Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Another Thing you Can't do in DTSS: Weekend Biking

Add riding your bike down Ellsworth on weekends to the list of acts prohibited by Downtown Silver Spring security guards. While I don't know if this is a new rule, it is but another item on the ever-growing list of verboten activities that already includes taking photos, breastfeeding and skateboarding.*  Hustling candy and harassing passersby outside the Majestic are still ok, though I do seem to hear fewer complaints about the latter.

Reader LW shared her experiences when attempting to pass through DTSS on her bicycle:

I regularly bike commute from Silver Spring to Bethesda, and back, and often on the weekends like to ride in Rock Creek Park. On my commute I ride up and down Ellsworth, and there is never a problem, the street is open to cars and no one says anything to me. Twice I've finished a ride on a weekend and come back from Rock Creek and taken the "short cut" down Ellsworth, (instead of riding on Wayne) both times I was stopped by a security guard. The first time was in the area of Starbucks, and the guy walked right in front of me, and I stopped, not understanding why he did that. He told me that when the street is closed to traffic you can't ride your bike down it, you must walk the bike.
I am admittedly unfamiliar with the particulars of county laws governing the use of bicycles on public streets temporarily closed to vehicular traffic, nor do I know if DTSS security has the authority to enforce these laws. However, it seems to me Ellsworth should be adequately wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and bikers at most times. It's not as if someone was trying to ride a bike through City Place. (Hahahahah, as if there was any chance of running into a pedestrian in City Place!) No one really seems to understand the ambiguous legal status of the semi-privatized Ellsworth Drive, but there's the distinct possibility this might be a case of DTSS security imposing an arbitrary rule on a taxpayer-funded thoroughfare.

Interestingly, the "Silver Spring is Bike Friendly" flyer (PDF) put out by the county displays a photo of a biker on Ellsworth, though they are not actually in the act of riding.

The same flyer also declares that "Silver Sprung" is "Fun for Cyclists and Pedestrians Year Round", though maybe that excludes Ellsworth on particular days of the week.

While we're on the subjects of biking, for those who haven't seen this before, Silver Spring once held had the honor of being the home of "America's stupidest bike lane", located just blocks from Ellsworth. (The Silver Spring part of the video starts at about 2:30.)

* Remember back when the lack of a big skatepark was the issue du jour in Silver Spring? It looks like that movement has petered out. Both its blog and Facebook page have had essentially zero activity in the last two years. We miss you Skatermom!

And here's our existing way-over-capacity skatepark, blowing up on a recent weekend afternoon:


Anonymous said...

OK this is just silly. Are there not enough actual crimes being committed to keep the security guards busy, and don't some of them have bikes? I'm all for outlawing cars on Ellsworth at all times, but bikes? It just seems pointless.

dan reed! said...

What a ridiculous policy. The farmers' market on Ellsworth can be pretty crowded on the weekends, making difficult to even walk, but there's plenty of room for bicyclists the rest of the time.

As for the Woodside skate spot: it was in the 90's last weekend. I imagine that it's probably a lot busier in the evenings when it gets cooler. There are still plenty of skaters in Silver Spring.

Tara said...

[insert gratuitous comment about scofflaw cyclists.]

I agree that there is ample room for both cyclists and pedestrians on Ellsworth on the weekends when it's closed for vehicular traffic (though if the farmer's market is going on, I can see that there might be a logistical preference for cyclists to dismount and walk their bike.)

The reasonable solution might have been "Cyclists Yield to Pedestrians" or "Caution: Pedestrian" warning signs that would make it clear that cyclists should slow down and pedestrians take priority. Of course, it's not as if anyone is asking for a reasonable compromise.

Anonymous said...

GOOD! Cyclists need to get off the F'in road. Until they learn to obey traffic laws stay off the road!

Anonymous said...

Wow, it took all the way till comment 4 for someone to make the generic "I'm a grouchy old man who doesn't like these kids with their non-car transportation!" comment.

I really doubt Peterson Co. can force bikers to dismount if they're staying in the road, even if they're allowed to close the road to vehicular traffic.

Anonymous said...

yes because asking cyclists to obey the law is something only grouchy old men say....get real. your probably one of those people that plows right through a stop sign on your bike. one of these days a car in gonna smack right in to you and it will be 100% your fault

Anonymous said...

Nah -- can't have it both ways.

Bikes are vehicles, and should obey the same laws as cars. You can't say "we have equal rights to roads, just like cars", then turn around and say "but we're just like pedestrians, too!"

Mixing bikes and pedestrians in a non-directional environment (not a mixed-use path, in other words) is a recipe for disaster. Pedestrians aren't aware of bikes in that environment, and won't act "safely".

I most often side with the cyclists (I am one, after all), but in this case, walk your bike. It's only a block.

Anonymous said...

I think by law bikes are required to obey the same traffic laws as other vehicles such as automobiles(not that most do obey)? It would then follow that a road closed to vehicular traffic would include bikes?

Anonymous said...

I don't see what the problem is. There are a ton of pedestrians walking down the street when its closed to traffic and people should walk their bike. I equate it to the idiots that ride their bike on a crowded sidewalk. Either walk it, or ride on the street and follow the same traffic laws as automobiles. In this instance, I agree with the security guards (gulp).

Anonymous said...

A bike IS A VEHICLE. Of course you cant ride it on Ellsworth when it IS CLOSED TO VEHICULAR TRAFFIC! Yes cars and bikes should share the road. When Ellsworth is closed to cars it is closed to all vehicles. Get a clue bikewads.

Anonymous said...

Posting again. The LAW in Montgomery County is that bikes can ride on sidewalks. So BY THE LAW when Ellsworth is closed I can ride on the sidewalk WHERE SAFE (Again as per the LAW).

Anonymous said...

One more thing Bikewads, yes you are operating a vehicle. You don't have the right to drive your vehicle on the sidewalk and you certainly don't have the right to ring little bells or horns at pedestrians on the side walk to get out of YOUR way.

Anonymous said...

And to all the bike haters...Do you come to a complete stop at all stop signs? Do you STOP before your right on red? Do you obey the speed limit on EVERY STREET?

If not then you have no right to yell at riders. I do roll through stop signs sometimes. But I always signal my turns. I keep as far right as safe. If you open your eyes to see more than the hood of your car you will see that the MAJORITY of riders are GENERALLY safe and sane.

Anonymous said...

Hey motodick (something counter to bikewad, i gess) anon 5:41. READ THE LAW.

Anonymous said...

"One more thing Bikewads, yes you are operating a vehicle. You don't have the right to drive your vehicle on the sidewalk"

Wow, a complete ass and completely ignorant of the law. Kudos, you've hit the jackpot. P.S. I haven't ridden a bike in 20 years, but I'm, you know, educated and not a dick. Try it sometime.

Justafed said...

Okay, so I am a full-time, 12-months a year bicycle commuter, and you can argue all you like about the nuances of the traffic regulations and who can ride when on the sidewalk, but common sense really does tell me that "closed to vehicular traffic" includes me as a vehicle when riding a bike just as much as "drivers must yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk" includes me as a pedestrian when I am walking my bike. And, of course, "bicycles yield to pedestrians" means exactly that no matter how moronic the pedestrian is acting.

Now, interestingly enough, I actually do gain for all of this yielding when I need to yield but taking the right of way when it is mine. Because I am a regular commuter and generally keep the same route and hours, the other people who commute at the same time (99.5% of whom are driving cars) know what I am going to do and...amazingly enough, treat me with respect the vast majority of the time. It took a long time, and arguably way too long, but you really can get the respect of motorists even here in MoCo if you are recognized as not acting like a total tool.

AOA said...

That's pretty ridiculous. And are they picking and choosing - because I've see people biking through a recently as this past weekend when I saw someone riding one of those bikes towing a couple kids attached behind and I didn't see anyone stop them and it was during the Farmer's Market. And it didn't disturb or bother anyone.

If we want to be a bike city then we need some bike lanes! We need to also widen the sidewalks in the neighborhoods (especially in Woodside) since often bikers ride on the sidewalks and the pedestrians have to move out of the way. It's pretty silly.

In regards to skate park - I live right near there and I run/walk past it often and it is generally pretty busy. Weekends and evenings right after work are busiest alongside the basketball court. It's great to see everyone out and about!

WashingtonGardener said...

Most farmers markets throughout the DC area that I shop and/pr vend at have a dismount your bike or park it rule. Just common sense, not to mention common courtesy. Everyone is distracted eyeing the tomatoes and juggling bags of purchases.

Sligo said...

During the farmers market or other events, it makes sense, yes, but most times the street is pretty open. Most people still tend to use the sidewalk, even if the street is closed to cars.

Anonymous said...

Lets just say ride your bike through Ellsworth at your own risk....if I see you on a bike I am going to knock you off with a shoe.

And Btw, yes there are a LOT of crappy drivers out there who don't obey the laws. Bikers....we have enough trouble with crappy drivers on the road, we don't need you on the road making it worse.

Anonymous said...

All we need now is for someone to blame pedestrians for all of Silver Springs problems. . .

Anonymous said...

it is kind of odd that bikers want it both ways and the laws cater to that.

Either you're a vehicle or not.

Anonymous said...

"it is kind of odd that bikers want it both ways"

What do you mean? Being allowed to ride both in the street and ride on the sidewalk? I don't find that odd. Not all streets and not all sidewalks are created equal, hence the obvious need for leeway.

Anonymous said...

anonymouse 1022.....by that logic i should be able to drive my car on the sidewalk....idiot

Anonymous said...

"anonymouse 1022.....by that logic i should be able to drive my car on the sidewalk....idiot"

Yep. By your logic, the logic of the previous comment totally proves cars should be able to drive on the sidewalk. Or it doesn't and you have the cognitive ability of a 8 year old. I wonder which it is.

Anonymous said...

Bikes are legally required to follow the same laws as other vehicles. That includes stop signs, signalling, and not driving on closed roads. Bikers in this area are horrible and never do these things, so I'm cool with making them walk there bikes in areas zoned for pedestrian traffic. If I'm crossing the street and I see a car or bike headed towards me I'm much more confident that the car will stop or at least make an attempt to not hit me.

Anonymous said...

"Yep. By your logic, the logic of the previous comment totally proves cars should be able to drive on the sidewalk. Or it doesn't and you have the cognitive ability of a 8 year old. I wonder which it is."

Simpleton.....it means if bikes think they can treat the roads like they treat the sidewalks, then by that logic cars should be able to treat the sidewalks like they treat the roads....i know i may have to slow it down for some of the mentally-impaired and for that I apologize for not making it simple enough for a chimp to understand.

Anonymous said...

"it means if bikes think they can treat the roads like they treat the sidewalks, then by that logic cars should be able to treat the sidewalks like they treat the roads"

LOL. Uh, no, bikes being able to ride on both roads and sidewalks doesn't mean cars should also be able to drive on both roads and sidewalks. Thank you for the solid laugh, though.

Anonymous said...

""it means if bikes think they can treat the roads like they treat the sidewalks, then by that logic cars should be able to treat the sidewalks like they treat the roads"

LOL. Uh, no, bikes being able to ride on both roads and sidewalks doesn't mean cars should also be able to drive on both roads and sidewalks. Thank you for the solid laugh, though."

Either you are incredibly stupid or have no concept of sarcasm.....but im going to go with option 1. No Shit cars shouldnt drive on the sidewalk!

Anonymous said...

I hear that in Bethesda everyone follows traffic laws.

Anonymous said...

Then what in god's name is your point, steve (please tell me there are two low IQ people out there insulting everyone they come across...)? We get it, you don't like bikers. Move on and grow up.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine recently got in an accident with a car while riding a bicycle. His fault and you guess who in the battle of bike versus car. He got a ticket and, also, has to pay for damages to the car. It will, also, have consequences on his car insurance.

Things he learned when talking with the police officer. When you are a bike rider on the road you need to have a valid driver license. When you are on a bike on the road you are subjct to all laws of the road (in Virginia you can go through red lights after coming to a stop.) You can ride your bike legally on sidewalks, but you are now treated as a pedestrian. And with that last thought it would seem security guards would have no right to stop a bicyclist for riding his bike through a pedestrian area.

Anonymous said...

some pretty entitled angry comments from bicycle people. wow

Mr. Wang said...

Who are these bicycle people? And why can't they be more like us the car people? And what about that strange crowd the ride metro pedestrian people?

Ian Brett Cooper said...

If the street is indeed closed to 'vehicular traffic' by a local ordinance, then it's by definition closed to cyclists as well, as bicycles are considered to be vehicles under MD law. However, more commonly, these types of laws close streets to 'motor vehicles', which of course does not include bicycles.

Also, these people are security guards and no more entitled to stop people using a public right of way than anyone else.

Ian Brett Cooper said...

"Things he learned when talking with the police officer. When you are a bike rider on the road you need to have a valid driver license..."

This is nonsense! A cyclist does not need a driver's license in Montgomery County or anywhere else. However, it's a little-known fact that Montgomery County cyclists are required to have a bicycle license for each bicycle they own. Also, the law allows cyclists to use the sidewalk in Montgomery County only - in the rest of Maryland, cycling on the sidewalk is prohibited by law. By the way, sidewalk cycling has been shown in many studies to be between 2 and 12 times more dangerous than riding in the road, so I urge cyclists not to do it.

Ian Brett Cooper said...

By the way, the 'Stupidest Bike Lane in the US' is still there on Cedar Street. It's not quite as stupid as it used to be, but it is still quite dangerous, as it still invites cyclists to cycle the wrong way on a one-way street, and throughout all of its length it's in the door zone of parked cars. Cyclists are well advised to avoid it and take advantage of Montgomery County's statute allowing cyclists to use the sidewalk on that part of Cedar Street - sure, as I said before, sidewalk-riding is dangerous, but not as dangerous as that bike path.

Anonymous said...

This is an unnecessary whine--and I'm not a "bike hater." Walk your bike down Ellsworth when every other individual on Ellsworth except those in a stroller are walking and it's closed to vehicles.

Joe Davidson said...

It's not a new rule. I got stopped and had to walk my bike about a year ago.

Anonymous said...

This thread may be evidence that SS has finally made it. People arguing over whether they should be able to bike down a closed 2 block pedestrian way, on weekends, past Starbucks, especially during the farmer's market? Talk about white people problems.

Learn Every Day said...

As obnoxious as "Mr. Bikewad" is, I tend to agree with him about a bike being a vehicle. Of course, the sidewalk rule is valid, too, but there is more to it than that. Ellsworth Drive between Georgia and Fenton is not a public street. Technically the county "abandoned" it as a public street as part of the development effort. It is a private area, part of the development, and I guess they can enforce whatever they want on their own private property, even if it is there for the public to use! http://www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/meetings_archive/06_meeting_archive/agenda_071306/Item_2_07-13-06partB_opt-2.pdf

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