The League of American Bicyclists has bestowed the Bicycle Friendly City designation on Alexandria, Virginia. I find this interesting because a couple of years ago I was harassed by Alexandria City police for riding my bike through Old Town. In once instance, I had the temerity to roll through the intersection of Union and King Streets at about 4 miles per hour. No pedestrians or other traffic was within one-half block of me at the time. An APD officer stepped off the curb, ordered me to stop, and proceeded to lecture me about how I had broken the law. I stifled the urge to ask him when the last time he used the same tone with a similarly situated motorist.
About a week later I was riding along North Royal Street when I came to a four way stop. The car on my right was stopped and the driver was pondering his navel. An APD officer was stopped across from me – also not making any attempt to move into the intersection.. I came to a stop (a track stand) then, when no one else moved, I went through the intersection. The cop started yelling at me out her window, “Wait your turn!!!” I wanted to say “Um, I did, dummy. I am not obligated to wait until sundown for you all to get your automotive shit together.” Instead I kept riding.
I filed a complaint with the APD and they started an investigation. Despite the fact that there were only 2 female police officers on duty at the time, a positive identification of the rude and clueless officer could not be made. I bitched about this on the Internet and soon found myself in an email conversation with an APD officer. The officer (also a cyclist) told me that the APD is occasionally asked to educate cyclists when the residents of Old Town bitch about cyclists to the mayor. These are probably the same folks who complain about airplane noise, pollution from the nearby coal fired power plant, smells from the sewage treatment plant across the river, and all those damned tourists. Yes, they must not have seen the airport, the power plant, the sewage treatment plant, and the hoards of tourists when they bought their million dollar townhouses. 0They probably also didn’t know that the river floods twice a year. Poor Old Town residents. How did they become so wealthy with such small brains?
The residents of North Union Street – which coincides with the Mount Vernon Trail – have a parking problem too. Those damned tourists sometimes block their driveway with their parked cars. So the solution is to block your driveway with your car so that it sticks out into the street. The street immediately in front of their homes has a bike lane marked on it. So I get to deal with this on a regular basis:
What you can’t see is that this ass hat has also blocked the sidewalk. You can see in the background his neighbor is doing the same thing. How often do these folks get a parking ticket? Wanna bet when hell freezes over? So what I want to know is how often these upstanding citizens call the mayor’s office to bitch about cyclist?.
I propose that the League of American Bicyclists rescind Alexandria’s Bicycle Friendly Community status until these folks demonstrate some respect for bicyclists and pedestrians.