Share the Road, on 4 Wheels or 2

The Washington Post Sunday - - Metro Week - DR. GRID­LOCK Robert Thom­son

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 dr­grid­lock@wash­ In­clude your name, home com­mu­nity and phone num­ber.

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