Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bike Friendly Office Parks, Helmets Deter Cycling, and Vision Zero Needs Some Help.

DC has rolled out Vision Zero.  I am in favor of this.  #VisionZero is the plan conceived in Sweden which attempts to eliminate traffic-related deaths.  I assume this is possible by slowing traffic and creating segregated bike lanes.  But how can it be achieved unless the city is fitted with a dumb-o-meter at its borders?  Something like a magnetometer that would detect half-wits and make them turn around before they enter the streets.  Or perhaps a technology that caused cellular phones to zap the people texting on them?

When I think of Tyson's Corner, Virginia, that slice of cement between Vienna and McLean, I think of shopping in predictable stores for overpriced goods made mostly in China.  I think of terrible traffic and aggressive drivers.   Sometimes I think of . . . no, I shudder at the thought of the occasional kitchen worker on a Huffy clinging to the shoulder of Route 123, just hoping his extended family in El Union will be fine if he gets creamed by the pinched-looking gal in the Mercedes.  My opinion changed a little when I saw the Silver Line flying above Route 7.  But bike lanes?  In Tyson's Corner?  That's like spotting a flying saucer landing on the lawn of the White House.  And yet, #bikelanes are planned for Tyson's.

When I think of H Street, I think of a lot of things.  Creative food.  Street robberies.  And, yes, #bikes.  Now developers are applying for a proposed condo building to be exempt from DC's parking requirements.  Developers will have to pitch some alternative transit modes.  The streetcars would be such an alternative, if the project can ever get going.  Walking three blocks to Union Station would be another.  #Cycling would clearly be a great mode that might set a precedent for other developers.  Could this signal a change in thinking?

The latest bikes and accessories were featured this week in Copenhagen.  And again the focus is increasingly on the less serious cyclist.  Need a bike equipped to carry wine?  One with a sidecar for you mother-in-law?  One for the wine you may want after your sidecar ride with your mother-in-law?  How about a $4 shopping bag in chartreuse to attached to your rear rack?  The show featured cycles for people who live in the city, don't race, and don't think the racers are being candid when they claim they don't juice.  In fact, the numbers of people who buy transit bikes and accessories are growing and business is reacting.

#BicycleHelmets.  Could they contribute to people cycling less?  Well a study in Sweden concludes they result in few children cycling.  Bad news since that is when most people learn to ride and love a bike.  And the mandating of helmets may not help Vision Zero, unless it does so by reducing the number of people using a bike.  Less people on the roads might result in less deaths.  But that wasn't how it was supposed to work.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, even if that bike lane is in Tyson's Corner, of all improbable places, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

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