Safety and Enforcement Update: BAC Safety Committee Meeting Recap

On Tuesday night, the Safety Committee of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council met with Lt. Nick Breul of MPD to discuss updates on various initiatives concerning bicycle safety and law enforcement regarding bicycles, motor vehicles and pedestrians.  Following concerns raised in several enforcement oversight hearings (February, November) this year, MPD has appointed Lt. Breul to act as MPD’s primary liaison to the bicycling community.  Some of the topics covered included:
  • An update on the November/December Street Smart campaign
    • Four days of enforcement against pedestrians endangering themselves at four different intersections led to complaints to MPD about police priorities. There is “a lot of work to be done” when it comes to preventing dangerous pedestrian behavior.
      • Pedestrian enforcement locations: 7th & H St. NW, 14th & U St. NW, East Capitol & Benning Rd., New York Ave. & North Capitol
    • Two days of enforcement against motorists endangering pedestrians at Minnesota Ave. & Blaine St. NE led to 56 citations and 2 arrests.
    • Four hours of enforcement against motorists endangering pedestrians along Georgia Ave. NW led to 223 contacts (written/verbal warnings and educational conversations) with motorists–that’s almost a contact per minute!
    • November 29th was the 1 year anniversary of the tragic death of a pedestrian who was struck by a bicycle in Chinatown. MPD officers spent the day stopping and warning bicyclists in the area of the crash (6th & Massachusetts Ave. NW), making 68 contacts with bicyclists. Additionally, MPD officers spent time at the 15th St. cycle track. In both locations, officers focused on education to bicyclists about wrong-way riding, sidewalk riding south of Massachusetts Ave. and obeying red lights.
    • Lt. Breul hopes to replicate the success of these operations in January after the Street Smart program ends for the year.
  • A Sergeant in the 3rd District is pushing for more outreach and education for officers regarding bicycles, specifically with how bicyclists are treated by the police during and after crashes.
  • Lt. Breul clarified that crashes where a bicycle is damaged minorly and the rider is unharmed would be very unlikely to generate a crash report, however even when damage is minor, insisting on police involvement can help a bicyclist not get taken advantage of by a driver or a driver’s insurance company later.
  • The PD-10 crash report form used by police officers was revised in 2010 and is unlikely to see another major revision soon.
  • There is no existing “violation code” that refers to a driver violating the District’s 3-foot passing law (DCMR Title 18-2202.10).
  • The MPD Academy will be adding additional traffic safety courses focusing on enforcement against motorists that endanger bicyclists, as well as enforcement against bicyclist violations.
Thanks to BAC Safety Committee Chair Jameel Alsalam for leading a productive and informative meeting, and to Lt. Breul for his engagement and insight on the concerns of cyclists.