The 2016 ACPD Safe Bicycling Initiative

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This spring, the Arlington County Police Department is proactively taking steps to continue to make Arlington an even better place to ride a bicycle.  ACPD, as part of their County-wide “Safe Bicycling Initiative” (SBI), has rolled out a law enforcement guide and refresher training series for its officers to brush up on specific regulations as they pertain to motorists and people who ride bikes.  The law enforcement guide has been reviewed by Arlington’s police officers, County judges, and the Commonwealth Attorney ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to bicycles.

According to the SBI law enforcement guide, this initiative “will begin by educating motorists, cyclists and law enforcement in the county concerning the laws that apply to cycling.  When motorists and cyclists are educated on the laws regarding cyclists, each can share a mutual understanding of what their responsibilities are toward one another.  If motorists and cyclists can predict the actions of one another based on the legal rights each possess, crashes will occur less and respect between motorists and bicyclist will increase.” Sound familiar?

Officers will be reminded that “In Virginia, a cyclist is considered to have the rights of a motorist when operating on a roadway. Other vehicles on the roadway must respect the right of the cyclist to travel safely on that roadway.  Cyclists riding on the sidewalk, shared-use path, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties of a pedestrian.”

Police Cruisers

Expect to see officers paying more attention to people on bikes (obeying traffic signals, riding with lights, wrong way riding) as well as the way that motorists interact with them (3 feet to pass, failure to yield, improper interactions at crosswalks).  With this increased scrutiny, all users of the road may expect an uptick of citations (initially just as warnings for a short grace period), but in the long run will make the streets safer for everyone.

Starting at the end of March, the Police Department plans to communicate this training and increased attention on motorists and cyclists through its online outreach channels as well as public message signs.

Download a copy of the ACPD “Enforcing Bicycle Traffic Laws” Guide for a “cheat sheet” reference to specific Virginia code on some of the most common motorist and cyclist infractions that officers will be watching out for.

Kudos to the Arlington County Police Department for making the County the best place in the greater Washington area to ride a bike!

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