Councilmember Cheh Introduces “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015”

New safety bill the result of collaborative effort by Councilmember Cheh, DDOT, MPD, DISB, and transportation advocates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, September 16th, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D – Ward 3), Chair of the Committee on Transportation & the Environment, introduced the “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015.” The bill provides a comprehensive update to the District’s laws and regulations as they pertain to motorist, bicycle, and pedestrian safety.

“Earlier this year, I convened a Bicycle & Pedestrian Working Group to foster a deliberative, thoughtful, and open discussion on how to best update the District’s approach to motor, bicycle, and pedestrian safety. The “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015” is the end result of months of collaboration between my office, District agencies, law enforcement, and transportation advocates. By gathering everyone around the same table, we were able to debate and discuss what safety measures have been successful and what needs improvement from a variety of perspectives. This bill is a comprehensive and inclusive approach to making the roadways and sidewalks safer for all,” said Councilmember Cheh.

 Highlights from the bill:
• Makes a significant amount of crash, traffic violation, and closure data more readily accessible to the public.
• Establishes the Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Area Program to designate safety enhancement priority areas across the District in locations with heavy bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
• Incorporates a Complete Streets policy within DDOT to ensure that the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of roads includes infrastructure that accommodates all multimodal users, including those with disabilities.
• Requires the Mayor to study the feasibility of a remediation and deferred disposition program that would enable a person guilty of a moving violation to take a safety course in lieu of paying some or all of the associated fine.

“The “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act” changes the way our agencies address and prioritize safety concerns in the built environment, and it also encourages users of our transportation system to engage in safer behavior –in this way we can establish a system of mutual accountability. For example, one aspect of the bill includes greater oversight of DDOT’s infrastructure improvements and traffic modifications, while another section of the bill prohibits aggressive driving, and creates an escalating fine system for repeat offenders of moving violations directly affecting bicyclists and pedestrians. The bill also establishes a universal street and bicycle safety education curriculum for District schoolchildren,” said Councilmember Cheh.

The Bicycle & Pedestrian Working Group was co-chaired by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and AAA Mid-Atlantic throughout six open forum meetings in May and June. Other members of the fourteen member working group include: All Walks DC, Bicycle Advisory Council, DC Surface Transit, Department of Insurance, Securities & Banking (DISB), District of Columbia Insurance Federation (DCIF), District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Mayor’s Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Pedestrian Advisory Council, PULSE Issues & Advocacy, and the United Spinal Association. The Working Group is currently composing a final report of recommendations to be presented to the Committee on Transportation & the Environment.

“In addition to the Working Group meetings, I also coordinated site visits with DDOT, the relevant ANCs, MPD, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates to the top five most dangerous intersections in the District to evaluate what short-term and long-term changes can be made to mitigate safety concerns. Being on-site with residents and connecting them with the agency decision makers was an incredibly helpful way to evaluate the infrastructure and behavioral challenges we face when attempting to improve our transportation system. This bill, the Working Group report, and dangerous intersection site visits are all components of a larger effort to reform and modernize the way the District responds to safety hazards on the roadways. The input we received from the community has been invaluable throughout this evaluation process, and I encourage residents to remain engaged and invested in this continued effort,” said Councilmember Cheh.

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