U-turns across Pennsylvania Ave. bike lanes prohibited

Authorities in the District are cracking down on drivers who make U-turns across the bike lanes that run down Pennsylvania Ave.

“People call it America’s Main Street, but it’s my main commute coming into work every day,” says Shawn Gallagher.

Gallagher is the reason for the crackdown of a new law that bans drivers from making U-turns on bike lanes. He commutes using his bike three to four times a week from Virginia and is glad to see there is an effort to educate drivers on the new law.

“Removing the danger of getting hit by a turning car is a big thing for me and my family,” he says.

Police officers, people from the Department of Transportation and a few volunteers from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association were handing out flyers reminding drivers of the new rules Wednesday.

They chose Pennsylvania Ave. because that’s where there have been problems.

“We’ve had several crashes here and we want to make people stop that so we don’t have any more crashes,” says Jim Sebastian, DCDOT transportation planner.

After looking at a year’s worth of data, DDOT found there were 16 bicycle-related crashes on Pennsylvania Ave. Eleven of them were caused by drivers making U-turns.

“It’s a real safety issue,” says Shane Farthing, the executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. He admits education is a good way to start changing behavior in drivers.

“I never heard about that, sir,” says one cab driver. It was the first time he heard about the new law. The fine for making an improper turn is $100, but this time he just got a warning.

“There needs to be a continued enforcement to make sure that incentive to make a U-turn is overcome by the enforcement,” says Sebastian.