globe? He knows that every single country on the planet has established a comprehensive, well-maintained shadow system of segregated bike trails so that no cyclist ever needs to ride on the road, regardless of their destination. The last thing he needs is facts.

Did you also know that every cyclist in Europe follows every traffic law religiously? It's totally true.

PS: I'm relatively sure that w is actually a frustrated Cat 3 racer who enjoys trolling for cyclist ire. How else do you explain such arguments as that "vehicular cycling" commuters need to get out of their cars? Or the classic post he made a few months ago that a bicycle without a steering damper is worthless?

Come clean, W! :)

by ibc on Aug 19, 2009 10:26 am • linkreport

Things other cyclists do that drive me nuts:
- Passing me on the right
- Riding in the bike lane the wrong way
- Riding the wrong way down one-way streets (seriously, it's pretty much *never* a good idea, yet lots of folks just don't get that)

by jeanne on Aug 19, 2009 8:39 pm • linkreport

Riding in the bike lane the wrong way

Yep. This is serious asshole behavior. Although yesterday I saw two joggers running in the bike lane. Two abreast. In the wrong direction.

Bottom line: there are idiots out there, and they get around via many different modes.

by ibc on Aug 19, 2009 8:49 pm • linkreport

One deplorable driving behavior that I hate as a fellow driver are the individuals who insist on driving on the left lane of highways when the right lane is unoccupied.

In Germany you'd get a ticket for this transgression, as you are blocking the flow and purpose of a freeway (to allow free, unrestrained movement of traffic). In the US it is also illegal to occupy the left lane when the right is unoccupied, but police falaciously spend more time on speeding rather than ticketing this behavior which causes tailgating and accidents.

by Fardel on Jul 12, 2010 12:46 pm • linkreport

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