Whoops, Got a Park Ranger in Trouble

Camera in hand, I went to the see the inspection of the Washington Monument for earthquake damage. It was amazing, a man came out of a hatch at the top of the Monument and began repelling down it. At one point, he even seemed to wave to me.

The scene on the Mall was a media circus, with tourists and locals staring up at the obelisk, and reporters and TV crews documenting the action.

I love taking pictures of people in the city, especially people on bikes (I bike everywhere myself) so this scene caught my eye:

I had never seen a park ranger on a bike before in DC, so thought it was kind of interesting. Through Flickr, I submitted it to The Wash Cycle, a local blog that covers bicycle advocacy.

They picked it up and ran it under the cheeky title, Only You Can Prevent Bicycle Crashes. Commenters observed that not only was the ranger not wearing a helmet, but he's talking on a cellphone and has a bag perilously slung from his handlebars. They even identified the rider - it's Bill Line, the spokesperson for the National Park Service, who opposed the expansion of DC's popular bikesharing service to the National Mall.

A photo I took just as a curiosity makes a larger political point for bike advocates in the city, highlighting what they believe is the hypocrisy of bike opponents who bike, as well as a cavalier attitude toward rider safety.

It also underscores the fact that public servants are "public", especially if you're a spokesman. If you're in public, you're going to be observed and possibly recorded by citizens. Anyone with a camera and an internet connection is a journalist these days.

Sorry to get you in trouble, Bill Line, but put on a helmet!

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