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Does this mean that I can no longer ride my bike slowly on the 7th Street Bike/Bus lane in front of cars violating the markings on the road? :-)

Slow = safe in my book.

Wow. I think it's a mistake for WABA to associate its entire membership of commuters and recreational cyclists with some idiot who happened to be riding a BMX bike through the alley.

Something about this petition makes me uncomfortable. Part of it is what "Commuter" says, part of it is just that I ride courteously just because, and obey some really stupid traffic laws just to demonstrate compliance to my own detriment. Having to attest to it needlessly puts riders even more on the defensive, I guess.

I know this is a huge issue of public perception. But I'd feel more comfortable having DDOT or goDCgo doing this in lieu of the ludicrous Streetsmart stuff, rather than my advocates putting the question in front of me.

I think I agree with Darren on this. I'm all for recognizing that bicycles are dangerous to pedestrians in a way that cars can be dangerous to cyclists, but I would expect our advocates to also have a more nuanced understanding that the system is set up first and foremost to facilitate the effective movement of motorized traffic, and that, for cyclists, the law is not always the equalvalent of safety.

When is AAA going to do this with it's members? I am sick and tired of the sense of entitlement I see from drivers every single day that makes them think they can drive any way they wish. Just this morning I was almost clipped going through a crosswalk by a driver who honked at me and raised his hand in a 'WTF?' jesture when the car in the other lane(farther lane,his view of me was not obstructed) had stopped to let me cross.

Every day I see the 'DC Stop' where the first car stops at a sign and the car behind ir follows it through,or the 'DC Left' when a light changes red the car making a left goes and one to two other cars follow it. Not to mention the number of people who still talk on their phones when driving. I see at least 10x the number of blatent violations from car drivers than from cyclists;when is someone going to put their feet to the fire? Cyclists ijuring or killing peds is rare,drivers doing it are commonplace.

Sure what's wrong with a pledge. But Hoagland is being a pollyanna when he says, "The ones who do break the law are the ones who are most visible and they're certainly the ones who will be most remembered by motorists."

That's proven demonstrably false every day I commute. Like the driver this morning who yelled at me to get in the non-existent bike lane while I go 24 mph in a 25 zone and he goes 40, while he's talking on his phone. I was biking completely legally, but he thinks I wasn't. And he's telling his friends at work right now, "You shoulld have seen the scofflaw bicyclist that got in my way this morning."

The problem is drivers, or at least the vocal ones who harrass and endanger me, do not know the rules of the road. If someone doesn't know the rules of the road, how can they possibly know who's breaking the rules. That's why even if every cyclist obeys every regulation to perfection, many drivers who have no idea what the regulations say, will still think we're scofflaws. They're simply not mentally equipped to know what is legal.

WABA would do better to put a challenge to AAA. Put cyclists against drivers in a test of the rules of the road. Take random samples of each group. Give them the drivers license test. My bet is cyclists would far outpace drivers in knowledge of the traffic code. Just like we outpace cars in traffic.

Shane Farthing of WABA emailed me about the resolution after I posted a couple of negative comments on FB.

He basically said that since most on the DC Council lump all cyclists together, WABA needs to tell cyclists to be good so he will be able to say that WABA is working on bad behavior.

I understand his point, but don't agree with the logic or priority for WABA. Anyone who takes the time to join WABA is probably already fairly reflective about their own riding habits, and unlikely to be mowing down elderly pedestrians.

I would prefer more "red meat" from WABA as an advocacy organization. . .ideas for writing or lobbying councilmembers on behalf of everyday cyclists, or working to defeat those who take anti-bike positions.

Who are the least bike-friendly DC Councilmembers? Let's have some names!

Drivers mostly just want not to see cyclists. How they behave out of sight they couldn't care less.

I sympathize with WABA's conundrum, as outlined by CR. I really wish somebody more impartial was banging this drum (Tommy Wells?). But perhaps I'd sign their petition if it was explicit with a quid pro quo -

"I ride my bicycle courteously and safely, because it's the right thing to do. I shun those who cause inconvenience or possible harm to others through their negligance, and I particularly deplore any road user who strikes and leaves another to die. I pledge to become a tireless missionary to spread the gospel of courteous and safe use of our roads, and help WABA carry out its valuable bicycle education efforts.

But strict compliance by bicyclists and other vulnerable road users only addresses a small part of our dangerous roads. Many vulnerable road users contravene the traffic code primarily out of fear for their own safety. Local governments can help alleviate fear by integrating bicycle and pedestrian safety into DMV curricula, introducing stricter liability standards for striking more vulnerable road users, and aggressively revoking the driving priveleges of motorists who endanger all road users with reckless acts."

So this pledge is designed to placate the DC Council? Maybe this is why I had hesitations about a lawyer running WABA.

What is "bad behavior" on a bicycle? Slow and go?

"The ones who do break the law are the ones who are most visible and they're certainly the ones who will be most remembered by motorists who are sitting patiently at a red light when a cyclist blows through past them."

Don't think we need to continue to perpetuate the myth that cyclists "blow" past cars through red lights. Anyone who does this (does anyone really ride fast and blind through red lights?) surely won't be around long. This language sounds more like that of the committed motorist.

Now, passing cars at a reasonable speed and rolling up to the red light to see if the way is clear, then proceeding if it is (i.e., slow-n-go), yes, that happens. As it should. A car is not a bicyle, just as a car is not a pedestrian. Trust me, if motorists could go through red lights safely and without prosecution, they would do it every time. In fact, many often do and without slowing or checking if the way is clear, as when they rev up to try to beat a changing light and fail--the times they don't do this are when other cars are in front of them, blocking the way. That scenario doesn't happen with a bicycle, precisely because it's a bicycle. A bicycle is not a car.

Most of the times when I've had run ins with motorists, I've been riding my bike in accordance with the law, so I really don't buy the "if we behave, motorists will respect us and see the light" line. Most motorists (and many constables) don't even know the law when it comes to bicycles on the road, so how are they to effectively and accurately judge our behavior? They can't, because doing so requires relying on logic more than emotion. Which of these two do you think informs most people when they are behind the wheel?

I'm with Commuter, Darren, Chris, and the others who think WABA is misguided in this action.

Despite the disclaimer that most cyclists are not "scofflaws", this resolution assumes that most cyclists are NOT riding very responsibly at present and need to resolve to "improve" their behavior. If one is already riding responsibly, why does one need to sign a petition pledging to ride "more responsibly"? This is advocacy?

I will pledge not to curse at cyclists that jump in front of me while stopped at a light only to be passed within the next half block. My personal pet peeve.

Don't shoal me, bro.

@ Eric: I will pledge not to curse at motorists who cut me off and jump in front of me only to be passed by me 100 meters up the road while he's stuck in backed-up traffic.

@Brendan: I'm impressed by your 11:07AM comments, and I would like to suscribe to your newsletter. You describe perfectly my daily commute.

I have a feeling that WABA's trying to avert the kind of bike-facilities blowback that's occurring up in New York City. That kind of tempest hasn't happened here, and perhaps it never could, but the responsible-riding pledge reads like an effort to gain control of what WABA sees as a growing PR problem. (Not just an existing image problem - one increasing in magnitude with the shift in cycling's place in cities and society.)

I'm of the opinion that when people complain about "scofflaw cyclists," they're complaining about cyclists being on the road at all. Jumping lights and rolling through stop signs might be a lightning rod, but the thing about lightning rods is that if you take them down, lightning will still strike - it'll just find the next-highest object.

Then again, I could be wrong.

It'd be good to have a deeper understanding of people who grouse about cyclists breaking the law. I'm curious here about any opinion research or sociological insight. Do complaining drivers really mean what they say? We should be able to answer that question more objectively.

Whenever I have a conversation with people about "scofflaw cyclists," I present a simple statement to the person commenting:

I'm curious why it is that people have an expectation that cyclists are different from everybody else on the road. Everybody is breaking the law; why are cyclists expected to be different?

There's a bunch of ways this plays out. One is the safety argument. A response to this is easy, because the last thing motorists are worried about is safety. The only person who is the most aware of what's safe for him or not is the cyclist.

Another argument that's presented is "well, cars don't usually blow red lights and stop signs." That is, first of all, not true. However, I generally ask the question: "What do you think is more dangerous - going through a red light, or failing to use a turn signal and whacking a cyclist?" There is, truly, a perception out there that running a right light is significantly more dangerous then failing to use to turn signal. Explaining why that is incorrect goes a long way.

I also like to use a little humor. Say something jokingly, like: "Come on, be honest, you're just jealous because you see the cyclist doing something you can't get away with."

Just a few thoughts....

Good for WABA. And of course this is for rhetorical value: WABA has to both answer for and advocate for cyclists. It might not be fair, but that's the way it is.

I hope WABA challenges AAA to do the same thing for their members. It's only fitting, because lacking any traffic enforcement in DC, we're all pretty much on the honor system.

"I'm of the opinion that when people complain about "scofflaw cyclists," they're complaining about cyclists being on the road at all."

You're right. But we're also not special: the driver hates the person in front of him who's driving the speed limit; he hates getting stuck behind the Metro bus; he hates slowing for the construction zone; he... the list goes on. Truth is, driving a car enables the worst in all of us.

If it increases waba's ability to advocate on my behalf, (and that IS what this is about) I'll sign.

Say I'm rolling down 37th St NW going towards GU. That's a busy 2 lane road. Not much cross street traffic but every intersection has a 4-way stop sign. It is too narrow for any car to legally pass me.

Today while performing Idaho type stops I can easily keep pace with traffic and not delay anyone following.

But in the interest of not being a "scofflaw cyclist" should I now, at each and every stop sign, come to a complete stop. Put my foot down. Carefully look left, right and left again. Then pick my foot up and slowly accelerate. And do this every 100 feet?

Is that going to give the motorist behind warm and comfy feelings about me?

Good for WABA. And of course this is for rhetorical value: WABA has to both answer for and advocate for cyclists. It might not be fair, but that's the way it is.

I've heard the line "cycling has a PR problem," when talking about red lights and strop signs. If encouraging responsible cycling is a tactic, intended to achieve a public relations goal, there follow two questions.

(1) Is the tactic achievable: can a campaign convince enough cyclists to adopt these behaviors to make a difference?

(2) Will the tactic have the intended effect: if a mass of cyclists begin sitting at red lights, will people stop complaining about cyclists?

Winners lead by example, and I think that encouraging all cyclists to be good citizens on the roadway is a good idea.

Generic complaints about the driving public or trying to get AAA to change its spots is a losing strategy.

We want law enforcement, driver education, and better engineering--not AAA cheerleading--to induce safer driving. But I think I'd rather see WABA cheerleading than law enforcment to induce safe cycling. Why? Because the police understand safe driving but WABA and other cycling professionals understand safe cycling better than the police.

In any event, for a large portion of WABA's membership, this is a season that generally calls to our better angels, the Golden Rule, how can I be better to my fellow human beings?

We have the rest of the year to complain about everybody else.

I think WABA's petition is okay. They don't relate the pledge back to the BMX incident.

Pledge point #2 makes me uncomfortable, because it implies that the bike-car problem occurs because I (cyclist) am not respecting other road users (cars). I'd argue it's a two-way road, and agree with DynaRider - when is AAA going to do something similar?

But, the other 4 are good, and 4 out of 5 aren't bad. I'll sign.

"if a mass of cyclists begin sitting at red lights, will people stop complaining about cyclists?"

@David R. - Good point. If a mass of cyclists started sitting at red lights, I'd hope people would support more cycletracks, lanes, trails, and more bike-friendly road design.

Well, I'm a WABA member and I signed. These are all things I already do. Yes, I stop at stop signs (sometimes the foot drops). Yes, that breaks my momentum. But, I have found that it does not really slow me down a lot overall and I have a 28 mile round trip commute.

I don't feel the pledge is defensive at all; it's just a statement that we are holding ourselves to a standard and that we care and are engaged.

I stopped a while ago focusing on the crazy things I see motorists do -- I see the same stuff that you see every day. It's not worth it to get angry and spoil a great ride. So I ride defensively and just think to myself, "I get to ride my bike to work!"

Be safe, everyone!

I have to agree with David R., having recently returned from a trip to Seattle (a city I lived in for years) I realized that every time there is a discussion on cyclists in Seattle the complaints about crazy kamikaze law-breaking cyclists is as intense if not more so than what I hear here in DC. Yet in Seattle the majority wear helmets (what seems like 90%) wait for green lights, stop at stop signs, and I saw many using hand signals and running lights during the day. As a daily commuter and utility cyclist it was night and day what I saw. At the same time I don't really see what this hyper vigilance has gotten them in terms of support in the community or in reduced hatred from some the vocal automobile drivers. This coming from a "progressive" and sustainably inclined city. I'd hate for DC to turn in to a city where cyclists, and pedestrians for that matter, are yelled at or worse ticketed for actions that would seem common sense in many other communities. Crossing the street when it is obviously clear despite not having the crosswalk, slowly rolling through a 4-way stop with great sight lines and no traffic, or even having the choice to wear or not wear a helmet when riding through a park at beach cruiser-speeds. I've seen the expensive tickets for those things in Seattle (over $100 for each of those infractions) even getting a ticket for slowly riding through a park without a helmet ($125). I never heard the local advocacy group (Cascade Bicycle Club) actively protest any of these items. In fact, it would seem that they let these things go in a guise to gain support by the motoring public to gain funding and respect. Meanwhile, I see cities all over the country building facilities as good if not greater than what Seattle has achieved all without giving up the notion that a cyclist shouldn't be able to make reasonable judgment calls if doing so does not interfere with sharing of the roadway and yielding accordingly. So what am I trying to say? Please don't roll over. Yes, let's work with the greater community to educate people new to cycling and those that will never ride what safe cycling and the sharing of our roadways looks like, but please don't undertake actions admitting guilt. Our biggest, and hardest task will be educating new cyclists and vehicle drivers that every street, intersection, road condition, speed, and time of day may require different techniques for safe and courteous cycling. It just isn't as cut as dry as the AAA and others want to make it out to be.

The better alternative to this would be for WABA to argue to localities that the riders who are members or would likely sign this are already effective cyclists and that the people who really could use more closely following what is prescribed could greatly value additional funding funneled through WABA to educate new cyclists, recent immigrants possibly not familiar with our rules of the road, out of town college students, etc.

I'm not sure how a group of cyclists pledging to cycle "more responsibly" (implying that we are not currently cycling responsibly) increases WABA's ability to advocate effectively for cyclists.

I think making it known that we disapprove of the BMX incident and that we empathize with the victim just as much as we do when a cyclist dies sets us apart and gets us ahead of the criticism that follows. Instead of trying to defend this person, or explain how he isn't really one of us we take the opportunity to say "let's all agree that we're going to do what we can to not hurt anyone out there." It sort of silences your critics when you say "let's take the opportunity for some self-evaluation and to dedicate ourselves to courtesy and safety." Who hasn't had a close call?

People generally have opinions based on direct observation regarding the extent to which cyclists comply with rules of the road, so this pledge is very unlikely to lead anyone to conclude that cyclists are less responsible than people already thought. If this is "admitting guilt", the admission mainly communicates that we are not in denial, everyone knows that certain laws are routinely violated.

The challenge we face is not unique to cycling. There seem to be too models. Sometimes industries attempt to self-regulate to head off government regulation and improve the public perception. They explicitly recognize that they have bad apples within their midst and are more zealous at rooting them out than anyone, because they value their reputation and view transparent self-policing as the way to inspire confidence.

Others groups tend to circle the wagons and reflexively defend anyone in their midst. The assumption is that the best way to inspire confidence is to be confident and keep the spotlight off any possible blemishes.

There is no way to know a priori which approach will serve us best. It's an empirical question.

So do we try something new and learn from that experience? Or do we keep doing the same thing because bad things can happen when you do something different?

The main problem is cycling is becoming more popular and some people don't want to share the road and trails with bicycles therefore they cry foul on cyclists although their user groups are no better.

In short, they are attempting to bully cyclist to quit riding their bicycles.

As a WABA member I would like to support this, but it makes anyone who signs it sound like they're committing to a big change in their riding habits. What about those of us who already comply? Or does WABA feel that none of us really follow the rules?

Can't there be another option that allows people to declare that they currently follow the rules of the road, respect pedestrian rights, understand that they are sharing the road, and will vow to continue to do so?


I pledge to curse at rule-breaking cyclists as much as I curse at rule-breaking drivers.

I pledge if I see a Newb almost kill himself I'll catch him and politely explain to him 1. "you almost got killed" (newbs never see it coming), and 2. offer some tips on how not to get killed.

And really, that's a key distinction that we see, but drivers don't. A clueless newb who cruises through a stop sign because they're listening to the apple mini and not paying attention, is a violent anarchist scofflaw cyclist in the eyes of the driver. No, the newb is just clueless as a lamb.

Oh, I understand why WABA is doing this from a PR standpoint. I just think it's not as nuanced as it could be. From a PR standpoint, they should have pushed a pledge but also find the pledge an opportunity to educate the non-cycling public why not using a turn-signal, for instance, is more dangerous for the cyclist than running a traffic light with no cars approaching. It's not too late to do that, either - maybe they plan on pushing those ideas when they push out press releases about how many have signed the pledge, etc.

Also, I would have preferred that they didn't use the phrase "blow through" a red light. Almost nobody does that - even the most blatant amongst us slow down a little bit.

Some of us don't pledge to anything because pledges imply a double standard of good behavior. I'll solemnly affirm that I ride responsibly for the safety of myself and others, but my conscience guides me, not a signature.

@Chris, @Max

I think your points are reasonable--especially the point that WABA should not stop here in motivating a public dialogue and intermodal consideration. I also agree that with additional wordsmithing the product would undoubtedly improve. For red lights, or course, there are two types of violations: Those that would be legal and those that would be illegal in Idaho. "Blow through" strikes me as ordinary language being used to convey the latter concept.

@Max. The invitations to the pledge I read started out with the premise that you comply with the law, and are probably just adding your name to show you do, but that maybe your friends do not all comply so it would be a great New Year's resolution

@All. I didn't plan to become the explainer-in-chief for this initiative, having missed the board meeting where it was discussed in favor of an annual messiah choir rehearsal (free at Kennedy Center tonight). So I'll sign off from this thread here.

Merry Christmas
Jim

"Blow through" is language that implies to me somebody passing through a red light or sign without any regard for whether there's something coming on the cross street. Most cyclists simply don't do that; rather, they adapt an approach taken by most pedestrians - they look to make sure there's nobody coming, usually tapping the brakes a little, then passing through. It's still illegal, of course, but language is important here because the carelessness implied by the phrase "blow through" doesn't fit the meaning I think WABA intended here. It's a little like Democrats using the phrase "death tax."

Aaaagh. Seriously, folks, this is a simple act to demonstrate that the biggest cycling advocacy org in the area understands that cyclists have a role in create a safer street environment for all of us. To see this level of pushback from posters I'm otherwise usually in agreement with is rather disheartening.

(I should also point out (for a little while, I suppose) that I'm a WABA board member, too.)

I have been a WABA member for well over 10 years (despite the fact that my WABA card says I joined in 2008). I have also been a bike commuter for over a decade. I find this pledge really obnoxious. I have had no accidents involving pedestrians or motor vehicles in the past 40 years of bicycle riding. I have no intention of signing this pledge.

With regard to modifying DMV training, I have only one comment. My son's Virginia driver training in 2008 was utterly useless, a complete waste of his (and my) time. In that context adding a segment about bicycles is kind of pointless.

well, I guess WABA can't advocate drinking glogg and riding your bike home. They should!

Thank you, WABA, for throwing some basic civility out there during Christmas. Perhaps next year you could partner with AAA. I doubt anyone pays much attention to this stuff, but you've got to take the high road.

Count me among those that think WABA asking the cycling community to sign some sort of forced confession is total bullshit. Once ever few years, something like the Chinatown BMX incident happens, and cyclists are asked to swear they'll behave better from now on.

Meanwhile, two or three times a week, you hear something like this in the news:

A 14-year-old girl was struck twice while crossing Marlboro Pike in Capitol Heights, and later died. The first driver stopped, while the second fled the scene. Prince George's County police are looking for the other driver.

When's AAA going to circulate a petition so drivers can swear they'll try to avoid running down pedestrians and fleeing the scene from now on?

The reason they don't do it is that people would think they were *insane*. Obviously this sort of behavior has nothing to do with 99.99999% of the drivers out on the road.

Enemies of cycling are always trying to link all cyclists with the dangerous behavior of a few. It's depressing that WABA is jumping on the bandwagon.

How is this a forced confession? No one is asked to say anything about the past, only the future. What part of what you're being asked to pledge do you find uncomfortable? Do you intend to not do any of these things? When people get married they make all kinds of promises about how they'll treat their spouse, but that is not a confession that in the past they didn't do those things.

I'm really shocked by the blowback on this.

The fact that AAA doesn't do this is part of the point IMO. I think we stand out by behaving better than AAA. Pointing to AAA as a model for how we should behave is like proponents of torture pointing to Saudi Arabia and saying "they torture, we'd be crazy not to do that too."

I understand the intention; however I think the resolution was poorly worded and that is why you are getting all the "blowback".

I don't know about WABA's leadership, but every single time I get out on the road I ride responsibly. I'm responsible for the safety of pedestrians first, then my own safety, then the convenience of drivers.

I break the law; I do it in such a way that it increases the safety of everyone on the road. I run red lights because the alternative is to get over into the left lane a block or two ahead of a turn--something that drivers find completely intolerable.

I think the "scofflaw" charge is *massively* overblown. In fact, other than in three cases--buzzing pedestrians, sidewalk riding over walking pace, or "salmoning"--I reject the very premise that cyclists breaking the law is in any way a bad thing.

So WABA here is beginning from the preferred framing of the anti-bike forces. I just find it offensive that--as Shane says above--that we're seeing "the difficult issues raised by the death of a pedestrian due to a cyclist’s failure to yield appropriately" to the general community of cyclists.

This was a kid. On a BMX bike. Who killed an old man in an alley and rode off.

I don't need a damned pledge affirming my intention to not indulge in such behavior. Any more than your average NRA member needs a pledge affirming his intention not to shoot anyone in the face after stealing their wallet.

The BMX killer was no more a "cyclist" than someone who murders someone in cold blood with a gun is a "gun enthusiast".

I will never obey car traffic rules, written by and for cars and their corporate
lobby, while on my bicycle. Never. Having ridden about 15,000 miles a year for
over 23 years, doing so has served me well.


I ride to stay alive. Period. Many times this does mean obeying
car-road-traffic rules. Sometimes that means riding on the sidewalk. Sometimes
blocking traffic. Sometimes blowing through stop signs. Life is complicated.
Circumstances matter.


The whole car-road-traffic system is a joke. And it is a huge economic drag on
the rest of the economy. Suburbs that are subsidized. Gas that is subsidized.
Inane tort law and insurance requirements. Urban areas punished by the various
tax codes. Corporate lobbying efforts that trump local, democratic
initiatives. Despite (meager) ISTEA and SAFTEA-LU advancements, bicycles -- and
any alternative to car transportation -- still only figure in the margins, and
still only as far as it's an easy retrofit.


I highly recommend Zach Furness, *One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of
Automobility* (2010).

right on, oboe!!

Oddly, the NRA does have a pledge "I certify that I am a citizen of good repute, of the United States of America; that I am not a member of any organization or group having as its purpose or one of its purposes the overthrow by force and violence of the Government of the United States or any of its political subdivisions; that I have never been convicted of a crime of violence; that I, if admitted to membership, I will fulfill the obligations of good sportsmanship and good citizenship." I guess it's a confession of previous failures of citizenship.

@WC - The NRA pledge (and it's a pledge...not a resolution) is a statement of fact. "I AM these things."
The WABA resolution is a statement of INTENT. "I will be better."
THAT is what is so troubling about it (or, perhaps on of the many troubling aspects of it).

I don't understand Brian's comments about Seattle - I visit ever year and ride there and Seattle drivers typically go out of their way to accomodate cyclists. Yeah, the comments with Seattle newspaper articles can be against too much additional city govt support for cycling, but that's more about being cheap. In riding the difference between how drivers typically interact with cyclists here and there is huge. Brian seems to feel that cyclists are disproportionally given tickets but I think it is more even than that - everybody gets tickets, including pedestrians jaywalking. I think a Seattle driver would be as surprised by a lot of the DC cycling behavior as they would be by DC pedestrians - what, I can't cross whereever and whenever I want??

We have to understand this pledge in the context of city cycling around North America. Events in NYC have caught cycling advocates off-balance. (Protests against bike lanes?) It's in New York that we see that strange "Don't be a jerk" campaign, an indication that the bike community and friends have lost control of the debate. Arguably, the entire landscape's shifted.

I think that the people who don't like the pledge are ones who've thought carefully about these issues, and whose behavior on the road is already deeply principled. Not that deeply-held principles are incompatible with the pledge, or that all thinking people object to signing - just that the language doesn't sit well for some. I'm reminded of the classic loaded question about whether you've stopped beating your wife.

Consider this graf from the preamble:

Most importantly, please think about how you ride, your responsibility to yourself and other road users, and what you can do to help as a member of the bicycling community. We're all out there on the same roads and we can all make them a better place to ride!

If this was the pledge, I think everyone on this thread would have signed.

…I resolve to be a more responsible bicyclist.
…I resolve to better respect the rights of other road users.

"More" and "better" change the meaning here. Imagine these lines without those words. The pledge would be less introspective, perhaps, but also more affirmative. Nevertheless, there's always room for anyone to improve.

…I resolve to make a good faith effort to better follow the law.

This is, perhaps, the most contentious line in the pledge. WABA wants riders to obey the law. Some cyclists choose to break laws, for pragmatic or conscience-driven reasons. The authors attempt to fashion a way out ("a good faith effort"), but there isn't a lot of room for people who object to laws on principle.

…I resolve to yield to pedestrians.

This line's constructed differently. It doesn't say anything about past behavior. Its phrasing runs parallel to the NRA pledge.

…I resolve to help make bicycling safer and easier for all of us.

Universally agreeable, albeit non-specific.

I did sign the pledge. I don't love the wording, but I agree with the meaning and I think that I can forthrightly add my name. There's always room for improvement and contemplation.

I think that the death of Mr. Chu does, indeed, raise difficult issues for the cycling community, in the same sense that it should raise difficult issues for everyone in this city: a man died, and it appears that the person who killed him lived and worked among us. In a good and right world, we would have found a way to prevent this.

Most of the culpability rests with the BMX rider, of course, and that's one of the failings here. Language comes to the foreground again. Missing from the press release is language that forcefully repudiates the BMX rider's actions.

(Incidentally, I'd hardly defend the BMX rider, but we don't really know what happened in Chinatown.)

@mike +1

Regardless of feelings for or against, I think the level of "blowback" suggests at least that WABA needs to communicate better with their members and cyclists at large about their intent around this and what they hope to gain. Do they focus group ideas like this? Surely a discussion with a dozen random regular DC riders would find at least one person who would have brought up some of the issues raised above, and thus raised a red flag for further consideration.

I like WABA a lot, and reading the comments I've gone back and forth on signing. The thing I find the most frustrating is articulated by oboe above, it seems like WABA is just being reactive and letting the anti-bike lobby define the terms of engagement. And once we get stuck in their terms, we've already lost. So I haven't signed it and I'm not that inclined to, but I'm open to being convinced.

I won't rehash everything everyone else said except to state I agree WABA is being misguided and should not be forced to defend itself or cyclists because of the actions of one irresponsible person who happened to be on a bike. I'm only adding a comment at all because I think it's important for WABA to see its members don't appreciate being thrown under the bus to appease AAA-minded motorheads.

Also, for what it's worth, I've hit a pedestrian before. Thankfully neither party was knocked to the ground or injured in any way. She chose to step into traffic (yes, bikes are traffic) in the SB Connecticut ramp off Dupont Circle about 5 feet from a crosswalk that would have informed her by its solid orange hand that now was not a good time to cross. I absolutely hate riding by there as pedestrians cross against the light all the time coming to or from the metro. They see gridlock among motorists and it never occurs to them in their ipod induced haze that there could be anything else coming their way. Everybody needs to pay attention, and I will continue to ride safely and will unapologetically verbally lay into any pedestrian that nearly causes me an accident like that woman did that day.

1. Brian's points about Seattle and "blowback" are very interesting/important.

The real issue is that automobilists are threatened by and will fight most any change in policy with regard to their dominance of the road network and their privileged position in the hierarchy of road users.

What's happened in NYC shouldn't be a surprise. I think from my reading of the press across the country, it pretty much happens everywhere (e.g., DC). Look at the people who fought bike improvements in San Francisco (!!!!!!!!!!) through the strategem of saying that an Environmental Impact study was necessary.

2. I agree 100% with oboe. That's my position too, thanks for expressing it so well.

3. I think about this issues in terms of long frames of time (decades) in terms of broad social movements and social change, having worked in my first job in DC for a consumer group that possessed Nader lineage.

It gave me some interesting perspectives on social change, how long it takes, and the role of insiders and outsiders within the process, and at different points in the process. E.g., wrt Hillary Clinton's point that "it takes a president to get it done" she failed to recognize the multi-decade process of social movements and social change to get change to the point where it can be legally enacted. (Think civil rights, or even the almost 40 year long process of creating the movement and demand for the creation of an interstate highway system.)

WRT this issue, I agree with the people, like oboe, who say that this is a one-sided position/argument that is designed to make the automobilists happy.

But they will never be happy in a balanced ("complete streets") situation, because they see that as a loss of privilege.

It's no different than my experiences working on revitalization issues in the city, pushing for change, against resistant people, when they expected all the compromises to be one-sided, to come from my/the positions I espoused. I asked "how is that compromise?"

The thing I learned at the semi-Nader group (by observation, it wasn't something that they taught), is about what I call the issue continuum.

At one end is the mealy mouthed position, at the other end is the hardest core position. There are a variety of positions all across the continuum between the two points, and different organizations depending on their interests and funders, sit at different points. If you take the hardest core position, while you never get all of your desires, there is a lot more movement in the end toward the ideal, than if you hadn't staked out the position to begin with.

While it means that technically, you always lose, you get way more than if you had been mamby-pampby from the outset.

The reason that this initiative sucks, is that nowhere is the ideal position laid out in the most complete and thorough fashion (think of the kind of overwhelmingly long blog posts that I write).

An ideal world would include:

- recognition that motor vehicles, because of their weights and speeds bear disproportionate responsibility for a safe road network
- recognition of how the rules of the road are written to favor motor vehicles and are often unfair to other users
- enactment of Idaho Stop (which specifically says you can't run stop signs and red lights when there is oncoming traffic -- that means no weaving!)
- driver responsibility for ped and bike crashes comparable to the Netherlands
- serious penalties for causing injury and death
- insurance and registration systems for bicyclists
- better training for police officers wrt bicycling as traffic
- refresher tests upon drivers license renewal on ped and bike issues
- mandatory training/complete curriculum developed in K-12 at the early and late elementary levels, in middle school/junior high, and in high school on pedestrian and cycling safety, maintenance (this is something I recommended in the Western Baltimore County bike plan)
- changes in driver education to increase awareness of/safety regarding pedestrians and bicyclists.

There might be some provisions I missed.

It's the responsibility of bicycle advocacy organizations to lay out this kind of complete cyclists fairness and safety agenda with regard to sustainable transportation, not to rollover for whatever concerns the politicos express just because they express them, without providing a reasonably well researched set of reasons for doing so, and instead to mobilize the cyclists to make the same kinds of calls that the motorists are making.

one more thing in the provisions should be about desired operating speed for motor vehicles, which across the city is mostly 25mph, enforcement, and re-engineering roadways and roadsides to bring traffic speeds down, closer to the desired speeds.

I got hit this year when I was 100% in compliance with the law, taking extra precautions, had bright dayglo yellow on, had strobing headlights, and riding in a pack. If WABA's starting position is that its membership is scaflaws, then WABA can have my membership card back. I find this very offensive and annoying.

Last Wednesday I had to get to work before Metro opened. So I grabbed at cab at 4:30am. During the 20 minute trip to my office the cab mostly traveled at 40 - 45 MPH through DC though several times the speed exceeded 60 MPH.

And it was just not this driver. While going 60 MPH we were PASSED on the right by a SUV. To his credit(?) the driver never ran a stop light. But I couldn't help wondering why this excessive speed was necessary. It seemed to me to be just how he drove.

I did see a couple of people out on their bikes at that hour. But I sure would hate to be one of them knowing that their are drivers such as this cabby out running wild.

P.S. - we did pass a DC cruiser while going 60 MPH. No reaction. I believe the cruiser, which was parked to the side of the road, was on embassy duty. In any event the cab driver didn't slow down. So I guess, to him, the idea that he could stopped for speeding was pretty remote.

DC police don't guard embassies. The Uniformed division of the Secret Service does. I don't live or work much anymore near embassies, but in that time, I can only think of one or two instances where I've seen them dealing with street-related issues.

Similarly, the Park Police have jurisdiction across the city, but because they are so understaffed, they pretty much stick to transgressions on federal land (parks).

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