16 February 2011

Good News! WMATA station managers are paying attention...

...to their cars.
(Not the car that was parked at the
New York Avenue station last night,
but it was there recently.)

That's the story I got last night at the New York Avenue Station. As is often the case, a car was parked in front of the bike racks there. It's a story I've brought up before. I saw a Metro Transit Police car parked outside of the station as well, so I thought I'd ask the officer if they knew what the rules were regarding vehicles parking on the sidewalk on WMATA property. The officer wasn't in the car, so I walked into the station and found him in the manager's kiosk.

I asked if anyone there knew who owned the car that was parked in front of the bike racks, and the manager-on-duty said it was hers. I began to explain to her that cars parking in front of the bike racks has the effect of shielding them from view of the public and makes it easier for criminals to steal the bikes. She cut in and asked if I was having a hard time removing my bike from the rack. I replied that I was not, but it was still a safety issue.

Her reply was that she's always watching her car, and I shouldn't worry because she's "being vigilant about that," so she'd notice if someone was near the bikes.

I inquired whether WMATA provides parking for workers who need to drive to the station. She said, "Not at this location."

Two observations came from this night. The first: WMATA needs to procure parking for the station managers who need to arrive before the first train and drive home after the last train departs. Now that Constitution Square [PDF] (home to Harris Teeter, restaurants, a bank, and a large underground parking garage) is open next door, it shouldn't be difficult for the transit agency to gain access to a couple guaranteed parking spaces for these station managers.

The second more troubling observation didn't come to me until later. If this station manager is spending her time "being vigilant" about watching her car, is she actually doing her job? Shouldn't that effort go towards paying attention to the needs of customers and keeping an eye on the safety and security of the station itself?

02 February 2011

Capital Community News advocates killing DC Councilmember

I've previously bemoaned the state of editing in the Capital Community News family of local papers. As I said before, they are a valuable resource for news that gets overlooked by the Washington Post or local television stations, but the writing often leaves something to be desired.

There is an opinion column in their papers called "The Nose," which is anonymously authored. It's generally humorous, but the January column was mean-spirited and crossed a line regarding Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells. The author displayed serious windshield perspective in criticizing Wells' advocacy for modes of transportation besides the automobile. Wells is accused of "hat[ing] The Nose's car" and is told to "stop Twittering and start ignoring the voices of Greater Greater Washington." Lyrics to a poorly-done parody of the Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun" follow the complaining.

The kicker, though, is the ending. The author says:
By the way, word on the Internet is that a Councilman on a bike is worth at least 10 points. That's even better than an old man or a stroller mommy. Just saying.
I don't know about you, but that sounds like an invitation to commit bodily harm to a member of our city's legislative body. Tony Kornheiser made a similar attempt at humor a year ago when discussing the bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue, and it led to anger and disgust. Kornheiser apologized, and even had Lance Armstrong on his show to discuss why this wasn't really funny.

You can disagree with the inclusion of bike lanes on certain streets in the city. You can debate whether there is a "war on drivers" in the city. But saying the equivalent of, "Hey, it'd be really cool if someone were to purposely hit a man on a bike with their car" is sophomoric, offensive, and if you ask me, worth a visit from the police to determine if there is actual intent to target a public official. Unfortunately, the author of this diatribe is known only to the editors of the Capital Community News family of papers. I'd encourage you to express disappointment directly to the author by emailing TheNose@HillRag.com or to the editor at editorial@hillrag.com.