Councilmember Allen introduces bill strengthening pedestrian and cyclist safety measures

On Tuesday, November 13 Councilmember Allen introduced the Vision Zero Enhancement Amendment Act of 2018, proposing to codify in law traffic safety measures proposed by the Mayor, including banning right on red turns near schools, lowering the speed limit in residential zones, and more.

As part of her Vision Zero week, Mayor Bowser announced that agencies would start to look into several policies that would have a real impact on pedestrian and bike safety—if they were implemented. So this bill would give the Mayor the clear authority to implement several of the changes she proposed:

  • It would reduce the speed limit in all areas zoned for residential use to 20 miles per hour
  • It would prohibit right turns on red within a half mile of a school
  • It would authorize towing a vehicle that is blocking a bicycle lane

Further, the bill would create a pilot program called the Citizen Bike Safety Enforcement Pilot Program. This would authorize DDOT to create a training program and an app that would allow up to 10 District residents to photograph vehicles blocking bicycle lanes, and that photograph would then be used to issue a citation.

"Blocking a bike lane is currently illegal, but but I can’t remember the last time I took a bike ride without encountering a vehicle blocking a bike lane. There just aren’t enough DPW and MPD enforcement officers to ticket everyone," said Councilmember Allen. "But every day you can see Twitter accounts documenting blocked bike lanes all over the city. This pilot program would simply allow those people to take pictures through a DDOT-developed app that would time and location stamp the picture just like a speed camera."

Anyone who wants to join the pilot program would be trained in bike safety, procedures for issuing citations, how to use the app, and conflict resolution. Anyone who receives a citation through this program could challenge it just like any other ticket. There are examples of similar citizen enforcement in other cities: New York allows private citizens to document air pollution, and if the city decides not to prosecute the violation, the resident can do so on their own and keep some of the fine. In several cities around the country, like Eugene, Oregon and Naperville, Illinois, private citizen can receive radar guns and collect data that is used to issue warnings for speeding. We have the technology and the willingness in the District to make it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

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