You are receiving this email because you signed up to support WABA's proposed law to address the assault, battery, and harassment of bicyclists in DC. We have worked hard to get the bill introduced, and a hearing on the bill is now scheduled for November 2nd.
As we expected, this law to protect our rights on the roadway will not come without a fight. While there appear to be few opponents of the law, those who do oppose it do so loudly and vigorously, and we are working diligently to counter their arguments and ensure the bill's passage.
We are grateful for your continued support of the law, and to enable you to help even further, here is a list of the objections we have heard, and some counter-arguments that explain why we believe in the law.
- Objection: The current laws aren't enforced by the police. We don't need another unenforced law on the books.
- Response: This bill creates a civil right of action that allows individuals to seek redress through the courts. It is not enforced directly by police and allows cyclists to bring a case in civil court.
- Objection: This seems like a very experimental idea. Has this been tried elsewhere? Response: The law proposed in DC is based directly on a law on-the-books in Los Angeles. More broadly, the fee-shifting approach used here has long precedent in cases where, for one reason or another, the existing legal structure is not working to adequately protect a class of inviduals.
- Objection: Pedestrians are vulnerable on the roadway too. Why shouldn't pedestrians be included?
- Response: WABA does not want any group of people that is being intentionally assaulted, battered, or harassed to fall into the current gap in the legal system in which no redress is available. If this is happening to pedestrians, we have no objection to their inclusion. However, this law addresses intentional assault, battery, and harassment. It does not address inattention, distraction, or other unintentional behaviors. As a bicyclist advocacy group, our efforts focus on the protection of bicyclists--but that should not be construed as opposition to the inclusion of pedestrians.
- Objection: Bicyclists don't follow laws and shouldn't get any special protection until they do.
- Response: Many cyclists do follow the laws, and the presence of some who do not is not a valid argument against protecting those who do. That sort of stereotyping based on class membership cannot be accepted as a valid argument to eliminate legal protections for the entire group. Those who follow the law should not be punished because others do not.
Where you see or hear these objections, please help us by responding with the facts and stating your support of the proposal. We benefit from the broader public's understanding of the issues we face as cyclists and the need for this legal response.
Within the legislative system, the next significant step is likely to be the public hearing on the law on November 2 at 11:00 am. It is crucial that many cyclists attend this hearing and speak on the importance of this law by sharing their individual stories. If you are willing to appear at the hearing (or, if you cannot attend in person, provide written testimony) on behalf of this law and/or improved enforcement of bicycling laws generally, please CLICK HERE to let us know. We will provide further details on the process and assist, as needed, those who wish to provide testimony. (If your browser has trouble with the form, you can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Thank you again for your support,