Wednesday, August 13 2008 @ 12:43 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
On Friday, August 15, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) will meet with the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to express concerns over recent actions by the department that are contributing to the sense that bicyclists and pedestrians are not being adequately protected on Washington, DC's roadways. These actions include:
• the failure to provide information about the investigation into the death of Alice Swanson;
• an ill-timed enforcement program targeting cyclists; and
• the failure to cite a driver for fleeing the scene of a crash.
Six weeks ago, Alice Swanson, a 22-year old cyclist, was killed at the intersection of 20th and R Streets NW. Aside from an interim report issued by the department, no additional information has been provided by the department that might help prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future. WABA has been trying to get more details from the Major Crash Investigation Unit but repeated calls to the unit have remained unanswered.
WABA also has serious concerns about the poorly timed and poorly informed recent sting operation against cyclists near 16th and U Streets NW. With the timing of the enforcement stings so close after the death of Alice Swanson, the department appears to be blaming the victim and the tragedy of Ms. Swanson's death deserves a much more comprehensive approach involving stronger enforcement of traffic laws, and education efforts aimed at ALL roadway users.
WABA is also very concerned by the department's recent response to the incident involving a pedestrian who was struck in a crosswalk on K Street in downtown DC. As widely reported in the news the driver was cited $50 for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk - with no arrest or penalty associated with the fact that he had also fled the scene of this crash. Under Title 50, section 2201.05 of the DC Code, the driver, if found guilty of fleeing the scene of a crash, would be subject to fines of not more than $500, or imprisonment of not more than 6 months.
Since the death of Ms. Swanson WABA has been working with the District Department of Transportation on designing improvements to the intersection where she was killed and also with the DC Council on legislative changes that would better protect those that walk and bike. However, without better enforcement of traffic laws and better understanding of the laws by police and cyclists, the effects of these efforts will be minimized. At the MPD meeting WABA will be specifically asking the police for the following:
1) detailed information about the investigation into Alice Swanson's death
2) better training of officers in bike and pedestrian laws
3) distribution of WABA's "Pocket Guide to DC Bike Laws" to all law enforcement officers
4) increased enforcement of traffic violations
5) support for increased fines for drivers that strike cyclists or pedestrians
It is the policy of the District of Columbia to promote safe walking and biking and MPD's role in that policy is critical. WABA will be sure to inform you of the results of the meeting. If you have any questions or other concerns that you feel need to be addressed please email waba"at"waba.org
Witnesses to Alice Swanson Crash Sought
The family of Alice Swanson is seeking to gather information about the circumstances by which Alice was struck and killed by a truck on the morning of Tuesday, July 8, 2008. If you, or anyone you know, has information about this, please contact James (Rory) Kelly, an investigator working on behalf of Alice's family. He can be contacted at (202) 661-0948. Please contact Rory and he will meet with you promptly.