D.C.

Cyclists call for barriers to prevent U-turns on Pennsylvania Ave.

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It's been nearly six months since the D.C. government made it illegal for drivers to make U-turns across the bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Photo from Bill Walsh's video.

MPD says it enforces the law, but cyclists say it's not enough. They say a video of a near miss shows the need for a safety barrier.

Commuting to work last week, cyclist Bill Walsh nearly collided with a car making an illegal U-turn. He says he was thrilled to see the driver pulled over and the law enforced.

And the video he posted of the incident has gone viral among biking enthusiasts.

“I ride this almost every day and it's rare that I don't see an illegal U turn through the lane,” says Brian Gurndstrom, a cyclist.

He described a near miss he had.

“I slammed on my brakes, and came this close to hitting him,” Gurndstrom says.

Some cyclists accuse cab drivers of being the worst offenders.

But many drivers claim ignorance. And some seem to think the ‘No U-turn’ signs only apply to intersections, where they're posted.

MPD says its unit dedicated to enforcing this law has so far this year issued more than 100 citations, with a fine of $100.

But the Washington Area Bicyclist Association says what the bike lanes need most is a safety barrier.

“We know that cyclists are taking other routes because they don't feel safe using this facility,” says Greg Billing, Washington Area Bicyclist Association Advocacy Coordinator. “This is America's Main Street, and it's a beautiful example of what can be done to make cycling safer. It's just not being done correctly.”

To put in barriers, however, DDOT must first get approval from the feds - the Commission on the Fine Arts, the Federal Highway Administration, law enforcement and others.

But some suggest the mayor's office should just ignore all that and make safety improvements now.

“We don't have the jurisdiction, we can't do that,” says Pedro Ribeiro, Director, D.C. Office of Communications. “You can't break the law. While it may feel good to say ‘sure, just put them in,’ what would happen is we'd have to tear them back out again.”

Bill Walsh says he never could have imagined his video would go viral, attracting more than a million views in just a matter of days. Still, he's hopeful all the attention it's getting will lead to a solution.

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