Thursday, June 21, 2012

Selective Competence

Dealing with the local bicycling infrastructure around DC drives cyclists and cycling advocates up the wall.  Call and complain to Mr. X at agency Y and you get nothing but bureaucratic intransigence. Call Ms. Z at agency Q and you get fast action.

I have been complaining to various agencies a lot over the last couple of years. This is because I have empirical data that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that they are trying to kill me. The Humpback Bridge project included some seriously nasty detours that only a masochist could have planned and executed.  Week after week the construction crew invented new ways to take me out. When the project was completed, however, the trail was vastly improved. The Wilson Bridge and Jones Point Park projects give new meaning to the term willful negligence.  The creativity of the detours was amazing. Gravel, soft tar, raised manhole covers in the shade. The project is almost done, but this time the end result is much worse than what existed before the project began. In 1999!!!! It's been 13 years of  detour whack-a-mole..

Ah, but when it comes to storm related damage, the folks at the National Park Service which maintains the Mount Vernon Trail are surprisingly competent.  Hurricane Isabel wiped out an entire neighborhood on my route to work. The Mount Vernon Trail nearby was an absolute mess of heaved boardwalks, fallen trees and other debris. I thought it would be out of action for a month or more. In less than two weeks. the NPS had it back to normal.

Today was another, albeit smaller, example of the NPS working their maintenance magic.  As I rode on the trail north from the airport, I encountered a fallen tree that completely obstructed the trail. A small opening on the right provided narrow passage. (The passage on the left looks open but the approach from the far side was not passable on a road bike.)

Morning: Ruh, Roh!
(True to form just after I was took this picture, a cyclist came up behind me at speed, intending to ride around the tree, for some reason as far to the left of the gap as possible.  Suddenly, a cyclist coming from the other direction appeared exactly where he was supposed to be and directly in front of Mr. Speedy. Emergency stop. Dirty look. Washington DC has the highest percentage of adults with graduate degrees in the country. And the lowest percentage of adults with common sense.)

Evening: Sweet!
On the way home the tree had been cut up into pieces that were placed off to the side of the trail. I'll bet the wood is gone by tomorrow night. The task of cutting the tree up in near 100 degree heat was probably not a whole lot of fun. Thank you, NPS. 

Too bad we can't sic the NPS tree crew on the bollards down at the Wilson Bridge.

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