Are Bikes Becoming Too Popular in DC?

Katie Rogers reports on Washington D.C.'s struggles with a burgeoning bicycle culture, as incidents of accidents, harassment, and intimidation rise.
March 22, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Aided by the runaway success of the Capital Bikeshare program, Washington D.C. has seen a rapid rise in the size of its bicycle user population, which surged by more than 20% from 2010 to 2011, according to rush-hour counts conducted by the District Department of Transportation. As Rogers reports, that surge has brought with it some growing pains for the city at large, as officials, police, motorists, and bike riders alike adjust to the need for an already congested city to share the road with bicycles.

"Already one of the most active cities in the country, second in biking and walking only to Boston," as the region prepares to expand its bikeshare program in the years ahead, education for cyclists and police on the rules of the road and best safety practices are needed.

Bike advocates such as Daniel Hoagland with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) acknowledge the need for better training for cyclists. "Hoagland admits a significant challenge of bike advocacy is trying to encourage all cyclists to familiarize themselves with a common set of rules. WABA'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," notes Rogers.

But it's not cyclists alone who need to be made more aware of existing bicycle laws. "'For the police department the relatively quick expansion of bicycling on the city has led to a need for better training in the bicycle regulations,' [police spokeswoman Gwendolyn] Crump said in an e-mail."

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Published on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in The Washington Post
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