Housing Complex

New Law Treats Cyclists More Like Pedestrians

war_on_cars-1 Good news, D.C. cyclists: Much of the illegal behavior you've been engaging in is about to become legal.

Ever find yourself impatient after a long red light and crossing the intersection when the pedestrian light flashes to go, but before the main one does? Technically, you can't do that—but soon you'll be able to.

Like those four-way pedestrian signals in Chinatown and Columbia Heights that let you cross the street on two wheels while drivers wait? Well, you're supposed to wait with them—but not for much longer.

Didn't bother installing a bell on your bike? You've been breaking the law—but soon you'll be able to make do with just your booming voice.

On Thursday, Mayor Vince Gray signed the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013, which will soon become law unless our congressional overlords decide to object for some reason. The bill states:

(a) A bicyclist may cross at an intersection while following the pedestrian traffic control signal for the bicyclist’s direction of travel unless otherwise directed by traffic signs or traffic control devices.
(b) A bicyclist may cross an intersection where a leading pedestrian interval is used.

Likewise, the bill, introduced by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh and Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, stipulates that cyclists will be treated like pedestrians in two other ways: They'll no longer have to ride armed with bells, provided their voices can carry for at least 100 feet, and there are newly created driving infraction categories for failure to yield to a bicyclist and for colliding with a bicycle.

Additionally, if street construction projects block bike or pedestrian paths, the city is required to provide a suitable detour.

(h/t WABA)

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Gran Ola

    More banal bs from Cheh and the drunkard.

    How is it that bikes, which are vehicles, have the same considerations as pedestrians? Bikes do not have feet hence have are not "ped" anything.

    What are the new " infraction categories"? From Cheh something like "driving while being something other than nasty and pretentiously pseudo intellectual" or "driving while pretty"? Of course from Tosspot it will be illegal to drive while sober!

  • ROTFLMAO

    @Gran Ola

    Hilarious... and so true!

    And what about biking while talking on a cellphone?

  • Kevin

    Good changes. Letting bikes go with the walk signal gives us a little head start on the vehicles. And the elimination of bike lanes for construction in high traffic areas has created real dangers (14th and U is harrowing right now because of construction). It's also nice to hear drivers can now be ticketed for failing to yield right-of-way to a cyclist.

    To "Grand Ola" who wrote: "How is it that bikes, which are vehicles, have the same considerations as pedestrians? Bikes do not have feet hence have are not "ped" anything."

    Because they just made laws saying so (in these limited instances). That's how these things work. Get over it.

  • Dave

    Since bikers now want to be treated like pedestrians again, does that mean no more riding in the middle of the street and being inconsiderate by blocking lanes of traffic?

  • Dave

    Cheh and Wells are just special interest hounds and will sign onto anything to get their names in the paper.

  • Gnat_for_life

    My gut tells me the motivation behind this legislation is to provide incentive for more people to ditch their autos in favor of pedals...

    As someone who regularly bikes to work, I'm not biting; my own belief is that cyclists should mind the rules of the road & that pedestrians (of the walking variety) ultimately preserve the "right of way".

  • noodlez

    I'VE RIDDEN BIKES IN D.C. SINCE 1978. EVEN DID THE DELIVERY THING IN DOWNTOWN DC AND K ST FOR A SUMMER WHERE SIDEWALK RIDING WAS BLATENT HOWEVER NEVER HAD I EXPERIENCED SUCH IGNORANT BIKE RIDERS AND BIKE RIDING IN THE CITY AND THOSE TWO BOZO'S ARE MAKING IT WORSE!!!

    IN INSTITUTING THESE RULES THERE SHOULD ALSO BE CALLS FOR ENFORCEMENT FOR THOSE RIDERS THAT BREAK CURRENT LAWS. PLAYING FROGGER THRU INTERSECTIONS, RUNNING LIGHTS AND NO REGARD FOR PEDESTRIANS SHOULD CURBED BY TICKETS, FINES AND BIKE CONFISCATION.

    THIS FUCKING SHIT HAS GOTTEN OUT OF HAND!

    WELLS KNOWS HE IS ON HIS WAY OUT AND ATTEMPTING TO PLANT SOME SEEDS FOR 2018 RUN. CHEH DO NOTHING ASS WILL BE CHALLENGED AS WELL!

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  • John

    Cheh and Wells are trying to stay popular with the bike and environmental groups and do not care what is best for the city. Everyone is getting tired of this special treatment of the minority of the population - the bikers. This does not lead to safety for bikers as they break the rules and get more arrogant and do whatever they please. If you build bike paths for the safety of the bikers tell them they must use those paths. If that is not your transportation plan then stop wasting space and money on bike paths. If a biker is on the road they have to follow the rules of the road the same as a car. If they ride on the sidewalk they have to give greater consideration to pedestrians who can be hit and injured. Register all the bikes and give tickets to those who continuously ride through red lights etc. and break the law. Then monitor bike paths and take away those that are not used and stop pretending if we build it they will come.

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  • Crickey7

    Let's repeat. Bike infrastructure and tweaks in the law do not create bike scofflaws. That old whine has separate roots, ones based in a willful ignorance of rates of lawbreaking among various modes.

    Bikes absolutely have to follow the rules of the road. And when they do not, they get ticketed at a good clip, thousands per year in DC. Not having a separate and unnecessary "bike license" does not, I assure you, hinder police enforcement. Meanwhile, observed lawbreaking rates by drivers have been creeping down because of the red light and speed cameras so that they are only roughly twice the observed lawbreaking rates by cyclists.

  • ron525i

    THis is a good first step as it recognizes that bikes has similarities to both pedestrians and vehicles. I've long thought there there needs to be a middle ground in the traffic laws that apply to bikes such as having to slow but not stop at red lights or stop signs as long as by doing so you don't impede other traffic. It seems that by such recognition it may encourage compliance or it may be a "give them an inch they take a mile" situation, but worth discussing.

    And it you build it, they will come. 15th st was underused when first built and now it's like a bike highway.

  • muskellunge

    This codifies what has been common practice. Really, this is not news -- no bicyclist has EVER been ticketed for riding with out a bell. Come to think of it, has any bicyclist been ticketed for anything? Ever?

  • Alex

    Yes, the MPD have held blitzes where cyclists were ticketed for running stop signs. One was about a month ago on 11th street.

  • muskellunge

    "MPD have held blitzes..."

    Officer: Sir, you just ran a red light. What is your name? I need to see your ID or driver's license."
    Bicyclist: My name is 'John Doe.' Sorry, I left my ID at home. But I don't need a license to ride a bike.
    Officer: Well anyway, here's a ticket for running a red light. Sign here.
    Bicyclist: [after signing as "John Doe"] I will be more careful, sir.

  • OhOh!

    Bikes are not cars- specific rules should be adopted & this is a good start. Bicycles may take the full lane on any street (not highways) in the District- often it is the safest thing to do, particularly when there is construction or a single, narrow lane available. Bikers get ticketed at a greater rate than drivers- & I did pay my fine when I was issued one for slow-rolling through a stop sign that several cars buzzed through just ahead of me. Bikes are superior to cars for urban transport- get over it already.

  • noodlez

    @MUSKET-NO BIKE GETS CONFISCATED!

    SHOW UP AT LOCAL POLICE PRECINCT WITH I.D. AND BANK CARD TO GET SAID BIKE BACK.

    THIS GOTS TO BE NIPPED IN THE BUDD. RIGHT NOW.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/22/denmark-happiest-country_n_4070761.html?ref=topbar være glade tæver

    The more this city of troglodytes evolves to support bicyclists, the fewer cranky unhappy people we'll have to troll on these comments. Automobilists should thank pedalers who make more of their precious subsidized street car parking and astronomically expensive under ground car spaces available.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/22/denmark-happiest-country_n_4070761.html?ref=topbar

    Pedalers are just a distraction from automobilists shooting each other:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/27/road-rage-killing-vermont/2883173/

  • DCBird

    @ron525i nails it.

    Bikes aren't cars. Bikes aren't pedestrians. They have similarities to both, and as a result, in some cases should have rules that are specific to the way people operate bikes.

    Bikes should get some consideration to advance before a light starts to get a head start on cars, which is safer, especially when turning or merging back into a bike lane. They should be allowed to slow and yield at stop signs, and stop and yield at red lights, proceeding only after there are not any other cars or bikes that have the right of way.

    But irresponsible behavior - blowing through lights, not yielding ROW, dodging through pedestrian filled crosswalks, weaving in and out of traffic, and generally being a dick - should be ticketed and other cyclists should create social barriers against the kind of behavior that makes some people hate them.

  • saywhat14

    WTF- they better have insurance, DDOT has gone to damn far!

  • Crickey7

    To be sure, no one should break the law. But I am no more responsible for other cyclists' actions that any driver is for the mass of lawbreaking drivers. Your suggestion is part of the meme that cyclists need to earn respect in order to be allowed to share the road.

    Unfortunately, that ship has sailed. The law says we have an equal right to use the road, period. It's not contingent on anything.

  • muskellunge

    "I did pay my fine"

    I applaud your citizenship. Not all bicyclists will make this *choice*.

  • ceefer

    @være glade tæver,

    Here are some facts (oh, those pesky facts!) about "subsidized street parking" in DC:

    DDOT’s entire budget last year was around 127 million dollars. Its road paving and maintenance budget a was a fraction of that ($35 million).

    Revenue from parking meters was $40 million, and parking ticket revenue was another $92 million.

    Parking meter revenue ALONE more than pays for the cost to maintain DC’s streets. Add in parking ticket revenue and total parking revenue actually exceeds DDOTs ENTIRE yearly budget.

    And that doesn't even include revenue from the RPP permits that many car-haters are crying about being "too cheap".

    So here's the reality: Parking in DC isn’t anyone's "subsidy", pal. It's a profit center.

    And here's another inconvenient truth: Since DC refuses to build municipal parking, those "astronomically expensive under ground car spaces" are financed entirely by private developers who charge drivers a fee to use them. By no means are they "subsidized" by the public.

    This ridiculous car-hate driven war on drivers is constantly being promoted by people like you who don't know what you're talking about.

    Finally, if you think Denmark such a "happy place", why are you here?

  • CD

    I agree and disagree with a lot of the comments. I am a driver and a pedestrian in DC. Cyclists are a hazard particularly the ones using Bikeshare. It's like they are traipsing through a field of daisies without a care in the world. They have their earbuds (and they may be talking on cell phones), they don't signal and they basically don't give a d..n. I think it irresponsible of the City to hold drivers responsible for the antics of bunch of spoiled 20-30 year olds. How do you test somebody to be sure that his/her voice can be heard 200 ft away? Give me a break.

  • noodlez

    THANKS CEEF!!!

    COMMENT #16 FALLS ON IT'S FACE MAKING A WACK ARGUMENT.
    THIS CITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN BIKE FRIENDLY THUS THE LIGHTWEIGHT BLOW BACK WHEN FLENTY WENT ALL IN ON LIVABLE, WALKABLE, BIKEABLE. FOLK AREN'T TRIPPING ABOUT BIKE'S AND LANES BUT THEY ARE TRIPPING ABOUT HOW THEY JUMPED THE LINE AND BECAME THE DC GOV'T TEACHER'S PET.

    SO GLADE AIR FRESHENER EXACTLY HOW DO YOU THINK THOSE BIKE LANES WERE CREATED? BY SOME SORT OF BIKE TAX, HELMET TAX OR BIKE BELL TAX??? YOU THINK WMATA IS GIVING UP MONEY SO FOLKS CAN RIDE BIKES INSTEAD OF USING WMATA? SLIM YOUR COMMENT #16 AND IT'S REASONING IS PART AND PARCEL OF THE PROBLEM.

    ALSO, WHEN YOU START COMPARING W.D.C. TO ANOTHER CITY YOU AUTOMATICALLY LOSE CREDIBILITY AND YOUR ROAD RAGE ARGUMENT IS ASININE!

    F.Y.I. ROAD RAGE IS SELF INDUCED!
    TO SAY SOMEONE OR SOMETHING ELSE CAUSES ONE TO COMMIT A FORM OF AGGRESSION SHOWS THAT PERSON LACKS SANITY! NO PASSENGER VEHICLE HAS MORE RIGHT TO THE ROAD THAN ANY OTHER PASSENGER VEHICLE.

  • ROTFLMAO

    @ceefer

    There you go again, confusing people with the facts! ;^)

    Keep up the good work.

  • Terp Fan

    The comments here a priceless. EVERY mode of transportation in the area has some bad apples. People selectively picking out one or another claiming that it has the worst are naive at best, or intentionally misleading at worst.

    The difference between each mode is the level of damage or injury it can inflict (Metro being an anamoly of sorts). Car>bike>jogger>walking pedestrian>baby in stroller. So not surprising the toughnss of the law mirrors that scenario. Drivers are idiots who think they should somehow be ahead of everyone despite driving 2ton hunks of steel at high rates of speed. Cyclists are idiots if they think their 150-200lbs at 15mph doesn't have any impact. And pedestrians who ignore the first two are attempting to win a Darwin award.

  • SEis4ME

    Hard to argue that Wells is pandering to the lycra crowd.

    But comparing cyclists to pedestrians is a rather ridiculous way to create uniformity and an environment where everyone realizes that we must share roads.

    Wells and many of those who support him most definitely encourage the anti-driver meme found around the city.

    Very unfortunate but it won't be forgotten.

  • samantha

    DC drivers must defend themselves. The Congress Must Kill THis Legislation ! This is discriminatory based on the facts that vehicles must be registered , carry liability insurance and Residential parking permits based on location .Many drivers are elderly . business persons and families transporting children .
    Persons commuting in the metro area to work ,worship,shop and enjoy the federal city and other entertainment venues should not be held hostage in terms of movement and access .Tourist are at the mercy of people who get eleced to chang laws to exempt cycilist from rules of the road .A bike is a vehicle when on the roads in DC and should not be given any break that other operators do not enjoy by law . We are required to follow the rules . Cars, trucks, busses do not drive on sidewalks ,run through and into pedestrians , pay no parking fees if designated . Your lights,horn and other requirments for licensure of the vehicle and operator must be met . Fines and points are an act extortion and a thoughtless payoff to lawbreakers who the sponsors and supporters on the council think will vote for them as they refuse to protect the auto owners and drivers who are the tax base.This should only stand as a law if ALL BIKES ARE REGISTERED , LIABILITY INSURANCE REQUIRED,HELMENTS AND SAFETY DEVICES REQUIRED ,PAID PARKING ONLY IN DESIGNATED AREAS , REMOVAL OF SPECIAL LANES . There can be no use of our fees to discriminate against vehicle operators and to give these bikers cover to continue to break the laws as sanctioned by Cheh and Wells.
    Call your insurance carriers,AAA ,AARP and members of the House Oversight Committee to KILL THIS BILL. Every member of Congress and their constituents who come to our city is impacted . STOP THE COUNCIL MADNESS . DO WE HAVE OUR OWN CRUZ AND PALIN WHO HATE DC DRIVERS ?

  • ceefer

    You're absolutely right.

    Frankly, DC's catering to bicyclists has gotten out of hand. I hope you guys remember this next election.

  • ceefer

    So if I'm walking, my hearing had better be good enough to hear some guy on a bike 100 feet away yelling "Get the hell out of way!".

    Otherwise I'm dead, it's my fault, the cyclist walks (no pun intended), and the bike apologists get on comments boards and blogs to assert their entitlement and insult anyone who disagrees.

    Pretty much like that poor woman who was killed last year because she didn't hear some guy on a bike yell "on your left" while she was walking on a damn TRAIL.

  • http://westnorth.com PCC

    While the anonymous motorhead troll brigade rolls on, so blinded by rage that they don't notice the world around them...

    This just codifies what is already legal practice along 15th St. NW, where the signs tell bikes to use pedestrian signals. AFAIK, the world did not end when that happened. In fact, nothing happened: nobody was hurt, much less killed, and because the cycletrack has encouraged bicycling, one could even argue that it's improved the city's overall health, safety, and welfare. The world will not end when this practice is legalized citywide.

    Fact: cars kill 6,000 pedestrians a year in America. Beds kill more Americans than bikes do. It's utterly fantastic to think that bikes are a menace to life & limb.

  • www

    i don't understand why some people think that bikes should be treated exclusively as cars or exclusively as pedestrians.
    they're bikes. it's a different kind of transportation entirely. laws regarding bikes should recognize this.

    i'm both a driver and a biker in this city. i see ample room for both modes and don't think there is a war on either. i do see the city desperately trying to get drivers to slow down. i don't have a problem with this.

  • gotryit

    So there's a lot of hate on bicyclists from some commenters here. But not a lot of specifics on why these are bad laws. Just a general hate of different laws for bicycles. Of course there are differences between bikes and cars - that just makes sense.
    Bicyclists don't wear seatbelts and can't ride on I-395 and drivers under whatever age (16?) don't have to wear helmets and can't drive on the metropolitan branch trail. So these are a few more.
    No bells and starting at the same time as pedestrians? Big deal.
    ceefer - let's just not run into eachother ok? I'll be courteous when passing on a multi-use trail, and you remember that you're on a multi-use trail, not in a field picking daisies.

  • Gnat_for_life

    NOODLESS - STAY A GNAT!!

  • Crickey7

    The poor lady who was killed on the trail did, in fact, hear the cyclist give the standard trail warning. And she pivoted and walked into the path of the cyclist, who, according to the police, did absolutely nothing wrong. Not excessive speed, in control, gave warning, stayed with the accident victim.

    It's tragic when someone dies as a result of an accident they caused. It's obscene when someone twists the facts of their death to make points diametrically opposed to those facts.

  • ceefer

    With the exception of noodlez, ALL of the hate, snark, and name-calling is coming from cyclists.

    ALL of it.

    As usual.

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  • ceefer

    @Crickey7,

    "It's tragic when someone dies as a result of an accident they caused"

    Your response to my comment about the incident that caused the death of that lady is a case in point why many if not most people detest DC area cyclists.

    You people NEVER admit you're wrong. You ALWAYS blame the other person. In your minds, EVERY incident involving a bicycle and a driver or pedestrian is ALWAYS the other person's fault.

    You have been one of the most vocal if not the most vocal apologists for the cyclist involved in that incident. NOT ONCE have you suggested that the cyclist couldn't have either slowed down or dismounted. Or explain why. When asked, you responded with "It's not his fault" comments.

    It's all about "maintaining momentum" with you people, even if it costs someone's life.

    I'm not surprised at your response. After all you're the same person who roughed up an older driver for cutting you off, then bragged about it and played the victim even after the gentleman admitted he was wrong and apologized.

    A class act, Crickey7. A real class act.

  • Crickey7

    I would readily admit this guy did wrong . . . but he didn't. Or, at least the police who investigated thought so. I don't have to apologize for anything, since he did nothing wrong.

    And thanks for another massive lie. A person published something where they admitted in writing to assaulting me after they had just committed multiple motor vehicle code violations, and this is how you describe it? Reality check.

    Just so you know, we actually later got in contact and both apologized to each other for letting things get out of control. There had been no prior apology.

  • noodlez

    YO GNATTY I’M TRYING BUT SOMEONE NEED TO PUT A SPOTLIGHT ON Y’ALL CIRCLE JERKS!

    "A MAN MUST KNOW HIS LIMITATIONS" THIS APPLIES TO EVERYTHING. THIS OVER ABUNDANCE OF BIKE LOVE IS AKIN TO A FATAL ATTRACTION! JUST LIKE RIDERS ARE SWERVING IN AND OUT OF TRAFFIC SO ARE HALF OF YOU HERE DOING THE SAME THING WITH YOUR WORDS.

    YALL BAMMAS SHOULD SLOW DOWN LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY. NO ONE IS HATING ON BIKES AND OR RIDERS THE ISSUE HERE IS BALANCE. THERE SEEMS TO BE NONE AS IT RELATES TO THE OVER THE TOP RULES CHANGES WITHOUT THOUGHT OR SENSE WITH EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE INVOLVED.

    FOR EXAMPLE IF THERE IS A HELMET LAW ON THE BOOKS IT SHOULD BE ENFORCED LIKE CLICK IT OR TICKET. IF THERE ISN'T ONE ON THE BOOKS THAN WELLS AND CHEH SHOULD HAVE PUT ONE ON THE BOOKS ALONG WITH THOSE TWO ASININE RULE CHANGES.

    ONCE BIKE LANES WERE INSTALLED THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN AN AWARENESS INITIATIVE OF BIKE ROAD RULES AND LAWS FOR ALL D.C. RESIDENTS THIS CART BEFORE THE HORSE BULLSHIT AINT WORKING.

  • SEis4ME

    Yep, blaming an elderly woman for her own death is about as "cyclists are never wrong" as you can get.

    Here's the thing...when a driver is not found at fault for a death she might have had a hand it, the general meme from the biking community is, "see, this is why we need more traffic control methods."

    In this case, a cyclist has a hand in someone's death and its, "well nothing to see here folks, she caused her own death...nothing needs to change."

    Yes, this does mark Exhibit A as to why people dislike many in the cycling community who consistently immunize themselves from blame and are 90% of the time are victims.

    Boo Hoo

  • Hillman

    Ceefer:

    Let's not forget that drivers must register their vehicle an pay roughly 7% of it's value to the city straight up. And there are annual or once every two year fees for continued usage.

    That's thousands of dollars for most drivers.

    Cyclists pay what? Nothing.

  • Hillman

    Crickey:

    I disagree that lack of licensing of bikes doesn't have an impact on the ability to give them tickets.

    We are clearly going to rely more and more on cameras to give out tickets.

    By definition if a bike doesn't have a license plate then it can't get a ticket given out by camera.

  • Hillman

    Crickey:

    Your idea that cars break traffic laws more is sortof not entirely right.

    True, cars speed more.

    But cyclists run red lights and stop signs FAR more.

    And they go down one way streets the wrong way far more.

    And in my fifteen years in DC I've NEVER seen a cop give a cyclist a ticket, even when they see them run a light in front of them, go down the street the wrong way, etc.

  • Crickey7

    Y'all are whack.

  • Retired Cop 70

    Mary (Out-to-Lunch) Cheh and Tommy (5 cents a bag) Wells continue to Shock this has to stop. I agree with the earlier post about cyclist carrying Insurance and should have License plates on their bikes. I know Cheh is a cyclist who believes that cars are evil. I have seen countless cyclist operating their bikes in an unsafe manner in front of the police and the police do nothing. I use to cite cyclist for no lights, no horn on bike. This is a dangerous practice and the golden children (GRAY, CHEH and WELLS) have given those cyclist the green light to do whatever the hell they want, with motorist being held accountable for their unsafe actions. What about the cyclist who rides on the sidewalk at night with no lights why aren't they fined? Police just look the other way because theses are no longer violations. But, the city would fine a driver with ridiculous points for cutting off a cyclist $250. plus 3 points and $500. plus 6 points for hitting one.
    Shame on Mayor Gray the one term mayor for signing this a law. Maybe WalMart should have told him they would not build in DC if he signed because most of their customers drive cars. People in Maryland and Virginia this effects you too. They city tried to sneak this bill pass us but some of us found out. Next time you drive take a picture of the cyclist you see running a red light or stop sign and email it to Cheh, Gray and Wells.

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  • anonmyous

    I don't run red lights or stop signs. Though if you yield to anyone that might have the right of way and can safely assess at a redlight or stopsign that by proceeding through it with out stopping you won't cause any conflicts or violate anyone's right of way. Then I see no problem with doing just that. Stop signs should be used at intersections that do to their geometrical nature prevent proper site lines and risk collisions. With proper geometry the whole intersection could remain unsignaled and people only stop if vehicles approach the interesection from different roads at or near the same time.

  • Arlingtron

    I am OK with bicyclists crossing on the walk light but only if they move at walking speeds. Zooming across could risk approaching a nearby car too fast to avoid a collision. In these situations a bike is likely in a driver's blind spot too.

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