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You know that's not just any Ranger, but our beloved Bill Line, NPS spokesman who said Capital Bikeshare would, "destroy the nature of what makes the national Mall an American institution".

That makes it so much more interesting.

Where can I get a helmet like that? Hey, at least he's not texting on that phone from the last decade. Nice bag holder too! :)

Hey, at least he has a light and bell, even if the light is tilted up at an angle to more appropriately warn aircraft.

The bag is the scariest part to me. I've had some sketchy moments with bags hanging on handlebars - they've started to oscillate badly.

I've noticed it is very common for people to use headsets now on their bikes. That seems dangerous -- just having the ability to listen makes you a safer rider.

However, I am very guilty of riding with the bag on the handlebars. As long as you go slow, I find it ok.

I took the pic. I was surprised what a crappy bike he has - I thought rangers would have something customized, like what the police have.

I refuse to mock anyone riding a bike. Pretty funny picture though.

I love his choice of bag, though - those Lands End briefcases last for YEARS!

Seriously, there are a bunch of issues here, all of which are excused by law because he's a Ranger on duty, but for the record:

  • Using a non-hands-free phone while operating a vehicle. That's illegal in MD, but I don't know about DC or Federal property.
  • Carrying cargo on the bars. Illegal in VA, but again, not sure about DC or Fed.
  • No helmet. Unfortunately, not illegal anywhere around the region.
  • He's gonna get that right wrist broken when he flips over those bars.

That can't be a NPS bike - do they even have issue bikes? It's his own - a testament to disliking bikes. A friend was riding with her purse like that, it swung into the spokes and she lost two FRONT teeth.

@Joe Flood: Was he riding like that, or just pulled over to the sidewalk to make a phone call?

This picture is everything that's wrong in America. Get that man a better phone!
(also, new bar tape)

I have to admit...I carried a bag like that. Once. It was a Whole Foods grocery bag...given out at Bike to Work Day to carry schwag. I had no other way to carry it down the hill the two blocks from the Discovery pit stop to my office (I now carry a second - empty - pannier on BTWD in case there's anything available worth carting from the pit-stop, usually to re-hand out at my office BTWD events). I started out...got about 50 feet from the pit stop. Bag swung into my front wheel, and I went flying over the handlebars and landed flat on my back. It put me on my chiropractor's table for a good week and a half. Never again.

He was riding, coming down the sidewalk on 15th St, right by the Monument visitor center. I didn't know who he was, just thought it was kind of funny. Dude needs a helmet though - a friend of mine fell off his bike without one and had amnesia for a day.

Why does everyone assume he's on duty and not commuting?

What's wrong with the bike? It's an old-skool (I think) "triple-triangle" GT mountain bike; not exactly elegant, but a real workhorse and leagues ahead of, say, a NEXT or Motiv.

And why does he need a helmet? Foolish riding behavior notwithstanding, he doesn't appear in the pic to be landing on his head.

An unaccustomed as I am to tossing compliments at constables (and again, foolish riding behavior notwithstanding), I will give him the credit of choosing a metabolically-powered vehicle over the standard-issue SUV.

Whether on duty or commuting, if that's the infamous Bill Line, and he was riding on a sidewalk, no wonder he and the NPS think bicycles are a menace.

I bet Bill Line has 6 close calls a day riding like that. He probably thinks all bike riders have similar experiences to him when in fact (again if the photo is a true indication) he's bottom of the food chain in terms of competent and safe cyclists.

This photos is very telling.

I'd add
1. hat, with a wide brim and worn low, will obstruct his view
2. Using rear brake, which is weaker.
3. Light placed between bell makes it harder to use when normally riding
4. Dark clothing, including the bag

Is he on the sidewalk or in the road? If sidewalk, it's either illegal (downtown) or not recommended. If road, I think he's on the wrong side of the road

Unless he's a law enforcement ranger, I doubt he would be riding an NPS-owned bike. And given that he is the official regional "spokes-person", he's probably not law-enforcement, at least not in his current job.

I've got this. He's calling in NPS Police backup on a menacing pedicab he's staring at. That jitney is going DOWN.

Didn't I read here before that any NPS sidewalk is a multi-use path? So if he is riding around the Washington Memorial on the "sidewalk" he is fine.

He's using a bike as a tool to do his job more effectively. Isn't that the whole point of cycling?

"Funny" is someone trying to patrol the Mall area in a car, creeping along in gridlocked traffic, helpless; unable to react effectively,

Face it -- this is real bike advocacy, and your snarky comments are quite the opposite.

You can go to Amsterdamize or Copenhagenize and see millions of photos of highly evolved northern Europeans riding just like the ranger in the picture.

The difference is that those blogs it is celebrated how cycling is normal. Here it is seen as an example of bad behavior.

This is why we have a long way to go before cycling becomes mainstream. Even the true believers (washcycle commenters) take issue and find danger in this picture with very little context. We don't know anything about the environment he is riding in or how fast he is going.

I've done all the things that the ranger is doing and, at the time, given the context, being aware that I am on the phone and have a bag hanging from the bar I adjust my riding style (go slow for instance).

He looks like a reasonable man. I suspect he is riding safely. If we can't grant him that, then why should we be lenient about stop signs and lights by allowing an "Idaho stop" for instance.

1. Just because he's bike commuting (or using his bike as a tool) that doesn't mean that he can do no wrong, and operating a vehicle while talking on the phone means you do both badly - according to the research.
2. Just because you can see photos of people doing this, and riding with a bag on the handlebar, on the internet, that doesn't make it safe. Cycling is normal. Biking dangerously might even be normal. But talking on the phone while biking is almost surely unsafe - again according to the research.
3. Let us not back ourselves into the corner we can't criticize cyclists for their bad behavior lest we think we're undermining bike advocacy. This is especially odd coming from you tom, since my experience is that you are very quick to criticize other cyclists for illegal behavior that is debatable as to whether or not it is dangerous.
4. Evidence shows that operating a vehicle while talking on the phone is not safe, and evidence shows that the Idaho stop is safe. That's the difference between the two.

Your the expert

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