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Archive for January 17th, 2012

Positive Steps from MPD

Cyclists need law enforcement.  We rely on laws to set boundaries both on where roadway users should be and what they should do as they all try to get from Point A to Point B.  When something goes wrong in this system, we count on law to apportion the rights and responsibilities of those involved.  But on our streets, “law” doesn’t happen in the abstract.  It requires law enforcement officers to know the law and apply it properly.

We have frequently made the case that in the District enforcement of laws to protect bicyclists and vulnerable roadway users is unacceptable, and that MPD has demonstrated little effort to improve.

While we still have a very long way to go, we would like to thank MPD for making that effort to improve.  Though we still receive too many calls from cyclists wrongly cited and see too many roadway violations go unpunished, we have seen a number signs progress in improving the relationship with law enforcement in the District:

1. Quadrupling of the number of citations for blocking bike lanes.

2. Appointment of Lt. Breul to work on cycling issues.

3. Posting of WABA Bike Law Guide on MPD intranet. (We can’t link to that one, but we’ve heard it’s there.)

4. Use of WABA Bike Law Guide for training of cadets. (Just last week, Det. Millett, an instructor at the police academy and major crash investigator, stopped by for a stack of law guides to give to his students–indicating an awareness of the Guide and an effort to educate new officers.)

We hope that these advances, coming on the heels of this fall’s findings by the Office of Police Complaints and tense testimony at the Judiciary Committee’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Enforcement Hearing, are the start of a major improvement in MPD’s interactions with bicyclists.  These are hopeful signs, and we are appreciative of the efforts of Chief Lanier, Asst. Chief Burke, Lt. Breul, Det. Millett, and others who are working with us to improve bicyclist safety in the District.

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