Shane Farthing of cyclist advocacy group Washington Area Bicyclists Association has a few words of praise for how MPD handled last week’s crash where a turning truck hit a cyclist who was running a red light. Initially the Capital Bikeshare user was cited for a) not wearing a helmet b) running a red light and c) failing to yield the right of way. One problem was that adults over the age of 16 aren’t required to wear a helmet, so on that point, the cyclist wasn’t breaking the law. Farthing notes:
[…O]n further review, MPD dismissed that ticket. And importantly, the officer reports that she did interview the cyclist to get his side of the story.
These are significant steps. We have not seen a full culture change at MPD in which all officers apply the law to bicyclists properly and there is still a significant “windshield perspective” issue that often affects crash responses. But the fact that, in this case, a mechanism was in place to ensure that the police’s response would be reviewed by a more senior officer with an understanding of the substantive bicycle law and the ongoing procedural concerns surrounding bicycle crashes shows progress.
On one hand, I wouldn’t praise MPD too much for walking back an improperly issued citation in a high profile case—they’re being watched like hawks by orgs like WABA and other advocates. But it is a good sign that the law seems to be getting applied properly in this case.
Photo by James D. Schwartz via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License