The District Department of Transportation recently finalized a much needed update to the rules of the road for e-bikes in DC. Most of the updates clarify that a person riding a “motorized bicycle” (aka most e-bikes) has the same rights and responsibilities as a person on a standard bike. But the biggest change is that the rules no longer prohibit most e-bikes on DC’s off-street trails!
As of December 2022, Title 18 subsection 1201.18 of the DC Municipal Regulations is repealed, so it is now legal to operate a motorized bicycle on any sidewalk, off-street bikepath, or bicycle route within the District. The change is more of an update to reflect reality than a policy shift. After all, most e-bike owners and e-bikeshare users have been happily riding their bikes on DC’s off-street trails unaware for years without issue. And while we are not aware of any instances of ticketing or enforcement, we welcome the update.
E-bikes are fun and an incredible option for replacing some car trips. They allow people to travel longer distances, climb steep hills, carry heavy loads or children and generally reduce some of the barriers to making trips by bike. Most e-bikes are just normal bikes that offer a little help, so they absolutely belong on off-street trails like the Met Branch, Anacostia River, Oxon Run, Klingle Valley and Marvin Gaye Trail. Read more on WABA’s philosophy around e-bikes here.
Why were e-bikes ever prohibited on trails in the first place?
DC’s laws and road rules are behind other states when it comes to electric bicycles. Over the past 7 years, with leadership from People for Bikes, 40+ states, including Maryland, Virginia, and the federal government have updated laws to classify and regulate the modern electric bicycle. Most adopted similar definitions for Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 e-bikes, which make it far easier to describe where and how those bikes may be used.
So far, the DC Council and DDOT have relied on existing legal definitions for “motorized bicycle” and “motor-driven cycle” which were first introduced into DC law in response to the rise in popularity of mopeds in the 1970’s. At the time, that often meant internal combustion engines, significant weight, and other safety concerns that put them in a very different category than a typical bicycle.
So it was natural to prohibit them from sidewalks and trails. Over the years, DC has tweaked definitions and requirements to account for new technology. But, compared to the Class 1, 2, 3 system, it is a messy situation that barely accounts for the e-bikes on the market.
What is a Motorized Bicycle?
Today DC law defines, a “motorized bicycle” as a vehicle that has:
(a) A post mounted seat or saddle for each person that the device is designed and equipped to carry;
(b) A vehicle with two (2) or three (3) wheels in contact with the ground, which are at least sixteen inches (16 in.) in diameter;
(c) Fully operative pedals for human propulsion; and
(d) A motor incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than twenty miles per hour (20 mph) on level ground.
A motorized bicycle shall be a motorcycle when operated by motor at speeds in excess of thirty miles per hour (30 mph) and the operator shall be required to have on his or her possession a valid motorcycle endorsement. A motorized bicycle shall be a motor-driven cycle when operated by motor at speeds in excess of twenty miles per hour (20 mph) and the operator shall be required to have on his or her possession a valid driver’s license. (D.C. Law 19-290) Title 18 DCMR 9901.1
Comparing this definition to the e-bikes sold in most bike shops today, most Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes fit the “motorized bicycle” definition because their electric motors are limited to 20mph. Class 3 e-bikes, which can reach 28mph under motor power, poorly match the definition of motor-driven cycle.
As DC considers implementing an electric bicycle rebate program to support residents and businesses in purchasing e-bikes, it may be time to bring DC in line with other states’ definitions.To read the official notice of rulemaking from the DC Record, click here.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will hold a virtual public meeting to discuss the concept engineering for the rehabilitation of the Suitland Parkway Trail, a 1.7-mile paved trail that runs along Suitland Parkway from Pomeroy Road SE to Southern Avenue.
DDOT plans to rehabilitate the trail include re-paving and widening, adding a crash barrier between the trail and the roadway, and adding trail and street lights. Additional changes may include adding new connections to the trail from neighborhood streets. Ultimately, the trail will connect to the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge and the Anacostia River Trail. This is the first public meeting for the concept engineering project.
On Dec 21, 2022, some parts of the Safe Streets Amendment Act of 2022 became official law in DC, bringing new rights and responsibilities for people riding bikes, e-bikes, scooters and personal mobility devices. Here is what you need to know.
All of the new allowances below apply to a “rider” which the DC law § 50–2201.02.14A now defines as a “person riding a bicycle, motorized bicycle, e-bicycle, electric mobility device, or other personal mobility device. The term “rider” does not include a person operating a motor-driven cycle or motorcycle.”
Sometimes called the Delaware Yield or the Bicycle Safety Stop, bicycle stop as yield is now allowed in Washington, DC. Simply put, a person riding a bike, e-bike or scooter may treat a stop sign as a yield sign. They may proceed through an intersection controlled by a stop sign without fully stopping if, and only if, they slow down, look for hazards, and determine that no other vehicles, road users, or pedestrians have the right of way at the intersection.
Stop as yield allows a person on a bike or scooter to maintain some momentum and maneuverability, reduce the time spent in the intersection and minimize exposure to crash risks. DC joins 9 states (as of 2023) that allow bicycle stop as yield in the US. For more on the safety benefits of Stop as Yield, see this fact sheet from NHTSA.
The new DC law lays out the following requirements for stop as yield:
“A rider approaching a stop sign may go straight through the intersection or make a turn without stopping; provided, that the rider:
(1) Is traveling at an appropriate speed to reasonably assess and avoid hazards;
People riding bikes and scooters often have much better situational awareness than people in cars, so we are well-suited for this new option. But you should always approach an intersection with caution and be ready to fully stop at the stop sign before the stop bar. Trees, fences, vehicles or road geometry may block your ability to see other road users or hazards. Be sure to look left, right, straight, and left again at the road and sidewalks. Use caution around road work or people directing traffic.
Remember that stop as yield only applies when no other road users have the right of way. In all other cases, the law, drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, will expect you to fully stop, then proceed only when it is your turn.
Bicycle Right Turn on Red
Even as the new law commits DC to prohibit vehicle right turn on red signals by 2025, it clarifies that people riding bikes, e-bikes, and scooters are permitted to turn right on a red signal under certain conditions.
“A rider approaching a steady red traffic control signal may make a right turn, provided that the rider:
As with stop as yield, caution and situational awareness are essential. A bicyclist must always first fully stop before the stop line. You are always permitted to stop and wait for the green light, if you prefer.
Bicyclists May Use Leading Pedestrian Interval
Since 2013, people on bikes in DC have been permitted to follow the walk signal to cross a street, including during the “leading pedestrian interval” when the walk signal activates a few seconds before the green light to give pedestrians a head start and increased visibility.
The new law makes minor changes to clarify the existing law and now reads:
“A rider may follow the pedestrian traffic control signal, including a leading pedestrian interval, for the rider’s direction of travel.” DC Code § 50–2201.04d.(d)
Bicycle Red Light as Stop Where Signed
The law also sets up the future option to allow bicyclists to treat a red light as a stop sign at specific intersections where signage is posted to expressly permit it. DDOT has not shared any plans to allow red light as stop at any intersections or defined criteria under which this would be permitted. A less restrictive red light as stop provision was included in an early draft of the bill, but changed in the final law in response to concerns raised by DDOT and others during the bill’s hearing.
“A rider approaching a steady red traffic control signal may go straight through the intersection or make a left turn; provided, that DDOT has posted signage expressly permitting such movements at that intersection, and that the rider:
Q: Where does the new bicycle stop as yield law apply?
A: The bicycle stop as yield rule applies to public streets and trails within Washington, DC, but not necessarily on federally controlled streets, trails or land (eg. land managed by the National Park Service, US Capitol Grounds or military). Applicability of local and state laws on federal land is complicated and we are seeking clarity. About 18% of land in DC is owned and controlled by the federal government.
Q: Does the stop as yield rule allow people on bikes to “blow” through a stop sign?
A: No. A person riding a bike, e-bike, or scooter must be “traveling at an appropriate speed to reasonably assess and avoid hazards” and “yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.” The law does not allow people on bikes to ignore traffic conditions or other users at the intersection.
Q: Does this new law allow drivers or motorcycle riders to treat stop signs as yield signs?
A: No, this new traffic rule only applies to people riding bikes, electric bikes, or scooters. Specifically, the law applies to what it defines as a “rider” or a “person riding a bicycle, motorized bicycle, e-bicycle, electric mobility device, or other personal mobility device. The term “rider” does not include a person operating a motor-driven cycle or motorcycle,” DC Code § 50–2201.02.14A
Q: Where can I learn about other DC laws and regulations for bicycling in DC?
A: See our DC Bike Law Guide here. Note that the online and print versions of this guide were last updated in 2022 and do not yet reflect the above law or recent changes to e-bike regulations. Updates coming soon.
During these past few months, our advocacy team was busy collaborating with partners and volunteers on the ground—racking up some major victories to make our transportation system more sustainable for all road users. Check out our winter roundup, which includes info on campaign updates, the building of new coalitions, upcoming events and actions, and more!
Low Stress Bike Network
2022 was a big year in expanding DC’s Low Stress Network! WABA continued our citywide campaign to build DC’s Low Stress Network. This campaign builds support and buy-in for a connected, safe, and low-stress network of biking and walking streets that get people where they need to go.
Through campaigns, action alerts, and persistent organizing we built demand and showed up to support DDOT completing 3.8 miles of new protected bike lanes, beginning construction on 7.8 miles, and completing planning on another 3.3 miles, now awaiting construction!
To read more about our 2022 Low-Stress bike network campaign victories, check out this blog post!
If you are interested in joining an advocate-driven campaign to build an entire network, head to waba.org/network, click on Join the Campaign and fill out the form! Let’s complete the whole network!
2023-2024 ANC Vision Zero Caucus
For the past two years, WABA has convened a city-wide vision zero caucus to keep a line of connection and collaboration between transportation advocates and ANC commissioners who champion and advocate for transportation safety issues.
We are now restarting the Caucus again for the 2023-2024 term!
The Caucus has collaborated on city issues e.g Movedc, Council Legislation, Budget, while also sharing transportation advocacy tips and resources. Past guest speakers at Caucus meetings:
Council Member Christina Henderson
Council Member Charles Allen
DDOT Director Lott
Transportation Data Experts
The Caucus has had multiple social events to build community among transportation advocates.
The Caucus had met bi-monthly but that could change this term. Chairs/Co-chairs of the Caucus help set the agenda and direction of the caucus.
If you are an ANC Commissioner or know of an ANC Commissioner who may be interested in joining our caucus this coming term, click here to have them or you fill out this interest form!
Over the course of the last few months, the D.C. Council passed three transformative pieces of legislation thanks to the leadership of Council members Janeese Lewis-George, Christina Henderson, Charles Allen, and Mary Cheh. Our council leaders also heard from hundreds of WABA supporters in the form of emails asking them to pass these bills.
This year the following bills will go into effect in Washington, D.C.
The Safe Streets for Students Amendment Act uses a number of tools to make it safer for students to get to school by codifying and expanding programs that address unsafe infrastructure as well as bullying and harassment. The transportation element of the bill:
establishes an Office of Safe Passage reporting directly to the Mayor;
requires plans for infrastructure upgrades to promote school commute safety;
increases the size of school zones—the areas where DDOT implements school safety infrastructure;
and requires DDOT to recommend to the Council how to create full-time crossing guard jobs.
The Automated Traffic Enforcement System Revenue Designation Amendment Act requires that funds from automated traffic enforcement (e.g., speed cameras) be spent on traffic safety improvements, changing the current practice of sending that money to DC’s general fund.
The Metro for DC Amendment Act takes a massive step toward making transit more equitable in DC:
Metrobuses will be free in DC.
Dozens of major bus lines – in all 8 wards – will run 24 hours a day.
Creates a $10 million a year new investment in bus service improvements.
And, once funded, all DC residents will receive a $100 monthly subsidy to ride the metro rail.
These bills will make a significant impact on how people get around in the District!
This past October, Councilmember Brooke Pinto held a Ward 2 bike ride to solicit ideas and feedback from residents. One idea that came out of that bike ride was the District rolling out an electric bike rebate program, and now it could soon be on the way!
This January, Council member Pinto introduced a bill to create the District’s first electric bike rebate program! You can read more about the legislation here.
In 2023, we look forward to supporting the passage of this legislation and other bold pieces of legislation to make our transportation system sustainable for everyone!
Beach Drive Recap
Simply put- we won! On November 2, 2022, the National Park Service Announced that Beach Drive will remain open for people all year round.
Upper Beach Drive’s car-free recreation zones have been enormously popular, and now, thanks to the work of the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek (PARC) – of which WABA is a coalition member, and so many others, they are permanent!
This campaign took years of organizing, and if you are interested in reading a recap on the history of this campaign, click here!
Zoo Loop Trail and Bridge
WABA was excited to hear that the Zoo-loop trail was reopened, including a new 110-foot pedestrian bridge, however we were disappointed to hear that the trail would only be open from 7am to 5pm. In response to these inconvenient hours, we met with Congresswoman Norton’s office to support her efforts to introduce legislation to expand the hours, and we also started a petition asking the National Zoo to extend the hours. We will continue to advocate for the expansion of the trail hours to ensure that all residents will have reasonable access to the trail.
WABA Advocacy Happy Hour
WABA’s advocacy team hosted a social happy hour to celebrate some of our campaign successes in 2022 and give a toast to the folks who made it happen: volunteers like you!
We are thankful to Councilmember Brianne Nadeau who stopped by to chat with some of our amazing volunteers. In 2023, we plan to host more social happy hour events around the region, so stay tuned!
Prince George’s County
Prince George’s County Pedestrian & Bicyclist Behavioral Study Community meeting.
In October, our team attended the Prince George’s County Pedestrian & Bicyclist Behavioral Study Community meeting. According to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, this study will examine whether the presence and location of transportation facilities affect pedestrian and bicyclist behaviors and how to design such facilities that can best anticipate and accommodate future active transportation users.
The findings will help inform the Planning Department in providing recommendations in area master plans, evaluating submitted development applications, and ensuring conformance with the adopted subdivision and zoning regulations. The next external stakeholder meeting for the study will take place in February 2023. Contact the planner coordinator to get more information.
Construction work is beginning on a crucial missing link to the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail in Hyattsville.
In November, construction work began on a project that is key because it will directly link the Trolley Trail to paths along the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River, which heads towards Montgomery County, and the Northeast Branch, which leads to D.C.
WABA has been a long-time advocate of this missing link and we were excited to hear the news that construction has started! Please visit the project website to track its progress!
This past November, WABA held an introductory advocate training for Montgomery County residents who are interested in making Montgomery County more bikeable. During the training we reviewed how the County sets priorities, collects input, and makes decisions about transportation needs. We also learned about the process, timeframes, identifying decision makers, and our levers to steer them towards safer streets. If you missed the training but are interested in getting involved, please email our Montgomery County Organizer, Peter Gray at email@example.com!
Ride for Your Life Recap.
On November 19th, Dan Langenkamp, the Washington Area Bicycle Association, and PeopleForBikes hosted a bike ride in memory of Sarah Langenkamp who was killed due to traffic violence. Over 1,800 bike riders rode from Bethesda, Maryland, to Capitol Hill, where advocates and government officials spoke to demand stronger policies for safer streets.
The event was extremely powerful and moving, and we are deeply committed to the organizing work that will be necessary to ensure Maryland’s roads are safe for all users.
Old Georgetown Road (MD 187)
In October, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration announced a plan to install 3.1 miles of protected bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road (MD 187) in North Bethesda between West Cedar Lane and Nicholson Road, reduce speed limits, and narrow driving lanes as part of a regular repaving project.
While not perfect, this is the right plan for immediate SHA action, which claims space for vulnerable people and creates opportunities for short-term improvement. This plan, being implemented now, still needs vocal support to ensure it sets a positive precedent for SHA action, and you can show your support by taking our action petition here!
In addition to the petition, on January 8th, WABA, Action Committee for Transit, and Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets hosted a bike ride to show our support for the bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road. Over 120 people came out to walk, bike, and roll to show their support! We were thankful for the strong show of support for these bike lanes!
Maryland General Assembly Update
After a three year hiatus, the Bike Maryland Symposium is back! Advocates are invited to come to Annapolis on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 to gather with other bicycle advocates from across the state of Maryland, learn, share, and advocate for change.
The Symposium will take place at the Annapolis City Hall, just a short walk to the Maryland State House. Over coffee, Bike Maryland’s leadership will review its advocacy plans for the 2023 session, and share more about the revitalized organization and Bike Maryland’s new partnership with WABA.
We will also hear from State Senators, Delegates and Governor Moore’s administration about plans for better, safer biking in 2023. Then attendees will head to the state house to meet with Senators, Delegates and their staff to inform them and share perspectives on bills to make State Highways safer and to increase funding for bike infrastructure throughout Maryland.
This is an important advocacy event! To rsvp click here!
Georgia Avenue Pedestrian Safety Walk
On December 20th, WABA, Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets, and Action Committee for Transit hosted a safety walk with Montgomery Council Chair Evan Glass, Delegate Vaughn Stewart, and Montgomery Councilmember Natali Fani-González.
During the walk we discussed the vision zero changes that need to be implemented on Georgia Avenue to ensure no life is lost while traveling on the road. This year, we look forward to working with elected officials to improve our roads and meet our vision zero goals.
Crystal City Bike Network
The Arlington County project team has released the final plan for the Crystal City Bike Network. This year, WABA and our coalition partners will be focused on implementation of the Crystal City Bike Network, and we will be calling on our supporters to support us in these efforts.
Stay tuned for ways to get involved in the campaign to make long-lasting safety changes to National Landing.
Transportation Projects Impacting Alexandria In NVTA Long-Range Plan
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority adopted its long-range transportation plan in December. The adoption was the final step in a two-year public engagement process to prioritize transportation funding in Northern Virginia.
Check out the 37 projects in Alexandria that were included in the plan. WABA looks forward to working with our partners to ensure these projects are implemented to create a multimodal future for Alexandria.
ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan
Fairfax County is updating and combining the Bicycle Master Plan and the Countywide Trails Plan into the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan.
WABA has been actively involved in the approval and roll out of this plan and we look forward to the next phase of public engagement in 2023. To learn more about the plan and to get updates please visit the project website here.
This year there will be elections throughout Northern Virginia, and WABA will be working with coalition partners to ensure our supporters are educated on the transportation policy positions of all candidates.
In collaboration with coalition partners, WABA will be rolling out transportation election pledges, questionnaires, and meet-and-greets for candidates running for local offices.
Although WABA does not endorse any candidate for any elected office, we will work to ensure our supporters are educated on where the candidates stand on our collective issues.
Capital Trails Coalition (CTC) Updates
Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC)’s Recreational Trails Summit
NVRC hosted the Northern Virginia Recreational Trails Summit on October 20th, 2022 to explore region wide priorities and needs for greater access and connectivity between parks, communities, and trails in Northern Virginia.
Through presentations and roundtables, over 60 local, state, federal, and community partners came together to discuss access to funding sources, support for communities through the development of connected trail systems, the status of the region’s data and mapping efforts, and other regional opportunities for collaboration.
Our Capital Trails Coalition team co-facilitated a workshop on “Collaborating on Priorities & Moving Forward Together”. We were honored to contribute to the summit and look forward to working with NVRC and other partners this year!
East Potomac Park
This past October, the Capital Trails Coalition hosted a site visit to East Potomac Park to celebrate the Long Bridge bike and pedestrian expansion, and explore connectivity options.
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) will receive $20M to build a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Potomac River between Long Bridge Park in Arlington, VA and East and West Potomac Parks in Washington, DC. Read more about the plans here.
Learn more about what the CTC has been up to here!
Interested in staying up-to-date on trail updates on social media? Follow the CTC on Twitter @TrailsCoalition.
Families for Safe Streets Coalition Updates
WABA has been busy collaborating with our Families for Safe Streets chapters throughout the region!
D.C. Families for Safe Streets
In honor of World Day of Remembrance, the DC chapter of Families for Safe Streets installed signs at over 30 crash sites across all eight Wards memorializing loved ones and survivors of traffic violence.
Many thanks to their volunteers and members Ashton, Bryan, Christine, Dana and family, Helaina, Jennifer, Jessica, Karthik, Sabrina, and Stephanie.
D.C. Families for Safe Streets also hosted an action petition calling on Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Councilmembers to work together to fully fund and implement life-saving laws now.
Montgomery County Families For Safe Streets
Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets, Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Action Committee for Transit co-sponsored an observance of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (November 20). The event took place at the Rockville Metro Station.
We provided an opportunity for family and friends of road traffic victims in Montgomery County to share your memories, concerns, and requests with our community.
Northern Virginia chapters of Families for Safe Streets
Northern Virginia Families for Safe Streets (NoVA FSS) held three World Day of Remembrance events in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax.
NoVA FSS goals with these WDoR events were to:
Call attention to the issue of traffic fatalities and serious injuries on pedestrians and other vulnerable road users;
Elevate the voices of those who have been most impacted by traffic crashes;
Advocate for traffic regulations that will promote safer streets on our roads, and
Promote the Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries in all three Northern Virginia jurisdictions of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be connected to one of our Families for Safe Streets chapter leaders or if you live in Prince George’s County and have an interest in starting a chapter in Prince George’s County.
Washington Region Vision Zero Summit
This year’s Summit will take place in June 2023! This conference brings together elected officials, decision-makers, advocates, thought leaders, and the private sector to share best practices, insights and innovations to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our region’s streets and highways.
Please find a recap of the 2022 Vision Zero Summit here.
Police out of Traffic Enforcement
The Police out of Traffic Enforcement coalition held a campaign kick-off event in October at Martin Luther King Jr. Library with over 100 residents in attendance. Our advocacy director, Jeremiah Lowery was one of the guest speakers on a panel to discuss the topic. The Police out of Traffic Enforcement coalition will continue to hold conversations with elected officials and community members, as they seek to move some traffic enforcement responsibilities to the Department of Transportation. If you are interested in learning more about this topic or want to get involved email email@example.com.
Lobbying to Decriminalize Street Vending
This past November, WABA joined advocates and street vendors to lobby for Council bills 24-49 and 24-50 to decriminalize street vending and make it easier to acquire a license.
Led by Beloved Community Incubator (BCI), Street vendors are responding to DC’s carceral methods of treating this population of working-class Washingtonians with deep history providing for the whole city.
Vendors cite frequent harassment by police, even those with valid licenses. Many vendors have had their livelihoods confiscated and steep fines imposed against them for minor infractions, like vending too close to the curb.
WABA fully supports the efforts of street vendors to have more public space for people and we look forward to the passage of Council bills 24-49 and 24-50.
The 2022 Young, Gifted & Green 40 Under 40 Awards
Our advocacy director, Jeremiah, received a 2022 Young Gifted & Green 40 under 40 award for his advocacy efforts related to transportation equity.
Our team is growing! In January, we welcomed our new D.C. vision zero coordinator, sangam ‘alopeke! sangam will conduct outreach and engagement throughout D.C., so please say hi when you see sangam!
Also, Kevin O’Brien transitioned to his new role as the WABA Virginia organizer! Kevin will be working with our coalition partners and supporters to expand our bike and trail network throughout Northern Virginia!
Later this month we will be hiring a new Maryland organizer to mobilize our supporters and coalition partners for much needed traffic safety improvements in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.
We are excited that our capacity to achieve bigger and stronger advocacy victories has been expanded this year!
Official Testimonies and Comments Submitted by WABA