Strange Twists on the Trail

After yesterday’s 55, today’s 25 seemed easy!

Started the day at my local elementary school helping shepherd the kids biking to school for International Bike to School Day. While there I took advantage of my friends the bike police’s presence and talked about the “E” of enforcement challenges we have. We had engaged in a discussion on Saturday at the Bike Rodeo about four lane roads with crosswalks from the trail.  Several years ago a woman on a bike was hit in a crosswalk that connects the W&OD from one side to the other of Sunrise Valley Drive. What happened is that one car stopped and waved for her to cross. She entered the crosswalk, and another car coming up beside the first car hit her.

There was a lot of victim blaming about “did she even stop at the stop sign?” and “the car that stopped for her should not have done so.”

My position is that no matter how she got into the crosswalk, whether that person waved her into it or whether she stopped first, once she was in the crosswalk she had the right of way. My cop friends (and all the victim blamer/trolls) kept getting hung up on “cyclists don’t stop at stop signs.” We were also disagreeing about the speed limit on that road because the rules in Virginia are a little different if the road is a 45mph or higher.

So today I re-engaged. I made them a batch of power bars. I thanked them profusely for coming to Bike 2 School Day. And then I said, “Hey guess what? I went to look at Sunrise Valley and it’s only 35 there so the exception doesn’t apply.” Their reply, “Oh, really? It’s only 35?” Insert ironic note that one reason they don’t enforce it is because apparently they don’t know what it is either!  So then I said, “But I’ve been thinking about it. If that had been someone with a stroller and a baby, and the first car stopped for them and the second didn’t, would people be as quick to judge them at fault? The point is that once the person is in the crosswalk, and someone is stopped there, the second car is on notice that SOMETHING is in the crosswalk, right?”

One of them said, “Well, that’s not how we charge it.” I replied, “I know.”

They know I’m a former prosecutor, and I think they like me, but they are victims of their own training. Hopefully I’ve at least made them think. I hope they don’t have to respond to any more crashes like this one, but if they do, hopefully they’ll not jump to the conclusion about the person on the bike being the bad guy!

So…then I went to ride on the trail. I started at Old Reston Avenue where the counter was installed last week. It’s gone already. Yep, they didn’t coordinate with the owners of the W&OD (NVRPA) and apparently it’s a hazard to in-line skaters and joggers so they had to take it out. Wouldn’t you think they’d check that ahead of time? Sigh.

So as I rode my 12.7 east towards Falls Church I saw a fox crossing the road at Sunset Hill (all the traffic stopped for him which meant I was able to cross too). Then I was on the section between Hunter Mill and Vienna and heard a noise to my left. It was a CAR ON THE TRAIL. White car, Florida plates, going about 30mph. It was really scary! There was a Park Authority guy further down near Vienna who said he’d told the guy to get off the trail. I guess that was easier than writing him a ticket!

As I approached Cedar Lane there was an officer of the law sitting there watching to see if cyclists really did come to a stop. I did, and then two cars stopped to wave me through.

Those two drivers, while being kind and polite, were actually breaking the law. Wouldn’t it have been nice for the officer to pull them over (or at least one of them) and ask them to be PREDICTABLE, ALERT and LAW ABIDING? Sigh again.

Oh, one final note on the trail. As I was headed back between Vienna and Reston I passed a guy on an e-bike! That felt pretty darned good!

And my mom arrived tonight to help celebrate my daughter’s graduation this weekend. Except for the fact I headed to Dulles to pick her up and then she told me she was at Reagan, it was uneventful.

Life unplanned is fun!

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