Another Bankruptcy Post
Earlier this month Last year, there was a hearing on the Enforcement of Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, chaired by Councilmember Phil Mendelson. The purpose of hearing was to serve as a followup to a February 4th hearing on the same subject and to discuss the Assault of Bicyclists Prevention Act of 2011 (ABP Act).
Councilmember Tommy Wells spoke first in favor of the bill. Cycling is on the uptick in the District becasue the District has worked hard to be bicycle friendly. Wells discussed claims that the law is very harsh, but said that those who mistreat their fellow road users need to be treated harshly. He spent some time discussing the need for the ABP Act including the fact that DC has a very high number of taxis per capita and that, in his opinion, taxi cab drivers are the most hostile drivers on the road. He's seen them make very aggressive maneuvers - midblock u-turns for example - to get a fare. The testimony from the previous hearing made it clear to him that the Council must do more to protect cyclists. He noted that he is eager to hear if citizens think the bill should be extended to other classes such as pedestrians.
CM Mary Cheh started out by citing statistics that there have been 31 pedestrian deaths and two cyclist deaths involving cars in the last year (actually, three cyclists have died in DC in the last year, but none of them involved cars) and that pedestrian and cyclist deaths are an increasing percentage of total road deaths. Cheh called for a "culture shift" from a car-first culture, as well as enforcement, technology and road design changes such as bike lanes and Pedestrian Lead Intervals at intersections. She stated her support of the ABP Act and touted the other recently introduced bills to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
[Names below are often phonetic. My apologies for any misspellings]
Evan Wilder was the first speaker. He's the man who was hit in the video that has become emblematic of the need for the law (He was hit, and it was pretty clear it was intentional, but the US Attorney refused to prosecute).
much of discussion was about how scary it is to ride because of a few bad apples. MPD is often kind and supportive, but in one case a woman was hit by a police van but was ticketed with riding abreast - even though it was one cyclist. A lot of input on the bill, but no one testified against it.
Officers now have to interview everyone before closing a crash report. Reports still need to be done by end of shift, but with a note that supplemental information needs to be added - and they're expected to be finished. MPD is fighting culture - with more people cycling, need to get officers into fold and let them know this is important. Training module is part of that. But need traffic officers (need a traffic division) who are experts in this. Some officers don't operate cars and bikes safely. Using police officers to enforce laws on cyclists. Will work with WABA and DDOT to decide how and where to do that. Late November enforcement period. 70 officers have now gone through online bike/ped training. 2227 tickets for bike lane violations.
The cyclist who caught his assault on video spoke about how he suffered as a result of an attack that he didn't deserve, but the driver didn't even get a ticket. The video was shown and Mendlesohn pointed out that the driver swerved into the cyclists lane causing the crash.
Shane Farthing of WABA mentioned that there is a systemic problem with MPD enforcement of cycling laws and that this is backed up by the recent Police Complaints Board report.
More coverage at these links: