Dear PoP – aggression towards pedestrians in Dupont/Logan Circles

Photo by PoPville flickr user Bogotron

“Dear PoP,

I am writing to ask for your help in raising awareness about driver aggression towards pedestrians in the Dupont/Logan area.

In the last six months or so, I have noticed a disturbing trend in our neighborhood. Rather than yielding to pedestrians — as the law requires — drivers sometimes actually speed up when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. This has happened to both my husband and me on separate occasions, to the point that we had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit by a car accelerating towards us. I saw it again yesterday, only this time it was a taxicab that floored it towards a pedestrian who was crossing at R and Connecticut — and the pedestrian had both the light and the right of way!

It’s terrifying to see a car accelerating towards you. But once I got over the fright, I became very angry, especially because I feel helpless to fight back in any way. It is also happening to bikers who are obeying traffic rules; I have three different friends who have told me about cars/trucks speeding up towards them and/or running them off the road.

I don’t know what can be done to stop this disturbing trend, but I know I need to raise awareness before another person gets killed.”

We had a very lively Dear PoP, People leisurely walking into speeding traffic, last week from a driver’s perspective. It is interesting to see a pedestrian’s perspective. Is this problem particularly bad in Dupont/Logan Circles or is it a problem all over the city?

125 Comment

  • I can vouch for the aggression toward bikes. And before we hear the same tired lie about “when cyclists follow the law they’ll get respect,” I’ll tell you I’m far more often harassed when engaging in legal behavior. I’m not going to claim I’ve never rolled through a stop sign, but yesterday a cab driver laid on the horn and crept up to within a couple inches of my rear tire to try to get me to move out of his way so he could illegally turn right on red. I live in Adams Morgan and work in Dupont, and it really has gotten much worse this spring and summer.

  • Drivers in DC are terrible. DC needs more bike lanes to calm traffic and make it easier to get around without fossil fuel powered cars.

    What DDOT did to 15th Street NW, with the contra-flow bike land, was a big step in the right direction.

    DC streets should serve the people who live in DC, not commuters from Maryland and Virginia.

    • I agree. The more people riding bikes to work, the less traffic I have to deal with when I’m driving to the office.

    • They need to make it a cycletrack instead of contra-flow lane. The shared bike lane is where I see the worst aggression from drivers towards cyclists. Furthermore, cars drive so fast on 15th that no one notices there are several crosswalks for pedestrians. I always see pedestrians standing in the crosswalk waiting to cross while all the cars fly by trying to get back to MD. The cars should be stopping at the crosswalks but they don’t. Until this city actually enforces moving violations for cars and cyclists, DC will continue to have these problems.

  • absolutely not. this is ridiculous. pedestrians and cyclists constantly break traffic laws by darting out in the middle of oncoming traffic then drivers are to blame for accidents that sometimes occur. Bikers RARELY obey traffic laws! On more than one occasion, a biker has swerved directly in front of me causing me to either swerve into oncoming traffic or slam on my breaks (potentially causing an accident). Cyclists and pedestrians rank up there with Metro buses and cabs for the cause of most of DC’s traffic woes. To sum up my feelings about this post: UGH!

    • Sure. On more than one occasion, you’ve been forced to swerve for a bike. How many times have you done it because of another car? Undoubtedly too many to count. To say bikers operate more dangerously or come close to breaking as many laws as drivers is laughable and demonstrably false.

      • …except when a car cuts you off, even if a huge injustice occurs, the max you’re looking at is a ticket for failure to yield. If a bike cuts you off, the max you’re looking at when an injustice occurs is vehicular manslaughter. Or if the echo chamber of anti-car bikers can crank up enough noise, 2nd degree murder.

    • You know, I do sometimes not follow traffic laws when I’m on my bike, but honestly, unless it’s going through a red with nary a soul in sight (which I probably shouldn’t do, but then again i doubt you’ve seen me doing it), it’s usually to make it more convenient for cars. Example:

      Legal: riding in the middle of a narrow car lane like any other vehicle because there is no bike lane, forcing all cars behind me to travel at the same pace.

      Illegal: riding on the sidewalk.

      Similarly, a lot of times when I do something inconvenient for a driver, it’s a big safety issue because of visibility–yes, I could be trying harder to be out of the way, but if I have to go through a circle with a bunch of drivers switching lanes and entering/exiting, I’m going to err on the side of visibility.

      • riding on the sidewalk is perfectly legal outside of the downtown core.

        • Not in the business district, which is usually where I can’t find a bike lane.

        • Riding on the sidewalk is stupid and dangerous. The surface is often uneven, pedestrians generally are unpredictable/distracted/arent looking around behind themselves/many other variables. If it has wheels it probably belongs on the street.

        • me

          Right by 14th and, say, Q? When there is a perfectly good bike lane going north and one going south? And those riders on the sidewalk have the nerve to tell me to get out of their way. They can suck it.

    • Bikers rarely obey traffic laws? THIS is ridiculous. I believe that on more than one occasion that has happened. But on how many occasions have you safely passed a bike on the road, possibly without even noticing it?

      • The problem with bikers — as with drivers — is that it’s the bad ones that stick out for people. The difference is that bad bikers place all the onus for their own safety on drivers, and bad bikers never pay a cost for bad biking short of getting hurt (i.e., they don’t get pulled over and ticketed). As noted above, if the driver makes contact, whether it’s his fault or not, vehicular manslaughter is in play. Driving home Monday night at about 11, I nearly T-boned a biker who crossed 13th Street in front of me against a red. He wasn’t wearing a helmet, and he made no effort to slow down coming into the intersection. But for the fact that I drive a hybrid and come out of a stop very slowly, I’d have hit him, and it would have been his fault but my legal trouble.

  • Being in a car just isn’t natural and it frustrates and angers the driver whether they are aware of it or not. Hence why they are such angry folk on blogs and such. hence road rage.
    I had a driver honk at me and tell me to get out of the way when I was crossing MTP street at hobart. In a crosswalk. In otherwords I had right of way. I held my ground and explained this to the driver (maryland tags…). Also a helpful hint for you pedestrians out there. When a driver cuts you off while you are crossing at a crosswalk. (this happens often when they are turning onto the street you are crossing) simply walk into the side of their car. Giving a good knee dent if possible to the door. I’ve done this twice. Both drivers realized they had no recourse as I was in the crosswalk with the right of way.

    • houseintherear

      And get your foot run over.


      • No need to get your foot run over if you have any sort of coordination. BUT. if you do, sit back and enjoy the pay out. That’ll teach them.

    • This is VERY bad advice unless you want to have the crap beat out of you in the middle of the street, or worse get shot. Many if not most people will respond with violence if you damage their car.

      • perhaps but I’m a big guy and can see the people driving the car. Obviously I wouldnt pull this on an SUV with tinted windows.

        • Glad to see internet machismo is alive and well.

          If you damaged my car, it wouldnt be an issue of you getting the crap kicked out of you. You’d just be liable to pay for damages and i’d politely ask the police to arrest you for vandalism.

          • Think you’re missing the point. You are cutting me off in a crosswalk. I am not able to adjust before making contact with your car that’s infringing on my right of way. I wont be paying jack. You’ll be paying for my bruised knee. My mental anguish. And your jaloppy.

        • Ah, ok… so if a driver looks like a dangerous thug who might have a pattern of anti-social behavior, he gets a pass; but a normally law-abiding mom who is momentarily distracted by the meltdown going on in the backseat gets a dent in her door. You’re a delight, anon.

          • She needs to learn how to drive. Those momentary distractions could kill someone. I don’t give a shit if your kids can’t play nice with each other. Keep your damn eyes on the road and keep your car out of the crosswalk. What a stupid defense.

          • I’m the distracted mom of whom you speak. And, frankly, I applaud your door denting approach. I have been tempted to do it many a time. I try really hard not to be the person who cutting you off in the intersection.

    • I used to cross there 2x a day when I lived on Harvard. DC drivers usually slow down. MD drivers NEVER. In all fairness, cyclists never ever slow down.

  • yeah good call! kick their car if they cut you off! don’t see how that could ever go wrong. idiot.

  • Sorry but pedestrians in this town are fustrating. Maybe we need to have licences for walking?

    There have been numerous times where peds walk out onto traffic against crossing signals and into oncoming traffic or walk in the side of the roadway when there are perfectly good sidewalks 2 feet away!

    The worst was when I saw a guy in a suit and tie walk out in front of an oncoming bus. Magically the bus stopped in time and the guy kept walking. Unbelievable.

    I’m not saying that we need to run over pedestrians, but they’re not making a good case for themselves.

    • It’s not just this town. It’s the nature of being in a city. Check out Rome if you want to see pedestrian craziness.

      It’s a fact of life that pedestrians are frustrating. If you hate pedestrians so much, please consider not driving in our lovely city.

    • Wow, you need to spend some serious time in New England, where drivers actually STOP for pedestrians — even when there’s a green light in front of them. That’s courtesy and respect – it’s not “magic” when a vehicle stops for pedestrians. It’s normal and expected for a big hunk of moving metal to stop from hitting a defenseless person.

      BTW – you only reaffirm your ignorance and bias when you call pedestrians “they”. Don’t you ever cross streets after parallel parking your car? Or when you’re out to lunch? Good driving culture affects your safety too, bub.

  • Commuter tax, commuter tax, commuter tax, commuter tax.

    I’m tired of paying my fair share for roads and other traffic services to have drivers from MD and VA almost kill me in cross walks. If they can’t respect bikers and pedestrians, they ought to take the damn metro to work. They’d also be doing mother nature a favor.

    We could use the revenues make the city even more pedestrian bike friendly.

    And yes, I realize there are locals, too, who aren’t considerate. But a commuter tax would at least alleviate a bit of the problem. And yes, I understand that it’d take Congressional approval, but let’s at least have a hearing on it, dammit.

    • Or worse, they ought to have to take the bus!

    • If you don’t drive, you don’t pay gas taxes and you don’t pay for the roads. Yes, roads are moslty paid for by gas taxes and not out of general revenues.

      • Wha?

        Assuming you get gas in DC?

        • Yup. Federal gas tax = 18 cents/gallon. DC gas tax = 23 cents/gallon.

        • Actually, you’re flat out wrong about the gas tax funding roads. It was once the case back 20 or 30 years ago, that the gas tax fully funded the Highway Trust Fund.

          However, since the gas tax has not been raised for so long, most of the federal funding for roads comes from the General Fund (which in layman’s terms means that it is financed by a combination of general tax receipts and debt issuance).

      • Of course my name gives me away as an ANTI-CAR SCOFFLAW BICYCLIST, but you should know that the gas tax covers only like 50% of road costs. It used to cover them completely like 30 years ago but that’s not the case any more.

    • + 1

      But, seriously, what is the feasibility of a commuter tax?

      • I emphatically endorse this. It would raise revenues, provide nicer quality less crowded streets, and lower pollution.

        It won’t happen for a while though.

  • I’m the first to get angry at drivers when I’m a biker/pedestrian. I’ve noticed a lot of them speed up, blow through yellow/red lights, and get annoyed as I’m going through a cross walk.

    That said, I barely drive, but on the rare occasion that I do, I find myself sometimes being guilty of the things I despise – I’m not saying it’s right, but sitting in a car makes you sealed off from the pedestrian/biker experience. I’ve had to “check myself” on more than one occasion and apologize to a biker/pedestrian that I just didn’t see because I was in my driving zone.

    In general though, I think that drivers (especially out of state drivers) need to respect pedestrians and bikers much more, or we need more dedicated lanes (16th street, please!)

    • +1. I’m a confident bike commuter, but when I rent a Zipcar in town, I have a really hard time seeing bikes. I’m constantly scanning the bike lanes for people. Puts everything in perspective when I get back on my bike – I basically bike under the assumption that drivers simply can’t see me.

  • I walk home from work up 15th st. There’s alot of terrible drivers. I think the one-way traffic pattern makes drivers feel that they can speed up the street but the traffic light timing won’t allow this, so drivers want to go faster to see if they can make all the lights. Breaking for pedestrians and cyclists only serves to slow down drivers that want to go fast.

    Personally, I’m 100% for making downtown a pedestrian only zone to get rid of commuter traffic. Got to get peeps out of their cars!

  • Ditch the gas guzzlers and walk or ride a bike! Healthy for you, healthy for the planet! Do it!

    • me

      Yes, I will walk or ride a bike to my job that is 30 miles away, via a highway, and is also unreachable by a bus stop. Idiot.

  • Well solution is to eliminate cars then yes?

  • Also, eliminate right turn on red. It’s incredibly anti-pedestrian.

    • This. And please make left turns safer. I’ve been almost nailed more times than I can count by cars turning left. I just know I’m going to get killed by a driver not paying attention to pedestrians, gunning his engines and turning left when the traffic is clear.

      And for all the drivers who whine about cyclists blowing stop signs, I was nearly hit the other day by a driver busy texting and rolling through the stop sign even though I was in the middle of the crosswalk.

  • Perhaps if the pedestrians would not step out into the street just when the walk sign starts to flash “do not walk” which puts you in the middle of the street when the light turns green or perhaps if bikers hand signaled their intentions and respected red lights and stop signs or if drivers would just signal period and if DC would coordinate all lights so that traffic would stop all at once and pedestrians could all walk at once, I would remain calmer. As it stands now, I’m ready to slaughter drivers, pedestrians and bikers alike so I take the metro which doesn’t make my mood any better.

    • This kind of post makes me think your problem might be a little more internal than external.

  • Yeah, I don’t care for this post. A bit of anecdotal evidence does not constitute a “trend”. For every car that “floors it” when they see a pedestrian I’ve seen a pedestrian that intentionally takes as much time to cross a street as possible to hold up cars that are waiting to make right turns…

    But I do believe there are too many drivers/pedestrians/cyclists who either ignore the rules, don’t know the rules, or just aren’t really thinking about what they’re doing.

    Now if we’re just talking about taxicabs, then that’s a different story….

    • How do you know these people are intentionally taking as long as possible? Can you get inside their minds and know their intentions?

      • That’s sort of the point I was trying to make. I don’t think one can know that a pedestrian is intentionally slowing down any more than one can know if a car is intentionally speeding up (which seems to be what the letter writer is suggesting.)

        I get around on foot most of the time and witness my fair share of bad driving, but I don’t think there’s a trend of drivers trying to scare or hit pedestrians.

      • Yes, there are some people who intentionally slow down or take their time crossing (illegally) in front of cars. 9 times out of 10 they are some petty young thug trying to assert some token of dominance. It’s pretty damn pathetic and I usually chuckle at them smiling and make an “After you, sir!” gesture. Not the reaction they are looking for. Sometimes you’ll get a “What’re you lookin’ at, bitch?” in return. Sad.

    • People sharing their anecdotes in a public forum is a good way to build up the anecdotal evidence into something more solid. The discussion has to start somewhere.

  • over and over again, i’m ashamed of the drivers on this blog. if nothing else, it’s made me a much better driver and make sure to ALWAYS yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, regardless of the asshole behind me blaring his car horn.

    in general, some of these drivers seem to like grouping pedestrians and bicyclists into one pool of \people who slow me down\. well let me, a commuter, sum it up for you: YOU chose to live far from work, YOU chose to drive, YOU decided that public transit will not work for you and YOU can wait because YOUR time is not worth someone else’s safety, regardless of how they’re moving.

    • Eh, I don’t know if this is necessarily true all the time. You’ve just grouped all drivers into one pool. I live close to work and think public transit works great for me. There are rare occasions where I’ll drive, for no better reason than I feel like it. It’s the quickest way.

      And also, sometimes it’s downright dangerous to yield to a pedestrian who walks out into a crosswalk if the person behind you is not accustomed to stopping. The crosswalks are a nice idea but I’ve noticed no one (at least on 16th street by Kalorama) ever stops. We don’t have that culture in DC. So I’ve decided not to even use those anymore.

      • If you want to talk about what’s legal, though, it’s technically their responsibility to leave enough room to stop. What if some kids ran into the street instead? Part of being a good driver (or biker or pedestrian) is being as prepared as possible for unexpected changes.

        That being said, I just think that people are always going to balance between what is legal, what is safe, and what is convenient. Everyone gets mad at other people on the road–drivers get mad at drivers and bikers get mad at bikers as well. If you think everyone else is being crazy and you’re the only one doing a good job on the road, well…

        • Technically, yes. The car behind you would be following too closely and at fault. And if a pedestrian were in the crosswalk against the light, technically there would be contributory negligence on his part if he were hit. Still, it’s the guy driving the car in the middle that has a bloody front end and a bashed-in back end. And technically, it’s not his fault, but I doubt he’d take much satisfaction in that.

  • I can’t believe the number of negative, aggressive generalisms made about drivers (as well as bikers and pedestrians). I am a driver. I am not evil. I am not out to get anyone. And god forbid I live in MD or VA (then I’m guilty by default). I try to be cautious, give the right of way, not stop in crosswalks, keep distance. I know that being overly vicious will not get me to my destination any faster. I do witness a lot of drivers who do crazy stupid things around pedestrians and cyclists. But I also see pedestrians and cyclists who make bad choices. I have to imagine that everyone pointing fingers here should look to themselves first.

    • seconded! (particularly the last sentence)

    • There’s almost a certain inverse correlation between anti-MD/anti-VA sentiment and the length of time the individual has lived in DC.

      I.e. – those fresh off the boat from missouri are most likely to some how view residents of these 2 states negatively.

      • I’ve been here 10 years and I think NOVA is god forsaken country.

        When do these overwhelming feelings of negativity end, professor?

        • Exactly, you’re a transplant.

          • I believe my loathing of Crystal City will continue for some time. Perhaps once I finally mount that Howitzer on my roof and begin shelling Ballston, my negative feelings will subside. Or perhaps after 20 years here, I’ll decide I really do want to live closer to the Cheesecake Factory, professor.

        • forsaken implies i ever gave an adam dropping about that place.

        • You can keep Shirlington, too.

      • I agree. The only thing that people who read this blog can all agree upon is that people from MD and VA are to blame. For everything. And they should go back where they came from. It’s getting old.

    • I’ll remember that as I’m being mowed down by people with out of state plates. It’s a generalization, but not a bad one, that people can’t really deal with all the diagonals and stuff. I’d say 85% of the time that a driver is doing something wrong, when they pass me it’s an out of state plate. And the MD and VA drivers just seem super impatient and stressed. I would be too if I had to deal with driving in DC.

      • Well put. I’d add it’s hardly anecdotal when much of this discussion has been about areas very close to 16th Street. It’s hard to dispute who the poor drivers are when they’re all headed to Maryland and mostly treating the street like a four lane highway.

  • this exact same thing happened to me this weekend. A car was on N st, crossing 15th street, and when he saw myself and my girlfriend in the crosswalk, he hit the gas and came speeding towards us. I screamed at the car and punched the passenger side door as he slipped about an inch past my heel. He sped off instead of staying to deal with my verbal wrath.

  • It’s DEFINITELY bad in the Dupont/Logan area. I absolutely loathe all the drivers who don’t follow the Dupont Circle lane directions. If the lane requires you to exit the circle, and you want to keep going around the circle, that is just TOO EFFIN BAD. Follow the rules, drivers. I can’t tell you how many times I have been walking in a crosswalk with a walk sign, either into or out of Dupont Circle, and had drivers blatantly ignore the lanes and swerve across the crosswalk, almost hitting me.

    Yes, all sorts of people make infractions, be they pedestrians or drivers, but an aggressive and rule-breaking driver is a much bigger threat to public safety. If you’re mad about a pedestrian or two misbehaving, the answer is NOT to aggressively take it out on all other pedestrians.

    • +1. 2,000 pounds of metal at 45 mph is a lot more dangerous than 250 pounds of me at 4 mph.

    • Good point. I have noticed that a lot of drivers don’t understand the concept of missing their turn. You missed it. End of story. Turn around or work around it. Instead drivers insist that they cross however many lanes of traffic, block however many cars, and endanger us all simply because they cannot fathom missing their turn.

  • Got honked at by a cab driver while crossing on my walk light on 18th St. a few days ago. I crossed with the light and made it across just before it changed but he honked at me anyway. He had a no right turn sign and didn’t even stand to gain anything for his aggression.

    I made sure he understood in no uncertain terms what an asshole he was.

  • Before everyone goes off knee bumping cars, my friend was dragged to death last week in Chicago after arguing with a cabbie. He dragged my friend, who still had his head in the window, 50 yards then ran over his legs and left him for dead. There’s a $20k reward raised by his friends, but the cab driver has still not been found because he wasn’t on a flag call.

    Right or wrong, being in a car gives people a certain amount of physical power. All you aggressive bikers and walkers out there might be right on the rules, but you could also be dead on the pavement like my friend.

    Obviously this is an extreme case, but all of you have seen *that* driver out on the roads (or you’ve been in his cab) so don’t think your holier than thou force shield is going to protect you from a wacko. And it’s always the a-hole driver that’s willing to escalate things.

    • I’m very sorry and I hope they find that asshole.

      It is tempting to throw things, but that person may just back into you.

  • I was nearly hit today crossing in a crosswalk on 16th with the wife and baby.

    People saw us coming and sped up thinking they could clear the intersection before we walked to their lane. Very scary.

    And one guy screamed at us and waved his arms like crazy when we stood in his lane waiting for cars in the next one to slow or clear so we could pass. Were we supposed to run into speeding traffic so he could get a clear lane and not slow down?

    It is especially difficult to cross 16th above Columbia Heights during rush hour. The traffic only seems to slow or have gaps for the periodic lights, but otherwise drivers treat 16th like a highway and do not seem mentally prepared to deal with pedestrians as they might be downtown.

    We try to be very careful and stick to the crosswalks. We are not the bums moseying into mid-lane traffic between sips from a paper bag you see downtown. But despite our attempts to follow the rules, people are not slowing for pedestrians or acknowledging pedestrian right of way, even for a couple seconds.

    Maybe they should just take the crosswalks off of 16th where there are no traffic lights – that would probably conform better with drivers’ expectations in those areas. It would probably also be safer for pedestrians than vainly and dangerously trying to cross in a crosswalk thinking drivers will stop.

    • I was with you until the end. No, they shouldn’t remove the crosswalks. The cops need to start enforcement. I would have no problem with a 3rd district cop parked at 16th and Kalorama at rush hour or any other time pulling people over. The problem is not the system, it’s the people in charge of implementing the system who have grown complacent and accustomed to not doing their jobs.

      • I’m just worried people aren’t going to change their ways and if pedestrians continue to risk the odds, the odds will eventually catch up with them.

  • I agree with Andy and Marion Barry

  • I have noticed one common theme when I am driving my car or walking through DC – I am always right and the others are always wrong!

    From reading some of these comments, it looks like I am not the only person to reach this conclusion

  • Wow. Funny on how the conversation always turns cars vs. bikes. Tho, I think it’s generated some key points. Back to the original story of Dupont and cars speeding —

    Maybe you’re familiar with this:

    But I just found it the other day. It’s worth a shot. You could probably just cut/paste your write-up.

    Good luck!

  • A few weeks ago on 14th Street near N st., during the evening rush hour I saw a driver double park her car, get out while leaving her car running, and physically attack a pedestrian for some type of right-of-way issue that occurred between the two at the previous intersection. The driver pushed the pedestrian around, got up in her face and followed her while screaming. Then the driver got back into her car but evidently thought of another come-back because a little further down the road, she illegally stopped again, & exited her car just so she could go back and bully the pedestrian some more. There weren’t any police nearby and the whole incident happened too quickly to call the police about.

  • I once saw two bicyclists jousting each other while riding bikes.

    I saw two pedestrians fighting each other.

    I saw a pedestrian break into a car and take stuff.

    I saw a car make an illegal u turn in the middle of an intersection.

    I saw…

    I saw…

    I saw…

  • (Not the J from above; this is my first post here)

    This post struck a chord because for the first time in several months I drove through Logan Circle the other night (I only use my car about twice a week, generally speaking). This is an anecdote, it’s not a substitute for data. But I was appalled at pedestrian & cyclist behavior that night. I pulled up to a red light to enter the circle. A cyclist alongside me blew through the light; he was required to stop as well.

    On my return trip, there were three cars in a row. A pedestrian was standing in the street just past the sidewalk, presumably waiting for his Don’t Walk orange light to change; this wasn’t happening as the cars had a green (turn) light. After the first car went through, he stepped back. After I, the second car, went through, he stepped immediately back INTO the intersection, despite a the third car being still right behind me. That car had to weave *significantly* into the other lane in other to avoid him.

    So I haven’t walked through Logan Circle in some time, but anecdotally, the pedestrians and cyclists are rather aggressive there.

  • Wow, this is shocking. I could have written that original post, because similar things happen to me all the time. Just last week, I crossed 23rd st, south of P, and a driver turned right on red and would have hit me if I hadn’t seen him coming. He then rolled down the window and cussed me out for walking while holding a coffee — because apparently, that means I can’t see where I’m going?!

    I’m not saying all drivers are evil. But as a regular pedestrian who makes it a point to follow crosswalks and lights, I have seen a significant increase in rage and acting out towards pedestrians, and I am increasingly fearful for my safety.

  • I think it’s funny that the pro-driver article from last week frames a double standard in the title itself. Umm…maybe the problem is the “speeding” traffic? Why do cars always get a free pass on their illegal behavior when pedestrians are maligned for theirs? Come on, be honest – ALL drivers will do something illegal during a trip: speeding, failing to signal, running red light, rolling stop. Why does a pedestrian get so much more sh*t for it?

    When I lived in New England, I once had a cop wave me by to jaywalk. I’m not encouraging that extreme, but what’s wrong with cars ACTUALLY stopping when they’re supposed to? I almost got run over in a crosswalk in Arlington when crossing a one-lane street. A large SUV stopped for me, but a speedy sports car hit the gas to pass him on the right using the empty parallel parking lanes to get around. He slammed on the brakes when he saw me, with his car fully in the middle of the crosswalk. Then he had the audacity to flip ME the bird as he drove past.

    I kind of wish we had an enforcement militia with scouts stationed near a commonly used crosswalk. When a driver breaks the law, they could use a two-way radio to a make-shift uniformed person at the next stoplight. That (beefy, male) person could issue a “ticket” to the offending driver, with a “fine” of ~$25, but “to be made payable” to a local charity or hospital. That’d be slick.

    captcha: as unbiased

  • Look, I’m not pro bike or pro car. Walking is great, biking is great, and driving is inevitable for some trips. But this disturbing incident recently happened to me, and it changed my thinking ever so slightly…When stopped at a light, waiting to turn left, a man on a bike rolled right through the red light and into the back of my car. I wasn’t even moving, much less breaking the law in anyway. (And just to answer the questions, no, I wasn’t anywhere near the crosswalk.) If another car had done that, and damaged my car in any way, I would have been able to stop, and at least try to get his insurance information. But in this instance, the law-breaking biker dusted himself off and sped away before I could even so much ask him if he was okay or assess the scratches and dents on my car. Ever since that happened, I’ve been a lot more sensitive around that intersection, and even when walking, I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a bike rider actually follow the traffic laws there. Both trends of aggression (whether by drivers who won’t share the road or bikers/pedestrians who feel they don’t have to follow the rules) are pretty disturbing.

  • The bottom line is drivers are the minority in the city. The Majority of people in just about any city trasport themselves in some otherway. Which usually involves walking at some point. Meaning pedestrians have the right of way over cars because it is a more effeciant way of moving people. Which is why it happens that pedestrians may take some liberties. It’s always been that way. The reason there are more angry drivers on this blog and in this city lately, is that they aren’t from urban environments. They move here or commute here and expect to be able to breeze down 14th street as easily as they would rockville pike or route 29 or whatever road from whatever small town they came from. The answer is to learn to adjust your driving expectations when you come into the city.

  • I’d also like to point out that cyclists endanger pededtrians when they blow through red lights. A wreck wouldn’t have the same fatal consequences as a car, but broken limbs is not out of the realm of possibility. Basically everything with wheels needs to stop at red lights and obey the traffic laws.

    • Funny I read in the news all the time about drivers killing people and not obeying the laws but rarely. and by rarely I mean near never, hear about a cyclist doing so. Yet when ever this topics comes up its all about the Cyclists and their breaking the laws and putting people in peril. Odd that the stats never seem to support the BS claims of the angry drivers.

  • I live up in Frederick, MD, recently moved after spending about a year in DC. I consider DC safer to bike in than this town. I’ve actually found that my experiences with DC drivers were much more respectable that the idiot drivers in this town.

  • On the rare occasion I drive in this city, the pedestrians frustrate me, and when I walk, I can’t stand the drivers. It comes down to people thinking the world revolves around them at a given moment. I certainly think that, no matter what mode of transportation I’m on! When on the bus, I think people should be thankful I’m not taking up space in a car, when I’m trailing a bus, I curse how it seems to own the road. No win.

  • I would note that most cyclists are also drivers, whereas few drivers are also cyclists.

  • Oooh – during the airing of greivances, I also forgot one other pet peeve. I hate when it’s raining/snowing/sleeting/generally cold and drivers, from the comfort of their cars, insist on cutting you off to make their right on red.

    Wow, this threat was more cathartic than I thought. Ha!

  • This thread seemed like a Festivus celebration.

  • People in DC do have a mindset of imperial license. Bikers, drivers, walkers. I can do what I want, when I want, how I want. It is endemic.

    Ugly, metalic, soon to rust overpasses at every other corner are the only answer. The huge ones crossing Dupont/Logan circles will be rad. Can’t wait. Heard it’s in the budget. Council to vote soon.

  • I love how this thread devolves into angry drivers bitching about pedestrians breaking the law.

    First off, the original poster made it clear s/he was obeying traffic laws, so drop your red herring argument. Second, how about recognizing that there is a person behind this note who is fearful for his/her life.

    How about some respect for a serious situation?

    • I don’t believe the original poster AT ALL.

      About 10 years ago I was driving, stopped at a stop sign and then proceeded to make a left turn into the intersection when a delivery truck sped down the street. Two pedestrians came up and SMACKED my trunk and yelled at me to get my car out of their crosswalk. true story. They yelled and complained about cars disobeying traffic laws.

      From then on I know most pedestrians lie. I stopped listening AND I stopped walking.

      • Yes, the fact that two pedestrians hit your truck definitely conclusively demonstrates that “most pedestrians lie.” I was within about an inch of being hit by a car while in a crosswalk this morning (at a four-way stop, so no light). I guess most drivers lie. Time to stop listening to them.

  • I drove home from work today and counted 5 people who walked directly in front of my car, forcing me to stop while already in the intersection. Were they in crosswalks- yes. Was the light in my favor- yes. 5 different times I had a green and they did not. My wife and I counted together.

    ’nuff said.

    Many pedestrians cross against the lights or in the middle of the block but in the Mt Pleasant immigrant community it’s an endemic problem.

    • You must stop for pedestrians on Mt. Pleasant street. It’s the law. Someone drove over the helpful little signs that used to be in the middle of the road. In fact this is the law in all of DC, but MtP folks take it seriously.

      If you want to get somewhere quickly, don’t use Mt. Pleasant street.

  • Why would the original poster lie?

  • I’m a little late to the game, but I definitely agree with the original poster. I live in the Dupont area, and I think a lot of the problem has to do with all of the stop signs–not as much the intersections with traffic lights. So many cars don’t come to a complete stop at stop signs–as both a driver and a pedestrian I have almost been hit or gotten into an accident because of this.

    Prime examples can be seen at the intersections of 17th and S streets as well as S and New Hampshire. Rarely do cars fully stop, and there are many near collisions, as well as cars going through the stop sign when pedestrians are still in the cross walk.

  • a couple of weeks ago, a friend was mowed down by a taxi downtown. she was walking in the crosswalk, proceeding with the light, and he just came blowing through the intersection and sent her flying. miraculously, she was NOT hurt, but she was very VERY angry. the ambulance driver told her, “ma’am, this happens ALL THE TIME.”

    • She should always look both ways and proceed with caution unless she is a super hero. I don’t trust drivers. I enter a crosswalk with caution and get quickly through it. Too many people just leisurely walk through crosswalks— sometimes with headphones on, sometimes talking on the phone, sometimes talking to a friend or just walking while they stroll through an intersection like it’s a walk through a park. It’s not. It’s a street. And I don’t rely on signals to protect me.

  • How would bikers feel if pedestrians start walking slowly in front of them in a bike lane?

    That is just how car drivers feel when there are bikers in front of us slowing down the traffic on 16th street going downtown.

    You may think its your right to ride a bike on the road, and i believe you that it is. But it is morally wrong to make the lives of hundreds of other people by creating a gridlock 8 miles down all the way from U St. till Silver Spring.

    • take the red line to fort totten and then the yellow/green to u st.

      problem solved!

    • That actually happens all the time – people constantly walk, jog, and use wheelchairs, Segways and scooters (yeah, that guy who commutes down 14th on a razor scooter, I’m looking at you) in the bike lanes. You just PASS THEM, like you would do in a car. Not a valid excuse for unloading a bunch of road rage on someone.

      Sheesh. If someone is driving slowly in front of you, just
      go around them. Maybe I got spoiled learning to drive in the South, where you constantly pass other vehicles (lots of jalopies and farm equipment on two-lane roads!).

  • It’s official, DC drivers suck. So let’s lay off the cyclists and pedestrians as the source of the problem.

  • This seemed incredibly relevant to this discussion.

    Can you imagine how it went down? Dudes sauntering across the street, get told to move, tell cops to eff off, they can do what they want, cops knock them over as the motorcade is about to come through. Messed with the wrong folks. . .

    Captcha: purposes steps

  • I think we need to completely reorient the way we think about transit.

    What if private automobiles were the lowest – not the highest – item on the totem pole?

    What if private automobiles had to yield to pedestrians, bikes, and city buses at all times – regardless of any inconvenience it might cause them?

    Car culture is deadly; 45,000 auto deaths a year is unacceptable, to say nothing of the massive death that will be caused by climate change, in part due to Americans’ addiction to automobiles. Automobiles breed suburbs, which are not only an environmental affront and a massive waste of resources and land, but are also a moral affront as they break down communities and encourage people to abandon their responsibilities as citizens and leave the cities in order to live selfish and greedy lives in the suburbs.

    We need policies that discourage private automobile traffic and promote responsible, pro-social modes of transit like walking, biking, and public transportation – including tolls on all roads, an end to all free parking everywhere, roads on which private automobiles are the lowest priority, and a punitive gasoline tax.

    • I’m so ashamed of my immigrant father who came here with $200 in his pocket, struggled his ass off to make a life for himself, and then had the audacity to raise me in a small, safe suburban neighborhood with good free public schools. I mean, honestly, how dare he teach me to live such a “selfish and greedy life”?!?!

      I mean, never mind that he gives back to the community whenever he can. And never mind that he’s super-environmentally conscious (growing up in a horribly dirty and overpopulated Manila will do that to you) and taught me to be that way as well. And never mind that I moved to the city as soon as I was old enough to be independent, or that I think the metro and the bus system are both freaking awesome, or that riding a bike and walking is good for your health, your soul, and the environment.

      All that really matters is that he bought into all those Norman Rockwell paintings. And that he wanted a small plot of land to call his own. So, he must be an incredibly selfish, greedy horrible person. And because he raised me there, I must be one too.

      Wow, James. Just…wow. Way to generalize. Why don’t you just tell me that since I’m Asian, I’m also automatically awesome at math and have squinty eyes?

      • I don’t think you need to worry about transit. You can just ride your issues.

        • The only issues I have on this blog, gardyloo, are with people who instead of contributing to the discussion in a a meaningful way, choose to mock, deride, or simply troll the comments looking for snarky things to post in reply to others.

          I realize that the Internet gives people the anonymity to be as jerky as they want, but I try to respect strangers and their opinions until they choose to insult other people.

  • How about we just all stick to the rule of “watch your ass?” The larger entity will usually win. Not fair, but that’s how it is. Yes there are rules, and it would be cheeky if everyone followed them. But they don’t. We’ll all break them if we think we can get away with it. So instead of pissing and moaning about how everyone is irresponsible EXCEPT YOU, how about you just watch your ass? Not because it’s necessarily fair, but out of self-preservation?

    • I don’t break the rules. But I don’t complain. I expect one out of three people to be a solipsistic asshole and am rarely disappointed.

  • lordscarlet

    I love how “drivers” see nothing wrong with generalizing cyclists and pedestrians, but heaven forbid anyone generalize drivers and they get all up in arms.

  • I live in DC. I drive, walk, and bike. I was raised in the suburbs where we were taught to look both ways before crossing the street.

    It amazes me how many “walkers” —wearing headphones, talking on a cell phone or just gabbing with a companion—just walk into a crosswalk w/out looking both ways or to even have the courtesy to wait just a few moments for a very large object (an auto) to complete a turn before proceeding.

    Or the “walkers” that leisurely stroll through the crosswalk against the light and look at drivers like they are some type of royalty daring them to proceed.

    Yes–pedestrians have the right of way in most cases. But there’s not going to be too much of an argument when you are seriously injured or killed for not paying more attention or moving out of the way of an oncoming car… acting like some force field is going to protect you from a distracted driver.

    There would be less aggression and anger by drivers towards walkers and bikers if they would not act like they are “entitled” to use the streets and crosswalks as they see fit.

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