“For the police department the relatively quick expansion of bicycling in the city has led to a need for better training in the bicycle regulations,” Crump said in an e-mail. Crump said officers are able to refer to bike association material as the department plans expands training.
In September, bicycle advocates met with the District’s Police Complaint Board to voice concern over police knowledge of the city’s bicycle laws. Hoagland thinks that there’s still progress to be made.
“We hear from one side that every officer is getting their new bike training,” Hoagland said, “and then we see an adult cyclist given a citation for not wearing a helmet or a single cyclist given a ticket for riding abreast.”
Riding abreast, a citation-worthy act for cyclists riding in groups of two or more and impeding traffic flow, is frequently issued to single cyclists who ride alongside or weave between cars. Police are “looking at the charge of ‘riding abreast’ and its application in a couple of bicycle-involved accidents,” Crump said.
Hoagland acknowledges that a significant challenge of bike advocacy is trying to encourage all cyclists to familiarize themselves with a common set of rules. The association’s 61 volunteer bike ambassadors are approaching their “busy season,” Hoagland said, and are hoping to hold enough classes to draw 15,000 people for the group’s “Bike to Work Day” in May.
To help make sure riders of all wheel counts are on the same page, local police will begin a spring Street Smart campaign this week across the region. The program is geared toward enforcing safe bicycling and safe driving.
But advocates say that even more can be done to make biking a safer mode of travel; in short, they want more funding for bike paths, lanes, walkways and pedestrian bridges in cities across the country. Bicyclists attending the National Bike Summit in the District this week will lobby for what they see as a lack of funding.
“Our goal is equity across modes of transportation,” Hoagland said. “Equal share of the roadway for every type of user.”