Sam Ford with ABC 7 had a report last night about the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes. In it he, and Leon Harris, repeatedly note that no one is using them.
Leon Harris: "I've been up and down Pennsylvania Avenue and I haven't seen very many bikes out there."
Sam Ford: "Indeed, Leon, that been one of the issues; that there haven't been that many bikes here and it is a factor if this pilot program becomes permanent.
Between rush hours today we stood and watched these bike lanes - sometimes 5 to 10 minutes - and would see nothing rolling at all.
AAA reports that between 36000 and 39000 vehicle a day travel on Penn, but bike traffic....?"
"I haven't seen any bikers since they turned it into two lanes," said one cabbie.
Planners will consider three factors, usage, safety and congestion. Clearly AAA and cab drivers are complaining about congestion, so I guess the message for bike riders might be "use it or lose it, and try not to have an accident"
Wow. I mean rarely do you get to see such a public display of utter incompetence. Sam, THE BIKE LANES ARE NOT OPEN YET. If you don't see cyclists using them (and at one point in the video you can see someone riding in the traffic lanes) it is because THE BIKE LANES ARE NOT OPEN YET.
That he doesn't know a pretty fundamental part of the story shows that not only did he not interview anyone from WABA, he didn't even interview anyone from DDOT. The only group he did interview is good old AAA-Mid Atlantic. Spokesman John Townsend latches on to the DDOT redesign excuse and makes it his own.
"What then becomes the impact when cones are removed and you have traffic pouring into the bike lanes by mistake?" asked AAA Mid-Atlantic's John Townsend. "The design is confusing to cyclists; it's also confusing to motorists."
Despite footage of a driver driving in the bike lane (even with cones, really? FAIL) I doubt you'd have drivers "pouring into the bike lanes." If a driver can't handle not biking in space that is illegal, that sounds like poor driving. He also drops the traffic count for Penn of 39000 cars a day. Considering that Penn still has two to three lanes in each direction, it seems more than capable of carrying that kind of capacity most of the time, what is that 1000 cars per lane per hour. Froggie, a ruling?
You can, by the way, contact ABC7 here and let them know that Sam must be spending all of his time at work playing minesweeper, because he sure as heck isn't doing journalism.
Here is what I wrote:
Last night Sam Ford reported that few cyclists were using the bike lanes on Pennsylvania. Is he aware that those lanes are closed? And that DDOT has specifically asked cyclists NOT to use them until they are open? Did he bother to interview DDOT? Why did he interview AAA, but not WABA? If ABC 7 reporters can not be counted on to provide critical facts in a story (central facts really) or balanced reporting how can ABC 7 be trusted?
Also, he went down between rush hours? You mean like, when most people are at work and traffic is slow. Why not go at three in the morning? Oh and did I mention: THE LANES ARE NOT OPEN YET.
And what's with the" try not to have an accident" line at the end? Why don't you tell drivers not to crash into cyclists? Avoiding accidents is not JUST our responsibility. And most fatal crashes in the area that I've covered have been the driver's fault.
Sam, let Tom Sherwood show you how it's done.
See how he learned that the lanes aren't open and there will be a grand opening later. It's called journalism. That's why you're standing in the middle of Penn and Leon gets to sit in the studio.
When the lanes "officially" open -- they're being used by cyclists already -- the city will hold a grand-opening ceremony.
I wish the headline for Sherwood's story had been better than "New D.C. Bike Lanes a Bust," and I wish he'd dig deeper than the official story we're being told.
the new bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue wound up too wide and too confusing to both cyclists and motorists. Too many vehicles were swerving into the lanes thinking they were traffic lanes. Some intersections were too confusing.
The city is scrambling now to narrow the lanes to make them look like traditional bike lanes. The city also is adding visual clues on the surface to alert cyclists and motorists. District officials said it'll take about three more weeks to get it right.
But at least he didn't just spew out AAA-MidAtlantic's official line. And he actually interviewed a decision maker.
Ward 1 Council member Jim Graham, who supports the bike lanes, said the bike lanes have another impact. He said they slow traffic in the neighborhoods.
The streets are there for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, Graham said.
So Sam Ford, I guess the message to you is that you should try not to be completely lazy and find out at least a little bit about something before you "report" on it. And try not to get fired.