Good afternoon. I had the experience the other day of riding my own bike home from an errand and then riding to my usual CaBi station instead of going home.
DDOT and the FHWA will host another public meeting as part of the NEPA process for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project. The meeting will be on Thursday, September 27, 2012, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 I Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024. This project could include a bikeway along the rebuilt Virginia Ave.
One candidate in the awkward ANC 2A01 race will focus on additional bike racks and a Foggy Bottom "heritage trail."
DDOT will be holding its third and final meeting on the M Street Southeast/Southwest Transportation Study TONIGHT. The study is evaluating proposed alternatives for multi-modal transportation improvements to the M St SW/SE corridor. WABA is pushing for a cycle track, but cycle tracks on both M St SE/SW and on M ST NW are going to confuse me like crazy. Still, I'm all for it.
In WABA's full letter on automated enforcement, they actually support LOWER fines. "If lowering of fines so that they not seem punitive is necessary to the expansion of the program, we support such lowering up to the point the deterrent effects begin to erode." So another deception by Milloy.
“A lot of our team members take public transportation, and from the Bethesda Metro it makes much more sense to come down the bike path — it’s only a mile and a half down to the building — than having to take a 45-minute route on the bus,” Joanna Bragg, a marketing team leader for the store, told Patch last year. “We also have a lot of customers who are health-conscious and eco-conscious, and the trail runs directly behind our building — it just seems like such a no-brainer.” A public hearing on bike sharing in Montgomery County has been scheduled for Oct 23 - "As the county nears the launch of the program, he said it will look at safety and education initiatives for cyclists as well as motorists and pedestrians and at where the county can engineer roads with features such as bike lanes to aid in safety."
With construction underway next to the Capital Cresecent Trail, workers have started discovery remnants of Bethesda's industrial past, including old rail spurs. Of course, the region has made good use of the old Gerogetown Branch rail line that those spurs used to connect to.
A $32,000 bike might seem expensive, but, to put that in perspective, Victoria's Secret has a $2,500,000 bra. I suppose the two can only properly be used together.
According to the task force, which met Monday, District residents get roughly 25 percent of the speed camera tickets. Maryland commuters get about 50 percent while Virginians and other visitors to the city get the rest.
Of course, for some, even that’s not punitive enough.
“As I’m sure you’ve guessed, [the Washington Area Bicyclist Association] strongly supports the expansion of automated enforcement,” Shane Farthling, executive director of the WABA, wrote in a letter to the task force. “Understanding that there are both public safety and political considerations on the matter, we hope to see the automated enforcement program used in a manner to promote the greatest overall impact on roadway safety for vulnerable roadway users.”
First of all, the first statement is not a measure of the punitiveness of the system, it is a breakdown of who is punished. So saying "even that's not punitive enough" doesn't really make any sense.
Second of all, it's pretty clear that Milloy is setting up cyclists as the bad guy here. Later he incredibly identifies one of the problems with ATE is that it doesn't solve all traffic problems.
Others complain that speed cameras don’t catch all traffic scofflaws.
Well, neither do police officers, but no one is calling for getting rid of them. Of course, he's talking about cyclists.
“Many of the new residents ride bikes, but many of us older residents need to drive cars to get to doctor appointments, jobs outside the city and attend church,” wrote Laura Gardner. “While we older residents try to creep through the city to avoid the cameras that you, Mr. Mayor, plan to put all over the city, the new residents speed through red lights and stop signs on their bikes WITH IMPUNITY! NO TRAFFIC TICKET FOR THEM.”
Well, without getting into the obvious "new resident"/"old resident" dog whistle or whether or not one needs a car to get to church, there are two other things at work here. First of all, when you're creeping through the city at 25-45 mph (depending on which road we're talking about) plus the 10mph cushion, you're still going faster than most cyclists' top speed. And second of all, cyclists do get tickets for their bad behavior. Of course, if the goal is safety then enforcing laws against dangerous driving is probably more important than dangerous cycling - though both should be enforced as needed.
But unlike scofflaw cyclists, who break the law sometimes for safety or need, and sometimes out of expediency, drivers - it appears - break the law for the sheer joy of it.
I enjoy driving fast. Not reckless driving, just cruising at speeds more appropriate for road conditions than the posted speed limit sometimes permits.
OK, so you like breaking the law. How adorable.
Lately, though, some jurisdictions have ramped up efforts to kill that feeling — to actually steal the joy of driving altogether — by “getting people out of their cars,” as D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) likes to say.
Why, drivers just want to enjoy the fun of breaking the law and here come the mean old cyclists who want to take that away just because they selfishly want to make it home without having their pelvises crushed. If "killing the feeling" is what it takes to avoid killing our neighbors, that seems like a fair trade to me. His claim that the "joy of driving" is being stolen is also pretty over the top. Cry me a river. What exactly is it about promoting roadway safety for vulnerable users does Milloy find objectionable?
I do think that talking about "getting people out of their cars" isn't the right goal or the right way to frame it - it sounds like social engineering. I prefer the goal of freeing people from their cars - allowing people who would prefer to bike or walk to work the opportunity to do so; and the goal of more accurately capturing the negative externalities of people's decisions, but not of forcing people into choices they don't want. Along this line John Townsend of AAA adds:
“When you look at plans for the future of transportation in the District, much of the focus is on making cars optional in the city,” he said. “To make more room for pedestrians and cyclists, they want to make less room for cars. But most people in the city still get to work by car, and I don’t see them having any options in the foreseeable future.”
Of course, the ATE isn't about getting people out of their cars, it's about making the roads safer (and ironically reducing congestion) and Milloy and Townsend intentionally conflates the two to serve their purposes. Heaven forbid that we should make cars "optional," I prefer the days when cars were mandatory and the poor and unlicensed were screwed. That's the America I fell in love with.
And townsend is wrong on the facts. Most people in the city do not get to work by car. Only 41% of DC residents do so. Milloy is wrong too.
In response to a growing backlash by motorists, the D.C. Council recently formed a “Safety-Focused Automated Traffic Enforcement Task Force.”
That is not the reason for the change. In fact, there are more people who contact Mary Cheh's office in support of the program than against it. Which is remarkable because people are more likely to complain than to support.
Another deceptive part is this:
Among the task force’s objectives is determining whether higher fines for speeding lead to improved driver compliance. There is much evidence to suggest that they do not. And yet, having raked in $66.7 million through the first three quarters of fiscal 2012 from speed and red light cameras, the city is gearing up to haul in an additional $86.2 million in 2013.
But the increased haul is not from increasing the fines, it would be from more fines from more cameras. In fact, the task force is mostly looking at lowering fines - something Milloy never mentions. He actually implies the opposite.
The economic pain caused by the high-tech crackdown cannot be overstated.
Actually it can, and Milloy makes a nice run at it.
One person talks about how driving is his livelihood and that he can't prove that he wasn't speeding a week after the event. That is a fair concern, but I suspect the rate of false positives is very low. If not, then perhaps the program should be shuttered, but Milloy and Townsend have no evidence that that is the case.
He later complains about "hyper-vigilant parking enforcement" as though suddenly doing one's job well is something to be belittled. What level of vigilance is correct? Where else should law enforcement only be mildly vigilant? And, while one can complain about speed limits being set to the wrong speed, because the system of setting them is poorly defined and explained, what is the argument against parking enforcement? You get to rent a parking space at a very low price, but you have to move your car before your time is done. There is nothing unfair about that.
As for a real argument against the cameras, we have Milloy's highly attuned scientific mind to rely on.
In my travels, I see speed cameras do more harm than good.
Well, that's all the research I need. Forget the data that MPD and others have that differ. I mean, for fuck's sake, Milloy can SEE the harm they do. Are you people blind? [If so, you'll be screwed when Townsend finishes creating a world where driving a car is mandatory, so who cares]
“Automated traffic enforcement” is what it’s called. Highway robbery is what it is.
Why is that if ATE were possible for cyclists and were deployed against only cyclists that I have the feeling that Milloy would cheer it on rather than find that a crime was being committed?
For the record, I support setting the fines lower - at the point where it stops changing behavior, and putting in more cameras - even if that means losing money. I don't think this should be used as a sin tax or a commuter tax. I think speed limits should be reviewed and the reasoning for their setting should be transparent and well-defined online. I think cameras should be used where they can improve safety - not where they can raise revenue - and that they should be reviewed periodically to see if they're achieving their goals. And yes, if they could apply it to cyclists I would be fine with them doing it where it would make people safer.
In a very bad opinion piece, the Times goes completely insane about DC's photo enforcement program. They're rooting for Congressional intervention - this is not the home rule paper. They hold up Kwame Brown as an example of how DC must think it's untouchable (I'm unclear on how his bad behavior, for which he has been convicted of a crime and removed from office makes us appear arrogant. It's hard to get more touchable than federal prison). But worst of all, they're upset that DC has created a commission to lower automated enforcement fines - because it's unfair to drivers. I guess they prefer the status quo? They're also upset that the D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council and the D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council have a seat at the table, because they're "car-hating liberals". If they can name one PAC or BAC member I'll buy a subscription. But I'm sure they can't, so how they know what the members think is beyond me. And, it seems reasonable to me to include the majority of commuters (53% who walk or bike at least part of the way) in a discussion about road safety. They don't even like having AAA at the table. No, according to the Times the best people to make decisions about this are people who don't live here.
This is not a sign of bad behavior, so much as a failure of our transportation network.
Details on the recently funded C&D Trail that will connect Chesapeake City to Delaware City. The project will convert the current gravel service road into a multi-use pedestrian and bicycle trail. Vehicular traffic will no longer be permitted, Geracimos said.
Chicago just has to do everything New York does, and so after New York City delayed the launch of their bike-sharing system, Chicago is following suit. The system will not meet it's goal of a late summer launch and will instead launch next year. And there is a little controversy brewing "According to news reports, Chicago’s inspector general is investigating the claims of an Alta rival that Alta had an unfair advantage in the bidding process. A spokesman for the inspector general would not confirm or deny that on Wednesday. Mr. Scales said Chicago’s transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, was paid a $10,000 consulting fee to analyze Alta’s proposal for the New York program — which was a basis for the rival’s claim. Mr. Scales said that Mr. Klein had recused himself from the selection process in Chicago, and that the delay had nothing to do with any investigation of the rival bidder’s claims."
Biking from Ocean City to Assateague"The ride can be frustrating at first — the designated bike lines occasionally jump from one side of the road to the other, change into vehicular turn lanes or disappear altogether, and the road sees a good amount of trucks and other heavy traffic whizzing by at 50 mph — but traffic thins closer to the park."
Three New York City council members want to double the width of the Brooklyn Bridge path. They want to designate three-quarters of the widened lane to pedestrians and the rest to cyclists (which doesn't match the ratio of 4000 pedestrian users to 3100 cyclists, but may if you go by time on the span. And it may not even matter.). When will they learn that you can't end congestion by adding lanes? Update: More here.
"Few people think of Moses as a cycling advocate, what with his infamous—and unpardonable—refusal to include bike lanes on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (ostensibly for fear of suicides). But earlier in his career, Moses was a keen advocate of bicycling and built New York City's first true bicycle infrastructure. The Depression had set off a bicycle sales boom in the city, as people could no longer afford cars. In 1938, to accommodate all the new bicyclists, Moses announced a vast system of bike paths—"fifty miles of paved parkland roads exclusively for bicycle riders," gushed the New York Times, that would enable bike enthusiasts to "pedal from one end of the city to the other.""
Because Virginia defines traveling “in excess of 80 miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit” as reckless driving, some DC residents are losing their license after one ticket. In Virginia that offense results in six points on a 24-point scale, but in DC it's 12 on a 12 point scale. That's automatic 6 month suspension.
Selden has turned to a combination of Metro and bike commuting to get from his Chevy Chase home to his government job in Rockville. Not driving, he said, means spending less time with his kids and a heavier load for his wife. Summer vacation has been canceled, too, he said: “It’s a lot to have my wife do all the driving on long trips.”
Which actually sucks for the guy, who's decent enough to not drive because it would be illegal (Despite all the unlicensed drivers out there).
And yet drivers who kill can often keep on driving.
The CCCT, while saddened and disturbed by the recent attacks, wants to remind everyone that the trail is safe and gives strategy suggestions to keep it safe.
While much of this letter is true, I'm not sure why it's directed at cyclists. Isn't it also true of drivers and, with some exceptions, pedestrians?
Members of a London cycling group were arrested during their monthly ride because they tried to "pedal their way through the security cordon around the Olympic Park." The ride normally passes through that area.
A task force, including a member of the Bicycle Advisory Council, will study traffic fines for automatic speed cameras. I agree that the cameras should be about safety and not revenue. I heard Thomas Didone, a Montgomery County police captain, on NPR recently discussing how they choose locations, and it sounded rational and transparent. They have an advisory board that does the selecting. "we have set factors, an open criteria. We look at the amount of speeding on the roadway, the traffic volume, the amount of accidents on there, the pedestrian proximity and others, things that can be hit, the design of the roadway. And we have an open-above-core criteria in which citizen through the website can request consideration. We do an evaluation of that. And if it meets our criteria, it gets included in the program. So that way, it's above board and it's based on safety as the sole factor." I think DC could benefit from something like that. Anything that can be done to increase the legitimacy of the cameras as safety devices helps. Also, since the tickets are regressive. I'd love to see them tie the price of the ticket to the income of the driver - or perhaps charge 0.5% of the blue book value of the car. [Aside: I saw two motorcycles with the license plate bent way up so that one can not read the plate without climbing under the motorcycle. And cyclists are called scofflaws?]
Over the last month there have been two attacks in Bethesda's Air Rights Tunnel on the Georgetown Branch Trail. In the video, the position that people are feeling uneasy is quickly undone by a mom pushing a stroller by herself in the background. They also erroneously call it a former Metro tunnel. Do police really need to ride motorcyclists through the tunnel?
There was a meeting last night on redesigning New Jersey Avenue between H and N Street NW. The redesign would make the road two-way and add bike lanes.
Bike lanes were added to Shady Grove Road from Interstate 270 to Darnestown Road and to Forest Glen Road from Maryland Route 97 to Brunett Avenue as part of Montgomery County's repaving projects. They also improved the pedestrian crossing of Forest Glen at Sligo Creek.
Midtown Manhattan is now requiring some cyclists who receive tickets to take a remedial cycling class. "It comes amid broad agreement among bike advocates and the Transportation Department that compelling riders to obey traffic signals, go with traffic and stay off the sidewalk is critical to improving the image of cycling and ensuring the long-term health of New York City’s expanding bicycle network....The two most common offenses have been riding on the sidewalk and not using the bicycle lane."
More serious offences are merely ticketed, but these lessor offenses require a day of class-work plus a day of community service. So that's pretty messed up in my opinion.
I used to teach defensive driving when I was in college, and I think the program is very useful, but I liked the way Texas did it better than this. First of all it was optional. You could either pay the ticket in full; or pay a small fee, take the class and have the ticket vacated. Which means that people in the class had chosen it - even if it was under duress (and there were others there just to get their insurance bill reduced). Second of all, I don't even think it should be illegal to ride outside the bike lane, so I really don't support giving it a more onerous punishment.
I've suggested DC do this, but as an optional way to void a ticket. Like I used to tell my defensive driving students - Robert DeNiro still takes acting lessons. And drivers ticketed for bike related violations (even speeding) should be allowed the option too.
I really can not believe that NYC still requires cyclists to use the bike lane when one is present. How do they get to be a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community with that rule?