Q1: Dr. G, I commute by bicycle to work each day and I follow all traffic controls. I understand that D.C. recently enacted a law that allows me to proceed through the intersection with the Walk light goes on, rather than another 1 or 2 seconds for the light to turn green (many intersections have a delay to allow pedestrians (and now bikers) to get a head start). Unfortunately I've had the experience that some drivers get angry when I start on the white Walk light, thinking I am running a red, which I don't think I'm doing and which I don't want to do. Can you clarify the law now in DC?
Dr. G: I think you're referring to the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013.
Here's the active part: “(a) A bicyclist may cross at an intersection while following the pedestrian traffic control signal for the bicyclist’s direction of travel unless otherwise directed by traffic signs or traffic control devices. (b) A bicyclist may cross an intersection where a leading pedestrian interval is used.”
Q2: Wait--I don't get this. I thought bikes needed to follow traffic laws. But then why are they allowed to cross based on pedestrian walk signs?
Dr. G: I think the idea was to give cyclists a little more protection from turning motorists.