Attacking Life with Comedic Jaws of Sarcasm. Recovering Dating & Relationship Blogger - Made it to Step 12 When I Got Married.

How To Be a Pedestrian in Washington D.C.

It pays to read your stats. Otherwise, I would have not found out about this:

Sometimes it’s nice not to whine about dating. And have people notice that sometimes I can write snark that counts. And on that note…

Today I returned home and began my nightly race, The Dupont 500, in search of parking. I noticed a cop standing on the corner of my block, talking to a girl I sort of know from the dog park. I circled the block, parked speedracer, and walked home. The cop was still on the corner, but this time he was talking to another girl, the epitome of a yuppie chick from Connecticut – blond hair fresh out of rollers, the L.L. Bean Tote, Lily Pulitzer skirt, white cardigan and pearls. She was digging in said L.L. Bean Tote and I could hear the cop say, “Ma’am, you crossed AGAINST the light…” Well well well. The cops finally got off their asses to do something about this out of control situation we have brewing here in the district.

As I’ve said in the comments in other blogs today, I almost ran over a stupid girl this morning while driving down 17th Street. To me, crossing against the “Don’t Walk” sign is acceptable only when you don’t see any other cars coming. However, since our world is vastly made up of stupid people, like the dumb bitch this morning who jumped out in front of my car, they need to be told when to stand on the sidewalk and when they can cross.

I go upstairs to get the doggies, leash them up and head back downstairs to see if I can chat up the officer and get the story. I start with the usual Velvet charm, “Officer, where were you this morning when a girl jumped out in front of my car and I almost hit her?” He laughed. Then he told me that based on all the pedestrians who have been hit recently, they are cracking down. He said he’s writing tickets to everyone crossing against the light, and it’s citywide for the next 30 days. Amen. It is about time. I asked him when they are going after the bikers, and he said, “They’re on the list too.” Fucking Awesome.

People, let me help you with something. Are you smart enough to cross the street yourself? Most of you. But, what if a car comes out of an alley, just on the other side of that intersection you are crossing? That car does NOT have to yield to anything when it has the green light, except for an ambulance or a cop. You have foolishly been led to believe that “Pedestrians always have the right of way.” Not true. You, as the pedestrian, are not allowed to be in the street, crosswalk or otherwise, until the light turns in your favor. Ten years ago, when I lived up north, this was very simple for my fellow New Yorkers to understand. I hear it has gotten bad up there now too. But you people here in D.C.? You’re complete morons. Why? Keep reading.

When you are standing on a corner, trying to cross, and you SEE A COP WITH HIS TICKET BOOK OUT, STARING AT YOU, don’t you think that oh, maybe, just maybe you should quickly become law abiding? I’m not high and mighty. Believe me. Thora and Sammy rarely find themselves on a leash. But you can bet your ass when I see a cop, I don’t saunter by him, almost begging him to give me a ticket. I leash those dogs up in a split second. Come on. How dumb are you? I sat at my window and watched pedestrian after stupid pedestrian get caught and ticketed. Hilarious.

While I’m up on my soapbox, let’s discuss those of you on bikes. People, according to the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation (DCDOT) you riding your bicycles are considered vehicles. This means that you ride to the right of the road, not bobbing and weaving down the middle of K Street during rush hour. I hate playing whack-a-mole with you idiots on your bikes. This also means that you stop at red lights. You can’t make the rules apply to you when you want, and ignore them the other times. Also, you do not get to take up a lane on 17th Street in the mornings. You are a bicycle. Get over to the side of the road and stop at the lights like every other vehicle. Don’t believe me? Read this.

The problem here is that there are just too many of us using the roads. Walkers, bikers and car drivers. I prefer to make the stupid people move out to the ‘burbs but I know we can’t do that. Living harmoniously is hard. But if people follow the laws and the cops actually enforce them, it can work. Start giving a few tickets and publicize it and watch this city shape up. Of course, one more thing is needed for there to be less accidents and better traffic flow. Brace yourself, I’m about to give away a huge secret on how this whole operation can work better. I’m not throwing this around for shits and giggles. I’m serious. Ready? It’s called “being courteous.” I know. You have no idea what I’m talking about.

Courteous is not walking against a “don’t walk” light.

Courteous is not deciding as a biker that you can pass a car and so you dodge out into the middle of the road in front of cars around you are going much faster.

Courteous is not forcing your car into a crosswalk when there are people who have the “walk” light, trying to get through that crosswalk.

Courteous is remembering that you live and/or work in a city that is population dense. If you hate living in such close proximity to other people, then I would like to refer you to houses my company is building on the Maryland/Pennsylvania border. Your nearest neighbor is miles away. And there are no crosswalks.


  1. Siryn

    Amen, my friend. As I saw today on the gmail rss, a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright: “There is nothing more uncommon than common sense.” Courtesy is probably is, however.

  2. cosmic shambles

    Is this post really about being courteous, or were you just trying to get a date with that cop?

  3. bettyjoan

    As a pedestrian (though usually a law-abiding one, as I do not trust drivers in DC to yield for me), I thank you for the warning about jaywalking tickets. I don’t understand the people who can’t wait for the “Walk” signal–you’re lucky if the cars don’t hit you when you DO have the right of way.

    As for bicyclists, thank you for pointing out what seems to be a complicated concept for some folks–bikes are vehicles, and they have to follow the same rules as cars. It’s a sideWALK, people, not a sideBIKE. 🙂

  4. KM

    Velvet, if you think it’s bad here, you’d hate living in Boston. Pedestrians believe they have a right to be in the road and give you the stink-eye if you don’t stop for them when they’re standing curbside. The number of times that I almost hit someone in two years was probably in the low triple digits.

  5. cosmic shambles

    KM: Boston is like that, and so is Boulder Colorado. But it has become a part of the driving culture in those places and it works (somewhat). Peds know that it is OK to cross, and drivers know that it is “courteous” to yield. The problem comes when you are from out of town and do not follow the system.

    The real problem is that people are generally self-interested and impatient. If everyone would follow the consensus rules that we have devised for auto, bike, and ped traffic everything would progress much more efficiently. Inevitably it’s the people who believe their commute should take precedence over that of fellow citizens that screw up the whole system.

    What really gets me steaming is when people don’t follow the rules of right-of-way at an intersection. Aaaaaaargh!!! Not to mention that police resources are being spent monitoring pedestrians at crosswalks rather than pursuing real crime.

    I hate people.

  6. Bilious Pudenda

    “….refer you to houses my company is building….”

    Was your company courteous when it evicted that fishy Hanna slut from a tree?

  7. jcd

    While waiting for the light to change, I saw that officer ticket three different people. I confess I often jaywalk, but at least wait until there are no cars or bikes in either direction. I actually find the cyclists going the wrong way down one-way streets to be most annoying.

  8. KassyK

    As a pedestrian I even have to agree…its so ridiculous that people cannot just WAIT. Or if you are going to jaywalk dammit doing while there arent 10 cops watching and a cab speeding towards you.

    People should be injected with common sense at birth. Great post darling.

  9. Dara

    Apparently, the police giving tickets to jaywalkers is big news today. Although, Velvet, so far you’re the only one who’s pro-ticket. Everyone else is a scofflaw.

  10. Velvet

    Siryn – What is it like up in NY these days?

    Cosmic – No, that cop was not Velvet dating material. I know, make your jokes.

    Betty Joan – I grew up in a place where you were not to enter the intersection when people were in the crosswalk. That time and place is long gone, and people have become bigger assholes.

    KM – I was in Boston once and holy hell. All those one way streets, I couldn’t figure out where I was!

    Cosmic – I hate people too. And speaking of people I hate…

    Bilious Pudenda – “fishy Hanna slut” – We only cut down a few trees up there, but I didn’t see your mom in any of them.

    jcd – Do I know you? I was standing out there for a while laughing my arse off.

    KassyK – I’m sort of happy most people don’t have common sense. Puts the rest of us ahead of the game. I believe in survival of the fittest anyway.

    Dara – I saw that. My neighbors thought it was me who wrote the email. I did just comment over there though.

  11. Scarlet

    I totally agree with all of it. I don’t trust people to not hit me. And I am glad you cleared up the bike issue. I don’t ride a bike so I never knew for sure but could have sworn they were supposed to follow car laws. It pisses me off when I practically crash trying not to hit them but then they zoom through red lights. Ugh!


  12. Siryn

    NY pedestrians are a whole other animal. People here are bold. However, most people don’t step out in front of oncoming traffic, although some are bolder than others. And I don’t mind walking across gridlocked traffic if the cars are just sitting there. Why waste the light?

    The cyclists going the wrong way up a one way, however, are thankfully few and far between.

  13. cosmic shambles

    Not Velvet dating material? I thought EVERY guy was Velv… ah, nevermind.

  14. jcd

    Nope- I’m just a long-time lurker who lives a few blocks north of the intersection. The police have been doing this downtown for a while. I’m surprised they moved to more residential areas. I can’t be too censorious, because I likely would have jaywalked crossing R on the east side of 17th if I hadn’t happened to notice the officer and his ticket book.

  15. doubleonegative

    I think it’s important for all pedestrians to try driving in this city every once in a while. I walk to and from work, but drive a lot on the weekends, so I feel like I have a pretty well-rounded perspective. That said, the “group-think” problem is perhaps the biggest. It seems that the second someone sees the person in front of them walk across the street, they’re good to go too. I’ve seen one too many accidents occur on account of the “if he/she goes, i can go too” assumption.

    and velvet, it appears we live in the same hood. i’ll be looking for you in the dog park– if i see any jaywalking i’m calling po-po.

  16. Chico's Bail Bonds

    Ah, sweet Velvet, the first item that I vehemently disagree with you on. In any urban environment where society has evolved to such a state that it allows, dare I say encourages, people to walk and use public transportation, the car must go the way of those without opposable thumbs and yield to its masters.

    To place the onus of awareness and safety concern on normal, everyday people who are walking (on average), at 3-5 m.p.h., versus drivers who may or may not be on a cell phone, eating, drunk, high or super angry while operating a two-ton vehicle capable of achieving speeds of over 100 m.p.h. just does not make sense to me.

    I think it should be understood by now that if you live in a densely-populated urban area and you choose to drive somewhere, it will take you a long, long time because of traffic and because you have to drive more slowly to ensure your and pedestrians’ safety.

    I am TOTALLY biased on this topic, however, by the fact that my wife was almost killed by a douchebag 16 year old from Chevy Chase turning left on a red light at the intersection of Wisconsin & Prospect while she was safely in the crosswalk (legally).

    I do agree with the thrust of your post which is simply, “Be courteous.” My friend Andrew’s life motto, which I also enjoy is, “Do nice.” I’m sure someone else came up with it, but I like to give him credit.

  17. AlieMalie


    I have to say though some cities have drivers who don’t give a flying frick about the pedestrians. It’s gotten to the point where I’ll use my head, and if I do have the right-of-way but the car is just slowing and not stopping, I’ll still walk – as long as he’s not going super fast. Even if he just lightly taps me – grad school? Paid. This sounds exceedingly stupid, but trust me – I’m not stupid enough to walk in front of a speeding car. And I do pay attention to the walk/don’t walk indicators.

    I’m going to take my idiocy back to my own blog now.

    : )

  18. Siryn

    I’ll say this – as a driver, pedestrian, AND a cyclist, it’s tough out there depending on the stupidity of the people around you. For those of us who are courteous, it can be hell – because you see the pedestrians who hog the entire road/trail, stupid drivers that expect you to read their minds before turning or wandering into your lane, and cyclists going way too fast on the sidewalk when there are pedestrians present or aren’t supposed to be there, angry drivers that intentionally hit cyclists, stupid drivers that “don’t see” cyclists or pedestrians, thug kids in Northeast that intentionally beat cyclists, and the drunk bitches in Arlington that jaywalk on your green light at night as if headlights didn’t mean anything.

    Yes, sometimes I really hate people.

  19. Velvet

    Scarlet – a biker on a sidewalk rode up alongside my dog this morning and it scared the hell out of us. Bastards. They need to be on the road damn it.

    Siryn – Last summer my brother came here (from NY as you know) and he said, “Hey, I saw a biker going the wrong way up 17th.” I was like, “Yeah, apparently here they are allowed to do whatever the hell they want.

    Cosmic – You’re next. How far is Baltimore from here???

    JCD – So you saw it and hesitated. FINALLY! You are BRILLIANT. The rest of those people? Not so much.

    Double O – We’re next you know, the dog park people. Wait until they show up and ticket us for not having the dogs on leashes.

    Chico’s Bail Bonds – Damn you! You live in Miami. Please! Have you seen these bimbo girls up here yapping on their cell phones just walking out in the middle of traffic? They DO NOT have the right of way. You’re wrong. And they have to yield to the cars when the cars have a green light. You need to come up here to assess. The pedestrians are out of control. The inmates are running the asylum. It’s totally out of hand. People dodging and running out from everywhere, it’s become virtually impossible to drive here.

    Alie Malie – Grad school paid. You are too funny.

    Siryn – Wow. That was a stream of anger. Do you feel better?

  20. Bilious Pudenda

    The ‘C’ word is in order here Velvet.
    Have some respect, or at least some sympathy for my poor Mam. You try ‘birthin’ a Bilious’ without the benefit of a Pudenda.

  21. Twoste

    dude, we have the right to walk if we want. If you don’t like it, then run us over.

  22. Velvet

    Twoste – Actually, you don’t. You’re an idiot. If you walked in front of my car, then I would run you over just for sport. And dude? Did you just call me dude?

    Christ Bilious, turn your hate on to some of these ‘tards already. See above.

  23. Larsgard

    I live in a city that hosts thousands of tourists a year. They seem to think that everyone here still drives horse and carriages. They will walk in the downtown streets without looking for anything completely oblivious to any kind of vehicle.

  24. Anonymous

    Thanks for the fair warning. I’ve been recently guilty of a lot of jaywalking. And someone we both know rides her bike on the sidewalk. Time to reform before you move me even further into the ‘burbs.

  25. Stef

    Thanks for the warning on tickets. While I’m pretty good about following the lights, I am a daily jaywalker right in front of my office, crossing in the middle of the street rather than the crosswalk. But, I’ll tell you that most of my coworkers and I (and I mean probably several hundred people here) prefer to cross in the middle than at the corner, cuz the middle has a nice median and very predictable light patterns, but both corners are horrible and notorious for having speed-racer drivers making left turns. A pedestrian in the crosswalk, with the walk signal, was actually hit by a bus there last year. It’s all dangerous.

  26. Drunken Chud

    hehehehehehe. i always liked the “pedastrians always had the right of way” statement. i had a buddy who would just jump into streets and cross with reckless abandon because he believed that. well, after getting clipped by a car and then ticketed for being in the right of way and failure to yeild the right of way, he was set straight. i laughed, cuz he would never beleive me. my friends are idiots.

  27. Serena

    I hate this, too. We have traffic laws for a reason. I hate the cocky pedestrians who just think they can cross whenever they want. I’ve so been tempted to just nick one a little.

  28. barbara

    I’m #24 above. Why did I show up as Anonymous? Barbara

  29. Anonymous

    I hate driving in downtown DC. You always have to be on the defense against bikers, pedestrians and selfish drivers.
    The bikes should be on the road not the sidewalk but we have rules.
    Pedestrians are crazy and lars hit the nail on the head with the tourists. We have so many people from so many different places I think they throw all rules out the window when they come here.
    I wish I could get someone to throw there arm up in thanks for letting them in my lane just once! DC is just rude.

  30. Phil

    They can’t ticket you if you run fast enough.

  31. Pele

    My pet peeve – drivers turning right on red looking to their left at oncoming traffic and not paying attention to the pedistrian legally crossing, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. And that guy wondered why I was cussing at him and pounding on the hood of his car.

    For everyone who is anti-bikes on sidewalks, Velevet’s DC rules say it perfectly legal, except in the business district (wherever that is defined as…)

  32. Lissa

    Yes, pedestrians do not have the right of way if they walk against a “Don’t Walk” sign. But at the same time, any driver who runs over a pedestrian will probably be found liable in a civil court, and very likely a criminal court, unless the driver can show that he or she not only did not see the pedestrian, but also should not have seen the pedestrian. By “should not have seen” I mean, for example, a pedestrian that darts out from between two cars and the driver of the oncoming car doesn’t have time to stop. Basically, all the “right of way” laws do is allow a fine against a jaywalker — it doesn’t mean that drivers can run over jaywalkers without consequence.

    Also, as a former Boston resident I feel compelled to point out that I think that a great deal of the jaywalking in Boston stems from the fact that since it’s an old city, the traffic flow is often non-sensical and jerky. As such, not only are there lots of intersections where the oncoming traffic is stopped up blocks away, but a “Don’t Walk” sign still flashes, but cars tend not to travel as fast because roads are narrower and the traffic flow (too much starting and stopping) hinders it. Additionally, I think it also has to do with what the commenter above said, that it’s part of the driving culture.

    In full disclosure, I admit to a fair bit of jaywalking (I think I just got used to it in Boston). But I realize I’m in the wrong, and I do it where there’s a break in traffic, not in front of oncoming traffic because I don’t care to be run over by a DC driver who doesn’t care/isn’t paying attention/thinks that “right of way” = “freedom to run over anything in his or her way.”

    Lastly, it’s my strongly held personal belief that pedestrians should always have the right of way when it’s really cold or raining. 🙂

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