Thursday, September 29, 2011

Safety Committee Meeting (October 4, 2011)

The next scheduled meeting for the DCBAC Safety, Education, and Enforcement committee is Tuesday, October 4, 2011. We will meet at 6:30 at Teaism, 400 8th Street NW. Jameel Alsalam is the committee chair, his email is

The agenda will include:

1. Follow-up on bicyclist enforcement problems/priorities after CM Mendelson letter transmitted a letter to Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Lanier as a result of the enforcement hearing held earlier this year.  Discussion about the coming November meeting before the Committee on the Judiciary. 

2. Funding of bike safety and education programs in the District, possibly in the context of changes to the federal transportation bill.

3. What connections are needed with MPD to address enforcement issues as they arise?

4. Any DCBAC role related to regular safety / education events such as Bike to Work Day,  Street Smart Campaign, etc?

5. Your ideas!

Meetings are open to the public but space is limited.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    BAC Bits

    Below are items that were not large enough to be a their own separate entry but important to report:

    Metropolitan Branch Trail Walk

    Monday, October 3, 2011, the students, faculty, and parents at Archbishop Carroll High School will begin their Homecoming week by walking nearly 2 miles on the Metropolitan Branch Trail in an effort to keep Carroll the most affordable Catholic high school in the Washington, D.C. area. Each student has begun to sell raffle tickets and last year, students helped to raise nearly $60,000.  The Archbishop Carroll High School Walk for Education began 20 years ago as a healthy fund-raising activity.

    If you have any questions or need any additional information about the Walk, please contact Crystal Rucker, Director of Advancement, at (202) 529-0900 x160 or

    "Assault of Bicyclists Prevention Act" Moves from the Committee on the Environment, Public Works, and Transportation

    Jonathon Kass, Director for Special Initiatives for Council Member Tommy Wells, stated on the DCBAC group site that the "Assault of Bicyclists Prevention Act" referral was changed. This bill has now been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary (with comments from the Committee on the Environment, Public Works, and Transportation). Thus, a public hearing on this bill would need to be scheduled by the Committee on the Judiciary, chaired by Council Member Phil Mendelson.

    FONSI for the Phase 2 of the Met Branch Trail
    The Federal Highway Administration has determined that the preferred alternatives that will extend the Metropolitan Branch Trail will not have a significant impact on the natural, human or built environment and has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Metropolitan Branch Trail project. The issuance of the FONSI completes the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 process for the Metropolitan Branch Trail project and allows for the preparation of the extension of the trail from Fort Totten to Takoma.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Hearing on Enforcement of Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

    Photo by thedceye
    The Committee on the Judiciary will hold a public oversight hearing on the Enforcement of Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 11:00a in Room 412 of the John A.Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.  Council member Phil Mendelson is the Chairperson of this Committee with  Marion Barry, Muriel Bowser, Mary Cheh, and Jack Evans as Committee members.

    The purpose of the hearing is to discuss issues associated with the enforcement of laws and other rules that are intended to protect bicyclists and pedestrians.  The hearing will focus on how the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and other enforcement agencies have applied certain traffic laws or safety regulations.

    According to the Committee, there have been specific complaints and anecdotal evidence showing that the enforcement of laws has been inconsistently applied against bicyclists and pedestrians.  In addition, MPD will likely attend to discuss concerns that the District does not properly document incidents between bicyclists, pedestrians and motorized vehicles, which occasionally places them at fault even when they are obeying the law.  The hearing will also discuss the findings of a report issued by the Office of Police Complaints on pedestrian and bicycle concerns, specifically regarding their interactions with MPD.

    This hearing acts as a follow-up to one held on February 4, 2011.  That hearing focused on incidences where pedestrians or bicyclists died after being hit by motor vehicles with no charges filed in the cases sited.  A total of 26 witnesses provided testimony.

    The hearing allows for public testimony.  Those wishing to testify should contact Ms. Jessica Jacobs, Legislative Counsel, at 202.724.8038, by fax at 202.724.6664, or by email at and must provide certain details by close of business Monday, October 31, 2011.  Details of testimony requirements and other information about the hearing can be found on the Council of the District of Columbia 2011 Hearing Notices calendar.

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    The Great Confiscation Miscommunication

    On Thursday, September 22, NBC4 posted a report by Jackie Benson regarding an increase in thefts involving culprits on bicycles.  According to the report, an email issued by the 3rd District Commander, Jacob Kishter, stated police would increase enforcement in robbery areas, including in introduction of stopping bicyclist to see if they are stolen or were used in the commission of a crime.

    However, the story focused on the following:
    "If the rider cannot prove ownership, take the bike for safekeeping until they can prove ownership."

    View more videos at:

    That statement, of course, set the blogesphere and Twitterverse ablaze. Shani Hilton of the Washington City Paper who was concerned that this policy would not only be impractical but probably racist.  Even DCBAC picket up on the story while it was still influx and tweeted:
    "Okay, so #MPD are stopping bicyclists and confiscating bikes but aren't profiling! Not Good.… @wcp"
    Rather quickly, twitterers @girlonabikedc and @smwieland helped clear up the confusion.  The Washington Area Bicyclist Association's Executive Director, Shane Farthing, as reported by the Washington Post's Mike DeBonis and the WashCycle, we later learned that communication with the commander that, no, the order did not apply to everyone who looks "suspicious on a bike" in Columbia Heights, but on "...known violent offenders who are committing these cases (on bikes)".

    While DCBAC was initially very concerned about the NBC story but have since been properly informed (we were about to write a slew of letters to MPD and the DC Council), we would still like to hear how District police officers have interacted with riders in Columbia Heights.  While the focus appears to be on "known violent offenders", we'd like to learn if the police are targeting bicyclists - even for a "good reason". 

    Feel free to leave a message in the comments section or send an email to

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Legislative Committee Meeting (October 5, 2011)

    The next scheduled meeting for the DCBAC Legislative Committee is October 5, 2011 at 6:30pm at The Union Pub, 201 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002.  Please check back, the date and location of the meeting are subject to change.

    The following topics will be discussed:

    1. Complete Streets policy and whether a law would be better.

    2. The Legislative Committee chair is in the process of putting together a Freedom of Information Act request for a bicycle parking report as required under the Bicycle Parking Expansion Act of 2007. Also, the Committee will discuss drafting a letter to the Department of Public Works and District Department of Transportation requesting their status in implementing the Bicycle Safety Enhancement Amendment Act of 2008's requirements.

    3. Continue discussion regarding the District's proposed pedicab regulations from the previous meeting, which will include discussion of the following comments received by the committee chair:

    • Rules says pedicabs only allowed on public streets, does that preclude trails, sidewalks, alleys and private streets. Does DC have the authority for that?
    • Rules say no more than 3 passengers - so no kids in laps? Would 3 "adult" passengers be better wording? 
    • Seat belt rule - will this pin passengers under overturned pedicab -  there are no roll bars? Does this carry any safety benefit at all? What does the seatbelt even need to be anchored to? The law doesn't say. 
    • Brakes - law describes technology, but for bikes it's performance based. Performance based (stopping in x feet) is better. 
    • Why do lights have to be battery operated? Why not USB or dynamo? Just say light and how bright - not how to power it. 
    • Turn lights are required, but there is nothing in the law requiring their use. Is that ok? 
    • Rules on stopping to load and unload should also prohibit stopping in the bike lane. 
    • Is stopped with operator on bike "parked"? Should be defined. 
    • Rule on locking bike makes it seem that they can not be locked to anything even bike racks. Should they be parked on the sidewalk or the street? What can they lock up to? 
    • Reflective vest requirement is for all times of day. Is this appropriate? Why not at times when lights are required? Would a "slow moving  vehicle" emblem be better? 
    • Definition of pedicab makes it unclear if all adult tricycle's are pedicabs. Or if a pedicab with the cab in front is a pedicab. Or if a pedicab without passengers in it is a pedicab. If a person transports people for a "donation" are they for hire? And if not are they not a pedicab anymore.
    Meetings are open to the public but space is limited.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    RESOLUTION - Support of Bicyclists' Rights Legislation

    At the last DC Bicycle Advisory Council meeting held Wednesday, September 7, WABA discussed its efforts to introduce legislation before the Council of the District of Columbia to create better protections for bicyclists who are harassed or threaten by motorists.

    According to WABA, the proposed law creates a civil right of action for an assaulted cyclist and   provides for attorneys fees if the cyclist-plaintiff prevails--thereby providing an incentive for attorneys to represent the victim.

    Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells will co-introduce an anti-harassment bill with Ward 2's Jack Evans and Ward 1's Jim Graham.

    Below is a resolution supporting the anti-harassment bill and the rights of  bicyclists who use of District streets.
    Resolution - Support of Bicyclists Rights

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Dr. Gridlock chat (9-19-11)

    As a public service, below are bicycle-related comments/questions issued to Robert Thomson on his Monday midday Dr. Gridlock chat on the Washington Post website, unedited.

    This week, two comments about bicycling - "Why share Beach Drive when trail is right there" and "Bicyclists don't follow the rules"...

    Feel free to post your thoughts.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Metropolitan Branch Trail Clean Up

    Below are pictures from the Saturday, September 10, 2011 Day of Service on the Metropolitan Branch Trail.  Volunteers from the community and trail users cleared and cleaned the trail from Franklin Street NE to R Street NE spending a part of this weekend giving back, helping to maintain a public asset.

    The event was sponsored by the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy and its Director of Trail Development, Kelly Pack, the NOMA BID, the DDOT Bicycle program's Heather Deutsch.

    If you are interested in being a part of future activities on the trail join the Metropolitan Branch Trail Facebook group or the Yahoo group Listserv.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Bimonthy Meeting Tonight

    Tonight, Wednesday September 7th, DCBAC will have its general meeting. The meeting will be in Room 1114 at 441 4th Street NW (One Judiciary Square) and begin at 6pm.

    We will start the meeting with a presentation by the DC Office of Planning on Mayor Gray's new sustainability initiative. Please feel free to invite other interested cyclists to join us for the presentation. Folks are welcome
    to stay for the rest of the DCBAC meeting as well.

    Below is a draft agenda:

    1. Introductions (10 minutes)
    2. DC Office of Planning Sustainability Presentation with Q&A (30 minutes)
    3. Approval of Minutes (5 minutes)
    4. Legislative Committee Report and Discussion (20 minutes)
    5. Safety Committee Discussion (10 minutes)
    6. Facilities Committee Report and Discussion (20 minutes)
    7. Planning Committee Discussion (5 minutes)
    8. Other Business (20 minutes)