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Breakfast links: Choice of spots


Photo by Montgomery Sideways.
Off the bus, nowhere to go: A new bus stop in Silver Spring is walled off from nearby sidewalks, forcing riders into the street to reach it. (Montgomery Sideways via JUTP)

Spots for trails?: Spotsylvania County, Virginia is interested in creating walking, jogging, bicycling, and horse riding trails, and county planners would like you to take their survey if you've ever walked, run, biked, or ridden a horse there.

Hit and runs and intentional hits: Two different "vehicles... struck" and killed a bicyclist on Southern Avenue near the Southern Avenue Metro Friday. The first driver left but came back later and said he didn't know he'd killed anyone; the second driver and other occupants stayed but then left without identifying themselves when EMS arrived. (Newschannel 8) ... 3 men beat a cyclist on H Street NE during Critical Mass. (WashCycle)

Mayoral candidates want our vote: Vincent Gray said he wants to "get people out of automobiles" at a recent debate, but doesn't support higher parking fees. Mayor Fenty emphasized biking and transit and building around Metro, but won't study tearing down the Whitehurst. Leo Alexander has no just one transportation idea: free Metro rides for seniors. (Mike DeBonis, DCist)

We're bohemian, and have Thai: Richard Florida has updated his "bohemian index," one of the pieces of his well-known "creative class" analysis of cities. DC is fifth, behind NYC, LA, Vancouver and Toronto. (The Atlantic, Dave Murphy) ... Florida is also well known for his research that gay populations are a leading indicator of the creative influx (and gentrification) of an area; Richard Layman argues that Thai restaurants are another, later indicator, as one opens in Petworth. (RPUS via DCist)

Too many cars: A 10-car Green Line train was mistakenly sent out from Branch Avenue and traveled as far as Waterfront before being taken out of service. Nobody could have gotten on the extra cars since they never platformed. This time Metro told the Tri-State Oversight Committee right away. (Examiner)

And...: Arlington is placing red light cameras in Rosslyn and Ballston (WUSA9) ... Fairfax County faces a $2.2 billion deficit if they build all the road projects being planned (Examiner) ... Baltimore lacks the resources to time traffic lights as much as they'd like (Baltimore Sun) ... Alexandria recycle bins might get embedded microchips. (Connection)

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

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Ugh, Red Light cameras in Arlington.

Such a shame, I like this community but I am 100% against these revenue generating machines.

If they were truly for safety, they would assess points on the drives license as well.

Also, there were new bike lanes added to Quincy St from Fairfax to Washington, taking away one of the queuing lanes at the light at Quincy/Washington, creating backups, and also the traffic pattern was changed at Quincy/Lee, with a left turn/thru lane becoming left turn only, leading to long queues (3-4 light cycles in the morning). I think that light needs to be re-timed with time taken from through Old Dominion/Lee Highway as the wait can be around 3:00 for the next cycle on Quincy.

by Ballston_Resident on Jun 8, 2010 9:02 am • linkreport

Part of the reason for that abortion of a bus stop is the one pedestrian entry point is still blocked off by construction to provide easier access there. That stop did need a shelter though.

There's been similar shelter work going in throughout Montgomery County, often in places that don't have very frequent service (Nicholson Lane in Kensington/Rockville/North Bethesda for one). Might this work be funded by stimulus money and it's being done for the sake of spending it?

by Jason on Jun 8, 2010 9:16 am • linkreport

Metro employee counting: 1...2...5...

And since when is platform a verb? I platform. You platform. He platforms. Nobody could have gotten on the extra cars since they never *reached the platform*.

by ksu499 on Jun 8, 2010 9:28 am • linkreport

I walked past that Silver Spring bus stop last week and did a double take. There is a narrow strip on one side, about 1.5 feet wide, directly adjacent to the roadway, by which pedestrians can enter the shelter. It is dangerous and definitely not handicap-accessible.

The overall placement and design looks like the product of too many rigid bureaucratic rules and not enough common sense.

by Laurence Aurbach on Jun 8, 2010 9:33 am • linkreport

As I recall from hearing some of the Mayoral debate on the radio, Alexander is also against streetcars...

by Froggie on Jun 8, 2010 9:40 am • linkreport

I'll be curious where they put the cameras on Lee Highway. I do see people running the lights at Veitch through Cleveland St. Those lights are badly timed for drivers and also for people trying to cross the street. If you know the road, you know it isn't worth running one light because the others will catch you, but I suspect a lot of people don't follow that.

Agree that red light cameras are 90% revenue generators, 10% safety. Arlington also has a strange policy regarding their walk signals -- the don't walk sign comes on way too early in the cycle. Maybe meant for old people who move slow -- or baby carriages?

And again, exactly who is tearing down the whiteshurt going to benefit? A few condo owners? Can't wait for the rest of us to deal with more traffic THROUGH georgetown. Pet peeve: why aren't a few 38B during rush hour express and use the whitehurst to bypass georgetown?

by charlie on Jun 8, 2010 9:41 am • linkreport

Arlington needs to focus more on keeping people "out of the box" at Glebe and Fairfax, where one of these cameras is being deployed. If they could repurpose the cameras for that I'd be all for it.

by Lou on Jun 8, 2010 9:42 am • linkreport

The interesting thing about Baltimore light timing is that they expect the citizens to be the eyes and ears to know when a light isn't timed correctly (and the fact that if takes two or more light cycles to get through, then that usually indicates a problem.) I wonder if other jurisdictions have the same level of expection of citizen involvement, and whether pedestrian concerns (not enough time to cross) are also taken into account.

by OhioExile on Jun 8, 2010 9:49 am • linkreport

@Lou: Totally agree. But red light cameras only detect the speed at which someone crosses the line (or enters the box, as it were) right before or during the red. The problem at Glebe and Fairfax is that people go during the yellow, and maybe the green, thinking that they can get through, but traffic is too backed up.

Some possible solutions: put HOV restrictions on 66 outbound during morning rush; delay the opposing (southbound Glebe) green light; put up "don't block the box" signs ... I don't know what else.

by Tim on Jun 8, 2010 9:58 am • linkreport

@Tim; I **think** that that delayed the left turn from Lee Highway to Kirkwood with the light. Noticed that yesterday. Worked well for non-rush hour -- timed so cars have 5-10 seconds before the oncoming cars from the next set of lights (the i66 entrance) get there.

by charlie on Jun 8, 2010 10:02 am • linkreport

@Tim, the only thing I've seen work at that intersection is a motor unit sitting right there daring people to make his day.

The other cameras on Lee Highway are down in the Rosslyn area and where it crosses into Falls Church

http://tinyurl.com/arlingtonredlights

by Lou on Jun 8, 2010 10:11 am • linkreport

I had to laugh when I saw that bus shelter. Ridiculous.

But I know exactly how it happend. I am sure it was a confluence of a bunch of minimum design criteria all acting together (minimum sidewalk width/minimum distance criteria for curbs/plater boxes etc. The ridiculous part is no one looked at that on a plan before it was built and said "wait a minute".

by nookie on Jun 8, 2010 10:22 am • linkreport

If they were truly for safety, they would assess points on the drives license as well.

Points are issued for moving violations, which are issued to the driver of a vehicle, no matter who owns it. Automated enforcement tickets are considered their own category of violation, and are issued to the vehicle owner with a rebuttable presumption that the owner was driving. As such, the legal basis for issuing points is questionable.

I believe the only states that allow for points on automated enforcement are California and Nevada; in both cases the issue of points can only be upheld when the driver can be identified at the time of the offense. (In Nevada, where the enforcement equipment must be manned, this is pretty much the only way to get an automated ticket.)

by cminus on Jun 8, 2010 10:34 am • linkreport

I used to be against red light cameras and such b/c of the revenue argument until the evidence came out that jurisdictions that use have seen a marked increase at intersections that use them. So much so that at certain intersections the citation rate has pretty much gone to 0. I'll try to find a source.

by Canaan on Jun 8, 2010 11:00 am • linkreport

I live near Ballston, and I am very glad to hear about the cameras. If you don't want a ticket, don't run the red! Yeah, that means you have to--gasp--actually wait till there's enough room for your car on the other side of the light. You should be doing this anyway, lest you block the box.

I would love to see red-light cameras on every stoplight. They would pay for themselves quickly. They could even be put on stopsigns.

In fact, only a selection of the cameras would have to be operational; if you knew that any particular stopsign's or traffic signal's camera MIGHT be operational, you would be extra sure to stop.

by JB on Jun 8, 2010 11:06 am • linkreport

Here's an example from TX. I can't find the story about the cities that had a similar experience to this one, but we should let the evidence speak in Arlington's case before we make any judgments on their effectiveness.

http://www.nbcdfw.com/traffic/transit/Red-Light-Cameras-Run-Their-Course-in-Frisco-90891324.html

by Canaan on Jun 8, 2010 11:08 am • linkreport

How will tearing down the Whitehurst Freeway bring anyone out of their cars?

This multi-million dollar project (whith a least a million to some consulting firm for a "study") will accomplish two things:

1. Raise the property values by improving the views of some very expensive condos,

2. Dump more cars onto already clogged M St.

I would guess that there is not a single person who regularly uses the Whitehurst Freeway that would stop driving if the freeway was eliminated. Not a single one. There is your study, and it didn't cost a dime, just common sense.

by urbaner on Jun 8, 2010 11:21 am • linkreport

Doesn't surprise me that gays are the early adopters in gentrifying a fringe neighborhood. They are less inclined to worry about issues like schools.

by Developer on Jun 8, 2010 11:21 am • linkreport

That bus stop/shelter is an example in the extreme, but I've noticed (and used) lots of bus stops in DC where there is signage/newspaper boxes/planter boxes/garbage cans clustered around the bus sign, making it difficult to board/exit the bus. As someone else said, a little common sense in this type of situation would go a long way...

by JCM on Jun 8, 2010 11:36 am • linkreport

Funny how the rationale for red light cameras goes from:

1) let's catch people who run red lights (yeah!)
2) OK, let's catch the people who don't stop long enough while turning on red (I guess that is bad)
3) Let's catch the people who "block the box" while making left turns (is that even illegal?)

And of course, the real issue is a few companies are lobbying hard to install these cameras and run their billing systems.

by charlie on Jun 8, 2010 11:59 am • linkreport

Yea to ksu499! "Platform" is not a verb. I suppose Alpert can think he's on the cutting edge of language reform by using it, but personally, I think it make him sound like a doofus.

The southbound Glebe Rd light is already out of sync with the left turn light off northbound Glebe onto Fairfax. That's not the problem. It is 1) the existence of another light a mere one block away on Fairfax (400-500 feet) and then, 2) the onramp to 66. These things are really only a problem in the AM rush.

JB's argument that "if you don't want a ticket, don't run the red" is sickeningly similar to the "if you've got nothing to hide, then why do you object to policemen searching you" argument. I recognize that an ounce of prevention is worth a .... but I'd rather not have faceless, automated devices enforcing the law. The prevention should come at the driver's education and driver's licensing step. I see far too many drivers that really shouldn't have licenses in the first place, given that they are 1) a menace to themselves and society, and 2) apparently unfamiliar with driving practice. And why is it that traffic enforcement seems mostly to be done by the use of traps? Speed traps. HOV traps. No left turn traps. Newly installed stop sign traps. What about patrolling?

by Josh S on Jun 8, 2010 12:07 pm • linkreport

"Platform" is commonly used as a verb in this context.

by David Alpert on Jun 8, 2010 12:10 pm • linkreport

"if you don't want a ticket, don't run the red" is sickeningly similar to the "if you've got nothing to hide, then why do you object to policemen searching you" argument.

No, it's not. There is a Constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures. What Constitutional right does a red-light camera violate?

by Miriam on Jun 8, 2010 12:35 pm • linkreport

@Miriam,

Since the companies that make and operate the cameras refuse to release their source code camera tickets violate your constitutional right to face your accuser. Additionally, when you receive a camera ticket you are presumed guilty and to contest it have to prove your innocence rather than the camera operators having to prove that it was properly calibrated, working correctly, etc.

For example, I once received a speed camera ticket issued at a time when I (and my car) were several hundred miles away from the camera (the license plate in the photo was blurred and had bee misread.) Yet, the system clearly subverted the presumption of innocence in requiring me to produce proof that car in the picture was not mine rather than requiring the camera operator to provide proof that it was.

by Jacob on Jun 8, 2010 1:14 pm • linkreport

"And why is it that traffic enforcement seems mostly to be done by the use of traps? Speed traps. HOV traps. No left turn traps. Newly installed stop sign traps."

Because people stop breaking the law temporarily when they see my scout car sitting there, and then continue to run stop signs, speed, etc. when they don't think I'm watching. Having a few traps introduces uncertainty and causes people to think twice about running that stop sign, blowing that light, passing on the right, etc. I've noticed that people whom I've ticketed on my beat have, by and large, corrected their behavior.

"What about patrolling?"

Because sometimes the geography, traffic patterns, road structure, congestion, etc. aren't conducive to effective traffic enforcement.

by Boomhauer on Jun 8, 2010 1:18 pm • linkreport

@Jacob,

I contested a speeding ticket once. The judge did not ask the officer who issued the ticket to prove that she was sober and had good eyesight when she issued the ticket. Rather, I had to explain why I thought that the ticket was not valid. Also, while I was waiting for my turn, a woman appeared to represent her son, whose name was on a ticket. She had a signed statement from her son's commanding officer, attesting to his presence on base in Kansas at the time the ticket was issued in Maryland.

To me, this all sounds quite similar to your speeding ticket experience, except that your ticket was issued by a camera and mine and the woman's son's were issued by a police officer. I'm assuming that the traffic court I appeared in did not violate anybody's constitutional rights. So what am I missing here?

by Miriam on Jun 8, 2010 1:39 pm • linkreport

You don't get to go to traffic court when you get a automated ticket. What you get a reversal of the burden of proof. Constitutional people might argue that since it isn't a criminal action -- just an administrative one -- you don't get full protections. One reason they don't get put on insurance reports.

by charlie on Jun 8, 2010 1:57 pm • linkreport

This addresses Maryland law. DC and Virginia may be slightly different.

Camera-enforcement is a money grab
Perhaps, but this is not a tax. It is a voluntary payment you make in exchange for inconveniencing and endangering the people around you. Can you come up with a more cost-effective way of improving traffic safety? And, yes, they are put up in locations where there are frequent violations, because those are the areas where behavior needs to be changed the most.

Vendors push cameras to make money
Yes. And radar and laser speed detection companies push their product to make money.

Points, penalties
The penalty for a camera ticket is a civil penalty like a parking ticket, not a criminal penalty that can land you in jail. The ticket is issued to the vehicle owner, not the driver, because the camera cannot determine who is driving, just as a parking meter cannot determine who parked a car. This is also why points cannot be assessed.

Search and seizure
This comment is bizarre; there is neither a search nor a seizure. A camera ticket is far less invasive than a traffic stop. In any case, it is well established in case law that you have only very limited privacy rights with regard to a vehicle in a public roadway.

Facing your accuser
If you contest a camera ticket you do go to traffic court and you do face your accuser, the police officer that actually issued the ticket. Tickets are not automatic. They have to be reviewed by law enforcement before they can be issued. The source code issue is a red herring. Radar detector companies do not provide their source code, either. Cameras have to be routinely checked and calibrated. Logs and certifications must be presented as evidence in a trial. And with a red-light camera, the photo of a car in an intersection with the red signal lit is usually pretty convincing.

by Stanton Park on Jun 8, 2010 2:48 pm • linkreport

Josh S: I think Miriam rebutted pretty well on my behalf, but it's basically a difference of a private space (your home) and a public space with no presumption of privacy. You would not (I hope!) say that a police officer citing violators with his/her own eyes is invading their privacy--so what's the difference if a camera does so, later verified by human eyes off site?

That said, Jacob's experience is a bit sobering. Clearly, there should be some kind of simple way for those ticketed unfairly to challenge their tickets easily. And yet the system of challenging human-issued tickets can be just as frustrating. (Ever try challenging a DC parking ticket?)

The issue in Frisco, TX, seems to be 1. that there were only a few cameras, and everyone knew where they were; and 2. the city used a private contractor.

If you have cameras mounted everywhere--which may or may not be turned on and monitored--then people will ultimately just decide never to run the light. And if you let the city run the system, then there's only the capital cost of the cameras. The people who visually verify after the fact could be put on other duties if the violations drop enough.

Boomhauer: Great to have a cop posting here. You add a much-needed perspective. Or should I say, dang old whatdocallit dang old that there perspective thing, man.

by JB on Jun 8, 2010 3:22 pm • linkreport

Boomhauer: what jurisdiction are you in? I have not heard the term "scout car" since I lived in Cincinnati and that's how the police dept referred to their patrol Suburbans.

by ksu499 on Jun 8, 2010 7:34 pm • linkreport

Since the companies that make and operate the cameras refuse to release their source code camera tickets violate your constitutional right to face your accuser. Additionally, when you receive a camera ticket you are presumed guilty and to contest it have to prove your innocence rather than the camera operators having to prove that it was properly calibrated, working correctly, etc.

Both of these arguments have been repeatedly struck down by the courts -- the "right to face your accuser" argument in Shavitz v. City of High Point and Van Harken v. City of Chicago, and the "presumption of innocence" argument in Shavitz and Van Harken as well as State of Oregon v. Dahl, City of Chicago v. Hertz, Idris v. City of Chicago and Agomo v. Fenty. (Yes, that Fenty. D.C. Court of Appeals represent!)

(Captcha: "comment duffers". Well, yes.)

by cminus on Jun 8, 2010 7:50 pm • linkreport

In general, I'm suspicious of giving the state additional technological means to pry into my life. I think that the source code comment perhaps gets at the question of how the camera can be operated. Is it really only triggered by some sort of sensor that only activates when the law is being broken? How does a sensor know when the law is being broken? Wouldn't it be possible instead to have the camera operated remotely and take pictures of the people the state wants to take pictures of? This sounds paranoid, of course, but the point is to avoid circumstances where paranoia can even enter into the picture.

I don't necessarily begrudge the operation of "traps." I, too, get indignant when seeing scofflaws who apparently feel they own the road. And if a trap can occasionally slap them down with a hefty fine and perhaps additional penalties, that's great. But at least the human being in the police uniform who is operating the trap has the ability to use judgment. The Hollywood example is the man speeding to the hospital with his pregnant wife. A police officer would potentially excuse such behavior. A speed trap camera, on the other hand, wouldn't even know.

Yes, sensors are calibrated, tested, etc etc blah blah blah. But if the state penalizes me and when I object, their answer is "the computer said it is so" and that's final, well, I'm not terribly pleased with that situation.

(And furthermore, I don't see how you get around the problem of ticketing the car owner when the car owner isn't necessarily driving.)

by Josh S on Jun 9, 2010 11:06 am • linkreport

Is it really that hard to design Bus Stops.

What happen to testing stuff out first such as getting a wheelchair and seeing if it can fit or to see if there is way to reach the sidewalk when the other part is blocked off.

And why is there only one way to enter/exit the stop.

by kk on Jun 9, 2010 1:49 pm • linkreport

I can't understand the argument that equates traffic cameras(and new laws for that matter) to raising money. It's illegal and unsafe to run red lights. It's illegal and unsafe to speed excessively(esp around schools). If you obey the law,you won't get a ticket. It's that simple. You only get punished if you do something wrong.

It's the same thing when they try to make it illegal to talk on a cell phone/text while driving. Despite all the studies showing how unsafe it is(the freakin' Mythbusters even proved it),you still have people complaining that the city/state/county is just trying to raise money.

by dynaryder on Jun 9, 2010 1:55 pm • linkreport

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