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Dangerous Bicyclists!

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  • Frank Dunn
    Dear CM Graham, It is time to do something to address the constant danger of bicyclists on sidewalks. Columbia Heights in particular is getting increasingly
    Message 1 of 62 , Aug 7, 2011
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      Dangerous Bicyclists! Dear CM Graham,

          It is time to do something to address the constant danger of bicyclists on sidewalks.  Columbia Heights in particular is getting increasingly dangerous.

          I have over the course of the last year had any one of a number of near collisions as a pedestrian for whom bicyclists have apparently no regard.  Recently my partner and I were walking on 14th Street between Irving and Columbia Road, on the east side heading south.  In the early evening at a particularly busy time a cyclist came towards us, traveling at a speed which was far in excess of what was safe on a fairly narrow, congested sidewalk with numerous pedestrians.  The same cyclist, moments later, came flying back down the sidewalk in the opposite direction, bumped me nearly knocking me to the ground.  The MPD were called to report an assault (the cyclist did not so much as apologize or ask if any damage had been done).  Two squad cars fairly quickly pulled up, a total of no fewer than four officers stood around doing nothing, while one officer dutifully filled out a time-consuming report without inquiring if any injury or damage had been done, and in effect saying that nothing further would happen.  Officers present stated, in answer to my questions, that bicycling on the sidewalk is not illegal (although bicycle lanes in the street were available) although the law understands that pedestrians have right-of-way.

          So much for one incident.  Within a thirty-six hour period, we were witnesses to the collision of another cyclist with and elderly woman.

          What prompts this writing is that I narrowly avoided a collision with yet another cyclist, zooming down the sidewalk on Park Road at a high speed, who would have been unable to stop for anyone, child or adult who stepped out onto the sidewalk, as I did.  

          For what scale of accident are we waiting before someone mounts a campaign (neighbors, I am all for it if there is any support) to stop this unsafe practice?  What do we have to do to ensure that proper regulations are in place and warnings made for dangerous cycling activity?  This is every bit as urgent as unsafe driving practices, and a lot more significant for public safety than, say, the routine ticketing of illegally parked vehicles (though I have no issue with the latter).  

          Answers?

          

      Sincerely,

      Frank Dunn



      The Rev. Frank G. Dunn, D. Min.
      Senior Priest
      St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church
      1525 Newton St., NW
      Washington, DC 20010

      202 518 8432 (H/W)
      202 422 2329 (M)
      ioprete@...
      frank.dunn@...
      www.saintstephensdc.org

       
    • whj@melanet.com
      I think most realize Columbia Heights & Georgia Ave. are at a crossroads. Where we go will depend on whether we adopt in main a civics of ownership and
      Message 62 of 62 , Aug 16, 2011
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        I think most realize Columbia Heights & Georgia Ave. are at a crossroads.  Where we go will depend on whether we adopt in main a civics of "ownership and responsibility" or continue to slide into "bell-hop civics" where we leave true responsibility to others as long as they answer when we ring a bell.  Two things our community needs is one to organize a "civics" association as a superstructure for our neighborhood and other groups.  The other is to re-focus ANC1A which seems to think of it's self as a 'neighborhood club" rather than a element in representative democracy.

         

        In terms of physical infrastructure.  The city at least planned with the community a foundation for the physical infrastructure which would be necessary for sustainable and equitable growth in our neighborhood.  Over the years the resources/money set-a-side for this purpose have been siphoned off for other purposes, often private.

         

        As an example, Donatelli Developement owes Columbia Heights/the public at least approximately $25M which was in effect taken from Columbia Heights/Georgia Ave. infrastructure funding.  This was the money which should have funded parks with maintenance, expanded streetscape improvements, small business development, even social infrastructure and etc..  The developer is looking to sell two of its buildings for a windfall profit.  Any serious discussion about neighborhood infrastructure and services should involve Donatelli Development repaying some of that money back when these buildings are sold and having a portion of it reinvested in the  neighborhood as it should have been in the first place.  Any discussion about 11th & Monroe Park or Georgia Ave development that does not include the reinvestment of this repayment is nonserious.

         

        William

         

         

         

         

         

        -----Original Message-----
        From: elizabeth@...
        Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2011 10:5
        To: whj@..., columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: [columbia_heights] infrastructure building (social and physical)



        Well put, William.


        I’ve changed the topic line because we do need to get beyond one issue.


        The “all politics is local” extends beyond your front yard, alley, block.


        The best way to view your surroundings is something that the late Dr James V.O’Connor, asked in his course , “Washington, DC: Its Foundation on a Natural Base” : Who owns the Neighborhood ?


        Looking at it that way, you go to who is responsible. You don’t just complain to your neighbor, they will commiserate, and that’s it.  If you call the police, they have a very narrow focus which won’t solve an underlying problem.  If you email the councilmember, he will respond, surely, but he does not own the neighborhood, and you have declared your dependency.


        To the extent that there are public issues, you could decide, collectively, that you own the neighborhood, and that includes the entities with whom you have, or have had, adversarial dealings. Once you overcome the immediate issue, even though you might not expect it, you may find you share concerns about something else. And those who are vested are not necessarily just property owners, but whoever shares the sidewalks with us.

         

         

        James O’Connor was a professor at UDC, the former official geologist of DC, and teacher at the Audubon Naturalist Society/ USDA’s Continuing Education /Natural History Field Studies Program. He taught much more than science, and unobtrusively incubated a lot of neighborhood activism.

         

         

        Elizabeth McIntire

         

         

        From: columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com [mailto:columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of whj@...
        Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2011 9:12 AM
        To: columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [columbia_heights] Dangerous Bicyclists!

         

         

         

         




         

         

        Infrastructure is more than bike lanes and other physical improvements, but includes the actions of people formally and informally organized, as well time.  Give the growth and social demands this community lacks the necessary physical and social infrastructures and resources to adequately cope.  As this situation with cyclist on sidewalks is just one of many significant challenges. Scapegoating occurs  primarily as a way to ration our limited infrastructure both physically and social.  Until we take planning and infrastructure building (social and physical) seriously its going to continue to be hit and miss addressing issues like this one. Columbia Heights lacks many is any true civic organizations, most of our civic/neighborhood associations are either cliques, single issue focused or both.  Politically, we are weak and tend to tolerate unethical behavior to go along to get along for political handouts.  Until this changes, issue like the bike issue and many others will not change much.

         

         

        The place to start turning this around is at the ANC level.

         

         

        William

         

         

         

         

         

        -----Original Message-----
        From: "Frank Dunn" <ioprete@...>
        Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 2:14pm
        To: "Emily" <badkitty3804@...>, "Chris G" <cgoulddc@...>, "columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com" <columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: Re: [columbia_heights] Dangerous Bicyclists!

         



        Chris's reply, for which I am grateful, poses a valuable suggestion—campaign for public civility—but yet also a problem for me.  How do I—how does anyone—raise an issue that has to do with human behavior that poses risks without unfairly scapegoating a person or a group?  I'd rather not get off into that, though it is the kind of issue I am more adept at dealing with than is a matter of general safety.  But once more I underscore the issue, which is not to make global statements about bicyclists.  It is to say that some bicyclists are posing a threat to people who are otherwise and unavoidably walking down public sidewalks.  They are called “sidewalks” for a reason.  

        What would we say if the problem were that some people were mischievously creating holes or traps in sidewalks in which pedestrians now and again tripped, fell, and were injured?  Would we say that the pedestrians ought simply to be more careful, watch their step, and avoid the pitfalls and boobie traps, the blind pedestrian be damned?  Would we consider it improper to single out those whose behavior posed a threat on the theory that it would be unfairly singling them out, or that people in the hole and trap business would be offended by implication?  Would we tolerate dangerous mischief because there were underlying psychological issues that motivated mischief-makers’ acting out?  Of course, none of this, one might say, is at all relevant, because bicyclists are none of those things.  And, of course, that is true.  But neither are bicyclists as a group being singled out.  Rather, patently, demonstrably, repeatedly, unsafe bicycle-riding by a relatively small but numerically increasing group is posing a clear danger.  And that is a fact.

        Let’s get off the bicycle issue and look at the simple question of what we as a community do when any unsafe practice threatens pedestrian safety.

        Emily’s one-word response has me wondering if you think that WIN—Washington Interfaith Network—might take this issue up.  Or were you commenting on something else entirely?  


        Frank


        on 8/11/11 1:37 PM, Emily at badkitty3804@... wrote:

        > Win.
        >
        > On 8/11/11, Chris G <cgoulddc@...> wrote:
        >>
        >> When I'm riding my bike, I'm acutely aware that I have the potential of
        >> being to pedestrians what some motorists can be to me - a menace - and I
        >> behave in a way so as not to be a menace.  For the most part, there aren't a
        >> whole lot of "innocent victims" here - I think we all need to recognize that
        >> everybody breaks traffic laws.  Some motorists block bike lanes, fail to use
        >> turn signals, and use their vehicles sometimes as weapons.  Some cyclists
        >> cross against the light, ride up on sidewalks, and occasionally move from
        >> defensive riding to aggressive riding.  Some pedestrians cross against the
        >> walk signals and cross at places other than cross walks.  All of those
        >> individuals have justifications for doing what they do - but that doesn't
        >> make it right.  I think the danger is when we generalize about the "other"
        >> and make it an "us" versus "them" thing.  What gets me worked up, as a
        >> regular bike commuter, is when bicyclists are singled out as the horrible
        >> scoffaws when in reality they are merely behaving the same way as others in
        >> the larger society - we should we expect one group of people to obey the law
        >> when the others do not?  So, in answer to your question, I guess I would
        >> rage against the individual cyclist, but I wouldn't make it into a whole
        >> campaign against some kind of plague of bicyclists with poor manners.  If
        >> anything, I would make a campaign about general civility by ALL parties in
        >> the urban landscape.
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> To: columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com
        >> From: ioprete@...
        >> Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2011 10:47:08 -0400
        >> Subject: Re: [columbia_heights] Re: Dangerous Bicyclists!
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> OK, folks.  When does a neighbor transition from being a writer to become a
        >> gadfly to become an axe-grinder to become a pest?  I fear that with one more
        >> post I will be well on my way to becoming the third and perhaps the fourth.
        >> And that was far from my intention.
        >>
        >> This discussion has evolved into anything but a discussion about pedestrian
        >> safety.  Clearly that is not a priority for this neighborhood; or at least
        >> the prevailing perception is that pedestrians, while theoretically protected
        >> by law, have only the good graces of cyclists and others to depend upon,
        >> because all other concerns override whatever sympathy we might have for
        >> those who merely walk.  No, we don’t want to put it that way; but that is
        >> clearly the message that I get.
        >>
        >> I am not one whose default position is that legislation is the answer to
        >> every problem.  Nor do I fantasize that having stricter rules will convince
        >> the careless, the reckless, and the inconsiderate to adapt.  There seems to
        >> me to be an unwillingness, or perhaps inability, for us to reframe a problem
        >> so that it falls outside the “neighborhood services improvement” paradigm
        >> that  various contributors to this list know well, speak clearly to, and
        >> frequently argue about.
        >>
        >> I have actually thought about the question of how someone with my concern
        >> about pedestrian safety might actually have an impact without pissing off
        >> bicycle riders, without becoming a know-it-all, without being
        >> over-controlling, without being unsympathetic to those whose level of common
        >> courtesy is different from my own.  Should I accost bicycle riders who
        >> collide with me (as I did in a fit of rage) and let them have it verbally?
        >> Should I take my concern to court when police appear at the scene of a
        >> deliberate assault (yes, it was that) and expect something to change?
        >> Should I avoid walking on the sidewalk lest I encounter someone whose
        >> behavior endangers me?  Should I organize a group of likeminded people who
        >> will spend untold hours putting up placards pleading with teenage and
        >> pre-teen cyclists please to be nice, so that such placards can fade in the
        >> summer sun or be ripped down to add to the heavily littered gutters around
        >> our neighborhood center?  Should I go from door to door, an evangelist to
        >> parents and beleaguered grandparents, entreating for greater supervision
        >> over their young and half-aware biker children?  Might I organize a first
        >> aid stand somewhere on a congested street to give aid and comfort to the
        >> elderly lady who was smashed into by a seven or eight-year-old, zooming in
        >> and out between pedestrian legs on a steamy and crowded sidewalk on a
        >> Saturday morning?  Should I go for a splashier approach and write letters to
        >> the Post to call upon the public to exercise more awareness of its own
        >> safety?  You tell me.
        >>
        >> Because what I don’t want to do is to say, in a manner unbecoming a citizen,
        >> let alone a priest, “Screw it.  Nobody here gives a flying rip. Let’s talk
        >> instead about infrastructure and planning.”
        >>
        >> What am I missing, folks?
        >>
        >>
        >> Frank
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> The Rev. Frank G. Dunn, D. Min.
        >> Senior Priest
        >> St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church
        >> 1525 Newton St., NW
        >> Washington, DC 20010
        >>
        >> ioprete@...
        >> frank.dunn@...
        >> www.saintstephensdc.org
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> on 8/10/11 12:09 PM, whj@... at whj@... wrote:
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> I've posted the these links before, they are actually worth a read beyond
        >> the pictures. One of the elements missing in Columbia Heights was the
        >> development of a BID or similar structure which would have the task of
        >> helping coordinate and maintain our infrastructure working with residents
        >> and the responsible agencies. Having regular clean and safety teams for
        >> areas like CH is a must, folks need guidance.  It's wrong to assume people
        >> really no how to live in a relatively dense urban neighborhood/community.
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> Columbia Heights Public Realm Framework Plan
        >> http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/In+Your+Neighborhood/Wards/Ward+1/Small+Ar
        >> ea+Plans+&+Studies/Columbia+Heights+Public+Realm+Framework+Plan
        >>
        >>
        >> Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant Transportation Study
        >>
        >> http://www.scribd.com/doc/44553765/Columbia-Heights-Mount-Pleasant-Transporta
        >> tion-Study
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> -----Original Message-----
        >> From: "Richard Layman" <rlaymandc@...>
        >> Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 11:08am
        >> To: "whj@..." <whj@...>
        >> Cc: "David" <lists@...>, "columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com"
        >> <columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com>
        >> Subject: Re: [columbia_heights] Re: Dangerous Bicyclists!
        >>
        >> it's the same concept.  It's about promoting mobility modes that prioritize
        >> quality of life.  That typically means "not the car."
        >>
        >> The Livability program of DDOT has the potential to provide a better
        >> planning framework for doing so, but I don't think a fully robust network is
        >> there yet.
        >>
        >> In the plan I did in Baltimore County, I recommended the creation of
        >> "sustainable transportation" elements in community plans, linking both
        >> infrastructure improvements and programming.  But I didn't define all the
        >> particulars, just laid out some parameters.  But the plan does provide
        >> detailed recommendations about programming.  And in a presentation I did in
        >> Montgomery County, I laid out the backstory of the  planning approach I was
        >> taking and how to outline implementation at various levels: neighborhoods;
        >> schools; parks/recreation centers; etc.
        >>
        >> Anyway, better placemaking planning at the neighborhood/district/sector/city
        >> level happens to be an issue that I am furiously thinking about/researching
        >> and I hope to lay out a more detailed framework for going about it.  I'm
        >> sure I've mentioned parks planner David Barth and his concept of an
        >> integrated public realm, which is one of the influences on the work I am
        >> doing now.
        >> Image by David Barth & Carlos Perez, AECOM
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> From: "whj@..." <whj@...>
        >> To: Richard Layman <rlaymandc@...>
        >> Cc: David <lists@...>; "columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com"
        >> <columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com>
        >> Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 10:57 AM
        >> Subject: Re: [columbia_heights] Re: Dangerous  Bicyclists!
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> At the neighborhood level, I would argue that throughput is secondary to the
        >> goal of improving the overall quality of life in that neighborhood and the
        >> individuals, families that live, work, shop and visit the place.  If we can
        >> effectively share space the other issues will begin to work themselves out.
        >> -----Original Message-----
        >> From: "Richard Layman" <rlaymandc@...>
        >> Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 10:30am
        >> To: "whj@..." <whj@...>, "David" <lists@...>
        >> Cc: "columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com" <columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com>
        >> Subject: Re: [columbia_heights] Re: Dangerous Bicyclists!
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> well, it's not about "unduly interfering with the use of others" as much as
        >> it should be optimizing throughput.  Generally, in cities, transit, walking,
        >> and biking is the most efficient use of mobility infrastructure.  Cities
        >> should work to maximize their strengths, in mobility policy and every thing
        >> else.
        >>
        >> Partly the efficiency is about space, the amount of space required to move
        >> one person, or a full vehicle.  E.g., 3 cars, usually carrying one person,
        >> no more, fit into the same space as one 40 foot bus which carries up to 60
        >> people.
        >>
        >> Arlington's master transportation plan prioritizes people throughput
        >> overall, not throughput by specific mode.  Therefore they prioritize
        >> transit, walking, and biking  over motor vehicles, especially "single
        >> occupant vehicles."
        >>
        >> Policies and practices they are criticized for, such as fighting the
        >> creation of high occupancy toll lanes, are fully supportable, based on the
        >> goals and policies of their transpo. plan.
        >>
        >> Mobility efficiency, from the 1977 Central Washington Civic Design and
        >> Transportation Study, National Endowment of the Arts
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> From: "whj@..." <whj@...>
        >> To: David <lists@...>
        >> Cc: columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com
        >> Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 8:39 AM
        >> Subject: RE: [columbia_heights] Re: Dangerous Bicyclists!
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> You are right on point, however, the challenge is who do we get to "policy
        >> and infrastructure that optimizes the resources we have so that  as many
        >> users of the streets get as much out of it as possible without  unduly
        >> interfering with the use of others", from where we are?  If anything the
        >> civic and political value system in Columbia Heights has shifted the other
        >> way.
        >> If you combine streetscape/street infrastructure improvements for Ward 1
        >> Georgia Ave and 14th ST about $10M infrastructure spending/funding was LOST
        >> in the last 5 years.
        >> William
        >> -----Original Message-----
        >> From: "David" <lists@...>
        >> Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 5:37am
        >> To: columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com
        >> Subject: [columbia_heights] Re: Dangerous Bicyclists!
        >>
        >> It's good to see this topic discussed on here. I'm a cyclist and I think
        >> that riding on the sidewalk is generally bad for both pedestrians and
        >> cyclists, but this doesn't need a law or regulation. It needs a little
        >> courtesy, respect and understanding.
        >>
        >> I think a lot of cyclists ride on the sidewalks for fear of utilizing poorly
        >> designed bike lines/roads and fear of agressive drivers/riding in traffic.
        >>
        >> I bike in the Central Business Distract every day (where it's illegal to
        >> ride on the sidewalks) and I don't understand why folks would ride on the
        >> sidewalks despite the throngs of people - however, I'm completely
        >> comfortable riding in traffic. Personally, I only ride on the sidewalk on
        >> the last third of a block in front of my home and I really don't think it's
        >> safe (for pedestrians or cyclists who end up riding through crosswalks where
        >> motorists aren't expecting them).
        >>
        >> What we need is policy and infrastructure that optimizes the   resources we
        >> have so that as many users of the streets get as much out of it as possible
        >> without unduly interfering with the use of others.
        >>
        >> For me that means that pedestrians come first, then cyclists/non-motorized
        >> vehicle operators and then cars. Cars are the measurable threat to human
        >> life in this mashup and clearly need to be strictly regulated. Bikes are
        >> infinitely less of a threat to those around the cyclist and don't merit the
        >> "quasi-vehicle" treatment they often receive in public opinion - they're
        >> more like pedestrians than they are like cars no matter how fast a cyclist
        >> is going.
        >>
        >> The DC municipal regulations are already very clear, pedestrians *always*
        >> have the right of way and I think that's clear enough.
        >>
        >> Better bike lanes, roads and sidewalks coupled with better education (for
        >> cyclists, drivers and pedestrians) will do much more for safety than
        >> regulations.
        >>
        >> David
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >> --- In   columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com, Richard Layman <rlaymandc@...>
        >> wrote:
        >>>
        >>> Clearly you haven't read about the Idaho Stop. Â Best practices percolate
        >>> from many places, even Disneyland.
        >>>
        >>>
        >>> ________________________________
        >>> From: ClarissaP <jandcbuy@...>
        >>> To: columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com
        >>> Sent: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 11:00 AM
        >>> Subject: [columbia_heights] Re: Dangerous Bicyclists!
        >>>
        >>>
        >>> Â
        >>>
        >>>
        >>> Bicycles aren't permitted in Disneyland (see theme park FAQs).
        >>>
        >>> Also, if we start importing our traffic laws from Idaho (the "Idaho stop")
        >>> we might as well start importing our zoning ordinances from Alaska.
        >>>
        >>> --- In columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com, whj@ wrote:
        >>>>
        >>>>
        >>>>
        >>>>
        >>>> My primary concern is pedestrian safety.  Some cyclist have an Urban
        >>>> Disney   where they expect the neighborhood to serve them as if they are
        >>>> at Disney land and have little concern about the needs of others.  They
        >>>> need to educated to be concerned about others.
        >>>>
        >>>> Unfortunately, over the past several years DDOT has placed pedestrian
        >>>> safety on the back burner and may it a priority to engage in gimmicks
        >>>> around biking which produce better PR. If there is a desire to balance
        >>>> this out begin here:
        >>>>
        >>>> [http://ddot.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/On+Your+Street/Bicycles+and+Pedestrians?nav=1&v
        >>>> gnextrefresh=1]
        >>>> http://ddot.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/On+Your+Street/Bicycles+and+Pedestrians?nav=1&vg
        >>>> nextrefresh=1
        >>>>
        >>>>
        >>>> As well here's the Director's email - "'Bellamy,Terry (DDOT)'"
        >>>> <[mailto:terry.bellamy@] terry.bellamy@>, burn it up.  Have him send is
        >>>> pedestrian safety lead to CH.
        >>>>
        >>>> Contact the Mayor's neighborhood folk.  He can help if he does not get
        >>>> scared off.
        >>>>
        >>>> "Fimbres,Francisco (EOM)" <[mailto:francisco.fimbres@]
        >>>> francisco.fimbres@>,
        >>>>
        >>>>
        >>>>
        >>>>
        >>>
        >>>>
        >>>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
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