As for the driving while texting, I see drivers doing this without even looking at approaching lights. It’s just a matter of luck whether they bother to stop at those lights or not.
One day, I decided to do a quick study. I was riding in a taxi across the 14th St. Bridge, so obviously I did not need to be looking ahead at the road. I looked at the other lanes to see what drivers were doing. One third of all the drivers I saw on that trip were texting or websurfing on their phones or tablets when they were supposed to be driving and looking ahead. While this is hardly a comprehensive scientific survey, it’s just another anecdote that confirms just how many drivers use poor judgment and practice unsafe and illegal habits while behind the wheel.
It helps explain why there are so many car accidents, in this area and in nearly every other large community in the U.S. Let me say it again. Drivers do not follow the laws. Period. People die because of this. A lot of them.
Where did someone claim that driving a car is patriotic?
So, I’ll admit it, I’m one of those runners who will run in the bike lane, but I do so in this manner:
1) I’ve never worn headphones while running;
2) I always run in the opposite direction of the traffic (taught as a young child that this is safer)
3) I always look ahead, and if I see a biker approaching me, I will immediately yield and jump back up on the sidewalk.
…I’ve never had a run in with a biker in this manner, in fact a few tell me thanks for yielding.
Why I do it:
1) I need a safe way of getting over to the less crowded streets, I have to use Clarendon and Wilson.
2) Cars don’t half pull over the pedestrian walkway and block me since I’m further out (at an intersection; you won’t believe the amount of times cars will make a running right turn while looking left or on their damn cell phones; when PEDS have the light)
3) Brick sidewalks are full of dips, slants and are falling apart all over Clarendon and Courthouse, if you haven’t noticed.
4) Restaurants leave all their tables and chains out overnight making the sidewalks as narrow as only one person in most blocks.
I also bike and drive. Call me a nerd, but I don’t use my cellphone in my car and as a biker, I actually stop at every light and unclip and wait patiently.
While running in the bike lane is still illegal and still possibly dangerous, if you make it very clear that you are going to yield – and which way you’re going to go to yield! – then it wouldn’t bother me.
Further proof that drivers are by far the most dangerous threat on area roads (not “Lance wannabes”):
Montgomery County police posed as civilian pedestrians in a crosswalk at Viers Mill Road in Aspen Hill last week. They wore bright yellow T-shirts and walked in the middle of the day, from 11 am to 1:30 pm. So how many drivers failed to yield to the pedestrians in the crosswalk wearing bright T-shirts around midday? 72 drivers, over the course of 2.5 hrs. That’s one driver almost every 2 minutes. You also have to consider that as police cited each offender, other drivers would see this. So those drivers would not try to run the pedestrians off the road. But as soon as that ticketed driver went on his way, there was no indication that the pedestrians were police officers. So it’s reasonable to assume that a majority of the drivers who did not see police writing up a ticket tried to force a pedestrian off the road during those 2.5 hours.
The police have stepped up enforcement because of pedestrian deaths caused by drivers in the county.
While people can make the typical “Maryland driver” jokes or say that this was somehow entrapment or an “isolated situation”, it is just another example of how many drivers simply do not follow the traffic laws. It’s not just in Maryland either. Plenty of drivers in D.C. and Virginia do the same thing, trying to push or force pedestrians out of crosswalks. Many drivers clearly get ticked off that pedestrians dare to walk in a crosswalk on a road, even when the pedestrians have the WALK signal and arrived first. You can see this from their facial expressions or from that fact that some drivers won’t even bother stopping in a near-miss. They will simply swerve slightly and maintain their too-fast rate of speed as they blow right through an intersection and crosswalk. (And red lights on some occasions.)
Many pedestrians do jaywalk and some will walk into roads while texting or websurfing on their phones, thus failing to see potential oncoming traffic. But that doesn’t excuse the reckless and outright aggressive and illegal behavior that so many car drivers practice every day on local roads. This is why there are so many traffic deaths in the area and all over the U.S., not because of illegal behavior from pedestrians (or cyclists), though that is a contributing factor in a segment of the fatal incidents. Every group is guilty of illegal behavior on the roads. But it’s ridiculous for some to single out cyclists as somehow being the biggest threat, and to continue to manipulate a story of a single elderly cyclist, when people continue to get killed because of dangerous and reckless driver behavior. Just look at today’s ARLnow post about the driver running into a parked police car. Is anyone honestly going to claim that is an isolated incident?
“Where did someone claim that driving a car is patriotic?”
That’s a reference to dozens of NS’s previous posts on various ARLnow articles. He didn’t use that term on this thread but he has made it clear that it represents his views about drivers and cyclists. Note how he has never once objected to the use of the term on this thread. It’s ridiculous to state that driving is “patriotic” but it’s even more ridiculous when someone actually believes something like that.
Probably has something to do with his mistaken notion that only drivers pay for the roads and that all other users (particularly cyclists) are somehow freeloaders and leeches for daring to use public roadways. That’s why so many of the aggressive “law-abiding” drivers, advocates and car evangelists often say, “If you want to share the road, pay for them!” Well, anyone who pays income or sales tax, especially in Virginia, is already paying for the roads. Especially with the new transportation funding deal, gas taxes and car registration fees only pay for a minority of total road and bridge construction and maintenance costs. It’s pretty outrageous for someone to claim exclusive ownership of a public facility and exclude others from those facilities or use deadly instruments (3,000-lb. vehicles) to intimidate and endanger legitimate users of those facilities. That’s what K-Kev has proposed in the past, using his car to force cyclists into certain areas he deems acceptable. (Cyclists are not required to use bike lanes, but he seems to think they are required to do so. And then he will try to enforce his made-up traffic laws by dangerous means, i.e., a heavy vehicle.)
Good post, MH – just want to add that roads have been funded by taxes other than the gas tax for decades, in Virginia and elsewhere, long before this new road deal. Over the past 20 years or so, the share of money for roads paid by general taxes like sales and income taxes has grown to about a third or more each year. The claim that cars pay for the roads is complete rubbish, and has been for a long time.
So MH’s point is that some, if not many drivers, don’t obey the law. Correct. Just like some, but not all, cyclists disobey the law. Also correct.
Well, the other point is that when drivers don’t obey the law, they often end up killing people. Tens of thousands of them every year in the U.S. That’s why it’s frustrating to continue to read and hear statements that “Lance wannabes” are such a major threat. Sure, there are some annoying cyclists. I’ve passed by some myself. But that’s nothing compared to the near misses I experience often while trying to walk in crosswalks when I have the WALK signal.
So to summarize, the major difference is the tens of thousands of deaths every year. And the tens or hundreds of thousands of life-altering injuries along with the millions of minor injuries. I’d say that’s an important distinction.
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