Introducing Bikes to Borrow LLC, a WABA Business Member

We’ve recently introduced you to our business membership programWe debuted the program in 2012 and are steadily signing up new business members in 2014. As part of the program, we’d like to introduce you to some of our business members. Today, meet Bikes to Borrow

Bikes to Borrow started in 2006 when a bike shop employee saw a need for bike rentals in the District. While Capital Bikeshare was and is a great option for many, some riders wanted other bikes to choose from while visiting the area. Bikes to Borrow stocks hybrid, road, children’s models, and even cargo bikes and trailers for families with little children. They also offer rentals of an action camera! They recently started making their deliveries using an electric vehicle as well.

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Bikes to Borrow electric vehicle delivery

Bikes to Borrow is committed to increasing cycling in our area. They have blogged about local and national advocacy and continue to support local bike infrastructure and bike shops. We are proud to call Bikes to Borrow a WABA Business Member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

10 Questions about Contributory Negligence, answered

The Council of the District of Columbia is considering legislation to exempt bicyclists and pedestrians from the contributory negligence standard. Last week, we wrote about the proposed legislation and the upcoming hearing on September 29th. Since then, we’ve received a number of questions about what the proposed law would do. Below, you’ll find our answers for the most common questions we’ve encountered.

But first, here is a reminder about the upcoming hearing:

DC Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety Hearing
September 29th, 2014 at 12:30 pm
Wilson Building, Room 500
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20004
View the hearing notice (PDF)
Please email Nicole Goines or call 202-724-7808 to sign up to testify.

We are hosting a conference call on Sept. 23rd at 7pm to answer questions about testifying on this issue. Email advocacy@waba.org if you’d like to join the call.

What is being proposed in this bill?

The Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014 (bill and legislative history) exempts physically vulnerable roadways users (bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users) from the doctrine of contributory negligence, which holds that no one who is deemed at fault in any way for a crash can recover any damages after a crash.

Under current law, what happens after a crash?

Generally, after a crash between a bicyclist and a motorist, there is an injured bicyclist and an uninjured motorist. So the cyclist often will seek compensation for injuries from the motorist and the motorist’s insurer. If everyone involved agrees that the cyclist behaved perfectly and the driver was completely at fault, the cyclist will be able to recover compensation. Unfortunately, such agreement is rare.  If the cyclist was at fault to any degree, or if the insurer or a police officer believes the cyclist was at fault through misunderstanding or misapplying the law, the cyclist will not be able to recover compensation for injuries suffered in the crash. This is true even if the crash was 1% the cyclist’s fault, 99% the motorist’s fault, and all of the injuries were suffered by the cyclist.

How will this change under the proposed bill?

Crashes between motorists and vulnerable road users will be governed by a form of comparative negligence in which each party is able to recover for the other party’s negligence, but not from his or her own.

For example: a motorist exiting her vehicle at night opens her driver’s side door into the bike lane, striking a cyclist who had no light at night. The motorist’s door is not damaged and the motorist is unharmed, but the cyclist suffers a broken arm from the fall and ends up with $1000 in medical bills.

Under the present contributory negligence standard, the cyclist’s failure to have a light would prevent all recovery of damages. even though the motorist broke the law by opening her door into traffic.

Under the new bill, the decision-maker (whether judge, jury, or insurance adjuster) would have to determine the proportionate fault of the parties and determine the damages accordingly. So, if the decision-maker finds that the unlawful opening of the door into the bike lane without looking was 75% responsible for the injury and the failure to have a light was 25% responsible for the injury, the injured cyclists could recover 75% of her damages, or $750–for the portion that was the motorist’s fault.

Contributory negligence applies to all sorts of situations. Does the proposed law change the standard for all cases?

The proposed law creates an exemption from contributory negligence only for vulnerable road users in crashes with motor vehicles.

Have other states changed their negligence standard?

Forty-five states, and the federal court system have adopted comparative negligence as a basis for apportioning fault between parties in tort suits.

How many states still retain the contributory negligence standard?

Currently, just four states (including both Maryland and Virginia) and the District of Columbia continue to use contributory negligence as a bar to recovery and access to courts.

Is there any precedent in current law for an exemption such as the one being proposed?

Yes, current District of Columbia law extends additional legal protection of comparative negligence to railroad workers.

If I’m following traffic laws to the best of my abilities and I am involved in a crash, could I still have my medical bills and damages reduced or totally denied?

Yes. Poor descriptions in accident reports, wrongly issued tickets, and misunderstandings or misapplication of bicycling laws can result in insurance companies denying claims for medical expenses.

Who benefits from this bill becoming law?

Vulnerable road users and motorists alike benefit from the equitable distribution of damages resulting from a collision. Comparative negligence facilitates the recovery of medical expenses or repair costs without long and costly litigation or arbitration. The apportionment of damages creates a limit on the amount of damages which can be recovered. The amount of recovery is ascertainable by looking at the extent of the damage and the percentage of each party’s fault. This is more predictable than jury awards and less harsh than the all or nothing system under contributory negligence.

So who loses if this bill becomes law?

Insurance companies, who presently are not required to pay for the negligence of their insured if the other party is negligent (to any degree). Contributory negligence is not an economically efficient or fair method for determining compensation after crashes because it leaves injured parties who were not primarily responsible for their injuries uncompensated and allows the insurers of the primarily negligent party to avoid compensating the injured.

 

If you have further questions about this proposed legislation and its effects, please email advocacy@waba.org

 

Tour the Unbuilt Met Branch Trail’s 2nd Phase

Next Saturday, September 20th, come take a walk with WABA’s trail advocates on the planned but unbuilt route of the Metropolitan Branch Trail in NE DC.  The existing and interim 8.5 mile trail from Union Station to Silver Spring Is already a hub for neighborhood recreation and a major commuter route, drawing bicyclists from Silver Spring and beyond.  But the unbuilt second phase, between Fort Totten and Takoma, remains a significant gap in the trail network.  Join us Saturday at 1 pm to see where the trail will go, what it will look like, and what stands between the interim route we have today and the seamless trail of tomorrow.

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Met Branch Trail Phase two in blue. Click for a larger map.

One of the most common questions we get these days is “When will the Met Branch Trail be finished?”  The simplest answer is that while projects of this magnitude take time, progress is being made.

The Met Branch Trail that we have today is the result of over twenty five years of steadfast effort from committed residents, advocates, and planners through a lengthy public process.  Construction, too, spread for over a decade with early segments opening as early as 2004 (Michigan Ave to Ft. Totten Drive) and as recently as August of 2013 (Monroe St. to the Brookland Metro).

Today the trail boasts 4.2 off-street miles stretching from Union Station to Fort Totten Park and a short span in Montgomery County.  This spring, the District added a half a mile protected bike lane through NoMa as an additional southern option, and in the coming fall and winter, a connection to Florida Ave NE and a bridge to the the Rhode Island Metro are expected to open.

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Breakdown of what is built, under construction, in design, and yet to come

While there is plenty of progress to celebrate and enjoy (thousands of MBT users do each month), there remains a substantial gap in the trail between Fort Totten and the District line.  And though the interim on street route offers mostly quiet streets, it is no substitute for a fully separated trail.  In July, we received the exciting news of small steps toward design of this large missing link.  This Saturday, we invite you to join us for a block by block tour of the trail’s proposed route, design challenges, and next steps.

Sign up here


This tour is the first of three trail tours this fall.  Join us in October for a look at two other crucial trail priorities and a glimpse of what the region’s trail network could become.  This tour series is made possible thanks to REI.

September 20 – Unbuilt Met Branch Trail Walking Tour

October 4 – Southeast DC’s Unbuilt Trails Bike Tour

October 11 – Washington Annapolis & Baltimore Trail Bike Tour

Meet the 2014 class of WABA instructors

We’re fortunate to have 16 excellent instructor candidates in our 2014 certification class. This weekend we had them all in one place for the first part of their training — a Traffic Skills 101 class.

Meet them in the photos below, and wish them luck in the next phase of the program, a three day seminar in October. Once they are fully trained, they’ll be teaching WABA classes and leading rides in the spring!

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Announcing a Trails Advocacy Partnership with REI

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At the end of last year, we offered up a list of things that was our “wish list” of projects we had on our minds for many months. Our most ambitious goal was to raise enough money to start planning for a Regional Trail Summit and Advocacy project And thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we came up with enough seed money to lay the groundwork.

But this is what happens when people start hearing about what WABA wants to do: people get inspired, they get excited and they want to build on what we begin. After hearing about our vision, not just for a trail summit, but for a larger, longer term project, we got another big boost: REI, a nationally recognized leader in outdoor recreation, community involvement and global stewardship,  invited us to apply for one of their grants. In January, we prepared an expanded grant proposal which included a full advocacy campaign, a summit with participants from all over the region, multiple trail tours, a concept plan for a new trail connection, public visioning sessions and online engagement.

Over the summer, we were thrilled to learn that we did indeed receive a grant from REI to cover almost all the costs of this expanded trail advocacy and summit vision. With what WABA will contribute in staff time, we now have the resources to launch a very robust and focused trail advocacy campaign. Thanks to the REI grant, all of the resources that come from this effort will become advocacy tools that we can use to build a case for expanded trails for years to come. Without the REI grant opportunity, we would not have been able to fund such a comprehensive advocacy program. Thank you REI!

To get the ball rolling, we’ve scheduled three tours with our advocacy team on three different trail systems. Please join us as we begin the process to help our trails get to the full potential of a completed and expanded trail circuit.

Contributory What?

Often referred to as the “one percent” rule, the Contributory Negligence doctrine prohibits you from recovering damages (money) from a crash if a court thinks you are in any way responsible for the crash.

A few examples of what this looks like:

  • You slow down and look, but roll through a four-way stop, then a drunk driver runs the sign and crashes into you.
  • You get doored, and a police officer incorrectly tickets you for riding too close to parked cars.
  • The battery on your blinky tail light dies while you’re riding home from work, and a texting driver veers into the bike lane and crashes into you.

In any of these cases, you may not be able to collect any compensation for your smashed up bike, your broken leg, or the days of work you missed while you were healing.

Only four states (Maryland and Virginia among them) and the District of Columbia retain this outdated legal doctrine.

DC Councilmember David Grosso recently introduced the “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014″ to update DC law to the fairer, more modern Comparative Negligence standard for crashes between drivers and bicyclists or pedestrians.  This means your compensation would be reduced to the extent the you were responsible for the crash, but not eliminated entirely.  Most of the rest of the country has already adopted this more sensible standard.

Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells are also co-introducing the bill. The legislation has been referred to the DC Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, which will hold a public hearing on the bill at the end of the month. If you or other bicyclists you know have been hit and had your insurance claim reduced or denied, please consider testifying.

DC Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety Hearing
September 29th, 2014 at 12:30 pm
Wilson Building, Room 500
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20004
View the hearing notice (PDF)
Please call Nicole at 202-724-7808 to sign up to testify.

We are hosting a conference call on Sept. 23rd at 7pm to answer questions about testifying on this issue. Email advocacy@waba.org if you’d like to join the call.

If you don’t have personal experience with this issue, please sign-up now to receive updates and we will let you know when there is an opportunity to take action in support of the legislation.

Learn more about the “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014″ our advocacy campaign page. We will be posting additional information the campaign page in the coming weeks, including an FAQ early next week.

Introducing DC Shirt & Print Co., a WABA Business Member

We’ve recently introduced you to our business membership programWe debuted the program in 2012 and are steadily signing up new business members in 2014. As part of the program, we’d like to introduce you to some of our business members. Today, meet DC Shirt & Print Co. 

DC Shirt & Print Co. is a locally owned and operated full service screen print business specializing in high quality printed teeshirts and apparel. DC Shirt & Print is located near the Takoma Park Metro Station in NW D.C. DC Shirt and Print Co. prides itself on having great customer service coupled with awesome t-shirt making!

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DC Shirt & Print Co. facility.

You know those awesome 50 States & 13 Colonies Ride shirts? Those are DC Shirt and Print Co. How about the bright green WABA Instructor polos? Also a DC Shirt & Print Co. product. DC Shirt & Print Co. has been WABA’s go-to shirt source for a couple years now and we are so happy to expand our relationship with them. We are proud to call DC Shirt & Print Co. a WABA Business Member.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

NPS Begins Arlington Memorial Circle Planning

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Navigating the Arlington Memorial Circle is a major obstacle for area bicyclists. The Mount Vernon Trail, Route 110 Trail and Arlington Memorial Bridge (the direct connection to the National Mall) converge at the circle. Trail users are forced to dash across high speed traffic at grade to cross the many highways, parkways and the traffic circle. There were a number of serious crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists in 2010 and 2011, leading NPS to make some short-term safety fixes to trail crossing.

Now, the George Washington Memorial Parkway is starting a Transportation Plan and Environmental Assessment to study the long-term and major fixes need to vastly improve safety and the park experience for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers. The planning process will take almost two years to complete with a final decision document not expected until the summer of 2016.

There are a number of opportunities in September to learn more about the planning process. National Park Service is also accepting comments until September 30th during this initial phase. Visit the National Park Service Park Planning website to learn more about how to get involved.

Hey. Come ride with us!

Take on the fall with WABA’s education ride series!

When it comes to learning about biking, nothing beats real-world experience, so we’re embarking on a series of four rides — each covering a different topic or theme that will help you get around the city.

Our rides are certain to be a good time, but they’re also a safe space to practice riding with people who live and breathe (and teach) this stuff every day. Come to tour DC, come to ride, come to ask any of your deepest, darkest, secret-est bike questions, and come to have fun.

Still not sure? Did we mention that each ride will end at one of DC’s premier taco establishments?

Click on a ride below to register — advance registration costs 10 bucks a person, but you can join us for free on the day of, providing we still have space. Bring a bike, wear your helmet, and read the fine print here.

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First up, we have our Ch-ch-ch-changes Ride on Wednesday, Sept. 17th! This ride is all about preparing for what comes next when you’re on your bike. We’ll be riding from trails to roads, from bike lanes to open lanes, and from Northeast to Northwest, all while summer changes to fall around us. Get ready to reinvent yourself and change the way you ride!

Starts at 6:30 p.m. @ M Street NE, between 1st Street NE and 2nd Street NE, in front of the NoMa Metro station

Ends at 8:00 p.m. @ Taqueria Nacional (14th and T Street NW)

Every other Wednesday, we’ll be setting off to explore riding in DC. And these rides are just the beginning. Next year, we’ll have a whole new series!

Check ‘em out:

On Wednesday, October 1st:

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And on Wednesday, October 15th:

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And finally, on Wednesday, October 29th:

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What is an everyday superpower?

If you’ve poked around our educational materials lately, maybe you’ve seen our fall 2014 class campaign, which is about superpowers. Everyday ones, specifically.

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What does this mean, and what does it have to do with biking?

Traditional superheroes, like one of my favorites, Spiderman, practice more explicit forms of vigilante justice — fighting bad guys that the cops just can’t get to.

But our campaign isn’t about flying around in a cape — it’s about the small ways that we can empower ourselves, and others, by biking in the DMV and doing so responsibly. Everyone has an everyday superpower — it might include one of the little things that you do to make your day special, that get you out of your routine, that improve your quality of life.

You’ll notice that our superheroes are creative, vibrant, and, yes, law-abiding folk. They’re expressing themselves through biking, but they’re also working with existing systems to make things better.

Take a look at our superheroes below. Or collect them all around town. Finally, take a city cycling class and get your own superpower!

Bonus points if you email us your own everyday superpower.

With great power comes great responsibility,

The WABA Education Team

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Thanks to Anna Bavier, Elizabeth Willis, Eileen Matos, WT Chen, Mike Decker, Heather Vetting, Sarah Rice Scott, Lesly Jones, Tiffany Lam, Anica Allen, Edgar Gil Rico, Will Stowe, Delores Simmons, Ben Strahs, Chelsey Pas, and Elizabeth Lyttleton for making these photos happen.