This article was posted as an April Fool's joke.
In a press release this morning, April 1, the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has announced a new Deputy Cyclist program in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). The Metropolitan Police Department will deputize cyclists to enforce bike lane violators and vehicles behaving badly.
In a statement, Chief of Police Peter Newsham said, “This new Deputy Cyclist program will enable MPD to enforce vehicles in the bike lane, and other similar issues that pedestrians as well as cyclists experience. We hope that this new regulatory regime spearheaded by bike and pedestrian advocates will empower citizens for a walkable, safe, and accessible DC.”
The press release also outlines the various criteria and powers that these deputized peace officers have. They will not carry any weapons, except their bikes. They will be issued ticket books and cameras to take pictures to verify violators. There will also be a Twitter account linked to the phones so officers can publicly name and shame repeat violators.
This move comes after complaints on social media about bike lane violators have increased ten-fold. The social media manager for DDOT quit last week due to incessant bullying from the bike lobby on Twitter.
An unnamed car advocate sent us this quote: “Arguably, the bike lobby is the one that has pushed for this ridiculous power grab designed to take power from the rightful owners of Washington DC’s streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes: Maryland drivers.”
Criticism aside, GGWash is hopeful that this program will lead to reduced violations and increased safety on the streets of DC. The idea is that increased enforcement and increased ticketing will reduce the bike lane violations and other issues cyclists and pedestrians encounter on a regular basis.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser had lukewarm praise for the effort, saying, “This cyclist deputization is the police force that DC deserves, not the one that DC needs.”
The mayor later clarified her point, saying that she needs to see results and increased revenue in order to deem this a success, and that the conflicts between cyclists and drivers have led to this outcome. No word on if masked bikers in black lycra will brood at intersections.