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Thread: Your tax dollars at work

  1. #1
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    Default Your tax dollars at work

    This morning as I passed under the Beltway in Old Town Alexandria on South Royal Street, I was greeted by a big electric highway sign saying: Bicycles Must Stop at Stop Signs. Strictly Enforced. The sign was pointed toward the underpass so that none of the motor vehicles could see it.

    Well, it was 25 degrees out and there weren't exactly teeming hoards of scofflaw cyclists about. I wondered what genius in Alexandria's police department decided to spend tax payers money on this.

    I also wondered why the sign was oriented such that drivers of motor vehicles could not see it. Perhaps, Alexandria's finest think that only cyclists run stop signs. So, to test that theory, I counted the cars that came to a full stop at the stop signs along the length of Royal Street. The answer: I lost count after a dozen because not a single car came to a complete stop. Not a one. Only a Dash city bus came to a stop before I rejoined the Mount Vernon Trail on the north end of Old Town.

    I hope the good folks of Old Town feel safer now.

  2. #2
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    I saw this sign too. I also noticed the one set up at the North end of Old Town again just facing the trail and not the road.

    Does anyone know why the signs were put up at this time? Have there been complaints or accidents?

    I rode through today and it seems they've taken the signs away, so they were only shortlived or maybe just moved somewhere else. Maybe the snow had something to do with their removal.

    My experience of riding the mount vernon trail through Old Town is that I follow the Idaho stop and what I find sometimes is that if I stop for a car that has arrived at the intersection first they will wave me through first. Doesn't happen every time but maybe there is still some goodwil amongst us road users.

  3. #3
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    Thats better then the US Park Police horse crew riding 2 wide on the side walk after Consition heading south around 11am today. Thanks officers.

  4. #4
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    Root: I was waiting for a riding partner to meet me at an intersection with a stop sign with a right hand turn to leave our parking lot, and make the long ride home from work. I was there about 15 minutes waiting on the yellow-striped center lane, standing over the frame, very clearly waiting and not attempting to ride on or make the right turn.

    I started counting.

    In that 15 minutes, well over 100 cars passed me. I stopped counting at 100 because it was getting too funny.
    4 actually came to a complete stop. A few came close, but only 4 actually physically STOPPED.
    9 rolled down their window to ask if I needed to turn ahead of them!!! (I counted these separately from the stoppers)

    More people were concerned with where I was trying to go - despite me not trying to go anywhere - than were actually concerned with obeying the law.

    We cyclists aren't the problem.

  5. #5
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    Amen, Brother.

  6. #6
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    I was out running the MVT this morning. When I came to the intersection in front of the Old Town Sport and Health, I saw two cyclists coming down Madison. There is a stop sign on Madison and a crosswalk for trail traffic, but, running defensively, I slowed to see what they were going to do. (I was wearing reflectives and a headlamp, so no way they didn’t see me.) Instead of stopping, they blew the stop sign and turned onto the trail. Not a big deal - it was 6 am, no cars, and none of us were going very fast (although a wave or “thank you” would have been nice.) But if we’re talking about following rules, they certainly didn’t.

    It made me think of this thread. Perhaps, if there was a complaint it came from a pedestrian, not a driver. Would better explain the placement of the sign. I have seen lots of near misses and altercations between bikes and peds at the intersection of King St. and Union. People (often tourists) tend to amble across the street, and bikes just wanna get on through. My experience with cars, both on bike and foot, mirrors paulg. With a stop sign on every block, drivers generally aren’t in a hot hurry around there.

    Still, of all the bad behavior to call out and methods to do so, seems pretty weird.

  7. #7
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    Saw one on the W&OD today and had to chuckle. Big light up construction sign on trail near Reston.... PAVEING AHEAD They need to stay asphalt guys and step away from the spelling

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    Saw one on the W&OD today and had to chuckle. Big light up construction sign on trail near Reston.... PAVEING AHEAD They need to stay asphalt guys and step away from the spelling
    I laugh at that every morning, hehe. Funny thing is, they haven't been paving in that area for months now, and they've even moved the equipment!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by txgoonie View Post
    ...It made me think of this thread. Perhaps, if there was a complaint it came from a pedestrian, not a driver. Would better explain the placement of the sign. I have seen lots of near misses and altercations between bikes and peds at the intersection of King St. and Union. People (often tourists) tend to amble across the street, and bikes just wanna get on through. My experience with cars, both on bike and foot, mirrors paulg. With a stop sign on every block, drivers generally aren’t in a hot hurry around there....
    Slightly off topic, but my most mortifying/dangerous near miss of a pedestrian while cycling (that is entirely my own fault) was this:

    A normal Saturday long loop ride out C&O (returning W&OD later in the day). Riding perhaps a tad over the 15mph limit on the Dummy, refrains of "<ding> <pause>, 'on the left'" for miles while passing joggers/pedestrians/other cyclists. At some point I approached a jogger going my direction plus some oncoming pedestrian traffic going the other way. When I see it isn't really safe to pass yet, I slow down and wait - I don't like threading the middle in general, especially not on the Dummy. So, I pulled the brake to slow down and postponed the normal <ding> and vocal notification since it's possible I could end up behind the guy for a while.

    Only, I find I am not slowing down.

    This is what makes the near miss my fault: I froze up for at least a few seconds. I got confused and terrified all at once before I realized that it was only my rear brake that wasn't responding. By the time I was activating my front brake, I was inside a rather dangerous physics problem. Again, by that point I still had said nothing, because of wanting to wait for oncoming pedestrian traffic to clear before bothering the guy in front of me and now I was freaking out a bit and not sure what the next step was going to be.

    It's hard to say exactly what transpired, but while I ended up slowing down not nearly enough and got pretty close to him while passing (just after the oncoming pedestrians cleared so I couldn't pass wide), there was no accident. I got lucky. In addition, the way the path is there, there were no bail options: water to the right and the oncoming pedestrians to the left. Once I was past him, I pulled over to the right when it was safe to do so, trembling and a bit panicked. I caught my breath and began to trace the brake problem.

    As he came up from behind he said, *very* sternly, "you really have to tell pedestrians when you're passing". I apologized several times, said I normally do notify, told him my brakes had failed and I had panicked. I also said I was going to sort it out the brake issue before getting back on. He was angry, but rightly so, as I'd scared the crap out of both of us. I hope he believed me, I don't want to be *that guy* in his mind forever and the cause of additional "cyclists are reckless idiots" conversations for years to come.

    ------

    Since I'm off topic, I guess I might as well finish, yes?

    The immediate cause of the brake failure was the adjustment knob on the outside of the Avid BB7 brakes going missing. When you pop the knob off suddenly there's no tension on the spring and the cable pull doesn't do anything. They are very easy to pop off by hand. I thought of going back to look for it, but talk about needle in a haystack...so, the rest of the ride was front brakes only. With front brakes and a long bike, though, that wasn't too difficult to adjust to (plus the W&OD only has a few downhills to worry about). I ordered a couple of replacement knobs that night, and installed a replacement several days later.

    Later, I was able to trace back what the proximate cause after examining the bike more closely at home. It turns out that the outer adjustment knob on the rear BB7 brakes rubs up against the left Freeloader bag on the xtracycle cargo frame when there's a certain amount of cargo in it. I'd been keeping a 2.5 gallon water bag on the left side because the summer had been so hot and I'd run out of water on the C&O far from a good water source once before on a 100+ day. After months of rubbing, the process created a hole in the freeloader fabric. Other folks who have purchased the same setup also reported the rubbing/hole (and suggested various solutions, such as installing a metal plate protecting the knob. I ended up adding layers of reinforced duct tape on the face of the bag that can touch the knob, which conveniently "fixed" the hole too and can be refreshed from time to time cheaply.

    So, in my case: at some point the edges of the hole created by the rubbing finally caught the inner lip of the adjustment knob...and pulled it off, perhaps during a big bump of some sort.

    Am I just assuming that's what happened? No, that's the only possible explanation. Because the knob never went missing! The edges of the hole pulled the knob off the brake assembly and *into* the inner pocket of the freeloader, *where I found it three week later* when cleaning all the junk that had accumulated since the last cleaning! Doh.

    Brendan

  10. #10
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    I am going to tighten the knobs on my BB5s tonight! O_O

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