A letter from Mickey Bazelon {Aug. 11} complaining about bicyclists' lack of bells to warn pedestrians argued that the D.C. government should require them to have bells on their bikes.

D.C. law already requires that bells be used. In fact, bicycles cannot be ridden in the District unless they are registered, and they can't be registered until they have a working bell or horn. In addition, the brakes must be in working order, and the bicycle must have a light and a rear reflector. There is also a law prohibiting bicyclists from riding on sidewalks in the central business district. In this area, riding on sidewalks is allowed only where the sidewalk is posted as a bike route.

Legislation introduced by Nadine Winter is aimed at "commercial bicycle operators" (including couriers), who constitute a large percentage of downtown cyclists during workday hours. It asks that couriers be required to be licensed, which would entail 1) a $50 yearly fee, 2) successful completion of a safety training program and 3) carrying an identifying tag easily visible on the bicycle and a photo ID. This would enable people to report a courier in the event that he did disregard the law.

However, there is another side to the bicycling issue, and that is the feeling shared by Mickey Bazelon and others that bicyclists do not belong on the paths and trails used by walkers and joggers in the Washington area. There are many law-abiding bicyclists, including thousands who bicycle to work and use the many bike paths for recreation, who are quite aware of the need to warn walkers of their intentions and do so in a respectful manner. I don't believe these bicyclists should be penalized for the behavior of those who choose to break the law.


Executive Director

Washington Area Bicyclist Association