A turning truck driver killed cyclist Jeffrey Long at New Hampshire Avenue and M Street NW in DC in July. In response, the District Department of Transportation took out three parking spaces and filled the space with flexible posts to prevent parking. But that's not the only trouble spot on the M Street protected bikeway, as Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Mike Silverstein explains in this video.
At another spot, a FedEx truck regularly parked in a prohibited area, blocking sight lines and even almost causing a crash while Silverstein and resident Robert Fitzgerald, who filmed and edited the video, were standing there.
Silverstein used to be a Pittsburgh sports radio reporter years ago, during which time he somewhat serendipitously got the first taped interview with football player Franco Harris after the Pittsburgh Steelers' most famous play in history, the 1972 “Immaculate Reception.” In the video, Silverstein uses his flair for emphasis, honed through a career on the radio, to drive home the point after the Department of Public Works ticketed the FedEx truck in response to Silverstein's complaint. The fine: $30.
The cost of doing business.
That's less than it costs to send a one-pound package from New York to Washington. Not overnight, but in two days. And for that, they're willing to risk people's safety.
Fitzgerald and Silverstein had tried calling FedEx corporate offices and even their government relations offices about the issue. They submitted 311 requests and sent emails about the illegal parking. It was finally resolved when DDOT Director Jeff Marootian sent DDOT crews to the site to install another forest of flexposts to keep trucks out.
“FedEx said that they would take care of this and they would get back to us,” Silverstein concludes.
“We're still waiting.”
Drivers & bicyclists are like Democrats & Republicans
Silverstein had some further thoughts he sent in an e-mail:
I’ve learned a couple things since we put this together, and one explains a lot. It seems that [MPD Second District] Commander Gresham and [DDOT] Director Marootian had discussed this matter at length and had decided the only way to solve this problem was to put in flex posts. That was already planned, but when we called them last Tuesday and told them what was going on, Jeff reassigned a crew to report to M Street immediately, and they were there actually waiting for the FedEx truck to leave. Once the truck left, they commandeered the spot and installed the posts.
Another thing I’ve realized is that the gap between drivers and bicyclists in the DMV is not unlike the divide between Democrats and Republicans. The are generally different tribes, speak different languages, see the world through different eyes, and live in different realities.
As such, drivers are generally unaware of some of the dangers that bicyclists face every day, and can’t recognize or anticipate dangerous situations. And many of those bicyclists who don’t drive don’t understand how many visual cues drivers must process - especially in traffic circles and at some of the oddly-shaped intersections that was have thanks to the L’Enfant grid.
We’re going to have to live with the gap between motorists and cyclists (and pedestrians, of course). But one thing that we can and MUST do is learn from one another so that we can recognize and anticipate dangers and act accordingly.
And that means we need to stop shouting at each other, and listen and learn.
Now get off my lawn.