City Desk

Pedestrians, Bikes Clash on Pennsylvania Ave.

Caution: Do Not Just Stand Here

This was bound to happen, and it'll for sure happen again: A bicyclist crashed into a pedestrian crossing Pennsylvania Avenue NW and its controversial new Fenty administration-backed bike lanes. As one Wash Cycle reader reported:

A pedestrian was crossing PA Ave, as he was [the reader] SY was cycling west on PA Ave. SY had a green light. He rang his bell, and he thought the pedestrian saw him. It looked like the pedestrian was going to stop. But he didn't see SY or stop walking. So SY slammed on his breaks and flew over the handle bars to avoid hitting the guy. The pedestrian then claimed SY ran the red light.

When the bike lanes were restriped to fit within the original median—they initially were designed to occupy additional car traffic lanes—that created a smaller amount of space for pedestrians to use as a mid-avenue refuge. And that space is attractive to tourists as a spot to stand around in. Greater Greater Washington took note in July:

But stationary pedestrians aren't the only hazard. Because of its grand vistas and relatively calm traffic, the median of the avenue is a popular place to stop to view monuments and for tour guides to give a little speech.

So the bike lanes are a work in progress. Which means, if you're a tourist, keep an eye out for people speeding at you on metal contraptions while you stop to ponder the sights. And look both ways!

Photo by Richard Drdul via Flickr under Creative Commons

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  • vaLiberty

    As a daily commuter in DC I find bicyclists, and their lack of adherence to simple rules of the road to be obnoxious. I regularly see them going the wrong way down M and other one way streets. They deserve whatever they get, for regularly running red lights, failing to yield, hogging lanes, cutting off motorists and pedestrians, not signaling, etc.

  • Native JD

    As a motorcyclist I have some sympathy for bicyclists. That said, the majority of bicyclists I see and talk to admit they break the law routinely. One discussion recently found that the bicyclist had been hit by cars four times, all of which admitted were his fault.

    CD Police need to crack down hard on bicycle scofflaws.

  • greg

    vaLiberty is so right. I've never once seen a person in a car act obnoxious or do anything remotely illegal. People on bikes are a threat to people in cars, drivers may spill hot coffee when they totally fucking destroy the person on the bike when they collide.

  • Mike Madden

    Indeed, vaLiberty -- it's downright rude of bicyclists to actually occupy the lane they're trying to ride in, instead of meekly getting out of the way.

  • Rick Mangus

    'vaLiberty', you are absolutly right on this subject! The bicyclist in this town are arrogant assholes, just like the stupid women who was killed four months ago at Mass. and 12th street, she thought she was more important than the police who were directing traffic at the time for a motorcade and ignored police direction, well her stupidity and arrogance got her six feet under in a box right now!

  • Another David

    i've almost hit a couple pedestrians in those medians on pa ave under the exact same circumstances. the problem is that bike lanes go through the medians but follow the same signals as the road. so pedestrians stand there on the edge of the median waiting for their signal to go perpendicular to traffic, while cyclists are coming through, going with traffic. simple solution: paint stripes on the median so pedestrians understand that that's part of the bike lane, too.

    as for valiberty, you're absolutely right; cars never run red lights, fail to yeild, hog bike lanes, cut off other motorists and pedestrians, not signal, etc. these problems are exclusive to cyclists and they deserve to be hit by 2500 lb blocks of steel.

  • Rick Mangus

    I just seen a report on WJLA that the city is putting up, or has already put up special traffic lights, over and above the regular traffic lights for bicyclist! Who came up with this dumb ass and expensive idea! Let the tax payers be dammed!

  • downtown rez

    There is one special light. It's at a particularly troublesome intersection.

  • Rick Mangus

    'downtown rez', why is the city duplicating the lights, a red light is a red light, just like a green light is a green light! This redundancy is stupid and a waste of city funds just like the bike lanes! Do any of us believe that these arrogant riders will obay these lights, come on!

  • Mrs. D

    Yeah, Rick. Just recently, the city installed new lights at the Brentwood Rd. exit to the Rhode Island Ave. shopping center in an effort to promote better adherence to the traffic laws at the intersection. Specifically, the city placed a light for the traffic exiting the plaza in such a way that it could be seen coming down the driveway, as that intersection is a "no turn on red" for those folks, most likely due to the crosswalk just to the right of the drive. I mean, EVERYONE disobeys that sign (and gets really angry with me when I obey it), we should just forget about trying to get people to obey it, that's a waste of money! Damn those pedestrians who almost or do get hit by cars making an illegal turn, they should just buy their own car and STOP WALKING! What do they think this is, some kind of walkable, pedestrian-friendly utopia??!!??

  • Dr Pangloss

    'downtown rez', why is the city duplicating the lights, a red light is a red light, just like a green light is a green light! This redundancy is stupid and a waste of city funds just like the bike lanes! Do any of us believe that these arrogant riders will obay these lights, come on!

    Hey Rick,

    You're certainly free to pack your ass out of the city to Dale City if you don't like the direction in which the city's headed. Assuming you're actually a DC resident, you're in the minority. So pardon my French, but who gives a fuck what you think?

  • Rick Mangus

    'Dr Pangloss', I have lived in this city for over 13 years and like EVERY citizen of this country I have a RIGHT to express my opinion! It may be news to an ingnorant moron like you but I also PAY TAXES here which gives me even more of a right to speak-up!

  • vaLiberty

    Dr Pangloss, our democracy is designed specifically to protect the rights of the few from the will of the majority, not the other way around.