Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Cycling Deja Vu

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Cycling Deja Vu

I read with interest, along with a bit of frustration, Mr. Townsend Van Fleet's letter from last week "Cycling Through Stop Signs." He chronicled the same things I witnessed almost exactly 3 years ago when I sent a similar letter to the editor titled "Cycling Anarchy." Cyclists speeding through stop signs in Old Town, the yelling of obscenities or rude gestures by cyclists if anyone dares to call them on it, pedestrians being almost hit, it was all unfortunately very familiar. My initial letter in August of 2014 touched off a volley of additional letters weighing in on the issue. Over several months many people wrote letters describing their own experiences with dangerous cyclists, while cycling defenders attacked pedestrians and blamed drivers or road design.

The issue was somewhat addressed in October of 2014 when several cycling organizations weighed in. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association set up camp on Union Street during the evening commute to encourage cyclists to obey the laws. Later the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee did their own study. The Advisory Committee's own observations of the cyclists were "When you observe these things first hand, you say this just isn't right, we're not happy with the behavior that we see." Over a year later, in September 2015, there was finally a public hearing on the topic where the city offered plans to help resolve the cyclist and pedestrian concerns.

In the several years since, the city was going to take some actions and step up enforcement. There were supposed to be additional interventions and more safety and bicycle education advocacy programs. The city has since added dedicated bike lanes on King Street and made other traffic improvements. But as Mr. Van Fleet’s recent observations indicate, unfortunately it doesn't seem to have worked and not much has changed. From my own recent observations as well, many (if not most) cyclists still ignore most traffic laws, running red lights and blowing through stop signs.

I don't know what the solution is but as Mr. Van Fleet suggested, maybe finally ticketing bicyclists might work. All I know is that after three years, dozens of letters to the editors, numerous articles documenting the problem and public hearings, many cyclists still choose to ride recklessly and ignore traffic laws.

B. Marquis

Alexandria, VA