That means drivers are not allowed to move into the lanes to avoid conflict with other traffic. Taxis, Ubers and Lyfts are not permitted to pick up or drop off passengers there either. Commercial trucks should look elsewhere to load or unload merchandise.
Motor vehicles are allowed to stop in a bike lane only when necessary to enter a legal parking space or to follow the directions of a police officer, according to proposed revisions to existing city regulations.
“They are being very clear that the bike lanes are there for people who are biking,” said Greg Billing, an advocate with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. “Bike lanes should be clear and are not a place for parking, standing, waiting at any time.”
The proposed rules are in response to complaints from cyclists who say that their right of way is often blocked by trucks and cars and that little to no enforcement exists. Officials want to eliminate confusion among some enforcement officers who have found parts of the city’s regulations to be unclear, especially for taxi and ride-share operations — even though sections of the code establish restrictions, and fines for drivers who park in a bike lane recently increased to $150 from $65.
Inspectors with the Department of For-Hire Vehicles, which regulates taxis and ride-share services, have not been enforcing the bike lane rules, citing a vague section of the municipal regulation that says “All taxicab drivers shall pull as close to the curb or edge of the roadway as possible to take on or discharge passengers.” When the bike lane is on the edge of the road, they questioned whether that meant it is allowable to use it for drop-offs.
The revised regulations make clear that stopping, standing, parking and loading and unloading passengers, as well as any other obstructions of bike lanes, are prohibited. They also reiterate that other places are off limits to cars, even if there is no sign saying so, including crosswalks, bridges, sidewalks and bus lanes.
DDOT spokesman Terry Owens said the revised rules will enhance existing regulations by making them “easier to understand for travelers and those enforcing violations."
“The goal is to improve safety for people engaged in active transportation,” Owens said.
The rules, officials say, will add another layer of safety as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which has an ultimate goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities. Advocates say the revisions just clarify what is already supposed to be the law and say if approved it will be up to traffic enforcement officers to ensure motorists are respecting bike lanes.