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Here it comes; now that cycling is on the rise (a good thing), it's caught the attention of local law "enforcement" officials who see it as a new and easy source of revenue to fatten the gluttonous coffers. Yea!...one more reason NOT to ride a bike!

Good luck to the cop who tries to chase me down, unless he's on a bike and in damn good shape. This is going to be fun!

Though I doubt the Alexandria cops read this blog, just in case: I bike home every night through south Alexandria. On the corner of Franklin and South 1, there's a large NO RIGHT TURN 4-7 p.m. sign. Typically, when I come home at 6, there are 6-7 cars lined up to make the illegal turn. Seems to me this is far more of an issue than bikers sailing through gridlocked streets.

BTW, I love how on Alexandria's "Spin City" page to promote biking, it prominently features a bicyclist pedaling across King Street without a helmet. Safety first!

Cited for wearing earphones? Does anyone know what the regulations are in Virginia? or is that an Alexandria rule? I think these kinds of laws don't make sense. Should deaf people not be allowed to ride bikes? Should all car drivers be forced to shut off their stereos and open their windows?

Sting operations happen mainly in response to complaints. If someone complains enough to the city about anything sufficiently, the police will show up an start writing tickets for violations. If they can write one citation per minute for Five hours, then imagine how many complaints they've gotten by now about cyclists at this intersection, before they finally started writing some tickets. Stings are often directed towards locations where the statistics show that the crime and accidents are on the rise. Ex. Speed traps at the sites of speed-related accidents are common.

Another example, dozens of cars have been stolen from my parking lot at work, so the police responded to complaints by ticketing cars on a daily basis that did not display up-to-date monthly parking passes. Sounds stupid, but eventually the patrol caught someone trying to steal a car, and arrested the guy. Problem solved? No. Cars still get broken into, and the police keep writing lots of tickets. At least nobody's touched out bikes here (knock on wood).

I'd like to see more ticketing of cyclists wearing headphones. That drives me crazy.

I was warned about this enforcement event after I complained about being treated like dirt by an ADP officer while operating my bike legally in Old Town. A subsequent investigation found that the officer could not be identified even though the investigating officer whittled the list of supsects down to two officers. It seems the offending officer is also a liar as no one on the list would own up to the offensive behavior.

APD has it in for cyclists. An official enhanced enforcement effort only makes it worse. For a handful of offending riders they crack down on everyone while completely ignoring cars rolling through stop signs and pedstrians jaywalking. Even APD cruisers routinely roll through the stop signs in Old Town. This clearly a case where there are so many stop signs (and no yield signs) that they beg to be ignored like the old 55 mph speed limit.

I recomend that you take you holiday shopping to another jurisdiction.

I'll tell you about a crime in Alexandria that should be addressed: that pitiful bike lane they painted on S. Union Street in Old Town that is so close to the parking "lane" that it's actually part of it in many cases. Cars parked along the street typically end up with their left-side wheels on the painted line or over it in the bike lane. If ever there was a street that DIDN'T need a bike lane to begin with, it was S. Union. Because of the heavy foot-traffic in the area, you can't really drive much over the speed of a bicycle, and that part of the street isn't very long anyway.

And where there is no lane, the shared-use chevrons are also painted too close to the curb. In one instance, a car parking at the arrow spot cannot help but cover something like 80% of the symbol.

I see all cyclists of all ages and experiences wisely ignoring these dangerous lanes and riding where they should: in the car lane. It's a beautiful thing to see reason overcome fear...of both injury and inept authority, in this case

Follow up to my question about earphones - according to Virginia state law section 46.2 - 1078, motorists and bicyclists may not wear earphones covering or in both ears - which means having only one is legal.

Great. A giant bridge project detours cyclists to a surface street, and you then target an intersection on that street. Awesome. Does anyone wonder why cyclists feel like it's a war with everyone against us out there?

Incidentally, I stop at stop signs, because the first excuse I hear for violence against cyclists is ALWAYS, "Well, I saw a messenger run a stop sign once, so..." I have not yet gotten any extra credit or respect for following the rules, though.

I get really exasperated about not being able to get cops to care about people driving 60 on my 25 MPH street, and then getting hassled by those same cops. This operation falls directly on to my list of why I'm changing from, "give 'em a break, and let 'em do their jobs," to, "f tha Police."

Sigh.

You're kidding! Now I have to obey the law? Screw it. I'm buying a Hummer!

Seriously, people are talking as if this is some kind of perverse selective enforcement. In reality, there are many, many speed traps (including cameras) for motorists. (And I dare say that the police overlook many, many infractions by cyclists.) Why such a fuss over one operation designed to get cyclists to obey traffic laws?

guez- I'm not opposed to to targeted enforcement. What I'm opposed to is targeted enforcement on what seems to me to be partially an infrastructure issue. Alexandria's facilities are lacking, and its biggest resource is partially shutdown creating a detour through this intersection (thanks ridethewomble). Should cyclists follow traffic laws? Yeah, I think we should. Will selective enforcement in an area with few practical facilities discourage cyclists from riding through this area? I think it will.

270 cyclists in a 5 hour period -and those were only the ones cited- seems like a pretty high rate. It would have been nice to get real user counts there instead. Find out how many cyclists, motorists and pedestrians traveled through this intersection. Then take that data and see what could be done to adjust the area's infrastructure to reflect the mode share. This would be proactive instead of reactive. If Yon or the Alexandria Bike Advisory Council is reading, sign me up as your first volunteer!

You can tell them what you think by going to http://www.alexandriava.gov/police/onlinereporting/

There are two issues here, one reagrding fairness, the other regarding traffic design.

The asymetric enforcement of traffic laws with regard to bicycles is fundamentally unfair. I know of no similar sting operation on the side streets of Old Town with regard to cars.

The second is the fact that it's just nuts to have stop signs at every single intersection in every direction. The overwhelming majority of vehicles (cars and bikes alike) treat them as yield signs. And even a large percentage of police cruisers do as well.

I have been stopping at stop signs with much greater regularity when I ride through Old Town. Most of the time I just ride on Washington Street to avoid the entire issue.

For those who aren't familiar with the intersection, this intersection is part of the "official" MVT route through Old Town. It's the first intersection after going through the Wilson Bridge construction, and there's a Catholic school on the corner. On my weekday commutes there is only very light traffic between the neighborhood to the East and the GW Parkway, to the West. Drivers in the neighborhood are typically very courteous, almost annoyingly so - waiting for bikes even when they could proceed safely before you reach the intersection.

This morning, at about 9:15am, I was still thinking about a strange encounter with a pedestrian (another story, another time), and rolled through without noticing a car waiting at the stop sign. The driver was patiently waiting for me, though, so thankfully I was never in danger.

If anything could have earned a warning or a ticket, that was it, but I didn't notice a police presence and nobody attempted to pull me over and speak to me. This operation must only be taking place on the weekends, which is strange because they're more likely to give a bad impression of biking to the occasional recreational user, without impacting the behavior of the "regulars."

In reading this string of attacks on the police for their response to a legitimate problem found in every city, I have to say that the police officers actions should be commended, not blasted. If you read the media release sent out a week before this campaign began, and saw the news report, you will notice that the police did not issue tickets for any violations during this two week period. This was an education campaign focused solely on reminding riders to obey the law for their own safety. The police could have just jumped right in to ticket writing without any forwarning, instead, unlike these "speed traps" that are being written about, they have been open and honest with where they will be sitting, and what their intentions are.

Not so. The APD has been targeting cyclists all summer in Old Town. Ihey made no distinction between someone obviously taking great care moving though an intersection and the speeding bicylists so evident in the TV news report shown this weekend.

I was treated so rudely (after I came to a full stop at an intersection!) in one instance that I filed a complaint with the police department.

I submit to you that if they did the same overbearing kind of sting to auto traffic in Old Town the residents would be in an uproar.

I wholeheartedly agree that the high speed reckless riders should be stopped and fined.

My experience however has been one of absurd over enforcement and open contempt for law abiding bicyclists.

I ride for safety, and that's often illegaly given the way things are.

But -- I certainly would welcome cops doing something about people riding bikes around in the dark without lights.

@John Pickett:

Did your 0915 pedestrian encounter this morning involve a strange guy running with dumbbells suddenly darting in front of you and yelling at you loudly to "slow down" while insulting you?

That was my 0915 pedestrian commuting experience this morning just outside Old Town on the Trail.

Ah, it warms my heart so much to see so many people just begging to be policed, to have authority imposed on them where it's clearly unnecessary. Can't just ride and let ride, no, happiness can only be achieved when everyone is equally uptight and riding in fear of a ticket every time they put butt to saddle. Ain't cycling fun! It's all about the compliance, yessir!

The anonymous poster who rushed to the poor police officers' (who, doubtless, are doing this for our own good and NOT for the money) defense writes of a "legitimate problem found in every city", but I'm still trying to understand what this problem is. Sounds to me like (s)he might mean "bikers." You want to know a legitimate problem?...running a red light with two tons of steel wrapped around your ass! Maybe THAT'S where the concerned police officers should concentrate their loving warmth.

And the tired old "for their own safety" angle....shameful. These are ADULTS we're talking about. Perhaps the poster would like to see police officers in our homes to make sure we read the labels on household products before using them.

So it begins. This morning I (in my van) negotiated my way around a cyclists in the HOV lane on Washington Street. Is it safer to force bikes out into rush hour traffic?

Oh come on! Police routinely target motorists in speed traps, by using red-light cameras, etc. etc. This really is nothing extraordinary. As the anonymous poster pointed out, there weren't even any actual citations issued. And Mr. Pickett: I would be very surprised if it turned out that cyclists, per capita, received more citations per violation than motorists.

Perhaps the reason that many Americans perceive bikes as toys is that so many cyclists act like children. (Read some of the above posts out loud in your favorite child's voice and you'll see what I mean.)

Jeff: the infrastructure point is a reasonable one, but I really think it should be treated a separate issue. I'm sure motorists who use bike/bus lanes argue that there is inadequate infrastructure, too. I think that cyclists make a more compelling case when they argue infrastucture issues on their own merits, rather than combining them with whiny grievances about police harassment.

I am whining?

I received a ludicrous five minute lecture from an APD officer for rolling through the completely empty intersection of King and Union Streets in August. Mindful of this warning I have been pretty meticulous about stopping at stop signs in Old Town since then.

A few weeks ago I was literally yelled at by an Alexandria police officer for not stopping after I came to a full stop at an intersection in Old Town. When I pointed out to her taht I did indeed stop, she not dispute the fact, but she proceeded to argue with me and yell at me as I proceeded down North Royal Street operating in a completely safe and legal manner.

I have a right to be treated with respect when I go through Old Town regardless of my mode of transporation. To hsi credit I received an apology from another Alexandria police officer on the BikeWashington forum after he heard about the incident. At my request the APD actually launched an investigation and the investigating officer also offered an apology for the incident. She inteviewed all the female officers on duty that day and none of them would own up to her behavior.

Based on this experience I do not know what the APD considers a full stop and I do not care to find out the hard way. I can very well see the APD issuing tickets for track stands or for bikes who otherwise stop their forward progress.

Be my guest. Ride through Old Town when they are "enforcing" the law. You may get a rude awakening as to how bicyclists are treated.

Rather than approach this problem from a negative persepctive Alexandria could make a few minor infrustructure changes to address the real problem, bikes speeding through intersections in Old Town.

"Perhaps the reason that many Americans perceive bikes as toys is that so many cyclists act like children."

Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people acted like children. It's disheartening to know there are so many uptight, "save me from myself" adults running around trying to impose unnecessary rules/restrictions on others whom they either resent or can't muster the will to join.

Why should cyclists be forced to wait like cars at red lights if the way is clear? It's not like a cyclist who slows at a red, looks for traffic/pedestrians, and proceeds represents any real threat. On the other hand, those who are gratuitously reckless won't last long. A bike, as Jobst Brandt pointed out, is not a car, and shouldn't be treated like one. Like Jobst, I believe motorists who don't bike are envious of the freedom and advantages inherent in the bicycle and simply want to deny cyclists this pleasure and convenience. One of the main reasons I bike-commute is BECAUSE I can move freely and at my own pace. It's a perk for not contributing to pollution, global warming, congestion--in part, for doing my small piece to diminish my impact on the planet and, by extension, the people and other lifeforms that call it home. Start taking away the perks (think imposing helmet laws) and penalizing cyclists and you start taking away the cyclists themselves. Sounds like a plan that most motorists would be happy to see put in place. You want to stop at every red light and stop sign while cycling because you don't feel comfortable pedaling through them?...fine, help yourself, you're free to do so and I'm happy for you, as long as you don't impose your discomfort and fears on me. I'll take my chances in life, you take yours.

I think the focus should be on motorists who run reds/stops in what are essentially two-ton battering rams. Where are the "serve and protect" police at the Arlington end of Key Bridge every morning, for example, when "me first" jackasses exiting the parkway turn right illegally from the far left lane onto Key Bridge because they become impatient with the turn lane backups resulting from right-of-way pedestrians who are crossing? Twice this week alone I've had to calmly, politely, and delicately inform such motorists that they are fucking assholes after nearly being hit myself. So, we should focus on ticketing cyclists now instead of seeking the reckless-motorist hotspots where lives (and not just those of cyclists) are truly endangered?...madness! And a complete waste of resources!

I have to believe that the people here who support police in their efforts to make cycling a less attractive transportation option are cyclists of convenience, if they bike at all.

Sorry, that's my post above.

Iconoclast and Mr. Pickett: it's not that I don't understand your anger; it's that I think that it's counterproductive. If the Alexandria police is hassling *law-abiding* cyclists (and it sounds like they are in some cases), that's deplorable. But what drives me crazy is this when legitimate grievances (infrastructure, police misconduct) are combined with rationalizations for reckless and/or illegal behavior.

I also happen to believe that reckless cycling *can* endanger others (for example, if one "two-ton battering ram" hits another "two-ton battering ram" because it's trying to avoid *you*). I just don't buy the idea that somehow cyclists should get a free pass on the rules of the road (while vociferously complaining about everyone else).

As for whether I am a "cyclist of convenience," I'm not sure what that means. You yourself say that you cycle because (and I quote) you can "move freely and at [your] own pace," which certainly sounds like convenience to me. I probably cycle for more or less the same reasons you do: health, the environment, and, yes, convenience.

BTW, I probably should not have made things personal by using the term "whining." Let me be clear, though: I was not referring to legitimate complaints about real police misconduct, reckless motorists, or the lack of adequate infrastucture.

Gotta go: I biked to work today. Really.

I agree with most of what you said, guez, but there are two additional issues here.

One is the fact that bicycles are being treated differently than other vehicles. That is fundamentally unfair. Maybe that's a whine but I don't think it is unreasonable.

The other is nitpicking enforcement. Do you really think it makes sense to give a traffic ticket to someone going 27 mph in a 25 mph zone? Of course it doesn't. I seriously doubt you will see the APD pulling people over for such violations.

Giving a ticket to a bicyclists who carefully slows to a virtual but incomplete stop, looks both ways, and proceeds with caution is no different. Except apparently in Old Town.

Have a nice ride home. I hope it's not through Old Town.

By "cyclist of convenience" I meant someone who rarely gets on a bike and thus has no strong interest in championing or advancing the rights of cyclists. Perhaps not the best choice of term.

I ride primarily because it's fun.

I bike to work every day; have for 15 months now. Haven't missed a single day that I've had to work. Rain, snow, sleet, ice, humidity, heat, hurricane, all of it. Twenty-one miles roundtrip. Fixed gear. 50:16. I also ride a single speed mountain bike on most weekends. I shop, visit nearby friends, sightsee, and bar-hop (oh no, a drunk cyclist!) by bike, the latter two exclusively. In short, I like to bike. I also own a vehicle.

Oh, and I've run a shitpotful of stop signs and red lights in my time on the bike.

Okay, petty bragging and semi-relevant background details out of the way, so...

I not talking about blindly blowing a red light. I'm talking about the same kind of behavior that millions of pedestrians employ every day in every major city and town: look both ways and cross when it's clear--so simple, even a child can do it; in fact, it's a childhood admonition. Your car-on-car collision scenario, while ostensibly plausible, isn't going unfold if no cars are present.

Do you always seek a striped crosswalk before you cross a street, regardless of where you are or how far out of your way you have to go to find one? Do you stand around street corners waiting for the white pedestrian silhouette to tell you it's safe to cross (even though it may not really be), when there is no traffic in sight? Or do you use your own judgement and proceed when you feel it's safe to do so? If you do the latter, then your position above is hypocritical at best.

(I'm home now, and no, I do not bike through Alexandria, or VA for that matter.)

Iconoclast: Couldn't a motorist also argue that he/she should be able to blow a light if there are no other vehicles present? Seems like a slippery slope to me.

As for the hypocrisy argument, I am not suggesting that every single law is sacrosanct. I would, however, argue that if cyclists want a share of the road and the respect of motorists, they should obey the rules of the road. Pedestrians, while they certainly cross the road, generally do not demand equal footing (so to speak) with cars. (And for that matter, if a pedestrian felt that crossing the road was unsafe because of irresponsible motorists, then it would hardly help his/her case to jaywalk.)

As an avid cyclist, former bike shop employee (Go T.B.L.), and Police Officer on bicycle patrol it will somewhat pain me to write citations to many of you that I met while working at various shops over the years. The problem is that it will not pain me near as much as writing a report and informing your families that you have been injured (or worse) because you ran a stop sign or red light and were hit by 2,000 pounds of steel that had the right of way.

Oh, and just for the record, unless there was a very good, verifiable, reason (sick child in the back seat, etc.), I have written a ticket to EVERY person operating a motor vehicle that I have observed run a stop sign or red light; I've yet to write a cyclist a ticket. The main reason given by cyclists that I have stopped: "I didn't want to lose my momentum." How about losing your life?

Here's a scenario for you: You run a stop sign and a car with the right of way enters the intersection at 15 miles per hour. You, at 20 miles per hour and protected only by a helmet, collide with said car, sending you to the pavement and totalling your brand new Madone. I respond to the accident and everyone on scene tells me that you ran the sign (except for you; they're flying you to INOVA Fairfax for life threatening injuries).

After I contact your family, and learn that you are going to make it, I go to the hospital where I issue you a ticket and, oh by the way, because you were at fault, you also have to pay for the damages to that 2007 BMW that you hit. Add the ticket to the $250 auto insurance deductible and your Emergency Room co-pay (if that's all you need), and the fact that your Madone is done. What do you have? A very expensive stop sign!

Do us all a favor and just stop.

And by the way, Iconoclasst, don't bet against me catching you. There were quite a few folks on the NORBA circuit that lost money that way before I retired from racing.

"It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle, moped, or bicycle on Virginia roadways while using earphones or headphones in both ears."

"Bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same rights-of-way as motor vehicles: bicycles must also yield the same rights-of-way as motor vehicles."

Straight from the Virginia Motor Vehicle Code, as it appears on the website and lawbooks.

APD Cycist makes a very valid point. I learned the hard way. My very first solo ride on a bicycle when was 6 ended with me t-boning a 58 Chevy afer I rode through a stop sign. (I panicked and forgot how to brake.)

Those who carelessly enter intersections at speed are at risk of serious injury. I would point out, however, that cyclists are also at serious risk of injury if you come to a full stop and enter the intersection carelessly.

Those cyclists who come to a near (call it a virtual) stop, look both ways, and then carefully proceed are at no more risk than those that stop and put a foot down. In fact they may be at less risk because they don't have to start from a dead sop. (Cars of course don't wobble when they start like bikes)

The point here is that the letter of the law and the intent of the law are two different things. It is my experience that the APD is making no distinction between the two. If the APD makes it a hassle to ride safely down Union or Royal Streets, it gives cyclists the perverse incentive to use Washington Street or US1 instead where they are decidedly less safe.

There is a measured, reasonable approach that can be taken to bicycle safety in Old Town Time will tell if that is what happens. I remain highly skeptical.

Today at 5pm it happened to me. $80 for doing what every single person on a bike does every day--slow down, look both ways, and then continue through the intersection.

With all due respect to Alexandria residents, this feels like nothing more than a rich suburban town that wants to raise some quick cash to pay for something without raising taxes.

The very idea that they could pay a cop to sit on that corner all day and write tickets is just silly.

They're not trying to change behavior, or make the roads more safe. That intersection is dead--there's probably more bike traffic than there are cars around there, which is of course why he was out there in the first place. They're just trying to make some easy money, and if it pleases the poor downtrodden residents of South Royal Street by giving those pesky bikers what they deserve, well, all the better.

The cop tried to talk me out of contesting it, too. "I don't have a dog in that fight," he said, but it would be really easy to just mail in the $80. Screw that. I'll see you Friday morning at 9:30, Officer Dougherty.

OK...I was caught in the sting this Saturday afternoon (10/13). I actually turned around after being yelled at while the cops were writing up two other cyclists. Bridge construction had temporarily closed the bike lane, and I re-routed myself back up to Washington Blvd and drove down Green Street...through the dreaded South Royal Street intersection....

I ride through around that area and out to Mt. Vernon seven days a week as my daily exercise. I live a couple blocks away in OT's Ford's Landing townhouse complex.

Well, even though I'm a "local", I've now got that big yellow sheet citation.

The cop was courteous...and, yes, I ran the stop sign, although at age 57, I wasn't bombing along...and had looked prior to entering the intersection. Seems the sting operation is nit-picky. Especially since the sting operation is not in a high-traffic area that is actually dangerous (try King & Union, or any of the other intersections closer to the high-traffic areas around King, Duke, Cameron Streets areas...). Seems like a revenue raiser to me.

From one of the above posters, it seems the fine is $80. Well, my question is: Does this appear on my motor vehicle driver's record, and does it give the automoble insurance company an excuse to raise my rates?

oh crapola! $80?!? I just got one yesterday, the 13th. I had NO idea you couldn't go through stop signs on a bike. I haven't been on more than about 3 bike rides in the last 15 years but I thought it would be a good idea to help my dog become more active to run along-side.

oh well, thats what you get for being an easy target.

APD Cyclist, I'm glad to hear that you are part of this conversation. What is your opinion of motorists who don't yield for pedestrians or cyclists at crosswalks? Frankly, this seems like a much bigger public safety issue than cyclists blowing stop signs.

OK...just a follow-up to the weekend Old Town sting operation.

I called the number on the back of the summons to find out what the fine would be. Well, the narrator went on and on...and gave a who-knows-what-does-that-mean pre-recorded answer: "Bicycle infraction - $76"....and then later "Stop Sign infraction - $91". Which is it? Well, there's a second number to call - 703/838-4041 to talk to a live person....but in the 2 hours since I've been trying, it's busy (of course).

I'll post the answer to this shortly (hopefully)...as well as the address to mail the check to, as it's not on the summons/ticket, and the pre-recording message blew by it (who would be sitting with a pencil to write down the address furiously when one is waiting to find out what the summons is).

Also, Mr. APD Cyclist (or anyone else), would you happen to know if this infraction will become a demerit/points report that goes to one's car insurance company, thereby increasing the insurance rates? Thanks...

Well, let this be a lesson to all you cyclists...get in better shape so you can outrun them!

I myself ride and I blow through the stop signs all the time. Do you know how many stop signs there are in alexandria?! There's one intersection that actually has a stop sign mounted above a stop sign! I figure I'm more stopped than going anyway so I'm working on the averages.

I live very close to the targeted area, and I tried to warn people this weekend, either stop, or crank it hard. I even saw a bike officer pull someone over, give them a ticket, and then the officer proceded to watch a car roll through and not care. Plus, most recreational riders are doing 8-10 mph...watch how fast cars roll through the stop signs. Do runners have to stop at stop signs, or kids on roller blades? I even saw a reckless hellion of a woman with a stroller walk through the intersection and not pause...this is anarchy!!!

Also, watch this news posting of the biker guy giving Kudos to the police for stopping them...while he's wearing headphones!!! LAUGHS
http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/1007/461810_video.html?ref=newsstory

Finally, for the guy who outran the police bike...thank you, most entertaining thing I have seen in a very long time.

APD cyclist, I respect your beliefs but have to say, I'm willing to roll (ha) with the odds on that very unlikely accident scenario.

Let me ask you what prompted this sting operation. Was Alexandria suddenly piling up dead cyclists everywhere who disregarded the law and were hit by law-abiding motorists? If cycling deaths (resulting from cyclists' failure to yield) have not risen in a statistically significant way, which (barring data to the contrary) I have to believe is true, then why the sting? At this point, it smells like money...

Also, continue issuing tickets and the revenue you gain there will come at the expense of local businesses, as cyclists begin to avoid the area. Speaking for myself, my friends and I (cyclists, all) have dropped quite a lot of $ in and around Old Town over the last 10 years. In the unlikely event that I get a ticket there, I can tell you that my affair with the area will be over pretty much forever.

It's going to really suck if Arlington and the District adopt this petty "cyclists are children and need to be watched" attitude. Funny thing is, when this all dies down (as it surely must), things will go back to normal and cyclists will behave like, well, cyclists--they'll use common sense as they do every day when on foot.

Alright, well, see you out there. Let's hope for your sake that the operative word in your admonition isn't "retired".

I was also ticketed at the intersection over the weekend. I slowed down, looked both ways a few times, and proceeded through the intersection. The police officers were having a great time joking to eachother that they were going to need more cops and ticket books.

The reality is that stopping at a stop sign for a semi-serious cyclist (i.e., someone not riding a comfort bike at 6mph) is more dangerous to the rider than looking carefully and slowly riding through (every cyclist I saw did this before they were ticketed).

We all know that a very real danger at all intersections -- whether having stop signs or not -- for cyclists is when they are crossing and a car seemingly coming out of nowhere speeds through the intersection and hits them. Going slowly through the intersection allows the rider to do one of two things: (1) if not already in the path of the car, to stop on a dime to prevent themselves from getting hit, (2) if already in the path of the car, accelerate quickly to escape trouble. When starting from a dead stop, a bike is less stable and a rider cannot accelerate quickly. With a little speed, the rider can stand up and hammer quickly out of danger. I have been in at least one situation in the last two years where this either saved my life or saved me from serious bodily injury. Of course if the car is coming too fast, the rider is toast whether he or she stopped at the intersection or not. That is one of the very real risks we all assume when we hop on our bikes.

The Alexandria police department is correct that some rider behavior is, indeed, dangerous and should be discouraged. Wearing headphones is one of those behaviors. I know it may be upsetting to some, but headphones eliminate one of the senses we need to keep ourselves out of danger. It also can be distracting. The same goes for people who drive cars while on the cellphone or while listening to music through headphones.

I will no longer ride my bike in Alexandria because it is simply too dangerous. Not only do I have to look out for cars, but now I will be more vulnerable at intersections if I have to come to a complete stop. The ticket will not change my riding behavior. I will always prioritize riding safe over riding legally. Often the two are the same, sometimes they aren't. Usually law enforcement recognizes this. Sadly, in Alexandria, they don't. So I will no longer ride, shop, eat at the restaurants, or otherwise spend money there. I feel sorry for all those people who bought houses in the area thinking it would be great to be able to ride to work.

P, you should not wait until you get a ticket in Alexandria to stop spending money in the area. It is clear that cyclists are not welcome there and we all need to stop now if it will have any effect.

The solution. Say what you will about Copenhagen's social policies, but ticketing cyclists as the primary way of "protecting" them isn't THEIR answer to safety:

http://www.velorution.biz/?p=1384

The problem with using this setup here in the States? A few things: First, it doesn't accomplish the main goal of effortlessly pulling in easy revenue. *All* it does is increase safety for cyclists. Second, it requires an outlay of cash; i.e., it's an EXPENSE, and expenses eat up revenue, and revenue...ah, just see first problem above. Finally, it inconveniences motorists, and everyone knows motorists rule the road and shouldn't take a backseat to any other travelers, especially those radical scofflaws, bicyclists.

It's not about money, it's about discouraging cyclists from using the road. If you're avoiding Alexandria, then the program is working.

David,
I didn't say anything about spending money in old town, that was Iconoclasst.

Regardless, I am in understanding that people would rather not travel through old town by bike. I don't really feel it's dangerous to ride, unless on Washington street, but I do feel the need to come to a complete stop or get a 70-something dollar ticket would make people avoid the area.

I also feel there are bicyclists who are jerks. I have seen more than a few "brush backs" of pedestrians by bikers, or others who have rocketed through intersections even when a car is starting to pass through them. Those are the ones who should be targeted. Not the person casually cruising while joggers pass them by. Even I have seen more than once a polic cruiser roll through a stop sign with his "stop" faster than my tyipcal "go".

Let's face it, we all have broken the law (infractions mind you) on more than one occassion. Who has gone 66 in a 65 mph zone, who has signalled a lane change without a directional indicator. These are infractions, not the start of an anarchist society. And yet I still am waiting for that rogue cyclist gang on cannondales to roll into town and burn the village. But they are coming mind you, i can hear the squeak of their poorly lubed chains!!!!

The only real lesson I personally have learned is when I hear someone yell stop in Alexandria, I'm lighting the afterburners because if I stop I get a ticket, if I get caught I get a ticket. Same outcome.

Contrarian, you are of course right. Which is why we have to stop spending money there -- as well as stop riding. If we keep riding there, we either continue to donate to their coffers through tickets or we put ourselves at risk by pretending we are exactly the same as cars.

I forgot to mention the highlight of Saturday's ticket spree. I only saw one rider not get a ticket, and the reason for that was she went through the stop sign at the same time as one of the police officers coming to join the party. Apparently they had enough sense to realize it would have been in poor taste to ticket her for exactly the same thing a police officer did at the same moment.

I got a ticket for $85 this past saturday, I was unaware of the sting operation. Usually I don't ride that far from Vienna, this time i did. Already in Old Town, passing Union St, I was going down the hill, very slowly before reaching the ill fated intersection. I was distracted by all those cyclist ( around 14 or so ) surronding what it looked like a couple of officers in bikes. My fist impresion was " mm immigration check " ( I'm Hispanic use to be ask for ID's..) then realize it was all white crowd & remember hearing news about stolen bikes around NOVA. Reaching the bottom of the hill, I didn't stop, fully, at the intersection and one the Cops waved at me to comeback, which I did. He summoned for an ID and the rest is history. According to the APD, It will not affect your driving record and you should attend the court hearing (the judge might cut you some slack on ticket fees..). Lessons learn: never ever do business in Old Town, stick to the bike paths and always obey traffic signs. What a shame that a beautifull weeknd was ruined for almost 400 cyclist, at the same time what a great weeknd for the APD on all the $$ generated.

@Tom A: Yes, dumbbell guy was the subject of my encounter. He has an interesting take on reality.

@ all the ticketed cyclists: has anyone taken their ticket to court? Tyler, I hope you'll report back after your court appearance on Friday. Sometimes actual court cases can move legislative change more effectively than lobbying, although I wouldn't presume to think that anyone involved would be that progressive.

Has there been any word on this police operation from Yon Lambert (bike/ped coordinator for Alexandria)? Did he even know about it beforehand (I assume he does now)? I'd be interested to hear what he has to say about it.

iconoclasst, I like the link. I'm not sure what "outlay" you're talking about, besides paying an employee to retime the lights. Incidentally, I always get a "green wave" heading downtown along M St. NW during lunchtime; it's great.

OMPB, the outlay would be paying a crew to paint the icon all along the lanes, assuming (as I must--otherwise, why synch them?) that the county or city wants such lanes "advertised."

The win-win of (and motivation for) this setup is it accomplishes two things: 1) cyclists get a nice, uninterrupted ride, and 2) they slow down (to catch the synced lights).

Right-of-way and increased safety, all without (directly) hitting the bank accounts of cyclists.

Wow. I didn't post this, so I don't get the automatic emails telling there are comments so I'm just joining the party. Good discussion.

I haven't gotten a ticket (It helps to be in Asia sometimes) but I'll avoid the area now.

Are they ticketing anything short of "both feet down"? I can accept ticketing reckless cycling, but track stops or slow stops are over the top in my opinion.

I'm about to enter my "law-breaking period" as part of my commute is on the NE Branch trail which is closed after sunset so I'll technically be tresspassing every day on my way home. Hopefully PG county will see fit to continue not enforcing that rule.

I have an email in my in-box from Yon about this but I can't read it because I'm at work. I'll let you know what he says about it.

A neighbor asked the officers what an appropriate stop was and was told that if you slow down and pause, instead of cranking through, it would be acceptable. This is sort of interpretive, and I have seen some very slow cyclist ask to pull over.

I just watched this video. Very balanced reporting. First they show cyclists who are in favor of this, then a pedestrian who's in favor of it. That covers both sides of the story right?

I would like to propose we find an alternative to "sting operation" to describe what the APD is doing. A sting operation involves deception: luring someone into committing a crime they would otherwise not commit. This is a well-publicized operation and it's not like the police are trying to get cyclists to run stop signs in order to bust them.

How about "Law-Enforcement Entrapment" on out of town weekend recreational cyclist. Better?

How about "WTF"? Plain, simple, short, and says it all. Perfect.

And there's a bonus: the W can mean both "what" and "why". I think the F needs no explanation.

Well...I finally got through to the Alexandria phone number, and talked to the Clerk.

She informed me that the recording was WRONG!! The actual fine is $161...not $80 (as posted above) or $76 (as on the recording for "bicycle infraction) or $91 (as on the recording for Stop Sign Violation).

Folks may want to know about this...

Or confirm?

Also, the Clerk told me that it does count against one's motor vehicle driving record...and the insurance company WILL raise rates accordingly.

Dang...how stupid!

Don't mean to post-post-post, but I just spoke with Lt. Gittens from the APD.

Here's the scoop: fine is $76...and is a civil fine, so it does NOT go on one's driving record.

Also, she mentioned that there will be police stationed at the same Green St & South Royal area again this weekend...as a warning to stop-at-stop-signs.

That's about it.

Best of luck to all...

John

Lt. Gittens was the investigating officer in my previously described complaint against APD. Her take on the insurance points conflicts with what I was told by an APD officer who pulled me over at King and Union over a month ago. His overbearing five minute lecture after I rolled through the intesrection at, at most, 3 mph was ludicrous and intended to intimidate. Evidence, once again that the APD attitude toward cyclists is safety minded. Also, Lt. Gittens told me that the genesis of this enforcement campaign is "complaints from local residents". She made no mention of concrete evidence of increased accidents.

Who are these turd residents who are complaining. I have lived in that very area for quite a while and actually enjoy seeing cyclists ride silently by. For that matter, the Green/Royal corner has 2 houses on 2 corners, and at the other corners is a community garden and St. Mary's school playground. If there is anything to complain about it's the soccer moms in their H2's rolling through the stop signs blocks away from dropping their kids off.

I would be interested in seeing a club team go through and see a good SAFE bike chase. I will say this is sort of in the spirit of Halloween and Sleepy Hollow, get over (or under) the bridge because the headless horseman will have his powers useless.

Anyway, good luck all at the cat and mouse game.

You don't need a club team to see a good, safe bike chase. Did you get a look at that cop chasing the hapless cyclist in the video? Ha ha! Funny stuff. If the cyclist had looked back, it would have been all over, as chubby surely would have given it up when the sprint was on.

I wonder what happens when a cop gives pursuit and blows through a light/stop sign in order to catch a cyclist who has just done the same thing? Kinda like those ridiculous 80 mph car chases through DC to catch a red runner. Or will the cop obey the law and stop, in which case the cyclist is definately gone, if he wasn't already? Guess however that scenario plays out will decide whether it's all about revenue or safety (as if there's a question). Like I said, this is going to be fun, as word gets out about what's going on and the $$ associated with a ticket. I predict more cat and mouse action...

Ha, well, I wouldn't be too sure about the police on their bikes not catching you. There was one officer this past weekend, he was tall, lanky, and very fast and gave chase to many for a few hours. On a road bike, you may have a chance. The mountain bikes, your possible chance is to out manuever through alleys, down stairs, and over curbs. The flip side is they have radios and numbers.

Too bad this forum you can't post videos, I wish someone would tape some great action and post it.

As for the police chasing you through a stop sign, I remember something about how they can during pursuits because it's pertinant for them to perform their job.

After all that is said and done, don't be a wreckless goober and get someone hurt. I admit, the running after someone has been entertaining for the whole neighborhood, but don't get people hurt. Playing chicken with motor vehicles is a game you're guarenteed to lose.

I would like to add, that I feel ADP does find job at showing a presence in old town. To their defense, they are only enforcers of some policy, not the policy makers, however stupid some of the policies may be. There just seems to be a lack of discretion by the officers, and their personal enjoyment over someone getting a fine doesn't help with sympathy.

Still, keep me updated on the lawless happenings of Old Town since as you see by my posting, I can't sleep!

'Cross bike...does it all.

Perfect getaway "vehicle".

Well...let's not forget that beat officers don't create policy. It seemed to me that the lanky-officer felt a little embarassed by it all. Burly guy was kinda standoffish....

As for the complaining neighbors, there is a range (I live nearby in Ford's Landing). You've got nice, friendly folk...and the lemon-lipped, bunched-panties crowd. I think the intersection was selected because: Green Street is pretty wide there, so it's a safe area to pull bikers over and ticket. My guess is that the complainers are up the hill on Green and Fairfax. There's a older (60ish) guy that drives a silver Subaru that has steered in the middle of the road once, and actually came close to me when he turned right (after passing near the stop sign and gliding through, without he himself stopping). Seems to be a bunched-pantie type.

Others in the 'hood have called police on a loose silky terrier (almost teacup sized dog) of a neighbor while she was walking it and a couple other incidents. Every neighborhood in D.C. has its crowd of narrow-minded, frustrated little rule-enforcers...and the SE Quadrant of Old Town is not the exception.

As for those mothers lining up at St. Mary's...yup...a lot of gasoline for those H2's, Tahoe's, and Suburban's. Don't you love it when they drive and chat on the cell?

Good day to all...

Oh...a better solution for protesting is not to mass-run the stop sign but to PEDAL SLOWLY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LANE AND COME TO FULL-STOPS. That'll cause traffic headaches, which the police will definitely get calls on.

I'm from San Francisco, and we have Critical Mass rides there that mess with the traffic, and certainly gets media attention.

The best way to protest a stupid rule is to use the rule to show it's stupidity!

JonyDirk. In D.C. (for one) that would be technicall illegal. You can take the lane for a whole host of reasons but to intentionally impede traffic is not one of them - of course proving intent gets difficult.

But there is no limit to how long one could stop at a stop sign - if you catch my drift...

Rather than protest, just avoid the area for a month or so until this all blows over.

Don't worry, it will. It's simply the revenue-raiser of the current month. The law will still be on the books (as it will no matter what), but enforcement will return to nill soon enough as other, more lucrative schemes are devised, especially if cyclists boycott the area.

John, I am not suprised the genesis of the WTF Operation was resident's complaints. There is no reason to harass otherwise safety-minded cyclists (this contrasts with many courriers in DC). I'd hate to reward the resident's poor behavior by not riding there so perhaps JonyDirk's suggestion of riding strictly by the rules of the road in Old Town is the best solution. It will drive the motorists crazy when we take the lane (as we are entitled) and stop and put down a foot at every stop sign. I am actually looking forward to it now. Of course, we still should not spend a single dollar in Alexandria when they are already fundraising at our expense.

It's also clear that noone in the APD knows what they are talking about when it comes to the fine. If you pay the wrong amount they apparently can issue a bench warrant so we all may have to appear in court and have the judge tell us what it is.

Still no sign of Operation WTF on my weekday commutes. I'll be riding through there tomorrow (Saturday), though - maybe I'll follow Dumbbell Guy's suggestion and fully dismount to cross the intersection :)

Washcycle, was there anything interesting in Yon's email?

Hmm...is Operation WTF already moribund? That was quick, and I didn't even make it there to play. Interesting.

Wonder what the next ripoff-du-mois will be?

[Interesting that "APD cyclist" never posted again...I smell an (im)pos(t)er.]

No but he, Jeff and I are hoping to meet sometime soon to talk about this (and other Alexandria bike issues - like how are they going to catch up to Arlington).

Just a word on trying to get bike lanes in Old Town. This would be deemed "progressive"..."Progressive Old Town", kind of like "Jumbo Shrimp" if you know what I mean.

And any word on today about enforcement? I am unfortunately out of town most of the day and will miss the "Day at the Races". :(

I rode south through Old Town via Union Street on my way home today and saw no police at all.

On my way north I used Washington Street. At Wythe Street a car came up behind me and laid on the horn. Apparently I was delaying his right hand turn by precious seconds. In a rare (for me) display of disapproval I flipped him off.

It made me wonder how nice Old Town would be like without cars.

On my late in the day ride through Old Town, I saw 1 APD on a bike. Nothing humorous to report. :(

I rode through Royal & Green twice on saturday, no sign of any police. They did, however, finally open the bike/ped ramp along South Street. No more playing chicken with concrete trucks (and residents)!

Contrast this with the bike police-escorted ride to the Four Mile Run trailbreaking ceremony in Arlington!

Theeeeeey'reeeee baaaack!

Today I saw the APD, same bat location. A lot of the commuters must have been nailed last year because a lot of them came to a full stop.

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