The driver explained to me that the bollards were meant to be run over in emergencies…”

1st Street Cycletrack near Union Station

Good grief. A reader reports:

“This morning at 7:15. The driver explained to me that the bollards were meant to be run over in “emergencies”…”

98 Comment

  • And by “emergency,” he meant “I need to make this delivery”? This doesn’t look like an ambulance or fire truck.

  • Oh right…that ThermoKing delivery is the very definition of “emergency.” Jerk.

  • must be the august trend. i saw a woman driving the wrong way on 15th street in the bike path last night

  • maxwell smart

    I used to enjoy biking to work. Now I dread it, and it’s because of things like this. It makes my blood boil.

  • Probably true. Not sure if this qualifies as an emergency but it was most likely temporary. Bikers can dismount, walk around the truck and continue on their merry way. A 30 sec interruption.

    • Really no different than an uber driver, taxi, delivery person, food pickup car double parking with hazards on outside of a store. Cars just merge around. Happens every day, all day.

      • Assuming you are not trolling, it is different. Even so people blocking a lane of trafficking so they can run in somewhere is incredibly frustrating. You are not more important than everyone else and you don’t get to inconvenience other people just because you are too lazy to walk from a legal parking spot. It happens more in DC then anywhere else I have live.

        • YES this is such a DC thing. People just stop their cars wherever the hell they want in this city and I’ve never seen anything like it elsewhere.

      • The important thing is what’s convenient for the driver breaking the law to the inconvenience of others.

      • maxwell smart

        It’s entitled a-holes like you that have made biking in this city a frustrating and dangerous experience. A bike lane is a PROTECTED lane for cyclists. It is NOT for deliveries, cab pick-ups, drop-offs, walking, running, or any other usage other than for riding a bike. When the bike lane is obstructed by motorists, pedestrians and the like, cyclists are forced to dodge in and out of traffic, completely negating the whole aspect of a protected area for cyclists to be.

        • I guess you missed the part where I said that it wasnt right and he should be ticketed but carry on if it makes you feel better

          • maxwell smart

            I will carry on because your first reaction to this was that it’s no big deal that anyone and everyone who sees fit to use the bike lane for their individual purposes should do so because it’s a minor inconvenience. You obviously don’t bike in DC and have to deal with situations like this multiple times a day. It literally makes my blood boil. I felt safer biking in LA.

        • Settle down, ***. Stacksp didn’t defend the practice. Just noted that being inconvenienced by jerks is not the sole domain of cyclists.

        • I agree it is very frustrating when people misuse things. I just want to point out one other thing:
          “It literally makes my blood boil”
          I don’t think “literally” means what you think it means.

      • It is different. He’s blocking the entire passage in both directions. More on point would be if a bunch of cyclists laid their bikes across a road and told cars to find a way around. Not much of an inconvenience, right?

    • I sincerely hope you are trying to be sarcastic here.

    • Okay, I appreciate your valid point that it’s really not a huge inconvenience, but I think it’s pretty clear this is not an emergency, and therefore the truck isn’t supposed to park in the bike lane.
      Cycling in DC can feel really unsafe some days, and having protected lanes has the potential to make it feel much safer. So when something like this happens it can be a cruel reminder that there are lots of vehicles out there who have no interest in sharing the road, even with really great bike infrastructure. So this isn’t about the 30 second interruption, it’s about a larger annoyance that even with great measures taken, cars and trucks still take the small portions of road designated for bikes, and it does not make cyclists feel safer.

      • I agree. My real point is that these inconveniences aren’t specific to cyclist. Everyone experiences these sort of inconveniences in their daily commute whether walking and a sidewalk is blocked, or a double park car in rush hour traffic or metro delays.

        • Imagine if someone parked their car in the middle of 16th at like 9 am. You know just for like 5 min to drop something off.

          • Frankly you don’t have to imagine it. It happens all the time. Worst is the entire west lane of 19th from M to L is blocked every day at rush hour with multiple delivery trucks and ubers.

        • To the “walking and a sidewalk is blocked,” at least the authorities here find that unacceptable in at least some cases. I called in a car that had parked across the sidewalk (in the entry to a parking lot) and the 311 operator sounded thoroughly disgusted and the police arrived to ticket them within minutes. Meanwhile, this ish goes on daily with both bike and other travel lanes, and it’s all :shrug:. I was driving down H St. the other day and there were 3 cars in a row blocking the streetcar tracks, which additionally held me and a few other drivers up because we didn’t realize the idling cars weren’t waiting for the red light, so now we’ve got the streetcar, a couple of other drivers, and one bus blocked up behind a couple of entitled d-bags. I’d love to track who does this, and see if they write on neighborhood listservs/speak at community meetings/etc. about how bad traffic is.

        • maxwell smart

          There is a MASSIVE difference between being inconvenienced while sitting in your car and having your path of travel blocked by an “emergency delivery” and having to merge into faster moving traffic. This is essentially as if the road was blocked and drivers had to divert to using the metro line as their traffic lane.

          • Oh jeez, you’re really committed to your victimhood, aren’t you. Because your statement here is RIDICULOUS.

          • maxwell smart

            Regardless of the experience of the cyclist, cars move faster and are significantly heavier. Being hit by a 1+ ton vehicle is about the same if the metro plowed into the back of your car. So, no. Not ridiculous.

          • maxwell smart

            FACT: Almost getting side-swipped twice this morning in the bike lane by a Maryland driver on her phone attempting to cut off the line of traffic at the red light and shortcut through the bike lane to make a right turn (onto a street with a NO RIGHT ON RED sign… so she wasn’t going save any time anyway).

          • HaileUnlikely

            Knowing (approximately) where you live, I know you can’t get from home to work without riding on some streets that do not have bike lanes. What do you do when you are on a street that does not have a bike lane, and you encounter a [legally] parked car in front of you? I’m guessing that you go around it (and note that I do not care how you accomplish that, it is not central to my point). Yes, the dolt driving the delivery truck is being selfish and inconsiderate and is breaking the law and deserves a big fat ticket, but you’re making this out to be much more than it is. Yes, you’re supposed to be able to use the bike lane, and he isn’t. But the result, not legally or morally but physically, is basically the same to you as riding along in a street without a bike lane and having to somehow find your way around a car that is parked. What the delivery f*ck did was wrong, but your histrionics are detracting from, not bolstering, your argument.

          • what do you do on streets that don’t have bike lanes? You’re being ridiculous. And you’re right about cars going fast and weighing a ton- yet it doesn’t stop bicyclist from driving on a road like say FL ave and hold up traffic or make cars swerve into the other lane to avoid hitting said bicyclist. And who the hell allowed the cabi’s to bike on Constitution ave during rush hour traffic.

          • maxwell smart

            The difference is that when I am on a road without a bike lane (which I am on 75% of my commute) – I am already folded into the flow of traffic. I am riding in the middle of the lane and fully observing all the vehicles around me – looking for vehicles to pull out at intersections, change lanes, etc. When I am in a protected bike lane I expect that I will be… well protected… and while still observant, not have to worry as much about drivers inferring with my path of travel. At the same token, drivers also know there is a bike lane and have a different level of awareness to what’s around them. I can say as much, having both biked and driven in DC. When the bike lane is obstructed, you now have a situation where bikers are having to dodge in and out of traffic in an environment where the expectation and pace of travel has been established to keep bikes and cars separate. It’s unsafe for cyclists and frankly, unfair to the other drivers on the road who now have unexpected cyclists popping out of the lane.

          • Forcing cyclists to go around you by entering traffic pushes cyclists who may not be comfortable in traffic to merge into lanes used by automobiles. This discourages cycling and creates a dangerous dynamic for both cyclists and motorists. People need to realize that they are not special. If you just want to “run in” to pick up your coffee, etc., then find a parking spot like the rest of us normal people. The only exceptions to this should be for medical emergencies and handicapped people.

          • maxwell smart

            AND speaking from experience, I usually feel more safe and have fewer encounters on roads WITHOUT bike lanes. The worst parts of commute, hands down, are on roads with bike lanes, and it’s because situations like this happen on a daily basis.

      • Explaining to drivers why it’s not cool to stop in a bike lane or across a sidewalk for even 30 seconds is like talking to a impudent child. “Now, Jimmy. What if EVERYONE decided to stop in the bike lane for 30 seconds? No one would ever get anywhere.”

    • You are trolling right?
      Drivers can get out of their cars, push the car around the illegally parked obstacle, and be on their merry way. No problem.

  • I see cars parked on the bollards sometimes, it does not inspire confidence.

  • Well, I think he’s actually right about that, but he doesn’t seem to know what an emergency is.

  • There are seriously some dumb motherf#ckers driving in the DC metro area. I’m talking about drivers who really scrape the bottom of the barrel in terms of IQ points. I’ve never felt this strongly about it before, but I never saw the level of sheer idiocy, simple-minded obliviousness, and pure selfishness from NY or Los Angeles drivers (the only other places where I have done a ton of driving).
    Serious question – WTF is up with this area? Lead poisoning?

    • Come to Toronto. Never in my life have I seen such terrible drivers. The number of terrible accidents speaks to it too. There was one week where I think seven cyclists were hit. Then being a pedestrian is scary AF too! Cars dart into the crosswalks (when I have the legal walk). Yesterday I was in the crosswalk and I was inches from getting hit by a dumb cab who was reversing out of his parallel parking spot. Sure, don’t check your mirrors buddy.

      • Quotia Zelda

        Yes! I absolutely noticed that when Middle Zelda and I were in Toronto last month. I thought maybe it was just my perception, so I’m glad you’ve mentioned it, too.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. Oblivious and selfish is a perfect way to put it, its all about me and getting to my destination is more important than anyone else’s drive. And cell phones made things much worse. I don’t ever go 5 minutes in the car without seeing the person in front of me constantly looking down at their phone.

    • I think the outrage over minor inconveniences such as a blocked lane are often overblown, but I wholeheartedly agree with this point. I have driven extensively in Chicago, Boston, Philly, and NYC and a little in LA, Atlanta, and Miami, and the drivers in the DC region are far and away the worst I have seen. In some cities, most people are aggressive, which can be “bad,” but everyone kind of just goes with it. Here, you have a mix of driving styles and people who honestly don’t seem to pay attention or really get how to navigate roads and deal with other drivers. Its like people are in their own little land. Just my opinion, but it is pretty stark based on my experiences.

    • maxwell smart

      DC has now for multiple years running been ranked #1 as Worst City to Drive and Own a Car. I think a big factor is that you have drivers from all over the world (I usually find vehicles with embassy / ambassador plates to be the absolute worst drivers).

      • Don’t forget the obvious #1 factor: Proximity to Maryland!!! (and I live in MD)

      • I drive quite a bit and I don’t see all that many diplomatic plates on the road. The ones I do see are no worse than anyone else.
        The worst drivers are easily those from the area (MD and DC plates) and any Uber driver who is too busy screwing around with his phone or trying to spot his fare. Two weeks ago an Uber driver coming from the opposite direction turned across my line without warning in order to pick up his fare and I crashed right into the side of his car. I’m currently dealing with his craptastic insurer. They are a plague upon the city streets.

        • maxwell smart

          I probably encounter them more as I am commuting from Upper NW on Connecticut and/or Mass. Ave – so it’s embassy / diplomat residence central.

        • No joke, last week an uber driver pulled the same move just north of 17th/PA Ave and crashed into a Secret Service van. They’re a total menace….

    • +1 lol

      Lead poisoning, self importance, mobile phone addiction, anger issues, etc etc etc…

    • I have always thought that because so many people are politicians, work for politicians, are high powered lawyers/lobbyists that they all thought the were sooooo important that it entitled them to drive/park how they wanted. The attitude just spread like a venereal disease. Now everyone thinks what they want and where they are going is so much more important that literally everyone else’s.

      • I think that’s it. Also, lots of bureaucrats and think-tankers who *know* that moving their piece of paper from one side of their desk to the other is the most important thing in the world. So get out of their way.

    • Completely agree. Drivers here tend to drive the streets as if they are walking the mall. Like the streets are more of a recommendation than an actual path for cars. In my life, I’ve never seen so many 15 point u-turns in the middle of a narrow neighborhood street. Or better yet, turning an intersection into your own private round about while everyone else waits. Also, the pull over thing here is absolutely ridiculous. Drivers pull over with flashers, presumably to pick up a friend, and they do so parallel to an actual parking spot that would be clear of traffic. Traffic is bad here but the drivers are worse.

      • Gaaaah, glad to know that two of my biggest pet peeves are shared by someone else. This city’s laid out on a grid — they could just go around the block, but no, much better to crash into three people while pulling a sudden U-turn to pick up a $3 Uber fare.

  • It’s time to make those bollards out of a material that can really damage a vehicle if they drive over them.

    • I mean, they are meant to flex and be driven over in case of an emergency. But the asshole delivery driver does not get to deem his work an ’emergency’.

  • I only bike 1.5 miles from Logan Circle to NoMa, but it’s weird. I’ll either have a 100% smooth commute in, or it will be littered with obstacles like this. It’s like someone makes an announcement and everyone decides to drive/park like an idiot all at the same time. I’ve kind of become anti-bike lane because there is ZERO enforcement when cars park or sit in them. I feel safer just going with the flow of traffic instead of always weaving around things.

  • Gah. I’ve been seeing a lot more of people doing flagrantly stupid things like this. Or parking in the bike lane when there’s a spot open by the curb RIGHT NEXT TO THEM.
    I’d like to be deputized by the parking police to issue tickets. Just mount one of those automatic things on my bike and let it do the work. I don’t care if it adds 10 pounds.

    • I’d love it if there was a way to upload helmet cam video to the DC parking enforcement via a website and they could issue a ticket via the mail. Give a small percentage (15%) of the fine to the person who sent in the evidence. Win-win for everyone.

      • I’ll do it for 0%. Completely free volunteer. They can even have full access to my phone just to confirm it’s real.
        I’d also like to be able to use this for parking violations on Sundays when the city refuses to enforce.

    • Oh god yes. For years I’ve wanted to be able to write tickets to drivers making turns at the intersection of 7th and H street in Chinatown. I’d use my lunch break and even take time off work to do it as a volunteer. There are like 3 signs per street corner clearly saying NO TURNS, but everyone always does, all the time. I’ve never seen cops write tickets to turning drivers, but I have seen pedestrians get jaywalking tickets there. It makes me irrationally angry like 6 times per day.

    • I’d join your brigade. In the meantime, I’ve started emailing pictures (from my gopro) to the offender’s employer (for company vehicles) and have contemplated posting the pics on social media but I am concerned about crossing that line.

      • I regularly tweet at companies whose trucks I see blocking the L Street bike lane. Have gotten a few responses, even. I’ve called 911 a few times, as well; this is what they tell you to do if you call 311, and the cops do show up (although it takes about 10 minutes).

  • In all fairness – this is the very beginning of this particular stretch of bike lane. It sucks, but you will have just gotten on or off and this block is not as high traffic/dangerous as many others that have bike lanes. Not incredibly hard to cruise around.

  • Someone should lobby the city for a dedicated enforcement brigade (a-la DC Parking enforcement) to patrol the bike lanes and write massive tickets for offenders. One would think the city might respond to a proposal for a new revenue stream.

  • Nothing new here.

  • Genuine curiosity here – would those who park in the bike lane feel the same about parking up on the sidewalk? I hardly ever see someone park on the sidewalk, especially not with the frequency that it seems to happen in other cultures. I find it interesting that bike lanes are treated so differently from sidewalks. Any thoughts why? Is it the physical grade separation? Cultural appreciation for pedestrians that isn’t there for cyclists? Differences in enforcement (which leads back to why the difference in enforcement)?

    • It’s not exactly the same, but I do see trucks parked on sidewalks or walkways pretty frequently- delivery trucks and garbage trucks block the sidewalk on my way to my office constantly because it also happens to be the driveway to the loading area of a business. I do understand that there isn’t a lot of space there to make deliveries, but I really don’t appreciate having to walk into traffic on M street because a delivery truck is blocking the entire sidewalk (especially now that the WaPo building makes traffic a nightmare and has taken away the sidewalk on the other side of the street). I’ve made multiple 311 complaints and I’ve emailed DDOT, someday my pestering them will pay off…right?

    • maxwell smart

      What would be awesome is if the US would build grade separated bike lanes like they have in Europe.

  • This happened in the very same spot yesterday morning. The guys were even motioning for me to “go around” as if there was room left? When I said “where do you want me to go?” one guy in the passenger seat flipped out.

  • dcgator

    I had a fantastic incident with a BMW driver (side note: are all BMW drivers jagoffs, or is it just me?) yesterday—Was biking from NE on New Hampshire Ave from Dupont Circle, and before crossing Q St, I moved (legally) into the road because the bike lane is a bit uneven right there. Enter BeemerFriend, speeding up to try and swerve around me, veering into oncoming traffic, all the while directing his muted, windows up ire towards while pointing at the bike lane. I couldn’t do anything but smile at him and pointing to the red light up ahead. This is also a note that it seems like drivers don’t realize bikers have a legal right to be in the street. Sometimes it’s the safest place to be, guy.

  • Just curious how all of the outraged cyclists on here feel about stopping in a crosswalk and forcing pedestrians to do the exact same thing. I walk across Q St to work every day and it is nearly a daily occurrence that I have to walk outside of the crosswalk around a herd of cyclists that have blocked the way. To me this seems very similar to the cars parked in the bike lane – a protected space meant to improve the safety of those designated to use it, and the designated users being forced into a more dangerous path because of inconsiderate drivers/bikers. My reaction to this situation varies from a polite ‘excuse me’ – which once earned a ‘f#ck you b#tch’ in response – to death glares, to just giving up and walking around them in the street. Because when it is a dozen or more cyclists blocking the crosswalk along 15th/17th/NH, it is a lost cause.

    • Yep, that happens to me pretty often, too. It’s a mild annoyance; I’ve never bothered to call anyone out on it.
      The really dangerous behavior comes when a truck or bus or other tall vehicle is waiting at a red light and blocking the view between the crosswalk and the bike lane. Most cyclists carry on with their Tour de France illusions, blowing through the red light/ stop sign even though they CANNOT SEE if a pedestrian is exercising her right of way there. I’ve had enough near-misses that I now stop mid-crossing to peer around the truck or SUV and make sure there aren’t any Lance wannabes barreling down on my crosswalk.

      • Yes, this! Also I’m walking east-to-west while traffic is going west-to-east, so all the southbound cyclists tend to look right for traffic to clear to cross against the light, but forget to look left for people walking with the light.

    • You’re right, I too see many cyclists blocking the crosswalk. We should stop at the stop line, just like cars. If I do wait in the crosswalk b/c there’s an obstruction in the bike lane, I wait at the very edge or even parallel to the crosswalk in front of the traffic lane. And I agree with wdc, too. Another cyclist almost t-boned me b/c she ran a stop sign and only shut up after I called her on it by pointing to my camera which recorded the whole thing. Stay safe.

    • Same. If I hadn’t looked both ways before crossing even with the light, there are a few times I would have gotten completely run over by a biker breezing through the light.
      HOWEVER, I also witness pedestrians standing in the middle of the bike lane (instead of on the sidewalk) waiting to cross the street when the bikers DO have the light. So.

      • When I see tourists doing this (leading off the curb and standing in the bike lane while they wait for the light to change) I politely point out that they’re standing in a traffic lane. Locals are on their own, though. The tourists are ALWAYS nice about it.

      • True that happens as well, but from my anecdotal experience it happens far, far less. Basically everyone needs to stay in their designated zones with their heads on a swivel 🙂

    • The reason experienced cyclists do this: You can be seen by traffic and getting up to speed when the light turns green is safer from the front than being stacked up in traffic. A newbie will block the sidewalk, and those are the people who irritate you. A veteran commuter will stop at the margins of the crosswalk so as to minimally or not all impede walkers. If drivers were more willing to share the road with cyclists, this behavior wouldn’t exist.

  • The reason this truck is illegally parked here is because the driver is making a delivery to Union Station. That opening in the building is the loading dock. Either the dock is full or his truck is too big to fit inside. This area of the bike lane where he is parked use to be a delivery zone for deliveries for trucks that are too big or too long to fit inside the building.

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