Cyclists can make D.C. safer, too
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