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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com May 21, 2012 at 8:29 am 5,542 158 Comments

Resident Warns of Bollards on Trails — Local cycling advocate Steve Offutt told the Arlington County Board over the weekend that bollards — posts put at the entrance to a trail to keep cars out — are posing a hazard to bicyclists and other trail users. “In the last few weeks, numerous bollards have been installed on trails in the County,” Offutt said. “I would… like to recommend that the Board instruct staff to remove the bollards that have been recently installed until such policy is in place.” [CommuterPage Blog, Sun Gazette]

James Hunter Park Improvements Approved — On Saturday the County Board approved a $1.46 million contract for a series of improvements to a dog park near Clarendon. New park features will include a plaza terrace, open lawn, demonstration gardens, water feature, improved community canine area, and a solar-powered irrigation system to reduce water usage. [Arlington County]

Columbia Pike Improvements Approved — Also on Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved a $5.7 million contract for utility undergrounding and streetscape improvements on a stretch of Columbia Pike. Work on the project is expected to begin in July. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Alex

  • Frivolous

    Needs to be said: The beer cups at Taste of Arlington were an absolute ripoff (thus making the tickets, even bought ahead of time at a discount a ripoff), and I won’t be going next year if they pull that same stunt again. Booooo

    • JohnB2

      It kinda worked out, since they were only one ticket this year, so I just got 2 at a time and poured them into a plastic cup I got at another booth.

  • DeportEmAll

    Those bollards really are dangerous (to bikers) and totally unnecessary. I’ve never seen an unauthorized car on the bike trails around here.

    • Disagree

      Seriously, how hard is it to avoid a bollard? And yeah, I’ve seen vehicles on the paths. (Usually Arl Parks/Rec SUVs.)

      • JR

        Guess what? Arlington Parks and Rec SUV’s will continue to access the trails, even with bollards.

      • CW

        When you’re towing a three-wide toddler trailer while holding your dog’s leash, drinking starbucks, and talking on the phone, all while your wife rides next to you in the other lane of the trail, they’re nearly impossible to avoid.

        (Translation: I love bollards)

        • In the Seattle area, in addition to bollards, we have mazes that cyclists have to navigate through in order to continue on the trail. They’re meant to slow down wannabe Lance Armstrongs barreling down the trail at 25+ mph.

          • CW

            I’ve seen those! They had one set up near Roosevelt Island a while ago I believe when they were doing construction work near the parking lot.

          • cyclist

            Those are still there. They are meant to keep cyclists from hopping over the curb into the parking lot and using it as a trail.

        • Disagree

          Dude, get this: I once saw some mommatard blabbing on her phone and not noticing that her pit bull, leashed to her baby carriage, was pulling the carriage over onto its side in order to get closer to a nearby dog! I think the baby was OK. But what a moron. (Who leashes a dog to a baby carriage? Plus, babies and pit bulls–great idea!)

          • Andrew

            What is wrong with having a baby and a pit bull?

          • Disagree

            Are you serious? Just google “pit bull attacks baby.”

          • 1

            Remember to google “golden retriever attacks baby” or “yellow lab attacks baby” while you’re at it. Or you can keep believing the FUD that is spewed nonstop with few backing statistics.

          • John Fontain

            I did the google search as requested.

            “pitbull attacks baby” yielded 19,500 results.

            “yellow lab attacks baby” yielded one result.

          • John Fontain

            Oh, and the one result for “yellow lab attacks baby” was a post in a thread where someone said “do a google search for yellow lab attacks baby.”

          • drax
          • WeiQiang

            Thx, drax. In Arlington, we have the ‘Pit Crew’ that is affiliated with AWLA. I adopted my pit/lab mix … first time I have owned a ‘bully’ breed. With basic training that any dog should have and basic socialization, my dog is excellent around puppies and infants. A bunch of our friends have had babies in the past year and we host them frequently in our home with our dog free to roam.

            Parents must be attentive with their children around ANY dog, especially dogs that don’t live with them. Kids are prone to exploring/playing with a dog’s mouth, ears, eyes and paws. Any dog that is averse to having these parts messed with could react aggressively. It’s common sense, brah.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            WeiQiang,

            There are two pit bulls I’d be glad to see anywhere:

            http://www.cesarsway.com/images/news/daddy01.jpg
            http://www.cesarsway.com/images/packprofiles/juniorado02.jpg

            I hope your mix is like these two in personality!

          • Donna

            What the hell kind of term is a “mommatard”?

          • Sergei Brinn

            Google “mommatard attacks pit bull.” Best video on youtube.

          • drax

            A very immature slur.

          • Agonist

            It’s a horrible word to use in reference to someone with a mental disability, but a perfectly great word to call someone willfully stupid enough to tether a dog to a baby.

          • Zelora

            I think the term “mommatard” is the most amusing item I’ve seen here for quite some time.
            Some young women seem to get the idea that having a baby makes them a queen of society, someone who needn’t any longer respect nor defer to anyone else – QUITE the contrary! Who hasn’t seen a self-important young woman drive a stroller right at you here in Arlington?! or heard one yakking at her child in twice as high/loud a voice as would be appropriate?
            Maybe they are brain-damaged after L & D….or maybe they are just spoiled young women who take any excuse to act up. I’m totally tired of them.

          • WeiQiang

            Pit bulls and pit bull mixes are great family dogs. As with any dog, the owners need to socialize their dogs with other dogs and people.

            Any dog of any appreciable strength – attached to a stroller [even the kind with GPS that self-parks] – is going to pull the stroller in an unintended direction if the owner/parent isn’t paying attention.

      • cyclist

        I have seen a few vehicles on the paths. I saw someone accidentally drive on a path because they though it was an exit ramp. I saw the police investigating an abandoned car on a trail.

        But there are certain places where hard bollards are dangerous, like the one that a cyclist hit (serious injury) on the Mt. Vernon trail at Roosevelt Island a few weeks ago, coming down a hill.

        • Bandersnatch

          No joke, that accident was bad news- construction debris on a curve terminating in a rigid bollard. Guy (not a Lance wannabe) lost his rear end on the curve and did a face plant into the bollard. They’ve since replaced it with a flexible pylon.

        • CW

          Yeah, despite the previous snarky comments on my behalf, bollards at the terminus of a steep, blind hill, not so cool.

      • DeportEmAll

        Yup, that’s why I said I haven’t seen “unauthorized” vehicles.

      • arlcyclist
        • John Fontain

          All of those physical structures need to be removed immediately. They are a danger to vehicular traffic since they can be crashed into (just like the bollards).

          • Cray Cray Shopper

            With their low prices and sassy summer selections, it’s impossible to avoid The Dress Barn!

          • arlcyclist

            Touche, but unlike the physical structures those drivers were unable to avoid, the bollards in question have no redeeming value.

          • KalashniKEV

            Except for keeping reckless cyclists in line…

        • Steve O

          +1 !!!!

    • Quoth the Raven

      These things aren’t hard to see -how fast are cyclists going such that they can’t avoid them? Or, is there some other issue with them that I don’t understand?

      • Josh S

        The point is that the default position should be no bollard unless documented problems with cars entering the trail. So the burden of proof lies with those who want to install them, not on those who want to remove them.

        Also, any kind of feigned incredulity that anyone could ever run into such a thing is just not gonna hold much water. Accidents happen. We all know that. And any kind of regular user of the trails will recognize that the wide range in users and their abilities / interests will almost guarantee friction, made worse at points where the trail narrows or there are obstacles.

        • John Fontain

          I could see arguing that bollards are dangerous if they were set to randomly pop up out of the ground, but if the bollard doesn’t move? That’s just dumb.

          Cyclists, stop looking at yourselves as victims and start using common sense. Watch where you are going, stay in control of your bike and you should have no problem not crashing into something.

          • Josh S

            I think you missed the point.

            Why is the bollard there in the first place? If it serves no useful purpose (as seems to be the case with many cited in the article above), then shouldn’t it be removed because of the risk it poses as an obstacle?

            Your admonishment to bicyclists could just as usefully be directed toward operators of motor vehicles. Yet car crashes happen. Bike accidents will happen. And they will be far likelier to happen when a bollard appears in the middle of the trail.

            Which brings us back to the point – if that bollard serves no function in the middle of the trail – why not remove it?

          • John Fontain

            If the bollards weren’t installed and a car drove on the path and struck a cyclist, the very same cyclists who are complaining about the bollards today would be screaming about the lack of bollards. The county truely cannot win with these perma-victims.

          • Josh S

            Maybe.

            But I’d rather take my chances with the theoretical risk than the cold, hard risk posed by the bollards.

      • cyclist

        They might be extremely hard to see in the dark, even with a light.

        Going down a hill, in slippery conditions or heavy trail traffic, is also a problem.

        It’s like any pole sticking up in the middle of a road – it’s gonna be a problem for someone.

        • John Fontain

          If the bollards are hard to see at night, they could just dress the bollards in those tacky, day-glow green cycling bibs with faux corporate logos that all the local riders play dress up in.

          • drax

            Or the obnoxious stripes, logos and bumper stickers that people put on their cars to play NASCAR! Or that runners wear to play Olympian!

          • Josh S

            God forbid anyone wear a faux corporate logo. Only the finest in pure-pred, genuine American-made corporate logos will earn respect around here.

            (P.S. double-u-tee-eff is a “faux corporate logo?”)

    • Bollards are necessary to slow down dangerous cyclists that speed through intersections. They don’t prevent cars. And cyclists that can’t maneuver through bollards need to learn how to ride a bike.

      • cyclist

        So you support bollards in roadways to slow down speeding cars too? Yeah, thought so.

        • South Awwlington

          Speeding cars get speeding tickets. Speeding bikes get no such fine.

          • cyclist

            Speeding bikes can get speeding tickets too.

            Not that bikes go over the speed limit very often.

          • Bandersnatch

            Errr- Capital Crecent speed limit is 15 mph and they DO give speeding tickets.

          • South Awwlington

            Good for Maryland (I doubt DC enforces this). Where is that we do this on the W & OD and Four Mile Trails? Custis Trail? Mt Vernon Trail? Inquiring minds want to know.

          • cycling

            There are no speed limits posted there as far as I can recall. There’s probably a limit, but nobody seems to know what it is.

          • bobco85

            There are speed limit signs posted on the Mount Vernon trail, but only on the trail south of the Wilson Bridge. North of that, there are no speed limits posted. The only other trail in the DC area that has speed limit signs seems to be the Capital Crescent trail.

            The W&OD, Fairfax County Parkway, Four Mile Run, Custis, C&O Canal Towpath, Rock Creek Park, Anacostia Riverwalk, Metropolitan Branch, and Georgetown Branch trails all do not have speed limit signs.

            In general, there are little to no speed limit signs on trails, but right-of-way is given to horses first, pedestrians second, and cyclists last.

        • Quoth the Raven

          That makes no sense – a bike can easily steer around a post, but a car, on most roads, cannot.

          • cyclist

            Did you read the thread, QtR? Bikes can hit posts too. A cyclist was seriously injured by hitting a bollard just a few weeks ago in Arlington.

          • Quoth the Raven

            I did read the thread. How fast was the TR Island rider going? Did speed play a part in the accident? I’m not being sarcastic, I honestly don’t know. I ask that because if you’re going a reasonable speed, you’re going to be able to avoid hitting a post.

          • cylist

            First you say a bike can easily clear a post. Then you say you don’t know what happened in that incident.

            I think it’s safe to assume that a post sticking up in the middle of a trail could indeed pose a hazard even to someone operating a bike or running in a safe manner. I think that’s obvious too, even if I weren’t a cyclist.

          • Quoth the Raven

            Right — a bike, going at a safe speed, can easily steer around the post. You’re on here claiming that bollards are unsafe, and you’re using that one TR example as evidence. I don’t know what happened there. Maybe the bollard was at fault. Maybe the guy was going too fast. But one example does not prove that bollards are dangerous.

            By the way, do you have any examples of a runner somehow injuring himself on a bollard?

          • cyclist

            But I didn’t say ALL bollards are unsafe, nor did I say a runner has hit a bollard.

            All I said was that YOU can’t assume that they ARE all safe. It’s not hard to believe that they could pose a hazard. That’s all.

            To answer your question, the cyclist may have been going too fast (who knows?) but there was apparently gravel he slipped on and then hit the bollard, so it’s quite possible he was going a speed he reasonably assumed was safe. He shouldn’t have to be seriously injured either way.

          • ouch

            it hit him right in the bollards. which were later battered and fried by the montana state society.

          • Richard Cranium

            +1.

        • dk

          I think on the roadways we call them “speed bumps.”

          • nom de guerre

            Hemorrhoids?

          • cyclist

            Then put speed humps on the trail. Not posts. Get it now?

          • dk

            My, you’re a little testy this morning.

            Would you prefer speed bumps?

            ^^ That is a serious question.

      • D’oh

        I completely agree–almost. Some of the bollards at not well-placed. There’s one on Lee Highway that, due to poor trail conditions, effectively makes the path one lane. It’s on a hill, so people riding down quickly make it tricky for those riding up.

        That said, yeah, people need to be more aware. I commute every day and see a lot of people riding too fast for conditions. The trail is not the place to get in a high-speed workout. If you want to ride fast, get on the road like most of us do. Of course this leads to drivers complaining that you’re “only” going 30 on a 30 mph road…

        • CW

          Yeah, probably thinking of the one at Lee and Scott. I hate that section of the trail, and riding it twice a day I see the worst. Between the Marriott and the top of the hill past Scott people go way too fast.

      • Kevin Diffily

        Speed bump would seem more sensible than a bollard if you want to slow down the bike racers.

    • Arlington, Northside

      The bollards are not only to keep unauthorized vehicles off the trail, but to keep the authorized vehicles, such as police, ambulances, trash trucks, maint. trucks from driving over the bridges that are not rated or built for vehicle traffic. Steve is off with his dislike of these, but he is overall a great guy.

    • Punk Blocked

      Never mind the Bollards. It the sex offenders! (to worry about on the trails)

  • vc

    Great! New dog park in Clarendon, but no decent walkable park for children in Rosslyn.

    • Corey

      There are kids in Rosslyn?

    • WeiQiang

      You could have taken the kids down to play on the GW Pkwy this morning, from what I understand.

      btw, morning everyone.

  • Joe Hoya

    Never mind the bollards, here’s the Sex Pistols!

    • drax

      Winner.

  • KalashniKEV

    He needs a policy?

    Here’s the policy:
    1) Don’t crash into bollards.
    2) Don’t crash into runners.
    3) Don’t crash into trees.

    Problem solved. Problem staying solved.

    • Josh S

      And double rainbow continuing to amaze…..

    • cyclist

      This is why you are not in charge. Thank God.

      • KalashniKEV

        Obey the policy and you won’t get hurt.

        (…and that’s not even a threat!)

        • cycling

          No, sometimes you get hurt even when you obey policies, genius.

          Sometimes accidents happen despite reasonable efforts to remain safe, which are nobody’s fault.

  • Bender

    They are not a danger at all if the bicyclist GETS OFF THE BIKE and walks through.

    In fact, there is a great need for TRAFFIC CALMING on the trails — they need to INSTALL SPEED BUMPS all along the trail to slow people down.

    • Fed Up!

      These are bike trails, for Pete’s sake! People should be allowed, dare I say encouraged, to ride their bikes on bikes trails. Any time bikes ride on roads (or even cross them at marked intersections) this forum is filled with complaints about bikers on roads. Anyone here who does not ride a bike on any regular basis but is still opining about the bollards is not even qualified to offer an opinion about them.

      I saw the accident about the bottom of the ramp at Roosevelt Island when the cyclist hit the bollard. It was horrible. It was the most blood I have even seen at an accident of any kind. Governments spend millions of dollars on safety improvements to roads, sidewalks, cross walks to prevent or limit accidents, even one cause by driver, biker, or walker error. The bollards are causing accidents, not preventing them; ergo, they should go.

      • ArlingtonWay

        Agree. It is outrageous that the government forced that rider to drive too fast and steer into the bollard.

      • Elmer

        I have noticed that light poles in the medians of the streets in Arlington have a bad habit of jumping out in the street and being mowed down by motorists.
        I mean, what other possible explaination can there be for this Arlington phenomenon? Surely not driver inattention and/or speeding? No way!

      • South Awwlington

        Correction – these are PUBLIC trails, to be used by bicyclists and pedestrians alike…and even peds with their annoying little dogs and those pesky leashes and stroller pushing moms and blue hairs walking outside instead of in the mall.

        Everyone is entitled to use the darn trail, therefore it has to be safe for everyone.

      • South Awwlington

        Correction – these are PUBLIC trails, to be used by bicyclists and pedestrians alike…and even peds with their annoying little dogs and those pesky leashes and stroller pushing moms and blue hairs walking outside instead of in the mall.
        Everyone is entitled to use the darn trail, therefore it has to be safe for everyone.

        • Ballston Resident

          Exactly. Too many people forget these are also recreation trails and not transportation corridors.

          • dirty biker

            Honestly, M-F 6-9am and 4-6pm they were designed primarily a transportation corridors with hundreds of people getting to work and tens of people strolling.

            I have significantly less sympathy with ear-bud wearing, three abreast strolling, 30′ long dog leash handling, unlighted peds during these transportation hours than during the weekend recreational use times. Everyone needs to be aware of fellow trail users but to be frank, part of that responsibility is for walkers to keep the center of the trail clear for the safe and speedy passage of bikes.

            Also, as my public service announcement for the multitudes that clearly don’t get it- if you run/walk/ride with two ear buds in and don’t carry a light at night, you pretty much deserve to get run over. ALWAYS keep at least one ear clear and ALWAYS carry a light at night- I won’t be able to see you and you won’t be able to hear me – bad things then happen.

          • Josh S

            +1

          • WeiQiang

            It’s simple. Keep right except to pass … it works for peds, bikes & cars.

            I remember having some middle-aged ladies who were sauntering and chatting in the middle of the trail call me an a-hole when I announced from behind at a distance of about 30 feet that I was going to pass them. They were startled and not aware of their surroundings, so I’m the a-hole.

            btw, i’m mostly an a-hole … just not in that instance.

          • South Awwlington

            How to you handle that person, who no matter how far to right you lead, they push to their left? (oncoming, of course).

          • WeiQiang

            elbow

            srsly, if I think they’re creating a potentially unsafe situation, I’ll “issue a verbal notice”.

          • Ballston Resident

            What decade are you referencing when you say “they were designed” re: the bike trails?

          • South Awwlington

            lol perhaps while the Old Dominion line was still rumbling through?

          • South Awwlington

            Engineering and design vs. reality and use.

            I am not going to argue who should use public trails and when but I would remind you they are called trails and not bike ways. Biking has grown as a mode of transportation to and from work in the last 10 years and we should celebrate that — and not intimate others who might want to try it also — until they get scared by the occasional vocal and sometimes rude sounding bike advocates (as they yell from their vehicle – yes, it is a vehicle.) Less cars on the road, the better we all are. It is one piece to the transportation puzzle with many others.

            Additionally, distracted walking/biking/driving is danger to everyone. I can’t count the number of times I have seen pedestrians stroll right out into the crosswalk, without looking in any direction except down at their smartphone.

            Darwin was right and eventually these too will be handled.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            Wow – hundreds – maybe we need to compare that to the other transpo modes where we’re talking 100K’s

          • cycling

            Kind of like the GW Parkway is a parkway and not a commuter highway?

          • Josh S

            and another +1

          • Ballston Resident

            No, it’s a roadway just like all the other public access roads around here, which is why it carries a heavy volume of rush hour traffic, just like all the major road ways around here.

          • South Awwlington

            @cycling – you realize that the GW handles more volume than traditional parkways because of the HOV restrictions on 66? HOV restrictions are on 66 because the CB won’t let VDOT widen the road.

            Lesson – thank the County Board.

    • Spectator

      Perhaps better than thumb tacks. Years ago, someone spread thumb tacks on the GW “bicycle” path down in South Alexandria. Apparently a runner was not happy about sharing the path with bicyclers.

      Definitely one way to “calm” the traffic!

  • ArlingtonWay

    I think all county policies should be geared toward small vocal subcultures like bike riders and bocce ball players. Ride around the bollard you crybaby! Don’t get your spandex bike shorts all in a wad. Sheesh.

  • Elmer

    I’m working on a dictionary of Arlington Speak for any new inhabitants of (and visitors to) our “Planet Arlington”.

    A few recent examples:
    bollards = poles
    community canine center = dog park
    learning cottage = trailer
    pedestrian refuge area = wide spot in median strip

    All contributions welcome!

    • Aurora Hills

      sprayground = childrens park with hoses

    • KalashniKEV

      Bollard Bashers = Darwin Award Candidates

    • John Fontain

      danger = anything that could cause harm to someone who doesn’t use common sense in interacting with it (see bollard). also, something that must be eliminated by government, given that the citizens have no responsibility to use common sense when interacting with it.

      • cyclist

        Um, no, John, that’s your self-serving definition. It’s not the real one.

        Things that are stupid can be dangerous too. A giant sinkhole at midnight in the fog is dangerous even if you use common sense in interacting with the roadway in your car. Dangerous situations can happen without blaming the victim for all of them.

        • John Fontain

          Lighten up. You can’t see a joke if it mushrooms you in the face.

          • Josh S

            Nice try, John. Your hostility toward cyclists and those who express concerns about the bollards has already been made clear today. To try to now claim this latest missive as a “joke?” Uh-uh. Not gonna work.

          • John Fontain

            Ok, you’re on to me Josh S. I am really an anti-cyclist who harbors great hostility to those who ride bikes. I tried to pretend I wasn’t but your awesome sluething figured it out.

          • Cray Cray Shopper

            The burden of proof is clearly on Josh S. in this situation. Josh S., how will you work more ellipses into your next comment response!??

          • Josh S

            Hey – I grew up on Herb Caen – whattya expect?

            Oh, wait, none of you people know who Herb Caen was. Oh well.

            Ellipses are your friend…..

    • Josh S

      My, you don’t get out very much, do you?

      • Elmer

        Herb Caen? I preferred Soupy Sales.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      speed control street elements = side street parking

      • Elmer

        urban agriculture = backyard vegetable garden

  • John Fontain

    This new bollard controversy is pretty funny. It’s eerily similar to the ‘controversy’ that arose last week over the Fojol Bros. food trucks in that no one has a problem for years and years and then one day when someone says “i declare this is a problem” and then a bunch of people react and say “oh, yeah, this is a problem!!!”

    • CW

      Ask my co-workers: I declared the Fojol Bros.’ schtick to be potentially offensive to about 1/6 of the world’s population roughly two years ago.

      • John Fontain

        What’s really funny is that many of the people claiming ‘controversy’ are alleging that one of the guys paints his face brown and, thus, is racist. The reality is that the guy is legitimately brown skinned (not sure where he is from).

        • CW

          Yeah, I’m not exactly very worked up about the whole thing, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that somebody could be rubbed the wrong way by their over-the-top gag.

        • Spectator

          What about the brown skinned comic that paints his face white?

          It is just as racist…

    • cylist

      Bollards and Fojol Brothers were always controversial. It’s just that you have now just learned about them. And now you’re assuming that because you didn’t know about something, it didn’t exist. One of the first things babies learn is “object permanence” — that things exist even when we don’t see them.

      • John Fontain

        cylist said: “you have now just learned about them.”

        You are funny!

        • cyclist

          😉 Let’s pretend you have been closely watching the bollard situation for years, John.

        • Josh S

          Also, the part where this whole post is about *new* bollards – not ones that have been around for years…..

      • What??

        “One of the first things babies learn is “object permanence” — that things exist even when we don’t see them.”

        So you are saying that the bicyclist who hit the bollard on Roosevelt Island is dumber than a baby?

        “Going down a hill, in slippery conditions or heavy trail traffic, is also a problem. . . It’s like any pole sticking up in the middle of a road – it’s gonna be a problem for someone.”

        So in other words, if you bike defensively and don’t go too fast for conditions or if you are unfamiliar with the trail, you should be okay. That’s the way I always bike – whether on the road or on the trail. Doing anything else is just asking for trouble. One of the key things I was taught 30 years ago in driver’s ed was ‘always leave yourself an out’ – meaning don’t ever get caught in a situation where crashing is the only option. Good advice for bikers, too.

        • cyclist

          So an accident is always someone’s fault and therefore the government should never try to make conditions safe, because why should they since the drivers/cyclist is responsible for operating the vehicle safe for conditions, right? Potholes, branches, road kill, blind curves, narrow lanes, ice, warning signs, speed limits – why bother worrying all that?

          • What??

            Never said anything about fault – that’s why they are called accidents. Instead of the bollard that the unfortunate Roosevelt Island cyclist hit – what if a dog had run in front of him instead of him plowing into the bollard? (that happened to me last summer, but seeing how I was riding on a trail and already watching out for other people, I was able to swerve and stop without any problem to me or the off-leash dog).

            “Potholes, branches, road kill, blind curves, narrow lanes, ice, warning signs, speed limits” – those are all things that are avoidable 100% of the time if the cyclist is under control and aware of conditions and his environment. The *only* time I ever had a bike “accident” was when I was 8 years old – I was going too fast, skidded on some gravel and plowed head-first into a parked car, knocking out four teeth. Nobody’s fault but mine, but I have never made a similar mistake. But expecting the government to do or not do something to take care of every single eventuality is ludicrous.

            I rarely even bother to bike in this area anymore because of the sheer number of trail users around here. I’d much rather put the bike into the car and drive out to Dulles and then ride to Purcellville.

          • cyclist

            I was a little harsh in my response – John Fontain will do that to ya – but yeah, you were discussing blame too, by saying that as long as you bike defensively you’ll be okay. No, that’s not always true. As you said, accidents happen. Even when you take every precaution, they happen. The only way to be 100% “defensive” and 100% sure you won’t get in an accident is to never get on your bike.

            I never said the government should take care of every single eventuality. But it should take care of some eventualities, and you agree with that. Everyone does. All this arguing from absolutes is unproductive.

            So we’re back to the idea that when a big pole in the middle of a trail isn’t really necessary (and most are, but maybe a few aren’t) it should be removed.

            That shouldn’t be the least bit controversial.

          • What??

            Thanks – agreed. Now on to the testicles posts. . .

  • Debs

    Yes, Bollards are necessary. I have seen people drive onto the trail at Bluemont park to get to the picnic areas…unwilling to park and walk. Others have actually BLOCKED the trail with a car! Parked over where the bollard should have been. I agree with their use. I also agree people, all people, need to be aware. Top of my list are Little kids on bikes and skooters and the folks who feel they own the trail…all are a danger to each other and the rest of the trail using public.

    • SoArl

      Whoa there… My 5yo rides her bike on a bike trail all the time and knows to stay to her right. She pays more attention to what’s going on around her than a lot of adults I see.

      • WeiQiang

        The bollards aren’t for her.

        • SoArl

          I guess they are for people like Debs who are going so fast that a kid on a bike presents an extreme danger.

          • WeiQiang

            Personally, I think there might be some locations where the bollards are warranted. Mostly, i think the danger posed by the odd errant vehicle isn’t going to reduce risk very much.

            I was coming out the Harris Teeter near Potomac Yards wanting to make a left turn on to the NEW Potomac Avenue and, before I got to Potomac Ave, a 5-Series pulled out from the bike trail, having just come across 4 Mile Run northbound on the bike trail.

          • SoArl

            Hahaha- seriously? Actually, I did see someone trying to drive their SUV on a trail near the four mile run dog park. I’m surprised they didn’t slip down the embankment.

  • John Fontain

    How long till boaters realize the vast dangers that lie in the bollard in the middle of today’s picture and erupt in protest over the dangers involved and demand it’s removal?

    • cyclist

      When that doesn’t happen, will you admit you were wrong and apologize for such a loony idea? No.

      • Lou

        Very testy today.

        • Josh S

          What, are you John’s wingman?

        • cyclist

          No, I’m not testy, John is.

          • SomeGuy

            John Fontain frequently takes an antagonist attitude toward the cycling community. Attempts to change that are futile.

          • cyclist

            Then I’ll just get off his lawn I guess.

          • John Fontain

            As a bike rider, don’t I have the right to speak about others who RBD (ride bikes dumbly)?

          • SomeGuy

            I wouldn’t dare deny you that right, John. I’m merely pointing out your pattern of disdain for people who RBD (ride bikes differently) from you.

  • John Fontain

    In Steve Offutt’s statement to the county he says: “They represent a significant hazard to trail users, and can cause severe injury.”

    I like how Mr. Offutt words his statement to make the cyclist the passive party and the bollard the active party. In his eyes, its the non-moving bollard that is responsible for the crash, not the moving cyclist. The bollard causes the injury and the cyclist plays no part, aside from being a victim.

    How does a bollard cause injury? Does it stick out its arm and clothesline you when you aren’t looking?

    • Josh S

      The same way that snow causes an injury to your neighbor when you fail to remove it from the sidewalk in front of your house.

      At least in the snow example you can claim that it was Mother Nature that put it there in the first place. But the bollards were put there by the county, perhaps in a way that wasn’t well-thought out and apparently not in compliance with federal guidelines on when and where to place bollards on trails.

      Your entire argument seems to rest on the idea that these bollards are somehow part of the natural environment and so therefore must be accepted and dealt with. I’m going to guess that if the county decided to move the stopsigns near your house into the middle of the road, you would object and clamor for their removal. You would say that the county was negligent and not carrying out their duties in an intelligent way. It seems to me that those who object to these new bollards are saying something very, very similar.

      • John Fontain

        “Your entire argument seems to rest on the idea that these bollards are somehow part of the natural environment and so therefore must be accepted and dealt with.”

        Nope, never said anything about them being natural or part of the environment. I’ve rode by many and haven’t hit one yet. But if I ever do, I’ll be sure to blame it on the inanimate object rather than take personal responsibility for my single bike accident.

        • cyclist

          This isn’t about “blame” John, it’s just about safety. Are you a lawyer or something?

        • CW

          Let’s not just have argument for the sake of argument (giggle). There are clearly shades of gray. There are places where bollards are useful – e.g. spots on the trail where vehicles may indeed be likely to come through. There are also places where bollards are needlessly dangerous – like at the bottom of slippery, steep blind curves. Intelligent cycling will held to avoid accidents due to carelessness. However, the powers that be would also be doing well to avoid placing unwarranted obstacles into already busy thoroughfares.

          Is everybody happy now?

  • ArlingtonWay

    This thread has done very little for those hoping to dispel the notion that many cyclists are effete whiners. Oooh! The mean bollards are going to jump out and hit meeeee! I can see them in the goofy dental mirror I have strapped to my silly little helmet!!! Good grief. No testicals on THIS thread!

    • John Fontain

      That about sums it up. I honestly can’t believe the many effete cyclists have no idea how they sound on this issue.

  • Steve O

    Traffic engineers do not place telephone poles in the middle of streets as traffic calming devices. After all, anyone driving under control and paying attention should never run into it, so why not? In fact, if they do, let’s blame them for inattention or carelessness. And if they are hurt or die. . .well, they deserve it, I guess. Bollards are not intended as, nor should ever be used as, traffic calming devices. Their sole purpose is to deter unauthorized vehicles from entering the trail.

    Any type of crash: bike, car, in-line skate, what-have-you, is generally due to a confluence of several factors. A lone cyclist on a trail will not crash into a bollard. In fact, it’s unlikely to slow her down, since there’s usually plenty of room to go past it. The locations where people tend to complain about fast moving cyclists are rarely anywhere near bollard locations anyway, so there’s little argument to be made there.

    On a personal note, both of my children, when younger, struck bollards and fell down. Neither was hurt, but in neither case was the bollard serving any useful purpose. So if they had been hurt, what would the point of that have been?

    Ever had a bug attack you while driving or riding? Usually some sort of swatting and swerving occurs. 99+ times out of 100 we correct our course and all is well. But if that telephone pole were in the middle of the road (or an unluckily placed bollard were in the trail) then something bad might happen. Bollards can be obscured by other cyclists or peds. A sudden move by another user: dog, child, whatever, can cause a safely traveling cyclist to have to maneuver suddenly. 99+ times out of 100 all works out well. Add an additional hazard like a bollard to the mix and the odds of something bad happening go up.

    No, a bollard all by itself is unlikely to be a danger. The problem is that once in a while the odds will conspire to add several hazards together (as the debris on the trail did to the cyclist on the TR bridge; no bollard there, and the cyclist ends up with scrapes rather than a trip to the hospital with a serious head injury).

    Next time you cross the Key Bridge note that there are these giant padded barrels at the entrance to the Whitehurst x-way. No safely traveling driver would ever run into those, yet we put them there to help protect them anyway. Why? Shouldn’t we just blame the driver who plows into the concrete abutment for traveling too fast on the ice or for not making sure their brakes didn’t fail at the wrong time or that they didn’t drive in the lane next to the speeding drunk driver who forced them over?

    It is absolutely true that we cannot remove every risk from everything. However, that does not mean we should add unnecessary risks for no good reason–like telephone poles in the middle of roads. The FHWA guidance says that bollards should only be installed where there is documented history of incursions. That would be untrue for all but a few bollards in the County.

    Two decades ago the W&OD trail removed every bollard from the entire 45-mile length of the trail, because they decided that the occasional trail incursion (which does happen now and again) posed a much lesser risk to the trail users than the bollards did. They do not regret that decision. We could learn from them.

    • WeiQiang

      Last paragraph = my point zackly

    • John Fontain

      So to summarize: Bollards by themselves are unlikely to be a danger. But in very rare cases other things get in the way around bollards and could cause an issue. And even though the odds of a problem are extremely low, we should remove the bollards regardless of the low risk of injury.

      • Steve O

        Correct. About 1/2 million users use parts of the Custis Trail and it’s increasing. If the risk of these events is .001%, then that’s 5/year. If they serve no useful purpose, or prevent 1 car from entering the trail, then it makes sense to not injure those 5 people. That is the calculus used by the W&OD, which sees 3 million users per year. Low risk events become more common with large numbers.

        Talk to cyclists and you will find a reasonable percentage will have a story to tell about a bollard crash or a close call or a friend or relative. These stories are not uncommon. And most of the people you talk to will not be the crazy-ass cyclists you think they are.

        FHWA provides guidance, which is publicly available to the County. If the County ignores that guidance and someone is hurt by what a judge rules is an “unjustified” bollard (FHWA’s language), then they could sue.
        If I were the cyclist injured by the bollard by the TR bridge, I might consider this, since that bollard seems to be unjustified according to FHWA language.

      • cyclist

        You’re almost there, John. A little less self-serving.

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