New Md. State Police video encourages enforcement of driver-cyclist laws
Police in Maryland are watching a video this fall that concludes with this message from the state’s bicycle coordinator: “The state of Maryland is strongly promoting the use of bicycles as a mode of transportation. We want everyone to have a safe riding experience.”
The 33-minute video, narrated by bike coordinator John H. Brandt and created in conjunction with the Maryland State Police, is being shown to state and local law enforcement officers as a primer/refresher on state laws intended to keep drivers and cyclists from colliding on the road. Being presented to officers at meetings, at roll calls and in squad rooms, it outlines the legal responsibilities of people who take to the road on four wheels or two. And it encourages officers to crack down on violators of either persuasion. You’ll find an excerpt from the video here, and if you’ve got time to watch the longer version that the police are seeing, here it is.
With the number of cyclists and cars on the road increasing, cyclist deaths and injuries nationwide have increased each of the past three years. So has the friction.
The other point of view was taken in a New York Times column that went viral on social media, with the headline “Is it O.K. to kill cyclists?”
In Maryland, state officials are at work on a public campaign to get both drivers and cyclists to abide by the law. Signs that inform that bikes “may use full lane” have appeared on some highways, and the motor vehicle administration has devoted a page of its Web site to informing road users of the law.
History has shown that the road safety campaigns fail dramatically unless police are motivated to enforce the laws. Seat belt use is a classic example. The “Buckle up for safety” campaign had minimal success in getting Americans to wear the belts, but the “Click it or ticket” effort, backed up by enforcement, has been successful. (More than half of those killed in traffic accidents last year weren’t wearing seat belts.) The Mothers Against Drunk Driving group presented dramatic stories by loved ones of those killed or maimed by drunk drivers, but it wasn’t until MADD was able to get police and the courts to hand out harsh punishment that many drinkers turned to designated drivers or called cabs (31 percent of traffic fatalities last year involved alcohol.)
If drivers and cyclists are to co-exist on Maryland’s roadways, showing the state police video to law enforcement officers is likely to have a greater effect than the now discredited “share the road” campaign that has gone on for years.
Metro makes its case on customer service
A Metro board committee adopted a statement of the transit authority’s commitment to customers on Thursday and forwarded it to the full board for approval.
Here’s what it says:
“The safety and security of our customers is our fundamental commitment. Metro is committed to quality transit service, including clean transit vehicles and facilities, as well as courteous customer service. Metro strives to meet customers’ expectations of reliable service and recognizes the importance of timely and accurate communication, especially during service disruptions. To be responsive to our customers, we will regularly incorporate their feedback in decision making.”
It’s hard to argue with any of those goals, and the board members didn’t before adopting it. It’s the process that’s encouraging. The significance of the statement is that it stems from work done over the past few months the Metro Riders’ Advisory Council. Unlike the Metro board members, the people on the council are not the overseers of pension funds, employee contracts and capital investments. They’re just riders. They volunteer their time on the council because they want other riders to have a better experience.
The values statement quoted above is a condensation of a one-page, seven-point document developed, and heavily debated by the council. While the council worked hard to condense this statement of “Commitment to Customers,” it’s still too long. The Metro staff recommended that board members adopt both the short-form and the long-form to display in different environments, and the board committee did that.
When I’ve discussed the development of the customer pledge and its specific commitments, riders often respond by saying, Okay, fine, but now what? Pledging is easier than performing. For example, Metro managers over the years have periodically discovered the desirability of getting station managers out of their kiosks where they can be more accessible to riders. It’s a matter of staff training, and also of providing the managers with the mobile equipment that can make them more independent of the kiosks. The latest effort to do this is underway now.
Since the proof of customer commitment is in the performance, it was encouraging to hear Lynn Bowersox, Metro’s assistant general manager for customer service, note that all the elements of the pledge are reflected in the performance targets that Metro tracks though it’s Vital Signs scorecard: Bus on time performance, bus fleet reliability, rail on-time performance, rail fleet reliability, MetroAccess on-time performance, escalator availability, elevator availability, customer injury rate, employee injury rate, crime rate and customer satisfaction.
The Vital Signs reports have their limits as a public accountability tool: The Metro staff sets its own performance goals, the measures are very broad and by the time the public sees the statistics, they’re a few months old, and they don’t necessarily reflect the experience of individual riders.
The encouraging part is that since 2010 Metro has measured its performance and relates it to goals customers care about, like those contained in the new pledges.
The latest edition of Vital Signs, presented to the Metro board’s customer service committee on Thursday, illustrated the ups and downs of these measurements. When Metro General Manager Richard Sarles talked with reporters about the fare increase plan, also presented Thursday, he told them, “We had a very good year.” He could back that up with on-time and reliability statistics from the Vital Signs report.
In the July-September quarter, escalator availability improved to 93.1 percent, the best performance in five years. Metrobus on-time performance improved to 80.5 percent for the quarter. Metrorail weekday on-time performance improved to 92.2 percent. For the fifth quarter in a row, the was above Metro’s target for itself. Performance was better on all five lines, compared to the same quarter in 2012.
They don’t necessarily mean your escalators or your Metrobuses, and they certainly don’t mean the Red Line ride in November. The rail on-time performance for November will show a drop, but it won’t appear in the statistics until the next quarterly report is published early in 2014.
Just as the big scorecard can fail to capture some of the daily experiences of riders, it also can miss the impact of some specific initiatives designed to improve the customer experience. Bowersox makes the case Thursday for some of those initiatives.
These are among the items on her list. See how many you’ve noticed.
- Station managers are instructed to remain outside of the kiosks during rush hours.
- Rail cars are cleaner, because of increased cleanings during off-peak hours.
- The lighting at Judiciary Square station was improved, along with the lighting on the mezzanines at Gallery Place, Metro Center and Bethesda.
- A new staircase was installed between the mezzanine and the platform at Bethesda.
- SmarTrip card dispensers are on every mezzanine. (In fact, most SmarTrip cards are now sold from station vending machines.)
- Exitfare machines can now add value to SmarTrip.
- Riders can automatically reload their SmarTrip cards, in the same way that drivers replenish their E-ZPass accounts.
- The training of bus drivers has re-emphasized customer service.
- Cameras have been installed on all buses to increase security.
- New, more readable bus stop signs have been installed.
- The accuracy of the NextBus arrival prediction system improved with upgrades to the location equipment aboard the buses.
- Transit police introduced a program called MyMTPD TexTips, which allows riders to text their concerns to the police department.
- Message boards were added at station kiosks so riders would know of any big problems before going through the fare gates.
- Station managers now have digital radios to communicate with the operations center during major incidents, an upgrade in technology that should help the managers communicate with more riders during service disruptions.
Love and romance on the subway?
From the folks up north — that being the Big Apple — we have a dating service that is using the city’s subway system as a source for matching up singles. As reported by Jezebel (via Brokelyn), recruiting is underway for “Subway Cupids” — folks who would ride New York City’s subway system with an eye out for folks who might make a match.
Here’s how it works, according to the Trainspottings Web site:
“Train Spottings is a traditional, old school matchmaking service,” the description reads. “What makes it fresh however is that The Love Conductor fishes in the New York City subway system for viable candidates (i.e. the most fabulous, attractive and creative singles that NYC has to offer) and matches them with other sensational singles she has met through the subway, or by more classic recruiting methods. Once matched, singles are set up on purely curated dates in the NYC area. The name of the game is LOVE and she’s out to find it!”
D.C.’s subway systems is known for many things, but love? Maybe not so much. But the system has been the inspiration for some fun romance-themed stories and parodies.
There’s Hotcars — dating forward, a clever parody site that manages to make Metro’s shortcomings (hot cars, delays, crowded trains) amusing. Not an easy feat.
Maybe not as funny, but still useful, was this Washington Post offering earlier this year featuring great date spots in and around Metro stations.
And of course, there are the love-themed Metro stories that are just plain bizarre, like this offering on romance via emergency intercom from UnsuckDCMetro.
Route 1 in Arlington re-opens
Updated at 6:56 a.m.
Arlington County Police said Route 1 in Crystal City has re-opened after an earlier accident.
No further details were available at this time on the condition of the pedestrian who was struck in an earlier incident along the road.
Officials had expected the roadway to be closed until 10 a.m. at earlier reports.
Original post at 5:54 a.m.
Route 1 southbound, between 20th and 23rd streets, is closed Friday until at least 10 a.m. because of an earlier accident involving a pedestrian.
Police said they responded around 2:30 a.m. to a report of a person struck by a vehicle.
Authorities closed the roadway shortly after the incident was reported.
Drivers are advised to avoid the area in their morning commutes.
With the road closed, travelers headed to Reagan National Airport are advised by police to use the George Washington Parkway as an alternative.
Authorities said they did not immediately know the condition of the person who was struck.
Two lanes blocked on I-66 east
Police said two lanes are blocked Friday morning on Interstate 66 east near Lee Highway in Falls Church because of an accident.
It is not known how long the lanes will be closed.
Authorities advise drivers to use alternative routes.