Earlier today, DC Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Mary M. Cheh introduced an Bicycle Safety Omnibus bill that would make several significant changes to the law. These include
- Require the District Department of Motor Vehicles to require an applicant for an operator’s permit to demonstrate knowledge of safely sharing roadways with pedestrians and bicyclists
- Allow bicyclists to use pedestrian traffic control devices to cross an intersection unless otherwise indicated;
- Establish a requirement that public space permit holders blocking a sidewalk, bicycle lane, or other pedestrian or bicycle path provide a safe accommodation for pedestrians and bicyclists;
- Establish driving record points and civil fines for failure to yield the right-of-way to a bicycle and colliding with a bicycle,
- Modify the requirement for bicycles to have an audible warning device,
- Remove restrictions on where a warning device may be used.
The rule allowing cyclists to go on the Pedestrian Leading Interval (PLI) will allow cyclists to legally get out ahead of automobile traffic, even when a bike box isn't present. It's like Idaho Stop lite.
The bill removes the requirement to have a bell, as long as you can yell loud enough to warn people, which is a good step since the rule was widely ignored and probably served no purpose. Yelling in an emergency is so much easier than ringing a bell. Though, I think a bell is more courteous for trail users, I don't think they should be required.
Unfortunately, the rule change about riding two abreast didn't make it in (though it's mentioned in the header), but still this is a good step forward.