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The debate over the etiquette of biking on a sidewalk could soon be resolved on some city streets if a newly introduced law makes it past the D.C. Council.
Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham introduced legislation today that would make biking on a sidewalk illegal when there is a bike lane running in the same direction available. Biking on the sidewalk is already illegal in the District’s Central Business District—-an infraction that comes with a $25 ticket. Outside of the business district, cyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks provided they do so in a “safe and non-hazardous manner.”
The Sidewalk Safety Amendment Act of 2014 would apply to one- or two-wheeled bikes—-sorry unicyclers—-and Segways. Riders under 12 years of age and bicycles with smaller than 20-inch wheels would still be permitted on the sidewalk.
The legislation defines a bike lane as a “demarcated lane in the public roadway for use primarily by bicycles and other permitted devices.”
Graham says he introduced the bill because he has received numerous reports of cyclists recklessly riding on sidewalks without regard for pedestrian safety. He cited a tragedy four years ago in which an elderly man died after he and his wife were struck by a hit-and-run cyclist on the sidewalk near the Convention Center.
“With so many miles of bike lanes now available, I think it’s time that rather than riding on sidewalks, bicyclists and others be required to use bike lanes,” Graham said in a statement. “I think this bill will help to encourage the construction of even more bicycle lanes for the safety of all.”
Graham’s bill still needs to be sent to a committee and approved by the entire Council before it reaches the mayor’s desk for final approval.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery