On her blog, WTOP’s Kate Ryan has a quick take on the cyclist as crime-fighter, inspired by a story in which the presence of a cyclist scared away a rapist in Montgomery Village. She also references a case earlier this year in which a cyclist provided critical evidence in a hit-and-run in Dupont Circle. These stories show the value of “eyes on the street” and the added value of the highly mobile sets of eyes of bicyclists. We need to take advantage of this ability to provide cycling eyes on the street to help protect our fellow cyclists. Currently, one of WABA’s top priorities is to improve enforcement in the District and region–both generally as applied to cyclists and, more acutely, in post-crash situations. Unfortunately, we have gained limited traction to date in improving MPD’s understanding of traffic laws as applied to cyclists, and we continue to receive calls each week in which a struck cyclist in wrongly cited for an infraction. We at WABA have written, called, petitioned, and testified on this issue–including before DC’s Committee on the Judiciary, where a parade of crash victims and family members told their stories of injury and, in many cases, improper follow-up and post-crash citation and investigation. We explained that the incident report forms used by MPD do not account for bicycles and should be changed to ask appropriate questions for bike-auto crashes. We discussed the need for greater training of officers on traffic safety, the rules for bicycle infrastructure, and the importance of enforcing rules keeping bike infrastructure safe for cyclists. We have been working with Councilmember Mendelson’s office since that hearing, but to date there has been little tangible improvement. Our crash tracker and the many calls and messages we receive show quite clearly that the situation is not improving. So while we will continue our efforts with Councilmember Mendelson, the Committee staff, and MPD to make improvements to the system–we also want to empower the cycling community to protect itself to the best of its ability. If we cannot immediately ensure that the officer who responds to a crash will know the law as it applies to cyclists or apply it properly, we at least want to increase the chances that the involved cyclist (if capable) or a passing cyclist can lend assistance. Nobody really wants to think about the repercussions of a crash or the legal process that comes afterward. But more trained cyclists on the streets looking our for each other makes everyone safer. On July 19th we’re going to do our best to explain the process and your rights, and empower all cyclists to respond appropriately in the event of a crash–whether you are the victim or a witness. We’re all safer with more eyes on the streets–especially if those eyes are trained to protect cyclists. Join us on the 19th at 6pm to learn more about how to respond in the event of a crash–whether you’re a party or a witness. RSVP here.