Photo by ImageMD on Flickr.

WABA finally got MPD to sit down and talk about bicycle safety and enforcement. As previously reported, MPD had postponed their meeting twice, once with scant explanation, prompting WABA to send a public letter asking for concrete steps to improve officer training, better target enforcement, and collect useful data.

Recently, WABA finally met with MPD and had a productive conversation. They felt MPD “recognized our concerns and appeared willing to work with WABA and DDOT.” The parties agreed on some concrete steps, including:

  • WABA and DDOT will create power point slides to be shown during police roll calls on areas where clarification of District law is needed. Other slides identifying high bike/ped crash areas will also be shown.
  • MPD will coordinate better with DDOT on the upcoming Street Smarts enforcement campaign and improve training of officers working the program;
  • MPD will work with WABA on enforcement stings of the bus and bike lanes in Chinatown and will conduct occasional bike lane double parking ticketing waves;
  • WABA, DDOT and MPD will explore creating a police training video on bike and ped laws;
  • WABA will work with MPD on collecting unreported crash data and other complaints that will be passed along to the Traffic Safety Branch.

The complete list is here.

WABA also circulated a draft Memorandum of Understanding they hope MPD, DDOT, and WABA can jointly sign in the future. It lays out steps for all three groups from “acknowledge the strengths in a collaborative approach to traffic safety throughout the city” to more specifics.

Many cyclists feel that the recent stings against cyclists, like wrong-way riding on New Hampshire Avenue, represent a misguided attempt to improve safety by going out and writing a lot of bicycle tickets for violations that, while against the law, don’t represent actual unsafe behavior and unfairly put the burden on cyclists alone.

Several points of the MOU address this issue. It asks MPD to “acknowledge that education and enforcement activities include warnings, citations, referrals, and safety education” and to publicize certain enforcement activities, since telling people the police will be writing tickets often does more to change behavior than just writing them. For its part, of course, the MOU calls on WABA to “encourage all motor vehicle operators, bicycle operators, and pedestrians to

follow all laws for safety” and support education and enforcement efforts from MPD and DDOT.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.