How Was Your Bike to Work Day? (Props to the Cops Vol. 9)

Photo by PoPville flickr user katiecampbell

I think this is an awesome day and there have been reports of huge participation today. Unfortunately a reader sends in a rough experience:

“Dear PoP,

This morning I had my first assault from a car. I was at the front of a line of traffic at the red light at the end of Rhode Island where it hits Connecticut. When the light turned green, I went straight onto M St with the rest of the traffic in the middle of the right lane. A white van pulled up behind me, almost clipped my back tire, and laid on the horn. The van then pulled along side of me and tried to swerve into my lane. Then the van slowed up, continued honking, and a woman in the passenger seat threw a can of something at me and hit me in my leg. The van then swerved around me, tried to cut me off again, and then turned up 20th street. I saw a cop on the next block and reported the incident with the license plates. The officer wrote it up as assault. Just thought you might want to remind PoPville to always be wary of cars on the road.”

I think it’s great the officer wrote it up as an assault but I hope everyone else who rode to work today had a more pleasant experience.

Anyone ride in with a caravan or check out a pit stop? I’d love to hear about some good experiences as well.

214 Comment

  • Being a big fan of the bicycle culture in the Netherlands and other parts of the world, it’s great to see DC become more of a bike friendly city. As such, it is unfortunate that these kind of problems occur.

    At the same time, however, there are many cyclists in DC that bring this on themselves and cause various disruptions. If riding on a road, then follow the rules of the road, i.e., do not blow through red lights expecting cars to avoid you, do not cut around all the cars waiting at a light to get in front and then go slow causing the car in the front to have to go slow, and do not ride on sidewalks almost running into pedestrians, especically when there is a designated bike path (just has happened yesterday on 15th street).

    • I’m a bikerider who bikes to work through DC everyday. Although I don’t think there is any excuse for assaulting anyone, I agree with the point of this comment. Not a day goes by that I don’t witness other cyclists blowing through stop signs and redlights as though they don’t apply.

      What’s wrong with you dumb f*cks?! If you’re too stupid to read a sign, you’re too stupid to be on a bike. Obey the rules and stop giving the rest of us a bad reputation!

      • While I can’t say that I follow traffic laws 100% of the time (nor could anyone who drives a car), I did absolutely nothing illegal during this incident. The driver expressed (quite colorfully) that I shouldn’t be allowed on the street.

        • This sucks. Something VERY similar happened to me last night on the way home. After not looking before changing lanes and almost hitting me, the driver then proceeded to tell me he was going to kill me (we were stopped at a light). He then tried, almost succeeding as he kept swerving into my lane (I was riding next to a line of parked cars) until I got to a point where I could safely pull off the road and report him to the police.

          It’s scary out there sometimes. I was happy that on my morning ride in today, though, cars seemed much more aware of cyclists than usual, and I thank Bike to Work Day for that. Didn’t formally participate since I bike every day, but it was nice to feel a bit of reprieve from the car-driving traffic.

        • This has happened to me three times, and as a result I’ve stopped biking to work – which I used to do daily. The metro blows, but the level of red blinding rage that I experience when I even think about these events is enough to keep me off the streets. I don’t feel like getting myself killed trying to U-lock some douchebag’s window.

        • Don’t worry, OP. There will always be fuckwits who can’t wait to blame the victim. Get sexually assaulted at a bar? Your fault–after all, some women dress slutty.

          It’s morally reprehensible, but it’s a very common human reaction.

      • agree with anon.

      • All kinds of people jaywalk without impeding traffic and nobody seems to have a problem with it. It’s accepted that people will jaywalk when there’s no traffic and people do so safely all the time.

        If traffic is clear and you can ride through an intersection safely against the light, I don’t understand why people shouldn’t, other than some moral imperative to always follow “the rules.”

        I have little sympathy for people who are unsafe, but it’s not as black and white as you make it out to be. Saying a bike should follow the same exact rules as a car is just foolish – bikes are smaller, more maneuverable, the operator has more visibility, etc.

        • If you want to act/be treated as a pedestrian, then stay on the sidewalks. If you want to ride on the roads, follow the rules of the road. It’s not up to you to choose which set of rules to follow when it suits you.

          Also, you seem to draw a lot of favorable comparisons bike-to-car, but you neglect to mention that in a bike vs. car collision, the bike loses every time, and you’re far more exposed. So unless your greater visibility and maneuverability are infallible, when you’re on the roads, follow the rules, the same way you expect the cars to.

          But hey … cool, counter-culturish way to deride “the rules.”

          • It’s not up to you to choose which set of rules to follow when it suits you.

            Of course, even more relevant, *you* don’t get to decide who gets to use the roads, or what conditions they must operate. I suspect that’s what bugs you, but there it is.

            You–as a driver–have no more a right to impose conditions on who gets to operate a legal vehicle (e.g. bicycle or car) on the road than I get to dictate which pedestrians get to use the sidewalk.

            So save your finger-wagging and tut-tutting.

          • Nice try, Dr. P, but I bike and drive enough that I’m happy to report that sharing the road with either vehicle is not what bugs me. What bugs me is when people who have a right to use the road abuse it by selectively ignoring the rules that attach to its use. For me, the name of the game is predictability for everybody involved, which is minimized if guys are out there operating on rationales as weak as “my sight and maneuverability are great enough that I don’t need to follow the rules today.” One miss on that logic = one mess on that logic. Splat.

            Also, “the more relevant question”? Relevant to what? Tut-tut, Doc.

        • There are always going to be no-brainers — middle of the night with absolutely no cars around, etc. But that’s sort of the tree falling in the forest thing. If there are no drivers around to observe the behavior, there’s no one to complain so that isn’t really what ticks people off.

          Unfortunately many people (if not most) are terrible judges of what’s safe. A cyclist’s “I had plenty of room to run that light” is often a driver’s “Holy crap, I almost hit that guy.” The truth is probably in the middle, but I don’t trust your average person to be the arbiter here. This is why we have traffic laws in the first place.

        • If you are riding in the street with cars, follow the same rules a car would. No one will treat you any different because you’re on a bike. That’s playing with fire. You wouldn’t run a red light in a car just because the intersection is clear, so what makes you think you should be able to do so on a bike? that’s reckless.

          • “No one will treat you any different because you’re on a bike”

            Aye, but there’s the rub. As every cyclist in this thread will attest, drivers DO treat you different because you are on a bike, even if you are obeying ALL of the rules of the road which include lane splitting and taking the whole lane if you so choose.

            There’s no winning as a biker:

            – If you follow all of the rules: “That f*cking biker is in my lane slowing me down. Don’t you know that the roads are for cars?! Get out of my way, !”

            – If you break some of the rules like proceeding through red intersections when the coast is clear when that also means you are not holding traffic up much behind you, it’s: “Did you see that f*cking biker?! He totally ran that red! Asshole. I’m going to catch up to him, swerve in front to make him slow down. Show you who’s boss!!”

            (Scenarios slightly exaggerated for effect. But only slightly).

            You can see why people get defensive over this shit: cyclists’ lives are LITERALLY ON THE LINE when confronted with unreasonable drivers. That it would probably take an actual accident with resultant fines and/or jail time to change some drivers’ behavior is really scary.

            Now, please proceed to post the behind-the-windshield response, because it is entirely valid when it comes to asshole bikers. The street runs both ways (see what I did there?!?)

    • I’m with yo up until this:

      “do not cut around all the cars waiting at a light to get in front and then go slow causing the car in the front to have to go slow”

      It’s called lane splitting and it’s perfectly legal for cyclists in DC (in fact it’s about he only *legal* advantage that bikes have and it’s what mostly makes cycling faster than driving during rush hour downtown)

      You have every right to complain about cyclicts breaking the law, but on the other hand you can’t ignore the rights that they do have, one of which is operating with the lane rights of a motor vehicle when appropriate while *also* able to take empty space between vehicles.

      • False, bicyclists should not lane split to get ahead of traffic because angry road rage driver running over them negates the argument. Don’t be a doorknob.

        • You didn’t pass Logic 101 in school, did you? Please try again. Or at least read up on cause and effect, it’s a fairly simple concept to grasp.

        • Take a deep breath, save your tantrum, and drive like an adult. It’s legal, I’m going to do it. And frankly, worrying that Mr Anger Management is going to run me over because he’s lost his shit is the last thing I need to worry about. If he’s angry, he sees me, so statistics say I’m safe.

          It’s the douchebag texting while driving 20 mph over the speed limit I have to worry about.

      • Did not know that. Although I find it annoying as a driver, it is correct (and in contrast to many other states). Here’s the DC reg (Title 18, Chapt. 12):


        (a) A person operating a bicycle may overtake and pass another vehicle only under conditions which permit the movement to be made with safety.

        (b) A person operating a bicycle may overtake and pass other vehicles on the left or right side, staying in the same lane as the overtaken vehicle, or changing to a different lane, or riding off the roadway, as necessary to
        pass with safety.

        (c) If a lane is partially occupied by vehicles that are stopped, standing, or parked in that lane, a person operating a bicycle may ride in that or in the next adjacent lane used by vehicles proceedings in the samedirection.

      • It’s also MUCH SAFER for cyclists to be in front of traffic at an intersection. Maybe not safer to get there, always, but if you can, you should.

        This rule not only gives cyclists a speed advantage, but one of safety as it’s easier to see you when you’re up in the front of the line, and you’re less likely to be turned into by cars going to the left or right (or straight when you’re turning).

        • Yes, I agree with this — an in particular, on that stretch of M street and crossing that intersection, it’s imperative to be at the front of the line to stay safe. Going down that stretch of M st, you also need to take the lane in order to keep from getting doored or right-hooked at the intersections. And the thing is — traffic is usually so slow there anyway that the bike doesn’t slow anyone down.

          There just seems to be something about that area of downtown (the stretch of Connecticut from M to the circle) that makes drivers into complete raging assholes.

          • If you had to drive that gridlock from 13th to M on RI Ave day after day after day wouldn’t you become a raging asshole, too? Biking isn’t only good for your physical well being it’s also pretty good for your mental health. Honestly, if I had a commute that had me driving to work in that area I would find a garage or unzoned parking a mile or two away and walk, bus, or bikeshare the rest of the way in. With the exception of the bus I’d probably get there more quickly most mornings and would be much less stressed. Impotent rage just builds and builds and builds.

          • I walk to work in that area, and I have to agree that right around Connecticut, the drivers get pretty scary. On numerous occasions, I’ve seen drivers speed through the red light on Connecticut and barely miss pedestrians and cyclists who have the right of way. The corner of M and 19th is also pretty bad, where pedestrians have the right of way to cross 19th as two lanes turn left to head south. They really should have the lights alternate with crosswalks there, cause I’ve seen 2 pedestrians (1 an intern at my organization, poor kid) get knocked over by cars when they were crossing in the crosswalk.

          • YES. I work right around that area and it is awful, particularly in the morning as random drivers decide to stop on the curb to let people in and out, and other cars then angrily swing around them, switch lanes without signaling when going through the awkward Connecticut intersection and who knows what other craziness.

    • Be careful what you wish for.

      I am a cyclist who on occasion will lane split (legal, as noted below) and run a red light (not so legal).

      When I contrast my experiences with those of my partner, who as a cyclist, follows traffic laws 100%, I conclude that most drivers don’t hate the fact that bicyclists break laws. They hate cyclists because they are on the road, slowing cars down.

      My goal on a bike is to get to work quickly, safely, and without getting killed. I also do my best to be as little burden to cars as possible… I don’t want to piss off a car, because they can kill me. Cars may resent me because I am moving through the city faster than they are, but I am not slowing them down.

      My partner’s goal is to obey the law, set a good example to other cyclists, and show car drivers that not all bicyclists are assholes. She is routinely met by cat calls, honking horns, people yelling from their windows, and aggressive maneuvering. Many of these experiences have been from not lane splitting, but queuing up between cars at a red light, and then not accelerating fast enough when the light turns green. Or waiting at a red light in the right lane, and not moving so an impatient driver can turn right before the green light.

      There are legitimate gripes with cyclists, but for those of us not surrounded with thousands of pounds of steel, it is really lose-lose.

      • “I conclude that most drivers don’t hate the fact that bicyclists break laws. They hate cyclists because they are on the road, slowing cars down.”

        I’m a cyclist and a driver. I hate it when cyclists ride through red lights and stop signs. Otherwise, I’m fine with sharing the road with bikes while I’m driving.

        • If more drivers were also cyclists, the world would be a much better place.

        • Do you hate it when pedestrians cross the street against the light when there’s no traffic? Why shouldn’t the same apply to cyclists?

          • No, not when there’s no traffic. But when I’m driving there is traffic, and that’s when I see cyclists riding through stop signs and red lights.

            I once saw two Lance Armstrong wannabes blow through two stop signs then turn left through a red light on a fairly busy intersection. They were treating the roads like their own personal speed track.

      • I usually make eye contact with drivers, and give a little wave to indicate my intentions.

        I think the trick is to let drivers know that you’re aware of them, and that if you can, you’ll get out of their way.

        I run through stop signs and red lights (only when it’s clear), and my drivers smile and wave me on. I’ve just got it like that. Thank you nods and waves go a long way.

      • As a daily biker and occasional driver, I disagree.

        No one is saying that bikers have to behave EXACTLY the same as drivers. But the extreme lengths many bikers have gone in violating commonsense rules — blowing through stop signs when a car is waiting its turn — contributes to the rage. It’s absurd to argue that drivers prefer that bikers not obey road rules, lest they hold up traffic. If your partner is getting constant anger directed at her, she should consider that she may be the problem. Bike maneuverability, which allows us to move to the front of a line, also means that we have to use that maneuverability to get out of the way of cars from time to time. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s one of those people who ride down the center of the right lane, rather than the edge of it.

        • This comment was meant for Dan.

          • She is law abiding, not stupid. We both obviously prefer drivers to pass us than be slowly stalked by drivers unable to drive faster than we are riding.


            “It’s absurd to argue that drivers prefer that bikers not obey road rules, lest they hold up traffic.”

            I didn’t say it was one or the other. I said drivers hate bikers because they disobey traffic laws, AND because they slow up traffic (when obeying traffic laws). Thus the “lose-lose” declaration.

            If tomorrow, every single bicyclist stopped at every red light and stop sign, rode on the right side of the lane, and behaved like a vehicle, drivers would still honk, yell, or otherwise harass them.

        • Yes, I agree. It’s rude to snake a car’s right of way at a stop sign, and the justification that the bike needs to “keep momentum” is no excuse.

      • When I contrast my experiences with those of my partner, who as a cyclist, follows traffic laws 100%, I conclude that most drivers don’t hate the fact that bicyclists break laws. They hate cyclists because they are on the road, slowing cars down.

        Truer words were never spoken. They resent your existence. The fact that you “ran a red light!” is just a fig-leaf for that resentment. This is nowhere more obvious than when someone starts in on a rant about cyclists’ scofflaw behavior with “This morning I saw a cyclist, and he WASN’T EVEN WEARING A HELMET!!!”

        These folks need years of therapy before they should be allowed within 30 feet of a driver’s license.

        • drivers don’t resent cyclists. it’s really not that deep. the problem lies when said cyclist thinks red lights don’t apply to him… the cyclist can swerve out of the way, cars are not as flexible and infintely more dangerous. it is not my job as a driver to watch out for vigilante cyclists running through red lights to ensure they don’t get hit. that’s arrogant on the part of the cyclist. you run through a red light and you might get killed. done and done. it’s obnoxious.

          • Sorry, but yes, a good percentage of drivers absolutely resent cyclists. They resent cyclists’ freedom of movement. The resent the fact that they can generally jay-walk along with pedestrians. They resent the fact that they can share the “turn” with a car as it procedes through a stop sign. None of these impact the safety of other road users in any but the most bizarre and unusual circumstances; every one of them breeds an outsized sense of outrage on the part of drivers.

            It has nothing to do with “safety” and everything to do with jealousy, and the feeling that somewhere, someone might be getting something you don’t get.

          • doc,
            so they resent you for your freedoms, huh?

      • My boyfriend and I have found this to be true too.

  • Yikes-a. Sorry about your experience. I’ve got two questions:

    1. What does it mean that the officer wrote it up as an assault? Did he/she stop the van??

    2. What would happen if during the assault you pepper-sprayed the van? Although you may cause the van to drive out of control, would you be within your rights?

    • The officer took down the license plate number and called it in to dispatch. She said it was being reported as an assault and I could be called in up to a year later to testify in court.

    • Probably not. First, the assault appeared to be a one-time action and therefore using pepper spray would likely be seen as retribution, not self-defense. Second, the use of pepper spray in a situation like that could subject the person to reckless endangerment charges if the van were to hit other cars.

      That being said, it would certainly be satisfying and I think many people (cops included) would look the other way as long as there were no other cars on the road.

    • I’d worry you’ll do more harm to you than them with the pepper spray. First of all, you’re way more out in the elements, secondly, they could easily swerve into you.

  • Great Day indeed. Even more people running red lights and stop signs and being on the sidewalk.

    • Yes, cyclists should be more like car drivers, who never drive faster than the speed limit, run red lights, or roll through stop signs.

      • Stupid comment.

        How many bikers ever get tickets?

        • I have no idea. Who cares? Are you trying to claim that cars don’t routinely break the law, even though they occasionally get a ticket?

          • Are you trying to claim that bikers should make it their policy to break the rules of the road because they believe that cars do and get away with it? I see a lot more cars stopped at red lights and stop signs than I do bikers.

          • No, I’m saying that complaining about the scofflaw bicyclists in a city full of scofflaw drivers is ignoring the forest for the trees.

            Put it this way. Pick any stop sign in the city. For each car that comes to a complete stop, I’ll give you a dollar. For each car that doesn’t, you give me a dollar. We’ll reverse it for bikes: if they stop, you pay me, if they don’t I pay you. Who’s going to earn more money?

        • How many car drivers ever get tickets? I’ve never seen it happen.

          • where have you been? that’s how DC makes its money. tickets tickets tickets. get real.

          • Veronika: Parking tickets, sure, and enforcement cameras. Moving violations, I haven’t seen it in the six years I’ve lived here. Never seen anyone pulled over for running a light, despite light running being rampant, including in front of cops. Seen speeding tickets a issued (by a cop rather than a camera) maybe a couple of times. Blocking the box? Never. Ticketing for moving violations is not something MPD spends its time on.

            p.s. Dismissively saying “get real” is neither nice nor constructive to the conversation.

        • I’ve received a bike ticket before. It also showed up when I renewed my car insurance, and they laughed on the phone and dismissed it when quoting my premium (didn’t deduct points, though, which was good).

        • According to MPD-1D listserv, in our neighborhood they give equal numbers of tickets to pedestrians, bikers, and drivers. Which is, of course, a fucking travesty.

          It’s like saying the police assign equal resources to murderers, rapists, and litterbugs. So long as speeding is universal, and so long as distracted driving is practically universal, drivers should be given an order of magnitude more citations than pedestrians and cyclists.

  • Biking on the sidewalk should be punishable by death. Or perhaps a small fine.

    Seriously, I’ve almost gotten run over about 30 times by people riding through the middle of DuPont Circle.

    With the increase in bikers, the city should really consider having “no bike” zones–like DuPont Circle. I know they already have one downtown but it’s never followed and I’ve never seen the rules enforced.

    • DuPont should also be a no-car zone, IMO.

    • +1000
      if there very few or no peds on the sidewalk then you can ride on the sidewalk, otherwise WALK YOUR BIKE. if I had a quarter for everytime I saw a nitwit on the sidewalk of a street with a bike lane….grrrrrr

      also, I totally agree that we should pedestrianize Dupont Circle and turn the roundabout into a bike path. maybe after the rapture?

      • I for one plan on taking my bicycle with me to heaven. I am chaining it to my leg now for when the hand of God snatches me up tomorrow.

      • I routinely get buzzed by bikes on the sidewalk on 17th near L. My goal is to move left as quickly as possible once they are right behind me to force them to drive into the bushes or saplings. I wish I could turn around and clothesline them.

      • They are. Unfortunately, this law is not enforced AT ALL, and the bike cops are some of the worst culprits when it comes to breaking cycling laws. I’m a daily bike commuter who works in Farragut, and the cops around the WH are CONSTANTLY doing stupid/illegal shit like riding the wrong way down the street, running red lights in rush hour traffic, jumping the sidewalks, nearly hitting pedestrians, etc. I’m surprised I haven’t watched one of them get into an accident by now.

        Like a lot of other issues in DC, the laws are there, but they simply aren’t enforced. It’s frustrating to watch bike cops be such piss-poor role models for safe biking.

    • In most cities, it is illegal to ride on a sidewalk if you are older than 10-12 years. This is only true in PARTS of DC.

      You are absolutely correct — bikes should NOT be ridden on the sidewalk. It’s more dangerous for everyone involved.

      Cyclists should be riding around DuPont, much as it sucks. (Or avoiding it. Or banning cars? I could go for that…)

    • I too hate those who bike on the sidewalk with a fiery passion, but it’s legal in DC, except for the area between Mass Ave and the Mall.

      • why the hate?

        • Because sidewalks are for peds. Biking on the sidewalk is dangerous, both for the cyclist and peds, unless you’re riding at a walking pace. Cars coming out of driveways/alleys/garages don’t expect fast moving traffic on the sidewalk. Cars and bikes making right hand turns don’t expect fast moving sidewalk traffic. People walking out of buildings or walking down the street don’t expect fast moving traffic.

          Predictability and visibility are the keys to safe cycling, and you don’t have either on the sidewalk.

      • Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.

        To me, there is only one solution. We need an outright ban on bikes on the sidewalk combined with more bike lanes. Sure, someone’s commute from Falls Church to K Street might take a little longer, but this won’t cause me to lose any sleep at night.

        • me

          Just cause there are bike lanes, doesn’t mean the people use them. I walk by at least one biker per day using the sidewalk on 15th St (between P and W) when I walk back and forth to the gym, and there are bike lanes on 15th going both ways.

        • Increasing congestion will cost the local economy many millions of dollars. Eventually, it’ll cost billions. You have to think about all the delivery trucks that support DC, and how their costs would rise. Eventually, those costs would be passed on to you.

    • “With the increase in bikers, the city should really consider having “no bike” zones–like DuPont Circle. ”

      So as more people bike, we should limit where they can bike? Yea… that makes sense. How about… as the demand grows, let’s increase where they can bike?

      I agree with you that people shouldn’t be biking on Connective Ave/Dupont Circle sidewalks, cause they are too narrow. However, regarding comments about the sidewalks downtown…

      I follow road rules pretty religiously, but I also bike onto the sidewalk. Why? Cause I have a bus barrelling down on me as I hug the far right edge of the far right lane, and the sidewalk is the safest place to be. Keep in mind that the sidewalk is about 2 or 3 yards wide and there is often only one or two people on it. It’s stupid to require a biker to ride down the road between a bus and dumptruck or walk with the bike for many blocks down a nearly-deserted, extremely-wide sidewalk.

      • If you’re nearly getting sideswiped by buses on your commute, you may want to either take the lane, or seek out a safer route.

        Just because Dupont/16th Street/insert congested major road here exists doesn’t mean it’s safe for bikers. Just saying.

        • If you can find a path from Bloomingdale to Foggy Bottom that isn’t ridiculously out of the way and involves no congested streets that runs buses or other large vehicles, I’m open. Regarding taking the lane, please note all the comments about road rage directed at cyclists from drivers.

          • Which part of Bloomingdale? R St -> 21st, south to I or something will get you within a couple of blocks probably. R St is bike lane all the way, 21st is one way and pretty open. Bam.

            Reverse isn’t as easy since 22nd is a little less protected than 21st, but still one way: 22nd -> Q St bike lane.

            I live in north Bloomingdale and do the RI Ave commute in, but usually take the Q or T St bike lanes home and find side streets for the remainder of the trip. It’s one of the better commutes I’ve had in this city.

          • I agree with Anon below – I went to GW and used the Q/R lanes and 21st/22nd a lot. 21st and 22nd are great north/south bypasses for Dupont Circle. It’s virtually impossible to avoid congestion/buses completely, but I do seek out bike lanes whenever possible. The hard part is going SW through downtown, there just isn’t very good coverage west of 14th between E and R.

            This is the route I used to commute to Foggy Bottom:
            R St. west to 14th
            14th St. south to New York Avenue (via Thomas Circle)
            New York Avenue west to Pennsylvania Ave. (at 15th St.)
            Pennsylvania Ave west behind White House to 17th St.
            17th St. south to G St.
            G St. west to Foggy Bottom (can go north on 18th/20th/22nd or south on 19th/21st from there)

            Coming back, the 22nd St./Q St. route is a lot calmer, so I’d start with that, but if you’re looking for a more direct route:
            H St. east to 15th (you will have to merge to the left lane on Pennsylvania to continue on H, but it’s doable. Just wait for a gap in the light cycles. Cross the street on foot if it feels too scary at first)
            North on 15th to Vermont (at K St.)
            Vermont Ave. northeast to O St. (via Thomas Circle)
            O St. east to 5th St. (this allows you to bypass the intersection of Q and Rhode Island, which can get a little hairy)
            5th St. north to Q St.
            Q St. east to Bloomingdale

            If you’d like to talk in more detail about this, feel free to request my email address from PoP. Good luck!

      • @Anon 11:37

        I respectfully disagree.

        I’m only proposing that bike should be banned from inside the circle itself, i.e., the area with the fountain, and not the neighborhood. The circle is extremely busy with foot traffic, and bicyclists are creating an unneeded hazard by being too lazy to ride around the circle with traffic.

        As more people ride bikes, better regulation is needed. Unfortunately, some of the regulation needs to limit the places were bikes are permitted for public safety. That being said, the city also needs more bikes lanes. So, we just need to find a balance of bike and “no bike” areas.

        I agree that the sidewalk bike ban seems foolish in many parts of downtown. Near Farragut (where I work), I think it’s a necessity. Too many times I have seen bicyclists pushing through crowds of people on busy sidewalks. It’s unsafe and makes no sense. If you are too afraid to ride in the street, then don’t ride.

    • Cyclists are on the sidewalks because they’re afraid of being in the streets where they belong. We need a massive crackdown on drivers. Pedestrian cyclist conflicts are the result of reserving 99% of public space to speeding automobiles.

    • ummm, where did you ride your bike as a kid? on the interstate???

  • I’m very sorry for the cyclist this morning. sadly, this sort of thing no longer surprises me, but I’m not any closer to understanding the horrible drivers on the road who endanger and harass cyclists and pedestrians. would they drive like that if it were their mother? what are these idiots like in the rest of their lives?

    just yesterday I was walking across the street in the crosswalk with the walk sign and a pickup truck was so impatient to turn that he zoomed around me and nearly clipped me with his tail end. I slapped his side mirror in because I could sense he was going to get too close. some guy on the sidewalk couldn’t believe what he’d seen and was appalled that the man almost ran me over. I was more shocked that this was surprising to the bystander.

    I will say that it’s important to be careful who you retaliate or even defend yourself against. a woman almost ran me over on the sidewalk coming out of a garage and when I had the audacity to slap her trunk, she got out of her car and threatened my life. it’s so ineffably sad that these horrible people exist. it always challenges my world view when I come across them. 🙁

    • There’s something about driving that makes people’s adrenaline and anger levels rise. I’ve never understod it myself, but I have noticed that when I drive, I will sometimes catch myself getting worked up or cursing for no real good reason. It’s best to have some NPR/Word Jazz on, and just take deep breaths. I have to remind myself that driving aggressively will often save me 2-3 minutes max on my trip. Definitely not worth it.

      But, there is something about driving and becoming insane. I had a similar incident to yours one, where I slapped a truck, and the guy got out and took a swing at me; granted, he missed by about two feet, and he was a full 12 inches shorter than I was, so I was scared, but he was definitely a psycho.

      Making “right on red” illegal in DC like in New York would really get rid of many of the car/ped issues in DC.

      • I almost got clipped by a car in the cross walk in dupont, just north of the circle. I smacked the side of the car and it turned out to be an undercover cop. He yelled at me and threatened to write me a ticket. I asked him if he planned to write a ticket because he nearly ran me over in the crosswalk when I had the right of way. It was then he realized he was in the wrong and just drove away.

      • I became a much more calm, relaxed person when I went car-free. and I saved a ton of money on my car insurance!

      • Agreed! As a pedestrian, most of my near misses have been with cars making a right on red. It’s just not necessary here.

      • I’m enough of a cyclist and a driver that I think the binary worldview is really pretty unhelpful. As a driver, the thing about cyclists that slays me is when a handful of a-hole cyclists grant themselves a license to run stop signs/red lights … because as a driver, I really, really would prefer not to inflict potentially life-threatening injury on someone. But if I’m going through a green light at 25mph and out of nowhere a cyclist cuts across in cross-traffic and for some reason I don’t swerve or stop soon enough (luckily, the 3 times this has happened to me, I did), well I’ve got a dent and a crippled body on my hands. And it wouldn’t be my fault, but it would be my problem and my conscience.

        But just as there are a-hole cyclists, there are a-hole drivers. When I’m on my bike and riding in full compliance with the laws, there’s still nothing like the cabbies slow-rolling the bike lanes or the guy who really wants his right turn out of that lane tailgating you all the way to the intersection.

        Moral of the story: don’t be an a-hole, but recognize that a-holes are just part of life.

        • what is unavoidably binary, however, is that you never see cyclists/pedestrians forcing cars off the road and then threatening to kill them. this is pretty standard behavior by drivers.

          • I wouldn’t say it’s standard. Only a handful of drivers are aggressive, but you only notice the aggressive ones.

          • No, but all of them speed (unless they literally cannot because of congestion). Frankly, I prefer the anger-management cases. They’ve rarely got the guts to actually run you over–as much as they’d like to.

            The speeding guy trying to read his SMS queue is the bigger threat.

      • “It’s best to have some NPR/Word Jazz on”

        This would make me near homicidal.

        • Fair enough. I do agree that Kojo makes me want to get all stabb while Science Friday makes me pretty chill.

          If I were someone who commuted by car, I would definitely invest in XM or Sirius for some variation.

          • I used to do podcasts. Problem is, when you’re commuting 2-3 hours a day you run out of good podcasts by Wednesday.

      • I used to have a horrible commute by car. It didn’t make me angrier or more aggressive, but it did make me more anxious. I’ve only had a full-fledged panic attack three times in my life, and all three times it happened while I was behind the wheel on one of Virginia’s lovely gridlocked highways.

    • what are you doing going around beating on people’s cars? what is WRONG with you?

  • jesus, people are uptight. i drive all over dc for work. i see bikes doing all kinds of crazy stuff. they don’t stop at 4 way stop signs. they cut me off. i have to slow down to snails pace because some will ride 2×2. you know what? i deal with it. aint no reason in the world to be angry about it. you’re not going to be late because of a bicycle. so what if you don’t make the light. leave earlier next time if thats your big concern.
    relax folks. enjoy your life, even if there are impediments.

    • Thank you! So sane. 🙂

    • I think I love you. Wish more people had this attitude and realized that shaving seconds off your commute is not going to change anything.

    • You are so right. I see many many many insane cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. I am also regularly a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian, and I have to remind myself that driving/cycling/walking aggressively saves me a couple of minutes AT MOST. Never worth the risk of getting injured or injuring someone.

    • THANK YOU!

  • This is why I stick to streets that are one way and have enough space or a bike lane for me to not worry about cars behind me.

    Short of that, I ride on the sidewalk. I know this is considered a no-no, but seriously, it’s too dangerous on many of the streets. And, when I do ride on the sidewalk, I go slowly and give pedestrians the right-of-way. If I’m on a street I feel unsafe on, and there are alot of pedestrians, I just get off and walk until it’s safer. I would have never ridden on the sidewalks in New York, but honestly, cops here don’t seem to give a sh*t and never enforce no riding on the sidewalk downtown. (Is this up to MPD, Federal police, …?)

    As a side, is it legal to ride your bike on the Mall?? I assumed it wasn’t as it is downtown, but I see people do it all the time on the gravel. Again, cops don’t seem to care less, but even with relatively hardcore-looking cyclists, they seem to do it in a way that makes it seem okay.

    Finally, another question: for tourists on rent-a-bikes, do the companies tell them they’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk downtown? I’ve had bozos from Missouri ring their bells at me and tell me to get out of the way on Constitution (where the sidewalk is super-wide!)

    • the mall is a national park. not “downtown”.

    • 1201.9

      There shall be no prohibition against any person riding a bicycle or personal mobility device upon a sidewalk within the District, so long as the rider does not create a hazard; provided, that no person shall ride a bicycle or
      operate a personal mobility device upon a sidewalk within the Central Business District except on those sidewalks expressly designated by Order of the Mayor, nor shall any person ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk in any area outside of the Central Business District if it is expressly prohibited by Order of the Mayor and appropriate signs to such effect are posted.

    • The “Downtown” sidewalk rule is technically only the Central business district (23rd to 2nd NW, Constitution to Mass Ave). Not sure if this applies to the south side of Constitution (“The Mall”-ish) or not. Certainly does not apply to the gravel paths. I’m sure that the rental contract for Bike and Roll, et al. includes a section on laws in DC. I’m also sure that the reading and comprehension rate for that bit of fine text is south of 1%

    • You should take WABA’s Confident Cycling. It’s cheap, and will make you a safer rider.

      In urban areas you’re generally much safer on the street than the sidewalk.

      • This is actually true, especially given the number of “hidden” drives and alleys, but sometimes the sidewalk just feels like a better option, like on Rhode Island or New York going away from downtown.

    • Yo yo yo, please see jcm’s thoughtful comment above about why riding on the sidewalk *is* way dangerous. Be safe out there!

      • I agree that it is dangerous, but in some situations, like much of New York Ave, it is preferable to riding on the street. When I do so, I ride slowly, and if there are too many pedestrians, I just dismount and walk

  • Had a great time at BTWD – went to the AdMo pitstop twice this morning (once while walking my dog, the next time on my bike) and the City Bikes folks were fantastic there – checking out my bike and showing me a few tips for maintenance (big props to Mark who is a great mechanic and funny guy).
    Then rode down 15th St to Freedom Plaza. Mayor Gray accepted the Bike Friendly Community award from League of American Bicyclists. Quite ironic because it’s based on the accomplishments of Klein and Fenty. But he did state that Silver isn’t good enough and that he wants the city to become a gold or platinum-rated bike friendly community.
    Off to BicycleSpace for their post-party this evening.

    • Of course, Fenty should be commended for the biking investments, but that guy could not give a speech. So dull, you could never tell when he was happy. Mayor Gray seemed genuinely excited about receiving the award this morning.

      BTW, I saw Councilmember Bowser with her helmet, but not Tommy Wells who is a big bike advocate.

  • My pet peeve: The increasing number of cyclists on Rhode Island, especially during rush hour. Might be technically legal to take up a lane, but c’mon people — use common sense.

    • My pet peeve — drivers on Rhode Island who can’t accommodate cyclists despite their three lanes of driving space. (Yep, I’m one of those folks taking up a whole lane from R street to Constitution every single morning!)

      Deal with it.

      • Argh. And by Constitution I mean Connecticut. Sigh.

      • Why not use the bike lanes on R and 14th? It’s not actually that far out of the way, and it’s a lot less stressful.

        I live right on Rhode Island, but I don’t bike on it.

        • When you add up stopping and starting at all the stop signs and lights (obeying the rules) and going 7 miles an hour (or whatever a slow speed is cause I’m slow), it’s actually quite a bit out of the way. Add to that not having air conditioning, a heater or a roof…

        • I do sometimes, but Rhode Island actually takes me directly to my office, whereas if take RI either end up on RI again (right around Connecticut where things get to be the worst) or have to go through Dupont. I chose RI over Dupont any day, and usually don’t actually have too many problems with drivers. I can tell some get irked if they try to cut over and then realize I’m in the lane ahead of them, but no one has ever done anything stupid. Yet.

        • They do it because it makes sense for them to do it–either they’d be going far out of their way, or they can go faster, or what have you.

          They certainly don’t do it to personally piss you off. Jesus, and they say cyclists have an “entitlement” problem. I rarely see cyclists try to dictate which routes drivers should take.

          • I was responding to a fellow cyclist who spoke about commuting on Rhode Island, not a driver. As someone who lives on Rhode Island (and watches other cyclists nearly get hit in front of my building every day), I think it is a more appropriate route for driving than biking.

            Jesus, indeed.

          • And as I said, you don’t get to decide what’s “apropriate”. My guess is that if cyclists where “nearly getting hit every day” (oh my!) we’d actually see that reflected in the stats at some point.

            Everyone wants to dictate everyone else’s route. That’s arrogance. And if there are non-segregated general purpose roads in the city that are “too dangerous to ride on” then we need increased enforcement on those roads. Drivers need to be reined in.

    • Traffic is slow there already, I have trouble imagining why it would matter. I still wouldn’t ride on RI or NY, though for fear of some insane gov’t toadie from MD freaking out in his Honda and trying to run me down, so he can get home to his McMansion and Taco Bell takeout faster.

    • what’s not sensible about riding down rhode island ave? you’re doing it. seems the more sensible thing would be to use public transportation or get a bike of your own.

      • Interesting assumptions here. FYI — I’m a pedestrian/occasional cyclist. I don’t drive, and use bike lanes when I ride. I witness, almost daily, near accidents on RI. So my concern is for your safety, not my speed.

        • it only makes sense that it’d be a pet peeve if you were a driver.

        • Hmm. You often hear this sort of “I only care about *your* safety” nonsense. But if it were particularly dangerous, we’d hear about a significant number of accidents. We don’t.

    • This is a serious question for drivers who trot out the “take up a lane” line, I’m not trying to be confrontational: are you talking about a cyclist riding down the dead center of a lane, or just being in a traffic lane at all and not hugged completely up to the curb?

      Here is what I’ve experienced on the roads in DC (and I am one of the RI Ave bike commuters a couple times a week): in general, drivers have no sense of the dimensions of the vehicle they are operating which scares me on many levels. Just no clue. Go out and take a look at a normal lane. From curb to lane divider there is generally room for 1.5++ car widths (not talking full size Hummers or tow trucks, passenger cars). If I am riding 2 feet off of the curb (because curb transitions are sometimes rutted and that is where the broken glass and debris accumulates) then you still have PLENTY of room to pass me! Often drivers will honk, creep up and then zoom past and I can see they have CLEARLY 2-3 feet on the other side of the car until they encroach on the next lane and they’ve given me more than enough breathing room. The problem sometimes isn’t bikers “taking up a lane”, it’s drivers not knowing how to operate their cars safely or lacking the confidence to do so. But we can’t but a burden on car drivers to use the roads responsibly, can we? Oh, no, can’t do that, it’s the f*cking cyclists who can’t ride!

      Sorry, rant over, off soapbox. EVERYBODY be safe out there and give some leeway to your fellow road users. We all get where we’re going faster if nobody plays the entitled asshole card, biker and driver alike.

      • The reason for taking the lane is very simple — it is by far the safest for the cyclist (assuming that you’re on a road where the cyclist can travel at approximately the same speed as traffic — i.e., 25mph speed limit or under).

        By taking the lane, you force cars to actually change lanes to pass you. If you don’t take the lane (and hug the curb), cars will breeze right next to you and often clip you (or come very close to doing so).

        It’s also incredibly dangerous to ride in the space between parked cars and traffic, due to the risk of getting “doored.” Most drivers have no sense of this risk whatsoever. It’s virtually impossible for bikers to see people in parked cars and anticipate when a car door is going to be opened directly into their riding path. This necessitates riding ~3ft away from parked cars. So all of the sudden, you have 3ft clearance to prevent dooring, 2 feet of the bike itself, and 3ft minimum safe clearance from passing traffic — that’s 8 ft. All of the sudden there’s no safe way for a car to pass unless you take the lane and force the car into the adjacent lane. This is also a major problem with many of the bike lanes in this city.

        Obviously these rules don’t apply on single-lane roads. In that case, proper etiquette (in my opinion) is to hug the curb/cars if there is enough space (unlikely in DC). When there’s not enough space, take the lane, BUT pull over at stop signs, lights, etc to let all the traffic behind you pass if you’re going below the speed of traffic.

        Really, most of the problem is that motorists are 1) too impatient, 2) don’t understand how easy it is to seriously injure/kill a cyclist by being careless, and 3) fail to understand the benefits that cyclists provide to an area (decreased road congestion, decreased pollution, decreased noise, increased sense of community, more exercise (leading to less health problems and lower insurance costs, in the aggregate) and see cyclists as a nuisance.

        Aren’t cars far more of a nuisance?

        Perhaps if we had an environment that fostered and encourage cycling, we could actually start to see some of these benefits at the macro level here in DC. Other cities around the world certainly have…

        • “it is by far the safest for the cyclist (assuming that you’re on a road where the cyclist can travel at approximately the same speed as traffic…”

          The same speed as traffic on RI ave is NEVER 25mph. More like 40-50mph.

          So by your definition, it is unsafe for cyclist to occupy a full lane on RI.

          • Which is the reason why speed limits in urban areas should never be above 25 mph. What’s the posted speed limit on RI Ave, btw? 25? 30? And as you say, the traffic usually travels at 40-50 mph.

            And drivers say cyclists are “scofflaws”.

            We should have blanket enforcement of speed limit laws in the city. If someone is caught doing 40 in a 25 mph zone, they should go directly to jail. Certainly their license should be suspended for at least a year.

            It’s this culture of permissiveness that allows drivers to behave however they like that’s responsible for the mass death toll on our nation’s roadways.

            I’m always amused that “this road isn’t safe for cyclists, because drivers are incapable of driving legally, much less safely” is some kind of argument against urban cyclists. If I ride my bicycle at 25 mph down crowded sidewalks, and pedestrians end up getting injured, it’s not evidence that pedestrians shouldn’t be on that sidewalk–it’s evidence I should be in jail.

        • How’s Utopia treating you? Nice this time of year? Duh, of COURSE it is!

          Seriously, all of that academic crap above is nice but my primary job on my bike is not to get killed and not provoke behavior in others that would increase that chance. As stated above there is plenty of room for a car to pass a cyclist in the same lane on most of our city streets, and I’m fine with that. I’m a stronger-than-average cyclist and have no problem with close calls assuming they are somewhat predictable. I have real problems with fed up drivers (fed up with their own miserable commuting existences, actually) doing dumb shit that would harm me. That includes speeding up to pass me and then slamming on the brakes for a right hand turn in front of me to save the 3-4 extra seconds it would hav taken me to reach the same intersection. In the middle of the right lane this behavior is encouraged (well, not encouraged, but elicited). If I’m over towards the curb this almost NEVER happens to me. I call it the “invisible bike lane” effect. When drivers perceive you are doing your best to move with the flow of traffic in your own space they treat you like a fellow vehicle most of the time; when you take up “their” space, some switch gets thrown in their brains and it’s all “BIIIKKEEERRRRSSS!!! RAGE! RAGE! RAAAGGGGGEEEEE!!!!!!”.

          This, of course, is not true 100% of the time, but it’s playing the odds and seems to work for me. YMMV.

          Oh, and the lane splitting thing: this is why I do it between the 2nd and 3rd lanes on RI whenever possible; fewer people exiting cars at stoplights in the traffic lanes. And keeping my eye on the driver seats of the cars in the curb lane when I can’t. I’ve never been doored or, frankly, even ever had a close call.

          • You haven’t been doored yet, I take it.

            Also, the ONLY time I’ve ever had problems was when I was hugging the curb or parked cars. Maybe we’re talking about different parts of the city, but where I bike there simply is not room for a bike + car + oncoming traffic. I’m going as fast as the cars most of the time anyway, so it’s not an issue.

          • No, I have never been doored, read to the end above. I also don’t believe in blind luck. The right proportion of proactive and defensive cycling skills in the city will keep you quite safe. You just have to pay attention to your surroundings, look 3 moves ahead, and not project an “I’m a tree-saving cyclist demanding my rights to full-fledged vehicular status!” attitude; people don’t react kindly to that shit. As always the safe answer is not found in the extremes.

          • I’ve been riding on the urban (and suburban) streets for twenty years, and have never been injured, and only had two close calls. It’s been my experience that cringing in the gutters and trying not to offend anyone is a very, very bad idea. If that’s your strategy, and you’ve never been injured, you’ve been pretty lucky.

          • Good lord, can’t people read any more?! I don’t “cringe in the gutters”, and I’m certainly not afraid to offend somebody. What I am saying, in more succinct terms:

            – As a biker your safety is your own responsibility; ample evidence exists that many drivers don’t give a shit. Ride like you have something to lose.

            – There are things you can do to ensure your safety, and sometimes that means deferring to larger vehicles, sometimes it means making them wait.

            – By acting as a commuter with everybody’s interests in mind you simultaneously increase your safety and decreasing the impact on those around you, while possibly adding negligible time to your commute (that thing about drivers acting crazy to “save 1-2 minutes of their time”? Yeah, that runs both ways).

            How is the above a poor strategy? It gives me a safety record akin to yours. Well, I guess it means I can’t act like I’m a superior species because biking is the fastest and most economical way for me to get to work. Step outside the little box you’ve built for yourself and maybe you’ll feel the same way.

            We really are all in this together, and sometimes it takes being the bigger man/woman to affect change in those (drivers) who don’t see it that way. Kumbay-f*ckin’-ya

    • You’re just wrong here buddy. RI Ave around Logan is supposed to be 25 MPH, but every car commuter wants it to be 50 MPH. Slow down, its not a freeway. At 25 MPH the road is more than safe for everyone.

      • This is the reason the District needs to step up enforcement of speeding laws, and increase penalties. If you’re doing more than 30 mph it should be a massive fine; 35 mph and your license should be suspended; 40+ mph and you should go to jail.

        If it’s not possible to get MD and VA drivers suspended, we should give them jail time for 10+ miles over. Speeding today is treated like drunk driving was fifty years ago. We meet it with a nod and wink. But it’s killing people.


    • I’ve been hit three times, though luckily never seriously injured. Twice, the drivers got out and apologized, saying they didn’t see me (they were on their phones). Once, I was left with a taco tire, and the driver sped off.

  • I ride from DC to Alexandria often. Two differences today, obviously more people on bikes than even a day with similar good weather. And while on the bike path near the airport, I ran into a group of 8 bike police. Rode with them until about Alexandra when they stopped to help a guy with twins in a baby trailer.

  • I stopped at Bicycle Space this morning and it was great. Free snacks, coffee, patch kits, water bottle, and free one day coupons for CaBi. Tommy Wells and Asst. Chief Groomes were speaking but I missed most of the remarks.

    Wonderful way to start the day.

  • Mt Pleasant has FAR too many people biking on sidewalks. I say, make the signs in spanish so that the vast majority of the sidewalk bikers understand that it is ANNOYING. Makes me wonder if you are ONLY allowed to ride on the sidewalk when riding bikes in central/south america.

  • This is the first I have ever heard of MPD taking an assault report based on plates and victim testimony alone. I long ago gave up getting plates when cars try to hit me or do love-tap hit and runs because the cops wouldn’t take reports. If this is changing it’s a huge win. Now if we could just get MoCo on board.

    • It is! I called in an aggressive driver last night. They sent out a car to the general area, and though they couldn’t stop the driver based on my report, they followed him to the edge of the District (he was from MD) to make sure he didn’t have any additional infractions.

      I felt pretty empowered as a cyclist, and my revenged was more than sated. Officer called me back to say they managed to give him a ticket for speeding.

      • Ugh, what a shitty enforcement strategy. If someone fired a bullet at you and missed, would they refuse to pull them over and then follow them to the border?

        • They watch them to see if they fire any more bullets in the District. If so, they arrest them. Otherwise, it’s MD’s problem.

  • i had a great btwd experience! i don’t ride to work that often (walking usually), but i’m a frequent biker when not commuting to/from work and i think its important to a) be part of an important critical mass on this day and b) take the opportunity to show drivers that not all bikers are dbags – please don’t judge us all on the action of few! i don’t judge all drivers the same, please give bikers the same courtesy:)

    the admo pit stop was super friendly and fed me well – thank you!

  • I really wish it was illegal in DC for bikers to bike on sidewalks or any street without a bike lane. DC would have a lot less road accidents/problems without the public menace that is bikers in DC.

    • Yawn. Your whining has been duly noted along with others above. How many times have you had trouble sleeping at night, perseverating over the “menace” that is the spandex mafia?

      I wish it were illegal to cross the street while talking on a cellphone, and I wish it were illegal to turn right on red. I also wish traffic violations were enforced, We all have dreams.

      • As far as I can tell you are the one “whining” and trolling on this blog (with your 10 plus comments) and not me. I was voicing an opinion, just like you. Just for your own knowledge incase you were unaware, not only the people who agree with you get to comment.

        • You were trolling by your use of the word “menace”. You clearly prejudge any cyclist you see, so your post on here served no purpose.

          And, I have posted a lot of comments on this topic because it is something that matters to me, and I want to know how others feel. Nothing I have written so far comes off as whining.

          • I was expressing an opinion. Like you. You clearly prejudge anymore who doesn’t agree with you. I too an interested in this issue as I am a driver who deals with bikers just in the same way as you as a biker deals with drivers of cars.

            I think that 98% of bikers in DC are a menace because of the crazy way that they proceed to ignore the rules of the road andcut cars with the legitimate right of way off. Yes occassionally there is a biker who does not blatantly disregard those rules that apply to moving vehicles on the street, but they are few and far between. Many of the individuals I know who do bike have openly and without any sense that they are in the wrong admitted that they don’t follow traffic signs at all. Therefore, since it is clear, at least in my opinion, that the majority of bikers refuse to adhere to traffic safety laws that are meant to keep everyone (bikers, drivers and peds) safe, I believe that it would be for the best to only allow bikers to bike on streets with bike lanes.

        • @Tricia: Your first comment is literally the definition of trolling and most definitely not an opinion – it can’t be, it’s too ignorant and full of hate for no reason.

    • You realize a lot of the bike lanes don’t connect to one another, right? You have to use roads without them some of the time, especially downtown.

      I go out of my way to use bike lanes or restricted streets (like the stretch behind the White House), but only about 75% of my commute actually falls under those two categories. And that’s a very high percentage for DC.

      But then again, if DC laid down bike lanes on every street in the city, I would be a happy camper 🙂

    • “DC would have a lot less road accidents/problems without the public menace that is bikers in DC.”

      Cite your sources, please. The opposite trend has been noted extensively. Start here, google for multiple pages of more results if not satisfied:

      Fear and aggravation does not good transit policy make.

    • DC would have a lot less road accidents/problems without the public menace that is bikers in DC.

      Yes, because such a large percentage of accidents and fatalities are caused by cyclists. Humans are notoriously bad at determining where risk lies. You sound very human.

  • I’m not surprised that the bicyclist who said he/she “slapped” cars to alert them to their wrongdoing was getting very negative responses.

    I understand the idea of getting someone’s attention… but how is hitting a vehicle 1) justified and 2) going to be interpreted as anything other than getting confrontational and upping the ante?

    Wouldn’t it be better to yell “Hey!!” really loudly?

    • Because it reinforces the idea that your not a freaking 3,000 pound piece of metal and that any contact is actually with a human being. Yelling helps sometimes, but just as often it is ignored. Slapping a car does no damage and jerks the person into the reality of the consequences of their piss poor driving skills.

      • No, it just makes the driver believe you’re a drunken idiot who needs to grow up.

        • Several years ago, a driver decided it would be fun to crowd my wife while she was riding her bike–revving the engine, etc… I was following about 20 yards back. When I caught up with the driver at a red light a few blocks later, and started hammering on the trunk deck, yelling, “How’s it feel to be bullied!” at the top of my lung.

          The driver may have thought I was drunk, and maybe I did need to grow up, but I think they got the message.

          One great thing about urban cycling is that oftentimes drivers who engage in bullying behavior–and who are used to being able to do so with impunity–suddenly find themselves in a situation where there’s no where to run. I think that realization often curbs some of the worst excesses.

    • I don’t trunk slap on my bike, but I do on foot when cars ignore crosswalk signals. Sometimes there are tough guy words from out of the window, but I always stop to tell them why I did it to get their attention that they at least very nearly ran over my foot. More tough guy words, never tough guy actions before they speed off. Cowards are bad, cowards at the helm of multi-ton machines are f*cking menaces.

    • Last weekend we overheard some pedestrians making rude comments about my car being partially in the crosswalk. I said to my girlfriend “well at least they didn’t slam their fist on my car.” She grew up in this area but doesn’t drive, and was in disbelief that anyone would do something that childish.

      (For the record, being in the crosswalk is not something I normally do, but another driver did something crazy at the last minute so I had to stop and missed my chance to go through the intersection at the light… in other words, shit happens).

      • Welcome to the world of being held accountable for the shitty behavior of a bunch of other folks who just happen to use the same form of transportation as you do.

        We cyclists will move over and make some room for you.

      • @! – This isn’t the type of situation I was referring to. It’s when my life is threatened. I yell as well, but I’m not going to risk my life on hoping the driver hears me. So who cares if the driver thinks I’m childish or drunk or both if it saves my life by slapping their car.

        I would never slap a car for being parked in a crosswalk, as you said, shit happens and you’re not hurting anyone in that case.

  • I’m a pretty aggressive driver; I get angry easily while driving, and I don’t know why – I’m not like this in life outside of my car! My boyfriend knows how aggravated/angry I get, and I guess he heard on NPR that a big problem with people getting angry behind the wheel is because they don’t give themselves a minute to regroup when they get in their car. Apparently you’re not supposed to just get in the car and go, you should get in the car and kind of take a minute to adjust to your surroundings. When you do finally start to drive, don’t immediately accelerate, start off slow. I was skeptical at first, but I did my own test this week where I took a minute to reacclimate myself, and I was a very nice driver without even thinking about it. After work I just got in the car and went, and I was a menace on the drive home. It was kind of eery. Don’t yell at me, I’m just passing along a tidbit of advice because I know how it is 🙂

    • I agree that I think a lot of aggressive drivers are decent people outside of their cars, but surround them in a couple of tons of metal, and they lose all sense of reason.

      It’s good that you recognize the pattern; I have found myself getting too aggressive as a driver/cyclist/ped before, and you just have to find ways to remind yourself to relax. Maybe a photo of your favorite person/place on your steering wheel, or a favorite relaxing song to listen to before you get going.

      Taking a minute to breath will reduce your stress levels and reduce the risk of injuring yourself or others.

      • Yeah I’m definitely trying… I try to count to 3 when I find myself getting aggressive. I’m living in Philly now, not in DC anymore, but I think it’s exactly the same in any city. I started biking more, and I’m getting used to biking with cars and driving with bikes, so the bike hatred has gone away for the most part. I still have a problem with doing the lane split; I can’t bring myself to do it and I feel like such an ass if I do, so I usually just pull up in the lane behind the last car and wait my turn on my bike with all the cars. I just try to not be a nuisance; it’s still faster than driving and trying to find a parking spot!!

        Yes. There are a-holes on bikes, there are a-holes in cars. But we’ve all gotta stop pigeon-holing and realize that sometimes people are just idiots, and try not to be one ourselves!

        • This is the heart of it, isn’t it? Everybody should engage in multi-modal commuting at some point if it is even remotely feasible. You’ll be a better person, honestly. If not better (maybe you’re just naturally an asshole) at least more well-rounded and cognizant of other viewpoints.

          This is the same reason that it should be a law that EVERYBODY holds some sort of service industry or customer service job once in their lifetime. The world would be a better place.

      • Oh and I love your comment about how being aggressive (driver, biker, ped, doesn’t matter) saves you 2-3 minutes tops… So true.

    • My wife used to be the exact same way when she drivers. Try this: drive the speed limit. It works. Most of the aggression and anger comes from staring at the bumper in front of you, and feeling that you’re being impeded. If you drive the speed limit–usually 5-15 mph slower than everyone else, you suddenly lose that feeling of being a clot in a mass of stationary cars, and you ironically gain a greater sense of movement.

      • This comment doesn’t make any sense. In those situations where you feel like you’re in a mass of stationary cars everyone’s only going about 5-10 mph, so how can you go 5-15 mph slower than them?

        I know you enjoy pretending no one goes below the speed limit, but you failed at trying to fit it into the context here.

        • You’re screwed in that type of congestion. I’m talking about driving on reasonably uncongested streets.

          Not sure what you’re on about with the “pretending no one goes below the speed limit”. I’ve said repeatedly that when congestion is such that drivers have no other choice, they’ll go the speed limit–folks who ride on Metro trains don’t get points for obeying the speed limit either.

          It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that no driver who has the option obeys the speed limit, though. It’s the same kind of collective self-delusion that drivers engage in when they argue “drivers stop at stop signs.” Then you point out that unless there’s contention for ROW, *every* driver rolls through stop signs at about 5 mph, and almost never honor the “stop” line before the crosswalk. Of course, then you get into an argument about how rolling through at 5-10 mph is “stopping”.

          It really is bizarre.

  • Basically missed BTWD due to oversleeping. 🙁 At 10:30 it was quiter than any normal day’s commute.

    But since people are on the topic, I’d like to make two suggestions to my fellow bike commuters to help people hate us less. (These may fall into the category of pet peeves, but I share them because they both strike me as so discourteous to the other users of the roads.)

    1. You don’t need to roll *into* the crosswalk, esp. at pedestrian heavy downtown crosswalks. It’s extremely discourteous to pedestrains for no good reason. If you really feel you need to get a headstart on the light, wait for the pedestrains to pass and then roll up.

    2. Left turn arrows. I bike down a street that has two intersections where the NB traffic gets a left turn arrow before the SB traffic gets the green. The *majority* of my fellow bikers see the cross traffic stop and then run the red in front of the left turners. If I was a driver and missed my left turn arrow because of this, I would be sooooo pissed. It’s the same two lights every day and its like 30 seconds. Yet most of the morning commuters do this. (To be fair, the pedestrians are really bad about exactly the same thing.)

    Anyway, be safe and be courteous!

  • I bike to work most days so the only difference today was that I was more weary of other cyclist. I had a rather run-of-the-mill but still aggravating experience with a car. I was riding down a street and a guy pulled out out of a parking space right in front of me. He hadn’t looked back to see if anyone was coming. There was no time to brake so I swerved out of the way as he honked at me!

    So bike to work day for me was a lot like biking to work any other day…..

  • Pet-peeves on Penn Ave –
    1) People jaywalking when the light is green and motorist/cyclist have right of way, especially since most are oblivious.
    2) Cars making u-turn without looking on Penn Ave. Almost have seen a few accidents.
    3) Cars making left turns at non-left intersections.

    There should be better enforcement on Penn ave for cars, bikes, and jaywalking!

  • this was my first day biking to work. i had a really good experience and feel quite invigorated from the ride in! pit stop at the yards park was great–beautiful, relaxing setting and good food/freebies. it was cool to see so many people riding throughout the city.

    • austindc

      Are you the really pretty lady who was down at the yards? I like your red bike! I’m glad your first bike to work day was fun and safe!

  • I like that bikers’ defense of running red lights and stop signs is that they have good judgment and know when it’s safe to do it. Plus, if they stopped, they’d be slowed down!

    Jesus Christ, if I applied my logic in my car, I’d have my license taken away within weeks.

    It seems that whenever anyone has one of these stories about being hit by a driver, it’s always “I know other bikers break the law, but I swear I was following it.” I’m calling BS. I have never seen a biker stop at a stop sign, and I’ve rarely seen them stop at a red light. The irony is that they’re the ones who will die when they’re hit by a car — not a driver — but they’re the ones who insist on most flagrantly breaking traffic laws.

    • See, I’m calling BS on this:

      “I have never seen a biker stop at a stop sign, and I’ve rarely seen them stop at a red light.”

      Is it just that you only notice it when bikers DO stop? I rarely see bikers “blow through” intersections, as in not slowing down. But I do see people slowing to a stop or almost stop, checking both ways, and then proceeding. I know it’s what pisses drivers off the most, but I think totally flagrant disregard for stop signs/lights is rarer than you think outside of the kamikaze messenger set. They stick out in your mind when they do happen. I admit to the “Idaho stop” at almost every intersection, but hey, there are some advantages to being a smaller and more nimble vehicle like it or not. In 10 years on the DC streets I’ve never had a close call because I actually pay attention to my surroundings. Flame away, I’m OK with that.

    • Do you always drive below the speed limit? Or do you sometimes drive 5-10 over the limit because you have good judgment and know when it’s safe to do it?

      There are some bicyclists that are straight-up reckless, just like there’s some drivers that are straight-up reckless. Most of us, though, are just like most drivers – trying to reach our destination safely, even while not always obeying the law.

  • The way everybody bitches and bickers whenever this stupid cars versus bikes topic always comes up, I think this would be a better place if you would all just take the bus!

  • What do you all think of this as a solution:

    1. Bikers obey rules of road, no limits or exceptions. No going through stop signs or red lights for any reason. No biking on sidewalks.

    2. Right lane of any road is for bikes. Cars can use it when bikes aren’t in it but must defer to bikes.

    • I think we need to re-examine our current traffic laws and make sure they accommodate cycling. The problem with stop signs for bikes, the way lighted signals work, etc is that they were designed with only cars in mind. I think a thoughtful re-design to acknowledge that cars and bikes are going to be sharing roads is long overdue, and could go a long way to helping everyone get a long.

      It’s not perfect, but the design of Penn Ave goes a long way to adopting a smart, shared design for bikes and cars. I’d love to see more of this. I’d also love to see drivers’ education courses include much more information about how to interact with cyclists, the rights cyclists have on the roads and other considerations.

      Most cyclists drive at some point, or have learned to drive, and so SHOULD have an understanding of driving laws and how to interact with drivers. Now, if we could clarify this with smarter road rules that don’t strictly advantage motor vehicles.

      • Ugh, no. I’m a cyclist and I HATE the Penn Ave bike lanes. Just wrong in their implementation. You’re not going to change ingrained behavior to that degree overnight with the median crossovers and whatnot, for ped/cyclists/drivers alike. I find it faster to ride in the right lane.

    • Better idea: lower the speed limit to 20 mph for all vehicles on every road other than separated highways, and get rid of all traffic lights. Every intersection is a stop sign for auto traffic, and a yield sign for non-motorized traffic.

      If you exceed 20 mph on the public roadways (with the above exception), you go directly to jail, whether on a bike or in a car. Reasonable?

  • Daily cyclist and sometimes driver here. I can’t stand lane splitting – as a driver I can say it’s VERY hard to see people coming when they’re generally moving that much faster than the rest of traffic, which around here is generally stopped. Yeah, yeah, I get that it’s legal, but I do worry for the safety of the bikers.

  • austindc

    I don’t think this is a cyclist versus driver issue. I think this is about the people in this city. People should be courteous, safe, and considerate, and they should follow the rules of the road. If you’re an asshole, you’re going to be a bad driver, a bad cyclist, a bad pedestrian, and you may even find a way to be bad at riding the metro. It’s not that motorists are mean or cyclists are selfish, it’s that there are some assholes in this city, and some of them happen to have cars and some of them happen to have sweet bikes.

    I am one of those assholes, so I just started walking everywhere. That way I can be an asshole without bothering anyone else.

    The solution to all these traffic problems(as I have told DDOT over and over) is of course horses.

  • Unpredictable action is the bane for everyone on the road and the only solution is hardcore rules and hardcore enforcement. DC has neither but it’s time we did. They should start writing tickets–to drivers, cyclists AND pedestrians–and use the extra revenue for a public awareness campaign.

    Our ME FIRST culture means people won’t start paying attention to YOUR safety until it impacts their bottom line.

  • ALERT: This post is not inflammatory… I never cease to be amazed at what people will write under Anonymous. Must be freeing.

    I saw this post and just thought how awful that experience must have been to deal with that kind of rage. I bike every day but have really only dealt with a handful of bad experiences almost all related to someone not realizing I was there (I can think of two things I did that were just plain stupid). Almost every driver I encounter is courteous. I do break some laws here and there to get home faster, but I also get out of the right lane if someone is trying to turn right on red and I do everything I can to signal what my intentions are. According to my wife I don’t use signals when driving but I signal constantly on my bike. I’m always hyper-aware that I am less safe on a bike. Ultimately, I have to say that when I make good choices (which route to take, when to drift through a stop sign, when to claim the lane) I feel pretty safe and have encountered almost no poor behavior from drivers.

  • How about an informal post as to which drivers in the DMV are the worse? My vote is maryland.

  • how do ya’ll feel about segways or golf carts? what about motorized wheelchairs? do your opinions extend to every mode of transportation?

    • Golf cart would be big pimpin , IMO. Wheelchair would be too hard to get up Capitol Hill or Meridan Hill. Segways are annoying as they are : in the bike lanes, on the sidewalk, and used by tourists.

  • OMG thank God I missed this topic today, so tired of this!!!
    But I will read later and get pissed to myself. See you all at the Columbia Heights Rallypoint!

  • I both drive and bike in DC, and have been for the last few years, pretty much daily (have to go many places during the work day as part of my job). Even with the risk of getting hated on, I would like to say the following: personally, I have never seen bikers act inconsiderate on the road to the point of endangering others. In general, the bikers I see are just minding their own business, trying to stay alive – and they pay a lot more attention to the road and surrounding traffic than most of the drivers.

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