Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tougher penalties for bike-related traffic offenses in DC

Today's Post has an article about a proposal from DC council members Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells "to assess points on a motorist’s driving record for bicycle-related traffic infractions." Here's the full text of the article, Drivers in D.C.: Watch the bikes or face points on your record:
Two D.C. Council members proposed legislation Tuesday to assess points on a motorist’s driving record for bicycle-related traffic infractions while also making it easier for bicyclists to move through intersections.

In the first of what could be a series of bills in the coming years aimed at making bicycling easier in the city, council members Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) are seeking to amend the Traffic Act of 1925.

If approved, for the first time, points could be assessed to a driver’s record if they are ticketed for failing to yield the right-of-way to a bicycle or are charged with colliding with a bicycle that has the right-of-way.

A motorist could be assessed three to six points, similar to assessments for speeding and other major traffic infractions.

The bill also requires applicants for a District driver’s license to demonstrate “knowledge of safely sharing roadways with pedestrians and bicycles” before being issued a license.

And to clarify existing laws mandating that bicyclists abide by all traffic laws, the bill would permit bicyclists to cross through intersections “while following the pedestrian traffic control signal” unless otherwise directed.

The bill comes as the city has installed 50 miles of bicycle lanes and plans to install five more miles per year for the foreseeable future.

In recent months, some of the lanes have been blocked by ongoing construction projects, such as those on rapidly developing 14th Street NW.

But the legislation will require contractors to “provide safe accommodation for pedestrians and bicycles” when a lane is blocked.

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