Cy­clists can make D.C. safer, too

The Washington Post - - FREE FOR ALL -

As the Sept. 12 Health & Sci­ence Bik­ing Health pack­age “Ride a bike to work? D.C. gives it a spin” il­lus­trated, bik­ing to work can be re­ward­ing, but shar­ing the road with much larger and faster ve­hi­cles poses risks that can re­sult in tragedy. A sim­i­lar po­ten­tial for tragedy lurks on the side­walks, which is why I urge cy­clists who opt for the side­walk in­stead of the road to ex­am­ine their own com­mut­ing be­hav­iors.

Too of­ten I have wit­nessed pedes­tri­ans nearly clipped as cy­clists on the side­walk whiz by at fright­en­ing speeds, es­pe­cially on steep down­hill grades (e.g., Mas­sachusetts Av­enue from Wis­con­sin Av­enue to White­haven Street NW). Many do not an­nounce their ap­proach, or their warn­ings are drowned out by traf­fic noise.

The risks for a side­walk col­li­sion are con­sid­er­ably re­duced when cy­clists slow down and cut a wide berth. Cau­tious and con­sid­er­ate cy­clists rou­tinely do this, aware that they share a side­walk, not an al­ter­nate road­way/bik­ing lane. Yes, pedes­tri­ans have an obli­ga­tion to share the side­walk, look up and be aware. But so far as I know, they have not been ad­vised to wear hel­mets. Given the reck­less be­hav­ior of some cy­clists I’ve en­coun­tered, per­haps they should.

Lau­ren Pat­ten, Wash­ing­ton

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