Boycott Bike to Work Day 2025

The main Bike to Work Day (BTWD) pit stop in DC, Franklin Park, is not served by any bike infrastructure of any kind. Unless and until this is remedied, all cyclists and all vendors should avoid this pit stop completely.

This was my 12th BTWD. Ok, 11th if you don’t count Boat to Work Day where it rained so much they had to park a Circulator Bus at Freedom Plaza to give out t-shirts.

I ride a few thousand miles a year, mostly in DC. I’m okay riding in traffic. But the point of BTWD is not to get cyclists like me a new cheap t-shirt and a water bottle with some vendor name on it. The point is to show regular people that they can bike to work. It’s lunacy to expect inexperienced or hesitant cyclists to brave lower 14th St NW. I certainly wouldn’t send my friends and family there.

I can’t imagine sending someone to that stop who wasn’t already an experienced city cyclist. And not all stops are like this. The main Virginia stop at Rosslyn is well-served by bike infrastructure (and the Intersection of Doom is better-ish, I haven’t been nearly killed there in years). The old spot at Freedom Plaza in DC shows off the lanes on 15th St NW and PA Ave NW (and to a lesser extent 11th NW, which is still WAY better than 14th NW).

But Franklin Park has none of this. The lanes on 13th NW and 14th NW end before the park. I St and K St are absolutely not bikeable for an inexperienced cyclist. And you can’t even bike on the sidewalk (legally) because it’s in the weird CBD trapezoid.

We need to demand better.

What the heck is a sneckdown?

“The snow is almost like nature’s tracing paper,” says Clarence Eckerson Jr, the director of StreetFilms, which documents pedestrian- and cycle-friendly streets across the globe. He says that snow can be helpful in pointing out traffic patterns and changing street composition for the better.

“When you dump some snow on this giant grid of streets, now you can see, visually, how people can better use the streets,” he says.


I love this idea, and it’s especially relevant today, as we’ve had a sizeable snow and then a lot of cold, so nothing is melting. So, a “sneckdown” is a spot on the road that is still covered in snow after the plows have gone through and cars have been using the streets. It’s a ridiculous name, I know, but it’s a cool concept. If you go out in DC right now you’ll see a ton of them. They’re places that we’ve reserved for cars that cars don’t really need. They’re places that can be given back to pedestrians. We can take these spaces and make them sidewalks so it’s easier and safer to cross the street. Or we can make them into bike lanes, or parks, or anything else that people might need.

There is one caveat – especially when it’s cold, much of the non-car traffic just isn’t big enough and hot enough to melt the snow. We have a lot of bike lanes in the city that DDOT has ingored and cyclists can’t use, so they remain covered in snow. This isn’t because there’s no demand. I was out biking today and nearly every other cyclist I saw was doing what I had to do – taking the lane right next to the bike lane because the bike lane was covered in a treacherous mix of ice and slush. The presence of a sneckdown is not incontrovertible proof that the space isn’t needed for its intended purpose. It’s just a good indication that we’re not allocating space efficiently.

Your government at work – 16th and U to get a makeover

You may recall that I was nearly killed in a crosswalk not too long ago. No, not that time, this was another time when I was nearly killed in a crosswalk. Before my foot surgery (And again as soon as it’s healed enough, which should be soon), I walked to work with the wife every day. We had a few “incidents” at 16th and U, where cars like to turn onto New Hampshire without yielding to pedestrians. I understand that the traffic pattern is a little confusing, but it’s still a problem. So I emailed my councilmember, the often-helpful Jim Graham, and asked him to do something about it. I didn’t hear much for a while, until yesterday when I got an email from a member of his staff.

I apologize for the delay. I misfiled your email. I am forwarding this to the pedestrian safety coordinator so that he can evaluate options for increased enforcement here. Councilmember Graham reported a new law out of his committee that will increase fines to $250 for drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians. The bill also requires that signs be posted to warn motorists. This law will come before the Council for final vote on September 16. Obviously, increased enforcement is also necessary as part of this effort. Councilmember Graham has been working to get the Department of Transportation involved in issuing moving violations to improve pedestrian safety. Finally, in a few years, DDOT plans to redesign this intersection to make it much safer. I’ve attached an image of the proposed changes. Jonathon Kass Committee on Public Works and the Environment Office of Councilmember Jim Graham

So that’s pretty awesome. Below is the picture he sent me. I’ve never used Photobucket before, and it has a very “We built this site for AOLers in 1997 and just slapped a Web 2.0 facelift on it” feel to it, but theoretically if you click the picture you can see a bigger version.


And that’s your DC government at work. They may be slow sometimes, but they do listen when you voice your concerns. The plans look pretty decent to my untrained eye. It looks like they’re widening the sidewalk on the northwest corner, which is good. And the goofy traffic pattern on the northeast corner will be gone. Of course, it will be a few years before this happens. And I imagine that intersection will be a bit of a disaster during construction. But in the end, it’ll be safer and better. I hope.

I could have been killed

Have you ever walked south on 16th Street on the right hand side across U Street? You have a light there, but then you have to cross New Hampshire with a crosswalk and no light.
View Larger Map The wife and I do it just about every day on the way to work. It’s not a problem to cross U Street, but crossing New Hampshire is a little dicey. Almost every day, someone assumes that, because they aren’t turning at a 90 degree angle, they don’t have to yield to pedestrians. Twice in the last month or so, we’ve had a car actually slow down or pull over to yell at us for getting in the way. This is all while walking in a crosswalk, by the way. The wife, being more confrontational than I, has exchanged words with some of these drivers. I emailed Jim Graham yesterday, and he has tasked a staff member with looking into it. I want them to put up a sign reminding people that they have to yield. I know it’s a funny intersection, but it’s an area with a lot of foot traffic, and it’s dangerous. It doesn’t help that many pedestrians will yield their right of way to cars. I understand the reasoning there – if you get hit by a car, your broken bones and whatnot don’t really care about the stand you were making for pedestrian’s rights. However, when you give up your right of way, you are also taking mine, because now the drivers think they’re right. So stand up for your right of way. And if you’ve ever had this trouble at this intersection, or any other, write to your councilmember. I don’t actually know who’s in charge of that area – Ward 1 and Jim Graham’s turf ends just north of there at Florida Avenue. But your councilmember would no doubt be aware of who needs to be notified. I’ll keep you posted on what he intends to do about it.

Weekend bus trauma

Well, trauma is perhaps too strong a word. But I did have a few “incidents” on the bus over the weekend.

First, on Friday, I was taking the bus down to the DC Improv to meet the wife and some friends. The bus driver decided that the light at Connecticut and Florida just north of Dupont didn’t really apply to him. A few cars thought that maybe it did, and registered their disagreement with their horns. No one was injured.

Then, on the way home from the 10K, we were on the same bus line, the 42, going north on Connecticut.  We were at the Q St. stop, and a gentleman in a large Range Rover decided that he wanted to pass the bus before he missed the light.  Unfortunately, his Range Rover was wider than the space between the bus and the Jersey wall.  Oops.  So he hit us.  I actually didn’t notice the impact, but the bus driver had to stop and call it in and wait for her supervisor or something.  So we walked the rest of the way home.

I was a little disappointed in the reaction of the passengers on the bus, some of whom expressed a lot of anger at the bus driver.  It wasn’t her fault that she had been rear-ended, or that she had to wait for permission to move the bus.  But try telling that to the angry people on the bus.

Anyway, I think the bus driver handled the whole thing well.  She called it in right away, then told the bus passengers what was going on.  She apologized for the inconvenience.  Not much more she could have done.

And riding the bus still beats driving in the city.

Shootings on Girard Street

Columbia Heights Shootings Cause Alarm –

“I’ve been living around here since I was in diapers,” said Chinata Nesbit, 21, who lived in an apartment across the hall from Terry. “It’s never been this bad.”

Well, I suppose it’s of some small comfort that this is the worst it’s been in 20 years – that suggests that we’re just going through a rough patch and it should get better. Or, maybe not. I don’t really know what I’d like to see done about it. I don’t know the best way to reduce violence. I don’t think that banning guns is the answer. There must be studies done on levels of violence before and after gun bans go into effect, and I’ll bet the change is not as drastic as people would like to think it is.

I’d like to see more police around.  I think foot patrols would be great.  I was talking to friends in Mount Pleasant, just a few blocks away, and they have police officers who are always around.  I think having a few cops who actually know residents on the street because they’re around all the time would have a much higher impact on the amount of violence.  It’s less flashy and more costly than banning guns, though.

The perils of a transitional neighborhood

I was in Maryland today visiting some good friends, and got home around 11:30PM to find the street one block over closed by police cars and crime scene tape. I’m not feeling terribly inclined to go investigate, but I’m curious what it is. I suppose I’ll have to find out in the morning.

Update: I hear from a Columbia Heights message board that our councilmember, Jim Graham, sent an email out. There was a shooting, one dead, one wounded.