Bill to Expand DC Cyclists' and Pedestrians' Rights Advances

A proposal to expand cyclists' and pedestrians' rights when they are hit by cars advanced Tuesday in the D.C. Council. 

Currently, if D.C. cyclists are found at all at fault in a crash with a car, they are unable to sue the driver. 

The Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow injured cyclists and pedestrians to sue drivers. Similar laws exist in 46 other states.

"This is a big change," Greg Billing of the Washington Area Bicycle Association said. "This recognizes that when people who are walking and biking, if they get injured, they should be fairly compensated for their injuries."

Councilmember Mary Cheh said the bill would expand cyclists' rights. 

"They cannot recover against the automobile that really caused the injury," she said about the approximately 1,600 cyclist and pedestrian crashes every year. 

Cyclist Sue Erickson was hit by a car last year.  

"There was a driver and she was speaking on her cellphone, didn't see me cross the street and she actually hit me," she said. 

Erickson said she was happy the bill advanced. 

"We're moving towards Portland, Oregon, where cyclists have quite a few rights," she said. 

AAA and other auto industry groups say that if approved, the law could raise car insurance premiums by 25 percent. 

The Council will vote again on the bill in about two weeks.

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