Greater Greater Washington

A human connection can help foster bike harmony

"Don't cut me off while I'm biking. You'll get a finger and either a spark plug or u-lock through your windshield."


Image from Saddle Sores Bicycle Club.

Is this confrontational relationship with drivers the answer for cyclists? What is to be done, and how do we get there?

I'm going to borrow a bit from John Rawls for our social contract. Imagine you put on a veil where you know nothing about yourself. This veil blinds you from knowing who you are and what you do.

What laws and rules for society, specifically for cyclists, would you choose? Since you don't know whether you're a "Soccer Mom" or ride by "One Less Car", it would be irrational to skew a law to the advantage of either. Only truly just and fair laws would emerge.

Some people bike for both the commute and exercise. Some just want to play polo. Others are competitive and want to race. All of these are great reasons to go out and ride. The fact is people bike for fun: whether for exercise, commuting, playing polo, or racing; people do it because it brings them pleasure and enjoyment. And people as a whole respond to incentives.

This is a two part issue that relies on both sides. I do believe cars and bikers can co-exist and have a symbiotic relationship (and I've never even been to Portland). Here's how we get there:

First we must figure out a way to communicate to others what exactly a biker is. How do we put the human factor back into the equation? Drivers often forget that the cyclist they just buzzed could be their husband, their neighbor, or their daughter's best friend. In a world of now, the mental link is lost.


SSBC members clean up Marshall Street. Image from Saddle Sores Bicycle Club.
One way to establish this is through a relationship between the citizens (read: all citizens) and local government to bring together and improve community. The Saddle Sores Bike Club in Richmond, VA has adopted a major biking artery in the city. They clean it up once a month, removing debris and trash, just like the Adopt-A-Highway program.

Gene Stroman of the club says, "After four clean-ups we got a sign that says 'This artery adopted by Saddle Sores Bike Club.' We hope that drivers and other citizens will see us out there, or see our sign posted, and realize it's everyday people that are being active to benefit their community."

The Cutthroats Bike Club in Richmond stepped up and held a holiday bike drive, complete with a dance party and talent show. Teaming up with the Neighborhood Resource Center, they raised money to put disadvantaged youth (up to 18) on bikes for the holiday, those that rely on a bicycle for transportation the most.

Richmond is no goldmine for bikers compared to the DC area. Namely, there are a total of two bike lanes in the greater Richmond area, though the Mayor has made wonderful strides and commitments to change this.

Oddly enough, drivers in Richmond are much more accepting toward bikers riding on the street and sharing the road. That's a stark contrast to some of the experiences I've had in the Greater DC area, where it almost seems bikers are expected to ride on the trails (Vienna, I'm looking at you). Adding the human factor into the equation would help mend some of the animosity between drivers and bikers.

But the bikers aren't off the hook either. Wild maneuvers, blowing through lights without slowing down, antagonizing cars, and flipping the bird hardly help. Bikers can increase awareness through what I like to call 'Critical Manners.' Critical Mass, as I've found in DC and Richmond, is really nothing more than Critical Sass: bikers take over as much of the road as possible in a large group to show their unified strength. A Critical Manners ride would not try to dominate, but show that even in large groups, sharing the road is about just that: sharing the road with other modes of transportation.

Another way to get information out is to host free Bike Symposiums. RideRichmond hosted a free Biking Symposium at VCU designed to educate newcomers and old-timers in the city on all the activities available on bikes, and the safety and laws surrounding them. The incentive? Attendees received a free blinky light set.

And we could always easily have a 'bike week' in the area. Possible events to keep fun and education free? A Biking Symposium, Safety Dance Party, Bike Polo Tournament, Bike Swap (public park), Bike Round-Up (minor tune-up), Bike Registration with Police, Goldsprints, and maybe even a Pizza Ride and screening of Breaking Away.

Sometimes I wonder why Richmond, with two bike lanes and no Bike-Ped coordinator, can pull something like this off, yet DC with WABA, FABB, BikeArlington, and all the co-ops and shops can't.

Remember our social contract? I do believe that if everyone put on the veil, they would support what's come to be known as the Idaho stop. Cyclists are allowed to treat red lights as stop signs. This creates an incentive for bikers. Cars inherently travel faster than bikes, so why punish bikers for using an alternative mode of transportation?

Unfortunately, the cyclist will always get the short end of a stick vs. a car in a collision. And even if cars follow the two-feet passing law, any cyclist will tell you two-feet really isn't enough on most roads: cyclists ride to the right and drivers sit on the left. 2 feet perceived by the driver is often much less than actual 2 feet.

At the end of the day, you don't have to spend $3,500 on a bike and wear a spandex skin suit to go out and have fun. Biking is for everyone. If you're looking to expand your horizons, or even learn more, there are plenty of bicycle co-ops in the area that are looking for volunteers to help educate and 'share the love' of biking.

Michael Gilbert is a new resident of Alexandria after living in Richmond for many years, where he was involves with RideRichmond, the Velocity Bike Co-Op, and Saddle Sores Bicycle Club.

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Michael Gilbert is a new resident of Alexandria after living in Richmond for many years, where he was involved with RideRichmond and Saddle Sores Bicycle Club. He currently volunteers at the Velocity Bike Co-Op. 

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Mike, this is an excellent article and is very well written. Well done.

by Greg on Feb 3, 2011 2:52 pm • linkreport

I think a lot of this is good and decent in its own right, and probably a great way for like-minded folks to meet others, and cultivate a sense of community, etc, etc...

But, y'know, man...sometimes you just want to ride your bike to the store (or work, or a friend's house, etc, etc...)

by oboe on Feb 3, 2011 3:02 pm • linkreport

A good read Mike.

by NickB on Feb 3, 2011 3:03 pm • linkreport

Mike, welcome to Washington. You'll soon learn that 95% of your fellow citizens here are pathological assholes, and the 5% just blog about them. So a lot of your good ideas go to waste....

The first step of freedom is admitting that you, someone who rides a biycle, has NOTHING in common with other bicycle riders. We are not a community. We are just a way of getting around.

Takes a lot of the fun out of it for some people, but hey, a lot of cyclists are pathological anyway. So you probably don't want to be friends with them anyway....

Funny story. I was back at my parents, looking at ancient 1976 sting ray junior and wondering if it can be refurbished for another generation, and found my AAA "Inspection Sticker" on it from 5th grade. Just a reminder from a simpler and more innocent time when cars and bicycles were not at war.....

by charlie on Feb 3, 2011 3:07 pm • linkreport

Charlie-going to disagree with you slightly. I'd say that 95% are "pathological assholes" when they get behind the wheel. A lot of them are pretty nice outside that context.

As a pedestrian, I'm just going to keep carrying a big stick to whack the vehicles of drivers that ignore my ROW and risk my safety.

Mike-I like your idea of a Critical Manners ride. It always seemed to me that Critical Mass rides were counterproductive. It feels good as a cyclists to be "king of the road" for that brief period of time, but it totally disrupts the regular flow of traffic and just serves to irritate every motorist held up because of it.

by thump on Feb 3, 2011 3:27 pm • linkreport

Good article. I just moved to Paris from Arlington,.. Back in Arlington, I tried to avoid streets as much as possible when biking after some crazy woman driver deliberately tried to cut me off for no apparent reason. Here in Paris, on the other hand, it is amazing how bikes and cars share the road in a civilized way. The mayor is trying to reduce the number of cars driven in the city and he is promoting bikes and bike sharing. Perhaps because of this, as well as the sheer number of cyclists in the street, drivers are quite careful around bikes. It just goes to show what can be done when there is political support. Paris is becoming a great city for cyclists!

by Kathy on Feb 3, 2011 3:41 pm • linkreport

I think part of the car-vs-bike tensions in America are a product of a self-reinforcing cultural cycle. We don't have the bike infrastructure of Europe. And I don't just mean bike lanes and bike parking, but also little things like tracks adjacent to stairways to help people move their bikes around.

So we don't encourage biking, so biking is not as popular and thus seen as hipster or hippie or "Eastern European" (thanks, Lance).

Kids don't grow up using bicycles because parents quite sensibly observe that it's not safe to many areas. So these kids grow up expecting and believing that streets are just for cars, and cars are the main/best way to get around.

So they vote for highways and parking and whatnot. And raise their kids not to ride bikes. And so the cycle continues.

(This of course also goes for transit and walkability in general)

by EJ on Feb 3, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

Great article and ideas, Mike. Hope you can make it south of the Rappahannock once in a while for a ride once things warm up.

by TerryD on Feb 3, 2011 4:30 pm • linkreport

I put the blame for biker backlash, like is going on in NYC purely with the bikers. And I am a biker myself.

Before you jump down my throat, think about it.

Bicycles SHOULD be about as controversial as kittens. They are good for you, good for the environment and most everyone grew up with a positive experience with one.

So something must have gone wrong. Maybe it was the bike couriers in the 90s (I admit, I was one of those aholes) or maybe it is the attitude displayed, or maybe it is just putting down bike lanes without community comment. Whatever it is, something changed in how some view bikers. The cycling community needs to figure that out.

by blogo on Feb 3, 2011 4:43 pm • linkreport

So the blame is "purely with the bikers"?

by Fred on Feb 3, 2011 4:50 pm • linkreport

Whatever it is, something changed in how some view bikers. The cycling community needs to figure that out.

The DC metro area is the second most congested in the country. Most drivers on DC roads during rush-hour have commuted incredibly long distances. They just spent 40 minutes trying to get across the 14th Street bridge, because there was a fender-bender, or DDOT was doing road work (On a MONDAY!!!).

Finally they get into town, and things open up just a tiny bit, and all of a sudden...what the Hell! A damned cyclist! Finally, they've got an actual living breathing scapegoat to pin their hour and a half of frustrations onto. Honk honk! "Get the fuck out of the road!!"

It's *anything* but a positive experience encountering one if you're one of our region's commuters. Of course, you need some sort of pivot-point you can use to invert your irrational anger into some sort of rational anger--to escape being the aggressor, you've got to make yourself the victim.

So, lo and behold! "That guy ran *right* through that stop sign! He could have killed me!!! Or a pedestrian!! Scofflaw!!!"

If every cyclist obeyed the law every single moment, haters would settle on their clothing. If cyclists wore nothing but khakis and golf shirts, they'd settle on their footwear.

What went wrong is that the lives of those folks with whom cyclists share the road started to suck. They're mad as Hell, and all they need is an target.

by oboe on Feb 3, 2011 4:58 pm • linkreport

@oboe:

+1000

Drivers hate cyclists because driving your car in rush hour traffic sucks, and riding a bike doesn't. "Why am I sitting in traffic while THAT GUY gets to squeeze between cars and go faster?! RAGE!"

Then they see a couple really crazy bike messengers/idiots do something stupid, and suddenly everyone on two wheels is a maniac outlaw.

I'll come to a full and complete stop with my foot down on the ground at a stop sign the day that I see a single car come to a complete and total dead stop and look for traffic at a stop sign. The only time I ever see a car do so is when there's a pedestrian actively walking through a crosswalk.

by MLD on Feb 3, 2011 5:10 pm • linkreport

It could be the fact that a guy on a fixed-gear spoke harshly to them once. Or it could be that:

In 1982, the average Washington area commuter spent 21 hours stuck in traffic. That more than doubled to 48 hours by 1992 and jumped to 67 in 2002. The national average is 46.

That figure was 70 hours in 2009 (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/News/2011/01/20_TTIreport.htm).

by oboe on Feb 3, 2011 5:11 pm • linkreport

I understand where this (great) post is coming from, but I have a hard time relating. I've been biking to/from DC/Silver Spring (and/or Suitland) for years and have not had that nasty of a relationship with drivers. I mean, occasionally you encounter some idiot on his phone, but generally, its been fine. Am I completely alone in thinking that, outside of occasional-to-predictable inattentiveness, drivers in this area are accommodating?

I really think the whole drivers vs. bikers thing is overblown. I blame the internet. Mostly.

by JTS on Feb 3, 2011 5:47 pm • linkreport

Cycling is my exercise. I don't bike to make Al Gore happy, to join the so called "smart" growth movement or to impress hippy chicks with hairy armpits.

Mainstream people get the impression that bikers think very highly of themselves, or that because they ride a bike they are "progressive".

So you've got a lot of the population disliking them from the get-go.

by TGEoA on Feb 3, 2011 5:57 pm • linkreport

@Thump; personally I wouldn't suggest using your stick. But that's your choice.

I do think you raise a good point, which is why anti-bike rhetoric is so high in Washington.

1. People here are assholes (my theory)
2. People are dumb commuters from farmland suburbs (Oboe); he has a point, there are some dumb suburban commuters but most of those stay out in the suburbs and only pop up a few times.
3. Maryland drivers
4. Taxis drivers from foreign countries
5. Bicyclist from foreign countries

I doubt there is one unified theory. The ugly legacy of the bike messengers is still with us.

Also, honestly, as a driver, I get upset a bike very rarely -- the worst they usually do is block up traffic, and mostly I just say, wow, you're stupid. As a pedestrian, however, during bike season I feel like a target painted on my back. I've been yelled at, spit at, charged at, and what not. Nowhere as bad as the 1990s, but it is getting worse.

by charlie on Feb 3, 2011 6:34 pm • linkreport

Mike, I like your point about the importance of introducing some human faces into the equation, but I think there's loads of events here like what you're looking for. There's a regular bike polo league, a number of swaps, WABA's bike prom, the Swedish blueberry ride, Arlington/DC community ride, etc.

~

Where in the world are you walking, Charlie? I've been walking and riding here since 97 and have never seen a cyclist do that to a pedestrian. I've seen idiotic moves that disregard the presence of the pedestrian, but I've never seen directed aggression.* Ever.

*Unless you count calling someone an @sshole as you ride around them after they stepped in front of you. That I've seen a few times on the MVT. And it's true. The pedestrians were @ssholes in those cases.

by MB on Feb 3, 2011 6:46 pm • linkreport

Re: The fact is people bike for fun

This reminds me of the joke: Why do women close their eyes when they kiss? Because they hate to see a guy have a good time.

Similarly having fun on our roadways has a long history of being socially unacceptable. Joy-riding and joy-walking (later shortened to j-walking) were terms applied to scoundrels.

Now combine this with traditional teaching of "Don't be dead right." So even if it was accepted cyclists have a lawful right to bicycle on the road, if other people feel it is unsafe for cyclists to be there cyclists are in violation of conventional wisdom. And now to add to drivers frustration with a "But cyclists are having fun..." is enough for the average motorIST to lose it.

It's rather sad that one of the top motivators for us to bike more is the fun factor and it is also a reason why motorIST want us off the road.

I have no real response to this other then question why can't getting from point A to B be fun?

by Barry Childress on Feb 3, 2011 6:55 pm • linkreport

"Mike, welcome to Washington. You'll soon learn that 95% of your fellow citizens here are pathological assholes, and the 5% just blog about them."

bah haha! Had to take a knee after reading that.

But seriously... consider the mountain biking community. Their sport lives and dies according to their access to public lands. They understand that, and that is one reason they do a lot of trail maintenance. They are mitigating the damage they cause, and also improving their public relations with other trail users. When mountain biking you are taught to act right while on single track, which means respecting the other users, whether they are hiking, biking, hunting, or horseback riding.

by Mark P on Feb 3, 2011 7:30 pm • linkreport

Charlie-The stick is my only recourse. I have roughly 5 close calls per week crossing Rt.1/RI Ave 2-8 times a day (Defining "close call" as within touching distance). If they have that much regard for my life, I have that much regard for their vehicle. I and other pedestrians in Mt. Rainier (Yeah yeah, MD drivers...I submit that VA + DC aren't exceptions to your rule 3) have received exactly zero protection from our, otherwise fantastic, police dept.
I'm hopeful that a culture change will come. It takes time to change such ingrained behaviors. More bike lanes/cyclist/better infrastructure/increased education outreach will change behavior. Even in places like Copenhagen it took time.

by thump on Feb 3, 2011 8:35 pm • linkreport

I'll step up and end the love parade -- I don't like this post for several reasons. In general, the post traffics (like that?) in the most untrue and pernicious and overused and boring cycling stereotypes available -- I can get that anytime I want from Fox News, Republican pols, the NYC DOT, WABA, etc. -- I don't need to get it at GGW too.

The post also reads like a big apologia for illegal and dangerous driver behavior -- as if drivers were just passive actors in this big game of Transportation -- victims of circumstance, like little babies, completely unable to determine the course of events unfolding around them.

"Don't cut me off while I'm biking. You'll get a finger and either a spark plug or u-lock through your windshield."

The above quote, for instance -- where did it come from? (Who cares - I just quote things all the time out of context and just say what I say and too bad blah blah blah.) Did someone just say it on the internets somewhere? (Yes.) Is it an indication of the general way in which the average biker views the average driver? (Of course not.) So why create/use it? (Because it makes for good 'war on cars' material and makes cyclists look bad.)

And the context is important. People make mistakes -- often careless and reckless ones, but still -- 'just' mistakes -- as opposed to the myriad serious and dangerous crimes that drivers intentionally commit against cyclists every day. So even for the most abused cyclist, a 'finger' or 'spark plug' or 'u-lock' answer will not be appropriate -- but don't let that stop you from painting all cyclists as psychopaths.

Is this confrontational relationship with drivers the answer for cyclists?

who is responsible for the confrontational relationship with drivers? is it entitled drivers, or abused cyclists?

it may be true that cyclists play a role in this 'confrontational' relationship (to the extent that it is confrontational, which is, if you look at it as a percentage of interactions, almost never), but they are not 'mostly' responsible -- they are not even 'significantly' responsible -- it is drivers who have most of the power in the relationship, and so bear the greatest burden for its state. it's easy to blame the victim -- I say be different -- say something different for a change -- say something true.

the cycling advocacy community has a lot to learn from the field of domestic violence -- many cyclists and cycling advocates show signs of battered person syndrome. cyclists need to learn things like, they don't deserve to be terrorized/injured/harmed/killed, they did not 'bring it on themselves,' etc.

What is to be done, and how do we get there?

Lots. Change the laws. That helps to change the culture - no more contempt for bikers from elected officials, cycling 'advocacy' organizations, etc. Build infrastructure. Demand that drivers act like adults, stop bullying, injuring, maiming, and terrorizing innocent bikers, etc. No rocket science here -- all common sense.

But I don't only have bad things to say -- John Rawls and The Veil of Ignorance (closely related to The Golden Rule) is a great concept. Could it ever be successful in getting drivers to not act like bullies and tyrants? I doubt it, but I don't really know. I'd prefer we start an 'Ask a Cyclist' column in the same vein as the ¡Ask A Mexican! column. Cyclists are the most knowledgeable/least ignorant users of the roads -- the ignorance of people who do not bike is at the root of most 'social tension' that exists on the roads (as I've pointed out before). Because this is so plainly true, and because we're afraid of telling the truth for various reasons, we don't often bother to point it out -- but it has to be done, since it is non-bikers, drivers in particular, who are most responsible for any of the 'confrontational' events that occur on the streets.

Arguing for The Idaho Stop is a positive, too, even if it is common sense and obviously right -- sometimes it can be difficult/unpopular to tell the truth.

But forcing cyclists to stop at red lights 'just because' is stupid. If you're smart and brave enough to challenge existing laws, then go all the way -- don the veil yourself and ask if it makes any sense to have pedestrians and cyclists and other non-car road users obey traffic signals that were designed specifically/only for cars. Once you answer that question -- 'no' -- obviously -- then figure out what rules it _does_ make sense for pedestrians and cyclists to obey (obey 'right of way' rules, yield to pedestrians, etc.), and stick those rules into the new/modified Idaho Stop/Red Law, and pass it.

Welcome to Alexandria! (I'm in San Jose, California.)

by Peter Smith on Feb 3, 2011 10:15 pm • linkreport

Oboe, Barry and Peter all bring up good points centered around one theme: the main problem lies with drivers. Which is not because drivers are bad people, and doesn't imply that cyclists don't have room to improve, but that is where most of the animosity starts.

One main reason is that most cyclists also drive (or used to) but most drivers don't bike (not in the road at least, maybe on a trail or along the boardwalk on a summer vacation). So they don't see anyway to empathize. In my experience many drivers - and most of the really angry ones - don't know the details of the law. They don't know why cyclists do the things they do, so they make up reasons that make the cyclist look bad ("Why is that cyclist taking the whole lane?" "He must be selfish because he thinks he's saving the planet.")

I actually like Peter's idea for an "Ask a Cyclist" column. Perhaps Dr. Gridlock could let Shane Farthing answer questions a few times a year.

by David C on Feb 4, 2011 6:50 am • linkreport

In my experience many drivers - and most of the really angry ones - don't know the details of the law.

Nor do many cyclists. A red light is a red light, regardless of the vehicle you are operating. Pedestrians in the crosswalk get right of way as well.

And I do not even own a car.

by Dave J on Feb 4, 2011 7:21 am • linkreport

Michael, I agree with everything you said, but I noticed that you only mentioned things bikers should do to improve relations and nothing for drivers. I think that highlights the real problem for bikers: drivers see the road as their domains and pedestrians see the sidewalk as theirs, leaving bikers in a sort of limbo where they need to work for permission to use the space.

In this post, it seems as if you assume that cyclists need to take action to demonstrate to drivers that they deserve to be on the road. That mentality makes it easy for drivers to operate as if bikes shouldn't be there in the first place. As both a biker and a driver, I can easily say that both sides need to take steps to ease relations, however, I think the ideal situation is bike lanes that are not on the road (I'm thinking on the other side of the parked cars) so that taxis, trucks, and government vehicles don't use them as a space to pull over.

by Will Urquhart on Feb 4, 2011 7:52 am • linkreport

As a pedestrian, however, during bike season I feel like a target painted on my back. I've been yelled at, spit at, charged at, and what not. Nowhere as bad as the 1990s, but it is getting worse.

Wow. Sorry to hear that. Where is this happening, anyway? When I read this, I was kind of reminded of a guy I used to go to school with. He'd always be complaining about what a hell-hole our town (Boulder) was because, "you can't even go out for a drink without someone throwing punches at you." I still have no idea how he managed to get into a fight every single time he went out, but sometimes you have to look at the common denominator. :)

by oboe on Feb 4, 2011 9:23 am • linkreport

Eff this noise. Drivers don't have to do an adopt a road or hold a canned food drive or any crap like this to have a right to the road. This is the biggest pile of nonsense I've read since Bryan Weaver told all of us that the reason young poor people are shooting each other in this city is because rich people aren't volunteering enough.

Making these kinds of contributions to society is a profoundly good thing, but it's not something anyone has to do to secure their rights.

by RT on Feb 4, 2011 11:09 am • linkreport

Good ideas.

But, bikers haven't reached a critical mass yet in DC. The reason that the relationship is as it is now is because we're in an awkward transition period between when the number of bikers used to be so low as to be only a small nuisance now and then, to now having more than doubled within a couple of years to the point where car drivers and bikers are only now getting REALLY acquainted. It's like when someone is growing their hair out, from short to long, there's always that awkward period in between where it's not long or short enough to look like a real hairstyle. Similarly in the DC area, when the number of bikers reaches the REAL critical mass, or the tipping point, car drivers and bikers will learn how to better operate in harmony--for the most part.

by Eric on Feb 4, 2011 1:51 pm • linkreport

And by "nuisance" I was speaking lightheartedly from a car driver's point of view.

by Eric on Feb 4, 2011 1:52 pm • linkreport

I think there’s a lot of truth in the idea that drivers are frustrated and sometimes take it out on weaker and smaller cyclists rather than other motor vehicles. I think a big part of the solution would be to make drivers more conscious that cyclists are just regular people like themselves. One way that I have found that works, on rural roads, is to become the driver’s friend, not his adversary. I do this by waving him on when I can see over the brow of the hill or around the corner and he can’t. If a car slows behind me because of oncoming traffic, when he pulls by I give him a big wave and a loud thank you. Often I get a wave back. I’ve just become a person instead of some d@mn jerk in spandex and a fancy shirt. As for riding in the city, I lived in Manhattan most of my adult life and just came back from a week long visit there, bike lanes or not it looks much too dangerous.

Where I live in North Carolina, we’ve had a series of cyclist deaths clearly caused entirely by inattentive drivers. That prompted me to start a blog about bike safety, and to design an especially bright bike jersey to increase rider visibility (www.seemewear.com). My blog is: www.seemebikesafety.com Please check it out and leave your comments. Earle Bower

by Earle Bower on Feb 4, 2011 4:52 pm • linkreport

"One way to establish this is through a relationship between the citizens (read: all citizens) and local government to bring together and improve community."

Great point, and this includes conversations between community members (riders and drivers), gov officials, and administrators (police, public works, etc). Laws are often slow to change, but perhaps minimal agreed-upon changes could be valuable in the mean time and at least get policy ideas on the table.

by Jessi on Feb 4, 2011 7:32 pm • linkreport

If Richmond is so great, why move here?

Seriously, it looks like self promotion and a list of events you want to push here...

I don't buy the religious or flame wars of car vs bike,
while I do like some of the comments. Interesting and informative observations.

And if you don't like CritMass, you don't really know CritMass. It's community. People who like biking, and bikers.

FWIW: Drinking and biking, or just plain drinking probably kills more bikers and drivers, and holding drinking events, or any event to promote drinking (Yes, I'm talking about the Bike Film Festival sponsored by a Vodka company) is antithesis of stuff that makes sense to me.

You don't have to have a bike to be an asshole...

by Jerry on Feb 5, 2011 1:10 am • linkreport

Sounds like some people are getting really defensive... I think the article just puts fault at both cars and bikers and tries to find easy ground to make progress on... To deny there's tension between the two seems ridiculous.

It sounds like:

Richmond = Great Culture, No Infrastructure
DC = Great Infrastructure, No Culture

I didn't know some of the things in this article existed. What's a pizza ride? Even if it is a list of events to do here, I'm welcoming toward them...

by Alex McLaughlin on Feb 5, 2011 6:30 am • linkreport

Something also needs to be said about the social contract between cyclists in D.C. and those of us on foot.

Today, in the Foggy Bottom area, I noticed:

1. A cyclist going the wrong way on a one-way street as walkers were crossing at the crosswalk -- hazardous!

2. A different cyclist rushing through a red light as walkers were also cross at the crosswalk -- also hazardous (oh, and he did not have a helmet).

I'm not saying that's all cyclists in D.C. that behave as this, but greater awareness needs to be made that it's not just cars vs. cyclists that need a social contract, it's cyclists vs. those of us on foot.

by Walker on Feb 9, 2011 7:36 pm • linkreport

We do have a social contract. It's just that there is a certain small percentage of cyclists (more accurately, people on bikes) who are self-absorbed assholes. Saying we need a contract between cyclists and pedestrians is like saying we need laws that require cars to yield right-of-way to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Oh, and why did it matter if the jerk rushing through a crowd of people in a crosswalk did or didn't have a helmet? Just seems like an odd detail to include.

by oboe on Feb 10, 2011 8:48 am • linkreport

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