Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Bike hate and Smart Growth love


Photo by andertho on Flickr.
Weekend car-nage: A taxi hit two pedestrians while they were in a crosswalk on the Mall, and three other pedestrians were hit around DC (DCist) ... A possibly drunk SUV driver hit and killed a cyclist in Germantown (WashCycle) ... A 19-year-old cyclist was killed in New Mexico while on a cross-country ride to fight cancer. (Politics Daily via WashCycle)

Bike lanes and you: Today's "Daily Gripe" asks DDOT to stripe the R Street bike lane all the way through the intersection with Rhode Island Avenue (Post) ... Some cars parked in the Pennsylvania Avenue lanes over the weekend. (TheWashCycle)

Trite, indeed: Jaime Fearer wrote, "If all trite anti-biker notions vomited into an editorial, this would be that piece. Michael Johnson says DC has added new residents and offices but "a stubborn refusal to accommodate the additional traffic." Um, where would you like to "accommodate" it, exactly? Unfortunately, one cyclist was rude to his daughter after an incident whose details we don't know, but it sounds like she almost hit him. (Examiner) Update: TheWashCycle, naturally, has a thorough rebuttal.

Best McCartney column ever: Bob McCartney articulates the case for Smart Growth at Tysons, White Flint, Shady Grove, Greenbelt, New Carrollton, and the Green Line in DC, and assuages those who want single-family homes that it's not a war on houses, but Til Hazel still isn't happy. And thanks for the help on the Virginia WMATA funding. (Post)

Dr. G to Metro: "Fix something": Dr. Gridlock might be reacting to our criticism of the Post's negativity on Metro when he suggests Metro find some things to fix, maybe escalators or air conditioning, to start rebuilding rider confidence. (Post)

Fight over Clarendon outdoor seating: The local homeowners' association and civic association are opposing outdoor seating for a new American Flatbread in Clarendon. The restaurant is responding by emailing customers and running an online petition. Anyone have some impartial knowledge of the issue? (ARLnow, Gavin)

MoCo employees not sharing: Montgomery County is terminating its car sharing program for county employees to check out Enterprise hybrids. "Critics" say it failed because the County wouldn't reduce its number of fleet vehicles. (Brian Hughes/Examiner)

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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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broken link at "criticism of the Post's negativity"

by Michael Perkins on Jun 28, 2010 8:36 am • linkreport

geez, those people on PA ave were simply trying to make a left and didn't realize they were in the bike lane, take a chill pill bike people!

by SA on Jun 28, 2010 8:46 am • linkreport

Are bicycles still required to be licensed? I thought DC got rid of that law. Michael Johnson attempts to make hay with bicycles being unlicensed.

by Michael Perkins on Jun 28, 2010 8:55 am • linkreport

SA: I think the article says some were trying to turn but at least one was parked.

Michale Perkins: yes, that's one of thge many inaccuracies. Too many bad arguments, not enough space.

by David Alpert on Jun 28, 2010 9:21 am • linkreport

There is no way to license or register a bicycle in DC. MPD encourages residents to register their bicycles with the National Bicycle Registry (NBR)., which makes it easier to recover stolen bikes.

Incidentally, whether the daughter almost hit him or not, it sounds like that bicyclist was way out of line. Unfortunately, aggressive, obnoxious jerk riders are the ones that tend to get attention. The thousands or normal people ridig bikes don;t get mentioned in columns.

by jcm on Jun 28, 2010 9:25 am • linkreport

Coincidentally, my wife and I almost got run over on Jefferson, in a crosswalk with the walk signal. (Of course the driver got an earful from us). I have the most trouble with people turning left; they seem to get impatient and grant themselves right-of-way over pedestrians. They accelerate towards the crosswalk trying to intimidate you into stopping. I just keep walking but if I had kids/family with me I might have to yield as it's not worth risking it, and there is little chance of enforcement.

by matt on Jun 28, 2010 9:39 am • linkreport

The American Flatbread has two issues. One is to open outdoor seating on its property, in a back walkway/alleyway that abuts a home. Apparently the site isn't zoned for outdoor cafes currently. The second issue is seating in the sidewalk along 11th & Fillmore, which requires a public ROW use permit.

The site is 3 blocks from Clarendon Metro in a new mixed-use building that also includes a wine bar and chocolate shop. Despite being so close to the Metro station, the corner and nearby streets generally have calm traffic and fairly quiet pedestrians.

by Gavin on Jun 28, 2010 9:50 am • linkreport

That Examiner piece truly was awful. I think the Penn Ave bike lanes are a fatality waiting to happen (as well as an example of DDOT's planning inability). But the Johnson piece was simply a mess.

by Fritz on Jun 28, 2010 10:13 am • linkreport

At about 6pm on Friday, I saw a guy in a pick-up truck drive through the Penn Ave bike lanes headed east. He looked somewhat agitated and was flipping the bird at somebody. I think the closest biker was a half block away and seemed to be riding quite peacefully, so I'm not sure that this had anything to do with him.

Upside is that the bollards gave him a few dings on the side of his truck. It's a pity he didn't take on one of the more solid ones protecting the light poles.

by HM on Jun 28, 2010 10:29 am • linkreport

Michael Johnson says DC has added new residents and offices but "a stubborn refusal to accommodate the additional traffic."

Maybe Mr Johnson needs to check out the US Census circa 1950 - DC had over 800,000 residents - today it is just shy of 600,000. Funny - seems to me that they used a lot of streetcars back then.

re: American Flatbread - this is the same sort I-66 broken promise scam that Arlington residents continually have to put up with. The building developers managed to get a zoning exemption to permit a too-large building right next to/abutting a residential street. The deal, in exchange for the zoning exemption, was to provide a buffer zone between the building and the surrounding residential neighborhood. Now suddenly, now that they have the over-size building built, they want to change the buffer zone into outside dining/commercial use. It's the old bait and switch - anybody who has lived in Arlington since I-66 was built is quite used to broken promises and being treated like crap and being made to look like NIMBY bad guys when the other side blatantly breaks their promises.

by andy on Jun 28, 2010 11:13 am • linkreport

Arlington needs more outdoor eating areas, and I think the local homeowners can shut up.

by charlie on Jun 28, 2010 11:44 am • linkreport

Is Mr. Johnson saying that more people in cars means less traffic?

Plus I was enlightened by the line of though that access to bicycles is as much a human rights issue as it a transportation issue. It's a wonderful thing that you don't need a liscense or need to register your bike like a you would a car. It gives you a freedom of movement while being completely environmentally friendly.)

by Canaan on Jun 28, 2010 12:02 pm • linkreport

Sure Charlie - and Arlington also needs more tanneries slaughterhouses too. Why bother having zoning? It's just a bunch of whiners complaining.

by andy on Jun 28, 2010 12:21 pm • linkreport

SA, there were about 8 cars parked, and two lined up to turn left.

by David C on Jun 28, 2010 1:27 pm • linkreport

Does anyone know where I could find rules of the road for DC cyclists? I was accosted several weeks ago by a cyclist that accused me of almost killing him when I changed lanes from a right lane to the left.

I honestly didn't see the cyclist despite having checked my mirrors. After he banged on my car and asked if I was a "fucking idiot" I apologized and after he rode off I realized that he should have been on the right not traveling up the center.

He owes me an apology as such I'd still like to know what the rules are so the next time it happens I'll be prepared to shoot back with some knowledge.

by NPGMBR on Jun 28, 2010 1:39 pm • linkreport

I apologized and after he rode off I realized that he should have been on the right not traveling up the center.

The cyclist has every right to take the full lane in DC if the lane is too narrow for a car to pass with a safe passing distance while in the same lane as the cyclist. That pretty much describes 99.9999% of the travel lanes in DC. Cyclists usually try to stay as far right as they can as a courtesy to drivers. It's not legally required.

Should the cyclist have been mean to you? No. Do folks sometimes get a little vocal when someone almost kills them through carelessness? Yep.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2010 2:00 pm • linkreport

Not to take a side,but did you look first,or just check your mirror? I learned a long time ago not to trust my mirrors in heavy traffic.

WABA.org has a general run down of area laws. ddot.dc.gov has bike laws,as well as the DC Code online,but you have to search through them.

by dynaryder on Jun 28, 2010 2:21 pm • linkreport

@NPGMBR. Here is a link to the bike laws.

Cyclists are not required to right to the right. They used to be, with many exceptions, but that is no longer the case.

by David C on Jun 28, 2010 2:27 pm • linkreport

Also, not seeing a cyclist is not a valid excuse for hitting or almost hitting them. It is an admission of negligence.

by David C on Jun 28, 2010 2:33 pm • linkreport

@ NPGMBR, I've had the experience so many times where a driver passes me while driving in the left lane (w/me riding in the right lane or on the right side of the right lane) and then 3 seconds later the driver changes lanes and cuts me off.

So I always wonder -"Am I invisible?" No. "Did the driver just forget I was there immediately after passing me?" "Did the driver just not register my presence mentally b/c I'm on a bike instead of in a car (size-effect?)?"

So, are you absolutely certain you didn't pass this biker and "not see" him because you're not accustomed to "seeing" bikers? (or whatever the reason is that I treated like I'm invisible so often)?

Not accusing. Seeking insight into this phenomenan in which I so often seem invisible to drivers.

by Bianchi on Jun 28, 2010 2:43 pm • linkreport

I just ate at American Flatbread this weekend. It was quite good and I really don't see how outdoor seating would harm anyone at that location.

by NikolasM on Jun 28, 2010 2:45 pm • linkreport

NPGMBR,

Unless the cyclist was using is cloaking device, you not seeing him indicates a failure of you to drive appropriately. The maximum speed of even a fast cyclist is such that he likely didn't just come up to you in the moment after you checked your mirrors. As a driver of a multi-thousand pound piece of metal that is known to have the capacity to easily kill individuals on bicycles, you have a responsibility to see cyclists. Although the intelligent cyclist does as much a possible to be seen, as the driver of the car, you have a greater ethical responsibility.

by Huck on Jun 28, 2010 9:25 pm • linkreport

@Huck, Unless the cyclist was using is cloaking device, you not seeing him indicates a failure of you to drive appropriately.

Not necessarily ... We don't know if this was a slowing moving traffic situation or a fast moving one. A bike traveling at a much slower speed than the general traffic might very well not be 'visible' with sufficient time for a driver to react ... No different than if a pedestrian was walking down center of a road with traffic 'flying by' at what is a normal speed for that traffic. We'd say the pedestrian was crazy for doing so ... and I'd say the cyclist is no less crazy. It's a matter of being responsible for your own safety. No one cares as much about you as you (obviously) care about yourself. Put that self-centeredness to good use.

by Lance on Jun 28, 2010 10:22 pm • linkreport

@Lance:

Of course, since the legal speed limit in DC is (with few exceptions), and even the least fit cyclist can ride at more than 15 mph, the speed differential will be less than 10 mph. That is, unless, as Lance says, traffic is "flying by" as most auto traffic does in DC.

One of the many reasons why pedestrians and cyclists "get" that speed limits matter--regardless of the complete contempt you average driver has for such things.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2010 10:28 pm • linkreport

A bike traveling at a much slower speed than the general traffic might very well not be 'visible' with sufficient time for a driver to react ... No different than if a pedestrian was walking down center of a road with traffic 'flying by' at what is a normal speed for that traffic.

I think we'll need a better explanation of such a hypothetical situation, anyway. This sounds like so much hand-waving. A cyclist isn't visible because a driver is passing him at such a great rate of speed? What's the driver doing? 60mph?

by oboe on Jun 28, 2010 10:30 pm • linkreport

@Oboe, Like you say it's the differential that counts. The differential between the cyclist's speed and the speed the traffic is driving at ... and not the speed you believe the traffic should be driving at. We could argue all day what speed the traffic should be traveling at, but there's only one person ultimately responsible for accessing that differential in any specific situation ... and that is the cyclist who'll bear the brunt of an accident if that differential is too large.

by Lance on Jun 28, 2010 10:40 pm • linkreport

*assessing

by Lance on Jun 28, 2010 10:41 pm • linkreport

Plus I was enlightened by the line of though that access to bicycles is as much a human rights issue as it a transportation issue.

i'm not sure if i've ever heard/read anyone say this but myself. if someone 'respectable' wrote it somewhere, i'd like to see it! it's a super-important argument to make, and one most of us are not making yet. when we start going on the offensive using this argument, by, for instance, demanding bike lanes on traffic sewers like New York Ave., we'll really be putting ourselves in a much better position for more/better/faster progress.

John Pucher, 'the bicycle scholar', has talked about allowing people to bike in terms of 'social justice' -- that is, economic opportunity, independence/self-reliance, etc. -- all of that is essentially equivalent to the 'human rights' argument, imo.

by Peter Smith on Jun 29, 2010 12:56 am • linkreport

Michael Johnson says DC has added new residents and offices but "a stubborn refusal to accommodate the additional traffic."

Tell that to Arlington, which has seen no traffic increase despite enormous [smart] growth.

by Matthias on Jun 29, 2010 12:01 pm • linkreport

The Post talks about Tysons but seems to miss the opportunities for improved development at Dunn-Loring (some of which is already on-going), Vienna (what happened to the MetroWest initiative?), and the two Fall Churches?

The love-o-Tysons seems to miss places with an existing Metro ripe for development.

by What happened to MetroWest on Jun 30, 2010 12:47 am • linkreport

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