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WABA reports progress with MPD

WABA finally got MPD to sit down and talk about bicycle safety and enforcement. As previously reported, MPD had postponed their meeting twice, once with scant explanation, prompting WABA to send a public letter asking for concrete steps to improve officer training, better target enforcement, and collect useful data.

Photo by ImageMD on Flickr.

Recently, WABA finally met with MPD and had a productive conversation. They felt MPD "recognized our concerns and appeared willing to work with WABA and DDOT." The parties agreed on some concrete steps, including:

  • WABA and DDOT will create power point slides to be shown during police roll calls on areas where clarification of District law is needed. Other slides identifying high bike/ped crash areas will also be shown.
  • MPD will coordinate better with DDOT on the upcoming Street Smarts enforcement campaign and improve training of officers working the program;
  • MPD will work with WABA on enforcement stings of the bus and bike lanes in Chinatown and will conduct occasional bike lane double parking ticketing waves;
  • WABA, DDOT and MPD will explore creating a police training video on bike and ped laws;
  • WABA will work with MPD on collecting unreported crash data and other complaints that will be passed along to the Traffic Safety Branch.

The complete list is here.

WABA also circulated a draft Memorandum of Understanding they hope MPD, DDOT, and WABA can jointly sign in the future. It lays out steps for all three groups from "acknowledge the strengths in a collaborative approach to traffic safety throughout the city" to more specifics.

Many cyclists feel that the recent stings against cyclists, like wrong-way riding on New Hampshire Avenue, represent a misguided attempt to improve safety by going out and writing a lot of bicycle tickets for violations that, while against the law, don't represent actual unsafe behavior and unfairly put the burden on cyclists alone.

Several points of the MOU address this issue. It asks MPD to "acknowledge that education and enforcement activities include warnings, citations, referrals, and safety education" and to publicize certain enforcement activities, since telling people the police will be writing tickets often does more to change behavior than just writing them. For its part, of course, the MOU calls on WABA to "encourage all motor vehicle operators, bicycle operators, and pedestrians to
follow all laws for safety" and support education and enforcement efforts from MPD and DDOT.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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I think your picture is showing Secret Service Uniformed Division cops ... and not MPD. Since DC has dozens of "police forces" having jurisdiction over sometimes overlapping areas (but with different focuses), any "education" really has to be put out there to all relevant parties. For example, because of embassies in the greater Dupont area, you probably have far more of the Secret Service cops on duty at any one time than you do the MPD ones.

by Lance on Oct 30, 2008 1:34 pm • linkreport

Lance: You're probably right. Hey photographers: please take more pictures of MPD bike cops and post them to Flickr!

by David Alpert on Oct 30, 2008 1:39 pm • linkreport

"Many cyclists feel that the recent stings against cyclists, like wrong-way riding on New Hampshire Avenue, represent a misguided attempt to improve safety ..."

Then again many don't. Biking against traffic is in general unsafe.

by Tom on Oct 30, 2008 2:07 pm • linkreport

Oh how I yearn for the day when pedestrian safety were as important as cyclist safety on this blog...

by Jazzy on Oct 30, 2008 2:28 pm • linkreport

Jazzy: How isn't it? Aren't I constantly haranguing DDOT about bulb-outs?

I checked, and there are 26 articles tagged pedestrian safety, 24 tagged bike safety.

But if you see more about bike safety, that's probably because WABA is out there doing things about it and making news. We could indeed use a "WAPA" advocating for pedestrians. In the meantime, please feel free to send articles or topics about pedestrian safety to tips@.

by David Alpert on Oct 30, 2008 2:32 pm • linkreport

And, as it so happens, there's an article about sidewalks and bulb-outs coming up this afternoon, which I already wrote and put in the queue... :)

by David Alpert on Oct 30, 2008 2:33 pm • linkreport


Do you know of any Pedestrian Safety/Advocacy groups in Washington? I've been trying to find some, but it seems like WalkingTown DC has kind of fallen apart.

I am frankly pretty impressed that WABA was finally able to get this meeting. If you take a look around, it seems like MPD only makes a point of enforcing traffic laws every other blue moon. Don't get me wrong, I hate getting a traffic ticket when I know there are other more serious crimes being committed. But we have a serious issue in this town of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians not obeying speed limits, yielding right of way, etc. If they (MPD) can't plan on doing more enforcement, they at least need to do more outreach.

by Phil Lepanto on Oct 30, 2008 2:35 pm • linkreport

For the record pedestrian safety is equally important to me as bicycle safety. When car drivers are more respectful of the rights and safety of pedestrians and/or bicyclists it follows they will be more conscientious of the other group as well. Pedestrians and bicyclists alike are in danger of being killed by a "right hook" for example.

by Bianchi on Oct 30, 2008 2:38 pm • linkreport

There was a pedestrian advocacy group a few years ago, WalkDC, but its website looks like it hasn't been touched in a while.

by thm on Oct 30, 2008 2:55 pm • linkreport

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