WASHINGTON — Whether you’re a lobbyist, a Congressional staffer or a tourist, thousands of people drive regularly to Capitol Hill and speak to lawmakers about important matters.
But where do they park?
How do they get around?
How do they get to that important lunch meeting on the Hill?
U.S. Capitol Police rewrote the traffic regulations in order to address all the new ways people get around. The department also updated parking rules to address new ways to pay for spots and the growing demand for fewer spaces.
“I always suggest that people look at public transportation, biking, other ways to get around the city — particularly on Capitol grounds, where parking is very limited,” says Capitol Police Lt. Kimberly Schneider.
The 179-page document now covers bicycles, Segways and pedicabs, treating them differently from motor vehicles. With the growth of Capital Bikeshare, police are seeing many more people getting around on two wheels rather than four. Segways are now popular on tours, particularly between the Capitol Hill landmarks.
“Thirty years ago, there were no Segways. And so these are things we have to be able to address because they are present and it’s a modern era,” Schneider says.
“We are a campus that has to balance security with openness. That means we are talking to people on bicycles. We are talking to people who are on foot. We are talking to people who are on Segways.”
A new chapter has been added regarding taxis, to address some of the changes in D.C. rules and regulations towards cabs over the last several years.
Other parking and minor moving violations have been rewritten to make it easier for the average person to understand the regulations.
“We wanted to make some of these regulations more straightforward, especially those with a lot of technical language,” Schneider says.
“For example, ‘brake force deceleration per second’ has been written to say ‘All brakes shall be maintained in good working order.'”
The U.S. Capitol has sole jurisdiction to issue tickets around Congress, the House and Senate offices, and near the Supreme Court and Library of Congress. D.C. ticket writers are not allowed to issue parking tickets, although any ticket from U.S. Capitol Police still gets adjudicated at the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
Unlike most tickets, virtually all the U.S. Capitol Police tickets are still hand-written. That has not changed since the 1980s.
“If you were around in the ’80s on the grounds, it looked a lot different,” says Schneider. “So if you look a document that has not undergone a major amendment in over 30 years, then of course you’re going to see some changes. And after 30 years, it becomes necessary to update these rules and regulations.”
The new rules took effect June 1.