Monday, December 26, 2011

BAC following up on the Office of Police Complaints Report with MPD

The BAC Safety, Education, and Enforcment Committee met on Tuesday, December 13. Thanks to Ellen Jones, Lt. Nick Breul of MPD, and Daniel Hoagland of WABA for coming. I think it marks a productive beginning to a working relationship between BAC and MPD.

1) Street Smart Campaign Activities. Lt. Breul provided an overview of activities in the recent round of Street Smart Campaign enforcement. It covered enforcement against pedestrians endangering themselves, motorists endangering pedestrians (not respecting pedestrians in crosswalks with flashing lights) and bicyclists riding in an unsafe manner. The Street Smart Campaign is organized by Lt. Breul using officers being paid for working overtime. It is paid for with special funds from NHTSA. Several of the activities involve teams of officers, thus the type of activities which wouldn’t be happening normally. They also involve a lot of education. Dan Hoagland of WABA got all the numbers in his recap:

2) Follow-up from Office of Police Complaints report. (available here) The OPC report had a number of important recommendations, and the Committee is focused on making sure we follow-up on those recommendations. The fact that MPD has appointed a representative to the BAC is an important success of the report. From a substantive perpsective, there were three big recommendations in the report:
  • OPC Recommendation A: Change general order 401.03 to allow officers to leave reports pending until all statements are obtained.
    • MPD action so far: MPD has sent out several teletypes reinforcing that in the case where a crash participant is not at the scene (because they are at the hospital) it is the officer’s responsibility to go to the hospital to interview them. It is not clear how the general order should be changed, as it is important that police reports not be left perpetually incomplete. A change to the general order is in process, but changed language is not yet available.
  • OPC Recommendation B: Include a bicycle-specific field on the PD Form 10. (crash report form)
    • MPD action so far: At the hearing, Assistant Chief Burke expressed willingness to look at changes to the PD Form 10. However, the form was recently changed, and it takes a long time, so its unlikely that further changes would happen soon. Lt. Breul has committed to bringing copies of the form so that BAC can examine the extent to which bicycles are already covered in the fields.
  • OPC Recommendation C: Continue training officers on bicycle safety.
    • MPD action so far: Along with DDOT, MPD has rolled out a bicycle and pedestrian training module to officers, and by the end of the year, all officers will have gotten the training (electronically). However, the module has not yet been provided to WABA or BAC. This is important so that we know there are no inconsistencies between our understanding of the law and how officers are being trained. Lt Breul has committed to bringing a copy of the module to a future meeting for review by WABA and BAC.
  • OPC Recommendation D: MPD should strengthen involvement in the BAC.
    • MPD action: Done!
On the whole, MPD has been extremely responsive to the recommendations in the Office of Police Complaints report. The BAC will continue to follow up on these issues as there are chances to make progress to ensure that cyclists involved in crashes have a chance to tell their side of the story and are treated appropriately.

3) More robust traffic enforcment. Everyone knows that traffic in DC is extremely dangerous. However, MPD has so many different priorities to pursue, that traffic enforcement is not prioritized. There is no specific traffic enforcement division. All officers have a responsibility to do traffic enforcement in the case of egregious violations and all police districts should be doing specific traffic enforcement. In addition, there are the Street Smart Campaign activities, which generate large numbers of contacts but only in a few locations on a very limited number of days each year. Lastly, automated cameras enforce of speed limits (plus 10) and red light violations in specific locations around the city. I believe that BAC should continue to investigate traffic enforcement and pursue ways of implementing a more robust effort at traffic enforcement, including the possibility of reconstituting a traffic enforcement division.

4) Tidbits. We covered a lot of ground. A few interesting points here on the finer points.
  • Three foot passing law enforcement. No one at the meeting knew of any instances where the 3-foot passing law had been enforced. A ticket could be given for violating the law under a broader “unsafe passing” violation code, but it remains a question whether this has been used.
  • When is a police report required? A police officer is only obligated to take a police report after a crash in cases where there are either injuries or significant damage. It seems that significant damage would be high enough (maybe > $500 or $1,000) that even a totalled bicycle might not always be significant enough to take a report. This is a somewhat subjective area that BAC will continue to pursue to ensure that cyclists whose bicycles are damaged in crashes where the other driver is at fault are able to recover repair costs.
  • Recovering a stolen bike. If your bike is stolen, if you are able to call 911 within a few minutes of the theft, there is a chance of recovery, as nearby officers will be alerted. Turnover is extremely fast, so a good description of both bicycle and perpetrator, and speed are key.
  • Safe and non-hazardous manner. Changes to the DC code related to bicycles says: “A person shall operate a a safe and non-hazardous manner so as not to endanger himself or herself or any other person.” We don’t know what this means, but hope that riding in the middle of a lane or other safe and legal forms of cycling would never be penalized under this vague language. We found out at the meeting that MPD has no official interpretation of what this language means, so it is up to individual officers to use their judgement. BAC will continue to investigate how the language is being used.
The next BAC Safety, Education, and Enforcement Committee meeting will be Tuesday, February 14 at 6:30pm at Teasim at 400 8th St. NW Washington DC. Please let me know if you are interested in attending, or have suggestions for future agenda items at . Best, Jameel.

Monday, December 12, 2011

WABA Women's Forum Twitter Responses

Below are twitter updates from tonight's WABA Women's Bicycling Forum at the West End Public Library from 6p to 8p. WABA has asked that the public use the twitter tag #womanbikedc to convey your thoughts about the forum.

The goal of this conversation is to produce executable recommendations that utilize WABA's reach and resources to put more women on bikes. The event is open to the public to observe the discussion. You can read more about the forum here.

Responses no longer available.

Sustainable DC Transportation Meeting

Bikes cueing
Photo by theDCeye
The Sustainable DC Working group is an effort by the District government to make a city that makes better and lasting environmentally progressive decisions.

The transportation group is meeting at 441 4th St, NW (One Judiciary Square), Room 1114 from 6p to 8p Thursday, December 15.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Proposed 2012 Bike Lanes

At the BAC Facilities meeting held Tuesday, December 6, District Department of Transportation staff introduced a proposed map of bike lanes to be added to the system in 2012.

The following map contains proposed bike infrastructure  improvements / ideas that could be implemented  within the District some time in calendar year 2012.  The items in red are improvements proposed for 2011 but not completed. DDOT hopes to include those routes in 2012.  

One of the proposed routes include L and M Streets between Pennsylvania Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue NW.  While these lanes were planned for some time, the bike community voiced concern when Terry Bellamy said during his confirmation hearing as director of the DDOT  that the dedicated lanes were "on hold" and at the risk of cancellation, as reported by Washington Examiner and other information outlets. 

Also, you can overlay the current bike lanes on the map. Click the larger view of this map and then the traffic link at the upper right corner, then hit bicycling.

Just added: Some respondents have states that some currently stripped bike lanes have deteriorated and need to be repaint.  BAC will add these streets to the map using the color tan green. (Some people stated that tan was more difficult to see when near freeways).  Also, the map on this page does not contain all the possible additions.  The larger map has a second page that shows additional bike improvements.

View 2012 Proposed Bike Lanes in a larger map

As always, we'd like to here your comments.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December Legislative Committee Meeting

The next Legislative Committee meting will be Wednesday, December 7 at 6:30pm. The location will be Teasim at 400 8th St NW. David Cranor (At-Large - Orange) is the Committee Chair and will meet at a large table in the basement of the restaurant.
The agenda for the meeting will be: 
  • Review of letter seeking status of compliance with the Bicycle Safety Enhancement Act.
  • Parking report - Now that we have it, we need to decide if there are any legislative actions. The report does not completely meet the requirements of the law - for example it was never made public and doesn't include an evaluation of routes to facilities. 
  • What has long been cited as the law (and included in every iteration of the WABA / DDOT Pocket Guide) as 18 DCMR 1201.2--which states a presumption that the cyclist right to the right, but with a number of clearly defined exceptions--is not actually the law.

    This was changed in a piece of legislation from 2006 for Segways, to make them exempt from certain motor vehicle requirements despite the presence of a motor. It also applies to cyclists. We need to discuss if we need a "Cyclists may take full lane, except..." law that more explicitly spells out where cyclists should ride.

    The current language of 18 DCMR 1201.2 is:

    1201.2 A person shall operate a bicycle, sidewalk bicycle or personal mobility device in a safe and non hazardous manner so as not to endanger himself or herself or any other person.
Meetings are open to the public but space is limited.

Monday, December 5, 2011

WABA will Hold a Discussion on Women and Bicycling December 12

In 1896, civic rights pioneer Susan B. Anthony made the following statement about bicycling:
"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."
From a Black Women Bike Ride
Photo by theDCeye
Monday, December 12, 2011, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association will hold a forum that hopes to determine why over a hundred years after her statement, there are statistically fewer women bicycling when compared with men.  The Women's Bike Forum (registration is required, space is limited) will begin at 6:00p until 8:00p at the in the small meeting room in the West End Neighborhood Public Library, 1101 24th Street NW. The roundtable discussion will include a panel of women who are active in the local bicycling community and will share their ideas regarding how to increase bicycling mode share by women.

While the number of female bicyclists has seen an increase associated with the overall increase in people who ride bicycles in the District, according to a study, Bicycling renaissance in North America? Recent trends and alternative policies to promote bicycling, women represent about 27.7 percent of the approximately 2.0 percent of Americans who bicycle regularly.

Linda Bake of Scientific American reports that not only is the total modal bike share percentage low in the United States but also the the number women who bike compared to other countries like the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips are made by bike, 55 percent of all riders are women. In Germany 12 percent of all trips are on bikes, 49 percent of which are made by women.

The Scientific American article also states that one of the keys in increasing the number of bicyclists on  the roads is to increase the number of women bicyclists. The report implies that as roads and bike infrastructure become safer, there is a likelihood that more women will bike. The number of women biking indicates just how safe it is to bike in a location.

The following video seems to echo those assumptions.

Women In Motion: New Lady Riders Reflect on NYC Cycling from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

We'd like to hear your thoughts on women an bicycling.  Is the key to bring more women to bicycling as simple as creating safer biking conditions for everyone or does it require additional outreach and woman-specific facilities?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Public Hearing - Rock Creek Park Trail

Below is a public notice regarding the Rock Creek Park Trail as sent to the DC Bicyclists and Pedestrians List by the DDOT Bicycle program manager, James Sebastian.  BAC encourages the public to comment on this public facility that serves thousands of pedestrians and bicyclists in the region and allows for the safe access of Rock Creek Park.
Map from NP

This is the second meeting regarding the rehabilitation of this section of the trail. The open house and subsequent presentation will be held Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus, Auditorium, 3101 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20010 from 6:00p to 8:00p.

The rehabilitation project cover the main trail and at least two tributaries, from Broad Branch Road, NW to P Street, NW.  It also includes the addition of new connections to the trail from the surrounding communities. The National Park Service (NPS), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT), proposes to rehabilitate the Rock Creek Park multi-use trail.

According to the NPS planning website, the purpose of the project is to improve the safety and connectivity of the deteriorating Rock Creek Park multi-use trail system in order to enhance visitor use and experience within Rock Creek Park, protect the park's ecosystem, improved access to the Rock Creek Park multi-use trail system from other pedestrian and bicycle facilities, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods; and more effective drainage and erosion control, thereby reducing trail maintenance.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Picture This

Picture This by uno000
Picture This, a photo by uno000 on Flickr.
Workers making repairs to the New York Avenue overpass at the Metropolitan Branch Trail the morning of December 1 at around 9:30a.