Friday, April 15, 2016

Washington Post Magazine: Wheel of the people: A transportation planner talks bikers’ rights

 Writer and editor  
Jim Sebastian, 50, is a transportation planner and manager of the District’s active transportation branch, which runs Capital Bikeshare and is responsible for trails, bike lanes and pedestrian planning. He lives with his wife and two children in Takoma Park, Md.
You bike to work every day, right?
Not every day. But most days I bike for at least part of it. So I’ll Metro and then bike from NoMa down to Navy Yard on a Bikeshare bike.
Do you stop at all stop signs?
Of course.
When you’re driving a car, have you ever yelled or shook your fist at a bicyclist?
No, I haven’t yelled at them, but I have taken into account the kind of frustration some drivers might feel behind a cyclist. But, of course, my position is that I respect their right to be on the road and try to give them as much space as possible.
Should bicyclists be required to have licenses?
No, I think that would really cut down on the convenience of bicycling. I don’t really think it makes sense and would be a tremendous burden for the government to try and license all riders. What we prefer is to establish policies and enforcement to try and make it safer for everyone.
Would you support a one-day event where people can only walk or bike or take public transportation?
That would be nice, but it might be a bit of a challenge. What we saw on theMetro closure day is that on very short notice a lot of people found other ways to get to work, and that was exciting. We offered a free day membership on Bikeshare, and we had a lot of people try it for the first time. We had 149 people join or renew that day.
So you just need a couple more Metro shutdowns?
[Laughs.] I’m not going to go that far. That was quite a burden. But it did make people think about other ways to get around.
What’s the lifespan of Bikeshare bikes?
Most of the bikes that we launched back in 2010 are still on the road. The vast majority. Having said that, they do receive a lot of maintenance. The frame might be the same, but a lot of the components have been replaced.
What do bike riders need to do to be better mobile citizens in D.C.?
In short, we need bicyclists and motorists and pedestrians to follow the rules. They’re pretty straightforward. And when they’re not following them they’re putting themselves and others at risk. We do fund with the Bike Association, a lot of training. We have a course called Confident City Cycling that helps you learn how to ride and how to follow the rules. So there is some training and a big outreach campaign called Street Smart, so that pedestrians and bikers and motorists look out for each other.
What mode of transportation in D.C. should we get rid of? And you can’t say the streetcar.
You’re not going to get me to answer that question, Joe. It’s just the opposite. It’s which modes are we going to introduce and what variations are we going to introduce to make us even more mobile. If we have options and backup options and connections, that’s what makes the city not only more sustainable and more convenient and cheaper but, frankly, more fun.
Can we get rid of Segways?
[Laughs.] I’m not taking the bait.


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