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D.C. moves to keep cars, including Ubers and delivery trucks, out of bike lanes

Planning officials are advancing stricter public-space regulations under the city’s Vision Zero initiative

A bike route sign in D.C.
Tupungato/Shutterstock

Uber, Lyft, and taxi vehicles picking up or dropping off passengers as well as delivery trucks transporting goods would be explicitly barred from blocking city bike lanes under new rules that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced last Friday. The changes aim to close loopholes in the current rules as part of D.C.’s Vision Zero traffic safety program.

It is already unlawful to obstruct District bike lanes in most instances, but the proposed regulations would expand the ban on doing so to include situations where drivers try to “avoid conflict with other traffic” and “load or unload passengers or freight,” per DDOT. Practices such as these endanger cyclists by bringing speeding vehicles into bike lanes and forcing cyclists into traffic. A blocked bike lane led to a cyclist’s death in New York in 2018.

“Vehicles may not enter bicycle lanes unless safely turning at an intersection, into a driveway or alley, or entering a legal parking space,” DDOT explains of the proposed rules, in a release. “Vehicles are only allowed to stop in a bicycle [lane] when necessary to enter into a legal parking space or to follow the directions of a police officer.” Residents can comment on the would-be changes through March 11. They are poised to go into effect as early as this spring.

Through Vision Zero, the District has committed to getting rid of traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2024. Traffic deaths in the city have gradually increased over the past four years. Advocates say the key to reducing them is re-engineering streets and enforcing safety rules.