Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cyclists: Crime Fighters?

Yes, motorists, I know. There are those cyclists who thread through traffic, endangering themselves and the rest of us. There are those who blow stop signs, rush up on pedestrians on the sidewalk without warning, and just act like jerks. (Just like the driver that cut you off, neglected to signal, or just about rear-ended you while checking their email for the zillionth time.)

But how about this: how about the cyclist as crime-buster?

Here's what made me think of it.

Tuesday, WTOP reported on the case of an attempted rape in Montgomery Village. According to police, a woman was followed, then accosted, then attacked by a man as she walked home. A passing cyclist heard her screams, followed the sound of the commotion, and scared off the assailant.

Back in October of last year, it was a cyclist that witnessed the aftermath of a fatal hit and run in Dupont Circle. That cyclist followed the car that struck 24 year old Kiela Ryan (no relation to this reporter) and got the license plates. That same cyclist followed up with police. The evidence in the case, including that critical bit of information, led to the conviction of the driver, 31 year old Jorida Davidson of Friendship Heights, on a charge of negligent homicide.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Bike-Riding-Singer-Songwriter-Cellists Do on Tour Down-Time

...Ben Sollee who spent some time at the Glass Enclosed Nerve Center @ WTOP last month, is in town. He's playing the second of two shows at Iota in Arlington tonight. He took a spin on the Capital Crescent Trail and tweeted about the experience.

I'm hoping he experienced local riders at their polite best. You know, the kind of folks who call out 'Passing on the left', ring the bell, double check for oncoming 'traffic' to make sure they can pass safely. A wave and a smile is nice too.

Do I sound like your mom? Maybe, but manners count. And can keep us all from going home on a gurney. I'm a huge fan of staying intact. So much more fun.

And now it's my turn to get out for a ride.

If you haven't already, check out Sollee's work here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Catching Up...

...because I am remiss. I mean, seriously, criminally remiss on the bike-blog front.

Ok, so some links.

I am intrigued by the Grist's Elly Blue's take on why more women don't ride. She argues that it's not, in her artfully put way, 'fear or fashion'. When I talk to working women--especially those with families--I hear one of Blue's arguments: it's time. I'm curious: what do you think?

Ladies, do you want to ride, but feel you need less testosterone along for the trip? City Bikes wants to bring you along...check out their Ladies Ride. Or you can check out the Ladies Night events at various Revolution Cycles locations. Bicycle Space  also has lots of events you might want to investigate.

These are not endorsements, honest. Does your shop have something going on the rest of the biking (and wanna-be-biking) world needs to know about? If it's a community-based event and not just a commercial, feel free to let me know.

Speaking of journalistic integrity, I'm also interested in the challenge of verifying a story that's posed by the "biking-while-in-a-skirt" account first reported by Streetsblog. Just because someone repeats her story to a number of people after the fact doesn't make it so. But just because she happens to be an ace-marketer doesn't make it not so. This is one for every newsroom to ponder.

And this from a friend who was hesitant about riding in some areas of DC at first. She e-mails me to say she's been riding to work--3 out of 5 days last week. I could hear how excited and proud she was right through cyberspace. Drivers, do her a favor and as the state highway signs in Maryland say "Please drive gently".

Now drivers, if you hate the idea of yet another cyclist on the road with you? Try to remember, as I do, that one more bike slowing your commute could be one more open parking space down the road.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

OK, this blog is supposed to be bike-centric. But not today.

Today it's about my Dad. The guy who, when I wrote him from Boston that I had stumbled into a volunteer gig writing radio news and decided this is what I wanted to do, fired off a letter to me saying "Some seek jobs in broadcast news; some follow a calling. I'm vain enough (and parent enough) to feel you and I are in the latter group...Welcome to the club!"

Somewhere I have the cassette of my 'coverage' of a Boston mayoral primary--and the live shot he did with me from the station where he was working at the time, WMCA-AM in NYC. I'm pretty sure I was awful. He was nothing but encouraging.

I got a chance to work alongside him and on my first day came home and said "Mom, he's so much easier to work with then he is to live with!" She just looked at me and said "I've been telling people that for years!"

My father gave me a lot of things. Among the things I treasure the most are a love of good stories, respect and compassion people who work hard, and an abiding love of animals.

My father could be remote, but he was also a sucker for critters. He was the one who kept bringing animals into the house; from a tiny tabby kitten found in a supermarket parking lot to the big galoot of a dog he brought home from an Elmsford, NY animal shelter. He got that last one on an assignment for WNBC-TV in New York. I would pull a similar stunt when I went to the Washington Humane Society on a story 19 years ago and came home with the most finicky, silly little cat I ever had.

I lost my Dad over a decade ago now. But I was lucky. Lucky to be able to get to know another side of my very complicated father and learn from him. Lucky enough to see all that I got from him--positive and negative---and come to terms with it. For that I am grateful.

Friday, June 17, 2011

PSC Hearings Case No 9240 Pepco

PSC PEPCO 616 filingsphoto 4

Inside the PSC hearing room in the Schaefer Building in downtown Baltimore. Photos taken during break.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MOCO to Rock the Red (Bikes)

The little red bikes that did (become popular in DC and NOVA) are coming to MOCO. In a pilot program announced by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, the Capital Bikeshare bikes that have caught on in DC and NOVA will be part of a pilot program involving Montgomery County and the City of Rockville.

Locations proposed so far include the Rockville and Shady Grove Metro stations, Montgomery College, and sites along Route 355/Rockville Pike.

When: "Next year" is as far as county officials can say right now.

How many: 200 bikes and 20 stations

The stated purpose of the bikesharing pilot is, among other things: "Whether bikesharing is feasible outside suburban centers outside a city setting."

Another aim of the program, funded under a federal grant, is to boost the commuting options of low-income workers. Benefits for those taking part under that category: free membership, bike helmets, and safety training.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Notes from a Ride: Cool Things That Happened

So after work, I have to get out and enjoy this heavenly weather. Warm, sunny, low-no humidity, perfect!
(Thanks, WTOP's Doug Hill! I'm pretty sure you ordered up this one for me, right?)

And I decide the Capital Crescent Trail is calling my name. Not long into the ride, well before Fletcher's Boathouse, I run into this obstacle:

Ok, I didn't run into it. That would leave a mark. Nope, I stopped as you can see, took a quick pic, and then, did what everyone else did, shrugged, hopped off the bike, and ducked underneath it. What I liked about this little episode was how people didn't get all worked up about how this was slowing down their ride, how they'd be late getting home/heading to work/finishing their workout. They wondered when it came down, commented on the ferocity of the weather, and in some cases, offered to help one another slip underneath it.

Second cool thing. As I came back to the same downed tree, another cyclist commented on how great the CCT is. He'd never taken it before, friends recommended it, and he loved how pretty it was. And as he pedaled off past one segment where a fence is covered with this lovely broad-leafed climbing plant, he reached out to let his hand brush the vine. It made me smile, because it was something a little kid would do. And it made me think: that's how biking should be. The way it was when you were a kid--you might run into the unexpected or you might see things that are so pretty you just reach out and touch them.

Third cool thing: Guy comes up on a bike, and well before he gets to my rear wheel calls out politely "On your left!" I thanked him very much, because so few people do that, and it's such a simple, smart courtesy. We both agreed it makes things much safer on the trail when you call out your position. Just in case. It gave me the same feeling as when you're driving and someone lets you in ahead of them. Nice.

Last cool thing. After the ride, I do some grocery shopping. I head to the store near Guy Mason Rec Center where it's softball night. I approach two people clearly heading off to play: a guy and a girl. The guy has a bat in his hand, and he's on the left. As I approach, I call out.."on your left", nothing. "On your left" and as I get closer I think, "If it were me, walking along with a bat, I might absently swing at the air as I carry maybe I need to give myself some room and call out again." As go wide to give myself some extra room, he indeed, takes the bat and starts to swing it--to his left--and the girl with him calls out to him "Hey!(his name) she announced!"

I just liked the way the girl said "Hey! She announced!" It cracked me up. Sounded like something you'd hear in a courtroom.
"Judge, you have to convict the guy with the baseball bat!"
"Hmmm..I don't know if we have enough evidence. You know how a cyclist can come up behind a pedestrian silently, there's no way the pedestrian would know they were there. How can you prove intent to harm? Did he know she was there?"
"Your Honor, with all due respect, she announced!"
"Well then, that's different! Five years in the slammer for you, mister! Next time when someone says 'On your left', you'd better watch out!"

Of course in this case, I had gone wide, the guy--not having heard me--was just at the start of a swing with that bat, and the girl--who clearly did hear me--got his attention and showed she "gets" the reason for someone to call our their position. It's safer for everyone.

Oh, and the ride was fabulous as was the spectacularly beautiful sunset. Happy trails.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Making Bike Parking Pretty

One apartment complex recently issued a note to its residents stating that people were securing their bikes to "anything that is stable throughout the property" and complaining that "all the bikes scattered throughout the property create a haphazard look".

Maybe they should provide bike parking and ask the Golden Triangle BID in downtown DC about ways to make it attractive. The BID asked employees at National Geographic to come up with designs, and they did. The theme: "Exploration". The designs they came up with: discs representing the air, water, the moon and the sun.

What do you think?

In the first photo: Patrick Truby, a design specialist with National Geographic who came up with some of the designs.

In the second photo: Leona Agouridis, Greg Meyer, Susan Norton and Alan Parente.

Thanks to Kristin Thompson at the BID who forwarded the photos taken by National Geographic's Laura Wallach.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's Going On...

One of the many events hosted by WABA, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association comes up this weekend.

WABA also features a nice list with a range of other bike-related events--charities, fund-raisers and just opportunities for people who like bikes to get together.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How Does the Guy in Charge of America's Transportation System Get to Work?

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is in charge of the agency that handles everything from trucking to airspace. So how does he get to work? WTOP caught up with him at 7am this morning at the foot of the Washington Monument to find out...

The Secretary posed for photos with his fellow bike commuters--his bike commute was announced on Friday and cyclists were invited to come along for the ride--and made a stop at the Capital Bikeshare warehouse in SE Washington before pulling into work at the office. 
Secretary LaHood is the 5th from the right in the black helmet (ready to roll) and white shirt.

Secretary LaHood (center) before the ride.
Getting set to ride

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Collision Ends in Assault...

...and the sense that a community is changing--and not for the better.

City Bikes CEO Deborah Harding contacted me after two of her staffers were hurt when...well, I'll let the pieces that aired over the weekend on WTOP do the talking.

Here's the second version:

Seersucker Social: What Yout Missed...

...if you weren't there for all things dandy. See the folks at Dandies and Quaintrelles who are working to create a community that's both fashionable and functional and new and old in Washington, DC.

And yes, I missed the D&Q springtime fest. Seriously, I'm sorry I missed it, but you see, I had to head to Ocean City.

No, not for the salt-water taffy, Thrashers or the after-hours karaoke*,  but for the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association awards. WTOP took home an impressive 14 awards. And yes, I'm going to list them here. These are my colleagues who work insane hours in extreme conditions to make sure you get news of the events in your community and beyond. I work with a great collection of people.

* I'll post those pics only after gettting the ok from my colleagues. They are work-safe and prove you can't get a broadcaster away from a microphone, even off the clock.

And the winners are...
  • Outstanding News Operation: WTOP-FM
  • Outstanding Website:
  • Outstanding Newscast: February 11, 2010 3pm
  • Outstanding Coverage of a Continuing Story: Snowmageddon
  • Outstanding Year Round Local Sports: WTOP Sports
  • Outstanding Public Affairs: "B is for Bully" (Kate Ryan)
  • Outstanding Editorial or Commentary: Mark Plotkin Commentary
  • Outstanding Specialty Reporting: Man About Town (Bob Madigan)
  • Outstanding Talkshow: WTOP's 'Ask The..." (Mark Segraves)
  • Outstanding Documentary/In-Depth Reporting: Concussions and Kids (Andrew Mollenbeck)
  • Outstanding Sports Feature: "New Mayor of Nats Town" (Michelle Basch)
  • Outstanding News Series: "Escaping the Iron Curtain" (JJ Green)
  • Outstanding Feature/Human Interest Story: "Theater of War" (Darci Marchese)
  • Best Reporter: Mark Segraves

Congratulations to my colleagues and peers, and thanks to the organizers at CAPBA

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fight Like a Girl...

...against breast cancer.
Today is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

It's about time.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Seersucker Social Regrets...

...not what it sounds like. I have no regrets about anything Seersucker-Social related.

This is just to say it's killing me that I will miss this event brought to you by the fine folks at Dandies and Quaintrelles* It's fun to cover--style and cycling collide (safely!) and a whole new generation of Washingtonians gets to see what our mothers were talking about when they talked about the difference between style and fashion.

Also, gotta love the revival of--gasp!--manners. These guys ask all cyclists to roll gently, follow the rules of the road, and give ground to the slower and more vulnerable rider/pedestrian. Can we start a Seersucker Social commute?

Take a look back to last year's Seersucker Social here.

* I can't say just exactly why I'll miss the Seersucker Social--not yet. You'll get a full report on that soon. It's good news though. 

So, How Important is That Cell Phone Call?

I'm in a business where making the deadline is critical.
But do I want to cause mahyhem while doing making my deadline? Of course not. Which is why the message offered by Jacy Good, a young woman who lost her parents on a day which should have been among the happiest in her young life, resonates.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Last Time at The Beach...

...I found this. I don't know how they knew I was coming, but it was nice to find this greeting.