cyclists this is possible, but for beginners who may have chosen a route in order to take advantage of the securityprovided by the bike lane, this can be a terrifying and dangerous experience.Just this week, I have been frequently on the phone with representatives of the large parcel delivery services inresponse to numerous complaints of their drivers blocking the 15
Street cycletracks and thereby forcing cyclistsinto oncoming traffic. Fortunately, most have been responsive and are taking actions to address this illegal andunsafe behavior. But the very fact that I am calling fleet managers one-by-one in hopes of their making policychanges, rather than having this illegal and unsafe behavior controlled by law enforcement, shows the extent towhich the protection of bicyclists and bicycle facilities in the District has been abandoned.This widespread lack of enforcement sends the message to roadway users that illegally blocking bike lanes isacceptable. It is not. It is unacceptable and dangerous. And as the Committee with oversight of MPD, we ask thatprotection of bicycle facilities be prioritized, and that MPD be required to report regularly on its strategies andplans for protecting bicycle facilities and to provide data showing the results of such strategies (e.g., number of citations issued). We recognize that the setting of enforcement priorities is an executive rather than legislative
function, but oversight of the executive’s enforcement policies i
s the responsibility of this committee, and we askyou to take that role seriously, and press enforcement agencies to explain their failure to provide the protectionpromised to bicyclists under the law. Just as we have demanded fair accommodation from our transportationdepartment, we demand protection of our safety from our enforcement agencies.Improper Enforcement:As stated above, non-enforcement creates systemic difficulties for cyclists and, viewed broadly, makes cycling lesssafe for all. But where an individual cyclist is involved in a crash, such that enforcement action is triggered,improper enforcement can acutely harm a cyclist precluding all financial recovery for injuries and propertydamage.1.
Lack of Training on and Knowledge of the Application of Traffic Laws to Bicyclists, and Lack of Understanding of the Duties of Cyclists and Motorists regarding Bicycle Facilities.No one can deny that understanding the complexities of urban traffic practice and law is a difficult task, but it issimply unacceptable for officers charged with enforcing traffic laws
whether employed by DDOT or MPD
to beignorant of (1) the proper application of generally applicable traffic laws to cyclists and (2) the proper andimproper usage of bicycle facilities. Yet this is often the case.Cyclists are routinely wrongly faulted for legal behavior and cited after a crash, despite having followed the law.
Most enforcement officers are not cyclists and have not experienced the District’s streets from the cyclist’s
perspective, nor are they required to be trained on the applicability of traffic laws to cyclists or on the usage of bicycle infrastructure. Thus, they often lack the most basic understanding of cycling in the District, such as: thevery fact that cyclists are rightful users of the roadways; that cyclists are not required to
and in fact should notalways
stay within bike lanes; the areas in which cyclists are and are not allowed on sidewalks; the prohibitionagainst parking in a bicycle lane; and the requirement that motorists merge appropriately when turning across bike
This most frequently occurs when a cyclist is “doored,” yet cited for “riding abreast;” when a cyclist is “lefthooked” yet cited for failure to control speed when, in fact, the motorist failed to yield; when a cyclist is struck by a
passing motorist in the same lane, yet cited for some version of impeding traff
ic; or when a cyclist is “right
hooked” (often while in a bicycle lane, as in the well
-known Alice Swanson fatality) yet cited for failure to yield.