D.C. Council will vote on bill to increase biker safety

Media Credit: Courtesy of James Harnett

The Safer Streets Amendment Act of 2022 prohibits vehicles making right turn on red lights and allows bikers to treat stop signs as yield signs.

The D.C. Council’s transportation committee approved an act to make walking and cycling in D.C. safer last month.

The Safer Streets Amendment Act of 2022 would prohibit vehicles from making right turns on red lights and allow bikers to treat stop signs as yield signs. The legislation came one week before cyclist Shawn O’Donnell was struck and killed in the 21st and I Street intersection by a Mack truck last month.

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh, chairwomen of the transportation committee, asked for the bill to be on the Council’s September agenda when they reconvene.

“This bill takes several important steps to reprioritize streets for people over cars and increase traffic safety for all, no matter how you get around the District,” Cheh told the Washington Post.

The Safer Streets Act was originally introduced by Council members in early February but went through public hearings and markups before the transportation committee recommended approval from the Council.

The truck struck O’Donnell, a State Department employee, when the driver tried turning right onto I Street from 21st Street while she was cycling alongside the truck. She was then transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead after all life-saving efforts failed.

Mayor Muriel Bowser prohibited right-on-red in 100 intersections in D.C. whereas the Safer Streets Act prohibits right-on-red in all intersections except where the District Department of Transportation finds right-on-red to be safer.

The bill allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, moves bikers through intersections quicker, allows bikers to keep their momentum and clarifies when bikers have the right of way.

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