Candidates on Contributory Negligence

All Walks DC, DC’s Pedestrian Advocacy group, has included a question about contributory negligence on their survey of candidates for DC mayor and DC attorney general. All three   responding candidates for AG and all but one responding candidate for mayor support a comparative negligence standard for vulnerable road users. This growing political consensus is good news as we work to pass the Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014.

Read the All Walks DC candidate surveys: Mayor  |  Attorney General

WABA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, so we can’t endorse candidates.

Announcing WABA’s Future Trails Celebration, Nov 15

It’s a party for trails!  Don’t miss out

Biking in the Washington area is easier and more popular than ever. Multi-use trails, like the W&OD, Anacostia Tributary, Capital Crescent, and Metropolitan Branch are a big part of that explosion, and it is high time we celebrate their success! On Saturday, November 15, join WABA, REI, and trail lovers from around the region for a free celebration of the biking and walking trails that connect our region. It’s a party for the whole family!

Join in the fun & Tell your friends!

Where:  The grassy field at First & Pierce Street NE in NoMa, DC
When:  Saturday, November 15, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Cost: Free!!

Come for music and food, a bike repair clinic, carnival games, face painting and bike fun!  Explore a great trail in the making, and discover the community links in your backyard.  Have some fun with interactive activities and win great raffle prizes, including a free registration on REI’s C&O Canal Overnight Cycling Tour!  And stick around for the release of WABA’s concept plan for the Arlington Boulevard Trail, which outlines a vision for the next regional bike trail project in Northern Virginia.

Bring a bike.  Bring the family.  Celebrate our trails!

Learn more, Then tell your friends

Ask the DC Council to Support the Bicycle Bill

John A. Wilson Building, Washington, DCAs we speak, the insurance industry is lobbying hard to kill proposed legislation aimed at helping injured bicyclists. They like the status quo, which allows them to easily deny claims by bicyclists who have been hit by drivers. But the present system leaves too many injured people without recourse after they’re hit—and it especially affects bicyclists after crashes with automobiles.

It’s time for the DC Council to hear your voice. A proposed bill would make it possible for bicyclists involved in crashes to have their medical bills and damaged bicycle covered by a driver who crashes into them. Under current law if a person contributes in any way to the crash, her claim can be denied. Forty-five states abandoned this doctrine years ago. It’s time for DC to catch up.

Tell the DC Council to update our unfair and out-of-date law.

Last week, the DC Council Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing for the bill. There was overwhelming support for the bill by local residents. Many people testified in favor of expanding the protection to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

This is a rare chance for real change. Please take a minute and contact your Councilmember.

You can learn more about this campaign and read our answered to the 10 most common questions about this proposed law.

Success: No bike ban on streetcar guideways

Good news! DDOT released a second draft of proposed rules regarding streetcars today. This draft no longer includes language banning bicycles from the streetcar guideway.

This is good news for several reasons:

  • It means that this poorly thought out policy won’t be implemented.
  • It avoids setting a precedent that would allow the District to ignore its own Complete Streets policy
  • It reaffirms that the public input process, though frustrating at times, does work. More than 800 of you sent emails to DDOT on this issue, and the agency listened.

This change to the regulations successfully addresses a policy problem, but it doesn’t resolve the underlying design flaw: if you’re not careful, streetcar tracks can be tricky when you are on a bicycle. Keep an eye on where your wheels are, and if you’re riding near the H Street line, consider taking parallel streets when you can. Impress your friends by showing off the nifty contraflow bike lanes on G and I Streets Northeast!

It’s worth noting, too, that WABA caught the proposed bike ban in the first place because we have full time advocacy staff whose job it is to read all this fine print. If you appreciate that work, consider becoming a member or making a donation. We can’t do it without your support!

Whoa! Our First Oversized Check!

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis is part of our Women & Bicycles blog series,  part of WABA’s initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes.  These posts aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming.
Click here to learn more and get involved.


Last week Team Sticky Fingers presented our Women & Bicycles program with an oversized check for $3,000. Yes, $3,000! We were shocked.

Sticky Fingers two

Team Sticky Fingers is a fun-loving group of gals who train like crazy, race like crazy, and consume delicious vegan treats like – any normal person would devour baked goods.

The team is committed to inspiring more women to race bikes. They raised the funds through their sold-out screening of Half the Road, a documentary on the struggles women face in pro racing circuits.

Team Sticky Fingers, thank you for supporting WABA’s work through event collaboration and oversized brightly-colored checks. Your contributions to the community help us get more women biking, no matter if it’s on a bikeshare, hybrid, or pro-grade hand-crafted tapered cold-worked titanium cyclocross bike!


So much bike love,






Proposed Sidewalk Biking Ban: Bad Bill, Good Opportunity.

Yesterday, Councilmember Jim Graham introduced a bill that would ban bicyclists from riding on the sidewalk in the District wherever there is a bike lane in the same direction. In the accompanying press release, Graham cites as a reason for the bill the death of 78-year old Quan Chu, who was struck by a bicyclist while walking with his wife. This event was tragic, but it did not take place on a sidewalk.

We recognize that as more people bike and walk in the District, it is important to have clear norms for interactions between bicyclists and pedestrians to keep people safe. We also recognize that the present regulation of bicyclists on the sidewalk makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

For those who don’t know, the present system is to:

  1. prohibit bikes in an arbitrarily shaped “Central Business District,”
  2. place no signage telling anyone where that is,
  3. place bike parking and actual bikeshare stations on the sidewalks in that zone, then
  4. occasionally have MPD ticket bicyclists for using the bike infrastructure the District placed on the sidewalk in the area where the District prohibits sidewalk riding.

It is tempting to simply oppose Graham’s bill because it’s out of touch with the realities of urban riding—we need safe alternatives for novice cyclists when bike lanes are blocked or other safety needs would lead a cyclist to leave the roadway.  But simply opposing any legislation to deal with the sidewalk issue would be a missed opportunity to improve and rationalize the District’s regulation of the relationship between bicyclists and pedestrians.

To do that, we need to insist on evidence-based policy that accounts for real behaviors and real safety needs. We can’t just assume that because a bike lane exists, bicycling there is safe at all times. Similarly, we can’t just assume that because a sidewalk exists, bicycling is unsafe there at all times. Rather, we need to dig into the details and plan for pedestrians and bicyclists with a data-driven approach that accounts for congestion levels and actual safety.

We need to avoid the hyperbolic rhetoric about crashes that, while sad, are not relevant to the bill. And we need to avoid the knee-jerk reaction to take away portions of the public space from vulnerable users due to unsubstantiated fears and biases. Instead, let’s invest our energy in taking policy steps that would actually make pedestrians safer on the sidewalks and bicyclists safer on physically protected infrastructure.

We would like to work with our legislators and pedestrian advocates to improve the District’s regulation of public space for public safety. But this bill presents a lazy one-size-fits-all approach that assumes a bike lane is “good enough” to foreclose other options for people who bike, and we know that simply isn’t how things work in the real world. At a minimum, the bill should be amended to only ban sidewalk riding where there is a physically protected, unobstructed bike lane (also called a cycletrack). But we would prefer an approach that involved DDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian staff in examining sidewalk widths, bike/ped travel rates, and congestion to more sensibly address the issue.

Adding this bike-lane-based ban to the current silly system only makes the system sillier–ensuring that it won’t be enforced or paid attention by anyone. I challenge Councilmember Graham and his colleagues on the Council, if this issue is an issue they wish to focus on, to invest the effort to produce a bill that will rationalize our policy and improve public safety.

This bill doesn’t do that, and WABA therefore opposes it. But we remain eager to participate in crafting a bill that would address Councilmember Graham’s underlying concern in a more comprehensive and data-driven way, in hopes of improving safety for all.

Meanwhile, we’ll keep our focus on the solutions for the hundreds of pedestrians and bicyclists hit and injured by automobiles each year in the District (427 at the time of this writing). We invite our elected officials to take a leadership role in solving that problem as well.

A Fuller Description of the Contributory Negligence Problem for Bicyclists

Clicking the link below will take those who are interested to a post that more fully articulates the problems contributory negligence poses for bicyclists. It’s a long read, but I’ve received many questions and decided to write this fuller post on Medium (1) in hopes that it reaches new readers, and (2) to allow readers to engage via Medium’s commenting feature.

The Duties of Prescience & Perfection