City Desk

Drivers And Cyclists Should Probably Switch Places Occasionally

I was a little miffed that WTOP brought in a editor—the website for cars—to be the sole voice in a radio hit about the ongoing battle between cyclists and cars. Still, Carroll Lachnit, who says she also bikes, was pleasantly surprising in her comments. She offered good tips to drivers for how to avoid endangering cyclists, and shared one big tip for cyclists that I fully support: Obey road rules, including stopping at red lights.

Lachnit also made a point about cyclists being careful pick their routes, because while they have a right to be on all roads, some are just "more conducive" to harmonious road sharing. One personal example: When I'm driving, I'm often on P Street NW, and a minor frustration has been getting caught behind a cyclist at nearly any point between Logan and Dupont Circle. There's usually no way to pass safely because the road is narrow and there's oncoming traffic on one side and parked cars on the other. Typically I end up driving at a slow pace (with a line of cars behind me) until the cyclists turns off of P. (Even Google Maps acknowledges this isn't a bike-friendly route.) I've learned to become zen about it, though, since there's really nothing that can be done, and as a cyclist I've found that on occasions when I have to slow down traffic, it's anxiety-inducing enough without some jerk buzzing me. But hopefully the M and L streets NW bike lanes will help a bit.

The one cycling question at Tuesday's At-Large Council candidate debate at the Black Cat was about the bicyclist/car divide. Rev. E. Gail Anderson Holness seemed to be the most circumspect, noting that she herself bikes—and apparently loves going to Amsterdam for that reason—but also drives. And she said it's hard to understand what it's like for a cyclist on the road without having been a cyclist. And I think that bears true. The least histrionic (and most useful) advice I've seen comes from people who use a variety of methods to get around; perhaps because when that's the case, it's less about transportation as a lifestyle choice and more about transportation as a tool.

Still, candidates know that cars carry voters, and they all took the easy way out: They support a future where cars and bikes get along well, but offered no ideas on how to get there.

This piece originally misspelled Carroll Lachnit's name.

Photo by Blacknell via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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