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Dickie
03-23-2012, 05:15 PM
Dear All.

I have been an avid cyclist in the Arlington area for the last 5 years. I log about 4000 miles a year and commute nearly every day. Over the last few years, as the number of cyclists in our area have grown, I've noticed a disproportionate number of traffic violations. I've lost count this week alone at the number of riders that have recklessly passed through red lights while I am sitting waiting with traffic for the right of way... the worst areas being the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor. I don't claim to be a saint, and admit I will occasionally perform rolling stops at stop signs when no traffic is present, but besides obeying the law, I consider it my responsibility to earn respect on the road from drivers and pedestrians alike. Every single time a rider breaks the law in the face of others I feel my life becomes less safe on the road. I have been accosted by drivers in the wake of such disregard for the laws of the road, and yet we are the first to complain when the community doesn't take us seriously. Today I witnessed such an individual break law after law, and watched as drivers became increasingly irritated, some even acting out their frustrations on me. I finally had enough and complained to the gentleman (not so politely) when I caught him up. His response was not surprising, but it made me wonder what can be done? How many of you deal with this/are the offenders/don't care/see it totally differently?

- RS

acc
03-23-2012, 05:44 PM
I believe this is a real and serious problem. Perhaps it is a result of our success in promoting cycling and developing biking infrastructure. Now that people see it is possible to bike to and from work or for recreation our new challenges become finding ways to educate newcomers about bike safety and bike etiquette.

ann

off2ride
03-23-2012, 09:54 PM
I talk to this cop almost daily at my job about cyclists that break the law in the city and basically he says who ever caused the accident, if it did happen, is the one that will be cited. He witnesses peds and cyclists break the law daily. Mostly for J walking while they're browsing on their phone. Motorists that are pissed off at cyclists must have had a bad experience from cyclists. So now they have no patience for our kind. They see us as targets and probably will provoke given the chance.

I see a lot of riders just blast past red lights, stop signs without really looking. Earlier this year while riding through Falls Church, in the dark, (that section on the W&OD with back to back x-walks before the RT 7 overpass) this rider gave me an annoying grunt because I stopped for a incoming truck. Hmm let me see, it's dark, I saw headlights to my left so I stopped. He saw the truck but decided to just gun it to the other side. The bozo makes it safely!!! I was just shaking my head. You see? My point here is some riders are too confident. They think that they are bullet proof or just totally oblivious to their surroundings. On the other side of this Earth, I'm not saying which country, peds and cyclists are NOT given ample space. They risk it every time they are out there so they dare not risk it. After all, coming home in one piece is truly a blessing.

KLizotte
03-23-2012, 10:55 PM
I agree with off2ride that many (probably most) of these cyclists are simply overconfident and often like the adrenaline rush of blowing through intersections.

I wish these folks would realize that they are ambassadors for the cycling community at large; bad behavior affects others and even themselves in the long run. Some will learn the hard way.

I'm glad rsewell confronted the scofflaw cyclist. Even though the scofflaw didn't respond with contrition, it's possible that when he got home and had time to reflect he may have had a change of heart.

TwoWheelsDC
03-24-2012, 01:50 AM
I agree that cyclists face an uphill battle to get our share of the roads...to that end I try to be safe because it gives drivers one less reason to want to run me off the road. I generally stop and wait at lights, use signals, and yield when necessary. These are the same types of behaviors i exhibit when driving...because it makes me safer.

that said, what I really think is that this scofflaw talk is a bunch of BS and is an excuse to keep cyclists off the road. "you gotta be safe to earn your right to the road". What a load...why aren't drivers held to this standard? Why do cyclists get singled out as this menace? It's not because we make the roads less safe, it's because drivers don't like to take their foot off the gas for half a second. It's because drivers see cyclists hop a red light and wish they could do it too. I think we've also adopted this macho mentality, that now has become a subconscious thing, that driving=power/affluence and not driving is a sign of weakness. How else do you explain why some people drive a half mile to the store to buy only a carton of milk or whatever?

I think the only thing that is going to get cyclists more respect is for more drivers to become cyclists...that will be driven partly by necessity (high gas prices, weight loss, etc...) and partly by advocacy. But just stopping for red lights or stopping at crosswalks is never going to get us anywhere...drivers always will just find more excuses to run us off the road.

5555624
03-24-2012, 05:23 AM
Unfortunately, bad drivers make bad cyclists -- regardless of the vehicle, they will do what they want. They don't care about others and I thik it's the same when they are behind the wheel. As mentioned elsewhere, I've said something to cyclists running red lights. I've been told the law says cyclists don't have to stop, just need to stop can then continue through red lights, that it's safer, etc. As more people start cycling, more of them will bring their bad driving habits from thei cars to their bikes.

vvill
03-24-2012, 08:44 AM
I see as many bad cyclist manoeuvres these days as I used to see bad drivers when I drove to work. Probably because I am coming through Georgetown 1 hr later than before (since DST). There's some pretty stupid stuff though. Racing through the Lynn St intersection when it's flashing red with 2 seconds left and annoying drivers who've already been waiting to make their right turn. Speeding in between lanes on M St between a moving bus on the right and other moving vehicles on the left. Not yielding to moving traffic in the circle at Washington Circle.

Some of it is from clearly experienced cyclists, which irks me more. The other day I was coming down the end of the Custis which is dangerous enough in itself when crowded, and three cyclists sped past me on the left (with no signal), and then, due to a gaggle of kids with luggage standing at the Fort Myer Dr crossing, swung right at high speed and salmoned down Lee Hwy and across the intersection, even as the ped light was red. Even stupider thing was, I ended up right behind them at the Lynn St crossing since they didn't make that light, and all I did was slow down enough for the group of kids to make room for me to pass, and cross with the green ped light. Those are times you wish you were omnipotent and had a [Smite] button.

I just have to channel my inner Dirt, otherwise it would be too much frustration for daily commuting.

off2ride
03-24-2012, 11:04 PM
I've been commuting by bike in the DC area since the mid 90's and I must say that when I witness riders do stupid things on the bike, I just shake my head. It doesn't even bother me anymore. What does bother me easily is when I see young kids riding their bikes with their parents/guardians without helmets on. I confronted this guy once about his kid not wearing a helmet. I think he wanted to tell me to get lost but he knew I meant well so he just kindof gave me a lame excuse. So in return, I gave him the "rolling of the eyes" effect then left. Some people are just clueless.

PotomacCyclist
03-25-2012, 09:19 AM
I see plenty of foolish, dangerous and illegal behavior from some cyclists. Pedestrians too. But I see just as much of this behavior from car drivers, so I can't really jump on any bandwagon about how cyclists are the only ones who don't obey all the laws. I see people driving cars while texting or websurfing on their phones every single week. They pull out of driveways, parking lots and parking spaces without looking to see if there is any traffic (car, bike or pedestrian). In off-peak hours, I see car drivers blow through red lights because they don't think anyone will see them. Then there's the fact that the majority of drivers exceed the speed limit, and not just on highways and limited-access roads. Or if they aren't exceeding the speed limit, they are certainly not driving safely for the road conditions and the neighborhood. Going from 0 to 25 mph in the space of a couple blocks is not safe, even if 25 mph is the official limit.

I know that if I didn't practice defensive cycling (by assuming that drivers are not even trying to look at what is around them), I would get hit almost every week. Fortunately, because I keep my eyes open, especially at intersections and parking garage/parking lot exits, I haven't been hit yet. But it still is worrisome that in several polls, 25 to 40 percent of drivers admit to texting while driving.

slowtriguy
03-25-2012, 12:20 PM
Some of it is from clearly experienced cyclists, which irks me more. The other day I was coming down the end of the Custis which is dangerous enough in itself when crowded, and three cyclists sped past me on the left (with no signal), and then, due to a gaggle of kids with luggage standing at the Fort Myer Dr crossing, swung right at high speed and salmoned down Lee Hwy and across the intersection, even as the ped light was red. Even stupider thing was, I ended up right behind them at the Lynn St crossing since they didn't make that light, and all I did was slow down enough for the group of kids to make room for me to pass, and cross with the green ped light. Those are times you wish you were omnipotent and had a [Smite] button.


This is a great example of the bad cyclist behavior that genuinely puzzles me the most. I share this not in an attempt to start or renew any flamewars, but mostly to get this question off my chest.

I'm constantly amazed by cyclists and pedestrians who run the red light at the W&OD crossing of Washington/Lee/Fairfax just west of the East Falls Church Metro. I see this in all weather conditions and in the mornings, during the day, and in the evening rush hour. It's a really busy intersection and people turning right off the Fairfax highway offramp often don't notice trail users until it's almost too late -- it's an accident waiting to happen.

Here's why I am puzzled. I stop at this light, every time. 90+% of the time, I catch up to and pass all the red light runners within a quarter mile past the intersection. So running the light saves them negligible amounts of time, but risks serious or fatal injury, and gives cyclists a bad name. So -- why run *this specific* light? What am I missing?

And yes, I recognize that I should no longer be puzzled by this -- after all, I see it every day -- but still, it puzzles me.

brendan
03-25-2012, 01:30 PM
Here's why I am puzzled. I stop at this light, every time. 90+% of the time, I catch up to and pass all the red light runners within a quarter mile past the intersection. So running the light saves them negligible amounts of time, but risks serious or fatal injury, and gives cyclists a bad name. So -- why run *this specific* light? What am I missing?

And yes, I recognize that I should no longer be puzzled by this -- after all, I see it every day -- but still, it puzzles me.

Well, you're clearly faster than those cyclists. :)

I see a few factors as to why people both "run" it as well as cross against the light when it appears clear: a) not thinking through the fact that this crossing interfaces with people who are still driving in highway mode, b) it is a longer cycle light than any other W&OD crossing nearby and c) the light pattern is complex, e.g. the east (north) bound lee hwy light turns red before the west (south) bound light does, but trail users can only see the former. Granted, they can see the don't-walk signal just fine, but I'm guessing most cyclists are used to looking left and right and jumping the light a little when they see that yellow light happen on the cross street. But, you just can't assume that it's turning yellow for both directions.

Brendan

MCL1981
03-25-2012, 03:10 PM
but I'm guessing most cyclists are used to looking left and right and jumping the light a little when they see that yellow light happen on the cross street. But, you just can't assume that it's turning yellow for both directions.

Ya I learned the frighting way when I started commuting. There are intersections in DC like that. Those intersections, looking both ways doesn't cut it either because you can't tell when some other phase is about to get a green and open the flood gates on your ass.

americancyclo
03-25-2012, 08:09 PM
As a heads up to all us scofflaws out there, washcycle posted that a street smart cyclist campaign will be running during the Monday morning commute , so be warned. Police are out to get ya!

mstone
03-25-2012, 08:45 PM
To be fair, it's not like the turning cars always stop when the walk signal is on. I wonder sometimes what the point is of waiting for the walk signal vs just going when there's a break in traffic. I suppose it's important for your heirs?

What would be nice is if the push to cross actually had a priority. If there's plenty of room for several cyclists to cross in the gap, why not just have the signal change a bit earlier? Is that 30s for pedestrians/cyclists really so much of an imposition?

JeffC
03-26-2012, 09:24 AM
The common thread of many complaints about idiot cyclists and drivers is why people consistently do reckless and dangerous acts that ultimately save them no time, e.g., the driver who speeds up to pass me for a yellow light only to be stuck 1/8th of a mile ahead at the next red light. I don't have any obvious answer for why people do such stupid acts over and over. It's a disconcerting observation about human nature though. As a cyclist and father of two young kids, I know I have gotten much more cautious over the years. In a crowded place like DC with a bunch of type A fanatics this type of uncivil behaviour it is aggravating and much at odds with what I witness elsewhere.

It reminds me of reading about the recently deceased UCLA Political Scientist James Wilson and his "Broken Window" theory, namely that the more decay such as broken windows and grafitti one sees, the more it acts as a green light for others. There is something similar with driving/biking behaviour. When one constantly sees moronic behaviour as described in this thread, it seemingly gives a pass to others to act that way, e.g. everybody else is texting and driving even if it is against the law so why can't I?.

The best that we can do is to always be on our best behaviour out there, tell others that don't announce they are passing to do so next time, etc. Through your own actions, be the change you want to promote to others.

Ultimately though, I think it takes lengthy public campaigns to change perceptions. The anti drunk driving campaign has been very successful in this regard but sadly most campaigns seem to be failures--can anybody remember the nationwide push to "Drive 55"?

mstone
03-26-2012, 10:17 AM
The common thread of many complaints about idiot cyclists and drivers is why people consistently do reckless and dangerous acts that ultimately save them no time,

I think the only consistency is the imprecise nature of the complaints. E.g., what does it mean to "blow through a light"? Does that mean to continue through a red without stopping? To proceed after slowing and looking? To proceed after a stop? When using such imprecise terms, the argument consists of what each participant has in mind, which is likely different than what anyone else is thinking. The crosswalk signal argument is similar. Is it really inherently unsafe to go while the signal is red and inherently safe when the signal is white? There's a legal argument and a safety argument, and people conflate the two in a hard-to-discuss confusion of different concepts. It might be very rational to argue from a safety standpoint that crossing signals without a dedicated cycle are inherently unsafe, and should be ignored in favor of simply crossing when traffic permits (though this would be illegal). It would certainly be an easier conversation if it were clear that the crossing devices were configured for the safety of pedestrians/cyclists rather than the convenience of the motoring public.

consularrider
03-26-2012, 10:53 AM
This is a great example of the bad cyclist behavior that genuinely puzzles me the most. I share this not in an attempt to start or renew any flamewars, but mostly to get this question off my chest.

I'm constantly amazed by cyclists and pedestrians who run the red light at the W&OD crossing of Washington/Lee/Fairfax just west of the East Falls Church Metro. I see this in all weather conditions and in the mornings, during the day, and in the evening rush hour. It's a really busy intersection and people turning right off the Fairfax highway offramp often don't notice trail users until it's almost too late -- it's an accident waiting to happen.

Here's why I am puzzled. I stop at this light, every time. 90+% of the time, I catch up to and pass all the red light runners within a quarter mile past the intersection. So running the light saves them negligible amounts of time, but risks serious or fatal injury, and gives cyclists a bad name. So -- why run *this specific* light? What am I missing?

And yes, I recognize that I should no longer be puzzled by this -- after all, I see it every day -- but still, it puzzles me.

The light at this intersection is one of the most illogical in the area. The trail there gets so much use, neither pedestrians nor cyclists should have to push the button to activate the walk light, especially for those heading west since Washington Blvd is one-way heading east and there is no other signal that a trail user can see to judge the light. Arlington's traffic engineers don't seen to be interested (or the similar lights at Four Mile Run and Shirlington Rd or Four Mile Run and Columbia Pike).

Most (again that's most, sure there are some who go at any break in the traffic) of the cyclists I see go through the red wait until the the northbound traffic on Lee Highway gets a red light. I rarely see anyone turning left off Lee Highway onto Washington Blvd and the length of the red is overly long. This is probably another intersection where the left turn arrow should get an induction loop to activate.

americancyclo
03-26-2012, 11:42 AM
The East Falls Church Area Plan Recommendation 32. would take care of all these issues, providing a grade separated crossing of Lee Highway/Washington Blvd. up past the EFC metro and down to meet up with East Falls Church park just before the hill at Brandymore Castle. That would be ideal!

Undertake a study of options, in cooperation
with the City of Falls Church and the
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority,
to connect the W&OD Trail from west of Lee
Highway to east of Sycamore Street, including
possible grade separations.

dasgeh
03-26-2012, 12:14 PM
It reminds me of reading about the recently deceased UCLA Political Scientist James Wilson and his "Broken Window" theory, namely that the more decay such as broken windows and grafitti one sees, the more it acts as a green light for others. There is something similar with driving/biking behaviour. When one constantly sees moronic behaviour as described in this thread, it seemingly gives a pass to others to act that way, e.g. everybody else is texting and driving even if it is against the law so why can't I?.

In my mind, the part that we can control is rationalizing the law. For example, stop signs. On a bike, the Idaho stop makes the most sense, but isn't the law. So as I roll towards a stop sign, then roll through either when it's my turn or there's no one around, I am technically breaking the law. So jumping the light doesn't seem that bad, because it's the same class of "breaking the law" that I do with the stop sign. Or take light timing -- around here, I have little to no faith that the lights are timed to be efficient, and from my experience I think they disadvantage cyclists and peds. So as I cyclist/ped, I am more likely to ignore them. This is in stark contrast to my experience in Germany, where most of the time if the ped light is red it's because there are cars coming. As a ped, you don't bother to look around for cars -- if you see the red ped sign, you stop. Compare to the area around the Lincoln, where there are light cycles where there is no way for a car to be coming (because of reds at other lights, and no other feeder roads), yet the peds have red. So it makes sense to look around for cars even if the ped signal is red.

If the law -- and the timing of the lights -- were such that the rules really did make sense for safe and efficient cycling, then I believe most people would follow them.

I give you that there will always be a few morons who break laws just to break laws. And a small percentage who follow every law because it's the law. I think the majority of people do what they _think_ is in their best interest - i.e. safe and fast. The best solution is for what's fast and safe to be the actual law, because then others would know to expect it.

<Sorry, I'm particularly inarticulate today. Stupid cold. I hope this makes some sense.>

pfunkallstar
03-26-2012, 01:09 PM
The light at this intersection is one of the most illogical in the area. The trail there gets so much use, neither pedestrians nor cyclists should have to push the button to activate the walk light, especially for those heading west since Washington Blvd is one-way heading east and there is no other signal that a trail user can see to judge the light. Arlington's traffic engineers don't seen to be interested (or the similar lights at Four Mile Run and Shirlington Rd or Four Mile Run and Columbia Pike).

Most (again that's most, sure there are some who go at any break in the traffic) of the cyclists I see go through the red wait until the the northbound traffic on Lee Highway gets a red light. I rarely see anyone turning left off Lee Highway onto Washington Blvd and the length of the red is overly long. This is probably another intersection where the left turn arrow should get an induction loop to activate.

I live about a mile up from that in the middle of Falls Church and will gladly lump myself into the greater whole of "red light runners" - especially heading back home in the evening. There are of course a number of things to be mindful of, will the drivers notice the "no turn on red" signal, will those making a right onto Lee Hwy yield, has someone actually pushed the button? I filled out a survey, along with many other frequent forum users, about six or eight months ago regarding this intersection and there seems to be little or no movement on it.

eminva
03-26-2012, 01:28 PM
Another intersection that seems to invite scofflawery (is that a word? If not, it should be) is the W&OD and Gallows intersection. I am eternally grateful for the light there, but it is timed so that the wait seems interminable. Indeed, many cyclists don't wait. I admit, on those rare days when I get a LONG break in traffic both ways, I will cross against the light. However, I've seen cyclists go when a line of cars is stopped at a light further down the road in either direction. This seems kind of dangerous to me, because if the light changes and traffic starts moving while you are in the middle of the intersection, they might not necessarily be expecting you to be there when they hit the gas pedal, to say nothing of the two lanes of traffic issue (e.g., a car may stop for you in one lane, but who knows what the driver in Lane #2 will do).

Liz

P.S. I saw no signs of the big law enforcement push this morning.

americancyclo
03-26-2012, 01:35 PM
I live about a mile up from that in the middle of Falls Church and will gladly lump myself into the greater whole of "red light runners" - especially heading back home in the evening. There are of course a number of things to be mindful of, will the drivers notice the "no turn on red" signal, will those making a right onto Lee Hwy yield, has someone actually pushed the button? I filled out a survey, along with many other frequent forum users, about six or eight months ago regarding this intersection and there seems to be little or no movement on it.

I think the NVRPA study about that intersection was supposed to provide input to the East Falls Church Master Plan supporting the 'realighnment' of the W&OD at that intersection, which really just straightens out the kink just west of the intersection, but will probably do nothing for the line of sight or light pattern.

Another intersection that seems to invite scofflawery (is that a word? If not, it should be) is the W&OD and Gallows intersection. I am eternally grateful for the light there, but it is timed so that the wait seems interminable.

Have you ever timed it? I timed the Lynn St Death Zone once, and the light at Lynn was 40 seconds. I decided I don't ever need to jump that light again, although I see many others cut it close. I know gallows is a longer wait, but it would be interesting to know exactly how long.

mstone
03-26-2012, 01:46 PM
Another intersection that seems to invite scofflawery (is that a word? If not, it should be) is the W&OD and Gallows intersection

That's one that's quite clearly configured to not interfere much with motorists. It will not give pedestrians a signal more than once ever N minutes. If you see the cross signal lit while you're approaching, you know you're screwed because it'll be red by the time you get there and you'll have to sit a couple of minutes. Yet while it makes sure cars don't get inconvenienced too much, it has a very short cycle for pedestrians, and quite often there's a scramble to clear the road when it's backed up on both sides. What's even more hilarious about the timing is that it is quite clearly possible to give peds their 20s in periods when there's no traffic coming due to light timings up and down the street--quite often it doesn't change until the cars from the next light turning green are just starting to reach the crosswalk. So I'll bet it also generates a lot of motorist complaints. Ignoring the signal is pretty safe at slack times because the sight lines are good and it's a mid-block crossing so there aren't any turning cars. The only upside to the signal is that it gives people a chance to cross at times when the traffic is heavy enough that there are no breaks. Oh, and it's out on a fairly regular basis, so everyone has to learn how to cross without the signal anyway.

off2ride
03-26-2012, 02:41 PM
Yes, that intersection (Gallows and W&OD) is dicey if the cyclist was to cross it RED. After pacing with with this rider, he decides he wasn't going to wait for the light to turn green to cross Gallows. Guess what happened after he crossed?


That's one that's quite clearly configured to not interfere much with motorists. It will not give pedestrians a signal more than once ever N minutes. If you see the cross signal lit while you're approaching, you know you're screwed because it'll be red by the time you get there and you'll have to sit a couple of minutes. Yet while it makes sure cars don't get inconvenienced too much, it has a very short cycle for pedestrians, and quite often there's a scramble to clear the road when it's backed up on both sides. What's even more hilarious about the timing is that it is quite clearly possible to give peds their 20s in periods when there's no traffic coming due to light timings up and down the street--quite often it doesn't change until the cars from the next light turning green are just starting to reach the crosswalk. So I'll bet it also generates a lot of motorist complaints. Ignoring the signal is pretty safe at slack times because the sight lines are good and it's a mid-block crossing so there aren't any turning cars. The only upside to the signal is that it gives people a chance to cross at times when the traffic is heavy enough that there are no breaks. Oh, and it's out on a fairly regular basis, so everyone has to learn how to cross without the signal anyway.

consularrider
03-26-2012, 03:04 PM
I live about a mile up from that in the middle of Falls Church and will gladly lump myself into the greater whole of "red light runners" - especially heading back home in the evening. There are of course a number of things to be mindful of, will the drivers notice the "no turn on red" signal, will those making a right onto Lee Hwy yield, has someone actually pushed the button? I filled out a survey, along with many other frequent forum users, about six or eight months ago regarding this intersection and there seems to be little or no movement on it.

It does seem to me that the southbound left turn arrow is just a little shorter than what I remember from last fall (I go through this intersection at least weekly). Maybe it's just wishful thinking.

pfunkallstar
03-26-2012, 03:21 PM
I think the NVRPA study about that intersection was supposed to provide input to the East Falls Church Master Plan supporting the 'realighnment' of the W&OD at that intersection, which really just straightens out the kink just west of the intersection, but will probably do nothing for the line of sight or light pattern.




Things get that much more crazy in the evening at the Lee Highway intersection when you have bikers merging from the left after cutting over on Westmoreland street. Frankly, having taken both routes, the route up Van Buren is faster and usually works out pretty well with the light.

americancyclo
03-26-2012, 04:12 PM
Things get that much more crazy in the evening at the Lee Highway intersection when you have bikers merging from the left after cutting over on Westmoreland street. Frankly, having taken both routes, the route up Van Buren is faster and usually works out pretty well with the light.

heading both directions, I used to take Westmoreland, but now I'm strictly Van Buren. I haven't noticed any change in my commute time, but I do feel safer going in both directions.

elcee
03-26-2012, 04:27 PM
That's one that's quite clearly configured to not interfere much with motorists. It will not give pedestrians a signal more than once ever N minutes. If you see the cross signal lit while you're approaching, you know you're screwed because it'll be red by the time you get there and you'll have to sit a couple of minutes. Yet while it makes sure cars don't get inconvenienced too much, it has a very short cycle for pedestrians, and quite often there's a scramble to clear the road when it's backed up on both sides. ...

There are now traffic light controllers that can automatically track cars, bikes, and pedestrians. Gallows Road and Lee/Lynn are just crying out loudly for such systems.

http://www.aldiscorp.com/solutions/gridsmart/#product (and others)

StopMeansStop
03-26-2012, 07:21 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyxLGSMtqtM

vvill
03-26-2012, 10:37 PM
heading both directions, I used to take Westmoreland, but now I'm strictly Van Buren. I haven't noticed any change in my commute time, but I do feel safer going in both directions.

I take a pretty big detour around this intersection... going west, I take a left at Van Buren and then follow Columbia, cross Washington with the light (which never seems to take as long as the main W&OD light), and then take a right at Little Falls.

pfunkallstar
03-27-2012, 09:00 AM
There are now traffic light controllers that can automatically track cars, bikes, and pedestrians. Gallows Road and Lee/Lynn are just crying out loudly for such systems.

http://www.aldiscorp.com/solutions/gridsmart/#product (and others)

A friend of mine used to work on traffic modeling, her take was that no matter how many data inputs you get, and no matter the granularity of that data, a lot of it still boils down to luck.

DaveK
03-27-2012, 10:00 AM
A friend of mine used to work on traffic modeling, her take was that no matter how many data inputs you get, and no matter the granularity of that data, a lot of it still boils down to luck.

This is frighteningly true.

Terpfan
03-27-2012, 11:30 AM
I actually had a fellow cyclist point out to me I was breaking the law yesterday for riding on the sidewalk. Sadly, tis true, albeit because it was early morning and I hopped off the road to stop at an atm. I should have hopped off the bike and walked the short half-block distance, but seeing only two pedestrians and it's a really wide sidewalk (down by McPherson), I rode. But I think there is a difference between cautious limited breaking of the law and full fledged running of red lights/crosswalks/etc. Then again, I guess I'm justifying my wrong to make a right.

As for following crosswalks/lights/stop signs and have very rarely not done it and usually for reason of no traffic late at night sort of situation. What's been irking me is people passing on the left, with no calls, in between two and sometimes three people on narrow and dangerous sections of the MVT such as at the northern tip of the fence along National Airport. The room for error there is miniscule and a slight bump would send whoever is riding southbound into the GWP head on with 50-60mph traffic. It's just this arrogant recklessness that I can't understand.

In the city, I actually notice most people following the signage/lights. There are a few bad apples (some trying to fly by the tourists on the trails around the Washington Monument and I'm thinking either slow down or go onto the road). Recently driver-wise, I've noticed some backups on I Street and Metro busses are notorious with blocking the intersection there at 15th forcing the cyclists from both sides to go into the middle of the road and nearly hit each other and passing traffic to cross.

GuyContinental
03-28-2012, 11:43 AM
There are some really good thoughts in here about the intent of the law (IMO safety) and how that impacts interpretation of an intersection. I have the "fortune" to hit every major crossing on the WO&D from Custis to Rt 28 on my commute. At 5:30 am there is no way that I'm going to sit at an empty Gallows Rd or Maple Ave but I'll sit there every time at 5:30 pm (and they are indeed lonnnng). Washington/Lee I'll run if the Lee light is red. Whiele can be pretty sketchy (and has no ped light) but seems like it is always red for cars. Sterling Blvd is plain terrifying at the wrong time of day.

As for the 32 bike stop signs on my route, I will slow (Idaho) and make eye contact/get approval with drivers before proceeding on any but the most minor crossings (those I coast, stand and look). Frankly, there are LOTS of these that should be bike yield, car stop based on the volume of travel.

All that being said, on roads, with traffic, bikes absolutely need to follow the laws so-as to be as predictable as possible. Wilson blvd at rush hour is truly the picture of cycling misbehavior.

creadinger
03-28-2012, 02:06 PM
Another thing to consider is our interaction with GOOD drivers who wave us through stop signs and other intersections and developing a conditioned response.

As I approach stop signs I always slow down usually expecting to have to stop for a car or ped unless there are huge sightlines and I know it's clear. A lot of times though, a driver who pulls up around the same time as me will wave me through so that I don't have to stop. It's definitely nice of them, but as this continually happens you develop a sort of conditioned response to almost expect it's going to happen and not slow down as much as you normally would. Especially at familiar intersections, which is all of them for you daily commuters. It becomes a problem when you run into the dude who is running late for something, expecting to do the same thing as you, the only difference is he's in a 4,000lb car.

Not sure where I'm going with this, but I was thinking about it last night. We mostly focus on the bad drivers or flaunt the law (and safety!) cyclists, but sometimes nice people can have side effects as well. It's way too easy to fall into bad habits, especially when momentum is so important.

CCrew
03-28-2012, 03:29 PM
Another thing to consider is our interaction with GOOD drivers who wave us through stop signs and other intersections and developing a conditioned response.

Those drivers can be dangerous as hell, sorry to say.

jrenaut
03-28-2012, 03:37 PM
Those drivers can be dangerous as hell, sorry to say.
Yeah, I'll never forget my mom explaining "courtesy accidents" to me, at length, over and over, as I was learning to drive.

GuyContinental
03-28-2012, 03:50 PM
Some of my worst moments on a bike have come from a car in only one lane of a multi-lane road stopping; it virtually guarantees that the curb lane won't be able to see you. I'll usually wave them on unless the traffic break is clear. Whiele and Sterling Blvds are bad this way.

Still, if they do expect you to "play through" at least give them a friendly wave and firm eye contact.

brendan
03-28-2012, 03:54 PM
Those drivers can be dangerous as hell, sorry to say.

It's kind of a catch-22, though, isn't it?

Regular drivers on signal-free/sign-free crossings (from their perspective) of the W&OD don't particularly want to hit cyclists. Since cyclists approach quickly and some blast through the stop signs on the trail, many drivers have learned to slow down on approach and some now stop when they see a cyclist waiting/approaching, even though the car has right of way.

Which, as you say, can be dangerous for cyclists as well as drivers/passengers (see the history of GW Parkway trail crossings near Memorial Bridge). Particularly near turns or multi-lane crossings.

When one lane stops, I give courteous (where there's trail crossing signage) and over-courteous (where there's none) drivers some hand signals attempting to communicate that I'm waiting for both lanes of traffic going their direction to stop before I cross. Most seem to get it, I think.

Also, never wave a car on until you check to make sure there's no one behind you or coming the other way. I saw a near disaster a few weeks back due to this.

Brendan

PS - what's the law regarding the diamond signs indicating an uncontrolled pedestrian/bike crossing of the road? It's just a warning to be cautious there with no obligation to stop to allow pedestrians/bikes to cross unless they are already in the crosswalk, right?

baiskeli
03-28-2012, 04:10 PM
Yeah, I'll never forget my mom explaining "courtesy accidents" to me, at length, over and over, as I was learning to drive.

I hate when I coach my kids to stop and look before crossing the street, and then somebody is nice and lets us through first. Ruins the lesson.

mstone
03-28-2012, 05:07 PM
Sterling Blvd is plain terrifying at the wrong time of day.

I don't think there's ever a time of day when someone can look at that mess and say "this was well planned". A four lane highway with a crosswalk on it. They couldn't even move the start of the turn lane down 50 feet so we'd have 10 feet less pavement to scurry across.

edit to add: Oh, I did forget to acknowledge that they did zig-zaggy pavement lines approaching the crosswalk, which protects pedestrians and cyclists by indicating to drivers that they've suddenly been transported to Europe.

acc
03-28-2012, 05:49 PM
I don't think there's ever a time of day when someone can look at that mess and say "this was well planned". A four lane highway with a crosswalk on it. They couldn't even move the start of the turn lane down 50 feet so we'd have 10 feet less pavement to scurry across.

edit to add: Oh, I did forget to acknowledge that they did zig-zaggy pavement lines approaching the crosswalk, which protects pedestrians and cyclists by indicating to drivers that they've suddenly been transported to Europe.

When I started to ride further from home that intersection became my turning around point. I watched a lot of cyclists go across it before I tried it. Over time I've become accustomed to it but I don't like it. Just like a lot of other things, the first few times are harrowing and then you settle down, grit your teeth and do it.

rcannon100
03-28-2012, 05:52 PM
Yeah, I'll never forget my mom explaining "courtesy accidents" to me, at length, over and over, as I was learning to drive.

OH! The worst! I have kids and I am drilling it in their head - BE PREDICTABLE - FOLLOW RIGHT OF WAY. If you are "courteous" out of compliance with right of way, then you are not predictable. I have seen terrible terrible things - when someone thinks their being courteous, but cause a near miss because the other drivers cant predict, dont understand, what is going on.

Rule number one: Be predictable.

CCrew
03-28-2012, 06:51 PM
edit to add: Oh, I did forget to acknowledge that they did zig-zaggy pavement lines approaching the crosswalk, which protects pedestrians and cyclists by indicating to drivers that they've suddenly been transported to Europe.

Yeah, those ziggy-zaggy's work well at Belmont Ridge Road with the almost blind curve.

Tim Kelley
03-29-2012, 09:17 AM
Rule number one: Be predictable.

We'd tend to agree: http://www.bikearlington.com/pages/pal-safety-on-our-streets/

GuyContinental
03-29-2012, 09:22 AM
...The first few times are harrowing and then you settle down, grit your teeth and do it.

I'm a pretty solid rider, but zoned out a bit there a few weeks ago and didn't drop out of my big ring when I stopped- I grabbed my traffic gap and basically didn't move. Then I flubbed my clip-in and had to scramble like a crazed duck to the median. It was ugly...

acc
03-29-2012, 10:10 AM
Yes, it happens. My mouth went instantly dry visualizing that situation. My biggest challenge at the moment is coming up with the guts to take the lane when I've got a big truck behind me and essentially nowhere to go except into the curb. This is my next teeth gritting experience.

ann

GuyContinental
03-29-2012, 10:36 AM
Yes, it happens. My mouth went instantly dry visualizing that situation. My biggest challenge at the moment is coming up with the guts to take the lane when I've got a big truck behind me and essentially nowhere to go except into the curb. This is my next teeth gritting experience.

Make eye contact and smile- that guy really doesn't want to run you over. Also, be super-aware of the right hook and never never never hang out at the FR corner of a stationary truck.

If it makes you feel any better, I run operations for a company with a fleet of class C (14K lbs) box trucks. As a result, all of my drivers are keenly aware that an aggressive driving complaint from a cyclist would be a very very bad thing for their career... (not that an aggressive driving complaint from a driver isn't taken extremely seriously)

Dickie
03-29-2012, 02:52 PM
Thanks GuyContinental, it sounds as if we ride a similar route in a very similar way. Your thoughts and comments are very concise and articulate.... much appreciated. My initial thread was really directed towards riders sharing the roads with cars, specifically on Wilson at rush hour, however I am glad to see so many witnesses and cyclists discussing such a variety of traffic/law issues.