"I'm a bicyclist," writes Robert Means of Northwest. ". . . Where available, I use bike paths, but since I live and work downtown, I must frequently compete with cars for space on the streets. I've seen a lot of drivers do stupid things (a few of which have put my life at risk) while operating a car. That list was increased by one today."
Seems Bob was pedaling east on L Street NW during the middle of a weekday afternoon. As he neared 19th, a car made a right turn, cutting Bob off.
That would have been bad enough. Worse: Bob noticed a can of beer in the driver's hand as he zipped along 19th.
Bob noted the offender's license number and went looking for a cop. He couldn't find one, so he called the nearby 3rd District and told the officer on the desk what happened. What could the cop do?
Nothing, he explained, unless he had personally seen the man drinking while driving. And since he hadn't . . . .
Bob wondered whether the police department could write the offending motorist a letter suggesting he be more careful (and less well lubricated) while driving in the future. Sorry, said the police public information office. Unless an officer personally sees someone drinking while driving . . . .
Not called out on strikes yet, Bob rang up the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, since the drinker's car had borne Maryland tags. "They likewise would not write such a letter," Bob said, although they did say "I could come into the MVA office, look up his name and address and write him a letter myself."
Great, Bob thought -- until MVA told him that their offices are open only on weekdays, and are located in Gaithersburg, Forestville and College Park. That's not exactly next door if you're traveling on a 10-speed.
"Okay," says Bob, "I know when I'm beat." But why should he be?
Can't local police departments get directly involved, even when they don't witness a motorist actually sipping beer?
Can't motor vehicle offices make it easier for citizens to file letters of complaint?
If just one motorist waits until he's home to have his beer because he's afraid of having a letter placed in his file, we all will gain -- cyclists, pedestrians, motorists. What say you, officialdom?