Washington, DC TV station WJLA, channel 7, has run a story about new bicycle laws passed by the DC City Council and signed by the mayor. The new section reads as follows:
A new section 9d (D.C. Official Code § 50-2201 .04d) is added to read as follows:
“Sec. 9d. Bicyclists’ use of leading pedestrian in tervals.
“(a) A bicyclist may cross at an inter section while following the pedestrian traffic control signal for the bicyclist’s direction of travel unless otherwise directed by traffic signs or traffic
“(b) A bicyclist may cross an intersection where a leading pedestrian interval is used.”
Questions have been raised by cyclists in an online group I belong to, for example, “So how are the bicyclists supposed to reach the intersection when no bikeways are present? By lane splitting? Filtering forward on the right? Using the sidewalk? Or are bike lanes and boxes supposed to be provided at all intersections? This will be a boon to red light runners and further the bad mixing of bicyclists and peds as “one category”, or as some like to say, further the pedestrianization of bicycling.”
But I’d like to discuss the video itself. It came with an embed code, and here it is.
After 15 seconds of an ad for an Infiniti SUV, you’ll get to see the news story about bicycling.
Much of the narration in the video is posted on a Web page under the headline
D.C. cycling made safer with new rules of the road
That headline is rather interesting not only because of the questions which have been raised, but also because the law isn’t even in effect yet. In a year or two we might have data as to whether cycling has become safer. It would be much more difficult to determine whether that resulted from the new law. A recent study did show that
cycling is becoming less safe in Washington, DC — as might be expected when large numbers of new and inexperienced cyclists enter the traffic mix.
The text identifies interviewees — though only by their last names. One is named Clarke. More about that later. Also there are bike-cam shots in which you can see the cyclist’s plaid sleeves. This leads to an interesting discovery. My rundown of the video:
0:00 The words “outrage” and “alarm” are used. Inset on the screen reads “Bike vs. Car.” The TV station is pandering to motorists’ sense of entitlement and identifying inanimate machines as doing battle with each other, as a surrogate for operators of those machines placing them in conflict with each other. The concept of cooperative use of the public streets gets short shrift in this video.
0:49 Bicyclist in the plaid shirt threads the needle between a stopped SUV and a bus, placing him immediately directly in front of the bus. Nice thing the bus wasn’t about to start up. Headache for the bus driver in any case.
0:52 another cyclist waddles out from behind a stopped vehicle in front of another vehicle which is just starting to move.
1:02 the man on the street being interviewed is wearing the same plaid shirt as the one in the on-bike video making dumb moves. In the online text his name is given as “cyclist Billing” and he uses the royal “we.” “We” is WABA: Greg Billing writes blog posts for WABA and has written one about this new law.
1:05 Billing is shown turning left and heading for a door-zone bike lane to filter forward. Shot is cut off abruptly before he reaches the lane.
1:12 Cyclist identified in the text as Senff justifies advanced green on ped signal so “you don’t feel so, I don’t know…pushed.” How that applies when starting ahead of the motor traffic, I don’t know.
1:25 Through-the-windshield shot as car enters a combined bike lane/left turn lane, which figures later in the video too.
1:35 Truth is spoken by a man identified as Bradford: not all bicyclists operate properly.
1:40 Narration is about a bicyclist operating responsibly, but the bicyclist shown in one of many low-angle mood shots has a shopping bag dangling next to the front wheel.
1:45 The narrator complains of a bicyclist overtaking a motorist who is signaling a turn. The bicyclist, seen through a car windshield, is legally in a combined bike lane/left turn lane to the left of a through lane from which a motorist ahead is preparing to turn left illegally. Flex posts would keep a knowledgeable bicyclist from merging out of the bike lane. The driver preparing to turn left couldn’t make sense of the intersection design, and the bicyclist was blissfully unaware of the risk. The layout here is the same as at 1:25 in the video — it might even be the same intersection — and similar to the one at Market and Octavia Streets in San Francisco where fatal crashes have occurred.
1:50 The unidentified Clarke is revealed to be an African-American woman, not Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists.
1:54 Billing provides a bike-cam shot, riding at speed in a left-turn lane going too fast to turn left, but the shot is cut just before he reaches the intersection.
2:15 A cyclist is in the door zone and uncomfortably close to a pedestrian.
2:20 — The law has to be voted on by Congress. It isn’t yet in effect.
All in all, there’s plenty enough cluelessness to go around, with this video, but I do agree with Mr. Bradford!