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Glad to hear you are OK Mark. I know exactly where you are talking about and I have seen many close calls there, especially with drivers almost hitting pedestrians and runners.

I've talked to the Park Service a few times about the issue as almost every driver rolls through the stop sign right into the crosswalk without looking both ways at a minimum and a surprising number don't even slow down and treat it as a merge.

The Park Service replied to me last fall and basically stated that it was a known issue and they would talk to the Park Police about it but I haven’t seen any change at all. I followed up again this spring with no response. Last week after seeing three cars blow through the stop sign in quick succession without even slowing down or looking both ways (there were pedestrians entering the crosswalk from the DC side who had to jump back) I rode up to a Park Policeman who was parked on Memorial Blvd closer to the cemetery and spoke with him. He admitted it was an issue but they just don’t have the man power to increase enforcement.

It seems to me it would help a lot to have some enforcement (or at least a show of police presence) there a few times a month to try and keep people honest as I'm concerned it is just a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured (if that hasn’t happened already).

If you ever hear anyone complaining about cyclists always running stop signs and breaking the law ask them to go stand by that intersection for a few minutes. It is incredible what you will see drivers do there and the number who do it.

Perhaps you should contact
Bike Arlington with your concerns, both about that particular intersection and the skewed bike accident statistics. Maybe you'll get to speak with Chris Eatough.

Well written and informative post. Thanks.

Thanks for your efforts, Don. And I just might set up with a vid camera down there one weekend, for just the reason you give in your last para.


What would Chris know about bikes, Blue-eye Devil?

(Kidding. I work with the Bike Arlington guys regularly, and Arlington's lucky to have them.)

I was hanging around further down Memorial Dr yesterday for about 45 minutes, at the exit onto 110 East. Witnessed a number of close calls between cyclists crossing the wide off-ramp to get to the Marshall Dr trail on the other side, and cars taking the hi-radius ramp right-turn at speed.

I'm choosing my words here very carefully, but a disproportionate number of problems (enforcement, maintenance, design) with our regional bike network happen on National Park Service property, which just happens to be right smack dab in the middle of the region. And they seem to be accountable to no one.

MB, I also had a crash a number of years ago, where I brushed off the ambulance. Turns out I had a concussion where I didn't feel the symptoms until later in the day. Always be a nuisance, ask for a cop, and get a doctor to check you out.

One complicating factor is that in DC if you involve the police there is a good chance you will end up ticketed yourself. I've heard enough horror-stories about police coming to the emergency romm to track down and ticket cyclists -- with totally specious tickets -- to believe that it's an informal policy.

I agree completely with Mark's comment that a sympathetic law-enforcement environment is the real key to a community being bicycle-friendly. I don't care how many miles of bike lanes you have, how many bicycle coordinators you have or how good your bicycle plan is -- if you have cops who believe that bikes don't belong on the roads, you're not bicycle friendly.

A few observations:
First and most importantly, good to hear that you didn't sustain any more injuries than you did. Hopefully the bumps and bruises will heal up quickly and, bike repaired, you'll be back on the road soon.

I had an almost identical incident where I was riding through a crosswalk - here: http://goo.gl/YDhf - and was hit by a motorist who had boulevard-stopped, and proceeded to hit me. Like the cabbie in your story, he too was looking left to check for oncoming traffic and didn't look to see me coming into the crosswalk.
I very very rarely ride on the sidewalk - but had a bag full of groceries on my back and was going pretty slow. Didn't much matter as the car still hit me and I still ended up down on the asphalt with lots of scrapes and bruises - but nothing too major to me or the bike.
And, like you, while I knew the right course of action - heck, there's a firestation two doors down! - I let it slide.

I haven't had too many close calls since then, but I did end up buying a helmet cam and am going to start using it on the daily commute.

Unfortunately, it seems as though use of video-taping equipment when a police office is present is now considered illegal in some states (MD included). They've latched on to phone-recording /surveillance laws, which stipulate that all parties must consent to being recorded. A totally bogus argument once you're in a public space and there is no expectation of privacy.

Still, I'm going to start using the vid-cam - if nothing else it'll give me some ressurance that if I do end up in an accident with a motorist at fault that I'll have something more to rely on than a questionable police report.

contrarian, good point. Someone wrote in to ask me about a lawyer. They had been sideswiped by a car while riding in a bike lane. The driver got three tickets and the cyclist got one (for inattentive driving or something). So, DC cops will find a way to ticket you (riding too fast, for example) if they want to.

Always get a report. If the officer refuses [common with MPD] ask for an 'official' to respond out to the scene. If they refuse call back 911 [or non-emergency # if outside DC] and tell them you need an official.

Mark, glad to hear you're okay. I travel that way every day and like you said I knew exactly what happened as soon as you clicked the link. Good that it was low speed and without injury.

Thanks, all, for the kind words.

Darren, you make an excellent point re NPS, and it's not a narrowly held view, I think.

Contrarian - I'm perfectly willing to risk a ticket (and the fight that comes with it), but yes, it's definitely not something everyone would be up for.

Bilsko - funny, I wrote about that Maryland issue just yesterday. I'd happily be a test case. That's such an abusive reading of the law that it would be worth some time and treasure to fight it.

This is a clear case of the road people and bike people and planning people and police dept. to evaluate the location for structural design issues and respond appropriately.

I don't know if Arlington does this as a matter of course for every accident (all the more reason to report every accident).

I am proposing it in the bike plan for Baltimore County. San Jose and Portland do it. Probably other jurisdictions do as well.


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