Bicycle anti-harassment law would close loophole, give cyclists rights after assault
WABA seeks law to protect bicyclists from driver assault and harassment
In the District of Columbia, exact statistics on this type of anti-cyclist harassment are hard to come by. Most incidents go unreported. And when the police are summoned to the scene the result is invariably “There’s not much that we can do.” Worse than this response, however, is the knowledge that there is little a cyclist can do after being attacked.
But the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and its allies are working to change that.
“There are criminal laws against roadway assault. But the criminal burden of proof is high, available witnesses are often scarce, and police are reluctant or unable to follow up if they did not witness the act themselves,” says WABA executive director Shane Farthing, adding that a civil suit is also possible, but “is likely to require an attorney and a fair bit of that attorney’s work. But because intimidation, assault, and harassment do not often lead to big monetary damages (unless the cyclist is significantly injured or killed as a result), most victims cannot afford to pursue such cases. This law would provide for attorneys fees and allow cyclists who otherwise could not afford legal representation to seek justice and compensation.”
In July, the city of Los Angeles passed the nation’s first bicycle anti-harassment law. This law states that “existing criminal and civil laws do not effectively prevent the unlawful harassment of bicyclists” and provides harassment victims with the ability to recover damages in addition to any legal fees. WABA’s proposed DC legislation would use similar language to close the loophole that allows drivers to harass and assault bicyclists without repercussion. Everyone has the right to not be harassed while going about their daily lives.
This law will give bicyclists a way to defend that right in a court of law.
Watch the assault video & read the proposed legislation online at http://waba.org/antiassault