WASHINGTON – District drivers should prepare themselves for new laws for bicyclists.
On Thursday, Mayor Vincent Gray signed the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013. Under the law, a few major things will change:
- A bicyclist can follow the pedestrian crosswalk signal at intersections, taking the same head start those on foot often get before a light turns green, unless signs indicate differently.
- Bicyclists are no longer required to have a bell on their bikes if they can alert drivers in another way — including their own voices.
- Failing to yield to a bike and colliding with a bike will be penalized the same as failing to yield to a pedestrian or colliding with one.
Additionally, if bike paths are blocked by construction, the city will create a detour.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is calling the amendment “a great victory for bicyclists in D.C, ,” saying it will help protect them on the road.
However, Andrew Wiener of the Washington City Paper writes, “D.C. cyclists: Much of the illegal behavior you’ve been engaging in is about to become legal.”
In his piece, Wiener writes that bicyclists previously disregarded laws regarding bells and traffic signals.
The new legislation is still subject to a 30-day waiting period while it’s submitted to Congress for review. Read the full law on the D.C. Council’s website.