Will MPD be Asked to Respond to Bike/Ped Hearing Concerns?

Eight Metroplitian Police cars parked in the bike lane at 15th and F NW. Photo Courtesy: Judy Floy

Tomorrow at 10am, Councilmember Mendelson will chair this year’s Performance Oversight Hearing for the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).  In February, WABA, along with many bicyclists, pedestrians, and pedestrian advocates testified for hours, telling stories of improper enforcement, wrongful attribution of blame, lack of understanding of traffic laws as applied to non-motorists, and a systemic failure to adequately protect bicyclists and pedestrians. In our testimony, WABA wrote: “And as the Committee with oversight of MPD, we ask that protection of bicycle facilities be prioritized, and that MPD be required to report regularly on its strategies and plans for protecting bicycle facilities and to provide data showing the results of such strategies (e.g., number of citations issued).   We recognize that the setting of enforcement priorities is an executive rather than legislative function, but oversight of the executive’s enforcement policies is the responsibility of this committee, and we ask you to take that role seriously, and press enforcement agencies to explain their failure to provide the protection promised to bicyclists under the law.  Just as we have demanded fair accommodation from our transportation department, we demand protection of our safety from our enforcement agencies.” Tomorrow’s hearing is the Committee’s opportunity to demand real answers from the District’s top enforcement officials and set higher expectations for the protection of bicyclists and pedestrians. Unfortunately, in the written questions from the Committee and the responses provided by MPD in advance of the hearing, the core issues of safety and enforcement raised at February’s hearing are not directly addressed.   (Bicycling is addressed–but all focus is on the completion of an online training module by DDOT.  See page 24, questions 37-38.) We hope that Councilmember Mendelson will take the opportunity at the hearing to raise the issues presented to him by the District’s cyclists and pedestrians at the earlier hearing, and we reiterated to the Committee this morning our desire to see these issues substantively addressed.  If you share our desire to see cyclist and pedestrian safety addressed more substantively at the hearing than in these initial questions, consider contacting the Committee of the Judiciary’s offices before tomorrow’s 10am hearing.  Contact information can be found here. We appreciate the support of Councilmember Mendelson and the Committee on the Judiciary, and we hope that this opportunity to protect the District’s cyclists and other vulnerable roadway users will not be lost.