Bicyclists, Pedestrians, and Crosswalks

I like this weather.  I rarely sleep as well as when the temperatures are in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and my windows are wide open, and I’m under my comforter and a couple of my grandmother’s afghans.

I’ve been walking to and from work as much as possible. It’s not bad, about two miles, downhill in the morning, uphill in the evening. My usual route takes me south on Connecticut through the intersection with Florida. This is probably the scariest intersection I pass through on my walk, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until I see someone hit here.

The other morning I was waiting for the walk signal. I got a bit of a later start than usual so there was a small crowd. A few people hurried across the intersection and were, in my opinion, lucky not to have been run over by a car. When we got the walk light, the woman next to me, took off jogging. I kept a fast pace. She was about ten feet of me when a bicyclist came careening into the intersection. From his turn, it looked like he’d been coming down Connecticut, but it was also pretty clear that he made a remarkably bad decision in not, y’know, yielding the crosswalk to the pedestrians, who had the right of way.

This cyclist — white bike, khakis, blue shirt, white or grey helmet — came remarkably close to striking the jogger.  She jumped back.  I would guess they were less than a foot from a collision.

When I got to work, I spoke to a friend about cyclists running into pedestrians, and she pointed out that as bad as a collision would be for a pedestrian, it would be far worse for the bicyclist, who would suffer the initial impact, would then impact on the ground, and might then have their own bike impact on top of them. Which also makes the recklessness displayed by some DC cyclists completely incomprehensible to me.

Fair note: I’m terrified to bike in this city. And I do see a lot of cyclists who are careful and cautious. But I also see a bunch who don’t seem to give a damn about anyone other than themselves (and these are the ones I tend to remember). I remember reading a defense of the “traffic rules don’t apply to me” mentality in Travis Hugh Culley’s The Immortal Class, and it always just stuck me as sort of “I’m on a bike, fuck you.”

Basically: can’t we all just get along?  Walk when you’ve got the light, don’t run red lights, and if you’re on a bike, man (or woman): yeah, you do still have to stop for the light and yield to pedestrians.



One thought on “Bicyclists, Pedestrians, and Crosswalks

  1. The cyclists in PA ride in the middle of a two-lane road and still expect you to give them the 4-foot berth that is now REQUIRED BY LAW. When did the cycling peeps get a lobby? And if I have to obey the law to give them a lane-width of space, shouldn’t they have to follow the traffic rules as well?!?!? I’ll be glad when it’s soooo cold that a lot of the recreational riders stay indoors!

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