I'm not going to keep up the advocacy stuff at this pace… I promise. That goes for the blogging too. ;)
Friday morning was a cool opportunity to do a little advocacy of the best kind… the kind that involves riding. Honestly I'm best when I let my legs do the talking.
The Pennsylvania Avenue Cycletrack is a little different from many that we see in the city. Basically there are two lanes of bicycle traffic (one going each direction) and they run down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. It is a cool set-up that avoids a TON of pesky problems that previous bike lanes in the area had. It is an area that has many people trolling for parking, jumping multiple lanes to make turns and doing right turns on red with questionable judgement. The center lanes go a long way to solving those problems.
The Penna Ave. Cycletrack, however, does create a few problems. Drivers are a bit freaked out by having bicycles in the middle of the road, for one. Cyclists don't always make turns onto and off of the cycle track in a a legal and predictable manner. Illegal turns by EVERYONE cause issues. Pedestrians are a bit clueless about expecting cyclists in the middle of the road… especially the adorable, wide-eyed tourists. What used to be a great place for people to temporarily park their cars is now taken up by bicycle traffic. People forget that and park there anyways. Last but not least, illegal and unplanned u-turns can be deadly to cyclists.
There was a LOT of trouble with u-turns when the cycle track first went in, but after 6 or 7 months, it died down a bit. For whatever reason, the problem has gotten a lot worse in the last 6-8 weeks with many accidents and close calls being reported. I honestly don't know if this is a perceived change, or if the accidents and close calls are just now getting talked about more. Either way, something needed to be done.
A friend pointed out to me earlier this week that a group called The Assembly (http://www.bicyclespacedc.com/the-assembly/) was going to have a little event to shed light on the problem, get signatures on a petition and generally increase awareness. Just my kind of gig.
We had between 40 and 50 people show up, put signs on their bikes and ride the Pennsylvania Avenue Cycletrack during rush hour. We were joined by 8 or 9 of DC's bicycle police officers. WABA (http://www.waba.org) had a good bunch of people out, including a bunch of the bicycle ambassadors to collect signatures and talk to people. The Monkey Wagon (A really big stereo piled onto a bicycle trailer) was out blasting tunes and being pulled by a new friend Jordan. It was festive and effective.
Many thanks to The Assembly and WABA for making this happen. Tons of thanks to those who came out to ride. It was fun to see some familiar faces and people that I love showing up for these things. Y'all make me happy. It was definitely good way to spend #fridaycoffeeclub time.