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KidicalMass Arlington: Ride to the Arlington County Fair!

One of the great things about living in this little urban-village-county that we call Arlington is that it has its own County Fair, complete with rides, funnel cakes, and agricultural competitions. And biking really is the best way to get there. So come out to ride the rides and enjoy the Fair with us!

When: Saturday, August 9, 10:00am (roll out 10:15am - come early to play!)

Meet: Monroe Park, S Monroe St & 14th St S, Arlington

Parking: On surrounding neighborhood streets
We start off at Monroe Park, one of Arlington's many cute neighborhood parks. We'll roll around the leafy neighborhood streets of Douglas Park, Alcova Heights, and Arlington Heights, including enjoying Arlington's first bike boulevards (9th St S and 12th St S), which parallel Columbia Pike. 

Bike commuting to DCA on the brand new Mount Vernon Trail

Richard Layman found an old issue of the Washington Star from 1972 about a 23-year old bike-commuting stewardess flight attendant and her tribulations in trying to bike to National Airport. 

There are so many interesting things in this article. The MVT was originally gravel (and they don't even call it the MVT in the article). The airline discouraged her from bike commuting and from wearing her uniform if she did. Check out the bike in the photo with that big light and that giant rear view mirror (that's sweet looking). She had to get permission from the airport manager to ride her bike on airport roads! I've transcribed it below to make it easier to read and search. 

She's Winning Bike Battle

By Mary Eisner

"I think cars are great, but if just half the people on the George Washington Parkway every morning rode bikes, we'd all be a a lot better off"

Cathy Gilbert, 23, a stewardess for United Airlines, has been struggling for the last 14 months to prove that her alternative to the parkway traffic works. After a couple of compromises with airline personnel and one brief confrontation with the police, she appears to be having some success.

Using the new gravel bicycle trail which has paralleled the parkway since May, Miss Gilbert pedals 5 miles each way between her apartment in Alexandria and United Airlines Hanger No. 3.

Soon she expects to install her own bicycle rack at the hanger, which she hopes will encourage other stewardess and airline employees to switch to riding bicycles.

Since she began pedaling to work, she's run into considerable opposition, Miss Gilbert reflected. Before the trail existed she rode on the parkway, bring forth numerous objections from United Airlines officials.

Refusing her request for a bike rack, the airline warned that it did not want to encourage employes[sic] to ride bicycles to work as long as no paths were provided alongside the highway.

"They (airline officials) said it wasn't safe, but I think it was a way out," Miss Gilbert said. "But I went ahead and rode anyway, until they told me I couldn't ride a bike in my uniform," she added.

Switching to street clothes, Miss Gilbert was soon informed by the airline that she needed to obtain permission from the airport manager to ride her bicycles on airport roads.

Although granted permission in August of last year, Miss Gilbert was stopped by police a few weeks ago for riding on the access road to the airport.

"They were tightening up on security and I was in civilian clothes. They simply didn't believe that I was an employe[sic] commuting to work and they forced me to walk my bike all the way to the hanger." she related.

Hoping to avoid further complications, Miss Gilbert now carrier [sic] with her a written statement of permission from the airport manager.

In bad weather, Miss Gilbert commutes by bus. But on a sunny day her bike has the edge, she claims, estimating her travel time at 22 minutes.

I know (on a bicycle) I can beat the bus," she adds, "and it's free."

I was able to find Miss Gilbert, now Gilbert-Silva and follow-up 42 years later. She said that the reason the article was written was that her boyfriend at the time was sitting next to a reporter while talking about how ridiculous it was that Gilbert couldn't bike to work. She had gotten into biking, in part for environmental reasons, and she was ahead of the curve on that. She was also recycling long before others were.

For my part, I tried to make my riding a positive thing for my airline because we had just purchased the DC-10’s and, at the time, they were the most fuel efficient and quietest airplanes made.  I encouraged the airline to promote the DC-10 along with biking to work and other earth friendly endeavors at the airline in their print ads, etc.  It was early 1970’s and there wasn’t news about global warming or saving the planet.  Purchasing these airplanes was primarily to save fuel costs and to accommodate the noise complaints from airport neighbors.  The airline wanted to bring the DC-10 into National Airport.  At the time, the runways couldn’t accommodate most jumbo jets, but the DC-10 didn’t need as much runway length to land.  The Airport Authority also felt their facilities, passenger waiting and baggage areas couldn’t accommodate the numbers of passengers on the jumbo jets.  I don’t believe the DC-10 ever got landing rights at National Airport.

After the article came out, she got a letter from her CEO congratulating her on her fight for justice and her efforts to promote the airline. He spoke to people at the airport and she never was hassled again. Her street clothes, which previously would disappear while she was flying, were now always there when she got back. A bike rack later appeared near the hanger entrance that she used and she began to see mechanics and ground personnel using bikes to get around the property. She continued to ride to work until she moved farther away in Arlington. 

Even then, I continued riding and often led bicycle tours into Washington D.C. Once my son was born, I purchased a “heavy-duty bike” that could accommodate the weight of a child carrier. We rode everywhere and as he grew older, our bikes were on the bike rack on the back of our van when we traveled.

I rode that bicycle even after we moved to the Delaplane, VA area but I didn’t feel safe riding on the country roads, especially alone. My ol’ bike finally gave up the ghost a few years ago and the price of a nice lightweight bicycle today is prohibitive for me.

She continued to fly for 34 years and became active in the push to end smoking on airlines. She wrote a letter to Congress in support of ending smoking on airplanes. 

Cathy Gilbert-Silva, a flight attendant for 18 years, wrote Mr. Hatch, ``I will be so grateful when burning eyes, sinuses, and lungs, as well as headaches, nausea, lightheadedness, and blocked ears for flight attendants, will be a part of the past.''

And in June of 1989 she testified before the House Aviation Sub-Committee about how working on airplanes filled with smoke damaged her vocal cords (she did not smoke herself).  

The airlines made attempts at separating smoking from non-smoking but, in reality, that was obviously futile.  Here is a long aluminum tube with mostly recirculating air that just recirculated the smoke and other germs, etc. too.  Passengers complained about that even more because it was impossible to make everyone happy.  If they were a smoker forced to sit in the non-smoking section or vice versa, vehement objections were voiced.  It was always up to the Flight Attendants to settle the matter in the effort of making everyone happy.  The worst part for the Flight Attendants is that most of our jump seats were in the smoking section so we had to inhale all that nasty smoke and we always smelled like ashtrays.  My little boy wouldn’t even hug me when I came home from a flight until I either showered or at least got out of that smelly uniform. 

She eventually had to have vocal cord surgery as a result of smoke exposure. In 2003, when the airline went into bankruptcy, she retired. 

I  wasn’t willing to accept the pay and benefit cuts that I knew would come.  I loved my job and loved meeting the world.  I loved renting a bicycle in Europe and riding too.

On being an early bike commuter she said

I suppose I was, and am, a bit of a rebel, but it was always to right the wrongs.  There was nothing wrong with riding a bicycle to work and it made no sense to me that people were battling it.  To use a current expression, “Duh!!”  What was the big deal and why was such a big deal made over nothing?!


3 of 4 citations upheld against driver in Trish Cunningham fatality

Whitney Decesaris, the driver who hit and killed Trish Cunningham on Riva Road just south of Annapolis had one of her four traffic citations waived, for the odd reason that her driving was actually worse than what she was cited for. 

Decesaris had avoided criminal charges, when a grand jury opted not to indict her, but still received "four traffic citations that would accrue points against her driver’s license and carry a total of $2,000 in fines. She appealed the citations..."

[District Court Judge Robert C.] Wilcox found her guilty of three of the four traffic citations — failure to exercise caution, negligent driving and failure to control speed — each carrying a maximum fine of $500. Saying there was no evidence that Decesaris made any attempt to drive around Cunningham, he dismissed a charge of driving left of the center line and unsafe passing.

If she had tried to avoid hitting her, her punishment would have been worse than for not paying attention and running her down from behind. That seems wrong to me. 

This part is pretty amazing too

A defense witness, Richard Garden, a Severna Park oral surgeon, said he was driving behind Decesaris and did not see the cyclist.

“I really didn’t see the van do anything at impact,” Garden said. “I saw it jerk to the left, but not much.”

Garden said he drives that portion of Riva Road daily, and was talking with his wife by cellphone when the collision occurred.

What??? I wonder why he didn't see the cyclist. It couldn't have been the phone call he was making. 

The lawyer said that the reason that Decesaris fought the tickets was that she wanted her "day in court." She's entitled to that, but I don't buy it, and I found it particularly galling and callous. Especially since her story doesn't match what witnesses said. 

Decesaris wept as she said she saw Cunningham climbing a hill ahead of her mini-van, “swerved to avoid hitting her, and I heard contact with my vehicle.”

Neil Tatterson testified that he was driving behind Decesaris, that he saw Cunningham ahead of them both and that he did not see Decesaris’s brake lights come on before she struck the cyclist. He said Decesaris did not swerve until she hit the bike.

 It's likely she fought the tickets in the hope of avoiding some civil liability. 

Mid City East small area plan

The Mid City East small area plan was recently completed and it includes a few specific bicycle facility improvements. 

The Mid City East Small Area Plan providesa framework for conservation, development, sustainability and connectivity in Mid City East, a mosaic of neighborhoods including Bates/TruxtonCircle, Bloomingdale, Eckington, Hanover, LeDroitPark, and Sursum Corda as well as sections of Edgewood and Stronghold. 

The Metropolitan Branch Trail runs along the eastern edge of the study area, and residents would like to see it improved.

Connection points at T Street, S Street and Randolph Place NE need better signage to identify the trail, enhanced vegetation and maintenance. In addition, residents have expressed major concerns about safety on the trail. Some residents have ceased using the trail because of recent incidents.

And so the recommendation is to "work with DDOT to improve wayfinding to the Metropolitan Branch Trail and add vegetation, lighting, and public art to improve the trail’s aesthetics, enhance safety, and encourage increased use."

Other recommendations were pulled from DDOT’s Mid City East Livability Study which was completed last October. 

At Truxton Circle, the Livability Study recommends:

  • A high visibility crosswalk and bike box across Q Street NW.
  • A painted bicycle crossing adjacent to the Florida Avenue crosswalk.
  • A protected contra flow bike connector from Q Street crossing to North Capitol Street along Florida Avenue and through Truxton Circle Park and behind bus stop.
  • A protected cycle track from the North Capitol Street crossing to and onto a new Q Street bike lane


At 5th and Rhode Island the recommendation is to extend the existing 5th Street bike lanes from Rhode Island Avenue to Florida Avenue. These lanes would serve as a substitute to the 6th Street bike lanes recommended in the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan.

The plan recommends changing the lane widths on New Jersey Avenue between N Street NW and Florida Avenue NW to allow for a 13.5 foot wide right-hand lane. Thw lane would be a shared travel lane (sharrows) for cyclists and drivers, and it would connect to planned bike lanes on New Jersey Avenue between H Street NW and N Street NW. 

Girl on a bicycle

See, bicycles can find you love. 

Grosso introduces bill to change car-bike crashes from contributory negligence to comparative negligence

Councimember David Grosso just introduced the “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014.”  Grosso writes:

This bill would make it easier for cyclists to get compensation for damage sustained in accidents with cars, by ending the legal use of contributory negligence in automobile-bicycle collisions

Wow. That would be an enormous improvement. WABA, and Shane Farthing in particular, have been working this issue pretty hard for the last few years, and it would be a real victory to see the law improved in this way. 

More from WABA

Cyclist's cameras pick up Hit and Run crash on Met Branch Trail's on street portion

The two videos below show the rear and front camera views of the incidents surrounding a crash between a car and a cyclist along the on-street portion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail on 8th Street NE. I don't see the actual collision as it appears to occur on the opposite side of the car from the camera.

It looks like two cyclists were riding along  (possibly two abreast, though one is a little ahead of the other). The driver pulled up and honked at them twice. When they didn't move over, he gunned it, passed over the double-yellow line and passed too closely to the far cyclist. Then he stopped in the road and when they pulled up beside him - one on either side - he took off again, hitting the far cyclist in the process. Then he left the scene.

Now, cyclists are not allowed to ride two abreast if there is a car behind them, but this road was so narrow that it would have done him no good if they had arranged themselves in single file, but continued to take the lane. And then, it was illegal and unsafe for the far cyclist to cross the double yellow line to pass the stopped car, as it appears he did.

But, those are pretty trivial when compared to the litany of illegal, rude and unsafe maneuvers that the driver took part in. Honking (illegal and rude). Crossing the double yellow line (illegal and unsafe). Passing with less than 3 feet (illegal and unsafe). Hit and run (illegal and unsafe). And there was probably some speeding in there for good measure. 

It's hard to say who's at fault for the actual crash. 

This incident has been reported to the police and better images of the plates show the license plate number clearly. Let's see if MPD follows up. 

REQX might take majority stake in Alta's Capital Bikeshare business

According to an article in today's NY Times

The arrangement would wrest control from Alta, the company, based in Portland, Ore., that has partnered with the city to date, and give it to REQX, a venture formed by some principals of the real estate firm Related and the fitness chain Equinox. REQX would also assume a majority stake in Alta’s other systems, in cities like Boston, Washington and Melbourne, Australia. The agreement could be announced as early as this week, though officials cautioned that a deal had not been completed.

I'm not sure what thtat means. Does REQX take over operations from Alta?

Update: Here's more.

Lollipop style bike parking in Mt Rainier

Turning parking meters into bike racks, not that they weren't already.

Lollipop style bike parking in Mt Rainier

Skate park along NW branch trail

Last time I went by here, this was a basketball court.

Skate park along NW branch trail

Skate park along NW branch trail

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