If Crime Reporting Were Like Crash Reporting

A gun shot a man in Washington, D.C early this morning. The victim suffered serious injuries, but is expected to survive. Police found the man injured at the scene, but there were no witnesses. The man was not wearing a bullet-proof vest. It is also unclear if the man was drunk or distractedly walking. There is no crosswalk in that section of road. Distracted walking is increasingly common and studies show that it is responsible for more and more pedestrian injuries. Many state legislatures are considering laws to ban distracted walking.

The investigation caused police to shut down the street and traffic was detoured. This deeply inconvenienced a lot of people, many of whom became late for work by upwards of a few minutes. The man was shot in a blind spot on the road, where the road bends and sight lines are bad. The road also narrows at that point.

The gun did not remain at the scene and police are considering launching a full investigation. So far, police have not released the man's identity nor any information about the type of gun that shot him. It is unclear if the gun lost control or accidentally discharged. The police have also not determined whether charges will be brought. Anyone with information should call the TIPS line, police said.

UPDATE: The traffic was really, really bad. The road was closed for more than two hours.

UPDATE UPDATE: The police have re-opened the street and traffic is once again flowing normally.


sui generis

Some stories about the controversy surrounding the  M Street Cycle Track.

Construction Holdups Delay M Street Cycle Track Three Months

M Street cycletrack loses a block

The gods must be crazy

And then this official statement from DDOT. 

M Street Bike Project Update

If I understand correctly, the situation as it stands currently is this: there will be a protected cycle track on M Street installed in October. However, for one block this protected cycle track (which runs along the north side of the street, the opposite side of the street from Metropolitan A.M.E church) will be converted to a standard bike lane and this bike lane will be painted green. 

So, where are we now? Did #bikeDC win or lose? Was this whole saga a qualified victory or a defeat, but with mitigating circumstances? 

How should I know? We all have our opinions about the potential consequences of the decision to build a cycle track that turns into a bike lane that turns into a cycle track- maybe they will be dire! Maybe it won't matter! Maybe it's not a big deal at all! Maybe it's an even better design! I have a few thoughts, none of which are especially profound nor incisive nor unique. They are:

1. This really isn't the end of the world. Sure, it's suboptimal. In fact, it feels really disappointing to have a very tiny sliver of road space for a protected cycle track made even slightly tinier. But can people deal with a standard bike lane for one block? Yeah, probably. Will this one block be the difference between the continued growth of cycling in DC and its demise? Probably not. But yeah, this still feels like it sucks. 

2. This is a bad precedent. But only if it's a precedent. The rationale between the change in the design is that the situation of this church, its historical significance to the District, and the events held therein, are exceptional to the point that adjustments needed to be made. You can believe that or not believe that. It's hard to see, however, that the activities- the need for parking for services and special events- are somehow substantially different from the activities of other churches and other buildings on M Street. Therefore, what is to stop other locales along the cycle track from requesting a similar exception? To my mind, nothing. However, it doesn't mean that DDOT will be equally willing to grant those exceptions as they were in this case. Only time will tell. 

3. So, now that this is "sorted out"- such as it is- why do we still have to wait until October to get the cycle track installed? I mean, it's probably not about design. Just work flow and availability of staff and such. Still, it sorta blows that the months with the highest amount of bike traffic won't be ones in which the bike lane exists. 

I have other thoughts on this and would be happy to share them, but this post has dragged on. Feel free to email me or @ me through the twitter machine. 


And now for something completely different

I wrote about car parking and residential parking permits in Greater Greater Washington. My solution: a Dutch Auction, in which all bidders wear wooden shoes and whoever eats the most gouda wins the windmill full of tulips. Actually, a Dutch auction is a descending price auction and "winners" pay no more than the lowest price at which the final item sells out. I learned about it from an episode of Slate's sports podcast Hang Up and Listen. I think it's a neat idea and not totally unworkable. Of course, practical limitations, such as politicians never wanting the price of street parking to go up and constituents revolting over any suggestion that it might, will most likely stymie this entirely hypothetical plan. Nonetheless, I will continue to listen to podcasts from which to harvest other inactionable public policy ideas.


Ride to Nowhere in Particular 8/10

I spent 5 hours today riding around DC. I rode on trails and in bike lanes and for a few blocks in one of our three (3) cycle tracks and on a kind-of highway's kind-of shoulder and over speed bumps and speed humps (they're different) and through stop signs (sorry) and I rode over two bridges (one great, one terrible) and I saw where they might build the new soccer stadium (#BuzzPo) and before that I saw the new streetcars (coming soon! No, really. They promise. And this time, they mean it! Or intend to mean it) and I even stopped once to buy a taco because I saw a neon sign that said Taqueria. (Ed. note: my computer is trying to autocorrect taqueria to equestrian, which is wrong and also gross). I went to a coffee shop that I've been to before and then I ate fried fish at a renowned place I'd never been to before and to get there I rode through parts of the city I know well and parts of the city I know less well and other parts where I've been before and also parts where I hadn't been or at least don't remember ever having been. I rode on a street could easily accommodate a bike lane (I'll let you guess which) and I passed the park where I used to walk EtP when we first moved here. I saw the an English soccer team, in town for a friendly. The players weren't as tall as one would expect. I had no agenda. Some guy shouted "Pick it up, baby!" to me as I lumbered up a hill, the way one might yell from beside a road race course. I yelled back "thank you!" for some reason. I saw Jeff and Jaime on the Metropolitan Branch Trail and I missed Abigail, maybe by minutes. I went to a brewery that was out of beer and a distillery that sells seasonal gin. I brought with me a laptop and a plug and a phone charger and a u-lock and for most of the trip, a pair of DC Streetcar branded sunglasses. For real. They're pretty great.

I don't go on long rides. The near entirety of my bicycling is commuting and the remainder of that entirety is going to the grocery store or maybe to pick up sandwiches. I feel very little appealing about the idea of riding through bucolic farmland. Cows. Fences. Grass. Cows. Barns. Country roads. They just don't do it for me. They have their charms and I don't disparage the urbanite for fleeing the countryside to take in nature and really stretch their legs. It's just not my thing. Maybe I'm not acquainted with the right country roads. You really can't do a century within city limits and trying might make you go crazy. But you can ride around aimlessly or vaguely aimed (for example, aim for coffee, beer, cocktails, murals, museums, high-end waffleries [do we have any of these?]) and quite like it. I like seeing things. I like living in a place where there's lots of stuff to see and while I get to see some of it on my daily bike commute, the thing about a commute is that there's really only so many reasonable ways to get from point A to point B and your experiences, while varied, are a circumscribed. So rather than setting off to see the nothing in particular that you see from country roads, I choose instead to see the stuff that's here in the place where I live. It's nice stuff and I'm lucky to have it nearby.

There are many different kinds of cycling experiences and none are "wrong." The weekend city ride is one that you shouldn't overlook.