Posts about DMV
WABA is reporting that the Department of Motor Vehicles isn't upholding tickets for U-turns across Pennsylvania Avenue.
When an MPD officer writes a ticket, the person ticketed has the opportunity to challenge that ticket through adjudication. This process is handled by the DMV, not the police. And on this issue, the DMV adjudicator has interpreted the laws in a way that does not prohibit mid-block U-turns across the cycletrack. Thus, MPD is reluctant to ticket motorists when the agency adjudicating the tickets has deemed such a ticket invalid.Rob Pitingolo asked on Twitter, "If [DDOT] designs a street and decides certain turns are unsafe, why does [the DMV] get to decide whether said unsafe turns are punishable? The whole thing calls into question whether any traffic sign in DC is actually legally binding or just a suggestion."
In the camera debate, MPD has been saying that they enforce the speed limits that are posted. Anyone want to look through the DC code to figure out if posted signs like "no U turn" actually have the force of law?
Perhaps Mary Cheh could introduce some emergency legislation to fix this problem, but Rob's point is a good one WABA's Shane Farthing added, Cycle tracks, separated bike lanes, or whatever you call them can work wonders for bicycling, but only if drivers respect them and District officials can properly enforce rules against unsafe driving and parking.
We do not know DMV's detailed legal reasoning, but it is possible that the same interpretation that would find U-turns across Pennsylvania Avenue to be legal might also find left turns by motorists who skip the "mixing zones" and cut across the cycletrack through the intersection on L to be legal. (That is speculation, but it sufficiently concerning speculation that we need to move quickly to find a solution so that MPD can enforce the rules of the cycletracks in a way that is consistent with their design.)So far, we know that many drivers are not obeying the rules in the cycletrack, though DDOT's Mike Goodno has been urging people to be patient as DDOT finishes up paint, signs. and bollards. The Express' Vicky Hallett interviewed some truck drivers who are, so far, just refusing to pull a little farther to an actual loading zone, and Nicholas Donohue sent over some pictures of trucks parked in the cycletrack.
Photo by Nicholas Donohue.
WABA's Shane Farthing added,
Cycle tracks, separated bike lanes, or whatever you call them can work wonders for bicycling, but only if drivers respect them and District officials can properly enforce rules against unsafe driving and parking.
It may have taken two arrests of a 64-year-old Georgetown woman, but there is hope on the horizon for those who want changes in the District's scooter regulations.
DC law classifies all motor scooters as motorcycles, meaning that scooter owners must hold motorcycle licenses, wear a helmet, register their scooter, show proof of insurance, and pass a motorcycle skills test. Violating the law could land you in jail, as it did for Ann Goodman, though Goodman also appears to have deliberately flouted the law.
Many scooter owners want rules specifically for scooters, distinct from motorcycles. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, who chairs the DC Council committee with oversight of motor vehicles, is sympathetic. "It shouldn't be a matter of police officers measuring the wheelbase or something like that," Cheh told NBC4 after learning of the arrests. "We should have clear categories."
Cheh said she "hopes to introduce a bill before the end of the year that puts scooters and motorcycles in different, easy-to-understand categories," according to the article.
"Hope" is an ambiguous word, so I reached out to Cheh's senior policy advisor William Handsfield to get more clarity on when we might see a piece of legislation.
"We've been thinking about it a lot, but I don't think there are any clear cut answers," Handsfield wrote in an email. "We'll be doing more on this topic soon, as the status quo is unsatisfactory."
Parking is biggest issue
While the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is "responsible for classifying vehicles and determining registration requirements," the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) sets parking rules based on those classifications, said Monica Hernandez, a communications specialist for DDOT, in an email.
In addition to evaluating the policies in place, DDOT is developing a program to create on-street scooter spaces, Hernandez wrote.
Handsfield mentioned that, while at DDOT, he headed a program which installed on-street bike racks around the city. "In the two years since we installed those racks, we've noticed that scooter owners often lock up there as well, which I think most would agree is preferential to scooters on the sidewalk," he wrote.
A quick search turned up articles about on-street racks being installed in numerous cities around the country, including New York and Seattle. In DC, it's illegal for scooters to park in bicycle racks.
In the comments on my earlier post, David C wrote,
We discussed the issue of scooters/bikes at a Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting. ... For parking we decided that we really didn't care if they parked at bike racks. We just need a lot more bike racks. But we don't think they should be riding in the bike lane.The lack of parking options, as well as some confusing information, is the biggest issue with the current scooter laws, said Wellesley Scott, president of Modern Classics, a motorcycle and scooter store in Brentwood, and an authority on all things scooter.
"The problem is that... they're written by people who don't ride," Scott said. "Scooter theft in the city is a huge issue."
He proposed a sidewalk parking permit as a way to address the issue of scooter owners needing to secure their scooter while also providing a source of revenue for the city.
Scott doesn't support a wide-scale change to the laws on the books, and says that riders have to bear some blame, especially in Goodman's case. "People choose to read the laws now the way they want them to read," said Scott, an attorney. "I hear about customers getting arrested all the time."
He said that some prospective owners are deterred by the complexity and strictness of the laws, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. "What's important to me is to have people who are licensed and insured on the road," Scott said.
The District's one-size-fits-all approach to residential parking results in inefficient allocation of a scarce resource. Tailoring prices by neighborhood for the city's residential parking permit (RPP) program could make the system more responsive to the unique needs of individual communities.
When DC introduced its RPP system in the 1970s, it was designed to ensure that residents had access to street parking in their neighborhoods. Residents could petition the city to enforce 2-hour only parking on their block with an exemption for vehicles issued a zone permit. The parking zones coincide with the boundaries set for each of the city's eight wards.
For more than 30 years, this parking permit regime has worked well to prevent commuters from parking on residential streets. However, the system was never designed to allocate scarce street spaces efficiently among neighborhood residents.
Today, over 200,000 vehicles are registered with the RPP program. In many neighborhoods where residential street parking is restricted, open spaces are still nearly impossible to find, especially at peak times. To fix these ongoing problems, DC should learn from the experiences of Seattle, Washington and set more granular prices for RPP stickers.
Data provided by the DMV reveal that over 70% of the nearly 280,000 vehicles registered in the District are part of the RPP program. An additional 3,255 reciprocity permits are issued to diplomats, military personnel, federal appointees, and temporary residents.
Of the total number of RPP permits issued, 75% are assigned to residents of wards 1, 2, 3, and 6. That probably comes as little surprise to residents of those wards who rely on street parking. The overly large parking boundaries do little to prevent same-ward drivers from parking far from their homes, and the low $15 annual cost per permit effectively encourages residents to keep their cars on the street.
Proposals to help alleviate parking woes have included longer enforcement hours, instituting resident-only parking (thus eliminating 2-hour parking for visitors), increasing the number of parking zones, and metering more street spaces near commercial areas. However, these fixes by themselves are merely band-aids.
The fact is that in much of the city there are just too many cars looking for too few spaces, yet changes to the RPP system appear to be near-impossible. Seemingly innocuous steps to alleviate parking demand, such as a proposal earlier this year to charge higher permit fees for multiple-vehicle households, draw intense opposition from some members of the council. What can break the deadlock?
Last year, the City of Seattle implemented a new parking system that increased the number of parking zones (they now have 40 such areas) and started charging households graduated permit fees based on the number of vehicles. But not all residents pay the same rate. Permit fees in each zone range from free to a maximum of $65 every two years in high-demand areas, more than double DC's rate.
The most opposition to DC's plan to charge higher multiple-vehicle permit fees came from representatives of wards that have the least number of RPP holders, which indicates that a one-size-fits-all approach may no longer be viable. Under a system akin to Seattle's, DC would be able to more subtly address the unique needs of individual neighborhoods.
Councilmembers, understandably, do not support higher fees for residents who are not contributing to the parking problems in other neighborhoods. This new proposed system may be more politically viable. Residents of wards without street parking problems would likely see no change to their current permits, and may even see a reduction in fees.
While parking rates would probably not change significantly in half the city's wards, parking-scarce neighborhoods would likely see higher graduated permit fees. Those rates should be priced to better reflect the actual demand for street parking to encourage car owners to find alternate spaces for their vehicles.
As a result, the demand for off-street spaces may rise and developers should be allowed to construct those additional spaces, if they so choose. The key is to find the natural equilibrium in parking demand, rather than keeping fees artificially low.
In order to efficiently price permit rates, the city needs a comprehensive count of the total number of zoned parking spaces. DDOT currently only tracks the total number of RPP blocks, rather than individual spaces. It may be possible to quickly complete this task by asking current parking enforcement officers to count the number of spaces as they work their beats. It would then be possible to better compare vehicle registrations and permits in a given area with the total number of available spaces.
Combined with other proposed actions to reduce the size of the city's parking zones and heightened enforcement, tailoring prices for each community, as Seattle has done, may be the best way to efficiently allocate a scarce public resource among residents.
how to spend the stimulus money. Maryland's John Porcari says they'll prioritize repairs over new projects, which is the right choice; VDOT head Pierce Homer wants to pay for repairs and some of the delayed projects, meaning potentially more freeway widenings or new freeways. Most likely, according to COG transportation planner Ronald Kirby, the Purple Line won't get any of this money. Update: Or maybe it will. Nobody really knows yet.
Screw nature: $200 million to repair the Mall's grass and keep the Jefferson Memorial from sinking underwater got cut from the stimulus. MoCo is cutting port-a-potties from Rock Creek Park in winter. And auto manufacturers have confirmed they plan to use public bailout money to keep suing the public for imposing higher clean air standards (via Ryan Avent).
Wires have their high points: That Bombardier wireless streetcar technology looks pretty cool but, writes Manifest Density, it'll probably be quite energy inefficient, likely wasting 20% of the power it consumes.
Thanks for reading, Examiner: It looks like the Examiner noticed GGW's weekend links about the emergency DMV rule for federal judges. Reporter Bill Myers called the DMV, who said "the emergency order sprang from 'a situation' recently," but wouldn't elaborate.
Cut transit and people stop riding transit: Maryland Politics Watch's Marc Korman reluctantly stopped riding MARC after recent service cuts (and falling gas prices). No word yet on whether he's changing his name to I-95 Korman.
Lose the LOS: Streetsblog SF explains how Level Of Service (LOS) warps traffic engineers' thinking and blocked important improvements in San Francisco. city and state planners are trying to dethrone LOS as the primary driver of traffic decisions.
Stop hatin' on K Street: Yglesias points out, "'K Street' is a synedoche for the influence peddling business, but it's also an actual street," which is definitely not full of lobbyists over in the Mount Vernon Triangle. "You wouldn't want to actually crack down on K Street, leaving out all the bad people on other streets but hitting the new Busboys & Poets coffee shop."
delves into the familiar question. He determines that the only eco-friendly option for your shopping bags is to "do what our counterparts do in many other countries of the world
Fixing the Mall: Holding 1.8 million people drew national attention to our downtrodden National Mall. The Post says we need to do better. The National Park Service wants to keep running things, while the National Coalition to Save Our Mall thinks we need an independent commission. Richard Layman suggests a "National Heritage Area", which NPS could co-manage in a public-private partnership similar to NYC's Bryant or Central Parks and without some of their stifling restrictions.
Federal judges need their out-of-state licenses? An emergency rulemaking in this week's DC Register "will exempt members of the Judicial Branch of the Federal government and their spouses from the requirement of surrendering out-of-state operator's permits when registering a motor vehicle." It doesn't explain why the judicial branch and their spouses, and nobody else, need an exemption from this particular rule, and why it's an emergency. Anyone know?
Last week, I helped organize a focus group of young professionals in Dupont Circle talking about their impressions of the neighborhood, area businesses, city government, the ANC, etc.
When asked about interactions with local government, two people immediately mentioned parking enforcement woes. One person had a fairly typical experience: he parked on the street, came back almost a week later in time for the next street cleaning, and discovered his car gone. In the interim, someone had put up Emergency No Parking signs, then towed the car.
Someone else had parked a car on the street, but also found it missing one day. DPW had no record of towing this car, so she filed a police report for a stolen vehicle. Months later, she found out from the DMV that her car had been actually towed around the corner to a nearby major street, where it had been sitting for months. That street had a rush hour parking restriction, so during those months it had been blocking a lane every single day. It was never towed from there, but had accumulated hundreds of dollars in unpaid tickets.
Let's solve this problem with technology. The DMV already collects email addresses. I suggest they set, or DPW, up a simple system to email people when they get a ticket or are towed. People could go online to opt in, or we could simply do it automatically. Then, if someone's car gets a ticket for violating an Emergency No Parking zone and is scheduled to be towed, the owner might find out in time to move the car. If a car gets courtesy-towed around the corner, they will find out; and if, as in the above case, DPW manages not to record it properly, they'll at least receive a notification when the car is first ticketed.
Our government's needn't restrict its interaction with parked cars to putting notices on the windshield and occasionaly moving them. We have easy ways to reach many citizens electronically. Let's use them.
Update: Mention parking enforcement and everyone's stories come up. Here's Ryan's.
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