Pedestrians, rejoice! Bicylists soon will face much higher fines for violating District of Columbia traffic laws -- if the police, by extending their ceusade against jaywalkers and red-light runners, will get around to an overdue crackdown on biking violations.
The D.C. Public Works Department, which now has jurisdiction over transportation, has served notice that by mid-May it will raise the present flat $5 fine for all biking violations to either $10 or $25. At that, for many violations, bikers will be getting off cheap. We'll get to that later.
Fines of $10 will be imposed for such violations as failure to register a bike or operating an unregistered bike, carrying oversized items that prevent the operator from keeping at least one hand on a handlebar, or improper parking of a bike.
Most moving violations will cost $25 -- hazardous driving, failure to yield right of way, excessive speed, blowing a whistle in order to warn off legally crossing pedestrians while cutting through a crosswalk, traveling on the sidewalk in the downtown and certain other neighborhoods and failure to obey a traffic signal. (By my informal count, two bikers were seen in the past month or so stopping at downtown traffic lights, while literally dozens barreled through them.)
If bikers were treated equally with automobile drivers, which seems only fair, running a red light would cost $75 and driving the wrong way on a one-way street would cost $50. If enforced, the laws against these would produce a bonanza for the city.