WABA Testimony Urges Officer Training, Legislative Fixes

Today, I testified along with a number of bicyclists in the third in a series of hearings before the DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary focused on bicyclist and pedestrian enforcement issues. The focus of that testimony is on the need for better training of MPD officers who are trusted with enforcing the laws that protect cyclists and their rights on the roadway, but are currently not given sufficient training to help them do so properly.

Previous hearings have brought dozens of cyclists telling stories of wrongful citations and poor enforcement, and an Office of Police Complaints (OPC) report stating that this is a systemic problem, not just a few isolated incidents. So the problem has been highlighted by individual cyclists, WABA, and OPC.

It is time to stop highlighting it and begin to solve it by developing a concrete plan to educate MPD officers and investing the funds necessary to carry it out. It is the Committee on the Judiciary that oversees MPD’s performance and their budget, so we hope that today’s hearing will mark a turning point in which the Committee will demand a workable improvement plan and hold MPD accountable for meeting it.

In addition to this focus on improved training of officers to enforce existing laws, we also reiterated the need for legislative changes (1) to create an exemption from the contributory negligence standard for vulnerable roadway users and (2) to pass the Assault of Bicyclists Protection Act that is currently before the Committee but has not been allowed to come to a vote.

WABA’s full testimony is below:
WABA Testimony: DC Enforcement Hearing 5.30.2012

Recap: Congress Heights Mobile Bike Shop

Today’s mobile bike repair shop in Congress Heights was one of our largest ever, and provided us the opportunity to repair a ton of bikes, get a great supporter of our East of the Anacostia program back on a bike after quite a few years, and see several of last year’s “Get on a Bike” contest winners still riding.

Thanks to all who came out and to the Congress Heights community.  As always, if you are interested in WABA’s East of the Anacostia programming, contact alex@waba.org.

 

Montgomery County DOT Commits to Filling Bike Coordinator Position

Yesterday, hundreds of WABA members and supporters in Montgomery County contacted Montgomery County DOT Director Art Holmes asking for the filling of the vacant Bicycle Coordinator position. The position has been vacant for three months, and MCDOT indicated an intention to leave the position unfilled, with bike program responsibilities dispersed among existing staff.

Director Holmes contacted WABA with a commitment to fill the vacant position. In his note Director Holmes said Aruna Miller has been assigned to serve as the full-time Acting Bicycle Coordinator until the vacancy is filled. The appointment is expected in the summer of 2012.

With the glow of the largest Bike to Work Day in history still shining and the recent announcement of bikesharing coming to Montgomery County, it is time for Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to get serious about supporting the growth of bicycling. Committing to rehiring the Bicycle Coordinator position is a very positive step in the right direction!

With the coming of bikeshare to numerous locations in the county, as well as several major trail and infrastructure projects in the works, sufficient staffing is critical to keeping the bike program moving forward.

WABA would like to express our appreciation to Director Holmes for his commitment and for addressing our concerns in a timely manner. We look forward to working MCDOT to create a more bicycle friendly Montgomery County.

 

Join Us for the Women on Bikes Spring Finale: the Tour de Bells!

This post is part of WABA’s Women on Bikes program, an ongoing campaign to create a community, share resources, and develop strategies for getting more women on bikes. To read about the project so far, click here to check out the WABA blog. To learn more and sign up to receive emails about this project, click here.
By Kiera Zitelman & Laura Jean Shane, WABA’s Women’s Bicycling Interns

WABA’s Women on Bikes campaign is pleased to present the Tour de Bells, an inaugural ride open to all women and celebrating confident, fun and accessible bicycling for women of all levels of experience. The goal of this summer bike ride is to provide an easy and safe riding opportunity to women and to further encourage more women to simply go out and get on a bike!  The Tour de Bells is a leisurely, slow paced ride where no woman will be left behind.

On June 2nd, Tour de Bells women will ride together for ten miles around the city stopping at various famous (and not-so-famous) bell towers. Bring along a friend to help them gain confidence and knowledge about riding in the city in a comfortable setting. You can ride your own bike or you can also rent a bike through Bike and Roll’s Downtown location at the Old Post Office Pavilion. We’ll be starting and ending the ride at this location as well.

Click here to register for the Tour de Bells!

Tour de Bells

Date
June 2nd. Rain or Shine

Time
Meet-up begins at 9:30 AM to allow time to rent bikes.
Ride leaves promptly at 10:00 AM.

Start/End Location
Old Post Office Pavilion
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue

Distance
10 miles (approx.)

Please Note
All riders are required to wear helmets and sign a waiver (available on site) to participate.
Bring along a bike lock if you would like to go to the top of the Old Post Office bell tower (free).

Women on Bikes is dedicated to helping women ride bikes more often and more enjoyably, and so this ride is designed to be women only.

Click here to Register!

Click here to receive Women on Bikes emails!

Bike Rental Information

Rental bikes and helmets are available from our friends at Bike and Roll. Please note that we do not guarantee the availability of bikes on the day of the event, and it is up to you to ensure that you reserve a bike.

Bike and Roll, Downtown @ The Old Post Office Pavilion
1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
In the rear plaza, entrance off of 12th St. NW
202-842-2453

Saturday Hours: 9am – 9pm

Laura Jean Shane is a spring 2012 Women’s Bicycle Outreach & Advocacy Intern. She  came to WABA as a former sports medicine professional and current Masters of Public Health student at GWU. A devotee of RAGBRAI, she moved to DC last year and cannot imagine getting around any other way.
Kiera Zitelman is a spring 2012 Women’s Bicycle Outreach & Advocacy Intern. She has gotten around the DC area by bike for years since growing up in Silver Spring. As an environmental science and policy student at UMD, she uses her bike to navigate campus every day and ride the Anacostia Tributary trails near College Park on the weekends.

Join The Pug, WABA & New Belgium for an evening of Beers, Bikes & pre-Tour de Fat!

Come join WABA & New Belgium for an evening of beers, bikes, and pre-Tour de Fat next Thursday, May 24th (5/24) at The Pug on H St. NE!

Enjoy tasty New Belgium brews (Fat Tire Amber Ale, Shift Pale Lager, & Tart Lychee Ale) and enter for the chance to win a 2012 New Belgium Custom Cruiser bike! Raffle tickets will be $5 with all proceeds going to WABA! Bring your friends, co-workers, family, or significant other. One of you will be rolling home with a sweet new ride! Plus, High fives and treats for all who ride!

Happy Hour Event Details:

The Pug
1234 H St. NE
Washington, DC 20002
7-9pm (with bike raffle at 9pm sharp!)

Register here or just show up!

“What is Tour de Fat?” you ask.

Simply the coolest bike event of the year! Tour de Fat brings together passionate bike lovers for a day of two-wheeled reverly while raising money for local non-profits. Tour de Fat is a thrilling rite of passage that includes an unparalleled costumed bicycle parade, New Belgium beer, dazzling entertainment, local food, unusual bike contests and much more. Coming to 15 cities across the country, New Belgium has added Washington, DC and Atlanta to this year’s line-up!

Learn more about Tour de Fat on Facebook or our WABA’s event page!

 

 

FCC wins Bicycling and Active Commuting Champion of the Year award!

With Bike To Work Day happening tomorrow, it seems fitting that WABA  shares the news that the Federal Communications Commission has won the first annual Bicycling and Active Commuting Champion of the Year award.  Reinvigorated last year by WABA member, Ed Fendley, FedBikes created a scorecard to evaluate federal agencies on their bicycle commuter friendliness.  FedBikes members then collected the scorecards and compiled the data, determining a winner and honorable mentions.  WABA is thrilled to have this resource available for all federal agencies and hope that it will inspire other agencies to accommodate, encourage and thereby tap the unlimited potential of bicycle commuters to their offices.

Read on for more details and information on how your agency can participate!

FedBikes Press Statement – FCC Named 2012 Bicycling and Active Commuting_ Champion FINAL 5-16-12

 

Recap: Bike DC, 2012 Edition

I had a great ride today, and was thrilled to see so many of my fellow Washington area cyclists out for an easy spin on a beautiful Mother’s Day Sunday. There was definitely a hitch or two, but I’m confident in reporting that thousands of us finished the ride with giant smiles on our faces. So I thought I’d share my experience of the day.  Hit the jump for more.

Continue reading

What “Riding Abreast” Shows about Enforcement in DC

It should surprise no one that WABA has been working to improve traffic enforcement and the protection of bicyclists on the District’s roadways. We have worked countless hours on this issue and testified at two hearings held by the DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary on this matter. Those hearings led to a finding by the Office of Police Complaints of deficiencies in the Department’s enforcement and relationship with cyclists and led MPD to appoint a liaison to the bicycling community to work with the District’s Bicycle Advisory Council.

These are positive steps, but there is much more to be done.

Often, when there is a major crash or a cyclist is cited for an infraction that he or she feels is undeserved, that cyclist or a family member calls WABA for advice. And often, when a WABA staffer or an attorney for the cyclist/family follows up on the facts of the case, we find that the story is quite different than the one contained in the police reports. In some cases, the facts presented in the reports or the citations issued simply do not match the stories of those on the scene.  In other cases, even as presented, the facts do not justify the conclusion drawn or the citation issued.

We have been working to make the case that as cycling grows in the District with the support of District programs and infrastructure, the District also has a responsibility to educate police officers on the application of traffic laws to bicyclists. Absent the physical protection of an automobile surrounding us, we rely on the protection of the law.

Unfortunately, we tend to encounter these enforcement errors on an individual basis, one at a time, as impacted cyclists contact us. We have worked to systematize this and get better data through the creation of our crash tracker survey, and it has been useful in getting more information on more crashes. But we are still working to show that the issue is not an occasional error by an occasional officer who misunderstands a provision. Rather, it is a systemic lack of appropriate training for all officers that needs to be rectified by a significant training effort.

Lacking the resources to launch a full analysis of every crash report related to bicycling, we recently chose to focus on a single regulation and review every citation for a violation. We submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to MPD and the DC Department of Motor Vehicles. Because the names and contact information of the cited party are not disclosed through the FOIA process, we attempted to select a provision in which we would not need to contact the cited party or follow up with witnesses to show errors. For this reason we selected the District’s “riding abreast” regulation, 18 DCMR 1201.7:

Persons riding upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or part of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a lane roadway, shall ride within a single lane.

Note that this law:

  1. Cannot apply to a bicyclist riding alone;
  2. Does not relate to the relationship between any bicycle and any non-bicycle vehicle.

We submitted our request seeking information on citations for violation of the “riding abreast” regulation on March 16. The statutory period for acknowledgment passed without response from MPD. On April 9, we followed up with MPD, noting the delay beyond the statutory limit, and also submitted an identical request with the District’s DMV, which oversees adjudication services. On April 19, we did receive acknowledgement of the initial request from MPD but have received no substantive response to date.

DMV, however, has provided both an initial response with overview data of the citation history in its records, as well as a more detailed supplemental response including individual Notices of Infraction. Both responses are below.

Dmv Foia Riding Abreast 1 of 2

Dmv Foia Riding Abreast 2 of 2

A very quick analysis reveals that not a single citation is supported by the officer’s description. In many cases no description is provided, so one cannot conclude whether the citation was justified. But in every case in which a description was provided, a violation of 18 DCMR 1201.7 is not described. Also, notably, there was no instance of two citations being issued at the same location, as might be expected for a law requiring two bicycles.

We continue to be concerned that officers entrusted with enforcing the laws that we need to help keep us safe on the roadways are not adequately trained on those laws or the application to cyclists. Wrongful citations have ramifications, and those ramifications can go well beyond the $25 fine or the frustration of being ticketed when the other party committed the unlawful act. Under the District’s contributory negligence system, insurers will frequently rely on a citation to deny coverage for injuries in a crash, forcing the cyclist who acted entirely within the law to run a complicated legal gauntlet of contesting the wrongful citation and winning, then taking legal action to compel the insurer to provide compensation for any injuries.

In short, bicyclists need MPD to get these citations right. We have seen recent cases in which the intervention of the officers appointed to act as liaisons to the cycling community–Lt. Breul and Commander Crane–have led to the withdrawal of improper citations. The documents provided reveal another such instance. But this sort of intervention is only available in the rare and clear-cut cases in which the officer’s description fails to match the citation as a matter of law. Intervention of this sort is unavailable when the dispute is a factual matter, such as which party has the duty to yield. In any event, the District cannot rely on one or two individual officers to catch the mistakes of many. MPD needs to improve its understanding and application of laws as applied to bicyclists, and that requires a real, robust, and funded training effort.

We hope that the District’s leadership will view this analysis broadly and conclude that we have a real, systemic problem with MPD training that needs a solution. In the absence of that, we hope that this law–which seems to do nothing but provide an invitation to wrongly cite bicyclists–will be amended or repealed to ensure that the wrongful application stops.

And finally, we hope that this analysis will spur others to help us to evaluate the application of laws to bicyclists and push for improvements. We focused on a single, seldom-used citation in this analysis. There are many other provisions that need exploration, but that will generate much more data and, potentially, require much more investigation and follow-up. If you are interested in focusing on these issues, WABA has applied for and received a $3,000 Advocacy Advance Rapid Response Grant to provide stipend(s) to support this campaign and our efforts to show the need for better training of law enforcement officers in the District.

If you are interested in helping WABA make our streets safer by helping us in this manner, send an email to advocacy@waba.org explaining the approach you would take or provisions of law of interest to you.

And please mark your calendar for the next hearing on bicyclist and pedestrian safety and enforcement before the DC Council Committee on the Judiciary: May 30th at 10am. It is important that as these hearings continue bicyclists continue to show up, tell their stories, and ensure that the Committee and the Council takes bicyclist safety seriously. To sign up to testify, contact Jessica Jacobs at jjacobs@dccouncil.us.

Membership with Benefits? WABA members receive discounts at Bike and Roll

As a WABA member, you benefit in countless ways:

  • From the ever-growing network of bike lanes and trails throughout the region.
  • From the recently-installed bike racks outside your favorite businesses.
  • From the Metro cars and buses that you can take your bike on (on those days you and your bike just need a lift).
  • From the cyclist-protective laws now on the books.
  • From the fast-expanding network of Bikeshare stations.
  • From the  increased number of confident city cyclists on area streets and trails.

By being a WABA member, by supporting our advocacy efforts, you are helping to bring about better bicycling in the region, and thereby, creating the ultimate member benefit: a bicycle-friendly community!

Amazingly though, your member benefits don’t end there. A number of partner businesses, as a thank you for your support of WABA’s work for better bicycling, have kindly extended special benefits to you, our members. We want to let you know more about these additional benefits. Each month we will highlight a different member benefit. Because May is Bike Month, what better member benefit to first highlight than a local bike business:

Bike and Roll

Friends or family in town for the weekend? Wanting to take them out on a trail ride or cruise around the city for an afternoon? Don’t have enough bikes (or the right size or style) to accommodate everyone? Bike and Roll is the answer!  Rent a Bike and Roll bike and explore the Nation’s Capitol. Even better, try out one (or all) of their bike tours, combining history, sites, and/or politics with biking! What could be better than that?  A DISCOUNT! WABA members receive $10 off bike rentals and $10 off bike tours!

Yet, that’s not all. Bike and Roll also regularly partners with WABA to provide free bikes for our Learn to Ride classes.  They truly are a bike-friendly business helping to make the Washington area more bikeable.  Now that’s a member benefit!

 

BikeFest is your chance to win big!

We can’t stress this enough; thanks to generous donors throughout the region; we have…

An incredible raffle and silent auction lineup at BikeFest, INCLUDING 8 BIKES!

So we encourage you to take a moment and browse through our list of the silent auction packages, and raffle items before the big show.

Silent Auction Packages

Package Name

Goodies

Donors

E plurbus Unicycle Unicycle lesson with WABA Staffmember Greg Billing, Citizen Black Chrome messenger bag, your very own copy of BikeSnobNYC’s latest, The Enlightened Cyclist Greg Billing, Chrome messenger bag, BikeSnobNYC, Chronicle Books, KIND Healthy Snacks
50 States Ride Sneak Peek 50 States Ride preview with WABA staffmember Nelle Pierson, (sm/m) Nutcase Helmet, Water bottles, KIND Bars, Sunscreen Nelle Pierson, Nutcase USA, KIND Healthy Snacks
Jazzy ride… All things considered NPR Tour with WABA Board Member, Pedicab Ride, and lunch at Perry’s Emily Littleton, National Pedicab, Perry’s
C&O Canal of Love Overnight stay at C&O Canal Lockhouse No. 6, Bike rack and panniers, Picnic blanket, Bottle of wine, chocolate, and bike lube. Plus 1 yr subscription to Momentum magazine and KIND Healthy Snacks C&O Canal Trust, Tish King, Momentum Magazine, KIND Healthy Snacks.
Rehoboth Summer Classic Pints and Paddles tour; explore the Broadkill River and tour the Dogfish Head Brewery and end the day with dinner at Dogfish Head Flagship Restaurant. 2 Dogfish head jerseys, socks, water bottles, and sign. Plus a box of KIND Healthy Snacks Quest Fitness Kayak Tours, Dogfish Head Brewery, KIND Healthy Snacks
The Georgetowner $50 Gift Card to Cyclelife USA, 2-hour Jack’s Boathouse Kayak rental for 2, $50 Gift Card to Baked & Wired and a box of KIND Healthy Snacks Cyclelife USA, Jack’s Boathouse, Baked & Wired, KIND Healthy Snacks
H Street Cycle Chic(k) Yakkay Helmet,bike basket, and skirt garder, flower pedals, Enlightened Cyclist The Daily Rider, BikeSnob NYC, Chronicle Books,
Health Subscription to SnackPackers (healthy snacks delivered to your work) and 5-class pack to Stroga, Strength + Yoga sessions Stroga, Snackpackers
Classy Commuter Deluxe Burley Travoy commuter trailer Burley
BIKE:
Raleigh Back Alley
Reynolds 520 frame and chromoly fork, Weinmann deep-V rims and Vittoria tires, flip flop between freewheel or fixie drivetrain. Revolution Cycles
BIKE:
Kona Dew
Fast, comfortable and confident geometry, with components designed to stand up to the rigors of daily commuting, including a Kona 7005 aluminum butted frame, Shimano components, Shining rims and Kenda tires. Kona and Bikenetics

BikeBuild LIVE Auction

BIKE:
Papillon Cycles
Vintage Tandem and cycle chic coat Papillon Cycles
BIKE:
Silver Cycles    
Tween Cyclocross seat tube is 43cm, top tube 50cmBest for rider 5’2″ and under or a rider with approximately 26 to 29″ inseam Silver Cycles
BIKE:
Threepenny Bikes
Bamboo Mixte  frame size is equivalent to a 34, two-speed internally geared kick-shift Threepenny Bikes

Raffle

BIKE:
Easy Breezy
Breezer Zig 7 Folding bicycle with 20 inch wheels, frame size fits most. Silver Cycles
Bike Baggin’ It Ortlieb commuter/travel panniers Bike Rack
Coffee Clash $20 Northside Social Gift Certificate & BikeSnob “Enlightened Cyclist” $16.95 Northside Social, BikeSnob NYC and Chronicle Books
Coffee Clash $20 Northside Social Gift Certificate & BikeSnob “Enlightened Cyclist” $16.95 Northside Social, BikeSnob NYC and Chronicle Books
BikeSnob Starter Kit $50 Spokes Etc. & BikeSnob “Enlightened Cyclist” $16.95 Spokes Etc. Chronicle Books
Petal Power Handmade ceramic bike-themed mug $25, flower pedals and $20 gift cert to Northside Social Nelle Design, Silver cycles, Northside social
Biker’s Dozen Bakeshop Gift Certicate for 12 cupcakes ($25) & Momentum Subscription  ($19.95) Bakeshop, Momentum Magazine
Biker’s Dozen Bakeshop Gift Certicate for 12 cupcakes ($25) & Momentum Subscription  ($19.95) Bake Shop, Momentum Magazine
District Hardware $25 gift certificates to District Hardware–The Bike Shop District Hardware
District Hardware $25 gift certificates to District Hardware–The Bike Shop District Hardware
Not Toolin’ Around Park Tools Class $200 value Spokes Etc.
Don’t Mess with X-fit Gift Cert to Arlington Crossfit for Assessment and intro to Crossfit Arlington Crossfit
Cateye Combo Urban Wireless Bike Computer $35.00 Rapid 3 Rear Light $23.00, Automatic “Jido” Front light $35.00 side rear-view mirror $12.00 Cateye
The Triple P 1 Fuji Tire Pump ($59.99) & Pedal Pusher T-shirt size Medium ($19.50) Silver Cycles, Pedal Pushers Cliub
The Triple P 1 Fuji Tire pump ($59.99) & Pedal Pusher Jersey size L ($52.00)  Silver cycles water bottle Silver Cycles, Pedal Pushers Club
Races and Rambles 2 Air Force Cycling Classic VIP Passes ($100), Framed print of country cycling ($50) Arlington Sports Inc., Rob Layborn,  Bruce and Linda Dwyer
Potomac Pedalers & Company Potomac Pedalers membership ($30)  2 jerseys ($25 ea), 1 vintage art  ($50) Potomac Pedalers, Bruce and Linda Dwyer
Phoenix Rising $50 Gift Phoenix Bikes Gift Certificate, T shirt, Water bottle Phoenix Bikes, Henry Dunbar

 

And THIS JUST IN. BicycleSPACE donated 2 custom Tweed Cruisers to the Silent Auction. No words can describe these bikes, so you’ll just have to check them out in person.

If you haven’t purchased tickets yet- get to it! The odds are in your favor- you’re going to have a great time and possibly walk away with some cool prizes!