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