DC’s bike lobby, The Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), which promotes biking and organizes bike activities for fun, quietly acknowledges that biking is dangerous. For those who participate in its bike rides, WABA requires a waiver to release it from liability because, as it says, “bicycling activities involve risks and dangers of serious bodily injury, including permanent disability, paralysis, and death.” See the waiver below.

A non-profit corporation, WABA was recently declared a lobby organization authorized to lobby elected officials. It receives city grants in excess of $1M annually. WABA is the foremost proponent of the controversial bike lane network throughout the city. It backed the law known as Vision Zero, requiring the city to reduce traffic fatalities, and as fatalities climb, so do WABA’s demands for bike lanes.

Even as WABA quietly acknowledges inherent hazards, it publicly demands the city provide for dangerous activity on dangerous streets. In pursuit of this conflicted objective, the city is recklessly installing bike lanes in every neighborhood without the benefit of a waiver.

In planning for the city, one would expect officials to consider the hazards of street traffic. On the contrary, the Council last year made it legal for bikers to run stop signs. Last month, to compensate for underused bike lanes, the Council authorized rebates for motorized e-bikes, although they speed as fast as cars and are powered by batteries that explode in fires.

Recently, parents have claimed bike lanes as play spaces for children. “Look both ways when crossing the street” is warning enough that streets are dangerous and that there are limits to the protections the city can provide. WABA opposes a requirement that riders wear helmets because it would discourage biking. Over the century, regulations have made driving safer with requirements, for example, for child car seats. Where are the child seats on bikes? Are children not at risk when transported by bike? The so-called ‘protected’ bike lanes are dangerous for adults, let alone children. The Administration has stopped short of saying bike lanes are safe for children because it cannot say it.

It is time for responsible leadership to come forward. The DC Safe Streets Coalition demands the Council regulate bikes with registration, licensing, insurance, and protective gear.

The Council has scheduled a hearing on four bills with a focus on car traffic on Thursday, Oct. 26, to hear from city officials, though the seat of District Transportation Director is vacant. The hearing record remains open for public comment until Nov. 10.

October 24, 2023

Nick DelleDonne
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WABA waiver: Sign this waiver to participate in this WABA event

In consideration of being permitted to participate in any way in the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) sponsored Bicycling Activities, I, for myself, my personal representatives, assigns, heirs, and next of kin:

  1. Acknowledge, agree, and represent that I understand the nature of Bicycling Activities and that I am qualified, in good faith, and in proper physical condition to participate in such Activity. I further acknowledge that the Activity will be conducted over public roads and facilities, open to the public during the Activity and upon which the hazards of traveling are to be expected. I further agree and warrant that if, at any time, I believe conditions to be unsafe, I will immediately discontinue further participation in the Activity.
  2. Fully understand that (a) bicycling activities involve risks and dangers of serious bodily injury, including permanent disability, paralysis, and death (“Risks“), and (b) these Risks and dangers may be caused by my own actions or inactions, the actions or inactions of others participating in the Activity, the condition in which the Activity takes place, or the negligence of the “Releasees” named below. (c) there may be other risks and social and economic losses, either not known to me or not readily foreseeable at this time, and I fully accept and assume all such Risks and responsibility for losses, costs, and damages I incur as a result of my participation, or that of the minor in the Activity.
  3. Hereby release, discharge, and covenant not to sue WABA, their respective administrators, directors, agents, officers, members, volunteers, and employees, other participants, any sponsors ( including Recreation Equipment, Inc. (REI), advertisers, and the owners, including Douglas Jamal property managers (including Lincoln Property Company) Lessor and Lessees of the premises on which the Activity takes place (each considered one of the “Releasees” herein) from all liability, claims demands losses or damages on my account caused or alleged to be caused in whole, or in part by the negligence of the Releasee‘s or otherwise, including negligent rescue operations, and I further agree that if dispute this release and waiver of liability assumption and release an indemnity agreement, I, or anyone on my behalf, makes a claim against any of the Release I will indemnify, save and hold harmless each of the Releasees from any litigation expenses, attorney fees, loss, liability, damage, or cost which any may incurred as a result of such claim. . . .