The League of American Bicyclists of which I am a member has named Alexandria Virginia a sliver level bicycle friendly city. About once a week, I see an example of how far Alexandria has to go to move up to gold status. I occasionally see evidence that they should be considered for demotion to bronze level status.
This week, Alexandria police have beefed up their enforcement of stop signs and red lights for bicyclists. This happens once or twice a year. One might think that this is intended to bring an end to the bicycle related carnage on the streets of the Port City. One would be wrong. So far as I know there hasn’t been an increase in bicycle crashes in Alexandria. A few years ago I had an email exchange with an Alexandria cop who is also a cyclist. He explained that non-cycling residents of Old Town crab about cyclists all the time so the city throws them a bone once in a while by harassing cyclists. (One year they called it an educational campaign.)
Of course, cars that run red lights and stop signs actually DO cause harm but you won’t see the Porsches and BMW’s of Old Town pulled over in a targeted enforcement campaign. In all my time cycling through Old Town I have seen one car pulled over for a traffic infraction. Jack Webb, phone home.
I am not naive. I see traffic violations every day by both cyclists and cars. They piss me off equally. The traffic laws should be enforced equally.
The crabby residents of Old Town bitch about plane noise (the airport’s been there for over 60 years, get over it) and the tourists (they missed the memo about the Lees and Washingtons and such). On North Union Street they complain that outsiders park across their driveways. Their solution is to park their cars perpendicular to the curb and jutting out into the bike lane. Why they can’t park their cars parallel to the curb in front of their garages is beyond me. If they did, they could still show their disrespect for cyclists by standing in front of their homes and flipping us the bird.
For the record the BMW is parked like this several nights per week. It’s at 420 North Union. The Porsche is at 406 North Union. When I told Alexandria police about this a few weeks ago, they said they were not aware of it. “I know nothing! Nothing!”
A note to the reader who searched tax records and sent me a comment with the homeowners’s names. I did not approve your comment because I do not know who owns the cars. I did send this blog to Alexandria’s finest via Twitter. I’ll let them sort out the particulars (I will be stunned if they lift a finger.)