Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


Should DC limit sidewalk cycling in commercial areas?

At this morning's oversight hearing for the bicycle and pedestrian advisory councils, Councilmember Jack Evans chastised cyclists who speed on jogging trails, and Tommy Wells expressed interest in exploring restrictions on sidewalk cycling in commercial areas of DC.


Photo by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr.

At the start of the meeting, Evans said that he jogs regularly, and cyclists have almost hit him 3 or 4 times. He also said he's seen cyclists run stop signs once a week, and travel too fast regularly.

Let's put aside the obvious point that Evans probably also sees drivers run stop signs more like once a day, and travel at excessive speed almost constantly, if he doesn't do so himself. Evans is mostly talking about walking and biking paths, like the Capital Crescent Trail near his house, and some people do travel very fast on bikes in ways that intimidates walkers and runners.

Wells said, "If I get a call from Jack around dusk, I know what it's going to be. It is an issue that we have to keep bicycles separated from pedestrians, especially around sidewalks. We do want people walking and jogging. ... In his own way, Jack is a representative for the jogging advisory council, and we do have work to do."

That work might include looking at whether to restrict cycling on sidewalks in some cases. Currently, DC law allows biking on sidewalks except in a central area. Sean Wieland of the Pedestrian Advisory Council testified that in areas like Georgia Avenue in Ward 4, sidewalks are often somewhat narrow and crowded with pedestrians, and cycling there can create problematic conflicts.

TheWashCycle blogger David C. pointed out that the Mayor already has the power to restrict sidewalk cycling in specific areas as desired. He doesn't think DC should ban it outright, as there are times it's the best move, such as climbing up hills when cars drive fast and there are few pedestrians.

People also start and end their rides on sidewalks, or use them for short distances when one-way streets would otherwise force a long detour. If I ride to U Street, my trip home involves a short segment on a one-way street to get to my alley. I ride on the sidewalk for that short stretch, which is by far the most efficient route.

If I ride on the sidewalk, I always make sure to defer to pedestrians. People on bikes must recognize that people on foot have the right of way, and that while the law might allow using sidewalks, anyone riding a bike on one has to be respectful and stay out of the way of people walking. If that means riding no faster than a slow walk, so be it.

Not everyone does this, however. For this reason, Wells expressed interest in considering restrictions on sidewalk cycling in commercial districts. This could make sense when the commercial district has two-way roads, so people can always bike in the street, and the road is not overcrowded. There seems to be little reason to ride on the sidewalk on Barracks Row, for instance, except between one corner and a bicycle rack on that block.

But what about 17th Street in Dupont? BeyondDC often bikes northbound on this street, which is one way north of Massachusetts Avenue. Going to 18th could represent a fairly long detour. 16th is harrowing. 15th is fairly far away.

A lot of people bike the wrong way in the 17th Street bike lane. Generally, they are able to do that without problems, since 17th is a low-traffic road and cars move slowly. That's illegal, however. Riding on the sidewalk is legal, but those sidewalks are very narrow.

It's too bad DDOT and the neighborhood didn't devise a legal and safe way to ride northbound when recently reconstructing the road. There's now a popular Capital Bikeshare station at 17th and Corcoran. If someone wants to ride there from, say, the station at 17th and L, there's no legal, direct way to do so. As we are seeing in practice, many people are not willing to detour to 16th or 18th for this type of trip.

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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YES!!! I don't mind if you ride on a wide, empty sidewalk, but I've seen these self absorbed twits on the sidewalks on M St,. in G'town and the little strip by the Tune Inn.

by besto on Feb 28, 2011 1:59 pm • linkreport

Most bikers handle themselves well on sidewalks. There are some places where it is just too dangerous to ride with car traffic. Sidewalk biking makes sense in these situations. There are, of course, a few bad apples who like to tear up and down pedestrian areas, especially during rush hour, but that hardly warrants doing something reactionary. Take care of red light running cars first, which is a far more serious threat to pedestrians.

by aaa on Feb 28, 2011 2:09 pm • linkreport

Just a general comment: after going bikeshare, and using their, well, somewhat Rubeneseque bikes, what I've really become aware of is how fast I used to ride and how fast other bikes are traveling now.

I'd agree that banning sidewalk cycling through the city would be pointless, but enforcement of the existing zone -- as well as signage -- would be very very helpful.

aaa is correct that you are more likely to be killed by a red light running car. However, you are several orders of magnitude more likely to have to jump out of the way of of a bike on a sidewalk, especially in some of the more crowded areas. Is is dangerous? maybe. Is is incredibly annoying -- yes.

by charlie on Feb 28, 2011 2:15 pm • linkreport

this is a long time coming- finally someone has actually gone to Europe and seen how this really works - and is SAFER than forcing cyclists into roads with cars.
Plus- DC has wide enough sidewalks to make for cycle tracks up on the sidewalks. No need to force cyclists to risk their lives trying to "share the road" with soccer moms and their cell phones in SUVs.

The sidewalk cycling restrictions were put into place w/o considering any cycling tracks to accomodate the "displacement" of cyclists and to make it risk aversive for people other than racers and messengers who are all about speed. No one in their right mind wants to pretend to be a car or a truck and to force people to do this just because of a few aggressive and speed hungry male athletic cyclists want their way is just plain not the way to attract a broad range of the demographic into cycling as real transport and not just for sports.

YES YES YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by w on Feb 28, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

I see cyclists break the law on a regular basis. Like the one Saturday who pulled through the red light in front of DOL to turn left onto 4th. Followed by two car drivers.

You're all morons. Take away the roads and the trails and let Metro and streetcars rule the day.

by Redline SOS on Feb 28, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

Bikes don't belong on the sidewalk in cities, period. I nearly right hooked a guy the other day who was burning down the sidewalk. We aren't conditioned to look for fast moving traffic on sidewalks. I could have been seriously hurt by him.

If you need to climb a hill and can't do it in the street, get off your bike and walk it up the sidewalk. Same deal if you can't be bothered to move one block down the road because of a one way.

by jcm on Feb 28, 2011 2:22 pm • linkreport

@W; I hate to agree but you make one good point -- wide sidewalks. I really think, for example, it would be better to put a bike lane on the sidewalk of Penn. Ave rather than where they are now. Plus, you might get some shade....

by charlie on Feb 28, 2011 2:25 pm • linkreport

There are, of course, a few bad apples who like to tear up and down pedestrian areas, especially during rush hour, but that hardly warrants doing something reactionary. Take care of red light running cars first, which is a far more serious threat to pedestrians.

Right, but the difference is that scofflaws on bikes are completely representative of everyone who's ever ridden a bike. Scofflaw drivers, on the other hand, are outliers whose behavior must never be linked to the driver population as a whole.

by oboe on Feb 28, 2011 2:26 pm • linkreport

I think restricting bicycles on sidewalks in commercial zones makes sense. I think a good practical compromise, which seems to work in practice, is selective enforcement. You don't have to ticket everyone even if they are riding short distances at low speeds on the sidewalk for some particular reason. But it's a good rule to have on the books to use against the inconsiderate few who think the sidewalks should be bicycle freeways.

by David desJardins on Feb 28, 2011 2:27 pm • linkreport

Why is it that bicyclists seem to always display the same method of thinking as motorists when these issues arrive?

Cyclists in DC often complain about the streets, the sidewalks, the traffic signals, the signs and anything else that interrupts them from having a non-stop trip from their front door to the door of their destination. Motorists are often chastised for displaying the same behaviors.

If this is the case, then there are many similarities for how cyclist behavior should change to make more livable cities. Does the entire sidewalk have to become a parking loading/unloading zone for cyclists? Can we not make stronger enforcements against cars to remove the fear from those cycling in the streets?

Walkers tend to employ a number of options (bus, rail, taxi cab, walking) that don't mandate a strict point-to-point route. Their flexibility seems to annoy fewer.

Let's keep the bikes of the busy streets and remind cyclists to dismount when a legal sidewalk is crowded. Walking with your bike for 50 feet to a stand is the polite thing to do an inconveniences less people.

by Wills on Feb 28, 2011 2:36 pm • linkreport

Most conflicts I've seen between bicycles and pedestrians involve pedestrians who aren't keeping to the right or are walking 2-3 abreast. I think trails should be divided into four classes: bikeways, two categories of mixed-use, and pedestrian-only. Bikeways would be reserved for faster wheeled traffic such as bicyles and inline skaters, and pedestrains would not be allowed. Higher speed mixed-use trails like the Capital Crescent Trail would allow bicycles and pedestrians, but pedestrians should be required to remain single-file on either off the pavement or on the far right side of the pavement, and bicyclists should be required to carry bells and ring them when approaching or passing a pedestrian (there is currently no such requirement at least in Maryland). Low-speed mixed-use trails should be geared primarily toward pedestrians, should be "unstriped" (no line painted down the center), would prohibit bicyclists from using "clip-in" pedals, and would have a speed limit of 5-10 mph. Finally, pedestrian-only trails would prohibit bikes but possibly allow skaters, skateboarders, scooters, etc., with a 5 mph limit.

by Alan on Feb 28, 2011 2:39 pm • linkreport

How about simply making it illegal to ride at faster than a jogging pace? That is what I do, and find that everybody is satisfied - I get where I'm going and don't surprise anybody. And nobody is talking about banning joggers right?

by egk on Feb 28, 2011 2:40 pm • linkreport

Bikes don't belong on the sidewalk in cities, period.

What do you consider a "city"? Penn Quarter and Pleasant Plains are two vastly different places.

by andrew on Feb 28, 2011 2:46 pm • linkreport

@wills; +1.

If it wasn't for the pesky cyclists, we'd still have nice, easy to walk on dirt and cobblestone roads.

by charlie on Feb 28, 2011 2:50 pm • linkreport

If this is the case, then there are many similarities for how cyclist behavior should change to make more livable cities. Does the entire sidewalk have to become a parking loading/unloading zone for cyclists? Can we not make stronger enforcements against cars to remove the fear from those cycling in the streets?

Ummm. How does "making stronger enforcements against cars to remove the fear from those cycling in the streets" constitute a change in cyclist behavior? I say this as someone who believes that cyclists should never *have* to ride on the sidewalks--and if they do, they should never ride faster than a walking pace.

But the reason cyclists ride on the sidewalks is that they're offered little or no legal protection from bad and illegal driving. More of w's dedicated infrastructure, crack down on speeding, and change the legal negligence standard, and you'll get cyclists off the sidewalks.

When you regularly see "normal" cyclists riding up North Capitol Street in the right-hand lane--and drivers behaving themselves--we'll have restored a bit of sanity to our urban streetscapes.

by oboe on Feb 28, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

David Alpert, you're killing me. Here I was all excited about getting home and blogging about all of this and you beat me to it. A curse on you and your damned thoroughness.

At the meeting I pointed out that it would be better to use carrots than sticks. Let's entice cyclists off the sidewalks with good facilities. Sidewalk cycling is often a symptom of bad road design, so let's fix that problem.

What I didn't say at the meeting is that I would support a ban on sidewalk cycling on roads that have cycletracks. And possibly on ones that have bike lanes - but I have to think about that some. That might be a reasonable compromise and I'm working on being the last practitioner in DC of the dark art of compromise.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 2:57 pm • linkreport

I've lived -- and cycled -- in a number of cities on both coasts, and was genuinely surprised to learn when I moved here some years ago that DC permits riding on the sidewalks. I have never known another large city that did so.

I think the problem is that permitting riding on the sidewalks has the effect, in a small but significant proportion of cyclists, of creating a sense that they are entitled to ride on the sidewalks as they do on the streets, that is, at full speed and virtually without regard to pedestrians. Yes, cyclists are supposed to give way on sidewalks to pedestrians, but as long as biking is permitted on sidewalks this will fail to work sometimes. I've seen this over and over again in DC, where, in contrast to the other cities I've lived, cyclists (again -- some of them) seem emboldened to ride aggressively on the sidewalks in a way I've never witnessed in cities where bikes are vehicles that are supposed to keep to the streets.

Bright line rules are, I think, what's called for here. So long as cyclists are legally permitted to be on the sidewalks, some will abuse the privilege. By contrast, in cities where this practice is not permitted, cyclists do use the sidewalk for short distances, e.g., on one way streets and to get to alleys, but I have never seen the police aggressively enforce the law in these instances.

by Gee on Feb 28, 2011 3:01 pm • linkreport

If it is too dangerous to ride your bike in traffic doesn't excuse you for making it dangerous for walkers.

by TGEoA on Feb 28, 2011 3:05 pm • linkreport

@ andrew That's a good question, and I don't have a good answer, other than the old Potter Stewart. But Pleasant Plains is definitely the city, and shouldn't have sidewalk bicycling. In fact, it's my neighborhood, so I consider my decision here both expert and final :)

If I were forced to specify a rule, it would have something to do with the amount of ped traffic, the visibility of cross-sidewalk traffic (alleys, driveways, etc), and the average speed of motor traffic.

by jcm on Feb 28, 2011 3:10 pm • linkreport

I think the problem is that....

I think the first thing we need to determine is this: Is this actually a problem? There have been two pedestrians killed by cyclists in DC since 1994. One was in the street and the other was in an alleyway. So this would have done nothing to address those crashes. There are about 10 reported bike-pedestrian crashes in DC each year. Obviously there is some under-reporting, but still this doesn't seem to be a huge problem.

What Tommy Wells mentioned during the hearing, (and Jack Evans on the subject of 15th street) were that he hears a lot of complaints. In my opinion, he is doing what my college Chemistry professor called the First Sin of Science; namely he's measuring the wrong thing. Measuring complaints by constituents might be the way politicians work (and get re-elected) but it is not an accurate way to determine if we have a problem. It means we have a situation that is unpopular. Taxes are unpopular, but they aren't always "too high".

The right things to measure are crashes, injuries, fatalities, pedestrian traffic volume, etc... and see if we are in fact having a problem with this items on DC's sidewalks caused by what is currently legal sidewalk cycling. Maybe what we need is a sidewalk cycling speed limit, or a vulnerable user law that dictates that when a cyclist and pedestrian crash, the cyclist has a presumption of guilt (and then we should extend that to drivers when they hit cyclists and pedestrians).

Banning sidewalk cycling on certain roads will require pavement markings on those sidewalks and banning it city or neighborhood-wide is an inelegant solution that ignores the root problem - if, of course, we determine that there even is a problem.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 3:13 pm • linkreport

If it is too dangerous to ride your bike in traffic doesn't excuse you for making it dangerous for walkers.

No, it doesn't. And no one has said otherwise. I believe that cyclists and pedestrians can safely share space, and I think the 10 million miles of multi-use path in this country backs that up. While I recognize that a trail and sidewalk have subtle differences that make sidewalk cycling less safe, the solution is just to bike more slowly. We can share sidewalks safely. I'm sure of it.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 3:18 pm • linkreport

I'm glad David C is learning compromise.

But his idea that it is impossible to legislate because of faulty data is pretty silly. Let's throw out all the laws! Guess what: Politicians are stupid people who prefer non-optimal solutions!

Cycling advocates are underestimating the backlash from pedestrians. Measuring fatalities and even injuries is pretty spurious. I don't think that many people are dying from being hit by a bike, and if they do, they are probably old. However, it is turning into a major problem and a those complaints are reflective on it.

In the spirt of compromise, he does have a good point that pavement markings and enforcement is a huge problem. Turning cyclists into what drivers are now -- cash cows -- isn't a great public policy answer either. Plastering signs that will be ignored isn't much good either.

So where to draw the line? How much of sidewalk riding is bad -- and how much of bad sidewalk riding is a result of bad street conditions?

by charlie on Feb 28, 2011 3:26 pm • linkreport

charlie, I never said it was impossible to legislate because of faulty data. I said let's ignore unimportant data and focus on good data. I'm taking the radical position that before we try to solve a problem, we should determine if there is one.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 3:33 pm • linkreport

the problem here is that everyone assumes that all of the new people attracted to newer safer cycling infrastructure are automatically going to want to cycle at top speed. This is the PROBLEM we have to get over in the USA- and I for one think that ALL cyclists should have bells- and that ALL vehicualr cyclists should be made to ride a cargo bicycle with a heavy load, in a sit-up posture, in regular clothes - in the roads with cars and trucks and LEARN how the majority of the world's people really use bicycles- as transport and for practicality and not just for recreation and sports.

by w on Feb 28, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

Riding on sidewalks is to be avoided almost all the time! Sidewalk riding is for children, not adults. It's annoying to pedestrians and also dangerous to bikers: cars aren't looking for quick-moving vehicles on sidewalks, and they're liable to turn into you if you shoot off into the intersection from the sidewalk.

The only time I ride on sidewalks is, say, the last quarter of a block to the bike rack (and I feel guilty doing even this much) or if it absolutely can't be avoided (e.g., getting around a massive double-parked truck - but even then, I'm not convinced it's the safest solution.)

And I'm sorry, BeyondDC is just lazy and is sadly fitting into the caricature of the selfish biker. Rides up the sidewalk on 17th because he/she can't be bothered to use the perfectly nice cycletrack on 15th? There's really no excuse for that.

by M on Feb 28, 2011 3:44 pm • linkreport

There's really no excuse for that.

There is actually. Time=money.

You admit that sidewalk cycling can be safe - if done well (or that you don't care and sometimes do something that is unsafe). If BeyondDC can do it safely, why is that inexcusable.

Let me put it this way. If he rides on the sidewalk on 17th at 5mph and it takes him 10 minutes, but going to 15th and back at 12mph takes him 11 minutes, which choice makes sense? It's not laziness to be efficient. Or are both choices lazy, because the hard-working cyclist would bike to Bismark, MT first?

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 3:50 pm • linkreport

@David C: I think the first thing we need to determine is this: Is this actually a problem? There have been two pedestrians killed by cyclists in DC since 1994.

Come on! The commons is the commons. It's for the common use. If a large number of members of the public are seriously annoyed by having bikes weave around them at high speed, then it's a problem, even if no one is killed.

Your argument is like arguing that we shouldn't have laws against littering because few people are killed by stray trash.

by David desJardins on Feb 28, 2011 3:52 pm • linkreport

David desJardins, where are we going?

if a large number of members of the public are seriously annoyed by having bikes weave around them at high speed, then it's a problem, even if no one is killed.

OK. Well, first of all, we don't even know that that is true. What we know is that some people have complained to their CM. But do we have polling data that shows that "a large number of members of the public are seriously annoyed"? No.

And even if we did. What then is the solution? There are thousands of things we find annoying, but we don't ban them ("Head On" commercials, for example). So if the problem is just that people are annoyed, then maybe some outreach would help to assuage their annoyance.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 4:00 pm • linkreport

@DaviddesJardins

There are complaints that are based on fact, and then there are complaints (like those surrounding the gym that didn't have running facilities, citing the threat of scantily clad joggers unleashed upon the neighborhood, or the ones surrounding rowhouses in Falls Church earlier today, or Georgetown University) that are based on phobias and dislike of a particular class of people.

David C is right in arguing that valid data should first be consulted before taking away rights.

by mattxmal on Feb 28, 2011 4:03 pm • linkreport

You admit that sidewalk cycling can be safe

No, actually I think it is less safe than riding on the streets in the vast majority of cases. I also think it's an inconvenience to pedestrians and can make them feel threatened or pushed out of the way. (Even the slowest bike takes up a lot more room than a walker.)

Let me put it this way. If he rides on the sidewalk on 17th at 5mph and it takes him 10 minutes, but going to 15th and back at 12mph takes him 11 minutes, which choice makes sense?

Umm, ok, if I'm going to put my law & economics hat on, I'd say that the costs of pedestrian inconvenience and in potential lost safety to the biker far outweigh the biker's efficiency gain of 1 minute.

by M on Feb 28, 2011 4:03 pm • linkreport

Your argument is like arguing that we shouldn't have laws against littering because few people are killed by stray trash.

Or that we shouldn't have laws against facial piercings because it only offends the aesthetic sensibilities of passers-by.

by oboe on Feb 28, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

You admit that sidewalk cycling can be safe

No, actually I think it is less safe than riding on the streets in the vast majority of cases.

Then, by default, you think it is as safe or more safe in a minority of cases. Which means you think that sidewalk cycling can be safe - if only in certain situations.

I'd say that the costs of pedestrian inconvenience and in potential lost safety to the biker far outweigh the biker's efficiency gain of 1 minute.

Do you believe that there is any speed at which a cyclist can ride their bike on the sidewalk that is no more dangerous to themselves or others than riding on the street at 12-15mph? What do you do when cycling conditions are dangerous? I usually slow down.

And what about walking a bike on the sidewalk, does that inconvenience pedestrians by making them feel threatened or pushed out of the way? After all, even the slowest bike takes up a lot more room than a walker. Perhaps we should make it illegal to walk a bike on the sidewalk.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 4:13 pm • linkreport

@David C Speaking of measuring the wrong thing, why are you only looking at reported ped-bike crashes? Sidewalk cycling has been found by many studies to be much more dangerous, for peds, for other bikes, and for the sidewalk cyclist himself.

Here's one:
http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/riskfactors.htm

Here's another:
http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/Moritz1.htm

by jcm on Feb 28, 2011 4:26 pm • linkreport

David C, I'm not quite sure what your dog in this game is. Sidewalk riding is just not a sustainable model for bike transport on a macro or micro level. It makes pedestrians feel invaded, it's unsafe for bikers, and slows bikers down considerably. Sidewalks could never sensibly accommodate a large volume of bikers. What we need is planned bike infrastructure that allows bikes to move quickly and safely in big numbers. Sidewalk riding does not fit the bill. Sidewalks biking is for children, not adults.

(And walking a bike on a sidewalk is very different from biking slowly on a sidewalk - when you're mounted on a bike and going slowly, you're pretty unstable and have to be given a wide berth.)

by M on Feb 28, 2011 4:37 pm • linkreport

Some quick searching establishes that sidewalk riding is illegal in, among other places:

Baltimore
San Francisco
Philadelphia (in business districts, or for under 12, anywhere)
New York City

Perhaps if one is looking for data one could compare these places with DC. At all events, if banning sidewalk riding is somehow silly, these are all very silly places. I'm not saying the fact that all these cities do it proves that a sidewalk ban is the best policy. But suggesting it's somehow absurd or on a par with banning walking bikes on the sidewalk doesn't hold water. Lots of cities ban riding on sidewalks. In fact, DC appears to be something of an outlier by permitting it.

by Gee on Feb 28, 2011 4:47 pm • linkreport

M:

Word.

by Gee on Feb 28, 2011 4:50 pm • linkreport

@jcm, why are you only looking at reported ped-bike crashes?

Because that is the data we have.

Sidewalk cycling has been found by many studies to be much more dangerous, for peds, for other bikes, and for the sidewalk cyclist himself.

I'm aware. In fact, in the post of mine David linked to I said that sidewalk cycling should mostly be avoided. But that is not the same as being banned, because, at times, it is the right decision. It is even taught in LAB cycling classes.

Neither of the studies you cite, by the way, make the case that it is more dangerous for pedestrians or other cyclists.

Furthermore, both studies have the same flaw in that they do not account for selection bias. For example, we see that children choose the sidewalk almost as often as the road, but adults are 5 times more likely to ride in the road. And adults are less likely to be in crashes.

So, what is likely is that confident, experienced cyclists ride in the road whereas inexperienced cyclists ride on the sidewalk. Thus it is impossible to divine if they're in more crashes because they're on the sidewalk or because they're inexperienced. Since riding on the sidewalk with traffic was determined to be no more dangerous than riding on the road with traffic, I'm inclined to believe it is - in part at least - a question of experience over facility.

Since inexperienced cyclists ride on the sidewalk, a ban would push them into the road. I hardly see pushing inexperienced, unconfident cyclists into the road as a solution.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 4:52 pm • linkreport

BTW, the risk of riding on the sidewalk is 1.4. Same as the risk to women over 18. Perhaps we should ban women over 18 from cycling.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 4:57 pm • linkreport

As a regular jogger through the streets if DC, I like the idea of a jogger advisory board. But I can speak from years of experience that I feel much, much more threatened by cars than bikes. It's not even close. Frankly, I wish Evans were spending his energy fixing the dangerous situation around Washington Circle rather than fighting the non-problem of bikers on sidewalks.

by TM on Feb 28, 2011 5:06 pm • linkreport

@M,

My dog in this fight is that sidewalk cycling is a reasonable tool for cyclists in certain situations. DDOT even signs some sidewalks as bike routes. A lot of other skilled cyclists see it that way. Allen Muchnick has probably taught Confident City Cycling classes to thousands of people and he agrees saying "Cyclists should not be dogmatic about never riding on sidewalks." I agree with Allen - and so do you based on your actions. Let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

It makes pedestrians feel invaded,

That's assuming there are pedestrians. I ride up two hills to and from work and I do it on the sidewalk. I rarely see a pedestrian and when I do there is plenty of room for both of us.

it's unsafe for bikers, and slows bikers down considerably.

It's not unsafe if going with traffic or done cautiously. It doesn't slow bikers down when it lets them use the sidewalk as a contraflow lane.

Sidewalks biking is for children, not adults.

Well then, Allen Muchnick and I are children. And, apparantly so are you, since you admitted to doing it and admitted that at times it was at least as safe as riding in the road.

walking a bike on a sidewalk is very different from biking slowly on a sidewalk - when you're mounted on a bike and going slowly, you're pretty unstable and have to be given a wide berth.

You're moving the goal posts.

@Gee,

One of your four examples does not have a city-wide ban, so I'm not sure why you listed it. I don't think the other three are as bike-friendly as DC. Not yet at least. So yes, we can emulate the policies of cities deemed less bike friendly than DC or we can keep doing what we're doing.

I never claimed that it was "silly," just bad policy. My comment about banning walking bikes on the sidwewalk was in direct response to M's claim that sidewalk cycling was bad because "Even the slowest bike takes up a lot more room than a walker." I was making the point that it isn't really about space.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 5:16 pm • linkreport

David, none of your examples correlate to, say, riding on the narrow, crowded sidewalk on 17th between Q and R or on Columbia Road at 18th St.

I ride up two hills to and from work and I do it on the sidewalk.

Why? I see people doing this on 16th St. and I think it's a false sense of safety based on the probably incorrect and dangerous perception that biking faster is safer because it doesn't make cars pass you. They zoom down south bound full speed in the lane of traffic, where a loss of control would be fatal, then slowly uphill on the sidewalk even though cars could easily pass them if they were on the road.

My agenda here is not to get sidewalk riding banned, although I wouldn't cry if it happened. I want people to ride safely and comfortably, and for bikes to be welcomed by everyone. This is not going to happen if people think they need to ride on the sidewalk to get around. Nine times out of ten, you can find a better route for everyone if you go a block or two out of your way. I think biking on the sidewalk (at the rate I see it in DC) is a symptom of either A) Not really knowing how to bike; or B) bikers just being lazy.

by M on Feb 28, 2011 5:48 pm • linkreport

@DavidC:

"I'm taking the radical position that before we try to solve a problem, we should determine if there is one."

Gosh, if that doesn't sound like a tobacco lobbyist circa 1968....

However, you do bring up a good point. Sidewalk cycling is perceived as an entry way to cycling. Remove that option, or penalize it via heavy handed enforcement, and do you shut down the numbers of cyclists...

Another point in favor is what neighboring jurisdictions do.

However, on the balance I think M is winning this argument. Perhaps a more basic step that could be taken is a big red line on the Bikeshare maps saying (no sidewalk riding inside this line).

And at some point you have to change behavior. No easy way -- shaming cyclists who act like idiots. Would love to see a series of pictures on that...

by charlie on Feb 28, 2011 6:38 pm • linkreport

BTW, the risk of riding on the sidewalk is 1.4. Same as the risk to women over 18. Perhaps we should ban women over 18 from cycling.
You've either misread or misunderstood the results.

Furthermore, both studies have the same flaw in that they do not account for selection bias. For example, we see that children choose the sidewalk almost as often as the road, but adults are 5 times more likely to ride in the road. And adults are less likely to be in crashes.

So, what is likely is that confident, experienced cyclists ride in the road whereas inexperienced cyclists ride on the sidewalk. Thus it is impossible to divine if they're in more crashes because they're on the sidewalk or because they're inexperienced.
I thought you were interested in data. Now you're just guessing?

Since riding on the sidewalk with traffic was determined to be no more dangerous than riding on the road with traffic, I'm inclined to believe it is - in part at least - a question of experience over facility.
Read the appendix.

Since inexperienced cyclists ride on the sidewalk, a ban would push them into the road. I hardly see pushing inexperienced, unconfident cyclists into the road as a solution.
Well, maybe. Do you have any data to back that assertion up? Remember, your first question was "I think the first thing we need to determine is this: Is this actually a problem?" I've presented you with studies finding that is, in fact, a problem. You appear to not like that fact that it's a problem, because it's inconvenient to you, but that doesn't mean the data doesn't exist.

So I guess the follow would be, can you cite any actual data demonstrating that urban sidewalk bicycling is safe?

by jcm on Feb 28, 2011 6:51 pm • linkreport

probably OT: yesterday I was driving down 15th street and there were a LOT of cars PARKED in those 2 stupid bike lanes, which forced a coupe of cyclists who were going North to just pop out into the street (ie, into oncoming traffic, me). Anyone what the deal is with cars parking there? Is there just 0 parking enforcement on Sundays? I wanted to call 311 and get all those jerks towed.

by Greg on Feb 28, 2011 8:49 pm • linkreport

M,

none of your examples correlate to, say, riding on the narrow, crowded sidewalk on 17th between Q and R or on Columbia Road at 18th St.

What? Did I even give examples? What are you talking about? For the record, I think cyclists should avoid crowded, narrow sidewalks.

Why?

I ride up the two hills I do because traffic goes very fast on those roads, the lanes are narrow, the sidewalks are wide, there are no intersections and few pedestrians. Here's one for example. This sidewalk is actually signed as part of the American Discovery Trail. Going 5mph uphill while drivers fly by at 45 mph (which is the norm) seems like a good way to anger drivers, get yelled at and/or possibly get hit from behind. Going slowly on a fast road reduces the closing distance, and I'd rather not trust drivers if I don't have to. Besides keeping myself from being hit from behind, I also keep from inconveniencing drivers, so there is a politeness element to it.

Nine times out of ten, you can find a better route for everyone if you go a block or two out of your way

And I'm concerned abou the one time out of ten when you can't.

I think biking on the sidewalk (at the rate I see it in DC) is a symptom of either A) Not really knowing how to bike; or B) bikers just being lazy.

Well then, you're wrong. Because neither explains my decision. But thanks for insulting me.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 9:34 pm • linkreport

@charlie

Gosh, if that doesn't sound like a tobacco lobbyist circa 1968...

Does it? Or does it sound like Hitler? The difference is that tobacco lobbyist knew otherwise. Are you accusing me of lying, or is this just and ad hominem attack?

Perhaps a more basic step that could be taken is a big red line on the Bikeshare maps saying (no sidewalk riding inside this line).

They did that already. It's called the CBD.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 9:37 pm • linkreport

Yes! I'm nearly all the way there - banning sidewalk cycling. But as with everything, we need a public information campaign if it is to happen.

by Jazzy on Feb 28, 2011 10:03 pm • linkreport

@jcm,

BTW, the risk of riding on the sidewalk is 1.4. Same as the risk to women over 18. Perhaps we should ban women over 18 from cycling.

You've either misread or misunderstood the results.

Table 2.18 row 2 column 4

And

Table 5 row 1, column 4

"Risk is proportional to the accident rate per bicyclist: the lower the risk, the lower the likelihood of an accident. By definition, the average risk of all bicyclists in the study is exactly 1, in arbitrary units."

I think it is you who have misunderstood.

Now you're just guessing?

No, I'm not. It is clearly stated in the Wachtel and Lewiston study that children are more likely to ride on the sidewalk than adults. So It is a fact that sidewalk cyclists are less experienced than road cyclists.

Since riding on the sidewalk with traffic was determined to be no more dangerous than riding on the road with traffic, I'm inclined to believe it is - in part at least - a question of experience over facility.

Read the appendix.

I have. The appendix explains that sidewalk cycling is not SAFER THAN road cycling even though it appears that way. But the study concludes that cycling with traffic is just as safe on the sidewalk as in the road.

" The risk on the sidewalk is higher than on the roadway for both age groups, for both sexes, and for wrong-way travel; the risk for right-way travel on the sidewalk appears to be less than that on the roadway, but this result is misleading, as explained in the Appendix.

Emphasis mine. Note that they clearly state that wrong-way travel on the sidewalk is less safe than in the road, but NEVER say that is true for right-way travel. They only refute the idea that right way travel is safer.

So, maybe you should reread the report. Here is an identical take by another reader.

"On closer examination, though, Wachtel’s and Lewiston’s most dramatic finding was not the difference between road and sidewalk, it was the difference between riding with traffic and against it. In fact, they found very little difference in risk between road and sidewalk for cyclists riding with traffic. But when riding against the flow, road riders had twice the risk and sidewalk riders had four times the risk of those riding the same direction as the motor traffic on their side of the street. Figure 5 illustrates two kinds of motorist maneuvers that are particularly dangerous to wrong-way cyclists, primarily because motorists focus their attention on traffic coming from the other direction.

The overall higher risk for sidewalk riders, then, was due to the high percentage of wrong-way riding on the sidewalk and to the high risk for those wrong-way riders. It would seem that as long as sidewalk cyclists ride with the traffic, they run no greater risk of an intersection collision than do road cyclists. If that is true, then right-way sidewalk cyclists, who are removed from the threat of mid-block overtaking collisions, appear to be better off than road riders."

In addition the Wachtel and Lewiston study only shows that on average, under the limited conditions that they studied in a suburban environment where one of the two roads had bike lanes, that sidewalk cycling is less safe. It does not show that sidewalk cycling is ALWAYS less safe. I am arguing that sometimes sidewalk cycling is at least as safe and possibly more convenient or courteous.

Do you have any data to back that assertion up?

Wachtel and Lewinston show that children are 5 times more likely to ride on the sidewalk. So yes, I can back up the assertion that inexperienced cyclists ride on the sidewalk. That a sidewalk ban will push them into the street is a matte of self-evident fact, since that's the point of the ban. Either they will go in the street or they will not ride. I think it's clear that some will continue to ride.

I've presented you with studies finding that is, in fact, a problem.

No. You've presented me with a study showing that on average sidewalk cycling is less safe for the cyclist. That is not the assertion. The assertion is that, in DC, sidewalk cycling is causing numerous crashes between pedestrians and cyclists.

You appear to not like that fact that it's a problem, because it's inconvenient to you, but that doesn't mean the data doesn't exist.

I like all facts, but you haven't actually shown that it is a problem. Keep trying.

So I guess the follow would be, can you cite any actual data demonstrating that urban sidewalk bicycling is safe?

No. That is not my position. My position is that sidewalk cycling can be as safe as road riding under the right conditions and the very study you quoted backs me up. So again, reread the study and let me know if you have trouble with any of the big words.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 10:12 pm • linkreport

The real issue is people being jerks. If you ride your bike on the sidewalk, in a crowded area, you are being a jerk. If you go fast when there are people, you are being a jerk.

But, to DavidC's point about what is the problem:
pedestrians are annoyed by jerks. Jerks should stop being so, well, jerky. But, how many people have been hurt or killed?

Not to minimize the problem, but the number of people hurt or killed by cyclists on sidewalks is FAR outnumbered by those hurt or killed by drivers. Shouldnt the council focus on death and serious injury over minor injury and annoyance? Besides, if you do so, you might encourage those pesky cyclists to get off the sidewalk.

by SJE on Feb 28, 2011 11:36 pm • linkreport

If you want cyclists off the sidewalks, put bike parking on the streets in problem areas. Make the streets safer for cyclists - install more traffic cameras to reduce dangerous driving behavior!

by Erik K on Feb 28, 2011 11:36 pm • linkreport

@ David C If you can't have a discussion without being a dick then there's really no sense speaking with you anymore. I do suggest you read the entire Appendix, though, before using this study to try to support your argument in the future. It doesn't say what you think it says.

by jcm on Mar 1, 2011 7:56 am • linkreport

San Francisco, Chicago, and New York (among many other cities) all ban sidewalk cycling outright. All three are listed in Bicycling Magazine's top 10 Best Bike Cities in the country. (DC comes in 13th.)

http://www.bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/bicyclings-top-50

The assertion that NYC and San Francisco are not bike-friendly, in any case, is patently ludicrous.

Most cities ban sidewalk biking. As I noted above, I think a bright-line rule of this kind is the way to go, and most urban centers in America -- including many regarded as more bike-friendly than DC -- seem to have come to the same conclusion.

PS Philadelphia effectively bans sidewalk cycling in the urban center, which is why I listed it -- a far more sweeping ban than the very limited one in DC.

by Gee on Mar 1, 2011 9:29 am • linkreport

@Gee,

I don't think I'm the first person here to address this, but...how exactly is the Philadelphia ban of "sidewalk cycling in the urban center" "far more sweeping" than the DC ban of sidewalk cycling in the urban center? Is the "urban center" just defined more broadly?

by oboe on Mar 1, 2011 9:35 am • linkreport

@ oboe They actually changed the law. It's the whole city now for adults. From the Phildelphia Code:

§ 12-808. Riding on Sidewalks.9.1
(1) No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk, except as follows:

(a) Children under the age of twelve may ride on the sidewalk, other than in a business district as defined in the Vehicle Code.

(b) Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is permitted where appropriate signs are posted for shared pedestrian and bicycling use by the Department of Streets at locations determined by the Department by regulation. The Department shall not adopt any such regulation or post such signs without first receiving a recommendation from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and considering factors such as pedestrian safety and comfort, bicycle rider safety, existing and expected density of use by pedestrians and bicyclists, motorist safety, traffic flow, and the free ingress and egress to and from surrounding buildings. A sidewalk designated pursuant to this subsection shall not be considered a path for purposes of Section 12-804(2), relating to Riding on Roadway.

(2) Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.

(3) In areas under the jurisdiction of the Fairmount Park Commission, riding bicycles on sidewalks and foot paths may be permitted when authorized by regulations of the commission.

(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 12-811 of this Chapter, the penalty for violation of this Section shall be a fine of fifty dollars ($50), together with the costs of prosecution. The amount required to be remitted in response to a notice of violation, pursuant to Section 1-112, shall be twenty dollars ($20).

by jcm on Mar 1, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

@oboe

It's defined as -- not looking at the ordinance now, just from memory -- "commercial district" or some such. In DC, for instance, such a ban would include large parts of Capitol Hill, Penn Quarter, downtown from Union Station across to Georgetown, up to Glover Park, through Cleveland Park and Woodley and back to Adams Morgan. Far from every inch of that area, to be sure (most side streets would be excluded from the ban), but at the same time far more streets would have a ban than are covered by the very limited area in the vicinity of the Mall that the law now provides for.

In any case, my larger point is that most big cities ban the practice outright. Notwithstanding what Philly may do, DC is an outlier.

by Gee on Mar 1, 2011 10:07 am • linkreport

I stand corrected!

by Gee on Mar 1, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

jcm,

What you said: "Bikes don't belong on the sidewalk in cities, period."

What someone who wasn't being a dick would say: In my opinion, bikes do not belong on the sidewalk in cities, but I'd love to hear other opinions

What you said: "Read the studies." And when presented with a counteragrument, "Read the studies." And when shown that the studies don't address or support the counterarguments and might actually undermine your thesis, "Read the studies."

What someone who wasn't being a baby would say: Something other than just "read the studies"

what you said: "If you can't have a discussion without being a dick then there's really no sense speaking with you anymore."

What someone who wasn't being a dick would say: "I think your last comment was over the line, and I'd like an apology."

BTW, that last comment about big words was rude and I do apologize

by David C on Mar 1, 2011 10:22 am • linkreport

I've seen Jack Evans jogging with his dog on the trail by the Kennedy Center - with a leash, I believe, and very safely. But other dog walkers can be a nuisance.

DC is being conflicted about joggers vs walkers vs cyclists vs dogs vs cars because we have too few trails, and the trails we have have limited capacity. I wish we could greatly expand the trail network and improve what we have.

I'm sure Vince Gray will get right on that :)

by M.V. Jantzen on Mar 1, 2011 10:29 am • linkreport

Please remain respectful toward other commenters. Talking about a commenter being a dick is not being respectful.

But also, jcm, just saying "read the report" instead of specifically explaining what you believe to be errors in another person's argument is not helpful.

Think about commenting as if you were on a panel with an audience. If one person says something, and you just say, "bzzt, wrong, read the report," that won't convince anyone in the audience, except of the fact that maybe you are being a ...

by David Alpert on Mar 1, 2011 10:31 am • linkreport

I have removed a followup comment by jcm which responded to my suggestion by using additional ad hominem language. jcm, I encourage you to keep commenting but only if you are willing to abide by the rules.

by David Alpert on Mar 1, 2011 10:55 am • linkreport

"San Francisco, Chicago, and New York (among many other cities) all ban sidewalk cycling outright. All three are listed in Bicycling Magazine's top 10 Best Bike Cities in the country. (DC comes in 13th.)"
That is very interesting, showing that it is possible to ban sidewalk cycling and still be bike friendly. However, what about the other factors.

New York and San Francisco have a much more extensive network of bike lanes than DC. SF also allows bikes on its Metro system. I can't recall the bike situation in Chicago, but its incredibly flat and drivers are far more considerate than DC. So, if DC wants to ban sidewalk cycling, and still be bike friendly, it will need to add more bike paths, or change driver attitudes.

by SJE on Mar 1, 2011 11:40 am • linkreport

If everyone just respected each other and used common sense, we would not be at this point.

I've bicycled on sidewalks, but in the right situation, like the original post said. And I always respected pedestrians as having the right of way.

Can't we all just get along?

by Will R. on Mar 1, 2011 11:40 am • linkreport

Gee,

I stand corrected on the relative bicycle friendliness of those cities. Nonetheless, "everyone else is doing it" isn't exactly the best reason to do. I believe that we are right, and they are wrong.

How is their sidewalk safety compared to ours? How is bike safety compared to ours?

A city-wide ban in DC is overkill, IMO. Neighborhoods vary quite widely and so it's fine if the rules do too. If you want cyclists off the sidewalk entice them into the street, don't push them.

by David C on Mar 1, 2011 11:53 am • linkreport

its incredibly flat and drivers are far more considerate than DC

I lived in Chicago for three years, and consider the drivers there to be among the most aggressive and hostile of any city I know. And I'm from Boston! Not sure how flatness enters into it.

if DC wants to ban sidewalk cycling, and still be bike friendly, it will need to add more bike paths, or change driver attitudes.

A big AMEN to adding more bike lanes! And changing driver attitudes, for that matter.

Incidentally, I've biked on sidewalks, too, for very short distances. My sense is that most cities that don't permit it are not zero-tolerance crazy about enforcing it. Rather, sidewalk bans tend to (and are intended to) deter people from making their entire bike journey on a sidewalk. Popping down a (hopefully not busy) sidewalk for half a block as a shortcut/to avoid wrong-way riding etc. isn't really the issue and doesn't tend to bring the law down on you in those cities with sidewalk bans. I speak from experience.

The problem is not people occasionally riding down the sidewalk for a few yards. The problem is people who ride nowhere but on the sidewalk. And yes, David C, I do think that is a problem. I understand that you don't, or that you seem to doubt it. We'll have to agree to disagree about that.

I actually think a broader-but-not-comprehensive ban might be a significant improvement in DC, maybe the best solution. (This seems to be the law in Minneapolis and some other, smaller cities.) Not sure what that would consist of, but it would need to be sufficiently broad -- and publicized -- that cyclists would know as a general rule that if they aren't on a residential/side street, they can't ride on the sidewalk. Making the law easy to follow is one key to compliance.

by Gee on Mar 1, 2011 12:04 pm • linkreport

Gee,

I do doubt it is a problem - or a particularly large one, but largely I don't know. I haven't seen a lot of evidence to support it. I also doubt a ban would solve the problem - it would only give those who complain about scofflaw cyclists something else to moan about.

The 15th street cycletrack (mass to u) reduced sidewalk cycling by 12%. That seems like a better solution.

by David C on Mar 1, 2011 12:14 pm • linkreport

Gee: well, I suppose we had different experiences of drivers. The flatness is relevant to side walk cycling in that one reason to cycle on the sidewalk is to get out of the road when you are going slow up a hill (e.g. McArthur Blvd in DC) There are no hills in Chicago.

by SJE on Mar 1, 2011 12:46 pm • linkreport

Let's face it--bicycle use is on the increase in the DC region. As a result, there are going to be more pedestrian/cyclist traffic conflicts. This will only intensify in DC because of the narrow sidewalks in most parts of town. If cyclists as a group are not more respectful of pedestrians (who well outnumber the cyclists), I believe DC gov't will be force to deal with the issue. BTW, are there any stats on pedestrian/bicycle accidents? They must be pretty rare. I have never heard or seen of a serious one.

by Rich on Mar 1, 2011 12:57 pm • linkreport

Anyone who reads GGW regularly knows I'm about a maximalist regarding cyclist rights, but I'd be fine with some sort of Saudi-style "Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" to wander the sidewalks in plain-clothes. They'd be charged with one duty: forcibly dismounting people on bikes who ride above a walking pace on populated sidewalks.

To paraphrase someone up-thread: Sidewalk riding is not the problem; being an asshole is the problem.

by oboe on Mar 1, 2011 1:24 pm • linkreport

Why don't we only ban bicycles on sidewalks IF existing bike lanes are on the road. Of course, leaving/returning cyclists can use the sidewalk from the building to the road's bike lanes - that only makes sense but if we are PAYING for bike lanes to be painted, restrict bikes to those lanes when available. Also enforce the one way direction painted on the road. If they are arrowed to only go one way, ticket the cyclist who goes the wrong way.

by chris on Mar 2, 2011 1:08 pm • linkreport

@chris: Why don't we only ban bicycles on sidewalks IF existing bike lanes are on the road.

Because the existence or nonexistence of bicycle lanes has almost nothing to do with whether riding in the street is safe or unsafe, appropriate or inappropriate.

Do buses only go where there are bus lanes?

by David desJardins on Mar 2, 2011 1:31 pm • linkreport

it seems as though this conversation/dialogue is being dominated by Vehicular Cyclists- in other words- those who choose to ride with auto traffic at higher speeds and those who are willing to take risks. Why is a cyclist "inexperienced" if he or she decides to ride on the sidewalk? I for one regard someone like this as SANE and RATIONAL and not willing to kill themselves by exposing themselves to cars and traffic. NO AMOUNT of " CONFIDENT CYCLING EXPERIENCE or TRAINING " can protect a cyclist from a 5000 pound SUV running into them...
All that our towns and cities need to do is to SIMPLY PAINT OFF an area of the sidewalks-to separate this area from pedestrians as is done eldewhere in the world- it is not rocket science and it should NOT involve huge amounts of planning time or engineering studies to pull off- in the case of DC-we already have VERY WIDE sidewalks- so that cyclists of ALL AGES and from ALL BACKGROUNDS do not have to RISK OUR LIVES to prove how "macho" and "experienced" we are riding in traffic.

No cyclists in any large population center should be forced to "share the road" with dangerous and aggressive cars and trucks. The conversation here needs more women ,elderly, regular Joe/Jane types and family representation and less sports oriented and less Vehicular Cycling oriented commentors to level out the playing field.

When we have MORE of a diversity of cyclists we will not have to worry as much about the aggressors- because as it stands now- our cycling rules and laws ENCOURAGE AGGRESSIVE CYCLISTS by making sure that ALL CYCLISTS CYCLE WITH AUTO TRAFFIC !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WAKE UP PEOPLE !!!!
go to Holland, Germany and Denmark and see the writing on the wall !!!

by w on Mar 3, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport

I'm just sick of conversations being dominated by Vehicular Drivers. What about those less experienced drivers who don't feel comfortable in traffic, and prefer to drive on the sidewalk?

by David desJardins on Mar 3, 2011 10:59 am • linkreport

I for one have been riding on the sidewalks in DC for well over 40 years now, I always use a loud bell , and I always give pedestrians the right of way, and so far, have never run into or collided with any pedestrians. Every Vehicular Cyclist that I have ever known has been in a scrape with a car and very very few of these dare devils ever have bells or horns on their bicycles. They are simply not equipped to handle the sidewalks. They need to get over their suburban obsession with going fast and take it easy and enjoy the ride. They might live longer .Anything other than Vehicular Cycling is considered to be simply too radical a notion in the USA ...this is astonishing when one considers what is actually very common in Holland, Germany, China ,and Denmark- which is a form of cycling OTHER than Vehicular Cycling.

by w on Mar 3, 2011 11:12 am • linkreport

There must be two Europes. The one I've seen has way more cyclists in the streets than here, and it's no big deal and doesn't raise all of this angst.

by David desJardins on Mar 3, 2011 11:26 am • linkreport

you must have sledom been to Germany- where pretty much every road and street has a dedicated separated auto protected bike way except for the town centers- where it is open to bikes and walkers.
The country roads all have bikeways along side of them- and you never need to worry about mixing it up with cars and trucks at all.
The trains have specially dedicated cars that are just for bicyclists. The stations have bicycle ramps where elevators are not practical- and the german Rail System inaugurated a bike share program years before any other in Europe or in the States.

by w on Mar 3, 2011 12:09 pm • linkreport

I for one have been riding on the streets in DC for well over 40 years now, I never needed to use a loud bell , and I always give pedestrians the right of way, and so far, have never run into or collided with any cars *or* pedestrians. Every Sidewalk Cyclist that I have ever known has been in a scrape with a pedestrian and every one of these sidewalk hogs seems to think bells or horns on their bicycles gives them the right-of-way. They are simply not equipped to handle the sidewalks. They need to get over their suburban obsession with riding around on the two-wheeled SUVs they call "cargo bikes"--vehicles so large they need aftermarket devices like "steering stabilizers" just to cope with their unwieldiness.

The rest of us might live longer.

I find it strange that there are still those for whom "Vehicular Cycling" is considered to be simply too radical a notion in the USA ...this is astonishing when one considers what is actually very common in the 99.999999999999999999% of the Earth's land-mass where there is not a dedicated cycle-track to take you from Point A to Point B. Meanwhile, you can head out to any vacation town in the US and around the world, and see throngs of people riding in the streets, carefree and joyously.

by oboe on Mar 3, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

You must have sledom been to Germany- where pretty much every road and street has a dedicated separated auto protected bike way except for the town centers- where it is open to bikes and walkers. The country roads all have bikeways along side of them- and you never need to worry about mixing it up with cars and trucks at all.

http://goo.gl/maps/HRsQ

Consder your argument refuted.

by oboe on Mar 3, 2011 12:26 pm • linkreport

oboe..you are hallucinating

by w on Mar 3, 2011 1:53 pm • linkreport

@w:

Hallucinating about the vacationers riding in the streets? Or about your dream of some foreign land where segregated cycletracks take you wherever you want to go? For the first, you can just drive to Cape May, Nag's Head, Ocean City, or wherever.

For the second, it brings to mind my childhood friend John who, in 6th grade claimed to have a girlfriend in far-off Canada. We never got to meet her, and he could never produce a photo, but we were assured he existed. Much like the utopia of cycletracks that take you anywhere you would ever want to go.

As Hemmingway said, "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

by oboe on Mar 3, 2011 2:03 pm • linkreport

Sorry, "she existed." John's real and still owes me $5.

by oboe on Mar 3, 2011 2:05 pm • linkreport

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=getting-more-bicyclists-on-the-road

you are not only hallucinating , you are definitely way behind the times

by w on Mar 3, 2011 2:10 pm • linkreport

Ok, at the risk of belaboring the point: I see no problem with cycletracks. Having a comprehensive network of cycletracks "where pretty much every road and street has a dedicated separated auto protected bike way except for the town centers- where it is open to bikes and walkers" and where "the country roads all have bikeways along side of them- and you never need to worry about mixing it up with cars and trucks at all" sounds fantastic.

The problem is that there is no country on Earth where such a thing exists.

The key word here is "comprehensive". The google link I shot to you may have seemed glib, but it was pretty much a complete and utter refutation of your assertion that in Germany Cycletracks take you wherever you want to go. They don't in Germany. Nor do they in Holland.

Click on the link. See for yourself. No segregated path.

http://goo.gl/maps/HRsQ

Now, of course, your response might be, "Oh, okay! Sure Mr. Literal, they don't go *everywhere*!" But that rather is the whole f-ing point, isn't it?

Hell, we already have comprehensive segregated cycletracks in America that will take you anywhere you want to go...just so long as "where you want to go" is from Georgetown to Downtown Bethesda.

Surely, w, you can see the logic in this, right? Anyone else? Maybe I am hallucinating after all.

by oboe on Mar 3, 2011 2:25 pm • linkreport

oboe
you just like to argue for argument's sake
you are just not serious and are out to cause people to react.
You should stop being so cynical and learn to be a little more co-operative.
You sound like a rather callow young person who is frustrated and has nothing better to do than to try to get a rise out of people.

by w on Mar 3, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport

@w,

1) Click the link. http://goo.gl/maps/HRsQ
2) Ponder a bit on how the image relates to your claims.
3) Come back and respond to it.

I think I've engaged you in an above-board and straightforward fashion. It sounds as though you're a bit frustrated, and have taken my skepticism for "cynicism". But there are about half a dozen points I've made that you haven't even begun to address. I'd like nothing more than for you to be right. But you're not.

The Achilles Heel of your (and other cycletrack advocates') argument is that there's *nothing* to get us from where we are to segregated cyclepath nirvana. And, as I've pretty much proven, even the cycling utopias out there *don't* have comprehensive segregated cyclepaths. You can choose to ignore that, but it seems if we're going to argue, you could at least engage with that point.

by oboe on Mar 3, 2011 2:49 pm • linkreport

NO

by w on Mar 3, 2011 3:34 pm • linkreport

@w,

Epistemic closure: It's what's for breakfast.

by oboe on Mar 4, 2011 11:36 am • linkreport

I think Jack Evans in being a little hypocritical here. Once I was riding my bike down M Street in Georgetown and I saw him jogging with his dog the wrong way down M Street in the street, not the sidewalk. I almost hit him, but it was his fault, not mine. Is it legal to walk in the street going the wrong way?

I emailed Mr. Evans asking if it was him and he confirmed it was. So before he goes after cyclists perhaps he should consider not jogging illegally.

by Mark on Mar 5, 2011 10:27 am • linkreport

What's the "wrong" direction for a pedestrian? He's *supposed* to be going the opposite direction from you, on your bike.

by David desJardins on Mar 5, 2011 10:55 am • linkreport

He was jogging in the middle of M Street going against traffic. He should have been on the sidewalk.

by Mark on Mar 5, 2011 11:04 am • linkreport

David's 2008 note on the District's sidewalk bike zone is correct, but not the whole story.

Outside the zone biking is permitted on sidewalks, the code says the city can post signs prohibiting it where warranted. Conversely, inside the zone the city can post signs permitting bikes on the sidewalk.

Here is the section from DDOT's regulations:

4029 BICYCLE USE OF SIDEWALK AREAS

4029.1 The riding of bicycles is prohibited on sidewalks within the Central Business District, as defined in this title, except on the streets listed in this subsection.

4029.2 The riding of bicycles on sidewalks is permitted outside of the Central Business District, except on those streets listed in this subsection.

SOURCE: 17 DCRR § 40117, Special Edition (September 28, 1970).

DDOT's language does not refer to signs, though that is what the old appointed DC Council legislated. Moreover, since the rule was passed in 1970 nothing has been done to make use of this section.

The Council's 1970 action took several steps to encourage biking, especially commuter biking. For example, it repealed the requirement that bikers stay on the right side of the road or that they ride single file. It also supported the placement of bike racks in public space.

Finally, there was the Carl Bernstein proviso. Bernstein rode his bike all over downtown. When charged with some violation such as running a stop sign he was given points on his driver's license. A judge threw his points out and the Council wrote the prohibition on points for bikers in the code.

by Carl Bergman on Mar 7, 2011 11:31 am • linkreport

I ride mostly in the street and on sidewalks in the limited way David describes above. I always keep to the right and maintain a low speed not much faster than surrounding pedestrians when I pass them. Generally though, I stay in the street.

@Mark I often jog in the street, in the direction of traffic. I was not aware of a prohibition on jogging in the street. Have I been breaking the law?

by Alan Page on Mar 7, 2011 5:19 pm • linkreport

Alan - Aren't pedestrians limited to crosswalks, not where ever they want, in the street?

by Mark on Mar 7, 2011 5:27 pm • linkreport

I also ride on the sidewalk when I ride with my daughter, who is 7 and is still terrified by the idea of riding in the street. We're working on that. :-)

I have walked my bike on the sidewalk when facing particularly steep hills, but this happens very rarely. I generally just avoid such hills when planning my routes.

by Alan Page on Mar 7, 2011 5:30 pm • linkreport

I also ride on the sidewalk when I ride with my daughter, who is 7 and is still terrified by the idea of riding in the street. We're working on that. :-)

I have walked my bike on the sidewalk when facing particularly steep hills, but this happens very rarely. I generally just avoid such hills when planning my routes.

ps: Does anyone know of an Android app for bicycle routes? maps.google.com has a bicycle map function, but not on the mobile Google maps site I have on my phone. Help?

by Alan Page on Mar 7, 2011 5:32 pm • linkreport

@Mark What I was getting at was, is there some law that prohibits jogging in the street in DC? I see joggers in the street frequently in Capitol Hill. I was asking you directly if you were aware of a law prohibiting such a practice.

by Alan Page on Mar 7, 2011 5:34 pm • linkreport

Alan: on Google Maps for Android, touch the stack of papers icon (layers), then hit More Layers, and bicycling should be one of them.

by David Alpert on Mar 7, 2011 5:39 pm • linkreport

Alan - If pedestrians are not allowed to jaywalk in the middle of the street, I don't think it matters if they are jogging or not.

by Mark on Mar 7, 2011 5:39 pm • linkreport

Walking in the street, as a method of travel, is not "jaywalking". I think Mark is seriously confused. State laws do vary on where and how pedestrian travel in the street is permitted and appropriate, but I don't think any state or municipality bans it entirely.

by David desJardins on Mar 7, 2011 5:52 pm • linkreport

David - I think walking in the street outside a crosswalk is the very definition of jaywalking. I'm not sure what the distinction for walking "as a method of travel" would be. Walking is always a method of travel, isn't it? Unless there is a jaywalking exemption for joggers, I think walking in the street outside a crosswalk is not legal, regardless of whether one is jogging.

by Mark on Mar 7, 2011 6:02 pm • linkreport

I know you think that, but you're wrong. Jaywalking is improper crossing. The rules for traveling (walking) in the street are completely different from the rules for crossing the street. Just like the rules for cars crossing an intersection are different from the rules for driving along the street.

by David desJardins on Mar 7, 2011 6:13 pm • linkreport

@mark If your understanding of jaywalking was correct, drivers would be jaywalking every time they walked into the street to get to the driver's side of their car to climb in. Pause for a second. Before you cite what is or is not jaywalking, consider finding an actual statute that defines what jaywalking is in the District. We don't have to guess, there is a "Search the DC Code" section on www.dc.gov (I only asked you if there was a law in this area because you appeared so confident in your assertion that jogging in the street was prohibited that I assumed you knew about some law that I didn't).

by Alan Page on Mar 7, 2011 6:29 pm • linkreport

David - Maybe I am wrong and streets are designed not just for cars, but for pedestrians walking "as a method of travel." Seems odd but, but even if you are correct and streets are for walking and jogging, I still contend that Jack Evans would probably have fewer close calls with cyclists if he avoided jogging against traffic in the middle of the street.

by Mark on Mar 7, 2011 6:35 pm • linkreport

2305.2 says:
Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk
along and upon an adjacent roadway.

2305.3 says:
Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a
street or highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the left side of the
roadway or its shoulder facing traffic, which may approach from the opposite
direction.

by Ron Alford on Mar 8, 2011 8:06 am • linkreport

@Ron Thank you for citing a statute, but I was looking for something that would prohibit jogging in the street (as contrasted with walking). The discussion about whether walking in the street equals jaywalking was a sidetrack away from that question. It would seem that the city would not want to force joggers to share the sidewalk with much slower moving walkers (including people pushing strollers, carrying groceries, etc). The law cited appears to specifically target walking. I would research it, but my time is limited (with my City Council run and all *smile*). I probably have already spent too much time even typing this reply.

by Alan Page on Mar 8, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

Ron - Thanks for providing that. I hope those who claimed pedestrians are allowed in the street are now satisfied. And, just getting back to the original point, the area of M Street were Jack Evans was jogging with his dog in traffic has a sidewalk, so he was indeed violating the law.

by Mark on Mar 8, 2011 10:28 am • linkreport

@Alan Page

I think we have to assume that the definition of "walking" here is expansive enough that it covers all travel on foot. I think jogging is included here.

"Officer, I am within my legal rights to hop and skip down this street!"

by MLD on Mar 8, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

@MLD

Officers have discretion when making an arrest to determine if a statute has been violated. So saying "Officer, I have the right to skip down this street" would not be sufficient to prevent you from being arrested if an officer thought that arresting you in that case was in the interest of public safety, including your own (say, in the scenario where someone was skipping through high speed traffic). An arrest and a conviction are two different animals, however. I'm a lawyer, so I don't know if a conviction could be obtained when a defendant was jogging in traffic and the statute prohibits "walking" in traffic (unless there is a separate statute expressly prohibiting jogging). That is why statutes have to be carefully drafted. And why people generally get mad at lawyers and legislators, the former of which I am and the latter of which I hope to become. Ha.

by Alan Page on Mar 8, 2011 11:34 am • linkreport

And when I say "jogging in traffic", I mean jogging in the road while there are also cars in their respective lanes, not jogging in the middle of a lane while cars trail behind the jogger, honking angrily.

by Alan Page on Mar 8, 2011 11:36 am • linkreport

Did I mention that commenting on these boards is addictive?

by Alan Page on Mar 8, 2011 11:36 am • linkreport

PLEASE do something to get cyclists of city sidewalks. Sidewalks were designed for pedestrians, not cyclists. With the popularity of bike rentals, cyclists are taking to my neighborhood sidewalks as never before, tearing down M Street NW as if was their exclusive bike path, oblivious to red lights and pedestrians. More than once I have come very close to being hit. They weave in and out of pedestrians, impatient and quite dangerous. Enough!

by Jonathan Large on Jun 5, 2011 5:30 pm • linkreport

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