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I couldn't agree more with criticizing the ridiculous MPD delay. Too nitpick, however, it has been more like four weeks, not six, since Swanson's death. No need for WABA to exaggerate there; a month-long wait is plenty for this information.

Further postponement just starts to raise questions about the department's investigative competence.

I think WABA should press to bring the Alice Swanson investigation to a conclusion.

I also think WABA should concentrate on the "B" in WABA. Since Eric mentioned in his interview on Kojo's show that riding on the sidewalk (which includes crosswalk's)is ill-advised for bicyclists I don't think that pedestrian safety is in WABA's sphere of influence. I personally have equal distaste for both cars and pedestrians. At least I can figure out what a car is going to do. The behavior of pedestrians is so random I expect them to get squished from time to time. I think the Novak accident was not typical of any behavior given to the fact that he subsequently was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I'm not sure if Novak will be doing much driving in DC anymore.

As far as the one-way street thing, I wish our advocates good luck in lecturing the police on what laws should and should not be enforced.

Even though riding two abreast is legal I don't know what advantage it is to the left sided cyclist. First, it puts the cyclist closer to being whacked by a driver who is reluctant to cross the center line. Second, it negates all the aerodynamic advantages of having a riding partner. What happens if there is a pot hole or some other road hazard that requires the rider to swerve? Two abreast just seems to be asking for problems. I guess if they wear a helmet it will be ok.

I think the Novak incident is germane. The cops didn't take it very seriously. If they'll let someone hit a pedestrian and run away, do you think they'll do more to protect cyclists? No way. Pedestrians are the baby seals of the traffic world, and cyclists are ugly old purple burrowing frogs.

The police are free to enforce any law that they choose. But if they're picking them willy-nilly their wasting their time and my money.

I often ride two abreast so I can talk to the other person. I kind of hate the rule that you have to move out of the way. I mean I can still ride in the middle so what's the big deal?

For the last 6 months I've been following closely the issues of car and bike law enforcement in Portland on Bikeportland.org, and all of this happening in DC sounds eerily familiar. The slow investigations, odd and uneven bicycle and car laws enforcement, and non-response of the city police to inquiry of incidents where cyclists are killed is sad. I just don't think metropolitan police have much regard for cyclist safety in general - at least they don't show it at the most important times. Some constructive ideas for metropolitan police everywhere:

1. Be responsive to the public and the community. You serve the community, and your job is made much easier if the community trusts you and sees you as being responsive. It doesn't take a whole lot of resources to provide a written statement to a police intern to return calls to questions regarding incident inquiries, assuming the official persons responsible for being department "spokesman/spokeswoman" is too "busy".

2. Enforce laws that have shown to benefit current problems. If cyclists, motorists, or pedestrians are being killed, step up enforcement in those places where problems are occurring. A cyclist was killed while in a bike lane. Step up enforcement there if laws were broken by either cyclists or drivers, or else, at the very least, drivers blocking the bike lane.

3. Give warnings, written or verbal, instead of tickets in new enforcement action areas. Both cars, cyclists and pedestrians would be far more appreciative to learn that their actions are against the law, and would be MORE likely to obey those laws in the future. Giving tickets is kind of like yelling at someone - it doesn't get you very far toward your ultimate goal - working with the community rather than against it (see item #1 above). Giving tickets without warnings first just makes people angry against the police, and thus more antagonism against the police. Work with people, not against them, and everyone benefits.

Just some ideas.

Great post. But as I've said here before, I tend to have more problems with lousy cyclists than motorists. Riding two abreast is truly ill-advised and rude. Riding in the dark sans lights is illegal and should be ticketed. Riding on the left side around a blind curve ought to be criminal.

Why ill-advised? How rude? With you on the lights - though better than giving out tickets is giving out lights.

Rude? Maybe not. But definitely inconsiderate. Maybe I'm wrong but motor vehicles are allowed to use bike lanes in certain instances. When I come up to a bus or car dropping someone off at the curb and it slows me down on my bicycle, I get annoyed. I have to slow down and figure out how to get around this inconsiderate person.

Riding out in the middle of the road at a speed much slower than the speed limit for no particular reason may be a "right" granted by law, but it is inconsiderate to the others on the road (cars). Although your conversations may be brilliant and captivating, I don't think that the cars that are creeping along behind you share your sentiments. Putting your conversation on hold and tucking into a single file so a car can slip by may be more than you are willing to give, but to me it is just a small thing and is sign of goodwill between me and the motorists (a class of people that I sometimes belong to).

I'm real old school. I don't wear a helmet when I ride so I try to do everything in my power to not get hit by a car. That includes not irritating a driver who may be having an argument with his wife on his cell phone or for whatever reason just is hating life or is late for a job interview. Just as I hope drivers are trying not to irritate me. So, I give up the middle of the lane and position myself so cars can get around me. That means I don't always get to my destination as fast as I can but, I have almost always arrived with all my bones connected.

Riding out in the middle of the road at a speed much slower than the speed limit for no particular reason may be a "right" granted by law, but it is inconsiderate to the others on the road (cars).

Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn't.

Sometimes I ride as far right as possible (while staying out of the door zone). Sometimes (as on Rock Creek Parkway) it's unsafe for autos to pass unless they can see there is no oncoming traffic. One way to ensure that autos are *not* going to pass unless there's no oncoming traffic is to take the lane. At that point, two are the same as one.

The thing is, the *cyclist* is going to decide which is which.

If that upsets you in some way, that's something you are going to have to work through, but really it's not my problem.


ibc, you sort of wrote my response for me. I never want to block traffic just to block traffic. If I can ride to the right and be safely passed, that's what I'll do. But if I can't then what's the difference between taking the lane and riding two abreast? I will note that I don't recall ever breaking the law on this one. I move over to single file in the middle of the lane - giving the car a longer line of cyclists to pass.

Ok wash you win. I can't hit a moving target. You said that you ride two abreast so you can talk to your buddy. That in most cases is not safety related. I said for no reason at all. I too will ride in the middle of the road to avoid delivery trucks, potholes and also cross lanes to make a left turn. That is for a purpose. Most driver will respect that.

The difference between riding two abreast and taking the lane is functional. You take the lane for safety reasons and stay in the lane until the hazard passes. Riding two abreast is usually for social reasons and has no bearing on safety. I thought you would know that.

I think that I was clear that I don't think you were breaking the law. Just flaunting your rights, which is not necessarily nice.

ibc: It's how the driver deals with the fact that you are riding two abreast and blocking traffic that I'm worried about. Just look at the two abreast cyclists in LA who got in the pissing contest with the doctor who slammed on his breaks. I sure the thought going through the bikers mind as he sailing head first toward the Mercedes rear window was: "I'm glad I exercised my rights. If only this driver had taken the confident cyclist course. He'd know he was a bad man for getting angry at me."

Tom, you asked what the advantage of riding two abreast was and I said you can talk to your buddy. I said nothing about blocking traffic (but did say I don't like having to change my configuration) and neither did you.

But then in your next comment you mentioned "the cars that are creeping along behind" me. So it's clear we were no longer talking about the same situation. You were talking about riding two abreast with a car behind you and I was not.

So I talked about what you were talking about. Biking two abreast with a car behind you. Of which I feel there are two scenarios - you can safely get out of their way or you can not.

In the second case, I'm going to take the center of the lane and so will my buddy. How am I now blocking traffic less than by biking two abreast?

The law in DC is that you can ride two abreast unless a car is behind you. So while I concede you never claimed it's illegal, it is - and that's why I discussed it.

I apologize if my lack of clarity appeared to you as though I were dodging or putting words in your mouth. I intended to do neither.

It's how the driver deals with the fact that you are riding two abreast and blocking traffic that I'm worried about.

I'm still not sure what you're on about. I've been riding for 20 years in an urban environment, and never been assaulted physically.

For every "mad LA doctor" story you can find, I can find a dozen other senseless assaults over ice cream cones, parking spaces, or whatever the hell else the human mind can get exercised over.

Let's put it this way: I'm not going to remove the Obama bumper sticker from my car because some asshole shot the Arkansas chair of the Democratic party. I'm not going to wait until everyone in a parking lot has found a space before daring to park in my own.

And I'm not going to let the statistically insignificant chances of my perfectly reasonable and legal behavior pissing off some anger-management case keep me from going outside.

Anyway, by your logic, if the remaining cyclists had beaten the living shit out of that guy--another likely outcome given the circumstances--I doubt we'd be making up silly quotes to put in his mouth as his teeth were getting knocked out.

Sorry, the only reason people have an issue with side-to-side riding is that the lane is too narrow to pass in. That's the case with pretty much every lane in the city I live in. So if you want to pass me, you can wait until it's safe to do so. At some point, you can't let cowardice rule your life.

When I decry riding two abreast, I'm mainly referring to shared paths. You have an eastbound lane and a westbound lane. When you use both going eastbound, it's dangerous for everyone and rude to anyone who wants to pass.

More generally, why ride 2 abreast except to converse? Conversing is to give less than 100% attention to cycling. For my part, cycling is dangerous enough when I'm 100% focused.

Finally, when soneone is riding to my left, it constrains somewhat my options for avoiding trouble. I've also witnessed Fred #1 on the left drift right as Fred #2 on the right drifts left with both going down. Funny but for the young woman behind them who sustained a serious neck injury, thus ending a promising racing career.

Give tickets or lights? I don't see them as alternatives. Do both. Educate too.

Not to be flippant, but I think people that ride two abreast on multi-use paths and can't even stay in their own lane should be shot...

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