Bicyclists Triggering DC Red Light Cameras But Won't Get Tickets

What to Know

  • 1,557 red light cameras have been triggered by cyclists from January 2015 to April 2016.
  • Police do not have a plan to specifically target any intersections for red light enforcement.
  • In 2015, there were more than 60,000 red light camera violations triggered by cars in the District, according to AAA.

Bicyclists triggered red light cameras in the District more than 1,500 times since 2015 according to recent statistics, but those cyclists will never have to pay a ticket because the city has no way to identify them.

Information provided to News4 under a Freedom of Information Act request shows red light camera violations at dozens of intersection across the city.

Some intersections have hundreds of such violations. The red light camera pointed in the westbound direction at Rhode Island Avenue and First Street NW in the Bloomingdale section of D.C. saw 276 violations between January 2015 and April 2016.

The red light camera at 16th Street and Oak Street in Northwest saw 201 violations by cyclists during that time.

The red light camera eastbound on K Street at 27th Street in Northwest saw 173 violations.

In total, 1,557 red light cameras have been triggered by cyclists during that time frame.

"Looking at the numbers, we clearly see this as a safety issue. Not just for our cyclists but also for our motorists and pedestrians," says D.C. Police Director of Communications Dustin Sternbeck.

While there is no plan to specifically target these intersections, D.C. police say they are conscious of the fact that cyclists do pass through red lights.

"If our officers do witness these cyclist violating the law they will be cited on scene," says Sternbeck.

The fine for a vehicle running a red light in the District is $150.

The cycling community offers a reminder, though, to keep things in perspective. In 2015, there were more than 60,000 red light camera violations triggered by cars in the District, according to AAA.

"Let's remember who is injuring and killing people. I know this is hard to hear, but the vast majority -- 99 percent of people who get hit and killed walking, biking or driving -- are committed by drivers," said Greg Billing, of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

"We often feel frustrated that bicyclists are targeted when we know who is the real issue out there, and I know that is going to cause a lot of controversy," Billing said.

A spokesperson for D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh, a member of the transportation committee, said the issue has never been brought to her attention before.

"We're going to follow up with MPD to get more info on this red light camera and ticketing/enforcement concern," wrote Kelly Whittier, Cheh's communications director.

The District Department of Transportation said it encourages all road users to obey traffic signals and signs.

"We will also reinforce appropriate safety behavior through the Vision Zero initiative," wrote DDOT spokesperson Terry Owens, referring to a goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2024.

For Billing, the issue is simple: Do the right thing.

"We literally talk to cyclists every day asking them to follow the rules," he said. "So to my fellow riders: Follow the rules. It makes our job easier."

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