Share the Road, on 4 Wheels or 2
Travelers are as likely to hold each other accountable for traffic problems as they are to blame traffic engineers. When you read these next two letters, you’ll be tempted to take sides. My hope is that you will take them as reminders that we need to look out for each other, just as the writers intended. Dear Dr. Gridlock: It seems that a vast majority of cyclists do not feel that traffic laws apply to them. While I strongly agree that drivers should share the roads and be cognizant of cyclists around them, I also feel that cyclists should follow the same rules that drivers follow when sharing roads designed for cars.
Too often, I see bikers go to the front of intersections by snaking through cars. Often times, I see cyclists go through intersections on a red light or make a right turn where a right on red is not allowed.
This applies to what I have seen from suburban recreational cyclists and does not include the abhorrent behavior I routinely witness from downtown bicycle couriers. Matt Hirt Bethesda Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I bike and walk to work, and for those individuals behind the wheel, your contest is won. There is no way your two-ton vehicle is losing the battle with a bike or pedestrian. If your mission is to intimidate the vulnerable, you have won. However, if you do injure or kill someone, I promise that your battle to explain your behavior will be a lifelong journey. Please slow down.
I cannot read your mind, your intent, when you drive aggressively. The chance of anticipating your maneuver is nearly impossible, so for the sake of others, stop and think. You could maim someone for life. Peggy Gregson
Washington Traffic laws can vary a bit among jurisdictions, and they don’t necessarily cover every situation in which drivers, bikers and walkers find themselves. The new D.C. pedestrian safety law that bars vehicles from driving around stopped buses to make right turns baffles some motorists, because it doesn’t specify a distance limit between the bus and the intersection.
In some situations, we need to fall back on a shared set of expectations about how others will behave.
Paul DeMaio, a biking enthusiast who works for Arlington County, pointed out a new booklet that he describes as the biker’s bible.
“Safe Bicycling in the Washington Area” was produced by a partnership of BikeArlington, the D.C. Department of Transportation and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.
There’s lots of safety information for bikers and for motorists who want to understand what bikers are doing. (You can get a copy by calling the association at 202-518-0524 or by downloading it from the organization’s Web site at www.waba. org.)
Another hopeful step: At least 400 motorists have signed up for the District’s Pace Car program, pledging to drive no faster in their neighborhoods than the 25 mph speed limit, setting a pace for others.
Silver Spring Bypass
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
In Silver Spring, vehicles traveling west on Spring Street and turning right onto northbound Colesville Road have only a 15-second green light. Vehicles are not allowed to turn right on red. Why not have a right-turn green arrow? Barry Gross
Donating Fare Cards
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
In San Francisco, BART riders are able to easily donate their unused “tiny tickets” to charities. It would be great if Metro could team up with a community foundation and do the same.
People are often left with negligible amounts on their fare cards. Commuters could drop such cards in well-placed, secure boxes at each station. Ellen Sittenfeld Battistelli
Silver Spring Smart idea. Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said the transit authority is considering such a program.
The Maryland State Highway Administration sees it your way. Spokesman Chuck Gischlar said that the agency is designing a new signal system at this intersection, which is very busy during rush hour, when traffic is bypassing downtown Silver Spring. It will include a right-turn arrow for the Spring Street traffic.
The signal modifications, to be installed by year’s end, will give southbound Route 29 traffic a green arrow to turn onto eastbound Spring Street at the same time. There will also be a countdown signal for the crosswalk with an audible signal for visually impaired pedestrians. Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in the Extras and Sunday in the Metro section. You can e-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, home community and phone number.