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Thread: Jaywalking enforcement on PA Ave?

  1. #1
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    Default Jaywalking enforcement on PA Ave?

    I've only just started biking to work in the last few months, so I haven't experienced the height of tourist season yet. I use the cycle tracks on Pennsylvania ave from 7th to 15th as part of my commute.

    This morning, as I was crossing 12th WITH the green light, a bunch of jaywalkers were in the cycletracks. The two partly in my lane moved back, but one yelled, "Slow down!" at me. I didn't react quickly enough to yell, "Stop jaywalking" back at her, but I'm beginning to worry about what it's going to be like biking when the weather gets nicer. I already almost hit a tourist jaywalking on the Mall on Friday. Most of the people downtown for work at least have a general sense of when you can and can't cross a street, but when the Freedom Plaza is full of tourists, is it going to be a real problem?

    What is jaywalking enforcement like when the weather gets nicer?

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    Nonexistent. So practice those quick-turns

    Somewhat more seriously - I view jaywalkers the way I wish cars would view less-than-safe cyclists: in the wrong and unlikely to change, but still not worth hitting or abusing.

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    I might get little pedestrian safety cards printed up and hand them out to people who don't seem to understand basic traffic laws.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrenaut View Post
    I might get little pedestrian safety cards printed up and hand them out to people who don't seem to understand basic traffic laws.
    I'd suggest a three parter (pedestrian, cycling and auto sections) and just suggest they read the pedestrian part. Of course, if one is also breaking the rules right then (you weren't, but I've been known to...), I'd hold off on handing it out at that time.

    Brendan

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    I try to obey all traffic rules. It's harder to be smug towards others when you break the rules, too. But it's a struggle sometimes.

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    Default We can do better

    Why not just defer to pedestrians, as motorists should defer to both cyclists and pedestrians? It's only fair to assume the more dangerous modes of transportation should avoid harming the less dangerous, and although our traffic code pointedly does the reverse, as cyclists I think we should take the higher road in this effort. If we can't show pedestrians a little common courtesy and patience -- motorist-convenience laws notwithstanding -- then we can't expect anything different from motorists in their interactions with us.

    Cyclists and pedestrians have a common enemy. We're disproportionately the victims of traffic violence. We're disproportionately harmed by traffic pollution. We're disproportionately taxed for local road construction and upkeep. We're disproportionately inconvenienced and victimized by laws that prioritize motorist ease and non-liability above all else. So long before we should start siccing cops on pedestrians for failing to follow motor traffic rules (and these rules are purely for the sake of motorists, which is why there's no such thing as "jaywalking" on a bike path), we should be asking law enforcement to begin enforcing the simple traffic rules that keep all roadway users safer -- such as those pertaining to turn signals, yielding when appropriate, and sharing roadways without aggression toward non-motorized users.

    I'm sorry if pedestrians get in your way sometimes, and it's especially annoying when those same pedestrians, being motorists at heart, have little understanding of the laws relating to cyclists, but I think we'd all be better off if, as cyclists, we model the behavior we expect from motorists in our behavior toward pedestrians.

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    Jaywalking enforcement sort of comes and goes. A few years back I jaywalked (almost) across PA Ave. A cop stopped me when I was almost across and told me to turn around and go back or I'd get a ticket. So it all depends. Maybe it's the mood of the cop for all I know. I know though as a pedestrian and with the attitudes of drivers in the area, I feel safer walking against the light rather than with the light. With the light I'm dependent upon the rationality of drivers. (I don't trust anyone behind the wheel! Ever!) Going against the light I'M in control of the situation, not some 'I'm so important' yahoo.

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    I dunno. I just slow down. I've never had a problem, really. That sort of behavior isn't limited to the cycletracks; its everywhere. Whether it's pedestrians popping out from between parked cars, crossing against the light, or walking in the bike lanes, there are just some people (whether cyclists, motorists or pedestrians) that think rules don't apply to them. There's nothing you can really do except not take it personally, and move on. Issuing citations to them rarely helps because they are firmly stuck in the "I'm an exception to the rule" mindset and will blame getting a ticket on the issuer, the city, cops, etc rather than change their behavior.

    When I learned to drive, my dad taught me to drive defensively, because even if you consider yourself the best driver in the universe, by default that makes everyone else a moron. I bike the same way, and its made my life much pleasanter (its a word!).

    Honestly, the biggest "problem" I see with pedestrians vs. cyclists on the PA Ave bike lanes are cyclists not stopping at the stop lines. at the pedestrian islands. The stop bars at the lights are BEFORE the median islands, yet I see cyclists plowing through groups of pedestrians on those islands at red lights so they can get to the furthest edge of it. That's not how its supposed to work. You aren't supposed to stop in the island, you stop before it so pedestrians have a place to stand while waiting for the light to cross. It's essentially a cross walk. I don't think its done purposely though, just out of ignorance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tifat View Post
    Why not just defer to pedestrians, as motorists should defer to both cyclists and pedestrians?
    I defer to pedestrians as far as attempting to avioid hitting them, but I'm not going to be polite about it when they walk out in front of me when I have the light. They're putting me in danger because they can't wait until it's their turn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrenaut View Post
    I defer to pedestrians as far as attempting to avioid hitting them, but I'm not going to be polite about it when they walk out in front of me when I have the light. They're putting me in danger because they can't wait until it's their turn.
    I feel your pain, jrenaut. I just think that, in spite of how annoying some of them can be, we as a society shouldn't restrict pedestrians any more than is absolutely necessary. And as cyclists, I think we should avoid antagonizing them, because they're potentially our greatest allies.

    Philosophical differences aside, here's a practical suggestion: if you don't use a bell, give it a shot. Pedestrians seem to respond well to them. Evidently electric cars are more dangerous to pedestrians than motorized ones, because they can't hear them coming, and I suspect that's part of the reason they tend to get so confused and in the way around bicycles. I doubt many of them are trying to be a nuisance -- they're probably just not used to being outside of their cars, and so, like newborn foals, they're a little clueless and skittish on their feet. If we make life easier for them by gently announcing our presence and our intention to pass them, they might gladly return the favor.

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