203 Comment

  • Pretty new? There are dedicated bike lanes on 14 Street. No amount of signage is going to erase that heady sense of entitlement.

    • That’s because bikers are better than you. Seriously.

    • GiantSquid

      Entitlement or wanting to feel safe? I’m a regular cyclist in DC and if I go up on the sidewalk it’s because I don’t feel safe in the road. Many folks in larger vehicles aren’t just not paying attention but actually aggressive towards cyclists. My goal is to get to my destination safely. If I can’t do that on a trail or a road, I will take the sidewalk.

      • yes, however you are also endangering pedestrians walking on the sidewalk. if you feel uncomfortable riding your bike on the street then you shouldn’t ride it.

        • YUP. I don’t feel comfortable with bikes coming whizzing up behind me and nearly knocking me down on the sidewalks.

        • maxwell smart

          It’s not only the pedestrian issue, it’s also that motorists are not looking for or expecting cyclists on the sidewalk. Even with pedestrians, cyclists move at a different speed that a motorist is not going to expect – as a result vehicles making right turns or pulling out of driveways or garages will not see a cyclist until too late.

          • justinbc

            If I recall, if you ride your bike through a crosswalk (rather than walking it through) you forfeit your right of way to the car.

          • Cite for that please?

          • justinbc

            Hrmm I guess that’s not actually true. This is from their “pocket guide”:
            Who has the right-of-way in a crosswalk?
            According to DC code Section 1201.11, a bicyclist in
            a crosswalk has all the rights and responsibilities
            as a pedestrian in a crosswalk, though cyclists
            must yield right-of-way to pedestrians. According to
            Title 50, Section 2201.28, at unsignalized crossings,
            drivers must stop and give the right-of-way to a
            pedestrian crossing the roadway. At signalized
            crosswalks, drivers must give the right-of-way.

        • Agree. I’m pro-bike, husband commutes via bike….but I also have rights as a pedestrian. I’ve been run into by a cyclist on the sidewalk before – it hurts. I’ve had to swerve with the stroller, tug my dog on her leash back quickly…all things that, frankly, shouldn’t be happening on a sidewalk.

          FWIW I notice many people around us on sidewalks are multi-tasking while cycling – talking on the phone, smoking, ect so the sidewalk is “Safer” for them….and then even more dangerous for everyone else!

          I’m glad we have bike lanes, I just wish more people would use them.

        • “Shouldn’t” doesn’t mean anything. Riding on the sidewalk in the Central Business District is explicitly prohibited by DC law. In the rest of the city it is explicitly permitted by DC law. What you feel is a “should” or a “shouldn’t” simply does not make a darn bit of difference. Sorry. (And I say this as somebody who hasn’t ridden a bike in almost 20 years. I don’t have a horse in this race. I just get annoyed when people mistake their personal opinion for public policy.)

        • What is the mechanism by which a novice bicyclist is supposed to acquire the skill and experience necessary to ride on the street if cyclists who aren’t ready to ride on the street should not ride at all? Magic?

          • Posted in wrong place, intended as response to comment above which read, “if you feel uncomfortable riding your bike on the street then you shouldn’t ride it.”

          • gotryit

            While I don’t agree with the statement that you’re arguing with, you could:
            1. take a WABA confident city cycling class
            2. start on easier streets and work your way up to more difficult streets (e.g., 11th St NW vs. 14th St NW).

          • What about novice drivers. They are expected to practice on the road. Not sure I get your point.

          • brookland_rez

            Ride at night or when there’s less traffic and work up from there until necessary skills are acquired?

      • +1 and see http://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/RuleHome.aspx?RuleNumber=18-1201. “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 sidewalks on 14th Street NW are constantly filled with pedestrians. You are creating a hazard by riding on the sidewalk. Get in the road.

        • Yo know the CBD is like M st and below right?

          • Central Business District – that area within the following boundaries (including sidewalks): Beginning at 23rd Street and Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest, then east along Massachusetts Avenue to Second Street, Northeast, then south on Second Street to D Street, Southeast, then west on D Street in a line crossing Virginia Avenue, Southwest to 14th Street, Southwest, then north on 14th Street, Southwest to Constitution Avenue, Northwest, then west on Constitution Avenue to 23rd Street, Northwest, then north on 23rd Street, Northwest to Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest. (Reg. No. 71-26)

          • And cyclists ride on the sidewalks there. While there are certainly responsible cyclists, there are many that do endanger pedestrians and simply don’t care. For example, bikes on the many narrow sidewalks in this city outside of CBD and many pedestrians. Why did the city bother to expend so much money if bike lines are considered meaningless or an alternative way of riding your bike?

    • Many bike lanes also have terrible road conditions, making it unsafe for even the most experienced riders. 14th St is definitely one of them.

    • Have you ever ridden a bike on 14th street when its congested? It’s a nightmare. The “dedicated bike lanes” to which you refer are consistently blocked by idling cars/delivery trucks/construction/even cops sometimes…some of the worst potholes and cracks in the pavement across the city… Even worse, when rush hour drivers are swerving between lanes to pass drivers waiting to make and a left (or a right), it feels pretty unsafe as a cyclist to be weaving back and forth through traffic and the partially-blocked bike lane . I’m all in favor of keeping my bike on the street whenever possible, but sometimes, there’s not much you can do.

      • Then yield to pedestrians. We have the right of way on sidewalks. Not cyclists. But many think quiet the opposite when riding on a congested sidewalk.

        • many may think that, but the vast majority of us do not. while there are people who walk aggressively on sidewalks and push through crowds at will, nobody attributes that douchebaggery to all pedestrians

      • And we pedestrians feel the same way when cyclists are zooming down sidewalks or, from my experience, feel entitled to idle there bikes in dedicated crosswalks, particularly at the intersection of 15/R.

      • What about us pedestrians. Cyclists on 14th during congested times (almost all the time) creates a nightmare for us. Guess you don’t care about that.

        • I agree – 14th St bike lanes are a nightmare. It isn’t helped by DDOT giving away public space permits that allow developers to create arbitrary dead ends every 2 blocks blocking the bike lane. I don’t agree that the best solution is to ride on the sidewalk (as someone noted above, in a congested area like 14th St, that creates a hazard). A better solution is to pick a better bike route. I’ve done the that in the mornings biking down T St instead of R due to another great public space decision by DDOT in the 1300 block of R that effectively has left only a narrow passage for cars. I think the best approach is to stop approaching this as a zero-sum game from either a pedestrian, bicyclist, or driver perspective. 90% of it is about common sense and sharing the road.

  • And yet, the 14th St lanes are usually blocked by construction fences and barriers, or covered with potholes.

      • As a Logan Circle neighbor and fellow biker, I get it that 14th street is a bicycle dangerzone. But that doesn’t mean taking the sidewalk is totally okay. You can be a better neighbor and bike community member and take a minute to bike (or walk your bike) one block away and take the 15th street bike lanes.

        Until then, as a pedestrian I promise to continue playing walker vs biker chicken on the sidewalk and lecturing you when you do not yield. Because I’m kind of a grumpy old man when it comes to this.

    • justinbc

      It was usually beer trucks when I was taking it.

  • they should print them in spanish for Columbia Hts

  • Yeah, I just disagree with these signs. Sometimes it really is safer to ride on the sidewalk. But I guess “only ride on the sidewalk if you really have to, and be mindful of pedestrians because it’s really their turf” is too nuanced to put on a sign. Cue an emotion-laden comment war…

  • I agree with the idea but usually people ride bikes on the sidewalk because the road is not perceived to be safe. Other use it for convenience (for instance using the sidewalk to travel the opposite way on a 1-way street). If the DDOT wants to embark on this campaign then it should consider putting much bigger signs where cyclists can see them (for instance, at intersections instead of mid-block, or in front of bike racks) and consider more safety and convenience improvements such as protective barriers and 2-way cycletracks.

  • Worth noting that in Logan (and anywhere else in DC not in the “Central Business District”) it’s absolutely legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, provided cyclists yield to pedestrians. DDOT map: http://ddot.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ddot/publication/attachments/dc_central_business_district_bikes_0.pdf

    • The sign does not say that riding in the sidewalk is illegal. DDOT is imploring people to do what it perceives as safe, not what it perceives as lawful.

    • The law needs to be changed on this matter, IMHO. The city is now much denser than “Central Business District”. I’d say sidewalks should be off-limits inside of Florida Avenue. No one should be riding on the sidewalk in Adams Morgan, 14th Street, or U Street. There’s way too many pedestrians nowadays.

    • worth noting that, unless you are traveling at a speed which matches the pedestrians around you, it is impossible to properly yield to pedestrians in congested areas such as logan circle. weaving, passing closely, ringing your bell, or expecting other people to get out of your way does not constitute yielding. if you are properly yielding, you may as well forget your bike if you want to travel on a busy sidewalk.

  • i was hit by a cyclist while walking down 16th street. he was going very fast and i did not see him riding behind me. i stepped to the right abruptly to avoid a puddle and it was at the perfect time…bam afterward, he didn’t stop but he did scream at me that i can’t just all of a sudden move to the right… cyclists should stay in an area for wheeled vehicles. the road.

    • I was hit by a cyclist on the sidewalk of 22nd street while walking with my 2 year old. I had to grab her out of the way as the biker went by. Luckily, I was only badly bruised, and the cyclist did stop and was rattled and apologetic. I get that the street is not always the safest, but then simply walk your bike on the sidewalk. Seriously – we were lucky that I was hit instead of my daughter. By the way – the cyclist was on a capital bike share – still haven’t seen anyone competent riding one of those …

      • justinbc

        Many people who own bikes use Capital Bikeshare as well, for instances when they only want or need to bike one way. Of course, their level of competence (and my own) is easily debatable.

      • “By the way – the cyclist was on a capital bike share – still haven’t seen anyone competent riding one of those …” Oh please, now I have to wonder whether the rest of your story is also a lie.

        • We see what we want to see. I’ve never seen any well-behaved 2-year-olds, doesn’t mean they aren’t out there somewhere.

          • I think it’s way more likely that there is a competent CABI rider out there than a well behaved 2 year old. That’s just not how they’re made…

          • Seriously – even a not well-behaved 2 year old should be safe on a sidewalk. capital bikeshare or not…..

    • I was almost hit by a guy on Florida Ave when he came flying up behind me and my dog at the intersection with North Capitol. He was riding on the sidewalk on the left side of the road, very fast, and had to abruptly swerve when I stepped into his path. He got all pissed at me because, 1. I didn’t have eyes in the back of my head; 2. I wasn’t watching for a bike to come flying by on the left side of the road, and 3. my dog had the gall to not be paying attention.

  • It probably won’t work, but I appreciate the thought. I was nearly mowed down by bikers on M St. in Georgetown on Sunday. They just forced their way through the pedestrian traffic.

  • If it’s really a matter of public safety, why don’t they just change the law?

    • I assume they believe a public outreach campaign might be more effective and easier than trying to change the law.

    • justinbc

      Yeah, and while we’re changing public safety laws let’s do something about gun control and Monsanto subsidies and natural gas fracking and Maryland drivers!

    • well for one they would have to look street by street. Sidewalk riding may be absurd on 14th street, but there are other places not too far from the CBD where it isn’t (and where taking the lane can be difficult.) And it can even vary with time of day.

      I do not ride on crowded sidewalks, and when I do ride on a sidewalk, I adjust my speed for the width of the sidewalk and number of pedestrians so that I can properly yield.

  • houseintherear

    DC is welcome to change the law. Until then, I doubt any signage will change the situation.

    • Still, have you EVER seen the law enforced downtown where it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk? I have never seen a bike ticketed there, yet I am constantly dodging bikes on the sidewalk on a daily basis.

      • houseintherear

        I don’t work downtown, so I’m afraid I’m not a good witness either way. I do know that when I bike down there for social stuff/shopping, I know not to go on the sidewalk… but only because I’ve heard the rumors of the law, not because I see it posted anywhere. I wonder if posting signs would help.

      • I’ve never seen anyone ticketed and I’ve been dodging bikers on K Street sidewalks for years. It’s not enforced.

        • they must be gunning for you. I’ve been walking on K st for years and not once have I had to DODGE a biker

  • My girlfriend was struck by a bicyclist on the sidewalk at Thomas Circle and 14th street a few months back and I’m still mad about it. The biker was weaving in and out at high speed trying to avoid pedestrians like he thought it was some sort of video game. And of course he acted like it was her fault that she didn’t dive out of the way. He definitely did NOT apologize. In hindsight I wonder if this behavior is technically a hit and run.

    Would really love to see some more monitoring and ticketing of bicyclists like this who are putting people in danger. The behavior is completely unacceptable. Yes, I’m sure it’s a handful of cyclists who give the rest a bad name, etc. etc, blah blah blah. So the best thing for the good cyclists is to crack down on the bad ones to help clear your name. Bikers do not have the right to put pedestrians at risk or to injure them.

    • gotryit

      “So the best thing for the good cyclists is to crack down on the bad ones to help clear your name.”
      That is the job of the Police.

      • Yeah, you’re right, it’s the job of the police too. But you’ll see a lot of kneejerk defense of other bicyclists, even when they’re putting pedestrians in danger. Would help if more were on board with the notion of keeping everyone safe.

        • gotryit

          It is not my job to “crack down” on other bikers. At all. I may criticize them when I see them doing something that endangers people, but I can’t arrest or ticket them.
          Do you run after jaywalkers?

          • Excellent job of making ExWalbridgeGuy’s point by engaging in knee-jerk defense of bicyclists. I admit I’m not a “regular,” but I’m pretty sure not a thread on this goes by without your jumping in repeatedly to explain that cyclists are always right and everyone else is wrong. Wonder why people don’t like the Tea Party wing of the cycling community?

    • Can the same be said for other road users? How about we agree that it’s the best thing for the good drivers to crack down on the bad ones to help clear their names.

    • See? The problem is “speed,” not necessarily cyclists. Anyone going fast on a sidewalk, including joggers, is a menace because of speed. Speed kills.

    • So you expect cyclists to police themselves? In a country with guns? And road rage? And angry people at every turn? I’ll never forget the time I tried to suggest an elderly lady should pick up her dog’s poop from a children’s soccer field. If she’d had a gun I might not be able to write this. I think I”ll mind my own business and let moron cyclists, drivers and pedestrians work it out amongst themselves.

    • I think (hope?) that when ExWalbridgeGuy suggested that cyclists “crack down” on misbehaving cyclists, he meant not “Take them to task on the road” but “Express disapproval of bad cyclist behavior on online forums.”

  • It’s been so great watching more bike lanes go up but especially riding downtown, some intersections are downright treacherous for bike riders. I was recently in Austin, TX and the city planners had changed parking lanes so that the little, skinny bike lanes were IN BETWEEN the curb and the row of parked cars. I was so impressed – much safer for riders – wish we could do that here! Bikes on sidewalk are a bad idea though.

    • justinbc

      That would never work here, people would just park on top of them and not be ticketed. Then if you’re biking along and encounter that you don’t even have the option to weave back into regular traffic to avoid it.

    • Were there any issues with cars going into bikelane when parellel parking or is there a divider of some sort? I’ve never seen bike lanes like this, so I’m really curious. They sound like they make much more sense.

    • this creates a blind spot at every intersection and puts cyclists in more harm (you can’t see around parked cars, and also being closer to the center of the intersection provides better visibility in general and allows more distance to stop before collisions). the last time i heard, cyclists in austin weren’t corralled into bike lanes, and were allowed to use the full lanes just like autos. a shame if that has changed…

    • We have that with the 15th street cycle track. It’s a one-way street with the cycle track on the left side, next to the sidewalk with a row of parked cars to the right. Left turns for cars are now only allowed on a left turn arrow to avoid bike/car conflict at intersections. It works quite well.

    • It works fine on L Street NW where this exact situation is already in-place.

  • Having recently started biking after primarily walking, I resolved to only ride in the streets knowing how annoying bikers on the sidewalk are. I threw my resolve right out the window after my first ride to work. I followed the laws, stopped at stoplights, and stayed in the right lane- almost got taken out by a couple of buses and had a host of commuters swerving around me too close to comfort at speeds I couldn’t reach.
    If there’s a bike lane, that’s absolutely my first choice. But if there’s not, and I need to use a heavily trafficked road to get where I’m going, I’m riding on the sidewalk and taking those salty look I used to throw at bikers when walking. I’d rather get hit with those than with a bus.
    Hopefully the city continues to put in more bike lanes and riders choose to use those. It’s ideal that bikers/walkers/drivers each have their own space. Think those signs would better serve though if they reminded the bikers that do ride on sidewalks not be dicks, pass pedestrians with caution, and realize that just because they’re bigger and faster they don’t have the right of way.

    • gotryit

      Please take a WABA city cycling class. Or at least read their tips. Very helpful when I first started.

    • justinbc

      If you’re going to be a responsible biker (not you personally, but anyone) then it behooves you to find out what bike lanes are nearby your normal commute, or whatever it is you’re using your bike for. Many people choose the option of biking down a sidewalk than the street, while not realizing just one street over is a perfectly usable bike lane.

    • maxwell smart

      “…almost got taken out by a couple of buses and had a host of commuters swerving around me too close to comfort at speeds I couldn’t reach.” Depending on where you are biking in from – to, there are generally several routes you could take that offer varying degrees/speeds of traffic. I think many cyclists get in this thinking that “I’m a bicycle so I can go the absolute most direct way to wherever I am going, even if that means taking a sidewalk, going the wrong way down the street or biking on a road that is unsafe” when often a block or two in either direction has a safer route.

    • There’s a lot to learn to navigate the streets of DC with confidence. Avoiding heavily trafficked roads is usually easy. Using bikelanes is increasingly easy. Taking the lane so the bus doesn’t squeeze by you is relatively easy, even when the Metro bus driver honks at you. Riding on the sidewalk may seem easiest, but it is probably the most dangerous place to be on a bike – not because a pedestrian might assault you but because you must navigate in a far more complex dimension at every intersection, crosswalk and alleyway.

  • Not as bad as the girls on bikeshare bikes I saw last week, slowly peddling in the car lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue, squeezing between parked cars and buses, when there are awesome bike lines right smack in the middle of the street (and no, they weren’t turning or anything else that would maybe warrant riding in the car lane). I think the only thing that would have been worse would’ve been if they were going against traffic.

    As someone who isn’t the most confident cyclist, I totally get riding on the sidewalk if there are no bikelanes as long as you always yield to peds, but if there’s a bikelane, USE IT.

  • I ALWAYS use bike lanes when the are available and always bike on 14th st as well unless I’m a block away and trying to access a Capital Bikeshare station or bike parking BUT one a lot of unstriped streets cars will drive like crazy whipping around cyclists or riding up behind them. Even in bike lanes, half the time there is a car parked and I’ve had a cab pull over 20 feet ahead of me and come to a full stop in the lane to pick someone up completely oblivious of me. That said when I do feel the need to use sidewalks I always move slowly and carefully to avoid pedestrians. If you want more people to ride in the street, the main issue to tackle is unsafe drivers.

    • +1 If I ever need to ride on the sidewalk, I go very slowly when there are people around and never just come up behind someone and ring my bell or something for them to get out of my way. I’m totally ok with going pedestrian speed unless there’s a clearing and I can move a little faster. The last time I rode on 14th Street an SUV swerved into the bikelane and came to a complete stop right in front of me and just stood there. It was during rush hour, so a few feet closer and I would’ve smashed into him since there was no way I could’ve swerved into the car lane without getting hit.

  • People bike on the roads due to a design failure on DDOT’s part – their roads aren’t safe. They have a sign along Mass Av, which you’d have to be insane to bike on during rush hour. As cited earlier, bikes are allowed on sidewalks outside the CBD. Rather than cycle-shaming, DDOT should focus on the people most likely to kill you: MD drivers.

  • If all the bike lanes were like 15th street, completely cordoned off from cars, I wouldn’t ever ride on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Me getting hit by a car is much, much more dangerous than me walking and getting hit by a bike. So when I choose to be healthier and save money, sometimes I will go on the sidewalk because the alternative of getting honked at, swiped off the road and tail-gated by a car when all I have is a helmet, is too much of a risk. Riding on the road can be very scary when there’s no line b/t cars and bikes, and I’ll deal with a mean look from a walking person vs. getting a broken leg.

    • They need to make all bike lanes in the city into cycletracks, where the bikers ride between the sidewalk and parked cars. Unfortunately, drivers are terrible in this region and pose a huge threat to biker safety, so I understand why some need to get off the road.
      Once major building construction is finished on 14th Street, they should focus on turning that bike lane into a proper cycletrack stretching from Columbia Heights and down into the city center.

    • As a pedestrian, I can’t stand bikers zipping by me or having the gall to ding at me to get out of the way. As a driver, bikers who take the lane can’t get up to speed on the green light and waste my time. Biking is a third mode that doesn’t fit sidewalks or roads. If the city wants to have full on cycle commuting they should get rid of street parking and make a real protected bike lanes on every street south of florida.

      • maxwell smart

        “As a driver, bikers who take the lane can’t get up to speed on the green light and waste my time.” Okay, well there is no universe where a bike is going to be able to accelerate from a dead stop at the same speed as a car, so I guess everyone on a bike is wasting your time.

        • Correct. Exactly why in an efficient system they should have a dedicated lane. Get rid of residential street parking on one side of the street and give it to the bikers.

      • I don’t know. Most places where I take the lane are in heavy traffic, so I actually have to accelerate slowly on my bike so as to not rear end the car in front of me!

    • Maybe we pedestrians should start wearing helmets to deal with inconsiderate cyclists who treat sidewalks as if they are the bike lanes. We don’t have to move for you on sidewalks but we do or we get hurt. Guess you don’t care about that.

  • Anyone else find they also have the issue of sexual harrassment by bikers on the sidewalk? There have been multiple times that I turn around to see a guy on a bike leering at my butt or biking past me slowly, staring me down. I usually say something to them, but it is very unerving, especially at 7am on my walk to work.

  • As someone who recently started biking, I see both sides of this issue. As a pedestrian, I hate bicyclists who take up the entire sidewalk. At the same time, as a cyclist, I frequently have near misses with drivers in streets without dedicated bike lanes (and I’m rather cautious when I bike). I hope that the addition of bike lanes throughout the city will improve the situation for all.

    • I don’t think you get it. The issue is not ‘taking up the entire sidewalk’. It’s getting hit by 200+ pounds moving at 20 mph, or getting the crap scared out of you. With regards to your problems about riding your bike in the street – have you done any research or taken any courses on safe road behavior? You can control how people treat you – for example, if you are biking too close to the edge of the road, people in cars will try to pass whether they have enough space or not. If you bike near the middle of the lane, you will be much safer. While it may not make sense to you, it IS backed up by 50 years of research. There is a wealth of information out there, and alot of it says you are safer on the road than in a bike lane. Virtually all of it says that you are most likely to be injured if you ride your bike on the sidewalk as opposed to in the street.

      • “You can control how people treat you – for example, if you are biking too close to the edge of the road, people in cars will try to pass whether they have enough space or not. If you bike near the middle of the lane, you will be much safer.”

        A month or so ago, I was biking west on Massachusetts and was about to reach the 5th Street intersection. I was in the in the right lane and taking the middle of it to assert my presence in traffic. A driver of a 2,000 lbs. killing machine* zoomed by me with less than 6 inches of clearance to stop at the light first.

        A little over a year ago, I was biking west along Florida and just crossed N. Capital St (on a green) I had gotten about 20 feet past the intersection where I was completely rear ended by someone driving one of those Trailblazer killing machines totally wrecking my rear wheel and leaving me strewn upon the street. Once again, I was riding in the middle of the right lane asserting my presence in traffic.

        The majority of drivers are courteous enough to cyclists, but enough drivers are aggressive enough to make the roads feel unsafe for other users. And that’s what matters.

        “There is a wealth of information out there, and alot of it says you are safer on the road than in a bike lane.”

        LOLWUT? I’m going to assume that you actually mean sidewalk rather than bike lane. But even so, care to cite some of this research?

        • no, I did not mean sidewalk – you should never consider yourself safe if you are biking with speed on a sidewalk. here is a study that does a pretty good job of explaining why you shouldn’t ride a bike on a sidewalk: http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/Accident-Study.pdf “The average cyclist in this study incurs a risk on the sidewalk 1.8 times as great as on the roadway”… while the study actually does advocate for bike lanes, it also shows that on roads where bike lanes are added, the number of accidents involving bikers goes up a larger percentage than the number of bikers using the road, hence, more dangerous…. it’s actually interesting how few good studies there are on this subject, but there are indeed others, and you can find (some) of them through google – several others are only in available in print.

          • Isn’t it possible that the number of accidents increases on streets with bike lanes because the number of people biking on those streets also increases due to the presence of the bike lane…

        • Florida and Massachusetts are major commuter arteries. You are asking for trouble by biking on those roads and they are easily avoided. Yes, bike on the road but that doesn’t mean it is smart to bike on ANY road.

          • The Massachusetts Ave incident was during rush hour, but the Florida Ave incident was late at night (after 10pm on a Saturday, if I remember correctly) and was virtually empty.

            I avoid major arteries when I can, but sometimes they can’t be avoided. And my use of major arteries doesn’t give drivers license to pass at speed without sufficient clearance or directly hit me. Saying that I’m asking for trouble by biking on these roads is blaming the victim.

            If you have better route ideas, I’m all ears.

      • ” The issue is not ‘taking up the entire sidewalk’. It’s getting hit by 200+ pounds moving at 20 mph, or getting the crap scared out of you. ”

        Are there really many people riding at 20MPH on the sidewalks on 14th street?

        The parts of DC (I live in Va) I ride in regularly are in SW and SE. I occasionally take a sidewalk (right now the construciton of the Wharf means the sidewalk on Maine is the best option for me between 7th and 9th) but A. I can’t do 20 MPH unless I’m going downhill – my condition, and my relatively slow hybrid bike don’t allow it B, I would NEVER ride above 5 or 6 MPH or so near pedestrians. Note also riding that fast at intersections with NO peds is dangerous to the cyclist, because of the visibility issue. I save fast riding for the streets, and for trails at times when they have few peds.

        Note even at 6 MPH I will sometimes ring my bell to pass a ped, but I don’t weave, and if there is not room to safely pass, I won’t, If necessary I will dismount and walk my bike.

        • There sure are. 20mph is probably near the top end, but here’s the way 14th street works – it comes down a very large hill from Columbia heights, When people are biking down this hill, they are often going pretty fast. By the time they get to the populated areas of Logan circle (a couple blocks) they have to do the pedaling, but they aren’t tired because they didn’t have to pedal down, and they want to maintain speed, so you have some people going very fast (usually in the street) and then they decide to jump up onto the sidewalk for their last block or two of travel, at which point it becomes a problem. Even when you are just talking about 6 MPH, you are talking about twice the speed of pedestrians, and that is not pleasant to get hit by. as plenty of people in this thread have already said, it’s happened to them. Glad to hear you dismount and walk your bike -hope you start doing it whenever you decide you want to be on the sidewalk.

          • “hope you start doing it whenever you decide you want to be on the sidewalk.”

            Why? quite often in the AM there are zero pedestrians on the stretch of Maine Avenue sidewalk I ride on. Sometimes there are one or two, and I can pass them safely at 6MPH, and if that seems too fast, I can slow to 3MPH pass them and speed up again. Far easier and faster than walking the bike the whole stretch. And I think extremely unlikely to cause a problem.

            You are basically sayig all sidewalks everywhere in DC (elsewhere?) should be off-limits to riding, and I do not think that makes sense.

  • Yeah… especially when I bike down New York Ave. Everyone is safe, except me.

  • Can’t we all just agree that the problem is not cyclists using the sidewalks, it’s the way they use them? If you cycle down the sidewalk, you should slow down, yield to the pedestrians, give them a wide berth, or get off and walk your bike when there is heavy pedestrian traffic. And don’t use the stupid bike bell–it’s not their job to get out of your way.

    I say this as a biker, if I have to (and I rarely do) use a sidewalk, I give total priority to the pedestrians.

    Oh, and I just avoid 14th street altogether (15th has bike lanes and is only one block over, worth going slightly out of one’s way).

    • I agree with all of the above EXCEPT that to me ringing the bell does NOT mean “get out of my way”. Its simply a warning I am passing. Unlike a car my bike is pretty quiet. I can keep saying “bike passing” or “excuse me” but at some point that gets pretty trying.

      Ringing a bike bell is not the same as honking a horn.

      • And honking a horn is not nearly as offensive as many around here seem to think it is.

      • I am with you! It’s more of a warning to prevent peds from wandering too far over, not a signal I plan to mow them over if they’re in my way. People walking tend to spread out over the whole width of a walkway (even when the probability is 100% that someone is going to overtake them, like on the path along Rock Creek Parkway where there are tons of runners as well as cyclistsI) and to weave around on sidewalks. I wish I had a bell when I’m walking for the same reason.

  • not to start a different conversation, but as a runner I often run in the bike lanes of capitol hill and get some of the most salty looks from bikers. When cars are present with bikes – I’ll run on the bricks until they pass, but otherwise I figure bikes can “share the road” – is this wrong?

    • Yes. It is wrong.

    • There are tons of pathways around the area to run.

    • I think it’s wrong. I am a runner and I run all over this town. The bike lane is part of the street, and I don’t run in the street unless I’m crossing it or there is something blocking the sidewalk.

    • Speaking as a cyclist, a big chunk of the cyclist mentality defies rational thought. Generalizing here, but many cyclists will give a salty look to anyone who slows down their ride. So don’t take it personally. I think the biggest problem here may be the speed differential. Joggers are usually much slower than cyclists in bike lanes. The bike lanes are made specifically for high speed movement, so people who slow down that movement (whether joggers or other, slower cyclists) are probably fair game for throwing shade.

      Now, as to a legal question — many places prohibit pedestrians from walking on an adjacent roadway when a sidewalk is present, and a bike lane is part of the road way. On the other hand, it’s perfectly legal for cyclists to use the car lanes even if a bike lane is present. Whether it’s safe to do so is another matter.

    • Well, it’s illegal where there is a sidewalk. If that’s what you mean by “wrong.”

    • OMG I HATE YOU!!!!!!! Why should bikes have to “share the road” when there is a lane dedicate to them? Why can’t you share the sidewalk? You have a sidewalk, use it. If you can’t handle uneven bricks, run at a track. I say this as a runner (one who has ripped through two pairs of tights tripping while running (I’m also a klutz)) and a cyclist. A cyclist shouldn’t have to swerve into the street and put themselves at risk of getting hit by a car, because you’re hogging the BIKE lane. It’s bad enough when people run against traffic, but it’s the absolute worst when they run in the direction of traffic so they can’t hear me when I approach, and I get stuck behind them until they get out of lala land and notice there’s someone behind them. Actually, no, the absolute worst is when they do this WITH HEADPHONES ON. Those people deserve to get doored in the face. Ugh, just run on the sidewalk.

      Sorry for the caps, but I live on Capitol Hill, and am incredibly annoyed by people like you.

      • Not a runner or a biker(or a driver – just a metro/walker/uber) – but I find this a bit ironic coming from the bikers. Also runners may be threaten by all the bikers on the sidewalk.

    • when I used to run I would do the same thing, because the concrete is much less forgiving, but I would run very early in the morning when no one was out and the lanes and roads had very little traffic. I can understand you wanting to run on asphalt, I just recommend you do it at a time when it isn’t obstructive.

    • Would you run in the road and force cars to go into another traffic lane? Then why would you do that to a bike?

    • Dude, don’t be a dick. Run on a trail or the sidewalk. If the sidewalk’s are too crowded, find a quieter route.
      I’m not even a cyclist and I think that’s a jerk move.

    • Yes, its’ wrong. But whatever you do please don’t walk your dog in the bike lane.

  • There is a time and a place for biking on the sidewalk for example going from Dupont to Union station via Mass ave is a dangerous bike route on the road and usually has few pedestrians on the sidewalk. It’s contextual and bikers with common sense will always do what keeps them safe in the real world, despite whatever laws might exist.

  • I am new to riding in DC. It is scary so:

    (1) I ride the bike lanes where I’m comfortable.
    (2)If I’m not comfortable, I walk my bike on the sidewalk.
    (3) Only ride on the sidewalk when it’s vacant and I’m going to stop ASAP.

    I’ve had a kid run into me on 16th. It is past time to prohibit cycling on the sidewalks, especially ColHts. There needs to be signage in Spanish. There needs to be enforcement.

    There needs to be enforcement of people parking in the bike lanes. Drivers needs to be educated on bike safety as well. Cyclists needs to not run red lights because you can injure or kill a pedestrian.

    The sidewalks of ColHts need to be maintained so that motor wheelchairs can use them without breaking their machine.

    Hope that covered everybody.

  • I am a cyclist, a motorist, and a pedestrian in DC and when I bike, I take all of those perspectives into account in determining the safest route. I’ve seen two bicyclist get hit on the 15th St cycle track, near P st, in Logan Circle. That’s probably the safest bicycle track in all of DC – and still these people got hit. The 14th Street cycle lanes are 10 times more more dangerous than the one on 15th St. Because of this, when I need to ride on 14th St, I ride on the sidewalk. I will continue to do so until DDOT provides a safer option on 14th St. Something similar to the 15th St track (although not perfect) would still be a massive improvement over what’s in place currently. Pedestrians and motorists need to understand that they do not “own” the sidewalk or the road – they have to share with bicyclists. This is not an entitlement thing – it’s just a fact, and one that’s not going to change for a while. Rather than continuing to get agitated, it would be better to accept that living in a city involves sharing space.

    • Except pedestrians sort of DO own the sidewalk. That is why it is called sideWALK not sidebike. If the road is too dangerous to bike on, you can either walk your bike on the sidewalk or be mindful of pedestrians when you bike. You are not entitled to ding your bell at me or weave around me. However, by being on the sidewalk as a pedestrian, I am actually entitled to have a safe walkway without fear of being hit by a deadly weapon.

      • My motto is – pedestrian pace in a pedestrian place.

        But im not sure I get the thing about dinging. Suppose you are the only ped on an 8 foot sidewalk, say. There is clearly room for a cyclist to pass. But OTOH if you happened to swerve into the cyclist’s path a collision could result. Shouldn’t the cyclist ring just to let you know they are passing? I sometimes say “excuse me” in those circumstances. But is ringing a bell really that much worse?

  • I am doing whatever needs to be done to get from point A to point B without harming others or being harmed myself. I have walked, run, cycled, and driven this city for almost a decade. I have been hit by a car while crossing the street in a crosswalk. I once had to knock on the window of a car that was about to sideswipe me as I cycled in the next lane. I have been hit by other cars in my own automobile. No amount of vigilance will keep the other person from not looking/seeing you. All you can do is try to minimize your risk. If that means riding in the sidewalk sometimes, so be it (outside of the CBD, of course). However, be respectful about it. Match the traffic speed if you can’t get around people. Signal your approach. Be courteous. Ride around others the way you’d like them to ride around you.

  • I was always taught “it’s a sidewalk, not a side ride,” when I was learning how to ride a bike, but that was in the suburbs of Massachusetts a lifetime ago. I no longer ride a bike (knee problems) so come at this from mainly a pedestrian perspective. I’ve been hit a couple of times by bicyclists and yelled at by quite a few more, simply because I moved into their path. What I don’t understand is the idea somehow, as a pedestrian, I should be able to understand who/what is coming from behind me and get out of their way. When you learn to ski, you learn that safety is the responsibility of the uphill skier – the one who can see what’s going on. Why is the same not expected by cyclists who choose to use the sidewalk?

    • justinbc

      The onus is definitely on the biker behind you. There are lots of pricks though, just like their are prick runners, prick people with strollers, whatever, who expect you to anticipate whatever is going on behind you.

  • Hmmm….last Friday I was walking Cap Bikeshare bike on a pedestrian crossing (K street and Conn Ave NW)….the pedestrian light was green for me. A tourist bus blatantly turned right and almost hit me WHILE I was crossing on a green light….another one right behind him did the same thing and there I was standing with a bike in awe! I think I will keep on using sidewalks and ride a bike safely while respecting the rights of pedestrians until the DC drivers…and visitors will learn more road manners and will not try to run me over every time I ride and follow all the rules.

    • ok so i don’t really get why this experience of almost getting mowed down in a crosswalk makes you think it’s a safe place to be biking….

  • Tricky. It’s an issue of speed again. Cycling fast on the sidewalk is bad. Going leisurely so you have time to react, no so much. District construction projects and cars parked in bike lanes do at times force cyclists onto the sidewalk.

  • I bike everywhere, and hardly ever post here. I find it really surprising the number of cyclists who are defending their right to ride on the sidewalk – whether its because the streets are in bad condition, or because they are uncomfortable riding in the street around cars. If riding in the street is too daunting for you, is there some reason that you can’t dismount your bike, walk your bike on the sidewalk at the same pace as the pedestrians? What is is that’s so important in your life that necessitates that you ride your bike on the sidewalk?

    Oh – off topic – but cyclists who ride the wrong way in bike lanes are dicks. Pretty sure that they know they’re dicks too, and just don’t care.

    • I actually would much rather ride at walking pace then get off my bike, but only cuz I sometimes bike in skirts or shorts that ride up and I don’t want to give pedestrians more of a show than I can help.

      • Then wear something more suitable for biking. That’s on you to rectify the situation and keep pedestrians safe.

      • Agree, if that’s the issue then wear something more suitable for biking. Don’t inconvenience others on account of your wardrobe choice.

        • Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk outside of the central business district is explicitly permitted by DC law (http://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/ChapterHome.aspx?ChapterNumber=18-12). If you contend that they shouldn’t because you don’t like it, I’m not sure the cyclist is the one who is being the self-important prick. (Note that I say this as a guy who walk almost everywhere, takes out a zipcar about twice a year, and hasn’t ridden a bike since about 1997.)

        • How am I putting anyone at risk if I ride at the same pace as someone walking? I’ll scooch along using my feet v. pedaling if I have to and I never ring a bell at someone or expect people to get out of my way.

      • I do something similar. I hate to walk far in flip flops so i park in the bike lane when i get take out. Like you I value my wardrobe choice over biker safety.

    • “If riding in the street is too daunting for you, is there some reason that you can’t dismount your bike, walk your bike on the sidewalk at the same pace as the pedestrians? What is is that’s so important in your life that necessitates that you ride your bike on the sidewalk?”
      Answer: people are self-important pricks.

    • Yep. If you aren’t comfortable riding quickly through traffic, you may be better suited to a lower impact method of transport, such as bus. Upstream salmoning is incredicly dicky. Generally those are the fuckers who ride at night without lights, as well.

    • Isn’t riding a bike dlowly down the sidwalk vs. walking your bicycle a difference witihout much of a distinction? When I walk without a bike, the only cyclists I ever cuss at are the ones who go too fast. If someone peddles slowly, it’s not a threat. You know, baby strollers can be menacing too. or at least the way some people push them :^)

      • If it were legal, would you ride your bike at a metro station where there are lots of people walking in close proximity of each other? I’m not you – but I’m guessing you probably wouldn’t. At slow speeds, you have much more control of your bike – and are less confrontational to pedestrians – when you’re dismounted and walking it than when you’re peddling at a slow pace.

        • I walk, and I bike… I conclude after many years the problem is speed, whether it’s a cyclist or a jogger or a pram pusher. I have never felt threatened walking down the sidewalk by a biker going slowly. But I have been clipped and frightened countless times by bikers going fast. (Did I mention as I left work yesterday a group of joggers bursting forth from a gym nearly mowed me down running en masse down the pavement?) The problem is speed, whatever the bulk it propels.

    • They aren’t dicks. They’re salmon and we all know what happens to salmon swimming upstream.

  • In my experience, the vast majority of people who ride their bikes on sidewalks 1) appear to be novice, or at the very least, non-expert riders, 2) don’t understand that peds have the right of way and they shouldn’t expect them to move out of the way for bike riders. I notice a lot of bikeshare riders, young men who appear to be using bikes to get to/from jobs, and teenagers.

    I had a near miss this weekend simply doing some landscaping work outside. Kid on a bike was travelling at a high speed on the sidewalk (riding the wrong way down a one way street as an added touch). i didn’t see him and we very nearly collided (I was able to jump out of the way at the last second).

    After people who drive too fast and generally disregard traffic laws, cycling on sidewalks is my second biggest pet peeve. I wish it were illegal AND enforced by MPD.

  • Maybe the solution is to make more bike lanes. Whenever there is a bike lane, I use it. But, when there isn’t a bike lane on a major road, and I don’t feel safe, I take the sidewalk—riding slowly enough that I can make sure all pedestrians can see me (by saying “excuse me”).

  • One of my biggest pet peeves are jackasses on bikes who don’t even bother to use a good cycletrack when it’s available to them. Last week on 15th Street, a woman was riding on the far right side automobile lane as she headed north, thus blocking traffic during rush hour. There’s a perfectly acceptable cycletrack just 40 feet away! Use what you’ve been given to keep you safe, FFS!

    • Where on 15th though? Because once you get to V St, the the segregated bikelane ends and you have to navigate 2-ish lanes (it’s technically one, but it’s a wide lane) to get to the bike lane portion on 15th. And if she was planning on turning east onto W or Florida, being in the right lane makes some sense.

      Sorry you were inconvenienced for a minute though.

    • Ok so you have no idea where the biker was going or why she wasin that lane, but it doesn’t sound like you think their behavior was aggressive, you were just disrespected because they were in what you call the ‘automobile lane’. I think there are probably a number of reasons she could have been in this lane, as listed by Nic above, but I’ll add a couple more. #1 is perfectly legal – its not an ‘automobile lane’, and you don’t have exclusive rights – look it up. #2 I’m not sure if you are qualified to assess how acceptable the cycletrack is or not, but I can tell you that using the cycle track adds serious additional risk that does not exist if one operates in the roadway (provided they are not biking against traffic…)

  • I am an avid cyclist who rides all over DC and I have to say that I don’t think that feeling unsafe on a road without a bike lane is an excuse to ride on the sidewalk. It is your job to find a route that you feel comfortable riding. If a road it really busy and there is no bike lane, try a different road. Its not rocket science. There are hundreds and hundreds of safe roads to ride all over DC. If you aren’t comfortable riding in in the street, you shouldn’t ride your bike downtown, especially during rush hour.

    • gotryit

      Ever been on Michigan / Irving by the Washington Hospital Center? If I can’t get up to at least 20-25 mph, I go on the sidewalk. Cars hit about 45-50 there, and I very rarely meet a person walking there.
      What other good cross-town route is there?

      • For what it’s worth, I believe that along Michigan, the sidewalk *is* the bike lane. I’m pretty sure there’s a sign that says that bikes should be on the sidewalk soon after you reach Michigan Ave from Kenyon Street. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden that way though because even crossing the on/off-ramps along that road isn’t fun.

        • gotryit

          You’re right, except that it’s a “bike route”, which doesn’t mean much. It’s like putting sharrows on the sidewalk. I wish the city would put in a bike lane east-west along there.

      • That stretch of Michigan really ins’t that bad. Just take a lane and ride fast. NY, Canal, Capitol, and Bladensburg are way more unfun to ride.

        • gotryit

          When I have 100+ lbs of crap on my bike coming from home depot, I can’t ride that fast. What’s wrong with riding on the sidewalk there?

      • Irving Street on the north side of the hospital has a dedicated trail. Use that? My guess is that Michigan Ave isn’t a priority when there’s an actual trail just north of it. I’d rather see some solid cycletracks installed on the main diagonal routes, like RI Ave or New York Ave.

    • Outside of the Central Business District, cycling on the sidewalk is explicitly permitted by DC Law(http://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/ChapterHome.aspx?ChapterNumber=18-12). Thus, no excuse needed. Just do it safely. (I saw this as a guy who walk everywhere and hasn’t ridden a bike since 1997.)

  • Why can’t we just have bike lanes on the road AND the sidewalks, the way they do in Europe?
    For portions where road- travel is dangerous, there’s a dedicated bike lane on the sidewalk and pedestrians have plenty of warning to stay out of it or risk injury.

    • You’ll have to be a bit more specific than “Europe” if you want to make an argument like that.

  • I am perfectly happy to use the bike lanes – in fact, I am so happy to live it a city with so many bike lanes. What I don’t like is the taxis, UPS, Fedex, other delivery trucks and oblivious drivers that think the bike lanes are their personal parking spots or driving lanes.

  • What makes you think the bicyclists could read that signage looking down?? They have hard time looking up and reading a red and white sign that says “STOP!”

  • Given the marvelous driving abilities of many our our commuters, you are no safer on the sidewalk than you are in the street.

  • Funny that the d. sign uses a Metro bus as part of it’s push to get bikes into the street. I can’t count the times I’ve nearly been killed by Metro buses, who generally ignore bike lanes and seem to target cyclists for sport. I agree that bikes on sidewalks aren’t good and I feel guilty and try to be very careful when I do it, but until the day when a DC cop for the first time tickets a car/taxi/truck in a bike lane, or the bike lanes aren’t filled with potholes (11th St.), you’re going to find cyclists doing what they can to survive. Painting lines on a street is meaningless if no one in authority respects it.

  • I bike with a 4 year old on kids seat. We have to go 1mile east or west right thru center of Columbia heights for school. Not a single bike lane exists between w st and petwoth going east/west and roads are narrow. Sorry but we ride on sidewalk on the busy streets. Simply no other safe way.

    • +1. I’m a dedicated biker and generally use bike lanes, but when I have my kids along on their bikes, the bike lane is not an option, too many cars blocking the lane. So yes, my 7 year old will ding at you, but she is also overly cautious and careful never to hit anyone. But, seriously, pedestrians, when a little kid is coming toward you on a bike van you not play “chicken” and at least look up from your stupid iPhone while you are walking. I’m not saying meet us halfway, but at least act like you live in community where there is some give and take. Ps: you were probably the same people who could not be bothered to stop walking three abreast when approached by a parent pushing a stroller.

      • You had me until your “ps.” I have encountered the opposite problem way more frequently. A parent with an SUV-sized doublewide stroller barreling through a crowded sidewalk or Metro platform not caring if they run over your foot. Sure I’m going to step out of the way if there’s room, but courtesy goes both ways. Just because you had a kid does not make you more special than everyone else.

  • I’m a dedicated walker and cyclist, and I have to say, I couldn’t care less about the safety of pedestrians. Get a bike. It’s a way faster way to get around.

  • I’m sure those of you who are unhappy about bikes on sidewalks are going to planning meetings to ask for better bike infrastructure. Right?

  • My dog (walking pretty close to me on the leash) was smacked in the ear by a cyclist whizzing by on the sidewalk – on Harvard St- but it wasn’t even a busy or fast-moving traffic situation, so I really don’t understand why the guy didn’t ride on the street. Still kinda traumatized, I am much more wary of the numerous cyclists on the sidewalk of columbia road where I live, so I always pull over and let them pass when I have my dog with me just because I am responsible for my dog’s safety, not them. A couple weeks ago, one such passer had the balls to say “just keep walking” as if he was annoyed that I had stopped to let him pass. I totally get being scared of traffic on some roads (why I don’t cycle in the city myself), but I do think that means you should have to walk your bike when you get on the sidewalk until you reach a safer road.

  • When I first moved to DC, I was shocked when walking and cyclists would come up fast behind me on the sidewalk (ringing or calling out, or not) because of the 5 cities I’ve lived in, this is the first one I’ve lived in where it is actually legal to bike on the sidewalk. I was surprised when I first read that. I used to yell at the cyclists to ride in the street before that. A perfectly logical assumption, given the laws and/or cycling customs in other cities in this country (including the largest city, and formerly second largest, where people never ride on the sidewalk.) I don’t think it is safe to have cyclists ride on the sidewalk.

    That said, I rode my bike in those other cities, and I don’t here – I only ride outside the city. I find this city really scary to bike in. And that’s saying a lot, given that I’ve ridden in the largest city, and formerly second largest city, and the smaller city known far and wide to have the worst motorists anywhere in this country (where making a turn from 3 or 5 lanes over to the other side of the road is common.) Riding in the street in DC should be made safer for cyclists.

  • IMHO, as a bicycle currier for over 8 years back when bike lanes didn’t exist and even today, I always walk my bike on the sidewalk and/or through a cross walk. What ever happened to common courtesy?

    As for bike lanes, they only provide a false sense of security and are a wast of money. Worse, bike riders now feel they own the road and no longer watch for traffic. Some people are just not meant to ride a bike and a dedicated bike lane isn’t going to help them. Personally, I think bike lanes are a waist of money and are placed on a section of the road I would rarely travel as a bicyclist. Parked cars on one side and a car that has no idea of where I am in the lane to my right. The idea that they provide bicyclist a safer place to ride now then a time before bike lanes existed, is delusional.

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