The meeting started with a Q&A with Craig Royal with what I think is MPD's Traffic Safety Specialized Enforcement Branch. As he described it, they don't really deal with traffic, but instead focus on Major Crashes and Motor Carrier Safety (doing truck inspections). Royal is a cyclist and, until recently, a bike commuter (as part of his new job he's required to drive a car so as to reach a major crash quickly, so no more biking). He started out by talking about safety and enforcement and how they're needed to change behavior. As an example he noted that in California people don't really jaywalk, but here it's culturally acceptable to do so and we need to change that. He also implied that cyclist behavior needs to be changed. Someone pointed out that an inordinate number of recent DC bike fatalities involved trucks and asked him if during their inspections, MPD would be willing to hand out the DDOT/WABA Truck and Bicycle Safety brochure. Royal said that he could, but that we'd get "more bang for the buck" if we would instead target cyclists because "if I'm correct, in almost all of these cases, it's the cyclist who was at fault."
Then there was a brief period of awkward silence. The brochure, which he'd just been handed, described three truck-cyclist fatalities of which two are easily attributed to the driver and the other one is arguable the driver's fault. The only other case I know of is Alice Swanson's, where he is correct that she was found at fault, but that is - in my opinion - a dubious deduction. It also doesn't make sense. If cyclists were to blame, then why are truck drivers so over-represented in the cyclist fatality data. Would not bad cyclists get killed by drivers of SUVs at a reasonably similar rate (I do recognize that it is possible that the difference in survivability of the crashes causes the over-representation)? The variable here is the trucks.
Anyway, he agreed to see if they could hand out the brochures.
He was asked about crash reports. Every crash has a PD10 which is part of the public record and can be viewed at any district station, but Major Crash reports require a FOIA request.
He was asked about enforcement of traffic violation and stated that one reason that officers don't write more tickets is that some think it makes them look bad. Some officers think that those who write tickets get more formal complaints, and these complaints make an officer look bad, so officers don't want to write tickets. He pointed out that he wrote many tickets and often ticketed people for parking in the bike lane. If you want to write traffic tickets, you can become a reserve officer and write as many tickets as you'd like.
Josh Ghaffari of the Office of Planning talked next and listed plans they're working on that may have an impact on cyclists. He didn't go into any detail, but just wanted the BAC to be aware of these and of where to find them (planning.dc.gov).
DDOT Report: They're currently installing and designing 5.5 miles of cycletracks and buffered bike lanes in downtown. [The bike lanes on Penn are not open yet, and you shouldn't ride in them as the lights that will protect you from left turning cars have not been installed yet] Some people reported that DHS vehicles still park in the median/bike lane and wanted to know what DC will do to stop that. DDOT said they're planning an education blitz before the lanes open, including handouts, video and attention from DDOT Traffic Control Officers so that may solve the problem. They've done a survey of cyclists about the 15th street cycletrack and the majority want to see it made two-way, but doing this safely would be expensive and thus unlikely. The bike lane was popular though. They're going to survey residents next. There are more bike lanes planned this year including Columbia Road from Connecticut Ave to 18th, NY Ave NW from 9th to 15th, 4th St from Penn NW to M St SW, Upshur from Georgia Ave to Rock Creek Church Road, and at the intersection of NH Ave and U St - with bike signals and bike boxes.
Bike sharing: They hope to have news soon (hearsay from a non-DDOT source is that Gabe Klein will have an announcement this week).
Photo by PedroGringo